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Monday, January 31, 2005
2008 Power Rankings

Every so often, we take the pulse of the 2008 Presidential Race. Because.

Here's your top x, starting on the left:

1. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) (Last Ranking: 1)

Hillary is leading every poll, she's making noise like she might run, she's the woman to beat. Can a divisive, polarizing figure win the presidency? Were you around last November? Still #1 with a bullet.

2. Fmr. Sen. John Edwards (R-NC) (LR: 2)

He was my choice in 2004, and I still think we'd be talking about how Vice President Kerry was doing today had he gotten the nod. But while he still stays at #2, why do I get the feeling his stock is dropping?

3. Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) (LR: 7)

He's dullish, which hurts. He's Latino, which helps. He's from the Mountain West, which really helps. And now he's thinking of running, so he moves up the list.

4. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN) (LR: Not Ranked)

Bayh makes his debut a scorcher for his bold moves in repudiating Condi and defending Social Security. Possibly too conservative to get the nomination, but a great shot if he did. At the very least, unlikely to be Joe Lieberman.

5. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) (LR: 9)

Quickly becoming the darling of the Net Set. He's the "Feingold" in "McCain/Feingold," he's a principled liberal, he's articulate, he's smart. I still think he has no chance in the general.

6. Gov. Mark Warner (D-VA) (LR: NR)

He and Bayh will fight it out for the right-hand side of the party. A charismatic Southerner--gee, why would we turn to him? Biggest roadblock is Bayh--there's probably not room enough for both to run.

7. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) (LR: NR)

Her grandstanding at the Rice hearings and her backing of the Ohio challenge give her a shot at becoming the Dennis Kucinich of 2008. But Boxer doesn't look like Dobby the Elf, so she's got a better shot than he does.

8. Gen. Wesley Clark (ret.) (D-AR) (LR: 8)

Clark may be testing the waters again, and there's no question he'd be a better candidate the second time around. But I can't help thinking I'd like to see Wes go run for a Senate seat or Governorship somewhere. He's got the time.

9. Fmr. Sen. Al Gore (D-TN) (LR: 4)

I just don't see Al running, and I really don't see Al winning.

10. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA) (LR: 5)

Dear John,

I know how painful this must be for you to read, but it's over between us. Yes, there were good times; Iowa was fun, and I'll never forget the first debate.

But John, I've grown. And Hillary, Bill, Russ--heck, even Wesley are looking better to me lately. We'll always have Des Moines.


The Democratic Party

11. The Field

Dropping Out:
Fmr. Gov. Howard Dean (D-VT) (LR: 3)

If he wins the DNC Chairmanship, he really won't be able to run in four years. If he loses? Same thing.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) (LR: 6)

2008 is too early. But he's #1 with a bullet for VP consideration.

Ben Affleck (D-MA) (LR: 10)

Actually, I think Clooney might have a shot, though.

Anyhow, now over to the right....

1. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) (LR: 4)

He's allegedly Karl Rove's choice, and he'll need to be annointed soon. The GOP is fracturing now that Bush is a lame duck, and with Cheney supposedly not running, a new standard-bearer will have to be annointed--quick. Frist fits the bill. He's the Senate leader, he's lockstep conservative, he's certainly bright. He's also dull as dishwater, but you can't have everything.

2. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) (LR: 2)

If he runs, will the Bushies let him get the nomination? Because if they do, he wins easily in 2008. I don't think he runs. But if he does, he's in great shape.

3. Vice President Dick Cheney (R-WY) (LR: 3)

Will he run? I still question it. But if he does, he becomes the instant frontrunner. Not since Alben Barkley has a sitting Vice President not sought the Presidency. Will Dick become the latest?

