- Page 1 of 27
- 3 ...
AND THEY CALL YOU “HONORABLE”Jun 06, 2013 -- 11:04pm
Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman recently noted that food stamps and Women Infants and Children’s nutrition programs would be eliminated in the Ryan budget. As Representative Stephen Fincher (R. Tenn.) says we can’t afford them. Krugman asserts it’s “time to get really, really angry.” He’s right, and oh, am I angry!
How are the unemployed supposed to pay for food? There are few well-paying jobs available. Those who land them usually either know someone or are incredibly lucky.
Besides, hunger still stalks Cook County. According to the Greater Chicago Food Depository website over 807,000 people in the greater Chicago area are “food insecure.” That’s the nice way of saying they go to bed hungry. Many eat diets rich in fats, salts and sugar, but lacking in adequate protein.
Fat, salt and sugar (unless medically forbidden) are great flavoring agents. But when they make up the bulk of the diet, watch out! Fats have 9 calories per gram, and digest slowly—resulting in more hunger, more food and more weight. Excessive salt often leads to high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart problems. Too much sugar increases the risk of contracting Type 2 diabetes. High sugar diets are the major reason why Type 2 Diabetes is at epidemic levels. Face it. Our children are getting fat and sick from hunger.
What are the long-range consequences? Children can’t learn when they’re hungry. When they grow up, they’ll be saying “yes” to their Chinese bosses. Where will America be then?
The Ryan Budget ignores that most of the unemployed want to work. It’s not their fault they’re pounding the pavement seeking jobs. They’ve been “downsized” or “outsourced.” Some work 2 or 3 low paying jobs, barely making ends meet—if they meet at all.
And now Congress may starve them in the name of fiscal prudence! “Honorables,” think before passing this budget travesty! Try living on Fritos and Little Debbie’s for a week and see how you like it.
Representative Fincher, I have two questions: Does the R behind your name stand for Republican or ruthless? Are both synonymous?
A MEMORIAL DAY TALE: REMEMBERING ALLAN SHERMANMay 30, 2013 -- 9:21pm
My mother still calls Memorial Day Decoration Day. That’s because on Decoration Day, 1910 my Maternal Grandmother’s ship entered New York Harbor. My 16 year old grandmother, on seeing flags flying to honor war dead, asked her older sister, my great-aunt “why.” Auntie replied, “The flags are for you.” Auntie and Grandma are no longer with us. But, thanks to mother, the memory of Grandma’s coming to America lives on. Hence, Memorial Day remains Decoration Day.
My mother, husband and I honored another’s memory when we went to Max & Benny’s Restaurant in Northbrook to hear Mark Cohen speak about his recently published biography, Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman. Sherman became a comic icon during the early and middle 1960s.
Cohen pointed out that Sherman’s comedy differed sharply from the usual comic fare. Sherman’s jokes came from the American Jewish experience. For sure there were Jewish comedians, but most used little Jewish material. Being too ethnic in the 1950s put you in danger of not conforming to mainstream America…And few dared to differ from the American, “baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet” stereotype.
Sherman reveled in his Jewish roots and his songs were side-splittingly funny. “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh,” and “Sarah Jackman” still make me laugh. His comedy LPs, My Son, the Folksinger, My Son, the Celebrity, and My Son, the Nut hit the top of the charts. Even President Kennedy laughed over Sherman’s songs during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Woody Allen, Mel Brooks and Larry David followed in Sherman’s footsteps. And ethnic Judaism entered the American mainstream.
But, Sherman fame was fleeting. By the early 1970s Sherman became monstrously fat. His marriage collapsed. Sherman died on November 20th, 1973, just before his 49th birthday. Yet Sherman made it possible for Jewish Americans to hold their heads higher.
Here’s my story. On the CTA, I overheard two men loudly complaining about how rich Jews controlled foreign policy. At first I kept still, then quietly but firmly, I disagreed. A Christian lady behind them agreed with me, and they apologized--contritely. Thank you, Mr. Sherman.
