2004-11-30



"Just to let everyone know, my mother was murdered."
So begins the saga that has bloggers all atwitter. This story is pretty much everywhere by now, but I first caught it at WizBang.

In case you've missed it: 16-yr old Rachelle Waterman of Craig, Alaska coordinated with two 24-yr old men to murder her mother. The story alone is shocking. Waterman was an honor student, played in the band, sang in the chorus and at the time of her mother's murder she was with her volleyball team participating in a tournament in Anchorage. On the surface, you would not expect Rachelle Waterman to be involved in something like this. But then, I guess that by now we are no longer surprised by the surprising.

So, why the blogosphere buzz? Check out Rachelle's blog over at LiveJournal. By all accounts this crime was months in the making, and all the while, Waterman blogged away.

Of direct relevance in the case were her last two entries: First, shortly after state troopers informed her of her mother's death, Waterman blogged briefly about the Anchorage trip; she got a little sick, played volleyball and bought some boots that go abover her knees. She even promised pictures on that last one. That was the extent of her first, post-murder entry - sorrow and remorse were conspicuous by their absence. Later, her final dispatch began with: "Just to let everyone know, my mother was murdered," chilling in its indifference. It went on to mention that the police had confiscated her computer and she wouldn't be able to blog for a while. Nothing further.

Unfortunately, her last block of entries were taken down. Rumor has it that other bloggers archived the whole thing, so who knows? It may all be out there somewhere. At LJ you can still read everything up to Nov 4.

As word of this case spread, the curious flocked to Waterman's blog, sub-titled "My Crappy Life: The Inside Look of an Insane Person." Before its removal, her final entry had logged 5000 comments, LiveJournal's maximum.

As I perused her full blog last night, my thoughts moved in two basic directions: 1. What I learned about Rachelle and 2. What I learned, or perhaps remembered about the blogosphere.

Waterman was troubled ... or was she? Obviously, it is fascinating to read back over Waterman's writings knowing that all the while mischief was brewing. Rachelle paints a grim picture of a mother who called her "fat," and deprived her of food at times. However, one of the more collected and rational comments observed that until a few months ago, when the murder plan was allegedly hatched, Rachelle displayed the thinking of a typically self-centered teen with occasional but not abnormal parental friction.

So, were the "details" of her mom's severity simply posturing on Waterman's part? Did she begin building her defense that early in the game?

One sure thing: mixed within Waterman's blog are shades of a troubled soul. From her indifferent response to the loss of her mother, to the blog's title, to the occasional self-destructive or other-destructive fantasy, one is tempted to think, "This is not your average honor student," or even, "How did someone not see this coming?" This brings me to my second avenue of thought ...

The blogosphere hosts plenty of Rachelle Watermans. Much of my blog-surfing time is spent on reputable sites written by talented, and sometimes professional authors, commenting on the news of the day. Actually, such blogs are in the minority. For each of these blogs, there are hundreds of sites that boast a less refined, darker, and more brooding outlook.

This is not surprising as there are very few obstacles to blogging. All it takes is access to a computer with an internet connectiont. Anyone can blog, and hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions do. Little wonder that the blogosphere has come to resemble and reflect modern society. In short, there are some crazy people out there, and a lot of them blog!

Unfortunately, it's not unusual to find a teen over-exaggerating the "cruelty" of parents and complaining that their life is hell. The medium may be relatively new, but the message is age-old.

As for the lunatic fringe, it has found Waterman's site. Again, prior to its removal, her last post had gathered 5000 comments. And very few of those comments had anything to do with her post or the murder case. The milder comments were simply and briefly, "Woot! I'm posting at a famous website," proclamations. But there were also plenty of porno and violent graphics and vile language.

Again, the ubiquitousness of the blog medium means that lacking a message or lacking a constructive message isn't going to stop someone from participating in the discussion. This is true at Waterman's site, and it's true on the web as a whole. Browse the message boards attached to any major news story on Yahoo! if you ever want a taste of the kind of inanity residing in the virtual world.

The problem is, those authors whose stated violent, destructve fantasies are a true expression of the impulses at war within them are obscured by the multitude of harmless authors who express similar ideas simply because they don't know or can't do any better.

Technology is a two-edged sword. Crazy talk is so prevalent, one can hardly take it seriously. Yet, as more Waterman cases emerge, and rest assured there will be more, will it be possible to ignore the insanity?

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2004-11-27



I am dismayed to hear of certain goings-on down at the FTC. Thanks to Slashdot and the Chicago Sun-Times for the alert.

It seems the FTC is considering allowing telemarketers to circumvent the "Do Not Call" list "to allow telemarketing calls that deliver a prerecorded message to consumers with whom the seller on whose behalf the calls are made has an established business relationship."

I don't know what has prompted this move although there must certainly be an ongoing, intense lobbying effort by the telemarketing industry. One FTC rep said that it was intended to bring FTC regs in line with those of the FCC. I'm not sure why the FCC couldn't be aligned with the FTC instead.

One thing is for sure: the "established business relationship" requirement is a joke. It is vague and ripe for abuse. If this measure passes, open the floodgates.

Fortunately, comments can be posted straight to the FTC at this site.

If there is any doubt that your comment is needed, Lance Gay, the Sun-Times correspondent reported that, "The Federal Trade Commission said it does not think the change would have any dramatic results."

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Over at MSNBC, EleanorClift discusses the possibility that Howard Dean will become the Democratic Party chair.