4. Fmr. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (R-NY) (LR: 1)

The Bernie Kerik affair hurt Giuliani doubly. One, it showed he had a buddy with questionable character. Two, it reminded everyone that on 9/10/01, everyone pretty much hated the former mayor. He's still America's Mayor, but he's also still pro-choice. I'd love to see him get the nomination, and watch Roy Moore walk off with 15% of the popular vote. My guess is that Rudy will continue sliding down this list until we find the idea of his presence on it laughable.

5. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) (LR: 5)

Hmm...Santorum for President. On the downside, he's a religious wacko who has compared homosexuality to bestiality. On the upside, I'd laugh every time I hear the President's name because I'd be thinking about santorum. Decisions, decisions....

6. Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) (LR: NR)

I inexplicably left Jeb off of the list before. Yes, he says he's not running, but why was he in Asia?

7. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice (R-CA) (LR: NR)

She's black! She's a woman! If Democrats were touting a black woman because she was black and a woman, we'd be accused of playing politics with race. Condi is unqualified to be SoS, and was an unmitigated disaster as NSA. And that has nothing to do with race, and everything to do with being bad at her job. Given the current standard bearer for all republicans, she's a perfect fit.

8. Gov. George Pataki (R-NY) (LR: NR)

Pataki, like Giuliani, is pro-choice, and that should be the deathknell. But he may choose running for President to getting destroyed by Eliott Spitzer.

9. Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger (R-CA) (LR: NR)

Still not Constitutionally qualified to serve. Still pro-choice. Still #2 if the first thing changes.

10. Fmr. Judge Roy Moore (R-AL) (LR: NR)

You know if he runs he'll make a splash.

11. The Field

Dropping Out:
Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) (LR: 6)

I just don't see Liddy running in four years. She'd still be formidable if she did.

Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) (LR: 7)

Nahm just won't be ready yet. He'd be a good VP choice, though.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) (LR: 8)

See: Norm Coleman. Has to get past Mike Hatch in two years, though.

Ambassador Alan Keyes (R-Mars) (LR: 10)

He's tiny, he's toony, he's really really loony. Run, Alan, run!

Saturday, January 29, 2005
We're Here! We're Not Queer! But We're Close! Get Used To It!

Jebus almighty, what's with all these groups bitching about their grievances?

Now we've got a Straight Pride rally going on.

Now, I've talked about my antipathy toward identity politics before--I believe in equality before the law, but that's a different thing than equality in people's minds--and I think that the manner in which identity groups seek equality in people's minds tends to be self-defeating. (Hints: people don't like to be hectored. People really don't like to be told what they're allowed to say. And when you spell "women" with a y, nobody takes you seriously.)

That said, there's always something especially sad about "White Pride" and "Straight Pride" and "Male Pride" events, because of course, those of us who are straight, white, and male aren't being oppressed by anybody. About the worst we can claim is that our portrayal in commercials and on Lifetime is bad--and really, if that's our biggest gripe, we're doing okay.

So here's a little hint to those organizing this rally:


Really, folks, when you aren't allowed to get married because you're straight, come back and see me. Until then, shut up*.

*Not meant to imply you can't have your idiotic rally. The First Amendment gives you the right to be stupid and to broadcast your stupiditiy. Happily, it also means I can call you stupid and mock you openly.

The Wingnutty Professor

Max nails it in response to this insanely idiotic post from everyone's fave professor of law.

First, let's recap the Glennuendo, shall we?

HATE-FILLED STUPIDITY FROM LEFT-LEANING ACADEMICS ISN'T NEWS anymore, which is why I haven't been paying much attention to the story of Colorado professor Ward Churchill's comparison of 9/11 victims to Eichmann. But go here and look at the picture.

Isn't he exactly what you imagined? Shoulder-length hair, grimly self-righteous expression, black turtleneck, Abbie Hoffman sunglasses. A man whose look, like his rhetoric, is frozen in the amber of 1969.

The same kind of guys, looking the same way, were saying the same kinds of things when I was younger than my daughter is now. When will the Left catch up with the times?

