Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Is college getting too costly to expect anybody to afford the tuition bills?

It seems there’s a new “scam” involving ways that parents make their children out to be indigent so that they can qualify for extensive financial aid to help pay for a college education.
Their reporting may motivate the feds to act

Which some view as a problem in that there is only a limited amount of money available with which to help lower-income families in need, and these students of wealthier families theoretically are taking funds away from others who might also need the money in order to pay for college.

ALTHOUGH THE REALITY may well be that college has become so costly that just about everybody thinks they’re amongst the financially needy who need help in covering the cost of tuition bills.

I suspect many of the families whose activity has been uncovered by the ProPublica Illinois non-profit news organization think they’ve done nothing illegal, and probably think they’re the ones who are being harassed for trying to ensure that their children will have the opportunity to obtain a higher education – thereby giving them a chance to succeed in life.

They may also think that it’s not their fault they figured out a way to qualify for more financial assistance.

What the news organization, whose reports are being picked up by newspapers everywhere, has found is that there are instances where parents deliberately turning their teenaged children over to legal guardians.

WHO THEN ACKNOWLEDGE they’re doing nothing to provide for the 16- to 17-year-olds financial well-being. Which means that when the students fill out forms seeking financial aid, they can claim to be indigent and in need of help in terms of covering the entire cost of tuition.

Putting them in a much higher-priority financial aid status than they’d be able to claim if they had to admit their parents were still supporting their living expenses. Which isn’t technically illegal – although University of Illinois admissions officials called a “scam” because it alters the perception of who is indigent and who is not.

But I have to admit to sympathizing with anyone who’s trying to deal with the cost of a college education in today’s day and age. Personally, I don’t know how I’d be able to afford the cost if I were having to deal with it now.
Is this the real problem?
Heck, it seemed excessive some three decades ago when I actually was in college.

SO IT WILL be intriguing to see just how this issue plays out in the arena of public perception. Will these parents become some sort of equivalent to the actress Lori Loughlin – who now faces criminal charges for allegedly paying bribes to college admissions officials in order to get her children into the University of Southern California?

With several wealthier parents facing such charges, but prosecutors seeming to focus their attention on Loughlin because of her so-called celebrity status.

Or will this become a case of college costs having grown far out of control – to the point where perhaps we need a serious review of just what an education ought to cost and what it is worth.

Because maybe people wouldn’t be eager to “give up” their children (theoretically, that is) if tuition hadn’t skyrocketed so high that it’s a wonder anybody seriously thinks anyone is capable of paying a tuition bill without some financial help.

WHICH, OF COURSE, then gets us into a conversation into just what kind of help ought to be available. With some people touting the ideologue argument that college isn’t for everybody – and that some ought to set lower goals in life.
LOUGHLIN: No longer into noble causes

That wouldn’t be such a cheesy argument to make EXCEPT that it reeks too much of certain people arguing that the purpose of colleges ought to be to weed out certain elements of our society from trying to advance their lots in life through higher education.

An attitude that we need to advance beyond for the good of our society.

Unless you’re of the sort who thinks there’s some truth to the old gag about people who can’t get their way through college by saying, “Somebody’s got to deliver pizzas.”

  -30-

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Oh, be quiet, J.B. You're confusing us!

All the more reason we ought to hear less chatter from officials about presidential impeachment who aren’t directly involved in the process. Because it all too often seems like they don’t have any comprehension what it is they’re talking about.

Everybody has opinion on Trump outcome, … 
Take the case of Illinois’ governor, J.B. Pritzker, who back in April engaged in rhetoric that tried to make it seem as though he has long been a supporter of those people who want Donald Trump removed from office by force of Congress.

BUT THEN LAST week, the Politico newspaper published a Pritzker interview in which it seemed our governor was not quiet as hard-line on the impeachment issue. Perhaps he’d rather see Trump lose the 2020 general election and be removed from office that way.

But now, the Capitol Fax newsletter points out that J.B. may be backing away from that stance. Or as the Springfield-based newsletter phrased it, he’s “backing away from backing away.”

As the newsletter quotes the governor, “I think he should be out of office as soon as humanly possible. The only question to me is, is that gonna happen with an impeachment process or is that gonna happen with an election?”

Huh?!?

IT SEEMS TO me that Pritzker wants to be in the camp of people who don’t think much of Donald Trump (which according to the most-recent Gallup Organization poll includes 51 percent of the country). But the ranks of people who think it a national embarrassment that The Donald was ever permitted to occupy the Oval Office are split on this issue.

Pritzker not being able to take a definitive stance on presidential impeachment does nothing more than clutter the public discourse with more vague pronouncements that don’t do a thing to make the issue more clear to the public.

Personally, I’m amongst the ranks of people who’d see the impeachment process as a complete waste of time – largely because even if the House of Representatives with its Democratic Party majority votes to impeach the man, he’d still have to go on trial before the Senate.

