Saturday, December 31, 2005

Nine lives

Ahmed Chalabi rises again.
BAGHDAD, Dec. 30 -- As a fuel crisis deepened in Iraq, the government replaced its oil minister with controversial Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi, whose poor performance in the Dec. 15 elections was a setback in his recent attempt at political rehabilitation.
He provides BS about WMD, he spies for Iran, and he can't get anyone to support him at the polls, yet he now takes one of the top 3 important jobs in the whole country. Astounding.

Bushisms of 2005

Here is a list of amusing statements from the not-always super articulate Mr. Bush. Number 1 on the list is an easy guess and will live forever. My favorite and one that I had not heard before--
"See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda," Bush said in explaining his communications strategy last May.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Tiger fact

Link.
Stat of the week: The points difference between Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh at Nos. 1 and 2 in the world ranking is equal to the difference of Singh and Peter Lonard at No. 46.
I hope people appreciate how amazing this guy is.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Political cartoon of the day

Year in review

I have always enjoyed "year in review" type news specials and articles. Here are a couple from today.

Noonan: "'05's Big Five"

Broder: "A look back at year's errors, misjudgments on all fronts"

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Knee jerk libertarianism

I saw somewhere today (I can't find it now) an opinion that there was a "knee jerk libertarian" reaction by many to the domestic eavesdropping news. I won't object to that statement because it certainly describes my initial reaction.

My initial reaction has not changed significantly, but it has softened. Suffice to say that many opiners (with special mention to the authors of this column) caused me to rethink some issues. I will accept that this is a close call.

At this point, current policy is clear for the world: Bush is going to continue what he has been doing. If the policy is not a secret anymore anyway, I see no reason not to have a political debate about it and where to draw the very tricky line.

(For cross-post at Centerfield and comments posted there, click here.)

Eric Alterman is a putz

Link.
Daniel Dennett has some pretty smart and bold things to say here about why we need to make up God and religion and the like.
What an arrogant prick (I mean, putz).

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Discrimination in China

Link.

A rule that women applying for government jobs in central Hunan province had to show they had symmetrically shaped breasts sparked a public uproar last year and calls for stronger legal protection against job discrimination.

Hunan scrapped its requirement, but China still does not have clear-cut laws ruling out such hiring prejudices.

Ah, yes, a Worker's Paradise indeed.

A long fall

1987 World Series.

October 25, 1987 at Hubert H Humphery Metrodome (Minnesota Twins)

In the deciding game, neither team gave an inch. Though St. Louis came out with a 2-1 lead in the 2nd inning, the Twins marched back with runs in the 5th, 6th and 8th innings, and Twins closer Jeff Reardon came out in the 9th to bring down the curtain on the Cardinals, and on the '87 Series.

Career stats: 367 saves, 6th most all-time.

Yesterday.
Former major league pitcher Jeff Reardon is charged with robbing a Palm Beach Gardens jewelry store.

Police said the 50 year old walked into Hamilton Jewelers at the Gardens Mall about 11:50 a.m Monday.

He's accused of handing an employee a note that said he had a gun and the store was being robbed.

Reardon fled the store with an undisclosed amount of cash. Police found him at a nearby restaurant, recovered the stolen money and charged him with armed robbery.
How sad.

Chutzpah

Story.
GAZA (Reuters) - The Palestinian mastermind of the Munich Olympics attack in which 11 Israeli athletes died said on Tuesday he had no regrets and that Steven Spielberg's new film about the incident would not deliver reconciliation. . .

Mohammed Daoud planned the Munich attack on behalf of PLO splinter group Black September, but did not take part and does not feature in the film.

He voiced outrage at not being consulted for the thriller and accused Spielberg of pandering to the Jewish state.

I must say that I am surprised that the Israelis did not take this guy out a long time ago.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Fundraiser for cancer

If you are a regular visitor here, you know that Paula, my assistant, passed away last week from complications from lung cancer that was discovered only earlier this month. The tragedy was compounded by the fact that she was so young.

Paula was the happiest, most optimistic person around and she had a gift for causing her happiness and optimism to infect those around her.

In honor of Paula and in connection with my relatively last minute decision to participate in the Phoenix Marathon next month, I am going to raise funds for American Cancer Society. I have set a goal of raising $5,000.

If you are able and willing, please click here to make a donation.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Moving towards acceptance

Paula's funeral was today. It appropriately focusd on celebrating her life more than mourning her death. The personal statements were all unbelievably moving. And the crowd was big.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Good legal case, bad political case

Cheney.
He said he believes the American people support President Bush’s terror-fighting strategy. “If there’s a backlash pending,” because of reports of National Security Agency surveillance of calls originating within the United States, he said, “I think the backlash is going to be against those who are suggesting somehow that we shouldn’t take these steps to defend the country.”

Cheney talked about terrorism and national security amid a burgeoning controversy at home over President Bush’s acknowledgment of a four-year-old administration program to eavesdrop — without court-approved warrants — on international calls and e-mails of Americans and others inside the United States with suspected ties to the terrorist network al-Qaida.
Poll.

President Bush's approval rating has surged in recent weeks, reversing what had been an extended period of decline, with Americans now expressing renewed optimism about the future of democracy in Iraq, the campaign against terrorism and the U.S. economy, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News Poll.

Bush's overall approval rating rose to 47 percent, from 39 percent in early November, with 52 percent saying they disapprove of how he is handling his job. His approval rating on Iraq jumped 10 percentage points since early November, to 46 percent, while his rating on the economy rose 11 points, to 47 percent. A clear majority, 56 percent, said they approve of the way Bush is handling the fight against terrorism -- a traditional strong point in his reputation that nonetheless had flagged to 48 percent in the November poll.

My initial reaction has not changed and, in fact, I became even more skeptical of Bush's eavesdropping arguments than ever once I learned that the court approval could be sought retroactively if he were willing to follow the letter of the law. This is a debate worth having and an investigation and congressional hearings are warranted.

Still, most people seem to think (1) I'm not a bad guy so the government isn't listening to my conversations, and/or (2) I'm not doing anything wrong so I wouldn't care if the government did listen to my conversations. Add that general indifference to the Cheney drumbeat (“it’s not an accident that we haven’t been hit in four years”), and the good legal arguments against Bush are likely to be overwhelmed politically by the fact that a core segment of the American public does not take for granted that we haven't had a building, a bridge or an airplane blown up recently.

The Democrats should win the battle over the legal issue on the merits, but Bush seems unlikely to be punished politically as a result.

Intelligent design

Story.

HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- A Pennsylvania school district cannot teach in science classes a concept that says some aspects of science were created by a supernatural being, a federal judge has ruled.

In an opinion issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge John Jones ruled that teaching "intelligent design" would violate the Constitutional separation of church and state.

"We have concluded that it is not [science], and moreover that ID cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents," Jones writes in his 139-page opinion posted on the court's Web site. (Opinion, pdf)

"To be sure, Darwin's theory of evolution is imperfect. However, the fact that a scientific theory cannot yet render an explanation on every point should not be used as a pretext to thrust an untestable alternative hypothesis grounded in religion into the science classroom or to misrepresent well-established scientific propositions," Jones writes.

