October 31, 2006

Firefighter!

Little D*niel had his first real trick-or-treating experience for Halloween dressed up as a firefighter. I got to go out walking with him and C*dy and M*chelle once I got a big pile of grading done. Our new neighborhood is just okay for Halloween. Only about one out of every seven or eight houses was accepting trick-or-treaters, so it was a lot of walking to fill up their baskets, but it was a nice cool evening, and the wide streets are pretty safe to walk along.

Posted by Observer at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)

October 30, 2006

Aaauuuugh

Toles:

Posted by Observer at 02:15 PM | Comments (0)

October 29, 2006

That Was Unexpected

The Cowboys went on the road to Carolina, where in recent years, Cowboy dreams of greatness have gone to die. This time, with a new quarterback on the road who pretty much made a fool of himself last week (to be fair, he was thrown to the wolves with no preparation), and the Cowboys spotted Carolina 14 points in the 1st quarter. But the horrible interception that Romo threw that led to the 2nd Carolina touchdown was basically the only mistake he made the whole game. Aside from that, he was just fine.

And the Cowboys slowly came back before finally blowing it open in the 4th quarter when it looked like Carolina was exhausted and their sloppy mistakes really started multiplying. The Cowboys managed to stay in it by overcoming some penalties at bad times (both offense and defense), and because Carolina had several costly mistakes (including a dropped TD pass by Keyshawn and a few drops when the game was still close and Carolina needed some first downs to calm the Cowboys down).

Anyway, the Cowboys aside from the penalties and the one mistake by Romo (and you have to give the guy one or two of those horrible things per game, at least, since he's so raw) looked really solid. Was that offensive line, which picked up blitz after blitz, the same one that was a revolving door for the Giants last week? Crazy. Which line will show up next week?

Romo showed that he is capable of playing this game, but with the kind of protection he had today, I'm not sure Bledsoe couldn't have done better. Romo will need to improve as the season goes along, and that really just means cutting down on throwing all of those up-for-grab floaters when he can't see what's going on and is about to get sacked. It's all about protection. I'll believe Romo is an improvement at QB when I see him perform under the kind of pressure Bledsoe has been seeing routinely, like against Philly or the Giants with the ability to prepare for it.

I still think that, in their current state, the Cowboys are not going anywhere, doomed to lose in the first round of the playoffs if they make it that far. A good team just doesn't get humiliated like they did last week. But with Romo back there and (for whatever reason) and an offensive line that figured out how to block, I can see this team getting better and better. Maybe the line just wants to play for Romo more, and maybe there's something else Romo does that make it easier to protect him.

I don't know, but if they start getting better with Romo developing as a quarterback, this is going to be a very fun season to watch, even if it ends in frozen death in Chicago in the NFC Championship game.

Posted by Observer at 10:23 PM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2006

Good Times

It's pretty fun to watch someone like Letterman puncture O'Reilly's little bubble of self-righteous bullshit once in a while.

Posted by Observer at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

Please Do Your Job

A well-written open letter to the traditional media from Jamison Foser:

Did you pursue a career in journalism so you could help shed much-needed light on important topics, so you could help educate and inform your fellow citizens, so you could seek the truth and hold those in power accountable to the people they are supposed to serve?

Or did you pursue a career in journalism because you wanted to discuss whether Hillary Rodham Clinton has had plastic surgery, which candidate "looks French," and which "looked scary"?

We know of no poll that shows that respondents consider Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco residence of primary importance in this November's elections. We know of none that suggests that Tennessee voters care more about whether Harold Ford Jr. went to a "Playboy party" than they care about keeping America safe. We see no indication that the public is calling out for more "analysis" of the candidates' appearance, or even that their primary concern is how the midterm elections will affect the 2008 presidential prospects of various members of Congress.

No, the American people know what is important. Iraq is important. Capturing or killing Osama bin Laden is important. Keeping America safe, securing our ports, and preventing future attacks are important. The growing gap between rich and poor is important; the fact that millions of Americans lack health care is important.

The American people know these things are important -- and they tell you that every time you ask. You pick the poll, any poll you want: We guarantee you the poll shows that people think these things are important.

You won't find much evidence that the pressing questions on their minds have anything to do with Hillary's hair, or whether Pelosi's "San Francisco looks" turn them off, or whether the latest political ad "goes too far."

So please -- please -- use these last 10 days well. Use them to educate your readers and viewers and listeners about the things that really matter. Use the next 10 days to help people understand what the candidates want to do about Iraq and whether their solutions have worked in the past. About how we've failed to capture Osama bin Laden and what we're doing to change that. About what is happening in Afghanistan, about port security, about the budget deficit, about wage stagnation, about runaway energy costs, and about health care.

Don't just use this time to play an RNC ad -- or a DNC ad, or any ad -- over and over and over and over again. Voters will see these ads; the parties and candidates are paying for voters to see them. That's the whole point of an ad. Voters don't need you to air these ads nonstop, for free. The parties want you to do that. You're doing their bidding. You're telling voters about campaign tactics rather than issues. But campaign tactics don't keep us safe, don't keep our troops from dying needlessly in Iraq, don't put food on the table, and don't help people get health care.

We know: The vicious attacks demand attention. But not at the expense of issues that really matter. That isn't mud they're slinging -- it's quicksand they're leading you and the voters into. It swallows up and suffocates everything that gets caught in it, transforming elections that should be about Iraq, about bin Laden, about the economy, about the minimum wage, and about health care into a race to the bottom dominated by substance-free bickering. The campaigns responsible want you -- and the voters -- to get swallowed up in the quicksand. You know a radio host's attack on an actor shouldn't be the dominant story of the days before Americans choose their representatives. Your audience doesn't consider it the most important issue. So don't treat it that way.

For 10 days -- just 10 days, that's all -- use your platform to focus attention on matters of substance, not on the horse race. Don't tell us how an issue is "playing" -- tell us where the candidates stand, what they plan to do, and how they'll do it. We'll tell you how it "plays" on November 7, when we vote.

Once November 7 comes and goes, by all means, knock yourselves out telling us what our votes meant, what the future holds, what you think about the cut of Barack Obama's jib or John McCain's "steely resolve." There's plenty of time for you to do that. Plenty.

But for 10 days -- just 10 short days -- think about what really matters.

Think about why you first put pen to paper, what your motivation was the first time you asked a politician a question, what you think the highest aim of journalism should be.

Think about what makes your profession one of the highest callings a democracy has to offer, what makes journalism so essential to our existence as a nation that its freedoms are enshrined in our Constitution.

Think about the people who have fought and died for those freedoms. Think of your colleagues who have had their phones tapped, who have risked being killed in order to report from war zones, who ended up on "Enemies Lists," who have gone to jail because of their pursuit of the truth.

Did they do all that so you could bring us a story about the Democratic Party's "Two Left Feet," or about allegations that Hillary Clinton has had cosmetic surgery?

Or did they do it so you could tell us the truth about why we went to war, how that war is progressing, and what our leaders plan to do to get us out of it?

