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September 19, 2014 / jeffnward

Spanking is child abuse!

Much like a 50’s sitcom family, there’s an unwritten journalistic rule in which columnists, reporters and editors, the most bleeping dysfunctional people on the planet, are supposed to act like they love and respect each other whenever they’re exposed to the bright light of day.

I should know because I’m the worst example you may ever come across.

But as that insipid waste of flesh, Dr. Phil, likes to say, “How’s that workin’ out for ya?” So in the spirit of setting our own house straight, please let me start off by saying Washington Post and CNN columnist, Ruben Navarrette, is an unmitigated jackass.

And someone shoulda said it a hell of a lot sooner, but in a massive bout of reverse racism, most of us kept our mouths shut because there are so few Hispanic columnists out there, we desperately want to see them succeed.

navarrette

But the truth is, Navarrette lost any gravitas when he proposed that Sen. Ted Cruz actually understood what was going on better than most other folks. While I can certainly understand Cruz’s political support, the applicable DSM diagnosis for that guy would have to be “narcissistic megalomaniac.”

Then Navarrette proceeded to dispense with whatever shred of his shrinking credibility remained when he wrote a piece entitlted “Spanking isn’t child abuse; it’s common sense.” Ah yes! The last resort of the unrepentant abuser – put it out there for everyone to see and do your best to justify it in the process.

It typically goes something like this; “The Greeks had sex with young boys and they were the basis for western civilization! So why can’t we have sex with young boys?”

The other specious argument, “My father whooped the crap out of me and I turned out just fine!” No you didn’t! Because if you have to say you turned out fine, it’s clear and convincing evidence that you have real issues.

It’s just like the dynamic by which someone uttering the sentence “some of my best friends are black” immediately establishes them as racist.

Fox News commentator Sean Hannity used the “I came out just fine” line and, I have to say, whenever I think of the poster child for we’ll adjusted adults, he’s the first one that comes to mind.

Denis Leary likes to glorify what his parents regularly did to him by saying he’s a better person for it. If by “better person” he means a hyperactive, chain-smoking, alcoholic, misogynist comedian with more demons than Robin Williams, then I’d have to agree.

Those who were abused in the name of discipline use the “just fine” excuse to justify their stilted love for a parent who caused them all kinds of pain, shame and anguish.

The other amazingly feeble Adrian Peterson defense is, “If this kind of thing were illegal, most black parents would be in jail.” Ummm…has anyone noticed that most black parents are already in jail?

That may be an exaggeration, but the fact that 33 percent of black males will spend time behind bars is a staggering statistic. Economic, educational and social disadvantages are certainly factors, but one has to wonder if regularly getting the youthful crap beaten out of you really helps matters any.

Every study on the planet proves that, not only does this kind of abuse fail to work, but it makes children far more aggressive as adults.

Then there are those who pound their fist on the table while shrieking, “The government can’t tell me how to raise my children!” Oh yes they can! And they do it all the time! Try withholding food, locking them in a closet, keeping them away from school, or abrogating any other number of regulated behaviors and DCFS will (eventually) render you childless.

Navarrette goes on to unflinchingly claim that, “Fear is essential to respect. Children won’t do what we tell them to do, unless – at some level – they fear the consequences that will come from not doing it. “

No it isn’t! Fear and respect are two entirely different things. Fear is easy, but temporary. One NFL player noted that neighborhood black parental beatings ceased when their fathers finally became fearful of their children. Fear is what you shoot for when you haven’t earned respect.

Conversely, respect isn’t easy. Respect comes from the consistent and unemotional application of rules and consequences which are exemplified by your consistent parental example. Whacking a kid is the lazy parent’s way of gaining temporary relief. Respect takes time, effort and hard work – which explains why people like Navarrette take the easy way out.

Fear ends when the child leaves the house, but respect outlasts the life of the parent.

I hit one of my children one time and I was so embarrassed about becoming my father that I never laid a finger on them again. When my boys acted out, they lost something near and dear to their hearts for a specified period of time. If they further tested those limits, as all children love to do, they lost even more.

