Tuesday, April 30, 2019

EXTRA: Would you rather have Bobby Bonds 'bat,' or a Sox soccer jersey?

I couldn't help but get my chuckles from an old Chicago White Sox promotional announcement preserved on YouTube. It was Bat Day for the White Sox as they played the Boston Red Sox at Comiskey Park. The first few thousand kids who showed up for the game with a paying parent got a baseball bat engraved with the signature of Sox "star" Bobby Bonds.
I use "star" in parentheses because by the time Bobby came to Chicago's South Side, his best years were behind him. In fact, Bonds' White Sox stint lasted only 26 games in 1978, before he was traded to the Texas Rangers, which was one of many ballclubs he bounced around to (including the Chicago Cubs) the last half of his ballplaying career.

BONDS, WHO USED to have the baseball rep of being a guy who could hit 30 or more home runs and steal 30 or more bases in a season, only managed two home runs and six stolen bases, along with eight runs batted in, during his White Sox stint.

If anything, his most significant contribution to Chicago sports was being traded to Texas for, amongst others, outfielder Claudell Washington, whose defensive play was such that he was the subject matter of the famed fan banner that read, "Washington Slept Here."

I wonder if anyone who showed up for that ballgame some 41 seasons ago actually still has the Bobby Bonds model bat they were given that day. Or have they all been reduced to pieces of scrap long ago?

It should be noted that Bat Day is a long-ago concept. I can't think of the last time a baseball team gave out replica bats to try to get kids (and their parents) to come to a ballgame. Although I remember as a kid having Bat Day bats bearing the "signatures" of Sox pseudo-stars "Beltin'" Bill Melton and Walt "No Neck" Williams -- both of which I recall my brother and I shattering into pieces while actually playing ball with them.

NOWADAYS, WE GET off-beat trinkets as ballpark giveaways for promotional stunts. Take this coming weekend, when the Boston Red Sox make their one trip to Chicago for 2019.
Would you rather have a bat?

Saturday's ballgame at Guaranteed Rate Field will see bobblehead figures of "Star Wars" character R2-D2 (the sassy, sarcastic robot, rather than the prissy C-3PO) given out, while Sunday will see distribution of soccer-style jerseys in the black-and-white colors and Old English-style logo of the White Sox.

In short, the appeal is to get the Star Wars fans into the ballpark (it's May 4, which unofficially is Star Wars Day) on Saturday, along with the many Mexicanos who like soccer and would think it worth it to go to a beisbol game on Sunday, which is Cinco de Mayo.

Whereas if you tried to do a Bat Day these days, you'd have to offer up Tim Anderson models, and many of the kids might think the point is to flip it aside like a javelin -- rather than try to develop a solid swing that makes contact and achieves many, many base hits..

  -30-

Is the presence of Democratic Socialists in City Council really much change?

The concession by Deb Mell of her defeat for re-election to her City Council seat (the one held previously by her father since 1975) has some speculating about the significant change our aldermen will undergo.
RAMIREZ-ROSA: Head of new 'caucus?'

Particularly with the fact that this means there will now be six (out of 50) of the city’s aldermen choosing to use the political label of “Democratic Socialists” to identify themselves – rather than straightforward Democrats.

YET I CAN’T really see significant change in the ways of the City Council. Other than that there may be a few more loudmouths willing to refuse to speak in lock-step with the desires of the mayor.

Then again, with this new mayor who will take over May 20, these not-quite Democrats may well wind up being Lori Lightfoot’s biggest allies. Unless they decide they just want to be outspoken opponents of anybody who happens to be mayor.

Much of my own feeling about the idea of Democratic Socialists in the City Council is based on the fact that most of these so-called radicals (five of the six) are going to be members of the Latino caucus.

Jeannette Taylor, the new alderman of the city’s 20th Ward on the South Side, is an African-American woman. She’s the lone exception.

OTHERWISE, THIS DEMOCRATIC Socialist movement appears to be something that is a part of the Latino segment of Chicago. It could mean that paying attention to the Latino caucus will be the thing to do for individuals who want to see government officials who can’t get along.
GARCIA: If they challenge Chuy, that's radical

Yet that isn’t a radical idea.

If anything, the idea that Latino politicos aren’t a single, unified voice is nothing new at all. It is the reason why Latino political power and influence isn’t anywhere near as strong in Chicago as it should be.

The city’s Latino political people have always been something to be split into two groups – known informally as the Daley-type aldermen and the activist-type aldermen.

BASICALLY, THERE WERE those people of Latino ethnic origins who made the effort to become a part of the city’s government establishment – figuring that to become part of the system would ensure that the Spanish-speaking enclaves those officials represent would get their fair share of the municipal pie.
MELL: No more!

