February 28, 2005

Mike Whalen

Late last night in a darkened parking garage, an alert Dopester gave The Dope a scoop concerning Mike Whalen's announcement of his candidacy today. (OK, it wasn't in a garage, it was in a comment on the blog, but it WAS late.) He strongly urged The Dope to attend.

Though he mentioned it was in Davenport, he wasn't able to provide a location for this event. And no time either. This might make it a little tough for people to attend.

Davenport is a largish town, and I don't feel like driving around all day and night on the off chance I might stumble across this event. So we're told it's going to happen, where and when is anyone's guess at this time.

For those of you unfamiliar with Whalen, he's got a very impressive resume. Take a look at his personal web site which provides his writings on various topics including his idea of how to "fix" Social Security, and further information.

"Founder, President & Chief Executive Officer of Heart of America Restaurants & Inns, developed, owns and operates 25 restaurants and hotels in eight metropolitan areas of five Midwestern states. The accidental entrepreneur began with a failed 100-seat coffee shop in Davenport, IA after graduation from Harvard Law School."

Whalen's candidacy will be worth keeping an eye on.

Betty Bowers' guide to Red vs Blue states

Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian (tm) has this interesting and informative guide to how to tell if you live in a Red State or a Blue State.

Warning: If this is your first visit to Betty's site, you probably should block out an hour or so to look around. It's worth it.

February 27, 2005

How should Dems deal with retaking the southern male vote?

Digby, one of the best writers out there, offers this thought provoking post dealing with a very crucial issue for the future of the Democratic party, namely, how to win back those oh-so-macho NASCAR loving southern males who have gone over to voting against their own self interests.

It's a daunting proposition, and Digby points out the folly of one prescription for dealing with it. Again, it's a strategy that necessitates leaving a lot of traditional Democratic constituencies out in the cold.

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Ahhhhhhh Hillary

MoDo nails it

In her latest, NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd takes the gloves off. Go read it.

Sadly, instances of such writing are rare in our thoroughly cowed major media. Guess MoDo isn't afraid of the wrath of the Bush enforcers.

"It was remarkable to see President Bush lecture Vladimir Putin on the importance of checks and balances in a democratic society.
Remarkably brazen, given that the only checks Mr. Bush seems to believe in are those written to the "journalists" Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Karen Ryan, the fake TV anchor, to help promote his policies. The administration has given a whole new meaning to checkbook journalism, paying a stupendous $97 million to an outside P.R. firm to buy columnists and produce propaganda, including faux video news releases.

The only balance W. likes is the slavering, Pravda-like "Fair and Balanced" coverage Fox News provides."

February 26, 2005

Local pols oppose tobacco tax hike

Mike Jacobs opposes Governor Blagojevich's proposal for a dramatic increase in state taxes on tobacco products saying, "The cigarette tax really seems like a regressive tax, especially to the 36th District, where people can just go across the river, said Sen. Mike Jacobs, a Democrat, "I think this cigarette tax is dead on arrival."

Of course, this ignores the fact that Iowa is poised to enact a huge increase in their cigarette tax as well that may make them more expensive to buy in Iowa.

Both Representatives Boland and Vershoore echo Jacobs' opposition.

Such taxes are rarely a good idea.
First, for people addicted to cigarettes, quitting can be as hard as a heroin addict kicking the habit. Continually jacking up the price of cigarettes causes few, if any, smokers to quit.
The tax rate on cigarettes is already many times higher than comparable taxes on alcohol, even though they're both supposedly sin taxes there to recoup the increased health care expenses incurred due to people that use them.
And smokers are predominantly lower income people, thus it affects these people disproportionately. And of course, lower income smokers don't have a very powerful lobby. Aside from the tobacco companies, there's no one to prevent the government digging into their pockets. They're an easy target, which legislators seem to love going after.
Then there's the libertarian angle to it which holds that the government should not try to regulate individual behavior by imposing excessive taxes.
And perhaps more importantly, prices can only be jacked up so high before it makes a black market profitable.

It's a thorny issue, but will likely be decided according to how effective the tobacco industry spreads their money around Springfield. I'm hoping Mike Jacobs' assessment of the proposal's chances is correct.

> MORE <

Swimming in their own gene pool

Hey Kids! It appears that loud-mouthed pantload Sean Hannity has his own dating service for conservatoids!

And let's face it, judging from this bunch, they need all the help they can get. Getting a date for some of these people would be harder than getting giant pandas to mate.

If you wanna have a good laugh at other's expense, check it out.

Let's just hope if they get together they don't reproduce.

River Cities Reader's "Best of the Quad Cities" results up

River Cities Reader's "Best of" awards are worth a look.
This year, Centro topped the balloting for best restaurant, and the top three issues needing local attention came in as 1. Education, 2. Jobs, 3. Roads.
Best local politicians? 1. Lane Evans, 2. Charlie Brook, 3. Steve Ahrens

Go and check it out. Do you agree with their readers picks? Any people or places you think they missed? Comment away.

February 25, 2005


Paul Krugman is one of the most fearless and clear minded columnists at any major newspaper. Today he again hit's the nail on the head while examining the latest stealth right wing campaign against the American people. This time they're spending millions in an attempt to smear AARP for having the audacity to oppose Dear Leader's reckless privatization plan. All these efforts are coordinated skillfully and only a fool would think the White House and Rove are not somehow involved.
Krugman does his part to make people aware of what's going on. It's important.
(link to New York Times, free registration required.)

Not a bad return for a quarter

BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) — An assistant manager at Wal-Mart hit a $1.7 million jackpot at a casino in Burlington on his lunch break.
Dwayne Price, 31, of Hamilton hit the jackpot on Thursday at Catfish Bend Casino on a quarter slot machine.

