Friday, October 29, 2004

The Quest To Be Ordinary

The irreverent Bill Simmons of has a column on the Red Sox victory that is (dare I say it?) a bit...touching. It helps soften the blow of the Cards, World Series collapse.

There is a strong father/son element in baseball (see "Field of Dreams"), and there's a lot of that going on here. It's why I went to fairly great lengths to take my own son to game 4, and why I've been thrilled that he's embraced the Cardinal faith of his father with great zeal. So it's hard not to be happy for them. Heading into game four, Simmons quoted some of the posters from a Red Sox website, as they closed in on victory:
  • "Win it for my Grandfather (1917-2004) who never got to see the Red Sox win it all but always believed. And for my Dad who watches each and every game wishing his Dad was there to watch with him."
  • "Win it for my 10-year-old son Charlie who fell asleep listening to Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS assuming the Sox would win. When he awakened the next morning, he asked me, eagerly, "Did we win, Dad?" When I told him, gently, No, we did not win, his anguished moan startled me. I knew I had raised him as a Red Sox fan and I began to question whether that was a good thing."
  • "Win it for my grandfather, who succumbed to Alzheimer's in 2002. In one of my last conversations with him, he asked me how Ted Williams was doing. During Game 7 on October 20, his birthday, he was smiling down on the Red Sox."
  • "Win it for my boss, a dear friend who lost his dad unexpectedly in March of this year. More than once this season, I've seen him glance at the phone after a game, half-expecting his father to call to commiserate, rejoice, or just shoot the breeze -- I've also seen the sadness in his eyes as he realizes that the call isn't coming. Win it for his dad, a lifelong fan who never had the opportunity to witness his beloved team taking it all."
That's why baseball's not like any other sport. It just isn't.

Still, I have to wonder if the victory might not leave the Sox fans feeling a bit empty after the euphoria wears off. I know that most Red Sox fans have ridiculed the notion that it was a bad thing to have the "curse" removed, but I'm not sure we should be so quick to dismiss the idea, absurd as it might seem at first blush.

A major piece of the identity of the Red Sox fans has been taken away. Of course, they wanted it to be taken away and they're glad it was taken away. But in their heart of hearts, I wonder if a year or two or ten down the road, they might not miss it more than a little bit. Boston fans (whether they admit it or not) milked that legacy. They thrived on it. They reveled in the "cursed, lovable loser" image, at fate being cosmically aligned against them.

(If you don't believe me, check out nearly any randomly chosen 15 minute segment from [Sox fan] Ken Burns' 9-part, 18-hour epic documentary "Baseball." Two-thirds of the entire program seemed to about the poor, bedraggled, cursed Red Sox. "Here's Doris Kearns Goodwin on the hearbreak of being a Red Sox fan. Now here's Stephen Jay Gould on fate conspiring against the Red Sox. Oh, by the way, Stan Musial and Al Kaline's careers happened. Now here's former Sox pitcher Bill 'Spaceman' Lee on the Curse of the Bambino...")

It's like the proverbial guy who walks with a cane for years until being cured of his malady. After a while, he finds that he had grown quite attached to the cain and misses it, even though being cured had been his deepest desire. I'm truly glad for Red Sox fans like the sons above who have been waiting all their lives to celebrate this with their fathers.

Simmons said in yesterday's column:
The Red Sox were about to win the World Series. And I was about to become Just Another Baseball Fan again.

Because that's all we ever wanted. Nobody understood that. Outsiders made up fake curses, called us losers, pointed to a legacy of failure, questioned our sanity. We kept hoping. We kept the faith.
They got what they wanted. They're now Just Another Baseball Fan again. I hope they'll find it's what they always hoped it would be. But I just wonder.....

I keep thinking of Alexander the Great.

"When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer."

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Wake Me And Tell Me Game One's Tonight

Well, you all saw it, so I won't belabor it (much).

The final game was as disappointing (for a Cardinal fan) as the previous three, though I have to admit it was still fairly cool for my son to see a true piece of baseball history: the Boston Red Sox celebrating a World Series championship. (It still sounds odd to even say.)

Though we regretted the outcome, we congratulated some of the suprisingly many Red Sox fans in attendance on the end of their long nightmare. "St. Louis has great fans," every one of them said. "These are the classiest fans we've ever met. You guys put together (actually they said "togethah") a helluva team this year. What a great town."

Which is the kind of thing a St. Louisan wants to hear. Some criticize St. Louis fans for being too forgiving. In a lot of cities, such overtures to the opposition would be seen as some kind of weakness. But St. Louisans love their team like no other fans in baseball; they also just happen to appreciate anyone who plays good ball.

Whatever happens next year, I could use a little less "genius." Larry Walker, the one guy who hit the ball solidly in game three, BUNTING in the first inning with a man on first? With that kind of genius, who needs stupidity?

The Cardinals have won nine World Series titles and 16 N.L. pennants. They'll be back there again, and probably sooner than later. In the meantime, Red Sox fans ought to enjoy a well-earned, long awaited victory.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Time To Put On The Paper Bags

St. Louis is a proud town with a bit of an inferiority complex. And this baseball team is embarrassing my hometown.

Hope springs eternal (especially against a team battling an 86 year curse), and the Red Sox know as well as anyone that it's possible for a team to come back from three games down.

But this is an embarrassment. I can't recall a team playing this poorly when everything was on the line. My son and I will be in the park tonight, desperately hoping that we don't have to see one of sports' most enduring curses end in our ballpark against our team.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A Partisan Tale

As we prepared to fly to Washington D.C. a week ago Saturday, our plane had a technical problem at the gate at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. According to the pilot, they were "getting an indicator light" in the cockpit, and it would take 15-20 minutes to fix.

As is sometimes the case, the 20 minutes began to stretch. "Sorry folks," he said, "the fast fix they tried didn't work, so it's going to be a little longer."

