Sunday, April 30, 2006

May Day! May Day!

From NPR's All Things Considered:
On May 4, 1886, a bomb went off in Chicago that ignited one of the nation's first red scares. The blast killed seven police officers and led to the hanging of four anarchists accused of plotting the attack.

Historian James Green's book Death in the Haymarket explores the tensions that led to the explosion and the panic that followed. ***

Q: What's the difference between May Day and Labor Day?

A: In almost every country around the world, May Day is the principal workers' holiday. It is a day of strikes, rallies and demonstrations, often linked to demands for shorter hours. Within the international labor movement, the May Day protest tradition got its start in the United States. Today, however, the United States is the great exception to the May Day tradition. Our end-of-summer Labor Day holiday was developed as an official government alternative to the labor movement's May Day rallies. One central difference: May Day has always been linked to the demand for less work and more pay; Labor Day celebrates the "dignity" of work.

You can listen to the full interview, read an excerpt and hear James Green read from his book at NPR here.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

I Told You It Was Good

From the Best Comics of 2005 issue of The Comics Journal:
A couple of years back I called this webcomic the funniest strip on the Internet. Allow me to amend that: Achewood is the funniest comics strip currently being produced in the English language. Taking full advantage of the lack of editorial insight and timidity he'd be laboring under if signed to an actual newspaper syndicate, Onstad regularly leaps from rude humor to character-based comedy to out-an-out weirdness with the grace and skill of a practiced acrobat -- the Cartilage Head sequence from September 2005 may well be the most surreal comics narrative I've read since Ed the Happy Clown. Every time I think I know where this strip is going. Onstad proves me wonderfully, wonderfully wrong. I love that.
-- Dirk Deppy, Managing Editor of The Comics Journal.

I cannot lie: Achewood is my favorite comic strip, and on some days it's my favorite comic, period. It takes a little reading to get into Chris Onstad's mindset, and then it becomes the funniest thing ever. The past year has been exceptional. Onstad is like the Thomas Edison of being hilarious.
-- Shaenon Garrity, Narbonic creator and editor for Viz.
Achwood: Read It. Love It. Buy a T-Shirt.

PAC Man Fever

I gotta pocket full of quarters, and I'm headed to the arcade.
I don't have a lot of money but I'm bringing everything I've made.
I've gotta callus on my finger, and my shoulder's hurtin' too.
I'm gonna eat 'em all up, just as soon as they turn blue.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has raised more than $1.3 million since 1999 through his leadership committee, the Prairie PAC, steering much of it to his fellow Senate Democrats as well as to local Illinois candidates and party committees. ***

Freshman Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., set up a leadership PAC days after he was sworn in last January. With almost $3 million in receipts so far, the rising Democratic star's PAC, Hopefund, has already raised more than that of any other local lawmaker this election cycle. ***

Durbin, for example, has contributed more than $200,000, or about 61 percent of his total expenditures, to other candidates so far this cycle. His PAC has two part-time fundraising consultants, no paid staff and relatively little overhead. Michael Daly, Durbin's Illinois chief of staff, serves as the committee's treasurer, receiving expense reimbursements, not a salary.

"We're pretty tight with the dollar," Durbin said. "What I'm trying to do is help other people get started in politics." ***

Obama's PAC, by contrast, has spent about $2 million so far this election cycle, with about 18 percent, or $365,000, going to other candidates.

Obama's Hopefund has five paid staffers: a communications director, a political director, two fundraisers and an administrator. The PAC has also spent more than $80,000 in consulting fees, more than $90,000 on travel and $28,000 in rent, among other expenses.

As a percentage of expenditures, the Hopefund's candidate contributions were the lowest of any local lawmaker's PAC. ***

Several PAC officials noted that their contribution totals would grow as the election draws closer.

Robert Gibbs, a spokesman in Obama's Senate office and for the Hopefund PAC, defended the PAC's expenditures, noting that it had contributed the maximum to every competitive Senate Democrat without a primary and still had nearly $900,000 to give before November.

In addition to giving directly to candidates, Gibbs added, Obama has used his PAC to travel around the country for fundraising events. Obama is a major draw for Democratic hopefuls, who have barraged his office with requests for him to appear at their events.

