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  • Jim Rome leaving ESPN. Bonus: Footage of Jim Rome getting attacked by Jim Everett & crying like a baby
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  • Political Predictions for 2012
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  • Why Iowa Shouldn't Vote First Anymore
  • Some Falcons Players Upset Drew Brees Went For The Record Last Night
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  • Handicapping the 2011 NFL MVP Race, 2.0

     

  • January 31, 2005

    The Aviator Should be Grounded

    [Posted by ]

    Every once in awhile, a movie comes along that everybody but you loves. The Aviator is up for 11 Academy Awards, but after seeing it I was shocked. Shocked! It's nowhere near as good as some movies that were snubbed, like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Hotel Rwanda.

    The movie covers a twenty-year period in Howard Hughes' life (from about 1927-1946) before he turned into a complete lunatic. But even with taking just a portion of the man's life they try to do too much. The movie is about Hughes' descent into madness, about Hollywood filmmaking, about his romance with Katherine Hepburn, about his love of aviation and about TWA's battles with Pan-Am and corrupt Senators. Whew. That's a lot, and if the movie had a strong narrative maybe it wouldn't matter. But it doesn't. It meanders along. And, at 3 hours, it's way too long and still not satisfying.

    (As an aside, why in the world don't long movies have intermissions anymore? It's just cruel to expect people to sit there for 3+ hours without a potty break. And, The Aviator makes it even worse by having a scene around the 2 hour mark highlighted by dozens of bottles of urine. Thanks guys!)

    On the positive side, the acting and special effects are top notch. Leonardo DiCaprio goes to town with his showy role, although I thought that Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn and Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner were more interesting.

    Some of set pieces were just wonderful, particularly Coconut Grove nightclub, a place inhabited in the 30s by the likes of Hepburn, Gardner, Gary Grant, Jean Harlow & Errol Flynn. I can't help but think that that would have made a fantastic movie. I'd love to watch, say, the story of the manager of the Coconut Grove or a spunky waitress or any kind of Copacabana story. That's what most frustrating about The Aviator: with a little more focus it could have been a wonderful film about any of these things:

    • the doomed romance of Howard Hughes & Katherine Hepburn
    • the aviation genius of Hughes and his loyal engineer Odie
    • daredevil pilots as they use their skills for both the entertainment industry and the military
    • the corporate battle between TWA and Pan-Am
    • Juan Tripp, the head of Pan Am

    Instead, I think it will stand alongside other overrated Oscar winners like Gladiator, Driving Miss Daisy and The English Patient.

    Posted by at 12:42 PM | Comments (3)

     

    Deja Vu All Over Again

    [Posted by John Tant]

    So I was watching some of the Iraqi election coverage yesterday, and I have to say that for a few minutes, I actually thought I was watching US election coverage.

    And why not? The same actors were there, all saying the same tired things from the same tired script. One of my most fond wishes for the renaissance of the Democratic Party is for them to hire a new script writer. The one they currently have has to be on his last legs by now, having been in the position for about thirty years.

    I mean, how many times did we have to hear on the weekend of November 6 that President Bush couldn't claim a "mandate?" That's rich, coming as it was from the same cast who insisted Bill Clinton had a mandate (I believe it was called a "mandate for change."). It's especially rich on the heels of an election where the winner won an absolute majority of the popular vote, something that had not happened since 1988. But no, we had Dems saying not to put too much stock in that election result.

    Which is why my ears perked up when John Kerry, himself no stranger to putting too much stock in things, decided to let us know that we shouldn't "overhype" this election. What, exactly, does that mean? Because it's good news, we ought not "overhype" it? What about the rhetoric Ted Kennedy let loose with during his America Is Always Wrong World Tour '05? That Iraq is Vietnam 4.0? Is that not overhyping the influence an extreme minority has on the Iraq stage? The insurgents (Screw it, from now on I won't dignify them with that title...they are terrorists) did not want this election to go forward at all...and you see how well THEIR strategy turned out.

    Or is overhyping the way the erudite John Kerry seeks to dismiss the historic importance of this election? After all, it pretty much validates everything the Administration was saying...that this region needs democracy and freedom, and they'd lap it up like Michael Moore would a Slurpee. The Iraqi turnout percentage was...robust...and to hear the news tell it, they voted under threat of beheading (see "courage"). Yet there's Ted Kennedy out there, recycling his own talking point that Bush "must look beyond the election" as if it didn't mean anything. Leave aside the sheer condescension and absolutely insulting message of that statement. But oh, how similar that sounds to calls that even though Bush won the election, he had to look beyond the election and appoint people who disagreed with him.

    This morning, I caught the next talking point...that the election was marred by fraud. Alas, yesterday there was John Kerry, recycling his Ohio talking points, complaining about the legitimacy of the vote:

    A kind of legitimacy--I mean, it's hard to say that something is legitimate when a whole portion of the country can't vote and doesn't vote.

    Yeah, all those people who were disenfranchised since the salad days of Saddam Hussein.

    And then there's Robert Fisk calling the whole thing a "bloody charade," saying it's basically a dog and pony show. Replace the nouns and you have the standard complaint about President Bush being a puppet for Halliburton. This sort of thing went on ad nauseum in the liberal quarters.

    Seriously guys...don't you get tired of saying the same thing no matter what the actual subject is? I mean, the only thing missing was Wonkette breathlessly publishing false exit polls.

    Look, the Iraqis voted, many for the first time in their lives, and in the first election that actually had meaning and force. And they were ready for it. Boy were they ready for it. So ready, in fact, that they stared down the anti-freedom terrorists and took the first step toward realizing their own destiny. And in doing so, they validated the sacrifice our troops made for them. Good show, guys. May you forever remain ignorant of "campaign finance reform."

    Posted by John Tant at 07:25 AM | Comments (0)

     

    January 30, 2005

    The Left's (Very) Simple Message

    [Posted by ]

    James was nice enough to send me some of the flyers and the like that he picked while observing DC's Inauguration Day protestors. One of the pieces in my package was this President Bush brown paper sandwich bag:

    That's all there is to it. No slogans. No Bushitler references. Nothing. James and I were talking about this and we both agreed that the bag was pretty cool, and that it could just as easily be pro-Bush. Heck, I might use to take my lunch to work tomorrow.

    So really, what a lame protest piece. Are these looney lefties so insulated that they believe all they have to do is show people an image of the President and they'll immediately "see the light" and start chanting "No blood for oil!"?

    It's just a simple bag, but it's also emblematic of the left's simple message. One of the great failings in the Left today is the way they project their own "anyone but Bush" stance onto the Right. I don't think they grasp the fact that Americans voted for Bush but can still not agree with everything he does. What a missed opportunity. Instead of supporting and/or proposing their own vision of America, too many Dems and Progressives just whine about how evil the Bush administration is. Why not give us alternatives? Why not, for example, propose a border strategy? Instead of dismissing those opposed to gay marriage as prejudiced religious fanatics, why not propose a form of civil unions that most Americans can live with? Instead of saying the words "Patriot Act" and expecting everyone to cower in horror, why not tackle a way to better protect America while continuing to protect Americans from their own government? There are so many issues, from immigration to privacy where liberals would do well to reach out to Bush voters. There's gotta be a positive way to channel all the energy they're wasting on hating Bush, right? Right?

    Posted by at 07:10 PM | Comments (1)

     

    It's a Great Day for Iraq

    [Posted by ]

    Of course the Iraqi elections aren't perfect, but this picture is. From the Iraqi blogger Hammorabi:

    It is the birth of freedom and democracy in Iraq!

    It is a great festival!

    Today only we may announce the victory!

    Today we hit back in the heart of the terrorists and the tyrants!

    Today is the day in which the souls of our martyrs comforted!

    Today those who were killed in Iraq or wounded among our friends from the USA and other allies, who helped us to reach this day, are with us again to inscribe their names with Gold for ever!

    Today we challenged the killers and terrorists and foot on them with our shoes!

    Many people walked long distances to vote in a most civilised way!

    People asked for more time to enable them to vote!

    One woman was crying because she can not reach the requested polling station to vote!

    In many parts the police helped citizens to take them with their cars to the polling stations!

    As we expected the enemies of God and freedom send their mentally retarded cockroaches in some suicidal attacks.

    On the top of our privileged today are those who were killed in their way for voting. Their names should be perpetuated for ever! Their names should be written in Gold in Al-Fordos Square in Baghdad!

    Our thanks go to George W Bush who will enter the history as the leader of the freedom and democracy in the recent history! He and his people are our friends for ever!

    At this moment the voting closed and we will see the results then!

    God bless Iraq and America.

    Posted by at 10:00 AM | Comments (1)

     

    January 29, 2005

    Win Friends & Influence People

    [Posted by ]

    With the Super Bowl just a week from tomorrow, many of you are no doubt planning on either attending or hosting a Super Bowl party. Whether you're the host with the most or just striving to be the best of the guests, I've got the recipe for you. This year, don't settle for bringing (or serving) the usual chippies and salsa. If you want to impress and delight your friends you need to try this recipe.

    First a few caveats:

    1. This is not a healthy recipe. However, it won't kill you to make these once and no one is going to gourge themselves on 40 poppers anyway.

    2. The recipe is pretty easy, but it is time consuming. Plan accordingly.

    3. It's damn hot.

    Jalapeno & Bacon Shrimp Poppers

    Ingredients

    • Jalapeno peppers. Look for jarred jalapenos, not fresh ones
    • Cream cheese. Plan on one package per jar of jalapenos. Now, you could lighten this up with 1/3 fat cream cheese, but I'm not endorsing it. It's up to you
    • Shrimp - peeled & deveined. I usually get the quick frozen shrimp with the tail on. Get the biggest ones that'll fit inside the jalapenos, thaw 'em and take the tails off
    • Bacon slices. You want to go for some nice thick slices. Once again, you could use turkey bacon here, if you must
    • Toothpicks - you want to have some basic toothpicks and then some fancy ones for serving.

    Directions

    Cut the stems off the jalapeno peppers and then slice them in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to clean out the seeds and stuff from the pepper. Fill the pepper with cream cheese. Lay the shrimp to bed and then tightly wrap the popper with the bacon.

    Secure the popper with two soaked toothpicks in an X fashion to hold everything together.

    Grill until bacon is good and crisp. Remove from toothpicks and re-skewer onto fancy toothpicks. Serve.

    A couple of notes. You can make this up ahead of time and bring them to the party to be grilled. And, when you're grilling, remember you'll need a least one bottle of good beer. Why, you ask? To douse the flames? Oh no, honey... Finally, if you're up north with no access to a grill, you can also try to make these in your broiler. It's not quite the same, but they still turn out great.

    Enjoy!

    Posted by at 12:51 PM | Comments (5)

     

    January 28, 2005

    Madison's Randy Moss Billboards

    [Posted by ]

    As Wisconsin's feud with Randy Moss continues, we've seen a lot of traffic here looking for information about Madison's Randy Moss billboards.

    We certainly don't want to let any you down, so I went out today to take some pictures of these infamous billboards. First, let me apologize for the quality of the images, but it's the best I could do while driving. Doug Moe of the Capital Times has a good article out with some background info on the billboards (and as always, since madison.com doesn't archive anything, you can read the whole article in the extended entry below). No one knows (yet) who payed for these ads, although Adams Outdoor Advertising, who put them up, promises that the secret of what business payed for these will be out next week.

    Here are the billboards:

    Once again, I apologize for the poor quality. This first billboard alludes to Moss' $25,000 fine for squirting an official with a water bottle.


    These next two billboards mock him for running over a "meter maid" and being fined $1,200 (and getting probation) and paying $10,000 to "moon" Packer fans.

    And here's the kicker: "Zero rings for Randy Moss: PRICELESS". Indeed it is. I'm curious what business put these up. They're certainly getting enough positive publicity.

    Doug Moe: Having our fun with Randy

    By Doug Moe
    January 28, 2005
    ANOTHER ONE of those "teaser" billboard ads has people in Madison talking, which is the reason they're put up in the first place.

    The current ads are on a series of four billboards on Aberg Avenue, not far from Oscar Mayer.

    Local media have been on it, but if you've managed to miss them, the boards are critical of Minnesota Vikings receiver Randy Moss and his notorious antics, including "mooning" the crowd at Lambeau Field as the Vikings were knocking the Packers out of this season's NFL playoffs.

    One of the boards mentions the $10,000 fine Moss got hit with for his moon-over-Lambeau stunt, and then the last board says, "No Rings for Randy Moss - PRICELESS." It's a parody of the long-running MasterCard ad campaign.

    I have to admit I am kind of a sucker for those billboards, silly as they are. It's fun to try to guess who is behind them before the "secret" is finally revealed.

    In the case of the Moss boards, the secret will be out next week, says Chris Eigenberger, general manager of Adams Outdoor Advertising in Madison.

    "It's a local firm," Eigenberger was saying this week.

    Who is behind them, Chris?

    "Aren't they fun?" Eigenberger said.

    Eigenberger is quite adept at being coy. I remember talking to him a couple of years ago when local billboards were full of ads for Outhouse Springs, a bottled water employing the unusual marketing campaign of claiming to taste like urine.

    At first, Eigenberger appeared to indicate that a company was actually trying to market the bottled water as a novelty, like the pet rock. Then he conceded that Adams was probably involved itself, in an effort to show just how much "buzz" a billboard ad campaign could create. At one point there were 17 Outhouse Springs boards up in the Madison area.

    It should be noted that teaser ad campaigns are not always wildly successful.

    Last fall in the Twin Cities, a number of boards went up saying simply: "Don't vote."

    Unfortunately, several of the boards were in areas with large minority populations, and the NAACP and other groups quickly criticized the ads.

    You may not be shocked to learn the ads were for a Twin Cities radio personality. The updated billboards said "Don't vote for Dave," referring to morning host Dave Ryan, who wasn't running for anything, but so what?

    Madison had a somewhat controversial radio billboard last fall, when Z-104 morning team Connie and Fish were on a board spoofing the Audrey Seiler disappearance. The Daily Cardinal called the boards "appalling," but Connie and Fish were nice to my daughter on her birthday, so I won't say a word against them.

    Another tease that backfired happened about the same time as the Twin Cities' "Don't vote" fiasco.

    On a highway in Rolling Meadows, Ill., near O'Hare Airport on the Tri-State Tollway, boards went up with a two-word message: "Losing sucks."

    The great minds behind the boards belonged to the Chicago Wolves minor league hockey team. The Chicago Tribune reported: "The idea was to build some preseason buzz for the Wolves."

    The city of Rolling Meadows received numerous complaints about the language on the sign, and the mayor wrote a letter to the Wolves (how did he know they were behind it?) expressing concern.

    In a few days the sign was changed to: "Losing bites."

    Writing a letter is one thing, but in March 2000 the city manager of Azusa, Calif., went a step further. There was a billboard over Azusa Boulevard saying this: "On Sunday, April 9th, six beautiful women will show you their panties." It was a teaser for the debut of the Los Angeles Avengers arena football team - or its cheerleaders - and city manager Rick Cole was so offended he obscured the last two words with black paint, leading to an investigation for possible criminal vandalism. One of his own cops turned him in.

    The Randy Moss boards are not likely to be controversial. In Wisconsin, slamming Moss is a popular pastime, so it's hard to guess who is behind the boards. If you really wanted to create a buzz, your message would say, "Randy Moss good guy."

    I do have good news for whoever is responsible for the boards. They probably won't be sued by MasterCard. A few years ago, Ralph Nader's presidential campaign ran an ad along the lines of: "Political fund-raiser, $1,000 a plate; special interest promises, $100 billion; the truth - priceless." MasterCard sued on various trademark and copyright grounds, but lost the suit.

    I suppose Moss might sue, but I wouldn't advise it, not in Dane County Circuit Court. He still wouldn't get a ring, but I believe he'd get the finger.

    Posted by at 11:15 AM | Comments (2)

     

    January 27, 2005

    Social Security's Unintended Consequences

    [Posted by james]



    (image found at socialsecuritychoice.com.)

