Monday, February 29, 2016

Voters likely to cast ballots against, not for, the candidate of their choice

There’s only one thing I’m sure about with regards to Election ’16 – I don’t think anybody is going to be pleased with the outcome.

Who do we hate more? going to be ...
Heck, I’m convinced that 99.999999 percent of all people who bother to vote will be doing so because there’s someone on the ballot to whom the thought of that individual as president of the United States will thoroughly repulse them.

“PRESIDENT HILLARY,” OR the very thought of it may be the only way that Donald Trump actually wins the general election come November. Or the only way in which Bernie Sanders actually wins the primary elections coming up in the next few weeks

That is, unless the thought of “President Trump” is so repulsive to people that they wind up holding their noses when they cast their ballot either for “that broad” or “that f*@%# socialist.”

Then again, will the idea of having an admitted (as in he doesn’t think it something to be ashamed of) socialist as president be the only way that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump can actually win an election.

Whatever happened to the days when an election was about picking the person we thought was best qualified to hold a political post? Instead, “Who do you hate more?” seems to be the guiding philosophy people use when deciding who to vote for.

I’M SERIOUS. THIS weekend, I stumbled across the news reports indicating that former New Jersey Gov. Christine Whitman fully intends to support Hillary Clinton for president if Trump actually manages to win the Republican nomination.

Of course, this came in response to the fact that current New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave his endorsement to Trump – the man who back when he was a presidential candidate himself said that The Donald was unfit to be U.S. president.

... key question on minds of voters ...
He hates the idea of the second coming of President Clinton that much!

There also was the New York Times report about how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is preparing a strategy to ensure that the presence of Trump on the ballot does not hurt the re-election chances of incumbent Republican senators.

IT’S ALREADY BEING billed by some political observers as McConnell’s strategy to undermine the Trump candidacy – which he allegedly would hate so much that he’d rather have a “President Hillary R. Clinton.”

... as they cast ballots March 15 in Ill.
That idea strikes me as being a stretch of the imagination, since McConnell is the guy who triggered all the hysteria over the replacement of Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court because he absolutely, positively does NOT want President Barack Obama to be able to make that political appointment.

You’d think that such a strategy would mean going all out for whoever does win the Republican presidential nomination. Otherwise, all it does is put off the inevitable. Unless McConnell’s priority truly is to ensure that control of the U.S. Senate remains in the hands of conservative ideologues operating under the Republican label.

But how much similar hostility will there be to people who hate the idea of Hillary Clinton in control? Particularly if it legitimizes the idea that the Bill Clinton presidency was the victim of partisan political hostility.

HOW MANY TACKY jokes will we have to endure about how a Hillary victory means the need to hide all the girls at the White House, because Bill’s back!!!

Of course, the Chicagoan in me thinks this is not a new trend. Let’s not forget the 1983 election cycle – the one in which so many hard-core Democrats suddenly converted to the Republican Party and Bernard Epton for mayor, “before it’s too late.”

Who gets to redecorate come 2017?
Or if you want a more recent example, think of all the Latino voters who gave Obama those large victory margins in both 2008 and 2012. My ethnic brethren didn’t really like Barack that much – we just didn’t want the idea of either presidents John McCain or Mitt Romney.

This could mean that 2016 winds up acting the same way Latino voters did the past two presidential election cycle. The American people will wind up making a political statement – Who do we hate the most?!?


EDITOR’S NOTE: I still don’t know whom I’m supporting for president, even though I’m likely to show up at an early-voting center some time this week. There are some seriously off-putting characteristics about everybody with delusions of living at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

A “Battle of the Mayoral Rejects?” Or is Bob Fioretti that desperate for a job?

Believe it or not, the residents of the Illinois Senate 5th District (based on the city’s West Side) has the potential to be a battle between candidates who once tried – and failed – to become Chicago’s mayor.

FIORETTI: He needs a job!
Robert Fioretti, the one-time 2nd Ward alderman, got his share of city-wide attention when he was one of the dreamers who tried to depose Rahm Emanuel as mayor in last year’s election cycle.

BECAUSE HE DOESN’T like the idea of being just a former alderman with no current political post, Fioretti has decided to run for a seat in the Illinois Legislature.

VAN PELT-WATKINS: Wants to keep hers
I guess he figures serving in Springfield is better than being a political nobody – even though most people view the Statehouse Scene as the place where you go to get some training and experience before running for higher office in Chicago proper.

