August 31, 2006

Time to get your DL on

As I've done since it's inception, it's time to remind you once again that our local Drinking Liberally group is holding their get-together this Friday at Jack's Place in downtown Moline at 425 15th St.

The fun gets rolling around 7:30 and ends whenever. Round up a couple friends and drop in. It's a great way to kick off your Labor Day weekend!

Taking a Stand

Keith Olberman delivered a stirring and impassioned statement in response to Donald Rumsfeld's recent comments to a veteran's group where Rumsfeld accused those who opposed the disasterous and fruitless invasion of Iraq of being "morally confused" or otherwise disloyal.

We've heard this tune sung by an increasingly desperate administration for a long time now. Olberman is just one of millions of us who are don't feel like putting up with it anymore. It truly is past time for Americans to take a stand and reject this sort of un-American tactics and mindset in the strongest terms.
"The man who sees absolutes, where all other men see nuances and shades of meaning, is either a prophet, or a quack.

Donald S. Rumsfeld is not a prophet."

Watch the video here and share it with others.

August 30, 2006

Humungous Fungus

There's some fungus among us, and this one is pretty damn big.

This is a Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea) By the time I spied it, the top half was gone likely due to rain or something else which broke it's paper thin skin.

The entire thing is filled with spores which are as fine as powder. The slightest touch can break the tissue thin skin releasing the spores to float on the breeze like smoke. Apparently, these things are edible if you find them before they mature and turn brownish. They reach their huge size in only a week's time.

As with other types of fungus, they can also be found in "fairy rings" in the woods or lawns, as shown on this page which also shows some even larger specimens.

August 20, 2006

How can I miss you if you won't go away?

It's been said that there's never enough time to do all the nothing we'd like to do. Well, I'm going to find the time.

I'm taking a much needed and long awaited break. A total "news fast" while basking in some splendid isolation sounds like just the thing. At the risk of dashing the hopes of some, this isn't permanent; I expect to return in a week or so.

In the meantime, feel free to browse the extensive archives located near the bottom of the sidebar and take advantage of the chance to wander back along the political timeline of the past year or so. There's certainly many thrills and chills to be revisited, from the ridiculous to the sublime. Discover hidden pearls of wisdom and episodes of manic insanity in comments. Browse back and see how comments have stood the test of time. Find out how wrong some predictions were and see who got things right.

There's plenty of material, to say the least, (1,845 posts, some of them even worth reading.) So dig in and see what gems you can unearth. Maybe when I return, you could tell us what interesting stuff you came across.

I'm putting the blog, politics, and the world in general in the rear view mirror. So pay attention, you'll have to tell me what I missed.

But for now, I'm outta here.

NOTE: Feel free to offer your comments while I'm gone. But since I won't be able to moderate them, none will be posted until my return.)

Anti-Triumph plant rally draws a crowd, including RiverStone's Imler

Barb Ickes reports on the recent gathering in Barstow of opponents of the proposed Triumph Pig Plant and those who simply wanted to "learn", as Bob Imler, president of RiverStone, the corporation which owns the wetland property upon which the vast plant is to be built said he was there to do.

Better late than never, I guess.
The signs in the parking lot made clear the purpose of the rally: "We can do better than hogs," one sign read.

"(East Moline Mayor John) Thodos 1-term mayor," another read.

Residents living near the site of a soon-to-be-built hog-processing plant in East Moline are spending much of the weekend rallying for change. They hope to submit affidavits to the Illinois governor’s office, demanding an environmental impact study on the land that will be used for Triumph Foods’ new pork processing plant.

A rally was held all day Saturday at the Archery Zone on Barstow Road near the future site of the plant. Today, there will be an informational meeting from 1-5 p.m. at the Boulevard, 1801 10th St., Moline.
Norris, who also lives off Barstow Road, said his purpose is to educate his neighbors about specific concerns related to the hog plant.

"We know that 244 semi trucks will be going along (Barstow Road) every day," he said. "That'll affect air quality."

"There’s not a good plan in place for a waste-water treatment plant," he said. "Hog waste is 110 times harder to break down than human waste."

He also worries about area wildlife, he said, including the hundreds of migratory birds that flock to the two lakes across Barstow Road from the Triumph site. Endangered mussels live in a creek that follows the property, and neighbors also worry about what will happen to their property values.

"How can you get $16 million from the government for 1,000 jobs when, at the same time, you’re destroying 400 homes?" he asked.

At least one of the people who appeared at Saturday’s rally has a different kind of interest in the project. RiverStone Group Inc. owns the land on which Triumph plans to build, and the company’s spokesman, Bob Imler, attended the rally.

"I'm just learning," he said earlier in the day. "I'm looking forward to hearing the speakers — to what they have to say."

Automated garbage pickup increases recycling

There's at least one positive to Moline's new automated garbage collection; it's prompting more residents to take advantage of the city's two recycling centers.

As a piece in the D/A notes, recycling has increased by 13 tons, from 74 tons in June of last year to 87 tons the same month this year.

In July 2005, Moline residents recycled 64 tons of glass, paper and plastic. Last month, City Carton hauled away 82 tons. The figures for July of both years indicates an even larger increase of 18 tons.

Will Moline ever join other cities who offer curb-side recycling? It doesn't appear likely any time soon.
The city has looked at the cost of curbside recycling, and Mr. House is currently looking at the cost again, but the city has no immediate plans to make the switch.

Mr. House said he feels that through the city and the county waste management agency, residents currently are provided with a very high-quality recycling program.

If you live in Moline, do you recycle? Would you like to see curb-side recycling instituted?

If you don't live in Moline, how does your town handle recycling and how do you like it?

17th District race killing time till labor day

Kurt Allemeier talks to candidates Phil Hare and Andrea Zinga in hopes of getting a story, but considering that nothing much is happening, he had his work cut out for him.

The contenders reported that they were trying to negotiate debate schedules, had visited D.C. and hope to ramp up contributions from small donors in the days to come.

The also listed A-list politicians they hope will stump in the district for them, including for Hare, minority whip Steny Hoyer, U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., and Illinois Senators Dick Durbin, and Barack Obama.

Zinga hopes to attract big names as well, and noted that Denny Hastert will appear with her in Decator Aug. 25.

The piece also reports that both candidates are closely matched when it comes to funds raised to this point.

One thing's for certain, the race is definitely not in full swing.

Today I walked past Phil Hare sitting by himself on a bench in the middle of one of the wings of Southpark Mall in Moline.

If I didn't know better, I would have thought he was some portly gentleman waiting for his wife to get done shopping. (maybe he was.)

August 18, 2006

You can only polish a piece of dung so long

Once you realize that Bush IS just as callow, incurious, and arrogant as he appears, once you realize that nearly everything that passes his lips is scripted crap and likely wrong, he becomes an almost pathetic figure.

While some of us have realized this for years, it's only now that most of the country, even those willingly taken on a ride by Rove and Bush's image machine and their army of flacks are starting to realize what a cruel hoax this entire administration has been and what a disastrous path they've lead the country down.

Even Bush seems like he doesn't even believe his own BS anymore.
Unlike other two-term presidents, Bush hasn't grown in office, become an old familiar whose irritating traits and lapses could be accepted almost affectionately, like Reagan's dottiness. He's demonstrably diminished, dwarfed by the reality that he continues to deny and repeating himself in press conferences like a robot whose wiring is on the fritz, for whom words and phrases are nothing more than pre-programmed units of sound. He's more irritating and dangerous than ever before, because he doesn't know anything, doesn't know or care that he doesn't know anything, and yet persists in a path of destruction as if it were the road to salvation. It's finally dawned on responsible minds that Bush could take all of us down with him before he and the neocons are through.

Read the entire Wolcott piece here.

The Big Dog turns 60

Bill Clinton is about to celebrate his 60th birthday.

Why don't you go here and leave your best wishes to the man who makes the entire world long for the bad old days when we had a leader who could think, speak in complete sentences, and who actually cared about issues of concern to Americans. A leader who brought us surpluses, peace, and record prosperity across the economic spectrum, and who invoked hope for a brighter tomorrow and the possiblities ahead, rather than peddling fear, division, and arrogant disregard.

Remember? It wasn't long ago, though Bush and his incompetent cronies have made such a perfect mess of things in such a hurry that you could be forgiven if you thought those days were centuries ago.

Go tell Bill thanks and wish him a happy birthday.

Wonder if the campaign bus horn plays "Dixie"?

They should at least get their stories straight.
Allen, who is positioning himself for a possible run for president in 2008, said the name was "just made up" and that he had no idea that macaca is a genus of monkeys including macaques. The name also could be spelled Makaka, which is a city in South Africa.
It's been reported that the term is also a derrogatory French-Tunisian term for blacks or dark skinned people. Allen's mother is French-Tunisian.
On Monday, Allen spokesman Dick Wadhams said the name "Macaca" was a variation of "Mohawk," the nickname Allen campaign staffers gave Sidarth for his partially cropped haircut. Allen, however, said Tuesday that he made up the name himself.