    Yes, that's right: despite the claims to the contrary, Social Security was never intended to be a person's sole source of income upon retirement. Why, then, is that all we hear about these days? Why do we constantly hear about the "failures" of the social security system, which the American people were assured at the time of enactment that would never cost more than "one penny per one dollar earned?"

    Dave Gibson at the American Daily seems to have a pretty good idea:

    Democrats are up in arms over President Bush's rather modest plan for revising Social Security. Conservatives and basically anyone who still works for a living, are overwhelmingly in favor of a privatization of the system. After all, Social Security is going broke. Democrats as well, know the system is doomed. However, 'social programs' are the only thing currently keeping Democrats in office.

    Bingo, Yahtzee, Circle Gets the Square!

    Keep reading his excellent article here

    Posted by jkhat at 09:27 AM | Comments (6)

     

    January 26, 2005

    Google 1, Everyone Else: 0

    [Posted by james]

    Dummocrats.com has been the (lucky?) recipient of an increased amount search engine result traffic lately. I was just glancing over the logs, and I noticed a few search strings that are worth sharing.

    Before I get to the entertaining searches, let me just say:

    Hats off to Google for aptly picking up Kris' recent review of the movie Sideways. A Google search for "sideways payne bush rumsfield" (sic) provides a link directly to the individual archive entry of Kris' directly on-point review as the first result.

    This is superb for at least 2 reasons. First, few of the other search engines are "smart" enough to link users to the individual archive entry. Because our main page, like the pages of all blogs, is constantly changing, it makes little sense for a search engine to link users to the main page for content that is likely no longer there. Bravo, Google. The second reason that this is superb is that based on the search terms, Kris' story is exactly on point; in other words, it's exactly what the user was looking for.

    It is interesting that other people had the exact same take on the described scene that Kris did, isn't it? One can only wonder how many other users would have found her story through Google if Kris would have spelled Rumsfeld correctly. Perhaps she is only trying to attract the similarly-typo-afflicted few?

    The other engines were pretty much hit-or-miss as far as providing users with relevant results. For instance:


    (bigger, new window)


    Posted by jkhat at 06:06 PM | Comments (1)

     

    Hobnobbing with the Governor

    [Posted by ]

    This morning, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the March of Dimes' kickoff breakfast in downtown Madison. The speakers included Wisconsin's Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton, Dr. Jennifer Howse, the President of the March of Dimes, and the 2005 Ambassador Family. While the purpose of the event was to drum up enthusiasm among area businesses, a couple of the speakers spoke to the need to make preventing premature births a national priority. They cited statistics about how the rate of prematurity has risen in the United States, year after year. While that's undoubtably true, it's also true that we try (and sometimes succeed) in saving babies born so early that in the past they would have been considered miscarriages rather than live births. This reminds me of the popular liberal complaint that Cuba has a better infant mortality rate than the United States. Of course, that's just part of the story:

    Most of the recent rise in infant deaths was attributed to neonates — babies less than 28 days old — particularly infants who died within the first week of life. Three causes accounted for most of the increase: birth defects, problems related to prematurity or low birth weight, and pregnancy complications.

    Some experts suggest that part of the death rate may be caused by wider use of fertility treatment, resulting in more multiple births as well as babies born prematurely or with low birth weight.

    None of this means that prematurity and infant mortality aren't problems. But, what it does mean is the problems aren't as a result of government decisions or shifting funding priorities (i.e. the "evil" Republicans hate poor babies). In other words, prematurity isn't rising because fewer people have access to health care than they did in the past. In fact, you could argue that the exact opposite is happening. There are more premature births precisely because America has the best health care in the world. Infertile women are given a chance to conceive and extraordinary measures are taken to save premature babies.

    So, here's the funny part of the story. Apparently Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle initially declined to attend the breakfast (that's why Lawton was there). But, he was actually at the same hotel in a different meeting. Unfortunately for him, that meeting didn't have any press coverage. One of the smart March of Dimes workers went over and told the Governor that the press were covering the March of Dimes breakfast. Not surprisingly, he hightailed it on over to our meeting and spoke for a few minutes. There's more than a little irony in the fact that, after complaining that the federal government is trying to get out of helping Americans get access to health care (again, "evil" Republicans"), he talked about how important it is to his administration and what a priority infant health is. Of course, apparently it's only a priority if the press is there.

    Hmmm, I think Wisconsin's 2006 gubernatorial race has begun. Hey Tommy Thompson, where you at?

    Posted by at 01:04 PM | Comments (0)

     

    The Principle Of Intolerable Mandates

    [Posted by John Tant]

    On the Dummocrats.com daily link page (which should be a regular visit for everyone, as far as I'm concerned), we learned yesterday that a firm in Michigan fired all of their employees who smoke.

    Effective January 1, employees of Weyco Inc. would be subject to termination if they smoke, regardless of when they actually smoke. After work, at home, it doesn't matter...they'd be fired. And to enforce this policy, the company compelled their employees to take a test which would expose the smokers (I'm thinking they hired an ex-smoker to sniff everyone's breath). An employee quit before the test was administered, and a few others refused to take the test and
    were fired on the spot.

    Why the draconian measures? Because the company's founder didn't want to pay higher health insurance premiums for the people who smoke.

    Now, on this issue it's easy to be torn. On the one hand you have a private company. I'm a big fan of private companies. I think they should be allowed to hire whomever they want, and that goes far beyond smokers/nonsmokers. The way I see it, if a person puts up his own money to form a company, that guy gets to call the shots. After all, it's his money at stake, and if he wants to hire someone less qualified on the basis of some vacuous criteria...hey, it's his dime.

    But on the other hand we have the rights of the individual. I'm a big fan of individual rights, too. I figure if you're doing something that's legal and on your own time, who cares what other people think...as if other people should even care. And yes, I lump smoking into all of that (please don't bother with the arguments that smoking effects other people and should be banned on that basis...that's a different topic for a different post). Bottom line here, if a person is doing something in private that doesn't have an effect on his professional or public life, I don't see why anyone should care (I also don't think anyone should be forced to know what he does, but again...different topic for a different post).

    So in these situations where I have sympathies on both sides of the debate, I find it useful to apply John Tant's Principle Of Intolerable Mandates. The principle states that when two parties have a conflict created by the reasonable exercise of their rights, the party which would suffer the most tolerable infringement must be the party responsible for ending the conflict.

    To put that in more plain language, remember a couple of years ago when Natalie Maines and the Dixie Chicks spouted off in England about how they were ashamed of President Bush? Their record sales dropped like Michael Moore dropping a low-carb burrito. Listeners called their local radio stations and demanded they stop playing Dixie Chicks songs, and the radio stations complied (the customer is always right!). Well, along come the complaints that the 1st Amendment right of Maines was being violated. Applying the Principle Of Intolerable Mandates, we see that on one hand Maines had every right to say what she did....but the public had every right to listen to what they wanted to hear. At the end of the day, forcing the public to listen to something they didn't want to hear (and forcing radio stations to play something they didn't want to play) is more intolerable than simply having Natalie Maines stay away from political talk that would offend her customers.

    And so it is here. Yes, smoking is a legal activity. Yes, we'll assume it doesn't effect one's work performance if one smokes on one's own time. But until we become a communist country, no one has a right to work at a specific firm (and for that matter, a right which compels another to act against his will isn't exactly a right anyway). In sum, forcing Weyco to employ these people is more intolerable than simply having these smokers find another job. And if it's true that health care premiums are more expensive for smokers than non smokers, it becomes even more clear. If Weyco doesn't want to spend the money, even if it is on something shortsighted like the additional premiums of 20 employees, then that's their windmill, not ours.

    Or for that matter if Weyco wants to play Mary Worth and meddle in the lives of their employees...again, it's not like the employees are being forced to work there. Yes, I see how ridiculous the statement on Weyco's website is:

    Weyco Inc. is a non-smoking company that strongly supports its employees in living healthy lifestyles.

    Supports? Yeah, replace "strongly supports its employees" with "forces employees under threat of termination" and it might be more accurate. I don't think for one minute this policy is driven solely by health care costs. Show me a company where the marginal premiums of 20 employees are enough to spur this action, and I'll show you an undercapitalized company. I'm hip...I'm quite sure this is driven by some crusade on the part of Howard Weyers. But I don't care. It's their company, not mine. If senior management has nothing better to do than to go on a smoking witch hunt, I have a hard time getting bent out of shape about it. Forcing me to do so would be, I think, an Intolerable Mandate.

    Posted by John Tant at 07:26 AM | Comments (8)

     

    January 25, 2005

    Wisconsin v. Illinois

    [Posted by ]

    Tonight, our alma mater, Wisconsin, puts its 38-game home winning streak on the line against the number one ranked Illinois Fighting Illini. This is one of the season's top games and you can watch it on ESPN tonight at 9 (8 central).

    This morning, the Wisconsin State Journal engaged in a little pre-game trash talk by publishing a comparison between the two states in categories such as "ease of pronounciation", "sausage of choice" and "proximity to Indiana". Unfortunately, the article isn't available on madison.com. But, never fear, we at Dummocrats are more than happy to take up the torch and give you our comparison of the Land of Lincoln & ahem, God's Country.

    Category
    What We Say
    Advantage
    State Song "On Wisconsin" is one of the most recognizable marches by one of America's great composers. I had to actually look up whether Illinois even had a state song.
    Shopping Illinois has Michigan Avenue, Ikea, Crate & Barrel and Sephora. Wisconsin has the House of Wisconsin Cheese
    Food Chicago-style deep dish pizza is great, but is it any better than a good Wisconsin Friday night fish fry? No way.
    PUSH
    Beverages While Illinois has considered naming an official state beverage, Wisconsin is busy making hundreds of fabulous beers.
    Nicknames Wisconsinites are affectionately known as "Cheeseheads". Illinois residents are not-so-fondly known as FIBS.
    Iconic Football Coach Yeah, Da Bears did well under Mike Ditka, but there's a reason the Super Bowl trophy is named after Vince Lombardi.
    Voting In Illinois, you get to vote in elections even after you die. In Wisconsin, you get to vote in elections even if you're really from Illinois.
    Scenic Beauty Wisconsin has Door County, the Dells, Devil's Lake, and the coastlines of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. Illinois has, uh, I guess the Chicago skyline is pretty, right?
    Comedians While Madison proudly spawned Chris Farley, it doesn't match Illinois' native sons like Bill Murray & John Belushi.
    Bloggers 2/3 of the Dummocrats staff hails from Wisconsin. 'Nuff said ;-)

    So there you have it. Anyway you slice it, Wisconsin comes out on top. Hopefully Sharif, Zach, Alando, Mike Wilkinson and the boys can do us proud tonight.

    Update: Just to clarify, even though Illinois won the basketball game, the state, like the Bears, still sucks ;-)

    (Oh, don't worry Illinois, we kid because we love)

    Posted by at 11:17 AM | Comments (3)

     

    January 24, 2005

    Artists, Celebrities & Politics

    [Posted by ]

    Last week I wrote about how upset I was by, what I thought was, a gratuitous anti-Bush scene in the movie Sideways. I was thinking about that while driving home tonight (I pretty much do all my thinking in the car or in the shower) and I'm afraid that that post gave the wrong impression.

    While I may not like the content of a typical liberal filmmaker's statements, I don't object to the making of those statements. It's their right. What bothered me about Sideways was the haphazard and random way the anti-Bush sentiment was put into the film. It had nothing to do with the story and was just a "me too" move by the filmmaker.

    Maybe it's not fair, but I do distinguish between political statements made through works of art and political statements made by artists and celebrities. Some artists are fueled to express themselves through their work. Politics is their muse. Other artists simply want to use their celebrity as a platform.

    I may not always agree with a Chuck D., for example, but I certainly respect his ability as an artist to craft his messages so compellingly. At the same time, I liked the Dixie Chick's music, but I lost all respect for them when they talked about being ashamed to be from the same state as the President.

    I look at it this way, if you've made a political film, written a political song or painted a political picture, you've earned the right to receive publicity for your views. If, however, you're a cast member of a TV sitcom and you want to tell me how to vote, I'll resent it and call you an asshatted celebrity.

    Posted by at 10:13 PM | Comments (0)

     

    Kofi Annan: Mass Murderers Are Not Always Extremists

    [Posted by ]

    I just read the most absolutely amazing statement from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Annan, in opening the first-ever General Assembly commemoration of the World War II Holocaust, said:

    "How could such evil happen in a cultured and highly sophisticated nation-state in the heart of Europe whose artists and thinkers had given the world so much," Annan asked. "Truly is has been said: "All that is needed for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing."

    "The purveyors of hatred, were not always and may not be in the future, only marginalized extremists," he said.

    You know, I believe that, by definition those that incite mass murder are extremist. How is the "kill them all" position not extreme? Is he really saying that the Nazis, because they were Western and "sophisticated", were not extreme? Or, is he shifting the burden of the Holocaust from its German perpetrators to the rest of the world that allegedly "did nothing"?

    It could be the latter. Maybe he's kissing up to the Germans, who are "sick" of talking about the Holocaust.

    I may be reading too much into this, but I can also see Annan's statement as a veiled attack on the United States. Is he really warning the world against the aggression of the "cultured and sophisticated" United States? Is the rest of the world the "good men" that are obliged to do something to oppose US policy?

    I don't know. But I do know that when you characterize mass murder as not necessarily an act of extremism, you're also minimizing events like the Holocaust or the genocide in Rwanda. They were horrific. They represent the absolute worst, the most extreme acts that mankind is capable of. Pretending otherwise is just another way to try to validate another round of Bush=Hitler bullshit.

    Posted by at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

     

    January 23, 2005

    The Philosophy of TAR

    [Posted by ]

    Regular readers know that my reality TV show of choice is CBS' The Amazing Race. Although this season isn't the show's best, it's still one of the best hours on television each week (Tuesdays at 9, 8 central time).

    With five teams remaining, some people will speculate about who is most likely to win the "cash prize of one million dollars". But not me, at least not yet. Before I can pick a winner, I've got to analyze the candidates even more. I want to get inside their heads and find out what makes them tick. Maybe if I can figure out their political philosophy, I can figure out who will cross the finish line first (and, if you don't watch TAR, don't worry, once we've seen a few episodes of The Apprentice, we're going to give those contestants the same treatment).


    Kris & Jon: are fan favorites due to their good looks and great attitudes. But behind that attitude, it's easy to tell that they're libertarians. With their isolationist sensibilities and self reliance, they naturally shun alliances and prefer to go it alone. They're tolerant of other cultures and feel no need to impose American mores on the rest of the world. While they've made no friends among the other teams, they've made no enemies either. Right now, they're the favorites to win.

    Freddy & Kendra: With a nickname like "Team Nuance", it's pretty clear that Freddy & Kendra are liberal Democrats. In the face of uncertainty, Kendra is paralyzed. She'd rather study the options endlessly than actually do anything. After seeing Hotel Rwanda, her preference for inaction kind of reminds me of the UN. Like some Democrats, Freddy & Kendra have, at times, been more concerned with keeping up their alliance than with winning the game. While I'm sure they think they're compassionate, their contempt for others was demonstrated when Kendra, in Dakar, Senegal, exclaimed disbelief that the city's poor would just keep "breeding and breeding". Freddy & Kendra aren't a terrible team, but they've shown no ability to work creatively or on their own.

    Adam & Rebecca: are Greens. His crazy devil horn hair screams "pay attention to me" while their bickering reminds me of nothing so much as revolutionaries tearing each other apart over their committment to "the cause". Like Greens, Adam & Rebecca are self-absorbed drama queens. Their behavior is erratic. At times they can be utterly charming, but then, in the next second, they'll turn sullen. Then, they wonder why no other teams want to be near them or work with them. Adam & Rebecca are the ultimate fringe team and I expect them to be the next ones out.