They were the ones who would ally themselves with the former Mayors Daley and be supportive – figuring that they weren’t a strong-enough entity on their own to be able to resist.

Then there were the activist types – the ones who figured that being too close to the Daley or their backers would merely prevent them from trying to advance their own goals for their communities.

If anything, watching the Latino caucus throughout the years has always been an adventure in political infighting, and seeing how the two groups would try to undermine each other’s efforts. Come Elections Day, they’d each be endorsing opponents to the other side – with hopes they could knock off some incumbents and shift the balance to their side.

NOW, IT WOULD seem that some people who would have been outspoken proponents of this latter-type group are giving themselves the formal label of Democratic Socialists – which, simply put, believes in the social freedoms of Democracy while thinking that the business principles of capitalism undermines any effort to achieve a Democratic society

Although there are times I wonder if the people who spew such rhetoric have merely spent too much time in their youths wearing those t-shirts with pictures of Che Guevara on them – without truly comprehending who Che was or what he meant.

I also think that those people who focus too intently on the “socialist” part of the label are missing the point – as I suspect the real Communists of the world would view the Democratic Socialists as the ultimate hostile enemy.

So is Socialism spreading to City Hall? Most likely, not really!

IT’S MORE LIKE the outspoken portion of the Latino caucus has given itself a new label, and has one ally amongst the council’s Black caucus. As far as the partisan split of the technically non-partisan aldermen, it is one Republican (Anthony Napolitano) along with the six (incumbent Carlos Ramirez Rosa, 35th Ward, Daniel La Spata, 1st Ward, Byron Sigcho-Lopez, 25th Ward, 33rd Ward, who beat Mell, Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez, Andre Vasquez, 40th Ward, and Taylor) Democratic Socialists.
Still likely to be the same nonsense at City Hall
Which means that 43 of the aldermen still identify themselves as standard-issue Democrats. Most of whom can’t “play nice” with each other – meaning the City Council still has potential for political chaos, just like usual.

  -30-

Monday, April 29, 2019

How big a deal is the Holzhauer game show streak on television's Jeopardy?

I’m not a regular viewer of television game shows. But while helping to watch over a grandparent on Friday, I got to see the latest segment of suburban Naperville native James Holzhauer’s winning streak on “Jeopardy” that’s gaining him national celebrity.
Will anyone remember him after this week?
He’s the guy who bills himself as a professional gambler and has managed to be a daily winner on the show 17 straight days now – having run up prize money totaling nearly $1.3 million.

WHICH MAKES HIM a big-bucks winner, and is about half-way to setting an all-time record (at least by “Jeopardy” standards) if he can keep the streak going to about $2.5 million.

It also has the potential to give him a big chunk of change, so to speak, that he could take back to his current home city of Las Vegas (he is a professional gambler, so to speak) to place bets on the upcoming NBA Finals or next year’s Super Bowl.

Or maybe he’ll try to run up his game show winnings by playing craps or the slot machines or some other game of chance.

If you get the feeling that my thoughts about all of this are a tad cynical, you’d be correct. It seems like quite a phony achievement for people to get all worked up over.

IN PART BECAUSE I find modern-day game shows to be overly loaded with trivia.

Such as on Friday, when there were answers to awkwardly-worded questions that basically relied upon a person’s ability to quote dialogue from the Inspector Clouseau character from the old “Pink Panther” films – or bits of chatter from old
Monty Python” flicks.

I’m not kidding. One of Holzhauer’s Friday challengers took a financial hit when he couldn’t quite remember the line that “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!!”
Not exactly an example of our society’s “best and brightest” showing off their intellect.

PLUS I ALSO couldn’t help remember moments in game show history when, back in 1958, an academic type, Charles Van Doren, appeared on the game show “Twenty-One” and ran up a winning streak.

It gained him national celebrity. But it was later learned that the show’s producers provided Van Doren with questions in advance, along with answers.

Now I’m not saying that Holzhauer’s ability to answer so many questions on a variety of topics is somehow equally coached or fraudulent. If anything, a part of me couldn’t help but wonder if the buzzing devices that let Jeopardy contestants indicate they want to try to answer a question were somehow working improperly.

It just seemed that Holzhauer was quick on the draw to answer so many questions that the other contestants also knew. Which could be a matter of skill, of sorts.

IS HOLZHAUER’S REAL skill that he has an itchy trigger finger (or thumb, actually), rather than superior knowledge. Would this “professional gambler” also be skilled at competitive video game playing.
Will Holzhauer get similar treatment someday?

Of course, it’s possible that many people reading this will wonder how I’m thinking of Van Doren (who died earlier this month at age 93) at all. There may be many who, if they know of the matter at all, will think of it simply as the subject matter of the 1994 film “Quiz Show.”

