Tuesday, October 31, 2017

EXTRA: Halloweenie creepies! Or, letting the childhood beggars loose!

About the most ominous memory I have of childhood trick-or-treat activity some four-and-a-half decades ago was one time my brother, Christopher, and I were walking around the neighborhood and we encountered a house where no one was answering the door.
'Letting the hounds loose' in my case would probably create a batch of kids wanting to pet the cute puppies, no matter how much they snarled and barked

Then, I happened to look over to the side, and saw the giant sign the homeowner had scrawled out by hand – informing all of us candy-seekers to “Scram!!!” No candy, or anything available at that house.

I DIDN’T FEEL like pushing it. My brother and I got out of there, and quickly found many other places where the local residents were more than willing to cough up the desired chocolates, sugary junk and occasional spare change that would make for a Halloween bounty.

To tell you the truth, I don’t really blame that guy (or whoever it was, I never did find out) who didn’t feel like giving out any candy to the neighborhood freeloaders who felt that Halloween was an excuse to beg publicly.

There’s a part of me that jokes about using my father’s dogs to try scaring away any kids who come near me seeking candy (not that they bite, it’s just that they’ll make a lot of noise toward anyone they don’t recognize). But I'll confess to having a small bowl of Snickers bars and other candy available for anyone who shows up later Tuesday.

In short, I always think of Halloween as something relatively harmless – and something I haven’t really celebrated since the last time I went trick-or-treating; which I think was at about age 7.

SO I HAVE to admit to wondering what the heck is wrong with our society that Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan felt compelled to issue a statement telling people to check the state registry of people listed as sex offenders before letting their children loose.

MADIGAN: Warning us all of threat
You might just find out that someone living near you has something in their past they’d rather keep quiet about, but which Illinois law won’t permit them. It seems we’re far beyond the point in our society where we have to worry about that old urban legend about some kid getting cut up because they ate an apple with a razor blade inserted into it.

Which is something I always wondered was just a myth created by parents to justify confiscating some of the candy collected by their kids on the grounds they didn’t need to be hyped up on so much sugar!


Harvey vs Maria? Natural disaster spread thruout southwest, Caribbean

One reason I’ve heard given as to why everybody is supposed to be rooting for the Houston Astros to win the World Series this week is because of the devastation caused this summer by Hurricane Harvey.

The Clemente Award for charitable works
After all, the people of Houston need a moral victory of sorts to boost their spirits following the devastation spread across the Texas city.

NOT THAT I’M badmouthing Houston in any way. I’m sure there might be a few people who would think in such terms – as though seeing the Astros finally win a World Series for the first time in their 55th year of existence might make up for any losses they suffered due to the storm’s devastation.

But I can’t help but think that such logic trivializes what happened with Harvey (the hurricane, not the one-time All Star Harvey Kuenn). As though Houston is now fully recovered just because they got a World Series victory – and will be able to stage a massive parade through the city as a result.

All of this may well be the reason why the most intriguing moment of the World Series activity that took place last week and this has to do with Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs receiving the Clemente Award from Major League Baseball.

The award named for the late Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Roberto Clemente is presented every year during the World Series to the ballplayer who engages in charitable work aside from his ballplaying activities.
Clemente made ultimate contribution

IN RIZZO’S CASE, he operates a foundation meant to support groups that address the issue of children who suffer from cancer. Last year, his group helped provide some $4 million to fund the Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

A nice cause. But what does any of that have to do with the World Series or Houston?

It’s that Rizzo received a $25,000 prize for receiving the Clemente Award, and Rizzo immediately donated that money to relief efforts meant to help the people of Puerto Rico – who suffered devastation also this summer from Hurricane Maria.

Which has caused so much devastation and has such a messed-up relief effort that there are large swaths of the island commonwealth remaining without electricity or running water – even though the hurricane struck a couple of months ago.
Clemente replacement a star in own right

I’M NOT SAYING I expect Puerto Rico to be back up and running at full efficiency this quickly. No more than it shouldn’t be surprising there are still signs of Harvey damage in Houston.

But for all the people who try to diminish the significance of what is occurring in Puerto Rico these days for their own cheap political advantage (I’m looking directly at President Donald J. Trump when I make this statement), it’s nice to see someone bring up the relief effort at a time when certain elements would rather focus attention on Houston.

Particularly in a way that really doesn’t do a thing to benefit that city or its people. Like the cliché goes, talk is cheap. These people don’t want to kick in with cash that could help the efforts to rebuild the damage caused by so many storms that struck this summer – Mother Nature really was in a foul mood during 2017!

