Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Democratic Choice in Black and White

Now that John Edwards has dropped out of the race, Democrats have to decide what they are going to offer to the nation in November.

Barack Obama or Clinton Drama...

I feel pretty confident I'd have a much easier time selling one than the other.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Well, Gollllly Sgt. Carter -- Army Recruiting More Morons.

Veterans, remember the dumbest guy in your unit? The dumbest guy in that unit is much, much dumber now.

From Fred Kaplan of Slate:
In order to meet recruitment targets, the Army has even had to scour the bottom of the barrel. There used to be a regulation that no more than 2 percent of all recruits could be "Category IV"—defined as applicants who score in the 10th to 30th percentile on the aptitude tests. In 2004, just 0.6 percent of new soldiers scored so low. In 2005, as the Army had a hard time recruiting, the cap was raised to 4 percent. And in 2007, according to the new data, the Army exceeded even that limit — 4.1 percent of new recruits last year were Cat IVs.
Perhaps having one half-wit for every 25 soldiers is acceptable; but ultimately, there is a zero-to-hero ratio that will cripple the military.

And the trend line under this commander-in-chief is alarming.

Sophie's Choice in the 6th District


Jill Morgenthaler in the Chicago Tribune:
Morgenthaler does not support a pullout of troops and said she believes it is likely the U.S. will have to maintain a presence of 30,000 troops because of its national interests in the region. The surge is working, she said.
Stan Jagla in the Daily Herald:
"Forced learning of English is another form of a hate crime," Jagla said.
Let's give a big round of applause and a shiny participation ribbon to the current leadership of the Democratic Party of DuPage County for their success... uh... efforts at candidate recruitment.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dreams of a President Like My Father

In her endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama, Caroline Kennedy, author of "A Patriot’s Handbook" (and daughter of some fellow named "John F. Kennedy"), gets to the heart of Sen. Obama's appeal:


While some may discount the inspirational effects of Sen. Obama, we should remember that this nation is broadly religious, deeply spiritual and fundamentally optimistic. And inspired Americans are willing to put their faith into works for ideas and goals that are unseen and even unlikely.
  • Inspiring leadership guided America's birth.
  • Inspiring leadership saved the Union and broke the back of slavery.
  • Inspiring leadership brought the nation out of the darkness of the Depression and smashed the Nazi war-machine.
  • Inspiring leadership envisioned a merciful victory that rebuilt and transformed Europe and Japan, allowing bitter enemies to be reborn as democratic allies.
  • And inspiring leadership put a man on the moon.
A man on the moon, people!

While we were watching Sen Obama's post-South Carolina speech, Kid Alias turned to me and said, "Obama's lofty vision not only makes look forward to voting for him -- it makes me look forward to doing the work to make that vision a reality."

Yes friends, Sen. Obama's rhetoric literally made the Kid ask what he could do for his country.

Although an inspirational president alone cannot return our country to greatness, make no mistake, America cannot return to greatness without an inspirational president.

And Barack Obama could be that president.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Trib Endorses Obama, Nails Clinton

From your Chicago Tribune's endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama:
Obama's key opponent, U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, unifies only her foes. Her penchant for gaming every issue — recall her clumsy dodging when asked in a Philadelphia debate whether illegal immigrants should be licensed to drive — feeds suspicion of maneuvering that would humble Machiavelli.

As this campaign has progressed, Hillary Clinton in moments of crisis hasn't been an ennobling sight. Her reliance on her husband, the less-than-presidential Bill, to trash-talk Obama reaffirms that the Clintons do whatever it takes to prevail. Depicting Obama's record on Iraq as a "fairy tale" is instructive: Think what you will of the war, but Sen. Clinton was an enabler when that was popular. In Kerryspeak, she was for the war before she was against the war.
A little over a year ago, while a collegue and I were discussing the Democrats prospects in '08, the question arose, "How can the Democrats lose this one?"

