Friday, December 11, 2015

Rahm's crocodile tears



     Oh please.
     I don't know which is worse. The drama and self-importance of the protesters, reeling around Michigan Avenue, venting their demands, insisting that Rahm Emanuel resign, as if that would do anything. Or the dewy-eyed performance of the mayor, who can quiver his lip and apologize and take responsibility and insist that Things Are Going to Change without giving any indication of what that change might be.
     First, the protests. I would bet none of them have the foggiest idea who would be mayor if Emanuel quit, which he won't. Do you? It would be the city's vice mayor, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd). Sure, he's the man to fix everything. Just last month, while black aldermen were condemning Garry McCarthy, Reilly was most prominent among the white aldermen genuflecting before the doomed police superintendent, singing his praises.
     "Yours is one of the most difficult jobs in the City of Chicago, and we just want to make sure that you've got the resources that you need to complete the mission," Reilly warbled.
     So that's the guy who'll fix the police department when Rahm resigns? Which he won't. Reilly would soon be replaced by the Chicago City Council, and we all know what kind of genius they've made mayor in living memory: puppet Eugene Sawyer.
     Yet the mob calls for Emanuel's head. Long term strategic planning is not the strong suit of mobs.
     Leading us to the man who is never resigning, Rahm Emanuel. He's been mayor for nearly five years. Don't you know him yet? This is the guy when Hillary Clinton fired him, refused to go, but wrapped his arms around Bill Clinton's knees and pleaded until he was allowed to stay. He doesn't quit, because that would mean he hasn't won, and Rahm has to always win. It's a rule. He aims high.
     "Nothing less than complete and total reform of the system and the culture that it breeds will meet the standard we have set for ourselves as a city," Emanuel said Wednesday, somehow restraining himself from adding, "except of course the mayor. The mayor stays."
     Empty words. "The standard we have set for ourselves as a city." Since when? When did we set that standard? On Wednesday? And why was it set? Because after nearly five years of ignoring police malfeasance Emanuel finally snapped to attention. And why did he snap to attention? Because the blood of Laquan McDonald touched whatever spider web of a soul is to be found within the mayor? It sure didn't for the first 13 months after it happened. Emanuel couldn't even bring himself to watch the video. Or so he says.
     No, the New York Times published a call for his resignation—that's gotta hurt—and the The Magnificent Mile Association keeps phoning, shrieking, "Can't you get these people out from in front our stores. It's Christmas!" And suddenly he's solving our nation's racial biases on the backs of the police department.
     Sure, they could do a better job of weeding out bad apples. But protecting incompetents is what unions do: I've belonged to one and watched it operate for nearly 30 years, and while I think unions are important organizations, I also know that no reporter could be so big a screw-up or head case that the union wouldn't go to bat for him. In a newspaper, it leaves you with goldbricks, in the teacher's union, lousy teachers, but with the police that kills people. Every cop involved in one of these horrific shootings has a jacket as long as my arm, where nothing was done. The only reason we're worked up now is because of advances in video technology, which the whole ossified buddy-buddy Mount Greenwood cabal of inbred law enforcement has yet to figure out how to sidestep. But they will. Meanwhile, it'll be interesting to see how the mayor creates the illusion of change, so he can get through this, see out his term, and then go on to wherever it is mayors go, exiting with all the dignity he can muster, citing figures and statistics like an auctioneer that proves, to him if no one else, that he was the best mayor ever.
     Speaking of ex-mayors. You know who must be having a good laugh right now? Richard M. Daley? I really wish he dwelled in the temporal world so I could ask him. But he's on some whatever astral plane, being ferried on his buddies private jets from the Gold Coast to Shanghai and back, chuckling so hard his shoulders shake. Here's the guy who shrugged off pleas from Amnesty International to investigate torture allegations against Jon Burge, who sold off the city's assets to cover the commitments he traded for votes but couldn't keep, and left the city a stinking financial mess sliding toward utter ruin. Lauded as the best mayor in the country, rode off into the sunset as the city blew kisses at him. Meanwhile Rahm, twice the administrator Daley was, has fallen and can't get up.
     That's my takeaway from his speech. Don't be fooled by emotion. Rahm Emanuel is just the latest politician signing a check he can't cash.

25 comments:

  1. 1. When O when is the rotten pile of shit Daley going to get indicted?

    2. DNA had an interesting article http://tinyurl.com/npnaxe6 that had McCarthy wanting to institute major disciplinary reforms, only to have the city's corporation counsel block them. No wonder McCarthy was furious when Rahm fired him!
    It's obvious the corporation counsel was actually working for the police unions, instead of the taxpayers or even the mayor.

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    1. Clark, I had a theory (or someone else did and I appropriated it) Daley was told by the Feds "Retire or be indicted."

      And Private, who would want to be mayor either? Daley left this city's finances in utter ruins, among his many, many other failures

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    2. I seriously doubt the feds would've given Daley that option.
      When the feds indict someone, 99.999% of the time, they have them dead to right!

