Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Because HE CAN. Aside from the fact that this is a tainted appointment and that Roland Burris will never be seated by the U.S. Senate, while Burris may be personally "clean," he is 71 and is retired from elective politics after a long string of defeats (public repudiation, really). So, the inevitable perception is that Burris will be nothing more than a willing, or unwilling, placeholder for whoever is legitimately elected to Obama's vacated Senate seat. Which raises the LEGITIMACY issue all over again.
Bottom line: the appointment may be ILLEGITIMATE but it is CONSTITUTIONAL.
Accepting the appointment, Burris set himself up as the only person standing between economic chaos and peace and prosperity! Talk about hubris ...
Burris: "How much was it, $14,000? I gotta check my records (his law firm's), I didn't think we had that much to give to the governor."
Meanwhile, the Illinois legislature's impeachment proceedings, such as they are, have become a platform for Blago's competent lawyer, Ed Genson, to become the star of the show and cast aspersions on the entire process, as any counsel should do, with his "fighting shadows" and other media-friendly sound bites.
The Illinois impeachment committee look like a gathering of fools, sitting there with their paper name tags, while Genson holds court. There are no articles of impeachment, there are no witnesses called, there's no sense of direction, and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald indicated that the legislature is interfering with his investigation.
What are they deliberating about? With each passing day they look more and more like a foolish kangaroo court. The legislature couldn't even move quickly enough to enact legislation removing the Senate appointment power from the governor. Perhaps the tittilating release of the actual tapes, dangled as a possibility by Fitzgerald, may save the legislature from further embarrassment.
Blagojevich said he acted after the legislature FAILED to act on a special election to have the people decide. How appropriate. Congressman Bobby Rush defended the Burris appointment, saying "my prayers have been answered" that the governor would appoint an African American to the U.S. Senate. "Separate, if you will, the appointee from the appointor." He said Jesse White, Sec. of State, acted "prematurely" in stating he would not certify the Senate appointment.
Is it just me, or do Illinois politics look more like something out of a banana republic, circa 1950s? Corruption, pay-offs, buy-outs, dictatorial executive, rubber stamp legislature, corruption, outrageous political maneuvers, corruption ... Panis et Circenses, or to put it more parochially, pass the popcorn.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
The U.N. Security Council held emergency consultations Saturday night and early Sunday and debated whether to adopt a statement urging Israel to halt its military operations "without delay."
Again, I have always supported Israel's right to exist and defend itself, but since the days of Sharon, they have acted as an outlaw state. The summer war against Lebanon was Bushian in its illegality and in its poor execution. What Americans miss so often is how important this issue is in the eyes of seemingly the rest of the world but us. This goes a long way toward explaining the radicalization of young Arabs and other Muslims.
The shoe thrower in Iraq and the Gaza debacle are the exclamation points on these years of Bush failure. He came into office, looked at the volatile mix of explosive forces that was the Middle East, and asked "Condi, what the hell does vola--vola-volltilititty mean--oh hell, I've got brush to clear."
Inaction would have been criminal, but inaction and indifference would have been a rosy dream compared to what he did do. The invasion of Iraq was not only an affront to human decency and the sensibilities of people throughout the region, but the not-even-veiled neocon rationale to "re-engineer" the region to make it more "Israel-friendly" could not have been more ill-conceived and damaging. In addition, our totally one-sided "whatever Israel wants to do is fine with us" approach has destroyed any hope of having credibility as an honest broker in the region. The blame is not all Israel's, but they have cooperated in the Bush network of failure and escalation.
[Editor's Note: To American Jews and supporters of Israel, the warm fuzzy embrace that the fundamentalist neocons give to Israel is part of their desire to see their twisted view of prophecy fulfilled to bring about the rapture and have the blasphemous Israelites who reject Jesus be tossed in the lake of fire. Have a nice day.]
Shoes, bombs, death and failure. THAT is the Bush legacy.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Frank Langella is tremendous as Nixon.
Frank made his name on stage and in a mediocre film as Dracula. I was thinking about his characters, Dracula and Nixon. Of course, one was an evil soulless bloodthirsty monster--while the other was just a vampire.
To the climate change naysayers--"global warming" is often misunderstood, and people confuse climate with weather. A pattern of climate change can and does produce extremes of weather, both warm and cold, wet and dry.
Friday, December 26, 2008
"The upshot is that Democrats, who speak passionately about the hungry and homeless, personally fork over less money to charity than Republicans - the ones who try to cut health insurance for children."
Is that true? Do we only show compassion towards the less fortunate when it is in the form of generous government spending, and not from individual contributions? In essence, are we the cheapskates??
I hate to be one-uped by Republicans, and I know that they give alot of money to churches, and he did find that religious liberals are as generous as religious conservatives, but Brooks apparently also found that "if measuring by the percentage of income given, conservatives are more generous than liberals even to secular causes."
What? Do conservatives, in general have more to give? Do we really just talk the talk, instead of putting our money where our mouth is?
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
It was a stroke of political genious. Obama looks large, conciliatory and magnanimous. It will also
a) energize civil rights activists and
b) show the Saddlebackers, et al. as the bigoted freakshow that they are
All at no cost to the president-elect.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Mike Connell? Who?
Well, he was one of the key figures in the 2004 Ohio vote rigging scandal. He was on the verge of testifying and died "mysteriously" in the crash of his small airplane. How convenient.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
While going to school at Northwestern University, Blagojevich idolized Nixon, according to friends, frequently defending him during the Watergate scandal. According to a long-time Blagojevich friend, the future governor often found inspiration in Nixon's "me against the world" sensibility. Blagojevich particularly loved the fact that Nixon bounced back after the "you won't have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore" speech after losing the race for California governor in 1962.
