“What’s on your mind, Chicago?”


The fact that “Your phone records for sale?” Excellent coverage from americablog.com as well.

The Alito confirmation hearings, which begin today?

The continuing coverage of the devastating and tragic fire at the Pilgrim Baptist Church?

Increasing incidence of police impersonators in Chicago?

The unseasonably mild weather?

This is an open thread.

24 Comments so far

  1. Ben (unregistered) on January 9th, 2006 @ 10:34 am

    This is a story, which I suppose can speak to the importance of the Alito nomination, which aroused a spate of anger and bewilderment in myself. I was wondering how other people felt about it.

    Quick recap: Claiming he no longer believes in punishment, a Vermont judge issued a 60-day sentence to a man who confessed to repeatedly raping a girl over a four-year period, beginning when she was 7 years old.


    I find this sickening. Not only the fact that this rapist got 60 days, but also the fact that a judge says he no longer believes in punishment. This also reinforces my belief for an introduction of term limits for not only judges, but also politicians. I think that when individuals get in power and are disconnected from “normal people,” they lose touch with reality, which leads to garbage like this.

  2. Marty (unregistered) on January 9th, 2006 @ 11:32 am

    Some facts about judges:

    There are two types of judges in the Circuit Court: Circuit Judges and Associate Judges. All judges must be licensed attorneys and are officials of the State of Illinois. Circuit Judges are initially elected for a six-year term, either on a circuit-wide basis or from their county of residence. Thereafter, every six years they must run circuit-wide for retention. The Circuit Judges elect a Chief Judge using guidelines established by local court rules; the Chief Judge provides administrative guidance to the entire circuit. Associate Judges are appointed on a merit basis by the Circuit Judges for a four-year term. hereafter, they are considered for retention by the Circuit Judges every four years. Associate Judges may hear all types of cases except felony matters, for which they must receive authorization from the Supreme Court.

    that is all

  3. Ben (unregistered) on January 9th, 2006 @ 3:43 pm

    The absurdity of AFFIRMATIVE ACTION at its finest.

    Black police bodyguard in England sues and wins for being over-promoted due to race.


  4. nikkos (unregistered) on January 9th, 2006 @ 3:51 pm

    I’m already sorry I asked.

  5. Ben (unregistered) on January 9th, 2006 @ 4:31 pm

    “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt” – Abraham Lincoln

    There’s a tip for David Letterman, who said to Bill O’Reilly, “…I have the feeling about 60 percent of what you say is crap.”

    When asked for an example, Letterman said, “Well I don’t watch your show so that would be impossible.”

    Wow, making random claims and then having ABSOLUTELY NO EXAMPLES to back it up with.

    Sounds familiar to me…

  6. Danny Doom (unregistered) on January 9th, 2006 @ 4:58 pm

    i’ve never watched O’Reilly but i still know about some of the stupid things he has said. for example:

    “And if Al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we’re not going to do anything about it. We’re going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.”

    You don’t need to watch him to know these things. I think Dave was merely pointing out that he has better things to do with his time than watch O’Reilly’s crap. That’s why he said he “had a feeling,” instead of stating it as a fact.

    I personally “feel” that he was greatly underestimating O’Reilly.

  7. Ben (unregistered) on January 9th, 2006 @ 5:42 pm

    The quote from O’Reilly might seem ridiculous if you didn’t know the context in which it was given. Knowing the context makes it more acceptable.

    That’s the thing about forming opinions based on what other people say, with no first hand knowledge. You don’t get a subjective opinion. You hear what that person wants you to hear.

    It goes to prove that liberals base too much of their beliefs on feelings, while conservatives rely on facts.

  8. Marty (unregistered) on January 9th, 2006 @ 6:08 pm

    The context of the Al Qaeda is this: San Francisco voted to not allow military recruiting in their schools. Inviting terrorists to BLOW UP AMERICANS simply cannot be justified. There is no context that makes this appropriate either.

    You want to defend O’Reilly, that’s your right. Find a point worth defending Ben.

  9. Ben (unregistered) on January 9th, 2006 @ 6:47 pm

    I don’t agree with the part where O’Reilly said “You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.”

    I think that’s a stupid thing to say – that’s why I said it makes the statement more acceptable. However, I do agree with him when he said that if a city won’t allow military recruiters that they shouldn’t be allowed to receive a nickel in federal funding. San Francisco is being extremely disrespectful to the military, which is a vital part of our country.

    I think it would be tough to make an argument against that position.

    And btw, I don’t usually stick up for O’Reilly that much. However, I will call out the myrmidons on the left who just hear something and regurgitate it. The Democrats rely so much on that – repeat something enough and people will believe it. For example – Bush lied. It’s not true, but it’s been said so often, that a surprisingly large amount of people believe it.

