Category Archives: Rahm Emanuel

Hot Air

The Acting Profession

Dunno about you but that whole Django Unchained actress run-in with the police smelled rotten to me from the get-go.

The photo of her crying struck me as kinky. She looked like nothing other than an actress chewing the scenery.

Watts

Danièle Watts, Emoting

And now we discover that she and her boymate were banging in the car, in the middle of the afternoon, on a public street, with the door open wide enough so that people could photograph their congress from a nearby office building.

But what turned my stomach almost as bad as her falling back on a celebrity privilege copout and a racial profiling charge was the fact that she and her Romeo wiped themselves clean of bodily fluids and then proceeded to toss the wadded up napkins or tissues on the parkway outside their car.

The whole thing stunk of arrogance, entitlement, and puerility.

And it fries me that now Right Wingers’ll say, for the trillionth time, See, they’re always pulling out the race card.

Bowie

How cool is this?

Tuesday, September 23rd, will be David Bowie Day in Chicago. That’s the day that the Museum of Contemporary Art will open its “David Bowie Is….” retrospective exhibition.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel broke temporarily from his usual union-busting, 1%-kowtowing duties to sign an official City Council proclamation declaring the city in thrall for 24 hours to perhaps my fave rocker.

Chicago City Council

The exhibition runs through January 4th and includes “[m]ore than 400 objects, most from the David Bowie Archive — including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material from the past five decades….”

And, in case you’re dying to find out, here are my two fave Bowie discs:

Bowie Discs

Station To Station (L) & Low

When I was a callow 20 y.o., I longed to be as cool as Bowie, mainly because he was everything I wasn’t: British, a rock star, thin, light-haired and -skinned, a poet, fragile as a porcelain doll, and rich. One night in about 1979, he dropped in at Neo, a club I haunted regularly. “Go talk to him!” someone said to me. But I was too scared.

Bowie, it turned out, was really short and, in reality, just a guy. In fact, he stumbled as he walked past me away from the bar. That night I decided I would celebrate my non-Bowie-ness as Big Mike.

Calling For Help

Middle Way House reports a 77 percent increase in calls regarding domestic abuse in the days since the Ray Rice/Janay Palmer security cam recording was released. This morning’s Herald Times [paywall] quotes MWH exec director Toby Strout as saying, ““When a celebrity commits domestic violence or sexual assault, it makes the front page for a while, people pay attention.”

Which is a goddamned shame. Which, also, is why I call on all who read this to drop a dime whenever you hear what sounds like a physical altercation. If you’re wrong, so what?

Black Eye

Not only that, for my own part, I’ll continue to socially shun anybody I know or am acquainted with who has assaulted and/or battered a “loved” one.

The onus is on us to teach our males that rape and battery aren’t boys-being-boys funtimes but repulsive crimes. How have you conveyed this to your sons, nephews, grandchildren, or brothers lately?

Lotus Fest Sked

Here’s your Lotus Fest 2104 lineup:

Venues

  • Buskirk Chumley Theater 114 E. Kirkwood Ave.
  • First United Methodist Church 219 E. 4th St.
  • First Christian Church 205 E. Kirkwood Ave.
  • First Presbyterian Church 221 E. 6th St.
  • Ivy Tech Community College Tent 6th St. between Walnut & College
  • Old National Bank/Soma Tent 4th & Grant streets
  • The Bluebird 216 N. Walnut St.
  • 3rd St. Park 331 S. Washington St.

Thursday, September 18th

● 7pm: Söndörgó, Canzoniere Grecanino Salentino Buskirk Chumley Theater

Friday, September 19th

● 6:30pm: Söndörgó First United Methodist Church

● 6:45pm: Catherine MacLellan First Christian Church

● 7pm: Kaia First Presbyterian Church

● 7:15pm: Vanesa Aibar & Company Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 7:15pm: Mames Babegenush Ivy Tech Community College Tent

Mames

Mames Babegenush

● 7:15pm: The Revelers Old National Bank/Soma Tent

● 7:45pm: Catherine MacLellan First Christian Church

● 8:05pm: Nora Jane Struthers & the Party Line First United Methodist Church

● 8:50pm: Nagata ShachBuskirk Chumley Theater

● 8:50pm: Van-Anh Vanessa Vo First Christian Church

● 8:50pm: FullSet First Presbyterian Church

● 8:50pm: Tsuumi Sound System Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 8:50pm: Aurelio Old National Bank/Soma Tent

