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Saturday, October 08, 2005
 
Cindy's Clowns Demonstrate in Dallas

Apparently this is the newest crusade from Saint Sheehan:

But the mother who lost a son in Iraq last year sent a delegation of fellow protesters to Hutchison's North Dallas offices to request an explanation for the war in Iraq, something she says President Bush has refused to give.

Rusty Tomlinson of Cedar Hill, one of the protesters, said Sheehan's Texas supporters have joined a nationwide effort to hold demonstrations at the home offices of every member of Congress -- even those who agree with her.


Anybody else think her fifteen minutes are up?

And speaking of protesters, here's our favorite wooden Indian, protesting Columbus Day in Denver.



John Ruberry has more, including an even better term for Ward: "F-Troop Indian". What, Frank DeKova wasn't a real Indian? ;)
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Bush Economy Absorbs Katrina Job Losses

Well, the much-heralded rise in unemployment after Hurricane Katrina is proving much smaller than anticipated.

The Department of Labor reported yesterday that the economy lost 35,000 jobs in September, the first contraction since May 2003. The unemployment rate rose for the first time in seven months, inching up to 5.1 percent in September from 4.9 percent in August.

Job losses appeared to be concentrated in the disaster area. They were offset by strong employment growth in the rest of the country, which confirmed the continued strength of the economic expansion.

"The United States economy continues to impress with its resilience," said Scott Anderson, senior economist at Wells Fargo in Milwaukee. "The economic expansion will survive the hurricanes intact."


Not only that, but it will probably show increasing strength in the next several months as the huge task of reconstructing New Orleans begins to hit. Question: How will the Lefty bloggers spin this into bad news?
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Friday, October 07, 2005
 
What Are the Odds of Winning a Series If....

Let's take the major league division series going on right now, and analyze what has happened in the past to teams in similar situations after two games (looking at the National League contests for now).

It should be obvious that there are three possible scenarios for any team after two ballgames; they can be 0-2, 1-1 or 2-0. And there's another difference, two--the team can have this record after two games at home, or two games on the road. It should be obvious that a team that loses its first two games at home is in greater trouble than a team that loses its first two games on the road, and a team that is 1-1 has done far better if they've done it on the road; they've gotten the split they're looking for and now they have the home field advantage in their favor.

So I put together a little grid to see how often teams had won a series given each of the six different situations. I only had complete data for the 2001-2004 Seasons, to which I added the Red Sox/White Sox series this year which is already in the history books.

0-2 Home: 4 Teams, 1 Series Won, 25%
0-2 Road: 3 Teams, 1 Series Won, 33%
1-1 Home: 10 Teams, 5 Series Won, 50%
1-1 Road: 10 Teams, 5 Series Won, 50%
2-0 Home: 3 Teams, 2 Series Won, 67%
2-0 Road: 4 Teams, 3 Series Won, 75%

As you can see, the data are already sorting themselves out reasonably well. We'd sort of expect 1-1 teams to show something of a difference based on location played, but there's another, subtle effect that may be coming into play; teams that play the first two games at home are slightly better than teams that play those games on the road; that's how they get to play the home games in the first place. Plus of course there is no real reason to expect the data to make too much sense over so few series in total.
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New Blog to Check Out

Longtime commenter Songbird has started an intelligent new blog. The blog is only a few days old but there are already quite a few posts. I particularly found this story amusing about the outrage over a city councilman's use of the term "tar baby". The purported origination of the word is particularly shocking, but the real origin that Songbird found is quite a bit more prosaic.

This myth is even more ridiculous than the feminist canard that "rule of thumb" comes from a common-law understanding that men could "rule" their women with a stick no bigger in diameter than their thumb. Never mind that "rule of thumb" has nothing to do with ruling people--it's just a quick measure. And in fact carpenters in the old days would estimate the height of a stack of wood by standing back a few feet and measuring it with their thumb. Hence, rule of thumb.

Anyway, stop in and check out Songbird's blog!
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Another Little Eichmann

John Ruberry notes the irony of Ward (Cigar-Store Indian) Churchill addressing DePaul, considering one of that school's more famous graduates.
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Talkin' Baseball...

Buncha White Sox fans are dreaming of a championship. Our buddy Mr Right compiled a list of all the teams in baseball and how long they've been waiting for a World Series appearance/championship. White Sox fans have been waiting over 40 times as long as Diamondbacks' fans, and the Cubs fans have been waiting longer still. Terrific post by Mr R., but he does miss the real reason the Cubs haven't won: the Curse of Fred Merkle.
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More Blogroll Trimming

Sorry to say goodbye to the Nudnik File and Airborne Combat Engineer (ACE), but neither blog seems active anymore. They were terrific while they lasted and if they come back I'll be happy to link them again.
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Mapes Book Being Pulled?

Editor and Publisher notes that it no longer appears in Amazon's catalog. However, it's still highlighted on the front page of St. Martin's Press, the publisher.

My suspicion is that they've pulled the excerpt (the entire first chapter) because it was so embarrassingly bad.
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Barry Cowsill Missing in NOLA?

Kitty pointed me to this story:

Barry Cowsill, who with the rest of his '60s pop star family sang their vintage hit ``Hair'' at Fenway Park during the last epic Red Sox-Yankees showdown, has been missing from New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina struck.

The Cowsills are desperately seeking information on the whereabouts of Barry, who left a dire phone message for his sister from the eye of the storm last month.

The troubled former star, who has had substance abuse problems, was caught in N'Awlins as the storm ravaged the city, and his siblings feared he'd been washed away.


I'll never forget hearing "The Rain, the Park and Other Things" (I love a flower girl...) for the first time in 1967. They had terrific harmony. My personal favorite song of theirs is "Indian Lake", and of course they had the monster hit "Hair", which is probably the reason the article includes this:

The former hippie band from Newport, R.I., reunited just about a year ago to belt out ``Hair'' in homage to Johnny, Manny, Pedro, Bronson and all the Follically Faithful – as well as their late mum, Barbara, who was a huge Red Sox fan.

Any notion that they were a hippie band is hilarious:



A couple of Cowsill trivia tidbits: They sang the theme song to the TV skit show, "Love American Style" in the early 1970s. Bill Cowsill was considered as a replacement for Brian Wilson in the Beach Boys touring company. And of course, they were the real-life inspiration for "The Partridge Family".

Let's hope Barry turns up safe and sound.
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Clooney Can't Handle the Truth

His new film on the McCarthy hearings is apparently filled with the traditional vision of McCarthy as a nut who saw communists under ever bed.

But the film’s director, George Clooney, and his co-writer, Grant Heslov, have completely bought into the official Hollywood version of the McCarthy era. It’s hardly surprising, but it’s quite false. Not by the wildest caprice of imagination was “a nation terrorized” by McCarthy. A few screenwriters, actors, and directors with a strong sense of their own entitlement to keep on writing, acting, and directing were denied that opportunity. Some diplomats, military men, and other government officials also lost their jobs. Some were not hired.

Most of those who were seriously affected had been and in some cases still were communists or communist sympathizers — which in those days meant agents or would-be agents of Josef Stalin or his heirs, foreign dictators whose massive military might was geared for war against America, whose proxies were or had recently been killing American soldiers in Korea and who were responsible for what at the time were the greatest mass murders in history.
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Carnival of the Clueless is Up

Rick Moran has more links than Mr T's chains.
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Anti-War Crowd Grows

At least according to this very sympathetic account in Rotting Stump--errr, Rolling Stone.

These reluctant activists -- one with nothing, the other with everything left to lose -- joined the estimated 300,000 protesters in front of the White House on September 24th in the largest anti-war demonstration since the fall of Baghdad. Raucous college kids and graying boomers packed the Ellipse and Constitution Avenue for a morning rally before taking to the streets in a march that snaked for twenty blocks. It was an impressive show of strength, one that reflects the public's growing disapproval of the war. Fifty-two percent of Americans now favor an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, and an increasing number of vets and their families are beginning to speak out. "Are we having a positive impact in Iraq?" asks Capt. Justin Gordon, who took part in the assault on Baghdad, as he finishes a cigarette in an unsanctioned memorial of 1,900 white crosses staked on the Washington Mall. "Is our presence there protecting American citizens? The answer to both questions is no. That's why I can't support the war."

Three hundred thousand? I thought the media were being extraordinarily generous when they claimed 1/3rd of that number.

There is some honesty here:

Speakers at the rally, all but ignoring the plight of soldiers in Iraq, demanded that the U.S. end its "colonial occupation" of Haiti, called for the dissolution of the state of Israel and urged protesters to ally themselves with Iraqi insurgents "who fight back against the criminal U.S. occupation." When Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother whose vigil at Bush's ranch in Texas catapulted the anti-war movement from the margins to the mainstream, took the stage, organizers even tried to cut her speech short -- after barely two minutes -- to make way for a screechy slew of unknowns, who shouted on about the Angola Three, the Cuban Five and "legitimate revolutionaries" branded as terrorists by the "U.S. puppet regime" in Manila.

No kidding. Watching the rally two weeks ago, I was reminded of the old Snickers commercial, where a priest gives a benediction to a football team about to play an important game. After the priest is done, a rabbi follows and we see that there is a long line of religious leaders of various types awaiting their turn. "Not going anywhere?" asks the announcer.

But the writer can't resist the chance to lie about Saint Cindy:

Cindy Sheehan galvanized the cause, giving it a human face: one that is grieving, pro-soldier and above politics.

LOL! Above politics? Cindy campaigned for John Kerry last year in Florida. Pro-soldier? Who can forget Cindy's words about the soldiers protecting New Orleans?

"But what I saw was a city that is occupied. I saw soldiers walking around in patrols of 7 with their weapons slung on their backs. I wanted to ask one of them what it would take for one of them to shoot me."

Grieving?



The only real sign of grief was when the cameras stopped focusing on her and covered Hurricane Rita instead.
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Ankle-Biters Score Exclusive

They found out that the Democrats are planning to subpoena Dr James Dobson to testify in the Harriet Miers hearings.
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More and More Folks Falling for the "God Told Me to Invade Iraq" Story

The Guardian has picked it up, as has just about every "reality-based community" blogger out there. Nobody seems to have caught on that this story made a brief media sensation way back in 2003. It's not a new story, folks! And the differences between this story and the original are revealing as to just who is lying here. The Palestinians conveniently remember Bush promising them a Palestinian state, but when they reported this conversation back in 2003 there was no such specific promise, just a vague plan to solve the Middle East problem.
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Thursday, October 06, 2005
 
It's Never Over!

Was just Googling around for the "Democrats' plan" for "Energy Independence" which Senator Maria Cantpay--errr, Cantwell is supposed to be working on it, but apparently it's still in the oven (i.e., half-baked). In the meantime, I found this cached page from John Kerry's website that's pretty amusing:



That's right, a Kerry Administration would have stood firmly for ending energy independence, once and for all.
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Survivor Guatamala Episode Four

Pretty interesting episode. Opening we see everybody lying around, devastated by the heat and lack of food. No reward challenge per se this time, just a little chance for the tribes to give some rewards to other members of the same tribe. Gary, Judd, and two women get packed off for a picnic. (Gary got two rewards--the shower and the picnic; nobody else got that).

Then Probst springs the trap. Which member is the most supportive of his or her tribe? Brian and Rafe are chosen. The rest of the teams switch, although one other Nakum is allowed to remain with his original tribe.

This sets up an uneven match in the Yahxa tribe that gets remarked on a bit. It's pretty obvious that the three former Yaxha will be voted off in order by the four Nakum if this tribe starts losing. And that creates an odd dynamic that became obvious to me by the end of the episode. I'll leave it to the end of the post to reveal it.

At Nakum, meanwhile, Steph takes advantage of Judd, luring him into her group. Although the two groups are even tonight, Judd looks very likely to switch allegiance to the former Yaxha. Humorously, he talks about not liking his old tribemates, with all those young men; he talks about all the "male-tosterone" going around.

The immunity challenge was interesting; an outrigger race to gather three sets of paddles, which they then brought back to the beach. The paddles then had to be thrown to break three tiles at varying distances. Nakum takes the early lead arriving at the beach first. Steph manages to break a tile on her third throw; advantage Nakum. But then Yaxha manages to catch take the lead as Judd seemingly can't hit the target. At the end both tribes are trying for their last tile and Yaxha, after a few close calls, finally wins.

Much back and forth about whether Judd will betray Nakum. He says "The wheels are turning" at one point, and I couldn't help replying, "But the car's not going anywhere!" In the end he stabs his former teammates in the back. Cutie pie law student Brooke gets the hook.

This sets up the oddity. Next week these teams will meet again in the reward challenge, and somebody will realize that the former Yaxha and Nakum are now equal, but each has an advantage now in their former enemy's camp. If the Yaxha majority in Nakum loses intentionally, then they can vote off a former Nakum member. And if they win, they know the Nakum majority in Yaxha will vote off an original Yaxha member. So to the extent a team wants to keep their former mates in the game for the single tribal councils (hello, Pagong!), it ironically pays for the majority groups in each tribe to sandbag in the immunity challenge.

Which may be why Probst emphasized that things would be changing again. What if they reform the original tribes? Then Judd's got an bullseye on his chest as the person who stabbed a Nakum in the tribal council. That would certainly make for an interesting dynamic.

Random thoughts: Gary's still on the hot seat for being an NFL quarterback. The merge hurt him there too, as the sportscaster gal obviously remembered him. He didn't help things by admitting that he went to Central Michigan; everybody's gotta be thinking that she was right on the first part, why would she be wrong on the second? What an irony too that they didn't choose him to throw the paddles in the end!

Judd's definitely shaping up as the villain, but it's hard to really dislike him because he's not bright enough to be really devious. He's no Boston Rob, or Johnny Fairplay.
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BBC Falls for Stale Palestinian Propaganda--Updated

(Welcome fellow Danegerus, Ankle-Biting Pundits, Poliblogger, Polipundit HispaLibertas, Tim Blair and Memeorandum Readers!)

This story is now getting a lot of attention: Over 100 newspapers have published stories on it in the last two days. Technorati shows 200+ posts in the last 18 hours with the phrase "God would tell me".

Get this bit:

President George W. Bush told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq - and create a Palestinian State, a new BBC series reveals.

In Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, a major three-part series on BBC TWO (at 9.00pm on Monday 10, Monday 17 and Monday 24 October), Abu Mazen, Palestinian Prime Minister, and Nabil Shaath, his Foreign Minister, describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003.

Nabil Shaath says: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …" And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"

Abu Mazen was at the same meeting and recounts how President Bush told him: "I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state."


The Beeb treats this as news, but it's actually a story from 2003 that has been well-reported. Note that the press release does not say "President George W. Bush told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq... according to those Palestinian ministers," which would be more honest.

Here's a 2003 article from a somewhat more reliable source, the Washington Post. Interestingly, here there is no mention of a Palestinian state:

Imagine our surprise Wednesday to read in the Israeli paper Haaretz (online), that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Abu Mazen, meeting recently with militants to enlist their support for a truce with Israel, said that, when they met in Aqaba, President Bush had told him this: "God told me to strike at al Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam [ Hussein], which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."

So the "news" aspect of this story is nil, apart from the fact that "al Qaeda" has morphed into "Afghanistan", "Saddam Hussein" has been amended to "Iraq" and "solve the problem in the Middle East" has somehow become "Go get the Palestinians their state". That won't prevent the idiot chorus from howling about it of course.

The BBC is now reporting that the White House denies the claims, calling them "absurd".

Other folks falling for this story:

BlogCritics
Huffington Post

Oh, and note this degree of specificity in the Washington Post article:

Two calls to the White House for clarification went unreturned, but colleague Glenn Kessler did some digging. The Haaretz reporter, Arnon Regular, read what the paper said were minutes of the Palestinians' meeting to Kessler and another colleague, who is an Arabic speaker.

The Arabic-speaking colleague's translation, was this: "God inspired me to hit al Qaeda, and so I hit it. And I had the inspiration to hit Saddam, and so I hit him. Now I am determined to solve the Middle East problem if you help. Otherwise the elections will come and I will be wrapped up with them."


Kessler was read the minutes, and it said nothing about a Palestinian state back then. So obviously the Palestinians are today lying about that part; why should we trust them on the rest?

Of course, back then the Bush-bashing aspect was the supposed admission that the "road map" to peace in the Middle East could be delayed by the election when the president had stated otherwise publicly. Note too that in the original version there was only one fairly non-controversional mention of God ("God inspired me to hit al Qaeda" is hardly as controversial as "God would tell me"), while in the current version He appears four times, including the Blues Brothers-like "Mission from God" reference.

Some more Palestinian lying found here (movie clip). This is really quite terrific if you've got 15 minutes to watch it. Hat tip: Chris at Lucky Dawg.

Update: Tim Blair points us to this article where Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) denies the story of his information minister:

"This report is not true," the Abbas statement said today. "I have never heard President Bush talking about religion as a reason behind the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush has never mentioned that in front of me on any occasion and specifically not during my visit in 2003."

The article also notes that this "special" is to be aired on PBS on Monday. Isn't that wonderful?

Scott Burgess also notices the staleness of the story, which headlined both the Guardian and the Independent.
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Is the Base Really Abandoning Bush Over Miers?

If they are, it's pretty hard to find the evidence. Lorie Byrd puts it well here:

I have received quite a few emails, though, telling me that “the Base” is upset over this and that many will never vote for another Republican again as long as they live and that this nomination will result in the loss of the Senate in 2006 . Unless the base is defined as some conservative pundit/bloggers and blog readers, then there is nothing (that I have seen) to indicate that the base is up in arms over this nomination. If those opposed to Miers continue to speak out loudly (which is their right) and to claim that Bush lied (which I believe is just inaccurate) then maybe they will create some unease with the base. If they do, though, it will have been from the top down, rather than from the grassroots up.

I thought I'd take a look at the polling. We've all seen frequent reports on Bush's supposed falling job approval numbers. With his numbers so low, it seems safe to say that those remaining in approval largely make up the Republicans' base. So if Bush had really angered the base strongly with this pick, it should show up in further declines.

But it's not. Rasmussen polling does daily polls of the president's job approval ratings, which it blends into a three day moving average, and there is no evidence of erosion in his support. Here are his approval percentages the month of October so far: 45, 45, (Miers nomination announced) 46, 47, 47, 46.
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Rebutting the Six Arguments of the Pro-Miers Folks

John Hawkins has an excellent post on what he fairly characterizes as the six arguments of the folks supporting Harriet Miers (which includes me).

His argument is mostly fair although I would quibble with this:

That's not to say Harriet Miers is a talentless hack. She has probably accomplished more than 98% of the people in this country during her lifetime. Yet and still, to say she's not in the same ballpark qualifications-wise as candidates like Michael W. McConnell and Michael Luttig is an understatement. Not only is she not in the same ballpark, she's not in the same city, the same state, or even the same country. It's like she's on a boat somewhere heading towards the country. This is why so many people are disparaging her qualifications. It's because she is such a lightweight compared to the other people who were rumored to be in consideration.

The 98% figure is ridiculously low. Have 2% of the people been the head of a 400-lawyer firm? Have 2% been the head of their state bar association? Have 2% been White House Counsel?

Let's talk a bit about Clarence Thomas. Was he considered one of the top potential picks for the Supreme Court when he was chosen? Did he have credentials like Roberts? He also had only one year of experience as a judge (Roberts had two); I don't hear anybody on the right saying that he was unqualified for that reason.

And yet, there's nobody on the Republican side who would argue that he's been anything less than a superb justice.

The rest of John's article is thoughtful and well-reasoned. Good people can disagree on this nomination.
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Interesting Article On Why Many Americans Believed Saddam Was Behind the 9-11 Attacks

This is a much-mentioned meme on the Left; Al Gore included it in his speech the other day:

I thought maybe it was an aberration when three-quarters of Americans said they believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for attacking us on September 11, 2001. But more than four years later, between a third and a half still believe Saddam was personally responsible for planning and supporting the attack.

Here's what a honors candidate at the University of Illinois and her professor found when they dug into the polling story:

According to the researchers, the story of widespread popular misconceptions about Saddam’s role in the September 2001 attacks grabbed headlines in the national media around the first anniversary of the attacks. This “discovery” was startling at the time, the researchers wrote, and many commentators suggested that the majorities of Americans who blamed Saddam for the attacks had somehow been misled by the Bush administration.

In contrast to this popular account, Althaus and Largio found that the number of Americans willing to blame Saddam “has been dropping ever since the first days following 9/11.” After examining every publicly available survey question that asked Americans whether Hussein might be responsible for the attacks, they concluded that this “mistaken belief was already widespread among Americans long before President Bush began publicly linking Saddam Hussein with the war on terror.”


The authors also show that the wording of opinion surveys exaggerated how widespread these misperceptions were. The very earliest surveys in the days immediately after Sept. 11 showed that Americans spontaneously mentioned Osama bin Laden as the main person responsible for the attacks. Other questions in those surveys asked only about Saddam and “forced survey respondents to pick an option. In response to those questions, as many as eight in 10 Americans appeared willing to believe Saddam could have had a hand in the terror attacks.”

After September 2001, pollsters switched from recording spontaneous responses to presenting respondents with “forced-choice” questions. This switch, “probably made in order to more efficiently process the survey data, had the unintended effect of exaggerating the degree to which Americans saw a connection between Hussein and the attacks,” Althaus said.

In addition, most polls only permitted respondents to assess the likelihood that Saddam was involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. Only one poll allowed respondents a range of options. This poll, sponsored by the Program on International Policy Attitudes, revealed that about one in five Americans believed Saddam was directly involved in the attacks.

“It appears that rather than becoming duped, as the popular account has it, the American public has gradually grown more critical of the idea that Hussein had a hand in 9/11,” the researchers wrote. “Rather than showing a gullible public blindly accepting the rationales offered by an administration bent on war, our analysis reveals a self-correcting public that has grown ever more doubtful of Hussein’s culpability since the 9/11 attacks.”


Here's a link to the actual report (PDF file). Particularly interesting is their finding that the percentage of people expressing a belief in Saddam's involvement declined steadily over time and that the belief was highest immediately after 9-11. Despite the Left's fevered fantasies, the notion of Saddam being behind the attacks did not come from disinformation put out by the Bush White House.
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The Betrayal Meme

Lorie Byrd looks at the question of whether President Bush lived up to his promise to avoid nominating "stealth" candidates a la David Souter.
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Wednesday, October 05, 2005
 
Fatheaded Al Gore on the Stump



This speech was described by Brendan Nyhan as "thoughtful", which, of course, says more about Nyhan than the speech.

I came here today because I believe that American democracy is in grave danger. It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse . I know that I am not the only one who feels that something has gone basically and badly wrong in the way America's fabled "marketplace of ideas" now functions.

How many of you, I wonder, have heard a friend or a family member in the last few years remark that it's almost as if America has entered "an alternate universe"?


An alternate universe? Isn't that the kind of place where Bruce Wayne married Lois Lane?

I thought maybe it was an aberration when three-quarters of Americans said they believed that Saddam Hussein was responsible for attacking us on September 11, 2001. But more than four years later, between a third and a half still believe Saddam was personally responsible for planning and supporting the attack.

Yep, and the pollsters also found that Democrats were more likely to believe this. Of course Democrats believe that you need to teach kindergarteners how to put on a condom, so it's hardly surprising that they fall for other hoaxes.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, there was - at least for a short time - a quality of vividness and clarity of focus in our public discourse that reminded some Americans - including some journalists - that vividness and clarity used to be more common in the way we talk with one another about the problems and choices that we face. But then, like a passing summer storm, the moment faded.

A quality of vividness and clarity of focus? No, the media got the story wrong. I can see how Gore might have enjoyed that.

In fact there was a time when America's public discourse was consistently much more vivid, focused and clear. Our Founders, probably the most literate generation in all of history, used words with astonishing precision and believed in the Rule of Reason.

Despite my admiration for the founding fathers (guess it's politically incorrect to refer to them as fathers), describing them as the most literate generation in history is absurd.

There's more, much more and I may come back to this ridiculous speech.
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Buckner Redux?

Was out with some friends this evening and caught Graffanino's wicket. He tried to make up for it with a double in the ninth, but they couldn't bring him home. Of course, nothing will ever quite equal the Buckner moment.

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Loser Left Speculating on Rove Indictment?

Ankle-Biting Pundits have the story.
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Carlton Sherwood Sues Kerry, Podesta

Carlton Sherwood, a Vietnam Veteran who produced the film Stolen Honor, which slammed John Kerry for his antiwar activities in the early 1970s, is suing Le Fraud and John Podesta.

The lawsuit comes as Sherwood himself is being sued by one of the VVAW-types who appeared in the film and another who didn't even show up in the movie. Sherwood needs help as the Ketchup Queen is probably bankrolling the folks suing Sherwood. Donations can be made here.
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Team Player

To me it's something like the inevitable moans and groans when a pro football team drafts a player. Nobody really knows what the result of that draft pick is going to be. If the San Francisco 49ers had drafted Joe Montana with their first pick in 1979, everybody would have yelped that the choice was a reach, that there was no way to justify that selection.

And yet, with the benefit of hindsight, we know that Montana would have been a superb pick, and that in fact the 81 men picked before him in the 1979 draft were all horrific mistakes that cost the teams choosing them a chance at multiple championships.

There is no way of knowing if Harriet Miers is going to be a Joe Montana pick, and of course she doesn't have to be for it to be a successful selection. For me it comes down to trusting the people doing the choosing.

What about my fellow bloggers' reactions? Well, the problem is that there are people whose judgment I trust on both sides of the issue. Michelle Malkin's opposed, Hugh Hewitt's in favor. Glenn Reynolds is opposed, Lorie Byrd is in favor. Aaron's opposed (somewhat), Kitty's in favor.

But the draft pick has been made, and I'm a team player. Handing the Democrats a victory on this nomination would be a huge mistake.
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Nanny State Gone Wild

This is pretty funny, but it's apparently an ad for the humor-impaired turkeys at the ACLU.
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That's Why It's Pronounced "Rooters"

Sir Humphrey notices
that one of their photographers seems quite chummy with the terrorists in Iraq.

Hat Tip: Instapundit
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Idiot's Son to Run for Senate

Looks like the apple didn't fall too far from the tree.

Carter said he decided to run in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He said he was offended by the federal government's response to the disaster.
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Tuesday, October 04, 2005
 
Amazing Race Family Edition Recap II

Okay, I was obviously wincing at my comment from last week about the Rogers family, as Daddy Rogers, the leader of the family, said let's take 30 East instead of 30 West, leading his family in the wrong direction. He seemed set to take the rap as the villain but he admitted his mistake after some typical old man grumbling.

And my favorite team from last week, the Gaghans, promptly demonstrated the problem with a family of runners as they decided to run around one Reflecting Pool without ever, errr, reflecting that there might be two such pools. I probably would have been hosed myself though since the wrong Reflecting Pool is the one in the famous scene in Forrest Gump.

Can I talk about the obvious here? It is clear that this is going to be a US-based Amazing Race. We had the Revolutionary War reenactment last week and today comes the Civil War. The race started in New York, moved across NJ to PA, then MD to DC. It's going to be something of a Patriot-Fest, with exposure to some very different communities and eras in the country's history. I'd be surprised if we see them go outside the country now.

Which makes it interesting to speculate on what they'll do in the next couple episodes. You gotta know we're going to get hit with a slavery episode somehow; hopefully the tasks assigned won't be overbearing--no cotton picking, for example. Perhaps a race across the ice floes?

Still the occasional dose of political correctness won't spoil the backdrop that I anticipate: America the Beautiful. We've already gotten some terrific glimpses of it so far.

Anyway, tonight the teams started out basically even. One of the things I keeps meaning to do but never get around to is recording the initial starting times of each team. It is my recollection that the 2nd through 6th teams started within 12 minutes of each other; certainly closer than what appeared from last week's finish.

First stop: Shoehouse. Cute way of engaging the kids, I'd suspect. Second stop: Reflecting Pool, Washington DC. As noted above, many of the teams assumed that meant the one between the Washington and Lincoln monuments, but in fact it was a much less famous pool in front of the Capitol Building. This put a big whammy on the Gaghan family which reached DC in first place but left it in 7th.

A little bit of secret agentry follows. The families get a briefcase from a limousine, then have to try to exchange it with people walking around the Tidal Basin with the cornball codewords, "The sky is blue" and "the sea is green".

The next and final stop is a detour. Teams have to choose whether to haul wounded soldiers from a Civil War battlefield or do some gawd-awful thing with lamps. Most choose the former and the race really boils down to who can haul the corpses off the field. Surprisingly the middle-aged man who looked in good shape turns out to be weaker than his three daughters, but the Italian immigrant outlasts his apparently strong sons.

The widow and her three daughters win tonight. The Rogers family is eliminated, largely, we are led to assume, by the father's mistake. Even assuming that's true, what is the message that kids are getting from the show? That Dad's wrong, and that teenaged boy is right. Yes, in terms of reading maps sometimes that happens. But I worry about presenting it that way to children.

The Paulo family was clearly chosen for comic relief, but they also provided a little vindication for the older generation. The one boy moaned and groaned while Dad and Mom shouldered the load.

In the Detour, I was really impressed again with the Gaghans. It seemed obvious that they had made a mistake in taking the more physical challenge, but the boy, despite some griping, held up his end of the load and Mom and Dad, who are clearly athletes bombed through a challenge that distressed many more clearly physical teams. Don't get me wrong--kids are a tremendous disadvantage in this game. I suspect that two more adults would have said, hey, let's find out if there's another reflecting pool, like maybe near the Capitol; in effect that's what happened with most of the teams.

Viking Pundit reminds us that the Amazing Race is indeed like a sport depicted in another Tom Hanks film.
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Moron The Democrats Search for Slogans

This is actually a pretty sensible post, but I couldn't resist poking fun at this part:

I'm all for defining the party, but we need to do it right. And that means nothing that requires five paragraphs of explanation on why it actually characterizes us rather than our opponents. Definitions should speak of actions, they should be, in a real and basic sense, little policy platforms that signal what we believe by explaining what we'll enact. Think "national health care, governmental reform, regulated corporations, a living wage, and a revived American image abroad".

Or, on a bumper sticker:

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One Point Two Million Reasons Judith Miller Went to Jail?

Norma at Collecting My Thoughts has the scoop.
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Cub Scout Saves Life

You all know I'm a sucker for stories like this:

During an Easter egg hunt in Monticello on March 26, 2005, a girl fell through the ice on Lake Montesian while fetching an egg. [Ashton] Crouch, who had received Red Cross Basic Aid Training, raced out to the girl and extended his leg to her. She was able to pull herself out of the water to safety.

When he saw the girl fall through the ice, Crouch remembered the training he had received: "When somebody is drowning you stick out something long and sturdy to pull themselves in with."

When Ashton's mother, Jill Crouch, came to pick him up at the end of the day, he asked her not be angry because he was wet.


:) I think she forgave him.
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Silly Stuff on Miers

Drudge is highlighting her answer of yes to this question:

1. Do you believe that gay men and lesbians should have the same civil rights as non-gay men and women?

But completely ignoring the second question and answer:

2. Do you, as an individual citizen, support repeal of Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code which criminalizes the private sexual behavior of consenting adults:

A: No


The other part Drudge highlights is her support for AIDS education. Is that controversial? The specifics might be a problem (i.e., AIDS education for Kindergarteners would cause a row), but the general concept of AIDS education shouldn't bother anybody.
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Lucianne Gets Mentioned in NY Sun

Nice to see Mrs G getting the credit she deserves:

“If you want the facts,” I advised her, “log on to Lucianne.com.” This is the biggest blog produced in New York City. According to Lucianne Goldberg, who owns and operates the popular site, as of August it received a monthly average of 23,516,902 hits. This is the site I rely on to get the truth on all the issues because the registered Lucianne posters, known as Ldotters, post news articles from all over the world, regardless of political affiliations or inclinations. The site has strict guidelines requiring legitimate news sources — foolish rants are not tolerated by Ldotters or the Lucianne staff.

In my opinion, what distinguishes Lucianne.com from other major forums such as Freerepublic.com and Powerlineblog.com are the witty and frequently hilarious comments regarding the posted news items. Clearly, Ldotters are highly intelligent and have an irreverent sense of humor that lightens the day for many of us who’ve sometimes found it difficult to laugh since September 11, 2001.


I've been an L-Dotter for a long time; at least since 2000,possibly earlier. I first heard about the 9-11 attacks on Lucianne's site, not from an article, but from urgent messages from L-Dotters to "turn on your TV NOW!"
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Chillin' Part II--Updated



Patrick Ruffini is starting a new Coalition of the Chillin', Scotus Division. Unlike him, I'm part of the original Chillin' brigade. I'm willing to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt for now on the Miers' nomination. However, I'll also admit that some of the stuff that is coming up, like her alleged support for the International Criminal Court is troubling.

Update: It my sense that the reason some of my fellow conservatives are so upset over this pick is that we were spoiling for a fight over what the proper role of the Supreme Court is. It's not so much Harriet Miers (who is, after all, something of a cipher right now) as it is our desire to have the argument out.

But suppose this nomination is not so much about the current vacancy on the court as it is the next two, which seem likely to be Justices Ginsburg and Stevens. How hard are the Democrats going to be able to fight for a liberal justice when President Bush has given them a moderate conservative this time around? And if Bush gets those two nominations, then the court will be conservative by a 7-2 margin.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want another Souter (and fear of that possibility is another major reason for the distress in conservative circles). But if we end up with a 7-2 majority, will it really matter if one or two of the judges on our side are somewhat squishy?

Michelle Malkin takes the opposite tack and raises many valid points. I'm not saying that Miers is a great pick, and President Bush didn't help her case by saying it was a diversity pick; Owens would have been equally diverse, and Brown even more so.
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Intentionally Getting It Wrong

I have to admit, I thought this Bill Bennett controversy would last about five minutes. I underestimated the Left's willingness to lie, to distort, and to obfuscate. Eugene Robinson checks in today with an op-ed in the WaPo that provides an example.

In defending his words, Bennett has said he was citing "Freakonomics." So why did his "thought experiment" refer only to black children?

Levitt's thesis is essentially that unwanted children who grow up poor in single-parent households are more likely than other children to become criminals, and that Roe v. Wade resulted in fewer of these children being born. What he doesn't do in the book is single out black children.


Does he have to? Leaving the question of "unwanted" aside, is it not transparent that children who grow up poor in single-parent households are disproportionately black? Weren't we supposed to be having a national discussion about poverty and race in the wake of New Orleans?

If he was citing Levitt's work, Bennett could have said that to lower the crime rate "you could abort every white baby" or "you could abort every Hispanic baby" or "you could abort every Asian baby," since every group has unwanted, poor children being raised by single mothers.

Again, let's leave the unwanted part out because that's unknown and unknowable. Is there any denying that blacks are overrepresented in the pool of poor children being raised by single mothers?

So now that we have Bennett on the couch, shouldn't we conclude that he mentioned only black children because, perhaps on a subconscious level, he associates "black" with "criminal''?

