Friday, December 21, 2007

Cluster Huck: An Identity of Relation Quiz

"George H.W. Bush is to George W. Bush as Mike Huckabee is to __________?"

A: David Huckabee

Time's Up for NeoCons

The Scene:
* The office of Richard Stengel, Time Magazine's Managing Editor

Our Characters:
* Richard Stengel
* William Kristol
* Charles Krauthammer

Quiet on the set... ACTION!
Stengel: Bill. Charles. What do you think of your gigs here? Do you see yourselves continuing to write for Time next year?

Kristol: Sure.

Krauthammer: Definitely.

Stengel: Well, I'll be damned -- you guys are wrong about everything!
Aaaaand... SCENE!

Cut and print it. And don't worry -- we'll insert Saddam's WMDs and Iraq blossoming with Jeffersonian Democracy
during post-production.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Don't Let the Door Hit Ya Where the Dog Shouldda Bit Ya.

This holiday season, the Tribune Tower's cleaning crew will be working overtime to scrub the stench of failure from the executive offices.

From Trib Inc's LA Times:
Tribune Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Dennis J. FitzSimons is expected to announce his resignation as early as today, a person close to the company said Tuesday. The resignation would be the first departure of a top Tribune executive as the company prepares to go private under the leadership of Chicago businessman Sam Zell.

FitzSimons, 57, a 25-year veteran of Tribune, is in line to walk away with as much as $40 million, depending on the date on which he chooses to depart, according to corporate disclosure statements. ***

FitzSimons' potential payout could include severance of $10.7 million, stock options and restricted stock worth $6.9 million and a $4-million "gross-up," an additional payment designed to cover his taxes on the rest of the package. FitzSimons also owned 498,202 shares as of March 31, according to company documents. Those are worth $16.9 million at the price of $34 a share under the Zell buyout.
Just imagine how enormous FitzSimons payout would have been if he had had any success in the newspaper business.
FitzSimons' tenure as head of Tribune has been a troubled one. After joining the company in 1982 as sales director of WGN-TV in Chicago, he rose through the ranks of Tribune's television operations. He became CEO in 2003, three years after Tribune's acquisition of Times Mirror Co., the owner of The Times, and was named chairman in 2004. ***

FitzSimons had been instituting expense reductions across the company. But those actions created turmoil, especially at the newspapers. At The Times, two publishers and two editors resigned, the latter in opposition to staff and budget cuts ordered from Chicago headquarters. Similar turnover occurred at other newspapers in the chain.
Forty Million Dollars... Whew... That's a lot of scratch.

I'm fairly certain that I have the business acumen necessary to reduce a nationwide major media company to a mere "profit opportunity" for Sam Zell.

And I could have done it in half the time and for a mere $20 million bucks.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Waste Papers

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
The parent company of the Sun-Times Media Group plans to cut operating costs next year by $50 million -- or about 11 percent of total expenses -- in part through an unspecified number of layoffs.

Chief Executive Cyrus Freidheim Jr. said in an e-mail to employees Friday: "The company's financial results for the first nine months of this year have been well below plan and unprofitable."
Michael Miner, of the recently eviscerated Chicago Reader, says "about 40 jobs will be lost, a quarter of the editorial staff. And that's from a paper that had no fat to begin with."

Fortunately, the friendly folks at your Chicago Tribune is doing its part to make a gutted Sun-Times look like a value:
Starting Monday, Dec. 31, the newsstand price of the Chicago Tribune for the Monday through Saturday Chicagoland editions will increase from 50 cents to 75 cents. *** Home delivery subscription rates will rise slightly in 2008
In 2008, when Chicagoans hand to their news peddler a buck, they will face a choice: a) two copies of the cadaverous Sun-Times, b) 25 cents and a Trib, or c) a New York Times.

Good luck Sam Zell!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Global Warming, Pascal's Gambit and the Senior Senator from Arizona

Sen. John McCain:
Suppose that climate change is not real and all we do is adopt green technologies which our economy and technology is perfectly capable of, then all we've done is given our kids a cleaner world.

But suppose they're wrong and climate change is real and we've done nothing? What kind of a planet are we going to pass on to the next generation of Americans?
Reminds me of a time, oh so long ago, when I used to respect Sen. McCain.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

John Conroy on Chicago's Torture Payout

The Chicago Reader's ace investigative journalist, John Conroy talked to Democracy Now! about the unexpected delay on the City of Chicago’s $20,000,000 payout to four former death row prisoners tortured into confessions by Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and more than twenty officers who worked with him.
And the [delay], I don’t think, is terribly significant in the grand scheme of things. This case has been -- these cases were filed in 2003. And I don’t think that a month or two in the grand scheme of things is going to matter a great deal.

However, one complicating factor is that one of the former prisoners, who is now back in prison, Aaron Patterson, had signed a loan agreement based on—there are companies out there who make loans to people, highly speculative loans, high-risk loans, you might say, at verified interest rates, and Patterson took out one of these loans early on. I don’t recall the exact figure, but it might have been $50,000, and it’s now way up in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps nearing a million or more. So the longer there is a delay in settling Patterson, the higher the price tag could go. So that is one thing adding pressure on the Patterson people to settle and on the city to wrap it up.

I think it’s another month, and it will be wrapped up. The things that are blocking it right now weren’t that significant.
Conroy was also asked about his post-Reader plans:
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, John, you’ve been laid off?

