The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Obama visiting Chicago; aviation plans undecided

The Chicago Tribune this morning reported that the President plans a visit home early next month. But as I mentioned earlier, it's not clear what effects this will have on area aviation:

Aides declined to comment on Obama's February schedule, but a source close to him said he could make his first presidential visit to Chicago as early as Presidents' Day weekend, when his daughters have a three-day break from school.

... In Chicago, the best bet for an Air Force One landing is O'Hare International Airport. Midway Airport and Gary/Chicago International Airport could also be options, especially if a smaller-than-normal plane is used to transport the president.

During the campaign, Obama almost exclusively used Midway, a location that offered a 20-minute commute to his home in the Hyde Park/Kenwood neighborhood.

But Midway's longest runway is just 6,522 feet, barely long enough for the Boeing 757 that served as his general election campaign plane. The two 747s typically deployed as Air Force One are considerably larger and heavier.

Actually, a 747 can land just fine at Midway or Gary—or Chicago Executive, for that matter. When a 747 lands, it weighs considerably less than when it takes off, and it's moving considerably slower. That's the problem: once a 747 lands at an airport without a runway longer than about 7,000 feet, that airplane isn't leaving.

Under perfect circumstances, a 747-8 needs only 5,500 feet of runway to take off or land. But "perfect" means an empty airplane on a cold day with a good headwind. Landing and takeoff performance degrade quickly under other circumstances. On a mild Chicago spring day with a modestly-loaded airplane, the distances jump to 7,000 or 8,000 feet quickly.

The Air Force, however, has a solution, which no one else seems to have considered:

When Obama was last in Chicago on Jan. 4, he departed from Midway on a military plane equivalent to a 757. That plane has been used as Air Force One and has also transported vice presidents, first ladies and members of Congress.

Duh. The 757 was designed for short runways.

So now we only have to worry about the traffic jams his motorcade will cause...

And on the seventh day...

He got a treasury secretary. Barely. And I have to agree with Russ Feingold (D-WI), that one might prefer the head of the IRS to have paid all his taxes (or at least not lied about it when caught).

Can you believe it's been a week? Remember where you were eight years ago? I was back from London, which is where I watched the previous occupant being sworn in live on the Beeb, embarrassed for my country. Things have changed.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the soon-to-be-former Governor of Illinois continues to stretch the abilities of pundits and bloggers worldwide to come up with new ways of expressing that he's insane. Take yesterday's performance, for example:

Blagojevich again blasted Illinois Senate rules that prohibit his calling certain witnesses and producing certain evidence. "Unlike Richard Nixon, who was dealing with issues of tapes, who didn't want his tapes heard," the governor said. "I want mine heard. I'd like the full story to be told. If the Senate would let me have evidence, I sure would like to be there so I could prove my innocence." only reason you're not there, Roddy old boy, is that you're in New York making an arse of yourself on international television.

The bottom line: I'm proud to be an American right now, but not so thrilled to be from Illinois.

Cuckoos are actually pretty savvy birds

I think the only governor we have (until Thursday, apparently) has less resemblance to a cuckoo than a dodo, but even that analogy isn't quite apt. Cuckoos, recall, are parasites, hijacking the nests of other birds, killing their hosts' chicks, and taking heavy losses themselves when their hosts discover their predations. Dodos, on the other hand, were inoffensive, peaceful birds who had no defenses against the rats and pigs who ate their eggs with reckless abandon, causing the birds to go extinct within 40 years of first contact with humans.

No, after reading about our only governor's performance with Diane Sawyer this morning—hours before his presence in Springfield might be appropriate—I think, possibly, he's a peacock: a strutting, narcissistic, totally useless and not fairly intelligent bird, with a loud and grating call that irritates everyone within earshot.

Anyone else have suggestions? If Soon-To-Be-Former-Governor Blagojevich were a bird, what kind of bird would he be?

Update: Barbara Walters this morning did not ask Blagojevich what kind of bird he would be; instead she asked him "why are you wasting time on these shows?" Seems a fair question.

