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A new Poet Laureate Nominated

A few months ago, I was honored when Riverdaughter named me poet laureate at the Confluence. To that honor I did not cling jealously, perhaps because I never expected to relinquish it– well, until tonight.

It seems we have a new Poet at the Confluence– our very own Swanspirit. I don’t know if she will be the new poet laureate, but if it were based on pure poetic intuition, she should be. Having seen her work, this writer is beginning to feel a bit analogous to Elton John in Pinball Wizard:

“I thought I was the bally table king
But I just handed my pinball crown to him… to him… to hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiim.”

(Pinball sound effects).

Swan wanted me to add that we collaborated on the structure for this– but it is her work.

We speak the truth, but not “directly”
We spill our guts, but circumspectly.
Our tales to velvet underground
We tell, and hope the muffled sound
They hear. What is the danger, what are the fears
causing “outback in the shanty tears”?

Some things can’t be spoken aloud
Might alert the unawakened crowd?
Something happening here,
Cant say just yet, have but a moment’s care
In places intimate we softly share
Wearing hobos’ faces.

I hate it when illusions turn to dust
And buckets weep to see the shining armour rust.
I wanted it so badly to be what I had hoped
Sometimes these rapids in the flow
Are sharp ends on which our dreams are torn
Our ancient mothers know.

Of all the death throes
Most cherished are the dreams we chose
More dearly held, hardest to let go
Like a lover or friend
whom we no longer know.

I do not drink and do not smoke
But hand me a glass and give me a toke
Too hard’s this loneliness to bear
Without my friends my tears to share
The sun’s gone out on another day
I need my friends to help me find my way.

I would to scream ’till voice be hollow
Dance and stomp and weep and wallow
So tho I neither drink nor smoke
Hand me a glass and give me a toke
And truth do tell, tell in safe places
Tell it wearing hobos’ faces.

I’ve had this song on my mind all day.

Don’t ask me why. From Music Man, for Angie and Myiq2xu and any other young lovers reading this.

Here’s another version.


For Angie

You’re The One That I Want

For Angie

The Chipmunks Christmas

I think this was the first album I ever owned.

The Chicago Way – 1915 to 1955

William "Big Bill" Thompson

William "Big Bill" Thompson

As I noted earlier, Obamanation is attempting to rewrite history in an astonishing attempt to convince people that Illinois isn’t really corrupt.  So I thought I’s give a little history lesson on Chicago politics, starting with the Prohibition era.

William Hale Thompson (May 14, 1869 – March 19, 1944) was mayor of Chicago from 1915 to 1923 and again from 1927 to 1931.

Known as “Big Bill”, Thompson was the last Republican to serve as Mayor of Chicago. Early in his mayoral career, Thompson began to amass a war chest to support an eventual run for the Presidency by charging city drivers and inspectors $3 per month. In 1927, Al Capone’s support allowed Thompson to return to the mayor’s office.

Pledging to clean up Chicago and remove the crooks, Thompson instead turned his attention to the reformers, whom he considered the real criminals. During this final term in office, the “Pineapple Primary” occurred (April 10, 1928), so-called because of the bombs used to intimidate politicians. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre also took place while Thompson was mayor.

Amid growing discontent with Thompson’s leadership – particularly in the area of cleaning up Chicago’s reputation as the capital of organized crime – he was defeated in 1931 by Democrat Anton Cermak.

Thompson had had a longstanding rivalry with the McCormick family, including Robert Rutherford McCormick who published the Chicago Tribune.  After Thompson’s defeat, the Chicago Tribune wrote that:

For Chicago Thompson has meant filth, corruption, obscenity, idiocy and bankruptcy…. He has given the city an international reputation for moronic buffoonery, barbaric crime, triumphant hoodlumism, unchecked graft, and a dejected citizenship. He nearly ruined the property and completely destroyed the pride of the city. He made Chicago a byword for the collapse of American civilization. In his attempt to continue this he excelled himself as a liar and defamer of character.

Upon Thompson’s death, two safe deposit boxes in his name were discovered to contain nearly $1.5 million in cash.

