It’s almost always an inside job

Had Dante Alighieri written his epic Divine Comedy today, there would be a tenth circle of hell in which the final and most fearful ring would be airports. I cannot imagine a fate worse than that which befell those lost souls attempting to get out of Chicago last weekend.

Standing in an eternal line amidst a mass of desperate travelers as you watch any hope of escape fade like the color from your fellow flyers’ faces, has got to be the very definition of damnation.

Since I’m sure you’ve already read the news stories, suffice it to say that one disgruntled Aurora Air Traffic Center employee just wreaked the kind of national air traffic havoc that the best international terrorist could only dream of.

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We don’t have the final word yet, but we do know this “gentleman” wasn’t too happy with some recent staff shakeups and decided to take facility and himself down with it. Luckily, he wasn’t completely successful with either endeavor, though I’m sure the flyers who fear ever having to see the word “canceled” again wouldn’t describe themselves as “lucky.”

But there is a lesson we can take away from this massive misfortune and that message is that this was yet another inside job. There was no terrorist sleeper cell, no Hydra-esque conspiracy to render us as compliant as sheep, and no foreign government intelligence agency doing their damndest to bring us to our knees.

It was just one pissed off guy. And that’s the way it almost always is. Not only does life fall far outside those random parameters, but the term “random violence” is actually an oxymoron.

With one exception in the Amish community, people don’t just walk off the street and start shooting up a school. Every last perpetrator – even those with a mental illness – has had a major connection to their chosen venue. And they typically leave a trail a mile long.

All the Chicago shootings are far from coincidental. The real problem is that some folks will inevitably get caught in all that gang war crossfire.

Our two recent Kane County murders weren’t random. One man stabbed his grandmother over money while the other strangled his wife over an affair. The police know that 80 to 90 percent of murder victims knew their attacker so they always head for family first.

I can understand why my school district moved a bus stop from proximity to a sex offender’s home, but the truth is, virtually every pedophile grooms their victims – sometimes for months – before any actual abuse occurs.

Ed Snowden, the subprime mortgage crash, Enron, Lehman Brothers, Bernie Madoff, Arthur Andersen, and most cases of corporate espionage were all inside jobs. There’s a reason the myth of the nefarious “other” who descends upon Earth’s hapless inhabitants to destroy our cities and steal our beer only happens in H. G. Wells novels and Marvel movies.

And the unyielding irony is, because we’re so willing to buy into it, we’re inviting a far more dangerous form of cultural cancer than the few mass shootings that actually do appear to be random could ever cause. (Though if we had a better mental health care safety net, even those could be eliminated.) Whenever we choose to exist in a state of perpetual unfounded fear, there are always those politicians and panderers more than willing to step in and fill the void.

To wit, the NRA would have us believe there’s a threat around every white suburban corner, while conservative Republicans love to proclaim they’ll “take back our country” from a variety of imagined threats that would make the average paranoid schizophrenic downright jealous.

Meanwhile, while we scan the philosophical horizon for the ubiquitous bad guys who never seem to show up, the folks who whisper in our ear with an arm around our shoulder are making our worst fears come true. It didn’t take a radical Muslim despot to almost destroy our financial system! We accomplished that all by ourselves!

We really gotta start looking in the right direction folks!

So while the TSA has yet to nab a single terrorist, one unhappy employee set a fire and took out O’Hare and Midway airports for the better part of a weekend. And I guarantee you, when the final investigative smoke clears, this event will come as a surprise to absolutely no one.

Though I’m equally convinced that the answer will have to be more guns!

Another great piece by Dave Gathman

Yesterday, Courier-News reporter Dave Gathman joined for the debate in the WRMN studios and, as usual, he summed up the proceedings up perfectly. But why listen to me ramble on when you can read it for yourself right here!

gathmanI would heartily encourage you to read Dave’s work on a regular basis because he’s the last old-school reporter out here and he regularly provides the kind of insights that are sorely lacking in today’s local newspaper coverage.

The Left, Right and You 9-25-14 debate is right here…

Again, Larry and I want to thank Jeff Meyer and Anna Moeller for choosing our venue for one of their debates. We also want to thank the candidates for setting the political discourse bar so high. This is the way it should be folks! The vast majority of voters want to hear your thoughts on the issues and not what you think about the other candidate.

