Judith's Java
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Jul 23, 2014 -- 9:40pm

ITEM: Last weekend, an 11 year old girl was killed by a ricocheting bullet; 40 others were wounded by gunfire. ITEM: Recently, 20 people were shot in a 24 hour period. ITEM: Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy convened a forum of community leaders to seek ways of curbing gun violence. ITEM: Police announce that crime is declining.

Statistics show crime’s declining, but gun violence sure isn’t. No doubt those community leaders will announce that the surge of illegal weapons, and changes in the gun laws lay at gun violence’s root.

But that only scratches the surface. Gun violence will decline when gang activity declines. Guns and gangs go hand in hand, and that’s why getting guns off the street is so difficult. Do the math: Gangs are growingà more gangs; more gunsà more shootings; more shootingsà more dead people.

Gangs aren’t new. Some have been around since the 1950s…and children follow in their great-grandparents’ footsteps. Gangs have traditions, colors, signs and clothing styles. When neighborhoods unite against gangs, said gangs move to another neighborhood. Sending gang-members to prison only turns them into hardened criminals. Some Chicago police call prison “Criminal U.”

Gang membership will decrease when kids and teens get the chance to easily find good jobs. But, the Chicago School Board cuts many programs that lead to good jobs. An education is supposed to teach children to think, question and create. How does this happen when art, music, vocational programs and 66% of school librarians are on the chopping block?

The Chicago system sorts children by ability. Those whom teachers assume are the brightest go to the elite high schools, like Lane Tech or Whitney Young; the presumed “lesser lights” go to the blackboard jungle and drop out. Where’s their future?

This is a “jobless” recovery. Mom and Dad are working 3 low-paying jobs, and barely making it. They’re all hungry—and fat-- from a steady diet of grease and sugar.

Let’s get to the roots before the weeds—AKA guns—take over.

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Jul 17, 2014 -- 11:26pm

For once, the national crisis of the month isn’t funding the government or passing a budget. Sixty thousand children, largely under ten years old have crossed into America from Nicargua, Honduras and El Salvador. They’ve come alone, without documents, in search of a life free from drug lords and dictators.

These children survived long hikes, bad weather and a train ride nicknamed “the Beast.” In short, they’ve been through Hell. Their parents, often spent themselves into poverty hiring a “coyote” to guide them across the border. Many of these kids face murder if they are forced to return to their Central American countries.

Our peerless leaders’ reaction to the surge of children suggests that either someone’s been poisoning their coffee or the extra-terrestrials have invaded and replaced said officials with goons.

Texas’ Congressman Louie Gohmert (R) likened this immigration surge to the Nazi invasion of France, proposing that Texas has a constitutional right to wage war on them. Pointing out the similarities between these “invaders” and cancer, he called on President Obama to send National Guard troops to “repel” this invasion. This @#&*%#* junk made it into many Chicagoland newscasts. Wow! Goebbels couldn’t have done any better!

Reality check: These are children, in search of a better life. Who actually won the Mexican War? We got Texas, and Mexico never had to contend with Congressman Gohmert.

Closer to home, IL Republican Senator Mark Kirk asserted we need to have background checks performed on each of the undocumented children housed here. The Senator discovered funds in the 2014 budget to house 429 undocumented minors who crossed into North America from Central America without parents. Apparently, this led Senator Kirk to fear that some of the newly-arrived children were headed to his neighborhood. Perish the thought!

…And who would provide these background checks? Drug dealers, smugglers, cartels? Their relatives in public office? Whatever happened to “Give me your tired, your poor?”

Is not America a nation of immigrants? Enough already! Grant these children asylum now.

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Jul 10, 2014 -- 9:06pm

Senator Alan J. Dixon, 86 died July 6th at his Fairview Heights, IL. home. He served in the U.S. Senate from 1981-1993. Prior to that he had been Illinois’ Secretary of State. Dixon was beloved by the politicians and voters-alike-and never lost an election until 1992. His election to the Senate seemed pre-ordained.

I first met Dixon in 1980. Here’s how it happened. In 1976, I worked on President Carter’s election campaign as a paid consultant. No Washington job materialized for me, but campaign friendships stayed long after President Carter took his hand off the Bible. One campaign friend called, asking me if I would serve on Secretary Dixon’s women’s committee. I happily accepted.

The Women’s Committee raised money for Mr. Dixon, and advised him on how certain issues resonated with women. Once, a few of us informed Dixon that certain comments would cost him many women’s votes; I suddenly found myself explaining why he needed to soften his stance. Afterward, I muttered to my friends, “Great we just went head-to-head with the Secretary of State.” I waited for notice that my driver’s license was revoked. Instead, I heard one of the conservative radio talking heads lament that candidate Dixon was backing away from his more conservative anti-feminist statements. Dixon listened and took heed.

Rather than becoming a statesman, Senator Dixon became the Senator who worked on Illinois constituent issues. He also voted with the Republicans on procedural matters. That turned out to be his undoing.

Dixon voted to confirm Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court despite Anita Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment. In one fell swoop, Senator Dixon lost the women’s vote, as Carol Moseley Braun defeated him in the 1992 primary. The Senator morphed into a political consultant, while Thomas went on to an utterly undistinguished career as a Justice.

Senator Alan Dixon was no Senator Daniel Webster. But he kept his word: “When it needs be done”… Dixon did it. I’ll miss him.

