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Thursday, January 27, 2005

Eagles Flying High...and with Bum Wings

My God, Boston College and Illinois are the only two undefeated teams in Division 1 men's college basketball? Am I understanding this correctly?

Also, have we learned enough about the ankle of Terrell Owens yet? Please, SportsCenter, show me another diagram of where the screws were inserted, I'm fascinated. Only ten more full days of pre-Super Bowl coverage...

I have seen none of the Oscar nominees for best picture--don't you hate when that happens? One year I actually saw all five and could make informed comment on the race. This year I am reduced to saying that if I could see only one I would probably go see Sideways since it sounds the coolest. Obviously it should win then, right?

Monday, January 24, 2005


In the time before I was a sentient being, were those multi-colored curtains behind Johnny Carson considered fashionable in some way?

This is about the level of blogging you're getting from me these days.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Inaugurate This!

Yes, I'm still living, albeit rather harried of late. I do want to blog, really I do, and I will try to continue to do so.

Today was a little something they call the inauguration here in DC, as you might have heard. I was dumb in not planning ahead for how to get to go to things and I didn't quite get around into checking into details of the best way to approach the day. Even so, I had some mildly interesting experiences that I am chronicling in this blog post. It goes chronological, basically with the ceremony on the Mall in the AM and the parade in the PM, with unfortunate amounts of waiting in line discussed throughout. Enjoy.

9:30 am: I get up and get out the door--fortunately I live in the city and not all that far from the action. I definitely should've gotten myself out of bed earlier than this in retrospect, but this was a day off for me and I needed to get a little extra sleep. Plus, I was out commiserating with some fellow members of the vast left-wing conspiracy last night about what could've been and needed to sleep that off.

Most of my fellow Bush dissenters I asked about going to the inauguration last night scoffed at the notion. There was something in the Post last week about how lots of Democrats were getting out of town for the week, even. I still subscribe to the naive notion that this is a historical event worth witnessing, regardless of my feelings about the president. The president is still the president. While it would have been nice to see Kerry inaugurated instead, that's not my motivation in having gone to see the events.

One guy I met last night procured himself a ticket through Rep. Bob Matsui's office. Who would've thought to snatch up the remaining tickets that were allocated to the office of the congressman who just recently died? That was a stroke of genius on his part. I, on the other hand, didn't realize that senators and congressmen were the channels for getting such tickets until it was too late. I would have to submit to being herded along with the other peons.

10:00 am: Walking down through Northwest DC it's a little eerie how there are big military humvees sitting on every block. I get harassed by power-tripping security personnel for the first time on the day over by the White House, where I was simply walking down the sidewalk on Constitution Ave. Bad start, but I have to say I didn't encounter too many other power-drunk guys in uniform on my travels. Lots of buses fly by, led by vehicles with sirens, traffic lights notwithstanding. Finally, I get to cross.

10:15 am: The section of the Mall across the street from the Washington Monument is definitely closed off, as I'm told by a cop sitting in a van. I proceed further on south to Independence Avenue where there seem to be more people. Since Smithsonian Metro is closed, many people are coming in through L'Enfant Plaza I guess. There are some vendors with tacky-looking inaugural buttons and t-shirts, and I decline to make a purchase. The only protester I see bears a "Protect Your Fetus--We Need It For War" poster. I skipped the protests that were going on that morning in other parts of the city. Been there, done that (I had my fill at the DNC).

10:30 am: Whoa, big line of people at the corner of 7th Street and Independence. This, I'm told by a volunteer in a yellow vest, is a public entrance to a section of the Mall where the ceremony can be viewed from a distance. The people who get to be closer and really see stuff got tickets in advance--oh well. I get in line, but seeing it is immensely long and not moving so fast, I proceed to be a bastard and sneak up it (one might say that I "cut"), pretending to be a normal pedestrian. The line, I should add, was very free-form and unregulated by authorities. Had I not done this, I would have definitely missed the ceremony waiting to go through the security check.

11:00 am: Ah, getting closer, as I see the white tent where the patdowns occur ahead of me, with only a thousand or so of my closest friends packed between me and it. As the slow shuffle forward drags on, I am somewhat concerned that I'll miss the good stuff. By some act of God, an official asking for "men who are alone" calls this out near me, I excitedly raise my hand, and I'm plucked from the mass of humanity to be zipped through the side. It helped to be on my own since there were lots of school groups that had to stay together. Many of these people were from warmer states and about every other comment overheard in line was a complaint about how cold it was.

11:20 am: I get felt up by a security screener and then I'm let through to the Mall. I was hoping to get closer, but I quickly realize that there's a fence up along 4th Street. Add in the pool of water and the other stuff on the West End of the Capitol, that puts me the equivalent of about five or six city blocks from where Bush was going to be speaking. Yeah, not very close, I know. I could discern the speaking platform up there, though not anything more than a speck of a person standing on it. Some smart people brought binoculars (another tip for '09). There was also a camera stand obstructing a view of the speaking platform from that distance.

Fortunately, there are a few big screens set up and audio on loudspeakers. In effect, I'm watching the thing on TV while standing out in the cold and able to look at the Capitol Building in the distance. Whatever.

