September 30, 2005

Vacant seat in the 71st District?

Will there indeed be a vacancy in the 71st District?

Whether or not that situation comes to pass depends on Republican jockeying for the Governor's race and a few political dominos falling in a particular way. With Jim Edgar's announcement today that he will not run for governor, it puts the ball firmly in Judy Baar Topinka's court.

If Topinka decides to run for Governor, which is in no way assured, some feel that this may precipitate Mike Boland's announcing a run for state Treasurer, the office currently held by Topinka, which is also in no way assured, and if this all somehow comes to pass, it would throw the 71st into an open primary situation.

That scenario has several "ifs". Yet within hours of Edgar's announcement, Dennis Ahern, who ran unsuccessfully for the 71st district seat last election and who apparently can't wait until there's actually an open seat to run for before beginning his campaign, sent the following to party officials, staff, and activists:
Fellow Voter:

The possibility exists that there may be a vacancy in the 71st, due to the potential announcements upstream, especially today for Governor of our state.

We are actively passing petitions for the 71st Legislative District Primary to be held March 21st 2006, due to the fact that every organization, be it political, business, or academic, must always plan for the unknown and the unseen.

Please contact me if you require petitions for your precinct.

I will keep you informed of developments as they pertain to the potential vacancy in the 71st Legislative District.


Dennis Ahern
To which he added the following note:
The first event upstream has occured {sic} much to expectations.

Keep you all posted.

Of course, adhering to the Boy Scout motto of "Be Prepared" is never bad advise, but beginning an overt campaign effort, within hours, of one Republican figure (#1) announcing that he will not run for governor which may or may not result in a Republican elected official (#2) deciding to leave her seat to run for governor, and IF that happens, depending on an incumbent state representative (#3) announcing his intention to leave his seat in order to run for the state office vacated by Republican (#2), and IF that happens as well, then, and only then, is there even a race to run in, is, well, what would you call it? Far-sighted, or far-fetched?

Illinois Blogwire

I've added another service to the already rather crowded sidebar area. This one is a nifty service provided by Lefty Blogs which gives an RSS feed of the leading blogs in the state and what they're blogging about at the moment. Hope it proves a useful service for all you Dope Heads out there.

September 29, 2005

News in brief

Bill Adams, 5th Ward, is in Washington, D.C., working as a coordinator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, on loan from the American Red Cross, Rock Island chapter, where he is trained in coordinating emergency services.
Royal Neighbors dumps 20 workers, or just over 14% of it's headquarters staff while
If you're contemplating bankruptcy, you better do is soon before the disgraceful bankruptcy "reform" bill pushed by banking and credit card companies takes affect. The bill, while containing specialized measures that allows very wealthy people to retain their assets when filing bankruptcy, forces middle or lower income people to repay creditors, even if it means they lose everything. Inform yourself on this draconian measure here.
Moline police officer Tim Saathoff lost his 8 year old son Matthew in a tragic accident in Alpha when the bicycle he was riding was struck by a semi at an intersection.
The wife of a train engineer offers her views of Joe Moreno's parking a truck across the tracks and sitting in it to block a train from passing in order for runners to complete a road race.

Look out wetlands, here it comes

After months of waiting for board members to be appointed and legislative wrangling, the Illinois Gaming Board will consider today whether to allow the Casino Rock Island to move off the Mississippi River.

The gaming board will meet today in Chicago, with permission to allow the Casino's move to a site near Interstate 280 and Illinois 92 on the agenda. Final approval of the $90 million casino and hotel project could come at the next board meeting, scheduled for Oct. 13.

There's hope

The Dope has been informed of a very bright fifth grader. He keeps up with current events and has formed his own political opinions.

He recently reported finding a George W. Bush magnet stuck underneath his desk at school.

Being an expressive and creative type, he rescued the magnet and brought it home to put on his family's refrigerator. But not before first adding his own classic artistic statement.

Note that it includes all the classic elements: stink lines, flies, scars, goofy glasses, mole, goatee, missing tooth, and of course, the uni-brow. All in all, a tour de force. Well done young man!

Republican Morality Cop Bill Bennett's solution to crime

I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down.
-- Bill Bennett to a caller to his radio program
Or you could start with jailing half the administration for rank incompetence both foreign and domestic.

September 28, 2005

Bugman indicted

It's a good day when you hear that political fixer, bagman, and conduit for millions of dollars of corporate influence money Tom Delay has been indicted.

Delay, known as a cross between a concierge and a Mafia Don, is corrupt as can be, basing his power on being the money man for the entire Republican congress. He's let it be known that if millionaires, corporations and other business interests or groups want anything to be done in D.C., they need to talk to him and start handing over the money. In turn, Delay would hand out millions upon millions to fellow Republicans campaign committees, which in turn ensured total loyalty from them.

He also let it be known to all of the K Street lobbyists, PACS, and lawyers that unless they hired Republicans, and stopped giving any money at all to Democrats, they would be shut out. Many of Delay's former staff are now millionaire lobbyists.

If Delay eventually spends 10 years in prison, he should consider himself getting off with a slap on the wrist, as this indictment is truly only the tip of a very large iceberg. One can imagine just how hard it is to nab a slippery politician like Delay, corrupt as he is, when he weilds as much power as he does, commands as much loyalty and fear as he does, and has actively changed ethics rules to sheild himself as he has.

Even the Republican talking parrots will have a hard time making Delay out to be warm and cuddly, and after years of his blatant corruption, it's likely that both the press and others will turn on him. (though of course, as always the Dems will be spineless wimps and will fail to capitalize on this)

Look for the typical and tiresome right wing spin to attempt to attack the messanger and vilify and smear the Travis County prosecutor who issued the indictment as being some sort of insane nut job from the far left obsessed with getting Tom Delay. Nothing could be further from the truth.

And even better, Delay has actually stepped down as whip, though he's held far more power than speaker Dennis Hastert. Frankly, I'm surprised he even stepped down, as they made attempts earlier when these indictments were on the horizon to totally gut the ethics rules of the house and the Republican party in order to shield Delay from any harm.

This couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. The wheels are finally coming off this massively corrupt enterprise otherwise known as the dark era when Republicans controled the entire government. Perhaps theres hope that, due to their overarching greed and inability to not over-reach, the disasterous Republican era may come to an end sooner than expected. This would be cause for the entire planet to rejoice.

Of course, like a particularly stubborn cockroach, Delay won't go away anytime soon, but this sure isn't going to help him. We can only hope that the former exterminator from Sugarland, TX finally gets squashed himself.

Incompetent? More loyal to Bush than to the people of the U.S.? Don't mind lying? Apply at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

What exactly is it about the Bush administration that values both incompetents and liars? Well, as has been demonstrated time and time again, it's plain that they value blind loyalty to Junior above competence, and lying to protect and defend the president is richly rewarded.

Brownie is busy compounding his woes and further ruining his already tattered reputation by his absoulutely embarrassing appearance before a house committee yesterday.

Not only was he in deep denial, combative, and attempting to blame everyone but himself (sound familiar? It's the Bush playbook to a tee.) but Brownie was flat out lying under oath. Brownie's doing a heck of a job.
And we all know the threat to our very way of life, democracy, and the American way that lying under oath is. Just ask Henry Hyde. What will we tell the children?

And in case you hadn't heard, it turns out this poor sap who took advantage of a cronie appointment which placed him far, far out of his league and who is now trapped in the culture of the Bush administration which values loyalty to Bush above both competence and the truth, is being "taken care of" by the White House with a plush "consultant" position at the very agency he utterly failed at overseeing.

Even though Brown was not only unqualified but grossly failed in his duty, and even though he was forced out as FEMA head, Bush has hired him back as a "consultant" to the agency at the same taxpayer paid salary of $148,000 a year which he was paid for doing such a woeful job that he was forced to resign. Not bad for basically being in charge of whitewashing your own screw-ups.

But at least this way he won't be tempted to spill the beans on how the Bush administration had systematically gutted FEMA and their involvement and complicity in adding to the disaster in the gulf states.

And in a related piece, Kevin Horrigan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote this precient column two days ago. But with Bush's proven habit of rewarding incompetence, predicting the future isn't as hard as it seems.

The Boston Globe and LA Times have good reports on the hearings.

Straight-up Looting

Buried within a buried article in the Washington Post:
As fiscal hawks surrendered, would-be government contractors were meeting in the Hart Senate Office Building to figure out how to get a share of the money. A "Katrina Reconstruction Summit," hosted by Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) and sponsored by Halliburton, among others, brought some 200 lobbyists, corporate representatives and government staffers to a room overlooking the Capitol for a five-hour conference that included time for a "networking break" and advice on "opportunities for private sector involvement."

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) sent his budget director, Bill Hoagland, who cautioned that federal Katrina spending might not exceed $100 billion. But John Clerici, from a law firm that helped sponsor the event, told the group that spending would "probably be larger" than $200 billion. "It's going to be spent in a fast and furious way," Clerici said.

Dr. Frist's not-so-blind trust

It looks like the truly creepy Sen. Bill Frist has some explaining to do himself for his insider trading in what was supposed to be a blind trust. Turns out he dumped all his stock in the enormous hospital corporation HCA founded by his dad and brother just before it lost about 10% of it's value, thus potentially saving Senator Frist millions of dollars.