    Hayden & Aaron: are the Republicans in the race. They're really not that different from their liberal Democrat allies, Freddy & Kendra. However, they have shown the ability to bounce back from adversity. To me, they're more likely to figure out a way to solve a problem, rather than just sit there are cry about it. And, they even mirror the split in the Republican party. Hayden is a little joyless and unforgiving (the Moral Majority if you will), while Aaron is more of a South Park Republican: irreverent and pragmatic. Like Republicans, Hayden & Aaron are strong and stand a great chance of winning, unless they decide to fight each other rather than the other teams.

    Lori & Bolo: have shown a lot of socialist characteristics. They're very concerned about fairness (no butting in line!). They seem to rely on the rules of the game to help them, rather than help themselves. So far, it's worked out for them, as they've fallen behind time after time, only to luck out and get evened up with everyone else through the rules of the game. But, I think that Lori & Bolo's reliance on the system, rather than themselves, will be their eventual downfall. I don't expect them to make the final three.

    Phil: Finally we have Phil, the host of the show. And, let's face it: Phil's a dictator. He declares who's eliminated every week. Luckily, Phil's really cool. So he's more of a benevolent dictator. In fact, I think he's Aristotle's Philosopher King!

    So there you have it: the philosophy of TAR. I'm just thankful that the commies and fascists have already been philiminated.

    Posted by at 09:14 PM | Comments (0)

     

    Heeeeerrrre's Johnny!

    [Posted by ]

    I was so sad to come home today and find out that Johnny Carson had passed away. I adored Carson. We bitch about "hollywood liberals" today, but Carson was a throwback to old Hollywood. He was classy, intelligent and, best of all, endlessly entertaining.

    I think he respected his audience enough not to throw his politics in their faces. Sure, he made jokes about Nixon and he had Clinton playing the sax on his show. But, at the same time, he was one of the early big contributors to Ronald Reagan's 1980 Presidential campaign. In fact, Reagan's thank you letter is included in Reagan: A Life in Letters:

    Dear Joanna and Johnny:

    Nancy and I just got off another airplane. Do you know we are on them so much I don't think we ride them anymore, I think we wear them. Anyway, we arrived home to find your very generous contribution. We both want you to know how very grateful we are. You make us very proud, indeed. We'll do our best to see that you never have reason to regret your kindness. We both hope we see you very soon. And again our heartfelt thanks.

    Sincerely,
    Ron

    I think that Johnny Carson made all Americans proud. I hope he enjoyed entertaining us as much as we all enjoyed welcoming him into our homes. Thanks for the memories, Johnny.

    Posted by at 04:43 PM | Comments (1)

     

    Championship Sunday

    [Posted by james]

    Ah, it's finally here, the best pro football day of the year. But wait, you say, isn't that title reserved for Super Bowl Sunday? Not a chance - on Championship Sunday you get TWO games, not one, and this year, I think that all 4 of these teams "deserve" to make it to the Super Bowl.

    Since the liberals haven't gotten around to pussifying it (yet), we still keep score in pro football and everyone can't win. That means it's time to make our fearless predictions for Championship Sunday.

    Thoughts on the game, from both Hat & Kris. These line items are taken out of emails sent between us, so you now have some idea what we spend our spare time doing. (sad, isn't it?)

    New England at Pittsburgh
    • Corey Dillon didn't play when Pit stomped NE earlier in the season. +NE
    • NE's strength is in coaching, but does that matter when they're against a running team? +Pit
    • Home field +Pit
    • Pittsburgh, at 15-1, is a home dog in the betting lines, they have a chip on their shoulder +Pit
    • Rookie QB +NE
    • NE played tough last week, even though most of their guys already have a ring. That's to their credit, but can they play two games in a row like that? Don't guys like Bettis & Cowher just want it more at this point in their careers? +Pit
    • Pitt hasn’t lost since week 2. +Pitt
    • NE and brady have proven that theyre great in blizzards. + NE
    • So has viniteri. + NE

    We both agree, this game is going to be close.

    Hat's pick: Despite my thinking that it's very, very foolish to pick against NE, I'm going to go with the home team. I think that these teams are about dead-even. Steelers by 3.

    Kris' pick: Neither of these teams has the absolute top notch skill guys, so the game will be more smash mouth. and, i think smash mouth football is won by the team that desires it more. I think Pit is that team. I say they win, but it's close, around 3 points.

    Atlanta at Philly


    • Eagles play blitz happy defense, and that doesn't work against Vick. For every time they get to him he'll break another 2 for 10+ yards +Fal
    • Philly has lost 3 straight home NFC championship games. The pressure is all on them +Fal
    • You think Ed Donatell wants to beat Philly? I do +Fal
    • With TO out, the Eagles already have their built in excuse for losing +Fal

    Hat's Pick: People are wrong to think that the Falcons are a warm weather team: Remember, Vick led the Falcons into Lambeau where they handed Favre his first playoff loss at home, in freezing cold weather. I think it's Atlanta by a TD.

    Kris' pick:: For as good as the Eagles looked agains the Packers, I still suspect that they're nothing more than the Vikings in green. I expect Atlanta to win big, by 10 or more.

    So there you have it, those are our fearless football predictions for this, Championship Sunday, the best (pro) Football game of the year. So if you're reading this before 9pm on Sunday, get outta here! Go get yourself in front of a big TV and enjoy. We'll be still be here to say "I told you so" when the games are over.

    Posted by jkhat at 01:46 PM | Comments (8)

     

    January 21, 2005

    Smigiel (R) solves the Internet Porn Problem

    [Posted by james]

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I have terrific news! Maryland State Representative Michael D. Smigiel, Jr. has forever solved the internet porn problem!

    ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Despite the best filters, pornography could still find its way onto children's computer screens -- but perhaps not for long.

    A Maryland lawmaker believes he has come up with a simple, cost-free way to block online pornography, television station WBAL reported.

    Even the most innocent, innocuous commands while searching the Internet can turn up sites that make parents blush and dive for the delete button, the station reported.

    The solution? Calling porn what it is by adding ".sex" to the end of the Web site address.

    "As a parent, I have this wonderful research tool available that has so many land mines that are out there that I don't want to have to explain to my children," said Delegate Michael Smigiel Sr.

    Smigiel, who is the House Deputy Minority Whip, brainstormed what he called a simple solution that he's confident will receive wide support in the state's General Assembly.

    "This bill would require that any sexually-explicit materials sent over the Internet to have a suffix of dot-sex," Smigiel said.

    "Dot sex" would be easy for computer filters to weed out because the material would be flagged at the Internet service provider level, the port where online information travels. That way, material adults deem unfit for children wouldn't find their way into schools, libraries or home offices, the station said.

    "They [ISPs] will be able to afford to do this because they could sell those names, ... [they would be] able to sell that name for what the market would allow that money would be used to put in these filters," Smigiel said.

    The bill is being filled as a commercial law, not a criminal matter. ISPs that do not comply would be fined $1,000 per violation.

    According to Smigiel, the feedback so far is universal.

    "What took so long? Why didn't anybody think of this before?" he said others say.

    Of course, I'm being facetious.

    My Lord, where do I even begin with this guy? From reading the article you would think that porn providers don't actively TRY to get their site to pop up when uses "innocuous" search "commands." I'm sure that Mr. Smigiel sees that little disclaimer on the bottom of his spammail and thinks "Oh, golly gee, another marketer accidentally contacted me by error! I know that these guys make every effort to only contact people that specifically ask for this email because it says that right there in the disclaimer!"

    What a tool. I want to say "Let's start with the obvious," but the problem of not knowing where to start still remains because there are so many glaringly obvious problems.

    • First off, lets start with the jurisdiction/enforcement issues: Even if the U.S. could pass a law like this, the U.S. government doesn't have authority/jurisdiction to enforce it against foreign defendants. Pass a law, it may apply to 100 U.S. companies, but won't apply to 10,000,000 foreign companies.

    • The U.S. government doesn't own the internet. While one could make a case that the U.S. government effectively "controls" 8 of the top level domains, they could NOT make the same case for the 100+ other top level domains. (i.e. .uk, .de. .fr, etc.) So if Jacques puts porn on banana.fr, what is Mr. Smigiel going to do? Invade France?

    • Third, as a technical matter, ISP's don't sell names, registrars do. And ISP's don't get money from registrars. The man is clearly confusing "ISP's" with "hosting companies," or just lumping everything internet-related together - "Internetty-companies, they have all that money, right?"

    • Fourth, I'm tired of making this list. This is such a phenomenonally stupid idea that I can't bear to waste any more time on it, so I'll jump to

    • four-point-fifth - didn't ICAAN take a similar issue up with the proposed .xxx domain? Libraries before Legislation, Mr. Smigiel.

    • Fifth, the whole crazy idea, despite being functionally and technically flawed, is also almost certainly unconstitutional. Pornographic material is not necessarily obscene (Miller) and is entitled to first amendment protection. I'd recommend that this fellow read the applicable 1A case law. The library filtering cases (i.e. Mainstream Loudon) seem particularly instructive. In a layman's nutshell, if I have a right to show sexually explicit pictures, I have the right to do so right here on dummocrats.com as much as I do on dummocrats.sex, especially considering that every other foreign-based dot-whatever will have porn on it.

    Smigiel says that everyone is applauding his brilliant idea, asking "[w]hy didn't anybody think of this before?" Yes, Mr. Smigiel, of all of the millions of people that have considered it, no one at ICAAN, no one at CERN, no one at Sun, no one at Oracle, no one at Cisco, no one at IBM, etc, no one in Congress (see failed Communication Decency Act), no one ANYWHERE thought of this incredibly simple yet brilliant idea. You're a regular Einstein, Mr. Smigiel.

    Posted by jkhat at 10:23 PM | Comments (1)

     

    Protestors Surprised by Opposition

    [Posted by ]

    This article in today's Capital Times reminds me of the classic post 9/11 article in The Onion entitled "Hijackers Surprised to Find Selves in Hell". Now, I certainly don't mean to compare protestors to terrorists, but they are both so sure that they're right that they barely stop to consider that rational people could disagree with them. Yesterday's protestors from Madison seem to live in their own little world:

    After a 14-hour bus ride, a long subway trip, two hours waiting in a security line and lingering long after in the cold air, Tracey Sperko was frustrated.

    Sperko knew a thing about adversity and disappointment: The Milwaukee Gulf War veteran was the local director of Veterans for Kerry. But upon her arrival in Washington, she was shocked at the massive police presence and hostility of those around her.

    Yes, it's shocking that the police would be out in force for an open air event featuring the President and his closest protestors. Shocking. It's equally shocking that some people would be hostile to those protestors. I mean, it's not like a majority of American voters chose the President or anything crazy like that. Sperko strikes me as yet another Pauline Kael who couldn't believe Nixon won because no one she knew voted for him.

    Too many of these protestors cannot fathom that not everyone agrees with them. Unfortunately, it looks like their trip to DC just reinforced their impression that everyone but a few nasty, evil Karl Roves is with them:

    "It is quite the production," said Megan Toal-Rossi of Milwaukee, noticing that police were lined in two or three layers in front of her along the parade route. She said she was amazed that more supporters of Bush were not visible along the route.

    "To me, it looks like there are a lot of angry people out here," she said. "It's good to see people standing up for what they believe in. But it is frustrating for us to be standing here and say, this is still our president."


    It's funny that one protestor is "shocked" by the opposition, but another protestor is "amazed" that more Bush supporters didn't turn out. Just for the record, there were specified "protest zones", so it's quite likely that the looney lefties only saw each other. My guess is that there naturally weren't a lot of Bush supporters in the protest zone and that the various left wing groups were just being hostile to each other!

    I'm sure it was for their own good, but in many ways it's really too bad that protestors from liberal enclaves like Madison won't have their eyes opened to the mass of America that was damn proud to be standing there and saying, "this is our President."

    One protestor summed up her experience by saying, "I'm glad we kept trying to give people a symbol, a sign of hope that we can go forward. We're here, we're not going to go away. We made it."

    What symbol or sign of hope did protestors bring? I've seen nothing but hatred from these protestors. I know they despise President Bush, but what are they for? What do they believe in? What is their vision of the world?

    Yesterday they chanted "What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now!". So, I guess they still believe in some 60s utopian vision of the world where all problems can be solved with healthy does of "peace" and "love". Unfortunately for them, the real world is, um, real, and its problems can't just be solved by wishing them away.

    Update: Bill Wineke, in the Wisconsin State Journal, explains just perfectly what's wrong with so many of the anti-Bush protestors in a column today:

    A number of people, including some from Madison, traveled to Washington for the sole purpose of turning their backs on Bush when he passed by.

    That was their civil right, but it was also stupid. During a great civic ceremony like this, if you turn your back, you don't turn your back on an individual but, rather, on the office he holds. The protesters were telling the country they reject the decision the voters made. Those of us who are Democrats ought to be as offended as those who support the president.

    His whole column is just excellent. Since madison.com doesn't keep articles on their site for long, I'll save it in the extended entry so you can click the link below to access it.

    Wineke: Inauguration shows why country's great
    00:00 am 1/21/05
    Bill Wineke Wisconsin State Journal

    As the television cameras panned the crowd behind President Bush Thursday, I couldn't help thinking what a great thing it is to be an American.

    Sitting more or less behind Bush were Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Sen. John Kerry sat off to one side, as did former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton sat beside her husband.

    Political rhetoric gets so mean and so abusive that, sometimes, we can forget just how civil our society is at its core.

    I have a feeling that the Bushes, the Carters, the Clintons, the Gingriches and the Kerrys probably don't really like each other all that well. No doubt each of them - with the possible exception of George Bush and his father - probably thought the wrong person was taking the oath of office.

    But, they were all there being gracious because they understand one simple thing about what was happening: The office of the president doesn't belong to an individual, but to the country.

    I guess that's what made me feel good as I watched the ceremony. Kerry wasn't out staging a coup. Carter wasn't boycotting the ceremony. They were there congratulating the president, just as most of them were there 12 years ago congratulating Clinton when he took office.

    They were giving silent testimony to the organizing principle of this republic: The voters can elect anyone they wish.

    A number of people, including some from Madison, traveled to Washington for the sole purpose of turning their backs on Bush when he passed by.

    That was their civil right, but it was also stupid. During a great civic ceremony like this, if you turn your back, you don't turn your back on an individual but, rather, on the office he holds. The protesters were telling the country they reject the decision the voters made. Those of us who are Democrats ought to be as offended as those who support the president.

    The president's speech was both eloquent and inspiring. I don't know if it was more alarming to the rulers of Saudi Arabia or to conservatives who feel the United States shouldn't be interfering in the sovereign affairs of other lands. But Bush made a statement more clearly than any president since Woodrow Wilson that he wants to make the world safe for democracy.

    We'll see how far he goes in that regard. But, certainly, having an American president proclaim the values of democracy as he begins his term cannot be seen as a bad thing by any of us who love freedom.

    There were some jarring elements to the inauguration, too. There is something sad about the new presidential limousine. It is, when you look at it, a tank painted black. The windows look as if they came from a Brink's armored truck. I'm sure it's necessary, but it is necessary because not all Americans are quite as civil as those attending the inaugural.

    The blocked streets and the snipers on the roofs all bore testimony to the fact that even in the nation's capital city, the president isn't safe. And I wish that weren't true.

    Overall, though, Thursday was a great day for our land - as is the day of every inauguration when Americans prove once more they can entrust their government to men and women who, when their time comes, will give up power and applaud their successors.

    Posted by at 01:54 PM | Comments (1)

     

    January 20, 2005

    Girly Post of the Day

    [Posted by ]

    The Bush women make for a pretty picture at an Inaugural Ball, but after watching another episode of Project Runway last night, I'm in the mood to join the fashion police force.

    Barbara: She's a very pretty young woman with a nice figure, but she dresses like all she wants to do is disappear into the background. This isn't an awful dress, but it's too close to her skin tone. I think she's hiding in her clothes rather than wearing them. She looks like Jenna's high school age sister, not her twin.

    Jenna: Jenna's pretty much the opposite of Barbara, isn't she? She's vivacious where Barbara is demure, and this dress really fits that personality. First, I absolutely love, love, LOVE green. It's a great color for her and is something that's sure to make her stand out in the crowd. I think this is the best I've ever seen her look. She looks sexy (and is certainly showing off her rack), but not sleazy. Good job, Jenna.

