Thursday, September 30, 2004

Ah, the debate

As you may have guessed, I was glued to the television most of the night watching the debate, and I've learned that when I see David Brooks babbling, I know it's time to turn off the TV, because the senseless spin can be quite distracting from my own thoughts. Just for a refresher, I hopped on CSPAN's site last night and watched the first debate in 2000. That debate was clearly won by George Bush, who had low expectations of him going into the debate. George won it because Al Gore kept talking about the nation's problems and Bush stood across from him every time and said very clearly that 'they've had 8 years to fix it.' So whenever Gore talked about some old widow in West Virginia who can't pay for her medicine or whatever, and some long explanation of what needs to be done, the response was always there that it Gore could have done something and didn't. But that strategy really made Bush's ideas the centerpiece of the first debate in 2000. In a comparison of the convention speeches, Bush's was hands down better than Kerry's. And I think the polls reflected that. Kerry was very long-winded, dry. Bush gave short, punchy ideas, and he stood back and basically said don't hand your country over to a flip-flopper. That theme has been carried forth in the past few weeks -- with great success. Kerry, in order to win, had to demonstrate that he is not a flip-flopper. Tonight, basically, Bush stood before us as the known quantity: We all know that Bush is decisive, but Kerry's leadership qualities are still largely a question. But by debating on Kerry's leadership qualities and by making them a central issue of his campaign, Bush fell into his own trap -- the same trap he used to ensnare Al Gore in 2000. What was most important about tonight was that the picture of Kerry didn't match the picture Bush has been painting. Kerry was very even, steady, both visibly and logically. He explained clearly his view on Iraq and succeeded in defining Bush as the guy who's not getting the job done. This debate was all about Bush's poor planning and execution of the war and how Korea and Iran have become a nuclear threat under Bush's watch. And Bush was shoddy on defense. He tried many times to bring it back to the flip-flop argument, but it never stuck. That image just didn't work for the calm, well spoken, clear-headed Kerry. And actually, Bush's weight shifting, long pauses where he searched for words and endless blinking made him look the part of a flip flopper -- or maybe someone who was more interested in simply saying the right thing rather than what he believed. Meanwhile, Bush let many of Kerry's accusations go unanswered. Whether or not anyone remembers exactly what was said, I think the impression that Kerry gave was strong and decisive: There is much that needs to be done in Iraq and in the world to stop our enemies. Bush gave a vague assessment of what's going on the war, and didn't give the impression that what he will do, which is as Kerry said, "more of the same." Kerry kept his responses short and precise. He didn't backtrack out of ideas, as he tends to do. He didn't drop a million clauses before he got to the point of his sentence. He was sharp, clear, consistent. In other words, he didn't fit the picture of the flip-flopper that Bush has painted. Bush was just up there flailing, trying to dodge bullets. While Bush said he was a decisive leader, Kerry acted like a decisive leader. Therefore, Kerry won the debate.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Heads up, Joyce Morrison

Joyce, here's an suggestion for your next column: Bear ransacks kitchen, steals chocolate If you're thinking what I'm thinking, that 4 pound (2kg) box of chocolate could have just as easily been a small child! And the house could have just as easily been a schoolyard! And the bear could have just as easily been a mountain lion or Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse! And because the man's property rights were violated by a wild, homosexual, evil gangbanger environmentalist bear, it is of the utmost importance to remove the forest of lumber that it's been hoarding for itself -- leaving it nowhere to hide so that ranchers and farmers and other property owners can shoot it and others like it. And once the land is cleared and the terrorist bear threat is removed, we should do what it takes to make sure bicyclists don't turn it into a bike path, which would lead them into town in their tight pants so they can act rude to local merchants. And that the run-off created wouldn't create a wetland that might fall under wetlands lockdown on another farm or ranch. And we need to protect the sky above it from evil magnetic fields beamed by environmentalists from Alaska to create bad weather, which will cause farmers and ranchers to leave their homes, and clear the land for a Heritage Corridor. Get writing, quickly! Before the signs for the Heritage Corridor are approved by the Washington bureaucrats!