Which reduced the life of Van Doren (who eventually went on to write for Encyclopaedia Britannica) to a character played by actor Ralph Fiennes. Could the Holzhauer tale someday become a cinematic tale worthy of a film?

Or at the very least a movie production that people watching Netflix will get to see? That is, unless Holzhauer’s lucky streak comes to an end in upcoming days – and James reverts back to being another anonymous nobody scouring the streets of Las Vegas.

  -30-

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Burke’s wife cleared, but Preckwinkle still reeks of stink from alderman cash

I’m sure there are those people who are going to be grossly offended that a Burke has been cleared of wrongdoing. Or at least legal types are conceding they can’t prove anything against her.
ANNE BURKE: Judge cleared of wrongdoing

Yes, her! For the Burke I’m referring to is Anne, as in the spouse of Alderman Edward M. Burke who, in her own right, serves as a justice on the Supreme Court of Illinois.

ILLINOIS JUDICIAL INQUIRY Board has been conducting its own investigation into a fundraiser that the Burkes held in their Chicago home for the now-failed mayoral aspirations of candidate Toni Preckwinkle.

The inquiry board was trying to determine if Anne Burke herself did anything inappropriate – as in engaging in conduct unbecoming a judge of any type. Particularly one sitting on the state’s highest court.

But it would seem she’s off the hook, so to speak. Nothing that could be deemed inappropriate. Except in the mini-minds of those individuals who want to believe that everything a government official does is wrong – and worthy of prosecution.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported this week about a letter saying the inquiry board had reviewed the matter and “determined to close” it. The letter gives no explanation of why the investigation is over – or any details of what it uncovered.

THE INQUIRY BOARD cited confidentiality rules as a reason for refusing to publicly disclose what it learned. Although Jeffery Orr, the son of now-former county Clerk David Orr and the man who filed the original complaint that got the inquiry board thrown into the mix, said he was “disappointed” by the ruling.

He seems more interested in getting nit-picking details that would further enhance the image of all things related to Burke as being inherently corrupt. Or as he told the Sun-Times, “Part of the problem in Illinois and Chicago is the secretive way of doing things.”

For what it’s worth, Anne Burke had no comment on the matter, although this decision comes close to the time that federal prosecutors let it be known that they want more time to investigate Alderman Ed himself.
PRECKWINKLE: Still being blamed for Burke

He will continue to have legal types probing his affairs – searching for evidence that he did something that can be construed as illegal. Although it seems anybody who was hoping for the Burkes to be taken down as a couple will be disappointed.

ALTHOUGH THE BURKE issue has already managed to inflict its harm on some political people – all the people disappointed that they couldn’t beat Ed Burke in his re-election bid back in February wound up taking it out on Preckwinkle.

Which accounts for that roughly three-quarters of the vote in the April runoff election going to Lori Lightfoot. Who herself insisted on continuing to smack Preckwinkle about for having accepted campaign contributions from people who were motivated by Ed Burke to do so!

Preckwinkle is insisting she has tried giving the money away to other sources, although Lightfoot claims Preckwinkle has kept the funds – which could wind up bolstering her efforts to remain politically relevant while serving as Cook County Board president AND as county Democratic chairwoman.

No doubt Lightfoot would rather see Preckwinkle wither away into irrelevance – and certainly not become a competing political figure. After all, with the way the electorate can be politically fickle, it could work out that many voters would come to the conclusion they voted for the wrong person back on April 2.

FOR WHAT IT’S worth, the Chicago Tribune contends that some $72,000 of the roughly $116,000 that Preckwinkle got from a Burke household fundraiser has yet to be returned.
ED BURKE: Guilt by association?

Not that Burke would be getting any money back. The usual way for political people to try to erase negative connotations to any contributions they receive is to give it to some charitable cause.

Which really doesn’t erase the fact that the money was received by the candidate in the first place. It just allows for a lot of self-righteous rhetoric by candidates who’d rather not be tagged for the sins committed by their political supporters.

Which is what Lightfoot most definitely wants to continue to happen in the case of Preckwinkle and Burke. If we can’t get the two Burkes put away somewhere, I’m sure those wanting to operate on ideological grounds will be more than glad to see Toni pay, in place of Anne Burke.

  -30-

Friday, April 26, 2019

Another month to go before we get a clue as to what will be Burke’s fate

I have to admit to anxiously waiting for next week Friday, the date that was a legal deadline for federal prosecutors to, as the crude euphemism goes, poop or get off the pot, with regards to Edward M. Burke.
BURKE: Feds get 35 more days to investigate

We learned back in January that a criminal complaint was filed against the long-time (seriously, a half-century) alderman – claiming that his conduct in dealing with the operators of a Burger King franchise in the Gage Park neighborhood bordered on criminal.

