Category Archives: Fred Roti

Your Daily Hot Air

Sometimes I think World Net Daily was made up just for me.

For my entertainment. For my edification. For my sense of superiority over the gang of lunatics that puts it out.

From WND

Maybe this is what I’m missing out on by not being a sexist slob or a racist. Scads of folks across this holy land seem to feel they are better than others simply because said others either possess vaginas or dark skin. It must feel good to know in your heart that women are weak and stupid and blacks are criminal and lazy — and you’re not one of them.

Superiority must be a trip, right? Otherwise, what’s the point of being a sexist and/or racist?

So yeah, I feel superior — moral- and intellectual-wise — to the jabbering chuckleheads who populate the WND universe.

The WND pantheon includes busts of that great philosopher Chuck Norris, who has fap-fantasized about becoming the president of the Republic of Texas after it secedes (oh, please!), and the redoubtable Jerome Corsi. You may recall Corsi swearing up and down during the 2004 presidential campaign that John Kerry had faked his Vietnam wounds. And, more recently, he has posited that Barack Obama is some kind of a Kenyan fag abortionist or something.

Norris

Chuck Norris And Friends

The WND faithful also are regularly treated to the screechings of Phyllis Schlafly and David Limbaugh (who almost makes big bro Rush sound occasionally sane).

Yeesh.

WND is chock full of ads for gold (the preferred safe investment harbor for survivalists), magical vitamins and elixirs, fountains of youth, and even for the newly-martyred Paula Deen. The fly on this pile of horseshit is none other than former baseball pitcher John Rocker, who pens a regular op-ed column for the site.

John Rocker, for chrissakes!

Anyway, wouldn’t you know it, last week’s US Supreme Court decision to coerce all good, white, straight men into butt sex has the WND crew all aflutter.

Some self-described Christian lawyer named Matt Barber, a regular WND contributor, is convinced he’s going to be imprisoned sooner rather than later as a direct result of the gay marriage ruling. And you know what happens in the joint, don’t you?

Prison

Anyway, Barber recounts a hand-wringing email exchange he had with another self-avowed Christian lawyer, who remains nameless in his Monday column. After speculating that the gay marriage OK will lead to the obligatory state-sanctioned unions of brothers and sisters (ick) and rampant polygamy (just a tad less ick), Barber’s pen pal pronounces:

In my 35 years as a Christian, I never seriously believed we might end up in prison for our faith — except, perhaps, for something like a pro-life demonstration. This is the first time it seriously occurs to me that the trajectory of the nation is such that it is possible in five to 10 years.

Because, as you are well aware, the Christians are such an oppressed minority in this country.

Barber couldn’t agree with his friend more. He writes:

Do I believe Christians will face real persecution, such as loss of livelihood, civil penalties, physical abuse or even jail? Absolutely.

So, there you have it. Gay marriage equals Christian concentration camps.

And, yeah, I’m superior to these howler monkeys, moral- and intellectual-wise.

It does feel good. Thanks, WND.

Borrowers, Lenders & The Mob

Margaret, the Big Cheese at the Book Corner, Bloomington’s only independent bookseller where I peddle ’em Mondays through Wednesdays, will probably clunk me in the head for this one but, I gotta tell you, I’m becoming addicted to the library.

Book Corner

Not The Library

I’m reading a couple of books a week now, mainly because I’ve been borrowing from the Monroe County Public Library. I have zero idea why I haven’t done this before.

Think of it: your town or big city has within it a system wherein you can take books, CDs, or DVDs home for your personal use — for free. All you have to do is flash a library card.

You may say, Sure, Big Mike, we know all about it, but when’s the last time you did it?

I mean, even the fire department charges your survivors for sending an ambulance over when your heart explodes from a lifetime of sliders and Pop Tarts. The library doesn’t charge you a penny. How can it be that there isn’t a line around the block when the place opens in the morning?