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  2. Good article all around, Neil. This isn't all on phony Rahm. The marchers aren't realistic.

    Clark, McCarthy was in a no win situation. Who would want that job now?

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    2. Patience, Private, patience. Give people a chance to get it figured out and get used to the new system.

      I didn't want to use my first and last name as my screen name here and couldn't figure out how to change my Google account to show just a screen name, so I created a LiveJournal account. That took all of about 45 seconds. I assume the other sign-in options offered on this blog (TypePad, WordPress, AIM) would be just as quick and easy

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  3. Neil, I think you're being a bit too hard on both the protesters and Rahm. Although it's likely Rahm's words are "empty" in the sense that they won't be backed up with any real action, the words do matter -- I can't imagine Daley saying anything even faintly resembling what Rahm said. And the protesters: maybe not the best PR to disrupt Christmas shopping, but if they don't holler now, when and how would be better?

    john

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    1. No, the words are good, and this is the apt moment to protest. My point is, check back in six months and see what has happened. My chips are on "Not Much."

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    2. Six months is probably too soon. I expect some change is already underway on the street and real change will occur when a few cops are convicted. In that connection a cop rapist just got convicted by a jury of his peers in Oklahoma City.

      Tom Evans

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    3. No change is underway on the street. Their faces look the same. I been looking at them. They think they run the world, I guess. They are deeply entrenched, they cannot change. My chips are on "not much," too. Unless they get to them at the TRAINING level. Isn't that the higher ups, though? So, back at the same problem, that of persons who WILL NEVER CHANGE. Look: what did it take to change Germany? To change the Mongols under the Khans? Lincoln Steffens tried all this.

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    5. A couple of black aldermen said that the Michigan Ave. protest was counter-productive.
      I'm still waiting to see if any store has the guts to sue Pflakey Pfleger & Jackson for tortious interference with their businesses.

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  5. This was a fairly sensible take on the situation. I thought the long editorial today's Sun-Times ran smacked of the women who come down from the hills after the battle to finish off the wounded and strip the dead. Where were journalism's finest when McCarthy was hired and why didn't they tell everybody he came with baggage. I suppose the fact that he wasn't hated by the union like his predecessor might have been a tip off of some kind.

    Good letter addressed to cops from one of their number now retired in today's Sun Times.

    Tom Evans

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    1. Yes, the anecdote about watching a teenager run off with a gumball machine as Daley's shoot-to-kill order reverberated in his brain was priceless. I had a similar situation eons ago when I could have stopped a robber who had taken my money by running over him with my car, but decided not to.

      john

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  6. I've been reading you since you came to Chixago. One of your best columns. Ever.

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  7. When are YOU going to take over, Neil Steinberger? Godamn genius... Those protesters are not the problem. Who is the problem? You don't like the police, you don't like the politicians, you don't like the stupid idiot protest community... "Having a good laugh" is not the answer to our troubles. Too late for Richard M. Daley. Those are not our problems anymore. Concentrate on two things: getting rid of Rahm is one. The people who train police are the other one. Once the officer is mis-trained you cannot change him---he needs to be loyal to the system.

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  8. One: Rahm's not going anywhere;
    Two: What one learns in the Academy is not what is done on the street;
    Three: Nobody's loyal to "the system," but rather to considered "brothers" (and "sisters" maybe);
    Four: As far as I know, Neil has never advertised himself as the preeminent problem solver, even though his tone might imply such;
    Five: In every organization there's a powerful force for maintaining the status quo -- this force has been irresistable in Chicago history time and time again.

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  9. Some good points Tate. Re number three, "unit cohesion" is highly sought after in the Army because military leaders know that soldiers put their lives on the line less for their country than for their buddies. But they also know that training and doctrine is important. We hung German officers after the war not just because they committed war crimes but because they failed to promulgate standing orders that would prevent their common soldiers from doing so. An important legal nicety where military style organizations are concerned.

    Concerning Rahm, he seems to rub many people the wrong way, but does anybody think Chicagoans would be better off with any of the motley crew that ran in opposition to him?

    Tom Evans

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  10. Emanuel is hoping he can talk his way out of this mess for now, and that the feds will force the needed changes. Trouble is, most people don't have the patience to wait on the long process of a federal investigation, and the results will probably bring more grief to the mayor's office. He's toast.

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    1. You may be underestimating the patience people can show toward intolerable situations. It's lasted this long.

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  11. Have to love how they think of their women in some Muslim nations and these are not terrorist types. This is relating to the women voting for the lst time in Sauda Arabia.

    Despite women's participation in the vote, however, there's a widely held sentiment among many Saudis that women do not belong in public life.

    Abdullah Al-Maiteb summed it up as he made his way into a polling station in Riyadh. "Her role is not in such places. Her role is at home managing the house and raising a new generation," he said. "If we allow her out of the house to do such business, who is going to take care of my sons?"

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