Blagojevich dismissed Nixon's corruption as par for the political course, asserting (like many Nixon defenders) that the Kennedys did far worse things than anything that happened in Watergate.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
But I have an idea...
Let's be proactive.
Let's plan ahead and get the happy couple those "traditional" anniversary presents.
Year 1 is paper:
Year 2 is cotton:
For #3, we have leather:
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
"Impeachment talk's nothing new for this governor," Guerrero said. "They've been talking about it for a long time."
Indeed, Madigan said Monday his staff has been reviewing the legal possibilities for impeachment for about a year. His office produced a memo earlier this year outlining all the arguments legislative candidates could make in favor of impeachment.
Here is the main building:
and the books and papers collection:
The library has hired an experienced professional director
And includes fascinating exhibits of life in the White House:
Tributes and tokens of affection from around the world are displayed:
Of course, don't miss the lovely grounds:
Many former Bush administration members are expected to contribute to the library from their present positions:
And of course they have a full-service Bush-style snack bar!
Don't forget some refreshing coke!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
In USA Today’s ranking, based on public corruption convictions per 100,000 residents, Illinois came in at number 18. But critics argued the study was flawed for including sparsely populated states such as North Dakota, Alaska, and Montana, which skewed the results.
USA Today’s ranking:
(1) North Dakota, (2) Louisiana, (3) Alaska, (4) Mississippi, (5) Montana, (6) Kentucky, (7) Alabama, (8) Delaware and South Dakota (tie), (9) New Jersey and Ohio (tie), and (10) Pennsylvania and Florida (tie), with (11) Hawaii, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Illinois (virtual tie). Note: By virtual tie, I mean Illinois and Virginia scored 3.9 convictions per 100,000 residents while West Virginia scored 4.1, and the others came in with 4.
A more solid ranking published in 2007 by Corporate Crime Reporter using Department of Justice statistics, including only the 35 most populous states that compiled all federal corruption convictions by state over a decade (from 1997 to 2006), the TOP TEN most corrupt states are (drum roll):
(1) Louisiana, (2) Mississippi, (3) Kentucky, (4) Alabama, (5) Ohio, (6) Illinois, (7) Pennsylvania, (8) Florida, (9) New Jersey, and (10) New York. Tennessee, Bob Corker’s state, gets dishonorable mention as number 11.
Corporate Crime Reporter’s metrics, by way of the Justice Department, are considered to be accurate rankings of state corruption, given the source and statistics compiled over a 10-year period. The only caveat is that the latest data is from 2006 (2007 numbers should be out shortly); it’s likely that Illinois will move up, though still doubtful the state will top out as number one based on a single year’s data.
If one looks at the really corrupt states in both rankings, some interesting patterns begin to emerge. For comparison purposes, I have bolded the most corrupt states recently in the news, and Illinois in italics. What do the highly ranked most corrupt bolded states have in common?
1. They’re Deep South red states
2. They’re “right-to-work” (a euphemism for legalized union-busting) states
3. They’re home to a burgeoning foreign auto industry
4. They’re represented by a Republican Senate clique that killed the Big 3 bailout
Blame the worker.
Bob Corker, multimillionaire senator from Tennessee, home to carpetbaggers Nissan, Kia, and Volkswagen, played the cynical role of imposing unacceptable conditions on the UAW, after an agreement was reached in which the union made multiple concessions and givebacks. The sniveling Corker did the dirty work for perpetually sneering Richard Shelby, senator from Alabama, home to carpetbaggers Mercedes, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai – Shelby sneeringly called the U.S. auto industry a “dinosaur” – and slimy Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, home to carpetbagger Toyota.
Blame the worker.
Unless he or she is white collar and works for AIG et al, in which case the sacred financial money speculators get a bailout of more than $300 billion, no questions asked. But heaven forbid they should be blue collar union members from Detroit, Michigan: throw them out like so much industrial waste or use them as bargaining chips in a high stakes game of strip your life away poker. Remove any vestige of a decent retirement income and benefits – oh, those horrendous “Legacy” costs. So what if you’ve worked your entire life in a Big 3 plant. Does that entitle you to a decent retirement with earned benefits? Not in this economy; not in this country. Not on your life. So says Corker, the multimillionaire.
Blame the worker.
Michael Moore said, folks in the Midwest industrial states are well aware of this hateful prejudice. As he put it, those who shower before going to work get a bailout, but those who have to shower after work get shafted. Michigan governor Jennifer Granholme reacted to the repulsive conduct of the Southern senators by saying it was “un-American.” When your neighbor’s house is on fire, you don’t hesitate to help. And by the way, Michigan, a union state home to the Big 3 and heart of America’s industrial base, is one of those good governance states that is nowhere near the top echelon of the most corrupt.
Starting to see a pattern here?
Blame the worker. And kill the union.
UAW President Ron Gettelfinger noted in his press conference that the "incentives" foreign auto makers received from Southern “right-to-work” states totaled more than $3 billion taxpayer dollars. It’s closer to $3.6 billion, and that’s a conservative estimate.
Gettelfinger had the quote of the week:
“They thought they could have a twofer: pierce the heart of organized labor while representing the foreign brands.”
And he zeroed in on Shelby’s state of Alabama:
"We have Hyundai Motor Company that got $252 million in incentives. Toyota there got $29 million in incentives. Honda, $158 million and Mercedes $253 million in incentives … but the state offered to train the workers, clear and improve the sites, upgrade the utilities, buy 2,500 vehicles and it is estimated that that incentive package totaled somewhere around $175,000 per employee to create those jobs there. And on top of this, that state gave this automaker a large parcel of land-around $250-$300 million dollars. That was the same price or cost to them of building a facility. So we can support our competition but we can’t support an industry that is in need? And this need was not brought about because of what the industry has done."
