Saturday, September 30, 2017

Federal immigration sweeps more about intimidation than enforcement?

Sometimes, the schoolyard bully beats up on someone merely to show everybody else that they can.
Are we really safer because 30 picked up by ICE sweeps?

That´s about how I perceive the latest round of sweeps done by federal immigration officials this week – the ones that they´re boasting resulted in some 498 arrests of individuals from 42 countries now living in the United States without a valid visa.

NOBODY OUGHT TO think our society is any more safe, or that our federal immigration policy is any less of a bureaucratic mess, just because Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials felt the need to do the mass sweeps during a four day time period this week.

I’m not even swayed by the fact that immigration officials claim that 317 of the people they arrested this week have criminal records – which they’d like for us to believe means those particular individuals should never have been in the country to begin with.

The fact is that if we consider these sweeps that took place in cities across the country that have designated themselves as sanctuary cities as somehow representative of the immigration ¨problem,” I’d say what they proved is that the problem isn’t anywhere near as significant as the nativist ideologues amongst us would have us all believe.

Federal officials said that 30 of the people who were picked up in the sweeps were busted in Cook County. That’s really not a significant number – particularly when you contemplate the number of people who actually live here, the large percentage who have ethnic origins in other countries and the significance of those who could have been picked up.
EMANUEL: Lawsuit got fed ct to back sanctuary cities

IN A STATEMENT to the Associated Press, acting immigration Director Tom Homan said that sanctuary city policies – such as what exist for both Chicago city and Cook County goverments – create “magnets for illegal immigration.”

And since the policies of the Chicago Police and the Cook County Sheriff’s departments are that they don’t turn over data on every single person they encounter who may (or may not) have uncertain immigration status, it means the federal officials want us to see they’re not going to be thwarted.

Immigration, Homan says, is “forced to conduct at-large arrests in those communities.”
DART: Won't hand over jail inmates to ICE

Which means that immigration officials were out-in-force in recent days, actively looking for people they could come up with busts for – similar to the days of old when local police would decide they needed to do something to appear busy, so they’d raid a few “dens of inequity” and make some cheap criminal busts.

THE “FEDS” WANT us to know that they’re going to make arrests amongst the significant ethnic populations of Chicago, even if they’re not getting the cooperation of the local police and sheriff, whom they wish would notify them every time they’re about to release somebody whose immigration status is suspect.

Then, the immigration officials could be waiting for them at the county jail – perhaps making their “bust” just as the inmate was hoping to catch a bus on California Avenue to get out of the area and try to get back to their local “homes.”

To me, the sad part of all this is that it means we have people devoting their time and effort to trying to pick up as many people as they can, and complain about all the hindrances they face.

We’d all be better off if we had such effort and devotion being paid to the idea of trying to make sense of our federal immigration boondoggle – a collection of policies that are in serious need of reform so as to clarify who exactly is worthy of being able to live in this country and whom amongst the ranks of the undocumented do we have legitimate reasons to fear.
TRUMP: Are ICE sweeps his response?

THE PROBLEM IS that, to the nativist element, they want to fear all. Their idea of immigration “reform” is deportations in as mass a group as they can put together. Which really is a waste of our time to try to achieve, and most likely impossible to think we can get rid of the tens of millions of people living here without that visa.

Particularly how in most cases, there was no legitimate reason to deny those individuals a visa – except that the bureaucracy made it difficult to impossible for said visa to be obtained.

Which is the ironic part of the immigration reform debate, as far as I’m concerned. The conservative ideologues who all too often rant that government is too big and burdensome and interferes with things getting done (Ronald Reagan famously quipping, “Government IS the problem”)?

When it comes to immigration policy, they may be right. It’s just a shame they can’t listen to their own rhetoric and try to do something about it for the betterment of us all.


Friday, September 29, 2017

EXTRA: Which one do we believe?

Perhaps I should get used to this -- campaign fliers cluttering my mailbox. Candidates trying to sway me to think of themselves as the only seriously legitimate politicos -- and everybody else as corrupt!
Pro-pop tax ...

The next primary election is March 20 and general election more than a year away in November.

YET THAT DIDN'T stop my mailbox from having a pair of leaflets stuffed in them -- rather glossy things trying to sway me on the merits of the pop tax.

It literally was a split decision -- one flier paid for by Michael Bloomberg telling me of the health risks of pop consumption, and the other from the Can the Tax Coalition (and paid for by the American Beverage Association) telling me of the evils of the penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages sold within Cook County.