In Fioretti’s case, he’s decided to run in this year’s election cycle for an Illinois Senate seat – making him one of the people who votes “aye” to the idea of keeping John Cullerton in his position of authority by supporting him for another bid as Senate president.

To do that, he has to take on the incumbent legislator, who happens to be state Sen. Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins, D-Chicago, a woman who got elected to that post in 2012 – one year after losing her own bid for Chicago mayor in the 2011 election cycle.

YES, SHE WAS one of the half-dozen people who had dreams of replacing Richard M. Daley when he decided not to seek re-election to a seventh term in the post.

Yes, she got her clock cleaned in that election cycle. Then again, Fioretti didn’t exactly inspire voters when he decided to take on Emanuel last year.

He may have had fantasies of capturing the support of those people whose passion was aroused into anger against Emanuel. But he couldn’t even qualify for a run-off election. Jesus Garcia was the legitimate opposition candidate to Rahm. Fioretti was barely more credible than Willie Wilson.

Actually, that’s probably an insult to the reputation of Wilson, for which I owe HIM an apology – not Fioretti.

FIORETTI IS TRYING to make an issue out of what appears to be a Van Pelt-Watkins gaffe – one in which she implied she supports the idea of “right to work” laws being enacted in Illinois. She now says she mis-spoke, and I’m actually inclined to believe her.

Because there have been many instances in my time as a reporter-type person writing about government when I suspected the public officials themselves didn’t truly comprehend what it was they were doing while passing or rejecting new laws.

There’s also the fact that my own memories of Fioretti as an alderman consist of a public official who liked the sound of his own voice.

I really wonder if much of the rants he used to go on about Daley, then Emanuel, were more inspired by the fact that he liked to hear himself talk. Many of his opposition tirades seemed a little too knee-jerk, as in he knew his answer was “no” but wasn’t always sure about why he was in opposition.

THE ONE-TIME LEGISLATIVE correspondent in me thinks the absolute last thing the General Assembly needs is another political blowhard.

It actually reminds me of Rickey Hendon, the one-time West Side alderman who later served several terms in the Illinois Senate. He developed a reputation as an outspoken goof, and we’d jokingly wonder how long it would be until then-Senate Democrat leader Emil Jones would try to have him whacked for his many outbursts.

Is that really the fate that Fioretti aspires to? Because he really comes across as one who is eager to have a government post – any post – to run, just so he can think of himself as a public servant and have a place to go during the day.

Either that, or perhaps his spouse Nicki, wants him out of the house more often.


Friday, February 26, 2016

Has Jesus found Mr. Speaker? Or is the Madigan opponent just too silly for would-be Latino voters to take serious?

I’m intrigued by all the political speculation taking place these days over the fact that Jesus Garcia (as in last year’s failed mayoral candidate) is endorsing the re-election bid of long-time legislator Michael Madigan to his Illinois House seat.

Should it be a mystery that Jesus ...
Madigan, also the speaker of the Illinois House and Illinois Democratic Party chairman, is facing an opponent in Jason Gonzales who is trying to take advantage of the fact that many more Latinos now live in the 22nd Illinois House district down by Midway Airport, and envisions a Spanish-speaking hoard of voters who’d rather have “one of our own” rather than some crusty old Irish guy living in the past.

COULD GARCIA – THE former alderman, state legislator and current county commissioner – actually wind up giving Madigan a boost to help him keep his political posts.

And since Madigan has never really been much of a Garcia backer in the past, what did he give up in exchange for the endorsement?

All the political geeks who spend far too much of their lives pondering such details are convinced that Garcia (who has hinted he’d like to succeed David Orr as Cook County clerk) must have cut a deal for Madigan’s support toward that goal – in exchange for holding his nose while saying we should vote to keep the House speaker in the Legislature.

I found it interesting to read that Garcia told Crain’s Chicago Business “there were no quid pro quos,” and that it was Madigan who specifically asked Garcia to make a public announcement.

BUT I HAVE never heard of any political person who gives up something for nothing. I’m sure there is some expectation, even if nothing has been put in writing. Because if it gets put in writing, some wag will make the argument that it constitutes a bribe and a conspiracy – and that’s the kind of talk that gets ambitious federal prosecutors all worked up.

... took Mr. Speaker more seriously ...
It may well be that Gov. Bruce Rauner is responsible for this political coming together of politicos from the Little Village and Clearing neighborhoods.

