John Cole has a funny post today regarding the Republican YouTube debate. See, Republicans have mostly backed out of this debate, not willing to entertain questions from selected people out there like the Dems. They much prefer some traditional media spokesperson tossing them softballs so as not to appear overly biased. Very similar to Bush's public gatherings, not open to the public but rather to hand-picked supporters. Scary, really, just how cowardly our leaders are when confronted with tough questions from normal people.
Anyway, wingnuts agree that the YouTube questions would be super scary for Republicans, and they figure it would be okay if only wingnuts with real wingnut cred got to ask questions. Cole proposes a few questions they might ask, and commenters throw in a few more. It makes for a fun read, though parody is awfully close to reality here.
Mr. Romney, how much worse than Osama bin Laden are the Democrats? A lot, a whole lot, or oodles?
Mr. Giuliani, if Obama is elected, will he declare defeat in Iraq and withdraw our troops before surrendering to Iran, or will he surrender to Iran first?
Mr. Romney, if Hillary is elected President, how long do you think it will be before she institutes a policy of forced abortions and mandates the Quran be taught in schools?
I’m a completely independent, undecided voter, and my question is, can you explain why Democrats hate America?
George W. Bush – Great President, or Greatest President ever?
A lot of formerly pro-war pundits are adding a new disclaimer to the front of columns in which they discuss Iraq. Suddenly, despite their consistent cheerleading for the war and the Bush administration, we find that they style themselves as "harsh critics of the war and the administration". Glenn Greenwald has the hilarious chapter-and-verse rundown on one offender.
I find it pretty ironic that, in order to claim some measure of credibility, pundits are now trying to assert they've held a position that they've spent the last four years mocking as "fringe" or "not serious" or whatever their polite term is for dirty fucking hippies among wingnuts these days.
This is a microcosm of the current Republican primary, and it is maddening but also laughable (like a child throwing a temper tantrum). They know that in order to win, they have to represent "change" because a huge majority feels everything in the country is on the wrong track. But to represent change, they have to criticize the Boy King, and people have spent the last four years accusing Bush critics of treason.
I'm looking forward to the first debate in which a candidate tries to answer the question, "Can you name the biggest three mistakes of the Bush administration, and what you would have done differently?" Then the next day, we'll get to see a petulant Bush react to the beginning of the right-wing attempts to write his legacy.
That went all right. I played a lot more hands than usual, and I hit on a few things. Still, most of my money was won with solid hands, and much of my money was pissed away calling the blind or small raise pre-flop with a marginal hand.
I was down 100 early thanks to having a smaller full house in Omaha (and my low hand didn't make), but I clawed back above water after a couple more hours (mostly thanks to making people pay for unlikely draws that didn't make). I ended the night up 30, and I'm pretty sure I didn't give away any of my hands too early by physical tells. I'm sure my play is predictable enough without that added problem.
I got away with one big bluff that won me about a 60 dollar pot, which I think is the first time I've won a hand with this group on a bluff. I probably should've showed that, just to scramble up my table-image a little bit.
I played poker with the group my brother is in a few weeks ago. The first couple of times back with that group after a long absence, I played super-tight and broke even both times. This time, I tried to loosen up a little bit and play some more speculative hands like small connectors or one-gappers, suited or not. I would only do this about one time in five or six times I got such a hand, even if it was for a small raise pre-flop, just to try to be a little more unpredictable and participate in a few more hands.
I can't say that the strategy really worked for me since the only two hands I won much with all night were like QJ suited or AJ suited when I flopped a straight or two pair or something. The real problem was that I played poorly. Once a had made a nut flush and had a 60 dollar pot coming my way when a guy to my right raised it up another 10 on the river. I stupidly said something that basically gave away my hand, re-raised, and cost myself a chance at the rest of his stack (he had a straight). I did that at least one other time during the night, and I'm not sure why. Normally, I'm pretty good about shutting up during a hand, but maybe I was just tired.
I'm going to try again tomorrow night and see if I can't at least play decently.
In other news, M*chelle and I are thinking about taking a little trip down to Austin to spend most of the day Saturday and the first half of Sunday. Still not 100% sure we have the babysitting covered, and we're also not sure exactly what we'll do or where we'll stay, but we're in the early planning stages. It's basically the closest thing we'll get to a summer vacation ... about 30 hours long if we're lucky, and a fair part of that will be the drive.
