LAWBREAKERS, LAWMAKERS: In some parts of Chicago, violent street gangs and pols quietly trade money and favors for mutual gain. The thugs flourish, the elected officials thrive—and you lose.
Baskin isn’t a slick campaign strategist. He’s a former gang leader and, for several decades, a community activist who now operates a neighborhood center that aims to keep kids off the streets. Baskin has deep contacts inside the South Side’s complex network of politicians, community organizations, and street gangs. as he recalls, the inquiring candidates wanted to know: “Who do I need to be talking to so I can get the gangs on board?”
Baskin—who was himself a candidate in the 16th Ward aldermanic race, which he would lose—was happy to oblige. In all, he says, he helped broker meetings between roughly 30 politicians (ten sitting aldermen and 20 candidates for City Council) and at least six gang representatives. That claim is backed up by two other community activists, Harold Davis Jr. and Kublai K. M. Toure, who worked with Baskin to arrange the meetings, and a third participant, also a community activist, who requested anonymity. The gang representatives were former chiefs who had walked away from day-to-day thug life, but they were still respected on the streets and wielded enough influence to mobilize active gang members.
The first meeting, according to Baskin, occurred in early November 2010, right before the statewide general election; more gatherings followed in the run-up to the February 2011 municipal elections. The venues included office buildings, restaurants, and law offices. (By all accounts, similar meetings took place across the city before last year’s elections and in elections past, including after hours at the Garfield Center, a taxpayer-financed facility on the West Side that is used by the city’s Department of Family and Support Services.)
At some of the meetings, the politicians arrived with campaign materials and occasionally with aides. The sessions were organized much like corporate-style job fairs. The gang representatives conducted hourlong interviews, one after the other, talking to as many as five candidates in a single evening. Like supplicants, the politicians came into the room alone and sat before the gang representatives, who sat behind a long table. “One candidate said, ‘I feel like I’m in the hot seat,’” recalls Baskin. “And they were.”
The former chieftains, several of them ex-convicts, represented some of the most notorious gangs on the South and West Sides, including the Vice Lords, Gangster Disciples, Black Disciples, Cobras, Black P Stones, and Black Gangsters. Before the election, the gangs agreed to set aside decades-old rivalries and bloody vendettas to operate as a unified political force, which they called Black United Voters of Chicago. “They realized that if they came together, they could get the politicians to come to them,” explains Baskin. Read the rest of this entry »
‘Mr. Trump’s plans to eradicate violent extremists…’
“The emerging details suggest that Mr. Trump’s plans to eradicate violent extremists are not only at odds with Mr. Obama’s; they trample on American values and international law.”
The Times’ editors worried that Trump’s approach to fighting radical Islamic terrorism — which they referred to with scare quotes — is “more likely to further inflame anti-American sentiment around the world than to make the United States safer.”
“The emerging details suggest that Mr. Trump’s plans to eradicate violent extremists are not only at odds with Mr. Obama’s; they trample on American values and international law,” they wrote. Read the rest of this entry »
Majerczyk faced up to five years in prison. His lawyers argued in a sentencing memo that his participation was limited to the unauthorized access of information on his personal computer, ‘for his personal use and viewing only.’
“Majerczyk sent phishing emails to his victims, tricking them into providing their usernames and passwords to a third-party website, according to a plea agreement. He in turn used the information to access their accounts, leading to material belonging to more than 300 victims.”
CHICAGO — A Chicago man was sentenced to nine months in a plea deal Tuesday for hacking the electronic accounts of 30 celebrities and stealing their personal data, including nude photos and videos.
Edward Majerczyk, 29, was accused of orchestrating a phishing scheme from November 2013 to August 2014 that netted personal information from celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and many more in Los Angeles.
Lawrence likened the privacy invasion to a “sex crime” and said she worried about its impact on her career.
Majerczyk, the son of two Chicago police officers, did not plead guilty to distributing the images. His plea was limited to
his role in obtaining them.
“At the time of the offense, Mr. Majerczyk was suffering from depression and looked to pornography websites and Internet chat rooms in an attempt to fill some of the voids and disappointment he was feeling in his life.”
After his case was transferred from California to Chicago, he pleaded guilty in September to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information.
A spokesman for the US attorney’s office in Los Angeles told the Chicago Tribune that the investigation into who leaked the sensitive information was ongoing.
Majerczyk sent phishing emails to his victims, tricking them into providing their usernames and passwords to a third-party website, according to a plea agreement. He in turn used the information to access their accounts, leading to material belonging to more than 300 victims, according to the plea agreement.