For the fact is that Rauner, with all of his hostile talk toward Democratic politicians and his willingness to try to stir up the rest of Illinois against anything having to do with Chicago, may be the unifying force.

Our political structure in Chicago has so many different factions and people who can’t stand each other that it is a wonder the so-called “machine” can work at all. I’ve always said the difference between Republicans and Democrats in this state is that the former is capable of unifying together to work against Chicago.

... than some kid politico ...
WHILE THE LATTER has so many people who inherently can’t stand each other it is no wonder there are times when nothing gets accomplished.

But Rauner has created an environment that may be the unifying factor – even if it is us against HIM – which will certainly create an interesting 2018 election cycle when Rauner would have to face re-election.

Rauner won the 2014 elections largely because many Democratic interests were downright apathetic about the presence of then-Gov. Pat Quinn that they couldn’t be bothered to vote.

Is a Garcia-supporting-Madigan move just evidence of how they’re willing to work together to achieve the ultimate goal – which is dumping the guy who wants to view their existence as a criminal conspiracy that must be taken down!

IN WHICH CASE, a Garcia/Madigan alliance may not be at all unusual. It may even be good to see the political party that has so many different factions finally realizing there is a need for them to consider working together.

It may even be a better Chicago without all the constant in-fighting.

... who compares to a holiday meal?
Of course, there could be one other reason why Garcia would choose to back Madigan – probably the same reason why many Latinos will back Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

They want to be on the side of the winner, who they think will wind up being the incumbent. And maybe Garcia, on some level, just thinks that Gonzales is too much of un pavo to take seriously.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

What’s more scary – Trump thinks Latinos like him? Or that they do?

I’m not sure which concept confounds me the most – the idea that Republican presidential fantasizer Donald Trump believes that Latino voters actually like him?

TRUMP: Thinks Latinos love him
Or the idea that they actually do?

THOSE ARE NOT contradictory concepts. It actually is very possible for both to be true, once we realize that those numbers Trump touts from the Nevada caucus this week (the first state in which there is anything resembling a significant Latino population) are quite so limited.

So it may well be true that those exit polls (the only data available, since no one officially keeps track of the ethnicity of every person who bothers to show up to vote) show more Latinos who participated in the Republican caucus backed Trump instead of any of his GOP opponents.

Not even either of the Cubano boys – Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida – who also have dreams of being the guy who gets to repeal President Barack Obama’s executive orders that tried to impose immigration reform bit by bit.

But the simple fact is that most of the Latinos who bother to get politically involved wind up (often by default) on the Democratic side of the equation.

A STUDY BY the Miami-based Latino Decisions organization put it well – 44 percent Latino support for Trump (the figure he claims) is most likely only about 7 percent of all Latinos.

Which may be more than either Cruz or Rubio got. But it still is a pitiful figure. It would seem the reality is that most Latinos who in Nevada were politically active enough to participate in the caucuses were going for Bernie Sanders – and Trump’s gauche flaunting of his wealth makes him the absolute LAST person they’d ever consider backing on an Election Day.

SANDERS: Likely the real Nev. Latino preference
Although I’m sure more Latinos are interested in Hillary Clinton for president as well, and will wind up backing whichever Democrat prevails come the November general election.

That’s what happens when you kick off you campaign with trash talk about Mexico and Mexicans – all Latinos realize the kind of people who spew such trash talk are too dumb to make nationality distinctions, and are going to be sympathetic all the way around.

SO THE IDEA that Latinos like Trump? Pure caca! Unless you’re Trump, who has shown that fact and truth have no place in the nonsense he’s willing to spew on the campaign trail.

CLINTON: Also preferred by Nev. Latinos
But within the Republican election cycle, I have to admit that I’m more intrigued by the idea that Trump got more Latinos to vote for him than any other individual candidate – including both Cruz and Rubio, who some people think Latinos ought to vote in knee-jerk reaction for.

But if either of them were to win the Republican presidential nomination, I have no doubt that both would find themselves widely ignored by Latino voters nationwide. The perception on both is that they’re so willing to appease the conservative ideologues who have a touch of xenophobic and nativist thought in their ways that both would wind up siding against Latino interests on so many issues.

The crude way to say it is that they both probably wish they were white boys. I’ll be the first to admit there are some Latino people who think, and feel, that way.

That Rubio and Cruz can't take GOP Latino vote ...
BUT RATHER THAN vote for a Latino who shares your self-centered thought process, it seems they picked Trump. Why vote for a Latino white boy-wannabe when they can vote for a real-live white boy like Trump.