Ten days of substance. That's all we ask.

Too many recent elections have been decided based on earth tones and sighs, on windsurfing and swift-boating, on claims that are false or trivial, or both. Too many votes have been cast by voters who are misinformed about some of the most important issues of our -- or any other -- time.

The media don't bear sole responsibility for those things, of course. Our political leaders (on all sides) and those who help elect them deserve their share of blame, to be sure. And the voters themselves bear ultimate responsibility for not being better informed.

But, yes, you in the media are responsible, too; of that, there can be no doubt.

And in the next 10 days, your own performance is the only thing you can change. You cannot change the fact that some politicians will lie; that others will have great ideas but be less tactically savvy than their opponents; or that voters would rather watch Fear Factor than the evening news.

But you can make sure that those voters who read your newspapers and watch your television shows -- who try in these last 10 days to make an informed decision -- get the information they need about things such as war and health care, rather than trivia and pointless prognostication.

You can do that in these last 10 days. And by doing so, you can force the candidates (and help the voters) to talk and think about substance, about issues, about the future of our nation. Your readers and viewers and listeners need you to do that. Your nation needs you to do that.

Isn't that why you wanted to be a journalist in the first place?

I imagine a lot of them went into journalism school because business school was too boring, science was too hard, and they wanted to write but not about the 16th century. They probably thought something about "speaking truth to power" sounded cool, how they could hold some powerful feet to the fire, dreaming of Woodward and Bernstein in their glory days. Then they got jobs they want to protect, and if the president of Viacom calls your editor, who then tells you ixnay on all of the stories about "constitutional violations" and write about Paris Hilton instead, oh well, what are you gonna do?

Wouldn't it be great if journalists could get some sort of tenure? I mean reporters, not columnists, so they have a little more freedom to pursue what they want, to follow a story down whatever trail it may lead for a while, even if it turns into nothing? Because sometimes those stories will hit the jackpot, and all the other dead ends will have been worth it.

Yes, there are some super liberals and super conservatives in the ranks of journalists, but they all have a semblance of a conscience somewhere. I'd like to think that, given the freedom to follow their instincts and their conscience, journalists could go a lot of places they don't go now that need to be explored. Maybe if they had some protection against the whims of their corporate, mostly conservative editors and publishers, they'd be a little more apt to speak truth to power.

Posted by Observer at 06:47 AM | Comments (0)

October 27, 2006

What the Hell?

Now major networks are refusing ads for a movie based on the grounds that the ads are "disparaging" of the president.

That's it. That's the reason.

What's next? Are they gonna censor late night monologues because there are too many Bush/Cheney jokes? Or is that too crazy to contemplate? We would miss out on gems like these:

The election is three [less than two] weeks away and there are rumors the Republicans are getting ready for an election night disaster, which would be a first---a disaster they were actually prepared for. (Bill Maher)

Do you believe how self-destructive this Congress has become? This upcoming election is not an election, it's an intervention. (Jay Leno)

Hell, I thought censoring ads because they are critical of the president was too crazy to contemplate. At least for America. You know, land of the free, home of the brave? Give me liberty or give me death? That America. Remember it?

What a friend we have in the "liberal" media, eh?

Posted by Observer at 01:22 PM | Comments (1)

Galacticons

I mentioned last week that the first part of season three of Battlestar Galactica was a pretty moving allegory of our occupation of Iraq. It looks like the wingnuts noticed, and the predictable reaction of the brave, flag-waving, keyboard warriors of the right?

Yup. Whining.

Did I whine when anti-war demonstrators made themselves look stupid by thinking peace with the Cylons was possible? Did I whine when the "good guys" started torturing Cylons for information? Nope. A good show is a good show, and there can be politics in there that disagrees with mine sometimes, and it's all fine.

Not every single fucking thing on the planet has to be in harmony with your political views, you wingnut freaks. But by all means, don't shut up about it. Keep embarrassing yourselves, and I'll keep pointing it out.

Posted by Observer at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)

October 25, 2006

Phoenix

Rereading all of the Vlad Taltos books has been a lot of fun. There's so much detail and history in almost every scene. Brust is great at foreshadowing, and it's fun to go back and see it as he skips around in the timeline. I liked the third book, "Teckla", more this time than I have in the past. It just feels more real, even if it is a bit depressing to see Vlad and Cawti on the outs. The fourth book, "Taltos", was as gripping as I remember it.

Just opened up "Phoenix", and here's from the first scene:

Whoever was trying to kill me was a better sorceror than me. I was in the cellar, squatting behind the remains of a brick wall, just fifteen feet from the foot of the stairs. If I stuck my head out the door again, it might well get blasted off. I intended to call for reinforcements just as soon as I could. I also intended to teleport out of there just as soon as I could. It didn't look like I'd be able to do either one any time soon.

But I was not helpless. At just such times as these, a witch may also take comfort in his familiar. Mine is a jhereg -- a small, poisonous flying reptile whose mind is psychically linked to my own, and who is, moreover, brave, loyal, trustworthy --

"If you think I'm going out there, boss, you're crazy."

Okay, next idea.

I think I might have to go back and read the Khaavren books again when I'm done with this.

Posted by Observer at 09:16 PM | Comments (3)

October 24, 2006

Goodbye, Classic

I just got a computer upgrade at work. I'm being forced (FORCED, I tell you!) to upgrade from my G4/800 to a new flat-panel iMac. These new Macs won't run Classic programs or even recognize and translate Classic documents, so now I have to give up two programs I've been using every day for years: Outlook Express and ClarisWorks.

I think I've found a reasonable substitute for a new mail program, and that is Mozilla Thunderbird, by the same people who bring us the Firefox browser. So far, it seems to work ok, and it has the same general look, feel and layout of Outlook Express. Probably a lot of cool plugins, too, but I haven't bothered to go look for them. Unfortunately, I'm not going to be able to move all of my old mail archives (nearly eight years worth) to my new system, so I don't know how I'll be able to access them other than by using my home computer.

I don't know how I'm going to find a sub for ClarisWorks. Oh, I can deal with Word, but the best thing about ClarisWorks is that it is a tiny application that runs lightning fast, and it is dead simple to use, especially for drawing basic line diagrams and figures on tests. There is an OS X version of the same basic program, now called AppleWorks, and I guess I'll have to try it out.

Oh, and if I ever do decide to play Heroes III again, I'll be screwed in a few years when my home Mac is upgraded, because that's Classic only. I hear that OS X friendly Heroes IV isn't as good and runs a lot slower. I'm probably going to hang on to my home Classic capable Mac until it goes into a museum.

Posted by Observer at 11:45 AM | Comments (2)

October 23, 2006

Humiliation

Oh man, I was really starting to have hope about the Cowboys this season, and maybe I should still. But it's tough after watching the offensive line get thoroughly humiliated by a taunting Giant defense, even with three starters out of the game with injuries halfway through the second quarter.

And then Parcells pulled Bledsoe and started the backup, Romo, to open the 2nd half. What the hell? Bledsoe wasn't doing great, but as usual, when he's not being well-protected, he's not going to have a good game. You don't pull him there.

