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Wednesday, September 29, 2004

It's Confirmed Now

According to a quiz at the site linked by the image, your humble blogger is a ...

Amusing quiz, albeit inaccurate. I do not own a car, I dislike Starbucks, and I'm rather strongly pro-globalization. I even picked hamburger over veggie burger.

Via John Pierce.

Do We Have to Keep the Dumb Hats?

Baseball is back in DC! It's wonderful that Peter Angelos is done extoring money from the league and this is finally a done deal.

The elder statesman of local sportscasting, the immortal George Michael (not the gay pop star, the other one), was reflecting on his sadness at seeing baseball leave the city 33 years ago. His (and others') tone was of such wonderment on the local news that I could not help but note that the age of Christ at his death is also the amount of time people have waited for the resurrection of the national pasttime in the nation's capital.

But really, those hats must go. In addition to being hideous, they remind me of the president.

Scalia on Gay Marriage

Our most lovable Supreme Court Justice made a speech in Cambridge in which he rather strongly hinted at the Big Issue up in that neck of the woods of late:

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia says he believes "abstract moralizing" has led the American judicial system into a quagmire, and that matters such as abortion and assisted suicide are "too fundamental" to be resolved by judges.

"What I am questioning is the propriety, indeed the sanity, of having value-laden decisions such as these made for the entire society ... by judges," Scalia said on Tuesday during an appearance at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. ...

"I believe in liberal democracy, which is a democracy that worries about the tyranny of the majority, but it is the majority itself that must draw the lines," Scalia said.

But what law isn't value-laden? When do things become "too fundamental" for judges to handle? What if the majority has "drawn lines" in terms of the rights everyone should have but refuses to actually grant such rights to a minority group?

Judges can be a force for good in society, and it's too bad such a prominent jurist doesn't seem to realize this.

The Politics of Fear

File under IOKIYAR:

With voters expressing anxiety about Iraq, nuclear attacks and the threat of terrorism in the first presidential election since Sept. 11, 2001, John F. Kerry and his supporters are adopting President Bush's strategy of playing on the public's security fears and sometimes using incendiary charges to stoke them.

Kerry, the Democratic National Committee and party officials have warned voters in recent weeks, sometimes without evidence, that a second Bush term could lead to greater casualties and another Vietnam in Iraq, a military draft, a secret call-up of reservists and even a nuclear attack on U.S. soil. They are also suggesting Osama bin Laden could remain a haunting and elusive threat unless the Democratic presidential nominee takes charge.

That's VandeHei and Kurtz on A1 of this morning's WaPo, and IOKIYAR means "it's OK if you're a Republican"--an acronym it took me a while to figure out after seeing on the blogs. Has there been such front-page commentary about Bush's doing the same things, insinuating a Kerry win means more terrorist attacks? Why draw such attention to Kerry doing something allegedly controversial when it's admittedly the same as what his opponent has been doing for a long time?

For the record, I dislike this style of campaigning, but I happen to think Kerry is right. Just look at the record of death and disaster on George Bush's watch thus far, and ask what more he might do unconstrained by the need to position himself for reeelection in 2008.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Jeff Jacoby on the Jewish Vote

Today's Boston Globe web exclusive features Jeff Jacoby trying to get the other folks at temple to vote Bush this year. Knowing many liberal Jews myself, I think the rather basic fallacy here is the assumption that Bush's unquestioning loyalty to Ariel Sharon is somehow what's best for Israel. I also enjoyed the point about how Al Sharpton is such a star in the Democratic Party ... right.

Getting to Some Good Anecdotes

Of late I've been reading bits of the negotiating book Getting to Yes. Though it's rather disappointingly uninsightful thus far, there have been a few nice anecdotes sprinkled about, one of which I'm typing in below and calling my midday blog post:

In Persian, the word "compromise" apparently lacks the positive meaning it has in English of "a midway point both sides can live with," but has only a negative meaning as in "our integrity was compromised." Similarly, the word "mediator" in Persian suggests "meddler," someone who is bargin in uninvited. In early 1980 UN Secrertary General Waldheim flew to Iran to seek the release of American hostages. His efforts were seriously set back when Iranian national radio and television broadcast in Persian a remark he reportedly made on his arrival in Tehran: "I have come as a mediator to work out a compromise." Within an hour of the broadcast, his car was being stoned by angry Iranians.

That's from pages 33-34 of Fisher, Ury and Patton. It sounds to me like rather than brushing up on his negotiation skills, the Secretary General just needed a batter translator, but it's a good story nonetheless.

Completely unrelated but brief: why would I want to donate to Billionaires for Bush if they are just going to spend the money I give on producing another hip-hop video?

Another Brilliant Idea from the Local News

Hey, it's 12:30 am, lots of drunk, rowdy guys are exiting FedEx Field after the Redskins loss on Monday Night Football, how about we send out some scared-looking female reporter to interview some of them as they come out? Thanks to ABC-7 for that moment of ridiculousness.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Once Again, Don't Bet the Spread

I was at a sports bar on Saturday night watching the Red Sox drop seven runs on the Yankees in the eight inning when I noticed another guy in the room who was paying a little too much attention to the latter stages of the Texas-Rice college football game, which was 35-6 Longhorns in the fourth quarter. The guy was yelling at the Texas players to fumble or otherwise turn over the ball, presumably because Rice needed another score to cover. I heard the guy say that he had bet on the Florida-Kentucky game earlier in the day, a game in which Florida, favored by 19, won 20-3.

Insane as it is to bet the spread on NFL games, college is even worse. Are you really going to put money on a bunch of college kids coming through?

The other Saturday night sporting highlight was Roy Jones getting knocked cold in his attempted comeback fight. As he walked to the ring, HBO announcer Jim Lampley noted that Jones, who hails from Pensacola, Florida, lost a beach house in one of the hurricanes. He also lost 100 gamecocks he raised there, who got free from their cages and attacked and killed each other; they are trained to do this, Lampley informed us. Then the decaying Larry Merchant chimed in that like his gamecocks, Roy Jones has been "bred to fight." That just sounded like Merchant was calling the best boxer of the last 15 years the product of some kind of eugenics program. And to think, before the ill-fated comeback effort, Jones was slated to join the HBO crew as an analyst upon the departure of George Foreman. Hmm.

