Monday, December 25, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
Many people have taken issue with Time magazines' decision to name "You", the controller of the Information Age, the Person of the Year. Most have criticized it as a cheezy cop out.
But in your Chicago Sun-Times, Neil Steinberg says it was a bad choice because "You" just ain't very good at content creation and you should leave it to pros like Steinberg:
It is a curious choice, particularly if we ask ourselves: OK, if we're content providers, what content have we provided?Perhaps Mr. Steinberg is right.
Well, I've got this column here, but that isn't really the epoch- shattering change they have in mind, since I get paid. Rather, it is the blog you may run, sharing the secret murmurings of your heart, or the area of MySpace.com you have homesteaded out, with your favorite songs and photos of your pals -- the inside of your high school locker door, basically, writ in cyberspace.
Somehow, taken together, it just doesn't seem the most significant personage of 2006. Yes, the video-sharing site YouTube was purchased in October by Google for $1.65 billion. And what content have we, the people of the year, provided for that? Teenage girls lip-syncing to popular songs in their bedrooms. Lots of pets and babies and snippets from TV shows.
Actually, a whole lot of snippets from TV shows. And excerpts from professional sports. The truth is that most of the new amateur content that people are watching on YouTube is the same old commercial content in a new box -- Nike ads are also very big. Even "Lonelygirl" -- who seemed to be a creepy teen confessing her skewed life to the camera -- turned out to be a ploy by professional moviemakers.
Yes, occasionally some truly amateur clip will grip the public for a moment -- a fat boy dancing, a very good guitarist. But there aren't many of those, and the ones that do pop up never come back with a decent second act.
You can only take so much amateur hour. It gets old. I just logged on to YouTube now, and the first three featured videos are "Handfarting the Star Spangled Banner," "Spit Art" and "Pickup to Electronic Snare Drum." And if that doesn't send you racing to the Web site, I can't say I blame you.
You can see how Time made its mistake. On its Web site's "Person of the Year" straw poll, the short list was George W. Bush, Kim Jong Il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Nancy Pelosi, Condoleezza Rice, Al Gore, Hugo Chavez and "The YouTube Guys."
Well, Bush already got it twice this decade. Kim, Chavez, Rice or Gore didn't exactly dominate the year. The editors no doubt cringed away from Ahmadinejad and Pelosi. Which left "The YouTube Guys," which probably seemed unwise, picking a duo that few could even name.
It'll create good PR -- the point of the annual stunt -- and introduce the New Year's Eve Season of Introspection. But don't buy all this new virtual democracy stuff. Maybe we'll all be logging en masse on to YouTube next year to watch kittens play with balls of yarn. But I doubt it. At least I hope not.
Maybe the democratization of the media has no place in a society like ours and we should just leave the role of commentary to seasoned professionals like Neil.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
The publisher of Harper's Magazine, John R. MacArthur, takes a look at the myth of Rahm Emanuel's strategy for victory:
Now, a month into the new Democratic majority, it's possible to conclude that Americans voted for oversight—and the more distant hope of withdrawal from Iraq—without fully understanding how pro-war (or if you prefer, anti-anti-war) the opposition party really is.I wouldn't even mind Rep. Emanuel's retroactively taking credit for an anti-war Democratic victory, if I believed for a minute that he would work for an anti-war Democratic Congress.
To analyze this paradox it's necessary to consider the work of Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D.-Ill.), the hatchetman for Bill and Hillary Clinton and boss of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Emanuel labored hard to keep strongly anti-war candidates off the Democratic line and slate Iraq equivocators instead.
Emanuel's most publicized recruit was Tammy Duckworth, the former Army helicopter pilot who lost both her legs in Iraq. With national-party backing, Duckworth defeated the more anti-war Christine Cegelis in the primary in Illinois's 6th District (Senator Clinton's native grounds). But despite her martyrdom, Duckworth's cautiously critical position on Iraq (“we can't just pull up stakes and create a security vacuum”) wasn't enough to defeat the Republican Peter Roskam in the general election.
Of the 22 Democratic candidates initially backed by Emanuel and his sponsors in the Clinton machine, only one, Peter Welch in Vermont, favored speedy withdrawal from Iraq. Welch won easily. Of the other 21, only 8 were victorious last month. And one of Emanuel's original picks, Steve Filson, didn't make it past his anti-war primary opponent, Jerry McNerney, who prevailed decisively over the incumbent Republican in California's 11th District.
Before the election, Emanuel and his Senate counterpart, Charles Schumer, pleaded “pragmatism”—that the Democrats couldn't be seen as the party of “cut and run” if they wanted to attract “moderate” voters. After the election, Emanuel made a quick costume change, and brazenly retailed a story to The New York Times that portrayed him as the architect of a “brilliant” strategy that exploited the mounting anti-war sentiment in the country.
Under the headline, “Democrats Turned War into an Ally” the Times's credulous political reporters parroted Emanuel, saying that “the Democratic strategy of running against the war, which would have seemed impossibly risky three months earlier, when the White House had urged its candidates to embrace the war, was encouraged by poll after poll, not to mention regular reports of American casualties.”
Impossibly risky? What nonsense. Polls showed majority support for withdrawal in early August, and anger over Iraq dates back much further. That's what encouraged long-shot candidates like Webb to challenge entrenched, pro-war incumbents.
If so, he is the world's smartest fool:
Gingrich cited last month's ejection of six Muslim scholars from a plane in Minneapolis for suspicious behavior, which included reports they prayed before the flight and had sat in the same seats as the Sept. 11 hijackers.Mr. Gingrich did not explain exactly how citizens were protected from the praying clergy men.