Another activist judge. Thank goodness.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Hearts and minds

Story.
Long a stronghold for Islamic extremists and the world's second-most populous Muslim nation, Pakistanis now hold a more favorable opinion of the U.S. than at any time since 9/11, while support for al Qaeda in its home base has dropped to its lowest level since then. The direct cause for this dramatic shift in Muslim opinion is clear: American humanitarian assistance for Pakistani victims of the Oct. 8 earthquake that killed 87,000. The U.S. pledged $510 million for earthquake relief in Pakistan and American soldiers are playing a prominent role in rescuing victims from remote mountainous villages.
Story.
In Tal Afar, according to the president, military success had been followed by the restoration of law and order and the implementation of reconstruction projects to give "hope" to its citizens. . .

More remarkably, the approach of an American military convoy brings people out to wave and even clap, something not seen since the invasion of spring 2003 that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Kick in the stomach (part 3)

A little over two weeks after my relatively young assistant was diagnosed with lung cancer, she passed away on Friday night. Not surprisingly, I am feeling more "ba humbug" than "Merry Christmas" at the moment.

I am going to be staging a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society in her honor in connection with my participation in the Phoenix Marathon next month. Please check back this week for more details if you would be willing to make a contribution.

UPDATE: The obituary is here.

Kristof

Many times in the past I have sung the praises of Nicholas Kristof. Here is another spot on piece from him (excerpt only is available unless you are willing to pay the NY Times for the privilege of access to the whole article).

Look, I put up a “Christmas tree,” rather than a “holiday tree,” and I’m sure Mr. O’Reilly is right that political correctness leads to absurd contortions this time of year. But when you’ve seen what real war does, you don’t lightly use the word to describe disagreements about Christmas greetings. And does it really make sense to offer 58 segments on political correctness and zero on genocide?

Perhaps I’m particularly sensitive to religious hypocrites because I’ve spent a chunk of time abroad watching Muslim versions of Mr. O’Reilly - demagogic table-thumpers who exploit public religiosity as a cynical ploy to gain attention and money. And I always tell moderate Muslims that they need to stand up to blustery blowhards - so today, I’m taking my own advice.

Like the fundamentalist Islamic preachers, Mr. O’Reilly is a talented showman, and my sense is that his ranting is a calculated performance. The couple of times I’ve been on his show, he was mild mannered and amiable until the camera light went on - and then he burst into aggrieved indignation, because he knew it made good theater.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Eavesdropping

My gut reaction is that this whole eavesdropping thing is no good. This is a slippery slope.

John Spencer - RIP

I liked John Spencer in L.A. Law, the Negotiator and, most recently, the West Wing. Last year he had a heart attack in his role as Leo McGarry. Yesterday he had a heart attack for real. Shame.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Meaningless poll

This poll is meaningless because of the timing, but the results are interesting nevertheless.

(CNN) -- If the results of a recent poll pan out, voters will see two big names from the Big Apple on the ballot in November 2008.

Those names are Sen. Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican.

The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Thursday indicated Clinton and Giuliani were the early favorites to win their respective party's nomination.

But those polled said they believe the former first lady would have a smoother path to the nomination than her GOP counterpart. . .

Clinton snared the majority of the Democratic voters polled. And with more than two years before the primaries, she was ahead of her two nearest potential competitors by nearly 30 percentage points.

Giuliani, on the other hand, edged out Sen. John McCain of Arizona by only 8 percentage points, 30-22.

Another 18 percent of those polled selected Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, despite her repeated assertion that she has no plans to run.

Picture of the day

Thursday, December 15, 2005

McCain and torture ban

McCain.
"We've sent a message to the world that the United States is not like the terrorists. We have no grief for them, but what we are is a nation that upholds values and standards of behavior and treatment of all people, no matter how evil or bad they are," McCain said. "I think that this will help us enormously in winning the war for the hearts and minds of people throughout the world in the war on terror."
This is good policy and important to shore up our international support. It also another amazing political feat by John McCain. He is the right man for "The Job" when it is open in 2008. I have never been involved in campaigning of any sort but, if* McCain runs, I may break that streak.

* I don't think that there is any doubt that he intends to run right now, but a lot of things can happen in 2-3 years, particularly when you are in your 70s.

Quote of the day

From Morgan Freeman.
NEW YORK - Morgan Freeman says the concept of a month dedicated to black history is "ridiculous."

"You're going to relegate my history to a month?" the 68-year-old actor says in an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes" to air Sunday (7 p.m. EST). "I don't want a black history month. Black history is American history." . . .

The actor says he believes the labels "black" and "white" are an obstacle to beating racism.

"I am going to stop calling you a white man and I'm going to ask you to stop calling me a black man," Freeman says.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What is in the water in Massachusetts?

I guess there must be some rule that if you are elected Governor of or a Senator from Massachusetts, you are required to make a bid for President. The latest is here.

The day has arrived

Polls will open soon and I am optimistic that things are going to go well. It appears that Sunnis have made a collective decision to participate in the voting this time and, for reasons I don't really understand given their brutality and indiscriminate killing up to now, at least some of the Sunni insurgent groups have promised not to attack polling stations.

Anyway, this chart explains what Iraq's new government will look like on New Year's Eve.






















Source: MSNBC.com

Enough about that. I need to go find out more about how Bush lied about WMDs in Iraq so that he could start a war in which we would never find WMDs because he just assumed that no one would notice.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Monday, December 12, 2005

It ain't all bad

Howard Dean says.
The "idea that we're going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong."
But wait.

Dec. 12, 2005 — Surprising levels of optimism prevail in Iraq with living conditions improved, security more a national worry than a local one, and expectations for the future high. But views of the country's situation overall are far less positive, and there are vast differences in views among Iraqi groups — a study in contrasts between increasingly disaffected Sunni areas and vastly more positive Shiite and Kurdish provinces.

An ABC News poll in Iraq, conducted with Time magazine and other media partners, includes some remarkable results: Despite the daily violence there, most living conditions are rated positively, seven in 10 Iraqis say their own lives are going well, and nearly two-thirds expect things to improve in the year ahead.
Sounds to me like success may be more likely than ever right now, despite the gigantic screwups that have occurred along the way.

December 15 is going to be a very big day.

I guess I am an elitist . . .

. . . because I think that this guy, who purports to describe life on the farm in Georgia generally, is a Deliverance-style deviant.

Picture of the day

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ramius' angel






























Last July, Thor got sick and we didn't know what was wrong for sure, but it seemed like he might die very quickly. He lasted 2 months. We soon started the search for a new puppy. My wife was very interested in a Whippet. My son wanted a Golden Retriever. In the end, there was no conflict because there was not a Whippet available within 500 miles, as far as we could tell. So we got Fenton, and he has been and will always be a great and obedient dog.

