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Saturday, October 15, 2005
Iraqi Soldiers Vote

Not a Thatcher Fan

Says Norm Johnson of the Guardian:

We all owe her a great blah, blah, blah, so let's all sing happy birthday to the nicest, kindest octogenarian fascist currently drooling outside Brazil. Well, as I said to the nice lady on Newsnight this week, that argument is one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. I'll go further: I'll punch the guy who says he hates Thatch more than me. If anything, I hate her more viscerally today, from the top of her mad, shrunken old bonce to the tip of her gnarly toes, than I did 20 years ago. You want my real thoughts on Thatch? Unprintable. Suffice it to say my principal concern as she shuffles towards the grave is how best we can dispose of her body, to avoid it contaminating the earth for 10,000 years. Maybe they'd have it in Australia, with our nuclear waste.

Amusingly, though, he's solid on the war, and admits that perhaps old Maggie did accomplish a few things:

So, yes, the unions were sorted on her watch. And I say that as someone whose big toe has never been the same since Wapping. Ditto the cold war. There was respect for the transatlantic alliance. Caution on Europe. The economy, stupid. Council houses for sale. Shaking up the teachers. A national curriculum. League tables. Rail privatisation. De-fetishisation of the green belt. The foundations for PFI. Concern for the daytime-TV-watching classes. Full prisons. Contracting out. Rupert Murdoch.

It just goes to show that some people can never reexamine their past and conclude that they were indeed wrong.
NFL Power Ratings after Week 5

Something of an oddball season so far, as no team really seems dominant. Indianapolis, one of the most potent offenses of all time last year was saddled with a below-average defense. This year their defense looks amazing and the offense seems pedestrian. If Cleveland's ranking surprises, consider that their two losses come at the hands of Indianapolois and Cincinnati, two teams that are at the top of everybody's charts.

Ind 111.5
Cin 109.9
SD 109.7
Cle 107.9
Pit 107.9
TB 104.7
Den 103.9
Jax 103.8
Was 103.3
NE 103.3
GB 103.2
NYG 103.0
Chi 102.6
Atl 102.5
Phi 102.5
Sea 102.1
Dal 102.0
KC 101.3
Mia 100.4
Oak 98.4
Car 98.3
Ten 96.5
Det 95.4
NYJ 95.1
StL 94.9
Buf 93.9
Bal 93.5
AZ 92.8
Min 91.0
NO 89.5
Hou 87.7
SF 85.8
Friday, October 14, 2005
The Phony Left

David Gelernter tackles that subject today:

But our public life is so deeply phony that, although a few stalwarts defended [Bill Bennett], no one pointed out the gross hypocrisy of his accusers. (No one I've heard, anyway.) Those accusers knew perfectly well that he was not promoting a racist view of American life, he was denouncing a racist view — loudly and clearly, without a shadow of ambiguity.

What part of "impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible" did they not understand?

There seems to be a desire to play "gotcha" even when they haven't "got" anything. A couple of months ago, I caught one of the larger blogs on the Left, Crooks and Liars, Dowdifying a Michelle Malkin quote. They claimed an exchange had gone as follows:

Bill: I think Mrs. Sheehan bears some responsibility for this [publicity] and also for the responsibility for the other American families who lost sons and daughters in Iraq who feel this kind of behavior borders on treasonous.

Michelle: I can't imagine that Casey Sheehan would approve of such behavior.

In fact, O'Reilly had about 3 more paragraphs before Mrs Malkin responded, and there was a paragraph or two that she said, including a discussion of Michael Moore's support for the troops, which was the behavior that she was saying Casey Sheehan would not have approved.

The simple conclusion is that they don't care about telling the truth (perhaps the blog name "Crooks & Liars" should have been a clue). They just want to score some points.
This Would Be Entertaining

Jerome Corsi, who co-wrote with John O'Neill the book Unfit for Command, is talking about running against John Kerry in 2008. Of course, there is more than an even possibility that Kerry will decide to step down from the Senate in order to campaign for the presidency. And Corsi really doesn't stand a chance of winning as a Republican in Massachusetts.

While we're on the topic of novelty candidates, here's an article that speculates that Warren Beatty or Rob Reiner could take on Arnold next year.

Note the liberal media bias in this excerpt from that piece:

Rob Reiner has joined the growing act, siding with nurses, teachers and firefighters in opposing one Schwarzenegger-backed measure that would restrict political spending by public-sector unions.

No, Reiner is siding with nurses' unions, teachers' unions and firefighters' unions. Nurses, teachers and firefighters probably back Schwarzenegger.
Extreme Makeover--The Blog Edition

The Nose on Your Face has a new look. Check out Buckley's nine proposed titles for the next Ann Coulter book.

Flopping Aces has had a face lift and moved to a new location.
Environmental Hypocrisy, Thy Name is Kennedy

One of Bobby's sons (Max) is quite the environmentalist, but, of course, only with other people's property:

Kennedy is also currently in violation of wetlands protection laws for a pier he built off the back of his Maywood Avenue home. Karle said Kennedy constructed the pier without first submitting the proper paperwork, and that lights on the end of the dock are in violation.

John Ruberry pointed me (in an email) to this transcript of an interview between Bobby Kennedy and Sean Hannity where the former declined to pledge not to use private jets to travel to his environmental conferences. Looks like hypocrisy runs in the family (shocking, I know).
The Hawk and the Perle

John Hawkins has a must-read interview with Richard Perle on the future of Iraq.

Clearly there is still a capacity on the part of people who were once part of Saddam's regime and holy warriors from outside who have come to join them to detonate roadside bombs -- and using suicidal techniques cause a lot of damage -- and that's very unfortunate, but they're not making any headway politically, at least not in Iraq and one hopes they won't make any political headway here.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Cactus Blogging

Here's a terrific spiral cactus from my front yard:

The flowers come out every 6 months or so and they only bloom for one night. I thought this one might bloom tonight, but it hasn't happened, so I'll be looking over the weekend. Within a day after blooming the flower turns completely black and shrivels up like Al Franken exposed to the truth, except that he doesn't turn black.