As it happens, President Bush (who's been spending a lot of time down here in the waning days of the campaign, as have Dick Cheney, John Kerry, Theresa Heinz Kerry, Bill Clinton, etc.) was due to speak in Ft. Lauderdale that same morning. As Air Force One approached the airport, our pilot told us that for security reasons, all activity on the tarmac would have to cease while the president de-planed and his motorcade left. In all, the presidential delay would add perhaps 15 minutes to the fix.

Shortly, the motorcade was off, and one could hear the sounds of the mechanics working on our plane again. At this point, our flight was about an hour late, 10-15 minutes of it due to the president.

A heavyset, obviously lesbian, American Indian woman sitting behind me began to get a little antsy. Since there was no estimate on how long it would take to fix the problem, the flight attendants told people to feel free to leave the plane to go back into the terminal for a time if they wanted to. The rotund lesbian was not really mobile enough to make it out, but she asked the woman sitting next to her to bring her back a Starbuck's.

After we had been delayed about an hour and a half, she began dialing her cell phone. "Yeah, I'm going to be late," she said. "Bush just landed here at the airport and they have everything shut down. I have no idea when we'll be able to leave....Yeah, Bush. Not President Bush, just Bush....I won't call him 'president'....Yeah, I'll call you later."

A few minutes later (with the whirring sounds of hydraulic equipment beneath us clearly audible as mechanics work on the plane), she dialed someone else.

"Yeah, I'm stuck here on the runway in Ft. Lauderdale. They won't let anyone come or go because Bush is here...Not 'President Bush,' just 'Bush'....We saw him land a while ago, and now we're all just sitting here and have no idea how long we'll be stuck here."

Another announcement from over the P.A. system: "Sorry folks, the mechanics are still working on resolving this issue, but unfortunately, we don't have any estimate for you yet." As I looked out the windows of the plane, I saw other airliners taxiing in and out of the terminal on either side of us. Planes are taking off and landing on the active runway. It's now been about 45 minutes since the president's motorcade left the airport, and about 40 minutes since the mechanics resumed working on the plane.

"Yeah, I'm stuck in Ft. Lauderdale," Pocahontas O'Donnell said to another unsuspecting phone friend. "Bush--not 'President Bush;' just 'Bush'--is here and they shut everything down at the airport....I'm about to miss my connection because of him," she said.

She called three or four more friends. Then she called the airline to try to book another connecting flight to Syracuse, and as soon as the customer service representative answered the phone, she said...well, you can guess what she said.

Amazingly enough, this line of talk continued even after the presidential motorcade arrived back at the airport and Air Force One had departed for its next destination. In all, our flight was delayed 3 1/2 hours before finally being cancelled, and about 20 minutes of that delay was attributable to the president's arrival.

But why should the facts get in the way of a good rant that also has the benefit of making one seem proximate to Important Goings-Ons (i.e. "Gosh, my interaction with the president is really screwing up my day...")? She called every poor soul who had the misfortune of having been programmed into her cell phone to tell them the same false story, trading on the president's importance to boost her own, even as she railed against him.

I never got to hear, but I wonder if she blamed Bush for the ultimate cancellation of the flight, too? Maybe the electrical problem in our plane was his fault? In John Kerry's America, there will be no maintenance problems with planes.

Will Work For Flu Shots

You know that there's much political hay to be made--at your expense--whenever the old "price gouging" canard starts being raised again.

This time, politicians are scoring a few cheap points over supposed "price gouging" of flu shots. Whenever a politician starts whining about price gouging, there is one thing you can be absolutely sure of: you are in no way, shape, or form going to have any chance of getting whatever it is that they're supposedly keeping cheap for you.

Once again, for those of you who are new: artificial price controls (which are what so-called "price gouging" laws are) produce shortages. They circumvent the natural law of supply and demand. A healthy 30 year old man might not ordinarily get a flu shot. But when he hears frenzied media reports of shortages and sees that the clinic next door still has a few shots left for $10 or $15, it starts to look like quite a bargain. So he (and everyone else, regardless of need) runs to get one, and hence we have no more flu shots.

For those of you who needed a flu shot but didn't get one, here's some news for you: if the market were allowed to determine the price, you'd still be able to get one. Less people would have been buying them, and drug companies would have had incentive to make more of them. Keep that in mind the next time someone wants to give your state attorney general the Nobel Peace Prize for "keeping flu shots affordable." It's much better to have an expensive one that actually exists than an imaginary cheap one.

Monday, October 25, 2004

More Baseball Musings

Okay, I give. What's the deal with the disgusting, encrusted helmets and hats Major Leaguers are wearing now? I know it's more than just the natural dirt buildup from games, because some World Series players already had dirty hats in the first game--and they all got new hats for the World Series. In other words, they're actually pre-dirtying their hats. To what end I don't know. That helmet Manny Ramirez wears looks like something I wouldn't even touch, let alone wear.

And I think I speak for all Americans when I say "We've seen enough of Curt Schilling's bloody sock." That thing has been more analyzed than the Shroud of Turin.

Coming up in Game Three: Pedro Martinez and the world's first bell-bottomed baseball uniform.

Home Sweet Home

We're back from our visit to Washington D.C. I wish I could talk more about it, but most of the details are classified...

But here are a few of the things I'd have been posting if I had been here.