Well, the primary has shown us the answer: Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Poetry, Prose, Power, Primaries and Politics

"You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose." -- Hillary Clinton

"When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the areas of man's concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses, for art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstones of our judgment. The artists, however faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an officious state." -- John Fitzgerald Kennedy

I'm sure President Kennedy was also speaking of those occasions when
power leads a woman towards arrogance...

Historic Endorsement

"We are persuaded that the election of [the gentleman from Illinois] will do more than anything else to appease the excitement of the country. He has proved both his ability and his integrity; he has had experience enough in public affairs to make him a statesman, and not enough to make him a politician." -- James Russell Lowell, editor, The Atlantic

Your Primary Homework

Professor Archpundit has your reading assignment:
Well, what are you waiting for? Start clicking.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ch-ch-changes: Rolling Back the Enlightenment (updated)

"I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God, and that's what we need to do is to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than try to change God's standards." -- Mike Huckabee

Spurred by Mr. Huckabee's modest proposal, here are some things -- other than the Constitution of the United States of America -- that may need to be changed so they're "in God's standards":

* The Speed of Light -- Scientists claim that electromagnetic radiation propagates in a vacuum at 186,282 miles/second.

By contrast, Genesis 1:3 states, "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." In dry air with a temperature of 70 F, the speed of God's statement, or any sound, sound is merely 770 mph. Although the humidity variables due to the Spirit of God's movement "upon the face of the waters" could impact the calculation, the Speed of Light clearly must be adjusted down to approximately 770 mph "so it's in God's standards."

* The Geological Record -- Stratigraphic evidence has convinced scientists that the Earth is 4.5 to 4.6 billion years old. Furthermore, radiometric dating verified that the relative time scale determined by stratigraphers is absolutely correct, a result that could only have been obtained if both the relative time scale and radiometric dating methods were independently correct.

Of course, creationists like Mr. Huckabee know that our planet was actually created in just six 24-hour days only six to ten thousand years ago.

Therefore, the geological record of billions and billions of years of stratification and transformation of the Earths crust must be reduced to 120,000 months "so it's in God's standards."

* Linnaean Taxonomy -- Although it has been modified as our understanding of the relationships between living things has changed, biological scientists have relied on Carl Linnaeus' robust hierarchical system -- classifying living creatures in domains and kingdoms all the way down to genera and species -- for more than two centuries. Although it would appear to have passed the test of time, the Linnaean system of biological categorization is woefully flawed in light of "the word of the living God."

Under Linnaeus' system, whales are those Cetaceans which are not members of the families Delphinidae, Platanistoidae or Phocoenidae. This may seem perfectly harmless, but consider: the Linnaean system asserts that order Cetaceans is a member of the class Mammalia.

But Jonah 1:17 of "the word of the living God" tells us that the whale that swallowed and housed Jonah for 3 days was "
a great fish" not a warm-blooded, vertebrate animal characterized by the presence of sweat glands -- including milk producing sweat glands to feed their live born offspring -- by hair, a neocortex region in the brain and a four-chambered heart.

the Linnaean Taxonomy must be tossed to put our characterization of animal life in line with "the word of the living God."

* The Global Earth -- Although scientific experimentation and simple human observation have determined that our home planet is spherical, "the word of the living God" says otherwise.

Revelation 7:1 states, "
And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree." Clearly corners are not an attribute of a round planet, and thus, the Earth cannot be a globe.

Therefore, the globes in homes and classrooms around the nation must be flattened to conform with "
the word of the living God."

These may seem like extreme measures, but it will be much easier than trying
to change Huckabee's God's standards.

UPDATE -- In his backpedaling from 67 year-old Chuck Norris' comments about 71 year-old John McCain's age, Mr. Huckabee said the following:
"It is a very stressful position... I'm not going to say he's too old. I think he's got a lot of inner strength, good genetic factors by his mom." (emphasis added)

So apparently, the science of genetics -- at least maternal genetics -- is "
in God's standards."