$175,000 per employee! Now that’s a savings we can believe in, eh Shelby?
So here’s my nightmare scenario (hoping it won’t come to pass):
This is one of those rare times of reckoning in our history.
In a political and economic perfect storm, three points on the map – Chicago, Detroit and Washington, DC – form the Bermuda Triangle of destruction, the metaphysical black hole into which entire political careers are consumed in a maelstrom of corruption, while the industrial base of this country is literally sucked into the void, dragging with it 3 million jobs. As Rome burns, Southern court jesters seize the moment to destroy the labor unions, turning their backs on the country, like the Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse, to reenact a civil war lost to the industrial might of the North, when Lincoln was president. It’s payback time. It’s about “piercing the heart of organized labor,” to vicariously reverse the history of 143 years of humiliation and defeat on the backs of union workers, and reclaim for hardened Southern souls the bitter fruits of victory, as another president from Illinois prepares to take office.
If, in a matter of days – not weeks or months – we become a third rate power, if our economy is destroyed and our standard of living dips below Kentucky’s and Alabama’s and Mississippi’s and Louisiana’s, remember these names: Richard Shelby, Bob Corker, Jim DeMint, Mitch McConnell, and Jon Kyl. For their praises will be sung in hobo campfires throughout the deepest of the Deep South, alongside the revered names of Lee, Jefferson Davis, Stonewall Jackson, and Jeb Stewart. They will be memorialized as the great Southern patriots of the Second War Between the States, who invaded the councils of Yankee government and achieved by dint of legislative obstruction what the mythical heroes of a checkered but glorious past could not accomplish by force of arms: to bring the North to its knees and destroy its industrial base.
I can almost hear echoes of their Rebel yells; if not in the courtly confines of the Senate cloak room, then perhaps in their Christmas parties where, softened up by liquor, they’ll be whooping and hollering: “The South will rise again! Damn the labor unions!”
While Rome burns.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
They are trying to practice disaster capitalism at its worst, by destroying the economy and the nation to rebuild it in their perverted image. How any decent person can support these "Republicans," I have no idea. And I am not talking about being "conservative" or adhering to a small government fiscal restraint approach to governing. Make no mistake, these idealogues you see in action are RADICALS, bent on a profound, permanent and tragic restructuring of American society. The object is the consolidation of wealth and the elimination of the middle class.
Do they care if jobs that allow people to live in a decent house, send their kids to college and spend a week at the beach disappear into either thin air or some East Asian sweatshop? Of course not. THAT IS THEIR OBJECTIVE. The right-wing bloviators on talk radio whine about "class warfare," but they are the ones that are practicing it. Damn right we're at war, and right now we're getting destroyed.
I'm toying around with something in my delusional mind. The rich of Chicago PAID to have Fort Sheridan built here on the north shore to have a military garrison around them after the Haymarket incident (the only military installation EVER paid for with private funds.) Just wondering, how much of our bloated defense budget, besides making the staggeringly rich staggeringly richer, goes to protecting the government not from enemies but from us? To eliminate forever Jefferson's right of the people to alter or abolish the form of government instituted among them?
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
A "special election," while desirable, is also problematic. First you have to get the state legislature to pass something (and have it survive constitutional challenges, changing the rules during the game). Then of course THE GOVERNOR has to sign it. He can sit on it for sixty days before vetoing it, and then it goes back to the legislature for an override vote. From there the mechanisms have to gear up, nominating petitions, primaries, etc. We're going to the beach in Michigan before any voting happens.
And the Illinois attorney general is talking up a challenge via the state supreme court. The state supremes would be a real stretch. The court under Rule 382 can consider a motion on "the ability of the Governor to serve or resume office" but that seems pretty clearly aimed at physical/mental incapacitation, not mere soullessness.
Even this jaded observer, though, was surprised that the governor was this stupid and greedy with such a high-profile matter, WHILE UNDER INVESTIGATION by the modern Elliott Ness. Stupid is as stupid does, I guess.
BUT--we could be screwed by this nonsense. Gov. Hair won't resign, and he cannot make a credible Senate appointment. Any legislative change in the process has a long startup time to clear. At a time when every vote counts, that seat could sit empty for months.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Understand that, in Illinois, Democrats now control the state House, state Senate, every state-wide constitutional office, the Mayoralty of Chicago, the city council of Chicago, the board controlling the second most populous county in the country (Cook), and almost the entire federal congressional delegation at a time when the DNC has been moved to Chicago, and an Illinois Senator is about to be sworn in as President.
So you'd think, hey, maybe now would not be the very best time to piss away a once-in-a-lifetime historic opportunity to consolidate Democratic gains by fucking up the state budget and generally carrying on like poo-flinging howler monkeys.
But you would be wrong.
Like our national politics (explicated brilliantly here by Glenn Greenwald), Illinois politics is freighted with dynasties full of talentless scions with monstrous egos and an overweening sense of entitlement, and so in the midst of an historic Democratic sea-change, Rod, Son of Mell and Todd (Stroger, current corrupt and inept President of the grotesquely bloated Cook County Board), Son of John (former corrupt and inept President of the grotesquely bloated Cook County Board, about which more some other day) have managed to induce such revulsion in the polity that even loyal, lifelong Dems are openly pining for the days when Republican Governor George Ryan could at least get shit done, and Republican Governor Jim Edgar bestrode the prairie like a bipartisan Colossus.
One gently-used U.S. Senate seat, formerly held by household name. Serious inquiries only. Address all correspondence to "Public Official A."
