Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Island, a gem on Chicago's West Side

I stumbled accross this drafting a comment I never posted.

An African American family moved into this neigborhood in the late 50s and the community stoned the house. Cicero cops crossed over Roosevelt Road with their squads filled with bricks for people to throw.

I got my 8th grade graduation jacket at Van Dyke's store there. I've worked in the factories on the east side of the neigborhood; as did my step brothers and sisters (Victor Gasket, Pheoll Screw, Harrington & King, Hotpot....). I drank in the bars on Roosevelt Road. My wife baptized at St Francis of Rome accross Roosevelt Road in Cicero. I know the area well, and I know the ugly chapters.

Anyways, if you know the West Side's sad stories too, just watch this young man describing the neigborhood today and you know there is plenty of hope that things can change for the better.

xp Illinoize

McCain is a GO!

Hickey channeling McCain who is not a bad candidate to channel at all.

Here's McCain's blog.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Before there were bloggers in Chicago, there was Mike Lavelle

Blue Collar Pundit from Time, Dec 2, 1972,
LaVelle is amused by readers who ask skeptically whether he writes his own material: "I tell them, 'No, I've got a trained mother.' " He is also mildly disconcerted by the stir his columns have caused: "So here I am, the average man expressing himself in the media, and people look at it as unusual. It says something about the isolation of the media, I think."

Lately he has considered abandoning his job as a pipe bender to write full time, and he jokingly wonders whether his having dropped out of high school helped or hurt him. "Do you realize the possibilities," he asks puckishly, "if someone, anyone, had just approached me ten years ago and given me just one more year of schooling? I might have gone to college—and ended up writing greetings for Hallmark cards."
Also read the comments from my earlier post.

What value Hastert?

My latest Oberweis mailer. There is also a new TV ad featuring Hastert but it's not available yet on Oberweis's site.

I'm going to guess most if not the majority of GOP primary voters on the eastern side of the 14th haven't lived here long enough to have attachments to Hastert.

I think they may just see an endorsement from a guy who ended a career in Congress with a bad fumble.

Worse, they may just see the former earmark King as the predessor to todays earmark Queen.

So with Bush picking constitutional fights like this with Congress,
His [Bush] sharp message on earmarks, though, stirred consternation on Capitol Hill and excitement among fiscal conservatives.

He called Congress irresponsible for lumping 11 spending bills into a single, 1,400-page measure nearly three months into the fiscal year.

"Another thing that's not responsible is the number of earmarks that Congress included," he said. Congress "made some progress" curbing pet projects, he said, but not enough.

Bush said he asked Jim Nussle, director of the Office of Management and Budget, to present him with possible actions to take, although he would not elaborate.
Hastert's endorsement may just seem more of the same from less than the best from Congress .

The other wild card here are the Paulistas. They'll vote.

If the GOP Prez primary is competitive enough to generate interest and boost the turnout, then I'm guessing all these new GOP voters will be turned off by Hastert.

I thought Oberweis would benefit from the Paul voters --Oberweis comes off angry and so are they-- but this endorsement's killed that.

Paulistas won't have a clue who Lauzen is, but they'll know Hastert, not like him, and vote for anyone but Oberweis if they get that far down the ticket.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

RIP Benazir Bhutto: ...everything they fear the most - moderation, democracy, equality for women, information, and technology.

From Journeying to democracy by Benazir Bhutto,
As I board the plane to Pakistan, I am fully aware that the supporters of the Taliban and Al Qaeda have publicly threatened my assassination.

Baitullah Mehsud, a Taliban commander, has said that his terrorists will "welcome" me on my return. Everyone understands the meaning of these comments. And I fully understand the men behind Al Qaeda. They have tried to assassinate me twice before. The Pakistan Peoples Party and I represent everything they fear the most - moderation, democracy, equality for women, information, and technology. We represent the future of a modern Pakistan, a future that has no place in it for ignorance, intolerance, and terrorism.

The forces of moderation and democracy must, and will, prevail against extremism and dictatorship. I will not be intimidated. I will step out on the tarmac in Karachi not to complete a journey, but to begin one. Despite threats of death, I will not acquiesce to tyranny, but rather lead the fight against it.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Beckel: MoveOn Freed Lieberman to Endorse McCain

HT Brian Faughnan at who wrote,

It's hard to imagine that Joe Lieberman would have endorsed a Republican for president if he remained a Democrat in good standing in the U.S. Senate. Lieberman points out that one reason he endorsed McCain rather than a Democrat is that no Democrat asked for his endorsement. If Lieberman had been re-elected to the Senate as the Democratic nominee (rather than as an Independent), one of his colleagues might have sought his endorsement.

If McCain finishes strong in New Hampshire, he might have to send a thank you card to MoveOn.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bill Foster video

Check over at Illinoize for my thoughts on this odd man.

