Thursday, March 31, 2005

Military Industrial Complex

One theme Historians will find when they look back on the Bush years will be the Executive reasserting control over the bureaucracy, and the networks of contractors and vendors (and their Congressional Reps) linked with the bureaucracy. There's a Military Industrial complex and Healthcare Industiral complex and all sorts of entrenched interests groups throughout the government. Many have gone amok.

Paul Singer wrote about this in an article on Bush and the bureaucracy: a crusade for control. Singer said,

The federal bureaucracy is a notoriously unwieldy beast. It includes about 1.9 million civilian employees, many of whom have agendas that differ from the president's. Each administration, Republican or Democratic, struggles with its relationship with an army of workers who were on the job before the new political team arrived, and who expect to be there after the team leaves.

"You have this bizarre cycle, where the leader comes into the room and says, 'We are going to march north,' and the bureaucracy all applaud," said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga. "Then the leader leaves the room, and the bureaucracy says, 'Yeah, well, this "march north" thing is terrific, but this year, to be practical, we have to keep marching south. But what we'll do is, we'll hire a consultant to study marching north, so that next year we can begin to think about whether or not we can do it.' "

The agendas elbow me out of the good seats in that room so I stand in the back, calculator in hand; but I've been there and believe me the suits keep marching south.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Watching West Wing

Jimmy Smits looks and sounds a lot like the 11th ward's Jimmy Balcer.

Public Affairs: Terri Schiavo and Rev. Jackson: The odd couple?

Berkowitz asks here on Public Affairs: Terri Schiavo and Rev. Jackson: The odd couple? why the delay on Jackson's part and could the answer be JJ sees the political fall out to come? It's all about connectiong the dots and I think the dots are going to connect in a way very unfavorable to those seen condeming Bush and Delay on this case.

The Buck Stops Here: Juan Cole and Schiavo

Buck's The Buck Stops Here: Juan Cole and Schiavo and the elites controling Schiavo's fate. I like Stuart Buck and I don't care much for elites.

The Arab Street.Com on Wolfowitz

Ray Hanania says this about Wolfowitz on his blog The Arab Street.Com based on this from Arab News also to be found in the Wash Post. Good for Wolf... I hope they're happy.

John's Journal

Something you should read: John's Journal

Elgin, Durbin and the "Dream Act"

Christine Beyers reported in today's Daily Herald on Sen Durbin's meeting with Elgin officials. Norma Miess, director of Elgin's Downtown Neighborhood Association, mentioned the Dream Act. I had never heard of it.

One way to give immigrants a chance to become skilled workers would be to approve the Dream Act, said Norma Miess, director of Elgin's Downtown Neighborhood Association.

"Education is an important element to us, and this will give our kids the opportunity to have a resource," Miess said of the act, which could eliminate the federal provision that discourages states from providing in-state tuition to students based on immigration status and allow immigrant students who have grown up in the U.S. to apply for legal status.

I doubted Durbin's commitment to immigrants in a comment on Respublica, but turns out I commented to fast. As you'll see from the link, Durbin joined Hatch in introducing the bill.

Immigration is a litmus test issue for me. One reason I liked Bush last election was he found Oberweis's anti-immigrant stances more odious than Allen Keyes's nuttiness. Folks raised me to admire people who chose to become Americans as opposed to me who fell into citizenship by birth, so the immigrant story resonants. Always feel a little inadequate about that. Native born just don't work as hard... as I quit now to pop open a beer.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Proviso East in the playoffs

Proviso's Shannon Brown and Dee Brown. Watched a proud Dad talk about his son on CLTV tonight.

Rumsfeld briefing again...

He reads as though he was in fine form today but I can't manage to stay up tonight for c-span's 12:30am rebroadcast.

People surprized to learn combatants are not criminals, they're combatants and held for the duration of the combat. UBL has the power to release them. All UBL has to do is surrender, end the combat, and the detainees go home. They're guilty of no crimes. They're at war with the United States and the best way to for them to get home is for their leader to end the war. Here is what R had to say on it:

Question: Mr. Secretary, I wonder if I couldn't ask you briefly about the -- I guess, for lack of a better term, the legal limbo at Gitmo right now, Guantanamo. There are about 540 prisoners there, and only four have been charged. And yet you seem to be tied up in kind of a rat's nest of appeals and court rulings that say, number one, you can't hold these people forever without charging them, and number two, you can't try them the way you're trying to try them.

I wonder if you're not actively -- if this department isn't actively trying to change the way the commissions are run, the way you try people down there, in order to clear this up, kind of block or bottleneck.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, I think that characterizing it as legal limbo is probably not correct. I mean, if you go back to any war in history, people who were detained were kept for the duration of the conflict, for most part, unless there was some reason to believe that they were detained in error. And that you can -- I suppose you could characterize it that way if you want, but I wouldn't characterize it that way. It's a practice that has existed for many, many decades.

Second, you're right; there have been a number of lawsuits filed. We live in a society of laws, as we're privileged to do. And when that happens, things are held in abeyance while those things work their way through the courts and a proper process is arranged to see that we're doing exactly what the -- might have been unclear in the first instance but became clearer as the court made a decision, and then was appealed and finally decided. That process is under way. It's not unique to this. It happens in business, it happens in government all the time.

Third, I would say that there's no question but that the people involved in this, which is basically the White House, the interagency group, and those of us here who have the task of implementing those decisions, are always trying to make sure that we're doing it in the best possible way, in an appropriate way. So we review things and make adjustments as time goes on.

Rumsfeld's epistemology and Nassim's vicious Black Swans

A Philosopy Prof on Yahoo's Rumsfeld Fan group is looking for the audio from this transcript of a DoD Press Conf with SecDef Rumsfeld. She want's this exchange on audio for her class,

Question: Could I follow up, Mr. Secretary, on what you just said, please? In regard to Iraq weapons of mass destruction and terrorists, is there any evidence to indicate that Iraq has attempted to or is willing to supply terrorists with weapons of mass destruction? Because there are reports that there is no evidence of a direct link between Baghdad and some of these terrorist organizations.

Rumsfeld: Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.

And so people who have the omniscience that they can say with high certainty that something has not happened or is not being tried, have capabilities that are -- what was the word you used, Pam, earlier?

Question: Free associate? (laughs)

Rumsfeld: Yeah. They can -- (chuckles) -- they can do things I can't do. (laughter)

Question: Excuse me. But is this an unknown unknown?

Rumsfeld: I'm not --

Question: Because you said several unknowns, and I'm just wondering if this is an unknown unknown.

Rumsfeld: I'm not going to say which it is.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb has written on "unknown unknowns" and you'll find him presenting at DoD conferences. His newest book is Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets.

Do a google search on "Nassim Black Swans" and you'll find fascinating discussion on the unpredictable. Here is one blog talking about Nassim and his theory of "Black Swans".

Wash Post and fake talking points

Three Bad Fingers links John Hinderacker's article in The Weekly Standard on another rathergate. My blog upholds higher journalistic standards than the Wash Post.

I have this feeling attacks on Bush over Schiavo case are really going to backfire. Voters going to turn on Judges once it sinks in Schiavo was starved to death, and people advocating pulling the tube were circulating phony documents. Just a guess on my part.

Great Horned Owl in Geneva

Garret Ordower writes in today's Daily Herald a great horned owl has nested in the Tamarack tree in front of the Kane County court house in Geneva. Owls fascinate me. They're the symbol of the Turners and visit the Elgin Turner hall and you'll see the Owl in the center of the old banners. West Side agent and I will get down there this week and blog a report.

Andrew Sullivan on Gay Patriot

Andrew Sullivan blogs today on the intimation and silencing of Gay Patriot. Far-left Gay Outers called his employer and threatened a national boycott of the company. AA links this which explains the whole story.

The Grinnell class of 76 listserv had a member who wrote the same kind of "outing" stuff on Ken Mehlman and I guess the author was inspired by the same blog site. I asked why in the world he would stoop so low and he made the same charge about Mehlman being "self-loathing" and thus deserving of being "outed". There were a few other reasons but "self loathing" was one of them because I remember wondering what in the world difference does "self loathing" make. One of the reasons I dropped out of the list. The left's overwhelmed by what Sullivan called the politics of resentment and it's lethal for them.

Monday, March 28, 2005

The Strange Death of Liberal England

Steyn was inspired for the title for his essay on the death of the Liberal West by George Dangerfield classic book from the 1935, The Strange Death of Liberal England; about the disintegration of liberal England before 1914.

I read Dangerfield back in Grinnell and still have my copy. One of my blog goals is to feature a historian every so often and Dangerfield will be my first. So ping my blog periodically for my thoughts on this one.

