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The Week in WTF

1. The Mayoral Race, WTF?

One is "out," which, for those of us who love small-caliber loose cannons firing in all directions, is sort of a shame. Can't run for office with one foot tucked inside your mouth.

One is provisionally "in." Let the grand coronation begin. The Don Quixote Brigade will keep flinging legal challenges at the windmill, which will keep them occupied until the Blago trial arrives in time to divert our attention.

If Chicago politics is going to adopt a more or less coherent, logical pathway, what fun is it going to be?

2. George Ryan, WTF?

Perhaps I am going flabby in my intellectual dotage but I can't summon much enthusiasm for keeping ex-Guv George Ryan (R-Crook) in the federal pokey.

True, on the merits of his unambiguous guilt, he should stay in prison in fair compensation for his career of governmental double-dealing.

On the other hand . . .

Ryan's legal team appears perpetually trapped in an underlying but failing defense. They defense is working pro bono. Sometimes you get what you pay for. They insist that the exceptions to "honest services" corruption law should spring Ryan. Wrong argument, says the judge several times. Ryan's a crook. Don't need no fancy tomfoolery to figure out that.

The legalistic argument has always been the wrong argument. The better argument is: Let the old guy out of prison in order to tend to his dying wife. That resonates.

But even that argument presumes a good will toward Ryan that does not seem to exist.

Every prisoner has some family suffering and even dying as the prisoner serves time.

Criminals don't only injure themselves and the specific victims of their crimes. And those convicts don't get out.

A guess: The Federal Bureau of Prisons has the power to provide furloughs in exceptional circumstances. That appears Ryan's only shot.

3. Chicago Police, WTF?

Every time another Chicago child is killed in gang violence, the usual protesters gather in lamentation to announce defiantly that "We won't put with this."

Now we have the official response from Chicago's Fraternal Order of Police: Yes, we will put up with this. We'll let them die without intervention because to do otherwise might intrude on our union privileges or, horrors, might inconvenience officers.

Thus, here's an unambiguous announcement to Chicago's poorest, blackest, most desperate neighborhoods: If your children are murdered at a higher rate than everywhere else, take your gripes somewhere else. Chicago's police officers have other concerns more important than yours.

4. Public Spokespeople, WTF?

We give the new county government chief credit for her first dash through the let's-cut-the-budget exercise, wherein the legal establishment naturally has the biggest yelps of dismay.

But at the risk of posing the begged question, read this: "'We've said from the very beginning that the (cuts) would be extreme and have a severe impact on public safety,' said spokeswoman Sally Daly, who noted that salaries for prosecutors, civil attorneys and support staff accounts for more than 94 percent of the office's budget. 'This would cripple the state's attorney's office.'"

Yes, Sally, but would justice be crippled if your job was axed?

Why do government agencies have spokesmen, spokeswomen, spokespersons, or spokesgeeks? POTUS has one. Does every department in Chicago need one, too?

In Chicago, it's usually the post-real-career Nirvana for ditched journalists. But what light do they provide that shouldn't be given directly by their employers who are charged with doing the public's work and explaining what they've done?

Presumably, spokesfolks have some insight that moves the journalistic cause forward, but the only person in a position to answer for the judgment and thoughtfulness of the government employee is the government employee.

Having spokespeople take heat in front of cameras is like having indicted co-conspirators send out lawyers to speak for them. "We're innocent. All of us! Really."

Why do we - as in the journalistic "we" - pay attention to them? They are paid to say what they are told to say. Isn't that the very definition of useless jabbering?

5. Airport Security, WTF?

WTF went to the airport this week and was felt up, touched inappropriately, groped and gripped. We didn't protest. We really liked it. We're going back again this week.

Others with body/self-esteem issues are still protesting, but the media is starting to treat those events like Groundhog Day mammal sightings. Good.


David Rutter is the former publisher/editor of the Lake County News-Sun, a Sun-Times Media property. He welcomes your comments.


Posted on December 24, 2010

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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