> MORE <

Attempting to tear down Illinois' high ballot access barriers

Illinois ballot access requirements has been gamed by the two parties in order to make it all but impossible for any third party candidate to be able to run. The side effect of this is that even Republican and Democratic candidates have to do an enormous amount of work, often spending large amounts of money to do so, just to get the huge number of signatures required. It's hard to argue that democracy is enhanced by creating unnecessarily high barriers for people to simply get on a ballot.

To that end, Rep. Mike Boland has co-sponsored (along with Reps. Froehlich and Franks) a bill which would lower this Chinese wall.

It's key provision would lower the statewide petition signatures required from the current 25,000 to 10,000, and district petitions from 5% of the number of votes cast in the last election to 1%.

While ballot access requirements are there to prevent a chaotic ballot ala Iraq's recent election, with hundreds of candidates cluttering the ballot, reducing this excessively prohibitive barrier as it stands is a good idea. After all, in the marketplace of ideas, as with other markets, competition is a good thing that ultimately benefits the consumers, namely, the citizens of Illinois. The two parties shouldn't be afraid of letting a little fresh air and competition into the game.

Libertarian blogger Jeff Trig follows this issue.

Death penalty won't be sought in Reynolds case

Proscecutors have said they will not seek the death penalty against two of the teens accused of the murder of Adrianne Reynolds because the two were under the age of 17 at the time of the murder.
Nathan Gaudet plead guilty to concealing a homocide earlier in the week which sets up a situation where he'll likely be used as a witness against the other two defendants, Sarah Kolb and Cory Gregory.
Proscecutors would likely prefer that Kolb and Gregory be tried together and use Gaudet to testify against them.
However, when Kolb and Gregory appeared before Judge John Teros, Gregory's attorney requested that a different judge hear his case, and his case was assigned to be heard by Judge Jeff O'Connor. Defendants are granted one change of judge without having to provide a reason if they request it within 10 days of a first court appearance. That time limit had run out for Kolb, and her attorney had not made the request. So if the pair are to be tried together by the same judge, she would have to request a change of judges and demonstrate that Teros was prejudiced against her.
It remains to be seen how State's Attorney Jeff Terronez handles the situation.

Barb Ickes has the rest of the story at the Quad City Times online.

> MORE <

Tourism marketing group finds the Quads can't be found

A gathering of marketing types from the Quad Cities Convention and Tourism Board put their heads together and determined that the biggest tourism challenge facing the Quads is letting people know it exists.
The problem stems from the fact that the Quad Cities appears on no maps or highway signs saying "Here is the Quad Cities." They also raised the oft spoken of need for a unifying brand that would identify the area. Cited as problems as well were parochial feelings, the dividing effect of the river, and the fact that the Quad Cities has all but lost it's affordabability factor, which had always helped to attract visitors. In this day of corporate homogenation, it's nearly as expensive to vacation here as in the Chicago area, making competition tougher.

Perhaps some Dopesters have views on the best way to attract convention and tourism dollars to the area.

And I'd like to officially begin the "Come up with a snappy, descriptive, marketable name for the Quad Cities" contest.

(And "The Quad Cities: Where even the river runs the wrong way." doesn't count.)

All entries, serious or otherwise, are welcome. The winner will be picked after sufficient time has passed.

Story at Quad Cities Online

Blago gaming the Gaming Board

The normally five member Illinois Gaming Board has been functioning with only two members lately. While the two remaining members can continue to regulate the industry, they don't have the three member quorum required to approve expansion plans, renew licenses, or deal with disciplinary matters.
Governor Blagojevich has delayed naming any board members and this leaves the remaining two members and others, including Jumer's head Ron Wicks, frustrated and wondering what Blago's up to. Jumer's plans to expand to wetlands south of Rock Island are being delayed due to the Governor's delay.
The two remaining members and others testified before the Illinois House Gaming Committee,(which includes member Pat Vershoore) on Thursday.
Members have complained that Blago appears to be attempting to wrest control from the Board and bring it more tightly under the Governor's control.

One wonders just who Blago will annoy next.

(link is to QC Online... requires free registration for subscribers, paid for others.)

> MORE <

Further "Picture-gate" revelations

An alert Dopester came through big time by providing the low-down about this low down story.

The most detailed account so far was posted in a comment to a post far down the page.

And by the account of the attempted blackmail deal, it sures sounds like Thodos' account of refusing to use the pictures is bunk.

It appears that East Moline has some solid citizens it can be proud of. (cough)

February 24, 2005

Blago wants to burst IL teacher's pension "bubble"

Carl Nyberg of Blogging Blagovevich's Blunders (say that three times fast) has an illuminating post about a legislative proposal in Blago's latest budget to limit a little known tactic used to inflate teacher's pensions. Teachers often get a huge pay raise just before they retire, boosting their pensions. This cost is then paid out for many years after. Blago hopes to shift the burden for this from the state to the local school systems.

Dems launch pre-emptive attack on chief Swift liar's upcoming book

Aides to Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Joe Biden, and Ted Kennedy are getting out in front of another effort by Swift Boat Liar in Chief, Jerome Corsi. This time he's accusing Dems of being bought off by Iran and thereby being responsible for Iran's nuclear program.
Sounds like the Rovians are already laying the groundwork for marginalizing the Dems in advance of their longed for war with Iran.
This Corsi guy is lower than low. Good for them.

Only 10?

Guess you'd have to cut it off somewhere. But it's always good to check in to see who grabbed the honor of being named to Democratic Underground's weekly Top 10 Republican Idiots list.

DU also has a lot of interesting content. Check it out. They also have an extensive forum set up for Dems, including an Illinois Dem forum.

The doll looks better

Condi action figure. The doll's hair looks less like plastic than Condi's.

Via TBogg...

Extreme Teens

There have been a raft of stories of amazingly brutal instances of teen or young adult violence and murder around the area lately.