MSNBC has a setup on this stretch of the Mall, with the forms of Chris Matthews, Ron Reagan, and other pundits babbling on behind the glass. There's also a platform for the other TV types to do stand-ups with the backdrop.

The three-block piece of the Mall has plenty of people but is nowhere near full. If they didn't have such a bottleneck at the security gate, they could have let more of the poor SOBs in the line in to watch. I'm sure plenty of them missed it, including some school kids who probably have to write a paper about the experience for civics class.

11:30 am: You all watched the ceremony on TV or saw clips. Nice touch having Trent Lott emcee! Also, Hastert really should have practiced the oath before trying to go administer it. It was kinda embarrassing how Cheney had to correct him on the wording.

One thing I will say is that I was certainly not among my people out there. These are people who solemnly bowed their heads for the invocation and said "Amen" upon its conclusion. I, by contrast, lamented to myself the religious overtones to what I believe should be a secular event. Then when Bush arrives they all cheer like he's a rock star while I stand mute, observing. They really all do seem to be Bush supporters up from the Sun Belt where they've never had winter weather this bad. I don't think anyone from Washington, DC, was out there, and I was probably the only Democrat too, except for a few people who were up against the 4th street fence with some sign about stolen elections (then again, they may have been anarchists, I didn't ask).

12:00 pm: Wow, Bush really thinks he's the messiah or something.

12:30 pm: With the speech over, I'm taking off, now realizing I'll have to contend with big crowds to get lunch and get to the parade.

12:35 pm: Damn, I forgot how nasty port-o-potties are.

1:00 pm: After weaving through about a thousand school groups to get a slice of pizza at the Natural History Museum, I get in line at the 12th Street entrance to the parade route. The line is really long, but it will have to move, right?

2:00 pm: OK, across Constitution Avenue, tents in sight. The parade leaves 4th Street at 2:30, I should be in to see the motorcade pass, right?

3:00 pm: Dammit, I'm close enough to see through the tent a bit as other people lining the parade route clap for the passing motorcade. They must have one retarded person in that tent doing all of the security checks, Jesus. It's colder now than in the morning, and even though it's probably around 30 or so, I've been outside nearly six hours straight, mostly standing in place, and I'm getting rather numb.

That's correct, I never saw Bush's limo and the phalanx of security personnel/vehicles pass by in person. I don't know how exactly you are supposed to attend both the inauguration ceremony and parade--having one security perimeter for both would've been nice. The parade route opened at 9am, and I think there were some people who squatted in good parade positions all day long. I also could've skipped lunch, but then I would've been starving and that would've sucked. The best move would've been sticking a sandwich in my pocket before leaving home in the morning (another tip for '09) and running like hell from the ceremony to the parade gates.

3:50 pm: Finally I get through the screening tent. For some reason I was felt up by one guy, then I had to empty my pockets contents out onto a table for another guy, who flipped open my phone to see that it was on, and then I got felt up by yet another serious-looking gentleman. No gay marriage, guys, sorry!

4:00 pm-5:30 pm, The Parade: I ask one of the ubiquitous security guards how much of the parade I've missed. He tells me that the motorcade took a while but most of the state stuff is still to come. There are literally security personnel standing on both sides of the parade route every few feet, across the entire 1.8-mile route, presumably. That's a lot of security, good lord. If we could've only had a few more of them helping out at the entrance bottlenecks...

While missing the president's limo was disappointing, I was pleasantly surprised by the parade. I'm not sure how much of the random parade floats, bands, flag-wavers and baton-twirlers you would've seen on TV at this point. I do heartily recommend going to see them in person if you ever get a chance.

Whenever I see parades like this (Macy's Thanksgiving, Tournament of Roses, etc.), I'm reminded of just how enormous a country the United States is. There are all of these big bands and organizations marching along holding banners saying they are from towns I have never heard of in my life. It's rather amazing.

The unsung heroes of the parade are the horse poop collectors. There are lots of horses involved in this thing, and behind all of the sets of horses there are a few guys trailing, one wheeling a trash barrel and another one or two with shovels. I make a point of applauding all of the waste disposal workers who pass by.

For some reason, when I first get there I see there is some horse manure lying right on the edge of the parade path that hasn't been picked up yet. And here comes a marching band! Oh no! Many others in the crowd also notice the impending disaster, and we gasp in excitement as drummers and trombone players narrowly miss putting their foot in it. Then, some poor guy steps right in the crap, and the crowd lets out an "Ooh!"

But there's still some left over, and here come some girls twirling flags! The highlight of the day, which has me laughing again as I try to type this up, was one girl who had the misfortune of having to do her dance-and-twirl manuever right in the immediate vecinity of the horse feces. Understandably, she lost her concentration on the flag due to the additional concern about where she was steping--and she ends up dropping the flag right in the stuff! Oh, the humanity!

OK, enough crap stories, let's discuss skimpy outfits instead. There were some young women who did not plan for the January weather, you could say. There were a few groups of females with short skirts that I had some doubts would've passed muster with the moral values crowd. The Auburn and Tennessee bands also featured some pretty young things marching in what were basically one-piece bathing suits. I wasn't opposed, mind you, I was just happy that I was allowed to wear my winter coat, hat and gloves.

