April 30, 2006

Tibbetts article on 17th redistricting

I receieved the following comment on the "17th Monstrosity" post of 5-18-06.

Ed Tibbetts did a great story on this very subject shortly after the district was drawn up. He even went down to Springfield and found the aforementioned alley.

Here is the piece:

Byline: Ed Tibbetts QUAD-CITY TIMES
Source: Quad-City TimesPublication
Date: June 24, 2001Page: A1

SPRINGFIELD -- At the east end of tree-lined Washington Park, midday joggers regularly run by Jennifer Lee's tidy little home on South MacArthur Boulevard. As they pad their way up MacArthur from South Grand Avenue and make the turn down Fayette Avenue, they pass from Illinois newly created 18th Congressional District through the 17th District and then into the 19th.

It takes all of 10 seconds.

Among the oddities of Illinois' new congressional boundaries is a narrow strip of land running through the west side of this capital city of 105,000 people. On either side of the ribbon of property marked by upper- and middle-class homes and a private golf course are the new 18th and 19th districts, represented by U.S. Reps. Ray LaHood and John Shimkus, both Republicans. In between is the new 17th, represented by U.S. Rep. Lane Evans, a Democrat.

Evans, of Rock Island, has long been renowned for his labor and working-class roots in the Quad-Cities. It has been the source of his political strength. But now, with the new boundaries redrawn for use beginning in 2003, he will have a whole new territory to cover. The sprawling, winding district stretches from Rock Falls on the north through the metropolitan Quad-Cities down the Mississippi River to rural Calhoun County -- about an hour north of St. Louis -- then all the way east to encompass parts of Springfield. Eventually, it travels along U.S. 72 to Decatur, 180 miles from Evans' home.

"If you look at it, it's insane," Lee, a 24-year-old homemaker, says with a laugh. "It's obviously not right."

Republicans agree, but they're not laughing.

"I was livid," says Terry Weitzel of Peoria, who worked for the Rock Island County Republican Party last year against Evans. "It's added a good 5 to 6 percent to the Democratic numbers, which will make it virtually impossible for a Republican to win. Usually, I'm an optimistic person, but I don't think this is doable."

The new maps were drawn up under the control of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a Republican from Yorkville who now picks up part of Henry County in his district, and Rep. Bill Lipinski, a Chicago Democrat. The dynamic driving the process was the shift in population throughout the state over the past 10 years.

Illinois' map is remarkable for this fact: Each district contains exactly the same amount of people, 653,647. However, its odd shape has prompted editorial discontent and a legal challenge from a group of downstate residents, including a Democratic congressman who was thrown into a heavily Republican district. For Evans, though, the new territory, while politically more friendly, represents a logistical challenge in that it now touches upon 23 counties. Previously, he had to deal with 14.

Much of the rural farm country in northwest Illinois has been traded for a strip of land leading down the east side of the Mississippi River and a mixture of farmland and urban neighborhoods that stretch across central Illinois. Rock Island County is still the largest urban center in the district, but there is a sizable population in the new district that lives on the east side of Springfield and throughout Decatur.

Some believe that while the district contains more Democrats, it will be flavored with more moderate Democrats. "It's definitely got southern roots, a more southern attitude," says Don Johnston, who represents the 17th Congressional District on the Illinois Democratic Party Central Committee.

One of those southern counties is Calhoun, a peninsula bounded on the east, west and south by the Mississippi and Illinois rivers. It is a small county of 5,000 people, where crossing into Missouri for most people means taking one of four ferries. People there are wondering how Evans will represent them.

"We just wonder how someone that far away can know about our needs," says Rose Stumpf, the chairman of the county Republican Party.

It's a question that comes up frequently for Evans' political director, Jeremiah Posedel, as he puts hundreds of miles on his car taking in the new district. " 'How often are we going to see him?' is the first question I usually get asked," he says.

Nonetheless, some of the issues that face Calhoun County are the same as in Rock Island County. Transportation is a big one. Most people commute to work, often to St. Louis. Driving, instead of taking a ferry across the Mississippi River, means going all the way to the northern part of the county.

Low crop prices have hurt the farm economy there, just as they have elsewhere in the Midwest.

"Farmers are almost extinct here," Stumpf says.

Next week, Evans plans a three-day tour of the new district to introduce himself, including a stop in the Calhoun County seat of Hardin. In the meantime, "our staff has really been working it," Posedel said.

Among the things he tells people afraid of being represented by a congressman who lives so far away is this: "I'd rather have Lane Evans represent me and live 500 miles away than have a Republican who lives next door."

In the new district, it's a message that probably sells well. Tom Getz, the chairman of the Republican Party in Rock Island County, sounds pessimistic about the chances of mounting a viable challenge to Evans next year. Getz says he's not giving up, but adds, "I think we've just got to accept our fate at this point."

Since the new congressional districts were signed into law by Gov. George Ryan last month, they have been roundly criticized by newspaper editorial writers. And they have been challenged by a group of downstate people, led by U.S. Rep. David Phelps, a Democrat from Eldorado, which is in the southeastern part of the state. The new map places him in a predominantly Republican district with incumbent U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson, a Republican.

The suit, filed in a state court in southeastern Saline County, charges that the map violates the Illinois Constitution and is the "product of political gerrymandering and/or collusive bipartisan gerrymandering."

The district that includes Phelps skirts down the eastern part of the state before turning, comma-like, to include part of Saline County, Phelps' home. "The line was drawn two blocks from his house," said his spokesman, Rob Griner.

The state has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit.

Hon. Tom O'Neal Discussion

A brief bio from Tom O'Neal's web site:
Tom O'Neal, raised in Augusta, Hancock County, Illinois, is a graduate of Knox College (1977) and Southern Methodist University School of Law (1980), and is a partner in the law firm of Westervelt, Johnson, Nicoll & Keller, LLC. Tom formerly practiced with the law firm of Hartzell, Glidden, Tucker, Neff & O'Neal in Carthage, Illinois from 1980 to 1988. During his tenure in Carthage, Tom also served as a Special Assistant Attorney General for Agricultural Law in the office of Illinois Attorney General.

Tom has served as President of the Peoria and Hancock County Bar Associations, as an Illinois Supreme Court appointee to the Court's Special Committee on Pro Bono Publico Legal Service, President of Prairie State Legal Services, a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to providing legal service to the poor and has received awards for legal service to the poor from the Illinois State Bar and Peoria County Bar Associations as Pro Bono Attorney of the year.

During his 25 years of practice, Tom has authored public education and continuing legal education articles for the Illinois State Bar and Peoria County Bar Associations, the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education, and the Illinois Farm Business Farm Managment Association. Since 1980, Tom has represented clients in Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Indiana and in 40 counties in Illinois, as well as appearing in every federal and state appellate court in Illinois.

Tom currently serves on the Illinois State Bar Association Delivery of Legal Services Committee and as a Director of the Peoria County Bar Association. Tom is a resident of the City of Peoria, with his wife Marcia, and daughters, Brianna and Jessie.

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Hon. Lance Peterson Discussion

From Lance Peterson's bio at his website:

Lance Peterson has served as a trial judge for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit of Illinois which includes Bureau, LaSalle and Grundy counties since September of 2001. Judge Peterson sits in the Grundy County Courthouse and hears all types of cases including felony criminal cases, family law, and complex civil litigation.

The citizens of Grundy County elected Lance Peterson State's Attorney in 1996 where he proudly served as his county's chief prosecutor and counsel to the county board and other public officials until being appointed judge in 2001. As State's Attorney, Lance handled high-profile homicide and drug cases and was selected by law enforcement officers of Will and Grundy County as chairman of the Metropolitan Area Narcotics Squad in 2000.

Lance created the Grundy County Juvenile Justice Diversion Program to help his community's troubled youth by attacking the family problems which are often at the core of juvenile crime. Lance helped begin his county's first domestic violence shelter in 1997 and established the Domestic Violence Diversion Program of the State's Attorney's office the same year. The 13th Judicial Circuit Family Violence Prevention Council honored the work of Judge Peterson in the area of Family Violence with its annual award in 1998. Lance never lost a single felony jury trial during his tenure as State's Attorney.

Judge Peterson drafted more than forty judicial opinions for Illinois appellate and Supreme Court justices.

After attending Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois Judge Peterson went on to graduate with his Juris Doctor from the John Marshall Law School in 1993 where he was honored with the Borg-Warner Scholarship for Academic Excellence and the Scribes Award for Meritorious Legal Writing. Lance was later named Editor-in-Chief of the John Marshall Law Review publication and served from 1992 to 1993.

Lance was born in Joliet, Illinois and raised in Grundy County. He and wife Julie were married in the fall of 1996 and live in Morris with their two children, Maria, age 4 and Eric, age 2, and family dog Jackson. Lance and Julie met in 1987 while Julie was attending the International Academy of Merchandising and Design and Lance was attending Millikin University. Lance likes to cook and enjoys fishing, working in his vegetable garden and forever remodeling their (old) home.

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Mike Huff Discussion

A spot for discussion of the candidacy of Mike Huff for Rock Island County Sheriff. Please keep comments on topic and civil.

