Saturday, March 31, 2007

Numbers regarding 9/11

These stats can't be read without some emotional reaction.

Funny stuff

This Bob Geiger guy has got a pretty good collection of political cartoons. Check here.

Just wondering

How do we know that Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey is not secretly meeting with his secret lobbying group at this very moment?

You say the group hasn't yet been established? But that's what they want you to believe.

Bush's chief campaign guy in '04 now says "Kerry was right" and the prez is a disappointment

This interview with Matt Dowd in tomorrow's New York Times is a stunner.

Yeah, he's a former Democrat, but you can't say he was a mole. He was one of the principal architects of Bush's successful bid for re-election. Such is not the work of a mole.

The damage done

Bud Cummins, the federal prosecutor to whom Rockford native Michael Elston allegedly made an intimidating phone call (details here), has written this assessment of the damage the scandal has done to the quality of justice in this country.

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Good Book in a good book

My 12-year-old daughter is a sixth grader in a Rockford public school, and her social studies textbook is a shining refutation of one of the great lies spread by the religious right in this country over the past 40 years.

The book is titled "World: Adventures in Time and Place." It's published by McMillan/McGraw-Hill and was copyrighted in 1997.

On page 246 of this work, there's a photo of a painting of Jesus. There's another one on page 248, and another one on page 249. The book also has a painting of Moses bearing the Ten Commandments, and there are pictures of people praying in churches and clergy addressing their flocks.

There are separate sections on the childhood of Jesus, on his teachings and on how he "changed the world." There are passages from the Old and New Testaments. There are chapters on "how Christianity has affected life on every continent on Earth."

The book also offers shorter treatments of Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions.

On the whole, the book does a passable job of presenting to 11- and 12-year-olds some sense of the big role religion has played in the course of human history -- politically, culturally, economically and in countless other ways.

The book also unintentionally performs another worthy service: It disproves the popular notion that the mere mention of Jesus or God or the Bible in a public school will invariably bring on hordes of howling atheists and armies of ACLU lawyers.

The truth is that children in public schools are perfectly free to pray whenever they want, so long as it isn't disruptive or in any way sanctioned by the school. The kids also are free to form prayer clubs or Bible-reading groups and hold meetings on school grounds after classes.

And, as evidenced by my daughter's textbook, schools are free to teach students about the Bible as literature and religion as history. Schools have always had this freedom, no matter the rhetoric to the contrary from TV preachers and their ilk.

The demagogues on this issue, eager to create a demon against which they'll valiantly posture, studiously avoid any mention of the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court, in its two major school prayer rulings, actually encouraged schools to teach about the historical importance of religion. Instead, these rabble-rousers direct all their efforts at decrying the court’s ban on government involving itself in the promotion of religion.

The Pat Robertsons and the rest of them also pretend that judicial rulings against religious exercises in public schools were unprecedented before the 1960s -- as if the same influences that spawned the hippies also tainted the courts and other institutions, which in turn chased God out of the schools.

In fact, the history of such rulings goes back more than a century. The School Board in Cincinnati, Ohio, banned Bible-reading and required prayers in 1869 and was upheld by the state Supreme Court. A similar ruling was passed down by the Illinois Supreme Court in 1910. In both cases, Catholic parents had challenged common practices on grounds that public schools had no right to push Protestantism.

By 1960, courts in 11 states had ruled against devotional Bible-reading in public schools. In retrospect, it was inevitable that the nation’s highest court would follow suit.

Widespread ignorance or misunderstanding of this history and of the realities of court rulings regarding religion have created significant problems. On one side of the equation, millions of religious folks wrongly believe that religion cannot be taught about or even mentioned in public schools. On another side, lots of school teachers and administrators have gone too far in guarding against school sponsorship of religious exercises.

On that latter point, it probably would surprise most conservatives to know that the ACLU has frequently brought lawsuits in cases where schools have enfringed on students' religious rights. But, of course, the civil libertarians also are quick to fight against the pushing of religion by school officials.

As well they should.

Elston testifies for seven hours

Rockford native Michael Elston spent seven hours today testifying before the House Judiciary Committee (story here, scroll down to ninth paragraph).

The session was held behind closed doors, although the testimony was transcribed. Still no word on what Elston said.

Multiple choice

For which of the following reasons will posting herein be light-to-moderate today?:

  • The Rascal will be spending quality time with his daughter, The Rascalette.
  • The Rascal will be attending a secret meeting of Mayor Larry Morrissey's secret lobbying group.
  • The Rascal is busy working on an expose that will blow the lid off the biggest conspiracy in the history of the Rock River Valley.
  • The Rascal has nothing more to say about anything.

Rockford guy will testify behind closed doors today in probe of prosecutor firings

Rockford native Michael Elston, a Justice Department official, will meet behind closed doors today with the House Judiciary Committee for a transcribed interview in the ongoing investigation of the firing of eight federal prosecutors.

As The Rascal has reported, Elston allegedly phoned at least one of the fired prosecutors and threatened him with retaliation if he made a public fuss over his dismissal.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sampson says he wanted to can Fitz

Here's the story from today's Senate committee hearings.

The Rascal's posts on Fitz and the prosecutors scandal can be found here (and in posts for which links are provided in that piece).

Here's how to get a new federal courthouse built in downtown Rockford

For years, Rockford has been trying to get a new federal courthouse built, but groundbreaking is stalled, as the Register Star recently reported.

The problem is with the General Services Administration, which has yet to see fit to put the Rockford project on the front burner.

Ah, but now we're learning that the GSA is a nest of political partisanship where one of Karl Rove's flunkies has been schooling the troops on how to use the agency to protect Republican congressional incumbents and screw the Democrats.

So, the solution in the Rockford case is simple: Find a worthy challenger to incumbent GOP Rep. Don Manzullo in next year's election. If the GSA perceives potential trouble for Manzullo, the agency might get cracking on the courthouse project so he can claim credit.

Yes, The Rascal has been encouraged to challenge Manzullo, but it ain't gonna happen. Never. Ever. You see, as a young man, I inhaled (otherwise, the exercise would have proved pointless), and I don't want to have to deal with that and other dingy laundry on the campaign trail.

But, certainly there are others who might give Manzullo a run for his money. You don't even have to win. Just create enough of a fuss to move the GSA off the dime on the courthouse project.

Bad name choice

The Beloit Mall, which went belly up due to various factors (details here), has a new name (details here): Eclipse Center.

One of the dictionary definitions of eclipse: "a falling into obscurity or decline."

Help Wanted: Call 202-456-7041

Position Available: Attorney General of the United States.

Alberto Gonzales lied, according to his former deputy. So, 'Berto is gone.

Don't doubt me on this one.

Forget Thompson

Lots of folks are saying that Hollywood actor Fred Thompson should run for the Republican presidential nomination, and Thompson himself says he's thinking about it.

But wait a minute. We're all forgetting something. Thompson can't get the GOP nomination, because most Republicans don't want Hollywood types shooting their mouths off about political matters.

Republicans hate Hollywood, right?

Drug abuser plays race card

A broadcaster of some note (who's also known for his addiction to hillbilly heroin) says the liberals are attacking Attorney General Alberto Gonzales because he's Hispanic.

Damn! Now everybody's going to know our ultimate motive in this matter. We just can't compete with clever fellows like this radio dude.

Put it next door to the Jane exhibit

The flat-earthers are opening "creation science" museums all across the fruited plain, and The Rascal figures one of them would do nicely in Rockford as a tourist draw.

Of course, some of us would have to distribute flyers to the youngsters visiting the museum to disabuse them of notions that Jane, Rockford's favorite dinosaur, co-existed with human beings.

But let's go for it.

We can be proud

This is perhaps a profound grasp of the obvious, but I'll say it anyway:

The prosecutor firing scandal makes the prosecutors who weren't fired look like toadies and political hacks -- with one exception. Our U.S. attorney here in northern Illinois, Patrick Fitzgerald, has been such a non-toady and non-hack that the Bush administration can't easily get rid of him.

Meanwhile, Josh Marshall, the blogger with the best grasp of this whole business, has this to offer.

