Monthly archives: August, 2008

Joe Biden is One of Us

From Senator Joe Biden:

A few hours ago, Barack Obama was officially nominated as the Democratic candidate for president of the United States.

And just a few moments ago, I accepted our party’s nomination for vice president.

I made my case to everyone watching — Barack Obama will secure America at home and restore our reputation abroad. And John McCain will only extend the failed policies of George Bush.

But this isn’t my moment. It’s all of ours.

And the fight ahead will be like nothing you’ve ever seen.

The stakes couldn’t be higher, and Barack and I need your help right now.

Please make another donation of $25 or more now and support this campaign to bring the change we need:

Thank you for making this possible,



We stand on the shoulders of giants.  We are poised to make history.

I have never been so excited about an election.

Joe Biden grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania.  He’s one of us.  Barack Obama is one of us.  Both of these men know how many kitchen sinks they have.

When Jay Leno offered McCain $1 million if he could answer the question of how many homes he has, what was the first thing out of his mouth? “I was a POW, so for 5 years I didn’t have a home, I didn’t have a kitchen table…” blah, blah, blah. Does he seriously have any other answer besides, “I was a POW?” Does John McCain even know how many homes he owns?

John McCain suffered once.  John McCain deserves praise for his service to our country.  But Vietnam was a long time ago.  We’re a long way from the famous “McCain-Feingold” efforts at election reform.  He has strayed far from his roots.  John McCain is not one of us.  John McCain is not “the maverick.”  John McCain is a man pampered, spoiled and aloof.  Yes, John McCain is an elitist.  John McCain is George W. Bush redux, George W. Bush redivivus, George W. Bush all over again.

I can’t take George W. Bush all over again.

Joe Biden, you helped us remember our roots in America.

I’m not doing as well as I would like, Joe.  Things are not going well financially these days.  The Bush years have been horrible for me.  Sometimes, I’ll admit, I’ve felt like giving up.  Sometimes, I’ve been truly frightened.

But I have not given up, and I will not.

I need Change desperately, not just the change I find under the couch cushions.

Joe, your talk tonight was incredible tonight.  I look forward to hearing Barack Obama tomorrow night.

I want to see Barack Obama in the White House.  I want to see you at his side.  Thank you for helping me to believe that our best days are, indeed, before us.

Thanks, Joe.  I’m starting to believe again.  I need to believe again.

Russia Has Dropped Cluster Bombs on Civilians

Cluster Bombs

According to Survivor Corps, Russia has dropped cluster bombs on civilian areas in the neighboring country of Georgia, killing at least 11 civilians and wounding dozens more.   According to Survivor Corps:

On August 7, 2008, Russia began an armed offensive against Georgia over South Ossetia, a region long recognized as part of Georgia but home to an ethnic minority with close ties to Russia.

Russia’s Use of Cluster Munitions is the first known use of the weapon since 2006, when they were used during the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The extremely high number of civilian deaths attributed to cluster munitions in that conflict initiated an international movement to ban cluster munitions, called the Oslo Process.

Cluster munitions are large weapons which are deployed from the air and from the ground and release dozens or hundreds of smaller submunitions. Submunitions released by air-dropped cluster bombs are most often called “bomblets,” while those delivered from the ground by artillery or rockets are usually referred to as “grenades.”

Why should we care?  Why should we be concerned about cluster bombs? The problems with cluster bombs are many:

Air-dropped or ground-launched, they cause two major humanitarian problems and risks to civilians. First, their widespread dispersal means they cannot distinguish between military targets and civilians so the humanitarian impact can be extreme, especially when the weapon is used in or near populated areas.

Many submunitions fail to detonate on impact and become de facto antipersonnel mines killing and maiming people long after the conflict has ended. These duds are more lethal than antipersonnel mines; incidents involving submunition duds are much more likely to cause death than injury.

Tell your Senators to ban cluster bombs.

Learn more here:

Hillary Rocks the House, ‘No way! No how! No McCain!’

Hillary was electric, and delivered the line of the convention:

“No way! No how! No McCain!”

Hillary Clinton delivered tonight.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t very inspired by John Kerry.  Kerry had great ideas, but got too caught up in being, well, John Kerry.

This year, I’m inspired. Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama have everything to do with that.

Hillary sounded dynamic.  Hillary sounded strong.  Hillary sounded presidential.

Mentioning Barack Obama at least ten times, Hillary left no doubt in my mind that she believes Barack Obama is not only ready to be President of the United States, Barack Obama must be President of the United States.

Michelle Obama – WOW

Michelle Obama hit her stride tonight.

