July 29, 2005

Da I to tha N to the sidizzle Dope

Convert The Inside Dope (or any other page or text) into Snoop Dog-ese here. Funny stuff!

(thanks to an alert Dopester for the link.)

July 28, 2005

President of renegade union explains his decision to split from AFL-CIO

I recently received an e-mail from Purple Ocean.org, an organization affiliated with the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, from their president Andy Stern which offers his explanation for why he recently pulled his union out of the AFL-CIO.

He writes:

"On Monday, SEIU made the difficult decision to leave the AFL-CIO, a federation of several U.S. labor organizations. SEIU, together with seven major unions representing 6 million workers, has formed the Change To Win Coalition, committed to helping millions more workers and their families to join our movement. Here are our reasons.

  • A country that once had 35 percent union membership is now down to 8 percent in the private sector. And the results are that workers have less health care, less time to spend with their families, less secure pensions in their retirement, but more debt and more insecurity about the future.

  • The American Dream has slipped out of reach for too many, and it's not enough just to talk about it. We need to take action. Over the last decade SEIU has helped over 900,000 new workers -- most of them people of color, immigrants, and working women -- to find strength and dignity by joining together.
Change To Win represents a move in the right direction, and we won't slow down for a second."
Not exactly a great explanation, nor specific reasons. I mean, the first one is simply explaining the sorry state of unions, and the second suggests that the AFL-CIO isn't taking enough action, but couldn't be more vague.

He goes on to detail a strike by janitors in Houston and to state that he welcomes people's feedback on his decision to withdraw from the AFL-CIO and to learn more at their blog at http://www.unitetowinblog.com

George W. Bush, the man

I probably shouldn't do this so close to the weekend, as I don't want to spoil it, but here's a question.

If you dislike (or loathe) Bush, just what is it about him, his background, his character, his "intellect" that leads you to feel that way?

Perhaps it will be therapeautic, and it might be enlightening to our conservative friends who frequent the place.

And to those who excuse Bush and are willing to part ways with reality in order to support him whatever he does, no matter what the consequences to the people of this country and the countries standing in the world, please explain what it is about Bush, the man, that so appeals to you.

July 27, 2005

Woo hoo! 20,000 visitors and counting

Thank you! Thank you very much! Please sit down. You're too kind. Thank you.




It's official, The Inside Dope has received it's 20,000th visitor since counting began on February 16th, 2005. (the blog actually launched a couple days earlier)

In the 157 days since The Inside Dope was launched:

  • Nearly 700 posts have been written (including at least 5 good ones),

  • Readers have contributed over 2,600 comments (not including my own),
and the experience has ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous.

I've learned and observed a lot since this started. Primarily, I was caught off-guard by the intense and unrelenting effort to figure out who I am. This still amazes and annoys me. It's only natural that there would be curiosity about my identity, and some was expected, but how fervent, intense, and borderline obsessive some were (and still are) in their efforts to "out" me certainly was not.

The exertions and lengths to which some went to to try to find out my identity was alternatingly surprising, flattering, disturbing, infuriating, and often very amusing. They simply would not rest until they could think they knew who was running The Inside Dope. (Like it matters.)

This clamor has thankfully died down, especially since I was forced to go to a registered users only format. There seemed to be a handful of people who felt it was their right to know the identity of the person who produces this blog. Perhaps they've become satisfied that they know who I am.

If so, I get satisfaction imagining their smug belief that they've figured it out, since I'm certain they're 100% dead wrong and at best, have no way to be certain. (I've thrown out some misleading clues here and there, especially on the tech end. Maybe they took the bait?) And hey, if it keeps them happy, it's all good. I just hope that whomever they think I am doesn't get too much blame (or credit) for what I do.

And it's always possible that those who obsessed on my identity have simply grown up and realized that when all is said and done, it doesn't really matter who I am. (I'd like to think that, but sadly, I doubt it.)

Another issue which proved difficult was deciding whether to allow comments to be wide open to anyone. I've been forced to implement a registered user only policy, and it's definitely improved things. Perhaps limiting comments to those who at least have the ability to figure out how to accomplish the simple registration process set the bar for admission. It's a very low bar, as it should be, but it seems to have weeded out the idiots. I regret that leaving things wide open for anyone to comment didn't work out, as I don't want anyone who would like to offer rational comments to be excluded.

Despite relenting and going back to an "anyone can comment" format a couple times, I've regretfully learned that leaving the gate wide open really messed things up.

Experience has taught me that some people can't resist the urge to reveal their more idiotic side and tend to devolve into infantile behavior when given an opportunity to actually say something, which is a shame and a disappointment.

HOWEVER... as part of the 20K visitor celebration, I will again throw open the gates of The Inside Dope to everyone who stumbles through the neighborhood as sort of an "Open House" for the occasion.

How long will they stay open? Until I decide I need to slam it shut again and try to mop up the muddy boot tracks, replace the ripped drapery, and clear out the half burned furniture from the fireplace. But I hope I can keep it open for a while. We'll see.

As the humble proprietor of this little blog, I'd like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who has frequented the place and participated in our little experiment. Whether you've agreed with me, or I've made you so aggravated that you've made comments about my parentage, mental capacity, physical appearance, sexual preference, or some combination of the above, I'm glad you at least had an opinion and took the trouble to share it here.

There have been a few periods where I felt so discouraged by things around here that I seriously considered just throwing in the towel. It just seemed to be a waste of time, judging by the reaction of some. I have periods where I feel like my work here sucked so bad I wanted to make it disappear. After all, the only way I have of knowing how I'm doing is traffic and comments, and at times, neither have been too encouraging. But I usually bounce back after a short period of introspection accompanied by wild days long drunken hedonistic binges, and come back to pound away at it, with the hopes that I can improve the quality of it somehow, usually without much success. But I'll continue my efforts to come up with ideas for making the blog more interesting to more folks.

And I'd like to take this opportunity to give particular thanks to a generous reader (whom I'd never met) who stepped up early on and has given me much needed support through their encouragement and too generous donations. They know who they are, and I will always be grateful that someone out there appreciated my efforts and showing it by contributing made it all the more gratifying.

Thanks to all 20,000 of you for getting this thing to where it is. I hope you'll stick around for the ride.

State of the Blog Address

THE STATE OF THE BLOG ADDRESS
(in which The Dope addresses things to do with the blog at (great) length, gets a few things off his chest, and shares some facts and observations.)


Ladies and Gentleman, I am pleased to announce that the state of the blog is strong. Considering the humble beginnings of this thing and the relative smallness of the blog, I'm very pleased with the traffic it continues to generate.

Some stats:

Average number of individual readers per day (despite routine steep dips in traffic over weekends): fluctuates between 150 and 200 plus
Most unique visitors in a single day: 304
Most page views in a day (includes visitors who view the blog more than once):1,081
Most page views in a month: over 8,000
Highest week: 1,791
Highest month: 5,378
Average page views per day: 247
Average unique visitors in a week: 992
Average unique visitors in a month: 4,036

Visitors from foreign countries include: Canada:301, UK:168, Singapore:124, France:96, Australia:76, Spain:45, Portugal:43, and Netherlands:42.

People have visited the blog from 70 other countries, including in descending order Malaysia, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, India, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Hong Kong, Sweden, Taiwan, Brazil, South Africa, Norway, Turkey, Argentina, Israel, Islamic Republic of Iran, Hungary, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Finland, Peru, Switzerland, Nigeria, Romania, Ireland, Indonesia, Chile, Venezuela, Bulgaria, Austria, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Czech Republic, Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Saudi Arabia, Lithuania, Morocco, Columbia, Panama, Ukraine, Thailand, Kuwait, Estonia, Yugoslavia, Russian Federation, Costa Rica, Slovenia, Lebanon, Poland, Maldives, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Ghana, Luxembourg, Iceland, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Grenada, Sri Lanka, Benin, Qatar, Croatia, Vietnam, Trinidad & Tobago, Oman, Senegal, and Greece.

And a woman in Russia even posted on her blog with a link to The Inside Dope. (I can't translate what she wrote, probably something about moronic Americans.)

So someone may be sitting in, say, Peru, Iran, Iceland, or the Maldive islands marveling at how wise your comment is. (or not.) I know that each time I sit down to write a post, I'm mindful of how it will play in Sri Lanka or Romania. (maybe not.)

In the future, I hope to accomplish a few things which I had envisioned for the blog but which have not come to pass.

One thing I'd hoped for which has been a dismal failure is that local politicians, campaigns, Democratic organizations and other groups might utilize the blog for announcements and communications. Much to my surprise, not one politician, not one group, not one of the various organizations within the Democratic party, not one official of city, county, township, or state government has ever contacted me or shown any interest in having their message, views, or announcements placed here. And only one campaign has sent me any information - a candidate for the 1st district seat in Iowa.

What is it about politicians and campaigns on the Illinois side that makes them ignorant of the value of using a blog to get their message out? This is very frustrating to me and I can't figure out why not one has sought to take advantage of the audience this blog enjoys.