Majerczyk faced up to five years in prison. His lawyers argued in a sentencing memo that his participation was limited to the unauthorized access of information on his personal computer, “for his personal use and viewing only.” Read the rest of this entry »
Obama’s frequent appeals to history’s judgment reflect his confidence that history will be kind to him. In the short run, it will: liberals will canonize Obama. Like the faithful Catholics chanting “santo subito” after the death of Pope John Paul II, Obama’s liberal boosters will turn him into Saint Barack, savior of health care and slayer of bin Laden. You might see hints of this already in your liberal friends’ wistful Facebook posts: “I’m really going to miss this guy.” If liberals are calling the shots, Obama’s name will shortly be inscribed on statues and state buildings, and his face will someday appear on coins and currency, while the divisions he sowed and exploited in pursuit of personal glory will be papered over. Generations of schoolchildren will learn about the beloved, barrier-shattering college professor with the megawatt smile who could tell a joke and make a jump shot—not the ambitious, polarizing ideologue whose disdain for half the country was palpable. No mention will be made of his habit of insulting supposedly lazy, ignorant Americans who cling bitterly to their religion, guns, and “antipathy toward people who aren’t like them,” and who fall prey to “anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” Read the rest of this entry »
At least 17 people, including four teenagers, were killed and 41 others were wounded in shootings across Chicago between Friday evening and Monday morning, making it the city’s deadliest weekend of the year.
The weekend’s latest homicide happened shortly after 4 a.m. Monday in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side. A 28-year-old man was found with gunshot wounds to the chest and head on the kitchen floor of a second-floor apartment in the 1100 block of West Garfield, according to Chicago Police. He was pronounced dead at the scene. The Cook County medical examiner’s office did not immediately release his name.
About 3:15 a.m. Sunday, twin 17-year-old brothers were killed in a drive-by shooting in the Old Town neighborhood on the Near North Side. Edwin and Edward Bryant were standing outside in the 1300 block of North Hudson when a dark vehicle drove by and someone inside opened fire, authorities said. Edwin was shot in the chest and back, while Edward suffered gunshot wounds to the chest and head. They were both taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where Edwin was pronounced dead at 3:45 a.m., and Edward died about an hour later. They both lived in the 700 block of South Kedzie.
About 15 minutes earlier, 19-year-old Raqkown Ricks was killed and a 40-year-old man was wounded in a Near West Side shooting. The men were in a car at 2:59 a.m. in the 2100 block of West Jackson when someone walked up and fired shots in their direction, authorities said. The driver tried to speed away, but their vehicle struck a parked vehicle before coming to a rest. Ricks, of the 1200 block of South Sawyer, suffered several gunshot wounds to the back and was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:38 a.m. The older man was shot in the shoulder and also taken to Stroger, where his condition was stabilized. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] White House: Obama ‘Concerned’ But Doesn’t Have Specific Ideas on Addressing Chicago Gun ViolencePosted: August 30, 2016
Two robbery suspects were shot by an employee at a cell phone store in the Jeffrey Manor neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side.
“I think concealed carry is a great opportunity for managers, workers, employees to protect themselves in these cases. And our employee did a great job to protect themselves and the other employee.”
— Neil Tadros, store manager
The T-Mobile store in the 2000-block of East 95th St. was left riddled with bullet holes. If not for the employee carrying a weapon with a concealed carry license, the manager of the store says he might be telling a different story.
“I think concealed carry is a great opportunity for managers, workers, employees to protect themselves in these cases. And our employee did a great job to protect themselves and the other employee,” said Neil Tadros, store manager.
“One employee ran to the back to call for help while the other pulled out his own gun and fired at the two suspects. He hit one of them in the groin and the arm, and the other in the abdomen and the arm.”
He says two men entered the store and acted like they were shopping for phones for a few minutes, then pulled out guns.
One employee ran to the back to call for help while the other pulled out his own gun and fired at the two suspects. He hit one of them in the groin and the arm, and the other in the abdomen and the arm. Read the rest of this entry »
Mark Potter and Elizabeth Chuck report: A dramatic spike in unaccompanied children and families trying to slip in across the U.S.-Mexico border may be “the new normal,” officials say, with some believing the surge is linked to a federal ruling that ended long-term detentions.
“The word is, come on ahead and the border is open, the Obama administration is going to take good care of you.”
The number of apprehensions of unaccompanied minors and family units — legal guardians with children under 18 — rushing the nation’s southwestern border peaked last year, then fell off as Obama tapped the Federal Emergency Management Agency to figure out what to do about the young refugees.
“Many Border Patrol agents and officials believe there may be a link between the current surge and a federal court ruling over the summer, when U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ordered federal officials to change how long they detain the thousands of mothers and children who are caught crossing illegally into the U.S. while fleeing violence in their home countries.”
