Friday, November 30, 2018

EXTRA: Rauner, forever bitter?

“I am very scared for the people of Illinois. I believe that the folks who put Illinois into a financial quagmire are now back in complete control of the government. The policies that have created the financial mess for the state of Illinois are now the policies that will be dominating completely without any resistance whatsoever.”
--Bruce Rauner, Illinois governor, 2015-19


RAUNER: Still peeved about electoral loss
Bruce Rauner let it be known this week that he’s not about to take the high road politically with regards to his Election Day loss earlier this month.

While Rauner wasn’t ready (still) to say much of anything about how President Donald Trump and his presence impacted the soon-to-be-former governor politically, he’s going to forever go about trashing the Democrats whom he seems to want to believe have a whole lot of nerve for challenging him in the first place.

PERSONALLY, I’M INCLINED to view the issue as one where a whole lot of Illinois people voted the way they did to replace Rauner because they saw all his politically partisan actions as the reason why our state’s financial problems got exacerbated into a calamity of historic proportions. They were “very scared” of “four more years” of partisan-motivated nothingness within our government.

Not that the actions of Rauner should have been shocking. This was a man who campaigned back in 2014 on the idea that he wanted to undermine the influence of organized labor in our government, and that IT was to blame for not kowtowing to the self interests of business and corporate America.

Of course, considering the fact that we in Illinois have a state Legislature with leadership who are protective of working people and their interests, the activity of the past few years shouldn’t have been at all surprising.

The only real shock, if you think about it, is that Rauner (who had never before held political office) ever got elected in the first place. Although that’s most likely due to apathy felt about then-Gov. Pat Quinn, and a not-so-realistic thought that ANYBODY who replaced him would be better.

NOW, WE KNOW that we were deluded in our political apathy, and took the first chance we could get to remove Rauner – regardless of what we truly think of Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker.

I don’t doubt that Republican partisans are peeved about the Election Day results in Illinois, although I suspect what really bothers them is the fact that back in 1994 when the GOP managed to take control of all the state constitutional offices and General Assembly, the Republican period of domination only lasted two years.
ROGERS: Not organized, just Democrats

By comparison, this modern-day Democrat domination of Illinois government lasted 12 years, became one of Democrat control for four years, and now has been restored to Democrat domination. It sounds more like political jealousy to me!

And to those people I know who have fantasies of Ronald Reagan-like resuscitation in Illinois, I say to keep in mind the words of Will Rogers, who once said, “the difference between a Republican and a Democrat is the Democrat is a cannibal they have to live off each other. While the Republicans, why they live off the Democrats." Perhaps a majority of us were tired of Rauner trying to enrich himself and his business colleagues at the expense of the rest of us.


Burke busted? Or just ammunition to be used by Election Day challengers?

Just what should we think of the fact that FBI agents showed up Thursday morning at the City Hall and neighborhood offices of 14th Ward Alderman Edward Burke, kicked everybody out without explanation, and began rummaging through the alderman’s files. 
Ald. Burke got himself involved earlier this year in an immigration-related dispute. Will he gain political points as a result? Photo by Gregory Tejeda
Federal investigators aren’t saying anything right away about what they’re looking for. In fact, the only visual image available early on was the sight of the windows and glass doors to the office being covered over with paper – so as to keep people from peeking in and watching just what the FBI is up to!

NOT THAT IT matters much at this point, or probably not at all, what the purpose of Thursday’s raids actually is.
Jesus Garcia thinks it offensive that Burke … 

For the people interested in deposing Burke from office will eagerly use the very presence of FBI at his offices and their suspicion as ample cause for voters to get all worked up and dump him from office come Feb. 26.

The fact is that Burke, who actually will hit the 50-year mark as a member of the City Council come March 12, is going to have serious challengers for his governmental post.

The other fact is that campaigns rarely delve into the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

THAT WOULD COME at a later date if federal investigators actually think they’ve found something that would warrant a criminal investigation. For campaign purposes in Election ’19, any rumor or trivial tidbit that can be made to sound offensive to the public will do.
… has worked as an attorney for Donald Trump

My point is that Thursday’s actions, in and of themselves, don’t constitute much. Particularly since federal investigators have probed Burke’s activity in the City Council in the past. Which Burke himself admitted to Thursday. "Once again, we will be cooperating fully and I am completely confident that at the end of the day, nothing will be found amiss in this instance either."

