Prisoners Of Conscience Committee

Prisoners Of Conscience Committee
The Prisoners of Conscience Committee Founded by Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. during the nine years he spent in prison in the 1990's.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Oh, Rahmfather, where have you gone?

Oh, Rahmfather, where have you gone?For the G-8 and NATO summits in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants sweeping contract powers, with little if any legislative oversight.

December 18, 2011|John Kass
As Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel begins to ruthlessly amass new powers under the pretext that he needs more control to host the NATO and G-8 summits in May, I long for a simpler time.
A simpler time when I called him by an affectionate endearment.
"The Rahmfather."
Ah, yes, Rahmfather. It seems so quaint now. And by next spring, with Rahm's imperial powers growing, things might be so different, so loud, that we may wish for the quiet times of yore.
Because by May, with throngs of reporters in town covering throngs of protesters, we'll have made-for-TV shrieking, and Porta-Potties toppled, and the Chicago police sent forth to preserve order.
The mayor will have sweeping contract powers to take care of this one and that one because he feels like it, with little if any legislative oversight. And that befits a political system where "democracy" is largely symbolic, as it was in Albania for most of the last century.
So we'll have heads of state gathering in Chicago to nibble hors d'oeuvres with Rahm's business friends, and they'll make contacts and deals and more business. Taxpayers will pick up much of the cost. The suits will praise President Barack Obama's Chicago. And if history is our guide, then young protesters will be dragged away, their heads bouncing along the curbs.
Someone might remember that nobody wanted the summits except Rahm and his political friends. But the stubborn rememberers will be shouted down as selfish beasts who don't care about Chicago's future.
So I long for the uncomplicated days, picturing Rahm running the city, paternally, behind a large mahogany desk, in a mahogany-paneled room, perhaps with red plush seats and a gleaming table smelling faintly of lemon polish.
And two crystal bowls on the table, one of walnuts waiting to be cracked, the other of fresh fruit. And a line of guys eager to kiss Rahm's ring.
"Please, Rahmfather, may I please keep my bodyguards and just one Lincoln Town Car, maybe two?"
Or, "Thank you, Rahmfather, for erasing the 36th Ward, we didn't need those people anyway."
That was the courtly Rahm. The benevolent padrone. The cool Rahm. The guy who seemed to understand Chicago, or at least the 5th Congressional District, where the patronage armies came to elect him to Congress back in the day.
But there seems to be a new, imperial Rahm on the horizon:
Emperor Rahmulus.
Rahmulus wants more power over police, so that his police chief may immediately deputize members of other law enforcement agencies should Rahmulus decree. This means he might be able to deputize the Melrose Park cops — perhaps even the Melrose Park Fire Department — if he feels the need.
And he wants more control over contracts, transforming the already-neutered Chicago City Council from eunuchs to ghosts.
"I'm doing what is appropriate for a unique event with a unique attention to the city," Emanuel told reporters last week. "We'll do it to make sure we have an orderly process. This is not a big deal. This is a one-time event. … This is temporary and this is just for this conference."
Oh, sure. It's just temporary. The last guy who said new powers were only temporary was Emperor Palpatine from the "Star Wars" saga.
You may remember Palpatine as the leather-faced geezer with eyes of pure evil and that cool Grim Reaper robe, played with much icy cheeze by the actor Ian McDiarmid. But before the evil-eye phase, Palpatine was a smooth-cheeked head of state who asked for temporary powers to do what must be done.
Secretly, he encouraged the rebels, then used his new powers to forcefully squash the rebellion. When he was finished, he was the undisputed master of all he surveyed, given to insults like:
"Young fool. Only now, at the end, do you understand. Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the Dark Side! You have paid the price for your lack of vision!"
In recent days, Emanuel has not opted to wear the dark robe. But what worries me is that if he keeps ordering up more powers for himself, he'll soon be wearing some kind of "Prisoner of Zenda" costume with much braid and a cape.
At a news conference the other day, Rahmulus told reporters that he was forced to "move with speed" in grabbing the powers because time is running out. He stood before them, good posture, voice level, gesturing, hands up, palms facing the floor, first left, then right, as if he were setting limits to his ambition.
"We have actually done a proper thing," Emanuel said. "We protect people's First Amendment rights, and also enforce the law. Which are both our responsibilities and both will be done accordingly. And so what we've done, for the G-8 and NATO, which is a one-time event, is to give the ability of the city, to host it."
There were too many imperial "we's" in that for me. And so I longed for the pre-Imperial Rahm, the guy I once knew, my Rahmfather, who once explained the real reason Chicago has to suffer through all the summitry.
"It's the president's hometown," Emanuel said, "and he's going to show the world his hometown."
Whether we like it or not.

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