And yes, Puerto Rico is a U.S. commonwealth – giving our federal government just as much responsibility for overseeing a rebuild there as it has for any rebuild done on the U.S. mainland.
Would you really rather think of Yuli and Yu ...
THE FACT THAT Rizzo would bring up the Puerto Rico relief effort as part of an official World Series-related activity is a plus – particularly since it reminds us all of Clemente – the ballplayer who in his final game of 1972 got his 3,000th base hit. Only to be killed in a crash months later when he tried to try an overloaded airplane with supplies as part of the relief of an earthquake that struck Nicaragua.

An event that I’m sure would be long-forgotten amongst many of us if it hadn’t have cost the Pirates a star ballplayer – got to get our “priorities” right. Is Puerto Rico worth less to many of us because San Juan (the capital) hasn’t been deemed worthy of a U.S. major league ball club?
... when remembering the 2017 World Series?
Thinking of Rizzo is certainly more interesting than much of the World Series activity – unless you’re the type who wants to use the taint of controversy over Yuli Gurriel’s “slant-eyed” mocking gesture to pitcher Yu Darvish to somehow downplay slurs expressed in this country.

I have heard some say that since Gurriel is Cuban and Darvish is from Japan, we should realize that such attitudes are universal, and that the five-game suspension Gurriel will get next season is unfair. Just like they probably think it unfair that Rizzo’s gesture drew attention away from Houston hurricane devastation and toward Puerto Rico.


Monday, October 30, 2017

Political memories continue to crop up in our present-day public reality

OBAMA: Deciding one's guilt, or innocence
Election Day losses, or term limits, don’t necessarily mean the end of our political people in the public eye. Some of them just keep cropping up, no matter how much some of us want to forget them.

Take the cases of Barack Obama and Pat Quinn. It wasn’t all that long ago that these were the sitting president and Illinois governor, respectively. It would be expected for them to have their every utterances recorded for posterity.
QUINN: Wants to be the governor's lawyer?

THEY’RE NOW BOTH in political retirement – Obama because he served his two-term maximum allowed for any individual to be president, and Quinn because even with the advantages of incumbency, he couldn’t even beat Bruce Rauner for governor come the last state government election cycle.

But they’re both the subject of idle chit-chat amongst people who wish to think they’re saying something intelligent about our political structure.

For Obama, who’s living along with former first lady Michelle out in the District of Columbia, he’s going to have a return to our local scene. For the Obamas still own their home in the Kenwood neighborhood and maintain local voter registration – along with driver’s licenses.
Could Obama do jury duty in shadow of Picasso?

Which means that Obama’s name is in the pool of people who can be called upon to serve on a jury. The exact circumstances of which have occurred.

OFFICIALS ARE GOING out of their way not to let it be publicly known when Obama will return to Cook County to do his day of jury duty, although the former president is trying to appear as regular-guyish as possible in saying he won’t try to get out of such duty.

He’ll show up, watch that decades-old film of one-time WBBM-TV news anchor Lester Holt explaining the way the court system works, and will be kept in seclusion from the criminals who pervade the halls of the county courthouses, to see if he gets picked to be on a jury.

Which most people would think is a long-shot. I suspect any attorney trying to put together a jury to benefit their client (or a prosecutor seeking to nail his hide to the wall) is going to view Obama as a distraction. Something that could draw massive amounts of attention to an otherwise-trivial case.
Or in suburban Markham, a few blocks from Hazel Crest-based Obama school?
Better to just bounce him, give him his $17.20 check for one day’s service to the county, and send him along home. For what it’s worth, that amount of money is meant to cover the cost of mass transit to a courthouse, along with lunch. Nothing more!

BUT WHEN IT happens, Obama’s presence will cause a political circus – even though county officials say they’ll get him into and out of the courthouse in a way meant to draw as little attention to himself as possible.

Which is just the opposite of former Gov. Quinn – who in coming months is going to want to draw as much attention to himself as possible. He says he’s going to be amongst the many Dems wishing to run for Illinois attorney general.

Not that it’s surprising Quinn would try to seek a state office after losing his governor’s post in 2014. Quinn previously served as Illinois treasurer from 1991-95, and I lost track of the number of political posts he ran for unsuccessfully until he finally became lieutenant governor following the 2002 election cycle.

“The Mighty Quinn” isn’t really satisfied unless he’s running for office and using his campaigns as forums for making political statements about what he thinks is for the good of our society.