And let me tell you, dealing with an 11 year-old with no TV or video games is a real bleepin’ thrill. But despite that temporary loss of parental sanity, my wife and I stuck to our guns and now, much like the baby elephant who couldn’t escape the rope and tree, all it takes is the threat and we’re right back on track.

Far too many parents prefer hitting their children simply because taking away TV requires resolve and it directly impacts their drinking time.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, Navarrette excuses parents with this; “Already stressed from long days at work and having no desire to spend precious hours at home squabbling with children – [they] simply surrendered. They gave up on raising children in exchange for peace and quiet on the home front.”

What!

Perhaps someone oughtta have “the talk” with Ruben because he clearly doesn’t understand where children come from. Who said raising children was gonna be easy? And if you aren’t willing to put in the requisite time and effort, plenty of birth control methods are readily available.

And where does Mr. Navarrette, who laments a lack of parental respect throughout his entire piece, think these kids learned this kind of behavior? Not from television sitcoms, as he proposes, but from their bleeping parents!

Perhaps the most fascinating endeavor of my 56-year existence was coaching a Tri-Cities Soccer Association U-13 travel team. Most of the kids were real pieces of work, but there was one player who didn’t give a bleep about himself, his teammates or his coaches. Fed up with my regularly applied consequences, his mother actually hit a high ranking TCSA employee

So spurred on by Navrarrette’s “I’m not OK – You’re not OK” theory, this mother, who wasn’t all that far from the soccer parent norm, is suddenly going to apply the appropriate amount of corporal punishment? I would love to live in Mr. Navarrette’s world where parents could simply say, “I give up! Let’s all turn to violence because that’s always solved everything. Then we’ll live happily ever after.”

Ruben, you, and anyone else who spanks their child, are abusers. While I can understand a parent who slips every now and then, as Jon Stewart so eloquently noted:

Here’s a tip! For any pro football players out there, curious as to whether they may be child abusers. You can’t do something to a four year-old that you’re not allowed to do to a 300 pound lineman in a helmet and pads.

I cannot believe we’re still having this conversation in 2014.

As for Mrs. Navarrette, who is cited as not believing in corporal punishment in the column, please divorce your husband now, while your 5, 6 and 7 year-olds still have time to recover. It’s only going to get worse and if you continue to let this happen, you’re just as bad as he is.

September 18, 2014 / jeffnward

This is the September 18, 2014 Left, Right and You!

Of course, Larry and I would like to thank Kane County Democratic sheriff nominee Willie Mayes for coming into the studio and answering all our questions. So now that you’ve heard from both candidates, you should be be able to pull that ballot booth lever without hesitation.

Larry, Willie and Jeff

Then Larry and I discussed the consequences of failing to vote in local elections – your bleepin’ taxes go up! We also touched on how newspapers – including the Tribune – are failing when it comes to local coverage.

Enjoy the show!

September 18, 2014 / jeffnward

It’s almost time for Left, Right and You!

So here’s your voice promo!

This week Kane County Democratic sheriff nominee Willie Mayes will be joining us in the studio. Larry and I will ask him the same pithy questions we posed to Republican nominee Don Kramer. If you have a question for Willie, please call 847-931-1410 and our crack producer, Dave Weiser, will see that it gets on the air!

Willie Mayes

Willie Mayes

Then Larry and I will discuss the ongoing U-46 DuPage County tax imbalance fiasco. Despite the fact the school district did nothing wrong, some DuPage residents are already reaching for their pitchforks and torches. My theory is, since none of you all bother to vote in consolidated elections, you get exactly what you deserve!

We’ll see if Larry agrees!

And speaking of Larry, both he and I hope you’ll tune your radio to WRMN AM1410 at 3 p.m. today for another rollicking installment of Left, Right and You. The truth never sounded so good!

September 18, 2014 / jeffnward

If you don’t vote, don’t bitch!

A few columns back we discussed how a minor Kane County Clerk property tax levy calculation glitch sent the folks in the DuPage County portion of the U-46 school district into a complete town hall tizzy. To greatly simplify matters, because Kane County U-46 homeowners were undercharged, given the vagaries of multi-county school districts, their DuPage County counterparts were equally and oppositely overcharged.

