THE ILLINOIS ABYSS

Here we go! The Illinois gubernatorial election approaches with an overload of baggage. The term of Bruce Rauner has been an unfolding disaster. We are in massive debt; “downstate” passionately desires Chicago to secede from the rest of the rest of Illinois (up to the point of revenue generation); public education slides toward bankruptcy; Mike Madigan exercises a refinement of “Boss politics” (a Daley family legacy); and the state infrastructure is crumbling before our eyes. Pensions are at risk and no one can figure out how to pass a budget. Every poll I’ve seen ranks Illinois as one of the worst run, most corrupt states in the union. Charming.

We need to stop and reflect on the consequences of being a Blue Dog/Democratic state. It has done the people of Illinois little good. More than the classic tax-and-spend characterization of Democrats, the party, by accident or intent, stumbles over itself at every crooked turn. Springfield is a snake-pit of no-bid contracts, deal making, and kickback opportunism. Four of the last seven governors have been jailed. Rod Blagojevich (D) was convicted of numerous corruption charges in 2011, including allegations that he tried to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat. Dan Walker (D), governor from 1973 through 1977, pleaded guilty to bank fraud and other charges in 1987 related to his business activities after leaving office. Otto Kerner (D), governor from 1961 through 1968, spent three years in prison after being convicted of bribery related charges. George Ryan (R) was found guilty and jailed for fraud and racketeering charges as both Secretary of State and governor. A tenured felon.

How can we forget the venerable Secretary of State (’65-’70), Paul Powell (D)? Though his salary was never more than thirty thousand dollars per year, when he died, his room was found to contain eight-hundred thousand dollars in cash and checks kept in shoe boxes, briefcases, and strong boxes, as well as nineteen cases of whiskey and one million dollars in racing stock, leaving an estate of 4.6 million. During his tenure, fees for automobile licensing and registration were made to “Paul Powel-Secretary of State” or simply “Paul Powell.” That made it simple!

Party affiliation pales in the presence of the black hole of corruption that permeates our state. Republican State Rep. Jeanne Ives faces fellow Republican Rauner in the primary. At a recent event, she argued the solution to the state’s gun violence was having “more fathers in the home.” While this is tone-deaf to the complexity of the issue, it doesn’t appear to be color-blind. Some of the Democratic contenders are State Senator Daniel Biss and Chairman of the University of Illinois board of trustees Chris Kennedy. The spigot of campaign spending from candidate J.B.Pritzker borders on obscene. The historic truth is “money does not make for sound governing policy.” Toss in a handful of insignificant and third-party aspirants, you have a circus.

The only event with as much entertainment value is the coming Chicago mayoral election. Big fun ahead!

 

  • J. Tortorici
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Welcome the New Year!

Good-night,-Loen!
Godnight, Loen!

The image you see above is from Martynas Milkevicius. His presence speaks to the times as we share a vision from half the world away. How fortunate we are to feature his gallery on the KIOSK page. The global community is real, and now.

I found a common thread of optimism weaving its way through the essays this month. We will survive the recent onslaught of electric-shock treatments to our cultural frontal lobe. These political troubles will pass. A populist voice is awakened and we are talking about the world. There is an air of activism at large.

This blog is made to go with coffee, of course.

John Zielinski knows ornithology. True… and not just the Charlie Parker standard. His essay “For The Birds” extols the virtue of community and survival.

Steve Buschbacher asks “Are We Selfish?” and talks values. How were you raised?

Brule Eagan takes on “The Annual Challenge” of New Years in free-form.

What better time of year to talk baseball? Tom DeMichael has the latest from winter camp and thoughts for both Cubs and Sox fans, “Buh-Buh-Baseball – What’s New, Year?

Is reality subjective? Marc Piane tugs at our brain muscle in his essay “A Thought for the New Year.”

At “The Publisher’s Desk” I reviewed a recent field trip. “This Place” was a day well-spent in reflection.

We stride into the New Year with energy and a sense of determination. The world moves forward through the hands of the obsessed. These are people who can’t put down the pen, who can’t stop painting, alone practicing their musical instrument hour after hour, driven people, compelled to read and learn, speak and listen.

Such are the contributors in this month’s issue of Central Standard Time. Contemporary views from the urban, the urbane, the wry and seasoned, creative practitioners in every discipline grace these pages for you… the reader.

Write to the publisher – jstortorici@gmail.com. I invite your input. Don’t forget the coffee.

Majors and Minors

– J. Tortorici

Enigmatic counselors and “dark ministers” of the political system have an enduring history in America. My liberal’s dismissal of Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, and their ilk, is rooted in remembering genuine, diabolical giants of the Washington power drama. Over the decades, perspective is revealing.

