Saturday, September 29, 2018

‘Justice Kavanaugh’ inevitable, if Age of Trump’s partisan trends prevail

I have had trouble getting all that interested in the political brawl taking place concerning the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice – largely because there has been no evidence to indicate this will be anything other than a partisan scuffle. Albeit one of great intensity!
KAVANAUGH: Future high court justice?

With Republicans in Congress controlling the process for confirmation and President Donald Trump having nominated Kavanaugh as part of a plan to reinforce his own image as being in control of federal government, it seems like a futile gesture to expect anything to happen to stop Kavanaugh from getting the post.

SO FOR THOSE people who are desperately hoping all the tales we’ve been hearing about what a drunken oaf Kavanaugh was as a young man (and one whose behavior toward women is despicable), I’d say, “Get a clue!”

Even with some Republican partisans on Friday indicating they’d like to see the FBI do a cursory investigation (which is all you’d get with a one-week delay), I suspect all they want is the appearance that they contemplated objectors.

In the end, they’ll vote to confirm Kavanaugh because they like the idea of a Supreme Court stacked in their favor – one that would gladly strike down all the ideas (abortion, gay rights, etc.) they find so morally reprehensible.

And all of those people wishing for something to happen to halt Kavanaugh, they’ll gain stories to tell of the tacky and irresponsible behavior by Congress that rivals the recklessness by which Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the high court back in 1991 – despite the tales of his own sexually-harassing behavior.

ALL OF THESE thoughts popped into my head Thursday night when I heard someone who watched that day’s confirmation hearings claim it didn’t matter what the U.S. Senate did – Kavanaugh was damaged goods.

He’d never be able to serve as a credible justice on the high court. He might as well drop out to show some sense of dignity.

To which I retort “Hah!”
TRUMP: Wants Kavanaugh 'win' badly

I’m sure the thoughts going through the minds of all the Kavanaugh backers is that Thomas got confirmed despite the trash talk about himself, and he now has nearly three full decades of service as a Supreme Court justice.

THEY’LL THINK THIS is something Kavanaugh can overcome, and they’re likely to use the happenings of this week as further evidence of how “out of touch” non-ideologue people truly are. Athough I see it as evidence of how out-of-touch with reality ideologues are if they can find anything acceptable with such conduct.

This really is going to become a hardline partisan vote. Even if Republican legislators have concerns about Kavanaugh’s character, they’ll see the opportunity to strengthen their hand for partisan political control.

All that speculation about women being disrespected? They probably agree with Trump, who earlier this week said he’s inclined to believe Kavanaugh because he thinks women tend to exaggerate this kind of stuff.

My own concerns got reinforced when I learned of Joe Donnelly. He’s the senator from Indiana who, as a Democrat, managed to win a seat held long-time by Republicans.

WHICH HAS REPUBLICAN operatives convinced that defeating him is a priority. They want to “take back” what they think he stole from them (although anybody who is serious realizes the Republican who Donnelly defeated in 2012 lost because of his own political ineptitude and disrespect for the female persuasion).
DONNELLY: Sticking by his party, not his state

Yet even with Donnelly receiving intense pressure to “go with the flow” and support Kavanaugh, he is saying he’s a “no” vote. Perhaps he realizes that backing Brett won’t gain him any partisan support – while costing him self-respect.

When it finally occurs, this is going to be a purely partisan vote. Republicans will prevail – they have the greater numbers politically. Which means this will become yet another bit of evidence as to why this Age of Trump we now live in is a reprehensible one.

And anybody who seriously thinks the Kavanaugh confirmation vote can be deferred until after Election Day to be decided by a Democratic-leaning Congress? That’s pure political fantasy, no matter how much many of us would desire it!

  -30-

Friday, September 28, 2018

Watching TV while at work? Why not!

Call it one of the perks of being a reporter-type person who has worked in newsroom-type environments – nobody thinks it odd to have the television or radio tuned in to a broadcast of some news-worthy event.
Allowing workplace to be informed about Kavanaugh

I recall back in 1989, when I was a reporter based at the Thompson Center state government building for the now-defunct City News Bureau, I had a radio tuned in (to WBBM-AM, I believe) for the entirety of the confirmation hearings to determine whether Clarence Thomas was fit to serve a life-time appointment to the Supreme Court of the United States.

MEANING I HEARD the live broadcast that included all the tidbits that got written up and caused many of us to snicker – although not enough of us so as to thwart Thomas from getting the post.

I thought back to this when I learned there is a Chicago company that is not only willing to let employees listen to the hearings taking place now for whether Brett Kavanaugh is worthy of being Thomas’ colleague on the Supreme Court, they’re willing to make their employees comfortable.

Avant, an online lender, opened the board room of its downtown headquarters to the company’s workers. The Chicago Tribune reported they organized a current event-type discussion, giving workers the chance to express their thoughts on the issue.

