Saturday, June 30, 2018

Chicago a state; who dumps whom?

It is one of those periodic measures that gets introduced before the Illinois General Assembly – one that calls for the rest of Illinois to break away into its own state, or one that calls for Chicago to be separated from Illinois.
EMANUEL: Mayor gets a chuckle over splitting state

Regardless of the details of anyone’s specific proposal, those measures always manage to make me snicker. Largely because the people who are trying to express frustration with Chicago don’t want to admit how much the sentiment is mutual.

HOW ELSE TO interpret the comments Mayor Rahm Emanuel made this week during a meeting with the Chicago Community Trust. Although it should be realized that Emanuel, himself, was joking around.

For the record, the mayor was talking about Supreme Court decisions of recent days that were blatantly politically partisan in ways that go against the city’s interests, when he said, “Right now, after the last 48 hours, I’d like to pull out of this one nation and one state.”

When asked if he was talking about Chicago breaking off into its own independent city-state (a la the Vatican City that many people might mistakenly think is part of Rome), Emanuel quipped, “I’m going with Toronto.”

Which is Canada’s largest city, and one that is just slightly larger than Chicago.
Would these flags … 

OBVIOUSLY, NO ONE is going to seriously try to move forward with an independence drive. The real solution is that we all have to learn to work together, and to realize that each and every faction that comprises our society at-large offers some benefit.

That goes for just about every place in this nation of ours. We already had our “war” over secession in this country, and they lost!

I have similar thoughts when I hear there are officials in California who seriously think “the Golden State” ought to be broken up into three – the northern part of the state that would have San Francisco as its primary city, a southern part that would focus on San Diego and a third being the Los Angeles metro area.
… be at the heart someday … 

As though there are people who can’t appreciate having the nation’s second-largest city as part of their own political boundary.

SOUNDS SIMILAR TO those rural Illinois residents who think the whole world is focused on farms – even though most farms these days are corporate entities and trying to cling to the vision of a family-run farm is a large part of the reason those rural communities are so isolated from the mainstream of our society.

So are we ever going to get a state of Chicago that is separate from Illinois? Not likely, unless our society gets a whole lot more stupid than it already is tumbling down to in this Age of Trump that we’re now in.

Seriously, I think if anybody tried to split the state of Illinois up, they’d have one heck of a time figuring out where the boundary ought to be. Because it sure couldn’t be as simple as the city limits. Are we prepared to fight a “war” over who gets Naperville or Joliet?

I think people eager to think in terms of kicking Chicago “out” would be amazed to realize how much of Illinois would throw its lot in with the city. All those suburbs (more than 100 in Cook County alone, and those in the surrounding collar counties bring the tally to 250-plus) account for about two-thirds of Illinois’ population, and many of those residents merely think of “downstate” as the place where they, or a relative, went to college before coming back to “Sweet home, Chicago.”

THE REST OF Illinois’ population would be about 4 million people – placing the state at about No. 27 – just between Kentucky and Oregon (although bigger than Iowa’s 3.05 million), rather than the state’s current population rank of No. 6.
… of a 'battle' for the right to claim Joliet?
Anyway, this is all fantasy – which is why Emanuel can make jokes about the idea of “Oh Canada” becoming the new national anthem in these parts. Although it would be interesting if a new baseball rivalry were to develop between the White Sox and the Toronto Blue Jays.

The reality is that we are one, and that is our greatest national (and regional) strength. It is why I always have mocked people who try to tout the concept of “state’s rights,” because it seems to think we’re better off separate, and if it were really true, why not “city’s rights” being preeminent in which we work from the bottom up?

The truth is there’s a contribution to be made by everybody, and the only people who think of breaking apart as a serious concept are ones who deserve the label of “knuckleheads.”


Friday, June 29, 2018

Civil disobedience against violent crime? Or just a pain in the keister?

If the people of Chicago are complaining about something, there’s always a good chance that the Rev. Michael Pfleger is involved.

PFLEGER: Trying to 'tie up' Chicago?
That’s certainly the case these days, as Pfleger – the pastor of St. Sabina parish in the Auburn/Gresham neighborhood – has his plans to do a large-scale protest act come next weekend that is supposed to draw public attention to the level of urban violence we have in Chicago.

