2004-12-31



Wow! Powerline is providing good stuff this week. First the Nick Coleman affair and now this from Washington.

It seems that more ballots were counted than votes were cast in a number of heavily Democratic precincts in Washington. Kind of like Bush defeating Kerry 61% to 58%. Hmmm ... didn't see that coming, what with all the ballots sitting around in people's garages.

Anyway, this gives a juicy little morsel to chew on heading into the New Year.

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2004-12-30



Where the heck is WaPo going with this line of thinking?

Yesterday: Nuclear weapons may elude terrorists
Today: Technical hurdles separate terrorists from biowar
(by the way, subscription req'd ... of course)

When I caught yesterday's installment my thought was, "Semi-interesting, but don't let their lack of ability mislead your estimation of their will." Today the same, but with a nagging curiosity regarding what appears to be a systematic downgrading of the threats posed by terrorists. Why do I smell a "We're making them out to be a bigger threat than they are to justify the war on terror" piece coming?

How about commercial jets? Are they eluding the terrorists? And, harbor rafts? Any hurdles there? Trucks laden with C4? No separation on that front I reckon.

Make no mistake: These guys are hell-bent on inflicting horrific destruction on the West in general and the US specifically. While details may currently stand in the way, terrorists are hot for the weapons which will make the biggest splash and inflict the most terror in the minds of their targets.

Like everyone, terrorists face a desensitization problem. While tragic and serious, a car bomb simply doesn't carry the same punch it once did. The Berg beheading was psychologically powerful. But, after several more, even beheadings have lost their ablity to capture prime real estate in the world press.

In summary, I guess my question is: What's your point? Currently I ride a Yamaha because that's what I can afford (and even then, barely). That doesn't mean I'm any less convinced or driven to one day own a Harley.

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Over at Wizbang Jay Tea uses the recent controversy over airline searches to launch into a broader discussion of human behavior and accountability. It's one of those posts that leaves you saying, "That's what I was thinking," or more simply, "Amen." Kudos to Jay Tea for doing a great job of laying out his thoughts.

A couple of money quotes:
"It all boils down to a fundamental unwillingness to trust people to act responsibly, combined with an unwillingness to actually hold them accountable when they don't."

"I guess I just disagree with the notion that if you limit the ways in which people can misbehave, you limit actual misbehavior. It's been my observation that those who want to do wrong will do so, and no silly laws or barriers aimed at gently dissuading them will do a damned bit of good."

The comments also hold some potential for further blogger skirmishes (see here and here).

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This post by one of the readers over at Fraters is hilarious. Funny because it's true?

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A followup to my Bloggers at War post:

I missed a skirmish over at Wizbang. It seems that Jay Tea and some of the Wizbangers got into it with "John," over Jay Tea's Playing Politics with the Tsunami post (follow the comments).

Well, John must not have liked how the debate was going because he upped the ante, resorting to the online equivalent of ordering a bunch of pizzas to Jay Tea's house.

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2004-12-29



Just as many seem to be looking back over the year and offering their analysis of all things blog, two online firefights involving the blog community have erupted, showcasing the best and worst of blogdom.

1. Little Green Footballs has linked a post from Scylla and Charybdis which outliness 10 errors about Memogate (in 1 paragraph!) from a WaPo piece.

Since S&C's post, the number of errors has grown to 18. As is often the case however, the real gold lies in the comments which, as of this writing, number 75 at Scylla and 91 at LGF. Warning: these are not for the grammar averse!

2. If you prefer something a litte more substantial than a skirmish over capital letters and proportional fonts, check out the row between Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman and the gang at Powerline. Today Coleman escalated the conflict with this column attacking Time's blog of the year.

Scott's (the Big Trunk) reply gives somewhat of a recent history in the conflict including some key links.

If you prefer to hear from someone outside the immediate fray, there is Captain's Quarters - Nick Coleman goes insane, KerrySpot with a Mike Tyson comparison, and Hugh Hewitt includes Coleman in his piece on MSM figures wilting under scrutiny, the likes of which they've never before faced (I couldn't get a permalink - it's on his 12/29 page).

To me, Glenn Reynolds asked the key question at Instapundit: Don't these guys have editors? It's not just that Coleman is over the top with his venom, or utterly transparent in his hatred for the Powerline guys. Basically his conduct is unprofessional and he really isn't even doing his job, which begs Reynolds' question: where are the editors in all of this?

Who is holding the Strib journalists to a standard somewhat resembling journalism? Who is giving the ok for the nasty attacks on readers, of which, by all indications, the old school media outlets can ill afford to lose even one?

Enjoy!


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OK, OK, there have been millions of other exhibits, but this is where my documentation starts.

Over at my bloglines site I look at WaPo's gross distortion of the Ohio recount "results". In fact, simply reporting this and giving it real estate at the Post is a gross distortion of reality.

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2004-12-28



Well, it seems that a conclusion has been reached in the Washington Governor's race.

Looks like that state's Republican Party has nothing left to do but ...

  • From now until the end of time, scream to high heaven claiming that the election was stolen

  • while throngs who are clueless but enjoy being part of a good, outraged mob look on and cheer

  • and the MSM covers the whole thing as news.

  • File lots of pointless and ungrounded lawsuits to keep your claims of thievery ever in the forefront of an adoring press' mind.

  • Round up Jesse Jackson and his always wonderful "You owe us: We were disenfranchised - Remix 2004" tour.

  • Spend the next 4+ years calling incoming Gov. Gregoire stupid, and perhaps go so far as to compare her to a monkey.

  • Talk long and loud of your disgust for the state - even at times when it might remotely be appropriate.

  • Blame anything bad that happens in the Pacific Northwest on Gregoire.

  • Ignore anything good that happens in the Pacific Northwest.

  • For the next four years, whenever anyone tries to suggest that something good has happened in the Pacific Northwest, mock them by suggesting that they are stupid and a part of the lunatic fringe.

  • Produce a documentary stringing together a number of irrelevant and distorted bits of information posing as fact, all combining to foster the illusion that Gregoire is Satan incarnate. Note: Points off for worrying about being too transparent and obvious.

  • When all of the aforementioned items have been accomplished, the state of Washington will have become such a seething cauldron of Gregiore-hatred that the GOP will be able to run a complete imbecile for Governor next time out and come within a few points of stopping her re-election bid.

After all, that's the established blueprint for handling something like this, isn't it?

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Hat tip to Kevin at Fanblogs.com for coming up with this nugget: Indiana approached Art Shell first.

LOL ... granted, Shell is not exactly on the top of everyone's coaching list, but he's still a respected name in football. One has to wonder how that conversation went ...

IU: Mr Shell, it's an honor to speak with you. Everyone we have spoken with; boosters, fans, and administrators alike have a very high opinion of your abilities, and we would like to discuss with you the possibility of becoming Indiana's next coach.