REMEMBER, THOSE OPERATORS were told about the types of campaign contributions they ought to make to certain political people if they wanted Burke, in his aldermanic role, to sign off on the permits required for the renovations the operators desired to make.

Admittedly, it should be noted that these operators were not from Chicago. They came from Texas, and it seems they’re used to being able to push political people around. Rather than having political people tell them what needs to be done.

But anyway, they turned to federal prosecutors, who then proceeded with the criminal complaint – all the while having their investigation continue. Theoretically, May 3 was the deadline by which prosecutors had to be ready to hand down an indictment – or else see their case get tossed out.

But on Thursday, federal prosecutor asked for more time. The request they made seeks 35 more days, which would make the new deadline June 7.

WHICH MEANS WE’LL have to wait another month to figure out what could become of Burke. Will the feds come up with a more significant case against Burke – one that could be much more significant in terms of legal consequences for the alderman?

Will they have to maintain the same legal case they’ve put forth thus far – that Burke was shaking down the operators of the Burger King franchise in his home neighborhood?

Or is it possible that all of this legal mess could wind up withering away into a big nothingness.
Couldn't beat Burke, so Toni taken down

Almost as though Burke would become the political equivalent of one-time Chicago mob boss Tony Accardo – who upon his death in 1992 had it noted prominently that despite the decades of allegations of criminal activity he was involved in, he himself never spent a day in prison.

BUT BACK TO Eddie Burke – who in some ways is the intriguing part of the most recent election cycle in Chicago.

Despite the people who want to think that “Reform!!!” has come to Chicago in the form of Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot and those new aldermen who want to adopt the Democratic Socialist label to identify themselves, the reality that some things remain the same is evidenced by Burke.

Who managed to overcome an attempt by Latino political activists to dump Burke from his aldermanic seat. He managed to win re-election with relative ease – not having to endure a run-off election of any sort.

Seriously, 2019 was the election cycle in which people interested in change had to settle for costing the re-election of long-time good-government type Toni Preckwinkle. Meanwhile, Burke remains in his aldermanic post – albeit without the Finance chairmanship that gave him much of his political power.

WHICH MEANS THOSE people who want to see Eddie Burke dumped from office, but couldn’t beat him at the polling place, are now counting on federal investigators to come up with the goods that could create a politically-humiliating trial – along with the possibility of Burke being sent to prison while in his mid-to-late 70s.

But now, we’re going to have to wait another month or so to see what kind of goods the G-men have come up with on Burke – if anything at all.

Burke himself is playing the cocky role, in that his attorneys aren’t doing anything to resist the delay – which technically he’d have a right to do. What’s another month if it means the case comes to an end.
It almost makes me think that if they were to make an Ed Burke movie, actor Robert DiNiro would portray him – similar to that scene where he played Al Capone in the 1987 film “The Untouchables” telling the feds, “You got nothing, you punk!”

  -30-

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Election Day is passed, yet mudslinging lingers on like an unflushed toilet

It was the issue of the November 2018 election cycle for governor – J.B. Pritzker had had toilets removed from a mansion he owned so that, technically, it was no longer a home anyone could legitimately reside in.
PRITZKER: Tax question won't wither away

That move enabled Pritzker to appeal his property taxes and get refunds of some of the money he paid for 2012, 2013 and 2014 – and also to make himself eligible for property tax breaks on what he had to pay in 2015 and 2016.

BUT AN INSPECTOR General’s report for Cook County contends those reductions were based on fraudulent affidavits filed on Pritzker’s behalf.

All of which came up during the election cycle, but to no avail. There weren’t enough voters inclined to take this charge seriously who were willing to vote for now-former Gov. Bruce Rauner. Pritzker won!

But it also seems that back around October of last year, the Republican members of Illinois’ congressional caucus (seven then, five now) wrote a letter to the U.S. Attorney’s office for northern Illinois insisting that the whole thing was a “scheme to defraud” Cook County taxpayers.

They claimed in their letter that charges of fraud and perjury would be warranted. Which may well be their opinion.

BUT NOW, IT seems that attitude just won’t wither away. For WBEZ-FM reported Wednesday that the U.S. Attorney’s office is confirming that they’re doing an investigation of the matter.
Rauner unable to make issue stick, … 

Which is news because federal investigators hadn’t said anything until now about this issue, and they are admitting that their investigation is still active. Although it also seems this is an investigation that isn’t about to result in criminal charges any time soon.

Although I don’t doubt that the conservative ideologues who were eager to spew this story last year are more than satisfied. Because this legal action means they can keep the allegations alive!

