Sunday, October 3, 2010

Joel Pollak's new tv ad

Another example of Joel's positive campaign.

Not again, Rep. Schakowsky!

Jan Schakowsky sent a fundraising email to supporters attacking Joel Pollack's warm-fuzzy introductory campaign ad.

Really, Mrs. Schakowsky: what's wrong with this ad?

Where exactly is it misleading? No, it doesn't mention Andrew Breitbart because most voters don't know who he is. It doesn't mention the Tea Party or Hudson Institute. It's designed to attract voters, duh, not turn them off or bore them. As for Joel's stance on issues, geez, Jan, he only has 30 seconds.

What we find grossly dishonest is Mrs. Schakowsky's pitch to her supporters: "In order to respond, we need to hit our fundraising deadline by midnight tonight." And, "Can you give us $10, $15 or $20 to make sure we can respond to this misleading ad?"

Mrs. Schakowsky is outraising Joel 6-1. According to, she has over $0.5 million in the bank. Why exactly does she need more campaign cash to respond to this positive ad with the nasty attack ads that she wants to run? Can't she just borrow $1-$2 million from her husband? The cries of poverty are dishonest and frankly embarrassing for a six-term entrenched incumbent.

Congresswoman, we think your supporters are tired of listening to you whine about your opponent. Cut the attack ad. Let's see if it's in you.

Campaign 2010!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Favorite albums

License to Ill Beastie Boys
Thriller Michael Jackson
Purple Rain Prince
Phantom of the Opera Andrew Lloyd Webber
Graceland Paul Simon
Forever Your Girl Paula Abdul
Madonna Madonna
Like a Prayer Madonna
Different Light Bangles
Come On Over Shania Twain
Greatest Hits Fleetwood Mac
Rhythm Nation 1814 Janet Jackson
The #1 Hits Elvis Presley
Pump Up the Jam Technotronic
In My Tribe 10,000 Maniacs
So Peter Gabriel
Joshua Tree U2
Laundry Service Shakira

Favorite movie list

Read 'em and weep!

Fast Times at Ridgemont High
The Road Warrior
Uncle Buck
The Breakfast Club
Stand By Me
Star Wars
The Empire Strikes Back
When Harry Met Sally...
Escape from New York
Blade Runner
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Snow White
Little Mermaid
Song of the South
My Cousin Vinny
Moulin Rouge
The Cutting Edge
Crimes and Misdemeanors
L.A. Story
...say anything
Nick & Nora's Infinite Playlist
Before Sunrise
Some Kind of Wonderful

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dave Matthews Band to play Wrigley Sept. 17-18

The Chicago Cubs sent an email message to neighbors of Wrigley Field reminding residents of the Dave Matthews Band concerts this Friday and Saturday night. Isn't it odd that Dave Matthews can play Wrigley Field on Friday and Saturday night (even if Friday night is Kol Nidre), but the Cubs can't? Who is Wrigley Field's primary tenant? Hard to tell! The message indicated comments could be sent to, so we responded accordingly:

Thank you for your message reminding Lakeview residents of the upcoming Dave Matthews concert series.

I think it's a real shame that an out-of-town band is permitted to play at Wrigley Field on a Friday and Saturday night, but the ballpark's own tenants are forbidden from doing so. It's almost as though the Cubs are strangers to their own ballpark. By running through the City Council a bill permitting these concerts, Ald. Tom Tunney is really sending the Cubs an insulting message. Out of town bands? No problem--pick your night. Hometown heroes? One-twenty pm, suckers.

I hope the new ownership works hard to bring 55 night games per season, 7 nights a week, to Wrigley Field. The Cubs and their long-suffering fans deserve nothing less.

Whachootalkinbout, Ryno?

Hall of Fame second baseman and current Iowa Cubs manager Ryne Sandberg wants to manage the Chicago Cubs. The position is currently vacant for the 2011 season pending the front office's final decision.

We've heard from people who knew Ryne Sandberg personally that he is not that bright, to put it mildly. His comments on Cubs Insider Sunday morning seemed to confirm that he is not smart enough to manage at the major-league level. He believes Wrigley Field and the day-game schedule (only 30 home night games instead of 55, like all other teams) are to the Cubs' advantage despite their miserable record of mediocrity and 102 years without a title. After angrily typing out a letter to the manager of the Iowa Cubs, we settled on this toned-down version:

Sept. 15, 2010

Mr. Ryne Sandberg
Iowa Cubs
1 Line Dr
Des Moines IA 50309-4640

Dear Mr. Sandberg:

I found your comments on the Sept. 12 edition of Cubs Insider on WGN Radio grossly inaccurate and irresponsible. You mentioned Wrigley Field and day games as being advantages for the Chicago Cubs. Given the Cubs’ championship drought, I don’t understand that. How many World Series championships have the Cubs won in the night-game era (1939-present)? They have never won a championship while playing in Wrigley Field. In fact, the Cubs’ habit of winning pennants stopped abruptly right around the time their opponents shifted to a night-game schedule. Furthermore, since 1945, the Cubs have exceeded 50 wins per season in Wrigley Field just three times. The Cardinals have won 50 games per season more than three times just in the previous decade. So rather than being an advantage, it seems that the day-game schedule and Wrigley Field present real obstacles to winning.

For the Cubs to have a reasonable chance to win a championship, they need the ownership to make extensive upgrades to Wrigley Field’s seating and player facilities—similar to the K.C. Royals’ $250 million ballpark upgrade before this season. Most importantly, the ownership needs to persuade the alderman to allow the Cubs 55 night home games per season, seven nights a week—just like their opponents. Just like the Yankees, who are perennial contenders. In this endeavor, the Ricketts family will need public support from the players and coaching staff. Comments celebrating the day-game schedule that dooms the Cubs to mediocrity are not helpful.

Best wishes for the offseason.



["Winning a pennant" means reaching the World Series but not winning it.]

Jan Schakowsky: "You have everything to fear"

There's a fascinating contrast between U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky's campaign website,, and her fundraising letters to supporters. The website is designed to reach out to everyone. The letters are targeted to Yellow Dog liberal Democrats. In the letters, the congresswoman warns that if she loses her seat, and the Democrats lose the U.S. House of Representatives, your worst nightmares might come true:

Rep. Joe Barton will become chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee!
Rep. Paul Ryan will chair the Budget Committee!

Sarcasm isn't nice. So we won't add any here. Let's merely point out what she didn't mention:

Rep. Nancy Pelosi will no longer be the Speaker of the House!

If Rep. Schakowsky had reminded voters that a Republican takeover of the House would remove Pelosi from her role as Speaker, she just might have unwittingly sent money flooding into Joel Pollak's campaign. But she's a campaign veteran. She didn't mention Pelosi. Good move, Congresswoman.

Schakowsky, who opposes Americans' Second Amendment right to bear arms, reminds me of Former NRA Spokesman Charlton Heston, whose most famous line was "From my cold, dead hands." Rep. Schakowsky is desperate to hold on to her congressional seat in the worst possible way. She will paint her opponent with the worst excesses of the extreme right despite his moderate views. We're convinced the only reason she hasn't accused him of racism is because his wife has dark skin. She aims for the underdog label--"A fighter for our side" is her new campaign slogan--despite her 6:1 fundraising advantage and her place among the Democratic Establishment. Furthermore, Schakowsky and her convicted felon husband Robert Creamer are millionaires. We're waiting for Creamer to lend her campaign $5 mil or so. She can't run on her embarrassing tax-and-spend record, plus no benefits for her Ninth District. So she runs a negative, scorched-earth campaign that is unbecoming her office and her character.

Chicago without Hizzonerdamare?

A friend and avid reader requested comment on the City of Chicago's upcoming regime change.

First, we congratulate Mayor Richard M. Daley on 21 years of service to the city. We wish him well. Thanks for the memories.

And tax increases. And massive deficits. And more tax increases to cover them. And the lakefront monstrosity that Soldier Field became. And Meigs Field's midnight closure. And the fact that the "Parking meter revenue" line item on the city's balance sheet will show "$0.00" until 2083, barring any change.*

Any alderman has a built-in political base that gives him or her an advantage in the mayor's race over a less-organized candidate. Unfortunately, aldermen are part of the problem that helped us reach this point: the city's horrible financial situation. No thank you, Ald. Burke.

We like Sheriff Tom Dart. But Dart and White House Chief of Staff Rahm "Rahmbo" Emanuel are both Daley guys. So it's possible that during Dart's or Emanuel's term, Hizzonerdamare would still be pulling the strings behind the scenes, or sitting at the controls behind the curtain. Pick your metaphor. Either way, it would hardly be the fresh start the city desperately needs.

That's why we believe the best candidate would be one who comes from Chicago's extensive business community. He would happily sink $5-$10 million of his personal wealth into the race to raise his public profile, create name recognition and get voters and the media talking. Of course, this person could be female, too.

With that much money, this candidate would probably be on a first-name basis with the mayor. But he also would be powerful enough in his own right that he need not heed the mayor's command.

In some ways, Mayor Daley made Chicago better. In others, we will be paying for his mistakes for decades to come. The financial mess is inexcusable. In light of the political hacks we have come to expect running Chicago, we fear for more of the same.

*Change meaning a lawsuit successfully negating the lease or LAZ Parking abandoning it due to decreased profitability.

Red Line Washington stop remains closed indefinitely

Back in March, this page wrote about the cta Red Line's closure of the Washington stop and how great it is that trains stop just once between Grand Avenue and Monroe Street. From reading Jon Hilkevitch's column in the Chicago Tribune, I learned that the cta has no plans to reopen the Washington Red Line stop in the forseeable future. Fantastic. Now could we please close Madison/Wabash on the Loop Elevated too?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Is there a plot to undermine Judaism?

I'm trying to think of the non-Jewish equivalent of non-kosher restaurants hosting Jewish holiday meals. First it was Pesach; this week it's Rosh Hashanah.