  • The Cardinals win the pennant! The Cardinals win the pennant!
  • The Cardinals then lose two straight dreadful games to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. They're not getting clutch hitting right now, and are leaving tons of runners in scoring position. The way they're playing right now makes one wonder "How did this team win 105 games this year, let alone make it to the World Series?"
  • Things will be much different in St. Louis tomorrow night. The heart of the Cardinals order is too good to be silent on home turf with 51,000 Cards fans (the best in baseball) going nuts.
  • On Wednesday night at Game Four, my son and I will be two of those 51,000 fans. An old family friend came through and scored two box seats on the third base side for us. We're flying up Wednesday and flying home Thursday. It's an extravagance far beyond anything that normally happens in my family, but as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, you only get one chance to be twelve years old and see your team play in the World Series, so I'm doing whatever I have to do to get my son up there.
  • I'm not even going to talk about the Rams. Pitiful. Absolutely pitiful.
  • Up until last week, the only time I had ever visited Washington D.C. purely as a tourist (Whoops! There goes the intrigue...) was on a school field trip when I was in 8th grade in 1983. I saw exactly one "celebrity" there (and haven't seen another since): Pierre Salinger. Salinger, who had been press secretary under President John F. Kennedy, was by then a correspondent on ABC's "20/20," and was filming a stand-up outside of one of the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall.

    This week--21 years later--as the family and I were touring Arlington National cemetery on Thursday, a funeral procession came rolling through. As it turned out, it was the funeral procession for...Pierre Salinger.

Anyway, it's good to be back where it's nice and warm again. Is the election still on? Ah, I see it is. I'm sure there will be a few political observations this week as I get re-acclimated.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Sightseeing Respite

I'm heading up to Washington D.C. tommorrow (10/16), and will be there all week. Blogging will likely be light at best.

Have a great week, all!

Peroutka's Bully Pulpiteers

For a while now, a certain bully contingent in conservative Christianity has made a practice of hounding Christians who are planning cast votes for Bush for not being "authentically Christian" in their thinking.

According to this gang, Michael Peroutka of the Constitution Party is the only acceptable "national" candidate for president. Since Peroutka's supporters (at least on the Internet) have a tendency to be more than a little bombastic and self-righteous, some of those who have been pressured to vote for him have only been given one side of the story.

Recently some allegations have been published about Peroutka (hat tip to Jon Barlow for the link) which raise some disturbing questions about his character--especially since he's being touted as the "Christian candidate." Some of the charges are more well-proven than others, but since Peroutka's supporters are in the habit of quoting every feverish conspiracy rumor about George Bush that finds it's way onto the Internet, one must assume their tacit acceptance of the veracity of such charges.

Among things not widely known by Peroutka's supporters, Peroutka:

  • got nailed for a DUI in 1991 (15 years after Bush's)
  • transferred parental responsibility for his two teenaged stepdaughters to the state of Maryland's foster care system in the early 1990's, despite the Constitution Party's platform, which says "parents have the fundamental right and responsibility to nurture, educate, and discipline their children"
  • has, according to the stepdaughters, cut them off from all contact with their mother
  • has a stepdaughter who, in a sworn statement, cited "several occasions when my stepfather would mash my face into the floor, sit on me to restrain me, push me against a wall, and pull my hair while demanding that I call myself a 'slut.'"
  • may have engaged in illegal political donations, including donating money to campaigns in his children's names to skirt donation laws
  • is an anti-free market protectionist
There are a number of other charges and inconsistencies as well. One may still come to the conclusion that Peroutka is his man. But he should at least have all the information at his disposal when he chooses, and he won't get it from Peroutka's Internet enforcers.

Relatively Ridiculous

Rich Lowry of National Review has a marvelous column today on the weasely relativism of John Kerry.

My problem with Kerry isn't only his abhorrent views on abortion, homosexuality, and a host of other social issues. It's his sneaky, gutless stand on them. As bad as the harpies at NARAL are, at least they have the courage of standing behind their wrongheaded convictions.

Lowry simply nails it here:
Asked at the Arizona debate about Catholic bishops who say it would be a sin to vote for a candidate who, like Kerry, supports unlimited abortion and the destruction of human embryos for research purposes, Kerry said: "I completely respect their views. I am a Catholic. And I grew up learning how to respect those views."

Where to start? Saying that you "respect" the view that the destruction of human life is wrong is almost insulting. This isn't like respecting someone's choice to order the merlot instead of the cabernet. The view that the sanctity of all human life is paramount demands to be accepted or rejected. Merely respecting it is a weasely way of saying you reject it.
Because of Kerry's political gamesmanship, he won't come out and say he rejects it, even though it's the neccessary conclusion of his statements and positions. All his blather about "respect" and quoting the Bible is simply a disingenuous effort to obscure his real beliefs. Lowry continues:
Kerry then shifted to arguing essentially that, even if he were to consider all life sacred, he couldn't do anything about it: "I believe that I can't legislate or transfer to another American citizen my article of faith." This is a sophomoric relativism that ignores the fact that our most important laws have a moral underpinning. In any case, Kerry quickly contradicted it: "There's a great passage of the Bible that says, What does it mean, my brother, to say you have faith if there are no deeds? Faith without works is dead. And I think that everything you do in public life has to be guided by faith."

So, Kerry presented diametrically opposed views on the role of morality in public life within about 30 seconds. He went on to say that his environmentalism and his poverty-fighting measures were borne of his faith. In other words, his faith affects everything — including his position on whether the minimum wage should be $5.15 or $7 an hour — but not how he legislates concerning life issues, because it would be wrong to legislate his morality, although he does it all the time.
As many have pointed out, morality is the only thing you can legislate. John Kerry does want to legislate a certain kind of morality. It just doesn't happen to be the morality shared by the vast majority of Americans, so he must pay lip service to "respecting" their morality while acting to subvert it.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

...She Really Sits Around The House

So Kerry brought Dick Cheney's gay daughter into the conversation again last night, the second time the Dems have done this in the debates.

Today, after Lynne Cheney strenuously objected, John Edwards' wife Elizabeth said on ABC Radio:
She's overreacted to this and treated it as if it's shameful to have this discussion. I think that's a very sad state of affairs… I think that it indicates a certain degree of shame with respect to her daughter's sexual preferences… It makes me really sad that that's Lynne's response.

