Kavin Senapathy on why organized skepticism ‘can’t afford to ignore racial inequality’ (Non-fiction)

Kavin Senapathy was, until last year, one of the co-hosts for the Center for Inquiry’s “Point of Inquiry” podcast.  She recently posted about her dismissal from the podcast and CFI for Undark.

I believe the dismissal was a response to my outspoken views on CFI’s negligence toward matters of race and diversity — issues that the organization has often sidestepped in the past. If that is indeed the case, it sends a discouraging message. At a moment when racist pseudoscience is making a disturbing comeback, skeptics shouldn’t shy away from talking about race — and we can’t afford to overlook the white privilege among our own ranks.

As someone who was involved in organized skepticism for years, I think this article is spot on.  While the Chicagoland group I volunteered for was very diverse, overall, the movement was and still is, very white and male-dominated.  I used to think organizations, like CFI, would change, instead, many of them became resistant to change.  (It doesn’t help when Richard Dawkins argues that eugenics can work.)

Which is wrong, because the ideas and tools of skepticism should be for everyone, not just for a select group who consider themselves superior thinkers.  The movement should expand beyond debunking Bigfoot and UFOs.  As Senapathy writes, skeptical organizations should play a role in debunking pseudoscientific racism.  Especially when white nationalists and their beliefs are shaping many of President Trump’s policies.

Racism is among the most pressing pseudoscientific threats of our time. But it can be deceptive, masquerading as mere inquisitiveness and even helplessness. The most insidious white supremacy doesn’t carry tiki torches of festering hatred. It comes from well-meaning people who nevertheless uphold power structures with whiteness at the top. It’s woven into the very fabric of America and its institutions.

Unfortunately, CFI might have to be added to this list. 

Martian Colonial marines seize former Old Chicago site (Fiction)

By Reporter X

The Martian Colonies launched a surprise invasion of Bolingbrook and seized the former site of the Old Chicago mall.

 During a press conference with the members of the interstellar media, Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claa said: 

“Residents should stay calm. I hope I can talk some sense into leaders of the Martian Colonies so they will get the (expletive deleted) out of my village.”

Deputy Mayor Michael Lawler added: “As the universe knows, we have no effective defense against a colonial attack.  If they wanted us dead, we would be dead, because their weapons are at least 10,000 years more advanced than ours.  Hopefully we can resolve this before President Trump sends Space Force soldiers to be massacred.”

“Your crisis management skills suck,” Claar grumbled.

The Martian Colonial government released a statement denying that they had invaded Bolingbrook.  According to the report, the marines are part of a “peacekeeping mission.”

Part of the statement reads: “We are very concerned about the deteriorating political situation on Earth.  Earth’s collapsing ecosystem and humanity’s meme epidemic is stressing their governmental units to the breaking point.  Even the so-called United States, a government with nuclear weapons, is descending into lawlessness and corruption.  While we have not always agreed with the primitive policies of the Interstellar Commonwealth, we do not want to see any of its members endangered while visiting our solar system.  Our mission is to protect our alien visitors from the primitive natives of Earth.”

An employee at Cox Automotive, which owned the site prior to the invasion, claims he was present when the marines landed:

“A few minutes after I arrived at work, I was surrounded by armed aliens.  Their leader said that  they could have killed me and Roger wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.  Then he—I think it was a he—said that they were here on a peace mission, and that they were going to give me ‘special paper’ for the site.  Then several large crates appeared.  I looked inside, and saw they were full of dollar bills.  They looked real, so I agreed to give them the site.  Turns out, they paid $50.5 million.  Have you ever tried to deposit $50.5 million in cash?”

Sources connected to both Clow UFO Base and the Martian Colonies say the Colonists will build a 100 foot high “peacekeeping compound” on the site.  Troops stationed at the base will “protect” all aliens visiting Clow UFO Base, Palatine’s Rob Sherman UFO Base, and Peotone UFO Base. The colonists will hire 1500 Bolingbrook residents as “supplemental memory storage units.” 

According to one source:  “They believe humans don’t use most of their brains, but that’s not true.

Claar says the invasion is a violation of Interstellar Law and the proposed base is in violation of several village building codes.

“The rule of law still applies in Bolingbrook because I made most of the rules!” said Claar.  

Claar announced that he planned on suing the Martian Colonies in Interstellar Court.  He also promised that any attack against Clow would be resisted:

“Clow can withstand a colonial attack 60 times longer than the average UFO base on Earth can.”

“The average UFO Base can last one-second against a colonial attack,” added Lawler.  “We can last one minute.”