This trend will reverse itself next year, which, of course, will set off a whole new round of taxpayer fireworks. Having finally worked itself out, then everything will get back to taxation equilibrium. Again, if you want all the gory details, Courier-News reporter Dave Gathman has got it covered pretty well.

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The main point of my previous piece was, through no fault of their own, U-46 found itself mired in the very psychological definition of displaced aggression. Put more simply, instead of taking it out on the Clerk’s office, those irate DuPage residents were getting ready to lynch various and sundry administrators and school board members.

Ah! But the good news is, the Clerk’s office did, indeed, send an emissary to this week’s board meeting who absolved U-46 of any responsibility for this tax imbalance faux pas. He then went on to explain exactly how this scenario would work itself out.

The problem is, the swift and appropriate imposition of the truth has never prevented any red blooded American citizen from coming up with a conspiracy theory that will prevent them from having to adjust their own reality.

In other words, the Bible was wrong, the truth did not set U-46 free.

Though their tax burden will relent, that generally DuPage board meeting crowd insisted upon blaming the district for everything short of the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. (I hear he’s buried in State Sen. Mike Noland’s back yard!) I even went as far as checking in with some of the applicable local state legislative offices only to confirm they too were fielding calls from outraged DuPage constituents.

So I decided to do a little research which is always a dangerous thing. It took just a few clicks on the DuPage County Clerk’s website to determine that just 4,551 out of a possible 24,375 applicable residents voted in the 2013 U-46 school board race. That comes out to a whopping 18.67 percent participation in the process.

And there were six candidates vying for three positions so don’t give me any of that not having a real choice crap.

To put that paltry turnout into perspective, if an NBA bench player managed an 18 percent FGP, they’d be gone. Chicago Cubs pitchers get on base at a better than 18 percent clip, and even Fox News gets it right more than 18 percent of the time (but not by much).

It ain’t that these suddenly hyperactive DuPage folks tend to shy away from polling places either. When motivated by the prospect of a second Barack Obama term, an amazing 72 percent of ‘em managed to extract their ample asses from the couch in 2012!

The irony there is, as Mitt Romney so eloquently established, while almost half of Americans don’t pay any income tax, every last one of them, even renters, pay property taxes. And unless you’re making 1 percent kinda money, your annual property tax remittance is much more brutal on your bank account than the IRS.

So now these DuPage residents, who probably couldn’t tell you what a consolidated election is, are bitterly complaining about a temporary tax hike that U-46 had nothing to do with. Only in America!

But since I’m feelin’ particularly magnanimous this morning, let’s say the folks who’ve attended all these town halls actually voted at a 33 percent rate. Faced with yet another angry DuPage crowd, were I a U-46 administrator, after the first three constituents complained, I’d briefly note that only one of them actually voted, flip the entire gallery the double bird, and declare that I didn’t want to hear a goddamn thing from anyone who didn’t weigh in on it when they actually had the real chance to do so.

And I’d have an alphabetical 2013 voter list, readily available from any County Clerk’s office, sittin’ right next to me.

When you refuse to vote in local elections, you’re telling those taxing bodies they’re doing great! When you refuse to vote in local elections, those boards start to believe that nobody’s watching. When you refuse to vote in local elections your taxes will go up.

Because the bulk of the 18 percent who actually voted probably did so because they have children in those schools and they’re OK with a higher tax levy.

Even if this tax error never happened, my contention stands. None of you bleepin’ vote when it really matters! The 2013 Kane County U-46 board vote turnout (12.27 percent) and Cook County’s showing (12.01 percent), actually make those abysmal DuPage numbers look pretty good!

So! To 19,824 of my finest DuPage County friends I say this. Leave U-46 alone! If you really want to give the person responsible for your higher property tax bill what for, I would humbly suggest you locate the nearest mirror, point your index finger directly at that gleaming visage, and have at it!

