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Showing posts from September, 2010

How about that?

Little Village- the community in Chicago in which I was raised, and which appears in red on the map of the city to the right- has for decades been the heart of Chicago's Chicano community. After misreading the title of a book here at the West Des Moines Public Library, it's just dawned on me for the very first time that the words "Chicago" and "Chicano" differ by only one letter. As far as I can tell this has absolutely no significance, other than the fact that given where I grew up I really ought to have realized that a long time ago.

The origin of the word "Chicano" is obscure. It has been traced to 1930's and '40's California, but some scholars claim an earlier origin. One theory is that it originated with the inability of native speakers of Nahuatl, an Aztecan dialect spoken in the Mexican state of Morelos, to say Mexicano. Instead, the
theory goes, they said Mesheecano, as the word would be pronounced in their language.

The name Chic…

I must be getting old

Here it is Thursday, and I forgot. Jay Cutler finally lived up to his hype, my Bears beat Dallas on Sunday, and we're 2-0!

How could I be so oblivious? It's Packer Week, for crying out loud! Next Monday night, the unbeaten Bears will do battle with equally unbeaten (though evil) Green Bay on prime-time national TV. I should have Bears on da brain!

To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from the Ursine Warriors this season. Still not, really- though Sunday was surely a good sign, to say the least. We shall see what we shall see. But in any event... Bear Down!

Woodward, Democrats turn on Obama

Bob Woodward, who did a series of hit books on the Bush administration and the war in Iraq, has turned his aim toward the Obama administration- and the results ain't pretty.

Woodward's portrait of a dysfunctional Obama presidency includes accounts of "Professor" Obama giving his aides homework assignments, and admitting that he only set a deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan because he couldn't afford to lose the support of his fellow Democrats.
Woodward portrays the administration as deeply divided over Mr. Obama's Afghanistan policy.

Meanwhile, Woodward is not the only person to paint the Obama administration as "the gang that couldn't shoot straight," to borrow a phrase from the late Jimmy Breslin. Even Democrats are beginning more and more to compare the current president to Jimmy Carter- including both Carter himself and Carter's vice-president, Walter Mondale.
HT: Drudge

Carter: Blue vs. Red divides us more than Blue vs. Gray did

Jimmy Carter says that America is more polarized than it was during the Civil War.

While that's obvious hyperbole, I wonder whether Mr. Carter has reflected upon the degree to which he, personally, has contributed to that polarization with his own overheated rhetoric.

Mr. Carter's transformation from a moderate, if ineffectual, liberal president to a reckless and rhetorically extreme ex-president has saddened many of us who once found things to admire in his record, and endangered his fair prospects of historical rehabilitation in the wake of what was at the time largely perceived to be a disasterous presidency.

HT: Drudge

Meet James Meeks- potentially, Chicago's socially conservative, African-American mayor

Here's an article by the Trib's John Kass on the Rev. (and State Representative) James Meeks, a Baptist preacher and Democratic legislator who brings a virtually unheard-of dynamic to the upcoming race to succeed Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Rev. Meeks, you see, is a prominent member of Chicago's African-American community- and a social conservative.

The potential Meeks candidacy has set off all sort of alarms in Chicago's gay and lesbian community due to his outspoken opposition to gay "marriage," civil unions, "hate crimes" legislation, and benefits for the same-sex partners of city employees.

Meeks says that he would expect as mayor to have his hands full enough, at least initially, that advancing his conservative social agenda would not be a priority for him. Chicago's gay and lesbian community, however, is not mollified.

A textbook case of bad economics

If you were to go looking for a textbook example of a failure to understand the dynamics of recessions (and deficits), this piece of nonsense by Derrick Z. Jackson of the Boston Globe would be it.

First, government "stimulus spending" doesn't end recessions, the Democratic catechism to the contrary. It didn't end the depression. And it hasn't ended any of the economic crises we've gone through since then, either. Instead, what ends recessions is the technique successfully used by John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush: tax cuts, which encourage large numbers of people and businesses throughout the economy, rather than merely government and the businesses it favors with "stimulus" contracts, to spend money by allowing to keep more of their money to spend instead of paying it in taxes.

