Monday, December 01, 2008

VII. Miscellaneous
(58) Please provide the URL address of any websites that feature you in either a personal or professional capacity (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, etc.)

Friday, October 03, 2008

The American electorate is experiencing something the press has labeled "the Palin Effect."

It's when, for a brief time, a thing seems like a good idea, but then is almost instantly recognized as a terrible, terrible idea.

It used to be called "the Zubas Effect."

Monday, September 29, 2008

McCain: Republican Mav-Wreck

"What Senator McCain was able to do was to help bring all of the parties to the table, including the House Republicans, whose votes were needed to pass this."
-- Steve Schmidt, John McCain's chief strategist, yesterday.

Today: The Dow Jones industrials plunged 777 points today -- their largest point drop ever -- after the House rejected the financial bailout bill.

McCainomics: The Nut of the Problem

From the NYT's Paul Krugman:

The real revelation of the last few weeks, however, has been just how erratic Mr. McCain’s views on economics are. At any given moment, he seems to have very strong opinions — but a few days later, he goes off in a completely different direction.

Thus on Sept. 15 he declared — for at least the 18th time this year — that “the fundamentals of our economy are strong.” This was the day after Lehman failed and Merrill Lynch was taken over, and the financial crisis entered a new, even more dangerous stage.

But three days later he declared that America’s financial markets have become a “casino,” and said that he’d fire the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission — which, by the way, isn’t in the president’s power.

And then he found a new set of villains — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored lenders. (Despite some real scandals at Fannie and Freddie, they played little role in causing the crisis: most of the really bad lending came from private

loan originators.) And he moralistically accused other politicians, including Mr. Obama, of being under Fannie’s and Freddie’s financial influence; it turns out that a firm owned by his own campaign manager was being paid by Freddie until just last month.

Then Mr. Paulson released his plan, and Mr. McCain weighed vehemently into the debate. But he admitted, several days after the Paulson plan was released, that he hadn’t actually read the plan, which was only three pages long.
Just three pages.

Can America afford another incurious Republican president who won't address a single, short document concerning a grave threat facing our nation?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Economic Martial Law

"Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."

S.L.A.M: Slave-Labor "Austin Mayor"

Due to growing IRL demands of employment and the grave responsiblity of saving the planet by getting Barack Obama elected president, I have slacked off on my blogging duties of late. But the time crunch of work and campaigning only increase between now and the election.

I still think that regular updating of this blog is important, however, so I have found what I believe to be a simple and elegant solution -- I will be outsourcing my blogging to a cut-rate, subcontractor in Mysore, India.

Slave-Labor "Austin Mayor" (SLAM) will be contractually obligated to provide the same high-level of quality content that you've come to expect from the So-Called "Austin Mayor" blog while limiting my personal responsibility and liability in these closing days of the campaign.

It's a win-win -- SLAM: First-Rate Blogging at Third-World Prices.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Palin: Ready On Day One Nine?

The news that Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin will finally give her first television interview since John McCain tapped her as his running mate over a week ago has prompted many to ask, "What questions would you ask Sarah Palin?"

I would ask Gov. Palin, "Exactly how will you work across party lines and with our global allies to address the growing MILF problem?"


I would then ask her if she knows that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front [MILF] is the largest Muslim rebel group in the southern Philippines and that members of the MILF help train Indonesians connected to Jema'ah Islamiah (JI), the group accused of carrying out the 2002 Bali bombing.

And that over 1,000 US troops are currently in the southern Philippines for military exercises.

Hey, just what did you think I was asking about?

UPDATE - I would also ask her if she knows that over
46,565 members belong to the I Have More Foreign Policy Experience than Sarah Palin group on Facebook.

A Math Question

When a Cubs fan becomes a TSA employee, do you calculate his jerk-ass factor by averaging the Cubs fan base score (8/10) and the TSA base score (9/10) for an 85% jerk-ass cumulative, do you use the highest score for 90% jerk-ass.

Or, as I suspect, does jerk-ass actually increase

All I know is that if this Rafael Rosario was also a blogger, he'd be off the charts.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Sarah Palin: Not Ready for Prime Time Sunday Morning

From your Chicago Tribune's Mark Silva:
So, maybe putting Sarah Palin out there in public where she has to answer questions from a reporter, as opposed to running circles around a fast-reeling TelePrompTer, isn't in McCain's "best interests?''

Palin, conspicuous by her mere absence: This booking strategy may speak volumes about the McCain campaign's confidence in the governor from Alaska.
If Sarah Palin can't face George Stephanopoulos, how will she face down Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

Four More Years Would Be a Drag

From Chris Matthews:
Did you ever see the movie Mrs. Doubtfire? Where the guy, Robin Williams, fails as a husband, and he comes back dressed as a housekeeper, and he gets a job so he can have responsibility for the kids again, having failed them as a dad and a father and as husband.

Is this what John McCain’s doing, and what the Republican’s party doing out there in St. Paul—coming back as Mrs. Doubtfire? ‘We’ve failed in our role for eight years We’ve got a new costume on, accept us and give us custody of the country again, ’cause we look a little different.’

It’s a Mrs. Doubtfire strategy!
Now that our American family is eight years older, let's Hope they will see through this clownish facade.

h/t to Hitsville for the video link and Mr. Wymann's transcription

"The Peasants Are Revolting"

Your Chicago Sun-Times asks the musical question, "Why is GOP sneering at Obama's work as community organizer?":

Republicans insist that people should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Communities should take care of their own and not depend on big government to do the job. And the folks who do make it should give back.

