Thursday, May 31, 2018

EXTRA: Lingering since my high school days, ERA gets approval. Or is it just Illinois asserting its “blue” nature?

Politics and government from back in the days when I was a high schooler – Ronald Reagan and Harold Washington became, respectively, president and Chicago mayor. Adlai Stevenson III gave up his U.S. Senate seat and came, oh so close, to becoming Illinois governor.
Illinois history? Or state remaining solidly blue?

And people seriously quarreled over the Equal Rights Amendment, which never became a reality in large part because Illinois failed to act to ratify it.

NOW, WE ADVANCE three-and-a-half decades to the present day, where there are those who are going about saying Illinois finally got off its collective behind and voted to ratify the constitutional amendment that says a person’s right to equal treatment should not be limited by their gender.
WASHINGTON: A mayoral dream for many

For the Illinois House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to approve the amendment – making Illinois the 37th state to do so. Get 38 states to go along, and you have a change to the U.S. Constitution!

Yet I’m not convinced that Illinois’ action means much of anything – except showing that Illinois is NOT among the states where conservative ideologues prevail on social issues.

I actually think there’s a better chance that the head cheerleader of my high school days will suddenly pop back into my life and throw herself at me, than that Illinois’ action actually means the Equal Rights Amendment is now a part of law. And yes, I realize that's a very un-ERA type of thought to have.

IT ALL COMES back to the notion that there is a time limit on considering constitutional amendments, and the issue of the ERA far exceeded that limit.
REAGAN: The far-right fantasy

Which was March 22 1979 – although Congress voted to extend it to June 30, 1982. It still failed to get the 38 states for ratification – with Illinois’ refusal to consider the measure considered by some the move that killed the ERA.

I know of some political people who, to this day, still want to blame then-Illinois House Speaker George Ryan for the ERA’s failure and think that act is more heinous than his behavior later as secretary of state and governor that got him a six-year prison term.

So I’m not sure of the significance of the 72-45 vote the Illinois House took Wednesday, with some people who might have been sympathetic to the ERA’s goals voting “no” because they considered it a pointless action.
STEVENSON: Came so close to being gov.

I KNOW THAT from my standpoint, the General Assembly had better come up with a state budget for the upcoming fiscal year – an act it has not been able to do in any of the past three years.

If the Illinois House couldn’t sign off on a budget (which does impact state government’s daily activity) before adjourning Thursday night for the summer months but managed to find time to deal with the abstraction that the ERA has become, then there are going to be those who question political priorities.

And yes, I realize that government officials are capable (or at least they’re supposed to be) of addressing multiple issues.

But anybody who’s acting as though the Illinois House made history on Wednesday, they’re living in the past. Wednesday’s vote would have been of great historic significance for Illinois had it been done back when I was a high school junior – and not at a time when I have a nephew finishing up his high school days.
SCHLAFLY: ERA opponent rolling over in grave?

PARTICULARLY SINCE THE Equal Rights Amendment is such a simple, declarative sentence that says all people ought to be treated equal – one whose approval should not have been any kind of controversy.

All that talk by critics about how it means the genders will have to share public bathrooms is just a bunch of bunk. Which remains all these years later among the most absurd argument I’ve ever heard made against an issue.

People opposing the Equal Rights Amendment back then and still today? It says more about your hang-ups in life than anything wrong with the concept itself.

  -30-

What’s more important to Illinois govt.; a state budget or partisan politics?

I’d like to be wrong.

I’d like to be dismissed as being overly cynical.

RAUNER: How badly does he need a budget?
I’D BE VERY happy if, by the time you read this commentary, Illinois government has a tentative budget for the state’s upcoming fiscal year.

But the decades of time I have spent writing about the workings of our government officials bring me to the conclusion that I’m not going to believe we will have a budget for the 2019 fiscal year (which begins July 1) until I actually see evidence that the governor has put his “Bruce Rauner” on the bottom line and signed it into law.

