Back from Chicago. Happily, the brief snow is long-since gone, and the weather was starting to get more reasonable. The last few days were in the upper-40s, crisp but very pleasant. The Elves who were watching the place here are still laughing though...
Once again, I was able to get the TSA Pre-Approved designation on my boarding pass. If you haven’t been lucky enough for that yet, just know it is absolutely great. No need to take your computer out of your carry-on, or remove your belt or shoes. And the line is about one-twentieth as long. What’s odd, though, is the approval process. You can apply for approval, which entails paying a fee and submitting certain documents for checking, and I understand that. But you can also get approved if you travel a lot (which I have been, going to Chicago three times a year). That’s why I seem to be TSA-approved about 70% of the time the past few years. And while I love it, I think it’s a bizarre reason to approve passengers. And by “bizarre” I mean lousy. But…I was TSA pre-approved in both flight directions, and however wrong-headed it seems, it did make the travel wildly easier.
Probably the biggest news is that Mayor Rahm Emmanuel ignored the Police Board’s recommendation for a new Chief of Police and instead made his own choice. At first, there was concern about that, but it turns out that the selection of a highly-popular and admired, tough but fair member of the Chicago Police force has been met with a cautious, but approving reaction.
There’s also been a bit of a local focus on national news, with the state’s Republican junior senator here, Mark Kirk, getting attention for saying that he would agree to meet with President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. (Imagine getting to the ludicrous point that somehow it’s Big News that a Republican senator is making the magnanimous step of simply meeting with a Supreme Court nominee. Perish the thought of actually voting for the distinguished jurist…) What is getting some, but not remotely as much attention in the national news is that Sen. Kirk is in an extremely difficult race for reelection and is highly-vulnerable against the well-liked Democratic nominee, Rep. Tammy Duckworth. In fact, in the last poll I saw, Mr. Kirk is behind her in the polls. Before becoming a senator, Mark Kirk was my father’s congressman in this suburb north of Chicago – given the district, Kirk was a more-moderate representative on some social issues than most Senate Republicans (which isn’t hard to do even if you don’t try hard), though he’s solidly conservative on most issues. But because Illinois is a reasonably-Blue state, and because the President is from Illinois and highly popular, and because Rep. Duckworth has a national reputation and admired…and because the Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland is from suburban Chicago…it’s put Mark Kirk at far more risk than he might be otherwise. Which I have absolutely zero doubt is 100% why he’s making the oh-so magnanimous step of amazingly agreeing to actually meet with Judge Garland.
Lots of local concern here over the Chicago Bulls who have been very lackluster in their play lately, and at the moment are out of the NBA playoff picture. But they won yesterday and are only two games behind. Also, the defending Stanley Cup hockey champions, the Chicago Blackhawks, have been playing sloppily the past few weeks and likely will have an important player suspended for several games after he made a retaliatory hit with his stick last night. The team has already qualified – though lower in the standings than usual, and need to play better to make it to the finals.
The White Sox remain the object of ridicule among the fans for the odd situation of one of their players retiring for semi-inexplicable reasons, supposedly having to do with the team (seemingly rightly) not letting him bring his young son into the locker room every single day, though it doesn’t appear that the ballclub handled the situation well. But it’s the White Sox and not the beloved Cubs, so if they squabble over such an oddity, so be it.
As for those beloved Cubs, it was great to get to watch them in Spring Training a lot. The games mean nothing, but you can get a sense of details. Opening Day is about a week away, hopefully without a return of the snow…and I can’t wait. The team is actually supposed to be good this year! O joy. It’s only been 108 years since a World Series, after all. And while Las Vegas odds have the team favored to win, I’ve long felt that this is not yet Their Year, since the team is still very young. But it should at least be a treat watching them be competitive. What a concept.
And now, we're back in Los Angeles.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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