A blind trust is an account that is... well.. blind, in that the person it's administered for is supposed to have no idea what assets are in the account.

Whether he is guilty of insider trading depends on whether Frist had "material nonpublic information" about HCA at the time he ordered the sale of not only his shares, but those of his wife and children as well. Of course, Frist, while slightly spooky, isn't dumb enough to admit this, so it is unlikely he'll suffer the consequences.

His rationale for directing the sale of the stock just days before it tanked was that he wanted to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest, which of course begs the question of why he decided to dump the stock now after having held it for many years. Apparently Frist's concerns about the appearance of a conflict only emerged just days before the stock tanked. Curious, is it not? Martha Stewart went to prison for less. Will the good doctor?

George W, who while serving on the audit committee of an oil company dumped a boat-load of stock in the failing outfit just before it's stock value fell through the floor, thus violating inside trading laws, and then failed to report the sale until far beyond the deadline for doing so, thus breaking further laws, then walk away scot-free. How you may ask? Well, the head of the SEC which was asked to investigate happened to be Daddy Bush's attorney. And Daddy Bush happened to be vice-president at the time.

So, is it ok to indulge in illegal insider trading if you're a high ranking Republican, but not if you're anyone else? We shall see.

Saw this and thought of Dave and Senor Badbreath

A-Q-Men, a local group of American Mensa, invites the general public (age 14 and older) to take the Mensa Admission Test. Parental permission is required for anyone age 14-17.

Testing will be Saturday, Oct 22, in the Lillienthal Room at the Bettendorf Public Library, 2950 Learning Campus Drive, Bettendorf. Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. with testing at 10 a.m.

The test will take about two hours to complete. A photo ID is required to take the test. Cost is $30.

Based in Arlington, Texas, American Mensa is an organization open to anyone who scores in the top two percent on an accepted, standardized intelligence test.

Limited seating is available. For reservations contact Alan Wood at (319) 385-7141 or For information call Alan Wood, (319) 385-7141. E-mail, or visit the Web site

Frankly, I suspect they're actually members of Densa.

What the hell??!

This story is just too weird on several levels.
EAST MOLINE, Ill. (AP) -- Passing freight trains disrupted the 2005 Quad Cities Marathon, prompting a race organizer to drive a pace truck onto the path of an approaching locomotive.

After runners were forced to stop and wait as two trains made their way through East Moline on Sunday, Joe Moreno sped over to an intersection near the 22-mile marker and parked his truck on railroad tracks, blocking a third train from passing.

"I don't know how fast it was coming, but you could hear it coming from a distance. It was blowing its horn," Moreno said Monday.

The train stopped less than a block away from Moreno's truck.

Moreno says he then sat in the vehicle with the doors locked -- for nearly an hour and a half -- as several hundred runners crossed the tracks. A railroad employee tried to get Moreno to move his truck, but it wasn't until police arrived that the former East Moline mayor agreed to move the vehicle.

"With every minute, I was buying time for the runners," Moreno said.

Richard Stoeckly, vice president and chief operating officer of the Iowa Interstate Railroad Co., said the disruptions were the result of a "breakdown in communication" between race organizers and the Cedar Rapids, Iowa,-based company.

The disruptions did not affect the marathon's elite runners, Moreno said, adding that a passing train also interrupted the marathon in 1999.
Egads! I know Moreno is an avid runner, but..... I mean, how would this story change if the train turned the former East Moline mayor into a grease spot?

And what sort of planning routes a marathon race across active railroad tracks with no effort to prevent it being stopped by slow moving freight trains?? I mean, I have this picture in my head of hundreds of runners jogging in place as the lights blink and bells clang and a slow moving freight lumbers by for about 10 minutes. Wouldn't it be great to travel all the way from California or Kenya to run in some dinky town in the midwest only to have to wait for a freight train to pass in the middle of the race?

And this is the mindblowing part.... this was not the first time this had happened! And they STILL didn't change the route or make any arrangements with the railroad?! Michael Brown could do a better job than THAT!

Wrong Mike

During introductions at a round table discussion on methamphetamine Monday, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan introduced state Sen. Mike Jacobs, as ... Sen. Mike Boland. Oops. Boland's name was listed with Jacobs and Pat Verschoore on the list of people to introduce, but Boland wasn't in attendance. Everyone pretty much laughed it off, with Madigan adding, "that is kind of funny."

It's not funny, it's hilarious!
What I'd give for video.

Any chance Lisa Madigan's gaffe was "accidentally on-purpose" as an extremely artful jab at "Young"™©® Sen. Jacobs?

And speaking of methamphetimine, Ashley Smith, the blonde who was held up as some sort of incredible hero when she was host to the man who had murdered a judge and others in Atlanta, and who also has been held up by the religious right as some sort of proof that religion had caused the fugitive to give himself up after she told of reading the guy some religious book. Well.....
Turns out she was a drug addict who had lost her child due to her drug abuse and had done crystal meth with the murder fugitive before he decided she was an angel sent from God and that he'd been led to her. (Sounds like the meth induced delusions had more to do with his giving himself up than God.)

Ms. Smith revealed the drug use in her new book which she no doubt will make big bucks from in addition to the thousands of dollars showered on her as a reward for her role in the capture of the fugitive.

What a shame when another phoney attempt to create a hero crumbles under the truth.

September 27, 2005

Edgar vs. Blagojevich?

With former Republican governor Jim Edgar expected to decide soon whether he will campaign for governor, what are your thoughts on how this would affect the race?
His health is an issue, as is whether his family would support his run and whether he'd bring too many skeletons from the past with him into the race.

Blago begins release of state funds for pork projects

The governor has begun releasing $195 million for hundreds of projects around the state that were negotiated during his predecessor's term.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich has authorized the release of $7 million to protect Chicago's shoreline, $4 million for the Joffrey Ballet and millions of dollars more for road improvements, bike paths, parks and other pork projects, administration records showed.

The projects receiving money had executed grant agreements, which are basically contracts with the state, Blagojevich spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch said.

Blagojevich ordered a freeze on funding for the projects after he became governor in January 2003. Last spring, he agreed to distribute about $470 million of the frozen funds.

Altogether, the $195 million now being released will be used to pay for more than 560 projects across the state that were first approved during the administration of Republican Gov. George Ryan.

Ryan's hometown of Kankakee will get about $3.3 million for street and library renovations, $980,000 for upgrades to a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed property, and $250,000 for the Kankakee County Historical Society, according to the records.

The sudden release of the money has apparently caught some officials off guard.

Blagojevich has not decided when the rest of the roughly $275 million will be released, Rausch said.
It appears Blagojevich is banking that the Beatles were wrong and that money CAN buy you love.

September 26, 2005

Gene Lyons

Backlit by temporary spotlights flown to New Orleans, Bush vowed to spare no expense in what he called "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen." He added that "federal funds will cover the great majority of the costs of repairing public infrastructure in the disaster zone." Costs are estimated at $200 billion, very roughly what the U.S. expects to spend in Iraq this year.

And here’s the beauty part: In the short run, those billions will come mostly from the governments of China and Saudi Arabia in the form of Treasury Bond purchases. Eventually, of course, the debt must be repaid with interest, but not while Bush is president. Sweet.

Pressed by reporters for a ballpark estimate, the president shrugged. Rebuilding after Katrina, he said, would "cost whatever it costs." He vowed not to raise taxes. Unspecified cuts in other government programs supposedly would make up the difference.

Since Bush took office in 2001, government spending has risen by almost a third, from $1.86 trillion to $2.48 trillion, Newsweek reports. He has never vetoed a spending bill. In recently signing a $286.4 billion, pork-laden transportation bill—$250 million to build a bridge from a town of 8,000 to an island of 50 in a powerful Alaska congressman’s district, for example—Bush praised himself for doing it the "fiscally responsible way." Instead of raising taxes, he borrowed the money.

Bush "conservatism," see, is grasshopper conservatism. Party today, let the ants pay the caterer another day. Meanwhile, two little known, millionaires-only tax cuts enacted in 2001 will take effect next year. By removing ceilings on personal exemptions and itemized deductions, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities calculates that the provisions will cut income taxes on the top 0.2 percent of taxpayers an average of $20,000 each. The five-year budget cost is $35 billion. With hundreds of thousands homeless and destitute, do they really need it?

Then there’s that GOP obsession, the so-called "death tax" repeal. It’s valuable only to heirs (like Bush himself) who expect to inherit multimillion-dollar fortunes. Just over 1 percent of inheritors last year paid any estate tax at all. Roughly one-quarter of the total collected came from estates of more than $20 million.

The average estate tax paid in 2003, reports Ernest Dumas in the Arkansas Times, came to 17 percent. Middle-class wage earners pay higher withholding taxes. Contrary to GOP propaganda, most large estates consist of unrealized capital gains that have never been taxed at all.

Keeping the estate tax could pay for Katrina all by itself. Instead, Bush vows to ask Congress to make tax cuts enacted in 2001 for the wealthiest Americans permanent. Over a decade, that’s expected to cost an estimated $1.4 trillion at a time of record deficits. Can the nation afford it?

Read the entire piece here.

Saturday, around the globe

200,000 in D.C.