That prospect may not sit too well with you, but I’m getting downright giddy just thinking about it!

September 17, 2014 / jeffnward

Turn out the lights – the party’s over!

It’s amazing – and bleepin’ hilarious – to watch all the Republican rats flee the sinking ship.

Conservatives, who put Rauner over the primary top and proceeded to hold their breath as they fervently prayed that he actually had a shot, are now taking shots at him for shifting towards the center left as his electoral fortunes furiously fade.

Blue dog Democrats, the very folks upon whom the Rauner campaign has pinned all their hopes, aren’t buying his brand new “regular guy” persona either. That commercial with blowhard Mike Ditka was as unmitigated a disaster as the Bears season opener. Way to appear wishy washy Bruce!

rauner3

To add insult to injury, Libertarians, those nerdy voters who think they’re cooler than everyone else, wouldn’t even consider casting their lot with Rauner.

So despite a Democratic opponent who’s raised taxes, completely failed to resolve the pension crisis, regularly cowers in the shadow of Mike Madigan, couldn’t effectively lead a girl scout troop, and has the all the charisma of a German Catholic nun, Bruce Rauner – the man with more money than God – is about to go down in the kind of flames that will make Bill Brady look like a genius by comparison.

But don’t listen to me! Go ahead and ignore my prescient June prediction, because all you really have to do is consider two recent polls to come to the same Bruce Rauner end is near conclusion.

The first, a telephone survey conducted September 4th through 7th by Early and Often, showed Quinn and Rauner in an essentially a margin of error dead heat. The second was a September 3 to 12 poll performed by the Chicago Tribune in which Quinn trounced Rauner by 9 points.

Of course, Capitol Fax’s Rich Miller, who managed to get up off his sick bed (translated – he’s recovering from another two week bender) to claims the Trib erred by hitting only registered voters – not those most likely to vote – and skewed the results by polling a lopsided 43 percent Democrats, 24 percent Republicans, and 28 percent independents.

Perhaps Rich should avail himself of the latest 2014 Gallup research which shows, though it certainly has slipped, Illinois Democratic voters maintain a 17 point advantage over their GOP counterparts. And if you add 17 to those 24 percent Republicans, you come up with 41 percent Democrats which is eminently close enough to that Tribune Democratic number.

But the truth is, none of that statistical squabbling really matters. Let’s throw standard deviational caution into the wind by saying Miller was sober long enough to get it right (I know that’s a stretch) and, correcting for that bias, the second poll is also dead even. That still relegates Rauner to runner up status because, for any Illinois GOP challenger to beat a sitting statewide Democrat, they have to be up by at least 10 points with a scant two months left to go.

Unless you’ve hired Eric Cantor’s campaign crew, you can count on all statewide races narrowing in favor of the incumbent as election day looms large. This is why incumbents tend to get reelected and Bruce’s latest mailer is all about early voting.

Thus, in order for a statewide challenger to prevail, they have to build a reasonable lead before that homestretch phenomenon takes hold. And this kind of untimely tie really is just like kissing your sister.

What’s so much worse is, without a commanding lead to rally the troops, all those conservative Republican factions who make a sport out of turning on their own party, now fearing a loss, will try to save face by claiming they never supported this mope to begin with.

And then they will savage him.

I suppose it’s possible that Quinn could still go all Dan Rutherford on us, but given past history, the far better bet is Rauner will be the one to stick his foot in his mouth. Oh! I don’t know, something like barring 12 Columbia College journalism students from your latest press conference because they weren’t “working journalists.”

Yeah Bruce! “Regular guys” do that kind of thing all the time. (Though there is something to be said for the probability that, anyone who willingly chooses to be a journalism student right now is probably completely out of their fucking mind anyway.)

Of course, in the face of those dire poll numbers, Bruce is lending himself yet more money and desperately trying to get some scandal to stick to Quinn. So now he’s blasting patronage at IDOT. Patronage at IDOT??!!. Be still my beating heart – that almost always happens.

Meanwhile the Guv hasn’t begun to break a sweat. Just wait till he brings out the big guns like the GTCR nursing home fiasco. Old folks actually vote and they will not be amused.