UPDATE: Perhaps I've painted the non-fired prosecutors with too broad a brush. A bunch of them, at a meeting in Chicago hosted by Pat Fitzgerald, gave Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a pretty good dressing down the other day.


The Illinois Department of Transportation won't let this guy see its Rockford Amtrak study.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

What Sampson will say

Here's an advance on some of what former Justice Department official Kyle Sampson will say when he testifies before a congressional committee Thursday in the controversy over the Bush administration's sacking of eight federal prosecutors.

As The Rascal has noted on several occasions, this story has a couple of indirect Rockford angles: One of the Justice Department biggies subpoenaed by Congress is a former Rockford guy. And the federal prosecutor in these parts apparently would have been on the Bush hit list were it not for certain factors.

UPDATE: I see that James Madison, the father of the Constitution, has a few observations that might fit this situation.

Best joke of the year so far

From Wonkette: When Newt Gingrich heard that Elizabeth Edwards and Tony Snow have cancer, he served them both with divorce papers.

If you don't get it, read lines 3 and 4 of this. And don't bother to vote. Leave that job to those of us who pay closer attention to political matters.

If you're not an evangelical, you're not a real Christian

That's what Dr. James Dobson and his spokesman say.

Fred Thompson should tell these sniveling bigots to go to hell. On second thought, there's probably no need.

What about the phone call?

One of the reasons that Rockford native Michael Elston, a big shot in the Justice Department, is on a hot seat in the federal prosecutors scandal is that he allegedly threatened retaliation against one of the cashiered U.S. attorneys if the fellow didn't go quietly.

The Rascal reported on the matter weeks ago and has posted follow-ups on several occasions.

The Register Star is out today with an interview with Elston conducted by Katherine Hutt Scott of the paper's Washington bureau -- but she seems not have asked the man about the alleged threatening phone call. At least there's no mention of it in the article.

Some observers have suggested that Elston's call to U.S. Attorney H.E. Cummins might have constituted witness tampering or obstruction of justice.

This is dumb

Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey wants to enhance his role as the Decider, as George Bush would call it.

UPDATE: I almost forgot to mention that you can't complain about this bad idea if you've signed that Positively Rockford pledge (which is explained here).

UPDATE II: Upon further reflection, The Rascal boldly predicts that Morrissey's hare-brained scheme will be strangled in its crib. Meanwhile, it hasn't done any good for prospects of voter approval of the proposed sales-tax increase. There are times when the mayor seems to have a political tin ear.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What global warming?

Oh, you mean the global warming the White House has been trying to cover up.

This is truly creepy

What kind of weird father would drag his daughter to a formal dance and have her make a public vow that she won't have sex before marriage? And offer his own public vow to do what it takes to make sure she keeps hers?

Check out the story here.

Pharmacist balks at morning-after pill

A pharmacist down the road a piece in Morrison, Il., doesn't want to sell morning-after birth-control pills, despite a state regulation requiring him to do so.

The guys say he'll take the matter up to the state Supreme Court.

The Capitol Hill Blog has the story. (Don't miss the comments at the end of the post.)

McCain digs himself a deeper hole

If we weren't talking about death and destruction, this clip of John McCain on CNN this afternoon -- and the subsequent refutation of his remarks by a better-informed reporter -- would be funny.

Instead, it's pathetic.

ComEd thrown onto junk pile

Talk of an electrical rate-freeze bill in the Illinois General Assembly has resulted in the lowering of ComEd's credit rating to junk status.

Whatever. Just so The Rascal doesn't have to pay more for the juice to power this award-winning blog. What's good for The Rascal is good for all of us, right?

How does Pickler hold her job?

When The Rascal labored in the mainstream media for a living and had frequent occasion to peruse wire stories, I was always amazed that the Associated Press assigned a hack like Nedra Pickler to cover national politics.

Never once did I find her even accidentally coming up with any worthwhile insights or valuable perspectives. Her work was not worthy of a bad college newspaper, let alone a major wire service.

Pickler's latest offense is a cheap, inaccurate slam at Barack Obama, suggesting that he's "all style and little substance" and claiming that he's "delivered no policy speeches and provided few details about how he would lead the country."

The piece gets well-deserved smackdowns here and here.

Bad news

You probably already know about this, and The Rascal has nothing to add except to note how sad it is.

Cancer has touched the lives of all of us, if only indirectly, and we never know where, when or how it will touch them again.

Damn! Damn! Damn!

The party of bad grammar is at it again

Gee, you'd think the Republicans would know enough not to misuse the word "Democrat" as an adjective in an official document like this one.

They seem not to have paid any attention to The Rascal's admonition of a while back on this point. Shame on them.

Why should the American people put any stock in the politics of a party that deliberately sets such a bad example for our children with regard to grammar? I have to cover my 12-year-old daughter's ears anytime one of these people comes on television.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Down with rebates

We have early voting here in Illinois, and The Rascal's going to do his duty sometime this week.

But as I mentally prepare for the task (hey, I take this stuff seriously), I find myself upset about something only indirectly related to the election.

You see, I'm voting in favor of an increase in the local sales tax to pay for road repairs. The tax does not apply to purchases of medicine, titled vehicles and store foods. But pretty much everything else is covered -- and, in some cases, over-covered.

By that, I refer to the things people buy that offer mail-in rebates. Deals like that are scams. The sellers know that lots of buyers end up forgetting about the rebate, or misplacing the documentation, or getting discouraged by the paperwork requirements.

And even if you do avail yourself of the mail-in rebate, you're getting scammed. You're paying not only for the product and the regular overhead (with a competitive markup, of course), but also for the costs of administering the rebate program. Then there's the issue of the seller's gall in essentially borrowing money from you and not paying it back for months, if ever.

Another factor here -- this is why the matter came to mind -- is that the sales tax applies to the pre-rebate price you paid for the product in the store. That's true also of so-called instant rebates. (Incidentally, the logic of instant rebates escapes me. Why not just reduce the price by the designated amount?)

Anyway, the sales tax covers the price before any kind of rebate, mail-in or instant.

Now that I've talked myself through this issue, I'm not so upset. In fact, I see a bright side to it all. I don't buy things that have rebates, and those who do will be paying a mite more in sales taxes than I would in their shoes (presuming that the referendum passes).

So, life is good, huh?

Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!

Army recruiter Marcia Ramode apparently decided that this one guy isn't a good prospect because he's gay and black, so she told him to go back to Africa.

One guesses that Marcia's in trouble.

It's all Al Gore's fault

Oh, now I get it.

The Rascal's been wondering why conservative Republicans refuse to recognize the preponderance of scientific evidence suggesting that global warming is a real crisis and that humans are largely to blame for it.

How can they be so obtuse?

Well, as this blogger up in Madison explains, the GOPers simply don't want to be on the same side of the issue as Al Gore. They hate Al Gore (probably because they remember that he got 500,000 more votes for president in 2000 than George W. Bush got, and they just can't deal with that).

Remembering Terri Schiavo

Two years ago this coming Saturday, Terri Schiavo, a 41-year-old Florida woman, died after lingering in a vegetative state for 15 years following a sudden illness.

Thus ended a bizarre political circus that The Rascal sees in retrospect as a misstep by President Bush and congressional Republicans from which they have yet to recover. GOP fortunes have suffered from numerous other factors since then -- an ever-worsening situation in Iraq, federal incompetence in dealing with Hurricane Katrina, scandals here, scandals there, scandals everywhere -- but the Schiavo case was a major turning point.

During that winter just before Schiavo died, Bush and the Republicans were still basking in the glow of their electoral victories of the previous November. Indeed, the president wondered aloud that winter just how he might spend the political capital he had amassed. He had all kinds of bold plans in mind, including "reform" of Social Security. He was in the catbird seat.

Then came the Schiavo case, which already had involved years of legal wrangling over whether to pull the plug on the poor woman in light of indications that her brain was damaged beyond recovery.

The Republican-controlled Congress passed legislation transferring jurisdiction in the case to the federal courts, an effort to stall or avert the pulling of the plug on Schiavo, as had been approved by Florida state courts. President Bush even cut short a vacation at his Texas ranch and hurried back to Washington to sign the bill into law.

