Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Is Illinois ready for Pawar? Are Dems ready for ’18 governor campaign?

Chicago-area Democrats have one thing going for them when it comes to the 2018 election cycle when Illinois picks a new governor – incumbent Bruce Rauner who likes to let us know how much we’re supposed to hate Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is despised almost as much.
PAWAR: Illinois' first Indian-American gov?

Rauner may have a personal fortune from his time as a venture capitalist, but no one out there is really going to be enthused about wanting him back for another term in office.

IF THE ’16 presidential cycle devolved into the campaign about “Who Do We Hate the Most?,” the ’18 battle for Illinois governor will be even worse.

I don’t doubt that the other 96 counties of Illinois will lean against anything having to do with Chicago or the local Democratic organization. But the level of contempt that Rauner has aroused within the six-county Chicago area is strong, too.

And let’s not forget that those six counties do account for about two-thirds of the state’s population – with Cook County alone being nearly half the state’s people.

But whether that will be sufficient that people should think Rauner’s re-election bid has the stink of death over it similar to how soon-to-be former Sen. Mark Kirk’s campaign did this year has yet to be determined.

THE ONE THING that Rauner’s re-election bid has going for it is that we don’t have a clue who the Democrats will find to run for governor. Particularly since veteran Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., has decided he wants to remain as a part of the Illinois political establishment in D.C. – rather than be the so-called CEO of state government.

Will governor learn people like him less...

The lack of a credible challenger is to the point where the Politico newspaper took seriously the talk that 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar wants to run for governor.

Pawar, the suburban Evanston-born son of immigrants from India, is now in his second term in the City Council, and apparently thinks he can replicate his initial electoral victory of 2011 – back when he beat long-time Alderman Eugene Schulter on a puny campaign fund.

In part, he had the appeal of being the first Asian (let alone Indian) elected to the City Council. He has been able to maintain a bit of a progressive image as he has served as alderman. He has been among the most interesting of public officials to serve in the council in recent years.
... than they do the Ill. House speaker?

YET I ALSO don’t doubt that all the things that are his strengths as a Chicago alderman will be turned into negatives if he tries to run an Illinois statewide campaign.

Particularly since I don’t doubt that the masses of Southern Illinois who helped remove most of the remaining rural Democrats serving in the General Assembly will be willing to hold Pawar’s ethnicity against him. After all, this is the new Era of Trump in which we no longer give much credence to such considerations!

I don’t think the “Little India” community along Devon Avenue is enough to propel a statewide campaign for public office. And if Pawar seriously thinks he can go knocking on doors all across Illinois to introduce himself, he’ll find out just how big (500 miles long, 350 miles wide) the state is.

There’s also the inevitable tie that Rauner will try to make (and that rural residents will be gullible enough to believe) that Pawar is nothing more than a political lackey to Mayor Rahm Emanuel (who lives in Pawar’s ward) and, by extension, Madigan.

THE REALITY IS that people in Chicago Democratic politics tolerate each other, at best. They don’t really know how to play nice. I remember back when Susana Mendoza was a state legislator whom Madigan thought of as a bit of an annoyance and he was glad to see her leave state government for the city clerk’s post.
KENNEDY: Will he ever campaign?

Yet Rauner spewed the nonsense that she was a Madigan puppet to the point where it was obvious Mendoza didn’t get the same Democratic coat-tails from Hillary Clinton’s presence on the ballot that Senate candidate Tammy Duckworth did.

Consider that if Pawar has his weaknesses, he gets taken seriously at this point because there’s no one else. Billionaire J.B. Pritzker (as in the Hyatt Hotels chain) has never run for office before. And as for Christopher Kennedy (nephew of JFK and son of Bobby), the one-time manager of the then-family-owned Merchandise Mart likes the idea of being thought of as a candidate for office – but has never shown the willingness to put in the work of an actual campaign.

All of which means that if Democrats are to put up a credible candidate for governor two years from now, it probably will be somebody whose name hasn’t cropped up yet. Let’s not forget that we didn’t hear of Rauner until March of the year before he managed to defeat Pat Quinn for the political post.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Does Trump think he can keep up the racial/ethnic hostilities for 4 years?

I’m seeing a lot of a video snippet these days that it seems everybody feels compelled to put on the Internet – that bit of the woman shopping at the Michael’s crafts store in the Lakeview neighborhood who goes on a profane diatribe because she thinks she’s being abused by the store’s black employees.
TRUMP: Used intolerant label, now must live w/ it

Of course, watching the video, it seems the only person who’s being abusive is this lady, who happens to be white and probably doesn’t deserve to be thought of as a lady. But during her diatribe, she comes out and says she’s being picked on by black people because she supported the presidential aspirations of Donald J. Trump.

MANY OF THE people who felt the need to post this video did so out of a sense of wanting to show how outrageous and over-the-top the Donald Trump people are capable of being in their behavior.

They seem to side with the store’s management, which it seems remained calm in the face of a hysterical customer.