“Which is longer than you’ll last if you don’t shut up!” snapped Claar.

A spokesperson for the Martian Colonies said their claim to Earth predates homo sapiens and therefore they are under no obligation to follow humanity’s laws.

When reached for comment, a receptionist for Claar said he was busy and could not be disturbed.

In the background, a man who sounded like Claar, said: “You are the first candidate for village manager who doesn’t want to sell the Golf Club.”

“Yes.  I think we should give it to the Bolingbrook Park District instead. A village government has no business running—”

“Next!”

Also in the Babbler:

Russia finally hits Bolingbrook with a snow attack
Residents warned to check attics for mold monsters
Werecoyotees canvass for Republican candidates in Chicago
God to smite Bolingbrook on 2/21/20

Note:  This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own and may not reflect the views of any organizations I am involved with, nor my employer.  Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

DuPage Township tries to activate its ‘Plague Protocol’ (Fiction)

In response to the global Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak, DuPage Township activated its so-called ‘Plague Protocol.’

“We’ve seen the movies,” said Laura, a township employee who asked that we not use her real name.  “It starts off with locating patient zero.  Then before you know it, the global population is almost zero.  We’re acting now before it gets that bad.”

The protocol was created in 1971, shortly after the release of The Andromeda Strain movie.  This is the first time it has been enacted by the township.

“Back then,” said Laura, “We were worried about a virus from outer space infecting the world.  A couple years ago, we realized that wasn’t going to happen.  The protocol is still useful, and it will help us to survive this impending plague.”

Sources within DuPage Township say they have successfully enacted most of the protocol, like insisting employees cough into their elbows and cleaning desks with disinfectant. Some of the staff claim that a few of the trustees are enforcing the protocol too aggressively.

“I coughed only once,” said Tom, another township employee.  “A second later, (Trustee Ken Burgess) doused my desk with a disinfectant and then wiped my desk with bleach.  He said something about using ‘shock and awe’ against infection.  When I protested, he told me to wear a mask.”

Susan, a volunteer at Boardman Cemetery, claims she had a disturbing conversation with Trustee Dennis Raga:

“He was drawing on a paper map of the cemetery.  I asked him what he was up to.  He said he was trying to figure out how to ‘respectfully’ bury 115,000 people.  Then he added it had nothing to do with President Trump.  He was just planning for the ‘worst case.’  He wouldn’t tell me what it was a worst-case of.”

However, according to anonymous sources, the township is struggling to implement the most important part of the protocol.  The protocol requires the trustees to quarantine themselves into a sealed command center until the plague is eradicated. A sealed command center was built under the Levy Center but was turned into a storage room several years ago.  

The trustees are divided on how to pay to restore the command center.  Trustee Maripat Oliver wants to ask for a grant from the Department of Homeland Security. She also wants them to build a separate chamber for Trustee Alyssia Benford:

“There is no way I am going to be locked into a room with Alyssia!”

Benford, according to the sources, wants former supervisor Bill Mayer to pay for the restoration.  She wants the power to decide who is allowed into the command center:

“I know this is Bill’s fault and you guys helped him to ruin my chance to survive the Corona Beer Virus.  So either you guys do what I say, or I’ll tell the Edgar County Watchdogs that all of you are breaking the law.”

“What law?”  asked Burgess.

“I’ll have to ask the Will County Attorney’s office.  They just hired a staffer to handle all of my questions!”

An unnamed source says Supervisor Felix George is hopeful that he can resolve the dispute soon:

“Felix is telling them that if we act now, DuPage Township could be the only surviving unit of government in Will County left after the plague.  Wouldn’t it be ironic if all the people who want to disband our township died, and we survived?”

A receptionist for the Township said the Trustees were unavailable to comment. She said:

“Let’s put this in perspective.  The number of people worldwide infected by the Coronavirus outbreak is in the thousands.  Influenza has infected 31 million people in the US alone.”

In the background, a woman who sounded like covert social media operative Charlene Spencer,  said: “My billionaire client has taken pity on the Senior Committee.  Leave them alone.”

A woman who sounded like Benford said: “Never! It is my duty to investigate everything this township does because I am required to root out corruption.”

“I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this.  Allen?”

Moments later, a man who sounded like Allen Dershowitz, said: “Actually, you have it all wrong.  The Illinois Constitution requires all politicians to be corrupt.  I just realized that a couple days ago.”

“What?” asked Benford.

“Yes.  So instead of going after these poor senior volunteers, you should be fighting against Governor Pritzker’s blatantly unconstitutional attempt to impose ethics.”

