September 30, 2005

Bad Prediction

Well, I figured it would take about 10-15 games over .500 to win the AL West, but the frickin' Angels are going to do it with 30 games over. Meanwhile, the Rangers will be lucky to get back to .500 by the break. We've got such a long way to go, and there's no sign of any major change in the front office or team philosophy either. At least the Cowboys are kind of fun to watch now that they have a semblance of an offense. I have a bad feeling they are going to get SO very torched this weekend against Oakland. I'll set the over/under on Randy Moss TD catches at 3.

Posted by Observer at 10:23 PM | Comments (1)

September 29, 2005

Losing Streak

I guess Steph is on another losing streak. This version of "Survivor", though, is so far no where near as entertaining as Palau. I think the big problem here is the personalities. In Palau, Tom and Ian were fun to watch, and there were a few hicks who were also train wrecks, and so they were always good for a laugh or two. In this one, the personality they focus on the most in Nukum (Bobby Jon's tribe) is Judd, the annoying New York doorman. I'd rather listen to the howler monkey than hear all of his stupid opinions, I think. Watching that monkey annoy the hell out of him was the funniest part of the show so far.

In Yaxha (Steph's tribe), Gary is interesting to follow just because he's trying to cover up his past. Steph was never really that interesting to follow, to me, and the rest of them are just so bland. At least Koror's gay guy had funnier lines in Palau. Plus, the producers have the problem that there just isn't much going on that is interesting. The heat seems to drain so much out of everyone, and they eat so poorly, they don't have the energy to really be entertaining. I can't believe they had 48 hours of who knows how much footage, and the best 15-20 minutes they could find (outside of the challenges) were the boring comments about each other, swimming in the lake, and more boring comments.

Even the pre-tribal council parts of the show are boring. The people who are going to be voted off seem to just accept it. They aren't fighting or trying to form alliances or anything. That's probably smart, because as soon as you form an alliance and lose a vote, you'll always be in the minority and in danger, but the people on the chopping block don't even seem to be trying to avoid it. Even Lydia (the older woman who has been weak so far in challenges) only talked to Gary last week and begged for his help; otherwise, other people were more voting off the airhead than protecting Lydia. Same thing this week.

The previews for next week say there's going to be some kind of big shake-up. I hope so. I'd like to see the challenges change to more balance/mental stuff to give the women an edge, then Yaxha is going to look pretty stupid for never considering the idea of voting one of their guys off.

Posted by Observer at 09:58 PM | Comments (1)

September 28, 2005

Hope?

From Kos, it seems that several years ago, Vermont passed a law to limit campaign spending per election cycle. It hasn't taken effect due to many rounds of legal challenges, and the whole thing has finally wound its way up to the Supreme Court. Now I imagine that the current crop of fuckwits who will rule in whatever way benefits the Republican party, precedents or the good of the country be damned (see Bush v Gore), will probably just open to damned spigot and allow candidates to spend whatever they want because that gives the advantage to Republicans, usually, who don't want to let facts and in-depth discourse get in the way of a million commercials showing two gay guys making out or morphing Hillary Clinton into Osama bin Laden.

But maybe they won't. Campaign finance reform is one of a precious few issues that cuts across party lines these days, even though Republicans have a huge advantage in keeping the status quo. I really wonder what John Roberts thinks about all this. Maybe after this, they'll take up the issue of media concentration so that one right-wing prick can't control so much of the information flow in this country. I'm looking forward to seeing the opinions on this, no matter what is decided.

Posted by Observer at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

September 27, 2005

Protest Politics

Athenae over at First Draft has some very good comments about the debate over the anti-war protests that were held in Washington, DC over the weekend. Did you miss them? No surprise there, as the media were wall-to-wall Rita coverage despite the fact that on the order of 250k people marched through the streets.

Anyway, some people have said it is a blessing that the protest wasn't covered more widely. That's because the people who helped organize the protest, ANSWER, kind of took over part of the day's event to promote their own agendas that not many people care about. It's not that the Palestinian situation isn't important or New Orleans or Cuba or socialism or whatever. It's just that 250k people came to protest the war, not to listen to someone try to take sides in the Arab-Israeli quagmire or what have you. Some of the speeches catered to the worst stereotypes that conservatives tend to promote about liberals.

To me, of course, groups like ANSWER really represent to left-wing of liberalism. There's room for them in the party, but they don't represent me. The idea that the media is accused of some kind of left-wing bias makes me laugh, though, when I think about ANSWER's pro-Marxism agenda. Exactly what major media personality or outlet (print, radio or TV) is representing that viewpoint in our "liberal" media, by the way? I mean, do they even have a talk show on some obscure cable network like all the right-wing nutballs get? No?

Huh.

This "anti-hippie" idea has been fiercely debated over at Kos for the past month or two in various diaries (see here and here), and I'm really on the fence. I understand that that we need to be "on message" a bit more and be more conscious of our public image because the American people can be pretty fucking stupid sometimes, voting for the guy they want to have a beer with instead of the guy who is qualified, that sort of thing. And we need their votes to change things. Rallies with a bunch of people holding the flag upside-down and/or promoting socialism aren't going to work.

On the other hand, a lot of the people doing the organizing have been fighting for liberal causes for decades, and who are we johnny-come-latelies to question their credentials or give them marching orders? If we don't like the way they hold a rally, we should damn well put one together ourselves. If you think Cindy's powerful message is being diluted or harmed in some way, then get off your ass and do something yourself to protest the war in a way you feel is appropriate. Don't just snipe. And by the way, a lot of these causes that don't get much attention and give people tired-head *are* important, and maybe we should pay a little more attention to them instead of knee-jerking when a guy in tie-dye starts talking into a microphone.

My feeling is that it's ok to be proud of our overall ideology, which includes some ideas that may not be all that popular. Doing the right thing instead of the popular thing is what led Democrats to pass the Civil Rights Act in 1964. We need to keep that tradition alive. But being proud of something doesn't mean you always bring it up. You want to talk about Palestine? Ok, great, but can we get out of Iraq first? Can we focus on that?

I'm proud of my kids, but I don't bring them up in my class every time I have an opportunity to lecture. There is a time and a place for it, and sometimes, you don't have to mention every last thing to get your message across. I have an overall liberal philosophy, and I think that shows through in what I write and what I say. I want to sell that using relevant issues at hand (like the war), and then I'll get the benefits later once people are along for the ride.

It's a very interesting and important debate that's going on in the Democratic Party right now, and it's worth following. Follow that link at the beginning and go from there to see arguments for both sides that are a lot more eloquent than mine.

By the way, The Sideshow still rocks.

Posted by Observer at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2005

Get Rid of the Chart!

One of the most maddening things to me in football is how stupid people can be about going for two points. Look, it's simple. The expected number of points when you go for two is about 0.8, because you only make it about 40% of the time. When you kick the extra point, you average about 0.98 points because you make it about 98% of the time.

