Monday, July 31, 2006
Lebanese/Hezbollah using dead children as props
Green Helmet man poses with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck after receiving his best use of a dead child Oscar.
Warning, these pictures are graphic. (Via Rush Limbaugh) Local officials are posing the dead for AP photographers.
Whatever else, the event in Qana was a human tragedy. But the photographs do not show it honestly. Rather, they have been staged for effect, exploiting the victims in an unwholesome manner. In so doing, they are no longer news photographs - they are propaganda. And, whoever said the camera cannot lie forgot that photographers can and do. Those lies have spread throughout the world by now and will be in this morning's newspapers, accepted as real by the millions who view them.
The profession of photo-journalism thereby is sadly diminished by them, and the trust in those who took them and in those who carried them is misplaced. Truly, we are dealing with loathesome creatures.
Sunday, July 30, 2006
The Qana Attack
Evidence has been presented that the Israeli attack on a building in Qana, Lebanon came after rockets were fired near that building. That there might be more to the story; i.e., the building did not collapse immediately and there was some staging of this event. I have watched Fox News playing supposed Israeli footage showing Katushya rockets being fired from that location. What is driving me nuts is that no one is trying to put 2 and 2 together. First, are those actual videos of rockets coming from the vicinity of the building? Second, is there any evidence that the building did not collapse immediately? I suspect we will learn more in the near future but I don't know if the information will be of much use. Hezbollah seems to control the ground in that area and I doubt that they are going to allow autopsies on the dead. I want to know the truth of this but I am left falling back on my assumptions of the actors in this play. That leaves me with an uncomfortable feeling and that is exactly what Hezbollah might be trying to create inside the U.S. Therefore, it is incumbent upon Israel to present all its information on the events in Qana and to be completely upfront and honest.
I want to believe Israel but I am also a person of conscious. They are in a tough position so I am willing to give then the benefit of the doubt as far as intent but I would love to have more proof that Hezbollah is lying to turn American public opinion.
Friday, July 28, 2006
The Hardest Beat Ever?
Cardplayer.com reports from this year's World Series of Poker:
Jack Mahalingam is all-in for $5,000 and is called an opponent in late position. Mahalingam shows 8s, 8c and his opponent has 5h, 5c. The flop is 6s, 5s, 5d and his opponent flops quads. The turn is the 9s giving Mahalingam a gut-shot straight flush draw (his only way to win). The river is the 7s giving Mahalingam the straight flush and the hand.But not a bad beat considering Mahalingam was a pre-flop favorite of 4 to 1. Still, excluding the possibility of running eights, the odds against the turn and river falling Mahalingam's way were 455 to 1.
This is a documentary on what is happening in the Muslim world and what it is that we face in the war on terror. The film features a former PLO terrorist, the daughter of a Egyptian man who martyred himself fighting Israel, and other Muslim's warning the west that radical Muslim's are using the same propaganda techniques as the Nazis to indoctrinate their populations, especially the young. There is a segment which discusses pacificism in the face of Islamo-fascism and predicts the same outcome to a 'peace in our time' attitude. Like Nazi Germany, today's Middle East is not just their problem. It cannot be ignored because it exists to spread its hate filled ideology. (At minute 43 you will hear Michael Moore giving his talking point, "There is no terrorist threat.") If you hear the words of the leaders of this death cult you will not be able to bury your head.
Also, discussed in the film is the left's peculiar penchant for looking inward for the solution to the problem. The conceit that if they hate us we must have done something wrong. What is necessary is a close look at radical Muslim's propaganda in the Middle East. Translated broadcasts of news and entertainment shows the most vile libel against the western world. It is truly chilling watching a three year old girl coaxed into hatred by a woman. The above link is to google video. Click on it and you can watch the documentary. It lasts 1:17, so you have no excuse. I fear that too many people do not understand the threat we face and that we can stand up to this threat now and save ourselves much bloodshed or we can wait and live with the consequences. It was George Orwell who said pacifism equaled pro-fascism. It is time to pick sides.
Glut of unsold new homes across US hits record high
The government said the inventory of unsold new homes on the market rose 0.7 percent in June to a record 566,000, representing a 6.1-month supply of brand new homes at the June sales pace.
Most of the unsold new homes are located in the south of the country, the report showed.
Apart from a slight one month drop in the inventory in May, the stock of unsold new homes on the market has risen steady over the last 12 months.
"Many individuals, who signed a (purchase) contract in what they had believed was a booming housing market, may now be backing out of those contracts," said Phillip Neuhart, an analyst at Wachovia Securities.
"Thus, the new home market is likely weaker than new home sales reflects. We expect both existing and new home sales to continue their slide throughout this year and the next," Neuhart said.
How about the sale of new motor homes? I hear they are doing well. (Inside Brain Droppings reference.)
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Sorry, but my children bore me to death!
By Andrea Yates.
There are so many subtitles to this article it is making my head spin. Worst mother in the world winning essay. Me, me, me, how children fit into my life. How to guarantee an ackward Christmas. Narcissus, "I stared into a pond and turned into Helen Kirwan-Taylor." I bet you think I am being harsh? If so then I bet you haven't read the article yet.