    Laura: Ugh. You really have to work hard to make Laura Bush look bad. So someone was working awful hard here. What a dumpy dress. It's a horrible, blah color (at least in this photo) and the cut is too straight and makes her look like she has no waist. I understand that she probably didn't want to go with a traditional red or blue, but she looks really good in those bold colors.

    As for the Bush men, frankly, you've seen one tuxedo, you've seen them all. I'm afraid that I won't be judging mens' evening attire unless Raj from The Apprentice 2 happens to show up. ;-)

    Posted by at 09:34 PM | Comments (11)

     

    It's Chief Justice of the United States, Senator Lott

    [Posted by james]

    I was just watching my recording of the Inauguration.

    Trent Lott called William Rehnquist "The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States" not once, but TWICE.

    You would think that a U.S. Senator, particularly one who serves as the Chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies would know that the position is The Chief Justice of the United States, not "The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States."

    Posted by jkhat at 08:01 PM | Comments (2)

     

    Inauguration Protester Pictures

    [Posted by james]

    I've just returned from the Inaugural parade and, as promised, here are a few pictures from the event. I have to warn you now that I'm a bit disappointed with the pictures that I ended up with - I didn't have a chance to get very many before my batteries died, mostly because my friends and I were having plenty of fun making fun of the "protestors," most of who I'm sure didn't have to worry about taking "vacation time" to attend the event.

    On our way to the north 14th street entrance (the public entrance, for those without bleacher tickets) we ran across these folks staging a "die in" at 16th & H.

    I'm not sure what their point was - going by their signs, I think that they were some sort of sexual deviants lusting after the President ("F*CK BUSH"). Interesting thing about this picture is that while there are maybe 20 spectators, 4 of them have professional looking cameras and are actively taking close up shots. Hmm. If these "reporters" were choosing close up shots so that they could later make it look like the demonstrations were a lot larger than they actually were there was really no need - if there is one thing that this event had plenty of it was dirty protestors.

    One guy passing by called out to the perverts, "keep fighting the good fight!" (And he was serious, not joking.) Keep fighting WHAT good fight? Since when was laying down "fighting?" As soon as I'm done with this piece, I'm gonna go "fight" on my couch and watch the Inauguration coverage that I tivoed.

    On the way to the gate we saw this lovely family of three, a father and his 2 sons aged maybe 12 and 8:

    Yep, that's right - this guy has his 8 year old son wearing a sign that says "Dismantle the Empire." Where is 'Child and Family Services' when you need them?


    I'd like to say that I feel sorry for the kids, and I do, but I think I feel even more sorry for his unwitting protestor:



    Man, and I thought that I hated people who dressed their dogs up in sweaters!

    Here's a young man with a question for the President:

    His sign asks "BUSH, How many Iraqi soldiers, women, civilians, and children have you killed today?" Then says "Which Dicatorship will you invade next?"

    Answers: 0, and Iran. Any more questions?

    You know, I'd like to ask this "protestor" a question of my own: Confused but well-meaning protestor, how many soldiers, women, civilians, and children have you SAVED today? From how many have you lifted the yoke of oppression? To how many have you given the same civil liberties you take for granted? Answer: take a guess.

    When we got in line to get in, there were maybe a few hundred people in front of us. Soon thereafter, though, hundreds (perhaps thousands?) of "protestors" stormed to the front, yelling, screaming, cutting in line. These people pretend to be for rule of law, but they can't stand in line like everyone else. Here's a view of the crowd behind us.

    Note the huge "F*CK OFF BUSH" sign in the background (a popular message with these people, I might add) and the "blue zone" sign to the right. There were a lot of these "blue zone" signs, and there were many other signs about the "blue." You know, I'm still a bit annoyed that no one seems to understand that blue is reserved for the incumbent party while red is traditionally the color of the challenging party. Gore was "blue" in 2000 because the Dems were the incumbent party. Bush 41 was "blue" in 1992 because the Republicans were the incumbent party. The 2004 election saw the Dems retain blue because the media and these so-called passionate political activists don't have the first damned idea what they're talking about.

    We finally got in and opted to stand on a hill, behind a fence, which really hindered my ability to take any decent photos. I wish this one would have turned out:

    This one had a sign that read "What's next, Kevorkian for Surgeon General?" Funny, I thought - this same fellow probably thinks that Kevorkian is wrongly imprisoned and that he "did nothing wrong." Hmm. On a related note, I also saw a sign that said "Alberto Gonzales, Butcher of Baghdad." WHAT? Now that one I just don't get - as much as I hate to encourage uniformity, maybe this fellow should have just stuck with the ever-popular "F*CK BUSH."

    About half of the crowd where I was standing was "anti-Bush," and this yahoo was the loudest of the lot.

    He spent so long booing in this "thumbs down" pose that I began to think that it was all was capable of - but boy was I wrong!

    Yes, that's right, this fellow can point UP as well! And who says that America's schools are failing?

    There were a lot these signs as well, bearing the "not in our name" message:

    Most of them were carried by people that I'm pretty sure weren't old enough to vote and/or have never paid a dime of taxes in their lives. "Not in your name?" OK, sport. It's not in your name if you're not paying for it. When your parents stop claiming you as a dependent, maybe then you'll have standing to make that demand. Until then, might I suggest that you change your sign to read "Not in my Mommy and Daddy's name?"

    You may have read stories about the protestors knocking down fences and getting pepper sprayed - it happened right here, directly across the park from where I was standing.


    Yeah, that's the best picture that I got of it. These people were chanting "let us in, let us in!" and were knocking down fences and throwing things (mostly snowballs) at the riot police. First, they could have gotten in, just like everyone else, all they had to do was go stand in line. Second, do they really expect to be taken seriously, throwing things at police, knocking down fences, trying to start a riot? They should have been arrested. And snowball or not, for throwing anything at a police officer they should be put in prison.

    Well, there you have it - those are the best of my not-so-great pictures. My camera died soon after that, we didn't get any decent pics of the parade, and we actually left pretty soon after the President drove by. (Which is before the parade even got started)

    Oh, I do have this brief video that I took while standing in line, just as the crowd began its rush of the gate. About 14 Megs, 1 minute long. I really did a terrible job of keeping the camera straight.

    Posted by jkhat at 07:08 PM | Comments (8)

     

    Bipartisan Protests in Madison?

    [Posted by ]

    On my way home tonight I noticed a group of about 20 protestors gathered at the intersection of Willy St. and John Nolen Drive here in Madison. They'd wave their signs at passing motorists and their fellow liberals honked back in support. It was such a goofy scene that I knew I needed some pictures of it. Unfortunately, I haven't yet learned the lesson that in Madison one always needs to be armed with a digital camera, in case of looney lefties. So, I got home, got my camera and went back.

    I wasn't able to get any good photos, but I did notice something absolutely shocking. These protestors weren't just looney lefties. Nope, amidst the "No Bush for Oil" and "Bush Lied" signs I spotted one that said "Another Stolen Election". Wow. I'm amazed that someone who was obviously protesting the emerging Milwaukee election fraud scandal was allowed to join their group. I guess Madison liberals really are tolerant after all! ;-)

    Posted by at 06:56 PM | Comments (0)

     

    Today's Media Script

    [Posted by ]

    James noted yesterday how coverage of Bush's inauguration has focused on the cost and the protests. Unfortunately for our depressed press, this constant negative coverage failed to inspire the American people to rise up and take back the country from the majority of folks who voted for Bush.

    Understandably, the press is in a foul mood today. I liken it to me having to cover the Minnesota Vikings' Super Bowl Championship parade (Ha! As if that'll ever happen.) And, to make matters worse, there are all these bloggers and amateur media critics out there pointing out how slanted their coverage really is. What's a depressed, but wary, member of the liberal mainstream media to do? Well, I think they try to get their digs in at the President in ways most people won't notice, like how on November 3rd, a photo of Bush on CNN.com was titled "asshole.jpg". Or how, today, on Inauguration Day, captions to photos all tell the same story on photo after photo:

    President Bush was sworn in for a second term on Thursday and pledged to work to heal a country divided by the Iraq war. Bush, who begins his second term with the lowest approval rating of any returning president except Richard Nixon

    Ladies and gentlemen, that's the story for the day and nothing else. It's not about a celebration of American democracy or the inauguation of a man that most American voters chose to lead us for the next four years. Nope, today is about ripping on the President.

    There's no good reason for that sentence to be included with so many photos from today. Did pictures from Clinton's Presidential Library opening include a line or two about his tawdry affair with Monica Lewinsky? If they did, I couldn't find any. In fact, all I found were rapturous descriptions of the Golden Age of Clinton.

    I'm so far beyond wanting to see positive coverage of Bush, but for just one day would it kill the press to be fair and balanced?

    Posted by at 04:03 PM | Comments (1)

     

    Inauguration Pictures

    [Posted by james]

    I'm going down to the festivities on the mall - check back later, and hopefully I'll have a few good pictures to post.

    Posted by jkhat at 10:35 AM | Comments (1)

     

    Show DC The Money (Again & Again)

    [Posted by John Tant]

    I'm getting SO TIRED of hearing carping from the Dems and the "leadership" of DC (Motto: 911...please hold) about the use of Homeland Security funds being used to provide security for the inauguration. Sick because 95% of the carping out there ignores several facts.

    The Federal Government pays an annual lease to the District for the space they use, the arrangements needed, and so on. So it's not like the Federal Government is forcing the District to pay for everything the Feds do. In fact, according to a froth-mouthed Post story, total payments to the District from the Federal Government, including various reimbursements, will total $2.51 billion this fiscal year. Now granted, that includes some off-budget stuff, but still....that's a lot of cash. Let's contrast that with the 2005 budget for DC. The budget shows $6.25 billion in spending. So right off the bat, the Federal Government is providing about 40% of the District's budget in one form or another.

    So it's not like the District is blindsided when it comes to this. In fact, part of the stated purpose of the federal funds paid to the District is specifically for things like this...security and other related-type items stemming from the Federal Government being here (Marion "Bitch Set Me Up" Barry calling this an unfunded mandate on the radio this morning is especially rich.). Now while it's true traditionally the District had been reimbursed for inaugural festivities, to me that just says the tradition was wrong. What's happening here is the District is trying to get double-paid for something and is complaining when the free lunch ends.

    The next thing to look at is a matter of allocation. Homeland Security grants are generally purpose-driven; earmarked for a specific use. For instance, DHS may send a few million to New York for the deployment of patrol boats. By law, the city HAS to spend that money on patrol boats...they can't buy fire trucks with it. Last year DHS sent out $10 billion in grants alone. The issue (as reported earlier by CNN is that some cities receiving such grants are misspending them...bowing to local politics instead of the purpose of the grant.

    Now not having a copy of the accounting statement concerning how DC spent the DHS funds received (thank you, transparent government), I can only speculate that DHS sent purpose grants to DC, DC complained that they didn't have the funds to provide security for the Inauguration (more on that in a minute), and DHS said "OK, we'll release the purpose requirement on those funds and you can use them for general (to use the lingo) "disaster preparedness, prevention, response and recovery." In fact, DHS oversight of funds is itself a bit of a controversy, with the money going to cities but the actual uses of it not followed up on, or the uses themselves being mismatched with actual vulnerabilities of the recipient. One story (not available online, alas) has to do with a small county in the midwest receiving a bunch of money for a mobile disaster response unit...for a county of, like, 1,000 people. I believe the sheriff uses it for his office.

    That aside, it doesn't seem all that unreasonable to me to look at DHS funds, conclude they were misallocated in light of current circumstances, and release the recipient from the legal obligation of how to spend them.

    But all of this floats over the main point...if DC is receiving a buttload of money from the Feds in general and DHS in particular, and those funds are specifically to remiburse the District for the hassle of having the Feds as a tenant...where is that money now? You can't tell me that the over $2 billion the Feds pay is spent by the District solely on Federal Government things. I am not Montel Williams, after all. It's being used as a subsidy for District residents, plain and simple. So if the District is spending that money on building charter schools instead of on its stated purpose of providing security and support for Federal functions, how is that Bush's fault? The District has Home Rule. So if people want to complain about a relatively paltry amount of DHS grant money being used to pay for security, it follows that said people would support revocation of Home Rule.

    So with all that said, to me it seems using DHS money to secure the Inauguration is PRECISELY the reason such funds are made available in the first place. It also says that if DC is complaining about it, there is something wrong with the way they are using the huge amount of money they already receive from the Federal Government, and it opens up a lot of uncomfortable questions for the District. Questions which frankly aren't new.

    Posted by John Tant at 08:58 AM | Comments (1)

     

    Meet the New Poster Child for Feminism

    [Posted by ]

    Guess who's the latest feminist icon. Is it MIT biologist (and now a big Lawrence Summers critic) Nancy Hopkins? Or how about Condoleezza Rice, who'll soon be America's face to the world as the new Secretary of State? Or even Michelle Kwan, who just won a stunning 9th US figure skating championship? Nope, it's none other than Jennifer Aniston.

    Apparently, the breakup of her marriage to Brad Pitt is because he wants kids now and she doesn't. This makes her a hero to some people:

    It takes enormous courage to say: "Well, this is what I want, I want to make movies, I've worked too hard to chuck it all in for nappies, nipple creams and round-the-clock nausea."

    Aniston isn't just rare, she should be declared an endangered species. It's so refreshingly uncommon to find a woman in her mid-30s whose sense of self-preservation isn't being overridden by the clanging of her biological clock.

    Over at Salon.com, Rebecca Traister seems to be taking this all a little personally:

    The media lesson we're all being fed in the wake of the breakup -- whether it bears even a passing resemblance to the realities of Pitt and Aniston's marriage -- is glaringly clear: You may land a hot husband, ladies, but you'd better pop one out soon, or you won't keep him.

    I think the real media lesson here is that these columnists are acting like Brad Pitt is their mother: "When are you going to get married? When will I get some grandchildren?"

    Some feminists want to jump on this as another case of women only being valued for their uteruses:

    It's a regressive and scary message to women: No matter how rich, thin, beautiful or talented, what really makes us attractive -- after a few years of marriage anyway -- is our ability and willingness to reproduce on demand!

    Personally, I'd hope that Brad & Jen, like most couples, discussed having children before they were married. This is all speculation, but I'd imagine they probably decided to wait until they were a few years into their marriage to start trying. And now that they're at that point, Aniston has changed her mind. When one person wants kids and the other doesn't, there's really no way to compromise, is there? If their marriage ends, is it because Jen won't "reproduce on demand" or is it because she changed the expectations for their marriage after the fact?

    I don't think there's anything wrong with Aniston deciding she doesn't want kids right now. But, I don't see how that makes her at all "courageous" or why it makes Pitt some kind of villain. What I do think is that some people are so threatened by the traditional male and female roles that they'll make a heroine of someone for literally doing nothing.

    Think about it. There are so many amazing women that could be held up as feminist role models: teachers, doctors, lawyers, mothers, soldiers and scholars - women of character and accomplishment. But instead, an Aniston is praised simply for not wanting to take on the traditional role of motherhood.

    Posted by at 12:20 AM | Comments (1)

     

    January 19, 2005

    Comedy Central, more trusted than CNN

    [Posted by james]

    According to Drudge, not only is CNN *still* getting trounced by FoxNews, but now even Comedy Central's news program "The Daily Show" is pulling down better ratings than all but one CNN airing:

    CABLE NEWS RACE MON, JAN. 17, 2005

    FNC O'REILLY 2,719,000 [VIEWERS]
    FNC HANNITY/COLMES 1,730,000
    FNC SHEP SMITH 1,626,000
    FNC GRETA 1,470,000
    FNC BRIT HUME 1,445,000
    CNN LARRY KING 1,442,000
    COMEDY DAILY SHOW 1,049,000
    CNN ZAHN 535,000
    MSNBC MATTHEWS 530,000
    CNN AARON BROWN 467,000
    CNN COOPER 363,000
    MSNBC SCARBOROUGH 349,000
    MSNBC OLBERMANN 342,000
    (emphasis added)

    I'm sure that those "in the biz" chalk The Daily Show's success up to the "18-35 disinterested viewer, interested more in entertainment than in watching the actual news." The problem with that assessment, however, is that these viewers are still tuning in to a news program and not to a rerun of Family Guy, which says that they are certainly not disinterested and are clearly interested in watching an informative news program.

