Friday, January 30, 2004

I have a close friend who also happens to be the wisest guy I know. Earlier today, I was whining to him via email about an extended-family situation.

When he wrote back, he told me what I needed to do, rather than merely whining. He then added: "That doesn't sound sympathetic, but we aren't girls."

Classic. I'm glad some men are still men, and can offer wisdom when I'm failing to be one.
As regular visitors know, I've often vented about my frustration with the lunkheaded lack of manners on the part of clerks, drive-through attendants, and other customer service agents.

I never read Florence King (or the National Review, for that matter) when she was still writing for NR, but they occasionally reprint one of her "Misanthrope's Corner" columns online. The one they have up today perfectly encapsulates my frustrating experiences, including a quintessential illustration:
Take my catalog order. In the "Color" block I wrote "1st choice, blue; 2nd, green," but all I got was a postcard saying, "We are unable to fill your order. Please call our toll-free number." I did. When the rep came on, I gave her my order number and she pulled it up on her computer and read my name and address back to me. "Right," I said.

Then, silence. A long silence. I thought she had put me on hold but there was no rock music, and it didn't sound like hold somehow. The silence had a nice antiquated sound, making me think of the days when a clerk simply laid the phone down and "stepped away from her desk" to retrieve an actual file from an actual file cabinet.

As my reverie faded, I had an eerie feeling that she was still there. "Hello?" I said.

"Yes." Just that, no more, not even an inflection.

"I got a card saying you're unable to fill my order but it doesn't say why."

"We didn't know what color you wanted."

Nearly two minutes had passed in total silence, yet she had sat there in ox-like placidity, waiting for me to speak first, unable even to bring herself to prompt me. I had to supply all the initiative.
Ever experienced the slack-jawed stare of a moron who's just handed you a bag of McDonalds, and because he hasn't said "thank you" or "have a nice day," or whatever, you don't know if the order is complete yet or not?

Many know my pain, but Florence has expressed it perfectly.
More of Those Progressive Europeans:

The German guy who was convicted of murdering, dismembering, and eating another guy has been smacked with a draconian 8 1/2 year sentence:
Armin Meiwes, a 42-year-old computer expert, had no "base motives" in the crime, a state court ruled, sparing him a murder conviction. Explaining the verdict, the presiding judge said Meiwes' intention was not evil but "the fulfillment of his fantasy."

His primary motive was "the wish to make another man part of himself," Judge Volker Muetze said. "Meiwes reached this bonding experience through the consumption of the flesh."
Oh, I see. He had good intentions when he ate the guy. It was a bonding experience. A little quality time. Some people show love for their fellow man by buying a gift for him, and others by eating him. Who could send someone to prison at all for such a display of magnanimity?

To paraphrase an old Steve Martin joke about smoking marijuana in California: Boy, I wouldn't kill and eat a guy in Germany these days. You can get a ticket for that.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Those Progressive Swedes:

Sweden is frequently held up to us as the model of where America could go if we were only more civilized like our Swedish friends.

Our more evolved role-models from across the pond are now reporting some negative consequences from their recent illegalization of child pornography (which occured as recently as 1999, because sophisticated societies don't rush into something like a kiddie porn ban haphazardly). Evidently, the resulting pent-up frustration is now being taken out on Fido:
....[E]very year between 200 and 300 pets are injured because of sexual assaults.

....“We have seen an increase since 1999 when child pornography became illegal,” said Johan Beck-Friis. “It appears, in other words, as there are some people who have replaced children with animals. In both circumstances, it is sex with defenceless individuals.”
Maybe those pet injuries will eventually be covered under our forthcoming, single-payer, Swedish-style, federalized medical coverage.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Jonah Goldberg today takes apart the doltish "undecideds" whom the media slavishly adore:
Being undecided, in and of itself, is not a mark of seriousness or intelligence. If you really are undecided between having a bowl of strawberry ice cream and being smacked in the forehead with a garden rake, you're not very intelligent; you're just very, very stoopid.

No, I'm not saying that all undecideds are dumb, and I'm not saying that the choices in presidential elections are as cut-and-dried as the strawberry ice cream versus the garden-rake smack. But what I am saying is that the rush to show one's independence of mind in contests between Republican and Democratic candidates usually stems from intellectual vanity and insecurity, not intellectual discernment or rigor.
What it actually is, is the Clinton Syndrome. When one has no principles, one must laboriously anguish over each issue before any decision (if ever) can be made. This is mistaken by many for depth, when in reality it is the utter absence of any coherent worldview.
I'm really beginning to hope John Kerry wins the Dems nomination. That wife of his will be non-stop entertainment. She makes Watergate-era sideshow Martha Mitchell look like George Will.
Meanwhile, in the Nigerian scam email correspondence, Brian/Clayton ups the ante with the suddenly-silent Dr. Amudo by CCing him on an email from his lawyer advising Brian to pursue a different venture in the emerging biomedical field:
>Unless you've heard something, I think we should consider taking a pass on
> [the Nigerian Deal] and go check out the pancreas farm up in Indiana. I talked to
>one of my old frat buddies who is a doctor now, and he says these internal
>organ ventures are going to take off within the next year and a half.
The reasons for the fall of Howard Dean are many and diverse. Most of us recognized very early on that his campaign would never be able to attract more than the radical fringe of his party--which is enough to make a name for one's self, but not enough to win anything on.

