Thursday, November 30, 2006


The temperature dropped nearly thirty degrees from one day to next here but that's Chicago weather for you. The news is that when I wake up on Friday morning there will be around ten inches of snow on the ground. Maybe more. I don't know if there is gas and oil in the snowblower or whether it will even start. The shovel always works but my wife, Cranky's Wife, who recently brought her blog back to life ala Frankenstein gets cranky when I shove her out the door to shovel. A friend of mine wanted to go to the grocery store to get milk and he couldn't get into the parking lot. Apparently there was a convergence of Hurricane Katrina-like fear and suburbanites who obviously have no food in their house. He went home sans milk.

Why do I live here again? I have to worry about getting my car out of the driveway in the a.m. and then have to plow through mountains of snow when I come home if I'm lucky enough to get a start out of the blower. I have to wear smartwool socks to bed and buy rock salt. I have to scrap frozen ice off my car at the train station lot and I'm sure my furnace will fail to work around bedtime on the coldest night of the year. The people who settled Chicago back in the good old days must have done so in springtime.

So now I lay me down to sleep. A pair of smartwool socks on my feet. If I die before I wake. At least Hell will be warmer than Chicago for goodness sake.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Move along please

It's time to move on. So says Sen. John Kerry about his "botched joke" before the 2006 mid-term elections. Kerry, while trying to make some lame joke about President Bush, said young people would end up "stuck in Iraq" if they didn't study hard in school. Yes, I know. Hilarious. Bush and the other phony outraged followers claimed this Silver Star, Bronze Star and three-time Purple Heart recipient was actually maligning the troops. He wasn't but it didn't matter. Turns out it also didn't matter to the outcome of the elections. What it did do is put the last nail in the coffin of one of the worst politicians in Washington.

"This is getting silly," Kerry said on CNN's "Larry King Live." "The country needs to think about a policy that has young men and women at risk on a daily basis that is not working." It is silly to still be talking about his "botched joke" but it isn't silly to keep reminding everyone why Kerry shouldn't even be considered as a presidential candidate in 2008. It needs to be said again and again and again - Kerry is one of the worst politicians I've seen. His campaign in 2004 was a joke. A mess run by lame managers who fought more amongst themselves than against Bush. Kerry must have been high to take the high road with the Swift Boaters. "I was for it before I was against it?" That's a wet-dream for Karl Rove. Wind surfing? Can't you wait until you've either won or lost to do that? Wearing a NASA white lab bhurka? Didn't Dukakis in his Snoopy helmet riding around in a tank teach you anything? Then after the election it turns out you had $15 million in unspent funds? Was that to buy every one of your 50 million supporters a White Castle hamburger? I know I'm forgetting much more but what I'd like to forget is Kerry's entire campaign. Maybe it should just be a federal law. No more liberal Democratics from Massachusetts can run for president. Is that so hard?

So yes, it is silly to keep talking about Kerry's non-joke joke that he couldn't even tell right. And even if Kerry did tell his "joke" it makes as much sense as, well, Kerry running for president again. But it isn't silly to remind the country of what a terrible politician Kerry is and why we should all move along not only from the "botched joke" discussion but also from Kerry.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Stop the presses!!!

There was a time when we took our freedoms for granted in America. Those days are long gone. It's now a daily battle to save this country from the forces of evil, the Republican Iron Curtain that is descending across our nation. We used to think our government shouldn't be allowed to spy on us unless a court warrant was issued upon probable cause. Now it's done if a guy at the White House or the NSA wants to do it. We used to think flying was as seamless as driving but now we have to carry our three ounces of baby formula in a clear ziploc bag, take our shoes off and still maybe get barred because you're one of the many John Smiths on the no-fly list. Habeas Corpus? Fugettaboutit. The U.S. government can pluck you off the street and disappear you into a secret prison forever if they want. And now? It was just a matter of time since Ari Fleischer the former White House press secretary warned people to "watch what they say" that our freedom of speech was formerly challenged.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, that tubby lifelong government employee who criticizes lifelong government teat-sucklers, who when he's not lecturing people about the sanctity of marriage is having an affair with a subordinate employee (while impeaching Bill over Monica) and moving on to his third wife, thinks our freedom of speech is just a bit too loose. It needs to be tightened. You know, like a noose.

Gingrich said "the country will be forced to reexamine freedom of speech to meet the threat of terrorism." Tubby went on to say, "We need to get ahead of the curve before we actually lose a city, which I think could happen in the next decade." Why don't we just start up those internment camps form the 1940s? Oh we already did that with the CIA secret prisons.

"They hate us for our freedoms," we are constantly told by people who also hate us for our freedoms. They all must hate us a little less today since our freedom of speech will no doubt be joining some others in the America that we used to know and love.

P.S. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." Does that sound better than, "the country will be forced to reexamine freedom of speech to meet the threat of terrorism"?

Monday, November 27, 2006

I got car-ied away

I have been driving the same car for about eight or nine years and after 109,000 miles it was time. I reluctantly cracked open the piggy bank because we have two cranky juniors and my two-door coupe couldn't handle a car seat. That's a problem. If I take cranky jr. out then cranky's wife and cranky jr. jr. would be trapped at home. I had done my research and done the test drives over the past couple of months and decided today's the day.

