Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Some people determined to be grouchy

You’d think those people who want to view a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy as some form of criminal act would be happy; the Illinois Department of Public Health came out with figures showing the number of women who aborted pregnancies in Illinois is at a low.

It also seems the number of women from Illinois who are feeling the need to have an abortion is at a low; with many of the women getting abortions in our state actually coming from surrounding states.

BUT MANY OF those who use the “pro-life” label even though the truth of it is that they’re opposed to abortion and could care less about the larger-scale issues of life are expressing their outrage.

They used the Chicago Tribune to express their disgust, as the Tribune reported on how the number of abortions done in Illinois is down by 3.7 percent in 2016, compared to 2010.

While there is a 41.5 percent increase in the number of women coming from other states to Illinois to terminate a pregnancy.

Part of it is the perception created by Gov. Bruce Rauner when he approved legislation ensuring that those relying on public health programs such as Medicaid for their healthcare can have the cost of their procedure covered.

THAT, OF COURSE, is one of the measures that has Jeanne Ives all riled up against him in this year’s primary election cycle. Although it may well be that after March 20, Ives and her rants will be history.

But the longer-lasting issue is that Illinois doesn’t have the many restrictive measures such as exist in surrounding states that make it complicated for a woman to terminate a pregnancy.

It’s part of the long-lasting strategy of the conservative ideologues who, if they can’t have the procedure made illegal, can make it a pain in the keister for a woman to actually obtain.

From the 72-hour time period before an abortion during which a woman must receive counseling (to advise her on the evils of what she’s contemplating doing) in Missouri, to the ultrasounds a woman must receive in Indiana (to try to make her feel guilty about the process) to the possible new law in Iowa that would outlaw abortion any time after a fetal heartbeat is detected, it’s all about gumming up the works.

THE 1973 ROE v. Wade ruling be damned; the consequences of a child being raised by a parent incapable of caring for it aren’t important. It all becomes about letting a woman know her place – and that is to procreate.

Of course, the notion that Illinois is a lot more sensible than the surrounding states of the Midwest is not new.

If Illinois’ sensibilities prevailed, there’s no way we’d have a “President Donald J. Trump.” It wouldn’t have mattered that there were parts of the state that took his ’16 campaign rhetoric/trash talk seriously.

But this is an issue that displays this variance in attitude all-too-clearly. Illinois has become the place where women have to turn to in order to receive a bit of medical care that other states want to play moralistic games with.

OF COURSE, I found it most interesting to read the Tribune account’s line of reasoning for the abortion decline in Illinois. Planned Parenthood officials say it is because women are getting better access to information about birth control – which means unwanted pregnancies aren’t occurring in the first place.

Although that, I’m sure, is a concept that offends the ideologues amongst us as well. Why would a woman want to avoid pregnancy if that is supposedly her primary purpose in life?
Illinois differs from neighboring states in many ways

Which is, in itself, a backward line of thought. Taking away from the freedom of choice about our lives that our society is supposedly based upon.

Then again, there are those who are just determined to complain. What would our society be without its malcontents who have a twisted sense of decency, and think we’re all supposed to live in a subservient position under them?

  -30-

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Supreme Court acting decently, but it could be opposite a year from now

For those people of a progressive mindset, the Supreme Court of the United States acted Monday in a responsible manner; although one should keep in mind that the nation’s high court ultimately is unpredictable and could wind up issuing rulings that offend the sensibilities of decent people.
Likely to offend somebody, no matter how they rule

For this is also the day that the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case out of Illinois that could go a long way toward undermining the influence of organized labor within government.

HECK, GOV. BRUCE Rauner himself made a point of being in Washington, D.C., for the morning court call. The man who got himself elected governor so he could single-handedly undermine labor unions in Illinois government wanted to be on hand to see, and hear, for himself what the high court thinks. Which Democratic gubernatorial challenger Daniel Biss said Monday is sufficient reason not to re-elect Rauner.

A ruling in that case will come up later this year, as likely will be any action the high court takes with regards to federal immigration policy – specifically the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program that President Donald J. Trump wants to have eradicated from out government.

That program is the one enacted during the Barack Obama presidency and is meant to treat young people who were brought as children to this country by their parents without valid visas.
DACA to live on, at least a little while longer

In the wildest of fantasies of all those individuals who voted for Trump, making America “great” again means deporting every single one of the roughly 700,000 young adults who fall into this category.

TRUMP LAST YEAR used his executive order powers to eliminate the program, but federal district courts in San Francisco and New York have issued orders that keep the program in place for the time being.

The president had asked the high court to immediately take up the case, instead of requiring both of the cases to go to federal appeals courts first. The Supreme Court on Monday refused, saying Trump hasn’t given sufficient reason why the usual legal process should be cut short.

