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Saturday, September 23, 2006
A Meaningless Milestone

The media feel obliged to let us know that the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan are now equal to the number of people killed on 9-11.

An Associated Press count of the U.S. death toll in Iraq rose to 2,696. Combined with 278 U.S. deaths in and around Afghanistan, the 9/11 toll was reached, then topped, the same day. The Pentagon reported Friday the latest death from Iraq, an as-yet unidentified soldier killed a day earlier after his vehicle was hit by a roadside bombing in eastern Baghdad.

Not for the first time, war that was started to answer death has resulted in at least as much death for the country that was first attacked, quite apart from the higher numbers of enemy and civilians killed, too.

When did the death toll in World War II equal the number killed in Pearl Harbor?
Friday, September 22, 2006
Democrats' Concern Over Voting Fraud

Robert Kennedy Jr is back with another fear-mongering article at Rolling Stone.

It is impossible to know whether the machines were rigged to alter the election in Georgia: Diebold's machines provided no paper trail, making a recount impossible. But the tally in Georgia that November surprised even the most seasoned political observers. Six days before the vote, polls showed Sen. Max Cleland, a decorated war veteran and Democratic incumbent, leading his Republican opponent Saxby Chambliss - darling of the Christian Coalition - by five percentage points. In the governor's race, Democrat Roy Barnes was running a decisive eleven points ahead of Republican Sonny Perdue. But on Election Day, Chambliss won with fifty-three percent of the vote, and Perdue won with fifty-one percent.

But of course the Democrats are not concerned about other types of voting fraud; in fact, they're trying to prevent a bill that would do a lot to stop it from passing:

Senate Democrats on Friday said legislation that would require voters to show proof of U.S. citizenship to vote in federal elections was little more than a poll tax and urged Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to stop the bill.
Help Out a Soldier and His Wife

(This post will remain on top during this week. Scroll down for newer content.)

Kudos to Andrea Shea-King and Mark Vance for pointing this out.

SC Eagle, a military blogger, has a wife named Ellicia. She is facing terminal cancer as discussed here. Sadly they have several young children, who may not see their mother life to their teen years.

She hopes to be able to stay at home, but in a typical Catch-22, home hospice care is not provided for in military insurance.

Information on how to contribute is here.
Dem Evil Christians

This apparently comes from an ABC News report. The mainstream is not too paranoid about Christians, are they?
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Debunking the Nutbars At Ground Zero

This is a terrific video of a young gal taking on the 9-11 Deniers at the WTC site, and doing it with wit and style (and occasional profanity).
The Myth That Will Not Die

Is that the Swift Boat Vets didn't have Kerry nailed.

In 2004, the Swift Boat group, backed by Texas businessman Bob Perry, made unsubstantiated allegations about Kerry's Vietnam War heroism. The presidential nominee's slow and uncertain response is blamed for helping doom his White House bid.

I repeat. Nobody spent more time researching the Swiftees' claims against Kerry than I did, with the possible exception of two of the Swiftees' researchers themselves. I was unable to find anything that they got wrong; at worst the historical record was inconclusive. When there was a conflict between Kerry and the Swiftees, it was Kerry who was found to be lying.
You Know You've Reached Middle Age When...

Pam tagged me with this meme.

1. When you multiply your current age by 2 and realize there's no way you're going to live that long.

2. When you can no longer beat the kids at video games.

3. When 5:00 in the morning is no longer "up late" and instead is "up early".

4. When your arms are too short to read normal-sized print.
Torture Works

Well, hush ma mouth!

This has always struck me as the weakness of the anti-torture absolutists. They want to take the moral high ground, but they also want to claim it doesn't work. But this interview makes clear that it does work. Note particularly that Ramzi Binalshibh, who was originally supposed to be one of the hijackers on 9-11 sobbed like a baby, and that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, despite being one of the hardest to crack, gave up specifics on names and addresses of Al Qaeda in America when waterboarded.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
How Stupid Is This?