UPDATE: The Huff campaign sent me a letter from a AFSCME council and requested I post it on the blog.

It states that Huff has received the endorsement of AFSCME Council 31 due to his union activism. The council president also states that Grchan has "consistently violated the rights of AFSCME members and others who work for the sheriff's department".

Sheriff Mike Grchan discussion

Here is a place for discussion of Sheriff Mike Grchan. Please keep comments on topic and civil.

Rep. Lane Evans discussion

I've invited U.S. Representative Lane Evans to provide a statement pointing up his accomplishments in office, current issues and/or legislation he's working on, and his views on issues of importance in the future as well as any other topics he'd like to address.
I will post it here if and when I receive it.

This will be a permanent home for discussion of Representative Evans. Please keep comments civil and responsible. I will provide a link to this discussion as well as discussion threads for State Senator Jacobs, and State Representatives Boland and Verschoore in the sidebar for future reference.

Rep. Pat Verschoore discussion

I've invited Representative Verschoore to provide a statement pointing up his accomplishments in office, current issues and/or legislation he's working on, and his views on issues of importance in the future as well as any other topics he'd like to address.
I will post it here if and when I receive it.

This will be a permanent home for discussion of Representative Verschoore. Please keep comments civil and responsible. I will provide a link to this discussion as well as discussion threads for State Senator Jacobs, State Representative Boland, and Rep. Lane Evans in the sidebar for future reference.

Rep. Mike Boland discussion

This will be a permanent home for discussion of Representative Boland. Please keep comments civil and responsible. I will provide a link to this discussion as well as discussion threads and links to web sites for State Senator Jacobs, State Congressman Verschoore, and Congressman Lane Evans in the sidebar for future reference.

The following is a portion of Boland's submission in response to my request.
Hello Inside Dope and Inside Dope readers. I am Mike Huntoon. I serve as the Chief of Staff for Representative Boland's Legislative office located at 4416 River Drive in Moline. I'll be making the initial responses on Representative Boland's behalf, in order to fulfill the request by the Inside Dope for comments from local politicians and/or their staff.

I would like to begin by thanking the Inside Dope for this opportunity to present Representative Boland's recent record of accomplishments in greater detail than is often allowed in small news bites on television, or on radio, or even in newspapers. Representative Boland prides himself on providing quality public service for his constituents, and he has brought a wonderful background of public service to his job as our State Representative. His past record of service before being elected to serve as State Representative includes:
  • Being one of the original founders of the Citizens Utility Board (C.U.B.)
  • A 30 year record of service as a school teacher, as well serving on the local school and library boards, and a wide variety of Democratic political activities.
So perhaps in order to give the readers of the Inside Dope the best possible picture of Mike Boland, it would be best to begin with a brief biography as an introduction to our current State Representative.

Full Name: Michael J. Boland
Occupation: Educator, State Representative
Past Government Experience: School Board, Library Board
Education: B.A. in History, Upper Iowa University . M.S.ed in Social Science (History, Political Science, and Sociology) from Henderson State University. 48 semester hours Post-Masters from Western Illinois University and University of Iowa.

Committee Assignments
Financial Institutions (Chairperson)
Appropriations-Public Safety
Labor; Telecommunications
Agriculture & Conservation
Workers' Compensation and Unemployment
Pay Day Loans, Subcommittee (Sub-Chairperson).

Past Committee Assignments
Appropriations-General Services - Vice Chair
Appropriations-Higher Education
Elections & Campaign Reform - ChairGaming
Chairman - Elections and Campaign Finance Reform
Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Distribution
Registration and Regulation
Veterans - Vice Chairman
Elementary and Secondary Education
State Government and Elections
Commerce and Labor
Children and Youth

"Outstanding Legislator of the Year" - Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois
"Taxpayers' Friend" - National Taxpayers United of Illinois
Advisory Board for the Boys & Girls Club 2001
Retired Teachers Award
Veterans of Foreign Wars- Loyalty Day Award
National Alliance for Mentally Ill Award
Farm Bureau Activator Award
Exemplary Friends of Libraries Award
American Legion Award
"Golden Helmet" Award from Firefighters

Mike Boland was born on August 20, 1942 in Davenport, Iowa. A former teacher with the East Moline school district, Representative Boland is married and has two daughters.

Mike Boland has been active in his community throughout his entire life. In 1970 he was elected delegate for the District, County and Iowa State Democratic Conventions. Boland served several years on the East Moline Library Board and was also elected to the United Township High School Board of Education. In 1976, Boland was a member of the East Moline Bicentennial Committee. Boland was elected as an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Midterm Convention in 1978 and as delegate to the Democratic National Presidential Nominating Convention in 1980 & 2000.

Boland was one of the founders of the Citizen's Utility Board (C.U.B.) and served on the Board of Directors for ten years, including two terms as Vice-President. Boland's tenure as State Representative is a perfect compliment to his outstanding 30-year teaching record. Mike Boland has represented the 71st District since January of 1995.

**NOTE** Due to space constraints, the above is only a portion of the material submitted by Boland Chief of Staff Mike Huntoon. The complete text of the submission, which includes further background information as well as press releases, can be read HERE.

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Sen. Mike Jacobs discussion

I've invited Senator Jacobs to provide a statement pointing up his accomplishments in office, current issues and/or legislation he's working on, and his views on issues of importance in the future as well as any other topics he'd like to address.
I will post it here if and when I receive it.

This will be a permanent home for discussion of Senator Jacobs. Please keep comments civil and responsible. I will provide a link to this discussion as well as discussion threads for State Congressmen Boland and Verschoore and Congressman Lane Evans, and others in the sidebar for future reference.

NOTE: A few of the comment threads with discussion related to Sen. Jacobs can be found:









Paul Rumler Discussion

From Paul Rumler's campaign website:

Paul Rumler was born and raised in Moline, IL. Paul learned the value of hard work, determination, and perseverance from his parents, David and Lynne Rumler, who have worked in the manufacturing sector and teaching field, respectively, for over 30 years.

After graduating from Moline High School, Paul attended Black Hawk College where he earned his Associates Degree and received Distinguished Academic All-American honors. Paul also attended Boston University and graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelors Degree in Economics and Political Science from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.

Public service has always been at the center of Paul’s professional life. After graduating from college in 2001, he began working for Massachusetts State Senator Dianne Wilkerson as her Legislative Aide. Paul soon became Senator Wilkerson’s Legislative Director and was responsible for managing the Senator’s legislation, which included drafting legislation and developing budget priorities, as well as serving as the community liaison for much of the Senator’s district. Through this opportunity, Paul was able to work directly with residents in order to help facilitate constituent service requests through the legislative process and by working with state and local agencies.

After moving back to Moline in September 2003, Paul relocated to Washington, DC in order to work for the U.S. Congress. While working for Congressman Bart Gordon of Tennessee, Paul focused on researching our Country’s growing methamphetamine problem and helped draft legislation to help federal, state and local agencies address the growing problem. Following his time with Congressman Gordon, Paul was accepted to American University Law School. Instead of pursuing his law degree, Paul accepted the opportunity to work for Congressman Steny Hoyer, who as the Democratic Whip is the second highest ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Working in Congressman Hoyer’s leadership office gave Paul exposure to the Whip’s role in helping House Democrats determine their legislative agenda and political strategy, as well as building support for the Party's positions and delivering the Democratic message both in Washington and nationally.

All this time, Paul has kept a finger on the pulse of events occurring in the Quad City area. At the age of 26, Paul has returned home to dedicate himself to serving his fellow Illinois residents. He currently resides in Rock Island.

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Hon. Vicki Wright Discussion

Judge Wright recently filed her candidacy petitions in Springfield and provides this account.
Tales from the front of the line

Standing in line to file petitions in Springfield was an experience in democracy. As we waited in line, I thought about how our dedicated volunteers stood in the night beginning their shift at 1:00 a.m. The youngest, Ben, is only 16 and cannot vote. I looked down the line and saw more young faces than old. I felt confident our youth will be ready to lead a nation. They only need direction from those with wrinkles and grey hair as we pass the baton.

I stood there from 4:00 a.m. engaging in both silence and spirited debates. We stood with candidates from the top of the ballot to the bottom, all in the same line and all on a level turf for the moment

I stood next to John Laesch, a young impressive candidate for Congress. He will surprise Dennis Hastert when he sends him home. The men in line called him “Brother John” because that is the way he makes you feel about him. We discussed the war, Congress, the President, the Governor, the future, and we shared with complete strangers our hopes and dreams to make a difference.

I shared my definition of “CRAP-athy” (rhymes with apathy) “Crapathy” develops when the mud slinging by both sides causes the voters to stay away from the polls because they do not care to vote for either candidate.

We learned that the cold and the snow made all of our toes numb regardless of whether we were Democrats or Republicans.

As I waited for the doors to open, I thought about the wealth each person held in their hands, bound at the top with string, and clips, and staples. The confidence of hundreds or thousands of citizens who took the time to shake our hands and sign our petitions, sending us one step closer to realizing our dream to speak from our hearts, offer our reputations, and stand up when others are to afraid to try to make a difference.

