Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Who's payin' for this?

The unfortunate facts:

FACT: Illinois has a massive budget crisis

FACT: The crisis was, to a large degree, the fault of the George Ryan Administration and previous legislatures. And don't discount free-spending administrations prior to Crooked George.

FACT: Illinois needs to solve this crisis -- as soon as possible.

FACT: Any solution Illinois tries is going to hurt. A lot.

Now, here comes the hurt.

While we were huddled over our Memorial Day grills, broiling brats and swilling Wisconsin's finest, our legislature put the final touches on another budget scam.

They've declared a 'pension holiday.' That's a nice way to say they're just not gonna pay into the state pension fund for a couple of years and hope like hell the state can make up the difference in, oh, 30 of 40 years. Fat chance.

Wonder if Ameren CP would mind if I declared a 'power holiday' and delayed paying my power bill for a couple years, hoping like hell I can make up the difference in 30 or 40 years. Gonna get awful dark in my house, I'd bet. Ameren will NOT be amused by such accounting practices.

I'm all for creative financial solutions for the state's budget mess. I KNOW it's gonna take a few years to pull us out of the red ink. I KNOW it's gonna hurt. But this?


It kinda feels like George W-imbecile's solution to paying for his little unnecessary, illegal and immoral war: Make all war appropriations come as little extra items and supplemental appropriations not included in his yearly budget; build up the national debt to astronomical proportions, and hope like hell our kids or their kids can pay it off.


I don't often agree with Rep. Bill Black of Danville but he had me nodding at a quote from Monday's News-Gazette:

"You are mortgaging our future," said State Rep. Bill Black, R-Danville. "You are playing with fire, you are playing with potential bankruptcy of the pension systems."

He's right. It stinks.

And so it goes.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Must be a holiday

Like about everone else, I'm taking the weekend off from blogging to entertain guests, cook brats, maybe drink a beer (perhaps two) and pretty much ignore cyberstuff for a few days. I'm sure the world will get on quite nicely without my words and thoughts. I know I will.

And so it goes.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

and where's Bill Murray?

Wonder when Mike Madigan will emerge from his hole, look around, see his shadow and declare that the legislature has a budget?

Or will we have six more weeks of debate?

And so it goes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Pay it forward

Note to Champaign City Council member Ken Pirok:

The next time someone gives you a campaign contribution, take the money and spend it down at Jerry's IGA on groceries. After all, if you don't eat well, you can't very well be a good candidate, can you? And be sure to tell the contributor that's where his/her money went. Not on your campaign, but for a package of Twinkies and a Ding-Dong or two.

Think that generous contributor (if it's not your mother) is going to donate anything else to your campaign? Ever?

Then think about just how deep you stuck your foot down your throat at Tuesday night's council meeting.

In case you missed it, today's News-Gazette reports that Pirok (and fellow co-conspirator Kathy Ennan) told Champaign Library Board President Rustry Freeland that the board darned well better be raising more than the $3 million in private contributions it promised to raise to help finance the new library. And the extra money should NOT go to the library but to pay off the city's bond debt.

Pirok said he thought the library foundation "can and should be able to raise more than $3 million," and that any extra money raised should be split in some fashion between the library and the city, with the city portion going to reduce bonded debt.

Needless to say, that didn't go over too well with Freeland, who suggested that with that kind of incentive, there's no way they could raise more than $3 million.

Imagine his pitch: "Thanks for the $50,000 to help build the library, sir. That puts us just $20,000 over the top of our goal, so we'll be sending the remainder down to City Hall. Surely you don't mind...'' How quick will that check be pulled back?

Money given to the library should GO to the library. Maybe Ken and Kathy can raise money by using a bait-and-switch tactic, but don't demand others do it.

And by the way, Ken, did you notice the little slam from your fellow council members last night?

Two council members, Tom Bruno and Michael La Due, defended Freeland.
"How successful do you think fundraisers for the University of Illinois library would be if potential funders were told one-half would go to Springfield?" La Due asked.