On the Iowa side, the "Daily Davenport Politics" blog enjoys comments and interviews with local politicians ranging from alderman to state reps. They routinely comment on posts using their actual names, and submit to interviews for posting on the blog. And it should be noted that the three people who produce the blog are all anonymous. (Yet to my knowledge, they've not gotten beaten up about that fact as I have.)

It's baffling as to why Illinois pols and their staffs appear to be ignorant of the value of this forum and opportunity to reach a focused audience of party activists and interested citizens with their message.

Not only that, but the blog format is ideal for putting out views or ideas and gaining feedback from readers. Maybe that's what they fear? If that's the case, it remains possible to post announcements and other information with or without readers being able to comment. It's a simple process to disallow comments on any particular post.

Of course, as loyal readers realize, certain politicians routinely seek to get their views and PR across here in comments, but only though the use of anonymity. That's fine, and there's a certainly a place for that, particularly if the comment is such that they wouldn't want it officially associated with a candidate or elected official. But why they don't also use the blog to express views and positions and announce events and accomplishments under their real name or on behalf of the politician they work for is beyond me.

Perhaps they'll wake up, and I hope to encourage them to do so in the future. Otherwise, it will be a further indication of just how petty, short-sighted, and backwards political activity is on this side of the river. I can imagine that rather than have their events publicized here or their message or views publicized here, perhaps they would rather do so on their own site. To that I'd observe that no local pols has a site which is anything but a static, nothing, page. And secondly, when you want to get something out, you attempt to broaden your audience, not limit it.

Or perhaps they're afraid to even acknowledge this blog. That's a sorry excuse as well. Do they think the blog is beneath them? HA! The fact remains that this blog is read daily by hundreds of people, the majority of them activists or opinion leaders. If they want to ignore the opportunity to reach them, then that's unfortunate and a bit stupid, in my oh-so-humble opinion. Sorry if my frustration shows, but why no politicians or campaigns have openly taken advantage of this great opportunity just baffles me. I hope they do so in the future.

The truth of the matter is that this is a forum which enjoys a high number of readers who are interested in politics, participate in politics, are in positions of influence, or just interested members of the general public. I'm offering the use of it to benefit candidates, elected officials, Democratic or other progressive organizations. For free.
It's up to them whether they're savvy enough to use it. So far, it's apparent they're not.

I intend to continue the use of polls, despite the unfortunate realization that they can be fairly easily skewed by the online equivalent of ballot box stuffing,(Dems just can't resist, evidently.) and have some fun with them as well.

Despite repeatedly encouraging people (almost to the point of begging) to contact me via email, it's still not as frequent as I'd like. This too is a disappointment which I hope will change in the future.

I had envisioned that email would be the way people could contact me off the blog with information on what's going on behind the scenes, to give a heads up on an upcoming development, report on what campaigns, candidates, or elected officials are up to, to bring something to my attention, whether it be something they'd seen online or in the press, or just to share their opinion of the blog or a particular post or offer their criticism or praise.

This has happened, but too infrequently. In the first couple months of the blog's existence, I chalked it up to the fact that I was a complete unknown and people were wary of sharing information. However, now that the blog has been up for five months and counting, I would hope that people could see that I don't play favorites among local Dem politicians or candidates and that I am a person of their word and worthy of trust.

As I've say, I seek to encourage people to feel comfortable and secure in contacting me with potentially sensitive things, and that will not happen without confidence in my keeping things confidential. It would be against my own interests to divulge the source of anything I receive (and in the case of anonymous email, even I won't know.) and will never do so.

Those who have contacted me by email, either anonymously or revealing their names, and there have been many, can attest that I have not (and will not) reveal either their identity or the fact that they contacted me without their express permission.

This not only applies to not revealing it on the blog, but applies across the board. Since I expect to retain my anonymity myself, I certainly would not share with anyone else the identity of those who have contacted me here.

Once again, I encourage anyone to feel absolutely comfortable in sending me anything you wish to bring to my attention or share by contacting me via e-mail. I can't guarantee that what you send will make it into the blog, as I will be the final judge of it's veracity and/or appropriateness, but please feel free to contact me with whatever you wish to pass along.

I've learned and observed many amazing things since starting the blog, enough to write a book. (Hey, maybe I should write a column on it?) A lot of it has been very discouraging, or at the least has increased my already high level of cynicism. But it's encouraging to find that there are others out there who care about things, and more than a few who have great ideas and insights on various issues and are able to express them.

It's been a great ride so far, and I thank all who have been along for at least part of it.

20/20 2004 Hindsight

Despite the fact that it's reliving the past and most people have "moved on", so to speak, I'm interested in what you feel to be the mistakes of the 2004 Kerry campaign.

What do you think the campaign should have done differently?

What were the primary factors in Kerry's loss?

From the standpoint of the race being Kerry's to lose, just how did he let it slip away?

And as a bonus question, who, if anyone, do you think would have won if they had been the nominee rather than Kerry?

Bottom line: Why did Kerry lose?

Explain your reasoning.

July 25, 2005

Incinerate your wife, go to jail

Kristopher Lee "Bo" Jones is guilty of heinous battery and attempted first degree murder in a June 4, 2004 fire that disfigured his wife, Judge James Conway ruled in Mercer County Circuit Court this afternoon

Mr. Jones showed no emotion as Judge Conway delivered the verdict, which comes 10 days after the conclusion of a bench trial.

Sept.7 was set as the date for a hearing on post-trial motions. Sentencing will follow. Mr. Jones faces up to 60 years in prison on each count.

The charges of which Mr. Jones, 34, of 309 2nd Ave., Sherrard, was found guilty sprang from an incident in which he doused his wife, Tanya, with gasoline and then set it ablaze in a remote area of Mercer County. She was treated at a Quad-Cities hospital and later at University Hospitals in Iowa City, where she was treated for burns over 60 percent of her body.

The verdict came despite Mrs. Jones testimony that the fire was set accidentally, a contradiction to what she had earlier told investigators.
And as I reported back when this case first appeared, here's the real kicker.

Mrs. Jones declined comment after the verdict was delivered today.

She said during the trial that she wanted her husband found not guilty and that, "I'd like to have him home with me every day for the rest of my life."

Mr. Jones testified during the trial that he's built a "romantic" campfire the afternoon of the incident and thought that some quiet time would help the two rekindle their troubled relationship.

But the two argued and he "reflexively" splashed gasoline on her, he said. She was smoking and the fire started accidentally, he said.

The use of the word "REKINDLE" is pretty damn funny, for starters, and possibly the writer's intentional attempt at ironic humor. Apparently the flames of love still burn brightly for Mrs. Jones, though it's incredibly pathetic to see a woman so dependent and brainwashed. I'm sure Mr. Jones has been VERY nice to her since he almost roasted her to death. But please.

Then Mr. Jones maintains this was all a "romantic campfire" gone awry, and that he "reflexively" soaked her in gasoline. Hmmmm. A reflex is something you do as a natural reaction to something, such as pulling your hand away from a source of pain. But this guy says that apparently when he argues with someone, the first thing that comes to mind ,without even thinking, is to douse them with gasoline. Wonder why the jury didn't buy it? Isn't that a normal reflex?

I'm only surprised that he didn't explain that prior to the incident, he'd talked to a buddy who, in addition to suggesting the "romantic campfire" to patch things up, said it might be a good idea bring some champagne along and then toast his wife, and it was all just a big misunderstanding.

Violence in the QCs: Teen murder again

Davenport police were trying to determine late Sunday how the body of a 19-year-old Davenport man ended up in the trunk of a car.

The body was discovered around 2 p.m. in a car parked near Central Park Avenue and Brady Street.

Officers said they were investigating the case as a homicide; the man had wounds on his upper torso. They also believed he was not killed where the vehicle was found.

Police said late Sunday that they know the victim's identity but were not yet releasing his name. An autopsy will be scheduled to determine the exact cause of death.

> MORE <

July 24, 2005

Major rupture in AFL-CIO may lead to more defections

Four major unions decided Sunday to boycott the AFL-CIO convention, setting the stage for one or more to bolt from the 50-year-old federation in a battle over how to reverse organized labor's decades-long decline, The Associated Press has learned.

The unions, representing about one-third of the AFL-CIO's 13 million members, planned to announce the decision Sunday afternoon, a day before the convention opens, according to three labor officials familiar with the failed negotiations to avoid the walkout.

None of the four dissident unions planned to formally severe ties from the AFL-CIO on Sunday, officials said, but they are now poised to do so at a later date.

The protest is led by Andy Stern, president of the federation's largest union, the 1.8 million-member Service Employees International Union. He is virtually certain to pull his union out of the AFL-CIO in coming days, with hopes of bringing his allies along, officials said.

Joining him in the boycott will be the Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers and UNITE HERE, a group of textile and hotel workers, according to the labor officials.

The four unions already had formed the Change to Win Coalition to pressure AFL-CIO President John Sweeney to undertake major changes to the federation.

Two other unions that are part of the dissident coalition had not planned to leave the Chicago convention: the Laborers International Union of North America and the United Farm Workers.