Of course, the “reason” is that Trump is a political and governmental amateur who probably really thinks he ought to be able to bark out orders and have government minions do what they’re told. Privately, he probably thinks the Supreme Court is being insolent and disrespectful of his presidential authority.
Will the court ultimately undermine the union?

But it means the rule of law is prevailing, thus far. Although it always is likely that the appeals courts will rule, and the Supreme Court will wind up taking on the issue some time next year – and could wind up issuing a ruling that will be Trump-pleasing at that time.

I SAY SO because in the case of Janus vs. AFSCME Council 31 (which represents Illinois government workers), court watchers suspect the nine-member court had a 4-4 split, with the newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, the unknown who’d likely decide the case.

Gorsuch, of course, is the justice who got appointed by Trump himself, and Trump has made it clear he sides with Mark Janus (the state worker who objects on ideological grounds to being part of a labor union and doesn’t like that union dues are withheld from his pay).

Not that Gorsuch gave any hint of where he stands – during Monday’s hour-long hearing, he said nothing and asked no questions from any of the attorneys involved.

But it has certain people convinced that the end result will be a 5-4 ruling against organized labor interests and in favor of those people who’d actually be inclined to vote for Rauner’s re-election come Nov. 6.

WHICH IS ALWAYS possible, except that my own observations of appeals courts throughout the years is that nothing is absolute. Those of us of a progressive leaning can only hope the knee-jerk reaction doesn’t prevail.
TRUMP: How angry will he be a year from now?

Which also is what I’m telling myself with regards to the fate of DACA, since I suspect Gorsuch got his life-time appointment to the high court because Trump feels (at least) he can be counted on to do what The Donald expects of him.

Could we be getting another ruling on this immigration issue that will wind up offending the people who were pleased on Monday that any threat of deportation for hundreds of thousands of young people would be postponed for the time being?

Or will the high court wind up surprising us by issuing responsible rulings in both cases – thereby reaffirming our faith in our government, while most likely turning the presidential complexion from his current sickly orange to a bright red bursting with anger?

  -30-

Monday, February 26, 2018

EXTRA: $1,000 a bullet?

I had a friend who once joked (semi-seriously) about an alternative to gun control he believed would actually work.

DAVIS: Trying again on ammo tax hike
“Give guns away, but charge people exorbitant prices for ammunition,” he said “Charge $1,000 for every bullet, and people will think twice before firing a shot.

“IT WOULD BE too expensive to go around killing people,” he quipped.

Which makes me wonder if Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., has heard the same theory. He is sponsoring a bill (and has the support of Democratic gubernatorial Chris Kennedy) that calls for federal excise taxes on gun shells and cartridges from 11 percent to 50 percent.

Make it too costly to waste a shot on something stupid.

As to whether it has a chance of passing into law, one should keep in mind that this isn’t the first time Davis has touted this concept. He tried in 2014, and the bill never even came up for review.

WITH THE CURRENT partisan leanings of Congress, it’s not likely anybody cares what Davis would want on this issue.

But it is an issue to consider, particularly since Davis’ bill would use money from the tax to fund anti-violence programs.

And it probably will take some drastic, completely unheard of, action to break the cycle of violence which certain segments of our society seem to be determined to live.

While the $1,000 per round may not be realistic, it seems the actual cost ($149 for 1,000 9mm shells is one price I found Monday on the Internet) is way too accessible to the public.

  -30-

Race always manages to bring out the ‘stupid’ in our political people

There’s one great truth we can observe about our various levels of government – whenever racial issues come up in discussion, somebody is bound to talk stupid.
RAUNER; Diversity through dairy products

Either they get blatantly stupid and offensive in their remarks, or else they try to channel the old Bea Arthur character of Maude – who if you ever watched that show was the grand liberal and admirer of FDR who in her dealings with black people usually managed to come off condescending and show that in some ways, she wasn’t any better than her cousin, Edith’s, husband, Archie Bunker.

IT WAS A pair of stories in the news last week that put such a thought into my mind.

Or have we already forgotten Gov. Bruce Rauner’s great observations about the concept of milk mixed with chocolate syrup.

During an appearance at the Thompson Center state government building, Rauner was with a Hyatt Hotels executive – which was ironic enough considering that Hyatt is the company founded by the Pritzker family, of whom member J.B. is a potential challenger to Rauner in the Nov. 6 general election.

They were trying to emphasize the benefits of diversity amongst our populace by suggesting that a glass of plain white milk gets improved with chocolate syrup, and that when it’s stirred and thoroughly mixed it is superior.
HAROLD: GOPers wish she wasn't one of them?

“IT’S REALLY, REALLY good, diversity,” said Rauner. Which aside from being a trite observation may wind up being the ultimate quote of The Rauner Years of state government.

Then again, “I’m not in charge, Speaker Madigan is” likely can’t be topped by Rauner, or anyone else, when it comes to a vacuous comment. Particularly if one really thinks racial diversity can be reduced to a dairy product.

