Blue State Blues: After $200k Earmark, Schakowsky to Star in 'Black Ensemble' Play

Blue State Blues: After $200k Earmark, Schakowsky to Star in 'Black Ensemble' Play

In 2010, your correspondent challenged incumbent Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) in the 9th district of Illinois. It was an exciting campaign, a real contest between Alinskyite socialism and Tea Party conservatism.

I lost by 30 points in the deep-blue district, but the Hon. Mrs. Schakowsky never bothered to accept my concession. She was still irritated that she had been forced to defend the seat at all, having assumed that it was hers for life.

It’s easy to understand why that would be a safe assumption.

This year, Schakowsky will be facing off against a certain Suzanne Atanus (ah-TAAH-nus), a perennial candidate who finally won the primary after union members crossed over to vote Republican in a vain attempt to push insider Kirk Dillard past reform-minded businessman Bruce Rauner in the gubernatorial race. Not knowing the difference, they voted for Atanus over her male rival.

Atanus has a number of colorful views, including the belief that God has punished Americans for gay rights and abortion by smiting us with tornadoes and autism. Needless to say, Republicans are aghast.

One of the singular pleasures of the 2010 campaign was watching Schakowsky having to ask the voters for their support for once, which included listening to Atanus rant at a candidate forum at a Catholic nursing home in the district.

By then, Atanus was running as a write-in candidate, having been disqualified in the Republican primary over irregularities in her nominating forms. She arrived at the nursing home with large, handwritten posters, on which she had scrawled her policy positions.

When her time expired, she refused to let go of the microphone, and organizers literally had to pry it from her hands. Meanwhile, Schakowsky sat fumbling impatiently through a copy of the U.S. Constitution, having been caught not knowing much about it at a previous candidate forum.

This year’s candidate forums should be even more entertaining. But not as entertaining as a play being staged May 3 in Chicago by an outfit called the Black Ensemble Theater.

The play is called The Soul of a Powerful Woman, and it will star Jan Schakowsky, who is portrayed on the play’s poster as a kind of Joan of Arc figure.

The play also features several local politicians in cameo roles, including Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who may challenge Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel next year. Yet it is Schakowsky who has top billing.

And those of us who remember the details of her political career know the likely reason: Schakowsky secured a $196,000 federal earmark for the Black Ensemble Theater in 2008, tucked into a transportation bill.

That’s $196,000 of your money and mine, dear readers. We are each patrons of the Black Ensemble Theater, like it or not.

You might wonder why the federal government might fund something that defines itself explicitly in racial terms, but the website will put those concerns to rest: “The mission of the Black Ensemble Theater is to eradicate racism and its damaging effects upon our society through the utilization of theater arts. BE is the only theater in the nation whose mission is to eradicate racism.” 

So it’s racial theater against racism. Or something.

No wonder they had trouble raising money. 

Yet the Democrat-run Congress, via Jan Schakowsky, was only too happy to help.

The real Joan of Arc was burned at the stake as a heretic, giving her life for her country, but her latter-day incarnation is to be fêted for her eagerness to spend America further into debt for her own political benefit. It’s too bad the theater only has 300 seats. The way I see it, every taxpayer deserves to see the play.

As for Schakowsky, appearing in Black Ensemble productions is probably a safer use of her time than pushing bills through Congress.

She has little to show for her sixteen years in Congress, save for writing draconian laws on consumer product safety that have put mom-and-pop toy stores out of business. She is little more than a mouthpiece for whatever cause the extreme left is pushing that week, on Capitol Hill and MSNBC prime time.

Her husband, Robert Creamer, is a more interesting character. A Saul Alinsky disciple, he has spent decades as a community organizer in Chicago and now across the country. He gave Mayor Emanuel his first political job, as a fundraiser for the now-defunct Illinois Public Action, which folded in the 1990s. He went to federal prison in 2006 after being convicted in a check kiting scheme that he had used to keep his left-wing organization afloat.

While on “forced sabbatical,” as he put it, Creamer began work on a 2007 political manual that included the “blueprint” for Democrats’ health care reform push in 2009. He advised the future “progressive” president to use “emotion–fear, revulsion, anger, disgust” to push the policy. 

Creamer went on to train Obama campaign volunteers and still works to elect Democrats, distributing their talking points at the Huffington Post.

Schakowsky’s job has been to coordinate with Creamer, and to keep favors and constituent services flowing at home. Yet the prospects do not look good for Democrats in 2014, and she faces another term in the House minority. With Republicans having banned earmarks, there are few ways to funnel money to the Black Ensemble Theater and the like. 

So Schakowksy’s turn on the stage will be a rare spectacle. Catch her if you can.

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