Shell: Awesome! Indiana ... wow! This is so unexpected. I mean, the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of a legend like Bobby Knight at a school so steeped in tradition ... well, it's quite an honor just to be considered. And, I've always wanted to try my hand at basketball ...

IU: Aaahh, Mr Shell, we're inquiring about the head FOOTBALL coaching vacancy.

Shell: Football? You did say this was Indiana University, am I right?

IU: Yes. We also play football here in Bloomington.

Shell: For real?

IU: Yes.

Shell: So, Mike Davis ...

IU: Getting along fine as our basketball coach.

Shell: Indiana plays football ... huh. That's a new one on me. What's your record?

IU: Perhaps we should talk to someone else (hangs up phone).


What is it with those Indiana schools? Notre Dame aims too low and Indiana aims too high.

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2004-12-27



For a review of the year in Blog History, check out Ed Driscoll's piece over at Tech Central Station.

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A great football player ... a great man.

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2004-12-26



With hype more befitting a Tyson, Shaq v. Kobe, round 1 turned out to be just slightly more exciting than the average early-season NBA game.

Most of all, the game was a great case study of the new Kobe Bryant.

42 points! Kobe's point total is what we'll hear most. It's that disproportionate emphasis on points alone, that fuels the "no T-E-A-M in I" class of NBA superstar, in which Kobe has recently enrolled.

Let's flesh out that 42 points. En route to high scoring honors, Kobe was an Iverson-esque (not a compliment) 12 of 30 from the field. His 9 turnovers were also telling.

But, at money time ... in OT Bryant laid an egg. WIth the game on the line and LA having one last chance to tie or win, rather than use his team, Kobe forced up a disjointed shot from amidst the Heat's swarming double-team. Did anyone doubt that Kobe would insist on taking the shot regardless of his dismal chances of success? Certainly not Miami.

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2004-12-24



Has this thing got legs this year, or what? I had hoped to offer one post on this and put it behind me. But the "story" just will not die. The Sky is Falling! They're trying to take Christ out of Christmas!

My question is this: Who promised you unfettered Christian expression in public schools, city halls and other government property? Who said you'd be able to display the 10 Commandments any old place you like? Who guaranteed that certain songs and certain biblical characters would be a part of every pageant in every school across the land? I'm pretty sure it wasn't God, the Bible, or even the Constitution.

"But we came here for freedom of religion!" pout the pilgrim offspring. Agreed. That was part of it. So what's the problem? You are free to worship as you please. And schools are free to conduct education as they and their school boards see fit.

How is not singing "Hark the Herald Angels" in a school assembly an infringement on your religious freedom? Is your faith so shallow that you must have overt symbols of it everywhere? Grow up!

MInd you, I would prefer that schools openly call this holiday Christmas, and include some of the Christian standards in their music and pageantry. I believe that faith is an important part of education.

But I'm also a realist. It's nice to dream about what should be or could be, but ultimately you've got to deal with what is and figure out how to move toward the ideal in constructive ways ... and a minimum of whining, please.

They aren't trying to take Christ out of Christmas. They are trying to take Christ out of public schools, government buildings and anywhere else they can reduce the matter to a court case. This is news? If you are willing to let that ruin your Christmas, God help you.

It's long past time to hold decision-makers responsible. Elections come and elections go with the majority of the players being allowed to remain in the game. Yet between elections, there seems to be no shortage of complaining. We're good at that. Be outraged and complain.

Personally this seems like a good opportunity for families and churches to teach their young that what happens in your environment will reveal, but can't shake the depth or lack of depth of your faith.

-- B --


As for those who want to soft-peddle the religious trappings of Christmas for fear of offending those of different cultures and faiths I say, "Spare me." If I go to Mexico I expect that they'll be speaking Spanish, eathing authentic Mexican food and observing primarily Catholic traditions and religious customs. And, I wouldn't be the least bit offended.

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The latest entry over at Dean for America:
"Will the GOP Nuke the Constitution?


Though he's not the author, that is Dean in style, tone and rhetoric. I continue to root for this guy to have all kinds of success with his party. He's just too good to lose!

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It's time to start doing the video scrapbooks of the big sports moments, and selecting the "story of the year." The Boston Red Sox will get many votes, as will the Olympics.

For my money, this is the year that cancers of all sorts, that have affected all sports, came home to roost.

In Baseball, just as Barry Bonds was closing on the 700 home run mark, the BALCO investigation has become the latest and most damning steriod evidence to cast an ever-growing shadow over Bonds, Jason Giambi and the rest of MLB. 2004 should have awakened once and for all the few stragglers out there who harbored illusions of MLB integrity.

Baseball is hardly the exclusive domain of the steriod menace. Many are proclaiming the Olympics a rousing success because they were terrorism-free. Perhaps the terrorists were sent home early after failing their drug tests like a troubling number of athletes.

In basketball, Detroit Piston fans recently went to a street fight in hopes that a basketball game might break out. As a result, the big story of Christmas weekend is that Jermaine O'Neal will get to play in Pistons-Pacers rematch after having his sentence reduced. The arbitrator felt, and the judge agreed, that O'Neal's punishment was too harsh considering that his assault and battery occurred on the playing floor rather than in the stands. Cut the guy some slack already!

Finally, in the NHL ... *crickets*

What NHL? Normally I don't follow hockey that much. This year, no one follows hockey, because it isn't there to follow. Everything is shut down while the owners and players try to bridge a wide gap in their pursuit of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. It appears very likely that the entire season will be lost, bringing to mind a host of "if a tree falls in the woods" references.

Fine, fine, FINE! You want a positive story ... Lance Armstrong. He won his sixth consecutive Tour de Franz, once again overcoming tremendous obstacles, pain, etc. With this being a "story of the year" story, the fact that this was six in a row shouldn't matter. What has happened in previous years should be irrelevant.

But ths impressive string is exactly what works against Armstrong every time annual accolades come around. Winning the Tour de Franz is a tremendous accomplishment no matter what the year. It reveals individual physical and mental strength of unimaginable proportions. Armstrong has anesthitized us to the enormity of winning one Tour, by making it look routine.

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Back when it became clear that even LA was not big enough for its two pampered stars (three if you count Phil Jackson), I had hoped that the Lakers would stick with Kobe and the youth and will to win that he seemed to have.

Little did I anticipate the year and a half (and counting) metamorphosis in LA's young star. Once a refreshingly different superstar and winner, Kobe has become a typical, NBA-caliber thug. And, with him at the helm, the Lakers have become a team that will win some and lose some as their lone star worries first about his personal stats, then about his team's fate. Out West, the best LA can hope for under Kobe, is a string of first-round playoff departures.

So, when seeing a renewed Shaq fueling the success of the Miami Heat, do I wish the Lakers had stuck with their big man instead? Unfair question. What I wish is that Shaq had shown up in shape and motivated when he played for the Lakers as he has done for the Heat. Shaq is doing well because he's got something to prove. Had he stayed in LA he likely would have continued to be a flabby, uncaring lump.