I observed that I was the first candidate in my race to walk through the door to file my petitions fighting the dark, the cold, and much fatigue. I was proud of the symbolism. I saw an old soldier, Don Johnston, there because I am sure he enjoyed the optimism in the air like I did.

A woman ahead of me slipped and nearly fell on an icy step after filing her petitions. A gentleman still in line, reached out and caught her, helped her, and kept her from falling. Funny, I thought, neither asked the other’s party affiliation. Both caught in the momentone needing help and the other helping out of a sense of common good. Democracy at its finest.

I came home, after a long day on the campaign trail, and lit a candle and prayed for Peace and for Tookie Williams who was preparing to depart our earth.

Good luck to all the Democratic candidates, including Tom O’Neal and Lance Peterson. Let’s make them proud to come to the polling booth and cast a ballot in both March and November.

From Judge Wright's campaign website:

Judge Wright brings nearly 15 years of judicial experience to this race. On a daily basis for over two decades, she has appeared as a trial attorney or presided as a trial judge in our courtrooms. She has dedicated herself to service to
the public in the counties of the Third Appellate District since graduating from Loyola Law School in 1982.

Judge Wright has served the citizens of Rock Island, Whiteside, Henry and Mercer counties since January of 1991 as an Associate Circuit Court Judge. Typically,
Judge Wright presides approximately six months in Rock Island County and six months in Whiteside County each year. As needed, the Court Administrator rotates Judge
Wright into Henry county and Mercer County.

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Blog Discussion

Have any thoughts or opinions on blogs, bloggers, their influence or lack thereof? Here's the spot. Many people have offered their opinions on the subject in comments to unrelated posts, and so I've provided this spot where they might be more properly left without clogging up comments for other topics.

Are you new to blogs? What do you think? Have any questions about the process of blogging? Ask and I'll answer if I can.

So if you've got something to say related to this blog or blogs in general, please do so here.

April 29, 2006

Name that tune

I'd long thought of running a "What is it?" contest here, going around the area and taking pictures which were suitably vague, but containing some hints, and then asking readers to identify what or where it was.

I never got around to it, but thankfully, Quad City Images has. It's a fun game, give it a try.

So I suppose I sort of had that general idea in mind when I thought of throwing out some pieces of lyrics and seeing if you can name the title and the artist.

For the inaugural Name That Tune I thought I'd take it easy on you.... probably far too easy, as they'll likely be solved within hours, (or minutes, for that matter) but we'll see how it goes.

Just wrack your brain and, if you have an idea of what it is, send in your answers or guesses, but to be fair, please don't search for the answers online. You may feel good temporarily, but kharma's a bitch. Cheaters never perspire, er, prosper.

Here's the first ten. Good luck.

1. Took a drive through Mississippi, muddy water turned to wine.

2. I went home with a waitress, the way I always do.

3. It was late last night, I was feelin' something wasn't right. There was not another soul in sight, only you, only you.

4 I ain't no psychiatrist, I ain't no doctor with degrees. But it don't take too much I.Q. to see what you're doin' to me.

5. I picked up my bag, and went looking for a place to hide, when I saw Carmen and the Devil walkin' side by side. I said "Hey Carmen, c'mon let's go downtown." She said, "I gotta go, but my friend can stick around."

6. Now some they do and some they don't, and some you just can't tell. Some they will and some they won't, and some it's just as well.

7. Enemies, who when you're down ain't your friend
Every night we smash their Mercedes - Benz
First we run and then we laugh till we cry

8. His sister's black, but she is shure 'nuf pretty. Her skirt is short, but lord her legs are sturdy. To walk to school, she's got to get up early, her clothes are old, but never are they dirty...

9. You can’t run a country
By a book of religion
Not by a heap
Or a lump or a smidgeon
Of foolish rules
Of ancient date
Designed to make
You all feel great
While you fold, spindle
And mutilate

10. She says days go by and hypnotized I'm walking on a wire. I close my eyes and fly out of my mind ... into the fire.

Some of these are easy, some might be tougher. If you can get all of them, great, but if not, just name the ones you can. I'll hold off on confirming the answers until enough time has passed to give people a shot at it.

Illinois House members introduce bill to request U.S. Congress begin impeachment proceedings

In a bold effort to stop the madness, three members of the Illinois General Assembly have introduced a bill that urges the General Assembly to submit charges to the U. S. House of Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings against the Commander Bunnypants, George W. Bush, for willfully violating his Oath of Office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and if found guilty urges his removal from office and disqualification to hold any other office in the United States.

The Jefferson Manual of rules for the U.S. House of Representatives makes clear that impeachment proceedings can be initiated by a state legislature submitting charges. The state of Illinois is on its way toward forcing on the House what not a single one of its members has yet had the courage to propose: Articles of Impeachment.

The text of the Illinois bill and information on its status can be viewed on the Illinois General Assembly's website.

The bill takes up the issues of illegal spying, torture, detentions without charge or trial, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, and the leaking of classified information.

Bill sponsors are:

Rep. Karen A. Yarbrough D-7th, phone (217) 782-8120 or (708) 615-1747

Rep Sara Feigenholtz D-12th, phone (217) 782-8062 or (773) 296-4141

Rep. Eddie Washington D-60th phone (217) 558-1012 or (847) 623-0060

Give them some support for representing the views of millions of Americans.

April 28, 2006

Bush mortgaging future, Iraq spending tops $320 billion, over $4 billion unaccounted for in Iraq

The cost of Bush's war:
The cost of the war in Iraq will reach $320 billion after the expected passage next month of an emergency spending bill currently before the Senate, and that total is likely to more than double before the war ends, the Congressional Research Service estimated this week.

The analysis, distributed to some members of Congress on Tuesday night, provides the most official cost estimate yet of a war whose price tag will rise by nearly 17 percent this year. Just last week, independent defense analysts looking only at Defense Department costs put the total at least $7 billion below the CRS figure.

Once the war spending bill is passed, military and diplomatic costs will have reached $101.8 billion this fiscal year, up from $87.3 billion in 2005, $77.3 billion in 2004 and $51 billion in 2003, the year of the invasion, congressional analysts said. Even if a gradual troop withdrawal begins this year, war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan are likely to rise by an additional $371 billion during the phaseout, the report said, citing a Congressional Budget Office study. When factoring in costs of the war in Afghanistan, the $811 billion total for both wars would have far exceeded the inflation-adjusted $549 billion cost of the Vietnam War.
And the DOD refuses to provide information regarding just where these billions were actually spent:
Defense specialist Amy Belasco, the CRS study's author, stressed that the price tag is only an estimate because the Defense Department has declined to break out the cost of Iraqi operations from the larger $435 billion cost of what the administration has labeled the global war on terrorism. That larger cost applies to military, diplomatic and foreign aid operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, enhanced security efforts begun after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and related medical costs of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

"Although DOD has a financial system that tracks funds for each operation once they are obligated -- as pay or contractual costs -- DOD has not sent Congress the semiannual reports with cumulative and current obligations for [Iraq] and [Afghanistan], or estimates for the next year, or for the next five years that are required by statute," the CRS noted.

And perhaps the most underreported story, one that has been around for over a year but which the press largely ignores is that BILLIONS of dollars have simply vanished or are unaccounted for in Bush's "long war".
The report details how operations, maintenance and procurement costs have surged from $50 billion in 2004 to $88 billion this year, citing rising expenditures for body armor, oil and gasoline; equipment maintenance; and training and equipping Afghan and Iraqi security forces.

"These factors, however, are not enough to explain a 50-percent increase of over $20 billion in operating costs," the report states.

War-related investment costs have more than tripled since 2003, from $7 billion to $24 billion, as money has been spent on armored vehicles, radios, sensors and night-vision goggles, as well as on equipment for reorganized Army and Marine Corps units.

"These reasons are not sufficient, however, to explain the level of increases," the report states again.

Of the total war spending, the CRS analysis found $4 billion that could not be tracked. It did identify $2.5 billion diverted from other spending authorizations in 2001 and 2002 to prepare for the invasion.

That discovery helped push the CRS cost estimate higher than estimates from independent budget analysts. The CRS total also includes expenditures on foreign aid and diplomacy not counted in the military cost tallies by groups such as the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Bush and the Republicans have spent $320 billion on this unnecessary war. Just how much is that?

IF you made one dollar every single second, it would take you over TEH THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND FOURTY SEVEN YEARS to end up with $320 billion.

That's $1072 for every man, woman, and child in the United States.

How much is the $4 billion which has vanished and is unaccounted for?

Using the town of Moline as an example, $4 billion is enough to give every man, woman, and child living in Moline $91,390.00
Family of four? You'd get a cool $365,563.00

Even forgetting all the incalculable suffering, death, and loss which continues unabated in Bush's "war", the sheer financial cost is going to be a serious burden for this country for generations to come, and many say that the level of debt run up by the all-Republican government is putting the country in serious risk of an economic crisis.

Foreign interests are literally buying up America and already own a shocking amount of the country and hundreds of major corporations which would probably outrage the public if it were aware. China and others carry a huge amount of our all time record debt, and this out-of-control government is weakening our economic standing so badly that there is a risk that nations and major banks will choose to invest in a more stable currency such as the euro, taking their investments out of dollars and creating a collapse.