 Mark Cohen, Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman, Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2013.
THE BOSTON TEA-PARTY PATRIOTS OUGHT TO SUE FOR LIBELMay 22, 2013 -- 10:28pm
Every middle-schooler knows about those brave Bostonians who dumped a ship-load of tea into Boston harbor in 1773 to protest Britain’s taxing policies—a giant step toward the American Revolution. Today, the Tea Party movement also claims our government is tyrannical.
But there’s a difference between the Boston Tea Party and the current Tea Party movement. Our ancestors supported free speech and taxation with representation. The Tea Party Movement radically strives to dissolve the Departments of Education, Environmental Protection, Commerce, and many social entitlement programs. Their movement gained strength in 2010 when they elected some members of Congress, but lost ground in Election 2012.
Now the Tea Party again has taken center-stage. The I.R.S. has admitted to giving extra “scrutiny” to “Tea Party” and conservative organizations when they apply for 501.C4 not-for-profit status. On May 20th a group of Tea Party members demonstrated in front of Chicago’s I.R.S. headquarters, demanding the I.R.S. “got to go.” Shades of Watergate, UGH!
Tea Partiers, this isn’t 1773. The majority of Americans elected our current government. No government officials have demanded that citizens quarter troops, nor have they searched our homes or imprisoned me for criticizing them. Some tyranny!
Tea Partiers have a strange definition of “freedom.” They support the freedom to agree with them, but deny freedom to anyone who disagrees with their beliefs. I know. They targeted me for being too Liberal. They also believe that Liberals stole America. So they work to “take back our country.”
Back to where? Segregated neighborhoods? Shoving Gays and Lesbians back in the closet? Letting children and homeless starve? This isn’t the America our forbearers envisioned. Maybe the streets weren’t paved with gold, but Grandma and Grandpa never feared 3 A.M. knocks on the door.
The I.R.S. scrutiny of Conservative organizations points up the need to:
- Overturn Citizens United—Corporations aren’t people
- Limit campaign contributions; less money, fairer elections
- Revamp our current tax code; End the 1% split
But that’s for another blog.
Hey, Tea Partiers listen up, “As ye shall sow, so shall ye reap.” Now, back to my French Roast.
CHICAGO: WE HAVE A JAM OF A PROBLEM!May 16, 2013 -- 8:28am
I often drive our expressways. But whether driving north to Waukegan or southwest to Midway Airport, our expressways are gnarly, snarly, bumper-to-bumper messes. By the time I arrive I’m nervous, cranky and sorely in need of green tea.
So why fight the traffic? Why not take the CTA or Metra? The Orange Line CTA goes to Midway, and it’s fast and cheap. But when I’m picking up a senior citizen, whose nerves are frayed from fighting the battle of the TSA and surviving a pilot who’s flying a World War II fantasy, that extra hour riding the CTA is against the Geneva Conventions. Metra trains run sporadically during non-rush hour times. Between 11:00 A.M. and 1:00 P.M. the cute North-line Metra choo-choos take a nap.
And now the CTA is about to close the southern end of the “Howard/Dan Ryan” Red Line for repairs. Some riders will either switch to the Metra, or further clog traffic on the Dan Ryan. What happens to those people who don’t have cars and need the CTA Red Line to get to work? What happens to the unemployment rate along the south Red Line? Those are very interesting—and disturbing—questions.
Summer’s almost here. Here’s some urban math: Scorchers + snarled traffic= road rage; road rage + guns=mayhem.
Who’s to blame? For once some Alderman’s nephew isn’t responsible. The root of this mess lies in decisions made 60+ years ago when our expressways were built. Urban planners never figured, “If you build it, they will come, settle near it and drive to work.” Now Chicago and Milwaukee are converging into one urban area; same for Chicago through Gary and Hammond. Widening expressways or building second levels are recipes for mountains of litigation over air-rights and public domain.