To accommodate such a desire, they arranged for a video stream of the broadcast into the board room so their workers could watch the happenings in real-time.

THAT IS, IF the workers don’t want to be holed up at their desks, watching the same video stream on their work computers.

Now I’m sure there are some people reading this who are about to engage in a rant telling me I’m an idiot – those workers ought to be doing their jobs. Nobody pays them to watch the news.

Although I have to admit to thinking there’s something incredibly honest about a company willing to concede that many of their workers are going to be focusing their attention on their computers to learn the latest about Kavanaugh’s chances of actually getting the Supreme Court appointment that is part of President Donald Trump’s desire to remake the high court in his own image.
Work got done despite Thomas hearings

Either that, or they figure they’d rather have their employees using the computers to watch the livestream of the Kavanaugh hearings, instead of playing video poker or whatever other type of time-wasting event they’d be engaged in.

NOW IT’S ALWAYS possible that some people are going to be tuning in out of some desire to hear titillating details. The Kavanaugh case has devolved into one of a man who back when he was a teenager and a college kid couldn’t exactly keep his hormones under control.

Which will turn into an ongoing argument amongst us over exactly what constitutes attempted rape. What is appropriate behavior between the genders?

It might be a very worthwhile use of time for many of us to engage in such a discussion. Perhaps we’d be better off if more entities were to permit such activity so as to encourage such frank talk.

Although I’m sure there will be those who will merely be amused by the more absurd things that got said. Just as the reason I will never forget the Thomas “pubic hair” line was because it was so overly ridiculous to think anyone could seriously believe that – or would be absurd enough to think such a line would be humorous.

BESIDES, IT IS possible for people to train themselves to focus on more than one thing at a time. I know in my case, I can write copy and listen to conversations simultaneously. Which is means that I can listen to a TV broadcast and write.

I may not see the images, but I can get the substance.
Managed to write college paper while watching Super Bowl

Which actually is how, back when I was in college, I managed to write a paper of great significance (it was the totality of my grade for a course I took) while listening to the Super Bowl broadcast from the lone year the Chicago Bears ever won that sporting event.

And as for spending days listening to Anita Hill try to take down Clarence Thomas, I managed to get my work done as well.

  -30-

Thursday, September 27, 2018

No ‘third term’ for Rauner? Let’s see if he even gets a second stint as governor!

Excuse me for not being overly swayed by Gov. Bruce Rauner’s statements this week that there’s no way he’d consider running for a third term as governor of Illinois.

RAUNER: We laugh at thought of no 'third' term
Which is almost a laughable statement for him to make, since he’s seeking a second term come the Nov. 6 general election, and there are those who are convinced he’s already doomed to defeat.

“THIRD TERM?” HE’ll be lucky if he becomes anything more than a one-termer – and one who barely got to live in the Executive Mansion in Springfield, what with the way it had to be remodeled extensively for much of the four years he served in office.

I’m sure Rauner is trying to score points with those people who like to think that term limits are a serious issue, and one upon which we should base our political choices.

Pick the guy who has no intention of making a career out of public service. And is most definitely different from Michael Madigan – the long-time Illinois House speaker whom Rauner has made into his nemesis. Madigan, after all, has been on the state payrolls for nearly a half-century now, and has been the Big Boss of Springpatch, so to speak, for just about the entire time since the early 1980s.

Like it or not, Madigan will be remembered by the political geeks of this state, whereas I suspect The Rauner Years will quickly lapse into the crevasses of our minds where we will manage to forget the details.

MADIGAN: Nearing a half-century as pol
NOW THE REASON I have trouble taking Rauner’s talk – which the Chicago Tribune reported he said during a meeting with Crain’s Chicago Business – is that there is absolutely nothing binding about his “pledge.”

There’s nothing in the law that would require him to keep his word. He could easily decide when the time comes that he thinks his presence is still needed on the political scene.

Any promise to depart after a certain amount of years doesn’t mean a thing.

SHIMKUS: Approaching his 12th term
Personally, I always think of Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., whenever this issue comes up.

THE CONGRESSMAN FROM the part of Illinois near St. Louis campaigned back in 1990 on a hard-and-fast promise that he would not serve more than 10 years in Congress. He wasn’t going to make a career out of being a part of the Capitol Hill scene. He really wouldn’t.

KELLY: Readying self for D.C. return
Yet here we are, 22 years later, with Shimkus having built up his seniority and showing no signs of even contemplating his one-time pledge to leave after five, two-year terms. Instead, he’s seeking term number 12.

Which actually is fine, if that’s really what the people of that particular congressional district want. Actually, I think they could do better, but I don’t have a vote in that district.

As well it should be. My votes are for the portion of metro Chicago in which I reside, and where I have every right to exercise my right to cast a ballot (where we’re likely to send Robin Kelly back to D.C. for yet another term in the House of Representatives).