The United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, a member of the coalition, left the AFL-CIO in 2002.
Only time will tell if this is good news for the future of labor in America, but at first glance, it doesn't look good. When labor is under perhaps the most intense effort ever mounted to literally make them irrelevant, I fail to see how refusing to stay united is a step in the right direction. One would think that standing together against this onslaught would be the only rational course.

**Note: This morning C-Span's "Washington Journal" is asking callers "Do Unions Matter?" This is pretty stark evidence that things have gotten pretty bad. They're not asking whether Unions are strong, they're not asking if Unions are good or bad, they're asking whether they even matter, in other words, whether they even have a reason to exist. For that question to be asked is not a good sign. And many callers are arguing that they don't matter at all.

Completely secure

As you may have noticed, there's a new poll up. In contemplating your response, bear in mind that voting in the poll DOES NOT mean you're making a donation, you're just casting an anonymous vote. Nor does it obligate you to donate a certain amount. (though that would be nice.) To donate, click on the tip jar and go from there.

The donation process is 100% anonymous. The only thing reported to me is the donor's e-mail address (I think) and I'm not even certain about that. But I am certain that no names are revealed. If you're not already registered with PayPal, the sign up is very easy and quck, and it will enable you to send or receieve money by credit card or bank transfer to or from anyone over the net. (Great for auctions, online purchases, etc.)


And again, there are no set amounts one must donate, you can donate a dollar or a thousand, it's up to you. Small donations are perfectly fine, but of course, if money is really tight for you, and I realize it is for many people, put the money towards something more important. But the response (or lack thereof) will likely affect the energy I continue to devote to this effort.

I wish I could give you little shaved ham sandwiches and a cash bar, or perhaps some "heavy" hor d'ourvres. I can't get you into a "private reception" in exchange for a donation of a few hundred, or get your alley paved, quietly get your company off the hook for polution violations, fix it so you can develop a sprawling condo complex with government money and avoid taxes for decades, or get your kid in to a service academy or give 'em free tuition, etc. I can't.

I know a lot of readers get hit up for donations every time they turn around from politicians of all stripes. But this is a little different. There's not a $50 minimum here. There's no "patron" level of donation (though if you give $50 or more, you'd be A-OK in my book), there's no "levels" at all. Give a buck, or give a thousand. It's up to you. But please consider giving whatever you feel appropriate if you've enjoyed reading the blog and would like it to be here in the long run.

It's Lots of Words Sunday!

Since it's Sunday and it's supposed to be hotter than an exploded oil pipeline in Iraq and most people will likely be staying indoors, I thought I'd do something despite advise to the contrary and give you a few long posts to enjoy.

I've been repeatedly told by a friend of The Inside Dope the conventional wisdom that I should keep my posts very short, as people don't have much in the way of attention spans, which is undoubtedly true, and with the implication that no one wants to hear what I think, which is likely true as well. (Damn it.)

But I like to imagine that some of you readers are actually literate enough to handle reading a few hundred words, especially if they're from good writers and on interesting topics.

So turn off your TV, put out the dog, gather the family around the monitor and enjoy a few posts from your old Uncle Dope with hundreds of words strung all together at once.

I don't want to panic some of you out there, but there's no pictures either. Just keep reading at your own pace and before you know it, you'll be at the end and wishing there was more to read.

I'm even considering a pop quiz tomorrow.

So stay as cool as an Eskimo's tool and enjoy "Lots of Words Sunday"!

Rove's America

I hope you enjoy this piece because I coughed up $3.95 to get it from the NYT archives just for you, the loyal reader.

Paul Krugman in the NY Times 7-15-05:

John Gibson of Fox News says that Karl Rove should be given a medal. I agree: Mr. Rove should receive a medal from the American Political Science Association for his pioneering discoveries about modern American politics. The medal can, if necessary, be delivered to his prison cell.
What Mr. Rove understood, long before the rest of us, is that we're not living in the America of the past, where even partisans sometimes changed their views when faced with the facts. Instead, we're living in a country in which there is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth. In particular, there are now few, if any, limits to what conservative politicians can get away with: the faithful will follow the twists and turns of the party line with a loyalty that would have pleased the Comintern.


I first realized that we were living in Karl Rove's America during the 2000 presidential campaign, when George W. Bush began saying things about Social Security privatization and tax cuts that were simply false. At first, I thought the Bush campaign was making a big mistake -- that these blatant falsehoods would be condemned by prominent Republican politicians and Republican economists, especially those who had spent years building reputations as advocates of fiscal responsibility. In fact, with hardly any exceptions they lined up to praise Mr. Bush's proposals.

But the real demonstration that Mr. Rove understands American politics better than any pundit came after 9/11.

Every time I read a lament for the post-9/11 era of national unity, I wonder what people are talking about. On the issues I was watching, the Republicans' exploitation of the atrocity began while ground zero was still smoldering.

Mr. Rove has been much criticized for saying that liberals responded to the attack by wanting to offer the terrorists therapy -- but what he said about conservatives, that they ''saw the savagery of 9/11 and the attacks and prepared for war,'' is equally false. What many of them actually saw was a domestic political opportunity -- and none more so than Mr. Rove.

A less insightful political strategist might have hesitated right after 9/11 before using it to cast the Democrats as weak on national security. After all, there were no facts to support that accusation.

But Mr. Rove understood that the facts were irrelevant. For one thing, he knew he could count on the administration's supporters to obediently accept a changing story line. Read the before-and-after columns by pro-administration pundits about Iraq: before the war they castigated the C.I.A. for understating the threat posed by Saddam's W.M.D.; after the war they castigated the C.I.A. for exaggerating the very same threat.

Mr. Rove also understands, better than anyone else in American politics, the power of smear tactics. Attacks on someone who contradicts the official line don't have to be true, or even plausible, to undermine that person's effectiveness. All they have to do is get a lot of media play, and they'll create the sense that there must be something wrong with the guy.

And now we know just how far he was willing to go with these smear tactics: as part of the effort to discredit Joseph Wilson IV, Mr. Rove leaked the fact that Mr. Wilson's wife worked for the C.I.A. I don't know whether Mr. Rove can be convicted of a crime, but there's no question that he damaged national security for partisan advantage. If a Democrat had done that, Republicans would call it treason.

But what we're getting, instead, is yet another impressive demonstration that these days, truth is political. One after another, prominent Republicans and conservative pundits have declared their allegiance to the party line. They haven't just gone along with the diversionary tactics, like the irrelevant questions about whether Mr. Rove used Valerie Wilson's name in identifying her (Robert Novak later identified her by her maiden name, Valerie Plame), or the false, easily refuted claim that Mr. Wilson lied about who sent him to Niger. They're now a chorus, praising Mr. Rove as a patriotic whistle-blower.

Ultimately, this isn't just about Mr. Rove. It's also about Mr. Bush, who has always known that his trusted political adviser -- a disciple of the late Lee Atwater, whose smear tactics helped President Bush's father win the 1988 election -- is a thug, and obviously made no attempt to find out if he was the leaker.

Most of all, it's about what has happened to America. How did our political system get to this point?

Drip, drip, drip

A post by Atrios directed me to a Frank Rich piece in the NY Times which touches on an interesting angle to Rovegate; the involvement of Alberto Gonzales, Bush's right hand former personal lawyer and current Attorney General. Gonzalez was the odds on favorite to be picked as Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court, but suddenly disappeared from consideration. Why?
It's a very illuminating and informative piece well worth reading.
PRESIDENT BUSH'S new Supreme Court nominee was a historic first after all: the first to be announced on TV dead center in prime time, smack in the cross hairs of "I Want to Be a Hilton." It was also one of the hastiest court announcements in memory, abruptly sprung a week ahead of the White House's original timetable. The agenda of this rushed showmanship - to change the subject in Washington - could not have been more naked. But the president would have had to nominate Bill Clinton to change this subject.

When a conspiracy is unraveling, and it's every liar and his lawyer for themselves, the story takes on a momentum of its own. When the conspiracy is, at its heart, about the White House's twisting of the intelligence used to sell the American people a war - and its desperate efforts to cover up that flimflam once the W.M.D. cupboard proved bare and the war went south - the story will not end until the war really is in its "last throes."

Only 36 hours after the John Roberts unveiling, The Washington Post nudged him aside to second position on its front page. Leading the paper instead was a scoop concerning a State Department memo circulated the week before the outing of Joseph Wilson's wife, the C.I.A. officer Valerie Plame, in literally the loftiest reaches of the Bush administration - on Air Force One. The memo, The Post reported, marked the paragraph containing information about Ms. Plame with an S for secret. So much for the cover story that no one knew that her identity was covert.

But the scandal has metastasized so much at this point that the forgotten man Mr. Bush did not nominate to the Supreme Court is as much a window into the White House's panic and stonewalling as its haste to put forward the man he did. When the president decided not to replace Sandra Day O'Connor with a woman, why did he pick a white guy and not nominate the first Hispanic justice, his friend Alberto Gonzales? Mr. Bush was surely not scared off by Gonzales critics on the right (who find him soft on abortion) or left (who find him soft on the Geneva Conventions). It's Mr. Gonzales's proximity to this scandal that inspires real fear.

