Thursday, December 30, 2004

News roundup

1. Third parties demand second Ohio recount (AP) This is brilliant. There were so many irregularities in the Ohio recount that they should be forced to go through the frivolous act of recounting the ballots as a punishment for their disregard for the letter of the law. To my mind, it would be sweet revenge for every third party petition signature that was challenged by the GOP or Dems on the grounds of some idiotic technicality. 2. Washington governor loser wants do-over (AP) A recount is one thing, but Dino Rossi (R) wants a revote in the Washington governor's race. Granted, the guy did have victory snatched away from him after two recounts, but this just makes him sound like a sore loser and possibly ruins his chances in 2006. Now if he had a valid claim about the votes that were already cast that weren't counted, that would be different. But come on, Dino. 3. Bush won the buggy vote (Washington Post) I wonder if they used those new electronic voting machines. Hmmm.... 4. Patrick Daley ships out (Sun-Times) 5. Duff love for the Teamsters (Sun-Times) 6. Madigan makes sure child offenders aren't working with children (Chicago Tribune) 7. More runs on the 54th/Cermak branch of the Blue Line (Chicago Tribune) Only to be cut in a few months...(?) Who knows what's going on with the CTA anymore. 8. Get ready for Cicero elections, aka "Corruption on Parade" (Chicago Tribune) 9. Chicago murder rate drops (Chicago Tribune) Chicago Police and the Mayor deserve many thanks for working to make this happen. 10. Array of taxes on table (Chicago Tribune) M.V. renews call for new Cook County Board President. Come on, somebody please run!

God smites thousands in Christmas card to environmentalists

The IllinoisLeader's Joyce Morrison says the tsunami is God's warning to environmentalists to stop taking away people's property rights, damn it! At least she didn't blame this natural disaster on radio waves from Alaska in a plot by environmentalists to create heritage corridors. She gives a lot of tsunami facts, throws in the usual paragraph about abortion and a few other random gripes, then launches into the nuttiness:
    Nature mocks the extreme environmentalists and the billions of dollars they spend in their attempt to take over every eco-sphere, endangered species, wetlands, forest or whatever they can. While they worship the creation and try to take control, they have forgotten the power of the Creator. The tsunami waves proved to be far more powerful than any preservation program.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't recall hearing about any nature preserves or heritage corridors being destroyed by God's fury. No, mostly it was the hotels. The villages. The roads, boats and trains. The people. And let's face it, if a nature preserve were destroyed, would it even make the news? Would anyone halfway across the world care? Doubt it. In fact, if a natural area occasionally gets hit by a hurricane, or a fire or some other natural disaster, the nature area can bounce back on its own. It doesn't cost billions upon billions to rebuild. Having missed that obvious point, Morrison leaves us this little morsel to chew on:
    Could God be reminding us that He is still in control? Is the second return of Jesus near? Will God remain passive as we mock His son's birth? These are questions only He can answer.
Only He can answer, indeed.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Grazing on a Sunday afternoon

Some delightful cud from various news sources: Federal investigation of GOP lobbiest, tribal gaming, Congressmen and, yes, the obligitory gangland slaying (Washington Post) Little number on Lipinski's career and legacy (Chicago Tribune) College GOP fundraising scrutinized (Washington Post) Exit polls show Yuschenko ahead (but we know from experience there is no accounting for vote fraud in exit polls) (AP) Commendations to the State of Washington GOP (AP) -- After years of Republicans trying to supress the counting of votes through lawsuits and questionable decisions of the party's election officials, the Wash. GOP is casting all that aside and declaring proudly "let's count all the votes." By the way, we're adding Rossi's name to our list of potential challengers in the 2006 senate races. Colo. Sen.-elect Salazar predicts bloody fight if Frist kills filibuster (AP) -- by the way, Frist is totally wrong about the filibustering of judicial nominees being "unconstitutional" -- where in the hell does he get that? What happens to your e-mail after you die? (Daily Southtown) Rich Miller declares 2004 the weirdest year yet in Illinois politics (Daily Southtown) -- And the article could have been so much longer.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

States of ill repute

This sounds like an excellent way to predict don't have to do a telephone survey, just call the local video store.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A GOP divide on Social Security reform?

