Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Old Lincoln Library

If you remember the old Springfield Lincoln Library building you might want to head over to Look Back Springfield where I have posted (with pictures!) a retrospective of one of Springfield's lost treasures.

Problem Without a Solution?

It's human nature to believe there is a way to solve any problem. But there been something bothering me about the Iraq War debate: No one really has a good solution. Not the Bush administration, certainly, and not the Democrats who when all is said and done seem to have virtually the same "stay the course" attitude. "Stay the course" when things aren't working is simply another way of saying you don't have a solution.

Look, I don't have an answer either. I've thought about it long and hard sure that there must be a magic formula for making things good. But I've got nothing.

So today, I was pleased (if that's the right word) to read over at Jaun Cole's site a guest post by Alan Richards of the University of California Santa Cruz actually suggesting there may not be a solution. That sometimes when you break something it can't be fixed.

Here's some of what he has to say:
I have been reading the debate . . . on "What next in Iraq?" ("Unilateral withdrawal? UN forces? Staying the course?") with great interest. There is a way, however, in which I am troubled by what I perceive as a tacit assumption--a very American assumption,--underlying most of the discussion. It seems to me that even pessimists" are actually "optimists": they assume that there exists in Iraq and the Gulf some "solution", some course of action which can actually lead to an outcome other than widespread, prolonged violence, with devastating economic, political, and social consequences.

I regret to say that I think this is wrong. There is no "solution" to this mess; it is sometimes not possible to "fix" things which have been broken. I can see no course of action which will prevent widespread violence, regional social upheaval, and economic hammering administered by oil price shocks. This is why so many of us opposed the invasion of Iraq so strenuously in the first place! We thought that it would unleash irreversible adverse consequences for (conventionally defined) US interests in the region. I am very sorry to say that I still think we were right.
He goes on to detail some of his reasons (and manages to weave in the looming world oil crisis). He ends with this:
If we leave, there will be violence, mayhem, slaughter, and instability, and if we stay there will be violence, mayhem, slaughter, and instability. If there is (as I tend to think) a large crisis looming on the horizon, it will certainly be ugly, even hideous. And then-something else will happen. The one thing I don't think is possible is to avoid it.

...I think it is delusional to imagine that there exists a "solution" to the mess in Iraq. From this perspective, the folly of Bush, Cheney and Company in invading Iraq is even worse than most informed observers of the region already think. Starting an avalanche is certainly criminal. It does not follow, however, that such a phenomenon can be stopped once it has begun.
I really hope a rational and humane solution can be found to this mess, but I wonder if it's possible. Things necessarily may have to get worse before they get better. A bloody civil war in Iraq, spreading of terrorism from the failed state, disruption of tight oil supplies and an ever mounting American body count are likely in my estimation.

Whether the worst comes to pass or not, whether this is indeed a good solution or not, those responsible for all this really need to be held accountable.

Adios Old Taco Bell

The Taco Bell on west Monroe has been closed for some time but the building was still there -until this week. I noticed Tuesday night that it had just been knocked down. The equipment used was still sitting on the pile of rubble.

I don't mean to get all sentimental about a stupid fast food restaurant but, damn it, that was a favorite after hours stop of mine going back to my younger days when I was, well, out after hours quite a bit. That was back when my stomach could still handle a gooey Burrito Supreme after a night of libations.

Oh well, out with the old and in with -hey, what is going in there? I had heard a Starbuck's was planned.

Conflicted Over Conflicts of Interest

Steve Scott is all conflicted again. Steve is News Director at WLS Radio in Chicago and president of the Illinois News Broadcasters Association. He also has a blog.

One of the themes that pops up on Steve's site from time to time concerns his own journalistic purity in a business (radio) that often demands compromises. I'm not making fun here, I actually admire his efforts to avoid situations he sees as potentially compromising his professional integrity.

There was a time in radio broadcasting when the news folks did news, absent any opinion, and that was that. Today that is nearly unheard of. Radio news reporters now often join in morning show banter or, as is the case at Springfield's WMAY, have their own talk shows full of opinion.

Anyway, Steve has had several posts on his blog where he is reluctant to offer an opinion on things because he doesn't want to be seen as taking sides on an issue he may be reporting on. Yesterday, he posted about another kind of conflict -being the news and not covering it.

Apparently, he has been asked to help in a station promotion that could get other media coverage:

The bosses at WLS asked me to attend...and say a few words about how pleased we are to participate in this promotion.

Now, this is an event that may (or may not) generate some local news coverage. It would actually make a nice little TV or radio story. Newspeople don't like to be on "that side" of the story. We're not used to it. It makes us a bit uneasy. After all, purists would say...what if that newsperson has to report a story critical of that same supermarket chain next week? Could he possibly be fair and objective...after sitting on the stage and speaking in support of that promotion?

Well, yeah...he can.

The bosses gave me every opportunity to say no. They said they would understand if I - as a newsperson - chose not to "represent" (I don't know why I keep putting that in quotes!) the station at an event where there may be news coverage.

In the end, I said I would be happy to do it.

Well good for him, I think he's made a breakthrough. It's for a good cause (go read the post) and no one is going to question his journalistic credentials in this day and age.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

McCullough Coming to Springfield

Wow! I want tickets to this. From the SJ-R breaking news page:
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough will be the first speaker in the new Jim Edgar Lecture Series, sponsored by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the University of Illinois at Springfield, McCullough is the author of "Truman," "John Adams," and many other books. He also was the narrator of "The Civil War" on public television and the voice in the movie "Seabiscuit."

The Jim Edgar Lecture Series will be an annual event. The inaugural lecture will take place Oct. 24. Ticket information will be available later.
I'll admit, I've never actually read any of McCullough's books but I've seen him in interviews and really enjoyed his narration of "The Civil War".

Wednesday Armadillo Blogging

Southern Illinois now has an armadillo population. Usually associated with the state of Texas, armadillos have been on the march north and east. From The Daily Egyptian:
Joyce Hofmann, of the Illinois Natural History Survey, said the armadillo first appeared in Texas in the 1850s, having traveled north from Central America. It took it almost 150 years for armadillos to become established as far north as southern Missouri.

"All things considered, they're moving pretty quickly," Hofmann said.

Hofmann, who has a doctoral degree in zoology, said it's estimated that armadillos travel an average of 10 kilometers per year. Since 1990, Hofmann said there have been 100 documented sightings of both dead and live armadillos in Illinois with the majority of the sightings in Southern Illinois. The sightings have increased in regularity since 2000.
They may be on the move but don't expect them to make their way to Springfield.
The lower third of Illinois is in the armadillos' prospective range of establishment, or area where they are able to actively reproduce. Armadillos require a minimum average temperature of 28 degrees Fahrenheit for the month of January to be able to establish themselves. The average January temperatures in Southern Illinois are between 32 and 36 degrees. This aspect, combined with the wooded terrain of Southern Illinois and an abundance of ponds, lakes, rivers and other bodies of water may be what has attracted armadillos.
By the way, if you follow the link, notice the picture associated with the article. You would think they could have come up with a better subject. At least a healthier one.

Blogging About Bloggers In the News

Thanks to Dave Bakke for the write-up in the SJ-R today on Springfield bloggers. There is no on-line link to the article that I can find but it’s on page 19 of the paper (the front page of the City State section, left-most column).

He even mentions our new effort Look Back Springfield. I’m glad I got that blog up when I did. I didn’t know I was working against a deadline; it just worked out that way.

I did notice he only talked to bloggers who use their real (or whole) name. Not a big deal but I’ve noticed a lot of the “Main Stream Media” types are uncomfortable with hidden identities.

Also, DownLeft didn’t get a mention. Gyp! He’s actually doing some fresh reporting in addition to regular commentary. Oh well, WE love you DL. Everyone go visit his site now in protest of this atrocity!

Bakke also discovers the dirty secret about bloggers:
There has to be ego in the blog mix somewhere. Otherwise, why would you think people care what you think about an issue or what you did last night?
To read me is to love me!

Those Funny Conservatives

Ha, ha. What a riot.

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This is a real bumper sticker on a real car out west. I'm sure this is just a joke and this person has no ill will toward those who believe differently than him (her). Eliminationist humor just kills! Literally.

Thanks to David Neiwert who also has a lengthy post surrounding this hilarious picture.