These include the murder, attempted incineration, and dismemberment, of 16 year old Adrianne Reynolds in Moline by other teens, one of whom, 16 year old Nathan Gaudet, plead guilty yesterday, a case where one teen murdered another teen by stabbing him 111 times (!) while another teen held the victim down in Burlington, IA, a double murder in Muscatine of two young victims only blocks from where a 22 yr old boyfriend of a young woman murdered her 2 year old child not long ago. (no age has been reported on the suspect in the double slaying)

Obviously, this is of concern. But does it represent a rise in violence and even murder among young people? Is this something people should wring their hands and panic about? Haven't we been down this road before? It seems not that long ago that we were in the grips of a purported epidemic of teen violence according to the press and politicians and professional moralists.

What, if anything, could be thought to be the cause? And what, if anything, can be done? Should politicians jump into the act? Should people freak out as if it's only happening in this area, or is it a national trend, or no trend at all? And what are the limits to what legislation can do to deal with these incidents? After all, isn't the blame to be laid ultimately on the guilty themselves for being amoral sociopaths?

Your thoughts?

Nussle remains Bush's boy on Social Security

Jim Nussle held a town hall meeting at Scott Community College yesterday. Against strong opposition, he didn't exactly highlight his support of the hair-brained S.S. privatization scheme.
Even his spokesperson is now saying he has an "open mind" on the subject, though he's indicated his support for privatization many times.

Ed Tibbetts does a great job covering the visit and the issue.

> MORE <

"Lydia's Law" fails

Rep. Jerry Mitchell's attempt to introduce a bill that would allow municipalities to ban certain breeds of dogs has failed to make it out of committee.
In opposition, the Humane Society spokesman James Burton said "Punish the deed, not the breed." (sounds like Jesse Jackson might be his PR hack) The answer to this problem is not outlawing certain breeds, but better enforcement of current laws, he said.

Via The Dispatch

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another voice heard from

In response to an editorial addressing Mike Jacobs appointment, a reader from Fulton writes the Q.C. Times:

Thanks for exposing Jacobs dynasty

Thank you for your excellent editorial concerning the Jacobs Dynasty. It is obvious Sen. Jacobs planned his retirement so his son could be appointed to the Senate seat. Boo on backroom politics! And shame to the Democrats who went along with Sen. Jacobs’ plan.

Democrats, how can you say you represent the people when you take away our right to vote to fill the senate seat vacated by Jacobs?

The state law should be amended to provide for interim elections.

Irene T. Mungen

Does Irene have a point, or is she all wet?

Nuclear fallout

The Dispatch runs a page one follow up on the East Moline mayoral race.

Some nuggets...

Thodos apparently wasn't just running for mayor, he was on a mission from God.

"This was one of those things I prayed about. It was something I was compelled to do. I feel it was one of those things (the Lord) wanted me to do. I think it was a whole bunch of things all converging at this place in time."
(Wonder what other things God gave him advice on?)

As to funding, Morenos' camp said Thodos spent $35,000 on the campaign, Thodos says it was about half that. For his part, "Mayor Moreno said he couldn't afford billboards or mailings. His fliers were distributed by volunteers. He estimates he spent about a fifth of what Mr. Thodos spent."

Heiland felt that it wasn't just the outspending, that the win was due to, "... a lot of voters who haven't voted for years. They came out and voted."

John Gianulis addressed the economic issues. "There was a very competitive race in East Moline for mayor. With the difficult situation we've had with the closing of the Case plant in East Moline and some of the adversities, the incumbant had to bear the brunt of that."

The Photo

"Thodos said he chose not to use the photo in a smear campaign. 'I have had people say "Use this". I will not use it. To me, it was no option.'

Helen Heiland, Thodos' campaign manager, denies sending it out. 'We stayed on the up and up. John stayed on the issues. He didn't trash people.'"

"Moreno said he ran a campaign that was "too clean" by failing to mention Thodos' voting record as alderman." (!)

Moreno says that he's heartbroken, but doesn't want to get too down, "...because I trust that the mayor-elect will do the best that he can. If the team stays intact, it's like a relay race. I'm handing the baton off to (mayor-elect) John (Thodos). We're on the same team."

The best part of public service is the satisfaction of doing good things in your community", Moreno said, " The worst part is the campaign."

And so far, only denial from the Thodos camp. No condemnation of the pictures and what was done with them from anyone.

The entire article is at Quad Cities Online. Some content available free. Others require registration. Registration is free to subscribers to QC Online or The Dispatch/Argus papers, others must pay.

February 23, 2005

Moreno gracious despite...

Via the Moline Dispatch:

"Mr. Moreno said he was surprised and dissapointed with the results and will not run for mayor again. "There is a time and place for everything and my time is now.", he said.
(I don't know if I'd have put it that way. "now" wasn't exactly kind to him.)

"I'm very proud of the seeds that we've planted that John (Thodos) will see those benefits," said Mr. Moreno, "I wish him well."

Thodos described his win as "somewhat monumental", and said he'd like all East Moliners to come together for the good of the city.

Via the Q.C. Times:

A disappointed Moreno, who served East Moline for 16 years on the city council, including the last four as mayor, said, “People are tired of the high taxes and the water fees. What they don’t realize, and this is what I should have brought forward, is that Mr. Thodos voted for tax increases on several occasions which resulted in higher fees.”
Moreno said he was unsuccessful in conveying his message. “It is an upset and the reason why is that we kept it clean and stayed with the issues and I just counted on the people to be as informed as possible. Obviously, I failed.”

Thodos said the contest became fierce at times.
“We tried to keep everything issue-related, and we have a lot of difficult issues ahead of us, but many of the problems we’re having now are the result of decisions the current administration has made.”

(no hatchet burying here. This battle lives on... )

He said he campaigned on prudent spending and economic development. “We have the Case plant that’s going to be torn down. We had four years to plan for it but there’s no plan.”