SO FOR RAUNER to say he’s not interested in having a third term in office? It’s empty rhetoric. It’s not binding. It borders on self-righteous political rhetoric.

Because too many people are going to look at the governor’s race just over a month from now (actually, early voting centers will open Oct. 22) and see how badly Rauner has failed – not only in accomplishing any of his desired goals, but also in managing to muck up the operations of government so as to intensify the financial problems our state confronts.

McCANN: Will he gain gov votes?
Even for those people who think there’s anything noble about the Rauner efforts to mess with organized labor influence in Illinois, they’re going to find their own reasons to despise the idea of another term for Bruce. They’re the ones seriously looking to Sam McCann and his “Conservative Party” for a vote.

And Rauner’s talk of a nobly turning down a “third term” will come across as absurd and ridiculous a statement as we’ve ever heard in partisan politics. Except for maybe that self-righteous talk that President Donald Trump gave this week to the United Nations -- the one that had the world's delegates bursting out in laughter.

  -30-

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

EXTRA: White Sox -- Happy trails to youuuuuuuuuu, until, we meet, again!

Perhaps it was oh so appropriate that the Chicago White Sox finished their 2018 season at home Wednesday in such a godawful way. What with the first pitch of the game being dumped into the left field seats.
As the sun sets on '18, … 
Later on, the Cleveland Indians managed another three runs off a tremendous home run – one that actually motivated some nitwits sitting in the outfield to start chanting that the fan who caught the ball ought to “throw it back.”

… some of us look toward next season
TO THAT WHITE Sox fan’s credit, he didn’t. Because that’s a Chicago Cubbie-type thing to do. Even while rooting for a team that flirted with losing 100 ballgames this year, White Sox fans still have some sense of pride and dignity.

Anyway, the White Sox have now played their share of 81 home games this season. All that’s left is a road trip this weekend to Minneapolis.

While I don’t doubt there are some Sox fans who will take some sort of perverse pleasure out of rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers to win their division in the National League.
A cruel joke prior to Wednesday's final game

Because if that happens, it will mean the best the Cubs can qualify for is a wild-card playoff spot – and the possibility that they’ll get knocked out of the playoff picture early on.

YES, I’M AN American League fan at heart. Personally, I don’t care who wins the National League championship – except to the degree I’m interested in seeing who the AL champ takes on in the World Series.
Decent-sized crowd for meaningless game; the value of $1 hot dogs
And a part of me feels for that Sox fan who showed up for Wednesday’s final home game, flying both a black-and-white “Sox” flag along with the “L” flag that is just as much a part of Cubs tradition as that “W” they like to fly. Instead, the 10-2 defeat to the Indians almost seems like Cleveland handed the White Sox' derriere to them.
A final farewell to 'the Rate.' Photos by Gregory Tejeda
Which would have been depressing to the White Sox faithful – except it was $1 Hot Dog Wednesday. A cheap dinner and a ballgame always goes a long way toward satisfying the mind and the tummy.

  -30-

How many Congressional candidates get help from Ben & Jerry, Sha Na Na?

I’m sure Lauren Underwood wants us to think she’s merely a health care professional whose interest in electoral politics is because she wants the federal government to do more to improve the quality of health care available to the general public.
UNDERWOOD: An Obama-era appointee

Which sounds nice. It sounds noble. Yet Underwood wouldn’t be getting prominent attention if she were just a nurse.

IN THIS YEAR of ’18 in the Age of Trump, a key strategy for Democratic political operatives is to try to boost the chances of every single Democrat running for office by reminding us just how abhorrent a majority of us find President Donald J. Trump to be.

The idea is to make us think that every single person of the GOP persuasion is nothing more than a Trump lackey, and that we need to dump every single one of ‘em from office.

Which means that even Republicans running in parts of the country that usually are fairly safe for GOPers are going to face some serious competition.

That includes Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., who typically would be considered safe in his northwestern suburban district. It’s not an area inclined to think of Democrats as being a legitimate choice. Heck, in the past 145 years, the area has only had five people of the Dem persuasion represent it.

YET IN THIS year, political operatives are putting their worth in Underwood, who if she wins would be the first woman ever to win that district – and also the youngest black woman (she’s 31) to win a Congressional seat anywhere in the United States this election cycle.

How seriously are people taking her candidacy?

She’s actually gaining some celebrity stunt-type attention that typically wouldn’t waste itself on a candidate who (in typical election years) would be regarded as longshots.
Come Wednesday, Jon Bauman (a.k.a., Bowzer from Sha Na Na of old) will do a formal endorsement of Underwood at an event in suburban Huntley. Bauman, who is now head of an organization called Social Security Works PAC, admits he’ll sing a few old tunes before talking with Underwood about healthcare issues related to senior citizens.

