October 31, 2005

Confirm Alito?

Maybe I'm going to need some convincing, but my gut instinct is that I'm still pissed off about the fact that the 2004 election was close enough for Republicans to steal. People were dumb enough to vote for the Boy King, and so give 'em what they deserve. I want all the fake Republican libertarians out there to argue in favor of this guy, twist themselves into knots trying to justify why he's such a great guy, then I want him confirmed.

Go ahead and gut civil rights. Practice whatever right-wing nutball judicial activism you and Scalia can work up and convince Thomas to sign it along with two others. The worse, the better. Let people get what they voted for.

Then again, it's hard to imagine the country being in much worse shape after 5 years of the Boy King's rule, and a whole lot of people still think he's just wonderful. So the rational part of me says, no, let's deny him, limit the damage to America and pray that we can turn the election tide around so that the grown ups can be back in charge.

Mostly, it's just depressing, and the media isn't doing a goddamned thing about it except having a roundtable full of Republicans from all across the spectrum, from conservative to ultra-conservative, to discuss the direction our country should be heading. I just want to say fuck the whole thing except for the fact that this is my country, too.

Posted by Observer at 12:22 PM | Comments (1)

October 30, 2005

To All of Us

Art Silber has some good perspective on the work of Patrick Fitzgerald and this idea that he is only pursuing "technicalities". Lots of good quotes from the press conference and important observations, and the ending is great:

Given the nature of our enemies today, and given the nature of the work Valerie Plame did, this compromise of national security was especially heinous, and especially damaging. And as Fitzgerald also observed, the damage "was done to all of us."

Not just Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson. All of us. Americans.

The wrongdoing with which Libby is charged has made it more difficult, if not impossible, to determine the precise nature of the original wrongdoing. In this context, one could make a colorable case that the charges against Libby are just as serious as the underlying questions -- and from one perspective, perhaps even worse: if Libby committed the acts he is charged with, those acts were committed precisely so that we would never know the truth, and precisely so that we would never know exactly how the damage was done.

In light of the stakes involved, these are charges of immense importance. Anyone who seeks to minimize them thereby declares his own utter lack of seriousness: about national security, about the nature of the battle which now engages us, and about our country's safety.

One can accurately describe those of Bush's defenders who utilize transparently dishonest arguments to minimize this case in many ways. But there is one phrase that most definitely does not apply to them: "patriotic Americans." That description can only be taken up by those who understand the nature of the indictment, and why it must be treated with the utmost gravity.

This is why I want wingnuts to keep right on making that "technicality" argument. Every day they do this, they separate themselves from true patriots. Every day, they allow ordinary, patriotic Americans to get a full taste of just how far removed the Republican party today is from what's right for America. Party trumps politics with these people every single time.

Posted by Observer at 08:00 AM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2005

What Ever Happened To...

...the genius of Coach Fran? Today's game was AT Kyle Field, btw.

Posted by Observer at 05:23 PM | Comments (0)

A New Record

According to the gummint, a record number of babies were born to unwed mothers last year. I guess this must be the fault of liberals since conservatives control all three branches of the federal government. I mean, is there any doubt if Clinton were still in office, wingnuts would be talking about this article non-stop, saying it was because he set a bad example with his behavior? It should go without saying that this statistic actually went down during Clinton's term. Oh, those pesky details.

Posted by Observer at 09:24 AM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2005

"Technicality"

There is a segment of the Republican party that really only calls themselves Republicans because they think that somehow they had to in order to distance from the dishonest, lawyering Clinton response to the Starr investigation. These are the people who like to say things like "rule of law" and "what will we tell the children" a lot. These are the people who think leaders should be held to an extremely high standard, not above the law by any means.

Every time a Republican talking head or wingnut blogger uses the word "technicality" in reference to this investigaton, they lose another sliver of these anti-Clinton Republicans. People who voted for Bush are finally waking up to the fact that this administration is no better than Clinton's in terms of obstructing justice, defying the law, etc. In fact, a few of these people are starting to realize that, in fact, this administration is a lot worse because the stakes are a whole lot higher.

Let me be the first to welcome these people back to the realm of the independents and/or the Democrats. I hope Democrats have a shot at your vote in 2006 so that we can really, truly investigate all of the other shit that has gone on in this adminstration that the Congress under Republican leadership will never investigate. We need to shine an enormous spotlight on the cockroaches in this administration. It won't be pretty, but America needs it done.

Also remember, this is just the beginning. The investigation is continuing. Starr's sorry investigation ended when he finally found a crime. It wasn't related to the investigation. The whole prosecution was run with a complete lack of integrity (Fitzgerald is showing how to do it right). And the charges were very arguable over an insignificant topic. But it was still a crime. It was still shameful.

The only reason no one has been indicted for outing Plame yet is that Fitzgerald is still trying to fight through the lies and obstruction to get to the truth. When he knows everything with confidence, the frog marches will begin, if warranted, and not before. I hope Fitzmas will be the gift that keeps on giving.

There are even some wingnuts trying to claim that because Fitzgerald didn't specifically charge Libby with violation of the IIPC (the law against outing covert operatives) that Libby must not have done anything wrong. Sadly, no. It is abundantly clear now that Valerie Wilson was a covert operative. Did Libby commit that crime? Did Rove? Did Cheney? I'm happy to leave that in the hands of the prosecutor and wait until those in a position to know all the facts decide whether they can prosecute.

These same people who will insist until they are blue in the face that what Libby did is no big deal, that nothing has been proved, that he is innocent until proven guilty, etc. will turn right around and call Clinton a "serial rapist" without batting an eyelash. Proud Americans, every one of 'em.

Posted by Observer at 02:07 PM | Comments (1)

October 27, 2005

Damn.

Miers has withdrawn. It is almost a certainty that the next nominee will be much worse (but at least more likely to be qualified). Judicial activism is ok if you're a Republican, you know. The only hope is that Bush will be petulant enough with the far-right that he'll nominate another moderate just to show them who's the boss. Finally, his childishness may work to the country's advantage. Do I hear an "Alberto", anyone?

I guess Bush decided to extricate her from the process as a form of damage control, realizing things would only get worse while she was exposed, rather than honor her sacrifices by continuing the fight. Interesting line of thought, that, but I imagine all the ecstatic wingnuts today won't even allow the Iraq parallel to cross their tiny minds.

By the way, given that Fitzmas is due today or tomorrow, is this timing much of a surprise? This administration puts politics ahead of EVERYTHING. I'm expecting more "document dump" style news out of the White House between now and Friday afternoon, hoping to release bad news all at once to soften the blow.

Putting it in perspective, however, one commenter points out:

To those that are "ambivalent" and worried about who's next.

Harriet Miers, totally incompetent and wholly unqualified, will not sit on the Supreme Court.

This is a good day for America.

Pretty sad that we have to reminded that this is good news, in a sense.

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

A Real Shame

If what former Clinton staffer Paul Begala is true, I have to say I couldn't imagine a more deserving bunch of people to have to go through this:

For President Bush and his White House staff, the worst is yet to come.  To be sure, waiting on a decision to indict is an exquisite form of torture.  But what lies ahead is worse.  If special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald does choose to indict one or more senior Bush White House officials, they will be the first top White House aides to be indicted in a decade and a half.  

This is when a White House staffer earns his pay.  The pressure of a federal criminal investigation - especially one in the media spotlight - is bone-crushing.  My guess is that the strain is taking a gruesome toll.  Already we hear rumors of President Bush exploding at his aides, at the President blaming Vice President Cheney, Karl Rove, and anyone else in sight for his woes.  