I rarely buy cars but every experience I've had or my friends have had have been more like a assault than a pleasant transaction. This time I brought a friend of mine who used to be in the car business and by the end of the day even he was impressed with where we ended up.

I first called a dealership one town over to get a price on the car I wanted. They gave me a price that seemed about right according to Kelley's Blue Book website. I had a trade-in but I knew enough to get the car price first then tell them you have a trade-in to appraise. The next day with the phone price in hand I went to my local dealership with my friend, the car insider. I told them I could do something today if the price was right. The front line sales lackey gave me a price that was higher than the over the phone price at the other dealership - only $750 off the sticker price. He said these cars are really selling as fast as they get them so they don't really discount them very much. I said, "Well, I'm a little disappointed since my family has bought a few cars from here and I got a better price over the phone from some dealer I had never met." He asked me what price they gave me. I told him I wasn't going to bid against myself and tell him the price that he only had to beat by a dollar to get the sale. I said they gave me a better price without ever meeting me so I was inclined to deal with them since they were willing to be more up front about this. Then the words, "Let me talk to my sales manager" made their appearance. He left and my buddy told me the sales guy has zero authority. It was a total waste of time talking to him but they force you to. Enter the sales manager. He said that he could call it a "fleet" sale and give me another $1000 off. So in one second we go from $750 off to $1,750 off. Not bad. That's the best they could do. Lowest, best price. O.k. give me a trade-in price on my car. Comes to $4,000 and I say, "O.k. well I'm going to go to the other dealership and get their trade-in price and I'm going to buy today before 5 p.m. so here's my cell number if you want to adjust your price before then."

I get to the other dealership and re-establish the price and then get a $5,000 trade-in appraisal. Now this offer became $1000 better than the first deal. I say, "I'm going to go get lunch. here's my cell number if you want to improve your price because I'm going to buy that day." Before we head into lunch I call the other dealer and say, "I got a better deal and they beat you by $1,100. (I'm as honest to them as they were with me.) I'm going to buy today, I've got my title and check with me. I'm giving you a last courtesy call to see if you're interested." He says, "Let me call you back in 20 minutes." In twenty minutes I get a call from him saying they will take another $1,300 off the price of the car. So for a quick recap they went from $750 off and that's our final offer to $3,050 and that's our final offer. And the best part of the deal is that the sales tax in my county if a half percent lower than the other dealership so it's another savings.

I get the car in two weeks and in the meantime I get to try and sell my car. It gets detailed on Monday on all I have to do is sell it for more than $4,000 to squeeze even more money out of this deal since the extra $1,300 off came off the new car price and not added to the trade-in value. It could go for roughly $7,500 so I'll get more than $4,000.

The review from my car friend was that I played it perfectly and that he couldn't believe where we started and where we ended up. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the idiot who pays sticker price and 10 being turning the tables on the car people he said it was all of ten.

So now I have the experience of feeling like I was in control of the car people and actually smiling after signing the buyer's order to lock it in. It could be another 109,000 miles before I shop again for a car so the feeling will have to last. If you were there with me the whole day you would know it will.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Thanksgiving is tomorrow so I thought I would list a few things I'm thankful for:

1. My DVR. I don't know how people survived before TIVO.
2. The fact that I'm not traveling through an airport or two to get a turkey dinner.
3. That my new cranky jr. sleeps through the night.
4. That the friend I though was mad at a blog post isn't mad and is still my friend.
5. That the Democrats took over the House of Representatives.
6. That the Democrats took over the U.S. Senate.
7. That I won the Powerball Mega-Jackpot and no one knows it.
8. That I don't live in a country that is on the brink of civil war (Iraq, Lebanon, etc.).
9. That my wife can handle my crankiness.
10. That I have at least a few readers who seem interested in my blog posts. It's cheaper than therapy so I say thanks for saving me money.

There are at lot more things to be thankful for but I don't want to get sentimental. It might make me cranky.

Gobble, Gobble.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Can you hear me now? Boom!

It's late and I'm too tired to really crank out some cranky column and this story from a couple of days ago has been in my mind. The story begins, "Israel called off an airstrike against the house of a suspected Palestinian militant in Gaza late Saturday, after the inhabitants ignored a telephoned warning and neighbors flocked to the house to prevent the bombing, the military said." The Palestinians declared victory for their latest "popular resistence." The Israelis criticized the cynical use of civilians as human shields. "The Israeli military spokesman said the attack on the house had been called off after a routine telephone warning from the military urging inhabitants to evacuate the house was ignored. “We didn’t want to harm civilians,” he said."

Read it again if you didn't catch the remarkable words in the story. The Israelis actually pick up the phone and call targets of airstrikes and tell them a bomb or two will be landing on their homes in about thirty minutes and that they might want to leave. These calls are "routine." So I ask again as I have in the past - name me a single country that has ever existed or that currently exists, other than Israel, that would give a courtesy call to strike targets. Just one. Israel measures success by how FEW civilians are killed in a military action. Its enemies measure success by how MANY civilians they kill.

And by they way. I have some advice for Israel on to counter this latest "weapon" of human shields protecting targets tipped off by the Israeli army - don't call first. Can you hear me now? You can? Boom!