Auburn and Tennessee were among the several big marching bands I got to see. Ohio State was also represented, and Texas A&M was excellent. I think they must have had the entire student population of the Virginia Military Institute marching too. And did you know that the Coast Guard Academy has a marching band? And the Merchant Marine does too? You learn new things every day.

Is there a rule that marching bands all have to wear ridiculous-looking costumes? Again, I'm not opposed, I was just wondering as I saw the umpteenth funny-looking garish get-up with feathers and tassels pass me by. Also, am I the only one whose reaction to seeing baton tossers is to think "Drop it, drop it!"? In that context, I have to give a shout-out to the girl from some high school in New Mexico who dropped her baton not once, not twice, but three times while within my sight. I was watching her closely for #4, but by then she wasn't tossing the thing too high any more. Not that I have any real talents myself--I think if I'd been in a marching band in school, I would've been one of the people who carry the banner with the school name at the front. That must be the job they give the morons who can't do anything else.

I could write about this all night, but I'll cut it off by saying my favorite group in the parade was from Couer d'Alene, Idaho. For reasons I could not entirely figure out, there were women in these shiny dresses pushing shopping carts in a synchronized pattern. They were wearing gift baskets of food on their heads, and the foods in the bags included items like Ruffles potato chips. I think the point was that Idaho grows potatoes, yet they were also sporting items like boxes of cereal on their heads and affixed to the dresses. I was also so fixated on the food items and shopping carts, not to mention the peppy dance music, that only at the end did I realize there were a few men in drag. Not sure if there were more cross-dressers toward the front. As before, the moral-values crew may not have approved.

If you're still reading, I'm impressed. The bottom line from my day is that I dealt with the inconveniences to get some limited access to the pageantry. If I'm still in this city come '09, I will be much smarter about how I go about doing things, and if you're here then, try to remember some of what I wrote in planning your inaugural experience. Let's hope the authorities can spend the next four years figuring out a way to hold an event like this that is both secure and accessible to the general public too.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

NFL Divisional Playoff Picks

Steelers, Eagles, Falcons and ... Colts. Yes, the Patriots reign is going to end, I'm afraid. If Belichick finds a way to stop the most prolific passing game in league history without his two starting cornerbacks, he should just be enshrined in Canton now. I have a feeling the personnel issues will be too much to overcome.

This is becoming a crappy blog again, due to my other engagements. I'll try to do better.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Laser Pointers of Mass Destruction

Since WMDs were not actually in Iraq (now they tell us!), it's time to worry about a new threat: lasers aimed at airplanes. I enjoyed the explanation for the recent incident that made headlines:

A New Jersey man was arrested and charged last week for aiming a green laser at a small jet flying over his home near Teterboro Airport.

The man, David Banach of Parsippany, said he had been using the device to point at the stars from his back yard.

That type laser pointer, which sells for $119, is the most powerful that can be used in a public place without government regulation, according to Bigha, the company that manufactures it. It produces a bright green beam that can be seen up to 25,000 feet away, and is used by bird watchers, astronomers and lecturers to point out faraway objects.

The poor dork was looking at the sky and he ends up getting in all the papers.

Francis-Mobley Break-Up

Forget Brad and Jen, the NBA has recently witnessed the separation of Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley after Mobley was traded to Sacramento Monday:

But Francis took the departure of his backcourt partner hard.

"I can't put it into words," he said. "Playing with a guy, living with a guy, just knowing that every day when I wake up that's something I can count on, that I'm going to be in practice or in a game with Cuttino.

"Him not being here is going to be tough for me. I don't know what I'm going to wake up for."

Wake up for? Hmm, maybe Francis and Mobley were even closer than everyone knew... (Some variant of this was undoubtedly featured on many basketball sites yesterday.)

Don King Sues ESPN for $2.5 Billion

That's billion with a b.

Not sure how he got that dollar figure exactly, though the AP writer, Bob Gloster, might want to be careful:

King, wearing a garish American flag tie and two flag lapel pins, then quietly stepped back and let lawyer Willie Gary answer questions.

How dare he call the necktie garish! Sounds like another billion dollars to me.

I will stop before I insult Don King here, lest I get sued myself. Note that Don King is a Bush supporter, something the RNC used a little in the election. They must have been proud to have the endorsement of such a great stateman (no sarcasm there, I assure you, Mr. King).

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

15 Days Later

In case you're not totally sick of tsunami stories, there's an excellent one from another survivor who was just rescued:

A tsunami survivor says he drifted on the Indian Ocean for two weeks, living on coconuts that he prised open with his teeth while floating on pieces of wood, a broken boat and, finally, a fishing raft.

Crazy stuff, and far more interesting than the several self-consciously deep pieces on how religious people are trying to come to grips with this all. Bad storms happen kids, OK?