My two favorite IL Republican congressmen seem split on the issue of Social Security Reform...well maybe not so much as to the merits of reform, but how politically damaging the issue could be (from the AP): "To be crassly political, there's nothing in it for members of Congress," said Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill., predicting that supportive lawmakers would face television ads accusing them of gutting Social Security when they run for re-election. "It will be a very, very tough sell for the president." ... "Cowardice is always an option," said moderate Rep. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., a supporter of moving ahead next year. "I think long-term political parties are built on bold statements and facing big problems." I don't know exactly what to think about this. Of course, Sen. Dick Durbin is against Bush's reforms and is in favor of funding Social Security. I think in light of the fact that our president blew our surplus and put us trillions into debt, isn't the "lock box" idea pretty much shot?

It's conservative lawsuit day!

I was reading an article in the liberal media about the Washington govenor's recount, and came across this obvious lie: "GOP officials have said they were likely to take the matter to court in the event of a Gregoire win." I know it's a lie because I've heard conservatives grousing for years that liberals will just sue if they don't get what they want. I'd hate to think that the glorious Republican Party would sink to such low standards.

Let the idiot speak

Hillbilly couture, for those not in the know. It's kind of funny, I was driving around yesterday and tuned into nazi radio...I guess Rush Limbaugh was out so he had some replacement hosting his show. So the host laid this story out in a very head-shaking tone. Usually, I'd say it's conservatives applauding the cracking down on outrageous garb in high schools, but somehow this was made out to be an example of how liberal school administrators are running amok and are going too far enforcing P.C. All that to say, this girl has been elevated to some kind of conservative folk hero status. Personally, I think the girl should have been allowed to wear the dress -- now, thanks to censorship, this girl's probably going to get a bunch of money from the Coors family and run for Congress or something. Whereas, if you don't try to silence free speech, few really notice or care. The worst that would have happened is that the principal would have gotten some of angry phone calls from other parents and possibly some a few scornful letters to the editor of the local paper. To that principal, I say "couldn't you have taken one for the team?" Anyway, there are some pretty amusing postings on this topic on the Free Republic. One a press release from the Georgia Heritage Coalition, where they carefully describe the dress' features: "It was a classically cut strapless sheath, ankle-length with a shallow slit on one side, and sewn completely out of beaded sequins. And it tastefully incorporated a symbol of her Southern heritage..." They were also sure to note that the girl is "an attractive honor student." I guess that makes it okay to violate school rules and disobey your school's principal. Thems family values, right there.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Pondering a draft campaign

I think someone needs to start a draft campaign to find a superstar opponent to John Stroger for Cook County Board President. Has to be someone with a Chicago/Cook County connection. I found a list of famous people born in Chicago, and no one was jumping out at me. Of course, the list is very much incomplete. So I thought about it a little more and here are a few people who come to mind: Tina Fey, who lived in Chicago for a few years, is an obvious choice. She would make a *superb* Cook County Board President. Fellas, you know what I'm talking bout. The only problem is, we'd have to lure her away from New York. I'll put her name in the "maybe" column. If we can't get Tina Fey, then I think Jeff Tweedy would have to be our second option. Or maybe Billy Corgan. I heard that actor John Mahoney (of Frasier fame) lives in Oak Park...he'd be a kick ass candidate for Cook County Board President. Bob Newhart maybe? Bill Murray was born in Wilmette. He'd be unbeatable. Based on his character in Caddy Shack, I know he'd also be a good steward of the Cook County Forest Preserve. Wesley Willis is dead, but I'm not sure about psychiatrist Aftab Noorani. Michael Flatley, aka Lord of the Dance, who my father babysat many years ago, would be an interesting choice. Okay, I'm reaching here. Come on, help me out. Let me know your suggestions for Cook County Board President draft candidates.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Brief Aside From Politics: It's MV's all-time favorite albums