So the Cowboys are down 21-6, and they score a TD in the 2nd quarter. If they kick an extra point, it's 21-13, and they're within eight (so if it were the end of the game, they could conceivably tie it on one possession). If they go for two to make up for the missed extra point earlier, then it is a more conventional 21-14 score. Anyway, since it is early in the game, it is academic, you should go for the choice that nets you more expected points.

But instead, the Cowboys go for two and fail, so now they're down nine points (two scores) when with a PAT attempt, they would've only been down by one. After the game, Parcells says, "Well, there's a reason we have the chart, and the chart said go for two there." Who designed this fucking chart? Why is it the be-all, end-all reference? Why can't a coach show some initiative and screw the chart if it doesn't make sense?

I ask all these in frustration, not expecting the honest answer, because the honest answer is not flattering to coaches. The thing is, the chart in football is like the closer in baseball. By using the closer in all ninth inning games where it is close, managers avoid being criticized for the decision. If the closer blows the game, it is the closer's fault. The manager is never faulted for taking the starter out in that situation (but is often criticized for leaving him in), so it becomes a no-brainer. Best way to keep your job is to not look for ways to get criticized.

Likewise, coaches like to pretend that the decision of whether to go for one or two is completely out of their hands, darn it, and they are just puppets who were put on this Earth to do the bidding of the author of this mystical chart. The only problem is, they aren't consistent about it. Sometimes, Parcells goes "off the chart" because he feels like it, but then during weeks like this week, he mocks reporters who criticize him, acting as though he is a servant of the chart.

Get rid of the damned chart and think for yourself, coach. That's why you get paid the big bucks.

Posted by Observer at 07:29 PM | Comments (1)

September 25, 2005

Whatever Works

Another week, another crazy game. Last week, Washington drove a stake through the Cowboys' heart with two long TD's at the end of the game. This week, it was looking pretty bad at the beginning, especially after SF completed a 90-yard TD pass, again beating the same cornerback who got beat last week (twice). I'm sure the SF fans are wondering why not just throw deep the whole damned game? I'm wondering that, too.

For whatever reason, though, they never really tried that long throw again (maybe it was covered, but hell, you still throw it a few more times, don't you?). Not even in the last set of downs, when I was just *sure* that's what we'd see again. Nope, SF instead dinked and dunked and threw an interception. Cowboys win. Not only did they get a 90-yard-TD pass, they also returned an interception for a TD. Plus, thanks to a missed PAT and really stupid decision to go for two early in the game (which failed, of course), the Cowboys were down 21-6 at one point and 24-12 at the half.

The teams then traded touchdowns, and then the Cowboys got two more touchdowns, rolling right through a really pathetic SF defense. Last week, the Cowboys led all the way up until about a minute to go and lost. This week, the Cowboys trailed all the way up until about two minutes to go and won. I guess that's what makes it fun.

Another nice thing about the Cowboys this season is that Bledsoe is acting like a legitimate QB (which we haven't seen here since Troy left). He's not great, but he's very good, so far. So it makes the offense fun to watch (instead of last season when you knew it was a guaranteed loss if they other team scored more than 20).

Another positive sign is that the Cowboys made a TON of mistakes today. Going for it twice on fourth down when there wasn't really a need to (failed once). Going for two when they didn't need to, going for one when they needed two. Some poor clock management at the end. Hell, they were lucky their last drive ended in a TD because they didn't leave themselves enough time for another possession. Stupid to do that when you're on your own end of the field, I think.

Anyway, the positive thing is that they won in spite of that. Last year, this team had to play just about perfect to win. This year, we have some margin for error. Every game so far has come down to the last possession for the other team. Twice we've stopped them, and once they scored. I don't think the Eagles are going to let us stay that close when we beat them.

That reminds me, this SF team that we really almost lost to (and probably should have lost to) also lost to Philly last week, 42-3. That's bad.

Posted by Observer at 06:55 PM | Comments (1)

September 24, 2005

Firefly

Ok, we finally finished the DVD set of "Firefly" tonight. It was a good series, and I'd be glad to watch more of it. I can see from previews of "Serenity" what the future holds. I don't know that we like it enough to go through the whole movie-watching process (which involves the expense of babysitting, among other complications), so we'll probably wait for the DVD. I wonder if the series will return now?

I think I might take this opportunity to cancel Netflix for a while. We've gone through all the hard-to-find stuff that I really want to see. TV series are probably easier for us to watch on the DVR than movies. It's so rare that we have a solid block of time at night to watch a movie when there's nothing else to do. I've lined up "The West Wing", which I've never seen but really want to, but I can get that at the local library if I really want.

Posted by Observer at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2005

Near Miss

Looks like we'll get little, if any, of the effects from the hurricane. Maybe some clouds and cooling, which will help, but not much rain. I feel sorry for the people who evacuated from near Houston. They spent 20+ hours sitting on the outgoing highways in record heat for what looks like pretty much nothing because Houston will just get the equivalent of a bad thunderstorm, certainly not anything to evacuate over. I don't know about the people close to the water. They'll be on the west side of the eye when it hits land, so I don't think the storm surge will be that bad for them.

By the way, the levees in New Orleans broke again today. I've seen it reported on the web, on CNN, on MSNBC, on the Weather Channel and in several blogs. Someone better be sure to tell FEMA so that they know what the hell is going on. I hope the hurricane doesn't distract people too much from Cindy Sheehan's big rally in D. C. against the war.

I think Iraq is permanently shoved to the back burner at this point from hurricanes or missing white women or whatever the story of the day is. Everyone is against it, but the media just won't talk about it. It's going to take some enormous catastrophe or morale-sapping event over there, the equivalent of the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, to really convince people we should just get the hell out of there. At some point, I'd at least like the media to address the fact that we're building all these permanent bases there, which is just so depressingly stupid. They might as well paint the walls with big concentric red circles.

Posted by Observer at 09:00 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2005

Happy Family

You think Survivor players would realize after a while that some things always happen and make them look dumb later, but history keeps repeating itself. Every show, someone (often more than one person) gets singled out for not doing enough around camp. Now the poor, sick guy Blake obviously can't help it, but he would've been voted out, no doubt, had his tribe gone to council. In the losing tribe this time, one bowhead was loafing around and got blindsided at tribal council (after talking about how much everyone was being honest with each other, of course).

The other thing that happens most of the time is that the tribe spends a lot of time at the beginning talking about how they're one big, happy family. We all love each other, blah blah blah, but the mechanics of the game just don't allow that. In Palau, the Koror tribe got away with that stuff for a long time because they won all the immunity challenge, and it just made the backstabbing that much more fun to watch at the end because they had time to make it so much more personal.

This was the episode in which Danni outed Gary for being an NFL quarterback. The more I think about it, though, the more I wonder if it is really that big of a deal. I guess at the end, when people are decided who gets the million bucks, they would consider that. Still, it seems really awkward for Gary to have to deny it, especially with Danni sounding so sure of herself. And I still don't know how she can be just so dead-on sure. The guy played 15 years ago and was mostly a backup for a team she didn't even cover, and she knows him by sight, not even spending time in the same tribe with him? Makes me wonder if she was given hints in this direction before the game started.

Posted by Observer at 10:14 PM | Comments (0)

September 21, 2005

Dark Tower So Far...