… but does Pritzker know enough for it to matter?
Which has a Republican Party majority loaded with officials who are determined to protect the presidential reputation no matter how stupid he gets.

I REALIZE THAT the pro-impeachment types argue they’re making a political statement and that they want to be on the record as wanting to Dump Trump from the White House. They talk of putting the Senate on the record as being for The Donald, because they want to believe it will hold the GOP up to shame and ridicule.

Which, if you want to be honest, is nonsense. Largely because I’m convinced the Trump political backers have no shame. They’re also more than willing to spin the process into a claim that Trump has been vindicated – a word they’d prefer to use over “acquitted.”

Which they’ll hate to use because it would imply there was legitimacy to the charges against Trump to begin with.

Pushing for impeachment could do little more than create a lengthy process that ends with Trump remaining in office – and further motivating the ideologues into thinking they’re morally superior for backing Trump to begin with.

IF ANYTHING, IT’S going to take an outright electoral defeat to actually get Trump out of office (although it wouldn’t shock me if Trump backers were to think in terms of a coup ‘d etat to remain in office beyond January 2021, regardless of what the people say).

Yes, these are irrational political times, and we have to think in such terms, which are appalling but honest and truthful.

So Pritzker might have been right when he told Politico that there might not be enough time to work our way through the impeachment process and actually remove Trump from office. It doesn’t help matters if his stance keeps switching on the issue.

Could Trump return just like Smith did?
But if we look at Illinois political history, there’s an even more-embarrassing scenario – take the case of former state Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago, who was expelled from the Illinois House in August 2012 following a criminal indictment. Only to get re-elected in the November election that year. Don’t put it past the Trump-ites to vote for the man out of spite to any impeachment attempt!

  -30-

Monday, July 29, 2019

So is this now the Denny Hastert law?

J. Dennis Hastert of Yorkville used to be thought of as one of the few Illinoisans to ever rise all the way to the rank of Speaker of the House of Representatives, and is actually the longest-serving Republican to ever hold that all-powerful political position.
HASTERT: Is this now lis legacy?

One that actually puts its occupant in line for the U.S. presidency in the event of an emergency that takes down both the president and vice-president.

BUT JUST AS Dan Rostenkowski fell from grace and the notion he was the all-powerful chairman of House ways and means, Hastert also took a plunge in reputation.

To the point where he probably has experienced an even bigger fall. Which is illustrated by the new law in Illinois approved by Gov. J.B. Pritzker that relates to statute of limitations for people to be charged with sex crimes.

It now seems that aggravated criminal sexual assault and abuse are now the equivalent of murder – as in there’s no amount of time that can pass without someone running the risk of criminal prosecution.

Come Jan. 1, anybody facing criminal suspicion can face prosecution if state’s attorney officials somewhere are capable of putting together a criminal case. Whereas it used to be that prosecutors had 10 years to put together a criminal case – AND the case had to be reported to police within three years of the alleged incident’s occurrence.

THIS LAW WAS enacted because of political people who wanted to appear to be doing something significant in response to the predicament caused by Hastert – who once was a high school teacher and wrestling coach who later in life had some of his former students claim he took liberties with them of a sexual nature.

The incidents supposedly occurred back when Hastert was their teacher and coach in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but it wasn’t until the mid-2010s that the allegations became public.

Which meant that even if sufficient evidence could be procured, so much time had passed that Hastert was never in danger of criminal prosecution.
PRITZKER: Signed the measure into law

But it was because of actions that Hastert took to try to keep people from talking about things that eventually resulted in J. Dennis being found guilty of something criminal – which resulted in him getting a prison term (he’s been free for a couple of years now) and becoming the highest-ranking government official to ever have to serve time for a crime. While also proving the notion that it's the cover-up, and not the crime itself, that gets you in the most trouble!

WHICH HAVE SOME people convinced that something wasn’t fair. Which also is what motivated legislators of both Republican and Democratic partisan leanings to sponsor the bill that passed overwhelmingly this spring before getting Pritzker’s approval last week.

So now, theoretically, we could have prosecuted Hastert for the crime, instead of the technicality. Although I have to admit to being a bit wary of such incidents.

Usually because the passage of so much time means the actual evidence becomes weaker, more heresay, to be honest.

To be honest, the strongest criminal cases are the ones whose defendants literally are caught in the act right at the time of their alleged criminal occurrence.

WHICH IS THE point of statute of limitations laws – acknowledging that there are some instances where it is not practical to punish someone for something that happened many years ago and where people might have been too ashamed to talk about it at the time of occurrence.

Although some see that as a good thing (it means sexual predators cannot escape their actions ever) and a bad (people may wind up getting prosecuted and convicted based on testimony from people whose memories may not be quite as accurate as they once were due to the passage of time).

Not that I don’t doubt some people aren’t going to let that possibility concern them – they may want more prosecution, regardless of how solid the charges may be.