"Those six people should have been arrested and prosecuted for pretending to be terrorists," Gingrich said. "And the crew of the U.S. airplane should have been invited to the White House and congratulated for being correct in the protection of citizens."
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
But walking away wasn't Will's style. He always felt something would turn up, even though nothing ever did, or even could, most of the time.When Tony Snow finally informs us that Iraq is "closed on Saturday afternoons," try to look surprised.
Once, years ago, when he was a kid, he told a schoolfriend (having first ascertained that this friend was not a C.S. Lewis fan) that it was possible to walk through the back of his wardrobe into a different world, and invited him round to explore. He could have canceled, he could have told him anything, but he was not prepared to suffer a moment's mild embarrassment if there was no immediate need to do so, and the two of them scrabbled around among the coat hangers for several minutes until Will mumbled something about the world being closed on Saturday afternoons.
The thing was, he could still remember feeling genuinely hopeful, right up until the last minute: Maybe there will be something there, he had thought, maybe I won't lose face. There wasn't, and he did, loads of it, a whole headful of face, but he hadn't leart a thing from the experience: if anything, it seemed to have left him with the feeling that he was bound to be lucky next time.
Monday, December 11, 2006
You may be sending the wrong message to half-wits like CNN's Jeff Greenfield.
Via the Swamp:
Good evening, I’m Senator Barack Obama.video via Bridget:
I’m here tonight to answer some questions about a very important contest that’s been weighing on the minds of the American people.
This is a contest about the future. A contest between two very different philosophies. A contest that will ultimately be decided in America’s heartland.
In Chicago, they’re asking, does the new guy have enough experience to lead us to victory?
In St. Louis, they’re wondering, are we facing a record that’s really so formidable? Or is it all just a bunch of hype?
Let me tell you – I’m all too familiar with these questions.
So tonight I’d like to put all the doubts to rest. And tonight, after a lot of thought and a good deal of soul-searching, I would like to announce to my hometown of Chicago and all of America that I’m ready….
…for the Bears to go all the way!
Sunday, December 10, 2006
As a member of the House International Relations Committee, he backed President Bush's decision to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein from power. But Hyde, the committee chairman the last two years, said he was troubled from the beginning that the war lacked enough support from the international community.Hyde also reflected on the House of Representatives under the leadership of Denny Hastert:
"Right now, I think it's a question of saving as much honor as we can. But I am afraid it is Vietnam again," he said.
"We've had a failure of cooperation from other countries as well as from our opinion molders, so it hasn't been a positive thing for America."
Hyde believes pressure will build from the American people for Congress to withdraw funds for military operations in Iraq to stop U.S. involvement.
"The issues of corruption ... were disgraceful, sickening and costly," he said. "I think the war might have been defended alone, but I don't think coupled with the corruption. We saw members of Congress with serious involvement. I just don't know what more could go wrong."
Saturday, December 09, 2006
A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men.USA! USA! USA!
The study found that more than half of the men measured had penises that were shorter than international standards for condoms.
The issue is serious because about one in every five times a condom is used in India it either falls off or tears, an extremely high failure rate.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Three senators have asked the Pentagon to open an investigation into allegations of inadequate treatment — and even punishment — of soldiers at Fort Carson who seek help or treatment for mental health problems after returning from Iraq.more...
The allegations were made by soldiers who said their superiors refused to allow them to seek treatment for mental health problems. One was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Barack Obama of Illinois and Republican Kit Bond of Missouri said Thursday the soldier’s allegations, reported by National Public Radio, brought up a “grave concern” that service personnel weren’t receiving adequate treatment. In the report, two sergeants said they often refused to allow soldiers under their command to attend mental health treatment sessions.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Fordham thought he made it clear that his old boss needed to quit, but Foley couldn't bring himself to do that. The N.R.C.C. headquarters was around the corner, and Fordham made it his next stop. There he found Representative Reynolds and Speaker Hastert. But before he could finish relaying the awful news, Reynolds's face got purple and he began to shout, "He needs to resign, and he needs to do it right now!" The Speaker just sat there, silent, according to Fordham: "He didn't react at all. This was weeks before the election, and they're thinking how this is going to impact us." ***via TPMmuckraker (emphasis mine)
Hastert, believing the leadership needed to present a united front, as one by one his colleagues were repudiating his foggy recollections, called a Republican-leadership meeting. That same day, an ethics-committee investigation was pressed for by Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (over the objections of those who wanted an independent counsel), its purpose to discover who knew what when about Foley. Blunt, Boehner, and Reynolds were all summoned "to basically get their stories straight for the press," according to a knowledgeable source, who adds, "That to me is where Hastert attempted a cover-up."
Reynolds balked at having such a meeting. "This is stupid! We can't all go and meet privately and try to get our stories straight, because this matter was just referred to the ethics committee," he told Hastert, according to the same source. "In fact, none of us are supposed to be talking to each other, because we are not supposed to talk to potential witnesses." Worse, added Reynolds, "I can tell you anything we say at this leadership meeting is something we have to share with the ethics committee."
The meeting eventually became a conference call, but without Reynolds's participation.
Monday, November 27, 2006
I want to see Barack run for President in 2008. I believe that he is the right man to lead our country at a time of such turmoil around the globe, bringing Americans together at a time in our nation's history when we need unity more than ever.You can sign Sen. Durbin's petition push Sen. Obama into the race here.
Barack has said publicly that he is considering a run, and part of his consideration will doubtlessly include measuring the level of his support from Democrats across the country. So let's show him how strong that support is.