Buy It Now! Price $1,000,000 cash, unmarked non-sequential small bills
Second, Pat Quinn (sitting Lt. Governor) may be a pain in the ass, but he is also regarded as squeaky-clean. He just stated in a press conference that in his opinion, there is no way that Blago should appoint anyone to fill the senate vacancy. He called for Blago to voluntarily "step aside." He further stated that if Blago refuses to step aside, the IL Supreme Court can make a determination that Blago is too compromised to continue in his duties.
Third, Blago is either the most arrogant or the most idiotic politician since Nixon...
Fourth, if I was " Senate Hopeful 5" I'd be looking for a really good lawyer.
Fifth, if the indictment is true, Obama comes out of this looking even BETTER, as he refused to do anything more than be "appreciative" if Blago named his favored candidate (Valerie Jarrett).
CHICAGO – Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday on charges of conspiring to get financial benefits through his authority to appoint a U.S. senator to fill the vacancy left by Barack Obama's election as president.
According to a federal criminal complaint, Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper's editorial board who had been critical of him fired.
Blagojevich also was charged with using his authority as governor in an attempt to squeeze out campaign contributions, prosecutors said.
Source: Feds take Gov. Blagojevich into custody
A source said today that Gov. Rod Blagojevich was taken into federal custody at his North Side home this morning. The U.S. attorney's office would not confirm the information. A Blagojevich spokesman said he was unaware of the development. "Haven't heard anything -- you are first to call," Lucio Guerrero said in an e-mail.
The stunning, early morning visit by authorities to the governor's North Side home came amid revelations that federal investigators had recorded the governor with the cooperation of a longtime confidant and had begun to focus on the possibility that the process of choosing a Senate successor to President-elect Barack Obama could be tainted by pay-to-play politics.
What a disgrace. Stupidity should be severely punished.
But any company that accepts ANY federal money has to do one thing:
TELL ME HOW MUCH THE DAMN CAR COSTS.
No more haggling, no more "talking to the manager," no more "what can I do to put you in this car today," no more undercoating, etc. No more walking out feeling like I've been had. Put a price tag on it. If I want it, I'll buy it.
Otherwise--no soup for you.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
The results are in and they're catastrophic. In the end, whether or not there was venality is irrelevant -- denial, as they say, ain't just a river in Egypt. The abuse of power, the shredding of the Constitution, the politicization of the Justice Department, the doctoring of intelligence to justify preemptive war, all or any of these are impeachable offenses. That they were never seriously considered during the past five years is not only the failure of a Congress too cowed to take on a president in times of war, Orwellian perpetual war, but also of large sectors of the media that sold out to profits over serious journalism. And ultimately too, of the people who twice elected this … whatever.
What we are seeing in these exit interviews is an astonishing and pathetic attempt to rewrite history, in search of a legacy. Isn't it ironic that the individual tapped to spin the Bush years is none other than Karl Rove? It seems oddly appropriate in a way that the revisionism of the Bush years should be assigned to Bush's chief propagandist, heading the so-called "Bush legacy project."
But it won't work. Karl Rove can't spin, scrub, and sanitize eight years of lies, incompetence, venality, and criminality. As Rachel Maddow said, there are certain inconvenient things called, in Bushspeak, "the internets and the google." Despite this administration's unprecedented secrecy -- its elevation of the national security state pushing the limits of government beyond even what Nixon attempted with "executive privilege," bizarre concepts such the "unitary executive," a pseudo-legal justification for giving the president dictatorial powers, and unrestrained abuse of the Patriot Act to spy on American citizens -- there is in all of this a substantial record to be examined. Records can be spun and interpreted, but they cannot be lied about.
George W. Bush exits (just GO, leave already!) as the worst ever president in American history. That’s my personal assessment, but I honestly doubt a consensus of historians would disagree. True to form, W and loyal sidekick Rove exit much as they entered: lying.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Five years from now, his name will come up for a vote for the MLB Hall of Fame. He'll get in, on the first ballot, and by a large margin. Of course, he won't be unanimous, because no one ever is. The BBWAA is comprised, sadly, of too many morons of the sort who cannot abide greatness and must always find fault. They can go screw themselves.
Someday, if the Cubs are smart, they'll bring Maddux and Fergie Jenkins back and finally retire #31. Maddux won't seek the spotlight, but it is his.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
"I think I was unprepared for war..."
Really? That's surprising, given that you talked about invading Iraq as GOVERNOR OF TEXAS in 1999? Given that the cronies that made up this war out of whole cloth published their stupidity in 1998 ? (see the Project for the New American Century)
"The biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq...a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence."
Hmm, you mean the "intelligence" that your administration manufactured and misrepresented? That several countries told you was bullshit? You mean that "intelligence?"
"You know, I'm the president during this period of time, but I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so, before I arrived in president"
You know, the Clinton years, our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity...The buck stops over there somewhere.
"And when people review the history of this administration, people will say that this administration tried hard to get a regulator."
WHAT??? YOU, wanted regulation? And now I suppose the pope now officiates at gay abortionist weddings????
"I'd like to be a president [known] as somebody who liberated 50 million people and helped achieve peace"--
You "liberated" people into death and chaos, and brought about a hellish cataclysm. And peace? We'll be waiting on that one for a while.
The grand question is...
Is this man the boy in the bubble? Does he really BELIEVE any of this nonsense?
Back in 1998, when the neocon cabal recruited him, he was "tutored" in foreign policy by the PNAC crowd, they considered him to be a blank slate. Bob Woodward paints him as a simple man, a Chance the Gardener character, who sees his little ugly war as the story of how many of "them" we killed.