I'll leave the extensive Chertoff nitpicking to others, only to add that Rush makes a good point:

It was just last week that Newsweek ran this story about how lovey-dovey President Bush and President Clinton have become. They said they've grown surprisingly warm and personal. Well, I don't know how you can say that when they appointed Chertoff.

If Chertoff goes after Al Qaeda with the fervor he went after the Clintons in Whitewater, then we should be OK. Still, it will help to go after people who are real threats, unlike in the past:

As an assistant attorney general in the months after the attacks, Chertoff helped oversee the detention of 762 foreign nationals for immigration violations; none of them was charged with terrorism-related crimes.

With a record like that, no wonder he gets a promotion, right?

Should be interesting to see how much resistance the nomination gets. I can't imagine he'll have much trouble considering he was easily confirmed for a federal judgeship. Other interesting bio bit: Chertoff clerked for William Brennan once upon a time. Sounds like his views may have evolved (or better devolved) since then.

He's not all bad, though, based on this:

Chertoff fought within the administration to keep accused Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui in the criminal justice system rather than having him declared an "enemy combatant" and tried before a military tribunal.

So maybe there's hope for him yet.

Paying for the Inaugural

DC is getting screwed:

D.C. officials said yesterday that the Bush administration is refusing to reimburse the District for most of the costs associated with next week's inauguration, breaking with precedent and forcing the city to divert $11.9 million from homeland security projects.

Let's recall that Kerry beat Bush in DC, 90% to 9%. As with many actions of the current administration, I ask the following: incompetence or malevolence? In case you think this is all partisan hooey, check this:

A spokesman for Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, which oversees the District, agreed with the mayor's stance. He called the Bush administration's position "simply not acceptable."

As if DC residents needed another reason to throw eggs at the motorcade on January 20.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Sorry to interrupt the Dan Rather-hatred orgy

Amid all the CBS bashing, may I ask what the president actually was doing during the gap of time in his National Guard record? I have never seen this fully explained. Dan Rather, foolishly as he went about this particular report, at least was trying to find some answer to that question.

Since this is the only post I'll get out tonight, may I also ask the guy getting rescued in the California flood video on the news: why were you out in a flood not wearing any pants? I guess he lost them in the water somewhere. Maybe wearing a belt would be a good idea next time, yikes.

And finally, the Weather Channel lawsuit has nothing on Fox NFL Sunday--how do you think Jillian Barberie got that gig doing game forecasts?

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Moss Gets Randy

So Randy Moss pretended to moon the crowd after a touchdown, so what? I could understand the outrage if he had actually mooned the Green Bay fans, but he didn't do that. And I was washing dishes while this happened so I never got to see it on video (there were no replays, naturally).

They made it sound worse than it was, I think, on ESPN just now by saying Moss went over to the goal post and then not elaborating on what followed. I was imagining Moss grinding his pelvis into the padding perhaps, which I agree probably wouldn't have been so family-friendly.

All in all, though, I'm more on the side of those who complain about NFL standing for No Fun League. It's an emotional game, guys should be allowed to celebrate.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Super Bowl Pick

I guess I better post this before the playoffs get going, so here it is.

I wrote a while back that the Patriots desperately needed Ty Law back. Well, Law is done for the season. Optimistic as I am as a Patriots fan, even I don't see New England defeating Indianapolis with Peyton Manning working against the likes of Randall Gay and Earthwind Moreland at corner.

Steelers-Chargers should be a hell of a game. I wouldn't be shocked to see the Patriots or Chargers come out of the AFC, but in the end the Steelers were too good on both sides of the ball to ignore. I like how they can run people over, they have a strong receiving corps, and they are good against the run in the cold weather.

So who plays the Steelers in the Super Bowl? A few years back there was similarly no strong contender from the NFC (sorry Philly, T.O. was important). Under those circumstances, I just went with the home teams and correctly had the Giants in the Super Bowl (I was not so clairvoyant about the Ravens, unfortunately). I see this as a similar year. No one in the NFC is that much better than anyone else. The bye is a big advantage, and I think Atlanta and the Eagles get to the conference championship.

Vick might put on a show, and the Falcons defense might have a chance of shutting down an Owens-less Philadelphia offense. An Atlanta team won the NFC championship on the road a few years ago, but that was up in the Minnesota dome. A dome team doesn't do this outdoors on the road in January, some might say, though Tampa pulled off such a win in Philadelphia two years ago. I don't really like how Philly rested people so much the last two weeks of the year since there will definitely be some rust--Andy Reid may have overreacted to the Owens injury.

Because I have no idea, I will go with the Eagles at home, as they avoid becoming the Buffalo Bills of the NFC Championship Game. The joy will be short-lived, however, as Philly will be blown out by Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl February 6 in Jacksonville.

Enjoy the playoffs! And don't ridicule me too much when these selection prove entirely wrong!

A Little Too Friendly with the Customers

Yikes, my second naked old man post of the day:

MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) -- A Wal-Mart greeter was sacked for apparently showing too much of his friendly side to customers.

Dean L. Wooten, 65, was accused of greeting customers with a computer-generated photo of himself in which he appeared to be naked -- except for a carefully placed Wal-Mart bag -- and of telling customers that Wal-Mart was cutting costs and the sack was the company's new uniform.