As White House counsel, he was the one first notified that the Justice Department, at the request of the C.I.A., had opened an investigation into the outing of Joseph Wilson's wife. That notification came at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2003, but it took Mr. Gonzales 12 more hours to inform the White House staff that it must "preserve all materials" relevant to the investigation. This 12-hour delay, he has said, was sanctioned by the Justice Department, but since the department was then run by John Ashcroft, a Bush loyalist who refused to recuse himself from the Plame case, inquiring Senate Democrats would examine this 12-hour delay as closely as an 18½-minute tape gap. "Every good prosecutor knows that any delay could give a culprit time to destroy the evidence," said Senator Charles Schumer, correctly, back when the missing 12 hours was first revealed almost two years ago. A new Gonzales confirmation process now would have quickly devolved into a neo-Watergate hearing. Mr. Gonzales was in the thick of the Plame investigation, all told, for 16 months.

Thus is Mr. Gonzales's Supreme Court aspiration the first White House casualty of this affair. It won't be the last. When you look at the early timeline of this case, rather than the latest investigatory scraps, two damning story lines emerge and both have legs.
Read the entire piece here.

July 23, 2005

Seattle

There's a place in Seattle named Cascadia where they serve this.



It's called the Alpine Martini and is served with a dollop of Douglas Fir sorbet and a sprig of pine.
Sounds delicious.


I'd imagine that after downing enough of these, you might get the urge to wrap yourself in tiny lights and hang ornaments all over yourself, then stand around waiting for people to put presents at your feet. Then after a while, you might find yourself laying out by the curb wearing nothing but tinsel.

Hey, don't laugh, it's happened to me a couple of times. At least the tinsel part.

Scene about town

Captured in our great Quad Cities...



"This working out thing ... isn't working out!"

This guy had to be around 350 lbs.
You gotta love self-depreciating humor.

The Dope sez...

...Rep. Mike Boland will not seek another office, but will run for another term as 71st District state representitive. Write it down and see if I'm right.

Jacobs to help set up Adrianne Leigh Reynolds Foundation

Sen. Mike Jacobs met with the family of murder victim Adrianne Reynolds and emerged to announce the formation of a foundation designed to... well, here's the story from WQAD.
A two-hour meeting between the family of slain teenager Adrianne Reynolds and State Senator Mike Jacobs resulted in plans for the Adrianne Leigh Reynolds Foundation to try and target and curb teenaged violence and threats.

The 16-year-old from East Moline was murdered and dismembered last January. Two of her schoolmates, Cory Gregory and Sarah Kolb are charged with the crime and are awaiting trial.

Adrianne's father, step-mother and step-uncle asked for Thursday's meeting with Jacobs. After telling thier story, the lawmaker and Adrianne's family announced the proposed foundation, which is obviously still in the planning stages.

Her family says they learned after Adrianne's murder that Kolb had allegedly threatened Adrianne with a knife before, and had told other kids in thier alternative school that she was "going to kill Adrianne".

Adrianne's uncle Mike McCullom today says, "We need to create awarness, that when you hear somebody use the word kill, it should be taken as seriously as a threat against the President of the United States."

Tony Reynolds, Adrianne's father, said fellow students knew about the threats, but says had and his wife were in the dark. "[Kolb] basically blasted it over the loud speakers that she was going to kill Adrianne, but nobody did nothing."

The ALR foundation would be funded privately through donations. Jacobs says he will help and take an active role in its formation. "I would be remiss if I didn't do everything I can to help this family, they have touched my heart, Adrianne's life will mean nothing if we don't do something positive with this tragedy."

The foundation likely won't be launched until after the murder trials are over. Down the road, they may lobby to toughen up laws against threats.

Tony Reynolds says "I want to believe Adrianne's looking down on us knowing we're remembering her."
Another foundation/committee/panel in response to a difficult problem. Let's hope this one accomplishes it's goals. It's an awfully tough goal to accomplish.

Dangerous heat

The Weather Service is predicting temps as high as 105 degrees Sunday, with high humidity creating a heat index as high as 117.

It might not be a bad idea to think of folks you may know or those in your neighborhood who are elderly and don't have access to air conditioning. If you know of any, take a couple minutes and check on them. If you have some fans, lend them, or if needed, offer to let them share your air conditioning.

In years past I've donated window fans at WQAD which collected them for distribution to those in need. If anyone knows of any such efforts, please let me know.

Heat like this can be deadly to the elderly and anyone at risk, as evidenced by the heat wave a few years ago which killed hundreds in Chicago alone as well as the brutal heat wave in France in late 2003 which took the lives of an estimated 15,000 people. Looking out for a neighbor could be a life saver.

King of the World


From the consistently hilarious Betty Bowers, The World's Best Christian....

Be sure to check out the merchandise section on Betty's site. There you can find such gems as this available on mugs, posters, shirts, etc.

This seems especially apropos to the "Problems, what problems?" posts by Senor Badbreath and Dave.


> MORE <

Blago's stem cell research funding poll results

Results were interesting on the question, "Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich recently ordered that $10 million be spent on stem cell research. What are your thoughts on this?".

Initial voting showed that those in favor of this funding were in the majority. But later in the polling, those opposed for one reason or another began to claw back and were in the majority for a time.

Final results are:

Of 89 votes votes cast:

1. (1) Good use of the money. Stem cell research is promising in relieving misery and disease for many people in the state. It was foreward thinking and a responsible move.
47 votes or 52.8%

2. 2, 3, and 4
31 votes or 34.8%

3. (4) Governors shouldn't make decisions to spend money on such things without involving the legislature.
6 votes or 6.7%

4. (3) Stem cell research is unethical, it should never be funded by government.
2 votes or 2.2%

5. 2 & 4
2 votes or 2.2%

6. 3 & 4
1 vote or 1.1%

7. (2) It's irresponsible to be spending this much money on research when the state is in such bad financial shape.
0 votes or 0.0%

8. 2 & 3
0 votes or 0.0%

Breaking it down between those who approve of the funding measure and those who oppose it for whatever reason or combination of reasons, we find that there are 47 votes in favor, and 42 votes opposed. Very close.

July 21, 2005

Rove

Tom Tomorrow...



Click Here

Note: If you're using IE 6.0 or a browser which automatically resizes graphics, be sure to click somewhere outside the picture and then move your cursor over the picture. A little icon will appear which will allow you to expand the picture to full size.

Bush's handlers get wise, neutralize Dems on Supreme nominee

It appears from what can be known at the moment that Bush's nominee to fill the slot of Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court will likely have no problem being confirmed.

Rather than continue to act in the prediciably arrogant, in your face manner in which he has in previous nominations for various positions, Bush (Rove) instead threw a curve ball.

Bush had previously insisted on sending up confrontational nominations of blatantly extreme right wing ideologues. Even when they'd been blocked, he continued to send them back time and time again rather that proposing a conservative, but less extreme nominee.

But now he's slipped in a nominee for the big court that, while reliably conservative, appears to have no smoking gun paper trail to hang him with. Robert's resume is rock solid, and he comes across as extremely smooth and well-spoken.

The bottom line is that this was a deft stroke by Rove in that it takes the wind out of the Democratic sails. The Dems and organizations such as Move On have been gearing up for battle for months, and were totally prepared to eviscerate anyone with any "incorrect" record on abortion rights, guns, etc.

Bush wins by actually doing something rational for a change.

While Roberts is firmly in the corporate toady camp and can be expected to reliably vote against the rights of consumers and the environment in favor of corporations, as well as toeing the conservative line on social issues, the fact remains that he doesn't offer any obvious hooks which the left can hang him by.

Already my inbox contains email from MoveOn which urges me to contact my legislators to block this dangerous conservative nominee, as well as one from Ken Mehlman urging me to do the same thing (plus call in to my local talk radio show and write letters to the editor.) to ensure this sterling example of a man gets a "fair" hearing and is confirmed.

A massive ad buy by some stealth group supporting Roberts is running about every 5 minutes on CNN, making Roberts out to be saintly while urging that he be given a "fair" hearing.

My prediction? Chuck Schumer, Barbara Boxer, Dick Durbin, and others make some token noises and appear tough while questioning Roberts, and we'll have to endure the gag-worthy spew from wind-bag John Warner, but there will be no "extrordiary circumstances" found to justify a fillibuster. Roberts goes through the motions and is confirmed.

Once on the bench, Roberts toes the conservative line and votes reliably with the Scalia/Thomas/Rehnquist block of the court. And he's so young that he'll be a reliable conservative vote for decades to come.

Cool is the rule

I've heard the weather back home is typically beastly, as it usually gets this time of year. Stiffling heat and humidity, enough to make you melt or collapse or at the very least, feel like biting the head off the first person to look at you funny.

My antidote is to stay in this hotel. It's very nice. And the locals are very warm, despite the surroundings.

And if you're in Stockholm to escape the midwest sweatbath, you can always knock back some fine vodka at the Absolut Ice Bar, in which everything is made of ice, including the glasses.

