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Showing posts from February, 2015

Whether (Rahm) Emanuel or Jesus (Garcia) wins on April 7, Chicago's finances are descending into hell

Chicago's financial rating has been devalued again, and is now only two steps above junk bonds.

Couldn't come at a worse time for Mayor Rahm Emanuel. It seems that whether Emanuel or Jesus (Garcia) wins the April 7 runoff, Chicago's finances are likely to continue their descent into hell.

Resurrection, I fear, will have to come from elsewhere. Though Emanuel and his fiscal restraint seem to me to be far more likely to turn things around than Garcia and his "populism," at least from where I sit in the really, really far Western suburbs (Des Moines).

Is somebody on dwarf planet Ceres sending us signals?

Well... no. But something interesting is going on.

NASA'S Dawn spacecraft, approaching the largest object in the asteroid belt, has detected a second bright light or reflection on its surface.

Dawn will enter orbit around Ceres on March 6. Scientists speculate that the lights may be volcanic in origin.

Ceres was the first asteroid to be discovered, and the largest- large enough to have been formed by gravity into a sphere. Discovered in 1881, it was briefly considered a classical planet before astronomers realized that it was the largest of an entirely new classification of celestial objects between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Although its tenure as a planet was briefer than Pluto's the story of its demotion has similarities.

HT: Drudge

Eric Holder plays the race card

Racism is all too real in America, and all too prevalent. But it's also all too easy to play the race card as an excuse when an African-American public official is criticized.

Whatever one thinks of Eric Holder's legacy at the Justice Department, he shouldn't cheapen it by making such an accusation his parting shot.

Once that happens, the conversation, as a practical matter, is over. And on matters as important as the enforcement of civil rights legislation,

Tea Party extremists may walk out on Jeb

There's a movement afoot among some extreme Tea Party types to walk out during Jeb Bush's CPAC presentation today, apparently at least partially because of his last name. That, his support of Common Core, and his favorable attitude toward immigration reform.

Walking out is not an effective debating technique. This needs to be the time for conservatives and Republicans to be discussing our differences and preparing a common front against Hillary, not writing people off because. The rule-or-ruin mentality that says that somebody has to be rejected if you disagree with him ten percent of the time is an attitude for losers. And I still can think of few things as silly as opposing a candidate because of his or her last name.

I- like most "establishment" Republicans- would at least have the courtesy to listen to Rand Paul or Ted Cruz. As of now, I couldn't vote for either of them for president. But I do think I owe them a hearing.

And a little courtesy.

ADDENDUM: Jeb …

A non-viable account of death

The UK's Independent has run an account by a man who was clinically dead for two minutes.

Nothing new about that, of course. But the interesting thing is that he says that death is nothingness- just a blank lack of consciousness. The Independent even cites the example of a second man who gave a similar account.

Now, I'm not even going to get into the obvious point that many, many people have returned from clinical death with very elaborate descriptions of an afterlife- descriptions scientists and others quite rightly take with several shakers full of salt. The experiences clearly could be artifacts of a dying brain. But I'd like to know in what possible sense the experience these guys report is any more credible, or any more definitive?

Even more, I'd like to know how, if death is a lack of consciousness and awareness, they can report what it's like. Certainly they could report a lack of memory. But in the absence of consciousness or awareness, how does one percei…

Et tu, Drudge?

Matt Drudge is usually thought of as being one of the comparatively few conservative news sources. But he pulled a boner today that made him look like the liberal media at their worst.

The Drudge Report ran a link reading: "FLASHBACK: Jeb Bush called GOP 'anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay'...

But what Bush actually said in the 2013 statement was, "All too often we’re associated with being ‘anti’ everything. Way too many people believe Republicans are anti-immigrant, anti-woman, anti-science, anti-gay, anti-worker, and the list goes on.”

But wait. Maybe Drudge has an excuse.

It turns out that he was merely quoting The Washington Post's misrepresentation of Bush's statement at the time.