Some questions don't need answers. Have another Twinkie, Ken.

And so it goes.

A noticible limp

The poor W-imbecile.

First the Senate caves in and stops him and The right Rev. Frist from nuking those uppity Democrats.

Now the House has passed and very soon, perhaps today, the Senate as well is expected to pass a bill that would lift restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

In defiance of the president. Open, blatant defiance.

The W-imbecile has promised a veto. If he can figure out how.

In recent weeks, both houses of Congress have expressed little support for the W-imbecile's moronic Social Security dismantling-by-privatization scheme. Lawmakers in his own party are giving him an increasingly hard time over everything from a free-trade pact for Central America to his plan to ease immigration laws.

Fron an AP report last week:
Also, the Senate is moving toward approval of a giant highway bill that exceeds the spending ceiling set by the White House....
Misgivings by four Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee triggered a three-week postponement of a vote on the nomination of John Bolton to be U.N. ambassador.

Speculation is that the W-imbecile's becoming a lame duck a lot quicker than most presidents in their second term.

This week's stem cell movements seem to be particularly galling.

The W-imbecile even put on a little dog-and-pony show yesterday in hopes of swaying someone -- anyone.

From today's Sun-Times:
At the White House Tuesday, Bush expressed his opposition to the legislation by appearing with 21 families that either adopted or gave up for adoption frozen embryos that remained after fertility treatments.
"Twenty-one children here today found a chance for life in all its stages," the president told an audience that included many active and noisy youngsters.
"Research on stem cells derived from human embryos may offer great promise," Bush said. "But the way those cells are claimed today destroys the embryo."
"The children here today remind us there is no such thing as a spare embryo," he said. "Every embryo is unique and genetically complete, like every other human being."

Poor W. Even while he was tugging at our heartstrings, the House was passing and the Senate eagerly awaiting the measure, where it's expected to pass easily, although probably not by a veto-proof margine.

You almost expected the W-imbecile to break into a chorus of Monty Python's 'Every Sperm is Sacred.'
Every sperm is sacred.
Every sperm is great.
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.

Sorry, W-imbecile

You're wrong again. Saving a dab of tissue vesus potentially saving thousands or millions of people with ailments from spinal cord injuries to alzheimers?

Do the math, W

And so it goes.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Selling cheap

The nuclear option has been avoided with a dramatic 11th-hour compromise. It was nice -- actually unprecedented in recent memory -- to see members of both parties actually sitting down and talking without knives and guns.

Personally, I think the Democrats sold themselves short.

As the last two days wore on, it was becoming more and more evident that the GOP was willing to consider a compromise.

As was being whispered in the hallowed halls, the GOP was beginning to wonder if they had to votes to pull off the nuclear option. It'd only take a few thinking Republicans (is that an oxymoron?) to kill Bill Frist's little adventure. Therefore the desire for an agreement became stronger on the GOP side.

As I write this, body is preparing for an actual up-or-down vote on federal appellate court nominee Priscilla Owen today. (Be a shame if she lost after all that....)

According to the AP:
The agreement, crafted over the past several weeks by seven Republicans and seven Democrats, also opened the way for yes-or-no votes on two other of President Bush's judicial picks who have been in nomination limbo for more than two years – William H. Pryor Jr. for the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Janice Rogers Brown for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
The agreement, which applies to Supreme Court nominees, said future judicial nominations should "only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances," with each Democratic senator holding the discretion to decide when those conditions had been met.
But of greater import, the deal on the rights of the minority party to filibuster judicial nominees avoids a showdown that could have shaken the traditions of the Senate, weakened the powers of the minority and threatened the comity the Senate needs to function.

I suspect the 'extrordinary circumstances' could have been weakened a bit, had the Democrats pushed a bit more. And perhaps the guaranteed (almost ) passage of three nominees might have been two.

I don't think the Democrats, as the bargaining wore on last night, were aware they were unexpectedly playing with the winning hand. Or maybe they were no more sure they were playing from a position of strength than the GOP was aware that it wasn't.