I think the Coke-like cans labeled "heart disease," "diabetes" and "obesity" look corny and cheesy. But the other spot looks just a bit too phony, as in the so-called real people who supposedly are opposed to the tax look a bit like beginning actors earning a fee by playing the parts of real people.

So which of these fliers should I take seriously? Should I bother paying attention to either one?

THEY'RE NOT THE first handouts I have received on this issue, and I'm sure there will be many more to come in upcoming days before the county board's Finance Committee holds the hearing Oct. 10 that is meant to review an ordinance that (if passed) would repeal the pop tax that barely passed the county board earlier this year.
... and con

One-and-a-half more weeks of this rhetoric about carbonated beverages, then we can move on to the assorted cheap shots we'll be asked to endure about the gubernatorial candidates and other officials who are up for re-election come 2018.

Including Toni Preckwinkle herself. The county board President may wind up not having to face a primary election challenger. But I'm sure many other people will take her name in vain as they try to bash about other politicos with whatever rhetoric they think will tie someone else to the pop tax.


What kind of “man” read Playboy? Young boys searching for titillation

It was a scene towards the end of the 1978 film “Animal House” that seems to be all too appropriate as we note the death this week of Hugh Hefner – the man who gave us Playboy as a magazine and lifestyle, and took the concept of girlie mags away from the ancient images of nudists playing volleyball on the beach.
A four-decade old cinematic moment ...

That scene was the one where the Homecoming parade at fictional Faber College was being thrown all awry by the vengeful Delta House fraternity that had just been closed down by the venal Dean Vernon Wormer.

ONE FLOAT IN the parade got slammed into – and a girl onboard the float dressed in a Playboy bunny costume got tossed into the air, where she went soaring through the sky and into an open window of a nearby house.
... that somehow seems relevant today

Where she came to rest in the bed of a young boy who, from the looks of it, had been sneaking peaks at a Playboy magazine.

“Thank you, God” was his response at the thought of a real-live girl to accompany the photographic images he had been checking out just moments earlier.

An image like this may well be the perfect visualization of the Playboy legacy. Not that I’m saying every kid who ever checked out a magazine suddenly got a real girl thrown into his midst.
Playboy Building and Mansion still stand in Chicago ...

BUT WHILE HEFNER himself liked to claim some sort of high-minded image for himself as a sexual liberator who even made women themselves free to enjoy sex, I wonder if throughout the years Playboy, the magazine, became something that young kids went out of their way to sneak peeks at in order to try to figure out what the big deal was.

Which, of course, meant the generations of kids who got caught, and got punished, for “sneaking a peek” at daddy’s copies of girlie mags.

Just the other day, I saw a rerun of a “Friends” episode – the one in which Courteney Cox’ “Monica” character was obsessed with finding out why she didn’t get invited to her cousin’s wedding.

When brother “Ross” (played by David Schwimmer) tried defending the cousin, Monica got him back on her side by informing him that the cousin had been the one who, as a child, snitched to their mother that Ross had been sneaking peeks at Playboy.
... but their hedonistic days are long past

PERSONALLY, MY MEMORY of first seeing Hugh Hefner’s creation came when I was about 8 (I think). It was something I stumbled across (and inspected) when the parents weren’t around. Because I’m fairly sure my mother, in particular, would have disapproved. I also remember around that same time seeing an episode of "The Odd Couple" in which Hefner himself appeared.

I do recall one other time when a copy of Playboy stirred up some attention – it would be the summer I worked for the Cook County recorder of deeds. The magazine had a feature on Marla Collins – whom hard-core fans of the team remember as the one-time ball girl who on-field worked in short shorts and a tight Cubs pullover jersey.

But for the feature, she appeared in various pieces of lingerie – which is what got the Cubs management all riled up to where she got fired.

Which is why a group of county employees (fairly low-ranking) felt compelled to pass around the magazine copy we had obtained so we could see what the big deal was. A tad too prudish on the Cubs part, was our reaction. Although I'm sure our boss, then-county Recorder Harry "Bus" Yourell, would have had a fit if he had caught us goofing off with Playboy when we were supposed to be working.
Generation of Cubs fans see Marla as glamour girl

I HAVEN’T SEEN a copy of Playboy in years – yes, I’m too cheap to pay the $12.99 newsstand price, and don’t feel compelled to get a subscription. The articles that allegedly are of such a high quality that you want to actually READ the magazine aren’t what they used to be.