JOHN CONROY: I was laid off last week. Four writers from the Reader were given the boot. We don’t fit into the future plans of the company which purchased the Chicago Reader last summer. The company is based in Florida.

AMY GOODMAN: What will you do now?

JOHN CONROY: I’m not sure.

Where Would Huckabee Get a Nutty Idea Like That?

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee:
"Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the Devil are brothers?"
Jess L. Christensen, Institute of Religion director at Utah State University, Logan, Utah:
On first hearing, the doctrine that Lucifer and our Lord, Jesus Christ, are brothers may seem surprising to some -- especially to those unacquainted with latter-day revelations. But both the scriptures and the prophets affirm that Jesus Christ and Lucifer are indeed offspring of our Heavenly Father and, therefore, spirit brothers. Jesus Christ was with the Father from the beginning. Lucifer, too, was an angel “who was in authority in the presence of God,” a “son of the morning.” (See Isa. 14:12; D&C 76:25–27.) Both Jesus and Lucifer were strong leaders with great knowledge and influence. But as the Firstborn of the Father, Jesus was Lucifer’s older brother. (See Col. 1:15; D&C 93:21.)
Ensign, Jun 1986, 24–27

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I Don't Remember Learnin' Any of THAT in Sunday School

I can't imagine why Fundamentalist Christians would have a problem with Mitt Romney's Mormon "Christianity"...

Can you?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

At the Whitehouse, It Isn't Cream that Rises to the Top

Miss Teen South Carolina:
Asked why a fifth of Americans could not locate the United States on a world map, she stammered out an answer that made Paula Abdul’s worst “American Idol” moment seem like a model of cogency.

Her answer, in its entirety, was: “I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uhmmm, some people out there in our nation don't have maps and uh, I believe that our, I, education like such as, uh, South Africa, and uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, uhhh, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, should help South Africa, it should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future, for us.”
The White House Press Secretary:
Appearing on National Public Radio's light-hearted quiz show "Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me," which aired over the weekend, Perino got into the spirit of things and told a story about herself that she had previously shared only in private: During a White House briefing, a reporter referred to the Cuban Missile Crisis -- and she didn't know what it was.

"I was panicked a bit because I really don't know about . . . the Cuban Missile Crisis," said Perino, who at 35 was born about a decade after the 1962 U.S.-Soviet nuclear showdown. "It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I'm pretty sure."

So she consulted her best source. "I came home and I asked my husband," she recalled. "I said, 'Wasn't that like the Bay of Pigs thing?' And he said, 'Oh, Dana.' "
One is a dumb blond girl... the other is Miss Teen South Carolina.

The Cream Rises to the Top

When the cool kids ask, "Hey, man have you heard of the super-groovy comic that was named Time magazine's top graphic novel for 2007?" you can confidently reply, "Dude, I've been diggin' on them for years and years thanks to a certain deeply-disturbed pseudonymous blogger."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"Temporary" as in "Temporary Military Bases in Iraq"

From Romenesko:
Back in July, Doug Ray told his Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, Ill.) staff that salaries would be reduced 5%, but that "we expect the 5% to be reinstated early next year." He now says the pay cut is permanent.

"We had hoped for a different outcome, but we believe this is the most prudent course of action. ...This was a difficult decision, but one that hopefully will eliminate the need for another round of layoffs and other significant cost cutting."
So don't forget to tip your paperboy.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Activists Assemble!

"What is an activist?"

Recently, there has been some talk in the left-hand corner of the DuPage blogosphere about who is an "activist" and what makes an "activist." Words and linguistic precision are hobby-horses of mine, so I thought I'd take a shot at what it means to be an activist.

So who are the Democratic activists in DuPage County?

The expansive definition of
activist could be defined thusly: "I'm an activist, you're an activist, we're all activists." Under this theory of activism, voting is the baseline. Anyone who does something more than voting -- letters to the editor, donating to a campaign, even mere blogging about progressive politics -- qualifies as an activist. This broad theory of "activist" offends no one, lets us all pat ourselves on the back and makes everybody feel like a Democratic hero.

And to a degree, of course, it is true -- bloggers and other progressive typists are, by definition, a kind of "activist".

But, in much the same way, Ant-Man is, by definition, a kind of "superhero."

Yes, friends, Ant-Man is a superhero.

Ant-Man has both a secret identity and the requisite fancy costume. Ant-Man has special powers; he can shrink down to insect size and has complete mastery of ants! And Ant-Man was even a founding member of the Avengers.

But while Ant-Man is definitely "a superhero," he is certainly not the most powerful, most inspiring or most effective of superheroes.

(To say that Ant-Man is to
the Avengers as Aquaman is to the Superfriends would require ignoring the fact that Aquaman was the monarch of the sub-sea nation of Atlantis. Now regardless of one's view of regency, King of Atlantis is a position of significance!)

Surely, nobody ever called the Avengers mansion in hopes that Ant-Man would answer the phone...
Hello, Avengers mansion?

Oh, thank God. The Masters of Evil are rampaging through the city and the Skrulls and Kree are threatening to invade Earth! Can you help us, Mister...

Mister Ant-Man? I'm talking to Ant-Man? Uh...

Oh, I know, I know, you're the fellow who can control ants... Umm... Is Iron-Man there?

Yes, yes, you can also shrink down in size... yes, I'm sure that would be very handy if I had locked my keys in my car, but the Earth is currently threatened by two alien armadas, so can I please talk to Thor?