But in recent months, apprehensions have proliferated again: More than 10,000 undocumented children have been stopped in just the last two months, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The 10,588 apprehensions are a 106 percent increase over the same Oct. 1 through Nov. 30 period from last year, when 5,129 kids were picked up.
“We could very well be seeing the new normal.”
— Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Apprehensions of family units have jumped too, with 12,505 detentions in those two months, representing a 173 percent increase from last year’s 4,577 seizures in the same time frame.
“We could very well be seeing the new normal,” Gil Kerlikowske, commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told NBC News.
Sources told NBC News that many Border Patrol agents and officials believe there may be a link between the current surge and a federal court ruling over the summer, when U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee ordered federal officials to change how long they detain the thousands of mothers and children who are caught crossing illegally into the U.S. while fleeing violence in their home countries.
In a scathing ruling in which Gee said it was “deplorable” that families and young migrants are languishing in detention centers, she argued long-term detention is also in violation of an 18-year-old court settlement that restricted how long the government could house migrants while they pursue asylum. She gave federal officials until Oct. 23 to change the policy.
Under the new rules, an unaccompanied minor must be released from a federal detention center to a relative elsewhere in the U.S. after no more than five days, and their parent should be, too, so long as officials have determined they are not a flight risk. In rare exceptions, migrant children and families can be held up to 20 days, Gee ruled. Read the rest of this entry »
Officer William Porter is charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault
Jurors deliberating in the trial of Baltimore police Officer William Porter said Tuesday afternoon that they were deadlocked. The judge sent the jury back in and told them to continue deliberating.
The judge in the first trial related to the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray denied a new defense request for a mistrial Tuesday, as jurors began their second day of deliberations.
Defense attorneys for city police Officer William Porter — the first of six officers to be tried in Gray’s death from a neck injury sustained while in police custody — moved for the mistrial Tuesday morning, citing a letter about the case that Baltimore City Public Schools sent to parents a day earlier.
“Whatever the jury decides, we must all respect the process. If some choose to demonstrate to express their opinion, that is their right, and we respect that right, and we will fight to protect it. But all of us today agree that the unrest from last spring is not acceptable.”
— Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
The defense argued that the nonsequestered jurors could have received Monday’s letter, in which school district CEO Gregory Thornton addressed the possibility of civil unrest after a verdict is reached and the school system’s preparations for the verdict.
The defense also asked that the trial’s venue be changed. The judge rejected the requests.
The jury began deliberating Monday, 12 days after testimony began.
Authorities say Gray, a 25-year-old black man, broke his neck on April 12 while being transported in a police van, shackled but not wearing a seat belt. His death a week later sparked demonstrations and made him a symbol of the black community’s distrust of police.
Prosecutors say Porter, one of three black officers charged in the case, was summoned by the van’s driver to check on Gray during stops on the way to a police station. They say he should have called a medic for Gray sooner than one was eventually called, and also should have ensured that Gray was wearing a seat belt.
Porter is charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.
For convictions on some or all of the first three charges, he would face no more than 10 years in prison combined. There is no statutory maximum sentence for the fourth charge, misconduct.
Ready for unrest
With a verdict possible this week, the city of Baltimore — which witnessed protests and unrest after Gray’s death — said it activated its emergency operations center Monday “out of an abundance of caution.”
Ohio Express and the 1910 Fruitgum Co. were two of the leading late-’60s bubblegum rock groups. Under the aegis of producers Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz, both of these rather anonymous bands surfaced repeatedly on the late-’60s pop charts for Buddah Records, spearheading the bubblegum rock craze. With Joey Levine taking the vocals on their early hits, The Ohio Express roared up in 1968 with “Yummy Yummy Yummy” and “Chewy Chewy,” a pair of million-sellers. Future 10CC leader Graham Gouldman fronted the Express on their final chart bow in 1969, “Sausalito (Is the Place to Go).”
At the same time, another Kasenetz-Katz discovery, New Jersey’s 1910 Fruitgum Co., was bubbling over with the obnoxiously catchy “Simon Says,” “1, 2, 3, Red Light,” and “Indian Giver,” another gold record triumvirate. Like their labelmates, their mercurial chart run was history before 1969 was over. ~ Bill Dahl, All Music Guide
Richard A. Serrano, Richard Winton, Sarah Parvini and James Queally report: An examination of digital equipment recovered from the home of the couple who killed 14 people in San Bernardino last week has led FBI investigators to believe the shooters were planning an even larger assault, according to federal government sources.
Investigators on Thursday continued to search for digital footprints left by Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, scouring a downtown San Bernardino lake for electronic items, including a hard drive that the couple was hoping to destroy, sources told The Times.
FBI agents will probably spend days searching Seccombe Lake and canvassing the neighborhood for clues after receiving a tip that the couple may have visited the area on the day of the attack, according to David Bowdich, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.
