November 30, 2005

Woo hoo! Italian cuisine finally arrives in the IL Quad Cities

Dispatch/Argus photo by John Greenwood

I'm lovin' it! For far too many years there's been such a crying need for a good Italian restaurant on this side of the river that I almost considered opening one myself. Dare we hope the dream has finally come true?

The Brown Bottle restaurant has opened in the former "FIVE" location in downtown Moline, and it looks to fill the bill and then some.

The Dispatch/Argus has a good review here which notes such mouth-watering fare as their paesano bread...

Our server described the fresh-baked loaf as being about the size of two fists, but it actually was larger than that. Served with a giant bulb of roasted garlic, Parmesan cheese and olive oil, the bread was the perfect way to start our meal.

If you've never eaten garlic with bread this way, it's worth a try. (You even can do it at home.) First the chef slices off the top of the garlic bulb to reveal the cloves, then he pours on the olive oil and roasts the whole thing. Out of the oven, the cloves taste mild and spread just like butter. Delicious! (Although perhaps not the best appetizer choice if you're on a first date!)
The Dope's been doing garlic like this for years, which gives me the strength of 10 men. (well, strong breath at least.)

The restaurant is located where the defunct restaurant FIVE once was, and the review reports that the new owners haven't changed the decor much. It's hard to imagine that they haven't made the atmosphere a little more appealing than FIVE, which after all was as warm and inviting as a poorly lit operating room.

In addition to pasta dishes, the Brown Bottle also serves steak and prime rib, which ain't all bad either.

Salad? Sounds like they've got that aced...
My meal started with a house salad of mixed greens -- some of them downright spicy -- and The Brown Bottle's homemade Maytag blue-cheese dressing. This was the most creamy, mild blue-cheese dressing I ever have tried, and it was as thick as sour cream. (I was disappointed, however, to find just one big hunk of actual cheese in the mix.)

The menu says that all of The Brown Bottle's salad dressings are homemade, and according to the restaurant's Web site, the dressings have become so popular at the other locations that they're sold in pints.
They even offer pizza...
The 14-inch pie ($14.25 with two toppings) had an extra-crispy crust and a tangy -- not sweet -- sauce. It arrived piping hot and oozing mozzarella, and it was heaped with chunks of robust Italian sausage and slices of pepperoni. My companion, who is a certified pizza junkie, said it was one of the best pizzas he ever has eaten.
Desserts include brownie pie, tiramisu, spumoni, biscotti, pie and ice cream, and my fave, creme brule.

--Location: 1624 5th Ave., Moline. Make reservations at (309) 736-9288.

--Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily for lunch, 5 to 10 p.m. weekdays for dinner, 5 to 11 p.m. weekends.

--Dinner prices: appetizers, $5.95-$7.95; salads and soups, $3.95-$9.95; entrees, $12.95-$17.95; pizzas, $10.35 to about $15.40; sandwiches, $7.95-$9.95; desserts, $3.25-$5.50.

For complete menus for lunch and dinner, and to see what's offered at the bar, visit Carry-out orders are accepted.

The Times reports on the opening as well and provides some background info on the business.
The second-generation, family-owned restaurant quietly opened its doors Nov. 21, marking the fifth current —and only Illinois — location for the 33-year-old business. With four sister restaurants across eastern Iowa, the opening actually marked a return to the Quad-City market for The Brown Bottle, which had a restaurant in East Moline until the late 1980s.

The new Moline restaurant is located in the former FIVE restaurant in the Fifth Avenue Building in the heart of downtown. FIVE, which was a Manhattan-style dining establishment, closed in September 2004 after about 17 months in operation. The Landaus lease the 11,000-square-foot restaurant from building owner Rodney Blackwell, who had been a partner in FIVE.

Landau, whose parents Donald and Donnalee Landau founded The Brown Bottle in 1972 in Cedar Falls, Iowa, said most of the changes in the front of the house were to décor. The changes, he said, bring an Italian flair to go with the menu, which still is based on his mother’s original recipes and sauces. But in the back the house, an entirely new kitchen was installed.

FIVE had a lounge area that will be the first lounge for Brown Bottle. Eventually, Landau hopes to offer live musical entertainment of the calm, soothing variety. In addition to the Blue Lounge, the Moline restaurant has two private party rooms that can hold, respectively, 20-30 guests and 40-50 guests.

This will mark the third Brown Bottle for Dave and Gina Landau, who also own restaurants in Iowa City and North Liberty. His brothers, Jim and Chuck Landau, own the Cedar Falls and Waterloo restaurants. At one time, his parents had seven restaurants including one in East Moline. But when the farm crisis hit the midwest in the late 1980s, they consolidated into the four, he said.

Currently, [Landau] and his Iowa City general manager, Nick Zuehlke, are leading the Moline operation.

The restaurant has hired 30 people, but expects to be at about 50 employees when it is at full staff.
Welcome!! What took you so long??

Judy Baar Topinka to officially announce for Governor today

As noted by Yellow Dog Democrat on Illinoize.

Prognosticate away.

Of course it's not about looks, or how would you explain Candy Crowley?

A couple days ago, a commenter asked out of the blue, "Who is the hottest local newsbabe?"

Not feeling qualified to venture an opinion (I couldn't even name more than one or two anyway), I thought maybe I'd put the admittedly somewhat sexist question to you, the loving public.

I thought maybe I'd put up a poll, but in trying to find the names of these fine professional women, I discovered that between the four local stations, there are TWENTY-THREE females working as anchors or reporters. (WHBF could field a baseball team with theirs.) So much for that idea.

So pick your three favorites from all the contestants and list them in comments (order is not important).

Once the field is narrowed to the three top vote getters, we can vote on your favorite from that group for the soon to be coveted Inside Dope Quad City Female News Personality of the Year Award. A traveling trophy will likely asume a prominent spot on the mantle of the grateful winner.

Here's a list of the women bringers of news (and in one case, sports) of the Quad Cities. You can see their pictures and bios by clicking on their names. Their bios reveal some impressive credentials and insight into the gypsy life of these news creatures.

(click here and then click "News" to the left)
Kerry Phillips
Libby Allison


Sharon DeRycke
Marcia Lense
Paula Sands
Elizabeth Goodsitt
Abby Ross


Tambrey Laine
Katie Taube
Brandy Auterson
Nicole Collins
Kerry Hall
Nicol Lally
Carolyn Ryan
Jennifer Stagg
Meredith Wood


Michelle Aguayo
Barbara Dawson
Julie Sisk
Vanessa Van Hyfte
Karetha Dodd
Kelly Hessedal
Chris Minor

After your careful consideration, list your three favorites in comments. Don't let these fine women down by not voting. This is no time for voter apathy!

Note: These are all I could find on the station's websites. If I've omitted any, please let me know.

November 29, 2005

Dem state Rep convicted for playing musical addresses

As reported at Capitol Fax, Il state Rep. Patricia Bailey, who was elected to congress from the 6th District on Chicago's south side, has been convicted of three counts of perjury and two counts of forgery.

A story details the background, and contains this passage which I can't quite figure out...
In opening statements, Assistant Attorney Gen. Steve Nate said when Bailey first ran for the 6th District seat in 2001, she lived with her mother at 4217 W. Wells St. But after a redistricting, that address was moved to the neighboring sixth district, Nate said.
So... the 6th District is a neighoring district to the sixth? The story doesn't explain, but I assume that the redistricting left her address outside the sixth somehow, and apparently she used fabricated addresses, including one non-existant address and the address of a vacant lot, in filing candidacy papers and registering to vote.

God to Bush: You da man

(thanks to Wonkette for the headline)
You may have heard talk in the news lately veteran reporter Seymour Hersh's latest article in The New Yorker which reports Bush's messianic belief that, much like the Blues Brothers, he's on a "mission from God."
Current and former military and intelligence officials have told me that the President remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq, and that he is impervious to political pressure, even from fellow Republicans. They also say that he disparages any information that conflicts with his view of how the war is proceeding.

Bush’s closest advisers have long been aware of the religious nature of his policy commitments. In recent interviews, one former senior official, who served in Bush’s first term, spoke extensively about the connection between the President’s religious faith and his view of the war in Iraq. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former official said, he was told that Bush felt that "God put me here" to deal with the war on terror. The President’s belief was fortified by the Republican sweep in the 2002 congressional elections; Bush saw the victory as a purposeful message from God that "he’s the man," the former official said. Publicly, Bush depicted his reëlection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose.

The former senior official said that after the election he made a lengthy inspection visit to Iraq and reported his findings to Bush in the White House: "I said to the President, 'We’re not winning the war.' And he asked, 'Are we losing?' I said, 'Not yet.' " The President, he said, "appeared displeased" with that answer.

"I tried to tell him," the former senior official said. "And he couldn’t hear it."
Besides that disturbing insight into why the Bush era has seemed so surreal and divorced from reality, the piece details possible end games for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq and other fresh insights on the war on a tactic. It's a good read.

But how do you really feel Larry?

[Former Colin Powell chief of staff Lawrence] Wilkerson blamed Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and like-minded aides. He said Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because "otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard."