Groningen Protocol

The Groninger Hoek was home to folks with God and Life in balance. Life wasn't prolonged for Life's sake. But they would be agast where the Groninger who stayed in Holland have gone with the Groningen Protocol.

Steyn on Demographics

Want to forecast, just look at birthrates. Mark Steyn writes, "The strange death of the liberal West" :

Almost every issue facing the EU - from immigration rates to crippling state pension liabilities - has at its heart the same glaringly plain root cause: a huge lack of babies. I could understand a disinclination by sunny politicians to peddle doom and gloom were it not for the fact that, in all other areas of public policy, our rulers embrace doomsday scenarios at the drop of a hat. Most 20-year projections - on global warming, fuel resources, etc - are almost laughably speculative. They fail to take into account the most important factor of all - human inventiveness: "We can't feed the world!" they shriek. But we develop more efficient farming methods with nary a thought. "The oil will run out by the year 2000!" But we develop new extraction methods and find we've got enough oil for as long as we'll need it.

But human inventiveness depends on humans - and that's the one thing we really are running out of. When it comes to forecasting the future, the birth rate is the nearest thing to hard numbers. If only a million babies are born in 2005, it's hard to have two million adults enter the workforce in 2025 (or 2033, or 2041, or whenever they get around to finishing their Anger Management, Systemic Racism and Gay Studies degrees). If that's not a political issue, what is? To cite only the most obviously affected corner of the realm, what's the long-term future of the Scottish National Party if there are no Scottish nationals? --from "The strange death of the liberal West", By Mark Steyn (Filed: 22/03/2005) in The Daily Telegraph.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Der Stern shows American Archtypes

David's Medienkritik translates Der Stern's depiction of American archtypes. Note the system analyst from St Charles, Illinois. I didn't realize we were such a universal type in the world.

Jesse Jackson on Schiavo

Just heard Jesse Jackson repeat something very similar to this on Fox news.

I worked on a truck dock at 1033 West Van Bruen in the 70's and remember talking with "Mean Gene" Green about the Karen Ann Quinlan case. He told me he didn't want anybody to have the power to "off him". Stuck in my mind because I had never heard anyone use the word "off" that way before. Hardly a scientific analysis of African American attitudes, but somehow I think Jackson's tapped into how his constituency thinks on this one.

Besides that, Jackson sounded like he believed exactly what he said. There was nothing cynical about to him. A little opportunistic because he linked it all to a pitch for national health insurance, but I think he's troubled by pulling the feeding tube.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Jeff Berkowitz on Kirk and Rumsfeld

Jeff Berkowitz suggests Cong Kirk as potential replacement for Rumsfeld on Public Affairs.

What is the West Side?

Chicago Aurora & Elgin RR Map Posted by Hello

The Chicago Aurora & Elgin railroad called itself the "Sunset Lines". It carried commuters straight west into the sunset from Chicago's Well's Street Terminal over the Congress "L" to Forest Park and then on to Wheaton and finally the major towns along the Fox River. Above is a map from the Shoreline Interurban Historical Society of the CA&E's right-of-way.

The CA&E's trail defines the "West Side" for me. The railroad started today's modern suburbs and eased the trek west for city dwellers.

George Baily edited a wonderful book titled West Side Stories, City Stoop Press, Chicago, 1992. In the introduction he wrote the West Side was "...Bounded on the north by the C.M. & St. P. & P. Railroad, Kinzie Street, and the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, on the south by the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the Chicago River, and the Adlai E. Stevenson Expressway, on the immediate west by Oak Park and Cicero, and on the east by the Chicago River." page ix.

Bailey also wrote the West Side was a "state of mind" and while Railroads, rivers, and highways geographically described it, the book gave us a sense of the "state of mind".

My Dad always told me to take a good look around Chicago because we're constantly tearing down and building over again. We're also moving west. The old CA&E rightway is the path, and Bailey's right when he says there's a West Side mind set. It's an outlook on life, and we bring it along with us.

Cap the Ike

Gapersblock on "Cap the Ike" project. This will be project to watch.... who pays? Oak Park was the last stretch of the Congress Expressway (now the Eisenhower) to be built. Oak Parkers thought everyone else would duck the financing and the village would be stuck with a big ditch. I remember huge machines pounding the reinforcing girders at Oak Park Ave. Scared the heck out of me.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Hubers brings back Rhinelander beer

Rhinelander on Tap Posted by Hello

Summertime use to mean cases of Rhinelander beer in returnable bottles. Huber's dropped the brand for a while but Kathy Jones over at Huber's writes it's back; but:

The only distributor in Illinois to take it at this point is Premium Brands in Champaign, Illinois. We have another Distributor in Freeport, Illinois that probably would take it in if there was a demand. You could check with Premium Brands(217-356-3777) to see where they distribute or if you wish you could call Hartman Beverage(815-233-9916) to see if she would be willing to take it.

Otherwise you can come to the Brewery and take a great tour and purchase Rhinelander in Town. We can't sell it here but we have several outlets that can.I hope this helps you out. Let me know if I can be of further assistance and have a great Easter!!

Kathy Jones
Office Manager/Tour Center Manager
Phone: 608-325-3191
Fax: 608-325-3198

Time for trip to Monroe soon.

Blog Wars

So how scared should I be of this?

James D. Miller writes the in "The Coming War on Blogs":

The Democratic Party will likely assist the MSM in their attack on blogs, not because most blogs are pro-Republican but because blogs are not as consistently liberal as the MSM. John Kerry, for example, is calling for the government to do something to protect the MSM. As he said in a recent speech:

"The mainstream media, over the course of the last year, did a pretty good job of discerning. But there's a subculture and a sub-media that talks and keeps things going for entertainment purposes rather than for the flow of information. And that has a profound impact and undermines what we call the mainstream media of the country. And so the decision-making ability of the American electorate has been profoundly impacted as a consequence of that. The question is, what are we going to do about it?"

Exit Strategy

In the movie "Patton", George C. Scott portrayed Patton telling the troops the goal in war was not to die for your country, but make the other guy die for his.

Same could be said for "exit strategies": ours should be to force the other guy to contemplate one. Looks like we might be succeeding according to Financial Times online: Iraq's insurgents ‘seek exit strategy'.

Sharif Ali said the success of Iraq's elections dealt the insurgents a demoralising blow, prompting them to consider the need to enter the political process.

Starve a dog?

Nadar told Novak this about Schiavo case,

On Monday night, Ralph Nader was substituting as left wing host on CNN's ''Crossfire'' and seemed uncomfortable grilling Republican Rep. David Dreier of California. After the show, the old reformer noted to me that it was illegal to starve a dog to death but it was being done to Terri Schiavo. This is an issue truly transcending normal political boundaries.

I'm not so sure. The more I read. The more clear cut it seems. You can't deny someone food and water just becuase their quality of life doesn't match your perception.

Kyrgyzstan matters

The BBC tells us why.

Social Security welfare?

I worked at Social Security's Great Lake Payment Center at 600 West Madison in the 1970's and was there for the dedication of the new building. Anarchist artists showed up protesting the baseball bat sculpture as Gov welfare to capitalist art. They were naked save for barrels held up with suspenders to show how that had been fleeced. I remember the stunned looks on Mrs Mondale and Ernie Banks faces' at the dedication ceremony as the Chicago cops clubbed the anarchists down west Madison.

SSA had a special code to stop payments to people who refused checks because they thought the payments were welfare. FDR refused to means test SSA payments because he wanted to enshrine the system as an entitlement. People earned it. The money was theirs. It wasn't welfare. FDR succeeded except for the small handful of quirky folks for whom we needed the stop payment codes at the payment center.

Robert Samuelson wrote a column "Welfare Junkies" in the Wash Post telling us the quirky folks had it right. It's a transfer of income.

Regardless of what you call Social Security, Samuelson nails the problem in the quote below:

Despite what you've heard, the real issue is not Social Security's "solvency." It is the total cost to the government of baby boomers' retirement, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid (which covers much nursing home care). The real issue is preventing those costs from becoming economically oppressive and politically poisonous. Even if the Social Security trust fund is made permanently "solvent" -- in the sense that taxes cover benefits -- the
costs of all federal retirement programs may still become undesirably high. In 2004 Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid were 8 percent of national income. Left alone, they'll reach 14.5 percent by 2030, the Government Accountability Office projects. The CBO has made a similar projection.

DJWinfo: Judy Baar Topinka is aiming for the mansion

DJWINFO blogged Judy Baar Topinka is aiming for the mansion a few days ago and mentioned potential Bobby Rush support for Topinka.

After Bush gave his speech he slowly walked out of the Chamber shaking Congressional hands on the way out. Rush leans over and Bush takes his hand and I clearly her Bush say, "Thanks Bobby". I thought that was precious. These guys really sounded like friends. I'm sure they are and that's great.