AS FAR AS why attorney general, it’s because the post is open; what with Lisa Madigan saying she won’t seek re-election in next year’s cycle. With some half-dozen or so Dems expressing interest in the post, perhaps Quinn thinks he could win a primary with some 25 percent voter support.
Could Harold give Quinn a fight for AG?

Although I’m skeptical he could even get that much. But it is a wide-open primary, meaning anything screwy could happen.

I have to admit it would be odd if Quinn were to wind up being the Democratic nominee running against possible GOP challenger Erika Harold. Could the man who gave us the cutback amendment and reduced by one-third the size of the Illinois House of Representatives compete against a one-time Miss America?

I’m sure Harold’s campaign is going to portray herself as an ultimate political outsider out to instigate change – yet one could argue she’d be taking on the ultimate political pain in the derriere who doesn’t care much what the political insiders think of him.


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Only in the Cubbiest of dreams is Girardi interested in returning to Chgo

Joe Girardi is an area guy who reached the baseball glory of the New York Yankees

Seeing the New York Yankees dismiss their field manager of the past 10 seasons makes me wonder how many Chicago Cubs fans wish circumstances were different so that they could pounce on him.
Another 'local boy' who got Yankees glory

There are those Cubs fans who honestly believe that Joe Girardi has long desired the fantasy job of being their team’s manager – that he’d eagerly give up any other job in baseball for the chance to put on the jersey bearing a baby blue bear.

WHAT MAKES IT ridiculous to think that way are two factors; one being that Girardi’s time in professional baseball has come to be associated with the Yankees (as their catcher on championship teams of the 1990s, as a mid-2000s team broadcaster and as their manager since 2008 – with 2009 being a World Series-winning year).
Stops in Peoria, Ill., hometown ...

His ties to Yankees pinstripes make it unlikely that the career baseball guy really had any desire to return to the ballclub that originally signed him, and for which he first played in the early 1990s.

Besides, the Cubs made their move to get a big-name manager some three seasons ago when they managed to acquire Joe Maddon from his long-time post with the Tampa Bay Rays (where he had won an American League pennant).
... and Pittsfield, Mass., ...

All three of those seasons with the Cubs have been the ones that the team’s fans boast have been playoff-bound; and include the 2016 version of the team that won a World Series championship.

MADDON, DESPITE THE fact some people observing baseball think he’s too much of a self-centered egomaniac, has achieved the ultimate goal. He won.

Which is a particularly big deal since it was the Cubs, the team that hadn’t won the ultimate prize for 108 seasons prior to last year.
... before making it to 'big club' in '89

Has that World Series win managed to make Cubbie fans relax enough to enjoy their success? The sad part is that there are those who are now wishing that they could somehow come up with circumstances that could allow them to dump Maddon and replace him with Girardi.

I’ve even read one scenario in which people think Maddon ought to be on probation of sorts, and if he slips up even the slightest during 2018, he could be replaced.

BECAUSE IN THEIR minds, Girardi is so anxious to be a Chicago Cub again that he’ll gladly sit out 2018 and wait for 2019 to come about – where he could be rehired as their manager.
Cubs not likely to dump Maddon

I even heard one person try to put out speculation that the Chicago White Sox could dump their manager, Rick Renteria, so they could replace him with Girardi. Just about every White Sox fan I’ve heard from thinks that’s a stupid idea.

Although it would have its ironies in that Renteria used to be the Chicago Cubs manager who was supposed to oversee the rebuild into a championship team, then got dumped when Maddon became available.

Would the White Sox give Renteria-type treatment to Rick Renteria? Would he get dumped on a second time?
It would be absurd to 'Renteria' Rick for Girardi
PERSONALLY, I’M GLAD such actions are not likely, because I think it would be the perfect vengeance for Renteria if he’s the White Sox manager who oversees a championship ballclub in coming years as part of that team’s rebuild effort.
Girardi not only mgr. fired despite success

Let the Cubbie fans engage in ridiculous managerial mechanizations with their choice of a favorite ball club.

I do realize that Girardi is the Peoria native and Northwestern University graduate (he played Big 10 baseball) who came up through the Cubs minor league system. But he’s also the guy who has moved far beyond his Cubbie origins, and for the better. He may be headed to a job with the Washington Nationals – depending on how cheaply he’s willing to work in baseball.

I don’t know firsthand what Girardi plans to do, or what the Yankees’ motivations were in cutting him loose just days after they came within one game of an American League championship themselves – although Girardi’s dismissal would be in character with Yankees history. This being the ballclub that fired Casey Stengel as manager when his 1960 ballclub lost the World Series to Pittsburgh.


Friday, October 27, 2017

Why does cursive vs. typing have to be seen as an all-or-nothing proposition?

I have teenaged nephews and nieces (high school senior and freshman, respectively) who are, by a certain standard, functionally illiterate.
Alien alphabet? Or poor penmanship?

As in whenever they’re confronted by something written in cursive, they complain it is unreadable to them. They’ll throw back such notes and insist they be read aloud to them – while also berating the people who bothered to write something out by hand.

I HAVE HEARD from my niece Meira and my nephew Tyler that nobody ever bothered to teach them to write things out long-hand, meaning that when they do write something, it is in printing that – quite frankly – isn’t all that neat or legible.

The experience I had by which the first grade was learning to print the alphabet and the second grade was for learning to write out long-hand in cursive? It seems to be long-gone from our educational programs – and a haughty attitude has developed in our society against teaching people how to comprehend anything.

The so-called logic is that people just don’t write anything anymore. The era of scrawling out notes is over. Everything is typed. Students are supposedly getting high-tech educations that incorporate devices that require them to use keyboards.

It reminds me of that scene from the Star Trek film “The Voyage Home,” when the Enterprise crew travels back in time from the 23rd Century to our modern-day San Francisco. Actor James Doohan’s “Mr. Scott” character tries speaking to a computer, only to have its keyboard pointed out to him.

“HOW QUAINT,” HE quipped, at the very concept of typing.
Typing 'quaint?' Saving the future through cursive?

Which seems to be the attitude we have encouraged amongst our young when it comes to the idea of writing something out. Even when they try writing by hand, it often is on some sort of electronic screen that stores their notes – without them ever actually being scrawled on paper.

A concept I (as a reporter-type person always keep paper notebooks and pens on hand) certainly don’t see as an improvement, by any means.

Now I’m sure some people are dismissing this commentary as the rants of an old crank – just as they think my lack of interest in this year’s World Series between two National League-feel teams (I’m a hard-core American League sympathizer) is proof that I’m living in the past.

IT’S JUST THAT I really don’t comprehend why people are incapable of writing by cursive – and learning the proper way to use a “QWERTY”-style keyboard. I know in the case of my nephew and niece, they plod along with the hunt-and-peck of a couple of fingers.

That may be usable when typing out a text message on a cellphone, but means that even when typing, they’re barely functional. Apparently, they’re not taking the equivalent of the one-year course I had in high school on typing – and the proper use of the keyboard.

It also produces a lack of feeling for the language. Have you ever checked out the spelling (or lack of) that many of these young people have? Which many of them also feel is something the rest of us need to get over!

All in all, it’s a part of the dumbing down of our society. And yes, I write that knowing my teenage niece is a potential honor student who can’t spell for squat. I know because I often have tried to help by typing for her the papers she wrote out long-hand for school.

I BRING THIS issue up because the Illinois House of Representatives this week acted on a bill that would require all schools across the state to teach cursive writing.
Up to Ill. to set state education policy

Gov. Bruce Rauner used his “veto” power to reject the bill the General Assembly approved earlier this year, so the Illinois House voted to override him. The state Senate is likely to follow suit when the Legislature reconvenes next month to complete the veto session.

I’m sure that some will claim our state’s Democratic-controlled Legislature is playing petty partisan politics against our Republican governor.

But if it means that future generations of young people don’t come off as confused by cursive as my niece and nephew’s generation (it may be too late for them), then that would be a plus for our society.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

It’s no lie that women face harassing environment at Ill. Statehouse; Or, is “Miss America” a sexist slur?

It is with some interest that I’ve read the reports about the letter bopping about Springfield these days, pointing out the sexist behavior that women working as part of the Statehouse Scene have to put up with.
Illinois Capitol; long the scene of sexist (not sexy) behavior
From my own days as a reporter-type person at the Illinois Capitol, I know full well it is true. From one former colleague whom I remember telling me I had never been belittled due to my gender the way she was by would-be news sources who’d trivialize her very presence. To another who said she’d be told to “Go to Hell!” any time she tried asserting herself.

I ALSO REMEMBER one spring session when I had a reporter/intern working with me who could accurately be described as a voluptuous blonde. I still recall the days when all the lecherous pigs of the Capitol hung out in my cubicle so they could catch a glimpse – or dream of getting themselves a piece.

Yes, I’ll admit to taking advantage of their attention at times so as to get information for stories – which indicates less-than-noble behavior on my part.