"Tax breaks for the rich," as the Democrats are fond of calling them, are merely tax cuts which allow the people with the most money to spend the mo…

Hartford Council substitutes moment of silence for prayer to Allah

Muslims are upset because the Hartford, Connecticut City Council opted for a moment of silence, rather than a prayer to Allah led by an imam, to open Monday's meeting.

Sorry, Muslims. This time you're wrong; I don't blame the Council one bit. I am not crazy about prayer at civic functions in any event for the very reason why the councilpersons weren't comfortable with it in this instance: it must of necessity either be a generic prayer to a generic deity, or a prayer to a specific deity worshipped according to assumptions and beliefs not necessarily shared by those called upon to participate. Either constitutes idolatry.

Since my God is not Allah, but the Holy Trinity, and since the two are not the same, I, for one, could not in conscience participate in such a prayer. Evidentally the Christians- and perhaps Jews- on the City Council also understood that neither the generic god of the American Civil Religion nor the god of the Koran can be addressed in prayer without wor…

Is the ghost of John Wilkes Booth to blame for the Washington Nationals' misfortunes?

It is being suggested in our nation's capital that the proximity of their stadium to the spots where John Wilkes Booth was once buried and where his co-conspirators (as well as the probably-innocent Mary Surrat) were hanged has made the Washington Nationals the victims of a curse- one even spookier than the ones put on the Red Sox by the trade of Babe Ruth to the Yankees, on the Cubs by billy goat owner Billy Sianis, or on the Blackhawks by disgruntled former coach Pete Muldoon.

While I don't believe in curses (Cub and Blackhawk fan though I am), it does make me think. The mortally wounded Booth's last words, looking at his own hands, were, "Useless. Useless." The same might, I suppose, be said of the hands of some who play for the Nats- and who, like the late Michael Jackson, wear one glove for no apparent reason.

It's not just raining cats and dogs. In Iowa, it's raining frogs!

I’m afraid there is no escape for us: we shall have to give to civilization upon this earth—some new worlds. Places with frogs in them.
—Charles Fort (August 6, 1874 - May 3, 1932) Book of the Damned

Charles Fort was an American skeptic, anti-dogmatist and student of weird phenomena who wrote several books during the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. He retains a cult following today, and the Charles Fort Institute continues his work.

One of his tomes- The Book of the Damned, quoted above- contains a section on occasions upon which it has rained frogs in various parts of the world. The phenomenon has been observed many times, not only with amphibians but also with fish, squid, and other creatures. The most common explanations are waterspouts and really, really strong winds.

I've had great respect for the strength of Iowa winds ever since I conspired with a couple of seminary classmates who also were from Chicago to vandalize the statue of Martin Luther in honor of the Bea…

Congratulations... the Rev. Matthew Harrison, who was installed yesterday as president of the Lutheran Church- Missouri Synod.

May God bless President Harrison as he strives to return Missouri to its former place as a bastion of sound, biblical, confessional Lutheranism in a nation desperately in need of its witness.

HT: Diane Meyer, Respublica

Silly season on what ought to be a solemn day

Even after the Irreverend Terry Jones announced that he would not be burning any Korans today after all, they're demonstrating against him- and America- in Afghanistan.

The "Muslim street" has never been accused of rationality, of course. But the point is hard to miss: the wave of anti-Muslim bigotry that is sweeping the nation on this ninth anniversary of 9/11 is doing permanent damage. With these guys, even coming to one's senses doesn't do any good; while repentance is not a concept alien to Islam, forgiveness does not necessarily follow.

Meanwhile, as we assess the damage the unacknowledged religious bigotry of the wingnut Right has done to America, the danger in which it is putting our fighting men and women in Afghanistan, and the favor it's doing al Queda, Iran and the other Islamofacists of the world by alienating the very people they want to win over to their crusade against America, the moonbat Left is also chiming in. It seems that Terry Jones and Ru…

The end of a dynasty: Richard II calls it quits in Chicago

Here's an article by Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune on the career of Richard M. Daley, who on Tuesday announced his retirement as mayor (or, as they say back home, "mare") of the city of my birth and youth, Chicago. He will not run for re-election next year.