It's getting near the end of the year, and that means time to reflect. It's probably the one time I write in an actual diary, just to scribble out a few noteworthy things that happened over the course of the year. One of the things I like to do every year is list my twenty favorite albums...not of the year, but of all time. Of course, it changes from year to year. So this year, since I started this blog, I thought, "Why not share my favorites with the world?" Unable to formulate a proper answer to my own rhetorical question, here they are, in all their glory: (fyi -- I don't see much point in ranking them, so these aren't in order of wicked-coolness) Boneville by Jackpot - I picked up this one up on a whim from the used CD bin at Coconuts, and I was not disappointed. Jackpot has a gritty alt-country sound. Every song on this album is a gem. I think I read somewhere that, like most great music, it was recorded in a cabin on a 4-track over a rainy weekend. The leader of Jackpot is Rusty Miller, and in every biography I've read of him, it unfailingly mentions that he was the dude who wrote the rippin' guitar riff in the Cake song "The Distance" and contributed to other Cake hits like "Never There" (and this brief biography shall be no different). If you don't believe that they're good, take my wife's word for it. I'm listening to the album right now, and she called from the other room, "Who is that?" and I axed her why she wants to know, and she sez, "Coz I like it!" London Calling by The Clash Thrills by Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire - Nothing like Thrills to put me in a weird mood. The Swimming Hour by Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire - There are one or two throw-aways on this album, but it also contains several of Bird's greatest songs, such has "How Indiscreet" and "Dear Old Greenland" -- two songs that feature Nora O'Connor and Kelly Hogan doing backup vocals. I probably could have died happily after I saw them all together performing these songs at the Hideout Block Party in 2001, which was one of the finest concerts I've attended, right up there with Robbie Fulks and Wilco at Rock the River in 2000 and Ben Folds at the Vic in 2002. Wreck Your Life by the Old '97s - Every song is a gem. Goin Goin Gone being one of my all-time favorite songs. New Parade by Sheila Divine - They used to be the biggest band on the Boston music scene, but now they are but a memory. Their sound? I don't know, I'd probably compare them to Radiohead, Coldplay or Muse -- very clean, cold, but masterful and intense. I saw them live once on some off-night at the Metro a couple of years ago -- there were probably a hundred or so people there, but let me tell you, they rocked every single one of us. On Avery Island by Neutral Milk Hotel - I was trying to figure out which Neutral Milk Hotel album I like better, and though "Holland, 1945" is the greatest song ever recorded, I think every song on Avery is worth listening to tens of thousand times, whereas most songs on In an Airplane Over the Sea start to wear on me after the first few thousand listens in a given day. The Bends by Radiohead - My best friend and his little stripper friend who works at the Admiral think that the best Radiohead album is OK Computer, but you and I know better. Hail to the Thief gets an honorable mention, or since they're British, I guess they should instead get honourable mention. Fear of Pop: Volume I - Most Ben Folds fans are probably scratching their heads at this one. Fear of Pop, after all, is the album Folds fans wish they hadn't purchased in lieu of supporting their diet pills and vodka habit -- mostly because it doesn't have very many words, and thus, they say, does not display Folds' usual cutting wit. To that I say, "Have you listened to the album???" Not only is it packed with booty shakin' grooves, it's also a poignant statement on popular music. Take "Slow Jam '98" -- pop that in your sound system, crank back your seat real far, turn up the bass, and drive around town looking like a bad ass. In that light, listen carefully near the ending. There are subtle jokes like that in every song. Rain Dogs by Tom Waits Let It Be by the Beatles Being There by Wilco - I remember one day, I came home from work on a Friday after a long, horrible week. I popped in Disc 2, turned the volume way up, and blasted "Sunken Treasure," absorbed, and I was good to go. That's healing power. Mermaid Avenue Vol. I by Billy Bragg & Wilco American Gothic by Letterpress Opry - Kind of a folk/bluegrass sound with rich, dark, poignant lyrics. Probably some of the best songwriting I've ever heard. The song "Iowa" is the definitive portrait of that state or perhaps rural life in general. And you can see the genius behind the songs -- Patrick Brickell -- performing solo in Chicago in January at Uncommon Ground. Ben Folds Five by Ben Folds Five If I Should Fall From Grace With God by The Pogues August & Everything After by Counting Crows - I hardly pick it up anymore (mostly because the Counting Crows have evolved from slit-your-wrist goodness into a disappointing easy listening suck band) but I've listened to this album somewhere in the neighborhood of 12,347,806 times, mostly during my college years. With that little statistic in mind, I find it amazing that I had time to read The Collected Works of T.S. Eliot a whopping 7,989,097 times during the same period. Anyway, August is still one of the best. Odelay by Beck Her Majesty by The Decemberists Rattle and Hum by U2 - Ever since I mysteriously lost my "War" and "Boy" CDs (I think my mom stole them), this is the only U2 album that I own, and quite frankly, it's the best. Because this is the album where Bono finally answers the question, "Can you see those fighter planes?" **** Anyway, that's my list. I'm happy to have gotten all that off my was eating me up inside.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Added link