Sheesh, Arizona's Governor Janet Napolitano decided that we should have our own 9-11 Memorial. Sounds fine, but remember that Napolitano is a Democrat. Which means that the memorial is PC to the max. I'm with Ace on this one; it's bulldozer time.
McGreevey Book Doesn't Tell All

He's still denying his corruption, trying to claim it was just part of being gay:

He acknowledged giving his lover, Golan Cipel, a job as head of state homeland security for which he was unqualified. Here is how he described it:

"A spectacular lapse of judgment."

The word "corruption" did not come up.

McGreevey was portrayed as resigning because of a "gay sex scandal." That is only a partial truth. He resigned because of a corruption scandal that involved sex, and involved his coming out of the closet. His political career might have overcome the lies of his personal life once he started telling the truth. He might have been a sympathetic figure, a tortured man who lived a lie because that is what society expected, and what he says his religion demanded. He could have been a great spokesman for the cause of gay rights.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
NFL Week Two Comments

Paul asked for this in the comments, so I'm going to give some comments on the first two weeks of the season. Obviously, it's way to early to tell how the season's going to play out, but then again, what's the fun of waiting?

Biggest positive surprises: Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta, New Orleans and San Diego. All are playing quite well despite major question marks coming into the season.

Biggest Negative Surprises: Miami, Washington, Carolina, Tampa Bay. All were expected to be contenders this year, and Carolina was supposed to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

The best QBs so far are Rex Grossman, David Carr, Chad Pennington, Donovan McNabb and Peyton Manning. Carr's completing 75% of his passes, which is getting the job done; the problem for Houston is on the other side of the ball. Pennington is throwing for an average of almost nine yards per attempt, which is definite Pro Bowl material, but it looks positively weak compared to Grossman's ten yards per toss. Both McNabb & Peyton are having the kinds of years that we expect from them.

The Worst QBs? Kerry Collins easily; he's barely completed 40% of his passes so far. Chris Simms, who seemed to be poised to move up into the top ranks has had the second worst season so far, and Jake Plummer has to be looking over his shoulder with his performance. Charlie Frye has not had much success, nor has Jake Delhomme.

Guys who are not doing all that well despite the success of their teams? Steve McNair, whom I've always thought was a fine player is just okay in Baltimore. Tom Brady's been mediocre so far.
Madrid Ducking TV Debate with Wilson?

So Mario Burgos decided to videotape a non-televised debate and air it on his blog. He's right, this is absolutely what the internet is all about. Great job, Mario!
Back to Back to Back to Back Homers

The Dodgers hit four consecutive home runs last night, the last of which tied the game in the bottom of the ninth. No team had hit four consecutive dingers since 1964. Of course, there's a pretty simple reason why this had not happened in 42 years; because after back to back homers, the next man up usually gets plunked. Of course that did not happen last night because it would have put the tying run at the plate.

The last time a team hit four consecutive homers was on May 2, 1964, when the Minnesota Twins accomplished the feat against Kansas City in the 11th inning.

As it happens, Bill James described that scene in (IIRC) the 1986 Baseball Abstract. To set the stage, Charlie Finley had purchased the Kansas City A's. Some of the baseball people on his payroll had told Finley that one of the secrets to the New York Yankee's success over the years had been the dimensions of its ballpark, with a short rightfield fence and the deep, cavernous leftfield. This gave the Yanks an incentive to acquire many left-handed pitchers and hitters, who would be favored by the ballpark.

Well, if it worked for the Yankees, Finley decided it would work for his team as well. So he decided to redesign his ballpark to exactly mimic Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, the Major Leagues had decided years earlier that there were certain minimum dimensions that any ballparks had to meet. Yankee was grandfathered in, but Finley's request to redesign his stadium was denied. Finley complied, but whenever a player hit a ball to the warning track at his stadium, the announcer was required to state, "That ball would have been a home run in Yankee Stadium".