Particularly one who’s rich and you can pretend on some level he actually cares about you. Which he really doesn’t – and that’s his appeal to the so-called uneducated vote whom Trump now boasts like him as well.

... from Trump truly is sad
Cruz and Rubio – who I’m sure would resent the Latino label and would prefer to be called Cuban if you want to think of their ethnic origins – can’t even get Latino people just like themselves to support their political dreams.

Which winds up offering aid and comfort to the delusions of those who think that a garish real estate developer from New York is somehow fit to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” on that upcoming cold day of Jan. 20, 2017, when all this presidential campaign trash talk becomes just a collection of bad memories.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

You’d think Arabs pulling off takeover, rather than just sharing in Chicago

I have to admit that the big difference between the Chicago I knew as a kid some four to five decades ago and the one that exists now is the presence of Arabs and, in some cases, Islam.

It doesn’t phase me anymore to see a woman walking down the aisle of the supermarket while wearing a hijab, particularly if she has a slew of kids trailing her whom she’s trying to keep from running roughshod all over the store.

JUST ABOUT LIKE any other mother who happens to include grocery shopping among her day’s errands.

And I also know enough that not every single Arab is Muslim – there are those whose families at some point in time figured that assimilation to a new country included a religious conversion. Besides, most Arabs I have known had their families come to this country to get away from the very same religious fanatics many of us express fear about.
Considering that I always viewed the Chicago area’s great strength as being its multi-ethnic mix of people, I can’t help but think of Arabs as just another ethnic group – and one whose cuisine definitely enhances the style of edibles we are exposed to.

Unless you’re the type of person who thinks Chinese orange chicken or Taco Bell is the extent to which you wish to be exposed to anything "foreign?"

THE SAD THING is that probably is the mentality of some people whose criticism is shouted out so loud that we presume they’re a majority. They’re the ones most likely who keep giving Donald Trump poll leads in his multiple candidate presidential campaigns – even though all the other candidates put together dwarf him.

That’s the thought we ought to remind ourselves of when we consider the latest dispute in suburban Palos Park (the community that feels like it was built out in the middle of the forest preserves) that someone wants to develop a mosque there.

The Muslim American Society bought a property that once was a First Church of Christ Scientist, but had literally been sold off. As in that church didn’t want the property any longer. Nobody forced them out.

Yet there are those who want to think that this is somehow evidence that Muslims are desecrating a Christian church and using it for their own nefarious purposes.

THE SAD PART is that this issue isn’t new. It isn’t just the crackpots being inspired by Donald Trump’s “stupid talk” about Muslims and Arabs not belonging in this country.

I remember back nearly a couple decades ago when officials wanted to build a new structure in nearly Palos Heights to provide a mosque for the growing Arab population in the southwest suburbs – only to have the issue burst into a bigoted mess.

To his credit, then-Mayor Dean Koldenhaven thwarted an effort to use tax dollars to buy out the would-be mosque developers, believing it to be motivated purely by religious prejudice. Of course, he wound up losing his re-election bid, and there are those local residents who remain convinced they did the right thing by doing so.

Such sentiments continue to exist whenever someone brings up the concept of a mosque. Some sentiments just can’t wither away, no matter how stupid.

FROM A PERSONAL perspective, perhaps this is an evolution – since it would seem that Islam is now the exotic faith that scares people, not Catholicism. Although Trump’s willingness to smack about Pope Francis makes me wonder if he wouldn’t mind anti-Catholic sentiment raising its ugly head to bolster his presidential fantasies.

And as someone of Mexican ethnic origins who also has been included as subject matter for Trump tirades, it would seem that the nativists of our society are truly willing to extend their net of hostility towards anybody they can snag.

So as for the ongoing fight over developing a mosque in Palos Park, the details are all so similar that the entire battle seems so predictable. And boring to hear about.

You’d think the xenophobes of our society would come up with something new just to keep themselves intrigued. Although I suppose so long as spewing the same nativist nonsense works time and time again, they’ll keep spewing. Until we, the true majority of our society, come to our senses and stop giving such people any mind.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

EXTRA: Where’s the news?!?

What we saw in the news box
I almost feel like Clara Peller ought to come crawling out of the woodwork to do commercials for the Chicago Tribune – she could be the one bellowing at copies of  the anemic Chicago Sun-Times “Where’s the news?!”