This I know first hand:  when The Boss explodes like that, there are two kinds of aides --  those who fight and those who flee.  When he came to Washington, Mr. Bush surrounded himself with tough-minded people who seemed not to be afraid to stand up to him.  But now his team is loaded with weak-kneed toadies, and Mr. Bush is home alone.  Karl Rove, of course, is fending off a potential indictment.  His prodigious brain has not entertained another thought in months.  (That's why, I suspect, some months back Rove popped off and said liberals wanted to give terrorists psychotherapy after 9/11.  It was a loopy, stupid, and distinctly un-Rovian, meltdown - the first public sign that the pressure was causing Karl to crack.)

What of the rest of Team Bush?  Karen Hughes is at the State Department, as is Condi Rice.  Al Gonzalez has decamped for Justice, and fellow Austinite Margaret Spellings is at the Department of Education.  Harriet Miers is fighting a losing battle to avoid becoming a permanent punch line.  Ari Fleischer is selling books and dispensing sage advice to corporations.  And Mary Matalin is busy raising her girls and rallying the troops from the outside.

The exodus and incapacity were inevitable;  replacing Bush's stand-up guys and gals with suck-ups and sycophants was not.  After he was re-elected, with the clouds of scandal still all `round, Bill Clinton lured John Podesta back to the White House.  Podesta, who is as tough as a bar of iron, became deputy chief of staff, and then chief of staff.  He was indispensable in maintaining the focus of both the President and his staff.  When Abner Mikva left, Clinton recruited a new White House counsel, Charles Ruff, who was strong and steady, and put together the most impressive team of lawyers ever to grace the West Wing. When Mike McCurry stepped down, he was replaced by bulldog Joe Lockhart.    Clinton also promoted Rahm Emanuel and Doug Sosnik, veteran campaigners, and convinced me to leave my beloved Austin to become Counselor to the President.  Not because I was possessed of some special wisdom or insight, but because I knew him well and was not afraid to give him bad news.

Mr. Bush would do well to augment his current staff, a C-Team if ever there was one, with some stronger characters.  But to read the Bush-Miers correspondence is to gain a disturbing insight into Mr. Bush's personality:  he likes having his ass kissed.  Ms. Miers' cards and letters to the then-Governor of Texas belong in the Brown-Nosers Hall of Fame.  You can be sure the younger and less experienced Bush White House aides are even more obsequious.  The last thing this President wants is the first thing he needs:  someone to slap his spoiled, pampered, trust-funded, plutocratic, never-worked-a-day-in-his-life cheek and make him face the reality of his foul-ups.

And so they wait.  And they sniff the royal throne.  They tell the Beloved Leader he's the victim of a partisan plot (although how the Bush CIA, which referred the Plame case for prosecution, became ground zero of Democratic liberalism escapes me).  They assure him all is well.  But all is not well.  People are looking over their shoulders.  The smart ones have stopped taking notes in meetings.  The very smart ones have stopped using email for all but the most pedestrian communications.  And the smartest ones have already obtained outside counsel.  

When a White House is under siege, no one wants to talk to anyone.  Literally, anything you say can and will be used against you.  When you're in a meeting and you see one of your colleagues taking notes, you start to wonder how long it will be before you're interrogated based on her notes.  Maybe she's doodling.  Or maybe she's digging your grave.  The mind tries to focus on the task at hand, but the grand jury is never far from your thoughts.  

Compared to these folks, I had it easy.  I'd never met Monica Lewinsky, had no knowledge of the affair, which took place when I was living in Austin, and I knew that neither I nor any of my colleagues were in Ken Starr's perverse crosshairs.  The Fitzgerald investigation is very different.  It's not about the President's extracurricular activities.  It's about the essence of how the White House works - and the suggestion that this White House has become deeply corrupt.  

If the waiting is as painful for the Bushies as I suspect it is, it's only because they know how terrible the toll will be when the truth comes out.

As for what's happening, all we can do is speculate. After all, Fitzgerald appears to be a prosecutor with some integrity, unlike Ken Starr. I only hope Mike Allen is right about what may be going on behind the scenes:

MIKE ALLEN: A lot of activity happening that we’re not seeing. A likely scenario for what happened today, Patrick Fitzgerald got some indictments from this grand jury. He is now able to go to the…

CHRIS MATTHEWS: You think they’re sealed right now?

MIKE ALLEN: Very possible. What I’m told is typically, in a case like this, he could get the indictments and now he can go to the targets and say, you can plead to these or I’ll go back Friday and get more. You have 12 to 24 hours to think about it.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: And he can give them a little Whitman Sampler of suggestions pleading to the charge of obstruction or perjury or…

MIKE ALLEN: I can add a bunch of counts. You can take a couple of counts or we can do a bunch more.

Thanks to "Hey" Judd at CAP for the transcript.

Posted by Observer at 07:11 AM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2005

Time Machine

Via Kos, imagine what it would have been like if Fox News Channel had been present during pivotal moments in history. Lots of very funny images if you follow through to the link with more. My favorite is the first caption under the image of non-violent protestors being sprayed down with firehoses: "Negroes Attack Police; Demand Special Rights."

The sad thing is how many of today's Moron Americans would've been nodding along and muttering, "Damn right!" I talk trash about Bush and the other Republican leaders, but the real cancer in the country is the people who put those clowns into office and continue to apologize for 'em. Education is really the only hope, and for most of them, it's way too late.

Posted by Observer at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

The Nightmare Before Fitzmas

...It's the latest must read Keyboard Kommando comic strip from the Rude Pundit.

Posted by Observer at 09:48 AM | Comments (2)

Fight On, Harriet

According to Bill Kristol on Monday's "Daily Show," there is a good possibility that the White House will withdraw Harriet Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court. I don't think so. After all, think of all of the angry right-wing columns about Miers. Think of all the laughs we've had at her expense over her lack of qualifications. Think of all the Senatorial ass she's had to kiss for the past three weeks. What about the latest controversy over the land her buddies on the government committee overpaid her for? Talk about embarrassing!

The only way these sacrifices will have any meaning will be for her to stay the course. It would be an insult to Harriet Miers' already battered reputation for her to be withdrawn now. No. The fight must continue in order for the fight so far to have had any meaning at all, and that's reason enough, isn't it?

We must honor her sacrifice by allowing this to continue for as long as possible.

Pretty please?

Posted by Observer at 06:59 AM | Comments (2)

October 25, 2005

Pattern Shift

In case you're wondering, it is the week before a major exam in my class, so I'm spending a lot of my free time this week answering student emails. I like to take frequent, short breaks, to keep all of the emails from swimming together and looking the same, hence the frequent, short posts. :)

Posted by Observer at 08:42 PM | Comments (0)

Book Envy

I guess some wingnuts are pissed off that Al Franken's book is climbing the charts and will likely be yet another New York Times #1 bestseller. It must suck to be on the wrong side of every argument and also have your new right-wing screed at an Amazon rank that almost requires scientific notation to concisely express.

Posted by Observer at 05:29 PM | Comments (0)

Doing Fine, Thanks

Eric Alterman reports that, despite what blowhards like Bill O'Reilly say, Air America is doing great. The ratings are continuing to rise, and in major markets, Air America is beating O'Reilly handily and catching up with Limbaugh. I don't know about our local market, but I'll bet it's not so good, just because the signal is so damned weak and there is a lot of good talk radio on besides right-wing shit on both NPR and a couple of different sports talk stations.

