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Bill Linneman

November 20 2014

It’s Still The Same Old Story
The movie “Casablanca” has us guessing whether it will be Paul Henreid or Humphrey Bogart who will board the plane with Ingrid Bergman. There’s another possibility the writers overlooked.
Henreid is seated in the plane when Bogart enters and sits beside him, buckling his seat belt. Henreid startled, asks: Where’s Ingrid?
“Relax Pal, she’s not taking this flight.”
“What do you mean? She’s going to America with me to raise money for the Czech underground.”
“Forget about her. She’s baggage you don’t need. New York society dames will fall over themselves to go to bed with you and write checks for the Czechs. Ha!”
“But she’s my wife.”
“Czech-mate, huh? Your Queen’s captured. You’re rooked. Take it from me, Pal. One dame’s like another.”
“She needs someone to protect her.”
Don’t fool yourself, Pal. That kid’s a survivor. She was young in Paris and I was looking at her like a kid. I taught her about champagne and caviar. Dancing in the clubs. Then she ditched me.”
“That’s when she found out I was still alive. Ingrid likes tall men. I understand you had to stand on a box to kiss her. I’m the one Ingrid really loves.”
“She was a kid when you married her. She would have fallen for any guy who was old enough to pop corks and knew how to tie a Windsor knot.”
“You don’t know Ingrid at all. She’s not like you portray her.”
“I know dames, Pal. They’re all alike. They latch on to whoever offers the best opportunities.”
“How can she survive in Casablanca?”
“She can go with Sam to work for the fat man at the Blue Parrot. She’ll make out OK as a hostess. Krauts like tall women. ‘Brunhildes’ they call them.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Ingrid would never fraternize with the enemy.”
“That’s all you know. I saw her making goo-goo eyes at that handsome young lieutenant. It’s a wonder she didn’t go for Major Strasser himself. Women usually go for the guy in charge, whoever’s got authority and can buy ‘em the most baubles.”
“I don’t agree that power is an aphrodisiac.”
“I don’t know what your ten dollar words mean, Pal. But they don’t buy me. I tell you, a dame’s a dame.”
“Ingrid’s different, and I love her.”
“You romantic twerps send me. Moaning about love like a teenage boy. This ain’t a fight for love or glory. It’s about self-preservation. It’s a case of do or die.”
Henreid unbuckles his seat belt. “I don’t care. I’m not leaving without Ingrid.”
“The plane’s moving in case you haven’t noticed. You’ll break a leg.”
“I’m worried about her.”
“Like I said, she’s a survivor. She’ll latch on to a German officer in his snazzy uniform.”
“Have you no concern for others? What gives you the right to interfere with other people’s lives.”
“I’m the one with Letters of Transit, Pal. Relax and think how you’ll make out in New York as time goes by. So buckle up and, it kills me to say this, …Put out that cigarette.”