You know, if there is one thing on which the country is in nearly complete agreement, it's this. In the bitter, ugly, way too long 2004 campaign, Howard Dean was a breath of fresh air. Democrats love him because he's exciting, unpredictable, and they imagine unseen throngs suddenly materializing on election day to vote for him. You know, like what happened in Iowa. And Republicans like him because he's exciting, unpredictable, and not the least bit threatening. He's just a fun guy to have around.

Now, to seriously answer Clift's question: "Can Howard Dean Save the Democrats?"

Well, Clift answered the question in the lead in to her piece.

"The Vermont firebrand is essentially a centrist—with conviction and passion. He's an obvious choice to lead the fractured party." (emphasis added)

There's your problem ... "fractured party." They can't even agree with each other. I don't see how you can pin responsibility for a fix on one leader, or one candidate. Whoever it is is going to be either too centrist or to far to the left to satisfy half of the party. Then, when it comes to issues where the public favors what the GOP is doing, they really have a problem.

Obviously the Arlen Specter issue demonstrates that the Republicans don't enjoy complete harmony either. But I believe that that same issue will demonstrate that our party won't let internal differences impede progress. Specter will be chair of the Senate Judiciary, he will recognize that he shouldn't provoke the President and the party by stonewalling, and the President will recognize that he shouldn't provoke Specter by sending up the extremes.

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Sorry if you're expecting some kind of commentary on France or the Royal Family. It's just another VH1 list.

But, I can't help it. I'm addicted to these things! This time it was the 40 Most Awesomely Bad Metal Songs of all time. Europe's "Final Countdown" is a solid effort, but fell short in the 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs compilation, losing to Starship's (aka Jefferson Starship, aka Jefferson Airplane) "We Built this City." In the Metal Songs category, Europe reigns supreme. And really, it's no contest. As the countdown moved along, I'd listen to the Winger bites, or Autograph, and think, "Man, I don't know ... those songs are pretty bad." But as soon as you hear that opening synth line in "Countdown" you realize that this is no doubt, the worst.

Unfortunately VH1's panel of commentators on this one was not nearly as good as in earlier efforts.

If anyone is reading this on Saturday evening, VH1 is re-running their best compilation of all - the 50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs, tonight at 8.

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2004-11-26



After just a couple of short ventures out into pre-Christmas mayhem, I'm already sick of it all. Not sick of Christmas, mind you. Sick of what our culture has done to this time of year.

This pieceby Jay over at Wizbang helped me to re-acquire the spirit of the season. This one's a must for rock fans.

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Speaking of links ...

I've added OV Lookout to my blogroll. This is the blog associated with my free Bloglines online aggregator (see my post of last Friday on this). I plan to start using the lookout site for most of my highlights, quotes, news snippets, etc, and this blog mainly for personal commentary and content. You'll also see my aggregator feed list out there which I feel is pretty strong.

And, if you peruse my feed list you may be surprised to find Howard Dean's Blog for America. First of all you'll also find several links from the NY Time and Washington Post and other middle to left sources. I'm looking for some semblance of balance and what is going on out in the blogosphere, not personal affirmation. But also, I think everyone will get a kick out of DFA. Especially humorous are the comments on any given post.

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The election turned out better than I had dared hope, and like most Republicans, I'm pleased. This is an opportunity to do some great things in shaping our nation's future.

Instead, as Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) is considered for the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee and as Dan Rather announces that he will step down as Anchor at CBS News, I'm hearing some troubling messages.

On the radio here in Louisville, one group is running a series of ads fighting Specter's candidacy for the post that will be instrumental in handling the President's Supreme Court nominees. To be fair, Specter brough the firestorm on himself with his post-election comments defying President Bush, without whom Specter might very well not even be a Senator today. But scare tactics and gross exaggerations are the craft of Gore, Kerry and Kennedy.

And now we have so much dancing on the grave of Dan Rather. Sure Rather was a shameless partisan. Did the forged memo do him in? No. The memo was part of a several year progression that has seen Rather's credibility melt and his ratings decline. The fact that Rather was last among the evening anchors and was cementing that last-place position year after year did him in. Let Rather and CBS front that the departure is on Rather's terms. He's been irrelevant for quite a while now. The official time and manner of his departure is merely a formality.

My point is: This isn't a game. It's not about winning and losing. It's about educating children and keeping our country safe. It's about not crippling this nation and its citizens with taxes. It's about reining in government and creating a moral environment in which decency and humility are championed. When you focus on winning you engage in tactics which negate much of the good you might have done.

The common wisdom is that one must shifth their campaign message to accomodate voters in order to be elected and govern with one's true ideology.

Everyone involved in the process; candidates, campaign staff, pundits and VOTERS need to re-think this. During the campaign and election, talk your walk. And then walk your talk.

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Here we go again: Three undefeated major conference teams and only two tickets to the Orange Bowl. Yet this year we aren't hearing the "sky is falling" cries. There's no hand-wringing, no BCS-bashing above and beyond the normal level of acrimony.

Why? Because this year it appears that Oklahoma and USC will be playing for the national championship and Auburn will be left out, and somehow this has been deemed the acceptable order of things.

Bear in mind we still have conference championship games to play in the Big XII and SEC, although history has shown that what happens in the Big XII championship will be completely ignored when it comes to deciding who should play in the Orange Bowl. Actually, these games couldn't be more meaningless this year. Auburn plays Tennessee, but won't be helped by this quality game because they've already beaten the Vols this year. Oklahoma plays 6-4 Iowa State. Beating the Cyclones won't help Oklahoma because, like much of the Big XII this year, they suck!