Air America is dominating in Portland, Oregon for some reason (I've always liked Portland, too, and not just because of Powell's books), but it doesn't seem to be doing great in Seattle, if I'm reading the latest Arbitron ratings correctly. It's hard to tell from raw data, because most of what the radio stations care about is buried in the details, like what the 25-54 age group is listening to. When I lived in Seattle, I used to listen to Bill Gallant late in the evenings on KIRO, I think, but he got pulled off the air when a right-wing outfit bought the station, if I remember correctly. Too bad, because he was pretty much the only liberal on the radio back then, and he was really well-spoken.

By the way, if you missed Jon Stewart making an ass out of Bill O'Reilly on "The Daily Show" last week, go watch and wonder how the rest of the "liberal" media misses out on making so many obvious points. My favorite part was when Jon leaned in close and said softly, "I don't know if you know this, but ... they never found any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."

It was either that or O'Reilly saying, "There's a lot of bad people out there and our job is to go after them."

Without missing a beat, Stewart smiled and said, "So when are you going to start?"

Posted by Observer at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

Apolitical

As we get closer and closer to Fitzmas, surely it isn't surprising to see right-wing talking heads coming out and talking about how biased and liberal Patrick Fitzgerald is. I remember a clip from "Meet the Press" in which RNC chief Ken Mehlman was talking about Fitzgerald over a year ago. Pumpkinhead asked Mehlman what he thought about Fitzgerald, and Mehlman said that he thinks Fitzgerald is a wonderful person, apolitical, highest integrity, etc.

Pumpkinhead then asked if Mehlman would therefore support Fitzgerald even if he came back with indictments against highly placed administration officials, and Mehlman started hemming and hawing and getting all legalistic. It was hilarious. He couldn't just lie and say "yes". He was already mentally laying the groundwork for the attacks on Fitzgerald. Fortunately, some conservatives are standing behind Fitzgerald, and it's hard not to.

I mean, compare this man's integrity against that of a hack like Ken Starr, who leaked damning crap at every opportunity and ended up prosecuting Clinton over a blowjob when he really should've been focused on, well, some land deal where no crime was ever committed in the first place. Go read Joe Conason's "The Hunting of the President" if you doubt it.

Anyway, I don't know if Fitzgerald is going to indict the whole lot of them, all the way up to Cheney, or if he'll just let 'em all off and write a report. But to this point, his conduct has been above reproach in my opinion, and his track record suggests that whatever he ends up doing will be the right thing in the eyes of the law and in the interests of our country. I'm cheering for lots of frog-marching and ducked-heads-into-police-cars, of course, because I think they deserve it for so many things, but if it all turns out to be nothing, you won't see me attacking Fitzgerald.

But if Vice President Big Time gets indicted, watch the wingnuts howl. For me, I'd be tempted to make the trip to the Naval Observatory up near Washington, D. C. That's the Vice Presidential residence. I'd love to stand outside and chant, "Get out of our house!" to Cheney, just in memory of the way the wingnuts taunted Gore after the stolen election of 2000.

Posted by Observer at 07:11 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2005

Chickenhawk-in-Chief

This is the kind of thing you get when there are bunch of cowardly chickenhawks in charge of foreign policy:

It’s pretty interesting that all the generals see it the same way, and all the others who have never fired a shot, and are hot to go to war, see it another. … We are about to do something that will ignite a fuse in this region.  [We] will rue the day we ever started.”
—Major General Anthony Zinni, (ret.) former chief of US Central Command, October 2002

Of course, according to the "liberal" media, people like Zinni can't participate in the discussion about the Iraq War today because they've been anti-war (i.e. "correct") from the very beginning. Yeah, that's right, a Major General is apparently part of the moonbat liberal peacenik movement. Tells you all you need to know about how wingnuts think, doesn't it?

Posted by Observer at 08:58 PM | Comments (0)

Pass the Popcorn

About the only emotion this conjures up for me is grim satisfaction:

Facing the darkest days of his presidency, President Bush is frustrated, sometimes angry and even bitter, his associates say.

The Boy King is having tantrums. What a pity. I pray for our country that we get Democrats in charge of either the House or the Senate in 2006 so we can investigate the holy crap out of these amoral pricks before they leave office. I also pray for the sake of our country that recent rumors of Bush hitting the bottle again are completely unfounded, but it's pretty easy to believe just about anything with this White House.

I can only imagine the mental gymnastics the wingnuts are having to perform to maintain their solid support for the perjury-is-now-ok, we-don't-worry-about-Osama, let's-build-a-big-pork-bridge-in-Alaska, gigantic-deficit, big-government, let's-confirm-incompetent-cronies Republican party. Those are some pretty fucking huge blinders, I'm tellin' ya.

Is it really possible for a sane person to believe that lies leading to preemptive war are less serious than lies about a blowjob? Honest Republicans have just got to be appalled at just how much contempt their core values are being shown and how little respect Republican talking heads have for the intellect of the rank-and-file.

What am I saying? Honest Republicans? Sorry, I guess I didn't get enough sleep last night.

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

October 23, 2005

11 for 11

And 53 of 57. That's the opposing field goal kick percentage during this season and during the entirety of Bill Parcells' tenure with Dallas. And we missed a 29 yarder while the opposing stud kicker made a 50 and a 55. Argh.

Still, it was an ok game today. The refs were pretty incompetent, and I think if Seattle had lost, they would've had a great case to make that the refs sucked. As it is, so does Dallas. As many penalties as were called, I saw a whole bunch of missed holding calls in both directions, which is becoming as maddening to me as the inconsistent strike zone in baseball. And what's with all of the picked-up flags?

I love Dallas' defense, but crap, today looked like the past three years, where the defense keeps us in the game, but the offense never scores enough or pulls ahead. What happened to the offense that scored 33 on Philly? Next week, I guess we're going to play Monday night at Philly, if I remember the schedule right. Philly won today on a miracle blocked field-goal return for a TD against luckless San Diego, and so did NY and Washington, so we went from first to last place in the division today. Hard to complain about 4-3 when we've been in a position to win all seven, I guess.

We're 3-3 in games that basically came down to the last possession, and we have one really solid win over Philadelphia. I can live with that.

Posted by Observer at 07:16 PM | Comments (1)

Close Your Eyes...

... and try to believe that Republicans are now saying things like this about the Valerie Plame investigation:

I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn’t indict on the crime so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation were not a waste of time and dollars.

This is the "law and order" party that was shouting "rule of law" and "integrity of the justice system" during blowjob-gate. By the way, this same Republican Senator, a local girl made bad, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, voted to convict Clinton on perjury charges when he was impeached.

Posted by Observer at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2005

Breakthrough

I decided to try to bust my way through the Ancients on Hell difficulty with my Hammerdin today. This is the roadblock that has ultimately stopped two of my other very advanced characters in the past. I tried a frenzy Barbarian most recently, and he didn't have the equipment to withstand their attacks. He could do good damage, but they chop his health down so quick, I can't last long enough to survice. My other Paladins have always relied on physical attacks (like Vengeance or Fanatacism) and high defense, and they weren't good there either.

It took four tries, but I finally managed to do it. Basically, I had to scatter mana and health potions all over the battleground before the battle started, then after activating them, I just alternated between using vigor and battle hammer. I would run to one corner of basically a big square and cast about 3-5 hammers, then I would run with vigor while they passed through the hammer field, trying to catch up to me. Occasionally, I would skip a hammer casting to pick up potions.

Problem with this method is that while it is possible to kill the Ancients without taking any damage, in practice, it requires perfect timing and a lot of patience. If you hit a wrong key or suffer from lag, they can knock you out in under a second when they do catch up. Finally, I managed to be careful enough for about 15 minutes that I whittled their health down to nothing, and it was quite a relief. About the only thing I fear now are Gloams and the like, who move fast, stay out of range, and kill me quickly in a crossfire of lightning. I should be able to finish Hell mode once I replenish my stock of Full Rejuv potions by running the Pit and a couple of other small areas a few more times.