And so it goes.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Some things I'd rather not see

I see that a bunch more photos of Saddam Hussein in his Fruit of the Looms were published in a British tabloid Saturday.

If there's one thing I do not need is more photos of an aging dictator sitting around in his skivvies. (At least he doesn't wear a thong. I'd have taken him for a boxer man, myself.)

But that's way beside the point when it comes to photos like this.

Saddam's one of the 3 or 4 worst dictators of the 20th century (along with Noriega and Kadafi). And you tell me that he's so lightly guarded that someone can sneak in and take a BUNCH of photos of the prisoner in his undies?

Give me a break.

Those photos could not have been surreptitiously taken by ANYONE. No news photographer, free-lancer or papparazzi is going to be able to get within a half-mile of Saddam without a full body cavity search. Maybe two.

Those photos were taken and released to send out a message. By whom? The U.S. military? Possibly. The British military? Possibly. The Iraqi government? Not a bad guess, either.

It's to the advantage of all three groups to show the world, and the Iraqi people that Saddam's no longer a powerful man, a man to be reckoned with, a man to be feared. What better way than to show him in his undies? How further can he be degraded?

It's to the Iraqi government's advantage to show that Saddam and his Baath Party are no more; and that you Sunnis had better watch yourselves before YOU show up in the Sun in your FTLs, too.

Or, if could be someone who is interested in invigorating the country's religious civil war. Not that it really needs it.

But whatever message is intended - and you HAVE to know that's why the photos were released - there simply is no way -- NO WAY -- they could have been taken and released without the knowledge and approval of U.S. officials. Not after the Abu Ghraib prison photos caused so much embarrassment.

So that means all we're really left with is what message we're attempting to send; and to whom?

And so it goes.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Justice can be ugly

I had a good laugh at Jim Dey's column in this morning's News-Gazette concerning Matt Hale.

I'm not sure it's online or if they ever put his columns online - those that don't show up in his News-Gazette Weblog - so you may want to spend the 50 cents.

Seems poor Matt, who went and got himself convicted for all sorts of nasty things including plotting to kill a judge and complicity in Benjamin Smith's little killing adventure, was sentenced to 40 years of hard time.

And if you plot to kill a judge, they REALLY REALLY MEAN HARD TIME.

Matt's new address is the federal maximum security prison in Florence, CO. Yeah, the same Super Max that has such guests as Ted 'Unabomber' Kaczynski, Terry Nichols of Oklahoma City fame and a handful of the 1993 World Trade Center bombers. Those are not nice people.

Matt's in deep ****.

In you want more details, read Dey's column. It's worth the four bits.

Still, there's another side of the coin. One actually wonders if Matt's little temper tantrums (although they did result at least indirectly in the death of at least two people) are super-max justified. That is one harsh penalty. 40 years in super max solitary in Colorado. He's eligible for parole when he turns 65, in 2037.

Nevertheless, don't look in my direction if you're organizing a protest march.

I never much felt sorry for Matt anyway. His racist taunts were nothing more than a pathetic, desperate attempt to feel superior to SOMEBODY, ANYBODY. When your own self-image is so low you have to resort to racism to attempt to feel better than someone, you've got big problems.

He spent a long time in school but never managed to get educated. And until his move to Colorado, spent just about his entire life living with his parents in Peoria. How pathetic. Hard to feel any self-esteem that way.

So, Matt, enjoy Colorado. Hear the skiing's good there.

And so it goes.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Six still equals one

It kinda sad when about the only interesting thing happening in Champaign city government is the replacement of one of its newly-elected members.

Jim Green was re-elected to the District 4 seat last month and promptly resigned after suddenly (and unexpectably?) taking a job with a law firm that does business with the city. This still sounds fishy every time I read it. Green got 1411 votes of 1833 cast in his district, which isn't bad even if you're running unopposed. He then promptly quit.

Deborah Frank Feinen seemingly was waiting breathlessly at the mayor's door ready to apply for the vacancy the moment Green stepped down. It sounded a bit suspicious. A council member quits, a Republican County Board member is waiting in the wings to fill the position. If I was a person who looked for conspiracies... naw ... coincidence.