Indeed, Obama's presence at a fundraiser can be much more valuable - attracting hundreds of thousands of dollars - than a donation from his PAC, which is limited to $5,000 per election (primary and general). ***

Gibbs also said that because Obama's PAC was new, it had many big-ticket startup costs that had eaten up significant resources. For example, Gibbs noted that the PAC invested heavily in establishing a direct mail list, at a cost of more than $350,000. That expense could reap big and ongoing dividends in future years, both for the Hopefund and for Obama himself, if the PAC cultivates a long list of loyal donors.
Now I've got 'em on the run, and I'm looking for the high score.
So it's once around the block, and I'll slide back out the side door.
I'm really cookin' now, eating everything in sight.
All my money's gone, so I'll be back tommorow night.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Keep on Rockin' in The Free World Wide Web

From Rolling Stone:
Just seven months after the release of Neil Young's laid-back country/rock record Prairie Wind comes it's complete antithesis: the hard-rocking, furiously politically charged Living With War. Cut in two frenzied weeks at a Los Angeles studio, the album will begin streaming for free on this Friday, before its release through digital retailers on May 2nd.
RS also has "some first impressions" of Living With War's tracks, for what that's worth.

So I Don't Have To

Click the image to Get Your War On!

Today Is A Blogging Sickday

Click Image for Legiblity

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

"One Meeeeellion Dollars!"

Yesterday, you learned that Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) is backing the telecomunications bill that will corporatize your internet and gut your ability to be heard in the marketplace of ideas.

Today, Lynn Sweet of your Chicago Sun-Times tells us why Bobby Rush is selling your internet:
An Englewood community center founded by Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), a key player on telecommunications legislation, received a $1 million grant from the charitable arm of SBC/AT&T, one of the nation's largest phone companies. ***

"It is a clear conflict of interest for Rep. Rush to weigh in on this bill," said Sheila Krumholz, the acting executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, which researches money in politics. "People can disagree about where to draw the line on contributions and abstaining from votes, but $1 million is definitely over that line."

Rush is the only Democrat to sponsor the "Communications Opportunity Promotion and Enhancement Act of 2006." He has been working with committee chair Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) to promote the "Barton-Rush" bill.
But it's still not too late to let Rep. Rush know what you think of his sell out to TelCom Inc.

Monday, April 24, 2006

These Items Are Unrelated

From the must-read Beachwood Reporter:
The professional monitors over at the Sun-Times gave over the top half of its front page on Sunday to advertising its White Sox "mini-baseballs" promotion, including prominent mention of participating retailers Walgreens, 7-Eleven, White Hen, and Speedway. Then it published a page three "news" story by staff reporter Shamus Toomey about the promotion. Another "news" story appears on page three today.
From the Chicago Headline Club:
The Chicago Headline Club will not present an Ethics in Journalism Award this year. The organization's board of directors decided that this year's nominees failed to demonstrate the high standards required for the honor.

The Ethics in Journalism Award has been presented annually since 1996. The award honors Chicago area reporters, editors or news organizations that distinguish themselves in journalism by performing in an ethical and sensitive manner.
Completely unrelated.

Your Personal Freedom is NOT in Their Corporate Interest

Lifted in its entirety from MyDD:
Background on the Issue: The internet is open because private companies haven't been allowed to block content they don't like. Now the telcos want to make it so they can block what you see.

The Threat to You is real: Telcos have already blocked competing services, censored emails, and political web sites of unions negotiating with them. Why do you assume they care about your rights?

Come On, This Isn't Really Happening: Fine, don't believe me. Ignore the fact that the CEO of AT&T is on record that this is going to happen. You can pretend that this won't affect you, if you want.

'Net Neutrality': A Simple Explanation: Annoying tech issue, maybe, but you can watch this this simple video explanation.

Explaining the Players in the Fight: It's a corporate cartel with bought and paid lobbyists versus a free market and citizens groups.

Can we win this fight? Yes, we can. Congress isn't that set on giving away the internet. They just don't understand the issues involved and don't think anyone's paying attention.

What You Should Link to:
Moveon Petition
Save the Internet on MySpace

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Illinois) supports the content blocking bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas). Barton's bill would turn your Internet over to the corporate telecom companies and gag independent voices with a "two-tiered" Internet in which a corporate-approved content providers would have their services delivered faster.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Fate of Officials 'A'

From MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
KEITH OLBERMANN, HOST: First off, the baseline here. Has the status of the Fitzgerald grand jury changed? Has the status of Mr. Rove in the investigation process itself changed?

