Thursday, August 31, 2006

Great Country Performers of Illinois

On Wednesday, September 6 at 6:30 p.m., Mr. Robbie Fulks will curate and/or host Great Country Performers of Illinois featuring Casey Driessen, Suzy Bogguss, Kelly Hogan, Scott Ligon, Chris Ligon, Kyle Lehning. Mr. Fulks' website describes it as "two hours of words and music."

I suspect that it'll be "two hours of worthwhile words and great music."

Update 01SEP06: Your Chicago Reader has more details on this free -- FREE -- Great Performers of Illinois series taking place from Wednesday through Saturday.

Although I am partial to the country acts, you can't beat the free performance by the legendary Queen of the Blues, Koko Taylor on Thursday night!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Keith Olbermann on Rumsfeld, Fascism and America

At the risk of turning this site into another damn YouTube-driven video blog, I implore you to watch this Special Comment from MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann.


Update/01SEP06: If you appreciated Mr. Olbermann's Special Comment, pre-ordering his new book, "The Worst Person in the World: And 202 Strong Contenders," would probably be a nice way of saying thanks.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Uhh... It's About... A Guy... Umm... A Stranger... "

Perhaps, if I had never attended seventh grade and had never watched 12-year old classmates attempt to b.s. their way though oral reports on books that they hadn't read, then maybe I might have believed it when Mr. Bush attempted to convince Brian Williams that he actually read Albert Camus' The Stranger:
WILLIAMS: We always talk about what you're reading. As you know, there was a report that you just read the works of a French philosopher. (Bush laughs)

BUSH: The Stranger.

WILLIAMS: Tell us the back story of Camus.

BUSH: The back story of the the book?

WILLIAMS: What led you to...

BUSH: I was in Crawford and I said I was looking for a book to read and Laura said you oughtta try Camus, I also read three Shakespeares.

WILLIAMS: This is a change...

BUSH: Not really. Wait a minute.

WILLIAMS: A few months ago you were reading the life story of Joe DiMaggio by Richard Ben Cramer.

BUSH: Which was a good book.

WILLIAMS: You've been on a Teddy Roosevelt reading kick.

BUSH: Well, I'm reading about the battle of New Orleans right now. I’ve got an eclectic reading list.

WILLIAMS: And now Camus?

BUSH: Well, that was a couple of books ago. Let me look. The key for me is to keep expectations low.
If only my buddies had thought to distract Mrs. Winter with "I also read three Shakespeares."

Q: How can you tell when the president is lying about reading a book?

A: His lips are moving.

It's A Small World After All.

Read this article in which the corrupt governing party attempts to portray Sen. Barack Obama as too inexperienced and as a tool of the opposition party.

And then marvel at the fact that article is in a Kenyan paper, quotes Kenyan politicians and is about corrupt Kenyan politics.

How Do You Say "Karl Rove" In Swahili?

Too Soon... or Too Late?

Q: What's the difference between the man who murdered JonBenet Ramsey and Osama bin Laden?

A: They haven't caught the man who murdered JonBenet Ramsey!

Oh wait...

Monday, August 28, 2006

Long Live the King!

From the Comics Reporter:
Jack Kirby, the sublimely talented comics artist and industry great whose career spanned and frequently drove the first 50 years of the American comic book's existence, not to mention a creator of pop culture as significant as anyone who lived in the 20th Century, was born 89 years ago today.
Forget Elvis. Jack is the King.

All He Can Do Is All He Can Do

Whenever Barack Obama's name is raised as a possible candidate for President, the rightwing critics inevitably cry out, "But what has he accomplished in the Senate?"

Today's rightwing Washington Times tells us how a lone coward in the Senate may have put a stop to an Obama-sponsored bill that would "require the administration to create a searchable Web site that would list the name and amount of any federal grant, contract or other award of money amounting to $25,000 or more."
It's a sign of just how hot an issue pork-barrel spending has become that the biggest game in political Washington this summer is trying to smoke out the senator who is blocking a bill to create a searchable database of federal contracts and grants.

The bill has the support of the Bush administration and activists on widely divergent sides of the political spectrum. It also passed a Senate committee without any objections, so the unknown senator is annoying many people.

Sponsored by Sens. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, and Barack Obama, Illinois Democrat, the bill would require the administration to create a searchable Web site that would list the name and amount of any federal grant, contract or other award of money amounting to $25,000 or more.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, tried to win speedy passage just before the Senate left for its summer break, but at least one senator objected anonymously.