Feinen, however, has also been waiting in the wings to take on Reb. Naomi Jacobsen in next year's state House race. Mayor Jerry Schweighart then was obliged to extract from Feinen a promise that if she was appointed to the council, she would not run for the House seat. We all know how valuable (and binding) are political promises.... We still, however, must take her at her word.

Still, since then, there have been more potential candidates lining up for the position, candidates from all over the political spectrum: County Board member and Republican Feinen, Marci Dodds, a member of the Champaign library foundation board and wife of Cody Sokolski, who developed the One Main building in downtown Champaign; Ken Urban, a member of the Green Party and an associate professor of computer science at Parkland College, Greg Stock, a social studies teacher at Centennial High; Pattsi Petrie, who works at the UI in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, and Martin Johnson, an engineer who does programming at the UI.

All sound pretty qualified, on different levels. All bring varied levels of political experience and inexperience to the board. Nothing wrong with getting a newcomer on the council every so often. One wonders if the UI applicants are cut from the same political cloth as Urbana council members? And wouldn't it be fun to have Green Party member on the Council to shake up the pro-business pro-growth conservatism?

This could get interesting.

Except it won't.

Schweighart has said the city council will hear from all the candidates at Tuesday's council meeting. An appointment could be made at the June 7 meeting.

Don't know if there's betting line out yet, but my money's on Feinen.

Not that she's the most qualified or would represent the district best. (Nor would she be the worst).

Her candidacy's just been too convenient all along.

And so it goes.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Luxury taxes?

Let's get this straight right off the top: I'm a liberal/Democrat
At the same time, I hate the way governments keep digging deeper and deeper into my pockets for tax money. Even if it's for a good cause. My pockets have bottoms.

But there are times and there are issues....

I absolutely hate the way this is going, but at first glance, it looks embarrassingly like I have to support Sen. Winkel's school funding plan. You have no idea how that hurts to say. It may be the first thing he's done that didn't just plain either anger or embarrass me.

Illinois (and a lot of the rest of the country) MUST change the way schools are funded.

Because unequal funding based on property tax means unequal education, and we cannot afford to not offer the absolute best education possible to every child in Illinois and the U.S. To do otherwise is to slowly cut our own throats. (SOMEONE'S gotta pay for my Social Security...)

According to the Chicago Tribune, this bill could mean a boost in my taxes of up to 20 percent. I doubt those numbers, but I don't have a newsroom full of bean counteing reporters at my disposal to prove otherwise.

From wealthy big-city enclaves to middle-income Downstate communities, homeowners would see a 20 percent increase on average in their combined property and state income tax bills if Illinois overhauls how it pays for public schools, a Tribune computer analysis of tax data shows.

The state Senate is poised to vote this week on a proposed $5.8 billion plan to raise Illinois' state income tax rate to 5 percent, from 3 percent, and use a portion of the extra revenue to help homeowners pay their school taxes. Overall, state aid to public schools would rise, reducing heavy reliance on local property taxes that create disparities between wealthy and poor districts.

I don't want my taxes to go up 20 percent.

But at the same time, I don't want this state and the world run by just the rich white kids from the Gold Coast and Evanston and Naperville because their school district has a higher property tax rate than some poorer district. That's what we've got now. Ain't working.

Winkel's bill certainly isn't perfect, but if it points the state AWAY fron property tax support to ANYTHING ELSE, it's a good start, and it seems to me about the only move the state's made in this direction since I've lived here.

The legislation seems to make sense, although I'm sure there's something terribly wrong and terribly flawed here that I'm not seeing.