What's wrong with this picture?

We have two stories in the Dispatch/Argus about two recent arrests.
First we have the case of a Long Grove man exercising his NRA given rights.
A Long Grove man faces a dozen charges following a standoff with police at his home Friday night.

Scott County deputies were able to talk the man out of his house after he barricaded himself inside with a loaded AR-15 assault rifle, which he pointed at police.

Andrew J. Papp Jr. 55, of 14954 305th St., was arrested and charged with 12 felony and misdemeanor counts ranging from going armed with intent to aggravated assault on a child.

He was released from Scott County Jail Sunday after posting $60,000 bond. Another court date had not yet been set as of Monday.

Police were called to the house on a report of a domestic disturbance. They were told Mr. Papp had pointed a .357 handgun at his wife and displayed the gun in front of his children, according to Scott County Court records.

Police said Mr. Papp also hit his son, put the gun to the child's head and pulled the trigger. By the time deputies arrived, the woman and children were out of the house.

Four deputies surrounded the house, watching as the suspect walked through the house, peered out windows, and sometimes pointed the assault rifle at officers, Capt. Brown said.

Court records show police found four weapons in the house, two that were fully loaded.

While the incident ended without violence, Capt. Brown said situations like this are why the sheriff's office bought the assault rifles about a year ago.
Next up, a case from rural Sherrard.
A 23-year-old Orion man was arrested and was held on $75,000 bail in connection with an incident at a rural Sherrard home Thanksgiving night.

Charges in Mercer County Circuit Court had yet to be filed Monday against Lucas E. Jahn, address unknown. Mr. Jahn is scheduled to appear in court today.

The Mercer County Sheriff's Department and the Illinois State Police were called at about 4:30 p.m. to a cabin near Camp Creek Road, southeast of Sherrard, according to a police report. The report stated Mr. Jahn was confronted by the owner of the property and a struggle ensued.

Mr. Jahn reportedly displayed a knife and fled from the property on an all-terrain vehicle. Police searched the area with helicopters and planes and used thermal imaging cameras to try to locate Mr. Jahn. The Sherrard Volunteer Fire Department assisted in the search. Seven hours later, Mr. Jahn was arrested by a Mercer County Sheriff's deputy.
Helicopter AND planes? Wow. Thank God we've spent untold hundreds of thousands of dollars to turn our local law enforcement into small armies, navies, and air forces. Sounds like they probably spent $20,000 on wages, fuel, support costs, etc. and used about a million dollars worth of equipment just trying to find this kid.

But aside from that, this is what struck me about these two incidents. In the first case, a man allegedly aims a .357 magnum at his wife, then hit's his son, jams the huge gun against the kid's skull, and pulls the trigger. Then after they manage to escape, he holds police at bay with an over-powered assault rifle before surrendering. And the cops find more weapons, some loaded, in the house.
And this guy is now OUT of jail after posting 10% of a $60,000 bond.

Some 23 yr old evidently trespasses, and when a neighbor threatens him, he waves a knife at them and then takes off on an ATV, and they in effect call out the Marines to search for him. And he's locked in jail on $75,000 bond.

Hmmm. Endanger at least 3 people's lives, beat your kid, terrorize your family, attempt murder and traumatize your son for life, theaten police officers with an assault rifle, resist arrest, etc. etc. etc. and you're out the next day on a $15,000 lower bond that a kid who waved a knife around at someone and then ran away?

I know that bond is based on flight risk, among other things, and Mr. NRA probably had a better lawyer, but what am I missing here?

Dishonest, Reprehensible, Corrupt ...

Frank Rich:
"We're not going to sit by and let them rewrite history," the vice president said of his critics. "We're going to continue throwing their own words back at them." But according to a Harris poll released by The Wall Street Journal last Wednesday, 64 percent of Americans now believe that the Bush administration "generally misleads the American public on current issues to achieve its own ends." That's why it's Mr. Cheney's and the president's own words that are being thrown back now - not to rewrite history but to reveal it for the first time to an angry country that has learned the hard way that it can no longer afford to be without the truth.
Entire piece here.

Moline School District to raise tax levy

Property owners in the Moline school district will pay more in taxes in coming months if the tentative levy the school board adopted Monday night becomes official.

The board set a tentative levy of $38.1 million, up about $2.5 million from this year's. The main reason for collecting more from local taxpayers is to "help maintain a consistent revenue stream" for the district, said chief financial officer David McDermott.
The board will have a public hearing on the tax levy at 6 p.m. Dec. 12 at the district's administrative offices, 1619 11th Ave., Moline. The board is expected to take a final vote on the levy during its Dec. 20 meeting.

Informational meeting about factory hog lots

This was just posted in a thread below and I felt it deserves wider notice. If anyone is interested or concerned about the planned factory hog log proposed for the Barstow area, this seems like an excellent opportunity to educate yourself about it's impact.

Public Hog Plant and Confinement meetings set for this week:

Saturday Dec 3, 2005--
10am to noon
Riverside Life Center
2420 41st St
Moline IL

2pm to 4pm
Eldridge Public Library
200 N 6th Av
Eldridge IA

Attend these FREE public informational meetings to learn how these businesses will impact the community and our environment. They reach out 80 to 100 miles from origin when built!

See some experts talk about it - not just politicians.....
Robert F. Kennedy's "Waterkeeper Alliance", a group dedicated to preventing water pollution, has long opposed these "CAFOs," or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.
Since 1999, Waterkeeper Alliance has focused on the environmental and social devastation caused by large factory farms (“CAFOs,” or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). CAFOs, which cram thousands of animals into warehouse style buildings, create one of the greatest sources of water pollution in the country. CAFOs contribute to the pollution of 129,000 river miles, 3.2 million lake acres, and more than 2,800 estuarine square miles.

What does this mean to you? In many states, a summer day at your favorite spots for fishing, swimming, or canoeing can be ruined by water pollution caused by CAFOs. Massive algae blooms, fish kills, high levels of bacteria in the water – all of these things are caused by CAFO pollution. And it’s not just on the surface - drinking water from wells may be contaminated with nitrates from CAFOs, causing serious health problems.
Where do "YoungRIDem" and Sen. Jacobs stand on this issue? One would presume that their professed love of and desire to protect our waterways as evidenced by their wanting to give handouts to a company which may or may not stem the Asian Carp infestation would assure that they're firmly opposed to these factory hog farms. I wonder.

Open thread

I gotta go see a man about a dog... so I won't be able to post for a few hours.
Take this opportunity to tell us what you're seeing in todays news or what's on your mind. The Canadian elections, say. ha!

Anyway, have at it, and behave yourselves.

Freeport paper provides further coverage of Asian Carp situation

I've done a lot of carping about the recently announced proposal from Sen. Mike Jacobs to provide $900,000 tax dollars to Shafer's Fisheries, Inc. Some commenters have attempted to defend the proposal but have fallen far short, in my estimation. (see comments here if you like to read very long comments)

The facts as they're known are these: A few species of fast growing carp, collectively referred to as Asian Carp due to their origin, are threatening to wreak havoc in area rivers, particularly the Illinois river. They consume vast amounts of vegetation, causing massive damage, and also eat food sources critical for other species of fish at a voracious rate threatening to crowd them out. The Silver Carp has the rather spectacular trait of leaping out of the water like a missle when stimulated by boat motors, posing the odd chance of a boater being taken out by a carp.

They're a nasty invasive species which can really mess up or destroy the ecology of rivers, and if they spread to the Great Lakes, they would eventually dominate them as well, and there would be little if anything that could be done about it.

State and federal funds have been already been spent to construct an electronic barrier across a stategic stretch of river near Romeoville in order to prevent the movement of these pests into Lake Michigan, and they are seeking more funds to make the barrier permanent.

I recently received a link to a very good piece about this issue in The Journal Standard Online, a newspaper covering the Freeport, IL area from, shall we say, a source very close to the Senator.

It quotes the Senator, a Shafer's Fisheries official, and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife manager and provides a few new tidbits about the issue.

What it doesn't do is provide any information that suggests Jacobs' measure to give this $900,000 gift to Shafer's is justified. Read the piece here.

What we learn is:

The guy from Shafer's agrees that the fish are a threat and urges us to believe everything we hear about the fish.

Getting smacked by a huge carp is a "serious health question."
"If you get hit with one of these fish, it's the equivalent of being hit by a bowling ball," said state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-Moline. "It presents a very serious health question."
Importantly, Shafer's is ALREADY set up and processing the carp and selling the by-products.
"It's a very low-cost protein source," said Mike Schafer, owner of Schafer's Fisheries Inc. Last year, his company shipped 1 million pounds of Asian carp, and he expects to sell 50 percent more this year.
Then to the relevant passages...
Jacobs is now poised to turn the terror into an economic boon.

"I want to find a neat boutique way of putting local people to work and keep them working," Jacobs said. When the legislative session opens in January, Jacobs will propose a public-private venture and request $900,000 in state funds for Schafer's Fisheries, the largest wholesale fish supplier in the Midwest.
OK. First I'd like to know how simply GIVING a company nearly a million dollars of tax revenue is a public/private partnership. I may be missing something here, but isn't that a public gift? A loan of start-up funds might be a public/private partnership. But an outright giveaway? Can someone please explain where the "partnership" is in this?

Harvesting and trying to thin the populations of this destructive species is in the public interest. No question there. But Shafer's is ALREADY harvesting these carp and turning them into profitable by-products. By expanding their effort and harvesting and processing more fish into more products, Shafer's will be positioned as the ONLY business atop what supporters of Jacobs' proposal have called a "multi-billion dollar industry." So what's the public's interest in giving them nearly a million increasingly scarce tax dollars? Investors will be lining up to get in on this, and banks would unquestioningly find this a sound business loan. Why give them all this tax money?
"We have to find an end-use for this fish," Jacobs said. "I think that this is a home-grown problem and this is a home-grown solution."
Ha! "Find an end use."? There already IS an end-use and his friends the Shafer's are producing it. And I for one, don't like this "home-grown" solution which seems as if it was "grown" in a booth one night at some restaurant.
Schafer, who recently started production of an organic fish fertilizer, is considering several options to create and fill the market for Asian carp including a protein extraction plant, a frozen fish pattie and vacuum-packed carp.

"In America," Schafer said, "the carp is looked at as trash fish. But in Europe and the Oriental countries, it's not looked at that way."
This is really great news. Seriously. It isn't often that a commercial solution to a public problem presents itself so clearly. I can't think of a better example of a "public/private" partnership that a company which is able to establish a world-wide market, make a profit, pay workers, pay taxes, and while doing so, at least have some positive impact on, if not solve, a public problem. What could be better?

In this instance, we're truly fortunate that such a situation exists. But why a politician has to volunteer to give away our tax money into the happy arrangement is unknown.

Jacobs will introduce legislation to include the Asian carp on the bidding list of approved vendors for prisons.
I'm not 100% clear what this means. Any guesses? It appears that he's proposing to feed carp to already demoralized prisoners. Wouldn't that run astray of the cruel and unusual punishment clause

Citing river activist Chad Pegracke.
At first, Jacobs was skeptical, but he said that if Pegracke tells a senator there's a problem, "You can take it to the bank as a problem."
That's an unfortunate euphemism, but let's hope that's true for Shafer's...without Jacobs volunteering our help.
As Jacobs has learned more about the Asian carp crowding out other fish from their terrain, multiplying and growing quickly as it moves, he has become convinced this will be one of his key issues.
Jacobs doesn't expect any opposition, except possibly in reaction to the expense. He said he would also support any effort to have the Asian carp listed as a Title Three food source for humanitarian food aid worldwide.
Well, he's exactly right on the first point. I doubt anyone objects to the goal here, or that something should be done. And he's certainly right to realize people would question the need for this givaway. But if Shafer's wants him to help clear the way for a larger market for their products, that's fine and a legitimate effort.

But I saved the best for last...
He said an Asian carp will make an appearance with him during a press conference at the Illinois State House so that people won't have to imagine the culprit.

"I know this is an odd political issue," Jacobs said. "This is not really a sexy issue, but it is highly important."
I won't even comment on this in hopes that you might.

Lest defenders again attempt to change the issue, I again state the two questions that I feel must be asked and answered on this issue:

Why should state taxpayers shell out $900,000 very scarce tax dollars to a private company to expand an existing for-profit venture when said company could easily rais the money from private investors and/or banks?
IF the state has to get involved at all, which I maintain it doesn't, and if as you say this industry will be prosperous and self-sustaining, why must this be an outright GIFT to this company, rather than a loan as it properly should be?

Drinking Liberally: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Drinking Liberally is an organization which describes itself thusly:
An informal, inclusive Democratic drinking club. Raise your spirits while you raise your glass, and share ideas while you share a pitcher. Drinking Liberally gives like-minded, left-leaning individuals a place to talk politics. You don't need to be a policy expert and this isn't a book club - just come and learn from peers, trade jokes, vent frustration and hang out in an environment where it's not taboo to talk politics.

Bars are democratic spaces - you talk to strangers, you share booths, you feel the bond of common ground. Bring democratic discourse to your local democratic space - build Democracy one drink at a time.
I'd drink to that. How about you?

Amazingly, there's no local chapter established as yet. If anyone is interested in starting one, the how-to is found here.

Let's discuss it here and get this ball rolling. I think it would be a fun time, and I'm optimistic we can avoid throwing chairs, pulling hair, or decking each other.

I think it would foster a little more brother and sisterhood amongst local Dems, progressives, or others to the left side of the political spectrum. It's hard to really loath someone who buys you a drink, at least for a few hours.

And if someone just bores the life out of you or annoys you to the point where you want to scratch your own eyes out, you could always migrate to another part of the room or cloister yourself in a booth where they can't get to you.

I bet with a little social lubrication, things would go well. A plus would be that it wouldn't be an organized party event, thus it wouldn't be in a florescent lit room with folding chairs, stale carrot and celery trays or donuts and day old coffee from styrofoam cups, which oddly, since this seems to be the preferred forum for Dem meetings, isn't very condusive to discussion or camaraderie.

Any ideas for a good meeting spot? Preferably someplace affordable and comfortable.

Ideas? Volunteers? Let's see if we can get this going.

November 28, 2005

Our "Headusher", still a rebel without a clue, gets a smackdown at Capitol Fax

Headusher, our favorite pest and such a freakishly knowledgable and committed Jacobs supporter as to be easily confused with Jacobs himself, has posted countless times on this blog.

When I finally started to delete some of his off-topic and frankly, looney comments, he'd respond with volleys of clueless protests demanding the right of "free speech" and lumping me with every repressive dictator in history, invoking the thousands of service men who've died to ensure our right to free speech, saying such "censorship" was like soviet Russia, that it was un-American, and other similarly bizarre notions, which would be funny if it weren't so warped and it wasn't apparent they were serious.

Try as I might, I just couldn't get it through poor Head's head that this modest blog isn't a government run forum, that I ran it, and that gives me the right to publish what I felt acceptible and appropriate and to not publish what clearly isn't.

Well, today old Head decided to try his peculiar take on freedom of speech on a post announcing the official slating of Tom Dart for Cook County Sheriff on Rich Miller's Capitol Fax blog.
At 11/28/2005 7:32 PM, theheadusher said...
What is it with blog owners that censore [sic] comments and supporters of candidates that they don't want to hear from? I for one think censoring speech is un-American.

Our government doesn't have the right to censor web content, but blog owners like Rich Miller and theinsidedope do? What gives?

Though the answer to HeadUsher's question should be self-evident to a child, someone, not myself, set him straight...

At 11/28/2005 7:49 PM, Anonymous said...

Hey moron!

And I'm talking to you, theheadusher.

What prevents the government from censoring but allows Rich Miller to?

The First Amendment. Not to mention the concept of private property and editorial control. Do you think newspapers should be compelled to publish anything you want them to? Are you that stupid?

[Well, considering the anger Jacobs showed towards the Dispatch for simply reporting his "Rosa Parks" moment... could be. On both accounts.]
Start your own blog and get everybody who's anybody in Illinois to read it. Oh, wait. Rich used money, hard work, political accumen, reporting and good sense to accomplish that. Clearly areas you're lacking in.

I'm a bit ashamed that I wasn't able to get this basic concept across to poor HeadUsher, though it wasn't for lack of effort. I could have saved him making an ass out of himself somewhere other than here.

I sincerely hope that the Capitol Fax commenter has succeeded where I've failed and given the Head of all Ushers a tough-love lesson in why he doesn't have a right to spew irresponsible or vicious stuff on blogs any time he sees fit, which from experience is often.

The commenter proposed that Head start his own blog. Now it's said that he's gathered some paid flacks to do just that. Can't wait.

It should be a welcome addition to the blogosphere and obviously, they'll going to welcome and allow any and all comments. After all, to not do so would dishonor all the service men and women throughout our history who gallantly paid the ultimate price to ensure our sacred right to post over-the-line drivel on any blog we feel like.

I, for one, am looking forward to it.

Another Republican brings "honor and dignity" to office

Randy "Duke" Cunningham is/was the chairman of the House Intelligence subsommittee on terrorism and human intelligence. (feel safer?) Cunningham was a typical Republican macho guy, always blustering for a beligerant foreign policy and never meeting a multi-billion dollar defense contract he didn't love.
Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax charges, admitting taking $2.4 million in bribes in a case that grew from an investigation into the sale of his home to a wide-ranging conspiracy involving payments in cash, vacations and antiques.

Cunningham, 63, entered pleas in U.S. District Court to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud, and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004.

In a statement, prosecutors said Cunningham admitted to receiving at least $2.4 million in bribes paid to him by several conspirators through a variety of methods, including checks totaling over $1 million, cash, rugs, antiques, furniture, yacht club fees and vacations.