Then again, many printed word publications aren’t what they used to be. Too much trash available on the Internet, where the written word somehow loses something in translation.

Besides, I wonder if the younger generation thinks of Hefner as being something more of a “dirty old man” who appeared on television living with various incarnations of three girls at a time. Something more to be pitied than envied.

So as we note the passing Wednesday of Hefner at age 91, it should be pointed out that future generations of youngsters will figure out ways to get at websites their parents don’t want them to see. But somehow, the computer screen and downloading some explicit, trashy video doesn’t offer the same experience as that glossy-paged centerfold, while listening for the sound of parental footsteps off in the distance.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

EXTRA: Aye from guv; nay from right

I’m sure progressive-minded people (or those who don’t view a woman’s ability to carry a pregnancy to term as her only purpose in life) will be pleased with Gov. Bruce Rauner.
RAUNER: 100,000's of critics?

On the bill approved this spring by the General Assembly related to abortion, the governor acted on Thursday – saying he’ll sign it into law. Which is consistent with a written pledge he made back when he was just a gubernatorial candidate.

SO ALL THE rhetoric the “left” was prepared to douse Rauner with related to him being a liar will fizzle out. Although I’m sure many of those people will have many other reasons to bash him about as he tries to get himself re-elected to a second term as governor in the 2018 election cycle.

But as for the “right,” Rauner may well have brought a whole lot of rhetorical hurt upon himself. Rauner made his pronouncement at about 3:14 p.m. Thursday. By 3:24 p.m., the rancid rhetoric denouncing Rauner already was flooding its way into my e-mail box.

Illinois Republican Chairman Tim Schneider said he was “disappointed” along with “frustrated and saddened” by Rauner’s actions that permit Medicaid monies to help cover the cost of an abortion, while also erasing rhetoric that some believe would have altered Illinois law in the future to make abortion a potentially criminal act.

But while Schneider said he doesn’t want the issue to become politicized, state Rep. Peter Breen, R-Lombard, issued a statement saying, “I can no longer support” Rauner for re-election because of this bill.

CITING A LIST of areas in which Breen says Rauner is incompetent, Breen said, “the only unique feature left in Rauner’s favor is that he writes big campaign checks. For Republicans whose elections require those contributions, I understand their reluctance to be critical of Rauner.”

But Breen says there are “hundreds” of GOP elected officials and “hundreds of thousands of Republican voters” who sympathize with him and will turn on the governor.
BREEN: So says the rep from DuPage

Also feeling the need to speak out was Republican state attorney general hopeful Erika Harold – who said she disagrees with Rauner on this issue, but agrees with him on many others.

She also made her own pronouncement that “I will enforce all of the laws of the state.” Which has Democratic operatives on Thursday already mocking her for thinking that she has any authority to be selective about what laws are enforced.

OF COURSE, THIS is all in addition to the typical anti-abortion activists, such as the Illinois Right to Life group, which said it was "devastated and heartbroken" by Rauner's actions. "Advocates throughout Illinois can feel only betrayed and deeply saddened for the thousands of additional unborn babies' lives that will be lost each year due to Gov. Rauner's action," said President Rosemary Hackett.

So we're not even within one year of Election ’18, and some will speculate that Rauner has already ensured his ultimate defeat. Although others will be skeptical enough to think that the Democratic Party field of candidates is incompetent enough to blow it come Election Day.

All of which is enough to make me wonder how masochistic one needs to be in order to subject themselves to a political campaign in this modern day and age.


Where would we be today on Vietnam?

The Vietnam War documentary on PBS ending Thursday night has had many intriguing moments through its 10 parts, but I have to admit the moment that will stick in my mind was one bit that aired Tuesday night.
The downtown Chicago memorial to the U.S. military conflict in Vietnam, just off the Chicago River. Photographs provided by Gregory Tejeda
The moment was some footage of a woman, Jan Howard of Nashville, Tenn., whose son, Jimmy, had served in the Army and been killed in combat. Anti-war activists approached her, asking for her support of their cause – figuring that she’d be grief-stricken and they could claim her son’s death was pointless.

HER REACTION, IN the video snippets, was to tell the activists that her son may have died to support their right to protest, but that she’d shoot them dead if they ever approached her again.