We agree wholeheartedly.

But on what is the job of community organizer premised, if not those very principles?

Community organizers come into poor neighborhoods and try to get people knocked down by life back up on their feet.

They tell them where to find jobs, where to send their kids for day care, where to get drug counseling.

They show residents how they can organize to protest poor housing conditions, low pay and other inner-city woes.

When the job is done right, a community organizer helps the most powerless among us gain some small sense of power over their lives.

And that, gentle reader, is why the GOP fears and loathes community organizing.

They see power as a zero sum game and know that when common folks gain power over themselves, their communities and their lives, a dangerous little crack forms in the ruling class's power monopoly.

That is what this election is all about.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Family Values

"Let me be as clear as possible. I think people's families are off-limits, and people's children are especially off-limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics." -- Barack Obama reacting to news that GOP running mate Sarah Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant.

"Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno." -- John McCain, at a 1998 Republican Senate fund-raiser.

Sarah Palin: Video Blogger

Sarah Palin Vlogs! at Medium Large

"One Nation... Indivisible"

"If it was good enough for the founding fathers, its good enough for me"
-- Sarah Palin on the use of "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance

As your Sun-Times' Zay Smith reminds us, the Pledge was not written until 1892 and the words "under God" were only added in the 1950s.

But Palin's apparent gaff may not have been a mistake.

Consider the following:
  • Alaska became the 49th state of the U.S. on January 3, 1959, and
  • In addition to being a former beauty queen, Sarah Palin was also a member of the secessionist Alaska Independence Party, and
  • Sarah Palin recorded a message welcoming the secessionists to their 2008 party convention, and
  • Joe Vogler, founder of the secessionist Alaska Independence Party, stated in the "Introduction" section of the party's official website, "I'm an Alaskan, not an American. I've got no use for America or her damned institutions," and
  • If we apply Occam's Razor and assume that Sarah Palin understood the words leaving her own mouth, then
  • The "Founding Fathers" of the 1950's to which Sarah Palin was referring were the founders of sovereign and independent nation of Alaska.
Either that or she's some kind of nit-wit.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Palin: America can't pull out of Iraq, but Alaska can pull out of America?

I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same: that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God. -- Vice Presidential Oath of Office

"The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, co
mposed of indestructible States. *** There was no place for reconsideration, or revocation, except through revolution, or through consent of the States." -- State of Texas v. White, et al., 74 U.S. 700 (1869).

From Jack Tapper of ABC News:
Officials of the Alaskan Independence Party say that [John McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah] Palin was once so independent, she was once a member of their party, which, since the 1970s, has been pushing for a legal vote for Alaskans to decide whether or not residents of the 49th state can secede from the United States.

And while McCain's motto -- as seen in a new TV ad -- is "Country First," the AIP's motto is the exact opposite -- "Alaska First -- Alaska Always."

Lynette Clark, the chairman of the AIP, tells ABC News that Palin and her husband Todd were members in 1994, even attending the 1994 statewide convention in Wasilla. Clark was AIP secretary at the time.

"We are a state's rights party," says Clark, a self-employed goldminer. The AIP has "a plank that challenges the legality of the Alaskan statehood vote as illegal and in violation of United Nations charter and international law." ***

Clark says that Palin left the party and became a Republican in 1996, when she first ran for mayor of Wasilla. ***

Earlier this year, Palin sent a video message to the AIP for its annual convention, where AIP vice chair George Clark told the small crowd that Palin "was an AIP member before she got the job as a mayor of a small town –- that was a non-partisan job. But you get along to go along -– she eventually joined the Republican Party, where she had all kinds of problems with their ethics, and well, I won’t go into that."

Remember when we took for granted the GOP vice presidential candidates' unconditional support of our Union of the States.

Sarah Palin's "commitment" to Ted Stevens's Bridge to Nowhere

From the Washington Post:
Democrats accused Gov. Sarah Palin (R) on Sunday of misrepresenting her role in scuttling a controversial bridge project to a remote island in southeast Alaska.

On Friday, the day she was introduced as Sen. John McCain's running mate, Palin touted her opposition to a bridge originally championed by Alaska's most prominent officials as an example of her fiscal conservatism and reformist credentials.

"I told Congress, 'Thanks but no thanks on that Bridge to Nowhere,' " Palin told a crowd in Dayton, Ohio.

But prominent Alaska Democrats said Palin supported the bridge while campaigning for governor ***

"She was the only candidate who was saying, 'We're going to build that bridge,' " said former governor Tony Knowles (D), who lost to Palin in the 2006 general election. "She's taking a position now which certainly wasn't what it was when she was campaigning."***

While campaigning in Ketchikan in September 2006, Palin indicated support for the bridge project, assuming there was no better alternative. "This link is a commitment to help Ketchikan expand its access, to help this community prosper," she told the local chamber of commerce, according to an account in the Ketchikan Daily News. ***

Palin's [ultimate] decision resulted in no savings for the federal government. The bridge money is being spent on other highway projects in Alaska.

Sarah Palin Was Original Director of Mentor Ted Stevens's 527 Group

From the Washington Post:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin began building clout in her state's political circles in part by serving as a director of an independent political group organized by the now embattled Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

Palin's name is listed on 2003 incorporation papers of the "Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc.," a 527 group that could raise unlimited funds from corporate donors. *** She served as one of three directors until June 2005, when her name was replaced on state filings. ***

A federal grand jury in Washington, D.C., has accused Stevens of concealing on financial disclosure statements lucrative gifts from the now-defunct oil company Veco and its top executives. At one point, Veco employees and contractors jacked up the senator's mountainside house on stilts and added a new first floor, with two bedrooms and a bathroom, the indictment says.