Keyes addresses students on generic "gay family member"

Keyes responds, indirectly, to the whole daughter/lesbian thing in a candidate forum with high school students (from CBS-2 News):
    Other students asked Keyes about his stand on gay marriage. During the Republican National Convention in August, the two-time presidential candidate and former talk show host called homosexuality "selfish hedonism" and said that applied to Vice President Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter. Asked Wednesday if he would support a family member who was gay and wanted to get married, Keyes responded: "I couldn't." "You're asking me a personal question, right, in terms of what I'd say to a family member. And that has to be governed by my personal conscience, and my personal conscience is shaped by my faith, and my faith is very clear: That homosexual relationships are sinful and wrong, and I will not not facilitate my children, whom I love, in going down a path that, according to my faith, leads to a kind of death that's worse than physical death," Keyes said. "You don't love somebody if you become the facilitator of the destruction of their spiritual and moral life," he said.
The forum also quizzed Obama separately. It will air on Sunday on WTTW-11 at 6 p.m.

D.C. gets a baseball team

So the Montreal Expos are moving to Washington D.C. next year. I have to say I'm somewhat disappointed by the move. It's one more pro franchise clustered on the East Coast. Would have been cool if they moved the team to Mexico -- can you imagine how popular that team would be in Mexico? It would literally be a national symbol. Oh well, better luck with the next expansion.

As the Crane flies

It turns out that Phil Crane really is out of touch with his district -- because he's never there! The Chicago Tribune reports on a study done by Northwestern U students, who determined that Crane took $109,000 in lobbyist-funded trips to places like Rome, Scotland and Antigua. That's $109,000 in travel expenses alone, folks.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Keyes blog makes a splash

The Maya Keyes blog is all over the place now. Check out the DailyKos post. It would be interesting to know what conservative extremists think about this, but Illinois Leader censored related discussion topics out of their message board. At any rate, I have to admire Maya. She seems like a really great person from her blog -- which if you haven't read it already, you may never see (someone has taken it down). And it's a shame...knowing this makes Mr. Keyes seem more like a real person. But the campaign will have none of that! Anyway, enough on this topic for now. Updated: also picked up the story.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Keyes daughter in the blogosphere?

Check this out. In what is apparently Alan Keyes' daughter's blog, there's an account of someone coming up to her at a campaign event, noticing her rainbow bracelet. The person asked her on the sly if she's "family" and she responded yes. Then another gay person came up to her and offered his support for her being in a conservative family and still wearing a rainbow bracelet. So sounds like the apple falls far from the tree on that issue. Just how far? You tell me. Sez the blog:
    "...My aunt said something about him being the "voice of America" re: gay rights and he has been one of gay marriage's most outspoken critics, campaigning round-the-clock to make sure that people like yours truly will never be able to enjoy the same benefits he already has. Sometimes I cannot believe I am related to this man. Haha though I'm sure he feels the same way about me."
    "my parents and I were seriously not getting along and so we needed some time off from each other; the idea was that after a year of being a wonderful good helping-the-poor type person they would once again like me and therefore be willing to pay for my college I'm not so sure that part of it will work; despite the fact that I'm all about working for global justice THEY don't care about that, THEY only care that I am an evil dyke. And even if I am a charitable dyke I am still a dyke who KISSES GIRLS and especially with the gay marriage thing going on now that's at the front of their minds. "
Wow, I never read about this on or anywhere else. Curious that Keyes would attack Dick Cheney's daughter. The blog also says she likes Nader except that he's pro-abortion. Still she may vote for him anyway because he has "a snowball's chance in hell of ever getting elected so it won't matter." All around interesting read.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Kerry ought to milk this one