It kind of reminds me of my old days working in retail when bosses would pass on to me the old Marshall Fields’ slogan “The Customer is Always Right.” Which in my mind always translated to, “The Customer is Usually a Pompous Buffoon.”

Even if I always managed to keep this to myself during the stints I worked in retail many years ago at a suburban Carson, Pirie, Scott location and also in stores at the Water Tower mall on North Michigan Avenue.

THIS WOMAN SURELY showed herself capable of behaving poorly. Although I suspect in her own mind, she will forevermore remember the incident as the time she “told off” the incompetent pygmies who worked at that store and stood up for herself in the face of victimization.

Which may well be the scariest part of the whole Trump political phenomenon – the people who banded together into a group large enough to give Trump a victory even though a majority of voters wanted Hillary Clinton really want to think of themselves as the victims!

Which also means they want to use their newfound political influence to be punitive. It’s not an exaggeration to say their interpretation of “Make America Great Again” probably means elimination of many of the measures that civil rights activists fought decades to obtain.

I’m sure even Trump should be thought of in that way. This was the man who started out his campaign activity with vicious slanders against people in this country from Mexico, and now seems to want to continue that line of attack.

BECAUSE I KNOW there are many nitwits in our society who are desperate to use the label “illegal” to the existence of people from Latin American nations (and “no,” I don’t think those ideological twits are capable of distinguishing the 23 different countries of the Americas).

So when Trump spewed his nonsense this weekend that the only reason he didn’t win the popular vote is because of, “millions of people who voted illegally,” I have no doubt he’s trying to appeal to people such as our woman in the Michael’s video who want to believe that a just society is one that regards their existence as superior to that of all others.

Even though I’d argue that this nation probably would go up a notch or two if we were to deport her back to whatever nation her grandparents (or maybe great-grandparents) came from.

Not that anybody is seriously proposing that. It would be as absurd as just about everything that comes out of Trump’s mouth, or off his computer keys when he feels compelled to type out a pithy (in his mind) one-liner on Twitter.

THIS KIND OF hostility and ugliness is something we’re going to encounter quite a bit in coming years – at least until we can do the next election cycle and replace Trump with someone more credible.

Not that we’re going to give in to this kind of nonsense. If anything, I’m motivated by the numbers of people who are offended. It makes me realize that the so-called “silent majority” is really neither.

They’re at least 2 million people fewer than those who’d rather be preparing for the Hillary Clinton administration. And after watching this woman’s diatribe, silent is the last thing you’d ever call them!


Monday, November 28, 2016

EXTRA: On to Pa.! Then Mich.?

Jill Stein seems to be determined to make a bigger splash post-election than she did on Election Day.
How did we shift from this ...

Stein was the Green Party’s nominee for president, and she did poorly enough that even Libertarian Gary Johnston came out looking more credible than her. But Stein is now the one taking on the effort to challenge voter tallies in hopes of finding more Electoral College support to keep Donald Trump out of the White House.

IT WAS STEIN’S group that challenged the election results in Wisconsin, and on Monday said it would do the same in 100 precincts in Pennsylvania – willing to bet she can prove that places like Erie, Reading and Scranton/Wilkes Barre didn’t band together to produce more votes than did Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

Considering that Trump supposedly took 49 percent of Pa. votes and Hillary Clinton took 48 percent, it wouldn’t take much of a shift. Although to have Stein, whose own campaign garnered a whopping (heavy sarcasm intended) 0.82 percent of the vote, in charge of the movement now still seems a stretch.

It would take a shift of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan in the Electoral College to impact the actual outcome of the presidential elections; which I still say is a big stretch to have to make in a matter of days.

I’m still not getting my hopes up on such an outcome.

BUT IT WOULD be a crowd-pleaser personally to learn that the Great Lakes states – my own home region – didn’t suddenly go stupid. Since the Trump types would have us believe that Illinois and Minnesota were the lone states that didn’t see the wisdom of the isolationist message they were pushing.
... to here in eight short years?

I’d like to think those Midwestern states around the Great Lakes know better, particularly since one of the factors that led to Barack Obama’s solid electoral victory in 2008 was that he managed to unite ALL the Great Lakes states.

Even Indiana – which usually is knee-jerk Republican and this year takes “pride” in being the first state officially called for the Trump camp! – managed to see the merits of “hope” and “change” back then.

Which the Trump camp seems to think was part of what made America not so great – in their estimation!


Will recount appease anyone? Or do we have to wait for ‘President’ Simpson?

Our neighbors to the north seem to want to be the political guinea pig, so to speak, of the presidential election cycle. Officials in Wisconsin are talking of wanting to recount the roughly 2.9 million ballots cast in that state for U.S. president.
Should we count down the days to Simpson administration?

The theory is that enough flawed votes can be found to shift the Nov. 8 election results from the 48 percent for Donald Trump and 47 percent for Hillary Clinton so that Hillary winds up prevailing.

HILLARY CLINTON WOULD wind up getting the 10 Electoral College votes from Wisconsin that will be cast Dec. 19 in Madison.