Not even the reports I have been reading saying that officials could start off the process of approving a budget late Wednesday, which could result in something getting final legislative approval on Thursday, ease my skepticism.

There’s just too many ways that the talks taking place thus far can be thrown all out of whack, and not just because of the details that will come up in any legitimate spending proposal.

WHAT’S ULTIMATELY GOING to decide whether a budget can be put together is the degree to which ALL officials decide they’re willing to engage in, what some people cynically call, “the people’s business.”

MADIGAN: Will a minion thwart a budget?
The fact is that IF government officials in Illinois manage to put together a budget for Fiscal ’19, it would be the first time they’ve been able to do so in years. As in dating back to the days of Pat Quinn as governor.

Which isn’t really any testament to the political abilities of Quinn himself. It’s more a matter of the degree to which Gov. Rauner has placed his political agenda (a desire to undermine the influence of organized labor within state government) above the daily operations of Illinois.

If Rauner can’t get a budget in place for state government prior to the actual beginning of the fiscal year (which many, many governors have managed to do – even many Republican officials who had to deal with Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago), then he literally will become the governor who never was able to do a budget during his gubernatorial term.
QUINN: At least he passed budgets

THAT’S EXACTLY THE kind of “talking point” that would sway voters into thinking this Rauner guy is too inept to be worthy of a new term.

I understand that part of the reason we may get a budget agreement this time around is because Republicans are loosening up any opposition they might usually have. They want a budget, over all.

Yet it wouldn’t shock me if there are at least a few legislators of the Democratic political persuasion who would love for the Rauner campaign to have to seek re-election as an inept governor who couldn’t even handle a “basic” task as budgeting the state’s monies.

They may decide that such an “issue” is more important than another year of financial problems. A petty (and craven) way of thinking of things, yet it is one that political people of all persuasions are capable of thinking.

NOT THAT I’M saying I think Rauner is giving up on any of his principles. If he does manage to get re-elected come Nov. 6, I suspect he’ll become even more hard-headed in a second term than he ever was in a first.

Consider his new digital ad, the 43-second spot where he touts his desire to do a rebuild of Illinois similar to the idea that the Chicago Cubs turned themselves from a historically-pathetic joke of a baseball franchise into a championship ball club back in 2016.

The way Rauner puts it, the Cubs’ rebuild took 7 years, and he claims giving him another term in office would ensure he has seven years to rebuild Illinois (it probably would take much longer, but that’s a point for debate in a future commentary).

A part of me thinks this ad is Rauner’s backup plan, in the event that something comes up and the Illinois General Assembly’s spring session ends Thursday night (the deadline) without a budget on its way to the governor’s desk for review. A short-sighted strategy in that it manages to offend the sensibilities of the more rational amongst us in Illinois who prefer the White Sox or St. Louis Cardinals.

  -30-

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

EXTRA: Oh, be quiet; both of you!

Comedian/actor Roseanne Barr says her use of Ambien means she she shouldn’t be blamed for any thoughts she expressed while using Twitter – not even any nincompoop ideas about one-time Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett and a certain movie.

BARR: Claims she was overly-medicated
While President Donald J. Trump continues to insist during a rally in Nashville, Tenn., that Mexico WILL PAY the cost of erecting that physical barricade he wants built along the U.S./Mexico border – even though it wouldn’t accomplish a thing toward reducing the flow of people into the United States of the kind that the nativist element considers to be undesirable.

TRUMP: What's his excuse?
IT MAKES ME wonder which one qualifies as the Nitwit of the Week for this final week of May, 2018.

One could argue it is the president because he continues to harp on this issue and make his same rant – even though it doesn’t become any more accurate no matter how often or how loudly he shouts it out!

But I’m willing to give the “honor” to Roseanne, because she’s the woman who on Tuesday told us she was through with Twitter because of the controversy that has arisen and that may have permanently ruined her reputation (which wasn’t really all that stellar to begin with).