Thor's not there, huh? How about Captain America?

No Captain America either? Hmm... How about the Vision or the Scarlett Witch?

No? Uh, Mr. Ant-Man, do you happen to know the phone number for the Fantastic Four?
Face facts true believer, although Ant-Man is definitely a "superhero," not all "superheroes" are created equally. Similarly, not all "activists" are the same.

When the Earth faces four-color doom, mankind turns to true superheroes like Thor, Iron-Man or Captain America. In the same way, when the Democratic party is in its hour of need, its hope lies with not just any "activists", its hope lies with Grassroots Activists.

And while DuPage County has been blessed more Democratic "activists" of late, the fine folks with Turn DuPage Blue have distinguished themselves as not just any kind of activists, they are Grassroots Activists.

They don't just understand the importance of grassroots progressive campaigning; they brought Camp Paul Wellstone's grassroots campaign training to DuPage County.

They didn't just see that DuPage desperately needed more Democratic precinct committeemen; they beat the bushes to identify Democrats who would step up and fill those slots.

They not only understand the importance of boots on the ground,
they have been the boots on the ground for Democratic candidates in DuPage County. Including the most successful Democratic campaign in DuPage County's recent history.

I grant that the grassroots activists in Turn DuPage Blue may not be ready to join Thor and Iron-Man battling
the time-traveling menace of Kang the Conqueror; but through their ambition and accomplishments in the interests of electing Democrats in DuPage County, these grassroots activists have proven that, at the very least, they aspire to true heroism.

And of course, like the Avengers, Turn DuPage Blue has Vision.


National Novel Writing Month is completed. SCAM hint: War and Peace times Ulysses plus a Wise Cracking Robot equals Best-Selling Literature! (And an almost certain Pulitzer nomination)

Regular blogging resumes immediately.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

'Austin Mayor loses temper over Downtown traffic tie-up'

"Did I use harsh language? You bet I did."

"I spewed a fog of profanity that is still floating down..."

Washington Post: 'Obama: Threat or Menace?'

From Paul McLeary of the Columbia Journalism Review:
In The Washington Post this morning, reporter Perry Bacon Jr. wrote what may be the single worst campaign ‘08 piece to appear in any American newspaper so far this election cycle.

In the front-page piece, Bacon muses over how the chances of Barack Obama getting elected president might be affected by the fact that he’s not Muslim. Seriously. To build his case, Bacon stumbles artlessly through all manner of rumor, innuendo, and xenophobic smear -- never bothering to refute any of it, even though there is plenty of well-documented evidence to knock down much of this stuff.
Lois Romano, national political reporter for the WP, defends her paper thusly: "But we do chronicle [Obama's] denials."

Hey, now! That's good journalism!

"It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' 'absolutely' is."

The B-I-B-L-E
Yes, that's the book for me.
I stand alone
on the Word of God
The B-I-B-L-E.

-- First Sunday School Song

tau·tol·o·gy (tô-tŏl'ə-jē) n., An empty or vacuous statement composed of simpler statements in a fashion that makes it logically true whether the simpler statements are factually true or false.

The boys and girls at the Huffington Post took a look at Multiple-Choice Mitt Romney and his view of Biblical authority.

The bottom line:
"I believe the Bible to be the word of God, absolutely."
+ "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly"
= "I absolutely believe the Bible to be the word of God to the limited degree to which I believe the Bible to be the word of God."
And for some reason, folks accuse this guy of being some kind of waffle-flopper.

NaNoWriMo Winding Down

The "white, male, heterosexual and rubbish novel" is almost complete and regular blogging will resume shortly.

April 18, 1924 – November 29, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Trent Lott and Gay Escort Service

The Huffington Post reports that the rumors about Trent Lott and a gay escort service are false:
A San Antonio-based gay male escort categorically denied Monday that outgoing GOP Sen. Trent Lott had ever procured his services, putting to bed one of the more stunning rumors to emerge following Lott's announcement earlier in the day that he was leaving Congress.

The charge was first published by the Washington DC blog Big Head DC, which claimed to have emails where the escort, Benjamin Nicholas, allegedly playing coy, declined to go on the record because "Trent is going through his fair share of scrutiny right now and I don't want to add to it."

But in an email message, Nicholas himself said the item was false.

"There's nothing to be said, as Lott and I have no connection whatsoever," Nicholas wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. "How these 'quotes' have been fabricated are beyond me. The Senator is someone I have had no personal dealings with, ever."

In a subsequent posting on his own Web site, Nicholas wrote, "I have not, nor have I ever seen or had contact with Senator Trent Lott. It's as simple as that. It never happened."
To recap: There is no truth to the rumors about Trent Lott and a gay escort service.

Monday, November 26, 2007

From the Mailbag

Dear SCAM,

During yesterday's game, the Bears' return specialist ran a punt back 75 yards for a third-quarter score and, 10 minutes later, returned a kickoff 88 yards for another touchdown.

But didn't I read that Deven Hester retired?

-- Confused in Chicago

Dear Confused,

I believe you're thinking of Denny Hastert.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, Lardo!

If this AlterNet interpretation is correct, I am very thankful for the Journal of the American Medical Association:
A startling new study by medical researchers in the United States has caused consternation among public health professionals by suggesting that, contrary to conventional wisdom, being overweight might actually be beneficial for health.

