Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Growing up in South Shore.

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

I grew up in a section of Chicago called “South Shore.” It was a beautiful part of the city now ravaged by crime and economic collapse. I have previously posted an article on my childhood. Here is more.

I was born in 1938 when my parents lived in this building at 77th and Marquette Avenue, near mother’s sister Marguerite and her husband Art.

Apartment 77th and Marqurette

That street was a quiet street and my aunt and uncle had lived there for many years. I think it was the only house they ever owned. Sadly, it is gone having been torn down after being damaged by vandals after they left. My mother had lived with them since she was a girl and her mother had lived there until she died in 1926. By the time I was three and my sister was born, we had moved to a rented house on Clyde Avenue.

Peg and Art and me

Here they are holding me in their yard on Marquette. My uncle Art’s parents had lived right behind them on the next street.

St Brides

That is St Brides, the church in which I was Christened in 1938. Many years later (1967), my daughter Kate was Christened in that same church. In the days when I lived in Chicago, that church was so busy that it held two simultaneous masses on Sunday every hour. One was in the main church and the other in a smaller chapel in the basement. That door to the chapel is seen to the left of the steps.


Two stories today; same subject

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Representative Henry Waxman, known to some of his friends as The Mole (see above), assured us yesterday that he will address climate change in legislation before May.

Meanwhile, Chicago has the largest snowfall since 1884 and subfreezing temperatures are breaking records everywhere.

Maine residents braced for nighttime readings down to 40 below zero. And in the Midwest, Iowans were warned that temperatures could drop as far as 27 below zero during the night, matching a Jan. 15 record set in 1972.

Temperatures Thursday were expected to range from 10 below zero in the far north to the low teens in southern coastal areas.

Farther south, morning temperatures were in the 20s from Texas to Georgia, and along the Gulf Coast the weather service reported a low of just 28 at Mobile, Ala.

Even northern Georgia and Kentucky could see single-digit lows by Friday, with zero possible at Lexington, Ky., the weather service warned. Kentucky hasn’t been that cold since December 2004.

There is an old rule: when Congress gets around to fixing a problem, it is over already.

Illinois politics

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

UPDATE: The stories about Obama and Blago are are disappearing from even the cached sites. It’s another memory hole.

I grew up in Chicago and, even as a teenager, was aware that nothing happens in Chicago that isn’t politics. I remember a friend of my father who was ill and needed to be hospitalized. The next step was not to take him to the emergency room; it was to call the alderman’s office to have him admitted to Cook County Hospital. That way, he wouldn’t be bothered with a doctor demanding to examine him, for example.

In David Freddosso’s book, The Case Against Barack Obama, he tells one story of a job applicant appearing at a city office looking for a job. He is asked, “Who sent you?” When he replies that he just showed up hoping to apply for a job, he is told, “We don’t want nobody that nobody sent !” It is all about who sent you.

After the Second World War, my cousins returned from overseas and my parents had parties for them as they returned. Many of their friends came to those parties and marriages resulted in some cases. One of those marriages was between Frank Flanigan, whose father had been chief of detectives in PHiladelphia, and Pat Neary, whose father was an Inspector in the Chicago Police Department. Pat and Frank were very close to my parents as I grew up. Frank was well known as almost the only honest policeman in Chicago. Since policemen’s salaries were kept low to weaken their resistance to bribery, Pat and Frank had some lean years. Frank’s superiors respected his integrity and, to get him away from areas where his honesty would get him into trouble, he was assigned to the “hit and run” section of traffic enforcement. There, he founded one of the first modern crime labs and the conviction rate for hit and run felonies was high enough to result in a feature story in Life Magazine in the early 1950s.

Frank finally was rewarded after a scandal hit the Chicago PD. In 1959, a burglary ring was found within a Chicago police precinct. The scandal finally led to reform of the police department. Orlando W Wilson, a professor of criminology and former police chief, was brought in to take over the force and clean it up. He discovered Frank and made him chief of homicide. Frank served honorably in the position until retirement and then continued a second career as chief investigator for the Coroner’s Office of Cook County.

The point of that little story is to point out how difficult it was to be an honest man in any position in the City of Chicago.