This is a large reason gold prices have soared recently, as people simply are losing confidence that this administration will or can do anything to stem the reckless and amazing spending which they continue. If you want to make money, open a pawn shop.

The Republican brand of "faith based" economic policies simply can't be sustained.

Mephistopheles cops a deal. Turns himself in.

Rush "Big Pharma" Limbaugh's mugshot

Lying, racist, drug-addicted pantload admits doctor shopping for "hillbilly heroin", arrested. Devine justice is starting to catch up.

Instead of having half his brain tied behind his back, Limbaugh had both hands cuffed behind his back. But he's still getting off with an amazingly soft deal, far, far less harsh than he's blustered that other drug users should get.

He's agreed to pay $30,000 to pay the state for the cost of prosecution, and continue his drug treatment for 18 months and not violate any laws during that time. If he complies, the charges will be dropped.

If he was skinny, white, and poor instead of fat, white, and rich, he'd already be in jail doing hard time.

Bush and Republican do-nothings embark on PR offensive (or offensive PR) tour.

We're often told that Bush is a "bold leader" and a real can-do kind of guy.

Then why is it that whatever the problem, he thinks he can address it by pulling the wool over the American public's eyes? The only thing that ever gets done is that he goes on a speaking tour which costs the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. This is what is considered solving a problem

The people want the corporations controled, they want the money Bush is putting in millionaire's pockets to be put into services they need. The public, in general, strongly disagrees with nearly everything Bush and the Republican party is doing, and they're FINALLY feeling the effects of their bungling and graft.

So now, with crisis, controversy and scandal breaking out around him on a daily basis, how does Bush react? He STILL thinks that all he needs to do is lean over a podium, talk to people as if they're first graders, giggle that stupid giggle of his in the most inappropriate places, act tough, and then go back on vacation.

He truly feels that he can fool all of the people, all of the time.

Now people are realizing that Bush's closest allies, Big Oil, has been screwing them big time. They're wallowing in billions of record profit, while gas is going up on a steady and steep path. Poor oil companies. Poor Bush. Pity the Bush administration's biggest allies.
Exxon Mobil Corp. reported $8.4 billion in first-quarter profit yesterday, as members of Congress outraged over high gasoline prices hastened to propose measures that would boost taxes on oil firms, open new areas to drilling and provide rebates to taxpayers but would not necessarily alter prices at the pumps.

The earnings outstripped the oil giant's profit in the first quarter of last year. Given current oil market conditions, analysts said, that puts Exxon Mobil on track to break the $36 billion record profit it made last year.
The country has a problem. So what does Bush do? As always, this "bold leader" flies somewhere and does a photo op and brief speech in front of a hand picked crowd, his solution for everything. The Bush boy recently went to a gas station in Biloxi and said a few words about the problem.

Of course, a presidential appearance is a big deal and provides worldwide publicity. Which gas station did the White House pick to appear at? Why a BP station. BP as in BRITISH Petroleum. But that's fitting, seeing as Bush just approved the sale of the only company which makes an essential part for the engines of U.S. tanks to a company owned by the rulers of Dubai.
Meanwhile, President Bush sought to show that he was responding to calls for action in the face of rising gasoline prices. While visiting a gasoline station in Biloxi, Miss., Bush renewed his call for Congress to give him the authority to "raise" mileage standards for all passenger cars. White House officials said later, however, that they didn't know when or how the president would use that authority.
Another instance of Bush saying any crazy thing that pops into his head without the slightest intention of actually doing anything, leaving the White House to essentially say he doesn't know what the hell he's talking about later. This is the administration run by "grown ups", remember?
Congress has the authority to approve changes in mileage standards for passenger cars, and the executive branch can set them for light trucks without approval from Congress. But neither Congress nor the administration has shown much interest in raising passenger car standards, which were set in the 1970s and haven't changed since 1985. In March, the Bush administration said it would raise average fuel economy standards by 1.9 miles a gallon for sport-utility vehicles, pickups and vans for models in 2008 through 2011, a long-awaited move that environmentalists said was too modest.

Politicians, as usual, are quickly trying to appear to be doing something about the crisis du jour. Skyrocketing gas prices amid record profits has prompted them to do what they do best. Nothing.

Nothing to actually address the problem, but plenty of PR crap to appear to be doing something, or at least thinking about talking about doing some studies in order to debate coming up with a "roadmap" to do something. Maybe.

Randi Rhodes, the Air America radio talk show host, suggested that if anyone sees Bush at a gas station, they should bend over and yell, "Fill 'er up!"

Since Bush, aka Chimpy McFlightsuit likes to play dress-up and pretend to be an action hero or a guy who actually works, Rhodes suggested that for the gas station photo-op they should have dressed him up in grimy overalls holding a greasy rag ala Goober from the filling station.

Since he was at a gas station, she thought maybe someone could ask him for a roadmap to peace in Iraq as well.

Republicans are trying hard to pretend the problem doesn't exist.

Despite record high gas prices and obscene oil company profits, the Republicans attempted to pass a bill containing, get this...a THIRTY FIVE BILLION dollar subsidy for the oil companies. That's YOUR money we're talking about.

When you filled up the tank last time (IF you could afford to fill it up) did you feel like giving a huge chunk of your tax dollars to the oil companies?

When the Republicans tried to push through this bill, it was a Dem, Ron Wyden, who fillubustered on the floor to block it's passage.
In Congress, anger over gasoline prices brought action in the Senate to a screeching halt yesterday, with Democrats interrupting debate over an emergency military spending bill to protest a key oil company subsidy. In a highly unusual move, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) waged a solo filibuster on the Senate floor in an attempt to force a vote on a provision that would halt support for what Wyden said was about $35 billion for oil and gas companies. "This is the big one, folks, in terms of energy subsidies," Wyden said during the five-hour standoff. "This is the one where there is no logical case . . . when oil is $70 per barrel."
The Republicans predicably came up as well with an utterly useless band-aid measure designed to be popular among the dim-witted but does exactly nothing to address the source of the problem.
Senate GOP leaders rolled out a fat package of energy measures, including a $100 rebate to most taxpayers, and reaffirmed authority for state and federal officials to fight price gouging. The proposal also would allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska; Democrats called the controversial idea a deal-killer for the rest of the package.

And a new entry in the "phony as hell" files is a group of legislators who rushed to stage a photo op at a gas station in the DC area where they posed around a Hydrogen Alternative Fuel vehicle.

Here's that lovable loser, Denny "Neckless Wonder" Hastert. After the photo op where he had to squeeze his ample ass into a Hydrogen Alternative Fueled vehicle, Hastert drove off in the ultra efficient car. Photogs followed him a short distance and got a shot of him huffing and puffing the few steps between the energy efficient car and the multi-ton gas-guzzler SUV that took him the 1/2 mile back to his office.

Dems held a similar presser at a station and were seen taking SUVs back the short distance to their offices as well.

Happy Happy Joke Time

A rabi walks into a bar with a frog on his shoulder.

The bartenders asks, "Where'd you find that?"

The frog says, "Brooklyn. There's thousands of them!"


Open Swim

Open thread..... go nuts.

Whatever's on your mind.

April 27, 2006

I come in the name of Jesus, biaatch


If you don't mind profanity and lots of it, but enjoy laughing your ass off, watch this.

(via TBogg)

Oh please, oh please!

I hope Rove is right to be worried.
While his supporters continue to put on a good face, sources close to Karl Rove say the presidential advisor is now more worried, not less, that he is going to get indicted. The sources say Rove was surprised by some of the questions he was asked and by the fact the session stretched on for three and a half hours. Minutes after Rove left the grand jury, his legal team issued a written statement saying prosecutors had, quote, "Wanted to explore a matter raised since Mr. Rove's last appearance in October 2005" But the grand jury, according to sources, also pressed Rove about his testimony in 2004 when he failed to reveal he spoke to Time magazine's Matt Cooper about Valerie Plame -- the former CIA operative at the heart of the investigation .

The Inside Dope Watchturtle

There are many here on Team Dope who labor in obscurity and rarely get the credit and notice they so richly deserve. Cranky the Wonder Turtle, our comment screener, is one such unsung hero.

He's a snapping turtle that I caught last year and groomed to step into the demanding world of blogging. Isn't he the cutest?

click to enlarge

Sure, he looks cute here, but I'm telling you, after dealing with hundreds of insipid threats, malicious comments, and semi-literant rants for days on end, he can get, well, pissed.

This was taken after he'd had to endure one too many comments from the usual suspect the other day.

Of course, it didn't help that I was holding him up by the tail at the time.

[pictures actually taken June of last year, and yes, I did catch this guy and later, after he graciously posed for a few shots, VERY carefully let him go.]

The art of persuasion, Quad City style

John Malvik of Moline, a member of the Rock Island County board, didn't like the idea of a group of small town alderman blocking the desires of the big boys, and felt the need to express himself in writing.

