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Friday, October 31, 2003
Charlie Weaver to Resign

Pawlenty's Chief of Staff is resigning to take over the Minnesota Business Partnership.

Like him or hate him, Weaver has proven to be able. It will be interesting to see if Gov. Timmy can replace him with someone of equal talent.


Over at Bob's Links and Rants, Bob is troubled by the following incident:

A man described by authorities as a known sexual predator was chased through the streets of South Philadelphia by an angry crowd of Catholic high school girls, who kicked and punched him after he was tackled by neighbors, police said Friday.

Rudy Susanto, 25, who had exposed himself to teen-age girls on as many as seven occasions outside St. Maria Goretti School, struck again on Thursday just as students were being dismissed, police said.

But this time, a group of girls in school uniforms angrily confronted Susanto with help from some neighbors, police said.

When Susanto tried to run, more than 20 girls chased him down the block. Two men from the neighborhood caught him and the girls took their revenge.

"The girls came and started kicking him and punching him, so I wasn't going to stop them," neighbor Robert Lemons told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Susanto was later treated for injuries at a local hospital. Police said he would be charged with 14 criminal counts including harassment, disorderly conduct, open lewdness and corrupting the morals of a minor.

Opines Bob:

I'm a member of the ACLU, so I'm familiar with taking the unpopular side of some issues. I don't condone lewdness. But imagine a 25-year-old woman showing her breasts to a bunch of teenage boys. Black teenage boys. White woman. They chase her down the street, where neighbors tackle her so the boys can beat her up. Who gets arrested? (The article doesn't mention the race of any of those involved.)

Of course, NOT ONE of those 20 girls could POSSIBLY have had a cell phone (you never see teenage girls with cell phones, do you?) to call the cops and have Susanto arrested properly. No. In America, you chase the guy down the street and beat him up, with the help of some thoughtful neighbors. In America, non-violent sex offenses are worse than gang beatings. And consensual sex with interns is impeachable, but starting two wars on no evidence is not.

Sorry, Bob, but I'm not going to lose one second's sleep over this--and neither should anyone else.

Bob's first concern--what if the roles were reversed?--is absurd on its face. The fact is, while we liberals are loath to admit it, there are differences between men and women. Ironically, Dan Savage touches on this in his latest column (Warning: Savage's Savage Love column is not for the puritanical):

You're right, GRABASS: Most women would mind being groped by a stranger in a store--betcha most women would call the cops. And why is that? Because male-on-female groping has a different context than female-on-male groping. Very few men are raped, abused, or murdered by women, GRABASS, and women can hear the word "no" without stalking or terrorizing the men who've dumped them. Not all straight men are violent rapists or nutso stalkers, of course, but most women either know someone of their own gender who has been the victim of male sexual violence, or have been victimized themselves. So a man who grabs a woman he doesn't know isn't going to be perceived as a friendly, flirty guy, GRABASS, but as a mortal threat.

Yes, this is a question of groping versus exposing, but we're talking a matter of degree. And guess what? The exposer in this case was rightly viewed by the girls as a mortal threat.

Could one of the girls called police on a cell phone? Sure. But this is the classic liberal approach: self-defense is not an option. Call the police. Sure, the guy may get away, and may assault other girls. But don't defend yourself, whatever you do.


I'm as big a civil libertarian as you're likely to meet. My wife chides me for taking the side of criminals. The best man in my wedding is a criminal defense attorney. I believe in the rights of the accused.

But I also believe that the innocent must be protected, and that the innocent have the right to protect themselves. When the girls in this case saw a man exposing himself to them, they rightly feared that he may take additional steps--he may become violent. And they rightly did what any normal person would do. They defended themselves.

If this man didn't want to be beaten, he probably should've chosen not to expose himself to a group of children.

But once he did, thank God they had the gumption to go after him. Thank God the neighbors came to the aid of the girls. And thank God the police saw fit to charge the man.

And thank God I wasn't there. Because had I been, I might well have killed the sonofabitch.

I have a fourteen month old daughter. And I pray that she's never exposed to this kind of monster. But if she is, I pray she'll fight back. Those girls deserve to be congratulated for their actions. And the asshole who assaulted them got what he deserved.

Thursday, October 30, 2003
Luskin v. Atrios

Kajillions of people have posted their thoughts about Donald Luskin's threatened lawsuit against Atrios, and I'm not going to break new ground with my own thoughts, but seriously, what the heck is Luskin thinking? Maybe he has a case against some of the people posting in Atrios' comments section, but even then, it's doubtful he has a case against Atrios himself.

My instant thought is that this is an attempt to "out" Atrios. Hey, he's become a powerful blogger, and it might help the righties if they could figure out who he was. But even so, pack a lunch, Luskin. Blogspot doesn't require anyone to give their actual name when setting up an account.

As for the very idea of the threat--actionable or not, Luskin is certainly proving to be no friend to free speech. If you write things for public consumption, you're going to occasionally get attacked for your writings. (I'm called a "moonbat" in comments on this very page--should I sue myself?) The best thing you can do is to shrug it off, and if you're suitably angered, respond. That's the beauty of free expression--you can express as much as the next guy.

Of course, Atrios probably mucked things up by publishing the letter from Luskin's attorney. Doubtless, the idea was probably to scare Atrios, not stir up massive bipartisan support for him.

At any rate, Neal Pollack (whose "Daily Show" appearance tonight was hilarious) has declared Tuesday Donald Luskin is a Stalker Day. I'll join in, and so should you.

Christ, didn't anybody pay attention to Fox News v. Franken?

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The Bush administration, not content at the level of destabilization that they've created in Iraq, may be contemplating a March withdrawl from Iraq.

I'm not thrilled with the way things have gone down, but nobody with two brain cells to rub together thinks we need to bring the troops home right now. (Many wish we could, but we can't.) Hell, this would put the Bush administration's Iraq policy to the left of Howard Dean.

I've been angered by our position in Iraq--one we could've avoided with better postwar planning and a greater willingness to listen to our friends abroad. But we're stuck now, and all we can do is stay and rebuild the country. If the Bush administration is this willing to abandon principle, there can be no debate: this administration is the worst of my lifetime. And I was born during the Nixon administration.

A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. --Asimov's First Law of Robotics

Glenn Reynolds can drive me insane when wearing his Insty hat, but every so often he brings up an interesting point about technology. His latest comes in his TechCentralStation column, where he muses on the potential rights of robots--or more precisely, artificial intelligence.

Unfortunately, having broached the topic, Glenn immediately retreats:

Human slavery is generally regarded as bad because it denies our common humanity. Robots, of course, don't possess "humanity" unless we choose to design it into them -- or, at least, leave it possible for them to develop it, a la Commander Data, on their own. Do we have an obligation to do so?

Well, no, when you put it that way. We don't have an obligation to do anything. But that's ducking the question, isn't it? I mean, if we never create sentient computers, this whole discussion is moot.

The question is not whether humans should or must create machine intelligence, but when we will. Because we will, inevitably. It may be three hundred years from now by complete accident, or it may be ten years from now by design, but artificial intelligence is coming.

The question, then, is what the hell humans do once it comes? Do we treat intelligent machines as servants? As slaves? Do we try to impose Asimov's Laws of Robotics on them? Is that even possible?

Consideration of artificial life always seem to take place in some dystopian future, be it the dystopia of Blade Runner or the apocalypse of the Terminator movies. Artificial intelligence is seen as an evil force, one bent on destroying humanity, or at the very least, causing us no shortage of problems. Much of this has to do with the golem legend--the fear of humanity that we will incur God's wrath by acting as He did to create life.

But this need not be the case, of course. Artificial intelligence will be an outgrowth of Human intelligence, including the same biases that we suffer from. An artificially intelligent machine created by Humans will be an outgrowth of humanity, even if its brain is made of silicon.

But whether machines mean us good or ill, there can be no question that if a machine passes the sentience test, it must be accorded the same rights as any other sentient creature. A thinking machine, capable of self-awareness and intelligence, must be granted the same rights to life, liberty, and property as a flesh-and-blood human.

It must be granted these rights because these rights are its inalienable gift, its natural rights. A scientist who creates a thinking machine has no more right to hold it in servitude than I have to hold my daughter in servitude.

Reynolds tries to make happy:

Not everyone agrees with this viewpoint, by any means, but are we obliged to create machines that are capable of suffering? Or to refrain from programming them in ways that make them happy slaves, unable to suffer no matter how much they are mistreated by humans? It's hard for me to see why that might be the case. A moral duty to allow suffering seems rather implausible.

But this again misses the point. You can pump me full of all sorts of drugs that will make me happy and keep me from feeling pain. It is not my emotional state that makes me human, but my ability to think and reason and know myself.

In Douglas Adams' sublime The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Arthur, Trillian, Zaphod, and Ford go to a restaurant and are introduced to an intelligent bovine. The creature tells the group that he has been bred to be eaten, and furthermore, that he has been bred to want to be eaten. Similarly, through indoctrination, we could breed humans to want to risk their lives in mines, to want to be slaves, to want to die in suicide attacks. This doesn't make it right.