And Hastert’s contribution to our public discourse may well be something he did long before his 8 years as House Speaker (and 20 years in Congress overall) back in the days when he was a nobody to the masses – and “coach” to a select few individuals living out in what some of us would have dismissed as “the boonies” of the Chicago area.

  -30-

Saturday, July 27, 2019

EXTRA: Just a thought

As seen in suburban Homewood. Photo by Gregory Tejeda

Dawson to find himself in middle of Hall of Fame '20 fiasco over Jeter?

The world of professional baseball just had its Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for this year, yet it seems that a prominent Chicago ballplayer will find himself in the middle of a stink over next year’s rituals.

Forner MVP in middle of Jeter affair
At stake is that the Hall of Fame usually invites all of its living members to attend the ceremonies each year. That would include Andre Dawson, who was inducted back in 2010 for his seasons of excellence with the Montreal Expos, but whom some fans prefer to remember for his stint with the Chicago Cubs.

WINNING A MOST Valuable Player award while wearing Cubbie blue can have that effect.

But now it seems that Dawson, along with one-time Cincinnati Reds star Tony Perez, are saying they may not bother to show up for the 2020 induction ceremonies.

Although we won’t know until year’s end, there are those who are convinced that next year’s Hall of Fame ritual will wind up being a celebration of New York Yankees star Derek Jeter.

Who as it turns out went from being the toast of Manhattan to being an owner of the Miami Marlins. He’s now baseball management. His own team, and in a city of tropical glory.


IT’S JUST A shame, in a sense, that the Marlins haven’t played worth squat during the years he has been in charge.
Still bitter about losing his job?

But as it turns out, back when Jeter became a part of Marlins’ management, both Dawson and Perez had been working for the Marlins as coaches. Both were amongst the people who lost their jobs because Jeter wanted to dump the ‘old’ way of doing things – and perhaps add an overtone of New York Yankee-style glamour.

For what it’s worth, both were later re-offered their jobs, but at significant pay cuts. Along with demands that the two stay out of the team clubhouses and not show up in uniform during spring training camp.


Which must seem a significant blow to the athletic egos of the two, both of whom seem to still hold a grudge. Dawson says he probably won’t attend because he, “doesn’t have a sense or feeling like I want to sit on that stage to hear what (Jeter) has to say.”

PEREZ IS MORE blunt, saying he doesn’t want to be a part of any day that celebrates the big star of the New York Yankees’ dominance over baseball in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Yankees glamour diminishing

“It wasn’t nice, what happened at the end,” he said.

So will Dawson or Perez be missed if they turn out to be no-shows? Maybe not! Chances are good that the baseball fan-types who will make the trek to Cooperstown, N.Y., because of Jeter aren’t going to notice who doesn’t show!

It will be a celebration of their guy, and nothing else. And as for the out-of-town (as in non-New York) fans, they’ll probably just think of it as another moment of dissing the Yankees – which is something they’re used to doing every moment they get.

IT MEANS WE won’t have to hear again the stories of that 1987 MVP award that Dawson won even though he was playing for a Cubs’ ballclub that won only 76 games and finished dead last in their division.

Will Jeter top Jordan as management failure
It also shows just how much of a blow that the Jeter image has taken with the fact that his Marlins’ teams, which in 2018 finished with a 63-98 won/loss record – which is actually even more pathetic than that Cubs team that had Dawson’s big bat to make things interesting.

It seems that some guys are not going to be interested in leeching off the Jeter persona on his big day. Because Jeter’s persona may have dived down even deeper than that of Michael Jordan.

For the Charlotte Hornets of the National Basketball Association have had way too many pathetic seasons since 2006, when Jordan transitioned from being the Hall of Famer of the Chicago Bulls into management. Almost as though Jordan is determined to take over the athletic losing ways of the Chicago Cubs – unless Jeter can top him in Miami.

  -30-

Friday, July 26, 2019

When Confederates become Yankees instead, nothing makes much sense

When it comes to the use of imagery of the old Confederacy, it’s next to impossible to tone down the images so as to downplay just what that attempt at secession from the United States was all about.
The altered, and actual, logo images

You usually wind up coming up with some effort that manages to offend everybody with its lameness. It’s almost like, “Why bother?!?”

BUT THAT DIDN’T stop a Southern Illinois business from trying to find a way to make acceptable the logo of Confederate Railroad – a band that was supposed to be a headlining act at the DuQuoin State Fair next month.

Many of the locals are upset that Illinois officials, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker, cancelled the band’s contract to perform, citing the fact that their band logo includes depictions of the old Confederate battle flag and expresses sympathies for those who favor the memories of an old segregationist society.

While others say that reading such a view into the band’s logo and music goes way too far! It’s just about the music – which is sort of country-fied but also has enough of a rock ‘n’ roll sensibility to it.