Cindy Sheehan wearing "I Want The Truth" shirt



South Korea

South Korea

Ron Kovic, Vietnam vet, subject of "Born on the Fourth of July" leading L.A. protest




A few serious thoughts on Iraq, and why protest speakers are often embarassing and counter-productive

Read this.

Common sense creeping into American consciences

The anti-peace crowd is an odd lot. Their thought processes are strained and easily shown to be utterly distorted and false. They're almost to be pitied, so shallow and easily led are they. And to add insult to injury, their planned 20,000 people "hate anti-war protestors, support the Chimp" rally, which they called a "Rally to Honor Military Families", only drew a couple hundred lost souls.

As I've spent a lot of time pointing out just how flawed these people's reasoning and morality are, I instead invite you to read the report here and see if you can spot the places where those quoted have skippped a few steps in logical thought. It can be sort of a quiz to see how well you've learned to spot the illogic.

For starters, what's utterly wrong about whining that Cindy Sheehan shouldn't be speaking her mind about the war because "the troops" are dying to defend her right to free speech and that if she was in another country, she wouldn't be able to do so?
It seems to make sense, if you don't think about it. But it crumbles under even a bit of thought and examination.

There's a wealth of faulty thinking in the piece. Have at it.

I watched a bit of the anti-peace, anti-protest rally on C-Span and you've never heard such simple-minded confusion and interchangability between "our troops", Bush, "freedom", "democracy", "liberty", and all the other code words they fall back on so relexively.

First, in order to understand anything about these folks, you must understand that their entire rally was based on something that DOESN'T EXIST! They've made it up!

The entire anti-peace protest was based entirely on the warped and false idea that if someone doesn't support the invasion of Iraq or Bush, that they don't support the troops, hate the troops, want the troops to fail or die or whatever, and somehow hate the U.S.

This is utter, total, absolutely 100% crap. And their entire effort is based entirely on that completely false premise.
And speaker after speaker, years after it's been thoroughly debunked, and after George W. Bush himself admitted there was no connection, one after another after another, these speakers recited in detail all those lost on 9-11 and how our brave troops are "avenging" that loss, that "we didn't ask for this war, we didn't start this war, but WE'RE DAMN SURE GONNA FINISH IT!" to roars of applause. It's like these people were attacked and the attacker escaped in a plane. Then they shot down a couple planes, but not the one with the ringleader of the attack, but then Bush told them that one of the attackers had hid out underground, and if we didn't dig him up, we'd all be slaughtered in our beds, so they all started digging a big hole. While doing this, thousands died or were crippled for life, and then it was revealed that there weren't any attackers underground after all, but these people, having had loved ones die digging the whole and egged on by the President and his friends (who hope to find gold down there somewhere) stand there years later and scream about how they're going to keep digging and dying, by God, because they're AMERICANS!! Not like those unGodly people who stand by and ask question why we're still digging and dying and suggesting we stop.

And of course, every single speaker mouths the flip side of that idiocy, that the Cindy Sheehans of the world would just let "the terrorists" rape our wives and daughters and slaughter us all. And it keeps getting worse. A guy is now saying the troops are fighting "them" over in Iraq so our brave firefighters and policeman don't have to fight them "over here". Wow. Our sons and daughters are being sent over to Iraq with a target on their backs so the terrorists don't have to bother travelling over here? I guess all we need to do is keep sending a stream of Americans over there to be slaughtered and we'll all remain safe? It's simply ridiculous and almost child-like.

And there's the truly sad spectacle of parents emersed in grief and grasping and clinging to some rationale for their tragic loss, and at some point deciding that swallowing the lies of the Bush administration whole is easiest and less painful, advocating that MORE parents suffer their grief and sorrow, just so in their minds, their loss won't be "in vain." It's so sad, and so utterly illogical, based entirely on emotion and ignoring logic.

And every mention of "fighting for freedom", "staying the course", or even more outrageously "defending this country", gets big applause. One ass is even now saying that the protesters "Like where they live at but they don't want to defend where they live." !! Utter insanity. He's talking about a buddy that died believing that this war is "world war III, the war of good against evil". And of course, now he's saying that the protesters have "forgotten the lives lost on 9-11, and forgotten that "these terrorists would kill them all down to their infant sons and daughters", and that when they attack us, "who are you going to call? Cindy Sheehan and the Pink Ladies?" Idiots. And he ends this insane bullshit by shouting "I believe these things because I AM AN AMERICAN!"

And every one of these deluded souls end their speeches with some sort of insult or slam directed to Cindy Sheehan, including one old guy who went on and on about the duty and honor of the military and then concluded by telling Ms. Sheehan, "Cindy lied, Casey cries." The crowd cheered. Bravo guy... what a tough ass you are. Your fallen son would be so proud.

Another guy said that he'd agree to support Sheehan if she could promise him that if we withdraw from Iraq that the U.S. will never be attacked by terrorists and that there will be peace in this country. (Of course, thinking we're never going to be attacked by terrorists while we're still in Iraq is sheer stupidity). But then to explain his odd remark about peace in our country, he said that he believed that if we withdrew from Iraq, that there would be war right here in the U.S. What can you say about someone who actually thinks that way? That believes that we're somehow holding every single person who hates the US policies at bay just by sending our people to die in Iraq? That ignores the fact that our being in Iraq is INCREASING the liklihood that we'll be attacked, not preventing it? And I wish someone could explain to me how our presense in Iraq is "defending freedom and liberty." It's all mass hypnosis and ignorance.

All you can do is shake your head and pity their loss and their delusion. These are the people who have borne the heaviest burden, sacrificed the ultimate sacrifice, and who will carry the pain and loss for the rest of their days. And they're simply incapable of placing their blame and frustration where it properly lies, but instead choose an easier and more comforting target, another mother who has lost her precious son, to direct all their venom and anger against. It's just sad.

And meanwhile, smirking George and his billionaire pals and the Saudis and all the rest are riding this war to enormous profits and to expand their power. And these poor souls stand there and praise him as a hero for sending their flesh and blood to a horrible death half way around the world. And for what? What "noble cause" did they die? These folks seem to think it was to protect us all from being overrun by "terrorists" and for the abstract notions of "freedom" and "liberty". If they need to believe that, fine. But they shouldn't denigrate and vilify a woman who sees clearly enough and has the strength of character to be able to see the truth, that her son died for nothing, and to have the further strength to stand up for her convicitions despite the efforts of these people to smear, insult, and mock her.

All these anti-peace speakers have to do is bellow "freedom" and the crowd goes wild. It resembled nothing as much as some cheesy Texas football rally, (the organizer ended the rally by saying, I kid you not, "Go troops, beat the terrorists.") not a serious rally in support of anything, other than "the troops" and "our president", without realizing that those opposed to the war support "the troops" just as much if not more, and without realizing that "the troops" and "the president" are NOT the same thing. Far from it. George W. Bush doesn't have the courage, strength, devotion, or guts that one of our service men and women have in their little finger.

These people are literally worshiping Bush, heaping praises on him and talking about how wonderful he is, one guy even broke into sobs just telling what a wonderful guy he was for asking "How're you doin' Mom?" to his wife.

But they didn't give a shit that this same guy didn't even fulfill his duty obligation for the freaking Texas Air National Guard? These folks, bless 'em, are absolutely deluded.

And here comes G. Gordon Liddy, famous felon and nut-case who the crowd hails as a rock star hero.

It's truly touching how these macho gung-ho armchair general types have suddenly become so intensely concerned with the "freedom" of the people they've been referring to as "sand niggers" and "towel heads" for the past two decades. Hell, it wasn't long ago these same ignorant and misguided people were loudly advocating just nuking Iraq and turning it into glass. Now they're saying the lives of their sons and daughters and thousands of others were all worth it because it "freed" the Iraqi people (yeah, freed about a half million of them from their life on earth) and somehow "defended" our country. They're VERY confused.

The next lady speaker said that she thanks God for the soldiers looking for bombs in Iraq before they fall on our fields. What bombs? And how in the HELL does this woman think they're going to be launched to Ottumwa, IA? They're stone cold ignorant.

But I think in the case of those who have lost loved ones, often very young and promising lives snuffed out, that they are simply in deep denial. The thought that their loved ones died for no good reason is simply too hard, impossible to face. And Cindy Sheehan pointing it out to them in a simple, yet powerful way, angers them beyond all reason. She's shattering their illusions which are intensely personal and cherished. And they hate her with a passion. To them, it's as if Sheehan and others are personally denigrating their sons and daughters, though nothing could be further from the truth. She's just raising the fact that they're lives were lost for no "noble cause", as Bush has them believing.

Meanwhile, at least 150,000 and likely more staged the largest anti-war rally in decades in front of the White House along with thousand more across the country. It was a huge event, even if the speakers were often annoying and ranting about issues with not even a tangential relationship to Iraq. But of course the protests got little if any play in the media. As a matter of fact, on Google news, there's as many news items on the counter protest as on the actual protest march itself.

As an observation.. I've never seen so much flag desecration in one spot in my life, including a guy wearing the flag as a cape and dragging it in the mud, and some nit-wit with an American flag electric guitar singing a song called "Bush was right!" which was a blatant rip-off of a Billy Joel tune.

September 24, 2005

Locals travel to DC to lend their voice to national war protest

The Dispatch reports 57 Quad-citians to attend rally in D.C.

DAVENPORT -- Memories of a lost brother and of a mother who lost her son are why Ruth Puck and Ann Berger boarded the bus on Friday.