Yet I’ve lost count of the number of Tweets she has spewed since supposedly silencing herself – including the comment about blaming Ambien for her ignorance. It seems some people just don’t know how to just shut up, which is what the real majority of our society would prefer.

  -30-

Valerie Jarrett makes the news by not putting foot in mouth, unlike Roseanne

Valerie Jarrett has quite the life story – a former advisor to mayors Harold Washington and Richard M. Daley. A senior adviser during the presidency of Barack Obama.
Roseanne tried to insult Valerie Jarrett, ...

She’s even a former chairwoman of the Chicago Transit Board (which oversees all those CTA trains and buses) and also has held positions on several corporate boards. She even is the first female student to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. That’s a lot more accomplishment than most people achieve in life.
... but wound up trashing herself instead

YET LET’S BE honest. There’s a good chance that in the eyes of the general public, Jarrett is going to be noted as significant for the fact that she took down the career of one Roseanne.

And she didn’t have to do anything directly – only conduct herself with more sophistication than the actress/comedian who seems to want to think she’s the voice of all those people who think Donald Trump represents “real Americans.”

Now keep in mind that it isn’t the least bit unusual for people to use social media accounts such as Twitter to spout out stupid things.
Will 'Roseanne'  rerun rep become as tainted ...

Which is what Roseanne did when she posted a little blurb Tuesday where she managed to use less than 50 characters (much less than the 140 maximum permitted) to defame Jarrett.

AS ROSEANNE PUT it, “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” It’s not at all uncommon for bigots to make wisecracks comparing black people to apes. Some people just have a proclivity for saying something stupid.

But when people tried responding to Roseanne by calling her out on her ignorance, she initially tried responding that calling someone “muslim” isn’t racist and that the whole thing was intended to be a joke.

As though it’s the fault of others who want to call out bigotry. Either that, or else Roseanne is like many other ideological nitwits who think that freedom of speech only applies to themselves and that NO ONE is permitted to respond.
... as "The Cosby Show" rep?

Even though the concept really means we all can retort to each other until our minds are all worn out.

BUT THE OUTCRY became intense enough that Roseanne felt compelled to send out a final twit saying, “I apologize.” While also saying she was through with Twitter.

Not good enough, as ABC has said they’re cancelling Roseanne’s self-named comedy program. The one that gave her a television legacy some two decades ago and which she attempted a reboot this year.

That reboot actually finished up its first comeback season last week and had network executives convinced she was going to be a significant part of next TV season’s programming lineup.

That is, until Tuesday afternoon, when ABC officials decided that the outcry over Roseanne’s Twitter account was so intense that they’d just as soon cancel her. Several of the Roseanne cast members are now going out of their way to distance themselves from her gag. Its very likely that when Roseanne dies and her obituary is written, this will wind up being a significant moment – perhaps even the lede.
Life's lesson; 'Planet of Apes' gags are lame

CAREER SUICIDE IN a matter of hours. And for the record, Jarrett only referred to the incident as "a teaching moment," admitting she benefits from many people willing to come to her defense. Comparable to the way some perceive a level of class and sophistication the Obama years gave our society, compared to this Age of Trump we’re now in.

Not that Jarrett needs to say anything against Roseanne. Why help your critic by doing or saying anything that detracts from their own stupidity?

The sad thing is that the show’s producers tried to make some comedic hay out of the fact that Roseanne herself is a Trump backer and might actually become a way of putting a more positive spin on those people.

Yet did Roseanne unintendedly wind up showing us a real truth with her so-called sense of humor? Which, for those of us who feel a sense of shame that anybody in our society finds these days appealing, makes this incident the ultimate punchline for use against the Trump-ites.

  -30-

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The biggest ‘bust’ of Chicago baseball; and no, we don’t need Morgana jokes

We’re at the passing of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, and it means that baseball fans can now seriously study the standings and figure out if 2018 is a season with a serious chance at a championship.
Would Cub fans prefer Yu in Texas?