If Burke truly has any sense, he knows how to conduct himself in ways that prevent him from getting nailed with a criminal indictment.

It almost makes him a political equivalent of Tony Accardo, the long-time boss of organized crime in Chicago who back when he died nearly three decades ago had it said of him he was too smart to ever get busted, which is why he never spent a day of his life in jail.

BURKE’S REAL OFFENSE is the fact that his ward, consisting of neighborhoods on Chicago’s Southwest Side, has changed, just like many other neighborhoods, when it comes to ethnic composition.

In Burke’s case, the ultimate white Irish politico is now representing an area that is overwhelmingly Latino – Mexican-American, to be more specific.

Which is why it shouldn’t be a shock that the other four candidates who filed nominating petitions for the right to run against Burke come Feb. 26 are people of Latin ethnic backgrounds.

While Jesus Garcia, the newly-elected member of Congress from Chicago, is publicly saying that Burke is too tied into the political and business establishment of the city to actually represent the interests of his significant Latino population. Which may be why earlier this year, Burke was eager to publicly get involved in a political dispute over the use of the airport in Gary, Ind. (to which Chicago city government provides some funding) as part of the process of deporting people from the United States.
Burke envisions himself quite the Chicago historian

GARCIA INCLUDES AMONGST those acts the fact that back when Donald Trump was merely a businessman wanting to build that ugly towering structure of his along the Chicago River, he hired Burke to be his attorney and work the deal through the political process.

Burke may not be working for Trump any longer (and I’m sure Trump would be the first to denounce Democrat Burke these days). But it’s guilt by association. When combined with his past as being an outspoken critic of Mayor Harold Washington (which he has offered mea culpas for throughout the years), there are those who’d love to see Ed go down to defeat – just as they beat up on his brother, Dan, who served in the Illinois House of Representatives for many years.

Which means this campaign will get uglier for the man who likes to think he’s the historic voice of Chicago (he often likes to give lengthy speeches filled with historic tidbits). It will be far more than the upcoming ballot lottery to determine whether Burke or Jose Torrez gets the top spot come Feb. 26.

Because I have no doubt the political fantasies will arise about people being able to keep Burke himself from being able to run a credible campaign for re-election.


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Is Kifowit’s trash talk any more crude than Trump-era Republican rhetoric?

Yes, Stephanie Kifowit, the state representative from Oswego who implied this week that one of her Republican colleagues ought to have his family infected with Legionnaire’s Disease, was rude and tacky in her comments.
KIFOWIT: Her moment of 'infamy?'

It was good to learn that after an entire day of trying to defend herself (claiming she was misinterpreted), she came out with an apology to the family of state Rep. Peter Breen – the legislator whose family was supposed to be infected and drop dead!

YET I HAVE to admit that hearing all the self-righteous GOP rhetoric condemning Kifowit for her trash talk was even more sickening than anything the representative said.

For these are often the same people who are so eager to defend their Republican colleagues, and President Donald Trump himself, every time they spew something stupid and crude.

Particularly with regards to the president, they try to claim his crude talk on oh so many issues is just The Donald being blunt-spoken and honest. Saying it the way it really is, they’ll try to claim.

It’s almost enough to make me think they deserve to be smacked about with Kifowit-style trash talk. In this era our society is now in, we’re going to have many people saying stupid things. We’re all going to be owed many apologies.
BREEN: Really a victim?

I ALSO HAVE no doubt that the next generation is going to look back on my own and wonder just how we all could have been pathetic enough to think that such behavior was acceptable.

Probably similar to how many of us in society these days look back on old segregationist attitudes and ponder just how anyone could ever have been so backward as to think such thoughts were civilized and proper.

All of this was triggered Tuesday by activity at the Statehouse in Springfield, where the big issue being discussed was a bill meant to raise the financial limits that exist for how much the families of seniors who lived at a veterans’ home in Quincy could sue the state to compensate them for the loss of a loved one.

Breen, a Lombard Republican, said he thinks there are too many questions, and that raising the limits (from $100,000 to $2 million) could be financially damaging to the state.
SCHNEIDER: A little too self-righteous!

THAT IS WHAT offended Kifowit to the point where she said how bad it would be if a “broth of Legionella” were to be put into the water supply of Breen’s family.