Allen has been accused of racial insensitivity before. He wore a Confederate flag pin in his high school yearbook photo, used to keep a Confederate flag in his living room, a noose in his law office and a picture of Confederate troops in his governor's office, but has said he has grown since then.

Click here to listen to Allen's campaign bus.

And can you really take anything a guy named "Dick Wadhams" says seriously? Is that his porn name or his real name? Must have had a fun adolescence with everyone dropping the last syllable. That's the sort of thing that could trigger the thinly veiled bigotry and urge to blame "others" that attracts so many to the Republican party.

I think I would have gone by Richard, just the same.

The High Cost of Political Posturing

$510,528.64 plus, in this instance.

Go read Beydler.

Upcoming Events

A few events worth noting....

DRINKING LIBERALLY - The Illinois Quad City chapter of Drinking Liberally will be holding forth at Jack's Place, 425 15th Street, downtown Moline tonight, (Friday 18th) starting at 7:30 p.m. C'mon down and join the fun.

*Note* Last week Jack's had a live band which made conversation difficult. If there is a live band tonight, the event will move down 5th Ave. to QC Sports Zone.


Jacobs, selfless and dedicated Democrat that he is, is holding this multi-thousand dollar event yet again at a restaurant owned by none other than Mike Whalen, the Republican candidate for congress in the very hotly contested Iowa 1st District, one of the few open seat races in the country which offers the Dems an opportunity to pick up a seat.

Guess Jacobs doesn't mind reaching across the aisle when it comes to where he spends his campaign money.

Where:1300 River Drive, Moline, IL
When:Thursday, August 24th, 6:00 p.m.

Casual attire.

Donation packages ranging from the "Frankie" for $2500 which gets you 6 admissions including access to the exclusive cocktail party before the event where you can have the senator's ear, through the $1000.00 "Dino" and $500.00 "Peter" levels and finally to the lowly "Sammy" (How come the Candyman's at the bottom of the list? He had more talent in his fingernail than Peter Lawford had in his entire body.) where $30.00 gets you some hors d'oevres and a cash bar.

Blocks of rooms have been reserved at the Radisson across the street if you need accomodations.

Questions? Call J.P. Jacobs @ 309.230.1695


ROCK RIVER HOG PLANT INFORMATIONAL RALLY - A group opposed to the Triumph hog slaughterhouse will be holding an informational picnic tomorrow (Sat. 19th) which runs all day.

From their announcement:
  • Beautiful park-like setting along the Rock River

  • Live entertainment

  • Drawings for prizes

  • Excellent speakers knowledgeable in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and processing plants

  • Sustainable food served for a small donation

  • Tables & chairs provided, but in the event of a bigger crowd than expected, please bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on

  • Affidavits demanding an Environmental Impact Statement be done; forms will be available to fill out and sign onsite

  • Restroom facilities and plenty of free parking

  • Children, Swimmers, Boaters, Inner-Tubers all welcome!

Where: The home of Art & Dixie Norris, 21824 Barstow Road, East Moline, IL
When: Saturday, August 19th, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Call for Info: 309/721-1800 or E-mail:

** **

IN CASE OF RAIN: Same date & time, Archery Zone 16800 Barstow Rd.

Say “NO!” to Triumph Pork Plant and a 237% Sewer Treatement Rate Increase For East Moline Residents!


A bit further down the road, we have:


Where: Plumbers and Pipefitters Local #25 Hall, 4600 46th Ave., Rock Island, IL
When: Thursday, September 7th, 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Hosts: Sen. Mike Jacobs, Rep. Pat Verschoore, John A. Gianulis

Cost: $1000.00 Sponsor/ $250.00 Individual/ $100.00 "Young Professional"

RSVP to Friends of Blagojevich P.O. Box 3128 Rock Island, IL 61204-3128


Honoring Phil Hare
Lane Evans host with guest, Congressman Jerry Costello

Where: The Crowne Plaza Hotel, 3000 S. Dirksen Parkway, Springfield, IL
When: Saturday, September 9th, Social Hour 6-7:00 p.m. Dinner 7-9:00 p.m.

Cost: $70 Individual, $250 Sponsor, $500 Host, $600 for a table
RSVP by e-mail to or to 309.788.3273

August 17, 2006

Power brokers moving to Dems in anticipation of Republican losses

The smart money's ahead of the curve and running towards Dems.
From WaPo:
Washington lobbying firms, trade associations and corporate offices are moving to hire more well-connected Democrats in response to rising prospects that the opposition party will wrest control of at least one chamber of Congress from Republicans in the November elections.

In what lobbyists are calling a harbinger of possible upheaval on Capitol Hill, many who make a living influencing government have gone from mostly shunning Democrats to aggressively recruiting them as lobbyists over the past six months or so.

Republicans taking a beating in midwest

The increasingly irelevant "Dean" of D.C. reporters, David Broder observes how Republican fortunes are tanking in the midwest:
The impression these Republicans had is that support for GOP candidates had nose-dived this summer -- in part because of the chaos conveyed by the daily televised scenes of destruction in Iraq and Lebanon and in part because of the dismal reputation built by the Republican Congress that is home to many of the endangered GOP candidates.

It may be that the cease-fire in the Israel-Lebanon war and the shift of focus to the terrorist plot thwarted last week by the British will change the political environment. But Republicans were deeply worried as August began.

I had dinner one night with a group of Ohio Republicans, all with many years of experience in state politics and none directly engaged in this year's gubernatorial race. One of them said, "I'm afraid this could be another 1982," a year when recession pushed unemployment to 15 percent and cost the Republicans the governorship. Another said, "I'd settle right now for another 1982. I'm afraid it will be another 1974," the year of the Watergate election, when Democrats swept everything in sight.

Bush's unconstitutional domestic spying busted by federal judge

A federal judge in Detroit ordered a halt to the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance program, ruling for the first time that the controversial effort ordered by President Bush was unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor wrote in a strongly-worded 43-page opinion that the NSA wiretapping program violates privacy and free-speech rights and the constitutional separation of powers between the three branches of government. She also found that it violates a 1978 law set up to oversee clandestine surveillance.
Maybe there's hope. Thank goodness it wasn't a Federalist Society judge or you could throw another piece of the constitution and bill of rights in the trash.

The Death of Libertarianism?

Michael Lind in the Financial Times sticks a fork in Libertarianism. Let's pray he's right.
The most epochal event in world politics since the cold war has occurred – and few people have noticed. I am not referring to the conflict in Iraq or Lebanon or the campaign against terrorism.

It is the utter and final defeat of the movement that has shaped the politics of the US and other western democracies for several decades: the libertarian counter-revolution.

For nearly a decade, the Republican party has controlled Washington and most state legislatures. And yet every big proposal of the libertarians has been rejected by the public and their elected representatives. Their only temporary achievement has been tax cuts, which are likely to be rolled back at least in part to reduce the deficit in the years ahead. With the disappearance as a significant force of the libertarian right, the centre of gravity inevitably will shift somewhat left in matters of political economy. But we will not see a restoration of the mid-20th century pattern because there will be no revival of the socialist left. The demise of both socialism and libertarianism pretty much limits the field to moderate social democracy and big-government conservatism. The limitation of options on the horizontal left-right spectrum is accompanied, however, by a growing vertical, top-bottom divide between an elite committed to globalisation and mass immigration and a populist, nationalist majority. If this replaces the older horizontal left-right divide, then we may see a third, “third way” – one which positions itself between the crudest forms of populism and utopian forms of transnationalism.

The libertarian moment has passed. It will not come again, and its defeat as a force in US politics will change the definitions of right, left and centre – not just in the US but also, the world.

Instant justice

With the rather stunning news that a suspect has been arrested in Thailand in the 1996 murder of Jon-Benet Ramsey, it's of course touched off a circus of media speculation and opinion.

Details were slow to emerge, but the guy has reportedly confessed to "elements" of the crime, and has said he was there when Ramsey died, and suggested her death was an accident. Given that the cause of death was a crushing blow to the head and strangulation using a paint brush handle to tighten a cord around the girl's neck, I'd be curious where this "accident" came into the picture.

It's also reported that Ramsey's father can not recall if he knew the suspect.

At any rate, the initial story line focused on what a shame it was that Mrs. Ramsey, who died from ovarian cancer recently, wasn't around to experience this. Many commenters mentioned how horrible it was that so much suspicion was focused on the parents and implied that this had cleared them of all suspicion.

Robert Shapiro, one of O.J. Simpson's original "Dream Team" before he was pushed aside by Johnny Cochran, was dug up and put on the phone by MSNBC for an initial reaction.