Both Drudge and the Post should be ashamed- Drudge, for failing to read the story carefully enough before writing his misleading link, and the Post for the sleazy, partisan slight-of-hand with which it converted a statement about other peoples mistaken perception about reality i…

Turtledove's Joe Steele is out

Just came across this review of Turtledove's Joe Steele, an alternate history novel in which Stalin's parents migrate to California and he, rather than FDR, wins the 1932 Democratic presidential nomination.

Sounds like it might suffer from the common Turtledove weakness of mimicking actual historical events on our own timeline too closely, without reflecting on some of the consequences the differences might bring. But the premise still scares me to death.

A Christologically-themed runoff in Chicago: Emanuel vs. Jesus

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed in his bid to win a second term outright in yesterday's election. Instead he will face a runoff with County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

With 98% of the vote counted, Emanuel had 45.4% of the vote to Garcia's 33.0%. Businessman Willie Wilson had 10.6%, Second Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti had 7.4%, and perennial candidate William "Dock" Walls had 2.8%.

Nearly all the voters who reported themselves "undecided" in pre-election polls ended up going to Garcia.

I've frequently been critical of Emanuel, whose attempt to block Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant within the Chicago city limits because owner Dan Cathy had contributed to efforts to fight same-sex marriage represented an abuse of power which itself would merit the mayor's defeat, in my opinion. But the fact is, nevertheless, that Emanuel has taken on powerful special interests within the Cook County Democratic party- the Teachers' Union comes…

'Modern Family's' tasteless slams at the Blackhawks

It seem that the TV show "Modern Family-" at least one producer of which is an LA Kings fan- has a vendetta against the Blackhawks.

The unfunny bad taste with which the show recently poked something less than fun at the Hawks is recounted here.

Bad taste in network TV is a given. But does making fun of a great Native American leader and a heroic American division in World War II- as well as a very good hockey team and classy organization from a town which apparently has far more grown-up sensitivities than the producers of "Modern Family-" really necessary? Where is this coming from, anyway?

Certainly not from a grown-up wit.

HT: Yardbarker
ADDENDUM: After Sunday's humiliating loss to the Bruins, GM Stan Bowman personally gave the team a talking-to- and then sent Antti Raanta and Ryan Hartman to Rockford while calling up goalie Scott Darling and Joakim Nordstrom.

They also gave Darling- a Chicago-area kid- a two-year contract extension.

What's good for the elephant apparently isn't good for the donkey

Rudy Giuliani is receiving death threats after his statement that he doesn't think President Obama loves his country.

The outrage of the Left and pseudo-Center is deafening. But where was the outrage when Obama said this?

The White House, by contrast, regards Mayor Giuliani's remarks as "horrible."

Now, whether they're fair and reasonable or not, shouldn't the same standards of fairness and reasonableness be used when a Democrat comments about a Republican president? How are Giuliani's comments more "horrible" than Mr. Obama's own?

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, among others, are up in arms about the double standard the media display in reporting comments by conservatives and liberals. Walker's own comment that he "didn't know" whether Mr. Obama is a Christian- intended as a rebuff of what he considered an inappropriate question- apparently has been repeated in some quarters as casting doubt on the President's …

Chicago has had near-almighty mayors before....

...but now it may be choosing between somebody named Emanuel and somebody named Jesus.

Far-Leftie Jesus "Chuy" Garica, whom one might think of as the Bill di Blasio or Elizabeth Warren of Chicago, is the most formidable of four challengers to somewhat less far-Left Rahm Emanuel, who thinks it's proper to stop anybody whose politics he disagrees with from opening a restaurant within the city limits. Emanuel represents the Obama/Clinton wing of the party that has never heard of Tom Jefferson.

It used to be that the political wars in Chicago were between the Machine and those who chose to think for themselves. Now they're between the outrageously extreme and the somewhat less outrageously extreme.

And it's just more evidence of how hopelessly out of touch with reality and American values the Democratic party really is.

God help the city I love, whoever wins!

Jefferson vs. the Democrats: the definitive political debate of our age

It shouldn't be surprising, perhaps, that the Left doesn't really "get" human rights.

It shouldn't be surprising that they find it objectionable when an imaginary "right" to have one's birth control paid for by one's employer is compromised by the discovery of an inconvenient "freedom of religion" in the Constitution which excuses employers for whom doing so would violate their First Amendment rights from having to pay for it.