The study, published yesterday in the respected Journal of the American Medical Association, runs counter to almost all other advice to consumers by saying that carrying a little extra flab -- though not too much -- might help people to live longer.

Struggling dieters, used to being told that staying thin is the best prescription for longevity, are likely to be confused this morning if not heartily relieved. While being a bit overweight may indeed increase your chances of dying from diabetes and kidney disease -- conditions that are often linked with one another -- the same is not true for a host of other ailments including cancer and heart disease, the report suggests.
So, on second thought, I will have some more gravy!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another Reason to be Thankful: The Presidential Fury of Future Lincoln!

Chris Sims is a freelance writer and chronicler of Abraham Lincoln's four-color adventures. And he has proved that he is a Truly Great American by culling a particularly stirring panel from issue 210 of The Flash.

This scene of Lincoln doffing his top-coat in preparation for some bare-knuckle action that should bring a thrill to the heart of every red-blooded Illinoisan.

Mr. Sims also provides an explanation of why Honest Abe is fighting a planet-wide Civil War to reunite Earth-East and Earth-West in the year AD 2971...

But is no explanation beyond "Abe Lincoln Kicks Ass!" is necessary for scenes like this:

Yes, friends, Abraham Lincoln lays the Illinois Smack Down... Even in the 30th Century.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Better Fill The Tank Today

The Guardian Unlimited/Observer (UK) reports that a private meeting of Opec leaders, gathered this weekend in Riyadh for the cartel's third meeting in its 47-year history, was broadcast for more than half an hour after a technician had mistakenly plugged the TV feed into the wrong socket:
On Friday night, during what the participants thought were private talks, Venezuela's oil minister Venezuela Rafael Ramirez and his Iranian counterpart Gholamhossein Nozari, argued that pricing - and selling - oil using the crippled dollar was damaging the cartel.

They said Opec should formally express its concern about the weakness of the dollar when the cartel makes its official declaration at the close of the summit today. But the Saudis, the world's largest oil producers and de facto head of Opec, vetoed the proposal. Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, warned that even the mere mention to journalists of the fact that leaders were discussing the weak dollar would cause the US currency to plummet. ***

The weakness of the dollar is one reason why oil prices are so high, as cartel members seek to compensate for their lower earnings. This means a further drop in the dollar is likely to be accompanied by a rise in oil prices.
Commodity and currency traders said this weekend that oil prices would surge again on Monday likely breaking the $101 per barrel record set in the during the Oil Crisis of the 1970s and that the already weakened dollar would plunge further due to the unintentional broadcast.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blog Post Commenting on Comments to Blog Postings

My experiment with moderated blog comments has been an abject failure.

Blogger failed to ever notify me of comments awaiting moderation.

Therefore, the instantaneous flow of praise and ridicule will resume effective immediately.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

"Better to Rule a Hill, Than Serve in Heav'n."

Over at Prairie State Blue, Michael in Chicago examined the source of the marked increase (+100% from 2006) in Democratic Precinct Committeemen candidates in DuPage County:
[W]hen crunching PC recruitment numbers, it was pretty clear that when Township organizations worked actively with OTDB, recruitment was up significantly over Townships in which there was no such cooperation. ***

Note to local Democratic Leadership everywhere: If you want to win in places like IL-06 you're going to have to work with your local activists.

This means you are going to have to listen to the people on the ground who keep saying repeatedly that we are not going to beat Republicans -- especially local ones like Roskam -- by being Republican-lite.

Most importantly of all, stop trying to be the king of the damn ant hill and see the big picture: winning elections.
Although it's a radical idea, I think Michael may be on to something here -- The Democratic Party of DuPage County should be focused on one thing: Electing Democrats in DuPage County.

But I'm afraid I have to differ with Michael on his use of metaphor: without the energy of local grassroots activists, the party isn't even an ant hill -- it's a dung hill.

Friday, November 09, 2007

"Chicago's Progressive Talk" No Longer a Whisper in Chicago?

Robert Feder, of your Chicago Sun-Times, has good news for Chicago's fans of lefty, liberal AM talkers:
Chicago's progressive talk radio station is on the move.

As of Nov. 26, WCPT will switch from 850 AM to 820 AM, doubling the station's power and increasing its listening area.

Both daytime outlets are owned by Chicago-based Newsweb Corp.

As tipped here last week, the move was prompted by Relevant Radio's acquisition of WNTD-AM (950) and the expiration of its deal to air the Catholic talk format on WAIT-AM (820).

"With the 2008 elections approaching, we're thrilled to give progressive talk radio an even stronger voice in Chicago," said Harvey Wells, Newsweb Radio group station manager. ***

Newsweb plans to move WCPT's call letters to 820 and turn 850 into a time-brokered outlet as WAIT.
And their broadcast, including evening programming, is streamed around-the-clock on WCPT's website.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

"Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come for You Granny?"

Ladies and gentlemen, the Sun-Times story you are about to read is true.

Only the names have been concealed to protect the Office of Professional Standards and the Chicago Police Department
The officers were responding to a request from the city's Department of Aging.

Apparently, the department had received an anonymous tip that Lillian Fletcher, who has a history of mental illness, was home alone and in need of assistance.

When Fletcher refused to open her door, police were called. Although Fletcher cracked the door, she still refused to let her visitors into the house.

But police officers wouldn't take no for an answer and pushed their way in. Fletcher ran and got the hammer she keeps beside her bed.