Despite having the runes for "Wealth" armor, I'm still not wearing it because I haven't found any decent 3-socket armor. I would've thought I'd run across something by now, but no luck. I'm still slowly finding and collecting some of the very advanced sets. I now have two pieces of the Immortal King's set, which would be great for my barbarian. I'm also looking for Sorceress equipment since I'd like to try to run one at some point to see if I can win with another spellcaster.

Posted by Observer at 01:03 PM | Comments (0)

"We"??!?

Judith Miller says, regarding Iraq's non-existant WMD:

"W.M.D. - I got it totally wrong," she said. "The analysts, the experts and the journalists who covered them - we were all wrong."

Uh, Judy? Some of us without a high-paying reporting job were properly skeptical of the WMD claims before the war.

Keep your "we" to yourself, bitch.

Posted by Observer at 12:53 PM | Comments (0)

October 21, 2005

The Chauffeur

I had to look up the spelling on that one. Dayum.

Well, it seems our 16-year-old, J*stin, finally has himself a real girlfriend. He got invited to a group date/movie by some girl last year, but I think she got cold feet and so kept her distance during the whole thing, got pressured from her friends, etc., and I think J*stin got a raw deal. So that was never repeated.

When we finally started taking the kids to the church youth group activities a while back, J*stin didn't really care either way. It was something to do, and the main attraction was the fact that there were like three boys who showed up regularly and about 20 girls. One of the girls took a shine to J*stin, but we didn't realize it. A couple of weeks ago, J*stin really perked up an interest about the youth group calendar, wondering when the next activity was, whether we'd go on a given night, etc.

Now we've gone from that to, "Uh, Dad, you can go ahead and erase 'Storm Stories' and 'Buffy' from the DVR, because I think I'm just going to talk to my girlfriend on the phone." Really funny, and I'm very happy for the boy (C*dy's excited, too, because that's less competition for the DVR and GameCube). Of course, the drawback is now he wants to be taken to every single possible youth event plus the occasional date that the two managed to arrange. Tonight was a football game, and we managed to contact the girl's parents to make sure everything was on the up-and-up, that they knew she was meeting some new boy for their first "real" date, even though there would be another couple there along with a parent, as it turns out.

I'm a total sucker for taking him to everything, just because I remember as a kid when I got a girlfriend, I was absolutely desperate to do anything I could with her. It was so exciting. Of course, by then, I had my own car, so I didn't really have to rely on my parents for transportation. One time I did and they let me borrow their car, and I was incredibly appreciative. After my girlfriend and I saw a movie, we parked on a side road near her house to listen to the radio, and the battery went dead. I imagine her dad was laughing pretty hard about it later after we came trudging up to the house to explain what happened. I was too stupid to be properly embarrassed at the time.

We actually met this girl's mom while we were picking up C*dy and Ashl*y from their youth group thing at the church tonight, and she was very friendly. I told M*chelle that it'll probably turn out that we end up friends with the parents, but the kids break up after a few weeks, so every time we see them after that, it'll be awkward for J*stin and his girlfriend.

Posted by Observer at 09:58 PM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2005

Crisis Over. Move Along.

Several people have pointed to this observation by Matt Yglesias:

Remember the Social Security crisis? Isn't it a bit, um, interesting that the president suddenly stopped thinking it was critical to do something about the program once it became clear that his preferred changes weren't going to be adopted? But let's leave Bush out of it -- he's got plenty of his own problems.

What happened to all the media hecklers? You know the ones. The ones slamming the Democrats for "irresponsibly" refusing to negotiate with Bush unless he took privatization off the table. That was, supposedy, irresponsible because of the looming crisis. Well, if it ever existed it's got to still be looming. So isn't it irresponsible of the administration to have suddenly dropped the topic?

This is a great example of how the Bush Administration has led the "liberal" media around by the nose. Just like with beating the war drums on Iraq. Just like Senate confirmation hearings (pick your appointee). Just like during the campaign when it was apparently Kerry who was the flip-flopper, rather than the much more obvious choice, Bush.

Where is the honest reporting on social security? At some point, wouldn't you think some major newspaper would summarize the history of that debate so we don't reinvent the wheel four years from now, so that we accept that there's a right way and a wrong way to fix social security?

Posted by Observer at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)

October 19, 2005

The Long Arm of the Law

I know it's early in the process, but this is like opening an early present on Fitzmas eve. The very words make me bust out in a smile, just knowing how pissed off this is going to make all the right people: A warrant has been issued, ordering Tom DeLay to appear for booking at the Fort Bend County jail, where he'll be fingerprinted and photographed.

Posted by Observer at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

October 18, 2005

Fitzmas

In the reality-based world we liberals live in, some day this week (possibly tomorrow) will be an important new holiday: Fitzmas. So named after special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who will probably bring his grand jury investigation into Valerie Plame's blown cover to some sort of conclusion. If he just decides to issue a report but not pursue criminal charges, an outcome that I think is unlikely given the facts we know, then it will be a big lump of coal in my Fitzmas stocking, but Republicans will be dreaming of a Whitewash Fitzmas.

How far will it go? Will Cheney be indicted? Will Novak go to jail? Will Bush bear any culpability? What sorts of facts are going to see the light of day when Fitzgerald finally pries loose the giant rock this "accountability" administration has been hiding under for the past two years of this scandal? It's going to be fun finding out. While you wait, a Daily Kos diarist has some helpful advice.

In Cowboy land, things are not looking good. We lost our (admittedly mediocre) starting left tackle for the year and our #3 receiver/punt returner for a month, and we're already missing our starting middle linebacker and star running back. Another injury in the offensive line, and I'm not sure what the hell we're going to do. It's been spotty this season. Against Philly, the pass protection was phenomenal. Against NY, not so much. I think a more fun game to watch this weekend will be Texas vs Texas Tech compared to the Cowboys possibly collapsing against Seattle.

Posted by Observer at 06:09 PM | Comments (2)

October 17, 2005

Math Tutoring

Shoot me now. Ashl*y, our 13-year-old laziest-person-on-the-planet teenager, got herself behind in her math class. We found out over the weekend thanks to a call from her math teacher. She has spent the last three weeks more or less ignoring the class. God only knows what she's actually doing while in the classroom, but it apparently doesn't include listening to the lesson or doing any actual mathematics. No book, either, just worksheets, and the instructions are pretty vague. For example, "Define 'rate'." Uh, ok, from the dictionary or what? "Write a three-part correlation for the following statement." Errr, how about an example of what the hell you are talking about?

Now she's stuck at the supper table with no privileges until she catches up. The math she's having to do is sometimes easy, sometimes hard. I don't mind helping her on the hard stuff, and she has brief periods of clarity where she can correctly do some difficult calculations. But in between are long periods of staring at the wall, huffing and puffing, coming over to ask for help with trivial little details every few minutes. Basically, trying to punish us for making her do the work.

I can pretty happily ignore her or play mind games right back, but it just burns me out. The worst was last night. I am normally an extremely patient teacher. She had a problem that said something like, "A plumber charges $30 for a service call and $20 per hour while he's working, so calculate how much it would cost for visits of 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, n hours." She is smart enough to know this. I've seen her do much more difficult problems, but she decided to shut her brain down last night.

Ashl*y: "I don't get it."

Me: "Look, the plumber walks in the door. How much does that cost?"

Ashl*y: "I don't know."

Me: (glaring)

Ashl*y: (shrugging) "50 dollars?"