Heck, Illinois Republican Chairman Timothy Schneider issued the statement claiming that Pritzker has set a record, of sorts. He’s only been governor for 101 days, and he’s already got a bullseye on his back – courtesy of the U.S. attorney’s office.
… can federal officials find something new?

OF COURSE, THEY also made sure to distribute photographs they have of Pritzker with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich – trying to create the impression amongst the most politically-gullible that the current governor is just like the guy currently in the middle of serving a 14-year prison sentence out in Colorado.

Although these are allegations that I can’t help but think reek of partisanship.

For even in that letter from last autumn (which the Capitol Fax newsletter published again on Wednesday), the members of Congress admit they were reacting to newspaper accounts from last year.

The only people willing to say this is a “scheme to defraud” are the Republican partisans themselves. Almost as though they crafted the charge, and are now trying to claim that someone is upholding it – even though nothing as of yet has been proven,

MAYBE IF ONE is inclined to believe that not being a Republican amounts to an act of criminality in and of itself, then this has legitimacy. Otherwise, it’s going to take a lot more in the way of evidence to prove something illegal occurred here.
SCHNEIDER: 101 Days, he points out to us

Personally, I’m surprised to see these Republican-types trying to claim that Pritzker is doing something wrong for trying to take advantage of financial maneuvers to give themselves tax breaks. Isn’t that usually the Republican ideal – trying to reduce one’s tax debt by as much as they can?

Maybe the reason that President Donald Trump is fighting the idea of his own tax returns being disclosed is that we’d learn of so many measures on his behalf that anything Pritzker may or may not have done will turn out to be chump change, by comparison.

But the bottom line seems to be that the issue of Election ’18 about toilets is going to continue to linger on. Almost as though somebody deposited a load in the toilet bowl – and is refusing to flush. How rude!

  -30-

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Will Fighting Irish kicker of some three decades ago have a chance at Congress?

It shouldn’t be perceived as a surprise that Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., is going to face some serious competition if she wants to keep her Congressional post beyond 2020.
The political establishment is going to be determined to think that a young, black woman managed to win a DuPage County-based House seat only as a total fluke – and that it will be time for the natural order of things to be restored by dumping her from office.

IT’S NOT EVEN odd that one of the potential Republican replacements for Underwood has plans to significantly play up the fact that he has athletic accomplishments.

For people who think that politics is dull or boring or confusing or irrelevant to their lives, it may well be easier to comprehend old football footage than any attempt to get at the issues confronting our society.

So the political aspirations of Ted Gradel shouldn’t be dismissed out-of-hand.

Gradel played big-time college football (Notre Dame, class of 1987), before going into business and establishing a life for himself out around the Land of DuPage. Now, the Naperville resident thinks it’s time for him to serve in Congress.

WHICH MAKES HIM one of three people saying they will run for the Republication nomination to challenge Underwood in next year’s election cycle – Jim Oberweis and Allen Skillicorn are the other two, as of now.

But Gradel, who admits he has no political experience and thinks we ought to view that as a “positive in my book,” has, according to the Capitol Fax newsletter, hired a political consultant and has already put together his first campaign at touting himself.
UNDERWOOD: Can she win re-election?

That ad features one-time Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz touting just how wonderful a football place kicker Gradel was – and is loaded with footage of Gradel playing for the Fighting Irish.

In short, a perfect spot to appeal to people who otherwise wouldn’t want to bother thinking about politics.

THERE’S JUST ONE thing that could wind up hurting Gradel – the fact that by so strongly reminding people he played football for Notre Dame, he’s going to stir up the resentment and hostility of all those sports fans who like to denigrate Notre Dame every single chance they get.
HARRIS: Former gridder now in politics

The ones who think that anything that was ever special about Notre Dame football was long ago in the past, and they seem to get upset any time anyone includes the Fighting Irish amongst the ranks of the best college football programs in the country.

Will Underwood’s re-election bid wind up gaining the support of every single person who feels compelled to trash-talk Notre Dame every chance they get?

For that matter, Gradel includes footage of a field goal he kicked against Alabama all those decades ago. Will all the fans of the Crimson Tide (a school that has made increasing efforts to recruit for students throughout the Midwest – including Illinois) become instantly appalled with the Gradel campaign so as to disregard it from its opening moments?

IT MAY SOUND irrational, bordering in crazy and downright nuts!
FLANAGAN: Is he Underwood equivalent?

But then again, it wouldn’t be the stupidest thing that ever happened on the political scene – particularly if someone is being asked to base the casting of a ballot on the fact that someone once played a sport at a highly-competitive level.