Although if one thinks Rauner had a vapid Wednesday last week, the very next day the Illinois attorney general’s race gave us a racial whopper likely to live on throughout the campaign season.

Republican attorney general hopeful Erika Harold allegedly was slurred with an ignorant racial label and also had her sexual orientation brought into question.
PRITZKER: His slurs relatively minor

A TOWNSHIP CHAIRMAN from DuPage County initially claimed that Harold had asked him to make the comments so that she could publicly refute them. He since has said he really didn’t say the things he’s alleged to – at least not that bluntly.

But Harold told the Chicago Tribune, “I was just shocked by it and I was thinking how inappropriate it is for this kind of questioning and comments to be part of what should be a professional conversation.”

Now the reason this comes up is that Harold is a black woman, and I don’t doubt there are many amongst the Republican following who resent that one of their party’s candidates for a statewide office is anything other than a white male.

I’m also sure they’re upset that a one-time Miss America (2003) would remain more than a decade later an unmarried woman. Even though on many social issues (such as abortion) Harold is completely in line with the modern-day Republican Party, they probably think she’s a closet Democrat – and someone who doesn’t fall in line their goal of “Making America Great Again.”

IT’S PART OF the reason I can’t take it too seriously when some people try to claim that Democrat Pritzker’s gubernatorial campaign is spewing racial taunts about black people. His private comments are downright trivial compared to what comes from others.
Normar Lear's string of 1970s TV hits remain relevant even today
Note I didn’t feel compelled to identify by name the DuPage County official who spewed trash (supposedly) about Harold. Mainly because I don’t want to give him too much recognition. I’m sure some voters will go out of their way to support him come Nov. 6, when his name appears on the ballot for an Illinois Senate seat.

Maybe they think that spewing racial slurs is somehow speaking the truth. Just as how some of them are criticizing Rauner’s milk stunt because they would have preferred him to speak out against racial diversity in our society.

While some people want to believe we in the 21st Century have moved beyond racism, the fear on my part is that those people are the ones who don’t want to discuss the issue because they don’t want to be called out on their negativity.

  -30-

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Improving our foreign relations likely would require dumping the isolationist nitwit chief executive we now have

What are the chances that the recently-completed Winter Olympic Games held in South Korea will kick off a process that could someday result in improved relations with the Communist North Korea?
TRUMP: Gets in the way of solutions?

Probably about the same as the notion that Mexico will some day take on the cost of actually building that ridiculous barricade that President Donald J. Trump has long fantasized about erecting along the U.S./Mexico border!

AS MORE EVIDENCE of how vacuous our nation’s president is when it comes to foreign policy, both issues are in the news these days, with Trump’s stubborn streak standing out as the reason nothing is likely to happen on either front.

Take the ongoing fight between the United States and Mexico over the border wall – the one that Trump foolishly thinks would have any impact on the flow of people between the two North American nations and which he insanely thinks the Mexican government would pay to have built.

Enrique Peña Nieto, Mexico’s president, was planning to make an official visit to Washington, D.C. sometime in March to have a one-on-one meeting with Trump. But Peña said he’s cancelling such a trip because of a 50-minute telephone conversation the two presidents had last week.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that Peña doesn’t see the point of antagonistic rhetoric, and Trump let it be known he’d likely use such a Mexican presidential visit to the White House as yet another excuse to spew his trash talk about how those crooked Mexicans were going to be forced to pay the construction cost of a border barricade that many Mexicans feel is blatantly offensive.

THE TWO OF them haven’t had an official meeting, unless you count the face-to-face meeting the two had at an international conference held in Germany.

It also seems there won’t be any real progress made in terms of relations between the two because Trump seems to value having antagonistic relations as a way of getting his ideological nitwit backers all riled up in support of him.
PENA NIETO: Won't meet w/ Trump

Get them to “Blame Mexico!” for whatever, and maybe they won’t pay attention to how little of worth is being accomplished by a Trump presidency, or how much harm is being caused.

Which is how I view the whole situation of the Koreas, where on Sunday South Korea President Moon Jae-In had a meeting with North Korea general Kim Jong-Chol – with hints it could be the first step toward talks that could include the United States.

NOT THAT THE United States had any interest in being part of the token gestures made as part of the Olympic Games in Peong-Chang – Vice President Mike Pence went out of his way to not be a part of anything.

Now I can comprehend the need to be wary – I’m sure that whatever actually occurred from any future talks, North Korean officials would try to spin it into the capitulation of the evil U.S. But talks have to begin somewhere.

And considering that we’re long hearing horror stories about how a North Korea with nuclear weapons and rockets capable of unleashing them on U.S. cities, you’d think this would be a priority.

But I suspect that just as Trump wants a Mexican “problem” so his politically-ignorant followers can have someone to complain about, he also wants a North Korean “villain” to keep people distracted from the many inactions of his presidency.
KIM: Who'd be the crazier in a meeting w/ Trump?