Moving along, I see Christine Chinlund, the Globe's ombud, is doing some penance for the Globe's coverage of the Bush/National Guard story. True enough, "Authenticity backed on Bush documents" was an unfortunate front-page headline to print as the controversy was starting up, but we need to keep in mind that the Globe has been one of very few media outlets to take the Guard story seriously at all, both in 2000 and when it reemerged months ago. The Globe should've been credited for pursuing the story, and thanks to CBS and the idiocy of Dan Rather we end up with the paper apologizing for its tangential connection to that mess on its editorial page.

Another highlight on the Boston.com front page now is that Bill O'Reilly dissed Jon Stewart for having "stoned slackers" watching his show. Guess which cable host actually has a better-educated audience?

Dan Kennedy, who I checked for Chinlund reaction, actually had a good catch of Mark Steyn making up a Dan Rather quote which he has repeated in a new column ... which of course is criticizing Rather for using inaccurate information. Alert the irony police.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Damn the Point Spread, Week Three

First, about last week's picks. I managed to go 9-7 straight up, an impressive performance that narrowly beat the performance of someone picking out of a hat. That might be a better method for picking against the spread, because based on the points at Stardust last week, I was only 6-10. A few of the point spread highlights:

1) The Patriots, 8-point favorites, beat Arizona 23-12.
2) Cincinnati, 4.5-point favorites, beat Miami 16-13.
4) Seattle, 2.5-point favorites, beat Tampa 10-6.
3) Oakland, 3.5-point favorites, beat Buffalo 13-10.

So, as you can see, fighting the spread seems to be a lost cause. But the battle continues.

I've noticed ESPN's NFL front page (at least before the games start, this is), has point spreads listed. I can't figure out where their lines come from exactly, as the points vary by casino. In any case, I'll bet against the generic ESPN line this week. And no, I'm not really betting, please stay away federal authorities. Kids, don't bet, it will make your teeth fall out.

On to the selections of the week.

Minnesota (-10) over Chicago

Back in the Dome Vikes are tough.

NY Giants (-3.5) over Cleveland

Winslow gone hurts Brownies, and on an on-side kick, no less. His teammates probably are happy, though, he won't be around to smack them for not being intense enough about stretching at practice.

St. Louis (-7) over New Orleans

No Deuce means no dice for the Saints.

Arizona (+10) over Atlanta (Cardinals to cover but Atlanta to win)

I still have no idea how the Cards stayed in the game with the Patriots last week.

Baltimore (-2.5) over Cincinnati

This game is going to be absolutely disgusting to watch. Of course, it will be on TV where I live.

Philadelphia (-5.5) over Detroit

Lions are 2-0, yes, but they beat Chicago and Houston. Reality arrives today.

Tennessee (-6) over Jacksonville

Jags can't score of late, Titans motivated to get back after Colts loss last week.

Houston (+7.5) over Kansas City

OK, Texans, if you don't do anything this week, I'm stopping picking you. The Chefs will have trouble cooking the meal with no Priest to give the blessing. Hopefully Larry Johnson does have diapers in case he craps his pants in advance of his first start. Or something else punny may apply.

Denver (-10) over San Diego

Speaking of crap, that's how the Chargers usually play in Denver. The Broncos must be pumped to see KC having trouble since that opens up the division for them to take.

Seattle (-10) over San Francisco

Like the Cardinals, I have no idea how the Niners are staying in games thus far, having lost by two and then three (OK, Deuce McCallister got injured for the Saints last week, so that makes some sense). Seahawks are tough at home and Ken Dorsey doesn't give me much confidence in a tough road game.

Indianapolis (-6.5) over Green Bay

Favre! Manning! Excessive hype!

Oakland (-3.5) over Tampa Bay

The cyclicality of the NFL is on full display as the Super Bowl matchup from less than two calendar years ago now has a severe lack of sizzle.

Pittsburgh (+1) over Miami

Yes, Pittsburgh wins outright too, unless there is some way the Dolphins can win the thing by a half-point. It'll be sloppy in the wake of a hurricane, which means running will be crucial, and as we all know by now, the Dolphins have no running game, whereas the Steelers can run decently.

Washington (-1.5) over Dallas

Good God, the people in DC are insane about this game. As I've suggested before, this is why Washington needs a baseball team. At least in Boston, the rabid-ness of the fandom is dispersed between both the Patriots and the Red Sox.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Who's Your Daddy?

While I agree with Dan Shaughnessy that it bodes poorly for the Red Sox playoff chances to have Pedro Martinez "call the Yankees my daddy," I think there are a couple of things that need to be pointed out on the inaccuracy of Shaughnessy's comparison of Terry Fancona's managing last night and Grady Little's managing of the ALCS Game 7 last October.

First, this eight inning started with the Red Sox leading by only one run. In Game 7, the Red Sox were up by three. Last night, the Red Sox were tied by a single swing of the bat, whereas last October it took a succession of Yankee hits to knot the score. That is all to say that there was much more warning that Pedro was out of gas last year, and much more chance to get someone up in the bullpen.

The second key point is that last October, Grady Little actually visited the mound once and left Pedro in while the whole world knew he should've lifted him--this was the point at which I was screaming at my television, a time I recall quite vividly, after a few hits had already happened. At a comparable point last night, with two runs in, Pedro was in fact lifted by Francona.

So it's not the same. Just leave it to Shaughnessy to try to create controvery though. (In my mind, the Byung-Hyun Kim brain fart on Thursday night was a lot worse.)

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Ramirez-Ortiz Nickname

Boston.com thinks the hard-hitting Red Sox duo needs a catchy moniker. Of course, several people have already suggested "Manny Ortez," as John Kerry called them.

Screw You, Peter Angelos

Washington is a town with a lot of sports fans that simply lacks teams to get behind, I'm convinced, hence the over-fascination with the Redskins. It will be an excellent city to locate a major league baseball team, but the stupid Orioles owner keeps trying to derail the process of getting the Expos here. Look, Mr. Angelos, the Orioles are weak and no one wants to go up to Baltimore to see them play. Washingtonians want a team here, just deal with it.