For those with reservations at non-kosher restaurants for the Rosh Hashanah prix fixe meal Wednesday evening, here's a better idea: Wrigley Field. First pitch, 7:05--just 13 minutes after candle-lighting.

Why is a Cub game a better idea? Because the connection to Judaism is the same: there is none. The difference is the Cubs don't pretend that their game is a Jewish event. By hosting Rosh Hashanah dinners, the non-kosher restaurants are sending a message: "We can do your holiday better than you can--treif kitchen be damned."

Don't let them get away with it!

Do these restaurants host lunch buffets for Muslims during Ramadan (when Muslims are prohibited from eating during daylight hours)? Of course not. Catholic meals with steak on Fridays during Lent? Just the opposite: restaurants, correctly and respectfully, offer fish-on-Friday menu specials during Lent.

So why insult Jews with non-kosher meals on two of the most important (and most observed, along with Yom Kippur) holidays of the year?

What's next--a singles dance/nightclub event on a Friday night?

Already on the calendar.

The annual Christmas Eve event will go on as scheduled despite Christmas Eve falling on Friday this year. Moving it up 24 hours to Thursday night wouldn't affect attendance; no one goes to work on Dec. 24 when it's a Friday.

Why are so many working so hard to turn Jews away from tradition?

GOP chooses Tampa for 2012 convention

Good call, Republicans.

Tampa and St. Petersburg lie on the critical I-4 Corridor, where several hundred thousand swing voters live. I-4, which isn't really an interstate, heads east from the Gulf to Orlando and then northeast to Daytona Beach. Perhaps by nominating Gov. Mitt Romney (or a player to be named) in Tampa, the Republican campaign for president can secure a head start in reclaiming Florida.

The Democratic search committee is still choosing from Cleveland, Minneapolis, Charlotte and St. Louis. I'm a little surprised Chicago is not in the running as the president could sleep at home instead of a hotel during Convention Week. Also, as anyone who was here in 1996 knows, we put on a hell of a show. Three of the four cities are in swing states (not Minneapolis). The Democrats need to hold on to Ohio and would like to keep North Carolina. St. Louis has its benefits if the delegates can withstand the St. Louis humidity in early September.

Really, Congresswoman?

Tea Party Glenn Beck Sean Hannity Neo-Con right-wing blog right-wing ideologues 32-year-old.

And that's just a single fund-raising letter.

Congresswoman Schakowsky, you've represented the Ninth District of Illinois for six terms. You were the president of your freshman Democratic class in 1999. You should be proud to run on your record. And the best you can do is guilt by association?

Really, Congresswoman? Isn't such mudslinging beneath a Member of Congress of your stature?

Were you making a salient point in noting your opponent's orthodox Judaism? Or was this a sleazy attempt to stir anger and antipathy among your base of liberal Jews?

Joel Pollak made several corrections to the falsehoods and misstatements in your letter. To add one more: Joel has not characterized your support for the president and a two-state solution as anti-Israel. He has characterized your friendship with Helen Thomas and your alliance with J Street as anti-Israel. Feel free to defend these connections. In fact, you responded to questions about J Street with a "wait and see" reply. One doesn't join an organization--or speak at its Chicago kickoff event--and then determine what its Israel policy turns out to be. That would be irresponsible.

It appears, Congresswoman, that you are taking your reelection campaign marching orders from the House leadership and the DCCC, which warned against running on the records of Congress or the White House. Good move. If you were forced to defend your record, voters might notice:

--how you vote for earmarks to help other districts but cannot bring any federal government money to your own.
--how Obamacare is going to cannibalize Medicare, endangering your base of senior voters.
--how your husband Robert Creamer went to prison for felony check-kiting. What did you know and when did you know it, Congresswoman? You owe your constituents an explanation.
--how you repeatedly lie (state in error?) regarding job creation statistics relating to the federal stimulus package while your district continues to lose thousands more jobs--faster than Illinois as a whole.

And organizing hecklers at your opponent's campaign events, Congresswoman? Really? Isn't that beneath you?

Oh, well. Back to the name-calling.

By the way, talk show host Glenn Beck uses two "n's" in his first name. You might want to make a note of it for your next fund-raising letter. And "Neo-Con" is a code word for "Zionist."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Is a Wrigley championship impossible?

In a recent article, USA Today listed two obvious reasons the Cubs have so much difficulty winning in their ancient ballpark: not enough night games and antiquated facilities. As previously noted here, however, those obstacles are easily fixed. A more serious problem lies in the ballpark's architecture and location: the tendancy of the wind to control the outcome of games.

Lake Michigan lies about a mile east of that dump Wrigley Field. The lake breeze can blow in on hitters. A western or southwestern wind blows the ball out. Since the wind is so inconsistent, it's impossible to tailor a starting lineup for slugging (blowing out) or small-ball (blowing in). The Cubs have exceeded 50 wins per season at home just three times since 1945. (Also due to the day-game problem.) The Cubs' divisional archrival Cardinals have won 50 games at home three times just in the last decade. That suggests a serious problem.

Besides the obvious solution of a full slate of 55 night games at home, the Cubs need to consider raising the ballpark outer walls to eliminate the wind factor. Obivously, doing so would block the view of the rooftop seating across Waveland and Sheffield Avenues. The rooftop operators pay the Cubs a healthy percentage of each ticket sold. We believe the Cubs' best move is to buy out all the rooftop owners and rebuild the ballpark edifice, possibly adding seats within the ballpark if rooftop seating is no longer viable. Once the ballpark is protected from the wind, the Cubs would no longer need to worry about an additional opponent in their efforts to win ballgames.

Kim Jong-Il to meet the media in Hong Kong

[Simultaneous English translation]

Thank you very much for meeting me in this beautiful city. I love visiting Hong Kong when I'm not threatening the world with complete annihilation. To that end, I have a major announcement. After meditative prayer and careful discussion with my senior advisors, I have decided to end the state of war between the People's Democratic Republic of Korea and South Korea. Furthermore, I would like to begin peace and unification talks immediately--either here in Hong Kong or in Seoul.

Toward that end, I am announcing the immediate termination of the People's nuclear weapon programme. Threatening our southern neighbors and the West in order to receive food and oil is no way to treat friends. I invite the United States and international inspectors to supervise the shutdown of the nuclear weapon programme. From now on, we only intend to use nuclear power to provide heat and power to our long-suffering people.

There is nothing like 61 years of starvation, famine, desperation and despair to prove that our socialist/Communist system does not work here on the Korean Peninsula or anywhere in the world. Are you listening, President Obama? I'm kidding! But seriously, folks, I will need your help in converting our system to a market-based, free capitalist economy.

I am going to continue my rule of the PDRK, though no longer with an iron fist. I plan to stay on only long enough for an election to be scheduled and a new president to be elected. All international observers except Jimmy Carter are invited to make sure the upcoming election is fair.

Since we now welcome political dissent here in the PDRK, there is no longer any need for the gulags holding political prisoners. Today, I am ordering all political prisoners to be released to their families immediately.

We hope the Korean Peninsula will be unified and able to realize its full potential by Jan. 1, 2011.

A message from Tom Ricketts--I hope

Thank you for attending this press conference on short notice.

Owning the Cubs has been an absolute dream come true. After spending so many summer afternoons and evenings in the bleachers, I never could have imagined running the team I followed growing up. When I bought the Cubs form Tribune Co., I told Cubs fans worldwide my goak is a World Series championship, and for the Cubs to be a perennial National League power. Little did I know how difficult this challenge would turn out to be. I have decided to do whatever is necessary and possible to bring home aWorld Series championship. The night-game comproise, agreed to by the previous ownership group, is absolutely unworkable if the Cubs are to compete for a championship with any frequency. I have asked my friend Ald. Tom Tunney to submit to the full City council a bill rescnding the night-game limit, effective with the start of the 2011 season.

I have also asked the alderman to give fast-track approval to the extensive construction and renovation plans we have for the main grandstand, which will begin as soon as the Cubs play their final home game of the season. We hope to complete the renovation by Opening Day, 2011. We are confident that visiting Wrigley Field will be a much more enjoyable experience for Cubs fans once the main grandstand and concourses are rebuilt. It's absolutely essential that we have tom's full cooperation as we change the Cubs' 20th Century malaise to a 21st Century powerhouse. We will be unable to field a competitive team here in Lakeview without Tom's assistance.

As for the Cubs' on-field struggles this season, make no mistake: a tradition of losing is no longer acceptable here. When we arrived before the start of this season, we took on some very bad long-term contracts. We will no longer permit those contracts to interefer with our pursuit of a World Series championship. Players whom we believe are not contributing to our goals will be traded or released. There will be no exceptions.

We said at the beginning that this was Year One, not Year 102. Nothing has changed. Next year is a new opportunity, and we intend to take full advantage. Thank you very much.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Can you handle rebuilding, Cubs fans?

The Chicago Cubs' current record is atrocious. It is good for fourth or fifth place in the NL Central, 11½ games behind the division-leading St. Louis Cardinals. They are officially playing out the string.

Why not rebuild? The Cubs have been afraid of suffering at the gate during a rebuilding period, especially if that takes more than one year. With one-third of Cubs home games played during the business day, that concern is certainly understandable. But doing little or nothing should not be an option, either. Is ownership's goal to make a profit with a mostly full ballpark? Or is it to win a World Series? Writing from the desk of a lifelong Cubs fan, it had better be the latter.

Rebuilding is a challenge. Fans need to keep the faith. To see how it works, one only need look as far as Philadelphia and Detroit. The Phillies, recently so bad they were the Sillies, won the World Series in 2008 and lost the Series in 2009 to the Yankees. The Tigers were horrible in the early 2000's but won the pennant in 2006. They lost the World Series to the Cardinals.