One of my first memories of world events involved the Dulles siblings, John-Foster and Alan. Eisenhower’s Secretary of State, John-Foster, built Cold War alliances, most prominently NATO. With his brother, Alan, head of the CIA, he helped instigate Operation Ajax, the 1953 Iranian coup d’état, and the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état. Alan oversaw the U-2 spy aircraft program, and the Bay of Pigs Invasion. After President Kennedy abandoned the Bay of Pigs, he forced Alan Dulles out of government service. Thus began one of the premier conspiracy sagas surrounding the Kennedy assassination.

Robert McNamara was the classic hero/villain conundrum. He was an author of an imaginative global nuclear strategy known as “MAD” (Mutually Assured Destruction). As Secretary of Defense under Kennedy and Johnson he escalated the United States involvement in the Vietnam War, yet advocated the use of a blockade during the Cuban Missile Crisis, averting a nuclear confrontation. I highly recommend “The Fog of War” for his unique view of global power politics.

Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, USMC, oversaw an illegal arms program (from the basement of Reagan’s Whitehouse) with Iran (designated State Sponsor of Terrorism) and Nicaraguan rebels, the Iran-Contra scandal.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is a contemporary legend. Rumsfeld played a central role in planning a response to the September 11 attacks, which included two wars: Afghanistan, the seat of terrorism; and Iraq, an inspired, erroneous WMD conflict. His tenure then became controversial for prisoner abuse.

Imagine the cost in human life and physical resources this gallery represents. It is not arbitrary to say “immeasurable.” These were cabinet secretaries, administrators, and principals of the National Security apparatus… the major league of decision makers with high executive function. Their influence and the consequences of their decisions were so profound as to effect the course of history in ways we continue to experience.

No, the Bannon coterie, including Stephen Miller and Kellyanne Conway, appear like so many Dick Tracy villains by comparison. Strip away the bravado and hyperbole, little of purpose remains… and I always worry less about the guy needing to tell me what a bad-ass he is. For the time being, they have access to the halls of power, and history proves these characters will fade along with the aberrance of their views. Consider the fate of so many that had the same access, the same bombast, the same imagined elevation, whose existence is now more ignominious than influential. Their ideas were not durable.

Perspective, indeed. Time is an ally. Every organization, General Electric down to your local Cub Scout Pack, reflects the tenor of its leadership. In spite of all the media exposure, we are dealing with a farm-team of limited political acumen and untenable schemes. Deep governmental skills elude them, they refuse to be “coached,” in many ways to our good fortune. Their limits become our safety net.

May 3, 2017

Greetings, and welcome to the May edition of Central Standard Time. This issue characterizes all the diversity and insights one could hope for. We want to tickle your humor and intellect at the same time. As always, we get the conversation started and let you take it from there. This issues line-up of articles and essays is ready for a cup of your favorite coffee.

Our favorite baseball guy, Tom DeMichael, finally gives up his age. For all of us elder pretenders to the baseball diamond, Tom hits it out of the park with “The Game…In Another Way.”

We are so pleased to see John Zielinski return to the blog with his salient insights to the modern world. John examines the coming tech’ revolution in “It’s All Part of the Job.” Buff-up your resume’.

Steve Buschbacher talks Blues history and the recent loss of giants in our uniquely Chicagoan style in his essay “On Those Who Preceeded Us…”

From the Publisher’s Desk, we have a bleated birthday celebration for Edward “Duke” Ellington, born April 29, 1899. He remains one of the world’s greatest composers and innovators. Profiled in a re-print of an article from January 2015 (The Chicago Progressive) “Happy Birthday Duke…”

Current events in our troubled world take the stage in an opinion piece examining the harsh realities of political posturing, “A War of Errors.”

Grab a seat at the table. We are here to talk and entertain each other with thoughts and opinions.

April 16, 2017

Ukrainian Village Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to a new edition of Central Standard Time. I am pleased to welcome back old friends, regular contributors, and some fresh talent. Grab your coffee and join us for comments, opinions, and interesting thoughts.

My friend Greg King is back with an observation on religion in today’s world with his essay, “Can We Talk?”

The bon vivant of South Texas, Brule Eagan, looks to his local politics for some contemporary perspectives in “The Trouble With Eddie.”

How fortunate we are to live in an urban environment brimming with the creative ethos. It is my pleasure to introduce Rebecca Francescatti. Rebecca’s art graces this issue’s cover.

I met this talented lady at a professional function in which she served as secretary and reporter. Her articles were very good. As I am always on the spy for exceptional writers, this was someone I needed to court for CST. The more you know of Rebecca, the more you see the essence of a complete artist. For some people in the world, the muse descends from Olympus and touches them on the forehead…”This is for you.” Writer of songs and insightful prose, and stunning artist, Rebecca is one of those people.