Tell Mark Pera it's almost Christimas 2007; not Fall 2007

From Pera's Website. Where ever one stands on Iraq, it seems one should care enough to update the stand. Fall's past, what now Mr Pera?

Maybe Pera's hoping voters skip it. He certainly seems to have avoided an update.
Mark Pera believes the U.S. pullout must start this fall

Mark believes that it is past time that we brought our soldiers home.

By any measure or standard, the strategy for war in Iraq has been a failure.

Experts ranging from sitting and retired generals to diplomats and scholars acknowledge that there is no purely military solution to the conflict, and that the battle will only be won with political solutions.

Mark believes that Congress should mandate a pull-out of our troops beginning in the Fall of 2007 and should also place a cap on funding to accomplish that goal.
Also check my post at Illinoize.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Lucien Sève « Le communisme est mort, vive le communisme ! »

French Marxist Lucien Sève on the crisis of the French communist party,
With the death of what was so improperly called communism, history has entered a new phase. In view of the limitless freedom that capital enjoys today, we are in for boundless catastrophes. While on the left there still is no effective political alternative, not even a mental set of opposable political references. All our woes stem from this void. The task of those who follow in the wake of Marx today is therefore clear: for years we have been talking of inventing a communism for the 21st century. Now, at long last, the time has come to do it. We have had enough talk on the subject.
...not even a mental set of opposable political references... no kidding, the left worldwide is in the void.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

First Sergeant Brobyn. "We are here to make ourselves superfluous."

An Iraq Town Shrugs Off Terror by Ulrike Putz in Der Spiegel.

Photo Gallery here.

So what changed? Why, suddenly, do 79 men apply to join the police in a single day? Rawah has, relatively speaking, become a peaceful place once again. The last attack -- an insurgent threw a hand grenade over the wall of a barracks where some 60 Marines were stationed -- took place over a month ago. And life on the streets seems to be returning to normal. During the day there are boys running around on the streets; in the café of the little market hall, young men play pool. Mothers take their daughters shopping. Even at night there are people outside on the streets. One night recently, a group stood outside of a well-lit hair salon warming their hands over a little fire. And just talked.

"At some point, people simply had enough," Subhi says. The men in the town wanted a future for their families and decided the path to that future involved working with, rather than against, the Americans. Whereas before, people had been paralyzed with fear, they began informing US troops about insurgents' activities. Others would speak up if they saw suspicious-looking characters on the streets of Rawah.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jonathan Meyer in Roll Call on Democrats and the War: Having used the Iraq War to win over millions of Americans....

HT Dems Move to Acceptance on Iraq

Heck of a way to talk of a War so many have died in regardless of how you feel about the decision to invade or stay. Democrats should never be allowed to skip talking about either decision in favor of the economy instead.

Meyers in Roll Call as quoted at WWS,
Over the past couple of years, Democrats have made huge political gains by criticizing President Bush for both his decision to invade Iraq and his conduct of the occupation. These critiques are probably the single greatest factor in Democrats retaking the House and the Senate in 2006 and sending Bush’s approval ratings spiraling to historic lows.

But that critique has gone about as far as it can go. A significant majority of voters today agree with Democrats that the decision to invade Iraq was wrong, and that the conduct of the occupation and attempts to rebuild the country have been failures. A large percentage of Americans believe the Bush administration misled the country on Iraq in the first place. Those opinions are solidly held and highly unlikely to change. That debate is over...

This presents a unique opportunity for Democrats. Having used the Iraq War to win over millions of Americans who were previously disposed to support the other side, they can now build on that momentum by turning to other issues to seal the deal with voters who remain on the fence.

To borrow a phrase, it’s the economy, stupid...

Making these arguments will prove tremendously advantageous to Democrats for many reasons, but chief among them are two: First, without losing the gains they’ve made through criticism of the Iraq War, they will be able to expand their base by recapturing the economic middle class and building a broader, more stable constituency based on dealing with the future, not revisiting the past. Second, having already created an image of themselves as the more levelheaded purveyors of foreign policy, they can now show themselves to be the more responsible, trustworthy grown-ups on pocketbook issues, undoing the damage inflicted on them by decades of “tax and spend” name-calling.

Torture: What did Pelosi and her colleagues know - and when did they know it?

Enemy combatants captured fighting outside the rules of war i.e. Geneva Conventions, should, in my opinion, be coerced to give up information beyond the Geneva's provision for name, rank, and serial number.

Whether water boarding is allowable way to coerce, I don't know. McCain says no. He took a stand. The administration struggled to draw the lines.

But Democrats have demagogued it, and for sure leaders were briefed long ago. Here's today's Boston Herald Editorial: Who knew what on Capitol Hill?
The Washington Post reported Sunday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top congressional leaders were briefed in September 2002 on CIA interrogations designed to squeeze information from suspected terrorists. Among the techniques described, according to the Post, was waterboarding.