SPECIFICALLY, PFLEGER HAS plans to do his march along the Dan Ryan Expressway come the morning of July 7 – which is a Saturday.

Theoretically, Pfleger wants to have his supporters march along the highway that is a major thoroughfare leading people into and out of the various neighborhoods of the South Side.

He talks of wanting to clog up traffic so bad that people will have one heck of a time getting anywhere. Pfleger wants to create a massive inconvenience for the people of Chicago – which he says is nothing compared to the conditions that residents of select neighborhoods in Chicago have to endure when it comes to being at risk of being shot or killed in, or near, their own homes.

It seems the Police Department is trying to cooperate with the idea of a protest act. But the Chicago Sun-Times reports that they want Pfleger to turn his action into a march through the neighborhoods.

BECAUSE TO MAKE it anything other than risky for protesters to try to block up traffic along the Dan Ryan is going to mean several hundred police officers being diverted from their home police districts and doing duty along the Dan Ryan.

Anthony Riccio, a first deputy superintendent for the Police Department, says having that many officers reassigned potentially makes high-risk neighborhoods even more dangerous. Although it should be noted the Dan Ryan (Interstate 94) technically is under the jurisdiction of the Illinois State Police.

I already can envision the stories that will result if somebody gets killed in the Englewood neighborhood that Saturday because there were not the usual accompaniment of police in the South Side neighborhood.
Can Pfleger's protesters really jam up the Dan Ryan?
Not that Pfleger is swayed by such logic. He tells the Sun-Times that police are routinely diverted from their usual beats for events a lot less significant than his.


Pfleger and his followers plan to be along the Dan Ryan, starting around 95th Street, at 10 a.m. on July 7 – which is next Saturday.

I suspect that Pfleger thinks he’s already made enough of a concession by holding his protest on a weekend, rather than a weekday, when traffic would be even more intense.

Then again, it’s a bit of practicality. I have no doubt that if protesters tried to clog up the Dan Ryan during the week – even if it wasn’t during a morning or evening rush hour time slot – there would be many of those commuters trying to get to, or home from, downtown jobs who would persist in driving right through the protesters.

AND AFTER SUCH an act of “hit and run,” they’d argue that they’re the victims, with the protesters being trouble-makers who are able to engage in such actions solely because they’re “out of work bums” (or perhaps they’ll use more vulgar language).
Law enforcement of Chicago … 

For what it’s worth, I understand the point of doing a Dan Ryan protest rather than a neighborhood action. It would be way too easy for people to dismiss the latter as something irrelevant to their lives because they never set foot in “those” places.

A part of me thinks one person posting their thoughts on Facebook had a point this week when saying that if Pfleger really wanted to get the city’s attention, he’d try to clog up the Edens Expressway. As in a road traveling north to those neighborhoods and suburbs where the locals think urban violence is irrelevant to them.
… and Illinois will be busy July 7

Although I must also confess the protest is unlikely to impact me, no matter how out-of-hand it gets. I have an aunt who’s organizing our family’s annual summer get-together for that very same day; which means I won’t be anywhere near the Dan Ryan – although I’m sure my assorted cousins and I will be able to debate the merits of Father Pfleger’s actions for ourselves.


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Aldermen save Rahm by crowding out mayor term limit measure from ballot

I think I’d be more offended at the cheap, dirty trick tactic meant to protect Mayor Rahm Emanuel off the ballot in the 2019 mayoral election if it weren’t for the fact that the people who desperately want Anybody But Rahm as mayor are using their own dirty trick tactics to try to remove him from office.

EMANUEL: Saved! For now
A movement being led by former Gov. Pat Quinn may have been thwarted by the City Council, which on Wednesday approved a measure that puts three referendum questions on the ballots for the Nov. 6 elections that will be used in Chicago.

FOR WHAT IT’S worth, state law limits the number of referendum questions that can appear on a ballot to three. Meaning even if Quinn manages to get the petition signatures of support sufficient enough to get his mayoral term limits question on the ballot, it won’t appear because this year’s ballot is now crowded off.

I suppose Quinn could still try to push his measure. But it wouldn’t apply to Chicago, so what would be the point.

I’ll admit that anybody who tries to claim the City Council is taking on issues of great significance is oh so full of bull caca. The only reason for doing this is to prevent the term limits issue from even being contemplated by voters.