Because history has a way of boiling things down, however, I believe posterity will ultimately remember the "The Scream" as the thing that did him in. Remember, The Scream actually occured after Dean had already lost big in Iowa, but it will be seen as the defining, symbolic moment in his campaign, and will take its place in the gallery alongside Muskie's crying, Mondale's pledge to raise taxes, Dukakis' tank ride, and Clinton's Jennifer Flowers tapes.

What's that? Clinton won? That's impossible....
As the late Jack Paar would say, "I kid you not." I received a Google hit yesterday for "Howard Dean Transgendered Wife."
With the primary season in full swing, the death of Jack Paar yesterday at 85 has registered as barely a blip on the radar screen. That's a shame.

Paar was one of the greatest true broadcasters who ever lived, and perhaps the last (except for Johnny, who has no peer) of a generation of them. Along with his predecessor on the "Tonight Show," Steve Allen, Paar used the then-young medium of television to its fullest potential, managing to be funny, entertaining, suprising, volatile, and absolutely compelling every night.

Because of his sharp wit and tremendous storytelling ability, Paar remained one of the most entertaining talk show guests around in his rare appearances on Carson and Letterman well into the 80's and 90's. But because he essentially retired from television in the mid-'60's while at the top of his game, an entire generation of television viewers has little idea who he was or the impact he had in his era.

If you ever have a chance to watch a video or a documentary featuring some of his stuff, I can't recommend it highly enough. If there were about a dozen more Jack Paars, television might actually be worth watching again.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

You know those Nigerian scam emails where they, with the use of much tortured syntax, try to get you to send them all your bank information so they can use your account for a major bank transfer, with the promise they'll let you keep $10 million (or however much) for your trouble?

The intrepid Brian at Terrible Swift Word actually decided to respond to the inquiry, and a fascinating email interaction has begun as a result.

The saga began (as it always does), with the request for information:
If this proposal interest you of which I hope it would, please forward to me immediately the followings by e-mail address above.

1. Full company's Name and Address
2. Private telephone and fax numbers
3. Your full bank name and address
4. Bank account number, account name, telephone and fax numbers
However, there is one proviso, of course.
You must maintain the topmost confidentiality of this transaction because we are top civil servants who would not joke with our reputation.
Certainly not.

Brian (as "Clayton V.") responds, saying:
I am certainly very interested in exploring the opportunity you have presented. Once again, however, I must apologize. I do have a few questions before we proceed. I'm sure you and your colleagues are quite anxious to consummate this deal, and I certainly don't want to lose out on the opportunity by being too careful. At the same time, I didn't become the "Applesauce King of the Ohio Valley" by entering into deals uninformed.
He asks the Nigerian ("Dr. Amudo") for a face-to-face meeting, though he will need to find an alternate pilot for his time-share private jet, since his "regular pilot, Armand, refuses to fly to Nigeria (something about an old soccer grudge - he's very passionate about his sports)."

Quivering with excitement and moving in for the kill (having no idea what he's in for), Dr. Amudo informs Brian that a meeting can be arranged in Amsterdam in a few weeks. But rather than wasting time just waiting, he encourages Brian to take some prelimenary steps towards finalizing the transaction:
At this point, we begin to see Dr. Amudo's syntax beginning to rub off on Brian. It is rather infectious, I must admit. Says Brian/"Clayton":
My apologies. I'm not sure where we got our wires melted. I did not receive your emails of last week. Yesterday's (Wednesday) e-mail was the first contat I've received from you in the last couple of weeks.

Many thanks for the discrete and metallic manner in which you addressed my concerns. Also I thank you for updating me on your culture and the role of a civil servant like yourself. Until you enlightened me, I was totally endarkened in regards to such things.
A tentative meeting is scheduled in Amsterdam, provided, of course, that Dr. Amudo's associate isn't actually in Amsterdam to "score opium."

The opium implication (which Brian makes several times) grievously wounds Dr. Amudo, who notes that it was "uncivilized and very abusive." His patience is waning:

Noting that the window of opportunity is closing for the face to face meeting in Amsterdam, Dr. Amudo says that if
To cool things down, Brian has wisely enlisted his "attorney," Thomas S. Hamblin, who defends Brian's long stories and "personal trompet blowing" by saying that he advised Brian "to throw in some business anecdotes simply to calm any fears you might have about partnering up with him."

The ball is now in Dr. Amudo's court.