LA mortgaged their future to keep Kobe. It's hard for me to imagine what it will take to return the Lakers to NBA dominance. However, it's even harder to imagine the Lakers dominating with Kobe on board, so I guess something drastic is going to have to happen.

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As fond as I am of criticizing sports journalists, I had to applaud the AP's request that they be removed from the BCS formula. Anything that helps to promote the ultimate collapse of the charade that is the BCS is welcome.

That said, their reasons for this move are laughable.

"We should report the story, not BE the story." Ahhh yes. How shall I count the ways in which journalistic integrity has become an oxymoron.

The truth is, the BCS' flaws are becoming obvious. It is increasingly difficult for anyone to even pretend that this system is reasonable. What organization wants to be a part of such a clear sham!?

Mainly, it's hard to criticize the BCS, which is becoming the over-riding story here, when you are a key part of the system's flawed results.

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OK, you may agree or disagree with Michael Vick's new, best-in-the-NFL contract. The contract is a free choice between Rich McKay, Atlanta's GM, and Vick. Whether you like it or not is your choice. But please, please, PLEEEASE! don't use QB rating to support your opinion.

All morning long I've been listening to people who pretend to know better (i.e. sports journalists), complain that Vick's QB rating is #156 among the 32 NFL QB's. That's like saying Tim Duncan is over-rated because he doesn't steal the ball enough.

The value in Vick is not passing yards, TD's and Interceptions, the pure passing QB skills which are the key to QB rating. Michael Vick changes the game and the opposing defense's approach to the QB. Plus, as far as Atlanta is concerned, he puts people in the seats.


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I had to help a neighbor get her car unstuck yesterday. In the process I discovered in my garage a box containing 800 uncounted Washington Governor ballots from a heavily Republican area of Washington state, and a snow shovel.

The guy I bought my condo from left a shovel behind. Clearly, this guy didn't do a whole lot of shoveling. Granted, in a condo community in Louisville, KY, there isn't a whole lot of need for shoveling. But, when the need arises, you still want to have a shovel that works.

This thing is plastic, and not very strong plastic at that. And it's one of those wide and skinny models made to push rather than pick up the snow in question.

Problem is, our snow is always preceeded by rain and ice. You're not going to push it around. You need to break up the chunks of ice, lift them and throw them out of the way.

Right now muscles I never knew I had are complaining after yeserday's shoveling excursions, and I'm praying that I'll be able to extract my car from the parking spot I had to settle for sometime before next April.

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The real danger in winter weather is not the snow and ice. It's the drivers in the snow and ice. Here are the average driver's top 5 winter driving techniques:

  1. I've got a big monster truck of an SUV, so no changes for me. Snow. No snow. Doesn't matter. Unfortunately this kind of driver doesn't seem to know or remember that even under normal conditions they are an accident waiting to happen in a vehicle they can't manage.

  2. I've got a big monster truck of an SUV, but Cracky! That's a lot of snow! I'm going to drive like I've got a Yugo with bald tires!

  3. Slow=safe. Slower=safer. Slowest=safest! I'll be on the road, but it's going to be hard to tell I'm moving. I like to think of myself less as a driver and more as an additional obstacle for every other car on the road to negotiate.

  4. I can't understand it. I've got the brake pedal pushed all the way down and my car just keeps swerving uncontrollably!

  5. Ahhh! It's something less than sunny and clear! All bets are off! Straddle the lane divider - lanes! What lanes? Don't merge! Don't yield! Don't stop at traffic signals! Don't check my mirrors! Don't clear the snow off my windows! It's each man for himself! Point your vehicle and go!

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... *yawn*

A coach that's hard to get excited about goes to a program that's hard to get excited about.

Seriously - what's the big deal with Wannstedt? In 10+ years as an NFL head coach he hasn't proven himself. Granted, it's not like anyone was going to take Chicago to the playoffs, but it's hard to argue that Wannstedt elevated the team one bit. In Miami he inherited a team with potential and eeked out one playoff win. Under Wannstedt, the Dolphins cemented their reputations as under-achievers.

And now he moves to the college ranks, which is easier? I don't see that. You have to do everything that a coach at any level has to do, plus you have to recruit - something Wannstedt hasn't done for well over a decade.

So again I say ... *yawn*

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2004-12-20



I had to laugh so I wouldn't cry as I recently read two similar stories from New Jersey and Arizona, although I'm sure this issue is popping up across the nation. It seems school districts are banning songs that reference Christ from any of their Christmas, or rather, "Winter Holiday that falls in December" celebrations. In both cases, "Winter Wonderland" and "Frosty the Snowman" were deemed "suitable." So, it appears that besides Christ, substance is also on the chopping block.

Of course we are also annually treated to battles between city councils and the ACLU and other organizations over public nativity scenes. In addition, many cities have taken to calling their decorated, lighted trees, "Holiday trees."

All of that is nothing new. The biggest change I've noticed is the rise in Christians decrying this movement to "take Christ out of Christmas." While I appreciate the sensitivity, I'm dismayed that so many well-meaning Christians proudly proclaim the "true" meaning of the season: a cute little baby, wrapped in clean, white, cottony-soft blankets, with optional puffs of snow on the stable eaves and livestock that smile and sing but certainly don't smell.

One of the great things about Advent is the call to think about why Christ came, and examine ourselves in that light. The real question is: what will you do about this little baby? This one who tells the powerful that they have no power, and commands the rich to let go of their riches. This one who will kick over tables in the temple and will try to overturn all that seems logical and practical in your life. If we are content to leave this baby in the manger we have taken Christ out of Christ!

Recently I heard a school teacher tell of a class project - sending Christmas cards to our soldiers in Iraq. It seems some of the children were reluctant to wish the troops a "Merry Christmas" for fear that it would make them uncomfortable. This really strikes at the heart of the matter.

Christ came to make us all uncomfortable. The power in Christmas is not a baby in a manger. That is something warm, fuzzy and entirely comfortable. No. The true power in Christmas is an innocent man on a cross and an empty tomb. It is a Spirit relentlessly pursuing and challenging, convicting and inspiring.

We need not worry about the world's semantics at this time of year, for we have plenty to deal with on our own. The question that faced a Bethlehem innkeeper 2000+ years ago is the same question that faces each of us today: Do you have room?

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2004-12-18



Just in case someone out there somewhere still harbored the illusion that the NFL's Minority Hiring Policy accomplishes anything remotely constructive, we have in evidence the Miami Dolphins' coaching search to put it to rest.

Here's how it breaks down: Miami has a head coach vacancy. They are hot for Nick Sabin. So hot they are offering him the $$ and control that he wants. Sabin, by all indications, is interested in the job. Sounds like a match made in heaven, right?

Well, it probably is, but unfortunately, despite the mutual desire, the whole thing is on hold right now. You see, according to the NFL's Minority Hiring policy, the Dolphins have to interview a minority candidate before they can hire Sabin.