It’s a dirty trick, which means the tricksters of City Hall (who have a long, glorious history of such maneuvers in the name of electoral politics) win yet again!

BUT IF YOU think about it, the whole term limits referendum reeks of a dirty trick maneuver. Are we really supposed to feel sorry for someone who was playing “dirty pool” because they got beat at their own game?

For the record, Quinn wanted Chicago voters to be able to decide on a binding referendum that would say no one can serve more than two full four-year terms as mayor of Chicago.

It would have taken effect immediately upon being voted on. Which would mean that for the 2019 municipal election cycle, Emanuel wouldn’t be eligible to run for mayor.

QUINN: Will continue to fight
We’d have to pick from any of the other dozen-or-so mediocrities who have dreams of working out of City Hall and being thought of as the “Man on Five” (or Woman, to be technically accurate) all because they think a sufficient number of people despise the idea of Rahm Emanuel in office that they’ll vote for anybody else besides him come Feb. 26 (and again on April 5 in a run-off election).

BUT NOW, PEOPLE won’t be able to decide if they want mayoral term limits before next year’s elections. Which makes the issue a moot point for now.

Quinn, I’m sure, will continue to fight. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Quinn tried shaming aldermen to do the “right thing” in terms of letting his referendum question advance.

Let’s be honest. The idea of any political person doing the “right thing” or having a solid moral compass probably means that someone has been watching “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” a little bit too often. It ain’t a gonna happen!

As for Quinn’s suggestion that the courts could rule in a way that forces his referendum on the ballot, I’d only remind people that the courts in the past have not been sympathetic toward referendum access – at times kicking questions off the ballot even if sufficient signatures of support have been obtained (which Quinn hasn’t done yet).

SO WHAT ARE the questions we’ll get to offer our (solely advisory) opinions on come November?

The land of the political dirty trick, from all sides
Should money from (future) medical marijuana taxes be used to fund public education or mental health services? Should Chicago offer a homeowner’s property tax exemption for people who have lived in their houses for 10 or more years? And should Chicago outlaw plastic straws within the city limits?

All may be legitimate questions to put forth to the voters.

But in my mind, they reek of the same political stink that a term limits measure would have had if that was the only way Rahm’s critics could find to actually beat him on Election Day.


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

EXTRA: 5-4; How predictable!

I wish I could say I was shocked and appalled Wednesday morning, but I’m really not.
KAGAN: Former U of C prof wrote dissent

Shocked, at least.

FOR THE SUPREME Court of the United States issued the ruling that had been feared by anybody with a sense of fairness toward people who work for a living.

In Janus vs. AFSCME Council 31 (which represents state government workers right here in Illinois), the high court ruled that those employees were having their right to free expression infringed upon by having union dues deducted from their paychecks.

The effect of the ruling is that labor unions are getting harassed in ways meant to undermine their influence and ability to protect the interests of their members – the people who do the work.

That is the intent. The people who favor this ruling are the ones who want to undermine organized labor, and they’re hoping that by making it more difficult for unions to collect the dues upon which they rely for their operating funds, they can undermine their ability to serve their role.

BASICALLY, IT’S THE ruling for those people who are upset that Illinois has never shown any inclination to become a “right to work” state – a place where union membership cannot be required to have a job and where companies are given free reign to do whatever they can in order to discourage their workers from even wanting to have union representation.
RAUNER: He's happy, but not for long?

This ruling actually was anticipated. It was figured by many that the growing ideological margin among the high court’s composition would result in an anti-labor ruling.

Sure enough, the 5-4 vote was purely partisan – with Justice Elena Kagan (a one-time University of Chicago Law School professor) writing the dissent and Justice Sonia Sotomayor writing an additional legal opinion in support of her.

About the only person I can think of who is truly pleased is Gov. Bruce Rauner, since such a ruling fits in completely with his vision that government needs to completely undermine organized labor influence – a view that is the reason many believe he’s likely to get tossed out of office on his keister come the Nov. 6 elections.


Court system supposed to protect us from overbearing politicos, but no more

Thus far, the federal court system has been sympathetic to Chicago in striking down efforts by President Donald J. Trump to eliminate the city’s laws that prevent its local police from being used by federal immigration officials to supplement their own efforts in harassing people.