  10. Danny Doom (unregistered) on January 9th, 2006 @ 7:00 pm

    “It goes to prove that liberals base too much of their beliefs on feelings, while conservatives rely on facts.”

    i like the blanket statement, i think you got everyone covered!

    for fun, make a switch:
    “It goes to prove that the religious right base too much of their beliefs on feelings, while atheists rely on facts.”

    generalizations are easy!

  11. Ben (unregistered) on January 11th, 2006 @ 10:16 am



    Here is a nice article about the disservice the government monopoly on education is providing.




  12. Ben (unregistered) on January 16th, 2006 @ 12:03 pm

    Rented ‘Downfall’ over the weekend and thought it was a superb movie. I would suggest anyone who is interested in history, specifically WWII or Hitler, to check it out. It’s the first movie I’ve seen where Hitler is the main character. It shows his last 10 days, and is based off of a book written by one of his secretaries. The German audio with English subtitles makes it authentic and the acting is top-notch.


  13. Ben (unregistered) on January 18th, 2006 @ 9:20 am


    Hillary Clinton compares the House of Representatives to a plantation: “For the last five years, we’ve had no. Power. At All. And that makes a big difference, because when you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation. And you know what I’m talkin’ about.”

    New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin claims that God wants New Orleans to be majority black. “I don’t care what people are saying [in predominantly white] Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day. This city will be a majority African-American city. It’s the way God wants it to be.”


  14. 2sides2everystory (unregistered) on January 18th, 2006 @ 2:31 pm

    “New Orleans mayor retracts King Day talk”

    “Obama defends Clinton’s ‘plantation’ remark”

  15. Ben (unregistered) on January 19th, 2006 @ 2:43 pm

    According to this article, last month Italian authorities arrested three Algerians linked to Al-Qaeda who were planning attacks on ships, railway stations and stadiums in the United States. Also, according to the article, this was only mentioned in ONE US paper. The article theorizes that maybe it wasn’t mentioned in the US because the Algerians were caught because the Italian authorities were listening to the phone conversations.

    Printing a story like that would give some more credibility to Bush, and that would be bad for Democrats, so the story went unmentioned.


  16. nikkos (unregistered) on January 19th, 2006 @ 2:56 pm

    To clarify, I don’t know of any Americans who think we should not be eavesdropping on Al Qaeda agents. What Americans oppose is the illegal eavesdropping on average American citizens. There are laws which overn these intelligence gathering activities. Is it too much to ask that the President obey the law?

    Since you likely won’t find it on RealClearPolitics, how about the article in the NYT that found that, post 9.11, the NSA was sending the FBI so many shitty leads the agents joked that “a new bunch of tips meant more ‘calls to Pizza Hut.'”


  17. Ben (unregistered) on January 19th, 2006 @ 3:14 pm

    From what I understand, they were not listening to average American citizens conversations; just people linked to Al-Qaeda or terrorists.

    The article also talks about how since the Times leaked the story, “there has been a surge in the purchase of large quantities of disposable cell phones by people from the Middle East and Pakistan, ABC News reported.”

    In light of UBL’s comments today, don’t you think it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on people who associate with terrorists?

  18. nikkos (unregistered) on January 19th, 2006 @ 3:52 pm

    Ben, I’m sorry but you don’t have your facts straight on this one. From the NYT article I linked to above:

    “WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 – In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.

    But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.

    F.B.I. officials repeatedly complained to the spy agency, which was collecting much of the data by eavesdropping on some Americans’ international communications and conducting computer searches of foreign-related phone and Internet traffic, that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators. Some F.B.I. officials and prosecutors also thought the checks, which sometimes involved interviews by agents, were pointless intrusions on Americans’ privacy.

    As the bureau was running down those leads, its director, Robert S. Mueller III, raised concerns about the legal rationale for the eavesdropping program, which did not seek court warrants, one government official said. Mr. Mueller asked senior administration officials about “whether the program had a proper legal foundation,” but ultimately deferred to Justice Department legal opinions, the official said.”

    Regarding the disposable cell phone incident, you must be referring to the one in which the Midland, TX police said “There is no known link or demonstrated link or any other kind of link at this point between the people here and any terror cell,” he said.”

    My source? Powerline. They corrected Michelle Malkin’s post which triggered this particular shitstorm. Malkin has not added any updates or corrections to her original post entitled “WE’RE ALL HOMELAND SECURITY AGENTS NOW” (her caps, not mine). The link: http://powerlineblog.com/archives/012826.php

    Of course, Malkin wrote a book defending Japanese-American internment during WWII and seems about a hair’s breadth away from recommending it for Arab-Americans today.