Making robots that are happy to submit to slavery doesn't make forcing them into slavery right. If a creature is intelligent enough to think, to reason, and to dream, then we have no right to impede it in its progress. Interfering with the rights of a truly intelligent machine would damage humanity as much as slavery. And we must guard against that temptaion vigilantly.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Christ Almighty, What an Asshole

There are times for politeness, and times to be blunt, and now is a time to be blunt.

Our President is a cocksucking liar, who is willing to blame our own soldiers in order to make himself look better.

The latest example is detailed by Kos. It starts with a Press Conference:

Q Mr. President, if I may take you back to May 1st when you stood on the USS Lincoln under a huge banner that said, "Mission Accomplished." At that time you declared major combat operations were over, but since that time there have been over 1,000 wounded, many of them amputees who are recovering at Walter Reed, 217 killed in action since that date. Will you acknowledge now that you were premature in making those remarks?

THE PRESIDENT: Nora, I think you ought to look at my speech. I said, Iraq is a dangerous place and we've still got hard work to do, there's still more to be done. And we had just come off a very successful military operation. I was there to thank the troops.

The "Mission Accomplished" sign, of course, was put up by the members of the USS Abraham Lincoln, saying that their mission was accomplished. I know it was attributed some how to some ingenious advance man from my staff -- they weren't that ingenious, by the way.

Just one problem. As reported in the New York Times on May 15, it was well known that the Bush Administration did, in fact, put up the sign in question--not the sailors, as Bush claimed. And of course, during the speech, Bush said:

Our actions sent along a clear message that our nation is strong and our nation is compassionate. America sent you on a mission and that mission has been accomplished.

So will the President acknowledge that he was premature in delivering those remarks? Not bloody likely. Instead, he will either deny he ever made them or blame them on someone else, the modus operandi for this administration.

The one good thing in all of this, of course, is that the USS Lincoln appearance has come back to wound the President. The Bush administration spent millions and delayed the return of our sailors to try to make our President look like a tough guy. Instead, after hundreds dead and thousands wounded, the speech looks clueless and gutless. Republican pundits in May were atwitter at the prospect of using the Lincoln video during the 2004 election.

I'm betting it will be. But not by those who were planning on using it.

UPDATE: Clark is spot on:

Today, President Bush backtracked on his May 1 political photo op on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln by blaming the troops on the aircraft carrier for the declaration of 'mission accomplished' in Iraq. This is wrong, this is irresponsible and this is not leadership. Politicizing the mission of those troops in the first place was bad theater, and diminished the office of Commander in Chief -- but to now turn his comments on those very troops is outrageous. Instead of trying to blame the sailors and soldiers, the President owes our troops in harm's way and the American people a plan to bring peace to Iraq and stability to the region.

UPDATE II: So's Dean:

Yesterday, the President claimed that the wave of attacks that left dozens dead and scores injured proved that the US was winning the peace in Iraq. At this point, nothing he says really surprises me anymore.

Today, we heard him try to walk away from the USS Abraham "End of Major Combat Operations" announcement, absurdly claiming that the White House was not responsible for the "Mission Accomplished" banner that decorated the flight deck. He tried to argue that our actions are supported by the Iraqi people, when poll after poll suggests that more and more Iraqis are becoming fed up with the American occupation. And he was adamant that the US will remain in Iraq, but failed to offer any insight as to what he would do to address the increasingly dire situation.

This President appears to lack the leadership skills required to do what is necessary to successfully stabilize and reconstruct Iraq before the window of opportunity closes. Instead, President Bush seems content to pursue the current flawed plan, unwilling to do what is necessary to encourage our friends and allies to assist, incapable of taking the steps necessary to expedite the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis, and content to direct billions of dollars to special interests like Halliburton. And US troops and taxpayers are suffering as a result.

Indeed. Heh.

UPDATE III: The White House has conceded that the banner was theirs.

Of course, it's not like he lied about being the model for the lead character in Love Story when he was one of two models for the lead character in Love Story, but still....


Mad Mad Mad

Atrios is really annoyed with Gregg Easterbrook for writing this post, in which Easterbrook opines:

Other dimensions exist in science fiction, but do they in reality? Here's the technical scientific answer: No one has the foggiest notion. Cosmologists talk rather casually of alternate dimensions during the Big Bang or of the "many worlds" hypothesis in which there are billions of parallel universes, perhaps an infinite number, occupying an infinity of different dimensions.


Yet if at Yale, Princeton, Stanford, or top schools, you proposed that there exists just one unobservable dimension--the plane of the spirit--and that it is real despite our inability to sense it directly, you'd be laughed out of the room. Or conversation would grind to a halt to avoid offending your irrational religious superstitions.

Atrios fires back:

Can he really be this stupid? I don't know, maybe he can. I've known a lot of people like him - overly educated, overly enamored with their own thoughts, utterly unaware of their own banality.

For the record, many physicists are religious. Many physicists have expressed the notion that their work is literally a quest to find and understand God. But these physicists also understand that science, religion, and faith are not the same thing. "A spiritual plane" is a phrase which means something in Easterbrook's mind, but which is otherwise meaningless. Physicists understand, even if Easterbrook does not, what their posited extra dimensions mean.

Okay, fair enough, but missing Easterbrook's point. Easterbrook points out--rightly--that there is a tendency among some to show how science invalidates religious faith. As scientists are busy mulling over the many worlds theory, Easterbrook wonders how these theories--which have a high degree of faith associated with them--can be considered soundly scientific, while a belief in a literal God and a literal Heaven is viewed as quaint, and a little bit misguided.

I'm hardly a conservative Chrisitian, and I've stated before that I find the evidence in favor of the many worlds theory to be compelling, at least. But to criticize Easterbrook for pointing out that there is at the very least no evidence disproving anything of the literal afterlife is ridiculous, because he's right.

Perhaps it's my own version of a "late night (stoned) dorm conversation" (although isn't that what the blogosphere is all about?), but I am unwilling, as Atrios does, to lambast Easterbrook for what Atrios calls his ridiculous attempts to link science and religion. Instead, my Unitarian instincts lead me to listen politely to what Easterbrook has to say, to consider it fully, and then decide to accept or reject it.

As with Atrios, I am a non-Christian, but I don't expect Christians to stop seeking out proof that what they believe in is real. Easterbrook is hardly perfect--he appears to be an intelligent design fan--but this is not an article that warrants attack.

She ran calling "Wildfire...."

So, is incoming Gov. Schwarzenegger going to use his time machine to go back and prevent the worst wildfires in state history? At least they can't blame this one on outgoing Gov. Davis.

Monday, October 27, 2003
Bring 'Em On

So Paul Wolfowitz is in a hotel in Baghdad, and that hotel just happens to be attacked while he's in it. The attack kills a U.S. Army Colonel. But of course, they're not connected, nosiree.

Then, forty Iraqis (and a US soldier) are killed in a series of car bombings, including an ambulance bomb at the headquarters of the Red Cross.

Hooray! This proves the enemy is desperate, says Dear Leader:

Bush added, acknowledging that he has delivered the same message frequently: "I will repeat myself, that the more progress we make on the ground, the more free the Iraqis become, the more electricity is available, the more jobs are available, the more kids that are going to school, the more desperate these killers become, because they can't stand the thought of a free society. They hate freedom. They love terror. They love to try to create fear and chaos."

Yeah, I know that when I see an opposition force striking repeatedly against significant targets with some degree of success, I think "desperate," especially when those attacks are increasing in frequency.

Probably the most on-point thoughts come from Kos:

Right -- the resistance is angry that kids are going to school...

Funny, I remember the same kind of b.s. when I was growing up in El Salvador, with the nation descending into chaos as the government insisted that wave after wave of attacks simply proved the enemy's "desperation".

Fact is, this new wave of violence has demonstrated the Iraq resistance can attack at will, wherever and whenever it wants. It demonstrates it has good intelligence on the ground (if suffering from a bit of a time lag), able to target top US leaders wherever they may be.

It demonstrates that the resistance has some measure of popular support, as it stages spectacular attacks with near impunity. And it demonstrates that the US is nowhere near establishing security in the nation, and that in fact things are spiraling out of control.

Of course, this was always the danger. This was why many of us thought that if war had to happen, we were best served by waiting until we had a good, solid plan in place to deal with the aftermath of war. Of course, we couldn't wait--Saddam had missiles that could deliver his nuclear bombs within 15 minutes! Or, as it turns out, not.

Saturday, October 25, 2003
Requiescat in Pace

One year ago today, I was sitting at my desk at a large telecommunications company (hint: rhymes with "Kwest") selling various telephony products to consumers, when my cell phone buzzed.

Things were busy, so I couldn't answer it, but reflexively, I checked the caller ID. It was my friend Andy calling from Boston. Odd, I thought. I wondered what he wanted. Oh well, break was in an hour, I'd call him then.

The phones stayed busy right up until my lunch break, and as I logged off I checked Google News to see if anything was up in the elections. Things were coming down to the wire, and (obviously) I was a big enough political junkie to want to see what was up.

I scrolled through the page, checking the news of the day, when a blurb on the left hand side of the page caught my eye.

