Thursday, May 31, 2007


so·ci·o·path ('sē-ə-păth', -shē-) n. One who is affected with a personality disorder marked by antisocial behavior. Sociopaths are interested only in their personal needs and desires, without concern for the effects of their behavior on others. (see also psychopath.)

From Mark Silva, of your Chicago Tribune:
Several mothers who have lost children at war in Iraq took part in a new talk show today on National Public Radio.

One of them, Elaine Johnson, recounted a meeting that she had with President Bush in which he gave her a presidential coin and told her and five other families: "Don’t go sell it on eBay.”
Silva also provided a link to an excerpt from the interview on NPR's
Tell Me More.

Blue Humour

A Matter of Life and Death

Eric Zorn, capital punishment opponent and blog-father at your Chicago Tribune, presents the hard facts about life-without-parole sentences to death penalty opponents in today's column:
If you want to wage a fight against the death penalty that has any chance of success, you have to accept life-without-parole sentences as the trade-off.

But if you want to fight for earned release or other formal programs to reduce life sentences, you have to accept the death penalty, at least for the foreseeable future.

It's your choice, activists, but you've got to make it.
I agree whole-heartedly with EZ's dichotomy. And for that reason, I believe there is an equity argument to be made for life-without-parole sentences.

First, we know that people in Illinois have been wrongly convicted of murder.

Some of those wrongly convicted persons have been wrongly sentenced to life-without-parole and some have been sentenced to the death penalty.

In the case of the unjust l-w-p, the worst-case injustice is that a person wrongly convicted of murder must face the prospect of never again being free. This is unjust and inhumane and under any other circumstances, I would find it intolerable.

But it pales in comparison to the case of an unjust conviction coupled with the death penalty. In this case, the person wrongly convicted is put to death by the state. Game over.

The wrongly convicted l-w-p prisoner can hold out hope that new evidence -- or new technology that can illuminate old evidence -- will emerge that will exonorate him or her. The wrongly convicted prisoner who is put to death will never get an opportunity to clear his or her name, never get an opportunity to walk free, never get an opportunity to breath.

Both unjust outcomes are bad.

But one is much, much worse.

Illinois citizens concerned with maximizing the justice in our criminal justice system should work to eliminate the worse -- infinitely worse -- outcome.

A Simple Solution to the On-Going and Ever-Growing Justice Department Scandal

"Japanese Cabinet Minister Commits Suicide"

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Many, Many Questions Remain About Deadly Drunk Driving and DuPage County Prosecutors

At his Public Affairs blog, Jeff Berkowitz observations on the mid-day binge boozing and deadly drunken driving in Joe Birkett's frat house the office of the DuPage County State's Attorney makes it worth wading through Jeff's maddening use of bold text.
Think about it. Eight prosecutor colleagues (and a secretary) are at a restaurant for a few hours. One of them, supervisor A, drinks enough to have a blood alcohol content of three times the legal limit for driving. Another, supervisor B, drinks some and the others perhaps not at all. When they leave, nobody thinks it wise to make sure supervisor A does not drive. Could this be? Let’s take a look.
Go. Take a look.

More Republican Wishful Thinking

"Giuliani has a certain amount of star power like Obama."
-- Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) via your Chicago Sun-Times

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day in Chicago

Don't forget to thank a Vet.

Sweet: Duckworth May Take Another Shot

Lynn Sweet of your Chicago Sun-Times confirms our suspicions:
Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs chief Tammy Duckworth told the Chicago Sun-Times she is considering a second run for Congress, torn this Memorial Day weekend over whether she can do more good for vets in her current post or in the House.

Duckworth, a wounded Iraq war vet, is weighing a rematch with Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) in the west suburban 6th District after a narrow loss to him in 2006.

"I am wrestling with it on a daily basis," she said when we talked Sunday. ***

She said she is uncertain about running again because as the top state veterans official, "I am actually making things happen."