Cubs fans more accustomed to 95-loss seasons than division championships would consider a pennant-winning season a huge accomplishment--a first for most fans. A World Series championship--the first since 1908--would make a lifetime of devotion worthwhile for millions of Cubs fans.

The 2006 season embarrassed Cubs management. The Cubs lost 96 games, and thousands of empty seats at Wrigley Field appearing on Cubs tv broadcasts shocked the front office. To make matters worse, White Sox tv ratings surpassed the Cubs' ratings. The Cubs had been Chicago's tv darlings for decades.

The Cubs' management sprang to action. It hired manager Lou Piniella, and the Cubs cruised to two straight division crowns. Unfortunately, the Cubs extended their postseason losing streak to nine games and their postseason record in California to a very sad 0-7.

Without a serious ownership commitment to rebuilding as well as a full night-game schedule, I'm afraid this is what we have to look forward to: a division championship once or twice a decade. That's it. Forget World Series glory. It's up to you, Mr. Ricketts. You're The Man. Make it happen.

Friday, July 23, 2010

There you go again, Your Honor

As if! As if we didn't have enough evidence that Chicago's elitist City Council has nothing but disdain for the proletariat class it is elected to serve. The new handgun ordinance, passed on the mayor's orders in the wake of the city's handgun ban being overturned in court, is designed to prevent a citizen from using his gun to defend himself. Are the alderman subjected to the same limits they forced on their peasants? Unlikely--after all, they excluded themselves from the handgun ban during its 28-year existence.

The city's Legal Department, led by Mara Georges, will spend millions of dollars the city doesn't have defending the law in court from challenges. These challenges come from citizens who dare to defend themselves from the thugs who own the streets in so many Chicago neighborhoods. What is the point, really, of a one handgun per month purchase limit? Of banning handgun possession on a porch or in a garage? The mayor's attempts to disarm the people are baffling. Restricting each residence to one operational handgun (the others disassembled) makes perfect sense if one presumes more working handguns endanger the residents. That's up for debate, and that decision should be up to the individual homeowner, not Hizzonerdamare.

Another part of the law bans gun stores within the city limits. This is almost certainly unconstitutional as a gun is now a legal product in Chicago. Mara Georges' reasoning was, Well, no alderman would allow a gun shop in his ward, so we decided to ban them.

How preposterous. And arrogant. This motley City Council crew of 50 men and women will not be aldermen forever. With luck, many will pursue other opportunities next year. Considering how popular urban gun ownership is, it's very possible a new, pro-gun alderman would welcome a gun store in his ward. The city ordinance doesn't allow for such an eventuality. The alderman would need to introduce a waiver to the law and persuade his colleagues to pass it.

Just as there are liquor stores and automobile dealers within the city limits, gun shops deserve an opportunity to conduct business. Mayor Richard M. Daley may not like it. When the law is thrown out, he'll find it's not always his call.

Chicago's 2011 budget $700 mil in hole

Where did the money go?

What is the price of corruption?

What is the City of Chicago's projected budget deficit for 2011?

There's a question with an answer. It's a mind-boggling $700 million. Assuming a population of 2.9 million, each resident would need to donate $241.38 to the city to balance the budget. ($659.18 per capita.) A grand for a family of four.

Remember the telethon for Detroit in Robocop 2? This is far worse.

It's almost inconceivable that the city's budget situation has reached this nadir. City residents spend thousands of dollars every year on taxes and fees. Vehicle sticker, handgun ownership fee, sales tax, restaurant tax, liquor tax, gas tax, parking garage tax, parking tickets, traffic tickets, red-light camera tickets, and amusement tax (a portion of the ticket price of a movie, sports event or show). Businesses in the city pay for operators' licenses, liquor licenses and an employee head tax. There are probably other examples. Tourists and business visitors are hit hard, with steep airport, hotel and car rental taxes and fees.

Parking meter revenue is not part of that list because the city doesn't see it. Mayor Richard M. Daley and a compliant City Council sold the parking meter revenue to LAZ Parking for 75 years. They sealed that deal less than two years ago, in December, 2008. Now the Sun-Times reports 90 percent of that up-front money is gone. Of course some of it was intended for immediate budget deficit needs. But all of it? Even if the city drained the fund to prop up its 2011 budget, a $520 million deficit would remain. And the parking meter revenue would still be off-limits for 73 years.

How did the city financial situation get this bad, this fast? There are two costs that are difficult to quantify but play major roles in budgeting malfeasance: corruption and the lack of any political opposition in the city.

There is a corruption scandal linked to Hizzonerdamare's office about every six months. It's always about money--lots of it--and contracts.

In other large cities, proposed budgets with their tax and fee increases are subject to lively debate. In Chicago, the budget is whatever the mayor wants it to be. As a result, there is no control--no system of checks and balances to fight tax/fee increases or egregious spending. The result is predictable: a $700 million shortfall.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Can Jan hang on?

Joel Pollack took down Rep. Barney Frank. Can he hold his own with another liberal House stalwart? After just two different Members of Congress represented the Ninth District in the House over the last 62 years,* the District could certainly use "A Fresh Start."

The polls report the president's approval ratings have fallen sharply. More seriously, a majority of Americans no longer trust the president to make major policy decisions. That's not the type of person Americans typically vote to re-elect.

Concerns about skyrocketing debt, the possibility of higher taxes and a Big Government takeover of health care and so much more would naturally lead to a year with big Republican gains in Congress.

How does this voter unrest translate to the Ninth District of Illinois?

Rep. Jan Schakowsky's most loyal voters, who already voted for her six times, love Big Government. They love higher taxes. They love entitlement spending. They love taxpayer-funded abortions. They love gun bans. They love unions. They love federal spending on the arts, as if the arts were at all the federal government's business. Some of them love sticking it to Israel.

So the Republican Party's alternate message may not resonate with many Ninth District voters. These voters' active dislike of conservatives may be so strong that they will vote to re-elect the Congresswoman just to annoy Republicans. Furthermore, Rep. Schakowsky does a masterful job of portraying herself as the underdog (a six-term incumbent loaded with campaign cash? Some underdog!) fighting the good fight against those bad Republicans and their "far right-wing agenda." This goes on even as her husband goes to prison for a check-kiting scheme. Putting fear into the minds of voters may will result in a surfeit of fund-raising cash and a seventh term in office.

In 1996, a great year for Democrats with a big re-election win for President Bill Clinton, Joe Walsh ran against 87-year-old Ninth District Rep. Sidney R. Yates. This was Yates' first serious opposition in 14 years. He was so concerned about losing his precious seat he flew to his home District to campaign and ended up winning re-election by eight points.

With almost no money and a loosely organized campaign force of volunteers, Walsh had Yates thinking about retirement. (Walsh is now running against Rep. Melissa Bean in Illinois' Eighth District. Yates retired in 1999 and died in 2000.) Could Joel Pollack close that eight-point gap? Stay tuned.

*Sidney R. Yates 1949-1999. Another member served 1961-63. Jan Schakowsky 1999-present.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

No more treif meals at restaurants on yontif!

July 7, 2010

De Pescara
2124 Northbrook Court
Northbrook IL 60062

Dear Sir or Madam:

I noticed that last fall, you advertised a Rosh Hashanah dinner at your restaurant. I am writing to ask you not to repeat that event this year because it is in direct violation of Jewish law regarding major holidays. Since driving and spending money are forbidden on holidays, Jewish holiday meals are traditionally eaten at home, not at restaurants. Furthermore, Jewish dietary laws present a host of problems for a restaurant accustomed to serving food off-limits to Jews. These food items include: shellfish, non-kosher meat and wine, and dishes with mixed meat/dairy ingredients.

You are probably unaware that it is in very poor taste for a non-kosher restaurant to invite Jews in to eat their holiday dinner. At the very least, it’s terribly inappropriate. I would never pretend to serve a traditional Italian dinner because my kitchen is not equipped to produce such a meal. Similarly, your kitchen is designed for traditional Italian cuisine, not a festive Jewish kosher dinner. I would ask again that you refrain from scheduling another Rosh Hashanah meal.


No thank you, Art Institute

July 19, 2010

Ms. Amy Katherine Radick
Membership Director
Art Institute of Chicago
111 S Michigan Ave
Chicago IL 60603

Dear Ms. Radick:

Thank you for your written invitation to join the Art Institute. The letter and accompanying brochure make a very impressive presentation, and the discount certainly makes the offer an attractive one. Unfortunately, I must decline the invitation at this time.

The reason for my refusal is what I consider to be the Art Institute’s outrageous admission price increase last year. The Art Institute no longer allows low- or fixed-income guests to pay what they wish, and special exhibits are now restricted to members during free admission periods. While the Art Institute is cutting itself off from those who can least afford it, it inhales hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer funding annually. Regardless of whether we visit the Art Institute or not, taxpayers in Chicago, in Illinois, and all across the country are “friends” of the museum.

How much would admission cost if the Art Institute refused public funding? In that case, major donors, members and visitors would be solely responsible for the Art Institute’s revenue—as it should be. In that case, admission prices and the CEO’s salary would not be public issues.

I realizes there is no admission fee on Thursday evenings (thanks to corporate sponsorship), and there is one free week in February. It is still very difficult for most families to visit during these times. Instead of the library admission card program, with its limited availability, I would suggest that each Chicago family be permitted one complimentary visit per calendar year. Sure, you could black out winter and spring break to control crowds. The people who unwittingly underwrite the Art Institute’s budget should have the chance to enjoy it.

Thank you again for your invitation. I will continue to visit the Art Institute on Thursday evenings.


Scott Rolen lays it on the line

All-Star third baseman Scott Rolen made the Chicago Cubs miserable during his St. Louis days. While his new team, Cincinnati, took three out of four from the Cubs over the holiday weekend in Chicago, Rolen spoke to the Chicago Tribune.

