Wednesday, August 31, 2005

New Orleans - Before

I'm going to pull a JeromeProphet on you and cram a bunch of pictures into one post. I figured since New Orleans is the center of the news universe, I would post a few of the many good photos I (or Mrs. TEH) took while we there a few weeks ago. The pictures we took are kind of hard for me to look at now given what's happened to that city. But here goes...

Here's the Mississippi River posing no threat to anyone:

A typical building in the French Quarter:

Jackson Square at sunset:

Bourbon Street at night:

Bourbon Street during the day -not much difference. The party really never ends:

St. Louis Cemetery:

My son looking for a bird to chase on Jackson Square. I understand many of these trees are now down:

I won't bore you with anymore (home movies anyone?) but I hope this gives some sense of what is at stake above and beyond the human tragedy.

Of Hurricanes and Terrorism

Tom Tomorrow has an interesting take on our fear of terrorism in light of the tragedy unflolding in New Orleans and points east.
We've been told for four years that we're at war to preserve our freedom, our way of life, our very civilization.

Well, this is in no way meant to downplay the suffering along the Gulf Coast tonight, or the immensity of this tragedy--but this is what we've been afraid of for the past four years, this level of destruction.

This is bad, really bad, probably much worse than we know--but civilization itself is not at risk.

I'm not saying we should just roll over and let The Terrorists run willy nilly through the streets tossing dirty bombs every which way with gleeful abandon. I'm saying that even in a fairly worst-case scenario, another major terrorist attack which manages to inflict anything close to the destruction of Hurricane Katrina--even then, the the only real danger to our way of life, to democracy itself, comes from our own leaders deciding that a free society is just way too much damn trouble.

It's not the damage done to us, by whatever means--we can pick ourselves up and mourn our dead and rebuild. It's the damage we do to ourselves that may be irreparable.
I think that's right; civilization, as a whole, is not at risk from terrorism and we should not be acting like it is. To emphasize what Tom says, we need to be vigilant but not to the extreme. Turning fear into counter-productive aggression (Iraq) is not the right course and in itself degrades civilization. Terrorism is, at worst, spotty in reach. The United States, much less the free world, was not in any danger of collapsing on 9/11. Nor is it going to in the aftermath of Katrina. As a society we can get through these things without total capitulation to our most regressive primal states. Let's use our heads to work and live together.

Supplemental Beer Blogging: Disaster Edition

Since they can't make a good beer with it, why not.
WWL-TV [New Orleans] reported that the Miller Brewing Co. was sending
several truck loads of water to the region from its Albany, Ga., plant.
But how is Miller going to be able tell the difference between the water and Miller Lite?

UPDATE: From a Miller Brewing Co. press release:
(MILWAUKEE) -- Miller Brewing Company announced today it is sending six truckloads of emergency drinking water — more than 80,000 32-ounce bottles — to
help Hurricane Katrina victims in Louisiana and Mississippi. Miller is coordinating with relief workers, state agencies and its distributors and suppliers to provide drinking water bottled from its Albany, Ga., brewery to communities hardest hit by the hurricane.

The first truckloads of water left Albany last night for Baton Rouge, La., and Camp Shelby in Hattiesburg, Miss., where the water will be distributed to those most in need. The additional truckloads of water are expected to ship within days, as Miller and its area distributors are able to communicate and finalize arrangements with the affected communities.

Miller’s contribution was made possible with the support of donated services and supplies from Fleetmaster Express Inc., which donated the transportation; Owens-Illinois Glass, which donated the glass bottles; NorthStar Print Group, which donated the labels; and Inland Paperboard and Packaging, which donated the cardboard containers.
Well good on them all. It's Miller time.


This from the web site of New Orleans' main newspaper, the Times-Picayune.
WWL-TV reporter Karen Swensen related a particularly sad tale from a region overflowing with sad tales. One New Orleans woman waded through the streets of the city, trying to get her husband to Charity Hospital. He had died earlier and she floated his body through the inundated streets on a door that dome off their
The New Orleans Times-Picayune has a latest breaking new site.

$4 Gas

Buried deep in this story is an ominous prediction:
Consumers can expect retail gas prices to rise to $4 a gallon in the near future, Ben Brockwell, director of pricing at the Oil Price Information Service, said Wednesday. "There's no question gas will hit $4 a gallon," he said. "The question is how high will it go and how long will it last?"
Suddenly, this week's $2.96 doesn't sound so outrageous.

UPDATE: Here's the full story.

UPDATE II: The gas station I use most often (the Shell at Washington and Veterans) had gas for $2.79/gallon this morning on my way to work. When I went to lunch it was up to $2.99. Returning from lunch it was $3.19. Fortunately I topped off the tank while it was still at the low, low price of $2.99.

When in Dome

This is weird. The New Orleans refugees inhabiting the Superdome are going to be moved -to another domed stadium:
HOUSTON – At least 25,000 of Hurricane Katrina's refugees, a majority of them at the New Orleans Superdome, will travel in a bus convoy to Houston starting Wednesday and will be sheltered at the 40-year-old Astrodome, whichhasn't been used for professional sporting events in years.
I hope they can actually get them out before it's too late. This story is getting more tragic by the hour.

It's Not About the Oil, Stupid!

Or maybe it is now.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

History Are Hard

Our history challenged president is at it again. The headline reads:
Bush compares Iraq war to WWII
OK, name one way Iraq is like WWII. Oh, wait here's one from the President:

He said that as in the time of World War II, the United States now faces "a ruthless enemy" and "once again we will not rest until victory is America's and our freedom is secure."

Bush invoked the memory of ... an optimistic [Franklin] Roosevelt calling on Americans to defend liberty. He portrayed Roosevelt's vision as similar to his own -- a commitment to spreading freedom even when U.S. allies were not convinced it was the best course.

Umm, what WWII allies weren't into the freedom thing? Britain? France? Canada? India? Maybe the Belgians? I guess you could say the Soviet Union but they were only an "ally" of convenience. As I recall, the U.S. was one of the last nations to join in the war to "spread freedom" (OK, Brazil did join in later than we did).

And for that matter, what ally today is opposed to "spreading freedom"? Just because most governments are wise enough not to go about "spreading freedom" in a way that kills a lot of people and doesn't really bring much freedom anyway, is not an indication they oppose freedom or its spread. I'm constantly amazed at the childish level of oratory that emerges from this administration.

Homeland Security

So, it seems homeland security literally stops at the water's edge:
It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.

-- Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish,
Louisiana; New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 8, 2004.
Ask the refugees living in horrible conditions in the Superdome how secure they feel. Probably not as secure as the wealthy recipients of Bush's tax cuts. It's one thing to be giving away money when everything else is taken care of and quite another when you have lingering infrastructure problems and a never-ending war of choice to fight.

Hat tip to Atrios for the link.


The Inside Dope gets it!

Tuesday Great Aunt Blogging: The Return of the Democratic Wars

I look a week off from Great Aunt blogging last week due to my recuperation from "minor" surgery. By the way, surgery is never "minor" when they cut you open, slice muscle and otherwise goof with yer inerds.

Anyway, items from the scrapbook of my 1950s wingnut Great Aunt who I never knew are back this week. This time we revisit the popular notion of Democrat Wars. That is, in the long and well-documented tradition of Republican non-sequitur smears that continue even today, the Democrats in the early 1950s were to blame by the opposition for WWI (Wilson), WWII (Roosevelt) and Korea (Truman). I previously posted another cartoon that was a little more blatant but this one also makes it clear the Dems love a good, and presumably unnecessary war. That in addition to their love of taxes.

Image hosted by

If only those Dems of yesteryear knew what we know now; you can start a war and reduce taxes all at the same time! Just put it on the Deficit One credit card. The kids will pick up the tab, don't worry.

Monday, August 29, 2005


I knew this would happen.

New Orleans Blog

For the latest updates on what is going on in New Orleans try this exellent blog. Hat tip to JeromeProphet for the link.

Here's one of the first pictures out of the hurricane ravaged city.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Pray for New Orleans

One month ago I was in New Orleans.