To be honest, I spent much of the early years of my children's lives in a workaholic frenzy because the thought of spending time with them was more stressful than any journalistic assignment I could imagine.
Kids are supposed to be fulfilling, life-changing, life-enhancing fun: why was my attitude towards them so different?
She begins many of her revelatory sentences with phrases promising honesty and I take her at her word. Afterall, it would be psychopathic to write a long essay about how painful it is to spend time with your children. Unless she is setting up the Yates defense. The only advice I can give to those children is to start taking showers. To answer Ms. Kirwan-Taylor's question, because you are self-absorbed and you should not have had children. For people like you children are an accessory. A totem of a successful life. "My name is Helen Kirwan-Taylor, Look at my husband, children, house ye other overeducated narcissists and despair!"
Psychotherapist Kati St Clair has listened to the frustrations of scores of mothers. 'Women now feel great pressure to enjoy their children at all times,' she says. 'The truth is, a lot of it is plain tedium. It's very unlikely that a mother doesn't love her child, but it can be very dull. Still, it takes a brave woman to admit that.'
All us bored mothers can take comfort from the fact that our children may yet turn out to be more balanced than those who are love-bombed from the day they are born. [Emphasis added.]
Because that is the problem with the world today- over loved children. WOW! I mean really wow. It does not take a lot of guts to admit that children can be exasperating but it does take gigantic chutzpah to say that withholding your attention is the path to a well adjusted child. Helen, girlfriend, its not about you any more. I don't know what you expected when you had children. Was the first one exciting and the second one just dull as dishwater? Or maybe you just got tired of the daily routine that you did not see coming because this has never happened to anyone else in world history. So you were blindsided. Well TOUGH. Suck it up and play a damn board game with your kids.
Seriously, what is the English equivalent of CPS?
Frankly, as long as you've fed them, sheltered them and told them they are loved, children will be fine. Mine are — at the risk of sounding smug — well-adjusted, creative children who respect the concept of work. They also accept my limitations.
They stopped asking me to take them to the park (how tedious) years ago. But now when I try to entertain them and say: 'Why don't we get out the Monopoly board?' they simply look at me woefully and sigh: 'Don't bother, Mum, you'll just get bored.'
How right they are.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Think rising rates won't affect you? Think again
Savage lists the reasons for a bear given by market historian James Stack after which she gives her opinion about what will really hurt the average American:
Those facts and more have Jim Stack deeply worried about a bear market. But here's my prediction: While a potential bear market will get all the headlines when and if it comes, far more damage will be done to the personal finances of American families by the impact of rising rates on their ability to stay in their family home.
The obituary of the debt-ridden American home-owner has been written and re-written over the past five years. But the "resilient" consumer economy has managed to survive all the dire predictions.
Maybe these articles compiled by Stack in his newsletter will open some eyes.
From the Associated Press: "The number of homes still on the market at the end of May climbed to an all time high -- 3.6 million units . . . At the May sales pace it would take 6.5 months to exhaust that inventory, the highest level since May 1997."
From Alan Abelson in Barrons: "The U.S. banking system is more exposed to the real-estate sector than at any time since the end of World War II [with] $3 trillion in direct mortgage loans sitting on their books -- a record 43 percent of bank assets."
And Stack collects reports from papers around the country: In metropolitan Phoenix, sales of existing homes were down 34 percent in May vs. a year ago. In Las Vegas, a record 20,515 unsold homes and condos are on the market, up from 10,555 a year ago, and 4,553 in 2004. During the same period San Diego homes took their "largest ever" plunge, down $15,000 since April. [Emphasis added.]
She ends with the warning that you have a finite amount of time to act on this information because by the time you read about falling prices in the paper it will too late to act.
This moment reminds me of the few days before the NASDAQ market top in March 2000 when Mark Mobius and Abby Joseph Cohen warned about speculation in Tech stocks. Mobius was a skeptic and Cohen had been a lead cheerleader for the market but both were respected market participants/analysts and that got peoples attention. I think that people are paying attention to the bad news and it is starting to sink in. Let the panic begin!
Diego adds: Has there ever been a time when BillC didn't predict gloom and doom in the markets?!
Back in January I attended a luncheon held by the Executive's Club of Chicago (don't ask what I was doing there!) hosted by Terry Savage. One of the speakers, Sam Zell, whose real estate opinion was eagerly anticipated by the audience shed some light on the market situation. His opinion was that housing prices would not fall but rather remain steady for quite some time. An interesting point he made about the recent rise in home values over the past ten years was that there has been an increase in the number of buyers on the market due to the fact that young people are getting married later in life. There are more single people in the late 20's and early 30's buying homes as individuals rather than as couples.
Terry Savage did not give a housing opinion at the time that I can recall. Zell did however answer some of the ant-Bush comments from the other speakers as politics crept into the opinions. When addressing the U.S. image abroad he countered the negativity displayed by relating the most often asked question he hears when foriegner's speak of America: "Where the FUCK is my visa?" People want to come here he said. It's better here than anywhere else.