Now, a Web site dedicated to exposing wasteful government spending, is conducting a public campaign to smoke out the obstructor or obstructors, while blogs on both sides of the political spectrum have weighed in, demanding action on the bill.
In essence, the anonymous objection means that a senator has anonymously said that he or she would filibuster the bill if it were brought to a vote on the Senate the floor. If the Bush administration and Sen. Frist were behind Sen. Obama's bill like they say, they would simply bring the bill to the floor and call the mystery senator's filibuster bluff.

But that's a big if.

The "What's Obama Done?" meme has served the Republicans well -- and we know Illinois Republicans love "earmarks" -- so it's simply not in the GOP's interest for Sen. Obama's name to be attached to legislation that would expose pork-barrel "earmarks" to taxpayer scrutiny.

There is more non-Moonie coverage of the anonymous objection to Sen. Obama's bill here and here.

Note: If anyone saw this covered in the Chicago papers, please let me know where.

Note Update: Finally.

The Sun-Times Provides the Dots, But You'll Have To Connect Them Yourself

In their story on the Cook County hiring freeze, your Chicago Sun-Times ran the following denial:
County officials say last year saw a unique slowdown in county hiring and that this year's hiring patterns compare better with earlier years.

"We do not see this as an unusual spike in hiring," said county spokeswoman Chinta Strausberg. "It is not a significant increase in hiring." ***

Strausberg said more than half of those hired were added to the payroll by elected officials other than Stroger -- tops among them Sheriff Michael Sheahan, who was ordered to add jail guards, and Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown, who said she was severely understaffed.
"County Spokeswoman Chinta Strausberg?"


I wonder if -- just by looking around in our copy of the Sun-Times -- we can find another way to characterize Ms. Strausberg's relationship with the County of Cook? Maybe there will be a clue in this chart...


Since the beginning of December, 1,647 full- and part-time employees were added to the Cook County payroll. Not including physicians at county hospitals, those hired with the highest salaries are:

Position Salary
Bruce Washington Director, Capital Planning $133,424
Salvador Godinez Director, Corrections $124,429
Chinta Strausberg Director, Communications $109,233
Rupert Graham Jr. Assistant superintendent, Highway Dept. $108,228
Susan Kortokrax Chief legal counsel, Treasurer $101,831
Lucio Guerrero Director of Appraisals $99,901
Sheila Ahranjani Pharmacy supervisor $91,549
Rayeon Lampkin Director, Radiology/Imaging $88,350
Julie Bracken Senior instructor, Oak Forest Hospital $86,596
Alexander Vroustouris Assistant state's attorney $86,413
Maria Moreno-Szafarczyk Assistant superintendent, Juvenile Center $85,428

Oh, so county spokeswoman Chinta Strausberg, the third highest paid person brought on to Cook County's payroll during its purported hiring freeze, does not see this as "an unusual spike in hiring."

Well, I don't suppose she would, would she?

But why didn't the Sun-Times connect these dots for its readers?

Was it because it was too obvious? I hope not -- because I didn't notice it. It was actually pointed out to me by my lovely and brilliant bride.

The cynical and conspiratorial among us might suggest that the S-T didn't connect the dots out of professional courtesy. It seems that, before cracking the hiring freeze at Cook County, Chinta Strausberg was a highly respected journalist. She was even honored by the General Assembly for "her lifelong dedication to print and electronic journalism."

Although that jaded explanation is tempting, odds are the S-T just failed notice the significant connection between two related pieces of information in two parts of its paper. These things do happen.

But while I'm not willing to take the conspiratorial route this time, oversights like this only serve to make the reading public -- your's truly included -- even more cynical.

And that does both the press and the public a grave disservice.

Friday, August 25, 2006

"So-Called 'Austin Mayor': The Smartest Kid on Earth"?

If you're like me, you're half-queer for Chicagoan Chris Ware's "graphically inventive, wonderfully realized novel-in-comics."

Sadly, that also means you will probably out-bid me in the upcoming e-Bay auction to have your name and "approximate drawn likeness" in a Ware comic strip.

And I suppose that's just as well.

In its review of "Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth," Booklist said, "Ware's hero is a doughy, middle-aged loser who retreats into fantasies that he is 'The Smartest Kid on Earth,'" and it would be a shame if Mr. Ware had to return to such a character just because a blogger won the auction.