Stevens became the first sitting U.S. senator to face criminal charges in 15 years.
Stevens and Palin also filmed a campaign commercial together to highlight Stevens's endorsement of Palin during the 2006 race.

No word whether Palin thinks the internet is a truck or a series of tubes.

Juno, Alaska?

CNN: Teen daughter of GOP VP pick is pregnant:
Bristol Palin, the 17-year-old daughter of Sarah Palin, is pregnant and will keep the baby and marry the father, a senior aide to Sen. John McCain confirmed to CNN Tuesday. ***

The 17-year-old, a senior in high school, is about five months along, in her second trimester, according to the aide.
And now is a fine time to review a few highlights of John McCain's family planning voting record:
  • He voted against requiring health care plans to cover birth control (3/22/03).
  • He voted against comprehensive, medically accurate education (7/25/06).
  • He voted against international family planning funding (3/14/96).
  • He voted against funding to prevent teen and unintended pregnancies (3/17/05).
  • He voted against public education for emergency contraception (3/17/05).
  • And he voted against restoring Medicaid funding that could be used for family planning for low-income women (3/17/05).
We no longer have to wonder about the possible social outcomes of a McCain/Palin administration -- we can now see solid results of that unfortunate experiment.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

This Election Will Be About Judgment

Sarah Palin's Pregnancy Decision Map

Empty Skirt

An e-mail from The Alias Kid delivers my favorite analogy so far:
Sarah Palin is Harriet Miers -- A conservative dame who's hollow resume would have been tossed in the trash if it had been submitted by a fella.
True. But say what you will about Harriet Miers -- she wasn't just another pretty face.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Alaska on Alaskan Lass: Alas Alack

The Anchorage Daily News has local coverage on the hometown girl going big-time:

"She's not prepared to be governor. How can she be prepared to be vice president or president?" -- Alaska State Senate President, Lyda Green (R-Wasilla).

"She's old enough. She's a U.S. citizen." -- Alaska House Speaker, John Harris, (R-Valdez) on Sarah Palin's qualifications to be Vice-President.

The ADN also brings us up to speed on Palin's L’Affaire De Troopergate.

Friday, August 29, 2008

First Impressions of Sarah Palin

Two of my favorite writers chime in on McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as running mate.

I'm watching TV, waiting for John McCain to appear to formally announce his veep pick. If I were staging this event, I don't think I'd have brought high school cheerleaders in to warm up the crowd. ***

Okay, he just introduced her and a hall full of people who never heard of Sarah Palin until they got up this morning is on its feet, cheering for her.

And out walks Tina Fey.
The Palin pick is not like the choice of Dan Quayle. But it is exactly like the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. That is, an unbelievably obvious but potentially effective attempt to jiu-jitsu the standard identity politics of the moment in a way that flummoxes the Democrats. ***

Always and only the comparison should be with Clarence Thomas -- with this one interesting difference. Thomas was a shrewd choice not simply because his race made it more complicated for Democrats to oppose him but also because, once confirmed, all evidence suggested to conservatives that he'd be the kind of Justice they were looking for.

In Palin's case, this seems to be a choice that looks forward to Election Day, and not one day beyond that.

Eric Zorn: Danielle Quayle?

Rob at A Million Monkeys: Sarah Palin is like Alan Keyes


Joe Conason: Palin is the epitome of tokenism, exactly what conservative Republicans have always claimed to scorn, until today, as the politics of quotas and political correctness.

David Frum: The irresponsible choice?

This Year's Model

The Alias Kid noticed a pattern emerging:
As the man said, "I'm not sayin'... I'm just sayin'."

McCain's Palin Faces Probe

From the Wall Street Journal (via Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington):
Alaska's Palin Faces Probe

Now, one of the bright new stars in the Republican Party has suddenly become tarnished. The state legislature this week voted to hire an independent investigator to see whether Ms. Palin abused her office by trying to get her former brother-in-law fired from his job as an Alaska state trooper.

"This is a governor who was almost impervious to error," says Hollis French, a Democratic state senator. "Now she could face impeachment, in a worst-case scenario." ***

The controversy now surrounding Ms. Palin stems from a messy divorce between state trooper Mike Wooten and his wife, Molly McCann, who is Ms. Palin's younger sister. ***

On July 11 of this year, Ms. Palin fired Department of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. Mr. Monegan then complained that she and her husband had pressured him to fire Mr. Wooten. Ms. Palin, in a statement, denied that, saying she had removed the commissioner she had appointed 18 months earlier because she wanted "a new direction."
In 1984, Ms. Palin took the crown at the Miss Wasilla pageant. At the time, Wasilla, Alaska had a population of between 1,600 and 4,000 individuals. If half of them were female, Ms. Palin triumphed over no fewer than 800 other possible Miss Wasillas.

But she's anti-choice and pro-death penalty, so the 44 year-old Ms. Palin has passed John McCain's "Commander-in-Chief Test".

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama's Country Closer

"Only in America" by Brooks and Dunn from their 2001 album "Steers and Stripes"

High Wire Act

From Evanier:
My friend Bruce Reznick just wrote me that he's signed up to be notified when John McCain announces his vice-presidential pick.