Anyway, I’m just finishing up a book called When Corruption Was King, written by Robert Cooley with help from former Chicago Magazine editor Hillel Levin. Cooley was a mobbed up, kinky lawyer who was in bed with legendary Chicago First Ward bosses Pat Marcy and Fred Roti, who did the bidding of the city’s Outfit.

Roti

Alderman Fred Roti

The Outfit, of course, is Chicagoese for the Mafia, La Cosa Nostra, wiseguys, goodfellas, or whatever Hollywood wants to call organized crime. According to Cooley, the Outfit, through Marcy et al, controlled Cook County’s courts, much of the Chicago Police Department, and too many city agencies to list here. Suffice it to say if you wanted a quick building permit, a zoning variance that the neighbors had been fighting tooth and nail, or just to get your teenaged kid off for denting the skull of some hapless Puerto Rican with a baseball bat, your lawyer paid a visit to Pat Marcy and slipped a nickel or a few dimes into his pudgy hand.

A nickel, in Chicago parlance, is $500. A dime, natch, is a grand.

So, the First Ward boys were the extra-legal funnel through which all smart city business flowed. Marcy and crew took care of the average citizen in the know as well as the big boys who ran the city’s gambling, vice, and narcotics operations, among other colorful pastimes. Most Chicago crime experts believed Marcy was a “made guy,” meaning he was an officially approved member of the Outfit. And, no, the Chicago mob didn’t have any elaborate ceremonies and rituals, the likes of which were portrayed in The Godfather and every other crime movie made since. In fact, the Outfit was an equal opportunity employer, welcoming members of every ethnic group imaginable into its ranks, so long as they were good earners and were willing to snap a guy’s thumb when called upon to do so.

From "The Godfather"

Fiction

Cooley revealed the fixing of murder cases and the buying of state legislation through efforts of Marcy and his guys. Big circuit court judges who’d previously nurtured reputations as law-and-order hard-asses were in truth, Cooley and Levin wrote, guys who’d fix any case for a buck.

See, Cooley was a big player in these shenanigans until, he says, he got fed up, had a change of heart, and walked into the US Justice Department’s Chicago office unannounced and told the feds he wanted to play ball with them. Cooley then wore a wire when he did business with the First Ward boys. The evidence he amassed led to dozens of arrests and convictions and the eventual dismantling of the First Ward pigsty.

Cooley’s no Raymond Chandler or even John Grisham but his story is as riveting as anything they could come up with.

And, by the way, the kind of pervasive corruption that Cooley helped bring down in Chicago’s First Ward may be a thing of the past now but it was built upon the passing of cash from one hand to another.

The last I heard, cash still buys things. Enough of it can still buy permits, justice, and legislation. Only now, the system is nationwide, or even global, as opposed to Pat Marcy’s petit-realm. Look at the so-called Monsanto Protection Act for proof.

We need a new Robert Cooley.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“Come, come, my conservative friend, wipe the dew off your spectacles, and see that the world is moving.” — Elizabeth Cady Stanton

WORKING MOM?

Look, I don’t care if Ann and Mitt Romney had ten kids, Hilary Rosen was right.

All the corporate media pundits are saying the Rosen flap is a win for the Romney campaign. Maybe. I don’t know.

Perhaps a significant number of middle class and poor mothers around this holy land will say, Golly gee, I raise a family and I know it’s a tough business.

It is — for them. For Ann Romney it was not.

Do you think she spent countless hours on her knees scrubbing the toilet?

Did she struggle trying to put together a healthy dinner for a family of seven on a budget more amenable to a family of two or three?

Did she ever have to take a bus to her kids’ school for a parent-teacher conference?

Did she keep her fingers crossed that her 14-year-old car wouldn’t crap out suddenly?

Did she wear tattered underwear because her family’s health insurance premiums precluded her from buying new ones?

Whenever her kids bawled or sassed or puked or spilled orange juice all over the kitchen floor, was she the only responsible adult around?

Or were there any paid helpers around to suffer the abuse or pick up the pieces?

Did she ever have to sew up holey socks?

Nope

Did she ever check the mail every single day for weeks at a time in the hope her federal income tax return check had finally come?