Now that the last book is out in hardback (at the library), I decided to finally start reading "The Dark Tower" series by Steven King. I'm getting into the fourth book now. The first book was ok, an interesting short story expanded to novel length. Felt like a mix of a western, a fantasy and a horror novel. Some of the elements that I liked from "Eyes of the Dragon" were there, but it was only ok.

The second book starts off very confusingly. These weird lobster creatures start attacking the main character, and it seems like the whole thing was eminently avoidable, just a plot device. Then the book takes a turn for the maybe worse and maybe better, because King starts mixing in the real world (and the alternate worlds of some of his novels) via portals, turning it from an epic fantasy into more of a gritty fictional novel that King is more familiar with. I didn't really expect that, but maybe it'll work out ok. The new characters brought in are a little cartoonish, but maybe they'll develop into something more likeable over time.

In the third book, King falls back on one of his favorite themes, Decrepit Technology Gone Bad. Starting with a giant cyborg bear on a killing rampage and ending with a split-personality psychotic computer capable of killing pretty much everyone in a ruined old metropolis. I liked this book better, but so far, I haven't been just turning the pages like with a few of my other favorites by King. I hope the series improves.

Posted by Observer at 09:46 PM | Comments (1)

September 20, 2005

Names and Things

With Hurricane Rita now approaching, I feel sorry for people on the coast, but if any of it passes over us inland, it will be the first significant rain we've seen in what feels like about six months. We're way below average for the year, and the yard looks like hell because I'm only watering enough to keep the grass alive, not for it to really thrive. So I say let's have the rain, and with luck, it won't be too strong when it hits, just very wet.

I was avoiding productive work today by looking up information about hurricane names and so on. Pretty neat stuff. It reminds me again that we have to start thinking of names for the baby that's coming in May 2006!

Posted by Observer at 01:17 PM | Comments (2)

Agony of Defeat

Oh, that was painful. Up 13-0 with about four minutes to go, and we let the Redskins through a frigging post for a touchdown on fourth and forever. And to make it worse, the very next series, another long bomb to the same guy, and how the hell do you let that guy get behind you again? Very demoralizing. It erases the great win last week at San Diego. On the bright side, they played ok, they didn't get embarrassed or anything, and if this loss makes the difference between playoffs or no playoffs, then they don't belong in the playoffs anyway.

The worst part was having to watch that little Danny Snyder troll jump up and down in his luxury box because he finally won in Dallas. Now he's something like 2-9 against us, and both of those 2 wins for him were bitter, bitter pills to swallow. I sure hope they start pulling Roy Williams up into kind of a linebacker and let some guy who can cover back there at safety when we're in prevent defense. Roy's a tremendous playmaker, but he can't cover the deep ball well, as he showed many times last year as well as last night.

Posted by Observer at 07:07 AM | Comments (3)

September 19, 2005

Representation

Atrios asks a question I've been thinking about for quite a while. Given how unpopular the war is now and how a majority of Americans think it was a mistake in the first place (and a majority of Americans were against it in the first place, going in without UN support and all), why is the anti-war opinion so completely unrepresented in the media?

When Cindy Sheehan holds her rallies, where are the major politicians? Where are the senators? Why are people so afraid to speak up against the war in Iraq? Hell, if they're worried about the "support the troops" charge, they can get behind Iraq Veterans Against the War. I wonder what the tipping point will be, the point at which it will finally be acceptable to say what most people already think about this stupid war?

Who will be the first to say the emperor has no clothes?

Posted by Observer at 10:50 PM | Comments (4)

September 18, 2005

Our Goalie

C*dy had a very good day yesterday. He's had a busy weekend lined up for a long time, but I guess he put it all together yesterday and realized how great it was. First, he played goalie for his soccer team. He had pestered to play goalie all last year, but coach didn't want to put him in because we had more experienced kids to do it, and C*dy is pretty small for his age. This season, though, coach decided to give it a try, and C*dy did so well in practice that coach has put C*dy in goal for both of the first two games.

Well, the first game was a tough one for him because he wasn't feeling well. He played in goal all right, but he was kind of bored because the action was in the other end of the field for most of the game. He was also a little bummed because he knows that he can earn five bucks per goal if he scores, and he won't get a chance to score from in goal. This game, he complained about that a bit, but coach put him in goal again.

Well, C*dy didn't do much in the first half. He allowed an unspectacular goal but wasn't really tested otherwise. In the 2nd half, he was bummed at first but then excited because he saw a lot of action. He made at least two really good saves, one a really brave one because he had to run right at a kid who was breaking away from the pack. C*dy made a diving save, blocking a very hard shot backwards, and on another one, he smothered a low fast roller that looked to be heading for the corner of the net.

So after the game, I told C*dy that in my opinion, a big save was worth as much as a goal, so I figured I owed him ten bucks. He was pumped. Then I reminded him that after the game, we were going to be dropping him off at his best friend's house for a sleepover, to be followed by a birthday party the following day, and then after that, we'd go up to his grandma's house for hamburgers on the grill. The whole time, he was getting more and more excited, and he finally blurted out, "This is the BEST DAY OF MY LIFE!"

Well, it was, but crap I'm tired. Lots of driving this weekend and running around to various things without enough sleep. Looking forward to work tomorrow so I can get a rest. Heh.

Posted by Observer at 09:07 PM | Comments (2)

September 17, 2005

More of the Same

As Atrios points out, I'm not sure why anyone in the media is willing to give the Boy King's goons the benefit of the doubt. They've put frikkin' Karl Rove in charge of spending $200+ billion to clean up and rebuild New Orleans. The short version is that they'll line up contractors, making sure that every single one of them has contributed at least X amount to Republicans over the last 10 years (and zero to Democrats), just like they do with lobbyists and their staffs on K Street.

They'll ask these contractors to bid on a job. They contractor will, for example, bid $10 million, and they'll award the bid for $15 million with a tacit agreement that $4 million of that will go to Republican campaign coffers and the other $1 million as a kickback. There will be no investigation as long as both houses are controlled by Republicans and any agency staffed by the executive branch is filled with partisan hacks in all the right places. Campaign money will ensure that continues, and so we're screwed until Democrats win at least one major election (assuming it is held fairly and counted accurately by Republican-controlled Diebold).

Krugman puts it a little more eloquently than I do:

Now it begins: America's biggest relief and recovery program since the New Deal. And the omens aren't good.

It's a given that the Bush administration, which tried to turn Iraq into a laboratory for conservative economic policies, will try the same thing on the Gulf Coast. The Heritage Foundation, which has surely been helping Karl Rove develop the administration's recovery plan, has already published a manifesto on post-Katrina policy. It calls for waivers on environmental rules, the elimination of capital gains taxes and the private ownership of public school buildings in the disaster areas. And if any of the people killed by Katrina, most of them poor, had a net worth of more than $1.5 million, Heritage wants to exempt their heirs from the estate tax.

Still, even conservatives admit that deregulation, tax cuts and privatization won't be enough. Recovery will require a lot of federal spending. And aside from the effect on the deficit - we're about to see the spectacle of tax cuts in the face of both a war and a huge reconstruction effort - this raises another question: how can discretionary government spending take place on that scale without creating equally large-scale corruption?