On the Moline race:

“I think that my message has resonated with the citizens of Moline, the message of holding the line on taxes, putting more money into our neighborhood and spreading economic development across the city,” O’Brien said. “I feel good because I think my message crosses party lines.”
“I didn’t try to play up to any one party, and that’s a little hard to do,” Welvaert said.
Andria McDermott will square off against Michael Carton in the race for O’Brien’s council seat. She received 37 percent of the vote and Carton collected 31 percent.
“I’m very good at planning and organizing and making money for our companies, so I’m assuming I can make money for the city,” McDermott said. Carton could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.
(Well, at least she's humble.)

February 22, 2005

It's all over but the shouting...

It's in the books.... Perhaps the upset of the night - Thodos beats Moreno in E. Moline.

O'Brien handily was the top vote getter in the Moline mayoral race, with Welvaert earning the right to oppose O'Brien in the general.

Helen Heiland pulled from 10 votes behind to a 10 vote lead within the last hours to win in E. Moline's Ward 1

Lohse wins as Silvis Mayor

Connie Mohr-Wright wins South Moline Township Clerk

Cockerill is in as Milan mayor.

Complete final results here.

> MORE <

Story of the night...

So far, with over 95% of the vote tallied, Thodos holds a slim lead over Moreno for East Moline mayor.

This is a nailbiter... Thodos: 1.621 50.77%
Moreno: 1,567 49.08%

> MORE <

A real sqeaker...

Helen Heiland and Connie Corcoran Wilson are neck and neck in East Moline's Ward 1 with Wilson ahead by only a 10 vote margin ....

Lohse wins Silvis

The Dope projects Lohse as winner of the Silvis mayoral race.
With only a few precincts outstanding, the count stands Lohse 502, Leibovitz 340, and Peterson 14.

Milan race a close one...

Milan's mayoral race is fairly tight. With 95.35% of the vote tallied, the races stand Dawson 396 to Cockerill 320

O'Brien by a mile

O'Brien has a commanding lead 2,020 to second place Welvaert's 1,566 with 82 of 86 precincts reporting.

Crunch time

Election Night Blogathon.

I'm throwing the comments area open to all who want to post anything at all tonight. Report in on your voting experiences, predictions, what you heard, what you hope, or where you're partying. It's anything goes night. Have at it and play nice.

I'll post returns as soon as they're available.
The Inside Dope -- Your Election Headquarters.

Dean eats Pearle's lunch

Dean's debate with Richard Pearle is on C-Span now. Go.

(worth it just to see someone throw their shoe at the truly evil Pearle. And no, it's not that I think Dean is God, but rather that Pearle, the embodiment of the neocons. gets his ass handed to him that I find so satisfying. Dean does a truly inspiring job of articulating what Dems stand for and Pearle looks like the swine he is.)

Brunsvold gets his wings clipped.

This issue appeared some time ago, but I'd forgotten about it.
Seems our old rep Brunsvold, in the midst of implementing draconian cuts in the Illinois DNR he heads, was at the same time flying around on state aircraft almost as much as the governor, including flights to hunting trips in South Dakota and Marion. He often took helicopter trips to and from the Q.C.s at taxpayer expense as well as flying his wife.
Good work if you can get it, but you gotta make it stick.

More sordid details here and here.

Election Day

It's time to get out to the polls. Today's activities will decide several mayoral races and various township slots.

Democratic candidates will be chosen for the following races:

East Moline - Mayor, Wards 1, 3, & 7 alderman
Moline Township - Trustees
South Moline Township - Clerk & Road Commissioner
Rock Island Township - Assessor & Trustee
Milan - Mayor & Trustee
Silvis - Mayor & Wards 1 & 3 alderman

Moline has it's nonpartisan primary for Mayor and 2nd Ward Alderman.
The candidates with the top two vote counts go on to run in the general.

You can access the Rock Island County Clerk's website and find helpful information, including the location of your polling place by entering your address. (they've changed recently, so it's good to check)

Click here to see a list of all the offices and candidates running, as well as the results when they're available.

Democracy is occurring even as we speak.

Get out and vote!

Stay tuned, results later...

February 21, 2005

Kerry '08???!!!!!

Thought I'd haul this discussion out from the Clinton comments where it began.

Seems some otherwise fine and wise Dopesters feel that Kerry is just the ticket in 2008. The Dope feels this is sheer folly and delusional. (One hopes that even Kerry himself will realize this and not run.)

What do YOU think? (and of course, why.)

I mean, Kerry lost to THESE "compassionate conservatives"!!

Billls, bills, bills

The Illinois lege is now involved in committee work, and here's how our local contingent stacks up.

Mike Jacobs parachutes into five committees: Environment & Energy, Executive Appointments, Insurance, Pensions & Investments, and Revenue.
Jacobs is currently chief sponsor of 6 bills.

Mike Boland sits on eight committees: Agriculture & Conservation, Appropriations-Public Safety, Financial Institutions, Labor, Payday Loans subcommittee, Telecommunications, Committee of the Whole, Worker's Compensation, and the Unemployment subcommittee.
Boland is on 27 bills as chief sponsor.

Pat Vershoore serves on seven committees: Agriculture & Conservation, Appropriations-Human Services, Electic Utility Oversight, Environment & Energy, Gaming, Veterans Affairs, and the Committee of the Whole.
Vershoore chief sponsors 6 bills.

More details of what the bills involve and their status are available through the links.

The Big Dog's on...

Bill Clinton's speech at the Chicago Book Expo from June, 2nd '04 is being replayed on C-Span's Book TV. He lays out a compelling vision for the future as well as some stories from his life. The guy as always, is riveting. Well worth watching.

(as always, C-Span usually repeats, and streaming video can be found at their site.)

Who may or may not be Mayor?

Mayoral races are tomorrow (don't forget to vote) and they should prove to be exciting. Shaping up to be one of the most hard fought is the East Moline race pitting incumbant Joe Moreno against John Thodos.