Monday, November 20, 2006

This circus really is a circus

I haven't been to the circus in over 30 years. The real circus that is, Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey, not the circus that is planet Earth. I've been to that circus everyday since I knew there wasn't a tooth fairy. (Apologies to my small but devoted five-year-old fan base that just found out there is no such thing as a tooth fairy.) I took Cranky's Wife, (who used to have a blog until I killed it because of editorial misconduct), Cranky Jr. and Cranky Jr. Jr. Big mistake. Note to self: Don't bring a four-month old to Ozzy Osbourne concerts or the twice as loud Ringling Bros. circus - you'll end up in the hallway with a napping child. I saw the first act and Cranky's Wife saw the second act.

Also, bring lots of money. My older (but not necessarily wiser) brother used to say about traveling overseas that you should put the pile of clothes and the pile of money you intend to bring and then take away half the clothes and double the money. Same thing for the circus. First of all I thought the $24.00 tickets for row 5 of section 201 would be fine. The other choice was the $50.00 tickets and some on the floor for $80.00. Eighty-dollars a ticket for a circus? That's nuts. I figured level 2 is better than level 1 and level 3 had to be nosebleed seats. So level 2 in a low number row should be fine, right? Wrong. They're are fine if you want to watch it on the Jumbo-tron screen. The tickets to get were the $50.00 ones but that seems high to see some juggling and birds riding horseback on cats.

So we're in our seats and Cranky Jr. wants cotten candy. No problem. Ten dollars. Pardon me? How much? It did come with a cloth circus hat that must have cost a good fifty-cents so all in's still armed robbery. Oh, you want a Sno-Cone in a plastic elephant cup? Twelve dollars. A circus program? Fifteen dollars. A box of popcorn is six dollars. Some plastic motorcycle with spinning lights? Seventeen dollars. Slice of pizza and a small bottle of water sets you back $8.50. Did I mention parking was $20.00? Don't even ask how much they charged for toilet paper. Let's just say I may the four-ply go four times as far as it should. Needless to say the line at the ATM was looooooooong.

I didn't even keep track of how much the day cost. I'm learning that with these kid-oriented things, you are just a hostage. Just brace yourself and pray that it ends quickly. Pay the money and don't think about it. Now I've been through it I know better how to see the circus. Pay for the more expensive seats and buy everything. It's only once a year for a few years while your kids still think the circus is as wonderous as the tooth fairy.

Friday, November 17, 2006

They hate us for our video games

The end of the world is at hand. It's called the Sony PlayStation 3. I've watched with a bit of head shaking the news stories of people waiting in freezing cold lines for three days to buy one of the new game consoles. I read about some woman here in Chicago who is like eight months pregnant sleeping in the cold for a couple of days to get one. (I'm sure that kid is going to be a model citizen.) I saw some story about a guy getting shot while waiting in line for a PS3 by someone trying to rob the line. I saw the stampede of people trampling men, women, children, cats, dogs and parakeets to get into a Best Buy to pay $500.00 so they could play their little video games this weekend. I heard about the Ebay sale of a PlayStation 3 for $4,400.00 and have seen sales go off at $3,000.00. The market has adjusted to the supply and demand but as of 11:30 p.m. tonight Ebay auctions are going off every minute or so for around $2,000.00. Keep in mind in a few weeks or so they'll have so many PS3 game consoles you'll have to step over them just to get inside a Best Buy. But no matter, it's just the latest immediate gratification item that shows the festering underbelly of society in all its fetid glory. But affecting presidential politics? Say that again.

Turns out this nutty story will no doubt find its way into an attack ad real soon. Apparently, ex-Senator John Edwards, who will be running for president in 2008 is now caught up in PlayStationGate. The story goes like this: Elizabeth Edwards, John's wife, mentioned to some of his staff that their kids wanted a PS3 game console. The staff members mentioned it to some Edwards volunteers and one of the volonteers, who no doubt has already learned the first lession of politics - do favors for more powerful people so as to get ahead - went down to a local Wal-Mart and tried to get one for the ex-Senator. I'm sure he threw around Senator Edwards' name as in "Do you know who I work for?" and "The Senator would be extremely grateful to get a PlayStation 3." If that last phrase isn't embarrassing enough, Sen. Edwards is a huge critic of Wal-Mart. Oops. This one is ready made for a political ad. Ominous voice-over: "John Edwards says Wal-Mart is unfair to its employees but when the senator wanted to play Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby on Sony's new PlayStation 3 he sent one of his lackeys to do his dirty work. Did we mention the game is the unrated version?"

Wal-Mart has already tried to turn this into some presidential invalidating event by issuing a news release Thursday saying "that on the same day Edwards was criticizing the company in a conference call with union-backed activists, the volunteer staff member had asked a Raleigh, North Carolina, electronics department manager to obtain a PS3 for the ex-senator's family. From Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, company spokesman David Tovar said the person who called left a voicemail at the Raleigh store and identified himself as an Edwards staff member. When the manager returned the call, the staff member again identified himself as working for Edwards, and Wal-Mart said it confirmed that with Edwards' office. The retailer's news release accused Edwards of not wanting to wait his turn. While the rest of America's working families are waiting patiently in line, Senator Edwards wants to cut to the front," the Wal-Mart statement said."