BECAUSE WITHOUT THESE gross exaggerations, we’d have to focus our attention on the fact that while Trump claims to have repealed 67 federal regulatory actions while only enacting 3 new ones, the New York Times reported this weekend that it’s an exaggeration.

More spewing of news as “fake” as anything the National Enquirer ever concocted.

That is, unless you’re all worked up over their recent How the Philly Mob Fixed the Super Bowl report?

  -30-

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Will political pressure get Illinois to act responsibly w/ regard to firearms?

The cynic in me wants to dismiss the rhetoric being offered up by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, where he says the Legislature will begin this coming week to review a series of measures calling for responsible regulation of firearms.
Should it really be easier to purchase these ...

Largely because I’m used to the idea of a certain segment of our population being knuckleheads whenever the issue is firearms, and also because I’d have to wonder “Why now?”

COULD IT BE that after all these years, Madigan and the Democratic majority that runs the General Assembly FINALLY sees the error of its lax ways and realizes something needs to be done.
... than this?

Or is this just a matter of Madigan being sick and tired of all the focus being put on the fact his office took its sweet time in dealing with allegations of sexual harassment against certain female staffers? And the perception by some that Madigan is more interested in reducing the political fallout, rather than addressing the problems that many women have in the workplace.

Perhaps I should be thankful that people are willing to address firearms, and not worry so much about the “whys” of the matter. Because it is long overdue for us as a society to realize that nobody ever intended for everybody to own as many firearms as they desire, and for whatever reason.
MADIGAN: Why is he bringing issue up?

The Second Amendment to the Constitution’s Bill of Rights isn’t written that broadly – no matter how much the conservative ideologues amongst us want to think it is.

WHICH IS WHY I find it interesting that Gov. Bruce Rauner in recent days keeps saying we need to be “respectful of our Constitution” whenever he’s asked about the need for laws regulating firearm ownership and use.

Considering the ideologues that Rauner will be trying to appeal to as he seeks re-election in the 2018 election cycle, I suspect that’s really his way of being coy and not coming right out and saying he’s prepared to use the “veto” pen to reject anything that Madigan and Democrats try to do on this issue.

Another reason, in my book, not to get all worked up over this issue and what might happen next week.
RAUNER: Constitutional 'respect' means veto?

For the record, Madigan issued a statement Friday saying the Illinois House of Representatives will take up several bills meant to address firearms.

THOSE INCLUDE REGULATION of gun dealers, restrictions on being able to purchase a military-style rifle and more laws making it clear that people with histories of mental illness probably shouldn’t be able to own such weapons.

They’re hoping that the recent string of incidents involving schools (including the one in Florida where 17 were killed, and it seems police at the scene hesitated before trying to enter) will provide the motivation to get political people to overwhelm the “gun nuts” who usually play too large a role in this debate.

My own belief on this issue (one that I know will p-o some individuals) is that owning a firearm ought to be like owning an automobile. We restrict who can have a driver’s license, how a car can be used, and always insist on saying that car ownership is a privilege – one that can be taken away from irresponsible people.
Will Illinois Statehouse become heated place we should keep our distance from next week?
Now before anyone sarcastically asks me if I ever have read the Second Amendment, I have. Personally, I think it is the part of the Constitution that has become obsolete in the 21st Century.

BECAUSE IT MAKES mention of militias, which once were thought would be the way the national defense would be provided for without a large standing army, I believe that not restricting one’s firearm ownership ability was because one serving in a militia would be expected to provide their own weapon.

The gun-rights people claim militias and their role are now replaced by the National Guard. Yet I’ve never heard of any guardsman called to duty who had to arm himself.

As far as making it tougher to get a firearm, I’d say it ought to be more difficult to do so than to buy an automobile. So here’s hoping the General Assembly proceeds with its Friday partisan talk.

I’d feel safer on our roads coexisting with bad drivers than with the thought of people who think they’re exercising some “all-American” right by having a pistol tucked in their belt and who – on some level – are looking for the excuse to pull out their weapon and shoot another human being. Wouldn’t you?

  -30-

Friday, February 23, 2018

Armed school teachers – a warped idea whose time has arrived? Let’s hope not!

As one who follows political debate, one of the realities is that ideas once considered absolutely ludicrous can eventually become a part of law. Which is why people opposing nonsense have to be vigilant and never presume they’ve “won” a fight.
Nonsense image is some peoples' reality

That is the thought popping into my head as I hear the continued debate in the wake of the school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead.

BECAUSE SOME OF the people feeling the need to argue against sensible regulation of firearms are pushing a line of thought that strikes me as blatantly absurd – arming the school teachers.

The premise being that when someone comes into a classroom or other situation in the presence of school children to pose a threat, the teacher can whip out their pistol and kill the s-o-b. Thereby saving children’s lives.

The part that amazes me are those individuals who think this is some new concept – an original idea that must now be imposed for our overall protection.