July 19, 2005

Where are they indeed

Roger Ailes

A tutorial for "Tort reform" backers

Anyone who wishes to have an informed opinion on the so-called "tort reform" effort ought to read these three pieces.

And in as much as HeadUsher represents the views of "Young"™, Mike Jacobs, perhaps they should read the following pieces before spouting the anecdotes and falsehoods taught to them by the insurance company lobbyists.

Read them all (yes, all the way to the end even) for a dose of reality on this issue.

The idea that "junk lawsuits" are behind the huge rise in malpractice insurance premiums, thus driving away doctors, is bogus, bogus, and even more bogus.

What a rush

I've always wanted to jump the Grand Canyon in a car. I finally got my chance yesterday. Let me tell ya, there's nothing like it. Especially if you live.


Defining ethical standards downward

President Bush qualified his pledge to dismiss any White House official found to have leaked the name of a CIA operative, saying Monday that "if someone committed a crime" he would be fired.

In September 2003, the White House had said anyone who leaked classified information in the case would be dismissed. Bush reiterated that promise last June, saying he would fire anyone found to have disclosed the CIA officer's name.

Democrats said Bush in his new comments had "lowered the ethics bar" for his administration.

Bush would not say whether he was displeased that Rove, the deputy chief of staff, told a reporter that the wife of administration critic Joseph Wilson worked for the CIA on weapons of mass destruction issues. A 2003 phone call with Rove was the first time that Matthew Cooper of Time magazine had heard that Wilson's wife worked at the agency, according to a first-person account by Cooper in the magazine.

Rove's involvement in the leak case has worried Republicans, already anxious about Bush's decline in opinion polls. Only a fourth of Americans believe the White House is fully cooperating with the investigation, according to an ABC News poll released Monday. That number has dropped from half in September 2003 when the probe began.

Democrats contended that Bush's comments indicated he was lowering the administration's ethical standards.

The White House denies the president has changed the standard for staying in his administration.

"It appears that an administration that came to office promising 'honesty and integrity' and to avoid 'legalisms' is now defining ethical standards downward," said Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.

"In this White House, apparently no aide will be fired or forced to resign unless and until the jail cell door is locked behind him."

In July 2003, syndicated columnist Robert Novak, citing unnamed administration officials, wrote that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA.

A 1982 law prohibits the deliberate exposure of the identity of an undercover CIA official. Wilson has accused the White House of trying to orchestrate a dirty-tricks campaign to discredit him after he challenged the administration's assertion that Saddam Hussein was seeking material from Niger to make nuclear weapons and said the White House had manipulated pre-war intelligence to justify an Iraq invasion.

While Rove has not disputed that he told Cooper that Wilson's wife worked for the agency, he has insisted through his lawyer that he did not mention her by name.

Said Bush on Monday, "I would like this to end as quickly as possible so we know the facts, and if someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration."

The phrasing was unusual for the president, who campaigned for office in 2000 on a pledge "to restore honor and dignity" to a White House he implied had been sullied by scandals of the Clinton administration.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan would not say whether Bush meant an indictment or a conviction when he referred to a crime, or whether he considered leaking itself to be a crime. Nor would McClellan acknowledge that the president created a standard different from previous statements out of the White House.

"I think that the president was stating what is obvious when it comes to people who work in the administration: that if someone commits a crime, they're not going to be working any longer in this administration," McClellan said.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said Bush's standard for firing Rove was not consistent with a 2-year-old executive order governing the protection of national secrets. Under the order, Bush is required to impose administrative sanctions such as dismissal if anyone acted negligently in confirming information about Plame's identity.

Howard Dean, head of the Democratic Party, said Bush "lowered the ethics bar" and should go back to his earlier pledge.

Slippery bastards.

> MORE <

July 18, 2005

From the road

Here's a shot from the western leg of my current travels. (and no, I'm not the guy in front.) Shortly after this shot was taken, I accidentally ignited my jet pack and singed off parts of my companion's anatomy. Someday we'll all laugh about it.



The outfits really added to the feeling that we were traveling in the not too distant future. The vehicle was pretty cool as well, I especially appreciated the radar dish, but it didn't corner worth a damn so I traded it in for an Acura NSX. Then this had to happen.

I'm fine, but it put me a few hours behind schedule and now the car really pulls to the left.

Quotes

Consider the following quotes. They all fit in with the current strain of Bush conservatism and could be easily believed to have been said by just about any prominent conservative. Who said them?

"What we have to fight for is the freedom and independence of the homeland, so that our people may be enabled to fulfill the mission assigned to it by the creator"
"Only force rules. Force is the first law"
"The leader of genius must have the ability to make different opponents appear as if they belonged to one category."
"A single blow must destroy the enemy... without regard of losses... a gigantic all-destroying blow." ["shock and awe"]
"Strength lies not in defense but in attack." [The "Bush Doctrine"]
"We are prepared to agree to any solemn pact of non-aggression, because America does not think of attacking but only acquiring security."
"The great strength of the U.S. is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it."
"The victor will never be asked if he told the truth."
"Public education is the most corroding and disintegrating poison that liberalism has ever invented for its own destruction."
"Humanitarianism is the expression of stupidity and cowardice."
"I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few."
"I believe today that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator."
Parallel to the training of the body a struggle against the poisoning of the soul must begin. Our whole public life today is like a hothouse for sexual ideas and simulations. Just look at the bill of fare served up in our movies, vaudeville and theaters, and you will hardly be able to deny that this is not the right kind of food, particularly for the youth... Theater, art, literature, cinema, press, posters, and window displays must be cleansed of all manifestations of our rotting world and placed in the service of a moral, political, and cultural idea.
Dave, how many of these do you agree with?

The Dope revealed... again

Here's something for all you sleuths out there.
This is me at some world famous landmark or another.

July 17, 2005

Meet the Press

If anyone sees this in time, Meet the Press is being rebroadcast on MSNBC.

I caught it this morning and it's a real doozy. Listen to chinless wonder Ken Mehlman try to dodge and weave and weasel his way through the Rove story while trying to turn the tables around. It just fails miserably and he ends up looking like a moron. John Podesta steals his lunch and hits him in the face with it.

Woodweird and Bernstein are also on discussing confidential sources, Deep Throat, and other stuff.

I tried to link to the transcripts, but evidently MSNBC no longer makes them available on their site. You can however view sections of the show on streaming video here.

Illinois to reinstate scheme to bring in more Medicaid dollars

July 17, 2005 — Illinois hopes to get $600 million a year in federal health care funds under a hospital tax plan signed Sunday by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The three-year program still must be approved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. State officials are optimistic that it will be OK'd since the program is a revised and expanded version of one that has been used before, generating $430 million.

The program works by taxing Illinois hospitals and putting the money into the Medicaid program to qualify for federal matching funds. Then the original tax money and the extra federal money are returned to hospitals.

Most hospitals end up getting back more than they paid in taxes.

Officials expect the plan to bring the state an extra $600 million a year. Hospitals would get $470 million, while state government would get $130 million to spend on nursing homes and other Medicaid costs.

Kenneth Robbins, president of the Illinois Hospital Association, said in a statement that the plan "is a victory for the hospitals, doctors and families of Illinois."

Hmmm. Sounds like a promising scheme, but the fact that the hospitals appear to make a profit on it seems wrong.

Wolcott:

To me, the greatest insult to the British and their losses was delivered today, all the more insulting because it was thoughtless and unintentional.

I was watching the news of the two minutes of silence held for the victims of the London bombings, a silent vigil held not just in London but across Europe.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth stood in silence at Buckingham Palace. In London's Trafalgar Square, a giant banner declared 'One City, One World.'

Taxis and buses pulled over, workers left their offices to stand in the street and financial markets paused to remember the dead.

In Italy, government offices, railway stations and airports paused while television stations cut into normal broadcasting to honour the London dead.

In Paris, President Jacques Chirac's annual Bastille day television address was put back so the French could mark the moment. Chirac stood silent on the steps of the Elysee Palace.

Has the United States or even simply Washington, DC held a silent moment for the victims of the London bombings? Has any national gesture of solidarity been proposed?

If so, I haven't seen or heard of it. We're just going about our business while insisting that the world perpetually acknowledge our scars and trauma from September 11th as our justification to wage whatever aggressive action we deem necessary to ensure it never happens again.

For months, we've been hearing and reading that Brits no longer discriminate between average Americans and the policies of our government--that the reelection of Bush has made them hold us in something of the same contempt they hold him. Well, they have good reason, and we keep furnishing them with better reasons all the time.

July 16, 2005

Soldier stages wounding to avoid return to Iraq

A young Marine who feared returning to Iraq persuaded his cousin to shoot him in the leg, then told police he was hit by random gang gunfire, authorities said.

The shooting early Saturday on Chicago's Northwest Side was meant to keep 19-year-old Moises Hernandez from going back to Iraq, prosecutors said.

Now Hernandez faces a felony charge of filing a false police report. He is back with his unit at Camp Pendleton in California where the Marines are investigating.