Kifowit initially tried defending herself by saying she meant her statement as a theoretical example, and not as a hard-and-fast outcome that she was wishing for. But she got buried under mounds of harsh rhetoric implying how cruel and heartless she was for even suggesting the death of a political colleague’s family.

“Kifowit should be ashamed of her remarks,” said state Republican Chairman Tim Schneider. “Since Rep. Kifowit has refused to apologize to Rep. Breen she should resign from office, as these remarks are unfit for someone serving public office.”

Of course, Kifowit later came up with an apology. When combined with the fact that Schneider’s own political influence these days is minimal (he couldn’t even win re-election earlier this month to his government post on the Cook County Board), it’s not likely that anybody is resigning from anything.

FOR IF WE truly expected resignations from political people every time they said or thought something stupid, we likely wouldn’t have any officials left to fill government posts.
TRUMP: How many apologies does he owe us?

It may be the ultimate truth about comprehending the ways of government and politics – it’s all a matter of trying to avoid saying something stupid. Then again, one’s idea of what is stupid or offensive all-too-often depends on one’s own partisan political leanings.

Going back to the example of our president, who has made so many rude and crude comments on so many issues that I’ve lost count, he’s not about to resign because of his mouth. His Republican colleagues in Congress enjoy the fact that Trump’s presence strengthens their own political status, so they’re not about to hold him accountable.

Which means that on a certain level, Kifowit probably deserves a bit of praise for the fact that she apologized for her bout of diarrhea of the mouth that she suffered from Tuesday.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Down to 21; how few candidates will remain by the time it is all over

The “it” is the process by which we put together the ballot of candidates who we’ll get to choose from come Feb. 26 for who gets to succeed Rahm Emanuel as mayor of the city of Chicago.
Whose face will fill the blank come May inauguration?

Much attention was paid the past week to the candidates who actually came forth with nominating petitions seeking a spot on the mayoral ballot.

THERE ONCE WAS a time when some 40 or so people were talking about running for mayor. The Monday deadline for filing nominating petitions came and went with 21 people actually taking the step forward.

Yet in all honesty, I’ll be shocked if more than a half-dozen of them actually make it all the way to Election Day.

There are bound to be candidates who come to the realization before then that their mayoral aspirations are pure fantasy. Then there also will be those who will wind up feeling crushed – as though the “gods” of politics are conspiring against them to keep us from casting a vote for them.

I don’t doubt that every single one of the 21 who filed nominating petitions is convinced that they’re the only logical choice for mayor, and that everybody else would be doing themselves and the public at-large a whole lot of good if they’d only drop out.
MENDOZA: Could she fall short of backers?

THE PART OF the political process we’re now entering is the “challenges.” As in having their supporters file objections to their opponents – contending they didn’t meet the bare minimum requirement of 12,500 valid signatures of support for their candidacy from Chicago residents who happen to be registered to vote.

The fear of getting knocked off is what causes candidates to go overboard and come up with so many more signatures than necessary. Because invariably, somebody is going to get a signature from a suburban resident who just happened to be in the city at the time a campaign worker got their autograph.

Either that, or someone is going to think it incredibly funny to sign themselves as “Mickey Mouse” or “Donald Trump” or some other nonsense name. Which taints the nominating petition as a whole!
ENYIA: Kicked off ballot just for kicks?

Candidates now are looking for ways to kick their opponents off the ballot so as to boost their own chances of achieving political victory and being the one who takes the oath of office for mayor come May.

I WON’T BE surprised if candidate Amara Enyia winds up finding herself spending significant amounts of time fighting off a challenge. She’s the candidate who has gotten attention and money from rap music entertainers, and who claims she has more than 62,000 signatures of support.

Which actually is just more than the 60,000 or so that Toni Preckwinkle gathered for her mayoral bid.

I don’t doubt that the political geeks who specialize in this type of duty would love the chance to show that Enyia’s signatures are so tainted that she deserves to be booted from the ballot.

Even if she does remain through to Election Day, she could wind up spending her time with attorneys her campaign really can’t afford trying to justify her political existence. Which is actually a common tactic for dealing with fringe candidates who might have something serious to say. Neutralize them into oblivion!!!