Fortunately as you can see if you look closely (like, click on the photo) there are two more blooms coming in the next few days:

Survivor Guatamala Update

Well, despite my confident prediction last week that they would reform the original tribes, they didn't and none of the players apparently started playing the game out in his or her mind.

The real key to the show comes fairly early, with Brian talking about how he's a blue-stater all the way, and he's not used to hanging out with the these kinds of people at all, but that he shuts his mouth and prays along with the rest of Yaxha. It's interesting to see overt mentions of religion on reality TV; looks like they've figured out that it helps them rather than hurt them. I first watched Survivor during the Outback (second season) and you could tell by the undercurrent that the one tribe was religious and the other wasn't.

There was an entertaining reward challenge today for margaritas and chips and guacamole, and, best of all, a crocodile-proof swimming area. The teams had to cut through a rope with a piece of stone, the way the Mayans did (rolling my eyes here). Then they were to machete through a piece of wood and then cut a rope with the machete the way the Mayans did (after the Spanish introduced them to the concept of metal blades). Then they had to turn a wheel to haul a cart up to the top of a hill. Once there, they were able to ride the cart back down the hill to the finish line.

Brandon, the farmer, made short work of the rope with his stone, while Jamie struggled. Then Bobby Jon whacked the heck out of the machete through the wood, while Jamie struggled. Then the rest of the Yaxha team hauled the cart up to the top and took their ride, while Jamie struggled. And as they finished, Jamie managed to cut through the last strand.

Steph bitches and moans a bit about always being on the tribe that's losing. We've noticed. She also notes how much she hates seeing Bobby Jon winning. I'm suspecting that they may try and pull a Ruppert here by giving a "most popular" member of Survivor so they can give Steph some dough. But what if Bobby Jon outperforms her?

Meanwhile, we finally get an introduction to Blake the jerk. Braggin' on the size of his girlfriends boobs with a story for everything and Brian egging him on. Not very art-smay, ake-Blay! And in Yaxha, fishmonger Lydia starts doing the psycho song and dance routine, apparently unaware that singers get voted off at tribal council or even before.

The immunity challenge is the old Mayan sport of catapulting objects into the air and catching them with three-sided nets. Kinda goofy and the strategy (shooting the catpults as close to your team as possible is obvious. But the Nukum manage to steal one more than the Yaxha and so the latter go to council. Lydia is arguably a hero by doing a better job of shooting the catapult than Brian.

Now, obvious assumption is that the former Nukum members, who outnumber the former Yaxha, vote off the latter. But Blake really is a jerk and in the end Danni votes him off. Interestingly, this is the second week in a row that members of the original team have purportedly stabbed a former teammate in the back, but I suspect that Danni won't get the snake treatment next week from Mark Burnett.

As noted earlier, the key was the difference between Brian and Blake. Although Brian seems a little fey, he's much more respectful of people's sensibilities than Blake. Danni did not mention religion in discussing her vote but I would not be surprised to hear that it was a factor. It is refreshing to hear at this point in the game people voting off somebody because he or she doesn't deserve the money, rather than the old "he's a threat!" crap. Plenty of time for that after the merge.

The pawns on this game have been carefully chosen. I would not be surprised if Burnett and Company haven't got villain footage in the can for every player. Today's villain was clearly Blake and he got the axe. Our big villain is Judd, so he will remain in the game until late.
The Ant and the Grasshopper

Updated for the modern nanny state by Pam Meister.
They've Got High Apple Pie In the Sky Hopes

The Democrats, that is.

The party remains deeply divided on issues ranging from the war in Iraq and government spending to hot-button cultural issues. But Democrats are uniting around a common theme for the 2006 elections, one cribbed from their rivals' playbook: an end to the majority party's "culture of corruption."

Yes, that seems to be their one-size-fits-all prescription.

In the wake of indictments of House majority leader Tom DeLay and reports of an SEC investigation into possible insider trading by Senate majority leader Bill Frist, Democrats are also accelerating plans to set forth their own version of a "Contract With America."

This month, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven opted out of races to challenge incumbent Democratic senators. Political analysts say it's a sign that promising GOP candidates are reluctant to jump into races in a year that could be defined by an anticorruption backlash against Republicans.

Sigh. Yeah, Tom Delay's indictment is really going to convince everybody that Republicans are corrupt.
Plame it on Rove

And his miraculous weather machine.
Air America Update: Morning Sedition Axed in Minnesota

The Leather Penguin has the details.
Yes, Republicans Are the Stupid Party

Here's a pretty good example of why.
Kerry Seals Up the Drunken Lecher Demographic

Teddy Kennedy announces that he will support Kerry over Hillary.

And why shouldn't Kennedy support Kerry? After all, the junior senator from Massachusetts exercises Teddy's dog "Splash" for him.

Captain Ed has more.

Let me add here that I consider Kerry generally a non-starter for the Democrats in 2008, even though he'd be a strong candidate in the general election. The problem is that he's not going to succeed with his own party due to their disappointment at not winning in 2004. They all thought Kerry would win because everybody hated Bush. So they are not going to be interested in the truth, which is that Kerry must have run a good race, because he got the second most votes in the history of the country.
Great Interview

With Mary Jane McManus, the wife of former Vietnam POW Kevin McManus. Mrs McManus was featured prominently in the anti-Kerry film, Stolen Honor, and appeared in one of the later Swift Boat Vets ads.

Does anyone honestly believe that American soldiers committed 200,000 "murders a year" in Vietnam? Or that official policy ("at every level of command") allowed any GI to "rape, cut off ears, cut off heads, tape wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turn up the power, cut off limbs, blow up bodies, randomly shoot at civilians, raze villages in a fashion reminiscent of Ghenghis Khan"? John Kerry got away with that statement (his verbs were in the past tense), was elected to Congress & the Senate, and ran for President. No one questioned his free speech rights.

Nor do we. But we do question the accuracy of his and others' statements.

We believe our members earned the right to contest that testimony by taking bullets and taking torture. Unfortunately they weren't here to combat Kerry's testimony; most of them were in cement cells they wouldn't leave for another nearly two years.

Next, we can cover the issue of facts as distinguished from opinion or falsehoods:

The January 1971 "Winter Soldier" investigation in Detroit, financed by Jane Fonda brought some 120 Vietnam Veterans against the War, including a then-Lt. (jg) Kerry, to report (and film) recollections of the atrocities and war crimes they had themselves witnessed or committed. Part of that film was shown in Stolen Honor. (And the whole film, "Winter Soldier," released in August of this year, is now making the rounds at art theatres throughout the country, accompanied frequently by some of its stars who moderate a discussion afterwards.) Not one "testimony" has yet been proved; not one "testimony" was under oath. Several testimonies, as well as several "veterans," however, have been proven false. Their leader, a man claiming to be an Air Force Captain and pilot in Vietnam, turned out to be (as documented on Meet the Press in 1971) not a pilot, not a captain, not an officer, never in Vietnam. And he wasn't alone in such deception.

(Minor correction: Kerry was never elected to Congress; he lost in a primary caucus in 1970 and was defeated in the general election in 1972).

Mrs McManus and the wife of another POW were the shining stars of Stolen Honor. She's an absolute treasure and has some interesting and terrific observations. Highly recommended.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Fineman Sights the Conservative Crackup--Updated!

Today's column:

President George W. Bush may have no military exit strategy for Iraq, but the “necons” who convinced him to go to war there have developed one of their own—a political one: Blame the Administration.

Their neo-Wilsonian theory is correct, they insist, but the execution was botched by a Bush team that has turned out to be incompetent, crony-filled, corrupt, unimaginative and weak over a wide range of issues.

The flight of the neocons—just read a recent Weekly Standard to see what I am talking about —is one of only many indications that the long-predicted “conservative crackup” is at hand.

I always roll my eyes whenever a liberal commentator mentions "neocons", because he usually has no idea what the term means. Fineman does, of course, but here he uses it in that lazy, "conservatives who supported the war in Iraq" way that Air America Radio hosts do.

The funniest part is when he describes why the various parts of the Republican base are supposedly deserting:

Religious conservatives
The Harriet Miers nomination was the final insult. Religious conservatives have an inferiority complex in the Republican Party. In an interesting way, it’s the same attitude that many African-Americans have had toward the Democratic Party over the years. They think that the Big Boys want their votes but not their presence or their full participation.

And what really frosts the religious types is that Bush evidently feels that he can only satisfy them by stealth—by nominating someone with absolutely no paper trail. It’s an affront. And even though Dr. Dobson is on board—having been cajoled aboard by Rove—I don’t sense that there is much enthusiasm for the enterprise out in Colorado Springs.

I expect that any GOP 2008 hopeful who wants evangelical support—people like Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum and maybe even George Allen—will vote against Miers's confirmation in the Senate.

Yeah, the theocons like the Commissar and Instapundit are deserting over the Miers nomination, while secular humanists like Dobson and Hugh Hewitt are supporting Miers. Errrr!

Corporate CEOs
For them, Bush’s handling of Katrina was, and remains, a mortal embarrassment to their class, which Bush is supposed to have represented—at least to some extent.

The vivid images from the Superdome were just too much for these folks. Recently, a prominent Republican businessman, whom I saw in a typical CEO haunt, astonished me with the severity of his attacks on Bush’s competence. And Bush had appointed this guy to a major position! Amazing.

Amazing that this typical CEO fell for the MSM's portrayal of Katrina.

An old term, but still applicable. With the fall of Communism in Europe and Russia, the old anti-Communist wing of the conservative movement lost its role. Now the isolationists of old are back, and with a new crusade: immigration.

The relatively unchecked flood of illegal immigrants into this country is indeed a legitimate cause for alarm. But in the eyes of this crowd—one leader is my MSNBC colleague, Pat Buchanan—the Bush Administration is doing nothing.

LOL! Pat Buchanan? Whom does he lead? Not saying that the criticism isn't valid, but Buchanan's a nobody with zero influence these days.

They think that the Middle East can be remade, and this country made safe, by instilling a semblance of democracy in the Fertile Crescent and beyond. But they seem to have given up on the ability of the Bush Administration to see that vision through.

They want more troops, not fewer; more money, not less; more passion, not the whispered talk of timetables for withdrawal.

Fortunately the whispered talk of timetables for withdrawal is coming from the chuckleheads on the Left, not from the Bush Administration.

Fineman's generally a good commentator. But he's sleepwalking his way through this ridiculous analysis.

Update: Just for the heck of it, I went surfing around to some of my favorite God-Bloggers. For the most part I found indifference to Myers.

La Shawn Barber: I’m having trouble generating enough interest to write about the Supreme Court nominations. I honestly couldn’t care less that George Bush picked yet another crony for an important job, a lifetime appointment that could overhaul the foundation of our social policy for the better. Or the worst.

The Stones Cry Out is a group blog. They don't like the pick, but there's a range of opinion there that does not appear to include a lot of outrage.

Christian Conservative has not blogged on the topic.

In fact, it's my opinion that the one thing that characterizes those in opposition is that they are Meritocrats (not knocking them, just describing them). Most of the argument seems to be that she's not qualified, which is certainly a fair consideration. But it hardly seems likely to be the top consideration of the God-squadders.