If you want to believe the wild-eyed fantasies of political zealots, a shift in Wisconsin could also motivate people in Michigan and Pennsylvania to take a closer look at the votes cast in their states to see if all those people in rural parts of those states really were large enough to overcome the votes of places like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Detroit.

If you really could prove such a large scale of improper activity caused that many votes to be counted wrong, you’d be alleging a criminal conspiracy on an unheard of scale and one that literally would call for the incarceration of Donald J. Trump.

Which would be ironic considering he was the one who got his followers all whipped up into a frenzy at the thought of “locking up” Hillary Clinton.

YES, I’M BEING over-the-top here in my choice of language, because I think it highly unlikely that anyone could prove such a large-scale illegal act occurred. And also could do so in the short amount of time required to have any effect on an election.
STEIN: She wants to recount Wisconsin

If somebody comes along in mid-February with the “evidence” that says something criminal took place to tamper with the elections, it won’t mean a thing. Trump would already have been sworn in by then, and would actually have presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for anything.

He’d have to be impeached and removed from office, and I doubt the Republican ideologues would be willing to do a thing that would undermine their own political power. In today's political mentality, Richard M. Nixon himself would be safe.

For what it’s worth, the talk of a recount in Wisconsin is being led by Jill Stein. She was the Green Party presidential nominee, and for what it’s worth she only got 1 percent of the vote in that state. Heck, even Libertarian Gary Johnston (at 3 percent) cleaned her clock, so to speak!
CLINTON: Willing to play along w/ recount

ADVISERS TO HILLARY Clinton have said the former Democratic candidate for president will support talk of a recount, but doesn’t expect there to be any significant shift in voter tallies.

If anything, she says she wants the recount to assure the American public that nothing illegal actually took place – and the fact that she got some 2 million more votes than Trump but still lost is merely a quirk of our electoral system. Perhaps Trump should have kept his mouth shut during the election cycle and not the idea in anyone’s mind that elections could be “rigged!”

One which is meant to protect people from tyranny by the masses – it is meant to prevent any one group from becoming too powerful. Although it could be argued that it sure didn’t work back when it was black people who were the minority who were abused by the political masses.

The fact that it is working to protect the one-time majority from being overcome by a growing part of our society sucks. But it is the set of rules by which our system works.

I HAVE TO admit to being skeptical of a recount because this isn’t 2000. That election cycle by which George W. Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore but won the Electoral College anyway was a close battle that literally came down to one state.
TRUMP: Shouldn't have said elections 'rigged'

It’s a shame that Florida got resolved by the Supreme Court of the United States cutting off any efforts to do a serious recount – it created the perception amongst many that the Bush presidency was less than legitimate. Although Trump's crazed behavior (particularly his claim that foreigners who had no business voting cost him the popular vote) threatens his own legitimacy.

Trump will be able to claim a legitimacy in that he garnered the support of the segment of society that flexed its muscle to ensure it can continue to bully those not like themselves. Or course, there is one thing for us to look forward to – and that it is that episode of “The Simpsons” from 2000 that jokingly told us a Donald Trump presidency was in our future.

Could it also mean there’s a “Lisa Simpson” out there somewhere waiting to succeed Trump and set everything straight again?


Saturday, November 26, 2016

EXTRA: Castro step-down a let-down

EDITOR’S NOTE: This commentary was originally published Feb. 19, 2008 by The South Chicagoan, a sister weblog to this site that focuses on issues of concern to the growing Latin American population in this country. The fact that long-time Cuba dictator Fidel Castro finally departed this realm of existence Friday at age 90 and is likely to have his remains cremated later Saturday makes it semi-relevant again, particularly since a part of me wishes I were in Havana now to report the reaction.


Fidel Castro, from back in the days when we'd let him openly enter this country. Photograph from Library of Congress collection
Every news reporter who is worth anything has a “dream story,” a realistic event that would be of historic proportions that they would like to be present at, so as to take a crack at writing news copy for posterity.

For me, any chance I ever had at covering my “dream” died early Tuesday when Fidel Castro officially stepped down as leader of the communist government in Cuba – bringing to an end a 49-year reign that had frustrated the will of so many U.S. presidents.

MY DREAM WOULD have been to be in Havana at the moment that the Cuban people learned that Fidel was no longer in control. I would have settled for being anyplace where people would have a special interest in the passing of Castro.

But now that Fidel Castro is officially no longer in charge for the record on the Caribbean island nation, I have to admit the reality turned out to be so far removed from any dream story I could have wanted.

Castro played his resignation to make it sound as uneventful as possible. The departure last year of Alberto Gonzales as U.S. attorney general occurred with more political drama than the departure of Fidel.

Making the announcement on the website of the Cuban government newspaper “Granma” in the early hours of the day ensured that most Cuban people knew little of the event, since Internet access in Cuba is so heavily restricted.