The case began when authorities started investigating whether Cunningham and his wife, Nancy, used the proceeds from the $1,675,000 sale to defense contractor Mitchell Wade to buy a $2.55 million mansion in ritzy Rancho Santa Fe. Wade put the Del Mar house back on the market and sold it after nearly a year for $975,000 -- a loss of $700,000.

He drew little notice outside his San Diego-area district before the San Diego Union-Tribune reported last June that he'd sold the home to Wade.

Cunningham's pleas came amid a series of GOP scandals. Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas had to step down as majority leader after he was indicted in a campaign finance case; a stock sale by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is being looked at by regulators; and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff was indicted in the CIA leak case.

November 27, 2005

What the....?

Noticed on Roger Ailes....

Evidently there's a big trend in upside-down Christmas trees...
The centerpiece of holiday decorating is more often being inverted _ hung from the ceiling or mounted bottom-up on the wall _ by those looking to save space, more prominently display pricey ornaments or simply distinguish their Christmas tree from so many millions of others.

Upscale retailer Hammacher Schlemmer sold out of its $599.95 pre-lit inverted tree, a 7-foot evergreen that rises from a weighted base, before the end of October. Online tree seller has sold out of two of its four upside-down models. Tree importer Roman Inc. sold out, too.

"This has turned into a worldwide deal," said Bill Quinn, owner of Dallas-based ChristmasTreeForMe.

Odd as it may sound, the trend may have originated long ago. Legend has it that a seventh-century English monk went to Germany and used the triangular shape of the fir tree to explain the Christian belief in a Holy Trinity. Converts came to revere the fir and by the 12th century, the story goes, it was being hung from ceilings at Christmas.

The Selling of the Governor

With his re-election campaign looming, Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration has built an unprecedented image-shaping machine, sending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer-funded promotional letters to constituent groups, urging agency directors out into the field and grading the media's coverage of events.

A key part of the Democratic governor's operation involves about two dozen state workers who compile weekly progress reports on how well they promote the administration and help shape news coverage.

Those workers represent Blagojevich's new Illinois Office of Communication and Information. It is largely composed of public information officers who once would have worked at individual state agencies. They are now combined into boiler-room style operations in Springfield and Chicago that give greater control to the administration in shaping its message.

Though the combining of agency spokesmen was billed as a cost-saving move, it also has raised questions about whether the administration's motives are focused more on political marketing than on distributing information to the public.

Arsenal programs trying to help 1,060 workers facing unemployment

The Rock Island Arsenal has begun implementing the federal base closing law that took effect two weeks ago, including opening an office aimed at providing affected workers with a wide range of services to help plan their futures.

Arsenal officials, as well as local workforce development offices in Iowa and Illinois, have banded together to offer services to the nearly 1,600 Arsenal workers who will be affected via an office called I-FORCES.

The center provides assistance in career, retirement and financial planning, as well as relocation advice, among other services. Even somebody considering starting a small business can get training.

“They’re really a very important resource for us,” said Steve Hall, director of the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center. The center is a joint effort of the Arsenal, Illinois’ Partners in Job Training and Placement and Eastern Iowa Job Training.

The Base Realignment and Closure Commission, or BRAC, voted in August to ship the Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, the northwest regional office of the Installation Management Agency and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service off the island. Also, some work at the Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center will be transferred. Nearly 1,600 jobs will be lost as a result of the changes.

With the planned transfer of the 1st U.S. Army headquarters here, the net loss is 1,060 jobs, according to the Quad-City Development Group.

Since Congress did not intervene, the law took effect Nov. 9. Since then, implementation steps have been taken.

Arsenal officials said last week they have submitted plans for carrying out the changes up the chain of command and are awaiting approval, which may not come until spring, said Alan Wilson, the garrison manager responsible for base operations.

By law, the federal government has six years to implement the changes and it likely will take much of that time to fully phase in. However, workers are being told they shouldn’t wait to plan their futures.
The impending move of hundreds of Arsenal employees presents a different kind of challenge for area workforce development offices. Often, they deal with workers who face the sudden loss of their jobs. This time, with a long implementation phase, workers have the luxury of time, even if the changes are unsettling for people who in many cases have spent their working careers on the island.
Historically, only 15 to 25 percent of workers go along when military commands are relocated as the result of the BRAC, Wilson said.

Nearly a quarter of the Arsenal workforce will be eligible to retire with full benefits by 2010, but the average age of the base worker is 47. And while most of those workers will be eligible for some kind of retirement benefit, there still will be a significant number who likely have to find some way of making ends meet.
Sometime next year, the workforce will be surveyed about its future plans, which will give Iowa and Illinois a basis on which to apply for federal funding to pay for worker retraining and other services.

Currently, the I-FORCES office is being paid for by federal funding the local workforce development offices receive. I-FORCES is an acronym meaning Installation — Finding Opportunities, Resources, Careers and Employable Skills.
The Quadrennial Defense Review sets policy guidance for the military, and some people believe it played a role in reversing a 1991 BRAC decision that would have moved a predecessor of TACOM to Huntsville, Ala.

November 26, 2005

TV star, that's what I aren't

Today, whilst out gathering provisions for Dope Manor, I was approached by a reporter and cameraman from a local TV station (which shall remain nameless) as I approached my car in the parking lot.

This really comes as no surprise, as I'm incredibly telegenic and naturally, they'd spotted me from some distance and were immediately drawn to me as a fine and intelligent specimen from which to get some pearls of wisdom to grace their broadcast.

The reporter pleasantly explained that they were out trying to get reaction shots from people about a proposed factory hog lot operation to be located near Barstow, IL.

Being myself, I certainly felt that I should be able to come up with some sort of opinion on the matter, and I struggled for a few moments to try to come up with one.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I came up with nothing. Zip. Nada. I tried to debate the issue out loud with myself to come up with something, but after a minute or so, I had to sheepishly admit to them that I really couldn't give an informed opinion and lord knows I didn't want to add to the glut of uninformed opinion already on TV. I wanted to help them out, but I just couldn't.

I'm certainly opposed to these massive, concentrated hog lot operations. From what I know, they're nasty, in more ways than one. They crowd hogs into almost unconscionable conditions, and produce a dangerous and staggering amount of toxic waste, which leads to possible ground water pollution, and the area for miles around being subject to waves of unimaginable stench.

They literally build good sized lakes to hold this stuff, if you can imagine. The environmental argument against these things is pretty substantial.

And on top of that, it's a way of producing hogs which is really pretty Orwellian and utterly removed from any natural process of raising animals.

But the reporter pointed out that it would also bring jobs, and tax revenue to the area as well.

I was trying to figure out how to articulate these things but couldn't come up with anything on the spot. It didn't help that I was also simultaneously wondering if I had anything stuck in my teeth, if my hair was properly coiffed, and whether to lower my voice, fix the camera with a steely gaze and appear serious, or play it light with some disarming wit.

It was hard for me to speak out against it when I wasn't going to have to suffer the consequences of being it's neighbor. And without knowing more facts about the proposal, I didn't feel I could spout off one way or the other.

What I'd like to know is, given these sketchy details, what do you think about this proposal?

Politician's credo?

Just came across this typically brilliant quote from Mark Twain and was struck by how spot on it applies to some politicians I've come to know.
I don't mind what the opposition say of me, so long as they don't tell the truth about me; but when they descend to telling the truth about me, I consider that that is taking an unfair advantage.
Well, Mark, I didn't know that before, but I surely know it now.

Upcoming Democratic events

Mark your calendars.. it's a busy season for events.

Veterans United for Evans event

Please join Bill Albracht, Bill Allen, Fred Bolio, Jim Britt, Brian Burklund, Earl Burkland, Frank Coyle, Al DeCap, Dean Dick, Harold Dick, Ben Dickson, Paul Egan, Ed Gaudet, Jerry Guinn, Todd Harlow, John Hernstrom, P.J.Hymes Jr., Jake Jacobs, Don Johnston, Red Jackson, Jim Kerr, Maurice Kerckhove, Maurice Kitchen, Dennis Laird, Mike Malmstrom, Art Martin, Tim Martin, George Nickolas, Andy Ortiz, Jim Peavey, Harry Perez, Joe Pollock, Harold Reddick, Gunther Terronez, Jeff Terronez, Jerry Thompson, Charles Vandesampel, and other Veterans in the Community
in honoring
Congressman Lane Evans

Sponsor: Veterans United for Congressman Lane Evans
When: Tuesday Nov. 29th
Where: V.F.W. Post 1303 3715 9th Street, Rock Island, IL
Time: 5:30 p.m - 7:30 p.m.
Cost: $10 individual, $50 patron, $100 sponsor, $250 host

Mike Boland's 8th Annual Barbecue/Fundraiser

Where: Boland home 3658 1st Street, East Moline, IL
When: Saturday December 3rd
Time: 1-4 p.m.
Cost: $25 individual, $250 friend, $500 sponsor, $1000 patron

A little taste of summer in December.

R.I. County Democratic Christmas Party

For Elected Democratic Officials, Candidates, Precinct Committeemen and Friends of the Democratic Party

Invited Guests: Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Barack Obama, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Congressman Lane Evans

Hosts: John & Mary Jane Gianulis
Where: Town & Country Lanes, 3636 11th Street Rock Island, IL
When: Wednesday, December 7th
Time: 5-7:30 p.m.