The Family Business

That's my family Kay, it's not me. -- Michael Corleone, The Godfather

If you've been following Archpundit's hammering of Illinois Republican, Rep. Jerry Weller for "marrying into a genocidal dictator's family," this article from your Chicago Reader is mostly old news.

But if you haven't, you should definitely read it -- if only to put this in context:
Weller, who’s 49, and Sosa, who’s 38, are married and just had their first child. Weller is up for reelection in November. Sosa is still a leading member of Guatemala’s single-house, 158-member congress, and until earlier this year she sat on its foreign affairs committee, the counterpart to Weller’s committee. She’s the second most powerful person in her party, the Guatemalan Republican Front, or FRG, which was founded in 1989 by her father and is still led by him. It’s been plagued by accusations of corruption, money laundering, and helping drug traffickers, though no one’s accused her personally of any of those things.
Michael Corleone: My father is no different than any powerful man, any man with power, like a president or senator.
Kay Adams: Do you know how naive you sound, Michael? Presidents and senators don't have men killed.
Michael Corleone: Oh. Who's being naive, Kay?

Update: Also in the Reader, Hot Type's Michael Miner tells us a little about the author of the Weller article:
Frank Smyth, author of this week’s cover story, is a freelance lifer, living in a basement in Washington, D.C., with his dog when he’s not reporting the world’s wars for whoever wants his stories. In 1991 he stayed in Iraq after the gulf war ended and was captured in the north as he covered the Kurdish rebellion. Two traveling companions were executed; Smyth was taken to Abu Ghraib and spent 18 days behind bars listening to the screams of prisoners who were being tortured before he was released.

Then he went to Guatemala, to investigate the 1990 murder of anthropologist Myrna Mack. She’d been studying the living conditions of the million Guatemalans uprooted in the 80s by their government’s “scorched earth” counterinsurgency campaign. The chief homicide investigator implicated undercover military units and was gunned down himself.

Last year Smyth was working on a story about Guatemalan drug trafficking and wondered why Congressman Jerry Weller, vice chairman of the House’s western hemisphere subcommittee, wouldn’t talk to him. It turned out that Weller rarely speaks publicly to anybody about Guatemala. His Guatemalan wife, Zury Rios Sosa, sits in the national legislature; her father, Efrain Rios Montt, still powerful, was the country’s president during the bloodiest months of the scorched-earth campaign.
Who's being naive?
Johnny Cash - Ring of Fire 1963

This just might be the best minute-thirty-four of your whole damn weekend.

Perhaps Surrender Shouldn't Be Our First Move In The Fight

Although my dislike opinion of Rahm Emanuel and his undermining of local, grassroots candidates leadership style is well chronicled in this blog, that is not the basis for my low opinion of his new book "The Plan." I would be perfectly willing to embrace a smart program laid out by a smart, but personally distasteful, Machiavelli. But, although he is Machiavellian, Emanuel is no Machiavelli.

Rather, "The Plan" -- like most products of the Democratic Leadership Council -- is not strategically sound.1 The DLC prides itself as a centrist Democratic organization. But by repeatedly surrendering every position left of center, "The Plan" inevitably puts Democrats at a strategic disadvantage.

But don't take my word for it -- just watch "The Plan" at work in your Chicago Sun-Times.

In the August 24 edition of your Chicago Sun-Times, Steve Huntley took a look at Emanuel's new book. After recounting the tired, old saw about the Democrats not having a unified agenda, Huntley begins addressing "The Plan" in the exact same way that every DLC proposal has been addressed by the Republicans -- Start at the Center, Then Negotiate Right.

Consider Rahm's proposal that Americans 18 to 25 be required to do three months of civilian service of basic training, civil defense preparation and community service. Seems like a sound, centerist idea to me. But, of course, we never just stop at the center.

Huntley then pulls the idea to the right: "Given the long struggle we face against terrorist Islamism, what the country needs is a serious discussion about reviving the draft." By having the Democrats begin the debate from the center, "The Plan" makes Republican negotiation to the right ever so much easier.

But that is not an isolated instance. In fact, when discussing "The Plan" for tax reform, Huntley expressly states how the Republicans confront what he characterizes as "centrist Democratic stuff":
Emanuel proposes whacking the 1.4-million-word tax code with its myriad loopholes and replacing it with a system that would mean a one-page tax form for the average family. You might not, and many Republicans certainly won't, sign on to all the details of his plan but it's a good place to start the debate
And that's just how it will go. The DLCers surrender everything left of center before debate even begins and then the Republicans negotiate further and further right.

