Your First Ward Roving Reporter – What’s real and what isn’t!

Yesterday we talked about facts over fear and I truly appreciate all the responses to that piece because you all “got it!” The coronavirus era may not be my idea of a good time, but it doesn’t mean the sky is about fall anytime soon, either.

The problem is, between that persistent news media Chicken Littleness, and all the sudden social media prophets with their portents of doom, it’s gonna take a lot more than yours truly to turn this tempestuous tide.

Put more simply, I’m duly deputizing each and every one of you to aid me in my pursuit of bringing critical thinking back, because we collectively need to push back against the panic which will make this pandemic worse on every level.

So, lets examine some of unfortunate memes and stories that have been thrust upon us in just the last 24 hours. And the first is that photo of Italian Army trucks transporting coffins to be cremated as that country’s coronavirus death toll surpasses China’s.

All I can say is, there are times I truly wish a picture wasn’t worth a thousand words.

Corona Virus

Again, Italy is the second oldest country on the planet which makes them particularly susceptible to this disease, and as the Tribune reported this morning, 87 percent of the Italians who perished were over 70 years old.

The death toll there is further exacerbated by an overwhelmed health care system such that doctors have been forced to provide ventilators only to patients under 80. Worse yet, according to the Chinese experts currently working with the Italian government, that country still isn’t taking this pandemic seriously, so it’s become somewhat of a perfect storm there.

Then we have California Governor Gavin Newsom claiming 56 percent of his state will be infected within eight weeks.

I’ve thoroughly reviewed the CDC worst case coronavirus curves this morning, and unless Californians start randomly kissing each other on the street, there’s no way more than half of the state can contract that disease in two short months.

If that was the case, considering what the virus has done there, 35 million Italians would already have it and not the current 41,000.

Could California eventually go there? With no suppression efforts, of course! But even then, it would take at least a year for it to fully pan out, not eight weeks! We’re still below China’s initial infection curve, which means the Governor’s statement is patently false and beyond reckless.

My best guess is, Newsome is trying to get Californians to take this much more seriously, but as we all know, making dire “sky is falling” pronouncements tends to solicit an equal and opposite reaction which actually undermines our collective efforts to flatten the curve.

Next!

Another meme declares an Iranian is dying every 10 minutes, which is true, but what they fail to mention is that’s an interim statistical peak and their total death toll still stands at only 1,284. That country also faces the kind of severe sanctions that mean medical providers are treating victims without masks. Their citizens, who don’t trust their authoritarian government, are ignoring quarantines and travel restrictions.

If the Iranians continue down that path, as you might imagine, it will get much worse.

And lastly, European and American doctors are suddenly saying that half of covid-19 ICU beds are occupied by folks under 50. First, please note that it’s NOT half of the total cases, it’s 50 percent of hospital patients who require critical care.

It’s very important to make that distinction.

Again, what those sound bites don’t impart is the following, according to the CDC:

  • 0               percent of ages 0 to 19 hospitalizations require ICU care
  • 2 – 4.2      percent of ages 20 to 44
  • 4 to 10.4  percent of ages 45 to 54
  • 7 to 11.2  percent of ages 55 to 64

And the hospitalization stats range from 1.6 percent for 19-year-olds and under, to 20 to 30 percent for coronavirus sufferers aged 55 to 64. So, the number of ICU admission is actually quite small, but when you extrapolate them across the entire U.S. population, our ICUs would be quickly overwhelmed if the disease progress unchecked.

Another factor in these younger ICU entries is, per Trump administration experts, young folks aren’t taking this pandemic very seriously. We’ve all seen the photos of packed Florida beaches and hosts of New Orleans Mardi Gras revelers. Then, fully believing themselves to be immortal, when they do get the disease, they don’t seek medical care until it’s kicking their posteriors.

So! Now that you’re part of our new critical thinking force, please logically push back against those news reports and social media scions who would have folks believe their death is imminent, because nothing could be further from the truth.

Please don’t get me wrong! I’m not trying to minimize anything, I’m simply trying to put our current situation in perspective!

Meanwhile, let’s keep up with the social distancing and hand washing, and I promise I’ll get back to the lighter and more humorous posts, perhaps as soon as this weekend.

The First Ward Roving Reporter – Facts, not fear!