Shapiro went on and on about how horrible it was that the Ramseys were accused by the press of having something to do with the murder or their child, and saying how good this was that they were finally cleared of all suspicion and what a shame it was that Patsy Ramsey wasn't around to see it.

It was horrible, just horrible, the way the press suspected the Ramseys, he said, ignoring the fact that it was the officials who were suspecting them and the evidence certainly pointed in their direction, not to mention their rather strange behavior in the press as well.

Shapiro decried all this saying that the presumption of innocence needs to be adhered to and that the media often tries to convict people in the press. The presumption of innocence is the bedrock upon which justice is built, Shapiro went on, and should never be violated.

But does anyone see the weirdness and dishonesty in Shapiro's statements?

This interview occurred only hours after the first sketchy information was reported that someone had been arrested in Thailand in relation to the case. Nothing was known at the time other than that fact.

While railing about how the poor Ramsey's were crucified and wrongly suspected and put through hell and how people forgot about the sacrosanct presumption of innocence in their case, Shapiro was clearing the Ramsey's of all guilt. This of course, means that he was assuming that whoever had been arrested WAS GUILTY. So much for the precious presumption of innocence.

Kind of odd to hear a famous and wealthy attorney bitterly denouncing the press and public for daring to suspect the Ramseys and not holding to the all-important presumption of innocence, and then simultaneously speaking with the assumption that the suspect was guilty as sin.

This same logical disconnect ran through much of the early coverage.

And even now, what's to say whether this guy isn't some fruit-loop who's confessing out of some twisted desire for notoriety or attention?

It will be very interested to try to see what connection, if any, this guy had to the Ramsey's as well. The fact that Jon-Benet was obviously a very cute little girl, and the fact that Mrs. Ramsey tarted her up and trotted her around as some strange idealized image of an adult woman, complete with full makeup and teaching her how to appear and move in an alluring manner not natural at all to a child that age, might have contributed to attracting a pervert like the suspect is never mentioned.

Obviously, nothing whatsoever could ever excuse such a heinous and inexplicable crime. But I will be interested in seeing what connection Mr. Ramsey had with this guy.

The suspect was asked about that directly and replied "no comment", this despite the fact that he was willing to admit he was there when Jon-Benet died.

When John Ramsey was asked if he knew the guy, he too said he wasn't sure and didn't want to comment.

Add to that the fact that the odd amount of money demanded in the ransom note was exactly the amount of John Ramsey's bonus that year, apparently, further suggesting some sort of weird connection there.

The Ramsey attorneys are being oddly fair and generous to this guy in their statements, reiterating several times that the suspect should be given the presumption of innocence. That's laudable, of course, but a bit odd in this situation.

And in all the condemnation of the press et. al. for reflecting suspicion on the Ramsey's, it's not mentioned how IMMEDIATELY after the murder, they hired a team of lawyers, a publicist, and a public relations firm and then refused to speak to the police.

I'm not familiar with all the details of the investigation, but I do recall that there were apparently no footprints in the snow around the home, and several other odd bits of evidence which lead many to find the theory of an intruder hard to swallow.

But at any rate, if this guy is guilty, he deserves whatever they give him. But the process and the trial will be interesting, to say the least.

August 15, 2006

Republican presidential wanna-be struts his "positive" inclusive stuff

From a Washington Post editorial:
"My friends, we're going to run this campaign on positive, constructive ideas," Sen. George F. Allen told a rally of Republican supporters in Southwest Virginia last week. "And it's important that we motivate and inspire people for something." Whereupon Mr. Allen turned his attention to a young campaign aide working for his Democratic opponent -- a University of Virginia student from Fairfax County who was apparently the only person of color present -- and proceeded to ridicule him.

Let's consider which positive, constructive or inspirational ideas Mr. Allen had in mind when he chose to mock S.R. Sidarth of Dunn Loring, who was recording the event with a video camera on behalf of James Webb, the Democratic nominee for the Senate seat Mr. Allen holds. The idea that holding up minorities to public scorn in front of an all-white crowd will elicit chortles and guffaws? (It did.) The idea that a candidate for public office can say "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia!" to an American of Indian descent and really mean nothing offensive by it? (So insisted Mr. Allen's aides.) Or perhaps the idea that bullying your opponents and calling them strange names -- Mr. Allen twice referred to Mr. Sidarth as "Macaca" -- is within the bounds of decency on the campaign trail?

The original WaPo report on the event is here.

Not Ready for Prime Time

Jim Mowen again opens mouth and inserts foot, showing why he's a poster boy for tolerance and understanding and a class act.

Wonder why he didn't throw in some "Ugh!"s and "How!"s, "wampum", or maybe a "squaw" for effect? And though he had the Indian in a bar, at least he didn't make any cracks about them being drunks. I guess he gets credit for that.

Wonder how the Native Americans in the 17th district would feel about having a swell guy like Mowen representing them? I'm bet they're sorry he lost.

I don't know which is worse, thinking that the joke, even aside from the insensitivity and lack of judgement it displayed, was funny enough to post, or that someone who ran for congressman might be ignorant enough to not realize that it would likely be offensive to Native Americans, or fully realized it was, as he seems to indicate, but just didn't giving a damn if it was or not.

I'm not a raving fan of political correctness run amok by any means, and it is often carried to ridiculous lengths. Is this "joke"'s sole purpose to demean Native Americans? No. Was it the worst sort of racist joke? Not even close.

But this joke didn't even need to involve an Indian to work. It's just gratuitous and reflects a rather out of date and ignorant image of Native Americans that is really in poor taste in this day and age, let alone from someone who held himself out for high office.

Any readers, particularly those of Native American descent, have an opinion on Mowen's little joke?

Thing 3

At the risk of some thinking this site has turned into a some sort of nature tutorial for grade schoolers, here's a few shots taken two nights ago. I was out taking a late night constitutional and happened to spy this male cicada on the pavement under a street light. I know it's a male because only males make their distinctive loud call, (one of the loudest of all insects) and this one let out a few when I picked it up.

Cicadas are really amazing and fascinating insects with a very strange life cycle.

Note the three red dots in a triangle on the top of it's head. These are small simple eyes, as opposed to the larger compound eyes set wide apart on it's head. Despite the fact that they spend the vast majority of their lives underground sucking on roots, they have good eyesight... as you probably would with 5 eyes. (If cicadas wore glasses, would other cicadas razz them by yelling, "Hey, 10 eyes!"?)

Click to enlarge

Leave it to McDonald's to start putting their golden arches logo on insects, for God's sake. Where will it end?

The type of cicadas above typically have a 2-8 year life cycle and are known as annual or dog-day cicadas since they usually emerge in late July or early August.

But there are a couple types which only emerge every 13 or 17 years. Scientists and mathematicians suggest this is no accident. They theorize it's so other species of predators can't syncronize with them and wipe them out. 13 and 17 are prime numbers, divisable only by 1 and themselves. Some suggest that this is a survival mechanism to ensure that they never synch up with the population surges of other predators.

If the cicada emerged every 15 years, say, they'd end up getting hit by predators with a 5 or 3 year population cycle. But by emerging in prime number years, this potentially devastating situation is avoided.

The broods of cicadas have been identified and their ranges mapped, so that each emergence can be predicted. No broods emerged in 2006, but the 17 year brood designated XIII will emerge in this area next summer. Look for cicadas with red eyes. They'll be coming up above ground for the first time in 17 years. So be nice.

More general cicada info here.

August 14, 2006

Hare on the stump

Blogger Dave Barrett at Moline Democratic Maverick has a nice account including pictures of a coffee gathering at local community activist Vince Thomas's home to meet Phil Hare. Barrett came away with a positive impression.

August 12, 2006

"The Shards of a Brighter Tomorrow"

Condi says that the crisis in the mideast is really an opportunity.

How do Iraqi's feel about that?

Watch here.

Thing 1 and Thing 2

Like most of you, when the weather gets really hot, I like to throw on some scuba gear and go sit on the bottom of the Mississippi.

Here's a couple things that swam by recently. Know what they are?

No readers correctly guessed the identity of the fish in the top photo.
It's a spoonbill or paddlefish, a remarkable, prehistoric, and threatened fish.

The paddlefish can grow to enormous proportions. As a matter of fact, the largest on record was caught in Iowa and weighed a colossal 198 pounds! That's a very big fish. They commonly reach over five feet in length and exceed 60 pounds. Studies estimate that they may live as long as 60 years or more. (Pictures of a couple large catches here and here.)

Fossil records of paddlefish have been found which pre-date the age of dinosaurs by 50 million years. They've made it this far, and now humans are close to wiping them out. They're endangered due to over fishing for their valuable roe, or eggs, which are valued as caviar and destruction of habitat.