It seems that a local business – Black Diamond Harley Davidson – has taken it upon themselves to sponsor the concert, instead of the state of Illinois. Which might sound like a brilliant business move on the part of the company. They’ll get all the good will from the band’s fans who are now more than willing to blame Illinois for cancelling the concert.

BUT IT SEEMS that Black Diamond also wanted to have the good will of those who find offense at Confederacy imagery.

Hence, their advertising materials for the Sept. 5 concert depict an altered version of the band’s logo. The freight train locomotive that usually has Confederate battle flags flying from it now have U.S. flags.

A concept that has the band’s flags even moreso offended than the initial denial of the band’s performance at the state fair.
The same people who were calling for a boycott of the DuQuoin Fair are now saying they may not want to attend this concert either – because they’ll see it as a censored version of the event they really want. They may wind up going to an alternate concert Aug. 27 in Effingham.

WHICH, TO BE honest, is something that the vast majority of Illinoisans wouldn’t pay any attention to if not for all the political hooey that has arisen as a result.

What actually amazes me is that the Harley Davidson dealership may well have opened itself up to litigation, since it would involve an altering of the band’s logo most likely without their consent.

Their attempt at creating a compromise may well wind up biting themselves in the behind. They’re most likely to wind up wishing they’d never bothered – even if they somehow do escape having to pay out some financial settlement.

The negative publicity is likely to stick.

ALTHOUGH I HAVE to admit this wouldn’t be the most stupid maneuver meant to evade the negative overtones of the Confederacy.

Roy White later became a Yankee instead
For that, we’d have to think back to the existence of the Columbus Confederate Yankees. It was a real-live baseball team that existed in the mid-1960s that was a minor league affiliate of the New York Yankees.

Many teams merely attached their own nicknames to those of their minor league ball clubs. But back in that heated era, it was figured that the people of Columbus, Ga., would refuse to support a team called the Yankees. Resulting in the Confederate Yankees that wore a battle flag patch on the sleeves of their pinstriped uniforms that were hand-me-downs of the Yankees themselves.

The result was a stupid image that left many fans confused. What exactly is a “Confederate Yankee?” Probably somebody who rides around on a Confederate train bearing the Stars and Stripes, and thinks everybody else is too confused to tell the difference!

  -30-

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Who are you to be questioning us? Is anybody shocked the attitude exists?

I have written about enough governmental entities throughout the years to know that officials really don’t like being questioned.
Questioning the coppers? None of ya bizness!

By anybody! About anything!

SO I CAN’T say I’m shocked to learn of the Chicago Tribune report detailing how the Chicago Police Board did a pseudo-investigation about everyone who, in the mindset of the coppers, had the nerve to think they could speak out at their public meetings.

Those laws requiring that governmental entities do their business in public? That doesn’t really mean people are enthused about the possibility of having their actions scrutinized. Or as one-time Mayor Richard M. Daley once put it, “Go scrutinize yourself. I get scrootined every day.”

In fact, I don’t doubt that police in particular don’t want anybody else looking all that closely to the ways and means by which they enforce the laws. Which, sadly enough, are just like sausages – it would sicken you to know some of the things that occur in the name of justice.

So according to the Tribune, it seems that some 60 people who filed the requests to speak before the Police Board were actually investigated prior to being permitted to speak.

THE POLICE KNEW in advance if there was anything they could use against the individuals who wanted to speak out against police practices. I suspect that in their mindset, they were prepared to arrest anyone who tried to speak out – if they could get “the goods” on them to back up a charge.

And then we wonder why some people are less-than-trusting of law enforcement personnel in general, and uniformed police officers in particular.

The Tribune actually pointed out that the 60 people whom they found were investigated date back to 2018, but found officials admitting that the background checks, which is how police prefer to think of them, actually date back years further.

It reeks of intimidation, almost as though people are supposed to know better than to want to question the police. Which actually reminds me of a Cook County sheriff’s deputy I once knew who complained about how some officers took their authority far too seriously.

AS I REMEMBER him asking theoretically, “Who really polices the police? It’s nobody.”

Although like I said, it seems public officials in general really don’t care for scrutiny.

I remember one board of education I used to write about on a regular basis that always made a point of publicly disclosing every single person who sought information through the Freedom of Information Act, which is supposed to be about making the details of government operations easier to obtain.

But instead, this school board viewed it as a trouble-maker list; those people who had the nerve to think they were entitled to find out what was really happening. Just think how dangerous those people would have been if they had police powers just like the coppers themselves?

  -30-

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Centennial of ‘Red Summer’ will pass with few noting moment’s significance

Come Saturday, a raft will float out in Lake Michigan and will cross over the invisible dividing line between 29th and 26th streets – a boundary that back a century ago was the cause of bloodshed and the race riots of 1919 that have come to be known as “Red Summer.”
National Guard tries to restore order to South Side
That is, for those of us who have any historic recollection at all. Many more will likely let the moment pass by without any note of what happened some 100 years ago that day.