In the years when I was growing up in Chicago, the rest of the state was relatively honest compared to the city but that wasn’t saying much. Generally, “downstate” was run by Republicans and Chicago was run by Democrats. The last Republican Mayor of Chicago was in 1931. The balance of power shifted from time to time between Cook County, the Chicago area, and the rest of the state. The present Mayor is the son of another long-term Mayor. Both men stayed out of legal trouble by avoiding personal greed that would subject them to unwelcome legal attention. They were interested in power and happy to stay in the city. They had no higher ambitions.

This is the atmosphere in which Barack Obama rose in politics. I have previously written about this. More here. A cast of characters. His education background, and his science inclinations.

Now we have the Blagojevich story with all its uncomfortable ramifications for the President-elect. He has already been caught in a lie.

The Blagojevich Timeline: Everything Fits Easily Except Obama’s Monday Denial. Most people have misunderstood the timeline of the Blagojevich Senate scandal. Pretty much everything fits except Barack Obama’s statement yesterday that he knew nothing about it.
If we didn’t have Obama’s denial to contend with, the actions of all the parties, including those purporting to speak for Obama, are consistent with Obama and his staff learning about Blagojevich’s corrupt plans on Monday, Nov. 10.

Obama’s guru has been quoted acknowledging that the transition team had talked to the governor about who would be appointed to take Obama’s Senate seat.

While insisting that the President-elect had not expressed a favorite to replace him, and his inclination was to avoid being a “kingmaker,” Axelrod said, “I know he’s talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.”

Then, Obama comes out and says something that is not true. Note how he catches himself to avoid another lie.

On Tuesday, Dec. 8, Obama denies personal knowledge of the corrupt proposal.

“I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.”

This seems to be a man who will lie when the truth would serve as well. Maybe he is worried about this.

Blagojevich’s buddies—the ones he still has left—surely aren’t amused. They must be wondering how long it will take for Blagojevich to crack under the federal weight and start singing about all his friends.

Get ready for four years of “The Chicago Way.” Unless, of course, there is a smoking gun under that rock.

Where did Obama come from ?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

As it becomes increasingly possible that Barack Obama may be our next president, some of his past associations have begun to crop up in a few media outlets. The major newspapers have shown an amazing lack of interest in his associations and a few “progressives” have attacked such inquiries as “racist.” There has been more talk about “The Chicago Way” and I suspect we will hear more about that in the future. Here is a primer on Obama and The Chicago Way.

One data point is the 1987 Chicago Teachers’ strike that led to attempts at reform.

A 1987 teachers’ strike brought those two sides together to push for a reform act passed by the Illinois legislature in 1988 that created “Local School Councils” (LSC) to be elected by residents in a particular school area. According to Shipps, the strike “enrag[ed] parents and provid[ed] the catalyst for a coalition between community groups and Chicago United [the business lobby] that was forged in the ensuing year.” (The full story of this complicated process is provided by Shipps in her book.)

This battle between parents and the teachers’ union led to legislation and a “local school council” movement that was captured by the political far left.

The LSC’s were to be made up by a majority of parents and have the power to hire and fire principals thus creating a new power center in the school system against what both reform groups viewed as the bureaucratic and expensive school board, on the one hand, and, on the other, the teachers union. In my view these types of councils are reminiscent of the manipulative “community” bodies set up in regimes like those of Hugo Chavez and the Sandinistas – used to control genuine democratic movements such as trade unions. Dorothy Shipps argues, as I will suggest below, that there is an alternative approach that is genuinely democratic and possibly more effective in improving outcomes for students.

Here is where Obama enters the picture.

Active in the local control from below, on the “community” side of this effort, was Bill Ayers who had returned to Chicago in 1987 as an assistant professor of education at the University of Illinois’ Chicago Circle campus, after surfacing from the underground and earning his Ph.D. at Columbia. Another ally in this battle at the same time was Barack Obama’s Developing Communities Project (DCP), as Obama notes briefly in his Dreams From My Father. (See also, “Meeting on School Reform Halted,” Chicago Tribune, Feb. 19, 1988 at 3; and “Black Parents” A letter to the Chi. Trib. on Aug. 23, 1988 from a DCP member defending the 1988 local control reform bill) The DCP had its origins in the “radical” movement started by Saul Alinsky.

Obama, of course, was an Alinsky disciple. The Chicago Annenberg Challenge comes in here.