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Jul 03, 2014 -- 9:49pm

July 4th marks the 238th anniversary of America’s independence from Britain, and the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act…And all Chicagoland will celebrate.

There’s good reason to celebrate. I remember life in 1964, and there definitely has been progress toward a more equal society. Cook County’s neighborhood are far more diverse; classrooms no longer resemble Dick, Jane and Sally clichés; and business leaders come in all sizes, shapes and colors. Alas, women and African-Americans make roughly 77cents on the dollar of what Caucasian men earn. But so of the divisive issues from 1964 no longer exist. So bring on the fireworks?

Not so fast! Our Supreme Court just redefined religious freedom to discriminate against those who aren’t fundamentalists by making it possible for Hobby Lobby’s owners, David and Barbara Green to refuse their employees insurance on certain modes of contraception based on their personal fundamentalist Christian beliefs.

This ruling also expanded corporations’ rights as “persons.” Corporations now have the right to contribute almost without limit to political campaigns and now can impose their owners’ religious scruples upon the rest of us. Give me a break! Corporations may be populated by humans but, remain artificial Entities. Keep defining corporations as entities and somebody will eventually announce his/her intention to marry General Motors.

Freedom of religion now includes the right to impose religious beliefs on employees and neighbors. That’s a huge step beyond the right to privately practice a given religion. The Greens believe it’s their duty to bring Christ to all their employees. Now there’s no way to stop this intolerance. Any attempt has just been defined by the Supreme Court as impeding the Greens’ religious freedom. In effect the Greens’ have court sanction to ignore the Civil Rights act.

The Constitution may giveth but the Supreme Court taketh away.  What would Jesus think about this sorry mess?

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Jun 19, 2014 -- 5:57am

Summer 1968 has become known as the “Summer of Love.” Slogans like “Make love, not war,” and “War is not healthy for children and other living things,” wafted through the incense-scented air. Now summer 2014 is becoming the “Summer of Rage”…and it’s not yet officially begun.

Why? Last winter was miserable. Plentiful jobs remain a mirage. We should spell Iraq ‘Ire-aache.’ But the clincher is that summer is high-shooting season; a time when illegal guns come out to play…and our children die in the crossfire.

Sometimes the shooter gets caught and his lame excuse is that he made a “mistake.” Guess what? Murder isn’t a “mistake”; a mistake is a correctable grammatical error. When murdered, you’re dead and there’s no getting back up. That should make all of us hopping mad.

It made many residents on the south and west side angry enough to march recently. Led, in part by Fr. Michael Pfleger of the Faith Community of Saint Sabina, many of the demonstrators wore shirts reading “We Demand.” Get illegal guns off the streets; insist on background checks for anyone purchasing firearms; ban assault weapons. The latter belong on the battlefields, not on the playgrounds.

Recently, Hadiya Pendleton’s parents started a foundation, Hadiya’s Promise to counter the lobbying power of the National Rifle Association and to help young people—constructive responses to a heart-breaking tragedy. Sometimes well-placed rage is the best way to right a wrong.

The right to bear arms is enshrined in the second amendment of the Constitution. But people and lobbies that fight for the right to carry assault rifles into McDonalds or Starbucks overlook the reason stated in the Constitution. While fighting the British, Americans used their own guns when serving in militias. The Commies haven’t invaded Starbucks; Al Qaeda isn’t besieging the local elementary school.

Anti-gun rage is righteous rage. Stay angry all year through…and show that anger in the 2014 and 2015 elections.

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Jun 11, 2014 -- 6:03pm

A sure sign that summer “is a-comin’ in” is the running of the three Triple Crown horse races. No matter that these races take place in Louisville Kentucky, Baltimore, Maryland, and Los Angeles, California. Thanks to the miracle of TV, they’re also run in our Cook County family rooms.

This year was more exciting than most because California Chrome won both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, and was heavily favored to win the Belmont. California Chrome’s jockey, Victor Espinoza compared Chrome to a stop-watch. Tell him to run and he leaves the other horses in the dust.

But that didn’t happen. California Chrome finished 2 lengths behind; tied for 4th—at the head of the “also rans.” His owner, Steve Coburn complained bitterly about the result.

Many felt Coburns remarks were sour grapes or poor sportsmanship. Coburn later apologized for the rant.

But was he wrong? Only three of the eleven entrants had raced in the Derby and the Preakness. Tonalist, Belmont’s winner ironically couldn’t qualify for the Kentucky Derby. The Belmont is the longest course, meaning California Chrome ran the equivalent of a 30 mile marathon, shortly after two 26.2 mile marathons. Tonalist was fresh and raring to go—a spoiler.

Also, as California Chrome charged out of the starting gate, Matterhorn, the horse next to him kicked California Chrome’s hind leg hard enough to make him bleed.

Accidents happen. No one’s charging Matterhorn with horsey shenanigans. But Espinoza, realizing that hard riding might actually kill his horse, rode California Chrome on the outside, not spurring him beyond endurance.

Once past the finish line, vets bandaged California Chrome’s leg. He’ll recover and may run in the Breeder’s Cup race in November.

Coburn’s right. Level the race track playing field. Make certain all contenders for the Triple Crown run in all three races. Space the three races farther apart.

Tonalist may have won the Belmont, but California Chrome showed the heart and guts of a true champion. In my book he’s the real winner.

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