Here's what I so wish. I wish that there had been a question in last night's debate about our national obesity problem. Then Bush could have responded by saying:
We ought not to treat obesity as a character or discipline problem. Why, my opponent's running mate John Edwards is married to a huge, fat woman himself. And John Edwards loves his bovine wife. I have great respect for the way that John Edwards supports (metaphorically speaking of course; I mean, he's not Superman!) his corpulent, lardy, genetically "big-boned" wife. It's touching.
Suppose Mr. or Mrs. Edwards might say something about that? Not if they're comfortable with her porcine appearance, which undoubtedly they are. Wouldn't bother them a bit. Right?

Bush Is Finally Reading My Blog

Though he should have hit it harder, President Bush finally said what I begged the administration to say in one of these debates last week.

Last Wednesday, I asked them to say the following:
Though we had United Nations approval for the [Gulf] war, and though we built this immense, multilateral coalition, it still wasn't enough for John Kerry. One shudders to think what sort of coalition would pass John Kerry's 'global test' and cause him to actually defend America's interests
Last night, Bush finally did it, saying:
In 1990, there was a vast coalition put together to run Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. The international community, the international world said this is the right thing to do, but when it came time to authorize the use of force on the Senate floor, my opponent voted against the use of force.

Apparently you can't pass any test under his vision of the world.
The debates are finally over, with the main damage against Bush being done in the first one. Things are basically even. The administration now has slightly less than three weeks to use all that money they raised to put John Kerry's record on defense out there for all to see. If you read between the lines of Kerry's debate responses, it becomes obvious that his answers are the typical liberal Democrat answers. The country always rejects those answers when they're put in plain language. The Bush campaign needs to use the remaining days to put Kerry's answers into plain language.

People Bad, Government Good

Here's the entire philosophy of the Democrat Party encapsulated in one short John Kerry quote from last night's debate:
You just heard the president say that young people ought to be able to take money out of Social Security and put it in their own accounts.

Now, my fellow Americans, that's an invitation to disaster.
To a Democrat, letting people keep and control their own money is "an invitation to disaster." Go ahead, pull the donkey lever. See how long that "optional" government health care plan that Kerry's promising you remains optional.

Ten years down the road, people who want to buy their own health insurance or pay for their own medical care rather than use the government's bloated, inefficient program will be seen as "an invitation to disaster."

Once again, we see that the Democrat notion of "choice" only applies to gay sex and baby killing. It does not apply to choosing your own school, investing your own money, or planning your own retirement.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

"Stop The Presses! Now!"

Whether you like him or hate him, David Frum has some wonderful thoughts in today's National Review Online regarding the attempts of Democrats to censor an anti-Kerry documentary Sinclair Broadcasting will air later this month.
You may remember how the Librarians’ Association has been warning of the threat to free speech posed by the Bush administration’s war on terror. Yet twice now the Kerry campaign has dealt with unwanted criticism by seeking to use the full power of law to silence critics – without adverse comment from those or other supposed First Amendment enthusiasts. The Kerry campaign sent lawyer’s letters to bookstores threatening them with dire consequences if they sold Unfit for Command. Now the Democratic National Committee has appealed to the Federal Elections Commission to try to prevent a broadcaster from broadcasting a public-affairs program critically examining the qualifications of a candidate for president.
As I've always said, a fascistic impulse underlies the Left, which is ironic considering their constant accusations of "fascism" toward the Right. When it comes to non-approved expression which has not been filtered through the Left's elaborate speech codes, they will spare no effort in bringing the arm of the government down to silence it.

It's also nice to see the Left being hoisted by their McCain-Feingold petard. Some, like former conservative (and current flaming homosexual) David Brock, are claiming that the Sinclair documentary is a violation of campaign finance laws--essentially proving that the Left supported such laws as a method of silencing dissent. But evidently they didn't actually read the law close enough:
McCain-Feingold applies to candidates, not broadcasters – that’s the reason PBS is not legally required to produce a pro-Bush documentary to balance its pro-Kerry piece. (It's also the reason that so many media outlets supported the "reform": It empowered them at the expense of candidates and political parties.) Likewise the “free time” rule applies to commercials produced by the candidates – not to the broadcaster’s own comment and information.

Sinclair has precisely the same obligations to the Kerry campaign as, say, 60 Minutes did to the Bush campaign: which is to say, none whatsoever. And as far as we know, Sinclair seems to be upholding a far higher standard of accuracy and independence in its public affairs programming than 60 Minutes met.
The claims of the Left to support "free speech" are bogus, as is demonstrated time and time again in such instances. They support their own free speech, and the forced muzzling of everyone else. All who went along with McCain-Feingold were nothing more than their Useful Idiots and dupes.

Journeys With John

Last night on HBO, I watched Alexandra Pelosi's documentary "Diary of a Political Tourist."

Pelosi, who's the daughter of House Minority Leader (and radical kook) Nancy Pelosi, previously had done an amusing documentary on George W. Bush's 2000 campaign called "Journeys With George," where she tried to make Bush out to be a buffoon, but he came out looking fairly likable anyway.

In this one, she followed the Democratic candidates from about a year before the primaries up until the convention. The program was interesting, though not as entertaining as "Journeys"--which is partially due to the utter dullness of the Dem candidates, and partially due to Pelosi's drastically ramping up the annoying Michael Moore Factor, this time making herself the center of events.

But there was one particularly interesting moment, which you won't be seeing in a lot of Kerry-Edwards ads before the election. John Edwards was being heckled by an effeminate anti-war protester in Iowa who was demanding to know "what about the thousands of dead Iraqis in the war you voted for?" So Edwards wheels around on the guy, points a finger at him, and forcefully says "I think I did the right thing about this war. I think we should have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein! It's a good thing he's gone!"

I don't recall hearing that in his vice-presidential debate last week.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Checking It Twice

I want a TiVo for Christmas.

Just in case you were thinking of getting me something.

That's Why They Call Themselves Activists

Timothy Noah and his fellow idiots on the Left are completely missing President Bush's point in invoking the Dred Scott decision during Friday night's debate.

According to Noah and the tinfoil hat crowd, "Dred Scott" is supposedly a "codeword" which the "religious right" will understand to mean "Roe v. Wade." In other words, "opposing Dred Scott" means "overturning Roe v. Wade."

There's no question that many conservatives have compared the two rulings. And there's no question that the two rulings have many things in common--first and foremost that they are pristine examples of outrageous judicial activism.

But Bush's point is much simpler than the mouth-breathing Left wants to realize. When you let the Constitution be a wax nose to be molded by the personal opinions of the Supreme Court, you are at the mercy of the wavering opinions of a few unelected and unaccountable elites. You might think that's great as long as they agree with you, but as soon as it's your ox being gored, you might not be so thrilled.

Liberals love the activism of Roe v. Wade, while they (presumably) hate the activism of Dred Scott. But that's precisely Bush's point. The point liberals can't seem to get through their thick skulls is that both are examples of judicial manufacture of law.

Bush believes that the making of Constitutional law should be left to the people and to the Constitution itself. That only affects any particular ruling (such as Roe) insofar as the particular ruling is pure judicial lawmaking.

By screaming bloody murder over it, the liberals are proving that they know Roe is a judicial house of cards ready to fall at any moment. They ought to question whether they really want to champion a judicial philosophy that creates decisions like Dred Scott. That's Bush's point, and despite the ridicule he initially received, he's proving to have drawn some blood on it.

I Knew They Had a Messiah Complex, But...

I'm starting to think the Democrats may be overpromising a bit, as is their custom.

According to Drudge, John Edwards apparently said today, "When John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk."

Now they're promising to raise the dead? If people like Christopher Reeve start to walk, that's gonna be some scary stuff. I hope they don't do that dance like in the "Thriller" video.

Monday, October 11, 2004

When You're Wrong, You're Wrong

Since I try to be fair-minded here, even though I am unabashadly partisan (and I think it's possible to be both), the time has come for me to admit something.

Marc Bulger is a pretty good quarterback.

I was hard on the Rams last year for choosing Bulger over Kurt Warner, and I think that Warner has amply demonstrated with the New York Giants that he still has a lot left to offer (contrary to what some hysterics in the media were saying last year). But Bulger has led the Rams like a real all-pro over the past three games, and was nothing short of spectacular in leading the Rams' impossible comeback yesterday.

I think I was wrong about the guy, and I'm glad I was.

(P.S. The fact that the Rams have bailed out head coach Mike Martz the past few weeks in no way proves that Martz has suddenly gotten a clue about what he's doing.)

The Sports Book Is Open

Christopher Reeve has died at 52. It is 9:43am as I write this. How long before the Kerry campaign obliquely (or not so obliquely) attempts to blame George W. Bush for his death and cash in on it?

I'm setting the over/under at 6 hours. And most serious betting people, knowing a bargain when they see one, will take the under.

Saturday, October 09, 2004


Kerry isn't the only one who whiffed tonight. The usually sharp gang over at The Corner went into full pillow-biting mode from minute one of the debate, and never really recovered. That despite the fact that "regular people" evidently kept sending them email after email telling them they were nuts.

My guess: they got caught cheerleading last time around ("Wow, he's really kicking it here! Bush is rolling over Kerry!") and were embarrassed enough that they stopped trusting their instincts. They went into self-flagellation mode and started seeing everything through Terry McAuliff's sunglasses.

Just goes to show you that even folks on the right can fall prey to groupthink.

Round Two

I don't know if Bush got the TKO he needed, but he owned this debate tonight. The media spin (as it stands now) is B.S., and it will change several times over the next few days.

As you know, the conventional wisdom on the first debate is now that Kerry destroyed Bush. I happen to share that view. BUT, remember that immediately after the debate the wimpy mainstream media was calling it a draw. It was only after the polls began showing that people favored Kerry's performance by a 60-30 margin a day or two later that suddenly the media began to see it as a blowout.

They're so terrified of getting burned by an incorrect analysis that they'll dance around for a day or two on this one too. But whatever their current spin is, it won't change the fact that President Bush was absolutely in command of tonight's (now last night's) debate. He was rested, he was articulate (for him, anyway), he was in command of the facts, and he scored some devastating points on Kerry's record.

Bush's only weak moments were in his answers to the Supreme Court question and the stem cell issue (where the questioner set him up beautifully to proclaim his support for adult stem cell research, and to point out the embryonic stem cells have produced exactly zero treatments to date--which he totally failed to do).

Kerry's weak moments were just about everywhere else. I'm still trying to figure out that odd Red Sox reference. And he wiffed--badly--at his opportunity to knock Bush out of the park on the final question ("Name three mistakes you've made") when Bush didn't admit to any mistakes. He could have said "You see? The president simply cannot admit a mistake. Do we really want a president who won't admit when he's wrong, and instead will stubbornly drive us down the old, dusty road of error?" Instead, he merely disagreed with Bush on Iraq--not exactly newsmaking at this point--and allowed Bush to dodge a huge bullet.

Tonight was a decisive victory for President Bush, and will put him back on a more even footing after Kerry's eight-day first-debate media basking.

And yes, after watching the undecided voters on TV tonight being interviewed after the debate on every network, I'm more convinced than ever that they're complete idiots.

Friday, October 08, 2004

A Plea

It's 3:39pm in St. Louis right now. Mr. President, please, for the sake of all that's holy, take a nap right now.