Which, of course, it isn’t. This idea gets brought up following every incident involving school children; as thought its proponents are hoping we’ll now be inclined to see life in their own loopy way of viewing things.

PERSONALLY, THE FIRST time I ever recall someone suggesting the arming of school children was nearly 30 years ago.

It was following the 1988 incident in the North Shore suburbs involving Laurie Dann, a mentally unstable woman who had her own little rampage that included – at one point – entering an elementary school classroom while armed with a pistol.

The crackpots of three decades ago argued that Dann’s rampage could have been brought to a quicker end if the teacher had been armed and merely shot her dead.
Armed faculty idea as old as Laurie Dann

Actually, the teacher in that particular incident did try to defend her students, and in fact managed to disarm Dann of one of her weapons – which may have lessened the eventual body count (one dead, five wounded). The idea of a gunfight involving a teacher wasn’t necessary.

PERSONALLY, I WISH I hadn’t had to recall the Dann debacle – which later was found to include attempts to poison people across the North Shore. She was a mentally disturbed person in her own right.

Although I wonder if the people who seriously talk about wanting to provide school teachers with firearms are even more twisted.

That includes President Donald J. Trump, who this week said he would want teachers with military or special training backgrounds to be armed and prepared to shoot back in such incidents.

I think all that would accomplish is having even more bullets flying through the air in a crisis situation – and the likelihood that one of the teacher’s stray bullets would wind up taking out a student.

TRUMP TRIES ARGUING that “sicko shooters” would be deterred from attacking school situations because they’re “cowards.”

I’d argue that anybody inclined to bring a firearm into such a situation most likely is mentally unstable and isn’t going to be deterred by anything or anyone. Which means they’re situations where the “cowboy” mentality is the one most likely to cause a situation to escalate into a bloodbath.
TRUMP: Probably thinks he originated idea

But this idea is one that doesn’t seem to want to go away. The knuckleheads amongst the ideologues in our society seem determined to cling to this concept of a pistol-packing school teacher hoping the day comes when they’ll be capable of pushing it through from a fantasy into reality.

Those of us with sense need to maintain a vigilance against the idea; if we’re going to truly maintain a semblance of a safe and sane society.

  -30-

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Is “Madigan” going to be the GOP response to “Trump?” “Dump Madigan!!!” tactic has failed before!

There’s a lot of political outcry these days that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, ought to give up the other political title he holds – that of Illinois Democratic Party chairman.
MADIGAN: Has his time really come?

The way it goes, people say that his slow response to dealing with allegations of sexual harassment by people connected to him shows that, at the very least, he should no longer be the top Democrat in parts of the state outside of Chicago.

PERSONALLY, I’M NOT getting on board this rhetorical railroad because I think many of the people who are spewing it are merely peeved that their own political party is going to have the embarrassment that is Donald J. Trump as a millstone around their own neck.

They feel the need to create a Democratic Party counterpart to the president who, thank goodness, gave up his own claims to once being a Democrat and decided to become a Republican when he began spewing his loony behavior on a political scale.

So I’m sure they are thinking that for every Illinois voter in the March 20 primary and the Nov. 6 general elections who casts their ballot with thoughts of reigning in Trump, they will create an equal number of people who will vote with the phrase “Blame Madigan!!!” burned into their brains.

They hope that they can impose as much damage to Democrats as Trump will cause for Republicans in Illinois. This may well become an election cycle for Illinoisans to reveal whom they despise the most.
TRUMP: Despised by more than anybody

NOW I DON’T doubt that Madigan isn’t that well liked amongst people who don’t pay much attention to government or electoral politics. That’s what happens when you’ve managed to survive on the scene for nearly a half century (dating to 1971, when he was 29). You build up enemies.

But he has the advantage of actually appearing on the ballot in one lone Illinois House district in the area surrounding Midway Airport. Where it seems the local voters enjoy the idea that their state representative is all-powerful and can order about other people.

The idea of beating Madigan himself is a long-shot.
RAUNER: Hopes anti-Madigan vote propels victory

Because he has control of the political party post and can influence how much campaign funding Democratic legislators have, he gets many of the senators and representatives who bear the mark of “D” following their names to go along with him.

WHICH, IF YOU think about it, is similar to the number of Republican legislators who are going to ignore Gov. Bruce Rauner’s ideological leanings on certain issues because he’s the guy dishing out his own personal funds to their campaigns.

This long-shot thought has been revealed in past election cycles.

Let’s not forget that Rauner himself campaigned heavily in 2014 by trying to tie the “Madigan” image to every Democrat (many of whom wound up winning). The same happened in 2010 – only it was William Brady (who has since become Illinois Senate minority leader these days instead of finishing a second term as governor) who tried the tactic and failed.

The bottom line! I don’t think enough people will let their thoughts about Madigan influence their vote. Even if they want to believe that Madigan should have reacted more vociferously (and quickly) to the sexual harassment allegations now underway.