I’M GOING TO be interesting in seeing how the candidacy of Susana Mendoza turns out. Because she started gathering mayoral petition signatures so late (she had to spend time getting re-elected as Illinois comptroller first), she only submitted some 25,000.
How many petitions do you figure he signed?

Could the same political geeks who pick apart Enyia wind up knocking off enough of Mendoza’s supporters to make her ineligible to run for mayor? Thereby reducing the number of legitimate mayoral candidates on the ballot.

Because the reality is the “law” with regards to ballot access is vague as to what exactly an invalid signature is. Basically, it is whatever the challenger says it is, and it becomes up to the would-be candidate to prove they didn’t do something wrong.

Definitely a process intended to weed out the no-names and bring us down to a manageable number of candidates from whom to vote – even if the end result is that we wind up with the same old names on the ballot every single election cycle.


EDITOR’S NOTE: For now, the ballot (in alphabetical order) includes Catherine Brown D’Tycoon, Dorothy Brown, Gery Chico, William Daley, Amara Enyia, Bob Fioretti, LaShawn Ford, Ja’Mal Green, Conrien Hykes Clark, Jerry Joyce, John Kozlar, Lori Lightfoot, Sandra Mallory, Richard Mayers, Garry McCarthy, Susana Mendoza, Toni Preckwinkle, Neal Sales-Griffin, Paul Vallas, Roger Washington and Willie Wilson.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Did McCarthy single-handedly win, or lose, the mayoral election on Monday?

Chicago woke up Monday morning to the first significant snowfall of the season, which of course got some more trivial-minded broadcast types determined to ask the ultimate political question.
McCARTHY: Cracking down on 'dibs'

Dibs, or no?

AS IN SHOULD people be allowed to stake out a parking spot near their homes and claim it for their own, just because they managed to clear it of snowfall.

Because it also was a day for many of the mayoral aspirants to file their nominating petitions to get on the ballot, it meant candidates got the question put to them – yea or nay?

And no pussyfooting about how it’s a stupid non-issue meant to divert attention away from serious problems confronting Chicago. Which is the way I feel about the issue – a stance that I’m sure will cause some to want to mock me.

For the record, most of the candidates tried to get out of answering the question, but ultimately wound up deciding that people have a right to stake a claim to a parking spot come winter weather.

ALL EXCEPT FOR Garry McCarthy – the one-time law enforcement official from metro New York who came to Chicago to be police superintendent, then got fired by soon-to-be-former Mayor Rahm Emanuel to try to divert criticism from himself over the police shooting death of teenager Laquan McDonald.

McCarthy is likely to be he preferred mayoral candidate of those people eager to express support for law-and-order and police above all others, and who see anything less than such an extreme attitude as being chaos run amok upon our society.

But on this issue, he came out in favor of cracking down on people who think they have a “right” to a particular parking space.

“That’s a bad idea. It causes conflict. Anything that causes conflict, I think, is a bad idea,” McCarthy told reporter-type people.

NOW I’LL BE the first to admit that it’s a total pain in the behind to have to use a shovel to clear one’s car free from heavy snowfall. It takes time, it can be freezing, and one comes off totally soaking wet – then having to get into the car and tend to whatever business they’re doing.

To then come back home to find out someone else took the space for their own automobile? I can comprehend how some people would be p-o’ed.

But it’s one of the realities of urban life. Parking one’s car is always a problem. If you want to have a guarantee of a private spot, then you have to pay for it.

Either that, or go move to a suburban area, or some part of the country where snowfall just isn’t much of an issue. My guess is that if you go out there, you’ll find out just how preferable your life situation is better off here, and your complaints about winter-time parking will come off as downright petty.

BUT THERE ARE those people who want to view it as some sort of inherent right, somewhere along their ability to own a firearm, to have a personal parking spot and stake a claim to it. Almost as though they think they’re 19th Century prospectors panning for gold in isolated spots.

So I have no doubt that McCarthy’s comments, no matter how trivial they truly are, will instigate some people to vote against him, Heck, I’ve already seen one anonymous commenter label McCarthy a “communist.”

Which I’m sure would grossly offend Sen. Joe of Wisconsin, as though his name were being taken in vain.

But the fact that some voters will make their Feb. 26 decision based off of the early Monday snowfall is the fact that actually grossly offends me – quite possibly more than those who think they have the right to vandalize a car that dared to park in a spot they think is theirs!