(For those who were unaware, I’ve been posting Roving Reporter coronavirus pieces on various Facebook group pages. Given their unexpected popularity, I’ve decided to post them here, too. Though this one may be tomorrow’s Quick Hits.)

 

FDR famously proffered it’s the only thing to fear. Gavin De Becker called it a gift! So, which is it? Much like the indeterminate fate of Schrodinger’s cat, it’s both!

If, while shopping at Meijer, someone gets a bit too close and your spider sense makes you reflexively back off, that fear is a good thing. But if you run down ten pregnant women and twelve small children in an effort to hoard the last eight packages of Charmin, that fear is a problem.

What distinctly separates Homo Sapiens from animals is our capacity to manage fear. My eldest dog Oreo’s survived hundreds of thunderstorms, but despite that repeated reality, she’ll tremble and stick to me like glue when the next one rolls around.

Trust me! I do understand that, when it comes to managing our instinctual trepidation, the media doesn’t make it easy! It’s like having to endure thunderstorm after thunderstorm after thunderstorm.

To wit, today’s CNN bold Net coronavirus headline blares, “U.S. cases soar by 40 percent,” which makes you want to cower in the crawlspace. Of course they did! When there are just 6,400 (reported) nationwide cases, all it takes is a mere 2,600 more for that number to jump by 40 percent.

And a great part of that spike is coronavirus test kits are suddenly becoming more available, but CNN doesn’t tell you that!

Facts Not Fear

Think about it this way! If your local political campaign has ten volunteers, it’s not too terribly difficult to acquire four more. But if you have 100 helping hands, finding another forty is highly unlikely. We call it “the law of diminishing returns.”

So, when you’re in the early stages of a pandemic, those seemingly “soaring” increases are exactly what the experts expect. Even President Trump’s guy explained that, while the curve will inevitably rise, they’re counting on social distancing to flatten it and save our health care system.

But most of us don’t understand probability and that fear is compounded by the media consistently cherry picking outliers for the ratings spike. We like to think that, five heads in a row means there’s no shot of George Washington showing up a sixth time. But like it is with every flip of that shiny new quarter, there’s a 50 percent chance it will turn up heads.

If you want to better understand probably and the incredible Second Law of Thermodynamics, I’d highly recommend Brian Greene’s newest book, ‘Until the End of Time.’ The worst thing that can happen is it will take your mind off the pandemic.

He explains probability this way. If you shake a box of 100 pennies, there’s a remote  possibility they’ll all turn up tails. If you shook the same box again, you’re a million times more likely to get 99 tails and one head. Shake it one more time and you have a billion billion billion better odds of seeing 50 tails and 50 heads.

But despite that irrefutable math, human nature inexplicably favors underdogs, bad bets and longshots. But now that we better understand probability, let’s take a closer look at China’s Hubei province where this whole thing started.

Of its 60 million inhabitants, only 68,000 caught the virus and that’s after China had completely botched their initial response. If you consider the number of unreported cases, that means just .2 percent of that province was infected.

Of those Hubei-ians with the coronavirus, only 3,122 perished. That puts the mortality rate at 4.6 percent or one in 23. Of those who died, 80 percent were 60 or older, and 75 percent of them had a preexisting condition like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

And here’s what the media doesn’t tell you! Hubei province has an incredible 45 percent smoking rate, and smokers do not fare well with the coronavirus. They also play host to some of the worst air pollution on the planet. So, even in a province where health care is iffy and almost half the population smokes, the average resident stood a .005 percent chance of dying from the disease.

And that number would further plummet if you counted the suspected number of unreported cases

Meanwhile, in the U.S., where our leaders chose not to fully prepare for it, we have 9,000 reported cases with 149 deaths. What that means is, the mortality rate, FOR PEOPLE WHO HAD THE DISEASE is 1.6 percent, less than half that of Hubei. Again, if we added the vast number of unreported cases due to lack of testing kits, it would likely be one-third that.

So, yes! American will die of the coronavirus. But if you’re under 65 with no preexisting condition and you don’t smoke, the odds of being one of ‘em are infinitesimal. “So, Jeff! It it’s not that bad, then why are we going through all the social distancing and shutting down stuff?”

