[Click above to embiggen: how Rahm Emanuel became Mayor of Chicago in the first place]
Today, a friend of mine sent me this article by Rick Perlstein entitled “Rahm on the Ropes” and asked me what the feeling is here in Chicago towards Rahm Emanuel (and what that portends for his future as Mayor). Anecdotally, here a few recent things to note about the man (or lizard, in my opinion) who will be Mayor of Chicago for as long as he wants (but that’s as high as he will ever go):
* I happened to be at O’Hare Airport for something in January and needed to take the Blue Line back into the city. I was SHOCKED to learn that it now costs $5.00 to board a CTA subway train at the airports; apparently, that fee hike took effect that very week. There was actually a CTA employee stationed at the turnstiles because passengers getting on the train were confused and angry that the automatic system was deducting $5.00 from every train card instead of the normal $2.25 to ride. “You can thank our wonderful mayor for that”, the clearly perturbed black CTA worker said, with a dramatic roll of her eyes and a knowing nod that expressed she didn’t like the fare hike any more than passengers did. The entire ride into the City was nothing but grumbles from people upset by how much it cost to ride the train. People were fuming in their seats…and frustrated there was nothing they could ever do about it, knowing that in Chicago once the price is raised on something it will never, ever come back down.
This move to double the train fare from the Airports was made because under Emanuel the City is going out of its way to soak tourists and travelers for as much as they can while they are here, figuring that people won’t stop coming to Chicago just because the train ride from the Airports costs double what the CTA charges to board at any other station…but what the City doesn’t think about is all of the black people who work at the airport and take the trains to get there. 90% of the TSA workers in Chicago are black, as are the food service, retail, and other airport employees. Since they board the trains at the Airport to ride home, Emanuel just doubled what it costs them for the return trip of their daily commute. That adds up to a lot of money per month for people working minimum wage…and I can’t imagine that’s not having unintended consequences in other aspects of life in the city, since it’s NOT just the tourists who are being gauged by this fare hike.
* Blacks are also going to be dramatically impacted by the plan to shut down the Red Line completely in May for a 5 or 6 month overhaul of the tracks on the Southside. The line’s being closed after the Roosevelt stop…and that will affect all the stops south to 95th/Dan Ryan. For those who don’t live in Chicago, these are the stops that are mostly used by black people (who will now have to struggle with shuttle buses to get to their jobs in other parts of this very segregated city). Emanuel claims that shutting down the entire line will save time and money, as opposed to only shutting it down on weekends to do track rehabilitation work. Right now, only a few people here and there talk about this disaster coming…but that’s because the trains are still running and no one is really paying attention. But, when May hits and the CTA trains stop serving the Southside…it’s going to get ugly.
* Public relations telephone polls and surveys happen all the time, with people calling every few weeks to ask opinions on Rahm Emanuel. That never happened when Mayor Daley was in office. The entire time I’ve lived in Chicago I was never polled about the Mayor until Emanuel took office…and now it seems like someone’s polling Chicagoans about a new crisis a week with him. An awful lot of money is being spent on this…and it makes you wonder why, since Democrats have a lock on the Chicago Mayor’s office (and, thus, you’d think they wouldn’t need to keep polling so much). This leads me to believe that people are grumbling so much with Emanuel as Mayor that Democrats want to keep tabs on the discord and always know just how upset people are on a rolling basis.
* There’s anger at Emanuel for his ineptitude in handling the teachers’ unions last year, but more people are upset that Chicago doesn’t have a casino. I hear that one all the time, because people say we’re losing jobs and money to Hammond, Indiana (just across the Illinois border) or to the casino that’s out in the suburbs and reachable by Metra trains. I’m from Cleveland, which fought a downtown casino for decades, and I’ve never understood the logic of allowing gambling residents to board buses to take their money to other states (or cities) to play their slots…when a city can keep that revenue (and all those jobs) in its city center. People seem to think having a casino means their town will turn into the dystopian “Biff’s” version of 1985 in Back to the Future…but does anyone really believe that having a casino in Chicago will suddenly make this city more corrupt or crime-ridden? I say at this point the city needs to do whatever it can to create jobs in Chicago and keep all the money it can…instead of letting anything leave for Hammond (which, incidentally, generates $22 million in tax revenue a month from its casino…and almost all of that is from people in Chicago who race across the border to hit the slots). Emanuel came into office promising that his bad temper and caustic way of doing things would pay dividends with stalled projects like the casino…but people have not seen that at all.
* Murders are out of control here and the street gangs do not fear the police or any kind of prosecution. It really is like the days of Al Capone again…and taking a trip to the Southside is like playing Russian roulette. Everyday life in Chicago feels less safe than when Mayor Daley was in office. I’m not sure why that is, but I think there was an emotional connection to Daley that made him feel like a no-nonsense uncle who’d crack skulls if the need arose. Daley seemed in control at all times…and that just made those of us who live here believe that he could apply the right pressure in any situation to make things happen. Emanuel has never seemed in control like that, and I think the thugs have absolutely no fear of him or any belief he can get the cops to really crack down on crime. So, essentially it’s become a free-for-all with Emanuel as Mayor.
* Cigarettes are $11 a pack now in Chicago, which is a big deal to all of the native Chicagoans. What I mean by that are the people who were born and raised here and live mostly in places like Bridgeport or off Polaski and in all the working-class neighborhoods with all the post-WWII squat brick single family homes. These are the people who obsessively play the lottery every day and who still smoke like chimneys (honestly, never, ever get behind one of these people in line at a convenience store because they take FOREVER picking out their lottery numbers and grumbling about the price of cigarettes…you will never be able to dash in and out for something quickly when they are in lottery or cigarette mode). Chicagoans are either natives or they’re young people who moved here to find jobs but leave after about seven or eight years when the weather gets to them or they realize life is probably a lot easier (and better) in other cities like Dallas or Austin. The people who were born in Chicago, have lived here their whole lives, and will no doubt die here are a different breed with vastly different concerns…and chief amongst those is the price of cigarettes. Most of these people find ways to cross the border into Indiana and buy “their smokes” at Wal-Mart over there, where a whole carton is now about the price of three or four packs in Chicago.