It's possible to spend large sums honestly, as Franklin D. Roosevelt demonstrated in the 1930's. F.D.R. presided over a huge expansion of federal spending, including a lot of discretionary spending by the Works Progress Administration. Yet the image of public relief, widely regarded as corrupt before the New Deal, actually improved markedly.

How did that happen? The answer is that the New Deal made almost a fetish out of policing its own programs against potential corruption. In particular, F.D.R. created a powerful "division of progress investigation" to look into complaints of malfeasance in the W.P.A. That division proved so effective that a later Congressional investigation couldn't find a single serious irregularity it had missed.

This commitment to honest government wasn't a sign of Roosevelt's personal virtue; it reflected a political imperative. F.D.R.'s mission in office was to show that government activism works. To maintain that mission's credibility, he needed to keep his administration's record clean.

But George W. Bush isn't F.D.R. Indeed, in crucial respects he's the anti-F.D.R.

President Bush subscribes to a political philosophy that opposes government activism - that's why he has tried to downsize and privatize programs wherever he can. (He still hopes to privatize Social Security, F.D.R.'s biggest legacy.) So even his policy failures don't bother his strongest supporters: many conservatives view the inept response to Katrina as a vindication of their lack of faith in government, rather than as a reason to reconsider their faith in Mr. Bush.

And to date the Bush administration, which has no stake in showing that good government is possible, has been averse to investigating itself. On the contrary, it has consistently stonewalled corruption investigations and punished its own investigators if they try to do their jobs.

That's why Mr. Bush's promise last night that he will have "a team of inspectors general reviewing all expenditures" rings hollow. Whoever these inspectors general are, they'll be mindful of the fate of Bunnatine Greenhouse, a highly regarded auditor at the Army Corps of Engineers who suddenly got poor performance reviews after she raised questions about Halliburton's contracts in Iraq. She was demoted late last month.

Turning the funds over to state and local governments isn't the answer, either. F.D.R. actually made a point of taking control away from local politicians; then as now, patronage played a big role in local politics.

And our sympathy for the people of Mississippi and Louisiana shouldn't blind us to the realities of their states' political cultures. Last year the newsletter Corporate Crime Reporter ranked the states according to the number of federal public-corruption convictions per capita. Mississippi came in first, and Louisiana came in third.

Is there any way Mr. Bush could ensure an honest recovery program? Yes - he could insulate decisions about reconstruction spending from politics by placing them in the hands of an autonomous agency headed by a political independent, or, if no such person can be found, a Democrat (as a sign of good faith).

He didn't do that last night, and probably won't. There's every reason to believe the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast, like the failed reconstruction of Iraq, will be deeply marred by cronyism and corruption.

Yeah, they win no matter what. If the reconstruction proceeds incompetently, it will be used by fuckwits as an indictment of government in general rather than this administration in particular.

And the media? Don't make me laugh. Fuck, I hate watching America go down the toilet, especially at the hands of people who cynically wrap themselves in the flag at every opportunity.

Posted by Observer at 11:01 AM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2005

New Season

I'm happy to see that a new season of "Survivor" started last night, this one set among the Mayan ruins in Guatemala. Gary Hogeboom is in this one, the Cowboy backup quarterback from the teams of the 80's mainly (he backed up DWI a lot). DWI = Danny White: Interception! He's concealing his identity, though, and pretending to be a landscaper because he figures (probably correctly) that if anyone found out he used to be a pro athlete, they wouldn't want him winning a million bucks.

From what I'm read, though, a contestant from another tribe is named Danni, and the show listed her as a sports talk radio host. Apparently, in a later episode, she recognizes Hogeboom and asks him about his identity, and I don't know if he lies convincingly enough. That should be fun. How anyone could recognize Gary Hogeboom on sight is beyond me, but anyway...

The first show was ok. They brought back Bobby Jon and Steph from last season, the last two members of the tribe that never won a challenge. They put them each on separate teams so they guaranteed a happy ending to the episode, because at least one of them will have won an immunity challenge for the first time (well, Steph won the final challenge to build fire between her and Bobby Jon, but don't worry about that). It opened with an 11-mile race that required them to spend the night in the jungle, and the winning team got the better campsite for throwing up and suffering from the aftereffects of the race.

Bobby Jon's team won, but poor BJ was one of the lamest members of the team. And then in the immunity challenge, Steph's team won, so for the first time, she didn't have to attend a tribal council. BJ's team might have voted him off but for the fact that their oldest member got hurt pretty bad during the immunity challenge, so he was voted off unanimously. Like all initial shows, there are too many people and too much happening to get a handle on the personalities of any of the contestants. The only guy who really stood out to me was the annoying New York doorman who Jeff Probst made fun of at tribal council. Gary acquitted himself well, sort of becoming a natural co-leader with Steph for their tribe. If given the chance, maybe he could become the next Tom, who won last time.

Posted by Observer at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)

September 15, 2005

Rebuild?

Maybe this is heartless, but the rational scientist-person in me is kind of in agreement with the right-wing nutballs on this one: maybe we shouldn't go to all the trouble to rebuild New Orleans, after all. I mean, I'm all for rebuilding an equivalent city, maybe somewhere upstream or nearby, if that's possible (where I part with the nutballs, who would just as soon let all those poor blacks fend for themselves or die or whatever because who cares they aren't human beings or anything). But the actual site of the city seems pretty bad.

I've read that not only is it below sea level, but it is sinking. Unless proper environmental precautions are taken and strict wetlands preservation enforced, the situation will only get much, much worse, and in this day and age, who seriously thinks environmentalists will get anywhere on anything? The levees could protect it, if built and reinforced properly, like the Dutch do, but how much is the sea level going to rise during the next 100 years? It seems to me there's a decent chance (maybe 10%) that it will be more than a couple of meters, and how would that factor in to things? And what if hurricanes really do get worse over time as the ocean waters warm up?

And the toxicity of the place is just horrific, it sounds like. The sludge left behind by the receding water is going to turn the whole city into a brownfield/toxic waste dump. And do you think good old Halliburton et al is going to do a credible job of cleaning up if they can fake it and turn a bigger profit? Come on. I sure as hell wouldn't want to live there after it's cleaned up. Maybe visit, sure, but I wouldn't expose myself to that environment, long term.

They're pumping all of the polluted water out of the city into the gigantic Lake Pontchartrain, and I can't imagine the bill to clean THAT up. It'll be a wonder if there's a fish alive in that place a year from now (certainly not one I'd want to eat). Maybe I'm wrong (wouldn't be the first time) and a heartless prick, but would it be unreasonable to try to reconstruct a semblance of the city somwhere 50 miles away on better land with better planning and just leave a port facility at the old site?

It'll never happen, of course. Republican or Democrat, no one would dare suggest abandoning a city. So we'll spend the 200+ billion on rebuilding the mess rather than trying a fresh start somewhere else, and once again just like with the war, the rich will be asked to share in the sacrifice by accepting more tax cuts while the poor will see services further cut, their children born further into debt because the Boy King must think the Second Coming is upon us or something and we don't have to worry about paying off our debts.