For that would be particularly appropriate on Tuesday, when the “front” page of the newspaper had the “The King’s got a Whopper…” headline along with a giant photo of that ridiculous looking monarch who touts Burger King “food.”

The front page buried behind it
WHEN I FIRST saw that front page, I first thought there was some sort of scandalous story concerning the fast-food chain’s products. Perhaps lame jokes about Chipotle’s mediocre food products were going to become passe, and a new target of gags had come forth.

Then, I saw that the front was actually a four-page wraparound of the REAL newspaper, and that it was totally covered in a Burger King ad – touting the fact that the chain was going to start selling hot dogs.

Lame hot dogs covered in ketchup that have the appearance of those overpriced dogs sold at movie theater concessions stands. Not something I’m the least bit ever anxious to eat.
It certainly made the Tribune's front page of stories about mosque hostility, a suburban school district's boundary issues and Donald Trump's latest nonsense (about the Ricketts family) seem downright substantive by comparison.

I REMEMBER THE time when front page advertising was considered truly garish – something for tacky buffoons to engage in because they didn’t have any news product worth promoting.

You'll get a better hot dog here. All photographs by Gregory Tejeda
Now, we have the idea of the advertising being the primary product on the front – and also on Page Three of the actual newspaper, which was another full-page ad touting those Burger King hot dogs.

Somehow, I sense a flop of magnificent proportions coming upon us – while I realize there are people with a palate weak enough to think something like Domino’s pizza is actually a quality product, I just can’t envision anything from a Burger King appealing to anybody beyond the age of six.

With the Sun-Times so solidly touting this new product, how much does its eventual demise take them down?

AND WHILE I realize that the Sun-Times probably charged a significant amount for this four-page advertising wraparound plus a full-page ad in the newspaper proper, this doesn’t exactly make the newspaper the equivalent of a high-priced call girl.
Proper hot dog condiments
The Bright One comes across more as a cheap floozy who suckered a drunk into overpaying for said services.

Let’s just hope the newspaper is satisfied with their cash flow – as short-lived as it will be.

And somewhere, Clara Peller is rolling over in her grave – even she wouldn’t get involved in an advertisement this tacky!


“Socialist Jew?!?” Are you sure we’re in the correct political party gathering?

It’s scary to think that our presidential election cycle this year is now beginning to bear resemblance to one of the uglier aspects of the 2008 cycle – the fact that some people are prepared to back Hillary Clinton solely because she’s white!

CLINTON: Race all that matters to some
Remember how after a few primaries in the 2008 election cycle, Barack Obama had built up a lead and some momentum? Yet the reality is he didn’t actually clinch the Democratic Party’s nomination until the very end when all the primaries and caucuses were complete.

THAT’S BECAUSE THINGS reached a stalemate of sorts about half-way through the process. Many of those states who came up later in the election cycle and usually are irrelevant (because the nomination has been all but clinched by then) were suddenly very relevant.

And many voters in those states, realizing that their political party could wind up nominating a black man (I don’t want to hear from those who will argue that Obama technically is bi-racial with a white mother), suddenly started giving Hillary Clinton a second look.

She started winning more votes. She slowed the process by which Obama ultimately was nominated. There was the sense that some people who want to use the label of Democrat and think of themselves in progressive terms just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a black man.

Are we going to see something similar happen in this election cycle?

ADMITTEDLY, CLINTON’S OPPONENT this time around isn’t a black man. But as a precinct captain in Clark County, Nev., told a gathering of would-be voters prior to the weekend’s caucuses, the reason not to vote for Bernie Sanders is because he’s a “socialist Jew.”

OBAMA: He won, despite issue
As in, he ain’t a real person, which is defined by some as being white, and possibly even Protestant (although others think they’re being big and generous by including Catholics).

Could it be that such a sentiment could spread to other states – including our very own Illinois where our primaries are scheduled for three weeks from Tuesday? Could this wind up influencing the political party whose members like to think they’re above such thought?

It has me remembering a person who speculated to me about a month ago who said the only chance Donald Trump truly has to become president is if the Democrats nominate the senator from Vermont because this country isn’t ready to accept someone who does not think of the label of “socialist” as something to renounce

UNLIKE SANDERS, WHO in his Senate service has wound up being part of the Democratic caucus only because otherwise he’d be all alone if he tried to have a Socialist caucus within Congress.

WASHINGTON: Experienced similar reaction
Is this going to be the reason many people will wind up convincing themselves to vote for Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president? So that they don’t have to learn to make the distinction between Socialism and Communism?

