Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The 227th Anniversary of the U.S. Constitution: Today's Important Date Will Be Sparsely Showcased

For decades now, our national and local media mavens here
have handed short shrift to the nation's most significant
document, the presumed highest law of the land, our often
imitated Constitution. Such a shame, because the process
to create the document is as fascinating to learn about as the
resultant body of laws is inextricably connected  to who we
are.

The Founders were a group of men who assiduously prized
learning, and it showed. Jefferson, Minister to Paris, could only
participate by packet, which took six weeks from Europe to the
Colonies. But what an immense influence he was, sending books
to Madison about civilizations from all around the world, Greece,
Rome,  Asia, Northern Africa, on governments and trade practices
they had  erected in their successful societies. (Of course English
Common Law was the greater portion, already practised by
Colonial  lawyers and administrators.)

Madison, who wrote most of the Constitution, had all of these
references to consult for the duration of the Constitutional
Convention, which ran from May to September, 1787.
European Enlightenment values were imprinted into our
document, which has stood for 227 years, only added to by
amendment 27 times. What an astounding achievement: sitting
down, deliberating as to the best society to create, entailing
issues of due process, human rights, legal aspects of declaring
war and conducting trade...

But you won't see much on  the free networks tonight or
cable news, except on rare history programming. George
Santayana still has the telling words on the subject--
"Those who forget the lessons of history are doomed
to repeat it".  George wouldn't be surprised to discover
how few constitutional rights, requirements, obligations
and privileges are understood by the average adult
American.

Our ignorance imperils us all--THAT does get showcased
on every night's news broadcasts.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 11th: Praise for the President, Pans for the NFL

13 years after the terror attacks on the East Coast,
September 11th brings sobering reflections: terror lives,
it always may, it must be beaten back as much as possible.
To this end President Obama has come up with an action
plan, slightly circumspect and coordinated globally (he
hopes) to limit the threat ISIS poses to its region and
the West. Considering how little the U.S. really knows
about the culture, concerns, language and history of 
Arab areas, Mr. Obama's current plans are reasonable
indeed. It isn't just a matter of two American journalists
being beheaded, as primitively ghastly as such tactics
are; it is the stated intentions of these murderous armed
radicals that should alarm us...

The saying, "you can't kill an idea" is accurate, for good
or for ill, but we must regard such as ISIS as weeds
which require killing periodically, simply to survive.
Our resolve, treasure and policy must be clear here.
Back in the early 2000s, Freedom House claimed no
less than 50 nations out of the some 200 on Earth
harbored Al Qaeda cells and sympathizers. That is
a significant minority worthy of concern--and
action.

Then there is the apparently sanctioned domestic
terror at home, men against their female partners.
Memo to the NFL and all football teams: why would
we women watch football, buy tickets to games,
marry or have sex with its players, clean players'
homes and allow these thugs to father our children?

Victimized Mrs. Rice in  her way is as blameworthy
as NFL head Roger Goodell, good-appearing (perhaps)
if not good at setting proper boundaries and penalties
for unacceptable behavior. Beaten senseless for all to
see via videos, then fiancee Rice subsequently marries
Mr. Rice. --WHAT? No consequences for almost
killing her? That's not love, not as I could possibly
understand it. She should think more of herself
than that. But I've said, still say, the whole world
of the NFL and any pretenders to that status sanction
violence toward its players and their women. It
will never end until the sport morphs into Touch
Football instead, unlikely for decades if at all.

So on this day of somber remembrance,
praise for our President, pans and boycotts
for the NFL.





Thursday, September 4, 2014

Don't Cry for Me, Chicago-I'm Crying for You

...With the two presumed candidates for Chicago Mayor
in 2015 being Karen Lewis and Rahm Emanuel, Chicago
loses whoever wins. One, Karen Lewis, seldom evinces
the high intelligence she presumably possesses, having
taught Chemistry at Lane Tech and elsewhere for 22 years.
Then there is Rahm E., a diplomate in the Arts with political
experience and a very profitable but short stint as an
investment banker.

Why are either of them qualified to run a diverse, important
city like Chicago? I see her as a loud, overweight woman,
who could do and know better as a scientifically educated
person.  She may run because she has an ambitious ego and
backing, however insignificant or significant such support may be.
HE is even more of a maneuverer and an opportunist, who I trust
less; these two do boast a fiery nature, but feistiness alone can't
carry the day...

If the motive is to inject justice, peace, morality, fair play,
financial solvency and a reaffirmation that Chicago IS the city
that works, that is.

Does Chicago STILL WORK? Will it work with either R
or K at the helm? I'm crying for Chicago, where I lived and
worked for most of my life, so I care, worry too.

Here's hoping a dark horse comes along with  the finest
credentials, someone who inspires all to aim higher, who
then becomes the next Chicago Mayor.  

Hope, hope, hope....

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Nine Year-Old Girl "Learning" to Shoot an Uzi Accidentally Kills Instructor--Are You Kidding?

Arizona "accidentally" has lost its collective mind as shown in this
horrific story. The parents of a NINE YEAR OLD took her to
a shooting range where an instructor attempted to teach her
how to discharge an Uzi into a target, whereupon the weapon's
powerful recoil turned the gun on the "teacher". Was this
mortal lesson even necessary to anyone still in command of
their mental faculties (AKA good old-fashioned horse sense)?

Herewith  find the blameworthy, negligent and ignorant players:

(1) Her parents--why would they allow this slight young child
to even touch such a powerful weapon? I hark back to the day
when dads gave their 12 year-old sons a .22 and took them
out to the woods for some target practice. Are these parents
paranoid, heavily arming all in their household?