Willard "Mitt" Romney: The Genuine Phony

From the Huffington Post:
Keith Olbermann made a great catch on MSNBC tonight: In awaiting a victory speech from Nevada caucus winner Mitt Romney, Olbermann noticed the candidate, well-known for being perfectly groomed and coiffed, shedding his blazer en route to the stage and rolling up his sleeves before being introduced and taking the mic for his speech. Noted Olbermann: "Something that you rarely get to see: Two actual pieces of political stagecraft....he first took off his jacket and then he rolled his sleeves up slightly so we can get that full working-man candidate thing going. Normally they do not let us see anything like that with cameras rolling."
The video is here.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Playing to the Republican Base

"You don't want anyone from out of state comin' down and telling you what to do with your flag. In fact, if somebody came to Arkansas and told us what to do with our flag we'd tell them where to put the pole."
-- Mike Huckabee, Republican presidential candidate.


It has come to the attention of the editors that an error crept into our recent piece on the role of race and change in the 2008 presidential election.

The insurgent, libertarian candidate for the Republican presidential nomination is Ron Paul not RuPaul.

The editors regret the error.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Attn: DuPage County Employees

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
[Illinois whistleblower law now] protects whistleblowers from retribution and offers rewards. If the government recovers money from contractors defrauding state government, the whistleblower can take home up to 30 percent.

Until last week, the law only applied to whistleblowers in state government and a handful of Illinois municipalities. Now, the Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act offers protections and rewards for people who identify fraud in all forms of government -- from counties to the CTA and the local Water Reclamation District. ***

The law, pushed by Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn, offers incentives for whistleblowers and also can serve as a powerful deterrent. If the government proves fraud, the contractor must repay the government three times the damages plus fines. The contractor must also pay legal fees both for the whistleblower and the government. ***

Under a similar federal law, the government has recovered more than $20 billion since 1986. More than $2 billion went to whistleblowers, according the U.S. Department of Justice.
Patt Quinn told your Chicago Tribune,
"We've had a 'corruption tax' that taxpayers are sick and tired of paying.":
Quinn said that with local governments' tax bills going out Feb. 1, the expanded law is a way to protect the tax dollars that people pay. Corruption "is a blow for property taxpayers," he said. "When they see monkey business in government, they should report that monkey business."
Not that such things ever occur in any corner of DuPage County government.

ST's Carol Marin on Mark Pera and The Prince

From your Chicago Sun-Times:
Pera has less in common with the Lipinski machine than any other contender when it comes to social, economic or foreign policy matters. Pera is more liberal, Lipinski more conservative, on everything from social issues to support for the Iraq war.

But more important may be Pera's willingness to buck accepted Chicago political practices. It is he who has most aggressively raised the ethical questions that Dan Lipinski has long needed to answer but apparently just can't.

Questions like how in the world can he justify having had his father, now a lobbyist for the transportation industry, on his payroll as a consultant?

How can he comfortably take campaign contributions from the airline and rail companies that also pay his dad's salary?

And how the heck can he allow his dad's so-called charity, the All American Eagle Fund, which does precious little charity except for needy politicians, pay for work done by Dan's congressional chief of staff?
Find out how you can help Mr. Pera clean Chicago's ethical Augean Stables here.

Monday, January 14, 2008

SCAM Scoop: Exclusive with UCF Champ Fighter, Matt Hughes

Last week, 9-Time UFC Welterweight Champion, Matt Hughes was signing Michael Malice's his new book at the Borders Books & Music in Wheaton.

The turn-out was huge and the store ran out of books. And your reporter was able to have the following EXCLUSIVE interview with Hughes:
SCAM: Looking good, champ.

Hughes: Thanks.*
But the best part of the evening was one Tapout-adorned goofball telling another Tapout-adorned goofball the following as they left the store with their newly-signed books:
He needs a stronger handshake -- that was weak!
I wonder how many of those books will even get their spines cracked, much less be read beyond the third chapter.