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, first, on the investigation, defense lawyers say that the grand jury investigation is active again, and that the panel has been meeting in recent weeks, although prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was not seen at the grand jury this week and hasn‘t been seen there at some—for some time.

Now, regarding Karl Rove, the—according to the latest documents, for the first time, Rove is now described as a subject in the overall case, a subject being a technical term meaning that somebody is under investigation. And the latest prosecution documents also go out of their way to suggest that Rove is not going to be a prosecution witness at the Libby trial, even though Rove is part of the narrative against Scooter Libby.

And the reason that‘s significant is because prosecutors usually don‘t put subjects on the witness stand for tactical reasons if they want to leave open the possibility of later charging that particular subject in a separate case.

The other thing that has long been intriguing about Karl Rove, and that is, we‘ve known for months that in the Scooter Libby indictment, when they referred to official A, official A is Karl Rove. And the indictment against Libby says that official A disclosed to Scooter Libby that he had had a conversation with columnist Robert Novak.

The reason prosecutors describe an official as an official A is when there‘s pejorative information about that person, and the person has not yet been indicted and had a chance to defend themselves. But we‘ve looked at prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald‘s record as far as designating people as official A or official B, and in every single case we have found, Keith, that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, when he designates somebody as official A in an indictment, that person eventually does get indicted themselves.

And that‘s why, I think, with everything coming together, there‘s so much intrigue tonight about Karl Rove.

And, as fans of Illinois politics and Patrick Fitzgerald's investigations know, our own dear Governor Blagojevich has been tagged to as “Official A.”

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Design Within DuPage

Via Gapers Block:
Design Within Reach is holding its first Chicago-area warehouse sale tomorrow through Monday, with items up to 75 percent off. The only catch is, the warehouse is in Downers Grove.
So if you head on over to 1013 Butterfield Road, you can buy something nice -- maybe something new from Brazil -- and annoy a hipster all in one stroke.

Does This Mean I May Not Actually Be Nuts?

From your Chicago Tribune:
Most of the experts who prepared the world's leading medical guide to mental illness had undisclosed financial relationships with drug companies that presented potential conflicts of interest, according to a new report published Thursday in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

The study is the first to document extensive monetary connections between drug companies, psychiatrists and other scientists responsible for the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. ***

Of particular concern, Krimsky suggested, is his study's finding that 100 percent of the experts on DSM-IV panels overseeing mood disorders and schizophrenia/psychotic disorders were financially involved with the drug industry. These are the largest categories of psychiatric drugs in the world -- 2004 sales of $20.3 billion and $14.4 billion respectively. ***

[T]he original 1952 DSM manual contained 107 mental health disorders. By the fourth edition in 1994, the number had more than tripled to 365.
I don't want to be "glib," but you know that Tom Cruise and his fellow Scientologists are just going to have a field day with this.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

UPDATED -- Wheaton College: The Gays Are Coming! The Gays Are Coming!

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
They are heading to evangelical Christian colleges across the country spreading their own message: God loves everyone, including homosexuals.

And this week the Soulforce Equality Riders, composed of 33 gay activists, will park their bus at Wheaton College where the president is somewhat confounded by their arrival and what appears to be a confrontation on the horizon.

"Sexual intimacy belongs within the confines of marriage. We don't single out homosexuals. But we do stand on historical, biblical Christian beliefs that have remained the same over the centuries, so that we should be on the receiving end of this seems odd," said President Duane Litfin. ***

Organizer Jacob Reitan says a Wheaton College student, who not only was "in the closet" but saw his homosexuality as a sin, inspired the ride.

"I asked him what was it like to be a gay student at Wheaton. He said, 'You know I can't come out, if I did, I might be kicked out,' " Reitan said. "Three years ago, I promised him that God loves him and affirms him."

Reitan hopes that student, now a senior, and others will discuss homosexuality with gay and lesbian students sitting comfortably at the table.
UPDATE: I received a copy of the president's letter from an alum -- "I really wish I didn’t have the school’s name tied to me forever" -- concerned with the college's reaction to the visiting students.
Date: Tue, 18 Apr 2006 16:13:15 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Wheaton College President's Office"
Subject: Request for Prayer

Dear XXX,

I write to ask you for your prayers.

