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  • December 30, 2004

    Greetings from the President

    [Posted by ]

    Unlike James, my mailbox isn't full of solicitations from John F. Kerry and Nancy Pelosi. Nope, instead I get cool things like this letter that came today:

    Now, I know darn well that Bush wasn't toiling over these letters in the Oval Office, but nonetheless, I appreciate the thanks. And, it's kind of cool to pull a letter with the White House as a return address out of the mailbox. Of course, in my neighborhood this will probably cause me to get my ass kicked. Ah well, it's worth it ;-)

    As an aside, I'm pleased to note that the President's penmanship is almost as bad as my own.

    Posted by at 04:54 PM | Comments (7)

     

    Sportwriter Plays Race Card in Reggie White Flag Flap

    [Posted by ]

    Christine Brennan, best known for writing snooty figure skating stories, sticks up for Bob Harlan's decision to fly the flag at half staff for Reggie White in USA Today. For those of you who haven't heard, the Packers lowered the US flag flying over Lambeau Field after White's death. Then:

    Some veterans questioned the policy of lowering the flag to honor White, saying it violated the U.S. Flag Code, which spells out rules of flag etiquette. The code states that the flag should only be flown at half-staff upon a directive from the president or governor and on Memorial Day, and it reserves the honor for government figures.

    The vets contended it should only be done when authorized by the government, as when honoring those killed in combat.

    In announcing the change on Wednesday, the Packers thanked veterans for making the suggestions that led to the new policy.

    Veterans were, I think, understandably upset about honoring White this way in wartime, and Harlan, equal understandably, wasn't up on his flag etiquette. In the future, the Packers will honor people by raising, and then half-lowering, a Packers flag over the stadium. Sounds good to me.

    But, of course, some people need to find a more sinister motive behind all of this. Ms. Brennan is one of them:

    There likely will never be a certain answer as to the genesis of the national controversy that Harlan and the Packers unwittingly opened this week. Logically, the suddenness of White's death at 43, the shock of the news coming on Christmas weekend, led more people than usual to pay attention to what the Packers were doing with their U.S. flags at Lambeau.

    Let's hope that is the reason, for there is another that is much harder to stomach. On radio shows, some have mentioned that among those honored by the Packers in this manner, White is the only African-American. I imagine we all can agree that we hope like crazy that is not the reason the flag police spoke up at this moment.

    Oh yes, that must be it. Those redneck Green Bay veterans (who probably voted for Bush) are a bunch of racists who can't stomach anyone honoring a black man. Bitch. It's bad enough that White's obituraries slam him, but now some idiots want to use his death to brand these vets as a bunch of racists.

    Posted by at 01:42 PM | Comments (3)

     

    College Bowl Picks

    [Posted by ]

    Update: Since we're smack in the middle of Bowl Week, we thought we'd revisit our picks.

    College bowl season starts tonight with the New Orleans Bowl pitting Southern Miss against North Texas. James and I have made our picks and we're not afraid to share them. Disagree with us? Let us know who you think will win in the comments. And, as this most certainly is a competition us, I'll give periodic updates as bowl season progresses. And away we go!

    "Coin" represents the picks generated by a coin toss. Let's hope he (or she) doesn't kick both of our asses!

    Bowl Date Teams James' Pick Kris' Pick Coin's Pick
    New Orleans Bowl
    Dec. 14th
    Southern Miss v. North Texas
    Southern Miss Southern Miss Southern Miss
    Champs Sports Bowl
    Dec. 21st
    Syracuse v. Georgia Tech
    Georgia Tech Syracuse Syracuse
    GMAC Bowl
    Dec. 22nd
    Bowling Green v. Memphis
    Memphis Bowling Green Bowling Green
    Fort Worth Bowl
    Dec. 23rd
    Marshall v. Cincinnati
    Cincinnati Marshall Marshall
    Las Vegas Bowl
    Dec. 23rd
    Wyoming v. UCLA
    UCLA UCLA Wyoming
    Hawaii Bowl
    Dec. 24th
    Hawaii v. UAB
    Hawaii Hawaii UAB
    MPC Computers Bowl
    Dec. 27th
    Virginia v. Fresno State
    Virginia Virginia Fresno State
    Motor City Bowl
    Dec. 27th
    Toledo v. Connecticut
    Connecticut Toledo Connecticut
    Independence Bowl
    Dec. 28th
    Miami (OH) v. Iowa State
    Iowa State Miami (OH) Iowa State
    Insight Bowl
    Dec. 28th
    Notre Dame v. Oregon State
    Notre Dame Oregon State Oregon State
    Houston Bowl
    Dec. 29th
    Colorado v. UTEP
    UTEP UTEP UTEP
    Alamo Bowl
    Dec. 29th
    Oklahoma State v. Ohio State
    Oklahoma State Ohio State Ohio State
    Continental Tire Bowl
    Dec. 30th
    Boston College v North Carolina
    Boston College North Carolina Boston College
    Emerald Bowl
    Dec. 30th
    New Mexico v. Navy
    Navy Navy Navy
    Holiday Bowl
    Dec. 30th
    Texas Tech v. California
    California California California
    Silicon Valley Bowl
    Dec. 30th
    Troy St. v. Northern Illinois
    Northern Illinois Northern Illinois Northern Illinois
    Music City Bowl
    Dec. 31st
    Alabama v. Minnesota
    Minnesota Alabama Alabama
    Sun Bowl
    Dec. 31st
    Arizona State v. Purdue
    Arizona State Arizona State Purdue
    Liberty Bowl
    Dec. 31st
    Boise St. v. Louisville
    Boise State Louisville Boise State
    Peach Bowl
    Dec. 31st
    Miami (FL) v. Florida
    Miami (FL) Miami (FL) Miami (FL)
    Outback Bowl
    Jan. 1st
    Georgia v. Wisconsin
    Georgia Georgia Wisconsin
    Cotton Bowl
    Jan. 1st
    Tennessee v. Texas A&M
    Tennessee Texas A&M Tennessee
    Gator Bowl
    Jan. 1st
    Florida St. v. West Virginia
    Florida St. Florida St. West Virginia
    Capital One Bowl
    Jan. 1st
    LSU v. Iowa
    Iowa Iowa LSU
    Rose Bowl
    Jan. 1st
    Michigan v. Texas
    Texas Michigan Michigan
    Fiesta Bowl
    Jan. 1st
    Pittsburgh v. Utah
    Utah Utah Pittsburgh
    Sugar Bowl
    Jan. 3rd
    Virginia Tech v. Auburn
    Virginia Tech Virginia Tech Auburn
    Orange Bowl
    Jan. 4th
    USC v. Oklahoma
    USC USC Oklahoma

    You'll note that not only are two homers like us not picking Wisconsin, we're also picking Virginia Tech to upset Auburn and for USC to be the National Champion. It's almost disappointing that we agree on that, you know what I mean? Hopefully some of you will express your difference of opinion ;-)

    Posted by at 01:00 AM | Comments (1)

     

    December 29, 2004

    A Delicious Way to Help

    [Posted by ]

    Our Madison area readers will have a delicious way to help tsunami victims. I was just at Bandung Restauarant (an Indonesian place on the near east side) and they will be donating 10% of their proceeds from December 31 through January 9 to disaster relief funds.

    The food is fantastic and the cause is even better. If you're able, try them out in the next week and a half. I bet that many Indonesian, Indian & Thai places around the country are doing the same thing, so eat up people!

    Posted by at 01:26 PM | Comments (0)

     

    December 28, 2004

    A Lovely Winter's Day

    [Posted by ]

    The week between Christmas and New Year's Day is easily the quietest time in Madison. State employees are gone using one of their four or five weeks of vacation and students are out of town for winter break. But, what this week lacks in traffic and protestors, it more than makes up for it with beautiful days like today.

    I went ice skating on Lake Monona this afternoon and came back with some perfect Madison scenes (I figure that I complain about all the liberals so much that I need to balance that out with something).



    I love this shot of the late afternoon sky and all the tracks in the ice.



    Nevermind the construction and hordes of non-migratory geese, here's a lakeside view of Madison's Monona Terrace.



    This is the state Capitol building as seen from the lake. At the top sits Miss Forward, looking out to Washington, DC.


    Even though it was a wonderful day for skating, this ice sailor was the only other person I saw out on the lake.



    But that doesn't mean I was alone, this charming cat, Obert, followed me home. No, I didn't keep him, but he is awfully cute.

    So, I hope you welcome this break from bashing Madison liberals. I'm sure we'll return to our normally scheduled programming soon.

    Posted by at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

     

    Some Teachers Have No Class

    [Posted by ]

    I followed a link from Young Pundit to a story about a group of teachers who cut a CD to protest the No Child Left Behind Act.

    I was hoping to find some silly protest songs to make fun of (I did, you can scroll down), but I also read that these teachers were from a new school "called World of Opportunity (WOO) - a school designed to accommodate students forced out of regular public schools due to their poor performance on standardized tests." That didn't sound right to me, but apparently it's true:

    Mr. Orel enlisted the support of Virginia Volker, a Birmingham school board member, who learned that some 522 students, or 5.6 percent of the high school student body, had similarly "withdrawn." They were told to leave school after Feb. 15, when the state calculates reimbursement levels based on enrollment, but before April, when they would have taken the Stanford Achievement Tests, and could have dragged down their school's scores, Ms. Volker found.