He's going to be notified by telegram.
ba-dum bum.

Two Thumbs Down for Jay-Hole

An open letter from Roger Ebert to Jay Mariotti

SCAM Reminder: Keep Getting Up!

From The Economist:
Eight years ago Barack Obama was thoroughly humiliated at the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles.

He had recently lost a congressional primary in Chicago, and both his political and personal bank accounts were empty. The rental car company rejected his credit card. He failed to get hold of a floor pass and ended up watching the proceedings on a big screen in a car park.

He returned home with his tail between his legs before the week was out -- and left the celebrations to the people who mattered, not least the Clintons, who took every chance to seize the limelight from the Gores.

This year Mr Obama is the Democratic convention.
Sometimes even those of us in Illinois forget that Barack Obama has not always been on the assent. That before he was a rising star, he was a fallen star -- a premature has-been and a never-was. But when he was knocked down, he didn't give up -- he got up.

There will be setbacks between now and election day. But when we are knocked down, we need to remember to get up.

Always keep getting up.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Truly, there is no higher praise.

"The feeling I got from reading Achewood is similar to the first time my best friend and I laughed so hard that soda came out my nose, and then I farted, which made us laugh harder, and then she peed herself."
-- Nina Stone on Chris Onstad's
Achewood: The Great Outdoor Fight.

Bill Clinton Speech Preview?

Click Images to Embiggin

Bush and McCain -- Twin Terrors

"It makes sense that George Bush and John McCain will be together next week in the Twin Cities, because these days they're awfully hard to tell apart."
-- Hillary R. Clinton, D-NY.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Is the enemy of my enemy my friend?

Odds that FOXNews will interview Bonnie Grabenhofer or Gay Bruhn of Illinois NOW before the close of the Democratic Convention: EVEN

My lickspittle told me I never cease to amaze him.

"McCain likes to call himself a maverick, but he votes with George W. Bush more than 90% of the time. That's not a maverick. That's a sidekick."
-- Senator Robert Casey, Pennsylvania.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Olympic Taekwondon't

If a 176+ pound Olympic bronze medal contender and former Olympic taekwondo gold medalist can blindside a referee by kicking him in the face but not even knock him down, taekwondo is officially not a martial art.

It can still be allowed in the Olympics, but lets finally admit it's just a branch of gymnastics.

Candorville: Still Too Good for the Chicago Tribune

Click Image to Embiggen

Friday, August 22, 2008

Burying the "Born Alive" Controversy

If you're like me, you've recently been asked about Barack Obama and the "Born Alive" bill. Fortunately, Eric Zorn of your Chicago Tribune has the low down.

For those with OCD, there is the 4,000-word original: What you need to know about the 'Born Alive' controversy and Barack Obama

For those with ADD -- or other things to do -- there is the lower calorie, Executive summary: What you need to know about the 'Born Alive' issue

And here's a SCAM tip for understanding the phrase "virtually identical bill":

  • "Virtually identical" does not mean "identical".
  • "Virtually identical" actually means "not identical".
If the bills were truly identical, the modifier "virtually" would be unnecessary.

When Obama's opponents talk about "virtually identical bills" they are grudgingly -- and perhaps unwittingly -- admitting that the bills were
not identical.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

John McMansions

John McCain is unsure just how many houses he owns and the press is too...

We do know that the McCains increased their budget for household employees from $184,000 in 2006 to over a quarter of a million dollars in 2007, according to a analysis of John McCain's tax returns.

Reminder: "Arugula-eating, pointy headed professor-types" are the elitists, not the multi-millionaire who looses track of his houses.

Maya Angelou Thinks I Suck

Boing-Boing offers this Maya Angelou character assessment tool:
I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
In each of those instances, on a scale from one to 100, I would score in the single digits.

Probably on a scale of one to 1000 as well...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vietnam Prisoner of War: Why I Will Not Vote for John McCain

Phillip Butler is a 1961 graduate of the United States Naval Academy and a former light-attack carrier pilot. In 1965 he was shot down over North Vietnam where he spent eight years as a prisoner of war. He is a highly decorated combat veteran who was awarded two Silver Stars, two Legion of Merits, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Heart medals.

On, Mr. Butler explains why he will not vote for fellow POW, John McCain:
As some of you might know, John McCain is a long-time acquaintance of mine that goes way back to our time together at the U.S. Naval Academy and as Prisoners of War in Vietnam. He is a man I respect and admire in some ways. But there are a number of reasons why I will not vote for him for President of the United States. ***

I can verify that John has an infamous reputation for being a hot head. He has a quick and explosive temper that many have experienced first hand. Folks, quite honestly that is not the finger I want next to that red button.

It is also disappointing to see him take on and support Bush's war in Iraq, even stating we might be there for another 100 years. For me John represents the entrenched and bankrupt policies of Washington-as-usual. The past 7 years have proven to be disastrous for our country. And I believe John's views on war, foreign policy, economics, environment, health care, education, national infrastructure and other important areas are much the same as those of the Bush administration.

I'm disappointed to see John represent himself politically in ways that are not accurate. He is not a moderate Republican. On some issues he is a maverick. But his voting record is far to the right. I fear for his nominations to our Supreme Court, and the consequent continuing loss of individual freedoms, especially regarding moral and religious issues.