On Thursday and Friday of this week we will be visited by a group of homosexual activists traveling on a bus tour across the United States to various Christian college campuses. Their agenda is to draw negative media attention to institutions who maintain an historic biblical stand on the issue of homosexuality. This, of course, Wheaton does. (See Wheaton's Community Covenant) Hence our place on their list of targeted institutions.

We did not invite these visitors to our campus. But since they are intent on coming anyway, we decided to make a virtue out of a necessity by turning their coming into a teaching opportunity for our students. Given the ongoing changes in our culture, today’s students are potentially facing a lifetime of confrontations over the issue of homosexuality. What should be their Christian response? We have endeavored to prepare our students to respond to these visitors with the biblical balance captured in the injunction to “speak the truth in love.”

Wheaton’s provost, Dr. Stan Jones, a psychologist who has done extensive work in the area of human sexuality, has prepared a biblical rebuttal to the false teaching of this group. (See “CACE Resources on Homosexuality”) These and other written materials, along with various scheduled meetings and chapels, have been devoted to helping our students understand the many issues and shape a balanced Christian response. This process has been highly educational for all involved.

After this event is over, we will let you know how it went. In the meantime, please pray for us, asking that God will be glorified, His truth will be upheld with grace and humility, and our Christian witness to a watching world will be an effective one.

Thank you.

Duane Litfin
Wheaton College
Mr. Litfin's claim that the school is under seige by gay homosexual activists is in stark contrast to this statement on the Soulforce website:
Wheaton administrators have worked closely with Soulforce Equality Ride members to plan two days of several forums and events. The members of the Soulforce Equality Ride look forward to our time at Wheaton and are confident that it will be an excellent learning opportunity for all people involved.
Now this would just be a case of he said/she said, except that the provost of Wheaton College addressed the issue of the Soulforce visit on WGN-AM this morning -- and he said that the school invited the student activists and that they welcomed the opportunity to discuss important issues that will face Wheaton College students when they leave the school.

So it seems that Wheaton College is crying out about an invasion of gay homosexual activists in its communications with its hyper-conservative alumni/donors, but when it talks to the rest of Chicagoland about the visit it puts on a much more moderate face.

If an individual did this, you would not hesitate to say that person is a hypocrite -- or, perhaps, bi-curious.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Monday, April 17, 2006

New Look

Hastert's Vietnam Tour

Lynn Sweet of your Chicago Sun-Times, highlighted a key passage in Reuters' report on Denny Hastert's visit to Vietnam:
Reuters reported that Hastert is asking Congress to allow Vietnam to join the World Trade Organization, saying the "greater good" outweighed human rights concerns. Hastert told reporters on a three-day visit to Vietnam that some members would put religious and human rights constraints on any trade bill.

"But in the long run for the greater good it is important for us to pass this legislation," said Hastert, an Illinois Republican who led a delegation of House members to Hanoi to meet government leaders.
China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and now Vietnam...

Has there ever be a single instance where the advocates of global corporatization didn't determine that, once again, the "greater good" outweighed human rights concerns? Will there ever be a case where the rights of human beings are seen as a "greater good" than the amoral rush for even greater corporate profits?

And let's take a moment to congratulate Denny on the good news that his sports injury is no longer keeping him out of Vietnam.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Money in the Bank

Coming out of the primary, Peter Roskam (R) has three times a much cash on hand as Tammy Duckworth (D), according to your Chicago Tribune.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

"Greater Asia"

From Richard Roper in your Chicago Sun-Times:
In many Asian cultures, there's no real fear of the number 13 -- it's four that's feared.

The Chinese word for four sounds like "death." Japanese and Korean cultures share an aversion to the number. There's no "4" series for Nokia cell phones.
Nokia is headquartered in Espoo, Finland.

While You Were Out

To: Billy Weinberg, Friends of Tammy Duckworth
From: So-Called "Austin Mayor"
Subject: Please call Bill Thomasson of Oak Park, ASAP.

From your Elk Grove Times:
Bill Thomasson, an Oak Park resident, spent part of two years walking precincts and canvassing on behalf of the Cegelis campaign. He and others haven't heard from Duckworth yet and they're waiting.

"I think her campaign knows that they need to reach out. I am kind of at the point where I'm going to sit back and see what they are going to do before I decide what I am going to do," Thomasson said. ***

Thomasson said the fastest way to get people like him on board with Duckworth would be to announce a combined campaign with all the Democratic candidates in the 6th District.

