Friday, September 29, 2006

Hey, boys

Ah, those moralistic, puritanical, protect the American way, prim and proper holier-than-thou Republicans....

And so it goes.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Clearing the air

Finally, someone's put an end to the 'it's only a small minority of people' theory.

Those in the minority on the smoking ban issue (i.e. those opposed to the smoking ban) like to complain that 'a small minority' are pushing their agenda on the rest of us proud Ahmurrrikans.

Well, the State Journal-Register in Springfield actually asked people.

And guess what they found? A majority of Illinoisans favor a statewide smoking ban in all indoor places, including bars and restaurants.

Argue sampling error and poll bias all you want. The results are pretty conclusive:
Fifty-four percent of those responding to the poll supported a comprehensive statewide smoking ban, 39 percent were opposed and 7 percent were undecided.

Those polled were asked: "Do you support or oppose a comprehensive statewide ban on smoking in all indoor public places, including workplaces, restaurants and bars?"

The idea was supported by a majority of people of all political stripes. Among Republicans, 56 percent said they wanted a smoking ban. Fifty-one percent of independents favored the ban, while 53 percent of men and 55 percent of women and Democrats were for it.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. of Washington conducted the poll of 625 registered voters Sept. 19-21. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.
If you want to argue that 54 percent in favor of a statewide ban isn't much or a majority, then explain how only 39 percent is a strong minority.

Further, although the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association is still whining that a ban will hurt bars' bottom line, there is little evidence of that.
Those in favor of a ban point to research that shows no overall decline in sales tax revenue from the hospitality industry when there is a smoking ban. They argue that bar and restaurant employees should not have to contend with secondhand smoke, especially when most white-collar office workers do not.

They also point to a surgeon general's report this year that said tens of thousands of people die each year from secondhand smoke and that it is a cause of heart disease, lung cancer and other illnesses.
Is is possible that we'll get a statewide smoking ban any time soon? I kinda doubt it. Illinois politicians are historically spineless when it comes to issues that help only people rather than businesses. Besides, the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association has a lot of money to throw around in Springfield, and right or wrong, that kind of money can influence a legislator a lot quicker than, say, the thought of improving the health of thousands of registered voters.
A statewide smoking ban cleared a House committee last winter but has never gotten a vote in either chamber of the General Assembly. Drea [Kathy Drea, public policy director for the American Lung Association of Illinois and Iowa] hopes a ban will get a vote when the new General Assembly is sworn in in January.

"It's a non-election year, so it'll be more positive for a vote," she said. "(The ban in) Springfield was so important because all of the legislators live here six months out of the year. They will be able to see people still go out, still want to be with their friends."
We can only hope.

And so it goes.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Staying home

Looked into migrating this blog over to Wordpress yesterday, since that's what all the cool kids are doing.

You'll note I'm still here. That's not likely to change.

Wordpress couldn't import my blog content. Although they said they could. (Apparently they haven't heard of Blogger beta yet, where this is located).

Wordpress couldn't import my blogroll. Although they said they could. (Apparently they haven't heard of Blogger beta yet, where this is located).

Wordpress said it had dozens of cool themes. They were no better than those at Blogger. And Blogger has more choices. They're all pretty lame.

Can someone explain why anyone would want to move? What's the attraction? What's the benefit?

Is there something I'm missing?

And so it goes.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Define well...

Things in Iraq are going well, we're told.

There is no civil war in Iraq, we're told.

The media never reports what's really going on in Iraq, we're told.

How do they explain this?
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The number of Iraqi civilians killed in July and August hit 6,599, a record-high number that is far greater than initial estimates suggested, the United Nations said Wednesday.

The report from the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq's Human Rights office highlighted the sectarian crisis gripping the country, offering a grim assessment across a range of indicators — worrying evidence of torture, unlawful detentions, growth of sectarian militias and death squads, and a rise in "honor killings" of women.