I accept that the kind of people who these days identify themselves as Republicans aren’t the least bit interested in making that distinction, or really understanding what socialism is.

Which is why I would expect the idea of attacks based on Sanders being a “socialist Jew” to step up once the primary cycle is over and we have to start seeing the Democratic and Republican nominees take each other on.

THERE IS ONE positive aspect to this issue – the Jewish Week newspaper reported on the incident in Nevada, and said that the caucus-goers actually voted to stop the precinct captain in question from speaking the moment he uttered his Sanders attack.

SANDERS: An educational moment for society
It seems some people were appalled enough by the utterance (or perhaps scared by what it represents about themselves) that they put a stop to it. Yet let’s not forget that Clinton won those Nevada caucuses – which supposedly put a halt to any electoral momentum Sanders might be gaining.

This kind of reminds me of the Chicago mayoral elections of the 1980s when Harold Washington was on the ballot and could never seem to gain as many votes in white parts of Chicago as he might sense he’d get on the campaign trail. He said he suspected many white voters said the right things, but then walked into the voter booth and just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for a black face.

Is the thought of a president wearing a yarmulke going to create the same resistance? We’ll have to see just how much hostility we still have in our 21st Century society.


Monday, February 22, 2016

EXTRA: Kirk, Ricketts family, both on political 'naughty' list -- does the GOP like anybody these days?

So it seems that Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., is choosing to side with the latter part of his identifier, rather than the former.

KIRK: Chose state over party; will it hurt him?
As in he’s an Illinoisan more than a Republican.

FOR KIRK ON Monday took a stand with regards to the replacement of Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court of the United States.

As is turns out, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Kirk says he wants President Barack Obama to make a nomination to the high court later this spring, with the U.S. Senate to review that nomination probably sometime during the summer.

The new justice could be in place long before Election Day, the way Kirk sees it.

Of course, that creates the political dynamic of having Kirk challenge the leadership of his own political party – as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was quick to claim the post should be left vacant for the rest of this year.

AFTER ALL, HE wants the chance of a Republican president in this year’s elections making the appointment as one of his first actions upon victory. Presuming, of course, that a Republican actually wins the November election.

Now this shouldn’t really be a surprise, because Kirk has never been as hardline ideologue as some of his Republican caucus colleagues when it comes to social issues. He is a former military man, which likely is the primary reason he chooses to be a Republican even though he’s from a Democrat-leaning state.

So the fact that he doesn’t want to give either Tammy Duckworth or Andrea Zopp an issue to use against him come the general election cycle makes his public statements predictable.

Who is more angered? Mitch at Mark, or...
Particularly since Kirk also said he thinks any person nominated to the high court by Obama ought to be of a moderate political persuasion. Meaning the leftist ideologues might have to temper their fantasies of a societal takeover.

BUT THIS CAN have consequences because it means Kirk is challenging the hardline that his political party wanted to take – NOTHING for Obama! Could it be the party bigwigs wind up putting the pressure on the big money influences that offer support to Republican candidates; ensuring they cut off Kirk’s share of the cash flow from the political spigot?

Could he wind up hampered enough to the point where he can’t compete against the possibility of an adequately-funded campaign by either Duckworth or Zopp (it’s not going to be Napoleon Harris – no matter how much the one-time NFL football player fantasizes about going to Washington, D.C).

... Trump at the Ricketts?
It seems Kirk is putting his stake in getting the love of Illinois residents, rather than that of his political party, which is likely to start treating him like a pariah!

Probably similar to how would-be Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump is trying to treat the Ricketts family. They’re the wealthy ones from Nebraska, with several of their children living in the Chicago area, who have as a hobby their ownership of the Chicago Cubs.

THE RICKETTS ARE the type of wealthy people who like to express themselves with their checkbooks – and in this election cycle have given money to the presidential dreams of Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Lindsay Walker, Chris Christie, Rick Perry and Marco Rubio.

In short, they’ve backed just about everybody EXCEPT Trump. Who doesn’t need their campaign money. But it’s the principle – how dare they express political love for everybody BUT him!

Will Wrigley Field protect from Wrath of Trump?!?
Trump used a Twitter account, according to the Chicago Tribune, to publicly make his criticism, writing that the Ricketts’ family, “better be careful, they have a lot to hide!”