The cycnic in me wonders if Congressman Rush getting "Faith Based Initiative" grants.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Iraqi Al-Qa'ida Organization: A Self-Portrait

Middle East Media Research Institute translates "...the first issue of the 'Department of Indoctrination' of the Al-Qa'ida-Iraq organization's online magazine...".

Find yourself in the cross hairs of guys who write this:

"Renewing pure monotheism which was brought by our Prophet Muhammad amongst those whose monotheism was sullied by the filth of polytheistic elements, and the spreading of the axiom 'there is no God but Allah' in lands where Islam has not yet arrived."

and I don't think understanding the shooter's alienation will offer you much protection.

Arch Pundit's Cattle Call

Arch Pundit's 2006 GOP Gubernatorial Cattle Call helps keep the players straight.

Omar back blogging

IRAQ THE MODEL is back from vacation. He disappeared for a while and it had me worried.

Eric Krol on Ron Gidwitz

Eric Krol talked with Gidwitz about why he wanted to run for Illinois Gov:

Why in the heck is Gidwitz, a man probably worth more than everyone else in the room combined, doing this?

“I didn’t express it particularly well, but I’ve spent my whole adult life working and helping people. I just found that it makes me feel good, and I think is very helpful to other people to engage in something other than just earning a living for you and your family. And God blessed me with some additional abilities,” said Gidwitz, explaining that he simply thinks he can do a better job leading Illinois into the future than Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who presumably will seek re-election next year.

Unlike most of the rich candidates of the past decade, Gidwitz has a resume in public service. He served as chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education and cut what critics said was a bloated bureaucracy. He was chairman of the City Colleges of Chicago, a Republican tapped by a Democratic mayor.

Someone please help this man craft a message other than he can do a better job than Rod Blagojevich. It's so easy to dismiss millionaires running for office. We need some choices in Illinois and we need some candidates with fire in the gut to accomplish badly needed things.

West Side Killer Poet and Nelsen Algren

Sun Times reports today Norman Porter liked Nelsen Algren,

But Porter had no family or close friends in Chicago. The poet had read Chicago writer Nelson Algren's City on the Make, and perhaps he saw something of himself in the characters who inhabit the book's netherworld.

"The book inspired him to stay," the source said. "He decided he needed to learn the city. So he gets bus and train schedules. He goes all over the city. He wants to see all the sights mentioned in [Algren's] book."

I worked at Dr Scholl's factory outlet store on Schiller and Wells in the 70s (now Cobbler's Square lofts) and would get a Guinness over at the old O'Rourke's on Sedgwick and North. Nelsen Algren had just left for New Jersey (or was it Long Island?) but O'Rourke's had been his watering hole in Chicago before leaving. The bar tender told me he was a real jerk at the bar annoying women.

I like his short stories and my Dad bought me some of his books. I do wonder about romanticizing the cruddy side of life. It's not real, or at least not the 'real majority' of life, and maybe we shouldn't make it so popular. On the other hand, these are great stories: Algren and our West Side Poet Mr. Porter.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Can't believe everything you read in the papers

From DoD News Briefing with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President & Defense Minister Jose Alencar, Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Question: Good morning. The Argentine newspapers yesterday published protests on the part of the Argentineans with regard to the information that the United States is going to begin monitoring Argentine airspace as a preventive measure to avoid trafficking and terrorist movement. I would like to know Mr.Secretary, have you spoken to any Brazilian or [inaudible] views to the Vice President or President of the Republic about the possibility of carrying out this type of control of Brazilian border areas and other border areas in Latin America; Colombia, Bolivia and other countries? Do you have any intentions to monitor our airspace and our borders? What would be these borders if you do have this intention and what type of control would you exercise in this case?

Rumsfeld: You don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper do you? She didn’t have her earpiece in. I’ll repeat that. You don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper do you?

Rumsfeld: What did she say? I know nothing of what you’re talking about. Roger, do you? I’ve not seen the article. Insofar as, if you correctly and fully characterize the article, then I can say that it is inaccurate. Because had there been anything like that, I would have heard something of it, and I’ve never heard of anything like that. So, you can disabuse yourself of that concern.

And no, we’ve had no discussions of that type here either.

So, that’s one question down.

Alencar: If you would allow me to, I would like to recall here a passage in 1770, 1780 when President Thomas Jefferson stated that not always when you read newspapers are you well informed.

Madrid Summit

Weekly Standard about the International Summit on Democracy, Terror, and Security held in Madrid this month.

This sort of talk from the summit spooks me. The BBC quoted former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell saying,

"What, for example, might reinforce a sense of alienation, or a person's susceptibility to a belief system that justifies something which seems so horrible, such as the targeting of civilians and innocent people to make a political point?"

"Alienation" one of those mushy words that takes me back to 1968 when summit participant Danny Cohn-Bendit lead the student rebellions in France and Germany. The barricades looked fun, exotic, and romantic to a kid in Oak Park in 1968.

Schiavo case and Brown's advice

Mike Brown writes some common sense stuff on Schiavo case today. My mom (in her 70's) started a tradition now before every thanksgiving dinner of going over all of her end-of-life wishes, reminding of us of where her paperwork is filed, reminding us who is designated in directives to do what, and any other practical things on her West Sider, depression-era mind (she's Steinmetz HS class of 1948). Sobers you up before the meal.

West Side Killer Poet

From today's Sun Times. Chicago home to many on the run.

In Chicago, J.J. Jameson's voice resonated deeply on poetry stages. He marched for peace and even helped set up chairs at community policing meetings in his Far West Side neighborhood.

But in Massachusetts, Jameson's story is a much darker tale of murder and jail break and a 20-year run from the law.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Red Chicago: Brarack's first votes

Red Chicago writes on Brarack's first votes and links to the Trib story on him. Obama gets a lot of attention from the public.

I often see Dick Durbin at O'Hare and no one pays him any attention. Sat next too him in a waiting area once for a 7am flight to Washington National and we watched CNN Headline News on Iraq. Told him he had some tough decisions facing him and I'd pray for him. (I'm not a praying sort either). Durbin said "thanks friend" and asked where I lived. Told West Side Agent about it afterwards and she thought I sounded goofy. Felt better for having said it though.

Durbin always looks well pressed and hair all in place. Pols always do. I look rumbled when traveling and don't care what impression I make. So no votes for me...

Monday, March 21, 2005

David Brooks in Cassandra Mode

David Brook's wrote....

If you want an image that captures what American politics will be like over the next few decades, imagine two waves crashing down upon us simultaneously, each magnifying the damage caused by the other.

The first wave is the exploding cost of the entitlement programs. The second wave is the ever-increasing polarization of the political class. The polarization will make it impossible to reach an agreement on how to fix the entitlements problem. Meanwhile the vicious choices forced on us by entitlement costs will make the polarization even worse.

My generation is the problem. A lot of us getting old and still with a nasty habit of uncompromising political moralizing from the 1960s.

No Shows on Schiavo vote

Respublica looks at the tally and tells us 102 Democrats did not vote on the Schiavo bill including Schakowsky, Emanuel, Davis, and Shimkus. It's not brains they're lacking here Res...

He doesn't talk like MacNamara

I remember watching MacNamara on TV with his maps and pointer. Rumsfeld is no MacNamara. He talks straight. May not agree with him, but there is nothing phoney about the man. See

QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, two years after the war, was it worth 1500 American lives and countless number of Iraqis? And on the other hand, are you concerned you're pushing the Iranians and Syrians together?

RUMSFELD: The answer as to whether it's worth it is you bet. There's 25 million Iraqis that are free. We've seen the effects, and we know for a fact that the great sweep of human history is for freedom. What you're seeing in Ukraine and what you're seeing in Lebanon, what you're seeing with the Palestinians, what's happened in Afghanistan, I think is a reflection of the fact that human beings basically want to be free and nations that are subjected to vicious dictatorships are the kinds of nations that do what Saddam Hussein did. He used chemical weapons on his own people and on his neighbors, the Iranians. He invaded two of his neighbors. What we're seeing today is economic progress in Iraq, we're seeing political progress and the seating of a Constituent Assembly. We're seeing progress on the security front with 145,000 Iraqi Security Forces now assuming greater responsibility.

What's happening in Afghanistan, and it's interesting, people don't ask about Afghanistan any more. Three thousand Americans were killed in the United States of America. Why? Because a terrorist state launched attacks against our country and killed innocent men, women and children. Today that country has a popularly-elected President, its economic progress is notable. Women were able to vote. Women are able to go out on the street today in Afghanistan without escorts and to participate in society.

So combined, 50 million people are free. Is it worth it? You bet.