Or a year that will amount to little more than a stinkeroo!

MORE THAN ONE-quarter of the season has passed. It’s blatantly obvious that 2018 will be the painful part of the experience in watching the Chicago White Sox do a thorough rebuild of their ball club into something resembling championship quality.

And as for the Chicago Cubs? Their fans are delusional enough to think they’re in the midst of a New York Yankees-style dynasty, although it shouldn’t be a surprise if the Wrigley faithful get a season with barely a winning record, but one that falls short of a playoff appearance.

The year 2016 is as over-and-done with as is 2005. Chicago’s two seasons of World Series-winning ball clubs in this century are a thing of the past.

And as for who’s the sorriest excuse of a ballplayer toiling away in Chicago? I say it’s a split.

THE 80-GAME SUSPENSION that White Sox catcher Welington Castillo got for use of performance-enhancing drugs regarded as steroids brings some shame to the Sox – particularly since he’s the first Chicago ballplayer to get caught in a steroids-related scandal and wind up suspended.

A fact I don’t doubt is giving Cubs fans something to snicker about – particularly since talk about steroids and Chicago baseball usually becomes a rant about the fraudulent ways of one Samuel Peralta Sosa and those '90s-era home runs he hit in Cubbie blue.

But let’s be honest. For all the digs one might want to take at Castillo, no one expected him to be capable of doing much. Castillo was the nine-year baseball veteran whom the White Sox acquired because somebody has to catch the ballgames this season – and the baseball prospects whom the team thinks will be the catcher come the better days of 2020 (they hope) is still lingering in the minor leagues.

Would Castillo's suspension look better in Arizona?
Whereas Yu Darvish of the Cubs was the big-name pitching acquisition the team obtained to bolster the ball club. He was supposed to be the piece that would ensure the Cubs would be a legitimate National League pennant contender once again this year.

INSTEAD, DARVISH HAS become a disappointment who can’t last long into ballgames (and certainly doesn’t win them).

He’s also in the midst of his second stint on the disabled list. It’s only been 50 games into a 152-game season, and Darvish has been taken down by the flu and tendinitis.

Certainly not the durable “ace” of old who can be counted on to “take to the mound” every five games and keep his ball club competitive.

Moreso than anything or anyone else, Darvish is having the season that will be most memorable for 2018 being an utter disappointment.

IT’S NO LONGER possible to say that it’s early and things will turn around in coming games. Yet only the most delusional of Cubs fans think that Yu won’t turn out to be the bust of Chicago baseball, if not all of Major League Baseball for the year.

So big a bust that it’s a wonder we’re not getting more jokes about Morgana – the one-time busty “kissing bandit” of baseball who used to charge onto playing fields in mid-game to give a smooch to some unsuspecting ballplayer (and whom some players used to say had extremely greasy lips).

Can anyone top the memory of Morgana?
We’re getting close to the point where many of the local sports fans will be focusing more on the Chicago Bears, and the “story” on the South Side will be the brawl with the Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals to see which team will finish season ’18 with the American League’s worst record.

And the Second City’s baseball fandom will focus on the possibility of the Cubs holding on to competitiveness long enough to match up with the White Sox’ potential for future greatness that we might actually get a “City Series”-type World Series some time around 2020 or ’21 -- which would be a "first" in about 115 years.

  -30-

Monday, May 28, 2018

How un-American can we get; spraying cemetery swastikas for Memorial Day

I feel sorry for those cemetery work crews in Glen Carbon – an Illinois-based suburb of St. Louis – who had to spend their Saturday sweating it out in the summer-time heat scrubbing swastikas that were spray-painted on head stones at a local cemetery.
Who in 'right' mind wants to bring this back?

For officials with the Sunset Hill Cemetery found headstones vandalized Saturday morning, and they wanted to be sure the mess was cleaned up prior to Monday.

