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.