    "A lot of our parents are poor and overworked, and they didn't object," Ms. Volker said.

    A spokeswoman for the Birmingham public schools, Michaelle Chapman, said that it was not the prospect of poor test scores that caused the withdrawal of so many students. At least some of the students involved, whose records the district examined, had missed more than 100 days from school, she said, and would not have passed anyway.

    I'm shocked by the actions of the Birmingham schools. But, why is this the fault of President Bush, the No Child Left Behind Act or standardized testing? The fault lies in those that are refusing to do their jobs: parents, teachers and administrators. In the past, these same people would refuse to do their job by passing and graduating these kids. Now, they're refusing to do their job by throwing them out of school. In any case, NCLB isn't to blame for these school districts acting like whiny bitches: "How dare you force us to teach these children. We'll show you!".

    Schools like this aren't even trying to do better. They're simply looking for loopholes to beat the system. And, I think they found one. But, that doesn't mean NCLB is a failure. It's really a great illustration of the need for further education reform. Can you imagine if Birmingham parents had school vouchers and they could get their kids out of this district that refuses to teach kids? Don't you think that threat might actually get the district to change their ways?

    I don't understand what it is that opponents of NCLB really want. From the World of Opportunity site, I think they want teachers to be able to evaluate students without the benefit of any kind of testing. Because, after all, there are "so many ways to be smart":

    Some folks are good at getting along
    Some folks are good at making up songs
    Some folks are good at stopping a Wal-mart
    So many ways to be smart!

    Oh good lord, where do I begin? Sure, some kids have greater emotional intelligence and some kids are more creative. But, at the end of the day, there are basic things we all need to know in order to survive in this country. And frankly, just being "good" at protesting a Wal-Mart doesn't merit a high school diploma in my book. They should at least have to make some cool signs too ;-)

    Posted by at 12:52 PM | Comments (0)

     

    KY Gov Dr. Ernie Fletcher Under Fire For Signing Death Warrant

    [Posted by ]

    One of the big stories on Fox News yesterday was that Kentucky's Governor, Ernie Fletcher, a doctor, was under fire for supposedly violating the Hippocratic Oath by signing the death warrant for convicted murderer Thomas Bowling. In 1990, Bowling was convicted of murdering a couple and shooting their 2-year old son.

    Predictably, organizations like Kentucky's Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty are quick to claim that Fletcher's status as a doctor prohibits him from signing Bowling's death warrant. According to the group, this part of the AMA Code of Ethics forbids the Governor's actions:

    An individual’s opinion on capital punishment is the personal moral decision of the individual. A physician, as a member of a profession dedicated to preserving life when there is hope of doing so, should not be a participant in a legally authorized execution. Physician participation in execution is defined generally as actions which would fall into one or more of the following categories: (1) an action which would directly cause the death of the condemned; (2) an action which would assist, supervise, or contribute to the ability of another individual to directly cause the death of the condemned; (3) an action which could automatically cause an execution to be carried out on a condemned prisoner.

    I read this as meaning that physicians shouldn't, for example, actually adminster the drugs for those being executed by lethal injection. The broad interpretation that the anti-death penalty groups take has some pretty far reaching consequences. Does this mean, for example, that doctors on the jury of a death penalty case cannot recommend that penalty to a judge? Does it mean that doctors cannot vote for political candidates who support the death penalty. Or (and this is a big one), think about this example. A psychiatrist is called for their expert testimony in a potential capital punishment case. According to that interpretation of the AMA Code of Ethics, that pyschiatrist is required to testify under oath, whether true or not, that the criminal is insane, because doing otherwise would clearly "assist, supervise, or contribute to the ability of another individual to directly cause the death of the condemned".

    Are doctors such a special group that we, as fellow citizens, will allow them to circumvent our laws? If so, how in the world can we trust them to participate in our democracy? Maybe doctors shouldn't be allowed to be on juries, hold office or vote. I mean really, back when JFK was running for office people were worried that he'd put the Pope ahead of America. And, more recently, people worry about Bush's religion. Why shouldn't we worry about doctors? It certainly seems like some people think they should place Hippocrates ahead of their obligations as Americans.

    Obviously this is all a bunch of nonsense. However, the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure is going to have a hearing on whether to punish the Governor. Doesn't the Board have something better to do? I don't understand all of this effort to save convicted murderers at the expense of those just trying to do their jobs.

    Don't get me wrong, people certainly have a right to oppose the death penalty. But they can, and should, continue to do so through our existing political system, not by trying to ruin the lives of the innocent.

    Posted by at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)

     

    December 27, 2004

    A Few Thoughts on Reggie

    [Posted by ]

    Reggie White's passing brought back some memories for me and some observations worth sharing.

    • When White was signed by the Packers, it was a HUGE story. I remember a the local network either putting it on a ticker on the bottom of the screen or breaking into regular programming with the news. Back then, the idea of the Packers winning the Super Bowl was still pretty outlandish. I mean, we knew they were getting good. But could they get that good? Could they really beat the Cowboys and 49ers?
    • When the Packers finally did winner the Super Bowl, the whole fourth quarter belonged to Reggie and his sacks. Bledsoe would try to bring the Pats back into the game, but Reggie would take him down and we'd all shout and almost growl out a "Reggie!!".
    • When Reggie's church in Tennessee was burned down, it wasn't at all surprising that people from Wisconsin were the overwhelming contributors to get it back up and help everyone out. I was thinking on the drive home today that if a hurricane would have hit near Kiln, Mississippi this past fall, people from Wisconsin would have donated and volunteered to help in huge numbers, just because it's where Favre is from. Packer fans are weird like that. Once we love you, we will always be there for you.
    • The area code around Green Bay and in parts of Eastern Wisconsin used to be 414. Then, they needed to create a new area code. The new one? 920. Now, I've always heard that the code actually does refer to Reggie's #92, but I can't confirm it. Hopefully James can help me out.

    Reggie was this great football player and seemed to be a wonderful Teddy Bear of a man. I will always think of him after the Super Bowl victory when he was running around the Super Dome in his brand new Super Bowl Champions t-shirt down to his knees. He brought so much happiness to the people of Wisconsin and seemingly to everyone else whose life he touched. Godspeed, Reggie.

    Posted by at 12:09 PM | Comments (3)

     

    December 25, 2004

    Merry Christmas

    [Posted by james]

    Merry Christmas, everyone.

    I sent Kris a personalized card the other day, check it out.

    These personalized cards are supposed to cost a few dollars to send, but you can send your cards for free using code "bc2004."

    God Bless!

    Posted by jkhat at 01:19 AM | Comments (0)

     

    December 22, 2004

    Project Runway

    [Posted by ]

    Some days here at Dummocrats we talk about politics. Some days we talk about foreign policy. Some days we talk about the media. And some days, we're all about reality TV. It's no secret that I love The Amazing Race (go Jon & Kris and Gus & Hera!), but I just discovered a new show to love: Project Runway on Bravo.

    The premise is this: twelve aspiring fashion designers compete for a chance to present their collection in a NY runway show, with the ultimate winner getting $100,000 and a photo shoot in Elle magazine. Each week the designers are given a specific challenge (the two challenges I've seen were to create a garment from cotton jersey which somehow represented "envy" and to create a party dress that would be appropriate for Banana Republic to sell). One designer wins the challenge and another designer is sent home. Simultaneously, one by one, the models who show off the clothes are also eliminated (that winner also gets a spread in Elle).

    While the show has its share of dramatic infighting, what I find so fascinating is the peek at the creative process. For example, for the "envy" concept, the winning designer was an army brat and so she created a military-themed dress (in her mind, envy leads to war). In the Banana Republic show, another designer used the Chrysler building as inspiration for his Art Deco dress.

    I'm so envious of all these people. I find it amazing that someone can look at a piece of white cotton and whip up a fabulous menswear-inspired pantsuit from it in a day or so. I don't have that kind of creativity. I have a hard time building something from scratch like that. My strength lies in taking that design and figuring how to sell it to other people, or how to display and describe it.

    I feel the same way about some fellow bloggers. I can react to things other people write and I can even make some original observations, but, don't come here looking for something like Beautiful Atrocities' Evolution of Katie Couric or Iowahawk's brilliant "Blue State Blues as Coastal Parents Battle Invasion of Dollywood Values" piece. I can't pull something like that out of the air. I think the best we can do (unless James really surprises me), is a little parody, some local insight and good analysis. Although, I have to say, that if I had any artistic ability, I think I could come up with one or two good Cox and Forkum style cartoons. Alas, I was not blessed with the ability to draw anything beyond a stick figure.

    So, check out Project Runway (I think new episodes start on Jan. 5th). In the meantime, we'll be on the lookout for more creative posts in the blogosphere. And maybe, just maybe, breaks from school and work will help us get our own creative juices flowing!

    Posted by at 10:31 PM | Comments (2)

     

    December 21, 2004

    Who's helping whom?