A Marines spokesman said Hernandez' unit returned June 5 from a six-month deployment that included one month in Iraq.
This shows just how we've got things under control. The insurgents are in their "last throes" and freedom is on the march.

> MORE <

Show them the money

Lane needs some cash.
Freshman Rep. Melissa Bean of Illinois, a Democrat from a Republican-leaning district, already has raised nearly $1 million in contributions for a 2006 re-election campaign in which her seat so far is the No. 1 target of the national GOP apparatus.

The Barrington businesswoman's campaign fund had about $735,000 cash on hand after raising about $460,000 during the quarter that ended June 30, according to Bean spokesman Brian Herman. Combined with the previous quarter, she raised $965,000.

Carl Forti, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Bean is at the top of the list of what GOP strategists view as the most vulnerable Democratic congressional incumbents nationwide.

Rep. Ray LaHood, a Peoria Republican who has said he expects to announce in August whether he will run for governor, reported about $718,000 on hand last month, after taking in about $496,000 in the last quarter.

Other quarterly reports, filed with the Federal Election Commission, showed Chicago Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr. with $1.05 million and Belleville Democrat Jerry Costello with $1.17 million in campaign cash on hand as of June 30. Each raised nearly $400,000 during the year's second quarter.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert had about $496,000 left in his personal campaign fund, after the Yorkville Republican collected about $719,000 in the quarter.

Freshman Sen. Barack Obama, the Chicago Democrat who captured rave reviews last summer after delivering the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, reports his campaign fund has $506,000.

Meantime, Rep. Lane Evans, a Rock Island Democrat, in his third decade of congressional service, had about $80,000 left in his fund. Debts totaled $185,000 -- the amount in civil penalties his campaign recently agreed to pay to settle FEC charges that he set up a second campaign fund and improperly used it to help him win re-election in 2000.

> MORE <

Ahhhhh yes. West and we-wacksation!

The Dope is on the loose, nationwide, border to border, station to station, city to town to village to crossroads and back again, and may be coming to a city near you. I'm running the traps, checking the pulse of the populace as well as my own if things get a bit shaky. Seeing some bright lights and big cities, bright stars and big skies. Communing with the boarding house people, chomping cigars with corpulent fat-cats and show-biz phonys. Trying my hand at carrying on a conversation with schizo shopping cart street people. Accepting adulation under the lights, and then hunkering later in the darkest corner of the bar.

With the dawn, struggling to tear open the titanium foil package of hotel coffee without shredding the coffee packet inside. Stepping out onto the balcony to stretch and inhale the smog as I watch the pale dawn break over soaring urban architechural masterworks or perhaps a sweeping plain. Catching up on the train-wreck in D.C., flipping on the tube just long enough to get the jist of it (not long) and then trying to put it out of my mind by admiring the wonder of nature slumbering under the jumbled covers and trying to recall how they got there.

Gliding across the plush carpet of the hotel lobby, shades in place, casually tossing the valet a large denomination bill as I slide into the gleaming Dopemobile and slide off onto the highways and biways of this really messed up country faster than the recriminations can travel.

I'll return home when it seems like a good place to go. This is my dispatch from the road. I'll be posting as conditions allow. In the meantime, please withhold all love offerings until my return. (If they pile up on my steps, Homeland Security may get involved.)

In the meantime..... you know what to do. Free thread.... use it.

And remember. Always follow the credo of electrifying artist and last of the full grown men,Webb Wilder:
"Work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard, grow big, wear glasses if you need 'em." (and of course, stay out of trees.)

Herr Rove

By the way, Karl Rove sucks, has sucked, and always and eternally will suck, and deserves any and all bad things that may happen to him. He will, by the way, claim that he didn't "knowingly" reveal Plame's identity as a CIA operative.

Rep. Peter King R-NY, who knows better, was on some dopey morning show today sputtering that they'd caught Joe Wilson lying about sending an email or something, therefore, Rove is innocent. And Wilson won't admit that it was his wife who got him the gig to go to Niger and poke around investigating the validity of documents purporting to show the sale of yellow-cake uranium to Sadaam. Sooooooo... King says, it's all perfectly OK. I guess that justifies any sort of scum-bucketry that Rove employed?

But what King scrupulously didn't say, (and the bubble-head interviewing him managed to avoid asking)was that Rove's leak was a blatant misuse of power in order to punish someone who spoke the truth, ruin an inocent person's career, endanger lives, and all because someone had the termerity to make little Georgie look like the blatant liar he is. But I guess it's ok because Wilson has lied a couple times and ... well, his wife supposedly recommended him for the job.

Yeah, I know it makes NO sense whatsoever, but King went on for an entire segment like that. I don't know how much he's paid, but it's not enough.

If you can do anything, call, write, etc. do so. Critical mass on this thing is possible and nothing would be sweeter than to make George try to survive without his brain.

July 12, 2005

Aren't right-wingers charming?

Here's a graphic I came across at this site

It's a site which displays all the warmth and wit of a typical right-wing bullet-head, a "man" who is in reality a quaking, shivering bundle of fear, afraid of so many boogy-men (Liberals, gays, minorities, foreigners, strong women, secret government mind-control, creeping socialism, you name it.) that they've lost the ability to actually think, if they ever possessed it to begin with. They're so unsure of their manhood and feel so impotent that they desperately surround themselves with psychological symbols of manhood and power in the futile hope that these objects will magically bestow it upon them.

If you're so inclined, you can share your thoughts with this person at Scatman94@yahoo.com or SamInTheBurgh1@aol.com

("Scat" man? Sam might have a pretty strong kink. I don't even want to think what this guy's into.)

July 11, 2005

Karl Rove, Felon

It's now been revealed that Karl Rove, aka Bush's Brain, was the source who blew the cover of a CIA agent, Valerie Plame. This is a federal felony punishable by prison.

The story is long and complicated, but Gene Lyons provides his always sharp perspective and a good general overview of the case here.

And the Al Franken show's site has an excellent account of just how blatantly the White House is lying about it. Spokesliar Scotty McClellan had actually stated flat out that Karl Rove was not the source, and said that suggesting so was "ridiculous."

Check out the incredible weasling when pressed to admit in the face of the relevation that Rove WAS the source, that he flat out lied to America. Even compared to his daily mind-numbing evasion and spin, this one stands out. Read it and try to keep your head from exploding.

Karl Rove may or may not get charged, (likely not), but as Lyons points out, his parsing of words and legal ju-jitsu makes Clinton's definition of "is" pale by comparison.

Poll results show many would prefer Evans step down

In response to the question, "Rep. Lane Evans has indicated he intends to run for a 12th term. What do you think of this decision?"

The results of the entirely unscientific and fairly easily corrupted poll are:

1. Evans should step down gracefully, accepting our sincere gratitude for his long service, and back a new candidate. - 71 votes or 83.5%

2. Right of Evans and good for the party. - 13 votes or 15.3%

3. I don't know if it's best for Evans, but it's good for the party. - 1 vote or 1.2%

4. Not thrilled, but he's the best candidate we could have. - 0 votes or 0.0%

Total votes cast: 85

The poll ran 3 days, July 8th through 10th


While the results only indicate the views of some visitors here, they're fairly strong. It appears that if the truth were known, not many are entirely thrilled at the prospect of Evans hanging on and mounting yet another campaign.

Discuss

Bush Youth heart Hillary

LAS VEGAS -- Young Republicans have one thing to say to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton about a possible 2008 presidential bid: Bring it on.

Members attending the group's biennial convention said it's not too early to talk about how to keep a Republican in the White House, and they think Clinton could help them win again if she were on the Democratic ticket.

"I think it's very likely the senator from New York will run," said Rick Veenstra, 27, chairman of the Illinois Young Republicans. ''She'll bring a lot of people to the polls. The name Clinton before a number of Republicans is akin to waving a red flag."

Convention guests attended several panels and training seminars Thursday, including one on how to mobilize young voters by "keeping it positive, not partisan." They were told the only demographic President Bush lost to Sen. John Kerry in 2004 was the 18-to-29 group.

"This party cannot afford to allow that segment of the population to be Democrat," said Frank Fahrenkopf, former Republican National Committee chairman and Thursday's keynote speaker. "This is where the Young Republicans can be of particular value."

Many here said they would welcome Clinton's entrance because she is a polarizing figure. "It would be absolutely great for us," said Michele Mester, 26, from Cleveland. "She's like a PR nightmare." [For you, perhaps.]

Several of the 600 Young Republicans gathered for the five-day convention mentioned former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain as potential presidential contenders.

Others suggested Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee.
Think Hillary would be the answer to these fun lovin' young Republican's dreams, or their worst nightmare?

July 10, 2005

This blog stinks

Posted on Captiol Fax Blog in response to my comments about the issue of anonymous bloggers...


At 7/07/2005 7:20 AM, Anonymous said...
Anyone who has read the inside dope knows why he want so [sic] remain anonymous. The blog stinks. His opinions make no sense. Other blogs have more relevent [sic] posts than his whiny daily rants.

There you have it.