Think Progress has taken a look at the proposed increase in the Illinois' minimum wage:
On Nov. 16, the Illinois State Senate approved a $1 increase in the state minimum wage, putting it at $7.50 an hour. The proposal would go into effect on July 1, and would increase every year to account for inflation.Think Progress, Kid Alias and I want you to Call Your Rep and ask to have this modest -- $7.50/hr X 40 hrs/wk X 52 wks/yr = $15,600/year -- minimum wage bill brought to the floor for a vote.
Conservative lawmakers objected to the measure, saying a minimum wage increase would come “at the expense of Illinois jobs” and put “our business climate in jeopardy with the surrounding states when we increase the cost of doing business.”
But a March 2006 report by the Fiscal Policy Institute found that increasing the minimum wage actually helps job growth:
[T]his report examined recent state-by-state trends for small businesses employing fewer than 50 workers and found that employment and payrolls in small businesses grew faster in the states with minimum wages above the federal level than in the remaining states where the $5.15 an hour federal minimum wage prevailed.
This report also found that total job growth was faster in the higher minimum wage states. Faster job growth also occurred in the retail trade sector, the sector of the economy employing the most workers at low wages, in the higher minimum wage states.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes, “Illinois’ minimum wage last was raised in 2003 to $6.50 an hour. At that level, a mother working full-time to support her child makes $13,520 a year, barely above the federal poverty line.”
It’s now up to the Illinois State House to bring the minimum wage legislation to the floor for a vote. An increase would mean a direct raise next year for 308,000 people in Illinois.
Friday, November 17, 2006
The conservative, free-market "Chicago School" of economics lost its leading thinker Thursday with the death of Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman at age 94.The Chilean "reform-minded leader" to which the Tribune's Greg Burns refers is General Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte.
For decades, Friedman tirelessly promoted his belief that private competition works better than government mandates, influencing the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations as well as reform-minded leaders from Chile to China.
Gen. Pincochet lead the military junta that ended South America's oldest democracy via a violent coup deposing the nation's democratically elected President Slavador Allende. During Gen. Pinochet's war on his nation's elected government, the army surrounded the presidential palace to prevent any escape -- while the air force bombed it. President Allende died from a gunshot wound before he could be captured.
Gen. Pinoche ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990, during which his regime was responsible for tens of thousands of human rights violations and murders. Those murdered during Pinochet's rule were said to have "been disappeared."
It is unknown exactly how many Chileans were killed by government and military forces during Gen. Pinoche's reign, but The National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation Report listed 2,095 deaths and 1,102 "disappearances" -- with the vast majority of victims coming from Gen. Pinochet's political opposition.
Pinochet's police and military also routinely used torture against dissidents. The National Commission on Political Prisoners and Torture determined that no less than 28,000 people were abused by the regime.
During his military dictatorship, Gen. Pinochet launched an era of economic libertarianism and privatization. To formulate his economic policy, Gen. Pinochet relied on the so-called "Chicago Boys," who were economists trained at the University of Chicago and heavily influenced by the monetarist policies of Milton Friedman. Gen. Pinochet's "shock treatment" policies -- abolition of the minimum wage, trade union rights, the privatization of the pension system, state industries, and banks, and slashing of taxes on income and profits -- were dubbed "The Miracle of Chile" by Milton Friedman.
But what did the Pinochet/Friedman "Chilean Miracle" look like?
In 1973, prior to the implementation of Friedman's policies, Chilean unemployment was only 4.3%. Following ten years of Gen. Pinochet's rule in 1983, unemployment had rocketed to 22% and wages adjusted for inflation declined by more than 40%. In 1970, 20% of Chile's population lived in poverty. By1990, the last year of Gen. Pinochet's Friedman-style economics, poverty had doubled to 40%.
With regard to bare necessities, in 1970, the daily diet of the poorest 40 percent of the Chilean population contained 2,019 calories. By 1980 this had plunged to 1,751. In addition, the percentage of Chileans without adequate housing jumped from 27 to 40 percent between 1972 and 1988.
And how were things going on the other side of the tracks? In 1970, the richest one-fifth of the population controlled 45% of the wealth compared to 7.6% for the poorest one-fifth. In 1989, the wealth controlled by the richest one-fifth jumped to 55% of the wealth while the wealth controlled by the poorest one-fifth fell to just 4.4%.
Of course we are all familiar with China's "reform-minded leaders".
Gen. Pinochet offered Milton Friedman the opportunity to use the nation of Chile as the living laboratory for his economic experiments and the Chilean people as his guinea pigs. And Milton Friedman was so eager to conduct his economic experiments on the human beings of a real nation that he worked hand-in-glove with one of this hemisphere's worst human rights abusers and legitimized the monster who destroyed his nation's democracy.
These are just some things we should keep in mind when considering the legacy of Milton Freedman. And that we should keep in mind if, during a future election campaign, the Tribune endorses a "reform-minded leader."
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Although I've addressed the money issue repeatedly and at length before, let's review the facts:
First, Christine's campaign time and again met the fundraising benchmarks set by Emanuel's DCCC. Fundraising goals that the campaign was assured would earn them establishment support -- only to see Dems Inc. change their story and increase their demands when her supporters, locally and on the Internet, met the DCCC fundraising challenges. The ability to raise money only became an issue when Mr. Emanuel and Mr. Durbin began openly courting potential primary challengers.
There were definitely money problems though. As Larry the Archpundit has thoroughly documented, a lot of money was wasted on various highly-compensated campaign "professionals" who added little or no value to Christine's grassroots campaign. But I must point out, that waste took place during Cegelis Team 1.5 ("Team 1.5").