    [Posted by james]

    From Channel 3 in Madison:


    Madison Business Owner Helping Protect Charities
    Will Not Sell Lance Armstrong Cancer Bracelets in Bulk

    MADISON, Wis. -- One Madison business owner is doing his part to stop people from taking money from charity.

    John Williamson sells Lance Armstrong Cancer Foundation bracelets at his store, Sports World, on State Street. But now, he won't let people buy more than 10 bracelets at a time without checking their reason for buying them. That's because so many people are selling the bracelets for a profit on eBay.

    "Whether it's cerebral palsy, breast cancer, or 'Live Armstrong' cancer, I just object to people heavily profiting much more than the organizations profit from the popularity of the wristbands," said Williamson.

    Williamson said he's been selling the bracelets for three or four months and has already had 15 or 20 people try and buy all the bracelets he has in stock to re-sell them.

    He's raised almost $15,000 for various charities through the bracelets.

    Let me get this straight -
    1. The Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) raises $ by selling $1 bracelets.
    2. The more bracelets they sell, the more money they make.
    3. This guy refuses to sell bracelets, and thinks that he is somehow helping the charity?

    Something tells me that John Williamson isn't very good at logic puzzles. The (plainly obvious, i would have thought) fact is that it doesn't matter what people do with the bracelets after they sell them - - in fact, it's completely irrelevant. Let's say that I want a bracelet - I can buy one from this guy's store for $1, and the $1 will go to LAF. Or I can buy one on ebay for $200 and $1 still goes to the LAF. Either way, the LAF gets $1. The only way that the LAF doesn't get their $1 is if I'm unable to buy a bracelet, which is apparently the result that this guy wants.

    How this guy manages to run a successful business is beyond me.

    (As a side note, it's been months since a LAF bracelet sold on eBay for much more than $1.)


    EDIT: I think I was too hard on the business owner. I re-read the story, and according to the article, John Williamson only said that he didn't like to see people profiting from the sale of the bracelets. It's probably the news writer that interjected this "doing his part to stop people from taking money from charity" bit.

    Posted by jkhat at 11:10 PM | Comments (0)

     

    Those Were The Days

    [Posted by ]

    One of my favorite new Madison bloggers is the mysterious Two-L McTwo-L at Law & Alcoholism. I love his post from yesterday about nearing the end of exams and celebrating the end of exams. Here's a snippet (the rest is just as funny):

    After Crim Pro let out, I got in line to pick up my Law Review write-on packet and take a shot. I took a leisurely lunch, stopped back at my apartment for a quick couple shots of Jager, and strolled over to Brats. When I got there, I realized to my utter horror that I was by far the most sober of all my friends. This was entirely unacceptable. I had an idea, that was so crazy that it just might work. I ordered a quintuple Jack on the rocks. The bartender said that they could only give me a triple at most. I ordered a large glass of ice and five separate shots; realizing that he wasn't going to win, the bartender just gave me a big ole' glass full of Jack. I threw it back in less than five minutes and was still relatively sober. Apparently I had forgotten the alcohol needs to be absorbed before it takes effect, so I ordered another quintuple. And another.

    I remember those days. Or, should I say, I remember that I don't remember those days. People can talk about the dangers of binge drinking and attempt to make their campuses dry, but the fact is, is that college and grad school are tough, you work hard and you need to blow off steam. The vast majority of people will make it through just fine. I mean, look at me, I was once The Onion's Drunk of the Week*, and now I'm a respected citizen and blogger. There's hope for us all.

    *The Onion used to have a weekly feature where they'd find some random drunk and give them the "award". You got a certificate and they'd print a picture of you in the paper, holding up a sign that said "I am the Onion Drunk of the Week. And I am dumb".

    Posted by at 01:34 PM | Comments (3)

     

    Rafael Peralta: Hero

    [Posted by ]

    Oliver North's latest column at Townhall (hat tip to Drew over at the Longhorn Mafia), tells the story of Rafael Peralta's heroism and sacrifice in Iraq. Like North, I question why we haven't heard more about this story in the mainstream media:

    Not only can Rafael's family be proud of him, but his fellow Marines are alive because of him. As Peralta lay near death on the floor of a Fallujah terrorist hideout, he spotted the yellow grenade that had rolled next to his near-lifeless body. Once detonated, it would take out the rest of Peralta's squad. To save his fellow Marines, Peralta reached out, grabbed the grenade and tucked it under his abdomen, where it exploded.

    Like Drew, I urge you to read the whole article and to keep Peralta's family in your thoughts and prayers. I imagine he'll receive the Medal of Honor posthumously, but that's probably not that much comfort to his family, especially at this time of year.

    Posted by at 01:18 PM | Comments (5)

     

    Once Again I'm Stuck In A Battleground State

    [Posted by ]

    As if the election wasn't bad enough, Instapundit links to a map that shows that, once again just how divided my poor state is.

    While there are some kids down in Texas or out in California that have never heard refreshing non-alcoholic liquid beverages called anything but coke or soda, I grew up on the front lines. As you can see, Wisconsin is nearly divided in half between those who call it pop (me) and those in the eastern part of the state who call it "soda" (freaks).

    Looking at that map, I'm also struck by the fact that Democrats seemed to take most of the soda states, while Republicans dominated in the coke and pop states. In any case, I'm far more entertained by this than by any of the blue state and red state bashing.

    Posted by at 11:45 AM | Comments (5)

     

    December 20, 2004

    'Raiders' Remake Gives New Meaning To The Term 'Children's Classic'

    [Posted by ]

    So, I was going to write about this article in today's Capital Times (and, since Madison Newspapers doesn't keep anything online more than a week or so, you can also click on the expanded entry to read it), but I couldn't decide whether to categorize it under "Looney Lefties", "Ironic" or "Hypocrisy". And besides, I rant about Cap Times articles all the time, I'm in the mood for something different.

    Of everything I've read in the past few days, this post on Montykins sticks out the most. The gist of the story is that, back in 1981, some 10-year olds in Mississippi saw "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Like most kids, they loved it. Unlike most kids, they spent the next 7 years making a shot for shot remake of it, stunts, special effects and all. The resulting film is, appropriately enough, called "Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation". The film premiered at an Austin film festival in May 2003, so I'm way behind on this story. But, I'm still just amazed by it. I read more about it on Ain't It Cool News and it just gets better and better:

    They grew up in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. They learned to sew costumes, blow shit up good, take molds of their heads, drag under motorized vehicles, be hurled through windows, set themselves on fire, set their basement on fire, take over a WWII Submarine, improvise brilliantly another animal for the monkey, blow up a truck, get a shitload of snakes, build a giant boulder, the first kiss, get a girl to strip and put on Marion’s dress while they filmed it in the mirror. They dressed their friends up as Nazis, killed a brother over and over again, made over 40 traditional Arabic costumes, swordfight, beat the shit out of each other, build giant Egyptian statues, con someone out of a Rolls Royce, scour Goodwill’s and Salvation Armies for costumes and props.

    Wow. I can't tell you how much I want to see this, or at least hear from someone else who has. Apparently, the film was given a 4-minute standing ovation in Austin. So, it's not just like these kids did it, they did it well.

    I was talking to some friends the other day and we were reminiscing about how our parents used to make us play outside, and how we'd play and play until it was dark out and they would make us come on in. I remember growing up with some of the greatest "toys" in the world: A giant pine tree (known to all as "Mr. Big Tree"), trails, piles of snow plowed from the nearby Senior Citizens center, and, for one wonderful summer, a huge dirt pit right in front of the house. Those were the days. I think kids grow up a little different when they have to make their own entertainment and they don't have a TV or XBox to do it for them.

    It's pretty ironic for me to say this, but the internet is a wonderful thing and opens up a world of knowledge to kids, but maybe they're losing something else in the process.

    From the 12/20/04 Capital Times:

    Bush and his cohorts would be wise to implement Jesus agenda
    By Brett Hulsey

    'Love your enemies. ... If someone strikes you on the right cheek, give them the other.' Are the Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib torture treatments consistent with this teaching?We are told to expect a Christian government just in time for Christmas, but what is the Jesus agenda? Methodist church school taught me that the Sermon on the Mount is the basic statement of Jesus' philosophy, in Matthew 5:1-28 and Luke 6:17-46 for those who want to read along.

    Jesus said, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth." We haven't seen much meekness in Washington lately, except from Democrats. The question is, "Will the Earth be worth inheriting after the oil companies and polluters trash it?" We have to work harder to protect our inheritance.

    "Blessed are those who show mercy." We've not seen much mercy either, especially in the GOP attacks on amputee war heroes like Sen. Max Cleland, for being weak on terror.

    "Blessed are the peacemakers." It's not clear how Iraq figures into this. Invading Iraq has killed some 1,300 Americans and 10,000 to 100,000 Iraqis so far. There's not much peace there.

    "Do not store up for yourself treasures on Earth." This means we should repeal the tax cuts for the rich in order to fund vital programs.

    "Love your enemies. ... If someone strikes you on the right cheek, give them the other." Are the Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib torture treatments consistent with this teaching? The Red Cross thinks not.

    "Whoever marries a divorced person commits adultery." Studies show divorce rates higher in very Christian states like Mississippi, and lowest in Massachusetts, home of gay marriage. Christians should focus on staying married themselves, not worrying about gays.