Monday, November 26, 2018

SPORTING NUZ; Chicago-style: Who's bigger – Bears, or Wildcats?

I’m not much of a football fan. Yet even I can appreciate just how unique this season is for those of us Chicago-area people who take to the gridiron.
Maybe we could have a fantasy championship at Wrigley between the Bears and the Wildcats?
The Chicago Bears don’t actually suck, for a change. They’re in first place in their division, and it would take a collapse of historic proportions for them to fail to at least make it to the playoffs.

WE’RE GOING TO have people in coming weeks getting all worked up at the thought of a Super Bowl involving a Chicago team. The delusional thoughts will run rampant. They’re not going to dump the ’85 Bears (whose coach, Mike Ditka, these days is recovering from a heart attack) in Chicago’s sporting mentality. But they’ll come close.

Yet let’s be honest. They might turn out to be the second-most interesting local football tale of the year.

For we have the Wildcats of Northwestern University playing absurdly well. They are the top team in the Big Ten’s western division.

And after seeing Ohio State whomp all over Michigan, there will be those eager to see if Northwestern can actually win the conference – which would most definitely put them in line for a significant bowl game.
Wildcats to get better bowl venue than Yankee Stadium

CERTAINLY SOMETHING MORE prominent than the Pinstripe Bowl, to be played Dec. 27 at Yankee Stadium. Can the Wildcats actually manage to steal the thunder away from Da Bears? It’s possible, since a successful Bears season would be not getting totally humiliated in the playoffs, Whereas the Wildcats could actually wind up winning a bowl game.

Even though I’m sure the SEC-types who want to think the world doesn’t extend beyond Dixie will want to believe Alabama is the supreme football power – regardless of how anyone else actually plays.

Although it occurs to me there’s one way that this season tops the ’85 Bears – what if the Wildcats were to win a major bowl game, while the Bears also got into their third Super Bowl appearance ever. More likely than not, it won’t happen – but it’s something for some of us to fantasize about.

What else is notable on our city’s sporting scene these days?
Remembering their '05 victories?

HALL OF FAME FANTASIES: We’re at that time of year where the Baseball Hall of Fame is contemplating which former ballplayers deserve to be inducted amongst its newest members come 2019.

Two of the players getting their first – and most likely only – chance at induction are former Chicago White Sox pitchers Jon Garland and Freddy Garcia. Both of whom were a part of that outstanding starting rotation that enabled the Sox to win a World Series back in 2005.

The ’05 Sox technically already have one of their members in the Hall of Fame in the form of Frank Thomas (the slugger turned Nugenix pitchman), although Thomas actually spent most of that season injured and didn’t play a single game in the World Series.
Or have many forgotten by now?

Personally, I thought it an intriguing sporting happening when, in the final round of the American League playoffs that year, the White Sox beat the Los Angeles Angels – with the four Sox victories being complete game victories and Garland and Garcia ringing up two of them. They’ll most likely have to settle for the memories, rather than a bronze plaque in Cooperstown, N.Y.

MOST MEMORABLE?: Of course, one of the reasons that the two pitchers won’t get their moment of immortality is because of the way some people are determined to think that the Chicago Cubs championship of 2016 is all so significant.
Is this really Illinois history?

I couldn’t help but wretch at the thought of the recently-released results of a survey about Illinois history – asking people to pick the most-significant moments in our state’s 200-year history.

Perhaps it’s a plus that Moment No. 1 was Abraham Lincoln’s funeral proceedings – including the funeral train that took Honest Abe’s body from Washington to Springfield, Ill., while stopping in Chicago and passing through northern Illinois.

But the Cubs’ World Series title ranked No. 2 – as in we have people deluded enough to think that nothing else that has happened in the state other than the moment when the Cubs crushed the hopes of Cleveland Indians fans, who came oh so close to winning their own “first World Series” in 70-something years if only they could have held a lead in the final game.


Saturday, November 24, 2018

EXTRA: Bureaucracy (sadly) rules!

We’ve been hearing a lot in recent weeks about these caravans of people from central American nations who’d like to have a chance at a better life in the United States.
Within sight of United States, Trump creates more bureaucracy to thwart caravan
The ones that have been traveling throughout Mexico, and some of whom have actually made it as far as Tijuana. Meaning they’re literally here. Right across the border from San Diego and U.S. territory proper.