Venal or clueless? Both, probably. The act may have worked in Austin but it will be remembered as one of our greatest national tragedies.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
As a side note, has anyone else ever noticed the slots in old medicine cabinets for used razor blades? The blades go somewhere, of course, which is into the walls of the house. Until renovation is started, in which case they fall on your head.
Tomorrow, the plumbers will be back, and when I get home from work at 6:30 or so, I'll clean up any mess they make (in case they need to make access holes to the downstairs bath) and then let Beth know it's safe to bring the boy back home. Then, we will try to find a drywall contractor to come in and replace the drywall and make the seams as clean as possible. Whee!
On the plus side, the trip out to WV went well. My family is doing pretty well (actually, the economy hasn't hurt us that much....yet), and everyone loves spending time with babymagoo. On the way back, we stopped for a tour of the Woodford Reserve distillery. That was pretty cool, and it's in a gorgeous part of Kentucky, right outside of Lexington (the whole area just screams Kentucky, with rolling hills and horse farms). The beverage they produce is pretty dang good, too.
This weekend, we'll be up in the city for our annual pilgrimage to the Christkindlmarkt for German food and freezing.
Nation to be renamed 'Panda Garden'
by Andy Borowitz
In a landmark deal that could provide much-needed cash to America's anemic economy, China agreed today to acquire the naming rights to the U.S. for a reported $1.4 trillion.
The deal, which is expected to be signed by President George W. Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao sometime before Inauguration Day on January 20, was hailed today by Mr. Bush as a "win-win" for both countries.
"We get 1.4 trillion dollars, and all we have to do is change our name to ‘Panda Garden,'" Mr. Bush told reporters at the White House.
The president said he decided to make the extraordinary deal after being shocked to learn that the U.S. was in a recession, when it was reported yesterday in Duh magazine.
According to President Hu, the Chinese had originally inquired about purchasing the rights to two American sports facilities named after troubled companies, Ford Field in Detroit and Citi Field in New York, but then decided it might be more cost-efficient to buy the rights "to the whole shebang."
In addition to the $1.4 trillion, the Chinese government said that it would provide $10 million to commission a new national anthem that would somehow incorporate the words "Panda Garden" in the lyrics, and to redesign the nation's flag, which will henceforth be known as "the stars, stripes, and adorable bear."
Has China effectively become our banker?
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
He rolled out a heavyweight national security team, largely centrist in nature, and mentioned two concepts in dealing with international security that had been confined to the dustbin of the Bush disaster--DIPLOMACY and LAW ENFORCEMENT.
So far, so good, Mr. Obama.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Dana-Thomas House, Springfield (Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece pictured below)
Lincoln log cabin
Fort de Chartres
State center at Bishop Hill
Carl Sandburg birthplace
Hauberg Indian Museum
Apple River Fort
Pierre Menard home
Gone. Lost. Wasted.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Of course not.
When I got downstairs this morning, mrsdrmagoo asked me to look at the ceiling. Which was wet. And then dripping. All over the place.
Now, normally we handle household repairs (even relatively major ones) ourselves, but this is not normally.
The first few calls to plumbers revealed that many of them were busy today. Finally, one called back...
And now the living room ceiling's being torn apart. And of course the leak is in a very difficult to access spot (although now he's found the leak, which is a good start).
The little guy's off at day care, since being around the plaster dust isn't good for him.
Update: Well, it looks like they'll have to put a clamp on it for today, but that's not code, so they'll have to come back next week and pull out the old pipes and put in new ones. And then we can rebuild the living room ceiling...
Just a couple of quick thoughts from the morning paper.
One of my least favorite right wing airheads, Chatty Kathy Parker, wrote a decent but painfully obvious column about how we are a really dumb country. She finishes, though, with this little zinger
Who will govern a free nation if no one understands the mechanics and instruments of that freedom? Maybe one day, a demagogue.Hmm, Chatty, just idly speculating about the future? I think not. Unfortunately, her demagogue reference is to our articulate, inspiring and intelligent future president.
Kathy, if you REALLY want to know what happens in that situation, look behind you. Look at the last eight years, of incompetence, imperial aggression, corruption and a betrayal of all that should be American. THAT is what you get.
And Lula, this is an Illinois-centric question,but an issue here involves our imprisoned ex-governor (we have a long history of felon governors here, and the current occupant may soon join that list). He was the epitome of the two-bit crook, but the tragedy is that he was doing his two-bit crookery as Secretary of State, giving away drivers' licenses for bribes to unqualifieds and ineligibles. Now he is old and infirm and the question of commutation comes up. I'm somewhat torn. He is a miserable old bastard, yet what is the public good of continued imprisonment?
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Notwithstanding the cardboard Santas who seem to have arrived in stores this year near Halloween, the holiday season starts in seven days with Thanksgiving. And so it will come to pass once again that many people will spend four weeks biting on tongues lest they say "Merry Christmas" and perchance, give offense. Christmas, the holiday that dare not speak its name. This year we celebrate the desacralized "holidays" amid what is for many unprecedented economic ruin--fortunes halved, jobs lost, homes foreclosed. People wonder, What happened? One man's theory: A nation whose people can't say "Merry Christmas" is a nation capable of ruining its own economy.Yes, boys and girls, we are in this mess because we have not decked the halls nor heard angels on high. No fa la la la la, no Fannie Mae. Because we didn't see mommy kissing Santa Claus, Lehman Brothers collapsed, and we can no longer join in any reindeer games or in the international credit markets. Amazing. (link)
Excuse me while I throw up.
h/t Daily Kos
Monday, November 24, 2008
Like other industries seeking help, the effigy makers have been criticized for poor planning, as the "Bush bubble" in the industry was due to end next January. One industry spokesman, speaking anonymously, thought the Republicans could steal one more election and the industry would be "burning" brightly into the next decade at least with McCain and Palin images.
