Politics

Why you need to vote

morans

It has always baffled me that those who decide not to vote either don’t understand or care that they are forfeiting their right to self-determination.

They are handing their power off to those who DO vote.

As a public service, I provide the following information:

I have it on good authority that the man whose picture you see above plans to vote.

Therefore, if you don’t vote, this man will have more influence over your government, and therefore your life, than you.

Don’t be a Moran.

Vote.

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McBarronBlog Bonus: Find your polling place.

Politics

Who do you want in your foxhole?

FOXHOLE

In addition to a won/loss record (923–324) that placed him among college basketball’s elite, legendary coach Don Meyer is remembered for devising “The Foxhole Test”  as an aide for coaches.

“Have each player draw a circle to represent their foxhole…

…they write the names of teammates they would want in their foxhole if they were fighting a life and death battle.”

Meyer believed the test reflected a simple truth:

“There are many people who you would love to have around on the golf course or in a duck blind but deep down you know that defeat is assured if they are in your foxhole”

How do the major party choices for Governor of Illinois look in the metaphorical foxhole?

Gov. Bruce Rauner has been in your foxhole for nearly four years. In that time,  the foxhole has gotten deeper and far more treacherous.

Rauner, a rich man with no political experience, used his wealth to purchase name recognition, then convinced voters he had what was needed to work with the General Assembly, including the 400 lb. gorilla named Speaker Madigan.

Gov. Rauner held the state budget hostage for two years in to try force his unpopular anti-union, anti-working family “Turnaround Agenda” through a Democrat-dominated legislature. In the process, he severely damaged state colleges and universities and forced not-for-profit organizations that serve Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens to cut services or shut down entirely.

Eventually, with the help of fed-up Republican legislators, a budget was passed over Rauner’s veto, saving the state from total disaster.

It’s difficult to assess JB Pritzker‘s “foxholeworthiness,”as this is the billionaire philanthropist’s first run for political office.

We can look at his campaign website and see what he hopes voters will focus on, but there’s no record by which we can judge him.

Pritzker’s avoided specifics about important policies like taxation because he knows that a dishonest opponent who’s willing to demagogue issues will distort information, then use the distortions to mischaracterize and damage the opposing campaign.

For example, Pritzker supports a graduated income tax, one that will have the wealthiest people paying higher tax rates than low and middle income earners. The graduated rates would be determined, with legislative input, later.

Changing from a flat rate (everyone pays the same rate) to a graduated system requires an amendment to the Illinois Constitution. That will take time and the ability to work with the legislature and Speaker Madigan.

The voters’ dilemma: go with Pritzker, the unproven rich guy, or go withGov. Rauner, the rich guy who spent four years trying to force his agenda on the state.

That man not only did great damage, he also didn’t pass his agenda. When confronted with his failure, Gov. Rauner said“I am not in charge. I’m trying to get to be in charge.”

Four years after his election and he was never in charge? 

Is that the guy you want in your foxhole?

When you go to your polling place, remember what Maya Anjelou said:

‘When people show you who they are, believe them the first time,’” 

Don’t forget to vote.

# # #

McBarronBlog Bonus: Find your polling place.

Politics

Who do you want in your foxhole?

FOXHOLE

In addition to a won/loss record (923–324) that placed him among college basketball’s elite, legendary coach Don Meyer is remembered for devising “The Foxhole Test”  as an aide for coaches.

“Have each player draw a circle to represent their foxhole…

…they write the names of teammates they would want in their foxhole if they were fighting a life and death battle.”

Meyer believed the test reflected a simple truth:

“There are many people who you would love to have around on the golf course or in a duck blind but deep down you know that defeat is assured if they are in your foxhole”

How do the major party choices for Governor of Illinois look in the metaphorical foxhole?

Gov. Bruce Rauner has been in your foxhole for nearly four years. In that time,  the foxhole has gotten deeper and far more treacherous.

Rauner, a rich man with no political experience, used his wealth to purchase name recognition, then convinced voters he had what was needed to work with the General Assembly, including the 400 lb. gorilla named Speaker Madigan.

Gov. Rauner held the state budget hostage for two years in to try force his unpopular anti-union, anti-working family “Turnaround Agenda” through a Democrat-dominated legislature. In the process, he severely damaged state colleges and universities and forced not-for-profit organizations that serve Illinois’ most vulnerable citizens to cut services or shut down entirely.

Eventually, with the help of fed-up Republican legislators, a budget was passed over Rauner’s veto, saving the state from total disaster.

It’s difficult to assess JB Pritzker‘s “foxholeworthiness,”as this is the billionaire philanthropist’s first run for political office.

We can look at his campaign website and see what he hopes voters will focus on.

Screenshot 2018-08-30 16.46.36

Pritzker’s avoided specifics about important policies like taxation because he knows that a dishonest opponent who’s willing to demagogue issues will distort information, then use the distortions to mischaracterize and damage the opposing campaign.