I need to note here how lizard-like and unappealing Rahm Emanuel is in general. He is not a nice person, and that shows. Truthfully, a nice person probably can’t really be the Mayor of Chicago but I will tell you that people loved Mayor Daley…even if they grumbled about him. Daley was charming and likable…and because he was Mayor for decades I think people just got used to him being around and accepting he was in charge. Following an affable figure like Daley with a caustic and petty man like Emanuel was a very strange decision on the part of Democrats in Illinois. I think it was really the worst move they could have made…and that a black Mayor would have been able to really crack down on the crime and bring the murder rate back into “acceptable” levels.
Conservatives never understand just how big a role race plays in Democrat politics, but in Chicago everything is about race. And to win the Mayor’s race, you have to remember that Emanuel needed the vote split 6 ways along specific racial lines…so willing clowns like Carol Mosely Braun, Patricia van Pelt Watkins, and William Dock Wells III gleefully split the black vote in the 2011 Mayor’s race…while buffoons Gery Chico and Miguel del Valle split the Hispanic vote to help Emanuel. Mosely Braun received a lot of money for her role in this and was able to wipe out a great deal of her longstanding debt by agreeing to be a stooge for Emanuel. Some of these others just liked the attention of being “a candidate for Mayor!” or enjoyed building some name recognition. It was all a big game though, because Democrats knew that having three black candidates on the ballot instead of just one meant that there was no way Chicago would have a black Mayor. Similarly, ensuring there are two Hispanics on there to split the Spanish-speaking/illegal Mexican vote means that Chicago doesn’t have a Hispanic Mayor. This is the game that Democrats play here that works so well in such a segregated city. All Emanuel needed was to be the only white person in the race and he’d win…which he did.
Republicans don’t even field a candidate for Mayor in Chicago because I think they are afraid of being punished for “interfering” with the Mayor’s race. Everything in this town is quid pro quo, so I think if Republicans don’t run anyone for Mayor then Democrats agree not to go after the seats of the token Republicans who do hold office in the Chicagoland area. And those Republicans enjoy being tokens and having their little positions, so they don’t ever want to rock the vote.
I always hope black people wise up one day and see how Democrats treat them no better than animals…because if Carol Mosely Braun and William Dock Walls III had just dropped out of the Mayor’s race in 2011, then that Patricia van Pelt Watkins could have solidified the black vote against Emanuel….while the Hispanic vote was still split between the two Spanish-speaking candidates…and I don’t know if Emanuel could have won if blacks were all focused on just one candidate.
But, getting people to see things like this is very much like herding cats. I’m really at the point of just giving up and accepting that this is how it’s always going to be in this city, where people have become so dumb that they’ll always fall into whatever trap Democrats set for them. Even though it keeps hurting them all on a personal level that they just never connect back to keeping Democrats in office.
I don’t see how Rahm Emanuel is ever ousted from the Mayor’s office because of how expertly the Left exploits race in this City…but I don’t see how this would ever translate into a presidential run for this lizard. Barack Obama owes everything to being “black”…and the last five years of American politics have been anomalous because we’ve had a black man as the head of the Democrat party. Things change immensely in 2016 when a black person most likely will not be at the top of the Democrats’ ticket…or even be in contention for the nomination. What has Rahm Emanuel ever done that would convince black people to support him with the same level of enthusiasm they’ve shown for one of their own like Obama? It’s ludicrous to think that. So, he (and any non-black Democrat) will be at an immediate disadvantage in 2016.
Next, you need to look at this man’s physical appearance and personality…and see that he is very much lizard-like. He’s also foul-tempered, bitter and angry, and prone to hurling curses and vile pejoratives at people he disagrees with. Emanuel is a very unstable person with possible bipolar disorder…and he’s infamous for sending dead fish to people in the mail or screaming at men while nude in the Congressional gang showers.
Emanuel is also gay and has staffed his Mayor’s office on the fifth floor of City Hall with as many Zac Efron-looking young male interns as he can find. Watching the Oscars, it was hilarious to see George Clooney dragging around yet another woman as his “date” or to see the other Hollywood actors who sport their own “beards”…and it’s so funny to me that a lot of straight people can’t tell that Emanuel’s gay. He’s a former ballerina who used to frequent the Man’s Country bathhouse here in Chicago before becoming a big national name…and his marriage is very much one of convenience. There are scores of young guys here in Chicago were part of a Rahm Emanuel “placement program”, where they had to be his boy toys for a while…but then were ultimately rewarded with recommendations into the top law firms, brokerage houses, or whatever after Emanuel moved onto the next hot young thing. This has been going on for years…and is the sort of thing that happens all the time in politics, particularly when it involves people who consider themselves untouchable (like Emanuel).
Could a foul-tempered, mean-spirited, and lizard-like petty tyrant become President? I don’t think so, because though Barack Obama’s personality is actually a lot like Emanuel’s (and they seem to have similar taste in boys) there was a stark difference in how the public at large reacts to these men. The majority of Americans like Obama, think he’s “cool”, and have a generally good impression of him on a personal level. They know nothing about who he really is and don’t really care, because they like supporting the “hip, black guy”…and that’s a brand that’s served him and those around him very well. Rahm Emanuel just doesn’t have that going for him….and he can’t suddenly transform himself physically into an attractive and likable person. The lizard in his DNA just can’t be transformed enough for him to run for President.