Still, the pollsters have coronated USC and Oklahoma the proper championship contenders, so Auburn will just have to settle for a pat on the back and the opportunity to crush the Big East or ACC representative in one of the other BCS games.

To add more fuel to the fire, mid-majors Utah and Boise State also remain undefeated. You're likely to hear more outrage over their treatment, or lack of treatment, in the BCS than over Auburn not getting the opportunity to play for a championship on the field.

I continue to be baffled over the trend toward giving the polls more, not less, weight in the BCS equation. It's the college football equivalent of giving Dan Rather 10 electoral votes!

- Also posted at Sportsblog.org

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2004-11-24



Being a Wisconsin native I've taken an interest in the hunter murders.

First of all, the claims that he was threatened and that the victims shot first were certainly expected. It's time to build a defense, so did we really expect him to say, "I just, out of the blue, decided to turn and shoot the whole group." I'm not pretending I have any idea what went on. I'm just suggesting that we weigh what is now being said against each party's situation and motives.

And, by the way, self defense covers one or two shots. How do you justify tracking down a man and shooting him in the back. Clearly Vang had problems. Right now we're in that phase of the story where we're hearing all the "he was a good guy" details, and the racial angle. There is something else here that probably won't come out until the story has cooled.

I'm not against hunting, by the way. By and large most hunters are responsible and respectful of the sport. And I'm certainly not a gun control freak. Gun control treats a symptom, not a root problem.

Here's my concern regarding hunting: Vang, the Hmong suspect in this latest episode, is far from the only person we'd be horrified to know was walking around in the woods with a loaded assault rifle.

There are those who don't use good judgment. When I lived in WI, I knew some folks who preceeded their hunting excursion with a trip to the tavern at 6am and some who carried their alcohol into the woods with them. More innocently, each year there are a handful of stories where hunters are shot because they or another hunter were just being plain stupid.

Then there are those in our society who just aren't right in the head. Right now a handful of of them are out there thinking, "Hmmm, that's a pretty good idea - a situation where a weapon, heck, even shots fired are not suspicious."

I respect those who hunt, but I don't participate myself. There's just something about walking into a situation where a bunch of people are carrying loaded weapons and your health depends on their being reasonable and sane.

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This kind of thing always gets me ... Smoking is worse. No! Obesity is worse. It's 400,000. No! It's less. No! It's more. Guys! It's not like I'm sitting here trying to decide whether to take up obesity or smoking.

I know it's all about fighthing for funding and attention, but as far as I'm concerned the point is: Smoking is bad for you. Obesity is bad for you. Both of them are so bad that they shorten life.

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2004-11-23



Hats off to NBA Commissioner David Stern for his swift and sure handling of the Pistons-Pacers-Pistons' Fans melee this past weekend. It's not even Thanksgiving and Ron Artest has already been suspended for the entire season. I'm in shock!

Truth be told, he was probably going to be suspended for the bulk of the season 3 and 4 games at a time anyway, so this just made things easier on everyone. Now he can go work on that rap album unencumbered by his NBA schedule ... and salary.

Let me add here, that this isn't all about the players. The trend in fan behavior is equally alarming. Stern is signaling a desire to rein in the players. I wonder if there is any effort being made to address fan problems ... besides providing a nearly unlimited supply of alcohol that is.

MLB and the NHL could take a lesson, here. Their efforts to "address" similar problems have been as laughable as their efforts to anything constructive regarding their organizations.

That said, I'm especially pleased to see the NBA taking the lead, for that is where insane money and immaturity seem to be the most lethal.

So here's hoping that Stern means business. My belief is that how the second incident is handled is the key. The first time is a shot across the bow. The second time will test Stern's resolve. Is he willing to swing the hammer repeatedly and risk short-term damage to his product?

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2004-11-20



Over at Blogs for Bush, Matt has been keeping an eye on John Kerry's website and heralds the beginning of the Senator's re-defeat campaign.

I don't get this. Kerry took about as strong a beating as any candidate could these days. Given how many voters and states are locked in, a Reagan-esque landslide isn't possible. Even the Dems' hero, Bill Clinton, never managed a popular majority. I'm thinking about Mondale, Dukakis, Dole, Gore ... losers usually go away. No one says they can't try, mind you, but parties are normally unwilling to give the defeated another chance. There are too many folks in line for someone to take seconds.

What I don't get is what makes Kerry think he'll have any success. His 2004 campaign was both a success and a failure. The interest he generated and the support he received came not because a large part of the electorate was in love with him, but because they were in hate with the President. He failed because he was not a suitable alternative to the President in the minds of many voters who were looking for any opportunity to vote for someone else. In 2008, unless the GOP nominates Jeb Bush, and I think the Governor will be wise enough to let things cool down a bit before he takes his shot, the source of any positives Kerry experience this cycle will be gone.

Here's why I care: Kerry really annoys me the same way Gore annoyed me. His lust for power is so shameless, and so transparent. But he'll continue to be accomodated by the MSM until they come up with another darling. That means we'll have to continue to listen to his disengenuous "I can say anything, however illogical, as long as I speak forcefully and preceed it with 'I tell you this!' " comments.

My one hope - the election is over. During the election, anytime Kerry spoke there were adoring throngs around to applaud his ever move. Now that the election is over that won't be the case. Perhaps it will begin to dawn on the Senator that, "Hey! Maybe this stuff isn't as clever as I thought it was."