Congress appeared skeptical, and pressed industry representatives for a business plan. "Well, we do have this giant inflammable Cubs logo for sale to White Sox fans, and a giant flaming Ryan Seacrest, but hell, everyone sees a giant flaming Ryan Seacrest every week on TV. Beyond that, we've got nothing."
Earlier this year, 12,000 people in San Francisco signed a petition in supportI think that one stands on its own. There really is no need for me to point out the painfully obvious.
of a proposition on a local ballot to rename an Oceanside sewage plant after
George W. Bush. The proposition is only one example of the classless
disrespect many Americans have shown the president...
This is the price Mr. Bush is paying for trying to work with both Democrats
and Republicans. During his 2004 victory speech, the president reached out to
voters who supported his opponent, John Kerry, and said, "Today, I want to
speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger
and better, I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do
all I can do to deserve your trust...."
Those bipartisan efforts have been met with crushing resistance from both
The treatment President Bush has received from this country is nothing less
than a disgrace. The attacks launched against him have been cruel and
slanderous, proving to the world what little character and resolve we have.
The president is not to blame for all these problems. He never lost faith in
America or her people, and has tried his hardest to continue leading our
nation during a very difficult time.
Our failure to stand by the one person who continued to stand by us has not
gone unnoticed by our enemies. It has shown to the world how disloyal we can
be when our president needed loyalty--a shameful display of arrogance and
weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White
I find that to be an alarming statistic. So, now if you don't have insurance you #1) have to pay more if you go to the ER (because you don't get the I HAVE INSURANCE DISCOUNT) and #2) if you're a minority or don't have insurance at all, you possibly were pushed to the back of the emergency treatment line, or worse you received biased treatment that affected your overall health. So now you're not only dead, you have a hefty bill too.
I thought emergency care was the great equalizer in our health care system. According to this study, apparently not.
We need health care reform, and soon. I hope having Senator Tom Daschle as our new Secretary of Health and Human Services (I'm keeping my fingers crossed) is a step in the right direction towards health care accessibility for all in the coming years.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
One of my first memories, though, is when our principal came into my first grade classroom and told us that President Kennedy had been killed.
John, we hardly knew ye.
Friday, November 21, 2008
While running lunchtime errands a grotesquely tricked Escalade pulled up next to me. The driver, a Cindy McCain vintage bleach blonde Botox nightmare in a ridiculous fur.
On the back of the car? A weathered "Support the Troops" ribbon.
Good to see you sacrificing for the cause, hon.
Three GOP presidents were great tax cutters, Hoover, Reagan and Bush the Failure. Each tax cutting splurge brought economic disaster. A tiny bubble initially, and then the INEVITABLE crash.
It is a failed philosophy that must forever be rejected.
J.L. Stern of Highland Park, Illinois, gives us this gem:
Isn't it curious that when gas prices were rising every week, so many were quick to blame President Bush? Yet today, with the price dropping rapidly, you don't hear a word of praise. Is Bush really the cause of all our nation's ills, and have we learned anything from the gas price fluctuation?Hmm, J.L., won't try and explain the complexities of the oil market to you, but at an ever so basic level, this is a commodity that trades on anticipated supply and demand. We now will have a president who won't wage mindless wars to torpedo the "supply" part of that equation, and in terms of "demand," well, a little thing known as Bush's Great Depression certainly tempers that.
Oh, and by the way...
Thursday, November 20, 2008
In 1992 New York governor Mario Cuomo … waited … and waited … and waited … to announce whether or not he would run for president, so long that he was dubbed “Hamlet on the Hudson.” At the very last instant, as an airplane idled on the tarmac ready to fly him to New Hampshire, Cuomo decided not to run.
Bill Clinton, for whom Cuomo was the main stumbling block to his presidential ambitions, made the comically self-serving statement that he was “moved” by the governor’s announcement. I’ll say (trans: relieved). Ironically, we now have a Clinton, Hillary (Bill too!), vying for “Hamlet on the Hudson” honors, as she engages in a tantalizing media dance, much to the Obama transition team’s consternation:
Will She or Won’t She (accept State, already)?President-elect Obama must be quite disingenuous if he honestly believed this process wouldn’t turn into the soap opera it’s become. It’s not as if he hasn’t been exposed to the Clintons’ machinations during the course of this long campaign.
To Be or Not to Be (Secretary of State)?
Will He or Won’t He (disclose his financial records)?
And isn’t the Obama camp just a bit disingenuous to be complaining about leaks? Hell, Hillary and Bill may not have leaked that Hillary was “agonizing” over the decision, but this hasn’t stopped their acolytes from leaking.
Realistically, the delay probably has more to do with Bill and his foreign “affairs” than with Hillary. At the same time, the leak of Hillary’s Hamlet act – whether or not it’s true – has placed Obama in a difficult position.
At this point, Obama may need to give Hillary (and Bill) a weekend ultimatum, anticipating an announcement early next week, or cut her loose and cut his losses.
So much for “no Drama Obama”?
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I'm wondering how Bush's pardon parade will shape up. It will be a long line, with Rove, Libby, Miers, Gonzalez, Uncle Ted from Alaska, etc. I've brought this up before but for some reason I don't see any human compassion within the man. In addition, offering pardons would be a tacit (or explicit) admission that the perplexedly legacy-obsessed preznit consorted with criminals. I think the first prevails though. He just doesn't give a damn.
SO if your industry employs people in suits, have a few hundred billion! If you employ union workers, screw you.