Team 1.5 was the campaign crew that was mostly held over from Christine's initial insurgent run against Henry Hyde. They were still new to the game and, unfortunately, too damn naive. Team 1.5 were told by Dems Inc. that they would have to not only have to raise a hell of a lot of money -- see above -- but would have to run "a professional organization" staffed by "campaign professionals".
Yes, the very campaign "professionals" who bled Team 1.5 dry were recommended to the campaign by the same DC Dems who later lambasted the campaign for that waste.
After it became impossible to ignore the fact that the Dems Inc. folks were
So what's my point?
First, that fundraising was not a problem for the Cegelis campaign until it was deliberately impeded by the party leaders' vocal search for an alternative candidate. And second, that the wasteful flow of money out -- for which the campaign was rightfully beaten about the head and shoulders -- was due to its following the "professional" advice of "professionals" recommended by Dems Inc leadership. Both of which served to undermine the local candidate.
Is that tinfoil hat thinking? Nope, just go back to contemporaneous accounts of the primary race -- even by those who didn't support Christine -- and you will see that it is all there. I didn't bring it up earlier because I didn't want an honest review of the dishonest primary to distract from the party's campaign against a dangerous, right-wing nut-job.
Sadly, they managed to lose the race anyway.
But if you want to venture into the Land of Tinfoil Hats, consider for a moment how Mr. Emanuel's clipping of Cegelis served Mike Madigan's opposition to Illinois participation in Howard Dean's "50 State Plan".
Had Christine -- a member of the Dean Dozen -- won the primary, she
But to believe that, you would have to be some kind of conspiracy nut -- capable of believing that the Illinois Democratic party leaders might be more concerned with maintaining their personal political power via stability at all costs, rather than with promoting progressive values.
Only a nut could possibly consider even the possibility of such institutionalized sleaze -- right?
So what was the 6th District's reward for Dem Inc.'s cutting down their local progressive candidate? The willful decimation of a thriving grassroots organization.
Well, that and Representative Peter Roskam (IL-6).
First, I gotta ask the following: Had Christine Cegelis been the Democratic nominee who lost the general election, would Peter Roskam somehow be more of the Representative of the 6th District? Could he have been elected as some sort of Super-Representative if he had beaten a grassroots candidate? Would he get two votes in Congress?
So please don't tell me about how the Democratic nominee "came close."
As someone who's candidate "came close" in the primary, let me assure you that "close" doesn't count for squat. Close or not, the Republican candidate still won the damn election. Had Christine been unopposed by Dems Inc. in the primary, the worst case scenario, the absolute worst case scenario, would place us exactly where we are today -- with right-wing, extremist Peter Roskam as Rep-elect for the 6th District.
But that hypothetical loss would not have come at the cost of alienating anti-war Democrats and undermining the grass-roots Democrats in the 6th Dist/DuPage County.
During the primary, some new names and faces rose up as hard charging activists -- on the Internet and IRL -- through the Cegelis campaign. But very few of them were heard from during the general election campaign.
Some of them were no doubt turned off by the DC Dem's ham-fisted power-play -- not everyone loathes Peter Roskam enough to bite their tongue, swallow their pride and fall in line behind the nominee like I did -- but even more of them were not just turned off by the Duckworth campaign, but actually turned away. Repeated efforts to reach out to the nominee's team were rebuffed -- often in the snidest and snottiest terms.
I don't know if they were embarrassed because their primary race was razor close or if they simply have no respect for grassroots workers, but the early message from the Duckworth team was crystal clear. It couldn't have been clearer if the folks in the nominee's camp literally said, "We don't need Cegelis workers. We don't want Cegelis volunteers. Fuck you and fuck off!"*
And please don't tell me about how much the 6th Dist race drew GOP resources and money from other races that the Democrats won. That was purely the function of the money that Dems Inc. poured into the race. That money that was raised by the party, as the party, not by the nominee's personal fundraising prowess. The DCCC could have distracted and annoyed the GOP by expending a similar amount of money whether the candidate was Tammy Duckworth, Christine Cegelis or a McDonald's Happy Meal.
But the Happy Meal, although an actual 6th District Resident, would not have had deep and dynamic grassroots support. Christine Cegelis did. The nominee did not.
And so, the 6th District race was run by the professionals -- the people who know what it takes to win an election.
We all now know the results.
With a shoe-string budget, Christine Cegelis got 44% of the vote against Henry Hyde in 2004. In 2006, Dem Inc's candidate got 47% of the vote against the Republican party's non-incumbent, right-wing extremist.
A meager gain of just 3% -- in an election marked by a nation-wide Democratic tidal wave.
Do I think Christine Cegelis could have done better?
You're damn right I do.
*I did deal with one very pleasant Duckworth person via the internet very late in the campaign.
UPDATE: There are more comments and some remarks from Michael in Chicago over at SoapBlox.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Sadly, the Republicans running our country seem to stop giving a damn about American babies immediately after they leave their mothers wombs.
All children born in the U.S. are United States citizens. But the Bush-signed Deficit Reduction Act that went into effect in July prevents Medicaid from covering health care benefits to those born to undocumented residents -- unless the parents file proof of citizenship for the child, which is a catch-22 because the application form takes weeks or months and many of the immigrant parents don't want to alert authorities to their presence here.Those on the religious right often crow that God has turned away from America because America has turned from God. Actions like this should repulse any deity worthy of that title.
Hospitals are just now catching up with the law's demands and doctors are justifiably outraged:Dr. Jay E. Berkelhamer, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said the policy “punishes babies who, according to the Constitution, are citizens because they were born here.” Dr. Martin C. Michaels, a pediatrician in Dalton, Ga., said that continuous coverage in the first year of life was important because “newborns need care right from the start.”Compassionate conservatism at work. Vote these xenophobic louts out November 7. These babies are citizens and entitled to every advantage we can provide. Every child is entitled to an equal chance to succeed. Medical care during the first year of life is critical.