Were gangs a problem at the exclusive schools she sent her kids to?

Did she lie awake at night wondering how she could prevent one or more of her kids from dropping out of high school?

Did she ever worry about her credit card bill?

How often did she shrug her shoulders at the suggestion of sex because she was too exhausted from chasing kids around all day?

Really, did she ever have any of the worries, did she ever suffer any of the ordeals, that the vast majority of American moms have had to endure?

I know the answer and you do too.

So let’s cut the bullshit: Ann Romney has never had to work a day in her life.

HAROLD

Yesterday was the 29th anniversary of one of the weirdest municipal elections in memory.

On April 12th, 1983, Harold Washington, US Congressman from Illinois’ 1st District, was elected mayor of Chicago.

He was the first black man to attain that office in what had long been called the most racially segregated city in America.

Yep

My hometown had been run from 1955 though the end of 1976 by Richard J. Daley, the last of the big city machine mayors. As a little kid I actually thought Mayor Daley was a single word that meant any city’s boss. I recall watching the news one day and seeing that New York had elected a new chief executive. I concluded, therefore, that John V. Lindsay was that city’s mayordaley.

Chicago’s Big Cheese For 21 Years

Then Daley dropped dead in his doctor’s office a few days before Christmas in the Bicentennial Year. The City’ Council’s President Pro Tem announced he’d be the acting mayor until a special election could be held, per the city’s charter.

Well, the City Council wasn’t going to let that happen because its President Pro Tem, Wilson Frost, was a black man. Hell, the city just might slide into Lake Michigan if a black man became mayor, if only an acting one. So the Council did what it does best — it made a closed door, illegal deal to select a harmless alderman named Michael Bilandic mayor.

Bilandic, naturally, won the special election and seemed a lock to retain the office in the next regular election until a 20-inch snowstorm paralyzed the city days before the 1979 primary. Chicagoans blamed Bilandic for the massive expressway and el train snarls that resulted and threw him out in favor of a feisty former Daley department head named Jane Byrne.

Bilandic And His Snow

Even though she possessed the wrong genitals in certain Chicagoans’ views, many liked Byrne because she was tough as nails. For instance, on election day 1979, she phoned Alderman Fred Roti, the Mob’s man in City Hall and a notorious ballot box stuffer. Look Fred, she said to him, I’ve got a good chance to win this thing. All I ask is that you and your boys give me a fair count. If you do, I’ll be fair with you. If you don’t, I’ll cut your balls off.

It was Fred Roti, by the way, who proudly told this story again and again.

Janey Was Tougher Than Roti

Anyway, by the time Byrne came up for reelection in 1983, Harold Washington had thrown his hat into the ring. Most observers figured he was being silly. The voters of Chicago would never in a million years elect a black man mayor, they reasoned.

Then a strange thing happened. Daley’s kid, Richie, the State’s Attorney, started thinking the mayor’s office was a family heirloom that was rightfully his. He, too, entered the Democratic primary race.

Voters living in the vast Northwest and Southwest sides of the city (read: white people) began suffering from the vapors. By good god in heaven, they shrieked, that dumb Daley kid’s gonna split the white vote!

Old Man Daley’s Kid

But Richie Daley wouldn’t drop out even when polls showed him neck and neck with Byrne.

Lo and behold, on the day of the primary Daley and Byrne canceled each other out and Harold Washington won the Democratic nomination.

You never saw such hand-wringing in “The City that Works.”

The Republicans, meanwhile, hustled to put up their own candidate for mayor. Previously, the words “Republican candidate for mayor of Chicago” were merely a more verbose way of saying “loser.” But the heretofore moribund GOP, sensing their first real shot at the office in half a century, selected a member of the Illinois House named Bernie Epton to go up against Washington.

Bernie Epton

The idea that a Republican — and a Jew — could become mayor would have been laughable only two months before the general election. But the city’s white electorate was far more terrified of a black man than a Jew. Come election day, Washington won by the narrowest of margins.