● 9:50pm: Söndörgó First United Methodist Church

● 10:10pm: Banda Magda Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 10:25pm: Nora Jane Struthers & the Party Line First Christian Church

Struthers

Nora Jane Struthers

● 10:25pm: Erkan Ogur’s Telvin Trio First Presbyterian Church

● 10:25pm: Orkesta Mendoza Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 10:25pm: Movits! Old National Bank/Soma Tent

Saturday, September 20th

● Noon to 5pm: Lotus in the Park 3rd St. Park

∙ 12:15pm: Kaia

∙ 1pm: Banda Magda

∙ 1pm: Radha Lakshmi

∙ 1:45pm: Arga Bileg

∙ 2:30pm: Sancocho Music & Dance Collage

∙ 3:15pm: Lotus Dickey Song Workshop

∙ 4pm: The Revelers

● 6:30pm: FullSet Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 6:30pm: Arga Bileg First United Methodist Church

Arga Bileg

Arga Bileg

 

● 7pm: Banda Magda Bluebird

● 7:15pm: Catherine MacLellan First Christian Church

● 7:15pm: Tsuumi Sound System Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 7:15pm: Las Cafeteras Old National Bank/Soma Tent

● 7:30pm: Nagata Shachu Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 7:50pm: Kaia First United Methodist Church

● 8:50pm: The Revelers Bluebird

● 8:50pm: Vanesa Aibar & Company Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 8:50pm: Derek Gripper First Christian Church

● 8:50pm: Nora Jane Struthers & the Party Line First United Methodist Church

● 8:50pm: Mames Babegenush Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 8:50pm: Aurelio Old National Bank/Soma Tent

● 10:25pm: Emel Mathiouthi Buskirk Chumley Theater

● 10:25pm: Singing for the Planets First Christian Church

● 10:25pm: FullSet First United Methodist Church

● 10:25pm: Orkesta Mendoza Ivy Tech Community College Tent

● 10:25pm: Movits! Old National Bank/Soma Tent

Sunday, September 21st

● 3pm: World Spirit Concert: Arga Bileg & Derek Gripper Buskirk Chumley Theater

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Women are all female impersonators to some degree.” — Susan Brownmiller

SHE♥S A GIRL

Do American women really want pink cars?

I suppose there are those who do, but do enough of them crave advertising the fact that they have the XX chromosome that it’s worth it to Honda produce millions of the new pink Fit She♥s?

Haven’t we gone beyond this stuff?

BTW: that’s precisely how Honda’s styling the new model’s name, with a cutesy little heart rather than an apostrophe. Ick. And another thing, what would be the purpose for an apostrophe in that position anyway? The whole thing is a mess, I tell you.

Pink Car? Flowers In Hand? Proof She Has A Vagina

Terrifyingly, the new Fit She♥s have windshields designed to minimize facial wrinkles (I’m not making this up) and the AC system helps prevent bad skin.

Oh, you gals!

Back in the early 70s when women’s lib was becoming sort of acceptable, Phillip Morris Company marketed Virginia Slims cigarettes. They were longer and narrower and had pretty little packaging.

The ads for the smoke were everywhere. You’ve come a long way, baby, the brand’s tagline, became part of the cultural landscape.

But that was then. Sassy women were fresh and exotic — that is until they started making noises about earning the same salaries as men — then they had to be squashed. Just a few years later, Phyllis Schlafly and her gang of upright simians successfully stymied the Equal Rights Amendment. Before the decade was out, women’s lib became a couple of dirty words.

Somehow many females in this holy land got themselves elected to Congress and even were named CEOs of big corporations. Heck, there are more female university students than male in the United States today.

And, mirabile dictu, they’re not just going to college to look for husbands.

So even though the wording of our Constitution was never changed to accommodate one half of our population, women seem to be making big strides, even if the Right Wingers and Christian fundamentalists would like them to make little pitti-pat strides in bare feet.

I feel uncomfortable around anybody who needs to blare to the world what shape their genitals are. Suffice it to say I don’t keep company with any woman who’d be hot for one of these pink cars.

In fact, it was The Loved One who insisted on black when we bought our then-new car a few years ago. She’s cool by me.

Who Am I To Argue With The Loved One?

INNER CITY BLUES

So, our friends in the Bloomington Common Council last night OK’d the plan to build a 168-room Hyatt hotel on Kirkwood just west of the Courthouse.

Yeesh. I smell a pile of Starbucks, McDonald’s, and Coldwater Creeks popping up around that area quicker than you can say gridlock.

Bloomington Tomorrow?