The high court now Trump's rubber stamp?
But a part of me is constantly reminding myself that we haven’t heard the final word yet, and it’s always possible the ultimate court will come down in favor of the president – just because he’s the president from a certain political party.

WILL THE SUPREME Court of the United States use its 5-4 conservative-leaning majority and ultimately feel like issuing an order striking down “sanctuary cities” because it’s the desire of Donald Trump?

There already are those people who think the Supreme Court is inclined (possibly Wednesday morning) to rule against Illinois political interests in a case now pending as to whether public employee labor unions have a right to require government workers to join and pay dues.

Then, there’s the ruling the high court made Tuesday morning that says Trump’s efforts to impose travel restrictions against people from certain Middle East countries is acceptable – no matter how much many complain about its immorality, and how lower courts have ruled it is illegal.

Could “sanctuary cities” wind up facing the same fate some day? It is an issue yet to come before the high court. Yet it could also be a significant issue of sort come 2019.

TRUMP: Can't govern w/o allies in charge
THE SUPREME COURT, in the opinion issued Tuesday, said the president has the authority to get involved through executive orders in immigration policy, and also said it wasn’t terribly interested in hearing arguments about discrimination against Muslims.

But in the part that particularly amazes me, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the court’s opinion, “we (the court) express no view on the soundness of the (Trump immigration) policy.”

Meaning, the idea of the judicial branch providing a balance (specifically, being the force that keeps government officials from overstepping their bounds when they react too far) isn’t one that the high court particularly feels like honoring.

That is a scary thought, if you think about it.

ROBERTS: Backing up the president
BECAUSE THE MAJORITY of our society that is relying on the concept of “checks and balances” to keep a Trump presidency from imposing serious, and lasting, harm could find themselves let down beyond belief.

Just like what could happen in the case of Janus vs. AFSCME. That’s the case based on a lawsuit originally filed by Mark Janus, an Illinois government employee who resents the idea that he had to join the labor union in the first place.

His lawsuit seeks to strike down any such membership requirements in order to have his job, and theoretically could require the union to have to go back to each of its members and seek their permission to charge them union dues.

With anti-labor forces hoping they can persuade many workers to refuse to pay up, meaning the unions would lose significant revenues and be undermined to the point where they would become ineffectual.

MANY THINK THE current partisan leanings of the court will result in Janus prevailing – with those of us inclined to support labor hoping for a partisan political miracle.

Will union take a blow from high court?i
Which also is why I’m wondering what will become of the sanctuary cities issue – which thus far the courts have said the federal government is overstepping its bounds in trying to cut off federal funding to those cities wishing to protect all people from police harassment.

That is how it is perceived – as in local cops getting involved in immigration issues that they technically have no jurisdiction over and no particular knowledge about.

Those who support the “sanctuary city” concept believe it’s a matter of federal immigration officials doing their own jobs when it comes to immigration law. Will partisan politics cause the high court to ultimately disagree?


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Would you be more likely to vote for a “Kash,” or a “Winderweedle?”

It seems that Sam McCann, the Republican state senator from one of those Illinois towns not far from St. Louis, is going to proceed with his plans to be the newly-created (as in by himself) Conservative Party’s candidate for governor come Nov. 6.

JACKSON: Gov. Winderweedle eyes his parking spot
He filed the nominating petitions Monday to get his third-party candidacy on the ballot – and soon we’ll get the process by the Republican establishment to claim his signatures of support aren’t valid and he should be kicked off.

BUT IF IT turns out that McCann somehow manages to remain on the ballot so he can try to steal votes away from Gov. Bruce Rauner’s re-election bid, there’s a chance he won’t even be the most notable third party candidate to appear.

For it seems the Libertarians have come up with a candidate who may well have one of the most unusual ballot names to ever be seen in an Illinois election.

I’m talking about the gubernatorial candidacy of Kash Jackson, who says his full name is Grayson Kash Jackson. But he also concedes that is the name he picked for himself back in 2017 when he completed the legal process of having a name-change.

It used to be Benjamin Adam Winderweedle.

RAUNER: Wants this to be a two-race race
THE ILLINOIS STATE Board of Elections says that his entry on the gubernatorial ballot will offer, along with those of Republican Rauner and Democrat Pritzker (and maybe Conservative McCann), “Grayson Kash Jackson formerly known as Benjamin Adam Winderweedle until name changed on Aug. 29, 2017.”