So it will be interesting to see if Gradel can manage to beat out a pair of business executives who, at the very least, have gained a little bit of political experience serving in the Illinois General Assembly.

Or more importantly, was Underwood’s 2018 electoral victory over incumbent Congressman Randy Hultgren just a political fluke – something along the lines of back in 1994 when Michael P. Flanagan managed to win a Congressional post for two years as a Republican from Chicago!

  -30-

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

EXTRA: Voters get government level they deserve, particularly on a coin flip

I almost feel sorry for Beth Zupon, who went through the ordeal of a political campaign to run for a village trustee post in suburban Sauk Village – only to learn from the “tails” side of a coin on Tuesday that she’s a loser.
Eagle side settled tie in suburban Sauk Village

In the municipal elections held earlier this month, Zupon and Gary Bell both managed to get 288 votes cast for them for an open seat on the Board of Trustees.

WHICH LED TO Cook County clerk’s officials on Tuesday settling the matter of an electoral winner in that ultimate example of randomness – they flipped a coin.

Which led to Bell calling “tails,” and prevailing. Zupon – who actually had served the past couple of years filling a trustee vacancy – is out! It must stink to go through the legal process of trying to win an election, then falling oh so short!

But it’s not like residents of Sauk Village (the far southeasternmost corner of Cook County – bordering against Indiana and rural Will County, Ill.) will have much to complain about.

Because the real story of this election cycle was the voter turnout. It stunk!

FOR THOSE PEOPLE appalled by the fact that only one-third of registered voters in Chicago bothered to turn out to cast ballots for the mayoral run-off election held April 2, Sauk Village was worse.
Isolated and uninterested?

Only 9 percent felt compelled to vote on Election Day. Meaning a whole lot of people couldn’t be bothered to cast ballots. So seeing that their municipal government’s leadership be resolved by a coin flip?

It really is evidence of the old axiom that people tend to get the quality of government they deserve.

In their voter apathy, Sauk Village showed itself uninterested in taking the time to pick credible officials for higher office. Thereby leaving the decision of a village trustee up to the Eagle side of a silver dollar rather than that of Lady Liberty.

  -30-

Buttigieg the presidential “flavor of the month,” how long will that last?

Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., seems to be the flavor of the month when it comes to the presidential election cycle we’ll go through next year.

BUTTIGIEG: Really a 'new' Obama?
As in people interested in picking a Democrat from amongst the dozen or so currently in the running to challenge Republican Donald Trump are focusing their attention on Buttigieg – who seems to be trying to build up the notion that he’d be the equivalent of another “Barack Obama,” somebody whose election would give them a “first” to support.

BUT WHILE BARACK was the first black man who managed to win the presidency, Buttigieg would be the first openly gay man (and a married one, to boot) who could be elected president.

For all those people appalled at the notion that Trump won the presidency back in 2016 on a campaign of undoing all the “firsts” that Obama had brought our society, I’m sure that picking Pete as president would seem all the more appropriate.

His election could be perceived as undoing all the harm that this Age of Trump has brought upon us.

We’re going to be getting a lot of Obama/Buttigieg comparisons in coming months. The Chicago Sun-Times pointed out this week that several of the people who helped raise money to get Obama started at the beginning are now on the Buttigieg train.

Does 'Mayor Pete" replace Obama, … 
IN FACT, ONE of them on Tuesday is staging a fundraising event for Buttigieg. John Atkinson told the newspaper he’s now fully committed to “Mayor Pete.” Part of the reason is that he figures Buttigieg is from Indiana – one of the Midwestern states solidly in the Trump camp.

Could Buttigieg be a key in Democrats taking Indiana’s 11 Electoral College votes away from Trump – along with those surrounding Great Lakes states such as Michigan and Wisconsin? That could well be the key to a Democratic presidential victory in 2020!

The talk has been offered up that both Obama and Buttigieg are Midwesterners – Great Lakes-types who aren’t tied to the East or West coasts. Both also have their ties to Harvard University.

Superficial ties, they may well be. But compared to many of the reasons offered up by Trump’s backers for supporting him (mostly because they like the way he offends the sensibilities of the majority who voted against him, but weren’t enough to win the Electoral College), they come off as all-too sensible!

… or just a better option to Trump?
I’M WONDERING HOW soon it will be before the reports start getting stirred up about how Buttigieg, in his first few weeks as mayor of South Bend, fired Police Chief Darryl Boykins.

He was the first black police chief, and there are those who think it was because Buttigieg chose to side with white cops who had their own racial hang-ups.

The New York Times already has reported on the issue. But how long until the news organizations that put the ideological spin on their reports (under the guise that it’s everybody else that reports “fake” news) get ahold of this – wanting to let us know that Buttigieg is some form of hypocrite unworthy of our support?