And I'm not merely crystal ball gazing either.

Hiram Wurf's look back at Bill Clinton's DLC-inspired welfare reform -- "they changed the law and failed to provide a viable alternative for a tremendous number of people" -- shows how a flawed, but fair, centrist idea was constantly tugged to the right until it became deeply flawed and grossly unfair self-parody. Clinton, an otherwise brilliant politician, only now seems aware that every Democratic plan is subjected to ongoing pressure from the right-wing of the GOP and that plans that start from the center simply don't have to slide as much to end up at the far right.

The old saying goes, "If you give them an inch, they'll take a mile."

"The Plan" from the DLC gives them a half-mile. After such a compromise surrender, should Democrats be surprised by how much the Republicans take.

1 This is written under the presumption that "The Plan" is about actual governance and that the DLC has not taken another page from the GOP playbook, i.e. focus solely on winning elections and
disregard concerns about actually governing the country.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

NRCC: Taking The Low Road, or "Xenophobia v. The Warrior Princess"

By now you've got the idea -- Sometimes a political ad can inadvertently reveal more than was intended.

And what does today's NRCC mailer to the 6th District reveal?

It reveals that the Republican party has abandoned any pretense of reaching out to anyone who... well... isn't white.

So the NRCC is scared of immigrants -- or at least wants you to be -- but why?

Clearly it is because immigrants cause the corruption of our culture and language. Just look at this sentence from the mailer:

Surely the NRCC didn't mean to champion the citizenship of "people who play by the rules after breaking the law for years" -- but just writing about immigrants has wiped out their mastery of the English language.

And what about the far west suburban Las Vegas Review Journal's characterization of Maj. Duckworth's "pathway to citizenship" position as "a different term" for amnesty?

Well, her postition is strikingly like the immigration policy proposed by that other notorious liberal -- George W. Bush.

You can't blame the NRCC for trying, though. The Roskam campaign's focus on tax cuts is hard to take seriously when Pork-Barrel Pete has pledged his loyalty to tax-payer funded GOP "earmarks."

But I'm not sure that slinging every Republican turd against the wall to see what sticks is gonna get the job done.

Attn: Comics Dorks

If you aren't a comics dork, you don't care that Journalista: The Comics Journal Weblog is relaunching, after a two-year absence, tomorrow.

If you are a comics dork --
Greetings, brother! -- you'll want to take a sneak peek here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Rahm's "Solid and Sensible" Plan

"Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably will themselves not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will not die."
-- Daniel Burnham
After a less than flattering mini-biography of Rahm Emanuel -- e.g., "Some say Mr. Emanuel learned to act tough to pre-empt the jeers he might otherwise have attracted as a schoolboy ballet dancer in Chicago." -- The Economist blesses "The Plan" by Emanuel and Bruce Reed:
[T]he Plan itself is solid and mostly sensible.

Probably the main reason wages have not risen much in recent years is that health-insurance premiums, which many American employers shoulder, have soared. The Plan lists ways to curb them.

Doctors, rather than being paid for every test and injection they provide—an arrangement that inevitably leads to over-doctoring—should be paid by results. Patients should be given better incentives to stay healthy: insurers, for example, should push them to take free physical exams to spot ailments early. Better use of information technology could supposedly save $162 billion a year. If the system is made more efficient, Mr Emanuel thinks coverage can be extended to all American children.

But he concedes that a nation as individualistic as America will probably never accept a European-style national health service — and he should know, having worked on Hillary Clinton's doomed health project in the 1990s. He argues, however, that maybe, some day, every American might receive a voucher for basic health services from the insurer of his or her choice.

Mindful of the teachers' unions, he avoids the V-word when discussing education. But he has some sensible ideas. Subsidies for those who cannot afford to go to college are currently too complex; he would replace the five main schemes with a single $3,000-a-year tax credit. Teachers should be paid for performance, not just credentials. And schoolchildren should take shorter holidays. (The Democratic Leadership Council, a moderate Clintonian body, made the same proposal last month.)

Americans are not saving enough for retirement. *** Employees should automatically be enrolled in 401(K) pension schemes unless they object. The middle class should be exempt from capital-gains tax. And families with an income of less than $100,000 a year should surrender no more than 10% of it to the taxman.
In other words: Although "The Plan" would be a big improvement over the current Republican fiasco, it contains no blood-stirring surprises for those familiar with the DLC's history of half-measures.