This is actually kind of like the Ministry of Truth that is our national media talking about Michael Bloomburg running for President when that just never made sense either. Bloomburg is not as lizard-like as Emanuel, but he still gives many people the creeps…and that’s a high hurdle to face before he’d even have to justify his policies and decisions in office to people. Democrats are great at hiding someone’s past or obscuring their personal beliefs and record…but even the best spinmeisters on the Left can’t take a naturally unappealing person who gives people the creeps and make that person into a credible presidential candidate. Andrew Cuomo’s going to have a big problem with this too, if he really thinks he can become a presidential candidate…and so for the good of the country I think it might be funny and interesting to see Emanuel, Bloomburg, or Cuomo mount an ill-fated presidential campaign. I just hope Republicans aren’t stupid enough to run someone even more unappealing against a guy like that.
Every day I realize I’m really nearing the end of my time in Chicago. The city is getting to me…and the fun I used to have here is just largely gone for me. There’s just too much wrong with the place since Emanuel became Mayor and things I used to be able to tolerate when Daley was in office just seem to bother me more now that Emanuel’s the public face behind these policies. The classic example I’ll leave you with is the city’s never-ending quest to snatch revenue from Chicagoans via parking tickets. There is an elaborate game that any driver in the city needs to play to avoid parking tickets…where there’s often a half a dozen signs giving conflicting instructions, with oddball requirements and warnings posted that require LSAT or SAT-level logic deductions to figure out if, yes, you can actually park in that spot today. Chicago has always been this way, but for some reason it felt like more of a game than an ordeal when Daley was Mayor.
I don’t know if that will make any sense to you, but when Mayor Daley was the public face of the City this “try not to get a parking ticket no matter how hard they try to trick you” thing felt more like an adventure…like, by parking your car you were engaging Mayor Daley in a high-stakes board game played on the streets of Chicago…and whoever knew the rules better won, but Daley wasn’t necessarily rooting against you and wouldn’t be upset with your beating him. With Emanuel, it’s just a totally different vibe now. Whenever Justin and I go anywhere and he parks the car there’s a real negative energy involved with the parking signs or dealing with the incredibly expensive parking meters. I feel a real heaviness in the air when I’m standing there in the cold with my notebook, trying to figure out if today is the third Friday of a month or a day when there’s a Sox or Cubs game or if there could be considered more than two inches of snow on the ground…or whatever other bizarre clues the signs are giving us to indicate whether or not we can park in that spot.
Since Emanuel’s been Mayor, it just feels like the game is now rigged and the deck is so stacked against everyone that I don’t wan to play anymore. I feel oppressed and overburdened by the action of the City of Chicago that it drains my energy to stand there and contemplate the parkings signage. This is not just because I’ve been living here for so long that the “adventure” of the Daley days is gone…it really is like playing Monopoly or Clue or whatever, but instead of playing it with a jovial person you like it’s now a game against a lizard-like and mean-spirited jackass. And it’s emotionally draining after a while.
I pick up on other people in Chicago feeling like this these days…and I don’t see how this man could mount a national campaign for office when this is the sort of impression he leaves on people.
Chicago Ground Report: Urban Outfitters pretending that no election is happening #MittRomney #BarackObama #PresObama
[ If you walk into an Urban Outfitters in October 2012 you’d almost not even know an election was happening. But, in 2008 walking into one was like stepping into an Obama shrine. The Ministry of Truth that is the American media does not want you to know this. Nothing to see here! ]
I had to testify downtown today in a discrimination case against a gay local business that has been persecuting its Christian employees (whom other employees deem “traitors” for being both gay and Christian and refusing to be bullied by other gays into denouncing their faith just because they happen to like guys). I was similarly discriminated against as a patron by these same people, so today I went on record with what happened to me and I guess we’ll see if the City of Chicago does anything about this. Stay tuned.
On the way to the train station to ride the Red Line home to Boystown, I decided to pop into Urban Outfitters to see if they had any Obama or Romney campaign shirts. If you recall, in 2007 I found a bright red “Hot for Hillary” shirt at Urban Outfitters that I turned into my primary campaign uniform…but never bought the one McCain shirt that Urban Outfitters had later on (opting instead for first a Democrats for McCain shirt I made myself and wore from June-August of 2008…which was replaced by a Palin for VP shirt I wore for the rest of the election). I fully intended to pick up another Romney shirt for my collection if they had one at Urban Outfitters and I was curious to see what Obama merchandise they had on sale, since in 2008 the store essentially turned into a floor-to-ceiling Obama shrine during the presidential campaign.
I was stunned to find they had almost ZERO Obama merchandise (which is ironic for those of you who call Bathhouse Barry by his other nickname, “Zero”…instead of the “O” he uses as his creepy personal emblem (The Eye of Obama)).
Walking off State Street (that great street!) and into the store I was immediately confronted by a massive display of Stephen Colbert merchandise. Tees, books, stickers, etc. all advertising Stephen Colbert for President. The large wooden table also had random things in the colors red, white, and blue including phones you could plug into your computer, a Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man from the movie Ghostbusters (which might be the mascot of the Green Party, I don’t know), stuffed animals that looked like monsters but matched the color scheme, etc.
Not a single Obama anything was anywhere to be found on the entire first floor. Not even pro-Obama books in the little books section.
Upstairs, I cruised the tee shirt racks for anything political and did find two stacks of Obama shirts; these were piled high and off to the corner as if no one had touched them in a while. One shirt was an Andy Warhol riff on Obama’s face…replicated in different pop art colors four times (which is exactly four times too many)…and the other shirt was a weird, religious-like tableau of Obama in the Oval Office kneeling in front of what I think was a picture of himself while a light from Heaven shined on him. There was a giant, dusty stack of those suckers. If you have visited the rough part of town in any urban center in the last few years I’m sure you’ve no doubt seen various thugs selling these kinds of shirts on street corners or from the open trunks of cars set up in parking lots of strip malls. These are the kinds of shirts they also used to sell on Times Square in New York City or in the low-rent souvenir shops that mar the National Mall in DC.