    "Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to stand in the churches and streets so they can be seen by others. ... Whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray in secret." President Bush should not be praying at any more Cabinet meetings for the TV cameras.

    "Don't worry about the speck in my eye until you take the log from your own." We have a lot of logs to take out of our eyes before worrying about others.

    "Do to others as you would have them do to you." The golden rule is a universal religious value. The president has disrespected others on global warming, the world court, the nuclear terror treaty, and many other international agreements.

    "Beware of false prophets, men who come to you dressed as sheep while underneath they are savage wolves. You will recognize them by the fruits they bear ... a good tree always yields good fruit and a bad tree bad fruit."

    We have yet to see many good fruits from President Bush and his followers. They need to implement a real Jesus agenda, lest they be hypocrites, false prophets and wolves in sheep's clothing.

    Dane County Supervisor Brett Hulsey reads the Bible and tries to implement its wisdom.

    Posted by at 09:39 PM | Comments (1)

     

    December 19, 2004

    Channel Flipping Stoppers

    [Posted by ]

    There are great movies and then there are those movies that, no matter how many times you've seen them, alway stop you dead in your tracks when you're sitting around flipping channels. In a way, they've achieved their own kind of greatness. Here are some of my channel flipping stoppers:

    • Major League (I'm actually watching this right now and yes, it did inspire this post): this is probably the only movie that I like either Charlie Sheen or Wesley Snipes in. Plus, you just have to love Bob Uecker. I especially like the incredibly horrible dubbing of Corbin Bernsen at the end when he says "strike this (expletive) out". It's just classic. Also classic: "Forget about the curveball Ricky, give 'em the heater".
    • The Cutting Edge: I'm such a sucker for any play on "The Taming of the Shrew". And, this movie also attempts to answer the age old question of who is a better skater: a hockey player or a figure skater.
    • The American President: "This is Andrew Shepherd and I am the President of the United States". Ah, good stuff. Plus, like so many trustworthy fictional characters, Andrew Shepherd hails from Wisconsin!
    • The Wedding Singer: I don't really like Adam Sandler, but he's so charming in this movie. I love the silly 80s outfits and Billy Idol and the rapping Granny. Just awesome
    • Tommy Boy: I know this is such a stupid movie, but I crack up everytime Chris Farley starts listing off all the things he can put in his office fridge. I miss Chris Farley. :-(
    • Office Space: I think this actually is a great movie. I think it'll go down in film history as a comedy classic eventually. But here's how silly I am - you know the "Damn it feels good to be a gangster" song in it? I always sing it as "Gee, it feels good to be a gangster." I don't think many gangsters say "gee".

    Okay, so Taylor is calling his shot against the Yankees. I gotta run. But, in the meantime, I'd love to hear some other folks' channel flipping stopper movies.

    Posted by at 02:52 PM | Comments (13)

     

    Man of the Year

    [Posted by ]

    I was pleased to see Time Magazine name President Bush as their Man of the Year. Now, of course it would have been nice if bloggers would have received the honor. But somehow, I think the editors would have been thinking of the likes of Glenn Reynolds and the Powerline boys rather than James and I. Oh well, there's always next year.

    And, the choice could have been much, much worse:

    Kelly said other candidates included Michael Moore and Mel Gibson, "because in different ways their movies tapped in to deep cultural streams," and political strategist Rove, who is widely credited with engineering Bush's win. Kelly said choosing Rove alone would have taken away from the credit he said Bush deserves.

    I'm actually shocked that Rove didn't get a piece of this. While I've been accused by some of seeking the hidden power behind the throne (even when there isn't any), the media are even worse. And, in this case, I'll say that the Dems get the same treatment. To them, James Carville and Paul Begala were the brains behind the Clinton operation, just like Rove is the evil genius behind Bush.

    Of course, in the media, Carville is a benevolent goofball - like a smart Terry Bradshaw. While, in the Bush=Hitler world, this is how things work: The evil Neo-Cons whisper in Dick Cheney's ear. Cheney tells Bush what they are going to do and Karl Rove figures out the best way to lie to the public to cover it all up.

    So, I'm not sure how to take all of this. Clearly, Bush is getting credit for being more than a figurehead now. But, is he also getting credit for his resolute actions and winning the election, or is he just his own evil genius now?

    Well, I don't think he's won over anyone in the media, just yet. Sam Dolnick, the AP reporter who wrote the story on Time's announcement and Time's Kelly, damns Bush with this "praise":

    Kelly said Bush has changed dramatically since he was named Person of the Year in 2000 after the Supreme Court awarded him the presidency.

    "He is not the same man," Kelly said. "He's a much more resolute man. He is personally as charming as ever but I think the kind of face he's shown to the American public is one of much, much greater determination."

    Heh. That's awesome. Yes, Bush is resolute and determined, but let's never forget that the Supreme Court "awarded him the presidency". I seem to recall something about millions of voters, the Electoral College and that recount after recount in Florida went his way, but that's just me. I guess the media can grudgingly give credit where credit is due, but some things never change.

    Posted by at 12:59 PM | Comments (2)

     

    Brrr

    [Posted by ]

    We may not have a white Christmas here in Madison, but winter suddenly appeared this morning. This is the view from my backyard of Lake Monona. Just yesterday, the lake was completely open. You know it's cold when you can actually see the wind.

    It's about time we've had some cold weather and Packer fans can never be too upset when weather like this just happens to hit on a Sunday ;-)

    Posted by at 10:22 AM | Comments (1)

     

    December 16, 2004

    A Not-So-Good Point

    [Posted by ]

    John Hawkins over at Right Wing News picked up on the story of a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point English professor who wrote an editorial in the student newspaper that displayed some typical liberal charm:

    In the November 4th edition, Rothfuss focuses on the outcome of Tuesday’s election. Rothfuss writes of his desire for “Punching smug looking Republicans in the mouth.” He also advises a deluded Democrat, “You might want to go out and key every car you see with a Bush sticker, or set fire to a couple houses.” He goes on to advise, “Why don’t you go on a killing spree? I bet you can take out 15 or 16 Republicans before they gun you down.”

    The campus College Republicans responded with some good points (pardun the pun):

    Please excuse me for not laughing. Such hate speech would be irresponsible if Rothfuss were a student. But Rothfuss actually teaches at UWSP! Rothfuss is an associate lecturer in the UWSP English department. The content of Rothfuss’s weekly column, as a general rule, is totally inappropriate considering he is a faculty member and this is the most egregious example. Imagine how Republican students feel in Rothfuss’s classes. Diversity and freedom of expression are not promoted in an environment in which a teacher advocates the killing of those who vote differently. (But don’t worry Republican students. It’s all just a harmless joke!) Imagine the reaction if Rothfuss had substituted another campus minority group for “Republicans” – gays, women, Jews, African-Americans, for example.

    This is what I don't understand. How can campus liberals be so focused on showing tolerance and promoting diversity and then turn around and be so intolerant of people who add to the diversity of ideas on campus? Are they really so shallow that diversity only means the color of someone's skin? Isn't that just a step away from saying that ideas and beliefs don't matter, and that all that matters is your race? Whatever happened to Martin Luther King's dream of "a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."?

    Of course, I'm not surprised by this attitude, but I am a little surprised to hear about it at Stevens Point. I grew up in Point's rival town, Wisconsin Rapids, which is just about 1/2 hour away. Both cities are Central Wisconsin paper mill towns. While Rapids has cranberry production to recommend it, Point distinguishes itself with its University and Point Beer (try the White Biere!). But the two towns aren't that different. This isn't Columbia or Berkeley. It's not even Madison. This is small town Wisconsin, where truck outnumber cars and grunge suddenly made everyone stylish for a few years.

    I think this Professor is probably just a wannabee. He wants to be "cool" like the radical professors on the coasts. He wants to be outrageous like Michael Moore. This guy probably thinks he's way too good for a school like Point (which, by the way, like all the UW schools is a great school) and this is his way of signaling to hiring committees all over America that he belongs. In fact, he's probably hoping that this article pops up in every google search of his name. Hopefully one of those committees will soon pluck him from UWSP. Good riddance.

    Posted by at 01:38 PM | Comments (1)

     

    December 15, 2004

    The Truth Behind The Sound Bite

    [Posted by ]

    One of the benefits of having significantly older siblings is knowing music that no one else my age does. One of the first 45s I owned (those are records for those in the younger crowd) was "See Me, Feel Me" by The Who. There's no way in hell my parents would have taken to me to a concert, so I was a lucky kid to have older siblings who would. My first "real" concert was U2 at the St. Paul Civic Center on the Joshua Tree tour.

    I loved U2 long before that, so it's been amazing to see them go from a critically acclaimed band with a small, but devoted, fanbase to the biggest band in the world. And now, they're being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    It's not my favorite U2 song, but I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for One because it's the song about them, about these four Irish lads who've been together since they were teenagers (and now they're all in their 40s). These lyrics are so much more meaningful when you know that Bono is singing about himself, The Edge, Adam Clayton & Larry Mullen, Jr.:

    We're one
    But we're not the same
    We get to carry each other

    For me, knowing the meaning behind a lyric or a picture or any work of art makes me appreciate it so much more. For example, I liked Bob Marley, but I could never single out a particular song until I heard that Is This Love was a plea to his wife and he was reminiscing about their early days together to try to win her back.