I REALLY like the team that the president-elect is assembling. Nice work. Memo to Clinton, Bill: You owe your wife one. Do whatever it takes to make this work for her.
I guess the only good to come out of that sad scenario is that Barack Obama owns as much of Joe Lieberman as he could want.
The hysteria out of the right is so pathetic. Sean Hannity bleating about ACORN and how McCain one WAAAY more COUNTIES than Obama (pssst Sean..no one LIVES those "counties!") It is fun to see them try and cope when their entire political philosophy and world view was so thoroughly repudiated and rejected by the voters.
That glee, though, is sadly tempered by the fact that their disastrous policies have once again brought us to the brink of the abyss.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Yes, the Supreme Court gets all the press, but it is in the circuit courts where the heavy lifting is done legally. Bush has stacked the 11 appeals circuits with YOUNG ideologues with LIFETIME appointments.
Here's to an Obama presidency and returning sanity to the federal bench.
Washington, D.C., Nov. 17, 2008 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged Dallas entrepreneur Mark Cuban with insider trading for selling 600,000 shares of the stock of an Internet search engine company on the basis of material, non-public information concerning an impending stock offering.
Now of course these are just charges, nothing proven yet, but from my experience the SEC is really good in these cases. Mark, you just tossed away your chance to fulfill your dream of buying the Cubs. This is MLB's excuse for keeping you out of their little club.
What is it with the uber-rich? He avoided a loss of about $750,000 (allegedly) on the deal. That's chump change for someone like Cuban. Ditto Martha Stewart a while back. Perhaps it's that Type A win at all costs personality?
Dumb. Really dumb.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Peter, I'll eat my hat if Larry Summers gets Treasury. As you said, not only has Summers dated Laura Ingraham, a woman of no substance (which goes to his judgment), but he's made a lot of enemies with women of substance (which also goes to his judgment). I just can't see a President Obama tolerating this guy's intemperate mouth distracting from the gargantuan economic crisis the country faces.
Besides, Joe Biden already straddles the big mouth territory in Obama's nascent cabinet.
My hunch is New Jersey governor John Corzine owns the inside track on Treasury. Not only does he have financial services credentials (I know, Paulson was head of Goldman Sachs too), but he brings the added dimension of public service, in the Senate and as governor. He's highly respected as someone who can work across both sectors, with unions and management, and who cares for and understands the plight of the middle class and the underclass. He's the perfect candidate if Obama wants to stress the problems of "Main Street" vs. Wall Street. Tim Geithner, a Summers protege, is a good candidate for undersecretary. And to round off Obama's economic team, grey eminence Paul Volcker is a solid and logical choice to chair the President's Council of Economic Advisors.
State is Hillary's if she wants it. The problem is vetting Bill's foreign financial contributors to his foundation, and possible conflicts of interest.
Robert Gates would be an astute choice to remain at Defense as a Republican holdover to preside over Obama's gradual drawdown of troops from Iraq. Former Georgia senator Sam Nunn is also a possibility for the post.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
A South Carolina Roman Catholic priest has told his parishioners that they should refrain from receiving Holy Communion if they voted for Barack Obama because the Democratic president-elect supports abortion, and supporting him "constitutes material cooperation with intrinsic evil."Where to begin...First of all, Obama does not "support" abortion and he is not "pro-abortion." He wants the government out of the question so that personal decisions may be made personally. And from the way you singled out Obama I'm guessing you're OK with endless, unprovoked wars, torture and indefinite imprisonment without charges?
The Rev. Jay Scott Newman said in a letter distributed Sunday to parishioners at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville that they are putting their souls at risk if they take Holy Communion before doing penance for their vote. "Our nation has chosen for its chief executive the most radical pro-abortion politician ever to serve in the United States Senate or to run for president," Newman wrote, referring to Obama by his full name, including his middle name of Hussein.
And beyond you, Rev. Newman, shall we look at your organization? I have no quarrel with the faithful who find comfort and solace in the ancient liturgy and the sacraments. But just for a second, let's recall the "WWJD" bracelets. What would a rabbi who spoke of self-sacrifice and sharing think of Vatican City, perhaps the largest art hoarder and landowner in the world? What you he think of an institution that initially ignores and then protects sexual predators preying rather than praying, on the most vulnerable?
And you, Rev. Newman, dare criticize your congregants merely for voting for a man of peace and good will?
I can't do this but I know someone who can--
So what will our beloved Blago do? Let's dispatch with one possibility right away: He will NOT name himself to fill the remainder of Obama's term - and believe me I am sure that it has crossed his mind. There isn't much question that going to Washington would allow him to be extricated from the quagmire he's created in state government. It must be equally obvious that he would have to face a group of cannibals in a 2010 democratic primary fight. That said, he could NEVER get re-elected, and should he get indicted while a sitting senator (a real possibility given an ongoing federal corruption investigation), he'd turn himself into a national joke along the lines of Ted Stevens.
Nope, Blago needs to go to the bench and name someone else. In my mind there are three groups of contenders, those who would be there to keep the seat warm for two years, those who really want the job, and those who I think might be rolling around in Blago's mind. Here are those I see as being on those short lists:
Emil Jones - President of the Illinois Senate. Pros: At 73 years old, he would have no designs on staying on past 2010. As an African American, he would "fill" the Af-Am slot that so many pundits think is SOOOOO important. Oh, and was Barack Obama's political mentor.
Cons: He has a heart condition, and while he is a grizzled veteran legislator, he has absolutely NO national experience.
Jesse White - Illinois Secretary of State. Pros: Another aging Af-Am politician, who would have no designs on holding the seat past 2010. He is undeniably popular statewide. He is acknowledged as a stand-up guy. Cons: None, except for the lack of any substantive legislative experience and the fact that he has publicly stated that he has no interest in the job.
