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  • July 31, 2005

    The Great Brew Debate

    [Posted by ]

    At the end of a long summer weekend, I think nothing's better than sitting out by the lake with the sun, a breeze and a nice cold beer. Being from Wisconsin, it's actually required that I like beer. Seriously. Take a look at the State Constitution sometime. Okay, so maybe I'm making that up, but just give our new activist Court a little more time and we'll see what happens.

    Anyway, as a Wisconsinite, I have access to a nearly unparalleled array of beers (at least for an American). So what do I choose to quaff? It all depends on the season and the reason, but in general, these are my top 11 beers:

    11. Rolling Rock: this Pennsylvania beer is perfect for a very hot summer day. It's extremely light and there's just not much too it. Much like music, you don't want a dark, complicated beer in the summer. You want swill. And this is swill and it's best.

    10. Sam Adams: is a good standby beer. It's unlikely you'll be able to find many of my other choices at just any old bar in America. But, most places will have Sam Adams. It's a solid, middle-of-the-road, accessible brew.

    9. Miller High Life: Picture this. It's a gorgeous fall day and you've just come out of your college's football stadium after another glorious victory. You want to celebrate a little bit longer, so you head to a nearby beer garden. The crowd is pumped, the music is rockin' and you happily drink Miller High Life. In a can. For some reason High Life is world's better than Miller Lite, Miller Genuine Draft or any of the godawful Bud products.

    8. Blue Moon: Lots of people who don't like beer complain that it tastes "skunky". Of course, they assume that that's a negative. Sometimes, as with Blue Moon, the skunkiness works. I like my Blue Moons with an orange slice (for whatever reason, I'm a big fan of beer with fruit: gimme Blue Moons w/oranges, Corona w/limes and a whole slew of beers w/lemons) to slightly temper that skunkiness. To me, Blue Moon is a spring or early summer beer. It's not that light, but it's a step in the right direction from heavier, darker beers.

    7. Delirium Tremens: is my hipster's beer. Brewed in Belgium, it packs a punch with a 9% alcohol percentage. As the website says, this beer really does give you a nice glowy feeling. It's definitely something you sip, not chug, and it's something you don't drink during the day.

    6. Sprecher Special Amber: In general, I'm not a huge fan of red beers, but I'll make an exception for this one. Sprecher Amber comes in extra big bottles and it doesn't have the almost acid-like taste of some other red beers. It's much smoother and more complex. This is a good fall beer for when you want your brew to warm your soul and your toes.

    5. Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss: Ah, Leinies, how I love you. Honey Weiss is a great beer for people who don't like beer. It's a little sweeter and goes down a little easier, than most beers. It tastes great from the very first sip. Although it's now a year-round brew, Honey Weiss is best sipped when the weather's a little warm. I must give you a warning, however. This beer goes down so easy that you might very well find yourself drunk as a skunk without realizing it. Beware.

    4. Oldenburg Raspberry Wheat: This is an almost mythical beer for me now. As far as I know, the Oldenburg Brewery, which was located in northern Kentucky, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, no longer exists. So, that means I can never enjoy another bottle of this beer again. That sucks. Most berry beers taste good at first, but then have a very nasty aftertaste. Not this one. This beer was sweet and smooth all the way down the bottle. God, I miss it. I'm secretly hoping that someone is going to tell me it still does exist.

    3. Point White Biere: I'm sure one of my family members will make a comment wondering why plain 'ole Point Beer isn't good enough for me. Well, the sad truth is that regular Point Beer sucks. Yes, it's my local beer and I have fond feelings toward the beer, in theory. In practice, however, it's a challenge for me to finish a bottle of Point. However, give me one of their White Bieres and it all changes. Somehow, the little Point Brewery has managed to produce an almost perfect wheaty beer with just a hint of orange. This should be another summer beer, but it's just too damn good to only drink 3 months out of the year.

    2. Guinness: I've noticed that most of the beers on my list are wheaty, fruity beers. But, in truth, I enjoy a good dark beer just a much. But when I want a dark beer, I almost always just want a Guinness. Few things are better than sipping a creamy, caramely Guinness in a dark pub on a cold afternoon.

    1. Great Dane Crop Circle Wheat: Unfortunately for most of you, you can only get this beer at the Great Dane Brew Pub in Madison and at a few select bars and restaurants throughout the state. The Great Dane has a beautiful little outdoor beer garden lined with bushes filled with twinkling lights. Few things are finer than drinking this lemony, spicy German wheat beer under the lights and stars of a perfect Wisconsin summer night.

    Those are my top 11 beers. I want to hear what other people think as I'm always up for trying some new brew (that is true). Sorry, just had to get the Danny Kaye reference in there.

    Posted by at 06:16 PM | Comments (1)


    Diversity on the Supreme Court

    [Posted by ]

    Stuart Taylor, Jr. has an article in the latest issue of The Atlantic where he tries to prove that today's justices have a "tenuous grasp of how the real world works" by asking these questions:

    • How many justices have ever held elected office?
    • How many have previously served at the highest levels of the executive branch of government?
    • How many have argued big-time commercial lawsuits within the past thirty-five years?
    • How many have ever been either criminal defense lawyers or trial prosecutors?
    • How many have presided over even a single criminal or civil trial?

    For almost all of these questions, the answer is zero. David Souter was a prosecutor and trial judge earlier in his career, but the rest of the Court has no such experience.

    Taylor does a good job of showing how the lack of that kind of experience in the legal trenches clearly affects the Court's assumptions and rulings. But, his article really made me think of something else completely and that's the whole concept of "diversity".

    Many people were certain that President Bush would choose a woman to replace Sandra Day O'Connor because, somehow, her seat on the bench had become the "woman's seat", much like Clarence Thomas occupies the "black seat".

    That's how too many people think about diversity these days. Diversity is nothing more than a gender and racial quota system: out of nine people on the Court, 5 should be women, you need a black person, an Hispanic person, a Jew, a Catholic and maybe even an Asian and then some whiteys. Then you're all set. Then the Court will "look like America". Except that even then, chances are that all of these people went to one of four law schools (counting John Roberts, six justices on the current Court graduated from Harvard Law School and one each from Northwestern, Yale & Stanford), clerked at the Supreme Court and they were all on the Court of Appeals before their appointment. Yep, that's diversity, and the Court isn't the only place people think like this.

    Instead of worrying about about nothing more than race and gender, maybe we, as a society, should be more concerned about encouraging diversity of experience in our organizations. Would someone (male or female, black, white or Hispanic or Asian it doesn't matter) with a strong background in litigation or criminal law be more of an asset to SCOTUS than just any 'ole woman or minority or ideologue? Probably. Will those kind of people get on the Court? Probably not.

    Posted by at 09:54 AM | Comments (2)


    July 29, 2005

    Silly Bumper Sticker of the Day

    [Posted by ]

    As some of you may have figured out by now, I kind of have a thing about bumper stickers. I love 'em. And sometimes I love to hate 'em. I just found a new one to mock today:

    There is no equality as long as a woman feels unsafe

    Now I'm all for equality of opportunity. That's the dream America was built on. But that's too often twisted into the European version of equality of outcome. Now, apparently, even that's not enough. We all have to feel the same way too.

    Someone please explain to me how a government, or even a society, can make sure that all its citizens feel safe. It's impossible. At some point people have to take responsibility not only for their own actions, but for their feelings too. If you don't feel safe, well sometimes that's just your own problem. You're offended? Maybe you're too sensitive.

    That's the flip side of freedom, baby. And let me tell ya, freedom ain't no bumper sticker utopia.

    Posted by at 03:31 PM | Comments (4)


    July 28, 2005

    Ask Not What Your Government Shouldn't Do For You - They Should Do Everything

    [Posted by ]

    While Madison doesn't have naked protestors (yet), we do have some of the nuttiest newspaper editorials you'll find anywhere in America.

    Yesterday's Capital Times, had an editorial by Mary Conroy on long-term unemployment. Of course, long-term unemployment is all Bush's fault:

    What can we do? We can write to Congress. The war in Iraq and tax cuts for the wealthy take much-needed money that could address unemployment. Trade agreements such as CAFTA and cuts in funds for education and social services exacerbate the problem. Proposed cuts in Social Security and other pension plans will bring back poverty to those over 55 -- poverty thought eradicated during the Johnson administration.

    We can also ask our representatives to permanently extend unemployment benefits and retraining options. Instead of basing benefit extensions on the unemployment rate, Congress should focus on the total unemployment picture, including long-term unemployment.

    Rather than making unemployed people pay for health insurance or go without it, the government should pick up the tab or provide national health insurance. That goes for people's food, clothing and shelter as well.

    While a lot of this is the same old same old: Iraq, "tax cuts for the wealthy" and scary talk about old folks living on cat food, that last sentence is a doozy. Not only is the author advocating national health insurance (of course), but apparently she's also asking for national food, clothing and housing as well.

    What could possibly be the incentive for someone to find a job if the government is willing to fulfill all their needs if they don't have one? Of course, maybe Conroy just thinks everyone should be taken care of by Uncle Sam. Either way, it's editorials like these that make me realize that I'm not exaggerating when I call the paper the Communist Times. Berkley has breasts, but Madison still has more than its share of moonbats.

    Posted by at 10:13 PM | Comments (4)


    Some Things Never Change

    [Posted by ]

    Another day here in Madison. Another protest.

    I kind of want to make my own sign with an outline of the Twin Towers, or of Nick Berg flanked by his murderers or of the London Tube and stand across the sidewalk from them with a sign that says "Stop Terrorism Now!"

    Oh, and sadly, they were giving away lemonade, not Kool Aid.

    Posted by at 02:03 PM | Comments (3)


    A Look Back at the Tour de France & A Look Forward into the Future of Cycling

    [Posted by BVBigBro]

    Sorry to be a few days late, but I’ve been enjoying the pleasures of eastern Tennessee for the last few days. I should have taken my road bike. There are lots of hills, and lots of good pavement, but I digress. The Tour is finally over and Lance Armstrong rode away with a seventh win. In truth, this one was a yawner; easily the most boring Tour of the last couple of decades. The last half of the tour was animated only by Michael Rasmussen’s spectacular collapse in the final time trial, and Vinokourov going all out any time he felt good and getting a well deserved stage win in Paris. The real story now is what has Armstrong done for the Tour and for cycling, and what does the future hold.