Free admission, Free beer, Free wine, Cash bar, Free food, Live music

17th District State Central Committee Christmas Party

Where: Moline American Legion 1623 15th Street, Moline, IL
When: Wednesday, December 14th
Time: 5-8:00 p.m.

Door Prizes, Gifts, Photos, Santa will attend, Free Food and fun

NOTE: Not one of these parties contacted The Inside Dope to promote their events. Information found from other sources.

November 25, 2005

Judge shares The Dope's view on Kolb verdict

As John Beydler notes, former judge John Donald O'Shea has written an opinion piece for the Dispatch/Arguse which lays out essentially my view on the issue of the Kolb verdict, though much more eloquently, needless to say.

Though my arguments were irrationally labeled as "fervent support" for the hold-out juror in the case, and it was suggested that I had practically committed the crime myself for holding my view that there was no reason to form a lynch mob just yet, it's nice to see that someone who knows what he's talking about agrees with me on this issue.

November 24, 2005

And in conclusion, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Who's THE most boring politician ever? Who makes your eyes roll back in your head every time you hear them drone on? Who makes watching your fingernails grow seem exciting by comparison? I'll throw it open to the national scene as well, past or present. Try to explain your reasoning why as well.

Thanksgiving in Iraq, this time without Bush posing with a plastic turkey

I can't count the number of times I've heard Republicans and conservatives adopt the whine that the press only reports the bad stuff about Iraq. Why don't they report all the good stuff we're doing over there, they lament, as if the war isn't really that bad, and that if we'd only be told about the postives, we'd all see that the death and madness were all worth it. It's truly as if they're begging, no, DEMANDING to be told pleasing fairy tales and are downright indignant at having to deal with the grisly reality.

Well, here's a story that pretty much answers that question best.
A suicide attacker steered a car packed with explosives toward U.S. soldiers giving away toys to children outside a hospital in central Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 31 people. Almost all of the victims were women and children, police said.

In all, 53 people were killed in bombings and gunfire across the country, including two American soldiers who died in a roadside bombing near Baghdad. The U.S. military also reported the deaths of four American troops on Wednesday.
How can you report the good when death, uncertainty, and madness is never more than a few steps or seconds away?

Dart has edge for Cook County sheriff

Though this is a Chicago race, the discussion about it has been intense and interesting. A post on the race elicited nearly a hundred comments at Capitol Fax.

Tom Dart is a very capable guy with an impressive resume and track record, including being Mayor Daley's campaign manager. Dart served as a Cook County prosecutor and state representative and wanted to run for state A.G. in the last election but was shunted aside when House Speaker Madigan decided to place his daughter in the office.

Dart then ran for state treasurer against long odds with the Quad City's own Porter McNeil serving as his press guy. Dart lost to the very popular Judy Baar Topinka and then was ignored while other's got plumb appointments. Dart eventually ended up as chief of staff to Cook County Sheriff Mike Sheahan, who recently announced he was not going to seek office again, which in turn sparked the flurry of speculation about who would emerge as the front-runner for the office.

As noticed on Amy Allen's "Obiter Dictum", the Sun Times reports:
Cook County sheriff hopeful Tom Dart said Wednesday he has more than 70 percent of the weighted vote needed to secure the endorsement of the Cook County Democratic Central Committee when it meets next week.

"Those are just the people that I've spoken to personally," Dart said. "We feel pretty good."

Dart said Mayor Daley and Cook County Board President John Stroger "have been very helpful."

"The unions -- I've talked to them," Dart said. "They are supporting me. . . . We've got a lot of momentum. People see that we've got it together."

Dart, 43, is the chosen successor of Sheriff Michael Sheahan, who stunned the local political world Monday when he announced he would not seek re-election. Dart, a former state representative from the Southwest Side's 19th Ward, is Sheahan's chief of staff.

Have a great Thanksgiving

I'd like to personally wish all of you turkeys a very Happy Thanksgiving.

To quote an old Steely Dan lyric,
Love your mama,
Love your brother,
Love 'em till they
run for cover.

And if you're still conscious after all the gobbling, or if being forced to share the same general vicinity as some of your family members is making you question their sanity... or yours, then here's an open thread to keep you distracted.

Perhaps you could tell us what you're thankful for. Maybe your dinner was great. Tell us what you had and why it was so delicious, or how it was so bad the dog wouldn't eat it.

Share the weird stuff your cousin did or said, or how your Aunt had one or two glasses of wine too many and started crying and bringing everyone down. You know, that kind of fun holiday stuff that makes you want to say, "Who ARE these people?"

Maybe you burned down your entire block trying to use your new turkey fryer or something exciting like that. Anything you feel would be amusing or interesting, share it here. Gab like your life depended on it.

Only one rule. No politics!

Bonus points for anyone who can name the title of the Steely Dan tune the lyrics are from. No fair looking them up online.

Jacobs rides to the rescue on Asian carp eradication

As families gathered for Thanksgiving across northwest Illinois, the main topic of conversation for young and old at the table this year wasn't Iraq, taxes, bird flu, or the Bears. It was who in the world could we depend on to step forward and create a public/private partnership to protect us from Asian carp. What was the use of living if it was in a world dominated by these souless fat jumping bastards.

Well, fear no more. Senator Jacobs, with his finger on the pulse of the electorate, has stepped into the breach to propose carp related program activities.
State Senator state Mike Jacobs says he is anxious to get something done about the problem of the Asian carp that now infest many of Illinois waterways.

The Moline Democrat says that while the invasive fish are an ecological nightmare, they could be the source of new jobs and other economic benefits for the state.

Jacobs says that when the legislative session opens in January, he will propose a public-private venture and request 900 thousand dollars in state funds for Schafer's Fisheries, the largest wholesale fish supplier in the Midwest.

Schafer's, which has branches in Fulton and Thompson, recently started production of an organic fish fertilizer. The company is also considering several options to create and fill the market for Asian carp including a protein extraction plant, a frozen fish pattie and vacuum-packed carp.
Mmmmmmm Vacuum-packed carp, it's not just for breakfast anymore.

Some carp have escaped the southern fish farms and made their way north along the Mississippi River and its tributaries, and could soon reach the Great Lakes. An electric barrier south of Chicago, which gives the fish a non-lethal jolt, is designed to prevent them from entering Lake Michigan.

Asian carp, which often leap out of the water, can grow to more than 100 pounds.

As filter feeders, they're affecting the Illinois River food chain by eating plankton needed by native fish.

The silver species which leaps from the water makes boating dangerous when the large fish crash into boats, hitting people and damaging equipment.

They grow quickly, have no natural predators and won't bite a hook. One fish can produce 2.2 million eggs.

Some experts believe the electronic barrier installed to keep them out of the Great Lakes has come too late.
From the U.S. EPA:
Federal and state agencies completed construction of an electrical fish barrier as a demonstration project to study the effectiveness of preventing species migration between the River and the Lake. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed the temporary electronic dispersal barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Romeoville, Illinois, at a cost of approximately $2.2 million. It was activated in April, 2002.

In late October 2004, construction will begin on a second, more permanent barrier. The new barrier, scheduled to be completed in February 2005, stretches two rows of electrodes across the canal approximately 220 feet apart. The electrodes pulse DC current into the water, causing fish will turn back rather than pass through the electric current.

The cost of this permanent barrier is $9.1 million. These funds are 75% federal and 25% non-federal. The State of Illinois has committed $1.7 for the non-federal share.

So the state and federal government have a barrier in place which it going to be made permanent at a cost of over $10 million dollars all together. Is handing a private company nearly a million bucks to harvest the raw material they'll then process and make a profit on really in the public interest?

Having private interests harvest this invasive species is a fine idea. It's win-win. Someone like Shafer's can harvest the fish or buy them from independent fisherman, and then process the fish into various products and, with good management, make a profit and expand their business and create a handful of jobs in the process.

But where I'm confused is, why does Shafer's, which I'm sure is a fine company, need nearly a million bucks of our money to do this? If they need start-up capital, shouldn't they go to their banker like everyone else?

If the state were paying them simply to eradicate the carp and say, bury them or something as a means of protecting the fisheries and waterways, then that would be one thing. They'd need to be paid to cover their costs. But this proposal isn't about getting rid of a potentially harmful invader species. That should be able to be accomplished in the free market without taxpayer funded subsidies.

Shafer's is going to process the carp into potentially profitable by-products. Why shouldn't they pay for the raw materials for their business like every other business in the country, or world for that matter? Yet Jacobs is pointing to his proposal to hand them nearly a million tax dollars as if it's a great accomplishment for which we should all be grateful.

As long as someone says the magic words, "public/private partnership", and "jobs", are we supposed to just swallow that it must be ok and we shouldn't ask exactly how many jobs, at what pay scale, will be created and what we're getting in exchange for our nearly one million dollars? The question should be asked, how much is Jacobs proposing we pay per job created.