    One of the great things about blogs is that it's so easily to learn the real meaning behind the comments politicians, newcasters and policy wonks make. Now, when a Harry Reid inexplicably praises Antonin Scalia and dismisses the opinions of Clarence Thomas, writers all over the Internet can try to expose the truth behind the sound bite. When an AP reporter claims a crowd in Milwaukee jeered get well wishes to President Clinton, folks on the Internet can both spread the facts and dig into the motive behind the allegations. Because of all of this, the news is so much more interesting than it was back in the days when we had to settle for whatever Walter Cronkite read to us, even if we have to find it for ourselves.

    Posted by at 09:54 PM | Comments (0)

     

    December 13, 2004

    Media Bias Example 8,000,002

    [Posted by ]

    When the AP headline says "Iraqi Leader Criticizes U.S.-Led Coalition", most readers will assume that Iraq's interim President, Ghazi al-Yawer has just gone off on an anti-American rant, right?

    Well, if you read the article, you'd be wrong. All al-Yawer's said was that the "U.S.-led coalition was wrong to dismantle the Iraqi security forces after last year's invasion." That's it.

    To me, it looks like most of al-Yawer's criticism is for the terrorist elements that want to disrupt the Jan. 30 elections and Iraq's neighbors, like Syria, who support them. al-Yawer said:

    "There are so many people crossing the border from neighboring countries, specifically Iran," he said. "I think there are some elements of official Iran, I don't mean the whole government, (who) are playing a role in organizing and financing things in Iraq preparing for the elections."

    He didn't say what activities he believed the Iranians were involved in.

    Al-Yawer also said he believed elements of the Syrian security services were harboring insurgents. "(Syria) is a country that is run by security ... and definitely they cannot operate from Syria unless there is somebody who is condoning what they are doing," he said.

    Not surprisingly, America's media is far more interested in rehashing whatever mistakes we may or may not have made months and years ago than they are in reporting the current news stories in Iraq (unless those stories harm the Bush administration-then they're all over them). And, when they don't get the quotes or news they want, they write misleading headlines and bury significant aspects of a story.

    What's really amazing is that this behavior still surprises me.

    Posted by at 03:55 PM | Comments (0)

     

    Big Red Letter Days

    [Posted by ]

    Via a tip from Althouse, I've discovered Wikipedia's calendar features. Folks, this could be dangerous. In just a few seconds, I've learned that today is not only the one year anniversary of Saddam Hussein's capture, it's also the date that Drake set out on his around the world voyage. And, not only that, 23 years ago, General Wojciech Jaruzelski declared martial law in Poland.

    Unfortunately, the hard liners picked the wrong time to try to tighten the noose around the Poles. With men like Lech Walesa, Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan on the watch, Poland was destined to be free again.

    I had a college boyfriend for a time who was a nice guy, but not particularly intelligent. Is it wrong that one of the reasons I lost interest in him was that he had no idea what martial law was?

    Posted by at 01:16 PM | Comments (1)

     

    IDs, Please

    [Posted by ]

    I keep my cards and cash in a cute silver case. Right now, I have the following forms of identification on me:

    -credit cards
    -library card
    -Wisconsin Union membership card
    -TYME card
    -employee discount card
    -driver's license

    In addition to all of those, I also have a birth certificate, video rental cards, old college picture IDs and a social security card back at home. Like most Americans, I don't suffer from a lack of ways to prove who I am. And, it's a good thing since I need to show identification when I go to the bank, write a check at a store or try to purchase alcohol.

    One place I don't have to show ID, however, is at my local polling place. Once I registered to vote, I've shown up at the polls, told the workers my name, they checked the list and I voted. While that system is convenient for me, think about how easy it is to mess with it. All someone has to do is know where I live and they could go vote in my place. And, in my case, given my ambiguous first name, women or men could steal my vote.

    Some people want to change this. They want to require ID at the polling place. Predictably, there's a public (and liberal) outcry against this. Madison's Channel 3000 Editorial Director Neil Heinen says:

    There are plenty of problems with voting in this state. Having a picture identification card is not one of them.

    First of all the process of voting itself should be as simple as possible. Voting is one of our most basic and important rights. Anything that makes it more difficult to vote should be viewed suspiciously. And there have been so few voting problems associated with identification that this proposed requirement is just not warranted. And there is no defense for disenfranchising the people who would most likely not have a photo ID.

    The real problem with voting is a political system that has become so rigged in favor of incumbents that voters no longer see any purpose in going to the polls. If politicians are sincere about making voting more accountable they will but their energy into serious political reform, not unnecessary tinkering.

    I don't even want to touch Heinen's comment that the system is "rigged" in favor of incumbents, but I do take issue with just about everything else he says. Apparently, more than 123,000 Wisconsin residents don't have either a driver's license or a state-issued photo ID. That includes 85,000 seniors. Because of this, people are whining that this would disenfranchise these seniors. This is ridiculous. It's not as if these people couldn't get IDs between now and the next election. If the media is so worried about that, they can donate free airtime to run "get your ID" PSAs. Both political parties can run "get your ID" drives and get these folks to the DMV much like they'd get them to the polls.

    Of course, this isn't the really worry. The real worry is that by forcing people to show identification we'll cut down on votes from illegal aliens and college students who vote both at school and their permanent residence. Oddly enough, both of these groups tend to vote for the same party. And, oddly enough, that party is the one opposing measures like this. Coincidence?

    Too many people think they can throw out scary words like "disenfranchisement" and all the opposition will cave. But every fraudulent voter actually does disenfranchise people legitimately exercising their rights. Every college student from out of state who voted both in Madison and their hometown for John Kerry last month effectively cancelled the vote of Wisconsinsites voting for Bush. And vice versa.

    Yes, we have a right to vote. Just like we have a right to bear arms. However, part of living in an orderly society is that we may have to go through a hoop or two to exercise these rights. Big deal. Frankly, it's time for people to quit whining about the election and, in their own words, move on.

    Posted by at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)

     

    December 12, 2004

    Fahrenheit 9/11 For Best Picture? Sure, Why Not?

    [Posted by ]

    With the American Film Institute naming its Top 10 Films of the Year and the New York Film Critics Online naming its top film, the awards season is in full swing. (As an aside, I was thrilled to see that Thomas Haden Church won a Best Supporting Actor award from the NY critics, I've loved him ever since he was Lowell on Wings. I'm glad to see he hasn't dropped off the face of the earth).

    The topic of the season is whether or not Fahrenheit 9/11 will be nominated and win the Best Picture Oscar. For many, a victory for Michael Moore will be a consolation prize (even if they do feel that Kerry "really" won). As Nathan from Slowplay says:

    Full-page advertisements have been running in major newspapers in the country, urging members of the Academy – who are thought to be mostly liberal – to vote for Moore as a way of voting against President Bush. Somehow I doubt that Bush will resign his post if Moore wins the Oscar, but it would no doubt be a nice consolation prize for those on the Far Left who think of Moore’s “documentaries” (hey, they document Moore’s recklessness) as chiseled into stone tablets.

    Predictably, many right wing bloggers are horrified that Moore could win anything this side of a pie eating contest. While I'm no fan of the man, I won't be particularly offended he wins. And here's why:

    1. Haven't we established the fact that the Hollywood elite are far to the left of the majority of the American people? Given that, why should we care if they want to reward Michael Moore? It'll give everyone in America other opportunity to see what their favorite stars believe in. And so, in 2006 or 2008 when those same stars try to stump for politicians, voters will know exactly where they're coming from. Fine by me.

    2. I haven't seen Fahrenheit 9/11 so I can't judge it, but maybe it deserves an award based on its artistic merit. I couldn't support the film as a documentary, but maybe it's worthy as a piece of fiction. There's nothing saying a film has to tell the truth to be great. I think there's two ways to evaluate a work of art. One way is to judge it on how it expresses universal truths (think Shakespeare). Another way is to judge it on the emotional reaction you have to it. Given the strong emotional reactions to F 9/11, it may very well be worthy of some kind of accolades.

    3. I've read in a couple of places that F 9/11 doesn't deserve a place alongside all the other great films that have won the Best Picture Oscar. How dare the Academy play politics! Okay, this argument just makes me laugh a little. Look at the list of winners and you'll see that the Oscars aren't that different than the Grammys. Just as the Beatles never won a Grammy, none of these classics won a Best Picture Oscar:

    • Citizen Kane
    • The Wizard of Oz
    • The Adventures of Robin Hood (the Errol Flynn version not the Kevin Costner one)
    • It's A Wonderful Life
    • Notorious
    • The Searchers
    • Singin' In The Rain
    • Some Like It Hot
    • Rear Window
    • To Kill A Mockingbird
    • Dr. Strangelove
    • Taxi Driver
    • Star Wars
    • Raiders Of The Lost Ark
    • Saving Private Ryan

    An Oscar for Fahrenheit 9/11 only means that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences wants to bestow an award on the film. It doesn't magically turn it into a classic that'll be watched throughout the ages. It doesn't make it any less disposable. And, get this, it won't change the result of the election. So, as my Dad once said, it's time for us to be like The Beatles and just let it be.