With the conservative ideologues desperately hoping they can stick a knife in the back of the Buttigieg supporters who’d be inclined to think he’s another Barack Obama.

OF COURSE, WE’RE nearly a year away from the primaries where people actually cast ballots for who should get the presidential nominations (it’s March 17, 2020, in Illinois). Buttigieg possibly could have long faded-away as a credible candidate by then.

SANDERS: Will he get Dem nomination?
Particularly if those people who seriously want Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont to be more successful this time around (I’m not amongst them) than he was in the 2016 Democratic primary manage to succeed.

If anything, what people need to be doing is looking to the future – finding someone with a vision to advance our society forward, rather than reverting to the past.

Perhaps not someone offering up visions of being an Obama successor. And certainly not somebody determined to keep wearing that ridiculous cap about “Make America Great Again” by reverting to a vision of our society that offers to exclude so many of us.

  -30-

Monday, April 22, 2019

We need to make up our collective minds about Trump impeachment

As much as I’d thoroughly enjoy the concept of Donald Trump going into the history books as the first president to actually be removed from office through the concept of impeachment, I’m realistic enough to know that thinking about it is really nothing more than a complete waste of time.
Not likely to get past coloring book stage

The release of a redacted version of the Mueller report about the Russian government interfering with the 2016 election process to benefit Trump may well have come up with nothing that would warrant a straightforward criminal charge against The Donald himself.

BUT IT REALLY is a complete lie to say that Trump was vindicated in any way by the report. There are enough details to make Trump look like a buffoon in ways that some members of Congress would like to use as justification to proceed with impeachment.

Which is a concept I don’t think much of because I think the ultimate failure would be twisted by Trump as further evidence that he was “vindicated” – which would be a total lie.

Yes, the Democratic majority that controls the House of Representatives does have enough people that they could go ahead and approve articles of impeachment. They could say they “impeached” Trump the same way that Republican ideologues always like to say they “impeached” former President Bill Clinton.
Tickets bearing admission to Johnson, Clinton … 

But to actually remove a sitting president requires a trial before the full Senate – with the Supreme Court chief justice presiding. It would require a supermajority of support to convict and remove him from office.

THERE’S NO WAY the current Republican-leaning Senate would even come close to doing any such thing.

Republican partisans wound up making fools of themselves back in 1998 when they persisted in trying to remove Clinton from office – unable to create a bipartisan movement that actually believed there were legitimate grounds the president needed to be ejected from office.

Do we really need to see the same happen, in reverse?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has said she’s not inclined to support actions toward impeachment because she agrees it would be a waste of time. Republican ideologues are determined to support Trump no matter how clueless and ignorant he gets.
… impeachment proceedings. Will Trump be next?
BUT THEN THERE is the view of House Intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., who told the ABC “This Week” program, “Impeachment is likely to be unsuccessful. It may be that we undertake an impeachment nonetheless.”

So maybe it seems some people are determined to play out the same ignorance of some two decades ago – only to see the incumbent remain in office.

There is one point we ought to keep in mind in coming months as some people continue to tout the “I” word as the only fate that Trump ought to have to endure.

“Impeachment” is a political process – NOT a legal one. Which is very well why it may be possible that Trump didn’t do anything in conjunction with Russian government officials that would be worthy of criminal prosecution, but where his behavior would have crossed over so many ethical lines of appropriateness that officials could talk seriously about removing him from office.

NONETHELESS, I BELIEVE that people interested in removing Trump from the White House ought to focus their efforts and attention on the 2020 election cycle – come up with a candidate who can put together a credible vision for our society that would bring this Age of Trump to an end!
Not as 'final' an act as some might think

Something that, as of now, may not happen – as we seem to have so many politicos determined to think that anybody can beat up on Trump without having a proper vision for our society that they can offer. Which is a formula for failure.

As in we could well get the “four more years” that Republican ideologues will fantasize about and chant for often in coming months by people determined to vote for Trump solely because he offends the vast majority of us.

And all the talk about “impeachment” that some people seem determined to engage in now will turn out to be a complete waste of time!

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Saturday, April 20, 2019

Do racial slurs, profanity have place in baseball? How about a brushback pitch?

The outburst that occurred Wednesday between the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals wound up having consequences that has some people convinced baseball has gone too far.
Tim Anderson, the White Sox shortstop who actually got hit by a pitch, wound up getting a one-game suspension – one that he voluntarily accepted by sitting out Friday’s ballgame at Detroit against the Tigers.

SOME ARE SAYING it is absurd that the guy who got hit (in the buttocks) by a pitched ball is somehow being penalized. Major League Baseball officials justified the action Friday, saying it was because Anderson responded to being hit by using inappropriate language.