At the very least, all of the idiots wanting the backup quarterback starting instead of Bledsoe just got a heaping helping tonight of Shut The Fuck Up. Poor Romo looked exactly like you would expect an inexperienced backup to look, kind of like the young (very bad but with promise) Brett Favre, with 1 incredibly stupid play mixed in for every 2-3 decent or great plays.

That's not what a playoff team does. Our only chance now to win the division will be keeping pace with Philadelphia (which has been nicely imploding since they beat us) and hope the Giants eventually fall victim to a bunch of injuries and so lose a bunch of games they shouldn't.

And then we'll get our doors blown in the first round.

Oh well. Maybe they'll get better. Maybe this is a hiccup. But this is a crappy night to be a Cowboy fan.

Update -- best point I've heard on talk radio this morning: For a safety, Roy Williams makes a great linebacker because he just can't cover well. He's a great player, but he's not being used properly. Putting Roy Williams at safety is like putting Pudge Rodriguez out in center field.

Posted by Observer at 10:43 PM | Comments (4)

October 22, 2006

New Rule

Bill Maher has another new rule for right-wing nutball "think tanks":

New rule in two parts: (A) You can't call yourself a think tank if all your ideas are stupid; and (B) If you're someone from one of these think tanks that dreamed up the Iraq War and who predicted that we'd be greeted as liberators, and that we wouldn't need a lot of troops, and that Iraqi oil would pay for the war, that the WMD's would be found, that the looting wasn't problematic, that the mission was accomplished, that the insurgency was in its last throes, that things would get better after the people voted, after the government was formed, after we got Saddam, after we got his kids, after we got Zarqawi, and that whole bloody mess wouldn't turn into a civil war, you have to stop making predictions.

I would settle for them just stopping with all the smug I'm-the-only-serious-person-here attitude about the whole war debate. Maybe even an "I'm sorry" thrown in for the Hell on Earth they're responsible for over there, for all involved (which doesn't include anyone they are personally close to, more likely than not).

Posted by Observer at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

October 20, 2006

Catching Up

Thank God SciFi repeats everything a million times. We were able to rescue the season 3 premiere of Battlestar Galactica from whatever DVR demons erased it thanks to the repeat last week, then we blew through the first four hours of season 3 tonight. Great stuff.

The first two hours were very powerful, a perfect metaphor for our occupation of Iraq, but they couldn't keep it up. Too dark, too depressing, but it is a good slap in the face to see what normal people have to go through when occupied by a military force they despise (especially when that force feels they are on a holy or righteous mission).

The second two hours were also good. I'm glad they killed off Tigh's wife. We hated her from the get-go. Of course, it'll probably turn out that she was a cylon and so she'll be back. I'd have to hand it to them, it would be a good addition to the show if they try it, just to see Tigh's reaction to finding out.

It was kinda weasly how once again Roslin escaped what seemed like certain death, but that's ok because I like her character a lot. Starbuck's plot line was really disturbing, but it ended very well. Pegasus went out with a bang, but I've watched Star Wars wayyy too many times not to see that the appearance of the Pegasus in battle, just like Han Solo flying out of the sun after promising to go off and do something else, from about a zillion miles away. Still, it was good.

The only huge problem I see with the series right now is explaining the motivation of the cylons. They seem at once omnipotent and incompetent. How could they run out of resources on New Caprica when they started off there with 15 base stars? What in the world are the others off doing that is so important? If they want peace with the humans, why not just leave 'em alone, stay off at a distance and say they're sorry, showering the colony with resources and crap?

Oh well, if everything were that easy, there wouldn't be a show.

Posted by Observer at 11:58 PM | Comments (2)

October 19, 2006

Unacceptable

President Bush increasingly finds things in this country and around the world "unacceptable". Athenae responds:

I rarely address myself directly to the president, because like he cares, and there's an analogy about singing and pigs that comes into play. Still, I've got to just say:

Don't like your toy country anymore, Mr. Bush? Coming around to the idea that the world's a lot crappier than it looks from the veranda in Kennebunkport, you privileged, condescending tool kit? People just not behaving the way you saw them in your head? Paper dolls are so much more fun, aren't they? They don't talk back, they aren't ungrateful for your benevolence, they don't insult your wife and children, and they look so fetching in their flat feathered hats.

The country kind of sucks right now? Wow. Welcome to our nightmare. Jump right in, the water's really warm. It's mostly from the sewage, but warmth is warmth, and with heating costs going the way they are, we can't be choosy. Unlike you, we don't have servants to call on when times get tight. We make do with what we've got.

More and more, Mr. President, you're reminding me of the tourist who goes to Guatemala or Jamaica and notes with utter shock the crushing poverty. I try to be patient with this kind of ignorance, because I know not everybody's up on geopolitical chessboards and stuff like that, but deep down something burns my ass about fat rich people in cocktail rings complaining that people by the side of the road are badgering them to buy woodcarvings, because that's what this is, sir, this whole, "how dare you be poor in my presence" attitude you're displaying. It's not even unworthy of you, because really, what did we expect, it's just gross.

I have to admit, it takes bigger balls than I thought you had to look around now and say yeah, man, this economy I've been lying my ass off about for six years really hasn't made everybody rich, and this war I started really hasn't made everybody free. Unacceptable? I'll tell you unacceptable. Thousands dead. Hundreds imprisoned. Military families on bread lines. Soldiers worried about paying for the food in the hospital they're in because of the leg they got shot off fighting your war. You want to talk unacceptable? Mom and Dad up all night trying to figure out how to keep their kids off the streets and in school while both of them work and still can't afford anything more than a shitty apartment with walls so thin they can hear the hooker next door screaming at her pimp. You want to talk unacceptable? Come to my town, Mr. President, walk around for a while. I'll show you unacceptable.

You want to talk unacceptable? Paying your pasty white boys from the Heritage Foundation and AEI in nice crisp C-notes to talk sanctimoniously about painting schools in Baghdad for people who deserve freedom when I can drive 30 minutes and show you a school with rusty grates on the windows and a hole in the roof, where the principal had to pay for the paint with his own money, and where the eighth grade class president will tell you he knows everybody in the towns around him thinks his school is lousy. You lean down and pet that nice kid, Mr. President, and then you talk to me about how frustrated you are about America today. You tell him I'll give you $20 to do it to his face that it was more important to declare a national day of prayer and to invade Iraq than to declare a national state of educatonal emergency and fix his school. Then you tell the rest of us we should really give a flying fuck about what you think your problems are. It's unacceptable? It's a disappointment? It's a real bummer?

SO ARE YOU.

Right on, doc! Another successful diagnosis!

Posted by Observer at 09:21 PM | Comments (1)

Syndication

Apparently, I've been syndicated for public radio.

Posted by Observer at 01:14 PM | Comments (2)

October 18, 2006

A Tale of Two Land Deals

Of the two questionable land deals recently pulled off by Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert...