This ain’t Memaw and Pepaw’s Bloomington anymore.

FREEDOM! WELL, A LITTLE BIT

In the lead-up to last year’s scheduled NATO and G-8 summits in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his State’s Attorney, Anita Alvarez, cooked up a law banning the recording of cops doing their jobs on the city’s public streets.

Protesters and civil liberties advocates screamed to high heaven that the new law would allow the cops to act with impunity during rallies and marches. It would be, they feared, 1968 all over again.

Reporter & Protester, Bloodied By Cops During The ’68 Convention

Rahm and Alvarez, whose position is analagous to that of Chris Gaal here, figured they’d be protecting the identities of cops who might subsequently be targeted at their homes for retribution or merely for the hell of it.

It’s possible. Problem is, whenever public officials or law enforcement officers are allowed to work in secrecy, they tend to do things that they really need to keep secret. Like clunking people on the head with their nightsticks.

A Convincing Argument

So, what’s more important? Keeping cops safe in their homes or keeping citizens safe from the cops?

I know where I stand. Police work is a dangerous business. You take your chances when you take the oath. That doesn’t mean anyone who messes with the home or family of a cop isn’t a stinking rat. But we have laws to protect any citizens — including cops — from criminal attack.

We always have to be vigilant against the chilling effect of authority and tyranny on public speech and demonstrations. That trumps most other considerations.

And guess what? The US Supreme Court agrees! Huzzah!

The Court, still dominated by Reagan/Bush/Bush conservatives — believe it or not, refused to overturn a lower court ruling yesterday that Emanuel and Alavarez’s new law was too broad and unconstitutional.

They Got It Right This Time

Next time there’s a mass demonstration in Chicago — or anywhere else in this free country — protesters will be able to record the doings of the cops, just in case the boys in blue have an urge to dent some skulls.

[A Note: The NATO summit was eventually moved to another location where organizers wouldn't have to worry about mass protests.]

FOGIES

In other Supreme Court news, the Rolling Stones now are older, on average, than the nine members of the highest court in the land.

Early Humans

And that includes Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who in March will celebrate her 169th birthday. She is the only living human to have attended both inaugurations of Abraham Lincoln.

The team of mathematicians who calculated the astronomical figures have said they did not take into consideration the fact that Keith Richards has lived the equivalent of hundreds of years. Had the Richards factor been added to the algorithm, the math geeks say, the average age of the Stones would have exceeded that of the ancient redwood trees of California.

Just Kids

 

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“All the people like us are we, and everyone else is they.” — Rudyard Kipling

PAY ‘EM: DAY 5

Both sides say this morning that the Chicago Teachers Union strike may end any minute.

Striking Chicago Teachers Rally At Buckingham Fountain

School board boss David Vitale told the Chicago Sun-Times that the strike may end as soon as today, with classes meeting Monday.

Teachers union boss Karen Lewis is playing it a little more conservatively, saying “I don’t know” repeatedly when asked about a swift return to the classroom.

As usual, the city is buying the teachers out with scads of dough, which is fine. But the CTU’s demand for improvements in teacher evaluation system probably won’t be part of the new collective bargaining agreement.

On a political note, if the strike does end this weekend, Barack Obama will not suffer any fallout from it, considering that the memory span of the average voter is about 13 and a half seconds.

Designated Bad Guy

Obama’s former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is now mayor of Chicago and has been positioned as the villain in this morality play by striking teachers and pro-union observers. Obama campaign staffers have been keeping their fingers crossed that the stink of Emanuel’s anti-union stance won’t rub off on on the president..

GOD’S MAD MEN

Now the rage spreads to mainland Africa.

Protests over the non-film that ignited the embassy attacks this week have flared up in Sudan.

Sudanese Protesters Burn Down The German Embassy

This whole affair is starting to stink in the worst possible way. Read Roger Ebert’s take on the anti-Islam film, which he has discovered is really no film at all.

And one of this holy land’s fave snake-oil selling preachers, Pastor Terry Jones, was one of the financiers of this particular hate bomb.

I call for the immediately transport of Jones, “filmmaker” Nakoula Nakoula, and anybody else affiliated with “Innocence of Muslims” to the center of downtown Cairo for their just deserts.

The Trailer

That said, my take on the outrage is this: Muslim men ought to spend more time with women. The mobs in the streets are all male, natch. There’s no calming or nurturing influence. Just a bunch of testosterone-engorged bullies shaking their fists and occasionally throwing a stone or slaying an ambassador.