The SCIENCE page returns. Here is an essay on the fate of our species, “The Solar Federation.” I can promise my favorite page will get more attention in the coming months.

From the Publisher’s Desk, a long hard look at the myth and fate of one particular Arab Spring. “Out of Egypt…” examines the zero-sum game of power in the Middle East.

Here we go! Summer is pulling at our sleeve and the time is right for a moment of leisure and good reading.

 Rebecca “F” Francescatti is a performing songwriter, musician, artist and writer residing in Chicago.  Currently a student in the M.A. Counseling program at Northwestern University, she holds an M.A. in English Literature from DePaul University.  When not moonlighting with her bands Rebecca F. & The Memes or Night Jogger, you’ll find her serving the humanities in the fields of counseling and publishing.  

 

January –

GettyImages-855728_2640652aWelcome to the January edition of Central Standard Time.

As a child of the Sixties, socio-political awareness was a part of the era’s cultural framework. The best motives of those times are experiencing a re-birth. Through the rigors of daily life, economic survival, the ladder of success, or the “old ennui” Sinatra sang of, we start the new year with an air of activism. It fills the heart. The new generation of advocacy is broad, crossing lines of gender, age, race, faith, income…we are all in this together and it’s time to speak up.

The limit of my “front-page politics” concerns an apolitical epiphany. For decades, my disappointment with our government’s cavalier handling of money always crossed party lines. “Vote the bastards out” has been my rally cry. In general, the whole situation would be better served by some common business sense and capitalist principles. I now feel this is in error, deeply so.

The responsibility of good governance is providing for the least of our countrymen, while cultivating the best we have to offer the world. Tomorrow will surely arrive, and the enemy of that progress is poverty and illiteracy. Those poisons are as diverse as the population. Of all the resolutions made in vain at this time of year, stepping away from the computer and contributing to the betterment of our world is the greatest calling to which we can aspire. Coming editions will shine a light on new avenues of attack. The mindset remains apolitical.

This month’s offering of articles is nothing short of spectacular.

Joan Tortorici Ruppert joins the crew with a conference reflecting on the loss of so many music giants in Broken Records.

Friday the 13th would not be complete without our resident sage, Brule Eagan, and the big question: Do You Feel Lucky?

Always insightful, John Zielinski writes an excellent political essay about the big post-partum, This is Not the Piece I Had Planned to Write. Good stuff.

We begin chapter 2 of Marc Piane‘s “Outside In.” Night Hike takes us to the perfect moon.

Roxane Assaf-Lynn graciously allows us to reprint her latest article as it appears in the Huffington Post. Expose’ or Hip-Hooray is an entertaining journey, from departure to arrival.

The Grand Pubah of the dugout, Tom DeMichael, talks Chicago baseball in But, What Have You Done For Us Lately?

Our favorite blues guy, Steve Buschbacher has some questions about song lyrics in the modern age with They Don’t Write ’em Like they Used To.

And finally from the Publisher’s Desk, a conversation about self-control.

I am so happy you are here. Let’s have a morning or two of respite from the daily grind. Did I say “grind?” That must mean coffee is involved.

December –

santa-clock

Welcome to the December edition. The seasonal mix of emotions are a study in extremes as we settle in for a few days off.

The normal sense of renewal that accompanies the New Year is tempered by the inexorable march of time…which waits for no one. We are a year older and a year wiser, hopefully. At least for the next few days, I will attempt to avoid political confrontations (though I erred already this morning). There will be time enough for those discussions very soon. Let’s have our holiday and think of the family and friends we hold dear.

In the mean time, here are some articles for you to read in the quiet moments:

Our thoughts dwell on the life of Charley Krebs and his untimely passing. A helluva guy in every regard. A true Chicagoan and gifted artist. His work will continue to grace these pages as often as possible.

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Foreign correspondent (Texas), Brule Eagan, flashes back on Christmas In Niles, 1963. Times were more simple.

David Edward Sims brings his unique spin to some classics of the season.

From the Peoples Republic of Philadelphia, our good friend Steve Buschbacher wishes us a Happy Holidays! and much more.

Regular contributor, John Zielinski, takes a good, long look at the election and asks the salient question, “What Now?

Resident baseball guru, Tom DeMichael, has Nothing More To Say…sure, buddy. At least for now.

With great excitement, this edition of CST brings you Chapter One of Marc Piane‘s much anticipated existential prose, Outside In. It is a singular journey of Zen and atmosphere. Perfect reading for this time of year. In addition, Marc penned an essay that gives thought to how we assess information in “Consumer Beware.”

Have the best holiday ever, my friends. Embrace the peace of the season and hope for its endurance.