That is exactly the situation. It's not that they have to interview a minority candiate before they can make a decision. The decision has been made. In this case, as in the Lions / Steve Mariucci case last season, the Dolphins will need to persuade a minority candidate to sit for an interview for a job he knows he won't get.

The point is, affirmative action NFL-style doesn't work any better than in the real world. Instead of improving opportunities for minority coaches it embarrasses them (at least I'd be embarrased) with token interviews.

Defenders of the policy claim that even when the minority candidate doesn't get the job, they benefit from having access to the NFL's top decision-makers. If that's the case, how come the Lions couldn't get anyone to come in for an interview?!

NFL owners have millions and millions of dollars riding on their personnel. There probably have been and will be cases where in reality, there won't be $2 difference between the results realized from hiring a minority vs. a non-minority coach. The owners' perception however, has to be that hiring a head coach is a critical, multi-million dollar decision. They aren't going to be goaded into hiring a coach they don't want, and a $200K fine like that levied on the Lions' Matt Millen, while nothing to sneeze at, isn't going to change things.

Whomever Wayne Huizenga persuades to sit for an interview is not going to get the Miami job. Not because he's a minority but because he's not Nick Sabin! I really don't believe there are very many owners in the NFL who are dead set against hiring a minority. Again, it's a competitive business. They want a winner, period, and if they thought a troll could get them to the Super Bowl, they'd hire a troll.

Right now, there are a handful of coaches for whom most NFL owners would pay any price. Unfortunately, right now, all of those coaches are white. Chalk it up to past inequities or whatever. It is the way it is. The tide will turn. Right now there are number of black coaches on the rise, compiling resumes of success.

That is the bottom line. Success. No coach got to where he is today without a track record of success all the way through the coaching pipeline. These days there are more minorities in that pipeline, and this will eventually, but slowly, translate into more minority head coaches.

And when you force a minority coach into a situation for which he isn't ready, you deal a setback to your own movement. Tyrone Willingham didn't fail at Notre Dame because he's a minority. He failed because it would be tough for any coach to make the jump from a bit of success at Stanford to the pressure cooker that is Irish Football. Still, Willingham has that on his record and now, when he does mature to Notre Dame caliber coach it will be tougher for him to land a blue chip job.

Note to all the affirmative action enthusiasts out there: You can't fix problems which were years, decades or even centuries in the making, overnight. You can't fix them with a policy. You can't fix them by blindly and ineffectively throwing money at the situation. You must rightly take down the barriers and let the opportunities come. For minorities and non-minorities alike, success begets success.

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2004-12-17



An attorney's editorial in today's Seattle Post-Intelligencer provides an important reminder that "activist judging" or lack thereof cuts both ways.

In the case in question, a mother was eavesdropping on a phone conversation between her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend who also happened to be a robbery suspect. The mother's testimony helped convict the boyfriend, but the verdict was overturned when the Washington Supreme Court ruled that the eavesdropping violated the Privacy Act.

In the author's opinion, upholding the evidence provided by the mother would have opened a new exemption in the Privacy Act, something which, if it had been done toward a philosophically liberal end would certainly have resulted in an outcry from the right. He also notes that the case has resulted in a public call for "more conservative judges." His point: you can't have your cake and eat it too!
The conservative approach means courts generally will not try to rescue overbroad statutes by reading them 'reasonably... If judges truly follow the conservative approach and limit their decisions to the law as written, there will be many more cases such as Christensen. The literal application of the law will lead to results that seem 'ridiculous.' In contrast, if people want judges to reach less "ridiculous" conclusions, they should be willing for judges to interpret the law more broadly ...

This is a great piece because it gets at a problem in our society that runs much deeper than the traditional liberal vs. conservative conflict. We have a consistency problem. I would go so far as to call it an integrity problem. Some want to pile on Bill Clinton but don't want the same model applied to GWB. Speaking of GWB, some can't seem to forget that he lost the popular vote in 2000 and at the same time can't seem to remember that he won it this year.

Personally, I want judges who are judicially conservative-leaning, ruling on what the law actually declares with some, but not much leeway in applying the intent of the framers of the law. You see, when a judge decides to change the law by taking it beyond its intended boundaries, we are helpless. It is our legislators' job to make, change and remove laws, and we can hold them accountable.

Finally, it just seems to me that letting your daughter date a criminal is a bad idea. I realize that when kids get to the age where they are interested in the opposite sex, it's time to start letting them have some freedom to make choices and experience consequences. I believe however, that I'd be stepping in with the "not under my roof" clause when a felon appears at the door to pick up my daughter.

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After 15 weeks of crazed yuppies running amuck in NYC, washing pets, refurbishing houses and selling candy bars, Donald Trump has hired Kelly Perdew to be his second Apprentice.

I've got to admit, this one wasn't as clear cut, nor as satisfying. Kelly was the strongest of the field, but it was a weaker field than Trump had in the show's maiden season which gave us Kwame, Troy, Nick, Amy and eventual winner, Bill.

Bill and Kwame walked and talked and shared wine on the roof of Trump Tower on the eve of last season's final boardroom. With the fury of competition having died, the dust settled on two quality gentlemen. I realized that Donald Trump was the real winner as either candidate would be a credit to his organization.

Not so this season as the final episode revealed. Sure, Kelly seems like a solid guy, but he's not the business natural that Bill Rancick is. His inaction at critical times might have been fatal, had Elizabeth not stepped up during the final challenge.

Still, this one shouldn't have been close. Jennifer was not the leader, not the vital team member, not the creative force that she made herself out to be. But, she is a lawyer and a hungry opportunist. She stumbled into undeserved credit a couple of times. Mainly, she was rarely a key piece in her team's effort which meant that she wasn't a target for blame when her teams failed - and they failed often.

Jennifer's real strength, as a lawyer, was her ability to talk. She advanced by simply out-arguing her opponents. Trump seems to like this, but I wonder about a business leader who interrupts and doesn't allow others to get a word in edge-wise.

I am still baffled by Trump's fondness for Jennifer. Earlier in the season he commented several times on how Jennifer "flies under the radar" and wondered aloud why her teammates didn't bring her to the boardroom. In fact, I still can't even figure out the rationale for choosing Jennifer over Kevin.

But, all's well that ends well. Congratulations to Kelly. Now I'm looking forward to season 3 and the book-smart vs. street-smart teams. This is a dynamic that has been present as high school-educated entrepreneurs Troy (season 1) and Sandy (season 2) advanced deep into the competition and challenged their formally educated foes.

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2004-12-16



Banc of America Securities has rated Google at neutral. Discussion over at Forbes.

Basically the thought is that, while Google has built a strong brand, it hasn't really had to compete, business-wise, yet. To translate its name recognition into dollars and cents the company will have to market which will significantly drive up expenses, and BOA doesn't believe that in return Google will be able to command top dollar for advertising, thus squeezing revenue possibilities.