It's not like there are any actual Orioles fans in DC anyway. For American League baseball, transplanted Yankees and Red Sox fans will still have to trek up to Baltimore when their teams visit town (that's really the only reason your team sells tickets, by the way). And it could even create a nice interleague rivalry between the Expos (or whatever they're re-named) and the O's. So please, Mr. Angelos, exit the stage now.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

These Are the Bush Supporters

"Rigid construction! These laminated full-color posters are durable and make the perfect way to heat up a group of smelly ol' liberals. Place your posters wherever hippie-libbies are sure to see them."

It's a web site selling the following:

As seen on Wonkette.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Drinking Liberally

So Atrios is promoting this Drinking Liberally thing today. It strikes me as another indication that every aspect of our lives is being segregated according to political affiliation (I noted the rise of the political dating sites a few months back--sites like this and this). There are probably some serious sociological discussion points here, but I need to get back to work.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Chirping Crickets

Busy, probably won't post again until Thursday. Unless I decide to procrastinate, of course.

Pops is Back

OK, so he didn't quit blogging, just switched his address to get rid of the pervs searching his page for Britney Spears. Go see this site, and your soylent explanation is here and here.

George W., Flower Child

Hear the prez sing "Imagine" here. Via my email buddy at The Party Party (I still recommend Dick is a Killer [inappropriateness warning!] as my personal favorite).

Sunday, September 19, 2004

My Politically Oriented Run

How strange a thing it is to go out and get some exercise for a political cause. Yesterday, I got up and headed to the Ellipse for the national Run Against Bush Day festivities. You can see some pictures of the DC gathering on the organization's site as well as in a few AP photos:

Nothing I've found so far has me pictured--sad, I know. I will say that I enjoyed the enthusiasm of the group, which cheered me and my fellow runners an amount that was far disproportionate to any athletic feats we were performing. Now I know what it's like to compete in the Special Olympics. Also, the head guy who gave a pep talk at the beginning boasted, without any sense of irony, that Run Against Bush Day had started with 75 runners that morning in Paris.

Self-Embarassment, Week Two

I'm betting at Stardust this week:

Jacksonville (+2.5) over Denver (Jags to win)
Baltimore (-3.5) over Pittsburgh
Houston (+3) over Detroit (Texans to win)
Indianapolis (-1.5) over Tennessee
Green Bay (-9) over Chicago
Washington (-3) over NY Giants
New Orleans (-7.5) over San Francisco
St. Louis (+1.5) over Atlanta (Rams win)
Kansas City (-7) over Carolina
Seattle (-2.5) over Tampa Bay
Cleveland (+5.5) over Dallas (Browns to win)
New England (-8) over Arizona
Oakland (-3.5) over Buffalo
NY Jets (-3) over San Diego
Cincinnati (-4.5) over Miami
Minnesota (+3) over Philadelphia (Vikings to win)

Last Week: 8-8 straight up, and a wretched 4-10-2 against the spread. As Pops has warned me, only a fool bets against the spread early in the season. I prefer to think that I'm setting up a dramatic comeback in subsequent weeks.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The Two-Hour Lunch Comes to an End

Pops says he'll no longer be updating his blog. I am sad.

Running Against Bush

I'll be getting up in the morning and heading down to the Ellipse for Run Against Bush Day. Stories about anti-Bush running enthusiasts may follow later in the weekend.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Bad Kerry Rhetoric Watch

Yesterday's Kerry WSJ editorial is fighting a losing battle with that page's readership, obviously. I agree with Kerry's economic policy by and large, though I found the rhetoric in the piece a little peculiar, given how Kerry adopts the comparisons of the president to a CEO and the government to a corporation. Those, of course, are comparisons popularized by the current administration and much-derided among the left-wingers in this country, some of whom are reluctant backers of Kerry's bud for the White House.

Business leaders like Warren Buffett, Lee Iacocca and Robert Rubin are joining my campaign because they believe that American businesses will do better if we change our CEO. ... On Nov. 2 we will have a national shareholders meeting.

Fortunately, I don't think many of the folks who fulminate against likening the presidency to a corporate leadership role get around to reading the Journal's op-ed page that often.

Laura Bush, Druggie?

Slate's got the good bits of Kitty Kelley's book. While nothing there will bring down the Bush admin (sorry, guys), there are some amusing details, and who really cares how true they are? What struck me is the allegedly sordid past of our first lady:

Page 575: A friend says Laura Bush was the "go-to girl for dime bags" at Southern Methodist University.

I have a hard time picturing that one.

The Anti-Trustworthy Stephen Moore

Sometimes I feel like I should write more often about economics, a subject I supposedly know a little something about, according to my college degree. So with Matt Yglesias linking some hackery by Stephen Moore, I guess I can do a bit of that.

Moore's subject is the recent court decision overruling the Justice Department's objections to the hostile takeover of PeopleSoft by Oracle. He writes:

Oracle now controls 7 percent of the business software market. PeopleSoft roughly another 8 percent. The merger would bring Oracle's share to 15 percent.

Anyone who has ever studied antitrust merger review knows the whole ballgame is the definition of the relevant market, and obviously the DOJ defined the market more narrowly in this case, so it had higher percentage market shares in its analysis. The Economist (sub. req.) noted this a little while back:

The DOJ says that the merger would reduce competition from three firms--Oracle, PeopleSoft and SAP, the market leader--to two. But this conclusion stems entirely from the DOJ's absurdly narrow definition of the relevant market as software "that can be integrated into suites of associated functions from a single vendor with performance characteristics that meet the demands of multifaceted organisations with high-level functional needs". In other words, to the DOJ, the market is that served by companies that sell complete suites of business software to big firms.

That's fine if you want to quibble with the DOJ's market definition, as the Economist piece does, but Moore is so far gone that he doesn't even honestly acknowledge the baseline argument made by the regulators.

The article is full of historical inaccuracies and faulty analysis of general antitrust matters. Moore says, "antitrust is nothing more than a devious form of corporate welfare where the aggrieved who can't compete in the open market rush to Uncle Sam for aid." That's a peculiar stance, considering how one of the axioms of US antitrust enforcement is that such regulations exist to "protect competition, not competitors." It is a bedrock principle that ruinous competition is a losing argument for industry rivals to try to make to the DOJ or FTC.

Then there's this gem:

The issue is who should regulate the advisability of merger activities: investors who put up their own money, or government lawyers? Which group is more likely to safeguard shareholder value?