    Posted by at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

     

    Shopping for our Favorite Blogs

    [Posted by ]

    With just 12 shopping days until Christmas, now's the perfect time to give Santa a little help picking out gifts for some of our favorite bloggers. So St. Nick, if you're reading this, no thanks is necessary, just lay off the coal this year!

    Ann Althouse: A gig as an occasional Capital Times columnist (although that's really more of a present for me) so how about throwing in some patchouli scented hemp oil soap so she can better blend in with Madison's crazy liberals.

    Lorraine at American Lady: A full scholarship to Washington & Lee University.

    Glenn Reynolds: A really kickass digital camera for all his cat blogging needs.

    Ace: For Ace, I suggest three things: 1. More cowbell. 2. An Andrew Sullivan voodoo doll and 3. His own personal Dave Semenko to ward off attacks from angry Canadians.

    Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities: A subscription to Soap Opera Digest.

    Drew at the Longhorn Mafia: This is easy. Airfare, hotel accomodations and tickets to watch his Texas Longhorns lose to Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

    John Hawkins at Right Wing News: A new Axis & Allies boardgame (is it safe to assume the old one he almost certainly has is worn out?) and a subscription to Hair Band Radio.

    Law & Alcoholism: A case of Shiner Bock for Wisconsin and some Leinies to take back to Texas.

    Risawn at Incoherant Ramblings: Wireless internet access wherever she may roam and some Glamour Shots for all her right wing fans and to piss off the lefties who think that it's impossible for women in the military to be both tough and cute.

    Sondra K: Some desert camouflague lingerie (looks like she has the green camo color scheme, um, covered).

    Joe from The Unabrewer: Since the Oldenburg Brewery Beer Camp is defunct, we'd have to suggest the Beer of the Month Club.

    The Commissar: a gold-plated gavel to spice up the show trials.

    For Zeke at It Is What It Is: A donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

    And finally, for my partner here at Dummocrats, James, might I suggest the Time Life Hee Haw Collection? And no, I'm not a) kidding or b) trying to be mean.

    Posted by at 10:45 AM | Comments (5)

     

    December 09, 2004

    My Latest Guilty Pleasure :Seconds from Disaster

    [Posted by ]

    Right now, I have three television addictions: Fox's My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss (don't miss the Office Paint Ball game this Sunday!), The Amazing Race (easily the best show on television) and now, National Geographic's :Seconds from Disaster. :Seconds from Disaster lets you:

    See how disasters are caused by a sequence of events locked together in time.

    Blending advanced CGI, archival footage, re-enactments, forensic science, dramatic eyewitness accounts and expert testimony, join us as we deconstruct, moment-by-moment, the chain of events leading to some of the world's most infamous disasters.

    One of the latest episodes broke down the the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. Unlike most of the shows, this episode wasn't so much about how the attack happened, but more about why the Pentagon withstood the attack so well and why, compared to the World Trade Center attacks, so few people died. Among those reasons:

    • When the Pentagon was built in 1941, planners envisioned the building eventually becoming a file warehouse, so it was built to hold extremely heavy loads
    • After the Oklahoma City bombing, parts of the Pentagon had bombproof windows installed
    • As part of ongoing remodeling projects, thousands of people had been moved from the impact zone to another part of the building just weeks before 9/11

    As I was watching the show, I was thinking about how lucky we were that the terrorists chose to attack the Pentagon rather than the Capitol or White House. There's almost no building better equipped to stand up to an attack than the Pentagon.

    But then, I started thinking about how the Michael Moores of the world would watch the show. They'd hear that same information and start concocting theories about how the government must have known or even planned the 9/11 attacks. And, how they chose the Pentagon precisely because so few people would die. I think this was a glimpse into how the paranoid mind of the DU lefties works. There's no room for chance or coincidence or even some kind of blessing from above. There's only room for the evil deeds of Bushhitler, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove.


    Posted by at 10:57 AM | Comments (4)

     

    Telltale Signs of Canadians

    [Posted by ]

    Ace has another fabulous top ten list today: the Top Ten Ways To Convince a Stranger You're Actually Canadian. While my favorite is #4 on the list:

    As Canadians are painfully aware that the world regards them as shiftless ice-backs living in a no-account snow-ghetto, they are always embarassingly overexcited that anyone outside of Canada knows anything at all about their country; so practice squealing in delight when someone is able to name the capital of Canada, or any city in Canada, or the first name of at least one of the MacKenzie brothers

    "Shiftless ice-backs"? Heh, that's gold, Ace. Gold! But, when you write about Canadian stereotypes how in the world can you omit use of the word "eh"? Good lord, when I used to pretend to be a Canadian as a kid, that's all I would do. Of course, as a Wisconsinite, I already have the drinking and accent down pat. But still, a column mocking Canadians without using "eh" is like:

    • talking about France without mentioning surrenders
    • writing about Bill Clinton without mentioning interns
    • discussing John Kerry without a peep about Vietnam

    There are some things you just don't do in this world.

    Also, there's no way I wouldn't know who Gordon Lightfoot is. Even though he's a Canadian, you've gotta show a little respect for the man who penned "The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald".

    Posted by at 09:24 AM | Comments (1)

     

    December 08, 2004

    Men Distort Religion, Experts Distort Reality

    [Posted by ]

    I just finished reading an amazing Reuters article by Jan Strupczewski. Strupczewski writes:

    Men all over the world distort the teachings of Islam and Christianity to justify abusing their wives and daughters, leading to thousands of "honor" killings a year for which courts provide virtual impunity, experts say.

    Although all the honor killings cited happen in Muslim communities, the point of the article is to try really hard to equate Muslim honor killings with patriarchal Catholicism. Islamic teachings are sugar coated like this:

    While traditional Islamic Sharia law does impose stricter dress codes on women and stresses their household duties, one Muslim cleric at the conference said the Koran condemned abuse of the weak but its teachings had been distorted over time.

    That doesn't sound too bad, does it? Islamic countries just have stricter dress codes. It's not like women can't drive, or vote or anything crazy like that. I mean, that's nothing compared to the evils of Catholicism where:

    Predominantly Catholic Poland, although free from "honor killings," has a problem with violence against women, rooted in the strong influence of the Catholic church on public life, Polish minister for gender equality Magdalena Sroda said.

    "Catholicism does not directly support or oppose violence against women. But there are indirect links through culture which is strongly based on religion," Sroda told Reuters.

    I'm just sitting here slack jawed at this. Women in Poland are free to live and love. They can hold jobs outside the home. They vote. They have the same rights as men. How in the world can someone compare the plight of women in Poland to women in Afghanistan, where, according to this same article, there have been 405 documented honor killings?

    You can't compare them. So, my next question is why someone would even try to compare the two. Only one answer comes to mind. These "experts" are trying to fight the growing backlash against Muslim immigration in Europe by equating Islamic extremism with traditional Catholicism.

    And once again, I suspect that all of this is being done in the name of "tolerance". We should accept Sharia law because it's not that much worse that Catholicism and eventually things will change:

    Zorayha Rahim Sobrany, deputy minister for Women's Affairs in Afghanistan, said the concept of women's equality to men was slow to take root, but that progress was being made.

    "We need time. We must move step by step. If you go too fast, the reaction is that people close themselves," she said.

    I find that attitude so ironic. Basically, these experts are saying that Muslim women should just put up with abuse and lack of freedom and equality. They shouldn't rock the boat because that'll just make things worse. Isn't that exactly the opposite of what we'd say to a battered woman in America? Why should it be so different in the rest of the world? Why are we so afraid to say that Sharia law is just plain wrong? I'm more afraid that we're going to tolerate ourselves into the grave.

    Posted by at 09:45 PM | Comments (1)

     

    NYT Poll

    [Posted by ]

    Help settle a debate between James and me and answer this quick poll question:

    Update: And it's James in a landslide. I was convinced more people registered online with major newspapers. We'll keep this in mind when we add articles to the Daily Links page.

    Posted by at 02:37 PM | Comments (5)

     

    December 07, 2004

    The Onion Gets The Square

    [Posted by ]

    While the mainstream media tries to find new ways to show that the nearly 60 million Americans who voted for Bush are either evil, stupid or "different" and Michael Moore is adament that what Democrats need to do is further embrace the Hollywood left, leave it to The Onion, of all papers, to tell it like it is. In the middle of the AV section's best albums of 2004 feature is this snippet:

    In a predictably contentious election year, an unprecedented number of music's biggest stars publicly registered their righteous anger toward George W. Bush. Even the usually nonpartisan Bruce Springsteen spent so much time with John Kerry that the senator could have been mistaken for the stiffest member of the E Street Band. Alas, all the political posturing of P. "Vote Or Die" Diddy and his ilk failed to turn the election the Democrats' way, perhaps in part because the nation's most loyal Ani DiFranco and NOFX fans weren't likely to vote for Bush anyway. The endless parade of celebrities making civic-minded pronouncements—while in some cases admitting that they'd never voted before—seemed to exhaust as much as it inspired.