I don't know that I've ever enjoyed reading anything more on a blog. This ought to be a book. I'm tempted to send my own bank account just to keep the correspondence going.
Al Franken is in the news yet again. He was only about 20 years off in his prediction; as it turns out, the 00's are the "Al Franken Decade."

This time he's made news for attacking a Howard Dean heckler in New Hampshire yesterday. The heckler was one of those Lyndon LaRouche kooks, and when he began shouting at Dean, Franken "body-slammed" him to the ground, according to the New York Post.

The story goes on to point out that:
Franken said he's not backing Dean but merely wanted to protect the right of people to speak freely. "I would have done it if he was a Dean supporter at a Kerry rally," he said.
I just want to make sure I have this right. A guy at a rally started excercising his free speech rights by speaking out, and Franken attempted to silence him by body-slamming him -- in order to protect free speech.

Makes sense to me.
Here's something to ponder. With the nomination of Bill Murray this morning for the best actor Academy Award, two of the four Ghostbusters have now been nominated for acting Oscars (the other being Dan Aykroyd, who was up for best supporting actor for "Driving Miss Daisy" back in the 80's).

Or, to look at it even more poignantly, both guys who played goofball greenskeepers in "Caddyshack" films are now Ocsar-nominated actors.

I wonder if Murray will do his recurring "Oscar Picks" bit on SNL this year?

Monday, January 26, 2004

While I was out of town and not paying attention, Jon Barlow went and became famous.

He's been written up this week in the BBC, Newsweek, E!Online, and about a million other places. Tonight I even heard his Howard Dean mix over the closing credits of a show on VH1.

Who'da thunk it?
I've been out-of-pocket for the past few days, so I apologize for the lack of activity here. I did want to pop in for a reminder, though. Dennis Miller's new nightly show on CNBC kicks off at 9pm Eastern tonight, and promises to be worth watching if your sense of humor isn't too delicate.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

I'm in Nashville tonight for some work stuff. It's currently 29 degrees.

This South Florida boy hasn't been in this kind of temperature in six or seven years. I had forgotten what it felt like to have my face numbed after a few minutes outside. I had also forgotten how much I really don't like cold weather.

On to Baton Rouge tommorrow--hopefully it'll be a tad warmer there.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Unfortunately, even many self-described "conservatives" don't understand the concept of judicial conservatism. They are so steeped in the notion of an activist judiciary that they are now intent on getting judges appointed who will impose by fiat a more "correct" agenda.

This is demonstrated by one of the responses to my post from yesterday on the Charles Pickering appointment. The anonymous respondent posted something from what he described as "Log Cabin Republicans - GOP Sodomite Publication":
WASHINGTON -- "I have spoken with Judge Pickering at length, and have reviewed his record and consulted with several people around the country. Judge Pickering reiterated to me his strong belief that all Americans should be treated equally under the law, including gay and lesbian Americans, and his record as a federal judge clearly demonstrates it," said Rich Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans.
This was posted anonymously, without comment, as if it were some sort of self-standing, knockdown conservative argument against Pickering's appointment to the bench.

It isn't.

Even if the anonymous poster is correctly relaying the article from the Log Cabin Republicans, based on a conversation one of them allegedly once had with Pickering, nothing in this third-hand report militates against Pickering's credentials as a judicial conservative. The reason is that when judicial conservatism is applied, it doesn't matter what a candidate's personal beliefs are. All that matters is what the law says. Indeed, that's the entire point of judicial conservatism--returning the power to make laws back to the electorate.

A true judicial conservative enforces duly-passed laws he doesn't agree with. He applies each law equally, according to its plain meaning, forgoing the opportunity to force his own philosophy (even if his philosophy is noble and correct) on the people, to whom he is not even accountable.

If the people pass bad laws, then we need to work to change those through the democratic process. But lawmaking is supposed to be a political process. Judicial rulings are not. Judges are not supposed to be a corrective to bad laws--they are simply the appliers of them.

I don't care what a judge's personal opinion on homosexuality, abortion, or any other issue is. What I care about is that he will correctly interpret and apply the laws that the legislature has given him. If Charles Pickering will refrain from distorting laws to further his own agenda, then his personal opinion on homosexuality matters little to me. It seems we've gotten so used to judicial activism that conservatives now want their own activists.

Incidentally, I'm also curious as to what Pickering actually said in the quote above that would be disagreeable to a conservative. Note that Pickering allegedly said that all Americans, including homosexuals, should be treated equally under the law. Does anyone disagree with that? He didn't say they should all be treated equally. He said they should all be treated equally under the law. It's a simple statement on due process.

Since a judicial conservative doesn't make laws, Pickering is simply accused here of saying that a judge should apply the law--as written--regardless of a person's race or sexuality or whatever. He says nothing about what kind of laws can exist.