For the record, Jackson/Winderweedle is an Antioch resident who will turn 40 by Election Day and who includes among the many roles he has held in life that he’s a reserve sheriff’s deputy in north suburban Lake County.

He’s the founder of the Restoring Freedom organization that advocates for family court, and he served in the Navy for 20 years, reaching the rank of petty officer, First Class, before retiring in 2016.

PRITZKER: The more, the merrier
Which means he’s a political newcomer, who likely will try to claim his total lack of government experience is actually his greatest strength – a person to vote for if you’re absolutely disgusted by the content of modern-day electoral politics.

WHICH IS PROBABLY the niche that McCann envisions for himself, but may or may not get, depending on whether he can remain on the ballot for Nov. 6.

Now as someone who has written about government and electoral politics for nearly three full decades, the idea of fringe candidates is not unique. They come and go.

When the election is over, they tend to be forgotten about. As though we can’t remember a thing about why we were ever asked to vote for them in the first place – except to express our disgust with the person who eventually won that election.

I can’t help but wonder if “Kash” (that’s what he seems to want to be called for short) is the exception because of that incredulously-long handle he’s going to have on the ballot – which may well be the first-and-only time most people will ever hear of him.

JUST ENVISION, PEOPLE who feel like they need to cast a ballot come Nov. 6 show up not feeling enthused about either incumbent Bruce or billionaire J.B. – then they see there’s also a Libertarian with all the names.

McCANN: Will he remain on ballot?
I have to wonder how many people will wind up putting a mark beside that ballot entry, just because!

Although a part of me has to wonder if he’d have been better off keeping his mother-given name – I can’t recall quite as noteworthy a name as “Winderweedle” appearing on an Illinois ballot. It would have gained him voter attention – without all the legal expense of a court-approved name change.

Besides, just think of all the attention the Illinois political scene would gain from those who want to speculate on how seriously a “Gov. Winderweedle” would be taken?


Monday, June 25, 2018

Trumpsters can’t find any place to eat, other than Trump Hotel restaurants?

I don’t doubt this is a confusing time in the life of those people who are all supportive of this Age of Trump that our society now lives in.

TRUMP: Thinks the country loves him
These people want to believe they’re now in charge and that the whole rest of the world has to learn to “suck it” and take whatever abuse they feel like dishing out. Yet they keep getting reminders of just how repulsive the real majority of us find them to be.

FOR TWICE IN the past week, there were incidents where people aligned with Trump wound up getting chased out of restaurants they were trying to eat in.

Based on the Internet-based commentary (almost all of which is anonymous) I have stumbled across, it seems as though those people want to view these incidents as the equivalent of certain individuals being forbidden to eat at a Woolworth’s lunch counter of old.

Discrimination, they scream! Harassment! Bigots engaged in trash behavior, they want us to think.

Which is a batch of nonsense, of course. In fact, it reinforces the notion that the people who now scream about “reverse racism” are the exact same types of people who, a generation ago, complained about all those racial minorities being “uppity!”

NOW FOR THOSE who’ve been hiding away in a cave, there was an incident in Washington, D.C., at a Mexican restaurant where a group including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen found themselves being taunted while they tried to eat.
NIELSEN: Harassed during her meal

Cries of “Shame!” and “End Family Separation!” were shouted at the group while they tried to eat. It also seems other customers at the restaurant while this incident occurred wound up applauding when the Nielsen party ultimately departed.

Now some might want to dismiss this as the type of trashy behavior we see from urban places. But then came another incident in a community some 70 miles away. Lexington, Va., to be exact, where presidential press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders herself showed up to eat.

It seems the restaurant staff, some of whom are gay, decided they were offended by Sanders’ presence. They didn’t want to serve her. Their boss wound up agreeing.

WHICH RESULTED IN Sanders being told to leave within minutes of being seated, and her party of guests deciding to accompany her.
SANDERS: Didn't even get appetizer

Now I’d feel some sense of support for Nielsen and/or Sanders, except for the fact that both of them decided to use Twitter accounts to make themselves out to be the victims. Someone dared to express the notion that they disagreed with the behavior of these two public officials!

Which the supporters of this Age of Trump probably think is repulsive – all people are supposed to be in agreement with them. Or else, they’re supposed to be silenced!