NRCC's Requiem for the Hyper-Rich

Death and Taxes

The two words that just go together -- like Fear and Loathing.

And in today's episode of GOP Mailing Melodrama, the National Republican Congressional Comittee brings all four.

Of course the mailer in question also features low-budget cheesiness that we have come to expect from the NRCC's 6th District correspondence. First, there is pathos via clip art:

But it is somewhat unclear whether the woman in the clip art is trying to stifle her grief, her laughter or her vomit. Perhaps she witnessed something "just disgusting"...

And there is the now familiar odd-ball death imagery:

But there is no explanation why a multi-millionare -- the tax in question only applies to estates in excess of two million dollars -- would have such a battered headstone. And there are no clues as to why the deceased multi-millionare's family -- who, regardless of the size of the estate, inherit the first two million dollars tax-free -- didn't insist that the writing on the gravestone be written in parallel lines.

No one in my family will ever trigger the millionares' estate tax, but I would never EVER stand for such a shoddy headstone.

And there is the obvious question: Is this grave the home of the goofy ghost from the earlier mailer? The voters of the 6th District want answers!

But what about the substance of the mailer? Just as goofy.

"You shouldn't have to pay taxes when a loved one dies"? Okay, you don't have to.

All you have to do to avoid paying taxes "when a loved one dies" is not accept an inheritance from an estate of more than two million dollars. Not only is not inheriting millions my plan for avoiding the estate tax, everyone I know is going to avoid it that way.

And because the tax only applies to multi-million dollar estates -- less than 3 percent of deceased adults in 2002 had estates subject to the tax-- I'll bet that you and almost everyone you know will avoid the estate tax in exactly the same way.

And what about the claim that the multi-millionares' estate tax puts family farms and small business owers at risk?

The truth is that very few actually pay the estate tax.

The Tax Policy Center reports that in 2004, in all of the United States of America, roughly 440 taxable estates were primarily farm and business assets. And even considering estates in which farming or business was a sideline, the Center found only 7,090 taxable estates for 2004 that included any farm or business income. The estate tax repeal benefits primarily non-farmers and non-business-owners. People like the fellow pictured on the right:

And these hard workers:

But what about the mailer's claim that Democrat Major Tammy Duckworth just can't wait to spend your hard earned money?

Eric Krol of your Daily Herald reports that Maj. Duckworth has vowed to cut Congressional spending by ending the wasteful and corrupt practice of "earmarking" pork projects in Washingon. By contrast
Republican congressional hopeful Peter Roskam, who’s always billed himself as a fiscal conservative, tried to walk a political tightrope Monday by embracing an oft-criticized budget tactic for securing federal funding for local projects. The 6th Congressional District GOP nominee said he’d support continuing the so-called practice of “earmarks” if elected to Congress[.]
Well, that sure ain't gonna slow Congressional spending.

So, in conclusion, here are two pieces of free advice.

First, to the NRCC: While it is okay to use cut and paste graphics with no connection to the 6th District in your mailings, you should not use cut and paste arguments about rampant Congressional spending when 1) your party controls Congress, and 2) your candidate has embraced pork barrel spending.

Second, to Republican readers: Please, please, please donate to the National Republican Congressional Committee. No, really. If you're a Republican and have only one dollar to contribute to the election in November, please send that dollar to the NRCC. Nothing would make my Democratic heart happier than to see GOP campaign dollars directed to the masterminds behind these mailings. So Republicans, please give to the NRCC, and give often.

In fact, you Democratic voters might want to contribute to the NRCC trainwreck as well.

Full Flyer in its Full-Color Glory

Due to popular demand, I have posted the notorious pink NRCC mailer in its entirety at The Memory Attic.

I would have posted it here, but the NRCC's "I Love the 80's" color scheme gives me a headache.

Note: The latest NRCC mailing will be posted here later today.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Separated at Smirk

And they have both made careers from obsessing
over others' sexuality and the reproductive organs.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

You Shouldda Been There

Last nights performance by the Bottle Rockets was probably the best I've ever seen. They turbo-charged their usual Waylon/VanHalen sound with a little extra Crazy Horse-power.

But their great when they're mellow too and here's a concert clip from their Live in Heilbronn Germany CD to prove it:

And if you don't dig it -- Well, I pity you.