"The Cubs are very limited facility-wise, and that dramatically limits the work the players can do day to day. The clubhouse and weight room are significantly below par. They play a different schedule from everybody else in baseball. The day games are very hard to deal with day after day. Plus, when you have so many different starting times, from 1:20 to 12:05 to 7:05, then play mostly night games when you go on the road, I think the Cubs have their backs against the wall."


Scott Rolen gets it.

Wrigley Field's night-game limit of 30 games per season just about kills the Cubs' chances of winning a pennant. A majority day-game schedule was just fine when everyone else shared it. There was no nighttime Major League Baseball until Cincinnati turned on the lights in 1939. Teams added night games gradually. By the 1970's, all teams but the Cubs played a majority-night game schedule that continues, with some minor adjustments, to this day. The 55 night games other teams play at home is 83 percent more than the Cubs play.

Major League Baseball's move toward a night baseball schedule coincides almost exactly with the Cubs' pennant drought. I don't know whether the Cubs played any night games in 1945, their last pennant-winning season. I doubt it. The World Series was certainly a matinée affair as MLB did not schedule any Fall Classic games at night until 1971 (Pirates over Orioles in seven).

The Blackhawks' and Bulls' signings are done, and Bears' camp is still two weeks away. As much as they want to avoid it, the spotlight of Chicago sports turns to Cubs GM Jim Hendry and owner Tom Ricketts. Hendry and Ricketts should be able to produce coherent answers to media questions such as, "How do you plan on building a championship team?" "When can we expect another championship run with a pennant as a realistic goal?" The Cubs' postseason losing streak stands at nine games.

The lack of clubhouse space, training room space, exercise space and indoor batting cages at Wrigley is probably like a football team trying to compete without a weight room. The owner and GM should immediately designate a full-time employee to work to achieve a massive facilities upgrade and a full night-game schedule.

The Arizona Diamondbacks had their first season in 1998, playing in a gorgeous, taxpayer-financed, retractable-roof ballpark. They won the World Series in 2001, beating the Yankees in seven games. Now mired in last place, the owner fired his manager and general manager, signaling a complete shakeup of the ballclub.

I hope Mr. Ricketts is paying attention.

Gun ban advocates speak out

After the United States Supreme Court struck down Chicago's handgun ban, public reaction was swift. In the July 3 Voice of the People (letters to the editor) column of the Chicago Tribune, a liberal Chicagoan opines, "[The Second Amendment] was a good law when our nation was formed, but society has changed in such a way that the keeping of arms now poses more danger to the average American than it does to democracy."


Thank you, professor, for making this proclamation for all of us. I think the Second Amendment keeps American safe, but who am I to argue?

He goes on.

"I believe in 2010, a national poll would support the revocation of the Second Amendment."

Hmm. Makes one wonder, doesn't he?

No need to worry, Mr. H. Rasmussen just took a national poll. Guess what? Not so many people agree with you!

This is yet another example of the presumptuous, elitist left-wing mindset. This guy lives in a nice lakefront neighborhood in Chicago. He can afford ADT home security. He wants the people hardest hit by gang violence and home invasions to remain defenseless in their homes.

Back to the Rasmussen poll. Eighty percent of gun owners support the right of Americans to keep guns in the home. That sounds a little low, but otherwise it's not surprising. Of Americans who do not own guns, 55 percent support the right of others to pack heat. So this poll contradicts this gun ban advocate's theory that America shares his views.

From Glen Ellyn, a nice, safe suburb deep in DuPage County, about 25 miles from Chicago: "The NRA and its Republican comrades can rest comfortably now that the conservatively packed Supreme Court has made it much easier for the purveyors of gun violence to make our society the armed camp they have long sought."

Great letter. Once again, another left-wing elitist believes it's the Supreme Court, the GOP and the NRA against all of America. The reality is that one-third of American homeowners celebrate their Second Amendment right by keeping guns in their homes. Does that constitute an armed camp? Too bad. That's America.

As a side note, Mayor Richard M. Daley raised the specter of the Wild West when he thought about losing this case in front of the Supreme Court. Statistically, Chicago is much more violent than the Wild West, with its handgun ban in place, even after adjusting for population.

The next letter is different because the author lives near Lawrence and Western Avenues in Chicago, which is a bit gritty and not so nice. Here is his second paragraph:

"If 30 shootings and three deaths occurred the weekend before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Chicago's handgun ban by a 5-4 vote, imagine the numbers after access to handguns is unlimited."

I am imagining. And I imagine the homicide rate will drop.

Many homicides in Chicago are gang-related. These teenagers and young men--murderers and victims--already have guns. The end of the gun ban will have no effect on gang-related crime. It will, however, reduce robbery and home invasions, with a commensurate drop in murder in the course of a felony.

These three left-wing elitists have this surreal concept that law-abiding citizens, once armed, will run amok shooting each other. This idea just isn't supported by the facts. In 48 states, citizens can pack heat inside and outside the home. Yet Chicago, that gun-free city where concealed carry remains illegal, has a crime rate and murder rate among the highest in the country.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Government-enforced elitism

As a card-carrying member of this country's intellectual elite, I chafe at the elitism of government. "We know what's best, so we're going to tell you what you can or cannot do; and we're going to take your money because we know best how to spend it." I understand that we live in a representative democracy. Approximately one-fifth of the citizenry are too illiterate to fill out a cheque; a similar number are functioning alcoholics. It's probably a good idea for public officials to have some semblance of intelligence. Unfortunately many of these same public officials let their intelligence go to their head.

This may be a recurring theme here. I'd like to focus briefly on three items that come to mind:

1. Handgun restrictions and bans. In my opinion, handgun bans are advocated for and passed by people who live in safe neighborhoods and can afford monthly ADT bills specifically to limit the ability of people who live in dangerous neighborhoods to defend themselves. The concept is idealistic--wouldn't it be great if America were gun-free?--but in the end, only helps criminals prey on defenseless victims.

2. Taxpayer-funded museums. It costs about $100 to take a family of four to Shedd Aquarium, the Art Institute, or the Field Museum of Natural History. Most families cannot afford that; or if they can, it's a very big deal and a significant portion of their fun fund. Yet these institutions inhale taxpayer money to the tune of the deep six figures each year. They receive support from the city, the state and the federal government so the privileged few can enjoy them. To me, this is outrageous. These institutions have ready access to millions in major-donor gifts and foundation grants. I think we should yank their public funding and make them private institutions. Then they may charge what they want, and those willing to pay may do so.

3. Taxpayer-funded media. With the infinite internet and thousand-channel cable television, our media choices are boundless. Yet the taxpayers are supposed to support PBS, National Public Radio and classical music radio? Why? Why should Joe Lunchbucket, who works 50 hours a week to feed his family, pay taxes to support institutions largely enjoyed by the high-income intellectual elite? How do these media outlets benefit him? They don't. It's the governmental elite telling Joe that his tax money is better off being spent on these media outlets rather than on his kids' shoes.

SCOTUS shoots down Chicago

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff in MacDonald vs. Chicago, a landmark case in which the defendant argued for the ability to deprive its citizens of their Second Amendment right to defend themselves with handguns. The Supreme Court affirmed that Chicago is indeed part of the United States, and regardless of the wishes of its mayor, its citizens are entitled to exercise their constitutional right to defend themselves.

Not so fast, said the City Council. After first considering a limit of one handgun per person (illegal), the aldermen settled on one handgun per person per month. I'm glad I'm not limited to one blog post per month; or one members' meeting of The V Show Fan Club per month. Those limits would infringe on my First Amendment rights. The City Council's law infringes on Chicagoans' Second Amendment rights. Is there a constitutional difference? We'll soon find out. One alderman--Robert Fioretti (2nd), as I recall--warned gun advocates about taking the City to court. Of course, Alderman. The little people wouldn't dare assert their constitutional rights. The law enacts a $100 gun possession license valid for three years. Since this is more than the cost of processing, the license fee is illegal: the city cannot charge its citizens to invoke their Second Amendment rights. The law bans more than one gun in the home being operational; the others must be disassembled. Who is going to enforce that? Stormtroopers? (G-d forbid.) My sense is people who own more than one consider their firearms like fire extinguishers; they want one at the ready on each floor in case of intruders. I don't see how this part of the law is at all helpful in quelling crime; it seems only helpful in weakening law-abiding homeowners. The law also bans gun possession in garages, porches and outside staircases. So criminals know they're safe in those parts of a residence, where the Second Amendment doesn't apply. The law bans gun sales in the city--certainly unconstitutional. The city cannot ban from sale an item the U.S. Supreme Court insists is legal.

"I can't imagine why anyone would oppose these reasonable regulations," squealed Ald. Joe Moore (49th). Because they're illegal, Alderman. Because they restrict your peasants' constitutional rights. Because they want the same right your long-serving colleagues kept for themselves 28 years ago while banning it for their constituents.

On an issue seemingly controversial in the city, in which two residents successfully defended themselves with handguns they owned, and in which the Chicago Tribune estimates there are 100,000 handguns, this ordinance passed 45-0. I wonder if the aldermen excluded themselves from these restrictions like they did from the original 1982 handgun ban.

Quick question: how does one bring home his just-purchased gun from a gun store outside the city? If it is concealed in one's vehicle and one is stopped by police, who conduct a "probable cause" search, then the concealed weapon violates the state's ban on concealed weapons. If it is in plain sight, and the police see it from their vantage point outside the vehicle, then it violates the city's law against possession away from home. And how does one transport the weapon to the city's mandated target practice sessions? I would love to see the trial for the possession charge.

This is just another example of Chicago's City Council doing the bidding of Hizzonerdamare Richard M. Daley with no debate or public input. If the Tribune's estimate is true, perhaps 10 percent of homeowners protect themselves with handguns. Shouldn't they have a say in how their Second Amendment rights are being trampled upon?

Is this love built to last?

After Tuesday's friendly meeting at the White House between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pro-Israel Obama supporters are keeping their fingers crossed.