Instead, they got treated with the same kind of gross disrespect that they often advocate for other people. And that they openly support whenever their boss, himself, does it to the masses in our society.

IF ANYTHING, IT strikes me as the masses fighting back in whatever little way they could against the bully that these people want unleashed on our society.

Only place he's welcome?
Now I don’t doubt there will be consequences. I noticed the Washington Post account pointed out the fact that the city in which Sanders went to a restaurant is one that voted overwhelmingly in 2016 for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, while the surrounding county went for Trump.

Which truly is the trend everywhere in our nation. Citified people tend to be the critics, while those people who live in communities isolated from the populated masses are the ones who prefer the Trump ideology about life.

Odd only because I suspect Trump himself (a very urban, and also rather gauche, Manhattanite when he’s not spending time at his Mar del Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.) would never be caught dead living in any of the communities where he is beloved.


Saturday, June 23, 2018

High-minded ideals to do battle against the “red wave” – will anybody win?

There are times I wonder who is more delusional within our system of government – those who are expecting the election of politicos with high-minded noble ideals and our best interests in mind, or the kind of people who thought Donald Trump made any sense this week in speaking about immigration.
Images of children such as these in the Southwest create mixed emotions
I’m referring to his moment where he said Congress should drop the issue of immigration until after the Nov. 6 elections; because that is when we’ll get the “red wave” of politicos who will give Trump the rubber stamp, so to speak, to do what he wants with the issue.

WHICH, IN THE case of Trump, means some form of public policy meant to increase the authority of the federal government to remove individuals who don’t fit his ideal of who should be allowed to reside within the United States.

Trump, it would seem, has no desire to negotiate a deal of any type on this issue. Or any issue, for that matter.

This really is a man who got elected president with the image he’d be able to go about barking “You’re Fired!” to everybody within government who disagreed with him. Just like he used to do on that stupid television show he used to be part of.

It seems that his year-and-a-half of being in the Oval Office hasn’t taught him a damned thing about how government operates. He’s still waiting for that moment when he can bark out orders and have the rest of the country serve as his sycophants.
Some like to compare them to children in Holocaust camps

NONE OF THIS ought to be surprising. It is why I didn’t pay much of any attention to the ongoing debate over immigration reform and whether children brought to this country with their parents ought to be taken from them while the parents go through the process of being deported.

Republicans themselves couldn’t agree on what should be done. They didn’t have enough support to pass an ideologically-tainted measure that would have been the “far right fantasy,” and kept postponing votes in the House of Representatives on measures that were seen to be compromise.

As for the images of children being kept in crude conditions in makeshift detention centers scattered about the nation (the Heartland Alliance says 66 of them are in Chicago, with two-thirds of them under 13), all that gets from the ideologues are nitwit statements about how those aren’t “our” children.
Whose vision will prevail, the Age of Trump … 

I guess foreigners deserve harassment, regardless of age, in the mindset of those people who are in agreement with this Age of Trump we’re now in.

THERE WERE SOME people who wanted to get something, anything, passed that they could call immigration-related, in large part because they want the issue to wither away and be forgotten about long before the Nov. 6 general elections.

They don’t want anybody’s ballot being influenced by those sad images of kids in virtual incarceration.

My guess, though, is that the ideologues get their kicks out of such images – they appease those people who want to think that foreigners are worthy of such treatment, and perhaps Trump is clueless enough about political reality to think those people are the “red wave” that will supposedly wash away the majority segment of our society that is appalled by everything the Donald thinks is the way our nation should operate.

Appalling, yes. Disgusting, of course! But I also realize there is a certain segment of our society that not only likes such behavior, they will encourage it and are determined to turn out to vote come November in its favor.

THE ORGANIZING FOR Action group (the remnants of the old Obama for America campaign fund) is making its own fundraising appeal, sending out e-mails telling us of the, “administration’s cruel immigration policies” with “the sights and sounds of children languishing in federal facilities.”
… or the remnants of Barack Obama?

It also refers to the presidential action of earlier this week (the one that stopped separating families but said the parents could be detained with their children) as a “misguided measure” that calls for “indefinite detention of families.”

As for how many people will feel compelled by such appeals to do , anything about it, the reality is that many people are downright lazy when it comes to public policy and usually don’t feel a need to act until it’s too late.