WE’VE ALSO HEARD the stories of U.S. military personnel being amassed along the border, so as to appease those people who approve of the Age of Trump we now live in who want those foreigners kept out of the country in whatever way possible.

It was encouraging to learn of military officials expressing objections to being used in such a manner. Yet in some ways, it is equally discouraging to see the tactic being used by Trump to achieve the ultimate goal of keeping those people out of the country.

Let the bureaucrats rule!

As in throw so many legal obstacles in the way of actually being able to enter this country (the one that claims it is all about helping “your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free”) that maybe, just maybe, many of them will merely give up and go back home.
Leaders of U.S. and Mexico (below) … 

IT SEEMS THE U.S. officials have actually reached an agreement with Mexico; by which the people now waiting their turn in Tijuana to have a chance at seeking asylum here will have to wait in Mexico.

Even though their cases will be decided in U.S.-based courts, they won’t be able to wait it out here. And it will be a wait – because the number of individuals now seeking and likely to seek asylum will take months for the courts to properly dispose of.

If anything, this has been the attitude that our federal government has taken in dealing with immigration – creating a bureaucratic mess meant to thwart the desires of those who’d want to be a productive part of our society here.

Rather than try to reform our immigration laws so as to deal in any sensible way with the masses who want to be part of life here, we’d rather create as many obstacles as we can dream up.
… work out deal that lets bureaucracy rule

ANYBODY WHO TRIES to say that we’re merely trying to deal with the masses of people passing through Mexico on the way to the United States in logical manner is spewing nonsense-talk. Trump, after all, also let it be known he’s prepared to close the U.S./Mexico border outright “if for any reason it becomes necessary.”

Such as perhaps if too many of the people who have caravanned their way from central America to Southern California actually manage to get the U.S. court system to approve their desires to live here.

It’s not surprising that, in Mexico, there are people who are getting upset at the notion of these central American natives having to be held within their country just because the United States has certain officials who wish they could make the issue go away.

It’s like our ideological nitwit officials are trying to dump a problem off on someone else – exactly the same way they always try to claim other countries are dumping their problems off on U.S.

THIS WHOLE SITUATION is one that is bound to become an embarrassment to the United States. It will be one of the biggest buffoonish acts to be committed by the Trump presidency.
ROBERTS: Challenging Trump viewpoint

Not that I expect the fanatics who approve of The Donald to ever admit any of this. All they’ll hear are the words “foreigner” and “Mexico” and they’ll be desperate to accept it, no matter how absurd the mechanics of it all are.

Because if they really had faith in this nation and its systems of operating, they’d be willing to trust the courts to weed through the large number of people seeking asylum in this country.

Then again, these people are the ones who these days are denouncing Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts for his recent statement that, “there are no Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. An independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”


The Donald and Mississippi? I’d rather take a trip to Punxsutawney, Pa.

Whose trading card is … 
I couldn’t help but be amused by the latest attempt by Donald Trump to have a political fundraiser – he’s offering up a raffle, with the grand prize being a trip to Mississippi!

Of course, the president himself will be in the “Magnolia State” come Monday, and the point of such a prize is that you get to meet Trump himself.

AS THOUGH YOUR life had absolutely no meaning until that moment when you found yourself within the presence of The Donald himself.  Whoo-boy. I know I certainly have little to no interest of winning that prize.
… more impressive?

Perhaps it is because I have covered many political rallies throughout the years to realize there’s a certain phoniness to their content – regardless of whom the government official is who is trying to deliver their partisan message to the public.

Or in the case of Trump, to a crowd of political partisans who want to hear nothing but the message that The Donald intends to deliver. Which will be something along the lines of his own wonderfulness and the “magnitude of me.”

Although perhaps I should apologize for the allusion to Reggie Jackson, the 1970s slugger who was always eager to discuss just how wonderful a ballplayer he was.
No question here -- a Reggie Bar is much more memorable … 
BECAUSE NO MATTER how full of it you thought Reg-gie was all those decades ago, he was a part of five World Series-winning teams in that decade, had that one World Series game in 1977 when he hit three straight pitches for home runs AND managed to get a candy bar named after him.