That's what it sounds like to me. I grew up in the South in the days when we had to drink at "colored" water fountains and gas stations had separate "colored" restrooms; I know what a real racist is like, and Bennett certainly doesn't fit the description. But that's what's so troubling about his race-specific "thought experiment" -- that such a smart, well-meaning opinion maker would so casually say something that translates, to African American ears, as "blacks are criminals."


See, that's where he starts distorting. Nobody thinks Bennett believes that blacks are criminals, except for the race-baiters. Disproportionately criminals, yes. Even Leavitt admits that, while hastening to reassure us that it's not a "black thing":

It is true that, on average, crime involvement in the U.S. is higher among blacks than whites. Importantly, however, once you control for income, the likelihood of growing up in a female-headed household, having a teenage mother, and how urban the environment is, the importance of race disappears for all crimes except homicide. (The homicide gap is partly explained by crack markets). In other words, for most crimes a white person and a black person who grow up next door to each other with similar incomes and the same family structure would be predicted to have the same crime involvement.

It was about ten years ago that Jesse Jackson made his comment about how guilty he felt when walking the streets at night to feel relieved when he discovered that the footsteps behind him were of a white person. Why? Does Jesse think "blacks are criminals"? Or does he think that they're more likely to be criminals?

Bennett is too intelligent not to understand why many of us would take his mental experiment as a glimpse behind the curtain -- an indication that old assumptions, now unspoken, still survive. He ought to understand how his words would be taken as validation by the rapper Kanye West, who told a television audience that "George Bush doesn't care about black people," or by the New Orleans survivors who keep calling me with theories of how "they" dynamited selected levees to flood the poor, black Lower Ninth Ward and save the wealthy French Quarter and Garden District.

I have a thought experiment of my own: If we put our racial baggage on the table and talk about it, we'll begin to take care of a lot of unfinished business.


Sigh. So now Bennett's responsible for validating the kooky theories of Kanye West and New Orleans survivors. And Robinson says he wants to talk about race; after the treatment Bennett has received, are there any whites who want to hold that "dialogue"?
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Monday, October 03, 2005
 
NFL Week Four

Although the Packers 0-4 start is obviously cause for concern, it's not as if they've slipped far behind. The Bears and the Lions lead the NFC North with identical 1-2 records. Home teams have still won 2/3rds of all games; last year it was about 57%. The average home field advantage has been 5.9 points per game; last year's was 2.5 points.

New England obviously slips quite a bit on their first home loss in over two years. The spreadsheet likes Cincinnati, Indianapolis and San Diego, but unlike last year the AFC is not dominating; AFC teams as a whole are one game under .500. The spreadsheet is unimpressed with 4-0 Tampa Bay, whose four opponents now have a combined record of 3-12, 3-8 when not facing the Bucs. The Redskins are 3-0 despite outscoring their opponents by a grand total of 6 points this season.

A good example of a game changing our opinion of several teams: San Francisco's pummeling by Arizona. San Francisco won their opener at home against St. Louis, but looked awful against Philly. Then they put up a game fight against Dallas. But in the wake of the fiasco in Mexico City, San Francisco stinks on ice, and Dallas looks poorer than we thought, handing the Raiders their first victory this season.

Better than their record: San Diego. Cleveland might not suck completely; ironically the spreadsheet likes their two losses (to Cincinnati and Indianapolis) better than their win (over Green Bay).

Eli Manning is taking a big step forward. After four games this season, the Giants have scored 136 points. In Manning's first four starts in 2004, the Giants managed a grand total of 37 points.
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Always Look for... the Liberal Label...

George Clooney, like all liberals, is sick and tired of something:

George Clooney is mad that liberal has become a dirty word.

"I'm going to keep saying 'liberal' as loud as I can and as often as I can," Clooney told Newsweek magazine in an interview about the film "Good Night, and Good Luck," which he co-wrote and directed.


:) You know what amuses me most about that? Democratic politicians are coming under increasing scrutiny by the Kossacks, looking to make sure that they continue to wear that liberal label proudly. Of course, that just makes them less likely to be elected. You think John Kerry and Hillary Clinton like pretending not to be liberals? Of course not. They'd much rather emblazon it across their chests, but polling shows that if they do that, they lose voters.
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Aaargh!

Just listening to 960 the Patriot and heard that they are going to have the Liddy & Hill Show starting at 4 PM, and they are putting Hugh Hewitt on from 3-4, then on tape delay from 7-9. Presumably when daylight savings (which we don't have in Arizona) ends, Hugh's entire show will run on tape delay from 7-10.

Stupid, stupid decision. Liddy and Hill were fine on KFYI, apparently they are being bumped to make room for Joe Crummy, whom I have only heard once or twice and don't remember what his times were. Hugh's show has been a delight to listen to on the way home from work. As far as I'm concerned, he's the star of Salem Radio; putting him on tape delay is a sad mistake.
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Shut Up, We're Trying to Smear Somebody

It's not often that the Left is this honest about being dishonest:

One of the reasons the left has such a difficult time moving public opinion is that, all too often, it reacts with cleverness to situations where outrage would be a more appropriate response. Bill Bennett yesterday offered left bloggers a golden opportunity to make political hay, and what do we have? The spectacle of them explaining his remarks away in order to prove ... what exactly? That they, too, studied Latin and philosophy?

This is not a terribly intelligent post. Taking the most obvious first, the only "Latin" required is the term reductio ad absurdum, which of course you could learn in any logic or debating class.

Brad DeLong, however, sees this as a great opportunity to defend Bennett for "attempting a reductio ad absurdum argument." I mean, what is the point of this other than to prove his own cleverness? Yglesias similarly takes Bennett's comments as an opportunity to assert that "the empirical claim here is unambiguously true."

Perhaps Brad DeLong sees this as a great opportunity not to hop on a lynch-mob bandwagon?