In six months, Duckworth has helped develop state programs giving tax credits to employers who hire vets who served in Iraq, Afghanistan or Desert Storm, more state grants to service organizations, and backing for below-market mortgages for veterans. ***

In 2008, Duckworth's turnout could be boosted by powerful coattails: Sen. Dick Durbin, who first persuaded Duckworth to run, will be leading the state ballot, and White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama will either be the presidential or vice presidential nominee or campaigning on behalf of the national ticket. ***

One of her advisers, Bill Brandt, who raised money for Duckworth, said the "real issue" is for Duckworth to determine the "best way to deal with this avalanche of injured soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan."

Michael in Chicago gave his two cents at PrairieStateBlue:

I feel it would be a pretty poor move politically if she didn't strike out for the seat now. Roskam isn't going to get any weaker. And there is no more Cegelis and her campaign of ignorant misfits (like myself) to stand in her way. If she's got a chance, 2008 represents her best shot.
And in 2008, she probably represents the Dems best shot.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

So-Called "Blog Post"

“He does all this and he stays anonymous. I think that's great. These days everyone is trying to be famous. But he has anonymity.” -- Brad Pitt.

The New Yorker, in a piece on graffiti artist so-called "Banksy", touches on the issue of so-called pseudonyms:
The creative fields have long had their shadowy practitioners, figures whose identities, whether because of scandalous content (the author of “Story of O”), fear of ostracism (Joe Klein), aversion to nepotism (Stephen King’s son Joe Hill), or conceptual necessity (Sacha Baron Cohen), remain, at least for a time, unknown.

Anonymity enables its adopter to seek fame while shielding him from the meaner consequences of fame-seeking. In exchange for ceding credit, he is freed from the obligations of authorship. ***

The graffitist’s impulse is akin to a blogger’s: write some stuff, quickly, which people may or may not read. Both mediums demand wit and nimbleness. They arouse many of the same fears about the lowering of the public discourse and the taking of undeserved liberties.
Perhaps the best comparison the relative status of graffiti art and blogging is this assessment of Banksy from the Guardian, "[H]e's often feted as a genius straddling the bleeding edge of now. Why? Because his work looks dazzlingly clever to idiots. And apparently that'll do."

Friday, May 25, 2007

Don't Make Me Say, "I Told You So."

In Greek mythology, Cassandra was a Trojan princess whose beauty compelled Apollo to grant her the gift of prophecy. But when she did not return his love, Apollo placed a curse on her so that no one would ever believe her predictions so that her gift of prophecy would bring only endless pain and frustration.

On a related note, via Boing-Boing:
[BBC investigative reporter] Greg Palast says 4.5 million votes will be shoplifted in 2008, thanks largely to the “Rove-bots” that have been placed in the Justice Department following the U.S. Attorney firings. Being the guy who uncovered the voter “purge lists” of 2000 that disenfranchised black voters, he’s worth listening to, even if the mainstream press chooses not to.

This time around, he claims to have the 500 emails that the House subpoenaed and Karl Rove claims were deleted forever. They prove definitively, says Palast, that the Justice Department is infested with operatives taking orders from Rove to steal upcoming elections for Republicans and permanently alter the Department.
Go read the interview with Palast and decide for yourself if he is right or if he's wrong. (Or if he's being set up like Dan Rather?)

And keep this quote from the BBC reporter in mind: "[T]here’s no First Amendment in England. I’m wrong, I’m sued, I’m broke, I’m toast."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Brickhead Stonewalling?

I'm not saying that DuPage County State's Atty. Joseph Birkett's office is engaging in a cover-up -- I'm just saying that, if they were engaged in a cover-up, it would look a lot like this:
A man involved in the collision that killed a drunk DuPage County prosecutor said Monday that the state's attorney's office should provide a more public accounting of where Jane Radostits was and who was with her in the hours before the crash.

"She almost killed me and my son," said Henry Gutzwiller, a Carol Stream electrician. "These people should be held to a higher standard. They see these DUI cases all the time."