Capitol Facts
by Rich Miller

November 20 2014
Speaker Madigan is Illinois' #1 problem for Governor elect Rauner
Last December, Bruce Rauner appeared on a WLS Radio talk show program and revealed that he planned to form a new campaign committee to counter the power of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.
“We’re gonna raise a PAC, we’re gonna raise a fund dedicated to the state Legislature, members of both parties who take the tough votes,” Rauner said. “We’ve gotta protect the members who take tough votes.”
“Right now,” Rauner continued, “Madigan controls the Legislature from his little pot of cash. It isn’t that much money. And he runs the whole state government out of that pot. We need a pro-business, pro-growth, pro-limited government, pro-tax reduction PAC down there in Springfield working with the Legislature for those who take tough votes.”
Word is that Rauner’s new legislative PAC will be launched relatively soon - perhaps after the governor-elect’s transition committee has finished its job.
Rod Blagojevich tried the same thing with his Move Illinois Forward PAC several years ago. As I pointed out on my blog when Rauner revealed his plans, Blagojevich’s PAC didn’t work out all that well, partly because Blagojevich was relying on a Democratic donor base which didn’t want to step too hard on Madigan’s toes.
Rauner, of course, won’t have that problem. And he also has plenty of his own cash.
But how “little” is Madigan’s “pot of cash”? Well, the House Republicans believe that when it’s all said and done, Madigan and his candidates will have spent $10 million.
An election day tally showed that Madigan had raised $5.7 million during the cycle, but add in the money raised by his targeted candidates and the total rises to $10.6 million, plus another $290,000 in reported independent expenditures. The tally was conducted by Kent Redfield, an emeritus professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois at Springfield, a longtime reformer and a pal.
House Republican Leader Jim Durkin’s committees raised $4 million, but add a million dollars in independent expenditures and the money raised by Durkin’s candidates (much of it from contributions by the state Republican Party - via Rauner) and Durkin’s number rises to almost $7.9 million.
What Rauner is attempting to do here is strengthen his own hand as governor and maybe try to entice some of Speaker Madigan’s members into breaking party ranks on occasion.
But Madigan controls just about every aspect of a House Democrat’s existence. Everything from office and staff assignments, to committee assignments, to bills getting called, to patronage and perks like his numerous season tickets at Chicago sports stadiums, you gotta go through him. And if you try the nectar of a competing sugar daddy, things can get ugly.
But, hey, more competition is probably good for the system, so long as it doesn’t escalate into Blagojevichian levels of utter insanity.
But the governor-elect might want to also take a few minutes and read a Chicago Sun-Times story from 2012 in which Speaker Madigan explained what he most respected about the seven governors he had served with.
Actually, he didn’t say anything nice about the imprisoned Blagojevich, and didn’t have too many kind words for our outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn, but he did heap praise on two Republicans, Jim Thompson and George Ryan.
Of Thompson, who was governor for a record 14 years, Madigan said, “a very intelligent person, a quick learner, very flexible. He understood ... that you need to fashion compromise if you need to move forward.”
On Ryan, who like Madigan was once the Illinois House Speaker, “George would say, ‘We’ve got problems — what do we have to do to solve these problems?’ … “A [legislative] leader might want to evade the question, he might have a strategic plan they’re working and don’t want to answer today. And George would just pursue, persist, ‘I want an answer!’”
Former Gov. Jim Edgar accompanied Rauner on his final campaign swing. Madigan was less effusive in his praise, “a little more strident than Gov. Thompson ... more willing to engage in protracted negotiations in order to get what he wanted, especially out of the budget.”
Even so, Madigan and Edgar did get plenty of things done.
Rauner will obviously have his own style, and he’ll have his own battles that will have to be fought with Madigan. But there’s no getting around the man. If the governor-elect meant it when he said on election night that he wants to find bipartisan solutions to the state’s many problems, he’ll notice how Madigan admires governors who forcefully attempt to overcome problems and move the state forward. He can be worked with.
Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and thecapitolfaxblog.com

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They Call Me Spence
by Brad Spencer
Award winning journalist