THIS ALSO COMES as the guys who created Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (a disclosure, I thoroughly adore both “Chunky Monkey” and “Cherry Garcia” flavors) say they’re creating specialty flavors to promote the political campaigns of seven would-be members of Congress who they think will be supportive of improved health care.

Underwood is amongst the seven.

Now I know many people will dismiss Bowser and Ben & Jerry as a batch of third-rate celebrity-type stunts. Nothing that should tell us that Underwood is a legitimate candidate.

Yet we have to admit, particularly when it comes to some of these lower-perception political races, such stunts can help draw attention. I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that Underwood gets a few votes from people who like ice cream or have memories of Sha Na Na.

AND IF YOU want to dismiss those things as being merely of interest to “old” people, consider that it could out to be the old people who take this election cycle most seriously.

So Hultgren vs. Underwood could turn out to be an election campaign of the 2018 cycle that gets a little bit of undue attention. Whether that will be sufficient to sway the vote away from this being a routine Republican political victory has yet to be determined.
Of course, I suspect Ben & Jerry’s will influence the outcome in one significant way. There’s no word on just what Lauren Underwood-type ice cream will taste like.

I suppose they could doom her campaign to political defeat if they wind up creating an unappealing concoction for her that makes voters think they’re better off with “two more years” of Hultgren.

  -30-

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

What were the lessons learned from Anita Hill with regards to Kavanaugh?

I still remember the moment of the “pubic hair on my coke.”
KAVANAUGH: Purely partisan politics?

As in listening to a radio broadcast of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, when his former colleague Anita Hill recalled a moment of the two of them together when Thomas made his little quip to her.

MY COLLEAGUES AND I couldn’t quite believe anybody could be that lame in thinking such a line would be humorous. Or that Thomas could actually think that such talk would make him appealing to women.

But it really happened, the Senate eventually confirmed Thomas to his appointment that he still holds nearly 30 years later, and I’m sure there are political people out there who think the lesson learned from the whole “Thomas affair” is that such allegations are outlandish and best ignored.

Because, hey, we’ve had a misogynistic sort on the Supreme Court for all these years now, and it hasn’t brought an end to the Republic. Similar to how I’m sure they’re also thinking that it doesn’t matter what President Donald Trump (the man who supposedly thinks the way to appeal to women is to “grab ‘em by the pussy”) may have done in his life.

It only matters when Bill Clinton does it, because he has partisan leanings they are directly opposed to. Taking him down politically is the whole purpose, along with destroying anybody who might be remotely like him in any way.
GORSUCH: Does he need Trump allies on ct?

ALL THESE THOUGHTS have been popping into my head a lot with the hearings taking place concerning the political fate of Brett Kavanaugh. He’s the man whom Trump wants to put on the Supreme Court of the United States – in large part because of a belief he’ll shift the partisan leanings of the court sufficiently enough that the ideologues can start making good on their more-than-four-decade-old desire to do away with the 1973 ruling that made abortion a legitimate medical procedure.

So to try to take him down, we’ve learned about the woman who says that back when she was 17 (and Kavanaugh also was a teenager), he tried to molest her. She had to fight him off.

As if that isn’t sufficient, we’re now learning of another woman who remembers back to her freshman year of college in the mid-1980s when she says fellow student Kavanaugh used a college party to expose himself and try to get her to touch his genitals.
GARLAND: Some still bitter he's not on ct?

We actually have some people making the claim of, “How many women have to come forth before we see Trump’s appointee as unfit for such a position?”

ALTHOUGH I ALSO don’t doubt that Trump-types will never make such an concession – and not only because they just don’t care what these women say Kavanaugh did to them.

It’s all about the fact that Trump himself wants to be able to reform the Supreme Court in his own image, and needs as many people of his partisan persuasion to be appointed to the high court.

He has the one appointment he got because the Senate successfully managed to keep former President Barack Obama from filling the vacancy caused by the death of Antonin Scalia – an act that some find disgraceful. Although I’m sure the ideologues think the real disgrace is that Obama got to make two other appointments – and we now have Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan in life-time legal posts.

Now, the conservative strategy is to ensure that Sotomayor and Kagan ultimately become isolated – and we get a whole slew of Supreme Court rulings of the future that come down to 7-2 votes. Which could happen if Trump is the one who gets to pick a replacement someday for 85-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

WHILE THE OPPOSITION will do what it can to thwart Kavanaugh – and theoretically any other opening there might be on the Supreme Court. Perhaps some think they can literally take back the high court seat they want to believe should be held by Merrick Garland (the man Obama tried to pick for the court, but couldn’t).
THOMAS: Does he need companion?

The shame of all this is that the women themselves become a sideshow. The reality of what happened to them all those years ago becomes irrelevant – to the point where back in 2010, Virginia Thomas (Clarence’s spouse) had the nerve to publicly demand that Hill apologize for letting the world know about his awkward-bordering-on-tacky sense of humor

Are we going to get similar demands in the future of the women who now are coming forth to tell their stories of back when they knew Brett Kavanaugh?