Any culture that relegates women to second-class status is bound to be dominated by the least savory aspects of maleness.

And speaking of males:

Click For Full Article

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Rupert Murdoch is the most dangerous man in the world.” — Ted Turner

PAY ‘EM: DAY 4

Jerry Pritikin, who’s also known as the “Bleacher Preacher” (he sermonizes on the religion that is Chicago Cubs fandom), lives across Wells Street from Walter Payton College Prep School, one of the jewels of the Chicago Public Schools.

His high-rise window gives him a front row seat to the daily picket line outside the school’s front door. He snapped this shot early yesterday morning:

And yesterday Rupert Murdoch sloshed out of the primordial ooze that is his natural habitat to throw his support behind the intransigent Mayor Rahm Emanuel in negations with the Chicago Teachers Union.

Murdoch joins a roster of Emanuel’s anti-labor backers that already includes Romney, Paul Ryan, Rudy Giuliani, and everybody else who favors a for-profit, corporate-run educational system.

In case corporate school management doesn’t alarm you, keep in mind it is the private, for-profit sector that has given us global warming, job-outsourcing, the financial meltdown of 2007-08, monster SUVs, Khloe Kardashian, and KFC’s Double Down.

Oh, and another thing:

YOU WORK WITH WHAT YOU’VE GOT

As repugnant as Willard Romney’s lightning-quick politicization of the embassy attacks was to all serious-minded, concerned, right-thinking people — and even some members of his own Republican Party — his finger-pointing might have been a smart political move.

I reacted strongly on Facebook yesterday to his fatuous charge that President Obama “sympathizes” with the attackers:

Upon reflection, though, it occurs to me that Romney’s remarks might not have been as ill-considered as many wags and experts seem to think.

It’s becoming clear that Romney’s ceiling is 50 percent of those likely to go to the polls in November. As in, that’s the best he can hope for. If he wins, it won’t be because his party loves him to pieces nor because he inspires passion among the so-called independents.

In fact, his core constituency, whether he likes it or not, are those who are still scared to death of the brown “outsider” they consider Obama to be.

That’s whom he was speaking to yesterday. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Obama said that Romney shoots before he aims. Maybe, but not in this case. Romney was aiming directly at the limbic brains of people who already think Obama is an Arab plant in the White House. Romney and his strategists know that they have to get those folks out in bunches on Election Day.

Romney’s Opponent

You know as well as I do that plenty of people will be telling each other that Obama is cozy with Muslim extremists — and as proof they’ll repeat Romney’s slander.

Get ready for more of this: the election is only 54 days away.

WHY, MOM AND DAD, WHY?

Bloomington’s own John Mellencamp tops Ranker.com’s list of celebrity parents who’ve saddled their heirs and heiresses with absurd or grotesque names.

And just to show how preposterous the mania for baby-naming “creativity” has grown among those whose lives are devoting to begging for our attention, Frank Zappa’s decision to dub his daughter Moon Unit only ranks No. 6 on the list.

Here are Ranker’s top ten Most Ridiculous Celebrity Baby Names:

  1. Speck Wildhorse Mellencamp (parents Mellencamp and Elaine Irwin)
  2. Moxie CrimeFighter Jillete (Penn Gillette and Emily Zolten)
  3. Pilot Inspektor Riesgraf Lee (Jason Lee and Beth Riesgraf)
  4. Little Pixie Frou-Frou Geldof (Bob Geldof and Paula Yates)
  5. Pirate Houseman Davis (Jonathan and Deven Davis)
  6. Moon Unit Zappa (Frank and Adelaide Zappa
  7. Fifi Trixibelle Geldof (Bob Geldof and Paula Yates)
  8. Jermajesty Jackson (Jermain Jackson and Alejandra Oaziaza)
  9. Audio Science Clayton ( Shannyn Sossamon and Dallas Clayton)
  10. Kal-El Coppola Cage (Nicolas Cage and Alice Kim)

Moon Unit Zappa Managed To Avoid Committing Patricide

Lest you think Nic Cage’s kid was named in honor of some hero of the Arabic-speaking world, “Kal-El” was actually the name of the kid from Krypton who eventually grew up to be Superman. In the comics, Nic.

Check out the list for 40 more names guaranteed to earn the average child daily beatings in the schoolyard. Some teasers: Larry King named his son Cannon and Bob Geldof makes the list a third time and Paula Yates a fourth.