Which one do you think is worse from an ethical (and possibly legal) standpoint?

Which one do you think is getting about 50 times more coverage on "liberal" news networks like CNN?

If you don't know, you haven't been paying attention.

This is the same "liberal" media that is frequently asking Democrats to pledge not to investigate the Bush administration if the Democrats win control of Congress.

Excuse me, but ... WHAT THE FUCK?!?

Posted by Observer at 06:53 PM | Comments (2)

October 16, 2006

Bad Beat Stories

Feel free to ignore, but I have to vent somewhere for mental health reasons.

I entered four tournaments today, just small ones, either 9 or 18 people. When these appear every few minutes or so, they tend to fill up in under 30 seconds, so it is a good opportunity for practice, and it usually takes on the order of 30-90 mins if you do well enough to stay alive to the final few.

First tournament I came in 2nd out 18, and the 1st place guy won legitimately. I had one chance to knock him out when he went all-in with A-9 vs my K-10, but he got an ace. He then went all-in with 8-8 against my A-K and won the whole deal, so that was a 50/50 thing.

Second tournament with about half the players gone, I got K-K on a medium stack, and another medium stack went all-in against me with A-2. Of course, an A came on the flop, and I was done. That's about, what, a 25% chance of getting beat? Not horrible, but still sucky.

Third tournament I got K-K again with a middling stack comparable to my opponent, and the flop was three blanks, not even two of the same suit, and I guy goes all-in against me with 2-2. The turn is a 2, and I'm out. That's about a 7 or 8% beat, a 2-outer.

Fourth tournament, I got Q-Q and was all-in after the flop came up with three blanks. All-in against K-J. The turn is a K, and again, I was out. At least that one was a three-outer instead of a two-outer.

This is why I only play for play money these days. Man, that kind of run will suck the life out of anyone, especially for real money.

The good news is that I rarely bust out of the tournament by making a mistake (calling or raising when it turns out the odds were against me), and those times when it does happen are getting less frequent, so I think I'm making progress skill-wise. I used one of my two dollars from last week's win to enter a dollar tournament, and I ended up placing about 95 out of 650 with the top 65 getting paid. That kinda sucked, but I was glad to get so far. I got knocked out on a mistake that time, ending up all-in with A-Q vs A-K.

The other frustrating thing about rarely making bad calls and so forth is that I don't get the fun of sucking out and delivering a bad beat to someone very often. Mostly on small pots when I have a huge stack and so can afford to speculate and drive the small stacks crazy.

Posted by Observer at 08:45 PM | Comments (2)

October 15, 2006

Brust

So I finished another "Star Wars" book, and while the quality is still half-decent following the trend of the last few books, I decided it is time for a break. Digging around on Amazon, I discovered that Brust has a new Vlad Taltos book out ("Dzur") that I didn't know about, so I promptly ordered the thing.

Let's see, the book sequence is Jhereg, Yendi, Teckla, Taltos, Phoenix, Athyra, Orca, Dragon, Issola, Dzur, so this is number 10 of the presumably 18 books that will be in the Vlad Taltos series. Don't worry, though, each book is a stand-alone, and the timeline isn't even in the same order that the books are published. Probably doesn't matter too much what order you read them in as long as you read Jhereg and Yendi first, I think.

Actually, I think now those first two are in an omnibus called "The Book of Jhereg", which is followed by two or three more omnibus books, each containing the next two in the series. And then there are the truly excellent Khaavren books set in a much earlier time in the same world (but with a few of the same characters because some of them live for thousands of years).

Anyway, there are a precious few authors out there that I will ever give the time to a re-reading. Brust is one of them, so I'm going to re-read the Vlad Taltos series before I read "Dzur". They're quick reads anyway, and I've been finding a bit more reading time lately. Tolkien is another that qualifies for the occasional do-over as well as Donaldson's Covenant series (which I know makes some people gag). A few others may come to mind, but I'm too tired to think right now.

Posted by Observer at 10:51 PM | Comments (5)

October 14, 2006

Star By Star

They screwed up.

After spending many books building up Han and Leia's youngest kid, Anakin, into the most interesting and likeable non-movie character, the powers that be made the call to kill him off in "Star by Star". Even halfway into the next book, it looked like there might be an outside chance he would come back from death, but reading further, no, it is final. He doesn't even get to come back as a ghost, I imagine.

Stupid and very disappointing. There were so many other major characters they could've killed off with an equal impact but without dramatically subtracting out one of the best characters, one of the few bright spots in what is now a rather plodding series (though it is improved from the first few books, all of which retold yet another story of refugees fleeing the enemy).

I'm getting ahead of myself in this review but only because that's the single most important fact about this book, a decision that was likely made completely outside of the framework the author had to work with. That said, Denning's book is almost as good as the previous entry in the series, which I liked the best of all the New Jedi Order books so far.

In this book, a new "Alien" style monster, with acid blood, super strong, force sensitive, etc. is created by the enemy to hunt down Jedi, so a lot of the younger generation goes on a sort of suicide mission to try to kill the queen to prevent further clones from being made (many, many logical holes here, one of the weaker parts of the book). They have to endure temporary captivity and torture, and it is all very dark and horrific, then they have to invade an enemy worldship and hunt through the whole thing for their target, all the while under attack.

Ultimately, as they near their goal, Anakin sacrifices himself after being severely wounded and goes out in a force-blaze of glory. It was a good death-scene. Too bad it had to be written. The other action here is interesting enough (the attack on on Coruscant finally takes place but the whole battle is similar to previous battles at beseiged worlds with a few new twists ... I'm glad Denning got to write it), but the bulk of the book follows the young Jedi.

It is somewhat darker than the previous (which is for the best ... worked well in the previous book) and a good read, but without the Anakin (and Tahiri) plot thread to follow, the Star Wars Universe just became less interesting. I do not trust this cabal of authors to make up for it with the usually annoying twins. Perhaps Luke and Mara's son, Ben, is meant to take Anakin's place, but I would've rather seen them together growing up.

Posted by Observer at 06:09 PM | Comments (0)

Color Me Shocked

According to several sources and a couple of different books out now, it appears that the Bush Administration doesn't give a crap about fundies. They actively insult, demean and dismiss them because they know how the rubes think, and they always do just enough to get their votes. "Just get some faith-based crap into a bill so we can pass it" is the philosophy.

And the jackals at "The Note" are making fun of media outlets that are daring to report on the book.

Anyone who didn't already know that Republicans and the Washington media work this way can pull their head out of their ass now.

Posted by Observer at 08:43 AM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2006

Sick House

M*chelle and D*niel both have the creeping crud now, though I'm about 95% over whatever I had. They're staying home with baby B*n tomorrow while I go teach. C*dy will escape this weekend to a church camp/retreat, and I hope he has fun and renews himself a little.

He's really letting school and the workload beat him down, and it is hard for me to understand since I was such an eager beaver student (teachers gave me extra credit to keep my smartass mouth occupied much of the time because I finished everything so quickly). I'm having to get a lot more strict with C*dy and Ashl*y about them filling out their daily planners in class and having the teachers check so I know what their homework is.