While it may be true that his behavior as a young man wasn’t much different from other males, it really doesn’t excuse him. And the fact that we already have Thomas on the high court doesn’t mean we need to have another boor to keep him company!

  -30-

Monday, September 24, 2018

Will Van Dyke be bold enough to ‘take the stand’ to defend his conduct?

It’s a standard question going into a criminal trial – will the defendant testify in his own case.
Van Dyke is one of many thousands of criminal defendants to pass through this nearly-century-old building
There are those who think Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke desperately needs to give his perspective of the happenings of Oct. 20, 2014 – the night he killed 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

I STATE THAT as a fact beyond dispute; McDonald is dead and buried and not going to have the life his parents would have dreamed for him because of Van Dyke’s actions.

Which is why this entire trial is not about what Van Dyke did – but why!

Because we do give our police significant authority to use force, including deadly force, in the performance of their jobs. Which is why defense attorneys have tried to present the image of a McDonald who was strung out on drugs to the point where he was out of control.

Which made that knife he was waving about a very deadly weapon to anybody who happened to be near him.

IT’S CLEAR FROM the four days of testimony that prosecutors presented that they want us to think of this as an open-and-shut case. Van Dyke fired multiple gunshots into McDonald’s body and he died. So now, Van Dyke must go to prison.

But life is never that clear-cut, even though all of us want to believe life’s questions can all be answered with “yes” or “no.”

So when the Van Dyke defense begins its work come Monday at the Criminal Courts building, the big issue will be whether Van Dyke himself will take the stand and submit to questions about what he did that night in ’14.
VAN DYKE: Will he be able to clear his name?

Van Dyke has the legal right to refuse to say anything. He can’t be forced to take the stand and submit to questions. We require prosecutors to prove their own cases – and do not permit them to intimidate people into testifying against themselves.

IN FACT, MANY criminal cases do not result in a defendant taking the stand. I have seen countless trials in which a defendant does not put up any defense – with attorneys arguing that prosecutors so clearly failed to prove their case they don’t feel the need to say or do anything for the record.

And yes, it has worked, because the burden of proof is on prosecutors to show their case is legitimate. I’m sure Van Dyke would like to think he falls into that category.

But there are people who want to hear Van Dyke’s own words about that night. It’s almost as though they’re a group of “Ricky Ricardos,” telling Van Dyke’s “Lucy” to “splain” himself and what he was thinking when his reaction four years ago to encountering McDonald was to pull out his pistol and fire 16 shots into Laquan’s body.

But if he does that, he also opens himself up to questioning from prosecutors, who with their “yes” or “no” mentality will be more than willing to put pointed questions to him meant to make Van Dyke appear to be mean and vindictive.

IN FACT, I have seen criminal trials where prosecutors are so demanding of a “yes” or “no”-type answer that they refuse to allow the elaboration of detail usually required to get at the whole truth of a situation.

Despite the claims of legal officials that our judicial system is meant to elicit truth, my own experiences in covering courts throughout the years have led me to believe the reality is that prosecutors and defense attorneys are given the chance to present their own versions of what they want us to believe happened – then we leave it up to that mythical “jury of our peers” to decide which version we believe.
Will police reputation escape taint?

So does Van Dyke have enough faith in his memory of what happened that night that he’ll be willing to submit to prosecutorial questions meant to trip him up? Will his take on the events sway anyone who has spent the past four years developing their own impression of what they believe happened that night?

Or will it become more fodder for the cynics of our society that this trial – which is progressing much more quickly than I would have expected – was “rigged” from the beginning?

  -30-

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Baseball has found a way to make the Chicago ‘city series’ feel lame

Remember back a decade or more ago when Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski wound up getting popped in the jaw by Cubs catcher Michael Barrett when the former went sliding hard into home plate to try to knock the ball free and score a run?
Remember how after being ejected from the game, Pierzynski tried getting fans at then-U.S. Cellular Field all riled up against the Cubs?

THAT MAY HAVE been a high-point in the intensity level for the so-called Crosstown Classic that has been played every year since the mid-1990s between Chicago’s two major league ball clubs.

But there’s one thing I can say definitively – we’ve hit the low point now.

Major League Baseball may be trying to shake up the way it does things, create a little controversy and maybe even rile up the fans. But the way the White
Sox/Cubs matchup this year was handled practically guaranteed it would come off as irrelevant.

This year, the two teams played a three-game weekend series back in May at Wrigley Field. Which means there need to be additional games between the two teams at Guaranteed Rate Field.

THOSE GAMES HAVE finally come upon us now – in the third weekend of September when many people already have written off baseball for the season.

Seriously, after this weekend, the White Sox have three more games to play in Chicago (against the Cleveland Indians), before finishing the 2018 season outright in Minneapolis against the Twins.