THE LAST THING that anybody wanted was the symbol of Nazi-era Germany defacing the grave markers – particularly those of people who might have served in the military back in the World War II era.

On the day we pay tribute to those soldiers, sailors, air corps and marines who fought in the many wars our nation has taken part in, it is sad that we have some nincompoop out there who thinks it’s funny to deface graves with the symbol of the “enemy” whom we fought against.

Either that, or perhaps we have an idiot who thinks we fought a war against the “wrong” enemy! Believe it or not, there are those with enough screws loose that their vision of what “America” is all about would have had us aligned with the Axis Powers of old.

And the odd thing is, many of them have enough of a militaristic attitude that would have them believe such a viewpoint is what this country ought to be about.

SOMETHING I’D THINK the people who actually fought in that particular war would find particularly repulsive. But then again, the surviving veterans of World War II are such that they’ve reached their 90s in age – if they’re even still alive.

Meaning many of us don’t have a direct memory of what that conflict was about. Which is why we get those endless studies showing young people of today don’t comprehend Hitler or the Holocaust. Maybe they think such stories are more examples of “fake news,” because, after all, nobody could have been that delusional or vicious in their behavior.

So yes, I’m bothered by the stories that came out of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the vandalized cemetery – although it also seems some houses near the cemetery also got tagged with the swastika. Which almost reminds me of that old “All in the Family” episode where someone tagged the front door of Archie Bunker’s bungalow with a swastika – and he tried to cover it up with a U.S. flag, only to be found out because he hung the flag on the door backwards!
Happening in real-life now as it happened on TV then

Some 1,300 military veterans are buried in that particular cemetery, and officials plan a noon-hour ceremony on Monday to pay tribute to those individuals.

SO IT WOULD seem that somebody was hoping to make a visual statement – one about what they think would “Make America Great Again” perhaps? And if you think I’m exaggerating such a viewpoint, consider the anonymous rants to be found on the Internet.

I literally found one person who thinks that such vandalism is to be expected because of the disrespect being shown by, “governments taking down and destroying monuments and history.”

As though not considering someone like Jefferson Davis or Robert E. Lee to be heroic is the same thing. The actual comparison would be someone lighting crosses ablaze at the remains of old “colored” cemeteries.

On the positive side, police in Edwardsville actually came up with security camera video that captured grainy images of the suspected vandal in the area at the alleged time of the incident.

THERE EVEN HAS been an arrest. Although just what kinds of criminal charges that individual will face remains to be determined. I’m pretty sure, though, that there will be some people willing to make a martyr out of the individual – whose idea of a political “statement” involved running around in the dark with an aerosol spray can of black paint.
Don't see where swastika fits in

Personally, I’d rather remember on this Memorial Day the individuals who fought against such ideals that these nitwits are superficially supporting.

It’s like some people want to keep refighting the old wars – and they’re counting on our apathy as a society to permit them to have a chance at victory.

Without it, our “American” ideals (which are nowhere as narrow as they want to make them out to be) are what will continue to prevail!

  -30-

Saturday, May 26, 2018

EXTRA: Are you sure foreigners are taking over everything in this nation?

I spent my Saturday afternoon in the Pilsen neighborhood, checking out the set-up along 18th Street and the Mole de Mayo festival.
McDonald's on a street named for Cesar Chavez, or ...
It’s an event intended to give various restaurants a chance to show off their special recipes for that uniquely Mexican dish – mole. That mix of the cocoa bean and assorted spices mixed into a sauce served atop chicken, turkey or other meats.
... mariachis playing in between Giordano's and Subway? Photos by Gregory Tejeda

IT HAPPENS TO be a personal favorite of mine, and I was anxious to try unique variations on the dish (which my mother often served atop chicken with rice).

But the part of the day that caught my attention was the ethnic and racial blend of people that turned out to what some people would want to believe is the ultimate Mexican neighborhood in Chicago.
Chato's for pasta, along with ...