As I wrote here, our other dog, 10 year old Ramius, developed a lump on his chest just before Thanksgiving and was soon diagnosed with cancer. We were told that he would most likely live 1 to 2 weeks. The day after his diagnosis, a local Whippet breeder called and told us that a puppy had become available. He said the pick of his August litter, a dog he had selected specially for his aunt, had been returned because of a changed living circumstance for his aunt. Were we interested?

Feelings of fate overcame feelings of guilt of even considering a new dog just when Ramius needs more of our attention, and we went to see the puppy and her breeder on Thanksgiving morning. Named "Crimson" for her red coloring, she was so sweet and loving and, best of all, she went into a very calm mode within minutes of the arrival of 4 new people, including 2 children. She is just a few weeks younger than Fenton, and was born on the day before my daughter's birthday.

We decided that there was an element of fate that was too strong to ignore, but told the breeder that our major problem was that Ramius was sick and that we thought that he needed our attention right now. We thought that it might be unfair to Ramius to bring the second new center of attention in 2 months into the house just as he was going to start getting worse. He understood completely, and we agreed that we would wait 3 weeks to pick up the dog.

After Ramius made it through the first week of his death sentence in good shape, we decided to bring the Whippet home a week earlier than planned. We renamed her "Scarlett," and she immediately fit in perfectly. She plays rough with Fenton. She is generally very calm (when not playing with Fenton). She sits in the kids' laps. She is already sleeping through the night in my daughter's bed and they snuggle all night. And she loves Ramius.

As the pictures above indicate, Ramius has a new best friend. Rather than make his final days less pleasant (as we feared it might), it appears that the arrival of Scarlett was a very positive thing. Oh, and today marks the start of the fourth week since he was diagnosed. At this point, I'm going to predict that Ramius' new little angel is going to help him get through the end of the year.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Pat Oliphant is a putz

I used to appreciate Oliphant's cleverness, but he has unmistakeably moved from an interesting liberal cartoonist to a blind anti-Bush propagandist. How do we know that his transformation is complete? Click here. Hint: Bush = Hitler.

Holiday link

"It's a Wonderful Life" in 30 seconds reenacted by bunnies.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Picture of the day

Jaywalking in D.C.

For whatever reason, I have a vivid memory of the warning I received during orientation at college in Washington, D.C. regarding how aggressively the D.C. police ticket for jaywalking. But I never believed that they would be this strict.
WASHINGTON - A 73-year-old man who received a $5 jaywalking ticket after he was struck by a car later died from his injuries, police said Monday. . .

Although witnesses said he was badly injured and unresponsive at the scene, police issued him the ticket. His family found it with his belongings when they went to the hospital.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Kick in the stomach (Part 2)

I finally was able to speak with my secretary today, and I had hoped to get some news that would allow for optimism. I didn't get it. She is in stage 4 of lung cancer. (See here for information on stages of lung cancer.) I can only imagine how scared she must be.

I suspect that light blogging will continue this week as my thoughts are mostly elsewhere right now.

Stupid criminal of the day (personal edition)

Last week, my wife was having lunch with a friend. During lunch the manager approached and asked the friend whether she still had her billfold. She checked and it was, in fact, gone. The manager called the police and the rest of the story turned into a column in the StarTribune. See here.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Kick in the stomach

My secretary has been sick for about 4 weeks. The original diagnosis was pneumonia. Then it switched to "we don't know." The word today: lung cancer.

Crap.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Headline of the day

Will Bush heed his call to (jury) service?

Light blogging

As you may have noticed, blogging has been lighter than usual this week. Work demands have kept me from spending much time this week exploring the wonders of the Internet. Next week should be better.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ted Rall is a putz (part 500)


Link.

An important message . . .

. . . from my favorite Democratic Senator. (Link)
I have just returned from my fourth trip to Iraq in the past 17 months and can report real progress there. More work needs to be done, of course, but the Iraqi people are in reach of a watershed transformation from the primitive, killing tyranny of Saddam to modern, self-governing, self-securing nationhood--unless the great American military that has given them and us this unexpected opportunity is prematurely withdrawn. . .

It is a war between 27 million and 10,000; 27 million Iraqis who want to live lives of freedom, opportunity and prosperity and roughly 10,000 terrorists who are either Saddam revanchists, Iraqi Islamic extremists or al Qaeda foreign fighters who know their wretched causes will be set back if Iraq becomes free and modern. The terrorists are intent on stopping this by instigating a civil war to produce the chaos that will allow Iraq to replace Afghanistan as the base for their fanatical war-making. We are fighting on the side of the 27 million because the outcome of this war is critically important to the security and freedom of America. If the terrorists win, they will be emboldened to strike us directly again and to further undermine the growing stability and progress in the Middle East, which has long been a major American national and economic security priority.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Second football thought of the day

Despite the general parity in the NFL in recent years, there have been many years in which a particular team has been dominant and seemed destined to win it all long before the playoffs began. E.g., '85-86 Bears, '86-87 Giants, numerous 49ers teams, and '99-00 Rams. (Of course, the '98-99 Vikings were the choke exception).

This year, the Colts look invincible. The offense is amazingly consistent, and the defense is well above average. At this point, I would take the Colts against the rest of the league in a Super Bowl bet.

Identifying the problem

This passage from an article reporting on Detroit Lions' GM Matt Millen's decision to fire Steve Mariucci as head coach makes me think that Millen must have pictures of the Lions' owner doing inappropriate things to little boys.
Millen hired both Mariucci and his predecessor, Marty Mornhinweg, and drafted or signed most of the players currently on the Lions -- and Detroit is an NFL-worst 20-55 since 2001. Millen, a former NFL linebacker and TV analyst was given a five-year extension before this season.

More legal woes

Another Republican is in deep legal trouble.

(CNN) -- Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham said Monday he is resigning from Congress after pleading guilty to taking more than $2 million in bribes in a criminal conspiracy involving at least three defense contractors. . .

Prosecutors said Cunningham had taken bribes from contractors, which enabled him to buy a mansion, a suburban Washington condominium, a yacht and a Rolls Royce.

The Republican party has a growing image problem. I'm with those who think 2006 is going to be a very good year for Democrats at the polls.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Congratulations

The Wayzata Trojans are state football champions for the first time. The team lost in the championship game last year, and played all year like they had something to prove. Well, they proved it.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Local news

I stopped watching local news many years ago. Still, every once in a while it comes on after a football game or something and I catch a minute or two before I reach for the remote. Such was the case today, and I saw part of the weather report. Since we got some snow today, I paid a little attention to find out if we can expect more. After about 2 minutes of telling me exactly how much snow every suburb got, the weather guy says "and stay tuned for the forecast, which I will be back with in about 10 minutes." Are you kidding me?

With the Internet, I find it unbelievable that enough people still watch the crap that is local news on any type of regular basis for it to remain viable.

Perfect record intact

Today I kept my perfect record alive of not going shopping on Black Friday. (The phrase "I'd rather light my hair on fire" comes to mind.) Nevertheless, as my contribution to the economy, I ordered a new notebook computer from Dell, and the price was better than anyI saw in the ads yesterday.