Blessed By Weather Gods

It happened again last evening. While most of the rest of Central Illinois withers under the latest drought, a small isolated storm dumped lots of rain in the northern part of Springfield. I got at least half an inch of new rain. Later last night I was in the Toronto Road area and they hadn't received more than a sprinkle. Saturday a similar thing happened. My lawn thanks whoever is responsible.

POW Flags Don't Need To Fly at IDOT

I read with interest DownLeft's post on the missing MIA/POW flags from the Illinois Department of Transportation buildings around the state. By the way, this is, to my knowledge, at least the third scoop for DownLeft in recent weeks. Good on him and, hey, blogs can make a difference and they are here to stay Mr. and Mrs. Main Stream Media.

I do have a quibble though, which may be patriotically incorrect, but I'm going to put it out there anyway.

First, let me say there is nothing too good for former POWs. The country owes them all in a big way and I wish we would pony up. If it were up to me, I'd pass a law in a heartbeat that would make life after being a POW very comfortable indeed. My law would give former POWs a huge sum of money, make it illegal to charge them admission to ball games, forgive any parking ticket, and give them first-in-line status at the grocery store. And that's just for starters. I have nothing but the greatest respect for these men and women.

Having said that, I don't think it's all that important to have the MIA/POW flag flying at IDOT facilities. I have nothing against the flag per se. It's perfectly appropriate at war memorials, VFW halls and on anyone's flag poll at home.

The thing to remember is what the flag really is supposed to represent.

On August 10, 1990, the 101st Congress passed U.S. Public Law 101-355, which recognized the ... POW/MIA flag and designated it "as the symbol of our Nation's concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families and the Nation".
I'm old enough to remember the evolution of this flag. It grew out of a movement that believed North Vietnam was still holding US POWs long after the war was over. This notion was particularly popular during the early 1980s (see Rambo). Of course, this simply has been proven to be untrue despite the best efforts of conspiracy nuts. There was never any good reason for the North Vietnamese to have continued to hold Americans. What was particularly insidious about this campaign was that it gave false hope to the families of MIAs.

So, to this day, I'm not particularly fond of the way this flag was used then. Maybe it's meaning has evolved and I just never got the memo. I actually suspect it has evolved and that's fine. I just don't think it should be a requirement on government buildings and I don't think it shows disrespect of former POWs by taking it down.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Blog Frenzy

Jim Leach over at AbeLog is blogging up a storm again tonight. Dammit, Jim you're making the rest of us look bad! (Said in my best Dr. McCoy voice.)

But do check out his minute by minute coverage of the President's happy-war speech. I "forgot" to listen to it live but Jim's got my back on this one.

Stream of Unconsciousness

Larry David, the real wit behind the Seinfeld show, has the funniest blog post this side of Fafblog! over at the Huffington Post. Just go here and read it.

Look Back Springfield

The new blog is up!

It's called Look Back Springfield and JeromeProphet has kicked things off his memories of the Springfield, Illinois Barber College.

Look Back Springfield is dedicated to Springfield nostalgia and history. It is a collaborative effort with several regular contributors posting from time to time. Of course, everyone is welcome to participate via the comments sections and postings may be submitted via email if you like.

I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I know I'm going to.

Party Animal of The Year

I first read about this guy in Sunday's SJ-R when it was still unclear who he was. Well, now we know.

Police have identified a man found during the weekend wandering in the woods in the Westchester subdivision wearing only boxer shorts and a boot.

The man, Jacob A. Ray, 29, of Rochester, faces several criminal charges, including aggravated battery to a police officer, aggravated assault, resisting arrest and criminal damage to property for allegedly tearing an officer's uniform.

Police found Ray in the 3200 block of Dorchester Drive about 12:45 a.m. Saturday, after neighbors reported hearing someone yelling for help in the woods.

He was extremely disoriented and wearing a pair of brown and black plaid shorts and one size 10 Wolverine boot.

Ray initially tried to fight officers and collapsed before telling them his name, police said.

He was taken to St. John's Hospital, where he has been unconscious in the intensive care unit.

Police said he regained consciousness briefly Sunday evening, but not enough to converse. He was sedated for medical reasons.

Police said Ray was at a party at a nearby residence earlier in the evening. He was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when officers found him, according to police.

That must have been some party. I wonder if anyone bothered to come forward to identify this guy after the first story ran Sunday. Or were they just glad he left the party.

Monday, June 27, 2005

More Quakin'

Another small earthquake rumbled through Southern Illinois this morning. From the Southern Illinoisian breaking news page:
A 2.8 magnitude earthquake shook parts of Southern Illinois at 9:47 a.m. Monday, according to seismologists with the U.S. Geological Survey Earthquake Center in Colorado. The quake was centered 15 miles southwest of Carbondale, along the Missouri-Illinois border.
There have been several small quakes down there in recent weeks. What's up?

Your Wish Is His Commandments

The Supreme Court made some decisions today about displaying the Ten Commandmants. I generally don't get too excited either way about the this issue. That is, until someone starts grossly misrepresenting things.

As Jim over at Abelog points out, those who contend that the Ten Commandments are appropriate for courthouses because they are the basis for our legal system (or some such) are full of it.

Look, by my count only two of the commandments (don't kill and don't steal) are solidly codified in law. It's not even illegal to lie in most instances. The two commandments that are covered in our legal system also happen to be tenants in almost every religion and legal system in the world and not peculiar to the Ten Commandments and our legal system. So, let's get off this argument that the big ten is also a legal document.

That's all I have to say.

Beyond a Reasonable Drought

This map shows the extent of the drought conditins accross the U.S. Note Illinois is in the drought zone.

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If you live in the Northwest portion of Springfield, you got a break on Saturday. A very isolated thunderstorm popped up, stayed for about an hour and then dissipated. I got over an inch of new rain at my house. As the storm subsided, we were heading out to the lake only to find the by the time we got as far south as White Oaks Mall, the ground was dry. The south part of town hadn't gotten a drop. A very isolated storm indeed.

100 Acre Wood in Mourning

Both Tigger and Piglet have died!

Well, the guys who provided the Disney voices of the Winnie the Pooh characters, anyway.

Paul Winchell, the ventriloquist creator of the puppet Jerry Mahoney, who later became famous as the animated voice of Tigger, Winnie-the-Pooh's exuberant friend, died on Friday at his home in Moorpark, Calif. He was 82.
And here
John Fiedler, who played character roles in celebrated dramas on Broadway and in Hollywood but gained lasting fame among young audiences as the voice of Piglet in Walt Disney's Winnie-the-Pooh films, died on Saturday. He was 80.
As Pooh says, "Oh, bother."

Sunday, June 26, 2005

New Blog Coming Together

Following up on the post below, I've begun work on the Springfield retrospective blog. I've partnered with three other local bloggers (Jim at Abelog, ET at JeromeProphet and Dan at BlogFreeSpringfield). I also have an acquaintance who wants to contribute anonymously by sending me posts via email and then having me get them out on the blog. So that's five contributors to date. Enrollment is still open and probably always will be.

I hope to have the first posts up within days. More details later.

UPDATE: Dan, I tried several times tonight to send you an email with details but the emails keep bouncing. Get a hold of me.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Springfield Memories: An Announcement

Two posts on other blogs have prompted me to take on a new blogging project, hopefully with the help of others.

Last night JeromeProphet posted this nostalgic bit about the immanent demise of a Springfield building he was familiar with from childhood. Picking up on that, Jim at AbeLog started a thread on Springfield memories that has gotten some decent response. Additionally, I've been thinking for some time about adding a weekly feature on this blog showcasing old Springfield photos from my collection or maybe some from Ed Russo's many books.

So, what I've decided to do is start a new blog (while still keeping this one) dedicated to Springfield nostalgia and history. I want it to be collaborative with several regular contributors posting from time to time. Jim at Abelog has already expressed interest and I'm sure I can talk JeromeProphet into it since we have been partnering in things since we were 12 (mostly legal things too). I'd like to see Marie at Disarranging Mine participate too, but that's up to her. I invite others to join us as hosts of the blog and, of course everyone is welcome to participate via the comments sections. Posting would be at will and there will be no pressure to post daily or anything. I can't do two blogs daily and I doubt anyone else can either.

If you are interested in being a partner in this project let me know. You don't have to be an "established" blogger or anything, just be willing to post something once in a while. I think it also best if you actually grew up in Springfield (or the area) or have been here a long time. I'll set up the blog (we can argue the template/layout later) and all participants will get access to the the blog for posting.