    CNN revamped both their flagship channel and the entire HN network about 5 years ago with hopes of appealing to a younger demographic - they added a lot of busy looking tickers and graphics to the screen, they "opened up" the studio so that the atmosphere looks more hectic, and they had their anchors start cajoling with one another during transitions to appear more "hip." The results? See above.

    Deserved or not, Fox News has a reputation for being a right-biased channel. And John Stewart certainly makes no secret of his liberal viewpoints. If CNN wants to get back into the cable news race, perhaps they should take a cue from the market leaders and spend less time on trying to look "hip" and "cool" and spend more time being upfront about the bias that we all know is there.

    CNN, an objective news source? Please. If that's their position, I think we've been calling the wrong channel "Comedy Central."

    Posted by jkhat at 08:29 PM | Comments (1)

     

    Sideways To The Left

    [Posted by ]

    I went to see the movie Sideways last night mostly for Thomas Haden Church. I liked him as Lowell in Wings, and I absolutely loved him as Ned in Ned & Stacey. I thought the movie was just excellent. All of the actors were tremendous and the script created characters that felt more like fully realized people to me. I can imagine these characters inhabiting the real life beauty of California's wine country.

    However, I do have one major beef with the film. Alexander Payne (who also made the wonderful satire Election), couldn't resist taking a shot at President Bush. During a particularly obscene sex scene, Payne's cameras pan to a television. Who should be on it but President Bush and Donald Rumsfield. Payne is obviously making two statements here:

    1. President Bush and Secretary Rumsfield are just as obscene and dirty as this sex.

    2. See everyone, I'm a liberal too. Can I be part of the cool crowd now?

    This scene had nothing to do with the plot or characters in the movie and everything to do with Payne wanting to make a "me too" statement to the rest of the Hollywood liberals. Obviously, Payne has every right to make political statements, but, as an audience member, it's just plain annoying to have the fillmaker's politics suddenly plopped down in the middle of a character-driven film.

    Too many folks in Hollywood can't leave well enough alone. I'm getting ready to make the over/under on dumb political statements that'll be uttered at the Oscars. Any suggestions?

    Posted by at 08:12 PM | Comments (4)

     

    In Madison, they don't even try to appear objective any more

    [Posted by james]

    It's no secret that the media hates George W. Bush - that's why it came as no surprise to me when virtually every media outlet in the country picked up on last week's story about a woman selling (presumably) anti-George Bush "Count me Blue" bracelets. What did the woman do to warrant this nationwide publicity, you ask? Nothing, except for insult the President.

    After all, her idea wasn't ground-breaking or orginal, being one of hundreds of variations on the popular Lance Armstrong Foundation bracelet idea. And it's not like these bracelets had become some sort of national obsession, either, because at the time these articles were written she had sold less than 1,000 of them. No, this woman got millions of dollars worth of free advertising solely because the media wanted the bracelets to become a national obsession. In short, they wanted to make the news rather than report the news.

    In fact, this story on Madison's own Channel 3's website has links to THREE different vendors of the "anti-Bush" bracelets. They also thought to throw in a link to a single "pro-Bush" bracelet vendor - maybe they did this in the interest of appearing objective, or maybe it was an actual attempt at being objective, I don't know. In any event, I was surprised to see the link.

    On this, the day before George Bush's second inauguration, Channel 3 makes no such attempt to appear objective. On the Channel 3 website, you'll find no mention of the upcoming inauguration, no mention of the various celebrations planned around the city, state or nation. All you will find is this single story about an "Anti-Bush" protest taking place almost 70 miles away from Madison in a town of less than 8,000 people. In my opinion, hardly a newsworthy event.

    Nevertheless, this is the one and only story even related to the inauguration, on this, the day before the inauguration. (To be fair, Channel 3 did run a story a few days ago about a busload of protesters travelling from Wisconsin to DC, in an attempt to "shut down" the city. I think that they even included helpful information as to how one could secure a seat on the bus...)

    The story at hand comes complete with an ever-so-helpful link to help the would-be looneys express their individual opinion with pre-printed signs:

    "For more information or to print out signs, go to SaveWisconsin.org,"

    And an ever-so-objective survey question:

    "Are the Bush inaugural plans too ostentatious?"

    Like I said, it's no secret that the media hates George W. Bush. It's obvious from their biased coverage of issues and events, from their selective coverage of news stories, and from their attempts to "manufacture" news stories that they want to see happen through product placement and ridiculous "survey" questions.

    Why can't they just admit it?

    Posted by jkhat at 01:27 PM | Comments (3)

     

    January 18, 2005

    Inauguration Follies

    [Posted by John Tant]

    We're bracing for a busy time here in DC this week. But more fun (to me) than the inauguration is found in looking at some of the groups
    planning their protests.

    For instance, we have the Anti-Capitalist Convergence who will, in their own words, "bring anarchy to the streets of DC."

    Is it even possible to "plan" on bringing anarchy?

    At Union Station, a bunch of bicyclists belonging to a loosely-organized group called Critical Mass will meet at Union Station, to "ride with traffic, be traffic, through the city, hitting all the protest and demonstration sites."

    I can hear it now..."Man...I'm so mad at Bush, I'm gonna wear a blue poncho and ride my bike!!!"

    The DC Anti-War Network (DAWN) will be staging a "die-in" at Malcolm X Park.

    I have no idea if it's a real "die-in," or if the participants are only expected to pretend to die. But at least either way their mouths will be shut.

    ReDefeat Bush (oops, sorry...that would be Left.org now. These name changes are hard to keep up with.) is staging an event at the Jefferson Memorial featuring a Q&A with...Thomas Jefferson. No, not the real TJ (THAT would be silly...), but a guy dressed up like him.

    Maybe some smart-ass will go there and ask why Thomas Jefferson is curiously quiet about the Washington State election in his screed.

    And lest we forget, Billionaires for Bush will be holding an auction at the FDR Memorial, with such things as Social Security and ANWR up for grabs.

    Well it's about time! Where can I put in my bid?

    So in preparation for Thursday's inauguration, I'd like to recount a fun story from the last inauguration.

    You'll recall it was a somewhat...contentious...time. Of course the moonbats all came out of the woodwork and made a nuisance of themselves, so much so that many were arrested. As they were all hanging out in the various jails, per DC policy they were served lunch. And it was the standard jail lunch of bologna sandwiches. Alas, there was a great cry of anguish.

    The protesters were all vegetarians, you see.

    So after about an hour of adverse media attention, Capitol Police Chief Terence Gainer stood up and told them to zip it...it's jail, and they don't get a choice as to what to have for lunch. So here they have President Bush being inaugurated, and to rub salt in the wound, the local jail doesn't have a vegetarian menu. The schadenfreude was thick that day.

    Something tells me DC may have stocked up on the avocado sandwiches this time around.

    Items are from various sources.

    Posted by John Tant at 08:26 AM | Comments (0)

     

    Cheaper Than a Dozen Roses

    [Posted by ]

    With Martin Luther King Day now just a fleeting memory, our thoughts turn to the next big holiday (no, not Groundhog Day, although I do love that movie): Valentine's Day. While you may already have big plans for your sweetie, our Wisconsin readers can also take advantage of neat free service. Go to the Isthmus website between now and Feb. 4th and, to paraphrase Rhett Miller, let your heart explode some words. The Isthmus will publish them free of charge in the Book of Love on February 11th.

    I don't know about you all, but this year I'd like to come up with some clever variation on The Turtles' "Eleanor".

    Eleanor, gee, I think you're swell
    And you really do me well,
    You're my pride and joy, et cetera.

    Whose heart wouldn't melt over that?

    Posted by at 07:24 AM | Comments (0)

     

    January 17, 2005

    Newsflash! Men & Women are Different

    [Posted by ]

    Harvard's President, Lawrence H. Summers, is in trouble. In a talk last week Summers suggested that "innate differences between the sexes could help explain why fewer women succeed in science and math careers."

    Michelle Malkin notes that:

    According to the Boston Globe, the first point Summers touched on was the reluctance or inability of women who have children to work 80-hour weeks. The second point was that fewer girls than boys have top scores on science and math tests in late high school years. Summers' third point addressed discrimination. Summers noted that if discrimination was the main factor limiting the advancement of women in science and engineering, then a school that does not discriminate would gain an advantage by hiring away the top women who were discriminated against elsewhere.

    This actually makes sense to me. Although, an 80-hour work for anyone is crazy, but especially for women with children, and even more especially if this statistic I found is true. It states that "only 7% of mothers aged 25-49 with children under the age of 18 work more than 49 hours per week outside of the home."

    The Harvard Crimson Online (which has by far the best coverage of this controversry, by the way), says:

    Summers referred repeatedly to the work of University of Michigan sociologist Yu Xie and his University of California-Davis colleague Kimberlee A. Shauman, who have found that women make up 35 percent of faculty at universities across the country, but only 20 percent of professors in science and engineering.

    Their analysis of achievement test results shows a higher degree of variance in scores among men than among women. According to Ascherman Professor of Economics Richard Freeman, an organizer of the conference, the research found that “there are more men who are at the top and more men who are utter failures.”

    Predictably, some people overreacted to this speech. Nancy Hopkins, a professor at MIT walked out of the speech when Summers offered up this personal example:

    He also cited as an example one of his daughters, who as a child was given two trucks in an effort at gender-neutral upbringing. Yet he said she named them "daddy truck" and "baby truck," as if they were dolls.

    Now, Hopkins is entitled to her hissy fit, but I suspect that she was motivated by more than pure intellectual distress. The Harvard Crimson reports:

    Hopkins said she mentioned the Summers speech in an e-mail exchange relating to another matter with Boston Globe reporter Marcella Bombardieri in an e-mail message Friday—but that she did not intend for her sentiments to spark the media circus that is already underway. Following a Globe article this morning, the story has appeared across the national media, and Hopkins said she has already received a request to appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America” as well as several other television shows.

    Yes, I think that the absolute best way to avoid sparking a media circus is to speak to the media, don't you?

    What actually bothers me from Summer's speech is this comment:

    after Summers’ mentioned the “innate differences” hypothesis, he explicitly told the audience: “I’d like to be proven wrong on this one.”

    Why? Why would it be so horrible if men are, on average, better than women at math & sciences? Why would it be so horrible if women are, on average, better than men at communication and nurturing a family? Wouldn't that be a better explanation than deciding that parents and educators from nursery school on up are in a conspiracy to prevent girls from learning math and science - all part of some sinister plot to keep women down? Do we all have to be the same?

    To my mind, equality doesn't mean that, for example, science professors should be:

    • 51% female
    • 49% male
    • 75% white
    • 12% black
    • 3.6% Asian
    • And so on

    Equality means that a talented individual, regardless of their race or gender, has the opportunity to rise to the top.

    Women are gaining in fields that were traditionally dominated by men. Half or even more of law and medical students are women now. However, I expect that women will never fill half of the top spots in these fields. One of the wonderful things about being a woman today is that you can choose the kind of life you want. You can have a high powered career. You can be a full-time mom. You can even do a little of one and a little of the other. One of the worst things about being a woman today is the lie that we "can have it all". You can't. Like most things in life, a choice also includes a sacrifice.

    And finally, Llet me say this: men and women are different. I've been around enough toddlers to know that there's a point in their lives when little boys like nothing more than "big trucks" (that's a shout out to my nephew Jordan ;-) while little girls the same age are obsessed with Mommies and babies. And we don't grow out of all of that. I don't know a single man who wasn't strangely fascinated by the Little Giant Ladder or a woman who was interested in it. Similarly, I know that no man will understand why I have 5 pairs of pink shoes, but I think I could justify it to another woman. Men and women are different, and viva la difference!

    Posted by at 10:35 PM | Comments (3)

     

    To Reform or Not To Reform

    [Posted by ]

    I was listening to Rush Limbaugh this afternoon while running errands at lunch. I don't normally listen to Rush, but I had left my new mix CD at my desk (that CD is awesome, by the way, it has everything from Madeline Peyroux to Velvet Revolver). So anyway, I caught a couple of callers. One young man wanted to convince us that the third world couldn't be successful capitalists because they didn't have any colonies to exploit. Okay there.

    The next caller wanted to talk about the Democrats' opposition to social security reform. The caller made a good point about how the left is always barking about far off potential dangers to the environment, but at the same time are so dismissive about potential problems with our current social security system. Their hypothesis was that Democrats just simply didn't want to do anything as long as it's a Republican President who will eventually get credit for saving the program. That's pretty much the standard theory.

    Rush had a more interesting theory. His comment was that the Left doesn't want to reform Social Security. It's in their philosophical interests not to. Their goal is not a short-term hit on President Bush's agenda, but rather a long term goal to increase the size and scope of the government. I think he's right. Think about it. If we do nothing about social security one of two things will happen: benefits will be cut or taxes will be raised. And let me tell you, benefits won't be cut. A majority of politicians are not going to throw themselves in front of the demographic train of social security recipients. So taxes will be raised. The social security wage limit will disappear (this will be easily justified as a "tax on the very rich"). Ever greater amounts of wealth will be transferred from private citizens to the federal government. The welfare state will grow dramatically and the American Left's dream of a socialist state will be one step closer to reality.

    As Hillary Clinton, in a refreshing burst of honesty, said, "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."

    I'm not necessarily on board with Bush (or anyone else's) plan to reform social security, because no one's talking about really reforming it and changing what it means to the American people. As Arnold Kling so succinctly put it in Tech Central:

    Today, we refer to Social Security as an "entitlement." In the 1930's, however, that was not the case. It was thought of as social insurance. The difference is significant.
     
    In the 1930's, relatively few people lived significantly past the retirement age of 65. In those days, it would have been foolhardy to save enough to last until you were 80. But if everyone contributed to a collective pool, then we could insure that the few who lived long past retirement would not be destitute.
     
    Since the 1930's, longevity has increased by more than a decade. However, the Social Security retirement age has been raised only a few years. As a result, Social Security no longer represents insurance for the unusually long-lived. It is now an "entitlement" for everyone.
     
    Back when it was insurance, Social Security's tax burden was low, and the benefits clearly flowed to people in need. Today, the tax burden is high, and benefits go mostly to people who had the means, if not the incentive, to save to provide for themselves.

    Those of us around my age are left with a difficult question. Do we support "reform" of the current system (which sucks) and expect to get benefits when we retire or do we too oppose reform on philosophical reasons and then vote like hell against any future measures to save social security for ourselves (in which case we'll be sacrificing every cent we ever put into it)? I'm almost inclined to go with the latter, because it's not like I've ever expected social security to be there for me anyway. And I'm not the only one. Check out the comments on this post at Citizen Smash.

    Heh, maybe the short-term opposition to social security reform will be a motley combination of right wing nutjobs and left wing moonbats. I suspect this isn't what people had in mind when they asked for bipartisan cooperation!