And Larry and I hope you listen carefully to this show. You have a real choice here folks – one that doesn’t boil down to the lesser of two evils. There are major differences, subtle differences and outright similarities. You now have the ammunition to choose wisely!

Enjoy the show!

This is your Left, Right and You great debate promo!

I’m sure you already know today’s 1.5 hour installment of Left, Right and You will feature a debate between 43rd District State Rep candidates Jeff Meyer and Anna Moeller (in alphabetical order).

In that vein, and since the ancillary players are at it again, Larry and I would like to clearly stipulate that neither candidate as much as hinted at any kind of demand before before appearing on the show. In fact, both Anna and Jeff have been very gracious about the entire proceeding.

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Larry and I set the debate ground rules before inviting the candidates and, with help from listener JoAnn Armenta and Courier-News reporter Dave Gathman, Larry and I came up with the debate questions ourselves. In an effort to be reasonably thorough and accurate, I read the questions to Oberweis legislative aide Kim Murphy and Elgin Mayor Dave Kaptain, both of whom were sworn to secrecy.

We also welcome your debate input at 847-931-1410. Producer Dave Weiser will take your calls and pose your questions.

That’s Left, Right and You, today at 3 p.m. on WRMN AM1410. We certainly hope you’ll join us!

This ain’t a campaign, it’s a train wreck

Have I mentioned that a good political friend likes to say that whenever any red-blooded American runs for office, they immediately slough off 30 percent of their brain cells? Considering my own experiences with candidates (and one in particular), I’d actually put it a lot closer to two-thirds of ‘em.

While there are certainly those political hopefuls who are so nuts out of the gate that any intellectual descent would be difficult to discern, it’s amazing how normally rational adults lose their minds the minute they throw their hat in the ring.

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Much like it is with a multi-car crash, whenever one of these well-intentioned folks goes completely off the rails, you really don’t wanna look, but can’t keep your eyes off it either. And the current state of the Rauner campaign is a particularly perfect example of this phenomenon.

Beset by the slow Chinese water torture drip of the ongoing GTCR nursing home federal bankruptcy trial, Bruce’s people decided they needed to change the conversation.

The problem with their obfuscation theory is, you can only take advantage of the average voter’s short attention span if the story ain’t in the bleepin’ Tribune every single bleepin’ day. When faced with that kind of coverage, your only option is to face reporters head on, answer their questions, and do your damndest to put it to bed.

We all know that ain’t exactly Rauner’s forte. C’mon! This is the guy who barred some eager Columbia College journalism students from one of his press conferences.

So instead of taking that bull by the horns, those great Rauner campaign minds got together and decided to go Willie Horton on us by attacking a Quinn early release program in which a purported parolee shot and killed 9 year-old Chicagoan Antonio Smith.

The only problem with that contention was, it was actually the Illinois Department of Corrections who turned this guy loose after serving half of a 3.5 year gun-related sentence. And they used a state law that applies to all convicts who can earn time off for good behavior – not an early release program.

Not only that, but after correctly determining he’d have to appeal to moderate Democrats to prevail, I can’t figure out how Rauner thought the Horton tactic would help him. Republicans fall for it all the time, but they’re gonna vote for him anyway. Meanwhile, the vision of George H. W. Bush appealing to our lower angels still leaves a bad taste in many Dems’ mouths.

Even more baffling, in an effort to win black votes, the Rauner campaign resorted to the audio from a 1987 interview in which the late Harold Washington explains why he fired then Chicago Revenue Director Pat Quinn.

Oh lord! First, we’re talking about something that occurred 27 years ago. Second, Dan Hynes did the same thing during the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial primary only to have it blow up in his face. And most importantly, third, you have to believe Pat Quinn was competent to begin with for this to work. So in the end, Mayor Washington is only telling us something we already know.

Meanwhile, like legionnaires lost in the desert, Illinois voters are dying for a drop of sanity in a state that’s teetering on the edge of a fiscal abyss. But instead of hammering that message home and providing some sort of sentient solution, Rauner, like most Republicans, would rather attack his opponent instead.

And they aren’t even very good attacks!

When pressed by reporters for particulars, instead of providing details, Rauner loves to respond with “I’ve been successful at everything I’ve ever done!” Bruce! I hate to have to tell you this, but you’re about to find out exactly what failure feels like!

One more day till the debate!