Clearly, there is not a big market for these at Urban Outfitters or they’d be prominently displayed in the front of the store.
I really want to emphasize how surreal this decision was by this store, particularly in Chicago, because absolutely no money was invested by Urban Outfitters in Obama re-election campaign merchandise. When I was in high school and my early years of college, I worked in retail for a few mom and pop shops and I actually got to help the owners select what merchandise I thought customers would like to buy. It was tough looking through the catalogs and making bets like this, because I’d feel awful if something I picked didn’t fly off the shelves and ever made it into the remainders bin. People who work for big chains like Urban Outfitters need to be even more savvy with their purchasing orders, since bad decisions by them result in millions of units of product heading to outlet malls or the Dollar Store if they don’t sell quickly in retail shops like the store I visited today on State Street in downtown Chicago.
There is no enthusiasm for Obama’s re-election amongst the target demographic of Urban Outfitters shoppers; if there was, I’d have been accosted by an Obamapalooza in the front of the store like I was back in 2008.
Obama is so four years ago to the kids who shop at Urban Outfitters.
Come to think of it, they didn’t even bother to design a new Obama shirt for 2012 since I remember seeing the Warhol and the religious-overtoned ones in 2010 or so; these may have been the last Obama propaganda shirts that Urban Outfitters had made and the stacks on display now could have been sitting there for some time. And yes, the religious-looking ones really were dusty. Nothing around them were, though. Those were the only shirts that people aren’t picking up and handling or ogling for purchase.
Ground Reports are always anecdotal…but they contribute to the notion that the corrupt, vintage media (which I call The Ministry of Truth, or Minitrue for short) is not giving us the real picture of this election on the tee-vee or in the newspapers. If what Minitrue says about people being more excited to re-elect Obama than they were to put him in office four years ago was really true then wouldn’t a chain of stores like Urban Outfitters sink a nice investment into selling Obama campaign merchandise to ride that wave of enthusiasm too?
I’m sorry, but Minitrue has got this all wrong (deliberately, I think) because a thorough exploration of Urban Outfitters on State Street in downtown Chicago (as close to the Mecca of the Obama cult as is humanly possible to be) turned up zero evidence of any lingering love affair for “Zero” amongst Chicagoans.
Minitrue won’t report this, but I just did.
UPDATE: I mentioned in comments that I like the tee shirts at Urban Outfitters (the ones that don’t feature Obama on them, anyway). They have a lot of 80s retro stuff and pop culture shirts that are cool. I am very much a tee shirt and jeans kind of guy and have a fun collection of vintage-looking tees that I’m proud of. I just found out a bout a place called BustedTees that has a honey badger shirt that I will be getting very soon no doubt:
I love it.
Honey badger don’t care, indeed.
Honey badgers are the natural enemies of snakes AND Eeyores, in case you weren’t aware.
And I will totally take this opportunity to tell you an anecdote about what to never, ever do to a gay guy you don’t know very well: do not EVER buy him a tee shirt or any other piece of clothing in a LARGE size. It’s like going up to a woman and telling her, “You should really shop at Layne Bryant. They’d have nice things for you there”. Whether that’s true or not, a woman doesn’t want to hear that. And a gay guy will check the label on anything to see if you gave him a LARGE. in gay culture, guys do this to one another to screw with their heads and call each other fat…which is the third worst thing you can say to a gay guy after (1) telling him you hope he gets AIDS and (2) saying you think he’s losing his hair.
My boyfriend Justin is trim and kind of looks like Joseph Gordan Levitt a little. He’s that sort of wiry, athletic build. His sister Darcy sent him a shirt from her vacation to some beach resort somewhere and it was a LARGE. For about a week after that, Joseph obsessed over “why my sister would send me that” and “does my sister think I’m fat”. He would only eat salad and grilled vegetables for days afterwards.
The thing is, Darcy is married to a straight guy (duh…she’s not Liza Minnelli or Michelle Obama) and straight guys like wearing LARGE things for some reason. Gay guys prefer athletic-cut small or medium shirts. Even if they really need a LARGE, they will squeeze into a medium or become a recluse until they starve down enough to do so.
Just a little tidbit that all straight people should know. So, honestly, if you are ever mad at a gay guy at work or some relative of yours then totally give him a LARGE tee shirt and say “I saw this and thought it would look nice on you”…and step back for the burn, baby, burn because Mary will be all sorts of degrees of upset over that.
UPDATE: After I posted this article, I checked my email and my friend Heidi out in the ‘burbs sent me a snapshot she took out in Prospect Heights, Illinois of a lawn sign that’s popping up EVERYWHERE over there:
I really like this. I really, really like this.
I think we need to do something fun with this in the form of palm cards to distribute around Chicagoland and nationwide. Justin’s working today but when he comes home I’ll have to ask him to make up something similar for us…and on the reverse perhaps include facts like these:
See anything like this where you live?
Chime in below or send us a ground report on it!
Illinois Ground Report: It is now safe to walk around Chicago in a Mitt Romney tee shirt. No one will scream at you, spit at you, or call you a racist…I swear!
My friend Penny Arcade and I designed the above Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan shirt based on a photograph she liked of the two of them; we’re going to wear these as our campaign 2012 uniforms. I made a few of them so I could wear one every day, and one for Justin too. I plan on wearing it everywhere I go through November 6th. Remember that I live in Chicago…and let me remind you what happened in 2008 when I’d wear anything with Hillary Clinton on it (and then later John McCain or Sarah Palin) when I’d go out and about in Chicago.