Why do I suspect that in this Age of Trump, there were probably some people who viewed the two-week-long documentary who cheered that woman on – and probably wish that she could turn her ire on the ballplayers who now are protesting racial issues as part of sporting events.

In some ways, we need to comprehend the societal split we endured some 50 years ago – back in the days when a large segment of the populace decided our government officials could no longer be trusted to be truthful or honorable in their conduct because of what happened in Vietnam.
One of few spots where S. Vietnam flag still flies

Because much of the societal split we now have dates back to those days. The “hawks” of the ‘60s are now the grandparents of many of the modern-day types who are touting the rancid rhetoric of President Donald J. Trump – whom they see as leading an effort to take back U.S. society from the “doves” who opposed the war all those years ago.

THEY’RE THE BASIS of the “red” states of America, although I suspect if you had told that woman she was a “red,” she really would have pulled out that pistol and fired. She ain’t no “Commie,” she’d claim.

What always intrigues me about the societal split is the way that the divide plays out.

In the years after the war, the “right” was determined to believe that the “hippie freaks” LOST. That anybody who had ever opposed U.S. military involvement in Vietnam was permanently discredited – a stain that only the passage of time would wash away. The election of Ronald Reagan as president, followed up by the elder George Bush, reinforced that thought.
No dog poop in Chicago's Vietnam memorial

Which is why I always felt that Bill Clinton (and his mouthy bride Hillary) was despised so much by the right. If their theory were true, neither one of them should ever have had a life in the public eye. Yet Bill Clinton gained the presidency, while Hillary had a quarter of a century in the public eye, and came dangerously close (in their eyes) to winning the White House as well.

THE FACT THAT we got a Barack Obama presidency in the mix only further reinforces the notion that the left-leaning individuals of back then are not tainted for life – and in fact have left their mark on our society for the better. A reality that the Trumpites of our time wish they could undo.
Chicago relics of the Vietnam era

When U.S military interests pulled out of Vietnam in 1973, the hopes were that a split status would evolve – a North Vietnam of Communist leanings and a South Vietnam allied with the western world. Similar to what became of the two Koreas. It didn’t happen – the North stormed its way in and took the South two years later.

Although I have to admit that such a notion of a split Vietnam continuing to this day carries a bit of scariness. If you think about it, would we really want a North Korea-like nation in existence – one that would be all too eager to ally itself with Kim Jong Un’s constant threats to resume the Korean War of the early 1950s against the United States?

Which may be a “fight” that the “right” may be yearning for – a chance to undo a military stalemate and turn it into a “win!” Even though sane people have more sensible things to focus attention on.

NOW I DON’T know how all this would play out, if it were to happen. Much of the reason the anti-war movement became so intense was because of the practical fear of many to not want to get killed in combat. Maybe they had enough going for themselves in life that they wouldn’t view the thought of a medal awarded posthumously as a worthy accomplishment.

Nowadays, we have a volunteer military that makes it likely that everybody in service feels they’re gaining something of benefit to themselves. I don’t see the uprisings – except perhaps from the “right” who wish they could create John Wayne-like images for a modern-day military conflict.
PBS shows Howard still upset w/ anti-war movement

USA Today recently had a graphic on their website explaining the concept of the draft lottery that used to exist, and let people see for themselves how likely they would have been to be called to duty – in my case, my birthday was number 11 in the lottery, which means I would have had to scramble for a worthy excuse for a deferment to avoid active duty. Of course, I was only 5 back in 1970 – nobody called on me in reality.

But in my family’s case, I have two uncles who served in the military during Vietnam – one volunteered for the Marine Corps while another was drafted into the Army. Both saw their share of combat activity, but managed to come back in one physical piece – an accomplishment that I’m sure Howard would have wished for her son.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Real majority of Americans probably want Trump to shut up about football

I’m sure that in the mindset (as delusional as it is) of President Donald J. Trump, the masses of “America” have risen up in support for his rants against professional football players who dare make gestures of support for those concerned about police brutality and other racially-motivated unjust acts.
Had to walk back his presidential talk

Yet I find it intriguing that the reaction of many National Football League players to Trump’s trash talk that those players ought to be “fired” from their jobs is to see the many hundreds of players, including some entire teams, that chose to join in the gestures of support against Trump. Even NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke out against Trump.

WHICH PRETTY MUCH makes it impossible for any football team owner to contemplate releasing players. Unless they’re prepared to let everybody go, and reduce the quality of play in the NFL to below that of the Canadian Football League.