Hey radio fans! The reason there was no new blog post yesterday is because Larry and I were hunkered down in the Left, Right and You bunker doing our damndest to come up with some great debate questions. And with a little help from our friends, we believe we did just that.

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So we want to thank listener Jo Ann Armenta for wading in via LeftRightandYou@hotmail.com with three cogent questions. And crack Courier-News reporter Dave Gathman came up with the kind of potential topic list that can only be called “comprehensive!” Talk about going above and beyond the call of duty!. We certainly won’t have time to touch on all of them, but we’ll do our best to get as many in as possible. Thanks Dave!

Of course, we’re talking about the 43rd District State Rep Left, Right and You debate between Jeff Meyer and Anna Moeller tomorrow, September 25, at 3 p.m. on WRMN AM1410.

If you’re so moved, please call 847-931-1410 and producer Dave Weiser might just ask your question on the air.  Larry and I hope you’re looking forward to tomorrow just as much as we are!

The luckiest man alive!

Here’s what I want to know. Why does God love the governor so much more than me – or you for that matter? Despite all those St. Nick’s priestly declarations, the Big Guy clearly does play favorites.

And you have to ask yourself, “Why Pat Quinn?” He’s not a bad guy, but he’s certainly nothing special. He can’t lead, he’s not that bright, and he has all the charisma of Peter Francis Geraci.

With no other possibility to consider, I thought perhaps God developed a penchant for bald white middle-aged males, but if that’s the case I’d be doing a hell of a lot better.

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You have to admit, like a modern day Moses, the political Red Sea continually parts for this man in a manner that never ceases to astound or confound. I’m convinced if you crack open the Miriam-Webster towards the end of the L’s, you’ll find the governors portrait directly adjacent to the word “luck.”

Think about it!

The only reason he managed to make it to that mansion is because Rod Blagojevich flippantly dismissed his father-in-law’s first machine commandment by insisting on saying certain things out loud. I’m pretty sure Pat was just as surprised as we were to see him take the oath of office.

Then, staring straight down the gullet of a massive anti-Democratic 2010 midterm backlash, the Guv actually raised taxes – by 66 percent! – and every last political oddsmaker put his chances somewhere between slim and none.

But Quinn won that race because fate stepped in and handed him the only GOP opponent he could actually beat – Sen. Bill Brady.

Instead of nominating Kirk Dillard or Dan Rutherford – who would’ve cleaned Quinn’s clock – Republican voters fell for the “conservative” candidate who coquettishly batted his eyelashes at them the most. But Brady went down in flames because he didn’t work hard enough and, unless your opponent gets photographed on his front lawn fuckin’ a goat, the “I’m not the other guy” strategy doesn’t work!

So we got four more years of Pat and as that jackass Dr. Phil likes to say, “How’s that working out for ya?”

With nothing better to do, we’ve been sitting on our hands, holding our breath, and hoping, like in that Buffy series finale, the entire state didn’t get sucked into the ground before we could elect someone else.

But no! Once again God seems to have gubernatorial aspirations for our propitious Pat.

And those plans began to unfold with the 2014 primaries. Instead of coming to some sort of compromise, the Three Stooges decided to run again and, with Messrs. Brady, Dillard and Rutherford splitting the vote, Bruce Rauner lustfully limped into the winner’s circle.

Then, to prove that God must have a great sense of humor, the Rauner campaign knocked Rutherford out of contention. Had they not pulled that off, not only would Rutherford have dispensed with Bruce, but he would’ve crushed Quinn too.

So once again, with four separate options, Illinois Republican voters nominated one of the two candidates who couldn’t beat the Governor on his best day.

But God wasn’t through yet! Oh no! To seal his anointed’s anointment, with the polls neck and neck, He made sure the GTCR – Tans Healthcare nursing home sale trial started this week.

And those proceedings opened with a videotaped deposition depicting disheveled and disoriented wheelchair-bound graphic artist, Barry Saacks, who disavowed any knowledge of the nursing home company he ostensibly owned. As far as he knew, he said, he may have purchased a computer company from a GTCR partner at the time.

Then GTCR attorneys, with straight faces, argued that this couldn’t be a sham sale secured solely for the purpose of avoiding liability because the investment company had no idea they’d face a billion dollars in wrongful death lawsuits.