They're hopeful there will be no more new apartment complexes in Jerusalem that make the president David Banner-angry. Not like the ones that are built in Washington and New York all the time with no complaints from the Israeli government.

They're hopeful there will be no more flotillas that caught the White House off-guard by starting a disagreement between two allies.

In short, they're hopeful there will be no further developments that would put the president in a tight spot as the 2012 election draws closer: torn between his leftist, anti-Israel supporters and his overwhelming command of the Jewish vote, which is staunchly pro-Israel. During his Administration's 18 months, the president has tried to straddle the fence: appear pro-Israel at home while presenting an Arabist or neutral position abroad. This strategy produced sharp drops in the president's approval ratings in both camps.

Avoiding another incident seems almost impossible. It's likely better for the president if Israeli-Palestinian peace talks do not resume. Any progress peace talks produce would enrage Iran and Syria as well as mobilize the "Arab street." Another regional Mideast war might ensue, putting Israel at the top of the news and the president in the middle again. Aside from peace talks, it's only a matter of time before a terrorist is successful; or CNN shows dead babies; or Israel permits its citizens to build more homes. For the president, that spells trouble.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wrigley costs the Cubs wins, Mr. Ricketts

Let me first note how gracious it was of Mr. Ricketts to respond personally to my letter. As Mr. Ricketts noted in his response, there are many demands on his time due to his position as owner of a Major League Baseball club.

My first point was to suggest a major renovation of Wrigley Field's main grandstand, which I believe has fallen into disrepair. Mr. Ricketts assured me it is perfectly safe. I'm sure he is right. But that solves barely half the problem. The Cubs currently charge top-tier prices (highest in the National League) for a third-rate fan experience. Any baseball fan fortunate enough to visit one of the 24 Major League ballparks built in the last 20 years notices significant differences right away: wide concourses, ample concessions and gift shoppes, clear sight-lines, and fan-friendly scoreboards and video boards. Also, from the owner's standpoint, Wrigley Field cannot produce revenue streams from luxury suites, club levels and VIP seating that other clubs enjoy. Wrigley looks and feels like a 96-year-old ballpark ill-equipped to handle large crowds 81 times a year. Only a major renovation with a rebuilt grandstand, I believe, will bring the Cubs to their rivals' level. Mr. Ricketts seems to think otherwise.

My second point is more serious and more pressing because I believe it affects the Cubs' on-field performance. I humbly suggested to Mr. Ricketts that he lobby the Cubs' alderman for more night games. Bigger crowds, higher television ratings, more television revenue, and fans being able to see games without leaving work early are all benefits of an expanded night-game schedule. The Cubs are also at a competitive disadvantage from playing 45 percent fewer home night games than their rivals. Whether it's five consecutive matinée starts (June 30 - July 4, 2010) or too many night games followed by day games, the players' rhythm is thrown off by their matinée-heavy home schedule. If the shortage of home night games costs the Cubs five wins a year, that's too many. I think it's a lot more. The new ownership group should be doing everything within its power to bring a World Series championship to Wrigley Field. I understand Mr. Ricketts wants to be a "good neighbor," as he put it. But that should not be his first priority. His first priority should be a World Series championship.

Furthermore, it seems the alderman and Hizzoner Da Mare have raised the community concerns regarding night games to mythological levels. Is the whole community against night games? Or is it the Little Old Lady at Addison and Southport? I would love to see a poll of the community; the Cubs might be pleasantly surprised. I attended a community meeting in November, 2003 regarding a proposed increase in night games. Despite the opposition's strong organization--by then it had been functioning for more than 20 years--attendees were overwhelmingly in favor of more night games. "Why stop at 30?" one man asked to resounding cheers. The Cubs have been in the neighborhood since 1916 and have hosted night games since 1988. A whole generation of children--the usual reason given for night-game restrictions--has grown up with night baseball in Lakeview. The Cubs' owners in the 1980's made a grave mistake agreeing to night game limits, and that is now restraining the Cubs' ability to win games.

Forcing fans, especially season ticket-holders, to miss work to attend games is elitist. The White Sox play three games during the business day this season (other than Opening Day, a traditional matinée). The Cubs play 27. Would a fan making a game-day decision prefer a game in the afternoon heat or an evening start with a breeze blowing in off the lake? Through 27 home dates (June 12), the Chicago Tribune reports Cubs' attendance is down 1233 fans from 2009, which the Tribune estimates is a $1.2 million hit to the Cubs' bottom line. That's serious cash, especially when one considers the Cubs are holding the three worst contracts in Major League Baseball: Carlos Zambrano, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs cannot afford to wait for the current 30 night-game agreement to expire after the 2018 season. Despite Mr. Ricketts' desire to be "good neighbors," the Cubs need to act sooner rather than later. The one constant difference between the Cubs and the 26 teams that have won pennants since 1945 is night baseball. Yes, the Cubs' ownership was cheap and negligent for decades. Yes, the Cubs have had terrible luck. But the Cubs always play with a significant disadvantage because when other teams were busy installing lights and moving to a majority night-game schedule, the Wrigleys stuck it out. Cubs fans are still paying for that 65-year-old mistake.

Remember that banner some Cubs fans paraded through Wrigley Field in 1984? "39 Years of Suffering is Over," it said, referring to the pennant drought.

No, it isn't. And now it's 65 years. 102 years if one is counting championships.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Mr. Ricketts writes back

On Feb. 12, I wrote a letter to Tom Ricketts, the new owner of the Chicago Cubs. In this letter, I suggested the Cubs need a complete ballpark renovation and a full night-game schedule to compete on even terms with their rivals. On June 7, Mr. Ricketts wrote back. Here is his letter:

As you can imagine, the past year has been a busy one for the Ricketts Family. Words cannot describe how excited we all are to finally be a part of this great franchise. Because of all the activities involved with taking ownership of the Cubs, I have been unable to answer my personal mail as quickly as I would have liked. Now that the season is well under way, replying to this mail has become my next priority.

I read with great interest your suggestions on improving Wrigley Field. After meeting with various structural engineers, we have been assured that Wrigley has 'good bones.' It is our goal to reinvest the profits back into the stadium to preserve the Wrigley experience for the next generation. We have already begun some of these upgrades such as improved restrooms, a batting tunnel arcade, a new and expanded weight room, kitchen and nutrition center as well as a players' lounge. But, because it is a 100-year-old park, it will take time to implement all the changes that are desired.

At the current time, there are no plans to add more night games to our schedule. We want to be good neighbors and part of the community so we need to be respectful of the neighborhood we 'live' in. However, we have not ruled out possibly adding more night games in the future.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write. It is always a pleasure to hear from a fellow Cub fan.


[signed: Tom]

Tom Ricketts

Can mikvah use save the world?

A group of Jews in Borough Park and Petak-Tivka are spreading the message that the answer to our problems is for Jewish men and women to use the mikvah ritual immersion pool on a regular basis. They add that a Jewish family should spend on mikvah outreach the amount it spends annually on its own mikvah use. Mikva-Tikva estimates this to be $250-$500, which is probably accurate. (A woman who is neither pregnant nor nursing might spend $250 for the year; her husband's annual pass would probably cost the same.) The organization also advises against: using non-Hebrew names; smoking in public; and buying foreign cars.

When these men came on a fundraising visit to a shul where I was davening shacharis, one member used the term "silver bullet." He's probably right. Mikvah use can be very inspiring and fulfilling for men and women. It's a step in the right direction. But it won't solve all our problems.

One minor note: automobiles with Big Three nameplates have so many foreign-made parts; and so many foreign automakers produce vehicles in the U.S.--that the difference between a domestic and foreign automobile is no longer so clear. A Chrysler can have a German engine, and a Honda can be shipped all the way from Kentucky.

They're right about smoking. Limiting smoking in any way--not on shabbos, not with others, not indoors--reduces usage. And that is a critical step to a healthier, smoke-free lifestyle.

4 years in captivity for Gilad Shalit

Hamas terrorists captured Cpl. Gilad Shalit on June 25, 2006. Hamas released a one-minute video of Shalit last year proving he is still alive. He has had no contact with the outside world--no visits by neutral parties, the Red Cross, or medical attention. Besides being a violation of the Geneva Convention, as Stand With Us points out, it is outrageous and disgusting that a human being is being subjected to being held hostage by a terrorist group simply because he was an Israeli soldier.

The demands by Stand With Us are legitimate. One conversation. One doctor. One Red Cross visit. The continuing hostage crisis is not tenable. Hamas has no interest in giving up Shalit other than possibly exchanging him for hundreds of terrorist prisoners being held by Israel, most with blood on their hands. This would merely encourage the terrorists to repeat the kidnapping. Shalit does not deserve to be the Terry Anderson of this decade. (Anderson was held by Hezbollah for six years in Lebanon in the 1980's.) Besides the clear existential threat Iran presents, the Israeli government and military should turn their attention to bringing Shalit home. This would necessarily include aggressive military action against Hamas.

I realize this didn't work last time. But Israel's mistake was ending its operation without securing Shalit's freedom. Bring Gilad home, Israel. We're all counting on you.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Is registration safer?

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, Mayor Richard M. Daley seems resigned to his favorite law's fate. Chicago's 28-year-old handgun ban, enacted with the hope of reducing violent crime, will most likely be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court before it adjourns for the summer. In the interview, Hizzoner Da Mare indicated he will require handgun registration. This is necessary, he says, to protect emergency response teams who need to know if a home is armed.

In another report, the same newspaper estimated there are 100,000 illegal handguns in homes all over Chicago. Obviously, most of these are not registered because it is currently impossible to register a new handgun legally in Chicago. (Handguns owned before the ban went into effect are legal.) Let's say there are one million households in Chicago. Maybe ten percent of these have guns. Once the ban is overturned and a registration law goes into effect, how many of these gun owners will bother to register them? Registration fee, licensing fee, fingerprinting fee--for a right that the Supreme Court says is really none of the city's business?