John is not a religious person, but he has taken every opportunity to ally himself with some really obnoxious and crazy fundamentalist ministers lately. I was also disappointed to see him cozy up to Bush because I know he hates that man. He disingenuously and famously put his arm around the guy, even after Bush had intensely disrespected him with lies and slander. So on these and many other instances, I don't see that John is the "straight talk express" he markets himself to be. ***

In short, I think John Sidney McCain, III is a good man, but not someone I will vote for in the upcoming election to be our President of the United States.

Today's Huffington Post Chicago Exclusive!

"Growing Up In Glenview" by Jami Gertz.



Monday, August 18, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Blog crawl -- Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 7

Bloggers are starting to read -- and post on -- Neil Steinberg's memoir "Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life."

First up: Paige Dropping Pounds which records "the journey -- to my goal of weighing 160 lbs."
So I read this book called Drunkard by Neil Steinberg. The cover had lime green lettering with a large ice cube and it screamed "You need to read me!" from the shelf of a Barnes & Noble and I purchased it on Friday night. I was done by 3:30pm on Saturday. It is not a thin book. It is the memoir of one man's struggle with alcoholism.

But it is not just for alcoholics.

It is a book for anyone facing an addiction, anyone trying to climb a mountain, anyone who is not perfect, and anyone who maybe thinks they in fact are perfect... and they've always wondered what the other side is like. I'm pretty sure that having read this book is going to be one of those important turning points in this journey for me. I can't be certain, but I have that feeling... that mattering feeling you get when you know something is important.

It's not a how-to book. I like those. The lists and forms and calendars in them make me feel calm and in control.

Drunkard is a tale, a chronology, a documentary. It is honest and it does not suppose to tell you there is hope for you... the only message is "This is my story" ... not to discount the actual many messages... but really, that's the bottom line. ***

The catalyst to change for the Drunkard in the book was a night in jail. The law forced him into rehab. No one is going to force me into anything over weight loss. There is no crime. There are no legal ramifications. There are mostly only serious health consequences... those clearly aren't having any effect on my actions...

But this book, this book opened my eyes to the true nature of my habits... almost all of them... they are an addicts habits. The cravings, the needs, the price and joy in the ritual, the feeling that it my god damned right to do as I please if it makes me feel good, the shame, the disbelief at how much of a choke-hold it has on your day-to-day life, the unforeseen triggers, the unfolding hell with strict, dark, blinders on.

But it opened my eyes -- and reminded me that if I am to eliminate some habits or activities or joy -- that I better find something to replace it with. Hopefully I'll be willing to keep my eyes open long enough to make some real, actual, measurable, progress.
As someone who has occasionally struggled with weight, I too have found myself wondering, "Why couldn't I have a health problem that everyone else would take seriously and allow me to take seriously?"

Nobody questions when a drunk doesn't want alcohol in the house -- everyone understands that "self control" isn't going to help him limit his intake to "just one beer." But when a fatso doesn't want high-calorie, low-food value foods to come into the house, everyone expects him to just exercise some "self control" and have "just one cookie."

That said, if given the choice, I'd rather be a fatso than a drunkard.

Of course, that's actually a false choice -- you can always do both.

Next up, The Hedy Experience, a blog by a Chicago writer with a "
unhealthy yet purely intellectual crush on Neil Steinberg" who wrote two lengthy posts on the topic of Drunkard.

The First:
Read Neil’s book if you’d like a better understanding of why alcoholics do the batshit crazy things they do. Read it if you’ve always been skeptical about Alcoholics Anonymous and the whole higher power thing.

Don’t read it if you want a juicy, emotionally charged account of Neil’s battle back to sobriety. He’s a journalist. Plus, he just ain’t that kinda guy.

And the jury’s still out if Neil is the sort of guy to stay sober.
The Second:
Having grown up in a family where alcohol was literally non-existent, I can’t begin to know what it’s like living with an alcoholic.

I do know that it means a cycle of profound pain and anger and disappointment and grief for those touched by it. And I’ve seen how that deep, in-your-bones brand of hurt bruises generations because it changes people and their relationships and their view of the world.

But here’s the deal.

Anytime learning about a topic takes me from a place of anger and judgment to a place of compassion and understanding, I feel like I’m growing a bit and doing my part to become a better citizen.

I wrote on this for one reason and one reason only: Because Neil Steinberg’s book Drunkard transformed my perception of alcoholism. This is a Very Big Deal, as Mom can attest. She was shocked by what I wrote because we’ve argued repeatedly (and sometimes rather loudly) about the alcoholism/disease thing over the years.

Beyond the small miracle of changing my narrow opinion about alcoholism, Neil’s book has me assessing our family history to determine if we’re at risk of allowing it to ruin our lives. It's entirely possible. And it is frightening.

Again, I can't imagine what Neil's drinking put his wife and children through. But his book helped me understand that alcoholism isn't about wanting to hurt your spouse or family, it's about your body and your brain making it damn near impossible to avoid hurting them.

And that kind of pain is simply unimaginable.
Unimaginable, but for too many families, all too real.


This may be the last Steinbook Roundup for a while. The references are slowing way down and Mrs. SCAM says I should write about something else anyway. (She's kinda pissed about Mr. Steinberg's context free piece about The University of Chicago honoring the name and ideas of economist Milton Friedman.)

So, unless there is a sudden flurry of Steinbook activity, please don't be surprised when future posts referencing Mr. Steinberg are metaphorical kicks to his shins. But until then, go buy the book.

Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 6
Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 5
Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 4
Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 3
Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 2
Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 1

Friday, August 15, 2008

Obama Supports the Troops... and Vice Versa

From OpenSecrets:
According to an analysis of campaign contributions by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, Democrat Barack Obama has received nearly six times as much money from troops deployed overseas at the time of their contributions than has Republican John McCain, and the fiercely anti-war Ron Paul, though he suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination months ago, has received more than four times McCain's haul.
Deployed troops want a withdrawal timetable that begins on January 20, 2009.

Good News, Bad Pun

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
The 3-year-old boy who fell into Lake Michigan's frigid waters while strapped in his stroller in April has fully recovered, defying the odds and celebrating today with the firefighters, paramedics, doctors and nurses who saved him.

Little Lazar Ognjenovic was out for a walk with his grandfather on April 18 when the stroller he was strapped in blew into Belmont Harbor, where water temperature was 42 degrees.

After weeks in intensive care and months in rehabilitation, Lazar is scheduled to start pre-school in a few weeks, officials said today at a press conference at Children's Memorial Hospital.

"He is absolutely normal," said Dr. Leon Epstein, chief of neurology at Children's Memorial Hospital. "He walks and talks and acts absolutely like a 3-year-old boy."

He also now speaks English. The boy, whose parents are Serbian, only spoke Serbian when he entered the hospital. Now, after months surrounded by English-speaking hospital staff, he is fluent in a second language.
I guess the best way to learn a new language is still immersion.

Huffington Post Chicago: My First Impression

In an effort to establish local cred, HuffPoChi had John Cusack, a Chicago expatriate, composed a harmlessly vanilla ode to our Windy City.

Unfortunately, in that short piece, Mr. Cusack misspelled the name of former Cub, Larry Biittner. And he misspelled the name of former Blackhawk, Chris Chelios.

And the HuffPoChi's inaugural post repeatedly misspelled the name of a former member of the Chicago Bulls -- a fella named Michael Jordan.

Michael Freakin' Jordan!

Chicagoans' notorious homerism will no doubt lead them to forgive Mr. Cusack's transgressions, but our utter contempt for phonies could limit the long-term appeal of Huffington Post Chicago.

A Small Joke By, For and About the Comic Book Geek

The Alias Kid asks: What do you call a comic book geek with a girlfriend?

She's called a lesbian.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

WurfWhile: Lindy Scott Weighs In On McCain “The One” Commercial

Hiram Wurf has some thoughtful analysis from Lindy Scott, former director of Wheaton College's Center for Applied Christian Ethics and former 6th District Congressional Candidate, on McCain's messian-shtick ad, "The One".

Bottom line: It's theology and theme are disrespectful and overreaching.

Transcribed: Voice Mail from a Republican

Yes, I have Republican friends. And they leave me voice mail messages:
You know... sigh

Hi [Austin] this is Dan... and I was listening to the radio and in the lead story on the news was George Fucking Bush talking about how wrong Russia's aggression is... sigh...

I have no idea what the facts are about the Russian involvement in Georgia and... sigh... and I don't care... except to the extent that "Who is George Bush to say that somebody needs to respect someone else's territorial boundaries?" Give me a fucking break!

I just couldn't take it... I had to turn it off.

Talk to you later.
Dan is a pro-life/anti-war Republican. Dan will not be casting a vote in the presidential election.

Friday, August 08, 2008

An Open Letter to John Edwards


When you talked so eloquently about "Two Americas", I didn't realize you had a family for each.

Can I have my campaign donations back now?


"Enemy combatant" will have served his full sentence before Bush leaves office.

From the AP:
The Yemeni man convicted at the first Guantanamo war crimes trial will be eligible for release in less than five months after receiving a light sentence from a jury made up of U.S. military officers.
I'm starting to suspect that the Muslims held at Gitmo might not, in actual fact, be the "worst of the worst."

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

John McCain: Mr. Buffalo Chip

The So.Dak. media reflects on John McCain's visit to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally:
McCain Pimps Out His Wife in Sturgis

While at the Buffalo Chip Campground near Sturgis for the Sturgis Bike Rally yesterday, putative GOP nominee John McCain essentially pimped out his wife Cindy to the rowdy throng. ***

I can see wanting to seem like you’re one of the Peeps. But to offer your own wife to enter an often salacious and nude beauty contest? That’s pretty pig-like like, fellow babies, even to this less than enlightened male. It is particularly undignified for a Presidential candidate.

Can you imagine the uproar if Sen. Barack Obama had done something like this to Michelle?
A lesser blogger might note the prominence
of bottle-blonds -- particularly those with substance abuse problems -- at the Miss Buffalo Chip contest, but I'm gonna try and keep it classy.


Bill Thomasson is The Man

River Forest-Leaves, a member of the Sun-Times News Group, profiles the irrepressible Bill Thomasson.
Oak Park resident Bill Thomasson may be legally blind, but he doesn't feel all that disabled.

Macular degeneration hasn't prevented the freelance medical writer and political activist from serving on the organizing committee for the 11 a.m. Saturday, July 26, Disability Pride Parade though the Chicago Loop.

"It's an inconvenience, but not such a huge deal as you might think," Thomasson said of his fading vision. ***

Purpose of the Disability Pride Parade is to change how people - including many disabled - think about disability, said Thomasson, adding that many people are technically disabled though they don't consider themselves disabled.

"They somehow never got society's message, and hopefully they never will," he said.
Be sure to read the full article.

As someone who has had the privilege of occasionally crossing paths with Mr. Thomasson -- through PSB and his mission-work with DuPage progressives -- I can only aspire to someday be as abled as Bill is.