Since they filter feed, they're usually caught by snagging, a crude and rather un-sporting method of fishing. This is done by tying a large weighted treble hook onto the line and simply draging it through the water or along the bottom in hopes that it will snag a fish by the gills or in the side or wherever. This is commonly done below dams where a large number of fish congregate.

The U.S. Geological Survey has a very interesting page on a study of paddlefish conducted on the upper Mississippi, complete with movement studies, video, explanation of why they're at risk, and an informative frequently asked questions page which gives a good overview of the fish.

August 10, 2006

Terror alert raised to Elmo level

Our vaunted Homeland Security Department has raised the terror level to Elmo on the Sesame Street terror alert scale, long a resident of our sidebar.

This will give something for the cable news readers to jabber mindlessly about for a few days, and will help Karl Rove with his stated strategy (the only one they have left) of trying to rely on the same tactic which proved so successful the past election, namely, portraying Bush as the only person who can keep you safe from the terrorists lurking behind your shrubbery who are fanatically committed to killing YOU, yes YOU, Mildred Krasmer of Tywhoppety, KY! And your little dog Toto too!!

As a matter of fact, as we've been told repeatedly, if you enjoy freedom, they want to kill you. Apparently, they've got some hang-up about freedom. These "terrists" hate freedom, as I'm sure you've heard dozens of times. And so the best way to fight them is to give up a whole lot of your own freedom in the name of.. freedom. Yeah, that's it.

But above all, remember to be scared, very scared, at all times. Oh yeah, and go shop. Buy a lot of stuff, but don't forget to be really scared at all times.

So scared you can't think critically and will associate yourself mindlessly with any authority who claims to keep you safe, and instantly hate those they tell you would welcome the terrists and give them a parade down Main St. These people, people who hate their own country as much as the terrists do (Remember, there's not any difference between these terrorist lovers and the terrists themselves, so deep is their commitment to destroy the country and their burning hatred of it) are of course, liberals and Democrats.

Why liberals and Democrats hate and are working day and night to destroy the very country they and their families live and work in themselves makes no sense whatsoever, but skip that part, it's not important. After all, when you've heard something 20 times a day for years, it must be true, right?

It's only surprising to me that the government didn't sit on this report of a thwarted terrorist plot until just before the elections. After all, they waited over a month after the fact to announce that they'd made arrests of suspects in the kidnapping of a journalist in Iraq.

I fully believe we can expect some concerted campaign to drive the country into a state of near panic as the elections approach, which the Republicans can continue to try to exploit.

And of course, the media are more than happy to participate and help out, offering breathless and harebrained commentary designed to scare the bejesus out of people beyond all rational levels.

Roosevelt, a true leader, famously warned that all we have to fear is fear itself. By contrast, the only thing this administration, perhaps the worst leadership in the country's history, fears, is that people won't be fearful enough and might actually stand up, think for themselves, and oppose them.

What do you think of this foiled plot and the attendant media frenzy? What do you predict Bush and Republicans will do to exploit this and try to claim that Republicans, and only Republicans, can possibly keep our country safe from attack?

How do you think their attempt to sell the idea that people who don't favor "staying the course" are "cut and run" cowards? Bearing in mind that over half the country opposes staying in Iraq, how well will this strategy work?

How badly will politicians of all stripes hyper-react and rush to microphones and cameras to inflate the danger and propose all sorts of whacky and ineffective things be done in response (mostly things which would financially help their donors or bring money to their districts)?

Mitt Romney, a presumed presidential contender, has already rushed to the mic to explain in detail all the heightened security procedures being instituted at airports. I guess a Governor has to do that, though it seems below his pay grade.

Anyway... is anyone else as cynical about these things as I am? (If that's possible.)

It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry

This is a 4-6-4 type steam locomotive manufactured by Baldwin Locomotive Company in Philadelphia, PA. in the year 1930.

The picture does a poor job of conveying just how huge this is.

The engine and tender car are 93 feet in length and 15'10" tall. The tender car held 54,000 lbs. (27 tons) of coal and 15,000 gallons of water. (12,500 lbs) and together, the engine and tender weighed 728,920 pounds (364 tons).

And amazingly, as far back as 70 years ago it could speed passengers across the countryside at a top speed of over 110 mph!

These drive wheels are 6 1/2 ft in diameter, taller than most men, and transferred 47,700 lbs of tractive power to the rails. Notice how the wheels were cast with counterweights to balance the wheels with the drive shafts.

If it took this many rivets and bolts to hold thick iron plate together, there must have been a bit of pressure underneath.

Before being retired around 1960, this locomotive logged an amazing 2,348,267 miles.

That's the equivalent of going to the moon and back 5 times, traveling 94 times around the earth at the equator, or 838 times the driving distance from New York to Los Angeles.

Now that you know more than you ever wanted to know about this massive and amazing piece of rail history, who can tell me where it's located?

(Hint: It's within an hour of the Quad Cities.)

And for extra double fantastic bonus points, what is device shown below and what was it used for? (No fair if you've been there and have seen it.)

The little black thing is a sort of windshield with a piece of glass in the front to look through. The wooden handle on top could be pulled on to raise the apparatus.

**Update** Esteemed fellow blogger Dave Barrett correctly identified the picture above. It's a gizmo on a mail car which they used to snag mail bags hung from posts in small towns as they flew past. A pretty ingenious system.

Here's a picture showing the post used to hang the bag. I'm still not sure of how the latches and releases worked, nor can I figure out what the rods with the loops in the end were for. I'm also not sure what kept the heavy bag from sliding through the crook of the snagger. You'd think the pole would be mounted on a spring or the arm would be able to rotate, but it's rigid. And I'm not sure why the leading point of the snagger thing is pointed. I'll have to do a bit more research. (as if anyone but me cares. ha!)

Why Lamont's victory is good for progressives and Democrats.

Chris Bowers at MyDD sees nothing but positives coming from the Lamont victory:
  • An Excited Base. No matter how you measure base excitement, I think it is pretty clear now that Dems are revved up. 43% turnout in an August primary is phenomenal. Volunteers were generated by the thousands. 22,000 unaffiliated voters switched their registration to Democrats in the last three months. The progressive movement now has a huge ownership stake in the Democratic Party. Add it all up--huge rank and file turnout, an energized activist base, the progressive movement working with the party, and droves of new registered Democrats--and you have many of the necessary ingredients that for a winning formula nationwide in November.

  • Better Messaging. With Ned Lamont's victory, we will now see far fewer Democrats in Washington and elsewhere take the easy path to media stardom that the corporate media had provided for Democrats since the mid-1980's: talk about liberals and/or Democrats in the same way Republicans talk about liberals and/or Democrats. No one will want to be the next Joe Lieberman, and as such this victory will change Democratic behavior. This will now make it much more difficult for Republicans to close Daou's triangle on a variety of issues, as they quickly will find a shortage of elected Democrats willing to use anti-Democratic Republican talking points. Thus, the more partisan messaging will make it far more difficult for conservatives and Republicans to dominate the conventional wisdom narratives of our national political discourse. This will also mean fewer "Democrats divided" narratives in the media, and help us slowly begin building toward greater message clarity. Today we already have seen how Lamont's victory this defeat freed up Senator Dodd on Iraq and Emmanuel on Bush. This is just the beginning.

  • Party Unity. Seeing all of the Ned Lamont's endorsements come in today reminded me of what it was like to be a Democrat during the Social Security fight in early 2005. Up and down the line, the Democratic leadership came through and did the right thing. By endorsing Ned Lamont and the primary process, Democratic leaders endorsed party democracy, and the will of the people they represent. This is how we keep our coalition from flying apart: by using mutually agreed upon, democratic mechanisms to settle our disputes. I now see no reason why the Democratic establishment and the progressive movement will not be able to work together for the foreseeable future. Our combined electoral capabilities should be a sight to behold.

    It is too bad that a certain egomaniacal, George Bush love-child couldn't care less about the Democratic Party. Of course, since Lieberman had spent years trashing Democrats while using Republican talking points in order to make himself look better, many of us had known for years that he was a Party of One. The important thing now is for the media to realize that Joe Lieberman is not a Democrat--his party is now Connecticut for Lieberman. They need to post that below his name in all his media appearances from now on. Instead of "Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-CT," his byline should now read "Sen. Joe Lieberman, CT for Lieberman--CT."

A more unified, energized party with improved messaging and fewer pro-Republican narratives in the conventional wisdom. Long term, this victory will be of tremendous benefit to both the Democratic Party and the progressive movement. No wonder I am still walking around in a giddy daze. Our future is so bright, I gotta wear shades.

Delay moves to take his disgraced name off ballot.

Oily Texan Tom Delay won the primary in his district before being indicted on a laundry list of corruption charges. Now he wants off the ballot, knowing that he's tarnished beyond repair.