The DuPage County sheriff's office is investigating the crash, but State's Atty. Joseph Birkett declined to say whether he was reviewing if other members of his staff were with Radostits before she crashed a county-owned Chevrolet Impala the afternoon of May 11. ***

Last week Birkett said Radostits left work the day she died after a bomb threat closed the courthouse. He said she had permission to take the rest of the day off and that she had gone shopping with another prosecutor. He has declined further comment about the events and will not name the other staff member.

Sources said Monday that Radostits and Assistant State's Atty. Jeffrey Kendall went to a west suburban restaurant for lunch and drinks with several colleagues after shopping. One of the prosecutors then drove Radostits back to the Wheaton courthouse to retrieve her car, sources said.
"Her car"?

No... Your car.

As noted earlier in the story, the car she was driving when she smashed into Gutzwiller -- the car she was driving drunk three times over -- was a county car.

Your tax dollars at work.
Kendall said Monday that he was taking time off, but declined to elaborate. "I am going to take a vacation for a couple of weeks, and that's about it," he said. ***

"[Birkett is] trying to brush it under the rug. 'She made one mistake and she paid with her life,'" Gutzwiller said, echoing Birkett's comments last week. "No... He needs to get a handle on his department."
Anyone want to take my bet that we see a few of Birkett's prosecutors belly-up for a round of rehab/apology cocktails à la Mel Gibson, Mark Foley and Ted Haggard?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

America: "Stand Back! I've Got a Gun!"

From your Chicago Tribune:
A 400-pound gorilla escaped from his enclosure and ran amok in a Rotterdam zoo Friday, biting one woman, dragging her around, and causing panic among dozens of visitors before he was finally subdued, officials and a witness said.

The Diergaarde Blijdorp zoo was evacuated and the 11-year-old gorilla, named Bokito, was eventually contained in a restaurant within the park, police spokeswoman Yvette de Rave said.

Four people were injured, including the woman who was bitten, zoo director Ton Dorrestijn said.
If only there were common sense way that this European gorilla crisis could have been brought to an end sooner -- like by arming children with .22 caliber rifles:

click image to enlarge (and brilliant commentary)

Thanks Jim and Judy!

Once again, our liberal firearms laws have made American citizens much safer than their European counterparts.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Maul of America

Here's a question that Mark Evanier thinks should be asked of all the Republican candidates in their next debate:
The questions in this round will be premised on a fictional, but we think plausible scenario involving terrorism and the response to it.

Here is the premise: Three shopping centers near major U.S. cities have been hit by suicide bombers. Hundreds are dead, thousands injured. A fourth attack has been averted when the attackers were captured off the Florida coast and taken to Guantanamo Bay, where they are being questioned.

U.S. intelligence believes that another larger attack is planned and could come at any time but that they can prevent it if you will only vote for wealthy Americans to shoulder at least the same tax burden as lower and middle-class citizens.

What would you do?
Evanier shares my belief that we could wave bye-bye to that fourth shopping center.

Monday, May 14, 2007

At Last -- My Pain Has A Name

'[F]or the record, I would like it known that I am not an “idiot.” I am a person who suffers from idiocy. Nobody knows what it is like to deal with crippling bouts of idiocy while trying to lead a normal life. The last thing I need is for somebody to make it harder by pointing out what an “idiot” I am. *** Those of us unfortunate enough to be afflicted with idiocy are not grotesque caricatures or figures of fun. Idiocy can strike anybody, from the man who says he cleaned your chimney to the President of the United States. Very few of us conform to the old stereotype of the guy in the dunce cap sticking his finger in a light socket.' -- Ian Frazier, The New Yorker, May 7, 2007

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Springfield Artist's Family Needs Help

The State Journal-Register reports that the death of Springfield comic-book artist Tom Artis has left his family in cruel, cruel economic straits:
The family has no money to pay for Artis’ burial and funeral services while trying to keep a roof over their heads. Kim, who had been her husband’s sole caretaker, said bills piled up as she was unable to work while tending to Artis’ worsening condition.