Ah, yes. One insane crackpot on the left says something mindbogglingly stupid. It's not like he said the President had killed someone and staged it to look like suicide, but it's pretty stupid nonetheless. Therefore, everyone left of Zell Miller Hates America and Hates Freedom.

But Glenn continues:

And for those who email saying "what about Falwell on the right," well, it's worth remembering that the term "idiotarian" was coined with Falwell in mind. It's just that the right has done a better job of muzzling and marginalizing its idiots, while the Left has embraced them. And if the "backlash" theory set out above is true, it will only get worse, which is bad for the Left, and bad for America.

WTF? Has Glenn noticed James Dobson being castigated by George W. Bush lately? No? How 'bout Falwell? Or Robertson? Or anyone of the right-wing nutjobs who are trying to outlaw SpongeBob?

No? Me either.

But nobody can take down Reynolds like Max:

Any clown could put together an identical screed, enjoying a harvest of the bumper crop of lunacy issuing from talk radio and the U.S. House of Representatives and arrive at an identical summary judgement of "The Right." The question is, who has a mind that could content itself with pursuing such an exercise? Nobody I know. Maybe that's why we're losing. We dislike being assholes.

Read the whole thing. And as for Max's summation, yes, I agree with him. I'm not sad Saddam's out of power, but I'm not happy about how things have developed. And that doesn't make me an Enemy of Freedom. It makes me a realist.

Sosa Spelled Backward is Asos

The Sammy Sosa era has come to an end. The Cubbies have traded their captain and best-known player to the Baltimore Orioles, in exchange for a decent utility infielder and a couple of minor leaguers.

To say that the trade was somewhat below market value is an understatement; while Sosa did hit just .253 last year, his OPS was still a reasonable .849, and he still hit 35 homers and drove in 80. The Twins, for example, would kill for his bat in the lineup.

But Sosa went out ignominiously. He skipped out on the team's last game of the season, and from that day forward it was a fait accompli that the seventh-leading home run hitter of all time would be traded. Sosa will pass Mark McGwire and--ironically--Frank Robinson wearing black and orange instead of Cubby blue.

Cubs fans have a right to feel saddened today. Though in some respects, Sosa had to be traded, the trade itself feels hollow. Sosa was surely better than a middle infielder and a few prospects. He was one of the two men who carried baseball back from the brink, and the best player on the playoff teams of '98 and '03. If he failed to carry the Cubs over the top, well, who hasn't, other than Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown?

As for the Cubbies this year, I can't help feel that we're rebuilding. Maybe the Cubs will sign banged-up southsider Magglo Ordonez. And of course, Wood and Prior both should be healthy this year. And we've still got Nomah.

But without Sammy, it feels a bit like the heart of this team is gone. We'll see soon enough whether Sosa, like the great Cris Carter, has simply outlived his welcome, or whether this trade, like so many others, comes back to haunt my favorite club.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Earth-Shattering News

Ezra Klein leaves Pandagon.

Okay, more like Pandagon-shattering news. Or something.

But at least Ezra is going to keep on blogging, so there ya go.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Go. Read. Galacticus commands it!

Thursday, January 20, 2005
One in Three Statistics Bogus

One in five children has been sexually solicited online.

Scary, huh? That'll sure make a guy nervous. My daughter will never connect to the internets, no sir!

Of couse, like all good scary statistics, this one is wrong.

Now, of course, you can argue that the 1 in 5 stat, while wrong, isn't hurting anything--and maybe you have a point. But much like the one in ten women who will be raped (which has become one in seven, then one in five, and will soon be two of three), the statistic obscures reality.

When 20% of kids online need fear a sexual predator, that is a crisis of unimaginable proportion; there is almost no way to envision a way to keep the net save for our children without monitoring their every move. We can't leave them alone, lest someone start harassing them. One in five of them will be harassed by a pedophile! And even if you watch out, those pedophiles are so numerous that you can't stop them!