    I think this is so right. It's not just that Hollywood liberals have values and lifestyles that many Americans don't agree with, it's that Americans aren't quite that stupid. Why should we believe that, by virtue of their celebrity alone, some actress or singer or filmmaker knows what's better for the country than we do? We didn't. The value of a celebrity endorsement is dwarfed by the value of an endorsement from someone you actually respect. And I don't know about you, but I don't have a lot of respect for the Sean Penns and Rosie O'Donnells of the world.

    Posted by at 10:04 PM | Comments (1)

     

    NYT Discovers the 'Natalist' Movement

    [Posted by ]

    Bubba's Blog links to an interesting David Brooks piece in today's New York Times. The media's quest to find new differences between "red" and "blue" areas in America is starting to sound almost anthropological. Reporters keep discovering all these new categories of Americans. The latest group are "natalists". According to Brooks, these folks are:

    having three, four or more kids. Their personal identity is defined by parenthood. They are more spiritually, emotionally and physically invested in their homes than in any other sphere of life, having concluded that parenthood is the most enriching and elevating thing they can do. Very often they have sacrificed pleasures like sophisticated movies, restaurant dining and foreign travel, let alone competitive careers and disposable income, for the sake of their parental calling.

    In a world that often makes it hard to raise large families, many are willing to move to find places that are congenial to natalist values. The fastest-growing regions of the country tend to have the highest concentrations of children. Young families move away from what they perceive as disorder, vulgarity and danger and move to places like Douglas County in Colorado (which is the fastest-growing county in the country and has one of the highest concentrations of kids). Some people see these exurbs as sprawling, materialistic wastelands, but many natalists see them as clean, orderly and affordable places where they can nurture children.

    Surprisingly, Brooks doesn't condemn their lifestyle or accuse them of "escaping from reality". But, I think articles like this are doing something else. They're attempting to apply multiculturalist notions to all Americans.

    What I mean by that is that we're trying to compartmentalize everyone in America. It wasn't enough to try to fit us in boxes based on our race or gender, now we have to be divided into "red state voters" and "blue state voters" and "natalists" and "values voters" and on and on and on. All this does is further divide us, and I don't understand the purpose of it. Is it so that politicians can more easily figure out who to pander to and how to do it? Or, is the media writing articles like this so that both liberals and conservatives can more easily stereotype each other?

    Unfortunately for those seeking to stereotype their political enemies, Americans are a strange lot. Over 600,000 New Yorkers don't fit the urban profile (they voted for Bush). Over 2.8 million Texans voted for Kerry. It's easy to define someone's beliefs by their demographics. And then to dismiss those beliefs because those people are not like you. It's like we're dealing with the election on some strange continuum. At first those who voted against your chosen candidate were either evil or stupid. Now, we've moved on to thinking that they're simply "different", with all the veiled contempt that that term implies. I suppose that's progress, but I'd rather someone disagree with my ideas and talk to me about it rather than just dismiss me and my beliefs as "different".

    Posted by at 05:36 PM | Comments (1)

     

    December 06, 2004

    Aussies Refuse To Be Pulled Into The PC World

    [Posted by ]

    Thank God for Australia. In a PC world, the Aussies are decidedly retro. When the Mayor of Sydney dialed down the city's Christmas celebration (one only tree in the town hall), Australians reacted like this:

    Talkback radio programs have been inundated for two days with angry callers accusing left-leaning independent Lord Mayor Clover Moore of pandering to political correctness with paltry festive season decorations.

    The Daily Telegraph highlighted the row with pictures comparing Sydney's decor with that of London, New York and Paris. Its front-page banner headline read: "As the great cities of the world light up, Sydney asks... WHERE'S OUR CHRISTMAS."

    Australian Prime Minister John Howard, who is quickly becoming one of my political heroes, nails what this lefty Mayor was trying to do:

    This is political correctness from central casting. It is unbelievable. This is the ridiculous thing about this blanding out of any kind of distinctive identity that we might have."

    I couldn't agree more. Over at American Lady, Lorraine, a 17-year old, displays the kind of wisdom that Sydney's Mayor (and too many of his political kindred spirits) lacks:

    Listen to me. Take this from a Roman Catholic.

    I've watched Bat/Bar Mitzvah ceremonies. I've seen a menorah in the window. I've seen Hindu figurines and pictures. My friend is an atheist. My sister went to Jewish pre-school (we're still trying to figure out why...but she did, nevertheless).

    I have not been offended by anything outside of my religion.

    And I'm sure that the everyday non-Christian won't go into convulsions upon seeing a couple of more Christmas wreaths.

    Ah, but why would we want to be tolerant and celebrate our tradtions, when we can use PC bullies to yet again bring down the evil culture of "dead white men". That's how we do things here in Madison. This is the sign that the "Freedom from Religion" goons got displayed in the State Capital Rotunda next to the "Holiday" tree.

    Lovely, isn't it? Ann Althouse blogged on it and gathered some opinions from around the web. Rather than parrot them, go there and read it for yourself. But, it seems like we've lost something of ourselves in our quest for political correctness. At least the Australians don't look likely to repeat our mistakes.


    Posted by at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)

     

    December 05, 2004

    BCS BS

    [Posted by ]

    If it's the first Sunday in December, then it must be time to bitch about the Bowl Championship Series. With three major undefeated teams, someone was going to get screwed. Unfortunately for Auburn, they were the screwee, mostly because they started the season behind USC and Oklahoma in the polls.

    But honestly, I'm not a fan of any of the big undefeated three. I don't really care who plays for the mythical national championship. No, what I really care about is the fact that the sanctity of the Rose Bowl has once again been destroyed. Texas is playing in the Rose Bowl. Texas?!?!? This is sick and wrong people. Sick and wrong. The Rose Bowl is played between the Big Ten and the Pac-10.

    College football sacrificed its great traditions for the sake of declaring a national champion. Of course, the system they devised has ended up not producing champions and has destroyed those great traditions. Way to go.

    I truly wish the Rose Bowl would just exclude itself from the entire BCS. Let the SECs and Big 12s play their stupid rematches in championship games. Let them go to their random bowls that aren't anywhere near as good as the Rose Bowl.

    I'd rather go to the Rose Bowl than win some silly corporate sponsored not-really national championship any day.

    Posted by at 08:27 PM | Comments (1)

     

    City Suggestions

    [Posted by ]

    Thank you all so much for your great suggestions on a new city for me. Oddly enough, I've been to most of the cities suggested, and these are now my new favorites:

    1. San Diego. I've only be to San Diego once, and when I was there I spent most of my time in LaJolla, but I thought it was just absolutely beautiful. Plus, my secret dream job is to be the head of marketing for the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. I know it's incredibly expensive, but I think about LaJolla and I still just have to catch my breath.

    2. Austin. I know Austin is probably the most liberal place in Texas, but I loved it when I was there, although, the whole bat thing kinda scares the hell out of me. I would live there for the plentiful Mexican breakfast places alone. Live music is another bonus.

    3. I spent a week in Louisville at the National Farm Machinery Show (don't ask), so I'm just going to assume that's Louisville at it's worst. What intrigues about Louisville, beyond Churchill Downs, is that seems like an older city that still has neighborhoods rather than subdivisions.

    4. Columbia, South Carolina: As a straight woman, I'm not at all intested in "all the waitresses are college girls in schoolgirl outfits", but, ever since "The Prince of Tides", I've liked the idea of South Carolina. I've never been there, but I do know that a lot of the major thoroughbred stables still winter in Camden. At the very least, someday I'd like to take a vacation down there along the ocean.

    So that's it for now. If you have any other suggestions, keep 'em coming. And thanks again!

    Posted by at 11:48 AM | Comments (3)

     

    December 03, 2004

    Apocalypse Now in Gopher Country

    [Posted by ]

    The pussification of America's children continues. I just got this in an email this morning:

    Minnesota Hockey, in its  infinite wisdom, has begun at all levels (Squirts through Bantams) issuing  "Fair Play Points" to teams if they have 14 minutes or less in penalties  for an entire game. That's right, if a team spends 14 minutes or less in  the box, they earn a point in the LEAGUE STANDINGS. So in theory, Team A  starts the season 4-0 but has at least 15 minutes in penalties each game.  Team B starts the year 2-2 but has 14 minutes or less in the box each game.  The result? Team A and Team B are tied for  first place.

    Perhaps more alarming is this possible scenario: Team A has average talent but plays a hard checking  agressive game and goes 6-7-1 over a 14-game schedule while spending at  least 15 minutes in the box each game. Team B has no talent and is a bunch  of no-checking pansies, gets creamed by double digits every game, takes  very few penalties, finishes 0-14 but gets all their Fair Play Points. The result? Team B is seeded higher for playoffs.

    My friend, a hockey coach himself, was appropriately horrified by this new rule.

    That is just appalling, what idiots come up with such crap. And they think that is going to help younger kids stay in the sport and play longer. I think not, it's actually a good thing when certain kids give up hockey because they are just not physically or even mentally ready or able to continue in the sport. It's like herds of buffalo, only the strong survive. And these adults who came up with this, I'm sure are trying to "Protect" their precious children. Along with those adults who have made it mandatory to wear those damn silly bike helmets, tell me this, I never wore one when I was a kid and I'm still alive. What doesn't kill you only makes you that much stronger. Some day soon, this country is going to be run by a bunch of Pansies (personally, I wanted to use a much stronger word).