Bill raised money to start the Small Schools Workshop in the early 90s and eventually hired another former maoist from the 60s (and actually someone who was a bitter opponent of Ayers as SDS disintegrated) named Mike Klonsky first as research director and then to head it up. Klonsky was a PhD student at UIC studying under Ayers. Obama would approved grants of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Workshop from the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. [Bill’s brother John later got in on the small schools approach also, raising money in part from the Annenberg Challenge program started by Bill and chaired by Obama

Klonsky was the Obama web site blogger who was suddenly fired when his Weather Underground connections were revealed. He was driving a taxi when Ayres steered a large grant to him to start the Small Schools Workshop. The Annenberg money seems to have been distributed among this network of old-time radicals.

In the fall of 1988, however, Obama left the city to go off to law school. My best guess, though, is that it was in that 86-88 time frame that Obama likely met up with the Ayers family. I will explain why I believe that in a minute. Interestingly, after his first year in law school Obama returned in the summer of 1989 to work as a summer associate at the prestigious Chicago law firm of Sidley & Austin. This in and of itself is a bit unusual. Very few top tier law students work for big law firms during their first summer. The big law firms discourage it because if you work for them in the first summer you are likely to work for a second firm the following year and then the firms have to compete to get you.

So, why or how did Obama – at that point not yet the prominent first black president of the Harvard Law Review (that would happen the following year) – end up at Sidley?

There is also quite a bit of interest in how Obama was admitted to Harvard Law School in the first place. He did not graduate with honors from Columbia. Rashid Khalidi may have played a role here. Obama also seems to have been close to Edward Said, former chief of the Middle East Studies department at Columbia that Khalidi now heads. There is even speculation that the Palestinians are more important in the Obama career than has been apparent thus far. Of course, the association is innocent. He says so.

His kids went to the Lab school where my kids go as well. He is a respected scholar, although he vehemently disagrees with a lot of Israel’s policy.”

Obama’s kids have some peculiar associations in school, I guess.

He has some other peculiar friends, too.

Anyway, we learn more about this, hopefully before the election. If not, eventually. Sigh.

Obama rewrites history

Monday, July 14th, 2008

UPDATE: To complete the transformation, Obama’s website has been scrubbed clean of his earlier comments about the surge. Down the memory hole as they say in 1984.

One would never know from this op-ed today in the NY Times, that Obama stated that the surge would never work and “would in fact make things worse.” He does serve one useful purpose. I’m sure that he scares the serious Iraqis who want a successful self-government into working faster to get ready for the day when Obama cuts out on them. In Januray, 2007, Obama said I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.

Now he says In the 18 months since President Bush announced the surge, our troops have performed heroically in bringing down the level of violence. New tactics have protected the Iraqi population, and the Sunni tribes have rejected Al Qaeda — greatly weakening its effectiveness.

What say ?

But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we’ve spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted. Iraq’s leaders have failed to invest tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues in rebuilding their own country, and they have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge.

This, of course, is a lie. He opposed the surge because he thought it wouldn’t work. Or, he was lying then. Or maybe he is lying both times.

Of course it took some rewriting of history to get his career going.

It’s a lengthy record filled with core liberal issues. But what’s interesting, and almost never discussed, is that he built his entire legislative record in Illinois in a single year.

Republicans controlled the Illinois General Assembly for six years of Obama’s seven-year tenure. Each session, Obama backed legislation that went nowhere; bill after bill died in committee. During those six years, Obama, too, would have had difficulty naming any legislative ­achievements.

Then, in 2002, dissatisfaction with President Bush and Republicans on the national and local levels led to a Democratic sweep of nearly every lever of Illinois state government. For the first time in 26 years, Illinois Democrats controlled the governor’s office as well as both legislative chambers.

The white, race-baiting, hard-right Republican Illinois Senate Majority Leader James “Pate” Philip was replaced by Emil Jones Jr., a gravel-voiced, dark-skinned African-American known for chain-smoking cigarettes on the Senate floor.

Jones had served in the Illinois Legislature for three decades. He represented a district on the Chicago South Side not far from Obama’s. He became Obama’s ­kingmaker.

Several months before Obama announced his U.S. Senate bid, Jones called his old friend Cliff Kelley, a former Chicago alderman who now hosts the city’s most popular black call-in radio ­program.

I called Kelley last week and he recollected the private conversation as follows:

“He said, ‘Cliff, I’m gonna make me a U.S. Senator.'”

“Oh, you are? Who might that be?”

“Barack Obama.”

Read the rest. It’s interesting. He is a made man in the truest sense of the term. Also, the 2002 event that changed Illinois politics was the drivers’ license scandal that drove the governor from office.