Saturday, November 21, 2009
Very weird news from Chicago's 40th State Legislative District today.
It seems the incumbent State Representative Debra Mell, the avowed lesbian sister-in-law of embattled ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, filed improper nominating petitions for re-election and could be tossed from the ballot.
If that happens, the sole Democrat on the ballot will be a leader of Chicago's gay, sadomasochistic, leather practicioners, one Joe Laiacona.
This fellow, of rather esoteric sexual tastes, is a part-time professor of computer science at Chicago's Columbia College and author of the regular "Leather Views" column in Gay Chicago magazine.
He is also the author of the interestingly titled, Becoming a Slave: The Theory and Practice of Voluntary Servitude (2005), a tome which is sure to soon be flying off the shelves of the Boystown Book shops.
The inept Chicago Republicans neglected, of course, to even bother to field a candidate for this Northwest Side legislative seat.
So the B&D Leathermaster could be running unopposed.
So my only question is, should he be elected would he be a shoe-in to become House Speaker Michael Madigan's Majority Whip?
This could lend an entirely new dimension to the concept of party discipline.
I once booked a recent Soviet emigre on the Larry King Show and when a caller blurted out, "Larry, you're an idiot." The ex-Soviet subject was astonished. With a sense of wonderment, he later said to me, "You can say anything in this country!"
Years of socialist totalitarian oppression had deadened him to the concept that freedom of speech could actually exist.
So it is with Chicagoans who after lifelong tolerance of corruption, high taxation and civic heavy-handedness have forgotten that not everyone will put up with this.
That is probably why the Chicago news media was so surprised when over the past two weeks, two major national trade associations announced that they were no longer going to hold their conventions at Chicago's McCormick Place. And the enormous National Restaurant Association announced that it too was thinking of pulling out of Chicago.
The Plastics Industry Trade Show, after 40 years of exhibiting in Chicago announced that it would be moving its conclave to the convention center in Orlando, Florida. And the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society announced that it was moving to the Las Vegas Convention Center.
They cited the outrageous charges that they had incurred due to the absurd labor rules which apply at the venue.
At McCormick Place, which is run by the clout heavy McPier Authority, exhibitors have to employ union personnel for just about everything.
The owner of the Jimmy John's fast food chain said that he was not allowed to carry his own tomatoes into the exhibit but rather was forced to hire a union lout for the task. (What Union was this? The International Brotherhood of Tomato Toters?)
And one of the Plastics exhibiters said that he was forced to pay electrical workers union idlers to plug in the cord of his PC and to screw in a lightbulb. At union scale of upwards of $40 an hour this can add up.
The Healthcare Info group decided to pull out after their Electrician's Union tab rose from $40k to $240k. That's an awful lot of dough for lightbulb screwing and PC plugging. And they estimate that the Chicago Union tyrrany is costing them up to 10 times the cost of the same work as in the Las Vegas venue. Nevada is a right to work state -- i.e. no union dominance.
And then there is the case of the $100 cases of Pepsi. That is what the McPier contractors are charging exhibitors -- $100 for 24 cans of Pepsi at McCormick Place for a product that is $7.14 at Jewel.
But the fleeing trade associations also cite "other factors" for their decisions to stop doing business in Chicago.
I think I know what they are.
They relate to the generally oppressive high taxes and inane regulations of personal behavior that the Chicago sheep have come to accept. But real Americans elsewhere won't put up with such nonsense.
First there is Chicago's onerous prohibition of tobacco use -- Chicago's all-consuming smoking ban.
A quarter of all adults use this legal product and, face it, conventioneers come to relax and play. They come to do business, yes, but also to get away from it all, which often means getting drunk and making complete asses of themselves.
In Orlando and Las Vegas, they can go into a bar and light up a smoke. In Chicago, they have to put on their overcoats and shiver in the street outside the bar to have a smoke.
In Orlando and Las Vegas they can casually light up a cigarette at their exhibition booths (hospitality workplaces are exempted from their smoking regulations) but not so in Daley's smoke-free utopia.
And the steady drip, drip of Chicago's ever-increasing tax rates are surely weighing on the minds of the convention planners.
If the conventioneer wants to buy a trinket to take home, the sales tax on it is 10.25% on Chicago -- 6.5% in Orlando -- 8% in Vegas.
Hotel taxes are 16.5% in Chicago -- 10% in Orlando --12% in Vegas.
