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."


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. . .

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.

Chilling reminder

TEHRAN (Reuters) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, cheered by thousands of supporters, signalled on Friday he stood by his call for Israel to be wiped off the map, while Iran's foreign ministry sought to defuse a diplomatic storm.
This is a reminder why it is absolutely critical that Iran be denied nuclear weapons.

Dr. Kamau Kambon is a putz

This was on CSPAN.
And the one idea is, how we are going to exterminate white people because that in my estimation is the only conclusion I have come to. We have to exterminate white people off the face of the planet to solve this problem. Now I don’t care whether you clap or not, but I’m saying to you that we need to solve this problem because they are going to kill us. And I will leave on that. So we just have to just set up our own system and stop playing and get very serious and not be diverted from coming up with a solution to the problem and the problem on the planet is white people.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


It has been confirmed - the oil companies were engaged in despicable price gouging after Katrina and Rita. Link.
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp. posted a quarterly profit of $9.9 billion Thursday, the largest in U.S. corporate history, as it raked in a bonanza from soaring oil and gas prices.
I'm generally in favor of minimal government regulation of the market, but in this case something is broke that needs to be fixed.

Miers' withdrawal

I have not yet checked out the blog reaction to the news of Miers' withdrawal, but I am sure that I will not be the only person to note that the White House followed the "save face" plan suggested Charles Krauthammer recently. (See here.) Here is just part of the White House statement.
Today, I have reluctantly accepted Harriet Miers' decision to withdraw her nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States. . .

It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House -- disclosures that would undermine a president's ability to receive candid counsel.
Now the reality is that nobody will be fooled. Bush and Miers were trounced not by Democrats, but by people who are conservatives first and Republicans second. But it is important to note that the defeat was not inevitable from the start, and became inevitable only after repeated self-inflicted wounds, in particular, the atrocious responses to the Judiciary Committee questionnaire.

Will the conservatives get the fire-breathing originalist that they are looking for? Who knows. But you can bet that the next nominee is going to have a hell of an impressive resume.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Not good

I generally avoid blogging about work. However, I would feel somewhat phony if I didn't mention this story:

A woman armed with a fake law school transcript conned her way into a job at Minnesota's largest law firm, working for six months as an associate attorney before she was discovered, a spokesman for the firm said Tuesday.

The woman's ruse fell apart as her colleagues at Dorsey & Whitney began to question the quality of her work, said Tom Tinkham, a partner at the firm.

She obviously knew that she could not get away with it for long, so what was the end-game? Infamay and long-term unemployability?

North Korea

Paranoid, compulsive liars who have the technology to take out a city in an instant make me damn nervous. Here is the latest evidence of the lying part.
North Korea admitted yesterday that it was still holding prisoners from the Korean War as well as South Koreans it had abducted since.

George Galloway is a putz

Hitchens explains why.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Progress and the cost

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The war in Iraq saw two milestones Tuesday that reflect the country's path to democracy and its human toll as officials said the referendum on a draft constitution passed and the U.S. military's death toll reached 2,000.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Here we go

NY Times: "Cheney Told Aide of C.I.A. Officer, Lawyers Report"

Media frenzy to follow.

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

Expensive advice


NEW YORK Oct 24, 2005 — At $25,000 per minute, advice from Donald Trump doesn't come cheap.

That didn't stop thousands of fans from attending a Sunday lecture by the real estate mogul, who received $1.5 million for the hour-long speech.

I hope they took notes.

New Fed Head

It looks like Bush got this one right.

Picture of the day

Wilma's aftermath.

Lawyer shortage

There are so many people under investigation for corruption in Chicago that there are not enough lawyers to defend everyone. (See here.)


John Fund.
[I]t is almost inevitable that Ms. Miers will withdraw or be defeated.
It is time to re-tee.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Picture of the day

This team has given its fans very little to cheer about this year. But a victory against the Packers is uniquely satisfying and worthy of extra credit points.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Get ready

Lebanon is about to become prominent in the news again. (See here.) Michael Totten is there. Check in with him for the on-the-street developments.

Life isn't fair

Like this guy needs the money.
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg called a news conference for Thursday to announce that he's one of 47 Powerball players who matched five of the lottery's numbers, minus the Powerball number — winning him a total of $853,492. . .

In his 2004 financial disclosure statements, Gregg's major assets were combined Fleet stock and Fleet Bank savings account, $1 million-$5 million; stock in 44 other companies, including $250,001-$500,000 in Bristol Myers and $50,001-$100,000 each in Verizon and Exxon; $100,001-$250,000 in Sarasota, Fla., real estate; $100,001-$250,000 Portsmouth real estate.

His major sources of unearned income: Fleet stock dividends, $100,001-$1 million; Bristol Myers stock dividends, $5,001-$15,000; rent from Portsmouth real estate, $15,001-$50,000.