The only line I want to cut in front of is the line getting off the planet. Between the pregnant lunatics who either wait in the freezing cold for three days to get a PS3 or the nuts who somehow have $4,400.00 to buy one on Ebay or Wal-Mart issuing a press release about a volunteer who name-dropped to get a video game console I want out. The patients are running the asylum and I just want to get out of the way. At least there isn't any stories about the violent nature of the games and how it's going to corrupt the youths of America because of course that's what does it. Rumor has it Hitler played a lot of Grand Theft Auto while listening to Eminem. But the Sony PlayStation 3 has only been out for 24 hours. Give it another day or two.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Iranian "Chutzpah"

From the "you just can't make this up file":

"Iran, whose president has vowed to wipe Israel off the map, complained to the United Nations on Wednesday that the Jewish state was repeatedly threatening to bomb it. The threats were "matters of extreme gravity" and the U.N. Security Council should condemn them and demand that Israel "cease and desist immediately from the threat of the use of force against members of the United Nations," Iranian U.N. Ambassador Javad Zarif said." To be fair, although Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to "wipe Israel off the map," a statement Iranian officials have argued was not a threat.

Am I crazy are or they? Or both? The reality of this unreality is that news from mainstream sources reads more and more like bits for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart or The Onion. To come up with a foreign policy strategy with hostile nations you have to know their intentions and capabilities. With North Korea we have a good idea of their capabilities now but we don't truly know what their intentions are because they are, well, insane. It's hard to negotiate with an insane person and so misunderstandings can occur. That's o.k. if you're trying to get out of talking to the guy in the street who thinks you're the voices in his head. But what if it's with a sovereign nation that has nuclear weapons? A misunderstanding can lead to hundreds of thousands of deaths. With Iran we don't know their capabilities and we don't know their intentions. This is how wars start. Now I'm not against war, in the words of Col. Flagg from M*A*S*H, "If it wasn't for war you wouldn't know what peace was." But the bottom line is what do you do with Iran?

I wouldn't be against setting their nuclear weapons program back by years through military force but with 140,000 of troops in Iraq, Iran would likely strike at them as payback and a wider war in the Middle East would likely be triggered. On the other hand, if you do nothing but talk to Iran (which we aren't doing) then prepare yourself for a nuclear Iran. When that happens the situation will be worse then trying to stop them. Once they go nuclear they'll never go back.

So the lesson for the day is: Iran is insane and trying to stop them from going nuclear is a bad option but letting them go nuclear is worse.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Better late than never

Looks like I missed some good news late last night. Apparently a recount for a congressional seat has knocked off another Republican incumbent. "Democrat Joe Courtney's victory over Rep. Rob Simmons in their U.S. House contest was confirmed Tuesday by a recount that stretched nearly a week and uncovered significant vote-counting flaws. Both parties monitored the recount and confirmed that Courtney had the final edge, although their figures differed. Republicans said their count showed Courtney winning by 96 votes, while Democrats had the margin at 93. Nearly 250,000 votes were cast." So while a few more races are contested here is another Democratic pick-up. Not a single Democratic incumbent lost in the House or Senate on November 7.

The other thing that comes to mind is that in nearly a quarter million votes to decide a congressional race it came down to less than 100 votes. The course of history was changed because of 537 votes in Florida in 2000. Your vote matters. It does. Just vote. The second thing that comes to mind is that our voting system is an embarrassment. In the not so distant past Olympic races were decided by eye-balling it. Judges would stand on the edge of the pool and when a racer touched the wall the judge would try to quickly see if anyone else was doing the same thing. So the guy who came in second could easily have been first. Of course it happened and happened a lot. That's how we do it today. We eyeball it. Wal-Mart can keep track of every Pop-Tart in their chain of distribution but we can't (won't) track every vote. You get a receipt when you buy a pack of gum but not when you vote. If your bank lost money you had deposited you wouldn't do business with them and that probably wouldn't be a problem since they would probably be out of business. Votes? We have no choice. We have to do business with every mope running an election using machines that inspired as much confidence as an airline pilot who crosses himself and rubs a rabbit's foot before takeoff. Spend the money and track the votes as well as we track Pop-Tarts. Otherwise we'll be just another banana republic. If we aren't that already.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Christmas. Bah. Humbug.

Not even Thanksgiving yet and it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Getting off the train, the station looked like Santa's elves had been working overtime all weekend. I guess we're just going to skip over Thanksgiving this year. All we need now is Fox News complaining about a "War on Christmas" for it to really feel like the most wonderful time of the year. Of course the Fox News memo telling its employees of its "holiday" party, not a "Christmas" party reminds me that they know what they peddle to their near dead audience is just an act. In any event, it's that time of year again.

It's the time of year again when a few family year in review letters will find their way into my mailbox. I hope they don't. Here's a news flash - I don't care. And I don't mean that in a routine I don't care kind of way. I mean I really, really don't care. Why do people think that anyone cares about whether little Betsy got that third understudy role in the school play? Sparky Jr. hit a triple in game 5 of the Pee Wee Little League World Series? Who cares. Your cat had kittens? Your house got a new kitchen? Next time send a gun and bullet with your brag letter so I can end it all before I get to the thrilling tale of your trip to the largest ball of string. Bang.