That’s a great question! First, we’re trying to protect the elderly. Fifteen percent of our population is 65 or older, and if just five percent of them get sick, it will utterly overwhelm our hospitals and health care providers.

Our grandparents fought in World War I and survived the Spanish Influenza. Our parents survived the Great Depression and fought in World War II. And all we’re being asked to do is plant our butts on the couch and binge watch ‘Outlander?’ I’m not so sure the word “sacrifice” truly applies here.

Second, we’re trying to save health care workers’ lives. From what we’ve seen so far, the more you’re exposed to the coronavirus, the worse it will be when you catch it. My favorite medical source told me nurses are sending their children to live with relatives while wondering if they’ll ever see them again.

Now that you better understand the statistical realities, please let go of the irrational fear, keep up the social distancing, wash your hands, and show some real gratitude for those doctors, nurses, and grocery store clerks who are so selflessly serving on the front lines by doing your damndest to keep them healthy!

 

 

Quick Hits – Your 2020 primary recap!

Particularly because we’re all corona virused-out and we could certainly use a diversion, let’s talk about yesterday’s fascinating Kane County-centric primary races.

As predicted, Jim Oberweis is, indeed, the 14th Congressional District Republican nominee, but he certainly didn’t run away with it. Had State Senator Sue Rezin merely run a marginally better campaign (no newspaper mailers), she would’ve easily made up that one percent margin.

Did Jim’s campaign finance shenanigans hurt him? I’m sure they did.

But that money laundering scheme didn’t disappoint me nearly as much as Jim, once again, fervently believing that no one would rat him out in this regard. C’mon Jim! Haven’t you learned not everyone’s your friend by now?

Given his poor showing, Jim will lose to incumbent Lauren Underwood by double digits.

Election Roundup

Meanwhile, distant third place finisher Cataline Lauf spent more than a quarter of a million dollars to finish with just 20 percent, or 8,801 votes! The final campaign finance reports aren’t in yet, and considering her late mailer blitz, those expenditures could top $300,000. But if we use that more conservative dollar amount, it comes out to a patently pathetic $28.40 per vote!

Clearly, she could’ve saved a bunch of cash and done much better if she simply offered voters ten bucks a pop!

Lauf, who wouldn’t know the truth if it bit her in the ass, said, “I learned that people are ready for excitement and new faces on the Republican side.” No Catalina! You ran a terrible campaign, you performed so poorly in public that your handlers “socially distanced” you, and I wouldn’t count on that MENSA application coming back anytime soon.

Like it is with any candidate, I give you credit for making the effort to run, but if you choose to run again, and you really shouldn’t, you’ll never do better than 20 percent of the vote.

An erudite friend noted that, without Lauf in the race, Rezin would’ve won! So you can that Catalina for presenting us with Jim Oberweis one more time!

Moving on!

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Jeanne Ives mauled Jay Kinzler in the 6th Congressional with a whopping 70 percent of the vote, but she will lose to Sean Casten in November.

Meanwhile, Marie Newman beat Dan Lipinski by four points in the 4th, Raj Krishnamoorthi obliterated two opponents with an incredible 80 percent of the vote in the 8th, and Bill Foster beat Rachel Ventura by a healthy 17-point margin in the 11th.

Back to the more local races!

Matha Paschke destroyed perennial candidate Mo Iqball by two-to-one in the District 65 state rep race, Barabara Hernandez retained her 88th seat by a slightly larger margin, and Allen Skillicorn made mincemeat out of Carolyn Schofield in the 66th with 70 percent of the vote tally there.

In the State Senate, 22nd District incumbent Cristina Castro mopped the floor with opponent Rae Yawer, and in a bit of surprise, Jeannette Ward blew out perennial candidate Beth Goncher by 19 points in the 25th.

Per our previous conversations, Goncher is a terrible candidate with a poor campaign work ethic. How else could someone with her name recognition and late influx of cash lose to a generally unknown and underfunded radical conservative? I’m sure it won’t be the case, but let’s hope this is the last we’ll see of Goncher and her campaign manager who loses two-thirds of her races.

In the end, Ward will lose to Karina Villa, turning that district over to the Democrats for the first time in its history.

Conversely, because of her willingness to pound the pavement Jamie Mosser mauled Junaid “J.” Afeef by two-to-one, despite being outspent five-to-one.