Delay took the issue to an appelate court before taking it all the way to the supreme court... and losing.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia refused yesterday to block an appeals court ruling to keep former congressman Tom DeLay as the Republican candidate on the ballot, all but ensuring that the former House majority leader will stand for election in November for his suburban Houston district.

DeLay was under indictment in Texas and facing a possible House ethics investigation when he resigned his seat in June and announced he would move to Alexandria in hopes of removing his name from the ballot.

But Democrats, eager to keep the politically tainted DeLay on the ballot, argued that he won the Republican primary this spring and cannot now decide on a successor without violating state election law and the U.S. Constitution. DeLay maintains a home in his district and cannot show that he would be living outside the district on Election Day, Democrats asserted

Republican federal judge in Texas ruled in favor of the Democratic argument last month, and that ruling was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans last week. With the election less than 100 days away, Texas Republicans appealed to the Supreme Court yesterday to stay the appeals court ruling and allow them to pick a new candidate to stand against Democrat Nick Lampson in November. That appeal was routed to Scalia, who denied it just two hours after it was received.
Former House majority leader Tom DeLay announced yesterday that he will make whatever moves are necessary to remove his name from the ballot in November, leaving the Texas Republican Party with no name on the ticket in his district but allowing GOP leaders to back a write-in candidate.

DeLay's decision leaves his party with a difficult write-in campaign, in which it will seek to hold the retired politician's Houston area district in a year when Democrats have a chance to seize control of the House.

"It's a huge uphill battle to win against the circumstances that are in place," said Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, a Republican member of the Houston City Council who has been preparing to run for DeLay's seat. "It's difficult to get voters to take a write-in candidate seriously."

Last I heard, the Republicans had talked the mayor of some town in Delay's district into putting himself foreward as a write-in candidate.

And another note about the Lieberman situation. He's managed to extinguish what sympathy and regret I had about his defeat by sounding crazy in subsequent interviews, as well as the fact that it's been reported that Bush instructed Karl Rove to call Lieberman and offer any help they could give.

And the interviews I've seen of Lieberman today have simply been pathetic. He has no support from the party, and sounds increasingly delusional in explaining his quixotic desire to run as an indepenent.

Today in a lame attempt to defend his support of the quagmire in Iraq, Lieberaman said that unless we "stay the course", that "Iraq will fall apart" (It ALREADY has fallen apart Joe!! It's worse than it was under Sadaam!!!) "The mideast will be destablilized" (I don't even need to say anything. How out of touch can a guy be to actually state with a straight face that he fears that if we don't stay and die that the mideast might be "destabilized"??) and that "al Queda will gain a foothold in Iraq." (Uh... too late Joe.)

How incredibly delusional does a guy have to be to A. Think these things are good arguments for why we need to CONTINUE fighting in Iraq, and B. to not realize that ALL OF THEM HAVE OCCURRED PRECISELY BECAUSE WE INVADED IRAQ. As a matter of fact, all the things that Joe fears would not have happened had not Bush and Cheney, with Joe's steadfast support, ignored reality and insisted on getting their war on.

It's actually sad to see a good public servent like Lieberman going out by looking increasingly like some unhinged guy desperately clinging to power and refusing to get the hint.

It's ironic that he was instantly ready to give up and not even stand up to proven and blatant discrepancies and vote fraud while the presidential ticket he was a part of was being swindled out of victory. Joe went on TV almost immediately more than ready to give up the fight even in the face of huge and glaring problems and the fact that a true count of the votes would have given the Dems the White House. Joe's heart just wasn't in it, and his advocating giving up and letting Bush steal the presidency only served to allow the Bush campaign to start the idea that it was GORE who was somehow trying to steal the election. Joe played right into it almost like he was being paid to do so.

It makes you wonder just what the Bush's have on Lieberman. After all, every time the George the Lesser has his back against the wall, they can count on Joe to pop up and do his bit to help.

Yet now when he's clearly lost a Democratic primary, he's decided he can't go back on his "principles" and so must fight on. Where were those priciples when he actually had a reason to fight?

Frankly, it's disgusting and sad. I truly hope his candidacy goes down in flames.

August 9, 2006

Out and about

Perhaps the owner of this car is the head of "Iowans for Hare"?

And you know you're in the midwest when....

... there's corn growing within feet of the motel pool.

Feel the "Ned-mentum"

Almost no one saw it coming.

Six months ago, Ned Lamont's name recognition was, within the margin of error, zero. He made campaign fliers on a copy machine. In a race against a Democratic senator with a national reputation, the political novice had two main things in his favor: substantial personal wealth and a potent issue.

From Day One, the man who became Connecticut's Democratic nominee for the Senate on Tuesday stuck to a simple message: The war in Iraq was wrong and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman was wrong to continue supporting it. But while Lamont's success has been widely attributed to the rising power of the antiwar movement and liberal Internet bloggers, the 52-year-old upstart from Greenwich became a political giant-killer by blending both new- and old-style politics. He tapped the Net roots to promote his cause -- but the grass roots to win over voters.

With its strong Internet presence and gung-ho supporters, Lamont's campaign soon came to resemble Howard Dean's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination two years ago. But there are key differences. Despite the national implications of Lamont's candidacy, his campaign retained a distinctly local flavor, staffed by veteran state operatives and a homegrown volunteer corps. As the hype grew, the campaign stuck to the basics. It focused on building a file of likely voters, organizing a turnout effort and circulating Lamont at events, including small gatherings in living rooms.

"The story is really about voters in Connecticut who stood with Ned Lamont," said Tom Matzzie, political director for the antiwar organization, one of numerous outside groups that promoted Lamont's candidacy. "He went from town to town, house to house, for months. It defined grass-roots campaigning."

Well, it's a great night for those who wish to rid the government of "business as usual" Dems, most particularly Joe Lieberman, who cast votes usually along party lines, but casts himself as some noble "moderate" by supporting Republican measures which aren't anywhere near in line with the wishes or values of most Democrats.

Playing both sides of the fence and angling for being appointed Defense Secretary, as many believed Lieberman was doing, just ain't gonna work, and it certainly doesn't qualify you as being some noble "centrist" or give you the right to claim you're "rising above partisanship", blah, blah, blah.

You're either in one camp or the other. You either support the average person or you don't. You can work across the aisle, and you have to to get things done. But you can't support legislation which will hurt consumers deeply while benefiting one corporate sector on one day, cozy up to the fundimentalists another, and not only embrace Bush and support measures that further erode basic freedoms the next, then denounce your own party members for daring to oppose Bush's policies after that, and somehow hide behind the banner of being a "moderate" and claim to be giving people what they want, a move away from "divisiveness" and "partisanship".

No, Joe. That's not non-partisan cooperation. It's being divisive yourself. It's simply hard to swallow that it was all done out of some higher principle. It's playing both sides of the fence, trying to be all things to all people for your own benefit. And it just doesn't wash.

With the country confronted with such starkly different paths to follow, staying the course with the absolutely disasterous Bush policies and ineptitude, or doing things differently and more constructively with progressive Dems. There's no place for someone who supports the worst of Republican policies and then tries to claim he's doing it out of some sort of spirit of bi-partisanship. Sure, Lieberman is free to have whatever views he wishes, and the voters are, and were, free to vote him out of office because of them.

There's no rational reason for "staying the course" other than to prop up Bush politically and to protect neocon's egos from having to admit they were disasterously wrong from the beginnning. And people are dying today for this.

Seems like not too tough a choice.

Yet Joe made a huge mistake in choosing to prop up Bush and give him the illusion of bi-partisan support, and in that respect, I hope it serves notice to other candidates who may now be rethinking their stance on the war.

As Lamont says, "'Staying the Course' is no strategy in Iraq and it's just as bad here at home."

This primary has been cast as well as a test of the liberal blogopshere's ability to turn out support and campaign cash.

While it's difficult to estimate how much this could transfer to other races across the country, I certainly hope that it marks a turning point in the willingness of candidates to at least clearly support the will of the majority of people in the country and have the decency to clearly come out in opposition to the misguided and pointless "war" in Iraq as it's currently being handled, even at the risk of incurring the wrath of big corporate donors who are profiting quite handsomely from it all.

And I think that the heavily mis-characterized and maligned left wing blogosphere can rightly claim to have been a big factor in this victory, without a doubt providing enough help both in publicity and organization as well as financially to honestly claim that without their active participation, things would likely have turned out differently.

How do you see this Lamont victory/Lieberman defeat?

Lieberman and his supporters have made it a point to stress what a good Democrat he is, such a good Democrat in fact, that he made it clear weeks ago that if he didn't win the parties nomination, he'd leave the party and run as a so-called "independent".

Now that's a good Dem, isn't it? Sheesh.

What do you think of Joe's refusal to step aside and support the Dem nominee?