Bill C adds:
Has there ever been a time when BillC didn't predict gloom and doom in the markets?!
To answer your question, yes but I have always believed that our stock market has been historically overvalued and, therefore, a bad place to invest your money. To further clarify, investing means, to me, leaving your money in the market for a decade or more. The stock markets volitility only smooths out if you leave your money over a period of time. There are times when it is better to sit in gov't securities. In my defense I started studying markets in 1990 and became bearish when the ratio of stock market capitalization/GDP exceeded the 1929 levels. Since then, as you may know, we have experienced the biggest asset price bubble in recorded history. Now it is understandable that the current state of affairs might seem normal to you. You have lived all of your adult life at a time when it is normal for assets like stocks and housing to increase multiples in short periods of time.
I look at it this way. If I started studying the market in 1920 and had warned of a bubble and against investing in the stock market I would look pretty stupid in 1929. In a few years when the bear market has run its course I will be bullish. In 10-15 years when it is possible to buy a house for 1/3rd of current prices I will invest in real estate. By then, I will know that I am investing for the long term.
Realtors: Home sales now a 'buyer's market'
Sales of existing homes fell in June for the eighth time in the past 10 months while home prices edged up at the slowest pace in more than a decade — more signs that the housing market has slowed dramatically.
Yes, prices were up year-over-year. A whopping 0.9%. But inventories continue to grow and that just means it is a matter of time.
"The change in price performance is directly tied to housing inventories - a year ago we had a lean supply of homes and a sellers' market, with monthly home sales at an all-time record high," David Lereah, chief economist for the group, said in a statement. "Sellers have recognized that they need to be more competitive in their pricing given the rise in housing inventories."
The inventory of homes for sale on the market is now at 3.7 million, up a whopping 39 percent from a year ago. That resulted in a 6.8-month supply of homes for sale at the current sales pace, up from only a 4.4-month supply in June 2005.
Monday, July 24, 2006
USS ALBACORE Portsmouth, NH
Sunday, July 23, 2006
A good laugh from Bob Hope
Don't tell them what Adidas stands for
Parvin Heydari, an Iranian mother of two, was flipping back and forth between the nightly news and Oprah when a bulletin on an Iranian state channel caught her attention. It urged Iranians to boycott what it called "Zionist products," including those made by Pepsi, Nestlé and Calvin Klein, and warned that profits from such products "are converted into bullets piercing the chests of Lebanese and Palestinian children." As evidence, the voice-over intoned, "Pepsi stands for 'pay each penny to save Israel.'" Heydari says she changed the channel, as she has no intention of crossing Nestlé's Nesquik off her shopping list. "Lebanon has nothing to do with us," she says. "We should mind our own business and concentrate on policies that are good for our economy, and our kids." [Emphasis added.]
Oprah? Does she do a special Farsi episode or do they digitally add hajibs?
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Somebody is messing with Fox News
First, Skype made their outgoing calls to landlines and cellphones in the US free. Now, Gizmo VOIP is giving them the "Nyah Nyah" by giving away international phone calls to real numbers in 60+ countries. They, unbelievably, call it their All Calls Free plan.
Yes, it even allows calls to landlines and cellphones. Russia is included! Yeah! John and I are hanging out tonight. Perhaps watching the Sox win a game, sheesh. I will try this next week. It should save me about $75 a month. Yeah!
Leiberman down in the polls
WSJ: Housing Price Squeeze In Majority Of Metro Areas
A quarterly survey conducted by The Wall Street Journal reveals that nearly three quarters of the nation's 26 major metro areas are lowering real estate prices as inventories mount. The survey adds to the evidence that the U.S. housing market is facing a severe downturn, if not a recession.
In 23 out of 26 metro areas surveyed by the Journal, the inventory of homes for sale is growing. And in some cases it's skyrocketing. In Orlando, FL, the number of homes for sale is five times higher than it was a year ago. In Phoenix, AZ and Tampa, FL, inventory has quadrupled. Washington, D.C. has seen its inventory triple in the past year.
So it's no wonder that sellers are slashing prices. In 19 out of 26 metro areas, the price of homes is trending down. It's even happening in some areas where jobs are plentiful, traditionally a sign of a healthy market. Phoenix, Orlando, and Las Vegas, Nev. all have very strong employment outlooks according to the survey, but falling prices.
The National Association of Realtors expects home sales to fall 6.7 percent from the 2005 peak. Richard Smith, vice chairman and president of Cendant spin-off Realogy Corp. says that even with the decline in sales, 2006 "will be the third best year in the history of the business."
However, Scott Anderson, senior economist at Wells Fargo, disagrees. Anderson says that falling prices may prompt sellers to "get out with what they can," says the Journal.
William Wheaton, a housing economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tells the Journal "formerly hot local markets may be heading into five or 10 years of flat to slightly higher home prices" because of the trend of baby boomers selling expensive homes in favor of cheaper areas.