Also in the Babbler:

Mayor Claar laughs as Russian snow attack misses Bolingbrook
Experts say global warming could help Lake Michigan’s monster
Russians infiltrate Bolingbrook Politics Facebook group

God to smite Bolingbrook on 2/14/20

Note:  This is a work of fiction. Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

Essence Of Thought: The Science is very clear (Non-fiction)

Essence Of Thought has a new video out about the harm caused by attempting to convert trans youth to cis gender.

Only last year we got clear results from the “Trevor National Survey On LGBTQ Youth Mental Health” on the matter. 42% of LGBT+ youth who are the victims of so called reperative therapy attempt to commit suicide, compared to 17% who aren’t victims.

This actually increases for trans youth to 57%, suggesting that people are more sensitive to attempts to change their gender than attempts to change their sexuality.

It’s about ten minutes long and worth a view.

 

Web Exclusive: Aliens blamed for Iowa Democratic Caucus catastrophe (Fiction)

 

By Reporter X

Officials at Bolingbrook’s Clow UFO Base confirmed that they are investigating possible alien interference in the Iowa Democratic Caucus. 

”We are cooperating with Tigerhawk UFO Base to determine if any of our visitors played a role in this catastrophic electoral failure, ” said an anonymous official. 

According to many sources, a high ranking member reported having an ”unearthly” encounter one week before the caucus:

”I saw a bright light descend from the heavens and land in front of me. A being emerged and floated towards me. I couldn’t really see it because the light was too bright. It handed me a flash drive and said it contained an app we could use to organize caucus sites and report the results to our headquarters. I thought it was an angel. So I took the hard drive and installed it on our servers. I didn’t test it because anything made by God is perfect, right?”

After the app failed to work, the official conceded that he might have really spoken to a demon. 

Anonymous officials at Clow expect to conclude their investigation within a week:

“Every craft that came any where near Iowa is grounded. We are questioning their crews and no one is leaving until we get an answer.”

A spokeswoman for the Iowa Democratic Party refused to answer questions:

“(Expletives deleted)!  We are going to post the results this afternoon!  There is a paper record from every caucus site in the state!  Nothing was lost. All you people do is complain. (Expletives deleted)  Why does Joe Biden in such a hurry to know that he came in last?  (Expletive deleted)! You didn’t hear me say that.”

Note:  This is a work of fiction. Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

Pro-Yang UFO collides with Pro-Sanders UFO over Palatine (Fiction)

By Reporter X

A dogfight between a UFO with a Bernie Sanders for President sign, and a UFO with an Andrew Yang sign, ended in a midair collision over Palatine.

“I heard a loud boom,” said Paige, an eyewitness who asked that we not use her last name. I looked up and saw two burning flying saucers plummeting towards Long Grove.”  She later added, “I knew the Democratic primary was contested, but I didn’t realize it was this bad.”

David from Long Grove claims he was one of the first people at the crash site:

“It was horrible.  Two aliens were hitting each other with computer tablets.  One said Earth needed a revolution.  The other said Earth needed a mathematical evolution and a dividend.  Other aliens were gravely injured but crawling towards each other.  They were going to fight to the death over Bernie and Andrew.  How horrible! I think I’m going to vote for Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden.  I still can’t decide.”

Sheila Z. Blake, a spokesperson for the Palatine Police Department and Palatine’s Rob Sherman UFO Base, confirmed the incident and that both crews have been arrested:

“Unlike (Bolingbrook’s) Clow UFO Base, we do not tolerate our visitors displaying political ads.  We believe that aliens, and Russians, should not be involved in our political process.”

Blake explained that both crews were being treated for injuries, but were expected to make a full recovery.  She also added that both UFOs were destined for Iowa, but spotted each other over Schaumburg: 

“The captains of each ship started insulting each other.  Traffic Control instructed them to return to Clow controlled air space, but they didn’t listen.  Instead, they started shooting at each other.”

Blake added that the social media team for Sherman UFO Base was able to pass off the crash as one of the many “mysterious booms” residents of northeast Palatine report to the police.

“Most of the time, they’re just UFOs launching whose crews forgot to activate their silencers.  This time was more serious and could have created a major security breach.  Let us make this clear:  Politics and UFOs do not mix in Palatine.”

Palatine Mayor Jim Schwantz laughed when asked about the crash:

“Where do you come up with these stories?  All I have to say is that our State of the Village Address is on February 19.  It’s free, unlike the one at a certain village we both know.”