All The Marbles

As we saw in 2000, even if President Bush were to take his slight lead straight into the election next month, it would probably evaporate on election day. The Democrats are whipping the black vote into a frenzy (already hurling charges of "voter supression"), and if they turn out in strong numbers, it's over for Bush (at least as things stand now). And as Joel Rosenberg points out today, if undecided voters were to swing towards Kerry by a 2-1 margin, Bush again loses in a landslide.

With the polls looking as they do, President Bush will need to deliver nothing less than a knockout punch (or at least a TKO) in tonight's debate. Frankly, I don't think he has the ability on his feet to do it? Kerry will come prepared with new weapons in his arsenal--the new job numbers, the Duelfer Report, Paul Bremer's comments from the other day, etc. Kerry has the verbal ability to frame any of those issues in a way that might score points and catch Bush off guard. Will Bush be quick enough on his feet to effectively respond and turn it back on Kerry? Will he be prepared enough to be ready, but not overprepared so that his responses sound canned and unconvincing?

People have said that these debates don't really mean anything. I disagree. Last week's debate seems to have spearheaded a near-reversal in the poll numbers. Undecided voters are swinging toward Kerry in increasing numbers. Bush's lackluster performance last week handed the momentum of this campaign to a candidate who had nearly self-immolated. The president's campaign cannot survive a second consecutive such debacle.

It won't be enough tonight to be "right on substance." It won't be enough to simply repeat over and over again that Kerry is inconsistent. Can Bush take the offensive against Kerry and turn Kerry's attacks into positives on the fly? I have my doubts.

Maybe the President will prove me wrong.

From The Onion

Irrelevant Pop Stars Unite Against Bush

"I can't let this election take place without knowing I fought as hard as I could for a more compassionate leader," 51-year-old John Mellencamp said. "If playing my 1986 hit 'R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.' at the Hancher Auditorium in Iowa City will dissuade people from voting for Bush, then I'm going to do it."

Tangled Web

Proponents of so-called homosexual "marriage" are in the habit of telling us how "normal" such unions are. Why, it will hardly cause a blip on the marital radar screen, they tell us. It's just like a regular family with only superficial differences.

I thought this was an interesting paragraph from an AP story on lesbian rock star Melissa Etheridge today:
Etheridge and actress Tammy Lynn Michaels held a commitment ceremony in September 2003. The musician, who lives in Los Angeles, shares custody of a daughter and son with former partner Julie Cypher, who had the children through artificial insemination using a sperm donation from rocker David Crosby.
Sounds pretty normal to me.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

No Respect

I was sorry to see that Rodney Dangerfield died yesterday. I had previously noted his tremendous line when he went into the hospital for heart surgery: “If things go right, I'll be there about a week, and if things don't go right, I'll be there about an hour and a half.”

As we now know, things didn’t go right. The operation must have been performed by Dr. Vinny Boombatz.

I, in the course of living my rather odd life, somehow crossed paths with Rodney a couple of times.

I bumped into him once on “radio row” at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas before the Tyson-Bruno II fight in 1997, where he was, typically, making the rounds in a wild Hawaiian shirt and that awful late-career Jack Lord hairdo he wore for a while. He really did jerk around like that when he was just standing there; constant, frenetic motion. In a room full of heavyweight champions, boxing legends, and even Don King, Dangerfield was the center of attention.

The next year, I had the opportunity to interview him on my radio show. It was a thrill for me, an aficionado of comedians, to be interviewing the man whom almost every living comic looked up to as an icon (if not a mentor, as he was to many, many young comics, like Sam Kinison, Jim Carrey, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, Roseanne Barr, Bob Saget, and a whole truckload of others).

Unfortunately, the interview itself was a disappointment. Rodney was very nice and gracious, but he seemed to be in a hurry to get away. (Although that was par for the course on my show...) I wanted to talk mostly about “Caddyshack” and his place in comedy history, he mostly wanted to talk about the home video release of “Meet Wally Sparks” or something. There was a lot of selling going on. (“I get no respect, I tell ya. I get no respect at 8 and 10pm at the MGM Grand, and I get no respect on my website at”) But hey, it’s not like he came on the show because he felt the urge to spend some quality time with me. It was still a thrill, even if it wasn't one for the archives.

I saw him perform live once, at a taping of Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show.” He was probably 73 or 74 at that point. And he killed. Just ripped the place up. Even at that age, he still worked hard for every laugh.

He wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But for those of us of the male persuasion who grew up watching Miller Lite commercials and “Caddyshack,” it didn’t get more solid than Rodney.

There's a nice piece on Dangerfield at the Weekly Standard, published upon the release of his recent autobiography in August before he went into the hospital. At the time, Dangerfield was doing well, and was out promoting the book.

The author, Duncan Currie, was prophetic. The closing lines of the article:
Rodney won't be with us much longer. "I can count," he writes, "and I know my days are numbered." But, he reassures us, he's not about to go anytime soon. Why? "There are too many people out there who owe me money."
How better than to close with a classic Rodney one-liner?:

"When we got married my wife told me I was one in a million. I found out she was right!" Ba-dum-bum.

Broken Record

On a more positive note, Cheney did do well (and certainly much better than President Bush) in defending the war in Iraq.

Still, there's just one point that's dying to be made, and for some reason neither Bush nor Cheney want to make it. Now that the foreign policy portion of the debates is over, they may never get to.

Kerry, at the first debate, and Edwards again last night, both keep pointing to Gulf War I as the model of what a "real coalition" should look like.