I can recall her complaining about the people on the state payroll who thought the fact she was busty entitled them to their attitudes. I also remember the many rumors that got spread about her – many of which struck me as “wishful thinking” on the part of some people as to what they wished she would do to them.
HUTCHINSON: Not naming names

My point being that when I hear accounts of women being threatened of job loss if they didn’t play along, I find it believable. Elected officials can be just as scuzzy as anyone else in any walk of life – even though some would have us think they are the most noble form of creatures in existence.

IN SOME WAYS, it’s a part of the Capitol Culture, which is sad if we continue to sit back and think this is the way things are meant to be. Because some of the Capitol types view such behavior toward women as part of the perk of being in politics.

Just because the history of the Illinois Statehouse contained many stories from the past of the “monkey girls,” the assorted young women who worked clerical jobs at the Capitol while also cavorting with the legislators when they were in Springfield – rather than back home in their legislative districts.
HYDE: His Statehouse indiscretion exposed

The label, according to the old joke, meant these girls got their jobs by using their tails – so to speak.

If you think I’m exaggerating, just recall the late 1990s reports of long-time Congressman Henry Hyde – who while serving in the General Assembly back in the late 1960s had an extramarital affair with a local woman who was married and with children.

HYDE WAS FAR from unique. He’s just one who got found out – both when her husband told Hyde’s wife, and decades later when Salon.com felt compelled to report the old tale at a time when Hyde was leading the failed Congressional effort to impeach and remove Bill Clinton from the presidency.

In reading the reports, I noticed the view of state Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Olympia Fields, who pointed out she wasn’t going to name publicly her colleagues who had harassed her.

“That open letter was never intended to start hauling people out of the Capitol and criminalizing a whole bunch of stuff,” she said. “The issue is this survives in silence.”
HAROLD: Will 'Miss America' image help or hurt? Is it sexist to mention?
Because I have no doubt the reaction among some male political operatives will be to want to use names so that this can be turned into a partisan issue with which to beat electoral opponents over the head.

JUST AS I have noticed some criticism over whether state Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, who is now running for Illinois attorney general, was a sexist jerk when he made comments belittling his eventual Republican opponent, Erika Harold, as “Miss America” – for which he promptly issued an apology.

The question is that much of Harold’s own campaign is based on the fact that she was a former Miss Illinois who, in 2003, won the Miss America pageant. Does this mean she can only be praised – and not criticized? That would be against the spirit of aggressive campaign tactics; and I’m sure when the campaigning steps up Harold will fight back with her own digs to take at Raoul.

The fact is that if we let this issue be turned into just more rounds of campaigning, it will distract from the serious issue at stake.

And only the real sexist pigs amongst us would want to see that happen.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

EXTRA: If at first you don’t succeed…

I suppose Gov. Bruce Rauner could claim a political victory, as fleeting as it might turn out to be, by pointing out the Illinois House of Representatives failed Wednesday in its efforts to pass a law concerning “right-to-work” legislation despite the governor’s objections.

RAUNER: He leads, for now

It was the General Assembly during the spring session that passed a bill prohibiting municipalities from enacting their own laws meant to undermine the ability of organized labor to operate in their communities.

BUT DURING THE summer months, Rauner (the man whose gubernatorial premise is to do whatever he can to undermine labor unions) used his “veto” power to kill the law. If he can’t get the state to enact “right-to-work” in Illinois, he’ll settle for a city-by-city piecemeal approach.

That led to the state Legislature, convening for their fall veto session, working to override Rauner’s objections. The Illinois Senate took the override vote successfully, which led to the Illinois House (led by the evil being Mike Madigan – or so GOP ideologues would want us to think) taking its best shot at killing off a Rauner desire.

They didn’t quite make it. The Capitol Fax newsletter reported that the vote taken on the override measure was 70-42, with Rep. Michael McAuliffe, R-Chicago, voting “present” and six others not voting.

The 60 percent majority required in the Legislature to override a gubernatorial veto is 71 votes, meaning effort to thwart Rauner fell one vote short.
McAULIFFE: Voted 'present'

BUT THAT DOESN’T end the politicking on this measure. For according to legislative rules, the bill’s sponsors can have this roll call thrown away, and try again another day during the veto session.

Reports coming out of the Statehouse during the afternoon indicate that’s exactly what will happen, with another vote likely to be called in a couple of weeks just before the Legislature adjourns for the 2017 calendar year.