QUESTION: The Iranians and Syrians?

RUMSFELD: The question the way you stated it implied that the Iranians and Syrians have not been connected for decades, which would be incorrect. They have been connected. Iran is a terrorist state; Syria is a terrorist state. The Iranians have been working with the Syrians and sending down weapons for the Hezbollah through Damascus into Beirut, Lebanon and into the Bekaa Valley for years after years after years. So there's nothing new in terms of that relationship.

Hadi Saleh: murdered Iraqi Communist

If I was at that Demo in the Loop, I would have held a picture of the Iraqi Communist Hadi Saleh. Saleh worked with the Coalition to prepare for the Iraqi elections and was brutally murdered by Islamic terrorists for his cooperation.

Britian's Stop the War Coalition (STHWC) dismissed Saleh as a "Quisling" for America in their press, and that recognition in Europe is probably what motivated his murderers. The STHWC's atrocity prompted this letter in Jan 2005 from Labour Friends of Iraq.

The murder of Hadi Saleh demands the most serious political and moral accounting by every member of StWC leadership. For the StWC leaders were warned months ago. The ex-Aslef leader, Mick Rix, when he resigned from the Stop the War Coalition Steering Committee in October 2004, commented on the “deliberate, archaic, violent, and plain downright stupid” language the StWC leaders used when describing Hadi’s organisation. The IFTU had been called ‘collaborators’ by the StWC officers, ‘quislings’ by leading StWC member George Galloway MP (comments picked up and published in the Arab Press), and a ‘fake’ union by the newspaper of Lindsey German, the Convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Socialist Worker.

Mick Rix argued presciently that these irresponsible statements by StWC leaders had “placed these good trade unionists and socialists at a terrible risk”.

The Stop the War leaders have romanticised the ‘Resistance’.

StWC leaders view the “resistance” as a legitimate national liberation movement. StWC leaders view as ‘collaborators’ the IFTU, all election workers, and all democratic parties participating in the January elections, whether Iraqi Communists, Kurdish Parties or Shia.

This view is quite wrong. The leaders of the ‘resistance’ are an amalgam of Baathists, Islamic fundamentalists, pro-al-Qaeda militants and criminals. There is nothing progressive about their political programmes. If they were ever to take state power then it would be a disaster for every worker, woman, lesbian and gay, Christian, Jew and democrat who would be left in Iraq. There would be years of unbridled reaction.

The UN-backed elections draw near. These elections are supported by the vast majority of Iraqis, 75% of whom expressed a ‘strong intention’ to vote. The vast majority of Iraqis have decided the UN backed political process offers their best chance to win sovereignty and democracy. In response the ‘resistance’ have targeted democrats, election workers, socialists, trade unionists, the leaders of the Shia, the Kurds and the Communists, and the schools that will function as polling booths.
--qutoed from Labour Friends of Iraq open letter to Stop the War Coalition, Jan 2005

Red Chicago: Liberalism: Can it survive?

Red Chicago blogged a yahoo review of Marty Peretz's essay on Liberalism: Can it survive?

I still feel like the Socialist of my youth. If People would ask what "I am" I would say I'm a Tony Blair Democrat. And like Tony Blair, I'm with Bush.

I'm married to a Blue too just like you Red Chicago. We manage to get along quite nicely as there is a great deal more to life than politics.

Judy Baar-Topinka

Sun Times reports today Judy Baar-Topinka will announce a run for Illinois Gov. I'm not related to her. I like her though.

South Dakota is #1

Blogging Blagojevich's Blunders found this link: South Dakota is #1 ; with lists of regional bloggers.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra

Number one son and number two daughter performed in the Elgin Youth Symphony Orchestra this afternoon. The combined Philharmonic and Youth Symphony's performance of Louis Morceau Gottschalk's, "La Nuit des Tropiques" [Night in the Tropics] was outstanding and made me feel the breeze from Key West.

Sobering up on the red line

Sobering up on the red line: A Chicago blogger who tells us she would "...never drink Strohs out of the can but I don't see the point in paying five dollah for some fancy-dancy German beer when this country makes a damned fine product for which this humble blog is named. "

After Bush?

An email from the Rumsfeld yahoo group lists:

Andrew Sullivan on Conservatives

AA comments in the Sunday Times Online on conflicts among conservatives.

"Beneath the surface, however, American conservatism is in increasing trouble. The Republican coalition, always fragile, now depends as much on the haplessness of the Democrats as on its own internal logic. On foreign and domestic policy alike the American right is splintering. With no obvious successor to George W Bush that splintering will deepen. "

McCain will succeed and he will bridge the gap.

Sadly, the Democrats are hapless and will remain so.

Glad Bush had a narrow win and not a Nixon landslide. A tough fight for re-election served Bush well. It will help make his second term a success. (check this post again in 24 months).

City Journal on Maureen Dowd

Kay Hymowitz writes an essay titled "Maureen, Queen of Mean: For Maureen Dowd, it’s still high school", for City Journal.

"Dowd is the Mean Girl of the chattering class, the alpha female whose power comes from her shrewd sense of her classmates’ social limitations. No one outside a high school cafeteria has a better eye for 11th grade types: the sex-obsessed outsider-nerd (Ken Starr), the spoiled daddy’s boy (George W.), the dumb cheerleader with a permanent crush on the Big Man on Campus (Monica), and of course, the student council president, that “letter-sweater smoothie” (“adolescent-in-chief” Bill Clinton). "

I was an obscurity in high school. But just as politics is Hollywood for homely people, blogging is limelight for the undistinguished. Our stars shine here.

VA Study on PTSD and Women

Today's Trib writes on a recent VA study on the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder among returning Women Veterans.

The Trib picks up S.L.A. Marshall's observations on Fire-Ratios during WWII but Marshall's history has been debunked long ago by Roger J. Spiller, "S.L.A. Marshall and the Ratio of Fire", The RUSI Journal, Winter 1988, pages 63-71. Troops shot less because of the way the Army trained them. I don't know why the Trib would add a misleading reference to Marshall to an otherwise good story.

Anti-War friends have resurrected the old 1920's pacifist paradigm of cold-hearted and geriatric Generals sending young MEN to their deaths. I stop them at the words: young men, and tell them many women serve in today's US force. (The force is also older today than ever before.) Young women sacrifice just as much as the young men.

Listen to the DoD press briefings and the speaker will always note both men and women serve. Look at the signs in yesterday's anti-Iraq war demos and note how many make the gender distinction. I tell them they need to update their 1920's thinking to at least give women credit. It's a sign of how stuck the anti-Iraq War sloganeering is in the old isolationism.

This is the first War where the troops have e-mail at the front line. A soldier can get an "Dear John/Jane" letter as e-mail and be on patrol 20 mins later. I know Military and VA Mental Health providers and researchers on top of this and the Trib story gives optimism on their early intervention.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Spiegel's "Fish Wrap" in English on German Unemployment

"Fish Wrap" says cut taxes.. reduce bureaucracy... sounds familiar. Hope they try.

I'm glad my German cousins are pacifist now, because I'm spooked by a Germany with staggering unemployment and politicians who scapegoat American neo-cons to keep their polls from sinking.

Schroeder did make some concrete suggestions: He proposed sinking corporate taxes from the current level of 25 percent to 19 percent, promised new investments in "infrastructure," and announced steps that will make it easier to start new companies. He also, though, took refuge in rhetoric, demanding, for example, solidarity with those just starting their careers but unable to find jobs and with older workers in danger of losing their positions. He made no mention, however, of reducing payroll burdens to make it cheaper for companies to hire.

Faith Based Programs and our Prisons

I know people who go ballistic when someone suggests Faith Based programs managing our Prisons. Paul Froehlich visited the now "faith-based" Angola State prison in Louisiana with with Sen. Rev. James Meeks, Sen. Peter Roskam, and former State Rep. Tom Johnson of the Prisoner Review Board and it looks as though they'll propose a trial for Illinois.

I volunteered for a year so every Tuesday evening at Cook County Jail with the The Safer Foundation in the late 1980s. Everyone ought to spend some time in a jail. Someone wants to get innovative about managing these places it's ok with me. Most of the volunteers I saw were people motivated by faith. They were about the only folks interested in inmates.

But I hope "Faith-Based" groups understand how to manage staff and know what to do when an abuse happens. Churches often aren't real good at managing their own sinners. They can save souls, but running an institution beyond them sometimes.

Draft Zinni!

I hate to see retired Military campaign in uniform. Check the picture at Draft Zinni! It put's the Services into the political fray and the Officers and Troops hate that.