Me: "Read the problem to me Ashl*y and tell me how much a service call costs."

Ashl*y: (reads briefly) "20 dollars?"

Me: "It's 30 dollars, Ashley. 30 dollars to walk in the door, then 20 dollars per hour after he walks in the door."

Ashl*y: "Whatever."

Me: "How much does it cost for a one hour visit?"

Ashl*y: "I don't know."

Me: (glaring)

Ashl*y: "70 dollars?"

Me: "You win. I give up. Go stare at the wall until you figure it out."

Ashl*y: "Sorry! You think I'm stupid!"

Me: (controlling myself, not getting drawn offsides, counting to ten, etc.)

The kids are all really good at the sarcastic, five-syllable "sorry". We aren't good enough at ignoring it, but we're working on it. Now she's on to figuring out a protractor, and we're where we were last night. She got 0 out of 8 angles right on the first try, 2 out of 8 on the second try (one of those doesn't count because I showed it to her for the 2nd time), 3 out of 8 on the third try.

We thought we were done with this in the fifth grade, but apparently, please-flunk-me Ashl*y is back in business after a two-year hiatus.

Shoot me now.

Posted by Observer at 07:17 PM | Comments (1)

October 16, 2005

A New Candidate

Well, Al Gore said "No way." Condi Rice said she wasn't interested. Who will America turn to in 2008 for bold leadership?

Look no further than General Zod, and don't listen to the whiny, hopelessly anti-Zod media.

Thanks to Atrios for the link.

Posted by Observer at 11:13 PM | Comments (0)

First Place

Crazy game today. The Cowboys totally stifled Manning, Burress and Shockey during the first half. The defense just ruled. We turned the frickin' ball over three times and got nothing back, and we were still up 7-6 at halftime. That's where the Giants lost. What I can't figure out is how the Cowboys got four turnovers back from the Giants in the second half (giving up one) and only scoring six points, while putting up some big offensive numbers (Bledsoe's passing numbers were huge, as was total offense, time of possession, third down conversions, etc).

Once again, the Cowboys gave up big plays late to allow the Giants to tie it, but the Cowboys won in overtime on a field goal (despite a rocky start by our kicker who missed two field goals and then just *barely* made a 28 yarder). At the same time, Kansas City beat Washington. Shockey eventually got some really huge catches, including a 4th and 10 conversion (Giants were 1 for 9 on third down), but we kept Burress pretty much shut down. I hope this team remembers how to score touchdowns next week.

We're six weeks in to the season, and the Cowboys are in first place in the NFC East, albeit by only a half-game. Likewise, the Eagles are in last place, and a big juicy turkey just came out of the oven for a nice early Sunday supper and a week of yummy leftovers. Life is good.

Posted by Observer at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2005

0-3

After manhandling a team last week, C*dy's soccer team entered into a local tournament. The participants in our round-robin group were a team we beat earlier this season 3-1 along with two teams from the division one year younger than us. When we played in this tournmanet last year, we thought it sucked having to play older teams. Well, now we're the older team.

So of course, after blowing out another team 10-0 last week, the team goes on to lose all three games today in a hot, brutally sunny, windless affair. Each of the games was close. The teams were evenly matched or maybe even tilted a bit to our favor, but the ball bounced the wrong way each game. C*dy acquitted himself quite well as a goalie and as a scorer, and he hustled like crazy, especially during the last game when everyone was dragging. I really felt sorry for him because I think he took the losses pretty tough.

Next week, C*dy and Ashl*y are going off on a youth retreat, so C*dy will get to miss another match against a vastly superior opponent (they're in another division and have been wiping the floor with everyone in our division). I may go down there at some point to help out, too, but it would be a long drive.

Before C*dy's last game, we were waiting for two girls teams to clear the field. They had a good match, from what I saw of it. It was 3-2, and the losing side was battling for the ball right in front of the winning side's goal. Finally, the ball rolled into the clear and a player was running up for a big shot on goal. And the whistle blew, ending the game, maybe a half second before the player's foot connected with the ball. Of course, it scored and would've made it 3-2, but the referee disallowed it, yelling to the disbelieving parents that time was up and that was that.

We've had that ref before, and not only is he extremely incompetent and inconsistent, but he's also a huge prick. But of course, who am I to complain, because we don't really volunteer any time to the league or offer to ref games or what have you. It's just a shame. I always thought that, at the very least, refs weren't supposed to call time if there was a play in progress, a scoring chance, etc.

Posted by Observer at 08:44 PM | Comments (1)

October 14, 2005

Dogpile

You know, it's nice to see the mainstream press finally piling on to the Boy King and his minions for staging misleading photo ops. The media is acting like this is some kind of incredible and outrageously unprecedented event, this staged videoference with our troops in Iraq. The thing you have to realize before you go all "liberal media" on me is that Bush has been doing this kind of shit since the beginning of his campaign for the presidency in 1999.

Back then, the media was dogpiling on Gore, making fun of him for every possible little thing, from telephone fundraising calls to earth tones. But Bush could do no wrong. He was an affable Texan, a bipartisan "uniter" who would end all these years of nasty bickering in Washington (caused by whom?), while Gore was an effete, elite, beltway insider who didn't invite the right people in the media to his parties and didn't have the right rich friends. Bob Somerby has done the yeoman's work of documenting all of this, if you have any doubt.

It's nice to see that they finally are dogpiling someone who deserves it over something significant. Another six years of this kind of critical "emperor has no clothes" reporting about Republicans, and we'll call it even on Bush vs Gore, ok? Then we can worry about making up for the Clinton years. Remember when a blowjob was worth an impeachment? Bush could fuck a live goat on national TV and this Congress would pretend nothing happened. Now, though, at least the media might dare to say, "What the Fuck?"

Posted by Observer at 06:42 AM | Comments (0)

October 13, 2005

Calvinball

Alert, everyone! Rule change!

It is now ok to ask pointed questions of Supreme Court Nominees if you're a conservative Republican and if the nominee is female and if she has very little judicial paper trail. The rule about no one asking any background questions about opinions at all still applies to Democrats just as it did during the Roberts hearing, and any Democrat who breaks the rule by asking questions is Getting In The Way of Democracy.

The penalty for this is that you have to sing the poopy song and stand on your head for five minutes. Any media outlet or blogger who doesn't like Calvinball rule changes is officially Biased and Untrustworthy, and if they don't shut up, they will have to go stand in the Unpatriotic American box and drink an entire carton of chocolate milk in 30 seconds.

Posted by Observer at 01:46 PM | Comments (4)

October 12, 2005

Hell Figured Out

Ok, I guess I finally figured out, after 5+ years, that I'm just not good at Diablo 2 when it comes to melee combat or ranged attacks. Spellcasting is where it's at. I just cut through the first four Hell acts like a hot knife through butter with my Hammerdin. Some of these levels would take absolutely forever with my Frenzy barb, especially the stuff filled with mana burning physical immunes, but I just start the hammers going and that's it. My only weakness is the one-hit kill because I only have about 1200 health.

Some monsters have an amplify damage curse, so a minion hits you, gets your cursed, then the extra strong bad guy hits you and within about a second you are out. I'm pretty quick on hitting the button for my full rejuvenation potion, but not quick enough sometimes. I have all of the runes to create the nifty armor "Wealth", but I'm still looking for a high-quality three-socket armor to put it in. If I ever do go back to melee, I'm going to try a sword wielding barbarian so I can try out my new Lightsabre, the very powerful super-unique sword I just found. Yum.

I may have to try a fire/cold sorceress next. I am kind of addicted to all that shield blocking, though, so it'll be tough to part with my paladin.