The reason for the firing was supposedly that the picture was inappropriate, but I think joking about how Wal-Mart doesn't exactly provide for its employees also may have played a part.

Showing His Range

Has an actor ever been in two more different movies out at the same time as Don Cheadle, who currently stars in Hotel Rwanda and Oceans 12? That's a bit of a change of pace, I'd say.

Do they think they can get away with this stuff?

First, Armstrong Williams did a bunch of cable news interviews yesterday on how he was a paid propaganda outlet for the Bush administration. Does he really think he might salvage his career after what he has done?

Also an ad showing Mickey Rooney's backside was rejected by Fox for the Super Bowl broadcast. You can't show a naked butt on broadcast TV, obviously. Who at Airborne approved even making this commercial?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Drew Brees "Comeback"

Drew Brees won Comeback Player of the Year in the NFL. Funny, I thought he was there all along, though he certainly has played a lot better this year. The second-place finisher was Mark Fields, who returned from an absence due to cancer. Now that's a comeback (Willis McGahee would be another good choice).

Like the NBA, the NFL should separate the Most Improved Player award from Comeback Player. Most Improved can go to guys who just got a lot better, while Comeback can go to guys who had major injuries or other hardships that they overcame.

Headlines Ripped from the Headlines

Andrea Yates, whose case is one of those sensational TV things I try to avoid (she's the one who drowned her five kids), had her conviction overturned today because of a very odd reason: the prosecution implied she based the insanity defense to her crime on a Law and Order episode that never existed.

Law and Order is a show that "rips from the headlines" stories that were really in the news. Now the news is following a (made-up) Law and Order episode. Next we need a Law and Order episode on the Andrea Yates case. Then everyone's head should explode.

Ashlee Simpson, Hit Queen

Internet page hits, that is. I posted some quick mention of the talentless singer's Orange Bowl performance the other day, and somehow I've gotten hundreds of search engine hits since then. And here I am, pontificating about the state of the world while one of my least consequential posts gets all the attention. That's the lot of the obscure blogger.

Anyway, for the search engine crowd, Defamer is doing lots of coverage on the Simpson story.

Blog Lutz

GM's Bob Lutz has started a blog on the auto industry (via Jeff Jarvis). Definitely promising, I just hope he can be candid and won't have every word filtered through the PR department so that it's devoid of anything interesting.

Wading into a cap controversy

Wade Boggs will wear a Red Sox cap in the Hall od Fame after all.

Published reports for years indicated that Boggs' final contract with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays contained a clause saying he would request the Rays logo be emblazoned on his cap.

But the Hall changed its cap rules in 2001 — two years after Boggs retired — reserving the final right of choice for the Museum.

No matter, Boggs said.

"Under no circumstances did I agree with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays that I was going in as a Devil Ray," said Boggs, who will be enshrined with Sandberg in Cooperstown July 31. "I did not make a decision or accept money from any other team in exchange for saying what team I would represent in the Hall."

Is there any way to verify this? Boggs said in an interview the other day that Jose Canseco did cut such a deal with the D-Rays, and that the team brought up the issue in negotiations with him too. The Hall has now put the kibosh on all of that.

Shorter Gonzales Hearing

Or as Scrappleface puts it:

Alberto Gonzales, President Bush's Attorney General nominee, told the Senate Judiciary Committee today that he would state only his name, rank, date of birth and Air Force serial number, which is all that is required under the terms of the Geneva Conventions.

Via InstaPundit. And no, I didn't expect Gonzales to be forthcoming exactly, and I don't really blame him either. This is how the confirmation game is played.

I am not one of the torture memo jocks, and I don't know if this confirmation hearing is the ideal way to take a stand on the issue. But it is probably the only chance Democrats have to raise this stuff--and certainly the most visible--so there it is.

An interesting question that has come out of this is when is it OK to oppose a cabinet nominee of a recently elected president? Beyond the mortal sin of employing an illegal alien for domestic work, that is. Maybe a complete lack of qualifications would be grounds for opposition. But presumably the people have spoken, and they don't care about the torture stuff since Bush was reelected. When should the opposition party let things go, and when should they keep fighting?

Also see eRobin's post on the ghost of confirmation hearings past.

We Are All Torturers Now

Mark Danner in the New York Times:

Mr. Gonzales is unfit because the slow river of litigation is certain to bring before the next attorney general a raft of torture cases that challenge the very policies that he personally helped devise and put into practice. He is unfit because, while the attorney general is charged with upholding the law, the documents show that as White House counsel, Mr. Gonzales, in the matter of torture, helped his client to concoct strategies to circumvent it. And he is unfit, finally, because he has rightly become the symbol of the United States' fateful departure from a body of settled international law and human rights practice for which the country claims to stand.

You can watch the Gonzales hearings at C-SPAN's web site and marvel at a Hispanic guy speaking with a Texas accent.

Romney 2008

Someone's selling Mitt Romney for President gear, as Ben notices today. As the governor recently told the Boston Globe, "From now on, it's me, me, me." From now on? What does he think the last two years have been about?