    But setting that aside for a moment, do you really think the terrorists found out about the wiretapping from the NYT? I think their knowledge of tradecraft would have led them to ASSUME this was the case. Shit, I assume MY calls are being listened to, don’t you think they do too?

    In closing, I would agree that yes, of course we should be keeping an eye on the terrorists. However, is this accomplished by eavesdropping on “innocent Americans?” Is this accomplished by scaremongering from the likes of Michelle Malkin, in which simply purchasing a cellphone while brown is a criminal offense? Is this accomplished by squandering our finite intelligence-gathering resources by having FBI agents track down calls to “Pizza Hut?”

  19. Elizabeth (unregistered) on January 19th, 2006 @ 3:59 pm

    Have you heard the six degrees of seperation theory, Ben? It goes like this – “Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on earth can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries.” That’s from Wikipedia.

    There are people who are on some sort of “Terrorist Affiliation Watch List”. Then there are their friends and family members and acquaintances and Great Aunt Doris’s and bill collectors and everyone else who they get on the phone with. The problem is that the government is not stopping at the people on the list. They’re also spying on these people’s Great Aunt Doris’s and bill collectors and friends and family and acquaintances. And, in turn, everyone Great Aunt Doris gets on the phone with. Heck, Ben, they may even be spying on you! I mean, who knows who the people that you know know? (That was a hell of a sentence. Mentally patting self on back.) For all you know, YOU’RE linked to Al-Qaeda.

    I have no idea how the laws about spying work in Italy. To be honest, I don’t plan on researching it.
    Not to mention the fact that it’s PURE CONJECTURE on your part and on the part of Realclearpolitics that “Printing a story like that would give some more credibility to Bush, and that would be bad for Democrats, so the story went unmentioned.”

  20. Elizabeth (unregistered) on January 19th, 2006 @ 4:01 pm

    Jesus. From the sound of the NYT article, not only is this eavesdropping illegal, it’s utterly useless. Good move, Bush Administration!

  21. nikkos (unregistered) on January 19th, 2006 @ 4:08 pm

    Yes indeed- your tax dollars at work!

    You raise a good point Elizabeth, that is also touched upon in the NYT article- what constitutes “suspected” ties to terrorism?

    Some scenarios that bring this home for me:

    – I have been extremely vocal and public in my opposition to Bush and the war in Iraq. Is my name on a list?

    – I have a friend whose mother is American and whose father is Iranian. His father is a nuclear engineer here in the U.S. My friend visited his extended family in Iran over the holidays. We traded a couple of e-mails, maybe when he was overseas, maybe not, it’s impossible for me to know exactly where he was when he wrote me. Is my name on a list?

    – I got a free copy of the Koran from CAIR (Center for Islamic American Relations). Is my name on a list?

    In any of the above scenarios SHOULD my name be on a list somewhere?

  22. Elizabeth (unregistered) on January 19th, 2006 @ 7:06 pm

    Whoa. I just read my above post and realized that I left out the whole paragraph about Italy. My copy and paste skills are apparently totally lacking. Sorry if that seemed slightly incoherent. I meant to make a point about how there was no clear information on whether or not the information was acquired illegally by the Italian government. Also, good luck figuring out how privacy laws work in Italy – I speak Italian, and their laws are still largely incoherent to me.

    From my experience with the FBI, Nikkos, if they’re spying on people, they’re spying on you. I had a high school boyfriend who was an avid animal rights activist – he never did anything violent, but got himself arrested around a dozen times (never convicted of anything), and he and everyone in his group were named suspected domestic terrorists and were being watched by the FBI. I mean, phone taps, cars outside their houses, all kinds of crazy shit. Most of the people who went into or came out of his house were tailed by police cars or unmarked cars at some point. Including me, and I had absolutely nothing to do with the protests. Seriously, you guys, these were high school kids with pink hair and “No Fur” signs in front of Neiman Marcus. Not exactly a dangerous group of people. Snotty, sure. Obnoxious? Totally. But not dangerous. And for the most part, this was before the security explosion of September 11th. I’m sure the FBI is taking it to a whole new level now. There’s plenty more to the story, but I’ll leave it at this – in my experience, the FBI is scary shit, and apparently it takes a fairly small amount of dissent and/or civil disobediance to get them on your tail.

  23. nikkos (unregistered) on January 20th, 2006 @ 8:38 am


    Wow, that’s chilling. I’m glad i didn;t know tat before I started blogging!

    So Ben, whaddya think? Has it occurred to you that perhpas your name is on a list, just for chatting with “radicals” like Elizabeth and myself?

  24. Elizabeth (unregistered) on January 20th, 2006 @ 8:57 am

    Sweet. I always wanted to be radical. Wait – maybe I just wanted to be “rad”.

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