Yang denied his campaign buys ads on UFOs:

“You know, with my Freedom Dividend, more people will have time to read your silly articles, and donate to SETI@Home.”

Sanders didn’t deny buying UFO display ads:

“That’s nice.  We need all the help we can get.  Biden has the 1 percent on his side.  Trump has the Russians on his side.  If the aliens want to display my signs, so be it.  Now stop calling me!”

A receptionist for Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar said he was busy and could not be disturbed.

In the background, a man who sounded like Claar, said: “Okay, Michael.  When I step down in May, the mayor’s job will be part-time, and my village manager will make most of the decisions for you.  Your job is to attend ribbon cuttings and defeat Bolingbrook United in the next election.  Any questions?”

“The office will still have a bar, right?”

“I’m taking the bar with me.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re not me, that’s why!”

Also in the Babbler:

Interstellar Commonwealth announces audit of Earth’s covert societies and governments
Bolingbrook police officer kills mold monster
Sources: Trump will announce the cancelation of the US election at Bolingbrook Golf Club
God to smite Bolingbrook on 2/5/20

Note:  This is a work of fiction. Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

Guest Opinion: Now get to work (Mixed)

File image of Congressman Sean Casten.

The following is from a Twitter thread posted by Congressman Sean Casten, who represents the Illinois Sixth Congressional District.  We have made minor edits for clarity. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the Babbler’s editorial staff or of the bloggers on Freethought Blogs:

Let’s take a moment to rise above the shame of the US Senate this week and focus on some larger scale reasons for optimism about our democracy.

Start with that beautiful and always insightful line of Learned Hand: “Liberty lies in the hearts of men (and women). As long as it remains it needs no court, no constitution, no law to defend it.”

If we’ve learned nothing of our country and fellow citizens since 2016, it’s that liberty still lies in the hearts of Americans:

The majority of Americans, after all, voted for Hillary.

And in response to Trump, the majority of Americans didn’t give up. They marched. For women. For science. For our lives. For our democracy. Peacefully. But righteously. And it was that righteous civic action that flipped the House with the biggest (and dare I say, most awesome?) freshman class since Watergate. And it was that righteous civic action that flipped the Virginia legislature, which gave us the final state required to ratify the ERA. And started the process to rejoin RGGI.

Meanwhile, in the House we have not only ended Trump’s legislative agenda, but advanced an agenda that is not just the Democratic party agenda, but the agenda of the American people.

The bills we have passed have the overwhelming support of the American electorate, Ds and Rs alike. Ensuring universal healthcare. Background checks for guns. Dealing with climate change. Campaign finance reform. These things are popular! This isn’t surprising, since the Democratic members of Congress are as diverse as our country. On the obvious metrics (race, gender, sexual preference) but no less significantly in terms of ideology. The fact that you can go from AOC to Joe Manchin and still be in the same party is a testament to a party that reflects the full diversity of the majority of the country. And that diversity only happened because Americans got engaged after Nov ’16.

This point gets lost in all the silly “Dems in disarray” nonsense. Diverse opinions, held by people with the courage to express them is what democracy is all about. Celebrate it!

Now to be sure, there is no equivalent diversity across the aisle. The ideological walk from Steve King to Peter King is not that long. And the fact that they all stay on message is not that surprising. But it’s not how representative government is supposed to work.

And the fact that all that righteous civic action brought about all this change doesn’t mean that 2020 will be a cakewalk. To the contrary, it will be harder. Because the @GOP – a once great party – has been totally captured by a base and donor class whose interests are wildly opposed by the majority of the country. Absent reform, they have no path to retain power that is not based on lies and disenfranchisement. That’s ultimately what the impeachment trial was about: withhold the truth so we can get back to appointing unqualified judges and protecting those who seek to corrupt our democracy.

What’s on the ballot in 2020 is not a contest between Democrats and Republicans. It is a contest between Democracy and kleptocracy. Between the rule of law and the law of the jungle. But here’s the thing: we have nothing to fear from our 300 million fellow Americans. They’re good people. We’ve just seen 3 years of good people, rising up in peaceful defense of this beautiful, 244-year-old experiment.

Our threat is instead from just a few hundred elected @GOP officials. And that’s a battle we can win. Because while there’s hatred here, it’s dumber…and love has got the numbers.

So yes, be angry at those in the Senate who would destroy our democracy rather than alienate their donors. Who would destroy the institution in order to preserve their job. But take greater solace from the fact that they are in the tiny minority. Their power reflects their position, not the will of those they represent.

So back to Learned Hand, in full:

…what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow.