Most of this is pretty reasonable. Advertising is king. This is why, even though they got to the game late, Microsoft can compete. They have the resources to endure not being the top dog for a long time. On the other hand, now that they have gone public, Google is on the clock. They may not have to achieve profitability yet, but they have to show that it can be achieved in the foreseeable future.

I do dispute the notion that Google can't set premium advertising rates. They've done a great job of building their brand and have become an online superstar. Granted, the size of their following is ireelevant since advertisers pay by the impression and click, but I'm having trouble figuring out why an advertiser wouldn't be lusting after the Google audience. In addition, from everything I've read, with their technology Google's audience targeting is among the best available.

This will be an interesting case to watch. Many strong players have gone public and wilted, in much more patient times. Now the heat is on ... if anyone can make it, it's Google.

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Powerline has gotten ahold of a Democratic Party e-mail outlining the dastardly schemes of the GOP.

The piece is OK ... pretty standard stuff. But Hindrocket's commentary, as always, is solid.
It has been widely noted that the Democrats did much better in local races last month than they did on the national scene, ... I would guess that at least part of the reason is that Democratic candidates in local races didn't fall into the Moore/Soros cartoon world, but actually talked with some intelligence about the problems facing their constituents.

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So ... over at Left, er West Wing, they're dealing with an asteroid hurtling toward earth! How ... not West Wing. I'm not suggesting that the show has jumped the shark just yet. But perhaps there is blood in the water?

Really I'm just trying to figure out why the writers would resort to this other than that the ratings are slipping. But then I remembered that this isn't an action movie so I'm thorougly baffled.

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I'm a big Apprentice junkie. But, I've avoided commenting on the show here because I jumped in mid-stream in the current season and don't have the long view of someone who has been there from the start. However, as we come down to the final episode, I've got to get some thoughts in.

One other caveat: I'm always cautious when it comes to reality shows. They are edited and engineered for entertainment value, not for accuracy.

Thought 1: I'm dying to know the logic behind the selections for final two. Kelly was an obvious choice going in, and the interviews in the last episode only seemed to confirm that. For the second spot however, it was a free-for-all.

I really get the feeling that at some point Trump decided he wanted a woman against a man in the final. He fired Kevin quickly, and candidly told Sandi and Jennifer that they were competing for the final spot. I'm not arguing with firing Sandy, although she's more likeable than Jennifer. It's the choice between Kevin and Jennifer that I'm curious. Which brings me to ...

Thought 2: I'd love more detail on the interview show. On the second last episode, the final four candidates are interviewed by top executives who advise Donald Trump who in turn will whittle the group down to 2 by the end of the show. The tough thing about the Apprentice is that, although it has been wildly successful, its subject matter can often be not very entertaining to someone who isn't a student of business

The interview show (or half-show in the case of this season) is a great example. We see snippets of questions and snippets of answers. As a businessman, I find myself wanting to hear more of the questions and more of the answers. In addition it'd be nice if we could hear why the interviewers asked those questions and what the answers meant to them. But again, I guess that's not good television.

Thought 3: Does Trump really prefer the ultra-agressive attack-mode executive in his boardroom, or is that just a TV thing? Granted, having someone with the courage to speak their mind is good. Having someone who will get after it when doing their job is good. But for the last two or three weeks we've been treated to several minutes of Jennifer yelling anything and everything that she can think of that is wrong with her opponents, not letting others get a word in, interrupting and being generally rude and disrespectful. There is something to be said for decorum as well.

So we're on to the final round. Kelly is running a polo match and Jen a basketball tournament. And each has three previously fired Apprentice hopefuls working for them.

Thought 4: I'd like to see Trump tweak the helpers a little. This season is even worse than last. I'm not sure if these were the only six that were willing to come back or what. But at least in season 1 he used the last six to be fired so the final two candidates had some quality material to choose from.

I think Trump needs to give the helpers some incentive to do well. Granted, in any organization you are going to have people who don't see or care about the organization's success, but not at the senior management level. The most the two CEO's can hope for is that their helpers will see this as one more chance to shine and improve their own post-Apprentice prospects.

So, here we go! A three-hour Apprentice marathon tonight. They left things looking bad for Kelly and Jen last week, of course. As a Kelly fan, I'm concerned. Kelly's problem is the whether which he can hardly be held responsible for. On the other hand, Jennifer might lose Chris Weber (which, everyone knows that Chris Weber disappears down the stretch) because she didn't take a bigger role in communications with the NBA. One would think that this is bad for Jennifer. But, once again remembering how they engineer these things for entertainment, it suggests that there will be some sort of dramatic developement. Perhaps Jen will "save the day" even though it shouldn't have needed saving in the first place.

My money is still on Kelly. Jen has no imagination and doesn't really get it. She has an attorney's drive and ability to dig into the details as needed. But she doesn't seem able to see the broad strokes that are necessary to make a project go, much less to execute or drive the execution of those broad strokes. She has been riding on the coattails of others and now finds herself in a position where that isn't possible.

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2004-12-14



RAVE: I've been carrying on an e-mail discussion with the Condo Board President and our Management Company this morning, and am very impressed with Google's GMail features. The conversation is laid out with the header for each message cascading, with the current message on top. Thus, you can get to a previous message with the click of a button rather than having to scroll through a forest of e-mail jibberish.

RANT: Someone is hot to sell me some coedine today! On the bright side, GMail's spam filter is kicking. To date it has not failed in its quest to separate the wheat from the chaffe.

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2004-12-13



Yet another promising Volleyball season has ended early for the U of Hawaii Rainbow Wahine with a loss to #22 Wisconsin in the Regional Semi-finals.

The BCS may be a mess, but it has nothing on Women's Volleyball. #2 Hawaii, playing in what is arguably the nation's toughest region, finished their season undefeated. And for their trouble, Hawaii was placed in the Green Bay, WI regional against a team from Wisconsin!

I'm not trying to make excuses, mind you. If #2 wants a championship, they need to figure out how to beat #22 regardless of time or place. The funny thing is, there was a Seattle regional which would have been much more reasonable for Hawaii. The top seed in that region? Penn State!

Volleyball is one sport where the power lies out west. 15 of the 64 teams in the tournament hail from Pacific coast states, most of them from California. Yet two of the regionals were placed east of the Mississippi in Wisconsin and Kentucky, and a third, just across the river in Minnesota.

Ordinarily when the NCAA makes nonsensical decisions, money is the motivator. That's not the case here. The good teams are out west because the interest is out west.

Oh well, time to start looking forward to Men's Volleyball ... don't even get me started on their championship system!

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An no-holds-barred challenge to liberals over at Ace of Spades, and equally on-target
followup commentary by John over at Right Wing News.

What to quote, what to quote ... from Ace:

""The left-liberals have been convinced for some time that America really wants a left-liberal or "progressive" agenda, and that what's holding them back has been the political cowardice of the Democratic leadership and candidates ...