For example, Pritzker supports a graduated income tax, one that will have the wealthiest people paying higher tax rates than low and middle income earners. The graduated rates would be determined, with legislative input, later.

Changing from a flat rate (everyone pays the same rate) to a graduated system requires an amendment to the Illinois Constitution. That will take time and the ability to work with the legislature and Speaker Madigan.

The voters’ dilemma: go with Pritzker, the unproven rich guy, or go withGov. Rauner, the rich guy who spent four years trying to force his agenda on the state.

That man not only did great damage, he also didn’t pass his agenda. When confronted with his failure, Gov. Rauner said, “I am not in charge. I’m trying to get to be in charge.”

Four years after his election and he was never in charge? 

Is that the guy you want in your foxhole?

When you go to your polling place, remember what Maya Anjelou said:

‘When people show you who they are, believe them the first time,'” 

Don’t forget to vote.

# # #

McBarronBlog Bonus: Find your polling place.

History

Independence Day

Battle_of_Trenton_by_H Charles_McBarron
The Battle of Trenton
Battle of Bunker Hill
The Battle of Bunker Hill
Battle of Yorktown
The Battle of Yorktown
Battle_of_Guilford_Court_House
Battle of Guilford Court House
Battle of Longue-Pointe, outside of Montreal, Sept. 25, 1775.
Battle of Longue-Pointe (outside of Montreal, Sept. 25, 1775)
Battle of Cowpens

McBarronBlog Bonus:

About the artist

VIDEO: 1991 news interview with H. Charles McBarron Jr.

TIME Magazine: Ten American protest moments

Baseball · Politics · Radio

Thirty years ago, Illinois defeated Florida – Jim Thompson got the save

 

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The owners of the Chicago White Sox were adamant: they were going to get a new ballpark.

As for “In what state?,” Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn were open-minded.

The Sox had played on Chicago’s south side since 1901. However, in the summer of 1988, business leaders and politicians were offering a sweet deal in St. Petersburg if the Sox would become Florida’s first Major League Baseball team.

A cherished dream of many Floridians — the state’s own major-league baseball team — moved closer to reality Tuesday when legislators approved a $30 million plan to lure the Chicago White Sox to St. Petersburg.

”We are extremely pleased,” said Larry Arnold, chief assistant city manager of St. Petersburg.

”We have taken a major step toward bringing major-league baseball to Florida. We have every hope that they’re going to be in St. Petersburg in 1989.”

Supporters of the plan said Tuesday’s votes by the House and the Senate significantly increased the odds that the White Sox will play ball next year in a 43,000-seat domed stadium under construction in downtown St. Petersburg. 

This was a fact: Unless Illinois lawmakers passed the stadium bill by midnight (60 votes needed in the House) on June 30, the White Sox would be Florida-bound on July 1. The reason: after that date, the legislative bar would be raised. A proposal as controversial as the $150 million taxpayer-funded White Sox stadium bill would never get the super-majority (71 House votes) needed for approval after June 30.

On June 30, the stadium bill needed to first get 30 votes to clear the Senate, itself a seemingly impossible task.

It all had to happen by midnight.

In the Senate, Chicago Democrats favored the proposal, but at least three Republicans needed to join them. Noted Chicago-hater James “Pate” Phillip of DuPage County was the Republican Senate leader. His opposition meant no Republicans were willing to vote for the stadium bill.

But the Save Our Sox campaign had some well-placed supporters.

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Governor Jim Thompson, a Chicago Republican popular in his hometown, understood losing one of the city’s two Major League teams would be a blow to the local and state economies. Thompson, in his fourth and final term as governor, also knew a departure of the the White Sox on his watch would stain his legacy.

It was more personal for Speaker Michael Madigan, a White Sox fan whose legislative district is located on Chicago’s south side. But, regardless of what Madigan wanted, saving the Sox would be impossible without Republican support.

June 30, 1988

In the late afternoon on June 30, based on Senate President Phillip’s opposition, Lt. Gov. George Ryan pronounced the Sox stadium bill “dead.”

Phillip had a vice-like grip on his members, so there was no reason to doubt Ryan as the bill awaited a Senate vote.  But, Gov. Thompson wasn’t giving up.

“I said, ‘Pate, this is personal. I want this stadium and you have to help me,'” Thompson said.

In a surprise, Phillip dropped his opposition, allowing his members to vote as they wished. The Senate Minority Leader smirked as Thompson prowled the Senate floor, looking for Republicans willing to support the bill.

Shockingly, Thompson convinced three Republicans to go along, giving the bill the minimum 30 votes needed. As soon as the votes were tallied, Thompson and his lobbying team literally sprinted into the House chamber to try to get the bill passed before the midnight deadline.