    Armstrong and the Postal / Discovery team have probably changed the Tour forever, and that is both good and bad. The good is that the quality of the riders and bicycling equipment is better than ever. The bikes are unbelievably light, strong and stiff. The riders all have two way radios, and the training has become very scientific. The bad is that that hasn’t translated into a better race. Too often now, the race is completely predictable, with the riders knowing the status of every other rider in the race in real time. Gone is the day when the riders had to decide for themselves how hard to ride and when to chase and attack. Gone also is the element of surprise. What we have instead is a bunch of stages with one or two teams riding a real hard tempo to try and tire people out for their team leader, and then a brief acceleration at the very end of the stage to see who’s tired. This type of racing has been highly successful for Postal / Discovery, but it leaves little drama, and without drama, the TV coverage will eventually cease. Look for the Tour to make some changes in the next few years, like possibly eliminating the radios, shortening some stages, and maybe mixing up the race by having some mountain stages at the start and end of the Tour instead of grouping them all in the middle.

    For American cycling, Armstrong has been a revelation. The mere fact of Armstrong winning the Tour is what got cycling on TV regularly, and started a resurgence in road cycling. Prior to Armstrong, the mountain bike had taken over in the late 80s and 90s and the road bike had become passé. Today, in addition to far more adults riding, I see kids riding small road bikes and that is something I never saw five years ago. While this is good, it remains to be seen if there will a drop now that Armstrong has retired. The next few years are likely to be lean ones for Americans in the big races, and especially in the Tour which constitutes about 99% of cycling coverage in the USA. In the long run, though, the future of American cycling is brighter because of Armstrong. Some of the kids that started riding because of Armstrong should develop into good riders, and with more kids riding, it is likely some of them will be better athletes that would otherwise have done something else. The real key will be grass roots racing to keep kids riding., and I wouldn’t be surprised if Armstrong becomes a promotional tool for domestic racing by just making appearances. It would be a huge boost for the next generation of racers.

    That brings me to my last point. Notice that I said those kids are athletes. It has suddenly become all the rage to debate whether or not Lance Armstrong is even an athlete, or alternately, to refer to him as an “endurance” athlete. As opposed to what? Should we now refer to Michael Jordan as a “ball bouncing” athlete? Is Joe Montana is now a “ball throwing” athlete? Have hockey and baseball players become “stick wielding” athletes? Don’t even get me started on golf. All you have to do is remember all the whining that took place on the PGA Tour when the possibility of a disabled golfer getting to ride in a cart reared its’ head. Evidently a slow walk of a couple of miles, spread out over several hours constitutes a physical exertion that can break down a professional golfer, excuse me, “metal club wielding” athlete, leaving him at the mercy of his disabled competition. Obviously pro cyclists are athletes. If you want an endurance athlete, go for one of the guys in the Race Across America. Those guys pedal across the country in a little over nine days, sleeping for maybe an hour a day. That’s an endurance athlete.

    So what’s left for cycling in 2005? There are still a couple of good one day events, the Classica San Sebastien and the World Championships are two, and then there is the Vuelta a Espana, the last of the three grand tours. he Vuelta will be the final chance at redemption for any riders or teams that have had bad years, but it looks like most of the Americans put all their eggs in the Tour de France basket, so don’t expect an American winner or to even hear of the results (I’ll put my money on Aitor Gonzalez. He won a couple of years ago and looks to be over the fat and slow phase he went through the last two years.) I’ll withhold my prediction for next year’s Tour for now, and I’ll be back again before next years spring classics (Paris – Roubaix is really the best race there is, and it’s only one day) for some more cycling talk.

    Click here for more Tour de France coverage

    Posted by BVBigBro at 08:25 AM | Comments (3)


    July 26, 2005

    Asleep At The Wheel?

    [Posted by ]

    I've seen this license plate before, and apparently it's in reference to the owner's dog, but seriously, who in the DMV missed this one? The standards for personalized plates state that:

    Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) may refuse to issue a personalized plate message which may be offensive to good taste or decency, is misleading, or conflicts with the issuance of any other license plates.

    Someone in the Wisconsin DMV is asleep at the wheel.

    Posted by at 10:42 PM | Comments (16)


    The Best Sports Story You Haven't Heard About

    [Posted by ]

    While I was happy that Lance Armstrong won his 7th Tour de France Sunday, the most satisfying result in the world of sports came last night at the World Swimming Championships in Montreal. There, American Brendan Hansen avenged his Olympic loss to Japan's Kosuke Kitajima in the 100 meter breastroke final.

    Why is this a big deal? Well last summer in Athens, Hansen came into the Olympics as the newly minted world record holder in each of the breastroke events. He lost the 100 meter final to Kitajima who proceeded to yell, scream and otherwise carry on obnoxiously in the lane next to him. Said Hansen at the time:

    "Let this get stuck in my head. Let me remember him screaming after that race, and remember what that felt like," Hansen said. "It’s important to let something like that fire you up and not bring you down for the next race."

    But Kitajima's obnoxiousness wasn't even the worst part. The worst part was that he blatantly cheated by making illegal dolphin kicks in the race. The officials didn't call him on it, so the US team couldn't protest the result. But last night, illegal kicks or not, Hansen spanked Kitajima.

    Unfortunately, that still doesn't make up for what happened in the Olympics. There's video evidence of Kitajima's cheating, but the US media never grabbed a hold of the story they way they did the Paul Hamm story. Many in the American media urged Hamm to give him gold medal away. But I didn't hear any of these people saying something similar to Kitajima.

    My theory is that the US media thinks of their own country as something of an Olympics bully. It'd be a little unseemly for the country with the most medals to demand even more. Their sense of justice only extends to smaller countries and/or cute athletes (see Sale and Pelletier). Unfortunately, that leaves athletes like Hansen out in the cold.

    Luckily, last night he was able to get his own measure of revenge. Actually, I shouldn't say "luckily". He did it all on his own.

    Posted by at 07:20 AM | Comments (0)


    July 25, 2005

    First Children - No Reasonable Offer Will Be Refused!

    [Posted by ]

    One of the more amusing stories I've read lately is the tale of a Kenyan man who's fallen head over heels for Chelsea Clinton and is offering 20 cattle and 40 goats for her hand in marriage. While I'm not the biggest fan of the Clintons, by all accounts they did well by Chelsea, as she seems to be a delightful young woman. As such, I think they could get much more for her. In fact, I think she's probably among the top five most valuable Presidential children. The whole story got me to thinking about what some of the other famous and infamous Presidential children might really be worth.

    13. Ron Reagan: once Ron Reagan stood up at the Democratic National Convention last summer, he truly became a traitor to his father's legacy. Now, of course Ron is his own man and he's entitled to his own opinions. But, the only reason anyone listens to those opinions is because of who his father is. He's using his father's good name to spout off about liberal causes his father would have wanted no part of. That's terrible. So terrible that I think the Reagans would consider paying someone to take him off their hands, not the other way around.

    12. Neil Bush: for the elder Bush's ne'er-do-well son, we think a game of Monopoly would be an acceptable offer. The Bush's probably wouldn't miss the potential embarassment caused by some of Neil's questionable business activities and I bet they'd enjoy Monopoly, a game they probably couldn't play in Neil's presence after his role in the S&L scandals.

    11. Amy Carter: as the rather homely, hippieish daughter of one of our most unpopular Presidents, I don't think Amy's worth all that much. In a homage to the movie Almost Famous, I'd suggest that $50 and a case of Billy Beer would be enough for her.

    10. Julie Nixon Eisenhower: you'd think she'd rank higher on this list, but I think she's just past her prime. The spotlight was on her when she married President Eisenhower's grandson and then again for a little bit after the death of her parents. But, while she's done nothing wrong, the cache of her once magical name is gone. I'd trade her straight up for Harvard Med School student Vanessa Kerry or her sister Alexandra.

    9. Patti Davis: on one hand, was the Reagan family's black sheep. On the other hand, she did reconcile with her family before Ronald Reagan's death. Good for her. Actions like that will ensure that her family wouldn't let her go so cheaply. Since "there's nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse", we think the rest of the Reagans might accept a promising California-based racehorse, like the two-year olf filly A.P. Warrior, in exchange for Patti. Oh, and they'd have to throw in a few bags of jellybeans. ;-)

    8. Dorothy Bush Koch: is the stealth Presidential daughter. She doesn't do anything to embarass her family, but maybe that's just because she's stayed away from the limelight. She's a Pioneer fundraiser for her brother George and would probably do the same for her brother Jeb and her nieces Jenna and Barbara if and when they choose to run for office. So, Dorothy's worth a lot, if I were the Bushes I wouldn't let her go for less than a brand spanking new yacht for the Bush Compound.

    7. Michael Reagan: if Patti Davis is worth an up and coming thoroughbred, then her brother, the conservative talk show host, is worth at least a good thoroughbred stallion, I'd suggest Holy Bull (because the President certainly took no bull ;-) and two bags of jellybeans!

    6. Steven Ford: fans of The Young and the Restless know the still-handsome Steven Ford better as Andy Richards. Others will recognize him from such movies as When Harry Met Sally, Starship Troopers and Black Hawk Down. For a Presidential kid, Ford's been quite a success. For him, I think I'd accept nothing less than Newman Enterprises, J'Abbot Cosmetics and Chancellor Industries!

    5. Jenna Bush: while Jenna certainly has the potential to be nothing more than a scandal-ridden obstacle for her quieter sister Barbara, she also seems to have the common touch that her parents posess, and her grandfather famously lacked. She could be a huge boozehound in the making, or she could have the brightest future of any of the Bushes. As such, she's worth a lot, but probably not as much as her sister. Plus, there's the whole blond vs. brunette thing, but I'm not going to get into that. For now let's just say that Jenna, as a UT girl, probably wouldn't mind being sent to Oklahoma football coach Bob Stoops for a promise that this year Texas will beat the Sooners return to the Rose Bowl, this time to play for the National Championship.