According the the News-Gazette:

The legislation would increase the personal income tax from 3 percent to 5 percent and raise the corporate income tax rate from 4.8 percent to 8 percent, raising a projected $5.8 billion a year.
Of that, $3 billion would be used to reimburse school districts for reducing the elementary and secondary education portion of every residential and non-residential property tax bill in the state by 30 percent.
Another $1.7 billion would be used to raise the per-pupil minimum spending level from $4,964 to $6,100.
The rest of the revenue would be used to contribute $120 million a year to special education and other services schools are required to provide; give $370 million a year to universities and community colleges; provide local governments with an extra $190 million a year; give renters a $30 tax credit; double the size of the tax credit for educational expenses to a maximum of $1,000 per family; and quadruple the earned income tax credit for low-income Illinoisans.

The Trib says that plan will raise my taxes, even though my property taxes will be falling. That may be true. Then again, I don't consider a good education a luxury reserved for wealthy people and wealthy areas. If I have to pay a little more, maybe it's worth it in the long run.

Gov. Blago has promised to veto the bill, standing firmly on his 'perpetually campaigning and never governing' podium.

I hope Winkel's bill passes and survives the veto.

I doubt supporting this is gonna turn me into a Republican. After all, if my taxes go up, I won't be able to afford it anyway.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Unchecked and unbalanced

Well. it's finally started: The GOP is beginning the process of overthrowing the Constitution, dismantling the two-party system and trashing the delicate system of checks and balances our constitutional framers worked so hard to establish 218 years ago.

How ironic: While we're busy trying to install democracies around the world, we're just as busy dismantling ours.

In case you've been living in a cave (or a state of denial, which seems to be a blue state) the GOP is taking up the task of eliminating the practice of filibustering in the U.S. Senate. They say they're just trying to get a couple judicial appointees approved. They lie.

For the minority party, the filibuster can be the only way to get their voice heard and be the voice of their constituiencies back home. Without it, they are nearly powerless to an unthinking, unreasoning political mass, that the GOP has become. When the W-imbecile sniffles, the Senate and House sneeze.

It isn't enough that the GOP controls the presidency, the U.S. House and the Senate; they now want an absolute lock on the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary as well. All to promote a shaky religious and reactionarily conservative agenda that poll after poll proves most Americans really do NOT support.

But that, unfortunately, does not matter to the blind ideologues in Washington D.C. There is no opinion other than their opinion and no 'right' other than their 'right.'

From the AP:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., called the Democratic blockade of seven Bush U.S. Appeals Court nominees "radical," and said one of those judges, Texas judge Priscilla Owen, should be confirmed despite Democratic accusations that she is a "judicial activist" who pursues an ideological agenda.

There is never any consideration that someone on the other side of the aisle might have a legitimate point. Those points must not be heard.

As long as they disagree with the Imperial Presidency, they are labled 'liberal' or 'radical' or 'obstructionist.'

The GOP is using the judicial nominee issue as a lever to totally disenfranchise the minority party. Since all but a very very few of W-imbecile's nominees have been approved by the Senate, this is not really about one of two nominees. It is a power grab. A blatant power grab. An ugly power grab. Give the W-imbecile a rubber stamp and go home.

Again from the AP:

But Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said Democrats would fight to retain what power they still have in a Washington where the GOP controls the White House and both houses of Congress.
"Right now, the only check on President Bush is the Democrats' ability to voice their concern in the Senate," said Reid, D-Nev. "If Republicans roll back our rights in this chamber, there will be no check on their power. The radical, right wing will be free to pursue any agenda they want."

Think about that for a moment.

Many of our Bill of Rights protections already have been rolled back in the name of Homeland Security. More are set to go as they set up the vast investigative Big Brother database.

The W-imbecile Administration is bashing what free press remains in the U.S., and attempting to hire/buy off the rest to promote its radical agenda.

Now they're attacking the only check left on it's total takeover.

The Senate's Democrats are caught in a desperate fight. Reid and his colleagues stubbornly are refusing to give up Democrats' ability to block Supreme Court and lower court nominees they consider too extreme. Court watchers think a Supreme Court vacancy could happen sometime this year.

"The goal of the Republican leadership and their allies in the White House is to pave the way for a Supreme Court nominee who would only need 50 votes for confirmation rather than 60," the number of senators needed to maintain a filibuster, Reid said.