What gives? Somebody straighten me out here as to why Jacob's proposal is good for anyone but Shafer's and perhaps the few lucky people who may get one of the added jobs. And don't say it will get rid of carp. Thankfully, with several commercial uses for carp byproducts, that could be accomplished in the marketplace without public dollars.

What do you think?

November 23, 2005

Rock Island Ald. Brooks' son arrested in Davenport on stolen car charge, fleeing police.

The son of a Rock Island alderman was arrested in Davenport Tuesday for allegedly driving a stolen car and then running from police, according to court records.

Terry M. A. Brooks II, 18, of 1320 12th St., Rock Island, was being held at Scott County Jail Tuesday afternoon on $10,075 bond. Police said he was arrested for second-degree theft, interference with official acts and driving while revoked.

Rock Island Ald. Terry Brooks, 1st Ward, said he's not responsible for his son's actions. "His actions have nothing to do with me. As an alderman, what he does is not a direct involvement with myself."
Huh? "What he does is not a direct involvement with myself."???!! Oh nevermind, I think we know what you mean.

Obama to open branch office in Quads

As reported at John Beydler's "The Passing Parade", word has leaked that Obama is planning to open an office in the Illinois Quad Cities.

Any "between jobs" or "underemployed" wonks or wonkettes ought to jigger your resumes and go for it. Here's a chance to catch some of that Obama cache.

Question of the day

When are Rita Cosby's testicles finally going to drop?

November 22, 2005

Land of Linkin'

I loved Eric Zorn's headline so much I decided to "borrow" it.

On Zorn's "Change of Subject" blog at the Chicago Tribune, he makes mention of Capitol Fax's Rich Miller launching a sort of one-stop Illinois blog stop with the clever name "Illinoize". Miller's idea was to ask several Illinois bloggers to submit posts of interest to one central site. It untilizes the trend in aggregating or providing sites which glean top stories from disparate sources.

Though it's in a round-about, 2 degrees of separation way, I never thought the humble Inside Dope would appear in the Trib. I think I'll feel good about it anyway.

Bush goes to Mongolia to get as far from D.C. as possible.

"Heh heh.. I never met one a you mongoloids before. Hell, before I got to be pres'nit, except for those benders in Mexico I'd never been out of the country."

Bush's visit to Mongolia, the first by any president, was to thank Mongolia, a member of the "coalition of the willing" for sending 120 troops to Iraq.

Kind of pathetic when you think about it.

But say what you will about Bush, he'll always be the first U.S. president to visit Mongolia.

Did Bush want to bomb al-Jazeera?

PRESIDENT Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar, a "Top Secret" No 10 memo reveals.

But he was talked out of it at a White House summit by Tony Blair, who said it would provoke a worldwide backlash.

A source said: "There's no doubt what Bush wanted, and no doubt Blair didn't want him to do it." Al-Jazeera is accused by the US of fuelling the Iraqi insurgency.

The attack would have led to a massacre of innocents on the territory of a key ally, enraged the Middle East and almost certainly have sparked bloody retaliation.

A source said last night: "The memo is explosive and hugely damaging to Bush.

"He made clear he wanted to bomb al-Jazeera in Qatar and elsewhere. Blair replied that would cause a big problem.

"There's no doubt what Bush wanted to do - and no doubt Blair didn't want him to do it."

A Government official suggested that the Bush threat had been "humorous, not serious".

But another source declared: "Bush was deadly serious, as was Blair. That much is absolutely clear from the language used by both men."

Yesterday former Labour Defence Minister Peter Kilfoyle challenged Downing Street to publish the five-page transcript of the two leaders' conversation. He said: "It's frightening to think that such a powerful man as Bush can propose such cavalier actions.

"I hope the Prime Minister insists this memo be published. It gives an insight into the mindset of those who were the architects of war."

Bush disclosed his plan to target al-Jazeera, a civilian station with a huge Mid-East following, at a White House face-to-face with Mr Blair on April 16 last year.
al-Jazeera headquarters were bombed in both Iraq and Afghanistan, killing one of their reporters. The U.S. has said it was accidental in one case and maintained there were insurgents firing from the building housing al-Jazeera in the other. It is widely believed that both assertions were preposterous.

al-Jazeera, as revealed in the superb documentary "Control Room", is an independent and responsible Arabic news channel.

If Bush indeed wanted to bomb their headquarters in Qatar, a U.S. ally, it's insane.

Since the story broke, the Mirror has had the British equivalent of the Attorney General threaten them with charges if they revealed further details of the memo. Does that sound like something that's false or made up, as the White House says it is?

Rep. Fritchy mulling race for treasurer, troubled by Mangieri

From Fritchey's blog:
So by now, I guess that, even though I have been trying to make a decision quickly and quietly, it's no secret that I have been weighing a run for the Treasurer's office, (and no, this post is not a going to be a pronouncement one way or the other-very soon though), so I read with some interest Rick Pearson's article today discussing the fact that with Judy running for Governor, the race has a whole new dynamic to it.

What surprised me in the article was the flippant tone of Knox County State's Attorney Paul Mangieri's comments. It's one thing to have an air of confidence, as you should, even if you were tapped to pitch because there was nobody left on the bench. But it doesn't strike me as smart politics to gamely take a reporter's bait, and in so doing, deride "Chicago liberalism" (is he talking about the Speaker?) or more so, "the courage of the convictions" of myself or others by not getting into the race at the time of slating. If he doesn't get that the race is wholly different now than it was, he is missing something. And I don't know if that is a quality that I am comfortable with in any of our candidates.
Fritchey refers to a Rick Pearson article in the Trib on the jockeying for Treasurer.

Chance to make your views known on Moline's proposed property tax, sewer rate hikes

Residents have the chance tonight to speak for or against proposed property tax and sewer rate increases.

Moline City Council's public hearing on the 2006 property tax levy is to start at 7:45 p.m. The proposed property tax levy of $12,935,000 sets the property tax rate. If passed, the rate will increase by 5 cents next year. The levy represents a 7.25 percent increase over last year.

The proposed increase would raise an additional $335,000.

The property tax levy also is set for first reading before council. In most cases, council votes on ordinances at the second reading to give the public a chance to comment.

Also due a first reading tonight is a proposed sewer rate increase.
The proposed 8.2 percent increase would annually raise an additional $200,000 to $250,000 earmarked for the city's $1 million a year sanitary sewer pipe replacement program.
The Council agenda can be viewed here.

The Moline City Hall is located at 619 16th Street Moline, Illinois
Phone: 309-797-0434

Sorry about the graphic... I couldn't resist.

Good news. Deere stock drops from $1.41 to $0.96 a share.

How can that be good news? Well, for Wall Street it is. It's like Deere got beaten to a pulp in a ball game, but at least they beat the spread.
Deere's fourth-quarter earnings slid 35% from last year, as modest decline in sales combined with a program to scale back manufacturing volume.

The farm and construction equipment maker earned $232.8 million, or 96 cents a share, in the quarter, compared with $356.7 million, or $1.41 a share, last year. Net sales fell 3% to $4.49 billion. Analysts had been forecasting earnings of 79 cents a share on sales of $4.53 billion, according to Thomson First Call.

In its equipment division, operating earnings were $224 million in the latest quarter, down from $449 million a year ago. Deere cited lower manufacturing volume and shipments in its agricultural division and higher warranty costs. On a reported basis, equipment sales in the U.S. and Canada declined 2% in the quarter.

Bush was right!!

We're a bit rough on Bush Jr. around here, and he's having a hard time these days, what with people finally beginning to come out of their mass hypnosis, a prosecutor that's not in their pocket poking around the White House, and a decorated hawkish Marine saying enough is enough and having the nerve to actually say the Emperor has no clothes.

So in an attempt to be more "fair and balanced", here's a chance for anyone and everyone to point out what Bush has gotten right.

This should be a piece of cake, after all, he's been in office for nearly 6 years now.

He won office promising to be a "compassionate conservative", surely there's a long list of things he's accomplished which has benefitted those in need or at risk, the very young and the elderly. Surely there's instances of great success in domestic issues which have made our society stronger, healthier, and better educated.

His economic record must surely contain something which can be pointed to with pride as raising the quality of live for all and further spreading financial opportunity to more people.

Certainly there must be things you could point to where he's expanded rights and freedoms for the American people and efforts made to combat racism and prejudice towards more equal opportunity for all of America's citizens so they can better themselves, have a shot at the American dream, and contribute to a more prosperous and free citizenry.

His foreign policy must contain at least a few great accomplishments for making the world a more peaceful and stable place, or at least strengthening our aliances and relationships with countries, peoples, and cultures around the globe.

It should be a cinch. Use extra paper if you run out of room.

In appreciation for ......?

Former Mayor Stan Leach recently had a plaque dedicated to his work as mayor. It's located near the fountain at Bass St. Landing and represents the gratitude of those who made or stand to make a bundle on the work. Meanwhile, Leach leaves a city in deep debt and facing very difficult cuts in services.

This tribute to Moline Mayor Stan Leach recognizes over 20 years of service to the community and his leadership in the revitalization of Moline's historic downtown.