Buy a convention dinner in Chicago and the tax is 10.5% -- 6.5% in Orlando -- 7.25 in Vegas.
And a conventioneer who rents a car in Chicago will have to invest a fair portion of their monthly salary if they go to park it on a street in the Loop -- and that's certainly not the case in spacious Orlando and Las Vegas.
The Teamsters and the Union electricians and the International Brotherhood of Tomato Toters may be significantly to blame for the costly convention exodus (the Plastics, Healthcare Info and Restaurant conventioneers alone pump $236 million into the Chicago economy.)
And Chicago's filthy weather can't ever compete with sunny Orlando and Las Vegas.
But no small part of the blame rests with the big taxers and clean-air pecksniffs of Chicago's most dangerous union.
Local 12, VTSU (Villians, Thieves and Scoundrel's Union,) Richard M. Daley President, Todd Stroger, Shop Steward.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Having worked for a major Japanese corporate entity and having studied the Japanese language and culture, I found Obama's display of obeisance to the hereditary Japanese monarch to be particularly embarassing.
Anyone with even a rudimentary knowlege of the culture knows that a bow, while customary amongst Japanese, is not expected of foreigners -- and certainly not by the leader of the Western World.
Moreover, the Japanese are particularly sensitive to the various gradations of the bow. The deep bow that Obama-san enacted would be more suited to the Japanese Emperor's gardener or chauffeur than to a fellow head of state.
After seeing this groveling Obama pose, I fully expected him to get out his bootblack kit and buff up the Emperor's shoes. Or perhaps segue into a Steppin' Fetchit soft shoe dance for the amusement of the Empress.
It was a disgrace.
Contrast this to the treatment that General Douglas MacArthur accorded the current Emperor's father, Hirohito, in 1946.
General MacArthur grew up in the Orient as his father was Governor-General of the US Phillipine Protectorate. He understood the Oriental mind probably better than any American of his time.
So when MacArthur moved into the Dai Ichi palace to assume his role as Supreme Commander of the Occupying Forces, he pointedly refused to pay a courtesy call on the Emperor of the defeated Japanese.
Understanding the Japanese concept of "face," he was making it quite clear that he was now the effective ruler of the country.
So the diminutive monarch, who had only by MacArthur's good graces narrowly escaped having been hung as a war criminal, donned his morning coat and top hat and sheepishly went over to Dai Ichi to meet with the new "American Caesar."
MacArthur, casually dressed and towering over the little despot, ordered a photo taken. And he ordered the Japanese newpapers to publish it.
This was a very significant political act and MacArthur knew it. Until then, the Japanese Emperor was still considered a god by his people. They were not allowed to lay eyes on him and had never seen a photograph of their diminutive deity.
When the photos appeared the Japanese were aghast that they had been considering this little fellow to be their god. The contrast with the statuesque American General was striking.
It was the act that sealed the modernization of Japan and cemented its ties to the victorious American superpower.
If Obama and his State Department buffoons had had but a fraction of General Douglas MacArthur's understanding of that culture and of his political genius, this embarassing farce could have been avoided.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
I was recently riding down the MSWRD canal bikepath in Skokie and began chatting with one of the innumerable Skokie Village employees who was cleaning up the trash there. I asked him about the damage that the beavers had been doing to the trees there and he told me to call the new head of the Skokie Division of Forestry.
I am not making this up.
Landlocked Skokie -- which abuts no forest land whatever -- which is perhaps renowned as being the most overdeveloped aesthetic disaster of a suburb -- actually pays someone more than $50k a year to be its "Forestry Director."
Skokie is perhaps best known for its absurdly laughable 2 flats which even today still are built with ghastly turquoise tile and stone. Someone's idea of class back in 1962 -- but those ugly monstrosities are still being erected on Church St. to this day.
What a silly excuse for a suburb!
Skokie, under the leadership of its pasty-faced, Village Administrator for life, Alphonse Rigoni, has been effectively the fastest growing municipal bureaucracy on the face of the earth.
It now, not only has a Bureau of Forestry, but also shelled out taxpayer money to buy a radio station to which absolutely no one ever listens.
But pasty-faced Al gets to add radio bureaucrats to his Mussolini-like panoply of government funded lackeys.
Any day now I expect Skokie to start bilking its taxpayers for the new Skokie Department of Mining and Land Reclamation.