While nothing has been decided, here's what I would like to see in the new blog: Postings about memories of Springfield's past. This might also include pictures if you have any to share. It doesn't have to be anything significant, just something you remember and want to share. I would also think historical facts, books, articles TV shows dealing with Springfield's past would be fair game too. I don't want a lot of restrictions on topics as long as they fit the theme. Use your imagination.

Also, I want to keep this thing as non-political as possible. We have our regular blogs for that. On the new blog we are all just proud Springfieldians and not political partisans.

We'll need a name for the blog too. I was thinking "Springfield Memories" or "Springfield In Time" or "Springfield Just In Time". Those aren't great but its' a starting point.

Let me know what you all think and I'll get started on it soon.

Flagtasia: Episode Three

OK, as usual, Fafblog! has the final word on the issue of the day:
Well a lot of you are probably sitting around today going "oh well finally I can sleep peacefully! a solution has arrived to the nationwide flag-burning epidemic." Well you are wrong! The flag-burning amendment would only allow Congress to punish people for desecrating the actual flag - when there are dozens of other ways to humiliate Freedom by defacing other Freedomlike objects!

Photographs of flags

It is useless to protect the symbol of Freedom if we cannot also protect its very image! How would you like to walk down the street of some sunny future Main Street secure in the knowledge that the brutal local flag-burning rings have been brought to justice - only to find Saddam Hussein burning a pile of American flag post cards! "Oh don't mind me, I'm not burning a flag," the butcher of Baghdad will say. "I'm just burning a picture of a flag." Arrest him if you will, but he will only be released on a technicality... and will defiantly sweep out of the courthouse high-fiving his terrorist "homies" and flipping you off while you stew in impotent rage! He will go on to kill your partner and threaten your girlfriend over a series of oddly contrived yet increasingly chilling phone calls until you personally kill him in the climactic finale.

Photographs of photographs of flags

Don't think you can cheat your way out of this one, traitors! Giblets is thinking ahead.

The Rand McNally Road Atlas of the United States

When terrorist sympathizers are unable to burn the symbol of America, they will jump at the chance to deface America itself - IN MINIATURE! You have not known fury until you have seen the highways and byways of middle America shamefully disfigured with felt-tip and highlighter.

Just try arguing with that. Oh, and there's more to the post, so go read the whole thing if you still think you can poke holes in this line of reasoning.

Comments on Comments

Specifically, my comments on Karl Rove's comments.

You have to admit, Rove is good at firing up the base. The Democratic base, that is. Thanks Unka Karl.

The Cooption of Roger

Congratulations to Central Illinois native Roger Ebert for getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

But it's kind of odd isn't it. I mean, Ebert is a movie critic, not technically part of the movie industry. Right?

Well, no. This is a perfect example of how modern journalists often assimilate into the culture of their journalistic charge. The Washington press corps is the most obvious offender here. Journalists, government officials and lobbyists all feed off of each other professionally and mingle socially. This is perfectly understandable from a human nature point of view. We all frequently turn co-workers and associates into friends. But it does a great disservice to the public when the fourth estate (and the other estates) get too chummy.

I'll be honest, I cringe at stories about events like the White House Correspondents Association dinner and their local counterparts. I'm sure everyone involved will swear there's no harm to them but I wonder. Forging friendships with those with whom your are reporting on has to affect one's judgment.

Friday Beer Blogging: Oh, the Humanity Edition


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Actually, I think I was at this party once.

Thanks to Marie for the pic. I can't imagine the time and expense she went through to set this up for me.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Double-Dipping Continues

The WMAY talkers blog empire continues to grow. Pamela Furr now has her own blog. She joins WMAY's other local personalities Jim Leach and Mike Wilson. I may have to create a separate WMAY Blogroll soon if this keeps up.

But you know what, good for them. Blogging is a natural extension of what they get paid to do and I think it further serves this community.

I've been really impressed at how involved WAMY and its sister stations have been in the Springfield area. It's good for us and its good for them.

Flagtasia: The Phantom Banner

I'm stealing a large chunk of a post from John Salzi's blog to put emphais on a point I made earlier about flag burning laws. My point: such a measure in unenforcable (or at least ineffective) becuase defining exactly what the American flag is can be hugely problematic.

John brilliantly, using pictures for the slow of mind or primping patriot, demonstrates what I mean:

If you want to get fiddly about it, here are the actual government specs for the flag, dictating what the standard dimensions of the flag would be, down to the Pantone colors used in the flag. As the proposed Amendment allows Congress and the states to prohibit desecration of the US Flag, let us assume -- for the sake of argument -- that the flag is defined by these standard dimensions. Got it? Fine. Here we go:

An American Flag? Hardly. It has only 49 stars! There's a circle where a star should be. Certainly an American Flag had 49 stars, but it didn't look like this (it looked like this).The true 49-star flag would likely be covered by the Amendment, but this one, not so much. Use it for kindling!

Three cheers for the Red, White and Gray? I think not -- use this one to swaddle a horse. Then feed that horse lots of grain.

The 13 red and white stripes represent the original 13 colonies of the United States -- but what's this? One of the stripes has gone flaming pink! Clearly it's the stripe for Massachusetts. But whichever former colony it represents, we don't salute the pink, white and blue. Use this one to mop up vomit after a Socialist Party USA beer bash!

Green, white and orange. Man, that's not even trying. Use it as a dropcloth for that goat slaughter you have planned.

The 48-star flag flew over America for nearly 50 years, the longest reign of any US flag. But this isn't that flag. This is just some cheap and tawdry knockoff of the American flag suitable for, oh, let's say, being torn into strips and used as emergency feminine protection.

Red, white and blue? Check. 13 stripes? Check. 50 stars? Check. Well, then it must be an Americ-- hey. Wait a minute. Isn't that the Hamburgler in the bottom right corner? I may not know much, but I do know that the great Flag of the United States of America does not feature a second-tier corporate mascot, especially one with acknowledged -- indeed, celebrated -- criminal tendencies. This is not the American flag. Let's soak it in gasoline and roast weenies!

Perhaps we could set up a commision to determine the degree to which something is or isn't an American flag. Maybe there could be lesser sentences for burning flags with the Hamburgler on them.

Thanks to Eric Zorn for the pointer. Eric also has some things to say about all of this.

Crime Time

Marie at Disarranging Mine has the latest FBI crime statistics for Springfield (2004). Bottom line: crime down a bit.


Oh, yawn, yet another flag burning measure has been trotted out for mass distraction. Gawd, this like an annual prostate exam; it's unpleasant but you just have to deal with it.

Fortunately, this comes around so regularly I have my stock response to these proposals all ready to go when needed.

A flag burning amendment is a bad idea because...

It's not needed. There is no epidemic of flag burning in this country. It happens very, very, very rarely. I've never seen it done (exept on TV and very rarely). I don't know anyone who has. We don't need a constitutional amendment for something that's not really a problem.

It's unenforceable. Good luck defining what a flag is. If I get a rectangular piece of cloth and put 14 stripes on it and 51 stars, is it still an American flag? If I use green instead of red stripes (see Green Day's "American Idiot" video) is it still an American flag?

It puts the symbol before what it symbolizes. The flag is a symbol of freedom. Taking away my right to do what I want with my flag removes freedom. Ironic, huh?

It will actually have the opposite effect. If made illegal, flag burning will become a very attractive form of protest. Expect to see an up tick in flag burning if this is made the law. Again, ironic, huh?

This amendment will fail to be passed just like all the others and that's just sponsors sponsers want. You see, if it were to pass they wouldn't be able to bring it up again and parade around on their patriotic high horses.

Yawn, back to other things.

Rewriting History

Boy, everyone has an opinion on what Dick Durbin should have said rather than apologizing. The Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn takes a stab at speech writing here.

Getting a Leg Up

"The Leg" is back. The SJ-R's body part of choice is making headlines in the Springfield daily again.
The woman whose severed legs were found near Divernon a month ago today had five tiny rhinestones decorating the big toe on her right foot.

She also had a French pedicure and a tattoo on her upper thigh, near her hip.

Authorities released color photographs Wednesday of the partial tattoo and her toe, as well as a depiction of what the decorated toe probably looked like prior to the woman's death.


She had a French pedicure of light pink nail polish with white tips and five rhinestones attached to the top of the big toe. Only one rhinestone still was on the nail when the remains were found. The rhinestones were arranged across the nail at the base of the white tip.

Investigators have been unable to identify the design of the partial tattoo. It was on her upper right inner thigh near her hip. The leg was severed at that location, making identification difficult. The partial tattoo is about 2 1/2 inches wide and has pink, yellow and black ink. It appears to be two curly-cues extending from the bottom center of something.