September 25 2014

The power of song 

Words and music, a delicious combination.
I would hear the music, sure, but I always figured it was the words that float down from a song that stayed with me the most. Then I began to ponder this notion and determined it must be a combination of the two, words and music, which make an everlasting impression on our souls. It also has to do with timing.
You have them, soundtracks of the different periods in your life. It’s not about when the songs came out. It’s when you heard them at a particular moment. They were there when you triumphed, when you failed, when you were perfect, when you made mistakes, when you loved, when you hurt, when everything seemed good, when everything seemed bad, and when everything seemed balanced. Certain songs were the markers for moments in your life.
Some of those songs gave you hope. Some inspired you. Some made you feel you weren’t the only one suffering. Some made you dance a little crazy. Some made you dance a little closer. 
It’s usually a flood of nostalgia every time you hear an old song. Could be a tune from a band you never cared for, or the actual song was never particularly one of your favorites, but it has relevance to your life, makes you recall something endearing or, unfortunately, unpleasant.  
Whether it was Elvis, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Bee Gees, The Eagles, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Bon Jovi, Tom Petty, or U2, everyone can name at least a dozen artists that created songs that touched their lives in one way or another. When drums go “crash, boom, bang,” or guitar notes introduce a sing-along-song well before the chorus does, it’s enough to run chills down your spine.
But back to the words. I may be bias here, being a writer, but the words to a song are the central piece of the formula. The music is the butter, the milk, the eggs, the sugar, the flour. The words are the icing—the scrumptious frosting—on the cake, what makes the cake so delectable in the first place.
Here are random lyrics to seven songs that for some reason stand out in my mind today. If you listen real hard, you can hear the music in the background.
“Spider Murphy played the tenor saxophone/Little Joe was blowin’ on the slide trombone/The drummer boy from Illinois went crash, boom, bang/the whole rhythm section was the Purple Gang/Let’s rock, everybody, let’s rock/Everybody in the whole cell block was dancin’ to the Jailhouse Rock.”—Elvis Presley, Jailhouse Rock.
“Down in the shadows of the penitentiary/Out by the gas fires of the refinery/I’m ten years burning down the road/Nowhere to run ain’t got nowhere to go.”—Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA.
“I want to run/I want to hide/I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside.”—U2, Where The Streets Have No Name.
“Sittin’ in the morning sun/I’ll be sittin’ when the evening comes/Watching the ships roll in/Then I watch them roll away again/I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay.”—Ottis Redding, Sittin’ On The Dock of the Bay.
“Standing in the sunlight laughin/Hiding behind a rainbow’s wall/Slipping and a-sliding/all along the waterfall/with you, my brown-eyed girl.”—Van Morrison, Brown Eyed Girl.
“Well, there’s people and more people/What do they know, know, know/Go to work in some high-rise/and vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico/Ooh, yeah.”—John Mellencamp, Pink Houses.
“Don’t worry about a thing/cause every little thing/gonna be all right.”—Bob Marley, Three Little Birds.
Yep, words and music, a tasty combination.  

Brad Spencer can be reached at Brad.E.Spencer@gmail.com

The Spectator
by Jim Bennet

November 20 2014

Memo to USA Today on High School Hoops
ON NOVEMBER 7, the USA Today published its preseason rankings of the top 25 high school basketball teams nationwide. As always, the newspaper mixed oranges and apples. The rankings are dominated by private high schools and various private academies whose designation as “high schools” is a real stretch.
Just for starters, let’s have a look at the top 10:
1. Montverde (FL) Academy
2. Wesleyan Christian Academy, High Point, N.C.
3. Oak Hill Academy, Mouth of Wilson, Va.
4. Bishop Gorman, Las Vegas
5. Plano West, Plano, Texas
6. Findlay Prep, Henderson, Nev.
7. Roselle (N.J.) Catholic
8. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Calif.
9. La Lumiere, La Porte, Ind.
10. Long Island Lutheran, Brookville, N.Y.
Only Plano West is a public high school whose enrollment is restricted by district boundaries. The rest are free to recruit athletes from wherever, and for many of these “Prep” schools or “Academies,” that recruiting net can - and often does - reach from coast to coast.
Let me focus briefly on La Lumiere, a Roman Catholic private day and boarding school. This school interests me because its star player, 6-4 shooting guard Jalen Coleman-Lands, has committed to the University of Illinois. He will be his team’s shortest starter.
Another senior is a 6-10 power forward. Newcomers (transfers) include a 7-foot center (recruited from Australia), as well as a 6-7 California guard and a 6-8 Canadian forward.
High School? You tell me (please) how schools like Normal Community or Bloomington High, whose enrollments are restricted by district boundaries, could ever hope to compete in such an environment. It’s a preposterous set of conditions.

“REGULAR” HIGH SCHOOLS are left out the rest of the way as well. The remaining schools in the newspaper’s top 25 include 12 private or prep schools.
But even some of the public schools in the survey like Chicago Simeon are essentially private because the CPL is home to wide ranging loopholes that allow athletes to transfer almost at will. And transfer they do. And transfer again.
Some of the magnet schools (strictly speaking, public) like Whitney Young are free to enroll students from across the city. This fluid phenomenon usually occurs because the magnet school offers a curriculum not available at other high schools.
It’s really amazing to discover how many football and basketball players are smitten with the urge to study the Aramaic language or Polynesian history. Saxophone players? Not so much.