What happened next was as dramatic as anything that happened at Comiskey Park in the during the 80 years it hosted ballgames.

The sound in the House chamber was a dull roar. The atmosphere was extremely tense.

Thompson scurried around the Republican side of the aisle in a feverish attempt to find supporters. Voting for a stadium for Chicago was not an easy sell for downstate and suburban Republicans.

Every Republican Representative was a potential supporter, as far as the governor was concerned. With all eyes on him, and with Speaker Madigan’s support, Thompson unashamedly played “Let’s Make a Deal” on the House floor.

Afterward, there were stories that Thompson was awarding “pork” projects right and left. One legislator said the governor had promised to support him for Secretary of State.

I’m not sure how a representative could hear any of the promises being made. The decibel level in the chamber ranged from “very loud” to, as midnight drew near, “deafening.”

Ordinarily, a bill is read and debated, voting opens and, after 30 seconds or less of members being prodded “Have all voted who wish?”, voting ends and results are tallied and posted. Reporting a legislative vote “live” for the radio is an uncomplicated task, normally.

What happened shortly before midnight on the evening of June 30, 1988, was not normal.

In the House press box, with a phone jammed against my ear but unable to hear anything being said to me by the WMAQ-AM news producers back in Chicago, I had to assume I was “live” on the air. With one eye on the House tote board and the other on Gov. Thompson twisting arms on the House floor, more than 20 minutes of radio “play-by-play” was improvised for audiences in Chicago and St. Petersburg.

Here are the last eight minutes of the WMAQ broadcast of the House vote. Listen for the tone signaling midnight.

Illinois Issues:

Senators, having adjourned for the night, filled the rear of the House chamber. When the voting opened in the House several members did not register their votes on the electronic board. The voting was closed, thereby forcing representatives to declare their votes. The board showed only 54 yes votes, and 60 were required. The roll call was not announced, giving Thompson and other supporters time to convince reluctant representatives to change their votes. The clock on the vote board was switched off, so nobody could be sure of the exact time. Slowly six representatives, three from each party, asked that their votes be changed from no to yes. When the 60th vote was lit up on the board the vote was immediately announced, as well as the time of 11:59 p.m., although the printed roll call recorded the time at 12:03 a.m.

WMAQ was the only news outlet to broadcast the entire vote “live.” Chicago TV stations, believing the Sox bill was dead, had left Springfield while Chicago’s radio news leader, WBBM, cut away from the Statehouse to air CBS network news at the top of the hour.

WBBM took the “midnight deadline” literally. Speaker Madigan did not.

In the House, after many observers saw their watches read past midnight, the constitutionally mandated adjournment time, the House passed the measure by a 60-55 vote. The published roll call read 12:03 a.m. Friday, which normally would mandate any bill passing by a three-fifths majority, or 71 votes.

“I don`t think there is a judge in the nation, especially in Illinois, who would challenge this,” said Madigan (D., Chicago), who also had strong-armed three Democrats to switch their votes before the electronic toteboard was closed.

“By my watch, it was 11:59′” Madigan said.  “I didn’t know this would pass. The Republicans told me they had seven votes when we went in, but the governor and I and all the members took risks and passed this bill to keep the White Sox in Chicago.”

It was akin to the White Sox coming from behind to win after the final out had been recorded.

“You bet I was worried,” a relieved Thompson told reporters. “Wouldn’t you be worried? Weren’t you watching the votes? This is a political resurrection from the dead, a baseball resurrection from the dead.”

During his 14 years as the state’s chief executive, Jim Thompson usually governed with Republican minorities in both the House and Senate. He won some and lost some but, unlike the current governor, Thompson would never have claimed he was “not in charge.”

Because Jim Thompson knew how to govern, he was able to save the White Sox for Chicago and Illinois.

# # #

McBarronBlog Bonus:

Had Thompson failed, Chicago would have missed out on an amazing 2005 season.

The stadium bill’s passing meant the end for a great ballpark. Watch a brief documentary on Comiskey Park

Aerial photo of Comiskey, taken during the 1959 World Series

Watch the final three outs at old Comiskey.

A look at what might have been from a Tampa-St. Petersburg baseball fan 

*This Sox stadium anniversary post is a revised and updated version of a McBarronBlog post from last year.

 

 

Politics

You can’t out-Trump Trump

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With a worldwide audience watching, a prominent celebrity stood on a stage and proudly uttered, twice, the word that tops the list of things you can’t say on television.

The great actor Robert DiNiro seemed to be taking a page from the Donald Trump playbook with an over-the-top, non-substantive attack on the President during his brief moment in the spotlight at the Tony Awards.  What was DiNiro’s point? What was he trying to accomplish with the profane comment?

Aside from making sure everyone knew he didn’t like the President (anyone  paying attention was already aware), the point seemed to be to get a standing ovation.