Investigators have shown the design to tattoo experts, but they were unable to identify the markings. DNA tests have not resulted in any matches. Authorities continue to comb missing-persons and body-parts databases maintained by state and federal agencies, but have had no luck so far.
Previously, Santa Anna's prosthetic leg was Springfield's most famous detached appendage. It now has some competition.

Know Thy Enemy

I've been posting reports (here and here) recently on the deer attacks at SIU Carbondale. Well, the deer insurgency now has a face! Thanks to The Daily Egyptian, we have these photos of the perps.

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"Chews on bushes" is local in-country banter for a prepared ambush. More photos were taken as the ambush unfolded but they are too gruesome to show here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


All apologies to Dan Naumovich for my forgetting to add his blog, BlogFreeSpringfield, to my Illinois Blogroll. I swear, I thought I added him long ago. Sorry about that Dan.

Everyone go there and take a look. His content is almost all original and he has some great insights, especially regarding the local Springfield media.

Fun With Google

This is rich. I was looking at my Site Meter stats and noticed someone came to my blog from a search on Google of "Jim Leach Blog". I was the number one Google hit for "Jim Leach Blog" -not Jim's own blog. Of course not.

Shake, Rattle and Roll

CNN discovers the New Madrid Fault.

It's a 120-mile-long system of three to five faults stretching from 40 miles northwest of Memphis to southern Illinois, near Cairo.

"The system is capable of producing a quake near 4.0 magnitude every three years," said Gary Patterson, a geologist and information services director for the Center for Earthquake and Research Information in Memphis, Tennessee. "And they'll cause minimal damage."

But New Madrid already has spawned four earthquakes this year of similar size, along with nearly 100 smaller quakes. Patterson said such activity may or may not be the precursor to a much larger quake.

The recent activity is an anomaly, he said.

"It's unusual, and we don't have any reason to believe there is increased risk," Patterson said. "But any time you have this kind of activity in an area that has a 25 [percent] to 40 percent chance of a 6.0 or greater in the next 50 years, it will draw attention."

And the region is ill-prepared for a strong quake, he added.

In the five years I lived down in Carbondale, I only felt one quake and that, believe it or not, was the night before graduation -my last day there.

Not as Bad as the Worst

Jim at Abelog takes a swing at WMAY colleague and TEH detractee Pamela Furr for...
...failing to point out the logical fallacy for a caller who demands to know when Dick Durbin ever expressed the same kind of outrage over terrorist beheadings that he has over America's excesses at Gitmo.
This reminds me of when I had my talk show in the mid 80's at the height of the renewed Cold War.

Anytime I would utter a discouraging word about any aspect of the Reagan administration (which, I admit, was often), I would get some caller telling me I had to now be critical of the Soviet Union to be fair. Huh? Why? If there is anything wrong anywhere else in the world the US government is exempt from criticism? We can't set our own standards?

Being a smart ass, I would ask the caller if I also needed to "say something bad" about Ghana and Indonesia, you know, to be fair.

Sometimes, Less is More

Is the best anti-war movement no anti-war movement? Harold Meyerson writing in the Washinton Post today thinks so:
Absent a discernible trajectory of progress, the American people are giving up on the occupation. In last week's CBS News/New York Times poll, 59 percent of respondents said the war was going badly, and just 37 percent approved of President Bush's handling of Iraq. A Gallup poll showed six in 10 Americans favoring full or partial withdrawal of U.S. forces.

These figures already match the polling in the middle and late years of the war in Vietnam -- even though that war was fought with vastly higher casualties and a conscript army. In a series of polls taken in November and December of 1969, the Gallup Organization found that 49 percent of Americans favored a withdrawal of U.S. forces and 78 percent believed that the Nixon administration's rate of withdrawal was "too slow." But there was one other crucial finding: 77 percent disapproved of the antiwar demonstrations, which were then at their height.

That disapproval was key to Nixon's political strategy. He didn't so much defend the war as attack its critics, making common cause with what he termed the "silent majority" against a mainstream movement with a large, raucous and sometimes senseless fringe. When Nixon won reelection in a landslide, it was clear that the strategy had worked -- and it has been fundamental Republican strategy ever since. Though the public sides with the Democrats on more key issues than it does with Republicans, it's Republicans who have won more elections, in good measure because the GOP has raised its ad hominem attacks on Democrats' character and patriotism to a science.

Which is why, however perverse this may sound, the absence of an antiwar movement is proving to be a huge political problem for the Bush administration, and why the Republicans are reduced to trying to turn Dick Durbin, who criticized our policies at Guantanamo Bay, into some enemy of the people. The administration has no one to demonize. With nobody blocking the troop trains, military recruitment is collapsing of its own accord. With nobody in the streets, the occupation is being judged on its own merits.

Unable to distract people from his own performance, Bush is tanking in the polls. And with congressional Democrats at least partly muting their opposition to an open-ended occupation, it's Bush's fellow Republicans -- most prominently, North Carolina's Walter Jones -- who are now calling our policy into question.

The lesson here for liberals and Democrats is not that they should shun oppositional politics -- after all, they confronted Bush head-on over Social Security and prevailed. My hunch is that candidates in the 2006 elections -- not to mention, 2008 -- who call for putting a date on U.S. withdrawal from Iraq will be rewarded at the ballot box. But it will probably help such candidates, and certainly confound the Bushites, if antiwar activists forget about the streets and focus on the polls.

I don't know if I agree with all of that (for instance, when the right seemingly has no one to attack they will always, always create an enemy by any means necessary) but it's something to think about.

Why I'm Not a Democrat

All you have to do is watch Dick Durbin's emotional collapse on the Senate floor yesterday for the answer. Why do Democrats do this? Why do they give in to the cat calls from the right-wing noise machine? Why do they agree to appear on Fox News to serve as useful punching bags? I haven't clue.

Cenk Uygur asks the same thing:
If you don’t stand up for yourselves, you’ll never convince the American people that you can stand up for them!

Instead of apologizing themselves, Democrats should have demanded apologies from Senator Santorum, Senator Sessions and Senator Inhofe for their own Nazi references. Senator Santorum -- just last month -- compared Democrats to Adolf Hitler. There are millions of Democratic veterans who fought for this country, who died for this country, some of them while fighting against Adolf Hitler. How dare Senator Santorum say that?!

Howard Dean says Republicans are white Christians and the roof falls in on him. Santorum says Democrats are like Adolf Hitler and not one peep from the media. Durbin says we shouldn’t be like the Nazis and there’s an avalanche of faux media outrage. The administration condones torture … and not a damn thing!

Has anyone in the media ever asked George W. Bush for an apology for all of the abuse and torture on his watch?


Senator Durbin should have said this instead:

I believe in an America that is the shining city upon a hill. A light unto the world. Because this government has dimmed that light and turned us into our enemies by fighting depravity with depravity, fighting fundamentalism with fundamentalism, fighting savagery with more savagery, I demand that they come down here right now and apologize. Not just to our troops who they directly endanger, not just to all Americans who believe in a better America, but to the founding fathers and every veteran who ever fought for this country – for making what they fought for a just a little less meaningful, a little less bright and little less honorable. They have turned down the light of freedom and they dare to ask us for an apology? I’ll apologize when George W. Bush apologizes for what he has done to the name and honor of America!
But that's not what happened. Until it does, things will remain the same.

Gidwitz Runs, LaHood Funds

Ron Gidwitz's official entry into the Illinois gubernatorial race means there are now two officially announced Republican candidates and six others exploring the idea.

But I found this interesting: Rep. Ray LaHood, one of the six others, continues to hold fundraisers and seems to think he has a shot at the governor's mansion.
LaHood, meanwhile, had three fund-raisers in Washington, D.C., this past week and plans to raise more money in Illinois in the coming days. One event in Morton will be co-hosted by LaHood's mentor, former House Minority Leader Bob Michel of Peoria.

"I've been surprised at the fact, that at this point, I am considered a pretty substantial potential candidate for governor. I didn't know if that would be the case in January when I started with this venture," said LaHood.
Wasn't it just two weeks ago LaHood was looking at what he could legally do with the money he had raised to date should he not run? I'm not sure I would give to a guy who was that close to quitting but I guess some people feel differently.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

We Can Start Using the D-Word Now

From the National Weather Service:
The U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that much of central Illinois has been classified as being in a "moderate drought". Precipitation during the spring has only been running from about 35 to 55 percent of normal across the area.
It rains here in Illinois in April, May and June. That time is about up and we haven't had much rain. I heard on the news that this was the fourth dryest Spring on record. Even under normal circumstances July and August are dry here.

Prepare for water restrictions? Prepare for new talk of the urgent need for Hunter Lake?

The Longest Day

Happy summer solstice.

A Tale of Two Polls

Reality is starting to set in:
(CNN) -- Nearly six in 10 Americans oppose the war in Iraq and a growing number of them are dissatisfied with the war on terrorism, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.

Only 39 percent of those polled said they favored the war in Iraq -- down from 47 percent in March -- and 59 percent were opposed.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger suddenly ranks among the most unpopular governors in modern California history, as residents grow increasingly unhappy about the action hero-turned-politician's budget plans and his call for a special election, according to a new Field Poll.

Less than a third -- 31 percent -- of the state's adults approve of the job the governor is doing in Sacramento, down from 54 percent in February. The numbers are only slightly better among registered voters, 37 percent of whom are happy with
Schwarzenegger's performance and 53 percent dissatisfied.
Welcome new members of the Reality-Based Community.

In Country

35 years too late Bush volunteers to go to Vietnam.

Not the Big One

Earthquakes hit the Southern Illinois area earlier this week:
A pair of small shakers struck along the New Madrid Fault Sunday night and Monday morning, each centered about 23 miles west-southwest of Paducah. One
occurred at 9 p.m. Sunday while the other hit at 7:21 a.m. Monday, according to Diane Noserale of the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, Va.

The Sunday quake was a magnitude 2.7, while the Monday morning quake, initially reported as a 3.9 magnitude event, was downgraded to 3.6 magnitude by late Monday afternoon.

Monday's quake was felt in five states, including parts of Southern Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee and Arkansas, although no damage was reported.
The New Madrid time bomb keeps on ticking.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Obama Mania

MakesMeRalph, an Illinois blogger living in Colorado and blogging about Illinois (or something) has high praise for Illinois' other (non-controversial) Senator:
Barack Obama's speeches are news virtually everywhere he goes. This week he's lecturing Black Dads. Trust me, folks, there's something special about this guy. No more comparisons with Paul Simon, this guy is more like Bobby Kennedy.
Wow, that's almost sacrilegious. The second coming of Bobby?

I'll tell you, I'm still not all that excited about Obama. As I've said before, he may be a great orator but it's still to early to tell what kind of leader and legislator he's going to be. I'm withholding judgment while holding out great hope.

Thanks to Rich Miller for the pointer. Rich will be posting MakesMeRalph's daily Illinois news roundup at his site.

Operation Yellow Elephant

Young warhawks too scared to enlist in the armed forces now have a new resource.
The objective of OPERATION YELLOW ELEPHANT is to recruit College Republicans and Young Republicans to serve as infantry. They demanded this war and now viciously support it. It's only right that they also experience it.

The 56th College Republican National Convention is the setting for many of the proposed ops. It begins on Friday, June 24.

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All you conservative parents be sure to pass this on to your kids.

I previously promised that I would nominate war supporters for duty on every one of my posts on this subject. But I've decided to stick to just one person for now. That would be WMAY's Andy Lee.

I heard him talking just today about how great things are in Iraq and how the nasty media is unfairly showing only the bad stuff. So off you go Andy, it's not so bad, you said so yourself.

Andy is also culturally illiterate when it comes to Iraq so this may be a problem for him when he gets there. He was claiming today that women are now working in greater numbers in Iraq today due to the U.S. occupation. He is, of course, confusing Iraq with Afghanistan. Saddam was a bad and evil man but his regime was secular and women were a major force in the workplace before we arrived. The new Iraqi power structure is leaning more tradionalist Muslim and women are having a much harder time of it in the workplace. So, no Andy, women are not getting to go out and work as much. You'll have to stick to the "but we're building new schools" defense.

I Say Nazi, You Say Hitler

Since it is so, so wrong to utter the word Nazi in political discussions (see Durbin, Dick) I thought it only fair to identify those that do. Actually, Cenk Uygur over at The Huffington Post did it for me.

For the record, Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), former Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX), Representative Tom Cole (R-OK), Representative Peter King (R-NY), conservative guru Grover Norquist and, of course, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay have all made references to Nazis, the Holocaust and the Gestapo in previous remarks about other U.S. government officials.

Where was the outrage of the media on all of those comments? Nowhere to be found. After all, they had not been primed for outrage by the conservative talk show hosts on television. Again, it must be asked, are they this gullible or are they in cahoots with the right wing media machine?

For the love of God, Rick Santorum just compared the Democrats to Adolf Hitler a month ago. It’s not like it was some long forgotten incident from years past. Why didn’t one single mainstream media outlet ask whether Rick Santorum should be censured?

Senator Durbin referred to outrageous abuses as similar to the Nazis and the Soviet Gulag (although to be fair to him, and to be literal, he said those abuses were not the work of Nazis or the Soviets). Senator Inhofe and Representative DeLay called the Environmental Protection Agency the Gestapo. Senator Sessions compared stem cell research to “Nazi Germany’s abuses of science.” Senator Gramm and Grover Norquist called a Democratic tax plan and the estate tax plan, respectively, the equivalent of what the Nazis have done.

Republicans say people working at the EPA, people who believe in stem cell research, legislators who dare to filibuster and everyone not opposed to the estate tax are Nazis – and that’s not outrageous. But when Senator Durbin points out that reports of abuse from Guantanamo -- that include shackling detainees to the floor, setting dogs upon them, beating them and not giving them any of the rights accorded by international law -- are not the work of Nazis but our own interrogators, that’s outrageous?

And let's not forget Feminazi's and Hitlery. The hypocracy is (continues to be) stunning.

No, No, No

The SJ-R is reporting the city and state are going to attempt to bribe the federal government into keeping the 183rd Fighter Wing here.
The state will offer to build the Air National Guard a munitions facility at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport if the Pentagon keeps the 183rd Fighter Wing's 15 F-16 fighter jets in Springfield, The State Journal-Register has learned.

Officials will make the offer today when they testify before the Base Realignment and Closure commission in St. Louis.

"The city has a multilevel commitment (with the state) to building a munitions storage facility out there if the jets say," said Al Pieper, president of the Springfield and Central Illinois Trades and Labor Council, which has worked closely with the local committee charged with keeping the planes in Springfield.

The munitions facility appears to be an attempt by the state to trump Fort Wayne (Ind.) International Airport, which also has the ability to load and store live munitions. The Pentagon has recommended that the local F-16s be relocated to Fort Wayne.

Neither state nor city officials would discuss the munitions facility, but it appears that the state of Illinois would pay the entire cost.

A munitions facility would cost about $10 million, Pieper believes.
First, may I laugh once again at the name Ft. Wayne International Airport?

Second, let's not start this game. Taxpayers all across the land are being forced to pay for bidding wars to attain or retian private industry. Now we're going to do the same for military units? Come on. This is a can of worms that need not be opened. And be careful Spingfield, Chicago may get wind of this and decide thay can bribe the State to move all its operations to that city. You know how those bastards covet OUR state jobs!

By the way, I was not able to attend the rally at Capital Aiport due to a medical condition I devloped over the weekend (nothing serious but you don't want to know). I hope it went well. Anyone go? What happened?

UPDATE: Jim over at Abelog says only about 200 people showed up. That's disappointing to me. Hell, I had vacation time already submited at work to attend before I came down with my little ailment. But a big thanks to those who did make it.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

When Nazi's Speak

This man is simply a piece of excrement, a piece of waste that needs to be scraped off the sidewalk and eliminated.

-- KVI's John Carlson, discussing Sen. Dick Durbin, on his Seattle-based talk show Thursday

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an an American talk show host describing what he would like to do to Senators in his control, you would most certainly believe this must have been an idea promoted by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings.

Thanks to David Neiwert for the pointer to the Carlson quote.

A Drug Addled Mind is a Terrible Thing

Way to make our point for us Rush! Talk radio's number one drug addict is selling "What Happens in G'itmo, Stays in G'itmo" t-shirts.

Sure it does. That's part of the problem.

Durbin's Comments in Perspective

TEH alum ETK (aka JeromeProphet) has an excellent post on Dick Durbin’s slight backpedaling on his Gitmo comments on the Senate floor. I reprint it in full here (I take the liberty because I'm pretty sure he still owes me $5.00).