Wheaton also names other factors that could damage the housing market even more, such as investors and second-home owners dumping properties and loan defaults on properties.
Friday, July 21, 2006
Not Sleeping with the Enemy
Well, actually, not sleeping which is what happens when you are woken up at night and not able to get enough REM sleep.
A man's brainpower, scientists say, can be damaged by sharing a bed. When they spend the night with a partner, their sleep patterns are disturbed, whether they make love or not.
This leads to poorer mental agility the next day.
Women do not suffer from the same problem. They have disturbed sleep if they share a bed, but tend to get better quality rest when they do drop off and their brain power remains undiminished.
This goes double for me. I am woken up really easily and have a hard time sharing a bed. Recently I purchased an alarm clock from Homedics which produces six types of white noise. That helps block out the noise coming from the street. Now I just have to find a way to keep the bed still.
Gritty McDuff's. Portland, Maine
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Nasrallah speaks, vows surprises
"Hizbullah has so far stood fast, absorbed the strike and has retaken the initiative and made the surprises that it had promised, and there are more surprises," he said, warning that a Hizbullah defeat would be "a defeat for the entire Islamic nation."
John O adds: The image conveyed by this photo isn't one of those promised surprises:
The highlight of Annan’s visit to Beirut was his meeting on Tuesday with Nasrallah, June 20, 2000. (photo: Reuters)
We know what to expect from the UN.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Central Park, NYC
Monday, July 17, 2006
Conservative YouTube Group
Oh, I am amusing.
It is worth looking at putting up conservative content on YouTube but from the description of Digg it seems that it would be easy just to get into a pointless rating war which conservatives won't win. Afterall, we have jobs.
I have the misfortune to do business near a particular liberal church which prides itelf on being gay-friendly. I have asked them repeatedly not to use my parking lot for their overflow. I used to allow them this privilege, until the day came where one of their ministers called me a bigot for refusing to donate to one of their leftist causes. Since no abject apology has been forthcoming, the privilege was rescinded. Weeks of gentle reminders and empty assurances profited me nothing. I had twelve cars towed the past Thursday. I plan to spend my Sunday morning seeing if I can have some more towed. Moral of the story: Do not start with me. You will lose.
There is a lot more, read the whole thing.
The company you keep
I was very disappointed to hear that the Vatican had joined such an undistinguished group in calling for Israel to stop defending itself. As someone who went to a Catholic high school in the 1980's it does not surprise me that there are political tensions similar to society at large; liberation theology et al. However, there are changes are being made by Benedict XVI which could prevent the church from siding with the likes of these:
ROMA, July 14, 2006 – Benedict XVI’s second summer as pope opened with a lightning visit to Valencia, Spain, and will close with a visit to his native land of Bavaria, from September 9 to 14. He has already announced, after his return to Rome, that his first act of governance will be the change of the secretary of state, with cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (see photo) replacing cardinal Angelo Sodano.
Benedict XVI’s initial plans did not include making the announcement as early as he did, with an official statement last June 22. But the resistance he encountered within the curia convinced him to nip the opposition in the bud.
More than diplomacy, it is important to Benedict XVI that his secretary of state be highly skilled “in pastoral practice and doctrinal understanding.” And Bertone, in the pope’s view, has both of these prerequisites: apart from being a professor of canon law and rector of the pontifical university of his order, the Salesians, he was the bishop of Vercelli, and most recently of Genoa. [Emph. added.]
Some are taking the Cox & Forkum cartoon as being anti-Catholic.
Pro Ecclesia * Pro Familia * Pro Civitate
Unfair Cartoon Open Book
I suppose if you were predisposed to finding offense then you might say that. Of course, you could just look at it as an exaggeration for effect and then debate the point of the cartoon. So lighten up, Francis.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
US 'could be going bankrupt'
The United States is heading for bankruptcy, according to an extraordinary paper published by one of the key members of the country's central bank.
A ballooning budget deficit and a pensions and welfare timebomb could send the economic superpower into insolvency, according to research by Professor Laurence Kotlikoff for the Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis, a leading constituent of the US Federal Reserve.
According to his central analysis, "the US government is, indeed, bankrupt, insofar as it will be unable to pay its creditors, who, in this context, are current and future generations to whom it has explicitly or implicitly promised future net payments of various kinds''.
The US is going bankrupt in the same way that I am living in indentured servitude because I promised my wife the moon when we were courting. In other words, it is a promise that no one believes. If anyone tells me they are counting on Social Security to survive I will call them a liar. And if they do say that they better be in favor of open borders.
There are other potentially disasterous financial calamities on the horizon but a failure to meet promised
Thursday, July 13, 2006
I was reading something about the administration reconceiving the war on terror as a long war. Don't ask me where, I often read a lot over the course of the day and if I don't make a special effort to save it then whatever I have read is hopelessly lost to me. What the article got me thinking about is how far is Israel going to go in this war. Are they so fed up with Hezbollah that they are going to take on Syria? I doubt there will be an invasion of Syria but they would do us an incredible favor if they decapitated the regime. (That is a euphemism for whacking Little Assad.)