"Senator's Plane Crashes in Minnesota."

What? Well, it must be minor. It couldn't be Wellstone. If he'd been killed, it would say. It would be the top story.

I clicked through, and the first paragraph from the developing story left no doubt: Paul Wellstone, his wife and daughter, three campaign workers and two pilots had died flying to a funeral in Eveleth.

I knew immediately why my friend Andy had been calling; he had worked for Wellstone the summer after his sophomore year, and he loved the Senator. He had called me immediately to see what I'd heard.

I left my desk feeling numb, and walked out into the cool grey Minnesota morning, listening to MPR on my headphones, trying to gather what had happened. It couldn't be. Not Paul.

* * *

At the time of his death, Paul Wellstone and I were at opposite ends of our party. Wellstone represented the fringe left, I the fringe center. (Of course, the late Senator was slightly more influential than I, but our positions were clear to anyone who cared). One of the final entries at FeckBlog, the precursor to this site, was a post about how Wellstone's victory had damaged the DFL by giving the left false hope. Certainly, I wasn't on the same plane as Paul Wellstone.

But in 1990, when he first won in dramatic fashion over former Sen. Rudy Boschwitz (R-MN), I was a far more liberal me. And Paul Wellstone was the first politician that made me believe.

Wellstone was everything we claim to want in a politician. He was honest, he was blunt; he wore his heart on his sleeve, and didn't pretend to be a centrist to win swing voters. His ad campaign, which highlighted the cash-poor status of his campaign relative to his rival, was hilarious and memorable. The green bus was charming. The upset victory of Wellstone--aided and abetted by one of the dumbest political blunders ever--gave hope to everyone who ever dreamed that the little guy could win.

But none of that would've mattered if not for Paul. He was the kind of man who truly believed what he believed. He was rough around the edges--his comments on then-Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) were more appropriate for a blogger than a senator--but he quickly learned to play the game. His first major vote was against the first Gulf War, but he quickly went to work to support the troops once the war started. (His last major vote was against the second Gulf War.) He learned to fight his opponents without hating them. Near the end of his second term he lauded Sen. Helms on his retirement. He had learned that just because someone disagrees with you doesn't mean you must hate them; he never stopped fighting for what he believed.

The election of 2002 was bitter and nasty and disgusting. Norm Coleman ran an ad campaign that tried to paint Wellstone a liar and a waffler. The campaign was bitter, but it was backfiring. Had Coleman focused on policy, he may have led--Coleman was closer to the average Minnesotan's views than Wellstone--but Minnesotans had learned they could trust Paul, something they had not, and have not, learned about Norm.

Polls taken before Wellstone's death showed him with a clear, if not safe, lead. Had he lived, he likely would've won.

Of course, he did not live.

* * *

As I wandered aimlessly through the streets of Saint Paul, MPR turned to Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-MN). Ramstad is a moderate Republican whom I've voted for--twice. He's a decent man, even if I don't agree with him on everything. Ramstad told a story that stuck with me.

A few days before the senate vote to authorize war in Iraq, Wellstone called up Ramstad. Ramstad had supported the war, but he was unsurprised to learn that Wellstone opposed it.

This probably is going to cost me the election, said Wellstone to a sitting Republican congressman, knowing full well this could get back to the Coleman campaign, but I can't vote any other way.

Wellstone told Ramstad he was going to vote no, and then go back and explain his vote to his constituents. And he'd accept their judgement. But he said he hadn't been elected to vote the safe way.

Minnesotans never got their chance, but I rather suspect that many--even those who supported the war--saw in Wellstone's vote a validation of our support of him. Paul Wellstone voted against the war because he was Paul Wellstone, and he could do nothing else.

In 1996, he was the only senator up for re-election to vote against welfare reform.

He won.

In 2002, he was the only senator up for re-election to vote against the Gulf War.

He would've won.

Paul Wellstone believed in his principles, believed in them even if it meant sacrificing his position. In an era when so much of politics is poll-tested and focus-grouped, Wellstone was a throwback. And we loved him for it.

* * *

The rest, of course, is well-documented. The Democrats managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with the ill-conceived Rallemorial. Norm Coleman is our senator. Tim Pawlenty is our governor. And many might say that the legacy of Paul Wellstone has died.

I don't think so.

Paul Wellstone lives in every activist on either side of the aisle that fights for what they believe in. He lives in every senator and representative who votes their conscience, rather than their job. He lives in everyone who believes, truly believes, in America.

Paul Wellstone's spirit lives on. We won't forget, Senator. Thank you.

Thursday, October 23, 2003
Ann Coulter Has an Adam's Apple, and She's Also Dangerously Unstable

Jesse already took Ann to task for her *ahem* "thoughts" about Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin. You all know Boykin--the General and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence who apparently has read too many Tim LaHaye books, who believes that Satan is behind terrorism instead of some very sick humans.

Coulter brilliantly lays out the charges:

In an emerging scandal, NBC News has produced tapes proving beyond deniability that the new deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence is ... a Christian. Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin has been captured on a series of grainy tapes, attesting to his faith at churches and prayer breakfasts. Having driven the Judeo-Christian value system out of the public square, the classrooms and the Alabama Supreme Court, liberals now want to drive it out of church.

Of course not. Boykin is allowed any cockeyed religion he wants. But if his religious views make it difficult for him to conduct his job effectively, that becomes a problem. Certainly, I doubt Ms. Coulter would be supportive of a Muslim General who said that in his view, Christians were Satan.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

In one "inflammatory" remark, Boykin said that the enemy was not Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, but "is a spiritual enemy. He's called the principality of darkness. The enemy is a guy called Satan."

Islamic leaders in the United States instantly denounced Boykin's unflattering characterization of bin Laden and Hussein as an attack on Islam. They haven't been this huffy since describing bin Laden as "not a true Muslim" and Hussein as a "secularist." If our enemies aren't "true Muslims," why are the "true Muslims" always so offended on their behalf?

Hmm...maybe because Boykin was not referring to radical Muslims, but all Muslims when he said "I knew my God [Jesus] was bigger than his God [Allah]." (Of course, since anyone who's studied religion for more than two seconds knows that Allah, Yahweh, and the Trinity are all names for the same God, one might think it strange that God could be bigger than himself. But in Him, all things are possible.) Needless to say, if a Unitarian like me accused all Christians of being evil based on the actions of Erich Rudolph, Coulter would be angered.

James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute, has called for Boykin to be fired. After the 9-11 attacks, Zogby said: "Regardless of who is ultimately found to be responsible for these terrorist murders, no ethnic or religious community should be treated as suspect and collectively blamed." But apparently they are collectively offended. They might want to think through the implications of that. If we have to apologize for the general, then maybe they should apologize for 9-11.

Christ almighty, just when I thought Ann couldn't get any dumber.

You see, Ann, Gen. Boykin is a representative of the United States Government, acting under the authority of the Department of Defense. Osama bin Laden, meanwhile, is an evil man who happens to be Muslim, operating under the authority of no government, especially not James Zogby's government, which last I checked was the government of the United States of America.

Unless Ann is suggesting that because some Muslims are evil, all Muslims are evil, and because some Muslims carried out attacks on 9/11, all Muslims bear guilt for the attacks. No, surely not.

Zogby made the curious argument that Boykin is "unfit for the position" because he has "become a weapon our enemies will use against us." On Fox News' "Hannity and Colmes," a Clinton administration official made the same inane point, saying Boykin's remarks "could be used as a recruitment video for Osama bin Laden." I love the idea of moderate Arabs carefully poring over American newspapers before deciding whether or not to join al-Qaida.

Yeah, 'cause I'm sure al-Arabiyah would never pick up a story like this. I'm sure this would never be talked about outside of the U.S.

In fact, an Arab-American was quoted in the Boston Globe saying Boykin's remarks "made most people in our community think the Bush administration is racist." That's interesting. The deputy undersecretary of defense calls Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein evil – and all those patriotic Arabs we keep hearing about are lost to Bush forever! Osama supporters are now moving decisively to the Dean camp.

Well, the fact that he called Muslims "idolaters" (strange, as Islam forbids graven images of Allah and Mohammed), that he accused them of having a smaller God than the Christians, and suggested that Satan was at work in their countries could be construed by some as being racist. But hey, only those sensitive, liberal PC Muslims. Right?

Oh, and nice swipe at the Dems, Ann. Good to see you've still got it.

In another talk, Gen. Boykin recalled seeing a Somalian warlord on television laughing at Americans and saying they would never capture him because his God, Allah, would protect him. Boykin said: "Well, you know what? I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol."

A reporter for the Los Angeles Times claimed that Boykin referred to the God of Islam as "an idol." The reporter, of course, was committing a hate crime by assuming that fascist warlords trying to kill Americans are practicing "true Islam." As we have repeatedly been assured, they are not. Apparently, what Boykin should have said is: "Well, you know what? I knew that his remark was a violation of separation of church and state!"

Boykin should've recognized that as a man tasked with overseeing intelligence, as a man tasked to work with foreign--and in some cases, Muslim--government, he should probably keep his yap shut.