The Honorable Senator Durbin - No Need to Explain Senator - You Did the Right Thing

Senator Durbin's original statements need no qualifications. The "outrage" of the Bush administration's apologist for torture is truly distressing.
For the most part those who have protested Senator Durbin's recent remarks haven't addressed the reality of prisoner maltreatment. Instead they have focused on an analogy employed by Senator Durbin.

Reality isn't always comforting, but it is necessary to confront it, whether it cast a warm light or not.

Shouting down a leader with false rhetoric won't help this nation come to terms with the most important issues it faces.

One of the most persistent complaints from the general public leveled at Washington is that politicians play it safe at the expense of the national debate which must take place before any issues can be addressed.

Senator Durbin's remarks have been dissected, and taken out of context in a way intended to stifle that debate, and to intimidate any who might follow him.

Their reaction isn't borne out of misunderstanding. It is a deliberate act of group-think intimidation.

Hecklers one and all.

The reactions of these apologist of prisoner abuse constitutes a denial non-denial.

Create a big stink, and maybe everyone will forget what the original issue is all about. In the mainstream media this method works well - but in the blogosphere it's doesn't seem to work as well. The Internet possesses a memory, and we're all a Google search away.

Their mindset seems to be that "we" can do no wrong, and if "we" ever do wrong, that no one should ever say anything about it. The mindset seems poised to punish those who break the silence, in that if anyone does point out the mistakes that "we" have made, or are currently making, that "we" will go after "them" next.

See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.

Ironically this mindset seems to find an analogue in that of the petty bureaucrat, as well as the street thug - both protecting their turf. Odd that this mindset would be adopted by those who claim to be the enemies of mindless bureaucracy, and the moral decay leading to criminality.

The U.S. military is a fine, and professional organization, which for decades preceeding the current conflict strived to train its ranks on the proper treatment of prisoners of war - according to the rules of the Geneva Convention.

When prisoners of this war were classified as "detainees", and the Bush administration contested the strict applicability of the Geneva Convention in the treatment of the "detainees" a clear case of anomie resulted.

In an attempt to justify the ongoing actions of prisoner maltreatment the Bush adminstration simply redefined the definition of maltreatment.

In this setting, one in which the executive branch is officially sanctioning prisoner abuse, the culture of abuse quickly seeped its way downward reaching the ranks of the common soldier.

The vast majority of U.S. soldiers are ethical men, and women. They have conducted themselves properly oftentimes under extreme, and dangerous conditions. This nation owes them a debt we can never fully repay.

Senator Durbin was in no way casting doubt about the integrity of these brave men, and women.

However, allegations of prisoner abuse have been made, and criminal proceedings have been conducted. Already some soldiers have been convicted. The fact that prisoner abuse has taken place is not under contest here.

It is a disservice to the men and women in uniform that any question at all as to the proper treatment of prisoners of war should ever have arisen.

The rules of proper conduct towards prisoner's of war should have been followed as the military has historically instructed. No mixed messages should ever have come from the Administration polluting the chain of command with ambiguous messages of what was proper conduct.

The effect of the redefinition of prisonor abuse (an endorsement of torture) has been debilitating to our armed forces, to the morale at home, and to our objective of changing hearts and minds in the war against terror.

JAG officers should not have had to resign their commissions in protest that torture would be adopted as a tool of interrogation.

Guards should not have been encouraged to sexually abuse prisoners at the instruction of military intelligence.

Dogs should not have been used to attack prisoners.

Prisoners should not have been allowed to languish in their own excrement.

The Koran should not have been mistreated by prison guards.

The list of abuses is just too long to list here.

The Commander in Chief is ultimately where the buck stops, even if the moral courage to accept blame is utterly lacking under this current regime.

Senator Durbin is taking heat for being brave enough to tell it like it is. Mr. Durbin is not blaming the service personnel, instead he is shedding light on a bad policy promoted by those in the Bush Administration, a policy which unwisely corrupts our approach in handling prisoners of war.

Senator Durbin is doing his duty to condemn a policy which only breeds hatred for America around the world, and endangers the lives of Americans - both civilians, and those who protect this nation.

posted by JeromeProphet

Friday, June 17, 2005

ID Giveaway

Does a week go by without another one of these stories?

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - A security breach has occurred at a third-party processor of payment card transactions that affects over 40 million credit card accounts, Mastercard International said Friday.

Of the cards involved, 13.9 million were MasterCard-branded cards, which include Maestro and Cirrus, and 22 million were Visa cards, said Visa spokeswoman Rhonda Bentz.

OK, I give up. I'm just giving my personal information away. If it's going to happen anyway, I might as well be the one to do it.

So go's all there, my Social Security Number, my address, my credit card numbers, my ATM password, everything.

Best Defense is a Good Offense Dept.

Speaking of WMAY (and I was below), I was listening to the guys sitting in for Pamela Furr on my way to lunch. They were talking about the 183rd Fighter Wing, the upcoming rally of support at the airport Monday, and the base closing commission (BRAC). One of the guys (a voice I didn't recognize) suggested going to the BRAC with a plan that would turn losing the 183rd on its head. Instead of the 183rd's F-16's going to Ft. Wayne (hey, who farted?), bring Ft. Wayne's planes here. Develop a plan that shows the idea saves money and is an all around better idea. Good thinking.

Note that I had a similar, but much more violent, idea here. Once again, cooler heads prevail.

Durbin Stands Firm

Jim Leach posts a portion of his interview with Illinois Senator Dick Durbin this morning for WMAY. Durbin isn't rolling over. From the interview:
I'm making it clear that as they twist these comments out of context, I'm fighting back. Last night several senators went to the floor and tried to say things about me that just were not true. Well, I'm not going to be bullied and I'm not going to be intimidated. I went to the floor to face my critics, and I'll do that again. I'm not perfect by a long shot; I don't pretend to be. But somebody has to speak out.
Jim will be playing the full interview Monday morning on his show.

Is there now any doubt that within just a matter of days Jim has become the most vital blogger of news and politics in Springfield? Still, he doesn't know shit about beer blogging.

Illinois City Mouse vs Country Mouse (Again)

I had to laugh at this exchange in the Illinois forum over at Democratic Underground regarding Governor Blagojevich opting to spend funds on a Chicago music show but not on a Springfield livestock show.
Livestock vs. Music... Hmmm.
Is that what people like to do in Springfield, look at livestock, rather than attending a music festival? Regardless, I would contend that music is under the category of entertainment for everyone, whereas a livestock show is more of a gift to people in that industry. I don't think the comparison is valid.

And we wonder
why the Democrats aren't that popular downstate. Big surprise.

I'd really like to hear from them.
I spent most of my life downstate and can testify that I'd prefer a show with music rather than lifestock. Music is universal whereas livestock is industry specific even in the country. What would be great is if the state would sponsor more music festivals

That's you

Not everyone. And besides, this is an "electronic music festival" - that is not exactly a genre that has a huge appeal. So, the "everyone likes music" argument doesn't really apply here.

I just got done saying that....
Illinois should spend money on downstate music festivals, so I agree that downstaters should receive the message that they matter too (despite their lack of population and all the additional funds they require to maintain vast expanses).

All I'm saying is livestock is industry specific. I'm sure many downstate might be a little disappointed that a governor would assume that they must be interested in livestock. I might have continued living downstate if it weren't for things like livestock festivals. Okay, so not everyone is interested in electronic music either, but it is still, strictly speaking, just entertainment.

You keep missing the point

Not everyone thinks that a music festival is universal entertainment. For some people, livestock shows are the entertainment for the summer along with the country fair and the fireworks they buy over in Missouri.

Oh, gawd. I've written before about the Chicago vs. Downstate tension that divides Illinoisians at times. This is a good example of that problem.

In Blago's Defense

Governor Blagojevich may deserve much of the flak from his detractors but I think a pair of recent criticisms of him are off base.

First, the governor is being called hypocritical for accepting large campaign donations while simultaneously calling for limits on such donations. Look, I can't fault the guy for operating within the current rules. To unilaterally limit his ability to raise money puts him at a disadvantage. I'm sure Blagojevich will abide by limits once EVERYONE is abiding by them.

Second, I have to agree with Jim Leach that criticism of the governor for signing a measure restricting payday loan companies after attending a fundraiser that was, in part, sponsored by lobbyists from that industry, is a bit strange. What the critics are saying, in essence, is the governor should have given the payday loan folks more consideration after they helped him raise money. If that's the standard, then the governor is in a no-win situation. Had he played favorites with the payday folks, he would have been (rightly) slammed for being bought off by a contributor. But now, when the opposite happens, he's apparently equally guilty. I don't get it.