The women and 55 others packed up their signs, bottled water and other provisions and left by bus Friday afternoon for the United for Peace rally in Washington, D.C., to protest the war in Iraq.

"I'm going because my brother (Chuck Slayton) was in Vietnam, and I didn't get involved back then," said Ms. Puck of Moline. "He came back and was never the same, so I thought I need to get involved now."

Ms. Berger of Davenport watched Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son, Casey Sheehan, in Iraq, become a beacon for those who opposed the war. Ms. Sheehan camped outside President George W. Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch, for several weeks, wanting to meet with the president. Ms. Sheehan will speak at today's rally.

"There are many people who feel passionate about this issue, so why not go," Ms. Berger said. "You want energy, this is it."

She wants to join others who also believe passionately that the war in Iraq is wrong. She should have plenty of company. Organizers are saying 100,000 could participate in the rally. Counter-protests by war supporters are also planned.

Many of the family and friends Ms. Puck and Ms. Berger have talked to in recent days gave their support and wished they could go, too.

"I knew a lot of people who wanted to come but because of work or family couldn't," Ms. Puck said.

"I've gotten calls of support, and they say you are going for me," Ms. Berger said.

Both women expressed surprise that more people weren't going to the rally. Cathy Bolkcom, who organized the trip, said more people were interested than seats were available. The trip cost $125 a seat.

Sue Howes, a retired Presbyterian minister from Andalusia, was staying in the Quad-Cities but said she would be there in spirit. She helped sponsor a person to go on the trip.

"I've been opposed to this war since the very beginning," Rev. Howes said. "It doesn't seem to be involved in the war on terror."

She cited recent polls that show support for the war is waning and that this weekend's rally is a start toward ending the war in Iraq.

"There are other buses from Iowa and the Midwest going," Rev. Howes said. "Polls show that 55 percent of the country opposes this war. If all 55 percent showed up, there would be an effect."
Great to see a piece on this story which otherwise would be expected to be ignored. Heads up reporting by the Dispatch's Kurt Allemeier on the local angle ahead of a story which will likely be national news.

And again, it boggles my mind that ditto-heads and other very confused people feel motivated to make the effort to counter-protest AGAINST those who desire an end to hostilities and continued death, destruction, and the vast expansion of hostility towards our country.


Henry County's Circuit Clerk was arrested over Labor Day weekend and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

Debra J. Doss, 50, of Galva, was arrested at 10:21 p.m. Sept. 3, by Illinois State Police at the intersection of Illinois Route 78 and Prospect Street in Kewanee, according to court records.

Records indicate Ms. Doss' blood alcohol level was .150. The legal limit is .08.

Ms. Doss was stopped during a roadside safety check, according to court records. The report said she had a strong odor of alcohol, slurred speech and uncoordinated actions.

It was Ms. Doss' first DUI arrest, records indicate. Her first court date is scheduled for Oct. 10.
I can't help but feel for this person, though of course, we all know we shouldn't drink and drive. But the fact that she's a public official means she gets the spotlight in the paper, and it's also a "there but for the grace of God, go most of us" sort of story.

I may be wrong, but I suspect a very great number of people out there, even the otherwise completely responsible and upright readers here, might get behind the wheel while over the very low legal intoxication limit. These dragnet checkpoint deals that cops run have got to be a goldmine, and there's an aspect of them that really, really sticks in my craw.

There seems to be something inherently unfair about busting someone stuck in a checkpoint. They could be utterly safe, even more than a person on a cell phone or turned around backwards fighting with screaming kids, yet they're busted just as hard and suffer the same consequences, all things being equal, as the idiot who gets behind the wheel so drunk they couldn't crawl a straight line.

Surely the cops have their hands full busting drivers who are obviously drunk or who come to their attention by speeding, weaving, having lights out, or other violations. Do they really need to resort to stopping every single driver to see if they've had more than two drinks in the past couple hours?

I suspect cops see it more as a revenue mining opportunity than a public safety effort. And after all, they just stand around pulling people over and writing tickets. Easy money. Beats going out and actually having to work to find bad drivers I guess. But it somehow doesn't seem quite fair.

What's your opinion?

September 23, 2005

Donahue vs. O'Reilly

It was guaranteed to be a fracas, and it was. O'Reilly lost his marbles and started screaming patriotic drivel in his trademark attempt to make it seem as if HE alone is defending us from evil. Of course, it was all ridiculous and responding to a slight that only existed in his head, but, that's par for the course.

As always, the excellent Crooks and Liars has the story and clips here, as well as a post on the inevitable post appearance spin effort by the "no-spin" O'Reilly.

Falafel Bill's head explodes!

Phil goes on the offensive immediately telling Billy that he's leading the pack to marginalize Cindy Sheehan.

Donohue: Cindy Sheehan is one tough mother and nothing you say or anyone else is going to slow her down.

Bill: That's fine, she's has a right-

Phil:....You can't hurt her, she's already taken the biggest punch in the nose that a woman can take.

Bill, in his infinite wisdom asks: How? Phil: She's lost a son- Bill: Oh, OK...

Phil asks O'Reilly if his children would fight in the war and the meltdown ensues. Bill tells him that his nephew just joined (that's not his kids) and blows his top. O'Reilly threatens to boot Donohue off the set for saying absolutely nothing. The bloviator really lost it, playing the " you're denigrating him" card. If C&L was like certain right wing sites, I'm sure we would fact check Billy's nephew.

Bill, what did Phil say to denigrate him? Nothing. Donohue brought up Jeremy Glick.

Phil: I'm not Jeremy Glick, Billy...You can't intimidate me...

Newshounds has the transcript up...
Without belaboring the point, O'Reilly thrives on setting things up so he can't lose. Someone can appear and hand his ass to him, as Donahue argueably did, and then O'Reilly can spin madly for weeks and sometimes months afterwards until he's emerged as some sort of valiant hero and those who bested him appear as cowardly nut jobs or worse.

Blood in the Water

From Roger Ailes:

There's only one way to settle this. Raise your right hand, Karl.

But here's the kicker: Tommy Timmy Flanagin, mouthpiece for Tyco and almost certainly a witness in the forthcoming prosecutions of Abramoff, DeLay and Rove, is a Bush nominee for Ass. Attorney General.

Gives me confidence.

September 22, 2005


This is fun... the site has a lot of fairly interesting time wasters, should you ever find yourself with some time on your hands and desire to waste some.

Give vs. Take

When asked at a press conference whether she'd be willing to give up the funding for highway projects in her district in order to fund hurricane relief efforts, Rep. Nancy Pelosi replied without hesitation, "Yes. And the people of my district would be proud to do so." She later issued a statement to clarify that she meant she'd give up her projects if other congress members were willing to do so as well.

Rep. Dennis Hastert, the neckless wonder of northern Illinois and House majority leader, was informed of Pelosi's statement and asked if he'd be willing to forgo the pork for his area in light of the relief efforts. "That's very gracious of her", Hastert said unconvincingly. The reporter pressed again, would Hastert be willing to give up the pork projects in his district? "That's very gracious of her", was all Hastert would intone.

Does this illustrate anything about the differences in philosophy between the parties? One is willing to forgo benefits to her constituents in the larger cause of national need, the other finds the very idea of giving up a nickel (of the non-essential projects he's landed to enrich his donors) to be stupid and laughable.

One represents sacrifice from all for the good of the country, the other represents the greedy "grab it while you can", "me first" sort of belief that has literally destroyed much of the country's economy and put the nation on a perilous economic path for decades to come.

The Republicans act as though they don't give a rat's ass about what happens after they're gone. As long as they can grab all they can for themselves and their cronies now, who cares what the consequences are? As long as they're rich, rich, RICH! who cares? They'll be able to afford to live in gated communities and be immune from the suffering.

Some of them think the rapture is coming and they'll be taken up to be with the Lord soon, so what does it matter? Why plan for the future when you think there won't be one? Others are simply greedy. But whatever their phony rationale, none of them put the good of the country above their own greed.

Pelosi is to be commended. Let's see how many Republicans offer to give up their superfluous billions in pork.

Already, the game is being set.

The choices of what to cut back on in order to finance the relief and recovery efforts in the south is government at it's most basic.

All government essentially is is a mechanism for deciding who gets finite resources.
The very purpose of government is to tax and spend, despite the fact that the right has successfully made that concept seem as if it's evil somehow. But the fact remains that taxing and spending is the very reason government exists! It's primary purpose is to decide who gets what and how much.

So it's against that backdrop that the coming battles will be waged.

What should be cut so we can avoid further destroying our economy?

Should we find the billions by cutting back our bungled efforts in Iraq?
Should we rescind some of Bush's sacred tax cuts for the wealthy? That alone would pay for the recovery.
Should we scrap NASAs recently announced mission to create space stations on the moon in support of missions to Mars?
Should we cut the millions for two bridges to nowhere in Alaska?
Should we reinstate the inheritance tax, which affects only a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population, yet provides billions of dollars of tax revenue?
Should every congressman give ups some of their pork in order to finance the entire relief efforts?

Or, as the right is proposing, should we deny seniors their prescription drug benefit for a year, and use this excuse to slash social programs such as their proposals to slash Pell Grants for education and to defund Public Broadcasting?