William Emmett Dever (March 13, 1862–September 3, 1929) served as the Democratic mayor of Chicago from 1923 to 1927.

In 1923, Democratic party boss George Brennan selected Dever as having the best chance of defeating incumbent mayor William “Big Bill” Thompson. Dever ran on a reform platform and Thompson withdrew from the race in favor of Arthur C. Leuder, who was easily defeated by Dever.

Dever fought against the corrupting influence of bootleggers and gangsters. Despite considering himself a “wet”, he enforced prohibition since it was the law of the land. The media labeled his war on bootleggers as the “Great Beer War” and it resulted in a decline of crime.

By 1925, Chicago was in the middle of a gang war and many public officials were murdered. Dever tried to stem the violence and noted that although prohibition was a “tremendous mistake,” he had no choice but to enforce it.   Dever ran for re-election in 1927 against “Big Bill” Thompson, who defeated him by 83,000 votes.

Anton (Tony) Joseph Cermak, (May 9, 1873 – March 6, 1933) was the mayor of Chicago from 1931 until his assassination in 1933.

While shaking hands with President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt at Bayfront Park in Miami, Florida, on February 15, 1933, Cermak was shot and mortally wounded when Giuseppe Zangara, who attempted to assassinate Roosevelt, hit Cermak instead.

Later, rumors circulated that Cermak, not Roosevelt, had been the intended target, as his promise to clean up Chicago’s rampant lawlessness posed a threat to Al Capone and the Chicago organized crime syndicate.  According to Roosevelt biographer Jean Edward Smith, there is no proof for this theory.

Edward Joseph Kelly (May 1, 1876 – October 20, 1950) mayor of Chicago from 1933 to 1947.

Following the assassination of Mayor Anton Cermak Kelly was hand picked by his friend, Patrick Nash, Chairman of the Cook County Democratic Party, for the mayoralty election of 1933. Together, Kelly and Nash built one of the most powerful, and most corrupt, big city political organizations, called the “Kelly-Nash Machine.”

Martin H. Kennelly (August 11, 1887 – November 29, 1961) served as the Democratic mayor of Chicago from 1947 to 1955.

When the city administration of Edward J. Kelly was threatened with defeat by corruption, scandal and Kelly’s liberal integrationist policies the Cook County Democratic Party Machine responded by dumping Kelly and slating the “reformist” Kennelly in his place.  Kennelly was elected Mayor of Chicago in 1947 and re-elected in 1951.

Kennelly proved to be too independent and reform oriented for his regular Democratic Party sponsors and was dumped by the party bosses at the 1955 endorsement slating in favor of Richard J. Daley. Daley soundly defeated Kennelly in the 1955 Democratic Primary and went on to election in 1955.

Tomorrow:  Richard J. Daley

(all references from Wikipedia)


I hear you’re to be our Commander In Chief,
Some heard it with joy but I heard it with grief,
Are the legislators you hold in tow
A congress or Reichstag? I no longer know.

Not for myself do I sound an alarm,
I won’t resist you; I’ll do you no harm,
My forgiveness I withheld not from you,
For what you’ve done and for what’s to ensue.

Conscience demands that for you I should pray,
A command I complied with on this very day,
Advanced was the night ‘ere I finally lay down,
Sleep were an unattainable noun.

I saw a woman in effigy hang,
Your minions stood by, celebrated and sang,
I thought they’d drink a toast to your health,
In glasses they’d bought with redistributed wealth.

I saw a woman’s head in a noose,
And knew iniquity was let loose,
The woman whose head was in effigy rent,
She should have been our Vice President.

I saw your gendarmes patrolling the street,
And saw my country her conqueror greet,
Saw the young men now marched off to war,
And saw women weep for the children they bore.

I saw my country when she was seized,
By soldiers who with themselves appeared pleased,
Like a damsel, she was dragged to a hill,
By men about to do their own will.

I saw the damsel on wooden blocks nailed,
Crosswise arranged, and I saw her impaled,
I saw your gendarmes guarding the hill,
And crowds the vicinity starting to fill.