Our oldest, Just*n, left today for a week-long running camp. He's very very very excited, talking our ears off all week about it. Our 13-year-old, C*dy, is going to a water sports camp for four days near the end of this week. The 15-year-old, Ashl*y, already had her camp back in June. Next summer, we should be able to afford to send C*dy and Ashl*y to two or three camps each since we'll be participating in more fund-raisers like parking lot duty for football games and the like. That's a great way to subsidize camps that they take through our church.
J*stin will have graduated high school at that point, knock on wood, and he'll be hunting for a summer job prior to college, I suppose. I'm thinking with his academics, it's going to have to be a vocational school or a bunch of remedial community college courses before he can handle a four-year major in anything at a respectable university. He's not sure yet what he wants to do.
For all I know, he's thinking about joining the military but too worried we'll get on him for it. I've told him it is his decision no matter what but that we would certainly express an opinion about it. I can't imagine how outraged I would be at our fucking incompetent ass of a president if I had a son in the military in Iraq, not to mention all of his chickenhawk college Republican supporters who are of fighting age but want other people to back up their full-throated calls for war with whatever is the country-villain-du-jour.
When I'm looking for some good snarky political humor, I usually need look no further than the comment section of any of Joke Line's posts on Time's blog. It's especially fun, then, when a real professional gets hold of Klein and starts shaking him around like a dog toy.
To give you some idea of the pathology of Joke Line, you may recall a few weeks ago I posted about immigration and corporate vs government policies. I got a critical comment, which started a brief discussion which ended with us agreeing about most everything.
Imagine instead I had responded by saying, "What is your bizarre obsession with me anyway?" and then simply avoided the points raised by the critic.
This is essentially what Joke Line does on a daily basis, and he is highly paid to do it. That's why it is so fun to watch him get kicked around by his betters.
No spoilers, I promise.
I finished book seven, and it was great. Everything I hoped for. That's really all that needs to be said about the book, isn't it?
I hope Rowling keeps writing. I don't really care what she writes, I'm sure it will be good.
The problem for her now is that everyone will want more from the same world as the Harry Potter series. Will she keep writing what everyone wants, or will she go off and try to do something completely different just to prove she can?
Stephen Donaldson, who wrote the Covenant series I love so much (and a lot of other people hate), had a similar problem. He REALLY got fed up with people asking him for more Covenant stuff, but he eventually kinda gave in (and saved face by pretending he was struck with some sudden inspiration that had eluded him all these years) and is writing a new series.
Whether or not he pulls it off and makes it as good as the first six books, it is interesting just to see how much he has changed over the years and what he wants to do with his world now. I'm looking forward to something like that from Rowling in maybe 10 or 20 years. It would be great to see her do another series in the same world after she's had some years to think of new ideas.
By the way, if you do want some spoilers, you can go back and read my comments about the sixth book (I'll let you find 'em because if you work to find the link instead of just having it sitting here under your mouse arrow, then you can't blame me!). Then you can decide after reading the seventh book just how well I predicted things.
I took the two older boys to the Rangers-M's doubleheader yesterday. Wow, what a perfect day. 86 degrees, a light breeze, and I choose the seats carefully to ensure we'd be in the shade the whole time without being under an overhang on the 2nd deck. I've now been to three games in July at the Ballpark and not sweated once, not to mention we are nearing the end of July this summer without me having to water the yard even once! I can't remember a summer with better weather around here. Too bad I've been too busy to build the damned shed, but I'll have to bite the bullet on that soon.
I can't believe the Rangers won both games, especially given the A-ball lineup we trotted out for the first game. Our 6-7-8-9-1 hitters in that game had a COMBINED slugging percentage of maybe 1.000. I think it was Desi Relaford hitting eighth who finished the game with a crisp SLG rating of .115. Surely, surely, we could bring the corpse of Felix Fermin out of retirement, and he'd do better than that. You can't tell me there isn't a better minimum-wage utility guy sitting at home waiting for a phone call.