As for the warlord, he was an idiot for believing God would protect him. God is rarely on the side of the evil, no matter what they call him.

In any event, I guess we've come a long way from calling our enemies "nips" and "krauts." Now we can't even say they're idolaters. When referring to people trying to kill Americans, how about we pull only from the list of names liberals use every day of the week for George Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and Gen. Boykin?

How about we just call them "the enemy?" Do we really need to slur our enemies to prove we dislike them? If I was in a room with Osama bin Laden I'd gouge his freaking eyes out. I don't need to call him an idolater to identify that he and his ilk are evil.

Boykin also said the terrorists are "after us because we're a Christian nation." This is just silly. As Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad recently indicated in his speech before the Islamic Summit Conference, they are after us because we are a Jewish nation.

Ha, ha! Oh wait, that's not funny.

Last week Democratic presidential candidates speaking to an Arab-American conference were tripping over one another for the Osama-is-not-Satan vote by demanding Boykin's resignation. These characters are terrific at figuring how to fire anyone in the Bush administration except Norman Mineta. How about we trade in Mineta for the 20-year-old kid who managed to place boxcutters, bleach and molding clay on four airplanes? If only he had put them in his shoes! Then Norman Mineta would have caught him.

Actually, I'm quite fine with firing Norman Mineta. I just think maybe there are even bigger fish to fry.

Sen. Kerry said Boykin's remarks were "un-American." The only people you can't call un-American are the ones burning the American flag or demanding an apology from a man who called Osama bin Laden satanic.

Man burning flag: un-American.

Man accusing all non-Christians of worshipping small Gods: un-American.

People asking Boykin to apologize for offending Muslims: American.

Howard Dean said the American flag "does not belong to Gen. Boykin," it belongs to all Americans. Could someone rustle up a liberal who actually owns a flag?

Me. I own one. It's not flying on my house right now--I took it down to put up a nice Halloween flag. But it flew all of September, and Flag Day, and Independence Day, and Memorial Day, and it'll be up again on Election Day. I know, shocking that a *gasp* liberal could love his country, but I do, Ann.

In the most pathetic case of pandering in recorded history, Sen. Joe Lieberman called for Boykin's resignation before the group, but still got booed. Lieberman said "the war on terror is a war on terrorists, not religion." Who is Lieberman standing up for here? Is he upset because Boykin compared the terrorists to Satan or Satan to the terrorists?

Boykin is a highly decorated officer who has participated in nearly every major military operation for the past 25 years – from Jimmy Carter's failed attempt to rescue hostages in Iran, to Reagan's successful invasion of Grenada, to Clinton's disastrous "Black Hawk Down" episode in Somalia. (Say, anyone notice a pattern?) No one has questioned the general's job qualifications. Liberals want him fired because he spoke in a church. If Gen. Boykin had been caught giving talks to NAMBLA instead of church groups, Democrats would be hailing him as a patriot for exercising his First Amendment rights.

Actually, had he spoken to NAMBLA, I imagine he'd be fired for violating "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." As for his job qualifications, they're nice. But he obviously doesn't understand his job if he feels it's okay to go telling church groups that all Muslims are evil. Boykin's job is to build bridges with moderate Muslims, not torch them.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., demanded that Boykin be reprimanded or reassigned, saying his views were "extreme," "closed-minded" and "zealous." We should be more open-minded toward people trying to kill us.

Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of the Interfaith Alliance, said Boykin's remarks "fly in the face of the pleas of the president and violate the basic principles of tolerance and inclusion that are implicit in the culture of this nation." Uh-oh. If liberals don't like what Boykin said about the terrorists, wait until they find out about the MOAB bombs the U.S. military has been dropping on them.

We haven't dropped any MOABs in combat. Not even in Iraq. And certainly not on terrorists.

Of course, liberals are quite fine with dropping MOABs on terrorists. We want the terrorists destroyed. That's why Boykin has to go.

By speaking out as he did, Boykin was committing no crime. He deserves no jail time. He deserves no criminal or civil punishment of any kind. Indeed, I don't even believe Boykin should be stripped of his commission.

He simply needs to lose his current job.

Boykin has created a situation where it will be nearly impossible for him to work with moderate Muslims to combat terror. Furthermore, he has given credence to the widespread belief that the Bush administration, and America generally, believes that the war on terror is necessarily a Christian/Muslim war. As this is explicitly not the policy of the Bush administration or America in general, Boykin has damaged our ability to communicate this to the Muslim world, and damaged our ability to fight the real war: liberal, secular Western democracy against theocratic, illiberal hardline Muslim terror. Because of this, Boykin should be reassigned to a position in the Pentagon where his views will not hinder him--or us.

Of course, these points are too subtle for Ann. For her, anything more complex than "GOP Good, Democrats Bad" is lost. But anyone concerned with our nation's security knows it is dangerous for a zealot like Boykin to be in charge of intelligence. Even if a Republican appointed him.

Yeah, Hang '

InstaPundit sez:

The Rumsfeld memo shouldn't have leaked....As with the Plame affair, the reporter should be subpoenaed, and the leaker should be canned, or jailed. This sort of thing shouldn't be leaking.

Fine and dandy. I totally agree. Especially since Rummy leaked it:

I'm scanning everything that's being written about this "leak," and I'm still not seeing evidence that it was "leaked." (That evidence may be out there and I'm just missing it.) But what I see in the USA Today story is this: "Three members of Congress who met with Rumsfeld Wednesday morning said the defense secretary gave them copies of the memo and discussed it with them." This is not how you handle a confidential internal memorandum, is it, if you don't want it to see the light of day.

And when the Pentagon spokesman's reaction isn't outrage, but praise for his boss, you have to wonder. (I'm referring to this from USA Today: "Pentagon spokesman Lawrence DiRita declined to comment specifically on the memo, but he said Rumsfeld's style is to "ask penetrating questions" to provoke candid discussion. 'He's trying to keep a sense of urgency alive.'")

So by all means, I join with Glenn Reynolds in calling for the removal of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Indeed, I support his jailing on charges of treason. That's a courageous stand for Insty to take, and I back him all the way.

(Of course Reynolds now says "I rather doubt that Rumsfeld wanted this publicized." Yeah, I know when I don't want something publicized, I call up some Congressmen and give them memos and tell them all about my thoughts on the subject.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2003
Get Well

Shout out to my homeboy Chris, who's in the hospital right now suffering with a bout of ulcerative colitis. Get well soon.

SFW, Reality Bites, and What to Expect When You're Expecting: an Epistemological Look at Gen-X Parenting

Now that's a title. If I ever go to grad school in pursuit of some sort of degree in sociology, I'm making that my thesis.

Why, pray tell, am I talking about Gen-X parenting? Because Katie Allison Granju is. In her new article in Salon (annoying ad viewing required), Granju studies the way Generation X is raising our children. As full-fledged members of Gen-X (my wife was born in '71, I in '74) and parents (our daughter was born in '02, which makes her...what? Generation Z?), this article obviously caught my eye.

There are, naturally, some interesting points:

"As a generation, I think we want to hear that becoming a mother is not all soft-focus pink-and-blue scenes," explains Ingrid Emerick, a 33-year-old mother of two and associate publisher of Seattle's Seal Press, an imprint of Avalon Publishing Group known for its growing list of Gen X parenting memoirs. "Within the last four to five years we have seen the publication of a number of these momoirs, all looking in a fresh and honest way at the experience of motherhood. The standard belief in the publishing world is that how-to still dominates the market, but this new crop of books is finding its place and, I think, ultimately changing the tenor of the dialogue about motherhood. These real-life accounts reflect the fact that feelings about motherhood are complex and ambiguous and worthy of much discussion."

True enough. Anyone who has been a parent knows that raising a child is six parts bliss, two parts drudgery, one part Hell, and one part sheer terror: I know down deep I'm going to screw this up, and unlike my first year of college, this really matters.

Granju continues:

According to Andrea Buchanan, a 32-year-old mother of two from Philadelphia, editor of, and author of "Mother Shock: Loving Every (Other) Minute of It," these books are so popular with Gen X parents because -- unlike our own Baby Boomer mothers and fathers, and their parents -- our demographic simply doesn't have much interest in being instructed by experts in the "right" way to raise our children. Instead, notes Buchanan, we want to read about the myriad ways in which our peers are doing it and then choose from those approaches, buffet-style.


"Forty years ago, they couldn't show Lucille Ball in bed with her real-life husband. Ten years ago, Murphy Brown caught hell for depicting unwed motherhood in a positive light. Today, Rachel on 'Friends' has a baby and no husband and nobody bats an eye," notes Jennifer Weiner, a 33-year-old Philadelphia mother, author of the bestselling chick-lit novel "Good in Bed," and formerly the Gen X beat columnist for the Knight-Ridder news service. "I know Gen X women who have babies without husbands, or gay couples who have donor-sperm babies, and none of that seems very controversial anymore -- on television or in real life."

True enough. But it's this paragraph that caught my eye:

"Flexibility is the most important thing for employees today," noted Carol Evans, president of Working Mother Media in a May 2003 USA Today article titled "Generation X Moms Have It Their Way." "Generation X moms may want to work only one day a week, but they still think of themselves as career women. They do not think of such arrangements as 'a privilege.' They just expect it. And companies need to deal with that."