Watch this process carefully, as you'll see the right trying to use this as an excuse to get their pet projects done, such as expanded oil drilling, repealing yet more regulations protecting workers and the environment, and enormously bloated no-bid contracts to their corporate buddies. Just as they did with 9-11, they're going to mount a massive campaign to bamboozle the public into saying that Katrina and Rita justify doing the rest of the projects they weren't able to accomplish post 9-11. Only the phony rationale will change. The motivation of enormous profits for the economic elite won't.

Where would you cut the budget to afford the relief efforts? And if Bush and those lovable Republicans who have controlled all aspects of government for over 5 years now hadn't spent like drunken sailors, amassing trillions upon trillions upon trillions of record national debt, would all these painful cuts have been necessary at all?

This was inevitable

One of the unfortunate hazards of good deeds.
Three family members have been arrested for allegedly accepting free housing, food, clothes and furniture while posing as victims of Hurricane Katrina, authorities said.

SanJuana Huerta-Sierra, her daughter Yesentia Alverez-Huerta, 25; and Alverez-Huerta's fiance, Wayne M. Lambert, 33, were being held Wednesday in Macon County Jail. Officials at the jail did not know whether they had attorneys.

The Decatur community group TeamHope Katrina had been helping the family and others displaced by Hurricane Katrina, which killed more than 1,000 and displaced thousands when it struck the Gulf Coast region.

The family received several donations from the community, said Detective Sgt. Gary Buenting.

"We gave them a four-bedroom house, clothing, towels, sheets, furniture, food," Volunteer Theresa Terry told The (Springfield) State Journal-Register. "We were pretty much handing them a plateful of anything they would need to get going."

After family members had told inconsistent stories, the group stop giving them donations after Sunday, Kelly Wingard, also of TeamHope, told the (Decatur) Herald & Review.

The Mid-Illinois Chapter of the American Red Cross also gave the family at least two debit cards to use for expenses, said Executive Director Dennis Eller.
Just glad they were caught. This type of thing is no doubt going on by the hundreds across the country. Rather than being a reason to not be generous, it's just a very unfortunate fact that the very poor who were not in the storm's path will be sorely tempted to take advantage of such generous aid.

Moline taxpayers get to be a part of new development

A $4 million to $5 million commercial development is planned for a former bus transfer station on the western edge of downtown and the border of the Floreciente neighborhood.

La Plaza El Mercado is a planned development on 4th and 5th avenues, between 11th and 12th streets. Preliminary plans call for developer Todd Raufeisen to turn the area into a open-air market, office complex and retail center that will hold stores, restaurants and a bank.

The development would have Spanish architecture to reflect the culture of the Floreciente neighborhood, and construction could begin in the spring of 2006.

The project, which is still developing, would sit on land now owned by the city of Moline and MetroLINK. The area, a former MetroLINK bus transfer facility, has been vacant for seven years.

Moline city administrator Lew Steinbrecher said the city is meeting with Mr. Raufeisen to negotiate the terms of a development agreement, which could include about $600,000 in city assistance.

Renew Moline also has been working with the city and Mr. Raufeisen on the project.

"Should this development forge ahead, it will have a significant impact on the redevelopment of 5th Avenue, an area we've ignored for too long. It is time for development to occur," said Renew Moline executive director Jim Bowman.

Mr. Raufeisen approached the city within the last year and a half looking for an investment opportunity. The city suggested he look at the area known as the west gateway, and Mr. Raufeisen became interested in the possibilities.
This project has potential to be a fine addition to the 5th Ave & 12th street area, and at first blush sounds like good news. But as always, it's tempered by the fact that the city taxpayers are coughing up nearly a quarter of the costs. I would be very interested in a figure for just how much the city has tied up in helping various developers. It's easily several million dollars.

I think that if conservatives want to whine about welfare, they ought to pay more attention to the real welfare problem, all the billions of dollars give to developers and corporations at the local, state, and federal level. It's truly rare that a business EVER has to actually finance a development or business themselves anymore.

What does this signify? That business has now effectively become part of government, or more to the point, that government (taxpayers) have become investment bankers?

When did this happen?

Does this mean that if you're wealthy enough to be able to embark on a big development, you should then have nearly all the risk and half the costs assumed by the city taxpayers? Should they ensure that those who are already quite wealthy, simply can't lose?

When did OUR governments become the bank for developers, a bank that gives loans that a prudent bank would never give in a thousand years?

Why aren't people more upset about this? Do they really believe that it's worth all that money to bring in a little increased tax revenue and a few jobs?

I'm 100% certain that if you did an accurate and thorough cost/benefit analysis of all these taxpayer subsidized developments, between the tax districts, tax abatements, tax paybacks, and millions spent on the project, (including in some cases, even paying to market the project to consumers) that it would show that the minimal increases in tax revenue and few jobs created would not begin to equal even a fraction of the money paid out to these investors. (there have been many cases where cities and states have paid out so much to corporations and companies to locate in their state using the excuse of creating jobs that when the costs were broken down, it turned out they'd spent as much as $200,000 per job!)

If Moline taxpayers are invested in all these exciting projects, I think we should be able to participate in the profits as well. How'd we get sold a deal where we take all the risk but realize little or no profit?

I've heard of share the risk, share the profit, but with these schemes it's always share the risk, concentrate the profits. Not good.

Imagine if some guy approached you and asked you to invest $125,000 to open say, a $500,000 butcher shop on the corner of your street, saying that it would improve the area and increase your property value, would you consider it? What if he explained that though he'd be getting all the potential profits of the business, you'd not see a penny, nor would you have any ownership of the business, but it's still worth it since even though the city gave him a tax abatement, he'll eventually have to start paying taxes in ten years, and it will help the town?

Well, as far as I can tell, most commercial projects undertaken in Moline involves you making just such an investment. What do you think?

Dan Carmody, Godfather of Rock Island development, founder of RibCo, to resign

Looking for new challenges, Development Association of Rock Island executive director Dan Carmody has resigned.

Mr. Carmody announced his departure at DARI's board meeting Wednesday. He is leaving after 18 years to become the executive director of the Fort Wayne, Ind., improvement District. He'll start that job Nov. 15.

"Eighteen years is a long time in one place," he said. "For the community and myself, getting some new ideas is a good thing."

A native of Oak Park, Ill., Mr. Carmody moved to Rock Island in 1977 after graduating from the University of Illinois with a degree in urban and regional planning. He also studied urban planning in England.

He has served as DARI's executive director since 1987. He also has worked for Rock Island as a city planner and owned the Rock Island Brewing Company.

While on vacation this summer, he said he considered future plans and decided he needed new challenges. He also sees his departure as an opportunity for DARI. He is pleased and proud of the staff and says assembling it is one of his best accomplishments. He believes the staff will continue to flourish.

"I think it is a chance to give staff a real opportunity to grow," he said. "I expect a national search to bring in someone with fresh thinking."

Mike Thoms, DARI's president, echoed those sentiments.

"We have to, as a community, look at the positive side" of Mr. Carmody leaving, he said. For the city, the change in leadership will be an opportunity to "maybe try something different," he said.

DARI will put together a six- to eight-person committee to discuss the search for Mr. Carmody's replacement.

"We're sorry to see him go," Mr. Thoms said, adding Mr. Carmody "has put his heart and soul into the city."

Mr. Carmody counts a number of successes in his tenure at DARI.

He thinks the partnership between the city and private sector has increased, saying it "wasn't very good in 1987."

The improvements in downtown, with new housing options and the creation of The Arts and Entertainment District is another improvement.

"The downtown has come a long way," he said. "It is a brighter place."
Dan Carmody was almost single-handedly responsible for Rock Island leading the way with it's downtown development and evolution into a thriving arts and entertainment district.

Prior to that, he not only owned the Rock Island Brewing Company, as the article states, but he owned and developed what turned out to be a string of Brewing Companies. Carmody bought a dilapidated building in a crumbling part of town, completely renovated it using largely salvaged material, got the business started, and continually improved it, eventually expanding into the building next door.

RibCo was always known for the great music it played on it's stereo, as well as the top-notch live bands it booked into the area.

After starting and managing RibCo into a very successful bar, where he was known as "Mr. Fun", or "The Steel Mustache" and was known to grab albums off the turntable when they got boring and fling them across the bar, shattering them against the wall, or, on one occasion, ran through the bar shooting off a fire extinguisher for no apparent reason, Carmody then used the same successful formula to buy and renovate older buildings in Clinton, Galesburg, Muscatine, and Iowa City, and created Brewing Company clubs in those locations before eventually selling the chain piece by piece.

He was also instrumental in creating the mall areas in front of RibCo and initiating the outdoor concerts which have become a staple of summer entertainment.

All one needs to do to appreciate all that Carmody accomplished for Rock Island is simply contrast it to other cities, notably Moline. While Moline's development was dominated by the narrow interests of Deere and a handful of wealthy property owners and investors, Rock Island opted for targeting a younger demographic and instituted programs which in addition to attracting clubs and bars, encouraged art galleries and other creative businesses. He also began another key component of the mix, developing attractive condos and other housing to attract younger and more affluent residents to the downtown area to ensure the vitality of the district.

Carmody along with Bob Yap and others created quasi-governmental entities to help buy and renovate the gems of Victorian architecture in the Broadway district and other neighborhoods, both saving the unique and beautiful homes and turning the neighborhood around.