This passage assumes that "shareholder value" is the ultimate concern of antitrust, and that's wrong. The goal is the protection of consumers.

My personal favorite quote: "scholars at the American Enterprise Institute have argued that the Microsoft antitrust action helped precipitate the market meltdown of all technology stocks that began in 1999." This is just ridiculous on its face--personally, I like to think that the fact that tech companies had no profits and were propped up on hype is more to blame--and it points to the curious omission of any discussion of Microsoft in the part of the article when Moore argues that the Bush administration has been overly tough in rejecting mergers. That's a difficult case to make when the Bushies have called the dogs off with regard to the Microsoft matter, which is only, you know, the most significant antitrust action of this generation.

I could go on, but that's my seriousness quota for now, plus you're probably bored too.

Tom Brady, Liar

I understand teams need to take every game seriously, but the quote from Tom Brady about the Patriots' Sunday opponent, Arizona, is ridiculous:

"This is a good team."

Sure, and the Dolphins running game is explosive.

Goofy News

CNN, always bringing us the important stories:

ORLANDO, Florida (AP) -- A Walt Disney World worker who was acquitted of charges he fondled a 13-year-old girl while dressed as Tigger has been suspended again, accused of shoving two people while in a Goofy costume.

His lawyer said the man was just "goofing around because he was Goofy."

Does the lawyer think that puns will get his client off?

Let's Gamble, for Nipmuc's Sake

It's always a good time when two of the Bay State's intellectuals from the state House of Representatives pen an op-ed, and it's doubly good when they decide to argue for bringing casino gambling to Massachusetts (they drop the "bl" and call it by the less scary-sounding name of "gaming" instead). It warms my heart to see, under the headline "Massachusetts needs casinos", passages like this:

The Nipmuc Nation won recognition from the outgoing Clinton administration in 2001, then saw that approval held up by the incoming Bush administration. After a grueling four-year process, the tribe was summarily denied. This is a tribe that has state recognition and a long and well documented history and ongoing community and political involvement, even though Bay Colony settlers stripped them of their land and much of their heritage.

I'm willing to believe that Connecticut's AG sabotaged the tribe's bid for recognition, but still, it strains credulity a tad to think that George Peterson Jr. and Mark Carron would be going to bat for the Nipmucs were it not for the prospect of casino gambling on the horizon. Is this really a good way to deal with whatever lingering guilt we feel about what the Pilgrims did?

The reps' point appears to be that since Massachusetts residents spend lots of money at the Connecticut casinos, we should get casinos here so that the money stays in-state. The problem with that is that having casinos even closer means that Bay Staters will be dropping even more cash at the craps tables, and for gambling opponents, that is not a good thing. Sure, the people who work at the casino get jobs from it, but at the same time the poor bastards with the gambling addictions go further into debt and have their lives ruined. It's not much of a benefit to add some state revenues if in the process we augment the social ills that need to be addressed. Not surprisingly, that's the argument Peterson and Carron fail to grasp.

At least it's not the worst op-ed in the paper today--that honor goes to Alex Beam, who is a little late writing on Fahrenheit 9/11 and has no point.

Dammit, Kerry

It's Jim VandeHei, whose writing I used to follow more closely, with the story on how John Kerry was campaigning in Wisconsin and idiotically called Lambeau Field "Lambert" instead. Kerry needs to stop screwing up details about local sports teams right now. Don't even try these things any more, I'm begging you, Kerry campaign. It's just a way for the candidate to have a chance to embarrass himself at every event, and he's done precisely that on several occasions now.

As seen on the Frog and the Grammar.police web-blogs (as I'm sure John Kerry would call them if he had a chance to address a bloggers' convention).

A few other vapid thoughts that came to mind on a busy Wednesday:

It would be too bad if New Orleans were obliterated by a hurricane. After all, I've never been there for Mardi Gras. I hear the warbloggers are hoping the French Quarter gets hit. This sure sounds rather apocalyptic:

New Orleans could be devastated under 20 feet of water laced with sewage and chemicals if it takes a direct hit from "Ivan the Terrible."

Also, happy Jewish holiday, whichever of the two it is that I always get mixed up.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Bushes Against Bush

Checked the inbound links just now and found Bushes Against Bush a site that explains that it is run by people with the last name Bush who do not like our president of the same name: "We want the world to know that not everyone with this surname shares the views, or approves of the policies and actions, of this President."

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Fighting at the Ballpark!

Now that the ritual condemnation of Texas Rangers pitcher Frank Francisco is coming in from all quarters after he threw a chair at fans in Oakland last night, I'll be a bit of a contrarian. Yes, it's obviously wrong to resort to violence when someone says something to you.

But I don't find it shocking that violence does result sometimes in circumstances like these. While the article I linked says, "the fans didn't yell racial slurs or swear at the Texas players," so that's good, I'm sure that in many such instances fans do exactly that. I find it bizarre that if you yelled such things at a stranger out in the park or on the street, most people agree that you should be ready for that person to potentially get violent with you, hence most people don't do that sort of thing lightly. Although the person's violent bahavior is still illegal, we view it as somewhat legitimate. However, when people go to baseball games, they seem to feel that they can yell whatever vile things they want at players with no repercussions at all. Does society recognize an implied right of the bleachers?

Mix in alcohol consumption by fans and professional athletes who have their competitive juices flowing and incidents will occur. Page 2 has some history on such events going down at baseball games. One thing they don't mention (and my memory is hazy on this so it could be wrong) is that I think Crazy Carl Everett once went into the stands to attack a fan at a game he was playing in Mexico years back and he managed to get himself banned from the Mexican league for life. Is it any wonder he wouldn't work out in Boston?

Lynne Cheney Chat

It's tomorrow on the BC04 site. My submitted question: where can I go to find a copy of your novel Sisters? Hey, they are touting her as an "accomplished author" in the blurb about her, so that one's fair game.

How bad does it have to get?

This is an honest question I'm putting out here. Since war proponents always like to attack those who opposed invading Iraq by saying that if we had our way Saddam Hussein would still be in power, I started wondering, based on the latest violence, how long that talking point can possibly remain operative. At what point does the deteriorating situation in Iraq become so bad that people who favored the war will change their minds and decide that it was not worth fighting? Monstrous as Saddam Hussein may have been, it's hard for me to see how making Iraqi citizens subject to guerrilla violence and random bombings on a daily basis is any better, really.