Friday Beer Blogging: Jacko Goes Free Edition

Did Michael Jackson molest boys? Did the jury return the correct verdict this week? I have no idea and don't care.

I do know Michael Jackson has written books on beer. And that's good enough for me. Here's one:

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Har-dee-har, it's not the same Michael Jackson. Something like that might not be a problem for the government's no-fly list but here at TEH we have standards (at least when it comes to beer) and won't make you get off the plane in Maine for having the same name as a suspected, maybe, could-be terrorist or child molester.

Actually, the Michael Jackson of Beer (I'd call him the King of Beer but I think Budweiser took that) has several books out on the subject (see here and here).

No, this Michael Jackson takes his beer seriously and doesn't hide it in cans of Coke. In fact, this MJ has even has his own beer web site. From there, you can send electronic beer postcards like this one:

I'm not sure who you would want to send a classy beer postcard like this to but when the occasion presents itself, MJ is there for you.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

And Now For Something Completely Different...

Happy blogging!

Seriously, was yesterday's weather absolutely perfect? I was out most of the late afternoon and evening and I could hardly stand how nice it was. Even my fuel-injected, speed-of-light toddler-of-mass-destruction couldn't keep me from enjoying the weather (as I tailed him, once again saving the planet from certain devastation).

Even with all the bullshit in the world, even with George Bush in the White House, days like yesterday make this the best planet in the solar system.

Durbin's Torture Remarks

Below, I'm reprinting parts of a couple of blog posts (from Dail Kos and The News Blog) defending Illinois Senator Dick Durbin's remarks condemning the torture going on in OUR name down at Guantanamo Bay.

First, what Durbin said:
When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here [at Guantanamo Bay]--I almost hesitate to put them in the [Congressional] Record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:

On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold. . . . On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime--Pol Pot or others--that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.
Of course that brought howls of phony indignation form the right wing media machine.

Kos responds:
To the pea brains on the Right, incapable of reading the English language in its most basic, unuanced form, they claim Durbin is calling our troops Nazis. The wingnutosphere is making that claim. Rush is making that claim. Hannity is making that claim. Drudge is making that claim. Look to Fox News to jump on the bandwagon tomorrow.

Of course, what Durbin is saying is that such torture -- undisputed, by the way, and read from an FBI report -- is more at home in a place like Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany than in a modern Democracy.

And that's the truth. Plain and simple.


And let's not forget, "torture" was used as a rationale for this war -- as in, we'll invade and end the torture.

Of course, none of that has happened. The torture that was so bad under Saddam, is equally bad under U.S. command. And Dick Durbin had the balls to say it so on the Senate floor.

And these cowards -- these people who will neither serve the cause they claim is so vital, nor urge others to serve it -- now rush to defend behavior that is indefensible?


Really, what is the Right trying to accomplish here? Inflict so much pain on Durbin that others will think twice before they levy legitimate criticisms of the war? Are they so hell-bent on their political correctness that any criticisms of the war effort is considered treasonous?

At a time when REAL support for the troops means providing them with the equipment and manpower necessary to fight the war effectively, they agitate for

Instead, they try to shut down a US senator reading from an FBI report. From Bush's FBI. Because the truth hurts. So we must suppress it. And we'll do it by shedding crocodile tears for the troops. Because who gives a shit about them, so long as our heroic, do-no-wrong President looks good on the evening news.

Well, I stand with Durbin. Proudly. Because opposing torture is the Right Thing, despite violating the wingnut manual of political correct speech. And the rest of the Senate Democratic caucus better be standing with him as well.
Steve Gilliard at The News Bloghad this to say:
I am tired of the phony bravery of these people, their cowardice shines through like a beacon. They condone abusing those in our custody but refuse to serve this country in combat, as they wish others would do.

But the larger point is this: America is supposed to have higher standards than the Nazis or Stalin, not embrace them or use them as a defense. There is no reason that we should have a gulag in the sun or be accused of torture. We should have jailed and tried these people legally. Not acted like the people we're supposed to be fighting.

One day, Americans will be subjected to this and then what will these people say "it's unfair"? Well, we tossed away our conscience and morals to achieve this end, and the result will be grim. But they won't be the ones paying it. They will be hiding behind their keyboards like the cowards they are, whining, lying and rejoicing in the suffering of others and wishing to see even more brutality, but only from a safe distance.
All that sounds about right. When you lower yourself to a standard that doesn't allow much distinction between you and what you are fighting against, you have already lost. And those who defend torture (or denouce those who oppose it) do not represent what this country is about. They are, however, cowardly bullies.

UPDATE: And one more thing. This "contoversy" is just another attempt to move the discussion away from the torture itself and towards who called who a Nazi. Its a game of deflection. Don't be fooled by it.

"Virus-Laden Poo"

Mt. Mckinley is full of shit! Literally.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) -- Mountaineers who ascend North America's loftiest peak are often brought down to earth by "virus-laden poo" left behind by previous climbers, a medical report says.

The unsanitary conditions created by piles of human feces on Mount McKinley can cause diarrhea among climbers, which can lead to widespread problems when combined with the physical stress of a mountain expedition, according to the report in the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine.


"They think they're going out on a pristine climb and there's virus-laden poo all around them," said Dr. Bradford Gessner, a mountaineer and one of the study's authors.

I have no paticular comment about this story other than I am almost giddy about being able to blog about virus-laden poo.

Reporting With Attitude

Reading this in the Bloomington Pantagraph this morning I can't help but think the reporter, Kurt Erickson, has "Chicago Got All Our Money!" fever.
SPRINGFIELD -- Three years after describing a $300,000 livestock show in Springfield as a waste of money, Gov. Rod Blagojevich has agreed to bankroll an electronic music festival in Chicago.

The $200,000 in startup money for the July 2006 event came to light in a series of newly released state documents detailing an estimated $21 million in last-minute spending that was added to the state budget in exchange for Democratic votes.

While much of the special spending is geared toward programs that help children and improve local communities, Blagojevich's approval of state Rep. Kenneth Dunkin's request for the Chicago International House (Electronic) Music Festival stands out because of the governor's prior comments about the Springfield-based International Livestock Exposition.

In August 2002, Blagojevich -- then a candidate for governor -- called funding for the livestock event a symbol of "a way of doing business that has been permeating state government for far too long."

"I think that $300,000 is an example of arrogance," Blagojevich said at the time.

Three years later, however, the documents show Blagojevich backing a similar type of pork-barrel request from Dunkin, D-Chicago.
Kurt sounds like he's pissed about not being able to go to the International Livestock Exposition more than the actual allocation of state funds.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Terrorism at Horace Mann

I'm not trying to be cute with the title of this post. That's exactly what I would call what happened today at Springfield's Horace Mann Building.

E.T. over at JeromeProphet was on hand for the incident. He has details and pictures.

Jim Leach's Blog Is Up and Running


It's turning into a good week for new blogs here in Springfield. While JeromeProphet is slowly creeping off the starting blocks, Jim Leach, of WMAY fame, comes bounding out on his new blog, AbeLog -- A Blog. I know I'm going to be particularly fond of his planned regular Colleague-Bashing feature where he beats up on the other talkers on WMAY. Yum.

With his own talk show and news department to draw from, Jim's blog should one of the best and most visited in the city if he sticks with it. The rest of us won't be able to keep up.

UPDATE: I just noticed Jim doesn't have comments enabled. Is this intentional? Surely he's used to feedback (good and bad) doing a talk show. Of course, a comments section on a popular blog can quickly get out of control with abusive (and slanderous) trolls unless you stay on top of it.

Rally for the 183rd

Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin is promoting a rally Monday at the airport in an effort to keep the 183rd Fight Wing here in Springfield. Plans now call for the Air Guard unit to be moved to FT. Wayne, Indiana. From the Mayor’s press release:

Mayor Timothy J. Davlin today invited the public to show its support for the 183rd Air Fighter Wing as he provided additional information about the events which will occur on Monday, June 20, 2005 in both Springfield and in St. Louis relative to the Base Relocation and Closure Commission. Davlin was joined by other members of the local BRAC Committee at an airport news conference.