(2) The practice range--why would THEY allow this at all?
Were all at the range so woefully ignorant of physics that
they thought such a small child could physically and correctly
aim an UZI?

(3)  The instructor, who presumably handled many different
weapons during his career, should have refused to "teach"
this girl to use such an inappropriate instrument of death.
Sadly, he was the one who learned a lesson, losing his
own life in the process.

                       ARE YOU KIDDING?

OK, USA, get a grip. Your paranoid fears, fueled by
the news media and the entertainment industry, have
gotten the better of your good sense. Now that Conceal
and Carry is legal in all 50 states, we're seeing that too
many Americans have no idea about what they are
doing with these lethal playthings. How our enemies
must be howling in delighted laughter--we're doing
ourselves in, bit by bit, with this irresponsible return
to the Wild West, with ever more deadly firepower.

Keep those under 18 away from guns. The lives you
save may be yours, your young, anyone.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Jackie Robinson West T-Shirt Beats Anything Tommy Hilfiger Ever Made

$20 each is a bargain price for something so upbeat and winning,
those beautiful bright golden yellow Ts  emblazoned with the
squad's school name, Jackie Robinson West.  The 2014
United States Little League Champions (and second in the
world!) comported themselves with sportsmanship, grace
and dignity everywhere they traveled; no ugly spectacle
from any of THEM. These talented young people are
goodwill ambassadors from/for Chicago who can be
welcomed anywhere, based on their manners alone. 

Then there's Tommy Hilfiger, who charges beaucoup
bucks for his "designer" sports gear, worn by many
minority youths and adults, even though he once infamously
declared, with turned up nose, "I don't design my creations
for inner city youth". I saw and heard this interview,
televised in the late '90s. (Forget the urban legend which
casts Oprah Winfrey as the interviewer, Hilfiger as
spouting openly racist epithets...it never happened.
His "inner city youth" remark is bad enough!)

If I were to buy an important T-shirt, it would have to
be one with the JRW team name...

Whose T-shirt would you rather buy?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Chicago Power Politics Ruin Any Excellence at the CTA

Ever since "the Old Man" (the first Daley Chicago
Mayor) exerted his powerful political will and almost
single-handedly created the RTA in 1973, mass transit
in the Chicagoland area has been beset with many trials,
fueled in part by the 47 board members at all four transit
agencies, CTA, Metra, Pace, RTA. The RTA itself 
is a toothless tiger, exhibiting almost zero oversight;
the too-large number of  board members spread out
between the agencies spells doom for any cogent,
practical policy formation OR accountability.

Scandals and tragedies (Pagano's suicide after his
theft of  unearned vacation monies became  public
knowledge) abound; entrenched Democratic
and Republican hacks make self-serving, stupid or
delayed decisions affecting millions in Northern
Illinois. The latest pricey poaching from the public
kitty involves transit pension fund "conferences" held
around the U.S. at expensive locations, like 
Las Vegas and Honolulu, neither known as a
location for modestly-priced ANYTHING.

No one books a conference in Honolulu OR
Vegas to save money (-!). The "rigorous"
meetings of CTA pension officials across the
country cost taxpayers and the cash-strapped
agency a cool $60,000 beginning in 2010, not
revealed until the BGA sued for the spent
amounts and venues. (See Chicago Sun-Times,
August 24, 2014)

Hold your conferences in CHICAGO, CTA,
locus of all CTA policies, programs, etc. Find
a reasonably-priced place there, and BOOK it.
You will also have at your convenient disposal
The University of Chicago, Northwestern University,
et al., repositories of much-required information for
proper policy formation.

P.S. to CTA retirement plan and healthcare trust
pension officials: Find funding for your vacations
elsewhere! Taxpayers have better things to finance
besides YOUR good times.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ferguson, Missouri: Following President Teddy Roosevelt

...Would be the best idea. He said that we must
"enter the arena" to improve our lives and our
nation. Without informed, effortful and active
citizenry, any community declines; we are seeing
such a phenomenon right now, with the racial
disparity on Ferguson's town council and its
local police force. 

An action-taking, involved, voting populace in
Ferguson might have prevented the wrong authority
cohort there, going back years, according to an
experienced friend of mine familiar with its history.
Researching the candidates, putting up a slate
reflecting awareness of and commitment to that
suburb's reality, needs, problems and goals might
have gotten more African Americans elected to that
council and hired on the police force.  Blacks staying
home, sitting on their hands has resulted in an almost
all White council and police department in a tiny town
(pop. ~21,000) which is 67% African American.

Like Diogenes, I've taken my figurative lamp
looking for light and truth far and wide.  One
striking realization is inescapable: success in human
or civil rights stuggles are never a permanent fait
accompli. Just laws, policies and practices must be
maintained, campaigned again for, at times, or they
will not remain. Granted, this is also an "inconvenient
truth"; we'd like to forever fix all the injustices and get
on with enjoying our lives under a more peaceful and
equitable regime...but it "takes a village", every day,
everywhere.

"Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty", an early 19th
century watchword employed by Frederick Douglass
and several U.S. presidents, was taken from John Philpot
Curran's speech in Dublin around 1790. (Jefferson did
not originate the expression, although he held similar
sentiments.) When we let vigilance slide, presuming
progress is permanent, we get ugly policies like Citizens
United, reinstituting unconstitutional barriers to voting
rights, and chipping away at reproductive rights.

Teddy would not be pleased.