“Some Americans may want to grant amnesty to undocumented immigrants, and others may want to send them home,” Dr. Michaels said. “But the children who are born here had no say in that debate.”
There can be no doubt that immigration is a hot-button topic in this country, but does anyone really think it is best addressed by denying medical care to babies... to American babies?
There’s a lively debate among historians over the question of whether the record of the forty-third President, compiled with the indispensable help of a complaisant Congress, is the worst in American history or merely the worst of the sixteen who managed to make it into (if not out of) a second full term. That the record is appalling is by now beyond serious dispute. It includes an unending deficit—this year, it’s $260 billion—that has already added $1.5 trillion to the national debt; the subcontracting of environmental, energy, labor, and health-care policymaking to corporate interests; repeated efforts to suppress scientific truth; a set of economic and fiscal policies that have slowed growth, spurred inequality, replenished the ranks of the poor and uninsured, and exacerbated the insecurities of the middle class; and, on Capitol Hill, a festival of bribery. ***So here's our choice: If you not only like the fact that America has been circling the drain since the GOP took power in Washington, then you should vote for the Republican candidate.
In 2002 and 2004, the ruling party avoided retribution for offenses like these by exploiting the fear of terrorism. What is different this time is that the overwhelming failure of the Administration’s Iraq gamble is now apparent to all. This war of choice has pointlessly drained American military strength, undermined what had originally appeared to be success in Afghanistan, handed the Iranian mullahs a strategic victory, immunized the North Korean regime from a forceful response to its nuclear defiance, and compromised American leadership of the democratic world. You can read all about it, not only in the government’s own recently leaked National Intelligence Estimate, which reports that the Iraq war has intensified the danger of Islamist terrorism, but also in a shelf of books—a score or more of them, beginning two and a half years ago with Richard A. Clarke’s “Against All Enemies” and continuing through Bob Woodward’s “State of Denial”—that document the mendacity, incompetence, lawlessness, and ideological arrogance surrounding the origins and conduct of that war.
But if you think that America can and should do better, then you should vote for the Democrat.
It really is that simple.
Friday, November 03, 2006
I don't know why the Democrats don't just run an ad blitz for the next few days showing Bush's recent statement that he'll keep us in Iraq even if his only support comes from his wife and his dog, followed by the clip of him saying he'll never dump Rumsfeld.Why do I quote so many of Mark Evanier's blog postings?
At the end, just have an announcer come on and say, "Somebody's got to stop him... vote for the Democrat."
Because I'm afraid someone might catch me if I simply stole his brilliant ideas and claimed them as my own.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
From the Sun-Times:
46th: Democrat Joe Vosicky and Republican Dennis Reboletti are running for the seat held by former GOP House Leader Lee Daniels. Reboletti, an assistant state's attorney, has been active in local politics in the city of Elmhurst and Addison Township. We endorsed Vosicky in the 2004 race because of his concerns over the rising cost of health care and helping ex-offenders. We support him again.You can support Joe's hardworking and effective campaign by:
1. Calling the office at (630) 758-0100.No matter your campaign experience or inexperience, their staff will find the role where you can make a difference in this race.
2. E-mailing the campaign office.
One more vote can make a difference -- and one more volunteer can make all the difference in the world.
Monday, October 30, 2006
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
There is every indication is that this election will be a shockingly close race.
Getting out the vote will be key.
So if you don't get in touch with Joe Vosicky or Rob Bisceglie or Maj. Duckworth's people, I will just have to presume that you simply don't give a damn.
And the new formatting has made Neil Steinberg's column an unreadable mess.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
On Friday, the county's computer experts were trying to learn how the hacker got into the site; [DuPage County Election Commission Director Robert Saar] said registered voters and those who participate in the Nov. 7 election don't need to worry.And I'm certain that Mr. Sarr would also have claimed that the commission's web site was secure before it was hacked on Thursday... and again on Friday.
The intrusion didn't affect voter registration files, which are protected by additional firewalls, or the commission's vote-counting system, which is not connected to the Internet or to any other computer, he said.
Update Oct 29: I'm not the only one with doubts about voting in DuPage County.
From your Daily Herald:
That each and every American eligible to vote can make choices on whom they believe would best represent them in government is what makes living in a democracy so right.Yeah, I'm paranoid -- but am I paranoid enough?
But in planning an election, those running the election must anticipate everything that can go wrong. And troubleshoot accordingly.
And election administrators cannot put themselves in a position of being accused of conflicts of interest in awarding contracts. Not when they are overseers of one of the most sacred outcomes of our nation taking up arms for liberty.
Yet the DuPage Election Commission has come up short in both of these areas.
click the cartoon for an image that is actually legible
Friday, October 27, 2006
Which does nothing to explain why I am posting the trailer for The Dixie Chicks' "Shut Up and Sing."*
Oh yeah, I remember why I'm posting this -- It's 'cause Natalie Maines bitch-slapped George Bush when so few Americans had guts enough to question his invasion of Iraq.
But I still can't stomach their version of country music.
*Natalie's dad, Lloyd Maines, did work with the likes of Joe Ely, Terry Allen, Butch Hancock, Guy Clark, Radney Foster, Ted Roddy, Bruce Robison, Uncle Tupelo and Wilco. He even produced 1980's self-titled album by Chicago's country legends The Sundowners.
Anyone who wants to really help the Tammy Duckworth's 6th District campaign should get in touch with Democratic Illinois House candidates Joe Vosicky (Dist. 46) or Rob Bisceglie (Dist. 45).