Friday, August 18, 2006

"They should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason."

More postal goodness from the National Republican Congressional Committee:

While this one is not as egregious as the laughable earlier mailers, it is still pretty damn bad -- just try to parse the sentence that the NRCC chose to highlight on the flip-side:

The sentence's meaning is not immediately clear -- and it isn't even clear whether the apparent desire to reverse the increase in a credit by half is supposed to be a good thing or a bad thing.

And how about that dilemma that the NRCC presents: "Taxes or Diapers?" Geez guys -- and you know it was guys -- maybe next time you might wanna give the reader a desirable option.

But an argument could be made that the choice between a) some taxes to pay off Bush's deficits, and b) something full of the same old shit does properly symbolize voters' choices in November.

As I've said before: sometimes a political ad inadvertently reveals more than was intended. And in this case the NRCC has accidentally presented the voters with the question that must be answered in November:
Do we act like adults and return U.S. tax laws to the levels of the 90's -- when America suffered under the twin scurges of peace and prosperity -- or do we continue to borrow money and pass the Republican's record deficit down to this child and her children?
You shouldn't have to sacrifice your family's future to pay for tax-cuts to the hyper-rich.

We're Living in the Future

You cannot bring a simple bottle of water onto a commercial airliner, even when all parties -- including the security screener -- agree that it is just a bottle of water.

You can, however, board with a Dell laptop -- the battery of which has been known to explode and burst into flame.

Man, the future is weird.

Good Rockin' Tonight

The Bottle Rockets are playing at 10 PM TONIGHT at Schubas Tavern, 3159 N. Southport in Chicago

The scholars at Wheaton College have determined that if the Messiah returned in the form of a rock and roll band, He would most likely be the Bottle Rockets.

Although the controversial study was not peer reviewed, it does conform with my independent analysis.

Photographic Note: There is nothing wrong with the above photograph. After a few cans of Hamms, the band is actually this blurry.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Big Brother Roeser is Watching You

From the Tom Roeser blog:
Defamatory comments will not be tolerated and the individuals who post such comments will be turned over to authorities. Our "reader comments" system allows us to track IP addresses and we intend to collect all information on posters as we possibly can. Thanks!
emphasis added

I had wondered why more folks didn't call Mr. Roeser on some of his nuttier posts -- and the curious grammar in the second bold phrase.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Message Discipline

Although regular readers may find it hard to believe that this blog's author has had some training in political communication, nevertheless, it is true.

And one of the little nuggets I have taken away from that training is that the most important message in a political mailer is the one that the recipient reads as she carries the document from the mailbox to the trashcan.

With that in mind, I asked a pal what he thought of this political mailer:

Glancing at it briefly, he declared it one of the worst mailers he had ever observed. Although the mail-to-the-trash message was clear -- that Tammy Duckworth would make a difference if elected -- it was not clear how Tammy Duckworth would make a difference.

Then I pointed out the source:

At which point he declared it the single worst mailer he had ever observed.

I think the Duckworth team owes the NRCC a big "Thank You."

Rich Miller: "John Laesch is a Jerk"

An attack on one pseudonymous political blogger is an attack on every pseudonymous political blogger.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Blago Campaign Jumps the Shark

From the Herald & Review:
Gov. Rod Blagojevich lashed out at the Springfield press corps Friday, repeatedly calling them "sharks" while comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln.

The Chicago Democrat, making a rare appearance in the capital city to open the Illinois State Fair, defended his administration's handling of alleged corruption in state hiring.

But he would not take personal responsibility for the woes that have tainted his first term in office, instead blaming disgruntled state workers and the media for much of the problems he faces. ***

Rather, he said he's left the job of policing hiring to his inspector general's office and said that he would not take credit or blame for the hiring problems.

"Look, I'm modest. You want me to pat myself on the back? I'm not going to do that," he said.

Later, however, the governor compared himself to Lincoln during the Civil War, saying there have been "ups and downs" as he's attempted to reverse 26 years of Republican dominance in the governor's office.

"Not every military initiative from the Union Army was successful. It took awhile to kind of get that together and get it right. But the whole purpose of what they were trying to do was absolutely right, keeping the country together and then emancipating the slaves and providing freedom to millions and millions of people," Blagojevich said.
If you're in Springfield for the Fair, visit the Abraham Lincoln Museum -- and be sure to check out the exhibit recounting the time Honest Abe hid behind a crying baby.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

"Bump Keying"

And this is why I always have a bucket of acid propped above the front door.