So the 1964 game against the Twins rolls around, and they hit four consecutive homers against the A's. Hilariously, the fifth player comes up and flies out to deep right field. And the announcer dutifully intones, "That ball would have been a home run in Yankee Stadium."

Needless to say, that was the end of that tradition!

Update: Paul pointed out in the comments that the box score for the game is here. It turns out that the three prior times this had happened all took place between 1961 and 1964. My first guess is "expansion". One took place against a third-year expansion team, the Los Angeles Angels. The other two featured some great sluggers; in 1961 the Milwaukee Braves who combined for four straight dingers were Eddie Matthews, Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock and Frank Thomas (the old Frank Thomas, not the Big Hurt). Matthews and Aaron of course are inner circle Hall of Famers, and Adcock was one heck of a hitter. And the Twins who did it were Tony Oliva, Bob Allison, Jimmie Hall and Harmon Killebrew. Killebrew's another no questions asked Hall of Famer. Oliva was a terrific player during the 1960s, certainly on the short list for MVP virtually every year from 1964-1970. Hall and Allison were quality ballplayers. Out of those eight, Hall had the fewest career homers with 121; I'd suspect that something like 2% of all players have had more in their careers.
Just Asking Questions

Dana Milbank tries to excuse the inexcusable:

At a debate in Tysons Corner yesterday between Republican Allen and Democrat Webb, WUSA-TV's Peggy Fox asked Allen, the tobacco-chewing, cowboy-boot-wearing son of a pro football coach, if his Tunisian-born mother has Jewish blood.

"It has been reported," said Fox, that "your grandfather Felix, whom you were given your middle name for, was Jewish. Could you please tell us whether your forebears include Jews and, if so, at which point Jewish identity might have ended?"

Allen recoiled as if he had been struck. His supporters in the audience booed and hissed. "To be getting into what religion my mother is, I don't think is relevant," Allen said, furiously. "Why is that relevant -- my religion, Jim's religion or the religious beliefs of anyone out there?"

"Honesty, that's all," questioner Fox answered, looking a bit frightened.

Yes, that's it, it's all about the honesty. Note that Milbank admits the question was out of place, but goes on to speculate why Allen got upset:

Fox's question, while a matter of some intrigue, seemed out of place in the debate, which focused on more urgent matters such as Iraq. But Allen turned on the questioner with ferocity. He may have been irked that the question was a follow-up to one noting that "macaca" was a racial slur that his mother may have learned in Tunisia. He may have been concerned that Jewish roots wouldn't play well in parts of Virginia.

He may have also felt that his mother's religion is not a proper subject for debate. This strikes me as very similar to John Kerry and John Edwards both bringing up during debates the fact that Dick Cheney has a lesbian daughter; a not-so-subtle appeal to prejudice.

Milbank turns the situation around so it seems like Fox was the victim:

"I was shocked," she said after the event. Disclosing that her great-grandfather was a Mormon polygamist, she added: "Why would he get so angry at the suggestion there might be something in your background that's Jewish? I don't think that's a bad thing at all."

He got angry because it's irrelevant, just as the fact that she had a great-grandfather who was a polygamist is irrelevant.

Update: Dean Barnett gets it.

A few quick points of personal analysis. As a Jew, I found Fox’s question profoundly offensive. Trust me, the wounded minority card is not one that I play with much frequency. But the attempt to "tar" Allen as a Jew in a southern state was at the very least disturbing, and I actually consider it sickening. Furthermore, I think asking the question was a hanging offense professionally, and I hope whoever employs Peggy Fox has seen enough of her judgment to deeply ponder severing their relationship with her.
Bush's Poll Ratings Bounce

Up to the highest point this year.