Something else I found amazing is that the Europeans are not raising too much of a stink about Israel's attempts at self defense. Maybe they will tomorrow but usually they are pretty quick to condemn Israel. Another odd occurrence that made today somewhat surreal.
So keep an eye on the stock market. The S&P futures were down after the close of pit trading and given that we have had two days in a row of weakness it is not good news to see this. The Nasdaq took out its June 6th low, the lowest point since the tops put in around May 9th, but the Dow and S&P 500 have a ways to go before they take out those lows. That will be a critical point allowing me to say, "Ahhh, we are all dooooomed." So enjoy the weekend, the apocalypse might start next week. :-)
Remember what I said about being surprised about the Europeans being quiet. This has my wow meter pegged.
In a significant move, Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s political heavyweight and economic powerhouse, accused Hizbullah guerrillas - without naming them - of “uncalculated adventures” that could precipitate a new Middle East crisis. A Saudi official quoted by the state Saudi Press Agency said the Lebanese Hizbullah’s brazen capture of two Israeli soldiers was not legitimate. The kingdom “clearly announces that there has to be a differentiation between legitimate resistance (to Israel) and uncalculated adventures.”
Via Hot Air.
Alan Newton Freed after 22 Years
The victim's "rape kit" was found in a police storage unit after the Police Department had repeatedly said it had been destroyed.
Can you imagine sitting in prison for 22 years knowing you where innocent. The evidence that might exonerate you supposedly destroyed.
In prison, Mr. Newton had repeatedly rejected a slot in a sex offender treatment program, which could have led to an early release. He thought it would have been tantamount to an admission of guilt, he said yesterday.
Would you do anything to get out? Including bowing to the system and admitting guilt. I know I would.
Mr. Newton must have the patience of a saint. What a remarkable man. It is because of cases like this I believe that DNA testing for sexual assault must be mandatory and I am highly skeptical of the Duke rape case.
Most important, he said, he wanted to see his mother's grave in New Jersey. She died shortly after he was sent to prison.
"The stress killed her," said Mr. Newton's brother, Anthony Newton. "It's that simple."
For his part, Alan Newton seemed intent on moving forward. "I try not to stay angry," he said, "because if you stay angry, you can't grow."
I saw Mr Newton on Hannity & Snivelling Twerp tonight. He had a sense of peace about him and creditted his faith and his family for getting him through his time in prison. I really admire him for this. Hannity noted his calm and what a powerful presence he had. I agree, his goodwill was palpable. I wish I could find that kind of peace. Maybe I should go to prison. No. Thanks. (I hope nobody I don't like turns up dead tomorrow.)
Wilson, Plame Considering Civil Suit
Wilson would have to be really dumb to expose himself and his wife to the rigors of discovery in a civil action. I have always wondered how two civil servants were able to afford an expensive home in one of Washington's finest neighborhoods, for example. Wilson has gotten kid glove treatment from the press. He may just be stupid enough to expose himself to an adversary equipped with subpoena power.
Oh that would be good. I hope Mrs. Wilson is smarter than her husband. Wait, no I don't.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Deborah Frisch, a professor, has stepped over the line and threatened to do nasty things to the son of Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom.
Time to start weeding out the moonbats from our schools.
From the Urban dictionary:
Internet term. Verb. To invalidate your position in an online debate by making thinly veiled threats against the life or sexual dignity of your opponent's spouse or child.A classic frisching: "If some nutcase kidnapped your child tomorrow and did to him what was done to your fellow Coloradan, Jon-Benet Ramsey, I wouldn’t give a damn."
Deb Frisch is trying to claim victim status. This woman teaches young adults. Ewwwww.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Corruption in Chicago
Former patronage chief Robert Sorich and Sorich's chief lieutenant, Tim McCarthy, were each convicted of two counts of mail fraud for working the scheme while at the mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.Sorich didn't call a single witness in his defense.
Their high-ranking colleagues in the city's Streets and Sanitation Department were convicted as well: Patrick Slattery of one count of mail fraud and John Sullivan of one count of lying to the FBI.
"As we listened to the testimony, as we came together as a single voice, it became evident to all of us that what we saw was wrong. There were fundamental problems in the hiring process in the city of Chicago for many, many years," said jury foreman S. Jay Olshansky, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Friday, the Sun-Times editorialized:
The jury has spoken: Four men charged with rigging the city hiring process to favor political workers are guilty of at least some of the counts against them. And while Mayor Daley's patronage system was not named as a defendant, we can now say it has been convicted of existing, something that seems obvious to any City Hall observer but runs contrary to the mayor's and his administration's repeated claims. Chances are that more charges will follow.Everyone in the city seemed to know this except the city's top lawer, who testified ignorance. The presiding judge called her testimony 'incredible.' Today's Sun-Times editorializes:
Prosecutors argued that the mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs ran "a corrupt clout machine" that routinely handed out jobs to political workers. Perhaps the most damning evidence was a secret 60-page list of the names of more than 5,700 applicants for jobs and promotions, including their political sponsors. The evidence was backed up by the testimony of the secretary who kept the list. "It was about politics, it was about clout, it was about who you know," Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie B. Ruder said in her closing arguments.