In a letter sent to the Silvis mayor's office but addressed to the council, Malvik decided to play the tough-guy card, characterizing his blistering letter as just the start of a pressure campaign against the Silvis alderman. How charming.

"You just gave into pressure from people that you don't even represent, and you voted down a project in another jurisdiction," Mr. Malvik wrote. "Somehow each member of your City Council has to find the courage to stand up and do what's right for our whole area. It is time to stop catering to individuals who have their own selfish motives and care not what's best for our entire community."
"He's entitled to his opinion," Ald. Bob Cervantes, 1st Ward, said after parts of the letter were read to him over the telephone. Contrary to what Mr. Malvik wrote, Ald. Cervantes said he believes there's a large group, not a small group, of dissenters who don't want the pork plant.

"They weren't happy with it," said Ald. Cervantes, who voted against the enterprise zone expansion. "They didn't want it near them. (Mr. Malvik) needs to do a little bit more studying. I don't want to get in a shouting match with this county board member. I listened to every piece of information from both sides."

After the letter was read to him over the phone, Ald. Bob Zesiger, 4th Ward, said, it was " a letter that The Dispatch would like to publish. The Dispatch doesn't publish anything that is against the plant." He wouldn't comment on his opinion of the letter.

"It's hard to comment," said Ald. Bill Fox, 2nd Ward, who voted against the zone expansion. "I don't know this man. I'd like him to come to me face-to-face and call me a 'coward.' I don't understand why one person would call me a coward for listening to our constituents."

Ald. Fox said he received letters from residents in Moline, Hampton and Davenport thanking him for voting against enterprise-zone benefits for the proposed plant.

Ald. Fox said he believes Mr. Malvik's comment about voting against possible zone incentives for a proposed Wal-Mart in Silvis was a threat.

Realtor Tom Dalton, of Ruhl & Ruhl Commercial Co., has said enterprise-zone benefits are not a requirement for Wal-Mart to locate in Silvis.

Mr. Malvik writes that the council disregarded the community as a whole, created an anti-business atmosphere and only listened to a vocal minority who oppose the hog-processing plant.

"The selfish individuals who oppose the plant would rather see Rock Island County go the way of East St. Louis than agree to a $165 million construction project that will create over 1,000 jobs, spawn other businesses, foreign trade, and improve the overall economy of the area," he wrote. "The `No' vote is a clear signal to anyone else considering bringing a business to to the Quad-Cities that Silvis is against the ideas, ideals and groups that local government should support..."

"I want this to be the first part of an organized effort by the community to change the outcome," Mr. Malvik said in an interview Tuesday. "I don't think they considered the repercussions of their decision.

"I think they have been subjected to enormous pressure from the other side," he said. Silvis "can't go forward without knowing there will be pressure on this side."

Mr. Malvick said the project meet legal criteria to be included in an enterprise zone, and in rejecting the plan Silvis disregarded experts on issues raised about the hog-processing plant.

Silvis Mayor Lyle Lohse agreed the council failed to consider the specific requirements of the enterprise zone.

"I think it points out very strongly that we didn't do what we were supposed to be doing," Mayor Lohse said. "We didn't vote on the enterprise zone because of the pressure exerted and everything else."
"Supposed to be doing"??? Who told Mayor Lohse that they were supposed to approve the "incentives" for Triumph?

In a related article in the Dispatch/Argus, it was noted that East Moline Mayor Thodos is resubmitting the proposal for expanding the Enterprise Zone which gives millions of dollars in tax and fee breaks to Triumph. He said that the only change was reducing the acres to be included from 252 to 117.

Alderman Bob Cervantes was quoted as saying that if they wanted to try it again, he felt there was still 5 votes on the Silvis council to knock it down again.

April 26, 2006

The Inside Dope's global influence

I noticed this many months ago, (June of '05) but just came across it again and I still get a kick out of it.

A female blogger in Moscow, Russia (not Iowa) includes a link to The Inside Dope.

Not only does the blog link here, it's the ONLY link on the entire blog.

Those of you who enjoy reading Russian will love The Russian Bird. You can see the link to her post entitled "The Inside Dope" in the list to the left.

I recall that at the time I discovered the post, I ran it through an on-line translation service, but I don't recall what the post says. Something about what an idiot I am if I remember correctly.

Note: I just ran the post through Babblefish and this was the result:
I cannot be dismantled with the system of the retention of the authors at local bloge necessary to you. I attempt now to avos'..nu, they went
Well, it makes as much sense as some comments I get.

And from another online translation service, we have:
I can not understand with system of preservation of the authors necessary to you in local блоге. [blogs] I try now at random.. Well, have gone.
That's a little more coherent. I take it to mean that she couldn't figure out how to link to other blogs and tried to link to one at random (which happened to be The Inside Dope) But who knows? Any Russian readers out there?

And another amazing site to do with blogging is Blogshares. It's an incredibly complex site which operates as an elaborate market where blogs are the comodities for which people buy and sell stock. Frankly, it's over my head, but it's kind of interesting.

Here's the page for The Inside Dope.

Shares stand at $2.50 with a P/E ratio of .92 They say the stock is undervalued and is a buy recommendation.

Don't miss your chance to get in on the ground floor.

April 25, 2006

A modern fable

A comment left over at the "Beyond Print" blog just caught my eye. It was left within an enormously long string of comments on the post "Let Us Reason Together" and had escaped my notice.

But it shows such creativity that it's worthy of reprinting here.
Life is beautiful with blinders, a modern day fairy-tale.

Once upon a time a country started a revolution because of taxation without representation. A few years later a newer and novel governing idea was offered up to the inhabitants of an Illinois district of the nation that had fought for its freedom from Kings, Queens and Tyrants; Representation without voting!

Our fairy-tale begins. A popular incumbent waits until immediately after a primary election to inform his constituency: I am too sick to perform the job you have just nominated me for! Almost as quick he nominates a long time friend and confidant as the right person to replace him on the fall ballot.

Then the voters (the damsel in distress of our story) learn that the choice for the incumbent’s replacement will now lie in the hands of committeemen and not at the hand of the voters whom just days before had that choice available to them. (What’s that smell?)

There comes a buzz from the crowd that the hand picked successor to the royal crown might not be the right choice for of all the people. Contenders (the would be heroes of our story) and Pretenders for the crown commence to lineup asking for their voices to be heard. The process starts to come in question when it is learned that not only will the people not have a voice in the succession of power, but also that the people supposed to have been elected to do the job, were never voted in position to perform the work necessary.

The Machine (the villain in our story) declares, “I know what is best for the peons of this district and I will delegate people from candidates that I personally hand select for the post, they will make the correct choice for the sheep of the district, just as soon as they are done spit-polishing my boots.”

There were more rumblings from the crowd as the narcissistic noblemen began to push forward and obscure passages of an ancient document that had given the power to choose representation, to the citizens of the mighty country. The Pretenders and Contenders continued to attempt the free speech they were granted by the same old document that had promised the citizens of that country the control of their destiny.

Fearing a revolt from the peasants living in their hovels, the noblemen sent out their knights on their stallions to push the Contenders and Pretenders away from the speaking platforms. It onlt caused more furor. In the guise of fairness, the Machine declared an open forum where those desirous of the crown could speak their voice and sing the praises of joyousness and justice.

But the Machine, ever devious in their dealings, said we can only allow entry to the proceeding to those we feel worthy to understand our omniscience and abilities to properly govern the sheep. So the citizens, whom had been guaranteed control of their destiny by the ancient document, had been once again kicked to the curb by the narcissistic Machine.

The sheep afraid for their safety cried, Hurrah-Hurrah-Hurrah, we won’t have to think or fear anymore for the Machine will do all that for us! And those whom questioned the Machine and wished to be active in the selection process were locked outside awaiting the morsels of information that the machine would control and allot the citizens of the country.

Every good fable needs an ending and a moral lesson. The numerous moral lessons are already becoming obvious to those whom feel the crushing boot of the Machine. However the ending is sadly waiting to see if the voters are courageous citizens or just sheep awaiting slaughter.

Posted by NoMorePinocchios on 4/15/2006, at 1:37 pm

"Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.
It’s getting hard to be someone but it all works out, it doesn’t matter much to me."

Renew Moline director responds to labelling of WIU project as "pork"

In a piece published on QC Online, Jim Bowman, former Econcomic Development director for the city of Moline and now head of Renew Moline, offers a rebuttal to a watchdog group including the WIU Moline riverfront project in their "Pork Book", a list of supposed wasteful spending by the U.S. legislature.
The new Western Illinois University Quad-Cities Riverfront Campus offers our Q-C region its best opportunity to provide young people access to affordable higher education and at the same time redefine the regional economy. And the new WIU-QC Riverfront Campus will nurture new high-tech businesses that will recruit and educate workers who can compete and win in a challenging global economy.

The new WIU-QC Riverfront Campus will also help our Q-C region stop the outflow of young people, whose talent and energy will be critical to our community in the years ahead. Over the last decade, the 25-34 age group declined from nearly 16 percent to 12.8 percent of the Q-C area population.

That is why I found it amazing to read that a group called Citizens against Government Waste (CAGW) listed upgrades to the new WIU-QC Riverfront Campus as "pork-barrel spending."