Mayor Daley can blather all he wants about the need for registration to protect cops and firefighters. When one considers that only a percentage (small percentage?) of handguns in the city will be registered, his pronouncements make about as much sense as his certainty that the handgun ban reduces crime.

Is it time for Ron Santo to go?

I had planned on questioning Ron Santo's intelligence on this page after reading that he said "rock scientist" instead of rocket scientist and "slime flu" instead of swine flu. If he really isn't familiar with the common American phrase "rocket scientist" and didn't peruse 2009's top news stories to learn what swine flu is, maybe he shouldn't be broadcasting Cubs games. On the other hand, this has been his job for 20 years. He turned 70 years old this year.

In a June 21 story, Chicago Tribune Sports reporter Dave Van Dyck wrote that Ron Santo will be cutting back on his travel schedule in 2011. He will most likely keep to a 300-mile travel radius, working Cubs games in Milwaukee, Cincinnati and St. Louis in addition to home games. The Tribune also printed two online postings from readers urging Santo to retire. Whether to keep him on or push him out was a topic on at least two different sports radio shows on June 21.

What is the issue? I was about to say that due to poor health, old age or low intelligence, Santo's contributions to the radio broadcast rarely rise above simple cheering good news for the Cubs or loudly lamenting the Cubs' woes. Apparently his delivery hasn't changed much in 20 years, so I'm afraid it's the latter. Most announcers, play-by-play and color, prepare for each game (or at least each series) by studying the opponent. There is no evidence Santo takes the time to do this. Most color commentators provide intelligence and wisdom to the game and valuable insight from their on-field experiences. Santo played Major League Baseball for about 15 years, but it's difficult to tell from listening to him during Cubs games.

I would suggest the Cubs move Santo to a weekly radio show in which he talks about the Cubs. But that would require intelligent thought and discussion on his part. So such a show is most likely over his head.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Self-defense in the city

Back when I was young, ignorant and naïve, I supported a national handgun ban. It sounds good in theory; guns kill people, so if there are no more guns, violence drops sharply. This theory works perfectly in Mayor Richard M. Daley's dream cloud.

In practice, there are 250 million guns in the U.S. About one-third of American households are armed. No one proposes sending the National Guard to conduct house-to-house search-and-confiscate missions, so those legally-owned guns are here to stay. Local handgun bans prove fruitless as legal weapons in the next town are portable.

During a period of living in the city unarmed, defenseless and dependent upon public transit, I realized weapons neutralize the thugs' physical superiority. Inside one's home, a gun-owners' advantage is even more pronounced. A home invader, desperate as he is for valuables and cash, isn't interested in a gunfight he may lose.

Two final notes.

I have never seen gun-ban advocates suggest that police be disarmed. So they understand intuitively that to keep the citizenry safe, someone needs to pack heat. Since the police can only respond to a violent crime in progress, that someone might as well be us law-abiding citizens.

There were two recent incidents in which Chicago residents defended themselves with weapons they owned illegally. One, an 80-year-old African-American war veteran, shot an intruder who shot out a window to enter his home. The other, a 27-year-old resident of South Austin, shot someone fleeing police who broke into his home. In both cases, Chicago Police did not charge the men with possession of illegal firearms. Why not? Because a citation or arrest--for men using firearms to protect their homes--would create a media sensation and embarrass the Office of the Mayor.

So the secret is out. Chicagoans need not fear prosecution for using handguns in self-defense--which is the reason law-abiding citizens purchase them.

The ash bin of history

There is a t-shirt that lists all the countries that tried to wipe out the Jews. Ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and more, up to the "previous German government," as I like to call it. It's a long list. And all those countries, incredibly, lie on the ash bin of history. Once great civilizations, some of the most advanced of their time, exist today only in history books.

It's a startling record for countries for which antisemitism played a major role in shaping domestic policy. One would think this list would also serve as a guide for countries in our era that make decisions regarding policies toward Jews. Sadly, too many countries, motivated by religious hatred, ignore the lessons of the past. They continue to treat their native Jewish population horribly (Iran) and/or arm Israel's enemies (Iran, Syria). Will their antisemitic efforts seal their fate?

Existence vs. co-existence

When debating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in writing or in person, any number of issues are available for debate: borders, Jerusalem, the two-state solution, the status of West Bank settlements.

These topics are worth discussing among individuals who support the existence of a state of Israel in its current location, with final borders to be determined. Unfortunately, there are far too many partisans who claim to be Palestinian rights or human rights activists who advocate for Israel's destruction.

There are several explanations for this deep-seated anti-Israel, antisemitic sentiment. For some (millions?), it is purely religious. They believe Jews have no right to live in the Middle East, much less run a country on some of the most sacred land on earth. Anti-religion leftists and socialists cannot accept a country that has so successfully wedded religion, democracy and a thriving capitalist economy. And the Jewish anti-Zionists are deeply ashamed, rather than proud, of the beacon of hope and democracy that Israel, the Jewish state, represents.

Just as it is difficult or impossible for a Zionist to have a civil debate with someone who advocates Israel's destruction, one wonders how Israel is expected (demanded?) to negotiate peace with groups that declare her destruction as their solemn reason for being.

Chicago shows its love

The Chicago Blackhawks know how it feels to play in front of SRO crowds of 22,000 fans for every home game, all season long. They could read the ratings reports of how many thousands more were watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Finals on tv. I don't think they were at all prepared for the spectacular reception they received during their June 11 victory parade. No one, least of all the players themselves, expected two million people, many dressed just like them, to line the parade route, welcoming the returning heroes. The players were pleasantly surprised if not overwhelmed.

The Stanley Cup championship banner will be a permanent addition to the United Center rafters. The Blackhawks players' and coaches' names will be etched in silver to the Stanley Cup. To a team left for dead three seasons ago, with crowds resembling those of college basketball in Chicago (sad), the Blackhawks' turnaround and resurgence is stunning and refreshing for young and old fans alike. Congratulations to the players, coaches and management for making this dream come true for millions of Blackhawks fans.

Where was the ref?

It took four seconds for the on-ice officials to stop the clock June 9 and whistle play dead after Patrick Kane scored his game-winning, series-ending goal at 4:06 of overtime. This was in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Flyers scored at 15:59 of the third period and were ecstatic about having tied the game. They had momentum going into overtime, and there was a sense in the Wachovia Center that they would score quickly and carry that momentum to Game 7 in Chicago.

Kaner had other ideas. Why did the ref fail to point toward the net, indicating a goal had been scored? When the puck moves into the net out of the neutral zone, a referee positions himself directly behind the goal or just off to one side so he has a clear view of any goal scored. So when Kane scored, was the ref out of position?

No, he wasn't. He was opposite Kane, to the right of the net. He should have been in great position to witness and verify Kane's unbelievable shot from an impossible angle. But right when Kane let it fly, a Flyers player skated straight toward the referee. He moved out of the way and checked the dasherboard behind him, making sure he wasn't in for a collision. Taking his eyes off the puck and the net, the referee didn't see Kane's goal. Thus the goal indicator light stayed dark, and the clock continued to run.

Tell it like it is, Helen

The late sportscaster Howard Cosell was famous for his no-holds-barred, "telling it like it is" style, which often cost him.

I thought of Cosell when I watched Helen Thomas' nasty antisemitic outburst and read her phony apology a few days later. (She did not apologize for her deep-seated antisemitic rant; she actually apologized for being so honest.) I laud Thomas for her honesty and integrity. She did not hide behind a genteel mask of objectivity. As a long-standing member of Washington's elite, it's quite possible that Thomas could truthfully claim, "Some of my best friends are Jews." But she didn't. Instead, she implied the anti-Israel canard that Israel's Jewish citizens are invaders, colonists and illegal squatters. They should "go back" to Germany and Poland, those lands where six million Jews were murdered barely 65 years ago. Thomas is making a huge assumption that Germany and Poland would welcome Israel's five million Jews.

Lost in the brouhaha is that Thomas' sentiments are echoed by millions of anti-Israel partisans worldwide: that the Jews should "get the hell out." No one screaming in front of the Israeli embassies and consulates last week held signs demanding a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The protesters' message was best expressed by what anti-Israel speaker Abdel Malik Ali told a UCI student who had just invited the imam to shabbos dinner with his family in Israel: "There will be peace when you are gone."

Good for you, Helen. And good riddance, too.

Chillax, AIPAC!

The race for the U.S. House in Illinois' 9th District between six-term Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Joel Pollack is heating up. Many pro-Israel voters in the District are planning to vote for Pollack, disappointed in what they perceive as the Congresswoman not being pro-Israel enough.

According to a friend, AIPAC has weighed in. AIPAC, the strong-pro-Israel lobby in Washington, has put the word out to its supporters in the District: Don't vote out a Member with a 100 percent AIPAC voting record. AIPAC uses a plus/minus grading system to evaluate members of Congress as to how each Member votes for a bill relating to Israel. According to AIPAC, Schakowsky's voting record is perfect.

News flash to AIPAC: national elections are really none of your business. AIPAC is a lobby, not a PAC (political action committee). It can evaluate, but not endorse, criticize or financially support, Members of Congress. The voters of the Ninth District in Illinois elect a Representative for a host of reasons. For many of Rep. Schakowsky's most loyal supporters, her pro-Israel record is a pretty low priority.

So AIPAC, please: work on lobbying Members of Congress, and we'll work on electing them.

Tax the parking contractor

A friend came up with a solution to Chicago's parking contract problem. Besides numerous complaints about egregious rate hikes and meter boxes in what had been free zones, the real problem is the contracts' chief benefit is almost gone. The 75-year contract provided the city with billions in upfront cash in exchange for relinquishing meter revenue, with regularly scheduled rate hikes, for the next 75 years. While there was an understanding that some of the upfront cash would be spent right away to balance the city's budget, there was also an expectation that the city would bank the remainder for a "rainy day fund." Instead, Hizzoner Da Mare Richard M. Daley is thinking exactly the opposite: that future boom times will be needed to refill the coffers of the parking contract account. (By the way, how many tax cuts did the city allow in the boom 1990's? That's what I thought. And the mayor appears unopposed for re-election in a mere eight months.)