On the bright side, it would be fun to watch a four-year battle between Kerry and Hillary Clinton!

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2004-11-19



I've just discovered, much to my surprise, that chickens don't have fingers! This begs the question, "If these aren't really chicken fingers, then what are they?" Man! Beef O'Brady's sure has some explaining to do! More on this later.

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I've posted my thoughts on the reports that Steve Spurrier is headed to South Carolina over at SportsBlog.

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OK, my new job has forced some technology changes. I can't access my home e-mail from work, and while at work I don't have a whole lot of time to web surf, blog, etc.

As previously mentioned, I'm leaning on Google's GMail a lot more.

As for being able to do an occasional blog span, I've discovered Bloglines.

It seemed like Mozilla Firefox's live bookmarks would be a great solution. One simply needs to drop their favorites menu and mouse over the site names to see a quick list of recent article titles. Turns out FIrefox is not quite as finished and bug free as is claimed. It has a great deal of trouble resolving url's on our network at work. After searching Mozilla's knowledge base and forums I discovered that this is not uncommon and so far there is no solution.

Not to worry. Bloglines is a wonderful web-based aggregator and more. They also offer each user a rudimentary journal site to share sources and entries.

I took a while, but I'm starting to appreciate web-based solutions. I had been one of those people who likes their software installed on their machine. The problem is, I use no less than four different computers with some regularity. Sometimes sharing data between them can be a hassle. Ram drives are nice for files and things like that. But for e-mail, and blog/journal-reading a web-based solution is much easier and just makes sense. These aren't things you are going to be doing unless you have access to the web anyway. If they ever devise a solution for sharing Outlook contacts and contact changes with GMail, I'll probably shift over altogether.

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This is a beautiful morning. It's raining but even that is making everything peaceful and calm. Plus, it was warm enough to leave the windows cracked last night and now I've got fresh air throughout the condo. I'm still lounging in bed as I check in on the blogs and listen to Bill Bennett on the radio. Dixie has already had her trip outside so she, too, is now resting comfortably. This would be a great day to stay in bed ... but alas, there is not much money in that, so shortly I'll heave to and head out to work.

But right now I'm thoroughly enjoying a moment of peace.

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2004-11-16



When someone turns to you and says, "You here to bail someone out, too?" you know you're in the wrong place.

Yes, I had another adventure down at the courthouse. The dealer tags on my car had expired before they got my permanent plates in. So, when I finally did get the new registration in, I had to go down to the courthouse and show it to them.

Aside: I don't know why, but lately the Clerk's satellite offices are all about what they can't do for you. But, at least the lines are short. I guess it's easier to get people in and out when you are doing nothing for them.

Anyway, the courthouse is always fun. Once again, I found myself in the complicated two-line queue. The other line emptied out first so one of the clerks on that side came over to our side to invite the next person, the lady in front of me, down to her window.

Well, this lady was having none of it. She was sure that this was some kind of conspiracy to ... well, I still don't understand what she was wise to, but despite increasing prompting from the rest of us in line, she wasn't going anywhere. Eventually the clerk gave up and took the person from the end of the line ... the last shall be first, I guess.

Anyway, my exhortations to "Just go, already!" apparently opened up the lines of communication between myself and this lady, because she then turned to me and asked, "You here to bail someone out, too?"

For a fleeting moment I debated running with it, but the whole courthouse experience takes that little knack out of me.

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If only we could be alive after we die, I think we'd rethink some things.

Taking a name like "Old Dirty Bastard" for instance. It sounds all fun and street cred-ish in life. But then you die and people are trying to eugoogle-ize you, and it just doesn't work.

The nice thing for the rest of us is that we can learn from those who have gone before us. I was about to change my name to "Sweaty Smelly Losing-Hair Guy." After seeing the fate of poor ODB, I'm re-thinking that whole thing.

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My apologies … no one wants to let the election firestorm die more than I do. But, I've had this post brewing in my mind since Wednesday, Nov 3rd, when the post-mortem began and I think it's important.

Some of the conventional "wisdom" has it that the just-concluded election was about gay marriage, abortion, or religious faith in general. I have some personal comments on why I think this is so, and the lunacy of buying this, when the exit polling powers of misinformation have been exposed so many times in recent weeks.

Let's just talk about where politics and faith mix for a bit. Ahhh … I can already hear the clamoring of the separation of church and state-ists. Unfortunately, I find that as a Christian I am not able to separate my faith from anything.

The abuse of Thomas Jefferson in this area is a topic for another day. Right now I'll just observe that every time I open a can of media coverage I'm being told that this election was all about faith. Whether or not you agree with that, could it be more clear that like it or not, these two do come into contact and conflict? Right now there is a whole lot of incorrect and confusing dialog bouncing about. If I want my Lord to get a fair shake I'd better think this through and speak my piece.

1. I can't know for sure where someone stands when it comes to their faith and relationship with Christ.
Thank God! Not my business. I am more than happy to leave God's work to Him.

That said, I've spent a lot of time around people of faith and a lot of time around people who are not active Christians, and I recognize that just judging by words and actions, I can form some pretty strong suspicions. I would never act on those suspicions and I would never swear by them, but I would also never hesitate to ask, "What is this apple doing in the orange grove?"