What a huge desert in our lineup. I can't believe we actually scored two runs, but it held up. We played our regular, unimpressive lineup in the nightcap and won that, too, thanks to one of our usually underperforming rookies going nuts (4-for-4) and driving in a couple of runs. Gagne saved both games, even after throwing 25 pitches last night.
The only bad thing about it was that Lofton, Texeira, Gagne, Sosa and a few others were actually in the lineup. Let's go ahead and trade 'em already so that the future might look a hair better.
The two boys had a good time and both blew through the twenty bucks I loaned them on various snacks and drinks. We also got a bunch more two-dollar t-shirts, including some for M*chelle and her mom who is visiting for another few weeks. The only sour note on the night was the six-dollar Italian sausage I bought that tasted like a 10-cent hot dog left out on the kitchen counter for three days. I only took a second bite because I couldn't believe how bad the first bite tasted, and then it went in the trash. I feel fortunate to have lived through the night with a tiny piece of that in my system.
The busy part of summer is finally over, and now comes the optionally busy part in which I use my free time to do some projects that will help me get ahead for the Fall, like updating my class web page and writing a bunch of exams ahead of time where possible.
I bought book seven on Saturday, and M*chelle has been reading it more or less every waking moment while she has been recovering from her surgery. She's taking today off and should be back to work at least part time tomorrow. I've only gotten to read the first few chapters while she napped, and I'm trying to be very careful about reading anything anywhere that might constitute a spoiler.
I hurt my damned arm trying to blow a fastball by the computer in Wii baseball, so I'm out of action for a few days. Dammit. Guess I'll stick to golf next time since there's a limit to how hard you ought to swing. Seems damned hard, though.
I bought book 7. M*chelle is spending her horizontal recovery time reading it while I finish book 6.
M*chelle is home now. The surgery went smoothly, although it was delayed by a few hours for unknown reasons (probably her Ob/Gyn who was performing it had a surprise delivery show up or something). We were able to leave the hospital four or five hours after the surgery, and our patient is now in bed with me giving her pain meds as often as the prescription allows.
I'm about 20% in to the sixth book, so with the seventh book coming out here in approximately an hour, it doesn't look like I'll make it in time. I should be able to find a copy tomorrow, and I'll definitely dive in as soon as I can. I'd hate to run across spoilers inadvertantly.
About 24 hours to go before the 7th book is out, and I'm not even finished with book five. Oh well, at least the summer will be sane now that this week is over.
Four more days until the double-header. I hope the weather is ok for that.
M*chelle is having minor surgery (tubal ligation) tomorrow, so she'll be sort of incapacitated for a few days and slowly recovering through next week.
We are now Wii-tards. After calling every Gamest*p in a 10 mile radius of our house (quite a few, actually) every day for about a week, I finally stumbled upon one today that just got a shipment of Wii systems in. I drove over there right away and found two people in line ahead of me, both also purchasing a Wii. By the time I got to the front of the line, there were three remaining in the store. I don't doubt the last two were gone shortly after I left.
Mich*lle and I presented it to the kids, and they are currently putting it all together in the upstairs gameroom. No games besides Wii Sports yet. Since we sprung for the Wii, the kids are going to spring for any additional games or controllers. I'm sure the Wii Pokem*n game is going to be the first purchase when C*dy builds up some cash.
These past couple of weeks, I've had very little time to surf blogs, which means less time to get worked up over political crap and thus fewer blog entries. I'm just too busy to get mad and spend an hour burrowing into some subject and following links to get informed, so I don't bother starting.
Tomorrow, both of the pugs are going in for a much-needed dental appointment. I drop them off in the morning at some early time that will cost me at least a half-hour of precious sleep, then off to my workshop, then another practice interview with a pre-med, then class, then touring the museum with my workshop group, then home with the little ones for an hour or two before returning to my workshop group. Then back to get the drugged-up pugs, a quick supper, a workout at the Y, and what the hell happened to the day because it's time to put the little ones to bed.
Thankfully, I got J*stin's letter jacket order and his physical out of the way already this week, so once I pick up the dogs tomorrow afternoon, all I have left to do is set up an appointment for a tree trimmer to come out and Do Something about our horrific backyard tree situation (very overgrown tree and lots of underbrush is a breeding ground for mosquitos) next week.