Consider a few facts. The estimated economic impact of building the new WIU-Q-C Riverfront Campus is $10 million annually, supported by a one-time impact of $118 million during construction of the three complexes, leading to an annual economic impact of about $48 million when new academic programs support an enrollment of 3,000 students. And that doesn't count the $75 million in taxable development that will be generated from new businesses that will comprise RiverTech, a high-tech corridor along the shoreline near WIU-QC. That also will help us reinvent the QC economy, enhance our quality of life, retain young people and generate jobs and economic growth throughout the region by propelling us into emerging economies for workforce and technology development.

And that also doesn’t take into account the estimated 2,000 new jobs from companies and businesses in computer sciences, information technology, advanced manufacturing and retail office operations that will be a part of the new RiverTech corridor of development on the historic riverfront.

The CAGW didn't take into account the following key fact Ï that investing dollars into the new WIU-QC Riverfront Campus will yield a high rate of return to the taxpayers of this region as well as to the state and federal government. If the CAGW wants to call that "pork" then I say let's start frying the bacon.
Citizens Against Government Waste say that in order for an appropriation to gain mention in their "Pork Book", it must meet at least two of the following criteria:

* Requested by only one chamber of Congress;
* Not specifically authorized;
* Not competitively awarded;
* Not requested by the President;
* Greatly exceeds the President’s budget request or the previous year’s funding;
* Not the subject of congressional hearings; or
* Serves only a local or special interest.

White House propaganda shop brings in new press flack from their network division

Tony Snow, the Fox News talking head is all but confirmed as being the new White House press secretary replacing the coma-inducing Scotty McClellan.

There's been other press secretaries who've moved from that position to the networks, but I can't recall one coming from a network to the White House.

Since Fox is essentially an arm of the Republican/White House propaganda operation (aka The Mighty Wurlitzer) this will likely not come as any shock that one of their top news heads would make an easy transition to chief liar and stonewaller for Bush.

After all, you have to have no real committment to telling the truth and be committed to flinging inaccurate and utterly biased crap at the rubes to work for Fox, and you also have to have those same qualities to flack for Bush. I guess in that respect Snow is a natural.

But is this significant? What does it say that Bush goes shopping for a new press secretary at Fox news? Is this proof that Fox is a functioning arm of the entire right wing, ultra capitalist, Republican, Fundy right and White House propaganda machine?

What would have been said if Clinton tapped Dan Rather for his press secretary?

Or is this really no big deal?

By the way, they're lucky they found ANYONE who would take the job. Bush is in the low 30s in several polls. But since the people at Fox don't really care who they lie for as long as they're well paid to do it, I guess Snow won't mind propping up the lying, incompetent, overly secretive boob that sullies the White House.

April 24, 2006

Local color

I have no idea what these tiny things are.
(Click on images for better views)

Or this.

Or these.

These red and yellow things live in a corner of Dope manor.

I'm not even sure what these are. But then look great and they smell like oranges. I think they're tulips.

And lastly, for those who are into plant sex,
here's a graphic close up of some wide open pistils and stamens.

Not for the squeamish.

Got some pictures you'd like to share? Toss them this way via e-mail.

You can detect individual grains of pollen in this shot. (click to view larger version)

White House scared straight?

E.J. Dionne in the Wasington Post:
Here's the real meaning of the White House shake-up and the redefinition of Karl Rove's role in the Bush presidency: The administration's one and only domestic priority in 2006 is hanging on to control of Congress.

That, in turn, means that all the spin about Rove's power being diminished is simply wrong. Yes, Rove is giving up some policy responsibilities to concentrate on politics, but guess what: The possibility of President Bush's winning enactment of any major new policy initiative this year is zero. Rove is simply moving to where all the action will, of necessity, be.

As one outside adviser to the administration said, the danger of a Democratic takeover of at least one house of Congress looms large and would carry huge penalties for Bush. The administration fears "investigations of everything" by congressional committees, this adviser said, and the "possibility of a forced withdrawal from Iraq" through legislative action.

Read the rest here.

The thought of a Dem majority, even if just in the House, is almost too delicous to even think about. Just imagine the corruption, abuse of power, and sheer negligence and incompetence which would come forward. It would make Watergate look like the stupid skirmish over whether Rumler's campaign signs were union printed.

Joshua Micah Marshall has a good take on this piece.

Getz out, Carpentier, Gianulis in, Schwigen annouces he'll announce.

A piece in Friday's D/A notes that Tom Getz will be stepping down as Republican County Chair to be replaced by township assessor and member of yet another local political dynasty, Sue Carpetier, and Kraig Schwigen announcing that he'll formally announce as Republican candidate for R.I. County Sheriff.

And in something which seems straight out of the movie "Groundhog Day", John Gianulis was elected unanimously to be R.I. County Democratic chair for the 473rd time. Guess you don't mess with success.
After six years at the helm of the Rock Island County Republican party, chairman Tom Getz stepped down at the GOP's caucus Wednesday.

Susan Carpentier, South Rock Island Township assessor, was elected to replace Mr. Getz. She served as the party's chairwoman under Mr. Getz.

The party also selected Kraig Schwigen, a lieutenant with the Rock Island County Sheriff's Department, as its candidate for sheriff in the November race.

Rock Island County Democrats also met Wednesday night, unanimously re-electing John Gianulis as county chairman.

Mr. Getz, 78, stepped down to focus more time on business interests and the ongoing rehabilitation for his wife, Karen, who was injured in a January 2004 auto accident.

"I agreed I would do it for two years, and now it has been six," Mr. Getz said. "The time has come to turn it over. I don't feel I can give the chairmanship the time it needs."

He leaves the party in good shape, he said.

"I think we were able to strengthen the organization with a good group of volunteers," he said. "We opened a new office in downtown Moline that was more centralized, and I left the organization in better shape financially."

One area where he finds disappointment is failing to unseat 12-term U.S. Rep. Lane Evans, D-Rock Island. Rep. Evans announced last month he will retire at the end of the year.
Ms. Carpentier comes from a line of Republicans who served the people of Illinois. Her grandfather, Charles Carpentier, was secretary of state, and her father, Donald Carpentier, served as state senator.

"You could say I was born into this," she said. "I am excited about the energy this fall, with the congressional district being wide open, the sheriff's race and the governor's race."

She says she inherits a strong organization.
Mr. Schwigen, a 20-year veteran of the sheriff's department, filed his candidacy papers Thursday. He will make a formal announcement next week. Democrat Mike Huff, a sergeant at the sheriff's department, beat incumbent Mike Grchan in last month's primary.
Mr. Gianulis said he will appoint committeemen to the 41 vacant Democratic precincts soon, but said he didn't know when that would be.

Democrats in the 17th Congressional District are uncertain whether appointed committeemen will be allowed to vote in the nominating process to replace Rep. Evans.

Several county chairmen have said they would appoint precinct committeemen to the vacant precincts in case they will be allowed to vote in the weighted election that is part of the replacement process.

Schwigen winds up to toss his deputy hat in ring

Sheriff's Deputy Kraig Schwigen is to formally announce his candidacy for Rock Island County Sheriff shortly.

The following is a submitted short bio of Scwigen.
Kraig Schwigen is the second of four sons born to Raymond and Regina Schwigen. He grew up in East Moline Illinois where his father was the Assistant Principal of Glenview Jr. High School. Kraig graduated from United Township High School in 1976 and Black Hawk College in 1978 with an Associate of Arts Degree in Law Enforcement.

Kraig began his career with the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Department in September of 1985 as a correctional officer in the jail. He served in this capacity until March of 1986 when he was sworn in as a deputy sheriff.

Lieutenant Kraig Schwigen is currently serving as the supervisor of the third shift in the Patrol Division. Kraig has held supervisory assignments in the Patrol Division, Investigation Division and Warrant Division as well as serving as interim Administrator of the Rock Island County Jail. He has commanded the Water Patrol Unit and the Crisis Negotiation Team as well as having served as Professional Standards Officer.

Kraig and his wife Lynn have five children and one grandchild. They are the co-owners of the Rock Island Development Group, Inc.. This corporation is the developer of three residential subdivisions in Rock Island County.

Kraig takes great pride in being a member of the Rock Island County Sheriff’s Department and feels that his strong business sense is one of his greatest assets. He looks forward to the opportunity to serve as your sheriff.

A bit more illumination on the still dim selection process

John Beydler finally comes up with the district-wide precinct numbers that matter.

At The Passing Parade, he reports that 394 committeemen out of the district's 721 total precincts were elected in the recent primary. 17th District State Central Committeeman Don Johnston believes that only those 394 have a vote in the matter, though there still hasn't been a firm opinion offered as to wheterh county chairman can appoint someone to the vacant posts and whether those appointees will then be allowed to vote.

If it holds that only committeemen elected in the primary can vote, then the weighted vote of 54.6% of the precincts, or a little over half of the total precincts in the district will play a part in the process.

I have no data to indicate the percentage of Dem voters in the District who currently live in a precinct without representation, but it must be a fairly substatial percentage who will go unrepresented.