SCAM Midyear Prognostication

My blogfather, Eric Zorn, has offered and made a call for midyear predictions. My answers to his questions follow:
Q.1 Whom will Barack Obama choose as his running mate?
A1: Chelsea Clinton. She will secure the Clinton supporters and make Obama seem much older.

Q.2 Whom will John McCain pick as his running mate?
A2: Joe Lieberman. He will unify the Death Before Diplomacy vote and make McCain appear steadfast and loyal.

Q.3 Will the White Sox be in first place on Sept. 1?
A3: Yes. And then they will implode.

Q.4 Will the Cubs be in first place on Sept. 1?
A4: Yes. And then they will implode.

Q.5 What will the average price of regular gas be in Chicago on Sept. 1? Q5: Between $4 and $4.30

Q.6 Will State Sen. James Meeks abandon plans to bus Chicago children to Winnetka on the first day of school to try to register at New Trier?
A6: No. Meeks' plan is a brilliant, made-for-tv political stunt.

Q.7 How many gold medals will U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps win in Beijing?
A7: None.

Q.8 Will Gov. Rod Blagojevich sign the ethics bill banning "pay-to-play" campaign donations?
A8: No. But he will be indicted.

Q.9 Will Drew Peterson be indicted for murder?
A9: No. But he will sign the ethics bill.

Q.10 Will state lawmakers and the governor agree on a capital spending bill?
A10: They will agree to disagree so that the money can be spent.
Bonus Prediction: On September 1, after the dust has settled on the Beijing Olympics, Americans will wish they had invested their US dollars in gold.

Sorry I'm Late...

I ran out of gas.
I, I had a flat tire.
I didn't have enough money for cab fare.
My tux didn't come back from the cleaners.
An old friend came in from out of town.
Someone stole my car.
There was an earthquake.
A terrible flood!

Regular blogging has resumed.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

And a six-pack to go... Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 6

6. The Twin Cities' Star Tribune offers this harsh assessment of Neil Steinberg's memoir Drunkard:
[Steinberg's] amazing snobbery does not help endear him to the reader. He sees the people in his AA group as beneath him; he blames [his wife] Edie for his troubles; he gets bored listening to the "woes of others" at his meetings and itches to get back to talking about himself.

But it is his shallow self-image that it is most galling, the way he embraces the mystique of the hard-drinking, Robert Benchley/James Thurber/Mike Royko-type journalist.

He looks at his young sons and thinks, "It kills me that they'll know I'm not the sophisticated dad swirling the wine in his glass and casting off confidence like a glow. They won't admire me."

After 270 pages, he finally has stopped drinking, but you are not at all convinced that it will last. And the emotion you're left with, sadly, is not empathy, but schadenfreude.

5. A more sympathetic -- but harshly titled! -- review/cover-story in The Chicago Jewish News, "Jewish Drunk", explores the role of Steinberg's Judaism:
In a phone conversation (where Steinberg sheds his acerbic self, seems eager to please) he says, surprisingly, that "what helped me get through this was studying Talmud."

Talmud? That wasn't in the book ...

"Talmudic thinking," he amplifies. "Thinking your way out. If you can't drink your way out, you think your way out. The route most people take, putting your faith in Jesus, wasn't really an option for me. I had to think it through really on my own. Being Jewish teaches you to think - the same way when you're six years old you stand up in a room full of gentiles and hold up a menorah and tell them you're Jewish."
4. The Jewish News piece also includes this micro-review from Mrs. Steinberg:
I think it's a magnificent book. It can really help people understand the nature and obsession of addiction, which I think is great. *** Almost everyone can enjoy it. It really can help people understand addiction. So many people know someone who is addicted to something or other - alcohol, illegal or legal drugs. It can really help people.
3. Steinberg's interview with Fox News Chicago is available here.

2. And Steinberg talks with WGN Radio's Kathy and Judy here.

1. And if you want to try a shot of Mr. Steinberg's book for yourself, an excerpt is provided in your Chicago Sun-Times.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Gee mister, I'm not much of a drinker... Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 5

"[S]itting in their underwear in their parents' basements" -- Neil Steinberg's portrait of bloggers, Sun-Times, June 30, 2008.

One day a psychology grad student will submit a thesis paper exploring the early 21st century newspaperman's reoccurring fantasies about this
platonic ideal of the blogger. The dissertation will examine the list of fetishized characteristics published time and again by a variety of ink-stained journalists to describe the idealized mental-model of those who blog:
  • isolated,
  • subterranean,
  • half-naked,
  • with parents lurking just out of earshot.
Of course, the paper would also have to address the niggling question: How exactly is this fantasy anything other than creepy as hell?

Sadly, at the risk of dashing the dreams of newsmen everywhere, this blogger must confess the following: I do not live with my parents. I'm not lonely. I don't blog in the basement. And I don't wear underwear.

Anyway, speaking of Neil Steinberg,
award-winning children's author Ilene Cooper has a review of Neil's "Drunkard" on the Booklist Online:
Incredibly honest (perhaps too honest for his fellow AA members), Steinberg initially wants no part of rehab or Alcholics Anonymous. For one thing, he doesn’t believe in a higher power, and if he did, he would not be inclined to surrender to it. Nor does he have much affection for his fellow addicts, “characters in a mediocre play.” What he loves is booze, and his tone turns almost jaunty as he describes his lapses. He wants a sophisticated life where he can drink, hoping liquour will turn his nebbish-like persona into Mike Royko.
At which point, we ask ourselves, "Just what would it mean for Neil Steinberg to turn into Mike Royko?" Actually, we needn't ask ourselves, because last year Steinberg himself told the Chicagoist exactly what that would mean:
C: Did you know Royko?