BUT THE SIMPLE fact is that Castro still looms over the government. His brother, Raul, who has been Fidel’s number two man since the days of the revolution against the Batista regime, is now officially in charge.

Raul Castro is not the dominant personality that his older brother, Fidel, is. A Raul Castro-led revolution back in the late 1950s likely would have ended with some hard-core, long-forgotten Communists rotting away in a Cuban prison, instead of being swayed by the cult of personality that is Fidel Castro.

That personality is going to ensure that the Castro ideals will remain in place. Nothing of significance has changed.

In fact, all this really means is that Fidel Castro is finally conceding he’s not a young man and his intestinal problems are so severe that he can’t even pretend to be in charge of the day-to-day operations of Cuba’s financially-strapped government.

HE WILL GET to spend his final years of life (although I understand that genetics indicate Castro could still have several more years to live – there are a few centenarians in his family tree) living in as much luxury as Cuba can offer.

He won’t be living out the wildest fantasy of many a hard-core exile in the U.S. Cuban community that uses Miami as its spiritual capital – those people wanted him overthrown, put on trial and dangling from the end of a rope (just like Saddam Hussein).

Castro, when he finally dies, will get the ceremonial funeral and will be forever remembered as a hero to official Cuba, while exiles will have to suffer with the knowledge that there’s no way they can spin history – Castro’s revolution won control.

They lost.

THAT IS PROBABLY why the initial reaction out of Miami was subdued.

Aside from a few Cuban flags dangling from Florida palm trees, there isn’t much in the way of celebration. Cuban exiles realize significant change has not occurred.

It was even good to hear President Bush NOT gloat. Castro has had control of his country since the days of President Dwight Eisenhower, and eight other men oversaw the U.S. government and had to “deal” with Fidel.

Bush the younger will be the president who will get credit, so to speak, of presiding over the downfall of Fidel in the same way his father gets credit for "bringing down" the Soviet Union. He will be the Leader of the Free World who will have to set policies that try to sway the Cuban people to think of the United States as a potential ally (instead of the source of all their country’s financial problems, as the Castro government spins it).

AN EASING OF the trade embargo that has hurt the Cuban economy while also cutting off U.S. businesses from what could be a desirable market for U.S.-manufactured and –produced goods would be a step in the right direction.

It might be the incentive that gets Castro the younger (Fidel’s kid brother is 76 Now 84) to seriously think about improvements to his country – instead of early signs that say he views Cuba as a potential China (easing the economic restraints of Communism while maintaining the rigid social controls of a totalitarian state).

How should we remember Fidel Castro?

The Cuban government is pushing the notion that the revolution against the Batista government resulted in free public education and health care for all the Cuban people.

THAT IS TRUE, to a point. The reality is that the quality of health care in Cuba is so poor and so scarce. Many Cubans can’t get needed health care – because it’s not available to anybody, not because of its cost.

And as far as education is concerned, yes, minimal literacy is higher in Cuba than in many other poor nations. There are statistics that can be twisted to make it appear to be better than impoverished neighborhoods in the United States.

But in today’s world, bare literacy is not going to get anyone ahead in life. Advanced education is needed, and for many Cubans, that is a dream often discouraged by a government that still wants to talk about the nobility of the “workers of the world” over all else.

And when it comes to Castro’s human rights record, it stinks just as much as many other third-rate dictators around the world. The sad fact of the Castro regime is that it overthrew one totalitarian dictatorship run by Fulgencio Batista and replaced it with one run by “los Hermanos Castro” (not the Mexican singing group).

BUT I HAVE a hard time singling out Castro as some sort of tyrannical demon (as the Cuban exile community of Miami is quick to do), because I know full well there are many other government “leaders” who run their countries with as much of a strong-arm demeanor as Fidel.

But since they are willing to denounce the label of Communism, the United States has been willing to look the other way. Heck, if Castro hadn’t declared himself to be a Communist after one year in power, the U.S. would never have dreamed of embargoing the Cuban economy. We’d be willing to make excuses for Castro’s overcrowded jails.

The past 49 years of U.S. policy toward Cuba have not accomplished much of anything. The United States did NOT drive Fidel Castro from power. He got to leave on his own terms, and name his successor.

PEOPLE WHO ARE insistent on having history record the Castro regime as illegitimate are going to have to accept failure, and move on for the best.

It’s not that I ever expect a sudden rush of exiles seeking to return to Cuba – so many decades in the United States have caused them to change permanently, and in the process become an important part of the larger Latino community in this country.


Would Giuliani, Romney brawl make us miss political presence of Hillary?

The soon-to-be President Donald J. Trump is in the process of picking the people who will run various agencies under his administration, and that may actually be more important because Trump is such a governmental neophyte that those people are likely to get a free reign to do what they want.
Can anybody envision Rudy or Mitt handling this situation as diplomatically as Hillary. Photograph provided by State Department

Which is what makes the New York Times report Friday about the brawl taking place within the Republican ranks all the more interesting – a fight for Secretary of State. The position that has a major role in determining our nation’s foreign policy.

