In Chicago they play “Chicago Ball.” This is a form of soft ball that is as location specific to the Chicago area as Hoover Ball is to West Branch, Iowa. In this game a sixteen inch softball that is as hard as a baseball is used with no gloves. If at least one or two fingers aren’t broke in each game it must have been in girl’s division. It is a rough sport, and everyone who plays it knows it. Catching a line drive is like catching a cannonball in the stomach and catching a high pop-up is like having an incoming meteorite land in your hands.
In Chicago they also play another kind of ball that is rough, and everyone knows the rules. They call it politics. In other places they call it organized crime.
Back in the Dream Time, elders were honored because of their accumulated knowledge. If Pops knew a better way to saddle horses, that knowledge helped Junior since he saddled horses. Today if Pops knows how to tune-up cars what good is that when cars don’t need to be tuned-up anymore? Now the old are relegated to extolling their own relevance while exclaiming, “I’ve never seen that before.” Doddering ancients who use their cell phones merely to talk wonder why their grandchildren never answer their emails as Gen Z tweet each other: “Don’t trust anyone over fifteen.” The world is moving so fast not only is today tomorrow’s yesterday the generations are living in different todays today. Gen X and Y parents with their once hip lap-tops under their arms stare in wonder as their pre-teen Gen Zs text with one hand while Wii skydiving in the backseat. For these new additions to middle-age who’re just old enough to remember Star Trek imagine Captain Kirk visiting Captain Picard pointing at Commander Data and saying, “What’s that?”
After years of being treated as if the Wisdom of the Ages were as relevant as Confucius in a fortune cookie, now that we have Chicago on the Potomac the wisdom gained in the City that Works is suddenly spot-on. Of course George the Second’s doctrine of pre-emptive war made one old saying make sense beyond the Southside, “Never start fights, but if you have to hit someone back first once in a while that’s all right.” Then again ACORN has shown the everlasting relevance of Chicago’s best known adage, “Vote early and vote often” as well as eternal life or ACORN by another name is still the same corrupt mob of community organizers organizing their way to personal power and prosperity.
With President Obama and the Chi-Town hustlers large-and-in-charge, Windy City Proverbs may help many believe what kind of change we’ve stepped in. Such as “Everybody cheats so if you don’t cheat you’re a cheater,” or “What’s mine is mine, what’s yours is negotiable.” Maybe the taxman could use, “They must not have wanted it they didn’t have their hand on it.”
Looking at our Congress, “If you’re going to get mad at thieves you’ll never have any friends” comes to mind. Thinking of the new Green Home Efficiency Inspectors they want us to deal with when buying or selling a home is reminiscent of the Chicago Fire Marshal conscientiously telling a young business owner, “We’ll save the city some gas money if we just do the inspection right here in my office,” while patting his desk indicating where to place the money.
The Obama Administration started off with some Southside swag calling the biggest earmark in history a stimulus bill aimed at shovel ready jobs. Then again as the President later joked, “Shovel-ready was not as … uh .. shovel-ready as we expected.” After this predictable
Southside of Chicago opening act the poster child for a different kind of politics continued the virtuoso performance calling ward-heelers czars and followed a time-honored Second City tradition in the Minnesota recount by finding a bag of votes giving us a good laugh by installing Al Franken in the once revered United States Senate.
Who says you can’t go home again? They may turn the old neighborhood into Yuppie Heaven by knocking down the middleclass housing and putting up three-story imitation Victorians but right here right now the machine that gave no-show jobs to half the wise-guys on the corner as well as Michelle at the hospital is in the process of not just fixing tickets but fixing everything else. The political descendants of Big Bill Thompson, Richard the First and Richard the Second parlayed community organizing into a national organization that should make the Five Families green with envy.
Having fixed the economy and with health care, hate-crimes, immigration, and cap-and-trade all queued up to flow through the system before the voters get a chance to register their disapproval, Don Barak also had the opportunity to begin fixing the highest court in the land. In the Chicago justice system ( an oxymoron) lawyers give out printed pricelists stating how much acquittals cost verses dismissals and the old saying concerning courthouses goes, “It may say justice on the outside but that doesn’t mean there’s any on the inside.” Since the Democratic Machine and their Me-To Republican allies rubber-stamped Mr. Obama’s first pick for the A-Team, how do the prospects for judicial restraint and the Constitution look? Fine if you fit the profile for the protected or promoted classes, but not too good if you naively look for that lady wearing the blindfold and holding the scales.
Joining the sisterhood on the bench, Ms. Sotomayor felt her gender and her race made her uniquely qualified to reach wise decisions and believes international law should be consulted when weighing appeals. She should feel right at home with the former chief counsel for the ACLU who apparently believes American Citizenship is the right of all mankind. In one decision she said, “You would have a huge statelessness problem if you don’t consider a child born abroad a U.S. citizen.” And now they have turned Chief Justice Roberts to the Dark Side. Ah justice, what is it good for? Or as they say in Chi-town, “How much justice can you afford?” The difference between Chicago Prime and Chicago on the Potomac is in the original version mayors serve for life followed by a power struggle. Vive la Différence!
How does Chicago Ball fit into all these old sayings? There are multiple sayings associated with playing ball. Such as, You have to swing the bat to have a chance to hit the ball,” or “I ain’t cheating if they don’t catch me.” So how do our now nationalized Chicago Pols play ball. One recent example is in the financing problem faced by the owner of the Chicago Cubs. The plans to renovate the dilapidated Wrigley Field were being held up because of the current owner’s political associations. And that’s how they play political ball in Chicago.
And how does that translate to Chicago-on-the-Potomac? In 2009 the Obama Administration played Chicago Ball with the Drug Industry to get their support for Obamacare. These types of tactics have become standard operating procedure for the Obama Administration as department after department make their wishes known and their power felt.
And just recently the President strong armed the Supreme Court asserting any interference with his take-over of 1/6th of the economy would be unprecedented. What was unprecedented was his use of manipulation and brow beating to pressure a supposedly independent court to become another place where the fix is in, or as they say in Chicago Ball “When they send out their best hitter, aim for the head.”
And if this article makes you feel politically as if you’ve had your fingers broken, well that’s just the way they play ball in Chicago.
Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College. He is the Historian of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com © 2012 Robert R. Owens [email protected] Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens