The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Not the entry I started

I had just started to write about the despicable ICE raid in Postville, Iowa, last May, when my only dog puked a volume of food so large I didn't know his stomach could hold that amount, right onto a 19th-century Persian rug.

In situations like these, you can't get mad at the dog, but oh my goodness you really want to.

Update: Nature's Miracle seems to be working, but that can't be good for the rug.

He quit rather than honor Helms

Via Talking Points Memo, North Carolina Agriculture Dept. employee L.F. Eason III retired rather than lower the flags at his state lab to honor the passing of Sen. Jesse Helms:

Eason, a 29-year veteran of the state Department of Agriculture, instructed his staff at a small Raleigh lab not to fly the U.S. or North Carolina flags at half-staff Monday, as called for in a directive to all state agencies by Gov. Mike Easley.

When a superior ordered the lab to follow the directive, Eason decided to retire rather than pay tribute to Helms. After several hours' delay, one of Eason's employees hung the flags at half-staff.

Nice. I approve.

Strategy v. Tactics

I try not to be part of the blogosphere echo-chamber, but I think it's important people get what Josh Marshall is saying here:

There's nothing odd or contradictory about Obama saying that he'll change the policy to one of withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq with a specific timetable but that he will consult with his military advisors about how best to execute that policy.

The simple truth is that this campaign offers a very clear cut choice on Iraq. One candidate believes that the US occupation of Iraq is the solution; the other thinks it's the problem. John McCain supports the permanent deployment of US troops in Iraq. That is why his hundred years remark isn't some gotcha line. It's a clear statement of his policy. Obama supports a deliberate and orderly withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. It's a completely different view of America's role in the world and future in the Middle East.

That'll show him!

Her Majesty the Queen has punished the unspeakably foul dictator who has ruined Zimbabwe and thrown millions into starving poverty, by stripping him of his knighthood. This, on top of her government's ongoing finger-wagging and tut-tutting, will no doubt shame Robert Mugabe into better behaviour. Morgan Tsvangerai, you can go home now.

Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama have finally spoken up, though. They are probably the two most influential people in the world on this matter, so perhaps—just perhaps—things may start to change.

A strange thing happened at City Hall

In Chicago, we have an annual vehicle tax of $75. Many neighborhoods also have restricted parking zones; permits are $25. Both vehicle stickers and parking permits expire on June 30th.

I mention this because I went to renew these things in person this afternoon down at City Hall. Yes, three business days before their expiration, I stood in line. How long? you wonder. This is city government, after all.

Seven minutes.

Chicago really is the city that works.

I even had time to go to the County Assessor's Office to clear up an issue with my property tax. That adventure took—wait for it—no time at all because the receptionist walked me through the process as soon as I entered the office.

City and county services like these make my head spin. Let's review: I walked into the building at 4:15 pm, and walked out at 4:45 with my vehicle sticker, parking permit, and corrected property tax information.

Try that in any other major city in the world. Ha!

And as an added bonus, via Calculated Risk, 75% of Americans blame the Current Occupant (208 days, 16 hours, 20 minutes) for the deteriorating economy. For the record, I'm one of them.

Side note: Chicago is wikitravel's destination of the month.

I'm back

I have returned from my latest travels, patted Parker, had a good night of sleep, and am offloading several hundred photos from two digital cameras. This, plus restocking my fridge, will take a little bit, so in the meantime: Paul Krguman explains why speculators have nothing to do with oil prices right now:

Imagine that Joe Shmoe and Harriet Who, neither of whom has any direct involvement in the production of oil, make a bet: Joe says oil is going to $150, Harriet says it won't. What direct effect does this have on the spot price of oil — the actual price people pay to have a barrel of black gunk delivered?

The answer, surely, is none.

Chicago ascendant

What a day in Chicago. Since this time yesterday:

These are just some of the reasons why this city rocks.