I had never been there before but instantly fell in love with it. Not since I first stopped in San Francisco when I was 18 have I been so taken by a city. Tonight New Orleans literally faces destruction. Check out this statement from the National Weather Service:







I've never read such a graphic statement from the usually bland and understated National Weather Service.

And then there's this:

When Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans on Monday, it could turn one of America's most charming cities into a vast cesspool tainted with toxic chemicals, human waste and even coffins released by floodwaters from the city's legendary cemeteries.

Experts have warned for years that the levees and pumps that usually keep New Orleans dry have no chance against a direct hit by a Category 5 storm.

That's exactly what Katrina was as it churned toward the city. With top winds of 165 mph and the power to lift sea level by as much as 28 feet above normal, the storm threatened an environmental disaster of biblical proportions, one that could leave more than 1 million people homeless.

One MILLION homeless! From one city.

Lets hope the storm weakens or moves in a different direction or something. I just can't believe this is really going to happen.

On a personal note, before I left for my trip to New Orleans last month I checked the tropical forecast to make sure there was no chance of a hurricane or tropical storm ruining my vacation. Even while there, I checked being slightly nervous about it. I also would occasionally remember all the Gulf hurricanes over the years that eventually missed the city but before that was a certainty, warnings were relayed as to how devastating it would be if one did hit New Orleans directly. I thought about how lucky I was to be there before such a storm did hit some day. Little did I know then, that was about to happen. It's sickening to think that all I saw and experienced there could be gone or ruined by this time tomorrow.

UPDATE: 10:35 pm -- Aaron Brown on CNN has wall-to-wall coverage on what he is calling "The Storm of Our Lifetime". CNN even has a reporter standing on Bourbon Street where the party the never ends has apparently ended. He reports only one bar is open and they were getting ready to close. Now that's serious.

And in case you think this storm won't affect you, CNN is also reporting that oil imports, much of which come through Gulf ports, is being disrupted due to the storm. Guess what that means.

UPDATE II: Comic (I think) relief - Thank God Katrina STILL hasn't ruined Bush's summer vacation

UPDATE III: I keep hearing references and comparisons from "old timers" on the news about 1969's Hurricane Camille. I was nine years old at the time, living here in Springfield, and remember the news coverage of Camille. It's my oldest memory of a weather-related news event (but not my oldest memory of any news event since I recall the assassination of RFK in 1968 and the first moon landing in July 1969, a few weeks before Camille). The only reason I remember Camille is because it was so devastating. Hearing Camille's name being used again sends a shiver up my spine.

Lingering Questions

Jim over at AbeLog has posted an interesting question:
What will we call the 183rd Fighter Wing when it doesn't have fighters and it doesn't have wings anymore?
As one of his commenters says, the military will come up with something. But the larger point here is this: The 183rd is being dissolved. Once the planes, their pilots and support crews move to Indiana, the 183rd exists no more. The military routinely dissolves units to meet its operational needs. The 183rd will soon just be a part of Springfield history. The units that remain and are added to the bases at Capital Airport will have their own designations.

I do, however, have some questions of my own.

What about Air Rendezvous? Will not having the facilities for an active flying unit hinder the airport's ability to but on an air show that always includes military aircraft. Obviously, the 183rd's portion of the annual air show will be lost forever but what about the other (military) participants who used the 183rd's facilities?

How much does this hurt the airport? I assume the presence of the 183rd contributed greatly to the economic vitality of Capital Airport. Even with the 183rd, the airport has often teetered on, if not insolvency then irrelevancy due to lack of commercial use. Right now it seems to be doing alright with its commercial flights but it has not always been so and I just wonder if not having the 183rd the airport might not survive the next crisis.

Why have an engine repair facility here? How is it that it wasn't cost effective to have jets flying out of Springfield but it is cost effective to put in an engine repair facility that repairs engines from planes that aren't here? I don't know what kind of engines are going to be repaired but the are going to have to be trucked or flown in and out. It would seem more cost efficient to repair the engines where the planes are.

Will we ever have a flying unit here again? Sadly, I think the answer to that is almost certainly "no". The Air Force is getting rid of older aircraft to make room for newer models. The newer planes are more versatile and more expensive so the Air Force will be utilizing fewer planes overall and that has a trickle down effect on the Air National Guard units.

Friday, August 26, 2005

So Long...

The BRAC Commission voted tonight to recommend moving the planes of the 183rd to Ft. Wayne, IN. That means they almost certainly will be moved.

And thank you Bush Administration for proposing this in the first place! You've met all my expectations once again.

UPDATE: Jim over at AbeLog says Congressman Ray Lahood is mildly miffed but so what:
For the record, Congressman Ray LaHood says he's very displeased about the decision to give our jets to Indiana, especially given his unflagging support for the Bush administration's military decisions over the years, and he plans to clearly communicate his displeasure to the White House.

Yeah, a stern talking-to. That'll work. LaHood is learning that loyalty is a one-way street with this White House. They demand it, but only return it when it suits their purposes.
Mr. LaHood, you are no John Thune.

Ellsworth [Air Force Base] is a major base for B-1B bombers. The Pentagon's decision in May to recommend closing the base as part of a series of cost-cutting measures concerned Sen. John Thune, a freshman South Dakota Republican who unseated then-Sen. Minority Leader Tom Daschle, a Democrat, last year.

During his campaign, Thune repeatedly claimed he would have more success at keeping the base open, saying that as a fellow Republican he would have greater access to President Bush.

Thune and fellow members of the state's bipartisan congressional delegation launched an intense campaign to convince the very influential BRAC panel to overturn the recommendation.

Of course, the BRAC Commission voted Ellsworth should remain open.

BRAC Live 2

The BRAC Commission is about to reconvene. I'm starting a new thread here on the fate of the 183rd Fighter Wing which is in the hands of the BRAC.

6: 01pm -- C-SPAN2 has live coverage again. Commission members are gathering.

6:02 pm -- C-SPAN2 says it will be another 20 minutes before the commission is ready to start, they cut away to items recorded earlier today.

6:19 pm -- It has started.

6:21 pm -- It looks they are going over ground (and votes) they already covered today but in a different way. They appear to be starting from the beginning again on the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units. Perhaps they felt they weren't doing things correctly earlier.

6:35 pm -- The Commission is looking at all units that have the same type of aircraft as a group. That is, all units having F-16s be they Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard will be considered at once. Members can bring amendments for individual units, however, before the vote on the full package is taken. Right now they are considering the future of a number of KC-135 (in-flight fueling tanker) units.

6:40 pm -- They are now considering the A-10 (ground support) units.

6:50 pm -- They are now considering the F-15 (twin engine fighter) units. F-16s, like those in the 183rd, are next.

6:58 pm -- They are taking a ten-minute break. Things are going much more smoothly and more quickly this time. The commission is essentially now where they were when they broke earlier this afternoon. The F-16s are next.

7:00 pm -- C-SPAN2 is taking calls again -yawn.

7:08 pm -- A caller from Springfield!

7:09 pm -- The Commission is back.

7:14 pm -- Commission member (and Illinoisan) Sam Skinner wants a separate vote on the 183rd!!!!!!!!!! That is a VERY good sign!!!!

7:15 pm -- They completed the vote on the other F-16 bases. The 183rd and another unit are to be considered separately.

7:16 pm -- The other unit (a Texas unit) is up first.

7:24 pm -- The amendment on theTexas unit was defeated 7-2. Gulp.

7:25 pm -- The 183rd is up NOW!

7:26 pm -- Skinner discovers his motion would be "out of order" and calls it off!!!


Well there you have it. Say goodbye to the 183rd, folks.

I'm just guessing here but it sounded like Skinner wanted to move the Ft. Wayne unit here rather than the other way around. But since moving Ft. Wayne's planes around wasn't on the table, it would have been considered "out of order". That's my summation of what just happened. If true, good lord Sam, I wish you had had your shit together.

UPDATE: Here's the SJR's first take online:
The independent Base Realignment and Closure Commission voted 8-1 Friday night to move the F-16 jets from Springfield's Air National Guard base to Fort Wayne, Ind., as recommended by the Pentagon.