Power Line's John Hinderaker has a very similar take.
Luck Isn't the Word for It

Here's the blog entry of the guy who not only caught Lance Berkman's grand slam in the Astro's clinching game against the Atlanta Braves, but then went on to catch the game winning homer by Chris Burke. Good thing he didn't get a Powerball ticket that night or my ticket for tonight's drawing wouldn't be the big winner.
Remember the Cole

Michelle Malkin notes that this is the fifth anniversary of the bombing of the USS Cole.

Here is a list of the 17 sailors who died that day:

* Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter, 21, of Mechanicsville, Virginia.
* Electronics Technician Chief Petty Officer Richard Costelow, 35, of Morrisville, Pennsylvania.
* Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis, 19, of Woodleaf, North Carolina
* Information Systems Technician Seaman Timothy Lee Gauna, 21, of Rice, Texas
* Signalman Seaman Cherone Louis Gunn, 22, of Rex, Georgia
* Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels, 19, of Norfolk, Virginia
* Engineman 2nd Class Marc Ian Nieto, 24, of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin
* Electronics Warfare Technician 2nd Class Ronald Scott Owens, 24, of Vero Beach, Florida
* Seaman Lakiba Nicole Palmer, 22, of San Diego, California
* Engineman Fireman Joshua Langdon Parlett, 19, of Churchville, Maryland
* Fireman Patrick Howard Roy, 19, of Cornwall on Hudson, New York
* Electronics Warfare Technician 1st Class Kevin Shawn Rux, 30, of Portland, North Dakota
* Mess Management Specialist 3rd Class Ronchester Manangan Santiago, 22, Kingsville, Texas
* Operations Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Lamont Saunders, 32, of Ringgold, Virginia
* Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis Jr., 26, Rockport, Texas
* Ensign Andrew Triplett, 31, of Macon, Mississippi
* Seaman Craig Bryan Wibberley, 19, of Williamsport, Maryland

Here's a terrific page on the Cole with lots of information. Did you know that the Cole was named after Medal of Honor recipient Marine Sgt. Darrell S. Cole who died on Iwo Jima? Here's a good bio of Sgt. Cole, by a nephew.
More Bad Defense of Miers

I agree with the Ankle-Biters; this is pathetic.

Article 6, Clause 3 of the Constitution:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

BTW, those who might oppose Miers because of her religion are just as bad. It should not be a factor either way.

Update: A much better defense of Miers can be found here. I do wonder at those expressing great admiration for the Thomas pick fiercely opposing Miers.
Strange Bedfellows: Laura Bush and Bonnie Erbe?

Had a chuckle at this column.

Would these guys have felt as sanguine about rattling Miers' credentials if she were a man? No. Why? Because as far back as this administration has shoved so many progressive causes, none comes close to the damage the president has done to women's advancement. Of course, his clones feel comfortable publicly berating a woman's credentials, from intellect, to resume to conservative commitment. Sexism is once again cool.

The sexism charge is ridiculous; everybody knows that if the choice had been Brown, or Owens that all the Republicans decrying Miers would have been thrilled.

Of course, at the same time, Erbe is really on the opposite side of the Miers' nomination.
Why Iraq Can't Be Vietnam

Because if we let it happen, future terrorists will learn a lesson from it.

In a letter to his top deputy in Iraq, Al Qaeda's No. 2 leader said the United States "ran and left their agents" in Vietnam and the jihadists must have a plan ready to fill the void if the Americans suddenly leave Iraq.

"Things may develop faster than we imagine," Aymen al-Zawahiri (search) wrote in a letter to his top deputy in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search). "The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam — and how they ran and left their agents — is noteworthy. ... We must be ready starting now."

The comparisons to Vietnam have been rather upsetting to me. Like many in the blogosphere, including Neo-neocon and the guys at Power Line, I came of age during the war in Southeast Asia. My parents were active in the antiwar movement, working on both the McCarthy 1968 and McGovern 1972 campaigns. I chipped in (mostly stuffing envelopes and distributing fliers from door-to-door), and became radicalized while watching the images of the Chicago convention.

But unlike a lot of the 1960s' folk, I have always been willing to reexamine things I did as a youth in light of later experience, and fresh information. As a youngster I believed it when anitwar leaders said that the Vietnamese people didn't really care which side won, they just wanted the war to end. But the million or so boat people who fled the communists convinced me that was not the case. The communists claimed that they would improve the lives of the people, but as time went by it became clear that this was not happening. And the horrors of the reeducation camps and the killing fields in Cambodia showed that the pro-war folks were right when they said that the enemies we faced over there were evil.

And I began to see that many of the other antiwar folks were not willing to reexamine things in the light of later knowledge. Some were simply unable to question what had been such a defining moment in their lives, and I can sympathize with them. It isn't easy to conclude you were fooled about something in which you believed passionately.

As a result, I have been particularly harsh towards those who did the fooling. I am willing to forgive the leaders of the antiwar movement who have seen the error of their ways, like David Horowitz and Peter Collier. I am willing to forgive Mark Rudd of SDS, who apparently is a math teacher in New Mexico and thoroughly embarrassed by his past radicalism.

But those who continue to dupe others, like Tom Hayden, Jane Fonda, Todd Gitlin, and John Kerry? Un-uh. They've got to be opposed with everything we've got. This was a big part of why I started the Kerry Haters blog. I now knew Kerry was a scuzzball, and I was determined that everybody else should learn it.

And it was through KH that I learned something new. We began to attract many Vietnam veterans as readers, and they sent me emails and posted comments. And the one common thread that I began hearing was concern for their South Vietnamese friends and allies. What happened to the young soldiers they had trained and fought alongside? What happened to the girls in the bar, the government officials, the local police? Had they drowned like thousands of others, in the mass exodus of the boat people? Had they died in a "re-education" camp?

Watching the antiwar movement this time around, I feel like Marty McFly from Back to the Future. I've seen this movie before and I don't like the way it turned out. I recognize now that many of the people in charge of this movement are just like the folks in charge of the 1960s movement. Some are dupes and some are malevolent. And sadly, they want the same thing that their predecessors wanted; an end to US involvement.

But what would be the result of Cindy Sheehan's fondest wish, an immediate withdrawal? Much the same things that happened in Vietnam--a purge of all those who cooperated with the US. Perhaps mercifully, the followers of radical Islam do not believe in re-education camps; decapitation obviates the need.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Why I Love Lucianne.Com!

First of all, a link to this terrific article about a group of bikers disrupting a protest group from picketing the funeral of a US soldier killed in Iraq. This was not the anti-war protest group, but the Fred Phelps "God Hates Fags" church.

American Legion Riders' member Cregg Hanson said Doles' family asked the group to rev their motorcycle engines when the Kansas church group arrived.

The riders also formed a barrier and waved American flags to block the view of the protest.

About 40 police officers were also on hand and Chelsea residents joined the motorcycle riders in waving American flags.

Then in the comments on the post at Lucianne, somebody mentioned that the Reverend Fred Phelps was a good friend of none other than Al and Tipper Gore. L-Dotter Agrimensor pointed us to the Log Cabin Republicans site, which has photographic proof.
The Amazing Race Family Edition Part III--Lost in Space

Something of a disappointing episode overall. This is only my second season of watching the show, but I've already got some clear ideas of what I don't like, and this episode had several bits that were less appetizing than the usual fare:

1. I don't artificial means to join and/or separate the teams. As usual, the mechanism to join the eight teams was an airport. I understand the purpose, but it seems to me that it detracts from the "race" aspect. Runners don't run a half-marathon, then have to wait for everybody to catch up before starting the second leg. Then the mystery bus trip, where the fifth through eighth teams were forced to wait for a second bus two hours later, artificially separated them.

2. I don't like detours where it turns out in the end that one choice was obviously best. This week it was quite clear that the shrimp de-heading option (which was my choice) turned out better for all teams taking it. The fact that the Gaghan family zipped through the mud bog in one try (apparently) and yet fell further behind stunk. The tedious test should be longer than the skill test performed well; tonight it wasn't.

3. I especially didn't like the road block because of the lack of challenge. The teams entered and exited the road block (a 3.2 times gravity simulator) and stepped onto the mat at the end in the exact same order, so really the only challenge was getting to the clue box off the mystery bus trip. Nobody wimped out on the simulator.

I didn't see the first team's starting time, but the second team got underway at 2:27, while the last team started at 3:08, so the time gap was only 41 minutes from second to eighth, and much, much less than that to 7th, which was more like 11 minutes apart.

Cool scenery, especially in Huntsville by the Space Center. I just wish they had found something better to do there. The Paolo family continues to amuse with their incessant bickering; it was nice to see the mom teasing her boys a little bit on the shrimp boat. The other Italian family, the Aiello's, arrived last and were Phil-iminated. Team Widow got quite frazzled on the bus ride, which I confess I don't quite understand. Anybody think the Waffle House stop was a bit of product placement? And the winning team (the out-of-shape dad and his three daughters) got free gas for life from Arco or BP. I'll admit I don't have a clue where the nearest Arco station is; we don't have BP here in Arizona as far as I know. But I guess I'd find out pretty quickly! ;)

Eric at Viking Pundit has his usual well-structured rundown of the episode here. Kris at Dummocrats has some observations that mentally registered but that I forgot to include in my summary, like the very obvious fact that Team Widow is rapidly becoming despised by their fellow contestants.
Moonbat Study

George Monbiot, who I believe is the inspiration for the term "Moonbat", has an article on how religion is bad for society. He cites quite a bit from this study.

First, Monbiot, citing from the study:

"In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy, and abortion ... None of the strongly secularised, pro-evolution democracies is experiencing high levels of measurable dysfunction." Within the US, "the strongly theistic, anti-evolution south and midwest" have "markedly worse homicide, mortality, STD, youth pregnancy, marital and related problems than the north-east where ... secularisation, and acceptance of evolution approach European norms".

But when you go to the study itself, appetizingly entitled "Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies", you quickly find out that basically what the study author has done is to compare Europe to America in certain statistics (life expectancy, murder rate, etc.,) where it is commonly known that Europe is "better". Then he points out that the USA is more religious than Europe, ergo the differences must be attributable to religion. Oh, he does drag in one or two other religious countries (notably Ireland and Portugal) occasionally to provide some bulk, but it's not hard to see the anti-religious bias in this passage:

[4] Although its proponents often claim that anti-evolution creationism<1> is scientific, it has abjectly failed in the practical realms of mainstream science and hi-tech industry (Ayala et al.; Crews; Cziko; Dawkins, 1996, 1997; Dennett; Gould; Koza et al.; L. Lane; Miller; Paul and Cox; Shanks; Wise; Young and Edis). The continuing popularity of creationism in America indicates that it is in reality a theistic social-political movement partly driven by concerns over the societal consequences of disbelief in a creator (Forrest and Gross; Numbers).

Why does he bring the evolution/creationism debate into this study? It certainly appears tangential at best; the only thing I can think of is that it's a convenient club to bash the religious with.

Let's think of some other ways that Europe is different than America. For starters, their economies suck in terms of generating new jobs. So we could say that atheism/agnosticism/belief in evolution leads to a dearth of new jobs. Or Europeans like soccer much better than we do; clearly while there are no atheists in foxholes, they are disproportionately represented in soccer stadia.

Silly? Of course it's silly, but no sillier than the arguments that the study's author and Monbiot make.

The rich countries in which sexual abstinence campaigns, generally inspired by religious belief, are strongest have the highest early pregnancy rates. The US is the only rich nation with teenage pregnancy levels comparable to those of developing nations: it has a worse record than India, the Philippines and Rwanda. Because they're poorly educated about sex and in denial about what they're doing (and so less likely to use contraceptives), boys who participate in abstinence programmes are more likely to get their partners pregnant than those who don't.

There's a tempting logic to this, but of course it ignores history completely. Teenage pregnancy rates soared in the United States immediately after sex education became commonplace in the 1960s.

And murder rates? Can anybody explain to me how religion affects murder rates? It arguably should keep them down (by providing an additional disincentive). But even if we decide it doesn't keep them down, why should it increase them? The only possible reason would be if murders were frequently based on religion, but that doesn't happen here. It's similar with longevity and infant mortality; why should the level of religous belief in a society reduce the former and increase the latter?

Other bloggers: Terrific debunking of both the Monbiot column and the original study here.

Also read this, linked by the blog above.

An enterprising blogger named John Williams at Thudfactor went so far as to e-mail the Journal of Religion and Society to ask if they had any further information about Mr Paul’s experience and credentials. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but still I was astonished to read that the JRS knows nothing about this fellow--except that the e-mail address he provided to the journal is no longer in service. (Didn’t they even get a mailing address from this guy?) Mr Williams also links to a Wikipedia entry on one Gregory S. Paul that describes him as a freelance paleontologist, author and illustrator who is best known for his work and research on theropod dinosaurs . . .

Freelance paleontologist?
He Reluctantly Supports the "We Support the Troops" Ribbons

Very reluctantly. Be sure to read some of the comments at the end of the post; in many ways they are almost as pathetic as this:

If I really wanted to push the envelope further, I automatically assumed vehicles with both "Support Our Troops" ribbons and fish-stickers belonged to those who were not necessarily only reptilian-brained, fear-driven folks, but those who believed in a 7,000-year-old earth and that abortion is murder.
The Evil Empire Defeated

Forgot to mention this last night. The best thing about the Yankees losing is that already folks are lining up to blame the Bronx Bombers' best player as the goat. Love it!
Okay, So Maybe She's Not In That Much Trouble

The Gang of 14 has preliminarily approved Myers.

It will be difficult for these conservative senators to generate enough opposition to defeat Miers’s nomination, even if they forge alliances with liberal colleagues such as Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) or Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.). The Gang of 14’s support of Miers makes the prospect of defeating Miers even more unlikely.

This does create the potential of some odd bedfellows. The Kos Kids, whose motto is oppose Bush at every turn, in the same boat with John Fund and George Will? Who knows; we saw Pat Buchanan join the anti-war cause two years ago.
Let's Hope This Doesn't Happen

Captain Ed looks at the numbers:

If 27 Republicans team up with 34 Democrats, not only will Miers win confirmation but also could stop any filibuster. Half of the Democrats voted for John Roberts, a choice with which they clearly were unhappy. This confirmation will only get stopped by a withdrawal or badly-botched testimony at the Judiciary Committee hearings -- both of which would severely damage the GOP and George Bush.

Ye gods, that's a gloomy scenario! Let's hope that we don't need a coalition with the Democrats to fend off a (largely) Republican filibuster. Believe me, if Myers loses 28-27 among Republicans, we GOPers all lose, and much more than we'd lose if her nomination were withdrawn.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Some Bad Advice that Kerry Won't Take

Richard Doak suggests that he sue the Swiftees:

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was the group that, among other charges, asserted that Kerry did not deserve the combat medals he was awarded by the Navy in Vietnam. The available evidence indicated the Swift Boat assertions were false.

For a public figure to win a libel suit, however, it is not sufficient to establish that the statements were false. The plaintiff must be able to prove that the statements were published with "actual malice." That is, the Swift Boat Veterans must have known the information was false or published it with reckless disregard for whether it was true or false.

Kerry would have a heavy burden of proof if he decided to sue, but he might be able to show at least a reckless disregard, perhaps even knowing falsehood. Statements made by some in the group apparently differed from statements they had made in the past.

Nobody looked closer at the Swift Boat Vets said last year than I did; you can tell with the little weasel words ("available evidence" and "apparently differed") that Doak didn't. Kerry doesn't have a prayer of winning a trial for libel. The fact is the Swiftees caught Kerry in ten lies for every error they made (Correction per Tom the RiverRat: For every conclusion that the Swiftees reached that is still unproven by the historical record). And in any libel trial, the first thing any defense lawyer would petition for is the complete Naval record of the Boston Strangler. We know the extraordinary lengths Kerry went to avoid having those released.

Kerry also probably could prove that the Swift Boat campaign cost him votes and possibly the election, bolstering the case for stiff punitive damages.

Sigh. Let me guess, Doak does not suggest that President Bush sue CBS News and 60 Minutes?

John O'Neill and the Swiftees are praying that John Kerry will be stupid enough to sue them. There's a reason why Susan Estrich discovered that the Kerry Campaign had no "talking points" on these issues; it's because what they said was substantially true, from Christmas in Cambodia to Where Was Rassmann.
Viagra Helps Endangered Species

Uh, but not in that way.
Something about Harriet

(Crossposted to Lifelike)

John Fund's column in the Wall Street Journal today makes me think that Harriet Miers' nomination is doomed. It's one thing when bloggers and pundits come out against her; it's quite another when one as influential and well-known as Fund changes his mind.

I have changed my mind about Harriet Miers. Last Thursday, I wrote in OpinionJournal's Political Diary that "while skepticism of Ms. Miers is justified, the time is fast approaching when such expressions should be muted until the Senate hearings begin. At that point, Ms. Miers will finally be able to speak for herself."

But that was before I interviewed more than a dozen of her friends and colleagues along with political players in Texas. I came away convinced that questions about Ms. Miers should be raised now--and loudly--because she has spent her entire life avoiding giving a clear picture of herself. "She is unrevealing to the point that it's an obsession," says one of her close colleagues at her law firm.