One legislator, Sam Yingling, D-Round Lake Beach, was absent, while there may be some serious politicking in coming weeks to get some of those who managed to not vote on the issue to get off their duffs and cast a vote this time around.

Meaning Dems are likely optimistic they can get one more person to vote “aye,” which would allow for the veto override to pass – and give Rauner’s veto a great big raspberry.
YINGLING: Missed the vote

ALTHOUGH THERE MAY well be just as much politicking to try to find a person or two who voted “aye” this time around to – if not vote “nay” – just sit on their keisters and “accidentally” forget to vote next time around.

It’s going to be ugly as political people fight over the future of anything related to “right-to-work,” which is justified since the concept of “right-to-work” itself borders on ugliness.

It’s based on the ideas of some people who, for whatever reason, resent being asked to join a labor union when they take a job that is covered by such a benefit. “Right-to-work” is that Southern concept spreading its way to other states wishing to make an ideological statement that says people can’t be forced to join a union. If that were all at stake, I’d argue anybody silly enough to not want union backing is only hurting themselves with such actions.

But “right-to-work” usually is used by businesses to take actions meant to openly discourage labor unions from gaining any influence within their companies – and is meant to penalize those people who (from the business’ perspective) have the unmitigated gall to even think of wanting organized labor representation.

MADIGAN: Will he win in the end?
IN A PLACE like Illinois, particularly with its two-thirds majority of residents living in the urban Chicago metro area, “right-to-work” has never taken hold (although over in the neighboring “Land of Hoosiers,” it has). Our state Legislature is representing a majority of Illinoisans in rejecting the very concept.

Which has led some individual communities (usually in the more rural parts of the state) to try to declare themselves “right-to-work” communities – a move that the federal courts have struck down on the grounds that only the state can make such a declaration.

Which is what is behind the new bill – by which government officials who try to push for such measures in the future could face misdemeanor criminal charges.

A step that some may consider too drastic – but when it comes to such a loaded issue like “right-to-work,” it is only natural that peoples’ tempers will get all riled up, “fightin’ words” will be spoke and the politicking will be fierce as certain people defend the rights of workers to have their desired union representation.


Illinois Dems’ biggest plus may be that GOPers can’t play nice w/ each other

Republican sympathizers in Illinois wishing to retain the governor’s post in next year’s election cycle are counting in part on the notion of multiple candidates on the Democratic side taking shots at each other – knocking each other around and bloodying each other up to the point where none of them can win the ultimate election.

Can Ives' anti-abortion credentials ...
Yet it appears more and more those Republican operatives ought to look seriously at the damage they’re likely to do to themselves as they try to see whether Bruce Rauner is capable of retaining his governmental post.

RAUNER seems to have begun the active campaigning this week – just over a year away from the Nov. 6 general election (and in advance of the March 20 GOP primary).

His gimmick this week was to don the leather vest and climb aboard his motorcycle, making a ride from Chicago to Springfield and making stops along the way.

Rauner is a wealthy business executive with enough money that he practically IS the Republican Party these days – he’ll self-fund his own re-election campaign and those of sympathetic legislators to try to sway the General Assembly into a rubber stamp that gives him what he wants.

Instead of its current form of existence under Democratic legislative leaders who are more than eager to ensure that Rauner gets NOTHING. Although considering that many of the things Rauner wants are a series of changes meant to undermine the influence of organized labor within government, it shouldn’t be a surprise they’re hostile to him!

BUT NOW, BIKER Rauner is riding around, trying to make himself appear to be a few steps lower on the economic status ladder – almost as if he’s one of us, instead of looking down on us “little people.”

It will be intriguing to see how effective he can be, since Rauner has a challenger.

State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, who during her stint in Springfield has shown herself to be an ideologue of the hardest core on social conservative stances on issues, said this week she’s doing the exploratory route to see if she can be a viable candidate for the Republican nomination.

... undermine Rauner's financial advantage?
She only has a few thousand dollars (coming from assorted right-wing issue groups) that would fall far short of the roughly $65 million that Rauner has available.

BUT SHE’S COUNTING on the ideological wars to lead her to victory – she’s amongst the Republicans who will forevermore be peeved that Rauner signed into law a measure that permits Medicaid funds to be used in Illinois by lower-income women wishing to terminate a pregnancy.

Making it difficult for people to actually obtain abortion services has always been a tactic of the anti-abortion movement (figuring they’ll reduce abortion to a theoretical right that isn’t easily obtained).