This hits home for me, as both my wife and I have flexed our schedules to infinity to accomodate our daughter. I passed up a more lucrative opportunity to stay at my present job, that lets me change my schedule from week to week. My wife works every Saturday and Sunday and one night a week, one of the world's few part-time Attorneys.

Members of Generation X care less about getting "ahead" at the cost of knowing our families. We want our children to know their parents. We want to avoid shipping our children off to day care. (Yes, some people have no choice but to do just that; but few people want their kids in a day care five days a week, and more and more, people are looking for friends and family to care for their children).

Of course, I have objections to some of Ganju's article. Well, one thing, primarily. Though she gives some lip service to stay-at-home dads, the article is still very mommy-centric. My wife spends somewhat more time with my daughter than I do--we decided on that path because my wife's job is more flexible, and she is better able to clean. (I still can't get the hang of cleaning. I'd like to be able to. I just can't do it.) But that hardly means I'm a second-class parent. Aside from taking care of my daughter alone when my wife is at work, we both take care of her when we're both home. And we're both equally important.

That said, the article is an interesting look at how we of Generation X are approaching parenting. Like any article on millions of people, it goes into a bit of stereotyping and goes awry now and then; but there's a kernel of truth in it, one worth noting.

I'm Baaaack

Had a bit of a hiatus due to time off taken around my second anniversary. But I'm back now, and will resume writing. You can all breathe easier.

Thursday, October 16, 2003
We'll Get 'Em Next Year

What, you expect me to be weeping? Crying? Gnashing my teeth and rending my garments?

I'm a Cubs fan. We've had worse.

I hoped for something different--we always do. I hoped that '03 would be different than '84.

It wasn't.

But the years will go on and the memories of the Cubs failure to clinch a World Series berth will fade, and I'll remember 2003 like I do 1984, like more veteran Cubs fans remember 1969--as the years we almost pulled it off.

Someday, someday we'll win it all. Maybe next year. We've got Prior, Wood, Zambrano and Clement back with postseason experience. And Corey Patterson will be healthy. Maybe Hee Seop Choi will finally live up to his potential, and they say the Tribune corporation is willing to spend a bit more in the offseason. Yes, I think 2004 will be the year we finally win it all.

You have to believe.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Cubs Lose. But They Win Tonight.

Ah, 1984. I was ten when I saw Leon "Bull" Durham, a classic bat of steel, glove of stone first basemen for the Cubs, let a weak ground ball dribble through his legs, allowing the San Diego Padres to go to the World Series. The Cubs had led the best of five series 2-0, but dropped three straight in failing to get to their first World Series in thirty-nine years.

It's now been fifty-eight years since the Cubs were in a World Series--and nineteen years since Bull Durham's error. And any Cubs fan over the age of twenty-five would be lying if they said 1984 wasn't on their mind today.

Five outs away. We were five outs away.

But that was then. And it's time to move on.

Did a fan interfere with Moises Alou's chance to grab a foul pop? Sure. Could the Cubs still have gotten the out? Yep. Should Alex Gonzalez--a bat of steel, glove of stone shortstop--have made the play on a routine grounder? Yep. Should the Cubs have wone game 6? Probably.

But they didn't. Get over it.

Tonight, Kerry Wood takes the mound. The Cubs have yet to lose in the postseason with Wood on the mound. Yes, they came close to losing Game 3. They still won it.

The Cubs win tonight. They win big. And they go to the Series.

And if they don't?

Well, I talked to my dad last night. It's his fault I'm a Cubs fan, but he reminded me of a simple fact: for Cubs fans, this is all gravy. The Cubs don't make the postseason. They certainly don't win postseason series. They did. They have. If they win tonight, they go to the World Series, and who knows? And if they lose, then Cubs fans will do what we always have done. We'll shake off the disappointment, we'll drink our sorrows away, and tomorrow, we'll say collectively: wait 'til next year.

But tonight, we win. Tonight, we go to the Series. I'm a Cubs fan. I believe.

It's what we do.

China Joins Spacefaring Nations

Chinese Taikonaut Yang Liwei joined Astronaut Alan Shepard and Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin as a pioneer, becoming the first of his countrymen to journey to space.

The flight is expected to last twenty-one hours, with Yang completing fourteen orbits of Earth.

Yang is pioting a Shenzhou 5 space capsule, which is based on the Russian Soyuz design.

China's foray into space is welcome, as it may spur America back into developing new technologies with regard to space exploration. China has expressed interest in building a Mir-style space station within a decade, and with that kind of learning curve, the sky is the limit for China.

Sunday, October 12, 2003
One Game Away!

The Cubs are one game away from their first World Series since 1945, after beating Florida 8-3 on the strength of two homers and six RBI from third baseman Aramis Ramirez.

Of course, we were one game away in 1984 too.

Clinching today would be huge, as it would give the Cubs the opportunity to open the World Series with Prior and Wood. But I'll take it any way I can get it.

Thursday, October 09, 2003
What Schwarzenegger's Victory Doesn't Mean, Redux

Gregg Easterbrook goes further in explaining why Ahnuld's victory doesn't mean very much:

Now that Arnold Schwarzenegger will be governor of California, there will be vast, sweeping, stunning changes in the American political landscape, right? Uh, no. Political commentators have predicted vast, sweeping, stunning changes in the American political landscape at almost every election of the past generation--political commentators have a self-interest in saying this, because it makes political commentary more important.

Eisenhower's presidency was supposed to herald a stunning change away from a Democratic electorate; a Democrat promptly replaced him. LBJ's presidency was supposed to signal a sweeping return to traditional liberalism; the country promptly moved right by electing Richard Nixon. His presidency was supposed to represent a vast electoral shift to a permanent Republican majority; Democrat Jimmy Carter was promptly elected. The Reagan presidency supposedly transformed the entire American political landscape into populist conservatism; a silver-spoon establishment moderate, George H. W. Bush, was promptly elected. Bill Clinton's ascension supposedly signaled that third-way neoliberalism would vastly, sweepingly take over politics; voters promptly tossed out third-way neoliberalism for traditional conservatism.


In most of what political commentators pronounce as earth-shaking astonishing mega-enormous transformations, the marginal difference between candidates is a few percentage points. Schwarzenegger won with 54 percent (on the recall, the essence of the vote), meaning less than a five percent shift in sentiment among those who voted--about 335,000 people changing their minds, in a state with 15.3 million registered voters--would have caused the recall to be seen as a huge, vast, sweeping reaffirmation of the Democratic Party.

And most "sweeping" votes are much closer than the California recall. A shift of about one-tenth of one percent of total votes in the 2002 elections would have put the Senate firmly in Democratic hands; instead, commentators decreed that voters had presented George W. Bush with a vast, sweeping endorsement. A shift of one-ten-thousandth of one percent in Florida in 2000 would have transformed a vast, sweeping shift back to conservatism into a vast, sweeping mandate for more neoliberalism.

As Glenn would say: indeed.

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

Yeah, I guess I was right about viewing the glass half-full. The Cubs whipped the Marlins 12-3 to square the series at one game apiece going back to Florida. Friday's matchup features flamethrower Kerry Wood versus former Twin Mark Redman.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Ahnuld an The Body: What Schwarzenegger's Victory Doesn't Mean

The political establishment was roiling. The major candidates were partisan hacks. The public was sick of politics as usual. And into the breach strode a popular celebrity, preaching a simple gospel of less government everywhere--less government spending and lower taxes, but also freedom for gays and freedom of choice. The political establishment reacted with shock as the upstart won. "This changes everything," the talking heads murmured.

The candidate was Jesse Ventura. The year was 1998.

The similarities between Ventura's third-party win in 1998 and Schwarzenegger's win as a republican this time around can certainly be overblown; the economy was good in '98, and Ventura was able to wrangle the issue of tax rebates to his advantage, instead of the issue of fiscal disaster.

But Ahnuld and Jesse share more than billing in The Running Man. They also share an ideology, a raison d'etre, and, seemingly, a personality.

Republicans can point all they want to the fact that McClintock and Schwarzenegger together topped 60%. Schwarzenegger wasn't a Republican. He was an independent in Republican clothing--a pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-environment Republican who stood as much chance of getting his party's endorsement as I did. But thanks to the bizarre free-for-all that is the California recall system, Schwarzenegger was able to get on the ballot on his own, bypassing the system.

Ventura, like Schwarzenegger, bypassed the two-party system in '98. He chose the Reform party--only technically a major party--as his jumping off point. Given a choice between nominating Dean Barkley or Jesse Ventura, the Reformists jumped at the chance to nominate someone who could secure 5% in the polls.