“The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interest alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of him who, near two thousand years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned, but has never quite forgotten—that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side-by-side with the greatest.

I’d say that spirit still lies in the American heart. I wouldn’t have gotten this job if it didn’t. That heart is a bit battered and a bit stressed. But for all that, a bit wiser. So take solace today not in our institutions. Because in the final analysis, they won’t save us. Take solace in the liberty in American hearts that still beats strong and is the only thing that ever has saved us.

Now get to work.

Note: Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group

 

Debate between Rep. Foster and Will County Board Member Rachel Ventura at Clow UFO Base sets new attendance record (Fiction)

By Reporter X

Over 100 thousand humans and aliens attended a contentious Democratic Primary debate at Clow UFO Base between Rep. Bill Foster and challenger Rachel Ventura.  It was largest the political gathering ever held at Clow.

Will County Board Member Rachel Ventura (File Photo)

Unlike the subdued debates the two had with the Sun-Times and the Daily Herald, this debate featured cheering sections for both candidates.  Foster’s contingent included a pep band and cheerleaders, while Ventura’s featured a card stunt team and a person wearing an Earth mascot suit.

“Don’t be afraid to show your campaign spirit,” said Master of Ceremonies John Z. Parker.  “We’re not here to learn about their stances.  We’re here for the verbal combat!  So, cheer on your warrior!”

Ventura’s opening statement accused Foster of being a moderate:

“People in the middle of the road get run over.  For nine years, the Republicans have been running over Bill.  If we’re going to save our planet, we need to start running over Republicans before they lead us to extinction.”

Foster’s opening statement included attacks against Ventura:

“I’m starting to wonder if my opponent is addicted to campaigning.  She ran an unsuccessful camping for Joliet City Council.  Then she ran for the Will County Board and won.  Less than a year into her term, she decided to run against me.  If she’s elected to Congress, I wonder if she’ll resist the urge to run for Mayor of Bolingbrook?”

“Okay, Boomer,” replied Ventura.

Later in the debate, the moderator asked the candidates how each felt about the deteriorating relations between Earth and the Martian Colonies since President Trump’s election. Ventura shocked the audience by calling residents of the colonies “Martians.”

“Do you understand that they prefer to call themselves ‘Colonists’?” asked the moderator.

“Yes, and honestly, I don’t care what those pretentious aliens think.  Bill Foster cares more about the hurt feelings of some Martian politician than he cares about the suffering of his constituents.  That’s why I support the Green New Deal.”

Representative Bill Foster (File Photo)

“The Colonies is the most advanced civilization in the galaxy and the most hostile towards humanity,” countered Foster.  “We don’t want to provoke them into annihilating us.  Calling them ‘Martians’ instead of their preferred term, ‘Colonists’ is not only rude but irresponsible.  How would you like it if I said I couldn’t tell the difference between you and a Lactobacillus?”

“10-4 Dinosaur,” replied Ventura.

When the moderator asked both candidates to discuss who has endorsed them, Ventura proudly mentioned former Presidential candidate Marianne Williamson’s endorsement. 

Williamson then astrally projected herself onto the stage:

“Fellow sentient creatures,” announced Williamson.  “I declare this debate over, and Rachel Ventura the winner.  I know she will lead the fight against draconian vaccine requirements, and endlessly investigate the scam of anti-depressant drugs!

“Um,” said Ventura, “You’re not really helping me right now.”

“Oh?  Well, then I’ll just say that all illness is an illusion and the key to universal health care is to dispel the illusion!”

“That doesn’t help either.”

“My fellow sentient creatures!  I am being glib.  Disregard what I just said.”  She then vanished.

Foster chuckled.  “You’re not the only one who’s been endorsed by fringe Presidential candidates.”

Andrew Yang then walked on stage.  After the audience cheered for a minute, he offered to spray whipped cream into Foster’s mouth.  Foster declined.  Yang then endorsed Foster:  “Bill is the co-chair of the Task Force on Artificial Intelligence.  That means he’s the only candidate in this race who understands one of the most important issues of the 21st Century.  Artificial intelligence will affect all Americans, including the residents of the 11th Congressional District.  That is why it would be dumb to vote for anyone other than Bill Foster.”

“Artificial Intelligence?” asked Ventura.  “Oh please!  Both of you are out of touch with the real residents of my district.  That’s why my campaign created a YouTube video making fun of Foster’s A.I. phobia!”

“Rachel, despite all your bluster, you’re just a politician.  Let me break down the math—”

“I’m a mathematician!  Don’t you dare mansplain to me! I’ll break it down for you.  Is AI keeping our families from getting health care?”