Rauner’s conduct during his time as governor has stirred up much resentment amongst the two-thirds of Illinoisans who live in the Chicago metro portion of the state. Any Republican campaign is going to focus on the remaining rural third of Illinois.

She’s also the one who has said people who support transgender rights are the equivalent of “dirty old men” in that they’re exposing children to something immoral. Ives is hoping that talking like an ideologue and openly bashing about Rauner can help her undermine his vast financial advantage and lead her to a primary victory.

PRITZKER: Will he be beneficiary of Ives' attacks?
WHETHER SHE’D BE able to compete in a general election is questionable. She may come from the right-leaning town of Wheaton, but the DuPage County Republican organization isn’t what it once was – heck, Hillary Clinton won the 2016 general election in DuPage and all the other suburban counties (except for McHenry).

For as much as Republican operatives are counting on J.B. Pritzker, Christopher Kennedy and all the other Democratic gubernatorial dreamers to smack each other around, they may want to watch their own behavior in coming months.

For the Republican primary election cycle is going to be a test of whether Rauner’s overwhelming financial assets (and the advantages of incumbency) can be overcome by ideologues willing to bash people about for one of the few actions that Chicago-area voters may be willing to credit Rauner for.

In the end, 2018 will be the election cycle where we see which political party is capable of beating up on its own most intensely.


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

JFK assassination docs do provide a nice distraction (for Trump) from flaws

Perhaps President Donald J. Trump has spent too much time watching Oliver Stone’s film “JFK,” particularly the scenes where actor Kevin Costner’s “Jim Garrison” character tells of how his children in a long-in-the-future year will be able to go to the National Archives and find the answers to the questions he tried to resolve with his 1967 criminal trial in New Orleans.

Trump spent too much time watching JFK?
Or (more likely), Trump wants us to quit paying attention to issues that reflect poorly upon himself. The Kennedy assassination of 54 years ago is far enough in the past he figures he can’t be made to look ridiculous.

THAT’S ABOUT THE only reason I can fathom for Trump’s interest in recent weeks in claiming he’s going to get to the bottom of all this by forcing the public disclosure of any remaining documents related to the investigations of that dreary day in Dallas when Jack Kennedy was killed.

The fact that Trump actually has no authority to disclose the documents in question (federal law already dictates the schedule for those papers to become public) means there’s really nothing for Trump to do.

In fact, I wonder if when he’s unable to do anything he’s talking about, he’ll turn around and blame it on government bureaucracy. As though the key to our national success is for Trump to be let loose to do whatever he wants.
Bo Derek IS the real 10!

But really, it is just the “flavor of the month” when it comes to issues that actually capture the presidential attention span.

A MONTH AGO, he got worked up over slacker football players who don’t show appropriate (in his mindset) respect. Now, it’s the Kennedy assassination. Maybe next month, Trump will think it time that he become a “wartime” president and start up a scuffle with North Korea?

Or he may decide it’s time to take on Barack Obama again; trying to place blame on the nation’s 44th president for something (anything) that pops up in his mind.

There are real issues that Trump could try addressing – except that I suspect he thinks real issues are “boring!” Let someone else bother with the details of operating government. He’s a “big issue” kind of guy! Or so he thinks.
An adventure Trump doesn't want to take

Of course, his idea of “big issues” truly is questionable.

TAKE, FOR INSTANCE, the notion of Puerto Rico, who along with Cuba, Mexico and parts of the southern United States, all got hit with severe hurricanes or earthquakes. Natural devastation and the need for massive rebuild is the issue of this era.

Now I know Mexico and Cuba are separate nations in charge of their own rebuild. But Trump really seems to think Puerto Rico is also separate and that he has no obligation to give the Commonwealth one little bit of thought.

And that the thoughts he has paid to it are some gracious favor he’s doing – wasting time and attention on Puerto Ricans when he probably wants to have a mass deportation the way he always implies with regards to Mexicans living in this country.

Trump is the guy who has rated his performance with Puerto Rico rebuild as a “10,” even though much of the Caribbean island remains without electricity or fresh water all these months later. Bo Derek, the woman who gave us the image of a “10” being perfection, probably thinks Trump ought to be sued for defaming her character (since she was the real “10”).

Is Trump the 21st Century's Wizard of Oz?
OR THERE’S EVEN the issue of healthcare reform – the fact that Trump and his political allies have failed thus far in their efforts to eliminate the Affordable Care Act that is the major part of the Obama-era legacy.