Based on various news reports, it seems that in addition to the brawling that occurred between the White Sox and Royals (that we all saw on television), Anderson shouted out to Royals pitcher Brad Keller – telling him that he was a …

Well, let’s just say that Anderson managed to combine an insult, a profanity and a racial slur in saying just what he thought of Keller for hitting him deliberately with a pitch.

What makes the incident particularly odd is that Anderson is a black man, while Keller is a white guy. Anderson is alleged to have used one of the most elemental racial slurs meant to offend the sensibilities of black people and turned it around by using it on a white guy!
Both Anderson and Keller (below) … 

WHICH I’M SURE has many people confused. Although it seems that baseball officials are taking the simplistic attitude that n----- (the Chicago Defender stylebook way of downplaying use of THAT word) is always inappropriate – regardless of the circumstances.

Now for what it’s worth, Keller also got a suspension (five ballgames, but because pitchers traditionally only pitch every few days on a set rotation, it means Keller will lose one ballgame).

Some may argue that punishing both guys with a one-game suspension seems fair. While others are trying to claim Anderson is being singled-out for abuse.

Although personally, I think Anderson behaved like a “dink” on Wednesday, and some of his conduct since then has offended my own baseball sensibilities. So I can’t get too upset over him losing a single ballgame. He’ll be back Saturday.
… lost 1 ballgame as discipline for incident

THIS INCIDENT ACTUALLY became significant because of the circumstances. Anderson managed to hit a home run that briefly gave the White Sox a lead, and he reacted by doing what some are calling a bat flip (although White Sox broadcasters described the moment as him throwing his bat aside “like a javelin”).

Two innings later, Anderson came to bat again, and wound up having a Keller pitch bounce off his behind – which caused the Anderson outburst that led to both ballclubs charging the field and throwing punches.

For the record, White Sox manager Rick Renteria and Royals coach Dale Sveum (both former Chicago Cubs managers, for what it’s worth) also got suspensions, with Renteria also sitting out Friday night’s game.

Anderson has consistently claimed to be the victim in all of this, and claims there is nothing wrong with the way he reacted to hitting a home run. “Our fans pay to see a show,” is how he tries to justify it.

AS THOUGH CLOWNISH antics are what some people think baseball ought to become about. Certainly not something I need to see a lot of when I pay the ridiculous prices that get charged for tickets these days to a ball game.
Although what really bothers me about such logic is the notion that batters can engage in egotistical behavior, but pitchers who might try to do similar things are somehow acting inappropriately.

Maybe it’s because I’m old enough to have baseball memories of pitchers such as Bob Gibson or Juan Marichal – both ballplayers who used the threat of intimidation or retaliation in order to try to keep a batter off-balance enough. Just as batters are always looking for an advantage to throw a pitcher off his rhythm.

So if this issue wasn’t already absurd enough over the issue of when a brushback pitch is appropriate, now we have to determine just when a white guy can be dissed as a “n-----?” Groan!!!

  -30-

Friday, April 19, 2019

Up 4 percent? Or down ¼ of 1 percent? Both are true of Chicago these days

Call it a battle of dueling perceptions, if you will.
Fewer residents, but many more visitors?!?
For it was all over just about every publication Thursday that Chicago’s overall population is, once again, on the decline

TO BE EXACT, Chicago’s population dropped by 0.23 percent. In fact, just about every place in Illinois was on the decline, with the percentages being larger in other places. Which means that the losses hurt those places more, since Chicago has so many more residents it can spare.
Credit, or blame, for Rahm?

So how exactly does Chicago choose to combat this factoid – which can be used as ammunition by those people of ideological leanings that make them want to lambast the city for everything they see as wrong with the state of Illinois as a whole?

We got city officials to release their official study of tourism to Chicago.

Which officials said was at a record-high of 57.7 million people during 2018.
Made front page of World's Greatest Newspaper

ALL OF WHOM stayed at hotels, ate at restaurants and shopped at stores buying all kinds of the tacky trinkets most of us wouldn’t even think of buying. Too touristy!

The increase continues a trend dating back to 2013, which means this is something that soon-to-be former Mayor Rahm Emanuel will boast about when discussing the legacy of his eight years as the head of Chicago city government.

Which might make him like the almighty Wizard of Oz, telling us to “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” every time someone brings up the fact that Chicago’s population has declined ever so slightly every year since 2015.
Placing us even closer to that day likely to come some time by 2030 when Houston manages to surpass Chicago as the nation’s third largest city – we’re Number Four will be the chant we’ll have to take up. Even though as far as anyone who lives here already knows, our city is really Number One. Something that all those millions of tourists have figured out for themselves.

  -30-