I can take a photo or two every now and then. That's what email is for. But a lengthy letter by snail mail, perhaps with a personalized stamp of your prized pooch, is just too much. You got a promotion, you went to Euro Disney and your kid was voted soccer player of the year for six-years-olds. If we weren't close enough for me to know that before you sent the letter then don't. Sometimes the letters aren't even brag letters. They're more like "here is my medical records for the last twelve months." You got sick and felt dizzy over the last year? Well I'm getting that way right now reading your God-damn letter.

So Please. I beg of you. No letters. If your life is so interesting as to be worthy of being memorialized in print - I'll wait for the book to come out.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I have a no rights!

At least this is one less right to have to worry about or study in law school:

"Immigrants arrested in the United States may be held indefinitely on suspicion of terrorism and may not challenge their imprisonment in civilian courts, the Bush administration said Monday, opening a new legal front in the fight over the rights of detainees. In court documents filed with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., the Justice Department said a new anti-terrorism law being used to hold detainees in Guantanamo Bay also applies to foreigners captured and held in the United States. Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar, was arrested in 2001 while studying in the United States. He has been labeled an "enemy combatant," a designation that, under a law signed last month, strips foreigners of the right to challenge their detention in federal courts. That law is being used to argue the Guantanamo Bay cases, but Al-Marri represents the first detainee inside the United States to come under the new law. Aliens normally have the right to contest their imprisonment, such as when they are arrested on immigration violations or for other crimes. "It's pretty stunning that any alien living in the United States can be denied this right," said Jonathan Hafetz, an attorney for Al-Marri. "It means any non-citizen, and there are millions of them, can be whisked off at night and be put in detention."

So Hafetz is just now figuring out that basic rights of not being disappeared in the middle of the night without a phone call, a lawyer or the right to challenge the imprisonment don't exist anymore in America? There is a legal phrase a lot of people use but don't understand, it's called "due process." When you are arrested, for example, you are entitled to "due process." What does that mean? Well, it doesn't mean perfect process or endless process. It means what process you are due. According to the Bush administration an "unlawful enemy combatant" is due no process. That should speed things up and reduce paperwork. And how is it that one is designated an "unlawful enemy combatant?" Well, President Bush decides you are and that's that. Oh, and before you think this only applies to "fer-ners" you'd better mute Deal or No Deal and read the law. If you can't find two brain cells to rub together to generate a spark of intelligence, take my word for it - U.S. citizens can be thrown into a black hole of a cell in a black site and become a fading memory to those that knew him. American citizens can be designated an "unlawful enemy combatant."

So meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Bush decides if you are an unlawful enemy combatant. You have no right to challenge your indefinite imprisonment - especially if you are completely innocent since finding that out might embarrass the government. And the government says this is all constitutional no matter if you are held in a prison on American soil. So the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that guarantees that no person shall be deprived "of their liberty, that is imprisoned, without "due process" has been turned into "any person shall be imprisoned if The Decider decides so and shall be deprived of their liberty so the terrorists don't win." I think they already have.

Friday, November 10, 2006

O.K. I'm back - But don't get used to it

I guess I couldn't stay away long. I was not going to post anything for a bit but then I read this article while having lunch. It's a heartwarming story about how Karl Rove at the request of soon to be indicted and imprisoned then-Governor George Ryan tried to get Ryan's own defense lawyer appointed as the U.S. Attorney who would try to prosecute Ryan. At has a nice Ripley's Believe It or Not feel to it.

The Chicago Tribune explains it this way, that former Republican U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald wanted to really have a fair and non-political U.S. Attorney to go after elected officials, Republicans and Democrats, in Illinois. Small problem though. Fitzgerald, like Diogenes searching with a lantern for an honest man in the streets of Athens, couldn't find a lawyer in the entire state of Illinois to do a fair and impartial job. Apparently, then-Gov. Ryan tried to influence the selection of the U.S attorney going so far as trying to get one of his defense attorneys selected as top federal prosecutor in northern Illinois. Ryan was later indicted and comvicted on corruption charges and was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison.

"There was an effort that I perceived [that] they were trying to influence the selection actually with one of George Ryan's legal defense team members," Fitzgerald said in remarks to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. "But I worked very hard to make sure that wouldn't happen." Ryan's lawyer, Edward McNally, later served as interim U.S. attorney for southern Illinois, and tried to protect Ryan when questioned by federal prosecutors.

"[Sen.] Fitzgerald said he picked New Yorker Patrick Fitzgerald (no relation) as U.S. attorney for Chicago in 2001 despite a warning by Karl Rove, President George Bush's top political strategist, not to go outside Illinois for a candidate. Fitzgerald said that prior to that warning, he had expressed concern to Rove that House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Ryan might try to undercut what he considered to be among his most important responsibilities. Despite the warning by Rove, Fitzgerald said he chose from outside Illinois because he contended at the time that he couldn't find any qualified Chicago attorneys without political connections. " Apparently, "Karl Rove called back and said if you will not appoint anyone [from] out of state, we'll let you pick anybody you want, as long as that person is from Chicago," he said, as laughter broke out at the lunch for the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. Yes, hilarious. I guess if you can't laugh at overt threats being made from the White House to U.S. Senators you would cry. To his credit, Republican Sen. Fitzgerald didn't cave in to the threats and went out and got an Untouchable who has done an amazing job here tossing corrupt politicians and their staffs in prison. (In his spare time he tried to indict Rove and did indict Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby over the CIA outing case.) And what did Sen. Fitzgerald get for his effort? Zero support from his party and he didn't run for re-election.