If that doesn't scare you, it should.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Guess 'oops' just isn't enough

The is absolutely no excuse for what Newsweek did in its Quran/Afghanistan/Guantanamo debacle. No excuse whatsoever. It's the epitome of shoddy journalism. Any beginning reporter knows that any time you are prepared to report something that has the potential to psis off about a third of the world, you had better be ABSOLUTELY, TOTALLY, POSITIVELY, COMPLETELY certain that it is true. And then you'd better check it again. And again. Then start over and prove it. Again.

Newsweek apparently did not do that. It is shameful. It is another black mark on the heads of all honest journalists.

But, owing to our system of free press in this country; it is not illegal nor is it punishable. Nor should it be.


Newsweek has retracted its report. It has apologized. Over and over. As well it should. Fannies most likely will be kicked. Some heads most likely will roll. Internal sanctions should be implied; procedures created to make damned sure this never happens again.

They've gone on TV to admit they were wrong: From PBS:

"NewsHour with Jim Lehrer"
Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker on the Koran desecration piece: "After we
published it, no one in the government came back to us and said, you got
this wrong; you should correct it; this is going to have dire consequences
for 11 days -- until afterwards. And I think that what that says is that
no one anticipated the effect that this might have. In retrospect, perhaps
we all should have. We at Newsweek should have. Perhaps the Pentagon
officials who reviewed the story should have; perhaps the government. after the story was printed."

Should they do more?

The Afghan and Pakistani governments thinks so. In an AP report today:
Afghanistan's government said Tuesday that Newsweek should be held responsible for damages caused by deadly anti-American demonstrations after the magazine alleged U.S. desecration of the Quran, and it suggested that foreign forces may have helped turn protests violent.
Pakistan joined the international criticism of the magazine's article and said Newsweek's apology and retraction were "not enough."

What more should they do? Pay to clean up the mess from the unrest? Give me a break; even if they COULD, which is doubtful, they shouldn't attempt something like that. Don't be setting precedents like that.

And, of course, the U.S. government, which simply cannot turn down an opportunity to bash the U.S. press at every turn, also thinks more should/could be done:

From another AP report:
The White House on Monday said the magazine had taken a "good first step" by retracting its story, but it wants the magazine to do more to repair damage caused by the article.
"The report had real consequences," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Monday. "People have lost their lives. Our image abroad has been damaged. There are some who are opposed to the United States and what we stand for who have sought to exploit this allegation. It will take work to undo what can be undone."
McClellan said Newsweek should try to set the record straight by "clearly explaining what happened and how they got it wrong, particularly to the Muslim world, and pointing out the policies and practices of our military."

Sounds reasonable, until you take into account the source.

I'm stil waiting for the W-imbecile Administration to 'set the record straight' on Iraq.
Something along the lines of: 'Oops, there were no WMD after all; no Taliban bases, either; and by the way. we'd planned this invasion a year before we announced it. Then we fabricated the intelligence to justify it. We really just wanted to kick Saddam's butt and get the oil flowing again.'

Until the U.S. government does that, they have no standing to demand anything from Newsweek. Not even a free subscription.

Newsweek was wrong. No doubt.

But so are the W-imbeciles.

And so it goes.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Say never

I keep hearing rumors that former Gov. Jim Edgar is thinking taking on Gov. Blago in a race for the governnor's mansion, giving GOPpers tiny little heart palpatations.

Or at least Edgar has said he'll never say never.

The latest from today's News-Gazette:

The two-term governor, who left office in 1999 after deciding not to run for a third term, said Friday he has no plans to become a candidate. But, he added, 'I never say never.'

Say never, Jim, say never.

Jim Edgar may look good to the GOP mostly because they're comparing ol' White Bread Jim to other recent GOP govs. Compared to them Jim's a choir boy. But, does anyone remember the MSI scandal?

Say you're flattered and then say never, Jim.

And so it goes.