I should note as well that all through the campaign, Lamont has said he'd support whoever won the Dem nomination. Too bad Joe won't do the same.

It also puts Dem officials in a very awkward spot. But I believe most of the heavy-weights have already indicated that they'd support the nominee over Smokin' Joe if he bolted the party.

One more interesting note seen on Lamont's blog page. The Lamont campaign offered the services of their head tech guy to the Lieberman campaign to try to fix the problem they had with their web site. The Lieberman campaign never replied.

August 8, 2006

Joe and Ned slug it out

It's certain that the press will inflate the Lamont-Lieberman primary today into something like five presidential elections rolled into one.

And it's also going to be painful to hear all the bizarre opinions, uninformed pronouncements and hairbrained analysis about the role of bloggers, specifically the liberal variety.

They're already blaming some sort of evil liberal computer masterminds working for the Lamont campaign for the fact that Lieberman's campaign website went down.

A guy who knows just reported that it was a type of DOS or denial of service attack which could have been accomplished by one person anywhere in the world. All they did was go to a bulletin board or some page on the Lieberman site which had forms to fill out with name, address, etc. By entering a super long string of characters in a particular way, they can confuse the computer into allowing access which they the use to flood the site with so much data that the site shuts down. It's simply a relatively common attack which floods the system with so much information so quickly that the thing just sputters and chokes. Hardly enough to go to the press accusing your opponent of doing it. And cerainly not worthy of the massive press attention that it's getting at the moment, where they're treating it like someone was assasinated.

The fact is, THE LOSS OF THIS WEB SITE COULDN'T HAVE ANYTHING BUT THE VERY SLIGHTEST NEGATIVE IMPACT ON THE LIEBERMAN CAMPAIGN. So though predictable, the fact that Chris Matthews and the rest of the press are trying to make some HUGE deal out of this is just stupid.

The Lieberman campaign is even saying they've asked prosecutors to look into this blah, blah, blah. How pathetic.

The Lieberman camp demanded that the Lamont campaign condemn this supposed hacking of their site. So Matthews called them and passed on the demand. Of course, the Lamont spokesman calmly and rationally said that they think it's a bad thing and of course they condemn it. Oooops. End of story.

And finally, one news bunny asked the key question of Matthews. She finally had the sense to ask essentially, what difference does it make if the dumb web site is down on election day? Matthews had to admit that it really made little to none. With any luck, this dumb diversion will run out of steam.

One reporter earlier said that the web site had gone down, "just when they needed it most".

Excuse me, but a campaign website is about as useful as a campaign button on election day, or ever less. It's purpose is to communicate with potential voters, organize and attract volunteers, and collect donations during the campaign, and it's a bit late for any of that on election day.
But what do they know?

And the talking morons are busy constructing the conventional wisdom for this primary battle.

Expect to hear them spout endlessly about the "larger implications" of a Lamont win.

To be perfectly honest, you can't extrapolate anything to a national scale based on this particular primary with these particular candidates in this particular state.

It will, I believe, make it a little tougher for those who try to dismiss the influence of bloggers and their ability to raise funds, mobilize volunteers, and to be a key factor in political races, which is a good thing.

But of course, those sorts of people are the type that usually only state their case even more loudly in the face of evidence to the contrary. They usually don't let facts (or the lack of them) get in the way of what they believe.

And if a Lamont victory makes candidates finally understand that it's safe to come out and get right with reality and condemn this misadventure in Iraq in less sheepish and mealy-mouthed ways, then great.

But the fact remains that what this primary means if Lieberman loses is simply that the voters of one party (Dem) in one state (CT) were tired of Joe.

Sick of his toady-like behavior, sick of him actively undermining the party, constantly giving aid and cover to the Bush administration, and most importantly, his looney support for the phoney "war" in Iraq and insistance that things are going just fine. But perhaps even more key was his ridiculous statement on the floor of the senate. Joe pontificated, ""It's time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge he'll be commander-in-chief for three more years. We undermine the President's credibility at our nation's peril", in effect saying that any Dems who were critical of Bush somehow endangered the country.

Go here for Charles Pierce's piece on why that quote was the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak.

The Dem voters of Connecticut, and by extention, people across the country who can't stand Joe for the above reasons and more, simply want Joe to go. Period.

I've heard it reported that polls have shown that most voters who report they plan to vote for Lamont say they are casting their votes AGAINST Lieberman rather than for Lamont, which seems plausible.

And the third side story we'll have to suffer through is all the goofy spin from the anti-liberal blog forces out there, trying to portray bloggers as some sort of rogue, irresponsible, ...who knows.... some sort of bad scary people I guess, who somehow stepped in and sabotaged poor, poor, Joe Lieberman.


Joe sabotaged himself. All the bloggers did was see a chance to get Lieberman the hell out of congress, and worked to raise funds and organize in order to elect an opponent they felt more closely reflected their views.

Nothing sinister about that in my opinion.

But to many who don't know squat about blogging or bloggers, or to those in the print media and others who have a free-floating fear and/or resentment of blogging in general, it's a perfect opportunity to spread yet more uninformed crap to demean or denigrate bloggers. (as if they're some sort of monolithic "thing" that all think, act, and believe the same thing. Yeah, sure.)

This is not to say that bloggers can never be criicized legitmately, but rather that the carping about the role of bloggers in this particular contest has been routinely uninformed, unfairly generalized, and spurred too often by ulterior motives.

So... we'll see what the score is early tomorrow morning, and try to endure the pundits and blow-hards as they struggle to fill countless hours with the "larger ramifications" of the Lieberman-Lamont race. UGH.

Dust up in Davenport

Things have been roiling in Davenport city government over the past week or so.

It started when it was learned that city administrator Craig Malin had taken a $6000 cost of living salary increase without running it past the city council. Malin then compounded the matter by thinking he could rectify the situation by donating the amount in dispute to charity.

Colonel Davenport has a couple posts on the story.

Then last Wednesday's regular council meeting was cancelled after 4 alderman walked out in protest.

Residents at last night's meeting showed up and called the alderman on the carpet for their behavior. The QC Times provides more details of the dust up here.

I can't say that I'm up to speed on all the background history that lead up to this state of discord, so if any Iowegians or others with more knowledge of the situation wants to fill us in, please do.

August 6, 2006

Tale of the Till, State Senate primary edition

John Beydler has once again done the work required to wring telling details from the numbers in candidate's financial disclosure filings, this time focusing on the money spent in Illinois State Senate primary contests.

Some very interesting facts emerge, among them:

  • There were 65 state senate candidates running in 39 primary races.

  • Big Mike Jacobs outspent 57 of the candidates, ranking number 8 on the Big Spender's list.
Beydler also provides the always interesting cost per vote figures and finds that in the case of the District 33 Democratic primary pitting Dan Kotowski against James J. Morici, Jr, Morici spent $78.08 for EACH VOTE, which I assume is the highest per vote total.

While Beydler cites the lopsided spending in the District 1 Munoz vs Torres primary, in which Munoz outspent Torres by 21 to 1, it shows that for his money, Munoz emerged with a 77 to 23% victory or a 54% margin.

The Jacobs/Rumler primary was nearly as lop-sided, but Jacobs didn't do anywhere near as well.

Jacobs outspent newcomer and near unknown challenger Paul Rumler 18 to 1 in order to pull off a 12% margin, 56%-44%.

For the Jacobs/Rumler primary, the tale of the till in spending per vote breaks down as:

Jacobs: $17.04
Rumler: $1.22

That's a whopping margin per vote of $15.82, or nearly $13.98 for every $1 spent by Rumler.

Put another way, Jacobs spent 1785% of Rumler's expenditure to get 12% more votes,

But perhaps most interestingly, Beydler discovers an area in which Sen. Jacobs stands head and shoulders above all others, but one which we've not heard him boast about as yet.
Among all 65 Senate candidates, Jacobs was far and away No. 1 in the category of un-itemized expenditures. Of the $142,178 he spent, $17,848, or 12.3 percent was un-itemized.

In comparison, the biggest spender, Morici, had outlays of $373,092, of which only $1,234, or .03 percent, was un-itemized.
As noted in Beydler's post, disclosure law requires that all payments to people or vendors receiving more than an aggregate of $150 must be listed as an itemized expense.

As a commenter notes, this means that Jacobs must have spent just less than that amount a staggering 119 times in the six month reporting period, or about 20 times each month, an amount way, way out of line with any of the other 65 financial reports filed by senate candidates.

Also in keeping is the $14,925 the Jacobs campaign reported spending at various restaurants and clubs for "campaign food",parties, and one assumes, liquid refreshments and fund-raising, though it's not specified.
This averages about $2500 per month.

You owe it to yourself to read the post here if you haven't already, as well as peruse the report yourself.