They are both running professional, grassroots-driven state rep campaigns. They are both great guys and their grassroots bone fides are legit -- they're both friends of Christine Cegelis.
In addition, they are each working hard to take an open Illinois house seat. Open seats mean that these districts simply will never be more winnable for the Democrats than this year.
But most importantly, they know their districts better than anyone in the Duckworth camp ever could. I'm sure the Duckworth staff are nice folks, but Joe and Rob are grassroots, shoe-leather, door-knocking candidates. That means they know where their voters are -- and their voters are Tammy's voters.
There is literally nothing you could do that would be more helpful to Major Duckworth than to team up with the grassroots campaigns of Rob and/or Joe in the run up to the election.
www.votebisceglie.com or www.joevosicky.com
Tell 'em an imaginary friend sent you.
Photo credit: Mr. Wurf
UPDATE: Links are fixed -- now, use 'em!
Thursday, October 26, 2006
From the Associated Press:
Billy Joe Shaver has tied the knot - again.
Shaver, who wrote "Georgia on a Fast Train" and "I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal (But I'm Gonna Be a Diamond Someday)," married Wanda Lynn Canady in Las Vegas on Friday, according to a statement from Compadre Records, his Houston-based independent label.
Billy Gibbons, the bearded frontman for ZZ Top, presided over the ceremony. It was Shaver's second marriage to Canady, said Compadre spokesman Logan Rogers. The first marriage was annulled.
The 67-year-old country singer was married three times to his wife Brenda, who died in 1999. Their first two marriages ended in divorce.
Shortly after the latest wedding, Shaver cracked a vertebra while wrestling with a friend, Rogers told The Associated Press on Tuesday. He was expected to recover.
"He has had to cancel a few shows," Rogers said.And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your ass.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Hastert could well be the weakest House speaker in history. Tapped by Tom DeLay to serve as the mild-mannered frontman for the GOP leadership, the former wrestling coach ceded most of his power to the now-disgraced majority leader, allowing Republicans to treat the Capitol as their private piggy bank.Can you imagine getting such a terrible review from the same magazine that gave a steaming pile like "Steel Wheels" four stars?
Last year, Hastert got in on the action himself, secretly inserting $207 million into the budget for the "Prairie Parkway" -- a highway that will speed development of 210 acres he owns in Illinois. Before the year was out, Hastert sold part of his land -- soon to be the site of a sprawling subdivision -- for a profit of $2 million.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Dear Friends,via TPM Cafe
My name is Nicole Curtis-Torres. I’m a lifelong resident of Wheaton. Some of you may know my brother Master Sergeant Brian Curtis. Brian, like me, grew up in Wheaton and lived here until devoting himself full-time to the United States Army.
I am so proud of my brother – he is my hero. He’s been serving in the military for 20 years – 13 of which have been full-time in the Army. He is about to go back to Baghdad for his second tour. During this tour, he will be leading a team in weapons cache and IED disposal. IEDs have killed and injured so many of our soldiers and my brother works to make Iraq safe for our soldiers.
My brother selflessly puts his life on the line for all of us. He, like all of our soldiers, has made many great personal sacrifices for our country.
We need someone who has served in Iraq, we need someone who has seen the daily fighting in Iraq. Tammy has been there and she understands the sacrifices our Soldiers have made.
While at a coffee in Bloomingdale, I stood up to tell Tammy and the audience about Brian. While talking in front of the group, I became overwhelmed with emotion and began to cry. Tammy got off her chair, walked over and gave me a hug. For the first time, someone understood what I was going through.
Talking with her that night was the first time I was able to talk to someone who understood what it was like to have a loved one serving overseas. It was the first time I felt a connection with someone. Tammy understands how much I miss my brother, how proud I am and how angry I am.
When I talk to Tammy, I’m not talking to a politician – I’m talking to someone who understands how much I miss my brother. Tammy isn’t a politician, she’s a real person who understands what it is like to have a loved one in Iraq.
Talking to her was the first time I could say, “I’m scared as hell.” She understands what I go through everyday. He’s my brother – he’s my hero. This has been my own daily struggle and Tammy understands what it feels like.
Despite political differences, one thing all Americans can agree on is that we are all proud of those who serve in our armed forces. This fall, I will be supporting Tammy Duckworth because she is the type of person we need in Congress – she understands what is going on in Iraq.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
The lesson of this cartoon?
You don't have to know how to draw to be a professional cartoonist.
UPDATE: The Alias Kid, aka Kid Alias points out an additional lesson: You don't have be funny to get a spot on the funny pages.
Monday, October 16, 2006
And like it or not, Democrats face the same choice whether they decide to go to the polls or not.
I have pulled the lever over and over since my first vote in 1968 for Republicans. If I was a closet Democrat, I must have hidden it well, especially from myself, since I always beat up on Democrats in my columns. I have called them leftists, socialists, and every other name in the book, because I thought they were flat-out wrong.
And, for the most part, I still do. I am opposed to big government. I have little use for unions. I never liked the welfare plans. I am opposed to weak-kneed defense policies. I have always been for fiscal prudence. I think back to the policies of most Democrats, and I cringe.
So, what in the world has happened?
The Republican Party has changed, and it has changed monumentally.
You almost cannot be a victorious traditional Republican candidate with mainstream values in Johnson County or in Kansas anymore, because these candidates never get on the ballot in the general election. They lose in low turnout primaries, where the far right shows up to vote in disproportionate numbers.
To win a Republican primary, the candidate must move to the right.
What does to-the-right mean?
It means anti-public education, though claiming to support it.
