The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Soldier Field loses landmark status

As many predicted, and as the perpetrators denied, Soldier Field has lost its landmark status following its destr--er, renovation in 2003, former Interior Secretary Gale Norton announced as one of her last official acts on Friday. Says Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin:

If you obliterate a building's form, the government's decision suggests, you obliterate its meaning. Norton wisely ignored the arguments of those who claimed that Soldier Field retained its historic significance, irrespective of how it looked. Perhaps they would like to drop a steel-and-glass box inside the White House.

I'm reminded of Archimedes, I think it was, being skewered by an invading Roman for no apparent reason.

Rumsfeld still ought to go

It's unusual to find such rousing agreement between left and right, but Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has gotten it. The Economist says "George Bush is a fool for keeping Donald Rumsfeld in his job" (though I can think of other reasons):

Getting rid of Mr Rumsfeld is no guarantee that things will get better. But keeping him ensures that they will get worse. Mr Bush made a huge mistake in not accepting Mr Rumsfeld's offer to resign in the wake of Abu Ghraib. Every day he keeps him in his job he compounds his mistake and weakens his presidency.

Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman, on the other hand, finds a reason to keep him:

Should the president fire Donald Rumsfeld? That's like asking if Disney should retire Mickey Mouse. Why get rid of someone who represents everything important about an institution—particularly if doing so leaves those things unchanged? No, President Bush should keep Rumsfeld as a perennial symbol of the administration's essential characteristic: hubris.

Finally, Josh Marshall has a good explanation why Bush can't really fire him:

If Rumsfeld goes, you need to nominate someone else and get them through a senate confirmation. That means an open airing of the disaster of this administration's national security policy. Every particular; all about Iraq. Think how much they don't want that...

Two happy thoughts in conclusion: First, the general election is only 199 days away; and second, there remain fewer than 1,005 days and 1 hour in the Bush administration.

Newspapers afraid to print Ryan's party affiliation

Josh Marshall reports that newspapers are reluctant to say that convicted felon George Ryan is a Republican:

As we mentioned earlier, the AP really, really didn't seem to want to mention that George Ryan, the former Illinois governor convicted of corruption today, is a Republican. The AP waited until the very end of the article to note that Ryan is from the GOP.
Time never got around to mentioning it. ... While failing to mention the party affiliation of the guy who got indicted, they did manage to have this as the second sentence of the article ...
On Monday, former Governor George Ryan, 72, became the third of the state's last six governors to be convicted of political misdeeds, and the current administration of Democrat Rod Blagojevich is also being investigated.
It's almost a tour de force of party ID bamboozlement.

Our home-town paper, the Chicago Tribune, identified him as "the Kankakee Republican" in the sixth paragraph.

It's just like Rush says: liberal press bias.

Ryan guilty on all counts

Republican former Illinois governor George Ryan was convicted on all counts of corruption in his Federal felony trial:

A federal jury convicted former Gov. George Ryan today on all charges that as secretary of state he steered state business to cronies in return for vacations, gifts and other benefits for himself and his family.
Lobbyist Lawrence Warner, a close Ryan friend, was also found guilty on all charges against him in the historic trial.
On their eleventh day of deliberations, the six-woman, six-man jury found Ryan, 72, guilty on 18 counts of racketeering, mail fraud, false statements and tax violations. Warner, 67, was convicted on 12 counts of racketeering, mail fraud, extortion, money laundering and evading cash-reporting requirements.

More later.

Krugman: Exxon-Mobil is "enemy of the planet"

Economist Paul Krugman (sub.req.) in today's New York Times lays out exactly how Exxon-Mobil has tried to undermine climate research since the mid-1980s:

The people and institutions Exxon Mobil supports aren't actually engaged in climate research. They're the real-world equivalents of the Academy of Tobacco Studies in the movie "Thank You for Smoking," whose purpose is to fail to find evidence of harmful effects.
But the fake research works for its sponsors, partly because it gets picked up by right-wing pundits, but mainly because it plays perfectly into the he-said-she-said conventions of "balanced" journalism. A 2003 study, by Maxwell Boykoff and Jules Boykoff, of reporting on global warming in major newspapers found that a majority of reports gave the skeptics—a few dozen people, many if not most receiving direct or indirect financial support from Exxon Mobil—roughly the same amount of attention as the scientific consensus, supported by thousands of independent researchers.

I still haven't forgiven Exxon for the Exxon Valdez disaster (and neither have the sea otters, who are still affected). This is just one more nail.

Terror alert: Pamphleteers

TPM Muckraker reported today that the Dept. of Homeland Security has a new warning about radical animal-rights groups:

Such radical extremist groups may use several tactics—each devastating in its own way—including:
- "organizing protests"
- "flyer distribution"
- "inundating computers with e-mails"
- "tying up phone lines to prevent legitimate calls"
- "sending continuous faxes in order to drain the ink supply from company fax machines"

I particularly like the fourth item, since several Republicans have been convicted recently of doing just that in New Hampshire during the 2002 election.

Religious nuttiness for the holiday

The Chicago Tribune carried two Assoicated Press stories about religious fanatacism this morning. First, Christians were attacked at Mass in Egypt yesterday. When American Christians, who currently run the government, claim to be "persecuted," perhaps they should reflect on the Egyptian situation.

The second story, from Manila, Philippines, tells of Catholics voluntarily getting nailed to crosses to show their devotion. In a concession to the fact that we no longer live in ancient Roman times, the 10 cm (4 in.) nails pounded through their hands and feet—in one man's case, for the 20th time—were "soaked in alcohol to prevent infection."

Happy Easter!

Christians sue for right of free bigotry

The latest campaign of the Christian right is to get colleges to grant them exceptions to their broad anti-harrassment policies. The L.A. Times reports on a suit against the Georgia Institute of Technology:

Ruth Malhotra went to court last month for the right to be intolerant.
Malhotra says her Christian faith compels her to speak out against homosexuality. But the Georgia Institute of Technology, where she's a senior, bans speech that puts down others because of their sexual orientation.
Malhotra sees that as an unacceptable infringement on her right to religious expression. So she's demanding that Georgia Tech revoke its tolerance policy.

You have to read about two-thirds down the article to get to the crux (sorry) of the wing-nuts' objection:

[Christian activist Gregory S. Baylor] says he supports policies that protect people from discrimination based on race and gender. But he draws a distinction that infuriates gay rights activists when he argues that sexual orientation is different—a lifestyle choice, not an inborn trait.

Two things: first, whether sexual orientation is biological or a "lifestyle choice" misses the point, because the policy protects against religious persecution as well, so invalidating the policy would open up the fundies to more discrimination on campus. Second, according to the L.A. Times, by saying that the evidence suggests more strongly than not that homosexuality is partially biological, I'm a "gay activist." No wonder I feel fabulous.

There's more. Malhotra apparently has a long history of not "getting it" regarding appropriate and inappropriate speech:

Malhotra said she had been reprimanded by college deans several times in the last few years for expressing conservative religious and political views. When she protested a campus production of "The Vagina Monologues" with a display condemning feminism, the administration asked her to paint over part of it.
She caused another stir with a letter to the gay activists who organized an event known as Coming Out Week in the fall of 2004. Malhotra sent the letter on behalf of the Georgia Tech College Republicans, which she chairs; she said several members of the executive board helped write it.
The letter referred to the campus gay rights group Pride Alliance as a "sex club...that can't even manage to be tasteful." It went on to say that it was "ludicrous" for Georgia Tech to help fund the Pride Alliance. "If gays want to be tolerated, they should knock off the political propaganda," the letter said.

Imagine, just for a second, that Malhorta received a letter saying her Bible-study was a "terrorist club...that can't even manage to be civil." Imagine if it included the sentiment, "If Christians want to be tolerated, they should knock off the martyr propaganda." Don't you suppose she'd sue over that, too? At least in that case, she'd have a defensible position.