"Under that type of an arrangement, I would have no problem passing out Tammy Duckworth literature along with literature from local candidates, working for [Duckworth]," he said.

It would show long-suffering local Democrats that Duckworth is committed to a district long considered too conservative to be bothered with by Dem candidates, Thomasson said.

"What Tammy Duckworth needs to demonstrate to us is that she has what it takes to win in the 6th District which is dominated by Republicans," he said.
And Billy, you really oughtta give Rob Bisceglie and Joe Vosicky a call too.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Mass Marriage v. Mass. Marriage

While reading my dead tree edition of your Chicago Tribune, the pages became disordered and these two stories were briefly juxtaposed.

And it got me to thinking.

How is it that America's right-wing religious hardliners find the marriage of two individuals who love each other and want to spend their lives caring for each other illegitimate because the couple looks like this:

But they never suggest that Moonie mass marriages -- even the unions of individuals have never even met each other prior to the wedding -- are illegitimate. Nope a mass marriage of 4,600 couples -- conducted by "humanity's savior, messiah, returning lord and true parent" -- is just hunky dory because the couples look like this:

It's just something I'll keep in mind the next time someone attempts to justify opposition to marriage equality by saying the legal union of two people who know, love and care for each other and have committed their lives to each other is just too drastic a deviation from the American tradition of marriage.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Si, Se Puede?

Guess whose got a new subscription to The Atlantic?

Also from this month's issue, Clive Crook proposes a first step in immigration reform that seems first rate to me:
Congress and the administration should heed the demands of many American businesses and lift restrictions on the immigration of highly skilled workers. For the country at large, this would yield nothing but benefits.

America is short of many kinds of skilled workers, which is why wages for such people are rising faster than average wages. Increasing the supply from abroad would slow, and conceivably even reverse, the trend of worsening inequality. Highly skilled workers, of course, pay more in taxes than they consume in public services: far from adding to the fiscal burden, they ease it, and everybody else benefits. And since they are well educated and most likely fluent in English, they assimilate readily. ***

It is the American way — so what is the problem? The only drawback to this kind of liberalization, from a global point of view, is that it seems perverse to draw skilled workers from backward countries *** where they are so badly needed, and bring them to the United States, which already has so many. And that argument probably applies with even greater force to educated immigrants from, say, Mexico or Nigeria.

One answer to this concern is that immigrants send money back home. *** According to most studies, countries such as Mexico and India, which receive huge flows of remittances, are probably net fiscal beneficiaries from outward migration. That is fine, but there is a much better answer: namely, that no country has the right to keep its citizens locked in, or should expect America’s help in doing that — not even if it would add to the gross domestic product.

If America’s interests are served by letting many more highly skilled immigrants come to this country, and if those immigrants calculate that migrating is in their interests as well, that is all you need to know.
I am probably one of the highly skilled workers whose wages are rising faster than average wages. And, therefore, my wage increases would likely be slowed by an influx of skilled immigrants. But personally, it would be worthwhile to accept a lower wage increase rate in order to have enough skilled workers to keep the the United States' economy vital and growing.

Only the hyper-rich can divorce their personal well being from the economic well-being of the nation as a whole. If the U.S. economy -- the growth of which has been driven by entrepeneurship and highly skilled labor for the last 20 years -- goes in the tank it will take even us "highly skilled workers" down with it. So it seems to me that a policy permitting additional highly skilled immigrants into the U.S. would be in my long term interests, even if it does put some downward pressure on my future wage growth. And from a social-justice point of view, it is more appealing for the nation's highly skilled workers whose wages have been increasing faster than average to bear more of the burden of strengthening our economy.

Naturally, I would rather have the hyper-rich carry more of the load. But, as noted above, the hyper-rich have to a great degree extricated themselves from our national economy. So that just leaves the members of the working class to keep this nation's economy growing -- and those in the lower-middle class and below simply are not in a postition where they can make many more economic sacrifices. They have taken a beating from every recession, but economic recoveries don't seem to trickle down any more.

Of course, if so many highly skilled immigrants are brought in that it drives down the wages of highly skilled workers rather than just slowing their rate of wage increase -- well, then I'll probably be out in the streets buring tires in protest.