The lone dissenting vote was from commissioner Samuel Skinner, an Illinois native who visited the 183rd Fighter Wing and other Illinois bases targeted for closure or realignment in June.

Skinner said before the vote that he wanted to make a motion to move Fort Wayne's fighter jets to Springfield instead, due to the Springfield base's higher military ranking, but was prevented by the BRAC requirements from doing so.

The decision will likely end up in court, as Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Gov. Rod Blagojevich have sued the Department of Defense to prevent the Springfield jets' transfer.

Blagojevich and Madigan, both Democrats, said the Pentagon violated federal law by recommending the transfer. They contend the governor must consent to any changes in Illinois' Air National Guard bases. The Pentagon says the federal law to which Blagojevich and Madigan refer does not apply to the BRAC process.

Dumbest Call

As you know, I spent a great deal of time monitoring C-SPAN2 today watching the BRAC Commission deliberations on military base closings. During breaks in the action C-SPAN2 took calls. I rarely listen to C-SPAN or C-SPAN2 call-in shows because, frankly, I get tired of the idiots who call. I can get that on talk radio anytime. And it is particularly annoying because the C-SPAN folks remain completely detached from the calls, essentially allowing anyone to spew any disinformation they like without correction. That is generally one of my criteria for listening to a talk show; the host/moderator must be able to step in and stop the bullshit before it hangs out their for all to believe. WMAY's Jim Leach is a good example of someone who tries to keep the callers honest (much to the annoyance of those who are only interested in scoring political points and not the facts).

Anyway, today, I left C-SPAN2 on even during the call segments and, as usual, the callers could say anything completely unchallenged, no matter how stupid. The big argument among callers was whether or not the residents of Clovis, New Mexico were nice to the servicemen stationed at nearby Cannon Air Force Base. Yeah, whatever. But the best call of the day (i.e. most stupid) was from a woman who was glad that Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota was allowed to remain open because it is only one of two bases that have B-1 bombers. Her fear was that if the bombers were all put on one base (as was the plan) "the terrorist" could easily blow up all the B-1s at once! This way, not ALL the B-1s could be wiped out in one terrorist attack! I was slapping myself on the forehead for 10 minutes after that.

Ruling to Save 183rd?

Here's more on that ruling today that might block the federal government from moving the 183rd out of Springfield:
PHILADELPHIA - In a blow to the Pentagon's plan to shake up National Guard units, a judge ruled Friday that the Defense Department does not have the authority to dissolve a Pennsylvania Air National Guard division without the governor's approval.

U.S. District Judge John R. Padova said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld should have gotten consent from Gov. Ed Rendell before moving to deactivate the 111th Fighter Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard. The judge said the Pentagon's recommendation to close the unit is "null and void."

Several other states have filed, or are considering, similar lawsuits.

The BRAC commission abruptly adjourned for a three-hour recess around 3:00 pm our time this afternoon but I'm not clear this ruling is the reason. I was all prepared for what amounted to a final decision on the 183rd this afternoon but even if the BRAC commission votes the 183rd away tonight, this ruling now leaves me with at least a little hope.


1:10 pm --The BRAC folks just took a short break and when hey get back they will be discussing the various Air National Guard base closings/realignments including the fate of the 183rd.

1:20 pm -- They're back.

2:30 pm -- St. Louis just lost the F-15s of the 131st Fighter Wing.

2:34 pm -- They are making recommendations in order of aircraft type. They just started with F-16s so that means us. However, they are starting with Air Force Reserve units before going to Air National Guard units so it will be a few minutes before the 183rd is on the block.

2:42 pm -- They are taking a ten-minute recess and when they come back it's the Air National Guard F-16s. It's show time.

2:50 pm -- Note this from CNN:
"As the commission began debating a huge shakeup of the Air National Guard, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled that the Pentagon lacks the authority to close a Pennsylvania Air National Guard unit without the governor's approval. The ruling declared the decision to close that state's unit "null and void." It wasn't immediately clear what impact that would have on the commission's deliberations."
This could be important because Illinois has also said that the federal government lacks such authority and has filed a suit of its own.

2:55 pm -- The ten-minute break is taking a little longer than advertised.

3:04 pm -- They're back again.

3:07 pm -- Crap, they are recessing until 6:00 pm our time to go over, in private, some technical issues regarding Air Guard units. (Note: I originally said 8:00 pm our time but it's 6:00 pm. I'll learn my times zones before retirement age, I promise. They are out for a three hour recess, I'll put it that way.)

3:18 pm -- I'll start a new thread at 6:00. Or you can just watch C-SPAN-2 you daytime cubicle dwellers.

The Daily Erection

It's with a heavy heart I must come down hard on my alma mater's (SIU Carbondale) student newspaper, The Daily Egyptian. Just read this from the blog Out of the Box:
For two years the Daily Egyptian (the student newspaper of Southern Illinois University) has unwittingly been a tool in perpetuating a cruel hoax on it's readers. The story of a marine father deployed in Iraq, mostly told through the perspective of his young motherless daughter. One problem... He didn't exist and the child was a pawn who had been tricked into believing that she was involved in filming a documentary.

The hoax only began to unravel when the child's "caretaker" went one step too far - claiming that the father was killed in Iraq. The Daily Egyptian has now filed at least two mea culpa's but they've gone a step farther - they've scrubbed all of the previous articles, columns, and letters from their archives. Is that the responsible thing to do?
Out of the Box goes on to dig up the original "scrubbed" article. It's a total sham. I can't believe anyone would be taken by this without doing some verifying. I suppose the rationale for removing the offending items could be that since it is false, they didn't want to make it available for someone to inadvertently stumble across and wind up believing. Maybe that is the right thing to do, I don't know.

In their mea culpa, the DE has this explanation for their screw up:
We didn't check the facts carefully. We believed what we were told without verifying. We weren't as skeptical as we are supposed to be. We were fooled by a little girl with a cute smile, surrounded by a group of adults who acted the hoax with her.
Boy, that sounds an awful lot like the mainstream media in the run-up to the war in Iraq. Only instead of a little girl with a cute smile surrounded by adults we got a little President surrounded by lying enablers.

For it's misdeeds, the DE even made Atrios' Wankers of the Day today where I got the tip on all this.

I've Got Your BRAC

Just to show what a real geek I am, I have become hooked on the BRAC hearings on C-SPAN 2. Stuck at home, recuperating from last week's surgery, the TV has been a constant companion. With Springfield's 183rd Fighter Wing on the line, I decided to take a look at the process and now I can't stop. There's way too much drama. Whole communities have a lot riding on these decisions. Additionally, I enjoy the occasional slap at the Rumsfeld Department of Defense that inevitably emerges in these hearings.

The decision on the 183rd comes later today. I'm on the edge of my recliner.

Friday Beer Blogging: Cartoon Edtion

My mother tells me I was a huge fan of the Hamms beer bear commercials on TV when I was a toddler in the early 60s. I guess the advertising got to me. Well, in a general way; I haven't had a Hamms in 25 years.

But the Hamms bear is not the best known cartoon beer spokesman anymore. He hasn't been for years. No, Homer Simpson is the new king of TV suds. Sadly, his beer of choice is fictional as well. This Duff is for you.

Since it's well known that the Simpsons live in Springfield, and Duff is brewed in Springfield, I salute the only imaginary beer to be brewed here.

Say, that's an idea. Why doesn't someone start a Duff microbrewery here in Springfield? Think of the sales to tourists and Simpsons fans.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Line of the Times

"Make no mistake about why these babies are here -- they are here to replace us."

--Jerry Seinfeld who just became a dad for the third time.

Technology is Cool

I was reading Cindy Sheehan's latest post (from today) over at The Huffington Post and was struck by just how cool it is I can read the thoughts of a major newsmaker without the filter of "the news".

We see Cindy daily on newscasts and read about her in the papers but always framed by gatekeepers in the newsroom, be it Fox News or the The Village Voice. I like being able to skip the middleman.

