Todd Stroger’s $25,000 Publicity Pyramid

Really, I was not planning on writing about Todd Stroger anytime soon.  I hadn’t read much recently, and thought, perhaps, that he was simply doing the work of the people.  Perhaps he had found his stride.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Tired of getting “pummeled by the newspapers every day,” Cook County Board president Todd Stroger’s administration has decided to counter with a new magazine overseen by county officials.

Publisher/editor Theresa Tracy said Cook County magazine would be “independently published” and a “credible, compelling and valuable resource” for county residents.

But county officials have the final say on what’s published. And Tracy accepted $24,999 from Stroger’s administration last November to launch the magazine — $1 under the amount that would have required the approval of the full Cook County Board.

Honestly, who’s advising this guy?  Who thinks of these things?  $24,999?

We’re rounding up here, Todd.  That’s $25,000 of taxpayer money for your ego, Todd.  According to the Sun-Times, “county officials were seeking a ‘non-threatening news environment that ensures regular, positive press — to counter-balance negative press often found in the mainstream media.'”

What exactly is a “non-threatening news environment?”  Perhaps an environment without that burdensome First Amendment?  Freedom of the Press too much for the Cook County Board?

It doesn’t matter.  Evidently, county officials were taking spelling and grammar lessons from President George W. Bush.  Seems the inaugural issue was fraught with errors, among them the spelling of a rather important name:

The cover story is an interview with Stroger that starts by asking him, “How are you feeling these days?” There’s also a short obituary for Stroger’s late father and predecessor as county board president, John H. Stroger Jr., who died in January. It misspells his name.

Todd, we’ve been through this before

For too long, Cook County government has been a cesspool of patronage.

Forget the p.r. binge. Forget trying to sneak in an ego boost for yourself under the $25,000 wire.

Just stop this nonsense and govern. Make good decisions.

Good p.r. will follow good actions.

Did Drew Peterson Sleep With Your Wife Too?

Drew Peterson claims he had an affair with Paula Stark, wife of Len Wawczak, according to a TV reporter who contacted Stark. The Bolingbrook couple said this week that for seven months they wore a wire on Peterson, their neighbor and former friend.

At first, Stark and Wawczak laughed about it, saying it wasn’t true.  That was until their son Len Jr. called and told them Peterson was giving him “dirty looks” at a Bolingbrook barber shop.  The couple got in their van so Wawczak could confront Peterson.

From the Sun-Times:

What followed was another sordid chapter in the Peterson saga, an expletive-filled, Jerry Springeresque parking lot dust-up — witnessed by reporters — that resulted in Wawczak, 41, shoving Peterson in the back and getting arrested on a battery charge.

“I wanted to let Drew know he’s not going to mess with my family,” Wawczak said after his wife posted his $100 bond. “The next time, I will knock his ass out.

“It was the best 100 bucks I’ve ever spent. I’d do it again.”

In this country, we’re all innocent until proven guilty.  We are still responsible for our actions, even if they aren’t necessarily illegal.  Which is why I’m confounded as to why Peterson would claim he had an affair with Stark.

The clash of the Titans in a barbershop parking lot, egged on by the gathering crowd, was downright silly:

Wawczak, intent on confronting Peterson about the dirty looks, found a spot between some cars to lie in wait. When Peterson emerged, Wawczak popped out and pounced.

“Hey, m—–f—–,” he called out. “You ain’t nothing but a murderer. I’ll beat the f— out of you. Say something!”

“Hit me,” Peterson said calmly, putting his hands behind his back. “I’m going down.”

“You ain’t nothing but a punk, Drew!”

“Someone call the cops,” Peterson told a growing crowd of gawkers. One began videotaping.

“Take the cool sunglasses off,” Wawczak said, trying to knock them off Peterson, who dodged him.

“I ain’t Stacy, bitch,” Wawczak taunted. “You sissy.”

“I don’t have to deal with this boy,” Peterson said and walked away. Wawczak then pushed Peterson in the back.