Bush and the other Republicans apparently were eager to ingratiate themselves with certain elements of the anti-abortion movement, which had latched onto the Schiavo case as a cause celebre. These politicians also seemed to think that their valiant rush to save Schiavo would endear them to the general populace, but that isn't the way it worked out.

Instead, most Americans were appalled at the government's meddling in the case, as indicated in this poll conducted at the time. Even most self-proclaimed conservatives and a plurality of evangelicals looked askance at the political posturing.

The Republican gang was dumbstruck at the reaction. They had been arguing that Schiavo was not terminally ill. They had agreed with the crackpot theorists who said Schiavo had frequent moments of lucidity and might someday fully recover. They were sure that conservative America would side with them against the evil forces of the ACLU and the culture of death championed by the political left.

The problem for the GOP pols was that most Americans could readily imagine a case like Schiavo's occurring in their own families. Most were able to imagine themselves in Schiavo's situation and having busybody politicians keeping them alive without any practical justification.

After Schiavo died, an autopsy revealed that she had, in fact, been in a vegetative state for many years and that she never would have recovered. It also showed that her brain was barely half the normal size for a woman her age. Thereafter, most of the politicians who had sought to exploit Schiavo's misfortune for their own gain never again uttered her name in public.

But neither have Bush or the Republicans in Congress regained the political footing they lost when they stuck their noses into what should have been none of their business.

Another liberal attack on Bush

Oh, wait a minute. This attack isn't by a liberal after all. It's by a right-winger, Bob Novak, the fabled Prince of Darkness.

Novak says the Bush administration is a bunch of incompetents, and he says a lot of Republicans in Congress think so, too.

Funny smackdown of Bush and Cheney

Warning: This clip of Bill Maher is foul-mouthed.

But it's also hilarious.

"Next 10 years are going to be really bad for the newspaper business"

That's the word from a prominent media analyst, according to this disturbing piece in today's New York Times.

The Rascal, who's had a lifelong love affair with newspapers, hates to see what's happening to the industry. But change is inevitable in this world, and perhaps newspapers will evolve into something better in the long run.

Or am I just whistling past the graveyard?

Ex-Rockford guy might be in big trouble in prosecutor purge scandal

Michael Elston, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Rockford and now a big shot at the Justice Department, might be charged with a felony in the scandal over the Bush administration's sacking of eight federal prosecutors.

That's the theory advanced by Adam Cohen, a lawyer and a member of The New York Times editorial board.

Elston, whom the Rockford Register Star labels a "native" of our town (which The Rascal has not been able to confirm independently), allegedly threatened at least one of the cashiered prosecutors with some kind of retribution if he didn't go silently.

Cohen suggests that Elston's actions might have constituted witness tampering, which is a crime.

This other guy at says there is e-mail evidence that Elston also suggested that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales solemnly swear to Congress that he would "never, never" countenance the dismissal of federal prosecutors for political reasons.

Elston's public profile is sure to rise in the coming weeks.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

U.S. public: Bring 'em home

The Iraq war spending bill approved last week by the U.S. House (against which Rep. Don Manzullo, the Rockford-area Republican voted) is exactly what most Americans favor, especially with regard to setting a deadline for withdrawal of our troops.

Have you met Noah's wife, Joan?

Here's some more stuff on how ignorant the people of this so-called Christian nation are on matters of religion and the Bible.

The Rascal touched upon this subject in this post of several weeks ago.

It's utterly amazing how many people who claim to be devout Christians know little or nothing about the history of their religion or the writings on which it purportedly is based.

The Rascal's had great fun over the years verbally sparring with self-styled true believers who are almost completely unaware of what's actually in the Bible.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Speaking of funny...

Check this out for some very funny stuff from The Daily Show.

Comedy at the Vatican

A certain bishop in Rome probably doesn't intend to be funny with this declaration, but The Rascal (a lapsed Catholic) can't help but laugh.

This guy says "Catholics will do" this, and "Catholics will do" that -- as if the rank-and-file will blindly follow the hierarchy in every instance.

Sure they will. Catholics always do what the Vatican tells them to do. Take artificial birth control, for example. Catholics faithfully abstain from the pill -- except for the tens of millions of them who don't.

This bishop who thinks he can count on Catholics to oppose civil unions for gay folks seems not to understand that many Catholics don't agree with the Vatican's homophobia.

Here's a REAL press conspiracy

The Illinois Press Association is making a big mistake in taking this position on a proposal from Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Don't these people recognize how unethical this makes them look?

These folks get it

The editorial board of the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette has a pretty good grasp of what's involved in the flap over the Bush administration's sacking of eight federal prosecutors.

Note that the paper readily discerns the smell emanating from the Justice Department's emphasis on "loyalty" among U.S. attorneys -- loyalty not to the rule of law, but to the Bush administration.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wait'll the gun nuts hear about this one

Macho alert: This innocent-sounding effort probably is another step toward sapping the real men in our community of their precious bodily fluids.

Why does the NY Times hate Al Gore?

Please don't tell your conservative friends about this. It'll only confuse them.

Conservatives (relatively few of whom seem to have ever read the Times) tend to think of the paper has unswervingly supportive of all liberals. It's not.

Do we really need this legislation?

As some conservative (perhaps George Will, if memory serves) once put it: As long as there are math tests, there will be prayer in public schools.

Indeed, there's prayer every day in every public school, but almost all of it is silent. That's only as it should be. Consider this admonition in the gospel of Matthew: "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men....when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret...."

But that's not good enough for the theocratic crowd. They don't want kids deciding for themselves when to pray or doing so without a conspicuous designation of piety. They love public piety. They want government agents (which is what public school teachers are) to tell your children when to pray. If they could get away with it, they'd also like for these government agents to tell your kids how to pray. Oh, how they long to hear choruses of young voices singing the praises of God in public school classrooms.

But, of course, most of these theocrats recognize that open prayer in public school is a tough sell in the courts, what with all the heathen judges we have these days. So, their fall-back position is to promote moments of silence in the classroom during which students can ponder whatever they please, whether it's God (nudge-nudge) or not.

Here in Illinois, we already have a law allowing for moments of silence in public schools. But now, there's a proposal to make such moments mandatory.

Shouldn't it be up to parents, not school officials, to advise children on when, how and where to pray (or to have moments of silence during which prayers might be offered)? Why do the zealots insist on getting government involved in religion?

Fitz to succeed Gonzales?

This columnist thinks that Patrick Fitzgerald, federal prosecutor for the Northern District of Illinois (including the Rockford area) would be a good choice to succeed Alberto Gonzales as U.S. attorney when the latter gets canned (which is inevitable).

Belvidere man knows better than CIA boss

This letter in today's Rockford Register Star from a guy in Belvidere contends that Valerie Plame was not a covert agent for the CIA -- no matter that CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden says she was.

This guy also says Plame was the person who sent her husband, Joe Wilson, to Niger -- no matter that she lacked the authority to do so, as she has testified under oath.

The Rascal puts more stock in what this other guy says than in what the Belvidere dude says.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Letter from an Illinois father

Read this from the Chicago Tribune (and be sure to stay with it through the comments at the end).

Fox News viewers a solid voting bloc

Here's a pretty good piece about Fox News.

The best part, well worth pondering at length, is this one:

Fox News viewers supported George Bush over John Kerry by 88 percent to 7
percent. No demographic segment, other than Republicans, was as united in
supporting Bush. Conservatives, white evangelical Christians, gun owners, and
supporters of the Iraq war all gave Bush fewer votes than did regular Fox News

"Co-equal" fiction arises again

At a news conference Tuesday in Washington, a group of prominent conservatives unveiled what they call the American Freedom Agenda.

Writer Richard Viguerie, one of the leaders of this effort, had this to say:

"One of the most important principles of conservatism is that our constitutional system of government is one of limited powers divided among three separate but co-equal branches.

"Just as a three-legged stool that has one leg longer than the other is unstable and could cause serious harm, our system of government will be unbalanced and potentially dangerous if all three branches of government are not co-equal."