When the number is closer to 3%--still too damn high, of course--all of a sudden the options appear to be different. You can start to gameplan ways to stop the criminals. Rather than facing a tidal wave of predators, you can take precision aim at the lone wolves circling. In short, by recognizing the actual scope of the problem, you can deal with the problem as it is.

After all, if the only solution to keeping your kids safe is to keep them in the bubble, how soon is it until they sneak off and start hiding their internet usage from you? And what happens then?

I can go off on a whole other tangent on how we seek to stop rape on college campuses but fail to do so in working class neighborhoods where the crime rate--and per capita incidence of rape--is far higher*. But I'll stop now. All I know is that when facing criminals, I want to stop them, and it's better to be realistic about the problem and go about facing it in the proper way than to be ever-paralyzed by fear.

*For the record, I believe rape to be a more heinous crime than murder, and third behind only slaveholding and genocide in the pantheon of crimes one can commit. Because of this, I'd like to actually stop it, not just take actions to make us feel good about being against it.

No, Seriously

Even Newt Gingrich says there is no crisis in Social Security.

Jeff's Top Five...and Bottom Five!

In honor of George W. Bush's inauguration today, I give you my top five and bottom five presidents in our nation's history.

1. Abraham Lincoln (R-IL)

Somehow held Republic together. Freed the slaves. May have been gay, but no matter what his orientation, managed to stay married to Mary Todd Lincoln, which was a feat no lesser man could master. Apocryphal story I read in second grade showed he could spell Mississippi, so you know he was smart!

2. George Washington (I-VA)

Too cool for a party. Had wooden teeth. Lost more battles than he won, but won the war, and that's the important thing. Could've been King of America had he wanted to be--and he didn't, to his lasting credit. Not as smart as Jefferson, nor as charismatic as Adams, nor as whorish as Franklin--just stick-to-it dedicated, tough as nails, and deserving of being the Father of his Country.

3. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (D-NY)

Won WWII. (All Truman had to do was drop the bomb Roosevelt built.) Beat the Great Depression. Restored hope in a hopeless time. Built a social welfare system that will endure forever and/or until George W. Bush and his allies in Washington dismantle it. Was married to a lesbian, and you know how hot lesbians are!

4. Thomas Jefferson (D-VA)

The smartest of all the Presidents. If not for his willingness to put the national interest ahead of his own political beliefs, America would lack everything west of Illinois today. Wrote the best summation of liberty in the history of Mankind. Got freak nasty with Sally Hemmings. Founded the Democratic Party.

5. Ronald Reagan (R-CA)

Surprise! I may not agree with Reagan much, but his greatness in political terms cannot be questioned. Single-handedly resurrected the conservative wing of the Republican party. Won the Cold War. (All Bush had to do was watch the ediface cave in.) Restored our faith as a nation. Still able to have a beer with Tip O'Neill. Also liked jelly beans.

Honorable Mentions: Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, John Adams, James K. Polk, Lyndon Baines Johnson

39. Ulysses S. Grant (R-IL)

Great General. Great General. Horrible, corrupt, incompetent two-term President.

40. Warren G. Harding (R-OH)

A President who won because he looked Presidential. Once almost caught having sex in a broom closet. Presided over an unbroken string of scandals that only ended at his death. Brought us the word "normalcy," because at the time, when the President used a word, it became a word even if it wasn't. If that were still the rule, we'd be using "misunderestimated" without irony.

41. George W. Bush (R-TX)

Debated this one. After all, he is still President, and could theoretically rise or fall based on next four years. But still....

Misled America into a war that did not need to be fought. Deliberately short-circuited national unity for political gain. Operates in a bubble of happy-talk, where all is duckies and bunnies. Still has not told us why things will get better in the next four years. Believes that America has given him our blessing for his screw-ups because we re-elected him. Maybe America has. I haven't.