I'll do my utmost to write things with a less offensive odor, somehow guess at what's relevant to this individual and henceforth cater to his interests at all times. I'll try to have an opinion which makes sense to him, to compete with all blogs on a scale of relevance, and to reduce whining incrementally, with a goal to provide 20% less whining by the end of the next quarter, and proceed with the project until whining is negligible.

From now on, it's only feel good stories about the dog who adopted a baby pig and treats it as if it was the piglet's mother.

Now it's to the fortress of solitude to ponder once again just why I bother doing this.

Aw hell, that probably counts as "whining". Damn it! Did I just whine about whining about someone saying I whine too much? My head hurts. I'm going to bed.

July 8, 2005

Hero

I didn't catch the man's name. I don't think he mentioned it to anyone.

He showed up at the Davenport airport alone. While everyone else was dressed in shorts and tee-shirts, he showed up wearing his best suit, which you suspected he didn't wear very often. He was not a flashy guy. You'd barely know he was there.

He may live nearby or he may have traveled a long way to arrive this clear Friday morning. He was quiet as he waited in line in the shade of the enormous wing of the B-17G Flying Fortress on the ramp in front of the small terminal building among the handful of people waiting to tour the interior of the plane looming above them.

As he neared the entry hatch, the man finally pulled out a small snapshot, tinted brown with age, and showed it to the crew member helping guide people into the belly of the plane.

It showed two rows of young fresh-faced kids, some standing, some kneeling, grouped in front of a B-17. As I saw him point to the picture, I realized that one of the young men in that picture taken 60 years ago, now stood before me.

The crewman manning the plane seemed to straighten and immediately shook the man's hand, and as the news spread among the small group of people, the crewman welcomed the man, refusing to accept his money for the tour, and told him to take all the time he liked going through the plane.

As fathers leaned down to explain to young boys that this man once flew in a plane just like this one, they pressed closer and the man held the snapshot low so they could see it. I suspect he'd just become 10 ft tall in their eyes. I know he did in mine.

The ordinary man, almost invisible a moment before, had suddenly transformed into something even more impressive than the aircraft itself, someone who had actually flown in it and has survived to tell the tale.

The crewman explained that they often get former B-17 crewman coming to view the plane, and warned the man that once he got inside, he just might find old memories flooding back and tears might fall. If that happened, the crewman admonished firmly, "You let 'em come, you just let 'em come."

The man climbed into the plane, spent a moment looking forward into the bombadier's and navigator's stations in the plexiglass nose of the plane. "I used to curl up there and take naps." he said, "Plenty of times", he added with a small chuckle.

Then he climbed the 3 steps up to the flight deck and stood gazing at the cockpit. I had climbed in behind him into the cramped space ahead of and below the flight deck. After a few minutes, I looked up. The man was standing on the flight deck in tears, his hand to his face. Another gentleman he didn't know stood beside him in silence and gently put his hand on the man's shoulder.

I sat silent for several more minutes until eventually, the man turned and moved back through the fusilage to look through the rest of the plane.

I walked a distance behind him, watching him look at the no-doubt familiar sights... the 6" wide strip of metal that they had to cross over the open bomb bay to access the rear of the plane... the ball turret with it's tiny armor plated hatch which the gunner would have to squeeze down into to sit in the turret in a fetal position, his knees drawn up between the guns with the sight between them.... the radio operator's station with it's small desk and electronics... the waistgunner's stations with their swivel mounted machine guns and boxes of ammo.

And then on to the incredibly cramped passage through which as a young man, this man used to crawl, through the mass of wires and hoses, over the ribs of the plane, squeezing around the tail wheel and back into the tiny tail gunner's station, where he'd have to situate himself in a kneeling position, a good 20 ft away from the nearest crewman, hook up his oxygen hose, his intercom, and plug in his electrically heated flight suit. (Temps at altitude could reach -60 F.)

The tailgunner was only added to the plane's design after they realized that it was vulnerable to attacks from the rear. The tail-gunner was critical in defending the ship, and enemy pilots knew it. The tail gunner was often the first thing they tried to take out.

The man then exited into the sunlight and stood gazing at the plane, lost in memories. After a few moments, a man gently broke his revery and asked if he'd mind standing by the tail guns for a photo. That's when I snapped this shot of a humble, solitary hero, come alone to pay his respects to the plane and the men he served with so long ago. For this gentle man, the plane's name, "Sentimental Journey", was more than a famous Les Brown tune of the time.

I didn't catch his name. But to me, his name was not as important as what he was a part of. He represented the thousands like him who served, and the many who didn't come back. I shook his hand, looked him in the eye, and said simply, "Thanks."

For no reason at all

"So I was thinkin', what if.......

This is great. Take a creative idea and make it real.
I love it! It looks like it was inspired by Dr. Seuss illustrations. Either that or a lot of recreational drug use.

July 7, 2005

By Special Request for Dave

Our resident ditto-head, Dave, was very indignant about my posting the death map which shows numbers and distribution of the service men and women who drew the last breaths of their too short lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dave, still persisting in living in the land of make-believe where there was any connection whatsoever between the attacks of 9-11 and Sadaam Hussein or Iraq, said I should post a map of the 9-11 deaths. (Guess it's some sort of death contest? If so, I hope we hear from Dave once the American deaths from Bush's folly equals the 9-11 slaughter, though the toll of death from innocent civilians as well as combatants surpassed 9-11 long, long ago.)

So I set about changing the war death map into a 9-11 map. Here you go Dave. And I'll post the original for contrast. Does this make your point? What was your point?





Interactive map available here.

Healthcare Deadbeats

Tom Oliphant in the Globe.
Senator Edward M. Kennedy came up with an idea the other day that could nudge the debate over the country's worsening health insurance crisis both nationally and in Massachusetts.

Why not have the states publish lists of large employers (50 workers or more) who have full-time people receiving publicly financed healthcare like Medicaid and the program that helps insure children of the less well-off? Fifteen states already do so.
...
The legislation -- Kennedy's co-conspirators are Democrats, Senator John Corzine of New Jersey and Representative Anthony Weiner of New York -- is aimed at monsters like Wal-Mart, infamous for its luscious benefits for company big shots and nonexistent coverage for ordinary employees, whose insurance is then left to taxpayers. The most common estimate is that more than 600,000 Wal-Mart employees, nearly half of its workforce, have to use public safety-net programs.

What Wal-Mart doesn't do, out of profits that total $10 billion or so, costs taxpayers more than $200 million to provide -- including $61 million in Florida and some $3 million in Massachusetts. In 12 states Wal-Mart is the largest employer with workers on Medicaid and other assistance programs. The fact remains, however, that half the uninsured in Massachusetts and in many other states work at outfits with fewer than 25 employees.

Read the rest here then share your thoughts.

The Dispatch/Argus wins, if you want to put it that way.

The poll which asks the question: "Which area publication do you consider the worst overall?" provided a run-away winner.

The Moline Dispatch/Rock Island Argus newspaper garnered a whopping 24 votes to come in a comfortable first place with 82.8% of the 28 total votes.
The free shopper Thrifty Nickel came in second with 3 votes, and the River City Reader got a vote as well.

The Dispatch/Argus was considered worse overall than those two papers as well as The Leader, the free Apartment Guide, the free Real Estate Guide, and the free Camper/RV guide.

Next up, a poll regarding Rep. Lane Evans' recent announcement that he intends to run for yet another term.

The way Toby sees things

Yet another example of right-wing deep thinking from the letters to the editor of the Quad City Times:
Sen. Barrack Obama has expressed a lack of confidence of victory in Iraq on this the eve of the Fourth of July. Too bad we didn't have him around in 1776 to lend such encouragement. No wonder Army recruitment is down or maybe that's the idea here, to damage the effort in order to gain political advantage in 2008. Hopefully, that's too cynical even for the liberals.

Is your child in the military? Don't you feel better now with Sens. Obama and Durbin running up the white flag while the battle continues? Just exactly how do the liberals propose to protect us from terrorists? Talk them to death?

Toby Dickens

Davenport

Yeah Toby, that's what we want to do. After we offer them therapy.

As Toby realizes, any true patriot who, as they tell us, are the only ones who really cares for our heroic troops, knows that the best way to support the troops is to continue to deploy them in an impossible situation with too few numbers and inadequate equipment, so they can continue to be killed and mangled and damaged in a million ways while trying to accomplish the impossible with no plan and no victory possible.

True Patriots like Toby know this. Too bad the liberals can't quite see the logic in it.

Bad Ass Bird

Allow me to divert from politics for a moment and indulge one of my great interests.

This is one beautiful plane.





It's the B-17G "Sentimental Journey" and has been out on display at the Davenport Municipal Airport for the past three days. (Sorry I didn't hear about it sooner or I would have posted something earlier.)

A little data on the plane.
Number built: 12,700
Number in flying condition today: 10
Number of machine guns: 13 .50 caliber guns
Wingspan: 103' 10"
Length: 74' 4"
Height: 19' 1"
Engines: 4 Wright R-1820-97 turbo-supercharged radials, 1,823 cu.in. 1,425 hp per engine, generating 5,700 hp total.