Even Miller put the bottle down long enough to cite a current federal lawsuit claiming Rauner’s company sold APS Health Care, a $223 million “lemon,” after engaging in a “deliberate campaign to conceal the truth.”

Meanwhile, while Bruce was at the GTCR helm, that same subsidiary “incorrectly” invoiced the Georgia Medicaid program and, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office, who hit them with a $13 million fine, APS “Took Medicaid’s money for itself and left some of our most vulnerable citizens without the aid they deserved.”

Nice! Women, who also tend to vote more often, won’t soon forget that one.

So folks! It really is all over but the shouting. Once again, instead of nominating a candidate who could actually win, conservative Republicans went with the wacky flavor du jour and, thanks to them, we’re about to end with four more years of Pat Quinn.

Kirk Dillard would have run away with this race. Does anyone have his number? Is it too late for a write-in candidate?

September 16, 2014 / jeffnward

What happened to the local news? – part II

Yesterday we covered how the Tribune generally fails to cover the local news. Maintaining that proud tradition, today their page 2 piece is on breadsticks while another columnist waxed poetically about Radio Shack on page 3. At least we’re spared Kass on Tuesdays. If I have to avoid reading one more column on just on how heinous the President really is, I’m gonna hurl.

All that said, it can get worse – much worse – as the Daily Herald just went out of their way to prove.

Though I hate to regurgitate this kind of abject BS, if things are going to make any sense here, we must note that a former Carpentersville resident was just arrested in Mississippi and charged with the murder of his five children, ages one to eight, in South Carolina.

Though this kind of morbidly voyeuristic coverage is not nearly relegated to the DH, I would love for someone – anyone – to explain how this kind of far from random tragedy is actually news.

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The fact that newspapers choose to normalize this aberrant behavior by insistently covering the aftermath of every mentally ill or deluded individual who finally goes off the deep end, says far more about the managing editors than it does about the criminals.

It’s not news when a mother drowns her kids. It’s not news when some moron who, unable to cope with his own shortcomings, goes on a shooting spree. It’s not news when a father takes out his entire family.

What is news is, having faced down and surmounted the vast array of challenges and stresses that permeate this often difficult existence, the vast majority of folks who somehow manage to persevere and make a better life for their kids.

But not only did the DH cover this non-local tragedy, they took it an absurd step further by going out of their way to make it local. This, of course, begs the question, who, in their right journalistic mind would seek out this assassin’s former roommates just to obtain their expert opinion on his character?

Short of a mental illness, is there really any doubt as to the disposition of someone who just murdered five of his own children? It’s not one of life’s great mysteries.

And what the hell did the DH think these two geniuses were gonna say? “Yeah! We weren’t the least bit surprised by it! The three of us used to go out, get tanked, and beat the crap out of hookers. And that was on a good day! We had an office pool on exactly when this guy was gonna go off and Frank is pretty excited about winning the 150 bucks!”

Of course, one roommate said “He fooled us,” while the other concluded, “I don’t think he should make it out of prison. It’s pretty heinous stuff.”

No shit!

That’s going out on a limb. Did we really need two regular guys from Carpentersville to confirm this guy probably shouldn’t be walking the streets? I didn’t realize that DH readers were the kind of forgiving bunch who might “accidentally” think this guy should get a second chance.

And now that his former friends have finally waded in on this horrific crime, we can all finally sleep at night. Please don’t forget to mention that police found maggots in the defendant’s SUV.

On what planet is the opinion of two formerly local mopes who, through blind happenstance, bumped into a potential murderer in his early twenties, worth printing? Perhaps the real insights might involve how his life unraveled after he was kicked out of his house as a teenager.

But no! That would actually take work! It’s much easier to cite his youthful drug use and criminal record as the obvious and inevitable basis for this kind of eminently predictable multiple homicide. Why, if only the DH was aware of this guy ahead of time, just like in the movie Minority Report, they could’ve prevented it from happening.