Consider the infamous list of more than 5,700 names that was also one the trial's highlights. The list, which was supposed to remain secret, was kept by the mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs to track job applicants and their political sponsors. It includes the names of scores of people who knew that if you wanted to get a job for a friend, relative or political supporter, you contact the IGA. The Rev. Jack Wall, pastor of Old St. Patrick's Church downtown -- Mayor Daley's church -- is on the list recommending two people. Even he knew the drill. But Georges, the city's top lawyer since 1999, who has worked at City Hall since 1997, said she didn't know. She testified that she thought the office only tracked job candidates so it could report back to interested politicians.Yes, it did. John Kass comments:
"With respect to the city, the Law Department especially, the corporation counsel's office especially, there seems to be -- the attitude seems to be -- put on the blinders and don't look left or right," Coar said during the discussion with lawyers, out of the jury's earshot.
With its verdict, the jury specifically rejected a defense argument that the feds unfairly tried to criminalize violations of the civil Shakman decree, which puts strict limits on political hiring. Some alderman and probably many Chicagoans also believe prosecutors went too far. But the jury didn't buy it, and they shouldn't have. This wasn't simply a matter of the city hiring people based on somebody's recommendations -- that would be a civil matter. This was secret, wholesale rigging of tests, forging hiring evaluations, conducting meaningless interviews and shredding documents. It was a massive, fraudulent, hypocritical end-run around those Shakman limits. With its verdict, the jury said politics as usual has to stop.
I asked readers to come up with new state and city slogans. The winning state slogan was "Illinois: Will the Defendant Please Rise?" And the winning city sticker offered a pseudo Latin phrase, "Slippus Envelopus" a reader's homage to the great Mike Royko's "Ubi Est Mea?" or "Where's mine?"Mary Mitchel laments the absence of African-Americans mixed up in the scandals at City Hall:
It illustrated the way public corruption was once viewed, as a linear exercise, the furtive passing of a greasy envelope stuffed with cash to some political functionary, or judge's bagman, to determine the outcome of a case, a city zoning matter, a liquor license, you name it.
But that's the corruption of cheap and relatively powerless crooks, the low-hanging political fruit that feds were content to pick in years past. Not anymore. Federal investigators are zeroing in on others, on the puppet masters who made it all look legal.
The puppet masters put their people in place, to take care of the patronage, build the armies, smooth the political bumps. This allowed the bosses to lead their friends to the government trough much larger than some measly greasy envelope.
Now, Illinois taxpayers expect that public officials owe them honest service. Those who understand this, and serve on juries, may be the folks who finally clean up Illinois.
A decade ago, the City Council was reeling from Operation Silver Shovel, a bribes-for-dumping scandal that snared several black aldermen as well as the council's resident reformer. Although the Rev. Jesse Jackson accused the U.S. attorney's office of engaging in unfair selective prosecution, the feds' net was wide enough to bring in whites, blacks and Hispanics who were taking bribes.Note the contradictory nature of that last paragraph; not unusual for someone who views everything through a racial prism. I'm curious what she'll have to say once the feds get around to investigating Cook County's hiring practices, as they inevitably will.
This time around, however, not one black political operative has been mentioned.
Obviously, I'm not advocating that black pols should be involved in illegal hiring schemes. But the absence of black names among those associated with Mayor Daley's clout machine shows blacks had little clout at City Hall when it came to jobs.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Fake British "Royal" Arrested Again For Having Sex With Child
By the way, too bad he isn't a hot blond teacher. Maybe he would get probation.
Friday, July 07, 2006
Michael Jackson shocked by sex among adults
I prefer the term 'capitulation advocate' myself. Or maybe 'capitulationist?'
Bill C adds:
If it isn't too derivative how about surrender monkeys or just surrenderists. Maybe, the chattering children of Chamberlain.
Is Treason Our Biggest Threat?
Ann Coulter asks an important question:
When is The New York Times going to get around to uncovering an al-Qaida secret program?Mark Stein comments:
I think that's actually an interesting question. You know, when you go into a New York Times planning meeting, how much of their editorial resources are being devoted to getting inside the enemy? The British press is pretty anti-American, they're pretty anti-Israeli, they're anti-all kinds of things. But they still have journalistic instincts. Every week, I read a fascinating story in the London Times or some other paper, in which some guy has gone undercover as a Muslim among the radical Muslims in Yorkshire towns in England, where the July 7th bombers came from. And he's got all this fascinating material. A guy went undercover at some mosque at Brighton, in England, and came out with all kinds of material. How come nobody at the New York Times seems to be interesting in devoting any editorial energy to exposing what the enemy's up to? That's an important question.Citing historical examples, Coulter's column makes the point that we aren't taking treason seriously anymore. It is, as usual, provocative. For instance, she wonders:
What if, instead of passing information from the government's secret nuclear program at Los Alamos directly to Soviet agents, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg had printed those same secrets in a newsletter? Would they have skated away scot-free instead of being tried for espionage and sent to the death chamber?Another good question.