It shouldn't be surprising that when the Government decides that it's "discrimination" stand by the centuries-old understanding of the legal nature and function of religion, that religion should give way to the dictates of government.

Thomas Jefferson would never had made that mistake. "We hold these truths to be self-evident," the putative father of the modern Democratic party wrote,

...that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Righ…

Is Scott Walker emerging as Jeb's main competition for the GOP nod?

According to The Telegraph's Raf Sanchez, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is emerging as the main alternative to Jeb Bush as the 2016 Republican presidential nominee.

Sanchez points out that Walker is basically acceptable to all factions of the GOP, and is consolidating an enviable position as "the anti-Bush" in a year when Republicans as well as Independents seem to be thirsting for a new face.

Walker, who never graduated from college, may also be the perfect bait to draw out the ugly elitism and unwarranted intellectual pretension of the Left. Democrats feel that they're smarter and generally better than the rest of us, and that could make Scott Walker- an everyman the American voter might just be able to identify with-  a match made in hell for Hillary.

'Justification by poor taste' seems to be the new Episcopal dogma

I remember being told by a gay Episcopalian colleague in a CPE group that the cardinal doctrine of Anglicanism was "justification by good taste."  But if anything, it now seems to be the opposite.

It's been many years since the Episcopal church has been much more than a front for snobbish paganism. But it still hurts to see the depths to which a communion which was once proud literally to a fault has descended.

Justice Thomas: SCOTUS has already "made up their minds" on marriage redefinition

First Roe v. Wade. Now gay "marriage."

Once again, Clarence Thomas warns us, the U.S. Supreme Court is about to prematurely short circuit a debate concerning which the American people are deeply divided, eliminate any prospect of the division ever being healed or a consensus reached, and impose a solution that is more personal preference than law.

Once again, we are about to be rent asunder by the lawlessness of the Supreme Court of the United States.

HT: Real Clear Religion

Ernie Banks has gone missing

Ernie Banks is said to be buried at Graceland Cemetery, blocks from Wrigley Field. But Graceland Cemetery denies it. Of course, he once expressed his desire to have his ashes scattered over the playing surface at Wrigley.

It's not clear that doing that would even be legal. But in any case, a dispute has erupted between Banks' estranged widow and the executor of his estate over the matter of what to with his body.

And it isn't even clear right now where his body is.

Unseemly. This great ballplayer and hero to a generation of Chicagoans deserves to be treated with greater dignity in death.

Brian Williams and Hillary Clinton: why the double-standard?

In view of the recent fuss over suspended NBC anchor Brian Williams falsely claiming to have been under fire in Iraq, it's interesting how little we've been reminded about Hillary Clinton making a similar false claim about having been under fire in Kosovo.

Apparently we have higher expectations of our news anchors than we do of our potential presidents.

South African student leaders: 'Juden raus!'

The totalitarian impulse of the Left is overwhelming. Sometimes it almost seems like self-caricature. And it often reminds us of how much totalitarians truly have in common, no matter to which extreme of the ideological continuum they are arbitrarily assigned

It wasn't long ago that the world was quite rightly deploring the oppression of a racial majority in South Africa. Well, now it seems that students at Durban Institute of Technology in South Africa are agitating for the expulsion of Jews- just like Chancellor Martin Heidegger did at Freiberg University in 1933.

The excuse apparently has something to do with Israel.

To its credit, the administration of the university terms their position “outrageous, preposterous and a deep violation of our National Constitution and every human rights principle.”

Ex-Obama aide Axelrod: POTUS lied about his position on same-sex "marriage"

According to a new book by former Obama aide David Axelrod, the most radical president in American history supported same-sex "marriage" all along, despite claiming to oppose it in 2008 and throughout his first term.

Rather than his position "evolving," Axelrod writes, Mr. Obama misrepresented his own position because of strong opposition to same-sex marriage in the African-American church and among other key political groups.

HT: Drudge

Is marriage on death row?