I saw the damsel struggle for breath,
Unable to move, now resigned to her death,
I heard her writhing, and heard a last gasp,
I knew that life had slipped from her grasp.

I heard babies cry and I heard women scream,
As if now concluding a horrible dream,
The shedding of blood having seen, and the tears
I wondered if I had lived too many years.

Then the Poet, from his little place on the hill,
As if overcoming weakness of will,
Stayed till the morning, then home he returned,
A damsel’s grim fate at last having learned.

His room having entered, he fell to the ground,
For all he had seen his exhaustion was sound,
With heaven he wrestled, entreated and pled,
A damsel to see lifted up from the dead.

Sunday: The Chicago Tammany Hall

That's us under the bus, er, Tiger

That's us under the bus, er, Tiger

Following up on what myiq2xu wrote below, Conason and the media are frantically trying to spin the newest scandal into the molehill that Whitewater was, er, before they spun that up into a mountain.  So, I guess we can just forget all the nasty things they said about the Clintons back then?  I just know someone at the Washington Post is going to step up to the mic any minute now and offer a heartfelt apology to Bill and Hillary for making their lives miserable for 8 years.  And while they’re at it, Frank Rich, MoDo and the rest of the NYTimes cwack political reporting team can say they’re sorry for peeping into Hillary’s underwear drawer at the beginning of the last election cycle to speculate on how many times a month she and Bill had conjugal visits.  I mean, now that we’ve acknowledged that Whitewater was a whole lot of nuthin’…

Anyone who knows me, understands that my knowledge of American history is spotty at best and just damn pathetic at worst.  Hey, when you change schools 14 times before you graduate, linearity is the first thing to get chucked.  But I do recall a period of time in our nation’s history, I can’t recall just *when* but I think it was the period before and after the Civil War, when anti-democratic political corruption and patronage was rampant especially in New York City.  Jeez, I’ll betcha if the Times goes through its archive, it will find all kinds of articles and columns about it.

Harper’s Weekly was all over it.  It was the Tammany Hall era and the biggest Mr. Moneybucks of all was a guy named William Marcy Tweed, aka “Boss”.  Maybe I shouldn’t complain.  The Irish immigrant population was the prime beneficiary of Tweed’s machine and my ancestors probably would have done well- if they hadn’t been working the refs in Chicago at the time.  But I digress.

Here’s how Tweed’s Tammany Hall worked:

In April 1870, Tweed secured the passage of a city charter putting the control of the city into the hands of mayor, the comptroller, and the commissioners of parks and public works. He then allowed contractors and others to submit invoices for inflated amounts or for work that was not done. The total amount of money stolen was never known, but has been estimated from $75 million to $200 million according to The American Pageant.[citation needed] Over a period of two years and eight months, while he had over 1,000 workers at his command, New York City’s debts increased from $36 million in 1868 to about $136 million by 1870, with few costs or expenditures to show for the debt.

Tweed was accused of defrauding the city by having contractors present excessive bills for work performed—typically ranging from 30 to 90 percent more than the project actually cost. The extra charges were said to have been divided among Tweed, his subordinates and the contractors. The most excessive overcharging came in the form of the Tweed Courthouse, which cost the city $13 million to construct (the actual cost for the courthouse was about $3 million), leaving about $10 million for the pockets of Tweed and others.[4]

Tweed’s downfall came when he refused to authorize the Orange Parade, an annual Protestant celebration. City Sheriff James O’Brien, whose support for Tweed had fluctuated during Tammany’s “reign”, gave The New York Times evidence of embezzlement in light of the Protestant-Catholic riot that ensued on parade day. The newspaper was reportedly offered $5 million to not publish the evidence. In a subsequent interview, Tweed’s only reply was, “Well, what are you going to do about it?”[citation needed] Accounts in The New York Times and political cartoons drawn by Thomas Nast and published in Harper’s Weekly resulted in the election of numerous opposition candidates in 1871. Regarding Nast’s cartoons, Tweed reportedly said, “Stop them damned pictures. I don’t care so much what the papers say about me. My constituents don’t know how to read, but they can’t help seeing them damned pictures!”[5]

I am struck by the similarity of how Tweed’s machine worked to that of Tony Rezko and pals, what with him getting all of those dilapidated housing projects in Chicago that never got improved.   And who was his lawyer back then?  Anybody?  Don’t be shy.