Here's the thing: this theory will continue to distort Democratic politics until it is actually tried. Until it is given a shot to work -- or fail -- we're going to continue to have a Democratic Party which simply refuses to take a clear stance as to what they actually believe."

There is so much more in both pieces. Amen to the comments on the righteous crusading of West Wing. Amen to the thought that the "campaign in the center so you can govern left" denies voters their chance to make an informed decision.

Sadly, the desire for honesty and integrity in politics is a pipe dream.

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I always enjoy OTB's Caption Contests. Heck, I even enjoy the pictures they come up with for the contest.

But, I found this contest to be particularly "laugh-out-loud" funny.

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OpenOffice.org boasts "a free productivity suite compatible with all major office suites." Download here.

For openers, I've just installed it and browsed the pieces and features, so anything I say is not rooted in extensive use of OpenOffice at this point.

First, all the pieces are there: word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, and database. OO features the ability to open and create documents in all major office program formats. To test my install I opened one of my existing Word documents and was pleased. This particular document featured a big table and quite a bit of special formatting. OO's text editior didn't miss a beat. I also opened a several-page workbook, heavy in links and a variety of cell reference types and a lot of special formatting. Once again, OO appears to have performed like a champ.

At first blush, OO has much to excite a die-hard MS Office user like myself. It appears that every piece of the suite can create a .pdf file which, for anyone who shares data with any frequency, is huge. There also appears to be robust support for html, web-authoring, xml and other items which should be mandatory these days, but are often lacking or too complicated to be practical in office suites.

The database tools also show promise. But here is one of my tradeoffs: interactivity with MS Access files seems quetionable which is neither surprising or alarming. MS Access is the most proprietary part of the MS Office suite. Unfortunately for me, it is also a tool with which I am very comfortable. However, I recognize that Access is easy to use but also accomodates less than sound database admin practices. So, there will be a little bit of learning involved for me, but then again, this was education I was needing anyway.

Another tradeoff: macros and programming. I'm a big fan of Visual Basic. I have a number of general utilities in my toolbox and lean on VB to alleviate difficult or cumbersome data-handling projects. I'm guessing that OO won't support my macros. They do however offer both the ability to record macros, and their own programming language called "BASIC." So, I will be exploring this further.

So, this is not MS Office. Obviously that has all the Linux geeks crazy excited about it. But, it does appear to be a capable alternative, which is nice.

As an accountant, I'm here to say that MS Excel is the standard in business. I'm sure there are plenty of organizations out there that use a different spreadsheet product. But, the vast majority use Excel, along with the vast majority of accountants. If you find yourself in a financial data-sharing situation, such as an audit or financial statement distribution and can not handle or produce an Excel file, you've significantly added to your workload.

In the past I've dealt with files from alternative programs, in many cases a Linux-based spreadsheet program, which were horrid. First they didn't share formatting well at all. Best case, they simply dropped any special format instruction. More commonly they produced a bastardized rendering of the original. There were also issues with anything beyond basic formulae. So, OO's apparent flexibility is refreshing.

Also, I must admit that sometimes MS Word drives me up the wall with the way it handles formatting. Perhaps WordStar and later WordPerfect wrecked me for any other word processor. None-the-less, a word processor is not optional. So, I'd like to think that OO will be a strong alternative here.

In conclusion, OpenOffice appears to offer a strong, feature-rich package in which the average MS Office user will sacrifice little, if at all. Best of all, it's free!

Do I see myself abandoning MS Office and embracing OpenOffice? Not even close! But, I do see using both programs in parallel, and taking advantage of the features of each.



Initial summary: Positives

- Excellent interaction with MS Office documents and workbooks
- Cost: FREE!
- An excellent selection of web-authoring tools
- .pdf output available in all pieces of the package

Initial summary: Negatives

- Some MS Office features not supported
- Interactivity with MS Access not as complete as other parts of the package
- A new macro / programming language

Thanks to Slashdot for pointing this one out.

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2004-12-10



On had to wonder when embedded reporters would return to being "journalists," i.e. those who distort and manipulate in order to advance a, in most cases, liberal agenda. Last month we had the mosque shooting. Now WaPo reports that an embedded journalist prompted a soldier's recent question to Sec of Defense Rumsfeld.

Now, let's be clear. I'm not suggesting that the question wasn't valid. It was. The discussion should be had, and the problem fixed. However, when raising the issue becomes secondary to stirring up division and undermining the cohesiveness of our fighting force, you belong behind a desk in New York, not on the front line.

A military member would never address a superior in the manner that this soldier addressed the #2 man in his chain of command without prompting. I've reconciled myself to general media bias but this continued abuse of our military and military protocol sickens me.

The difference between a military man and a journalist: journalists are beginning to seize upon opportunities to betray their host units, but if things get dicey and the unit comes under attack those same fighting men will walk through fire to preserve the life of the journalist.

Send the reporters home. You can malign and deceive just as well from the US, and do so without further complicating the job our soldiers are doing.

That said, it's a shame that the core issue in the soldier's question is being lost amid the firestorm surrounding the reporter's involvement.

When you send someone to do a job, you equip them for that job, period.

Part of the problem was our military not anticipating the nature of the war that would unfold. I don't fault leadership for this. Some things you just can't know until they happen. At this point however, we should have plenty of information as to the challenges we are facing and the equipment that will most effictively counterract them.

This brings us to the second part of the problem: our military's supply system is archaic. Because our military's mission in war or peace-time is hyper-critical, there is a reluctance to trust relatively new technology and logistic procedures. I was in nuclear power where a dose of caution is healthy. When it comes to supply however, there is so much efficiency to be gained from an agressive overhaul of policies and procedures.

Which brings us to the final, and most deeply entrenched part of the problem. Congress has too much say in the military procurement process. One would think that military leaders should be deciding what systems are needed to fight and defend in the 21st century ... and one would be wrong. Such decisions are made by horse-trading on Capitol Hill. Effectiveness is secondary. Which Congressional districts should receive or lose jobs is the primary consideration.

So, an issue has been raised, albeit in a somewhat inappropriate manner. Let's see if the MSM can move beyond their "sky is falling in Iraq" story and get at the roots of the problem. I'm not holding my breath.

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2004-12-09



Over at Washington Monthly, Kevin Drum, the Political Animal has some questions for Conservatives. It seems he'd like us to "have a brutally honest conversation," and he poses 8 questions, a few of them quite contrived, which I'm sure he feels are some real "gotcha's" for Conservatives. The thing is, the questions aren't that tough. The fact that Drum thinks these are real sticklers, reveals a shallow thought process on his part.

Anyway. I firmly believe that a person needs to know what they believe and why. In that spirit, here are my replies to Drum.

1. Considering how Iraq has gone so far, do you still think that American military power is a good way to promote tolerance and democracy in the Middle East? Has your position on this changed in any way over the past two years?