I know some people have tried to stir up interest from the White Sox perspective by pointing out that wins against the Cubs could become the ones that ensure the ’18 Sox don’t lose 100 ball games this season.
There also are those who take a bit of joy out of the idea that the White Sox could “pour it on” hard and sweep a series – and quite possibly could be the ball club that screws up the Cubs’ chances of taking a playoff spot, thereby ensuring that there won’t be a chance at a World Series in Chicago this year.

AS MUCH AS I personally have little use for the Cubs, or anything connected with the National League, I can’t quite get all worked up over this match-up so late in the season.

This is the time that many sports fans in the Second City get all absorbed with football and the Chicago Bears and fantasies that “da Bearz” could win a Super Bowl for the first time in 32 years.

Has it really been nearly a third of a century since the days of “Sweetness,” “Danimal” and “the Fridge?”

To derive any excitement from baseball this weekend, one is literally going to have to look back nearly as long ago for the days when Bridgeport vs. Lake View seemed like a grudge match.

NOT THAT FANS of the two teams have any love lost for each other. But it just seems the baseball feud has mellowed out a bit – at least until we get some lasting evidence that the rebuilt White Sox will provide worthy competition and smack the baby blue bears back into a role of submission.

Despite that, I couldn’t help but notice the crowds expected for this weekend’s ballgames.
I contemplated attending one of them (possibly the Saturday night game where Sister Mary Jo Sobieck again does first-pitch duties to try to once again unleash the wrath of God himself upon the Cubs), only to see that Guaranteed Rate Field was offering up standing room-only tickets.

And even those were at a cost of $75 – which to me seems like a ridiculous sum to pay to stand in the outfield concourse behind the outfield seats, as we move yet another year away from 1906; the season that baseball came down to a White Sox/Cubs brawl and one that Cubs fans will never be allowed to live down.

  -30-

EDITOR'S NOTE: 10-4 on Friday, and a White Sox Winner! The beginning of a Sox sweep that makes them the Cubbies' spoilers, or a lone victory that will be the highlight of an otherwise dingy 2018 season?

Friday, September 21, 2018

Edgar an old-school “real” Republican, instead of an "Age of Trump" character

It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that Jim Edgar (the Illinois governor of the 1990s) doesn’t think much of incumbent Bruce Rauner, and is actually offering up some advice to Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker.
EDGAR: A political adviser to all

That was the BIG STORY offered up this week by WCIA-TV in Champaign, that Edgar won’t endorse Rauner’s re-election and is almost something of a counselor for Pritzker – whom it seems he knows firsthand from when the two of them served on a board over a decade ago promoting gambling interests connected to horseracing.

IT IS THE kind of political tidbit that will get the conservative ideologues who have taken over the Republican Party all worked up. They’ll spew a whole lot of nasty names – the nicest of which may be that he’s a “RINO” (a so-called “Republican in Name Only”).

As in one of those people whose refusal to be ideologically rigid is what is wrong with politics these days.

Yet I can see where Edgar is so different in background compared to Rauner – and most definitely to President Donald Trump that the real news would be if Edgar could find a way to be supportive of either man.

Or any of the ideologues determined to use party politics and government for the sole purpose of wiping out the opposition on just about any issue.
RAUNER: Lost the leanings of Gov. Jim

THE TRICK TO comprehending The Edgar Years (which coincide closely with the Bill Clinton era) is to remember that Edgar was a man who worked the bulk of his professional life collecting paychecks from Illinois state government.

He was a guy who went from being an intern within the Illinois Legislature all the way up to two terms as governor. I remember I used to joke to people that Edgar was the equivalent of the mythical guy who went from working in the company mailroom to being CEO – except that his company was Illinois state government.

He also served as an Illinois House member(from his hometown of Charleston, the college town that gives us Eastern Illinois University), on the staff of Gov. James R. Thompson and also as Illinois secretary of state.
PRITZKER: Will he listen to Edgar advice?

Edgar was definitely someone who worked his way up through the system, learned how it works and took a strong interest in preserving it.

I CAN SEE where a person like that would find someone like Bruce Rauner distasteful.

With Rauner being the venture capitalist who developed significant personal wealth, then decided to run for a top government post (none of that working his way up politically) because he thinks government made things difficult for his business-self entity.

Just like I’m sure a significant part of the Trump presidency is about trying to change all the government regulations that see sees as having interfered with the business interests of himself, and people like him.

Never mind the fact that many of those regulatory functions were meant to protect the public from the harm that could be caused by Trump’s every little precarious whim.

SO IS THE fact that Rauner let state government go for multiple years without a balanced budget in place an act of irresponsibility that would lead Edgar to say he’s endorsing nobody this year – and certainly not Gov. Bruce? Very likely yes!
Edgar an antique in this Age of Trump

Does the fact that Edgar has always had a strong interest in horses and racetracks and the fact that he got to know Pritzker mean he’s willing to sit down and advise him on how to conduct himself responsibly during a campaign? Probably.