So my friend suggests passing a state law that levies an annual fee of $100 million on parking contractors for cities of more than one million people. There is only one such city in Illinois. I told him that if such legislation passed, LAZ Parking, the contractor, would sue. My friend, an attorney, believes the legislation would withstand a legal challenge. Whether it would withstand vigorous, vehement opposition from the mayor is another matter. If it passed, LAZ would likely be forced to abandon its control of Chicago's parking meters, ceding meter revenue back to the city. While this would be a revenue bonanza for the city, it would seriously undercut the mayor's ability to make deals with other contractors. The contractors would hesitate, fearing an unpopular deal would be made prohibitively expensive by the clowns in Springfield.

Some conspiracy theorists, including The Parking Ticket Geek, believe that forcing out LAZ was the city's plan all along--to make a sucker deal look like a dream deal. I find that hard to believe. But the Illinois Statehouse could end LAZ's meter box reign--and return meter cash receipts to the cash-starved city.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chag somayach: now you're safe

Community alert for Passover:

"We are pleased to inform you that we have met with the Chicago Police Department, and there will be enhanced coverage around our neighborhoods, including all shuls, over Yom Tov. The additional police presence will be during the times that people will be walking to and from shul, and during the times that people are walking to meals. Also the Chicago Police Department, in conjunction with the Office of the Mayor, announced Jewish homes will be permitted to have loaded firearms on hand to deal with the increased occurrence of home invasions in the neighborhood."

As you may have guessed, the last sentence was my little joke. Of course Jewish homeowners in Chicago are not permitted to defend themselves, their families or their homes with handguns. The city took that right away decades ago, and the mayor is the law's staunchest supporter. Why should he need guns? He has taxpayer-financed 24-hour armed protection. The police presence in Jewish neighborhoods may succeed only in pushing crime to the east, away from the Jews. Nice for the Jews but not nice for ward residents across Western Avenue, who must feel like second-class citizens under their long-serving alderman.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Save Passover!

Those annual "Keep the Christ in Christmas" campaigns are intriguing. The Christians have a point that their holiday has become much more than that--one celebrated by Christians, non-Christians and (misguided) Jews. Now we see attempts to celebrate Passover with unheard-of levels of non-kosher food. These attempts attest to the holiday's popularity.

I just received an emailed "Spring Event" Jewish singles party invitation at a River North nightspot. It's scheduled for next Thursday night, an intermediate day on the Passover week. If the bar were kosher-for-Passover and the appetizers were limited to kosher-for-Passover catering, this party would be a nice complement to the holiday. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The invitation acknowledges as much by noting "Passover style" appetizers (or "treif," as I would put it) and lists the cocktails available, including rum. I pointed out to the host the only kosher-for-Passover alcohol I can think of is potato vodka--not very exciting.

Before I noticed the warning attached to the end of the invitation (reprinted below), I fired off a response to the host expressing my extreme disappointment with his decision to arrange a party over Passover. I suggested that next year he host a Shavuous-themed party (but not on Shavuous), with kosher wine, cheese and cheesecake.

What disappoints me so much is that this is the one Abrahamic faith in which we see so many examples of Jewish groups and institutions playing fast and loose with the rules. Think of other faiths and try to imagine:

1. A Christian singles group or website hosting a singles event during Holy Week.
2. A Christian singles group or website hosting a singles event on Christmas Eve, after sunset.
3. A Muslim singles group or website hosting a daytime event with food during Ramadan.
4. A mosque or Muslim group hosting an event at which alcohol is served.
5. A Latter-Day Saints singles group or website hosting a dance event at which alcohol and Coca-Cola are served.

These suggestions are absurd and ridiculous because they would never happen. Christians consider their holy dates holy. So do Muslims, and they take their fast month (and alcohol abstention) seriously. I think the Mormon bans on mixed dancing, alcohol and caffeine are silly, but that's their business, not mine. Yet over Passover, we are invited to attend:

1. A Jewish singles event that advertises it will be serving food and drink that is not kosher-for-Passover.
2. Synagogues all over town hosting seders that are not kosher-for-Passover and indicated as such.
3. Non-kosher restaurants hosting seders that, surprise, are not kosher-for-Passover.

Am I missing something? Why are people (most of whom, I suspect, are well-meaning) trying to take Passover away from us? Do your part: take back Passover! There's a reason for the season! Keep kosher for Passover! Avoid non-kosher seders! Stay away from kosher restaurants--just for this week! Avoid events that serve non-kosher food and drink!

Most people don't keep strict kosher. But everyone can do his or her part to maintain the integrity of the holiday. More than any other, this holiday defines the Jewish people. Let's keep it that way.

The text of the singles event invitation disclaimer:

"If you have any questions or concerns please email us at If you have concerns regarding a strict adherence to the laws of Pesach and Kashrut, please contact us for more information."

The disclaimer shouldn't say, "[P]lease contact us for more information" if you have concerns. It should say, "We recommend you join us another time." But that would run counter to the hosts' goal, which is to pack the nightclub with as many Jews as they can fit.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Does free speech cut both ways?

Much has been written about the anti-Israel fervor at the University of California-Irvine, fueled by its Muslim Student Association. MSA-UCI proudly participates in "Israel Apartheid Week" every year (just ended earlier this month). Last month, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren gave a speech on the UCI campus. MSU-UCI organized a protest. MSU members attended the speech and attempted to disrupt the speech by shouting down Ambassador Oren. They were ejected and arrested by campus police. That video is here:

With the help of a member of MSU who is also on the student council, Associated Students of UCI, MSU managed to pass an ASUCI resolution condemning the police action and praising the actions of the MSU students who disrupted Oren's speech. The Jewish students' reaction is detailed here: The YouTube video of their appearance before ASUCI is here:

In a post on MSA's own blog, MSA strongly objects to being investigated by the FBI (really?) for possible fundraising efforts on behalf of Hamas, which is illegal in the U.S. MSA alleges the FBI investigation was at the behest of the Zionist Organization of America. Perhaps this is just an opportunity for MSA to play the victim. In any case, the group's blog, at, had this to say about free speech: "This is only the most recent attempt to silence the MSU and restrict its constitutional right to freedom of speech, religion and association." And, "If anyone is acting illegally, it is the ZOA, by seeking to discard the very principles of the First Amendment in trying to shut us up and shut us down."

Apparently only one group on campus is entitled to free speech at UCI, and that would be the Muslim Student Association. It enforces its First Amendment smackdown with the aid and abetting of the student council, ASUCI.

What if MSU acted this way toward another group it philosophically opposes? Say, a group that advocates for gay rights? How would that play at a liberal campus in California?

I checked for Clubs and Associations at There is not just a club for gay students, but a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center, funded by student fees (and most likely taxpayer dollars). Its website is:

For the destroy-Israel movement, Amir Abdel Malik Ali is a great speaker. You can see him here: The MSU website has a link for his speeches at UCI, but it didn't work when I tried it: He is a great speaker and a great representative for his movement despite being a racist, a bigot and a demagogue. This is because he is African-American and does not have a Middle Eastern accent or appearance that characterizes so many men in the movement. This makes him much more appealing. I wonder how appealing he would be if he turned his attention to gay rights, which, as a devout Muslim, I'm sure he vehemently opposes. What if he spoke out against gay rights on campus? Would he be roundly booed? Shouted down? What if MSU organized a group attendance effort for a gay-rights speaker and shouted him down? Would the group receive widespread condemnation? Would it risk being kicked off campus by the dean of students?

It's worth a thought: to turn political correctness upside down. When it comes to Israel, the Muslim Student Association is the darling of the campus liberal extreme Left. When it comes to gay rights, though, MSA members better keep their damn mouths shut. Because they know what would happen if they picked that fight. Students just might exercise their First Amendment right to send MSA packing.

Is the seder the right time for song parodies?

In his Chicago Tribune blog, Eric Zorn annually lists various song parodies he and his fellow seder guests sing at the seders Zorn and his wife attend. (Mrs. Zorn is Jewish.) According to his March 18, 2010 post, he wrote "Super-Kosher Manischewitz, Exodus and Moses" to the tune of "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," the famous Mary Poppins song. The post is here:


On one hand, that's fine. This isn't Yom Kippur, after all. If Eric, his wife and other seder guests want to have a little fun at a truly joyous occasion, they should knock themselves out and have a good time. Publicizing this rite of spring might persuade others the seder isn't a drag. Perhaps that Jewish minority that doesn't attend seders might be show up for one.

On the other hand: I can hear family members screaming at me because I make seder requirements so restrictive. Just one restriction: the seder must be kosher for Passover. Zorn doesn't indicate whether his seder is kosher or not. He may not know. Regardless of whether his seder is kosher, I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter to him. He's not Jewish, but just as important, he doesn't grasp the gravity of the importance of the holiday. We escaped from Egypt--not just physically, when it actually happened, but spiritually, every Passover. Zorn misses out on that spiritual component of Passover, and that plays a very important role in a seder. For that reason alone, the seder must be kosher for Passover.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

CAMERA highlights mainstream media's smackdown

As the crisis between Israel and the US administration unfolded, an upsurge in Palestinian violence and public invective against the Jewish state was frequently distorted and minimized by the media.

On March 16, 2010, the Palestinian leadership –– Fatah as well as Hamas – called for a "day of rage," inciting their followers to riot after the dedication of the newly rebuilt Hurva synagogue in Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter. The synagogue had been destroyed in 1948 when Jordan seized the Jewish Quarter and expelled its residents. Following the historical pattern of their predecessors, the Palestinian leaders called for jihad in defense of Muslim holy sites, falsely claiming that the opening of the synagogue was the first step in Israel's plan to take over or destroy a Muslim shrine, the Al Aqsa mosque.