One other thought after speaking with my Catholic friends. They do have some mechanisms by which they feel they can know where someone stands beyond the shadow of a doubt. Now again, I wouldn't go too far with this as I'm not Catholic, and I don't agree with the Catholics here. But, this sure presents some problems for someone who does.

All of this is to say, that as I move on, I am making no assumptions regarding where George Bush or John Kerry stand with the Lord. Again … not my business.

2. Faith is not a strategy.

We saw this pop up several times during the campaign, and now that it has been decided that the election was about faith, it's becoming more persistent.

As the Democratic Primary focus was getting ready to shift to the South, Howard Dean revealed that he needed to talk with people more about his faith. John Kerry dodged the gay marriage issue by proclaiming his conviction not to impose his faith on others. Coming out of the election one Kerry apologist in journalist's clothing complained that the Senator was uncomfortable talking about his faith, and this hurt him.

OK, let me just say that on Nov 2 I had grown very tired, and am now even more tired of this line of the Kerry defense. "It only appears that the Senator has no conviction, no stand, no character, no faith (insert other intangible here), etc. Actually he has so much of the aforementioned item that he has chosen to do you a favor by not weighing you down with his depth. He is, after all, too good to share anything real with you."

Back on point. Some Democrats are now, by their own admission, scrambling to figure out how they can work more faith into their message. Just in case it wasn't already dreadfully apparent that many of them just don't get it.

Faith is not a plank in your strategy, or a component of your message. Faith is not a photo opp, and it's not a sound bite. It's not something you can turn on in the south and off in the metropolitan north, and crackpot west. It's not easily hidden and not easily faked.

You can't conjure up faith. It's there or it isn't, which brings us to …

3. You can't not talk about your faith.

Again, it is difficult, though not impossible, to counterfeit where you stand when it comes to faith. You may choose to not blatantly speak of it in words. Fine. You have simply eliminated what is already the least significant manner in which faith is communicated.

Words are not needed. Everything you say on other matters and everything you do, everything you don't say and don't do says plenty about your faith and what is at the core of you.

When you can't seem to make up your mind on fundamental issues it says something. When the World Series concludes and you are suddenly never seen without a Boston Red Sox cap, it says something. When you go out of your way to attack a man's family in hopes of garnering some small gain from it, it says something. When you pretend to be a man of faith and stumble over the simplest of biblical knowledge, it says something. When you think your campaign speech is appropriate for a church pulpit, it says something.

John Kerry said plenty about his faith on the campaign trail. It simply wasn't a very flattering message.

So does this mean that faith is the exclusive domain of the GOP. Absolutely not!! It simply means that if the Democrats' goal as a party is to beef up the element of faith in their message: they won't do it by increasing the references to God in their speeches, and they won't do it by claiming that your entire platform is the picture of moral purity. You'll have to do it by choosing more faithful standard-bearers.

An aside to Democrats: Although the election was a referendum on the administration of George W Bush, it was also yours to lose. You could not ask for a more solid chunk of the electorate to desperately want to vote against the President. Somehow you figured out how not to offer an appetizing choice to a starving nation.

4. Absolute separation of Politics and Faith is a pipe dream.

Personally, I won't check my faith at the door to the church where I vote.

Granted, I don't set out to be sure to vote for all the Christians and against all the non-Christians. Once again it is not in my power to sort out which is which in the first place. But, I'm voting for leaders, legislators, judges and administrators. My main concern is who can do the best job in those capacities.

But, faith is a factor. It is impossible to know specifically what is going to happen in the next four years. Back in 2000, who would have imagined 9/11? Since I can't know everything that is going to happen, I certainly can't know how each candidate will deal with it.

So, the candidates' core values, judgment and overall philosophy are very important. This is where faith comes in. I will lean toward a candidate who appears to be a person of faith because I am a person of faith.

5. Faith trumps Politics every time.

With all of that said, faith is very liberating, because it puts politics to shame.

I don't have to be heart-broken when my candidate doesn't win. I don't have to begin clamoring to figure out how we're going to beat Hillary in 2008 before 2004's winners have even been inaugurated.

The dominion of those elected by man is relatively small. Like me, the President can not make something happen that isn't part of God's plan, and he can't prevent anything that is part of that plan.

Even better, God is not term-limited.

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Check out: Five Reality Checks for Democrats over at the New York Observer.

Hmmm. Another thoughtful, articulate Democrat. I don't quite know what to make of this.

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Re: The proposed California-sponsored amendment that would allow foreign-born citizens to become President of the US.

Clearly the effort is designed to allow Gov. Schwarzenegger a shot at the oval office which is all well and fine. But unless the amendment will confine the expansion to Terminator stars of Austrian origin, that reason isn't good enough.

A measure that opens the door for Schwarzenegger also welcomes George Soros, Fidel Castro, Jacques Chirac, etc., etc. Obviously there would still be some residential requirements, but you see my point. You don't do something like this because you like the idea of Arnold Schwarzenegger becoming President. You do something like this because you think that opening the Oval Office to immigrants is a good idea.

Often moves like this turn out to be a Pandora's Box that their author's eventually wish they'd never opened.

That's not to say that this isn't a good idea. After all, isn't this country a melting pot? Don't we, at least in theory, pride ourselves on being a nation of immigrants? It would seem to make sense, then, that there be no bounds on the opportunities we offer the world's tired, poor and huddled masses.

I'm simply suggesting that when considering such a move, we think beyond 2008.