My best guess is, Afeef commissioned a late poll and went bizarrely negative in the final week in an attempt to catch up. In my 24 years in Kane County, I’ve never seen such blatant mailer lies in a countywide race, which, once again, proves that negative campaigning does not work at the local level.

Mosser will beat Republican opponent Bob Spence in November.

But the biggest surprise of the night – and recent election day history – was Corrine Pierog’s utter destruction of Greg Ellsbree with a wholly unexpected 70 percent of the vote in the Dem county chairman race.

Pierog, to whom I’ve previously applied my favorite political appellation “loon,” never came close to beating Oberweis for State Senate and, as far as I can tell, she didn’t even bother to campaign this time. I saw no mailers, there were scattered signs, and I have no indication she knocked on doors, either. I understand there’s some name recognition involved here, but if someone can explain this one to me, I’m all ears!

I still say Dave Rickert, who was instrumental in the ‘So You Want to Win a Local Election’ book process, will beat her in November. Pierog is not a good candidate, but Ellsbree must be worse!

Now for the more interesting county board races!

Despite my advice to the contrary, outgoing Chairman Chris Lauzen’s insistence on going after District 10 incumbent Susan Starrett did not propel her to a victory. Former Batavia Alderman Dave Brown beat her by 12.5 points, and trust me, it wasn’t the negative campaigning that did Starrett in, it was Brown’ work ethic that did the trick.

Meanwhile, in a battle of the incumbents – both have held the seat – Ron Ford beat Matt Hanson by a scant 18 votes! Yes! Sixty-four absentee ballots are still out there, but statistically, only 32 will come back in the next two weeks. That means Hanson needs 26, or 81 percent of those votes, to turn it around and that’s a statistical impossibility.

Hanson has yet to concede the race.

And now I can tell you I was Ron’s paid campaign manager and he was a joy to work with. I love it when people listen because they typically win when they do!

As for the rest of the board races:

  • Dale Berman beat Richard Leonard in the 2nd
  • Mavis Bates beat incumbent Angela Thomas in the 4th
  • Verne Tepe beat perennial candidate Randy Hopp in the 22nd
  • And Mark Davoust beat Steve Oscarson in the 14th

Oh! And with Joe Biden’s three primary victories last night, stick a fork in Bernie Sanders, he’s done. Please do the right thing for the Party and drop out Mr. Sanders!

Second-to-lastly, my Stetson’s off to Election Director Ray Esquivel and the entire Kane County Clerk’s Office for what appears to be a flawless performance under the most difficult election conditions I’ve borne witness to in 61 years.

And lastly, more than one moving-on-to-the-general Republican reached out to me terrified that only 24,000 Republicans cast a primary ballot to 50,500 scurrilous Democrats. But if anyone counts on that two-to-one split in November, they’ll be sadly disappointed. There was no top tier race to bring out those GOP voters, and the coronavirus only exacerbated that stay at home mentality.

Put more simply, Trump v. Biden may well mean a record turnout on both sides.

As is always the case with the election recap columns, I look forward to your questions and comments!

Quick Hits – Wherever you go, there you are!

That’s the Zen version of Confucius’ “No matter where you go, there you are” axiom, but regardless of the iteration, we are most certainly “here.” And “here” is a brand-new place even for a 61-year-old journalist who thought he’d seen and written about everything.

And by “new place,” I don’t mean working from home and “social distancing.” That’s nothing new to me. But no English Premier League, no Cubs or White Sox, no dance classes, no Graham Nash at ECC, and no going out to eat really is a rather strange place.

Normally, I delight in avoiding the rabble, but it’s not nearly as much fun when you’re forced to do it. And the absurd amount panic is something new, too! But since that’s far more dangerous than any virus could possibly be, let’s review!

While the coronavirus unduly affects our senior citizens, and particularly those with preexisting conditions, it doesn’t threaten those under 50 in nearly the same way. Again, the covid-19 mortality rate for per age group is:

  • 0  to 39 – .2 percent or 1 in 500
  • 40 to 49 – .4 percent or 1 in 250
  • 50 to 59 – 1.3 percent or 1 in 76
  • 60 to 69 – 3.6 percent or 1 in 27

And those statistics include Wuhan China, where medicine ain’t exactly the best. In addition, what those stats don’t consider is the plethora of mild non-reported cases where the sufferers simply thought they had a bad cold, or the flu, and never went to a doctor. Add that factor into the mix and those younger mortality rates get cut in half.