Ah, but the three branches of the federal government are not co-equal, as The Rascal pointed out more than a month ago.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

What global warming?

Oh, you mean the global warming that was downplayed by an oil-industry stooge in the Bush White House?

The Rascal told you so

The Washington Post reports today that Peter Fitzgerald, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois (including the Rockford area), was identified on a Justice Department chart as insufficiently loyal to the Bush administration -- as were two other federal prosecutors who ended up getting fired.

So why wasn't Fitzgerald fired? Because, as The Rascal noted here and here, Fitz was made politically radioactive by his assignment to the CIA leak case -- especially in light of his prosecution of Scooter Libby. They couldn't fire him without creating a huge political stink.

But, of course, a huge stink ensued anyway.

Monday, March 19, 2007

C'mon! Don't tease us

If they're going to report that this guy cussed in front of girl scouts, why don't they at least give us a hint of what he actually said -- lest we think he dropped an F-bomb or something.

Bye Bye Berto?

The right-wing of the blogosphere seems still to be supportive of the attorney general, but not many Republicans in Congress are.

And word is out tonight that the White House is looking for a successor to Gonzales.

If there's really nothing to this scandal, as some folks argue, why isn't the GOP standing firm and hanging tough? The answer: Because there is something to this scandal.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Fair and balanced?

Britt Hume, prominent bloviator for Fox News, showed his true colors again this morning.

Expect his misinformation to be passed off as fact in countless conservative blogs over the next few days.

Another provocative take on Illinois politics

On Friday, The Rascal offered a link to a piece on Illinois politics by Aaron Chambers, the Rockford Register Star's dude in Springfield.

Today, we give you this other guy's slants on what Chambers wrote and what other folks are saying.

Looking back four years to shock and awe

Frank Rich of The New York Times has a great little chronology of events in March, 2003.

Notes on the housing bubble

This blog cites the Rockford area, among other locales, in making a point or two about the housing market.

How the blogosphere dug up a scandal

The Los Angeles Times has a good piece on how Talking Points Memo (a blog listed under "Rascal's Favorites" on the right side of this site) led the charge in the matter of the Bush's administration's sacking of eight federal prosecutors.

It's just another example of how blogs sometimes set the agenda for the more traditional news media.

Apples-and-oranges comparison

For the upteenth time, Bill Clinton's dismissal of 93 federal prosecutors at the beginning of his presidency was not the same thing as the current administration's dismissal of eight federal prosecutors in the middle of George W. Bush's presidency.

Even a lot of Republicans (as this Newsweek poll attests) are upset with what the Bush team has done in this case.

There are more insights on this matter here, here, here and here. Enjoy.

The "liberal" WaPo observes an anniversary

Here's a pretty good deconstruction of an editorial in today's Washington Post, wherein the fourth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq is marked.

Oh, yeah. To hear some people tell it, the Post is a relentlessly liberal rag. Sure it is.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A tragic, gripping tale

This story about a U.S. Army officer in Iraq is troubling.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Walter Reed getting bum rap?

To hear all these liberal news media tell it, Walter Reed Army Medical Center is a pit of filth and vermin and a disgrace to this great nation.

The truth of the matter is that Walter Reed has some very nice accommodations, truly swank digs, nothing but the best.

Well, yeah, these special quarters are reserved for politicians and their wives. And, yeah, the wounded troops are not invited to stay therein.

But let's not have it said that all military personnel are barred from these spiffy rooms at Walter Reed. No, sir. The fact is that if you're a Medal of Honor recipient, you're more than welcome.

So, there, you liberal traitors!

Here's a great piece on Illinois politics

Aaron Chambers, who heads the Rockford Register Star's Springfield Bureau, has an excellent article on state politics in the current edition of Illinois Issues magazine.

Read it here.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

What global warming?

Oh, you mean THIS global warming. Well, yes, that is a bit alarming, isn't it?

Buchanan rag plans racist attack on Obama

The author of this forthcoming piece has a long record of racist diatribes.

Unfortunately, we're going to see a whole lot more of this kind of garbage in the coming months.

Bush gang makes Ronald Reagan cry

Time magazine has the shocking story.

Will Illinois OK same-sex civil unions?

The sponsor of the bill is giving up for now on legalizing gay marriages, opting instead for legislation on civil unions.

This guy has the story.

Ex-Rockford guy to be subpoenaed

Michael Elston, a Justice Department officially who previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Rockford, is going to be hauled before the Senate Judiciary Committee to explain his role in the Bush administration's controversial sacking of eight federal prosecutors.

That should be fun to watch.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Big difference from Clinton's situation

Some folks are still pushing hard with the argument that the Bush administration's actions in the controversial case of eight federal prosecutors getting sacked are pretty much what Bill Clinton did when he was president.

Actually, they're pretty much different.

The Rascal has written about this case here, here, here and here.

How do the troops feel about serving with gays?

According to this Zogby poll, 73 percent of U.S. military personnel who've done duty in Iraq or Afghanistan say they have no problem with serving alongside homosexuals.

So much for the theory that allowing gays in the military is bad for morale.

Things for all of us to like -- or dislike

Social critic and author Camille Paglia writes a monthly column for, and her latest outing has plenty for conservatives and liberals alike to appreciate or disdain.

Be sure to read it all. You'll have to click through four sections of the piece.

Did Rove try to block probe of George Ryan?

The Chicago Tribune quotes former U.S. Sen. Peter Fitzgerald, the Illinois Republican, to the effect that Bush aide Karl Rove wanted a partisan hack appointed as U.S. attorney in northern Illinois (including the Rockford area) to avoid prosecution of corrupt GOPers like former Gov. George Ryan.

Fitzgerald resisted the pressure and nominated Patrick Fitzgerald (no relation) for the post. The rest, as they say, is history.

Prosecutor Fitzgerald went on to nail Ryan, among others, and later was appointed to handle the CIA leak investigation, which led to the recent conviction of Scooter Libby, former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney.

The Libby prosecution made Fitzpatrick immune from recent Bush administration dismissals of certain U.S. attorneys deemed insufficiently loyal to the Republican Party. That's a point The Rascal made in this entry of nearly two weeks ago.

Damn liberal media!

Don't say anything about this to your conservative friends.

It'll only confuse them. They think the mainstream media lean way, way to the left. The reality of the situation likely would disorient them.

Gonzales will get the gate

It's just a matter of time before U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is shown to the door.

Some folks in the Bush administration recognize that Gonzales is a liability and must be jettisoned.

UPDATE: Whole bunches of editorial pages are calling for Gonzales to hit the bricks.

Cincy Christians wrangle over Rapture

The Rascal loves fights like this one over scripture, especially since polls show that most Christians know very little about what's actually in the Bible and how it got there.

Consider this: Robert W. Funk, the former president of the Society for Biblical Literature, reports in his book "Honest to Jesus" that a majority of Americans who call themselves Christians "cannot name the four canonical gospels."

Consider this: A recent survey shows that 60 percent of Americans can't name five of the Ten Commandments.

The Rascal finds that a good working knowledge of scripture comes in handy in arguments with religious zealots who don't know what they're talking about. It's especially useful in dealing with folks who say that every jot and tittle in the Bible should be taken literally (which is impossible, if you've got half a brain, mainly because the Bible has numerous contradictions).

No gays allowed -- sometimes

The U.S. military seems not to be so tough in weeding out gays since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started.

Here are the numbers.

On second thought...

The Rascal was perhaps a bit rash yesterday in reacting to a new branding logo for Rockford.

For one thing, I called it a slogan, which is a bit of a misnomer. It's a logo (as can be seen here) to be employed in a broad marketing strategy (as explained here).

I'm still not too keen on the "real" and "original" stuff, but....we'll see how it works.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Here's that pushback I promised

Yesterday, The Rascal told you (thanks to Drudge) that The New York Times was working on a story in which certain scientists criticize Al Gore for alleged errors in selling the global-warming crisis.

I even allowed as how the Times' story might trigger a huge buzz, and I predicted that there would be pushback from people who side with Gore.