Just four years ago, black people would come up to me, try to spit in my face, and would scream that I was a racist because I was not supporting Barack Obama and DARED to wear anything backing Hillary and then later McCain/Palin. They would go completely UNHINGED at anything that wasn’t praising “The One”. Leftie loons of the privileged, young, white variety would also scream expletives, push me on the train, and shout that “Anyone who doesn’t vote for Obama is racist!” garbage. Though no one was sitting at Obama command centers specifically telling each individual to do this, the general vibe in Obama supporter ranks was to “get in their faces!” and to essentially bully and otherwise intimidate people who weren’t supporting Obama to become completely invisible. Anyone backing Hillary in the primaries or McCain/Palin in the general election was targeted with the full-on Alinsky Death Star. It was actually kind of scary to go out in Chicago in my Democrats for McCain tee shirt because the laser-focused hatred emanating from the eyes of Obama supporters did make me feel afraid for my personal safety at times.
Things are 100% different in 2012. That fervor to elect Obama is long gone and his supporters no longer even bat at eye at someone supporting Mitt Romney. Even in Chicago, his formerly zealous voters feel no compunction to berate Republicans, bully Romney supporters, or call anyone a racist who isn’t drinking the hopeychange Kool-Aid.
Obama is going to lose, folks…and lose BIG.
I’ve spent the last week or so going to all sorts of places in Romney/Ryan gear and while I have received a few looks from people who are surprised to see a Romney shirt on someone in Chicago, I’ve had no bad experiences while in 2008 I couldn’t walk to the end of my block without being screamed or spit at by Obama lunatics. I even get a lot of thumbs-up and questions about “where (I) got that”.
This is something the media doesn’t report, or even acknowledge exists, but the reality is that 2008 was a massive fluke and was powered largely by raw emotion: Americans thought it was time to “make history” and elect a magical black man to be President because they thought the color of this guy’s skin was going to “change the world”. Well, they were right about that…but in a very Twilight Zone kind of way people were not at all careful with what they wished for and the change that resulted over the last four years isn’t what they wanted.
Record unemployment, with between 25-30 million Americans either out of work or underemployed. $16 Trillion in national debt (and exploding with more daily). Islamic radicals conquering the Middle East, raping and murdering male ambassadors, and the White House ignoring clear security warnings and even considering releasing the “Blind Sheik” 1993 World Trade Center bomber. Obama’s watching the world burn and is enjoying it. Meanwhile, Obamacare’s terrified small businesses, forced many of them to shutter, and has frozen most hiring. We’re in an economic Depression caused by the wasteful 2009 “stimulus” (that went mostly into union coffers) and the uncertainty and zealous regulations of Obamacare.
People know Obama has failed and made a giant mess in Washington. Many are still uncomfortable admitting the first black man in the job was not as magical as they thought he’d be. These people not only won’t turn out for him in numbers he needs them to in November, but here in Chicago at least they have no interest at all in physically accosting, screaming at, or otherwise trying to bully anyone who doesn’t support Obama.
What happens when a would-be dictator loses his unpaid goon squads on the street?
I think we’re going to find out come November 6th, folks.
Are you noticing anything like this where you live? If so, send in a Ground Report and let us know!
Ground Reports from the “Depression that Shall Not Be Named” — things we notice that the corrupt media won’t report that show this is indeed a Depression
On my desk, just under the computer monitor, I have a little box full of slips of scrap paper. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid because the nuns who taught me in Catholic School refused to ever waste paper. Anything that comes into my home that’s blank on one side and has outlived its usefulness is drawn and quartered and spends some time as scrap paper in that little box for a while before it goes anywhere near the trash bin. When I get ideas for stories or someone tells me something that’s happened to him or her, I jot it down on these slips and then tack them up on the cork boards around my desk until I have time and a better idea of how I want to communicate that information to you on this site. Often, these slips sit there for a while because there’s not enough there for a big post in itself. Today I’m cobbling a few of them together into a Ground Report for Illinois that deals with some of the things I notice that make me conclude that — YES — we are most certainly in an economic Depression regardless of what the corrupt media is telling you. This is the “Depression that Shall Not Be Named” because Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow, Anderson Cooper and the rest of the pro-Obama talking heads keep using magic tricks and diversion to obscure this “invisible” Depression for as long as Barack Obama is in office. In their role as the Obama Palace Guard, they are better than David Copperfield, Doug Henning, or Siegfried & Roy ever were on the stage…or the Deatheaters were in all those Harry Potter books.
I invite you to share anything that YOU see in your own home towns that leads you to believe we are in an economic Depression, regardless of what the “news” is calling the current economy under Barack Obama. Here are a few of my observations:
* Storefronts are empty and long-abandoned in the fanciest buildings in Chicago downtown in the Loop, and that’s never happened before. While shops fail, they are usually replaced immediately by something else. I’ve never seen empty stores on Michigan Avenue or entire buildings completely vacant in Chicago. This is the kind of thing that was common in Cleveland in the 80s and 90s, but never in Chicago. When I moved here in 2005 or so, I was amazed by the fact that so little was ever empty or boarded up in this town because I grew up in an economically depressed city where this was common. Chicagoans are now experiencing this sort of thing. That can’t be good, folks. Entire shopping malls downtown have been failing…and these were the luxurious “vertical malls” that travel brochures used to brag about when it came to “shopping on the Magnificent Mile”. There is no mention of coming to Chicago to shop anymore in any of the Convention & Visitors’ Bureau material that I’ve seen in the last year or so…though there has been an ever-more-desperate push to bring in tourist dollars. Something is definitely wrong.