She concludes that not taking treason seriously is really the biggest threat we face. I'm beginning to think she's right.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Dealing With Kim Jung-Il
North Korea's Taepodong-2 missle was apparently headed in the direction of Hawaii. Earlier in the day, Bill Gertz reported:
North Korea's motivations are not clear to U.S. intelligence and policy officials. However, the most likely explanation is that North Korea is seeking to win concessions from the United States, including a lifting of recent economic sanctions that have made it harder for the Pyongyang regime to raise hard currency through Banco Delta Asia. The Macao-based bank was found to be a main conduit for North Korean government counterfeiting and money-laundering of profits from drug trafficking.Strategypage has the story of what happens to trains carrying aid from China to North Korea:
"It is a major strategic miscalculation," said one administration official. The official said the motivations for the tests appear aimed at winning concessions from the U.S. in the six-party nuclear talks and other issues, such as U.S. defenses against illegal North Korean government activities around the world.
"They are clearly trying to grab the world's attention," said a defense official.
Officials also said the launches may have been a response to the Treasury Department's imposition of sanctions May 8 that are designed to prevent North Korea from making money from American and U.S.-based companies that purchase North Korean flag registry for commercial ships.
The sanctions overturned the Clinton administration's 1999 easing of sanctions in a bid at inducing North Korea not to conduct further missile tests, after a long-range Taepodong-1 was fired in August 1998.
In the last few weeks, the North Koreans have just kept the trains, sending the Chinese crews back across the border. North Korea just ignores Chinese demands that the trains be returned, and insists that the trains are part of the aid program. It's no secret that North Korean railroad stock is falling apart, after decades of poor maintenance and not much new equipment. Stealing Chinese trains is a typical loony-tune North Korean solution to the problem. If the North Koreans appear to make no sense, that's because they don't. Put simply, when their unworkable economic policies don't work, the North Koreans just conjure up new, and equally unworkable, plans. The Chinese have tried to talk the North Koreans out of these pointless fantasies, and for their trouble they have their trains stolen. How do you negotiate under these conditions? No one knows. The South Koreans believe that if they just keep the North Korean leaders from doing anything too destructive (especially to South Korea), eventually the tragicomic house of cards up north will just collapse. Not much of a plan, but so far, no one's come up with anything better.New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (who claims the six party talks "have stalled over unrelated financial disagreements") thinks he has plan:
We must turn North Korea away from its nuclear brinkmanship and toward providing a stable food supply and more opportunity for its people. This means direct engagement from the highest levels in Washington employing all the tools at our disposal.That's a plan? Capitulate and meekly submit to blackmail? Yikes.
We are doing this in New Mexico. North Korea desperately needs Western energy, agriculture and medical technology and, as a result of my trip there last fall, New Mexico is providing aid. Our joint humanitarian exchanges have already sent a team on North Korean heart doctors to New Mexico to learn the latest cardiac surgery techniques.
An attractive package of incentives along with strong sanctions for noncompliance would go a long way toward bringing North Korea back into the world community.
It is now time for the U.S. to step up and become a leader on the North Korean issue. We must be willing to engage in direct bilateral discussions within the context of the six-party talks with North Korea. This issue is too important to be left solely to multilateral talks.
Mark Steyn sees things differently:
if I were interested in constructing a Machiavellian scenario, it would be to apply some serious pressure to China, because the fact of the matter is that it's China that has let a lot of this stuff go walkabout around the world in ways that have been very unhealthy. And at some point, the Chinese have to be made to pay a price for that.That sounds about right to me.
The Cook County Board Presidency
The deal to replace John Stroger as Cook County Board President is in trouble, though for the wrong reasons:
Just when the pieces appeared to be falling into place to allow for a smooth transition from John Stroger's reign as Cook County Board president, it has become a free-for-all.John Kass comments:
Wednesday morning, Ald. Todd Stroger (8th) refused to say whether he has the votes among committeemen to replace his father as the Democratic nominee in the November election.
Wednesday afternoon, Commissioner John Daley said he no longer wants to be considered to serve the final five months of John Stroger's term.
As recently as last week, both moves were said to be a lock. Now, leadership of the $3 billion government appears to be in limbo.
But some say it's paving the way for a power grab by Commissioner Bobbie Steele, who will get a huge boost for the interim spot in a rally this morning from the Rev. Jesse Jackson, U.S. Representatives Jesse Jackson Jr. and Danny Davis, and several state and local officials.
In making his surprise announcement Wednesday, Daley, without naming names, said "influences outside the board room and [Democratic] central committee" were making race an issue, and "no one wins with that."
He also feared his decisions as interim president would be second-guessed as possibly coming from his brother Mayor Daley.
Because while (Republican candidate Tony) Peraica campaigns for the board presidency, Cook County Board President John Stroger remains incapacitated by a stroke. White Democratic Party bosses are now bent on giving Stroger's spot on the ballot to Stroger's son, the pliant Ald. Todd Stroger (8th).The Sun-Times editorializes:
It is a display of power as raw as meat, or if you prefer, oysters. The white guys who run things require an African-American on the county ticket, in a contested campaign, to bring out the African-American vote in November. Without a reliable black vote, many white regulars would have to get real jobs. And one time-honored way to bring out that vote is to play the race card.