A new USA Today/Gallup poll finds George W. Bush's job approval rating is now at 44%, which is an improvement compared with the public's assessment of his performance in recent months. Bush's job approval ratings have been fluid in recent weeks, measuring as high as 42% in mid-August, but dropping back to 39% earlier this month. The current 44% approval rating is his highest rating so far this year. The last time Bush's approval rating was at this level (or higher) was in late September 2005, when 45% of Americans approved of Bush. In recent months, Bush's approval ratings have hovered around 40%, fluctuating between 36% and 42% from June through early September.

Is it any coincidence that gas prices are dropping rapidly?
Monday, September 18, 2006
Webb/Allen Race in Focus

The New York Times covers the Virginia Senate race between George Allen and James Webb. Allen is being touted by many as the best hope to derail John McCain's straight talk express in 2008, but he may not make it to the starting gate.

In recent days, the Allen campaign, acknowledging a newly competitive race, has gone on the attack. A Mason-Dixon poll conducted this month found Mr. Allen’s lead, once in the double-digits, had shrunk, with 46 percent for Mr. Allen, 42 percent for Mr. Webb, and a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

In fact, this race could also have strong implications for the Democratic ticket as well; if Webb can crack open the Old Dominion, Mark Warner will certainly benefit.

Dick Wadhams, the Allen campaign manager, said the race was competitive, “no doubt about it,” but said Mr. Webb’s political inexperience, fuzziness on the issues and lack of enthusiasm for campaigning — Mr. Webb does not appear to have a high comfort level on the campaign trail — would all work in the Allen campaign’s favor. “We still have a financial advantage,” Mr. Wadhams said. “And we still have an incumbent who’s won two tough elections.”
Sunday, September 17, 2006
The Amazing Race Intro Recap

Quick introduction of the teams:

Team Triathlete. Although this couple would seem to have an advantage, the woman was born with one leg much smaller than the other and as such she wears an artificial leg. Interestingly, the man is a designer of artificial legs. What are the odds of that? ;)

Team Allah. They announce that they will stop in mid-race to pray to Mecca.

Team Mohawk. Couldn't figure out what to name this team; we didn't get much of an introduction to them. The guy has an odd hairstyle.

Team Beauty Queen. Miss New York and Miss California.

Team Coal Miner. The husband is a coal miner from Kentucky. The wife is just a tad on the cranky side.

Team Cho. A pair of Oriental brothers.

Team Disappointed in My Lesbian Daughter. We can tell Dad's going to have to learn some lessons on this show.

Team Karma. Indian husband and wife.

Team Cheerleaders. A pair of cuties; actually more attractive to me than the beauty queens.

Team Recovery. A pair of buddies who are recovering drug addicts and male models.

Team Gump. Two black single moms from Alabama.

Team Gay. A gay couple.

The first task is to fly from the start (Seattle) to Beijing, China. One of the black women comments that's good because the Chinese like people from Alabama, because they think they're Forrest Gump. Peas and carrots, ladies!

There are two planes, so there is a race to get to the airport. The cars they are driving are rental cars, so they have to be returned, but apparently the rental car return is off-airport, so there is some confusion among the teams. Team Cho breaks out some water pistols in the departure area, but a TSA guard confiscates them.

As it works out the difference between the two flights, which was supposed to be about 55 minutes turns out to be more like 38 minutes. When the teams arrive in Beijing, they have to find the Gold House restaurant. Roadblock! One of the players has to eat a bunch of fish eyes; the usual foreign delicacy routine. All seem to make it through without any real problems.

Next, the teams have to make it through the Meridian Gate at the Forbidden City. Phil notes that there will be a surprise waiting there. All the teams are to pull departure times for the next morning. Hilariously, the Kentucky couple exhort their driver to go faster by saying "Quack! Quack!" I think they mean, "Chop! Chop!"

As the times are pulled we discover there are only 11 possible times, and one labeled last team. The unlucky guys getting that are Team Allah. They are escorted to a mat where they are Phil-liminated. So much for the cultural lesson they were no doubt intended to teach us. About all we learned is that they do indeed say "Insh'allah" and "Allah Akhbar" a lot, and that at least one of them is from Cleveland.