Mike Brown

I have spent very little time on the computer over the last couple of days, but I am going to go out on a limb and guess that this story is being ridiculed far and wide.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Turkeys of the Year

The Vikings sex party made #4 on SI.com's Turkeys of the Year list, just surpassing the Vikings' Onterrio Smith, who (along with his Whizzinator) made #5 on the list. In a desperate attempt to distract attention from those (dis)honors, I will draw attention to #12 on the list and a story I had not previously heard.
In maybe this year's most outrageous example of bad sportsmanship, Downs, a tee ball coach from suburban Pittsburgh, allegedly offered one of his players $25 to bean an autistic teammate during warm-ups, just to keep the kid off the field.

Packer hater

Despite their recent resurgence, it seems clear that even if the Vikings make the playoffs they will be quickly eliminated. Nevertheless, a victory over the Packers is always special because of how much it gets to their players and their obnoxious fans. Quotes like this are extra nice.
"This one may be the worst because No. 1, it was Minnesota; No. 2, it was at home; and No. 3, it was Minnesota again," said Green Bay defensive end Aaron Kampman.
Heh.

I must be crazy

We have rescheduled our trip to Arizona for a week in January that includes the Martin Luther King holiday. It turns out that the Phoenix Marathon is that weekend so, in an act of craziness, I signed up.

I suspect that I am going to find this experience different from my experience at the Twin Cities Marathon in October for several reasons. First, I can be certain it won't be humid. Second, the atmosphere is likely to be quite different given that, with 30,000 participants, the field for the Phoenix Marathon will be 3 times the size as the field for the Twin Cities Marathon, and there will be 26 rock n' roll bands stationed throughout the course. Third, the course is flat. (The evil part of the Twin Cities Marathon is that miles 20-23 are steeply uphill.)

At least I can be reasonably assured that I won't gain weight this holiday season.

UPDATE: I was wrong about the number of participants in the Phoenix Marathon. Turns out the 30,000 number that I had seen was for both the marathon and 1/2 marathon. See here. The field for the marathon is going to be only slightly larger than the 10,500 field for the Twin Cities Marathon.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Deja vu















As far as I am concerned, the number one reason not to have pets (and a reason that is outweighed by everything else) is that pets die.

And that sucks.

In 2002, we had two cats and two dogs. We lost one of the cats that summer. Then the other cat had to be put down in 2003. And just 2 and 1/2 months ago, we lost our dog Thor to what we assume was cancer. See post here. Our dog Ramius (pictured here) was the last one standing.

Ramius has always been reclusive and timid. Despite his 114 pounds, he is scared of his own shadow and typically spends all of his time hiding out in the living room. Last week, he started coming into the family room and seeking out attention. The only other time he had done that consistently was right before Thor's sickness became apparent. Then, last Thursday, we noticed a baseball size lump on Ramius' chest that had developed since he had been to the groomer just a couple of weeks before. That could not be good.

Today the vet tests confirmed that he has cancer, and it has attached to his heart and lungs. There are no realistic treatment options. The vet says 1 to 2 weeks is her best guess regarding how much time he has left.

We have canceled our Thanksgiving trip to Arizona and will spend what quality time we can with him over the next (hopefully) several days. The weird part is that outwardly, he seems fine. But we know that won't last.

And that sucks.

Chris Matthews is a putz

Quote.
If we stop trying to figure out the other side, we've given up. The person on the other side is not evil. They just have a different perspective.
A different perspective? Remember this, Chris?

Political earthquake in Israel

Story.
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- In what some observers are calling a "huge political earthquake" for Israel, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has resigned from the right-wing Likud party he helped found -- the next step in his plan to form a new center party. . .

After resigning, Sharon met with potential members of his new party, which would be called the National Responsibility Party.
Obviously, the successful establishment of a new party is much easier to accomplish in a parliamentary system, but I like the precedent as well as the new party's name.

(For cross-post at Centerfield and comments posted there, click here.)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Please, oh please, be true

Report: al-Zarqawi may have been killed in Mosul

UPDATE: Hmm. Is this just a coincidence?
AMMAN, Jordan - Family members of Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi renounced the terrorist leader Sunday after his al-Qaida in Iraq group claimed responsibility for the Nov. 9 suicide attacks on three Amman hotels that killed 59 people. . .

The statement is a serious blow to al-Zarqawi, who no longer will enjoy the protection of his tribe and whose family members may seek to kill him.
Makes one wonder about a tipoff.

Korea

Here is a thought provoking piece authored by a good friend's father. The conclusion:
Americans can be justly proud of their past relationship to a South Korea that has risen in half a century from a war-ravaged land to one that leads the world in stem cell research and high-speed Internet access. It also is "one of Asia's most successful democracies," as Bush declared this week.

The challenge now is to learn to live with it.

Letdown

Link.

The Gophers brought home the Little Brown Jug after its 19-year residency in Ann Arbor. They beat Purdue for the first time in 10 seasons. They won at Indiana for the first time since 1985.

Saturday in Iowa City, Minnesota has a chance to do something perhaps even more remarkable.

"We definitely have a lot on the line" . . .

If the Gophers want to be somewhere warmer [for a bowl game this year], they'd better beat Iowa.

So I decided to go to the gym and watch the first part of the game during my workout yesterday. Here is what I saw in that hour.

Minnesota . . . never recovered after falling behind 35-0 less than 25 minutes into the game.

Being a sports fan really sucks sometimes.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

A useful political stunt

Story.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The House late Friday overwhelmingly rejected calls for an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq, a vote engineered by the Republicans that was intended to fail.

Democrats derided the vote as a political stunt. . .

The House voted 403-3 to reject a nonbinding resolution calling for an immediate troop withdrawal.

Of course this was a political stunt by the Republicans in that the resolution offered was not what Rep. Murtha had proposed. But it nevertheless served a very useful purpose. It sent a clear message to our enemies that, although we fight like crazy amongst ourselves, they should not draw the wrong conclusions from those fights. The bottom line is that a withdrawal of troops ain't going to happen until we have concluded (accurately or not) that Iraq can stand on its own two feet.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

John McCain: another home run

I would sure feel better if John McCain were in charge right now. Here is a taste from his most recent pronouncement.

Think about this for a moment. Imagine Iraqis, working for the new government, considering whether to join the police force, or debating whether or not to take up arms. What will they think when they read that the Senate is pressing for steps toward draw-down?

Are they more or less likely to side with a government whose No. 1 partner hints at leaving?

The Senate has responded to the millions who braved bombs and threats to vote, who put their faith and trust in America and their government, by suggesting that our No. 1 priority is to bring our people home.

We have told insurgents that their violence does grind us down, that their horrific acts might be successful. But these are precisely the wrong messages. Our exit strategy in Iraq is not the withdrawal of our troops, it is victory.

