Saturday, August 3, 2019

St. Louis Cardinals are like the Fighting Irish in their local fans amongst us

The Illinois secretary of state’s office has come up with what is, in some ways, just another money-making scheme – license plates allowing baseball fans to show their love of the St. Louis Cardinals.
For the set surviving around Effingham
Meaning one can get an official plate for their automobile that includes the famed “birds on bat” logo that the Cardinals have used for nearly a century. I can envision many residents of Southern Illinois choosing to identify their automobiles with such a plate.

PARTIALLY, IT MAY be a further way of identifying one as not being a part of Chicago.

But considering that the secretary of state’s office has offered specialized license plates identifying with colleges and sports teams for decades, it’s kind of shocking that they didn’t sign up with the Cardinals a long time ago.

For the Gateway Arch that is the prominent symbol of downtown St. Louis is visible for miles around into Illinois. Heck, Illinois includes a piece of the St. Louis metropolitan area amongst its residents – even though I don’t doubt that many Missourians wish they could somehow distance themselves from East St. Louis.

And some do think it bizarre that Illinois government would be willing to recognize a Missouri-based sports team.

BUT IF THE Secretary of State’s office has acknowledged both the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs with official license plates and there is a significant chunk of Illinois where the locals don’t pay much attention to either team, then I suppose it’s only common-sensical to include the Cardinals in the sporting mix.
For sensible baseball fans

For what it’s worth, the state uses the money from the $69 fee charged of motorists who can’t just have a generic number identifying their automobile to support a state fund meant to benefit public schools.

Which almost sounds a bit like the rhetoric we’ve heard for so many years about Illinois Lottery money supporting education. We’ll see someday if there are merits to the rhetoric.

Or is this just an ego-boost to sports fans who want to say “shove it” to the fans of other teams.

NOW I KNOW the state is claiming this is the first sports team from out-of-state they’re acknowledging with their own license plate. Although I’d question the accuracy of such an over-statement.
For Fighting Irish faithful

Because the state also has a series of license plates acknowledging assorted public and private colleges. One of the schools included is none-other-than Hoosier-based University of Notre Dame. Where Fighting Irish football rules, regardless of which side of State Line Road one happens to live upon.

Is it really any more unusual for someone in Illinois to root, root, root for the Cardinals any more than the Irish football?

Besides, I personally will get a bit of a kick out of watching Chicago Cubs baseball fans be forced to acknowledge the fallacy of their biggest myth – that the entirety of the world roots for the Cubbies.

JUST THINK OF when Southern Illinois residents feel compelled to make the drive to Wrigley Field to catch a ballgame, and Cubs fans will see just now many people are present to root against them.

There is, however, one gripe I still have about such license plates – mainly that even though it has been a couple of decades since the collegiate plates were created, they still haven’t gotten around to offering up one in the green-and-white colors of my Illinois Wesleyan University alma mater.
For those who are just determined to be different
One can literally show their support for Milliken University in Decatur or the West Side’s Malcolm X College, And now even for the Cardinals.

Yet I’m still waiting for the day I can proclaim Fighting Titan loyalties while driving my car. Even though, to be truthful, I might well turn out to be too cheap to shell out the $69 fee (charged on top of the regular cost of registering a car) to actually buy the plate!


Friday, August 2, 2019

EXTRA: A Cullerton, but not THE Cullerton, gets indicted by the feds

I have no doubt that some people are wetting their pants with glee at the word that a Cullerton, one of the most prominent of political families in Chicago history, got busted by the feds.
CULLERTON -- The federally-indicted one

Sure enough, officials announced that state Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, faces a criminal indictment on some 41 criminal counts. The kind of people who are eager to see a Chicago politico get busted because it fits into their own ideological hang-ups are the ones all excited.

THERE’S JUST ONE problem. The Cullerton who’s the big name these days is John, who serves as president of the Illinois Senate. He’s also the one who’s a direct descendant of the many Cullertons who have been prominent on the Chicago political scene – both within City Hall and Cook County government.