She did exactly what she needed to do at the Democratic Convention.

I was astounded watching her, and captivated as the cameras panned over the faces of the delegates.  I was particularly struck by the diversity in the room.  All the women, all the people of color, all Democrats.

This is the party of the people.

Some excerpts from Michelle’s speech:

I come here tonight as a sister, blessed with a brother who is my mentor, my protector and my lifelong friend.

I come here as a wife who loves my husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president.

I come here as a Mom whose girls are the heart of my heart and the center of my world – they’re the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night. Their future – and all our children’s future – is my stake in this election.

And I come here as a daughter – raised on the South Side of Chicago by a father who was a blue collar city worker, and a mother who stayed at home with my brother and me. My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion, and her intelligence reflected in my own daughters.

Reflecting on her place in history, and ours:

I stand here today at the crosscurrents of that history – knowing that my piece of the American Dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me. All of them driven by the same conviction that drove my dad to get up an hour early each day to painstakingly dress himself for work. The same conviction that drives the men and women I’ve met all across this country:

People who work the day shift, kiss their kids goodnight, and head out for the night shift – without disappointment, without regret – that goodnight kiss a reminder of everything they’re working for.

The military families who say grace each night with an empty seat at the table. The servicemen and women who love this country so much, they leave those they love most to defend it.

The young people across America serving our communities – teaching children, cleaning up neighborhoods, caring for the least among us each and every day.

People like Hillary Clinton, who put those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, so that our daughters – and sons – can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher.

People like Joe Biden, who’s never forgotten where he came from, and never stopped fighting for folks who work long hours and face long odds and need someone on their side again.

All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do – that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.

That is the thread that connects our hearts. That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack’s journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope.

That is why I love this country.

And the specifics:

That’s why he’s running – to end the war in Iraq responsibly, to build an economy that lifts every family, to make health care available for every American, and to make sure every child in this nation gets a world class education all the way from preschool to college. That’s what Barack Obama will do as President of the United States of America.

He’ll achieve these goals the same way he always has – by bringing us together and reminding us how much we share and how alike we really are. You see, Barack doesn’t care where you’re from, or what your background is, or what party – if any – you belong to. That’s not how he sees the world. He knows that thread that connects us – our belief in America’s promise, our commitment to our children’s future – is strong enough to hold us together as one nation even when we disagree.

We’ll be talking about Michelle tomorrow, and for many days to come.

Right now, John McCain is talking about Michelle, seated at one of his many kitchen tables, trying to imagine how he can possibly pass.

Michelle, thank you.

Read the full speech here.

Emil Jones and Uncle Tom

Face it, any way Emil Jones tries to parse this, he was out of line.  I just don’t believe him.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

A black Hillary Clinton delegate on Sunday accused state Senate President Emil Jones of calling her an “Uncle Tom.”

Jones — Barack Obama’s political mentor — denied using the racially loaded slur against Chicago political consultant Delmarie Cobb, but two aldermen who said they witnessed the Saturday night exchange back up Cobb’s account.

“Last night, I was called an ‘Uncle Tom’ by Emil Jones in the lobby of the hotel, right in front of [Ald.] Freddrenna Lyle and [Ald.] Leslie Hairston and [Ald.] Latasha Thomas,” said Cobb, a member of Clinton’s Illinois Steering Committee. “I walked over to him and asked him, ‘What did you just call me?’ “

Emil’s credibility took yet another dive with his backhanded apology to Ms. Cobb:

Cobb said Jones finally apologized during a Monday event.

“He came over, sat down. A couple of people obviously had something to do with it,” Cobb said, without elaborating. “He sat down at the table with me. He said, ‘I apologize and let’s move forward.’ I accepted his apology and said, ‘OK, we will.’ It was never my intention to continue things that would hurt Barack Obama.”

Jones, however, offered a much less apologetic version of his Monday conversation with Cobb.

“I said ‘If that’s what you think I said, I don’t want to have no hard feelings, so I apologize. We’ve known each other too long.'”

This is childish nonsense, the stuff of the grade school yard brawl.  A conditional apology is no apology at all.

Cobb has every right to support Hillary Clinton.  Hillary deserves that support and more.  Her run for President of the United States was historic, and she stands as one of this party’s greatest leaders.

Get over it, Emil, and grow up.

Sen. Meeks Tells Kids to Stay Out of School

It’s off the deep end and off to la-la land with State Sen. James Meeks.  Meeks is struggling to find support for his grand plan to encourage kids to stay home from school at the start of the school year.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

State Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago) met privately with the City Council’s Black Caucus last week to explain his plan to have hundreds of Chicago Public School students boycott the first four days of classes.