Well, the article, which appeared today, was no big deal, and the buzz hasn't amounted to much. But there has been some pushback, and here it is.

These numbers are downright astonishing

Take your time reading these poll results. Ponder their implications. Ask yourself how the situation has come to this.

A majority of Americans say their president lied to them to justify the war in Iraq.

A plurality of Americans say the United States cannot win the war.

A majority of Americans wants U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq immediately or within a year.

A majority of Americans wants Congress to block funding for additional troops in Iraq.

The breadth and depth of this antiwar sentiment among the citizenry suggests profound changes in the nation's political psyche, changes that even one as sagacious as The Rascal cannot fully grasp in every case.

Among the factors to consider in all of this is that, in turning against the war, the American public has swept aside a long-standing cultural-political bias in favor of any military adventure undertaken by any U.S. president. If you wrap the issue in the flag from the get-go, you've automatically got a majority on your side.

Conventional wisdom also has held -- at least until now -- that a large percentage of cultural conservatives can be counted on to resist antiwar impulses out of distaste for memories of (and the libertine legacy of) the sinful Sixties. You know -- hippies, drugs, sex and rock 'n' roll.

But I think the war against the Sixties is just about over. Come on. That decade ended 37 years ago. Some of the hippies from back then are on Medicare-paid walkers today. Besides, the bald lies on which the Iraq war was sold and the utter incompetence with which it's been prosecuted have softened some people's attitudes about those damned draft-card burners of way back when.

There are so many ways in which this aforementioned poll, conducted by one of the most reputable companies in the business, signals a turning point for America.

A few questions concerning Gen. Pace's condemnation of homosexuality as "immoral"?

Isn't it immoral to send U.S. troops into war without adequate equipment? Without an exit strategy? Without valid intelligence to justify the conflict? Without adequate facilities and procedures to humanely care for troops wounded in the war?

Isn't Pace's attitude toward homosexuality pretty much the same as that of our terrorist enemies?

Hasn't the U.S. military lost the services of many valuable personnel (including linguists, who are in especially short supply) by dismissing known homosexuals?

Didn't the U.S. military previously bar blacks from the service on grounds that morale among white troops would suffer? Wasn't the same rationale used to bar women from certain military duties? Isn't that "morale" excuse one of the reasons why openly gay people are barred today?

Has Gen. Pace told Vice President Cheney that his lesbian daughter is "immoral"?

Is not Eric Alva (the first American wounded in the Iraq war) a homosexual? Has Gen. Pace told this Marine, who lost a leg, that he's immoral? Are there not other homosexuals who have lost limbs or lives in military service to their country?

By the way, Staff Sgt. Alva had this to say in response to Gen. Pace's statements:

"Judging gay men and women in the military for factors unrelated to their fitness to serve undermines our military's effectiveness. Certain leaders' bigotry should not be a rational basis for discrimination.

"This kind of prejudice is going to continue to have a direct impact on our national security as we allow qualified gay men and women to lose their jobs for no good reason. This policy - and General Pace's bigotry - is outdated, unnecessary and counter to the same American values our soldiers are giving their lives for each and every day."

The Rascal suppresses his wit

Rockford's new branding slogan, revealed in this story in today's Register Star, is a tempting target for satire -- too tempting. It'd be like shooting fish in a barrel.

You'll get no jokes from me on this matter.

For one thing, I'm not opposed to energetic efforts to market the community to the world at large. For another, I'm not yet able to judge the worthiness of the materials and approaches that will be used in tandem with the slogan.

Still, I find the slogan -- "Rockford -- Real. Original." -- underwhelming, at least at first glance. It seems not to say anything. "Real"? Compared to what? "Original"? What can that possibly mean?

Ask yourself this question: If you saw a slogan that said "Decatur -- Real. Original." what would be your reaction?

Am I missing something here? How is this slogan any better than previous efforts of this kind? Is it better than "Rockford -- a different kind of greatness"? Is it better than "Make it in Rockford" or "Rockford -- The top of Illinois"?

I also can't help but wonder if the process by which this slogan was hatched included any devil's advocacy, any freedom among those involved to say that these three words aren't going to get it.

Why weren't this slogan and several alternatives placed before the local public for reaction before a final decision was made? Why was the "real-original" approach unveiled as a fait accompli? An appeal for public input might have produced a few better ideas.

These questions, I dare say, should not be dismissed as just another example of the negativism that has plagued this city for so long. Let's not get so carried away with our quest for positivism that nobody will dare express any doubts for fear of being labeled an obstructionist or worse.

UPDATE: The Rascal has erred. The new branding slogan for Rockford is not "Rockford -- Real. Original." Rather, it features the words "Real" and "Original" above or alongside a larger, more stylized rendering of the word "Rockford."

Quick! Stone him! He's evil!

U.S. Rep. Pete Stark, a California Democrat, admits that he doesn't believe in God.

Of course, there probably are scores more members of Congress whose notions of a supreme being are shaky at best. Stark's just the only one who's had the guts to say so.

The Rascal has personally known hundreds of politicians over the years, and more than a few of them have not been above making public statements that falsely implied devout religiosity.

Hey, in politics, you tell the booboisie what they want to hear. Else, you won't go far.

Jab at Gore by The New York Times is soft

Here's the story The Rascal (on a tip from Drudge) told you was coming.

This thing isn't the smackdown I had expected. It'll stir more debate on global warming, but I don't think it badly damages Gore's bona fides on this issue.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff says Cheney's daughter is immoral

That's how this guy characterizes remarks made by Gen. Peter Pace.

This'll be fun, if it happens

The Drudge Report says today that The New York Times is working on a prominent story in which certain scientists knock Al Gore for peddling allegedly faulty claims regarding global warming.

If this story runs, there'll be pushback, of course, from other scientists and from those ready to protect Gore politically.

Lots of people on both sides of the global-warming controversy have invested a lot of rhetoric and reputation in the issue. This includes scientists, politicians, editorialists, lobbyists and others -- even The Rascal. None of us is going to be eager to eat crow.

In a matter like this, The New York Times can have tremendous influence. Even some of the right-wingers who hate The Times for its supposed political bias will at least tacitly acknowledge that the paper has an effect on the national agenda.

Who cares if Sharpton opposes Obama?

The question of whether Barack Obama will get the Democratic presidential nod is not going to be decided by the laying on of hands by the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Sharpton, according to this piece in the New York Post (to which I ordinarily don't like to link, what with it being the print equivalent of Fox News), is jealous as hell at the excitement Obama's candidacy has generated. Accordingly, the good reverend is bad-mouthing the junior senator from Illinois all over the place.

But why should anybody care? Is the African-American community going to withhold most of its vote from Obama just because Sharpton is in a snit? Don't bet on it.

Sharpton has done a lot of good things for the downtrodden over the years, but his virtues are offset to some extent by his tendency to shoot his mouth off before the facts are known.

For example, take this case, as it's described in Wikipedia:

"In the Tawana Brawley case, a 15-year-old black girl was found smeared with feces, lying in a garbage bag, her clothing torn and burned and with various slurs and epithets written on her body in charcoal. Brawley claimed that she had been assaulted and raped by six white men, some of them police officers, in the town of Wappingers Falls, New York.

"The incident made headlines nationwide. Alton H. Maddox and C. Vernon Mason joined Sharpton in taking up her cause. A grand jury was convened; after seven months of examining police and medical records, the jury determined that Brawley lied about being assaulted by the police.

"Sharpton, Maddox and Mason were later successfully sued for statements made in connection with the case, and ordered to pay $345,000 in damages. All three falsely accused the case prosecutor, Steven Pagones, as being among those who abducted and raped Brawley.[11]The jury found Sharpton liable for making seven defamatory statements about Pagones."

If I was Obama, I wouldn't want Sharpton's endorsement, and I would brag about not getting it.

Clinton did it, too, right? Wrong!

In an effort to downplay the scandal over the Bush administration's dismissal of eight federal prosecutors, a caller on Rockford radio this afternoon said Bill Clinton fired "93 federal judges" when he became president.