42. Richard M. Nixon (R-CA)

Believed the Constitution was subservient to the President. Found out the hard way that it was not.

43. James Buchanan (D-PA)

Presided over the break-up of the Union. No matter what our current president does, it will be hard for him to do worse than that.

Dishonorable Mentions: Rutherford B. Hayes, John Qunicy Adams, Herbert Hoover, William Taft, Lyndon Baines Johnson

And--bonus--my Top Five Most Overrated Presidents!

1. John F. Kennedy (D-MA)

Great orator, could've been one of the greats, but he died before actually contributing much besides the Cuban Missle Crisis. Not fair, perhaps--but true.

2. Harry S Truman (D-MO)

We Democrats love Truman, and yes, he did produce the Marshall Plan, which keeps him in the top fifteen of Presidents. But his domestic policy was up-and-down, and his personality was prickly enough that there really was no point in his seeking reelection in 1952. To Harry's credit, he knew it.

3. Woodrow Wilson (D-SC)

An avowed racist, Wilson is beloved by goo-goo internationalists for coming up with the League of Nations, which sure managed to prevent World War II!

4. George W. Bush (R-TX)

51% of Americans believed him competent to serve as President for a second term. That's dramatically overstating the case.

5. Ronald Reagan (R-CA)

Yes, I've rated him one of my top five. But some Republicans actually celebrate Reaganmas.

I have no choice but to place him on the list.

Texan John Kline Knows Push Polls

My mediocre Representative, John Kline, with a truly great push poll Question of the Week:

It is widely recognized that without reform to the current Social Security system, it has little chance of survival through the next several decades. Some have suggested allowing younger workers to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes into personal accounts that they can own and control. Do you support this type of reform? If not, what changes would you suggest to ensure Social Security remains viable for future generations?

I answered thusly:

What I'd like you to do, Congressman, is take down the push poll. There's no crisis in social security. Go check out for more information.

Unfortunately par for the course. Glad I voted for Daly. Sorry I'm stuck with you.

Yours respectfully,
Jeff Fecke

I encourage others--especially those of you stuck with he of the nuclear football--to respond as you see fit.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005
I've Had a Few

Richard Armitage:

"I'm disappointed that Iraq hasn't turned out better. And that we weren't able to move forward more meaningfully in the Middle East peace process."

Then, after a minute's pause, he adds a third regret: "The biggest regret is that we didn't stop 9/11. And then in the wake of 9/11, instead of redoubling what is our traditional export of hope and optimism we exported our fear and our anger. And presented a very intense and angry face to the world. I regret that a lot."

I regret it too, Richard. Sorry it was your boss who was at the core of that decision.

Cubs Going All The Way!

Maybe not, but you've gotta love this: they're removing names from home uniforms.

Now if they can get rid of the lights, they'll really have something....

Dirty Bomb Scare in Boston

Appears to be somewhat serious.

Boston Herald has more.

Sometimes the Headline is the Story

Poll: Nation split on Bush as uniter or divider

Rove-Reed '08


A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever

Harry Reid:

The President's plan is a dead horse not because of partisan politics but because it is a privatization plan based on massive benefit cuts, risky Wall Street accounts and $2 trillion in new debt. It will undermine Social Security at a time when we should be looking to strengthen the program and help Americans save.

And if a 50 percent benefit cut is not enough, now we learn Republicans are aiming to push even deeper cuts for America's women. Any suggestion that women do not deserve the same benefits as men is just plain wrong.

Retirement security is America's promise to all its workers, and I will ensure that promise is kept.


There Is No Spoon

And as for Social Security, there is no crisis.

Friday, January 14, 2005
Maureen, You Ignorant Slut

Maureen Dowd goes all Maureen Dowd in one of the flat-dumbest articles I've read in a long time. In it, Dowd discovers that men like dumb women.