HOLY MATRIMONY

Thanks to Deanna Goe-Truelock of Roots on the Square and the Siam House for pointing these cogent arguments out:

THE WISDOM OF THE OUTSIDE WORLD

Many people think the rest of the world possesses a wisdom and sensitivity that we in this holy land lack. That may be, but there are some powerful arguments to refute the claim.

To wit: the world beyond these shores has embraced the likes of Slim Whitman as well as “Baywatch” and David Hasselhoff.

It follows, then, that the non-US world concerns itself with a sport that’s almost as scintillating as living through a coma.

From XKCD Via I Love Charts

(Note: The “Football” in green is soccer. The “Football” in, um, vomit-after-a-night-of-drinking-cheap-wine red is American football — y’know, the sport of traumatic brain injury.)

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“The lack of money is the root of all evil.” — Mark Twain

PAY ‘EM: DAY 2

First things first: The Chicago Teachers Union strike is not about the children. So let’s stop that silly, mawkish pretense this instant.

The teachers are going on strike because management wants to squeeze their pay and benefits, extend their work day, and expand class sizes. These are workplace issues, not We love children and only want what’s best for them issues.

If teachers and management wanted only what’s best for the children, the city would be throwing bushels of money at the teachers in an effort to get them back in the classroom and the teachers would be telling them not to bother because they (the teachers) would be more than happy to work for peanuts.

The kids are getting screwed royally in this mess. They’re missing the continuum of daily attendance in school. It may take weeks for them to get back in their groove, depending on how long this strike lasts.

Parents who work are getting screwed, too. Tens of thousands of families in Chicago are scrambling to make arrangements to make sure their kids aren’t roaming the streets all day while teachers walk the picket lines.

Very little benefit is going to come out of this craziness for anybody other than the teachers.

And that’s okay.

People get hurt in strikes. Customers and clients and vendors and and everybody else who depends on an industry starts hurting when that industry is hit by a strike.

One of the potential hammers either side has in a work stoppage is the collective anger of all those aggrieved parties. If a striking union plays its cards right, customers and clients and all the rest will start putting heat on management to make a deal.

The union has to control the PR side of the contretemps. In this case, the Chicago Teachers Union has to convey the message that its members are not rich, they’re not asking for wheel barrels full of precious metals, and — for pity’s sake — all you out there need them.

If the union does it right, it’ll walk away from this with nice raises for the teachers, a manageable workday, and class sizes significantly shy of the capacity of the Wrigley Field bleachers.

And if the kids and the families of Chicago get their knees scraped in the process, so be it.

I’m behind the teachers 100 percent.

I only ask them and some of their supporters not to try to bullshit me or anyone else. Teachers don’t go on strikes because they’re thinking of nothing but the children. They go on strikes because they’re worried about paying their mortgages and dreaming of sending their kids to college.

Nothing wrong with that as a casus belli.

WORKING

Here are the highest-paid careers in the United States this year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Pharmacist — $112,160 average salary a year
  • Air traffic controller — $114,460
  • Sales manager — $116,860
  • Airline pilots — $118,070
  • Financial manager — $120,450
  • Industrial-organization psychologist — $124,160
  • IT systems manager — $125,660
  • Marketing manager — $126,190
  • Natural science manager — $128,230
  • Architectural and engineering manager — $129,350
  • Lawyer — $130,490
  • Petroleum engineer — $138,980
  • CEO — $176,550
  • Dentist — $161,750 to $204,670
  • Doctor — $168,650 to $234,950

Who’d have a problem if teachers ranked anywhere in that list?

Me? I’d be thrilled to see teachers knock sales managers or financial managers off. And industrial-organization psychologists? They’re getting paid that much dough just to delve into people’s heads so they can make the workforce more pliant and submissive?!

Not only would I help the teachers throw them out, I’d give those sons of bitches kicks in the ass on their way out the door.

ONE MORE THING

Take a look at this luxury baby stroller:

The Nicest Ride On The Block

I don’t know how many people own one of these baby limousines. I’m willing to bet, though, that tens of of thousands of parents — maybe hundreds of thousands — would buy one if they could.

Now, how many of those people do you think want Chicago’s teachers to stop making trouble and go back to work?

I’M NOT FINISHED YET

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sends his kids to a private school.

That, my friends, is an outrage.

He is saying, essentially, that the schools — his schools — aren’t good enough for his kids.

The Emanuel Gang

Mayor Richard M. Daley and his old man, Richard J., both sent their kids to private schools as well.

What would people say if Bill Gates, while he was running things at Microsoft, carried a MacBook around with him wherever he went?