Tom is actually a distant cousin to John, and from a different branch of the Cullerton family tree.

Anybody who thinks they FINALLY nailed a Cullerton ought to relax This isn’t the major deal you might want to fantasize it is.

Just to give you a clue, Tom is actually a DuPage County resident, and once served as mayor of suburban Villa Park. Not exactly a City Hall denizen!

HE’S NOW A part of the DuPage legislative delegation – which is a fact I’m sure infuriates the long-time DuPage residents. The ones who remember back when DuPage County was the base of the Illinois Republican Party and when DuPage was one of the most Republican of counties that could be found anywhere in the United States.

Now, a Cullerton (which in Chicago political circles is a name almost as prominent as “Daley” itself) has a seat in DuPage. Which, I’m sure, is a prominent motivation for locals to want to tag Tom with some wrongdoing.

Mess him up, and maybe dump him do they can replace him with a good ol’ fashioned GOPer (the kind of Republican who reveres the memory of Abraham Lincoln and the days before the Party of Lincoln sold its soul out to the ego of Donald Trump).

I’m not saying that’s the only reason Tom Cullerton got himself indicted. But you can’t underestimate the significance of that element.
CULLERTON -- The prominent one

NOW WHAT ACTUALLY is Cullerton (Tom, not John, although I don’t doubt there are those who will openly encourage any confusion about who’s who within the Cullerton clan) to have done wrong.

It seems from March 2013 to February 2016, Cullerton received a salary as a Teamsters union official, along with bonuses, and allowances to cover the cost of his cellphones and automobiles. He also received health insurance and pension benefits for his “work” with the labor union.

Which prosecutors contend was minimal. He didn’t really do work for the union – although he took their money (more than $252,000). Which has prosecutors insisting it’s criminal, and worthy of embezzlement charges.

It seems the fact that Cullerton took a pass on health insurance benefits he was entitled to as a state legislator (accepting the union’s health plan instead) was not enough to keep him in the clear legally.

HE’S NOW GOING to have to face criminal charges, and likely will be added to the “hit” parade of politicos who got themselves busted. The political prominence of his moniker will add to the impact.
What would feds do for Daley descendant?

Although it should be noted that Cullerton’s indictment came just days after the guilty plea of Teamsters boss John Coli, who supposedly demanded payoffs from a film studio. In exchange for legal considerations, it seems Coli is now talking about union business – including his ties to Tom Cullerton, whom he allegedly set up with the no-work job to begin with.

Could Cullerton be the fish Coli tosses up to prosecutors who figure they get a bigger case if they can bust a “Cullerton,” even if it’s not one of the really big-name Cullertons whose own activities may be even worse?

It makes me wonder how much the federal prosecutorial types would give if they could build up a case against someone with the “Daley” name – no matter how small-fry the actual individual is?


Sears Tower no longer has name, nor any height designations of significance

The one-time Sears Tower, which clings to that name in the mindset of many Chicagoans, is truly a piece of the Second City’s past.
One-time Sears Tower still towers over rest of Chicago
It has been some 23 years since the building was the “world’s tallest” structure, and five years since it could claim to be the tallest towering hulk of architecture on the North American continent.

NOW, IT CAN’T even claim to have the highest ceiling.

For it seems that New York, which had its One World Trade Center knock the former Sears from the continent’s tallest building now has another new skyscraper that will knock former Sears down another peg.

For it seems the new Central Park Tower will have a ceiling at 1,550 feet – compared to the 1,451-foot ceiling of the building officially known as the Willis Tower.

But which many of us still cling to the old name, and also like to pretend that somehow, on some sort of level, it’s still really the tallest something or other in the world.

FOR THAT WAS the designation it held from its opening in 1973 until 23 years later, the Middle Eastern countries in desperate need of something of significance elected to build taller structures for office space.
Trump Tower looms over da Loop

And then the World Trade Center got replaced with a towering structure in 2014 that technically is only bigger than former Sears because of the spiraling tower that puts its peak at 1,776 feet high. As in a political statement – even though the top 400 or so feet don’t actually add any space of use to people.