Depends.  Doctors can refuse to see patients in order to improve their scores, but AI could also help doctors make quicker diagnoses, and provide personalized treatments.  That would be a benefit to the residents of your district.”

“Will AI stop climate change?”

“AI is an important tool in the fight against climate change.  AI powers climate models and can be used to develop the technologies and techniques that will be needed to fight climate change.  And since you didn’t ask— automation will affect all congressional districts, no matter what Paul Krugman says.  What are you going to say when automated trucks replace truck drivers, and robots replace warehouse workers?”

“I won’t go down the robot rabbit hole.  Our district will only be saved by the Green New Deal!”

“The only thing that will save the world is a Freedom Dividend.”

“Green New Deal!”

“Freedom Dividend!”

After repeating those words for several seconds, Yang was escorted off stage.

Near the end of the debate, both candidates defended their secret society memberships.  Foster is a member of the New World Order, and Ventura is a member of the Illuminati.  Both societies are at war with each other.

“The Illuminati is winning the world against the global order,” said Ventura.  “They are the only hope for our planet.  I look forward to working with AOC and (Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar) to navigate the chaos and create better communities in our district.  Fnord!”

“Yes the New World Order has flaws,” said Foster.  “But embracing the Illuminati is not the answer.  They are creating chaos and division so they can exploit us.  They don’t want to solve climate change.  They want to exploit it.  If you want a better world after climate change, then vote for me, and I’ll help bring about the right changes at the right pace to get the job done.  Don’t let them divide us.  Let the New World Order unite us.  E Pluribus Unum!”

After the debate, both sides sent representatives to try to spin the interstellar media’s coverage of the debate.

“Bill has always been here for us,” said Will County Board member Jackie Traynere.  “He’s like the doctor who knows what you need, rather than the doctor who will give what you want.  We need more representatives like him.”

“I don’t like Democrats,” said Claar.  “But I love what Rachel’s doing to Bill Foster.”

Many in the audience found the debate entertaining:

“I loved hearing the dueling talking points,” Said Xidoxo, who would not state her home planet.  “Too bad Trump is going to be crowned dictator in a week or so.  He’ll probably arrest the winner of this primary.”

Also in the Babbler:

Russia spares Chicagoland again
Deputy Mayor Lawler accidentally activated Clow self-destruct system
Claar:  I won’t shutdown Bolingbrook because of a coronavirus
God to smite Bolingbrook on 1/31/20

Note:  This is a work of fiction. Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

Op-ed: Bolingbrook United’s Response to the 2020 State of the Village (Non-fiction)

by Joe Giamanco, Jaime Olson and Village Trustee Robert Jaskiewicz

On Thursday, January 16, 2020, for the final time in his lengthy political career, Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar was the keynote speaker at the Bolingbrook Chamber of Commerce’s annual “State of the Village.” The annual event, which is part report and part political show for his supporters, drew a crowd limited to predominately business community members, politicians, and campaign donors. The event, which is $70 per person to attend and is scheduled in the middle of a workday, continues to be out of the reach for the average Bolingbrook resident.

Old Problems, Still No Solutions:

While the address centered on village growth over his 34 plus years in office, it lacked substantial focus on many of the problems our community continues to face.

At nearly 100% buildout of vacant land and with a retail tax base that is dropping year after year thanks to the growth of companies like Amazon, the Village has a mounting problem on its hands; its inability to create new taxable revenue. This has caused the village to resort to direct tax increases to its residents and hidden ones such as the “garbage tax.” Unfortunately, no effort was made to address this issue or even be honest about it.

Besides the Village’s inability to create new forms of taxable income, we are also concerned at the Village’s continued failure to properly address its debt. During the event, Mr. Claar asserted that the hundreds of millions of dollars of Village debt is being managed and that no additional debt will be needed. This is a misrepresentation of fact. For years the village has been in litigation with Illinois American Water as it attempts to take ownership of the water system. The process has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, in costs and attorney’s fees. When it is completed the village will be paying for it with tens of millions if not over hundreds of millions in additional debt. Adding to the problem, it’s all a gamble, there is no guarantee that our water bills will actually go down.

With such financial pressures, one might think that Mr. Claar would want to reconsider his position on banning cannabis-based businesses from the Village. Instead, Mayor Claar doubled down and touted his focus on impressing his moral compass on the Village by excluding such businesses as well as other such as tattoo and massage businesses.