If any "conservative" has a problem with this, he needs to read his Constitution again. It's the Fourteenth Amendment.
I guess Janeane Garofalo, in Iowa to support Howard Dean, must've put that Midwestern, soft-spoken charm of hers to work. Dean's numbers only went down about 20 points there in the last few days.

If working folks in Iowa can't get behind an emotionally unstable, dyed-blonde, Hollywood actress wearing (according to Dean's blog) "a red Perfect Storm hat, a Stand up for Choice Sticker, a Generation Dean sticker, a pink shirt with FREE SPEECH she made herself with a magic marker (and a pen stuck in her pink shirt), a TEXAS DEMOCRAT pin, and on her backback a Dissent protects Democracy pin, Give ?em Hell Howard pin, and I won't Cross the Line pin," who can they get behind?
If you haven't listened to Howard Dean's WWF performance from last night's Iowa Caucuses, you really need to, for the sake of the nation. I know the chances are very, very slim, but this guy theoretically could be president someday (if the President, the Vice President, and also John Kerry, John Edwards, and Wesley Clark were all to suddenly die in the next 10 months).

Here's the 13 second MP3 clip from the Drudge Report. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

UPDATE: Byron York at NRO says last night's speech may have been the death knell for the Dean candidacy.
So, Dick, who's the miserable failure now?

Monday, January 19, 2004

President Bush's recess appointment of Charles Pickering to the federal bench is the first hopeful sign that the administration recognizes the seriousness of the judicial issue. As I've said here many times before, there simply is no other political issue right now. The nation is ruled by an unelected, unaccountable, activist judiciary, and no legislation means anything if it can immediately be trumped or rewritten by a moody judge somewhere.

Bush took good early steps by nominating judicially conservative judges to the bench. But the liberals, realizing that their true power lies in the judiciary--through which they can rule without the consent of the American people--have done everything in their power to obstruct the appointments of judges who will read the Constitution as written rather than imposing a "progressive" agenda from the bench.

Until now, the Bush Administration (and Senate Republicans) have, for the most part, simply shrugged their shoulders as if to say "what else can we do?" Recess appointments, which do not require the consent of the Senate (where a supermajority of 60 votes is required to break the ongoing filibusters) are perhaps the most effective way to break the deadlock by simply removing the ability of the minority party to short-circuit the democratic process.

The administration deserves credit for finally waking up on this one, and they need to follow the Pickering appointment with the appointments of some of the most radically, ideologically driven right-wing judges they can find. Such a move would tell Senate Democrats that if they don't like the filibustered nominees, they ain't seen nothin' yet. The Dems might possibly even end their filibusters at that point, in order to avoid a worse-case scenario. Those strict-constructionist conservatives will suddenly look awfully good next to a few radical, activist wingnuts.
For Martin Luther King Day, Jay Bryant has a remarkable column delineating the covert racism of the Democrat Party.

He begins by citing an astounding fact, considering the lofty rhetoric on affirmative action that regularly spews forth from Democrats: Carol Moseley Braun is the only African-American Democrat ever to serve in the United States Senate. And even then, she only won office by defeating the white guy that the Illinois Democrat party had put forward for the nomination.

Says Bryant:
...[S]omewhere between a quarter and a third of all Democrats are African-Americans. So if we applied the concept of affirmative action quotas to the Democratic Senate membership, there should be approximately twelve black Democratic Senators in the current Congress. But in fact, there are none. There weren't any in the last Congress either, or the one before that. Except for Moseley Braun's single six-year term, there have never been any black Democratic Senators.
Well, sure, but still that's one more than those awful, racist Republicans, right? Wrong. As Bryant points out, "There have been three black Republican Senators: Hiram Revels, Blanche Kelso Bruce and Edward Brooke."

Of course, none of this would even be worth mentioning were it not for the harsh rhetoric that Democrats often hurl towards Republicans on race. But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding:
Oh, Democrats will let African-Americans serve in the House of Representatives, but only after carefully carving out black-majority, which is to say segregated, districts for them. Well, you can't expect white Democrats to vote for one of them, can you?

So the Democratic Party's policy, throughout the modern, post-World War II era has been to create separate-but-equal congressional districts. Keep blacks in the ghetto ? the urban plantation. The handful of African-American Republican members of Congress, by contrast, have come from suburban and rural areas, where they have been, often enthusiastically, supported by Republican voters.
The black community's monolithic, inexplicable support of the Democrat party is one of the great mysteries of our time. I've often asked why African-Americans view the Democrat party as their friend on several local radio programs I've hosted. The response is always something like "I have to vote for the one who has my best interests at heart."

So be it. And if your best interests include crippling dependence on government, urban blight, and not being invited to the dinner party unless you've got your maid's outfit on, then keep on pulling the donkey lever--they've definitely got your "best interests" at heart.
In a crushing blow to the other Democrat presidential candidates, George McGovern has given his endorsement to Wesley Clark. As you'll recall, McGovern was narrowly defeated by Richard Nixon in the 1972 presidential contest 49 states to one.