Here's what I was dying to hear Cheney say last night:
It's interesting that the senator keeps bringing up the coalition for the first Gulf War as some sort of gold standard for coalitions. I certainly agree it was a great coalition. As the Secretary of Defense at that time, I helped build that coalition. But we must take note of something important here. After we built that coalition--which Senator Edwards uses as the benchmark of great coalitions--John Kerry still voted against the first Gulf War. Though we had United Nations approval for the war, and though we built this immense, multilateral coalition, it still wasn't enough for John Kerry. One shudders to think what sort of coalition would pass John Kerry's 'global test' and cause him to actually defend America's interests.
Cheney finally started attacking some of Kerry's actual record last night. They need to do more of it. If the Republicans stick to the "flip-flopper" attack exclusively and ignore the Kerry record, they will lose in November. Period.

A Pyrrhic Victory?

I hate to always have be the one to pee on the parade, but...

There seems to be much exuberance within Republican ranks over Dick Cheney's performance in last night's debate. Many on both sides of the race seem to think that Cheney, though gruff and low-key compared to John Edwards' smarmy Southern syrup, got the best of it. Chris Matthews, no Republican, said on "Hardball" that "it was like a squirt gun against a machine gun." Even Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert seemed to think Cheney wholloped him.

But while I'm always glad to see liberal Democrats put in their place, I have to ask those Christians who identify with the Republican Party: do you really think Cheney did a great job? I must admit, I must not be drinking whatever Hugh Hewitt (who lately seems to be morphing into Mary Matalin) is, because as a Christian I'm finding it hard to be all that enthusiastic about it.

First, it would have been a nice bonus if Cheney's best line of the debate ("The first time I ever met you was when you walked on the stage tonight") had actually been true. It's not.

(Photo from the Drudge Report)

This easily disprovable claim will come back to haunt Cheney in a big way.

Secondly, when the Democrat candidate does a better job of defending the traditional definition of marriage than the Republican does, you know there's a problem on the Republican side.

John Edwards, true to his ticket, tried to have it both ways by saying that marriage is "between a man and a woman," but that the President is "trying to divide America" by endorsing a Constitutional amendment saying exactly what Edwards had just affirmed. And rather than calling him on it, Cheney sat there and declined his rebuttal.

Is it possible that some conservative Christians are getting so wrapped up in this as a team sport that they're failing to see that Dick Cheney ain't exactly what we'd want as a president and the George W. Bush could have done a lot better in filling out the ticket?

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The Boys Of Summer

It's a deeply-held belief of mine that every 12- or 13-year-old boy deserves to have his team win the World Series.

As I write, the Cardinals are leading the Dodgers 7-2 in Game One of their five game divisional playoff series. In the regular season, my Redbirds (with a perfect balance of strong pitching and great hitting) put together a 105-win season this year on the way to compiling the best record in Major League Baseball.

The last time the Cardinals won the World Series, in October 1982, I was 13 years old. Sure, millions of Americans of all ages eat and breathe sports, but it's hard to describe the thrill of having the team you live and die with win it all when you're 13. Those who are not sports fans will gag in disgust as I say this, while those who've been there will know exactly what I mean: it's a milestone life-event for a kid.

Since 1982, the great Cardinals franchise (which has won more World Series titles and more pennants than any other team in the National League) has run into some tough luck. Not Boston Red Sox or Chicago Cubs-type tough luck, mind you, but tough luck nonetheless.

In 1985, their fastest player, Vince Coleman, was run over by a one-mile-per-hour tarp during warm-ups before Game One, and knocked out of the World Series. Then, the Cards were within two outs of their second World Series title in three years when umpire Don Denkinger blew a call at first base (judged the worst blown baseball call in history by the readers of USA Today) that allowed the Kansas City Royals to rally and win Game Six. They then trounced the demoralized 'Birds in Game Seven to win the title.

In 1987, the Cardinals again advanced to Game Seven of the World Series, this time against the Minnesota Twins. Their power-hitting MVP candidate Jack Clark was injured and couldn't play, and Ozzie Smith famously claimed that the Twins were monkeying with the air conditioning inside the Metrodome to help Twins fly balls become home runs, and to keep opposing home runs in the park. (At the time, he was dismissed as a paranoid nutcase; the Metrodome's superintendent later admitted to doing just what Ozzie had charged.) The Twins beat the Cardinals like red-headed stepchildren.

In more recent years, despite numerous divisional titles and post-season appearances, the've consistently fallen short of the pennant. But this year, they seem to have put it all together. They have hitting. They have pitching. They have a bullpen. They have defense. They have speed. If the Redbirds don't win it this year after the season they've had, I don't know when they ever will.

My own son is now 12 years old, and is a Cardinals fanatic to his bones. He'll stroll into the living room at 11:30pm, long after bedtime, to ask "Dad? Who do you think LaRussa will start in game one with Carpenter being hurt?" He wears his Cardinals cap so much that he might be bald underneath it for all I know anymore. He wonders endlessly about how Jim Edmonds can generate so much power with such a wide batting stance. He was a digital watch that plays "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" whenever a Cardinals game is about to begin. He is into it.

Every 12- or 13-year old kid deserves to have his team win the World Series. Man, I sure hope this is my son's year.

A Clarification

Through some reader feedback on my previous entry, it has come to my attention that I may have been misunderstood when I said that voters who are still undecided should be "put to sleep."

To clear up any misunderstanding, I'd like to stress that I was using humorous overstatement, and that I don't really think undecided voters should be involuntarily euthanized.

Internment camps, forced labor, and intensive re-education would be just fine.

Monday, October 04, 2004

The Tyranny Of The Brainless

The conventional wisdom seems to be developing around last Thursday night's debate, and as I originally feared, it's not the least bit good for President Bush. I don't think it's overstating it to say that the first debate, from the pro-Bush perspective at least, will eventually be referred to as "the disastrous first debate."

The shame of it all is that this debate, like everything else the campaigns will do for the next month, was primarily geared towards the "undecided voter." It is the "undecided voter" that holds the future in his trembling hands.