The Atlantic: Not IF We're Screwed, But HOW BADLY We're Screwed

Back in December 2004 issue of The Atlantic, James Fallows wrote about a “war game” designed to explore the United States' options for addressing Iran's nuclear ambitions. In the current issue, Fallows revisits the the U.S. options, and things have not improved:
The experts disagreed on some details but were nearly unanimous on one crucial point: what might seem America’s ace in the hole — the ability to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations in a pre-emptive air strike — was a fantasy. When exposed to “What then?” analysis, this plan (or a variant in which the United States looked the other way while Israel did the job) held more dangers than rewards for the United States. How could this be, given America’s crushing strength and wealth relative to Iran’s? There were three main problems:
  • The United States was too late. Iran’s leaders had learned from what happened to Saddam Hussein in 1981, when Israeli F-16s destroyed a facility at Osirak where most of his nuclear projects were concentrated. Iran spread its research to at least a dozen sites — exactly how many, and where, the U.S. government could not be sure.
  • The United States was too vulnerable. Iran, until now relatively restrained in using its influence among the Iraqi Shiites, “could make Iraq hell,” in the words of one of our experts, Kenneth Pollack, of the Brookings Institution. It could use its influence on the world’s oil markets to shock Western economies — most of all, that of the world’s largest oil importer, the United States.
  • The plan was likely to backfire, in a grand-strategy sense. At best, it would slow Iranian nuclear projects by a few years. But the cost of buying that time would likely be a redoubling of Iran’s determination to get a bomb — and an increase in its bitterness toward the United States.

That was the situation nearly two years ago. Everything that has changed since then increases the pressure on the United States to choose the “military option” of a pre-emptive strike — and makes that option more ruinously self-defeating. ***

Every tool at Iran’s disposal is now more powerful, and every complication for the United States worse, than when our war-gamers determined that a pre-emptive strike could not succeed. Iran has used the passing time to disperse, diversify, conceal, and protect its nuclear centers. Instead of a dozen or so potential sites that would have to be destroyed, it now has at least twice that many. The Shiite dominance of Iraq’s new government and military has consolidated, and the ties between the Shiites of Iran and those of Iraq have grown more intense. Early this year, the Iraqi Shiite warlord Muqtada al-Sadr suggested that he would turn his Mahdi Army against Americans if they attacked Iran. ***

By giving public warnings, the United States and Israel “create ‘excess demand’ for military action,” as our war-game leader Sam Gardiner recently put it, and constrain their own negotiating choices. The inconvenient truth of American foreign policy is that the last five years have left us with a series of choices — and all of them are bad. ***

[T]he United States can’t accept Iran’s emergence as a nuclear power, but it cannot prevent this through military means — unless it is willing to commit itself to all-out war. The central flaw of American foreign policy these last few years has been the triumph of hope, wishful thinking, and self-delusion over realism and practicality. Realism about Iran starts with throwing out any plans to bomb.

And we all know the prominent role that "realism" has played in the George W. Bush administration.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Bush Imagines Victory Over Imaginary Proponents of Iranian Nukes

From Mark Silva out of The Swamp of your Chicago Tribune:
Bush conceded that he himself had elevated rhetoric about Iran when he identified Iran, Iraq and North Korea as three threats during his State of the Union address in 2002. But since then, he said today, other nations have joined the U.S. in attempting to avert the development of nuclear weaponry in Iran.

"I got out a little early on the issue by saying, 'axis of evil,'" Bush said at Johns Hopkins. "But I meant it... I saw it as a problem," he said of Iran’s designs for nuclear power. "But now many others have come to the conclusion that Iran should not have a nuclear weapon."
Far be it from me to question the president's gift for "getting out a little early," but can anyone name even a single individual who ever thought that Iran should have a nuclear weapon?

Just one person for Iranian nukes?


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Broken Army

From the San Antonio Express-News:
The Army expects to be short 2,500 captains and majors this year, with the number rising to 3,300 in 2007. These officers are the Army's seed corn, the people who 10 years from now should be leading battalions and brigades.

"We're ruining an Army that took us 30 years to build," Republican maverick Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., told a group of reporters at a recent conference. ***

The Army denies the shortage is a crisis, but its top civilian, Francis J. Harvey, acknowledged concerns, telling the Washington Post: "We are worried."
I have no idea how Bush plans on attacking Iran without a nuclear first strike, a draft or -- more likely -- both.