    4. Jeb Bush: as the Governor of Florida, Jeb's already one hot commodity. Factor in his potential and it's clear that he's worth a lot. In fact, I wouldn't settle for anything less than several Carribean islands. I might originally ask for Cuba, but that's just bargaining. I think he could be had for a combination of Aruba, Saint Kitts, and Turks and Caicos.

    3. Caroline Kennedy: has inherited great wealth from her ancestors and, luckily for her, she appears to have inherited a touch of class from her mother. I'm sure she's a raging liberal like the rest of the clan, but she's a raging liberal with a magical name, a whole lot of panache and a great head of hair. If her uncle Teddy made the deal, we suspect Caroline could be had for a good bottle of Irish whiskey (or two), but I wouldn't let her go for less than all of old Ulster.

    2. Barbara Bush appears to be much like her aunt Dorothy. She's smart (a Yale grad), but shies from the limelight. Given her brains, beauty and family connections, the sky's the limit for young Barbara. She's got tremendous upside potential. So, if Bushhitler, Cheney and Halliburton don't succeed in stealing all of the Middle East's oil for their own sinister purposes, perhaps they can get it in exchange for Barbara. It seems like it'd be a good deal for everyone. Well, everyone but Barbara that is.

    1. Finally (and obviously) we come to most valuable Presidential child of them all: George W. Bush. What would it take to acquire an actual American President? Well, the cynics and moonbats among us would say that President Bush has already been bought by evil corporate America. The romantics among us would say that Bush can't be sold because he already belongs to his dear Laura (awww). But I would just say that like the MasterCard commercials have taught us, somethings are priceless ;-)

    Wow, I haven't written anything so nice about the President in awhile. I think the silly liberal attacks against him (he's too fit!, his Supreme Court nominees are too nicely dressed!) are making me like him more than I normally would. Keep it up guys.

    Posted by at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)


    July 23, 2005

    Lance Armstrong: Politician?

    [Posted by ]

    Our favorite French-looking Senator, John Kerry, was at the Tour de France today. While there, he speculated on Lance Armstrong's potential political future:

    "What's made him so special at the Tour de France, and as an athlete, is the level of focus, discipline, intelligence, strategic ability, and obviously, his endurance -- his ability to just take it on and go," Kerry said.

    Those qualities would serve Armstrong well in politics, Kerry said. But Armstrong is also friendly with fellow Texan George W. Bush.

    "I think he'd be awesome, he'd be a force. I just hope it's for the right party," said Kerry, an avid cyclist and longtime fan of the Tour de France.

    Not so fast, my Vietnam-veteran friend. While it's true that Armstrong is an amazing athlete whose story and appeal transcends his sport, I'm not sure those qualities are what make a successful politician.

    Armstrong is great at the Tour because he does nothing but prepare for it. He has a single-minded determination to win. While that drive may help him get elected, it probably won't help him in office. A successful politician needs to compromise sometimes. They need to work the system to get things done. They need to rely on other people.

    Maybe Armstrong could do that. He's a father, an author, a cancer survivor and movement starter, so it really isn't just about the bike. But, my question is whether someone like Lance Armstrong would be happy in politics. I don't think he would be. I think people like Armstrong set goals for themselves and know (and do) what they have to do in order to achieve them. Even the most successful politicians are going to fail a lot, regardless of the effort they put into things. Could Armstrong deal with that kind of failure without getting disillusioned?

    Finally, I think a great politician needs to be in government for other people. I mean this in the nicest way possible, but Armstrong is selfish. He's selfish in the way that all great athletes are selfish. On the Tour he has 8 riders who are dedicated to helping him win. There's nothing wrong with and that's the way things work on the Tour. But, a politician should be doing the work for the benefit of others, not the other way around. In fact, Lance's "faithful Lieutenant" George Hincapie might be the better politician as he's shown the kind of selflessness we want from our representatives.

    I have no doubt that Armstrong could easily be elected to almost any office he wants to pursue. But just getting elected doesn't mean he'd be a great politician. Contrary to what John Kerry has shown throughout his career, getting elected isn't all that matters. It's not just about the election, it's about what you do once you get there.

    Click here for more Tour de France coverage.

    Posted by at 06:11 PM | Comments (3)


    July 22, 2005

    Working Out: It Does a Body Good and a President Bad

    [Posted by ]

    Nothing is too insignificant to make a big deal out of when it comes to the press and conservatives. If your kids look too nice, then you're suddenly The Man. An out-of-touch throwback to the 50s who wants all women to be like Donna Reed and children to be just like Wally and the Beav. If you casually ask potential employees whether they work out, then you're a creepy exercise freak.

    Yep, not only is President Bush Hitler, the devil, a moron and evil, he also "has an obsession with exercise that borders on the creepy". Or so says Los Angeles Times reporter Jonathan Chait in his latest hit piece.

    Like the simplistic moron he obviously thinks the President is, Chait assumes that because Bush asked potential Supreme Court nominee Harvie Wilkinson about his exercise habits, that someone those habits were a deciding factor in choosing the ultimate nominee. Could it have just been small talk? Or getting-to-know-you conversation? Oh, of course not! Nope, Chait wants to use this tidbit to create some kind of insight into the President, whether there's any truth to it or not:

    My guess is that Bush associates exercise with discipline, and associates a lack of discipline with his younger, boozehound days. "The president," said Fleischer, "finds [exercise] very healthy in terms of … keeping in shape. But it's also good for the mind." The notion of a connection between physical and mental potency is, of course, silly. (Consider all the perfectly toned airheads in Hollywood — or, perhaps, the president himself.) But Bush's apparent belief in it explains why he would demand well-conditioned economic advisors and Supreme Court justices.

    Bush's insistence that the entire populace follow his example, and that his staff join him on a Long March — er, Long Run — carries about it the faint whiff of a cult of personality. It also shows how out of touch he is. It's nice for Bush that he can take an hour or two out of every day to run, bike or pump iron. Unfortunately, most of us have more demanding jobs than he does.

    These are two of the most ridiculous paragraphs I've ever read in a major newspaper. Is Chait really trying to say that President Bush is some kind of crazy man for thinking that a) regular exercise is a sign of discipline and that b) what's good for the body is also good for the mind? Seriously, who doesn't think that?

    Chait also tries to claim that Bush demands "well-conditioned" advisors? Really? The fact that he asks an interviewee about his workout habits has suddenly been turned into a "demand". In Chaitland, it's not only Presidential staff that have to workout or else, the President is also insisting that all Americans follow his example. That's funny, I haven't noticed any black helicopters swooping down to take those of us who skip a day at the gym to "re-education camps". I must have missed that part of my tax return where all Americans get to deduct the cost of their gym memberships. And, don't tell anyone, but I cheated and didn't pay my "fat tax".

    For as stupid and evil and just plain wrong as members of the press seem to think Bush is, you'd think they could find something more to bitch about than that fact that he makes time in his busy schedule to work out.

    Posted by at 12:56 PM | Comments (2)


    July 21, 2005

    The Guide to Appropriate Footwear

    [Posted by ]

    Given the recent White House flip flop flap and my informal standing as something of a footwear expert, I thought I'd post a little something to help the ladies in the audience with their future footwear choices...

    If you have any specific footwear questions, I'd love to address them in the comments. :-)

    Posted by at 05:20 PM | Comments (10)


    Bush's Interview Style

    [Posted by james]

    This piece in the NYT is interesting. Judge Wilkinson, a candidate for the Supreme Court gig, revealed some of the questions that the President asked him during his interview.

    - he asked him how much he exercised

    - he was asked about his personal life and about where he came from

    - he was not asked about his views on issues like abortion or even a particular legal case

    - "(The President) just could not have been more gracious," he said.

    These are exactly the right questions to be asking in any interview, not just an interview for the Supreme Court. You just can't teach decision-making skills like this in B-school. (and believe me, they try...)

    Posted by jkhat at 04:00 PM | Comments (2)


    The Shortening Of Summer

    [Posted by ]

    I was looking around the web at lunch today and noticed that more than a few major retailers are already pushing fall and back-to-school deals. It's only July 21st! Schools in Madison, for example, have only been out for 5 weeks. These poor kids are still in the middle of their summer vacation and they're already being assaulted with back-to-school ads.

    I remember that feeling of dread when the first back-to-school flyer would come out. It's the same dread I feel today if I watch 60 Minutes on a Sunday night. I still feel like that damn clock is just ticking down toward the end of my weekend. I hate it, and I'm sure kids hate being told that summer's almost over, when it's only just begun.

    I don't know why we all try to rush through the present to get to the next big thing. We rush through the fall to start thinking about Christmas. We go through the motions for a month, just waiting to really live on a vacation. Even if we adults can't learn to settle down, relax, and enjoy the moment, we should at least let kids do it.

    Posted by at 12:33 PM | Comments (2)


    July 20, 2005

    102 Minutes

    [Posted by ]

    I've been reading 102 Minutes by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn. The 102 minutes, of course, refers the time between the first plane hitting the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the collapse of the towers.

    I've read quite a few books on 9/11. I feel like there's so much that went unreported that day. Americans didn't see people jumping from the building. We didn't see the carnage in the plaza between the Towers or on the streets. I was taken aback by a passage in 102 Minutes about how the police had to kind of shake people escaping out of stupor when they caught a glimpse of the charred bodies, plane parts and debris in the plaza. I don't think we get a sense of that kind of horror on the ground that day. Maybe it's impossible to, but I do think that some of the images of 9/11 were so spectacular (planes crashing into buildings, buildings collapsing, mountains of smoke) that our brains still kind of read it as a movie, as something that didn't really happen.