In some cases, the team owners whom Trump tried claiming are his friends and would do his bidding chose to join the players in their acts of protest – including Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Who’s going to tell the alleged “America’s Team” owner he should be “fired?”

Even John Fox, coach of the Chicago Bears, joined in with his Bears players last Sunday when some of them chose to show support for the protests and snub Trump.

FOX: Joined in with players
I don’t doubt some Bears fans booed such acts. But I also expect those same fans would get all worked up if Trump seriously tried to do anything to interfere with the quality of play. They just want everybody to pipe down (including Trump) and play ball.
IF THERE’S ANY sign that, to me, makes me think the masses of our society aren’t with Trump (no matter how much he claims they are), it may well be the recent remarks of Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon.

For right after Trump made his initial remarks about “firing” disrespectful athletes, Maddon was asked for his reaction. Which is sort of relevant, because the Cubs got caught up in the Trump mess this summer when some of the team made a repeat appearance to the White House to be honored for their World Series victory of 2016.

Colin's protests now bigger than taking a knee
Maddon made a rather-generic statement about how people should be respectful of the White House and the president, which some interpreted as him sticking up for Trump. Which also resulted in him feeling compelled the next day to make “clarifying” comments.
In which he admitted he hadn’t heard yet what Trump actually said, and now realizes why many people are offended by Trump’s trash talk against people who express their opinions (which is, in reality, a very “American” thing to do).

NOW, MADDON IS saying, “it’s just unfortunate we’ve arrived at this point where it’s so uneasy to have this dialogue between the highest office in the country and everybody else in such a negative way. That’s the part that’s disappointing.”

I doubt he would have felt compelled to say anything more on the issue, if not for realizing his moment of cluelessness with regards to Trump put him in an awkward position – and one in which the real majority of our society would turn on him.

As for my own thoughts about this issue, which began with last season’s protest actions by now-retired (because nobody wants him) quarterback Colin Kaepernick against police brutality and racial injustice, I believe that merely dropping to one’s knee during the playing of the National Anthem prior to the game is about as minor a statement as one could make.
Trump 'trash talk' began long before inauguration

It in no way disrupted the anthem, or the game itself.

AND AS FOR the notion espoused by Trump that expressing such thoughts is disrespectful, I'd argue that respect is something that has to be earned. Which may be why many people are now showing respect for the players willing to make a statement, rather than for Trump.

By the way, Trump’s own approval rating (as of Monday) was at 39 percent, according to the Gallup Organization. Although I don’t doubt that Trump – the man who only got 46 percent of the vote in the last election – is delusional enough to think those 39 percent are the only people who should be paid attention to.

To alter the sentiment expressed by Trump himself last week in Alabama, “Wouldn’t you love to see (the American people), when (the president) disrespects our flag (with his nonsense talk), say, 'Get that son of a b---- (out of the White House) right now.' He’s fired! He’s fired!”

Because as I see it, the real majority possibly is annoyed by this issue being brought up at all, and wish that Trump himself would just “Shut Up!!!” And not just about football.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

On abortion, Rauner will be damned if he does, or even if he doesn’t

Gov. Bruce Rauner officially received a bill on Monday that I’m sure he wishes could just wither away – a measure related to an issue that tends to piss people off no matter what is said or done.
An ad abortion rights-types will soon send us

The issue being the termination of pregnancy and who, if anyone, has a right to make such a decision.

RAUNER IS GOING to have to put himself firmly on the record on this issue, and he’s going to have the entirety of Illinois’ electorate watching his every move.

If he just goes ahead and signs into law the bill approved by the Illinois General Assembly this spring, he’s going to get many of the social conservatives all riled up – in that they’re the kind of people who long for a past era when abortion could be considered a criminal act.

But if he uses his veto power to kill the measure, he’ll get a large share of Illinoisans outraged – largely the kind of people whom Rauner is hoping don’t take his defeat in the upcoming 2018 election cycle as some sort of crusade to be achieved by turning out to vote in strong numbers.

This particular bill was one approved by an urban Democratic majority in both chambers of the state Legislature of people concerned about social trends in our society that might try to push for a time when abortion would no longer be a constitutionally-protected idea as it has been since 1973.

BACK IN THE 1970s when that happened, Illinois government officials approved measures meant to bring Illinois law into compliance, while adding clauses meant to imply that if the Supreme Court ever changed its mind, state law would automatically revert back to its old status.