Farook and Malik were in the final planning stages of an assault on a location or building that housed a lot more people than the Inland Regional Center, possibly a nearby school or college, according to federal sources familiar with the widening investigation.
Investigators have based that conclusion on evidence left behind on Farook and Malik’s computers and digital devices, not all of which the couple were able to destroy before they were killed in a firefight with police, the sources said.
Images of San Bernardino-area schools were found on a cellphone belonging to Farook, according to a law enforcement source. But the source cautioned that Farook may have had a legitimate reason to have the images because his work as a county health inspector involved checking on school dining facilities.
On Thursday, one of the federal government sources told The Times that Farook asked his friend and neighbor, Enrique Marquez, to buy two military-style rifles used in the attacks because he feared he “wouldn’t pass a background check” if he attempted to acquire the weapons on his own. The rifles were bought at a local gun store, the source said.
The timing of the rifle purchases is significant to FBI investigators. Another federal government source previously told The Times that Farook may have been considering a separate terror plot in 2011 or 2012.
Farook was self-radicalizing around that time, FBI Director James Comey said, and met Malik soon after, eventually escorting her to the United States. Farook was a practicing Muslim. Marquez converted to Islam around the time he purchased the weapons, sources have told The Times.
FBI agents believe Farook abandoned his plans to launch the earlier attack after a law enforcement task force arrested three men in Chino in November 2012. The men were later convicted of charges related to providing material support to terrorists and plotting to kill Americans in Afghanistan. A fourth man arrested in Afghanistan also was convicted in the scheme. Read the rest of this entry »
Apparently, the two had discussed Emanuel’s plans to go to Cuba backstage before the event, but Allen spilled the beans with this question.
“Well, first of all, thanks for telling everybody what I’m going to do with my family. You just had a private conversation with me, and now you decide to make that public. I really don’t appreciate that. I really don’t…I’m expressing to you now publicly my displeasure.”
Apparently, the two had discussed Emanuel’s plans to go to Cuba backstage before the event, but Allen spilled the beans with this question.
“Headed these holidays to Cuba, why?” Allen asked.
“Well, first of all, thanks for telling everybody what I’m going to do with my family,” he said. “You just had a private conversation with me, and now you decide to make that public. I really don’t appreciate that. I really don’t … I’m expressing to you now publicly my displeasure.”
— Andrew Kugle (@Google_Kugle20) December 2, 2015
Emanuel went on to explain that he and his wife like to take their children on various cultural experiences….(read more)
Source: Washington Free Beacon
The 21-year-old charged with posting threats to kill white students or staff members at the University of Chicago and was motivated by the police shooting of a black teenager was released from jail Tuesday and put under house arrest.
Authorities said Jabari Dean was responsible for a mass shooting threat that forced the University of Chicago to cancel classes Monday at the prestigious college to avenge the shooting death of a black teenager at the hands of a Chicago police officer last year. Read the rest of this entry »
Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
Jason Meisner, Jeremy Gorner and Steve Schmadeke report: Cook County prosecutors said in court Tuesday that a Chicago police officer charged with first-degree murder opened fire six seconds after exiting his squad car as 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was walking away from him.
Officer Jason Van Dyke fired 16 rounds at McDonald in about 14 seconds and was reloading when another officer told him to hold his fire, prosecutors said in bond court.
Judge Donald Panarese Jr. ordered Van Dyke held without bail until the judge can view on Monday a police dash-cam video of the shooting in October 2014.
“I believe it’s pertinent for a bond hearing,” Panarese said of the video. “I’m sorry, but I’m holding you no bail until Monday.”
Clad in a brown sweatshirt, a white shirt and bluejeans, Van Dyke showed no emotion as he was led from the courtroom in custody.
Prosecutors sought to have the veteran officer held without bail until his trial. But Van Dyke’s lawyer, Daniel Herbert, objected, saying the officer was not a risk to flee.
“We believe we have a valid defense in this case,” Herbert said.
Herbert said Van Dyke’s wife will be turning over his gun to the Police Department.
After the court session, Herbert told reporters, “Despite what you heard in that courtroom, this is not a murder case.”
Van Dyke, 37, turned himself in to state’s attorney’s investigators at 7:41 a.m. Tuesday in their offices at the criminal courthouse at 26th Street and California Avenue, booking records show. As he arrived, Van Dyke kept his hands in his jeans pockets, looked straight ahead and did not answer questions from reporters as he walked briskly into the Leighton Criminal Court Building with his attorney.
Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of McDonald “without legal justification and with the intent to kill or do great bodily harm,” according to the one-page criminal complaint filed against him.
Meanwhile, Van Dyke’s wife, Tiffany, set up a GoFundMe page asking for online donations for her husband’s bond. Although the page did not mention her husband by name, it described him as a 15-year veteran officer “fighting for his freedom and justice.”