Just as many white people of assorted ethnicities showed up and gave the mole a try. The fact that this one-time immigrant enclave that has been through so many ethnicities during Chicago’s history truly is going through gentrification.
... Memo's for hot dogs

For it seems there were so many mixtures of the old (being the Mexicans who have been a part of Pilsen since the 1950s) and the new (upper-scale individuals who like the idea of a city address not too terribly far from jobs downtown (it’s about a 15-minute ride from “the Loop” to the 18th Street CTA ‘el’ train platform).

I’M STILL TRYING to figure out the most off-beat sight I saw – the stage on 18th Street where I saw a female mariachi band perform, located in between Giordano’s and Subway franchise restaurants.

Or the McDonald's franchise located on Chicago's Cesar Chavez Street.
A faded Mexican mural on a barbecue joint

The conservative ideologues who would have you think that the foreigners, especially all those dreaded Mexicans, have “taken over” this country ought to see these sites. It would go a long way towards shutting them up – except that the ideologues usually don’t worry about having fact to back up their rhetorical trash.

I also couldn’t help but notice several restaurants in the neighborhood being operated – based on their names – by people of Mexican ethnic origins. But who are serving up most definitely un-Mexican foods.
Still sights w/in Pilsen ...

PASTA AND HOT DOGS, to be exact. Assimilation at work. Perhaps somebody figures that even Mexican-Americans are anxious for something else to eat, even though the ideologues might have inane thoughts about serving up burritos.

Now I know some people see these sights and they get scared. They’re afraid the white people are going to drive up the rents and make it too expensive for others to afford to live there.

Although there has to be a mid-ground we can reach between a neighborhood remaining an ethnic enclave and becoming the latest version of Lincoln Park – which itself was once a Puerto Rican neighborhood back in the days when Pilsen had an overflow of Czech immigrants and it made sense the neighborhood was named for one of the largest cities in what is now the Czech Republic.
... that I'm sure will manage to offend ...

It was pleasing to see so many interacting with good behavior.

I DIDN’T SEE any bad incidents, and in fact there wasn’t even a heavy police presence.

I saw two lone officers walking along 18th Street, and they said it was a pleasant afternoon. Which is something I'm sure the ideologues will refuse to believe can occur in an ethnic enclave in Chicago. We are, after all, the "murder capital" of the country -- even though it's really St. Louis, with Baltimore and New Orleans close behind.
... the ideologue idiots amongst us

Not even the presence of $5 beers got people to misbehave. Perhaps it was the presence of all the food that kept people from acting up. Or at the very least, kept us all stuffed to the point where none of us would have felt compelled to start up any trouble.

Although I have to admit to one thing – despite not being displeased with anything I ate or drank, I still have to say; none of the moles compared to the way my mother use to make them.

  -30-

Gubernatorial debates more about opponent gaffes than real knowledge

I find it laughable that the gubernatorial hopefuls of the major political parties in Illinois already are fighting over when, and how often, they’ll debate.
Did Pritzker 'one-up' governor?

It’s not like either Gov. Bruce Rauner or Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker really want to speak. They’re more interested in getting their opponent to put their foot in their mouths.

IT MAKES ME think that Saturday Night Live got it right many years ago when they headlined a sketch parodying the ’92 presidential debate as, “The Challenge to Avoid Saying Something Stupid.”
What will be Rauner's response?

Because if we really get the large number of debates that are being pondered as of now, there will be plenty of chances for Rauner/Pritzker (if not both) to say something so inane that it could cause a massive shift in the political sensibilities of the Illinois electorate.