CNN Blows Headline

C'mon headline writers. I've been waiting all morning for the Katrina and the Waves headline. Tropical storm Katrina is kicking up big waves on Florida's east coast. Yet, here's what did instead:

Oh, please! The story with that picture was just begging for a Katrina and the Waves reference.

And by the way, I refuse to even entertain the notion that maybe the one-hit (Walking on Sunshine) wonders of the mid-80s are too obscure even for the creatively challenged headline writers of the world. Nope, I won't accept that.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

BRAC and Forth

There is still hope for the 183rd Fight Wing jets staying in Springfield. Although the federal base closing commission has not yet voted on the fate of the 183rd, it has turned down one of the major base closing requests submitted by the Bush administration:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The national base closure commission voted Wednesday to save the U.S. Navy's submarine base in Connecticut, sparing about 8,000 jobs there.
I think this is important because it reveals that the BRAC is not going to automatically go along with all the Bush administration recommendations. Having said that, there is some ominous news:

However, as it began final voting Wednesday with lightning speed, the nine-member panel agreed with Pentagon proposals to close several other major bases elsewhere and, overall, approved many of the recommendations made by the Army and the Navy.

The panel agreed with closing Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson in Georgia, Fort Monroe in Virginia, Army Garrison Selfridge in Michigan and Fort Monmouth in New Jersey.

The panel also signed off on closing nearly 400 Army Reserve and National Guard facilities in dozens of states, creating instead new joint centers.

Much of the Army's proposal was approved in minutes and as a package.

That wording worries me. My fear is that the 183rd is too small for any serious consideration. That is, the BRAC members may not deliberate on the merits of each individual base closing or restructuring but instead give a thumbs up or down on "packages". This has been my fear all along; we just don't amount to enough to get any serious consideration.

NBC Says Robertson Not an "Extreme Cleric"

I saw this on the NBC Nightly News last night too but was not able to put up a post about it at the time. Atrios did and says it well:
NBC started their Robertson piece with "This was no extremist cleric issuing a death threat. This was Christian Minister Pat Robertson..."

Watch the clip here.

So, it's a non-extremist cleric issuing a death threat. What do the extremist Christian clerics do?
I about jumped out of my bed, pain and all, when I heard that opening statement to the Robertson story. So much for the "liberal media".

Fact is, Robertson is only one of many who have hijacked Christianity to serve their radical rightwing political ends. One of the ugliest things to appear on the American political landscape over the last 25 years has been the melding of these hateful, alleged men of God and the extremist politics of the new right. Robertson is the face of that evil.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Easy Answer

Why must this be a problem? Require payment before pumping. Problem solved, lives saved.

Does This State Make Me Look Fat?

Illinoisans tied for 22nd place (along with Kansans and Virginians) for being the fattest state residents in the U.S. This according to a report put out by a group called Trust for America's Health.

Congratulations Illinoisans for being in the middle of being big in the middle.

The states with the highest percentage of obese adults are Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, Louisiana and Tennessee according to the report. The states with the lowest percentage of obese adults are Colorado, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont and Montana.

I Remember That Day...27 Years Ago

Welcome new SIU students. Lucky bastards.

Later Bar Hours and the Terrorists Win

There's been a lot of discussion here in Springfield about the appropriateness of granting 3:00 am liquor licenses to drinking establishments in the city. But what we have failed to recognize is how such decisions impact the War on Terror. Over in Britain they are giving it some thought. Josh Marshall reprints a letter in the Times of London:
Effects of new drinking hours

Sir, I turned teetotal having seen, as a barrister, many lives destroyed by alcohol: those of both otherwise law-abiding citizens, who committed acts of violence when drunk, and their victims. many Muslim friends also see large-scale loutish alcoholism, and the society which permits it, as decadent.

Allowing pubs to open round the clock will increase Muslim disaffection and support for those fighting such decadence. Extended drinking hours may cause more terrorism.

Salford, Manchester

So see, the more we drink the more motivated the terrorists get. I think Alderman Judy Yeager needs to add this arrow to her quiver.

Best Fair Food

Now that the State Fair is over and I'm healing to the point where I can get back to blogging about totally useless things, I want to put in my vote for the best food I had at the Fair this year.

And the 2005 winner is: The falafel sandwich at the Turkish booth in the Ethnic Village.

Now, you may not think of a falafel as "fair food" but who can deny the Gyro is anymore. And a falafel is in the same family.

I'm hoping that booth is up and running during the Ethnic Festival in a couple of weeks.

My choice for second best fair food is an old reliable: a Vose's corn dog.

Christian Values

Man of God and right wing loony Pat Robertson supports murdering foreign leaders:
(CNN) -- Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson has called for the United States to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, calling him "a terrific danger" bent on exporting Communism and Islamic extremism across the Americas.

"If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson told viewers on his "The 700 Club" show Monday. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war."
Yes, Mr. Robertson is quite a Christian, pro-life and all that.

Actually, he is showing himself as a true modern American conservative that believes in viololence first and foremost in solving problems. What filth this man is.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Still Out of It

Ouch Day 5 isn't much better than Day 2 but my doctor swears that will soon change. Meanwhile, I try to post when I can.

Anyone see this on CNN last night? It was the first honest reporting on Iraq I've seen on that cable channel.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Beer Free Friday

No Friday Beer Blogging this week. Sorry, I forgot about it (the drugs again) and since I can't enjoy a tall cold one today (the drugs again) neither can you! At least not here. Bah, Humbug.

Blogging is Good For You

Mrs. TEH thinks I should just rest and stay away from the computer. But she's at work and can only scold me in comments or deride me by phone. Besides, I found this, which indicates blogs are a health food. This was written by a pair of doctors, Fernette and Brock Eide, who are "strong advocates for neurologically-based approaches to learning".
What effect is all this blogging having on the brains of bloggers?


After surveying the general range of materials that the blogosphere has to offer, we believe the following basic largely supportive conclusions are warranted:

1. Blogs can promote critical and analytical thinking.

2. Blogging can be a powerful promoter of creative, intuitive, and associational thinking.

3. Blogs promote analogical thinking.

4. Blogging is a powerful medium for increasing access and exposure to quality information.

5. Blogging combines the best of solitary reflection and social interaction.


In conclusion, it looks as if blogging will be very good for our brains. It holds enormous potential in education, and it could take societal communication and creative exchange onto a whole new level.
The good doctors provide much more detail for their conclusions above so go read them if you have any doubts.

Thanks to Kevin Drum for the pointer.

Ouch Day 2

The pain is subsiding slowly but the fog of painkillers is now taking a toll. How did Rush Limbaugh do it all those years? Does this give me license to make no sense what so ever, like Rush. Hmmmm, Rushbo can't totally be defined by his drug use because despite my fog-o-drugs I still think George Bush is a wanker.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch.

Update: ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Gone for a Day or Two

I have some minor surgery going on Wednesday morning so I'll be out of action for a short while. I probably won't feel like blogging later tomorrow and after that it becomes a question of mobility (can I get to my computer) for another couple of days.

Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

David Neiwert has another post on the eliminationist tendencies of the right wing in this country.

Len at Blogesque had a noteworthy post the other week about a bizarre incident in Fairfield, Ohio, in which a car belonging to the mother of a soldier recently killed in the Iraq war was set on fire by vandals who lit 20 small American flags, gathered from the lawn in front of their house, under it.

Predictably, the right was all afroth over the case, assuming the fires had been set by America-hating libruls, and even suggesting that it represented a "hate crime."

Quickly jumping ahead of events and without knowing the facts, the loony right wants to kill again. Niewert finds at least one poster at Free Republic calling for vilgilante action:
Actually, I think lynching should be brought back. And now I'm not being sarcastic. I hope I don't get in trouble for writing this. But I think people who do things like this should just go away, if you know what I mean? Find them and make them disappear.
That's a true Ameican. And you can bet this guy thinks he is a true American too.

Neiwert completes the tale:
Then it turned out that a couple of local teenagers were charged with the crime: ages 15 and 13. There's no evidence at all that it was a political act; as far as anyone can tell, they just wanted to set something on fire and the flags were handy as a firestarter.
But the wingnuts were ready to go out and kill liberals over the incident, the facts be damed.