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2004-11-15



Last night saw VH1 running the 100 Most Metal Moments and 40 Least Metal Moments! I don't think they'll ever top the Most Awesomely Bad Songs of All Time, but these were winners. The Metal Moments were all near and dear to my heart because this was my musical main course during high school and college, and even today when I can find a classic on Bearshare.

This all led me to think about how VH1 does so well with these collections when no one else does. My conclusion: the key is the people they get to comment throughout the show. VH1's Peanut Gallery features folks who are articulate, likeable and know their subject. But the most important ingredient is that they all seem to understand that this is just entertainment and are able to have fun without taking themselves to seriously. MTV always gets the self-important, agendized artists.

Anyway, my most metal moments:

Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon: Ironically, I checked this out from the local library. As soon as "Breathe" kicked in, I was hooked.

AC/DC - Back in Black: I hadn't really taken to the band's earlier efforts. Highway and Dirty Deeds were OK, but annoying after a while. For me, Brian Johnson replacing the deceased Bon Scott fixed AC/DC's main weakness. Johnson's hard-edged voice was a vast improvement over the shrill Scott. Back in Black had no weak spot.

Van Halen: Van Halen was my favorite band until their untimely demise at the hands of Sammy Hagar. I was taping music off the radio one Christmas when I stumbled upon "You Really Got Me" with Eddie VanHalen's classic "Eruption" lead-in. In the end this was far from my favorite VH song, but it did get me looking for more. Eddie's guitar licks combined with David Lee Roth's voice were the perfect combination.

And Least Metal Moments:

The death of Ozzy's lead guitar, Randy Rhodes: As much as I liked Black Sabbath, I thought the solo Ozzy blew his old band away. HIs first two efforts, "Blizzard of Oz" and "Diary of a Madman" were pure gold thanks in great part to Rhodes' guitar genius. Eddie VanHalen may have been a better axe man technically, but Rhodes was better at pumping life into a song. Often in metal, touch trumps technical brilliance.

The decline of Van Halen: Eddie hooked up with Valerie Bertenelli. Eddie started "playing" the synth for the "1984" album. And the final blow - the band parted ways with David Lee Roth whose voice was an intrinsic part of Van Halen. The new union with Sammy Hagar produced a halfway decent sound. 5150 was likeable enough. But it wasn't Van Halen.

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An amazing verdict in the Peterson case. From what I've read the case was light on evidence. Admittedly I don't feel bad - what could be more obvious than driving 90 miles to go fishing in the body of water in which your dead wife was discovered.

That's all beside the point. Since Laci Peterson disappeared there have been well more than 3,000 murders in California alone. Perhaps we've lost our perspective with this case.

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2004-11-12



Fox News is reporting that Yasser Arafat is dead ... CNN has it still too close to call.

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2004-11-09



In a refreshing break from election regurgitation, Viacom (CBS) is protesting the fine they received for Janet and Justin's antics during the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

I just don't get it ... This is like suing the snake you've been handling for biting you!

How do you keep a straight face while saying, "Well you see, your honor, we wanted it to be sleazy, but not THAT sleazy."

Sometimes I wish I'd gone into law instead of accounting so that one day I could be the judge sitting on the bench and laughing in Viacom's face.

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I'm starting to enjoy Google's mail offering quite a bit. At my new job the servers are in full lockdown leaving me unable to access my normal personal e-mail account, so GMail makes a nice substitute.

As for features it has Google's normal high octane search capabilities, and a ton of storage. I'm not so sure about the need for all that storage. Every time I delete an old e-mail I get a "Why throw away e-mails when you have X Gb of storage?" message. But I'm a throw away kind of guy. I don't like clutter, be it physical or
virtual.

Anyway, I've got six GMail invites for the ongoing beta test if anyone is interested.

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LOL ... the headline that greeted me this morning ... "The French assure Palestinians their 'full support.' "

Ahhh yes. What could be more reassuring than knowing that the French have your back?

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2004-11-07



One of the best posts I have EVER, EVER read:
How you could have had my vote.

Now, there was no reluctance in my vote for the President, Senator Bunning, Congresswoman Northrup and in favor of our state's constitutional ammendment. But, the above post so clearly lays out why I am befuddled that anyone could cite many patriotic, seemingly reasonable reasons for opposing the President, and then turn around and vote for Kerry.

Sad American's post, and the comments that follow are probably some of the most level-headed commentary you'll find.

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With the election all but in the books, we commence an interesting time of jockeying for 2008 in both parties.

If you count sitting Vice Presidents as incumbents, the next Presidential election will be the first incumbent-less contest since Gen. Eisenhower defeated Adlai Stevenson in 1952. GWB is term-limited, and VP Dick Cheney has never desired the top spot, so it's wide open on both sides.

The Republicans find themselves in an enviable, but critical situation. They control everything at the national level right now. Take away the intense hatred that some harbor for George W Bush and this week's election wouldn't even have been close. The GOP has the opportunity to spend four years compiling a strong resume on which to run, and hopefully nominate a candidate who won't be such a motivator for the opposition's base. On the other hand, if they aren't smart with their leadership, they'll have to answer for it next time out.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) is already making some noise. *yawn* He's a respectable leader, but this party has players that can generaate a lot more energy and enthusiasm. Personally I was very disappointed when Fred Thompson (former Senator from TN) and JC Watts (former Rep. from OK) bowed out of Congress. They are both very like-able, and great communicators. This is not to say that they couldn't run, but not being in the government, it would be harder for them to gain attention and establish links with what the GOP will do over the next four years.

John McCain is a popular choice with some bi-partisan appeal. With McCain's no-nonsense approach, and un-impeachable military background, he'd be strong. He's also a media favorite although that tends to fade as one becomes the Republican nominee for President.

Rudi Giuliani's name has been batted about quite a bit. I'd love to see this one! The guy has bi-partisan appeal and, though he is not currently in government, has a strong record and gets more than enough media attention to remain a force. Forcing the next Dem nominee to have to campaign in New York would be a real bonus.

Let me just say at this point that I hope the GOP will avoid the circus that surrounded the Democratic primary season this year. The usual suspects; Alan Keyes, Lamar Alexander, etc. are still out there. The debates became a joke - try to limit the number of primary debates to less than 100 ... 2 or 3 would be even better. And guys, there are ways to "get your message out" without running for President, unless your message is "I like to spend time and money on hopeless causes." Don't be the next Kucinich.

Things are not so good for the Democrats right now. This election wasn't just a John Kerry loss. In fact, the last two elections have resulted in very clear Congressional losses for this party. This time out they lost Tom Daschle, their Senate Leader. Here's the thing. There is partisanship on both sides, but I think the Dems do a much worse job of keeping it in check on the campaign trail. And one big message coming out of this year's election is that the Democrats aren't connecting with voters on intangibles like faith, character and values. I've got an entire entry on this brewing, but suffice it to say that these aren't things that you can simply add as a plank in your strategy. You either have them or you don't, and the Democratic Party needs to start finding standard-bearers who have them.

So, if this party can't find solid leadership - they have to replace Daschle at Senate Minority Leader, and they would do well to replace Pelosi at House Minority Leader - and a more clear and more effective message (by now it should be apparent that simply calling everything that the GOP does "a colossal failure" isn't going to get it), the selection of a candidate for 2008 will be an exercise in futility.

Obviously with a leadership void existing in the party, many are saying that this is the opening Hillary Clinton has been waiting for. That may be the case, and for some reason she's a real popular choice among many Democrats. As a Republican I'd like nothing more than to see Hillary win the nomination in 2008. This country may well be ready to elect a woman President, but they are certainly not ready to elect Hillary Rodham Clinton, and four years aren't going to change that. The Dems are confused by the affection that Bill Clinton inspired. Hillary has her husband's ambition but not his polish, and by now her ties to the South have eroded. In Hillary you'd have a lot of John Kerry's liabilities (elitist, northeastern liberal) in a figure already despised by a solid, bi-partisan chunk of the electorate.

This campaign made John Edwards a star. Actually there were two phases to the campaign. During the primary season, and prior to Kerry selecting him as his running mate, Edwards was gold. Then he disappeared. Has there ever been a more irrelevant running mate? Edwards has some problems at this point. He gave up his Senate seat which is problematic because 1. it will be hard for him to stay in the public eye on the political scene, and 2. it takes away opportunities for him to address his greatest weakness, lack of experience. Also, Edwards is from the South but does not seem to have southern appeal - at least not enough to overcome the GOP's hold on that region. Edwards failed to deliver his home state of North Carolina for Kerry this time out. Even Edwards' strength, his ability to communicate, is somewhat negated when remembering that he was a trial lawyer. It leads to thoughts that he might be "too smooth."

My gut says Hillary will make her move, but also that she isn't the consensus choice of her party. Who will rise to give her a serious challenge? Probably a governor who isn't yet a big name on the national scene. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Howard Dean all arrived that way. You may laugh at Howard Dean now, but he was in line to sweep to the nomination until he did himself in.

Right now it will interesting to watch the fight for unofficial leader of the Democratic Party.

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2004-11-05



I've been reviewing Kerry's concession speech and other comments by the still shell-shocked Dems. Again I applaud them for avoiding a protracted legal fight. And let's make no mistake, because the "there are stil some questions in Ohio" stories are popping up here and there: Kerry was not going to win Ohio. When you consider everything outstanding, there are slightly more votes to be counted than what Kerry would need to close the gap on Bush. Every single ballot would need to be valid, and nearly every single ballot would have to have a vote for his team in order for Kerry to have a chance. Neither condition is going to be met. This is not a case where Kerry had a chance, but took a bullet for the nation. Kerry had no chance. He nobly chose to face the facts sooner rather than later.

That said, let's talk about the calls for Bush to be a unifier. I've been thinking this through, and I don't really agree that the key to unity lies with the victor. Knowing their history and their way of doing business, when a Dem calls for unity it usually means, "adopt our agenda." Now that's kind of pointless here. We just had an election. If we wanted to adopt Kerry's agenda, Kerry would have been elected.

And here's where the "3.5 million votes is a small portion of the electorate - the nation is deeply divided - don't think you have a mandate and can just run off and start doing things" hand-wringing come in. If followed, this logic puts any President in an impossible situation. Again, we just had an election. Bush won. Kerry didn't. For those who choose to go this route, no margin will be satisfactory. Either way it's now time for Bush to get back to the business of being the President full time.

As in any situation, the key to team unity lies with those who don't get their way. In a sense, the recent election is no different from a meeting at work where you have heated discussion and debate, take a vote and come to a decision. Going forward the success of that decision rests with how enthusiastically those who were opposed to it support it as the will of the majority, however narrow that majority may be. Unanimity is not always possible in small groups, and it will never be possible when the nation speaks. Either way, the President must go on.