What has ever been named after Trump, except for a batch of ugly buildings that besmirch the reputations of their local communities?
… than a Trump Hotel, particularly the one in Chicago
Anyway, Trump is trying to draw attention to the political rally scheduled for Monday night in Mississippi. The one in which he’s trying to tout the candidacy of Cindy Hyde-Smith, the Republican running against Democrat Mike Espy for a seat in the U.S. Senate.

The two are engaged in a run-off, and Trump hopes his presence can draw out a few more votes on behalf of a candidate (Smith) he expects to be an ally in Congress.

EVEN THOUGH THE elections of earlier this month have already ensured that Republicans will run the U.S. Senate, there’s no doubt in my mind Trump is insecure enough he sees the need for as many allies as possible. Why win by one or two votes when you can drub the opposition into defeat every single time?!?

Which also is why Trump is trying to portray the event as some sort of “historic” event.

I’m not kidding. An e-mail message his campaign sent to me (out of some delusional hopes I’d cough up some cash and support) says it is the, “President’s huge MAGA Rally.”

And in exchange for a $5 donation, one could have their name entered in a rally. The winner gets a ticket for two to attend the rally, along with a flight to Mississippi, a hotel stay AND a photograph taken with the Trumpster himself.

BIG WHOOP!, IS my own personal reaction. I certainly didn’t feel compelled to enter myself into the rally, which – by the way – had a deadline of 11:59 p.m. Friday. Meaning by the time you read this, it’s too late to even fantasize about entering.
The new Trump-affiliated hotel in Mississippi
I just can’t think much of this particular prize – especially since it may merely mean a stay at the Scion Hotels of Cleveland, Miss. – which is a newly-opened division of the Trump Hotels chain.

It’s not like this prize is costing Trump much financially. I suspect the whole thing provides yet another tax write-off of the type that will mean the millionaire (or is he a billionaire?) executive will owe even less in taxes to the government.

Plus, all those $5 donations from Trump partisans can add up to real money; thereby further bolstering Trump’s 2020 campaign re-election fund. Everybody wins! Everybody that is, except for the masses who have to listen to him spew even more nonsense political rhetoric.


Friday, November 23, 2018

‘Holiday shopping’ has arrived, yet the depressing part of retail yet to come

Many of us will indulge our desire to play “Santa Claus” in a few weeks, hoping we can find just the right present to give that special someone in our lives.
Holiday shoppers will see similar scenes along State Street. Photos by Gregory Tejeda
Even though the more-realistic happening will be a rush of items being returned to the store come Dec. 26 for exchange, as people wonder how much our relatives and friends don’t comprehend what we like.

WHY ELSE WOULD they buy that ugly sweater or stinky cologne (or perfume) for us? How could they possibly think we’d enjoy that!

It’s “Black” Friday, and I’ve lost count of all the advertising fliers I’ve received in recent weeks – informing me of all the special sales intended to get us off our turkey-stuffed behinds and out to their stores. Where we’re expected to spend our money in great abundance in anticipation of the Christmas holidays of just four weeks off.

But back to the Christmas event, which will motivate a lot of shopping – with retailers trying to make us think its our patriotic duty to turn out and endure the ridiculous crowds at stores anticipated for Friday.

This is, supposedly, the time of year when stores actually meet all the expenses of having operated this year – meaning that any income generated through sales from this point on will determine just HOW profitable 2018 turns out to be.
Will window decorations be replicated?

I KNOW THERE are a lot of people who took holiday-season jobs in retail, hoping to make some extra money. They’re counting on all those sales to help generate a slightly-larger paycheck than the minimum wage salary provides. They work on commission, after all.

In fact, I still remember a time when I did such a thing. It was the holiday season of 1987. I was a fresh college graduate who had a few writing gigs providing something of a freelance income. But a few extra bucks couldn’t hurt.

That was the holiday season I worked in the men’s department of a Carson, Pirie Scott store – one out in the suburbs that ceased to exist even before the whole chain came tumbling down earlier this year.

I wasn’t much of a salesman, usually because I didn’t have the heart to care if people actually bought anything. The same person who could easily get motivated to chase a political geek to demand answers just didn’t care what shirt style one preferred.
How many miss having city's holiday tree in Daley Plaza

BUT MY BIGGEST memories of that holiday season job were the final days when Christmas had passed.