Implied, but not stated, was the fact that Meeks would like aldermanic support for his controversial tactics. Apparently, he’s not going to get it.

Aldermen are wise to stay away from this one.

Here is Meeks’ agenda for his four-day stay-out-of-school field trip:

On the first day of school, Sept. 2, Meeks plans to bus students up to the North Shore and attempt to enroll them in schools in Winnetka’s wealthy New Trier district.

The remaining three days—Sept. 3, 4 and 5—will be spent having boycotting students camp out in the lobbies of Chicago’s most prominent downtown businesses. They include the Chicago Stock Exchange, the Mercantile Exchange, Chase Bank, Fifth Third Bank and the Aon Building.

The Chicago Public Schools have struggled for years trying to get kids to actually show up at all on the first day of school.  Teachers want to start the year off right, establish a rapport with the students.  Meeks wants kids to join him on a screaming publicity stunt to Winnetka in a futile attempt to register for classes out of district.

This can only end poorly.

Here’s what’s going to happen:

Meeks will get a busload or two of kids and parents to join him on this quest.  He may even have a better showing than that the first day.  The second day, there will be less participation.  By days three and four, the good senator will be able to get by with a van or perhaps a station wagon.  Most kids will stay home from classes, taking advantage of the extra mornings to sleep late.  Children will thank the Rev. Meeks for extending summer vacation, if they even know who he is.  Gov. Blagojevich and Meeks’ colleagues in the Illinois State Legislature, the only people in the Land of Lincoln who can make a difference, will largely ignore his antics.

Meeks is completely right about the inequities in educational opportunities in Illinois.  His four day holiday for students will accomplish nothing and sends the wrong message.

‘Calling Dr. Bombay!’ St. James Emergency Docs Outsource Billing

I just hung up the phone with India.

I received a phone call regarding a bill I received for emergency room services in February at St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights.  When I returned the call, I was greeted by a kind person with a slight accent.  I couldn’t quite place the accent, but didn’t think it would be much of a barrier.

Was I ever wrong.

I read my account number to the person answering the phone.  She asked me for my name, and asked if I had been treated by an emergency room physician.

At this point, I grew suspicious. Any other time I call to pay a bill, after I read my account number, the person finally tells me my name, indicating that they have the correct account.

I asked this professional to tell me the name she had on the account.  She read me a woman’s name.  She asked me if I had was treated by an emergency room physician.  I told her she should be telling me that information, and the name she read to me was not mine, nor did it belong to anyone at my residence.

She asked me again if I had been treated in an emergency room.  I told her, yes, in February.  She again asked me my name.

I asked to speak with a supervisor.  I was told I was speaking with the Emergency Room Physicians billing service, and would I please tell her my name.  I asked her if she was in the United States.  Who is the doctor who sent the bill?

“No, sir.  We are in India.”  And no name for the doctor.

I told her I was unaware of any physician who billed from India.  Could I speak with a supervisor, please?  She asked me my name again, and finally provided me with the name of the attending physician.

At this point, I assured her I was very suspicious of the call, and told her I was going to call the police.  I was suspicious that she was possibly someone phishing for my credit card information. My call was then passed to a supervisor who asked for an account number.  The supervisor told me the name on the account — this time it was my name — and verified for me the name of the attending physician.  I did not recognize the name of the doctor, but, since this was all about a trip to the emergency room, I did not expect that I would remember his name.

I hung up the phone and called St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights directly after trying unsuccessfully to find a number for the doctor online.  After speaking with two business offices and being told my accounts were up to date and paid, I was referred to another number that handled billing for the emergency room physicians’ accounts.

That number belonged to my new friends in India.

Look, I’m all for a global economy, but this is downright absurd.  I get it that sometimes I have to talk to India to get tech support for my PC, but now I have to talk to India to talk about my hospital bill?

Give me a break.

Oy! Blago Thinks He’s Black as Pat Quinn Protests

Certainly one of the strangest comments in recent Illinois politics escaped the mouth of Gov. Rod Blagojevich today.

According to our friend Gregory Tejeda at the Chicag Argus, Blago described himself Monday as a “homeboy” and “possibly the first African-American governor of Illinois.”

Just try and find a context for that one.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn stood “outside an event featuring Governor Rod Blagojevich, passing out flyers and urging the state Senate to reject automatic pay raises for lawmakers and top government officials,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Quinn says he doesn’t have a ticket for the City Club of Chicago event Blagojevich is headlining. But he’s outside handing out information alongside a staffer holding a sign that reads “Vote Now, Vote No.”