Possibly true among those over the age of fifty. But...well, let's just do a quick tour around my circle of friends, of their significant others and/or major relationships:

Me: Goofball wannabe writer and perpetual student
Ex: Attorney with Master's in Gerontology
Advantage: Woman

Friend #1*: Attorney/Trainer
Wife: Chemist specializing in regulatory compliance
Advantage: Push

Friend #2: Attorney and Writer
Ex: Doctor
Advantage: Woman

Friend #3: College Administrator
Wife: Nurse
Advantage: Push

Friend #4: Traveling Salesman
Wife: Realtor
Advantage: Man (but check back in a year)

Brother-in-Law: Sales/Construction
Sister: Department Manager
Advantage: Woman

So in just a quick tour of my friends, I can say that in only one major relationship has the man had a significant career advantage over the woman--and in that case, only because the woman chose to stay home for several years with her children. In all other cases, it's either a tie or the woman is in better shape.

Maybe I've got weird friends--but I doubt it. This rule pretty much extends to just about everyone I know. And far from being distraught or rushing into the arms of waitresses, my friends are pretty sanguine about the whole affair.

Indeed, I think it would've spoken poorly about my friends if they'd chosen dumb women to be with. You shouldn't want a partner you can't relate to intellectually. Maybe there was a time when you did--but those times are gone forever, and they ain't coming back.

*Friends have been presented in no particular order, and with their names hidden to protect their identity. For example, "Friend #3" is really Chris Rasinen.

Thursday, January 13, 2005
Shout Out to Karl Gerbschmidt

Top 11 Ways to Console a Despondent Packers Fan

Shorter Glenn and Jonah

Just because they're called death squads doesn't mean they're all bad--and hey, they were fighting against communism! Are you for communism?

Look at the monkey. Look at the silly little monkey.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005
The Rammer Speaks

The favorite GOP Congressperson of the Blog of the Moderate Left, Jim Ramstad (R-MN), weighs the chances of Bush's soi disant Social Security Reform passing:

“Right now, to be very candid with you, we don’t have broad Republican support let alone bipartisan support for [President Bush's] plan that was outlined during the campaign.”

And could it happen this year?

“It could. But uhhh … Y’know, and the Vikings could win the Super Bowl this year. I mean the chances are not 50-50, let me be honest with you.”

In the words of Monty Python: Albatross!

Dean for DNC Chair

Howard Dean's hat is officially in the ring for Chair of the DNC, and Kevin Drum is endorsing his candidacy.

I am too.

Now, back in early 2004, I was leery of Dean. My primary objection was temperamental--I thought Dean spouted off too much, that he didn't understand the role of the president. He was too much the partisan, even if his policy views were probably closer to mine than either Wes Clark's or John Edwards'. And then, of course, came Yeargh, and it was all over.

But traits that are unfortunate in a president can be beyond valuable in a DNC Chair. Dean is partisan, to be sure, but the DNC Chair is by definition a partisan. He can spout off a bit, but an opposition party needs someone who can get attention. And moreover, Dean understood the power of the grassroots, something the DNC has not fully tapped in the past few years (as I've said many times, Democrats are united by our hatred of George W. Bush and Terry McAulliffe.)

Will Dean be perfect? No, but there's nobody perfect out there. Dean will attract attention, though. He'll instantly get the invites to Meet the Press, and he'll probably acquit himself well there.

More to the point, though, Dean was not afraid--and that's what Democrats need right now. The Republican Revolution succeeded because the GOP learned to stop fearing being called conservative. Until we make liberal acceptable, we will never win the majority again.

Besides, at some point, we need to take a long hard look in the mirror, and ask ourselves: what have we got to lose? I doubt the GOP will ever get a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, so losing another seat or two there isn't a disaster. Control of the House is out of our reach whether the GOP has a majority of five or fifty. We're completely out of power, and we need to realise that.

Dean is a gamble. He could hurt. But his upside is better than any other candidates'. And this party needs to roll the dice.