"My grandmother is easily confused," her granddaughter, Traci Taylor, said Monday. "She probably didn't know what was going on." ***

"She can be belligerent," Taylor said. But she's 82 years old, 5 feet 1 inch and weighs no more than 160 pounds, she added.

"I just don't think they should be Tasing 82-year-old women. That's ridiculous."

Reportedly swinging a hammer

According to a police source, when officers arrived, Fletcher was "swinging a hammer" and becoming "increasingly violent."

When Fletcher failed to stop as ordered, an officer discharged a Taser. Also, it's worth noting that Fletcher hasn't been charged with violating any laws.

"The matter is being looked into by the Office of Professional Standards, and the Chicago Police Department will also be reviewing the matter to determine if procedures were followed," a police spokesman said.

[The Alias Kid noted: If there is any doubt as to whether or not proper procedure starts with a wellness check and ends with Tasing an 82 year-old woman, the Chicago Police Department's "procedures" just might be a source of the problem.]
After Tasing Fletcher, officers took her to Mt. Sinai Hospital, where she was treated. Her family is concerned Fletcher may have suffered a stroke. Citing privacy laws, a hospital spokesman declined comment. ***

Fletcher was released five days later, but she is still complaining about her hip and a burn on her abdomen. Doctors told Fletcher's family that she should be seen by a neurologist because she has fluid on her brain and may have to undergo surgery.
Grandma Fletcher probably won't die as a result of this police misconduct. But others will.

Even if it's only because caring and concerned Chicagoans will now hesitate -- quite understandably -- before calling the
City of Chicago's 311 number to request a wellness check on their frail and elderly neighbors.

Bad cops make bad neighbors.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Wishing You An Objectively Happy Birthday

"I know waterboarding is torture - because I did it myself"

Lest any doubts linger about the judgment and honesty of attorney general nominee Michael Mukasey; a counterterrorism consultant for U.S. special operations, homeland security and intelligence agencies named Michael Nance clears up the question of waterboarding:
As a former master instructor and chief of training at the U.S. Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School (SERE) in San Diego, I know the waterboard personally and intimately. Our staff was required to undergo the waterboard at its fullest. I was no exception.

I have personally led, witnessed and supervised waterboarding of hundreds of people. It has been reported that both the Army and Navy SERE school's interrogation manuals were used to form the interrogation techniques employed by the Army and the CIA for its terror suspects. What is less frequently reported is that our training was designed to show how an evil totalitarian enemy would use torture at the slightest whim.

Having been subjected to this technique, I can say: It is risky but not entirely dangerous when applied in training for a very short period. However, when performed on an unsuspecting prisoner, waterboarding is a torture technique - without a doubt. There is no way to sugarcoat it.
You simply don't need to have access to any of the Bush administration's classified documents to know waterboarding is torture.

It always was torture.

Waterboarding was torture in 1947, when the United States prosecuted a Japanese military officer, Yukio Asano, for waterboarding on a U.S. civilian during World War II. He was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.

waterboarding was torture in 2005, when the U.S. Department of State formally recognized "submersion of the head in water" as torture in its examination of Tunisia's record of human rights abuses.

Today, even some Republicans understand that waterboarding is torture.

Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a military lawyer, knows it's torture.
John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was tortured as a POW in Vietnam, said it "torture, no different than holding a pistol to his head and firing a blank."

But too many Republicans in Congress still need a magic piece of paper from George Bush to decide:
“I haven’t been briefed on it,” said Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

“You know, you are talking about a classified matter,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “So I am not really comfortable talking about it.”

“Under exigent circumstances like the loss of thousands of citizens, a president would be derelict in his duty if he didn’t use all the resources he had,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), when asked whether he personally believed waterboarding is torture.

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said it depends.

“The issue may turn on a standard of does it shock the conscience, and that could involve a great many factors,” Specter said. ***

“I haven’t gotten the classified briefing yet,” [Lamar Smith (R-TX) top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee] said.
Let's all pray that GOP leaders don't need a "classified briefing" to tell them whether or not ripping and tearing out fingernails is torture.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

NaNoWriMo Day 1

2022 Words.

Pure crap but words none the less.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

November is National Novel Writing Month

If you can blog, you can write a crappy novel in the next 30 days:
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
There is no rule that your novel must include a wise-cracking robot, but I think that can improve any story.

A Modest Proposal

Teenage girls, I'm afraid you must make a choice...

You may either: 1) go trick-or-treating, or 2) wear a costume with cleavage.

The choice is yours, but you must choose.

Décolletage or candy.

You can't have both.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

"I am good-natured and provide satisfaction."

From Andhra Pradesh, India -- where they put the wood back in Bollywood -- the Nrityanjali Academy presents -- at the risk of stepping on Bridget's toes -- our feature presentation:
Protective Cover

This entertaining and educational short should be shown before every R-rated movie.

Sunday, October 28, 2007 v. Lonely Pedant

“Within yourself deliverance must be searched for, because each man makes his own prison.” -- Edwin Arnold

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Zakaria on Iran: A Roaring Mouse is Still a Mouse.

Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria on the "threat" of Iran:
Iran has an economy the size of Finland's and an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion. It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran.

And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order?

What planet are we on?
Planet Bush.

And over the last six years, Zakaria and his colleagues in the corporate press were instrumental in relocating us -- and our fellow Earthlings -- to this hostile world.

I hope that Zakaria's piece on Iran is a sign that the more thoughtful members of the media are ready to help re-terraform Planet Bush.