“He is a highly decorated and respected officer,” Tiffany Van Dyke wrote. “He was in a shooting that has been covered extensively by the media and we ask for your patience for all the facts to come out in the trial. We want him to be home with his family as we go through this judicial process.”
The page asked for donations “very quickly” so Van Dyke can pay whatever bond is set and he can be home for the holidays.
As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, donors, mostly anonymous, had given more than $10,000 of the $80,000 sought. The page also had attracted a number of negative comments, and shortly after 11 a.m. it was taken down.
The dash-cam video shows Van Dyke jumping out of his squad car and within seconds firing 16 rounds into McDonald, lawyers for McDonald’s family have said. Read the rest of this entry »
Is this information even true? Not really. Here is an analysis of the flaws in this assertion.
…Honduras doesn’t “ban” citizens from owning guns.
The Small Arms Survey says the most popular gun in Honduras is the 9mm handgun, “which can be legally purchased and owned” — undermining the meme’s claim that Hondurans are banned from owning guns. Because this weapon is banned in nearby Mexico, the UN has said the difference in laws fosters the exchange of illegal weapons between the countries.
An analysis of gun laws in six Latin American countries by Insight Crime, a foundation that studies crime and policy in Central America, characterizes Honduras’ regulations as “light” compared to the “restrictive” laws of Brazil and Mexico and “moderate” laws of Venezuela and Chile. Uruguay also has “light” gun control laws but an incredibly smaller homicide rate than Honduras of about 5.9 percent per 100,000 people. (It also has less organized crime.)
The disparity in homicide rates and gun control laws showed “gun legislation, on its own, means little in terms of gun violence,” the Insight Crime analysis found….
…A 2012 Time story about Switzerland’s gun culture notes how citizens hold their right to own guns as a patriotic duty, and Swiss children often join sharpshooting groups to hone their skills.
But, again, Switzerland does not require “citizens to own guns.”
It’s unfortunate to see gun-rights advocates (who already have the winning statistics on their side, by a wide margin, on multiple levels) using misleading, exaggerated, or false information to make their case. The original source of this graphic is unclear, I found it on Tumblr, rarely known for reliable accuracy, but a good place to find entertaining memes of all kinds.
Fact distortion, what’s the point? It’s a common propaganda tactic that’s more often employed by the activist Left, which often doesn’t even pretend to be concerned with facts, instead creating and distributing completely false but effective, persuasive fictional narratives.
Like this one, from the president:
Officer died at scene, found without his gun, equipment
AWR Hawkins reports: According to CBS Chicago, “Lake County Sheriff’s Det. Chris Covelli said, around 7:50 a.m., the officer radioed he was pursuing three suspects, after looking into their ‘suspicious activity.’ Police lost radio contact with the officer, who was later found with a gunshot wound.”
Police indicate that the trio consists of two white males and one black male. CBS Chicago points to “unconfirmed reports” that the trio may have taken the fallen “officer’s gun and pepper spray.”
The manhunt appears to be centered “on a marshy area off Rainier Way and Rollins Road.” Read the rest of this entry »
Chicago to Apply 9% ‘Amusement Tax’ for ‘the Privilege of Witnessing, Viewing or Participating in the Chewing of Gum’Posted: July 12, 2015
[See also – Chicago to Apply 9% ‘Netflix Tax’]
Chicago to Apply 9% ‘Netflix Tax’ for ‘the Privilege to Witness, View or Participate in Amusements that are Delivered Electronically’Posted: July 11, 2015
“The amusement tax applies to charges paid for the privilege to witness, view or participate in an amusement.”
Netflix service in Chicago is about to get notably more expensive. On the hunt for new revenue, Chicago’s Department of Finance is applying two new rules that would impact companies like Netflix and Spotify. One covers “electronically delivered amusements” and another covers “nonpossessory computer leases”; together they form a unique and troubling new attempt by cities to tax any city resident that interacts with “the cloud. According to the Chicago Tribune, streaming service providers need to start collecting the tax starting September 1.
“This includes not only charges paid for the privilege to witness, view or participate in amusements in person but also charges paid for the privilege to witness, view or participate in amusements that are delivered electronically.”
The new tax is expected to net the city of Chicago an additional $12 million annually.
“The amusement tax applies to charges paid for the privilege to witness, view or participate in an amusement,” states the city’s new ruling (pdf).
“This includes not only charges paid for the privilege to witness, view or participate in amusements in person but also charges paid for the privilege to witness, view or participate in amusements that are delivered electronically.” Read the rest of this entry »
Does heckling let the real comedian stand up and shine, or does it trample a punchline and mangle a routine?