A sleazy abuse of cause and effect. No, I don't think military power is a good way to promote tolerance and democracy. But, I also don't think that falling asleep is a good way to promote the cause of Christ in this world. Still, there I am, night after night, in bed. Turns out, if I don't get a decent night of sleep I'm no good the next day. Likewise, the use of military power is instrumental in creating a climate and bringing about situations that will breed tolerance and democracy.

Do I think that removing an opressive dictator from power is a good way to promote tolerance and democracy? Absolutely. Keeping deadly weapons out of the hands of maniacs? Yes. Checking and removing evil men who think nothing of destroying innocent women and children? Yes. And do I think military power is a good way to accomplish these things? In many cases it is the only way.

As far as the second part, has my position changed? Hard to tell. I would never have thought to ask myself such a twisted question without Drum's help. But as far as the basis for my answer, nothing has changed.

2. Shortly after 9/11, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson said publicly that they thought the attacks were well-deserved retribution from God in response to moral decay — as personified by gays, feminists, the ACLU, and NOW. Do you worry that Falwell and Robertson are identified by many as the face of the Republican party? Do you think President Bush has sufficiently distanced himself from them and their followers?

No, I don't worry that Falwell and Robertson are identified by many as the face of the Republican party. These guys are both yesterday's news, although I guess that sometimes those on the left enjoy dropping their names to create a little stir. I personally haven't heard anything from either of the two in quite a while, and I've certainly never seen or heard anythng to suggest that they are intrinsically linked to the President.

As for the Bush distancing himself ... it's irrelevant. I don't feel the President has gone out of his way to embrace or withdraw from the two which is reasonable and acceptable. Now, had either been given a place of honor at the Republican Convention ( a la Michael Moore at the DNC), or something of that sort, things would be different.

Clearly this is an attempt to take advantage of Bush's appeal to people of faith. Drum could have just as easily referenced Billy Graham and the Pope, but Robertson and Falwell were calculated choices for dramatic effect.

3. Is democracy promotion really one of your core concerns? Just how far are you willing to go to demonstrate your credibility on this subject? Note: President Bush's policy toward either Pakistan or Saudi Arabia would be excellent case studies to bring this question to life.

Ummm ... no, it is not one of my core concerns. Being a living example of Christ in this world is a core concern. Promoting an environment in which men are free to contemplate and serve God and their fellow man is a core concern.

That said, there are other things that are important, though not core. Promoting democracy is one of these.

4. On a related note, which do you think is more important to the Bush administration in the short term: preservation of a stable oil supply from the Middle East or spreading freedom and liberty throughout the region? Would you be interested in seeing the records of Dick Cheney's 2001 energy task force to verify this? Please be extra honest with this question.

Of course, the supply of oil. I've never been able to figure out why we're supposed to feel bad about this. The volatile Middle East sits atop a significant portion of the world's oil. We are extremely vulnerable in this respect. This is like asking, "What's more important: breathing or desert?" The President didn't choose for us to be dependent. He's simply stuck dealing with the reality.

This never ceases to amaze me. Liberals will strain to find some reason to blame GWB for not being vigilant in protecting us on 9/11, then turn around and criticize him for defending this lifeline, and complain when they have to pay too much for a gallon of gas. "No blood for oil?" People spout this platitude like they've unearthed some dirty little secret. What do you think is done with that oil? Unless you rode your bicycle to work today, and are burning wood to heat your home, and don't use electricity, etc., you don't have to look very far. It's not blood for oil. It's blood for life. Blood for freedom.

You've got him dead to rights, Mr. Drum. Oil is important for this nation's survival - George W Bush understands that and acts accordingly.

5. A substantial part of the Christian right opposes any compromise with Palestinians because they believe that Jewish domination of the region west of the Jordan River is a precondition for the Second Coming. Is this a reasonable belief? Or do you think these people qualify as loons who should be purged from the Republican party?

In the book of Revelation, the BIble lays out some things that will happen in the MIddle East leading up to the end times. And, I must admit, I am often curious how what is happening now, and the peace process, etc., will play into all of that.

But, this I know: God's will will prevail, and I can neither prevent Him from doing something He wants, nor force Him to do something He doesn't want. With or without me, His will will be done. I must be sensitive to finding His will for me and faithful in following His leading so that I won't be an impediment.

Next, it is a gross exaggeration to say this is how a "substantial part" of the Christian right thinks. This is simply Drum playing fast and loose with logic in an attempt to discredit the Christian right and lure the reader into dismissing this group.

Is this a reasonable belief? That's not for me to say. I don't hold any strong feelings on the matter, but how should I know whether or not, or how God is speaking to others? I certainly wouldn't qualify those who do think that way as loons. THEY ARE ENTITLED TO THEIR OPINIONS AND BELEIFS. That last statement is my answer to whether or not someone should be purged from the Republican Party simply because they don't think the same way I do on such a minor matter.

This question was rooted in liberal philosophy. If someone doesn't agree with you on whatever you happen to be discussing at the moment, you call them stupid or loony and give them the boot. This from a party that can ill afford to lose anyone.

6. Yes or no: do you think we should invade Iran if it becomes clear — despite our best efforts — that they are continuing to build nuclear weapons? If this requires a military draft, would you be in favor?

I admit, dealing with the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea concerns me. We must agressively pursue multi-national, diplomatic measures first. However, if this leads to stonewalling, and further examples of UN impotence, we must not let our resolve be questioned. The thing that scares me more than military intervention in Iran or North Korea is the thought of either of these nations possessing nuclear weapons.

Since when is Iran the key to the draft? We certainly do not require a draft to deal with that nation. It isn't that we are outnumbered in Iraq - it's the style of the conflict and sometimes the way our troops are used.

However, if at some point we find that we are unable to field a viable, effective military, I am in favor of the draft. To quote Thomas Jefferson: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." The freedom that allows Drum to whimper before a vast audience comes at a price, and we all know this. I have no problem asking someone to pay for something they've enjoyed.

7. If President Bush decides to substantially draw down our troop presence in Iraq after the January 30 elections, will you support that decision? Please answer this question prior to January 30.

In general, I assume that the President will act in the best interest of this nation and therefore I will support his decisions. I believe it is in our country's interest to establish a self-governing Iraq. I also recognize that there are many who would love to see this venture fail. Their efforts will intensify as the elections draw closer, are held and a new government attempts to take root. We must see this through until the new government can survive on its own, or we will have wasted hundreds of young American lives.

If I feel the President is bowing to political pressure and withdrawing too quickly, I'll have no problem saying so. I'll have no problem disagreeing on that point while still approving of and being thankful for George W Bush as President.

8. Would you agree that people who accept Laurie Mylroie's crackpot theories about Saddam Hussein's involvement in 9/11 might be taking the threat of terrorism a little too seriously? What do you think should be done with them?

Admittedly I am not familiar with Mylroie or that person's theories. But, this is a good chance to discuss a point often abused by the left. While Iraq may not have been directly involved in 9/11, Saddam never even attempted to hide his support for terrorists and terror networks. We know that Iraq provided medical treatment to key Al-Qaida members. President Bush has said, and I completely agree, that we must confront terrorists directly and indirectly by going after their support structure.