Moline, during the same period, looked on mystified at Rock Island's successes, unable to think out of a conservative and profit motivated box. As a result, downtown Moline is uninspiring and composed of Deere projects holding little appeal to city residents as they're essentially a "Deereland" tourist trap for their clients. Then the ugly blight of the Deere office building was plopped down smack in the middle of the downtown, and a handful of other upscale boutiques and businesses skewed primarily to older and wealthy clientele have been created.

After "development" groups composed of real estate speculators and other short-sighted and greedy individuals directed the spending of city funds almost exclusively for tearing down blocks of old, historic buildings in hopes of building new and cashing in, Moline finally woke up too late to realize that renovating old buildings is both desirable and profitable. But by then, they'd torn nearly all of them down, resulting in an architectural mish-mash of older buildings, hideously bland and jarring newer buildings, other buildings from a variety of decades, and parking garages in downtown.

There's been an unending string of bar/restaurants opening and closing downtown, without only one managing to remain in business for any length of time. (In fairness, R.I. also has had many downtown businesses come and go.)

Perhaps most galling to Moline leaders who scratched their heads wondering how Carmody did it is the fact that Moline has had enormously more money available for their downtown development than Rock Island ever has, yet looks pitiful by comparison.

Dan Carmody has truly been a positive and creative force in Rock Island. Perhaps his strongest trait has been his willingness to try things. They didn't all work. And some were rather obvious failures, but he was willing to give it a shot. And Carmody was relentless, and despite the daunting goal of bringing downtown Rock Island back to life, and the many setbacks encountered along the way, he doggedly kept at it, constantly innovating, proposing, learning, searching for ideas from as far away as Europe, and making things happen.

Carmody's moving on will be a loss to the area, and Rock Island certainly has it's work cut out in finding someone as determined and creative as Dan Carmody.

Bullhorn Bull

Via James Wolcott:.
Let me add a parliamentary "Hear, hear" to Denis Hamill's sentiments:

"I wish I had a bullhorn to shout just how tired I am of hearing about how wonderful George W. Bush's 'bullhorn moment' was.

"It will go down as one of the worst moments in American history because when he stood on the smoldering ruins amid the dust of the dead it was through that bullhorn that Bush's Big Lie was first shouted to the world that the people who knocked down those buildings would soon be hearing from us.

"It might have been a fairly good, better-late-than-never moment if all Bush had done was use that bullhorn to launch a war on Al Qaeda. It might have escalated into a great piece of historical stagecraft if we'd just gone into Afghanistan and stayed the course on a noble quest to kill Osama Bin Laden and all his Al Qaeda cowards who murdered our people.

"But the words that echoed through Bush's bullhorn into the smoldering 16 acres of lower Manhattan, the words that resounded across the grieving outer boroughs and the sorrowful suburbs and the stunned globe, were but an orchestrated setup for a grander diabolical scheme."

"Now, with Bush's approval rating at 40%, with more than 50% disapproving of his handling of Iraq, the Security Moms and NASCAR Dads for Bush are silent. Even the Swift Boat Vets can't save Bush from drowning in his own ineptitude."

September 21, 2005

Pretty bad, even by Dispatch "standards"

I've just read an editorial by the Dispatch that is stunning in it's bias and lack of awareness.

It is a complaint, of sorts, about how they'd received "astroturf" messages supposedly from readers. They note that the Democratic party web site has the ability to allow supporters to electronically "sign" letters and get them automatically sent to the local media.

The editorial employs a snarky sarcastic tone to this, as if they're much too smart to fall for this sort of skullduggery.

But there's only one problem, and it stinks to high heaven.

That is the fact that the Republican party and many, many, right-wing front groups have been the pioneers in this sort of "astroturf" effort to help manufacture the appearance of grass roots support by making it very easy for people to contact local media.

The Dispatch seemed to be pretty proud of the fact that they went to the Democratic site and discovered how this worked. Why didn't they also try the Republican site? Too damned lazy? Did they think the Republicans are above such tactics? HA!

I've been a Republican "Team Leader" for several years now to see how the Republicans were utilizing the web for their organizing efforts, and boy, were they ever! The Republicans were literally light years ahead of the Dems on their online message and organization operations, and I noted it at the time. The Dems were way behind and only recently have almost caught up with the Republicans, though they're nowhere near as slick and lavishly produced.

Here's what you, as a "Team Leader" have offered to you. Your own page which lists automatically based on your zip code every single media outlet even remotely near you. Every AM station, every FM station, newspaper, or TV station imaginable, complete with contact names and info.

They've been inundating me with e-mails on the issues I reported I was interested in, (there's nothing quite as electrifying as seeing an e-mail from Ken Mehlman in your inbox. Ugh.) they tell you what the talking points and marching orders are and, by one click of the mouse, you can go to a page which then allows you to sign a message written by them and with another click, they'll deliver it to the media.

And, unlike the Democrats, the Republicans will PAY you to harass media to spread the message. You get "GOPoints" every time you call into AM radio or send a letter to the editor, or otherwise contact the media or others with Bush's talking points. You can then redeem these "GOPoints" for lame GOP goodies and trinkets sure to be prized by the loners with 50 guns buried in their back yard that is sucked into such efforts by the fact that a group actually allows them to belong.

How in the world could the Editors of the Dispatch feel noting that the Democrats have an ability for supporters to send "astroturf" messages to the media and/or congressmen and women is somehow worth noting, while blatantly ignoring the fact that the right not only does the same thing, but does more of it, has done it longer, and in far more sophisticated ways?

I can't imagine being more irresponsible as journalists, let alone editors, as the following editorial displays:
Editorial: Your opinion in your words
The Dispatch

When readers write, we try our best to get what they have to say in print.

But when they are merely used as conduits for an interest group's or a political party's views ... well ...

Since the Senate hearings on the confirmation of John Roberts as chief justice of the United States began, we have been inundated with electronic letters, many of them uncannily similar, some of them identical, and most of thgem "signed" by our readers. Through telephone confirmation (we call readers to ensure that they actually wrote the letters that were sent under their names) we found more than a few weren't even aware that they were sending a letter for publication. Others no doubt agreed with the anti-Roberts sentiment, but didn't submit their own thoughts in their own words. No wonder, the Democratic Party Web site and other Web sites on the issue make it quick and painless to get "your" letter published. Visit the sites, click through a couple of times, make some quick picks such as which newspapers you want to receive it and then choose some carefully crafted phrases (you can write your own, but why?), and voila!

Nevermind that the letter is the party's and not the person's. Who cares? We do.

We don't print such letters, if we can help it. Why? We already know what the leaders of the political parties think. We want to know what you think.

We make every effort to ensure that the letters you see here are written by the people who sign them, no matter what side of the issue they are on.

By all means, please tell us what you think.

In your own words. Otherwise, the effort is meaningless.
What about all the pro-Roberts messages they received? Did they not check that out? They say they care about astroturf. Were none of them automated? To print, "No wonder, the Democratic Party Web site and other Web sites on the issue make it quick and painless to get "your" letter published. Visit the sites, click through a couple of times, make some quick picks such as which newspapers you want to receive it and then choose some carefully crafted phrases (you can write your own, but why?), and voila!", is irreponsible, sloppy, and just plain bad journalism.

"...the Democratic Party Web site and other Web sites on the issue..." ???!!!
WHAT other web sites? Perhaps the other political party's? Why did they feel the need to only identify ONE party to smear? We deserve better than this.

Well then, this explains a lot

From the Dispatch/Argus, Sept. 20
Letter: Figge exhibit promotes positive image of Satan

First of all I want to commend you on a magnificent building. When I visited (The Figge Art) Museum, I was greeted by a very professional staff of volunteers. Overall it is a great first impression.

As I continued through your museum. I have to say that I am appalled at the exhibits that you have chosen for your top notch museum.

The Haitian Vodou Pantheon is, at best, the most blatant exhibit of Satan worship in public display I have ever seen, as I have been to numerous art institutes.

I want to tell you that what you have done brings curses not only on you and your institute, but on the Quad-Cities as a whole. In your pamphlet you state that voodoo has been misrepresented and has had government persecution at times. That is because people on the whole would not want to worship the dead and set up altars to the devil himself. That is what you have done in your establishment. The Word of God says in Ezekiel 6:1-7 that God will break down your high places and your idols and altars. In other words, He will bring destruction to the land because of the pagan and idolatrous things in our midst.

Your exhibit also contains an altar to Satan. I don't know what you were thinking but I am telling you that if you do not take that down, you are in line for judgment of the Only One and True God. If you will look at destruction in other places, it would give you a picture of what happens when devil worship (Voodoo) is embraced and accepted. I am saying that when a people practice this type of religion, God has to take His protective hand off of the area. God cannot bless this type of activity. I would strongly recommend that you consider removing this exhibit from your establishment. Tell the witch that you allowed to come and set up an altar to Satan to come and take it down and take it back to where she lives.

I am on a team of people praying for the Quad-Cities as a whole and we want to see God's provision on this area. With this kind of garbage blatantly displayed, you are hindering God's best for this area.

I pray that you will reconsider you decision.