UPDATE -- If you're too tired to read the New Yorker article, you can watch Seymour Hersh talking to Wolf Blitzer from the tee-vee.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Unchecked Executive

From page 9 of your Chicago Tribune:
Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales told lawmakers Thursday warrantless spying on purely domestic phone calls between Americans on U.S. soil was an option in the war on terrorism.

In a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Gonzales said, "I'm not going to rule it out."

He said administration lawyers would have to look at what other presidents have authorized in times of war.
There was a time when an administration's claim of unlimited presidential power over Americans would have merited a spot somewhere on the Tribune's front page.

UPDATE -- "Obviously we have a commander-in-chief who believes that anything in the name of fighting terrorism he has the authority to do. I would remind people who don‘t feel concerned about that, that a nation that loses control in the check on its the commander-in-chief is something other than a democracy." -- John Dean, Nixon White House counsel and author of “Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush.”

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Art Crime

If you get downtown, be sure to check out the ANDY WARHOL/SUPERNOVA: Stars, Deaths, and Disasters, 1962-1964 exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.

Reminder 1: "Photography and filming are not permitted in the galleries,

"this includes cell phone cameras and video cameras." -- MCA Chi

Reminder 2: "Art is what you can get away with." -- Andy Warhol, (1928-1987)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Correction and Suggestion

Sir or Madam,

In their Chicago Tribune editorial, Thomas Geoghegan and James Warren misquoted Thomas Jefferson as saying, "If I had to choose between newspapers without government and government without newspapers, I'd choose the latter." That is not only incorrect, it completely reverses the intention of Jefferson's actual quote by asserting the primacy of the government over the press.

The actual quote was, " [W]ere it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter." --Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 16 Jan. 1787, Papers 11:48-49.

In the future, I hope that the Tribune editorial page will trust that its readers can negotiate the actual language of Jefferson, which is only slightly more awkward than this unfortunate paraphrasing.

-- So-Called "Austin Mayor"

Update -- The Tribune regrets the errors:
A Commentary page article Tuesday on newspapers and democracy misquoted Thomas Jefferson. A correct version is: "...and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them."
The quotation is attributed to a letter by Jefferson found in "The Papers of Thomas Jefferson," according to A Dictionary of Quotations, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress.

Does this make me a bad person?

I'm setting the over-under at 24 months.

I'm Innocent!

Is Austin Mayor Using Spin to Cover-up Assault On Citizen?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Cartoon Spurs Taliban-Style Prosecution

Sadly, this story of backwards, sex-obsessed, anti-freedom police action takes place is your United States of America.

From the Book Standard:
The section from Nick Bertozzi’s graphic novel The Salon begins like this: the artist Georges Braque is led into Pablo Picasso’s studio by a nude model. Picasso, the model explains, is enraptured by his art – “he’s in there masturbating” – and is angry at Braque for interrupting. The painter, as it happens, is also completely naked. After some blustering, punctuated by caustic interjections from the model (“Go fuck yourself, little man”), Picasso realizes that Braque is a fellow artist and embraces him as a brother – still naked.

This scene was included in a sample issue by the small press Alternative Comics and was distributed on Free Comic Book Day on July 3, 2004, in shops across the country. One such shop was Legends, in Rome, GA, where some 25 copies were given to patrons without incident. But— say lawyers of the shop’s owner, Gordon Lee — a single copy found its way to the back room of Legends. It remained there until October 30, 2004, when it was placed in a Halloween giveaway pile and was handed to a nine-year-old boy.
Whoopsie! Certainly not a comic book I would give to my nieces and nephews -- but handing it out was a simple mistake that could be remedied by a simple apology right?


Not in our 21st Century version of America.
Now Lee faces possible jail time in a case that has attracted the attention of the comic book community as well as the resources of a small anti-censorship group.
Alan Begner, an Atlanta civil liberties lawyer hired by
the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund to represent Lee finds the furor aroused by Bertozzi’s non-sexual depiction of Picasso's pee-pee somewhat bewildering:
“Picasso is not erect [in the comic book]. I don’t see what is wrong with showing a kid a comic book of an event that’s factual. Are these Greek and Roman statues harmful to minors?” (The prosecution has a different take on Picasso’s state of arousal – or lack thereof – while the artist agrees with Begner: “Anybody that has a penis can tell you that when you walk around it moves around,” says Bertozzi.)
Not strange enough?