Wrong! For one thing, the president can't fire federal judges. What the caller really meant is that Clinton replaced all 93 federal prosecutors, which is routine when there's a change of political parties in the White House. The Bush people did that, too.

What's unusual about the current controversy is that Republican-appointed prosecutors have been cashiered during a Republican administration -- apparently for political reasons. The suspicion is that these prosecutors were too independent of political influence in doing their jobs.

For more on this matter, read this and this.

Look what just crawled out from under the rocks

The Rascal has made no secret of his dislike for John McCain, but neither am I eager to be on the same side as assholes like these.

Why does the Bush gang hate vets from Illinois?

This piece from The New York Times shows that Iraq war vets from Illinois are not getting fair treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Part of the problem, you see, is that the agency is headed by political hack Jim Nicholson, a former national chairman of the Republican Party who once referred to Dick Cheney as "one of the most qualified, beloved people in America."

Nicholson took over at the V.A. in 2004 upon the resignation of Anthony Principi, who had enjoyed the confidence of veterans organizations but who apparently had pissed off the Bush administration by telling Congress that his agency was short on funds to deal with the effects of the war in Iraq. Principi was shown to the door.

Wither the news media?

The Internet and other revolutionary influences are changing the news media, financially as well as in terms of content, at a dizzying pace.

This piece from the L.A. Times (which is itself a troubled property of the Tribune Company) raises some interesting issues.

Sign The Rascal's Rockford pledge

In light of the Register Star's persistent pimping for the Positively Rockford Pledge, the latest example of which appeared on today's editorial page, The Rascal is prompted to mount a counteroffensive.

The Positively Rockford pledge, while well-intended, has a few problems, as The Rascal noted in this post last month.

Those problems have been rectified in The Rascal's own Rockford pledge, which reads as follows:

"I promise to promote Rockford's good points and defend the community against unfair criticism, whether from within or without. But this pledge should not be construed as a vow of silence in the face of local corruption, mismanagement or injustices."

That second sentence counters the principal problem with the pledge the paper is pushing.

Your subscription to (or criticism of) The Rascal's pledge is welcome in the comments section of this post.

This is lots of fun

Do yourself a favor: Set aside 10 minutes or so and carefully check out this gallery of snapshots from Fox News.

Some of this stuff seems like satire, but, unfortunately, it isn't. Still, it's good for yucks.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Rascal's long search for the dumbest politician in America has finally ended

This story is almost two years old, but it's especially timely today for its account of a Kansas state lawmaker's declaration that daylight-saving time is tantamount to "ripping pages from the Bible."

How does a guy like this get elected to public office? Why is Kansas such a goony state?

Ex-Rockford guy involved in scandal over Bush team's sacking of federal prosecutors

Chuck Sweeny has a column in this morning's Register Star about the hot seat currently occupied by Michael Elston, a Justice Department official who previously worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in Rockford.

Elston is alleged to have made a threat of retaliation against at least one of eight federal prosecutors who have been fired for what seems to some us to have been purely political reasons -- and who are not going quietly.

In other developments in this story, there's new pressure on Elston's boss, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, to resign. And now there's talk that Elston may have committed a crime (to wit, obstruction of justice).

What a wonderful bunch this Bush crowd is!

UPDATE: Newsweek is out with a report that Elston also called another cashiered federal prosecutor in the apparent hope that publicity about the matter could be avoided.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

General says Bush gang bad for U.S. military

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, a veteran of the Iraq war, says it's a mistake to think that conservatives are good for the military.

Eaton says the Bush administration and its pals in Congress have “absolutely been the worst thing that’s happened to the United States Army and the United States Marine Corps.”

Maureen Dowd, darling among certain libs, isn't much better than Ann Coulter, darling of the fascist right

This essay by Jamison Foser of Media Matters is worth reading if only because it disses Maureen Dowd, the way-too-cutesy columnist for The New York Times who's obsessed with superficialities.

In the final analysis, Dowd's as bad as Ann Coulter, although a little more presentable in polite company.

Here's the kind of so-called sport the city of Rockford is buying into

The so-called sport of hockey is facing another scandal regarding violence, which gives The Rascal pause concerning the city of Rockford's acquisition of a minor-league franchise.

Why would city officials want to be involved in such a cretinous business? And why, as we've asked here before, isn't thuggery in a hockey game prosecuted as a crime?

It's shameful that the city is investing public monies in something where this kind of sportsmanship is not uncommon. What's next? City-sponsored Toughman Contests at the MetroCentre?

Oh, right. I forgot. We're not supposed to display negative attitudes about the goings-on in our community.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Fuss over Gannett paper in Cincinnati

Sounds like civic boosterism at the Cincinnati Enquirer isn't sitting well with everybody in the Queen City.

Rascal on the brink of immortality

It's been only six days now since The Rascal coined the word "Waltergate" as a term for the scandal concerning Walter Reed Army Medical Center -- and it's already beginning to catch on.

This guy, for example, is especially impressed.

Soon, The Rascal will merit an article in Wikipedia. Then, a career as a popular speaker on the banquet circuit will make me a wealthy man. Then, I'll become a Republican (and I'll blame Waltergate -- the scandal, not the word -- on the wounded troops themselves).

Yes, life as The Rascal is good.

Rudy, McCain and Newt have had eight wives in total, an average that exceeds the Rascal's piddling two

These guys, all of them actual or potential candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, have been married so many times, they have rice scars. (Thank you. I'm here all week. Try the veal.)

Newt, in apparent preparation for throwing his extra-large hat into the ring, humbled himself the other day before Dr. James Dobson, the notorious prevaricator and self-appointed spokesman for God.

In an appearance on Dobson's radio program, Newt admitted to having cheated on one of his wives even while he was leading the push for impeachment of fellow womanizer Bill Clinton.

Well, I don't know about Dobson, but I, for one, am willing to forgive Newt for his transgressions. I think he should run for president. I hope he gets the GOP nomination. So does every other Democrat with an ounce of political sense. He would be eminently beatable.

Lest we forget

With all the hubub about the despicable Ann Coulter's use of the word "faggot" last week, let's not pretend this is her worst offense. It's not even close.

In 2004, Coulter attacked then-Sen. Max Cleland, a Democrat from Georgia who had lost three limbs in Vietnam and was awarded the Silver Star for his valor. She said he was really no hero.

Reactions to Coulter's filthy slam against Cleland can be found here and here and here. (By the way, the last of those three links is to a piece noting that Coulter's anti-Cleland column has been expunged from her archives.)

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Al Gore never said he invented the Internet

This letter in today's Rockford Register Star contains a passing reference to the myth, popular among Republicans, that Al Gore once claimed to have invented the Internet.

GOPers love to chortle over that one. The nerve of that guy! Invented the Internet! What nonsense!

The reality is that Gore never made any such claim. In an interview on CNN in 1999, Gore, who was then the sitting vice president and a candidate to succeed Bill Clinton in the White House, said this by way of reviewing his record:

“During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet,” Gore said. “I took the initiative in moving forward a whole range of initiatives that have proven to be important to our country’s economic growth, environmental protection, improvements in our educational system.”

Notice that Gore took credit for leadership in Congress in creating the Internet. He never said he "invented" the Internet. Was his claim to such leadership legitimate? Well, here's what Republican Newt Ginrich said about that:

"(I)n all fairness, Gore is the person who, in the Congress, most systematically worked to make sure that we got to an Internet, and the truth is—and I worked with him starting in 1978 when I got [to Congress], we were both part of a 'futures group'—the fact is, in the Clinton administration, the world we had talked about in the ’80s began to actually happen."

Way back in 1988, The Guardian, a British paper, reported this:

"American computing scientists are campaigning for the creation of a 'superhighway' which would revolutionise data transmission. Legislation has already been laid before Congress by Senator Albert Gore of Tennessee, calling for government funds to help establish the new network, which scientists say they can have working within five years, at a cost of Dollars 400 million."

Years later, when Gore was vice president, computer scientist Vinton Cerf, widely known as the Father of the Internet, had this to say:

“I think it is very fair to say that the Internet would not be where it is in the United States without the strong support given to it and related research areas by the vice president."