"This will be a very important day for the economic well being of Springfield," Davlin said. "The future of our 183rd Air Fighter Wing is on the line. We will be hosting one of the BRAC Commissioners who will tour the 183rd. And, we will be providing testimony in St. Louis at the regional BRAC hearing."


"We really want to have a good showing of support for our 183rd and that is why we are inviting the public to Capitol Airport and to St. Louis," Davlin said. "I can't stress enough how important this is to the future of Springfield and the 183rd."

Members of the public will have an opportunity to show their support at both events. To support the 183rd at Abraham Lincoln Capitol Airport, they should arrive at the airport terminal by 10:45. They will be directed where to park by airport personnel. Flags, banners and home made posters and signs are appropriate. If anyone has questions about the airport event, they can call 788-1064 extension 112.

I've already tried going negative on Ft. Wayne (here and here). Maybe this more positive approach will have better results.

Mo Money

That's what a bunch of whiney Republican state lawmakers were putting forth a few weeks ago. But it looks like those Chicago bastards didn't get everything after all! From the WTAX web site:

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich says there's money in the new state budget to remodel Capitol Avenue and begin replacing the Stratton Office Building. Springfield Senator Larry Bomke says he'll work to hold the Governor to his word because that's all he has to go on. Bomke says there is a lump of unspecified funds in the budget the Governor can use at his discretion.
Let's hope we do see the money. The Stratton building really is an embarrassment.

Oh Deer

The deer insurgency continues unabated at SIU. I posted last week about a series of attacks on humans by deer at the Southern Illinois University campus in Carbondale. The Daily Egyptian, back from it's month long break, has the story:
One or more deer attacked three people Tuesday morning, according to the Director of the Department of Public Safety, Todd Sigler, bringing the total number of deer attacks on campus to six.

In one case, the deer charged the victim, but did not make contact, Sigler said. However, in another attack Paula Davenport, the assistant director of Media & Communication Resources, and a student, Lane Proffitt, were both injured.

University spokeswoman Sue Davis said the attack occurred behind the Communications Building as two deer, a doe and a fawn, tried to cross Chautauqua St.

Davis said traffic had stopped and Davenport and Proffitt may have been trying to encourage the fawn to cross the street when the doe felt threatened and attacked.

Davenport was treated at Carbondale Memorial Hospital for a head injury and released, while Proffitt's bruises were treated at the health clinic and she was also released.

The Department of Public Safety is taking measures to ensure the attacks will not be repeated by posting signs in areas where deer have been sighted and roping off wooded paths, but Sigler said the best protection is common sense.

"Leave the deer alone, don't go try to pet the fawns," Sigler said.

Obama By Numbers

There's been a lot of blogging (here and here for example) about the new SurveyUSA poll showing Illinois' Barack Obama as the most popular Senator in the country among constituents. That last part is important because it's a bit misleading to say Obama is the most popular Senator in the country (implying the nation as a whole was surveyed).

Obama's approval rating was at 74% statewide, higher than any other senator in their home state (including Illinois' other Senator, Dick Durbin, who came in with only a 50% approval rating).

I like Obama but I have to believe a lot of his popularity at this point is based on things having little to do with his performance in office. It's just too early to judge him on his legislative record having gone to Washington only a few months ago.

What Obama has is charisma and a way of coming off as being very reasonable, not like those bickering politicians we usually associate with national politics. He's a great speaker. He has a fascinating background. He's a one-man racial and cultural melting pot. He just exudes success, dammit! All of that is good stuff to have but he really hasn't been tested yet so his numbers may or may not hold. I wish him total success.

I'd also be interested in what Obama's numbers are in various parts of the state. He polls well even among Republicans statewide in this survey but I doubt he would get 74% here in Sangamon County.

One thing to note in the poll is how other Senators fared in their states. It struck me the Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi is almost as popular in his state (65%) as Obama is here. I find Lott to be a vile human being but Mississippians seem to like him. (Oh, Mr. Lincoln, why couldn't you have just let them go). And the Senator with the lowest negative rating: Daniel Inouye of Hawaii. If I lived in Hawaii I probably wouldn't be bothered to think badly of anyone either.

Talk About the Weather

Weather forecasting continues to be somewhat of a guessing game and people notice:
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Never mind fancy computers, satellites and Doppler radar. Most people have limited faith that meteorologists can accurately forecast the weather.

Four in 10 say they have made plans in the past month based on a weather forecast that turned out to be wrong, according to an AP-Ipsos poll. Still, most people closely follow the weather, mainly on television.

About a third say they think the weather forecasts in their area are accurate, but half say just "somewhat accurate," and the remainder say the forecasts are off the mark.


Almost two-thirds said they had checked the weather forecast on the day they were surveyed.

Television was, by far, the most popular source of weather information (used by seven in 10 who checked a forecast), followed by the Internet, newspapers and radio.

I've actually noticed weather forecasts have become much more, well, mushy in recent years. That is, they tend to want to cover all possibilities. If you look at, The Weather Channel's web site, their forecasts almost always include the possibility of rain (10% to 20% chance on days it's almost certainly not going to rain). I don't know if they are afraid of being sued or just always want to be correct no matter what happens.

Here's my forecast for most of the rest of the year:

Partly to mostly cloudy with a possibility of precipitation and temperatures near normal.

I'll bet I'm 90% accurate.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Bad, Bad Beer Blogging

By the way this story comes out of New Berlin, Wisconsin not New Berlin, Illinois home of the Pretzels.

New Berlin - It's not often you see anything but a Fudgsicle fly out the window of an ice cream truck, but when Denell Heller saw an unidentified object land in her front yard, she picked up the phone and called police.

"I couldn't tell what it was, but I am just a freak about littering," she said. "I jumped off the couch and called the police. I told them I don't want him in my neighborhood if he's going to litter."

The object, it turned out, was an empty can of Steel Reserve malt liquor, and the offending ice cream truck driver had a blood-alcohol level three times the legal limit, according to a New Berlin police report. The driver, 43-year-old David A. Blundell of Milwaukee, also is a registered sex offender. He was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving and littering and has a hearing scheduled for today in Waukesha County Circuit Court.

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David A. Blundell

Officer Gary Monreal tracked Blundell down a mile away on Deer Park Drive, where, according to a police report, Blundell told him that he had one beer with his breakfast around 11 a.m., about two hours before he went to work. Blundell then failed a series of sobriety tests, getting stuck at the letter M when reciting the alphabet, repeating the numbers nine and 10 when asked to count down from 15 and confusing his right and left when told to touch his nose with fingers on each hand, according to the police report.


Reached by phone at his home Monday, Blundell said he did not drink beer while he was driving the ice cream truck.

"I'm driving and selling ice cream to kids, you know, and it's like, dude gave me a beer and I dumped it out and I shot it on the ground," he said. "Why I grabbed it I had no idea. That was just stupid. Then I realized, 'I got to get rid of this, it's not good.' "

Blundell said he didn't know why the result of his Breathalyzer test was three times the level considered evidence of intoxication.

"I told (the officer) there was something wrong with that machine," he said. "He said there wasn't."

OK, two Saturday Night Live related thoughts about this: This incident reminds me of the John Belushi drunk department store Santa and Blundell looks suspiciously like a Bill Murray character (I'm thinking Carl from Caddyshack).

The Jackson Verdict

Eric Zorn has an opinion so I don't have to:
And sadness for Jackson, whose strange and allegedly brutal childhood in the national spotlight rendered him a deeply weird and obviously deeply troubled

Even though he was found not guilty today, Jackson's desperate pathology remains indisputable and tragic. In the future, for his own sake and theirs, Jackson should keep away from children, even if his affections for them are as pure and innocent as he has long maintained.

If this experience hasn't taught him a lesson about boundaries and proper adult behavior, nothing can.

There is no moral to this story, no take-away lesson or cautionary tale for us to apply to our everyday lives. In part this is because this verdict marks neither an end nor a new beginning.

And in part this is because it all took place in a world as unfamiliar and grotesque to us as another planet in a science-fiction film.
That's about right. The part (the only part) of this story I find interesting is Jackson himself and how really pathetic he has become despite having the huge mirror of the media right in front of him at all times.

I was never a fan of his music even when he was an unstoppable force 20 years ago. But I see those old music videos today and they look very different to me now. I can see his talent and feel pained knowing what he will become. It's scary because any of us, no matter how rich or famous, can be undercut by time and the failings of our own minds.

Jackson may or may not have victimized others but he has surely destroyed much of himself. I can't imagine the rest of his life isn't going to be hard to watch as he continues to decline physically and financially.