It's Obama Please

Gapers Block writes the Democratic National Committee's website still hasn't replaced Fitzgerald with Obama as our junior Senator from Illinois. Heck of a think to do for a rising star. Check the DNC page. It was still Fitz as of 7:30am today.

Murder on the West Side

Sun Times writes the murder rate is down.

....numbers on the West Side have some officers cautiously optimistic that gentrification in parts of the area and police tactics -- cameras on street corners, busting up drug corners and constantly shifting deployments -- might signal more fundamental change in one of the city's toughest areas.

Violence shifting

"It's going well, but we work hard at it,'' said Charles L. Williams, deputy chief of patrol for Area 4. "It can always change, so you work hard to make sure that it doesn't change.''

The traditionally violent summer months are ahead, and shootings in the area remain high. There were 55 shootings as of March 11, compared to just 10 shootings in Area 3.

Still, the decline in homicides on the West Side has been noticeable to the people working and living there, said Lt. Ken Angarone, who heads up the tact teams in the Harrison District, where there have been no murders this year.

Angarone said he sees fewer cars lining up on the neighborhood streets that once were markets for drugs. The trade has moved indoors, which is safer for the public, he said.

"The violence is moving off the street,'' he said. "We have to believe that what we're doing is working.''

The Fatwa Against Bin Laden

The Lawndale Press's Daniel Nardini wrote an interesting commentary. I've never seen anyting about this in MSM:

Well, someone has finally turned the moral tables on Osama Bin Laden. The Islamic Council of Spain has issued a fatwa (official edict) against Osama Bin Laden. It carries no lawful authority with it, but a very strong moral one. It states that Osama Bin Laden, in his quest to use terror and insurgent tactics to intimidate those opposed to him, is no longer a true Muslim and therefore all Muslims must disobey and disregard whatever he says or does. The Muslim clerics who issued the fatwa live in Spain, but are primarily from Tunisia and other parts of North Africa. The point is that now an important part of the Muslim world has gone against Osama Bin Laden. They are making it clear that he has blackened the name of Islam, and he can no longer be included in the community of Muslims who seek peace, justice and tolerance.
--Daniel Nardini in The Lawndale News

Friday, March 18, 2005

Kane County Dem Blog

Kane County Dem's deserve credit for opening themselves up for comment. Here's my post to their question, "Would a 46 Year-old Individual Make Big Gains in a Private Account?"

Here's my reply. Let's see if they keep it online.

If that 46 yo had started back in 1978

Submitted by Bill Baar on Fri, 03/18/2005 - 5:29pm.

Our 46 year old would be in pretty good shape today had he or she invested only modest amounts in the market starting in 1978 when Bush first endorsed the concept in his run for Congress. My step-dad was a barber in Cicero for many years and did just that in the 1970s with spectacular success despite the crashes. The fact that our 46 year old's future security looks a little shaky today is a compelling reason to reform fast.

It's wrong to think of personal accounts as privatization. They have the potential of becoming a Federally managed system of personal investment accounts replacing Social Security and Private Pension Plans. They offer many benefits to younger workers and a great alternative to the current punishing regressive tax on working people. They represent a tax shelter for all; not just the rich. The market/investment risks far more favorable and manageable than the inevitable demographic pressure of an increasing group of retirees.

Opposing Personal Accounts denies working people an opportunity to invest their retirements in the American and world economy and condemning them instead to dependency on a regressive tax on a shrinking proportion of future workers (who are also our grandchildren). We're denying workers the opportunity to invest in the American and World economy and restricting them to a declining tax base. That's really unjust for all groups.

Bush's proposal is progressive and ought to be given careful consideration by people concerned with labor.

Bill Baar age 50

Krauthammer's "What's Left? Shame"

Krauthammer's "What's Left? Shame" column in the Wash Post.

"Now that the real Arab street has risen to claim rights that the West takes for granted, the left takes note. It is forced to acknowledge that those brutish Americans led by their simpleton cowboy might have been right. It has no choice. It is shamed. A Lebanese, amid a sea of a million other Lebanese, raises a placard reading 'Thank you, George W. Bush,' and all that Euro-pretense, moral and intellectual, collapses. "

I think Krauthammer is wrong here. I don't think think the left is ashamed at all.

Grinnell College, Democracy, Iraq, and all we can say is "Now What?"

Received my Spring issue of The Grinnell Magazine and found an inspiring picture on the cover of a young Iraqi voter presenting her ink signed finger to the camera. Inside were good interviews with Alumni offering varying opinions. But what I found dismaying was the subtitle on the cover besides a truly heroic photo: "Afer the Voting in Iraq: now what?" That all Grinnell can say to people dying for noble ideals; "now what"?

Here's the email I sent to the editor,

Received my Spring Issue yesterday. Inspired by the picture of the young Iraqi Woman proudly --and bravely-- holding up her ink stained finger. Saddened though by the quote, "After the Voting in Iraq: Now What?".

There was a time when Grinnellians could come up with something a little more inspirational to say to allies for Democracy's sake than "now what?".

Tony Blair reminded us of one such Grinnellian in 1998 when he recalled Harry Hopkin's reply to Winston Churchill at a moment when Britian was standing alone against Hitler: "...on the last evening before he [Hopkins] left to take home a message to America, he gave a speech to the dinner and sitting next to Churchill he said: 'I suppose you wish to know what I am going to say to President Roosevelt on my return!' And then Harry Hopkins said he would be quoting a verse from the Bible: 'Whither Thou goest I will go and whither Thou lodgest I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people and thy God my God!' and Hopkins paused and then he said: 'Even to the end!' and Churchill wept.

The full test of Blair's speech is at

I'd like to think the United States and Grinnell will be with this brave woman until the end.

Bill Baar class of 1976

Blogging is Flogging?

West Side Agent likes the blog now but she's appalled by my misspelling. It's been a life long afflicaton for me. Spell checkers help but don't catch everything. The one on blogspot suggests "Flogging" for "Blogging". Sometimes I feel the flogger.

Three Bad Fingers on Rights of the Unborn

He's a thoughtful blogger. Here's another post.


I'm not a legal beagle and haven't followed all the ins-and-outs of Supreme Court Decisions. I enjoyed Joe Wall's Constitutional History class at Grinnell but it convinced me I had no aptitude for law. With the Judicial nominations coming up in the text term, I might have to break down and become more familiar with the hows and whys.

Three Bad Fingers is blogging on Scalia and I tend to agree with Scalia. Courts shouldn't decide questions best left to Legislatures. (I would have been ok with FDR's "court packing" plan too. Here's FDR's Fireside Chat from 1937 where he explains it.)

Here's an excerpt from the Q & A with Scalia found on Three Bad Fingers. I agree with Scalia,

Flip Strum:

Justice Scalia, you started by talking about Roper. And if we can go back to the Court's concept of evolving standards that it used in Roper. In Roper and Atkins, you said that in looking at capital punishment cases, and the whole question of whether mentally retarded people or people below the age of eighteen could be put to death, you said that the legislature, if there are evolving standards of decency which should be used to interpret the Eighth Amendment, that they should be enunciated by the legislatures or by the sentencing jurors. So I'm wondering, given that, are you x-ing out the possibility of real judicial review for Eighth Amendment capital cases? Would you just kind of explain your Eighth Amendment jurisprudence a little bit?

Justice Scalia:

I think, I didn't say that if there is to be an evolution of standards under the Eighth Amendment, it's up to the legislature. No, the legislature can't change the Eighth Amendment. I'm saying the Eighth Amendment means what was cruel and unusual and unconstitutional in 1791 remains that today. The death penalty wasn't, and hence it isn't, despite the fact that I sat with three colleagues that thought it had become unconstitutional. Executing someone under eighteen was not unconstitutional in 1791, so it is not unconstitutional today. Now, it may be very stupid. It may be a very bad idea, just as notching ears, which was a punishment in 1791, is a very bad idea. But the people can change, the people can eliminate those stupidities if and when they want. To evolve, you don't need a constitution. All you need is a legislature a ballot box. Things will evolve as much as you want. They can create a right to abortion. They can abolish the death penalty. They can legitimize homosexual sodomy. All of these things, all of these changes can come about democratically. You don't need a constitution to do that. And it's not the function of a constitution to do that. --taken from transcription of the Question and Answer period subsequent to Justice Scalia's speech at the Wilson Center on March 14, 2005.

BBC and Ebber's "Aw Shucks" Defense

West Side Agent listens to the BBC via WNIU. She said listening to the BBC's News Reader explain Ebber's "Aw Shucks" defense strategy in English was a hoot.

Growing Egyptian-U.S. Tensions: Egyptian Press Attacks President Bush

Middle East Media Research Institute translates the Arabic press and TV for us. Here is a release from MEMRI yesterday on recent attacks on Bush in the Egyptian press. MEMRI's streaming video of Arab TV something everyone should view. Gives a new insight on what's happening in our world.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Buck on Scalia

More from The Buck Stops Here. This time it's on Justice Scalia.