Next, is it possible to take terrorism too seriously? I still remember 9/11 and am not likely to lighten up on terrorism any time soon. And, once again, the liberals would dearly love to be able to prove that GWB didn't do enough prior to 9/11, yet they'll turn around and say that we're overdoing it now.

And the very last question of the piece betrays the liberal mindset. "What do you think should be done with them?" What kind of question is that? Like something should be done to or with someone based solely on how they think!

You want an answer ... Fine! What should be done with them is that we should recognize that they are American citizens, and as such they are allowed to think differently than me or you without anything being done with them.


There you have it. And to read the commenst over at Washington Monthly, you'd think that Drum had come up with a masterpiece of checkmate questions. In actuality, none of these should be difficult for anyone with a consistent worldview.

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2004-12-08



The election behind us, Congress gets ready to tackle an ambitious agenda: social security, same-sex marriage, national security, and baseball?

Yes, no less than Maverick Senator, John McCain (R-AZ) is taking aim at MLB over its steroid policy.

Make no mistake - the inmates are running the assylum in MLB, and the league's steroid policy, if you want to call it that, is a joke. Remember, during this past spring training, over 5% of these players failed a drug test that they had been warned of several months in advance.

My problem is that I just can't seem to find the cause for government involvement. Granted, Congress never seems to require a reason to screw something up. Unfortunately, the Players' Union and Owners have beaten them to the punch in the case of MLB.

The calamity that many are proclaiming is an illusion. Where are the victims? Who has been hurt?

Certainly not the fans. They didn't need to wait for recent confessions by Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds to realize that chemical engineering is rampant in Major League Baseball, and has been for years. The sport isn't about to lose its integrity in the eyes of the fan because there isn't any integrity to lose.

The players? After all, steroids literally leave a trail of death and physical destruction in their path. But there are no mysteries here. It's a simple calculation: the price for near-term glory is long-term health. Some players feel the risk is worth the reward.

The owners? The MLBPA? Please. Together they've created this monster.

Today I heard the "we need to protect the children" angle, and was almost persuaded. When nothing is done about this, the story goes, it demonstrates to young minds that cheating is acceptable, and health-altering chemicals are just the ticket.

Alas, this is the oldest trick in the book. whenever a government figure wants to justify taking action, they invoke children. Truth is, there are many things out there that children need to be protected from. Why should the government do, or rather attempt to do, the parents' job? Personally, I'd rather have a child taught that there are limits to government's reach.

Sorry, there are no victims here ... no tragedy. All that has really changed is that the "ignorance defense" has been removed. No longer can Bud Selig, owners, the MLBPA, and even fans pretend that this problem doesn't exist. They are now all faced with inescapable evidence. You all haven't been enlightend, you've been out-ed.

Finally, today I read that Bud Selig would accept government help in this situation. How lame is that? Selig and the owners have, for years, backed down, given in, and ceded power to the players' association. Now they want the government to bail them out? Bureaucratic thinking dug this hole - it will hardly be able to find a solution.

Bottom line: I don't spend my enteratainment dollars on baseball, and I certainly don't want to spend my tax dollars there.

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2004-12-03



Why John Kerry's support of the hopeless re-count in Ohio? Perhaps this little snippet over at Blog for America, formerly Dean for America, will help:
Best wishes Mike.
And democracy is number one.
Recount the votes. If the truth prevails, W will stand for "gone".

It's really just a variation on Kerry's general assumption that people are stupid, and his correct assumption that Bush-hate is blind.

Merit. Evidence. Logic. These are irrelevant. Appearance, conjecture and emotion carry the day. The fact that even if the results of the discarded ballot count were unrealistically extreme in Kerry's favor he could only close to within 20-30,000 votes of the President doesn't matter.

All that does matter is that there is a re-count going on somewhere and Kerry's name is attached to it. There are many who don't need much to throw the whole election into question. They are searching, desperately grasping for some kind of handle. Something that they can use to re-assure themselves that there is some reason for losing the election other than 3 million more people voting for the other candidate. There's a recount! I knew it! That Bush stole the election again!

That'll be plenty to hold them over until everything is made public. Then Michael Moore can start working his magic on the truth.

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2004-12-01



Whether or not universities in general have too high expectations for their coaches is a discussion for another day. This is about Notre Dame, Ty Willingham and the past three seasons.

I'm hearing the cries of, "What? Do they expect a championship every season?!" and I'm baffled. To listen to some people, you'd think the coach has been kicking butt, and his firing is a mystery. The fact that the Irish faithful have chronic championship aspirations is irrelevant. Notre Dame hasn't even been close to that level under Willingham, and they didn't appear to be moving in the right direction.

On the surface, Willingham's performance seems reasonable: a 21-15 record highlighted by wins over Michigan (twice), Florida State in 2002, and Tennessee this year. Plus, after a down season the Irish have once again been invited to a Bowl.

The catch is, Willingham won his first eight games at the helm of a team he inherited, which has helped to mask a truly mediocre run. Since then, Notre Dame has been a paltry 13-15, and they've failed on a number of fronts.

One can look at losses in games the Irish should have won; Boston College 3 yrs in a row, Syracuse, BYU, and Pittsburgh. Perhaps the Irish are reluctant to join the Big East in football because they are tired of making that league look better than they are.

Even more painful for fans, there were the embarrasing blowouts; Purdue by nearly 2 TD's a year ago and by 25 this year, Michigan by 38 last year, Florida State by 37 last year, and USC by 30+ points for three years running. You're living on borrowed time at Notre Dame if you can't even be competitive in games such as these.

Many like to look at Bowls; the Irish lost by 22 to NC State in the Gator Bowl two years ago, weren't eligible last year, and have been invited to the Insight Bowl, a pre-New Year's Day tilt this year. Let me add, that the one area where Notre Dame will always have a clear advantage is Bowl Selection. In an era where teams are fighting for spots in the prime bowls, the Irish have the distinction of having been the least deserving at-large team in the short history of the BCS. Notre Dame can always count on an invite to a higher bowl than their performance merits, simply because they draw a crowd wherever they go. This probably accounts for their recent run of poor bowl showings.

Overall, the USC games stand out. Many would argue that the Trojans have been the best team in the country for the last two years. So, those contests stand out as annual, season-ending reminders that not only are the Irish not competing for a national championship, they aren't even close.

Finally, whether or not they are justified, the Irish powers that be have high expectations for their football team. You know this. I know this. And, Ty Willingham knew this when he took the job. Sure, there is a lot of pressure. But there is also a long line of coaches that would give their right arm to work in South Bend. It was a great opportuity and now Coach Willingham is paying the price for that opportunity. He need not be ashamed of the job he did, but he also should not be surprised that he is unemployed right now.

So ... who's next?

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