Posted by Observer at 09:10 PM | Comments (3)

September 14, 2005

Rate 'Em

One of my older students came in this morning to ask some questions about my class, and he said that he took my class because I had high ratings. I asked how he knew what my ratings were, and he directed me to Rate My Professors and I killed half an hour looking up my ratings and the ratings of my colleagues. After the first few, I decided to guess what the ratings would be based on my personal knowledge and how I've seen them interact with me and others, and I was within a fraction of a point every time (in other words, everyone hates the same people I think are jerks).

Posted by Observer at 09:56 AM | Comments (4)

September 13, 2005

Wakefield He Ain't

With Texas well out of it now, I'm expecting their usual September two-week run. You know, the one where they win like 12 out of 14, and everyone starts talking about what a great sign this is for next year, about how this club will fight to the end, etc. You'd think after about the 10th such run, the media would be a little wiser, but I guess pessimism doesn't sell papers.

Tonight, I've tuned in briefly because I heard that R. A. Dickey is pitching. This guy looked like a decent starter at one point. He had a few real gems but way too much crap thrown in. He's bounced up and down between the big league club and the minors for a couple of years now, and so it is time for him to either stick or not. In an effort to bring something new and different, he has spent much of this year trying to develop a knuckleball in the minors.

Well, I've seen his knuckleball, and all it looks like is a slower-than-usual curveball. It doesn't look unpredictable and crazy like Wakefield's knuckler. I'm rooting for the guy, though. It would sure be nice for Texas to have a knuckleballer in the mix, if he's decent. He can eat up innings, pitch whenever and not have to worry about rag-arm, and he screws up the timing of the other hitters and makes your other pitchers look better. At least, that's the theory.

Posted by Observer at 07:38 PM | Comments (1)

September 12, 2005

Ist!

So I've been reading some more in-depth strategy guides about Diablo 2 ladder play. My Barbarian is up to level 80 and could probably get through the first three acts if I felt like going that far. But for now I'm pausing about halfway through the 2nd act to focus on finding goodies.

One thing I've learned through reading and experience is that the kind of character I've chosen to play (a Frenzy Barbarian) is heavily reliant on equipment (unlike, say, a Cold Sorceress or a Blessed Hammer Paladin). I've got a couple of good bashers. They're good enough that I've upgraded away from owning two Aldur's Rhythm weapons, one of which I'll take back if I ever find Aldur's Advance boots to complement and get a partial set bonus from, but my armor still stinks. I've found virtually nothing useful with high defense.

I have a ton of perfect topaz gems now but no good armor to put them in. Still looking for one of those four-socket dusk shrouds or something both for myself and my helper. I'm also looking for enough runes to build the "Wealth" armor. I need Lem, Ko and Tir. Lem and Ko are mid-level runes and so very rare. I have at least one of every rune around them on the level chart. The highest level rune I've run across so far was an Ist, a very important magic-find rune for weapons. My old record for open (non-ladder) play was an Um, and that was in years of playing (there are 11 runes out of 34 that are higher level than Um).

I was doing Tower runs for runes (the final boss there always drops a rune, but it is almost always a crappy one), but it was taking too long. My character isn't strong enough to run through the levels quickly and kill everything necessary, not without better equipment. So my strategy for finding good stuff, including rare sets like the Immortal King's set, is to follow the advice of the item hounds who have gone before me. Apparently, there are three little areas in the first two acts in which you can potentially find any item in the game.

These areas are the Pit (in the Tamoe Highlands), the Mausoleum (in the Burial Grounds) and the Ancient Tunnels (in the Lost City). Don't know why those areas are designed as such high-level areas, but they are, and that's where everyone goes (in Hell) to hunt for good unique items and set items. They're easier than the high level areas in acts 4 and 5. Each area has dense packs of bosses and champions, who can drop the good stuff. And they're pretty good xp. Besides which, I found my Ist there, which by level is the equivalent of the sum total of all of the other runes I've found in the game (you can combine lower level runes into higher level in ladder games, well beyond what you can do in open games).

Posted by Observer at 05:39 PM | Comments (3)

September 11, 2005

So It Begins

First, a brief moment of silence in memory of the swagger with which the TCU football team was walking around campus. After going to Norman and beating Oklahoma, TCU coughs up a hairball against the Ponies of SMU, 21-10. Oof.

Now, Cowboys. Wow, that first game was not only great because we won on the road against a quality San Diego team, 28-24, it was just a really good game period. The Cowboys scored 4 TD's, and Bledsoe looked great, throwing for three TD's and no interceptions. San Diego still had to do some stupid stuff to lose, including 4 or 5 really dumb penalties that either kept Dallas drives alive or killed their own drives. Dallas had dumb penalties, too, but they bunched them all up on one failed drive in the fourth quarter (holding, false start, false start, holding, holding on five consecutive plays).

The coverage was very good, especially considering the quality of the opponent, and that's a big change from last year. The defensive line got some good pressure, again considering the quality of the opponent (having allowed so few sacks last season). The defense also bottled up LaDainian Tomlinson, which I didn't think they could do. He still got first downs twice on draw plays on third and long, which drove me bananas. Julius Jones was good enough for Dallas with flashes of brilliance.

The Cowboys have a lot of rookies this season who are good, and it's about time we had a friggin' decent draft. Parcells and the whole coaching staff seems more fired up because they're so excited about all the young talent, and it is infecting the whole team. For the first time since the early nineties, I've had a feeling since the beginning of training camp that I'm looking at a hungry, young team that could go far. I don't think this first game is a fluke. They could've lost, and I still would've been happy with the quality of their play.

I don't know if this team is going to peak with a first or second-round exit from the playoffs or go further. After all, even if they improve by 100% over last season, that still leaves them a few miles behind the Eagles in my estimation. But I sense that this will be a very fun season to watch partly because of anticipation for the next few seasons to follow. I hope they don't cough it up next Monday night and cause a huge letdown.

Posted by Observer at 06:26 PM | Comments (3)

September 10, 2005

From Their Cold, Dead Hands?

Call me crazy, but I find it just a tiny bit ironic that it is now apparently the NRA-friendly federal government's policy to confiscate legally registered weapons from gun owners in New Orleans. This applies to everyone in New Orleans except of course for the authorities and, err, rich people:

No civilians in New Orleans will be allowed to carry pistols, shotguns or other firearms, said P. Edwin Compass III, the superintendent of police. "Only law enforcement are allowed to have weapons," he said.

But that order apparently does not apply to hundreds of security guards hired by businesses and some wealthy individuals to protect property. The guards, employees of private security companies like Blackwater, openly carry M-16's and other assault rifles. Mr. Compass said that he was aware of the private guards, but that the police had no plans to make them give up their weapons.

Huh. What a shocker.

Is the NRA upset about this at all or are they staying out of this fight? I thought Gore and Kerry were supposed to be the ones who were going to confiscate all of the weapons. I guess it's ok if they just confiscate the weapons of the poor or minorities.