The New York Times article reporting on the rioting did not even bother to mention the Palestinian call to violence, nor was an anti-Semitic screed delivered in protest against the Hurva synagogue by Hamas reported. CNN's Newsroom, meanwhile blamed Palestinian violence on Israeli actions.

A few days earlier, the Palestinian Authority renamed a public square in Ramallah after Dalal al-Mughrabi, a Palestinian terrorist responsible for the 1978 Coastal Road Massacre, in which 38 civilians (including 13 children and an American photographer) were murdered and 71 wounded.

Much of the media, however, downplayed or ignored entirely this Palestinian incitement and glorification of terrorism. Instead, the focus was almost entirely on Israel's alleged "provocations" – the announcement that it would build new homes in Jewish neighborhoods in annexed Jerusalem. It was this stated intention by Israel, the public was informed, that threatened the possibility of peace negotiations. "One of the biggest obstacles to peace," the Financial Times declared, is the expansion of "settlements." Palestinian calls to kill Jews were not similarly labeled an "obstacle to peace.".

CNN’s Newsroom

CNN’s "Newsroom" essentially absolved the Palestinian leadership from blame and even justified Palestinian rioting, arguing that it was Israel’s rededication of the Hurva synagogue, and not the falsehood-fueled calls to riot, that sent Palestinians "over the edge."

The March 16, 9 AM newscast featured Kyra Phillips explaining the source of tension in Israel’s capital, and in the process, revealing her ignorance of the history of Jerusalem:

Here's the crux of the battle. The U.S. wants Israel to nix construction plans for east Jerusalem that would integrate the predominantly Arab part of the holy city. And as you know for centuries, Palestinians have always wanted this land as their state...

...Palestinians already angry about those construction plans have been sent over the edge by the reopening of a synagogue in east Jerusalem...

...Hamas called the protests after -- or called for the protests, rather, after yesterday's reopening of a synagogue that was destroyed during the 1948 Arab/Israeli war. [emphasis added]

The idea that Palestinian nationalism is a "centuries-old" phenomenon is dubious at best. Historian James L. Gelvin points out that "Palestinian nationalism emerged during the interwar period in response to Zionist immigration and settlement," and that "Palestinian nationalism developed later than Zionism."

Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis notes that the very concept of a Palestinian nation "was unknown" through the Ottoman period that ended in 1919. Even "the concept of Arab nationalism" did not reach "significant proportions before the outbreak of World War I."

This viewpoint is shared by many Middle East experts.

CNN’s 10 AM newscast similarly had Paula Hancocks justifying the Palestinian incitement by explaining that it was "because of that announcement last week of these 1,600 new homes in east Jerusalem." She expanded her blame-Israel theme:

This will always wind the Palestinians up as they're worried that Israel will try to push Palestinians out of east Jerusalem and also because there was a synagogue that was re-opened just 300 meters or so from the Al Aqsa mosque on Monday night. And that has caused tensions to rise and Hamas, the leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, in Damascus called for a day of rage today.

Again, CNN falsely cast the rioting as a grassroots response to an Israeli provocation, without noting the Palestinian leadership lied about their mosque being in danger.

New York Times

Perhaps best typifying the focus on Israel while whitewashing the major Palestinian role in deepening the conflict was an article by Ethan Bronner in the March 17th edition of the New York Times, published the morning after the Palestinian "day of rage."

The article virtually ignored the Palestinian violence (which Ha’aretz analysts Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel described as "more serious than anything similar over the past two years ") as well as its most immediate cause.

Instead, its focus was on Israeli building. Nineteen of the article’s 26 paragraphs dealt with Israeli construction in disputed territory. Only two referenced the violence, which resulted in numerous injuries and included rock throwing and even live fire by Palestinians.)

The reporter didn’t bother to inform readers that the violence was largely a response to the incitement. For example, there was no mention in this article of this Hamas statement:

We call on the Palestinian people to regard Tuesday as a day of rage against the occupation's [Israel's] procedures in Jerusalem against al-Aqsa mosque.

As Reuters acknowledged in its reports about the violence, "Hamas and Palestinian officials affiliated with its rival Fatah movement have said the restoration work at the ancient Hurva synagogue in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's walled Old City endangered al-Aqsa, situated some 400 meters away."

But although an earlier story by Isabel Kershner (about the rededication of the Hurva Synagogue, but not about the violence) did reference Hamas’s claim about the alleged "destruction of the Al Aksa Mosque" and relayed the American characterization of such claims as "incitement," Bronner’s article mentioned nothing about the incitement to violence, and misleadingly focused on Israel by stating only that the Palestinian rioters were "protesting Israeli control and construction in East Jerusalem."

Neither New York Times story informed readers that it was not only Hamas, but also Mahmoud Abbas’s supposedly-moderate Fatah movement, that spread lies about the mosque. As Ha’aretz’s Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff put it,

the Palestinian Authority is playing a very dangerous game – perhaps the most dangerous of it all – over Jerusalem and specifically the Temple Mount. Mohammed Dahlan, who is not known for his religious fervor, Khatem Abdel Kader, who holds the Jerusalem portfolio in Fatah, and others called Sunday on Israeli Arabs and residents of East Jerusalem to go to the Temple Mount today to "protect it from the Jews."

Also ignored in both Times articles was the virulent anti-Jewish hate speech accompanying Hamas’s lies about the destruction of the mosque. Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar stated that the Jewish people were destined to be destroyed.

"You who are opening Hurva are heading towards ruin," Zahar is quoted saying on the Web sites of the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot and Hezbollah’s Al Manar.

"Wherever you have been you've been sent to your destruction. You've killed and murdered your prophets and you have always dealt in loan-sharking and destruction. You're destined to be destroyed. You've made a deal with the devil and with destruction itself – just like your synagogue."

Washington Post

By contrast, a March 16 column by Washington Post commentator Richard Cohen, who has not hesitated to criticize Israel in the past, criticizes the media’s one-sided blaming of Israel. After noting that editorialists have been slamming Israel for its construction plans, he asserts:

it would have been nice for those same editorialists to have paused in their anti-Israel jihad to wonder a bit about the virtually simultaneous Palestinian veneration of terrorists. In fact, the determination in the West, particularly Europe, not to hold Palestinians morally accountable for terrorism -- as well as their commonplace anti-Semitism -- is a repugnant form of neocolonial mentality in which, once again, the Palestinians are being patronized.

Congresswoman, are you on Israel's side?

Pollak For Congress

March 17, 2010

Rep. Jan Schakowsky: Take a stand against the administration's attacks on Israel

This morning on the Don Wade & Roma show on WLS AM, Rep. Jan Schakowsky claimed that the Obama administration's attacks would not hurt the U.S.-Israel relationship. She the attacks were "not going to harm the long-term or even the short-term relationship between the United States and Israel," and she compared the argument to a marital dispute.

It is a completely inappropriate analogy, and one belied by the statement by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren that "Israel's ties with the United States are in their worst crisis since 1975" and that this was "a crisis of historic proportions." Rep. Schakowsky is failing in her duty to speak truth to power on behalf of the residents of her district, who overwhelmingly support a strong U.S.-Israel alliance.

It is time for Israel's friends in the United States to stand up and be counted. I call on Rep. Jan Schakowsky to join me in condemning the Obama administration's ongoing attack on Israel, America's most steadfast ally. I urge her to denounce the dangerous posture of J Street, the far-left organization that she helped found in Chicago last month and which is backing the administration's hostile approach against the Jewish State.

Last week, the Obama administration attacked Israel for announcing that it would be building new apartments in a Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem-an area that the White House had agreed would not be part of the "settlement freeze," and which will be part of Israel in any peace agreement with the Palestinians. Despite apologies from the Israeli government, the administration has continued to attack Israel in the U.S. media.

Members of both parties have criticized the Obama administration for its overreaction, which amounts to incitement against Israel and has created the worst crisis in U.S.-Israel relations in 35 years, according to Israeli ambassador Michael Oren. There was no similar criticism from the administration when Palestinian leaders dedicated a public square in honor of a terrorist the day after Vice-President Joe Biden's visit.

In the wake of criticism from Biden, David Axelrod, Hillary Clinton and others, Hamas has sent violent protestors into the street to denounce Israeli construction in Jerusalem, including the reconstruction of a centuries-old synagogue that was destroyed by Jordan after 1948. The Obama administration has given Palestinian leaders a new precondition for negotiations, without demanding that they live up to their commitments to stop terror.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky has been totally silent. But J Street, the far-left organization she helped found and build, has gleefully celebrated the crisis, calling on supporters to sign a petition supporting the administration's stance against Israel. As Rep. Schakowsky told J Street at its Chicago opening last month: "I've been a supporter of J Street since its inception." She is also the #3 money recipient from J Street PAC this cycle.

The administration and J Street are wrong in their attacks on the Israeli government. Banning Jews from Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem smacks of bigotry and gives Palestinian leaders an excuse to avoid peace talks. The attacks also embolden Israel's enemies at a time when the U.S. and Israel must stand together against Iran. It is time for Rep. Schakowsky to decide: where does she stand-with J Street or with Israel?

I call on Rep. Schakowsky to join me in taking a stand. Speak up for America's 62-year relationship with the only democracy in the Middle East. Stop the rhetoric that is more vitriolic than anything the Obama administration uses against America's enemies. Stop public demands for unilateral Israeli concessions. Start focusing on Iran's nuclear program, instead of joining Iran in attacking the Jewish presence in Jerusalem.

Rep. Schakowsky is the voice for J Street in Chicago and across the nation. She hosted their first gala dinner and was a featured speaker at their first national conference. It is up to her to speak out against J Street's petition drive and against the anti-Israel attacks of the Obama administration. Her silence, as long as it continues, will stand as evidence of her true beliefs about Israel. She must take a stand, before more damage is done.