Friday, May 18, 2012



Both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune reported in their 5/18/12 editions that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is “livid” about the work Ricketts family patriarch Joe Ricketts is doing with a Super Pac called the Ending Spending Action Fund. Apparently, depending on who is telling the story, Joe Ricketts is actively working with the Fund, or merely listened to a proposal from the Fund, to run ads that remind voters of the tirades of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Barrack Obama’s pastor before the aspiring president through the Reverend under the bus during the 2008 campaign. Mr. Emanuel apparently doesn’t like that voters in this year’s presidential election might be reminded of the less savory aspects of President Obama’s background and, as a consequence, is not taking phone calls from Joe Ricketts’ kids (Tom, Laura, et al.) who own the Chicago Cubs and are looking for a taxpayer handout to enhance the value of the toy they bought with the trust fund their father left them. So it looks like negotiations regarding a substantial contribution by you, the taxpayer, toward putting $300 mm in the pockets of the Ricketts family are postponed until either Joe Ricketts repents or Mayor Emanuel gets over his hissy fit.

One can decry Mayor Emanuel’s attempts to control the free speech rights of Joe Ricketts all one wants, and many are doing so today. But this would not have been an issue had the Ricketts family not lined up at the trough in order to jack up the returns on their “investment” in the Cubs and Wrigley Field. Once you take the man’s money, you have to dance to the man’s tune. The Ricketts family, despite protests to the contrary when they bought the team, has come to Mr. Emanuel hat in hand and now has to submit to whatever the Mayor demands unless they somehow summon the courage to say something like “No. We value our liberty more than the hundreds of millions of dollars we want to leech off the taxpayers to make ourselves even richer than our daddy has made us.” Don’t count on that. The Ricketts will just have to suck it up and behave if they want their spot at the trough, which they apparently value far more than such quaint notions as the liberty to express one’s self. What’s freedom when an ultra-luxury lifestyle is at stake? In this sense, the Ricketts family will do what those members of the our city’s “private sector,” and political community, whom Mr. Emanuel publicly extols but privately takes for the meretricious stooges they are, have done: shut up, roll over, and beg for the bones the people who run this town can hand out. (See, inter alia, my 5/13/12 post, HOW DO I LOVE THEE, OH MIGHTY AND WISE RAHM? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS.) This behavior towards the butt smoochee on the Fifth Floor did not start with Mr. Emanuels’ ascension to his latest stepping stone, but you already knew that.

One would make a better, but still not very good, argument, were one to advance the notion that Joe Ricketts doesn’t own the team; his kids do. But he provided the spondulicks that enabled his progeny to go off on this particular lark. And Joe should know as well as anybody else that politicians like Mr. Emanuel have a difficult time making fine distinctions between, say, fathers and sons and daughters. Further, to the extent that Joe Ricketts is involved here, he is showing the blatant hypocrisy that has infuriated people as ideologically diverse as the Tea Party and Occupy movements: Joe Ricketts is against federal spending, but he really seems to like the type of spending, and other raids on the bank account of the average guy, that makes his family even richer.

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