Saturday, May 14, 2005


You knew somehow it had to be a scam. The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

The finger found in a bowl of Wendy's chili belongs to an acquaintance of the husband of Anna Ayala, the Las Vegas woman who claimed she accidentally bit into the finger while enjoying a meal with friends, San Jose police said Friday.

You just didn't know when they'd find out.

It's safe to go back to Wendy's, I guess. Just don't order the chili 'with.'

And so it goes

Tanks ... for the memories

I see in today's Tribune Gov. Blago's approval ratings are continuing to drop.

Perhaps even more troubling for Blagojevich, only one-third of voters say they want to see him re-elected next year while 45 percent say they don't, according to the poll.

Among the 1,200 likely voters surveyed, 35 percent said they approved of the job Blagojevich is doing as the state's chief executive, while 44 percent said they disapproved. Another 21 percent said they had no opinion.

Is anyone really surprised? Really?

I've felt all along Blago was simply a sacrificial lamb, stuck in Springfield as much by the GOP as the Dems to serve as a four-year lightning Rod. (Pun intended) I realy believe no one who served this term attempting to clean up the GOP's mess had any chance of winning a second term. It was a damned if you do damned if you don't situation. You can do it right and piss off just about everone, or you can do it wrong and piss off everyone.

And Blago's managed to piss off just about everyone.

And so it goes.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Does that make us bad...? Probably

I'm not too sure what's going on over at WKIO (formerly Oldies 92.5), but so far it doesn't sound all that promising.

Granted, their old Oldies format was getting more than a bit tattered, And the announcers ... that's another rant in itself.

But this past week the station suddenly became 92.5 The Chief. It still seems to be playing much the same music (maybe a few newer than usual songs...) but it all appears to be prerecorded, pre-programmed and computer controlled. Not a live voice to be heard anywhere. As tired as the station seemed at times, at least it was nice once in a while to hear a real, live voice talking about something happening in our community. Haven't heard a live voice from them all week.

Then there's the shouted-out title: 'The Chief Plays What the Chief Wants.' A good, sound listener-oriented philosophy, if you ask me.

Finally, there's the name. There's no real indication of such, but it sure appears that the station's trying to grab onto Chief Illiniwek's faux-authentic feathered NCAA basketball coat tails. Let's hear it for corporate racism. In truth, there's no mention of the pathetic suburban-white-boy-mascot on the station's new Web site, http://www.925thechief.com/ but the site's all done up in unmistakable Orange and Blue.

I wonder if the station thinks it can increase its listenership by endorsing an outdated, simplistic racial stereotype? If that's so, I can hear radio dials throughout the area spinning in other directions in a hurry.

I know for sure at the first broadcast hint of an Illiniwek connection, I'm gone. For good. And I'll bet a good deal of others will be, too. The station didn't have that much going for it before... With that ...

Finally: After the computer/announcer defiantly shouts out the 'The Chief Plays What the Chief Wants', he follows it with 'That doesn't make us bad, does it?'

Uh, yeah, it does.

And so it goes

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Hang up ... and drive

OhMyGawd I don't believe it I just heard it can't be true did you hear it how can they do it it must be illegal I just got a text message from Sherry about it and she'd heard it too did you hear it I just don't know how I can drive without it can you jeez OhMyGawd they can't make us hang up our phones can they can they really are you sure what will I do with my other hand OhMyGawd how will we driive I gotta call Jennifer and Morgan and Missy and Liz and Donna and Debbie and Julie and Aubrie and Sally and Wendy and see if we can do anything what can we do they can't they just cant OHMYGAWD!!!

I just heard it, too. The city of Chicago actually passed an ordinance stating that drivers in the Windy City who are caught talking on cell phones without a hands-free device face fines of $50 to $200. The ordinance goes into effect July 8. http://www.chicagotribune.com/technology/chi-0505120220may12,1,484955.

How great!

Now, if we can get the folks down here in C-U to do the same thing! It's almost taking your life in your own hands driving across town, especially just before school starts and just after it lets out..

It's about damn time.

And so it goes.

Testing, 1,2,3

I know I'm late on the bandwagon here, but...