    Posted by at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)

     

    Additions to the Blogroll

    [Posted by ]

    I added a whole bunch of new blogs to the blogroll this weekend:

    • Badger Blog Alliance: a Wisconsin blog doing some good work on the emerging vote scandal in Milwaukee and Racine
    • Badger Pundit: a brand new Wisconsin blog
    • Blackfive: a military-themed blog I just overlooked before
    • Boblog: Bob Mould's blog. We're not exactly political soulmates, but he's a smart guy and one of my absolute favorite musicians. He lives in DC now, so if you can, I highly recommend checking out a show
    • Brainpost: Another Wisconsin blog that's all over the vote story
    • Bubba's Blog: stories of a Texan now living in NYC
    • Charlie Sykes: Wisconsin writer and radio host's blog
    • Chrenkoff: the international perspective (from Australia)
    • Commonwealth Conservative: focus on Virginia political scene
    • Consternations: I don't know if Texas bloggers are bigger, but they sure are good
    • Daou Report: Find links to some of the best current commentary on the web daily
    • Darn Floor: yet another fellow Wisconsin blogger
    • Jiblog: I've gotta use his own description here - "the intellectual repertory of a Midwestern, gas guzzlin', beer chuggin', one woman lovin', son of a bitch conservative"
    • Pardon My English: Great group blog I find myself linking to all the time anyway
    • Probative: Law professors and students seem to make the best bloggers. Ian from Probative is no exception. Actually, he's both a law student and in Texas, which is a deadly combo
    • Scofflaw's Subsidy: Views from a transplanted Wisconsinite now living in (sigh) San Diego
    • The American Mind: A Madison blog with a more serious bent
    • The Diplomad: fantastic blog from some mysterious US foreign services officers.

    I'm always amazed by all the good bloggers out there, and I'm always interested in finding new blogs. So, if you have a tip for me or want to self-promote, let me know in the comments.

    Update: I forgot to add another good Wisconsin blog: Lakeshore Laments. And, you know what a sucker I am for alliteration.

    Posted by at 11:15 AM | Comments (5)

     

    January 16, 2005

    Sunday Scenes in Madison

    [Posted by ]

    As Ronald Reagan might have said, "It's morning in Madison." One sure sign of the dead of winter is the annual appearance of ice shanties on the lake. It took awhile this year, but they're finally out there. It seems like there only three or four weeks a year that I can't watch fishermen right outside my windows.

    Something new this winter in Madison are the Capitol Square Sprints. Instead of being populated with farmers, legislators and hippies, Madison's Capitol Square was filled with snow and cross country ski racers.

    It wasn't anywhere near as cool as I thought it'd be. They should have ditched the snow fence, put up a beer tent and given out free cowbells. Then we would have had an event! Actually, that sounds like a great idea for Bush's Inauguration too. There are damn few events that wouldn't be improved by a beer garden.

    Posted by at 03:28 PM | Comments (1)

     

    We Need a New Holiday

    [Posted by ]

    If we took a holiday
    Took some time to celebrate
    Just one day out of life
    It would be, it would be so nice

    -Madonna

    Tomorrow, lots of people will be off work and school for Martin Luther King Day. I'm not one of them, but I don't begrudge them their good fortune. After all, I just had days off for Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Right now, I don't really need a holiday.

    But then I look at the calendar and see that we don't have any paid holidays until Memorial Day. That's almost six months. That's a hell of a long time. Students get a spring break, but the working stiffs don't get anything. Unless we're using vacation time, we have nothing to look forward to.

    That has to change. I propose that we, the American people, just decide to make up a holiday for this dark period. Here's my idea: we establish "March Madness Days" (or whatever, it doesn't matter what we call it, after all, we're just making this crap up) for mid-March. Many offices basically shut down during the first round of the NCAA basketball tourney anyway, so why even pretend to work anymore? We'll just close 'em up on that Thursday & Friday. Sports fans can relax, gather together and monitor their brackets. Nonfans can help retail sales by using some of this time to shop for a new spring wardrobe. Come Monday, everyone's back in the office refreshed and cheerful. It's a win for everyone.

    Well actually, not everyone. I can't imagine any greeting card or gift opportunities around March Madness Days. Maybe we save the dates, but change the name to something that will also help the greeting card & party supply industries. Any ideas?

    Posted by at 10:56 AM | Comments (4)

     

    January 14, 2005

    A Quick Link for the Sports Fans

    [Posted by ]

    With a big NFL weekend ahead, I thought I'd share a cool link I found through looking at our Site Meter. It's ESPN's Trackback Reports. From the looks of it, this page will give you the last two days of sites that are linking to ESPN.com stories. It's a quick & easy way to check out some amateur sports reporters.

    Posted by at 06:08 PM | Comments (0)

     

    I'm Also A Woman

    [Posted by ]

    So, I was listening to the audio from Charlie Sykes show yesterday. I knew that Kevin from BrainPost mentioned us on the air, but I didn't really know how we came up, so I wanted to listen to the whole show.

    Charlie and the bloggers (doesn't that sound like an '00s version of Huey Lewis & the News?) were talking about other Wisconsin bloggers and Kevin was nice enough to mention me and Dummocrats. But then, he said, "I believe she's also a woman." For some reason, that just completely cracks me up.

    Yes, I do have an ambiguous first name, but I'd hope readers would catch that I'm definitely a woman. Maybe I need to write less about football and more about shoes. Maybe knowing that these are my latest pair will help confirm who I really am. ;-)

    I should say that the Sykes' show was awesome. It was cool to hear some of the bloggers I read everyday and important for the whole community of bloggers to get some publicity. There's still a huge untapped audience for bloggers. The more people who find out about blogs, and no longer need to rely on just the mainstream media, the better. Plus, some of those folks will be inspired to start their own blogs. And the blogosphere is perpetually in need of fresh, new voices.

    Posted by at 02:16 PM | Comments (5)

     

    Are Blogs the Big Media Target of 2005?

    [Posted by ]

    With President Bush safely in office for another four years, the mainstream media's thoughts have turned to another dangerous enemy: the blogger. The Columbia Journalism Review likens blogger's work in RatherGate as "mob rule". ABC News named bloggers their "People of the Year", but failed to mention anything at all about RatherGate. Instead, their short story seemed to focus on blogs more as personal journals and/or tools of political parties. Jonathan Klein famously said, "Bloggers have no checks and balances . . . [it's] a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas." And now, the Wall Street Journal has joined in, attacking some left wing bloggers for receiving payments from the Dean campaign.

    I'm surprised to find myself defending Kos, but I think he's absolutely correct. The WSJ is trying equate the White House's incredibly stupid decision to pay Armstrong Williams with the Dean campaign's early adoption of bloggers. Kos says:

    So what's going on? Zephyr is obsessed with imposing journalistic standards on the blogosphere. We can debate the merits of this issue, and good points can be made on both sides (I think it's a dumb idea). But what Zephyr did, and which I find unconscionable, is that she took the Armstrong Williams issue, and made up shit about our involvement with the Dean campaign to score points.

    Bloggers are not objective. Who the hell would even want to read an "objective" blog. Bloggers wear their point of view on their sleeves. Kos and Instapundit and other bloggers are debating the issue of disclosure, as in, do bloggers have to disclose whether they're receiving payments from a party or campaign? I think it's completely irrelevant. When you come to a site called "Dummocrats", I think you know where we're coming from. Same with Liberal Oasis or Right Wing News. No one on the internet is pretending to not have an opinion, the way that mainstream media reporters do day after day and night after night.

    In the past, I've never bought the argument that the mainstream media's only real bias was for a good story. But, in this case, I don't think we're going to see a bias towards the left or the right. The media will direct its efforts at denigrating all blogs because self preservation trumps all.

    In 2004, reporters were shamed by bloggers. Individuals who never went to J-School and who don't have the full force of a news organization behind them were able to uncover stories that paid journalists completely missed. Don't you think that makes them feel inadequate and, dare I say, a little defensive? What do people do when they feel defensive? They strike out. That's what I predict the mainstream media will do in 2005. They'll try to "get back" at bloggers either through unflattering stories or, even more threateningly, by pulling free content from the Internet. CBS News even altered its PDF of the RatherGate report so you could not cut and paste from it, making it more difficult for bloggers to quote from it.

    The mainstream media's response to bloggers is strikingly similar to that of the recording industry. Instead of embracing the internet and using it to improve their product, they see it as a threat and want to get rid of it. So, maybe it's not bloggers that they fear after all, maybe what they really fear is change. But, as Confucius said, "Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change." And, I don't think anyone's going to argue that reporters are the wisest of men.

    Posted by at 11:02 AM | Comments (1)

     

    'It looked like he pulled it off an X-wing fighter...'

    [Posted by John Tant]

    The phone rang one Friday night:

    "Hello?"

    "Tant, it's Mace. Hi ya doing?"

    Mace is an old friend of mine, a rather soft-spoken former Airborne Ranger and something of a gun aficionado. He's the guy who helped me pick out my first handgun. He also has an odd habit of making the "How" in "How ya doing" sound like "Hi."

    "Heya Mace, what's up?"

    "I just got a new rifle I think you might like. Come on over tomorrow...You HAVE to try this out."

    "Aw, man...I'm supposed to help my wife pick out some window treatments for.....um, I mean, yeah I'll see you tomorrow."

    So the next day I get to his place (a rather large spread in a, shall we say, rather rural area) and Mace is carrying a HUGE box. He pulls off the cover and....

    You ever see the movie Alien 2? When Ripley has that huge, eff-off gun? Well, Mace's new rifle put a movie prop to shame. The barrel was roughly the same diameter as Kate Moss' neck. On end, it was about a foot shy of my six foot height. It was large. It was heavy. It looked like he pulled it off an X-wing fighter. It was a Barrett M82A1 .50 BMG rifle.

    I say "rifle" in the loosest of terms, of course. When you think "rifle," you tend to think of that little .22 your grandfather gave you, or a .30-06 carried by your hunter buddy. However, when you think of a Barrett in no way does the word "little" become at all relevant in the discussion.

    "Mace, what IS this?!?"

    "Well, I came into a little extra money and decided to treat myself. This thing is totally wang. Check it out."

    So we did. We took turns shooting it until we got tired. Although the barrel has a muzzle brake, and the gun is a semi-automatic (both of which help cushion the recoil), we were still a little fatigued after about an hour of shooting (It was how you feel after shooting clays with a 12-ga. for an hour...). But it was a blast to shoot, especially at targets roughly 600-800 yards away. Of course, it's a totally impractical rifle. I mean, where the hell would I use something like that outside of a VERY spacious area? It's not like I could take it to the local indoor range, or any local outdoor range for that matter. I'd only be able to really shoot it at Mace's place. And this gun weighs almost 30 pounds. It wasn't exactly balanced for off-hand shooting. Home defense? Frankly, it would barely fit in my living room. Plus, using it for hunting would, well...forget it. There are very few areas in the world where hunting with a .50 BMG round would be considered "safe," even in the loosest interpretation of the word.

    No, strictly something for target shooting. And indeed, there are numerous clubs where guys go out and indulge in target shooting competitions (for example, the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association.). So why do I bring this up now? Well, it's in the wake of a recent Sixty Minutes story talking about the banning of .50 BMG rifles and how dangerous they are. See, they have no practical purpose, we're told...and so the Brady camp would prefer they be banned. Of course, the Brady people would prefer all guns be banned, but that's beside the point.

    But there's something interesting going on here. On one hand we're told by the anti-gun crowd that it's OK to have guns as long as they are sporting...ie no fully automatic weapons or anything like that. Well, what can be more sporting than shooting a rifle in a competition where the spread between 1st and 4th place is about one inch at 1,000 yards? Particularly if the rifle in question has no other real use other than in these sorts of competitions? But now we're being told by the anti-group that because this gun has no practical purpose (in other words, is a sporting arm), it must be banned. I can't keep all of this straight!

    I think what's getting lost in all of this are the numbers involved. A brand new Barrett M82A1 runs almost eight thousand dollars. And that's just the rifle. You want a scope, something that's going to allow you to shoot at a tiny little 'X' at 1,000 yards while standing up to the heavy recoil of the rifle, it's going to cost you more. Mace had a nice Swarovski scope he said cost around two large. So that's ten grand and we aren't even out the door yet. Gotta get ammo, and .50 BMG rounds aren't cheap. If you can get them for a dollar per round for practice ammo, you're doing well. Specially tuned target ammo can run, well, about as much as you can stand to pay for it. So figure you just bought a rifle that costs half as much as a Jeep Wrangler and costs you at least a buck (and usually more) each time you pull the trigger. And that's just the equipment. If you're going to compete with this thing, you have to keep it in rather tip-top shape, which means regular, fastidious, purely anal-retentive maintenance from the owner. So with all that, you have to figure the target customer for this rifle is someone affluent enough to afford a ten thousand dollar toy who had enough attention to detail to get that way...and isn't it the libs who keep telling us poverty begets violent crime?!?

    That's why I liken .50 BMG precision shooting to Formula One racing. The equipment involved is so specialized and so costly that the people using it simply don't fit the profile of your average 7-11 robbing thug. And just as a Formula One car will blow the doors off that 98 Riceboy Civic with the big fartcan, a .50 rifle will have much more power than a .30-06 round at any point on the ballistic chart. But does that mean we need to crack down on Formula One cars on our highways? Or is the market somewhat self-correcting in that regard?

    I'd say the latter. Take a wild guess how many .50 BMG rifles have been used in crimes in this country, and I don't want to keep seeing the same hands. Yep. Zero. Never ever. Not once. And I hate to get all class-conscious here, but the kind of guy who is going to buy a gun like this is NOT the kind of guy who gets jollies by holding up people.

    Now I'm told Sixty Minutes was going to air special memos from 1983 showing that these guns are extra-specially dangerous, but CBS has taken Bill Burkett off their speed dial. So sadly, we're left with the facts. And it's not like we're seeing violent crime escalate. Barrett started making these things in 1983. If the Brady Bunch's theory is correct, after 22 years these things would be flooding the streets and we'd be hearing daily reports about long range shots killing people in their cars. But I bet very few people reading this have ever seen one live and in person. As for the crime wave...fuhgeddaboutit. Violent crime has been on the decline for a long time now, despite the dire warnings of doom about the so-called Assault Weapons Ban expiring. And this decline is despite (John Lott would say "because of") increased gun ownership. Bottom line...this is not a weapon that has ever figured into violent crime, nor will it
    ever figure into it.

    But it's damned fun to shoot. And maybe that's exactly what the Libs have against it. Instead of having fun blowing things up, I guess instead we're all supposed to sit at Manhattan tea parties and pretend Christo is an artistic genius.

    I'm sorry...who were the egalitarian ones again?!?

    Update: Speak of the devil...John Lott offers up some thoughts on the Sixty Minutes story and on the .50 BMG in general.

    Posted by John Tant at 07:42 AM | Comments (0)

     

    January 13, 2005

    Fox Caves to Criticism that 24's Terrorists are (Gasp!) Muslims

    [Posted by ]

    To my shock, I just learned that Fox's hit show, 24, has cast Muslims as the terrorists in its latest installment. I mean, how in the world do they come up with this stuff? Muslims? What are the writers smoking?

    Thankfully, Fox will provide stations with TV spots that portray Muslims in a positive light. After all, not all Muslims are terrorists. Although, as Abdel Rahman al-Rashed so famously said:

    It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims.

    I can't tell you how pissed off I am that Fox caved to CAIR on this one. The sad fact of the matter is that America is at war with Muslim terrorists. The 19 men who hijacked planes on 9/11 were all Muslims. The terrorists of Beslan were Muslims. I could go on and on. These days, making terrorists in a work of fiction anything but Muslim smacks of pandering.

    CAIR is, of course, worried about the image of Muslims in America:

    "When average Americans don't have any personal interaction with Muslims, whether it be at work or at school, they base their perception of Islam and Muslims from what they see on TV," she added. "We did bring that to Fox's attention."

    If "average" Americans have a negative perception of Muslims perhaps it's because what they saw on TV was two hijacked jets crashing into buildings and thousands of people being murdered. I might be going out on a limb here, but if there's a negative perception of Muslims maybe that has a little something to do with it.

    One thing I wonder about it is whether American Muslims do suffer from severely negative perceptions. I think Americans are (rightly in my opinion) suspicious of Muslim, male non-citizens, but does that feeling extend to our Muslim citizens? I remember reading a few scattered cases of vandalism against Muslims after 9/11, but I also remember reading a story about how people were specifically going to, for example, Pakistani restaurants, to show support for the American Muslim community. In any case, even after 3,000 people died, it wasn't like what's happened in Holland since Theo van Gogh's murder.

    I think Americans are far more fair-minded than we're given credit for. We understand that not all terrorists are Muslims. We don't need TV spots to explain that. However, we also understand that most terrorists are Muslims. Even if fiction writers are pressured to sweep that fact under the rug, it won't make the reality of it go away.