For Pritzker is the guy who definitely has fantasies of Rauner finishing himself off with a gaffe or two. To bolster the chances, he went ahead and said this week he will participate in three debates – one on Sept. 20 in Chicago sponsored in part by the Urban League, another on Oct. 3 in Chicago sponsored in part by the League of Women Voters and a third Oct. 11 in Quincy sponsored in part by the Illinois Broadcasters Association.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Rauner is somewhat peeved with Pritzker over this – because he hasn’t agreed to anything. The announcement sort of publicly commits him to partake in so many events; even though he might actually prefer gatherings under different circumstances.
Would we, the electorate, be better off ...

PRITZKER HAS MANAGED to one-up Rauner on this issue, because if the governor seeking re-election decides to push for something different, it’s going to be spun as though Rauner is ducking debates.

As though he’s somehow being cowardly and afraid to face off against J.B. with the people of Illinois watching on television.

Which, actually, is what these debates will be. Television spectacles. They will be held in television studios and the broadcast stations involved will take great pride in that fact.
... if these cartoons weren't so darned accurate?

If anything, they’ll probably be upset that I’m crediting the Urban League and League of Women Voters for the two Chicago-based debates, rather than the respective television stations, for staging the events.

NOW AS A reporter-type person who has had the chance to cover such political debates, I’ll admit I find them of little value.

Usually, the time restrictions prevent anyone from seriously answering a question – particularly since the candidates themselves find it more a priority to take pot-shots at each other.

While also hoping they can say something that provokes the opponent to say something ridiculous or embarrassing, or just downright stupid! Which is always a possibility when someone is trying to provide an answer in a 90-second time-span, with the entire event lasting just under one hour.

But I can see the point of the debate format in that it forces candidates into equal (almost) terms when it comes to confronting each other, and it sort of forces them to address the issues.

ALTHOUGH WE CAN run into a problem if the particular debate moderator gets into some sort of an egotistical kick of thinking that the particular debate is really their personal interview with the candidates – rather than a chance to see them face off against each other.

Which could become even more intense if this year’s election cycle produces a governor upset that he got suckered into facing off in debate under terms and conditions not of his own choosing.
Activity at the Veteran's Home in Quincy is bound to be a debate focal point
It will be particularly interesting to see about the supposed debate intended for Quincy, where there is a Veterans Home where residents were afflicted with Legionnaire’s Disease and many are more than eager to blame the Rauner administration for the problem.

Would Rauner have preferred a downstate debate in a place like Urbana or Peoria? Of course, there’s really no hiding from the state’s problems – as everyone in Illinois has a gripe these days about the way our state’s government operates.

  -30-

Friday, May 25, 2018

Trump may have lost Nobel, but he “crushed” those pansy football players

President Donald Trump achieved his political “victory” this week by putting a stop to those professional football players who have expressed interest in protesting during the playing of the National Anthem prior to games.

TRUMP: A political 'win," but not the Nobel
Trump is being credited with getting the National Football League to implement a new policy by which players MUST stand at attention during the anthem’s playing. They must show the proper respect – as dictated by the conservative ideologues amongst us.

THOSE PLAYERS WHO have objections must keep them to themselves and do any protests in private in the locker rooms. When on the field and in view of fans, they must go along. Which led Trump to say he thinks those players ought to just get out of the country.

I’m almost surprised he didn’t say they should go somewhere else and play soccer. That kind of stupid talk would have appeased the ideologues amongst us who will forevermore think Donald J. Trump is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Yes, I think Trump is making way too much of this issue. Then again, it was a non-issue until the president himself stepped it up a notch with his nonsense talk.

But I do get exactly why Trump is so eager to make the NFL a top priority in the public mindset.

BECAUSE THIS IS also the week that it appears Trump lost his Nobel Prize. That is, the one his fans were trying to pressure the establishment to give him for supposedly “ending” the Korean War.

When North Korean officials made it clear they were through talking with South Korea (the segment allied with the United States) and said they weren’t sure they wanted to bother with U.S. officials during a summit session scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, Trump’s reaction was all too predictable.

KIM: Will there ultimately be a summit?
A letter from the White House to the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un, made it clear the offer to meet was rescinded.