Tammy Duckworth - Director of Illinois Department of Veteran's Affairs. Pros - Amazing backstory - multiple amputee veteran of the Iraq Debacle. Gained scads of positive national exposure during her unlikely (and nearly successful) run at Henry Hyde's vacated congressional seat in 2006 (she lost by fewer than 2% in a + GOP district). Cons - She has very little governmental experience, and she hasn't ever won so much as a local elected office. She would be in for a well-funded challenge by the GOP in 2010.
Jesse Jackson Jr. - Sitting Congressman. Pros - A veteran national legislator who would hit the ground running. He knows politics, Dick Durbin could be a huge help to get him onto high profile committees - Normally, I'd say that being an African American would be a "pro" but he carries his father's name, and while his positives in the minority community and the south suburbs are very very high (he is a main proponent of the moribund effort to bring an international airport to Peotone's cornfields) the negatives attached TO HIS FATHER in the mostly white suburbs and downstate would assure a credible GOP challenge in 2010. I really don't like his chances to win a statewide election. His future may be as a challenger to "Da Mayor."
Dan Seals - Two-time (2006, 2008) loser to Mark Kirk in IL-10. Pros - He is Af-Am, and his agenda matches Obama's. Cons - He has ZERO name recognition outside of the Chicago metro area and hasn't ever won an election. While he has run well in a +GOP congressional district, that district is far more socially liberal than downstate. This makes a credible GOP run at him in 2010 a certainty.
Luis Gutierrez - Sitting Congressman (IL-4). Pros - Another veteran legislator who knows his way around Washington. As the only Hispanic in the conversation, he might be a formidible opponent for anyone the GOP throws at him in 2010. Cons - He is all-but-unknown downstate, and he hasn't exactly been much more than a reliable vote in the US Congress, despite having served there for multiple terms. His history as a fire-brand liberal might cause the GOP to see him as vulnerable to a challenge from a strong moderate candidate.
Jan Schakowsky - Sitting Congresswoman (IL-9). Pros - Steady, progressive and (like Jackson and Gutierrez) a veteran presence on Capitol Hill. She can draw on her close relationship with Dick Durbin to get on some plumb committees. She'd be tough for the GOP to attack in 2010. Cons - Another Chicago area politician with little-to-no name recognition outside the Chicago TV market.
Dark, Dark Horses
Bill Foster - Sitting Congressman (IL-14). Pros - Beat a well-funded GOP candidate TWICE in less than a year in a +GOP district. Seen by voters in his district as a moderate with a brilliant mind (FermiLab scientist), and a business background. Received the endorsement of the conservative Chicago Tribune. Cons - Would probably cause the democrats to lose a house seat in a special election for the IL 14 seat. Hard to say if he could generate lots of heat in 2010.
Lisa Madigan - Illinois Attorney General. Pros - She has high positives statewide, and if she went into 2010 as a sitting senator I see no credible GOP presence in the state to oppose her. Her father has the testes of an entire house of the state legislature in a jar by the door of his office. They would make sure to deliver her a decisive victory. Cons - If she is a sitting US Senator, then she probably won't run for governor in 2010 -and this is almost a sure thing if she isn't tabbed for this gig.
My money is on Madigan, especially if Blago has deluded himself into believing that he's still viable to run for re-election in 2010.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Apparently the Obama camp and the periphery are dividing into "transformationalists," who want to take an electoral mandate for a spin and the "incrementalists" who take a cautious Clinton-like view to proceeding.
Are you a good witch or a bad witch?
After a banishment of nearly two years, Chief Illiniwek once again is putting on the buckskins, beads and turkey feathers...a student group paid $4,500 to rent Assembly Hall on campus, where Chief Illiniwek will perform his traditional dance—free for students, $5 for the public. Roberto Martell (an inside joke for the Love Boat crew!), president of Students for Chief Illiniwek, said the group encountered no resistance from the administration. Tom Hardy, a university spokesman, said the students will be allowed to hold the event and that it is not sponsored by the university.Many of you that know that I'm a huge Illini fan and I hated to see the chief gone. But the operative word is "GONE." LET IT GO.
"Chief Illiniwek is a big priority," said Martell, a 20-year-old junior. "It inspired me to be a complete man." Link
Chief Illiniwek made games more exciting for me (let's face it, there have been a lot of lean years in Illinois football!). However, Roberto, if the chief inspired you to be a complete man, you need to re-examine your priorities.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Yes, he said in rough paraphrase that girls can't do math (tell that to my math major wife)
BUT the ultimate disqualifier:
He dated winger hate harpy Laura Ingraham.
"And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond the sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born citizens."
Now, while it can be argued TODAY that the act could be interpreted to mean that BOTH parents needed to be USA citizens in order for the child to be "natural born" - there is absolutely no problem in looking deep in history to find that the MOTHER is key (you COULD prove who a mother was in 1790... not so easy to prove paternity back then). So clearly the original intent of the framers would be to say that any child of a WOMAN citizen is a natural born citizen regardless of WHERE the child was born...
Monday, November 10, 2008
Seventy-six percent of those questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday disapprove of how President Bush is handling his job.
That's an all-time high in CNN polling and in Gallup polling dating back to World War II.
"No other president's disapproval rating has gone higher than 70 percent. Bush has managed to do that three times so far this year," says CNN polling director Keating Holland. "That means that Bush is now more unpopular than Richard Nixon was when he resigned from office during Watergate with a 66 percent disapproval rating."
Before Bush, the record holder for presidential disapproval was Harry Truman, with a 67 percent disapproval rating in January of 1952, his last full year in office.