Quick sightseeing flight

When the temperature falls below -5°C, practicing landings increases the risk of frosted spark plugs and other cold-weather engine failures. So why not go sightseeing instead? Especially late afternoon in the dense, calm winter air? I mean, it's not like there's a baseball game:

Having the President out of town does make it easier to fly in the area, however. With him in town we have to stay about 3 km off the lake shore near Hyde Park, making it very tricky to thread the airspace restrictions to get up the west side of the Loop:

Good flight. Can't wait to fly again—when it's warmer.

Also: here's the KML.

Power to the People!

The only governor we have takes his fight to the air in a self-parody so pathetic it made his lawyers quit:

Edward Genson, Blagojevich's lead criminal defense attorney, announced he was quitting hours after his client smeared the impeachment trial as a "sham" in a series of radio interviews and a nationally televised news conference. Blagojevich said the criminal case was being used as a pretext to impeach and remove him by fellow Democrats who have a vendetta against him for his independent political streak.

"That's what this is all about," Blagojevich said during a nearly 20-minute news conference in the Thompson Center in Chicago. "The heart and soul of this has been a struggle of me against the system."

It was all too much for Genson, a cautious criminal litigator who didn't approve of his client going public.

"I never require a client to do what I say. But I do require them to at least listen," Genson said after a federal court hearing related to the impeachment case. "I wish the governor good luck and Godspeed."

It's sad, really, that the governor doesn't realize that he is the system. Or, rather, was.

Even the pot—er, Mayor of Chicago—"puckered his lips and—in a high-pitched, sing-song voice—chirped: 'I said cuckoo once, I'll say it again. Cuckoo.'"

Oh sad day

Via The Atlantic's James Fallows, a report that Microsoft's latest round of layoffs means the end of Flight Simulator:

[A]s of yesterday, it's the end of development for the venerable FS franchise (and probably the associated Microsoft ESP, the new commercial simulation platform based on FS), one of the longest-running titles in the history of the PC.


When the Tribune and the Onion converge

Trib headline: "Gov. Rod Blagojevich's lawyers expect his removal from office":

"As far as I know, the people in the Senate are more likely than not to convict him, and he will be removed from office," Blagojevich attorney Edward Genson told the Tribune. "I don't welcome it, but I expect it."

Genson also said Blagojevich won't mount a defense during the impeachment trial.

Duh. Everyone in Illinois knows the Governor will lose his job next month. Everyone, it seems, except the Governor:

"What the Senate and House are trying to do is to thwart the will of the people and remove a governor elected twice by the people without a fair hearing, without due process and without giving me the right—the most basic right every citizen in our country has—and that is the right to call witnesses," said Blagojevich.

In advance of a series of news media appearances on Friday, Blagojevich told the Associated Press on Thursday: "I'm going to fight this to the very end. ... Dec. 9 to my family, to us, to me, is what Pearl Harbor Day was to the United States," he said. "...And just like the United States prevailed in that, we'll prevail in this."

Memo to Governor: Your approval is in single digits. The only two reasons you are still in office are (a) you're too stupid to resign and (b) Illinois doesn't have a recall provision in its constitution. It's not a criminal trial; it's an exercise of political power. Don't worry, even after your conviction in the Senate next month, you'll still get your day in court. Oh yes. You will.

The evening and the morning of the second day

The President has ordered the military prison at Guantánamo Bay closed within a year, directed intelligence services to abide by the Army's interrogation standards, and directed Justice to review an important terrorism case with an eye towards giving the defendant actual Constitutional protections.

If he keeps this up, we could restore our standing in the world in less than 20 years, perhaps.

In local news, the Chicago Tribune has picked its favored bidder in the upcoming Cubs sale (without revealing who it is), and Illinois first lady Patricia Blagojevich got fired from her job as fundraiser at the Chicago Christian Industrial League. These stories aren't related, mind you; they're just current.

The first day of the Obama Administration

Life goes on:

Now I'm going back to the NPR story about all the stuff we're not shipping from our major ports.