FOR THOSE WHO need to be reminded, it was in the afternoon of July 27 that a young black man named Eugene Williams went swimming in the lake off of 29th street – the portion of the beach where black people were permitted to be.

But while swimming, he drifted north. When he tried to come ashore near 26th Street, he had ventured into the portion of the beach that locals intended to be for white people.

White people, who’d probably have thought of themselves as proud Sout’ Siders, reacted poorly. They began flinging rocks, boulders and anything else they could grab ahold of at Williams – driving him back into the water.

Where he eventually drowned.
Amongst the more honest accounts of what happened a century ago
BLACK BEACH-GOERS AT 29th Street saw what happened, and reacted violently too. Pretty soon, it was an all-out race riot on the beach with Chicago police making arrests amongst the black people. That eventually spread to various parts of Chicago. With the Bridgeport neighborhood becoming the center of some of the most violent activity against black people.

It wasn’t just in Chicago. The years after the First World War saw many movements of hostility against black people, with many whites seemingly eager to let blacks know they “didn’t belong.”
A Tribune accounting of how large an area the riot covered
The death tally in Chicago alone reached the hundreds, with the National Guard eventually having to be sent in to restore order. In fact, those troops wound up using Comiskey Park as their home base – primarily because the White Sox’ ballpark was in the middle of the area where the most intense violence occurred.

In his Mayor Daley biography “Boss,” writer Mike Royko got deep into these happenings, trying to put together an argument that the future mayor must have been aware of what was going on in his neighborhood, if not directly involved – even though Richard J. himself always claimed to have no personal memories of that summer.

WHICH IS TYPICAL of how Chicago came to forget about the deaths. It was a thing of the past; something ugly and not worth remembering any longer.

And anybody who’s bothering to recall what happened? They’re probably trouble-makers themselves!
Bodies were found in all kinds of places in Chicago
So I’m kind of glad to learn the Chicago History Museum is sponsoring a program for Saturday meant to remind people of just what happened on the beach that summer a century ago.

They’re even planning to have people on a raft float across the invisible barrier. Only this time, no people on shore waiting to throw stones.

THERE IS ONE aspect of all this I find amusing – the fact that the entirety of the beach in that portion of the Lake Michigan shoreline is now named for Margaret T. Burroughs.
BURROUGHS: Beach now in her honor

The same Margaret Burroughs who was the artist and poet and who later went on to found the DuSable Museum of African-American History. I knew her late in life when she served on the Chicago Park District board and was devoted to preserving the memories of black culture in Chicago.

I’m sure that all the individuals who threw rocks a century ago would be appalled at the notion of “their” beach being “taken over” in such a manner.

Just as I’m sure the descendants of those individuals are now appalled at anyone trying to remind us now how bad the behavior was back then. For it seems that the old cliché, “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it” think the answers to our modern-day problems lie in their ignorance.

  -30-   

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

EXTRA: Chicago a city of conventions, but also of sanctuary as well

Chicago likes to boast that we’re some sort of ultimate destination for places looking to hold a convention.
'Ground Zero' of the immigration protest movement this week
We have all these hotels, along with facilities capable of staging such events. When combined with all the other attractions of the city that people can stop by and visit while doing business here, we’d like to think there just isn’t any legitimate reason for people to want to do a convention elsewhere.

OF COURSE, THERE are those who’d rather have their events in Las Vegas – figuring that out-of-towners would feel more comfortable with gambling away their money rather than taking the time to study our city.

But nonetheless, we like to think we’re a major convention center. To the point that it becomes a big deal when Chicago actively tries to chase away a group that wanted to hold its professional gathering here.

But that’s just the case with the convention that began Tuesday at the Marriott Marquis Hotel – located just a block away from the McCormick Place convention hall.

For it seems the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency put together a program for all the businesses they work with in the course of their work. It would be a gathering of a who’s who of the federal immigration enforcement world. A chance for them to talk shop about their industry.

WHICH INCLUDES THE ways and means by which people are deported from the United States. Which, since we’re a sanctuary city that officially does not cooperate with the federal government in terms of enforcing immigration laws means we don’t even want their business.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot went so far as to try to get the hotel chain to kick the federals out, get them to find some other city to hold their gathering. It didn’t work. They’re still here in Chicago, and it means we’ll get to see people picketing the hotel to express their disgust with what it is these people do for a living.

It does seem that the hotel has agreed to prohibit immigration officials from trying to detain any guest of the hotel whose citizenship status is not quite clear. But that’s as far as they’re willing to go. They don’t want to lose any business.

So the gathering took place, with acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan being the key speaker Tuesday. And this will be one event that many Chicagoans will be more than glad to see finish its business and move on by week’s end.