So for the Champaign-area CBS affiliate to report that there have been meetings between Edgar and Pritzker – with the former governor advising J.B. not to get too tied into details now because the realities of governing could cause him to have to change his stance on issues – shouldn’t be shocking.

Because I don’t doubt Edgar is a “Land of Lincoln”-style Republican at heart, and he’ll probably be the first to publicly lambast a “Gov. Pritzker” the first time J.B. screws something up.

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

EXTRA: Has the FOP made Burge & Van Dyke into the cop Odd Couple

It has been a full day since Fraternal Order of Police officials chose to make a spectacle out of the death of one-time Chicago Police Cmdr., and I’m still trying to figure out what they think they’ve accomplished.
Why would Jason Van Dyke want his name … 

Because if I were connected to the criminal defense of Jason Van Dyke, a police officer currently on trial for murder involving the shooting death of a teenage criminal suspect, the last thing I’d want anyone doing is bringing up the name of Burge in any sort of pairing.

YET THAT IS what was done on Wednesday, when FOP union officials showed up at the Criminal Courts Building (where they knew a slew of reporter-type people would be present to cover Van Dyke) and let it be known that Burge – who retired to Florida with his full police pension benefits – is dead. He was 70.

Dean Angelo, the one-time FOP president, said (amongst other things), “I don’t know that Jon Burge got a fair shake based on the years and years and years of service that he gave to the city.”

As though we’re supposed to think Burge was the ultimate victim because he wound up serving prison time for perjury committed while testifying in lawsuits filed due to his actions as a police officer.

He never was convicted for those acts, which consisted of countless incidents of brutality by he and the officers under his command. One could joke that Burge is just like Al Capone, the ‘20s era gangster whose tax evasion conviction seemed downright petty compared to the bloodshed that occurred in Chicago during his lifetime.

OF COURSE, IT was the people of Chicago who ultimately paid for Burge’s behavior. The city had to pay more than $100 million in legal settlements and reparations to those men who wound up doing prison time because of the confessions that Burge is said to have beaten out of them.
… tied to that of Jon Burge?

I’m sure Angelo wants to believe Burge was a decent cop who got criminalized by people who were “human vermin” themselves. Perhaps he thinks we’re on the verge of doing something similar to Van Dyke – whose offense was the repeated shooting of a teenager with a knife who could have become a threat to the public.

I’ll be the first to admit that Van Dyke may have a legitimate claim to self-defense in his case. That's what his ongoing trial is all about. Which is why I find it odd that anyone acting in his defense would want to bring up Burge.

Just hearing the name will bring up bad memories from Chicago’s past and create an association by guilt for Van Dyke. Something I’d think they’d want to avoid. Instead of putting our collective Burge memories into the city’s past.

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Some in Catholic church want to attach “exorcism” label to homosexuality

An exorcism, of sorts, took place just last week in the Avondale neighborhood.
A 'Page One' controversy

There, officials with the Resurrection parish held a ceremony where they burned a decades-old banner; as part of their desire to express their opposition to homosexual behavior of any sorts.

THE BANNER THAT was burned is one that belongs to the church. It’s their own property, which means that the letter of the law says they can do what they want with it.

The banner is one that used to be prominently displayed in the church – it incorporates a Christian cross with a colorful rainbow. It most likely was intended to be a peaceful image. As in, “Love of Christ” and all that kind of talk.

But in today’s mentality, the ideologues determined to put a hostile spin on just about everything see a similarity between their banner (which had been in storage in recent years) and the multi-colored rainbow-motif flags that gay rights activists often unfurl on behalf of their own cause.

Which led church officials to hold the ritual of exorcism to chase the demonic influence away from their church building.

SERIOUSLY!

Church officials said they viewed their peaceful banner as having evolved into something by which pro-gay propaganda was trying to express itself within their allegedly hallowed halls.

To me, I can’t help but see the activity at Resurrection Church as bordering on grotesque. People with far too much free time on their hands trying to come up with yet more ways to taunt those who aren’t like themselves.
CUPICH: Being challenged by his priests

I’d be willing to dismiss it as too petty to be taken seriously, except that it seems these church officials are eager to look to their past to find ways of justifying their backward thoughts.

ALL THE MORE reason why I find the idea of “Make America Great Again” to be inherently false. I suspect these parishioners think they’re merely making their church ‘great again’ by seeking out absurdly-outdated ideology.

Then again, these people probably are the same ones going about wearing their red caps in hopes of intimidating others around them. It’s embarrassing that too many church officials have the same mentality of the schoolyard bully of old.