Honor me

Link.
The 2006 Labor-HHS-Education conference report names new CDC buildings after chairman Arlen Specter and ranking member Tom Harkin. The relevant text:
SEC. 221. (a) The Headquarters and Emergency Operations Center Building (Building 21) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is hereby renamed as the Arlen Specter Headquarters and Emergency Operations Center. (b) The Global Communications Center Building (Building 19) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is hereby renamed as the Thomas R. Harkin Global Communications Center.
I wish I was surprised, but I'm not.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Paying for good news reporting

Wow, this is embarrassing on multiple levels.
Newark Mayor Sharpe James and the city council have found a way to buy good news.

The council has hired a fledgling newspaper called Newark Weekly News to publish "positive news" about the city -- and will pay $100,000 over the next year for it.
Obviously, a city needs to promote itself and spend money doing so. But paying an independent publication to do nothing but write puff pieces is just sad.

NY Times on Alito

The NY Times has an hysterical editorial about Alito today that includes the following statement:
Judge Samuel Alito Jr.'s insistence that the Constitution does not protect abortion rights is not the only alarming aspect of a newly released memo he wrote in 1985. That statement strongly suggests that Judge Alito is far outside the legal mainstream . . .
That is just ridiculous. Many pro-choice people like myself find Roe v. Wade difficult to defend as a matter of constitutional law. For example --

Laurence Tribe — Harvard Law School. Lawyer for Al Gore in 2000.

“One of the most curious things about Roe is that, behind its own verbal smokescreen, the substantive judgment on which it rests is nowhere to be found.”

“The Supreme Court, 1972 Term—Foreword: Toward a Model of Roles in the Due Process of Life and Law,” 87 Harvard Law Review 1, 7 (1973).


Ruth Bader Ginsburg — Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Roe, I believe, would have been more acceptable as a judicial decision if it had not gone beyond a ruling on the extreme statute before the court. … Heavy-handed judicial intervention was difficult to justify and appears to have provoked, not resolved, conflict.”

North Carolina Law Review, 1985


Edward Lazarus — Former clerk to Harry Blackmun.

. . . .

“[A]s a matter of constitutional interpretation, even most liberal jurisprudes — if you administer truth serum — will tell you it is basically indefensible.”

Liberals, Don’t Make Her an IconWashington Post July 10, 2003.


There may be good reasons to oppose Alito, but the NY Times editorial board offers only hyperbole.

It is like deja vu . . .

. . . all over again.

Stupid lawsuit of the day

Link.
STUART — A former First National Bank and Trust customer filed a lawsuit against the bank in Martin Circuit Court Wednesday, asking for $2 million to compensate for stress and pain he said he suffered over an overdraft charge on his account. . .

He asked for millions, saying a few hundred thousand dollars would be a slap on the wrist to the bank and it deserved to be "paddled."
I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this guy is pro se.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Stupid criminal of the day

Link.
Authorities on Monday said they have shut down a ring responsible for up to 10 percent of all counterfeit money in Arizona. . .

However, investigators did say an Avondale couple arrested in the scheme tripped up when they sent a printer, which was jammed with counterfeit bills, out for repair.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Baby step in China

We should applaud every step toward openness in China. In Gorbachev's Soviet Union, steps like this led to the eventual collapse of the system.

BEIJING, Nov. 14 - Despite strong internal opposition, China's Communist Party will officially restore later this week the reputation of a liberal-leaning party leader whose death in 1989 helped spark pro-democracy protests, according to people informed about the plans.

The party has not publicly honored the late leader, Hu Yaobang, since his death in April 1989 gave rise to student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. Those protests, targeting corruption, inflation and political repression, persisted until the Chinese army violently suppressed them on June 4 of that year.

Headline of the day

Thai Tourists Warned Of Sedative-Spitting Transvestites

Iraq, the Democrats and 2008

John Edwards has decided to stake first claim to the anti-war territory among legitmate Democratic contenders in 2008 who also voted to authorize the war.
I was wrong. . .

It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn't make a mistake -- the men and women of our armed forces and their families -- have performed heroically and paid a dear price.
As time passes, it will be interesting to watch how Clinton, Kerry, Bayh and Biden handle the issue of their votes to authorize the war.

Meanwhile, Feingold's vote against the war means he can run an "I told you so" campaign that will make it more difficult for the other candidates to make deep inroads with the growing anti-war portion of the electorate. In fact, George Will is already touting McCain vs. Feingold as an ideal matchup. I find it hard to disagree. It would look a lot like the seemingly impossible fictional campaign on the West Wing right now.

A close call

Although I'm not religious, sometimes I do feel like a higher power is watching over our family.

Today, my daughter was showing symptoms of pink eye so we took her to the office with us. I was ready to take her home again this morning when we decided that she was probably fine so we took her to day care. Day care called after about an hour and said that she was rubbing her eye constantly and we needed to get her. We brought her back to the office for a while (where she never once touched her eye and looked fine), after which I decided to bring her home and to work from here.

When I opened the front door to let the dog out immediately after we got home, there was a huge cloud of smoke and I looked down to see that the electrical cord from the transformer for our low-voltage yard lights, which rests against the side of the house, was smoldering. I quickly unplugged it and poured water on the cord.

I have no doubt in my mind that if I didn't come home early, the fire department would have been trying to save our house about this time. Yikes.

Battle looming

Until this morning, I would have guessed that the Alito hearings would be Roberts-esque and that he would be confirmed by a Roberts-esque type vote. I am now reconsidering.
Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, wrote that "the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion" in a 1985 document obtained by The Washington Times.

"I personally believe very strongly" in this legal position, Mr. Alito wrote on his application to become deputy assistant to Attorney General Edwin I. Meese III.

The document, which is likely to inflame liberals who oppose Judge Alito's nomination to the Supreme Court, is among many that the White House will release today from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
The Democrats are going to go ballistic over this.

A Minnesota fall

You gotta love the unpredicatability of fall in Minnesota. Three days ago, it was 64 degrees and sunny. Now this.

The Twin Cities area is in the path of "significant snow," the National Weather Service said today - prompting a winter storm watch tonight into Tuesday evening.

Snow accumulations of 4 to 8 inches are possible in Minnesota by Wednesday morning, forecasters said. The snow will be accompanied by gusty northwest winds increasing to around 30 miles per hour by Tuesday night.

I guess it is time to put the golf clubs away.

Pat Robertson is a putz

I can't keep up with all of the stupid things that Pat Robertson says. Here is one from last week that I had missed.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Conservative Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson told citizens of a Pennsylvania town that they had rejected God by voting their school board out of office for supporting "intelligent design" and warned them Thursday not to be surprised if disaster struck. . .

"I'd like to say to the good citizens of Dover: if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city," Robertson said on his daily television show broadcast from Virginia, "The 700 Club."

"And don't wonder why He hasn't helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I'm not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that's the case, don't ask for His help because he might not be there," he said.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Ugly victory

The Vikings just won against the Giants on a last second field goal. It was the first time the offense scored all day, as the teams' 3 touchdowns all came from special teams and the defense. But it was still nice given that the Giants have had the Vikings' number for many years.