Rainy Days

Don't look now but we just had four straight days (Friday - Monday) with at least some precipitation. Has that happened in any other four consecutive day period this year?

Word on the farm is that the rain may save the soybeans but it came too late for the corn.

From an Older American

So, the CH. 20 morning news is on in the background this morning as I was getting ready for work. The news reader starts in on the obligatory Elvis-died-on-this-date-in-1977 story. I begin to remember where I was that day. I was 17 and working in a book store (The BookMarket) in the newly opened White Oaks Mall. I'm brought back to reality when I hear the Ch. 20 chick say, "Many older Americans remember where they were that day". So now I don't have to wait for my AARP membership; I'm already an older American.

Tuesday Great Aunt Blogging: Foreign Agent Edition

Well, well, well it looks like Mr. Truman was a little less American than we have been lead to believe. Apparently, he was susceptible to the seductions of foreign heads of state. Or former foreign heads of state.

Here we have evidence Winston Churchill.

Image hosted by

One interesting thing about this cartoon is that Churchill is not identified by name (the writing at the top is my great aunt's). In 1952 even a cartoon of the former British prime minister was easily recognizable. What world leader today would appear in a political cartoon unidentified?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Odenkirk Supports the Troops

It's with great pleasure I FINALLY get to link to the political musings of Bob Odenkirk.

Bob and I worked together in college (SIU Carbondale) at one of the campus radio stations (WIDB). He was way beyond funny then and has only gotten better over the years. I truly was one of his first fans even if he was just one of us at the time. I'll have to do a longer post on Bob's antics back in the day.

I'll leave you with this though: I learned how NOT to laugh on the air as a newsman because of Bob. You see, he and his band of merry funsters had weekly radio comedy show on Thursday nights (I think) at like 10:00 PM. I did the news at 9:55. These guys were in the studio, totally pumped to get started with their wackiness while I read the boring news. Well, as you can imagine, they were merciless to the dumb, serious (on the air) newsguy. But I soon built a fortitude that allowed me to get through a newscast without laughing despite their best attempts. Well, some of the time. After that, I only cracked up once in my professional radio career. Maybe that story later.

Tom To Say Goodby

I ran into this message on Tom Snyder's blog the other day:
Folks, this website will disappear from the Internet on Monday, August First. My wrist is healing nicely and life is returning to normal. But its time to move on. Believe me, I have enjoyed our time together here on the Internet. But it has been almost six years since this site went up, and the novelty of communicating this way has worn off. Too many e-mails these days want copies of old shows, autographed photos, recordings of theme songs, and so on and so on.

My feelings about the country and the way it is going have been expressed here many times and do not need repeating. I think a lot of us who come here feel the same way--and share the hope that somehow good will prevail, and evil will not. I will always treasure the friendships I have made with the listeners and the viewers through the years. And those friendships will not be forgotten. I will always wish all of you the very best--in everything! As I have said on so many occasions, thanks for the memories! The good and the not so good. And for all the kindness you showed me over the years!
I thought this sudden sign-off was odd. Snyder has been battling cancer, I wonder if it's taking a toll.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Sheehan Says

American hero Cindy Sheehan is now a blogger of sorts. She posts on, what else, the Huffington Post Blog.

Not to be Missed

This post by JeromeProphet on one of Springfield's original families and the hardship they endured. Let's never kid ourselves that those were in anyway better times. I often think about the horrible loss of children's lives that routinely occurred in the not-so-distant past. I don't think I would have been strong enough to endure the death of multiple children.

I recently heard a an interview on NPR with a man who has authored a book on medical practices during the Civil War. What was really depressing was his answer to the question, "What medical advances were made during the Civil War era?". The answer: almost none. In fact, by 1865 medicine still hadn't advanced much since the time of Christ. They knew nothing of bacteria and other microorganisms, had no effective medicine and understood nothing of healthy hygiene.

Say what you will about the invention of the auto or airplane or the computer but the medical advances made beginning in the late 19th century and continuing today are THE big leap forward for humankind.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Parental Notification

One of those great parental moments occurred at the State Fair today for me. My two-year-old rode his first carnival ride by himself. Mrs. TEH and I were busting with joy and pride while he spun around and around.

It was the helicopter ride in Adventure Village. I was so afraid he would get scared and cry wanting it to stop while we stood by helpless to do anything, permanently destroying his trust in us. Mrs. TEH was afraid he would get loose from his (Velcro!) seatbelt, climb out of the ride and be crushed by the machinery. Is there anything more pathetic, fearful and delusional than a parent?

But you know what, he did great. He really liked it. He didn’t freak out and didn’t plummet to his death. He just had fun on a ride. And later had fun on many more rides.

Note: my worst fears did come to pass when we pushed the limits a bit and allowed him to ride the kiddy roller coaster alone. He did cry and now my parental paranoia reset button has been pushed.

Big F***ing Surprise

Didn't see this one coming:
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Justice Department is siding with the Pentagon in a dispute with Illinois and a handful of other states, concluding that governors' consent isn't needed for the military to move Air National Guard units.
Really. You mean to tell me that the Bush Justice Department doesn't think the Bush Defense Department is doing anything wrong. That's a stunning turn of events. I never would have predicted it. Well gosh, we might as well just give up and go home. See ya 183rd, the Bush administration has made its decision. Remember that Springfield Bush lovers. I don't want any of you complaining about the 183rd leaving. To question Dear Leader is to embrace the terrorists is what I've been told over and over and over....

But heavens, someone does think there is something smelly about this convenient collaboration:
Pennsylvania officials questioned the propriety of the Justice Department offering opinions to the base closing commission while also representing the Defense Department against the state's lawsuit.

"Where is the independent judgment or analysis?" asked Adrian R. King Jr., an aide to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. "As far as this state's concerned, the only opinion that matters is the opinion of a judge in a court of law and that's why we filed the lawsuit."
Oh banish the thought! If the Bush justice Department says its OK for the Bush Defense Department to do something, then it must be so.
Pennsylvania has a long history of treason anyway. Like that time those guys tried to Declare Independence form the legitimate government of the land in 1776. Stupid blue state.

Secret Admirer

Anyone care to own up to this?

Checking one's Site Meter often pays off in interesting ways. It's actually quite a nice looking site with a couple of good, local photos adorning the home (and only) page.

Since JeromeProphet and I are the only two bloggers listed I'm thinking it's my mom (she knows JP too).

Her: Isn't it nice those two boys are playing together again; this time on the internet.

Me: Oh, mom!

Update: Oops, I have the story now thanks to Russ who in comments, unwittingly, answered my question. Unfortunately, he revealed the name of someone who doesn't want to be known on the internet by their real name. So I have deleted comments and, ummm, moved on. Thanks Russ, you're too efficient for my own good.

Geez, blogger's dilemma. I could have deleated this whole post but since a few people have already looked at it I figured I needed to leave it up for some explanation.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Strom Clouds Gather

I'm way late on commenting on this but it was a busy day today (picnicing, boating and washing machine shopping) so I'm still trying to catch up.

Anyway, Springfield Alderman Bruce Strom is taking no prisoners in his quest for a good smoking ban in Springfield:
Strom said he will introduce the smoking ban to the city council by next week. Strom's ordinance would ban smoking everywhere except outside, in private homes and apartments, hotel rooms and rooms inside nursing homes where all residents have agreed to permit smoking. Smoking would be banned in all restaurants, bars and bowling alleys.
I said earlier I would accept a compromise that only banned smoking in restaurants but I'm more than happy to ride along with Strom's blitz to rid smoking from virtually all pubic places.

I was also pleased the SJ-R finally noted there may be a connection between Mayor Tim Davlin's entrenched opposition to a wider smoking ban and his brother's ownership of a couple of city drinking establishments.
Mayor Tim Davlin... has said he will oppose the ordinance because it's a decision for business owners to make on their own. Davlin's brother, Kevin, is a bar owner.