You needn't fret, though, guys. That Michael Dukakis endorsement is still out there for the taking.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Mrs. Discoshaman has entered the blogosphere under the pen-name TulipGirl.

Says her hubby: "...[I]n time, it'll be a virtual smorgasboard of estrogen-laced goodness."
So often, we're assured by our little warm-hearted liberal friends that "human nature is basically good." My response to that is usually to ask them if they have locks on their doors, and if so, why. I haven't gotten a coherent answer yet. But it does demonstrate the power of a pithy aphorism against all contrary evidence.

A recent little picture of human nature: last weekend in College Station, Texas, somebody discovered that an ATM machine gave him twice as much money as he had asked for--and a receipt that didn't show it. According to KBTX-TV in College Station:
....[T]he word spread like wildfire and before long there was a line of people waiting for the handout.

No telling how long this was going on when a police officer noticed a long line gathering at five o'clock Saturday morning at that machine. He noticed the users putting their coats over their heads as not to be identified by the photograph device built into the machine. Like many others, one woman received $1,000 after requesting just $500.

Asked by police if she thought she was doing anything wrong, she said "being a broke college student, I had to take the chance." She told investigators that a friend called her at two o'clock in the morning to let her know about the ATM.
It seems to have escaped these geniuses that not being photographed by the machine still won't negate the fact that they put their bank card into it.

Now of course, none of us are naive enough to think this incident wouldn't happen. But if human nature is basically good, how is it possible that not a single person called the police to tell them there was a problem with the machine?

Even more scary: Some who read this will think "What's the big deal? I would've probably taken the money too."

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

There's an interesting ad being broadcast locally during the Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck shows on the news/talk radio station here in South Florida.

The ad implores conservatives to stand against a marriage protection amendment in the United States Constitution. It cites quotes from Bob Barr, Alan Simpson, George Will, and others, and then says something like "Real conservatives agree. Be conservative with the Constitution -- don't amend it."

The kicker is at the end. "Brought to you by Citizen Outreach and the Human Rights Campaign."

Of course, the Human Rights Campaign is a radical, left-wing organization "working for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender equal rights."

Interestingly, the libertine, transgender left believes it has found a ready ally in the paleo right. Strange bedfellows, indeed.
Al Franken used to be very funny. He's now much more sanctimonious than he is funny, but every now and again he still gets off a good one.

According to Drudge, at Monday night's frenzied-left awards event, Franken took the stage as a presenter.

"I'm Al Franken," he said. "I'm here to present the funniest ad award. I'm a last-minute substitution, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was supposed to be the presenter, but unfortunately he was murdered."

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

The bottom line is that some people "get" the space program and some don't. Fortunately, the "do's" still seem to outnumber the "don'ts," though by an increasingly narrow margin.

Nearly 35 years ago, we first put human beings on the moon. And then we just....stopped.

Someone who doesn't "get" it--who has simply imbibed the utilitarian ethos of the day--can't even see why I would consider that sad and incomprehesible. The soul which only sees such things in pragmatic terms of expediture of dollars and manpower ("What a waste..."), or in consumable products generated, is far too impoverished to be convinced by any few words I might say. My hope is that those who were inspired to greater achievement in their lives by people like Alan Shepard and Neil Armstrong will defend that vision, on behalf of their children and grandchildren, against those who see visionary exploration as less important than the "John Q. Patron Interstate Rest Area."

It's been 31 years since a human being last walked on the moon. An entire generation has now grown up without seeing a live image of the Earth over another horizon, without the dream of personally exploring God's universe and of standing on the soil of another world. I think our collective ambition and imagination is much the poorer for it.
St. Louis is installing a new Roman Catholic bishop shortly, and he's Bishop Raymond Burke from LaCrosse, Wisconsin. Burke is already well-known, because in Wisconsin he announced that the Church would withhold communion from Catholic politicians in his diocese who support abortion or euthanasia. Presumably, he will be bringing this view to St. Louis with him.

This has some politicians in the heavily Catholic St. Louis area a bit on edge.

According to a story in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Missouri Democratic Party Chairwoman May Scheve acknowledges that she's in a fix.

Scheve, a former legislator from South County, is a practicing Catholic. She also supports abortion rights.

. . . ."I'm very passionate about my politics and I'm very passionate about my religion," Scheve said, noting that she sends her daughter to a Catholic school. "For the two to collide is an issue that troubles me to my core."
Good. It ought to trouble her. What troubles me is that one could claim to believe in the God of the Bible and not think that this God might just have something important--perhaps even binding-- to say about when life begins and when it should end. If it takes the Roman Catholic Church threatening to excommunicate chuckleheads like this until they can get it figured out, I say good for the Church.

It also removes the weaselly option currently taken by so many politicians.

"Of course I personally am pro-life," they inform us. "But it's not my right to make that decision for someone else." Imagine the silliness of this relativistic argument in any other context.