    Americans (even 'Sotans) reject socialist notions like this in nearly every single election. Why then do we allow this kind of crap to happen to our kids? Do we really want to raise a generation of Americans that believe life owes them "fair play points"? Well, maybe the Democrats do, but hopefully enough people see through this sports communism BS to put a stop to it.

    Update: Check out the "B" Pee Wee Standings and note the records of Stillwater and North St. Paul. Ugh.

    Posted by at 10:23 AM | Comments (4)

     

    December 02, 2004

    DC Councilman Jim Graham thinks that the rich should pay to transport the poor

    [Posted by james]

    We've got a subway system here in DC called "Metro" that subsists on passenger fares and taxpayer dollars from three separate jurisdictions - DC, MD, and VA. The Metro is a nice transportation system, and is used by 100's of thousands of people per day. The problem with Metro is that it is perennially operating in the red, a problem that Metro claims is caused by problems with securing funding from each of three aforementioned jurisdictions. Of course, this problem could be easily solved (and many others as well) by converting Metro to an entirely user-supported system; in other words, Metro fares should completely and totally pay for the operation of the Metro.

    Unfortunately, that isn't what happens now - currently, passenger fares account for a very small percentage of Metro's operating budget. Instead, Metro is largely dependent on payments received from each of the three jurisdictions listed above. When any of the three jurisdicitons refuse to pay full amount of the ever-skyrocketing fees demanded by Metro (and they always do), Metro responds by cutting service levels - they reduce the number and frequency of trains, and they delay on making routine repairs. (the escalator at Cleveland Park, my home Metro stop, hasn't worked for over half a year.) (!!)

    Currently, the base fare for Metrorail service is $1.35. Let's imagine that the Metro was converted to en entirely fare-based system - in that case, the base fare might have to rise to $5 or $6 per ride to make up for the lost revenue. (I don't have the exact numbers, so I don't really know, I'm just guessing here.) Upon hearing this, critics immediately jump up and scream that Metro riders can't afford that increase, and therefore it must not be permitted.

    I think that they are only half right. Metro riders can't afford that increase, that is true. But does that mean that a fare hike shouldn't be considered? I don't think so. Consider this: An efficiency apartment in Cleveland Park, DC, starts at over $1000 a month. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, that means ZERO bedrooms. You get one room, and that room serves as you living room, your dining room, your bedroom, and sometimes your kitchen. Let's say that you want a little more space - you can't rent a 1 bedroom apartment in Cleveland Park for under $1,500 per month. Since living in DC, I've paid enough in rent to flat out buy the house I grew up in.

    If the Metro were to be converted to an entirely user-supported system, these rents would all drop, drastically. People live in Cleveland Park because there is a Metro stop here. Most people here don't own a car, they instead rely on the Metro for transportation. They take the money that they would spend on a car, on insurance, on gas, and they instead put that money towards _______________. Ok, fill in the blank here. What is the logical answer? The logical answer, of course, is the Metro. But that isn't what happens - these people instead pay their extra money, all $1500+ of it, to RENT.

    The net result is that the apartment owners are making a killing. The region is subsidizing the Metro service for the passengers, and the passengers are turning around and giving that money that they "save" directly to the apartment building owners. If the Metro was entirely fare supported, that wouldn't happen. Charge $5 per Metro fare - rent in Cleveland Park will easily drop to a third of what it is now.

    But, of course, DC being dominated by democrats, that isn't on the horizon.

    Instead of adopting the best solution, Metro and area governments continue to looking to other ways to fund the Metro. The latest idea is a proposal for an area-wide sales tax to fund the Metro. I have to admit, I kind of like the idea in concept - everyone does benefit from the Metro, especially businesses, even if indirectly, so this idea is at least worth discussing. (There are problems, i.e. DC sales tax is already at a whopping 10% on food, 5.75% on other goods, but I would like to "explore" the idea further. It's at least a solution, even if not the best solution, and it gets the issue where it directly affects everyone, so change can happen in the future.)

    But look what DC Councilman Jim Graham has to say about the idea:

    Jim Graham from the District doesn't like a sales tax because it affects both rich and poor.

    That's right, apparently Jim Graham thinks that any solution worth considering should affect only the "rich." Never mind that the "rich" are a very small percentage of DC's population, and probably an even smaller percentage of Metro customers. Jim Graham doesn't care. Jim Graham thinks that any idea worth considering should be entirely paid for by the rich, so that the poor can benefit.

    I wonder, does Jim Graham also think that the rich should subsidize meals for the poor at fancy restaurants?

    More on point, if a poor person had to figure out how to pay for a new car, would Jim Graham immediately poo-poo the idea of the poor person taking out a loan for the car, and say "well, that solution falls disproportionally on the poor person! we need to look for a way to get a rich a guy to pay for that car for that poor person!"

    Posted by jkhat at 06:47 PM | Comments (2)

     

    Top Ten Proposed Reforms for the UN

    [Posted by ]

    As inspired by Ace's list, James and I are pleased to present our very own top ten proposed reforms for the United Nations.

    10. To improve public perception, hire the former Iraqi Information Minister as their spokesman. (even though Dan Rather is also available, we think that the Iraqi guy has more credibilty).

    9. Relocate the UN from NYC to Jerusalem, then see how they feel about condemning Israeli security measures.

    8. Replace current UN Security Council selection process with an NCAA Hoops style bracketed playoff system that pits country against country in a mad month of 63 "mini wars."

    7. Let Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson, and 100 million Verizon wireless subscribers choose the next UN Secretary General via text messaging.

    6. In order to make UN officials less susceptible to bribery, increase average salary to $2 billion/year.

    5. Replace UN Security forces with the Ron Artest-lead Indiana Pacers.

    4. Replace the Security Council with any 8th grade student council, after a year, let's evaluate their performance and determine who does a better job.

    3. Make Nigeria start picking up 25% of the UN's tab, in return, the UN will consistently speak out against Nigeria and block all Nigeria-led initiatives.

    2. Develop UN-related products that both commemorate international action and help increase revenue and reduce dependence on evil Americans. Our first suggestions:

    - Pol Pot Stickers
    - Ivory Coasters

    And, our number one proposed reform for the United Nations:

    1. Allocate voting power proportionally by the levels of funding actually provided by countries. Smaller or poorer countries could raise additional funds by selling their naming rights to large corporations. "And next we'll hear from the Sudan, brought to you by AT&T."

    Posted by at 04:31 PM | Comments (0)

     

    That Was Then, This Is Now

    [Posted by ]

    From the Lone Star Times:

    Posted by at 12:54 PM | Comments (0)

     

    Missouri Prisons Reach New WTF? Levels

    [Posted by ]

    The AP reports that:

    Missouri's most violent criminals can no longer play video games that simulate murders, carjackings and the killing of police officers, a decision reached after prison officials were told about the content.

    "We didn't closely review these," Dave Dormire, superintendent of the Jefferson City Correctional Center, told The Kansas City Star. "We were told these games had more like cartoon violence."

    What's funny to me is that the big outcry is about the content of the games. Shouldn't we also question why maximum security inmates get to play video games in the first place? It's like sending your kid to his room when his room has a fridge, a TV, a computer and an XBox in it. I think Missouri (and God knows how many other places) are kinda forgetting what the word "punish" means.

    Posted by at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

     

    December 01, 2004

    Separation of Church & Football

    [Posted by ]

    While I struggle with my feelings about Madison, I'm not ashamed to declare my love for Wisconsin. It's called God's country for a reason. It's beautiful on the outside and, on the inside, Wisconsinites have an exuberance that can light up even the darkest, coldest winter.

    Outsiders are most often exposed to that exuberance through the Badgers and Packers. They are a part of the state in a way I don't think the St. Louis Rams, for example, are. For example, I didn't think it was at all unusual to get this in my email this morning:

    I'm sure other fans produce cute photoshops like that. But, in Wisconsin in goes further. James linked to a great little article about how Wisconsin churches are struggling with scheduling events around the shifting times of Packer games. Why the worry? "Rev. Don Behrendt said they don't want church members to have to make a choice between church or the Packers."

    I'm convinced that statements like that are only made in Wisconsin! It must be the cheese, or the beer, or both. Probably both.

    Posted by at 04:17 PM | Comments (1)

     

    Another Slice of the World

    [Posted by ]

    When I think of Libya, I think of Ghaddafi and deserts like in this picture.

    So, it was really eye opening to look at Michael Totten's photo essay (hat tip Althouse).

    Like Professor Althouse, I'm fascinated by the "underground" city of Ghadames. The town is deserted now as Ghaddafi forced the residents to move to modern complexes. The picture below shows the one cafe that's allowed in the city. Totten is right, if Libya was normal, a place like Ghadames would be a thriving, vibrant, world famous attraction.

    Ghaddafi has gotten a lot of pats on the back for giving up his WMD programs, but the fact remains that he still rules Libya as a dictator and the country and its people are so much worse off for it.

    Click over and take a look at all the photos. It's really amazing to see this slice of the world.

    Posted by at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)

     


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