Please remember, as bad as the media is making this pandemic out to be, only 6,000 have succumbed worldwide with the majority of covid-19 deaths coming in China. The reason we’re suddenly being so careful here is 15 percent of the U.S. population is 65 or older, and if just five percent of them got sick at the same time, it would quickly overwhelm the available hospital beds and ventilators.

So, we make sacrifices for the greater good! It is a trait that generally separates humans from animals – perhaps only on good days, but it’s a start!

But the panicking needs to stop, and it needs to stop now. If you read my “roving reporter” weekend Facebook posts, Sunday morning grocery shopping at the St. Charles’ Meijer was just like your average Monday morning. With some minor exceptions, the shelves were well stocked, people were nonplussed, and we walked right up to a lineless checkout counter.

As an aside, some of your collective responses to those “weekend reports” were both hilarious and heart-warming. Don’t ever do that again! But I digress.

So, precautions, yes! But panic and hoarding, no!

I certainly understand avoiding any major crowd, but what I don’t understand is the current cowering in the crawlspace mentality. It’s not as if they cancelled ‘The Masked Singer!’ My friends at Big Bear Painting have seen a slew of cancellations which makes absolutely no sense. Since I don’t plan on kissing a painter of either gender anytime soon, we just asked them to hit a few rooms here.

We continue to have our floors redone by Homeworks of Batavia, and given J. B.’s two-week restaurant ban, we’ll be ordering carryout from Chef Abdul’s in St. Charles this evening.

And while we’re all “here,” even if it’s simply out of respect for the annual flu, let’s eliminate the unnecessary and plague imparting act of shaking hands. Comedian Bill Maher suggests embracing the Japanese tradition of bowing, but I’m convinced that single handed Vulcan salute would be a heck of a lot more fun.

Vulcan Salute!

Who doesn’t want to “Live long and prosper?”

When we get through this, and we will get through this, let’s reconsider the notion of reasonable national health care. Nothing spreads a pandemic faster than folks who have no paid sick days, and those who can’t afford to see a doctor. You don’t think heavy political contributors like health insurance companies work for us, do you?

Even the government couldn’t possibly “screw” our health care system “up” any more than it is right now. The “retail” prices on pharmaceuticals like insulin and asthma medications go so far beyond price gouging it isn’t funny!

We humans are only as strong as our weakest link.

Since we have no choice but to collectively endure the coronavirus, I can’t help but consistently return to John Donne’s famous sermon, ‘Meditation 17:’

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

If our parents can successfully navigate two World Wars and the Great Depression, the least we can do is endure this pandemic with our dignity reasonably intact. So, instead of panicking, let’s consider the elderly and those paycheck-to-paycheck folks who are going to have a really tough time with this shutdown and respond accordingly.

Let’s remember that, while most of us will be just fine, we have a duty to ensure those who are at risk are taken care of first. Let’s not forget that, as the late great Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall once said, “The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in time of crisis.”

So, let’s be great!

Quick Hits – What’s wrong with you people?

As you might imagine, I’ve been called many things in my oft-bizarre 14 years at the keyboard, not the least of which are:

dull, dullard, deficient, dunce, dense, stupid, silly, simple, thick, crazy, foolish, shortsighted, unintelligent, brainless, half-baked, half-witted, idiotic, insane, imbecilic, puerile, slow, dimwitted, mindless, moronic, nonsensical, simple-minded, senseless, irrelevant, laughable, ludicrous, absurd, irrational, preposterous, ridiculous, unreasonable, unwise, brainless, daft, feebleminded, harebrained, kooky, nutty, wacky, jackass, and so much more!

But yesterday, you m***********s finally managed hit me where it really hurts! I never thought the day would come when you’d debase yourselves by referring to me as something as heinous as a “Trump supporter!”

Oh! The ignominy!

The act that seemed to solicit this salacious sobriquet was my various evidence-based attempts to convince the social media rabble that, since the coronavirus doesn’t nearly amount to the bleepin’ black plague, there’s no bleepin’ need to panic.