I got to see just how much of the merchandise I had sold to people wound up being despised. I remember getting daily reports of exactly how much the goods that were returned were valued at.

For me, it used to be in negative figures. As in any sales I generated in the days following Christmas were negated by all the merchandise that got returned.

I even recall one woman who had asked my advice on buying a sweater for her brother made a point of coming back to the store to tell me personally how much he hated it! Merry Christmas to you to, lady!
The city's menorah will see its duty in coming weeks
CONSIDER IT PART of the reason why I don’t get enthused much anymore about this part of the holiday season, and why I consider it a part of my routine of maintaining my sanity to avoid any kind of shopping on this Friday.

I think the crowds will be ridiculous. The idea of sudden bargains financially will be greatly-overstated. If anything, I think I would not want to be amidst the chaos when trying to pick out presents for people.
Planning a trip? Airport decorations to see you off
If I actually like them, I’d want to try to get something they’d enjoy, which probably needs a more sane and rational process than people will endure on Friday.

Most definitely not something that’s going to make people feel compelled to go back to the store the final week of December so they can return the ugly charm bracelet or bottle of Aramis I would have picked out for them now.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

Green resorting to age-old tactic to gain political backers – free holiday food

‘Twas Willie Wilson, the rich guy with political aspirations (now he wants to be mayor) who got in trouble earlier this year what with his willingness to hand out cash willy-nilly to gain the goodwill of potential voters.
GREEN: Helping Altgeld Gardens

There were those (myself included) who said his actions weren’t all that different from the political people of old who would give away the free turkeys to poor people around holiday season – so as to gain their good-will (and potential votes) on Election Day.

SUCH AS JA’MAL Green, who is one of the dozens who has hinted at running for mayor in the Feb. 26 municipal elections.

It seems that Green reached out to the people who live in the city’ Altgeld Gardens public housing complex (at the city’s far southernmost tip) to help them ensure they’ll have something to eat for a Thanksgiving holiday meal.

Specifically, he helped arrange for Cornish hens to be given away to those residents. It’s not turkey – but it is something that can make for a full meal and I’m sure there are those who will appreciate the idea of being given something they can prepare themselves; rather than being asked to settle for something served on a tray at a “soup kitchen” that is serving up a few turkeys to the needy to appease their own desire to appear helpful to the needy.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported how Green made the arrangements for people to get the food, and also have an event that created something of a festive mood within Altgeld Gardens on Wednesday.

IT SHOULD BE noted that Green isn’t paying for this. Although part of his event will include checking the participants to see if they’re properly registered to vote – and helping those who aren’t to fill out the paperwork so that they will be capable of legally casting a ballot come the February election (and April 2 run-off, if it becomes necessary).

But Green found business interests in and around the 130th Street area neighborhood who kicked in financial perks to make it possible to stage the event --- including finding a suburban automobile dealership willing to kick in a car for a raffle.

I’m sure there are those who think Green is merely buying the good will of potential voters so that they’ll keep his name in mind when they cast ballots.
WILSON: Created a stink earlier this year

Or I’m sure others will prefer to think of it as Green showing off the kind of organizational skills one would need to have if they’re truly qualified to hold an electoral office such as mayor.

IF ANYTHING, IT’S all too similar to the kind of tactics that political people have always used to try to gain support from the elements of our society who are not as financially well-off as some of us.

It shows just how cheaply a vote can be bought for.

The 2018 going rate is $7.68 each. At least that’s what Wal-mart was charging as of Wednesday for a pair of Cornish hens.

Perhaps Wilson was being overly generous earlier this year when he was handing out cash in increments of up to $100 each to people who came to him saying they had emergency bills that had to be paid off.

FOR GREEN, I’M not sure how much all of this helps. Although it did get his name in the newspaper yet again, and I’m sure his political aspirations of the future will benefit if he can create the impression that he’s a somebody.
The cost of some 21st Century votes?

He lives in the Pullman neighborhood, and I’m sure he thinks he’s merely helping the needy in a neighborhood not far from his own.

There’s nothing unusual about political people trying to publicize themselves, and get their names out. Choosing to spend a little bit of money for the public relations benefit is to be expected.

It’s when people begin to think that it’s all about the Cornish hens, or whatever other products they choose to give away, that we then have to start worrying about whether our politics are becoming too tainted.