"Of course, I personally abhor wife-beating. But it's not my right to make that decision for some other husband." The latter is obviously ridiculous. But the former argument is made with a straight face by well-known politicians every day. Because abortion advocates have been so successful in framing the argument as a matter of mere taste, pro-life versus pro-abortion merely becomes another version of "tastes great" versus "less filling."

Of course, such a position actually takes a very particular stance on the issue. By claiming it's a matter of mere preference, one has already presupposed that there are no moral absolutes, that God has not created each individual life, and that He has no particular opinion on the matter--if He exists at all. Bishop Burke is taking this option away from the Catholic politician.

If you think your church is wrong on the sanctity of life issue, fine. Leave your church. If you think they're right, then they have conveyed to you the Word of God on the matter, and you must obey what you know to be true. In either case, stop being such a muddle-headed doofus.
People are beginning to wonder where Howard Dean's wife is. Evidently he has one, but she's usually nowhere to be found.

According to today's New York Times:
Some Dean backers see Dr. Steinberg [Dean's wife] as a role model for independent women balancing careers and children, but others in the campaign increasingly regard her absence as a potential liability for a candidate who is known for his reluctance to discuss his personal life or upbringing. Yet the topic is all but off-limits with the candidate. Voters also have begun to ask about a marriage in which the partners are so often apart — she skipped Dr. Dean's birthday-party fund-raiser, the family-oriented Renaissance Weekend, even the emotional repatriation ceremony of his brother's remains in Hawaii.
It's not all that hard to understand, if you think about it. I mean, if you were married to Howard Dean, would you want to be seen in public?

Monday, January 12, 2004

Well, I just added RSS syndication to the site. What does that mean? Beats me, but the Evangelical Outpost said I ought to do it, and who am I to argue?

"Well if the Evangelical Outpost told you to go jump off a bridge, would you do that too?" Quite possibly.

Did I do the syndication right? Does it work? Does it matter? I have no flippin' idea. I don't even really know what it is. Is it that mark from Revelation that Tim LaHaye is always talking about?
I really wanted to be wrong about the Rams.

As they racked up win after win against subpar competition, and as I continued to complain about their spectacular mediocrity, I had hoped in the recesses of my mind that everybody else saw something I just wasn't seeing. It's never been less satisfying to be right.

The Carolina Panthers tried to give the game to the Rams in about five different ways, but the Rams would not accept it. Mike Martz, who has become almost legendary for taking foolish chances, suddenly become conservative at the one time it would have actually made sense to take a risk. Marc Bulger threw three crucial interceptions. Three.

For those scoring at home, the Rams have been winning games mostly on defense, and they are about to lose their defensive architect to the Chicago Bears. They are about to let go of a two-time MVP quarterback. And the quarterback they do have threw (counting the postseason) 22 touchdowns and 25 interceptions this year.

I'm trying hard not to be negative, but I don't see things moving in the right direction for next year.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Paul O'Neill? Oh yeah, I remember him. He was the Treasury Secretary back when the economy still sucked.
Since blogging is a relatively new entity, much of its eventual nomenclature is still up for grabs. There are terms there just for the coining.

So I'm trying to invent a term to describe the phenomena of deleting someone from your blogroll in the heat of a hissy-fit. It's happening to me more and more frequently lately, and it's crying out for a name.

Some possibilities:

  • Deletaliation

  • Microsoft XPunged

  • Blogdignation

  • Estrovenge

  • Exlinkommunicated

  • Auburned-out

    Any votes or other suggestions?
  • As I've previously mentioned, I like Pete Rose, and I want him in the Hall of Fame. But he has this truth problem that makes it difficult for even ardent supporters to stand by him sometimes.

    In the recent swirl of publicity, Rose has been taking some heat for detracting from the announcement of this year's Hall of Fame electees.

    Pete's response, from an official statement on his website:
    At this time I would like to personally congratulate the newest Hall of Fame Members, Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley. I never intended to diminish the exciting news for these deserving players. The scheduled launch date for this book, established many months ago, was Thursday January 8, 2004. My publisher worked hard to contain the news of this book until after the Hall of Fame announcements and we were both upset when a media leak on Sunday caused the news to be announced on Monday.
    It kind of sounds as if this whole Hall of Fame announcement caught Pete and his publisher by suprise, doesn't it?

    Now here's an Associated Press story from 12/5/03--a little over a month ago. It's entitled "New Pete Rose autobiography coming sooner than expected":
    PHILADELPHIA -- The publication date of Pete Rose's new autobiography has been moved up two months to January.

    My Prison Without Bars, written with Rick Hill, will go on sale Jan. 8, Rodale Inc. said Wednesday.

    The publication date is two days after the announcement of 2004 Hall of Fame inductees.
    Hmm. Of course, it's possible that Pete had no idea of the release date coinciding with the Hall of Fame announcements. But his publisher clearly did, and they had not had this release date planned "many months" ahead of time. In fact, it appears that they moved the date up specifically to coincide with the Hall's announcements.