His continued support of Renew Moline and the public-private partnership helped turn a riverfront once called Moline's backdoor into a flourishing front door that is the pride of the city.

The sculptures, depicting children fishing in the Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn era, reflect his vision for this former riverboat landing and his love of education, history, and the river.

Mayor of Moline 1993 - 2005
Dedicated November 17, 2005
Thanks for the public/private stuff Stan, and my banker thanks you too.

So far, this "flourishing front door" looks a lot like a group of high-end businesses and expensive residential projects occupying all the prime riverfront property in downtown.

There's no easy public access, or even a view, of the river in any of the development around Bass St. Landing. Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer wouldn't know what the hell happened with Leach's "vision" for the riverfront. Leach's love of education, as evidenced by his several years of teaching high-schoolers how to make copper and silver trinkets if they decided to show up for class, and his love of history, reflected in the fact that there's not a shred of anything reflecting Moline's river history in it's downtown development aside from the self-erected shrines to Deere & Company's history and the fact that the expensive signage and decorations feature a paddlewheel and a ship's wheel, must have gotten lost somewhere along the way.

After decades of decline and stagnation, it is nice to see new buildings, new development, and hopefully, new life for downtown Moline.

But the fact remains that Moline has always had a remarkably large amount of money for downtown development compared to other Quad City towns, yet they couldn't muster anything until the past few years, and remarkably ended up in deep debt.

While public/private partnerships aren't inherently bad or undesirable, the fact that this development relied on it too heavily, in my opinion, is reflected in it's rather souless character and the fact that the general public seems to have been an afterthought in the planning. That's a shame.

Should all Moline residents share the gratitude expressed by the plaque? What do you think?

Note: I just spotted and corrected a rather embarassing typo. I'd written that there was "no easy pubic access". I regret, and am amused by, the error.

42 years gone

In Memoriam
May 29, 1917 - November 22, 1963

Now they lay his body down
Sad old men who run this town
I still recall the way
He led the charge and saved the day
Blue blood and rain
I can hear the bugle playin'

We seen the last of Good King Richard
Ring out the past his name lives on
Roll out the bones and raise up your pitcher
Raise up your glass to Good King John

November 21, 2005

Bush war doomed

Eugene Robinson keeps it real in the Washington Post:
The administration is losing the public debate because of its many missteps and failures, but also because of its insistence on conflating the war in Iraq with the larger "war on terror." Does anyone understand what "war on terror" means? The country was attacked by a murderous association of Islamic fundamentalists led by Osama bin Laden. Last we heard, he was still alive and well, probably in some cave in northwestern Pakistan. That's a long way from Iraq.

The president says that Iraq is a test of our nation's resolve, that anything less than victory will confirm the enemy's view that America lacks the stomach for a fight. But "stay the course" doesn't play as a strategy when the course seems to lead nowhere. What is victory in Iraq? When will we know we've won? When the simmering, low-level civil war we've ignited sparks into full flame and somebody takes over the country? When a new government in Baghdad declares its eternal brotherhood and friendship with Tehran?

The mess that George Bush and Co. have created in Iraq doesn't have an unmessy solution. Murtha's plan -- just get out -- isn't really attractive, but at least it's a plan. The saying goes that when you're in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging. But the president, like the optimistic kid in the old joke, just keeps burrowing deeper into the pile of manure, even though by now we can be pretty sure that there's no pony down there.

Thanks to Atrios for the catch.

Booming Republican economy spreads to Detroit

General Motors Corp. Chief Executive Rick Wagoner today said he will close 12 facilities and eliminate 30,000 jobs in the biggest round of cuts in more than a decade.

The world's largest automaker will idle or reduce operations at nine manufacturing sites and several non-manufacturing facilities

GM will close assembly plants in Doraville, Georgia; Lansing, Michigan; Oklahoma City; Spring Hill, Tennessee, and a car plant in Oshawa, Ontario. The automaker will shut down engine plants in St. Catharines, Ontario, and Flint, Michigan. GM will also reduce shifts at plants in Moraine, Ohio, and a second car plant in Oshawa.

Toyota, by contrast to Wagoner's plan to cut plants, is adding plants in North America and has released cars this year such as a redesigned Avalon sedan targeted at people who might otherwise buy GM's Buick Lucerne. Toyota plans to open a factory for Tundra pickups in San Antonio next year and a plant for the RAV4 sport-utility vehicle in Woodstock, Ontario, in 2008.

The Toyota City, Japan-based carmaker has said it plans to take 15 percent of the global auto market in the next decade, rising from about 12 percent now.
GM can be expected to make workers pay for the company's losses...

[Wagoner] may have to spend his bargaining time getting deeper health care concessions. As Wagoner shrinks the company, he has to spread the company's massive retiree pension and health care costs over a smaller fleet of cars sold. That means he will have to go back to the union for deeper health care cuts than he got last month.

In November, the union agreed to pay larger premiums on retiree health care, saving GM $1 billion in cash annually.

Wagoner could demand more health care cuts in 2007, when the current labor pact expires. But he may have to go back the UAW even sooner, McAlinden says: Wagoner has taken a huge step toward fixing his troubled company, but his work is far from over.
See ya later people. Good luck out there. Maybe you can work for Toyota. But at least the Bush tax cuts should keep you and your kids warm at night.

While Republicans are telling us that the economy is in fine shape, and Wall St. players and investors welcome news of huge job slashes and screwing employees out of health care and pension benefits as it will lead to further profits, or at least minmize any losses, the fact remains that the middle class is getting screwed in a thousand ways and the economy as a whole is heading into the ditch.

But the Republican party is so devoted to the wealthy investor class that it simply doesn't care. In the face of rampant unemployment, falling wages and rising cost of living, they hand out more goodies to these wealthy investors, heedless of the fact that if this trend continues, it could lead to economic disaster.

THIRTY THOUSAND well-paying jobs with benefits are now vanished, communities devastated with the ripple affect driving small businesses under, crime rate rising, local tax base depleted, and a whole host of problems attending it. And all the Republicans are concerned about is how GMs stock is doing.

Cheney argues for permanent war

Vice President Dick Cheney just completed an address to the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute in which he predictably mouthed mostly slogans and appeals to patriotic calls for how tough we are, how great the troops are, and how we'd "lose" somehow if we didn't continue to send troops to their deaths.

In his usual attempt to scare the hell out of the rubes, he falsely implied that if U.S. troops were pulled back, Osama bin Laden would then rule the country.

One phrase was notable when he said, "We will not retreat in the face of brutality, and we will never live at the mercy of tyrants or terrorists."

Isn't continuing to send our resources and human capitol to be targets for insurgents and to be killed on a daily basis doing just that? Isn't the U.S. "at the mercy" of tyrants and terrorists to a greater by virtue of our invading Iraq, the very thing Cheney feels we must continue indefinitely?.

Cheney et. al. are doing all of this in our names as U.S. citizens. Our economy is at dire risk from the simply staggering deficits this administration and the Republican congress has run up, and the costs of this war against a tactic is bleeding the country white, straining our military to the breaking point, and destroying our reputation around the world. And all along, Bush has called for no sacrifice from Americans whatsoever, only telling us to keep shopping and buying Hummers, and continuing to fight for ever larger tax cuts to those making over $200,000 a year.

As a result, everyone in this country who makes less than that is directly impacted in one way or another, in the Republicans gutting student aid, food stamps, school funding, and on and on. The direct result is higher local taxes, cutting school programs, reduced services, increased pollution, unsafe drugs, destroying our basic freedoms and the bill of rights, and thousands of other effects. And perhaps most egregious, saddling future generations with such mammoth debt that they will have to suffer even more cuts in government services and assistance.

Aren't we most certainly living "at the mercy" of terror right now, and precisely because of Republicans/Bush/Cheney/
Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz/Pearl, and the rest of the violence first crowd?

I invite readers to read the transcript of Cheney's remarks and see how many times they can spot ironic statements that apply more fittingly to their administration.

Please feel free to read it and offer your reactions.

November 20, 2005

No Exit Strategy

The Leader of the Free World

THIS ya gotta see.



Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is "The Most Influential Man in the World," according to Esquire magazine.

The magazine has designated him as "the most powerful agent of change in the world" despite his lack of electoral standing and the fact he was laid low by a heart attack ahead of last year's presidential election.

The magazine highlights Clinton's accomplishments in its December issue, which goes on newsstands on Thursday, profiling the world's "Best and Brightest" men and women.

Since leaving office, Clinton has been so active that his post-presidency amounts to "a third term" for the Democrat who held the White House from 1992 to 2000, the magazine said. He has tackled global issues from AIDS, poverty and global warming to the recovery from last December's Indian Ocean tsunami.

Harkin walks the populist walk, forces Pitt to converse with actual little people.

Thanks to an alert reader for bringing this to my attention.

From the National Journal Hotline:
Lost in the fizz of yesterday's Hill bedlam was a quiet visit paid to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) by actor Brad Pitt.