So when it comes to “high-minded ideals” versus the “red wave,” there’s a part of me that fears we as a society are in for a lot of rancid rhetoric in coming months, followed by an Election Day that maintains the status quo – and a whole lot of more of the same indefiniteness in coming years.


Friday, June 22, 2018

No more cries of “Jerry Jerry” echoing from our TV screens (except in reruns)

Perhaps it’s the ultimate evidence of just how clueless and unaware of pop culture trivia I can be, but I honestly didn’t have a clue that Jerry Springer’s television program was still in production.

SPRINGER: Rides off into sunset of retirement
At least not until I read the news reports indicating that the production company that puts the show together is no longer going to do new episodes.

FOR THE RECORD, the show that once was a national sensation/embarrassment that was produced from our very own NBC studios in Chicago lasted some 27 years – and there are in excess of some 4,000 episodes in existence.

It hasn’t been produced in Chicago since 2009, and to tell you the truth, I guess I thought the show went off the air sometime shortly thereafter.

Not that I cared much. I never paid much attention to it when it was in Chicago, and wasn’t about to continue to follow something I never gave much thought to in the first place.

Which, if anything, is the American Way of doing things.

IF I FIND something too stupid to spend time with, I choose to ignore it. I certainly don’t go about trying to get it shut down or censored. If enough people were to take that attitude, the ratings would plummet to the point where the tacky TV would just go away.

The type of activity the 'Springer show' gave us … 
Or at the very least, shift over in reruns to those many countless cable TV stations that fill their airtime with all those long-forgotten programs from decades past.

Which is bound to become the fate of Jerry Springer’s show.

A part of me is actually surprised someone hasn’t taken the backlog that has developed through the decades and created a separate Jerry Springer channel. “Jerry TV,” all “Jerry” all the time.

WHERE ONE COULD always tune in to the sight of someone being cracked over the head by a chair, or trying to beat up her husband after learning he impregnated the neighbor’s teenage daughter (only to have them separated by Steve Wilkos or many of the other t-shirted security personnel -- many of whom once were off-duty Chicago cops -- who became an integral part of the Springer program).

… at the show's peak
If you think I’m exaggerating, keep in mind that Springer used to defend his programming choices by claiming he was merely reflecting the reality of a certain segment of our society. Most definitely the tacky parts, but it is real.

Personally, the last time I remember seeing the show, the guest was a woman who used the program to inform her racist boyfriend she was dumping him. She being white and her new boyfriend being a black man.

As though it was somehow enlightening to see some Southern white male feel humiliated on national television. Of course, in this Age of Trump, we’d probably be expected to feel empathy for the white guy, and perhaps we’d allow him to get a sense of public “vengeance” on his girlfriend.

WHOM YOU HAVE to admit engaged in a bit of trashy behavior by wanting to make a spectacle out of dumping the jerk she no longer wanted to have in her life.

Hollywood gave Springer a moment of fame
How big a sensation was Springer? I still recall the 1998 film “Ringmaster,” which allowed Jerry Springer to play the part of himself as host of a tacky TV show called “Jerry” (only based in Los Angeles, rather than our wonderful Second City). Which in my mind is only memorable because it was the first time I ever heard of actress Jaime Pressly (and the sight of Springer clad in a gaudy Western outfit).

Now, it’s all done. Although at age 74 with such a long run, perhaps retirement has been earned.

And we can all spend years speculating on how much our society was degraded by watching such trivial nonsense – even as we watch those reruns over and over and snicker as much at the period fashion sense as much as we do the tacky behavior.


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Trump's compromise? Do it my way!

I’m sure that in the mind of President Donald J. Trump, he is the ultimate compromiser.

TRUMP: His idea of compromise is still wrong
He did, after all, sign off this week on an agreement related to people trying to enter the United States that goes contrary to the nonsense-talk he has been spewing in recent weeks.

THE RHETORIC THAT justified children being removed (by force, if necessary) from their parents, who were then being detained as federal officials pondered their circumstances to figure out if there was any reason for allowing them to remain in this country – or should they just be deported?

Since in the minds of those people who actually believe in the nonsense of the Age of Trump, all foreigners are a problem who ought to be removed, it creates chaos.

Particularly since we have to figure out what to do with all those children who now, theoretically, are in U.S. custody. We are now responsible for their well-being.