So I tried to to not blog anymore but it reminds me of a fable. A scorpion asked a frog at a river's edge to carry him across. The frog said "no, you'll sting me on the river and I'll die." The scorpion said, "No I won't. I can't swim and if I did that we would both drown." That made sense to the frog and agreed and the scorpion climbed on the frog's back. Halfway across the river the scorpion stung the frog and they started to sink into the water. The frog asked the scorpion, "Why did you do that? Now we'll both die. " The scorpion answered, "It's just my nature."

It's Rove's nature to be evil and it's my nature to blog.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I bid you all adieu

I started this blog about a year and a half ago as an outlet. A way to rant and rave. It was cheaper than therapy. Clinton famously said, "I feel your pain." I said to you all, "Please, feel my pain." Sharing it with you diluted the crankiness in me. But now it's a new day. The Democrats control the House and the Senate. The pessimist in me still thinks Lieberman or some other death or resignation will screw it up in the Senate but each day I get a bit more confident. I won't even rant and rave about 2008 and Hillary and Obama or whomever. Don't get me started. I can say if there was a way to not have a president for four years I'd start with 2008. But I am happy that at least for the next two years the right wing loons won't be able to get a kook (like Rick Santorum) on the Supreme Court. I'm happy that a lot of clowns in the Republican party have lost their jobs. Yes, I feel good about their public crash and burn. Payback's a bitch isn't it? I'm happy that the election results gave me a glimmer of hope that the election system actually works and that after being abused for so long the American people decided to get out of the relationship. Speaking of which. My brain is tired. I have devoted years and years of reading and writing about the clowns and mopes who run this country. It's physically draining. Going to the movies doesn't mean you're in the movie business and writing a political blog doesn't mean you're in politics. I'm going to take a break from the daily grind of trying to point out the insanity of the people running the world. I'll be back sooner rather than later but I have to re-charge my cranky batteries before I can start up again. Thanks for all the hits and comments. On the above average number of hits days it made it worthwhile. On the low visits days I thought, "It's like pearls before swine." Either way, thanks for listening. In the words of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, "I shall return." Ciao.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Election Day +1 (updated)(updated again)

Looks like I'm not leaving the country. Looks like I don't get to rant and rave about conspiracies. Some big House names just lost their jobs and it couldn't happen to nicer people. Some escaped getting squashed. Unfortunately invisible congressman Mark Kirk (IL-10) fooled his constituents again and won. He'll be shaking hands at the main train station in Chicago Wednesday morning and then flee to Washington where he'll hide for the next two years. If you thought he was irrelevant in a Republican Congress just wait to never hear from him again in a Democratic Congress. Looks like Mean Jean Schmidt will keep her job. Same with Tom Reynolds. Oh well. Can't win them all. But the night isn't over and Jim Webb is ahead in Virginia and George Allen's future is as dim as he is. Jon Tester is going to win Montana and Claire McCaskill could take Missouri which means a Democratic Senate. Maybe. Here's hoping.

Here is the list of people who just got booted out of their arrogant thrones. This is why I am smiling and will start unpacking my things tomorrow.

Sen. Rick Santorum (PA)
Sen. Mike DeWine (OH)
Sen. Conrad Burns (MT) - hopefully, looks likely
Rep. John Sweeney (NY)
Rep. Sue Kelly (NY)
Rep. John Hostettler (IN)
Rep. Charles Bass (NH)
Rep. Anne Northup (KY)
Rep. Clay Shaw (FL)
Rep. Chris Chocola (IN)
Rep. Nancy Johnson (CT)
Rep. Jim Ryun (KS)
Rep. Charles Taylor (NC)
Rep. Curt Weldon (PA)
Rep. Don Sherwood (PA)
Rep. J.D. Hayworth (AZ)
Rep. Heather Wilson (NM) - hopefully
Rep. Richard Pombo (CA) - hopefully, looks likely

Time to sleep and dream of a Democratic Senate that would protect us from more Alitos and Roberts and Janice Rodgers Brown. Time to pray that when I wake up this nation has awoken from the national nightmare that is Republican one-party rule.

Update: Wow. Missouri looks to go Democratic. McCaskill leading by over 25,000 votes and precincts are running out for Sen. Jim Talent. So much for the Republican firewall of Virginia and Missouri. Virginia - check. Missouri - check. Montana - check? Senate goes Democratic? I can't wait to see how Rove and his gang spin this as a win.

Update II: Wow. Wow. Wow. I mean wow. I go to sleep for a few hours and once again all hell breaks loose. Tester up in Montana by nearly 2,000 votes. Webb up in Virginia by over 12,000 votes? It's not over but I'd rather be in our position than theirs. Still, In the words of now ex-Rep. John Sweeney, they might "shut it down" and bring in the mobs to intimidate the election officials and recounters. I think Florida isn't Virginia so I'm ready to say "Democratic Senate!" Although Heather Wilson looks like she will keep her job the House looks like 200 for Republicans and 235 for Democrats. Huge ass kicking. I'm ready to say Republicans got their clocks cleaned. I'm ready to say Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. I'm ready to say The Curmudgeon is happy -- but don't get used to it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


This is it. D-Day. We hit the beaches early to affect regime change in America. The resistance has been ferocious but ultimately it will fail. The forces of good will defeat the forces of evil. We will not go quietly into that goodnight. You can have my freedoms when you pry them from my cold dead hands. Viva La Resisrance.