    I like reading individual's stories of that day because I can wrap my brain around that. Unfortunately, doing that also gets me so angry. Angry at the murderous bastards who want to kill us because of our freedoms and prosperity and angry at HC asshats like Ward Churchill. I've spent the last couple of days reading about some of the people he refered to as "little Eichmanns". People like Frank DeMartini, who sent his wife down 88 flights of the stairs in the North Tower and then went up the stairs with a colleague, Pablo Ortiz, and rescued approximately 50 people near the first plane's impact zone. DeMartini and Ortiz didn't make it out alive. Similarly, there was Windows on the World assistant manager Christine Olender. Olender was heartbreakingly capable that morning. She gathered her guests (she still referred to them that way in many calls for help) and staff away from the smoke and did everything she could to try to get help or information or anything. Unfortunately, their fate was sealed. These weren't "evil" symbols of capitalism and imperialism. These were ordinary Americans, who, like many people, became extraordinary Americans that day.

    The book is actually kind of controversial because it rather strongly criticizes some of the heroes of the day: the police and fire departments. On one hand, I understand why people are uncomfortable with that kind of criticism. Those departments lost hundreds of men that day. And, furthermore, there's the danger of saying things like "poor communication caused 500 people to die". When we say things like we shift the blame from Islamofascist terrorists to American bureaucrats. The Twin Towers didn't really collapse because of poor fireproofing. They collapsed because terrorists crashed planes into them.

    This isn't to say that we shouldn't critically examine the events of 9/11. Police and fire departments all over the country should be able to learn some invaluable lessons on crisis communication from it. We should be able to improve high rise safety by looking at what went wrong at the Towers. But, at the end of the day, I think it's important that we all understand that the way to make America safe from terrorism isn't to make our buildings stronger.

    Posted by at 01:00 PM | Comments (0)



    [Posted by Laura]
    There’s no question that Judge Roberts has outstanding legal credentials – Senator Charles Schumer

    I don’t think the American people are going to put up with any more crap from the Judiciary Committee – Senator Orin Hatch

    So we're all agreed, Roberts deserves an up or down vote. Right? I would dearly love to see him refuse to answer questions that were not asked of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg during her confirmation process.

    Update: Lorie Byrd at Polipundit remembers

    when John G. Roberts, Jr. had the pleasure of his second confirmation hearing in 2003 before the Senate Judiciary Committee (committee print here) in connection with his D.C. Circuit nomination, Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT) told Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) that Senator Schumer was asking “dumb-ass questions.”
    Emphasis mine. ROFL 2

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 08:44 AM | Comments (1)


    July 19, 2005

    How Liberals Support Women, As Seen Around The Blogosphere

    [Posted by Laura]

    John Roberts is Bush’s nominee for SCOTUS, and the reaction from the Kos Kidz is predictable…

    “If Bush appoints a man to O'Connor's seat it would be an affront to anyone who cares about the rights and interests of women. Since it seems highly unlikely that he will appoint a woman to replace Chief Justice Rhenquist, Bush's appointment of a man tonight will send an unmistakable message to America's women: You're on your own.”

    "Remember that the subtext of Rove's leaking Plame is "what a sissy boy this Wilson is to let his wife get him a gig." That's how they think. Oh, they might think it's good PR for Laura to tell a few jokes about Dubya at the annual media whores dinner, but when it gets down to crunch time -- you know, when men make Big Decisions -- they're not going to depend on women. Ask Santorum what women are good for. Laura Bush publicly calling for him to nominate a woman probably eliminated any chance that he would do so."

    To these people, it’s all about the legal abortion, and the concept that only people from your demographic group can support you. The concept that a judge should rule fairly, regardless of race, gender or other classification seems beyond their ken.

    I don’t spend more than an hour a day viewing Kos and other liberal sites, because I already have high blood pressure. But I find it interesting that the same liberals who claim women will suffer if a man gets O'Connor's seat aren’t absolutely howling at the abuses of women in Islamic society. Here’s a good example from Ace, where a woman who was raped is told by a Sharia court that she must now divorce her husband and marry her rapist. Numerous examples of attempted and actual honor killings, in Michigan, Sweden, Berlin , Zambia (attempted to kill the wife and actually killed the hen :-) ), Turkey and Rochester.

    In a similar example, liberals are all for increased aid to Africa which most often ends up in some dictators Swiss bank account, but when it comes to stopping Muslim enslavement – yes, enslavement! - and genocide of Africans, they are surprisingly quiet. Slavery is happening in the United States also. The same people who were horrified at Abu Ghraib seem happy to overlook murder and slavery, even when it occurs in America, as long as people deemed to be in a protected class do it. Just imagine the media melt-down if a minority-race homosexual murdered their converted radical Islamist family member. I can see the headline now: "Human Found Dead." But, hey, as long as we have a "diverse" SCOTUS, that's all that matters.

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 09:33 PM | Comments (3)


    Tour de France Recap #2

    [Posted by BVBigBro]

    We’ve reached the second rest day and the general classification is for all practical purposes over. Barring a crash or severe illness, Lance Armstrong will win the tour again. How did it happen? I think this year’s Tour was almost solely the result of Armstrong himself. In some past years particularly in 2003, his team won it with him. This year the Discovery team was noticeably weaker than in years past, allowing Armstrong to be isolated on several occasions, and not controlling the tempo on every climb, but it didn’t matter. After the team time trial, all Armstrong needed was the occasional water bottle. The first climb in the Alps, Stage 10, did the damage and it was largely the result of Armstrong himself, with help from Mancebo, Valverde and Rasmussen. Watch this stage on replay and look at the pace of the climb and the looks on all the riders’ faces. This was an all out effort by Armstrong that took everything he had, but paid off. In the Pyrenees, there were attacks, and there was strategy, but the riders looked tired for the most part, and Armstrong was easily able to counter the moves even when he had little support.

    Stage 15 featured a win by American George Hincapie on the Tour’s toughest stage, but he did it without working in the breakaway and then passing Oscar Pereiro in the last kilometer, which is legal, but considered bad form.

    Additionally, Michael Rasmussen gained enough climbing points to all but assure himself of winning the polka dot jersey for the best climber, and with Valverde’s abandon, Popovych will almost certainly win the white jersey as the best young rider.

    So what’s left? Today’s stage features an HC climb, but it is a long way from the finish. You may see some of the higher placed riders try to drop each other on the climb as they fight for places 2 through 10, but expect Discovery to just protect Armstrong successfully. After that, it will largely be flat stages that determine the green jersey winner. With Tom Boonen having abandoned, this is now a battle between Thor Hushovd, Stuart O’Grady and Robbie McEwen. Hushovd has the lead, and O’Grady is second, But I think McEwen is strong enough to overtake them and collect the jersey. This one could very well be decided on the Champs Ellysees, and given McEwen’s demeanor on the bike could make the final stage exciting to watch.

    For the riders racing for second overall, the race will come down to the final time trial on Stage 20. I keep hearing and reading this stage described as flat, but in reality it has 2800 feet of climbing in only 55km, with two significant climbs and one very technical descent. I can’t imagine Armstrong losing significant time on the stage, but I don’t think the stage necessarily favors the traditional time trial specialists. Only the top riders on the GC, and anyone else who thinks they can win the stage, will be motivated to ride hard, and I think any one of them could win it. The climbing should reduce the speed and favor both the climbers and the less aerodynamic riders like Basso. Basso really suffered in last years’ long time trial and lost time as the stage progressed. Ullrich is also not the best descender that ever lived, so he could have some trouble here. Rasmussen is a poor time trialist, but he should be motivated now, and it will be interesting to see if he can hold off the others for a spot on the podium when it matters. Mancebo is also not a great time trialist, but given the nature of the stage, and with two poor time trialists, Basso and Rasmussen, within reach, he could squeak by for a spot in the top three. It will be interesting to see what kind of bike setup people choose on this stage. The specialized time trial bikes are more aerodynamic, but are also heavier and do not handle as well as a standard road bike. Given the amount of climbing, and the technical descent, we could see some people give it a try on a standard bike with some clip on time trial bars and without the disc wheels. Any of places 2 through 8 could change hands on this stage. We’ll see.

    So that’s the update for now, I’ll be back at the end to talk about the race, look forward to the rest of the race season, and talk about what to watch for bike racing in the future.

    Click here for more of our Tour de France coverage

    Posted by BVBigBro at 08:16 AM | Comments (5)


    July 18, 2005

    Weather Induced Rage - The Summer Edition

    [Posted by ]

    Last March I wrote about Winter Induced Rage (W.I.R.), the phenomenon by which normally mild mannered Midwesterners turn into raging maniacs when the winter lasts a little too long. After the first half of this summer, however, I realized that W.I.R. really stands for Weather Induced Rage. Because, after suffering through a seemingly unending winter, Wisconsinites now face one of the hottest, most humid summers in memory.

    Day after day the temperatures soar into the 90s. Night after night the humidity hangs in the air. There's no relief. Sooner or later, someone's going to crack and go on a shooting spree. I'm expecting, but dreading, the news.

    Those of you from the South are probably laughing at my bitching about 90 degree weather. That's nothing, you say. And true, Southerners are better equipped to handle hot weather. But put yourself in the shoes of the Midwesterner for a moment. In the course of a mere twelve months, we go from snow and temperatures that dip to 10 or 20 below zero up to highs in the 90s. That's a 100 degree swing.

    Midwesterners have to learn how to deal with these extremes. We learn how to drive in the snow and how to beat the heat. In fact, the weather is one of the reasons I stand behind my Geographical Theory of Presidential Candidates. All things being equal, I say, opt for the candidate who either grew up with, or now deals with, extreme seasons. I firmly believe that the candidate who has spent a lifetime overcoming these everyday hurdles won't be hampered by such insignifant obstacles as Congress, a hostile press, or even Islamofascist terrorists. Seriously. They are simply tougher than that.

    So while the rest of you will hem and haw over who's a truer conservative or a less wacky liberal, I'll start to think about who has the toughest weather, Bill Owens' Colorado or Tim Pawlenty's Minnesota or Rudy Guilani's New York.