PARTICULARLY SINCE IT can be argued that Madigan seems more willing to sacrifice low-level people so long as he preserves his political structure.
BRADY: Blaming Madigan didn't win '10


Yet let’s be honest; Trump himself has so many similar incidents involving various women in his background – to the point where I wonder that if first lady Melania Trump were to whack her husband upside the head for his behavior, would the Secret Service feel compelled to treat it as a presidential assault or deserved behavior by a wife against a cheating husband?

I don’t see anybody who takes the sexual harassment issue seriously at any level voting for the opposition, or thinking that the Party of Trump is in any way more acceptable on this issue.

Which could make such “Blame Madigan!!!” tactics liable to fail for yet another election cycle – and the 2020 election cycle resulting in 50 years worth of ballots in which “Mr. Speaker” has his name on them, and wins!

  -30-

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Posting pictures at United Center entrances -- how else to ban them?

Chicago Blackhawks officials say four fans of the hockey team are now banned from the United Center for life because of their behavior at a weekend game against the Washington Capitals.

You know, the four who insisted on shouting racially-motivated taunts at a black Capitals player during his time in the penalty box!

THE BLACKHAWKS HAVE made all the appropriate statements how they’re appalled that any of their fans could have such horrid thoughts. A lot of people are engaging in verbiage meant to make themselves sound appropriately concerned.

Yet the truth is I don’t have a clue how you can possibly do anything to enforce this; unless you can find a way to put a Scarlet Letter, of sorts, on all the racist knuckleheads of our society.

Many of whom, if you branded them with a “K” (or a “B” for bigot) would probably take it as a badge of honor – that’s how twisted their thought processes are.

I don’t have a clue how the Blackhawks can say they’re banning four individuals from the stadium and their games. Do we literally post their pictures at the stadium entrance – with orders that the quartet be shot on sight if they try to attend a game.

DO WE EXTEND it to all the ticket services that none of the four ever be sold tickets to a Blackhawks game?

Maybe we should ban them from even following hockey games or teams? Although I don’t have a clue how this could be enforced.

Many people have gone out of their way to say the proper things, but I’m not convinced there’s going to be any serious change in attitudes or behavior.

Because a part of me believes that many sports fans are serious believers of Homer J. Simpson when he once said, “This ticket (to a ballgame) doesn’t just give me a seat. It also gives me the right, no the duty, to make a complete ass of myself.”

WHICH THOSE FOUR fans now banned from the hockey arena certainly did on Saturday when they insisted on implying that a black player doesn’t belong in hockey.

What I find almost humorous (but in a pathetic way) is the marketing campaign the National Hockey League has ongoing these days – “Hockey is for Everyone,” which is supposed to make the sport out to be something for all, and not just for white people from Canada.

In fact, the Blackhawks had a promotion based on the theme during their Thursday match against the Anaheim Ducks. It seems the message of a “safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status” didn’t take.

Because just two days later, the incident singling out Devante Smith-Pelly occurred. Although the Blackhawks’ lone black player, Anthony Duclair, said those four fans’ bad behavior wasn’t in any way unique, or isolated.

I’M SURE THOSE four fans, along with many others, are prepared to dismiss the whole affair as a lot of ‘politically correct’ trash talk about nothing. There probably isn’t anything that can be done to change such attitudes, or convince them of how big of knuckleheads they truly are.

Now I’ll admit to not being much of a hockey fan (although I appreciate the significance to the Chicago sports scene of a team that has three Stanley Cup championships in this decade). Part of it is that I have never ice-skated – and floor hockey is a second-rate game that filled up some childhood gym class time.

I’m sure that is true for many others – particularly in parts of the country where the existence of ice and snow is considered a myth.

Which means we’re likely to see more continued bad behavior – and most likely the instances of the four banished from the United Center finding a way to sneak into a Blackhawks game; while taking a perverse pride in being able to do so.

  -30-

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

There’s a perfectly-good reason they call this time of year the ‘silly season’

We’re one month away from Election Day, as in when we the electorate declare our partisan intentions and decide whom each of the political parties will have on the ballot come the Nov. 6 general elections.
BISS: The $56 man?

Which means we’re already enduring more than our share of stupidity in the name of politics – and we’re going to get 30 more days between now and the primaries.

YOU COULD CUT short the amount of time you have to care about such nonsense if you decide to cast your ballot at an early voting center. March 5 is the day people can start showing up to express themselves early.

Yet we’re enduring all kinds of stunts.

Such as the one by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Daniel Biss – who officially pulled out his checkbook and wrote out a $56 check to his own campaign.

It was supposed to be a mocking of the $7 million more than overly-wealthy opponent J.B. Pritzker gave to himself – bringing his total campaign fund to $56.7 million.