Out of Office but Still in Control:

As he has stated before, Mayor Claar confirmed that he will not be running for reelection. He added this time that this would be his last state of the village address. The timing of that comment makes it official; Mayor Claar will be stepping down from office before the next municipal election in April of 2021.

We believe Mr. Claar plans to step down in just over three months, following the passage of the annual budget around May 1, 2020. When he does so, pursuant to village code, the Village Board will be charged with the responsibility to appoint a new mayor to complete the term which will expire following the April 2021 election. With 5 of 6 votes controlled by Mr. Claar and his party, it is expected that Deputy Mayor Michael Lawler will be appointed to complete the term and he will subsequently run for election for the following term.

Mr. Claar made a point during his lengthy address to advise that while he would not be running again, he plans to stay “heavily involved” in the next election and that he will use his excessive financial war chest and his own political action committee to presumably finance Mr. Lawler’s campaign. The logical conclusion: while Mayor Claar will be stepping down, it appears that he will continue to control the board through his continued monetary contributions.

The Future of Bolingbrook:

We wish Mr. Claar well as he wraps up his political career within our Village; however, we hope that as he steps out of the spotlight he will not act like the wizard from the “Wizard of Oz”, continuing to control things from behind a curtain.

The diversity of our community continues to be one of our greatest assets. We have an outstanding community thanks in part to our businesses but most importantly the residents who make it function from one day to the next. We disagree with Mr. Claar’s assessment of the value of volunteerism within the community. Bolingbrook United believes that residents who step up to lead and teach the youth of Bolingbrook through programs such as youth sports and scouts, provide substantial benefit to our community. We are disappointed and quite frankly disgusted with the mayor’s inability to recognize the value that these volunteers provide.

Bolingbrook’s unofficial opposition parties respond to the 2020 State of the Village Address (Fiction)

Every year, Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar delivers a State of the Village address, and the Babbler prints the responses from Bolingbrook’s unofficial opposition parties.  This year, The Roger Claar Party, Our Revolution Party, Bolingbrook First, The Positive Party, The Art Bell Party, and The Al Gore Party accepted our invitation. Bolingbrook United’s response will be posted on our web site later today. 

The Roger Claar
“A great mayor deserves a great party.”

The end is near!  The end of Roger’s service as the Mayor of Bolingbrook is approaching. Roger has done so much for our community.  Instead of farms, we have shopping malls and factories.  We have the right balance of bars and churches.  Under Roger’s leadership, we’ve grown into the second largest village in Illinois.  Roger, you have built a legacy.  A legacy that is worthy of protection.

As great as Roger is, he does have a weakness.  He doesn’t always select the greatest people to back him up.  Like a certain trustee with ties to the infamous DuPage Township.  Or a trustee with ties to the Bolingbrook STEM Association.  Are we sure she isn’t a follower of scientism?

Robert Jaskiewicz (Left) and Michael Carpanzano at a 2014 Bolingbrook Chamber of Commerce event.

The worst of them, however, is Trustee Michael Carpanzano.  As the Executive Director of the Bolingbrook Area Chamber of Commerce, he gave the “Anti-Roger” —Trustee Robert Jaskiewicz,— the 2014 “Director’s Award of Philanthropic Excellence.”  Are we supposed to believe he now recognizes the great evil that is the “Anti-Roger?”

We don’t think so.  We fear that Carpanzano will charm Roger into endorsing him to be the next mayor.  Once he’s elected, he’ll “carp” Roger, and take direction from the “Anti-Roger.” 

This year, we’ll be celebrating the great things that Roger has done for us.  Next year, we hope that residents will vote to preserve Roger’s legacy by electing the only party that fully supports Roger!

Our Revolution Party
“Bernie or Burn!”

This year’s State of the Village address perfectly encapsulated Bolingbrook.  Roger held a decadent event at a tax-payer funded palace, while the rest of us toil at Amazon warehouses or make over-priced plastic products.  Roger’s cronies eat fine meals while the residents of Bolingbrook eat (expletive deleted) soup and Roger is the one supplying the (expletive deleted)!

Sen. Bernie Sanders has shown us the way.  Compromises will compromise us.  Tactical surrenders to the one percent will become total surrenders.  Business as usual won’t work.  It’s time for a revolution in Bolingbrook!

We have a simple plan to save the residents of Bolingbrook:

  • Enroll all residents into a single health care plan that can be merged into Medicare for All.
  • Ban all fossil fuel cars by 2030.
  • Force Amazon to pay local taxes on their profits.
  • Turn Bolingbrook Commons into a university and trade school that will be free for all residents.