You’d a thunk I’d said the Tooth Fairy isn’t real!

Runs on toilet papers (no pun intended), rubbing alcohol, bottled water, and Diet Coke? Really? The coronavirus doesn’t give you diarrhea, the CDC says soap is far more effective than rubbing alcohol, and no manner of virus can survive the rigors of a municipal water purification system.

Diet Coke? I’d love to hear some sort of reasonable explanation for that one, but please don’t tell me, because I’m sure it would be far too depressing.

And pallets of bottled water? What the f**k?

Store Shelves 2

Do any of you really believe this is gonna turn into some sort of zombie apocalypse where our infrastructure falls prey to the brain-thirsty undead horde! C’mon! Trump’s been trying to make that happen for the last four years and none of you appeared to be overly concerned.

Though, when you consider the psychotic multitudes descending upon Costco like a swarm of Charmin-eating locusts, perhaps a zombie apocalypse would actually be a step up!

Aside from persistent panic wreaking havoc with your immune system, please tell me some of you see the irony in a slew of stampeding shoppers massing in a relatively small warehouse store right smack in the middle of a coronavirus pandemic. No contagions there, right?

There are times I wish natural selection would get his fat ass up out of the Barca lounger and get back to work!

Especially considering our current cultural condition, just when you think no American could possibly come up with a concept to further disappoint me, they still manage to somehow disappoint me. To wit, one of our roving reporters just watched two old women get into a semi-physical fight over the last bag of Depends at her local Walmart.

Have I ever told you that truth is far stranger than fiction?

And if another one of you bleeps posts that insipid Northern Italy meme on Facebook, I swear my fellow curmudgeons will rise up in a way that will make covid-19 look like a bleepin’ walk in the park.

The coronavirus is doing more damage there because an astounding 30 percent of Northern Italians smoke. That’s double the U.S. rate, and my experts tell me this pathogen is particularly hard on smokers AND VAPERS! Italy’s also the “oldest” European nation with a median age of 47.3 compared to our 38.3.

But even then, their covid-19 mortality rate is only one in twenty.

I’ll say it again! If you’re over 60, if you’re a smoker, if you have a serious pre-existing condition like heart disease, diabetes or cancer, then you really have to be careful with this one. But if you’re under 50, the mortality rate is between .2 to .4 percent, and that includes Wuhan, China, where lung health is poor and medical care consists of leeches and bloodletting.

And to the fascinating couple at last night’s Lewis Black’s ECC performance, if you wear your surgical masks over your mouth, but not your nose, you really bleepin’ deserve to get sick!

The number of global coronavirus deaths currently sits at approximately 5,000. Meanwhile, obesity will kill 300,000 Americans this year and we’re not seeing any sort of Jenny Craig stampede, now are we?

What I’m trying to say is, some of y’all m***********s really need to calm down, and you need to do it right now! In the unlikely event of a quarantine, even I enjoy the kind of friends who’d bring me tequila, so what’s the point in rushing out to Binny’s in an effort to hoard every last bottle of Cuervo?

Wouldn’t leaving some shit on the store shelves for the truly at-risk be the Christian thing to do? Of course, not!

Get enough sleep, eat reasonably well, stay hydrated, wash your damn hands, and, this too, shall pass. Trump supporter my bony white ass!

Quick Hits – The Wheels of Justice do Grind Slowly!

As previously discussed, Lady Justice’s blindfold does nothing more than provide her with the unique propensity to walk into walls and other stationary objects as she slowly feels her way to some sort of approximation and perhaps asymptotic approach to the truth.

And that’s particularly the case with my tri-level pursuit of the truth regarding the now 16-year-old Batavia High School student originally charged with possessing bomb making material.

Our first consideration is, despite what I’ve determined to be clear and convincing evidence in my theory’s favor, the 16th Circuit has yet to determine whether a blogger can legally attend a generally closed juvenile hearing. To be fair, those men and women in black are somewhat preoccupied with the potential coronavirus havoc to prioritize my quest for judiciary enlightenment.

I suggested the Chief Judge take the simple step of adopting the Vulcan salute as the official court greeting. C’mon! Who doesn’t like “live long and prosper?”