Turnout has been huge locally in Illinois' 10th Congressional District. Like a presidential election turnout but greater. The fun begins after the polls close on the East coast. If key congressional districts go Democratic it will be a great night for Democrats nationwide. Here's hoping. Here's praying that the will of the people will actually be heard.

I'll be back later when pollsstart closing to report on my level of crankiness.

Monday, November 06, 2006

D-Day minus 1

I veer between giddiness and despair. Let me rephrase that. Most days I veer between giddiness and despair today amplify that by a 100 times. Election eve or as I like to refer to it as D-Day minus 1. Alternatively, America Held Hostage, Day 2125. So I've been watching all the polls and it is very good news for the Democrats. So here is where I swerve into despair territory. The polls were in our favor in 2000 and 2004 at least in the presidential elections. My thoughts are that I am increasingly worried that our election system is not broken, it's fixed. And when I say "fixed" I don't mean that in a good way. We'll know tomorrow starting when the east coast polls are closed. If all of a sudden the races fall the Republican way, especially in Maryland and Virginia, let alone Pennsylvania then you will have to beat me to Travelocity for a one-way ticket out of the Banana Republic of America.

In my college days I used to dismiss the conspiracy nuts and the wild-eyed types arguing that this country is really controlled by a small group of people. If Rick Santorum wins in Pennsylvania you can call me a nut too. If Mike DeWine wins in Ohio call me a conspiracy theorist too. That's my greatest fear. If any of that happens I won't just pack up the blog and go home, I'll pack up my home and go blog - from the Cayman Islands. In the words of Rhoda Morgenstern, "America, this is your last chance."

So I invite everyone over to my election command central tomorrow night. If things go well for the Democrats we can celebrate by popping the cork on a whole bunch of Mums. (Meet the Parents lovers you know what I mean.) If Santorum and/or DeWine win you all can help me pack up my things for shipping.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Oh, more good news

From the Times of London: Six Arab states join rush to go nuclear. Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, UAE and Saudi Arabia seek atom technology.

Yes, just what we need, more good news. And I didn't think I could feel any worse than I did a few minutes ago. I don't think we need a National Intelligence Estimate to estimate how deep in the doo-doo we really are now. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld put us there and they insist, all doo-doo to the contrary, that it doesn't stink. In fact it smells like everything's coming up roses. Those guys sure know how to self-fertilize.

So now we have a nuclear arms race by countries that harbor the same Islamic fundamentalists who want to get ahold of nuclear arms. If you believe in the End of Times and the Rapture this is all good news. For everyone else Left Behind it means the hell on Earth we currently have to endure under this administration will continue before, during and after that mushroom cloud Condi longs for. If you are looking for any spiritual guidance on this issue don't bother Rev. Ted Haggard. He's busy collecting an award for the worst explanation since "I didn't inhale." Tell your wife that you got a naked massage by a guy in a hotel room and bought meth from him but you didn't engage in gay sex and threw the meth away and see what she says. Haggard's wife justs sits there like this happens to her everyday. I guess I'll have to look for comfort somewhere else.

At least before the Earth is turned into a charcoal briquette there may be a small window of opportunity where the Democrats take over Congress and try to drag the White House into a neat place called reality. As Andrew Sullivan righty argues, this isn't an election this is an intervention. But back to the Islamic nuclear arms race.

Feel safer now than you did five years ago? Feel Iraq has made you safer? Believe Rumsfeld is doing "a fantastic job?" Think a vote for Democrats mean the terrorists win? Surprised to know the 9-11 commission recommendations have not been enacted by the Republican president and Republican Congress? (Since Bush was against the 9-11 commission being against its recommendations is at least consistent in a cravenly political way.) Think we're ready for the next Katrina or the bird flu? Think we could invade another country right now if it needed invading? Think Afghanistan is going well? Think we're winning? If so then you should vote Republican and hang around for the intervention coming to a voting booth near you November 7.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Winning isn't everything, it's the way to lose your job

In the Bush administration if you do your job well you get fired.First there was Lt. Commander Charles Swift. He's the lawyer who represented Salim Hamdan, a Gitmo enemy combatant before the Supreme Court. Swift argued that the military commissions were unconstitutional and won. The National Law Journal ranked Swift as one of the top 100 lawyers in the country. Swift's reward for standing against the Bush administration's kangaroo courts and winning the case in the Supreme Court? He got kicked out of the military. Swift was passed over for promotion and in the up and out world of the military that means you need to pack your things and move on. The denial of promotion to Navy commander happened about two weeks after the Supreme Court ruled the White House.