There has been little from which to take pleasure this season for a Vikings fan. Today was a little something.

Headline of the day

1,100 Lawyers Leave Saddam Defense Team

He had 1,100 lawyers?

5 questions

These are all good questions for Muslims.

A strange strategy


Link.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veterans Day

In case you didn't know the history, here is some background.

World War I officially ended on June 28, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The actual fighting between the Allies and Germany, however, had ended seven months earlier with the armistice, which went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. Armistice Day, as November 11 became known, officially became a holiday in the United States in 1926, and a national holiday 12 years later. On June 1, 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans.

In 1968, new legislation changed the national commemoration of Veterans Day to the fourth Monday in October. It soon became apparent, however, that November 11 was a date of historic significance to many Americans. Therefore, in 1978 Congress returned the observance to its traditional date.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Getting rid of stuff

We are lucky in that our city has an annual "take (almost) anything" trash pickup day in the spring. It really encourages major spring cleaning efforts. We also have a recycling center in Hennepin County that will take everything else. But there is always a bunch of stuff for which it would seem a shame to send to a landfill just because we don't use it anymore. In fact, in the last couple of months we have stockpiled in the garage old vacuums, computer equipment, and other electronics with the hope that we might find someone who might be able to use them.

Leaving City Hall on Tuesday after voting I picked up a brochure for www.twincitiesfreemarket.org, which has this mission statement: "The Free Market is a listing service for residents who want to give or get free reusable goods for the home, garage and garden. It is part of an effort to reduce the amount of reusable goods being thrown away."

Last night, I listed everything we had in the garage and within 2 hours I had to de-list every single item because I was overwhelmed with emails. By the weekend, everything should be out of my garage and in the hands of people who have indicated that they can really use the stuff. I feel good about that, and recommend this approach as both painless and guilt-reducing for my fellow environmentalists.

What took so long?

al-Zarqawi's slaughters have been focused on Arabs for months. Finally, organized pushback.

AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- Three terror bombings that killed at least 56 people in Jordan's capital sparked furious protests against al Qaeda on Thursday after a Web site carried a claim that the group was behind the attacks.

Jordanians flooded Amman blaring car horns and waving the nation's flag to protest the suicide attacks at three hotels with Western connections.

Hundreds of angry Jordanians rallied, shouting, "Burn in hell, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi!" after the claim of responsibility was posted.

Maybe Arabs will finally start to realize in significant numbers that the sooner that al-Zarqawi is defeated, the sooner the U.S. will leave Iraq.

Secret pay raise

Politics can be so entertaining. Link.

The mayor and council that repeatedly insist City Hall is far more transparent under their watch voted themselves a 12.25% wage hike in secret six weeks ago.

What's as scandalous is that many councillors say they don't remember voting for their own wage hikes. They contend the motion was buried in a confidential report on salary increases for non-union staff adopted at the September council meeting -- after being rubber-stamped in secret at the executive committee a week earlier.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Update

Referring to my post below, some days are both good days and bad days.

Deadly explosions rock hotels in Jordan

Good days

There are good days and bad days in the WOT. Today has been a good day.
JAKARTA, Indonesia - One of Asia's most wanted terrorists, accused of plotting a series of deadly bombings in Bali, is believed to have blown himself up Wednesday to escape capture by a U.S.-trained elite police unit who attacked his Indonesian hideout, the national police chief said. Two other suspected militants also died in the blast.

If Azahari bin Husin's death is confirmed, it would be another major blow to the al-Qaida-linked network Jemaah Islamiyah, already weakened by a region-wide crackdown that followed the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. Scores of militants have been arrested and thrown in jail.

That news follows up on the good news from yesterday.
Australian police say they have foiled a terrorist attack in the final stages of its preparation, after 16 people were arrested in Sydney and Melbourne.

New South Wales police chief Ken Moroney said a "potentially catastrophic attack" had been averted.
Setting aside Iraq for the moment, everyone should be able to recognize that the international counter-terrorism cooperation efforts are reaping rewards and saving lives.

Fiscal sanity

The trends with the annual deficit and aggregate national debt have to be reversed or we are in for some serious problems. Consider this.
WASHINGTON D.C.- President George W. Bush and the current administration have now borrowed more money from foreign governments and banks than the previous 42 U.S. presidents combined.

Throughout the first 224 years (1776-2000) of our nation’s history, 42 U.S. presidents borrowed a combined $1.01 trillion from foreign governments and financial institutions according to the U.S. Treasury Department. In the past four years alone (2001-2005), the Bush Administration has borrowed a staggering $1.05 trillion.
This is just another reason to root for McCain, who is a deficit hawk, in 2008.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Say it ain't so

This had better not be true.

Powerful new evidence emerged yesterday that the United States dropped massive quantities of white phosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah during the attack on the city in November 2004, killing insurgents and civilians with the appalling burns that are the signature of this weapon.

Ever since the assault, which went unreported by any Western journalists, rumours have swirled that the Americans used chemical weapons on the city.

On 10 November last year, the Islam Online website wrote: "US troops are reportedly using chemical weapons and poisonous gas in its large-scale offensive on the Iraqi resistance bastion of Fallujah, a grim reminder of Saddam Hussein's alleged gassing of the Kurds in 1988."

The website quoted insurgent sources as saying: "The US occupation troops are gassing resistance fighters and confronting them with internationally banned chemical weapons."

In December the US government formally denied the reports, describing them as "widespread myths".
This falls into my "nobody would be that stupid" category. But if it turns out to be true, the consequences to our long-term mission in Iraq could be devastating.

Idiot

This guy is dumber than the lady who put a finger in her chili from Wendy's. If you are going to humilate yourself in this fashion in order to try to extort some money from a deep pocket, it is best not to have pulled the same stunt before.

Nutcase

Remember how much grief Nancy Reagan got for consulting an astrologer? Well check this out.
BURMESE bureaucrats en route to a new capital city that has been hacked out of the jungle were told to leave Rangoon on the orders of the personal astrologer to the country’s dictator, Senior General Than Shwe. . .

The timing was believed to have been chosen as auspicious by astrologers. Moving the seat of government to an easily defensible valley surrounded by jungle is the latest sign of paranoia exhibited by a pariah military regime that fears both invasion by the United States, which has branded it an outpost of tyranny, and an uprising by its own downtrodden populace.

A senior soothsayer may also have advised building a new centre of power, as Burma’s kings frequently did in the past. Astrologers play a key role in Burmese life and have prompted some of the strangest and most disastrous episodes in the country’s recent past.
How is that so many lunatics manage to get in and stay in power?

Election day

It is election day, and it is likely to be a bad day for Republicans around the country. Democrats are likely to win the governors' races in New Jersey and Virginia, and Arnold's ballot measures in California are likely to go down to resounding defeats. Also, moderate Democrat Randy Kelly and the current St. Paul mayor who endorsed Bush over Kerry last year is going to get trounced by fellow liberal Democrat Chris Coleman.