BISS, IN A video snippet he posted on Facebook, said he can’t come close to matching that amount of money. So instead, he coughed up $56 – while asking individuals to also donate $56, in hopes that the overall total will add up to something significant.
PRITZKER: Biss tries to mock his millions

While also trying to make a deeper point that Biss, a one-time mathematics teacher turned state senator from Evanston, is closer to being like everyday people than Pritzker.

Or even the other Democratic challenger, Chris Kennedy, whom Biss claims has given some $1.2 million of his own money to his gubernatorial campaign. Which means that no matter who wins a month from now, there is going to be a lot of self-money wasted on political fantasy.

While also showing that Biss’ own level of support is limited to the point where one could argue a vote cast for him is a vote wasted.

THE ONE THING I do know is that I probably shouldn’t go wearing a “Biss” campaign button on the day I show up at a polling place. I usually don’t give much thought to what I wear for that occasion – other than that I’ll get that sticker reading “I Voted!” to paste on myself that day.
Campaigning by intimidation?

It seems, however, that the Supreme Court of the United States is going to give thought to this issue. A week from Wednesday, the nation’s high court will hear arguments in a case out of Minnesota – where Tea Party-type activists are challenging state laws that required them to cover up the party t-shirts they wanted to wear while voting.

It may be subtle, but I don’t doubt it is intimidation in its own form. Just as I suspect every jackass who insists on wearing one of those ridiculous “Make America Great Again” caps is looking to provoke a reaction from everybody who doesn’t agree with them.

Although it’s not as blunt as a few years ago, when on Election Day, a polling place worker insisted on saying “Don’t Vote for the Son” as he guided us to empty ballot machines – remember Todd Stroger (the son of John) running for Cook County Board president re-election in 2010?

I ALSO GOT my chuckle from a campaign mailing I received from Patricia Joan Murphy – who’s running for the Cook County Board seat her late mother (Joan Patricia Murphy) held for many years.
Thorough instructions

The mailing included postcards I could send in to the county clerk’s office so that I can cast my ballot by mail. I don’t even have to show up at a polling place.

The card is actually an application to Cook County to send me a ballot to fill out at home. And for what it’s worth, Murphy’s postcards are already marked in a way to ensure I’m sent a Democratic Party primary ballot. How thoughtful (heavy sarcasm intended) of her.

It’s almost enough to make me want to pick a Republican ballot. But then I’d have to be confronted with the thought of the worst of evils between Gov. Bruce Rauner and challenger Jeanne Ives. Too nauseating to contemplate.

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Monday, February 19, 2018

Sports fans say they want escape from life's tensions, but mostly only want their own attitudes reinforced

I found myself enjoying some baseball this weekend, in the form of the college baseball tourney recently renamed for one-time Chicago Cubs star Andre Dawson.

The new namesake of HBCU tourney
That tournament played this weekend in the much milder weather of New Orleans gave the University of Illinois at Chicago Flames a chance to start out their season away from the Saturday afternoon snowfall we had in Chicago. But the rest of the schools participating were southern in nature, and most were the HBCUs of the country.

THAT’S AS IN Historically Black Colleges and Universities – the schools that date back to when black people were excluded from traditional higher education, so a class of colleges sprung up to create opportunities.

Those colleges aren’t exclusively black enrollment anymore, but there are some people who feel more comfortable trying to get a higher education in an environment where they’re not the minority. This weekend, places like Alabama State, Alcorn State, Grambling, Southern, Prairie View A&M and Arkansas-Pine Bluff got to show their stuff on the baseball diamond.

I’m sure there are going to be some people who will be offended that such a tournament is taking place. The Major League Baseball website is filled with nameless comments calling the tourney "a joke" and emphasizing they'd never heard of it before. But then again, they’re the ones whose idea of integration is that everybody act as though they were white.

They are the first to scream “racist!” (or their favorite taunt, “reverse racism!”) whenever something comes along that forces them to admit racial bias still exists. They don’t want to be called out on their own Archie Bunker-like tendencies.
Helping to advise new HBCU tourney

IT WAS NICE to see that Major League Baseball is giving this particular tournament some support and publicity. What with Dawson (who played college ball at the historically-black Florida A&M University) giving his name, and one-time Chicago White Sox manager Jerry Manuel serving as a consultant.

For what it was worth, it was nice to be able to ignore the Saturday snowfall that reminded us winter ain’t through by any means to see baseball being played – with the Flames overcoming a 4-3 deficit in the 9th inning to ultimately win the ballgame 9-5.

Which makes me feel sorry for those people who are going to want to think I wasted my Saturday afternoon away by watching some lower class of baseball. One they probably think is not worthy of any public attention.
Wrong sport? Or knucklehDeaded fans?

Probably the same kind of people who get upset whenever anybody points out the declining number of black ballplayers currently on Major League rosters. They’ll argue black people just don’t play baseball that much, and we shouldn’t think it an issue.