The Saturday Chicago Tribune had a great article on a presentation made by the USDA's Larry Salathe on the agency's goals and objectives for 2004. Apparently, one of their goals was to win votes for President Bush in Wisconsin, Minnesota and other major dairy producing states by keeping milk prices artificially high. Which as you may guess is good for dairy farmers and bad for consumers like you and me. What's even more sinister, it seems Salathe promised the large dairy producers that the Bush administration would get around to squeezing those pesky small producers after the election, once their votes were already cast, that is -- by cutting aid to small dairies and even instituting a "small producer assessment" aka milk tax. This is a perfect opportunity for John Kerry to say to the people of Wisc. and Minn. that Bush is not good for their bottom lines, that he's plotting to squeeze them out of business in the second term, and that a milk tax isn't the answer to his lousy spending habits. Maybe he ought to trot out some little kid with a milk moustache.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Chicago needs a new mayor

I'll give credit to Mayor Daley for helping revitalize this city. But too often he crosses the line from good public servant to political manipulator. His latest power play is to threaten to cut service on the CTA by 40% because of a "budget crisis".   Make no mistake: this so-called budget crisis is completely fake. Completely. If the CTA can't afford to operate at its current capacity, they how on earth do they justify all of the expansion in rail lines that would add capacity? What, are you going to expand every line and then run one train all day? Give me a break. There are a lot of parallels between this situation and the "if we don't get a casino we'll have to raise property taxes" situation. Daley is trying to squeeze the state into doing what he wants by making threats. Unfortunately, instead of getting quality service from our government the people of Chicago who stuck with the bills, either way. The real answer is to cut out the corruption, cut out all the b.s. spending, stop playing games and balance the budget.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Pot topic in Chicago

Sounds like Mayor Daley is looking to reduce the punishment for carrying marijuana. Right now, it's an automatic arrest. But the problem is, according to a police review, the majority of cases get thrown out and the person is never prosecuted (though inconvenienced tremendously, if they go to court). To me it sounds like the ticketing is the way to go, but the critics are probably right: it will make Chicago even friendlier for drug dealing. But hey, if the Mayor gets his way, we'll have spy cameras watching us all 24/7, so what's the worst that could happen?

My apologies... those who left comments. I switched commenting tools and, in doing so, had to erase all comments. But it had to be done. The other comment tool was a little too clunky for my tastes. Best to do it early on.

Get polls for all 50 states and DC

American Research Group rocks. They just released a crapload of presidential polls. Enjoy!

Maybe a nut job is EXACTLY what this state needs

I went over to the Illinois Leader site for my weekly environmental scare courtesy of Joyce Morrison, and came across a rather amusing string on their message board entitled "obama[sic] is a muslim[sic]." Most anyone who even loosely pays attention to Illinois politics knows the assertion made in the title is completely wrong. Dan Proft, publisher of the site, set everybody straight, saying that Obama is a Christian, and he was sure to issue this caution to his fellow conservatives:
    "There is no need to distort Obama's personal identity (not that there would be anything wrong if he was Muslim), there is plenty of legitimate fodder in his legislative record and positions on the issues with which to make hay."
I was wondering how we're supposed to interpret this. Is he telling conservatives to intentionally distort his legislative record? If so, is that an okay thing to do? Is that in the Scriptures somewhere? He goes on:
    "It's not a matter of who are the "nut jobs"'s a matter of who is right for the future of IL and the US and who is not."
This seems to be an admission that the right person to represent Illinois in the nation's highest legislative body may well indeed be a nut job. Hmmm. He also was sure to note that he's a paid staffer for Alan Keyes.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

DeLay associates indicted

Absolutely can't wait for the George Ryan corruption trial to begin? This should whet your appetite (from the Houston Chronicle): Republican fund-raising leads to indictments of 3 DeLay aides . In case you haven't been following, here's a brief synopsis. U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay -- the prototypical evil conservative power broker -- created a fundraising organization to bring down Democratic lawmakers in the state through redistricting. Quite successfully, I might add. But, in doing so, this organization shook down corporations for contributions, then funneled that money to various GOP candidates to get around campaign finance limits. Now a grand jury has handed out 32 indictments to a number of people involved, including three of DeLay's top aides. DeLay was not named in the indictment, but it seems to me that he's the ultimate target of the investigation. Hopefully the prosecutors of this case take a page out of Patrick Fitzgerald's book and squeeze those bastards til they squeal.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Maybe Bush ain't as yella as originally thought