And the new Skokie Aeronautic and Space Administration.
Alphonse and his pals in the Chicago Democrat machine-controlled Skokie Caucus Party need an ever bigger and ever more useless bureaucracy.
And you Skokie suckers can just keep voting for it and paying for it.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Some years back, I was sitting in a bar in River North and as the after work crowd began to filter in, a 20-something guy in a business suit sat on the stool next to me. He was obviously distraught -- actually fighting back tears -- and he explained to me that his dog had just died.
I tried to be as sympathetic as possible, but I thought it rather peculiar at the time -- almost unmanly.
Today I certainly wouldn't entertain such thoughts.
Three years ago today, my faithful canine companion of almost 15 years passed away.
I first met MacArthur at a farm in Winchester, VA.
A farmer by the name of Robert Jewell had posted an ad in the Valley Trader, a local farm newspaper that a co-worker had brought in for me, notifying that he had lab-setter puppies, free to good home. So I called him, got a general description of the 6 week old pups and told him that I would be out to pick up one of the long-haired buff colored males.
I made the 1 hour or so drive from Washington D.C. out to get him.
At Jewell's farm, I saw a group of about 8 or 10 little pups, playfully climbing onto each others' backs and onto the back of a tolerant farm cat.
Jewell said, "Yours is over here," and he went over to a barrel and pulled out little MacArthur. "I knew you were coming and I didn't want him to get away."
Apparantly Mackie was the hellion of the litter -- the obvious alpha-male. The farmer's children had named him "Sebastian," after Sebastian Cabot, the rotund Mr. French in the Family Affair reruns that they watched -- because he ate more than any of the other pups and they figured he would end up being fat.
He obviously had a vigorous spirit and a powerful life-force, something that I would come to fully appreciate over the next decade and a half.
So after letting him say goodbye to his mother and his litter mates, he made the drive with us back to the Nation's Capitol.
I had just read, How to be Your Dog's Best Friend, by the Monks of New Skete, a best selling dog training book at the time and a classic today. The authors suggested that the first few days away from the litter are traumatic for the new pup and suggested that for the for the first few weeks, you should try to recreate the warmth and intimacy of the litter environment by sleeping on the floor with him.
So like a damned fool, I spent the next few weeks in a sleeping bag on the floor with him at night. I was periodically awoken by the sensation of his little snout, nuzzling thru my hair searching for a source of milk.
But it really worked. In our regular walks it became apparent that he had recognized me as the new central force in our new 2 man "litter."
The Clintonistas had just assumed power in Washington, so I was out of a job and had lots of time to devote to him in those early days. That was fortuitous. On the floor of the apartment, we would play with a little ball that I would toss and he was easily coaxed into bringing back to me.
He was an unusually smart dog.
Before long, to my great amazement, he was catching the ball in his little mouth and prancing back pridefully in recognition of my applause.
He was a glutton for attention.
I recall sitting on the floor, reading The Washington Post, only to have a little head push thru the bottom of the paper as if to say, "aren't we supposed to be doing something more important, like playing ball?"
After a month or two, he was so totally bonded with me that when we took our walks in the famous Meridian Park with its massive marble stairway, I could let him off the leash and he would bound down the stairs, turn the corner by a fountain, and when I would whistle and call his name, he would come exuberantly scurrying back up the stairs.
It amazed a friendly National Park Policeman there, that a pup so young would not simply run off. It amazed me too.
So, one thing led to another and we packed up the Mercury Cougar and headed back to Chicago.
A few months later, in our first summer together, some guys saw us along the Lakefront and commented that since he would go about 10 yards, leap in the air and catch a tennis ball in his mouth, I should try throwing him a frisbee.
They handed us theirs and on the second throw, he caught it and brought it back to me.
It was the beginning of a career that would span 21 of the Alpo/Friskies Canine Frisbee Disc Tournaments. The next summer, when he was 1 1/2, we went into the community dog frisbee tournament in Park Ridge and he scored 18 points in his very first competition.
That is like a ballplayer hitting .275 in his rookie season. In a few years, at his athletic prime, he would win that tournament.
We would play frisbee with almost each walk in the park and his dexterity and flair brought amazement and joy to innumerable people who witnessed it -- not the least of which was me.
He lived for it. It was his work -- his job. When I would pick up the leash for a walk, he would run back in and emerge with his frisbee in his mouth -- only then were we ready to take on the outer world.