The B-17 was widely appreciated for it's ability to absorb sometimes incredible damage and still bring crews home. For a cool collection of photos and stories of battle damaged B-17s click here.

The Sentimental Journey was restored and is maintained and toured by the Arizona wing of the Commemorative Air Force.

These incredible planes helped win WWII and the bravery of their often 19 or 20 year old crews were unbelievable. I recommend going to the Commemorative Air Force's site and viewing the diagram of where the 10 crewman were stationed in the plane. By clicking on the positions, it takes you to pages which explain the various positions responsibilities and what it was like for them.

This plane is incredibly interesting to view and tour in person, but unfortunately, it's going to fly out tomorrow. I've spoken to the crew and have found out that a pilot is en route for a planned flight for paying passengers ($395 a person...worth every penny, if you can spare that kind of dough.) at around 9:00 a.m. They will then pack up and fly out to their next stop in East Alton, IL soon afterwards. I'm not sure if you'll be able to tour the interior of the plane tomorrow, but would imagine that if they have the time, they'd let you. It's only $5 for the tour and free for kids.

So if you'd like to get a good look at a true piece of aviation and military history, try to get out there. You don't get many chances to witness and HEAR the incredible power of 4 huge radial engines belching huge clouds of smoke and roaring to life, or to watch a piece of history take off and lumber into the sky. Friday morning is a chance.

The sight and sound of this very large bomber taxiing and taking off is thrilling. But one can only imagine what it must have been like when you realize that there often used to be literally hundreds of them taking off one after one for formation bombing raids.

With a little imagination, it's as if you're back in the 1940's witnessing a flight taking off for a raid over Germany. Very cool.

"War on Terror" somehow fails to keep Londoners safe

At least 37 innocent people dead and more than 700 wounded in London.


"There are some who feel like the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring 'em on."

Look for the White House to suggest that this attack is a sign that they're suceeding in the so-called "war on terror."

And I thought the right assured us that since we were kindly providing them with plenty of American targets to kill and maim in Iraq, the terrorists just didn't have a spare minute in their schedule to take care of terror attacks here and elsewhere.

Guess they must have managed to squeeze this one in. As if there's some finite number of "terrorists" and the number never changes. Heck, once we kill all them "terists", we win, right?

But tragically, Bush's policies are creating more terrorists than ever would be the case normally, far more than we can ever slaughter. Gee, doesn't it just make your chest swell with pride that our great country is engaged in a war to see how many people we can kill, while contantly spouting the platitude that we have to do this because "those people's" only purpose in life is to kill us all... even YOU!! We have to destroy Iraq and it's people in order to save them.

If someone walked into a psychiatrist's office 50 years ago and laid out these actions and the rationales that Bush and his henchmen have, they'd lock them in a rubber room. It's not reality-based thinking. But that's what happens when you decide to do what you want and then try to invent the reasons afterwards. Everyone but the most blind Bush supporters realize that something doesn't make sense in all of this.

And I recalled Bush and his henchmen telling us that once we invaded Iraq we'd all be safer. Then that once Sadaam was captured, we'd all be safer. Then that once elections were held and the Iraqi government installed we'd all be safer.

The fact is that terror attacks world-wide have increased and it'd directly due to Bush's incredibly short-sighted and bungled little war, justified by lies and continued based on lies.

And the fact remains that this attack or others like them may be the work of a very small group radical terrorists with no coordination or even connection with Al Queda or any larger organization. The 100's of billions of dollars and acres of caskets returning to families in the U.S. and around the world isn't, and CAN'T, do a damn thing to stop such attacks. It's all a collosal and immoral waste. But the continued effort to take over Iraq and take it's assets WILL serve to ensure that such attacks continue and likely will increase.

Bush's actions and continued refusal to face reality endangers the stability and safety of the entire globe, and even the brain-washed masses in the U.S. are finally starting to wake up. And not a moment too soon.

But look for Rove/Bush to take advantage of the chance to promote and capitalize on fear as a tool to use in gaining approval for even more of their agenda. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if they somehow tie this attack to allowing Bush to install far-right nominees to the Surpreme Court, as far-fetched as it seems. Watch and see how they cynically capitalize on this for unrelated political gain.

Good idea?

Quad Cities Online posts a story about the cost involved in local fireworks shows which mentions that part of the cost is the expense of cleaning up the litter crowds leave behind.

Anyone see the irony in the following passage from the article?
Bettendorf parks director Steve Grimes said several people watched Monday's show from the Palmer Hills golf course. The litter wasn't worse than last year, but for the 2006 show the city plans to pass out fliers reminding people to pick up their garbage as they leave.
I suppose you could look at it as distributing litter to those who neglected to bring any.

Dead

Here's an interesting graphic which shows the number of war dead and where they were from as published on the Palm Beach Post website. Click here to go to the interactive version.


It looks like a spreading cancer.

Call out

The following commenters have said they would like to be guest posters, but I have yet to hear from them via e-mail. MaybeSomeday, Dave, LatinV, HeadUsher.
If you feel the need to set up a free e-mail account with Hotmail, G-Mail (Google) , Yahoo or somewhere else, do so now and get in touch soon. You need not have anything written yet.

Evans Deserves Respect

Without further ado, here is today's contribution from Guest Poster, YoungDem530

Recently in the crap bag we call the Dispatch our Congressman Lane Evans, D-Rock
Island, has been catching the brunt of this flaming bag of conservatism. The
fumes from the paper must have gotten Tom Getz, Rock Island County Republican
chairman, pretty high when he said that the village idiot Mark Baker could have
won if the alleged campaign finance slip-up would not have occurred.

While I don't claim to know the details of the incident I definitely do not think it
would have mattered, Congressman Evans has a strong hold on the 17th
congressional district and for good reason. Evans and his staff have been at the
forefront in the battle for the everyday citizen ranging from veteran's benefits
to helping seniors with their Social Security.

With the deceptive practice of politics that we see in the White House and leadership in both chambers of Congress, it is a breath of fresh air to see a politician that is genuinely concerned with people in his district and not the power that comes with the position.

The Quad Cities and the state of Illinois are lucky to have Congressman Evans. Lane Evans deserves the respect from both sides of the political spectrum including a certain crap-bag newspaper.

July 6, 2005

The Chickenhawk apple doesn't fall far from the Chickenhawk tree

From Roger Ailes

Is labor still relevant to Democratic politics?

Via Atrios, I was taken to Digby's thought provoking post about labor's importance in this day and age to the Democratic party.

Digby in turn links to the ongoing discussion on Joshua Micah Marshall's Talking Point Memo's Labor discussion board in the TPM Cafe. (Whew!... it's sounds more complicated than it is. Perhaps a flow chart? Atrios -> Digby -> TPM Cafe -> Labor page -> Post -> comments.)

Anyway, go check out the discussion here . The post suggest that Dems would be fools to ignore labor, but some in comments are suggesting that labor is no longer important to progressive politics.

I think labor support is critical, especially in our area, and nationally as well. What do you think?

Huh?

The Dispatch/Argus has a curious piece about parking enforcement at the new parking ramp in downtown Moline. (Which is yet to be completed but apparently allows parking nonetheless.)

The reserved spaces are so far only marked with plastic covered pieces of paper until permanent signs can be put up. They sent out a photographer to get a shot of one such sign. It seems that one or two people have experienced people parking in their leased spaces. (Horrors!) So the Dispatch decided this was a story.

Hey, slow news day. You'll have that. One might suspect it was the space of someone with the paper which was taken, but who knows?

"Hmmmm. What have we got for today?"
"Nothing."
"Well, someone parked in my parking spot. Let's get a reporter and photographer on that."
"Will do."

At any rate, the story discusses this non-issue and explains how complaints from the two people who had discovered their leased spaces taken resulted in emergency action from the city to start fining these outlaws. (there was no ordinence allowing fines in the new ramp apparently.)

But near the bottom of the piece is this interesting passage:
Revenue manager Keith Verbeke said the city has a parking committee that has been working for more than two months to come up with solutions to parking issues in downtown Moline.

It recently made recommendations which include the new ramp, which it forwarded to Moline Centre Partners' parking committee. The organization, made up of downtown business owners, approved the recommendations on the committee level.

This morning, the Moline Centre Partners board of directors will review the recommendations. If they are approved, the recommendations will be taken to the city council for its approval.
So let me get this straight...

The city has a committee, which may or may not consist of paid or elected members, which worked more than two months to come up with "recommendations" regarding downtown parking regulations.

But it then gives over it's power to an an organization of downtown business owners and waits for the OK of some committee of this organization.

It passes the committee, but now the city must wait until the "Board of Directors" of this organization decides if it's ok with them. Only if this group of unelected business owners then approves, will it then be sent to the council for their presumed rubber-stamp approval?

How in the world is that right? We now have unelected business owners directly controlling taxpayer financed city assets? Private "boards of directors" now have veto power over city regulations before they're even put before the council? How did the cart get in front of the horse?

I hope there's some logical explanation here, because something's definitely wrong with this picture as it appears.