    It's this kind of thing that always ends up making him look bad. He lies even when he doesn't really have to.

    Thursday, January 08, 2004

    Well, Lottery Lady now admits she was lying through her teeth.

    But, of course, though she is now facing jail time, at least her motives were pure:
    [Elecia Battle] apologized to her husband, her lawyer and [the real winner] Jemison, saying she wanted to use the money to help her family and recently laid-off Cleveland police officers.
    Right. She wanted to help police officers, some of whom will be swinging by shortly to take her to get her picture taken.

    I'm stunned and saddened. If you can't take somebody's word for it when they assure you that they purchased a $162 million lottery ticket that they don't have on them at the moment, when can you do it?
    Brian at Terrible Swift Word has an amusing take on the chutzpah of that gal who claims she bought the lottery ticket worth $162 million--but can't seem to locate it just now:
    . . . .the likelihood of success was almost a small as one's chances of being struck by lightning or, well, winning the lottery. Naaah. It's only $162M. C'mon. It's not like the real winner is ever going to come forward, right? You know, just like all those other Hundreds of Million Dollar lotteries that have gone unclaimed!

    . . . .even if the winner hadn't surfaced, what did she expect? The Lottery Commission is just going to say, "Oh, you lost it? Well that's understandable. We all lose things. Here's a check for $162M. Can we get you anything else?"
    She claims that she lost the ticket, and that the actual winner must have found it afterwards. However, the actual winner has other tickets purchased from the same place at the same time on the same day as the winning ticket, as well as previous lottery tickets in which the same numbers were played.

    I almost can't help admiring this gal in a twisted way. I mean, this scam takes cajones! She's quintessentially American, lying boldly and loudly. The more overwhelming the proof against her, the louder she gets.

    Come to think of it, I also bought the winning ticket and then lost it...

    Wednesday, January 07, 2004

    I'm not comfortable with Dennis Eckersley as a Hall of Famer. In fact, I'm not comfortable with relief pitchers in the Hall period. Rollie Fingers belongs there, because he pretty much invented the closer position. But that's about it.
    I don't ever want the Democrat presidential race to end:

    Kucinich Shows Pie Chart on Radio Debate
    Pete Rose: I never, ever, ever bet on baseball.

    Pete's friends: Pete did too bet on baseball. A lot, for a long time.

    Pete Rose: Okay, I bet on baseball. But I never bet from the clubhouse.

    Pete's friends: Actually, he did bet from the clubhouse. Quite a bit.

    Pete Rose: Uhhhhhh....okay, I bet from the clubhouse. But I never bet on Tuesdays.

    Pete's friends: Sorry. Tuesday was probably Pete's biggest betting day.

    Pete Rose: Doh!

    Monday, January 05, 2004

    Boy, those Howard Dean rallies are becoming more and more unsettling.

    Just sent to me by a friend:

    Tommorrow's New York Times headline: "Dean Blames Bush for Job-less New Testament"
    Dude, check it out! I've finally made it--I'm Discoshaman's "Clog of the Week"!

    I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank the little people. No, really--I mean dwarves. They inspire me.
    Pete Rose has finally admitted betting on baseball.

    The announcement comes as a shock to no one, but I can't tell you how profoundly strange it is to hear those words coming out of his mouth after all these years of denial.

    I worked with Pete Rose at the SportsFan Radio Network from 1995-1997. It would be going too far to say that we were friends, but we got to know each other as well as you get to know most coworkers. I was based (as was most of the network) in Las Vegas. Pete usually did his radio show from his restaurant in Boynton Beach, Florida via an ISDN hookup.

    Once every month or two, he'd come out to Las Vegas to do his show for a few days--usually live from our broadcast set at the MGM Grand sports book. Often, I was the on-set producer for those broadcasts. Though he had a roving band of lackeys and hangers-on, they stayed out of the "booth," and so during the two hours of the program, I'd get to shoot the breeze with him during the commercial breaks about everything from the toughest pitchers he ever faced (Koufax, Gibson, and believe it or not, Randy Jones) to his ban from baseball. Through it all, Rose never admitted that he bet on baseball. Not a wink, not a nod, not any indication of the truth. He always relied publicly and privately on the commissioner's official statement in 1989 that baseball made "no finding" as to whether or not he bet on games.

    I liked Pete Rose. In my time around him, I saw some very unappetizing things. He's a deeply flawed guy in innumerable ways. He is driven, as he concedes, entirely by appetites. But there is a better side. Despite being a rather big-named star, he treated the rest of us like teammates. He was even nice enough to once let me and another guy hitch a ride with him in his hotel-provided limo for the long trip from Lake Tahoe to the Reno airport. I never saw him turn down an autograph seeker. He doesn't drink a drop of alcohol (which often suprises people). And when he's in a good mood, he can be enormous fun to be around.