“In fairness, the environment was different then because we were closer to Sept. 11 and people were still in a panic,” one official present during the briefings told the Post. “But there was no objecting, no hand-wringing. The attitude was, ‘We don’t care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.’ ”

And yet, once word of the harsh techniques became public, Pelosi, among others, began employing it as a blunt political instrument - proclaiming the practice of waterboarding as an illegal form of torture and condemning the Bush administration for allowing it.
Also, Hitchen's today on Abolish the CIA. Destruction of the water boarding tapes the last straw.
And now we have further confirmation of the astonishing culture of lawlessness and insubordination that continues to prevail at the highest levels in Langley. At a time when Congress and the courts are conducting important hearings on the critical question of extreme interrogation, and at a time when accusations of outright torture are helping to besmirch and discredit the United States all around the world, a senior official of the CIA takes the unilateral decision to destroy the crucial evidence. This deserves to be described as what it is: mutiny and treason. Despite a string of exposures going back all the way to the Church Commission, the CIA cannot rid itself of the impression that it has the right to subvert the democratic process both abroad and at home. Its criminality and arrogance could perhaps have been partially excused if it had ever got anything right, but, from predicting the indefinite survival of the Soviet Union to denying that Saddam Hussein was going to invade Kuwait, our spymasters have a Clouseau-like record, one that they have earned yet again with their exculpation of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. It was after the grotesque estimate of continued Soviet health and prosperity that the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan argued that the CIA should be abolished. It is high time for his proposal to be revived. The system is worse than useless—it's a positive menace. We need to shut the whole thing down and start again.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Boston Herald's Editorial on TNR and Beauchamp

The Boston Herald's editorial on TNR's recant of Beauchamp's stories from Iraq.
Whatever the length, this piece would have served readers better had it employed the classic five-W formulation of the straightforward beginning of a news article: Who (we the editors), What (denounce some things we’ve published), When (in the past year), Where (from Iraq) and Why (because they don’t stand up under investigation).
I think it's called keep it simple.

Throwing Laesch under the bus

A comment by Carl Nyberg over at Prairie State Blue on Planned Parenthood's endorsement of Foster in the primary.
A significant number of key people have decided they can't back Laesch. In fact, some of them have decided they will oppose Laesch no matter what.

I feel like these judgments have been rendered unfairly in most cases.

I also think that the attacks on Laesch are unfair enough that it will create a real problem for Foster.

Foster probably should do something to de-escalate the nastiness, especially the unfair attacks on Laesch.

If Laesch is denied the nomination by b/c people perceived that key players won't work with Laesch, Laesch's supporters have a certain incentive to jam Foster on that very point.
Laesch not my kind of Democrat. He's the now pervasive kind of Democrat who's taken over, and made it impossible for Lieberman style Liberals to find a home there.

But Laesch has been a tireless campaigner for Progressivism in Il-14 --as Progressivisms now become-- and it seems he deserves a little better.

He's your party Democrats, with a program more consistent with where the party's been the past six years, than the candidate those key people want to field in Il-6.

Maybe the Lieberman Dem's don't belong in the party, and Lieberman Liberals should leave it to the Laeschites, but those muddling key people, who's principles sway with the winds of polls, seem the least appealing of all. I hope they do, as Carl wrote, jam Foster on that point.

xp Illinoize

Thomas K. McCraw: Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction

A new book I'm sure Prof Voertman would have had me read. A review of it here.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Dick Durbin on Three Hots and a Cot

From a very long Trib piece yesterday on Senator Durbin. Including this on Mukasey and torture.
The more Durbin pressed Mukasey, the more frank he became, until at one point he noted that the U.S. taxpayers pay for the Koran to be delivered to detainees at Guantanamo in a plastic Baggie "so that it hasn't been touched by infidels."

Detainees receive "a system of health care that is better than what a lot of Americans get," when what they're really entitled to is three hot meals a day and a place to sleep--or, as Mukasey put it in the moment, "three hots and a cot."

At this, Durbin stopped cold, seemingly stunned into a few milliseconds of silence. He looked blankly at his staff, as if to ask if they'd heard the same thing. When he turned back to Mukasey, he drew a breath and measured his words carefully.

"I've been there. I hope you get a chance to visit," he said slowly. "For those who are being held on suspicion with no charges . . . it seems so fundamentally inconsistent with who we are."

After the judge left, Durbin still seemed to be trying to make sense of the conversation.

"His views of the law are troubling in this respect," he said, shaking his head. "I didn't expect to hear this from him. I thought I would hear something more moderate, based on the fact that he was a so-called consensus candidate."

He wondered, he said, if the White House aide traveling with Mukasey that day might urge the nominee to tone down his comments.