Um, really? I rather thought that there was no empirical claim here. Does Yglesias really believe that he knows what a world in which there were no more black children would be like? One could equally well argue, since we are in the realm of science fiction, that such an occurence would wreak psychological, cultural, and economic devastation on America's cities, with God only knows what impact on crime. Every major city would start to look like Detroit, depopulated and run-down where it had formerly been vibrant. Elementary schools would be the first to close, then high schools, then colleges. Tax bases would be wiped out. Whole swathes of the workforce would disappear, simultaneously depriving people of needed jobs and cities of employees to run necessary services. Who knows what would happen in such an environment -- it is really both unknowable and unthinkable.

But of course Bennett was not talking about any of these other effects, and he certainly wasn't suggesting that aborting all black babies was a fine idea; quite the opposite, in fact.

But I do have to agree with this part:

There has been a very weird backlash on the blogs against so-called civil-rights liberals in the past year, and, frankly, the more time I spend on the blogs, the less I know what liberalism still stands for, other than hating Bush and getting out of Iraq. There's a lot of talk of movement-building these days, but it's not at all clear to me what this new movement actually values.

Hat Tip: Jeff Goldstein, who has more on this topic.
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Brainster's In John Hawkins' Top 40

Hugh Hewitt once said that the folks on this list are those who influence the influential. I don't think you can go wrong with any of the blogs on this list and I'm a little humbled by inclusion here. Thanks, John!
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Miers Pick Not Getting Great Reviews

Power Line terms her a disappointment, while Right Wing News says she's another Souter.

Polipundit's Alexander McClure's a little more relaxed.

So President Bush has nominated Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. I cannot deny that I was initially quite disturbed by the news. This seems like a huge gamble. Miers may be a conservative, but it is by no means certain. If she turns out to be a liberal, I do not know if President Bush will politically recover. However, I doubt that President Bush would nominate her if she were anything but a conservative. He has known her for many years and probably knows where she stands on important issues.

Of course, the Senate races that year that will matter most for the GOP are in the Northeast (Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Maryland). In all these races, it will be crucial for the GOP candidate to win suburban, pro-choice moderates. If President Bush had picked a firebrand conservative, it might have spelled the end for Senator Santorum and would make the task facing State Senator Kean almost impossible.


Michelle Malkin is underwhelmed; her post also sums up a lot of other blogger reactions. Bulldog Pundit also offers a raspberry to the choice.
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Sunday, October 02, 2005
 
Great Read

On Bill Buckley's quixotic quest to become the Mayor of New York in 1965.
0 comments links to this post
 
Sean Penn's Butt Gets Bussed

This is a rather silly suck-up.

It's doubtful that many celebrities think they're going to change people's minds by what they say about issues. They're just using their ability to draw media coverage to get the ideas out there. Penn couldn't have imagined his open letter to Bush would change the President's mind, but with leading Democrats failing to speak up for an anti-war view shared then by about 40% of Americans, he at least brought attention to it.

It was an act of patriotism that some called treason, and for that and Katrina and all the rest, I say to Penn, you have my respect, man.


Get a hotel room!
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Big Steyn of Lager

He gets out a big stick and whacks the media with it:

Er, no. The facts they put in front of us were wrong, and they didn't talk truth to power. They talked to goofs in power, like New Orleans' Mayor Nagin and Police Chief Compass, and uncritically fell for every nutso yarn they were peddled. The media swallowed more bilge than if they'd been lying down with their mouths open as the levee collapsed. Ten thousand dead! Widespread rape and murder! A 7-year-old gang-raped and then throat-slashed! It was great stuff -- and none of it happened. No gang-raped 7-year-olds. None.

I blogged it because it was being reported in the media. But the reported rapes of 7-year-old girls really was where alarm bells should have been going off in my head. It's not that those things don't happen, but they are, fortunately, extremely rare, and they tend not to be gang-related, for the simple reason that almost all gangs would kill any of their members who tried to rape a 7-year-old girl.

Most of the media are still in Dan mode, sucking up their guts and congratulating themselves about what a swell job they did during Katrina. CNN producers were advising their guests to "be angry," and there was so much to get angry about, not least the fact that no matter how angry you got on air Anderson Cooper was always much better at it. And Mayor Nagin as well. To show he was angry, he said "frickin'" all the frickin' time so that by the end of a typical Nagin soundbite you felt as if you'd been gang-fricked. "That frickin' Superdome," he raged. "Five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people."

But nobody got killed by a hooligan in the Superdome. The problem wasn't rape and murder, but the rather more prosaic lack of bathroom facilities. As Ben Stein put it, it was the media that rioted. They grabbed every lurid rumor and took it for a wild joyride across prime time. There was a real story in there -- big hurricane, people dead -- but it wasn't enough, and certainly not for damaging President Bush.


You know what is really required here? The media pushed for an independent inquiry into the response to Katrina. How about if we bloggers push for an independent inquiry into where the media went wrong on the response to Katrina? Indeed, we don't have to ask for it, we can simply start it ourselves.

We have a huge database of stories that were filed on this, many with fascinating details, that we now know were not true. Let's start sifting through the stories and finding where the weak links are.

For instance, here, to me is a crucial story in terms of keeping the myth of rape and murder at the Superdome alive. It was published on September 6, 2005. Earlier that same day both Matt Welch and Michelle Malkin questioned whether the reports were accurate.

But later that day Hugh Hewitt read from the Brian Thevenot article linked above. After reading it myself, I figured that at this point there could be no doubt that the worst stories were true.

Arkansas National Guardsman Mikel Brooks stepped through the food service entrance of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center Monday, flipped on the light at the end of his machine gun, and started pointing out bodies.

"Don't step in that blood - it's contaminated," he said. "That one with his arm sticking up in the air, he's an old man." Then he shined the light on the smaller human figure under the white sheet next to the elderly man.

"That's a kid," he said. "There's another one in the freezer, a 7-year-old with her throat cut."


Okay obvious question for Thevenot: Did he personally meet with Mikel Brooks? Because the way the story reads, it certainly sounds as if Thevenot was there. Maybe we can forgive him for not checking the one in the freezer, but what about the "smaller human figure under the white sheet"? And Brooks needs to be questioned too, to determine what he remembers from his conversations with the reporter.
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