    Posted by at 08:40 PM | Comments (1)

     

    Wacky Prince Harry

    [Posted by ]

    Prince Harry Windsor will undoubtably be roundly panned for posing for this picture:

    But really, can we expect more from a rich, but not bright, 20-year old son of an unstable narcissist and an elitist prig? Rather than rip on Harry, perhaps we should praise him for reestablishing the royal family's fine tradition of toadying to the Germans. Harry's great uncle, Edward Windsor, was romantically portrayed as the man who gave up his throne for the love of a woman, but the truth is a little more nasty:

    Over the next two years Edward travelled extensively in Europe including visiting Nazi Germany where he met Adolf Hitler. When France was occupied by the German Army in 1940, Edward and his wife moved to Spain. In July 1940 the couple went to live in Portugal. Soon afterwards the Federal Bureau of Investigation received information that the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were being used by the Nazis to obtain secrets about the Allies. On 13th September 1940, an FBI officer sent a memo to J. Edgar Hoover that: "An agent has established conclusively that the Duchess of Windsor has recently been in touch with Joachim von Ribbentrop and was maintaining constant contact and communication with him. Because of their high official position, the duchess was obtaining a variety of information concerning the British and French official activities that she was passing on to the Germans."

    The British government also discovered that Adolf Hitler planned to make Edward the puppet king of the United Kingdom if the Germans won the Second World War. When he heard the news, Winston Churchill, the British prime minister, arranged for the Duke of Windsor to leave Europe and become the governor of the Bahamas.

    So, way to go Harry. Thanks for giving the British people yet another reason to question the wisdom of a hereditary monarchy.

    Update: To be fair, I should point out that much of the current popularity of the British monarchy stems from the behavior of many in the Royal Family during WWII. I think King George and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mum) were beloved by the British people for staying in London during the Blitz. I know that the current Queen was in some kind of service during the war, and the Duke of Kent was, I believe, a pilot in the RAF when he was killed. So, like so many other Brits, they showed a lot of character back then. Edward Windsor just wasn't one of them and maybe Harry is a throwback to that kind of royal.

    Posted by at 07:30 AM | Comments (13)

     

    January 11, 2005

    Mapes Doesn't Get It

    [Posted by John Tant]

    I recently came across a statement from Mary Mapes concerning her well-deserved firing (hat tip: Little Green Footballs). I don't have the time to fisk the whole thing, and even if I had the time I doubt there is enough Zofran in the world to keep me on balance while I do it. But I would like to highlight one part of her incredibly self-serving rant, with my emphasis added:

    Much has been made about the fact that these documents are photocopies and therefore cannot be trusted, but decades of investigative reporting have relied on just such copies of memos, documents and notes. In vetting these documents, we did not have ink to analyze, original signatures to compare, or paper to date. We did have context and corroboration and believed, as many journalists have before and after our story, that authenticity is not limited to original documents. Photocopies are often a basis for verified stories.

    Mary, Mary, Mary...I think you've been reading too much Corey Pein. Exposing the documents as fake didn't rely on ink analysis, or looking at original signatures, or dating the paper on which the thing was printed. What made it laughably easy (and exposed your whole little effort as extremely childish) was the simple fact that in the space of five minutes, both Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs and Joseph Newcomer were able to duplicate EXACTLY the memos in question, using only Microsoft Word with default settings. That's what made it such an amateurish forgery, and that's why you got caught.

    Using Mapes' logic, the picture below should be accepted as a true copy of the Mona Lisa, mainly because you don't have ink to analyze, signatures to compare, or paper to date...but you have context and corroboration with me telling you it's a copy:

    Obviously that is a fake, and a rather glaring one. If it was a photocopy you wouldn't need to look at the ink, or the signature, or the paper. You can tell just by looking at it. So it was with the memos.

    Now, Mapes is correct in one thing: photocopies are indeed often used as a basis for stories. But she has a rather casual, rather glaring skip in her logic chain, to wit: the problem with the memos wasn't that they were photocopies, but that they were so spectacularly fake that the fact that they were photocopies was rendered immediately irrelevant. These memos receive no credibility simply by virtue of them being photocopies, or more precisely the fact that other photocopies have been used in other stories.

    Further, as the story came out (and the CBS report made clear) the context and corroboration Mapes relied on was itself dependent on CBS staff telling those people the documents were real. That's not even that fine of a line to get tripped over, and that Mapes doesn't even acknowledge it speaks volumes. Her entire diatribe amounts to reiterating that the memos were "fake but accurate." Well, if that's the standard she wants to use to pursue a story, that's her choice.
    But she ought not be surprised, nor insult our intelligence us with faux-outrage, when her credibility takes a well deserved hit as a result.

    Posted by John Tant at 08:35 AM | Comments (1)

     

    January 10, 2005

    Randy Moss & Moongate

    [Posted by ]

    Update: Madison business gets back at Moss with billboards.

    While the lovely Rachel Lucas of Blue-Eyed Infidel may rate Brett Favre only slightly below Michael Moore in her hierarchy of hatred, she may have a point about Randy Moss. Sure, mooning the Lambeau Field crowd is classless and feigning taking a dump and wiping his ass on the goalpost is just gross, but it's not the end of the world.

    I hate Moss with the fire of a thousand suns. I hate the Viqueens even more. I can't decide whether I want them to lose by 70 points Sunday or if I want them to tease their fans into thinking they could finally win a Super Bowl, and then lose. But, all of that said, what Moss did to the Lambeau crowd isn't all that different from what the University of Wisconsin Marching Band did to him back in November:

    The Wisconsin marching band was on hand and jacked up the stakes when it dispatched an 18-person tuba brigade to the end zone, playing the only kind of music 18 tubas can.

    The kicker, though: Draped over each tuba's horn opening was a cloth, with a letter taped on to that cloth, and as the Badger tubas marched across the end zone to the delight of the Lambeau Lunatics, the letters spelled out: "W-H-E-R-E (space) Y-O-U (space) A-T (space) M-O-S-S?"

    Tremendous stuff.

    Randy Moss, injured and out of the game, dissed by band geeks! By tubas, no less!

    The cut to Moss in the ski cap, half-enraged, half-amused by the Tuba Diss was worth it all.

    Why is that funny and what Moss did unforgivable? I have no idea. I think they're both pretty funny. Moss is a jerk, but not because of what he did yesterday. He's a jerk because he quits on plays and quits on his team. Unfortunately for Packer fans, where he was at yesterday was in the endzone. A lot.

    I think sportswriters get all hot and bothered about things like this just to stir up controversy. I suspect it makes them feel like real reporters.

    Posted by at 11:45 AM | Comments (4)

     

    The Next Great Blue Hope?

    [Posted by John Tant]

    "In the Spring following a Presidential election, a young
    Virginian's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of gubernatorial
    politics."
    -Lord Alfred Tantyson.


    Earlier last week, John Behan made some very insightful observations about Virginia's contribution to national politics.

    First, a short primer is in order for those who aren't familiar with our fair commonwealth. Virginia technically is a very conservative state. I say technically because there's a contingent in Northern Virginia, near DC, which would elect Karl Marx given half a chance. However, the lower state tends to the deep, crimson red (and whatever comes after red...we have a fair share of voters in that area who thought Michael Badnarik was a reasonable candiate...). Northern Virginia also represents quite a bit of the money in the state, as well as a significant portion of the state's population. This has always been an interesting feature of Virginia politics, and actually tends to mirror the national Red v. Blue issues.

    Now, our governors are term limited to one four year term. That's right...they are almost immediately lame ducks, which in my opinion is the only thing that made Gov. Mark Warner's term bearable (more on that in a minute). So after their terms, there's a bit of a question as to what our fair governors do next. This is made more compelling by the fact that our gubernatorial elections take place in odd years...and it being 2005, we're looking at one this year. This means Governor Warner is leaving office just in time to start a campaign for a federal office...like Senator.

    Indeed, that's the traditional route for our ex governors (ex-Governor George Allen is now our junior Senator), although barring a Senate run our guys tend toward national party positions...former Governor Gilmore headed the Republican National Committee after his term, for example. But more compelling is the fact that, prior to winning election as our governor, Mark Warner mounted a failed challenge to Senator John Warner. I think it's plain the guy has national aspirations. So, as Senator Allen comes up for reelection in 2006, and with Gov. Warner leaving office in January of that year, that gives plenty of time to set up a Senate campaign for the ambitious Governor Warner.

    However, Behan doesn't think Warner will risk any of his political capital on that Senate race. That's a pretty shrewd observation, but I'm not sure Warner is necessarily going to skip to a Presidential race either. That isn't to say Behan's analysis isn't compelling. For one, assuming Warner has a Presidential run in mind for his future, will he want to spend six years in the Senate? Dovetailing with that, the track record of Senators running for President is none too bright.

    And then we have Warner's actual governing style. Consider, big picture, there's a Democratic party out there totally confused as to how they can win a Red state, and frankly quite desperate to do so. And here we have Warner, a Blue-To-The-Gills Dem who did just that...won in a Red state. Will that be too attractive for the Democrat leadership to pass up?

    Or is attractive even the right term? See, Warner won because he ran as a moderate conservative, not as a Democrat, and certainly not the kind of Democrat the national leadership has recently shown they want to get behind. And Warner has his own weaknesses that will be trumpeted at a national level. For example, Warner ran on an outright promise, repeated ad nauseum, that he wouldn't support a tax increase...and as soon as he was elected, began campaigning to raise taxes. He finally pushed a one billion dollar tax increase through our Assembly (with the help of, to my eternal shame, some Republicans in that body), and almost immediately after we learned that the state was going to post a rather large surplus for 2003 (and, in fact, has posted a nearly one billion dollar surplus for 2004, meaning the tax increase was absolutely unnecessary.). It's arguable as to whether or not Warner knew about the surplus when he was pushing for the tax increase, but that's not the main issue here. The issue is we have a guy with Clinton-like morals when it comes to telling the truth about his positions (positions on issues, that is...get your mind out of the gutter!).

    With that, is it reasonable for Warner to expect to get away with the same thing on a national level? For that matter, it's not entirely assured that he's going to get away with it in Virginia. Democrats looking for The Next Blue Hope should be advised that the best path to victory in a Red state is in being Red...and not in conning the voters into thinking the candidate is Red. But again, it's iffy as to
    whether Democrats are even interested in moderating their tone in the first place. Look at what happened when Gore lost...the party tilted even further to the Left. And now that Kerry is a goner, what was the Democrats' response? Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Barbara Boxer doing her best to sideline any chance Democrats have of being taken seriously in the near future by objecting to the Ohio Electoral Vote. Michael Moore being treated like The Little Prince (actually, I'd better make that the YOUNG prince...). This is not a party currently interested in the moderation Mark Warner claims to be offering. This is a party sinking further into the morass of partisanship and snarkiness, not one interested in the reform needed to win a national election.

    Frankly, Warner has a chance to win a Virginia Senate nomination. But for him to get a Presidential nomination would mean the Democratic party would need to stop on a dime and turn their bus around immediately from their headlong rush into the ash heap of history. And there's little evidence they are willing to do that. If anything...they're downshifting and stepping on the gas. For that reason, I think we'll see another Warner/Warner Senate race further down the road. Think about it. In the wake of an unnecessary one billion dollar tax increase imposed right as the Virginia economy was recovering, the next Governor will have to deal with the fallout. And just as the economy is starting to falter (if necessary, the VA Democrats will help talk it down), along comes Mark Warner as a tacit reminder of "better days," just as Senator John Warner is coming up for reelection. Gov. Warner can afford to wait a couple of years for
    that.

    But then, I'm the guy who was convinced Howard Dean would win the Democratic nomination...

    Posted by John Tant at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

     

    New Blog Contributor

    [Posted by ]

    James and I were sad to learn that John Tant was ending his great blog, The Crease. However, we're thrilled that John has agreed to become an occasional contributor to Dummocrats. We look forward to John's thoughtful commentary, especially on days like today when James and I are far too numb from the Packers defeat to even think straight.

    Please join us in welcoming John to the blog!

    Posted by at 09:25 AM | Comments (0)

     

    January 08, 2005

    Winter Art in Madison

    [Posted by ]

    While I'm an island of sanity surrounded by wacky Madison liberals, there are some great things about my neighborhood. In addition, to beautiful Lake Monona, my neck of the woods is full of parks, cool old houses decorated for every single holiday (just wait until St. Patrick's Day!), and funky art. I've been meaning to take a picture of my favorite piece of neighborhood art for awhile now. So here it is, in its winter glory.

    It's no Michaelangelo's David, but it's still pretty awesome. And really, can you ever beat four kids placing on a tree? I don't think so ;-)

    Winter really brings out some of the best of Madison. In a city where dogs are banned from parks, suddenly the frozen lakes become the biggest dog parks around. I can look out my windows any time during the day and see happy dogs, and skaters or skiers bounding by. Getting to work after the snow on Thursday was a pain in the ass, but once I was in the office, I noticed that someone had gone onto the large front lawn of the building and created a giant "F" out of dozens of snow angels. It was pretty spectacular from my vantage point.

    The whole attitude of the city seems different. Maybe it's just too cold or snowy to protest. Whatever the reason, it's making this winter season way more fun than last fall.

    Posted by at 03:37 PM | Comments (0)

     

    January 07, 2005

    Raising a City of Wimps

    [Posted by ]

    Madison got around 9 inches of snow Wednesday night/Thursday early AM. While that's a lot of snow, this is Wisconsin, and we're well equipped to deal with that. Most of the smaller towns around the city closed their schools Thursday, but Madison schools remained open. I expect Madison schoolchildren to be upset by that, but I don't expect their parents to whine. But, this being Madison, they do:

    Unlike most Madison students, Andrew and David Alberts had a snow day Thursday along with students in Verona, Middleton and other neighboring districts.

    Their mother, Pamela Stoika, decided not to send Andrew, 11, and David, 8, to Lowell Elementary, about four blocks from their home.

    It was her way of protesting the district's decision to remain open despite snow- covered streets that she and others said jeopardized the safety of students as well as teachers and staff - many whom travel across town or from outside of Madison.

    Other parents, teachers and students also were upset that Madison schools were open after the city got up to 9 inches of snow between Tuesday night and Thursday morning.

    "It's appalling," said Lucy Frembgen, a substitute physical education teacher who lives in Middleton and turned down a job Thursday at Cherokee Middle School because many streets had not been plowed.

    "It was pretty treacherous," said Frembgen, who also experienced "terrible" conditions traveling to and from Sennett Middle School on Wednesday.

    You know what's actually appalling? A mother who won't send her kids four blocks to school?

    Of course, these kids weren't the only ones taking the day off. 318 Madison teachers were absent from school yesterday. I'll accept the excuses that some of them were gone because they live outside Madison and their own children were home from school. But what about the rest of these teachers and what about the, for example, 25 to 30 percent of Chavez Elementary's 570 students who were also absent?

    Thursday morning, I got up, shoveled my car out and drove carefully across town to work. All of my co-workers managed to show up. Around the area, thousands of other people also went to work. Why are students and teachers so special? If the rest of us can get to our jobs and go on as normal, why can't they suck it up and get to school?

    The Madison School District is "noted for staying open, even when surrounding districts and other schools in the city close. The last time the district closed schools was Feb. 8, 2001, said Syke, who attributed that closing to icy roads." They should be commended for attempting to set a good example for the kids. When things get rough, you don't sit at home and cry like a baby, you tough it out.

    I think too many Madisonians would be content to raise a city of wimps who have no idea how to deal with adversity. God help us all if they succeed.

    Posted by at 04:42 PM | Comments (4)

     

    John Kerry.com - FSBO

    [Posted by james]

    Seen at fark.com, created by user GraphicAddiction:

    Posted by jkhat at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)

     

    WI State Senator Saves Us From 'Dixie'

    [Posted by ]

    With all the troubles in the world, it's good to see that Wisconsin legislators and the media have their priorities in order. At yesterday's state Senate swearing in ceremony, state Senator Spencer Coggs objected to:

    the playing of the Southern anthem "Dixie" during ceremonies marking the swearing in of the new state Senate.