Peterson, who later said his back hurt, brushed it off and got into Stacy Peterson’s car. Wawczak walked away, saying, “I proved my point. You’re nothing but a bitch.”

Peterson made a cell phone call and emerged from the car. The crowd yelled for Wawczak to return.

“Knock his ass out,” someone shouted.

“I got 50 bucks of his bond right now,” said another.

Peterson and Wawczak then stood across a car from each other, and Wawczak confronted him about Peterson’s purported claims about his wife.

“Say right now you f—– my old lady! I’ll come around right now and drop you like you want,” Wawczak said.

Peterson denied saying it — as eight police cars arrived.

“I ain’t Stacy, bitch! You sissy!”  Is this some ruckus in Boystown gone awry?

I don’t know if Drew Peterson gave Len Jr. the Evil Eye.  I don’t know if Drew Peterson claimed he slept with Paula Stark, slept with Paula Stark, or whether this alleged “TV reporter” was just making trouble.  Wawczak and Stark did nothing for their own credibility, and Peterson’s not looking any better.  The Village of Bolingbrook lauds itself as “a place to grow….”

Well, grow up guys.

Teen Gets 8 Years Over Pot: Legalize It

I haven’t written much about drugs in our society, but I’m using a story in the Sun-Times to start putting down some thoughts.  I’d appreciate any reader feedback on this one especially.

Remember, this happened in Texas.  No, I do not in any way condone what this 18-year-old man did.  However, it shows we’re not far from Nancy Reagan’s infamous War on Drugs.

A teenager shown on a video coaxing his 2- and 4-year-old nephews into smoking marijuana was sentenced Thursday to eight years in prison.

Demetris McCoy, 18, pleaded guilty to two charges of injury to a child/causing bodily injury and agreed to testify against his co-defendant, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported online Thursday.

Does this merit eight years in prison?  In light of the following, perhaps it does:

Drug tests showed the youngsters had marijuana and cocaine in their bodies. When the video was made, the children’s mother was sleeping in another room, police have said. She was not arrested.

Somehow these little ones came across cocaine, and that scares me.  Yes, this 18-year-old in Texas was wrong.  My question is, would he have done this today at all if Nancy Reagan had taken us down a different path twenty-eight years ago?

I wonder where we would be today if, instead of declaring a War on Drugs in 1980, Nancy Reagan had declared war on a legal system that punishes drug offenders instead of treating them for the medical problem they have.

That’s right.  We’re treating drugs punitively.  “Three strikes and your out” works great in baseball, but this simplistic mantra has become our de facto manner of treating drug use.  Why not treat drug abuse as a medical problem?

I know this may seem like a stretch, but indulge me a bit.

What if we declared a War on the Common Cold?  Wouldn’t we all feel like we were doing something positive?  What if we locked anyone up who had a cold?  Wouldn’t that solve the problem of this nefarious virus that we can’t kill, but must tolerate until it decides to go away?

No, that would be silly.

There was a time in human history, however, when that was precisely our response to illness.  We didn’t know any better, perhaps.  But today, we do.

I know what I’m saying sounds absurd, but if we had begun to shift our thinking in 1980, followed a new paradigm when it comes to drugs, I wonder where we would be now.  What if, instead of arresting alleged offenders, sending them to jail for a few days or prison for a few years, we had begun to treat drug abuse as a medical issue?  Would we have more than one in 100 adults in the United States in jail or prison today?

With more than 2.3 million people behind bars, the United States leads the world in both the number and percentage of residents it incarcerates, leaving far-more-populous China a distant second, according to a study by the nonpartisan Pew Center on the States.

Our final solution in the War Against Drugs was to incarcerate.

How did that work out?

We need to seriously consider the legalization of marijuana.

No, sorry, I don’t smoke it.  I’m not interested in smoking it, but I’m convinced we’re solving little to nothing about the proliferation of drugs in our society by throwing kids in jail, seizing automobiles, requiring community service, and building more prisons.