    The thing about Pete is, he likes to gamble. No kidding, Sherlock. Right? But I mean, he really likes to gamble. He can't not gamble. It's part of who he is. He's the most competitive person I've ever known, and long past the point of being able to compete physically, he seems to channel that competitive instinct into gambling. There was nothing he wouldn't gamble on for the sheer thrill of competition--even eight or nine years after his banishment from baseball.

    During the radio program, he'd be doling out $50 and $100 bills for one of his lackeys to run up to the sports book window to bet on the next horse or dog race. The MGM showed races on TV monitors from at least four or five different tracks at once. Pete bet all of them. And he only bet to win--never to place or show. He rarely won. But he couldn't not bet.

    One time, we were all watching an NFL game on the monitor, and he bet one of our hosts $100 (off the air) that one team would do an onside kick on the next play. The host, a little embarrassed said "Well, Pete, I really don't have $100 bucks I can spare. I'm not quite in your income bracket." No problem, said Pete. "If I'm wrong, I'll give you $100. If you're wrong, you don't have to give me anything." As it turned out, Pete was wrong, and he handed the guy a crisp c-note. It seemed like it was worth it to him; the kickoff just wouldn't have been interesting without something riding on it.

    Another time, several of us watched in amazement as Pete played blackjack (a real rarity--he is almost exclusively a sports bettor) for $1000 per hand. He lost $12,000 in less than ten minutes.

    I'm convinced that he frequently bets everything he has. Because of who he is, his name is an endless source of renewable income (at card shows, etc.), but I doubt that he has anything in the bank. During the aforementioned limo ride out of Lake Tahoe, from where we had been broadcasting for their annual celebrity golf tournament, Pete wistfully commented on how beautiful Lake Tahoe was. "I could stay here a while," he said.

    "You ought to," I said. "We have to be back in the office for the weekend, but there's no reason you can't stay."

    Pete leaned forward and pulled out his empty wallet.

    "With what, Johnny?" he shot back with a grin. "I ain't got any (bleepin') money left!"

    I never entertained any illusions that Pete Rose didn't bet on baseball. I would have been shocked if he didn't. As I said, betting is who he is. For that reason, I think baseball needs to work out a deal that will allow Rose to enter the Hall of Fame, but not to have any day-to-day involvement with a Major League Baseball franchise. If he were allowed back into the game, it would only be asking for trouble.

    But I also know this: the betting rules in baseball are in place to forestall the possibility that a player or manager might be tempted to throw a game to cover a bet. Pete Rose would never, ever, ever bet against himself in anything. The desire to win is the reason he gambles to begin with. Yes, he broke the cardinal rule of baseball, and yes, he deserves to be punished for that (though one could argue that the punishment has been more than served). But no one ever need question the integrity of a game Rose played in or managed, which is what this is all about to begin with.
    Newly-minted Christian Howard Dean is continuing with his God strategy. Recently asked which is his favorite New Testament book, Dean again demonstrated his expertise, according to the New York Times (free registration required):
    Asked his favorite New Testament book, Dr. Dean named Job, adding: "But I don't like the way it ends." "Some would argue, you know, in some of the books of the New Testament, the ending of the Book of Job is different," he said. "I think, if I'm not mistaken, there's one book where there's a more optimistic ending, which we believe was tacked on later."
    Dean was later informed by an aide that Job is in the Old Testament, and revised his answer.

    The article from the Times contains an even more telling quote, however. Dean has been trying to get mileage out of his newly adopted posture as a "Christian" alternative to the "Christian right." It's fascinating to watch his philosophy spill out as he does it. Witness this statement:
    "Don't you think Jerry Falwell reminds you a lot more of the Pharisees than he does of the teachings of Jesus?" he added. "And don't you think this campaign ought to be about evicting the money-changers from the temple?"
    Did you catch that? Dean considers the federal government to be the temple. It's the holiest of holies for him (and most of his fellow Democrats).

    In that passage in the Bible (hey, at least Dean finally picked a New Testament story), Jesus casts the money-changers from the temple saying "Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a place of business." (John 2:16)

    Howard Dean is religious, all right. The federal government truly is his father's house.

    Thursday, January 01, 2004

    Happy New Year to all!

    I had the rare opportunity to interview former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore on a year-in-review radio program yesterday.

    While continuing to pursue appeals in his dismissal as Chief Justice, Judge Moore is currently working towards federal legislation that would specifically circumscribe the federal judiciary's powers and authority in ruling on matters of public acknowledgement of God. With his own case and the Pledge of Allegiance case still in the forefront of the battle for religious freedom, the time might be ripe for just such legislation, which is well within the Congress' constitutional purview. It's high time that the legislative branch act within its delegated authority to reign in the runaway judiciary.

    We encouraged Justice Moore to run for the United States Senate. His response was a non-committal chuckle, but I suspect we have not seen the last of Roy Moore on the national scene yet.