What scares me is that this rhetoric, which officially is being denounced by Chicago Archdiocese Cardinal Blasé Cupich, is too similar to the acts back in 2013, when the Bishop of the Springfield, Ill., Catholic diocese decided to express his opposition to then-Gov. Pat Quinn approving the law that made gay marriage legitimate in Illinois by holding an exorcism on behalf of the whole state.

Are we literally going to have church officials holding their ritual to chase the Satanic spirits they see around every corner? Which to the masses merely brings up tacky memories (Ragen’s head twisting completely around?) of that 1973 horror film, “The Exorcist.”

I SUSPECT THAT most people don’t understand a thing about what exorcism really was. Just as many people probably have the whole of their religious knowledge coming from scenes of the 1956 film “The Ten Commandments.”
Extent to which most comprehend exorcisms

Is actor Charlton Heston really their vision of a holy man?

My comprehension of exorcism is that it was often used in olden times as a way of dealing with ailments we now comprehend as evidence of mental illness. It’s not a process anybody turns to these days, unless they’re desperately determined to live in the past.

Although I suspect many of those who approved of the banner burning that took place last week are amongst those who would be grossly offended if the banner had been the Stars and Stripes, and who have holy-like visions in this Age of Trump when they think of our nation’s current commander-in-chief.

  -30-

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Only 49 more days ‘til “real” election cycle begins – the Chicago mayoral

Is political matchup between Preckwinkle … 
Seven weeks from Wednesday is a date that I’m sure many people will be awaiting, depending on their own political perspective.

It is either seven more weeks until the current election cycle – the one that will give Illinois a governor, legislators and other constitutional officers – is over and done with. Or it is seven more weeks until we can forget about this layer of government and get on with what they want to believe is the real government.
… and Daley more intriguing … 

AS IN THE election for mayor and the 50 members of the City Council who will oversee the municipal activity of Chicago.

Yes, it is an overly parochial attitude to take that people who live outside of the Chicago city limits have government that doesn’t mean a thing. And that our state officials ought to be subservient to those officials from the city.

But I also don’t doubt there are people who are tired of the rhetorical trash talk coming from the governor candidates and will never get intrigued by who is running for attorney general or comptroller.

They probably don’t have a clue who their state legislators are.
… than the 'millionaires' brawl … 

FOR THOSE PEOPLE who want to think the state government doesn’t matter, just keep in mind that Bill Daley has kicked off his own campaigning for mayor in the Feb. 26 elections (with possible run-offs April 2) by saying he expects newly-elected Gov. J.B. Pritzker to be supportive of initiatives that will help Chicago resolve some significant financial issues the city has.

A concept that I’m sure grossly offends Illinoisans from that one-third of the state’s population lying outside the Chicago metropolitan area’s boundaries.

I actually wonder if Bruce Rauner’s lone chance of prevailing on Nov. 6 and getting himself re-elected to a second four-year term as governor is if enough non-Chicago voters decide to band together and Vote for Bruce to keep the city from becoming – from their perspective – too powerful.
… we're now getting between Rauner/Pritzker?

So long as ideologues getting all worked up about social issues such as abortion or immigration see flaws in Rauner because he hasn’t been hardline right-wing enough to appease them, then Pritzker is likely to prevail.

WHICH IS WHY many voters are acting as though Nov. 6’s Election Day is already a done deal; and why they’re probably waiting for the activity that decides who will be the replacement as mayor for Rahm Emanuel – who already has made public his first act.

He has a book deal – one that will let him settle scores against everyone who he thinks has wronged him during his eight years as mayor and will keep his name in the public eye while he decides what he wants to do with the rest of his life.

That book, which Emanuel has yet to write, is expected to be published by the year 2020 – around about the same time that Chicago White Sox fans think their favorite ballclub will morph itself into a contending ballclub.

Which may, or may not, be a fantasy in its own right.

WITH THE MAYORAL election cycle turning into a brawl between Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and former White House chief of staff Bill Daley, with former school board President Gery Chico saying Tuesday he’s interested in getting into the mix and others speculating about likely Rep. Jesus Garcia, D-Ill., and Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza becoming involved, the upcoming political fight is taking on a heft that will make many eager to see this “governor nonsense” over and done with.
What if Mendoza  swings ahead of all?

It definitely has taken on more heft than it had just a couple of weeks ago when it was Emanuel likely running for re-election against a dozen or so lightweights whose only real strategy for winning was that they could force Emanuel into a run-off election and beat him by taking the “Anybody But Rahm” vote.

Now, it’s more likely the Chicago city elections will produce a mayor who actually has people intrigued by his/her qualifications for the office – instead of feeling like a default choice.

And as for governor? It would amuse me if Pritzker wound up spending all those millions of dollars of the family fortune to buy himself a political post, only to have someone like Mendoza (who currently holds a post four notches below his in the state pecking order) somehow swing around him and gain the more prestigious (to some) political post for herself!

  -30-