Some legal experts argued that such language was actually too vague to be taken seriously. But those people who strongly back the notion of abortion being a legal medical procedure didn’t want to take any chances.
Should Catholic Vote message include an "(or else!)"

They pushed for changes to be included in measures meant to clarify when public funds in the form of Medicaid can be used to cover the cost of a woman’s terminating a pregnancy.

That is the measure Rauner now has to decide upon. Backers in the General Assembly tried delaying the legislative process until Monday, hoping they could avoid sending him the bill until they could work out an agreement he would sign it.

BUT NOW, IT seems Rauner is going to be put on the spot – and he has hinted that a veto is a possibility.

But if he does that, it will outrage one segment of our society. Signing it, however, will also arouse the ire of those individuals who think they have a right to meddle in whether a woman terminates her own pregnancy.

The Catholic Vote group is calling the bill “electoral suicide,” while some conservative activists are saying this bill is an “integrity test” for Rauner. They say he will have broken their promises to him, and they just might have to vote against his dreams for re-election.

But the more urban segment of the state could wind up turning on him if he makes those individuals happy. A new poll by the Normington, Petts & Associates group that has 66 percent saying Chicago is on the “wrong” track also says more people blame Rauner (only a 19 percent “favorable” rating) for that moreso than any other government official.

THIS COULD BECOME merely another reason for people to be upset enough with Rauner’s gubernatorial term to want to vote for whichever Democrat manages to win the primary next March.

Now aside from the Capitol Fax newsletter in Springfield confirming that Rauner received the bill on Monday, I don’t know how quickly he’ll want to act. This may be a measure he’ll wait for as long as he can (60 days) before doing something.

It may even become a moment that makes him ponder why he was ever foolish enough to want to be governor. Oh, the headaches!

Why do I fear this will come up late in the day some Friday afternoon, or maybe in the days leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Hoping we’ll be too pre-occupied with our family food fests to want to complain publicly.


Monday, September 25, 2017

EXTRA: Whole world was watching

I’ve been watching the Ken Burns saga reliving the Vietnam War, and Monday night was the point at which we reached the protests that took place in Grant Park in conjunction with the Democratic National Convention.
Protesters and police confront each other not all that far from where our city now officially plays in Millennium Park

The one that was officially classified later on as a “police riot,” but which Gallup Polls taken at the time showed 56 percent of the American people supportive of the Chicago Police conduct against anti-war protesters that some would have us believe lives on against those individuals who happen not to be sufficiently Anglo in racial origins.
The outside world crept into the International Amphitheater
IT WAS A quick review, and I have to admit to learning little new about those protests where anti-war people focused their attention on undermining the Democratic Party presidential process – while overlooking the fact that the eventual Republican presidential victor would wind up extending the war for another five years.

Although there was one tidbit I hadn’t been aware of – after Richard M. Nixon officially got the GOP presidential nomination, his first campaign appearance was right here in downtown Chicago.

Where he was greeted with cheers by local people pleased he was willing to support their police behavior. So much for this being a Democratic Party stronghold!
Friend or foe? Question of perception remains to this day
And something else to keep in mind whenever President Donald J. Trump these days claims he has the public support for whatever his latest inanities are. History will look back negatively upon those of us these days who are willing to look the other way, just as the Vietnam era in our society has produced its own share of shameful moments we wish we could undo now.
DALEY: What did he say?

ALSO, WE GOT to see the television footage from the convention floor when then-Sen. Abraham Ribicoff of Connecticut infamously denounced “Gestapo tactics in the streets of Chicago.”

As for Mayor Richard J. Daley’s alleged response? His hand blocked his mouth, so I don’t know if he really said “faker” (as he always claimed) or a certain similar obscenity that the activist types always wanted to believe was uttered from his lips.


Netting at the ol' ball game? Why not!

Do you want to provoke a serious argument with a fan of professional baseball?
This netting the last time I went to a ballgame in Gary, Ind., didn't stop me from seeing on-field action. Photographs by Gregory Tejeda

If so, bring up whether Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Or whether baseball ought to get realistic and adopt the designated hitter in both of the major leagues.

IF YOU HAVEN’T aggravated enough people with those lines of inquiry, then bring up the idea of whether baseball stadiums ought to extend the screens that now exist behind home plate to stretch all the way around the playing field.