    Posted by at 09:32 PM | Comments (2)


    July 17, 2005

    Ten Most Embarrassing Songs On My iPod

    [Posted by ]

    Eric, the Viking Pundit, posted a list of the last 15 songs he downloaded from iTunes. Not surprisingly, people started ripping on some of his selections. And really, Ace of Base? Ew.

    Anyway, it got me to thinking about what songs I'm most embarrassed to have on my iPod. As you read these, you'll have to keep in mind that I've always been a fan of alternative music, and, coming of musical age in the late 80s and 90s, that meant I listened to stuff by the likes of the Replacements, Sugar, Matthew Sweet, etc. Well, that's what I usually listened to. Clearly, I'm not always so discriminating in my tastes.

    So here's what I've got. Please be gentle in your criticism.

    10. "Girl on the Verge", by Sarah Hudson: Most of you have no idea who Sarah Hudson is. But, those of you that know (and hint, if you watched Project Runway, she's the "rocker chick" they brought in to judge a round) are, I'm sure, horrified. I'm well aware that Ms. Hudson is just an Avril Lavigne wannabee. And, no, I don't like Lavigne either. But, for some reason, this song just caught my fancy. It's not only on my iPod, I actually listen to it!

    9. "Kiss" by Tom Jones with the Art of Noise: Yes, Tom Jones is on my iPod. No, I'm not planning on going to a show in Vegas and throwing my panties at him. Well, I'm not planning on it. You never know what might happen in Vegas. So yeah, Tom Jones covers Prince here. The addition of the Art of Noise ups the cool quotient. But still, you gotta cringe a little when the name "Tom Jones" comes up on the display.

    8. "Do They Know It's Christmas?", by Band Aid: This song is infinitely better than "We Are The World", but it's still a cheesy charity song that should really only be played around the holidays. I could leave it off the iPod until December rolls around, but I don't want to. I have to confess, I love Bono's part (Well tonight thank God it's them, instead of YOU) and I'll listen to it whenever I want. Hey, it's Christmas in July!

    7. "Total Eclipse of the Heart", by Jessica Sierra: Now, I suspect many people have Bonnie Tyler's version on their playlists. But no, not me. I had to get American Idol contestant Jessica Sierra's (she was on this past season) version. It's not that good, but I don't want to delete it because I actually paid for it. You know, I'm not so much embarrassed by that as I am ashamed by it.

    6. "Space Truckin'", by Deep Purple: I'm sure all the guys out there are like "No way! Deep Purple rules!". I appreciate the support, and yes, Deep Purple does rule, but it's for stuff like "Highway Star" and "Smoke On The Water", not for goofy stuff like this about meeting groovy people on Venus and Mars (Man, those cats could swing).

    5. "Islands In The Stream", by Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers: I must confess a weakness for both of these artists. Since Dolly Parton embraced her bluegrass roots, she's respectable again. But not my poor Kenny Rogers. I think I'm one of the few people who appreciate the genius of songs like "Coward of the County" and this little gem.

    4. "Strokin'", by Clarence Carter: Ah, here's the song that inspired the post. While the name of the song is certainly suggestive, the song itself is anything but. It's so explicit, in fact, that I'm sure I blush whenever I listen to it. Oh, that Clarence...

    3. "Angel of the Morning", by Juice Newton: I believe it'd be acceptable to have Juice's bigger hit "Queen of Hearts" on my iPod (and yeah, I have that one too), this one's a different story. The lyrics are godawful and melodramatic, but that's exactly what makes it fun to sing along to it. It's the musical equivalent of my favorite LifeTime-esque miniseries Bare Essence.

    2. I'd Die Without You", by P.M. Dawn: This song was featured in the Eddie Murphy movie Boomerang. As an aside, in that movie Robin Givens was the beautiful femme fatale while Halle Berry played the plainer girl next door. Yep, Halle Berry was the plain one. Isn't Hollywood funny? Anyway, this was the romantic theme of that movie. I still like the song, but I can't but think that The Onion's Smoove B. wrote the lyrics.

    1. Stars on 45: I made fun of someone for having this medley in his collection, but what do you know, it made it onto my iPod too. Hey! It's got a good beat and I can dance to it ;-)

    Posted by at 07:25 PM | Comments (9)


    July 16, 2005

    Coming Soon to a Metro near you

    [Posted by james]

    Metro cars all have a few small (think poster-sized) ads on the interior. This is the first one that I've seen with an ad on the exterior. And not only is there an ad on the exterior, but the ad is the exterior.

    I don't like it one bit.

    Posted by jkhat at 11:00 PM | Comments (12)


    July 15, 2005

    Top Ten Ways the Tour de France would be Different if it was held in America

    [Posted by ]

    The staff here at Dummocrats is really enjoying the Tour de France. But, we're a little embarrassed to admit this because it's, you know, in France. But we got to thinking, maybe some of the Tour's charm comes from its location and it just wouldn't be the same anywhere else. In fact, we shudder to think about what the Tour de France would be like if it were the Tour d'America.

    Here are the top ten ways we think the Tour de France would be different if it were held in America.

    11. On big climbs, riders would be hampered by the smoke coming off of 1000's of grills from enthusiastic tailgaters.

    10. Crazy moonbats would use the Tour as another venue to protest something or another. You can bet that someone would be holding up a "Bush lied. People died" sign every 100 yards.

    That's right, we said yards, not metres.

    9. Michelle Wie would attempt to compete in it.

    8. Celebratory champagne flutes would be filled with Miller High Life, the champagne of beers.

    7. Expert commentary: baseball has Bob Uecker. Football has John Madden. Basketball has Larry Bird. Bicycling has Pee Wee Herman.

    6. There would be a kickin' halftime show featuring Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and Ludacris doing really, really, really sucky remake of Queen's "Bicycle Race."

    5. The tour would threaten to move to Canada unless new roads and hills were built.

    4. New design for the Yellow Jersey:

    3. McDonalds would do some clever merchandising of their latest product: McGu.

    2. Cool French phrases like HC, domestiques and maillot jaune replaced with street slang. HC=badassss, domestiques=homeys, maillot jaune=yellow threads.

    1. And the number one thing that would be different if the tour was held in America:

    Europeans would instantly start hating it, poo-pooing and deriding cycling as being inferior; "not a real sport - not like soccer."

    Posted by at 05:30 PM | Comments (1)


    July 14, 2005

    WaPo's Borf Worship

    [Posted by james]

    For the last year almost every neighborhood in Washington DC has been vandalized by some punk calling himself "Borf." It seems that everywhere I go, be it Georgetown, Cleveland Park, Foggy Bottom, Dupont, Woodley Park, Chinatown, Eastern Market, Virgina, etc, etc, the street signs are all tagged with the word "Borf," the trash cans all read "Borf," even USPS mailboxes are defaced with the word "Borf." This "borf" fellow has easily done hundreds of thousands, if not MILLIONS in property damage to private and federal governemnt property.

    I used to pray that I would catch this unknown punk in the act of defacing something with the moniker "borf." He's a vandal, and worse than that, he's a felon. - I wanted so much to make a citizens arrest of this bozo.

    It looks like I'm not going to get that chance, since the punk has just been apprehended. And just who is Borf? An 18 year old punk named John Tsombikos from Great Falls, Virginia.

    And even though punk John Tsombikos is both felon and a vandal, the Washington Post has nothing but nice things to say about him - they don't call him a "felon" or a vandal, instead, they call him only an "artist." They call his year long million dollar spree of felonious property damage a "months-long campaign ... intended to enlighten Washington." They praise him for managing to spell a few words correctly ("Borf seemed quite conscientious about matters of spelling and punctuation"), and even reveal that reporters at the Washington Post have known his identity for MONTHS now and did nothing to stop him.

    Let me say that again - the Washington Post knew the identity of a person causing millions of dollars of property damage to the city and they did nothing. Gee, sounds like a "scoop" to me, so why did they sit on it?

    We learn a little more about Borf from the Post's ridiculous romanticized vision of him:

    • If you followed Borf graffiti carefully, ... you'd have noticed that he sort of disappeared in the last few months. That's because ...he was traveling in Europe, stopping off in Scotland to protest the G-8 summit.

    • he had been avidly involved in peace marches and other protest efforts, and his graffiti appeared to be an outgrowth of that.

    • "I've got plans," he said ominously, sitting out on U Street, eating a vegetarian burger from Ben's Chili Bowl. "Maybe like a manifesto."

    • Once upon a time, Borf said, he was "just, like, some liberal, like anybody," but then he started reading, and found out he really wanted to be an anarchist. He decided he doesn't believe in the state, capitalism, private property, globalization. Most of all, he doesn't believe in adulthood, which he considers "boring" and "selling out."

    • Borf recently turned 18, a fact he revealed with hesitation because "I'm against age. It's just another way of dividing people."

    • "People all heading downtown," he said. "Like, it's ridiculous if you think about it. Like, Orwellian-ridiculous. And they do this with so-called free will."

    • He is fond of phrases like: "Property is theft, as Prudhomme says."

    • It bothers him that those younger than 18 can't vote, "as much as I don't believe in voting or anything."

    OK, I've given up on listing these things. Clearly, John "Borf" Tsombikos, the rich kid from Great Falls, VA, is a f@*king idiot. Almost every sentence that comes out of this punk's mouth is riddled with idiocy.

    As we lawyers say, res ipsa loquitor.

    But I will tell you one thing - this vandal wasn't making a "statement" of any kind. First, how could he? I personally don't understand how he manages to dress himself each morning. But secondly, a little fact that certainly isn't evident from the WaPo article: 99% of his acts of vandalism say only one thing : BORF. That's it. That's all.

    This punk deserves prison time. If I was the prosecutor, he'd get it.

    Posted by jkhat at 11:23 PM | Comments (11)


    We Are Not A Democracy

    [Posted by ]

    Some bloggers are upset by a remark from California Rep. Gilbert Cedillo. Cedillo, in response to California voting on a gay marriage ban said:

    “The people have spoken. They have spoken. But people aren’t always right.”

    He's exactly right. Contrary to popular belief, we do not live in a democracy. We live in a Federal Republic. When the people "speak", the government doesn't necessarily act.