Fund was on the Hugh Hewitt program today to discuss the column. As you can imagine, the conversation was lively and interesting. I definitely felt Hugh had the better of the argument, but Fund made terrific points as well. The part that scared me is that as he closed, Fund mentioned that there are several stories brewing about Miers' past, including a story on contracting at the Texas Lottery Commission (where Miers apparently served). Fund felt that none of the stories would fatal to a strong candidate, but of course nobody thinks Miers is that (speaking politically here, not about her qualifications).

Fund does bring up some stinkers from Myers' past:

The scantiness of her philosophical record has led reporters to focus on the two years of her career where she had to take stands: her one term as a member of the Dallas City Council during 1990 and 1991. There she established a record as an advocate of good government, increased funding for the arts, and building a light-rail system. Her one moment of high drama came when she quieted an angry crowd alleging police brutality. She apologized to the protesters on behalf of the city and called the behavior of the officers "unprovoked and inexcusable."

Against that we have largely the word of the President and Dr. James Dobson. As I've said before, I'm a team player, and we've got to win. I am getting concerned that we are headed for a loss on Miers, possibly self-inflicted. The starting numbers are 55-45, and I suspect that there will be more than five defections from the Republican side, and it's hard to believe that Democrats will break ranks (and Jumpin' Jim will stay with them). Dobson's endorsement hurts us enormously with that side, and some on our own (Darlin' Arlen, for example). And forget about Harry Reid; if he sees a chance to help the Democrats and hurt the president, he'll take it.

I'm agnostic on the merits of the nomination; these things come up fairly irregularly, and I agree with Steyn:

Conservative commentators have been withering about the inner-circle cronyism of the Miers pick. Where do I stand? To be honest, I haven't a clue. A vacancy comes up on the Supreme Court, and for a month or so every columnist is expected to be an expert on the jurisprudence of a couple of dozen legal types he'd never previously heard of.

It's not worth my time to get up to snuff on this. But I feel like I am up to snuff on the politics of confirmation. This nomination is in big trouble. We're close to the point where Harriet Miers may have to be the team player.
Good Point About Miers

Carol Platt Liebau raises this argument:

(1) Ideology. Forcing a Miers withdrawal before her hearings, and clearly on the basis of ideology, legitimizes the idea that ideology is a sufficient reason for opposition to otherwise qualified (if not optimal) judicial nominees. Not only is this an inversion of the traditional GOP argument against the Democrats, it is also inconsistent with Republicans' treatment of, say, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ginsburg was confirmed by a 96-3 vote. All three nay votes were Republican. So if Republicans were to vote on Miers the way they did on Ginsburg, she'd win passage with at least 52 Republican votes.
Brainster's Really Matters!

That's what I take from this article:

Syndicated sites that "really matter" -- classified as sites that have at least 20 other sites linking to them -- number 36,930, according to September data from Bloglines.

TTLB says I've got 97 unique links; that seems low, because Technorati shows 160 links. Of course, that could simply be differences that arise from different methods of counting links; the TTLB only counts links from blogs in the ecosystem, for example.
Rather Breaks Scoop--Doubted Memos All Along!

This is getting pathetic.

According to the book, on the night before his on-air apology, Rather confessed to Howard that he'd had doubts about the veracity of the memos all along. "I knew when I did the [document consultant Marcel] Matley interview that something wasn't right with all this," Rather confessed to Howard, belying his stalwart public position.

Is it too early to give him the Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism?
Captions Courageous

Our buddy Chris from Lucky Dawg won a major award at Mr Right's Photoshop contest. Mr Right's newest caption contest, always a source of great humor, is up now.
Miers Poll of Conservative Bloggers

John Hawkins put up a poll he took of conservative bloggers (including your host) on the issue of Harriet Miers. In the interests of transparency, I'll mention that my answers were that Miers was a so-so pick, that it did not change my view of George Bush, that he should continue to support Miers and that Republican Senators should vote to confirm her.

I'd just clarify that I thought she was a so-so pick because of the political reaction, which should have been anticipated. And the vote to confirm of course assumes that nothing significantly negative comes out in the hearings. If she suddenly talks about the living, breathing Constitution, and the need to examine legislative trends and foreign judicial decisions, then all bets are off.

Essentially all my answers were based on politics, not on Miers herself as a candidate for the Supreme Court.
Le Fraude on Le Values

Not hard to guess the content of this story from the headline: John Kerry calls for reopening values debate

Let me guess: Health care for all?

Kerry said he has continued to push for some of the things his presidential campaign talked about last year, including the “fundamental notion” that all children should have access to affordable health care.

But get this:

“I can’t find anything in any religion anywhere, I certainly cannot find anything in the three-year ministry of Jesus Christ, that says you ought to take health care away from poor children or money away from the poorest people in the country to give it to the wealthiest people in the nation,” Kerry said.

Yes, you see, because that money used to belong to the poor, but Bush gave it to the rich people. Not only that, but the poor people's children used to have health care (which of course is a euphemism for "health insurance").