Am I suggesting that drugs should be a free-for-all, available on every corner?

No.  We already have that.

The problem is, it’s so damn easy to write another law or pass another ordinance.  In fact, it requires no thought at all to throw a kid in prison, treat him or her like a wild animal in a cage, and wonder why we’re not winning the “War Against Drugs.”

We’re not winning because “war” is the wrong paradigm.

We need to completely rethink our response to the problem of drugs in our society, and we all have to rethink this together.

Mayor Daley’s Firm Stance Against Guns

Despite news that some suburbs are crumbling before the Supreme Court’s recent liberal interpretation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is standing firm.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Mayor Richard Daley was adamant Friday about Chicago’s intention to defend its handgun ban in court, despite news that a second area suburb was likely to repeal its ordinance next week.

The second suburb, Morton Grove, is set to repeal its first-in-the-nation handgun ban next week. Wilmette has already suspended its handgun ordinance.

In typical Daley-esque fashion, Hizzoner was adamant:

“Morton Grove can do anything that it wants,” Daley said at an unrelated news conference.

“I don’t look at this lightly—that, ‘Oh, because the Supreme Court’s done it we’re just gonna dismiss it and all of a sudden people can arm themselves,’” he said.

Daley’s concern is for the men and women on the front lines.  He’s also concerned about the proliferation of firearms in society.  When do we say enough?

From the Sun-Times:

“You have to look at a new ordinance in order to protect firemen and policemen going to the scenes of people who have armed themselves in their home. … We serve and protect. We’re not supposed to lose our lives … Morton Grove can do anything they want. What I’m saying is you have to look at the first- responders and how it’s gonna jeopardize their lives.”

The mayor’s laundry list of questions does not stop at the safety of first-responders. He wants to know just how far the Supreme Court is prepared to go to protect the 2nd Amendment.

“It’s just not allowing people to arm themselves. How many guns do you have — 50, 60? Can they have a .357 Magnum? Can they have ammunition that will go through a wall? What is the liability of the owners? … Do you have to have insurance if you have a gun? How much ammunition can you have if there’s a fire? If a fireman is going to your home and you have 40 weapons and 1,000 rounds, do we have a responsibility to notify all the neighbors?” Daley said.

Daley is considering drafting yet another ordinance, taking into consideration the Supreme Court’s recent split decision.

I’ve criticized this man before, but I admire his tenacity.  It may just take this mayor to stare down the Supremes.  I’ll bet they blink first.

Barack Obama, ‘A World That Stands As One’

As Prepared For Delivery
Berlin, Germany
July 24th, 2008

Thank you to the citizens of Berlin and to the people of Germany. Let me thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier for welcoming me earlier today. Thank you Mayor Wowereit, the Berlin Senate, the police, and most of all thank you for this welcome.

I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen – a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.

I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father – my grandfather – was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning – his dream – required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.

That is why I’m here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.

Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehof.

On that day, much of this continent still lay in ruin. The rubble of this city had yet to be built into a wall. The Soviet shadow had swept across Eastern Europe, while in the West, America, Britain, and France took stock of their losses, and pondered how the world might be remade.

This is where the two sides met. And on the twenty-fourth of June, 1948, the Communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin.

The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.

And that’s when the airlift began – when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.

The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.

But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city’s mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. “There is only one possibility,” he said. “For us to stand together united until this battle is won…The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty…People of the world, look at Berlin!”

People of the world – look at Berlin!

Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle.

Look at Berlin, where the determination of a people met the generosity of the Marshall Plan and created a German miracle; where a victory over tyranny gave rise to NATO, the greatest alliance ever formed to defend our common security.

Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings and the somber stones and pillars near the Brandenburg Gate insist that we never forget our common humanity.

People of the world – look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.

Sixty years after the airlift, we are called upon again. History has led us to a new crossroad, with new promise and new peril. When you, the German people, tore down that wall – a wall that divided East and West; freedom and tyranny; fear and hope – walls came tumbling down around the world. From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps were closed, and the doors of democracy were opened. Markets opened too, and the spread of information and technology reduced barriers to opportunity and prosperity. While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny, the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history.