Mark it: The day I’m acclaimed King of the United States, I’ll decree that all municipal officials must send their kids to their local public schools.

They just might start seeing things a little differently.

OLD TIME (REALLY, REALLY OLD TIME) POLITICS

The technology already exists to generate video images of dead politicians and celebrities saying precisely what you want them to say in real time.

Big Think contributor Dominic Basulto speculates on the 2016 Republican National Convention when the star of the show will be Ronald Reagan lambasting Hillary Clinton or Julian Castro or Alec Baldwin or whoever will be the Dem standard-bearer.

Click For Full Article

Of course, my feeling is the GOP would be more accurately served by a video image of Homo Neanderthalensis grunting his distaste for women who enjoy sex and his worship of a psycho-sadistic god.

“Sandra Fluke Has Sex!”

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Can we all get along?” — Rodney King

BELTIN’ BIRDS

The alarm hadn’t even rung this morning. It was about a quarter past five. Yet I was awake.

The din outside my window was, considering the hour and my state of unconsciousness just moments before, deafening.

I should have been mad, no?

I wasn’t.

A countless variety of birds was whistling, clattering, gargling, hooting, chirping, yipping, and otherwise letting the world — and this no-longer-sleeping beauty — know they were alive.

It was the most beautiful cacophonic symphony imaginable. Like the birds, I was glad to be alive.

TINKERING

The Electron Pencil’s GO! Events Listings now have their own page.

You wanna know what to do today? Click the GO! TODAY button above.

GO! — the best listings in Bloomington.

TOO TOUGH FOR OUR OWN GOOD

During the dark days when the Republicans seemed to be the only party in this holy land with guts, with a vision (albeit repulsive to me), and with exciting candidates (at least to fellow Republicans), I longed for my Dems to, well, wake up.

I mean, honestly, Michael Dukakis?

Y’Wanna Vote For Me? Okay.

The late 80s was the nadir of the party. The GOP was constantly prowling and attacking and my Dems were always cowering in a corner. The tone was set when, during the 1980 presidential debates, Ronald Reagan listened patiently to incumbent Jimmy Carter (I mean, honestly, Jimmy Carter?) read off his list of particulars, accusing Reagan of being, you know, a Republican, and then, when it was his turn to speak, gave a sad little shake of his head and said, like a headmaster, a camp counselor, a disappointed father, “There you go again.”

Now You Listen To Me

Reagan needn’t have said another word. Carter was deflated. Defeated. Finished. He knew it. Reagan knew it. And America knew it.

The Republicans, particularly Reagan, had a way of withering the Dems with a single phrase.

I was embarrassed to be a Democrat back then. It was almost as bad as being a Cubs fan.

I longed for the day my party would rear up and fight back.

The Republicans through the years had had their Joe McCarthy, their Donald Segretti and G. Gordon Liddy. By the 80s, they had their Lee Atwater. All tough, no-nonsense guys who’d stick a shiv into the belly of any Dem at any time.

Tough, Albeit Deranged

Why, I wondered, couldn’t we have a guy or two like that?

Would we always be so touchy-feely, so accepting, so forgiving, so ready and willing to bear our necks and let the predators of the world go for our jugular?

It got so that the Republicans turned our passivity into their own campaign asset — they would argue, Do you want these softies “protecting” you against the commies and the brown-skinned people of the world?

And, really, who would want Walter Mondale, to be the wingman in an alley fight?

Don’t Worry; I’m Right Behind You

But the Dems were learning. In 1989, Lee Atwater floated the rumor that Speaker of the House Tom Foley lived in a “liberal closet” (wink, wink). Barney Frank, the advance guard of the nascent fighting Dems, came out swinging.

Frank announced to the press that if the Republican innuendos about Foley’s sexuality didn’t cease forthwith, he’d release the very next morning a list of five prominent Republican congressbeings who were secretly gay and do the same thing the next day and the day after that until all the GOP closets were empty.

The Republicans jumped like scalded rabbits. Atwater instructed the White House operator to track down Foley immediately so he could tell the Speaker the attacks were history.

Hello, Tom? C’mon Man, You Can Take A Joke, Can’t You?

And then, a miracle. Bill Clinton came out of the nowhere that is Arkansas. He was tough. He was ready and willing to throw some thumbs. Not only that, he had a snarling dog on a long chain next to him, one James Carville, a guy who could make even Liddy take a deep breath.

Clinton’s campaign headquarters became know as a War Room. The gloves were off. The fight was on. The Dems won the White House, woo-hoo!