* I have a friend who used to be a realtor, with her own business. She had a beautiful two bedroom apartment near Boystown in a historic building that she owned, where she lived with her dog. Since Obama was elected, the woman lost her business and had to take a job as a cashier at Target just to keep the lights on. She had to sell off a lot of her designer clothes on eBay to buy money for food. Then she had to get rid of her dog, because she couldn’t afford to feed him and pay all her bills. Next, she had to move out of her apartment and take the extra room at her mom’s place because she needed to rent out the home she owned so that the rent money would pay the mortgage. She’s 37 and would have been homeless if not for her mother. Her tenants are frequently late with their rent because the husband in that couple lost his job and has not been able to find a new one.
* My boyfriend Justin plays this online video game with something to do with Star Wars. He started playing a year or so ago, when we were just starting to date and he explained how the game works to me: you pay a monthly subscription and get access to the game, which was originally hosted on 200 servers. You can create characters on a server you pick and interact with other players who are running around in this virtual world. In the time I’ve known Justin, that game has had to shrink from 200 servers down to just 10 because they keep losing subscribers. The game is impressive-looking, but people can’t afford to continue paying the membership forever. They’re about to eliminate more servers and rework the game into a free version that would just require purchases of special weapons and gear to play at a higher level. Star Wars fans are rabid and live and breathe this stuff, so if a Star Wars game is failing like this…then something is seriously wrong.
* A friend of mine is a recruiter/membership coordinator for a high-end gym. People are missing their payments and dropping their memberships like crazy in Chicago. The gym recently had to run an incentive for new members where if you sign up they’d reimburse your “joining fee” of $160 if you’d use the gym 80 times or so in the next 90 days. I’ve never seen this gym chain ever give any sort of breaks like this. Those joining fees were always nonrefundable and non-waivable. They are hurting for business so bad that they have to use desperate measures to recruit people.
* Another friend in New York just got married. She bought her dress on eBay. The day after the wedding, she put the dress up for sale on eBay. She essentially rented her wedding dress because she could not afford to buy one and then she recycled it to someone else.
* Consignment shops in Chicago are so flush with goods from people trying to sell their designer clothes that some won’t even take anymore product from people hoping to sell things.
* Coffee shops are closing. Not the big Starbucks ones and not Caribou, but the local ones, the mom & pops, and the limited area chains. I noticed one downtown that had actually just opened about a year or so ago (can’t think of the name) when it replaced the Ethel’s Chocolate Shop/Coffee Bar in the mall next to the Marriott on Michigan Avenue; and now that place is gone too, despite being in a busy area right next to a giant hotel and on Michigan Avenue.
* There is a real sense of desperation from anyone who works on commission whenever I go into a store. They really are laying on hard-sells, when before they were more laid back.
* It’s easy to walk into any restaurant in Chicago now, when they used to be packed. Places you’d never get a table now need no reservations and bars that used to be jumping 7 nights a week are now only busy on Friday and Saturday.
* At the grocery store I go to there’s a customer service stand at the front by the registers; this is where I buy my bus passes. When I’m waiting in line, I can’t help but watch people checking out and I see almost every other person using a purple and yellow Illinois EBT card. ALL kinds of people are using these now. There is a look of shame and embarrassment from most of them as they swipe their cards, too. This particular store makes someone who is using an EBT card announce it to the cashier, who has to push a special button to allow it as an EBT transaction and the humiliation on some people’s faces as they have to tell the cashier they are using EBT is heartbreaking. It’s cruel the way this store has this set up.
* I’ve written about this before, but places that would always have tons of job openings have nothing these days. The universities around Chicago are a good example because they previously always had, at any given time, at least 100 active open positions on their online Jobs Boards. Now, when I check these listings there are maybe 5 to 10 jobs open and they are all for very specialized and highly-degreed fields like professor or Vice President of Development. There are no entry level or mid-management jobs to be had in Chicago at a university or nonprofit. The paid internships are also almost all gone. Unemployment here is much worse than the corrupt media will ever allow you to know. About a year ago, friends of mine who are head-hunters stopped asking me for leads for anyone I could think of to fill jobs they were looking for…they don’t need leads anymore because they have more jobseekers than open positions and there’s a glut of applicants at every skill level in the system. That has not happened before in all the years my friends have been head-hunters.
* The panhandlers are nastier and more aggressive than ever in Chicago. More plentiful too. Crime in Boystown is up with robberies, pickpocketing, and burglary common here now. All over Chicago, there is more violence as the unemployed and desperate resort to crime to survive.
* If you check Craigslist for Chicago, there are more people selling themselves for money than ever before. There is an explosion of male prostitution in this town. This is noticeable because while you’d often see female hookers here and there on the streets, now you see groups of 20-something blonde boy hustlers working the streets too…and not just in Boystown, but everywhere. They look like guys who could be college students but for whatever reason are on the street and selling themselves instead.
* The workers at Burger King and Dairy Queen have gotten a lot better looking and are often times English-speaking now, when in the past the fast food jobs were usually filled by low-lifes or Spanish-speakers in Chicago. Now, people who would have worked at Borders or Best Buy or something are now working at Burger King, which means that the people who would have gotten jobs at Burger King probably have no jobs now (since they were displaced by this other tier of people).
Are you noticing any of this where you live?
Chime in below in comments or send us a ground report on signs of the “Invisible Depression” — the Depression that Shall Not Be Named — via HillBuzz@gmail.com.
If you aren’t seeing anything like this, please tell us where you live because the lot of us need to move there by you.
Illinois Ground Report: “Proud Union Member” Can’t Think of A Single Good Thing Unions Do in Chicago
So, I just walked up to the grocery store to get some things to make Justin pot roast and sweet potatoes for dinner. On my way home, I walked by a house that had a “Proud Union Member” sign in the front yard; unusual for the neighborhood, the owner of the house was out front raking his fallen leaves. He was a burly guy in his late-30s who looked like he doesn’t get all that much exercise. The mild raking he was doing worked up a sweat and left him short of breath.