As I've mentioned before, at this stage not only should our most crucial decisions not be left up to "undecided voters," but it is my firm opinion that anyone who is still undecided this late in the game should actually be put to sleep.

"Hmmmm...." says the Undecided Voter. "I'm just not sure how I feel on abortion, homosexual marriage, the war in Iraq, taxes, governmentalized health care, homeland security, or judicial activism. I have no firm opinions yet on that stuff. Maybe the next debate will help me decide."

Such a person is not merely "undecided." Such a person is "amoral," "completely lacking a moral or philosophical compass," and "a clear and present danger to society." He should be put down for his own safety and the safety of those around him.

Pungent As The Bourbon She Gargles

If you hate Maureen Dowd like I hate Maureen Dowd, you absolutely must read this brilliant parody of her precious, cutesy, PMS snarkiness at National Review Online.

Friday, October 01, 2004

A View From A Bushophile

I can't say "ditto" strongly enough to Jay Nordlinger's critique of Bush's debate performance. I respect a guy who, though he loves the president unreservedly, is honest enough to let reality trump affection. He absolutely nails it on the head. Everything he says (written immediately after the debate) is what I mean to say:
Although the two candidates had the same amount of time, Kerry got many, many more words in. And they weren't rushed words. Kerry spoke at a good, measured pace all through.

Bush said, "We're makin' progress" a hundred times — that seemed a little desperate. He also said "mixed messages" a hundred times — I was wishing that he would mix his message. He said, "It's hard work," or, "It's tough," a hundred times. In fact, Bush reminded me of Dan Quayle in the 1988 debate, when the Hoosier repeated a couple of talking points over and over, to some chuckles from the audience (if I recall correctly).

Staying on message is one thing; robotic repetition — when there are oceans of material available — is another.

When Kerry said that our people in the military didn't have enough equipment, Bush was pretty much blasé. He showed no indignation. He might have said, "How dare you? How dare you contend that I am leaving our fighting men and women defenseless!"
Kerry leveled charge after charge that went unrebutted. People keep telling me that Bush "won on substance." I have to wonder more and more "How so?" "It's hard work" isn't substance.

And yes, we understand that Kerry is a flip-flopper. It deserves to be mentioned. But while we're at it, could we also maybe touch on the fact that the beliefs he doesn't waver on are abhorrent? As Nordlinger perceptively points out:
The worst thing about Kerry is not that he is inconsistent; not that he is a flip-flopper. The worst thing about him is that he is a reflexive leftist, who has been wrong about nearly everything important his entire career. Nuclear freeze, anybody? Solidarity with the Sandinistas?
Could it hurt to show that the things Kerry does believe are dead wrong? Bush allowed him to portray himself as a virtual Reagan Republican!

Blind Partisanship?

In sifting through the debate reactions, I'm getting the sense that President Bush did better on television than on the radio. So perhaps it wasn't as bad as I had feared.

Still, I have to wonder about anyone claiming that this debate was a "clear victory" or a "home run" for Bush. As a conservative, while Bush is not all that conservative on a number of important issues, I'm much more generally sympathetic to him than to Kerry.

And perhaps Bush was right on the merits on many of these questions. But style counts for something in these debates. As I argued yesterday, those who want to hand the debate to Bush on substance alone are largely missing the point.

In a debate, you have to make an argument, defend it, and counter the other guy. Bush's effort on that score was mediocre at best. Kerry lobbed some huge charges out there (i.e. "outsourced the hunt for Osama Bin Laden to Afghan warlords") that Bush never even attempted to counter. At some point in a debate you have to respond to the other guy's charges in order to win. Bush didn't do that.

If you think that Bush has the right positions on the issues overall, great. That's the basis on which we all ought to cast our votes. But if one were to say that Bush rolled over Kerry last night, or that the debate was somehow a disaster for Kerry, I'd have to begin wondering if that person's partisanship was clouding his senses of sight and hearing.

Debating The Debate

Before I read other reactions to the debates online this morning, I'm going to post my own before my impressions get skewed by whatever is the conventional wisdom this morning.

Because of a prior committment, I missed the first half of the debate. At about 9:30pm Eastern, I tuned in on my car radio, and what I heard wasn't good for Mr. Bush. He's never been a terrific public speaker, but what I heard of him sounded unusually disorganized, unprepared, and tired. There were long pauses between the question and his answer, as if he were struggling to think of what to say. I know he usually goes to bed early, but it seems like on the day of a debate, maybe one could catch a midafternoon nap in order to stay awake a little later.

It also sounded to me like Bush was largely on the defensive. In a debate, you have to do whatever you can to turn things around on your opponent. But in this debate, when Kerry said "It wasn't Saddam Hussein who attacked us on 9/11, it was Osama Bin Laden," Bush's rather pitiful response was to say "I know it was Osama Bin Laden who attacked us. Nobody has to tell me that." It reminded me of Nathan Thurm, the sweaty, nervous, cigarette-puffing lawyer Martin Short used to play on Saturday Night Live's old "60 Minutes" parodies--"I know that. Don't you think I know that? It's so funny that you would think I didn't know that...."

I'm told that the first half of the debate went much better for Bush, which would explain why whatever analysis I have heard this morning seems to be proclaiming it a draw. The first half must have gone extraordinarily well for Bush, because what I heard was not a draw by any means. Kerry sounded relaxed and in command of the facts, and much more authentic than Al Gore sounded in his bizarre 2000 performances.

On the other hand, legend has it that those who listened to the Nixon-Kennedy debate in 1960 thought that Nixon was the clear winner, while those who watched on television thought Kennedy won. Nobody will be judging this debate by how it sounded on the radio. As I said yesterday, the medium is the message, and the medium is television. The only important question is: what will be the lasting visual image left by last night's debate?