Don't you love that? It's how Andrew Sullivan framed gay marriage as well; Bush is trying to take it away from gays. Never mind that gay marriage never existed in this country.
This Just In

John McCain is considering a run for the presidency in 2008.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
NFL Playoff/Super Bowl Droughts

Inspired by a post on baseball by Mr Right, here is a look at the NFL teams that have waited the longest for various postseason achievements (active streaks only):

Longest Wait for a Playoff Berth:

Never made the playoffs: Texans

1990 Bengals
1998 Cardinals
1999 Bills, Jaguars, Lions, Redskins
2000 Saints
2001 Dolphins, Bears (corrected per John Ruberry)
2002 49ers, Browns, Bucs, Giants, Raiders, Chiefs
2003 Cowboys, Panthers, Ravens, Titans, Broncos,
2004 Chargers, Colts, Eagles, Falcons, Jets, Packers, Patriots, Rams, Seahawks, Steelers, Vikings

Longest Wait for a Playoff Win:

Never Won a Playoff Game: Texans

1984 Seahawks (You could probably win a bar bet with this one, at least outside the Pacific Northwest)
1990 Bengals
1991 Lions
1993 Chiefs
1994 Bears, Browns, Chargers
1995 Bills
1996 Cowboys
1998 Cardinals, Broncos
1999 Jaguars, Redskins
2000 Saints, Dolphins, Giants
2001 Ravens
2002 49ers, Bucs, Raiders
2003 Panthers, Titans, Packers
2004 Colts, Eagles, Falcons, Jets, Patriots, Rams, Steelers, Vikings

Longest Wait for a Super Bowl Appearance:

Teams That Have Never Appeared in the Super Bowl (Years Missed in Parentheses): Cardinals (39), Lions (39), Saints (38), Browns(36), Seahawks (29), Jaguars (10) and Texans (3)

1968 Jets
1969 Chiefs
1970 Colts
1976 Vikings
1984 Dolphins
1985 Bears
1988 Bengals
1991 Redskins
1993 Bills
1994 Chargers, 49ers
1995 Cowboys, Steelers
1997 Packers
1998 Broncos, Falcons
1999 Titans
2000 Giants, Ravens
2001 Rams
2002 Bucs, Raiders
2003 Panthers
2004 Eagles, Patriots

Longest Wait for a Super Bowl Win:

Teams That Have Never Won the Super Bowl (Years Missed in Parentheses):

Cardinals (39), Vikings (39) Lions (39), Chargers (39), Falcons (39), Titans/Oilers (39), Eagles (39), Bills (39) Saints (38), Bengals (37) Browns (36), Seahawks (29), Panthers (10), Jaguars (10) and Texans (3)

1968 Jets
1969 Chiefs
1970 Colts
1973 Dolphins
1979 Steelers
1983 Raiders
1985 Bears
1990 Giants
1991 Redskins
1994 49ers
1995 Cowboys
1996 Packers
1998 Broncos
1999 Rams
2000 Ravens
2002 Bucs
2004 Patriots

Comments: The above list is also the list of the only teams that have won the Super Bowl. The only teams that started play after 1960 to win the Super Bowl are the Ravens (who are considered an expansion team from 1996 despite obvious problems with that interpretation), the Buccaneers (genuine 1976 expansion) and the Miami Dolphins (1966 arrival).

Of the teams that have not won a Super Bowl, the Cardinals, Browns, Eagles, Bills, Chargers, Lions and Oilers can claim one or more pre-Super Bowl championships in either the NFL or AFL.

Note: Years given are the year as of the beginning of the NFL season. Per numerous league rulings the current Cleveland Browns are the same team that played in Cleveland until 1995, and they are considered to have gone dormant as a franchise for three seasons.
NFL Week 5 Recap

Couple real surprises today. I certainly didn't expect the Jets to handle the Bucs behind Geritol-sipper Vinnie Testaverde, or the Cowboys to whip the Eagles. Matt Schaub looked like a genuine NFL quarterback against the Patriots; whether that says more about his performance or that of the New England secondary only time will tell.

The only remaining undefeateds are Cincinnati (pending this evening's game) and Indianapolis, which had a breather game against the hapless 49ers, who inaugurated the Alex Smith era. Smith looked every bit the rookie that he is with four interceptions on 9/23 passing for 74 yards. Peyton Manning failed to light it up against SF's porous defense, with only one touchdown against two interceptions.

BTW, I don't know what's up with the oddsmakers; if ever there seemed to be a mortal lock, Cincinnati plus 3 at Jacksonville certainly looks like it. The Bengals are far better than the Jags, they don't have a large home field advantage (meaning they play well on the road), and Jacksonville has no home field advantage at all this season. At best this line should be a pick 'em, and even then I'd probably take the Bengals.

Update: The Cincinnati game ended up being a push; so much for mortal locks!
Good Article on the Heroes of Today and the Heroes of WWII

I enjoyed this entire article and recommend it highly:

The paratroopers were right. Over the next nine months, Fallujah grew into the stronghold of the insurgency and the vipers' nest for jihadists infiltrating from Syria. The fighting escalated in ferocity. Among the Marines, acts of courage became common. 1st Sgt. Brad Kasal, for instance, threw his body over a wounded Marine and shot jihadists two feet away. Cpl. Tim Connors, 20, battled inside two adjoining concrete rooms for four hours before killing five jihadists and recovering the body of a fallen squad member. So it went, day after day.

Hundreds of gripping stories of valor emerged that would have been publicized in World War II. Although there are far more heroes than louts in the ranks, stories of the abuses at Abu Ghraib and now at Fallujah vastly outnumber stories of heroism and sacrifice.

As you know, I blog a lot about heroes. If there's one thing that this administration does not do enough of, it's push their heroes forward. We have people like Brian R. Chontosh, who ought to get a freaking ticker tape parade when he goes to the store for milk. Or Leigh Ann Hester, whose heroism under fire should make her ten times as well-known as Lynddie England.
Illegal Elian

Jeff Jacoby smacks around 60 Minutes for their fawning interview with Elian Gonzalez.

But Elian was not the only one being played by the regime. ''60 Minutes" made much of the fact that Castro came to Elian's elementary school graduation and pronounced himself Elian's friend. ''That's quite something, isn't it," Simon gushed, ''for the president of a country to say he's honored to have a kid as a friend?"

He's honored to have a kid as a bloody shirt.

[W]hen he was seized at gunpoint by a federal SWAT team, he "felt joy that I could get out of that house."

Joy indeed.



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Brainster in the Media

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Cited for Breaking the Christmas in Cambodia story (at Kerry Haters):

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Kitty Myers Breaks Christmas in Cambodia

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