Mission accomplished.

But how many people who didn’t already agree the current president is a disaster and a menace to the United States changed their opinion as a result of DiNiro’s outburst?

I’ll go out on a limb and estimate the number is “zero.”

I will also speculate a much larger number of Americans who voted for Trump in 2016, but have been experiencing remorse, reacted to DiNiro’s attack and the standing ovation by deciding that a “A guy who pisses off a bunch of overpaid liberal elites wearing tuxedos and evening gowns can’t be all bad.”

Consciously or not, DiNiro was playing Trump’s game by revving up people who already agreed with him. That is not how patriotic Americans can expect to end Trumpism.

Trump was perceived by many of his voters as offering hope, if you can call “What the hell do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump,” a hopeful statement. He promised everything to working people and is delivering nothing. In fact, he’s Robin Hood in reverse.

The Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz told the Guardian it was profoundly important that international observers were speaking out about Trump’s impact. “This administration inherited a bad situation with inequality in the US and is now fanning the flames and worsening the situation. What is so disturbing is that Trump, rather than taking measures to ameliorate the problem, is taking measures to aggravate it.”

Top of the list of those measures was the $1.5tn tax cutsenacted by the Republicans last December that slashed corporate tax rates. “Can you believe a country where the life expectancy is already in decline, particularly among those whose income is limited, giving tax breaks to billionaires and corporations while leaving millions of Americans without health insurance?” Stiglitz said.

That is what you talk about when you have the attention of a large group of people if you want to end Trumpism.

Though I’m sure it’s exhilarating to be the man dropping F-bombs on a worldwide audience, it is counter-productive. Time spent defending your use of vulgar language, or debating whether you are being disrespectful to the office of the president, etc, is time you could be using to convince voters to examine what their true self-interests are and to support candidates who actually support programs and policies that will benefit working people.

The first opportunity to bring Trumpism to heel comes in November when Democrats can grab control of the House of Representatives (the Senate might be in play, but the smart people think that’s a long shot). For (at least) one chamber of Congress to finally be able to check the president requires Trumpism opponents win elections in their communities. Doing that means communicating policy ideas in language that will be welcomed and which elucidates the real damage being caused by Trump and Trumpism.

Trumpism will end when people who supported the current president based on his promises and not his personality realize they need to act differently in the next elections.

Mr. DiNiro, with all due respect, the next time you have the world’s attention, please  choose your words with more care than you’ve used in choosing movie roles (like this, and this) in the last decade.

Trumpisn needs to be ended as soon as possible. Trump rode profane name calling and vulgar language to Washington. Trying to out Trump Trump will do nothing to get him out of the White House.

 

 

Brush with greatness · pop culture

That time I met (the real) Batman

Screen Shot 2018-06-08 at 8.35.32 AM

in the late 1980s, the big draw for the World of Wheels show in Springfield, IL was the “The Original Batmobile” along with, “TVs Batman, Adam West.”

The crowds weren’t exactly breaking down the doors to see the show or Adam West when I stopped by with my tape recorder for a radio interview. Yet West could not have been nicer or more accommodating when we spoke during his break.

He was wearing “the suit,” with a flight jacket draped over his shoulders. The Batman cowl was pulled back and he was wearing aviator glasses.

The fact I knew some of his non-Batman work (like this, which he was proud of, and this, which he was less proud of) helped the conversation flow.

The elephant in the Springfield convention center that day was how absurd it was for a grown man to be wearing a Batman costume. West didn’t complain about it. His attitude was, “it’s all show business.”

Besides, even in his late 50s, the Batman costume looked good on him.

We talked about then in-production new (Tim Burton) Batman movie. I was incredulous to learn no one had spoken to him about a cameo. Without irony, I blurted, “But you’re Batman.”

He agreed.

West told me many people he’d spoken to said they would be boycotting the movie because he had been treated so shabbily.

If those folks boycotted the movie, which starred Michael Keaton as the Coweled Crusader, most people did not. It was a huge hit.

In my interview, and in every interview I ever heard/read with him, Adam West came across as a very nice, self aware man with a great sense of humor. I wish I still had the tape. I wish I had taken a picture.

For me, he’ll always be Batman.  And if that wasn’t enough (it was for me), he also was Ty Lookwell.

If you’ve never seen the unsold tv pilot, LOOKWELL (created by Conan O’Brian and Robert Smigel), WATCH IT NOW:

If you don’t think LOCKWELL is one of the funniest things ever made for TV, you and I will never be friends.

Adam West died one year ago. I’m glad I was able to spend a few minutes with him and tell one of my childhood heroes how much he’d meant to me.

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McBarronBlog Bonus

Adam West wore the Batman costume in many unusual settings, like this British Public Service Announcement for pedestrian safety.

From WIRED: Adam West – Batman Forever