Thursday, July 16, 2015

Lipstick on a Pig

    “You know, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called ‘change.’  It’s still gonna stink after eight years.” Barack Obama, criticizing 2008 opponents John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Rightwing critics claimed Obama’s “still a pig” remarks were an insult to Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who had said, “What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?  Lipstick.”  Democrats countered that McCain had employed the same analogy criticizing Hillary Clinton’s health care proposal.  George W. Bush’s monstrous Vice President, Dick Cheney, once called the expression his favorite, often prefacing it with, “As we like to say in Wyoming.”

The insulting phrase “Lipstick on a pig” is of recent origin – in fact, the word lipstick was first used around 1880 – and resembles the ancient expression “You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.”  In 1985 a San Francisco radio host at KNBR coined the saying by remarking, “That would be like putting lipstick on a pig” in reaction to a proposal to refurbish Candlestick Park, unloved home of the Giants, instead of building a new baseball stadium.
Refurbishing Dunes State Park Pavilion; Post-Tribune photos by Kyle Telechan

The Chesterton Tribune has been investigating the shady machinations behind the proposed banquet center at Dunes State Park.  Darcey Wade’s guest commentary blasted the plan on aesthetic and economic grounds, plus labeled it a threat to public health and safety.  Permitting alcohol at events will surely lead to Lake Michigan drownings, she asserted, adding:
  Were any environmental studies done?  Why was this sweetheart deal with politically connected business people kept secret? (Oh wait, the DNR – Indiana Department of Natural Resources – back in April stated that they did not want public input!  Amazing, that fact.)
. . . .
  Have you heard about the new fad that brides have of “trashing the dress?”  They step in creeks, small lakes, and if this building is built they will have the opportunity to step into a very big lake.  Even if the waters are calm, the combination of heavy dresses and water could mean dead bodies.  The thought horrifies me.  Alcohol was banned from the beach for a reason and that was during regular beach hours.  I can only imagine the problems caused by night revelers who’ve had a few drinks and decide to enter that dangerous lake.

Calling the Pavilion project “a black eye for Indiana,” a Chesterton Tribune editorialized:
A puzzling question is why there is not more official outrage at the no-bid contract and the official cover-up in Indiana’s decision to put a conference center on the beach at the Dunes State Park.
As hundreds of area residents in Duneland, Northwest Indiana and around the state are making their opposition known, state officials from both political parties are largely sitting on their hands.
Indiana Department of Natural Resource officials at the highest level worked to keep the public in the dark as they developed a plan to gut the historic pavilion and add two new buildings to Northwest Indiana’s premier attraction.  Knowing they could never get approval for funding from the democratically-elected Indiana Legislature they chose to go with a privatization scheme that granted the public’s land to a Republican state official for private gain for up to 65 years.
Deals like this are why citizens lose faith in their elected officials and community leaders.
A case in point is Tuesday’s endorsement of the project by the Northwest Indiana Forum.
   The Forum move is a vote for the worst form of crony socialism, which uses government power to enrich the politically connected few. It is more like what we would expect from Putin’s Russia than the Hoosier State.
Opponents, including Kevin Cornett and Deb Fray, below, protest Pavilion project; NWI Times photos by Damian Rico

Chesterton Tribune reporter Jeff Schultz reported that over 300 people attended a meeting of the Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Commission (PCCRVC), most of whom opposed the banquet center.  Linda Schwab asserted: “A vast majority are drawn to [the Dunes] because of its natural beauty, in short eco-tourism.  You’re all missing a huge boat, and it’s going to sail away if this thing is built.”  Longtime Dunes supporter Herb Reed received a standing ovation after telling board members, “If it wasn’t for us, you wouldn’t have anything to brag about.” 
Herb Reed and Darcey Wade; Chesterton Tribune photos by Margaret L. Willis
Chesterton Tribune editor David Canright is a kindred spirit who like me protested the Vietnam War and a previous “Mistake on the Lake,” the never-built Bailly Nuclear Plant.  He could probably use Robert Blaszkiewicz’s website expertise and newspaper talents.