History shows that Gore's claim to leadership in congressional action regarding the Internet was ignored by the media and not distorted into a claim that he invented the Net until the Republican Party cooked up that falsehood a few days later.

A useful chronology of the controversy can he found here (you have to scroll down a little to get to the good part).

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Bush administration disses God!

A stupid war sold to the public on a pack of lies. Mistreatment of wounded troops. Big federal deficits created by tax breaks for zillionaires. Scandals here. Scandals there. Scandals everywhere.

Such has been the legacy of the Bush gang, as even a growing number of Republicans realize. But this is going too far: They thought they could get away with keeping "In God We Trust" off our new $1 coin. Thank heavens, however, they've been caught.

But alas, The Rascal fears that the nation's self-appointed guardians of religious purity -- the Robertsons, Falwells, Dobsons, et al -- won't even raise a whimper. They've sold their souls to George W. Bush, whom they consider president of the United States by divine right.

If this coinage disgrace had occurred on Bill Clinton's watch, the aforementioned spiritual leaders would have demanded that he be boiled in oil -- or that he go hunting with Dick Cheney.

Our nation is in deep trouble.

Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore

On the Don Imus program the other morning, the bumper music included a recording (by whom, I don't know) of the old John Prine song "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore."

Prine wrote this clever little ditty in 1968 as a protest against the Vietnam War. But it's no less applicable to the current U.S. military misadventure.

The lyrics:

While digesting Reader's Digest
In the back of the dirty book store
A plastic flag with gum on the back
Fell out on the floor.
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside
Slapped it on my window shield
And if I could see Old Betsy Ross
I'd tell her how good I feel


But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more
They're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.

Well, I went to the bank this morning
And the cashier he said to me,
"If you join the Christmas club
We'll give you ten of them flags for free."
Well, I didn't mess around a bit
I took him up on what he said.
And I stuck them stickers all over my car
And one on my wife's forehead.

(Repeat chorus)

Well, I got my window shield so filled
With flags I couldn't see.
So, I ran the car upside a curb
And right into a tree.
By the time they got a doctor down
I was already dead.
And I'll never understand why the man
Standing in the Pearly Gates said...

"But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
We're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more."

Some libs pushing another ill-advised boycott

A couple of weeks ago, The Rascal opined that threats of an organized boycott of advertisers on Fox News Channel does not serve the cause of free expression in the media.

Now, some of our liberal friends are launching another boycott effort, this time against advertisers on Ann Coulter's Web site. It's a bad idea.

What's worse is that the guy pushing this anti-Coulter effort says it "is not a call to boycott." Well, it damn well is a threat to boycott, which is pretty much the same thing.

Look, I think Ann Coulter is awful. But to boycott her advertisers, or to threaten to do so, is bad for all of us. It only makes advertisers afraid to touch anything that involves controversy.

This is too delicious to pass up

The Rascal somehow missed this letter to the Rockford Register Star when it was published a few weeks ago, but it's not too late to have fun with its preposterous assertions.

The writer's basic premise is that American liberals are to blame for the attacks of 9/11 because they're so darned...well, so darned liberal. Oh, and they're "Bush-bashing boo birds" to boot.

This guy's thinking is that bin Laden attacked us because of same-sex unions and the excesses of the ACLU. He seems to suggest that to prevent any recurrences on bin Laden's part, we should adopt a culture in this country that would be acceptable to the al-Qaida terrorists.

You see, our troops are being killed and wounded because Muslims consider us too liberal. And, by God, we are too liberal. In other words, the terrorists are right.

As for the fact that the vast majority of Americans disapprove of President Bush's handling of his job in general and the war in Iraq in particular, that just proves that our poisonous liberal culture is leading us to doom.

Wake up, America, and heed the message Osama bin Laden is sending us. He wants us to turn away from liberalism. Let's do it before he attacks us again. Down with the ACLU! Down with the gays! God bless George W. Bush.

(By the way, today's Rockford paper includes another negative response to the anti-liberal nonsense at issue here.)

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Mr. Straight Talk headed for oblivion

The Rascal has been telling you for weeks that the presidential candidacy of John McCain is doomed, and now here's more evidence supporting that prediction.

I used to admire McCain -- until he starting kissing up to the same creeps in the Bush camp (Karl Rove's people) who slurred him in the South Carolina Republican primary of 2000.

Lately, it's been almost painful to watch McCain's disintegration. He's been desperately flailing about in a quest for renewed political traction, flip-flopping on issues, contradicting himself, acting weird. Even the mainstream media, most of whom previously embraced him, are figuratively shaking their heads.

It's over for McCain. He's done. There's no way he'll win the Republican nomination, and it's not even likely that he'll remain in the running through the end of summer.

I've also said that Rudy Giuliani's bid for the GOP presidential nod is hopeless, and I'm standing by that prediction despite his big lead in the polls these days. Once the hard-core right-wingers in the Republican fold realize that Giuliani is pro-choice, pro-gay rights, anti-gun and thrice-married (once to his second cousin), they'll turn against him en masse.

The Rascal is right again

It was impressive enough that The Rascal correctly predicted hours ago that the jury in the Scooter Libby trial would return verdicts today, but it's eerie, if I say so myself, that I also foresaw guilty verdicts on at least two of the five felony charges.

As it turned out, Libby was found guilty on four out of five charges.

By the way, The Rascal, political seer nonpareil, is available for public appearances at corporate meetings, social events, seances -- whatever. The fee is 5K, plus expenses. (A surcharge of 2K applies to Republican gatherings because of the added burden of having to explain everything so carefully.)

In retrospect, this is pretty funny stuff

Our friends on the political right are wont to declare that the mainstream media have hated President Bush and his war from the get-go.

The truth of the matter, of course, is something else. Take, for example, all the gushing we heard when Bush landed a plane on an aircraft carrier to declare "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq.

Back then, 69 percent of Americans approved of Bush's handling of the war. It's a different story today, as these numbers make clear.

Rascal predicts Libby verdicts

The Rascal figures the jury will return verdicts today in the Scooter Libby trial and expects that the former aide to Dick Cheney will be found guilty on at least two of the five felony counts against him.

But then, The Rascal also thought O.J. Simpson would be convicted, too.

The Rockford paper is a leftist organ?

The Rascal's favorite letters to the Rockford Register Star are those that accuse the paper of a leftist bias -- like this one.

The regular lineup of syndicated columnists in the RRS includes such conservatives as Cal Thomas, Charles Krauthammer and Kathleen Parker, but this dude from Rockton seems not to notice.

Well, at least he's not as obtuse as the reader who once complained that the editorials in the RRS are opinionated.

Monday, March 5, 2007

It's not only Walter Reed

The Washington Post is out with another story today on the scandalous mistreatment of wounded U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The letters from veterans at facilities across the country are enough to make your blood boil.

If the politicians in Washington don't do something about this situation -- and do it now -- you can dismiss their rhetoric about supporting the troops as so much obscenity.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration is playing a cynical game of politics with its budget for veterans' health care.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Why does Fox News hate our troops?

Fox News pontificator Brit Hume (he of the arrogant, pseudo-patrician manner) expressed concern this morning about the Waltergate scandal, but not out of compassion for the wounded troops.

No, Hume is mainly worried about how the scandal reflects poorly on the Bush administration. He also figures that the administration would not have fired some of the brass hats at Walter Reed were it not for the fact that those pesky Democrats now control Congress.

Indeed, Hume seems to regret that the administration held anybody accountable in this matter.

Said he: “This is an administration which is known or had been known for sticking by people even when they were embattled.”

It's all politics to Hume. To hell with the troops.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Yet another take on the CPAC (wherein a guy named Lincoln comes in for some dissing)

According to the Moonie paper (to which our friends on the political right repair for a comforting alternative to real news), Rudy Giuliani turned off some of the attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference by speaking favorably of Abraham Lincoln.

DailyKos has the skinny on this matter.

Remember where you first heard this one

The Rascal, always on the lookout for an opportunity to coin a trendy term, has come up with one.

Hereafter, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal shall be known as Waltergate.