That raises new questions about U.S. and Iraqi forces' ability to bring peace to Baghdad, where the bulk of the violent deaths occurred. Iraq's government, set up in 2006, is "currently facing a generalized breakdown of law and order which presents a serious challenge to the institutions of Iraq," it said.

According to the U.N., which releases the figures every two months, violent civilian deaths in July reached an unprecedented high of 3,590, an average of more than 100 a day. The August toll was 3,009, the report said.

The lower August number may have been the result of a security crackdown in Baghdad, though it was partly offset by a rise in attacks elsewhere, including in the northern city of Mosul.

For the previous period, the U.N. had reported just under 6,000 deaths — 2,669 in May and 3,149 in June. That was up from 1,129 in April, and 710 in January.

Of the total for July and August, the report said 5,106 of the dead were from Baghdad.

The report attributed many of the deaths to the rising sectarian tensions that have pushed Iraq toward the verge of civil war.
No further comment is really necessary.

And so it goes.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Yeah, you

Hey, Osama:

Olly Olly All In Free!

It's been 5 years since Osama's folks took down the towers.

In the interim, our government has gotten us mired in a war/police action/civil-religious war in the wrong country.

In the mean time, the administration has failed to come any closer than naming a country [Pakistan] in its search for the real culprit. And at least 2,666 American soldiers have died and at least 19,945 have been wounded fighting the wrong war.

And Osama Bin Laden remains free.

(Bet if I forgot to pay my income taxes, no matter what country I was in, the IRS could find me.)

And the neocons wonder why no one has any faith in the Bushies in office.

And so it goes.

Thursday, September 7, 2006

Brown paper packages...

Guess I really am old. And living in the past.

Sold an item recently on eBay. Boxed it up yesterday, taped it and tied it securely with heavy string.

Took it to the post office yesterday. First thing the post office person did was cut and remove the string.

Seems the Post Office doesn't like tied up packages. Hasn't for years, she said.

Guess I missed that memo.

I remember when most packages were tied with heavy string.


And so it goes.

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

New look

Not sure if this is indicative of anything in particular, but:

Driving around my solidly Republican neighborhood this morning, I noticed a whole lot of Gill for Congress yard signs. Didn't see a single re-elect Timmy sign or any indication of any Johnson action.

Lots of Gill bumper stickers, too.

If you knew my neighborhood, you'd understand how surprising this is.

It's early, but I'm wondering if this may be a trend.

And so it goes.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Not exactly civil

Things sure are looking good in Iraq. To listen to a lot of right-wing nutjob commentators and bloggers, the whole country is one big happy face.

Then how do they explain this? This is the Pentagon talking. You know, that place with all the generals? Our military leaders. The guys with direct lines to the guys in the ground in Iraq.
WASHINGTON -- Sectarian violence is spreading in Iraq and the security problems have become more complex than at any time since the U.S. invasion in 2003, the Pentagon said Friday.

In a notably gloomy report to Congress, the Pentagon said illegal militias have become more entrenched, especially in Baghdad neighborhoods where they are seen as providers of security as well as basic social services.

The report described a rising tide of sectarian violence, fed in part by interference from neighboring Iran and Syria and driven by a "vocal minority" of religious extremists who oppose the idea of a democratic Iraq.
Not exactly in the same vein as this little piece of partisan propaganda last week from the conservative International Republican institute:
In a recent poll, more Iraqis, who live in Iraq, say Iraq is headed the right direction than Americans who merely watch TV reports about Iraq or read newspaper reports about Iraq.
Doesn't quite square with what our military leaders are saying, now does it?

Today's AP story continues:
"Death squads and terrorists are locked in mutually reinforcing cycles of sectarian strife," the report said, adding that the Sunni-led insurgency "remains potent and viable" even as it is overshadowed by the sect-on-sect killing.

"Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq, specifically in and around Baghdad, and concern about civil war within the Iraqi civilian population has increased in recent months," the report said. It is the latest in a series of quarterly reports required by Congress to assess economic, political and security progress.
Mission accomplished!

Peace is at hand!

And so it goes.