We’re coming up in about one week on the time period in which people who have health insurance through the program (in the interest of disclosure, I should admit to being one of them) will have to renew their policies – even though it would seem the Trump administration will have few qualms about enough confusion existing that many people won’t be able to renew.

Death by political confusion – is that the ultimate legacy of this Age of Trump?

It might be, although I’m sure that Trump wants us to think about “JFK.” Or perhaps the “Wizard of Oz” and think of issues such as Puerto Rico or health insurance as being that “man behind the curtain” that we’re supposed to pay no attention to.


Monday, October 23, 2017

Can the Dodgers match the ’05 White Sox postseason accomplishments?

Can 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers ...
Now that we know there’s going to be a Houston Astros/Los Angeles Dodgers matchup come the World Series beginning Tuesday, I can’t help but be reminded of that magical moments of 2005 when it was the Chicago White Sox who managed to “win it all” that autumn.
... match '05 Sox postseason mark?

What was notable about the White Sox’ bid for league and overall championships was that, come playoff time, they became virtually unbeatable.

THE WHITE SOX won the first round of American League playoffs with a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox (with Orlando Hernandez making one of the greatest relief pitching performances I’ve ever seen), then lost only one game in the final round of league playoffs.

Then came their four-game sweep of the World Series proper – as they beat the then-National League Houston Astros (watching the Saturday night playoff game against New York at Houston’s Minute Maid Park, I couldn’t help but remember that extra inning home run by Geoff Blum that was a significant part of the White Sox’ ultimate victory all those years ago).

Now why is any of this particularly relevant as we go into the 2017 World Series – one that sees the now-American League Houston Astros try to win their first World Series title ever?
Chicago native Granderson to play in Series

It’s because of the Dodgers – the team that for awhile this season flirted with the notion of setting a new record for the most wins (116) in a regular season; and wound up actually winning 104, which is still very impressive.

FOR THE DODGERS are the team who this year went through the first round of National League playoffs with a three-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks, then went through the final round of National League playoffs by losing only one game to the Chicago Cubs.

Could it be that the 2017 Dodgers ball club will match the White Sox’ postseason achievement of an 11-1 record, which puts that team in some fairly historic categories.
Blum provided heroic moment in Houston

It’s comparable to the 1998 New York Yankees, who had a three-game sweep in the first round of playoffs, then a four games-to-two victory in the final round, then a four-game sweep of the World Series that year against the San Diego Padres (who nearly two decades later have yet to return to the “fall classic”).

Some say the 1976 Cincinnati Reds deserve recognition because they went through the whole of playoffs and World Series without losing a game. But back then, there was only one round of league playoffs prior to the World Series.

THEIR 7-0 RECORD in beating the Philadelphia Phillies, then the New York Yankees, isn’t quite comparable to what the ’98 Yankees or the ’05 White Sox did. Or what this year’s Los Angeles Dodgers manage to do – if they can pull off a four-game sweep of the World Series beginning Tuesday against Houston.
Just what are the chances of that happening? Is this year’s Dodger team going to be the historic element of the 2017 baseball season? Or is it going to be the notion of Houston becoming the first ball club to ever win championships for both the National and American leagues (which they were transferred to back in 2013, after having been in the “senior circuit” since the 1962 expansion)?

Honestly, I’m an American League fan who feels like the real American League teams all got knocked out of the running – and this year’s World Series will be the equivalent of a mid-season 1970s regular season ballgame of the old National League West.

So in that regard, I almost wouldn’t mind it if the Dodgers were able to pull off not only a victory – but a four-game sweep. It would provide an element of history to what otherwise would be remembered as the Yankees/Dodgers World Series that failed to come to be. Besides, since the Astros this year have shown they don’t really win on the road, the Dodgers (who have home field advantage) will have to be the favorite.
BESIDES, IF A four-game sweep were to become the end result – it means the baseball historians would have to delve into the records of the past to recall all the other ballclubs that suddenly became so dominant come October.

It means we’d have to give a plug to the first ball club from Chicago to take a World Series title in this century.

Which I think would be ironic since the fans of the Cubbie blue were convinced until just a few days ago that ’17 was intended to be “their year” to make some history – and certainly not a time for remembering the city’s “other” ball club.

So as I watch this week’s World Series action, I’ll admit that a key day will be Thursday. While many will think of it merely as a travel day from Los Angeles to Houston, I'll be remembering that moment of 12 years earlier at the same ballpark when White Sox shortstop Juan Uribe fielded that ground ball up the middle, then threw to first base for the final out that finally ended the White Sox’, and Chicago’s baseball championship drought.