I was in a 10k play chip poker tournament tonight that started with 90 people. Everyone had 1500 chips, and the blinds started at 15/30 and increased to 20/40, 25/50, 30/60, 40/80, 50/100, 60/120, 80/160, etc. at that kind of pace every SIX minutes (usually not enough for once around a table of nine). I got myself up to about 2k in chips and then went to watch the DVR'ed Surviv*r with M*chelle. Came back 45 mins later to find I was still in it, 24 others left, and I had 600 chips with the blinds at 200/400.

Within about five hands, I had 10k in chips (some luck, but a lot of people were skittish when I started betting big after I had been asleep for so long, so I stole a lot of small bets with big raises on bluffs). Pretty soon, I was chip leader, and I held that lead pretty much straight through to the final table, but then I lost in heads-up play at the end with a 3:1 starting chip advantage.

Of all the big hands, he got lucky on about nine, and I got lucky on about three, and that was enough. I had him one card from elimination twice, and he rivered me both times. Oh well, still got a big payoff, and now I have 250k in play money so I can afford to enter in to the more serious play money tournaments where you don't get so many people going all-in at the drop of a hat early on.

Posted by Observer at 10:45 PM | Comments (1)

October 11, 2006

Sit and Go

Not playing ring games for money at the FTP site has led me to discover some of the other cool stuff there. My new favorite is freeroll tournaments, which let you qualify (if you are in the top 3 or top 9 or top 18 out of anywhere from 900-2000 people, depending on the tournament) for a tournament where you can win real money. I haven't qualified for anything yet because the tournaments take so long (usually 4-5 hours if you can last that long) that I rarely have time to commit, so I end up just going all-in after an hour just to see what happens.

In the tournaments I've had time to take seriously, I usually end up finishing in the top 25% or better, but of course, sometimes I get randomly knocked out early. Freeroll tournaments are sometimes hard to get into. They fill up fast and aren't always held at times that are good for me.

So I looked at their "Sit and Go" tournaments. They have these for play money and also for any amount of real money you care to buy in for, starting at a dollar. Once 18 (top 4 paid) or 90 (top 9 paid) or sometimes as few as 9 (winner paid) sign up, the tournament begins, and the play money tournaments fill up sometimes within 30 seconds. The cheap ones fill up within a few minutes. The blinds go up faster than a regular tournament, so there's a little more randomness, but it is a great way to practice tournaments.

Most people seem to take them seriously, even for play money, much more so than the play money ring games, and I like them because everyone starts at the same level. Plus they last a couple of hours or less, which is a much more reasonable block of time. If you want a more serious free tournament, you earn yourself enough play money (everyone starts with 1000 and can reload almost at will, so if you have less than 10k play money, you can really only play at tables where people are going all-in all the time for fun), and you can play at the higher "buy ins" with more serious players.

I'm having more fun now playing freerolls and play money tournaments than I had when I was playing in real money nickel/dime ring games. Part of it is because the rapidly increasing blinds force me to play more loose so I'm involved in more hands. Part of it is because I hate to lose money a lot more than I like winning money. If the federal law to ban funding poker accounts ends up being enforced, that may work out fine for me, because I can still play for money if I want to by using my tournament winnings in freerolls (assuming I win any more and that first one wasn't a fluke).

Posted by Observer at 07:50 AM | Comments (0)

October 10, 2006

Cowboy Thoughts

Sure, it was disappointing to lose to the Iggles, but anyone who didn't have that game marked down as an "L" in the pre-season needed to tap the brakes on the Cowboy Super Bowl Parade plans just a bit anyway. For me, the bottom line on that game is that we committed, what, FIVE turnovers, and the defense gave up some really freaky big plays, and our QB had a rating in the 30's and the coaching staff called plays like they didn't know a blitz was coming every other play.

And we were STILL throwing for the endzone to tie it with 45 seconds to go and a first down on their six yard line.

To me, that tells me we're good enough to play crappy and still hang in games. Same thing happened in the season opener in Jacksonville. This isn't a team that's going to get blown out, and they'll mash the lesser teams (like the Texans and the Giants, the next two we play).

I figure in two more weeks, we'll be 4-2, and everyone will be happy again (Dallas fans, anyway). We aren't the Bears by any stretch, but at least we'll be playoff competitive this season, prolly ending up 10-6 or 11-5. We might even improve enough by then to give the Bears a game if we meet 'em, but I'm not that optimistic yet.

Posted by Observer at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

October 09, 2006

Sudden Disinterest

Boy, I remember the day when a politician would get on national television, answer a question about a current, hot political scandal, and brazenly, unapologetically lie. I remember the day when people (including the traditional media) really cared about that. I remember the day when reporters would ask tough, aggressive questions to drive the point home about how egregious and awful the lie was.

Not anymore.

Of course, people would tell me, well, of course the media doesn't care about lies like those that led to the Iraq war or lies about economic or tax policy. Too complicated! No one cares. Now if the scandal involved SEX, they would tell me, THEN people would care about the lies.

I think how the lie is treated depends on whether you have a (D) or (R) after your name.

I guess we'll see.

Posted by Observer at 03:10 PM | Comments (1)

Welcome to the Nuclear Club

Well, looks like North Korea has the bomb now. As with any abject failure of the Bush administration, wingnuts are scrambling to blame it all on Clinton. As usual, history indicates otherwise. That is, assuming you are willing to assign blame to any American administration instead of putting the blame where it belongs: on the nutty fascist who controls North Korea.

I swear, how is it possible to discuss politics while ignoring the fact that Republicans have controlled all three branches of the government for almost the entirety of the past six years? Times like these separate the lapdog Bush-supporters from the true, honest conservatives who realize that our foreign policy for the past six years has been a string of humiliating failures.

Posted by Observer at 09:08 AM | Comments (2)

October 08, 2006

Tilted

Well, my online poker skill in the long run wasn't good enough to keep up with the rake at the nickel/dime level, so over the course of about a month, I lost a total of fifty bucks (the rate of loss definitely got slower as the month went on and I got better ... my game has definitely improved from playing all of this poker). I have no intention of reloading, in part because it would be stupid to do so and keep losing money but also because around the end of the month, I discovered tournaments. The FTP site runs tournaments all the time, and many of them are freerolls or for play money.

In these tournaments, the number of players is limited to anywhere from 600 to 2400 (usually 900 or 1800) and everyone starts with 1500 chips. The blinds start at 15/30 and go up every ten minutes, so that really increases the randomness. You can't play too tight or the blinds will just eat you up. I had some decent success in practice tournaments, often finishing in the top half or top third, but after about ten tournaments, that's about as high as I could get.

Finally, Saturday I had played enough for cash (before I lost my bankroll) that I had qualified for a fairly lucrative tournament with about 2000 players qualified and prizes for the top 500 finishers. Within 15 mins I had K-J of diamonds, and the flop came with two diamonds plus a King. I called a small bet and then a third diamond came on the turn. I ended up all-in against a guy who had A-K (Ace of diamonds).