Which makes me wonder what kind of retribution he has planned for people who aren’t “loyal” to his ideals. Perhaps he’s the type who’d seek payback against Kirk for suggesting that Trump himself shouldn’t be entitled to make the Supreme Court pick all by himself without the “advise and consent” of the U.S. Senate.


How much times have changed politically. Bernie proud of protest bust

There would have been a time when a candidate seeking government office would have considered it a political death if word got out that they once took part in a political protest.

And the thought that there were pictures of the candidate in question being cuffed by police officers who are hauling him off to jail? You can forget about that guy ever being able to think of running for office again.

YET TIMES TRULY do change, it seems.

For that is the situation presidential dreamer Bernie Sanders, the senator from  Vermont who has proudly used the socialist label to describe his political leanings, is now in.

Kartemquin Films found it had footage of a protest that took place on Aug. 5, 1963 at 73rd Street and Lowe Avenue, with one of the protesters bearing a strong resemblance to what we’d think a youthful Sanders would look like.

Also, the Chicago Tribune went digging through their own archives and found that one of their photographers took pictures of that protest. One of which is the “money shot,” so to speak, of a protester in handcuffs being taken away.

THE PROTESTER IN question in that shot? A then-student at the nearby University of Chicago by the name of Bernie Sanders.

I’m sure if Sanders were seeking the Republican nomination for anything, his reaction would be different. For that matter, if any of those knuckleheads seeking the presidency were to have been in a protest way back then, we’d be hearing the apologies now.

Now they were experiencing a moment of youthful ignorance, and how they now know better than to do anything so disrespectful as to express opposition to the establishment.

Which is a sentiment that many of those conservative ideologues really believe, even though such expression of opposition is about as “American” a concept as exists.

BUT BERNIE IS wishing to be the Democratic nominee, and one who sees how his past actions can actually be used to bolster the image he wants to create for himself as he tries to avoid losing the early momentum he gained from victories or near victories in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Because one of the raps against the Vermont politico is that he’s an old white guy who’s really not all that in tune with the interests or concerns of black people.

As it turns out, Sanders was arrested while protesting the “Willis Wagons.” Which to anyone who knows their Chicago history was that 1960s effort by Chicago Public Schools officials to thwart efforts to truly integrate the schools racially.

When the black neighborhood schools became too cramped, rather than move the overflow to schools in white neighborhoods (let’s not forget that many white families were already using the Catholic school system to keep away from people not like themselves), school officials erected mobile homes in the parking lot to use as extra classroom space.

THE THEN-SUPERINTENDENT of the Chicago Public Schools back then was Benjamin Willis – hence the use of the “Willis Wagon” monicker to denounce the practice.

The practice eventually created such a backlash that it drove Willis out-of-town. And when Willis died decades later, his obituaries all led with the fact that he was the namesake of the wagons.

The ones that caused the liberal-minded college student to spend a day in the Englewood neighborhood to protest – and be obnoxious enough that the police felt compelled to take him away.

And now, he wants it to help bolster his “liberal” credentials against Hillary – whose own ‘ancient history’ credentials include once being a youthful member of the Congressional staff that looked into impeachment for then-President Richard M. Nixon concerning Watergate.

SO A LOW-LEVEL Watergate staffer versus someone who ‘went to jail’ (even if it was just a couple of hours in a South Side police district holding cell) to picket something still considered locally repulsive some five decades later?

Who knows? It may actually get Bernie a couple of extra votes in Chicago!


Saturday, February 20, 2016

EXTRA: More homeless in Chicago?

A Chicago spring. Photo by Gregory Tejeda
I realize that homeless people begging for spare change is a part of the urban landscape, and the idea of someone destitute enough to beg juxtaposed with the wealth of the Loop isn’t at all odd.

Yet I couldn’t help but notice one woman who on Saturday chose a very prominent place to set up shop and request money from people – State and Madison.

YES, STATE STREET and Madison Street – that point from which Chicago’s street grid originates. The point from which it spreads in all directions (albeit the easternmost stretch is only a couple of blocks away before one runs into Lake Michigan).

I was in downtown Chicago Saturday afternoon, and couldn’t help but notice the many people seeking my change. Including one couple whose cardboard sign billed them as a father and daughter both in need of money for a meal.

Yet something about the woman at State and Madison, with her sign and her plastic bag containing her possessions and using the signpost to lean up against while she hoped for some change just somehow seemed wrong.

While some people on Saturday were all obsessed with whether or not Hillary Clinton could keep her campaign wishes alive (apparently, she did), I somehow suspect there are others to whom it literally won’t matter who wins the primary and general election to be held later this year.