Posted by Observer at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)

September 09, 2005

Wimmi!

We had a little heartbreak tonight. The YMCA nearby has recently opened a neat little waterpark, and our 2-year-old has an absolute blast there in the kiddie section. There's a big frog slide and a water fountain plaza and just all kinds of great stuff for him. But it is getting late enough in the year that the days are shorter and the water is colder, so they're starting to cut back the hours before closing it for the season in a few more weeks.

But we didn't know that. So during supper, I told the kids I would take them, and little D*niel got very very excited. He started yelling "Wimmi!!", which means "Swimming!" to him, just without the first and last two letters. C*dy loves to swim, too, so he was encouraging the whole thing. Normally, as we get closer, D*niel gets more and more excited so that by the time I take him out of the van to carry him into the waterpark, he is literally shaking.

We got there about 2 minutes before it closed, thinking we had an hour and 2 minutes. Needless to say, D*niel got a huge pout on his face. He didn't have a tantrum, but he was very very disappointed. We brought him home and tried to encourage him to have fun in our little kiddie wading pool in the backyard, but he just stood at the back of the yard shaking his head "no!" and pointing off to the distant swimming park that we had to leave.

Finally, C*dy went out and played with him, helping him use the hose to fill up the pool and splash water everywhere, but it was sure a crappy consolation prize. Good thing we have such a trooper. I hope the next one is as good and as fun as this one.

For those of you who don't read my wife's blog, we've been trying to get pregnant for a couple of months now (apparently, we're really good at it, and we definitely count our blessings on that score, because each time we've tried we've gotten pregnant within a few months). Our first test came back positive on Labor Day, so we have another one due in mid-May 2006. M*chelle has said she doesn't want to know the sex of this one, but I do! So maybe I'll be able to sneak a peak at one of the sonograms and figure it out. We'll see.

Posted by Observer at 08:28 PM | Comments (3)

September 08, 2005

Just a Thought

Suppose the Governor of Louisiana had been on a vacation and purposely stayed away from the state and did nothing about the hurricane until 2 days after it struck. Do you suppose Republicans would consider it fair to criticize her for dereliction of duty? Do you suppose they would question her competence to lead her state?

Why is the "liberal" media so reluctant to simply, baldly question the competence of George W Bush? I mean, really question and demand an answer.

The same liberal media printed a story a few days ago stating as fact that the Governor of Louisiana didn't act in a timely fashion (I linked to this story yesterday, see below). The source was an anonymous senior White House official. First of all, why wasn't this assertion of fact checked? Second, why don't we have a rule: if an anonymous source lies to you, you burn the source.

Posted by Observer at 09:16 PM | Comments (1)

September 07, 2005

Muddy Waters

Why am I not surprised? Republicans are absolutely soulless professionals when it comes to muddying the waters. The mission this time is to deflect the blame from Bush to state and local officials.

Problem is, none of the facts support their argument. But so what? All they have to do is assert over and over that Blanco prevented federal assistance from coming to Louisiana because she didn't think the hurricane was that big of a deal or something, and so it is her fault that Bush, who was chomping at the bit to act from his vacation in Crawford, didn't get a chance to save all those poor black people.

It's just barely at the edge of plausibility, and it is sadly all they need. Know-nothings can now cover their ears, say they're tired of all the partisan politics, declare a pox on both houses, and go back to burying their heads in the sand.

I was listening to the radio this morning, and I swear to God, one of the hosts said (slightly paraphrased from memory):

I've gotten emails from liberals and conservatives on this. Conservatives say look at this article from the Washington Post and all these websites that say it wasn't Bush's fault, that say Louisiana governor Blanco didn't act in time, didn't even request any help until days after the hurricane hit. Liberals say, no, Blanco acted before the hurricane and did all that she could, and the liberals provide all these links to official documents like her actual request on state letterhead, the federal response on White House letterhead, and all that. SO WHICH SIDE AM I SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE? Sheesh!

He was serious. He honestly didn't know which to believe. Of course, this is partly an act because this guy tries really hard not to be political, to be Mr. Too Cool and Cynical for Politics. I sent the guy an email begging him to never accept a jury duty assignment. It was jurors like him who let OJ get off because after all, both sides had such reasonable points, they just couldn't figure out who was right!

When the White House says with a big pout that they wish those mean old liberals wouldn't go around playing the "blame game" while they're trying to help victims of a tragedy, they are targetting sheep like this guy. This guy thinks politics is a big game, that everyone is as cynical and ignorant as he is, and thinking like that means we all lose.

Posted by Observer at 07:26 PM | Comments (2)

September 06, 2005

Timeline

Kos has put together a funny photo timeline of the disaster and the Boy King's response. Priceless.

Posted by Observer at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

What Leaders Do

One baseless complaint I see from the ConservaBorg and a lot of Fake Democrats is that the Democratic Party just doesn't have any ideas. All they ever do is say no, obstruct, etc.

So it is helpful on occasion to point out where the Democrats are doing a good job of proposing things, even though I fully expect the media to ignore this like they do everything else Democrats in Congress try to do (which is why people think Democrats never propose or do anything). Here is the latest proposal by Senate Democrats on what we as a nation need to do right now to recover from the New Orleans catastrophe. And here are some ideas for where to get the money from.

Where is the Republican plan? They're the ones in power. They're the ones with the staff, the resources, the money and supposedly all that leadership. Are they just that incompetent, or do they just not give a damn (i.e. Barbara Bush, who thinks evacuees should be grateful because, ha ha, they're probably better off in the Astrodome than the way they were living in New Orleans) about all those poor people/looters/blacks who should've gotten out when they got the evacuation order and were too stupid to live in a city below sea level in the first place?

What is needed right now is the equivalent of the Works Progress Administration, a government jobs programs developed to give people work and get things done during the Depression by FDR. Sadly, the philosophy of the party in power is that FDR is the enemy and everything he accomplished (including Social Security) should be undone. New Orleans can and should represent the death knell of the strangle-the-government, privatize-everything, screw-the-poor Republican philosophy.

I would think Iraq itself would be the end of the whole love affair with privatization, but because the Republicans control Congress and aren't brave enough to establish the equivalent of Harry Truman's commission to stop war profiteering (that's a Democrat leading a tough fight while a Democratic Congress was in control), there's no media coverage of the outrageous corruption over there. Simple common sense should dictate that there's going to be corruption and inefficiency in any large bureaucracy, public or private.

At least with government-run programs, you have some hope of direct accountability. We can fire the administration. How do you suppose Republicans would've reacted to the New Orleans fiasco had Kerry gone on vacation during a crisis and bungled everything? You think they would've stood by whole President Kerry blamed local officials (a story that doesn't hold water for so many reasons)? And by the way, how do you think Al Gore responded to the crisis? Predictably, exactly the opposite of Bush, which means doing concrete things to help and actively avoiding the credit to avoid the appearance of Bush-like photo ops.

Unlike people in the government, we can't fire the guys in charge of Halliburton. And don't give me any crap about the stockholders being in charge, not so much stock in these companies is owned by a few large mutual funds whose managers are typically "one of the boys", interested in maintaining the status quo, etc. The market isn't the answer to everything.