  -30-

Political apologies rarely work, still wind up taking ‘hit’ for trash-talk

There’s something about any attempt by a political official to apologize for saying something stupid that always manages to come off as insincere – it winds up sounding like the only thing you’re “sorry” for is getting caught!
Somewhere, a political operative thinks this is clever

That certainly is the case for the Illinois Republican County Chairman’s Association – which how has on its Facebook page a prominent post apologizing for the fact that they let a lame gag get put on their site to begin with – one that attempted to trash the four members of Congress whom President Donald Trump has engaged in trash-talk against.

IT SEEMS THAT Republican-leaning political operatives created a graphic labelling the four as “the Jihad Squad” and implying just how subversive we ought to consider them to be.

“If you don’t agree with their socialist ideology, you’re racist,” is what we’re told. Implying that Donald Trump is totally justified in all of his trash talk against the women – whom the one thing they have in common is that they’re not white.

The graphic, which actually is a parody of sorts of the advertising posters for the “Charlie’s Angels” films (the more recent movies, not the ‘70’s era television show), is labeled as being put together by the national Republican County Chairman’s Association, which then had it put on the sites of their various affiliated organizations.
The original motivating image?

Which led to the Illinois chapter early Monday publicly removing the post, with chapter President Mark Shaw saying the post was “unauthorized” and, “I am sorry if anyone who saw the image was offended by the contents.”

NOW FOR ALL I know, Shaw may well be sincere in his apology. He may well be shuddering at the thought that he’s affiliated politically with the kind of people who’d think this ad parody is somehow clever. Even Illinois Republican Chairman Timothy Schneider was embarrassed, saying he thinks the graphic, “does not reflect … the Republican Party’s values.”

But I don’t doubt there are people who consider themselves good and loyal Republicans who have absolutely no problem with this kind of image being spewed and who will now think the “problem” is that the GOP has people who can’t get on board with their initiative.
Would Farrah, Jaclyn and Kate be offended?

As for the parody, I think it’s tacky depicting Rep, Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., wielding a shotgun, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., packing a pistol, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., looking like an angry be-yotch and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, bursting into flames.

But even more so, I think it comes across as downright lame. It’s almost the kind of image I’d expect that 12-year-olds would find amusing. But then again, there are times I wonder if the mentality of our political people has delved down to the level of pre-teens who think fart jokes are funny.

WHICH MEANS I can almost sympathize with the Republican operatives who now have to address this image and try to explain away how anyone could seriously have thought it would possibly attract anyone to the political cause.

I don’t doubt it will keep the hard-core ideologues aligned. But then again, that may well be the political strategy for the 2020 election cycle.

Make sure the ideologues turn out in force to back the re-election of Donald Trump and anybody whose presence would not conflict with ‘the Donald,’ and scare off anybody who’d be inclined to want to raise the elevation of political discourse these days.
Political spots certainly have changed

But then again, I also don’t doubt there are some who are ideologically-inclined to want to sink the level of discourse to this level – it’s much easier to understand. Four crazy broads! All of them with big mouths!  And most importantly, none of them white!

NOT EXACTLY AN issues-based campaign theme. Not something that would bring out the intellect in would-be voters.

More like something simple that would reduce the election cycle down to something we can either laugh at – or lambast those who don’t think it’s funny as being mere “snowflakes.”

Which in-and-of-itself is a political label that gets used far too often.

Although I think one anonymous Internet commenter may have stated it best – this “Jihad Squad” graphic is just too stupid for anyone thinking about voting to take seriously. Although we’ll have to see if it’s too stupid that it winds up costing anybody a vote come Election Day.

  -30-

EDITOR'S NOTE: Some Republicans are tossing out their own response, trying to claim Democrats are no better. They're citing a blurb posted on the website of the Kankakee County Democratic Party that equates those "Make America Great Again: caps with the pointy hoods of the Ku Klux Klan -- if only those hoods were an obnoxious bright-red. Crain's Chicago Business is reporting that Democrats are in a similar circumstance for their Internet attempt at humor. Although I can't help but wonder who is really offended by the gag.

Monday, July 22, 2019

'80s-Style Chicago baseball celebrated by Hall of Fame this weekend

I’m sure there are some baseball fans who think I’m totally crocked – the induction ceremonies for the Baseball Hall of Fame held Sunday were focused on New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera and one-time Toronto Blue Jay turned Philadelphia Phillie Roy Halladay.
1977 No. 1 draft pick now a Hall of Famer

But for those of us who remember back a few decades to the 1980s and were following the Chicago baseball scene back then, the Hall of Fame induction moment was more about recognizing the special moments we saw first-hand for ourselves.

FOR AMONGST THE ballplayers who were inducted (and now will forevermore have their visages immortalized in bronze) are one-time White Sox outfielder Harold Baines AND one-time Cubs relief pitcher Lee Smith.

Both were amongst the players whose memories were celebrated this weekend, and both gave induction speeches heavy on praising the memories of family who supported them.