If you have to ask how we can afford these programs, we ask: How can Bolingbrook afford to give tax credits to businesses, and to build a luxury golf club?

The world is burning.  You can either join us in supporting Bernie, or you can burn!

Bolingbrook First
“We made Bolingbrook great!”

We loved listening to Roger tell the truth about the great state of our village.  We just have one thing to add:  You’re welcome.

For decades, Roger worked with us to turn Bolingbrook from a sleepy suburb to an international business hub.  We’re the party of Clerk Carol Penning, Deputy Mayor Michael Lawler, and Trustee Maria Zarate.  We’re the public officials that passed the laws that made Bolingbrook great!

The so-called First Party for Bolingbrook is like a cover band.  The tunes sound familiar, but the performers are just copycats.  Their name is also an insult.  We predate FPB, but they want residents to think they’re the first party that cared about Bolingbrook.  What have Trustee Michael Carpanzano and Trustee Mary Basta done besides follow our plan for Bolingbrook?

Bolingbrook First’s policies and leaders were the key to making Bolingbrook great.  If you want to keep Bolingbrook great and support Roger’s legacy, you should support us.

Roger and Trustee Sheldon Watts may have left our party, but we haven’t left Bolingbrook.

The Positive Party
“Everything is great!”

At the State of the Village address, Roger showed us that the real residents of Bolingbrook have every reason to be positive.  Roger is a positive person, and his positive energy powers Bolingbrook.

Our foes are negative, and they thrive on negative energy from Springfield.  They want to feast on the positive energy of Bolingbrook and turn every resident into an energy vampire.

Don’t let them win.  Don’t say anything negative about our village.  Don’t do anything negative to our village.  Don’t even think negative thoughts about Bolingbrook.  If you do, they will win!  Give in to Michael Carpanzano, and all will be positive in Bolingbrook.  Government by the Secret!  Steven Pinker is always right!

The Art Bell Party
“Keeping an eye on Bolingbrook’s Skies.”

Roger has done a lot of great things for Bolingbrook, and The State of the Village address showed that.  But he didn’t show everything.

Once again, Roger didn’t talk about Clow UFO Base, the largest employer in Bolingbrook.  He didn’t talk about our relationship with the Interstellar Commonwealth, or why he still allows alien abductions to occur in our village.  It’s 2020, don’t you think the aliens have learned everything they’re going to learn by probing us?  I don’t know about you, but I want to get a good nights sleep without worrying about ending up on a space ship with a probe in an unmentionable part of my body!

Roger also didn’t address his alliance with the local wereskunk population.  Their cousins spread trash everywhere, while the wereskunks act like they own Bolingbrook.  It’s so bad that if a wereskunk sprays you, the police won’t bother to chase them.  

We feel it is time for residents to stand up to the wereskunks, end alien abductions, and tell secret societies that we are not pawns in their game of world domination.  We are Bolingbrook, and we must control our own fate!

The Al Gore Party
“We can build a greener, better Bolingbrook”

Roger talked about Bolingbrook’s great history, but we were disappointed that his plans for the future didn’t go beyond maintaining his political machine.

The fact is the climate that allowed Bolingbrook to grow is going away.  Some of that change is irreversible.  Some of the worst effects can be prevented if we start reducing our carbon emissions.  

Roger will accuse us of wanting to ban straws, but that’s not true.  The village can do more good by reducing the use of fossil fuels in Bolingbrook.  Imagine a Bolingbrook where we give tax credits to businesses to create charging stations instead of political favors.  Imagine a Bolingbrook with bike lanes, bike paths, and sidewalks. Imagine a Bolingbrook that brags about adding more trees instead of more ice cream parlors.

Some say we should wait until other suburbs take the lead.  Why?  Why don’t we lead the other suburbs into the future instead?  Why don’t we at least try to ensure a better future for our children, no matter where they may move to?

Roger made bold moves in order to grow Bolingbrook.  We now need to make bold changes to ensure its survival in the new world.  The residents have done it before, and we can do it again! Let’s work together so there will be Bolingbrook residents in the 22nd Century.  Those future residents, we believe, will teach their children about Roger, and preserve his legacy of a village that you can grow with.

Also in the Babbler:

Marianne Williamson astrally announces her endorsement of Rachel Ventura
Claar says Russia can lower the temperature, but it can’t freeze Bolingbrook’s spirit
Jeanne Ives says flyer showed suggested donations in Interstellar Credits, not dollars
God to smite Bolingbrook on 1/22/20

Note:  This is a work of fiction. Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group.