An account at Marine Bank has been set up to receive donations for Artis’ burial and his children. ***

He suffered a massive stroke in June that left him comatose, relying on a ventilator to breathe and a feeding tube to eat.

Earlier that year, ceiling problems at the family's home in the 1700 block of Clay Street displaced them. The house was further damaged during the March 12, 2006, tornadoes, and they stayed at the Quest Inn while they tried to get it repaired.

Artis' final stroke put a halt to those plans, and the situation quickly spiraled downhill, Kim said. ***

She said she and the children moved in with only three outfits apiece and nothing else.
The Artis family’s finances were also undermined when a burglar stole most of their possessions -- including his artwork -- shortly after Artis’ hospitalization.

Read the entire story and then, if you wanna help, you can send a check made out to The Tom TC Artis and Family Memorial Fund to:
Marine Bank
Attn: Gale Krueger
1401 North Dirksen Parkway
Springfield, IL 62702
Just a couple of bucks could really make a difference.

21MAY07: Update on Tom Artis Family Fund

Friday, May 11, 2007

Suicide Notes

Eric Zorn, ur-blogger at your Chicago Tribune, gives us the gist of an outrageous Billboard story entitled "New Laws Threaten Used CD Market."
With enthusiastic backing from the National Association of Recording Merchandisers, "Florida and Utah have passed (and Rhode Island is considering) second-hand goods legislation, sometimes referred to as pawn-shop laws, that could make the buying and selling of used CDs much more onerous to stores and less attractive to customers looking to sell music they are no longer interested in owning."

Among the impediments, a requirement that those who want to sell their CD's through second-hand shops must be thumb-printed and provide identification.

The intent is clearly to make used CD sales impractical or impossible. As a music lover/consumer, I've got some thoughts:

First, many music retailers make ends meet by selling used CDs. Used CDs have a much higher profit margin and, in effect, subsidize the retailer's ability to carry new product. By undermining this business model, the music industry is all but guaranteeing a reduction in the number of music retailers selling new CDs.

The corporate music industry may not think that this matters, but if their CD sales move exclusively to giant retailers -- Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Amazon -- those mega-retailers will gain incredible leverage in determining the price, wholesale and retail, of the product. Especially as the corporate music industry's traditional business model is undermined by the internet.

Second, although used CD sales may not put money in the pockets of the music industry multinationals, they do help the record labels' business model in a couple of ways.

First of all, used CD cultivates a culture where loving music means purchasing music. Buying popular music has traditionally been something quite different from buying a bag of cat litter or a washing machine. Popular music is marketed as a product that has a deeper meaning and as a signifier of membership in a group of persons who purchase similar music. Popular music is as much about identity as it is sound.

The stores that sell used CDs -- as opposed to electronics and department stores where music is just category of product for sale -- have been central to creating the culture(s) of music consumers. Sure, the sales people at Reckless may occasionally make me feel a bit clueless about my music purchases, but they never make me feel that my music purchases don't matter. (The Reckless staff at the new Loop store is top-notch, by the way.)

Secondly, used CD sales help create and foster habit of purchasing music in individual music lovers. When a music lover buys a used CD, the music corporations don't make any additional money. But that used purchase does keep that music-lover thinking about music in a particular way, i.e. that popular music is a tangible good -- an LP, a tape or a CD -- for which you pay money. The music corporations all depend on music lovers thinking like this. And if used CD sales end, music lovers who feel the retail price of new CDs are too expensive won't suddenly start buying $16+ CDs.* They will go on the internet and, in just a few clicks, download the music for nothing.

And those music lovers, who had previously been willing to pay for a physical manifestation of popular music, will be one step closer to thinking of popular music as information that is available for free.

The end of the corporate music industry due to music lovers expecting popular music to be free information may be inevitable, but the industry's latest actions will only hasten that day.

Personally, the knowledge that my purchase of a new CD would help finance the industry's attack on the owners and employees of local record stores makes me even less likely to pony up the cash for a new disc.