The massive scale of the death and destruction takes the fun out of being able to say, "I told you so."

As a welcome diversion from reality, Turner Classic Movies is doing a political themed November, featuring the favorite films of public figures. You can vote here for your favorite political flick. I am casting a ballot for The Distinguished Gentleman, a very underrated movie. For some reason they left The War Room off the list, which would've been an excellent pick. The leader thus far is Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

This would be amusing, if it didn't all matter so much

That seems to be my recurring thought on the idiocy of the presidential campaign. Anyway, on page one of Tuesday's Post Mike Allen submits this second parargraph to a story:

A staple of Bush's stump speech is his claim that his Democratic challenger, John F. Kerry, has proposed $2 trillion in long-term spending, a figure the Massachusetts senator's campaign calls exaggerated. But the cost of the new tax breaks and spending outlined by Bush at the GOP convention far eclipses that of the Kerry plan.

There was also Bush's farcical healthcare event on Monday:

I'm running against a fellow who has got a massive, complicated blueprint to have our government take over the decision-making in health care.


THE PRESIDENT: His plan, if you listen carefully to what he says, would have bureaucrats become the decision-makers, and that would be wrong for America. As well, today, there's a independent study, which has been released, which says that his plan would cost the taxpayers $1.5 trillion in new government spending. Not only is his plan going to increase the power of bureaucrats in your lives, but he can't pay for it unless he raises your taxes.

Today, we're going to talk about a difference of opinion. It starts with -- you know, what would you expect from a Senator from Massachusetts? (Laughter and applause.)

Rank dishonesty and scare tactics, as per usual (how else is he going to get around the facts?), not to mention the habitual smearing of my home state, which only enjoys one of the highest living standards in the country and is home to some of the world's top medical facilities. Also, if Bush has a real plan to make healthcare more affordable and available, why the hell hasn't he started implementing it during his first term? God knows the 45 million people without insurance could use some help ASAP.

Monday, September 13, 2004

ESPN's Patriotic Propaganda

I woke up Saturday morning in time to catch the start of the 10am SportsCenter. Since it was the 9/11 anniversary, they went out live to some US military base in Kuwait for the raising of the flag. This seemed to suggest rather strongly that our current military presence in the Persian Gulf is somehow justified by the 9/11 attacks. Is it any wonder that with willing accomplices in the likes of ESPN the Bush administration has convinced a considerable slice of the US population that Saddam Hussein was involved in 9/11?

Personally, I prefer to have my sports news delivered devoid of any political content, yet ESPN seems to be wrapping itself in the flag more frequently in recent years. Last week the network reveled in the Miracle on Ice, a time that made us "proud to be Americans again," yadda yadda, as the top sports story in the network's 25-year history. They have done an overtly pro-military "Jocks-to-GIs" series on athletes who joined up, and in 2001 they lamely chose sports ceremonies after 9/11 as the "top game" of the year, even though it was obviously not a game at all.

Perhaps the silver lining could be that if ESPN is receiving Pentagon largesse in exchange for broadcasting such propaganda that might keep the cable bill down.

Two other points regarding the NFL's opening weekend. First, I should've accompanied my picks with a big fat disclaimer that I'm not endorsing sports betting or engaging in any actual money wagers. I'm simply playing for fun and for pride (or, alternately, to embarrass myself in a public forum). Second, I'm worried that living in DC means that I'll be forced to watch a lot of Redskins and Ravens games and not much else--almost like New York being relegated to Giants and Jets in the pre-network doubleheader days. Redskins fans are so overly excited today that it's rather pathetic. If memory serves, they were excited about Steve Spurrier getting a few wins last September too.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Already in Midseason Form

Looks like I'm already 0-2 picking NFL games this season. As Gregg Easterbrook would say, these predictions are guaranteed to be wrong!

The first Sunday of the NFL season is like Christmas morning, I'm so pumped. I feel like I just watched one of those Under Armour commercials and I could go run through a brick wall. I'm also looking forward to the end of all of these optimistic team preview puff-pieces, where they try to convince you that each of the 32 teams could go to the Super Bowl. Today begins the journey away from Lake Wobegon in earnest.

That said, I'll throw out these picks before the games kick off. Since the selecting seems not to be going so well, I may focus on snarky remarks and observations after the fact this season--to be determined. (The hairpiece is telling me to follow the Caesar's line today.)

Pittsburgh (-3.5) over Oakland
Washington (-2.5) over Tampa Bay
Baltimore (-3.5) over Cleveland
Jacksonville (-3) over Buffalo
New York Jets (-5.5) over Cincinnati
Chicago (-1.5) over Detroit
Arizona (+11) over St. Louis (I'm picking them to cover, not to win)
New Orleans (+2.5) over Seattle (I'll take the Saints outright)
Houston (-4.5) over San Diego
New York Giants (+9) over Philadelphia (Giants to cover but lose game)
Minnesota (-6) over Dallas
Atlanta (-3) over San Francisco
Kansas City (+3) over Denver
Carolina (-3) over Green Bay

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Gore Wins It in Florida

If only that had been the storyline four years ago.

The reference, instead, is to Miami running back Frank Gore's game-winning touchdown in overtime earlier tonight. Florida State must have played the most pathetic overtime I've ever seen in a collge football game, and Chris Rix, the Seminoles' QB, has somehow now managed to lose to Miami five times in his college career.

Two questions I wanted answered by the broadcasters tonight: is the Moss guy who caught the TD for Miami late in regulation related to Santana Moss (he must be)? And what's up with Bobby Bowden being an alum of Howard? Was it not a black school way back in the day, or has Bobby Bowden got the same skin disease as Michael Jackson?

It's a crazy 24 hours of football in south Florida as the Dolphins will be playing tomorrow in a game moved up on account of the approaching hurricane (insert pun on the University of Miami nickname here). Perhaps it's not too late for the Fish to get Frank Gore in uniform, given the void left by Ricky Williams?