Now there is the case of another lawyer, Stuart W. Bowen Jr. Bowen, a Republican who worked for George W. Bush in Texas and the White House, heads the Office od Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. His investigations "in Iraq have sent American occupation officials to jail on bribery and conspiracy charges, exposed disastrously poor construction work by well-connected companies like Halliburton and Parsons, and discovered that the military did not properly track hundreds of thousands of weapons it shipped to Iraqi security forces." Bowen's reward for his good work? A Medal of Freedom? No. A promotion to a job that doesn't require wearing bullet-proof vests? No. A simple thank you? Nope. Bowen got a pink slip. And not just him but the entire office. They were legislatively deleted.

The New York Times reports that, "tucked away in a huge military authorization bill that President Bush signed two weeks ago" Bowen and his office were de-funded. "The order comes in the form of an obscure provision that terminates his federal oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, on Oct. 1, 2007. The clause was inserted by the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee over the objections of Democratic counterparts during a closed-door conference, and it has generated surprise and some outrage among lawmakers who say they had no idea it was in the final legislation. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who followed the bill closely as chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, says that she still does not know how the provision made its way into what is called the conference report, which reconciles differences between House and Senate versions of a bill." Shocked. Shocked I tell you!

"Neither the House nor the Senate version contained such a termination clause before the conference, all involved agree. "It’s truly a mystery to me,” Ms. Collins said. “I looked at what I thought was the final version of the conference report and that provision was not in at that time. The one thing I can confirm is that this was a last-minute insertion,” she said." Maybe it wrote itself in the bill. Maybe what we need is a Office of Legislative Oversight to do oversight on the legislature that doesn't do any oversight.

So the moral of the story is do your job as incompetently as possible and the world is your oyster. Do your job well and your job security in government will shrink to the size of an oyster.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hypocrite sundae with a cherry on top

The hypocrites in the Republican party are working overtime today. Republicans, who like to call themselves "tough on crime," all become civil liberty lovers when a prosecutor is on their case. Take Ann Coulter. And when I say "take her" I mean please, take her. Anybody take her somewhere, drop her off and leave her there. Coulter the boney, hate monger and political vaudeville act is refusing to cooperate in an investigation into whether she committed a felony by voting in the wrong precinct. I seem to remember her and the entire Republican party argue that the warrantless wiretapping of Americans in America to find al Qaeda phone calls was no big deal since, "if you're not making calls to al Qaeda you have nothing to worry about." Hey Ann, if you didn't intentionally vote in the wrong place and didn't commit a felony in Florida punishable up ro five years in prison then you have nothing to worry about so cooperate. That's the argument that would allow you and your house and your car and anything else to be searched whenever the police wanted to since, "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to worry about." Get used to that phrase because if the Republicans keep control of the government that's where we are headed.

A complaint was made against Coulter alleging that she voted in the wrong precinct during a Feb. 7 Palm Beach town council election. Since then, the Elections Supervisor has made repeated attempts to resolve the matter with Coulter and her attorney but has been rebuffed. An initial letter was sent to Coulter requesting that she clarify her address for the voting records ``or face the possibility of her voter registration being rescinded.'' Three more letters were sent to Coulter and her attorney over the next several months, but she has yet to respond with the information requested. Knowingly voting in a wrong precinct is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison. I guess all that Republican talk about submitting to the authority of government for the good of society only goes so far.

Then there is Republican Majority leader John Boehner who just blamed the military for the mess in Iraq. On CNN Boehner had the following exchange with Wolf Blitzer:

Boehner: ...[L]et's not blame what's happening in Iraq on Rumsfeld.

Blitzer: But he's in charge of the military.

Boehner: But the fact is the generals on the ground are in charge and he works closely with them and the president.

Republican Majority leader blaming the troops and not a peep from the "oh my lord did you hear what John Kerry said" crowd. That's because hypocrisy has no internal logic. Sort of like our local congressman Republican Mark Kirk (IL-10), who is going to lose next tuesday, arguing the Democratic challenger, Dan Seals doesn't live in the congressional district when Kirk didn't live in the district before he got elected in 2000. The "party of personal responsibility" blaming the generals for Iraq. Marvelous.

And for the cherry on top? President Bush said Wednesday he wants Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney to remain with him until the end of his presidency, extending a job guarantee to two of the most-vilified members of his administration. "Both those men are doing fantastic jobs and I strongly support them," Bush said in an interview with The Associated Press and others. A "fantastic job?" I don't even think they would say that about themselves. My favorite quotable blogger Andrew Sullivan put it this way in a blog post entitled, "Unhinged":

"George W. Bush just gave the most powerful reason for voting Democratic next Tuesday. He has reiterated unconditional support for the two architects of the chaos in Iraq, Cheney and Rumsfeld. He intends to keep Rumsfeld in his job until 2008! Why not a medal of freedom while he's at it?

Let me put this kindly: anyone who believes that Donald Rumsfeld has done a "fantastic job" in Iraq is out of his mind. The fact that such a person is president of the United States is beyond disturbing. But then this is the man who told Michael Brown he was doing a "heckuva job." And, yes, our Iraq policy begins to look uncannily like the Katrina response.

The president, in other words, has just proved that he is utterly unhinged from reality, in a state of denial truly dangerous for the world. He needs an intervention. Think of this election as an intervention against a government in complete denial and capable of driving the West off a cliff. You can't merely abstain now. Bush just raised the stakes. And he must be stopped."

That's a big cherry on top.