It means weak support of our universities, while praising them.
It means anti-stem cell research.
It means ridiculing global warming.
It means gay bashing. Not so much gay marriage, but just bashing gays.
It means immigrant bashing. I'm talking about the viciousness.
It means putting religion in public schools. Not just prayer.
It means mocking evolution and claiming it is not science.
It means denigrating even abstinence-based sex education.
Note, I did not say it means "anti-abortion," because I do not find that position repugnant, at all. I respect that position.
But everything else adds up to priorities that have nothing to do with the Republican Party I once knew.That's why, in the absence of so-called traditional Republican candidates, the choice comes down to right-wing Republicans or conservative Democrats.
A couple of my Republican friends cite [Congressman John] Murtha's opposition to the war as the moment they knew it was lost, at least in terms of support from the U.S. citizenry.I think that Evanier is right.
Personally, I think the attempts to smear Murtha as a treasonous, pro-terrorist coward did a lot to make that happen.
By publicly and loudly attacking the character of a patriotic, moderate American just for doubting the failed Bush Iraq policy, the Republicans, by extension, attacked the nation's swing voters -- i.e. patriotic, moderate Americans who were beginning to doubt the failed Bush Iraq policy.
And it's gonna be pretty tough for the Republicans to put that toxic genie back in the bottle by November.
On a conference call today, James Carville suggested that the Democratic Party should expand beyond just the top targeted races. He believes the party should help fund previously ignored Democratic challengers in second- and third-tier districts -- the next 30 to 50 Republican-held seats -- to fully capitalize on this environment and help those candidates maximize their chances of winning. Carville went as far as to suggest Democrats go to the bank and borrow $5 million. If I were them, I'd make it $10 million and put $500,000 each of these 20 districts.The ability to take advantage of a situation just like this was the rationale for DNC Chairman Howard Dean's "50-State Strategy," which US News etc. described as "a multimillion-dollar program to rebuild the Democratic Party from the ground up."
Over the past year, the DNC has hired and trained four staffers for virtually every state party in the nation--nearly 200 workers in all--to be field organizers, press secretaries, and technology specialists, even in places where the party hasn't been competitive for decades. "It's a huge shift," Dean tells U.S. News. "Since 1968, campaigns have been about TV and candidates, which works for 10 months out of the four-year cycle. With party structure on the ground, you campaign for four years."Unfortunately, Dr. Dean's visionary strategy has received little or no support from Illinois' Democratic leaders.
DCCC Chair Rep. Rahm Emanuel risked starving the Dean plan in its infancy by demanding more Democratic cash for his pet districts at the expense of party-building in Red States. In addition, Illinois state party leaders have given Dean's team the cold shoulder. As a result, Dean's only in-road into downstate Red-Illinois is a lone outpost in Madison County.
If you back Dr. Dean's long term thinking, you can support the "50-State Strategy" here.
UPDATE OCT 17: Larry the Archpundit apparently thinks I have created a false dichotomy.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
On issues, the two have staked out clear platforms. Roskam is a conservative Republican on social issues and backs many of the policies of the Bush administration, most notably on the war in Iraq. He does differ from Bush on immigration and the No Child Left Behind education program. Duckworth is a moderate Democrat on social issues and has clear disagreement with the administration on the war. She believes our troops can start to come home if the administration puts money and its efforts in training Iraqi troops to handle their own security. She seeks accountability on the war from the administration to Congress on a regular basis.The Herald endorsement makes it clear: Peter Roskam's brand of authoritarian, fundamentalist hyper-conservatism is out of touch with the families of the 6th District.
We are closer to agreement with Duckworth than with Roskam on the war and several other key issues. She is in favor of the Senate immigration bill that charts a clear pathway to citizenship rather than the House bill Roskam supports that unilaterally and we believe unrealistically would try to send all undocumented immigrants back home.
Roskam is opposed to reinstating the federal assault weapons ban — a stance that puts him at odds even with the conservative Hyde — while Duckworth backs the ban, which expired in 2004. Roskam supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Duckworth sees the folly in amending the constitution for that issue. Duckworth supports embryonic stem cell research; Roskam is opposed.
Friday, October 13, 2006
A key player in the unfolding scandal involving teenage pages and a Florida lawmaker testified for more than four hours before a House ethics committee panel yesterday, repeating his assertions that Speaker J. Dennis Hastert's top aide had early warnings about the congressman's questionable behavior toward youths, according to the witness's attorney.In addition to Palmer, the ethics committe is investigating two other senior members of Hastert's staff, deputy chief of staff Mike Stokke and counsel Ted Van Der Meid.
Kirk Fordham, who was a chief of staff to then-Rep. Mark Foley (R), was consistent with his previous statements when he gave sworn testimony to a panel investigating the House's handling of Foley's actions, lawyer Timothy J. Heaphy told reporters after the two men emerged from an afternoon of questioning.
Fordham has said that he turned to Hastert's chief of staff, Scott Palmer, in 2003 in hopes of persuading Foley to stop showing so much interest in teenage pages, who work for a semester or two on Capitol Hill. Fordham has said Palmer later assured him that he had met privately with Foley and had informed Hastert (R-Ill.) of the situation.
Who are these gentlemen who may or may not have passed information about Foley's advances on teenagers -- and who may or may not have brought Denny's reign as Speaker of the House to an end? The Washington Post, again, gives us the scoop:
Sure current and former Republican leaders -- and their staffers -- are now questioning Denny's team, Denny's judgment and the wisdom of Denny's remaining as Speaker, but this Illinois liberal is firmly behind Denny.