It's long overdue, but I added the CTA Tattler to the list of links. One of my favorites. When I read it, fondly reflect on my years of voyages to and from the West Side, and all the characters I met along the way. For instance, when I first started riding the CTA in 2000, within a month, I saw two different people who were not shy about snorting coke on the train -- but after that I never saw open drug use on the train again. Hmmm. Over the years, I've also seen one purse snatching, one fainting, one sex act, one fist fight, one eight-year-old gangbanger flash a piece, one defecation, one driver stopping the bus to douse his cologne over a rather smelly homeless guy, and I've seen many, many amusing/creepy drunks. As much as I hate the way the CTA leadership and the city manipulate riders, I'm also very grateful that I can hop on the CTA and get anywhere I need to go, and despite all the freaky things that happen, it's usually pretty safe and sane.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Will Stroger abdicate "the throne"

I always wonder, does Russ Stewart really have the goods, or is he just incredibly good at interpolating the Illinois/Chicago political scene? Whatever the situation, he's got some fascinating analysis of the 2006 Illinois elections, centered on the impending decision of Cook County Board President Port-a-John Stroger on whether or not to run for re-election. Stroger is such a contemptible waste of space, I can't help but indulge in this kind of wishful thinking. So the question is, come 2007, who would you like to see take the helm of Cook County's mighty fleet???

Scary stuff at the Illinois Leader

To date, this is probably the most disturbed and convoluted article I've read on the And that is really saying something. Kellmeyer argues that it's okay to kill Muslims, that doing so is an act of love. He makes the argument that Islam is a brutal religion, and that Osama bin Laden is a "good Muslim" because he supposedly closely follows the teachings. Though Kellmeyer begins the article by singling out Muslim leaders, it's pretty clear that by the second to last paragraph where he quotes Saint Louis that he's really talking about killing Muslims in general. What this amounts to is basically an argument for widespread violence against Muslims. The political implications are clear: Kellmeyer is probably in a roundabout way justifying the Iraq war. But someone might just as easily read this and take it as a cue to bomb a mosque (where all the "good Muslims" are), or more likely at least be sympathetic to someone who does. A bit of advice: If you think Kellmeyer's article makes sense, GET HELP!!!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Illinois Libertarians debut fancy new Web site

Really dig the new design. Dig the cool Statue of Liberty structural designs in the background. In other Lib news, the party reported today that membership rose 23% this year. On a related front, the Illinois Green Party is working on a new site, but it will be a rather standard Plone design for now.

“L” does not stand for Logical

Today's Trib reports:
    “The CTA board last month approved the purchase of 265 new buses for $95 million, and it will soon seek bids on new rail cars. A long list of projects include repairs to track and signals, communications and security systems and the rehabilitation of viaducts and facilities.”
  Now, this may be a stupid question, but why is the CTA buying $95 million in bus and trains if it feels it has to cut bus routes and train service to plug a $55 million deficit. Oh, because it's a FAKE deficit. I almost forgot.    

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Attention terrorists!

Here's what Tommy Thompson said on the occasion of his resignation: "For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do," Thompson said. "We are importing a lot of food from the Middle East, and it would be easy to tamper with that." Good job, dumb ass. Now that you've brought it to the terrorists' attention, I'm sure someone will get right on that.