Lary Wallace writes: Probably the closest thing you can compare it to is the fighting in ice hockey. Think about it: an activity somehow both integral and non-essential that many in the audience consider more entertaining than those parts of the performance that require actual talent. But here’s the difference between fighting in hockey and heckling in stand-up comedy, and it’s an essential one: the former is all about the players, while the latter is all about the fans trying to be the players.
That’s why it drives comedians nuts when it’s asserted – as it was at length in the Chicago Tribune a couple of years ago – that heckling is often not only the best part of stand-up but often, indeed, the only memorable part of stand-up. Chris Borrelli – who, with another writer at the paper, Nina Metz, engaged in a forum-type discussion on the subject – went so far as to write: ‘I have seen countless comedians and theatre performances and live events in general, and forgotten most of them. But I remember each and every time I have witnessed a performer get into it with an obnoxious audience.’
The article got noticed in the comedy community, where it was regarded with contempt. The US stand-up Patton Oswalt wrote a post on his personal blog expressing ‘disgust’ with the two writers, characterising the piece as ‘an asinine, pro-heckling space-filler article’, before specifying: ‘hecklers don’t make a show memorable. They prevent a show from being a fucking show. Comedians do not love hecklers. They love doing the original material they wrote and connecting with an entire audience, not verbally sparring with one cretin while the rest of the audience whoops and screams, disconnecting from the comedian….’
An even more elaborate rebuttal to the article was provided by the comedian and journalist Steve Heisler, who wrote: ‘Hecklers make comedy memorable in the same way vacations are made memorable when you get mugged on them. You’re forced to make lemonade out of lemons. But make no mistake: there are fucking lemons.
‘This is a vibrant… art form,’ he continued, ‘that benefits from a deep understanding of what it takes to craft a set. What it takes to hone a joke. What it takes to devote your life to a career that is 99.99 per cent rejection, and STILL keep going….’
All of which is capable of making you feel pretty guilty if, like me, you’re a fan of stand-up who’s sometimes entertained by what happens when somebody heckles.
It’s not like this whole idea of heckling-is-good-for-comedy is some imaginary construct of journalists and other outsiders. It has very earnest proponents among stand-ups themselves. Billy Crystal – the furthest thing imaginable from a comedy outsider – made and starred in a movie, Mr. Saturday Night(1992), in which the fictional comedian Buddy Young Jr finds his voice as a comic precisely because of a heckler. He’s a young kid, up there on the big stage doing his shticky routine, and bombing terribly. A guy starts coming at him from the crowd with insults, and the insults Buddy volleys back are what bolster his material and his confidence, and put the crowd on his side. A career is born.
It’s not just in the movies, either. The comedian Franklyn Ajaye has written a terrific book called Comic Insights: The Art of Stand-Up Comedy (2002), in which the following words appear: ‘Sometimes a heckler can be good for your show, particularly if you’re at a point where you don’t have any new material and you’re a little bored with your act. Dealing with a heckler can be a chance for you to play around and see how your mind handles fresh stimuli.’
It’s worth emphasising that what Ajaye says here isn’t that heckling is good for comedians because it helps them prepare for dealing with other hecklers; what he says is that heckling is good for comedians because it helps improve their actual comedy.
The Canadian-born comedian Harland Williams, who is interviewed in the documentary Heckler (2007), says: ‘I just like the challenge of a heckler. I like it when people yell out, because basically they’re just shooting a bullet at you – it’s like a verbal bullet. You’re in the middle of something, and all of a sudden – pshoo-oooww – and you can either, like, do a Matrix [leaning away from and underneath the bullet], or you can catch it [catching the bullet with one hand] and go: “Let’s go buddy – it’s party time!”’
And we shouldn’t ignore the undeniable fact that comedians have been known to sometimes hire hecklers, planting them in the audience because of the frisson of danger they can give a show. Granted, these plants are working from scripted material, entirely on the comedian’s own terms, often written by the comedian himself. Two examples from Richard Zoglin’s biography Hope: Entertainer of the Century (2014) illustrate perfectly what I mean. Read the rest of this entry »
Answer after the jump Read the rest of this entry »
CHICAGO (CBS) — Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges he paid hush money to conceal wrongdoing before he entered politics, and lied to the FBI when questioned about the money.
Dressed in a dark blue suit, the 73-year-old Hastert appeared frail, hunching over as he walked through a crowd of photographers and reporters waiting outside the Dirksen Federal Courthouse on Tuesday.
Hastert pleaded guilty when he appeared before U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin.
Hastert, who was second in line to succeed the president while he served eight years as the Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007, has not spoken publicly since he was indicted in late May on one count each of structuring currency transactions to evade Currency Transaction Reports and making a false statement to the FBI.