There’s no choice. The CTA must stay in tip-top shape because no megalopolis survives without a great transit system. “Can’t Travel Anymore” needs to morph into “Can Travel Any where.”
In the meantime, I’m cornering the market on green tea.
AND HERE’S ONE FOR THE RECORD BOOK!May 09, 2013 -- 8:34pm
The National Rifle Association met in Houston recently. They regaled us with their familiar defense of the Second Amendment, coupling that with their usual President Obama bashing. But, when the NRA suggested new ways of fighting crime, my Java and I sat up and really took notice.
The NRA plans to pass out guns to Chicagoans. They assert that upright citizens packing heat will prevent crime. If a crime has already occurred, Chicago’s vigilante citizens will mete out justice.
It’s not the first time someone wanted to bring something to Chicago. In the 1950’s signs appeared on Chicagoland billboards stating, “I will bring a mountain to Chicago,” signed by “Captain Folger.” Three months after these signs went up; we discovered the mountain was a mountain of coffee.
Coffee is a great Chicago favorite, but think of the case backlog wiped away with a couple of gunshots. Think of the money saved by summary justice. It appears the NRA believes Chicago’s taxpayers will love it. Mayor Emanuel’s budget problems solved! BOOM!
But, Chicago already has a mountain of unregistered guns…And unregistered guns wreak havoc, even death. Remember Dantrell Davis, Hadiyah Pendleton, Heaven Sutton and Jonyla Watkins? Some criminals!
Who are these upright citizens who will suddenly morph into latter-day Lone Rangers and Tontos? Will the Latin Kings and the Gangster Disciples get the drop on the crooks? Will the Black P Stone Nation enforce curfews and chaperone proms?
Please, NRA members, we’ve already seen too many shootings resulting from arguments because the people involved have guns. Passing out more guns is like throwing a lighted match onto dry kindling.
You believe in law and order. But the basis of law and order is courts and due process, not Smith and Wessons. The only thing guns settle is who has the fastest draw.
Your solution will work only after so many shoot-outs occur that no one is left standing, and Chicago morphs into a peaceful ghost town. We have too many guns already, thank you. Come to think of it, we also have a mountain range worth of Starbucks.
REQUIEM FOR AN OLD POLMay 03, 2013 -- 5:33am
Calvin R. Sutker, former Democratic Committeeman of Niles Township, State Representative, County Commissioner and Skokie Trustee died last Thursday at age 89. Those are only the elective offices. Sutker also served in numerous appointive positions. Cal was one of the last of the old pols, those politicians who toed the party line, usually bringing victory and jobs in their wake. So many Cook County officials were present at his funeral that If terrorists struck they would have wiped out half of the county’s government.
What made Cal run? He was born on the old Jewish west side. His parents owned a grocery store, and when times were tough they gave out food to the hungry. Cal’s mother was also a precinct captain. Politics was no stranger in the Sutker household.
Cal enlisted in the army in World War II; and he saw battle. He was one of the liberators of Dachau concentration camp; an experience that defied words. It took close to 60 years before he was comfortable talking about it. But toward the end of his life Cal spoke eloquently to groups about his experience.
After the war, Cal married, became a father, and earned a law degree from the University of Chicago. Then tragedy struck: one of his children died. He went into politics to ease the pain.
The Sutkers moved to Skokie and Cal won election to Committeeman in 1973. Skokie was a Republican town. By the mid-1970s Skokie was firmly in the Democratic column. The Niles Township Regular Democratic Organization had a family-like feel to it. It was a big tent; women held important positions. Not every race ended in victory--but Niles Township usually voted Democratic and for good candidates.
The old political machines have gone the way of the dinosaur. But Cal stood out. Life is much better in Niles Township since the 1970s, thanks to Calvin R. Sutker. Cal you’ll be remembered fondly and well.
Now get to work! Heaven’s precincts need reorganizing! There’s an election for the Heavenly Choir next Tuesday.
- Page 1 of 27
- 3 ...