Worst NFL Wild Card Game Ever

I'm referring to Seattle-St. Louis, the Saturday NFC playoff contest. Quite literally, two opposing playoff teams have never had a worse combined winning percentage.

Just like Vikings-Packers, this is an intra-divisional matchup in which the teams have played twice already this season. The Rams won both, though this game will be at Seattle. Since my wild card weekend prognostication rules dictate that I pick one road team out of the four games, I think I'll go with the Rams again here.

Both teams have been pretty bad from what I've seen. I saw St. Louis get smacked around at home to the tune of 40 points by a Patriots team coming off its loss in Pittsburgh the previous week. Seattle looked even worse in the games I saw, namely the Monday Night collapse against the Cowboys and the blowout loss to the Jets the week before Christmas. You've heard the "NFC Sucks" routine by now.

Neither team has a chance in hell of beating Philly or Atlanta the following week, so this game may not be worth paying much attention to anyway.

The AFC games are probably less competitive this weekend, but still worth monitoring since Indy and San Diego are legit contenders. I'll take both the Colts and Chargers as well as the points. (The current lines favor Seattle by 4, San Diego by 7 and Indy by 10).

I'm liking the NYT sports coverage lately for some reason, including this piece on LaDainian Tomlinson. It turns out San Diego still doesn't have a mayor after a disputed election outcome from November--take that Washington governor's race!--and now fans want LT to run the city. The Chargers held up well in an intense regular-season game at the Colts a few weeks back, so I foresee playoff inexperience being no problem.

Also at the Times, Richard Sandomir notes the weak CBS broadcast of Rams-Jets last week. Unfortunately, Enberg and Dierdorf are like this ever game I see them do, with Dierdorf not knowing when to stop running his mouth and Enberg getting confused and senile. I especially liked when Dierdorf declared the Rams NFC West champions, even though they weren't. And on the discussion of the Jets' knowledge that the Bills had lost and they were in the playoffs regardless of the outcome, wouldn't it have been nuts if they had put Quincy Carter in for overtime?

In response to accusations of backing into the postseason, Herm Edwards must be off his meds again--see the quotes for what I'm referring to (you really have to see the video of him saying this stuff). Somehow he's an effective coach in spite of the repeated bizarre public statements.

Absolutely no one thinks the Colts might lose. The Broncos must feel unlucky to have to go to Indy for a wild-card game again since they're a strong running team that is built to move the ball outdoors in cold weather, and might have a shot somewhere else, but instead they end up having to play these indoor shoot-outs relying on the arm of Jake Plummer. Good luck. Colts-Pats the following weekend should be excellent.

Lack of TV Weatherpersons' Accountability

Boston got snow today in spite of what the people on TV forecast. The same thing happens every winter, it seems, and even the day-after-Xmas storm was far underestimated by the local meteorologists. What amazes me about these instances is that when you tune in later that night, there's never any apology or admission of having had the day's forecast wrong. We need some kind of TV weather forecaster accuracy tracker to know who we can trust.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Saletan Blogs Science

Will Saletan, the chief political writer at Slate, announces today he's starting a science blog on the Slate site. Could this be a signal of the new direction Slate is headed after being sold by Microsoft to the Washington Post Company? The format is a lot like the "The Week/The Spin" items Slate used to publish a few years ago.

Jon Stewart Wins

Crossfire is folding as Tucker Carlson departs CNN (via Wonkette).

Even better from Wonkette today, though, is this item on a Craigslist posting entitled "Bang on a Congressman's Desk", the text of which I'll reprint below since the posting will likely be deleted soon:

Have you ever had a kinky fantasy of having sex on a powerful man's desk? I work for a US congressman and I'd like to bend you over his desk and make you scream. Hope the cleaning crew doesn't walk in on us! Respond with a picture.

Could be a hoax, but I've met a few of the people on the Hill too, and it's not out of the realm of possibility.

UPDATE: Jesse Walker writes a similar post headline and links to additional info.

"Now excuse me while I go find a life"

One of the dorkiest things I've ever found via Blogdex (and that's saying a lot): the guy who called 867-5309 in every area code. Mostly the number is disconnected, but there are a few people with lame messages, and this was my favorite:

"Hi this is Paul with Gavick and Sons Plumbing and we went into the bathroom the other day and saw Jenny's phone number on the wall and we took it and now it's our number. If you're trying to get great plumbing service then give us a call at our main number at [Number], otherwise Jenny passed away [Has to wait?].

The man's voice saying "Hi, this is Jenny" seems to have occurred to multiple people.

Christie Whitman

Her new book says the Republican Party is "dictated to by a coalition of ideological extremists." Hey, thanks for being there when it counts, Christie. With you speaking out, maybe we can hold Bush back and prevent another four years of this. Oh, wait.

Seriously, though, where has she been the last few years? I vaguely recall one NYT op-ed she penned that got minimal reaction.

In case your Britney fan club membership lapsed...

...here's Ms. Spears's latest message to her fans. While she enjoys being in front of the camera, what she really wants to do is direct.

UPDATE: Or maybe CSI has inspired her to become a forensic scientist.