The Buck Stops Here: Brain Drain Essay

Stuart Buck's The Buck Stops Here blogs a Brain Drain Essay on immigration. I wish Buck would find time to blog more. I enjoy his insights.

Wash Post Editorial Supporting Wolfowitz for World Bank Chief, but....

Today's Post editorial supports Wolfowitz for the World Bank but want him to appreciate Mussolini made the trains run on time, that Hitler brought full employment. This is a stupid thing for the Post to write:

The World Bank is a poverty-fighting institution, not a democracy-spreading one, and in the short term the link between development and democracy is tenuous: Some of the greatest recent advances against poverty have come in autocracies such as China and Vietnam. To be true to its mission, and to survive as a financial institution, the World Bank needs to stay active in these undemocratic development success stories. --from Washington Post editiorial "A New Boss for the World Bank" March 17, 2005

Bill Page's column on Maple Park gambling bust

Bill Page's column in today's Kane County Chronicle says it was Lisa Madigan's office leading the charge against Maple Park's high rollers.
This was a gift from the office of Attorney General Lisa Madigan, which apparently considers halting gambling in a small town tavern to be of such importance that they dedicated nearly a year of investigation and untold resources to building their case. What a great use of your tax dollar. -- Bill Page, Kane County Chronicle, March 17, 2005

Happy St Pat's Day

We've got our Green River.

Middle East Markets

Invest some of those Personal Accounts in funds invested in the Middle East if the Milken Institute's Glenn Yago and Don McCarthy are right: from the WSJ.

With the rules of the Middle Eastern political and economic game fundamentally changed since the fall of Saddam, investors who are not persuaded by media herd behavior are valuing more highly than ever the prospects for regional reforms and future growth. The conventional wisdom about the Mideast is ubiquitous in the press, but largely unjustified from an economic perspective. A search of newspaper and magazine stories in 2004 reveals more than 3,338 articles including the words "Middle East" and "war and terrorism"; only 102 stories linking the "Middle East" with "growth" and "recovery" can be found.

Yet definitive policies to normalize the Middle East have made regional and global market investors bullish, repatriated capital exported (or that had fled) from the region, and encouraged a sea change in foreign direct investment. The end of Saddam's regime sent a major, unconfused market signal after the West's years of disinterest in the Middle East as a Levantine backwater. Subsequently, every major capital market index in the Middle East has risen.

Mayor Eugene Sawyer

I heard Mayor Sawyer on a TV talk-show shortly after he became Mayor. The interviewer asked him to think back on something he had learned from Mayor Daley (the first one). Sawyer paused thoughtfully and responded, "you never have to take back things you don't say".

Personal Accounts aren't Privatiziation

Fred Barnes writes a good editorial for The Weekly Standard advising Bush to reject advice to drop talk of Personal Accounts in Social Security, and instead talk about nothing else. Barnes is right. Personal Accounts the way to sell reform and younger audiences (voters) the most receptive to the pitch.

I get a kick out of calling Personal Accounts a move towards Priviatiziation. It will be just the opposite and result in a single Federally Managed system of individual accounts that will replace private pension plans. The Fed Gov's ability to manage these with very little overhead is going to prompt people to want to pay into them. Read our Senator Peter Fitzgerald on the efficiency of our Thrift Savings Plan for Congressmen and Civil servants: "Fitzgerald has said that the TSP offers much lower fees than those charged the 95 million Americans who have invested $7 trillion in private mutual funds. In 2003, the TSP charged only 11 basis points, or 11 cents per $100, in all fees related to operating the funds. The average comparable index funds in the private sector charge 63 basis points, according to Lipper Services a figure that does not include transaction costs."

Here's Barne's closing paragraph from the editorial. I think it's pretty persuasive,

There's a new Democratic line of attack. Democrats charge breathlessly that Bush has been advocating individual accounts since he ran for Congress in 1978 and predicted Social Security would become insolvent by 1988 without accounts. Actually, it did become insolvent in 1983. The Washington Times checked what would have happened if individual accounts, invested in market index funds, had been established in 1978. The Dow since then has soared from 820 to nearly 11,000, the S&P 500 from 96 to more than 1,220, and Nasdaq from 118 to roughly 2,050. Retirees would be living in high style. So, Mr. President, letter rip on individual accounts. You've got nothing to lose and momentous reform and a booming Republican party to gain.
--Fred Barnes, for the Editors

And for those who think Personal Accounts a capitalist plot, read this from The Hill,

....Wall Street is reluctant to push for Social Security reform because it might only provide a modest increase in investment and Congress is expected to cap management fees, which would limit profits for the company, or companies, managing it. --The Hill, Feb 2, 2005

Wolfowitz to the World Bank

The Financial Times wrote:

While Mr Wolfowitz's career included a stint as ambassador to Indonesia, his focus has long been on military affairs and he is not seen as an expert on development issues or international finance.

Oxfam, the aid agency, said: "It is vital that whoever becomes the new World Bank president ensures that the Bank is focused on reducing poverty."

Some non-governmental groups fear Mr Wolfowitz will have a different focus, seeking to enlist the bank in the larger project of building US security by spreading democracy. "There will be concern about the possibility of introducing the war on terror into the projects and policies of the World Bank," said Manish Bapna, executive-director of the Bank Information Center.

Mr Wolfowitz has said on more than one occasion that he believes development is vital to winning the war on terrorism. In a speech at the Brookings Institution in 2002, he said: "The hundreds of millions of Muslims who aspire to modernity, freedom and prosperity are, in reality, themselves on the front line of the struggle against terrorism.

Fighting the social ill of poverty and promoting democracy incompatible? I'd call it Social Democratic, and that's fine with me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Pinkos and Powell Powell

Maple Park gambling got me thinking of race track politics in Illinois. I never realized how it once dominated the state until I read Robert Hartley's Paul Powell of Illinois: A Lifelong Democrat. I'm guessing Casino Gambling has replaced horse racing's influence. I don't know. It's one reason I started the blog so I would become more involved in Illinois issues.

For those who remember, Powell allegedly kept stacks of cash in his closet. Hartley writes that was probably false and the cash stashed there after Powell's death by his staff who were clueless what to do with it. Powell did keep cases of canned cream corn in his room. He lived off of it.

I vividly remember Powell's death. I was an insufferable pinko at Oak Park River Forest High School that year. A substitute teacher in my German class mentioned how shocked she was to learn of finding $800,000 in Powell's closet. She said no one would have suspected a great man like him was on the take. I denounced her in class for being bamboozled by the capitalist system. I remember how at a loss for words she was and the sense of power I felt.

Everyone thinks their time was unique. And I suppose every kid probably discovers some sense of power over adults at some point. But our generation did go over board with the power trip. Not exactly the cultural revolution in China when the students put dunce caps on the teachers (and much worse), but the same impulses were there.

Maple Park: our Las Vegas in the cornfield

The Judge acquitted Maple Park Police Chief Chester on all gambling and misconduct charges related to a bust last year on some neighborhood taverns.

Bill Page has a good column on Chief Chester's trial in today's Kane County Chronicle. Page wrote Illinois' real gripe isn't the morality of gambling but about Illinois not getting a cut of the Maple Park action.

What makes the state's moral outrage so laughable is the timing; this is the beginning of March Madness, the NCAA basketball tournament. This week, millions of otherwise law-abiding citizens will throw a few bucks into a tournament pool and I will guarantee that several of those pools are circulating in state offices in Springfield.
--Bill Page, Kane County Chronicle, March 16, 2005

AARP called me

AARP used one of those automated calls on me yesterday but the computer voice failed to identify his (it was a male voice) programmer (I think computers should do that... "Hi..Bill Baar --paid by so-and-so-- coded this application"). The machine blasted Bush's Social Security reform and offered to transfer me to my Rep in Congress if I pushed "1". I did. A live Hastert staffer answered and said the automated call was from AARP. Told him I was 100% for personal accounts. Then I followed up with an email to AARP explaining I had used their link to express my support. Got a windy automated email back ignorant of my response.

Are there real people at AARP or just computers?

Looting and WMDs

Christopher Hitchen's essay: This Was Not Looting in Slate on Iraq's transfer of WMDs to third countries. The WMD sites weren't looted. The stuff was evacuated. My guess it was evacuated to Syria.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Pentagon Press release on positive anthrax finding

DoD just released this on positive anthrax finding in Pentagon's mail room. Last time this happened I found it sobering to watch the lowest paid person in our office open the mail wearing a gown and rubber gloves.