Meanwhile, the only thing that I will be voting on these school referendums for Wayzata.

Monday, November 07, 2005

He is no Jerry Rice

Jerry Rice is the greatest receiver ever, and probably was the classiest guy in the NFL during his career. It is really too bad that the most talented receiver of the next generation is a classless moron.

Two stories

These two stories from the StarTribune caught my attention yesterday.

Story #1.

Foley Foods owner Nou Chang, 52, told police that Franklin T. Forlemu, 22, of Savage came to his store several times this fall trying to sell him a chemical potion that he claimed would turn white slips of paper into U.S. currency. . .

Forlemu, who faces theft by swindle charges, has a hearing Monday in Anoka County District Court. . .

Formelu, an illegal immigrant from Africa, had no prior felony convictions. He was released on personal recognizance.
Say what? An illegal immigrant faces felony charges and he is released on his own recognizance? That says a lot about how seriously our government takes illegal immigration.

Story #2.
Pirates armed with grenade launchers and machine guns tried to hijack a luxury cruise liner off the east African coast Saturday, but the ship outran them.
Who knew this still happens?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Improved security in Iraq

The biggest battle in more than a year is underway in Iraq.
HUSAYBA, Iraq, Nov. 5 - Thousands of American and Iraqi troops laid siege Saturday to this town near the Syrian border in the largest military assault since American-led forces stormed the guerrilla stronghold of Falluja last year, Marine Corps officials said.

The sweep, aimed at shutting down the flow of foreign fighters along the Euphrates River, began early Saturday as 2,500 American troops and 1,000 Iraqi Army soldiers, all led by the Marines, cordoned off roads around Husayba before rolling into town in armored vehicles and marching in on foot. . .

American commanders say Husayba has become a bastion for cells of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the group led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi that claims credit for many of the deadliest suicide bombings of the war. . .

"It's a cesspool; it's time for this area to get cleaned up," Col. Stephen Davis, of the Second Marine Division, said of Husayba.
Meanwhile, here is some other good news.

We all want rapid progress in the security situation but, unfortunately, we are going to have to settle for incremental progress. But there should be no doubt that, overall, progress is being made. Let's hope the Husayba operation will represent another step forward.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Advice and consent

Bush met with at least 70 Senators seeking their "advice" prior to his nomination of John Roberts. I don't know how many Senators he met with again before nominating Harriet Miers, but I didn't hear a single complaint from Democrats that Bush didn't seek their "advice" before making that nomination. Ultimately, the request for "consent" to that nomination was withdrawn and Bush nominated Alito immediately thereafter.

This week I have been hearing all kinds of griping that Bush didn't seek the "advice" of Democratic Senators before making Alito pick. See here, e.g. My question is this: why should he have sought "advice" for a third time in the span of a few months? Did Democratic Senators have new thoughts regarding the relatively short list of candidates that were floated?

This example may be inappropriate, but I analogize the situation to going to a restaurant and asking the waiter what he recommends. He offers several suggestions and you then order, only to have him return and tell you that the kitchen is out of that selection. Would you ask the waiter again "what do you recommend"?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Blogoversary

I just realized that today marks my first blogoversary. I started this blog on election night last year. (First post ever, here.)

That said, on a typical day expect less activity around here for a while. As much as I enjoy blogging, I have a lot going on right now that must be given higher priority. But keep coming back and if you don't see anything new, check out the "BLOGS I READ" on the right. They are diverse politically, but all are substantive and will make you more knowledgeable.

Speaking out

I have often complained about the relative silence among Islamic leaders regarding mass murder that is committed in the name of their religion. I have also complained about the silence among Christian leaders about attacks on science in the name of their religion. With that preface, I find this story heartening.
VATICAN CITY — A Vatican (search) cardinal said Thursday the faithful should listen to what secular modern science has to offer, warning that religion risks turning into "fundamentalism" if it ignores scientific reason.

Cardinal Paul Poupard, who heads the Pontifical Council for Culture (search), made the comments at a news conference on a Vatican project to help end the "mutual prejudice" between religion and science that has long bedeviled the Roman Catholic Church and is part of the evolution debate in the United States. . .

"[We] know the dangers of a religion that severs its links with reason and becomes prey to fundamentalism," he said.

Headline of the day

"Man Sues After Using Glue-Covered Toilet"

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Iraq

The ongoing "bad news" is very real. But the "very good news" is also very real, of incredible historical consequence, and has not been adequately reported. See here for reminder, if needed.

CNN

The identity crisis at CNN, my cable news network of choice most of the time, continues. (See here.) I realized how bad it was about 2 months ago when I started seeing commercials for CNN on FoxNews. (I'm not kidding. In fact, I was stunned that Fox would even run those commercials.)

Somehow, I expect that things will get worse at CNN before they get better.

Inquiring minds want to know

What does Bush keep in his pockets?

Answer: Nothing. And I guess that is news.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Jeralyn Merritt is a putz

She says that, combined with "Plamegate," the Alito nomination is "the treasonous act of the century."

The tie-breaker?

This might be the reason that Bush settled on Alito over Luttig.
WASHINGTON - Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., sent strong signals Monday that he would use all his clout to help federal appeals court judge Samuel Alito win confirmation to the Supreme Court.

Time and again Specter used his Monday afternoon press conference to defend President Bush’s nominee to the high court and to justify some of his controversial rulings. . .

Specter seemed to go out of his way to try to persuade abortion rights supporters, of whom he is one, that Alito is not beyond the pale.

Steps of analysis

Step 1: Consider the accusation in a statement from People for the American Way.
Alito is a leader of the radical right legal movement to prevent the federal government from enforcing civil rights protections and otherwise acting on behalf of the common good.
Step 2: Seek evidence from liberals who actually know Alito.

Exhibit A.
"To call him 'Scalito' is to completely misunderstand him," said attorney Timothy K. Lewis of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, a former 3rd Circuit judge who was Alito's colleague for seven years.

Lewis, who describes himself as liberal, said Alito is solidly conservative and that the two sometimes disagreed, but that it was "always a deeply respectful disagreement."

"First and foremost," Lewis said, "Sam Alito is intellectually honest. This is what makes him a wonderful judge and also why I feel very good about his appointment to the Supreme Court."
Lewis recalled that when he joined the 3rd Circuit in 1992, he met with the court's former chief judge, A. Leon Higginbotham, to discuss the cast of characters who would soon become his colleagues.

When Alito's name came up, Lewis said, Higginbotham, who died in 1998, had only good things to say. "He said 'Sam Alito is my kind of conservative,'" Lewis said, and went on to describe Alito as “full of integrity” and “a pleasure to sit with.”
Exhibit B.
A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. (1928-1998) was a towering man with a voice like thunder. He articulated the legal experience of black America with scholarship and understanding. He was a successful lawyer, a partner in Philadelphia's premier black law firm during an era when black lawyers were subjected to many inequities. From 1964 to 1977, Higginbotham was a highly respected federal trial judge, and then served sixteen years on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, holding the position of chief judge before his retirement in 1993. From 1965 to 1966, he was vice-chairman of the National Commission on the Cause and Prevention of Violence. Higginbotham wrote two scholarly books on law and black citizens, In the Matter of Color and Shades of Freedom. He also taught at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and at Harvard. In 1995, Higginbotham received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor.
Step 3: Reach the conclusion that the People for the American Way has no credibility.