Daley has led the greatest city in the world for 22 years. Despite approval ratings of only 37% back home, from my vantage point in exile he seemed to me to be a pretty darned good mayor. And this from a guy who spent his young life- from a Republican boyhood through the night he was tear gassed as a messenger for the McCarthy campaign during the 1968 Democratic Convention to almost a decade of involvement with the "Independent Movement" on the Left of Chicago's electoral politics- fighting the political power of the current mayor's father, Mayor Richard J. Daley.

Chicago is a city in decline. When I was born, it was economically, culturally and in terms of population clearly America's "…

Some people I don't know, but mourn anyway

For various reasons, I failed to note the recent passing of some people whom I will miss.

Bob Probert was both hated in Chicago for his role as the "enforcer" for the evil Detroit Red Wings and loved there when he took over the role for my Blackhawks. I remember seeing a jersey at a Hawks game once bearing Probie's number and the word "INSTIGATOR" on the back where the player's name was supposed to go. He played hard and watched out for his teammates, and was as appreciated by his team's fans as loathed by those of the opposition. He died while boating on July 5 of an apparent heart attack at the age of 45.

Bobby Thompson, best known for his "Shot Heard "Round the World," a homer off Brooklyn's Ralph Branca that won the one-game playoff for the 1951 National League pennant for the New York Giants, died on August 16at the age of 86. Thompson, who was born in Glasgow, Scotland, was significant to me because he was the center fielder for…

Terry Jones and the anti-Cordoba crowd are two sides of the same ugly coin

The Rev. Terry Jones (who, like his namesake from Monty Python's Flying Circus, is a clown) has everybody from the American Muslim community to the Federal government in an uproar over his plan to conduct a public Koran burning.

Look. If, as some maintain, the issue in the controversy over building an Islamic community center containing the immediate vicinity's second mosque in the same neighborhood as Ground Zero isn't about religious tolerance, but a "war of cultures" between Western Judeo-Christian civilization and Islamic civilization (a war we apparently can win by abandoning our own values in dealing with Muslims and adopting theirs), why is Pastor Jones's moronic book burning less appropriate than preventing Muslims from building a second mosque within a half-mile radius of Ground Zero merely because the people who flew the planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon happened to share their religion?

Rationalize as much as you like. They both are…

In Sweet Home Chicago, Obama's magic is wearing off

Even in Chicago, people are getting fed up with President Obama's ineffectual policies.

One note on Jay Levine's article, though: while it's true that the economy was in recession when Mr. Obama took over from George W. Bush, the unemployment rate at the time was 7.4%

It's 9.6 percent today. Things are getting worse, not better.

Sorry, but blaming Bush has long since ceased to work in the nation at large- and one has to wonder how much longer it will work even in Chicago. The issue is the increasing evidence that Mr. Obama and the Democrats can't fix our economic mess- and there's only one alternative.

HT: Drudge

Barack Obama isn't what!?

This- by Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times- is one of the most disingenuous pieces I've read for some time.

Rutten's sneering implication that the bizarre slanders the Far Right make against President Obama must of necessity be made because he is an African-American is worth a cynical chuckle or two. Whence, then, the equally bizarre lies about George W. Bush, his National Guard service, his alleged complicity in 9/11, his prior knowledge of the absence of Saddam Hussein's WMD's, and the alleged stealing of elections in which the evidence of chicanery is far greater against the Democrats that were, and remain, just as prominent on the Left- so much so that John Kerry repeated the National Guard lie on the campaign train in 2004, four years after it was first made and then immediately discredited? Come off it, Tim. There are malicious nuts in both parties and at both ends of the political spectrum. Not every piece of right-wing lunacy is automatically due to racism!


In Ohio, people would rather have Dubyah back

A new poll on who Ohioans would rather have in the White House yields an interesting result: George W. Bush 50%, Barack H. Obama 42%.

It's looking more and more like my 2008 prediction was correct, and that year's election- like those of 1976 and 1988- was a "poison pill," whose winner was destined by the dynamics of the economy to be a one-term president.

It's a long way to 2012, of course. But even the most optimistic economists don't see the economy- which is worse by every criterion today than when Dubyah left office- returning to anything vaguely resembling normality before 2014.

Can you say "President Romney?"

HT: Drudge