Posted by Observer at 05:25 AM | Comments (10)

September 05, 2005

A Bridge to Sell Ya

For those who say that we shouldn't go around spending hundreds of millions of dollars to shore up the levee system in New Orleans, Keith Olbermann has a bridge to sell ya, a $454 million bridge in Alaska, to be precise.

Oh, did you think the crisis was over? Think again. This is what happens when you put stupid, arrogant, family-money-rich pricks in charge of helping poor people.

Posted by Observer at 10:07 PM | Comments (0)

What Leaders Do

One baseless complaint I see from the ConservaBorg and a lot of Fake Democrats is that the Democratic Party just doesn't have any ideas. All they ever do is say no, obstruct, etc.

So it is helpful on occasion to point out where the Democrats are doing a good job of proposing things, even though I fully expect the media to ignore this like they do everything else Democrats in Congress try to do (which is why people think Democrats never propose or do anything). Here is the latest proposal by Senate Democrats on what we as a nation need to do right now to recover from the New Orleans catastrophe. And here are some ideas for where to get the money from.

Where is the Republican plan? They're the ones in power. They're the ones with the staff, the resources, the money and supposedly all that leadership. Are they just that incompetent, or do they just not give a damn (i.e. Barbara Bush, who thinks evacuees should be grateful because, ha ha, they're probably better off in the Astrodome than the way they were living in New Orleans) about all those poor people/looters/blacks who should've gotten out when they got the evacuation order and were too stupid to live in a city below sea level in the first place?

What is needed right now is the equivalent of the Works Progress Administration, a government jobs programs developed to give people work and get things done during the Depression by FDR. Sadly, the philosophy of the party in power is that FDR is the enemy and everything he accomplished (including Social Security) should be undone. New Orleans can and should represent the death knell of the strangle-the-government, privatize-everything, screw-the-poor Republican philosophy.

I would think Iraq itself would be the end of the whole love affair with privatization, but because the Republicans control Congress and aren't brave enough to establish the equivalent of Harry Truman's commission to stop war profiteering (that's a Democrat leading a tough fight while a Democratic Congress was in control), there's no media coverage of the outrageous corruption over there. Simple common sense should dictate that there's going to be corruption and inefficiency in any large bureaucracy, public or private.

At least with government-run programs, you have some hope of direct accountability. We can fire the administration. How do you suppose Republicans would've reacted to the New Orleans fiasco had Kerry gone on vacation during a crisis and bungled everything? You think they would've stood by whole President Kerry blamed local officials (a story that doesn't hold water for so many reasons)? And by the way, how do you think Al Gore responded to the crisis? Predictably, exactly the opposite of Bush, which means doing concrete things to help and actively avoiding the credit to avoid the appearance of Bush-like photo ops.

Unlike people in the government, we can't fire the guys in charge of Halliburton. And don't give me any crap about the stockholders being in charge, not so much stock in these companies is owned by a few large mutual funds whose managers are typically "one of the boys", interested in maintaining the status quo, etc. The market isn't the answer to everything.

Posted by Observer at 04:50 PM | Comments (0)

Fighting for the Fallen

This is in response to a comment on an old entry, but it got too long for comments. Here's the first part of what I'm responding to:

I just want to start out by saying that I am a member of the democratic party. I have also studied foreign and domestic policy making in college so I know how the system works. I have to say this site makes me sick! You are attempting to fuel a divided nation that does not require any more fuel. What it requires is unity for the troops and the countries sake!

What's the deal with people who write comments or letters to the editor who claim to be lifelong "Democrats" and yet they're disgusted by the behavior of liberals, or lifelong "Republicans" who are suddenly holding all of the same opinions as hardcore Democrats? Can we just stop with that bullshit, please (and I'm not referring to the joke comment from a few days ago)?

If you're a Republican, just stand up and say so. Don't try to tell me that you're a Democrat yet all of a sudden events in the last year have turned you into speaking right from the Bush administration talking points. I'm sorry, but I just don't buy it. Hell, maybe it's true. I'm not saying it is impossible, but no one here knows who the hell you are, so don't expect to be taken seriously when you start with that kind of horseshit.

Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, I also got a minor in college in American History, with a focus on recent American foreign and domestic policy since World War II. I've also read dozens of books on the topic and keep myself informed on a regular basis. I've been doing this for about 20 years now. So I *ALSO* know how the fucking system works.

With that said, liberals like me are not the ones with the majority of the responsibility for the divisions within this nation. When it comes to race and class, you can lay those divisions at the doorstep of Republicans, who do little else but fight the class war by fucking over poor people (obviously, there are individual, principled exceptions to every rule, such as some pro-life very charitable people) since the inception of the Southern Strategy in the 60's. And they continue with more politically correct code, like the whole Bell Curve fiasco, anti-affirmative action, etc.

Republicans love to talk about how unfair all these breaks are that we give to blacks, like welfare, unemployment, affirmative action, etc. Well, if they think blacks have it made, then surely deep down in their heart of hearts, they'd be more than eager to switch identities with some family from the projects on the government dole. Sorry, I don't think so.

As for other divisions, Bush is the one who took the political clout and unity we all displayed after 9/11 and decided to spend it on tax cuts and a pointless war in Iraq. Bush could've taken that unity and started freeing us from our dependence on foreign oil. He could've taken that unity and done a proper job in Afghanistan. He could've taken that unity and the unity of other nations in the world and made some real progress in non-proliferation with countries like Pakistan, Iran and North Korea. In short, he could've been a real leader, a leader America deserves. Instead, he stuck to the properties that got him elected in the first place, a folksy grin, a well-oiled media machine, and a disdain for "elite" (i.e. those with book-learnin'), a facade that covers up a small, shrill, divisive, partisan fuckwit.

As for the war, you are just repeating the most recent Bush talking point:

"Many great men have died in Iraq and Afganistan for that reason alone it requires our nation to stick with its current course of action to setup and stablize these countries governments. In order to vindicate these fallen soldiers and make sure they did not die in vain."

This idea that we have to keep fighting in order to justify the sacrifice of the people who have already died. By that logic, every war will be endless. It is absurd on the face of it.

No. You have to accept the idea that sometimes our soldiers die because our leaders have failed them, and the only way to minimize the harm is to end the war as quickly as possible. Just because a valiant soldier has died, that doesn't suddenly turn Iraq into some noble cause. There was no noble cause to begin with, and that's why those of us on my side argued against this war in Iraq in the first place.

And by the way, don't waste my time conflating the war in Iraq with the war in Afghanistan. If you don't recognize the difference between those two conflicts, then your opinions simply aren't worth my time.

Posted by Observer at 03:02 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2005

Delays

Remember when Clinton supposedly held up traffic to get a haircut on Air Force One. Not only was it a complete myth, as I've documented before, but the wingnut outrage was so thick you could cut it with a knife.