The three -- chief of staff Scott Palmer, deputy chief of staff Mike Stokke and counsel Ted Van Der Meid -- have formed a palace guard around Hastert (R-Ill.) for years, attaining great degrees of power and unusual autonomy to deal with matters of politics, policy and House operations. They are also remarkably close. Palmer and Stokke have been with Hastert for decades. They live together in a Capitol Hill townhouse and commute back to Illinois on weekends.
It is that relationship that has made investigators so interested in their knowledge of Foley's contacts with teenage male congressional pages, especially allegations that his chief of staff personally appealed to Palmer in 2003 to confront the Florida Republican. Foley resigned Sept. 29 when news reports indicated he had sent electronic messages to a former page.
"It would be very hard to believe if Palmer knew that kind of detail, he wouldn't have acted upon it, and it's hard to imagine Scott Palmer would have spared the speaker that knowledge," said one former Republican leadership aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of jeopardizing his lobbying contacts. ***
The speaker's own timeline points to Van Der Meid and Stokke as central players in the Foley matter. After Alexander's staff alerted a low-level Hastert aide in the fall of 2005, Stokke directed the information to Van Der Meid. Later that day, Stokke met with Alexander's chief of staff, then summoned Trandahl to the speaker's office. Later, Trandahl informed Van Der Meid that action had been taken to stop Foley's communications with the Louisiana youth.
A senior GOP aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said it made little sense to have a political hand such as Stokke handle the Foley matter, a delicate issue involving personnel questions and possible legal violations.
"Did they make an affirmative decision to have the political guy work on this?" the GOP staffer asked. "It clearly was a bad damn idea."
Nowhere in the speaker's timeline is Palmer mentioned. But former leadership aides question how a powerful chief of staff could have been left out of such complicated deliberations and how they would have been kept from Hastert.
Who would have guessed that the answer to Democratic prayers would be J. Dennis Hastert?
Monday, October 09, 2006
Hastert now figures he can brazen this one out because there are so many stories floating around that people won't line them up in order and realize what they show.I just hope that the House Republicans don't cut and run before George "34%" Bush and Denny "-52%" Hastert have their October 12 fundraiser for Creepy Pete Roskam.
Read it over and it's hard to come to any conclusion but that that Hastert and especially his Chief of Staff Scott Palmer have been caught in a lie.
Whatcha gonna do with all that money
Whatcha gonna do when that money's all gone
-- James McMurtry, "God Bless America"
Americana superhero, James McMurtry is making downloads of the "God Bless America" rough mix available for free:
I had meant to wait until I was finished overdubbing before putting this song out, but our brave legislators have once again outdone themselves in their acquiescence to the executive by passing the detainee bill. We refer to foreign governments that employ all-powerful executive branches as dictatorships, but we're still supposed to think of our own government as democratic.The song can be downloaded here.
I'm appalled at the spinelessness of Republican legislators. I guess they still think they'll be invited to the feast. They will be, but only if they continue to watch their mouths.
Here's video of Clint Curtis, a former programmer for Yang Enterprises (YEI) in Florida, testifying under oath that Representative Tom Feeney asked him to write a voting machine program to rig elections. Feeney is Republican Congressman who was the Speaker of the House of Florida at the time, as well as a lobbyist for Yang Enterprises, and Yang Enterprises' corporate attorney. *** In the video, Curtis testifies that Feeney asked him to write a program for touchscreen voting machines that could undetectably "flip the vote 51-49 to whoever you wanted it to go to and whichever race you wanted to win."I don't know much about computers, but I do know that if a machine can be hacked, it will be hacked -- and every machine can be hacked.
Paper, by contrast, is notoriously difficult to hack.
UPDATE, OCT 10: An anonymous commenter informs us that Tom Feeney's chief of staff, Jason C. Roe, is currently on a leave of absence to work as the campaign manager for Creepy Pete Roskam.
Rollcall -- via FlashReport -- confirms.
Sunday, October 08, 2006
In his fictional defense of Denny Hastert, Ray LaHood once again appears unstressed and unburdened by such an intellect.
From Think Progress:
LaHood falsely claimed, “When Tom [DeLay] was having ethical problems, the speaker wen to him and asked him to leave.” ***TP has the video.
In reality, Hastert repeatedly defended DeLay’s ethical misconduct and attempted to shield him from any responsibility. Hastert replaced the Republican Chairman of the House ethics committee, Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO), after the committee admonished DeLay. The House, under Hastert’s leadership, then passed a rule change that would have shielded DeLay from having to step down from his leadership post if he were indicted. The rule was later rescinded. DeLay resigned only after “a Texas grand jury indicted him and two associates on charges of conspiracy in fundraising.”
UPDATE: Crooks and Liars noted that CBS' Bob Schieffer struggled mightily to stifle his laughter when Lahood, who was on Face the Nation to defend Denny's
Lahood: Look at, I give Speaker Hastert high marks for strong leadership. He took care of Tom DeLay, his best friend. When Tom was having ethical problems, the speaker went to him and asked him to leave. When he appointed Duke Cunningham to the intelligence committee, he went to Duke and made sure he wasn't on the intelligence committee after it was disclosed he took 2.3 million dollars. And when Bob Ney was appointed chairman of the House administration committee, he was appointed by Speaker Hastert. Speaker Hastert went to him and told him to step down from that committee after the Abramoff disclosures. Hastert has the ability to take on these big ethical challenges that our party has faced…Shorter LaHood: When the crooks Denny appoints to leadership positions get caught, Denny often asks them to step down.
Bob: But, but…[chuckle]..what you're saying when you list all that, Congressman, is that he did appoint some of these people who turned out to be crooks. So doesn't he have something to answer for there?
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