This is not to say that Kerry and the Dems must agree and sign off on everything. But, if they continue their stone-walling tactics, and block anything that doesn't line up with their recently rejected agenda, then their calls for unity will be revealed to have been empty.

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2004-11-04



Once again, I'm spending much more time digesting than trying to add to the noise-storm already in progress. But, as this is where I unload many of my thoughts, I will share.

First of all, things that make me happy from the election.

No wait! I forgot this in my previous post: I have absolutely no respect ... in fact, I have great concern for any church that will turn over their pulpit to a candidate to advance their political agenda. I think that God looks down at what a big deal we make out of all this and just laughs ... until you bring it into His house. The church ought to be the institution that can most easily rise above all this - instead some unable to resist becoming entangled in it instead.

OK, things that make me happy:

- President Bush won convincingly. There is nothing for the nay-sayers to hang their hats on this time. Ohio is a statistical near-impossibility but unresolved matter none-the-less, but only for the most desperate. He won the electoral vote - he won the popular vote. Michael Moore will have to film something else now.

- Not meaning to be a hater, but after listening to months upon months of crap, I'm very satisfied that the following parties have got to be seething today: Michael Moore, Osama (not to be confused with Obama), Dan Rather, George Soros, and the endless parade of self-important Hollywood boobs who just don't get it, but even worse, they don't get that we get how much they don't get it. Follow? Anyway, these are the people who threw everything they had into their "anything to win - however unscrupulous, nasty, dishonest or ugly it may be" campaigns.

- Tom Daschle was sent packing. I thought he had had an epiphany in 2002 when the Dems had their butts handed to them in the mid-term elections. At that time, Gephardt, the House Democratic Leader was playing the oblivious, "somehow this is the Republicans' faults" card, while Daschle came clean, admitting that his party had no one to blame but itself, and that he bore responsibility as one of its leaders. But then he went right back to the same old "inside the beltway" tricks and lo and behold, 2004 turned out much the same, except that this time Daschle himself was caught in the crossfire.

Next, I'm likely to go postal if I hear one more time ...
- How "nuanced" John Kerry is. It's the same old minimalization. Kerry wasn't rejected, he was too good. So good and yet so complex that people just don't get what a marvel he is. Sorry, it doesn't work. We got to see plenty of the Senator in the past year. Subtle and "nuanced" he's not.

- How voters are "uninformed" or "uneducated." The concept is pretty simple - if you didn't vote for my guy(s), you're stupid! I've heard this a lot, and never from anyone who is in a place to claim to be the gatekeeper of all that is wise and informed.

Credit where credit is due:

- Hats off to John Kerry. When I finally did give in to sleep, I was very worried. So much of Kerry's shenanigans, especially in the waning days of the campaign seemed to come straight out of the Al Gore playbook. He would say or do anything, however ridiculous. His team and the media seemed to be working in concert to bring GWB down. With armies of lawyers at the ready, it seemed like there would be no end to his fight to win.

He was gracious in defeat. His concession took courage, but was the right thing to do. 4 years ago, you had the feeling that folks wanted Al Gore and his litigation team to fight on. That was partially fueled by a 500K popular majority and some glimmer of hope. Kerry had no hope, and a huge popular deficit. Still, it's one thing to realize this, and quite another to step into the spotlight where you've had to be so bold so many times over the past year, and admit as much.

I am thankful for this classy memory of John Kerry. We should take he and the President at their word and hold them both accountable for working toward the healing they both say they want.

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2004-11-02



Not that there isn't enough fodder out there already, but here's my two cents:

The exit polls and recent tracking polls have turned out to be unreliable ... go figure. Somehow this still surprises the talking heads.

How about my old Kentucky Home! Bush and Congresswoman Northrup weren't really in doubt. The Senate race was more thrilling than I would have liked, but Bunning pulled it out.

OK, a couple of thoughts on some of the "common wisdom" floating around:

They can't seem to bring up the Texas re-districting enough. Funny, when California did the same, garnering a lot more than five House seats, it passed with hardly a mention. But, in the end, it didn't turn out so well for Gray Davis, did it?

Speaking of California, I'm not pleased, but also not surprised with the Stem Cell vote.

The common template tonight seems to be to use 2000 as the benchmark and talk about various give and take scenarios. With all the time they've spent talking about New Hampshire's 4 electoral votes (it's not dominating, but it has been disproportionate) I have to wonder why no one has mentioned Bush's 12 electoral vote gain (so far) simply due to changes in the allotment of votes.

I wonder if Susan Estrich wouldn't be so annoying if she had a different voice. Hard to tell ... it's like saying "I wonder if elephants would be more fun if they weren't so big." You just can't get around the dominating feature.

How about the Senate avalanche. Dems thought they could re-take that chamber. Instead it looks as if the Republicans will strengthen their grip. If Thune takes out Daschle it would make my night. The Presidential race only slightly overshadows this one for me.

And if anyone is taking this thing as serious as the politico-philes, it's the American Movie Channel. While the noise goes on elsewhere they're running the Godfather.

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The day is here. I'm up early to vote and hopefully still get to work on time.

Someone confided in me that they felt their vote didn't matter since Kentucky is an uncontested Red state. Not so. Our Senate race is huge and has become closer though things still look good for Bunning, the Republican incumbent.

As sick as I am of everything, I'll probably be closely following the coverage - I'm a junkie for this stuff.

Thank God we've got Jesse Jackson and Michael Moore keeping an eye on things in Florida.

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