A thorough search of the Internets (a Bushism) by way of Google indicates that this Waltergate word has never been used before (except in careless misspellings of Watergate).

Tomorrow, I will probably come up with another new word. Don't miss it.

Speaking of the CPAC...

My mention of the Conservative Political Action Conference in the post just below this one brings to mind another angle on that gathering of true American patriots:

According to this guy, there are no military recruiters at the conference. Go figure.

The place is packed with people under the age of 30 who think the war in Iraq is a great idea. Doesn't that present the Pentagon with a wonderful opportunity to sign-up a bunch of go-getters and thereby ease the current strain on our nation's armed forces?

It doesn't? These fresh-faced Republican kids aren't eager to put their asses on the line for the cause?

Then, why don't they call it the Chickenhawks Political Action Conference?

Oh, right. Silly me. Ann Coulter wouldn't want to appear under that kind of banner.

Ann Coulter uses the F-word (no, not THAT one)

The Rascal has heretofore studiously avoided any mention of Ann Coulter on this award-winning blog -- mainly because I consider her a female version of Rush Limbaugh, a mere shockmistress more than a thoughtful commentator.

But I'm making an exception here to take note of the umbrage even among right-wing bloggers at Coulter's public reference to Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards as a "faggot."

The forum for this bit of garbage from Coulter's mouth was the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. Some in the audience were said to be greatly amused by the F-bomb, but some apparently were not.

Some were downright worried that the conservative movement might be tainted by its association with such a repulsive person.

Hey, you lie down with dogs (the female variety of which are called...uh, uh...what's the word?), you come up with fleas.

UPDATE: As an added bonus at no extra charge, The Rascal offers this link to thoughts about Coulter from the left side of the blogosphere. No need to thank me. I'm here to serve.

UPDATE II: The Edwards campaign is using the Coulter hubub to raise money.

Scaling back on Jane Addams

In this editorial in today's Rockford Register Star, it's reported that Richard Kneedler, interim president of Rockford College, told the paper's editorial board this week that the college is scaling back its emphasis on the legacy of famed social reformer Jane Addams, the school's most celebrated alumna.

Kneedler is paraphrased to the effect that Addams is being de-emphasized in favor of a more forward-looking theme at the college. You know, the focus is on tomorrow, not yesterday. Ever onward and all that stuff.

The Rascal, a great admirer of Addams, isn't buying Kneedler's excuse. Rather, I can't help but sense that the school -- perhaps at the bidding of certain alumni -- is unseemly eager to retreat from the homage it paid Addams under the presidency of Paul Pribbenow, who left Rockford last year to take the reins at a college in Minnesota.

Jane Addams was a radical reformer whose writings, speeches and political activities made many of her contemporaries uncomfortable and apparently prompted her alma mater to almost completely ignore her for decades after her death.

Pribbenow reversed that course during his four years at Rockford and sought to promote Addams and her legacy of activism as an inspiration to students and faculty.

And now his efforts are being undone.

I'd like to be disabused of these suspicions, but I doubt that will happen.

Too bad.

Friday, March 2, 2007

You're doin' a heckuva job, Mr. President

The party that considers itself superior in military matters and far more supportive of the troops than you-know-who finds itself with a standard-bearer in the White House who's turned the nation's armed forces into a catastrophe.

Check out these factors.

In 49 weeks, we'll have our candidates

With Illinois and lots of other states moving their primaries up to Feb. 5 of next year, the Republican and Democratic presidential nominations for 2008 almost certainly will be wrapped up on that day. That's less than 50 weeks from now.

Dick Morris says here that the primary and caucus season will last only three weeks from start to finish.

The implications of all this are far-reaching. The front-loading of the process will work against candidates who don't have tons of money. That goes for both parties. Primary fights for offices at state and local levels will be waged much earlier than in years past.

It also seems likely that we'll see at least a few TV campaign spots mixed in with the Christmas season ads. And by New Year's Eve, political advertising will dominate the airwaves.

One good thing about this dramatic change is that the influence of voters in Iowa and New Hampshire -- states that are too small, too rural and too white -- likely will be diminished.

And for the first time in a long time, we Illinoisans will have some say in who gets nominated for the presidency.

Merle Haggard sings ode to Hillary

Wait'll the folks who got riled by the Dixie Chicks hear about this one.

Merle Haggard, famous for such pseudo-patriotic ditties as "Okie from Muskogee," has recorded a song entitled "Hillary." It's an ode to the Democratic senator from New York who's currently running for president.

In some quarters, Ol' Merle will be treated like a flag-burner. And a wuss, for pushing a woman for president.

The Rascal favors Obama over Clinton, but I'll still give Merle Haggard a thumbs up.

The "dean" seems to be missing the mark

Washington Post columnist David Broder, the so-called dean of political reporters, whose writings occasionally appear in the Rockford Register Star, opined a few weeks ago that President Bush was on the brink of a comeback.

Well, it hasn't happened yet. In fact, Bush is trending the other way. Even Republicans are abandoning him in droves.

Broder seems to have slipped a bit in recent years. His recent column slamming the Democrats as anti-military was completely at odds with the facts and sounded like a pile of Limbaugh crapola.

Some critics have even suggested (perhaps cruelly, in some cases) that it's time for Broder to pack it in.

Plame case saves Fitz from getting canned?

The Rascal figures that Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. attorney for Northern Illinois (including the Rockford area) would be among the federal prosecutors cashiered by the Bush administration for political reasons were it not for his involvement in the Valerie Plame case.

My thinking on this matter is as follows:

Fitzgerald, who has no qualms about going after Republican crooks (George Ryan, et al) as well as the Democratic variety, would seem to meet the administration's definition of insufficient loyalty to the GOP. But his national profile is too high in light of his appointment a few years ago as special prosecutor in the case of somebody having leaked the identity of Valerie Plame as a CIA undercover operative.

No matter the outcome of the perjury trial of Scooter Libby in the Plame case, it would be dangerous for the administration to push Fitz out the door. That would only bring more public attention to the whole campaign of ousting federal prosecutors who have shown themselves to be independent.

Who gets hurt in embryonic stem cell research?

The question is especially pertinent here in Illinois now that the legislature is on the verge of passing legislation supporting embryonic stem cell research.

The Rascal finds religious arguments against such research unavailing in light of various factors, including points made in this explanation from neuroscientist Sam Harris:

“A three-day-old human embryo is a collection of 150 cells called a blastocyst. There are, for the sake of comparison, more than 100,000 cells in the brain of a fly. The human embryos that are destroyed in stem-cell research do not have brains, or even neurons. Consequently, there is no reason to believe they can suffer their destruction in any way at all."

Biologist and ethologist Richard Dawkins also offers valid observations in this piece.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Obama cuts McCain some slack

Regarding the issue addressed by The Rascal here, Democrat Barack Obama has come to the defense of Republican John McCain, who said last night that the lives of U.S. troops have been "wasted" in Iraq.

Those lives have, in fact, been wasted, and neither Obama nor McCain should have to apologize for saying so. (Although, McCain should have to explain his hawkish position on the war, which he strangely qualifies from time to time with criticisms of the Bush administration's policies in Iraq.)

Susie For President!

This kid's candidacy is no more of a joke (in fact, it's less so) than those of some of the grownups who think they have solutions to America's problems.

Yes, Susie's only nine years old, which makes her constitutionally ineligible for the presidency, but The Rascal's backing her anyway.

Check her out. And give her some encouragement.

Remember Obama saying troops' lives wasted in Iraq?

Oh, what a fuss conservatives made when Barack Obama said the United States has "wasted" the lives of its troops in Iraq. (Check examples of the outrage here and here and here.)

Let's see how these same people and others of their ilk respond to John McCain's statement on the Letterman show last night about American lives having been "wasted" in Iraq.

The truth of the matter is that Obama and McCain are both right about the waste of lives. To acknowledge that fact is not to deny the bravery and dedication of the troops. The troops didn't dream up this ill-advised mission. Their lives have been wasted (or at least endangered) by the neo-cons in the Bush administration who stuck them in the middle of somebody else's civil war.