"I keep thinking to myself, 'The White House person is going to catch him in the hall and say, 'Next time, here's the answer,' " Durbin said.
A combatant found fighting outside the rules of war e.g. as terrorists without uniform, isn't entitled to much. McCain, who was a POW, has been pretty clear about what can and can't be down. McCain came out hard against waterboarding.

I wonder if a detainess are to be treated as POWs can we ask of them only name, rank, and seriel number? And then hold them for the duration? Can we coerce anything else from them? If yes, with what forms of coercion?

Muckasey's blunt. McCain's blunt. Durbin's well... a little further on...
To guide him, Durbin acknowledges that he sometimes consults public opinion polls, trying to figure out how far he can go with his agenda.

"I read them as a politician," he says. "It's like reading the scores in a sports page. But there comes a time when you have to take a position that might not be popular.

"There aren't many of us who continued to raise this torture issue," he says. "It's not one that members like to talk about. It could hurt you politically."
I thought McCain wrong on waterboarding but I respect his viewpoint. With Durbin it always seems a little fuzzy to me. Should we treat detainess as criminals and try them? They seem more like POWs and, like McCain did, they should sit it the war for the duration. With a little more humaness then McCain got, but sit it out none-the-less.

If Durbin's taking a stand here, and I'd agree it could be unpopular because I doubt many Americans think detainess desrve much more than three hots and a cot, I sure wish he'd be a little more specific on the alternatives.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

John McCain: The Great Man in the Race

Deb Saunders writes The Great Man in the Race. Hickey may be right.

Lenin and the mystagogues: Lesley Chamberlain's The Philosophy Steamer: Lenin and the Exile of the Intelligentsia

Finished Lesley Chamberlain's book The Philosophy Steamer: Lenin and the Exile of the Intelligentsia reviewed here by Frances Stonor Saunders and by Bryan Appleyard over at Orthodoxy Today. Appleyard writes,
In September 1922, in St Petersburg, Lenin's political police loaded 25 families onto the German ship Haken. Six weeks later, about the same number were loaded onto another German ship, the Preussen. The ships steamed out into the Gulf of Finland and the families waved goodbye to Mother Russia.
and finds the real heart of the this story,
On board those ships was a peculiarly Russian mix of philosophers, critics, historians, mystics and theologians. They were divided by many things, but they were united by three big things. First, they had all been identified as threats to Leninism; second, they were famous, and executing them would have alienated foreign supporters; third, they had all seen the malignancy that lay behind the hyper-rationalism of the Bolshevik revolution. They had seen, in other words, the fatal weakness in the Enlightenment Project and were seeking an alternative. Chamberlain calls them "the shipped-out mystagogues".

The book's true subject, therefore, is the confrontation between reason and faith. But the banality of that formulation simply does not do justice to the depth and passion that Chamberlain brings to her story, nor, indeed, to the complexities of what we mean by faith. The reason this is such a good book is that the author feels the conflict within herself. She sees herself as a rational secularist and humanist, but, equally, she sees how catastrophically those causes have failed in the past. As a result, she understands the evil of Lenin but also grasps his deep and entirely logical attraction for western intellectuals; on the other side, she sees the vagueness, eccentricity and, frequently, just plain madness of her mystagogues, but also their honesty, heroism and high decency. In almost every sentence, one feels the pressure to codify this conflict into a coherent statement, and the impossibility of the task.
Much of the task and scholarship according to Chamberlain is happening on the web. Here's a nice site on Nikolai Berdyaev and his essays translated into English.

It is a tough book to read in the sense I felt this need to jumb to the net every few pages and google the names from the list of passengers to follow up later with their writings.

Saunder's review quotes Lenin in his scatological mode Marxists prone too,
These metaphysical antiquities [the philosopher exiles -Baar] had no place in Lenin's world, which was anti-metaphysical, rationalist, atheist. As Chamberlain writes, under Lenin reason "took a perverse, political form . . . which became the foundation of the totalitarian system. It led to a militant and incriminating ban on all expressions of faith and an attempt to destroy individual conscience and human inwardness." Lenin spoke of religion as getting off on the dead; he referred to those he was evicting as "the shit". Trotsky, eager assistant in the deportations, described one of the victims as "a philosophical, aesthetic, literary, religious sponger, that is, he's the dregs, trash."

Aafaq: Saudi Activists Organizing Sit-in in Front of Court In Solidarity with the "Girl of Qatif"

It will take some courage to participate in this.

Franklin Foer's Fog

It takes him 13 pages before he can see fit through the fog to tell us,
When I last spoke with Beauchamp in early November, he continued to stand by his stories. Unfortunately, the standards of this magazine require more than that. And, in light of the evidence available to us, after months of intensive re-reporting, we cannot be confident that the events in his pieces occurred in exactly the manner that he described them. Without that essential confidence, we cannot stand by these stories.