After a few weeks of shaking in his boots, President Bush finally agreed to debate John Kerry. Kerry had accepted the debate commission's recommendations for three 90-minute, televised debates leading up to the election, but Bush wasn't so sure. Media reports indicate that Bush was hoping for a lousy two debates -- runnign the risk of being forever branded yelloW. But in the end, Bush decided to face the music. Good man. So, get out your date book and set your VCRs (from the Washington Post):
    "The first debate will be Sept. 30 at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The second one -- with the town-hall format -- will be at Washington University in St. Louis on Oct. 8, and the third at Arizona State University in Tempe on Oct. 13. "There will be a vice presidential debate between Vice President Cheney and Democratic nominee John Edwards at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland on Oct. 5."
To the surprise of none, it appears Ralph Nader will not be participating in the debate. The audiences will be filled with "soft" Bush supporters and "soft" Kerry supporters. Representatives for both sides are still hoping to agree what percentage of the audience will be "April fresh."

Human rights

So my fiance and myself were coming home late and we see a college age guy sitting under a streetlight in a patch of grass on the corner with his back pack, apparently waiting for a ride. What made this unusual is that he was sitting in a meditative pose. I guess yoga can happen anywhere. As we're entering our house struggling to carry all kinds of stuff and open our door the kid comes up to us holding a clipboard. He starts telling us about the Human Rights Campaign -- which is working against the gay marriage ban. I was all ready to sign his petition or whatever, but he said that he was actually collecting donations. I'm not one to give out money to strangers on dark streets, but I admire the kid for giving it a shot, anyhow. It takes guts to go up to people in the dark when they're just getting home late at night and carrying tons of heavy bags and start talking about political issues, esp. something as touchy as gay marriage.

A tragic end to a gaping hole in security

The last time I was in the capitol back in the late 90s, I was struck at how easy it was to just walk into the capitol without anyone even looking at you sideways, and there were all these powerful people walking around. Yet at every professional job I've had, there were security check points. And the guards at these checkpoints carried guns. That's what makes this story so tragic. The guards who was shot at the state capitol was unarmed and stood no chance. In fact, the guards never carry guns there. If this guard had seen the man walking up to the capitol waving a gun around, what was he supposed to do? Sit there and wait for the bullets to fly? Hide? Put up some velvet rope across the door and hope for the best?

Thompson named "Illinoisan of the Year"

The Illinois News Broadcasters Association named former Gov. Jim Thompson "Illinoisan of the Year" for his work on the Sept. 11 commission, but not as much for his work on the audit committee at much-looted Hollinger International. Thompson's work there was described in a government report as "ineffective and careless over a prolonged period of time."

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Fitzgerald grouses about the GOP

There's an article on retiring Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R) in the Sunday Tribune. For all of his complaining, I have to say he's right about one thing:
    "The Republican Party cannot survive if we are not perceived as the more ethical party," because Democrats have a strong numerical advantage in the state, Fitzgerald said. "We have to throw the money changers out of our party, and its leadership must come from the ranks of those who are in politics for principled reasons."
The exception being Alan Keyes, who uses principles to fuel himself right into the stratosphere.