Yesterday, the prosecutors in the case of cartoon ding-a-ling kicked it up yet another notch. From the CBLDF site:
The long-running case of Georgia v. Gordon Lee took yet another strange turn of events yesterday when the prosecution dismissed all charges against the Rome, Georgia retailer only to bring a new accusation arising from the Halloween 2004 incident that resulted in his arrest.

When Judge Larry Salmon entered the courtroom shortly after 9 AM Monday, prosecutors declared the case nolle prosse, meaning that the charges that were to go to trial this week have been dismissed.

Prosecutors are re-filing under a new accusation alleging that Lee handed “Alternative Comics #2” to a six-year-old minor and his nine-year-old brother, instead of solely to the nine-year-old, as has been previously, and repeatedly, declared.

Lee now faces two misdemeanor counts of “Distribution of Materials Harmful to a Minor” *** The next step will be for prosecutors to bring a new arraignment for Lee, at which point the case proceeds down the long road to trial all over again.

Yes, you read that right.

With their case circling the drain, the prosecution is rebooting its case by completely changing its story with regard to the basic facts of the case -- now claiming that a second, different, kid was given the funny book with the dirty doodle.
Lead counsel Alan Begner says, “I have never -- as a criminal trial lawyer for thirty years -- seen a complete changing of the facts like this. Throughout the last year and a half, through written statements, the investigation, and the presentation of evidence before the grand jury, as well as the written accusation and indictment, the State had steadfastly asserted that the comic book had been handed to the nine-year-old.

"The dismissal of the charges today reflects the prosecution’s admission that everything that was presented as evidence before was untrue, and that they had stuck to the false facts through procedure after procedure in the case. We now intend to investigate how a year and a half of statements based on one set of facts has now been changed at the last minute to another set of facts.”
My thoughts on this turn of events match up pretty well with Mark Evanier's pro bono, pro se legal analysis:
At the risk of making a Bill Frist-style diagnosis from afar, it sounds to me like the prosecutors are trying the old Bleed 'em Dry strategy. They're afraid they can't win on the merits of the case so they'll drag it out and make it expensive...and hope that the accused will agree to a fast plea bargain just to get the thing over with. This works more often in our nation than it should. I hope it doesn't here.
If you want to help in the legal battle against the pickle-patrol you can visit CBLDF site and become a member or buy a nifty t-shirt.

UPDATE: Evanier just can't stop thinking about this hypocritical instance of "Prosecutorial Tyranny".

"For A Decade of Sin"

Eight Fourty-Eight's Steve Edwards interviewed Nan Warshaw and Rob Miller, co-founders of the mighty Bloodshot Records, on your Chicago Public Radio.

They discussed the label's origin, its history and its future.

Other Bloodshot notes: They are celebrating their "unwavering love of classic country music" with a Bloodshot Revival cassette tape sale -- $4 each or 3 for $10! And the new Bottle Rockets' album, Zoysia, will debut on June 6.

UPDATE: The Bottle Rockets, America's Greatest Rock and Roll Combo, will be playing at the Beat Kitchen on June 10. It's a Saturday, so even suburban working stiffs can join the fun. You can get your tickets here.

From Your Lips to God's Ears

In the Toronto Star, Wayne Coyne -- the brilliant madman behind The Flaming Lips -- unveils his unique approach to marketing the Lips new album, At War With the Mystics:
"I'm not a politician," says Coyne. "But you can only sit in your imaginative dream world, where atmospheres and stories all happen to you, for so long before real life is inserted into that.

"We simply sang about things that were in our mind at the time. And a lot of this stuff that has happened over the last couple of years with Bush and Cheney and suicide bombers, you can't help but wake up some mornings and just want to kick the TV.

"It's time that we said that Jesus, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Allah and Islam are all mystical, magical things. And there's no room for that in a society that is as intelligent, complex and powerful as it is today. We have enough problems. We can't throw in some cosmic entity and say, 'He's telling me to do this thing or that thing.' If that's how you justify your actions, there are just no limits to what people can do."
And somewhere a Warner Music marketing director is crying.

Let the Punishment Fit the Criminal

One of my frequent correspondents has a suggestion: "Perhaps this is how Ann Coulter could do community service for her voter fraud."

Monday, April 03, 2006

Sweet: Cegelis endorses Duckworth for 6th CD House seat.

"I certainly endorse Tammy over Peter Roskam. I hope for a Democratic win in November, and I wish her all the luck in the world." -- Christine Cegelis


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