Scream it loud, scream it proud: Dean for DNC Chair.

No WMDs in Iraq


I don't know how I'm going to get by when the 101st Fighting Hellmice aren't able to hype each gallon of bleach as absolute proof that Saddam had WMDs, but somehow, I'll survive.

The new question: given that the Bush administration is now giving up the search for WMDs, will any righty warblogger finally admit that there were no WMDs in Iraq?

Mitch? Glenn? Hindrocket?


Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Banda Aceh

Just read this. Now.

Monday, January 10, 2005

I swear that I have never taken money -- neither directly nor indirectly -- from any political campaign or government agency -- whether federal, state, or local -- in exchange for any service performed in my job as a journalist (or commentator, or blogger, or whatever you think I should be called).

If you're a blogger, journalist, or (in the case of Geraldo Rivera) a journ-assassin, you too should take the oath. Unless, of course, you've got a reason you don't want to. But what could that be?

Sunday, January 09, 2005
Requiem for a Gladiator

There will be time for we Vikings fans to gloat about our squad's surprising 31-17 win at Lambeau.

Like right now.

Holy cow, Green Bay, you didn't just get beat in the playoffs--you got beat by the Minnesota Vikings. An 8-8 team. A team that was 2-20 over their last 22 outdoor games. A team that was something like 0-939 in meaningful games in the Mike Tice era. A team that had Randy F--ing Moss on it, a player that continues to match his talent only with leaden stupidity.

It's like getting beat by a Pop Warner team that features Robert Downey, Jr. at quarterback.

I mean, sure the Vikings have some embarrassing playoff debacles. Wide Left, and the Steve Young scramble, and 41-donut; still, nothing is worse than actually losing to the Vikings in the playoffs.

But more important than gloating is the consideration of the one Green Bay Packer whom everyone, even Vikings fans, even Bears fans, respects: Brett Favre.

The day will come when Favre will be enshrined in Canton. He's won a Super Bowl, sure, but more than that, he's willed his team to victory through sheer will more often than I can count. He's got a true love of the game that comes through with every wing-and-a-prayer fireball thrown into triple coverage.

He knows that he's lucky to play a game for a living. And he plays like a man who knows it won't last forever.

Indeed, it just may be that it won't last any longer than now.

Favre says he almost retired immediately after Sunday's game, when he looked awful--throwing four interceptions and one bizarre flip four yards past the line of scrimmage. He was badly outplayed by the second-best quarterback in the National Football League, Daunte Culpepper, a player who is only having one of the top three or four seasons in NFL history--and having the misfortune to do it in a season where Peyton Manning is having the best.

Still, even though Culpepper has developed into an awesome quarterback, Favre has always gotten by on moxie. He just "knows how to win," as the cliche goes.

But today, he looked tired. He looked beaten down. He looked like Ewing in Seattle, a shell of his former self. There were still flashes, but none of the magic we've come to expect from the best quarterback of his generation.

Perhaps it's his wife's illness, his brother-in-law's death, his friend's death, his father's death. Perhaps it's just the ravages of time finally catching up to a man who is 35 years old, and who has played with a broken thumb. Perhaps the sun is finally setting on #4.

If so, then as a Vikings fan, I can only say: well done, Brett. I'd rather you'd worn purple, or indeed any other color but green and gold. Still, you've been fun to watch. And if you do decide to come back, well--I've seen you too many times. I'm not going to bet against one more late-game drive.

Thursday, January 06, 2005
Whew, That's a Relief

If everything goes right in Iraq, then it might just end up as stable as Algeria.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005
Pack a Lunch

As Jerry Seinfeld once said, "Good luck with all that:"

The Bush administration has signaled that it will propose changing the formula that sets initial Social Security benefit levels, cutting promised benefits by nearly a third in the coming decades, according to several Republicans close to the White House.