Both Jesse and Arnold obeyed Fecke's First Law of Campaigning: say it simple, say it true, don't spin. When Jesse Ventura said he supported legalizing prostitution and marijuana, it garnered him support. When Schwarzenegger met allegations of sexual impropriety head-on, it garnered him support. Both Jesse and Arnold gained by facing career politicians who spin as a matter of course--Attorney General Skip Humprey (D-MN) and future Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) faced Jesse; the wildly unpopular Gov. Gray Davis (D-CA) and the rabidly conservitive state Sen. Tom McClintock (R-CA) were Arnold's foes. All these careerists gave Jesse and Arnold people to look good next to, people to point at and say, "They just don't get us regular folk." More to the point, both Jesse and Arnold had opponents on the left and the right, allowing them to mine the fertile middle, and appeal to both Democrats and Republicans as a "safe" centrist.

Jesse Ventura was a mediocre Governor--not a disaster by any stretch, but certainly not the kind of governor he could have been. From the beginning, he butted heads with a legislature he believed was beneath him. He refused to work with people, which led to the unholy DFL-Republican alliance to Get Jesse that passed a wildly irresponsible budget in 2002.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, too, has shown signs of imperiousness. Whether he is able to subvert those impulses that scuttled Ventura's administration will be seen.

In the end, Schwarzenegger won, not because he was a Republican, but because he was seen as an independent. Democrats felt free to support a pro-choice, anti-gun fiscal conservative because, hell, Gray Davis was a train wreck of a Governor, and something had to be done. Republicans felt free to support a pro-gay, pro environment fiscal conservative because, Hell, he was their best shot, and besides, the Democrats still controlled the legislature, meaning the social issues were pretty much a non-starter anyhow.

Schwarzenegger may have an (R-CA) after his name, but he gained few votes because of it. Instead, he won because of the (Not A Career Politician) tag, which seemed glorious after years of the Davis disaster.

So Ahnuld is going to be governor of California. Does this mean Bush can win there? That California is poised to lead a new Republicanism across America? Please. California has now shown a willingness to embrace what Mitch Berg has called a RINO--an independent in Republican clothing. Doubtless, should a moderate, pro-choice Republican gain his party's endorsement for President--or conversely, a pro-life, moderate Democrat--then they would be able to capture the country by winning the middle.

But I haven't seen any flying pigs in these parts--not yet, anyhow.

Cubs Lose

Glass Half Empty: Cubs had a 4-0 lead after one, scored eight runs. Should've won.

Glass Half Full: Cubs have Prior tonight, Wood on Friday.

I'll go with the glass half full.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

It's temporary, but I've gotta show some love for the Cubbies. We'll go back to the old school design after they win the series.

NLCS Begins Tonight

My friend Andy is happy--his Red Sox upended the A's to clinch a berth in the ALCS against the New York Yankees. Meanwhile, my Cubbies square off against the Marlins in game one of the NLCS tonight at Wrigley Field.

I was 50% in my predicitons before the divisional series; the Cubs and Sox won, the Twins and Giants lost. Can I do better this time? We'll see. Without further ado, the game reset--Jeff's guide to the LCS:

National League Championship Series

Florida Marlins vs. Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs
National League Central Division Champions, 88-74
Defeated NL East Champion Atlanta 3 games to 2

Why You Should Root For the Cubs

Because Mark Prior and Kerry Wood are incredible. Because Cubs fans have earned this with 95 years of patient support. Because it's time.

Why You Should Root Against the Cubs

Because you're a fan of the Chicago White Sox or Florida Marlins.

Florida Marlins
Wild Card Team, 91-71
Defeated NL West Champion San Francisco 3-1

Why You Should Root For Florida

Because you're from South Florida. Because you're married to Pudge Rodriguez. Because you live on the South Side.

Why You Should Root Against Florida

One of these teams is not like the others. One of these teams is not the same. One of these teams is not like the others, tell me can you play my game?

The LCS features three of baseball's most storied franchises--and the Marlins. New York-Cubs? Boston-Cubs? Those are matchups for the ages. New York-Florida? Feh.

My Prediction: Florida has won every postseason series in franchise history--until now. Cubs go to their first world series since 1945, winning the series in five games.

American League Championship Series

Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees

New York Yankees
American League East Champions, 101-61
Defeated AL Central Champion Minnesota 3-1

Why You Should Root For the Yankees

You shouldn't.

I don't care if you grew up in the Bronx, I don't care if you're sleeping with Derek Jeter, I don't care if you're George Steinbrenner. The Yankees have won 26 World Championships. It's time to let Boston have this one, damn it.

Why You Should Root Against the Yankees

Because 26 World Championships is enough for one town. Because the Yankees have a $180 million payroll. Because George Steinbrenner is a jackass. Because it's your patriotic duty as an American.

Boston Red Sox
Wild Card Team, 95-67
Defeated AL West Champion Oakland 3-2

Why You Should Root For Boston

Because they battle, and they battle, and they battle. Because Red Sox fans have earned this. Because the Sox never beat the Yankees, and it's about time they did. Because Fenway is an awesome stadium. Because a Sox-Cubs World Series would be too cool to even contemplate.

Why You Should Root Against Boston

Um...give me a minute and I'll think of a reason.

My Prediction: My head says Yankees. But my heart tells me that this is the year the Baseball Gods are squaring all debts. This is the year Boston finally beats New York. Red Sox win in seven, shutting up the crowd in Yankee Stadium for good.

So what do I see happening in the World Series? I already told you:

And in the World Series, a giant meteor smashes into Earth, because neither the Cubs nor the BoSox can be allowed to win. No, seriously, I see the Cubbies beating the Red Sox in seven, with Sammy hitting a monster shot over the Green Monster in the top of the eleventh to win it. At least, that's what I want to see. What will actually be is another question altogether.

Let's get some runs!

Roy "Fighting For His Life"

From CNN:

Roy Horn of the Las Vegas duo Siegfried and Roy, who was mauled by a white tiger last week during his act, "is totally aware that he is fighting for his life," show manager Bernie Yuman said Tuesday.

Horn, 59, remains in critical but stable condition at University Medical Center.

Dr. Derek Duke, a neurosurgeon treating Horn, said it was "miraculous" that he was alive. "Mr. Horn's injury was extremely severe," the doctor told reporters outside the hospital.

Horn suffered massive blood loss in the incident, officials have said, and also suffered a stroke after the mauling.

That doesn't sound good. Hopefully, he will recover. Only time will tell.

Monday, October 06, 2003
Jesse Layeth the Smack Down

Jennifer Graham has one of the most patronizing columns I have ever read over at NRO:

A couple of years ago, the husband and I were eating out — something you don't do often with four kids under 10 — when he lowered his voice and gestured for me to look at the next table.

I did so, expecting to find something peculiar, such as Karl Rove conspiring with Elvis.

What I saw: A young family of five — father, mother, three young children, well-dressed, well-behaved, enjoying their night out, too. Except for the well-behaved children — mythical creatures with which we have no personal experience with — the family was unremarkable.

But they were black. And my husband whispered that in a nation where 70 percent of black children are born into homes without fathers, it was great to see a picture-perfect black family dining together. "I almost want to go give the guy a high five," he said, somewhat sheepishly.

Oh, Christ Almighty. You know, in a nation where fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce, broken families are hardly an African-American problem. They're American problem.

Graham enters a new level of Dumbth, though:

Truth is, we live in a nation where, despite the rantings of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, most white people — not just the media, but regular folks eating side-by-side at Applebee's — want black people to succeed.

Well, hold the presses! I don't think I ever thought about whether I wanted black people to succeed. I pretty much want everyone to succeed. Indeed, I don't many idiots who've ever sat down and thought: Hmm...I like black folks, they're good dancers and athletes, and that Oprah is nice...yep, I'd like them to succeed. But Latinos? To Hell with 'em.

Pandagon gets after her:

There are black people who aren't Republicans and murderers, dumbass.

I'm going to call up some black people (I know a few) and have a family of them stare at Jennifer Graham's family. After all, 50 percent of marriages, including white people's, end in divorce. I'm going to have those black people stare at her and her husband (and her children, if they're not off being taken care of by Fox News), and when they get up to leave, give the Grahams a standing round of applause for being white people who made it. You go, white girl!

And to her dumb statement:

America does want to see blacks succeed. America wants to see Hispanics succeed. America wants to see Asians and Indians and Iraqis succeed. America — God bless her — even wants to see white males succeed. That's who we are. That's our core. May it always be no big deal.

He responds note-perfect:

May you always be surprised when you see a black lawyer, or a Hispanic doctor, or a poor white person whom you can't use to degrade the racially-tinged poverty of many minority groups.


This is Frickin' Hilarious

You remember the whole Texas redistricting affair? Where the Democrats fled the state because the GOP was going to redraw the maps to add to the GOP advantage? Remember how the Democrats were gone for weeks?

You'd think that would've given the GOP ample time to get their house in order, but you'd be wrong.

Despite working around the clock the past couple of days, House and Senate Republicans late Saturday had not agreed on a map that would increase the number of Republicans from Texas in Congress. Democrats currently hold a 17 to 15 advantage under a map drawn by three federal judges in 2001. Republicans believe they can increase their clout in Congress by four to six seats with new districts.

Gov. Rick Perry has said the Legislature must give him a map sometime Monday to avoid postponing the state's primaries. But state lawmakers were bumping up against internal legislative deadlines for producing a compromise over the weekend.