IT SEEMS THE Republican establishment that was always skeptical of Trump would like to see one-time presidential dreamer Mitt Romney put in the post. While many of those who were with Trump from the beginning want another long-time Trump loyalist installed there.

As in Rudy Giuliani, the one-time New York mayor who would like to be thought of as the law-and-order guy who cracked down on crime in the city during the 1990s but also is remembered for a firm leadership in the days following that 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

His calm helped keep the city calm, which in turn helped keep the country as a whole from going bonkers from thoughts that the Ay-rabs with their funky Moos-lim religion were going to take over the world!
Will it take Giuliani presence in post...

Personally, the thought of either of those guys being put in as Secretary of State makes me squeamish – largely because I suspect they’re both interested in resurrecting their legacies and would likely try to do so with grand gestures that would put the nation at-risk on the world stage!

I’M NOT SAYING they’ll single-handedly get us into another war. But I wouldn’t put anything past them. The only time Giuliani ever is rational is when he talks baseball – he’s a hard-core New York Yankees fan in a way Hillary Clinton could never pull off.

If anything, the one plus of having either of them in the post is that they’ll make the record of a previous Secretary of State look all the more impressive by comparison.

By that, I mean Hillary herself – who served as Secretary of State from 2009-13. Or during President Barack Obama’s first term in office.
... or that of Mitt to make us appreciate Hillary?

The conservative ideologues amongst us have their own set of reasons they will use to denounce her time served in the post (Benghazi, anyone?), but I also recall the points in which her service wound up helping to resurrect her political reputation from her days as first lady and in the U.S. Senate to the point where I suspect some people probably wished they could take back their ’08 support of Obama.

I SUSPECT THAT Romney wants the stink of losing the 2012 election cycle to Obama removed from his name, while Giuliani probably remembers how close he came to running against Clinton for that Senate seat in New York back in 2000.

He probably thinks that had he not been forced to drop out (replaced by no-name Rick Lazio), HE would have beaten Hillary back then and crushed her political future. Is he delusional enough to think he can somehow get into Hillary’s old political position and erase any memory that she ever existed?
Hillary never convincingly pulled off Yankee fandom...

A twisted way of thinking, to be sure. But when it comes to political people, their way of viewing the world is often extreme by “real people” standards. Then again, real people wouldn’t put up with any of the twisted nonsense it takes to run for office.

Namely, having to deal with people like Trump who are capable of twisting the truth into absurdity to the point where we don’t have a clue where they really stand. Which may have been his whole goal all along!

WHILE NOBODY KNOWS what a “President Trump” will accomplish (anybody who says they know is really just telling us what they want him to do), I do know that if it strays too far from the ideologically right-wing dreams of Trump’s most intense political backers, they will turn on him and cause their own form of chaos.
...but never looked as ridiculous as Trump!

Which may also go a long way toward rehabilitating Hillary Clinton’s political reputation – which already is getting a jolt from the fact that some 2 million more people wanted her to win this month’s elections rather than Trump.

Either of the Trump picks for Secretary of State will make her era look all the more competent. A Trump presidency will make her look all the more competent. The day will come when most of us will have forgotten the details about why it was we didn’t trust her – except maybe that she was a “her” instead of a “him.”

The legacy of Hillary Clinton could well wind up being the woman we took a pass on when we had the chance, but later wished we had picked for the top post!


Friday, November 25, 2016

Are we protesting because we’re concerned about issues, or because there’s nothing worth watching on TV?

I’m not one of those people who sees protesters and rallies as something subversive or a waste of time – even if it’s a batch of people with whom I completely disagree I have always seen the right to assemble and express oneself as one of the fundamental rights of people in this country.
Disgust over Donald?

Yet there are times when I do wonder if people put together protests without giving much thought to the image they’re going to create amongst the public. Are they doing harm to their cause by trivializing it?

THAT IS A thought that has been bopping about in my brain since I received a statement through e-mail a few days ago telling me how the students at Bowen High School in the South Chicago neighborhood were planning to express their outrage over the fact that Donald Trump was actually chosen to be president.

Students participated on Tuesday afternoon in a walkout, meaning they skipped class. The statement I received said it was meant to, “show opposition to the rise of hate and racism across the nation in the resulting weeks.”

Said statement also had quotations attributed to school administrators offering up support for the event, in which students skipped class to march to nearby Bessemer Park – where they partook in a rally that WLS-TV reported was to express opposition to harassment of people who are black or immigrant or not otherwise of an image that Trump-types might want to believe doesn’t belong here.

It sounds like a noble cause. It even uses the tactic that younger students have used often before to try to express themselves – the walkout. Yet I can’t help but wonder how many people are going to view this as just a chance for people to get out of a geometry class they wouldn’t have paid much attention to anyway?

PARTICULARLY SINCE PROTESTS related to disappointment that we as a society could really be stupid enough to elect Trump president have been done elsewhere, and with greater effect.