Democrats Score 90% -- Still Face Possibility of Failure

The latest Rasmussen Reports tracking poll of issues shows Democrats with the advantage on nine out of the ten issues that most widely affect voters' decision-making:
The dominant issues are Government Ethics and Corruption, Very Important to 72% of likely voters; the Economy (68%); and National Security and the War on Terror (68%) ***
Tip for 2008: Update your insurance policy and stock up on non-perishable goods and ammo, because the only way for the GOP to win the White House is for the "War on Terror"TM to become front and center.
Republicans are accorded preference on only one issue, National Security and the War on Terror. Forty-five percent (45%) trust Republicans more on national security while 41% trust Democrats more. Historically, over the past generation or so, Republicans have typically enjoyed a larger edge on national security issues. However, during the current election cycle, the parties have consistently been close to parity on the topic.
When your only tool is a hammer you tend to see every problem as a nail, so expect the Republicans to pound away at the "War on Terror"TM despite their slim lead on the issue.
On the economy, Democrats have a modest advantage of 46% to 41%. That’s down from a 12-point edge a month ago.
Democrats -- other than John Edwards -- need to start talking to middle-class Americans about the crisis in the mortgage/housing market and what they intend to do about it. Far more Americans will lose their houses to foreclosure than will lose their houses in the California wildfires -- a new report from Congress’s Joint Economic Committee predicts that there will be two million foreclosures on subprime mortgages by the end of next year -- but because it will happen more slowly and over a wider expanse of the country, it is more difficult to grasp it's magnitude.

But that's no excuse. Democrats are supposed to be the party that can understand numbers and recognize people in need. It's time to start acting like it.
Democrats have a bigger "lead," 38% to 30%, on government corruption. But even when one party seems to have more big scandals in the news, voters and especially unaffiliated voters lean toward a pox-on-both-your-houses attitude. This month, almost half of unaffiliateds (47%) don’t trust either party on the corruption issue.
The Democratic leadership has done a terrible job with this issue. Start having oversight hearings on every aspect of the Iraq War and the billions of dollars poured down that rat hole. Not only will it justify a perception of the Democrats as the party of good government, it would increase Americans support for bringing the troops home.
One of the reasons Republican Presidential candidates are so eager to talk about Senator Hillary Clinton is that the issue environment is so treacherous for the GOP. While the country is evenly divided in its opinion of the former First Lady and current Presidential candidate, there are few issues where Republicans are trusted as much as Democrats. At the moment, voters trust Democrats more than Republicans on nine out of the ten issues tracked by Rasmussen Reports. This tilt toward the Democrats continues a trend of many months.
Nine out of ten!


Any other group would be a lock in the next election -- but we're talking about Democrats.
Despite the Republican edge on national security, Democrats are more trusted on the War in Iraq, 45% to 41%. As an issue the war is Very Important to 63%.
Americans trust Democrats on the Iraq War because there is a perception that the Democrats are more likely to get us the hell out of Iraq. But continued war-funding and mealy mouthed half-measures could easily change that view.
Democrats have a five-point edge of 41% to 36% on the issue of Immigration, Very Important to 54%. In early August, not long after the death in Congress of a bitterly debated immigration reform bill, Immigration was Very Important to 58%. Democrats then had a ten-percent margin over Republicans on the issue.
Someone forward the results of this poll to Rahm Emanuel ASAP!
Even on Taxes, which most voters would like to see cut, Democrats are preferred by a margin of 45% to 40%. It's Very Important to 55%.
It is way past time for the Democrats to make an issue of, and then repeal, Bush's tax cuts for the hyper-rich.
The Democrats have double-digit advantages on Education (48% to 35%), Social Security (49% to 33%), and especially Health Care (53% to 32%). Education is Very Important to 58%. Social Security and Health Care are Very Important to 61% and 66%, respectively.

Last month, when Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton was making headlines with her plans for Health Care reform, Democrats had a 51% to 35% advantage on the issue. So the Democrats' advantage has widened.
No surprises here. So I hope to see another S-CHIP funding bill back on the President's desk by Thanksgiving. And then by New Years... and then by Valentines Day... and then by Easter...
Democrats have an eight-point advantage (43% to 35%) on abortion, Very Important as an electoral issue to just 38%.
Say it with me: Safe, Rare and Legal.
Overall, the Republicans have only a narrow edge or no edge on issues like Taxes and National Security, where they were once strongly favored. But the Democrats enjoy unambiguously wide margins on their own signatures issues, like Social Security and Health Care.
Long story short: The Democrats have Nine Winning Issues to talk about, so it's time to stop letting the "War on Terror"TM monopolize their agenda.

thingpart by joe sayers

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life. -- A. Camus

Click image for enlightenment

News You Can Use

I can't seem to stop myself from swiping the wit and wisdom of Mark Evanier:
A little while ago, I tuned in to CNN and saw Wolf Blitzer interviewing someone, and there were two smaller boxes on the screen. In one, they just had footage of raging fires consuming homes in Southern California. There was no information about this being given. The box was just for people who wanted to see homes burning down.

The second box was promoting Anderson Cooper's upcoming special on Global Warming. It was filled with shots of glaciers melting, water rising, drought-stricken land, etc.

In the main scene, Blitzer was discussing the War in Iraq and the latest casualty figures for American troops and Iraqi civilians.