Raymond Banks,

Rock Island
Hmmm. I wonder why the I-76 bridge is always backed up? Could it be...... SATAN???!!!!! Who knew? We're doomed, I tells ya, DOOMED! Repent now. It's only a matter of time before the Mississippi opens up and swallows this entire Sodom and Gomorrah into the bowels of hell.

I would like to ask Raymond (who, it should be noted, has been to numerous art institutes), just what geographical boundaries are involved here. Does this curse from God apply to say, Colona or Princeton? Or is God going to lift his protective hand only within the statutory boundaries of the five major cities in the Quad Cities? Since this devil worshiping stuff is in a museum in Davenport, will the wrath of God stop in the middle of the Mississippi? Will the Arsenal be cursed, or not? Can I move to Silvis and be spared this horrible callamity? Or would that be worse than becoming an eternal rottiserie? This religion stuff is tough Ray, help us out.

And the witch will probably charge double to come back and save us all too. Damn that Voodoo that you do so well!)

Octoberfest in Munich

You know, there's some nice things about Germany. What a great set of mugs.

A Bright Light in the Night

Just heard Bush cap off a press conference in New Orleans by saying, "We wanna see your vision so we can do a more better job."

I am not kidding.

Bush makes Brownie look over-qualified. He's looking and sounding even more pathetic than usual, and that's saying a lot. So pathetic in fact, that I even find myself feeling pangs of pity for the guy. But then I recognize his infinitely annoying combination of arrogance and incompetence and it goes away.

Mowen starts campaign in a lonely way

Dispatch/Argus photo by Jenny Butler

Standing at a shopping center he called an example of his dedication to creating jobs, Jim Mowen announced he was seeking the 17th Congressional District seat.

Mr. Mowen, of Rock Island, joins Brian Gilliland in the Republican primary race. Andrea Zinga, who ran as a Republican in 2004, has also said she is considering another run. The winner will challenge 12-term Democratic incumbent Lane Evans.

"As a Republican, I believe that lean, effective government coupled with stringent fiscal responsibility are the keys to a prosperous America," Mr. Mowen said. "As a father in a young family, I know that morals and values matter as we raise the next generation of leaders." Shorter version: I want to continue to slash government and starve it to death financially, I willl promise to pander to the "morals and values" crowd, which are code words for religious right.

Mr. Mowen, 43, was joined at the announcement, at Deere Plaza, by his wife, Shayo, and 2-year-old son, Drew. A St. Ambrose University graduate, he has worked in commercial real estate since 1985. He and four partners founded Premier Partners in 1997. Deere Plaza is a project of Premier Partners. Translation: I was actually involved in completing a real estate project. Vote for me.

As congressman, Mr. Mowen said, he would protect private property rights, advocate expanded oil drilling and renewable fuels to reduce fuel prices, support pro-life issues, support the 2nd Amendment, work to stop illegal immigration, and make a balanced budget a high priority. Shorter version: I'll support the rush to drill for oil on pristine land even though it will supply a fraction of a years worth of oil, I'll work my tail off to criminalize women who choose abortion for any reason, I'll make sure the torrent of guns flooding our streets will continue unabated, I'll make noises about stopping the unstoppable flow of immigrants without doing anything about it because my superiors in the Republican party need those illegals to make their millions. Likewise, I'll make noises about a balanced budget even though my own party has exploded the deficit to unimaginable record levels.

He said he would be Rock Island Arsenal's "biggest cheerleader and advocate." Shorter version: I'll flap my lips about it even though there's nothing I can do.

"I've spent a career creating jobs and I will continue doing that as a congressman," he said. "I'd like to bring some pride into the district. Translation: I'll steal Bush's tactic and stealthily smear my opponent by implying that he has destroyed pride in the area and I'll bring it back. Remember how Bush said he'd bring back integrity to the White House? Hope not.

"I don't think there a community in the district can say that it is better off than it was 23 years ago," he said. Translation: I hope no one points out that almost no area of the entire country is better off than it was 23 years ago. My own party has been in charge for a long, long time now. Hope no one notices.

He called the federal budget deficit a concern but said taxes aren't the answer, saying that in the past, low taxes boosted economic prosperity. Shorter version: I believe in "trickle down" economics even though it's harmed the poor and middle class and ruined the economy every time it's been tried, including now. I also believe in the Easter Bunny.

Mr. Mowen also vowed to abide by a personal "oath of honor," and not get involved in negative campaigning. He also said he would abide by Federal Election Commission fundraising rules.

The Friends of Lane Evans was ordered by the FEC to pay a $185,000 fine earlier this year for fundraising violations dating back to the 2000 campaign. Mr. Mowen said he wasn't taking a jab at Mr. Evans for his pledge to follow FEC rules. Shorter version: I'm more than willing to lie through my teeth in this campaign.

"It is not a dig, but lays out what we want to do," Mr. Mowen said, as his nose grew 3 inches. (OK, I added that last part.)

> MORE <

What did I miss?

Let's see... I take a very well deserved escape out west and return to find that, contrary to my admonitions, some dim bulbs have managed to litter comments with painfully childish scrawls, Governor black seems poised on the edge of a nasty scandal, Bush gets some humility scared into him and is trying in vain to reverse the fact that people are finally seeing through the chinks in his propaganda armor and realizing just how utterly incompetent he is and has been. He's doing his Iraq thing again, recklessly promising endless billions without asking for any more of the country than asking Boy Scouts to help where they can.
He's ripping off the very people who need help by limiting their wages for rebuilding projects, but not even considering rolling back the juicy tax breaks for the rich or considering raising taxes as a way to spread the burden of the recovery costs.

He's been driving this country into the ditch, and now he's veered into the swamp. But who cares? As long as he can hold on a few more years, it will be generations to come who will end up paying the costs of his blunders.

The wheels are coming off the big, bad, Republican machine. It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys. (and girls).

Crooked Bush henchmen are getting pinched left and right, and the rampant corruption surrounding this administration which has been covered up so efficiently all these years is finally oozing to the surface. Some members of the press are even standing on their hind legs.

We'll soon be treated to the queasy pleasure of watching fat rats fleeing a sinking ship. I for one, feel it's not a moment too soon.

What else is going on? What's on your mind?

September 16, 2005

Taa taa

The Dope is making a break for it again. Normal blogging will resume next week.

In the meantime, use this thread to discuss anything that's on your mind. Find solutions for all the problems of the world in my absence and we'll see what you've come up with when I get back.

And remember, play nice. Don't make me pull this blog over!

Robert's rules for 40 years?

With it all but assured that John Roberts will be confirmed as Supreme Court Chief Justice, what are we in for?

How do those of you who have read about or witnessed his confirmation hearings and other reports feel Roberts will perform as the chief and ultimate justice of the land? Will he prove to share the radically right views of Scallia and Thomas? Will he surprise us and actually be as open-minded and respectful of precedent as he assured the congress?

Doesn't it seem as though the confimation process is pretty short and inadequate when you consider that we're about to install a person as chief justice of the supreme court for as 40 years or longer? The person which will literally affect every one of our lives and the lives of our children, and the White House won't release most of his records, they hold a few hours of mostly meaningless theatre as confirmation hearings, and then we end up with a guy we know next to nothing about dictating how the consitution is interpreted for decades to come.

The Dems were effectively neutralized and put in a box, as if they all voted against Roberts, the White House would no doubt abandon any effort to choose a candidate at least slightly palletable to Dems for the other vacancy on the court. In other words, if they felt that Dems would all vote against anyone Bush puts forth anyway, they'd just send up one of their crack-pot radical rightists and get him confirmed anyway.

It's truly rather disturbing to realize that the Democrats really don't have any say in the matter anyway.

Will Roberts overrule Roe v. Wade? Will he continue to rule for corporations over individuals? Will he continue to rule against civil rights?

What do you think?

September 15, 2005

Responsive Government??

Can you call it a “public hearing” if no one is listening? It appears so in the Quad-Cities, at least in East Moline and Davenport.

It may have looked like a public hearing Tuesday at East Moline City Hall when more than 100 folks crowded City Hall to address the city Plan Commission, which didn’t appear interested in what they were saying.

The stated purpose was to consider East Moline’s annexation of some unincorporated land in Rock Island County. But Mayor John Thodos and all the folks jammed in the council chambers know the annexation is for a pork slaughterhouse. Still, city attorney Bill Phares said comments on the nature of the development weren’t welcome. This hearing was only about the concept of extending East Moline’s borders.

The folks who showed up don’t have conceptual concerns about town borders. They have very real worries about living next to a meat packing plant, how those pigs will get shipped in and what happens to the waste. They’re worried about changes to the Rock River flood plain where the plant might be built.

Lord knows the East Moline area could use some good jobs since the closing of the old Case-IH plant. That’s an open and frank discussion worth having with the East Moliners and those outside city limits whose property is closest to the proposed pork plant site. But that’s not what happened Tuesday.

The plan commission shut down any discussion of what this development might really be about, heard a virtually unanimous chorus of dissent, then approved the annexation anyway.

To ban or not to ban

A commenter in a thread below raised the fact that Moline is now debating a ban on all leaf burning in the city.