This really comes off as an attempt that plays as too little, too late – something that would have had greater impact on Nov. 9 but by Nov. 22 was old and moldy.

Which is similar to how I’m perceiving the protests that we’re told will take place Friday along Michigan Avenue; the place for people who want to be seen shopping -- real people shop elsewhere.
Refusing to forget Laquan

Friday, of course, is “Black Friday,” the date upon which retailers go into the black financially for the year – making all their sales during December as pure profit.

FOR THOSE WHO think back to last year, activists concerned with the shootings by police of too many young black men used the day to stage protests downtown – hoping to gain attention to their cause by disrupting all the holiday shopping that took place.

They’re hoping for an encore, saying they’ll be out there again. They’re going to demand that people LISTEN to them and feel a reaction. Which is a problem, because one of the realities of freedom of expression is that you have a right to say or think what you want – but you don’t get a guarantee of the last word.

Also, people have the right to choose to ignore you if they wish.

Which is what I suspect will happen on Friday. We’ll get the sight of several holiday shoppers going to extremes to ignore what is being said – particularly if it tries to keep reminding us of Laquan McDonald; the young man whose videotaped shooting death by police left some appalled, but others feeling empathy for police.

I CAN SENSE how some people are going to feel it’s the same old trash talk being spewed. A repeat of the same ol’ day we experienced last year – only not in a cute and funny way like in the movie “Groundhog Day.”
The extent to which many people will be concerned
I sense a public relations disaster in the making, particularly if incidents arise that cause police to try to take anyone into custody. Could we get the sight of holiday shoppers cheering for the police while activists try to make their case against violence?

Not that I’ll be anywhere near this. For I have to confess to detesting the whole idea of holiday shopping beginning so soon. As you read this, I may be preparing myself for a holiday feast that my father is actually starting to prepare as I write this Wednesday afternoon.

Either that, or I’ll be taking a desperately needed nap – the only “cause” I’ll be promoting on this holiday of thanks.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

What difference does party label make when describing political candidate?

The other day, I was in a place with several government-minded people, most of whom still haven’t gotten over the election of Donald Trump as president.
TRUMP: Does the "D" or "R" really matter?

Although one of them (an elected official herself) tried ending the conversation by remembering that Trump was once registered to vote as a Democrat and, in fact, has offered financial help to Dem candidates in the past.

“LET’S HOPE HE reverts back to his Democratic ideals,” she said.

I must confess, I had to restrain a laugh at the very thought. I have always believed there is a reality about the way in which people identify with political parties that makes their use as political shorthand to describe one’s beliefs a potentially-distorting factor.

People who get involved with government usually identify with the political party that is predominant in their community.

I have no doubt there are many Chicago residents who could easily consider themselves Republicans IF NOT for the fact that the Chicago Republican Party is such a weak, non-existent entity that there’s no practical point to identifying with them.

ONE WOULD GAIN nothing in the way of having allied government officials on their side to get things done. Perhaps it is true that the government task people most care about is something as simple as being issued a new trash can when the old one wears out.

All the rest is politically partisan nonsense.

Keep in mind that I’m not saying there’s anything unique about Chicago. I suspect many of those people who live across the rest of Illinois could easily side with the Democrats IF ONLY there was anything resembling a credible Democratic Party organization in their communities.
PFANNKUCHE: A 'real' Republican?

We vote for candidates we think can do something for us in our daily lives. Only the hard-core ideologues amongst us get into the notion of voting for someone – just think of how irrelevant Jill  Stein of the Green Party turned out to be in the recently-completed presidential election cycle.

IN FACT, IN some cases people wind up getting forced into taking the dominant political party all seriously, largely because the primary elections wind up becoming the ones that determine who actually wind up winning.

The primary winners ultimately wind up running unopposed come general election time, or against fringe candidates who are nothing more than ballot-filler (think of Cook County state’s attorney-elect Kim Foxx’ victory over Republican challenger Christopher E.K. Pfannkuche).

In the case of Donald Trump, it’s no surprise that he wound up having to identify with Democratic government officials regardless of his actual ideological beliefs. He was a Noo Yawker, and one with business interests that required him to make his peace with government officials he may have found personally to be repulsive human beings.

If anything, I always felt his shift to the Republican Party for purposes of this election cycle was a matter of accepting who he really was.

HE RAN A campaign based on attracting the vote of people who were run out of the Democratic Party generations ago. If he had tried to run as a Democrat on the grounds he was going to restore them to the place they once had, they would have laughed themselves silly before winding up voting for someone goofy like Ted Cruz.

So the idea that Donald Trump ever had “Democratic ideals” he could now turn back to? I don’t think so.

If anything, I suspect the real Donald Trump is that wealthy businessman whose financial interests were being restrained by government officials of all persuasions. A part of me wonders if his real interests for ever getting into the election process is that he wanted those officials off his back.

Although I’m sure he’d probably try to phrase it more gently by talking about the need for business-friendly people serving in government (which really means those more than willing to mess with organized labor and working people to bolster some corporate entity’s financial bottom line).