Folks, what we got here ain’t no lousy real estate deal.  What we are dealing with is a vast political patronage machine with promises made and delivered for money and electoral outcomes.  There’s a little group of Stalwarts who select who the next big thing will be and they all pull in their chits to make it happen.  It may be centered in Chicago but there are tentacles in NJ for sure.  For all I know, the political machine in NY faced off against the one in Chicago and lost when NJ threw its weight behind the midwesterners.  And why would NJ do that?  Well, the Governor of NJ used to be the CEO of Goldman Sachs.  A lot of the financial industry may work on Wall Street but have sunk their roots in the swampy Meadowlands.  I dunno.  I merely speculate.  I can’t *imagine* why my Governor would lobby so hard to move up our (now meaningless) primary to SuperDuper Tuesday and endorse Hillary Clinton as soon as it was possible and then turn around and stab her in the back by giving every last one of our delegates to Barack Obama at the convention 9 months later.  Can you tell this really bugs the #$@% out of me?  Maybe it’s because she won this state by 10 points and she didn’t get a single delegate.  Not one.  Ok, I have to let it go.  {{breathing deeply}}

Anyway, Conason and his ilk are covering themselves in shame.  They are trying so desperately to save Obama’s ass from another presidential term of scandal after scandal.  If that was their hope, they should have gone with Hillary who had no skeletons.  But they were dazzled by the mahogany undertones of Obama’s skin while ignoring the Tweedy texture of his character. And that machine was in the pocket of some very, VERY wealthy people who had a significant interest in the outcome of the election.

What makes this scandal so much more significant than the teensy blip on the radar that Whitewater was, is that no voters were hurt over Whitewater, a faux scandal where the Clintons were innocent.  But this newest scandal perfectly illustrates the way that the electorate was sidestepped during the 2008 election season and voters may pay for this corruption with their livelihoods and retirement nest eggs.  The primaries were completely usurped by the spreading corruption from Chicago’s machine.  Hey, if they don’t want the association and there’s no THERE there, why did the DNC relocate to Chicago?  They might as well have put up a sign in neon declaring themselves bought and paid for.  THAT’S why this scandal may have legs and real, significant consequences for the players involved, including Obama.  Voters got screwed, royally, and there are bandits on Wall Street who made off with trillions of dollars in taxpayer money.  We know that Wall Street was firmly behind Obama and we know, because we witnessed it, how the nomination was stolen from Hillary Clinton.  And now we know that the Chairman of Obama’s National Campaign was all too willing to cough up more than a million dollars in political donations to Blogojevich in order to snag Obama’s senate seat.  What is really amazing is how this sheer brazen behavior could be tut-tutted by Conason and his pals so they can save face for supporting one of the biggest frauds in history.

If the rest of the country suddenly remembers its 19th century history class, the next four years ain’t gonna be pretty.

On another front: The biggest sexist in the Senate, Ted Kennedy, is still trying to shove Caroline Kennedy down the throats of New Yorkers, and the rest of us, by extension.  And now it seems that Caroline is interested in pursuing the job.  Isn’t that nice?  She’s sort of like Veruka Salt who has just discovered a shiny new thing that she just has to have.  Voile!  Carolyn Murphy, Kirsten Gillibrand and a handful of other more deserving female politicians in New York will just have to take an old, cold tater and wait.  Caroline won’t have to run at all and she can be counted on to passively carry out her Uncle’s wishes.  Wouldn’t it just be peachy if she helped push through healthcare reform and took the kudos away from Hillary Clinton who should have been leading that effort in the Senate?  Not to worry.  Caroline will help bring in much needed money to NY’s other financially strapped pols, like she wouldn’t do that anyway just as a concerned citizen who loved her state and country.