A Dispatch editorial is 100% behind the idea and reports that Ald. Dick Potter is the person pushing for it.
The effort to ban leaf burning, which continues to puff along in Moline, will get harder before it gets easier. But once a permanent ban on choking smoke is in place, the folks in charge will wonder why they didn't do it before. It would be easy to scoff at an 8-0 vote by aldermen last week to formally consider banning leaf burning, but such consideration really does represent progress in the inevitable trek to a leaf-burning ban. As we and others have noted, the nice thing here is that Moline doesn't have to reinvent the wheel. Examples of communities which successfully undertook this good government effort abound. The key will be making it as easy on residents and as inexpensive for taxpayers as possible. As Ald. Bill Adams, 5th Ward, said last week, "The only way to do it is to bite the bullet ... and put your money where your mouth is." Indeed. So cheers to another step taken in abolishing what Ald. Dick Potter, who is driving this effort correctly termed a "barbaric practice
Barbaric? Well, barbaric or not, what are your views on the issue?

While it's an annoyance at times, I feel it would be a huge inconvenience for many to enact a total ban. But we must keep in mind that there are many who have respiratory problems which make leaf burning season hell for them.

Also, if the city does enact this ban, it had darn well better improve the woefull leaf vacuuming efforts which have proven to be sporadic and inefficient at best.

The trucks have to drive to a rural farm in Coal Valley every time they get full, unload, then drive back into town to resume where they left off. Needless to say, this makes it next to impossible to make much progress, costs a LOT in fuel costs, and the city has to pay workers high wages for spending most of their time not doing anything but riding in a truck. Efficient? Hardly.

According to my conversation with city workers on the truck, the farm is owned by some crony of city officials, and rather than paying the city for the tons of valuable mulch and compost material, the CITY pays the guy to dump the leaves on his property. The whole thing smacks of inefficiency and a huge waste of time and tax dollars. The idea of providing leaf vacuums is a sound one and provides a vital service as an alternative to burning, but the way it is currently being done could stand some expansion and rethinking.

Clydesdales to be displayed in Moline

If you're a Bud man (or woman) or simply a fan of enormous and beautiful horses, downtown Moline is the place to be Friday.
The Budweiser Clydesdales will be in downtown Moline from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday.

They will arrive in the Moline city parking lot north of Bier Stube on 15th Street at 4 p.m., then begin touring the downtown at 5 p.m. before returning to the parking lot.

The public is invited to attend the event, hosted by Moline Centre Partners. Entertainment will include face painting for kids, a fun jump, caricatures, a live remote from B100, and strolling magician Mark Yeager.
It was not reported who gets to clean up after them, though Mayor Welvaert could burnish his image by doing so.

Sound, common sense advise

What Beydler says.
Three items are critical:

1. Get the hacks out of FEMA.

2. Make sure the $62.5 billion-and-growing in government relief money is well spent.

3. Re-examine the structure of the cobbled-together Department of Homeland Security.

Green Day at the Mark sends out best wishes to Bush

With a volcanic intensity and manic joy, Green Day electrified a near-capacity crowd of almost 10,000 with a brilliant, explosive concert at The Mark of the Quad Cities Wednesday night.

Boasting a set girded with hits from the band's current multi-platinum album, "American Idiot" and a generous array of familiar favorites from the act's previous 16 years of action, the show was nearly perfect in its execution.

"This next song is a big f--- you to George W. Bush," Armstrong screamed as an eardrum-rattling affirmation rose from the crowd and the band tore into the antiwar anthem "Holiday," generating a feverish, feral energy as the hit gathered momentum.

Make up your own captions

September 14, 2005

Where did the time go?

The Inside Dope quietly turns six months old today.

In what sometimes feels like six years of running this thing, I've experienced many great and many disappointing moments, but the common denominator was that they were all damn interesting.

It's been 212 days of serving up stuff here. I imagine it's kind of like eating Mom's cooking. Sometimes the stuff is acceptible, not bad. Other times something goes wrong and you're served some nearly unidentifiable, over-cooked, and nearly inedible mistakes, hard to chew, difficult to digest, and it leaves you with an upset stomach. But then occasionally Ma puts out a meal that's wholesome and satisfying in every way. I hope what you find here is appetizing enough to keep you coming back.

Thanks to those who've joined in for the ride. Your chair at the table is always waiting.

Rah! Yea! Goooooooo, Separation of Church and State!

A federal judge declared the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools unconstitutional Wednesday, [Wrong! The pledge itself wasn't ruled against, only the inclusion of the phrase "under God"] a decision that could put the divisive issue on track for another round of Supreme Court arguments.

The case was brought by the same atheist whose previous battle against the words "under God" was rejected last year by the Supreme Court on procedural grounds.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation "under God" violates school children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."

Karlton said he was bound by precedent of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2002 ruled in favor of Sacramento atheist Michael Newdow that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.

I know I am in a distinct minority, but I fully agree with and wholeheartedly support this decision. It restores my faith in an independent judiciary free from political pressure and dedicated to preserving the rights of the minority.

You will only hear that the pledge has been ruled unconsitutional, as this AP account repeats several times. EVERYONE will repeat this millions of times in the media.

But the fact is that this is a gross mischaracterization used to purposely mislead and inflame people. The entire focus of this case, the entire reason for the suit, the entire issue in the matter is the inclusion of "under God" in the pledge, NOT the pledge itself. The fact that they blatantly mischaracterize this issue really pisses me off.

It is NOT the pledge that was ruled unconstitutional per se. However, this will be the way it is reported incessantly, thereby causing people to assume that the court has ruled against a patriotic pledge being recited in schools based on it's patriotic sentiments, not, as is the case, on the fact that it induces children to recite a religious sentiment that they may not share.

While many of you having never known anything other than unquestioning acceptance of being a Christian since birth, and everyone you've ever known was supposedly Christian, it may be easy to have the attitude of "why take the phrase out?" It's not offensive to you or anyone you know, so you may find it offensive to take it out, or at the least, don't see the harm of leaving it in.

Though nobody asked, here is why I feel this ruling is correct, fair, and rational.

First, I don't feel that requiring kids who may be atheist or who don't call their particular "God", God, to recite "under God" is proper or constitutional.

The fact that people seem to have a hard time accepting is that religion should NOT be a part of government, nor public schools, other than to teach the various religions and their beliefs. Those who wish to have a religious component in their kid's education can, and do, send them to the religious school of their choice or simply rely on their church, mosque, or synagogue for their spiritual and religious schooling and worship.

The separation of church and state must not be allowed to be erroded, even slightly, as there are those who would work fervently to turn this country into a theocracy, including many in congress at the moment and many of the Bush appointed judiciary.

Secondly, while most of the public is likely unaware of it, the fact is that "under God" was not a part of the pledge until 1954. It was originally written in August of 1892 by Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and contained no reference to God or religion. It was amended a few times before a lobbying campaign by the Knights of Columbus resulted in legislation adding the phrase "under God" which was enacted on Flag Day, 1954. Our country got along just peachy without the phrase "under God" for 62 years and will certainly get along just fine without it again.

The phrase likely means less than nothing to the kids who must repeat it mindlessly every morning. Taking it out won't lead them down the path to pagan debauchery. To suggest so is frankly stupid and ridiculous. Parents are responsible for their children's religious teaching and lives, NOT the schools.

The case is simply a childish tantrum by those seeking to inject religion into government on all levels and impose their beliefs on others. Whether the pledge contains the phrase "under God" is irrelevant. While the phrase has never had any affect whatsoever on anyone's spiritual preferences or religion, it's the phrase's percieved indoctrination value that both makes it a clear violation of separation of church and state and makes it so precious to those who fervently WANT to indoctrinate children into the Christian faith. They do so by trying to argue that the United States is officially God's Own Country, that it is somehow "officially" a Christian nation.

The fact is that ours is one nation (read government) under the constitution, not under any particular God. The constitution guarantees that the people of this nation are granted the precious freedom to worship and believe in God as they please, or NOT to worship or believe in any God. This is a cherished freedom, one of the primary reasons millions flocked to this country. The founders purposely forbid a state religion from being established, as official state religions and being forbidden from worshiping and believing as they pleased was one of the main reasons many people fled to America. Those who seek to pervert or erode this crucial constitutional right are seeking to pervert the document in a fundamental way. The court wisely realized this and ruled accordingly.

Christian faith may be a great thing. You may believe in it with all your heart and soul. But the fact remains that you do not have the right to expect the state to impose it on others, nor to have any government sponsored institution require anyone to recite a pledge which contains the assertion that this nation is "under God". The fact is that all of her citizens are free to believe it's over, beside, below, above, or nowhere in the vicinity of God. If you're a rational person, you realize the reasons for omitting "under God" from the pledge are actually there to preserve religious freedom, not deny it, as protecting the rights of non-believers is defending the freedom of belief, the same right that protects everyone's right to believe as they choose. The removal of the phrase "under God" really makes no difference other than symbolically anyway.

But sadly, the entire country will get in an ill-informed uproar, happily led by politicians seeking to endear themselves with the fundy-right, and who will compete with each other to demonstrate more outrage than the next.

As I witness this, I'll be very sad for a country that can't grasp a rather simple intellectual idea. That freedom of religion means freedom from religion as well. And I'll watch sadly as the aggressive so-called religious right (which as is said, is neither) rushes to distort the issue and pervert it into an attack on Christianity, which is patently silly and outrageous.

I suggest that the republic will survive without children sleepily mumbling "under God" every morning, just as it did for nearly 170 years before it was placed in the pledge.

For an excellent review of this issue in the courts, see The Pew Forum page.