But perhaps that's preferable, as the committeemen who were chosen in the March primary at least were chosen by democratic process, rather than plucked out of a county chair's Rolodex and commanded to vote as told by the chairman, ignoring the input of their erstwhile constituents.

It's also reported that Johnston hopes the vote can be held shortly after the third forum.

April 22, 2006

Don't be a jerk. It's not just a good idea, it's the law. (evidently)

This story is of interest not only because it's rather amusing, but because it infers that simply expressing your views by mail, albiet by being an a-hole about it, could get your arrested. Also of note is that it's been reported on other sites that E. Moline mayor Thodos was overheard saying that alderman had supposedly recieved death threats from those who wanted them to vote AGAINST the expansion of the enterprise zone which would benefit the hog slaughterhouse. This allegation of course has not been proven and is just hearsay. This would seem to indicate that the abuse was coming from the other side.
From Q.C. Online:
Writing a strongly opinionated letter to public officials with obscene language in it might be a crime in Silvis.

John T. McGregor, 22, 1015 2nd Ave., Silvis, was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with ordinance violations alleging disorderly conduct and breach of the peace because he used profanity in a letter he wrote to aldermen two weeks ago. He criticized the council for voting April 4 against enterprise-zone benefits for Triumph Foods' proposed pork processing plant site in East Moline.

Mr. McGregor said Friday afternoon he's going to court to contest the charges because he feels he has a constitutional right to express his opinion.

A Silvis police report says although the letter has no threats in it, Mr. McGregor was charged because the unsigned, typed letter "shocked, alarmed and disturbed the complainant."

Mr. McGregor said he understands why Ald. Katherine Cutrer, 4th Ward, who filed the complaint, could have perceived the letter as offensive. He said he felt there was only one swear word in the letter.

In a copy of the letter provided to The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus, Mr. McGregor wrote, "Am I for the hog Plant- No, AM I FOR THE ENTERPRIZE (sic) ZONE (IN WHICH YOU SHOULD BE VOTING for- YES) ...

"Can we do better than a pig plant -- Hell yeah, but by not passing the enterprise zone, what other business will want to come in? Re-vote without the plant on your mind. That's not the f----- issue, open your eyes and address what is at hand."

The rest of Mr. McGregor's letter voices his anger in other strong language. Ald. Cutrer was hesitant to talk about the issue Friday. "The young man made a mistake," she said. "He called me and apologized."

When asked about her thoughts on the case possibly going to court, Ald. Cutrer said, "I don't care. It's a dead issue to me."

Ald. Bill Fox, 2nd Ward, who also received the letter, was surprised to learn Mr. McGregor wants to pursue the matter in court. "To me, I didn't feel like (the letter) was real threatening. It was just a bunch of foul language," Ald. Fox said. "He certainly has a right to come and speak at a council meeting without sending us nasty letters."

Ald. Fox said he felt defrauded by the young man because Mr. McGregor used Ald. Fox's address and other aldermen's residences as return addresses on postal envelopes to hide Mr. McGregor's identity.

According to the police report, Mr. McGregor mailed the letters from a post office. An employee of the postal service described Mr. McGregor as the man who mailed several letters to the aldermen. The postal service employee recognized Ald. Fox's address listed as a return address and knew the man wasn't related to Ald. Fox.
Mr. McGregor could pay a $50 penalty within seven days of his arrest, and then the case would be closed, police Chief William Hawbaker said. Chief Hawbaker was unavailable late Friday to comment further on Mr. McGregor's decision.

April 21, 2006

More precincty wonk food

A helpful commenter recently sent in a list of precinct committeemen in Rock Island County and the precincts they represent.

I noted at the time that there were 121 precints total. That's not correct, as one precinct had two candidates running and they were both counted. The actual number of precincts in the county is 120.

Of the 120, 79, or roughly 2/3 of the total currently have elected precinct committeemen, while 41 precincts remain without any committeeman.

The total vote cast in precinct races in Rock Island county (not counting write-ins or votes for a losing candidate) is 7,132

Since the precinct committeemen will be able to vote for Lane Evan's replacement on the ballot based on the number of votes cast in their precinct during the primary, I took the list and added those numbers to the list.

Those precinct committeemen with 80 or more votes, listed in descending order are:
(Excuse the not-so-hot-formatting)

Andalusia -- John A. Gianulis -- 272
Blackhawk 7 -- Douglas E. House -- 213
South Moline 17 -- Mike Boland -- 179
Blackhawk 3 -- Bruce Stickell -- 168
South Moline 4 -- Steven Meersman -- 153
South Moline 27 -- Denny Jacobs -- 144
Hampton 15 -- James Cramblett -- 142
South Moline 16 -- Jeff Stulir -- 139
Bowling 2 -- Quintin Waterman -- 128
South Rock Island 13 -- Donna Jungwirth -- 127
Bowling 1 -- Randy Jacobs -- 125
South Moline 1 -- Helen E. Heiland -- 123
Hampton 1 -- Louis E. Shelangouski -- 122
South Rock Island 3 -- Richard W. Mc Carthy -- 121
South Rock Island 6 -- Carla J. Kelly -- 121
South Moline 6 -- Connie Mohr-Wright -- 119
South Moline 13 -- John S. Callas -- 118
Coal Valley 1 -- Tom Rockwell -- 115
Hampton 17 -- Janet Oltman -- 108
Moline 3 -- David Hendrickx -- 108
South Rock Island 8 -- Stewart L. Adams -- 106
Hampton 6 -- Dawn Shelton -- 104
Rock Island 15 -- William A. Byers -- 104
South Moline 19 -- Michael W Malmstrom -- 102
Coe -- Alfred A. De Cap -- 101
South Moline 2 -- Ed De Jaynes -- 99
South Rock Island 7 -- Pete Caras -- 98
Blackhawk 4 -- Janis Hubbs -- 97
South Moline 11 -- Teresa K. Kurtenbach -- 95
Blackhawk 1 -- Randy B. Wlaskolich -- 95
South Moline 15 -- Joe Moreno -- 94
Port Byron -- Charles Tague -- 93
South Rock Island 10 -- Ted E. Davies -- 93
Hampton 3 -- Crotis Teague Jr. -- 92
South Moline 22 -- Steve Ballard -- 91
South Rock Island 4 -- Mark J. Parr Jr. -- 91
Blackhawk 2 -- Kathy L. Harmon -- 91
Moline 8 -- David Mier -- 90
South Moline 3 -- Phil Banaszek -- 89
South Rock Island 14 -- Paul C. Delcourt -- 89
Moline 11 -- Leland Balmer -- 87
Hampton 10 -- John T. Ahern -- 86
Hampton 2 -- Arthur R. Winstein -- 85
Edgington 1 -- Sue C. Vroman -- 85
South Moline 14 -- Virgil K. Dueysen -- 84
South Rock Island 5 -- John R. Brandmeyer -- 83
South Rock Island 1 -- Virgil J. Mayberry -- 80
Buffalo Prairie -- Frank Fuhr -- 80

The precincts which are currently vacant are:

Hampton 4
Hampton 5
Hampton 7
Hampton 8
Hampton 11
Hampton 12
Hampton 14
Hampton 16
South Moline 5
South Moline 7
South Moline 9
South Moline 10
South Moline 12
South Moline 18
South Moline 20
South Moline 21
South Moline 23
South Moline 24
South Moline 25
South Moline 26
South Moline 28
South Moline 29
Moline 4
Moline 9
Moline 12
Moline 16
Moline 17
Moline 18
Moline 19
Rock Island 10
Rock Island 11
Rock Island 13
South Rock Island 12
South Rock Island 15
South Rock Island 16
Blackhawk 6
Coal Valley 2
Coal Valley 3
Edgington 2

Of course this is only a partial picture, as the 17th District includes all or part of TWENTY TWO counties and 721 precincts, meaning that Rock Island county only contains 16.6% of all precincts in the district.

Add the fact that it's reported that roughly half of the 721 precincts in the district remain vacant, and the situation is still in flux.

I don't have the total number of votes cast in all the precincts of the entire district which elected a candidate, but if anyone has that information, I'd appreciate it if they sent it along.

A previous report in the D/A stated that the chair of Adams County said his county controls roughly 20,000 votes to Rock Island County's 12,000

April 20, 2006

Leading historian Sean Wilentz ponders whether Bush is "worst president in history"

From the cover story in Rolling Stone:
George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event on the order of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, after which the public might rally around the White House once again, there seems to be little the administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of U.S. presidents. And that may be the best-case scenario. Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.

Time names Dick Durbin one of America's "10 best senators"

Saw this mentioned at Capitol Fax.

They'll get no argument from me. I think Durbin is pheonomenal.
Even though the senate is occasionally dubbed the World's Greatest Deliberative Body, actual debate on the Senate floor rarely happens: members just read prepared speeches written by aides and then return to their offices. Then there's Dick Durbin. On issues from immigration reform to judicial nominees, the Illinois Democrat frequently engages in public back and forth with his Senate colleagues in hearings and before votes—and rarely uses notes to do it. "I can't do it any other way," says Durbin of his off-the-cuff style. "That's me."