It doesn’t take a genius to imagine just how the Quinn campaign will turn that taped testimony into a devastating television ad. And this federal bankruptcy trial is only getting started with the Tribune covering it every bleepin’ step of the way.

So God! Why don’t you love me nearly as much as you love Pat Quinn? What have I done right? I can be incompetent. I can run a state into the ground. I can come up with silly non-sequiturs like Squeezy the Python. Have you read my columns? And I’m just as bald as he is – maybe even more.

All I can say is, it’s probably not a good idea to stand anywhere near Bruce Rauner in a thunderstorm and it really is better to be lucky than smart.

Stick a fork in him – he’s done!

Scene 1 – Black and white. A close-up of a lone bald-headed man perched atop a rock with a despondent look on his face. The camera slowly pans back to reveal a desolate landscape littered with the campaign literature of losing candidates from time immemorial as far as the eye can see.

The man on the rock is considering a small, round object lightly clutched in his steady right hand. The camera shifts left and comes back in to reveal a 2014 Oberweis for U.S. Senate button. The man sighs and launches into the following soliloquy:

“Alas poor Jim! I knew him, dear voters: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?”

Then the man casually tosses the button into the rest of the pile and the camera slowly fades to black.

OK, OK! Perhaps that was a bit melodramatic. But you have to admit that a mental picture is often worth well more than 10,000 words!

Jim Oberweis

A few weeks back, we mused on the possibility of Mr. Oberweis pulling off some sort of an upset. Some polls had him just 7 points behind, he hadn’t accidentally shot off an important body part lately, and maybe, just maybe, if Senator Durbin came down with a case of terminal overconfidence, the “on any given Sunday” phenomenon might just resurface.

Hey! If Eric Cantor can lose to a nobody, it proves that political life can become that proverbial box of chocolates.

Ah! But as is so often the case with all forms of wishful thinking, my hopes were summarily dismantled this weekend with the kind of brutal precision that demonstrates exactly why Dick Durbin has swept away a host of GOP contenders with a mere flick of the wrist.

And this figurative surgical political scalpel arrived in the form of two separate TV commercials I witnessed while watching the Cubs get clobbered this weekend. Considering Jim’s electoral history, the irony of that placement certainly wasn’t lost on me.

The first shows a very nice looking young blond mother who tearfully describes the day her husband’s helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. She tells us he now suffers from a traumatic brain injury. She says, “Senator Durbin passed a law that provided me with the resources and the training, so that I am able to take care of Tony at home. I believe that for Dick Durbin it’s not about politics he cares for veterans and their families.”

Of course, you have to give this amazing woman a boatload of credit for sticking with a situation that would send the rest of us frantically screaming into the nearby woods. The commercial ends with the couple and their two children playing in the backyard.

Game over! Durbin didn’t even need to run the second ad.

In just 61 seconds, without mentioning his opponent or the other party, Senator Durbin reminded us of how Washington Republicans have voted down virtually every attempt to help veterans. He left viewers with the kind of visceral reaction that they will carry with them to the polls on November 4th.

Now, you all know I am not easily swayed, but the sacrifices of those who’ve served in Afghanistan suddenly became much more real. And the Republicans who have so easily tossed our veterans aside became that much more despicable.

The second spot is only 30 seconds, but it’s almost as effective.

It opens with cameos of various 30-something middle-class folks declaring the depth of their college loan debt. Then the camera shifts to Durbin who talks about fighting for a law that would allow college loans to be refinanced at lower interest rates. He sums it  up with this devastatingly simple statement, “After all, if you can refinance a car loan and a home loan, why can’t you refinance a student loan?”

Once again, never alluding to Oberweis, who’s political past is ripe for the pluckin’, Durbin reminds us of how the GOP bends over backwards for out wealthiest citizens, but they regularly tell the rest of us to go pound sand.

And remember, I am no fan of the arrogant Democratic Senator from Illinois, but the truth is, if more national Democrats availed themselves of Durbin’s campaign team, it would be all over for the GOP. This is how you remind regular folks that they need to get their asses off the couch and vote for their own self-interest.

Jim! You know I love you and how much I hate being the bearer of bad news, but it’s over! Even if you decided to spend the rest of your fortune on television countermeasures, you’re going down by double digits. So this round, you can head down to Florida and make your wife happy without having to fret about the papers making such a big deal out of it.

At least you have something to look forward to; all we have is Dick Durbin.

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.

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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.

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!