Quinn says he wants Blagojevich to also urge a no vote by senators.

What a surreal afternoon in Illinois politics this must have been.

From CBS Chicago:

Handing out leaflets headlined “Stop Political Pay Raises Now!” Lt. Gov. Quinn and a few friends protesting outside the governor’s luncheon speech on the Near North Side didn’t impress Illinois Senate President Emil Jones. He said legislators need the 12% raise.

“I have members of my caucus who are single parents … who feel very strongly that they deserve a pay raise,” Jones said.

To avoid Quinn and reporters waiting at the front door, the governor snuck in a back door to deliver his speech. When cornered later, though, he criticized state senators who are blocking a floor vote likely to kill the unpopular proposal.

When someone gave the governor a coffee mug, he reflected on friends gained and the many lost since he took the state’s top job:

“Better a mug than a mug shot, right?” Blagojevich said. “This is such a tough job, you know, I think it’s fair to say I have fewer friends now than I had before I was governor.”

Calling Jones one of his most loyal friends, Blagojevich added, “Emil and I are homeboys, man. … There are times I consider myself the first African American governor of Illinois.”

What is this?  Blago thinks he’s black because he has a black friend?


Mayor Daley Needs a News “Pool Boy”

Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass reported Friday that Chicago’s airport operations boss Dave “Pool Boy” Ochal threw his political weight around last week when his neighborhood faced a power outage:

Ochal’s Far Northwest Side neighborhood was without power for two days in the summer heat. Neighbors dug into their own pockets to pay for emergency generators and shipped their elderly, including some who required oxygen therapy, to live with friends and family who had power. Then neighbors said they witnessed a political miracle Wednesday night:

A Commonwealth Edison truck pulled up at Ochal’s house in the 5400 block of North Paris Avenue.

The ComEd crew—two workers and a foreman—wore badges signifying they were detailed to O’Hare International Airport. With astonished neighbors watching, the crew delivered a big, fat electric generator to Ochal’s home.

It took only one day for him to resign.

Ochal had quite the reputation for working the system. According to Kass, in 2000 Ochal installed a built-in pool without permits. The pool swamped his neighbors backyards, “flooding their lawns and basements, shorting out appliances and blowing a ComEd transformer.”

Sounds like it was quite the scene last week when Kass went to interview the man he refers to as “Pool Boy.” When he knocked on Pool Boy’s door, his wife said he didn’t live there.

“There’s no Ochal here!” she said.

This truly astonished the neighbors. Then we went next door and around back, to see the fabulous pool and fabulous generator from that side. The camera guy was setting up his equipment, and just then, a little voice came from over the fence.

“Is this legal? Is this legal?”

It was Dave “Pool Boy” Ochal who popped up from behind the fence, his head up there like an angry jack-in-the-box.

Pool Boy couldn’t see me right off, standing there.

“Dave!” I shouted. “Pool Boy! It’s me, your friend, John.”

The realization on his face was poetic, if poetic looks like a slice of boiled ham in the moonlight.

Ochal’s head started to disappear behind his fence.

“Pool Boy!” I yelled. “Don’t go. It’s me, John. Don’t you want to talk?”

He didn’t.

Ochal resigned from his $159,144-a-year-plus-political-muscle position Friday.

ComEd has some questions to answer as well. While apparently not in the practice of delivering generators to customers’ homes, they did in this case.

Mayor Daley, interviewed in Beijing, sounded stupified:

When asked about the matter by a Tribune reporter in Beijing, Daley said, “It’s just plain stupid. It’s bad judgement. You know…..I mean why? It’s just bad judgement.”

Stupid for getting caught, perhaps, Mayor?

South Chicagoland Comedian/Actor Bernie Mac Dies

Shocking news from Northwestern Memorial Hospital today: Bernie Mac, comedian and actor, died Saturday. His publicist, Danica Smith, said he died as a result of complications from pneumonia.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

Mac suffered from sarcoidosis, an inflammatory lung disease that produces tiny lumps of cells in the body’s organs, but had said the condition went into remission in 2005. He recently was hospitalized and treated for pneumonia, which his publicist said was not related to the disease.

As recently as Friday, his publicist said Mac was responding well to treatment for the illness. The day before, she indicated he could be released from the hospital in the coming weeks.

But Mac, who lived in the south suburbs, died Saturday, cutting short a diverse and remarkable career that began with humble, South Side roots.

For a short while, Mac was a member of the Lincolnshire Country Club in Crete, IL. At the time, he was the club’s only African American member.

Mac worked in movies, standup, and television.

Mac was 50 years old.  We are all less for his loss.  He was an incredible talent.