Once this weekend is over, it should settle down. My workshop will be over, and my only real responsibility will be my summer class four days per week in the mornings. I've still got a barn-building looming to ruin some weekend in the near future, but I'm trying to keep that out of mind. It would be nice to get some reading time in this weekend so I can finish Potter books five and six before the last book comes out. It's going to be tough to avoid spoilers, I'm sure.
Oh yeah, another project I'm taking on this summer is that I'm going to write an entire semester's worth of exams before the Fall term starts for two sections of a particular class. That's four versions each of 11 exams plus a final, keys and all. If I can pull it off, I think I'll be able to stay sane this Fall even with the overload classes.
Oh damn, I still have to finish the web page project for my other class that I just remembered. I hope I reread this post sometime next week when I have time to get back on that. Sheesh.
I know I've said this very recently, but you really should keep up with Ken Levine's blog. The latest entry involved his trip to Seattle to sit in for a weekend series for Dave Niehaus. I didn't know Dave was still broadcasting. I'd love to listen to one of his games, especially if I could pick it up on the radio while at the game later in July when they play the Rangers. I wouldn't want to spring for an Internet broadcast, because I think you have to buy a whole package or something.
It would really take me back to watch a game live while listening to the M's play by play on the radio with Dave. I imagine by now the wheels have pretty much come off of the Niehaus broadcast, as he was already a little wobbly when I left Seattle 11 years ago. Is he at Harry Carey level yet?
I plan to take both boys to a double-header, M's at the Rangers, on Tuesday the 24th. I predict the game-time heat index will be 106 at 405pm. We'll see how long they last. I'm sure I'll be fine, but then I have an unlimited budget to spend on cold drinks and ice cream, and I already know the location of the concession stand that sells Icees.
That reminds me: I'm so addicted to Slurpees now that I've probably bought five per week for the last 6-8 months. Sometimes, I'll go three weeks in a row with a Slurpee every day. Every other time during the day if I want something, it is either skim milk (with breakfast) or water. Never pop or lemonade or anything like that.
So I open up the paper a few days ago to find out that they were giving away Slurpees in an unannounced promotion the day before. The one day in the past month or so that I didn't buy a Slurpee, and it turns out they were giving 'em away! Gah!
We took the older kids to see the latest movie this afternoon. We actually bought tickets with a whole bunch of others from our church congregation, so we knew ahead of time it was sold out. We got there about 45 minutes early and got good seats. Within about five minutes, I was "entertaining" M*chelle by answering the trivia questions on the slide show ahead of time because I had seen them five times already. I can find myself very amusing sometimes.
I haven't read many good reviews of this movie, but I think it was fine given the source material, which is convoluted and dark and without a very good beginning or end. That's what you get when you do a movie out of book five of a seven-book series (shrug). I liked it because I always like to see how certain scenes or characters are visualized. The Dolores Umbridge character was excellent. I'm starting to read the book again now, just to see how it differs from the movie, and then I'll try to squeeze in a reading of book six as well before the seventh book comes out next week.
After the movie, we ate at a barbecue place downtown that I hadn't been to in a long time. Very yummy. Tomorrow is little D*niel's 4th birthday party, which means the fifth and final gigantic Costco cake of the season will grace our refrigerator for the next week.
I watched "Casino Royale" today since J*stin had gotten it in his queue from N*tflix. I have to say, I was very underwhelmed. There were some good parts, like when Bond got poisoned, and the chase at the beginning. But the whole thing dragged on too long, and it was too confusing to follow. I couldn't remember all of the character names and remember who were the good guys and who were the bad guys.
Also, since this takes place early in Bond's career, why is it set in the present day? They could've had a blast with this. In all "early years" stories, the most fun is had by foreshadowing the future. You know, show some big, lanky kid with metal teeth who gets knocked over by Bond during a car chase or something.
We're on season 4 of Starg*te now, and it is going good. We just watched the time loop episode, and that was pretty funny.
Harry P*tter week is coming. I guess it is too late to start to reread the whole series, so I'll just read book 7 cold when it comes out and hope that I remember enough so that it all makes sense. I hear the latest film isn't that great, but really, how bad can it be? I guess we'll find out when we take the whole family on Saturday.