But when the Boy King holds up relief efforts to get his photo ops in, or when he pretends they are really repairing the levee just to get his photo op in, well, I guess that's just playing politics to talk about it, and we liberals shouldn't have the gall to do that during a national crisis. Or after. Or anytime.

Posted by Observer at 07:58 AM | Comments (0)

September 03, 2005

The Buck Stops Here

Atrios and AmericaBlog have some good links on the disaster response fiasco (otherwise known to the Boy King as "Operation Photo Op"). There is so much passing of the buck, covering ass and all that, it is just a farce. In the end, though, who has primary responsibility? Not the governor, the local authorities or other scapegoats that stupid Republicans and Bush-cronies working at FEMA are trying to target. Nope, it is none other than the DHS:

In the event of a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other large-scale emergency, the Department of Homeland Security will assume primary responsibility on March 1st for ensuring that emergency response professionals are prepared for any situation. This will entail providing a coordinated, comprehensive federal response to any large-scale crisis and mounting a swift and effective recovery effort.

Just keep that in mind every time you see some Rove-trained retard trotted out to deflect blame from the place it so richly belongs.

Posted by Observer at 09:34 PM | Comments (0)

Dayummm

TCU 17, Oklahoma 10.

I was driving around today running errands and remembered that this game was on early, so I found it on the radio. It was 10-0, and as I was driving around, they went into halftime. I got home to watch the second half and saw Oklahoma score a quick 10 points, and I thought, "Oh crap. I guess I jinxed the Horned Frogs," but Oklahoma's QB really spit the bit. TCU scored a TD after a fumble and dodged maybe 4-5 bullets (long incomplete passes to open receivers, near-interceptions that would've been run back forever, etc).

The scary thing for Oklahoma (or maybe the good thing for TCU) is that TCU by no means played a clean, perfect game. They played pretty sloppy, made several mistakes, and still won. A huge surprise after a disappointing 5-6 season. I'm sure I wasn't alone thinking Patterson was letting Coach Fran's legacy slip away, but maybe he's finding his feet now that he was four recruiting classes of his own hand-picked guys. My bad. Good for him.

And to think people were forecasting a Texas-OU matchup in which both teams came in undefeated and ranked in the top five. Doh!

Posted by Observer at 05:19 PM | Comments (3)

September 02, 2005

Politicizing a Tragedy

First Draft points me to this great rant:

Scotty McClellan, amongst others, wants you to stop politicizing the hurricane. Or at least that’s what he says. What he really wants is for you to stop interfering with their ability to politicize the disaster. But while many of us were naive once, it’s not going to happen twice.

It might be impossible to find any large American tragedy which has been politicized more than 9/11. I don’t think one exists. After fumbling badly the first few hours, Bush talked tough, and then he came to NYC and talked tough some more from Ground Zero. The press went gaga over Bush’s “strong leadership” and Bush has ran with the image since with ongoing support from the media despite a record remarkable mainly for its level of failure.

They politicized the hell out of 9/11 at every turn. The RNC was in New York City with the singular goal of exploiting 9/11, and in the process it seemed they demanded no speaker could go more than two sentences without mentioning terrorism and/or September 11. They used it to invade Iraq. They exploited it to win reelection. They exploited it to attack Max Cleland. They used it to remove privacy protections. Today they are using it to claim everyone who has anything critical to say of the war in Iraq has forgotten about 9/11, wants the terrorists to win and probably hates America. They’re planning to exploit it in 10 days with a gala 9/11 event.

I suppose all that politicizing of 9/11 wouldn’t be quite so terrible if Bush actually was the leader he’s made out to be and had accomplished great things following 9/11. But he’s not and he hasn’t. Far from it. It’s difficult to imagine a worse performance in the war on terror than we’ve seen. After getting off to a decent start in Afghanistan, Bush did more than abandon the true war on terror when he invaded Iraq; he made it worse. A more complete failure of leadership is not easy to comprehend. Bush says things like, “If Zarqawi and bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks; they’d seize oil fields to fund their ambitions; they could recruit more terrorists by claiming an historic victory over the United States and our coalition.” I got news for you George: Iraq has already become terrorist recruiting and training grounds on a massive scale. We are not fighting to prevent that. We are fighting against what you already let happen and we will be for years. That is not leadership; that is a complete failure of leadership.

Bush’s only victory has been a PR one. Because he got off to an early start politicizing 9/11, the image of him as a strong leader willing to take on terrorists has, helped along by a willing press, carried him to a second term in office and a still inexplicable 56% approval rating of his handling of the war on terror.

Do you know how many times I have been told by some Conservative hack I have forgotten about 9/11 because I disagreed on some point about Bush? These hacks, most of whom support the war in Iraq but would never fight themselves and most of whom have never been to NYC, are telling me, a NYC native, that I have forgotten 9/11. So you’ll forgive me if this pisses me off more than usual and If I take this somewhat personally. I may not be able to do much, but I aim to do what I can to prevent George W. Bush and his Conservative boosters from doing to the people of Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama what he did to the people of New York and the rest of the country after 9/11. Namely, I will not, if I can help it, allow him to politicize the tragedy, portraying himself as some sort of savior when in fact he failed to do his duty. I will not sit back and watch as Bush goes around the nation and uses these people as political pawns, as he did New Yorkers, when the reality is he failed them.

So to any Conservative hacks out there who want me to stop “politicizing the hurricane,” I understand what you really mean is you want me to stop trying to prevent Bush and his cohorts from politicizing the hurricane. But it’s not going to happen. Bush isn’t going to be getting a free ride this time.

I'm looking forward to the big 9/11 concert sponsored by the Pentagon soon. There will be some great cartoons, I'm sure, about how we shouldn't be politicizing a tragedy.

Posted by Observer at 07:01 AM | Comments (0)

September 01, 2005

Yes, We Can Blame Bush

I hear a lot of wingnuts complaining about liberals "politicizing" the whole New Orleans affair (this from the same party that held their 2004 convention at fucking Ground Zero). Sorry, I cry bullshit. They only complain about "politicizing" things when the "politicizing" makes Republicans look bad (i.e. 9/11 Commission). And I don't see what's political about asking for causes. The right thing to do when disaster strikes (by man or nature) is to examine the causes and try to learn from our mistakes. Apparently, though, examining anything that might put the Boy King in a bad light is suddenly a "political" analysis.

A lot of liberals are bringing up the issue of Bush's culpability for the failed levees in New Orleans. Obviously, he isn't the only one to blame, but there is the small fact of him cutting off funding two years ago for a project that was specifically designed to shore up the levees that protect New Orleans (details here).

People are surprised that liberals are bringing up the fact that a lot of the National Guardsmen and other resources that could be helping in the hurricane-ravaged region are invested in Iraq. Well, isn't that a fair point? I think the "off the wall" opinion in this discussion is the one that says hurricane relief (or lack thereof) and the war in Iraq *AREN'T* related.

Whatever happened to the "accountability" administration? You know, the ones who were supposed to accept responsibility for things and lead rather than trying to squirm out of things with lame excuses and spin? Just wondering.

Anyway, here's a great cartoon with a similar point from the Kos diaries:

Posted by Observer at 01:53 PM | Comments (0)