The fact that many of those children were being detained in camps that were one step up from prison conditions had many people appalled. Heck, even Trump’s wife and elder daughter, allegedly, have been giving him grief about these circumstances.

BUT TRUMP ISN’T about to do anything that manages to offend the sensibilities of the nitwits who voted for him and remain devoted to his causes. So instead of realizing the problem is that children are being detained in miserable conditions, Trump’s solution is to keep the families together.

Because he’s not about to ease up on his larger goal – which is to keep as many of those parents from being able to establish a life for themselves in this country.

It’s almost like those places that view pregnant women who are incarcerated as somehow being acceptable to care for their children. In prison!

It’s twisted and kind of sick when you think about it. But the Trumpster is just too determined to have the long-arm-of-the-law cracking down on those “foreigners” whom he is determined to think are being “criminal” just by the nature of where they were born.


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

J.E.B. who? It’s now going to be Obama Elementary in Richmond

It’s not new, or particularly newsworthy, that yet another school somewhere in the country has chosen to name itself after the nation’s 44th president. Heck, there are some 44 schools that already bear the moniker of Barack Obama.

OBAMA: Now has a Richmond school in memory
Yet most of those were new school buildings erected in recent years, and often in places where the locals never would have put the name symbolizing the Confederacy of old on a public structure.

WHICH IS WHAT makes the newly-named Barack Obama Elementary School in Richmond, Va. – named for our very own community organizer-turned-U.S. president, all the more unique.

For until now, the school had bore the name of J.E.B. Stuart – who didn’t even live to see the end of the Civil War, but during the conflict between the states was regarded by southern interests as a skilled horseman and cavalry officer and one of the supreme military officials of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Of course, to everybody else, J.E.B. was just some ol’ white guy who once had the nerve to take up arms against the United States. An act of treason, if you want to be literal about it.

All because he wanted to reinforce the “way of life” that the South always proclaimed – the one that kept non-white people in a status of second-class citizenship. As in the South wanted them counted in the population to boost their total but wasn’t about to give them the same rights of white people.

BUT THERE WERE those who subscribed to the theory of “the lost cause” when thinking of the Civil War who were determined to pay tribute to every possible Confederate figure to try to glorify why they fought against the United States.

So the idea that J.E.B. Stuart could get a school named for him? Have generations of children thinking of him as a figure worthy of respect? I’m sure some would argue it no more ridiculous that I went to elementary schools in the Chicago area named for generals George S. Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

But times truly are changing. No matter how much some want to think this Age of Trump offers credibility to their cause, it seems the day will come when we can dump the Confederacy glorification.

STUART: Now just a figure of the past
We now pay tribute at this Richmond school to the first non-white man to become U.S. president – a concept that I’m sure infuriates the Confederacy-backers and probably has them backing Donald Trump’s actions in large part because they seem determined to erase the memory of Obama’s presidential actions.

BUT MAYBE IT’S just the evidence that the Obama legacy just can’t be erased – and that the Trump presidential legacy ultimately is determined to be his failure to undo the actions of recent decades. No matter how much he tries.

Personally, I find the idea that a Richmond high school is making such a gesture. For that Virginia city once served as the capital during those four years the Confederate states tried declaring themselves to be an independent nation.

Now, of course, Richmond is nothing more than a state capital for Virginia – no more important on the national political scene than Springfield, Ill. Our very own state capital city that gave us the figure of Abraham Lincoln.

Who lives on bigger than any of those grey-clad Confederates who touted the concept of ‘states rights’ not so much because they wanted separate nation-states but because they didn’t want anybody else interfering with their ability to back certain acts of immorality with the rule of law.

TO THE PEOPLE who still, to this day, try to justify the Confederacy, I’m sure the idea of an Obama School in Richmond is the equivalent of phlegm being hocked into their collective face.

Do we need more Lincoln Schools in South
But to the vast majority of us, it’s a sign that we’re finally, long-overdue, ready to move on from the mess that bogged down our nation some 150-plus years ago, and which some continued to tried to fight for during the following century-and-a-half.

Besides, just think of the mental chaos to be created for future generations who try to justify Confederate rhetoric while explaining the existence of Obama School.

While the memory of James Ewell Brown Stuart fades further into the past. Seriously, with all those names, it’s no wonder people just called him “Jeb.”