Post-Trib columnist David Rutter dubbed the proposed facility a “Commercial Monstrosity” and ridiculed efforts by Pavilion Partners (PPLLD) to win approval for their “Booze on the Dunes” scheme as exemplifying the “lipstick-on-a-pig” theory of marketing “that presumes anything can be sold if the sales job is slick enough.”  Assailing Porter County public officials, Rutter wrote:
     In Porter County’s government-juiced commercial development, conflict of interest is a legal concept written in Swahili or some other language that officials do not comprehend.  No one in Porter County government would know what a meteorite was, even after one came hurtling out of the sky and struck them in the head.

At “Graffiti aHead: Portraits of the Midwest Graffiti Artists,” a gallery reception hosted by Ann Fritz, personable Felix “Flex” Maldonado fielded questions from students and staff for nearly an hour.  An East Chicago Central graduate approaching his mid-40s, Maldonado honored the so-called godfathers of a grassroots art form finally getting the respect it deserves.  Maldonado’s fascinating aerosol-on-canvas renderings of Midwest street artists caused me to seek out his Jackson 5 mural.  Other Maldonado murals adorn the walls of area Mexican Restaurants.  As always, thanks to Ann Fritz, the refreshments were tasty, especially the guacamole topped with tomato bits.

At a condo owners meeting treasurer Marcia Gaughan claimed to be at wit’s end over her dues collection duties.  Sandy Carlson, a psychological counselor, said maybe she needed to schedule a session.  I chimed in that Marcia has been depressed ever since the “Mad Men” series concluded.  “You’re right,” Marcia confessed. Thanks in part to my moving things along, we were done in an hour and home in time for a special on close-up images of Pluto, the dwarf planet, and its moon, Charon, sent back 3 billion miles by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft.

Caitlin Jenner, upon receiving the Arthur Ashe ESPY Courage Award, said, If you want to call me names, make jokes and doubt my intentions, go ahead because the reality is I can take it.  But for thousands of kids out there coming to terms with the reality of who they are, they shouldn't have to take it.”  Beforehand, actor Jon Hamm narrated a video on Jenner, and soccer star Abby Wambach presented the trophy.

Glen Park Dairy Queen is no longer in business after 50 years.  Perhaps the space will become an IUN parking lot.  At Quick Cut in Portage my barber Nancy talked about her 78 year-old father who drove from Roanoke, VA, over July Fourth.  Slowed by arthritis, he needed to walk around every couple hours or he stiffens up.  I refrained from saying, “Old age is not for the timid.”  The winning Jeopardy contestant brought along drum sticks from Rush drummer Neil Pearl and knew what French novelist’s 1902 funeral was attended by Alfred Dreyfus, wrongly accused of treason.  The answer: Emile Zola, below, whose open letter titled “J’accuse. . . !” excoriated the French army of anti-Semitism and obstruction of justice.  The broadside led to Dreyfus’s exoneration.
In the South Bend Tribune South Carolina native Darryl Heller, an African American, wrote that while the Confederate battle flag has come down, the statue of “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman remains on the South Carolina Statehouse lawn. Tillman, known for his ardent segregationist positions as state governor and U.S. senator, participated in the murder of African- Americans and played a key role in fashioning the state’s Jim Crow laws that instituted racial segregation. When President Teddy Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House in 1901, Tillman responded by stating that, The action of President Roosevelt in entertaining that n----- will necessitate our killing a thousand n-----s in the South before they will learn their place again.’”

Tillman statue splattered with red paint in protest
Historian Ray Smock confirmed the quote, writing: It was the most virulent time of blatant, open race hatred. That is why the historian Rayford Logan called the turn of the 20th century the ‘Nadir of Negro Life in America.’ Jim Crow was firmly entrenched. Southern politicians ran on open programs of white supremacy without any sugar coating on their comments.  Just 5 years earlier Plessy v Ferguson meant the high court sanctioned segregation.”

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