Under the proposal, the first-year benefits for retirees would be calculated using inflation rates rather than the rise in wages over a worker's lifetime. Because wages tend to rise considerably faster than inflation, the new formula would stunt the growth of benefits, slowly at first but more quickly by the middle of the century. The White House hopes that some, if not all, of those benefit cuts would be made up by gains in newly created personal investment accounts that would harness returns on stocks and bonds.

Of course, as a wise man once said, "Hope is not a plan."

As for me, all I can say is this: if the Democrats can't turn "33% reduction in benefits" into "risky, unnecessary scheme," then we should hang it up and turn things over to the Greens. This is a hanging slider. We need to knock it out of the park.

(FWIW, I'm not opposed to thinking about changes in Social Security--but by making modest changes in the retirement age, we could probably solve what little "must" be solved. As for the rest, well--if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Social Security isn't broke, just a little dinged up.)


So the House GOP was going to make sleeping with interns okay again, since the Republicans are in charge now and nobody was ever really against it except as a means to go after Clinton. They were going to do so by removing the rule that a member of the House "shall conduct himself [sic] at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House." Seeing as the House GOP had long-since given up on that, the rules change seemed a no-brainer.

But a weird thing happened: the House majority blinked, and how! Not only did they give up on forcing a vote on this change and others--which, unlike the DeLay rule change vote, would have to be open and in public, they gave up on the DeLay rule change, too.

So, what does this mean? Well, for one, it means that the moderates were in full rebellion against their dark overlords. The Democrats were certainly not going to be voting for the changes, and while we think of the GOP as having a solid majority, it's really fairly thin by historical standards. Better to kill the idea before the vote than show how weak your caucus really is.

But more interesting, what of the DeLay Rule Change Change? One can weave all sorts of conspiracies from this, but I think the answer is more prosaic. I think that the GOP representatives who left Washington after voting to give their underboss some more clout found that the voters at home were none-too-pleased.

The voters were right. And at some point, even the GOP had to notice that they were hemmorhaging political capital over ethics.

This is a victory for the Democrats, and an admission of wrongdoing, albeit transient, on the part of the Republicans.

I look forward on seeing how the usual suspects will try to spin this. My prediction: "We just wanted to highlight Democratic hypocracy."

At any rate, the GOP was for ethics, and against 'em, and now for 'em again. What do you call a party that's on both sides of an issue. Hmmm....

Monday, January 03, 2005
Department of Credit Where Due

Congrats to George Bush for doing what's right--twice! (What, is it Rove's day off?)
  • The White House upped aid to Asia to $350 million. That's more like it. Had we just done this right off the bat, it might have had an even more salient effect, but I'm not gonna quibble anymore.
  • Even better, Bush tapped Poppy and the Clenis to spearhead a drive for private aid. That's a great example of...what's the word...been so long...bipartisanship? Could it really be?

Seriously, it's good to see the President actually using a Democrat for anything other than demonizing other Democrats. It's what Presidents are supposed to do. I fear what's on the flip side of this (nightmare scenario: Bush makes Bill the new Zell Miller. That's just so crazy it might work!), but for now, I congratulate the President on a job well done.


All I have to say is this:

Yeah, baby! Woohoo! You thought you could mess with us? We're the Minnesota Vikings, man, and you can't touch us!

Hey Carolina--you think 7-9 is good enough to make the playoffs? Well it isn't! We haven't lost more games than we won. What do you think of that?

San Francisco? Chicago? Ha! Try winning at least eight games. Pretty hard, huh? Hey Detroit--if your long snapper didn't screw up, we'd be out of the playoffs but he did, beyatches!

Where were you that fabulous day when the Vikings made the playoffs on a blocked kick in a game they weren't playing? I remember it like it was yesterday. Ah, the memories...good times...good times.

So on to Green Bay, where the Vikings will be playing outdoors in the cold. You know how good the Vikes are on grass in freezing weather. Yeah, baby! Jacksonville, here we come!