Both Thodos, and Moreno have web sites. They might provide some further info for those of you who enjoy partisan PR.

The line on this race gives the edge to Moreno, but anything could happen with Thodos picking up some important endorsements, including that of Mike Boland.

The Dope recommends all decent respectible Moline types get out and vote O'Brien.

(postscript: I should change the above to ALL Molne types. I wouldn't want to limit turnout. -ahem-)

Results posted tomorrow. Post or e-mail any developments to me if you wish.

The Q.C.s, the whole Q.C.s, and nothing but the Q.C.s

In response to the suggestion of a poster down thread that I focus exclusively on the Quads, the following is a recap of poltical goings on this weekend in the Quad Cities:

--insert sound of crickets here--

To my knowledge, nothing newsworthy happened. Oh wait.. Thodos had a townhall/pancake breakfast event. Or maybe that still hasn't happened.

If anyone has any QC news I've missed, feel free to lay it on me. This effort depends largely on your input. It's painless... just click the contact button to the right.

We now return to our regularly scheduled program.

Gonzo is dead

Alas, Hunter S. Thompson, the inventor and prime practitioner of "Gonzo" journalism, has apparently taken his own life at the age of 67. Thompson authored such classics as "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" (with it's memorable first line ""We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold.") as well as many articles and books dealing with sports and politics including his account of being part of the traveling presidential campaign press corp "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trial '72". He was found dead at his infamous Aspen ranch "Woody Creek".

More here.

One of his last interviews including his take on the Bush regime can be found at Salon.

R.I.P. Duke

(Thanks to alert Dopester LatinV for the tip)

> MORE <

February 20, 2005

Gannon threatens to sue everyone

This is hilarious. I'd love to see Gannon/Guckert whoever he is on the stand with a good lawyer cross-examining him about his client list.

Bring it on!

Via Atrios....... and read the comments... hilarious!

> MORE <

Dean debating Pearle

Dean vs. arch neocon Richard Pearle being shown on C-Span now. Likely will repeat later. (Video will be available on C-Span website for viewing as well)

Someone stands up and hurls a shoe at Pearle at one point. And Dean demolishes him with several devastating responses. Must see TV.

No more squishes!

Like I said.....

via Atrios

And here's a site from a group formed to try to give congresional Dems a spine injection. If you agree... sign their petition while you're there.

Evans, Quinn attend funeral of slain QC servicewoman

Lt. Governor Pat Quinn and Rep. Lane Evans attended funeral services Saturday for Sgt. Jessica M. Housby of Rock Island, the first Quad Cities woman killed in Iraq. The number of dead from Illinois stands at 86, including 11 National Guard members, and is certain to grow larger.

> MORE <

This just in...

Thanks to alert commenter "anonymous" (grrrrrr) for bringing this to my attention.

Senator Barack Obama is scheduled to be at Augustana College in Rock Island this Wednesday around 11:30 a.m. for a town meeting.

Details of Obama's visit to Augie can be found here.

File photo of The Inside Dope and Barack Obama
(we're so tight, I'm #3 on his speed-dial.)

Maher on Gannon

A hilarious clip of Bill Maher discussing Gannongate.

And how's this for a guest list? Joe Biden, Tommy Thompson, and Robin Williams.

Click the link to go to the page and click the link there. Go and watch...

Guess this is what G.W. meant when he said he had a man-date?

> MORE <

February 19, 2005

Rupert and Barack

Obama joins Rupert Murdock as key speakers at annual American Society of Editors conference. There's a pair to draw to.

> MORE <

Gay Prosti-gate?

As many of you are probably aware, there's an amazing scandal currently unfolding involving a gay prostitute/fake reporter/right wing shill using the phony name "Jeff Gannon" who was allowed into daily White House press briefings under very suspicious circumstances. (there's also a link to the Valerie Plame outing as well)

Most of the digging on the story was done by John Aravosis of Ameriblog.

Get all the angles (there's a LOT) of the deeply weird story here. (Caution, contains disturbing images of "Gannon", unless you're into that sort of thing of course.)

The whole thing is amazing and getting weirder by the day. Many posts on the ongoing saga here. (start near the bottom to read in chronilogical order)

A link to The Daily Show's take and excerpts of Frank Rich, Sid Blumenthal, and Eric Boelert pieces on the affair via Atrios here.

Jim Jeff Gannon/Guckert has also been caught lying his ass off and, typically for a right wing hypocrite (a gay prostitute who routinely argued against gay rights) caught with his pants down, is now trying to play the victim. Unbelievably, there are those that have drunk the right wing kool ade and are so addled that they actually defend him. Like this bozo.

This is really an explosive story. Try, if you can, to imagine what would have happened if this had been revealed during Clinton's administration! What will we tell the CHILDREN???!!!!" Where's Henry "The flag is falling" Hyde when you need him?

> MORE <

The Future of RI County Dems

John Gianulis has done an amazingly successful job as head of the Rock Island County Dem organization for as long as many of us can remember (hell, since before many of us were born!). He's recognized as THE county chairman in Illinois and widely respected. He's still as energetic and active as most 20 year olds, we should all be doing that well at his age. But even Gianulis can't work forever. (though he might prove me wrong!)

Now that we're making the first steps into the 21st century, it's necessary to think of the future. The way races are run has changed dramatically and fundamentally and will continue to change and evolve at a rapid pace. Methods that have proven successful in past decades, while important, just won't be sufficient in the years to come.

The quantum leaps in the use of technology in campaigns and organization will provide those who adopt them and use them wisely a great advantage. Those who ignore this development, who drag their feet or are slow to realize their value will be left in the dust.

Many reliably die-hard Democratic party workers and activists have done a tremendous job for many years, putting in an amazing amount of work and sacrifice to ensure decades of Democratic dominance in RI County. But times, demographics, and society have all undergone vast changes in the past 30 years. What happens as this generation of people who are the bedrock of the organization gradually are unable to continue?