So now we can all breathe a sigh of relief and feel far better about ourselves because, by not managing to murder our children, we’ve gotta be far better than this guy.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go interview the third cousin twice removed of the brother of the chauffeur who worked for Kourtney Kardashian in the mid 90’s. He lives right here in Maple Park and I’m sure he’ll provide the kind of fascinating family insights that no one else possibly could.

September 15, 2014 / jeffnward

What happened to the local news? – part I

It’s like watching a good friend light up another cigarette. In your heart, you know it’s nothing more than an ugly method of slow suicide, but you also understand that he’s completely addicted to the process.

So as you sit there, the question becomes, at the risk of concerned overtures being perceived as incessant nagging, which is never an effective tactic, do you point out the folly of his deleterious ways in hopes he’ll finally give it up, or do you simply keep your mouth shut?

Clearly, I fall into the former group which may well explain my vast popularity.

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So even though my attempts to enlighten my newspaper brethren have clearly crossed that carping threshold line, and there really isn’t all that much hope left at this point, I refuse to stay silent because local newspapers’ survival is far too important.

While zipping through the main section of the Sunday Tribune, much like the late Clara Peller, I found myself suddenly shouting to no one in particular, “Where’s the beef?” The paper started off well enough with a great headline story on Bruce Rauner’s rapidly fading electoral hopes, but then the rest of it broke down like this.

The two remaining front page pieces were medical stories. There’s anything wrong with medical stories, but unless you’re covering a cure for cancer, they clearly belong in the magazine or features section. Neither one had anything to do with Chicago either.

Page two provided yet another opportunity for John Kass to go off of on the President. Apparently he doesn’t think his 739 previous pieces on the same tired old subject have had any effect whatsoever. Yes John! We get it! Barack Obama is the very embodiment of the Anti-Christ. So now can you finally write about something else?

Then, to cap it off, Mary Schmich’s page three column considers a quandary that weighs heavily upon all our shoulders – whether or not to publicly shame a public park smoker. Personally, I’d be a little more concerned with keeping the bullets, drugs and wilding mobs out of Chicago parks.

Call me crazy, but if cigarette smoke is the worst thing you have to contend with, you’re way ahead of the Chicago curve.

In summary, of the 15 total stories between the front and Perspective pages, two covered valid Illinois issues (Rauner and IDOT), while only three had something to do with the city of Chicago. Of that trio, one was Schmich’s inane piece and another covered two new pedestrian bridges on the south lakefront

Be still my beating heart.

Only the article on the lingering toxic tank rail car threat was a real Chicago news story and it was kinda buried!

It’s not that some of the other pieces weren’t newsworthy. But again, a charity event, a teen founded website for the mentally ill, first ladies’ role in presidential libraries, and a family squabble over a Skokie photographer’s legacy all belong in the magazine or Lifestyle section.

Where’s the inside look at mayoral challenger Bob Fioretti? Rick Pearson would do a phenomenal job on that one. Where’s the story on Rahm’s reaction to his uppity 2nd Ward Alderman challenger? How will Darth Madigan figure into that contest?

Bruce Rauner and Jim Oberweis aside, what about all those state rep races? Where’s the story on the new Chicago FBI headquarters follies? How about an in-depth piece on how the CPD’s inability to effectively contend with a splintered street gang structure is the proximate cause of so many murders?

They didn’t do any of that, but the Trib did do a page three piece on former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s recent parting from his former Argentinian “soul mate.” For a minute there, I thought I was reading the Enquirer.

I don’t care what anyone says, the Chicago Tribune is a local newspaper. Their “local” may be a little bit bigger than most of ours, but the bulk of their readers share a common reality. And the one thing for which those remaining print media readers regularly clamor is, hyper-local news. It’s a very simple concept.

I’m not saying the Trib shouldn’t cover national and international news stories, but there’s a separate section for that. C’mon! I used to savor the front page portion of that paper and it’s inevitably pithy contents, but now I’m done with it in five minutes.

What the bleep happened to the local news?

And Mike Royko, who’s doing 3600 rpms in his final resting place, thought Rupert Murdoch was the worst of his worries!

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