BRAC to the Future

The Bloomington Pantagraph had a couple of interesting items in their version of the latest chapter in the BRAC/183rd Fighter Wing story.

First, I didn't know this but apparently Pennsylvania has, like Illinois, sued the federal government over the whole National Guard base closing/realignment thing.
Two states, Pennsylvania and Illinois, have sued over the Air Guard proposal arguing that the Pentagon doesn't have the authority to move units without each governor's consent. The Pentagon disagrees. The Justice Department has been asked to weigh in. A commission spokesman said the commission has received an opinion from the Justice Department, but neither the spokesman nor commissioners would disclose what it says.
It's good to have allies. The Coalition of the We're Not Going to Take It, Bub.

The other is a framing issue Illinois Democrats might want to pounce on: it's the Bush administration in general and Donald Rumsfeld in particular who want to take our NG units away.
The proposed shake-up of dozens of Air Guard units has emerged as the most contentious part of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's proposal to close, shrink or expand hundreds of military bases and other installations nationwide.


Rumsfeld's Air Guard plan calls for shifting people, equipment and aircraft among at least 54 sites where units now are stationed. Roughly two dozen sites would expand, while about 30 are slated for closure or downsizing, including the Capital Airport Air Guard Station in Springfield, Ill., which would lose 163 jobs under the proposal.

(Emphasis mine)
It's true, folks. This isn't Bill Clinton's, or Dick Durbin's or John Kerry's idea. No, this comes straight from the military geniuses in the Bush administration. I call on all Springfield Republicans, who almost universally support their President without question, to actively support the moving of the 183rd jets and much of its personnel. I mean, to question the administration in a time of war is just plain treasonous! Right? That's what I keep hearing from you all.


Well, in case you had any doubts about it, Springfield is a conservative city. In fact, it ranks as the 59th most conservative city in the U.S. with a population over 100,000. This according to the Bay Area Center for Voting Research. Peoria comes in at 97, Rockford and Joliet at 114 and 115 respectively, and Aurora at 125. Naperville is the most conservative Illinois city with a ranking of 45 nationally.

The most liberal city in Illinois? Chicago, coming in at number 17 nationally. Other liberal Illinois cities include Aurora at 116, Joliet at 123 and Rockford at 124. So somehow Aurora, Rockford and Joliet are both liberal and conservative...or something.

A hat tip to Kevin Drum for the pointer to this silliness.

Yeah, Now That You Mention It

From Kos
The Right pretends to side with "middle America" against the "coastal elites", but the denizens of the Right Wing Spin Machine all live in the coasts, well-heeled members of the intellectual elite. They are everything they claim to despise.
I hate when I learn something that should have been perfectly obvious in the first place.

Sheehan the Light

The Huffington Post Blog went all Cindy Sheehan, all the time yesterday (and continues somewhat today) with almost every post dealing with some aspect of the anti-war movement's new de facto leader. Sheehan isn't looking for a leadership role, just to speak with the President about why her son had to die in Iraq.

The fact that a grieving mother has become the lead anti-war spokesperson is kind of sad since we, supposedly, have an opposition political party that should be taking up that cause. One of the HuffPo's contributors yesterday, Senator Gary Hart, makes this point rather well:

If democracy only works when there is open discussion of opposing ideas and policies, and if the opposition party, in this case the Democrats, has hand-cuffed, blind-folded, gagged, and hog-tied itself to a failed invasion and occupation in the Middle East, where will the expanding majority of Americans look for a representative, a spokesperson, a voice for their anger, frustration, and distrust at being misled?

The circumstances suggest it should be a Senate or House Democratic leader, a recognized authority on foreign policy constantly seen on the Sunday talk shows, certainly one of the many “leaders” lining up to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for president in 2008.

Strangely, no one in any of those categories comes to mind. Their voices are silent. Thus, both they and the party they claim or presume to represent look dumbstruck, awkward, pitiful, and timid. Where the single greatest issue of the day, and one of the most potent issues of our time, is concerned, there is no courageous opposition.

Meanwhile, the caskets keep coming home…with no public official to greet them or to respect them. They are the forgotten dead and they represent thousands more of the even more forgotten wounded.

Indeed. This is why I am not a Democrat. I want an opposition party that will stand up for what is right and not cower before the mighty Rupublican smear machine. A majority of the American public doesn't like what the Republicans are doing to this country but find not leadership in the Democrats either. If the Dems want stand up to their political opponents, they figure, how are they going to deal with threats internal and external.

Go read the whole thing and hang around and read all the other Cindy-centric posts from yesterday and today.

Gas Pains

Gas is $2.55/gallon at the Qik-N-EZ on Chatham Rd. The cheap gas, that is. Higher grades are more. This has to be hurting yet I hear almost no one talking about cutting down on unneccesary trips and I certainly don't see fewer cars on the road here in town.

Update: Oh nevermind, the Gov has a plan. I'll stop worrying now.

Friday Beer Blogging: Open Source Edition

Note: Today's beer blogging is courtesy of a tip from Rich Miller of The Capitol Fax Blog.

First it was software and now beer has gone open source. I present Linux Beer!'s actually called Vores Oel and it's from Denmark. The BBC has the story:
The Danes love their beer, but increasingly they are looking beyond the old Danish standby, Carlsberg, to quench their thirst.

Students from the Information Technology University in Copenhagen are trying to help by releasing what they are calling the world's first open source beer recipe.

It is called Vores Oel, or Our Beer, and the recipe is proving to be a worldwide hit.

The idea behind the beer comes from open source software. This is software whose code is made publicly available for anyone to change and improve, provided that those changes and improvements are then shared in turn.
Basically, the Vores Oel folks provide you with their beer recipe and you can do what you want with it.

Image hosted by

Why open source beer? The Vores Oel web site says:

Why not? We all like beer, and as an added bonus there is a legendary quote used to explain the concept of free software (now usually referred to as open source software):

"Free software" is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of "free" as in "free speech", not as in "free beer".

We think that our open source beer is a nice twist on this quote, and we think it is interesting to see if our beer grows stronger in out in the free and perhaps one day becomes the Linux of beers. Who knows?

Well, I like free speech AND free beer. In fact, the freer the beer, the freer my speech is. And gee, if Miller Lite would just go open source someone might be able to give it some taste.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Victory is in the Air

And that air soon won't smell of smoke. Jim at AbeLog thinks a smoking ban, at least for city restaurants, is now almost certain. It sure is looking that way and I couldn't be happier about it.

Lung Cancer on the March

Another one...
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Barbara Bel Geddes, the winsome actress who rose to stage and movie stardom but reached her greatest fame as Miss Ellie Ewing in the long-running TV series "Dallas," has died. She was 82.

The San Francisco Chronicle said she died Monday of lung cancer at her home in Northeast Harbor, Maine.
Man, what's with all the lung cancer in the celebrity world of late?

Blogroll Updates

You may have noticed my blog links have been updated and reorganized. And it's already in need of updating. I split may old Illinois Blogroll into Springfield and (other) Illinois blogs.

I had previously left off Rich Miller's The Capitol Fax Blog for some reason. Not sure why considering I look at CFB daily and occasionally link to it here. Although based here in Springfield, I included Rich in the Illinois Blogs section because he deals primarily with State government/politics and stays away from local Springfield items

Amy Allen's Obiter Dictum is deserving of a link simply because Amy is way too dedicated to blogging. It also serves as a balance to all the commie liberals I'm otherwise inclined to link to.

Quad Cities blogger The Inside Dope was added to my Illinois Blogs just cuz I like the site. Mr. Dope feels it's good to post a weather radar shot. Know anyone else like that?

God Help Us

President Cheney?

Update: Ha, ha, Ezra Klein has Cheney fever already:
Please please please let the GOP run a 69-year old with multiple heart attacks, business ties that make Bush look ascetic, a history of extremist statements, and all the charm of a table leg you just stubbed your toe on. Let Cheney lumber up the stage, mumbling his inverse Joe Friday, jes-the-lies speeches from that impossibly limber half inch on the right side of his mouth.