My generation is the problem

I listen to mumbo jumbo from friends opposed to Bush's Social Security reforms. They tell me it's all a Bush plot to help the rich and oppress the poor. My response is: it's not the rich, it's us. Our baby-boom generation --most of whom are well off-- who are the real threat to our children' future.

David Brook's writes in today's NYT spreading the blame for failure to reform the system (not sure Bush has failed here yet) and concludes with a final shot,

Oh, yes, there's one more group to be criticized: the American voters. For the past 30 years, Americans have wanted high entitlement spending and low taxes. From the looks of things today, they - or more precisely their children - are going to live with the consequences.


Photo gallaries one and two from Lebanon's The Daily Star of Monday's million strong demonstrations to kick Syria out of Lebanon. Sometimes democracy swells from below but Walid Jumblatt explained why,

"It is strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt explained to David Ignatius of the Washington Post. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world. The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."

--from Krauthammer's column

Cicero, Iraq and Democracy at the barrel of a gun

People tell me the US can't impose democracy. It has to flow from the bottom up by popular protests. I offer them the example of our own Cicero. Try protesting there and someone will threaten to breg your legs, or worse, your kids legs. It takes Federal marshals (with guns) to impose democracy in Cicero. (I could have offered the example of the American south in the 1950s and 1960s too, but Cicero I know better.)

Sad thing is Iraq may have a better functioning democracy before we're ever able to perfect it in Cicero. El Dia published an editorial on the Vrodolyak and Gonzalez attempt to strip the incoming Town President of any meaningful powers to run the city noting,

While our American men and women fight and die to promote democracy everywhere in the world, we have Eddie and Ramiro who are conspiring against democracy in our own town. Only by the mere fact that someone did not like the results of a rightful and just election, this does not imply that one must try to undo the will of the town. --El Dia online

Getting back to imposing democracy by force, David's Medienkritick translated an essay by Claus Christian Malzahn in Der Spiegel entitled "Terminator? Demokrator!". Malzahn points out America brought democracy to Germany by the sword. He also writes on the paradox of War Crimes and Liberation, and looks back to Patton's 7th Army committing War Crimes in Sicily and later liberation Buchenwald.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Social Security reform and beer

Found this link on Real Clear Politics discussing labor's opposition to personal savings accounts while investing pension funds in the market.

Maybe it would make sense to merge all pension funds with Social Security into a single personal account for a worker? What would happen to fund managers if people managed their own funds themselves? Excuse the rhetorical questions but I remember The Teamster's Central State's pension fund here in Chicago. Pesonal funds make more sense to me the more I think about them, and I understand why so many opposed too.

Fox's Beltway Boys said Bush's record of support for pesonal accounts goes back to 1978 and Barnes speculated on what the balances in retiree's hands would be today if personal accounts implemented back then.

Wish I had started setting aside some of what I dumped on beer durng the 1970's in Forest Park into an IRA.

Pol sons and daughters in uniform

Sun Times did a story on politicians' children serving in war time. It's got to be hard for these service members too, because I imagine officers not happy to have a politician's kid in their command.

Please tell 'W' humor doesn't translate

I hate to see these stories about Bush. The problem is not the US doesn't understand foreign cultures and ways, but that foreigners can so greatly misunderstood the US. The Kaiser, Hitler, Tojo, and now UBL all misundestood the US and thought us weak people. Having our president tell jokes doesn't clarify things for thugs overseas. It's completely misunderstood in translation.

Power Line on Joseph Wilson and Valere Palme

Powerline resurrected this post on the Senate Intel Report catching Joseph Wilson in a lie. I can't wait for our Fitzgerald -the mad dog- prosecutor to get to the bottom of this one. It's going to be one weird story.

The sickness of Britian (and soon the American left?)

Melanie Phillips blogs here on the wave of anti semitism overtaking the left in Britain, and here at New York City's Columbia University.

I hit a raw nerve on my Grinnell College Alumni listserv pointing this out and accussed of sweeping generalizations. Maybe, but Phillips ends the blog on Columbia with,

"If it's bad in the US, it's far worse in Britain and Europe -- mainly because, unlike in the US, the contagion has spread to so many of the general public. And it's hard to see it changing."

I don't want to see the contagion spread in the US to the point were it's hard to see it changing.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Washington Post Managing Editor Philip Bennett's interview with China's People's Daily

Drudge posted this interview Bennet gave to the People's Daily. Bennet displays a startling lack of confidence in America, the west, and our values. Maybe Bennet just talked like this because he's buttering up the Chinese leadership for exclusive interviews, the way CNN buttered up Saddam. (Chicagoans butter up often and we can spot the spreader coming.)

Somehow though I think Bennet just doesn't understand America, and why my Dad and the Canadian blogger I linked below served. America, Brits, the Canadians are exceptional exactly because we realize how morally frail people are. We build a government and institutions designed to balance the greed and lust for power we know people subject too. It's the recogniton of how low we all can go that is what makes us exceptional. It's our understanding tha absoulte power corrupts that makes us the world's best hope for leadership.

I wonder what JFK would have though of an interview like this. The Chinese should know better. I don't think they've forgotten Bataan.

Bataan, Maywood, and the Illinois National Guard

Grow up next to Maywood, Illinois with a Dad who served in WWII and you know about Bataan and the Illinois National Guard units who served there and were captured by the Japanese.

General Wainwright surrendered the American forces at Bataan and General Percival surrendered the British at Singapore. My Dad told me about both when I was a kid.

Dad served with the Army Air Corps in the pacific. The picture above is Dad with a friend in front of the "Hole in the Wall" bar in Manila in October 1945. The messages below are ones my Dad kept from Wainwright after Wainwright's liberation from the Japanese. There are two and they read:

To: Gen D. MacArthur, My party as formerly reported to you together with Percival and orderly arriving Nichols 1730. Signed Wainright.

And the other,

To: Maj Gen I.P. Swift, Dear Palmer....... Am now approaching Manila by Air ETA 1730/Item I hope I can see you and other of my gallant comrades of the 1st Cav Div Tonight. Signed Wainright.

The pictures from the Canadian Vets inspired me to dig these documents out of my files.

It's history my Dad wouldn't want forgotten.

Canadian War ll Vets

Great blog by Canadian War ll Vets. Here is a picture of the Dutch thanking the Canadians for liberation. There are plenty more. Thank you to the Canadian Vets for posting. Thank you for your service.

Bankruptcy Footnote

I worked across from the Federal Building in the Loop and would chat with the guards in the lobby at lunchtime. They told me most of the security problems happened in the bankruptcy courts. That's where there was the greatest risk of violence. Creditors on the edge themselves, getting real angry when the Court let a debtor walk away.


Today's Trib ran an editorial supporting the new bankruptcy reform bill. It's one of the few things I've read on the bill with some numbers about what the bill will do.

My thoughts on this one totally shaped by anecdotal comments from people. One set of thoughts from trades people and merchants telling me how they've been stiffed by bankruptcy filers.

The other set from a person working at a credit card call-center telling me horror stories of people racking up debt to the limit on their cards before heading into bankruptcy, and then taunting the call center staff about ducking their obligation.

Hardly scientific stuff I know.

But I have a hard time believing the big banks and credit card outfits let themselves get stuck holding the bag here. They're not the bad guys the opponents to reform would have us believe because they shrug their shoulders and pass the cost on to us. Hopefully comptetive lending markets mean they'll pass the savings from reducing bad debts too.

Here are some quotes from the Trib's editorial. These reforms aren't being onerous on debtors. People completely broke through illness aren't going to be crushed here.

The bill is a measured and reasonable response to a troubling rise in bankruptcy filings. It says, in essence, that people who earn more than the median income in their state can still file for bankruptcy, but they may be required to repay a good portion of their debts.

In Illinois, that would apply to people with annual incomes above $45,153.

About two of every three people who file for personal bankruptcy opt for a Chapter 7 filing, which allows them to erase past debts. Under the legislation, those with incomes above the state median could no longer automatically be discharged from their debts through Chapter 7. If a bankruptcy judge determines they are capable of paying back at least $6,000 over five years--$100 a month--they could be forced to file under Chapter 13 and adhere to a repayment schedule.

Sam Galluci for Campton Township Highway Commissioner

Sam Galluci is running for Campton Township Highway Commissioner. He stopped by the house yesterday to ask for our votes. My schnauzer raised a racket while Galluci introduced himself but Galluci showed his campaign savvy by not missing a beat of his speil while reaching into his pocket for a dog-bone treat to please the pooch. That's a guy who thinks ahead about running for office.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The CTA Tattler

West Side agent will love CTA Tattler . A blog with things "Seen and heard on the Chicago Transit Authority".