MY ADVICE to the “nation’s newspaper? Make two polls, or drop the private/prep/academies from the mix. The second suggestion is not a good one, because those schools are usually the ones that put the most elite college recruits on the floor.
People like to read about these future NCAA stars, check their college destinations, and track their performances throughout the year. Particularly if one of these elite players is headed to their alma mater.
But two separate polls, separating the apples from the oranges, would make for fascinating reading while providing a meaningful distinction. Let’s not forget there are outstanding basketball players at traditional public high schools. NCHS Forward Tyler Seibring has already made a verbal commitment to a Division 1 college.
Perhaps the best example comes from our own state. Suburban high school standout Jalen Brunson, ranked by scouting services as the nation’s best senior point guard, plays for Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire (ranked #21 in the USA poll).
The school’s Web site makes it abundantly clear who can enroll at a “traditional” public high school.
The site says, “Enrollment at Stevenson High School is restricted to residents of District 125. All students planning to attend SHS will need to provide the following documents: Current and Valid Lease agreement, Real Estate Tax Bill, Closing Document, Bill of Sale, Warranty Deed, Monthly Mortgage Statement, Entire Utility Bill Statement, Homeowners or Renters Insurance, Auto Registration, Driver’s License.”
The school does not require every single one of these documents (only three or four) but you get the idea. No athlete (or anyone else) can squeeze in because the school offers classes in Russian Climate Change or Nigerian Tribal Groupings.
In short, this is a high school. Two polls would be better than one, USA.

Gardeners Tips
by Helen J. Leake

November 6 2014

More winter tips

You can plant your newly purchased amaryllis bulbs, and the one you saved from last year, now. Start watering them and they should bloom in time for the holidays. If you are planting a new bulb, they like to be crowded in the pot. Use about a six inch container and leave the top 1/3 of the bulb uncovered.
It is time to put your garden tools and garden furniture away so they won’t be damaged by the cold, wet weather. Be sure to water any trees or shrubs planted in the last 4 to 5 years so their roots can continue growing until the ground freezes.
Store your mulch in the garage, so it doesn’t freeze, and you can mulch plants after the ground freezes If you leave it outside on a pile, it will freeze solid. Wait until the ground freezes before you add your winter mulch.
You can plant garlic cloves indoors. As the leaves grow, you can snip them off for seasoning your food.
It is time to start your snow thrower to make sure it is ready for that first big snow.
Store your pumpkins and winter squash in the basement at 50-55 degrees.
If you are planning on having a live, balled tree for Christmas, dig the hole now. Cover the hole with a board and store the soil in a warm place. You don’t want the soil to be frozen when you try to fill in around the newly planted tree.

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Classic Colcalsure
The Rest is Still Unrwritten
by John Colclasure of Lexington
November 20 2014
Cookies ‘n’ Cream