I wasn't shocked or surprised when a Champaign teacher ('eighteen-year veteran Champaign Central High School mathematics teacher Kathleen Smith,' according to the News-Gazette) resigned because of the shackles placed on educators by No Child Left Behind (just another of the W-imbicle's unfunded crack pipe dreams). See http://www.news-gazette.com/localnews/story.cfm?Number=18204 I admire her courage and conviction.

What's surprising to me is that more teachers haven't followed suit. The problem with such mandates -— beyond the fact they're not funded — is they halt the teaching (and more important the learning) process. Now, instead of teching mathmatics, Smith and thousands more teachers are now teaching a test. The students no longer get an actual education. But they learn how to take a test and how to pass it. All they gain is answers that will be lost as fast as it takes the test monitor to say 'put down your pencils.'

It's not surprising that it's difficult to find and more difficult to retain good teachers. What is surprising is that the W-imbicle (and a lot of others in Washington D.C.) believe this will actually help education.

It's just another variant of the end justifies the means, I guess. Doesn't matter what you learned; you passed the test; our school can keep its funding for another year. and our teachers can keep their job. Some of them.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Til you puff yourself to death

I see in this afternoon's News-Gazette that another group is pushing for local governments (read Champaign and Urbana City Councils) to ban smoking in bars and restaurants in C-U.

It's an admirable goal and one I support wholeheartedly, but I give it just about as much chance — especially in Champaign — as a balloon at a porcupine convention. Champaign's just way too 'business oriented' to ever consider anything that might help individual people. After all, what's good for corporate America is good for, uh, ah, corporate America.

And Urbana's council, bless its faux-liberal little heart, has said they'd really LIKE to ban smoking, REALLY REALLY REALLY, but they can't until Champaign does because.... well, it might hurt URBANA businesses. Both of them.

Still, at least three Urbana restaurants now prohibit smoking. Silvercreek and The Courier have been smoke-free for ages and now Ned Kelly's has lifted the smog as well. Haven't been to Ned Kelly's for a while (probably will to show support), but I know first-hand that Silvercreek and The Courier both are perpetually crowded. Hasn't seemed to hurt either of them much to be smoke free. And it sure is nice to go into a restaurant and smell the food, not someone's cigarette. I won't even discuss cigars.

There' s public forum at 7 p.m.tonight at the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St., sponsored by the C-U Smokefree Alliance.

Remember folks — smoking isn't a right; breathing is. Your choice.

And so it goes.

First post

Before I get into any deep stuff, a quick introduction: I'm am old guy - at least in the blogging world. Well past 50. I'm a slightly over-educated, somewhat under-experienced and occasionally naive and miss-informed guy with opinions about just about everything. They may not be right, but they're mine. I work in a professional/managerial capacity in Champaign-Urbana, IL, which is just about as middle America as exists anywhere outside of Iowa. I like Champaign-Urbana. Most of it, anyway.

Who am I?

I like the Cubs. I can't help it; it's a disease. I don't much like the team the Cubs have this year, but I still like the Cubs. When they finish 25 games out of first, I will STILL like them. Go figure. I also like the Bulls and most of the time the Bears. I live in Illinois, after all. But I also like the Colts and have since December, 1958. If you're old enough and enough of a fan, you know why.

I like good wine. I'd like to say I like fine wine, but I can't afford fine wine, so I subsist on good wine. I'm trying to learn enough about wine to be only about half as obnoxious as that guy in 'Sideways.'

Politically, I tend toward the liberal — although not as liberal as I was when I was 20 — when it comes to politics, but there are some liberals that really make me queasy. I don't blindly support all Democrats, nor do I hate all Republicans. Just most. i grew up (politically) in the ’60s with Vietnam and Civil Rights and the birth of the women's movement and environmentalism. Never got over it.

I'm a Christian, but that, in an of itself doesn't make me dull. It just happened a few (quite a few) years ago.

So why am I blogging? Not sure. I think from time to time I have something I want to say about things and this is as good a way as any to get my words out there and see if anyone wants to listen.