The bottom statutory line is, the “news media” is authorized to observe those hearings and the FOIA provision defines that term as:

a newspaper or other periodical issued at regular intervals whether in print or electronic format, a news service whether in print or electronic format…

Doesn’t that describe The First Ward to a T? With rare exception, I’ve produced three weekly 800-word columns since July of 2012.

Batavia High School 2

Chief Judge Clint Hull and I continue to assault this issue collaboratively and proactively, but should that eventual ruling go against me, considering that statutory quote, I have every reason to believe I’d prevail in the Second Appellate Court District – pro se.

That leads to my second concern which is my motivation for attending that juvenile hearing. The Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office will be asking the Judge Kathy Karrayannis to try this teenager as an adult, and not only am I morally and journalistically opposed to that move, but I want to hear their argument firsthand.

While any similar adult court motion would quickly become public record, the only way to understand the State’s logic – or lack thereof – is to be in that courtroom.

That leaves us with our third and most critical element in this factual pursuit – the effort to determine the best possible outcome for everyone involved. My continuing conviction is trying this child as an adult serves no purpose. It’s too easy, and if he manages to survive an adult correctional center, this teenager will eventually emerge only to wreak even more havoc.

But there’s a bit more to this story than I thought. As a result of some stellar sources, I’ve learned that, not only are the contents of this juvenile’s notebooks somewhat disconcerting, but the County issued psych eval is equally disturbing. Thankfully, true psychopaths are a rarity, and those same sources say this kid is still retrievable.

That means the obvious solution is to remand him to a juvenile facility till he’s 21, and any subsequent probation should carry a severe adult consequence component should it be violated in any way.

Put more simply, please tell me we haven’t gotten to the point where we’re callously willing to throw away a 16-year-old!

But what’s standing in the way of this eminently reasonable outcome is assistant state’s attorney Bridget Sabbia, who former coworkers describe as a “traditional” prosecutor. And by, “traditional” I mean one who believes in vastly overcharging in an effort to get a better deal.

True to that narrative, Sabbia and her bosses recently amended the original charges to include:

  • Attempted terrorism
  • Attempted causing a catastrophe
  • Attempted first degree murder
  • Eight counts of possession of explosives
  • Two counts of a misdemeanor hate crime

First, with so few public details, how can anyone possibly be charged with a hate crime? And second, these absurd overleveraged criminal counts are the equivalent of trying to kill a mosquito with a flamethrower. That’s a tactic most of the men and women in black find generally appalling.

And when you abuse discretion and vastly overplay your hand in that manner, not only does it play directly into exceptional defense attorney Gary Johnson’s hands, but it makes it much more difficult to negotiate the kind of deal that will truly serve justice.

Clearly, when it comes to the Kane County State’s Attorney under Joe McMahon, in the words of that great philosopher Jethro Tull, “Nothing is easy!”

Meanwhile, as previously stipulated, I will persevere in seeking the answer to the “who’s a journalist” question, as well as in my efforts to ferret out and uncover the truth here. Perhaps after that we’ll discuss why I have a particular interest in this case.

I will continue to keep you posted!

Quick Hits – The rare privilege of blowing it!

Last September, had you calmly explained that my opportunity to vote for Elizabeth Warren would expire well before the Illinois presidential primary, after the laughing fit faded, I would’ve asked you to put your money where your mouth is.

But here we are!

Warren was at the pinnacle of the polls, she had the kind of quiet charisma SNL’s Kate McKinnon perceptively picked up on, she was the smartest candidate at a time the electorate was longing for “smart,” her U.S. Senate accomplishments were many, and she’d perfectly positioned herself between Bernie’s implausibility and Biden’s perpetually fascinating old white maleness.

She’d even managed to overcome her Tom-Cruise-jumping-on-Oprah’s-couch moment after sprinting through a New Hampshire crowd to the tune of ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.’ For references purposes, 2004 presidential hopeful Howard Dean did not survive his!

So, In the words of that great philosopher Bertie Higgins, “She had all,” until, to quote my sainted mother, “It all went to hell in a handbasket!”

And that precipitous plunge commenced with Warren’s beyond bizarre decision to respond to a Trump slur by trying to prove her Native American ancestry. When the DNA test didn’t turn out quite that way, not only were progressives unamused, but she became a conservative and late-night TV laughingstock.