So he was betting big with top pair, top kicker, which I find is a great way to win lots of small pots and lose a few giant pots. Unfortunately, though he had only six outs, he pulled off a diamond on the river and knocked me out quickly. Sucks, but that's poker. I like Doyle's philosophy on tournaments, which goes something like, "It's basically a big lottery, but the better you are, the more tickets you hold." Almost every time I'm busted out of the tournament, it is on a hand that I have played correctly, that I have the advantage, am all-in, and I get drawn out on, so sooner or later, I figure I'll get further.

Well, today, I entered into a freeroll with 900 others in which the top 18 finishers get two bucks. This was my first one. They're very hard to get into because the registration opens about an hour before it starts, and it fills in under a minute. You have to be on top of things to get in, and I never am. Top two get 3 and 5 bucks, respectively. I finished 5th and had a lot of fun, and now I have two bucks with which I can enter two different one dollar buy-in tournaments (which are a lot more lucrative if I place so high, obviously).

I understand that before the Republicans left town to try to defend covering up Foley's crap (or blame it on Democrats), they passed a federal law making it a lot more difficult to fund online poker accounts. No real issue for me since I don't intend to fund my account any further than the initial buy-in (won't need to if I can keep doing well in the twice-daily $40 freeroll), but a lot of people are pissed about it. I doubt most of them were intending to vote Republican anyway.

Posted by Observer at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

October 07, 2006

The More You Know...

You know, it seems like the more we find out about the Foley story, the more we discover that pretty much everyone in America EXCEPT FOR DEMOCRATS knew what was going on with Foley and said nothing.

Republicans: what a bunch of gutless, immoral cowards.

Posted by Observer at 10:08 PM | Comments (0)

Like Riding a Bicycle

House Speaker Denny Hastert participating in a cover-up for a sexual predator? Why the surprise? After all, this isn't the first time.

This kind of thing is just what Republicans do with power. Simple as that.

Posted by Observer at 09:08 AM | Comments (0)

Train Wreck In Progress

So how is the ultra-super-duper-liberal "Clinton News Network" covering the Foley scandal? By endlessly repeating Republican talking points.

What a surprise.

Posted by Observer at 08:11 AM | Comments (2)

October 06, 2006

The Friedman Unit

Atrios explains the "Friedman Unit" for those unfamiliar with the Iraq debate:

I know regulars understand this, but for those coming in late and wondering what all the discussion of Friedman Units of time is about, it began with FAIR pointing out that Friedman was forever labeling the next six months in Iraq as a critical, decisive time. But the real issue isn't about prognostication, but about the perpetual punting of The Iraq Question to a future date. It allows the pundit, or politician, to seem Real Concerned About The War without actually bothering to take it seriously.

George Bush is president. He is incompetent and a bit nuts. He is in charge of running the war. One half an F.U. or a full F.U. or even four F.U.s from now things in Iraq will be pretty much as they are, only a bit worse. If you are concerned about things in Iraq you'll stop furrowing your brow while pontificating about how we're, once again, At A Really Critical Moment, and start accepting the fact that the only thing which could possibly improve things is new leadership. This involves, at the very least: the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld and his replacement by a competent person, the resgination of Condi Rice and her replacement by a competent person, the permanent relegation of Dick Cheney to an undisclosed location far away from any actual power to make decisions, the replacement of the current military leadership who have been chosen for their loyalty to their incompetent civilian leaders, and the election of Democrats to Congress who can hopefully engage in some of the meaningful oversight that the Republicans have shown no interest in having in order to force some of these changes.

I didn't back this war, but those who did have an extra moral responsibility to the troops they sent there, their families, and the people of Iraq to prevent President Bush from continuing his incompetent leadership there. But most of them don't. They continue to punt the issue one F.U. at a time, while their little sociopathic brains dream of ponies.

One F.U. from now, what are you going to suggest we do differently? If you don't have a realistic answer to that, then I politely suggest you S.T.F.U.

You've got to be kidding. Not knowing what the fuck they're talking about has never shut up a wingnut.

Posted by Observer at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)

October 05, 2006

Desperation, Thy Name Is Wingnut

The local paper printed some letters this morning in response to the Foley scandal. Two different wingnuts wrote in, having listened to too much Rush, apparently. Forgetting for the moment that their talk radio guardian of morality was last seen returning from an island haven for underage prostitutes with a bottle full of Viagra, these wingnuts did what wingnuts do best: repeat the talking points of their leader.

That is to say, they blamed the whole Foley scandal on Democrats. Nevermind that, as the facts currently stand, it looks like Democrats were pointedly kept OUT of the loop on the page board and by the Republican leadership, which has known about this problem in some form or other for perhaps over a decade. No, all that's important here is the timing. This close to an election, it must be a "Democrat conspiracy"!

Surely, the letter writers indicated, it will be found out that a Democrat is behind this scandal, having sat on it for months only to wait until just before the election to spring it. Surely a Democrat was the one who originally leaked this to the media last week. Oops! Turns out it was a Republican former page, who is still a registered Republican.

Oh well, don't let any facts get in the way, wingnuts! Just make up a new theory! Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, surely knew about this all along, right? I mean, if the only Democrat on the page board didn't know, then Pelosi MUST know, right? Right??? And, hey, Barney Frank! Remember Barney Frank! And some guy did something similar 25 years ago who was a Democrat! Remember that! That makes it all better!

Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars, wingnuts. It's so fun to watch you struggle desperately.

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

October 04, 2006

False Note

Eric Boehlert has written a great review of a new book out by the authors of the Beltway Conventional Wisdom site, "The Note", which Boehlert criticized with devastating effect in his recent book, which I reviewed here. This kind of analysis goes to show you why claims of "liberal media" provoke bitter laughter among those of us who are actually, you know, liberal:

The Way to Win is basically a book about Bush and Rove and how they were able to manufacture Republican wins in 2000, 2002, and 2004, and how they've outclassed Democrats. It's also a book where the 2000 Florida recount barely exists, while the events of 9-11 and the invasion of Iraq are of only passing interest. Meaning, it's a book that purposefully lacks context. That way its authors -- both longtime Rove and Bush admirers -- can argue with straight faces it was the combined genius of the two men that secured victories over hapless and overmatched Democrats, not the United States Supreme Court or a manufactured wartime culture.

Indeed, Halperin and Harris elevate the act of playing dumb to Olympian heights. Note how they fawn over Bush and Rove in 2000 for deftly handling curiosity about the candidate's previous drug use by simply announcing they would not answer reporters' questions on that touchy subject. Good Lord, why didn't Clinton's War Room think of that in '92 when its candidate was nearly driven out the race over the issue of youthful drug use? According to Halperin and Harris, apparently all Clinton had to do during the destructive press orgy was do what Bush later did, which was show "fortitude," "discipline," and "steadfast commitment" and pull off the "daring" strategy" to not answer any questions and the press would have respected the Democrats' privacy and backed off.

Now they tell us.