Posted by Observer at 08:17 PM | Comments (2)

October 11, 2005

Free Stuff

I took the kids on Saturday afternoon to a Pokemon convention/show. It was a bit of a drive but worth it. Basically, they had converted a football-field size building into a big Pokemon festival (with free admission). They had about 10 different activities, each with lines. Ironically, the longest line we waited in all day was the one to buy souveniers. J*stin went along, even though he's a bit old for that sort of thing (hey, shaddup, I know I'm 37), but he didn't get anything.

C*dy and Ashl*y got caps, but the t-shirts were nothing special and not worth the price. Ashl*y also got a big Pikachu doll to add to her three-trash-bags-full collection of stuffed animals. I use that unit of measurement because a few times a year, Ashl*y gets into enough trouble that one of the punishments we use is removal of all stuffed animals from her room. Next to removal of her door, it is the most effective punishment, at least as far as leading to fake sincere contrition.

There were a few simple games with prizes like VHS videos or little board games or inflatable balls, and the lines for those were less than a few minutes long in each case. There was also a little area where you could wirelessly link up and receive their broadcast signal. That's the signal we've been looking for that enables us to visit a special area to capture rare Pokemon. I took care of this process on all six of the Pokemon games that we brought with us (would've been seven, but C*dy lost his Emerald game).

There was a drawing "contest" where you could draw or trace your favorite Pokemon and tack it to the bulletin boards, a couple of places to download some not-so-rare Pokemon that have some interesting characteristics (moves) you won't find anywhere else. There were displays showing off the new Pokemon games that are out, including the new Gamecube game that we recently bought. After about an hour and a half, the boys discovered one line where no matter how you finish in the little game, they give you a booster pack of Pokemon cards.

These normally go for $3-$5, and they were packs from the new set, so the kids just started rotating through that line as many times as I would allow. After the 4th time for each of them, I decided that we had abused it enough (we were probably below the median number of times most kids were going through that line, based on what I saw), and they agreed to give it a rest. At least that helped pay for the gas money to get there. All in all, a fun 2-3 hours, and I am still kicking myself that I didn't bring the damned digital camera.

Posted by Observer at 06:07 PM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2005

New Stuff

Finally, the internet connection problems are resolved. The guy showed up today and gave us a new modem, new splitter and even a new cable to go to the modem. No charge. He said they really only charge people for service fees and equipment if they are jerks. I asked him if he wanted some cookies. Anyway, with any luck, we'll now have a reliable connection again so I can waste more time on finishing Hell mode with my Hammerdin.

Posted by Observer at 04:00 PM | Comments (0)

Two wins

Damn cable internet has been on and off since last week, still struggling.

Wow. Two teams that have showed a lot of signs of struggling came out and totally dominated yesterday. First was C*dy's soccer team, which lost to an upper-division club 10-0 last week (a game we missed because C*dy was on a trip) and barely managed a draw against what looked to be a better team on Saturday, 1-1.

On Sunday, we drove for ninety minutes to bumfuck middle-of-nowhere for the game, and C*dy's team rocked. It's like all of a sudden, everything clicked. It looked for the first 15 minutes like it was going to be close, with both teams taking good shots but our offense setting the ball up better.

I mean, some of our guys were actually charging down the wing and putting out some major-league crosses. The shots were great, and the other team's goalie was very, very good, but by half, we were up 3-0. One of the goals C*dy got while cleaning up on the back post during a corner kick. The other team's coach was really getting mad, but I guess his halftime speech sucked because by the end of the game, we won 10-0.

It feels a lot worse to be on the losing end of 10-0 than it feels good to be on the winning end of 10-0. Our coach didn't really call off the dogs, because goal differential is important in our league, acting as a tiebreaker. Next weekend, the team is in a tournament and will play three games on Saturday. Yeesh.

I got home in time, with the help of the DVR, to catch up to the Cowboys game in the middle of the fourth quarter. The Cowboys beat the Eagles 33-10, and were it not for a freak fumble return for a TD, it probably should've been closer to 40-3. I don't know what's wrong with the Eagles, and I frame it that way on purpose.

Because if this was really all Cowboys, you have to wonder where the hell this has been all season. Bledsoe looked like playoff-level Aikman back there in the pocket, and his QB rating was through the roof. And the Philly defense looked horrible. They didn't touch our QB all day, despite all the blitzing (which, maddeningly, usually kills us).

The down-side is that now that Dallas has done this, the fans are going to expect it, and I can't imagine they'll play this well, consistently. Sure would be nice to see a semblance of this next week against the Giants, though.

Oh, and it was really nice to open up the paper this morning and see Philly at the bottom of the division standings after the 5th week of the season. That got a Nelson-laugh out of me.

Posted by Observer at 07:51 AM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2005

Train! Train! No! Wait!

Given Daniel's sudden interest in trains, we put an episode of the very creepy "Thomas and Friends" on the DVR, and predictably, Daniel went nuts over it. Didn't really follow the story, just wanted to watch the trains going all over the screen. He briefly left the room during the episode so I turned off the TV. Pretty quickly, he came running back in, yelling "train!", and clicked the TV back on.

With a minute or two left, the music swelled up and the credits started rapidly rolling up the right hand side of the screen. Daniel gasped and said, "Train! Train! No! Wait!" and frantically started brushing the side of the TV screen in a downward motion to try to get the rolling credits to stop or reverse. Very cute.

Posted by Observer at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)

October 08, 2005

Toles

Tom Toles on the Miers nomination:

Posted by Observer at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2005

"Fringe"

I'd like to welcome senior U. S. generals on the ground in Iraq to the "fringe" radical left anti-war movement. To wit:

"I don't know if I have the moral authority to send troops into combat anymore," a senior American general recently told United Press International. He knows what his power means -- that on his word hundreds or thousands of young men would step into danger.

"I'm no longer sure I can look (a soldier or a Marine) in the eye and say: 'This is something worth dying for.'"

Thanks to First Draft for the pointer.

Posted by Observer at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

Conflicted

Our 2-year-old, D*niel, has a new interest at his weekday school (MWF mornings): TRAINS. His new teacher brought in a little tykes train set and some books about trains. When we went to pick him up today (which I rarely get to do because he gets out while I teach), he had a train book in his hands, and he really didn't want to let it go.

He put it on the bookshelf like he is supposed to and looked ready to go, then he ran back over and grabbed it, all the while yelling "train!". He seemed determined to walk out the door with it, but we explained to him that he needed to pick up toys and leave the book at school. He literally walked around in a little circle, conflicted over whether to put the train book away or try to sneak it out, but he finally gave in and put the book away. Very cute.

Makes Xmas shopping easy, too. :)

Oh, and while I was gone to pick him up, the only 30 minutes of the entire day I'm gone from the house, that's when the cable guy drops by and no one's home. Oh well, at least everything seems to be working again, but I'd still like to find out what caused the problem in the first place.

Posted by Observer at 02:13 PM | Comments (1)

October 06, 2005

Same Old Song

Former FBI head Louis Freeh is pushing a new book about how horrible Clinton was. His main selling point? How much Clinton was in bed with the Saudis! Hello? Have you even *THOUGHT* about how Bush is totally owned by the Saudis? It boggles the mind, truly.

Now we all know Clinton was far from perfect. But it is also clear that the depth of the corruption in this administration, in the entire Republican party, is unprecedented. Tom DeLay is famous for not bothering to meet with anyone who is not only giving lots of money to Republicans but nothing to Democrats. He's proud of it! And do you think Clinton was the only president who let big donors sleep in the Lincoln bedroom. Surely Mr. Accountability Bush wouldn't let that happen. WRONG.