Come to think of it, what makes Caroline’s much ballyhooed ability to raise funds for elections any different from JJJr’s promise of millions of bucks for Blogojevich’s run?  Why, they seem exactly the same to me, except that JJJr. doesn’t have a giant Kennedy lion as his ally, breathing down the neck of the governor.  He only had some six degrees of separation from the President Elect of the United States.


Governor Paterson, don’t make me get my friends together and come up there to Albany.   Say a firm NO to Caroline Kennedy.  Appoint some other well deserving woman.

One more thought:  I have the perfect replacement for Obama’s senate seat who would kill three birds with one stone- Alice Palmer.  Bwahahahahhaahaaaah!

It’s Official – Blagogate = Whitewater


Things were quiet in Obamanation as they polled focus groups to determine the most effective strategy for dealing with this latest Obamadrama.  Well it looks like the spin doctors have reached a decision and are issuing talking points to the troops.  Expect to see this scandal compared to Whitewater in all the media and by all Obamabloggers.  From Joe Conason at Salon:

Questions are raised. Connections are drawn. Conspiracies are theorized. Guilt is imputed, implied, asserted and very widely associated. And more of the same feckless fingerpointing is exactly what Barack Obama should expect from the Republicans, the right-wing propaganda machine and their enablers in the mainstream media — even after Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has met whatever fate he deserves.

From the kooky obsession with his place of birth on WorldNetDaily to insinuations about his Chicago pedigree by the Associated Press, all of the attacks launched lately on Barack Obama give off the same familiar smell. Even a quick sniff is enough to bring back memories from a decade ago, when no perfidious accusation against Bill or Hillary Clinton was too crazy to deserve attention.

The madness that was eventually classified under the quasi-clinical rubric of “Whitewater” began, in no small degree, with the dubious idea that Arkansas, the Clintons’ home state, was a peculiarly corrupt place — and that any politician from Arkansas by definition was suspect (but only if he or she happened to be a Democrat).

I really like the way Joe connects a criminal investigation that has already resulted in the conviction of a former close associate of Barack Obama and the arrest of the governor of Illinois to a bunch of frivolous lawsuits alleging Obama isn’t a natural-born citizen.  Joe already knows that Obama is innocent so any investigation would be a waste of time.  But he’s not alone, Digby calls it a “trumped-up scandal” and here is Jamison Foser:

By portraying Arkansas as thoroughly, and uniquely, corrupt, the media (and Clinton’s political opponents) tied him to a long line of misbehavior that had nothing to do with him — and created the impression that Clinton must be corrupt merely for being from such an ethical cesspool.

Of course, Arkansas was neither thoroughly nor uniquely corrupt.


The point isn’t that everyplace is corrupt, or that nowhere is. It’s that no location has a monopoly on crooked politicians (nor has there yet been a location over which crooked politicians held a monopoly) — and that any claim of a city or state’s unique history of public officials abusing their office should be taken with a whole shaker of salt. (For what it’s worth, USA Today determined this week that “[o]n a per-capita basis … Illinois ranks 18th for the number of public corruption convictions the federal government has won from 1998 through 2007,” behind both Dakotas, Alaska, Alabama, Florida and several other states.)

And yet, here we are again, with an incoming Democratic president who hails from a city we are all supposed to believe is the most corrupt place this side of Dick Cheney’s undisclosed location. Chicago, we are told, is a den of villainy so irredeemable it defies credulity to suggest anyone could emerge from so much as a long layover at O’Hare without a closet full of skeletons.

Illinois is only 18th per capita in political corruption?  How many states have a governor sitting in prison and another on the way?  If Blago is convicted he will be the fourth Illinois governor in 35 years to get sent from the statehouse to the big house.  There is a very good reason that Chicago is synonymous with corrupt “machine” politics.

Here’s a big difference between the current scandal and Whitewater – the latter story was over a decade old by the time Bill Clinton ran for President, whereas Blagogate isn’t even a week old yet.  Why don’t we find out the facts and let the chips fall where they may? 

If the news media and blogosphere don’t want to search for the truth they should get some pom-poms.

K.C. & The Sunshine Band

Disco is why those of us old enough to remember the Seventies don’t want to.