On Williams for a second, I think a lot of people have given him a bad rap about quitting the NFL basically so he can smoke pot. He's not your typical hippie--most such guys can't run for 1800 yards in an NFL season--and remember, Williams suffers from a social anxiety disorder. I'm sure he's tried legal drugs for that, but it's entirely possible weed is the most effective way for him to balance things out. Plus, this way he'll be able to walk when he's a 50-year-old man, which is always nice, and he's got plenty of money already, so why not quit? Anything that hurts the Dolphins is something I'm in favor of, not that Miami was ever able to make the playoffs with Ricky either.

All that said, though, I'm going counterintuitive with a Miami pick to beat Tennessee on Saturday afternoon. I doubt the Titan offense's ability to do much of anything versus the Miami D, and that should let the incompetent Dolphins' offense be enough. Miami managed to win games back when they had no Ricky Williams or David Boston a few years ago, and I think they'll still be decent this year too, while Tennessee is looking rather long in the tooth. They lack weapons with the loss of Tyrone Calico and the retirement of Frank Wycheck. To recap then:

Pick: Dolphins

Have a happy Terrorism Memorial Day everyone!

Friday, September 10, 2004

I'm a social liberal, but...

Adam G just made me laugh, so I pass on the link. He quotes a few Boston-area bloggers on some rather disturbing low-rise pants sightings. Now, I'm quite permissive on letting people do whatever they want in their personal lives--go have a drug-fueled orgy this weekend and see if I care--but this all seems a bit much to me, as I've had similar experiences out and about.

While I have an appreciation of the female form, it just throws me off to see some woman falling out of her clothes when I'm heading to the post office, so please, don't be that woman (you're exempted if you're a Victoria's Secret model, fine). I've also noticed that the monuments have plenty of tourists from Middle America (often fatties), and in the crowd there are always some 15-year-old girls dressed in Britney Spears outfits. Seeing that makes me feel dirty, so parents, please try exerting some control here too.

Vegas Knows All

What was the point spread in tonight's Patriots-Colts game? New England by 3. What was the final score? New England 27, Indianapolis 24. Trying to pick against the spread is futile.

George Bush Covers U2

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Desperate Housewives

Does that show look great or what? I'm afraid of what I might find if I Google that phrase...

Football Time

What do you know, Blogger appears to be publishing again! I better take advantage of this rare window of time when I can post and write up a few thoughts on the Patriots opening defense of their Super Bowl title tonight.

Keeping track of all of the Boston sports news can be difficult, so let me once again put in a plug for the indispensable Bruce Allen of Boston Sports Media Watch who today covers the Pats opener and surging Red Sox.

Regardless of what occurs tonight, the result will not matter that much, and we need to keep this in perspective. The Patriots lost last year's season opener, 31-0, looking totally inept. Two years ago, when they similarly began defense of a Super Bowl title in a nationally televised home game against the team they vanquished in the AFC championship game the previous winter, the Pats absolutely crushed Pittsburgh, and everyone was giddy. That season ended with the team missing the playoffs. Three years ago, the team lost the opener at lowly Cincinnati, and of course they went on to take the championship following Drew Bledsoe's improbably being supplanted by Tom Brady.

So do we root for the Patriots to lose or suffer devastating injuries to starting players? No, we don't do that, we just should keep in mind that even if those things happen, there can still be a happy ending. Let's just rejoice that there's football to watch on the TV again.

If I'm motivated to do so, I may have some additional thoughts on the NFL Kickoff Weekend (TM) later tonight or tomorrow. Don't forget the silly concert the league is putting on before the game starts tonight, featuring all sorts of precautions to prevent another wardrobe malfunction. After all, I usually get pumped for watching a football game by listening to Elton John music, don't you?

UPDATE: Oh yes, the pick. The Patriots are a three-point favorite. They seemed kinda weak in the preseason, and I think the Colts will be ready to take it to them. It's no blight on the whole season, I just think Indy wins outright tonight. (I may do picks against the spread this year, now that I've got a toupee and started moonlighting as a lounge singer.)

Bush and the National Guard, One More Time

Good God, these campaign controversies keep appearing like bad pennies. I suppose in the wake of the Swift Boat ads and the four-day attack ad against Kerry in NYC last week, the rationale is that the only way to contest this election is by wading into the muck. I'm aware of the ends-justify-the-means argument, and I agree that if this is what it takes to get a president who is serious about pursuing universal healthcare, I'll get behind it. That doesn't mean I have to like it though, and I'll never be able to take part in such tawdriness with a smile on my face. See the other blogs for gleeful parsing of Bush's records and such, I'll refrain from that here.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


So obviously I forgot about the Miracle on Ice in predicting what would top the ESPN25 lists. It was before my time, of course, though I should have realized ESPN would go the patriotic route.

The real head scratcher on the list of top moments is Muhammad Ali lighting the Olympic flame at #8. I also think Dale Earnhardt is nowhere near deserving of #6 for killing himself by crashing into a wall, but that's my anti-NASCAR bias typing.

On an unrelated note, Blogger is now publishing again, and a few posts I wrote last night have now magically appeared on the page below.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Kerry Quotes Inconsistency?

By now you must know about what John Kerry said yesterday:

Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry on Monday called the invasion of Iraq "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time" and said his goal was to withdraw U.S. troops in a first White House term.

But then today, Kerry had a much different message when the US death toll in Iraq hit 1000:

"Today marks a tragic milestone in the war in Iraq; more than 1,000 of America's sons and daughters have now given their lives on behalf of their country, on behalf of freedom, the war on terror," Kerry said as he arrived in Cincinnati on a campaign stop.

So was the Iraq war the wrong war to fight, or are deaths there in the service of freedom and the war on terror? I know he doesn't want to get up and say that the 1,00 soldiers died for nothing, but at the same time there has to be some care taken with the language so as not to put out such contradictions from one day to the next.

Answers for Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager is fed up with Muslims in the wake of the Russian schhol massacre:

With the psychopathic cruelty at a Russian elementary school, have we reached the point where people of goodwill can ask serious questions about Muslims and Islam? Or are any challenging questions still to be dismissed as "Muslim bashing" or, even more absurdly, "racist," as if religion were a race?

The truth is that everyone with a conscience has questions about Muslims and Islam. But the most powerful religion in America, the religion of tolerance, has rendered it almost impossible to ask any such questions. Most people are so afraid of being branded intolerant that the most natural and goodhearted questions are only posed by the handful who have the courage to do so (usually conservative Christians).