AS FOR WHETHER Trump is really the scary ideologue he portrayed during his campaign, he may not be. Although the fact is that he so eagerly sought out those types of people for political support that he’s now going to have to wear that political label.
Will Trump miss his personalized jet?

Particularly since if he tries to deviate too far from the political trash talk he spewed during the campaign, he’ll find out just how quickly the “far right” will turn on him and make his four-year presidential term an agonizing experience – and not just because he’ll have to live in Washington and fly around on Air Force One rather than a private jet with his own name painted on its fuselage.

One last thought – Trump strikes me as the kind of guy who doesn’t want to be president, but wants to be the guy with money who gets to tell the president what he ought to be doing. The “D” or the “R” after his name doesn’t mean a thing!


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Who blew it; bad polls or bad parody?

It has become the trendy thing to do, particularly for whiny backers of president-elect Donald Trump who are determined to believe the whole world is rigged against their inherently superior beings. Lambast the pollsters and political geeks who were convinced that we’d now have President-elect Hillary R. Clinton.
CLINTON: Will she take pleasure in historic defeat?

Sure enough, there were plenty of polls prior to Election Day that indicated Clinton likely would come out of the process with a slight lead.

THE POLLSTER BASHING goes around the notion that these ridiculous twits couldn’t see for themselves how popular Trump was amongst the “real” people of the country.

But then I look at the voter tallies, that as of Tuesday were indicating that some 1.7 million more people cast votes for Clinton rather than Trump. Who’s to say how big the gap will get by the time every vote is counted and the final results are certified.

Could it be that the polls “got it right,” but were asking the wrong question – largely because the people weren’t focusing on the correct issue?

The fact is that the polls that were constantly reported on, particularly by broadcast news outlets, were oversimplified nonsense that really didn’t tell us much.

THEY ASKED AN assortment of people from across the country who they favored for president in the upcoming election, then gave us numbers based off that national mix.
Which is phonier; '16 Electoral College results...

If they said that Clinton had a 1- or 2-point lead over Trump, one could argue that Clinton seems to have exceeded that tally slightly.

But the problem is that isn’t how we elect presidents in this country. We don’t have national elections with a vote tally from across the country. We have a series of statewide elections, with the results of each then combined into a process that gives us the Electoral College.

To accurately tell us what we’d need to know, we would have had to poll each and every state individually, then take the results and figure out how that would impact the awarding of delegates from each state.
... or Trump University degree?

RESULTING IN THE Electoral College tally that will be compiled early next month that will make the selection of Donald J. Trump as our nation’s 45th president official.

Actually, the few times I saw poll results coming from specific states that were figured to be battlegrounds, they indicated potential problems for Hillary. I’d argue that the information was there, if people were willing to take the time to try to read it properly.

Although that becomes the problem – too many people don’t really want to take the time to do anything. Just like the issue of “fake news” reports that seem to be becoming more and more popular.

Largely from people who think they’re getting a laugh out of reading that Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump – just like all those National Enquirer reports throughout the years about extra-terrestrial visits to Earth.

THEN AGAIN, MAYBE they see the old photographs of Elvis Presley meeting with Richard Nixon and figure nothing is too weird to believe.
Does this feel like a 'fake news' report?

I know some people try to claim that these humorous efforts are merely satiric in nature – yet satire always has a legitimate point to make in its exaggerations of the truth. Much of these nonsensical items are meant merely to confuse. Although I must confess to finding some amusement in the report from the Onion following the World Series – the report that said generations of now-deceased Cubs fans conducted a drunken riot in Heaven in celebration of their one-time favorite ball club’s victory after all these years.

That report indicated that God banished a few hundred of the most intoxicated revelers from Heaven to Hell as punishment.

A fate I’d like to believe will eventually befall those people who persist in spewing their partisan nonsense out of a desire to confuse, rather than inform.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Dem in Trump cabinet? Not unheard-of idea, no matter what Trump-ites say

Excuse me for not being impressed by the reports coming out of Camp Trump these days that say he’s considering putting a (wait for it) Democrat in his presidential cabinet of advisers.

GABBARD: Trump's token Democrat?
The reports I read in The Hill, a D.C.-based newspaper focusing on Congress, say that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, met Monday with Trump at his offices in New York.

SPECULATION AMONGST POLITICAL geeks is that Trump is considering Gabbard for the post of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Which may sound impressive (it’s the post that was held by Adlai Stevenson II during the presidency of John F. Kennedy).

But considering that many of the kind of people who made up the bulk of voters for Trump have their hang-ups about the very existence of the United Nations, this could easily be an appointment to a post that Trump won’t give the slightest thought to during his administration.

Besides, the reality is that the easiest way for a new president to make a gesture of political bipartisanship is to offer up a cabinet post to one person of the opposition political party.

It wouldn’t be something new to Trump, even though I’m fully confident that
The Donald will try to portray this as the ultimate gesture that he’s not the ideological crackpot that many people fear he will become.