Of course, there is one plus – former Sears is still the tallest in Chicago. It didn’t get topped by the Trump Tower with its roof at 1,171 feet high and a spiral peaking at 1,388 feet.

Don’t forget that Trump originally envisioned his tower in Chicago to be a new “world’s tallest” structure – only to have activity that destroyed the original World Trade Center cause him to scale back his vision.

WHICH ALWAYS MADE me thankful that Trump himself didn’t try to erect a statue of himself atop the spiral’s point. It would be just like The Donald himself to want his image sky-high and looking down upon the rest of us.

Making it susceptible to the next tornado that inevitably touches down within the downtown city limits – something that hasn’t happened in some 200-plus years.

Just envision Trump’s image being ripped from the roof and sent flying through the skies – perhaps out into Lake Michigan where it gradually sinks to the lake’s deepest point of 922 feet.

However apropos that would be.


Thursday, August 1, 2019

Is anyone shocked by ‘the Gipper’s’ quip? It explains so much trash talk

The latest bit of historical trivia to make it into the “news” – former President Ronald Reagan said something racially offensive.
REAGAN: Would he be proud of old quip?

It was back in the days when Reagan was governor of California, and when he made a telephone call to then-President Richard M. Nixon – which means it was one of many that got captured on audiotape.

SO WE KNOW that Reagan was calling to tell the president the United States ought to drop out of the United Nations. Specifically, he was upset with a U.N. vote that sided with mainland (as in Communist) China over the island of Taiwan.

Which it seems members of the Tanzania delegation began dancing about when the vote was taken in 1971 (a year before Nixon made his own visit to mainland China to try to restore relations).

And resulted in the Reagan-esque line, “to see those … monkeys from those African countries – damn them, they’re still uncomfortable wearing shoes.”

To which Nixon chuckled, according to the tapes that are the source of reports in The Atlantic, which told of how the quip originally was withheld due to privacy concerns – which Reagan’s death in 2004 made a moot point.

THERE ARE THOSE acting as though this disclosure is some sort of revelation of great significance. As though we ought to be shocked and appalled that a public official could say or think anything quite so vulgar.
But let’s be honest; this was Ronald Reagan – the one-time actor who probably wishes we’d all remember him solely for playing the part of one-time Notre Dame football player George Gipp.

Remember that line about “Win one for the Gipper” that supposedly was a motivational speech to get future Fighting Irish gridiron guys to march to victory? And was one that Reagan fanatics used to like to play off of to describe their own attachment to the man?

But Reagan also is the guy who used to use the line on the California campaign trail, “A hippie is someone who looks like Tarzan, walks like Jane and smells like Cheetah.” Which was always good for a laugh amongst ideologically-inclined supporters who might then write out a campaign contribution check.
The 'trio' that made Reagan politically

WHICH CERTAINLY SOUNDS like it’s in the same spirit as claiming Africans were barefoot AND monkeys.

Heck, I suspect that if the line had become as publicly known as his “Tarzan” quip, the same people who thought that funny would have found the “Africans” line hilarious! And quick to dismiss people who are offended as being overly touchy.

Something to keep in mind whenever we’re forced to contemplate the legacy of the Reagan presidency – and the 1980s, in general.

For the real Reagan wasn’t anywhere near as polished as the cinematic image. Perhaps he should have had Robert Buckner, the writer of “Knute Rockne, All American” to script out his political life, as thoroughly as he did that film, which is recognized by the Library of Congress as a classic of American cinema.
Reagan's highlight? Or lowlight?

ALTHOUGH I MUST admit to always finding it a bit ironic that Reagan would mock “hippies” with Cheetah the chimpanzee.

Since the future president’s most prominent role as an actor was in the 1951 comedy film, “Bedtime for Bonzo,” where he was a college professor who helped to try to raise the namesake chimp with human morals.

Did Bonzo grow up to be a Republican ideologue spouting off much of the rhetorical nonsense we hear passing for political theory these days?

That would certainly explain a lot of 21st Century trash talk!