Who knew that conservative Christians were actually the most courageous Americans?

At the end, Prager has a few questions for folks like me:

And while posing questions, here are two for liberals: Why are almost the only people asking these questions aloud conservative and religious? Where are you when it comes to acknowledging evil?

1) You'll ultimately have to ask the conservative and religious people for their thoughts on this one, though I can offer my guesses about what motivations they may have: evangelism, self-righteousness, eschatology, and other generally unsavory things.

2) I see no point in ranting on about how the perpetrators of terrorist atrocities are "evil." That does not seem overly useful in solving the actual problem (it is useful, however, in using as a club against your political opponents for not standing up strongly enough against external enemies). Painting with overly broad strokes about religious groups doesn't much help either; such an approach fails to focus on those particular people within Islam who are responsible for atrocities, and success requires isolating such particularities when Islam has a billion adherents worldwide. Furthermore, a response that is targeted against "Islam" risks inflaming the much larger segment of moderate Muslims who would not otherwise hate America or resort to terrorism.

Some people who haven't shied away from calling Islam evil are Billy Graham's son and General William Boykin. I think fostering an attitude among the American public that Islam is evil on the whole is a bad idea also because at worst it can make the American public insensitive to the deaths of innocent Muslims in our wars ostensibly aimed at stamping out terrorism (as has been the case with civilian deaths in Iraq).

MORE: Forgot to link to this post--see the first two comments.

Ginning up US sentiment against Muslims isn't exactly needed right now, with incidents like this one forming a disturbing pattern. If you still feel like expressing your anger, though, you've got plenty of company on the web.

The "Madman" Line

One of Bush's lines that really bugs me is that he could've taken "the word of a madman" or decided to "defend America" by invading Iraq. Given that choice, he'll defend America every time. It's a mainstay of the stump speech, and it made its way into Bush's convention speech too:

Do I forget the lessons of September 11th and take the word of a madman, or do I take action to defend our country? Faced with that choice, I will defend America every time.

This is an effort to marginalize war opponents as people who somehow found Saddam Hussein trustworthy--those idiots!

In fact, people who didn't want to go to war instead preferred continuing the weapons inspections, and the idea of inspecting someone strongly suggests a lack of trust. The Republicans like to dismiss the inspections as useless, as Dick Cheney has.

This is all by way of an article in this summer's Foreign Affairs entitled "Containing Iraq: Sanctions Worked."

The failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has prompted much handwringing over the problems with prewar intelligence. Too little attention has been paid, however, to the flip slide of the picture: that the much-maligned UN-enforced sanctions regime actually worked. Contrary to what critics have said, we now know that containment helped destroy Saddam Hussein's war machine and his capacity to produce weapons.

If there's been much discussion of this article in the blogosphere or the larger media, I've missed it, and it would be nice if someone could locate a full text version of the article (only a 500-word preview is online at the FA site). Maybe it's not been a big deal since related issues have been hashed out so many times?

I've been meaning to post that for a little but since I think that issue goes right to the heart of whether Bush made the right call on invasion. Of course, Kerry has twisted himself in such a pretzel that he can't make much use of it, but it might be helpful for consistent war opponents like me to use as evidence in debates.

OK, enough of that. If you didn't read Atrios over the long weekend, don't miss this video clip.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Lowe Never Made a "Vulgar Gesture"

Gordon Edes buys into the Oakland storyline a bit too much this morning:

Derek Lowe doesn't expect to pass unnoticed on the Red Sox' first trip back to Oakland, Calif., since his dramatic save in Game 5 of their division series last October -- and his subsequent vulgar gesture toward the A's dugout immediately after the final out.

To review, what Lowe did was simulate a cowboy putting a gun back in its holster on his belt. Because he made a rapid hand movement near his groin area, some people thought he was pretending to touch himself, I guess. Why you would celebrate a playoff-clinching victory by faux-masturbating in the direction of your vanquished opponent, I've never been clear.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Whiff of Desperation

I think the midnight press conference was a bad idea by Kerry/Edwards. And then to top it off, Kerry inaccurately announced that the Red Sox had cut the Yankees lead to 2.5 games tonight. This got me excited, so I checked the scoreboard, and both the Red Sox and Yankees won tonight, leaving the lead at 3.5 games. Stop talking about baseball, please, Senator Kerry!

The employment report is out before the markets open in the morning, and some bad numbers could do a lot to steal Bush's thunder--we shall see.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Damn, Bush Was Good

You know if I'm finding a speech by George W. Bush emotionally affecting, he's done something rather remarkable.

Yes, maybe he overdid the play to emotion to some degree. And he spoke for a really long time. And the first half of the speech might have lost some viewers in the policy details. And he basically said that he wants to cut federal spending, make tax cuts permanent, and somehow expand social programs at the same time.

But most voters will only care about the rhetoric, and that was freaking brilliant. Now I need a stiff drink.

Kerry Sucks

Kerry Healey, that is, the lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, who giggled through a series of false attacks on John Kerry last night--watch it here! (I guess Jane Swift wasn't available.) She notes that John Kerry doesn't talk much about the time when he was lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. Maybe that's because he only held that job for two years, and maybe it's also because lieutenant governor is a nothing job, as evidenced by the fact that Healey holds it today.

Ben got to Willard Mitt already.

Lester Maddox

Wow, David Gergen wasn't boring for once! He said on CNN that Zell Miller got his start working for Lester Maddox (unrepentant racist gov of GA), and that tonight he ended his career sounding like Maddox with the hate he was spewing.

One nice pic of Zell before I go.

I was looking for the one of Zell shaking hands with Bush 41 amicably, which was interesting given what Miller said about the first Bush in '92 ("He doesn't get it!" etc.).

How I Turned Around the Red Sox

Clearly, the key to the Red Sox turnaround has been my moving away from the Boston area. Ever since I came to DC, they've been on fire. I hope the team keeps this in mind when they're distributing World Series rings.

I don't know if I've ever been so happy to see ESPN Wednesday night baseball. We now have the third-best record in all of baseball, and Manny Ramirez and Davod Ortiz need more MVP pub. Over the weekend, ESPN listed Ichiro, Guerrero and Sheffield as the top three AL MVP candidates--what were they thinking? It's too bad Cleveland couldn't have saved a few of those runs from last night for tonight's game in New York.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Embarrassment in Eagle County

Enough RNC for now.