Should fans have to have some sort of netting between them and the playing field to offer some sort of protection from balls hit into the stands? Is the act of watching a baseball game so potentially hazardous that teams ought to offer their fans some form of protection?

The issue, which has cropped up in baseball fan debate sporadically in recent years, was raised to a higher level last week when a fan at Yankee Stadium in New York got hit by a ball hit into the stands. The statistical desire to show how far and how hard all home runs were hit was used to show that this particular foul ball was traveling at 105 miles an hour at the time the fan was hit.
Does anybody pay attention to signs like this?

It’s no wonder she had to be taken to an area hospital for some medical treatment.

THIS ISN’T EVEN a lone incident. For it seems that on Friday, a fan attending a Chicago White Sox game at Guaranteed Rate Field got hit in the mouth by a foul ball hit by Brandon Moss of the Kansas City Royals.
Do ball clubs think this sign is adequate protection?

White Sox officials were quick to point out that the fan did not have to be taken to an area hospital. Although the Associated Press reported that the fan was seen publicly for some time holding a napkin to her face at the spot where she got hit by the ball.
Now a Royal, his foul hit fan in mouth

This particular fan was seated about 30 feet behind the first base dugout being used by the Kansas City Royals. Which is a prime seat, but also provides just enough distance that some people could be naively conned into thinking they are far enough from the playing field to avoid being hit.

Now as things are now at Guaranteed Rate Field, there is a netting that stretches a few dozen feet high right behind home plate. But once you move down the foul lines, you’re exposed. A lot of foul balls can come whizzing your way, if you’re not paying attention.

WHICH MAY BE the real problem. Too many people go to ballgames, but really don’t pay attention to what’s happening on the field. Meaning a line drive could turn foul and whiz right by their head – and they wouldn’t notice until it’s too late.
The first designated hitter

Now I know some baseball fans who insist the reason they don’t sit in seats right behind home plate (aside from the fact they’re cheap and don’t want to pay the prime prices for such tickets) is because they don’t like the obstruction of their view of the game that the netting supposedly causes.

I don’t buy it. That netting usually tends to fade out of one’s view quickly enough, and perhaps those fans down the foul lines need to be protected from their own vacuousness. Because the courts have previously ruled that line of small type ball clubs used to print on the back of tickets implying that people who attend games assume all risks of being injured doesn’t mean a thing.
Oh, Hell no!!!

I also know there are those who go to ballgames (usually on tickets provided by someone else, so they didn’t really pay the absurdly high prices of major league ball these days) who don’t pay attention. I’ve encountered too many of these knuckleheads who try to mock those people who DO pay attention to the playing field.

AS FOR THE idea of netting being unsightly, I recall when I attended ballgames at the old Vonachen Stadium in Peoria, Ill. Netting extended from one end of the grandstand to the other. All seats had
Maybe someday in Cooperstown?
something offering protection – although admittedly, the minor league grandstand only stretched from first base to third base and did not go all the way down to the foul lines.

This is something that ball clubs are going to have to take on just to avoid the perception that going to a ballgame is a hazard to one’s health. The reality is that modern-day stadiums with all their gadgets and attractions offer too many distractions. Perhaps netting from foul pole to foul pole is the price we pay.

Which I’m sure is a concept so radical for some people – perhaps even more upsetting to their concept of how things should be than my suggestions that it’s time the National League get off its high horse and realize the designated hitter has arrived and is part of the modern-day game.

And as for Pete Rose in the Baseball Hall of Fame? I’d sooner see Sammy Sosa there!!!


Saturday, September 23, 2017

EXTRA: Rauner "gettin' his kicks" down Route 66; or at least a part of it

I’m sure it’s meant in part to make our governor, Bruce Rauner, be some sort of regular-guy. Riding his motorcycle along the one-time Route 66 to Springfield, Ill., with stops along the way.

Illinois' governor riding his motorcycle Saturday along the old U.S. Route 66. Photo provided by state of Illinois
Rauner has made his third such trip on Saturday, with his ride supporting Illinois veterans’ organizations and the Honor Flight of Illinois. During his trip, he made stops in Dwight, Lexington and Lincoln, before finally arriving at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield Saturday night.

NOW I SUPPOSE it’s a noble-enough cause to make the ride to draw public attention to military veterans’ groups, along with police officers and firefighters and other public safety workers who are called upon in emergency situations to protect the public in crisis situations.