The Republicans, of course, eventually came back with a series of rabid curs: Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Dick Armey, and Karl Rove. They snatched away first the House of Representatives then the White House.

Rabid

Then came Barack Obama with his own carnivore, Rahm Emanuel.

By the 2008 presidential election, it seemed the Democrats had reached parity with the Republicans in terms of toughness.

Still, the Republicans had their lunatic fringe fighters, the so-called Minutemen along the Mexican border, the abortion clinic bombers, the murderers of doctors who provided abortions, Michigan militias, and other terrifying creatures.

Now these really were people who could make the sane among us cower in a corner.

Somehow we always knew the guy flying the plane into a government building or the loner purchasing tons of fertilizer-based explosives would be a right-winger.

White Makes Right

And even if the Republican establishment tut-tutted these folks, I always got the feeling that puffy, paunchy chicken hawks like Rove secretly wished they too could bring a sidearm to a political debate.

We Dems could proudly say, Yeah, we’re tough now, but we aren’t psychotic.

That is, we could say it until now.

And the newest psychos come from right here in good old Monroe County.

You may have heard about the brutal attack on a gathering of white supremacists (perhaps the first time those words have ever been written together) in a Chicago suburb over the weekend.

See, a gang of five Bloomington-area men barged into a family restaurant in Tinley Park Saturday and beat the bejesus out of a bunch of old men gathered there to eat club sandwiches and tell each other how fabulous they are for being descendents of Eastern Europeans.

Attack Scene

The five were under the mistaken impression that the old men were part of a white supremacist organization.

It’s not known what feelings the old birds have in their heart of hearts for brown-skinned people, or even if they consider brown-skinned people people at all, but they swear up and down they’re not part of a Klan-like gang.

But let’s assume for a moment that they are, just for the sake of argument. Let’s assume they despise people who aren’t blessed by god with pasty skin. Let’s assume they met at the Ashford House Restaurant to discuss among friends how the darker people of this land are ruining it.

Even if that were the case, the five men who exploded into the restaurant carrying billy clubs, knives, hammers, and other instruments of mayhem are jerks.

Thought Police

They went into the place with murder in their hearts (trust me, when you carry a hammer into a brawl, you’re looking to kill someone), aiming to punish human beings for their thoughts.

Thought crime.

I thought it was a fictional conceit.

But the Sutherlin boys and their two pals from Bloomington, Indiana, have made it real.

Now, we of the left side of the spectrum have our own fringe fighters. We’d better do more to distance ourselves from our psychos than the Republicans did.

 

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.” — James Madison

EXTREMITIES

So, Richard Lugar was “too moderate.”

Say that to yourself: too moderate.

That was the Me Party charge against the ancient US Senator from Indiana.

And that’s what lost him the 2012 Republican primary.

Too moderate.

Out

It’s a contradiction, an oxymoron. It’s like saying a guy is of extremely medium height. Or the weather has been unbearably mild.

Too moderate.

In others words, Richard Lugar was thrown out of office because he wanted to work with the opposition party in the Senate.

And again, Dems, don’t get all huffy and righteous over this. Most of the criticism of Barack Obama from his own “loyalists” has been that’s he’s too willing to strike deals with the GOP. Hell, I’ve raked him over the coals for it.

But it occurs to me that moderation and compromise are the qualities that make just about every human relationship — from marriage to democracy — work.

GOP Winner Richard Mourdock Promises Not To Work Well With Others

But see, we don’t want relationships any more, I suppose. And most especially, the Me Party-ists don’t want relationships. They want their way. And if they don’t get it, why then there’ll be hell to pay.

Another thing occurs to me now — the Me Party-ists are the definitive Americans of the 21st Century. They are the New Ugly Americans.

A BEAUTIFUL MIND

I voted for Shelli Yoder in the Dem primary for strategic reasons. She’s the only one among the five candidates for the nomination for US Congress from Indiana’s 9th District who can beat Republican Todd Young in the November election.

I would have been equally happy with Jonathan George or Bob Winningham, strictly from a philosophical angle. John Tilford, too, only he never had a chance in this race and he knew it (I got that inside info from an impeccable source.) As for John Griffin Miller, well, I hope he had fun running — because his candidacy was a lark.

But Shelli can win over a lot of central and southern Indianans outside the former Soviet Socialist Republic of Bloomington (BSSR) because she’s exceedingly charming and pretty. Don’t yell at me for typing that — I’m just the messenger here. Most people vote for gut reasons, not because they’ve spent hours poring over position papers and contemplating the issues of the day.