And remember Whitewater? Well, Halperin and Harris don't. The duo devotes an entire chapter detailing Clinton's often troubled first term in office, yet the phrase "Whitewater" never appears in print there. Keep in mind that reproducing The Washington Post's library of breathless Whitewater stories printed during Clinton's first term would likely fill three volumes the size of The Way to Win, while ABC's Whitewater archives could fill a weekend of around-the-clock coverage. But for Halperin and Harris, the story, and the media's absolutely central role in keeping alive a Republican-generated hoax about a long-ago real estate deal, goes down the memory hole. How's that for a "Trade Secret"?

Clinton gets off easy compared to Kerry, whose 2004 campaign Halperin and Harris hold up to constant ridicule and use as prime example of how Democrats didn't have the smarts to right a damaged ship. Of course, the Kerry camp made missteps, but in this polite retelling, the press is essentially blameless.

Incredibly, Halperin and Harris pick up right where the mainstream media left off in 2004, telling blatantly dishonest tales about Kerry's war record. The two insist that "in any year, the complexities and puzzles about Kerry's life in Vietnam and his subsequent return as a prominent leader would have been subject to widespread attention in the Old Media." What "puzzles"? Kerry went to Vietnam, served honorably, won medals, came home, and, like thousands of fellow vets, became disenchanted with the war and protested it. What, exactly, is puzzling about that? And where's the proof the "Old Media" would have subjected the story to widespread attention, given the fact that during 2000 the "Old Media" completely ignored the "complexities and puzzles" about Bush's Texas Air National Guard service?

Rather than offering any fresh insight into the distasteful Swift Boat chapter, Halperin and Harris simply regurgitate the preferred corporate media storyline. For instance, the two write, "The Swift Boaters pointed out authentic flaws and contradictions in some of Kerry's assertions about his war service," and then promptly fail to specify a single assertion that the partisan Swifties proved to be flawed.

The irony is thick but nonetheless completely lost on Halperin and Harris; their slanted, lazy restating of the Swift Boat story is precisely the kind of reporting that helped doom the Kerry campaign.

The two habitually misrepresent recent elections in order to slavishly adhere to their talking points that Bush and Co. have cracked the campaign code. Read this:

This means that no one (NO ONE!) is immune to this Trade Secret: The fight for every presidential nominee and every general election campaign dredges up past votes, quotes, actions, and inactions from everyone who runs for president, no matter what rough-and-tumble political scrutiny they previously have endured.

Really? A quick history lesson: Looking to raise money to pay off his investment in the Texas Rangers baseball team, Bush sold two-thirds of his Harken Energy stock on June 22, 1990, for $4 a share and pocketed $848,560. In short order, Harken quickly announced that for the quarter ending June 30, 1990, it had lost $23 million, dwarfing the company's previous largest loss. Right after Bush sold his shares, Harken stock was trading for just $1. Critics wondered whether Bush, a member of Harken's three-person audit committee, sold his stock knowing the company was about to announce huge losses. Adding to his troubles, Bush then waited 34 weeks before filing forms with the SEC notifying it of his insider stock sales.

Think back again to Halperin and Harris's "Trade Secret" about how every detail from a candidates' past gets dredged up, because here's how many times during the 2000 general election race The New York Times raised questions about Bush's 1990 sweetheart deal with Harken Energy: 0. The Washington Post? 0. The Chicago Tribune? 0. ABC News? 0. NBC News? 0. CBS News? 0. CNN? 0.

You get the idea.

And here's how utterly bored the press was with the topic of Bush, with fleshing out his policies or filling in a portrait of the man: More than one year after the Texas governor announced his run for president and one week before Election Day, David Broder at The Washington Post casually mentioned to readers "there was little public knowledge of Bush's record and little understanding of his major proposals." [Emphasis added.] Broder did not suggest there was anything odd about that.

Broder and company certainly had no interest in the story of Bush's mysterious service in the Texas Air National Guard. Halperin and Harris insist that "for a variety of reasons" the press looked away from that story in 2000. But why? Halperin and Harris are mostly mum. Despite the fact the two worked for major news organizations during the 2000 campaign and could presumably offer up some insight as to what the "variety of reasons" were that the press gave Bush an unprecedented pass regarding the gaping holes in his personal biography, Halperin and Harris refuse to do so, since that would mean raising uncomfortable questions about their employers, ABC News and The Washington Post, which, you guessed it, ignored the story in 2000 and made major blunders while trying to cover it, belatedly, in 2004. [...]

The Bush National Guard story was born and bred in Old Media; on the front page of The Boston Globe, May 23, 2000, to be exact. After combing through 160 pages of military documents and interviewing Bush's former commanders (every quote in the story was on-the-record), reporter Walter Robinson detailed how Bush's flying career came to an abrupt and unexplained end in the spring of 1972 when Bush asked to be transferred from his Texas unit to an Alabama unit so he could work on a Senate campaign there. But Bush did not show up for drills in Alabama and by most indications never returned to serve with his Texas unit either. He simply walked away from his military obligation with nearly two years still remaining. The press corps remained nonplussed. During the 2000 campaign The New York Times published just two references to the Globe investigation into Bush's often no-show Guard service. And the paper was not alone. Just seven days after the Globe story ran, MSNBC's Chris Matthews sat down with candidate Bush for an entire hour and refused to raise the troubling National Guard questions documented in the Globe article. That's how committed the press was to ignoring the story.

Halperin and Harris make another half-hearted attempt to explain the deafening press silence on the matter by praising the Bush campaign for its "helpful" rapid and accurate press response to whatever inquiries about the Guard story did come up during Bush's run for the White House. Halperin and Harris emphasize a key "Trade Secret": "Have all your facts in a row for rapid response when a story breaks." They clearly suggest the Bush team did just that with regard to the bubbling Guard story.

Consider the less flattering reality, which the writing team dutifully ignores:

* In July 1999, Bush aides told The Houston Chronicle "such a transfer [to Alabama] was not unusual, and the Bush campaign says it was for the same flying job he held in Texas." That was patently false. Bush transferred to a unit that did not have the F-102 aircraft he was qualified to pilot, which meant, of course, Bush did not continue to fly in Alabama. The evidence suggests Bush never even showed up to do required drills with his Alabama unit.

* In Bush's 1999 autobiography, A Charge to Keep, he claimed that after completing Guard flight training in June 1970, "I continued flying with my unit for the next several years." [Emphasis added.] In fact, Bush stopped flying with his unit just 22 months after completing his training.

* In 1999, Bush spokeswoman Karen Hughes told reporters the GOP candidate missed his mandatory Guard physical because he was working on the Alabama campaign and had no access to the "special" doctors who performed the examinations. Wrong. Bush could have gotten an exam either at his base in Texas or at any of several Alabama Air National Guard installations in and around Montgomery.

* In 1999, Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett insisted Bush had reported to a Massachusetts Guard unit in order to fulfill his duty while attending Harvard Business School in 1974. Years later, Bartlett admitted he "misspoke" in the face of clear evidence that Bush made no effort whatsoever to serve out his Guard term while living in the Boston area.