Why this continued fascination with blaming stuff on Clinton? Why do wingnuts continue to try to trash Clinton's legacy? I swear over half of the right-wing books that come out every year devote most of their content to trashing Clinton, and he hasn't even been around since 2000!

Sure, he's an easy target for the Monica thing, but besides that, it seems to me that he did a damned good job. What foreign adventures he got us into, he got us out of. No major terrorist incidents on his watch (and some were stopped). Economically, we did great. The budget deficits were replaced with surpluses (and I've already proven more than once with hard numbers that Bush's reversal of this had nothing to do with the business cycle), and the world didn't end despite tax increases on the rich. People kept right on being as religious as they wanted to be. Lots of social indicators, like divorce rate, poverty, drug use and so forth had good trends.

The fact is, Clinton did fine, and Bush is driving us into a ditch in every way imaginable, and getting a lot of our finest men and women killed in the process. Is there any doubt at all that Bush is going to go down objectively as one of the 5-10 worst presidents in American history? In my mind, he's top five for sure, and I can't rank more precisely only because I don't know enough about Hoover, Coolidge, Grant or Buchanan (and I'm probably leaving a couple names off that list of infamy). Clinton may not be among the top ten, but I think objectively, the worst he would be is middle of the pack. Certainly a lot better than Reagan or either Bush.

But the next election is going to provide a stark choice. We'll have had eight years of peace and prosperity under Clinton followed by the last eight years of divisive politics, crony capitalism, enormous debts, quagmire in Iraq and so on under Bush. Unless the wingnuts trash Clinton, the talk radio masses out there might just put two and two together and realize that the modern-day Republican party is turning our proud country into a laughingstock.

Update: Avedon Carol has some good comments on Freeh as well.

Posted by Observer at 10:14 PM | Comments (8)

Pedigree

I find it amusing that many conservatives are acting like the elitist liberal snobs they so abhor when it comes to the Miers nomination. Among the criticisms is that she got her law degree from SMU. What the hell is so bad about a law degree from SMU? I mean, crap, Yale graduated morons like the Boy King, so what's so great about them? If Yale were my alma mater, I'd be pretty damned embarrassed.

I also find it amusing that SMU people are getting their panties in a wad. Good God, the snobbery they have toward little ol' TCU, just a reflection of the snobbery Dallas people have toward Fort Worth, gets tiresome after a while. You'd think people would know better, realizing that every town of a certain size, especially with a long history and tradition, has enough civic pride and neat stuff to make it a great place to be. So in that sense, while it's unfair for people to bash Miers, who is probably a perfectly nice and capable lady, there's enough irony all around to make me smile.

With that said, I do think people like George Will (among many others) make a legitimate point that Miers would not make a "top 10" or even "top 100" list of serious Supreme Court candidates, even based on qualifications other than where her degree is from. I sincerely doubt he would raise this point, however, if she were Clarence Thomas. I'm looking forward in the days to come to the comparisons of her record with the record of people like Thomas or Abe Fortas.

Fortas, as Al Franken is reminding listeners daily, was the last "crony" friend of a president (LBJ) to be appointed to the Supreme Court. When LBJ tried to elevate him to Chief Justice, he was filibustered by the Republicans. You know, the same people who tried to claim that filibustering judges was unfair and unprecedented and un-American and all that crap. Fortas' term on the court was, to be polite, undistinguished.

Posted by Observer at 05:31 PM | Comments (0)

IV Back

As mysteriously as it stopped working yesterday (the helper on the phone couldn't contact our cable modem and said there were no outages), cable modem started working again this morning. I'm still going to have the tech come out to the house to see what's what. I guess this is better than nothing until Friday sometime.

Posted by Observer at 07:23 AM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2005

IV Down

Our internet cable is down. Looks like we might have a busted cable modem, though I can't figure out what caused it. Had to truck in to work on the way to pick up the kids tonight from their youth group just to respond to emails that had piled up. We're supposed to get it fixed Friday, but we'll see. Grrrrr.

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

October 04, 2005

Soccer Practice

Just another scene from life around here. Our 16-year-old, J*stin, was arguing with 11-year-old C*dy while both were getting ready to go to C*dy's soccer practice. J*stin likes to go because he likes to play soccer and lord it over the younger kids, and the coach finds him useful, but J*stin isn't good enough to be on the school soccer team (which is why he runs cross country and track). Anyway, I always tell both boys to keep their own water bottles in their own rooms, rinsing them out after each use, etc.

This keeps us from always having water bottles thrown into the sink and keeps them from fighting over who gets which bottle. It never works that way, and so J*stin and C*dy spent at least five minutes in the kitchen arguing over who stole a water bottle from the other. It took nothing less than a Nuclear Ultimatum from the Parents to make them stop bickering, and J*stin apparently had his whole day ruined as a result, moping around until right before it was time to leave.

So we're in the car, halfway there, and C*dy* points out that both of them forgot their water bottles. J*stin says, "Oh." Quick shrug. "Oh well. It doesn't matter. We'll get water when we get home." I got a good laugh out of that, though neither of them appreciated the humor of the situation.

In other local news, there's some big Pokemon travelling show coming to a Place Near Us on Saturday, and I think that'll be our chance to get the wireless hook-up code that the kids have been waiting for to get the secret Pokemon called Deoxys. Well, except that C*dy seems to have misplaced his copy of Emerald, but if one of us gets it, we can always trade. C*dy has a soccer game that morning, but I think we should be able to travel there in plenty of time.

Posted by Observer at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2005

Miers in the Headlights

Just caught up with Battlestar Galactica and watched the season finale. I knew they were going to bring the Battlestar Pegasus back this season (thanks to the BSG blog), and so far, it's been good. I would guess that the Cylons probably led these two back together on purpose, knowing it wouldn't take long before they started firing at each other. January seems a long way away. I hope Roslin gets involved in this somehow, but it isn't clear at all whether Pegasus also has some civilian hangers-on like Galactica who might bring some pressure.

Anyway, in other news, I've been following the announcement of the next Supreme Court nominee. I agreed with the idea of the Dems putting up a good fight against Roberts, demanding (and failing to have released) his past records and so forth, and I think Dems should have voted against him on principle (because they didn't get his records). Why not filibuster, too? Leaves me to wonder whether they cut a deal with Bush, knowing Bush would nominate someone acceptable (instead of someone very publicly to the right of Ashcroft).

But that just doesn't seem like Bush's style. He steamrolls over everything, pretending he's an aw-shucks Reaganesque guy, and while he's weakened, it seems like that's just all the more reason to give Dems the finger and rally the base. That's what he's always done, so I'm really suspicious of this deal. Harry Reid, the Senate minority leader, seems very sharp, though, and he's very publicly smiling about the new nominee, who is one of the White House lawyers and has served with Bush for a long time. He's even referring to her as a trial lawyer and going on and on. Almost makes me think that Reid's strategy is to get Bush's base pissed off that Bush has squandered a pick (lots of noise like that is coming from wingnut land), thus costing the Republicans those voters in the mid-term elections.

But what the hell is Bush's motive? It's really hard to find a take on this that is flattering to Bush, from any region of the political spectrum. Nothing against Miers, really, but what has she done to earn a place among the Supreme Court justices? A lot of conservatives are using that argument, that she really hasn't earned her place, which makes me wonder if they even have the name "Clarence Thomas" anywhere in their realm of conscious thought.