The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope. But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers – dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean.

The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.

As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.

Poorly secured nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, or secrets from a scientist in Pakistan could help build a bomb that detonates in Paris. The poppies in Afghanistan become the heroin in Berlin. The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow. The genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all.

In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth. And if we’re honest with each other, we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny.

In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe’s role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth – that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.

Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more – not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.

That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another. The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.

So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.

That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations – and all nations – must summon that spirit anew.

This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.

This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO’s first mission beyond Europe’s borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.

This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.

This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century – in this city of all cities – we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.

This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all.

This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace. And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.

This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations – including my own – will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.

And this is the moment when we must give hope to those left behind in a globalized world. We must remember that the Cold War born in this city was not a battle for land or treasure. Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs; instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust – not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.

Now the world will watch and remember what we do here – what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words “never again” in Darfur?

Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time.

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived – at great cost and great sacrifice – to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom – indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us – what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America’s shores – is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.

These are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of these aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of these aspirations that all free people – everywhere – became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of these aspirations that a new generation – our generation – must make our mark on the world.

People of Berlin – and people of the world – the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.

Tinley Park Loses Personal Info for Thousands

Thousands of people have reportedly been put at risk by the Village of Tinley Park.  According to the SouthTown Star:

The Social Security, bank account and driver’s license numbers of anyone who has given his or her personal information to the Village of Tinley Park in the last 10 to 15 years may have been on a back-up computer tape the village lost in June.

About 19,000 residents should be getting letters in the mail about the incident, village manager Scott Niehaus said. That’s how many residents likely are affected, Niehaus said, adding that the risk that anyone could access the information on the tape is slim. About 1,400 current, former and retired village employees also should be getting a notice, Niehaus said. By law, vendors don’t have to be notified, he said.

No one suspects foul play.  According to village officials in Tinley Park, this appears to be an accident.

As our ability to store vast amounts of information on increasingly small media, risk for this type of “accident” only increases.  Do you wear a flash drive around your neck?  Personally, I don’t favor storage devices as fashion statements, but I’ve seen enough people wearing them.  How easy they are to misplace, sometimes.

Too bad for just about everyone in Tinley.

John Ray’s Box of Human Bones

I really don’t get this guy at all.

Park Forest resident John Ray still has his box of human bones.

Recall Ray’s tale of how he came by the remains:

Ray said he bought the grisly collection, albeit accidentally, at an estate auction in Shipshewana, Ind. There he bought a tattered, 150-year-old book titled “The History of the American Indian.” Packaged with the book was a cardboard box layered in duct tape.

“The dealer said, ‘Wait till you get home to open it up,’ ” Ray said of the box. “He said, ‘You’ll really be pleased with it. It’s like a little gift from Santa Claus.’ ”

But Ray said he didn’t wait until he got home. When he got to his car, Ray split the box open with a pocketknife. To his shock, the book was packaged with the bones. He marched back to the dealer, who refused to take back the “gift.” The dealer claimed to have bought the remains at a separate estate auction earlier in the year.

According to the Southtown Star:

Ray, who claims he’s kept a box of human bones in his Park Forest residence since 1982, said he plans to take a few bones to Indiana’s LaGrange County Sheriff’s Department in the next few weeks.

The next few weeks?  Does this man really care that he has the remains of a human being in a box in his home?  Or is it about him?

Ray said he hoped to start the process this week by digitally photographing all the bones and sending the photographs as well as their lengths and proportions to the LaGrange County Sheriff Department.

Afterward, Ray said he would deliver the bones to the department in person.

“Those bones being buried wherever they belong would be a great ending to this story – whatever direction it heads,” Ray said.

I don’t get this at all.  How do you walk around your home for 26 years with a box containing the remains of a human being?  If someone sold you a box of human bones, wouldn’t you call the police — immediately?  Was this person the victim of a homicide?