These “Proud Union Home” signs are all over Chicago but I’ve been waiting to find a house that displays one where the people are actually home. Today I had the opportunity to ask this “proud union member” a few questions and I hope that you, in your own neighborhoods, take the time to do so too.
The exchange went something like this:
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A few weeks ago I read a report that a Romney/Ryan win in Pennsylvania will be determined by 4 swing counties – one of them is Bucks County. Until 4 years ago, this county was slightly more Republican than Democrat. Now it is reverse but the voters remain in the center and will cross party lines.
4 years ago, political lawn signs and bumper stickers for both parties were everywhere. Now I have only seen a handful from both Obama and Romney. I found out why this afternoon.
Today I attended our townships one day fair called Northampton Days. As a business owner (one that my family built, not the government) we had a booth. Both the Democrats and the Republicans had one as well. Here’s is a comparison of what I observed
The Republicans table was active and energized with at least 5 people at all times manning their table. Many of the residents who attended this family event knew at least one of them. They were handing out little flags and balloons that said Vote Republican. Everywhere you went, you could see the balloons. Some of them were Jewish and some were women and a few were in their twenties. Not the “white crusty old man” image the Democrats would have you believe. At all times, they’re table was busy with people stopping by. I asked the man why I didn’t see many Romney lawn signs and he said the campaign waited until after Romneys acceptance speech to order them and they don’t have them yet. He also said so many people were asking for them they might not have enough. They did have lawn signs for other Republicans running for other offices everywhere along the street and around their table.
The Democrats had a table with one woman behind it the entire time. Hardly anybody stopped by her table. They gave out paper fans with Flags, mints with American flags on the wrappers and pencils with all of the Presidents faces on them from Washington to Obama. The pencils were really cool but they were not personalized with either the Democrats name nor any of the candidates names. On the end of the pencil it stated they bought them from Oriental Trading, an online party supply company. They also gave out balloons but very few people walked around with them.
For those of you who think I might be exaggerating this to make you feel less Eeyorish, I’m not. Other people I know who have been to other fairs in neighboring communities in Bucks County have reported the same thing.
I saved the best part for last. When I stopped by the Democrats table, I was very polite and nice to the woman. I didn’t tell her I was voting for Romney nor did I say anything negative about any of the candidates she was representing. The Democratic candidate, Kathy Bookvar is running for US Congress against our incumbent Republican. The woman behind the table told me how nice Kathy is and then She lowered her voice and told me “if you don’t vote for ‘anyone’ else in our party vote for Kathy, she is nice” Anyone is a code word for Obama. I then said “oh yea I know what you mean” and she gave me an understanding look. I walked away from the table represented by the Democratic party of Northampton Township convinced she was not voting for Obama either. Also, they had no signs posted anywhere on the lawns. I asked her why the Republicans had signs all over and she did not and she also said she didn’t have any to post.
Mark my words, Bucks County will NOT be voting for Obama/Biden again.
A Reader in PA
HB NOTE: A reader left the above in comments on another thread but I love Ground Reports so much that I had to give it its own thread.
I think Pennsylvania should be put up there with New York and California at this point as a state that Democrats will always win unless it’s a seismic landslide against them. With Philly being part of that Megalopolis running from Boston to DC, the states that corridor touches are solid-Democrat. I don’t think 2012 will be any different for Pennsylvania…because there are too many votes in the east that cancel out Western PA (which is Republican). If Pennsylvania looks likely to go to Romney expect to see all-out panic from Democrats and heavy campaigning there by Obama to hold the line. It would be Doomsday for Democrats if Pennsylvania ever really comes into play.
My favorite thing in the world is getting Ground Reports. I just love them.
They are such fascinating little personal snapshots.
If you have time to send in a few paragraphs on what you are hearing and seeing on the ground where you live, please feel free to email us at HillBuzz@gmail.com. You an always use the daily open threads for Ground Reports too but I don’t always see every comment posted in those. I’ll see the emails though.
A Ground Report is your way to get the news reported from your area that the media will not allow on the air otherwise.
This is another of those anecdotes about living in Illinois that I tell because it contains information about how the government here works that I never knew before, but wish I had known before this particular thing happened to me. I hope this proves useful to you or to someone in the future who is in a similar situation and is Googling for information on what to do and can benefit from my having to go through this in the dark here in August of 2012.
Yesterday, my boyfriend Justin and I were headed out to the Chicago suburbs to meet up with my friend Megan Fox to work on our grassroots campaign (which is sweeping the nation, FYI) to install historic markers everywhere that Barack Obama kissed someone before he became President. I haven’t seen Megan in a while, since before I got sick this spring, and I was also very excited to have lunch at Chick-Fil-A because I’ve not only never tried their food but I always love doing whatever it is the Gaystapo goon squads in the gay community tell me and Justin not to do. It was going to be a fun day, but unfortunately none of this happened because less than five minutes after getting onto I-94 we were boxed into the middle of the five-lane highway and couldn’t avoid some sharp metal debris that the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) allowed to remain on the road. There was no way for us to prevent the car from hitting it, but it was definitely something that IDOT should have removed as a safety hazard.
It shredded two of Justin’s tires in seconds, and for a moment the car was shaking and bouncing like it was being lifted by an alien tractor beam, but through great skill Justin was able to maneuver the car over to the side of the road for us to inspect the damage and change at least one of the tires. Neither Justin nor I had ever done this before, but with the help of YouTube videos on how to do it we were able to get it done using Justin’s iPhone. A passerby must have seen what happened and notified IDOT because just as we finished changing the tire and were about to drive to a Firestone to get all of the damage repaired, a hulking lime-green IDOT roadside assistance vehicle pulled up behind us with its lights flashing.