The indictment accused Hastert of illegally structuring bank withdrawals to hide $1.7 million in payments he made to a longtime acquaintance, and lying to the FBI when questioned about the banking activity.
Hastert’s arraignment drew so much media attention, a judge in a neighboring courtroom complained about noise from the throng of reporters waiting to get into Durkin’s courtroom before Hastert’s hearing. Read the rest of this entry »
Charges relate to large sums of money he allegedly paid to keep someone quiet about ‘prior misconduct’
WASHINGTON — Andrew Grossman and Ben Kesling report: Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on charges related to bank withdrawals of large sums of money that he allegedly paid to keep someone quiet about “prior misconduct.”
Mr. Hastert is charged with intentionally withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in increments of less than $10,000 to avoid federal reporting requirements designed to prevent money laundering. The Republican also is charged with lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the withdrawals, telling agents he was taking the money out because he didn’t feel safe using the banking system.
“Mr. Hastert is charged with intentionally withdrawing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in increments of less than $10,000 to avoid federal reporting requirements designed to prevent money laundering.”
The indictment alleges the money was going to someone identified only as “Individual A,” who had known Mr. Hastert for most of the person’s life. In 2010, Mr. Hastert agreed to pay this person $3.5 million “to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct against Individual A,” the indictment said.
What did Hastert do? Whatever it was, it was worth $3.5 million to him.
— jimgeraghty (@jimgeraghty) May 28, 2015
The seven-page indictment notes that Mr. Hastert was a high-school teacher and coach in Yorkville, Ill., from about 1965 to 1981 before running for public office. The individual he was trying to pay off was also a resident of Yorkville and apparently met Mr. Hastert as a child, according to the indictment.
“After Mr. Hastert left office, he became a lobbyist at Dickstein Shapiro. Two years later, he began meeting with the individual listed in the indictment. At some point, they began discussing the ‘prior misconduct,’ according to the indictment, and Mr. Hastert agreed to the payments.”
Mr. Hastert, 73 years old, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Attempts to reach his personal assistant and the law firm where he worked, Dickstein Shapiro LLP, for comment weren’t successful. The firm removed his biography from its website Thursday.
Mr. Hastert was first elected to Congress in 1987 to represent an Illinois district west of Chicago. He became House speaker in January 1999 after the resignation of Newt Gingrich, who stepped down as speaker amid GOP infighting after the party’s unexpected losses at the polls in the previous election. Read the rest of this entry »
“As soon as that first burst of gunfire and screaming rang out, I’m sure Sally couldn’t get to the phone fast enough.”
INDIANAPOLIS—Once again sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong, neighborhood busybody Sally Christensen, 54, reportedly took it upon herself to report the sound of gunshots to law enforcement early Tuesday morning, sources confirmed.
“Sally only needs the smallest excuse to pry into other people’s business and then it’s off to the races. It’s like, worry about your own life and let whoever was involved in that bloody shootout worry about theirs, all right?”
“As soon as that first burst of gunfire and screaming rang out, I’m sure Sally couldn’t get to the phone fast enough,” neighbor Glenn Maurer said after learning that the homemaker and mother of three had called 911 Read the rest of this entry »
An off-duty Oak Park police officer was shot Sunday morning on Chicago’s Far South Side.
The shooting happened in the 300 block of West 103rd Place at 5:13 a.m., police said.
The 57-year-old officer was exiting his personal vehicle when he was approached by two males, one of which fired numerous shots at the officer, striking him in the arm and leg, police said. The officer was able to return fire, and made contact with one of the suspects….(read more)
(CBS) — The controversy over Indiana’s so-called religious freedom law was not the only problem the Hoosier state faced Tuesday. It also fended off an apparent attack on its official website.
It was the second time since Friday that the IN.gov website was overwhelmed by simultaneous requests for service.
Graig Lubsen of the Indiana Office of Technology said the threat was known well before the controversy over the new law surfaced.
He was quick to say that the site was not hacked. Instead, it was inundated by millions of simultaneous requests for service, which slowed access to the site for some and timed out others. Read the rest of this entry »
In spite of the media’s conspicuous silence on the matter, it is no secret that Saul Alinsky’s manual for “community organizers”—Rules for Radicals—exerted an immeasurable influence over the world’s most well recognized community organizer, President Barack Obama.
Thus, to understand why Obama does what he does, we need to be familiar with the vision that Alinsky delineated in his book.
Below are six ideas, six “rules,” that the Godfather of community organizing packs between the covers of Rules, ideas that Obama’s imbibed hook, line, and sinker.
(1). Politics is all about power relations, but to advance one’s power, one must couch one’s positions in the language of morality.
Community organizers are “political realists” who “see the world as it is: an arena of power politics moved primarily by perceived immediate self-interests, where morality is rhetorical rationale for expedient action and self-interest” (12).