Though there are younger people involved with the party, I've seen precious few of them, other than paid campaign staff. This is a definite cause for concern. Once the current generation of loyal workers has passed, what then??

There appears to be no one who has been groomed as heir apparent to Gianulis. Will it be open warfare when he steps down? What is needed to ensure that the RI Dems continue to be a strong and effective organization into the next millennium? Who would be a good successor to John G?

Can the RI Dem organization be drug into 21st century political reality, and if so, how, and by whom?

Welcome and Thanks

I'd just like to thank all who have visited and especially those who have joined in by leaving comments. I highly encourage all to share your thoughts, ideas, comments, rants, kudos, witty jabs, snide remarks, random musings, or anything else that pops into your head.

Let's make this a place to enjoy each others views and to have a spirited, thoughtful, and stimulating debate on the issues raised here. (But feel free to raise your own issues too!)

And get in touch. I'm wide open for tips, suggestions, or alerts. And feel free as well to send your compliments, praises, or scorching condemnation and abuse. I can handle it. Don't hold back. You can send me mail by clicking the "send mail" link to the right.

Again, thanks to those who have left comments, and I encourage all others to jump on the bandwagon.

Nussle Tussle

With Jim Nussle entertaining visions of more grand things for himself, he's vacating his Iowa 1st congressional district seat to gear up for a run at governor. Look for a good scrap for this senate slot.

The Iowa governor race is shaping up as well, with Dem prospect Chad Culver naming key staff. Other Dems in the running are Rep. Ed Fallon, the only one so far to declare himself a candidate, and Economic Development Director Michael Blouin.

Expected to challenge Nussle in the GOP primary are Doug Gross, who took a pounding when he was defeated as the last GOP candidate in 2002, and Bob Vander Plaats of Sioux City, whom Gross defeated in the primary that year.

Keep your score cards handy for these races.

February 18, 2005

Worth a try, but without Sammy ...

... I'm not sure this is the answer to the Cubs woes. Hope springs eternal in the hearts of Cub fans.

As an inaugural treat, here's a prime audio clip of Harry Carrey, The Bud Man in all his glory.
"Hey, we see Marla Collins without shorts on for the first time..."
(the clip may cut out at the beginning - just drag the slider back to the left and listen from the start again.)

ADDENDUM: I've just found a little backstory on this clip. Marla Collins was the Cubs 28 yr old batgirl. In 1986, she was fired after posing nude for Playboy. Despite massive fan support, the Cubs terminated her for "behavior unbecoming an employee" of the franchise. This might explain why they all fell apart after Harry's comment.

--->> EXTRA BONUS.... Be the first person to correctly identify the famous person in the Cub uniform below and acheive the admiration and respect of Inside Dopers everywhere.

****FLASH**** WE HAVE A WINNER.. Unfortunately, it's "anonymous". (sigh)
The guy in the photo is Ronny "WooWoo" a long time Wrigley fixture famous for his rousing cheers of "Cubs WOOOOO!"

> MORE <

East Moline mayoral candidates searching for an issue

Perhaps we should be grateful that the issues that have appeared in the East Moline mayoral race are so small bore. Perhaps it should be filed under 'be careful what you wish for'. But the latest "news" in the race over the expansion of the Jewel/Osco store seems a bit childish. (though the candidates are dealing with other larger issues, such as what to do with the gargantuan monument to lost jobs, the vacant IH/Case plant.)

The store has been located within spitting distance of the Moline/East Moline border for years. But last year, Jewel decided to build a new store. What was odd was that they planned to build it about 200 yds away, just across the Moline border.

John Thodos is touting the fact that he "discovered" the plan by Jewel before anyone in city government was aware of it and by sheer pluck and moxie, managed to set in motion events that led to Jewel deciding that, rather than moving 200 yds west into Moline, they'd build their new store literally on top of their old one. (They actually had to lop off a chunk of the strip mall currently occupied by Jewel in order to erect the new building) The happy result of this is that the new store will still be within the confines of East Moline.

Thodos says he heard of the plans to move the store to Moline while out on a routine visit to constituents. The other candidate and incumbent mayor, Joe Moreno seems a bit annoyed over the flap. I can't say I blame him. After all, it seems to be a case of Thodos saying "I found it first!", not exactly the most exalted banner to march under. More here.

> MORE <

The Color of Money

Just came across this belated news item regarding the Moline mayoral contest focusing on the spending involved.

O'Brien and Adams plan to spend $12,000 each on the primary alone, while Welvaert is looking to burn up $15,000.

Talk about inflation. Hope they have at least a few bucks left for the general.

> MORE <

Calling all gourmands

Since I'm hungry as hell, good places to eat are on my mind.
I need your input on great places to eat and drink.

There's the chains, there's one of a kinds like Jim's Ribs, and the high-end joints such as Johnny's, Biaggi's, Le Figaro, and others.

There's several places I haven't hit yet, including Five (or is that out of business already?), the new Blue Ribbon in downtown Moline, and Granite City in Davenport, among many.

So chime in. What's your recommended spots to eat in the area? Don't limit yourself to just the Quads. For instance, one of the best meals I've had in ages was at the Forest Inn in Morrison. It was outstanding!

Tell the Dope what eating and drinking establishments would you recommend to say, someone visiting from out of the area. It could be Thai, Indian, Italian, Greek, high class, middle class, or no class.

Give us your top five area places to eat and tell us why you recommend them.

"Lydia's Law"

It seem that like lemmings, lawmakers stampede to be the first to propose some new law after tragedies that tug at the heartstring. The recent death of Lydia Chaplin of rural Erie apparently is no exception. While one would be hard pressed to imagine a more gruesome and horrible death, attempts to prevent it happening again are subject to debate.
Lawmakers are now scrambling to research the issue and get their name on some law that will capitalize on this horrid tragedy for their own aggrandizement.