Picture of the day

Just shoot me

How is this for messed up? (Novak).
WASHINGTON -- George W. Bush's agents have convinced conservative Republican senators who were heartsick over his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court that they must support her to save his presidency. . .

Whatever her qualifications, dubious Republican senators after hearing from Gillespie decided they could not deny his chosen court nominee to a president on the ropes. Bush has solidified Republican support not because he is strong but because he looks weak.
For weeks I have been reading about how the Supreme Court is the most important issue to conservatives. Now they are talking about giving a pass to someone who seems less impressive every day because of Bush's weak poll numbers? If that turns out to be true, it is pathetic.

Tort reform

I don't favor arbitrary damages caps for tort victims, but I certainly think that this is a good idea.


This is really weird.

David Copperfield says he plans to impregnate a girl on stage - without even touching her.

Speaking to German magazine Galore, the illusionist rejected the theory that there were only seven different kinds of magic tricks.

He said: "Bull s**t! There is a great deal of new territory to conquer. In my next show I'm going to make a girl pregnant on stage."

He added: "Naturally it will be without sex. Everyone will be happy about it, but I'm not telling you any more."

How is anyone going to know if the trick worked? Do they come back in 4 weeks to witness an ultrasound test?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Picture of the day

Not again

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hurricane Wilma, which triggered mudslides that killed up to 10 people in Haiti, has strengthened to a catastrophic Category 5 storm as it approaches western Cuba and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

The season's record-tying 21st storm, fueled by the warm waters of the northwest Caribbean Sea, strengthened alarmingly as it headed into the Gulf of Mexico on a path expected to lead across storm-weary southern Florida by Saturday.

An Air Force plane measured maximum sustained winds of near 175 mph (280 km/h) from the vicious storm, with higher gusts, the center reported at 5 a.m. (0900 GMT) on Wednesday.

The reconnaissance aircraft measured an estimated minimum air pressure of 884 MB, the lowest pressure ever observed in a in the Atlantic basin, the center reported, but cautioned that this reading should "be used with caution" until confirmed.

I'm going to try not to complain when it hits 20 below in Minnesota this winter.

Quote of the day

From Vikings' head coach Mike Tice.
"Sometimes," Tice said, "you wake up and you say, 'Man, I didn't have anything to drink last night. I didn't have anything fattening. So why do I want to puke?' Then you realize, 'Oh, that's right.' You start remembering what's going on in your life."

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Resignation rumors

Sparked by today's Washington Post story that suggests Vice President Cheney's office is involved in the Plame-CIA spy link investigation, government officials and advisers passed around rumors that the vice president might step aside and that President Bush would elevate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Just think, two months ago, we were in the summer news doldrums and the biggest story was Cindy Sheehan. Then came, in rapid succession, John Roberts, Katrina, Rita, earthquake in Pakistan, Harriet Miers and an election in Iraq. Now, the possibility of another mega-story. Right now, there are not enough hours in the day for news junkies like me.


The two stories below further demonstrate what a trainwreck the Miers' nomination has become, as everyone is being given reasons to oppose it.

Story #1.

After their meeting, Specter told reporters that Miers said she believed the 1965 case of Griswold v. Connecticut -- a landmark ruling establishing the right to privacy -- was "rightly decided."

But when the White House took exception to Specter's comments, the Pennsylvania Republican released a statement saying Miers later called him to tell him he had "misunderstood" her answer.
Story #2.
On Oct. 3, the day the Miers nomination was announced, Mr. Dobson and other religious conservatives held a conference call to discuss the nomination. One of the people on the call took extensive notes, which I have obtained. According to the notes, two of Ms. Miers's close friends--both sitting judges--said during the call that she would vote to overturn Roe.
It is hard to imagine how she could get 50 votes at this point.

UPDATE: From Scrappleface.
Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, making the rounds among influential Senators yesterday, refused to answer questions about her views on the landmark abortion case, Roe v. Wade (1973), citing her right to privacy as found in the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut Supreme Court ruling that served as the key precedent for the Roe decision.

She also refused to answer whether she thinks Griswold is 'settled law', again citing the 1965 decision.

"If under Griswold, people have a right to privacy in the purchase contraceptives," Miss Miers said, "I certainly have a right to protect myself from unwanted questions."

Monday, October 17, 2005

Because no one else will hire him . . .

Stallone returning for sixth 'Rocky'

Ha ha

THE cover photo on the latest issue of Patrick Buchanan's American Conservative magazine, bearing the cover line "After the Storm," is not that much different from many of the pictures coming out of the hurricane-stricken areas of the South. It shows a family of four children slogging through knee-deep water with two adult women. However, the "woman" on the far right is none other than well-known New Orleans drag queen and bartender Jack "Lady Charles" Nicholson. Kara Hopkins, the magazine's executive editor, had no explanation other than "it was a good photo."