My disquietude with this grisly tale only heightened the other day during a chance encounter with John Ray.  As I was walking my dog around the neighborhood, Ray was outside.

He approached me and asked, “You been reading about me?”

All I could think of was that box of bones nearby somewhere inside his residence.

“I’m wondering who keeps a box of bones in their house for 26 years?” I said.

“You want to talk about it?” he asked.

“John, I’m walking my dog.”

“Oh, okay.”

No, I did not want to “talk about it.”

A credible source in Park Forest reports that Ray is writing a “screen play” about the bones.

Sounds like it’s all about him.  In 26 years, the Park Forest police have no record of a call for service about these remains.  Only recently was Ray concerned enough to come forward.

Ray recently told the Southtown Star, “Whoever this kid is, he deserves better.”

No kidding.

Lighten Up, Barack: We’re Laughing At You, and It’s Not Funny

Senator, your people need to chill. Big time.

The Huffington Post reports today the Obama campaign is banning journalists who give Himself bad press:

Forty journalists, including such leading correspondents as Dan Balz of The Washington Post, will be aboard his plane for next week’s swing through Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and England.

The campaign received 200 requests for press seats on the plane.

Among those for whom there was no room was Ryan Lizza, Washington correspondent of The New Yorker. The campaign, which was furious about the magazine’s satirical cover this week, cited space constraints in turning him away.

The Senator from Illinois, you know, the “presumptive presidential…” blah, blah, blah, is starting to throw tantrums like President George “The Decider” Bush. Anyone remember Helen Thomas in exile? From Slate Magazine, 2003 (“Screw You, Mr. President“)”:

At his televised news conference last week, President George W. Bush deliberately snubbed several reporters he ordinarily calls upon, including journos from the Washington Post, Newsweek, and USA Today. But the most conspicuous recipient of the 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. freeze-out was longtime UPI reporter Helen Thomas, who has barbed and grilled every president since John F. Kennedy and almost always gets to ask a question. Bush pointedly ignored her.

The Huffington Post is spot on in its criticism:

Wow. So it’s gonna be like that, is it? Retribution for unfavorable coverage is a chilling thing to contemplate — literally, as in, it carries with it the very real risk of chilling bold, outspoken coverage. Whatever one thinks of the New Yorker cover — that it was clear satire that clearly lampooned ridiculous rumors, that it went way overboard, that it was a comedic misfire — a robust press can’t operate under threat of reprisal for unwelcome items.

We’re hoping this childish behavior is coming from Obama’s staffers as opposed to Obama himself.  The word in Chicagoland is some staffers in Barack’s Loop campaign office are just downright rude – a bit taken by themselves and the access they currently enjoy.  They’re giving Obama a bad reputation.

Barack Obama is not a hothouse plant.  He’s being vetted for the most important job in this country, which happens to be a democracy.  Obama has made it abundantly clear that spiteful and pretentious hoity-toity toward the press and the rest of us is beneath him.  It should be beneath those close to him as well.

Jodi Weis is Not the Problem

Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis is scheduled to be grilled publicly in City Hall by aldermen hungry for a scapegoat over the recent surge of violence in Chicago. City Council is up in arms, pun intended, over what Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th) called “unprecedented violence” at this year’s Taste of Chicago.

From the Sun-Times:

Embattled Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis will face the music this morning about the surge in homicides and other violent crime that boiled over at Taste of Chicago — and it probably won’t be pretty.

Aldermen and their constituents are angry about the gang and gun violence that has killed and injured so many young people. They want answers from a rookie superintendent who, they fear, has spent more time fighting police corruption than fighting crime.

They’re angry because it happened at the Taste. But it happens EVERY DAY on Chicago’s South Side! Where has this outrage been hiding?  There are deeper questions here about violence in America that continue to go unasked and unanswered.

Today is a day for sanctimony. This evening, there will be more shootings in Chicago, and the aldermen and mayor will barely take notice.