    We elect Representatives, presumably from among our best and brightest, to govern for us. We do not elect Representatives to sit in Congress, take constant polls and act accordingly.

    It's perfectly acceptable for someone to voice their disagreement with a referendum. It's perfectly acceptable for them to continue to advocate the opposite position. The ultimate voice of the people isn't (at least it shouldn't) be through opinion polls and constant referendums. It should be at the ballot box.

    Posted by at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)


    July 13, 2005

    Tour de France Recap #1

    [Posted by BVBigBro]

    Well, ten stages of the Tour de France are now complete. We’ve seen the predictable, the unpredictable, great riders and disappointing riders. The first ten stages have gone more or less according to form, but let’s recap them, take a look at what should happen in the next week, and discuss some strategies that may be employed by some of the teams.

    David Zabriskie road a great race to win the opening time trial, but the real story here was that a lot of the contenders, Ullrich included, gave up an exceptional amount of time to Armstrong on what was only a 19k time trial. This was the first sign that Armstrong was in good form, and that several others were potentially quite weak.

    Stages 2 and 3 went rather predictably to Tom Boonen, the great Belgian sprinter and one day racer.

    Stage 4, the team time trial (TTT), went to Armstrong and Discovery Channel in a very close finish with CSC and T-Mobile. Their margin of victory over the other GC contenders’ teams was smaller than past years, but with the TTT rules change last year, the margin is no longer terribly important. Euskaltel was the big loser here, finishing a disappointing 16th.

    Robbie McEwen got back at Boonen by winning the sprint for stage 5, and after a crash spoiled Alexander Vinokourov’s chance for a win, Lorenzo Bernucci scored a surprise win in stage 6.

    McEwen won another sprint for stage 7, and after a collapse by his Discovery team left him alone, Lance Armstrong had to chase alone as Pieter Weening won stage 8 with contender Andreas Kloden in tow.

    Stage 9 saw the ride of the Tour as The Chicken, Rabobank’s Michael Rasmussen, went on the attack for 167k to win the stage by over three minutes and put over six minutes into Armstrong. For reasons unexplained, CSC thought it wise to send a rider, Jens Voigt, out on the attack into no man’s land between Rasmussen and the rest of the peloton. Voigt, no threat to win, picked up the overall lead, but that was of little use to team leader Ivan Basso. That brought us to yesterday’s Stage 10 and the first of the mountains..

    Going into Stage 10, Armstrong led all the other GC contenders by at least a minute with Vinokourov being closest at 1:02 down. During Armstrong’s past six wins, this first mountain stage saw his team ride a fast tempo as far up the final climb as possible, and this stage would be no exception. After the last of Discovery’s other riders had peeled off and a couple of accelerations were made, we were left with Armstrong, Valverde, Rasmussen and Mancebo. These four rode together till the end of the stage, where Rasmussen, and then Armstrong, attacked hard to try and drop the others. Ultimately, Armstrong was unable to drop Valverde who passed him for a great win. Rasmussen and Mancebo finished 9 seconds back. The rest of the GC riders, and all of the T-Mobile team, lost more than a minute on the stage with Vinokourov losing 5:18.

    So who are the winners and losers? Armstrong is now in control of the race. He did well in the time trials, and in the first of the mountains, and has a lead of 2:40 to Ivan Basso, the first of the contenders he expected to battle for the overall. He is exactly where he wants to be.

    The Illes Balears team and their two big riders, Valverde and Mancebo, have also been good. After some expectedly mediocre time trialing, they turned it on in the mountains and are now in a position to attack Armstrong should the opportunity arise.

    Rabobank’s Michael Rasmussen has been awesome. For him to hold pace with Armstrong for all of Stage 10 after his long solo ride on Stage 9 was a shocker. He is now in second, only 38 seconds back. His team is not strong in the mountains, but if he can escape on another solo ride, he could pull off the biggest upset in Tour history.

    Ivan Basso has been very average. His time trialing was OK, but to be dropped on the first mountain stage had to be a blow. If Stage 10 was simply a bad day, he is still close enough that he can come back, and there is a lot of climbing left to go. His greatest impediment may prove to be Bjarne Riis, the team Director who has made a lot of questionable decisions at the Tour in recent years. The bottom line is it appears Riis doesn’t think Basso can win. If he doesn’t think he can win, why should I?

    Levi Leipheimer has been a pleasant surprise. I didn’t think he would do well, but he has hung around when others have faded and is quietly into sixth overall.

    Jan Ullrich has proven a huge disappointment. The good form he showed earlier this year is gone. He was slower than Armstrong in the time trials, and in the mountains there are two dozen riders in the race who can drop him any time they want. Armstrong has already announced his retirement; don’t be surprised if Ullrich is right behind him, but for different reasons. I can’t see any pro team paying serious money for Ullrich. I know, there is still half the Tour to go, but for Jan that is only an opportunity to lose even more time. At this point, short of the Discovery and Illes Balears teams being wiped out by a meteor strike, I don’t see any way for him to make up enough time to get back into contention.

    Along with Jan, the T-Mobile team came apart at the seams on Stage 10. Vinokourov looked like he might die on the stage. Kloden slowed to help out Ullrich, but he clearly would not have stayed with the four leaders either. If they let him ride for the overall and not as helper, Oscar Sevilla might actually be their highest placed rider right now. With Ullrich looking lousy, and Vinokourov with a contract that soon expires, this team could easily deteriorate into nine guys doing their own thing for the rest of the Tour.

    Iban Mayo has been another loser. Losing 20 minutes on the first mountain stage, and finishing behind some of the people he did is unacceptable for a high dollar riderand the climber he is. It will be back to the drawing board for Euskaltel and Mayo.

    So what’s next? Stage 11, another mountain stage, will be very important I think, but for different reasons for different riders. Expect Discovery to try and ride a hard tempo again and repeat yesterday’s performance. If they can, and the damage is anywhere near as bad as Stage 10, Armstrong will be nearly impossible to beat. Discovery / Postal have been using the same tactic for years and it still seems to surprise some team Directors as it did on Stage 10 yesterday. Bjarne Riis, of CSC, had used up one of his good riders, Voigt, in a long breakaway on Stage 9, and then had Carlos Sastre launch an attack on the final climb without his leader, Basso being able to follow. As a result, he left Ivan Basso totally isolated on most of the final climb. Riis had to know what Discovery was going to do, and it would have been good tactics to rein in Voigt the previous day, and focus the team solely on protecting Basso. For Stage 11, it would be a good idea for Illes Balears and CSC to attack as hard as possible on the first climb. Armstrong will not be dropped on the first climb, but Discovery gave a very hard effort yesterday, and some or most of his teammates could be dropped by a hard attack, leaving Armstrong isolated on the final climb. If the other contenders play it safe, Discovery will likely be able to control the stage again and get Armstrong another good result, after which they get two flat stages where they can let the sprinters teams do the work. In addition, Armstrong could be tired after yesterday’s hard day, but we’ll never know if no one tries him.

    For Michael Rasmussen, Stage 11 will be a test of survival. After two very hard efforts, he has to be tired, but if he can survive one more day, he will get two flat stages on which to regain some strength before the Pyrenees. If he can survive to the Pyrenees without losing significant time, he can possibly mount an attack and catch Armstrong on a weak day.

    So that’s it for now. I’ll be back for the Pyrenees and hopefully we’ll still have a close race.

    Posted by BVBigBro at 07:49 AM | Comments (8)


    Lance Armstrong Has No Real Skill, According to ESPN

    [Posted by james]

    Pardon the Interruption, or "PTI," is the best show on television. If I've said that once over the past 6 months, I've said it a thousand times. For those of you not familiar with the show, it runs on ESPN and is a half-hour long daily run-down of news from the sporting world. The show's distinguishing characteristic is a topic list and a countdown-clock on the right-hand side of the screen, allowing the viewer to see both the upcoming topics and the amount of time remaining on the current topic. Tony and Mike, the regular hosts, are fantastic, which makes it a good show, but it's the addition of the topic and clock features that earn this show the title "Best Show on TV" - See, using a TiVo, you can instantly target the topics you care about and skip over the topics that you don't using the 30-second-skip and 8-second-replay buttons.

    For the last 2 weeks Tony and/or Mike have been on vacation, and various guest hosts have tried to filled their shoes, which has only demonstrated how vital each of them is to the show. Seriously, topic list and clock notwithstanding, the show SUCKS when either of them is M.I.A.

    One of yesterday's guest hosts was a columnist from St. Louis. Or was it Detroit? I'm sorry, I don't recall his name. However, he did make a pretty bold (and asinine) assertion. Paraphrased, it went something like,

    Lance Armstrong isn't a "great" athlete, because he has no real skill. All he does is ride a bike, which anyone can do. It doesn't take superior skill to ride a bike, not in the way that it takes superior skill to play basketball or golf. Therefore, since Lance only does something that everyone can do, Lance isn't a great athlete.

    I'm not going to get into the details of just how silly I think that statement is - suffice it to say, I think Lance Armstrong is one of the greatest athletes alive. Is he a Michael Jordan or a Wayne Gretzsky? I think so. What do you think?

    If you haven't already, be sure to check out BVBigBro's latest Tour update.

    Posted by jkhat at 07:33 AM | Comments (5)


    July 12, 2005

    McCain is making sense on Supreme Court nominations

    [Posted by james]

    According to Drudge:

    Sen. McCain [R-AZ] Strong Words On Supreme Ct Nomination at Dallas Fundraiser:

    'During the campaign, President Bush said he will appoint judges who will strictly interpret the constitution... thinking anything else is either amnesia or ignorance... elections have consequences... whomever he nominates deserves an up or down vote and no filibuster... and an up or down vote is what we will have'...

    Emphasis added.

    Hear, hear. (?)

    Posted by jkhat at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)


    British Police Don't Mess Around

    [Posted by james]

    Knowing that British police officers do not carry firearms, you may be under the impression that they are kind of a joke. After all, what damage is a cop in a funny hat really going to do with his little nightstick?