West Side worked the Lake Street line and I rode the Congress line to work for years. We've never learned the color coding of the system and are clueless where the green, or brown, or red lines go.

St Pat's Day

I always used to watch the parade before the city ruined State Street and destroyed the only real street to have a St Pat's day parade. I've never made it down to Beverly for the Southsider's parade but here's what the Chicagoist wrote. Happy St Pat's day.

Little blog on the prairie: Welcome, Zornists

Little blog on the prairie notes journalism's embrace of blogging and links an interesting interview with three West Suburban bloggers. Guess I'm a Zornist.

Permanent Revolution

A link to China Views on DoD's quadrennial Defense Review sent to the Rumsfeld fan group. China View says,

"His approach [Rumsfeld's] will likely trigger major shifts in the weapons systems that the Pentagon buy, and even more fundamental changes in the training and deployment of US troops throughout the world, the report quoted defense officials involved in crafting the document or in the review as saying. "

" 'The question we are asking is : How do you prevent problems from becoming crises and crises from becoming all-out conflicts?' one senior defense official involved in writing the guidance told The Wall Street Journal. "

"The document is driven by the belief that the United States is engaged in a continuous global struggle that extends far beyond specific battlegrounds, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and the vision is for a military that is far more proactive, focused on changing the world instead of just responding to conflicts and assuming greater prominence in countries in which the United States isn't at war, the report said."

Major shifts in DoD acquisitions create ugly and short-sighted critics. Too much at stake when strategic revolution upsets the gravy train.

Rumsfeld said the war will go on for a generation. Asked when we'll know if we've won, he said it will be hard to know. We've never waged a war like this. Figuring out how to hold our values and institutions the key. Not letting the Defense industry lobbyists shape the argument a first and critical step. So check how many Navy Yards and installations are in Trent Lott's Louisiana when Lott calls for Rumsfeld's resignation.

Roeser on Richard Irvins' campaign for Mayor of Aurora

Tom Roeser writes in today's Sun Times asking why big name Republicans aren't lining up to support African American Republican Richard Irvins run for Mayor of Aurora. Roeser writes Irvin is "...a brilliant young candidate, 35 years old, who rose from the public housing projects; a Gulf War veteran (Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm) who worked his way through law school, becoming a brilliant yet compassionate lawyer. As a prosecutor he was tough on crime; as a private lawyer he did what some politically sensitive law-and-order advocates shy away from: defended accused lawbreakers who deserve representation."

Here's Irvin's website. Note the spot to contribute.

An Advertiser's Dream

Andrew Sullivan blogs today about recent survey of bloggers. I noticed the youthfulness. It made me feel awfully mature.

Politics of Resentment

Sending emails back and forth with my liberal friends at Grinnell about what's happened to the left in America and the world. A key turning point for me as I look back over thirty years was the left's rejection of Israel in 1967 and signing on to support Arafat and the PLO as some kind of National Liberation movement. Things went further south with the support of the UN resolution in 1975 declaring Israel racist.

Looking back on the American left's history with google searches, I stumbled across this recent essay by Andrew Sullivan. He writes of the anti-semitism threatening to hijack the left and attributes it to the left's politics of resentment. That resentment pushed me to vote for George Bush and I don't think I could ever vote for a Democrat again until they share Bush's commitment to democracy as a core value. I think 1967 and the rejection of the only democracy in the middle east a marker of when the muddled thinking started.

Sullivan writes here and I've pasted some key paragraphs below answering the root cause of the anti semitism currently found on the left:

The answer, I think, lies in the nature of part of today's left. It is fueled above all by resentment - resentment of the West's success, resentment of the freedom to trade, resentment of any person or country, like Israel or Britain or the U.S., that has enriched itself by means of freedom and hard work. Just look at Israel's amazing achievements in comparison with its neighbors: its vibrant civil society, its economic growth, its technological skill, its agricultural miracle. When you think about all Israel has achieved, it is no surprise that the resentful left despises it. So, for obvious reasons, do Israel's neighbors. If they had wanted, the Arab states could have made peace with Israel decades ago, and enriched themselves through trade and interaction. Instead, rather than emulate the Jewish state, they spent decade after decade trying to destroy it. When they didn't succeed, rather than seek reasons for their own backwardness and failure, rather than engage in the difficult task of reform and renewal, the Arab dictators and their pliant propaganda machines simply resorted to the easy distractions of envy, hatred and obsession. Al Qaeda is the most dangerous and nihilist manifestation of this response. Hezbollah is a close second. But milder versions are everywhere. And what do people who most want to avoid examining their own failures do? They look for scapegoats. And the Jews are the perennial scapegoat. Now that the Jewish people actually have a country to themselves, the anger and hatred only intensifies.

This attitude isn't restricted to the Middle East. In the West, parts of the left, having capitulated to moral relativism and bouts of Western self-hatred, have seized on Israel as another emblem of what they hate. They're happy to have Saddam get re-elected with 100 percent of a terrified vote, happy to see him develop nerve gas and nuclear weapons to use against his own population and others. They're happy to watch Syria's rulers engage in regular massacres; or the Saudis subject women to inhuman subjugation. This they barely mention. After all, these countries form part of the "oppressed" developing world. But Israel's occasional crimes in self-defense? They march in the streets. Telling, isn't it?
--Andrew Sullivan, The Wages of Hate Anti-semitism and the war

Friday, March 11, 2005

What's it take to build a bridge?

Looks like $88 million. That's how much the Daily Hearld writes was cut from the transportation spending package approved Thursday by the House of Representatives for the Stearns Road bridge over the Fox River.

Try getting accross St Charles at Rush hour. We need some more bridges. Seems having our Rep as Speaker would count for something in Washington but Kane County board Chairman Karen McConnaughay tells us it's a leap of faith (and the fox is a wide river in St Charles),

Back in Kane County, county board Chairman Karen McConnaughay, a St. Charles Republican, said she's going to have to put her faith in Hastert and his clout.

"I remain confident the speaker understands the importance and significance to us of road projects such as the Stearns Road corridor," she said.

Maybe I should pick up a set of waders from the Sycamore Farm & Fleet instead.

Michael Jackson and Jay Leno

Watched Leno's jokes last night and he made me queasy. I avoid the Michael Jackson news and know few of the "facts" on the case. I want to leave it the jury. Jackson may very well be the target of extortionists. He'd be an easy target. The comedians should let up.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Daily Herald on Changing Face of Suburban Elections

From today's Herald on increasing number of minority candidates seeking local office in the collar counties.

Just got back from three days in Durham NC. Four hour delay getting out of Durham. Write more on this later.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

In Iraq for 365: So nobody else has to

A military blogger writes of his experience speaking to folks back home about his service in Iraq.

Hello From the land of the Pharaohs Egypt

Big Pharaoh sees the Egyptian Press use the Word TERRORIST for the first time to describe a terror attack in Iraq.

AFL-CIO convention in Las Vegas

Found this discussion on The Daily Kos about main-stream-media's failure to cover much on the AFL-CIO's convention in Las Vegas. Trapper John writes,

" of the less salient consequences of the decline in union density has been a concomitant decline in the number of journalists assigned either exclusively or primarily to the labor beat. But organized labor is a highly specialized field, with an arcane jargon and an ever-present history that influences nearly all decision-making."

Sound's to me John's saying most journalists don't understand unions because they've never belonged to one, or know anyone who's belonged to one; or maybe have never worked an industrial job.

I belonged to the United Steel Workes of America in Chicago in the 1970's when "Oil Can" Ed Sadlowski shook up the union.

Page's column on Bush's appeal for African-American vote

Page writes today about Bush's appeal for support to African-American voters and quotes Donnal Brazile: "Don't get caught nappin' while your competition is standing at your supporters' doors--tappin'!"

See the post below, Democrats helping SEIU but napping when it comes to those poorly served by the health care system. What's good for SEIU isn't necessarily good for the West Side. Sun Times should do a map on where Advocate's work force lives compared to the population served by Bethany hospital. I'd like to see that.

SEIU and Advocate Health Care

Service Employees International Union launches a drive to organize Advocate Helathcare workers and writes a report accusing Advocate of "racial redlining". Jesse Jackson supports SEIU's drive with a public forum, and the Sun Times reports it as Officials say Advocate spends less on minority-area hospitals .

If SEIU organizes all the Advocate workers and the choice becomes investment in the city versus benefits to labor, will SEIU (and Rev Jackson) be as concerned with upgrades to Bethany, Trinity, Illinois Masonic and South Suburban hospitals?

Chicago is Mike Royko's "where's mine?" city and the Sun Times really ought explain everyone is out for themselves in this fight. That's a good newspaper's job. Might make overcoming obstacles to access easier if the Sun Times got into the facts.