With Baines literally saying his wife, Marla, deserved the praise more than he.

“You are the true Hall of Famer of our family,” said the man who used to be one of two Chicagoans capable of getting thousands of people to chant “Harold, Harold” in unison (the other was Harold Washington). “The game has given us a lot of shared moments, memories like today. Your presence here today makes my journey complete.”

Once the best relief pitcher ever
NOW I KNOW there are many fans who are getting all bent out of shape over the notion that Harold Baines is now regarded as one of the best ballplayers ever.

But perhaps it’s because I remember back to the ‘80s – before Baines suffered the knee injuries that turned him from a star outfielder into a designated hitter. In short, I remember what he was when he WAS a complete ballplayer.

And I regard the existence of the designated hitter in baseball as the reason why Baines was able to keep playing for so many ball clubs (including three stints each with the White Sox Baltimore Orioles) as the reason why he lasted in baseball into the 21st Century – instead of being a washout back around 1986.

Perhaps it’s because that 1983 White Sox team (the first Chicago ballclub ever to make it to baseball playoffs) now has three Hall of Famers amongst its ranks – along with catcher Carlton Fisk and manager Tony LaRussa (who admittedly used his baseball clout to get Baines the vote sufficient for Hall of Fame admission).
Superceding his saves total doesn't diminish Lee Smith
OF COURSE, THE ’83 White Sox were followed up in 1984 by the first Chicago Cubs team to ever make it to baseball playoffs – and Lee Smith was a key part of that team in that he provided the relief pitching that helped prevent many Cubs teams that season from blowing late leads.

In fact, even for the many other ball clubs he pitched for through 1997, he racked up 478 saves – which once was the most-ever for a relief pitcher. Rivera now has that record – with 652. A factoid that some have said diminishes Smith’s achievement.

Or maybe it’s like those who don’t want to consider Baines’ 2,866 base hits – and the fact that the labor disputes of that decade very likely cost him the chance to play in a few more games that would have given him the 3,000-hit statistic AND semi-automatic Hall of Fame induction.

Maybe it’s the fact that Smith became the second-consecutive star relief pitcher whom the Cubs gave up on (Bruce Sutter was the first) who has went on to a Hall of Fame career.
"Go stifle" to all of Baines', Smith's critics

THEN AGAIN, BAINES is the guy the White Sox traded away the first time back in 1989 to the Texas Rangers for Sammy Sosa. Meaning then-Rangers owner George W. Bush is going to have to quit calling the trade his biggest screw-up. He’ll have to regard certain acts of his U.S. presidency as superseding it.

Just like I suspect too many people forget how talented a player Baines was for the White Sox back in in the 1980s. Do too many people want to believe that ball clubs that had one remarkable season each during the decade couldn’t possibly be worthy of Hall of Fame status players?

I can’t help but think it’s a good thing that both Baines and Smith managed to overcome their baseball detractors and gain the recognition they deserve for their time in baseball.

And particularly with Baines, a part of me wants to tell every single person who’s going around bad-mouthing Sunday’s induction the same thing that Archie Bunker used to tell wife Edith. As in, “Go stifle yourself!”

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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Weather extremes; or Dog Days in Chi

Remember the polar vortex?

That period of a few days back in January when the shift in weather traits actually gave in Chicago a taste of what things normally are like around the Arctic Circle!
Rocco (left) and Carmelo back in the winter months. Photos by Gregory Tejeda
IT WAS COLD. Particularly that one day where I got an assignment that actually required me to go outside and walk around the neighborhood in search of some colorful tidbits for a newspaper story.

Which I managed to accomplish in record time. No point in getting frost-bite for the free-lance pay rate I take in these days.

I also remember having to take the dogs outside during those days so they could “do their business,” so to speak. They’re not paper-trained, so their reaction to bathroom-type functions is to want to go outside – no matter what the weather is like.

While Rocco and Carmelo usually manage to linger out in the back yard for a few minutes before doing their “duty,” on those days they managed to run outside, complete their business them come charging back to the house.

LITERALLY CLAWING AWAY at the back door in desperate need of somebody to let them inside. Because it’s cold out here!!!

Anyway, these are the memories popping into my head on Friday as we’re enduring a heat spell that some are saying will be record-setting for the Chicago area.

The National Weather Service issued warnings for northern Illinois and Indiana, along with southern Wisconsin, going from Friday at 10 a.m. and supposed to last until about 7 p.m. Saturday.

It’s going to be hot and humid and people were advised to stay indoors as much as possible during that time period.
Rocco prefers the snow from indoors

FOR WHAT IT’S worth, I took the doggies out for a walk Friday morning and they managed to complete their business. But the walk didn’t last that long – pretty soon the dogs were panting heavily as they were hot.

They couldn’t wait to get back inside, and it was a good move that I refilled their water dishes before the walk. For they immediately went for the water and began gulping it down once we got back to shelter.