And then along the bottom, there was a crawl telling us that portions of New Orleans that had been rebuilt since Katrina have been destroyed by the latest flooding.

I watched it all for about three minutes and then came to the following conclusion: The greatest threat facing us today is that Barack Obama doesn't wear an American flag lapel pin.

Maybe if everyone who read this blog went to Mr. Evanier's site and subscribed to his RSS feed, I could beat this compulsion to cut-and-paste his posts.

Monkeys: Nature's Furry Goblins

There can be no doubt that the absurd passing of Delhi Deputy Mayor S. S. Bajwa -- death by a monkey attack -- can induce some snickers.

A regular SCAM correspondent compared it to a politician being killed by a mob of Smurfs.

But as I told him, Deputy Mayor Bajwa was not attacked by westernized organ-grinder monkeys, decked out in jaunty vests with matching caps, although that does create a striking mental image. No, Bajwa's killers were wild, savage monkeys.

And let me remind you, as I reminded him, that monkeys possess the uniquely lethal combination of 1) Opposable Thumbs, and 2) Fangs.

Thumbs and Fangs!

The deadly combination of thumbs and fangs is a powerful natural arsenal. Can there be any doubt that if tigers had thumbs they would rule the Earth? In fact, the thumb-fang combo is so powerful that God only gave it to two of His creations: Monkeys and Vampires!

Over the centuries, mankind has had great success in containing the threat of vampires. Perhaps the death of Deputy Mayor Bajwa is a sign that it is time to turn our attention to the other member of the Axis of Fanged Primates.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rowling: Wizard is a Friend of Dorthy

From the Washington Post:
J.K. Rowling has outed one of the main characters of her best-selling Harry Potter series, telling fans in New York that the wizard Albus Dumbledore, head of Hogwarts school, is gay.

Speaking at Carnegie Hall on Friday night in her first U.S. tour in seven years, Rowling confirmed what some fans had always suspected -- that she "always thought Dumbledore was gay," reported entertainment Web site E! Online.

Rowling said Dumbledore fell in love with the charming wizard Gellert Grindelwald but when Grindelwald turned out to be more interested in the dark arts than good, Dumbledore was "terribly let down" and went on to destroy his rival.

That love, she said, was Dumbledore's "great tragedy."

"Falling in love can blind us to an extent," she said.

The audience reportedly fell silent after the admission -- then erupted into applause.
Boy, this is really going to irk
the Pope.

SCAM Bonus: Gay Wizard Fun Facts!

Albus Dumbledore, the gay wizard, was played on the screen by straight actor, Richard Harris (left). By contrast, Gandalf, the wizard from the Lord of the Rings films, was played by Ian McKellen, an openly gay actor.

Friday, October 19, 2007


From your Chicago Tribune:
The measure fell 13 votes short of the two-thirds requirement to override the veto. The vote was 273-156, as 54 Republicans voted with Democrats to pass the bill, compared with 53 GOP members who voted for the bill when it first passed. Only two Democrats voted to sustain the veto compared with six who voted against the bill originally.

In the Illinois delegation, all 10 Democrats voted to override. Seven Republicans voted to uphold the veto while two, Reps. Mark Kirk and Ray LaHood, voted against the president.
And Bush couldn't be happier.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Oh. Hey. You Just Caught Us Blogging."

"Now, with The Blogs, you can share your thoughts with up to TEN PEOPLE."

Gabe and Max’s Internet Thing

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Simpler Time

Dear 20th Century,

Please come back. I miss you.



Sunday, October 14, 2007

Christian Clowns Redux Perfected

From Steven Colbert's New York Times op-ed:
After Jesus was born, the Old Testament basically became a way for Bible publishers to keep their word count up.
If only Ann Coulter had been joking when she expressed the exact same sentiment.

Gimmick Infringement

Some jerk-ass is freely cribbing the words of Mark Evanier, writer and raconteur, and then sending them to the Chicago Tribune using a false name... and it's not me!

This is such bull

Friday, October 12, 2007

Christian Clowns

From Editor and Publisher:
Appearing on Donny Deutsch's CNBC show, "The Big Idea," on Monday night, columnist/author Ann Coulter suggested that the U.S. would be a better place if there weren't any Jewish people and that they needed to "perfect" themselves into -- Christians.

It led Deutsch to suggest that surely she couldn't mean that, and when she insisted she did, he said this sounded "anti-Semitic."

Asked by Deutsch whether she wanted to be like "the head of Iran" and "wipe Israel off the Earth," Coulter stated: "No, we just want Jews to be perfected, as they say. ... That's what Christianity is."
And just what would an America filled exclusively with happy, smiling
Christians be like?

Probably more folks like this "perfected Jew" from Springfield:
An Illinois "Christian clown" has been charged with possession of child pornography and sex tourism stemming from a trip to a Filipino orphanage. After several months of investigation A. Paul Carlock Jr., who performs under the name Klutzo, was arrested Tuesday at his home in Springfield.

The 57-year-old former law enforcement officer and juvenile councilor, was originally detained on June 11 at San Francisco International Airport while returning from the Philippines, where he says he performed at an orphanage called House of Joy. A routine inspection of his digital camera and phone uncovered a variety of images of naked pre-teen boys, according to his arrest report. When questioned about the images, Carlock reportedly told officers, "That's how they live."