When Pitt's team first requested the meeting with the Iowa senator, they laid down some conditions: clear the office. Don't introduce Pitt to anyone. Don't talk about the visit ahead of time.

But we're told the senator didn't take kindly to being told what to do in the confines of his own office.

So when Pitt, sporting black hair and a bushy beard, showed up around 2:00 pm, every available member of the Harkin staff -- even if they were busy -- was arrayed around the office. Harkin proceeded to introduce them to Pitt, one by one. "He got the personal introduction, along with their function and everthing else," says someone who was there.

When they did manage to speak privately, Pitt and Harkin discussed Africa and trade issues.

Republicans attempt to turn Public TV into Bush TV

Presidential adviser Karl Rove and Kenneth Tomlinson, then chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, discussed creating a "conservative" talk show and adding it to the public television lineup, the organization's top investigator said.

Kenneth Konz, inspector general of the nonprofit company that oversees government funding of public TV, said in an interview yesterday that Tomlinson and Rove exchanged e-mails on programming and that Tomlinson also wrote to Rove about "shaking up" the agency and recruiting Republican staff.

In a report two days ago, Konz said Tomlinson broke federal laws and internal rules by hiring corporation President Patricia Harrison, a former Republican National Committee co-chairwoman, based on her Republican ties. The report discussed the e-mails but didn't identify Rove as one of the people involved.

Tomlinson is the guy who waged a war to get Bill Moyers and his show NOW off the air. Moyers left, but NOW is still one of the best, most informative long-form news shows on television.

Tomlinson paid a buddy with no experience in the area $10,000 to watch NOW and report any instances of the dreaded "liberal bias". Hell, I watch it every week. I would have done it for half that.

The Murtha statement and the Republican freak-out

If you're wide awake, you'll be hearing a lot of rhetoric about Rep. John Murtha's recent call for a plan for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. In order to know exactly what is being talked about, read Murtha's actual statement.
"My plan calls:

  • To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.

  • To create a quick reaction force in the region.

  • To create an over-the-horizon presence of Marines.

  • To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq.

"This war needs to be personalized. As I said before, I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.

"Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our obligation, to speak out for them. That's why I am speaking out.

"Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the U.S. can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. It is time to bring them home."
It should be noted that Murtha has made it clear that he's not calling for the troops to be withdraw recklessly or all at once, as the Republicans shamelessly suggest, but rather a measured and phased withdrawal over perhaps 6 months time. It also is not calling for leaving the middle east entirely, but rather withdrawing to perhaps Kuwait or other spots where, in the event they were needed, troops could be deployed back into Iraq within two days time.

Daily has several video clips of the uproar in the house over Murtha's statements.

Murtha's heartfelt and truly moving comments on the floor of the house can be viewed here. If you can spare the time, it's worth hearing.

Rep. Jean Schmidt's nasty attack calling Murtha a coward can be seen here.

Ms. Schmidt: "A few minutes ago I received a call from Colonel Danny Bop, Ohio Representative from the 88th district in the House of Representatives. He asked me to send Congress a message: Stay the course. He also asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message, that cowards cut and run, Marines never do."

After the mics were cut for 10 minutes, Schmidt returned to the floor to say:
"Mr. Speaker, my remarks were not directed at any member of the House and I did not intend to suggest that they applied to any member. Most especially the distinguished gentleman from Pennsylvania. I therefore ask for unanimous consent that my words be withdrawn.

Ms. Schmidt recently won office by narrowly defeating an Iraq war veteran.

Murtha's appearance with Chris Matthews on Hardball can be viewed here.

The shameless stunt attempted by Republicans led by Duncan Hunter forced a vote on a counterfeit resolution calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq. The Republicans had the nerve to actually try to re-write and distort Murtha's proposal.

More outrageous is the Republican explanation for this stunt was that Murtha's proposal was sending the message that the U.S. would "cut and run" to our enemies and our troops. The fact is that it is the REPUBLICANS in the house who by interpreting Murtha's measure in that simplistic and erroneous way were loudly projecting EXACTLY that message to the troops, all for a cheap political stunt.
Needless to say, Democrats voted no to this sham proposal, as it bore only passing resemblance to what Murtha had proposed.

And of course, it also completely avoided forcing the Republicans to debate the issue. This is the standard Republican response to the debate on Iraq. Attack the messenger, distort and lie about the message, and pull cheap stunts.

As usual, the shameless Republican slime machine immediately set out to demonize Murtha ala the Swift Boat attacks. Again from Daily Dissent, who notes a commenter at Joshua Micah Marshall's TPM who offers this observation,
I was not the least bit surprised by the attack on Murtha (remember how they attacked Kerry). I'll bet you a dollar that the Democratic response (if there is one) will be a) unorganized (from Biden through Dean), b) incoherent (or at least internally inconsistent), c) slow, d) measured, and e) cerebral. All the wrong things to do. What they need to do is show some blood and gore, use a couple of veterans, and ask the question -- is this worth it? If it is, why are the families of Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Delay, Hastert, Rumsfeld et. al. not on the front lines? As we say in Marketing, an anecdote is worth a thousand data points.
Typically, Kerry, Reid, and even Nancy Pelosi have already thrown Murtha under the bus and not stood with him.

Your thoughts on how Dems will or should respond?

If you catch this in time, Murtha is also appearing with Fat Tim on Meet the Press this morning.

November 19, 2005

No plan other than sacrificing lives to appear tough

Joshuah Micah Marshall sums up the Bush "plan" for Iraq.

Glen Poshard assumes presidency of Southern Illinois University

Glenn Poshard, a former congressman and one-time Democratic candidate for governor, has been selected as the new president of the 35,000-student Southern Illinois University system, SIU’s board of trustees announced Friday.

After the public announcement at the university’s flagship Carbondale campus, Poshard said he couldn’t think of a better job opportunity.

"This is what I want to do," said Poshard, who assumes the post on Jan. 1 and will make a $292,000 annual salary. "I’m here and I want to spend the rest of my career here."
Poshard, who served five terms in Congress and was a member of the state General Assembly before that, got a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from the school in 1970, a master’s degree in educational administration in 1974 and a doctorate in administration of higher education a decade later.

After losing the gubernatorial race to Republican George Ryan in 1998, Poshard served four years as vice chancellor at the Carbondale campus before stepping down from that post last year.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich had named Poshard to the board of trustees in January 2004, then reappointed the White County native now living near Carbondale to a second term that was to expire in 2011.

Jury instructions explained

The Dispatch has a report explaining the intricacies and facts surrounding juror instructions.
Jury instructions in Sarah Kolb's murder trial couldn't have been any clearer, Rock Island County State's Attorney Jeff Terronez said Friday.

"Every month, every week across the state a jury's given these instructions. To say the instructions are confusing would say every other jury has been duped," Mr. Terronez said Friday.

But, he said, the instructions could seem "intimidating and confusing" when dealing with such a heavy load as the emotionally charged death of Adrianne Reynolds.

"All in a span of 15 minutes, they are given all the instructions of the law and they are told to figure it out," he said. "I deal with the instructions on a regular basis, so they are clear to me."

The jury instructions came from the Illinois Pattern Instructions, or IPI, approved by the Illinois Supreme Court. Attorneys for both sides argue to the judge which ones should be given to the jury before it begins deliberations.

The jurors were given 30 instructions on the law regarding how testimony and evidence should be viewed, what the state had to prove on each charge and the definitions of each charge.

Jurors sent at least eight questions to the judge on wording used in the instructions, including definitions of the terms "presumption of innocence" and "intent"
It also provides clarification on the issue of whether someone dropped the ball in explaining the jury instructions, which resulted in the jury being unaware that they could find Kolb guilty on the charge of concealing a homicide while not reaching a verdict on the other charges.
A few jurors questioned said the panel unanimously agreed the state proved Ms. Kolb was guilty of the concealment charge. Their decision wasn't pursued and Mr. Terronez, nor the jurors interviewed, could explain why.

The jury foreman — reportedly the lone holdout on the jury — said the jury instructions weren't clear they could file a guilty plea on the concealment charge and be hung on the others.

Mr. Terronez told jurors they could reach a verdict on one charge and not the others during his closing arguments. Judge Teros told jurors that before deliberations began, he said.

"They don't have to listen to me on this, I 'm just a lawyer arguing the case, but they have to listen to the judge," Mr. Terronez said.

While Mr. Terronez said the instructions were clear, assistant public defender Dave Hoffman, Ms. Kolb's attorney, said the instructions were ambiguous in favor of the prosecution.
Many commenters have seemed to seize on evidence they say proved Kolb had "intent" to murder Reynolds. They seemed to have the impression that jury foreman Hurty felt that intent was not proven, though I'm not sure where they're getting this idea. However, Kolb's attorney Dave Hoffman suggests that in order to find Kolb guilty, the prosecution needed to prove actual action taken, not merely intent.
After the mistrial was declared, Mr. Hoffman said the near-guilty murder verdicts stemmed from the jury's misconception of their instructions.

"I think the jury didn't have a clear conception, which is probably my fault, as to what involves accountability. It takes action, not just sitting there and doing nothing," he said.
Have at it.