But it wasn't all work. Mackie had a canine sense of humor as well.
When a good looking chick would come over to chat and ask me about his athletic prowess, he would run over and begin humping my leg with this silly grin on his face as if to say, "buzz off baby, this guy is spoken for and we have important work to do out here."
So much for his being a chick magnet.
And it wasn't all just bird dog retrieving. He was protective too.
On one warm August night, I was sitting on a park bench in Chicago under a lampost, reading a book and he assumed the spot on the cool packed earth underneath the bench. Three punks approached me and said, "hey man, you gotta quarter?" I told them no. Seeing me smoking, they said, "you gotta cigarette?" I said, "not for you." The leader said, "what the hell you mean you don't gotta cigarette for us?" And all of a sudden this white canine head emerged from under the bench -- growling. The growls transformed into loud barks as he moved forward and the three punks began running off with MacArthur in hot pursuit.
He wouldn't have hurt them, but they didn't know that. His protective and herding instincts had kicked in and he was simply herding them out of the vicinity.
Mackie got an extra can of Alpo on his kibbles that night.
As time went on, MacArthur and I engaged in a wide array of activities together. When I would manage a political campaign, he would become the official campaign headquarters dog and would sit under my desk as I pecked away at the keyboard or he would entertain the kids of the volunteers when we adults were having a meeting.
He marched with various political groups in no fewer than a half dozen 4th of July parades, always carrying his trademark frisbee in his mouth and invariably being the main attraction.
And we had our quiet personal moments as well.
When I would be depressed at the events of a given day, the sympathetic Lab in him came out and he would gently put his snout on my knee as if to say, "It's alright buddy."
And in his waning days, he would come up to me and bury his head in my chest as if to say "Can't you make this all better for me, pal?"
In his fourteenth year, cancer had begun to eat away at his once invincible constitution and in the early morning hours of November 7, 2006 the distress became untenable.
I insisted that the nurses at the 911 veterinary clinic in Skokie give him as much morphine as possible, because I didn't want him to go out writhing in pain. They did. And he had a peaceful look on his face as I caressed his face and uttered soothing words as he crossed the River Styx.
He is buried in a peaceful corner of the yard along with his favorite blanket and a ball and a frisbee and his tags and a little note for archeologists to find.
The Catholics and the mainstream Protestants suggest that a dog is merely a souless chattel, put here for our benefit, but incapable of living on. The Buddhists, however, believe that they are part of the eternal life force and do have a soul.
I would like to believe the Buddhist view.
I would like to believe that at some future time, I might see him again under a warm, blue summer sky on the Elysian Fields and that he would be restored to his full youthful vigor and I in my 30-something vigor would be flinging frisbees 40 yards and he would leap in the air and snare them and afterwards we'd chill out in the clear, cool spring.
So until then, Good Night, Sweet Prince.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
In a City whose Congressional Delegation is crawling with mindless poseurs, morons and outright nincompoops, Congressman Luis Gutierrez is once again vying for the uncontested leadership of that august Chicago group in this regard.
According to The Hill, a Washington D.C. weekly that covers its namesake:
"The Congressional Hispanic Caucus was also weighing its options on what to do about a push by some vulnerable centrist members to block illegal immigrants from being able to buy insurance on the (Pelosi-Obama health care) bill's "exchanges," even with no subsidy.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said he "would have a hard time voting for" a bill or procedural measure that did that.
"I'm tired of feeding hatred and bigotry," Gutierrez said."
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said he "would have a hard time voting for" a bill or procedural measure that did that.
"I'm tired of feeding hatred and bigotry," Gutierrez said."
Let me see if I've got this right.
Democrats in the House are the only real players in the formation of the health bill. They control the House of Representatives and all it's committees.
And a bloc of centrist Democrats are asserting that it is sensible to not allow the current 12 million plus illegal aliens (and any others who may swarm across the border tomorrow) to have coverage under the taxpayer funded socialized medicine scheme.
And Gutierrez is calling those fellow Democrats hatemongers and bigots.
Chicago has sent some amazing characters to Congress over the years. The felonious Dan Rostenkowski, the salacious, pedophiliac, Mel Reynolds and an outright weirdo, Gus Savage.
But "Little Luis" from the 4th District on the West side is setting a whole new standard for Chicago Congressional imbecility.
I believe he just may have moved into a league of his own.