Sunday, May 06, 2007 Racists Bum Rushed the Show

"Too Black. Too Strong." -- Public Enemy, It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

From CBS News:
Today informed its staff via email that they should no longer enable comments on stories about presidential candidate Barack Obama. The reason for the new policy, according to the email, is that stories about Obama have been attracting too many racist comments.

"It's very simple," Mike Sims, director of News and Operations for, told me. "We have our Rules of Engagement. They prohibit personal attacks, especially racist attacks. Stories about Obama have been problematic, and we won't tolerate it." does sometimes delete comments on an individual basis, but Sims said that was not sufficient in the case of Obama stories due to "the volume and the persistence" of the objectionable comments.
Anyone who's posted on the topic of Barack Obama has played wack-a-mole with racist comments -- e.g. the only post on this site that has had comments deleted for offensiveness is one entitled
"NEW ANTI-OBAMA BLOG" -- but here is the piece of the story I didn't get:
There has been a fierce debate about how news outlets should handle reader comments.'s Jim Brady, whose site, like, does not have the resources to filter comments in advance, told Howard Kurtz that he'd "rather figure out a way to do it better than not to do it at all."
Two of the nation's leading news organizations have so little control over their comments -- much less control than a kid with a Blogger account? In light of the
post on blog comments by your Chicago Tribune Eric Zorn, I find that rather hard to believe.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

So-Called Photos from the May Day March in Chicago

Crossing the bridge over the expressway.

The marchers at Quincy and Jackson

One Nation Under God -- And Justice for All!!!

The Grant Park Rally

Should I be allowed this close to Richie Daley?

Get Your March On.

Chicago May Day March (II)

10:00 AM Rally - Union Park [Ashland Ave. and Washington St.]
12:00 PM March - Randolph St., Desplaines St., Jackson Blvd., Columbus Dr.
2:00 PM Rally - Grant Park [Balbo Dr. and Columbus Dr.]

Mayo Primero / May Day

In 1886, Chicago immigrant workers lead and won the fight for the 8-hour work day. Today, workers around the world remember that struggle in May Day commemorating the Haymarket Martyrs. One hundred and twenty years later, immigrant workers are once again leading the struggle for workers' rights by demanding the legalization, with full rights, of all undocumented workers.

This May Day, join the march and rally for the unconditional legalization for ALL, and say NO to border walls and militarization of the border, NO to guest-worker programs, and NO to raids and deportations.

Convoca/ConvokeMovimiento 10 de Marzo,AFSCME Council 31, AFSCME Local 2081, Alianza Leadership Institute, Amigas Latinas, Asociacion de Salvadore los en Illinois, Association of Latino Men for Action, Casa Aztlan, Chicago and Miswest Regional Joint Board of UNITE-HERE, Chicago LGBT Immigrant Alliance, Chicago Worker Collaborative, Coalicion Internacional de Mexicanos en el Exterior, Committee against the Militarization of Youth, Communist Party of Illinois, Confemex, Council of Islamic Organizations of the Greater Chicago, Durango Unido en Chicago, Federacion de Hidalguenses en Illinois, Frente Unido de Inmigrantes, Gay Liberation Network, Gold Star Family for Peace Chicago, Industrial Workers of the World, Inner-City Muslim Action Network, International Socialist Organization, Jobs with Justice, Korean American Resource and Cultural Center, Labor Beat, Latin United Community Housing Association, Mujeres Latinas en Accion, Nahui Ollin Danza Mexika, Organizacion Latina del Suroeste, Orgullo en Accion, Partido de la Revolucion Democrcitica, Partido Revolucionario Institucional, Primera Asamblea Popular de Pilsen, Progress Center for Independent Living for People with Disabilities, Radio Arte, Rainbow Push Latino Chapter, Red Unida de Immigrantes y Refugiados, Teachers for Social Justice, SEIU Local 1, SEIU Local 73, Socialist Workers Party, Southeast Chicago Coalition for Immigrant Rights, UE Western Region, UIC Students for Immigrant Rights, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881, West Town Leadership United


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