The Political Hate Speech of Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby's annual column on how liberals are mean was published on the second-to-last day of '04, and in it Jacoby criticized statements by "mainstream players and pundits" on the left such as Cameron Diaz. I ignored it then because everything I wrote a year ago about Jacoby's column remains true.

Then I saw a letter in today's Globe that makes this worth blogging. The Jacoby column noted Hitler comparisons by both the left and right (before going on to say liberals are worse, naturally), and Jacoby says, "Such Nazi labeling is no less disgusting when it comes from Republicans, of course. ... Whether it comes from the right or the left, language like that is vile."

The letter writer says the following of Jacoby:

Doesn't he read his own columns?

To Jacoby, Yasser Arafat created the "vilest culture of Jew hatred since the Third Reich" and should have been "hanged for mass murder much as the Nazi chiefs were hanged." In defending that in "When hatred is necessary" (op ed, Nov. 21), he twice juxtaposed Arafat with Hitler.

Palestinians have long been exempt from Jacoby's opposition to Holocaust analogies. His condemnation of the Geneva Initiative ("Geneva is a blueprint for war, not peace," op ed, Dec. 4, 2003) argued against Israeli "appeasement" and contained at least four references to the Nazi Holocaust, including one to Hitler.

I think you lose credibillity in arguing for an end to hate speech involving Hitler analogies when you publish columns on "When hatred is necessary" and employ Hitler analogies yourself. Is it only OK to use hate speech against people Jeff Jacoby hates then? That doesn't sound like much of a stance to take.

I'll Take the Vikings

Minnesota and Green Bay played twice this season, and Green Bay won both games by scores of 34-31, both on field goals as time expired, as chance would have it. Even so, I see that Vegas favors the Packers by 6 or 6.5 depending on the casino. I really expected that line to by Green Bay by 3.

Reasons to go with Minnesota: 1) People are down on them after they lost their last game to the Redskins, and there's going to be some overreaction. 2) The Vikings dropped that three-point decision up in Green Bay earlier this year in a game they played without Randy Moss. 3) The Christmas Eve rematch in the Metrodome was won by Green Bay on the strength of two separate fourth-and-goal TDs. 4) The Vikings secondary is a weakness, and Robert Ferguson is still unlikely to play after the clothesline hit he suffered against Jacksonville a few weeks ago. 5) On the flip side of #1, there's some over-estimation of the mystique of Favre/Lambeau/cold weather. The Pack are probably overrated at home, as they recently lost to the aforementioned Jags and needed another late FG to get past the Detroit Lions, 16-13.

I'll follow up with similar posts on the other wild-card matchups as the week goes on. How bizarre is it that all four games are rematches from the regular season?

UPDATE: To be clear, I am picking the Packers to win but the Vikings to cover.

What was that about Kerry slandering Allawi?

Back when Allawi visited the US to basically campaign for George Bush a few months ago, John Kerry shot back by challenging some of Allawi's assertions. The right wingers responded by tut-tutting Kerry for questioning the credibility of the unelected leader of Iraq's interim government. Well, today we get the following paragraph on this WaPo article about the assassination of Baghdad's governor, among other things:

"The war's worse, the insurgency's worse," said a senior U.S. Embassy official in Baghdad, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to talk candidly. "This is not going to be a short fight. Nobody should think it is."

The assessment reflected a new willingness among senior Iraqi and American officials to acknowledge that large tracts of the country remain beyond the control of their combined forces. More than three months ago, interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi asserted during a visit to Washington that 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces were stable and largely peaceful. Now, in interviews, he routinely refers to the situation as "our catastrophe."

At least now that Bush has been reelected, the lying about Iraq can be scaled back a little bit, I guess.

The Sham Budget

Josh Marshall marvels at newspaper coverage that recently has said that the Bush administration plans on cutting the deficit in half as well as borrowing $2 trillion for the social security, two things that seem hard to reconcile. But not for the mendacious budgeteers of the current White House! Witness this breathtaking explanation of the bogus budget math from Sunday's NYT:

To make Mr. Bush's goal easier to reach, administration officials have decided to measure their progress against a $521 billion deficit they predicted last February rather than last year's actual shortfall of $413 billion.

By starting with the outdated projection, Mr. Bush can say he has already reduced the shortfall by about $100 billion and claim victory if the deficit falls to just $260 billion.

But White House budget planners are not stopping there. Administration officials are also invoking optimistic assumptions about rising tax revenue while excluding costs for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as trillions of dollars in costs that lie just outside Mr. Bush's five-year budget window. ...

As in past years, the budget will exclude costs for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which could reach $100 billion in 2005 and are likely to remain high for years to come. The budget is also expected to exclude Mr. Bush's goal to replace Social Security in part with a system of private savings accounts, even though administration officials concede that such a plan could require the government to borrow $2 trillion over the next decade or two.

Hey, why not just exclude defense spending, Medicare, and debt service payments while we're at it? Then I bet it would become very easy to reduce the "deficit" and claim victory, which is all that really matters, right?