Lifestyles aside, three of the boys featured in the photographs later gave sworn statements that Carlock came into their rooms at night and fondled their genitals. They further asserted that he sneaked out when they woke up. Those statements lead to a search warrant, which was executed on Sept. 28 and which uncovered at least "21 movies on six compact discs that contain child pornography," according to the affidavit.
The Lincoln Courrier gives us Carlock's background
When hired as a Springfield police officer in 1973, Carlock said he previously had been employed by the state of Illinois at DuPage Boys School in Naperville.

For four of his years as a Springfield officer, he served as a youth division detective. He was a minister at the Rosewood Heights Nazarene Church in East Alton, where a former church member said Carlock and his wife at the time would invite over kids to watch movies and eat popcorn.

Carlock worked for four years for the Illinois Department of Public Health's Child Health Division. He served as the Grandview Police Department's certified juvenile officer. He volunteered with Big Brother/Big Sister for a short time. He and his most recent wife performed as the clowns "Klutzo" and "Smilee" for more than 10 years, entertaining at children's events and school programs. He was a marriage and family counselor, too.
Carlock's hard-on-crime cover story reminds me of the former chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, Republican Mark Foley.

It is unclear whether Ann Coulter considers Rep. Foley "perfected" like Klutzo Carlock.

No Justice Polar Ice Cap, No Peace

Al Gore and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have been awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Rumors that John Bolton stormed the Oslo offices of the Nobel Prize committee shouting, "I'm with the Bush-Cheney team, and I'm here to stop the count," have not been confirmed.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Lou Pearlman: 'N Sync with GOP

Lou Pearlman is the mastermind behind such boy-band acts as NSYNC, the Backstreet Boys, and O-Town.

Mr. Pearlman, currently jailed on federal fraud charges, is fat and white. And now he's denying "inappropriate relationships with many of the young men and boys he made famous."

A corrupt, fat, white guy accused of fondling young men and boys?

Do I really need to tell you Mr. Pearlman is a big Republican donor?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Today's featured article at Wikipedia is "an American alternative rock band that formed in Chicago in 1988."

And there is something strangely poetic about Wikipedia's recently featured articles: William Shakespeare, Night of the Long Knives and Guinea pigs.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

SCAM Scoop: 6th District Congressional Announcement

The e-mails, IMs and internets are all abuzz about the pending announcement of a Rahm-picked candidate for the Illinois 6th Congressional district.

Although others are trafficking in mere rumor and speculation, I can give you the full scoop:

I will not be running for Congress.

Now that the mystery has been revealed, you can get back to your work.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Naomi Klein: The Shock Doctrine

A short film by Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mama Tambien and Children of Men) based on Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

Pin-Heads at the Sun-Times

When it comes to the crucial issues facing the electorate, sometimes AP wire reports just aren't enough. So the Sun-Times assigned two reporters to cover the most important topic before the American people:

And what statement about flag lapel pins could possibly be so outrageous that it merits team-coverage by the S-T? This statement from Sen. Barack Obama:
You know, the truth is that right after 9/11, I had a pin. Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security, I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest, instead I'm gonna try to tell the American people what I believe what will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.
Obama thinks that words and actions are a better indication of patriotism than accessories? Where's the controversy? I don't see it.

But maybe Obama's chief rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, will identify the offense in Obama's statement and use it to her political advantage:
I think there are so many ways that Americans can show their patriotism: wearing a flag pin; flying the flag; pledging allegiance to the flag; talking about the values that are important to America; teaching your children about what a great nation we have; standing up for those values; speaking out; there are just so many ways that one can demonstrate patriotism.
Okay... It appears that Sen. Clinton doesn't see the offense either.

I guess we will have to seek the wisdom of the Sun-Times editorial board to understand the controversy raised by Obama's "patriotism means actions not just pins" statement:
We'll concede that pinning a flag to your chest is a phony litmus test of patriotism. But wearing a flag doesn't have to be phony. Just ask any Iraq war veteran, or any soldier from a previous war, or anyone else who believes that the flag represents the best of America. Why not wear one, and wear it proudly, and explain what it means to you? Isn't that better than having your red, white and blue credentials questioned?
Great Cesar's Ghost! Are you kidding me?

What a profoundly craven and shameful sentiment. It is wretched and gutless.

Just how gutless?

A simple, historical analogy makes the pathetic, moral cowardice of the Sun-Times' board self-evident.

The Sun-Times circa 1950: "We'll concede that [Sen. McCarthy's loyalty oath] is a phony litmus test of patriotism. *** Why not [take one], and explain what it means to you? Isn't that better than having your red, white and blue credentials questioned?"

Litmus tests of patriotism aren't just phony - they are anti-American.

Some time ago, several chapters back in the dystopian sci-fi novel that is the Bush Presidency, a friend and I were discussing the assent of authoritarianism in America. In particular, we talked about the invidious manner in which quiet submission to authority was taking root in the guise patriotism.

The way that the measure of an American had shifted from the values you espouse and the life you live to how much you resemble an entry in a Fourth of July parade. The way that people who were willing to cast aside the Constitution, the sacred source of any patriotic pride, questioned the loyalty of Americans who did not bear the external trappings patriotism. The creeping expectation that U.S. citizens must bow down before red, white and blue idols, lest they be be considered un-American.

And we lamented that so many cowards sat silently and let it happen.

"Why not?" asks the Sun-Times.

Why not hide behind a cheap, little pin out of fear of "having your red, white and blue credentials questioned"?

Why not?

Because a man stands up, goddammit.

A man stands up.


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