* In 2000, Bartlett told The Boston Globe that Bush failed to take a required military physical because, "[a]s he was not flying, there was no reason for him to take a flight physical exam." That contradicted the Air Force Specialty Code, which required physicals be taken regardless of flight status.

Yet today, Halperin and Harris pretend the National Guard story never gained traction with reporters because the Bush camp was timely -- and accurate -- with its responses. It's purposefully dishonest analysis like that that makes The Way to Win such a dispiriting read. And if you haven't already, the book will make you wonder about the long-term health of American journalism.

I gave up on traditional American journalism back in the 1980's, a time reported on by Mark Hertsgaard in On Bended Knee, when I was old enough to be politically aware and realized how painfully harmful and corrosive the media was to the whole political process, nationally and locally. Ironically, that's about the time I started hearing "liberal media bias" regularly from wingnuts, and I've been patiently waiting for it to happen ever since as the media has slanted further and further into the rightward/corporate quadrant and away from the liberal/government quadrant of politics.

It's easy to "prove" the media of being liberal. Just take an issue like immigration or the death penalty or crime or taxes or whatever, read the paper and find out who they're quoting. DEFINE that viewpoint as liberal and/or way out of the mainstream (it is especially fun to do this if the vast majority of Americans believe something, such that Bush misled us into the war with Iraq), and then you've proven your case.

That's why any discussion I begin that deals with claims of "liberal media" start with my asking the accuser to define a "liberal" and a "conservative" position on the topic at hand. If you don't take care to do that first, the accuser will simply read the sample of stories from the media and then use a reverse definition to ensure that the media fits the liberal label.

Posted by Observer at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2006

Sins of Omission

Bob Woodward's book is apparently causing quite a stir, continuing the meme that has finally caught on after five years: Bush fucked up and has primary responsibility for 9/11. After all these years of ConservaBorg trying to blame Clinton, it looks like not only are people actually reading the 9/11 Commission report, but they're also looking at other sources and realizing that, yes, the Bush administration had their collective thumb up their ass while Al Qaeda was planning to hit us.

The latest wrinkle is that George Tenet is saying he gave an urgent briefing to Condi Rice in July 2001 that she brushed off. She tried to say yesterday that such a briefing never happened, but oops! multiple sources within the administration say that it did (why was it left out of the official 9/11 commission report, we don't know, but panel members are saying now that Tenet told them this and backed it up).

Tenet said he was instructed to give further briefings to others, including John Ashcroft, who got all huffy and said he never got a briefing because Tenet didn't care enough to bother. Except oops! right around that time, for some odd reason in July 2001, Ashcroft stopped flying commerical airlines and started taking government charter flights everywhere. Of course he got briefed.

They all got briefed. They were all told in no uncertain terms what was going on, but they simply had other priorities. After five years, I have to say it is about fucking time the traditional media buried everyone's noses in the stink of this harsh reality. Should've fucking happened during the presidential campaign of 2004, but everyone was too worried about Kerry being a coward for fighting heroically in Vietnam while the Boy King screwed around protecting the shores in Texas.

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

October 02, 2006

Freaky Foley

Hunter has some good comments on the whole Foley story that broke over the weekend. Basically, this Republican weasel from Florida has been a sexually harassing predator (and quite probably worse) with the teenage pages in Congress, and he resigned when all of this surfaced Friday. But apparently, the Republican House leadership (and who knows who else, but we'll find out, I hope) has known about this for a year and said nothing.

All they care about is staying in power. Right and wrong don't matter. Scaring the hell out of people? Fine. Shredding the constitution? No problem. Keeping troops in harm's way in Iraq until after the elections? Sure thing! Covering up for a sexual predator? Of course!

You know, this is a very basic issue. The House leadership knew about -- and covered up for -- a child sex predator inside their very building. There's no goddamn "spin" that's going to make that go away. And in talking with other parents, I have to tell you -- anyone who is a parent is out for blood on this one. We can "disagree" over whether or not America should torture prisoners. We can "dispute" whether or not the President should be allowed to classify American citizens as "terrorists" based only on his own say-so, and lock them away without evidence or trial. We can "argue" over whether or not Tom DeLay's money laundering and the money laundering that has a goodly portion of the rest of the Republican House locked in ongoing scandal and indictment was only accidentally criminal, or astonishingly criminal.

But in the end, at the end of it all, you don't FUCKING COVER UP FOR A CHILD SEX PREDATOR. No. Matter. What.

What part of that do these people still not understand? I'm straight-up serious, here -- how do you get to the point where you are that depraved, that you think a man soliciting sexual information and meetings from sixteen year old kids over the internet -- and meeting them in person -- is "just another scandal"? Tony Snow? Brit Hume? Any of you folks, you wanna take that one on?

Hastert had better figure out damn quick that the rest of the country isn't messing around on this one. I don't know exactly how he got his GOP-style version of "morality" so twisted and decomposed that even this doesn't faze him, but he had better at least have the common sense to stand the hell out of the way.

He'd have to have some decency within him for that. Not a chance.

Posted by Observer at 05:09 PM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2006

Wingnut Whiners

When I work out at the local Y a couple of times a week, they have four TV's that are visible to most of the gym. Most exercise machines have a little headphone jack that allow you to "tune in" to any of the four TV's with a little changer switch. Two of the TV's are always on a major network (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox), one is always news (usually Fox News) and one is always sports (usually ESPN).

The other night about halfway through my workout, one of the desk managers came out to the floor and said, "Is anyone watching this TV with CNN on it? I had a complaint at the desk, and someone wants to change it over to Fox News." Now seeing Fox News everywhere does genuinely annoy me, but I don't bother complaining about it. To me, it's like going into a bookstore and seeing a new Ann Coulter book prominently displayed.

I'm not going to go over there and turn around all the books or try to hide them or something. It's none of my business how the bookstore chooses to market things. If I don't like it, I don't have to shop there. I will admit that I *have* seen liberal books (especially any of Al Franken's books) hidden or evidently turned over and stacked behind something by a wingnut, but seeing that happen to a conservative book is much more rare.

Maybe this is just a bunch of anecdotal evidence that doesn't add up to anything, but to me, it reveals the general conservative and authoritarian censorship mindset, and it is truly sad. These people are so insecure in their beliefs that they feel the need to squash or suppress other points of view, but boy they sure sound cocksure in their letters to the editor.

Anyway, the issue at the gym was resolved when I suggested instead (after wondering loudly why the hell anyone would care that much) that the CNN broadcast, instead of being changed to Fox News, instead be changed to a local football game of interest. A few other guys around me agreed wholeheartedly, and the desk manager was very happy to find a compromise that would keep the wingnut whiner's favorite TV network in the whole wide world off the TV.

I wonder if the desk manager gets just as many requests to turn off Fox News as to turn it on. I never watch any of the TV's, so I don't really care all that much. Headphones make my ears sweat, and I'd rather read a good (or bad) book while I'm exercising.

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