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.


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