Warren

There’s a reason attorneys warn against asking a courtroom question to which you aren’t assured of the answer. Then, just to make matters worse, when goaded, Warren released her Medicare for all plan.

Voters may say they want the details, but they really don’t! They much prefer platitudes. And that Poly Sci 101 lapse led directly to a larger second problem, and that is, if you put the specifics of a proposed program out there, someone’s bound to be disappointed.

And sure enough! Progressives went after Warren’s not-quite single-payer solution just like a Yankees’ pitcher throwing at a hapless Astros’ batter. The sad truth is, “Mexico will pay for the wall” works, while the facts don’t!

But instead of confidently declaring, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! My progressive brothers and sisters! Rome, and the revolution weren’t built in a day. Difficult political propositions always take time and compromise,” Warren decided to double down by endeavoring pass the kind of far-left purity test that Jesus Himself would’ve failed.

She wouldn’t go on Fox News, she wouldn’t take money from non-woke entities, she embraced non-binary drivers licenses, she advocated for trans women playing women’s sports, and my personal favorite, she told the alphabet people she wouldn’t appoint a secretary of education without the express written consent of a trans student.

And people have the nerve to question my capacity to make friends!

What Warren and her “advisors” never seemed to comprehend is, once she was the nominee, progressive voters would automatically be hers, but it would take working class Democrats to get her there. Meanwhile, positioning herself as Bernie-lite alienated absolutely everyone, and particularly the voters she needed most.

Had she somehow still managed to prevail, Trump woulda made mincemeat out of her in the general. SNL should’ve done a cold open with an enthusiastic Alec Baldwin Trump taking notes on her latest leftist pronouncement. “Oooo! Calling accidents as ‘traffic violence!’ Write that one down Mike!”

Then there was the preponderance of very simple but dire political miscalculations.

Again, Bernie-lite appealed to no one. As the great former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown once stipulated, “If you can’t take their money and screw them, you don’t belong in the game!” Convinced she’d rise above the incessantly infighting primary rabble, Warren spent no money on Super Tuesday, and her team was utterly unprepared for Buttigieg and Bloomberg dropping out to endorse Biden.

Though, I do have to give Warren credit for quickly concluding he could not recover from that poor showing by dropping out.

But Warren’s biggest blunder, bar none, was going after Bernie Sanders for being sexist! That “strategy” topped the day that Michael Dukakis’ thought it was a good idea to climb into that M1 Abrams tank hatch.

Given his consistent public commentary to the contrary, no one, from Poughkeepsie to Pasadena, believed Sanders said a woman couldn’t win the presidency, and this magnificent error only served to enrage progressive voters Warren had so desperately courted.

All I can say is, her campaign manager owes her a full refund!

The tragic truth is, all Warren’s team had to do was continue to do what they’d been doing for the previous ten months. But no! Suddenly enamored of their own political reflections, they got cute, and, trust me, campaign “cute” always comes around to bite you in the ass.

Ask any NFL coach, and they  will tell you that, while innovation tends to be a good thing, the second you start thinkin’ you’re smarter than the game, it will smack you down faster than a social justice warrior catching a conservative referring to Caitlyn Jenner as “he.”

Per the piece’s title, Elizabeth Warren enjoyed the exceedingly rare privilege of becoming a presidential frontrunner only to blow it through no fault but her own. And how many people get to say that?

So, what really frosts my cookies are all the teeth-gnashing pundits who summarily stated that Warren was brought down by an acute amalgamation of sexism and misogyny. Yes! Both social maladies certainly exist, by what’s exponentially worse than either is the kind of patently poor and sycophantic patronization that subverts this blatant truth and replaces it with a false narrative.

The 2020 Democratic presidential race saw more qualified female candidates – Warren, Harris, Klobuchar, and Gabbard – than any previous primary in history. That means Biden’s likely VP pick will be a woman well-positioned to run in 2028. Not to mention that Hillary Clinton trounced Trump in the 2016 popular vote.

So, whether it’s that vice-president or the next female senator who has White House aspirations, having learned from Warren’s mistakes, they’ll have a far better shot than they would if they fell prey to those who think a smart woman never had a shot to begin with.

Have I recently asked progressives to grow up?