Amazingly, the Daleys of Chicago insist they aren't involved in the Stroger affair. Cook County Commissioner John Daley told the Tribune's Mickey Ciokajlo on Wednesday that he won't seek the interim County Board presidency while John Stroger is incapacitated.
John Daley said, "I'm concerned. It's become very racial. ... I don't want to divide this county." Asked if he was afraid of black politicians who already have injected race into the campaign, Daley said, "I'm not afraid of anyone. It's just a decision I made."
He's telling the truth. He's not afraid of anyone. His brother is Mayor Richard M. Daley. The only thing that might bother them is a federal subpoena. The mayor also said he wasn't going to be involved in the Todd Stroger ascendancy, either.
"I'm just staying out of it," the mayor said. "That is up to them. It's not my responsibility."
Maybe it's time for someone in authority -- Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan or U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, perhaps? -- to find the will and a way to delve into the last four months of county follies.From the Sun-Times, this graphic compares Stroger's signature before his stroke and that on the letter:
Stroger supposedly announced his retirement in an unsigned letter Friday, a few days after the deadline for filing an independent bid for the position. We say supposedly because Stroger hasn't been seen or heard from since his stroke in March, the signed letter of resignation wasn't released until Wednesday, and the signature was illegible.
Up until the deadline for third-party candidates passed, Stroger's handlers, including his son Todd, the 8th Ward alderman, and Ald. William Beavers (7th), the family spokesman, insisted that the president's condition was improving and that he was expected to return. It was only after the deadline passed that Stroger's aides announced his retirement for health reasons -- doing it with the unsigned, typed letter late Friday after inexplicably canceling an earlier news conference.
The Chicago Tribune poses five questions that candidates for the County Board Presidency should address:
- As you watch federal prosecutors pursue hiring scandals at Chicago's City Hall and in state government, how will you reform a blatant patronage process that has burdened Cook County with thousands of political hacks?Too bad these issues won't be the focus of the campaign.
- Do you support a broad package of ethics reforms, with a truly independent inspector general? Or should Cook County leave its slipshod ethics as they are until the federal courts parlay county corruption cases into strict reforms?
- Year after year, County Board members nod in belief like bobblehead dolls at phony reassurances from Bureau of Health officials that they've almost solved their revenue problems. (Pssst: Their financial operation is a complete disaster; better you should wait for the Great Pumpkin to fix it than fall for even one more of their bogus promises.) So: Will you overhaul a county health operation constructed to provide sweetheart jobs and contracts, but not to provide the best possible patient care?
- How will you streamline an obsolete and often redundant government that employs way too many people? What offices will you consolidate or wholly eliminate?
- Will you overhaul the county's juvenile detention center, a shameful warehouse for children that has been studied ad nauseam by grown-ups lucky enough to sleep in safe homes?
The Raid On Entebbe
Wretchard comments about the raid and international law:
What we moderns overlook is that practically all of it would be ruled illegal today.Its a good post. But do we really know better now?
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Janeane Garofalo Gone?
Garofalo suffered from a particularly acute case of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Also, she has flirted with Scientology on her show. The two times I listened to
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Wretchard's on a roll
Wretchard comments about the conflict in Iraq and then quotes Iraq the Model's Omar:
And to those who argue that Iraq is on the verge of civil war, perhaps the most accurate comparison is with the Spanish Civil War, in which a global conflict played itself out in miniature within a single country. It is in effect, a cockpit in which global opponents are fighting through Iraqi proxies.Its an excellent post. (His last dozen or so posts have been excellent and I encourage everyone -- especially my blogmates -- to read them all if they haven't already.) Read the comments, too. A sample comment in the thread from this post from Wretchard:We must not forget that the conflict in Iraq is in fact an indirect conflict between the neighboring countries and America and among the neighboring countries themselves (a sectarian-ethnic conflict between the Arabs and Iran, a political conflict between Iran and America and another political conflict between Arabs and America and this one originates form the difference in the visions of America and Arabs for the region. Not to mention other smaller conflicts). Unfortunately the only Iraqi elements in these conflicts are the Iraqi parties that accepted to fight this conflict on behalf of Iraq's neighbors.
Despite maxing out their media and academic resources, the Left has not been able to shut down the GWOT. Nor even if they could regain the White House is there any prospect of any more than a marginal recovery of advantage. Their problem is fundamentally strategic. The Jihad and conservatives are now key rivals in the Dominant World View industry on the Internet. The Left can't weaken the conservatives without strengthening the Jihadi world view, which rivals it now for the mantle of the Revolution. And it can't weaken the Jihad without strengthening the conservatives. They can play coalition politics. But they will discover, as Hitler discoverd in the middle of Russia, that the moment when they could bestride the world was over.Then agan, maybe I do have something to add. I think we all do.