Some items of interest among the $124,330.41 in itemized expenditures:

$663.60 to American Airlines for "PROMOTE ILLINOIS BUSINESS TRIP" - no destination listed.
$640.50 to John Collins for "flags"
$14,250.00 to a D.C. area firm for a "poll"
$1,009.46 to "EMEDIA C INC" for "POLOTICAL CALLING" (sic)
$3085.45 to Ford Motor Credit for "lease" for 5 months ($617.09/mo)
$1,400.54 to Hunter's Club for post-St. Pat's parade party
$1,077.56 to Hy-Vee for "election eve food"
$2,300.00 to East Moline Legion for "ELECTION NIGHT GATHERING"
$450.00 to Master DJ for "entertainment election night"
$1,599.27 to Short Hills Country Club for "volunteer appreciation"
$3,908.06 to The Roosevelt Group of Chicago for "consulting"
$2000 to Tina Sumner for "RESEARCH CAMPAIGN STRATEGIES", or opposition research.
$179.91 to The Liquor Box for "gifts"

There are also four contributions amounting to $2595 to various community groups.

$800.00 to the Boys and Girls Club
$295.00 to East Moline/Silvis Kiwanis Club
$1,000.00 to Moline Learning Center
$250.00 to Music in the Park
$250.00 to Silvis Family Run for a sponsorship

It also lists $730.00 to Van Tieghem Accounting for "professional fees"

They surely can account for all the unitemized expenditures, one would hope.

The weather's here, wish you were nice

It's August, a big vacation month, which gets me thinking along those lines.
(as always, you can click pictures to enlarge)

This secluded spot (which shall go un-named) is the antidote to running a blog (as well as the normal brutality, shocks, and traumas of life in the jungle.) Gotta get back there soon.

Mom and her doe walked right up to me one evening, along with two other fawns. The deer were everywhere.

That speck in the picture is a hawk bird.

It's not often you get a shot of a hawk bird from slightly above them. I think he's giving me the eye.

Among the places I hope to get back to is the "Land Between the Lakes" just past the southern tip of Illinois near Paduca, KY. I'd like to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway again, or some part of it. The Vanderbilt mansion, Biltmore, in Ashville, NC is something everyone should see at least once. Savanah, GA is like no other place on earth with shadowy history hanging like the spanish moss, as is Charleston, SC. The barrier islands in GA are really cool. Williamsburg, VA is a place everyone should see, and of course, Boston and NYC are to be experienced. Cape Cod is beautiful, eastern Long Island and the mansions of the Hamptons are an insight into the gilded life of the very rich. Arcadia National Park in Maine is great.

I'd like to get up to Glacier National Park soon as well, before the glaciers are all gone. (they've already shrunk a vast amount). And I'd like to get down and check out the desert and the Grand Canyon, go back to the Virgin Islands or one of the leeward Carribean islands, and check out Costa Rica, among about a thousand other spots I'd like to go from the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota to Key West, from Cape Cod to Catalina Island, from Kodiak Island to Baja California.

Of course a vacation destination doesn't have to be exotic or distant. With gas prices soaring, it's good to know some good and perhaps overlooked places closer to home. I like Backbone St. Park in Iowa, and the Galena area is full of stuff to do, and there's a lot of great parks in Wisconsin, and several great bike trails and canoeing areas as well. And of course, there's St. Louis and the Ozarks in Missouri and northern Arkansas.

Have any readers already taken your vacation?

Where did you go and how did you like it? What were some of your best vacations in the past?

If you were going to recommend a vacation spot, where would it be and why? What's your favorite place within driving distance? What was your experience and what made it such a great place to get away?

Ever had one of those days?

I just started a new job recently and I've been trying really hard to learn the ropes. But yesterday was just one of those days where nothing seemed to go right. And to make it worse, someone had a camera. You know how they say when things go wrong, they REALLY go wrong. This was one of those. I hate mustard!

click to enlarge

I think things will get better. Someday I hope to make Assistant Manager.

August 4, 2006

Poll shows Nussle/Culver struggle for Iowa Gov neck and neck

The Rasmussen Report shows Culver with a slim three point edge over Nussle.
Secretary of State Chet Culver (D) continues to edge out Congressman Jim Nussle (R) in Iowa's race for Governor. In the previous Rasmussen Reports election poll, Culver was six percentage points ahead. Now, as the nominee, Culver leads Nussle by just three points, 41% to 38%.

Their match-ups have been close all year. But except in January—when they each drew 40% support—Culver has always managed to scratch out at least a one-point lead.

Nussle reportedly has the edge financially, but Culver has proven adept at fundraising and has over a million on hand, despite having weathered an expensive primary campaign.
The two candidates have comparable favorable numbers. Nussle is viewed favorably by 52%, Culver by 50%. Each is unknown to about 12% of voters.

Governor Vilsack's job performance is viewed with approval by 56%, disapproval by 43%.

President Bush's approval rating is 40%, the same as the national average right now. Fifty-nine percent (59%) of Iowa voters disapprove of the job the President is doing, 45% "strongly."

Corruption is a number one issue to many voters (14%), but many more (34%) are most concerned about the economy.

Forty-seven percent (47%) of Iowa’s likely voters say the Bible is literally true, versus 39% who say it is not. Meanwhile, 54% are pro-choice, 40% pro-life.

Michelle Malkin, right wing icon, intellectual giant

A recent comment by the always interesting DookofURL (aka Paladin) citing one of Michelle Malkin's columns put me in mind of one of her appearances on Hardball with Chris Matthews during the right wing campaign to lie their asses off and smear John Kerry for his service in Vietnam. (which of course, took colossal nerve and capacity for mind-numbing hypocrisy, considering Bush's shirking of even National Guard service)

This is the same woman, some may recall, who published a book in defense of the interment of Japanese Americans during WWII and a recent one accusing all liberals of being insane. A very lovely and charming woman, a self-hating racist, and a desperately striving right wing shill.

Matthews, not exactly one of Dook's pet "nutroots", couldn't tolerate Malkin's attempt to spew outrageous lies. Michelle acts shocked, shocked, that she'd encounter any resistance to her ridiculous lies. After all, she and dozens of others had been free to spread it unchallenged by talking heads for months. She had reason to believe that lies against Kerry would never meet with resistance, poor thing.

But apparently, it was just too much for even Matthews to stomach.

While at YouTube, I also came across this example of just how on the money Malkin is in her analysis. Bill O'Reilly had to smack her down, for God's sake.

And lastly, here's an example of the humanitarian side of Malkin where she mocks the suicides of Guantanamo Bay detainees. (and wingers are the one's who accuse everyone to the right of Atilla the Hun of being "hate-filled". What a lovely crowd.)


Sen. Dick Durbin is to attend an event for candidate Phil Hare on Tuesday, August 8th at the East Moline U.A.W. hall, 630 19th Street. The event runs from 5 to 7 p.m.

And a reminder that it's time once again to gather down at Jack's Place, 425 15th Street in downtown Moline. The Drinking Liberally begins this evening (Fri.) at 7:30 p.m. If you've not been yet, get there.

August 3, 2006

By their friends ye shall know them

Here's an email sent out by College Republicans.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 01 Aug 2006 18:52:09 -0400
From: "[windows-1252] College Republicans"
Reply-To: College Republicans
To: collegerepublicans@PRINCETON.EDU
Subject: Unconventional Primary Campaign Opportunity (LIEBERMAN)


I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. In June, I informed you all of a campaign opportunity for State Senator Tom Kean race for U.S. Senate in NJ. Continuing the tradition of letting you about summer campaign opportunities here is a much more unconventional option:

Incumbent Senator Joe Lieberman (Democratic Primary)
Lieberman is facing a tough primary fight versus far-left anti war activist Ned Lamont.
August 4-9th Primary Campaigning:

Elissa Harwood '09 (NOT A CLUB MEMBER) has organized a series of buses departing on Friday August 4 from Washington DC (6:30 Foggy Bottom Metro) and NYC, destination: Hartford, CT

People interested in campaigning for Lieberman in the Democratic Primary will have lodging accommodations paid for (by his campaign), as well as food and transportation.

Buses would bring you back on August 9th.

If Interested, E-mail: XXX@Princeton.EDU or call her
at (757)-XXX-XXXX.
Hell yeah, feel the Joementum. The Lieberman campaign is paying College Republicans for their food, lodging, and transportation. What more needs to be said?

And this endorsement should put Joe over the top. He's such a great Dem.

Rangel "all in", Harris a deranged crook, and anti-science zealots get the boot in Kansas

Rep. Charlie Rangle, D-NY, a personal fave if for nothing else than his ability to more than hold his own against right wing flacks and hucksters, is banking on the Dems picking up the House majority.
Rep. Charles Rangel, a senior Democrat in Congress and the dean of New York's congressional delegation, said Wednesday he'll retire if the Democrats don't retake control of the House this year.