In other news, anyone who approved of the impeachment of Clinton who isn't screaming at the top of their lungs for Bush to be impeached should be forced to watch a loop of "Caddysh*ck III" for eternity. My God, I can't believe we gave all this power to such a petulant little fuck and his toadies. Or at the very least allowed them to take the power.
Time for an update from the War on Terror:
U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded al-Qaida has rebuilt its operating capability to a level not seen since just before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, The Associated Press has learned.
The conclusion suggests that the group that launched the most devastating terror attack on the United States has been able to rebuild despite nearly six years of bombings, war and other tactics aimed at crippling it.
But, but, but I thought we were winning against the terrorists really, really big now.
I'm trying to remember, if we don't get attacked, that means that everything is working great, right? Or if we do get attacked, that means the terrorists are desperate because the war is working so well and we're winning so very much?
Ken Levine has several funny baseball announcing anecdotes today that help me forget about the incredibly depressing political news these days. Highly recommended.
In the last three days, I have begun teaching my five-week summer class (to a record high number of students). I've also discovered that the workshop I help out with every summer has upped from two to three sessions, and I've also been informed that, yes, plans have been confirmed for me to teach SIX classes this Fall (my normal load is four). And this won't be the first or last time I teach overload due to our department being short a faculty member (who migrated over to administration part-time and apparently won't be replaced).
It's a good kind of busy, though, because all of these additional loads are just more of the same stuff I already do and am good at, plus I am well-paid for everything extra. I just have to budget my time better, and that means fewer magic-finding Pit runs per day in Diablo 2 for now.
Charles Pierce, guest-blogging for Eric Alterman, has some good words to say about the historical context of the whole Libby affair:
I don't know if it counts if you only said it in a bar and never wrote it down anywhere, but back in 1988, when it became plain that absolutely nobody was going to pay a price -- criminal, civil, or in the case of the senior Bush, political -- for the staggering mess that was Iran-Contra, I was in the late, lamented Eliot Lounge in Boston, chewing it over with a friend who'd reported extensively on the scandal. I told him that the country was going to pay a fearsome price one day for having let these crimes go unpunished. That the whole business lodged something malignant deep in the government that needed to be roughly, and bloodily, excised.
I believed an impeachment inquiry should have been opened on both the president and the vice-president. I believed that Beltway wise-man schemes like the Tower Commission and the Joint Congressional committee investigation would muddy the waters and likely would do more harm than good. (It was the committee that created the loophole through which ultimately squeezed, among other people, Oliver North.) I believed the whole thing should have been left in the hands of Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, since the DOJ until Edwin Meese had been hopelessly entangled in the original cover-up.
Moreover, no matter how often the pundits and Important Reporters told me the whole thing was too complicated for anyone to understand, I believed that selling missiles to Islamic crazoids in order to help finance our own Central American crazoids in defiance both open and covert of the laws and the Constitution was worth sending a whole lot of somebodies to the sneezer. I believed it was worth bringing down a president, just so no other president would ever again hire fly-by-night think-tank cowboys to sell the country's soul wholesale to grifters like Manucher Ghorbanifar.
None of it happened, of course. As Mark Hertsgaard limned in his brilliant "On Bended Knee," nobody in my business or his was willing to discomfit poor old Dutch Reagan, lost as he was in the beginnings of an amyloid cascade. It became more important that Daddy Bush "stood up to" Dan Rather than it was that he was lying his withered hindquarters off while doing it. Michael Dukakis abandoned the field. Walsh got assaulted, over and over again, for being an "out of control" prosecutor, even though it was the ongoing stonewall that ran up his bills. Then, after a forgettable four years in office, and just as Walsh finally pried loose some documents that didn't go into the shredder, Bush père pardoned everyone except Shoeless Joe Jackson on his way out the door, guaranteeing that none of them would ever have to testify to the extent of his lies.
Tell me we're not paying for that now. Tell me we're not paying for tolerating a renegade theory of Executive power. Tell me we're not hearing how inconvenient and cumbersome and counterproductive the impeachment process of the Constitution is. Tell me the Democratic candidates aren't soft-pedaling the whole issue, preferring to micromanage the end of the kind of war that the renegade theory of Executive power makes not only likely, but inevitable. (Go back and read the minority report of the Iran-Contra committee. Go see who wrote the part about how the president has an inherent right to do stuff like this. Hint -- he has a lesbian daughter, a bad heart, and lousy aim.)