Jerry Mitchell R-Rock Falls is first out of the gate with a proposal that involves allowing local government the right to enact breed specific ordinances and laws. Boland is also trying to get in the act.

It so happened that three of the four dogs involved were Pit Bulls, so I guess the thinking is if you somehow register or license Pit Bulls, then dog maulings will be reduced or eliminated. This seems like yet another band-aid solution which will have little if any effect on the problem, would likely have not prevented the tragedy which the pols are exploiting, and which usually involve imposing yet another fee or tax. And what about chihuahua's with nasty attitudes? What if someone attempts to evade the ordinances by breeding a Pit Chihuahua? Who's going to protect us from them?

Lease laws were already on the books in the area of the attack, and as long as dogs either are allowed to roam, or escape, the potential for an attack is always there. Laws on paper can only go so far, though perhaps it's worth doing at least something, no matter how marginal. But the Pavlovian response of politicians to capitalize on every tragedy really sticks in my craw.

Thorough Quad City Times article at links above and below...

> MORE <

A Lean, Mean Dean

Regardless of the inevitable tired, lame, overworked, and frankly, pathetic attempts by the lock-step right to cast him as a wild-eyed bomb throwing radical lib, (which he most certainly isn't) Howard Dean is now at the reigns of the Democratic National Committee.

The Dope feels that this is one of the few positive developments regarding post 2004 Democratic politics. I had little hopes for his chances to attain this post, and was very happily surprised when it appeared he had it locked up.

Here are Dean's bullet points for what he feels should be the priorities for the future of the party currently not in power.

  • Show up! Never concede a single state, county, district or even a single voter to the Republicans. We must be active and compete in all 50 states and work with the state parties to build a truly national party.

  • Recruit, train, and encourage candidates to run for office at every level -- building tomorrow's farm team from the ground up. This was the founding principle behind Democracy for America.

  • Actively grow local Democratic committees in local communities. Local neighborhood advocates are our best spokespeople -- helping them reach out in their own communities will better articulate our message and enable the grassroots to support state and local candidates.

  • Better integrate national and state party operations. Specifically, that means: providing the state party the means to pay for its executive director in every state; building and sharing lists between the national and state parties; and creating an ongoing active presence -- a permanent campaign in every state that does not have to be recreated for only four months every four years.

  • Develop and articulate core Democratic principles that we all can agree on, that will let people know what our party stands for. We will not win elections or build a lasting majority solely by changing our rhetoric, nor will we win by adopting the other side's positions. We must say what we mean -- and mean real change when we say it.

  • Make Democrats the party of reform -- reforming America's financial situation, reforming our electoral process, reforming health care, reforming education and putting morality back in our foreign policy.

  • Utilize cutting edge Internet technology, not only to fundraise, but also as an effective organizing tool to recruit more supporters, communicate with them, and empower them to lead in their local communities.

  • Strengthen the party institutions and leadership institutes so that they rival the Republican machine that currently exists. These institutions must work together in a coordinated way to recruit new talent, develop leaders, articulate our values and elect Democrats at every level.

These are all excellent and crucial goals with promise for local implications. The Dems simply MUST move towards accomplishing each of them in order to prevail in the future.

But perhaps Dean's election is more important in another respect, namely, that it gives hope that at long last, there is someone in the lead who is both moderate and a fighter. The days of trying to co-opt the right as a way to victory is over. That tactic was a dead end anyway, as it would ultimately result in the Dems becoming de facto Republicans.

Dean's ascension is a welcome shot in the arm to a party that seemed incapable of, or too frightened to fight back to defend their core princicples.

There were many top Dems that were so timid they were afraid of Dean becoming DNC chair and actively fought against him. These are the people that need to change or be purged. "Safety first" can no longer be the Democratic motto.

The whacko right will undoubtedly try to cast Dean as reckless or far out on the fringe. Let 'em. Capitulating and conforming to the Right has been an unmitigated disaster so far. Dean is a moderate, and he's not afraid of a fight. It's high time the party comes to it's senses and realizes that unless they shed their pink tutus and fight back hard, they'll be marginalized out of of existence.

February 17, 2005

A Change of the Guard

Another race heating up in the area pits three candidates against each other to see who will replace the outgoing Mayor of Moline, Stan Leach. The top two vote getters in the Feb. 22nd primary will get to face off in the general April 5th. Though Moline's mayoral slot is ostensibly non-partisan,there are two Republicans and one Democrat in the race, all three currently serving as alderman. Don Welvaert, alderman at large first elected to the council in 2001 and is an Operations Manager for MidAmerican Energy. Bill Adams has served on the council since 1999 and most notably served as chair of the Illinois Quad City Civic Center Authority which brought the highly successful Mark of the Quad Cities into being. Adams is a commercial agent for real estate giant Mel Foster. As you may have surmised from their day gigs, these are the two Republicans. The Democrat in the race is Pat O'Brien. O'Brien is serving his second term as councilman having been first elected in 1997. He serves in program education and instruction for financial literacy at Bethany for Children and Families, a long established social institution in the area. He's currently a member of Laborer's Union Local 309. Leach taught a crafts class at Moline High which was known as THE blow-off class. To say Leach was lenient is an understatement. I don't know if you even had to show up. So many were stunned when Leach won election as Mayor in '93...as a REPUBLICAN. His tenure there was notable for just how little he distinguished himself. Downtown development was shamelessly narrow-minded, turning it into Deere-ville with precious little reason for any average citizen to want to go there more than once. While Rock Island's downtown has constantly evolved with innovative ideas and projects, despite sporadic signs of life, Moline's has largely failed to gain anything close to a critical mass. The two Republican candidates, while having their individual approaches, generally are committed to the archetypical play-to-the-moneyed-interests style, believing there is only one direction to look for growth, and that's to the people who are already doing just fine and to focus development on catering to this narrow segment by promoting development almost exclusively beneficial to these same interests. O'Brien has pulled no punches in expressing his disapproval of many ill-considered schemes from the Republican dominated council. In contrast, O'Brien believes in focusing the city government on serving >gasp< the average residents of the city. He is opposed to a proposed utility tax (Moline is one of few towns in the Quads that still doesn't have one) and utlilizing city funds for quality of life issues such as public safety, basic services, and infrastructure. This approach is very long overdue in the Dope's opinion.Though the city has a very well done web site, even enabling residents to pay their water bills online, the fact that O'Brien is the only alderman with his own website, which suggests he'll continue to bring Moline city govenment into the 20th century. O'Brien shows promise of being able to provide a welcome change in priorities for Moline city government.