Senate and House negotiators swapped maps Saturday and blamed one another for their failure to agree to a deal.

Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, the House's chief negotiator, said the House made a "great offer" at 3 a.m. Saturday. The Senate countered with another offer later Saturday.

"I'm willing to keep negotiating, but this map couldn't get a majority in the House," King said of the Senate counter-proposal.

He then went home to nap.

So let me get this straight. The Democrats were shutting down the State of Texas. Evil! Evil!

During that time, the GOP was apparently playing solitaire, looking at internet porn, watching "Spongebob Squarepants," and basically avoiding work.

Because you sure would think they would've wanted to get this

Republican infighting had Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, longing for a fresh exodus.

"We're just praying the Democrats will leave again, to take the heat off of us," Smithee said.

Sorry, Chirpy. You called down the thunder, well now you've got it. Nice work, Texas GOP. Nice work.



Take First Postseason Series in 95 Years

Next Up: Florida in the Friendly Confines

For the first time since 1908, the Chicago Cubs have won a postseason series, taking the decisive fifth game from the Atlanta Braves at the Ted.

Kerry Wood pitched lights-out for the second time in the series and Alex Gonzalez and Aramis Ramirez both went deep to give the Cubs their first postseason series victory since the Cubs beat the Tigers in the 1908 World Series.

This will mark the first NLCS for the Cubs in fourteen years.

Florida is an outstanding team, and any team that can knock off the Giants merits concern. But the Cubs will have home field advantage, and they have Prior and Wood set up to pitch twice each in the series.

Could this be the year? Could it be the first time since '45 we go to the series? Could it be the first time since '08 we win it all?

It might could be....

Saturday, October 04, 2003
Jeff Hearts Gregg Easterbrook

Why? Because he has fantastic commentary like this:

Recall that in 1998, Saddam had thrown out U.N. inspectors. The United States and United Kingdom threatened airstrikes; most other Western nations waffled or counseled appeasement. In December 1998, U.S. and British aircraft bombed Iraq weapons facilities for several nights, while 400 cruise missiles were fired into Iraq. At the time, many conservatives and Republicans denounced the strikes as pinpricks and called for much more dramatic action. Clinton's decision to do everything from the air was derided as liberal fear of casualties.

Yet now it appears Desert Fox was a resounding success. Among the Iraq facilities pounded in 1998 was the Al Zaafaraniyah atomic weapons and missile complex. Al Zaafaraniyah was not bombed during the 1991 Gulf war, because the United States did not then know much about it. U.N. inspectors found the facility in the aftermath of the 1991 war; in 1993, Clinton ordered Al Zaafaraniyah hit with cruise missiles to stop Iraq atomic-weapons research; in 1998, Al Zaafaraniyah was reduced to rubble.

Set aside the question of whether the United States should have invaded Iraq in 2003; history may still judge this decision favorably, as a liberation of the oppressed. But if most of the Iraq atomic weapons program stopped in 1998, as Kay concludes, then Clinton administration policy on Iraq was far more effective than once assumed; then the WMD case for invasion this year was even weaker than now assumed; and then the case for airstrikes to halt the North Korean nuclear-weapons program may be stronger than now assumed. (Emphasis Added)

So Clinton was a lousy President who did nothing about terror or Saddam Hussein, except for the times when he prosecuted terrorists and destroyed Saddam's capability to create WMDs without a single American life lost.

Yeah, that Bill Clinton sucks. Thank God the adults are in charge now.

Damn, when Sammy hit that ball to the track in the bottom of the ninth, I thought it was out. But no, Cubs lose to Atlanta 6-4. But I like our chances with Kerry Wood on the mound tomorrow night.

As for the Twins, I'll remind myself that last year in the ALDS, they were down two games to one and came back to win. Then I'll remind myself that they were playing the A's instead of the Yankees, and I'll sulk a bit.

Soldiers Under Fire for Marrying Iraqis

This is just a weird story all around:

Two Florida National Guard soldiers who married Iraqi women against their commander's wishes are being investigated for allegedly defying an order, their families said.

The men, both Christians who converted to Islam so they could be married under Iraqi law, had expected to return to Florida this month, but a new army policy that requires troops to remain in Iraq for 12 continuous months may keep them there until April.


First of all, I'm not sure it's the greatest idea to just go over to Iraq and get married. And I can see why an officer in the US military would think that was a really bad idea. Then again, is it really a lawful order to order a soldier not to get married?

I don't really know what to think here. All I know is that everyone kinda looks like an idiot.

Roy Mauled

And not by Siegfried. Illusionist Roy Horn is in critical condition after being mauled by tiger. Hopefully, he'll recover soon--one can hope.

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Cubs Win!

The Chicago Cubs are one game away from winning their postseason series since 1908. Mark Prior, Cubs' ace of today, outdueled Greg Maddux, Cubs' ace of yesteryear, for a 3-1 win and a 2-1 series lead. I'll be over at my parents' house this afternoon, watching the Cubs (hopefully) clinch.

I have an insane amount of hope about this team. With the pitching they've got in Prior and Wood, they've got a great shot to go all the way, especially if they can clinch today and save Wood for game 1 of the NLCS.

Then again, I remember that in 1984, when I was but a lad of ten, the Cubs actually had a 2-0 lead in the NLCS--including a 13-0 pounding in game 1--and ended up getting swept at Jack Murphy Stadium by the Padres. I remember Leon "Bull" Durham pulling a Bill Buckner before Bill Buckner did it in the deciding game 5.

1984 was my first experience with a true Cubs collapse. My dad had to live through 1969.

We've been here before, and we've been disappointed. But unlike Vikings fans, Cubs fans have faith. Blind, deaf, and dumb faith. And I believe this time. I believe.

Let's get some runs!

Eibensteiner Indicted

Rob Eibensteiner, the chair of the Minnesota Republican Party, has been indicted by a Mower County grand jury in connection with an allegedly illegal campaign contribution.

The campaign contribution in question came from American Bankers Insurance, a company that both parties in Minnesota probably wish they'd never heard of.

The heart of the issue:

At issue is a $15,000 contribution the company made last September and intended to benefit the campaign of gubernatorial candidate Tim Pawlenty.

The check was made out to the Republican National State Election Committee, Mauzy said, but was "mistakenly" sent to the state Republican Party. Eibensteiner sent the contribution to the national party, where it was deposited in an account separate from funds destined for the Minnesota elections, Mauzy said.

Now, before all we Democrats jump for joy, a few points do need to be remembered. First, there is no good explanation as to why this indictment was handed down in Mower County, of all places. Mower County is a little rural county on the Iowa border--hardly the seat of power in Minnesota. I'm sure it's a lovely place, but it seems an odd place to pursue this, as it's almost certain these actions were taken in Hennepin or Ramsey County (Minneapolis or St. Paul, for you outside the state).

Second, it's not like the DFL comes off scot-free here. The prosecution case has been handled by a special prosecutor (the well-respected and sublimely named Earl Gray) because Mike Hatch, the Attorney General, has his own ties to American Bankers. Hatch gave money from his budget to Mower County to hire Gray because given Hatch's ties, direct assistance by the Attorney General's office--required by statute in campaign finance cases--would represent a conflict of interest. Indeed, there was wide speculation that Hatch would be called to testify in the trial, and that he may have been called to testify before the Grand Jury.

All that said, it is kind of nice to see the state GOP getting hoisted on their own petard. The GOP has been having plenty of fun filing suit after suit against Democrats, most recently Sen. Mark Dayton (DFL-MN), who was accused of voting illegally after he sold his Minneapolis home, despite the fact that he had confirmed that he could vote where he voted with both the state and Hennepin County.

Do I cry for Ron Eibensteiner? No. But I do want to see some more facts before I start gloating.

Thursday, October 02, 2003
FLASH: Arlen Specter Calls on Ashcroft to Recuse Himself

The story:

Sen. Arlen Specter, an influential member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cited Ashcroft's ties to White House political aide Karl Rove, who, at one point, had been accused of being the leaker -- a charge disputed by the White House.

Asked whether Rove's history as a political advisor to Ashcroft during his gubernatorial and Senate campaigns were grounds for him to step away from the case, Specter said "recusal is something Ashcroft ought to consider."

Annoying as Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) can be, he's not a wingnut. Yes, he came up with the "magic bullet" theory after the Kennedy assassination (he wasn't wrong--one bullet could do all the damage he envisioned. Just not by hanging in mid-air, turning ninety degrees, and rocketing off again), but he voted against removing Clinton during impeachment, and he's sober enough that he's got some respect on both sides of the aisle. Specter calling on Ashcroft to recuse himself will make it harder and harder for the Attorney General to cover this up. Indeed, at this point the Bush administration should demand Ashcroft name a special counsel, because any Ashcroft-led investigation that fails to draw blood will immediately be cited as proof of cronyism, not exoneration.

Unless the Bushies are guilty. In which case cronyism is the lesser of two evils.


There's evil, and then there's evil.

A staff member for Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) put together a weblog called N8354N.

What is the significance of N8354N?

It's the tail number of the plane that crashed, killing Mel and Randy Carnahan and Chris Sifford during the 2000 Missouri Senate Campaign.