(2). There is only three kinds of people in the world: rich and powerful oppressors, the poor and disenfranchised oppressed, and the middle-class whose apathy perpetuates the status quo.
“The world as it is” is a rather simple world. From this perspective, the world consists of but three kinds of people: “the Haves, the Have-Nots, and the Have-a-Little, Want Mores.” The Haves, possessing, as they do, all of “the power, money, food, security, and luxury,” resist the “change” necessary to relieve the Have-Nots of the “poverty, rotten housing, disease, ignorance, political impotence, and despair” from which they suffer (18).
— kerry (@Kerryepp) March 24, 2015
The Have-a-Little, Want Mores comprise what we call “the middle class.” While Alinsky believes that this group “is the genesis of creativity,” (19) he also claims that it supplies the world with its “Do-Nothings.” The Do-Nothings are those who “profess a commitment to social change for ideals of justice, equality, and opportunity, and then abstain from and discourage all effective action for change [.]” Alinsky remarks that in spite of their reputable appearances, the Do-Nothings are actually “invidious” (20).
This being so, they are as resistant to change as are the Haves.
(3). Change is brought about through relentless agitation and “trouble making” of a kind that radically disrupts society as it is.
Since both the middle and upper classes have none of the organizer’s passion for radical change, he must do his best to “stir up dissatisfaction and discontent [.]” He must “agitate to the point of conflict.” The organizer “dramatizes…injustices” and engages in “‘trouble making’ by stirring up” just those “angers, frustrations, and resentments” (117) that will eventuate in the “disorganization of the old and organization of the new” (116 emphasis original). He is determined to give rise to as much “confusion” and “fear” as possible (127).
(4). There can be no conversation between the organizer and his opponents. The latter must be depicted as being evil. Read the rest of this entry »
Pam Key writes: Sunday at Christ Universal Temple in Chicago during his annual Saviours’ Day speech, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan attacked former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for his controversial comments saying Obama doesn’t love America.
Farrakhan said, “How did you grow up, Giuliani? A privileged cracker? Or I should say, a privileged devil….(read more)
Barbra Streisand Tells Axelrod that the President Needs to Talk to People in Simpler Terms: ‘I Hate to Say it, but People are Stupid’Posted: February 10, 2015
President Obama is in the middle of his fight to pass the Affordable Care Act. This is the book’s most politically compelling chapter, though the word “ObamaCare” is entirely absent. Some in the White House, such as chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, worry that the stumbling, unpopular effort to pass the ACA will damage Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections. “Rahm recommended scaling back to a plan that would cover fewer people, but garner more votes,” Mr. Axelrod writes.
When President Obama asks what the odds are of passing the most ambitious bill possible, his congressional liaison, Phil Schiliro, replies, “Depends how lucky you feel, Mr. President.”
Mr. Obama smiles and says: “Can I say this? I always feel lucky. Let’s go all in. When your name is Barack Obama and you’re the president of the United States, how can you not feel lucky?”
Mr. Axelrod’s name will be yoked forever to that of Mr. Obama, though people often misconstrue his role. Mr. Axelrod was not the Obama campaign manager in 2008. That was David Plouffe. He was not President Obama’s first chief of staff. That was Rahm Emanuel.
A fair summary of Mr. Axelrod’s role would be to say that until he left the White House in February 2011, he was in charge of the Obama “message.” Normally in politics, “message” has a particular meaning—using media to promote a set of ideas and positions. Mr. Axelrod, however, believes (thus, the book’s title) that he was involved in something larger than the mere grubwork of political messaging. Describing his position in the 2008 presidential campaign, he writes: “My role was Keeper of the Message and, I believed, the idealistic flame.”
Mr. Axelrod describes how that idealistic flame ignited early in his life, at the age of five. He was taken to a John F. Kennedy campaign rally in New York City, where he says he “somehow” absorbed the message “we are masters of our future, and politics is the means by which we shape it.”
“It has been said that Mr. Axelrod was Barack Obama’s Svengali. Reading “Believer” made me think you could as easily say that Mr. Obama was David Axelrod’s Svengali.”
At nine, he took himself to the local Manhattan Democratic club to volunteer for Bobby Kennedy ’s New York Senate campaign.
Politics pulled him in because he sensed “it was about big, noble ideals. It was about history and historic change.” Years later—by now a Chicago political consultant whose clients had included Sen. Paul Simon, Mayor Harold Washington and Gov. Rod Blagojevich—he was working to make Barack Obama president.
It has been said that Mr. Axelrod was Barack Obama’s Svengali. Reading “Believer” made me think you could as easily say that Mr. Obama was David Axelrod’s Svengali. Read the rest of this entry »