    If you have been of that opinion, you've be wrong:

    U.K. Cops Set Off Blast Amid Raids

    LEEDS, England — British troops blasted their way into a home in northern England in what they said was a search for explosives, and police conducted a series of raids linked to last week's London bombings.

    Police said 500 people were evacuated from the area and the streets were cordoned off. Hours earlier, police searched five residences elsewhere in Leeds as part of the investigation of Thursday's subway and bus bombings that killed at least 52 people.

    That's right, while they may not carry guns, MP's apparently walk around packing C4 or its equivalent. Wouldn't a battering ram be safer? Perhaps. But let's face it, it would just take up so much room in the lorry.

    Posted by jkhat at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)


    July 11, 2005

    Nanny 911 On The War On Terror

    [Posted by ]

    The other day I compared Islamofascists to toddlers having a temper tantrum. That got me to thinking about how the nannies from Fox's Nanny 911 would deal with unruly terrorists. Is it possible to apply their 11 Commandments to the War on Terror? Well, I'm going to give it a try.

    1. Be Consistent
    On 9/20/01, President Bush, like a good parent, laid out the expectations for the Arab world.

    Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.

    Of course, it's not just enough to say what kind of behavior you expect. Those expectations have to remain consistent. Nations like Iran or Syria have to understand that we will deal with them eventually. Oh sure, it'd be easier to just slack off after all the hard work we've done in Iraq and Afghanistan, but all that does is send the message to our enemies to wait until we get tired and lazy, and then they can go to town.

    2. Actions Have Consquences
    Otherwise known as the carrot and the stick. Throughout much of the 80s and 90s, we turned a blind eye to bad behavior from the Islamofascists. Not surprisingly, lacking adequate punishment, they continued to test their limits.

    3. Say What You Mean And Mean It
    Like a parent, America is, in many ways, the center of the Islamofascist's world. When we open our mouths, they listen. So, we have to choose our words carefully. We can neither be glib and say foolish things like "Bring it on!", nor can we embolden their cause and cut ourselves down by comparing our own behavior to, for example, Saddam Hussein's or the Nazis or Stalin or Pol Pot. You don't give a misbehaving child another justification for their bad behavior.

    4. Parents Work Together As A Team
    This is important. We can't have the President being the bad guy and the Democrats (or the Europeans) playing the role of Disney dad.

    5. Don't Make Promises You Can't Keep
    We can't promise the Arab Street prosperity. We can't promise them equality. We can, however, promise them greater freedom.

    More tactically, this also means we have to keep the promises we already made. So, for example, we'll need to stay in Iraq until she's able to take care of her own security. If we don't, we've just shown the Islamofascists that they can get their own way if they just keep crying fighting long enough.

    6. Listen To Your Children
    While part of this really is a Clintonesque "I feel your pain" thing, another part is truly listening to what the Islamofascists fear and hate. What they truly fear is democracy. They're afraid that a free people will turn their backs on their twisted version of Islam. What this means is that we could end all of our military and financial operations in the Middle East tomorrow, and they'd still hate us. You can't control such an unruly enemy until you really understand what they want.

    7. Establish A Routine
    Routines provide a feeling of safety. Our very presence in Iraq provides that feeling. If Iraqis are able to go to work and school without getting killed, they'll be less likely to harbor terrorists in their midst and more likely to start to believe that working with America is the way to go.

    8. Respect Is A Two-Way Street
    Take this a couple of ways. First, we need to respect the Islamofascists' intentions. What I mean is that we need to realize that they do exist and they are a threat. We need to respect that threat. But, second of all, we also need to respect the people of the Middle East and believe that they have the same desire for freedom and the same capability for democracy that we do and that the great majority of them basically want to be able to live their lives and raise their families in peace.

    9. Positive Reinforcement Works Much Better Than Negative Reinforcement
    The news on the War on Terror seems to be unfailingly bad. Americans read about it everyday, but Muslims do too. A terrorist-to-be reads all about how bad things are and about how America's resolve is about to crumble. Think about how empowering that is to him. But, on the other hand, think about what it would be like if positive news from Iraq and Afghanistan was more widely disseminated. Regular folks would realize that fighting the terrorists in their midst wasn't a lost cause. They could take pride in what their countries have been able to accomplish and may even start to want to take part in those accomplishments.

    10. Manners Are Universal
    We can't only be upset when terrorists hit New York or London. We need to understand that a terrorist attack in Mosul is just as damaging as one in Madrid. Stopping terrorism outside the home, if you will, doesn't stop it completely, and, it also creates a homelife that's nothing but a breeding ground for ever more terrorism.

    11. Define Your Roles As Parents
    Ultimately, it's not the job of America to police the world. Really. We need to create conditions that foster freedom and discourage terrorism, but ultimately, it's up to each individual in the Middle East to choose the kind of life they want to live. Hopefully we do our job well enough that they make the right choice.

    Posted by at 11:32 PM | Comments (8)


    July 08, 2005

    Seeing the Light in Seattle

    [Posted by ]

    Homocon finds a great example of how the media have suddenly rediscovered that the Islamofascists are, you know, evil. Check out these two political cartoons from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (by the same artist, deliciously enough).

    On May 24th, it was all about those evil Americans down in Gitmo torturing poor, innocent Muslims:

    Today, however, this same artist is painting an entirely different picture of the War on Terror (hey, this thing's for real!):

    How many people have to die and how many times and places do we need to be attacked before we all get that these people are not nice, they're not victims and they do want to kill us?

    I'm really mad at the Republican Party right now, but Bush's response to the terrorism has been right on from 9/11 and it's the reason I'll still support him, even when the rest of his agenda ticks me off.

    Posted by at 07:30 AM | Comments (10)


    July 07, 2005

    The Islamofascist's Little List of Justifications

    [Posted by ]

    The Islamofascists have struck again. And, therefore, so have the Islamofascist apologists. This is what Britain gets, they say, for fighting Bushitler's war in Iraq & Afghanistan. The poor innocents in London suffer only because the poor innocents suffered in Kabul and Baghdad.

    This implies that if Great Britain didn't stand beside America, they'd be safe from terrorists. As Lee Corso would say, not so fast my historically ignorant friend. The Islamofascists have shown time and time again that they have a slew of justifications for the slaughter of civilians. If it wasn't Iraq or Afghanistan, they would have found another reason to be pissed at England. History paints a grim picture:

    When What Casualties Why
    1988 Pan Am Flight 103 270 dead US air strikes in Tripoli OR shooting down of Iranair 655
    2001 World Trade Center/Pentagon 3,000 killed US Troops in Saudi Arabia, Support for Israel
    2002 Bali 190 killed Australia's close relationship with the US, and its involvement in East Timor's transition to independence from Indonesia
    2004 Madrid 191 killed Spanish troops in Iraq
    2004 Theo Van Gogh 1 killed Angry over anti-fundamentalist film
    2004 Beslan 344 killed Russian occupation of Chechnya
    2005 London Unknown British troops in Iraq & Afghanistan

    And that's just the tip of the iceberg. The point is that these terrorists will never be satisfied. We cannot appease them enough. There will always be something. By our mere existence, by our freedoms, we're a perpetual threat to the way of life they'd impose on the world. If we pulled our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow, if we denounced Israel the next day and if we completely isolated ourselves and had no involvement with the Middle East at all, we'd still be the Great Satan. They'd still hate us. They'd just find a new justification. Instead of going after the World Trade Center, they'd go after Hollywood for exporting godless American infidel culture or they'd try to hit Wisconsin because they prophet certainly wouldn't approve of our beer production and consumption.

    The Islamofascists are like terrible two-year olds. We don't try to rationalize a toddler's tantrum and we shouldn't try to rationalize the actions of these evil terrorists either.

    Posted by at 09:47 PM | Comments (13)


    Machine Gunners Keeping DC's Metro Safe?

    [Posted by james]

    As a DC resident who rides the Metro daily, I'd like to say that this is wholly ridiculous and unnecessary:

    If there was a bomb planted on a train, what in the world would this man and his rifle do about it?

    Posted by jkhat at 07:39 PM | Comments (4)


    July 06, 2005

    The Top Ten Greatest Upsets of all Time

    [Posted by ]

    London's shocking win over Paris for the 2012 Olympics is being called one of the greatest upsets in sports history. That's more than a just little bit of hyperbole, but it did give me a good idea for a post. What are the ten greatest upsets (and not just in the sporting world)? Here's what I think:

    10. Let's just get it out of the way right now. The very term "upset" was popularized back in 1919 when the horse Upset defeated the great Man O'War at Saratoga, "the Graveyard of Favorites".

    9. Years from now, film fans will assume that "Saving Private Ryan" won a Best Picture Oscar. They'll be assuming wrong. Shockingly, that Oscar was won by the lightweight, if fun, "Shakespeare in Love". You forget about that movie 10 minutes after the end credits roll, but it's hard to forget the first half hour of "Saving Private Ryan".

    8. Think about the bravery of those men who signed the Declaration of Independence. We, of course, know that the American Revolution succeeded, but they didn't know it at the time. If the Revolution was lost, they would have been hanged as traitors. And victory was never a sure thing, after all Britain was the superpower of her time. In 1776:

    The outlook of the Continental Army — and thus the revolution itself — was bleak. "These are the times that try men's souls," wrote Thomas Paine, who was with the army on the retreat. The army had dwindled to fewer than 5,000 men fit for duty, and would be reduced to 1,400 after enlistments expired at the end of the year. Spirits were low, popular support was wavering, and Congress had abandoned Philadelphia in despair.

    But somehow (and with a little help from Washington and the French) the Americans won the war. Thanks to them, we're not all speaking English ;-)

    7. Before October of 1978, no one knew who the heck Karol Wojtyla was. But, in a huge upset, the papal conclave chose the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. To complete the surprise, John Paul II became one of the most famous and revered popes ever.