NS: Yeah, I did. He was an asshole.
Now I don't profess to know all the magical powers of alcohol, but I do know that turning a man into "an asshole" is well within its meager abilities.

Bonus -- Laurie of Three Boscoe Blog provided this previously unpublished six-word review of Neil Steinberg's "Drunkard":
The guy really loves to drink.
Now that is a pithy writer.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sen. McCain Really is Anti-Tax

John and Cindy McCain have failed to pay taxes on their California beach-front condo for the last four years and are currently in default.

The McCains own no fewer than seven different homes through a variety of trusts and corporations controlled by Cindy McCain.

Reminder: The Democratic nominee is the elitist candidate.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Shaddap ya bums! I'm trying to hear the teevee! -- Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 4

John Callaway's interview with Neil Steinberg will air this evening at 7 p.m. on WTTW Channel 11's "Chicago Tonight."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Gimmie the usual... -- Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 3

What would be the point of working at a newspaper if it didn't hype your new book? Neil Steinberg doesn't have to ponder that question because the Chicago Sun-Times gave his new memoir, Drunkard, the push it deserves.

Here is the unabashed plug from the Sun-Times books editor, Teresa Budasi:
Steinberg did a brave thing writing Drunkard: A Hard-Drinking Life, a post-arrest/rehab memoir -- a memorial of sorts to the once-cherished and romanticized former version of himself as a whiskey-swilling journalist.
The S-T wisely looked outside its offices for the official Chicago Sun-Times Review which was provided by Roger K. Miller, a former Wisconsin newspaper editor:
Steinberg calls himself "a functioning drunkard," a more colorful "slur" he prefers over the clinical word "alcoholic." It fits his sometimes debased behavior, including fishing a bottle of cherry brandy out of the recycling bin to lap the dregs and "snorting" booze by inserting an empty airline minibottle into his nostril and inhaling the alcohol vapors. ***

As a former ink-stained wretch myself, I greatly admire Steinberg's reason for writing Drunkard; not to help others avoid going through what he did -- the high-sounding motive you typically get from people who write about struggles they went through -- but because telling their stories is what writers do and "because doing so somehow redeems us."

It is part and parcel of his honesty in examining his life. Mr. Steinberg, consider yourself redeemed.
Sadly, Mr. Miller is wrong.

Some of my favorite books were written by great writers who were rotten husbands, terrible fathers and miserably failed human beings, see Royko, Michael and Burroughs, William Seward. In my eyes, their books are capital-'g' Great.

But their books, no matter how well-written, honest or beloved, did not -- could not -- redeem their authors of their sins against those who loved them. Great writing alone can no more redeem us of our sins than great cabinetry or great photography can.
One's life can only be redeemed by good living.

Fortunately for Neil, there is plenty good news.

First, none of us are ever really, fully redeemed, so he's got plenty of company on the road to redemption.

Second, an honest and well-written book can be a valuable, powerful tool for living a good life.

And finally, Neil's "Father's Day" piece for the Sun-Times shows that honesty and thoughtfulness -- the characteristics that have served him so well in his chosen occupation -- are serving him in his primary vocation as well.

Note: The Webster Place Barnes & Noble will be hosting Mr. Steinberg's only Chicago area book signing TONIGHT at
7:30 pm.

Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 2
Steinbook Roundup, Pt. 1

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Our two weapons are fear and surprise..." -- Cardinal Ximinez

"Certainly [another terrorist attack on U.S. soil] would be a big advantage to him." -- Charlie Black, chief adviser to Sen. John McCain.

Earlier : "They're going to try to make you afraid."

Fear of a Black Planet President

From your Chicago Tribune:
Barack Obama is telling supporters to watch for his critics to play the race card, even if it is turned over in a subtle way.

The Illinois senator cast the the coming election as a choice between hope and fear, with, in his view, Republican opponents stressing fear of the unknown. That, he said, is likely to encompass his youth, his slim public record, his strange name, and, yes, the idea of a black man in the Oval Office.

"The choice is clear. Most of all we can choose between hope and fear," Obama said at a fundraiser in Jacksonville, Fla., Friday evening. "It is going to be very difficult for Republicans to run on their stewardship of the economy or their outstanding foreign policy.

"We know what kind of campaign they're going to run," he continued. "They're going to try to make you afraid. They're going to try to make you afraid of me -- 'He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?' ''
And if voters really want to cast their ballots based on fear, they should try this on for size: "Ninety-five more years in Iraq."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Romenesko: Redesigned Chicago Tribune to debut in mid-September

Your Chicago Tribune's editor Ann Marie Lipinski:
We are committed to determining the basic architecture and sectioning of the paper within 30 days; deciding on paging (how many and where) within 45 days; understanding our staffing levels throughout the paper in 60 days; and being ready to launch a rethought and redesigned Tribune within 90 days in mid-September.
Fortunately, the best plans are those developed and executed in great haste.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Untimely Death of Tim Russert

Tim Russert, NBC News’ Washington bureau chief and the moderator of “Meet the Press,” died Friday after collapsing. He was 58.

When he suddenly and shockingly died of a heart attack, Tim Russert was thirteen years younger than Sen. John McCain.


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