All’s Fair

I’ll say it again, there’s a lot more to Shelli Yoder than her shayna punim (relax, it’s not a dirty term; look it up in your Yiddish dictionary). Being a former Miss Indiana and the second runner-up in the 1993 Miss America pageant will make a lot of people much more comfortable voting for a Democratic woman, though.

In this case, the Dems have to use every edge they’ve got.

THE COLOR OF MONEY

A Mark Rothko was sold for more than $86M in a Christie’s auction yesterday.

Rothko’s “Orange, Red, Yellow”

Mark Rothko has been dead since 1970, so all that dough isn’t going to benefit him terribly much.

Capitalism’s a really weird system, no?

STALAG 2012

The world’s biggest bags of wind are due to arrive in Chicago in a week and a half.

See, the leaders of the NATO member nations are gathering in my hometown to discuss how they can further carve up the planet.

The 2012 NATO Summit will run for two days, May 20th and 21st. Not only will the presidents, prime ministers, and otherwise-titled bosses of the NATO states be in attendance, but so will their Secretaries of State, Foreign Ministers, Defense Ministers, and miscellaneous social delinquents.

Naturally, this presents a golden opportunity for the more snappish among the citizenry to cause mayhem.

At the low end of the threat level, some bandanna’d anarchists might embarrass Rahm’s Town, say, by tossing a stink bomb into McCormick Place. On the other hand, there’s the very real danger that some bad guys might try to harm the people who have the generally-accepted right to harm the rest of us when it benefits them and their countries.

So, the security apparatuses of the various nations have agreed to turn my ex-fair city into a prison camp for those couple of days. Everybody’s getting into the act. The Chicago cops are preparing for Armageddon, the FBI is spying on everybody who sneezes the wrong way, the US Secret Service will be on the lookout for people carrying fingernail clippers, and even downtown businesses are prepping their employees for the festivities.

According to news reports, Loop firms are advising their people to dress down on the days of the Summit. The wearing of suits and wingtips, apparently, might induce some wild-eyed radicals to attack. The idea, I guess, is that they’ll think the guy in pinstripes walking down Wabash Avenue with a cup of coffee in one hand and the Sun-Times in the other just might be British Prime Minister David Cameron. And you know wild-eyed radicals — next thing you know the poor schlub has a pie in the face (or worse).

“That Guy In The Suit, It’s The German Defense Minister! Get ‘Im!”

Here’s my solution to the problem: next time these chuckleheads want to get together, send them to some way out of the way place where they won’t mess up the lives of innocent, ordinary citizens.

You know, the G-8 bosses were scheduled to meet this spring in Chicago as well — that is, until radical activists’ plans to descend on the city became known. Then the State Department moved the confab to Camp David, Maryland, where security is easier and the population is virtually nil.

But they did that for the comfort and ease of the big boys (and girls) involved, not for the little guys and gals on the streets of Chicago.

Ah, the privileges of power.

Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.

Wednesday, May  9, 2012

IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits, “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”; through July 1st — “Esse Quam Videri (To Be, Rather than To Be Seen): Muslim Self Portraits; through June 17th — “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”; through July 1st

IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibit, “Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze”; through June 29th

◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Arts Center Exhibits at various galleries: Angela Hendrix-Petry, Benjamin Pines, Nate Johnson, and Yang Chen; all through May 29th

Trinity Episcopal ChurchArt exhibit, “Creation,” collaborative mosaic tile project; through May 31st

Monroe County Public LibraryArt exhibit, “Muse Whisperings,” water color paintings by residents of Sterling House; through May 31st

Monroe County History CenterPhoto exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

Bloomington High School NorthSpring concert, Southern Indiana Wind Ensemble; 7pm

◗ Butler University, Clowes HallGarrison Keillor; 7:30pm

Cafe DjangoMedia Noche Trio + 1; 7:30-9:30pm

The Media Noche Trio

Max’s PlaceOpen mic; sign up begins at 5:30pm, music begins at 7:30pm

Harmony SchoolContra dancing; 8-10:30pm

◗ IU Kirkwood ObservatoryStar-gazing Open House, rain or shine; 9pm

Bear’s PlaceBrian Johnson & the Acquitted, Michael McFarland, Brian Fortner; 9pm

The BluebirdThe Personal; 9pm

The BishopThe Strange Boys, William Tyler & the Constants; 9:30pm

The Strange Boys

Jake’s NightclubBattle of the bands; 10pm

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