To the Bush-favoring people who occasionally visit this page, I dare you to defend this budget policy. In fact, I would enjoy seeing you try. The only intellectually coherent argument I can fathom is the "deficits don't matter" line from Dick Cheney, which is plenty flawed but at least not entirely dishonest.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Hey Texas fans...

What was that about the Big 12 being better than the Pac 10? (For the record, I think the SEC and ACC were deeper conferences this year, while the Big 12 and Pac 10 both had two very strong teams.)

USC got screwed last year, when they were also the best team in the country. That program is downright scary in the offensive talent they possess, and I did pick them to win the Orange Bowl beforehand, even if I didn't blog it, just trust me.

I'm disappointed in ABC for no OJ coverage tonight, despite having a 413-minute halftime break. I did enjoy Ashlee Simpson being booed at least.

OJ in the House

OJ Simpson will be attending the Orange Bowl tonight, reports the AP:

His attorney, Yale Galanter, monitored the telephone call and wouldn't allow Simpson to say where he'll be sitting inside the stadium.

Sounds like another subplot that could, as Mike Wilbon notes today, distract from the excellent football on display.

Why Is Ashlee Simpson Still Performing on Live TV?

First, she was the west-coast co-host for the ABC New Year's Eve show, now Ashlee Simpson will be a halftime performer at tonight's Orange Bowl. In the wake of the SNL debacle, why is Simpson getting these gigs? Is she blackmailing some executive at Disney?

Tsunami Relief and Terrorism Prevention

Colin Powell now says that giving aid to the devastated region can help prevent future terrorist attacks:

"We hope that through these efforts people will see that the United States is committed to helping those who are in poverty, to those who are not able to educate their children, to those who are looking for jobs and need a country that is based on law and order," said Powell.

"We believe it is in the best interest of those countries and it's in our best interest and it dries up those pools of dissatisfaction which might give rise to terrorist activity," he said.

Sounds reasonable, but it leads to several other questions: why the slow public response when the tsunami first hit? Why the low initial aid offer, that was only later increased? And why the low overall level of US foreign aid, if the Secretary of State thinks this could be such a useful anti-terror tool? I doubt Powell is much in the loop any more with the administration; Wonkette thinks he's not even reading the memos at this point.

Bush Twins Bash

Lots of people apparently want to go to the Bush twins-hosted inaugural youth concert, which means I probably won't get to go. Damn.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Reggie Bush

Will be starting the Orage Bowl. How do you become a Heisman finalist without even being your team's starting tailback? I know he returns kicks too, but does that make him the fifth-best player in the country?

California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels

Today's item, submitted for your mockery:

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Baseball's Angels have a new name, and it's a mouthful: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The switch, which will be challenged in court by the city of Anaheim, is intended to help the team market itself to more of Southern California, attract more advertising sponsors and broadcast revenue, the team said Monday.

"We believe that the appeal in the marketplace will be broader," Angels spokesman Tim Mead said.

The city of Anaheim will file a lawsuit to block the name change and hopes to obtain a temporary restraining order in place this week, city spokesman John Nicoletti said.

Anaheim officials believe the change violates the terms of the team's 33-year lease with the city.

"It's geographically confusing and absurd," Nicoletti said. "No other professional sports franchise that I know of has two different cities in its names."

This reminds me of sports stadium names like "Invesco Field at Mile High" and "Oriole Park at Camden Yards."

Geep has a few other team name suggestions, while the MLB.com press release somehow omits the detail about the pending lawsuit (I wonder why...).

David Pinto: "They should have finished the deal and called themselves the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California!"

More mockery here, including the comment from Adam M of New York of East Hollywood asking, "How will 'Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim' work in practice? Will the standings in the paper read 'Los Angeles' or 'Anaheim'? Will the uniforms or hats read "Los Angeles" at some point?" Good questions. Considering their previous duds.

Pearly Gates, the first Angels blog I came across, headlines, "Angels announce intention to become laughing stock of American League" and writes:

Spend your money wisely, and you win games. Win games, and you build your fan base. By building your fan base, you can improve your local media contracts. ... Gimmicks are not acceptable alternatives for any of these steps. A new name, a new logo, a new uniform, or even a new stadium isn't going to add to your fan base, and it's certainly not going to make a television station pay any more for your product.

Remember, this is a team barely two years removed from a World Series championship. Add this to the potential move of the 2003 champion Marlins because of the inability to get a new stadium deal and you see that baseball might be in a bit of trouble.

"Oh, and next Friday... is Hawaiian shirt day"

The legal significance of this story isn't really the reason I'm posting the link. I'm posting because it made me laugh, naturally.

A court in California ruled that the LA city council has to pay attention when people come before them to argue for things at public hearings. The suit was filed by a strip club owner who was asking for permission to stay open past 2am:

The Blue Zebra's lawyer, Roger Jon Diamond, made a videotape of the June 13, 2003, public hearing because he believed he would get little attention from the Council.

At the strip club hearing - which also was Hawaiian Shirt Day for the Council - few of the brightly dressed members appeared to pay attention. One paced behind his chair, deep in a cellphone conversation; three huddled in conversation; another strolled about the room.

Do you think the city council might have had a stronger case if they had been in proper business attire that day?