I had noticed when Phil outlined the rules for the race there were supposed to be 8 pit stops where one team would be eliminated, which didn't quite add up--there are supposed to be three teams in the final, which indicated one other team would have to be lost in another way; looks like this was it.

The next day they are to take old WWII vintage motorcycles to a pedicab stand. The Detour task is Labor or Leisure. Surprisingly, most of the teams chose Labor, but it appears to pay off.

In Labor, the teams must brick a 45 square foot area in a demonstrated pattern. One key is that they must first lay a course of large flagstones around the outside. Almost everybody gets this wrong at first and have to restart. In Leisure (chosen by Team Cheerleader and Team Gay) teams must do a complicated dance routine while balancing a ball on a paddle. It will undoubtedly be coming to the Olympics in the next few years.

At about this time, it becomes obvious that Team Karma is falling far behind. They miss the pedicab stand and it takes them a long time to get to the Detour. They chose Labor.

It appears that most of the folks choosing Labor do it fairly quickly, and so when Team Gay and Team Cheerleader finish their dance routine succesfully, they are near last, except for Team Karma.

The next destination is the Pit Stop at the Great Wall of China. Teams have to climb up to the top of the wall using what I believe are called jumar ropes that have periodic nooses where you can plant your feet and grab hold. Everybody has trouble, but the gal in Team Triathlete is especially concerned.

But she eventually gets the hang of it and makes it up. Meanwhile, Team Recovery has arrived at the top and wins first prize, $20,000--what, no product placement? Other teams having obvious problems are Team Gump, and Team Coal Miner. But eventually they all make it to the top, and only Team Karma still remains. They finally make it up, and are Phil-liminated. BTW, did you notice the goofy shirt the husband was wearing? It read, "Colege". :)

Viking Pundit's usual excellent recap is up.
Don't Look Now, Here Comes Global Cooling

Could it be that the SUVs are saving the planet?

These and other temperature swings corresponded with changing solar activity. "It's a boom-bust system, and I expect a crash soon," says Nigel Weiss, a solar physicist at the University of Cambridge. Scientists cannot say precisely how big the coming cooling will be, but it could at minimum be enough to offset the current theoretical impact of man-made global warming. Sam Solanki, of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, says declining solar activity could drop global temperatures by 0.2 degrees Celsius. "It might not sound like much," says New Scientist writer Stuart Clark, "but this temperature reversal would be as big as the most optimistic estimate of the results of restricting greenhouse-gas emissions until 2050 in line with the Kyoto protocol."

Update: Kitty pointed me to this remarkably relevant Time Magazine cover from 1979:

Steyn on the Soft-Focus 9-11 Commemorations

As you might expect he favors the up-close and personal approach:

The proper tone for 9/11 commemorations is to be sad about all the dead -- "the lost" -- but in a very generalized soft-focus way. Not a lot of specifics about the lost, and certainly not too many quotes from those final phone calls from the passengers to their families, like Peter Hanson's last words before Flight 175 hit the World Trade Center: "Don't worry, Dad. If it happens, it will be very fast." That might risk getting readers worked up, especially if they see the flight manifest:

"Peter Hanson, Massachusetts

"Susan Hanson, Massachusetts

"Christine Hanson, 2, Massachusetts"


Here's the family's memorial site. They have no doubt what happened to their loved ones; they were not "lost".

As the plane banked and crashed into that tower and exploded in a burst of flame, I screamed, I knew that all the joys we had together, all the love, care and good times we shared all the dreams and hopes we had were gone...ended by those murderous cowards. The thought of the three of you in each other's arms in that final moment will never leave me. I have been told that there could not have been any pain, but you knew what was happening. How could those murderers have looked at those innocent people on the plane, at beautiful Christine and so cruelly kill?


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Brainster in the Media

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