The Supreme Court's refusal to grant Alabama a stay in beginning to issue same-sex "marriage" licenses may telegraph the Court's intention to redefine marriage once and for all in its upcoming ruling on a Sixth Circuit decision recognizing the right of states to restrict marriage to men and women.

Some are expressing worries that laws banning polygamy, polyandry and incest may be the next to go. Personally, I'm more worried about marriage itself. If the court forces states to recognize same-sex "marriage," by definition it will be abandoning the legal justification which marriage has had throughout the history of Western civilization: the providing of a social framework for the bearing and raising of children. Instead it will recognize the recent rationalization of the institution as simply a framework for affectional relationships between individuals.

And if that's the justification, what excuse can there be for granting preferential status to perm…

Has the Obama coalition dissolved?

John Judis, co-author of The Emerging Democratic Majority,says that the majority in question has evaporated.

Suburbanite dissatisfaction with government spending and defections from millennial and Hispanic voters, as well as disillusionment on the part of white working class voters, has dissolved the coalition which twice elected Barack Obama, Judis says- offering new hope for GOP success in 2016 and beyond.

He who controls language controls thought. Thought control is not good.

There are words that are just plain rude, and I don't defend those who use them.

On the other hand, this kind of nonsense is not the way to handle such folks.

You can't teach good manners by intimidation. All you can teach that way is conformity. It's an effective way to produce obedient sheep, but not good neighbors and citizens.

HT: Drudge

Leprechauns, talking rabbits, and moderate Democrats

Every time I turn on a network news show, I'm reminded of the old practical joke soldiers, boy scouts, hunters and others used to play: snipe hunting. You strand a newbe out in the woods with a sack, explaining that the rest of the group will drive all the "snipes" to him. And then, everybody else goes home.

Moderate Democrats are kind of like snipes. Well, not quite: there are such a creatures as snipes, after all; you just don't find them out in the woods, and you don't catch them in sacks. Moderate Democrats are more like fairies, leprechauns, and talking rabbits: pretty much wholly mythical.

And they've just gotten more so.

The "talking heads" in the media have long since chronicled the alleged disappearance of the moderate Republican, ignoring the habit the GOP has of somehow nominating a McCain or a Romney every four years despite the non-existence of such critters. But when will they pick up on the extinction of the moderate Democrat?

HT: Rea…

Well said, Gov. Jindal

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, put POTUS's morally obtuse remarks about how we shouldn't "get on our high horse" about Islamist crimes against humanity because "people have committed terrible deeds in the name of Christianity, too" into perspective with five apt words:"Medieval Christianity is under control."

Meanwhile, a new Rasmussen poll shows that voters don't think Mr. Obama has been vocal enough in condemning the atrocities being committed by ISIS.

A mixed bag for The Agenda

A new poll shows that while Americans narrowly favor the legality of same-sex "marriage," they strongly support the right of bakers, photographers and others whose consciences compel them to refuse to cater to same-sex couples to do so.

On both counts, it's amazing how little impact the campaign to promote same-sex "marriage" and to silence its critics is having on public opinion.

HT: Drudge

Back when the Cubs actually played in the World Series once in a while

A video of a home move taken at a Cubs game at Wrigley in either 1937

My cousin by marriage, Gabby Hartnett, was the Cubs catcher back then, and would hit his famous "Homer in the Gloamin'" the following year.


Literary observations

I see where Dean Koonz has published Saint Odd- the final Odd Thomas novel- in which Oddy finally is reunited with the deceased love of his life, Stormy Llewellyn.

I'll miss Odd. I've almost come to think of him as a friend over the years. He's surely one of the most likable and admirable fictional characters I've ever come across. Koonz himself said it was like killing a friend to kill Odd off, and I can well understand how he felt.

Yesterday I saw Vincent Price in a move called "Edgar Alan Poe's The Haunted House." The trouble was that it was, in fact, a film version of the H.P. Lovecraft novella, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. I guess Lovecraft had yet to experience his revival when they made the film. And of course, Price and Roger Corman did a whole series of other movies whose titles began with "Edgar Alan Poe's...." which had absolutely nothing to do with Poe- other than a brief quotation from a Poe poem at the end which may or may…