LIKELY, THEY BELIEVE the lasting lesson of 2014 and the Little League World Series that the Jackie Robinson West team from Chicago is that a majority-black ball club can only win if it cheats.

Yet this kind of attitude isn’t limited to baseball and springtime. Take hockey, where also on Saturday several Chicago Blackhawks fans were ejected from the United Center for their racially-tainted taunts of visiting team players.

Specifically, of Devante Smith-Pelly, a forward for the Washington Capitals who is one of the few black players in the National Hockey League.

When he was sent to the penalty box during the game, Blackhawks fans taunted him with a reminder that they thought he was playing the wrong sport.

FOUR FANS WERE kicked out of the stadium and the Blackhawks issued an apology, yet the Internet is filled with rants (anonymous, of course) contending that people were too sensitive about the slur (which was “basketball, basketball, basketball).

Black Lives matter activists “can call for the deaths and killings of police officers and that’s considered free speech?... Enough of this out-of-control absurd political correctness,” one Chicago Tribune commenter wrote.
Now playing for Toronto, Granderson was on hand to root for alma mater Flames

Of course, the very phrase “political correctness” has become a way of judging one’s racial attitudes – the ones who toss it out usually are upset that they’re being called out for their own bouts of verbal nastiness. As though their free speech right entitles them to the last word on EVERYTHING!

The sad part is that it means we can’t get away from this racial nonsense even at the ballpark or the stadium. Even though the ironic part is that many sports fans claim they follow ballgames as a form of escape – what they really seem to want is to have their own close-minded thoughts reaffirmed.

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Is anyone really shocked the jail inmates cheered for the cop killer?

I really have a hard time believing that Cook County sheriff’s police officials could be shocked that jail inmates awaiting their day in court on Thursday would cheer for the guy who’s facing criminal charges for the shooting death earlier this week of Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer.
Defendant? Or anti-hero?
If anything, I’d be shocked to learn they had been respectful of their jailers, or the legal system that I’m sure many of them believe is railroading them into a few years’ residence within the state prison system.

NEWS ACCOUNTS FROM both of the major metro newspapers (Sun-Times, Tribune) indicate the sheriff, who runs the county jail and criminal courts complex, wants to identify the disrespectful inmates.

With their names to be turned over to the assistant state’s attorneys who are prosecuting their pending criminal cases. Their hope is that someday, those disrespectful inmates will have extra time added to their punishments because of their behavior this week.

While several of the inmates awaiting trial in Cook County may wind up finding themselves transferred to county jails elsewhere. They may wind up awaiting trial in some rural county jail where their legal proceedings will be far more complicated to carry out.

But a little bit of inconvenience is being deemed as warranted for acting as though Shomari Legghette were some sort of hero because of the half-dozen gunshots he fired when Bauer tried to catch him Wednesday at the Thompson Center state government building.

THE NEWSPAPERS ARE going along with this tone – the county sheriff provided video taken of a holding cell so we can see, and hear, crude images of the cheering inmates as Legghette is brought past their cell en route to the courtroom – where a judge decided that Legghette should await trial inside the jail without the option of bond.

Now I’m not saying I think these inmates were anything but buffoons in the way they behaved, or that Bauer (who will get the full-ritual police funeral on Saturday) is deserving of disrespect.

It’s just that I wouldn’t expect anything but tacky behavior from jail inmates.

No matter what legal basis there is for saying these men (including Legghette) are innocent until proven guilty, the fact is that many of them are misfits from the standard beliefs of our society.

WHICH IS WHAT led most of them to actions that would bring them under suspicion by police and prosecutors and cause them to have criminal charges pending against them.

Besides, there’s something about incarceration that would break the spirit of just about anybody – surround yourself with enough misfits, and you’ll find yourself starting to take on their ideals.

I remember one time I was inside the Stateville Correctional Center near Joliet (as a reporter-type person). As the group I was with was passing the roundhouses, we could hear the inmates taunting us – letting us know they regarded us as being as much a part of the problem as anybody else.

It was execution duty (back in the days when Illinois still committed homicide in the name of justice), and the inmates let me and others know we would “burn in Hell” as much as anyone else for being a part of the ritual.

I ALSO RECALL crude and vulgar threats shouted specifically at the prison staffers – letting them know how they would be “f---ed up” by the inmates if they ever wound up inside the prison proper.

With that kind of mentality, it wouldn’t shock me in the least to learn that some of the county jail inmates (some of whom are bound to wind up in the Illinois Corrections Department eventually) would think cheers and applause would be worthy of a man charged with the shooting death of a cop.
Could he be Cook County sheriff?

So to learn that aides to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart are saying the inmate behavior is “disgraceful and despicable, just beyond the pale” has a familiar ring to it.

Something similar to that of Capt. Renault from “Casablanca,” when he uttered his now-memorable line about being “shocked, shocked to learn that gambling is taking place on the premises” of Rick’s Café. Both of them are worthy of an equally insincere sigh.

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