SOMETHING ABOUT GUILT by association with all those people who are crackpots. Who, according to The Hill, are inclined to favor Gabbard because of her ideological stances with regards to firearms and refugees and, in particular, a willingness to be suspicious of people of the Islamic religious faith.

Besides, Gabbard was one of the people who, back during the primary, was a solid backer of Bernie Sanders’ presidential aspirations. Which Trump will spin into her opposition to Hillary Clinton ever becoming president.

Who knows? She may well wind up fitting in with Camp Trump. Or she may wind up being isolated into a position of nothingness. We’ll have to wait and see.
LaHOOD: The GOPer who backed Obama

I don’t think she’d be as seriously taken as Ray LaHood. Remember him?

HE WAS THE Republican picked to serve in the presidential cabinet of Barack Obama. LaHood wound up serving a few years as head of the Department of Transportation.

Obama wound up turning to his home state of Illinois when searching for someone of the GOP persuasion – LaHood was a Peoria native who had served in Congress both as a representative and also had been chief of staff to one-time House Minority Leader Robert Michel.

Of course, that made him suspicious to the hard-core ideologues who always suspected Michel of being too weak to stand up to Democrats. LaHood wound up ending his career in public service by overseeing the nation’s transportation policy – although his Congress stint is memorable for him being the guy who presided over the House of Representatives hearings that wound up impeaching then-President Bill Clinton (the Senate failed to convict him).

Not that the ideologues ever gave Obama any credit for having LaHood around. The opposition of people who think that Trump is “taking back” their country were never the type to credit Obama for anything – and are most anxious to erase his very presence from electoral politics!

NOT THAT I expect Trump’s appointment of Gabbard to run into much opposition. For now, the president-elect will have a majority to back him, and may enjoy the idea of a Democrat amongst them just to spite the bulk of Democrats. That is, if Gabbard actually gets the appointment.

I wouldn’t put it past Trump to toy with the idea of naming a Democrat to a significant post, build up hopes, then trash them! Trump is exactly the kind who will want to play with people.
Could the Cubs become Trump's team?

Which also is how I view the speculation that Todd Ricketts, a member of the family that initially feuded with Trump but later helped back his presidential campaign financially, met with Trump to talk about policy.

Ricketts, of course, is taking joy these days from his family ownership of the Chicago Cubs, whom whether their owners realize it or not hail from a part of Chicago that was very inclined to prefer the thought of Hillary Clinton as president – could developing too close a tie to Trump wind up hurting the ball club?


Monday, November 21, 2016

EXTRA: First lady won’t live in White House, reminiscent of Patti Blagojevich

I couldn’t help but be reminded of Patti Blagojevich when I read the reports saying that incoming first lady Melania Trump has no intention of wanting to reside in Washington at the White House.
MELANIA: Wants to be stay-at-home mom in N.Y.

Let’s not forget that when Rod Blagojevich served as Illinois governor, he ultimately became the guy who spent as little time as possible in the capital city, didn’t even like going into the official governor’s office in Chicago and wound up trying to run the state from the office he created for himself at his Ravenswood Manor neighborhood home.

PART OF THE motivation for that was the fact that Patti really didn’t want anything to do with a life in Springfield, and tried to explain it as a desire to keep her two daughters (now all grown up) grounded in real-life.

Similar to how Melania is saying she wants to remain in New York because of her 10-year-old son, Barron. He’s in school, and she wants us to believe that she wants to provide for him the typical lifestyle of a growing boy.

Although considering that the Trumps live in the penthouse apartment of the Trump Towers building in Manhattan, it can be argued that having to reside in the White House might be a step closer to the typical lifestyle the bulk of us live.

Whereas in the case of the Blagojeviches, Patti told the State Journal-Register back at the time her husband became governor, “We’re not Rockefellers, so when Rod’s term or terms as governor is over, we have no means to live like this. It would just be an unnatural thing for us to get used to.”

THE QUESTION REMAINS, “Are the Trumps wealthier than the Rockefellers?”

Forbes magazine has come up with a crude estimate of the Rockefeller wealth at being $22.22 billion in modern-day monetary value, compared to about $3 billion for the Trumps.

Although I suspect Trump thinks he can hold his own financially, and in fact I wonder if Trump thinks that living and working out of his own home and offices instead of the government-provided ones somehow gives him an excuse to not have to comply with all the disclosure requirements we’d normally demand of a president.
PATTI: Didn't like the Statehouse lifestyle

Either that, or maybe Trump just thinks the White House is a dive compared to his own apartment or Florida-based Mar-A-Lago mansion.

ALL I KNOW is that if he really feels that way about the White House, I’d hate to think how he’d feel if he ever had to set foot in the Executive Mansion in Springfield.

What with falling plaster, mold developing in spots, rainwater seeping into the Lincoln bedroom and a busted elevator (based on various news reports about the repairs now being undertaken), the sight of it probably would have been enough to scare Trump away from wanting to get into public service in the first place.