Morrison off the deep end

Illinois Leader columnist Joyce Morrison is usually so off the mark that disproving even her most basic assertions is as easy as shooting endangered carp in a barrel. But just when you think she couldn't get more paranoid, alarmist and all out wacky in her anti-environmentalism, she kicks it up a notch. In her latest column, she seems to speculate that the Great Flood of 1993 along the Mississippi River was induced by man-made radiowaves from Alaska! And why would anyone want to cause a flood of such a disastrous magnitude? Morrison posits that it may have been a plot by the environmentalists to drive people out of the land along the Mississippi to create a "Heritage Corridor." You have got to be kidding me! Joyce, don't you think the reason the government might want to restrict new development in flood planes is because these areas dangerous, perilous places to build things? If you don't buy that, just ask the people who lived in the 72,000 homes that were destroyed or seriously damaged, or any of the 35,000 businesses that suffered property damage. In fact, everything the flood touched was ruined -- roads, cars, phone poles, farms, cemeteries. The flood cost $16 billion in damages. Fifty people died because of the flood. And it might surprise you to know, Joyce, that even the things you hate the most -- wetlands -- were destroyed by floods. I know the concept of wetlands being destroyed by water is probably a little hard to grasp, but it's true. So if you want to believe that the floods were part of some environmentalist plot to take back the river, go right ahead. But the reality is, some years it rains hardly at all, some years it rains all the time. When it rains all the time, it causes flood. When it floods, people who choose to live in the flood's path suffer. End of story.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Lots of new polls

American Research Group has released a big ol' batch of state polls. The only thing surprising about the results is that there weren't any surprises. While most other polls show Bush taking over some "Kerry" states like Maine and Minnesota, the ARG poll shows little evidence of Bush beginning to run away with the election. A few points of interest: Colorado Bush 46% Kerry 45% Maine Kerry 48% Bush 44% Oregon Kerry 47% Bush 45% Check out the entire poll results.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Poll shows Bush/Kerry close in IL

In a recent poll conducted by SurveyUSA, Bush appears to be gaining on Kerry in Illinois, a state that has long been considered safely Democratic. Kerry 49% Bush 45% Oth/Un 7% In the senate race, Barack Obama appears to be safe (as if we didn't know!) Obama 65% Keyes 24% Oth/Un 12% I think after the debate, Kohn may move closer to Keyes, once voters realize there is a conservative alternative to Keyes.

Senate candidates to debate

I received this e-mail (below) from the Illinois Libertarian Party. I'm happy to hear that their man Jerry Kohn (L) and candidate Al Franzen (I) will be included in the debate. Now the big papers will have to acknowledge that Kohn exists and is running for senate, right? Don't count on it. Watch, they'll be footnoted, if mentioned at all, as usual. Anyway, here goes:
    Dear Fellow Libertarian: I'd like to encourage you to attend a debate between the U.S. Senatecandidates seeking to fill the Senate seat soon to be vacated by PeterFitzgerald (R), sponsored by the Illinois Forum. This is your chance to support Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate JerryKohn as he goes head to head with the other Senate candidates. All fourcandidates have been invited to participate in the debate, including Jerry,Republican Alan Keyes, Democrat state Sen. Barack Obama andIndependent Albert Franzen ... As far as I know, this is the first time an Illinois Libertarian candidate forstatewide office has ever been included in a General Election debate withmajor-party candidates and major media coverage. Do not miss this debate! The debate will take place from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM on Sunday Sept. 19,2004, at the Champaign City Council Chamber, 102 North Neal Street,Champaign, IL.

Emerging from blog coma

I'm sure my legions of fans have been waiting at the edge of their seats for my seventh entry in a year. You can tell that I'm really dedicated to blogging. Actually, I've been contributing to Polstate and my own stupid web site, as well as trying to live an ordinary life. None of these things I do well. So what have I done with the last nine months? Well, I did as I promised myself I would if Howard Dean's candidacy collapsed -- I became a card-carrying Green, but not without helping out Barack Obama's campaign in the weeks leading up to the primary. Other than that, I've been submerged in the rather dysfunctional family that is the Illinois Green Party. I first became seriously interested in the Greens in 2000 when I almost voted for Nader, but ended up voting for Al Gore. That was a wasted vote if ever there were one. So I've been helping with Green petition drives to get on the ballot -- including the Green presidential candidate David Cobb and senate candidate Scott Summers. I also helped out a little with Nader's fight to stay on the ballot with some mind numbing data entry. The most gratifying experience was a daytrip to Champaign in the last days before the petition deadline and collecting signatures for some county board candidates. Unlike Chicago, people tend to be more politically open in Champaign. In Chicago, the Democrats are like the weather...everybody complains, but nobody is willing to do anything about it. Anyway, that's my excuse.