Sorry, but the Democratic party has proven one thing, and one thing only, in its last couple of elections: you don't run candidates who scoff at charisma. Cheney makes Kerry look like a laugh party, he makes Gore look like Hitch. They can run him, but for a party whose main task ("compassionate conservatism") is convincing folks that they're not evil, running this artist's rendering of a corrupt corporate overlord would be a hell of an oversight.

Which is to say, No! Don't run Cheney! We'll never beat him! O', woe is us!

Stuck in Neutral

Bob Herbert points out the obvious (but largely unspoken) today in his New York Times column.
The administration is not willing to commit to an all-out effort to defeat the insurgents in Iraq, and is equally unwilling to reverse course and bring the troops home. Most Americans are abandoning the idea that the war can be "won." Polls are showing that they're tired of the conflict and its relentlessly mounting toll. It's hard to imagine that the population at large will be willing to sacrifice thousands of additional American lives over several more years in pursuit of goals that remain as murky as ever.

Ask a thousand different suits in Washington why we're in Iraq and you'll get a thousand different answers. Ask how we plan to win the war, and you'll get a blank stare.
And that is exactly why you don't get into something as serious as a war with no plan. There really is no easy way to extract ourselves from the Iraq tar baby.

UPDATE: Juan Cole is on the same page today:
President Bush is doing a high wire act without a net in Iraq. He cannot increase US troop strength in hopes of destroying the guerrilla movement, because the US does not have the extra troops. He also cannot keep 138,000 US troops in Iraq for another year without risking destroying the all-volunteer army. So he has to draw down. But if he does that too fast or in a strategically flat-footed way, the guerrills could kill off the new elected government and through Iraq-- and the oil-producing Gulf region-- into massive turmoil. The Bush administration is therefore proposing a rolling withdrawal, without fixed deadlines or targets, but simply bringing out US units when Iraqi units can take over. (The problem with this strategy is a) that it can be thwarted by a simple ratcheting up of guerrilla attacks, requiring delays in US drawdowns and b) the Iraqi troops probably are not going to be ready for 5 years.)

Blowing Smoke

We are one step closer to having smoke-free restaurants in Springfield.
The governor's wrestling match with legislation allowing local smoking bans ended Wednesday when he approved the measure.


HB 672 revises the Illinois Clean Indoor Act of 1989, which generally requires that smoking be contained in designated areas at public locations and workplaces and prohibits cities from adding stricter regulations. When the law was enacted, only the 21 communities with existing clean-air ordinances were allowed to set local smoking policy.

Groups such as the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society have since lobbied for local control over indoor-air laws, citing the effects of second-hand smoke on restaurant and bar workers and nonsmokers.

The new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, returns the choice to municipalities.


Springfield Ward 10 Ald. Bruce Strom in June said he would push an ordinance that would ban smoking in all enclosed workplaces, although only Ward 8 Ald. Irv Smith supported Strom's proposal at the time. Mayor Tim Davlin said then that he would oppose an indoor smoking ban.

Let the battle begin. In the end, some sort of smoking ban will pass here. I would settle for having it only apply to restaurants but it would be great if it were even more comprehensive.

Listening to the Jim Leach Show this morning on WMAY, I heard complaints that any smoking ban would be taking away "rights". As I've said before, your "right" to smoke ends where your filthy habit pollutes the air I'm breathing. Go home, lock yourself in the bathroom and smoke your brains out. Have fun. Just keep your poisons away from me and my family. Anyone who can't refrain from smoking long enough to eat a meal and pay their bill, has a serious problem.

Similar bans around the country (and world) are working fine. Businesses aren't folding and smokers are somehow managing to feed their addiction. So when you hear the bogus arguments that business will be hurt and rights are being violated, remember bans are working just fine elsewhere.

It's now time to put pressure on our aldermen to get the restrictions imposed in the city. Hard as it is to believe, it likely will not be easy. Just look at the mayor's stand.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Bogged Down

This isn't good.
A vast expanse of western Sibera is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists warn today.

Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.

It is a scenario climate scientists have feared since first identifying "tipping points" - delicate thresholds where a slight rise in the Earth's temperature can cause a dramatic change in the environment that itself triggers a far greater increase in global temperatures.
Good thing global warming doesn't really exist, otherwise this might be a serious development. Now, where'd I park my Hummer.

Those Who Hate Need a God Too

Somehow I missed these posts yesterday by Rich Miller and Mike Wilson.

How absolutely vile these protesters are. And yet, the wingnuts accuse us of "dancing on the graves" of the fallen when we merely object to the war. Be sure to read the comments in Wilson's post. It's nice to know we have a sympathizer in the area (I assume from the area but since it’s the 'net who knows).

Uygur at the Post

I have no idea who Chenk Uygur is except that he apparently does a radio show somewhere and is a regular poster over at the Huffington Post mega-blog. And quite a poster he is. I've link to him more than once here and I'm going to do it again now. (Why are talk radio guys often such good bloggers?)

His comments today involve a couple of Iraq War vets who deeply oppose the war but have volunteered to go back for another tour. One of them is Paul Hackett, who narrowly lost a Congressional race in Ohio recently.
The great irony is that these two men, who risk their lives for decisions they don’t even agree with, are called unpatriotic for opposing the war. Rush Limbaugh said Paul Hackett was hiding behind his uniform. Since they oppose the war, these men are accused of not supporting the troops. Have you ever heard anything more absurd in your life?

This administration uses the slogan “Support the Troops” as its shield and battering ram, even if it batters people who put their lives on the line to go back and literally support those troops. The conservative attack against Hackett puts to rest the lie that they support the troops. They support the war they started, and they support the troops only if it is politically convenient.
I'll second that. Go read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Google and you shall recieve.


This is the funniest thing I've read in a long time (sorry, Fafblog!). Professional homophobe Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family offers insights into how you can identify the sign of impending homosexuality ("Prehomosexulaity") in your child and what you can do to stop it.

At one point the good doctor quotes a fellow guardian against gays, Joseph Nicolosi, who is working on a book called Parent's Guide to Preventing Homosexuality. Dobson says Nicolosi "the foremost authority on the prevention and treatment of homosexuality today". In his soon to be released publication, Nicolosi tells us dads what we can do te keep our boys from becoming flamers. Dads, take note:
Meanwhile, the boy's father has to do his part. He needs to mirror and affirm his son's maleness. He can play rough-and-tumble games with his son, in ways that are decidedly different from the games he would play with a little girl. He can help his son learn to throw and catch a ball. He can teach him to pound a square wooden peg into a square hole in a pegboard. He can even take his son with him into the shower, where the boy cannot help but notice that Dad has a penis, just like his, only bigger.
Hmmm...taking an interest other guys penises prevents one from becoming a homo? Who knew.
This is good news too:
But make no mistake. A boy can be sensitive, kind, social, artistic, gentle—and be heterosexual. He can be an artist, an actor, a dancer, a cook, a musician—and heterosexual. These innate artistic skills are "who he is," part of the wonderful range of human abilities, and there's no reason to discourage them. But they can all be developed within the context of normal heterosexual manhood.
So see, we can have all these things without all that icky gayness. I notice Nicolosi doesn't mention interior decorators or hairdressers. I guess there really is no way not to be gay and be good at those things.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Well, our blogger friend Mr. DownLeft has discovered the secret to generating traffic on the internet (or anywhere else, I guess). He indicates in the comments that the number of visitors to his site increased after the above linked-to post went up. Hmmm...can Wednesday Breast Blogging be far behind? Or Thursday Booty Blogging?

Last Man Sitting

The only Illinois Republican not yet in the state's gubernatorial race says he still hasn't made up his mind.
SPRINGFIELD -- Former Gov. Jim Edgar has a message to Republicans wondering
if he'll make a comeback in the 2006 governor's race: Wait a few weeks.

Speaking from his vacation home in Colorado, the two-term governor told The Pantagraph on Monday he likely would not make any decision on his political future until he returns to Illinois later this summer.

"As I've indicated before, I'm not making a decision for a while here," Edgar said. "I've been in Colorado with our family and that's what I've been kind of concentrating on."