*Folks who think, "I don't need newspapers, I get my news from the internet!" should be aware that this is the type of journalism they can expect from a post-newspaper press.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Truly Great Comedy is Timeless

Selections from Bob Hope's Political Gag Bag:
  • When Republicans play Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey, they use ice picks.
  • He's so dumb about world affairs, he thinks the Kremlin is a hair tonic.
  • Some politicians speak just as they think -- just oftener.
  • There's lots of duplication in Washington -- everyone doing nothing.
  • I like to go to Washington -- if only to be near my money.
  • Oratory -- that's the art of making deep noises from the chest sound like important messages from the brain.
  • He was 20 years old before he found out the Encyclopedia Britannica wasn't a British bicycle.
  • Politician -- that's a man who approaches every problem with an open mouth.
In defense of the late, great Mr. Hope, these gags from 1956 are at least as funny as those heard on Leno's strike-crippled Tonight Show.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The State of Newpaper Journalism

The idea that any newspaper readers appear to seriously consider Parade magazine an instrument of journalism profoundly saddens me.

That decision-makers at the Chicago Tribune appear to seriously consider Parade magazine an instrument of journalism makes me a little sick.

Here is a quick review for newspaper readers and producers:

  • Horoscopes don't predict your future,
  • Dick Tracy is does not chronicle an actual police investigation,
  • Wrestling isn't a real sport,
  • And the Parade insert does not deliver news.
For that matter, neither do the Travel, Food, Automotive or Real Estate sections of the newspaper.

You must look down on the enemy, and take up your attitude on slightly higher places. -- Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

"Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting." -- Sun Tzu, The Art Of War

I probably would have taken my granny's advice -- "Kill 'em with kindness" -- more seriously if I had realized that she, like Obama, had a taoist fighting spirit.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Revealed: The Secrets of Science Fiction's Silliest Religion

The Daily Mail reports that Tom Cruise is reportedly furious over claims by Diana author Andrew Morton:
  • Cruise is Xenu's number two earthling
  • Daughter by Katie Holmes "conceived like Rosemary's Baby"
  • Nicole Kidman "feared blackmail" over sex tapes made with Scientologists
  • Scientologists "planted meadow of flowers for Tom and Nicole to run through"
  • Cruise's next mission for Xenu is to recruit David Beckham
I can certainly see how the allegations of a flower meadow hoax might anger the Days of Thunder star.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Transforming a Puny Ant into a Mighty Blue Giant?

From Dick Simpson's Chicago Sun-Times column entitled "Progressives moving on up":
In DuPage County, the new progressive organization, Turn DuPage Blue, is set to win so many Democratic precinct committeemen races that they will take over and revitalize the DuPage County Democratic Party in another longtime Republican bastion.
And that, true believers, will be a super-special Tale to Astonish!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Signs of the End Times

"But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house." Mark 6:4

In light of the key role right-wing, evangelical fundamentalism played in the outcome of Iowa's Republican caucuses, I would like to remind readers of Eric Zorn's column of January 20, 2005, a singularly great moment of liberal, secular-humanist prophesy:

But as with any prophet, there were some doubters.

Next Month's SCAM Book Club Title

Still Only Fifty Cents!

From your Chicago Tribune:
Chicago Sun-Times executives told the newsroom today that 40 positions would be eliminated, including 35 union reporters, columnists and section editors and five non-union management positions, sources at the paper said Friday.
You need at least five human beings to put together a basketball team. You can play hoops with fewer bodies, but it won't be a real basketball team.

The Sun-Times is rapidly approaching the absolute minimum number of humans necessary to put together a newspaper. They can still go to press with fewer bodies, but it won't be a real newspaper.


From the desk of Peter H. Cropes:
A little while back I mentioned that I was not happy with Rachael Ray, a famous television personality, because of the way she spoke low of perch. I guess I never told you how my "visit" to her went. Well, it is the holidays, and I finally have some time to myself, so here is that story.


A heartfelt congratulations to:
  1. Sen. Obama and his campaign staff.
  2. The Illinois volunteers who worked Iowa into submission.
  3. The Iowans who turned out for the Democratic caucuses in record numbers.
Onward and upward!


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