Down the rabbit hole

Governor Blagojevich unveiled his budget recently amidst much grumbling from both sides of the aisle. It includes a plan to hike already high taxes on cigarettes and tobacco products and to skim funds from various state programs and shift them to education funding.

Last year, Blago promised the area $8.5 million for development and construction of the Western Illinois University riverfront campus at the old Deere & Co. administration building site in Moline, but due to gridlock in Springfield, nothing came through.

Now the governor has announced that he's budgeted $2.5 million for the project, a fraction of the amount much ballyhooed as a coup by local pols.

Though WIU itself got slightly more money than last year, that increase will be devoted to meeting payroll and avoiding staff layoffs. WIU president Al Goldfarb even gave our boys a shout-out in the campus paper, "The University wants especially to express its gratitude to our local legislators, Senators John Sullivan and Denny Jacobs and Representatives Rich Myers, Mike Boland and Patrick Verschoore, for their support of our strategic initiatives," said president Goldfarb. (link requires free registration)

This leaves local orgs such as the City of Moline, the Q.C. Chamber of Commerce, Renew Moline, and others who had put their weight behind this effort feeling a bit bamboozled. All this begs a question oft repeated throughout eons of political history -- What happened to the money?

February 16, 2005

Mike Jacobs... White Knight or Black Sheep?

Let's start with a bang. The appointment of Mike Jacobs to his father's seat in the Illinois senate inspires a lot of passion on all sides. His supporters arguments could be summed up as "Mike's great. He hung out with his Dad a lot, so he knows the ropes. He has a lot of dough to spend. He's got connections through his Dad. So Mike is great."

His opponents, whom the Jacobs camp dismisses as those suffering a case of sour grapes, think along these lines: "Mike sucks. He's hung out with his Dad a lot, so he's nothing but an old style wheeler-dealer. He has a lot of dough to spend, but it won't help. He's got connections through his Dad, which is not good at all, considering the shady characters involved. There were other's who were far more qualified and deserving of this appointment, so Mike sucks.

More fleshed out versions of these views are that the people who know Mike, or who are die-hard Jacobs supporters, like him personally and think he'll be fine if given the chance. They're hard pressed to make an argument in support based on Mike's public accomplishments. There really aren't any.

A fuller version of the anti-Mike partisan's lament is: "Mike Jacobs is an empty suit who got handed a plum, which isn't right. He doesn't deserve it, and it's nepotism at it's worst. He's got no real talent for the job and represents a continuation of the tired old crony system. Mike is just a young face on an outdated power structure. Others have worked and accomplished much more, yet they were bypassed for this appointment.

So........ is Mike Jacobs a train wreck waiting to happen, someone who will get swatted down in a primary, or a younger, more progressive Denny v.2.0 who will serve the district with distinction?

Drag out your crystal balls and tell us how it's going to be.

February 14, 2005

Here we go

Welcome to the premier of The Inside Dope.

In response to the crying need for an on-line forum to discuss political issues in the northwest Illinois area (generally within the 36th, 71st, and 72nd districts) I've created this little presence on the web.

Here I hope to provide news and information of interest regarding this area as well as a place for others to post their sage comments, wise analysis, predictions, rants, tedious and lame statements of support for their guy or gal, and witty sarcastic jibes. (especially the witty sarcastic jibes.)

I hope to make this a place where readers can find information that can't be found elsewhere. As an inside dope myself, I hope to provide you with the same.

I see my role as a sort of circus ringleader. I will provide the posts and the site, you provide the debate. I intend this to be a no-holds-barred forum, but reserve the right to edit any content that I feel goes over the line. (Though that line will be pretty hard to cross.)

Where this will lead is impossible to say, but I'm hopeful that it will be an interesting and though provoking site and that I'll be able to keep things fresh and current.

To that end, I send out an appeal to you, gentle readers. The success or failure of this blog lies largely in your hands, for it is you, the loving public, who I'll depend on to send in your personal inside dope, point out the error of my ways, and otherwise contribute to this endeavor. One of the best aspects of the blog is that it's a two-way street.

So please, by all means, feel free to send me any tidbits, inside dope, breaking news, or even facts. Though I am omniscient, I can't be everywhere at once. I will depend on your contributions to make this site interesting for all.

I may from time to time wish to publish some of my more inspired e-mail. Normally I will not publish any e-mail addresses or other identifying info. However, if the mail is particularly stupid, offensive, or otherwise deserving of wider scorn, I may choose to publish the senders e-mail address to allow my
readers to share their thoughts with the sender.

That said though, I strongly encourage posters to register and adopt a user name so that you will at least be anonymously linked to your posts. (How else can we tell who the brilliant ones are?) Endless posts from "anonymous" tend to get tedious and lame. Registration is quick, painless, completely anonymous, and free. This is crucial, as with user names, we can all come to know and love you for your brilliant posts and a community of inside dopers might develop.

If it turns out that the majority of posts are from "anonymous", I may be forced to make this a "members only" blog, which will mean that only registered users whom I've allowed to join can participate. I'd like to avoid that if possible and continue to make this blog open to all without restriction.

Fasten your seatbelts. And let the games begin!