THEY ALREADY HAVE sunk to the bottom, and who knows if they’ll ever be able to climb back up in life.

Before you say that’s not of your concern, keep in mind that our society as a whole isn’t any stronger than its weakest link.

This woman reminded me of one I encountered about a month ago – when I was in the Loop to meet up with some old friends for lunch at the Berghoff restaurant. When she hit me up for money for food, I would have felt like a complete dirtbag if I had walked right on by to eat well.

I wound up giving her a $10 bill, and still remember the glee she expressed because that would be enough money to get her a pizza. I haven’t seen that woman since, but I hope she enjoyed that bit of mozzarella with sauce.

AS FOR MY encounter on Saturday, I couldn’t help but reach into my pocket for spare change. She seemed pleased with the roughly $1.50 I tossed into her can before snapping the above photograph.

An image of Chicago I wish I could say was a rare one, or one I wouldn’t see often enough in the future!


Let’s offer some praise to only entity that’s shown any sense in Cruz battle

There is one entity thus far that has shown any sense with regards to the ongoing controversy over whether Texas senator Ted Cruz is eligible to serve as U.S. president.

CRUZ: Still on the ballot
Our very own Illinois State Board of Elections heard a complaint saying that Cruz should not be on the Republican primary ballot come March 15 because he’s really a Canadian – even though his mother is as clearly a U.S. citizen as anyone can be, and she (unfortunately for us) conveyed that sense of entitlement to her son, Teodoro.

OUR VERY OWN state election officials had the sense to quickly dismiss the complaint; the action that resulted in the lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court in which oral arguments were heard on Friday.

Of course, there was no ruling of any sort by Judge Maureen W. Kirby in large part because the man who brought about the legal action says he can’t afford to remain in Chicago to deal with the legal wrath he wrought.

In fact, he says he can’t come back to the Daley Center courthouse until early March. All of which makes me think this lawsuit has nothing to do with the legal merits over whether Cruz qualifies as a “natural born citizen” to run for the U.S. presidency.

This crock of a legal issue is something the ideologues want to prolong just as they did the whole argument over whether Barack Obama was really born within the United States.

IT IS SOMETHING they want to toss about to cast aspersions on the senator from Texas (as though there aren’t enough legitimate reasons to think he’s unfit, the ideologues want to make stuff up).

To that end, being able to say a case is pending in the courts that challenges Cruz’ campaign legitimacy is to their benefit. They can use the case’s existence as a piece of hard fact to justify their ongoing arguments.

But the instance judge Kirby comes up with a ruling, it hurts the ideologues. Gee, the judge may actually wind up concluding that the ideologues calling Cruz a Canadian (when he’s more Cubano than anything else) are wrong.

Why do I suspect Picasso statue giggled at thought of legal nonsense that was spewed in court on Friday?
Admittedly, the ideologues would then take the case to an appellate court and start the legal appeals to try to drag this out through the 2016 campaign cycle. But it would be a loss for them.

SO DO I particularly take seriously the existence of this lawsuit – one in which a man who lives near Belvidere in rural northern Illinois is basing a case on the argument that having citizenship from birth because of one’s mother is NOT the same as being a U.S.-born citizen.

Even though my mind cannot comprehend how they aren’t the same. From the day he was born, Cruz was able to stake a claim to U.S. citizenship. Even if his mother physically was in the Alberta, Canada city of Calgary at the moment she went into labor.

To claim otherwise makes one look foolish. And winds up strengthening the presidential case for Cruz – who is more than capable of looking like a fool without anyone else’s help.

But the ideologues want to prolong this nonsense issue, just as how some of them persist in arguing that Obama is less than legitimate in their eyes.

SO WE HAD no ruling Friday on Cruz’ status. Not that anyone should have expected it. This is not the kind of issue that gets resolved in a courtroom in the shadow of that Picasso statue.

OBAMA: The same, but different
This is an issue that will not be resolved by the courts at all. Certain people are going to be determined to believe whatever form of ideological nonsense they want to spew. This will be ongoing regardless of what any court decides.

Perhaps even if Cruz were to somehow win the presidency. They’d still throw the nonsense issue into his face, perhaps even from their new homes in Canada that they'll threaten to move to if Election '16 doesn't go their way.

Only somehow, I’d like to think that Calgary already feels fortunate enough not to have to claim Cruz as a native son, and would probably turn away these ideologue nincompoops as well.