    The Richland Center High School band, which had been invited to perform by Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, innocently included the song in a trilogy of tunes it played.To his immense credit, Schultz apologized - noting that it was not appropriate to play a song associated with slavery in the Capitol of a state that so passionately opposed the sin of human bondage.

    I've never heard of such a strenuous objection to "Dixie" before, but apparently the song has been under fire for awhile.

    "There're too many symbols attached to that song and you can't strip them away," said Wright, a professor of music and black studies at the College of Wooster in Ohio. "It's a symbol of the old South. I don't know how you can clean up 'Dixie."'

    It would take quite a rehabilitation.

    Originally written by an Ohioan in 1859 for use in a traveling minstrel show, it became the anthem of the Confederacy and was played at the inaugural of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. In the years since, it has assumed a life of its own, associated with stereotypes of a conservative, racist white South.

    "In all honesty, music is not independent of its culture," said Horace Clarence Boyer, a black professor of music theory and African-American music at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. "The white people took it and used it to mean something."

    Some songs have a broad acceptance, Boyer said, but "Dixie" isn't one of them.

    "You don't have to explain why you're playing 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' You don't have to explain why you're playing 'America the Beautiful.' It has to be explained why somebody is playing 'Dixie' -- unless it's the Ku Klux Klan."

    It's just a song. I can't believe there are actually people who want to essentially ban the song from public performances because it was the unofficial anthem of the Confederacy. It's not like "Dixie" disappeared for 140 years and was just recently been rediscovered. In fact, it's been the unofficial anthem of the South all that time. And not just the "conservative, racist white South" either. The whole damn South.

    I think that the claim that "Dixie" is an evil, racist anthem is really just another way of saying that everything south of the Mason-Dixon line is not only Bush red, but a racist hellhole as well. It implys that there is no southern culture except for slavery and its legacy.

    Posted by at 11:25 AM | Comments (4)

     

    January 05, 2005

    All Hail James

    [Posted by ]

    I'd like to offer my congrats to James, who kicked my ass in the annual Dummocrats College Bowl Pick 'Em.

    James picked 19 out of 28 (or over 67%) of the bowl games correctly. This included a perfect 6 for 6 record on New Year's Day. I was only able to get 15 games right. Interestingly, our random coin toss got exactly half of the games right, so at least I beat that.

    Come March, we'll make some NCAA basketball picks, so stay tuned to see if we can continue to thump the coin!

    Posted by at 10:50 AM | Comments (1)

     

    January 04, 2005

    Kofi Annan's Natural Successor

    [Posted by ]

    Although Kofi Annan apparently won't be resigning from the UN, the Oil-for-Food scandal isn't going away anytime soon. And, therefore, speculation about his successor will continue. While some have suggested that former President Bill Clinton would be a natural for the job, I have a better suggestion. A suggestion that assures the UN of getting the services of the kind of American they deserve.

    I believe that Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Randy Moss should be the next Secretary General of the United Nations. He's the ideal man to carry on Annan's legacy.

    Why Moss? He's a natural turncoat who will have no problem leaving his loyalties to America at the UN Headquarters door. Much like the UN dismisses and demonizes the United States, Moss has continually criticized and undermined his Viking teammates through his career. Doing the same to America as Secretary General shouldn't be much of a stretch.

    Additionally, Moss, like the UN, is a picky performer. He has no problem playing hard only when he wants to. This stunning ability to know when to get in the game, when to sit on the sidelines and when to just kinda pretend that you're doing something would serve the UN well. Who better than Moss to help decide, and justify, what world conflicts the UN deems worthy of intervention? Who better than Moss to make it look like the UN is doing a world of good, when they're really doing a world of sitting around and "assessing the situation".

    The UN's Secretary General also needs to know when to cut and run. They need to know that when the going gets tough (as in Baghdad), the UN gets going (on the next plane out). This is where Moss can truly excel with the full force of the UN behind him. This weekend, Moss even helped coin a new phrase, "taking a Randy". With the Vikings close to yet another loss, Moss headed for the locker room before the game was even over. Rest assured that under Moss, when the going gets tough, the UN will be taking a Randy.

    So the next time the University of Wisconsin Band's tuba section asks "Where you at Moss?", maybe the answer will be that he's on his way to New York to help save the world.

    Thank God for Randy Moss.

    Posted by at 10:21 PM | Comments (0)

     

    January 03, 2005

    20 Fabulous Red County Destinations

    [Posted by ]

    In the immortal words of Bono, "nothing changes on New Year's Day". Certainly, 2005 hasn't brought on a new era of good feelings for Republicans to Madison's Capital Times. Not only do they gleefully continue their Bush bashing, but they also continue their annoying habit of removing content from their site within a week or so. (Because of that, you can click on "read more" below to view the Cap Times article referenced in this post.)

    This time, in addition to the usual Bush bashing, author Rob Zaleski promotes a new wave of red state ripping:

    That in order to survive - or, at least, to stave off serious depression - over the next four years, those of us who aren't into NASCAR and don't wear our patriotism or our religion on our sleeves might have to devise some creative strategies.

    Unfortunately, the most appealing strategy of all - seceding from the red states - seems far too complicated. So I believe we should heed the advice of people like J.G. Landsman of Madison, who suggested in a recent letter to The Capital Times that those of us who voted for John Kerry boycott the red states and spend our tourist dollars elsewhere.

    Except I think it would be a lot more fair to boycott only red counties, not entire states - except in the cases of Utah, Nebraska and Oklahoma, which were the only states in which every single county voted for Bush.

    And I don't mean just boycotting red counties in red states. I'm talking about boycotting the pro-Bush counties in blue states as well - including, of course, Wisconsin.

    Fortunately for like-minded liberals, Zaleski doesn't think this should be too hard since "if you look at the election results nationwide, you quickly realize that most of the fun places to visit - the ones that really matter - supported Kerry. Even in red states."

    While it'd be fun to dwell on Zaleski's statement that those who voted for Bush "don't matter" (wait, aren't the Dems the ones always bitching about how "every vote counts"?), I thought I'd provide our readers with a list of fantastic red county destinations. These are fun places to visit, that won't, apparently, be hosting some of our favorite liberals anytime soon.

    1. Hot Springs National Park in, yes, Arkansas (sorry, Bill)

    2. Palm Springs, California. So, Mr. Zaleski, I better not see you when I'm here next month!

    3. San Diego, California. I don't know about you, but I think the perfect weather, beautiful beaches, Coronado, the Zoo and more sounds like fun.

    4. La Jolla, California. Simply one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.

    5. Del Mar, California. Where the surf meets the turf.

    6. The OC, bitch! That's right, Orange County, California went for Bush.

    7. While Denver & Boulder may be blue, the purple mountain majesty of Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak are Bush country.

    8. Virtually the entire Gulf coast of Florida is "red". That includes places like Fort Myers, Naples & Sanibel.

    9. Disney fans can rest easy, as Orlando's home of Orange County went for Bush.

    10. The "Playground of the Northwest" in spectacular Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

    11. Kentucky's famous horse farms may have blue grass, but they too voted "red".

    12. The Jersey shore in Monmouth & Ocean counties.

    13. Saratoga Springs, New York: the best racing in the world each August, great natural beauty and famous spas and grand old hotels.

    14. Crater Lake in Oregon, not to mention the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, which is odd, because I know they have great windsurfing there. ;-)

    15. The entire coast of South Carolina, from Myrtle Beach down to Hilton Head Island.

    16. The Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota.

    17. Tube down the Guadalope River in New Braunfels, Texas.

    18. Have the best fajitas in the world at Lupe Tortilla in Houston. Mmm...Lupe Tortilla...mmm.

    19. Wanna ski on Utah's Olympic-worthy slopes or bike in Moab? Then you're going to Bush country, my friend.

    20. John Kerry called it "Lambert Field", the rest of us know it as Lambeau Field, and when you make a pilgrimage to it, you're venturing into not just green and gold country, but good 'ole Bush red country too. And, head up the pennisula a bit and you can also stay in Wisconsin's famed Door County. Not bad for place that "doesn't matter", huh?

    Unlike some silly folks, I'm certainly not discouraging anyone from visiting so called "blue" counties. America is a amazing country and it's full of fun places to visit and cities and counties that matter a whole lot, no matter who they voted for.

    Rob Zaleski: Look for the blue in red states

    By Rob Zaleski
    January 3, 2005

    Have faith, they told us.

    Give the guy a chance.

    OK, so maybe he was a little cavalier at times, a little too smug. Maybe he acted like he didn't care what anyone on the other side of the political spectrum thought. Maybe he's even a big reason the country's so divided.

    But now that he's been re-elected, just watch how he'll bring us together.

    That pretty much sums up what George W's supporters said in the days immediately after his startling victory on Nov. 2. (Startling in that this undoubtedly was the first time in our history that a president was re-elected without a single significant accomplishment to his credit.)

    Well, it's been two months since that gloomy November day, and it appears that our worst suspicions were true. There apparently will be no reaching out to the other side, no olive branches of any kind. No gestures of the sort that John Kennedy made in 1960, after narrowly defeating Richard Nixon, when he appointed two Republicans - Douglas Dillon, as secretary of the treasury, and Robert McNamara, as secretary of defense - to his Cabinet.

    In fact, this president's behavior suggests he has no intention whatsoever of placating those who dared oppose him.

    So what am I suggesting?

    That in order to survive - or, at least, to stave off serious depression - over the next four years, those of us who aren't into NASCAR and don't wear our patriotism or our religion on our sleeves might have to devise some creative strategies.

    Unfortunately, the most appealing strategy of all - seceding from the red states - seems far too complicated. So I believe we should heed the advice of people like J.G. Landsman of Madison, who suggested in a recent letter to The Capital Times that those of us who voted for John Kerry boycott the red states and spend our tourist dollars elsewhere.

    Except I think it would be a lot more fair to boycott only red counties, not entire states - except in the cases of Utah, Nebraska and Oklahoma, which were the only states in which every single county voted for Bush.

    And I don't mean just boycotting red counties in red states. I'm talking about boycotting the pro-Bush counties in blue states as well - including, of course, Wisconsin.

    Yes, that means avoiding some very nice places, such as Waukesha and Washington counties, both of which, as expected, went heavily for the president.

    But keep in mind there were 26 Wisconsin counties that supported Kerry - contrary to popular belief, it wasn't just Dane and Milwaukee counties - including Bayfield County, the so-called gateway to the Apostle Islands and one of the most scenic spots in the Midwest.

    In fact, if you look at the election results nationwide, you quickly realize that most of the fun places to visit - the ones that really matter - supported Kerry. Even in red states.

    For instance, while much of Florida went for Bush, Miami-Dade and Broward counties - where Miami and Fort Lauderdale are located - went for Kerry. So did Monroe County, which happens to include Jimmy Buffet-land, aka Key West.

    Similarly, Louisiana went for Bush in a big way - that is, the parts of the state known mainly for their swamps, mosquitoes and deep-fried frog legs. Orleans Parish on the other hand - home of New Orleans, one of the great party towns in the universe - went heavily for Kerry.

    Colorado? A key battleground state that opted for Bush. But that doesn't mean we should avoid Denver and Boulder counties, both Kerry strongholds.

    New Mexico? Bush squeaked by here, too. But Santa Fe and Taos counties went for Kerry.

    So did Pima (Tucson) and Coconino (Flagstaff) counties in Arizona. And so did Clark County (Las Vegas) in Nevada.

    Believe it or not, there were even counties in the arch-conservative West that preferred Kerry - such as Missoula County in Montana and Teton County in Wyoming, which, it so happens, is the home of Dick Cheney. (Which is a commentary in itself.)

    So, as I say, upon closer examination, things aren't quite as bleak as they first appeared - especially for those of us who like to travel.

    That's not to say it's going to be easy and that there won't be some pain.

    For example, it's going to hurt a bit knowing that I won't be golfing at my favorite course, Peninsula State Park, any time soon - seeing as how Bush carried Door County by 543 votes.

    On the other hand, I hear there's great wind-surfing off the coast of Bayfield. Heck, I may even have a latte.

    E-mail: rzaleski@madison.com

    Published: 10:15 AM 1/3/05

    Posted by at 09:08 PM | Comments (5)

     

    January 02, 2005

    Is Linking Enough?

    [Posted by ]

    In the comment section, Dave, takes issue with my post on the Reggie White flag flap. Dave says:

    I think you are an irresponsible journalist wanna-be with poor writing skills at best. I read you source articles before formulating an opinion. For your commentary, you took the most incinerary and divisive portions of the article and then ended with you own shallow, race baiting, and demeaning conclusion about one of the greatest men and NFL players of our time. As the source article mentions (and what you failed to include), was then this was the third time, since July that the flags had been lowered in tribute to a deceased member of the Packer organization. All while the war was still raging in Iraq.

    I take issue with much of what Dave claims. The Christine Brennan article that prompted the post was all about spreading a rumor that veteran's protests were racially motivated. I couldn't "take the most incinerary and divisive portion of the article" because the whole point of it was to be incinerary and divisive.

    On the other hand, I think Dave's comments do bring up an interesting question. Does just linking to an article "cover" you? Can you post an excerpt to an article as long as you link to the entire source piece, or is it an all or nothing proposition? What responsibilities do bloggers have when they present their source material?

    Personally, I think bloggers can quote whatever they want from a source as long as they do link to that source. As a rule, I don't like to simply repost someone else's article. I think it's redundant and the ability to just link instead is one of the beauties of the blog.

    Is this irresponsible journalism? I don't think so. Compare a blogger who quotes the most interesting parts of an article, links to the whole thing and comments on it to a traditional journalist. The traditional journalist reveals their sources to their editor, but not to the public. In the post Dave complained about, for example, the Christine Brennan article refers to a radio callers who questioned whether protests about having the flag at half-staff for White were racially motivated. Brennan doesn't provide the reader with any way to get more information about these calls. Were these callers from the Green Bay area (where they might have a little knowledge about the issue) or were they random blowhards from Anywhere, USA? Brennan must know, but she doesn't share it with us.

    Or, as another example, Maureen Dowd was rightly criticized for using ellipses to distort the meaning of President Bush's words. As readers had no immediate way of finding out what the President actually said, she was indeed getting away with something. Bloggers don't have that luxury.

    Journalists and bloggers aren't the same. The fact that so many people seem to think that bloggers are just journalists in pajamas is both a tribute to those bloggers and an indictment of traditional journalists. While RatherGate is the most obvious example, I also remember the fake booing for President Clinton's health that the AP reported. If the line between bloggers and journalists has blurred, it's because too many journalists aren't doing their jobs and it was left to bloggers to find the truth of the matter.

    Posted by at 09:15 PM | Comments (2)

     

    Blogs I'd Like To Read

    [Posted by ]

    With 2005 upon us, I've been thinking about what kinds of new bloggers (or, at least, new to me) I'd like to read.

    • While I enjoy reading the exploits of both law students and professors, I want something more. If Richard Posner can blog, then why can't we have an actual SCOTUS group blog? It doesn't all have to be law-related either. I'd be happy to read about their adventures on the DC cocktail party circuit.
    • I can't believe that there isn't a network sitcom about the employees of a Starbucks-like coffee shop. Likewise, why isn't there a good blog written by a coffee shop employee? Every day, they could eavesdrop on "deep" coffeehouse conversations and report back to us. Sometimes those conversations would be profound, but more often they'd probably be embarrassing. In any case, I'd read it.
    • I also want to read a history blog. The author could focus on forgotten and obscure history, it could have a political slant like Thomas Woods' "Politically Incorrect Guide to American History", or a take off on the What If? series, reviews of history books, or dabble in a little of everything. I think it'd be just as interesting as reading about current events.

    Maybe blogs like these are already out there. If so, hopefully someone will let me know (hint-comments). What other kinds of bloggers are you interested in?

    Posted by at 07:27 PM | Comments (0)

     


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