"Then As Farce"

A wise man once said that a political ad can sometimes inadvertently reveals more than was intended. Today's installment from the National Republican Congressional Committee reveals one thing clearly: The GOP is out of ideas.

For years the Republican party has developed and perfected campaigns based on the toxic combination of Fear and Tax-Cuts. But now, as evidenced by this bizarre mailer from the NRCC, the GOP's once-trusted union of Fear and Tax-Cuts now produces freakish, mutant offspring.

Year after year, the Republicans returned to the same political gene-pool: Fear and Tax-Cuts, Fear and Tax-Cuts. And by doing so, the GOP has produced a inbred child of a campaign -- one that is ugly, dull and witless.

9.9 Million Reasons To Support a Living Wage

Your Chi-Town Daily News reports that documents released Tuesday by the Living Wage Coalition showed Target Corp. has received $9.9 million of taxpayer money to open stores in Chicago:
Target has received $5.3 million in city funds to subsidize a store in McKinley Park and $4.6 million to subsidize a store on West Peterson Avenue, according to the Neighborhood Capital Budget Group. ***

Supporters of the ordinance claim big-box retailers are some of the nation's wealthiest corporations, can afford the wage hike and will be drawn to Chicago's huge market potential despite it.

The report is, in part, a response to Target Corp.'s claim that the minimum-wage ordinance makes the opening of new stores in Chicago cost-prohibitive.

And that's just two Target stores. There is not yet word on how many tax-payer dollars the 40+ other Chicago big boxes have collected.

Obama Will Support Lamont

It says something about the state of politics in this country that this item is newsworthy: Sen. Barack Obama will support Connecticut's Democratic Senate nominee.

It seems that Democratic senators supporting the Democratic candidate nominated by Democratic voters in the Democratic primary should be a no-brainer.

But I'm sure I will be startled by the number of Democratic "leaders" who will back George Bush's favorite Democratic senator.

Update: One local outcome of this race will be the Democratic Whip — you know him as Illinois Sen. Richard Durbin — receiving demands that Lieberman be removed from his party committee assignments if continues his run as an independent.

And folks can contact Sen. Durbin’s office here:

Monday, August 07, 2006

What Are You Doing With YOUR Freedom?

"Use Your Freedom To Write Wrongs."

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Revealed: RNC Vision of Female 6th District Voters

Sometimes a political ad inadvertently reveals more than was intended.

For example, this mailing from the National Republican Congressional Committee indicates that they either believe that the ladies of the 6th District are crazed, screaming harpies or that they don't mind being portrayed as such.

I would understand if this photo of a shreaking fury was mailed exclusively to the Illinois Family Institute crowd -- they do strike me as a shrill, bun-haired bunch -- but this mailer was addressed to 'The Bride of So-Called "Austin Mayor"'.

Something tells me that this bizare mailing from the NRCC is not going to make up for Creepy Pete's crumbing field organization.

"A Pittance"

Judge Richard Posner weighs in on the criminally low minimum wage:
At the current minimum wage in Illinois of $7.75 an hour, an employee who works 2000 hours a year (a 40-hour week with two weeks of annual vacation) and is paid the minimum wage earns only $15,500 a year. This is a pittance, though if the minimum-wage employee's spouse is employed at a significantly higher wage, the family's income may not be at a hardship level. Similarly, the minimum-wage employee may be an elderly person who receives social security and Medicare and may have a company pension in addition. These possibilities show that minimum wage laws, even if they had no disemployment effects, would be a clumsy instrument for combating poverty.

A better approach than raising the mininum wage would be increasing the earned-income tax credit (negative income tax), which is a method of increasing the earnings of marginal workers without confronting their employer with a higher cost of labor and thus inducing the employer to discharge those workers whose marginal product is lower than the minimum wage. But this would be difficult for an individual city or even state to do; it would require federal action.
Which is yet another reason America needs new management.

via your Chicago Reader's
Daily Harold.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Love is Dead

"Sitting on a hillside, Watching all the people die, I'll feel much better on the other side." -- Arthur Lee (March 7, 1945 – August 3, 2006)

I'm No Bravehart

After extensive scientific experimentation, I have determined that I am incapable of drinking so much alcohol that I become a raving anti-semite.


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