It must have been sometime between the terrible twos and learning to tie my shoe laces… Surely most of you remember a rhyme or two about tying your shoe laces.  There was one that I recall: “Bunny ears, bunny ears, playing by a tree. Criss-crossed the tree, trying to catch me. Bunny ears, Bunny ears, jumped into the hole, popped out the other side beautiful and bold.”
Anyways, it was sometime between those formative years that I first learned of Chocolate Milk. You see my father had a seldom-used warped sense of humor. Not always mind you, as he was serious most of the time. Very, very serious, so for him to come up with some of his pearls of wisdom, we’ll you get my drift. 
Since he had been a farm-hand most of his adult life, at least to this point in time, I believed, naively everything he told me, and of course I believed that chocolate milk came from Black Angus cows. Never-mind the fact that living on a dairy farm we had only Holstein cows who I knew gave only white milk. Not two percent, or one percent or even skim milk, but 100% whole milk.
As a matter of fact, there were a lot of things I looked at with wonder while growing up on a farm in rural Odell. One of the most intriguing was the cream separator. Every morning and evening, my parents poured the output from some of the herd through a cream separator, which instantly divided cream from milk. The cream flowed into cans destined for resale; the water-like remains went into buckets that were dumped into the hog trough along with potato peels, table scraps and everything else that went into the slop bucket. But since we didn’t have any Black Angus cattle on the farm, it was later in life that I was to acquire a taste for milk of the chocolate variety. All those years believing that butter came from Jersey cows; cream from Guernsey cows and of course those Angus, the producers of chocolate milk.
Suffice it to say that it may have been quite accidental, but somewhere along the line I learned that one could pour Hershey’s genuine chocolate flavored syrup into a glass of cold milk and instantly have chocolate milk and not from an Angus cow! The thrill of victory was soon replaced with the agony of defeat when one of us three boys discovered that by blowing air throw a straw into the bottom of the glass of chocolate milk, bubbles would rise higher and higher and out of the glass and onto the kitchen table. It was funny at the time, but short-lived. As a result, Chocolate Milk served as a staple for many a year, but without the bubbles or straw.
Cookies on the other hand were always in demand at Mother C’s and we would all gather in the kitchen on baking day. Hoping for the first batch of chocolate chip cookies to be removed from the oven. Yes, we had an oven and no we did not have to put firewood in the stove. Dad did that! Ha-ha. Milk and cookies. Life surely couldn’t get much better than that. Home baked cookies, which was what he feasted upon growing up on the farm. Well, that was until we discovered store-bought cookies during our semi-monthly trip to town for groceries. It was during one of these trips, that we spotted a cookie that we had not seen before. You see the cereal aisle was all that really interested us, if for only the prize in the box. It was then that we spotted a new cookie, at least to us. Nabisco had this cookie - two chocolate disks with a creme filling in between. We were more than familiar with Nabisco as they had marketed a childhood favorite that we would receive once or twice a year at Christmas, birthdays of special occasions. You guessed it. Barnum’s Animal cookies, made famous by selling them in a little box designed like a cage with a string attached (to hang on Christmas trees). Still very popular years thereafter, especially with our children and subsequently grandchildren.
But Oreos back then and still today is “Milk’s Favorite Cookie!” I bring this up today, because believe it or not, someone (Wiki-How) took the time to relay to all of us cookie eaters how exactly to eat an Oreo cookie. Oh, and you thought we just eat them - dunking them in milk or twisting off one side and eating the middle first. Well, read on for a step by step procedure. 1.) Obtain a box of Oreo cookies from the local grocery store or gas station. 2.) Once you have safely arrived at home, place the Oreo cookies on the table. Grab a glass from the cupboard and fill the glass with milk to about a half an inch (12.7 mm) from the top. This is the optimal height for dunking the cookie. 3.) After the milk has been poured, open the box of cookies. Pick one cookie up gently so as not to break or chip it. Raise the cookie until it is positioned approximately 1.5 inches (38.1 mm) from the rim of the glass. 4.) Lower the cookie gently into the milk until about half the cookie is submerged. If you submerge the whole cookie at once, air will become trapped inside the cookie and will not allow the milk to soak in. 5.) Be patient! Do not swirl the cookie around or move it around in the milk. You could risk breaking the cookie and losing it forever in the depths of your glass of milk. After exactly 6 seconds have elapsed, slowly remove the cookie from the milk. 6.) Once the cookie has been removed from the milk, gingerly raise the cookie to your mouth, careful not to break the soggy cookie in half. Place the cookie on your tongue, chew, and enjoy!! 7.) Or, you can be very daring and gently hold the Oreo between your thumb and index-finger and dunk the whole Oreo inside the milk to just past your fingernails. Small bubbles will then rise to the surface. When it stops bubbling quickly take the Oreo out of the milk and place it in your mouth. Always keep a napkin close to you so you can wipe the excess milk off your fingers. This is a time sensitive maneuver but it creates optimum milk cookie ratio for the greatest taste!
Isn’t that a hoot! My how society has advanced.

Till next time…john
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