And while the debates don't often change the votes of other members, Durbin's tough questioning of his colleagues and his willingness to defend his own proposals clarify and distill complicated issues for the C-SPAN-viewing public. Occasionally, Durbin's arguments even carry the day, as when he won support on the Senate Judiciary Committee for a provision in an immigration bill that would protect church groups and others from prosecution if they aided illegal immigrants.

Who does Time consider the best and worst senators?

The Best Senators
Thad Cochran
Kent Conrad
Dick Durbin
Ted Kennedy
Jon Kyl
Carl Levin
Richard Lugar
John McCain
Olympia J. Snowe
Arlen Specter

The Worst Senators
Daniel Akaka
Wayne Allard
Jim Bunning
Conrad Burns
Mark Dayton

Allard is a moron and looks like one as well.

I also don't know that Burns and Dayton should be there.

I'd also note that every Republican on the "Best" list is considered to be a moderate.

Do you agree with their picks? Any you think should be included or excluded from either list?

April 19, 2006

Having a hard time keeping Republican crooks straight? TPM has the answer

Talking Points Memo blog has provided a handy service for those who find it hard to keep track of all the indicted and convicted Republican crooks of late. They're calling the site the Grand Old Docket. Check out your favorite Republican shysters and greed merchants. Collect 'em all!

Hare solid on issues

The D/A is doing a series of pieces where they interview prospective candidates to be selected to step in and run in Lane Evans' stead. Today's interview was with long-time Evans aide Phil Hare, and he touched on a variety of issues.
The Rock Island Arsenal and a new I-74 bridge would remain important priorities for Mr. Hare. He would continue to help attract private business to the Arsenal and believes the arrival of the 1st Army headquarters, under the Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations, could be a boost for the facility.

"I want to stay vigilant on the Arsenal," he said. "I want to be a cheerleader for the Arsenal."

He disagrees with previous trade agreements like NAFTA, saying they have hurt U.S. workers. He said he was furious with Maytag's decision to abandon Galesburg for a plant in Mexico.

"Negotiated agreements should include looking out for workers," Mr. Hare said. "We should provide tax breaks to corporations that stay here."

If selected as the Democrats' nominee and he wins the election, Mr. Hare said he would dedicate a member of his staff to economic development in the district.

"You need someone to put their ear to the ground and get a feel for what is going on," he said.

He wouldn't meet with just business people, but also teachers and others who could inform him on issues throughout the district. He said the first term would be one spent learning, referring to himself as "a quick learner."

"You learn by sitting down with people," Mr. Hare said.

Working closely with U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Barack Obama also would be a key component in helping the district, he said, by tracking to get money for local projects through the House and the Senate.

Mr. Hare thinks No Child Left Behind is underfunded and said Head Start programs need more money. He called the current health-care system "a complete mess."

He said a national health-care plan could be paid for through repealing the tax cuts for people earning more than $200,000, tax cuts President George W. Bush wants to make permanent. He also suggested some type of tort reform to protect doctors from frivolous lawsuits.

He supports the McCain-Kennedy bill in the Senate, which offers amnesty to some illegal immigrants while increasing funding for border security.

Mr. Hare said he is "in sync" with Rep. Evans on most issues, but his views vary slightly on some others. He is pro-choice, but opposes partial-birth abortion except if the life or health of the mother is endangered. He also favors parental notification for minors seeking abortions.

He also thinks a timetable should be created to withdraw troops from Iraq.

"The Iraqis have to be put on the spot to defend their country sooner rather than later," he said.
Hare appears to be in step with Evans' positions, ones which I personally agree with for the most part. I'm particularly encouraged by his interest in getting out of Iraq and his wanting to end Bush's disasterous multi-trillion dollar tax cuts for the wealthiest people in America. (though I think it should be targeted towards people with $1 million plus incomes rather than $200,000. There's trillions lost just from tax cuts to the top 1 percent of incomes in the country and the ridiculous "estate tax" repeal alone, more than enough to fund universal health care.)

NAFTA and CAFTA certainly need some work, but a candidate can't get much accomplished by just demanding protectionism anymore. The economic landscape has shifted so vastly that it will take a lot of creativity and work in other areas of society before the middle class and labor regain what they've lost over the past few decades, if ever. The onus rests on corporate behavior and investment, and as far as government can influence that, it should, though actually accomplishing it in the face of the Republicans (and Democrats) handing coporations nearly unlimited power will be difficult at best.

And more than lip service should be given to national health care. It would be a difficult transition, but programs on the state level have proven successful and could be expanded to the federal level, and Hare is correct in saying that the country could certainly afford it if it is done right and the reverse Robin Hood policies of this administration are stopped or curtailed.

His views on gun control were not mentioned.

Based on this interview, what are your impressions or feelings about Phil Hare as our candidate for congress?

NOTE: The QC Times posts a letter to the editor in support of Hare. It begins with the unfortunate statement, "Phil Hare is going to be the Democratic congressman from the 17th, because Lane wanted him to be the next congressman.", and goes on from there. That's a pretty rickety reason someone should be or will be selected. Doesn't that sell Hare short? It makes those who will be making the choice sound like mindless lemmings.

Bush's "protection racket"

From columnist Ellen Goodman in the D/A:
For those who have ever wondered when a promise of protection becomes a protection racket, this is your moment.

We now have the forced admission that in 2003 George W. Bush himself approved the leaking of classified intelligence gathered before the Iraq War. He didn't let it all leak out. He authorized a trickle of information buttressing his case that Saddam Hussein had been a nuclear threat. Information that had already been discredited.

After manipulating this faucet of fear, the president then defended the war in the name of national security, casting himself as the country's father-protector. In short, he sold himself as the person we needed to protect us from the fear he provoked. Welcome to the protection racket.

Amen sister!

Dems finally ask for some clarification

As Kurt Allemeier reports in the D/A:
Democratic partisans are looking for guidance on interpreting Illinois election law regarding the replacement of U.S. Rep. Lane Evans on the November ballot.

Don Johnston and Mary Boland, co-chairs of the 17th Congressional District Democratic Central Committee, sent a letter Monday to Jesse Smart, president of the Illinois State Board of Elections.

"We are asking them to have an informal conference with our attorney," Mr. Johnston said of the letter to the board.

A nominee will be selected in balloting by precinct committeemen from within the district, which encompasses all or parts of 23 counties. The committeemen will have a number of votes equal to the number of Democratic ballots cast in their precinct in last month's primary.

One of the key issues in dispute since Rep. Evans announced after winning the primary that he would retire at the end of his term is whether only elected committeemen will be allowed to vote. As many as half the 721 precinct committeeman positions are vacant.

Mr. Johnston says election law allows only precinct committeemen elected in the primary to vote in the nominating process. Other party leaders say appointed committeemen also should be allowed to vote.

The dynamics of the race for the nomination could turn on the answer to that and other procedural questions.

State Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline, is taking another route looking for help.

Sen. Jacobs has contacted U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., for help on the matter and also has prepared a letter to Illinois Senate president Emil Jones asking him to seek a legal opinion on the process from the Illinois attorney general.

Sen. Jacobs is unable to request a written opinion from the attorney general, but Sen. Jones, D-Chicago, as an officer of the state Senate, has standing to make a request.

Sen. Jacobs said he would mail the letter later this week if Sen. Durbin is unable to help.

"I think we need some answers before we get too far down the road," Sen. Jacobs said. "We need some guidance."

Sen. Jacobs, who voted for Rep. Evans, is from a precinct without a committeeman.

"I think my vote would be disenfranchised," he said. "My vote should count."
Let me get this straight. I thought Jacobs WAS a committeman. Does this mean that even though he lives in a precinct without a committeeman, he didn't bother to run for the position and now he expects to be appointed so he can vote?

At any rate, this is yet more evidence that the Dems are not exactly on the same page. Even in trying to settle differences, they end up creating more.

One faction is asking the State Board of Elections for an opinion, and then Jacobs, through Durbin and/or Jones, has decided to ignore that and take another route, through the State Attorney General, supposedly to avoid conflict and confusion in the process and to avoid protracted and damagine legal fights.

But in doing so, it now opens the door to the chance that there will STILL be differing opinions on the law, one from the Board of Elections, and another from the A/G or Durbin, thus ensuring exactly what they supposedly wish to avoid, a long, expensive, drawn out, and messy legal battle.

Nice work. Wouldn't you think that Jacobs and Johnston/Boland could get over it long enough to agree on a course of action? I guess that's just asking far too much.

As always, we've got one faction pulling on one end of the rope, and the other immediately grabbing the opposite end and pulling away. Guess after so long with a Democratic monopoly around here, they just felt they had to start fighting against themselves rather than the Republicans.

If the Dems ever hope to pull in the same direction, the faction that is always going against the grain needs to give it up and get with it.

NOTE: Thanks to a helpful commenter who sent in a list of current precinct committeemen and showing which precincts are vacant in Rock Island County. Of course, R.I. County is only a portion of the 17th District, but the list shows that nearly a third of Rock Island County precincts remain without a committeeman.

Of the 121 precincts in the county, fully 39 had no candidate in the last election.