Edgar, however, said he's in no hurry to make a decision because the filing date to run in the March 2006 primary isn't until December.

"From a personal point of view, this is not something I was looking at," Edgar said. "I've got folks coming to me and, out of courtesy, I said I would consider it but that I wasn't going to rush into making a decision.

"I told them when I got back at the end of the summer, I'd think about it," said Edgar. "Anything can happen until December. I would think if I was going to get into it, I would make a decision before December."

Can't you just feel the enthusiasm oozing from Edgar? His maybe-candidacy is just on fire!

Bad Place

I have a niece who is six. Her dad, my brother-in-law, is a dentist. My niece got a cavity. Her dad isn't happy about it. Her dentist is her dad. Her dad will fill the cavity.

Is it just me or does the corner of Mad Dad and Dentist seem like an intersection best avoided?

It's Been Ten Years

Rich Miller beat me to posting on this but the thought that it's been 10 years since Jerry Garcia past away crossed my mind last night. It doesn't seem possible it's been that long.

Although a big fan, I was never a full-fledged Deadhead. I only saw the Grateful Dead once, in 1978 at the SIU Arena. I think they were just a few years past their prime at that point but I'm glad seeing the Dead isn't on my ever lengthening list of "wish-I-hads".

Tuesday Great Aunt Blogging: Mac Conquers Chicago Edition

Taking a break from the Dem bashing political cartoons from my great aunt's scrapbook, I present the visit of General Douglas MacArthur to Chicago in April of 1951.

First a little history (really, this won't hurt a bit):

On April 11, 1951, President Truman announced the dismissal of Gen. Douglas MacArthur from his duties as Allied Commander of United Nations forces in the Far East.

As commander, MacArthur led U.N. forces north to the Chinese border, but was forced to retreat south as China entered the fight with North Korea in November 1950. By late winter of 1951, the U.N. forces had regrouped against communist forces, and fighting continued along the 38th parallel.

At this point, MacArthur openly challenged the U.S. civilian leadership by threatening to attack China. MacArthur's statements solidified the growing opposition against him in Washington -- which led to President Truman's order.

Well, Truman's dismissal of this war hero from World War II and Korea infuriated many Americans, especially Truman's political opposition. And as we know, my great aunt was no fan of Truman's. I am assuming that is why her scrapbook contained a full page of a newspaper (both sides) dedicated to MacArthur's visit to Chicago after his return to the U.S. from Korea. The newspaper was the Chicago Herald-American which is now long defunct (read about it here).

On thing I found interesting was this order form for souvenir copies of the paper.

Image hosted by

Also fascinating is the wording of the paper's coverage. The pages I have are mostly photos with captions like this:
General Douglas MacArthur scored another of his great victories today. The mighty city of Chicago capitulated in unconditional surrender as the hero of the Pacific landed at Midway Airport in his great silvery plane, the Bataan. The magic moment, for which the city and thousands of Midwest vistors had waited, arrives as Gen. MacArthur steps down landing ramp, preceeded by son Arthur and wife Jean.
And this...
All along route from airport to Loop, Chicagoans stood in massed ranks to honor Gen. MacArthur, the man who loved his country more than his career.
Oh, brother. Me thinks MacArthur loved MacArthur more than his career or country. But hey, without him MacArthur Blvd. would still be plain ol' West Grand.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Beers of Our Lives

This is sort of a stupid story with a beer twist but there is something in it that caught my attention...
GREENVILLE, South Carolina (AP) -- South Carolina Republicans say the Democrats owe them beer money.

In April, Anheuser-Busch Co. -- based in St. Louis, Missouri -- wrote a $5,000 check intended for the state Republican Party.

Instead, the envelope was addressed to the state Democratic Party, which promptly deposited the money.

Now, state GOP leaders say the South Carolina Democratic Party needs to return the beer money they are owed.

Democrats say the check is in the mail.

Katja Zastrow, Anheuser-Busch's regional director of governmental affairs in Washington, said in an e-mail statement that the check went astray "through a series of administrative oversights."
How sad is it when a beer maker has a regional director of governmental affairs? A regional director. Meaning there are more.

Son of Y2K

As long time readers (both of you) know I'm an advocate for having late sunsets all year long. Who cares if the sun doesn't rise until 10:00 am in the winter; sunsets should never be any earlier than 8:30 pm!

Well, in what may be the fist positive step the Bush administration has ever taken, the President will sign into law today an otherwise hugley flawed energy bill that will keeps us on Daylight Saving Time longer. However, it does have some ramifications.
NEW YORK (AP) -- When daylight-saving time starts earlier than usual in the United States come 2007, VCR or DVD recorders could start recording shows an
hour late.

Cell phone companies could give customers an extra hour of free weekend calls, and people who depend on online calendars may find themselves late for appointments.

An energy bill President George W. Bush was to sign Monday would start daylight time three weeks earlier and end it a week later as an energy-saving measure.

And that has technologists worried about software and gadgets that now compensate for daylight time based on a schedule unchanged since 1987.

"It is unfortunately going to add a little bit of complexity to consumers," said Reid Sullivan, vice president of the entertainment group at Panasonic Consumer Electronics Co. "In some cases, depending on the product, they may have to manually increase or decrease the time."

The upcoming transition evokes memories of Y2K, the Year 2000 rollover that forced programmers to adjust software and other systems that, relying on two digits for the year, never took the 21st century into account.
Look, no one has been able to set the time on a VCR since they first appeared in stores 25 years ago so why would this be a problem? Everything else can but fixed with a quick download. Just shut up and enjoy the evening light.

Wish I Had Said That

Marie over at Disarranging Mine wonders about the usefulness of blindly "staying the course":
What I hear these men saying is, even if things get ridiculously stupid, we're going to keep doing it. At what point, once you start staying the course, do you stop staying the course? How do you know when staying the course is the wrong course?
I think staying the course is a rationalization for stubbornness combined an unwillingness to admit a mistake. You know, it may not be macho but adjusting your plan (altering the "course") to adapt to reality is the only way to positively navigate life. Pig-headed, face-saving absolutism is a rough and costly road.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Peter Jennings is Dead

That was fast. The story here.
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Nearly four months to the day since he announced in a hoarse voice on his evening newscast that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer, longtime ABC "World News Tonight" anchor Peter Jennings died Sunday, according to the ABC news network. He was 67.
Fuck cancer.

Why the hell are we wasting billions and billions of dollars on idiotic adventures like Iraq when the most horrible instrument of terror anyone will likely ever face - cancer - gets a much, much lower priority. You want to know what a REAL weapon of mass destruction is: there were 553, 400 cancer deaths in the US in 2001. That's more deaths than if there had been a 9/11 every two days that year.

New Salem Family Reunion

Saw this today in the Bloomington Pantagraph:
PETERSBURG -- Nearly two centuries ago, a self-described "piece of driftwood" settled in a frontier village that would soon dwindle into a ghost town.

Both would be forgotten today, except the settler's name was Abraham Lincoln and the village, New Salem, has become synonymous with his rise from rough young man to ambitious politician.

Now the descendants of his friends and neighbors in New Salem -- rebuilt as a state historic site -- are organizing a reunion next summer to mark the 175th anniversary of Lincoln's arrival.

Some Rutledges will be there, still convinced that Lincoln had a secret romance with their ancestor Ann. Descendants of Jack Armstrong, the local tough guy who lost a wrestling match with Lincoln, plan to show up. So do Onstots and Burners and Bales.

But don't look for any Lincolns. The 16th president has no living descendants.

Organizers hope perhaps 1,000 people will attend, sharing information on their family trees and swapping stories handed down through the generations.

According to the paper, the reunion will take place July 8, 2006.

UPDATE: Hey, how 'bout this: Since there are no Lincoln family descendants to attend why not take this opportunity to gather all the families of Lincoln impersonators. Think of the stories they could share! There has to be something slightly embarrassing about having dad running around looking like Honest Abe, practicing "four scores" in the mirror and having to pick up his stove pipe hat from the dry cleaners. Maybe even a support group could emerge from the event.