Surely there is something else going on, though. Hard to figure, but what I do know is ... well ... Atrios kinda says what I was thinking:

I have no idea what kind of judge Miers will be and nor probably does anyone else in the commentariat. We probably won't know for a few years either way (assuming for the moment that she's confirmed) unless the nice people in the press do some digging to try to find out. All we do know is she's a reliable Bush fixer.

Wingnuttia is rather angry at the choice. I don't think this is because they're really concerned that she's not conservative enough for their tastes, although that's part of it. They're angry because this was supposed to be their nomination. This is was their moment. They didn't just want a stealth victory, they wanted parades and fireworks. They wanted Bush to find the wingnuttiest wingnut on the planet, fully clothed and accessorized in all the latest wingnut fashions, not just to give them their desired Court rulings, but also to publicly validate their influence and power. They didn't just want substantive results, what they wanted even more were symbolic ones. They wanted Bush to extend a giant middle finger to everyone to the left of John Ashcroft. They wanted to watch Democrats howl and scream and then ultimately lose a nasty confirmation battle. They wanted this to be their "WE RUN THE COUNTRY AND THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT" moment.

Whatever kind of judge she would be, she doesn't provide them with that.

Her confirmation hearings will likely be much more interesting than Roberts' polished and professional blandness. And if Billmon is right and Republicans really, honestly are thinking of filibustering this nominee in protest, I say "Pass the popcorn!" I can't imagine they would be so stupid, though, especially after convincing all of wingnuttia about the evils of denying someone an up-or-down vote in the Senate.

Posted by Observer at 10:05 PM | Comments (1)

October 02, 2005

Not Bad, But Not Good Enough

You know, we just lost to a team that was 0-3, but I don't feel too bad about it. I thought the defense was extremely encouraging, limiting Randy Moss to only one big catch and no TD's. And man, is that guy maddening to watch. He never does a damned thing if he knows the ball isn't coming his way. Any announcer who calls him a "great" receiver should be slapped. I was glad to see Roy Williams pop him a couple of times, though neither was a super-satisfying smackdown that made him struggle to get up. Anyway, it makes me fear Terrell Owens and the Eagles just a little bit less next week.

I'm starting to think that we'll be able to hang with the Eagles for a while instead of being blown out. I don't know if we can hold on to make it a one-possession game with a shot to win near the end, but I'm not worried that we'll be humiliated like last year. We lost 19-13 to the Raiders, and the low score really was part of the game plan. We only had the ball for nine possessions total, not counting a hail mary at the end of the half. The problem was that Parcells kept insisting on running the ball instead of testing that Oakland secondary deep. I'm continually frustrated by this team's reluctance to throw deep. I think Bledsoe only tried once on a throw that would go for more than 30 yards (besides the intercepted hail mary), and that was an amazing catch.

I guess I'll cut Terry Glenn a break because he made that catch, because after that, he did something he does a lot of, which is run a three-yard route when we need four yards. If we hadn't lost to the stupid Redskins, I'd definitely be thinking playoffs right now. As it is, we're going to have to steal a win or two on the schedule where we're not supposed to win, plus we're going to have to take care of all of the teams we really ought to beat. With the rest of the NFC East going nuts so far, I can't say I'm optimistic.

Posted by Observer at 07:19 PM | Comments (0)

Words and Actions

Priorities:

The truth is that there is nothing to stop Mr. Bush from wielding his veto -- witness the fact that the administration threatened Friday to veto a defense bill if, among other potential offenses, it contained language outlawing cruel and inhuman treatment of foreign detainees. But while Mr. Bush cares fervently, and scandalously, about the imperative of keeping inhumane practices legal, he does not care as much about waste of taxpayers' money. This is why he has not made vigorous use of his veto to restrain the growth of pork.

Hearing Republicans call themselves "moral" or "fiscal conservatives" any more doesn't make me laugh. It makes me want to throw up.

Posted by Observer at 01:49 PM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2005

Hammerdin

Over the past couple of months, I've been trying to build up a Hammerdin in Diablo 2. That's a Paladin with 20 levels of Blessed Hammer, then you tack on 20 levels of Vigor and 20 levels of Blessed Aim (both of which provide extra damage to your hammers), then add whatever else you feel like, usually a mix of Concentration, the only aura that adds to hammer damage, and Holy Shield, which I'm a huge fan of.

The nice thing is that virtually nothing in the game (except for one kind of monster in Act III hell which is easy to work around) is immune to this damage, and the damage is considerable (2000+ points with no defense working against it). The curse is that you have to build your Paladin so that the hammer is your only attack, and it is hard to aim. Hammer is a skill, so you can have it as your default action (click anywhere on the map, and you fire off a hammer) or your attack (you have to click on an enemy to activate it).

If it is your default action, you can, anytime you feel like it, fire off about 5-10 hammers in quick succession. These start at about your 10 o'clock position and spiral around you in an expanding pattern about 2.5 times, about 2/3 of the way to the edge of the screen, which is just short of where archers like to fire from, of course. Hammers get stopped by obstacles, so the Hammerdin works a lot better in open areas, not hallways, tight spaces or the cursed Maggot Lair.

The problem with having it as a default action is you don't get to add damage with your Concentration Aura (which can double the damage or more, depending on how many points you put in). But if you make it an attack, you have to click on a living monster for it to work. If your monster dies, you have to quickly find another to hover on before you can fire off more hammers. And the hammer pattern has some gaping holes, so it is possible for monsters to stand close to you and pummel you while your hammers fly around harmlessly.

So then you have to move slightly to alter the pattern and close gaps, but sometimes there's no place to click for a short little move because there are so many monsters. So it takes practice. But it is very effective at killing monster swarms. It's fun to start up a hammer field and watch the monsters walk through it and get mowed down. Oh, is something raising those skeletons? Don't worry, because the next hammer will knock it back down again, and a quick key-click over to redemption will recharge your mana and clear the field.

Maybe the biggest weakness is the lack of health compared to my Frenzy Barbarian, which means that I'm vulnerable to monsters that run right up to you before the hammer swarm is really flying, get into a gap in the pattern and whack hard, especially with auras. Archer swarms aren't so bad because at least I've got a shield for blocking (still looking for the unique Herald of Zakarum, which is supposedly the best shield for this build). I'm pouring everything into Vitality after getting 90 strength (enough for the equipment I want) and 100-120 dex (needed for the 75% max blocking rate), but I still only have around 800 life most of the time, compared to my Frenzy Barbarian, who routinely sports 3000-4000 life thanks to his battle cries boosting it.

The hammerdin was really easy to level up (partly thanks to the helpful items my first ladder character accumulated), but I just haven't had much time to play, so I've only recently gotten him strong enough (over level 70) so that he can do magic find runs in the Pit in the Tamoe Highlands. That's a decent place for hammers, and I only die on maybe 20% of the runs. It may seem like a lot, but I'm wearing a bunch of topazes, so I don't have good armor. I'm really close to getting all the runes I need for the "Wealth" armor. That'll be fun. Unfortunately, the Hammerdin is most definitely *not* built for Countess runs, so I'll have to rely on mass-killing to get my runes out in the field.

I really think I'll be able to finish Hell with this character once I get him up into the mid-80's with a slight equipment upgrade, mainly in body armor. The Ancients are actually really easy. I just put hammer on as the default action, so I lose the concentration aura, and I just run like hell, stopping to let fly with hammers once in a while. If they start to catch up a bit while I'm running around, I have a level 20 vigor aura that is like afterburners. It takes some time, but I can kill them all without taking a serious hit. I just need enough mana potions. The Ancients (in Hell) are what kept my barbarian from finishing when I got closest in my home game. They just did too much frickin' damage in hand-to-hand.

Posted by Observer at 10:02 PM | Comments (1)