Huh?

From the search-engine queries that led people to this blog yesterday I found this:

31 Oct, Mon, 19:11:29 MSN Search: largest todd in the world
31 Oct, Mon, 19:15:18 MSN Search: largest todd in the world
31 Oct, Mon, 19:20:28 MSN Search: Largest todd in the world

I have no explanation, just puzzlement.

Hardball

In case you had any doubts about how dirty some are going to be willing to get in the Alito nomination battle, consider this.

A talking-points memorandum being circulated by Democrats to friendly media outlets attacks Judge Samuel Alito on the basis of his Italian heritage.

Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch stormed Monday night that the memo was "despicable" and a sign that desperate Democrats are "hysterical" over the Alito nomination.

Hatch made the comments on MSNBC's "Hardball" with Chris Matthews.

Matthews alleged that Democrats are passing around a memorandum that he called a "complaint sheet" about Alito.

The cable talk show host said the lead item in the memo claims that as a federal prosecutor, Alito failed to convict members of the Lucchese crime family in a 1988 case.

The implication is that because Alito is Italian-American he went easy on the prosecution, or worse.

An obviously angry Matthews said, "I'm sitting here holding in my hands a pretty disgusting document. This is put out not for attribution, but it comes from the Democrats. They're circulating it; I can say that. The first thing they nail about this Italian-American is he failed to win a mob conviction in a trial ... way back in '88. In other words, they nail him on not putting some Italian mobsters in jail from the family. Why would they bring up this ethnically charged issue as the first item they raise against Judge Alito?

"This is either a very bad coincidence or very bad politics," he added, and warned Democrats that their sneak attack will backfire. "Either way it's going to hurt them. ... Not abortion rights, not civil rights but that he failed to nail some mobsters in 1988 -- this is the top of their list of what they've got against this guy. Amazingly bad politics."

The memo failed to note that Alito won a major prosecution against the Genovese crime family.

Remember, Chris Matthews is a Democrat.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Picture of the day


The Alito family with . . .

Wrong, wrong, wrong

This is the lead paragraph of an MSNBC story.
WASHINGTON - It may be symbolic of the Senate confirmation battle ahead that federal appeals court Judge Samuel Alito's views on abortion were rejected by the woman he would replace on the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
Judge Alito did not provide his "views on abortion" in that case. He provided his views as to whether a particular restriction was constitutional under existing Supreme Court precedent. How hard is that to understand?

There is going to be plenty to debate. Let's make sure we are debating the real issues.

UPDATE: More of the same debunked here.

Silly polls

What is the point of taking a poll in an echo chamber? For the latest example, see here.

War mongerers

From the left, Kevin Drum: "The movement conservatives wanted a war, and this time they've probably gotten one."

From the right, Kathryn Jean Lopez: "The Left has been dying for this fight. "

Isn't it funny how the other side is always at fault for starting the war, and your side is always only fighting back.

Headline of the day

"Getting drunk part of Australian identity, study finds"

It is all about the "angry white man"

It is amazing that how many people make a living giving opinions that really only make the opiner look silly. Here is an example from today: "angry white men" caused Harriet Miers to withdraw as part of "their ongoing quest to remake American society in their image."

Confusing the issue

From Atrios.
[W]hat was Coulter's stated objection to Miers? That she opposed Griswold. Ann Coulter and the rest of the right wing crazies oppose the right of married couples to have access to contraception.
Now, I don't like Ann Coulter, but I doubt that there are too many "right wing crazies" who oppose the right of married couples to have access to contraception. However, many reasonable people don't think that contraception is a constitutionally protected right. Atrios understands the distinction, but his readers prefer hyberbole so that is what he engages in.

Remember this example as the Alito war progresses and you hear more crap about abortion than you can process. It is possible to be pro-life personally and to think that Roe vs. Wade was correctly decided, and it is possible to be pro-choice personally and to think that Roe vs. Wade was not correctly decided. It is also possible to think that Roe vs. Wade was not correctly decided, but to also think that after 30 years the book should be closed on that debate (which is where I fall). Finally, it is possible to believe that someone should be confirmed even if he or she does not agree with one's exact position on this (or any other) issue.

Picture of the day

















CAPTION: "An unidentified fan runs with the football after taking it from Packers QB Brett Favre in Cincinnati on Sunday."

Alito

Well, Samuel "Scalito" Alito sure is the anti-Miers with respect to qualifications to sit on the SCOTUS. And although all signs are that this will be an all-out war, I consider this endorsement a good sign.

Former appellate judge Timothy Lewis, who served with Alito, has ideological differences with him but believes he would be a good Supreme Court justice.

"There is nobody that I believe would give my case a more fair and balanced treatment," Lewis said. "He has no agenda. He's open-minded, he's fair and he's balanced."

Let the games begin.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Minnesota: a great place to work

If you have to work, this survey concludes that Minnesota is the 3rd best state in which to do so.

Violence in the name of Islam

Today's horror story of violent Islamic extremism comes from Indonesia.
THE beheading of three Christian schoolgirls in Indonesia's troubled district of Poso on the weekend appeared to be a deliberate attempt to reignite a sectarian conflict that has claimed thousands of lives, experts say.

The girls, ranging in age from 15 to 17, were on their way to their senior high school in Bukit Bambu, on the outskirts of Poso city in central Sulawesi, when a gang of six masked men attacked them with machetes. . .
Barbaric.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Scooter Libby

Hint of the day: Don't lie to federal prosecutors about anything, ever. Link.

In case you missed it

In a busy news cycle, this story has not received the attention it deserves.

UNITED NATIONS - Fraud in the U.N. oil-for-food scheme for Iraq reached from French politicians to a former Vatican aide and name-brand companies, sending a sobering message about the state of global business, the chief investigator said after publishing his conclusions on what went awry.

"There's a lot of corruption in the world," Paul Volcker told The Associated Press on Thursday, when he released his scathing final report on the 18-month investigation.

The former Federal Reserve chairman's team found that more than 2,200 companies and individuals, or about half of all those involved in the humanitarian program, paid kickbacks and illegal surcharges to win lucrative contracts while Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein pocketed $1.8 billion at the expense of his people who were suffering under U.N. sanctions. . .

The report named some high-profile individuals and companies including a former French interior minister, Charles Pasqua; Rev. Jean-Marie Benjamin, a priest who once worked as an assistant to the Vatican secretary of state and opposed Iraqi sanctions; carmakers DaimlerChrysler AG, Volvo and South Korea's Daewoo International; and industrial giants Siemens AG.

The anti-war folks won't touch this story. They are too busy arguing that Bush deliberately lied about WMD.