"I'm a poker player and I've had good hands all night long. This is all in," Rangel said in an interview. "I would not put everything on the table if I thought for one minute we would lose."

Rangel, ranking Democrat on the House Ways & Means Committee, is 76 years old and has spent 35 years in Congress. The Democrats need to gain 15 seats in the 2006 midterm election to retake control of the House -- a victory that would return Rangel to the chairmanship of the powerful committee.
Let's hope Charlie gets another term.

And from the kharmic justice files, we learn that the increasingly unhinged Kathrine Harris was subpoenaed but sorta neglected to tell anyone on her campaign staff. Oooops.
U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris withheld from her staff for several weeks the fact that she had been subpoenaed by federal investigators probing the activities of a convicted former defense contractor, according to former aides.

Harris' staff learned about the subpoena in June while preparing campaign finance reports that showed her legal fees to the Washington law firm Patton Boggs had jumped from $1,975 during the first quarter of this year to $37,758 during the second quarter.

Harris, of Longboat Key, near Sarasota, is one of four Republican candidates in the Sept. 5 primary for nomination to the U.S. Senate.

A former campaign aide, who asked not to be identified, said the firm's invoice indicated the legal fees were for "discussions with the candidate regarding subpoena."

The existence of the subpoena was first reported Wednesday by The Tampa Tribune, which quoted Glenn Hodas, who was Harris' third campaign manager and who quit in June shortly after learning of the subpoena. Hodas could not be reached for comment.
And finally, on the "maybe they're smarter than apes in Kansas after all" front, enough anti-science, anti-reality fundy's on the Kansas State Board of Education have been voted off to allow reality-based candidates a majority.
The seesaw battle over state science standards in Kansas seems to have tipped back a bit in the direction of sanity. In Tuesday’s primary elections, moderates who subscribe to the theory of evolution won just enough races to guarantee them a slight majority on the school board after November’s general election. That should make it possible for them to overturn the benighted science standards pushed through by conservatives on the board last year in an effort to undercut the theory of evolution.

Local papers, AP fishing expedition for dirty laundry a bust.

The Dispatch/Argus, the Quad City Times, and the Associated Press all sued for access to sealed transcripts of the guardianship hearing for Rep. Lane Evans which occured June 9th.

Despite the fact that the details of the agreement were readily available and nothing remained to be known, the news outlets demanded access to court records in an attempt to dig up juicy and damaging medical information on Evans.

The entire thing was distasteful, as Evans is serving out the very tail end of a decades long career and is not running for re-election, yet the papers simply couldn't bear the thought that some juicy and intensely private information which might detail the extent of Rep. Evans' illness might be kept from them.

I hope the effort cost them a lot of money, because they were given access to the transcripts and found...... nothing. No juicy detailed diagnosis, nothing explaining what Evans can and can't do, no titilating personal details, nothing.

Poor things.

August 2, 2006

Blago comes to town to tout LIHEAP energy bill assistance

Low-income Illinois residents with high energy bills might be able to find some financial relief from this summer’s hot weather.

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was in Rock Island this morning to promote the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, which helps subsidize household energy costs for those with incomes of up to 150 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.

Blagojevich, a Democrat, was joined by Illinois Reps. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, Mike Boland, D-East Moline, and Pat Verschoore, D-Milan, in promoting the program.

“At a time like this, unusually challenging issues are created by nature,” Blagojevich said, speaking at the Rock Island offices of Project NOW, the Rock Island County-based community action agency. “It’s a reminder to all of us that we need to come together and help one another.”
LIHEAP is a laudable program which truly helps those in need. I commend the governor for promoting it, despite the fact that the Republicans in D.C. have cut funding for it nation-wide.

I wonder if anyone in the press thought to ask the governor why the Rock Island county cooling center set up by the state was locked up tight and closed this past Sunday as temps soared to near 100 degrees.

Moline cop takes own life in Bettendorf motel room

The QC Times reports that fellow Moline police officers found detective sergeant Mike Sottos, 33, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the Bettendorf Holiday Inn.
A detective sergeant with the Moline Police Department who was reported missing Monday evening was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound about 11 p.m. Monday in a Bettendorf motel, authorities said this morning.

Bettendorf police said they responded to the Holiday Inn, 909 Middle Road, at the request of Moline police. Upon their arrival, they met Moline officers who said they had found the body of Mike Sottos, 33, in one of the motel rooms.

Bettendorf detectives and the Scott County medical examiner investigated the shooting and processed the scene. Police said their preliminary investigation found the death was a suicide.
A very very strange and tragic story. One that leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Perhaps details will follow.

August 1, 2006

NYT explains why Joe must go

The New York Times endorses Lamont.
As Mr. Lieberman sees it, this is a fight for the soul of the Democratic Party — his moderate fair-mindedness against a partisan radicalism that alienates most Americans. “What kind of Democratic Party are we going to have?” he asked in an interview with New York magazine. “You’ve got to agree 100 percent, or you’re not a good Democrat?”

That’s far from the issue. Mr. Lieberman is not just a senator who works well with members of the other party. And there is a reason that while other Democrats supported the war, he has become the only target. In his effort to appear above the partisan fray, he has become one of the Bush administration’s most useful allies as the president tries to turn the war on terror into an excuse for radical changes in how this country operates.
At this moment, with a Republican president intent on drastically expanding his powers with the support of the Republican House and Senate, it is critical that the minority party serve as a responsible, but vigorous, watchdog. That does not require shrillness or absolutism. But this is no time for a man with Mr. Lieberman’s ability to command Republicans’ attention to become their enabler, and embrace a role as the president’s defender.

Mr. Lieberman prides himself on being a legal thinker and a champion of civil liberties. But he appointed himself defender of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the administration’s policy of holding hundreds of foreign citizens in prison without any due process. He seconded Mr. Gonzales’s sneering reference to the “quaint” provisions of the Geneva Conventions. He has shown no interest in prodding his Republican friends into investigating how the administration misled the nation about Iraq’s weapons. There is no use having a senator famous for getting along with Republicans if he never challenges them on issues of profound importance.
If Mr. Lieberman had once stood up and taken the lead in saying that there were some places a president had no right to take his country even during a time of war, neither he nor this page would be where we are today. But by suggesting that there is no principled space for that kind of opposition, he has forfeited his role as a conscience of his party, and has forfeited our support.

Mr. Lamont, a wealthy businessman from Greenwich, seems smart and moderate, and he showed spine in challenging the senator while other Democrats groused privately. He does not have his opponent’s grasp of policy yet. But this primary is not about Mr. Lieberman’s legislative record. Instead it has become a referendum on his warped version of bipartisanship, in which the never-ending war on terror becomes an excuse for silence and inaction. We endorse Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary for Senate in Connecticut.

Frist runs Bix, Whalen backs corporate, fundy agenda on health care crisis

As loathsome as I feel Sen. Bill Frist is, I have to give him props for apparently running the entire Bix 7 recently in absolutely brutal heat and humidity.

A QC Times piece by Wayne Ma explains that he wasn't sure he'd finish the race initially, but once he'd begun he "couldn't stop".

Of interest in the article is the proposals and policies supported by Mike Whalen in regard to health issues. He is even to the right of Frist on stem cell research, supporting the know-nothing stance of Bush when it comes to allowing funding of life-saving stem cell research.

A lot can be gathered by the problems with the health care system that Whalen chooses to ignore, such as the entire issue of lack of access by millions of poor and uninsured citizens, as opposed to those he feels are the most crucial which are only the issues of concern to the big money interests which currently dictate the lousy system we have.

He unsurprisingly supports further limits on the ability of average people to sue for medical malpractice, as well as advocating further intrusions and lessening of patient privacy by saying that our medical information and records need to be freely compiled and spread around to anyone who wants it. Not good.

Whalen is running against Democrat Bruce Braley.
Additionally, [Whalen said] the high cost and lack of interoperability of health information technology also prevents better-quality health care, Whalen said. Although health information technology could increase efficiency and patient safety, the cost versus revenue has prevented many from adopting the technology.

Braley said in a phone interview that the stark difference between the two candidates is that he would have focused first on why 48 million U.S. citizens are without health insurance — rather than discuss liability reform.

But on issues relating to medical professionals, Braley said he would try to address Medicare and reimbursement problems.

“Iowa doctors are getting penalized by providing quality, low-cost healthcare and their reimbursement rates do not reflect that quality care,” he said.

Healthcare, Whalen said, is an important issue because there are a lot of seniors in his district and many headed toward being seniors. In addition, it also will determine whether Americans can compete globally for jobs.

When asked what he thought of Frist’s position on federal funding for an expanded number of human embryonic stem-cell lines — a bill Frist came out in support of last week — Whalen said he respected Frist’s position but sided with the president when it came to whether the research should be federally funded.