The Kobecase was dismissed today, as predicted in this space a few weeks ago once the writing was on the wall.

Why did the woman accusing Kobe Bryant of rape decide now that she didn't want to go forward? You mean to tell me she didn't foresee the scrutiny that would surround the case when she accused a famous athlete of such a crime? And that she waited around a year until the eve of the trial to make this announcement?

The press conference given by the Eagle County DA was pathetic. He said that none of the rumored causes of the dismissal are true, that the prosecutors are all wonderful people, that the "victim" is a brave young woman (since there's no conviction for a crime here, I don't think the word "victim" is appropriate exactly), blah blah. That man, Mark Hurlbert, should have his career ended by tearing apart that little Colorado community for no good reason at all. And where was the apology to Kobe Bryant and his family for putting them through such hell for the last year?

We'll never know what really happened in the Colorado hotel room, now that the trial won't be getting the evidence out in the public record, but based on what has leaked out in recent months, I have come to believe that the charges against Bryant were bogus. Unfortunately, I don't think Kobe will ever get his reputation back following this incident and all of the idiots in the media who presumptively announced him guilty (a big theme in the early days of this blog last year).

TalkLeft has Kobe's apology along with the text of Hurlbert's statement to the press.

"Angry Inaccuracies by the Basketful"

That's Joe Klein's phrase describing the night at the RNC on CNN just now. He pointed out that there are some rather basic mistakes that were made, such as Dick Cheney's attributing the "Two Americas" line to Kerry when it's been John Edwards' line, in fact.

Where's Mary?

Dick Cheney seemed pretty restrained going after Kerry after Zell Miller's diatribe--maybe that was the plan, to make Dick look nice by comparison.

It was interesting that after Cheney was joined on stage by his wife, he was joined by his straight daughter with her hubby and kids. It was nice how Dick seemed so taken by the grandchildren, and it led me to wonder what he would think if Mary and her lesbian partner wanted to raise kids. Would he support them if they wanted the same joint parental rights that his straight daughter and her husband have?

Most of the attacks on Kerry are simply false, distorting votes, twisting words, etc. It's far too much disinformation all at once to address adequately. I will say, though, that one attack that I find particulary effective is Kerry's vote against the first Gulf War in 1991. Republicans should harp on that one a lot more, since I think it resonates more with people than weapons bill votes.

One more thing that is very puzzling has been the beating up on the UN. "Bush will never seek a permission slip to defend the American people," Cheney said, echoing the state of the union. So Republicans don't like the UN, we know. Why, then, did Bush bother going to the UN in the first place? He tried for a long while to get the Security Council to vote in favor of the war, as I recall. Was that just for the hell of it? Why was Bush wasting time with those ineffectual morons at the UN while Saddam could've nuked us, or whatever he was going to do?

Zell Miller is having a meltdown on MSNBC with Chris Matthews right now, by the way. Miller just challenged Matthews to a duel, I'm not kidding. Good Lord.

Out of My League

Ever seen yourself on a blogroll and think, "Jeez, how'd I get on that blogroll?" Anyway, there I am right below InstaPundit on Cursor's election coverage page. Slight difference in traffic between that site and this one.

Zell, No

This is just one of the most disgusting speeches I have ever seen. Aside from impugning the patriotism of John Kerry with all sorts of false charges, Miller simply didn't make sense in his way of looking at the world. For example:

No one should dare to even think about being the Commander in Chief of this country if he doesn't believe with all his heart that our soldiers are liberators abroad and defenders of freedom at home.

I believe that our soldiers are a bunch of men with guns who do what they're told to do by their leaders. It's up to leaders to use force properly. If force is used properly, then our troops can do good things and be liberators. If our leaders make bad decisions, our troops end up acting as oppressors. I don't see what is so damn complicated about this.

Look, US military force has been used for plenty of bad things in the past, from the Mexican War to the Spanish-American War to dropping the A-bombs on Japan to Vietnam to the current boondoggle in Iraq, where we've seen things like Abu Ghraib. We've also done lots of other good and necessary things with the powerful military we have. But if we start assuming that all military action if de facto good and honorable, then we're in trouble.

And by the way, John Kerry has shot and killed people wearing the uniform of the US military, and I don't think he did that with spitballs.

The Dick Cheney Show

First, to all the search engine hits looking for the dirty pictures of Jessica Cutler, go to The National Debate. The timing of the photo spread's release is a very Larry Flint-like move by Playboy.

Also, on the twins' awful appearance last night, Kurtz does a roundup, calling it the most bizarre thing he'd seen at a convention since McGovern accepted the '72 Dem nomination at 3am. Kurtz cites the New York Post:

The Bush twins made their national television debut last night -- with a string of weak one-liners that drew cringes from the crowd and at one point brought a soft rebuke from their grandparents. ... For much of their brief time on stage, the twins seemed to amuse themselves more than the crowd.

Andrew Sullivan actually liked it, somehow.

Anyway, it's the Dick Cheney show tonight. I haven't designed a full-fledged drinking game, but I would suggest finishing your beverage if he mentions either Halliburton, his lesbian daughter or the "frank exchange of views" he had with Patrick Leahy. I also would have a few gulps if Tricky Dick actually cracks a big smile like this one.

In case you missed them, funny convention pictures are here, here and here.

Barb and Jen

Dear God, this is painful to watch, if you haven't seen it already. It makes the lame-o efforts by Vanessa and Alexandra look great by comparison.

I guess I'm an "economic girlie man"

Who knew that pointing out facts like the increasing poverty rate qualifies me as being effeminate?

Just got in late and watched Arnold on the web video. My favorite part:

In this country, it doesn't make any difference where you were born. It doesn't make any difference who your parents were. It doesn't make any difference if you're like me and couldn't even speak English until you were in your 20s. America gave me opportunities, and my immigrant dreams came true.

I want other people to get the same chances I did, the same opportunities. And I believe they can. That's why I believe in this country, that's why I believe in this party, and that's why I believe in this president.

Or even better, here's a truncated version:

In this country, it doesn't make any difference... who your parents were ... and that's why I believe in this president.

Right then.

I'm skipping Laura 'cuz she's bound to be dull so that I can watch the twins before bed.