Trump will no longer make the trip to Singapore, a city that I’m sure he enjoyed visiting (all the girls) in his younger years. It almost made me wonder if Trump’s idea of peace talks would involve getting Kim caught up with a couple of bimbos to show him a “very good time!”

TRUMP’S LETTER INCLUDED some rhetoric alluding to the possibility of rescheduling a meeting between the two. “I felt a wonderful dialogue was building up between you and me and ultimately, it is only that dialogue that matters,” Trump wrote.

But considering that Trump’s idea of a dialogue is usually something along the line of he speaks, and everybody around him shuts up, listens and does what they’re told, I’m not sure what would seriously have come from any such summit.

There’s also the fact that Kim may be the one world leader as erratic and unstable as Trump himself. Who’s to say who would have said, or done, something more stupid to cause problems to escalate between the two nations.

For I don’t doubt that Kim is looking for some outcome that will provide factual basis for North Korea to be able to claim it “won” the Korean War – whose actual shooting ended back in 1953.

THERE ALSO HAVE been the New York Times accounts of how factually unaware Trump is of Korea or the situation, and how lacking in interest he is in filling the gaps in his own comprehension of the issue.

Trump has to settle for gridiron victory
As though Trump thinks this is like his real estate days when he tries to sway the thoughts of some Arab sheik in whose country he wants to build a hotel/casino. Where the big issue is how much of a payoff does he have to make to build his project there.

For the time being, none of this will happen. The talk of Trump being a Nobel Peace Prize winner will have to be put aside – except by Trump himself, whom I’m sure has already awarded the prize to himself in his own mind.

Just as I’m sure he also thinks he’s the one who exposed professional football players for the pansies he thinks they are. Truly the evidence of a delusional mind at work.

  -30-

Thursday, May 24, 2018

EXTRA: Castillo first Chicago ballplayer suspended for steroid usage

The Baltimore Orioles being in Chicago this week to play a series against the White Sox was supposed to be significant for the fact it would give local fans a chance to see Orioles star Manny Machado. He's the infielder who supposedly wants to be traded, and whom Cubs fans are convinced is eager to play on the North Side.
Apologetic for his 'steroid' usage
Yet these four games may be most significant (Machado only got one hit in 11 at-bats the first three games) because of the White Sox' catcher -- Welington Castillo. He's a Dominican ballplayer who on Thursday got hit with an 80-game suspension (that's half the 2018 season) for drug use.

SPECIFICALLY, FOR USE of Erythropoletin, a substance considered to be performance-enhancing, and thereby banned by Major League Baseball.

So for all the jokes about Sammy Sosa and his 600-plus home runs being tainted by steroids, Castillo will go in the books as the first ballplayer for a Chicago team who got a suspension for steroid use. Although I believe he's the fourth ballplayer overall to get hit with such a suspension during 2018 -- most prominently Robinson Cano, the one-time New York Yankee star who now is lost to the Seattle Mariners for half the season.

Castillo actually was signed just this year by the White Sox to be the catcher. The guys on minor league affiliates who are thought to be the long-term answer to the catching position aren't considered quite ready yet.

So Welington, who last year was a catcher for the Dominican Republic national team that partook in the World Baseball Classic, was not a long-term solution. His contract runs through 2019, with an option for 2020 that I seriously doubt will be picked up.

AND WHILE THE White Sox catching needs for this season will be uncertain, I doubt they will be any worse than they were with Castillo on hand. Six home runs so far this season, along with a .267 batting average, isn't the markings of a future champion.
Steroid suspect, even though never suspended

If anything, they're part of the reason why the White Sox have such an awful record -- even though they play in a weak division (the American League central).

Before any Cubs fans start gloating too loudly, keep in mind that Castillo originally was signed into professional baseball by those baby blue bears. Overall, he's just as much a Cub as any other team.

And now, his half-season suspension will likely be what his nine-year career in Major League baseball will be remembered for.

  -30-