I just have to nit-pick one detail. Rauner began his motorcycle ride on the old Route 66 in the western suburb of Countryside (which is suburban Cook County).

Yet anybody who knows anything about the old Mother Road knows that the far eastern end of the old 66 was in downtown Chicago on Michigan Avenue at Jackson Street.

That’s what the “down to St. Louie, to Joplin, Mo.” portion of the “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” song refers to.
Route 66 marker remains in shadow of former Sears Tower. Photo by Gregory Tejeda

DOES OUR GOVERNOR really want to exclude Chicago from his trip? Does he think we have no veterans who’d like support?

Or maybe he just thinks Chicagoans would see through his stunt to appear to be a part of the “common man?” Or he just wants to appear amongst people who might actually think seriously about voting for him come November '18.


Cook County ‘pop tax’ upsets political structure’s sense of who matters

If you think about it, it’s really not surprising to learn that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, doesn’t think much of the penny-per-ounce pop tax being charged by Cook County government.
Is Preckwinkle's 'pop tax' really a threat ...

Republican political operatives are gloating at the very notion that Madigan, who usually is supportive of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, is trying to concoct measures by which the pop tax would go away.

WHETHER THAT MEANS Madigan putting the strong-arm tactics to certain members of the Cook County Board to get them to shift their support from the tax that, in part, is supposed to help the county cover the cost of maintaining its hospitals and health care programs.

Or by having the General Assembly pass a law that would supersede the county’s ability to impose such a tax.

It could be either tactic. We’ll have to wait and see by which means Madigan attempts to undermine the county’s ability to use its taxing authority to raise money for itself.

In one sense, it could be perceived as the state meddling in county government business. But the reality is that all the layers of government do wind up getting intertwined. And other officials are now deciding to get involved in the pop tax because they’re fearful voters determined to vote “no” on the tax will wind up voting “no” on everything and anything.

IT WAS KIND of like a few years ago when then-county board President Todd Stroger tried balancing out the Cook County government budget with a boost in the county’s share of the sales tax.
... really a threat to Madigan majority?

Which combined with the state tax and any local taxes charged by municipalities. As many critics were quick to point out, the county’s increase drove the whole sales tax within the Chicago city limits to just over 10 percent.

Since the local political perception is that Chicago city government is most important and that Madigan’s long-time influence puts state government at a next rung, it means that the county had to assume a position of lesser importance.

Its sales tax hike had to go in order to get the overall sales tax in Chicago below 10 percent.

JUST AS NOW Madigan is fearing that his rank-and-file legislators in suburban Cook County might have their lives complicated when they run for re-election next year, IF the pop tax remains in place.
How quickly would Wrath of Rahm reign down on Toni?

So Cook County government, as an entity, may have to sacrifice its tax, because the carbonated beverages lobby (I refuse to use the label “Big Soda,” it just sounds so lame) doesn’t like the idea of anyone else making money off their products. People are just as offended by the 7-cent-per-plastic bag at stores in Chicago, yet nobody's telling the city they have to drop it!

I have to admit the pop lobbying effort appears more successful than that of the healthcare advocates, including former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who failed to take on pop in his own city by restricting the sale of those 32-ounce cups of pop – which really are vulgar is you think seriously about such a portion.

My own thought is that, while I agree with the premise of the tax and think that trying to benefit a public health goal is noble, seeing vending machines reading “kidney failure” and “Type 2 Diabetes” is just a bit too phony – and just as lame as the “Big Soda” label.

SO NOW MADIGAN is going to get involved, for his usual reason – self-preservation. There have been many noble concepts throughout the years that have died political deaths because Madigan felt his Illinois House leadership would be threatened by such efforts. Although there is some legitimacy to the converse position -- you can't accomplish anything if you lose the prior election.
How phony Illinois GOP rhetoric can be at times

Of course, I found it somewhat ridiculous to read the Republican response Friday to this issue – they want us to believe that any Democrat who NOW votes against the pop tax is merely being “Madigan cronies simply following the leader.”

Not that I ever expect Democrats (or any Chicago interests) to be worthy in the minds of the Illinois Republican Party. It’s usually best to ignore the perception of GOPers who, at times, seem embarrassed to be from the “Land of Lincoln.”

All I know is that it is just as likely that if this tax does die a month or so from now and does result in county funding cuts for health care services, I fully expect many of those same people will shift their ire to the health care cuts! Some people are just determined to complain – no matter what the issue.