Harold was a fascinating fellow. Personally charismatic, he was a master at pulling a reporter or a fellow pol close while shaking his hand and whispering some pearl of wisdom in his ear. It was as though Washington trusted him and him alone with what he had to say. I’d been pulled close by Washington a couple of times; the gesture made me feel like the biggest shot in the room — next to him.

Washington also had served time in the federal joint before becoming mayor. The IRS claimed he hadn’t filed income tax returns for 19 years, although it admitted he’d paid his taxes in full. Many wondered why such an astute lawyer (he was the only black man to graduate from the Northwestern University School of Law 1952 class) could be so dumb as to not file his returns.

Some Washington biographers claim to have evidence that Washington’s daddy-o was the South Side’s premier policy wheel operator (“policy” was the black ghetto’s illegal lottery game). According to these biographers, Washington himself earned a bit of spare cash from his father’s racket and decided it was better to risk being charged with failure to file rather than declaring income from a criminal gambling operation.

Typical Chicago Policy Wheel

After a brief marriage during World War II — he served in the Philippines with the US Army Air Corps — Washington remained unmarried until he died. Republican operatives during the 1983 election floated the rumor that Washington was gay. When that didn’t prove effective enough, they began whispering that he’d actually gone to jail on a child molesting rap.

Washington’s supporters countered that he was a great ladies’ man. One backer later claimed that if you put all the women Harold had slept with in one corner of City Hall, the structure would sink five inches into the ground.

Harold changed City Hall after his election. While he was mayor, the Hall became a festive place, filled with blacks and Puerto Ricans and more women than would ever be seen there under previous bosses.

Under him, City Hall became a mirror of the city itself.

Harold Waves To Well-Wishers After The Votes Were Counted

Washington was reelected in spring 1987. Then, a few days after Thanksgiving that year, while in a meeting with his press secretary, Alton Miller, Washington, sitting behind his desk, dropped a pencil. He bent over to pick it up but, to Miller’s puzzlement, remained bent over. Miller got up to see what was wrong but Washington was already dead. His heart, enlarged due to his widening girth and high blood pressure, had simply given out.

Even in death, Washington inspired delirious creativity in his supporters as well as his enemies. Certain Republicans claimed the Cook County Coroner had found cocaine in his body during his autopsy. His backers countered that he’d been poisoned to death by unnamed white people.

Here’s my favorite Harold Washington story. I heard this from someone in his administration who was there when it happened.

Washington was in a meeting with three people. It was getting late in the afternoon and the four hadn’t eaten lunch yet so Harold suggested they send out for sandwiches. One by one, each of his three underlings specified which sandwich he wanted with one of them jotting the information down. Finally, they got around to Harold. He said, “That sounds good. I’ll try that.”

The note-taker asked for clarification: “You mean that last sandwich?”

“No,” Harold Washington responded. “All three of them.”

He died fat and happy.

WRITERS READING

Hey, get yourself over to the Windfall Dance Studio this evening at six o’clock. Bloomington’s own master-ess keyboard clacker, my pal Joy Shayne Laughter, is reading a terrific short story there. (You know, the word mistress just didn’t work for me there.)

Joy’s story is called “The Last.” It’s based on the recollections of her great-grandfather who, as a young man, left Indiana for the wild’s of Kansas to take a job as one of the last of the wolf-poisoners. Honest, that was a position in great demand back a century and more ago. Cattle ranchers wanted to protect their livestock from predatory wolves so they hired guys to set out wolf bait laced with deadly poison.

Joy’s reading is part of the ongoing series “Early Drafts” featuring works in progress read aloud by local writers. The incomparable Tony Brewer is scheduled to spout some poetry tonight as well. There’ll be music, an act from a play, and other arty-fun things.

Windfall is located at 14th and Dunn.

BE PATIENT

If you’ve read this far, thanks. Please bear with me. I’ve got to post right now even though I haven’t selected and placed my pix yet. If I don’t get up off this seat, Soma Coffee’s gonna charge me rent.

I’ll have images up later today.

Okay, you’ve got pix.

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