Ha-ha! So funny!

Roy Temple, Carnahan's former chief of staff and a close friend of Sifford's, said the site was "created as a cruel way to hurt people."

"This goes way beyond politics," said Temple, a Democratic consultant. "It's about somebody doing evil things because they don't care they hurt real people. They ought to be ashamed."

On Wednesday, Julie Dammann, Bond's chief of staff, said the staff member, whom she would not name, had been disciplined but not fired. She said Bond believed that the site's name "was inappropriate, and he was personally offended by it."


The "N8354N" site was a "blog," a running journal on the Internet. The site's creator said the name was not picked at random.

"It marks an inflection point in current Missouri politics," the site said. "On that day, the worm began to turn."


Temple traced the Web site to a member of Bond's staff by matching e-mail addresses of people who had accessed his own Web site and tracing identification numbers associated with those e-mail addresses. He found that someone posing as a Democrat had been sending e-mails from Bond's office and that same e-mail address was associated with the "N8354N" site.

Dammann, Bond's chief of staff, said the staff member had created the site from his or her home. She acknowledged that the staff member had sent e-mails to political Web sites from Bond's Senate office in Washington, which violates office policy.

The log of postings on the "N8354N" show that the person operating it would have made entries during office business hours.

I'm sure we can look forward to funny "Die Wellstone Die" and "Shoot More Kennedys" weblogs in the future.

Seriously, this is beyond offensive. I hate George W. Bush and hope he loses all fifty states next year, but I don't want the man to die. If he did die, I would be saddened by his death, and I would show respect for those who supported him.

There are those who can't, of course--witness the "He's Dead--Get Over It" and "Tombstone!" bumper stickers that grace the vehicles of some Republicans in Minnesota. But those people should be called what they are--hateful, spiteful, evil people. And those of us--right and left--with souls and consciences must condemn them.

Ann Coulter Learns a Lesson
A Blog of the Moderate Left short story

Ann Coulter scratched her head. A Democrat isn't in the White House, she mused. How is it possible that someone could allege treason against a Republican? I mean, if it was Clinton, sure, but Bush? He's dreamy.

Bill O'Reilly came over and put an arm around Ann's shoulder. "What's wrong, Ann?"

"Bill, I don't get it. Everyone knows that the Democrats are out to destroy America, but it seems that Mike Spann's dad is saying the leak of Valerie Plame's name is treason. I mean, Mike Spann died in Afghanistan. His dad should love the Bush administration. How can this be?"

Bill leaned back. "Ann, there's a little lesson I learned when I was growing up poor in the slums of Waver--I mean, Levittown. And that lesson is that the liberal media will spin any story to make Republicans look bad."

"You think?"

"Sure," he said, smiling. "I mean, take this leak case. Okay, maybe the White House leaked this. And, okay, maybe Valerie Plame was undercover. And all right, maybe this put CIA operatives at risk. But did anyone ever think that maybe her husband is a Democrat?"

"What? But he worked for the first Bush admin--"

"That's what the liberals want you to believe. Well I'm not buying it. I didn't win four Peabody awards by believing everything I read."

Ann wiped a tear away. "So you're saying that Johnny Spann was duped by the liberal press?"

"That's my girl! When will people learn that they can't rely on facts? They need to watch the Factor, and Hannity and (Colmes), and read your book. And listen to Rush. That's really all there is to it."

Ann smiled.

Then Bill slipped Ann's panties down her legs and, within seconds, his tongue was inside her, moving rapidly.

The Dreams of the Right

Andy, Matt, and Glenn all want to believe this story:

Kuwaiti security authorities have foiled an attempt to smuggle $60 million worth of chemical weapons and biological warheads from Iraq to an unnamed European country, a Kuwaiti newspaper said on Wednesday.
The pro-Government Al-Siyassah, quoting an unnamed security source, said the suspects had been watched by security since they arrived in Kuwait and were arrested "in due time." It did not say when or how the smugglers entered Kuwait or when they were arrested.

Wow. That sure puts a dent in the "there aren't any WMDs there" line the left has been touting. Who needs David Kay?

There's only one problem with the story.

It's bogus.

Oh, sure, some true believers will try to say that it could be true. But unfortunately, there's a big problem with this story that essentially proves its falsity.

The story is bylined to the Associated Press.

And the Associated Press has no such story on its wire.

Give Glenn Reynolds credit--he acknowledged this fact immediately upon having it brought to his attention, and notes that this story is probably not real. Andrew Sullivan, of course, wonders:

Why is this not big news? It's an AP report, after all.

Andrew, if this were in fact true, it would be a huge story. It would push Plamegate onto the back pages. Fox would go wall-to-wall on this. Why? Because finally, we found us some WMDs!

But alas, it's false. Sorry, guys. Back during the war, America wanted to believe our President too. We've wised up now. You should too.

Rush Limbaugh Quits ESPN, Gets Hooked On OxyContin

You know, I was concerned when ESPN hired Rush to be on their NFL pregame show, but now I've got to say it's worked out just fine.

Rush has been forced to resign in disgrace after just four weeks for making boneheaded statements about Donovan McNabb and race. (For the record, the statement was: "I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team." Uh, Rush? McNabb has taken his team to two consecutive NFC Championship games. Most teams would kill to have an undeserving QB like that.)

Then, it turns out he's hooked on the hillbilly heroin.

Heh. Thanks, ESPN. In four weeks, you've done the kind of overwhelming national damage to Rush's image that we on the left could only dream of. Oh, the wingers will stay with Rush--they'll always stay with Rush. But this reminds the rest of the world what a moron Rush is. Or, as Eagles D-lineman N.D. Kalu says, "He speaks well, he's well-read, but he's an idiot."

Wednesday, October 01, 2003
Not an important story/Doesn't have legs/Nobody cares

Well, except for eighty percent of Americans:

Eight in 10 Americans say the alleged White House leak of a CIA operative's identity is a serious matter, and nearly seven in 10 say it should be investigated by a special counsel, not by the administration's own Justice Department.

The issue has prompted significant suspicion and concern. In an ABCNEWS/Washington Post poll more than seven in 10 think it's at least somewhat likely that someone in the White House did identify a former diplomat's wife as a covert CIA operative. If so, eight in 10 say that person should not only lose his or her job, but also face criminal charges.

Far fewer, 34 percent, think it's likely that President Bush himself knew in advance of the leak. But Bush faces other perception problems: Just under half of Americans, 47 percent, think the White House is "fully cooperating" with the investigation. Bush has signaled a preference for the Justice Department, not a special counsel, to investigate.

The news spread fast: In this poll, completed after the nightly news Tuesday, 68 percent of Americans said they'd heard or read about the issue. Those people were more likely to call it a "very" serious matter — but also less likely to suspect that Bush knew about it.

In short? People are willing to give Bush himself a break--but less so to his compadres. If Bush moves quickly to oust the offenders (something he could've done 2 1/2 months ago, but still), he might just make it through. But if he tries to wait this out, he's in trouble. 80% find the link "serious," 48% "very serious." Majorities of Democrats, independents, and Republicans support the appointment of a special counsel to investigate this matter.

In short: this story is not going away. If anything, it's about to take of in a serious way. The Bush administration must act quickly and decisively to oust the wrongdoers (which will be tough if it's Karl Rove), or they can start to enjoy the fun times that were the Clinton administration.

More to the point, it's time for Bush to decide if he's really looking to be the head of an administration with ethics we can be proud of, or not. I think he's decided. I hope I'm wrong.

Josh Marshall interviews Wes Clark

And I'm pretty impressed:

TPM: There are all sorts of critiques about the present administration's domestic policies. What's the central one? What's the central problem, the central flaw in this administration's domestic policy?

CLARK: There's an underlying ideological drive that overrides pragmatism. The American people want government to fix the things they can't fix themselves. The American people are basically individualists. They like each other; they're very charitable and generous; they're bound together in a hundred different ways -- they're not a big-government country. They're not socialists. But they recognize there are things they can't fix, like healthcare, or education--public education.

And this administration comes in with an ideology that blocks its ability to see, articulate, and resolve those problems. It's an ideology that's a sharpened sort of right-wing Republican party ideology. It has no real intellectual base to it. It's just the ideology of a party. By intellectual base, I'm talking first, trickle-down economics. No reputable economist stands up and says, "Trickle down economics really works." Because we know the marginal propensity to consume of people who are making $100,000 a year and less is much higher than the marginal propensity to consume of people who are making $350,000 a year and more.

So therefore when you say you're going to give money to the rich so they'll make jobs for the poor -- that's not a very efficient way of producing jobs in the American economy. We know that, all things being equal, that the lower the tax rate at the margin, the greater the incentive to earn the extra dollar. But we also know -- it's just human nature to figure that out -- that in a society where you've got a lot of people that are struggling to pay the electricity bill and the telephone bill and you've got a few people who don't care what the electricity and telephone bill is, that the few people who don't care about these things ought to pay a higher proportion of their income to help the rest of the country than the people who are struggling with the necessities in life.

That's a pretty dang good summation of moderate liberalism. Read the whole thing.