    6. Moving into the realm of reality TV, I think it's only fair to list Zach's victory in the Amazing Race 3 (which, by the way, you can watch in repeats starting Monday the 11th on the Game Show Network). Zach was able to win the race, despite being handicapped with a 100 pound weight on his back named Flo. Flo, who is probably very nice in person, turned into a quitting, shrieking harpy on the Race. She cried. She flayed. She threated to quit. She whined. Oh lord, how she whined. But somehow, someway, Zach got them both to the finish line first.

    5. Patrick Ewing's Georgetown Hoyas (what's a Hoya anyway? Is it like a Hodag?)were the defending NCAA basketball champs and were heavily favored over Villanova. But Villanova played a game for the ages. They shot an unbelievable 78.6% in the game to down Georgetown by 2 in a final for the ages.

    4. While the Chicago Tribune was busy making newspaper history, Harry Truman was busy campaigning against a "do nothing Congress" and defeating Thomas Dewey in our greatest Presidential election upset. Given his stature now, it's hard to believe Truman came so close to losing. Good thing he wasn't a Republican, or may he really would have "lost".

    3. When the mightly feared Spanish Armada was finally defeated, it wasn't a miracle. It was British seamanship, well, and maybe the weather too. In any case, Britain survived and Elizabeth's stirring words are those of a victor, not a vanquished queen:

    I am come amongst you as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved in the midst and heat of the battle to live or die amongst you all, to lay down for my God and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust.

    I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too.

    2. No list of great upsets is complete without a mention of David v. Goliath. With just a staff and five smooth stones, David felled the 9 1/2 foot tall Goliath. Just imagine what the guy could have done to Mike Tyson!

    1. What could top David? Well, the boys in red, white and blue do. The men from CCCP were unbeatable, or so all the experts said. Well, the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team proved that we don't need no stinkin' experts. Sometimes sheer desire and youth can prevail. The hockey team even gave hope to an America that was beaten down by the malaise of the Carter years.

    So, those are my greatest upsets of all time. Let the debate begin!

    Posted by at 10:44 PM | Comments (1)


    July 05, 2005

    Our Favorite American Vacation Spots

    [Posted by ]

    US News recently listed their top 20 American vacation spots. While their list had some of the usual suspects like the Grand Canyon, Hawaii and Yellowstone National Park, it doesn't have too many places off the beaten path. That's where we come in. With a little help from our friends here, we're happy to present our very own top 10 11 American vacation spots (in no particular order).

    1. There's no place like home. This is a picture of my mother's beautiful backyard in Wisconsin Rapids, WI. If you want a peaceful, easy feeling, you can't beat sitting on the deck and listening to nature all around you here.

    2. James suggests his now-native Washington, DC. You'll see the White House, the Capitol and many monuments. Visit Arlington Cemetery or travel 10 miles south to tour Mount Vernon. And, you can also add to James' annoyance and amusement by fumbling with your metro card, foolishly giving money to the homeless and getting yelled at for standing on the wrong side of the escalater. Sounds like a good time!

    3. Gulf Shores National Seashore, Alabama: beaches so white, they could be confused for snow drifts. Lots of places to stay and the warm Gulf of Mexico to swim in. As always, beware of sharks ;-)

    4. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness ,Minnesota: 4 million acres of wilderness and lakes untouched by anything with a motor (beyond the border lakes). Hear and see wolves, black bear, moose, bald eagles, and all the standard northern critters. A camper's paradise.

    5. One of my favorite places in the world is New Braunfels, Texas. Located in between San Antonio and Austin, this is the perfect place to escape the summer heat by rafting down the Guadalupe River. Then, once you're rested up, head to Gruene Hall and catch people like the Old 97's, Junior Brown and Delbert McClinton in concert in a place that's hosted many a musical legend.

    6. Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. While Chattanooga has it's share of tourists traps, Lookout Mountain is pretty cool. You can ride the Incline Railway to the top of the mountain and tour the area of the Civil War's "Battle Above the Clouds". Personally, I like to get in a little history with my scenery.

    7. Staying in Tennessee, I can't recommend Memphis enough. Sure, it's hot and humid in the summer, but after a few hours on Beale Street, you'll neither notice nor care. Go to Graceland if you must, but make sure you spend some time downtown. On Fridays, you can buy a wristband and drink, people watch and listen to music to your heart's content. Drag yourself out of bed Saturday morning and head over to the Peabody Hotel by 11 am to see the famous ducks march down to the hotel's fountain. It's weird, but worth it.

    8. Acadia National Park in Maine isn't really off the beaten path (lots of these places aren't), but it is wild and beautiful. While some people prefer sandy beaches, wild, rocky coastlines are what really get to me. Acadia has plenty of those, as well as Cadillac Mountain, lobsters galore and miles of great hiking trails.

    9. A continent away, La Jolla, California offers more in the way of wild waves and coastlines. It's no secret that I love La Jolla. It's beyond beautiful, has cool coves to explore, great little shops and at least one Mexican place that served some amazing fruit-infused tequila. If you're not in the mood for tequila, then relax at La Valencia Hotel's terrace and simply enjoy the view.

    10. Oddly enough, this list is pretty Wisconsin heavy. What can I say? We are, after all, God's country. While many people will turn their noses up at the Wisconsin Dells, I think that Noah's Ark can't be beat, especially if you have kids. It's America's largest waterpark and for $30 (note, you can get 10% off if you order your tickets online) you get an all-day unlimited pass. I think that's an incredible bargain. In recent years, the Dells have kind of classed themselves up. It's not all about mocassins anymore. The hotels are better, the casino is decent and I bet you can even find a good meal or two. It's not glamourous, but it's definitely fun.

    11. Finally, I'm going to put in a plug for my hometown, Madison, Wisconsin. Come here to see the most beautiful state Capitol in the country, stroll the Farmer's Market, have a brat, enjoy State Street and settle in for a beer on the University of Wisconsin's famous Union Terrace. Check it out, even in rainy weather, the Terrace is lovely. However, don't even think about trying to steal one of the sunburst chairs. Let me tell ya, it's been attempted by better people than you.

    I limited my list to 11, so I'm missing so many places I love, like the Austin Motel, the Wind Point, WI lighthouse, the Rockies and more. It just goes to show that there's more to America than big cities and Disneyland (thank God ;-). I'd love to hear some more of your favorite vacation spots, although I understand if ya'll want to keep some secret. After all, who wants a crowd?

    Posted by at 12:03 PM | Comments (2)


    July 02, 2005


    [Posted by Laura]

    I get a lot of email, and about 5% of it is actually worth reading. One mailing list that I'm on is Paul Jacob's "Common Sense." These are quick to read and often cause me to nod in agreement, or occasionally wonder if Paul's been out in the sun too long. Today's email, Champ Against the Bit, seemed particularly relevant since this is Independence Day weekend. It comments on the chilling effects of McCain-Feingold and now the FEC's contemplation of blog regulation. Paul says, "We must fight back. If the new regulations are indeed imposed, let's treat a single assault on a single Internet publisher for a single alleged free speech "transgression" as an assault on all of us. Therefore, as soon as one guy talking politics on the Net is targeted for having the wrong political opinion or linking to the wrong political website, every other concerned netizen should repeat the same violation. Let them bring up a million people on charges for talking out of turn, instead of just one. "

    Have we got the nerve to do it? Have I? Would I, for principle's sake, abandon my family to sit in a jail for the sake of a cause? Would I let my business collapse - this is a small business and it would take less than six months for that to happen - and have that, plus any legal bills that accrue, adversely affect my family? Would you? Would anyone?

    I've seen this all over the net for the last few years, and because I can't find the original author I'm including it here in full:

    What happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

    * Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.
    * Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned; two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.
    * Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
    * They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

    The price of freedom ran high for the Founding Fathers of the United States of America. What kind of men were they?

    Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means. They were well-educated, and signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

    Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

    Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

    Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

    At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr., noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He urged General George Washington to open fire, and the home was destroyed. Nelson died bankrupt.

    Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

    John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished.

    Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn't. Remember: freedom is never free!

    I don't know if I have the backbone to stand up for freedom of speech, for America. I won't know until the moment of decision actually comes. In spite of all the tough talk that is dished out from behind the safety of the keyboard, I suspect that most people do not. When I spoke about this to my husband he said it wouldn't be worth it to go to jail even for a few months, or risk financial hardship, because it wouldn't matter anyway. The media would spin it, or ignore it, and it would be a waste of time. Maybe so. Then too, he loves me and does not want to see me hurt for any reason, noble or not. But if we don't stand up, what price then? If we stand up and the media spins or ignores it, is the gesture any less noble for receiving a poor reception? Can we sit by and have our freedom of speech taken without even a protest? Are we still worthy to be called Americans?

    I hope that this Independence Day and in the months following as the FEC does whatever they decide to do, we all take a hard look at what we've become and consider what legacy we want to pass on to future generations.

    I have accepted a seat in the [Massachusetts] House of Representatives, and thereby have consented to my own ruin, to your ruin, and the ruin of our children. I give you this warning, that you may prepare your mind for your fate.
    John Adams, to Abigail Adams, May 1770

    It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.
    John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776

    Happy Independence Day.

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 01:14 PM | Comments (0)


    July 01, 2005

    Pelosi - Still an Idiot

    [Posted by Laura]

    With less command of how our governmental system works than a 9th grader who earned a C in his civics class, Pelosi proves once again that the terms "idiot" and "Democratic leadership" are redundant. It's been pointed out in several other places that she would not be so reverent toward a Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade. Still, it's nice to see a Democratic politician show a little reverence toward God for a change. But doesn't her statement violate the separation of church and state or something? Call the ACLU, let's get her removed from office.

    Another recent example:
    Mrs. Pelosi said it is past time that the administration established a policy on determining the fates of the detainees at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, arguing that most are from Afghanistan and that the conflict there has ended. "I assume that the war in Afghanistan is over, or is the contention that you have that it continues?" she said to a reporter.

    Radio Blogger has the audio here.

    The Black Republican suggests

    A retina scan for Nancy Pelosi, because we need to know that it is really her behind that surgically altered face, and not Kim Jong Il after a mug switch (ala Travolta and Cage in Face Off).

    Posted by Laura Curtis at 11:05 PM | Comments (2)


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