This being Illinois, where there’s always seemingly some scam to ticket you or otherwise try to extort money from you for everything imaginable, Justin and I were afraid that IDOT had ticketing powers and that this vehicle was there to punish us in some way for getting a flat tire. I got out of the car prepared for battle with the state government. But the IDOT driver was a very nice man who asked if we were okay and then inquired what happened. I told him that there’s sharp metal debris on the road that our car was forced to hit because there was no way to get around it in traffic. He took my description of the debris and said he’d drive back and remove it from the roadway — since, apparently, the big IDOT vehicles have some sort of sweeping capacity and can drag highway debris off the road. I asked him he if was going to try to give us a ticket or something for this, which was not our fault, and he laughed and said, “Why does everyone think that? We’re actually here to help!”.
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This is just a personal anecdote about photo IDs in Illinois — how easy they are to get and how difficult it is to do a great many things without a current, valid photo ID.
I invite you to chime in below in comments with any similar experiences you’ve had in your state, since the media and the Left in this country (but I repeat myself) absurdly claim that getting a photo ID is an “undue burden” and that people should not have to identify themselves with a photo ID in order to vote.
This spring I had several surgeries and other health issues that required a lot of bed rest and recuperation, during which time my US passport expired; I had been using my passport as my photo ID the last few years because I never renewed my Illinois driver’s license when it expired some time ago. Frankly, I just never found the time to go to the DMV and deal with the (usually) terrible people there and as long as I had the passport there was no need for an Illinois ID since I have not been behind the wheel of a car in a long, long time (the driving is my boyfriend Justin’s job and I get to play navigator with the Google maps).
When I was well enough to get back into life’s saddle I found that I couldn’t do a lot of things because I had no valid, current photo ID with the passport expired.
* I could not enter any bar in the city of Chicago, because they would not accept an expired passport or an old Illinois driver’s license from years ago as a valid ID
* I could not use credit cards at many stores that require a valid photo ID for purchases
* I could not enter any government building (which is especially important since I needed to go into government buildings to get documents for a new ID, but I could not get into the buildings without already having a valid photo ID)
* I could not renew my library card
I could probably fill a list of 100 or more things I was unable to do once my passport expired because I did not have a current, valid photo ID.
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Employers Committing Perjury During Meritless Appeals of Unemployment Benefits — a trend you probably don’t know about
Late last year, my boyfriend Justin asked if I’d help one of his friends here in Boystown with a problem he was having with his job; the friend, whom I’ll call “Jazz” for our purposes (which is what happens when you let people pick their own narrative aliases), worked in one of the bars here in Chicago and was being sexually harassed by his male boss — who’d grope him, show him dirty pictures of things he wanted him to do, and would repeatedly tell him (in front of customers) that he wanted to see him dressed in this or that piece of fetish gear. Jazz complained and the owner of the bar fired him shortly after Jazz filed a formal EEOC charge on the matter regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. That matter’s still playing out with the EEOC, but in the meantime the owner of the bar blacklisted Jazz in Boystown to other bar owners (telling them not to hire him because he was “trouble” and complained to the EEOC) and has been filing meritless challenges to Jazz’s unemployment benefits as further punishment for the EEOC complaint.
Where I came into this was in relation to the unemployment benefits because Jazz couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer to represent him in those proceedings and wanted someone to help him navigate the process because he needed to fight the employer’s attempt to strip him of his benefits. I have his permission to share this story because it was eye-opening to me in the sense that I had no idea the lengths to which employers go to harass, persecute, and retaliate against employees and the complete lack of interest the state of Illinois has in doing anything about that.
I hope whoever reads this either benefits from knowing the kind of things that happen in the Unemployment Benefits Appeals Process or that you might be able to chime in below in comments with additional information that could be helpful to someone else out there who finds him or herself in Jazz’s situation one day (Heaven forbid). One of the most frustrating and terrible things about the Internet is when you’re sitting in front of the computer screen and you need to know something incredibly specific related to some function of the state or federal government and the only sources of information you can find are those on “forums” where snippy and persnickety forum moderators limit answers to questions to as few words as possible (like it’s Twitter and you can only use 140 characters). Try looking up a fix for a computer problem you’re having on a Computer Issues forum and know an epic definition of frustration as you try to get the help and information you need from forum posters who take a weird glee in being as mysterious and maddening as possible.
This article is for anyone dealing with perjury during a Benefits hearing and for everyone else who will be shockingly surprised at what employers do to retaliate against people who complain about sexual harassment.
Rush reports that internal Goonion polls aren’t looking good for Ohio Issue 2, the collective bargaining reform initiative that would help Ohio communities rescue themselves from massive unfunded pension and health care liabilities for government employee unions. It’s similar to the initiative passed in Wisconsin.
Rush also explains the implications of Ohio Issue 3, the Ohio Healthcare Freedom Amendment, profiled by National Review Online this week for its potential national implications for Obamacare. What’s remarkable about this constitutional amendment proposal is that Ohio Tea Party, Liberty and 9/12 groups spearheaded the petition drive to get this on the ballot. It required nearly half a million signatures, 100% of which were gathered by unpaid volunteers in every one of Ohio’s 88 counties, working for over a year. (In contrast, the Union forces behind Issue 2 funded their petition drive with union dues.)
I live in a predominantly Democrat, union-employee neighborhood, so the only signs you see are against Issue 2.
The unions are in hysterics about it. They’re running radio and TV ads warning voters that they’re actually going to die if they don’t allow the public employee unions to bankrupt the State of Ohio. In one ad, a panicked man calls 911 to report that someone just broke into their house. The dispatcher tells him and his wife to lock the bedroom door and wait, because the department is short-staffed and the only deputy is not available. The first time I heard this ad, I laughed at the cowering husband, and thought, “damn, lady, you sure married a wuss. Where’s his gun? For that matter, where’s YOUR gun?”
I don’t dare put up yard signs in support of Issues 2 and 3, but I will certainly look forward to voting for them this week during early voting.