Now there have been some reports these days reminiscing back into history and 1919, when the heat of that summer was considered a cause of boosting tensions that ultimately resulted in race riots that left many people dead.

Although I suspect many more people had 1995 come to their minds. Much more recent – although even that is a quarter-of-a-century in the past.

I WAS FORTUNATE enough to not actually be in Chicago that summer – I was living in Springfield, Ill., at the time, although I got to hear the horror stories from my mother and brother of just how ridiculously hot it became and the extremes they had to go through to remain cool.

I recall the reports ultimately said the intense heat was because of a shift that, for a couple of weeks, caused Chicago to become something along the lines of Saudi Arabia.

And while those who actually live in the desert perhaps are capable of coping with such conditions, we managed to get caught off-guard. Causing the hundreds of deaths from that summer due to intense heat.
Carmelo wanted the water!

All I know is that if this is what other parts of the world feel like, it makes me all the more thankful to be a Chicagoan. The rest of the world can keep their weather extremes.

BUT I MUST admit to being uncertain about which extreme is more uanbearable. Polar vortex or Arab desert?

All I know is that I take one look at Rocco and Carmelo in heavy pant and know they were about as miserable as they were back in January when they virtually froze their paws off.

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Friday, July 19, 2019

R.I.P. Broglio and Pumpsie Green

A pair of former ballplayers saw their demise in this realm of existence yet the significance of their stories within the baseball world continue to live on. They’re not to be forgotten anytime soon.
Cubbie blue never agreed w/ Broglio

One of the players was pitcher Ernie Broglio – who during his time with the St. Louis Cardinals won 70 games, including one 20-win season and another where he came close.

THE CHICAGO CUBS acquiring him in 1964 should have been the kind of move that added a potential ace to their pitching staff. Looking particularly good since all the Cubbies gave up for Broglio was an outfielder who barely hit .250 and didn’t even come close to the home run power they always dreamed he had.

The outfielder, of course, was Lou Brock, who upon going to the Cardinals suddenly discovered he could steal bases – some 33 in that partial season alone and more than 900 over the course of his two decades as a major leaguer.

The reason why he’s a member of the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. Immortalized in bronze – even though there are some who like to think Brock is a perfect example of a ballplayer who wasn’t that special.

All he could do, after all, is steal bases – better than anybody else who had played prior to his arrival in baseball. Personally, I always viewed Brock as the perfect example of Cubs’ mismanagement – thinking your leadoff hitter and star base thief was a slugger just because he was one of the few who ever hit a home run into the center field bleachers at New York’s old Polo Grounds – a shot of at least 460 feet.
Cubs misjudged Brock as a ballplayer

AS FOR BROGLIO, the former ace pitcher suddenly “lost” it. In two-and-a-half seasons pitching for the Cubs, he won a total of 7 ballgames.

And now, Broglio popped back into the news briefly – he died from complications due to cancer Tuesday in San Jose, Calif., at age 83. I’m sure Cubs fans are hoping this puts that long-ago trade (that some baseball fans consider the worst ever, aside from maybe Frank Robinson to Baltimore for Milt Pappas to Cincinnati) to bed, once and for all.

But Broglio isn’t the only late ballplayer of significance this week.

For Elijah Green, nicknamed “Pumpsie,” met his maker Wednesday at age 85 at a hospital in San Leandro, Calif. His family said he had been ill for the past five months.
Pappas later redeemed rep after becoming a Cub

GREEN WAS A ballplayer who made his Major League debut as a pinch runner for the Boston Red Sox in a game July 21, 1959 at Comiskey Park. He finished out that game playing shortstop.

Which is significant because he was the first black ballplayer to play for the Red Sox, which made them the final ball club to finally give in to the integration trend started some 12 years earlier when Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Considering that Boston’s other ball club, the Braves, had integrated as far back as 1950 and that Chicago’s two ballclubs (the White Sox in 1951 and Cubs in 1953) also had made the move toward integration, it could be said that it took the Red Sox long enough to get with the program of trying to truly put together the best ball clubs possible.

Or we could celebrate the notion that the integration of the game that likes to use “the National Pastime” label to describe itself finally wasn’t a joke. Maybe it finally bore a bit of legitimacy.

AND AS FOR the memories baseball fans will have of both Broglio and Green, one doesn’t have to be of Hall of Fame statistical ability to be an interesting story.
His historic moment occurred at Comiskey

Which is why it is encouraging to learn that Green never viewed himself as some sort of racial pioneer, while Broglio didn’t let his life sink into a quagmire of sorts because the guy he was traded for went on to become a super star – and he didn’t.

Both are amongst the ranks of those who tried to play baseball professionally AND wound up making it up to the game’s highest ranks. They got their lines of type in the Baseball Encyclopedia to confirm it.

And I’m sure both of them went to their graves this week thinking of themselves as Major Leaguers – a label no one could take away from them.

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