Tell me the press isn't running away from the gravity of the whole business. Tell me you haven't heard some anchor-drone or another sigh about how hard it all is to understand. Tell me that Bush presidencies don't invariably come down to buying the silence of the people who can put you away. Tell me Alberto Gonzales isn't Edwin Meese, except less competent. Tell me that Elliott Abrams, John Negroponte, Michael Ledeen, and the rest of the Iran-Contra Legends Tour ever would have found their bloody hands back on the levers of government if we'd done what we should have done as a nation 20 years ago. Jesus, even Ghorbanifar's back in the news.
That said, what happened with Scooter Libby this week didn't surprise me at all, or even horrify me. I've seen this movie before.
Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.
Tom Tomorrow has a helpful primer on conservative talking points you'll need to know now that Michael Moore's movie "Sicko" is in theaters.
From a recent Ranger broadcast, the announcer was excitedly calling an inning-ending strikeout of a player for the opposing team:
"A SWING and a miss! He struck him out! Looks like he fooled him by throwing a pitch in the strike zone."
Consider me as among the non-believer crowd despite the recent hot streak by this time, which by my count still has them 16 games out.
Apparently, a DC madam in charge of a group with over 1000 clients in the DC area over the past 10 years or so is about to release her client list to the media.
I can smell the family values from here.
We had fun at the ball game. Rangers won thanks to a strong 8-inning performance by Millwood and 3 homers by Brad Wilkerson. I told J*stin if Millwood pitches like that every outing for the rest of the year, he might make it back to average. About the same for Wilkerson, to be honest. Both have been among the string of enormous free agent disappointments we've suffered over many decades. Not bad enough to make me forget Chan Ho Suck, but pretty bad.
With J*stin's hat and my t-shirt, we spent enough at the souvenier stand to qualify for a voucher for 2 free 2nd deck tickets to some future game. Looks like we'll get to go again.
The best part was that game time temperature was 78 degrees. This for a July 3 ball game! Crazy. It was muggy, but wow, that's the best baseball weather I've seen in July around here.
Regarding the commutation of Libby's jail time for "perjury", I have this to say, which was too long for a simple comment...
The whole "Clinton did it" thing is a perfect example of a wingnut argument. First, it isn't true, but it *sounds* reasonable. Second, the falsification is so long that you get tired-head listening to it or reading it, so people ignore it.
See, perjury is typically prosecuted when it is relevant to the case. Clinton's perjury wasn't relevant to the case, and there are NOT common, everyday examples of it being prosecuted like in the Libby case. Also, Libby's main offense was "Obstruction of Justice", which is far more serious than simple perjury, and he was indicted on multiple counts of it. That is very commonly prosecuted with jail time attached. So the equivalence with Clinton is simply false, top to bottom.
It reminds me a lot of the "Al Gore's electric bills are high, so he's a hypocrite". Same sort of deal. If you are being told something like that, you are being manipulated by someone who likely knows better (at least, the original source knows better, not necessarily those who repeat it). What's interesting is not the fact in dispute but rather the motivation of the original source, but of course, that's never the story. And the people who are fed such talking points (who like to call themselves "independent" or "non-partisan") never seem to resent the fact that they're being manipulated.
Now if you want to bring up the "Hey, but Clinton pardoned Marc Rich, too!" then all I can say is, yes, that was wrong, too, and I was pretty damned sick and angry about it at the time. However, it should be noted that the offenses committed by the two men were hardly comparable. And you know who Rich's lawyer was, right?
The bottom line is people shouldn't get off just because they're rich. If you go back to what few blogs were in existence at the time of the Rich pardon or any other commentary you can find, you will find that liberals were almost uniformly sick about it unlike the crowing of the right-wing about Libby today.
I also have to point out that I find it really funny when a wingnut uses the "Clinton did it, too" argument. I mean, this guy is the wingnut anti-Christ, and yet, all of a sudden, he is the gold standard of comparison for deciding whether behavior is ok. It makes as much sense as committing some heinous act of terrorism and then saying, "Hey, bin Laden did it, too, and I'll bet some people somewhere on some part of the political spectrum I disagree with weren't complaining about it."