Sunday, October 16, 2005

More on Miers

From David Brooks (one of the fairest pundits of them all), after reviewing Harriet Miers' writings as President of the Texas Bar Association.

I don't know if by mere quotation I can fully convey the relentless march of vapid abstractions that mark Miers's prose. Nearly every idea is vague and depersonalized. Nearly every debatable point is elided. It's not that Miers didn't attempt to tackle interesting subjects. She wrote about unequal access to the justice system, about the underrepresentation of minorities in the law and about whether pro bono work should be mandatory. But she presents no arguments or ideas, except the repetition of the bromide that bad things can be eliminated if people of good will come together to eliminate bad things. . .

Throw aside ideology. Surely the threshold skill required of a Supreme Court justice is the ability to write clearly and argue incisively. Miers's columns provide no evidence of that.

The negative momentum against this nomination continues to grow.

Picture of the day

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Iraq vote

Just like in January, it looks like the voting process was a huge success, with high turnout and relatively little violence. Assuming that the constitution passes, this will go down as a historic day for the new Iraq.

Friday, October 14, 2005

A laugh

Hugh Hewitt is without a doubt a "my President can do no wrong" type of guy. His initial blog post regarding the Miers' nomination was titled "Do You Trust Him?" and opined that she is "is a solid, B+ pick." (And that is what her friends were saying.) In light of his initial reaction, this is damn funny.

P.S. I realize that in blog-years, this link is pathetically untimely. All money-back refund demands will be honored without question.

A smaller New Orleans


WASHINGTON - Four in 10 residents of New Orleans who sought Red Cross help after Hurricane Katrina say they don't expect to return home — an exodus that could dramatically change that city, a poll of those hurricane survivors found.

Blacks were twice as likely as whites to say they would not return. Almost nine in 10 whose homes are no longer livable say they don't expect to return, the CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll found.

I assume that "homes" is meant to include apartments and other rental properties. If that is correct, this statistic is not surprising to me. If I owned a piece of land in New Orleans, I would have a reason to go back even if the building on that land had been destroyed. If I rented, I would be looking for a place for a fresh start with the hope, perhaps, of returning in many years after the City is rebuilt. Given that the poorest sections of New Orleans were overwhelming populated by blacks, the numbers make sad sense. Also, the ripple effects throughout that region of this demographic change are going to be huge.

Gerhard Schroeder is a putz

"I can think of a recent disaster that shows what happens when a country neglects its duties of state towards its people," said Mr. Schroeder, who will soon cede his post to conservative rival Angela Merkel.

"My post as chancellor, which I still hold, does not allow me to name that country, but you all know that I am talking about America," Mr. Schroeder said to laughter and applause.

Picture of the day

From the Underpants Run.

Thursday, October 13, 2005


This from our local sports columnist who has been writing for 50 years (literally) and is the biggest "homer" possible.
I've covered the Vikings since their inception. This boat party will go down as the dumbest move any group of players in any sport has made.
Oh, well. A little personal shame for these guys, and it will be over, right? Don't bet on it.

At the time of the party, Vikings officials were heavily lobbying state legislators to convene a special session to get public funding for a stadium.

The incident casts a "dark shadow" over the team and "it certainly does negatively affect the opportunity" for legislative approval of the financing package that the team and Anoka County officials seek, said state Rep. Andy Westerberg, R-Blaine, chief House sponsor of the Vikings bill.

If Zygi Wilf is not throwing things today, he is a more restrained person than I could ever hope to be.

Conservative crackup

[T]he long-predicted “conservative crackup” is at hand. . .

[A]ll the constituent parts are — for various reasons — going their own way. Here's a checklist: . . .
Go read. I strongly suspect that dark days are ahead for Republicans.

Fascinating morning (not)

This morning I sat through a telephone deposition where the German-speaking witness was in Vienna, the translator was in Florida, co-counsel was in New York, and opposing counsel, the court reporter and I were in Minneapolis. The logistics of this would have made things hard enough if the questions had been general in nature, but the witness is a CPA and he was being asked about detailed reports with lots of numbers and words in German. Damn, that was painful.

Picture of the day

Religious wackos of the day


CHELSEA — God spoke with the roar of revving motorcycle engines during a protest Tuesday by six members of a Kansas church that believes God is punishing the U.S. for protecting homosexuals by killing soldiers overseas. . .

The bikers [from the VFW] succeeded in keeping the protesters out of sight and sound of the Doles family but for anyone else close enough to see their brightly colored signs spoke loud and clear: “GOD IS YOU OR ENEMY; GOD HATES THE USA; GOD IS AN AMERICAN TERRORIST; TOO LATE TO PRAY; THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS; YOU’RE GOING TO HELL; GOD HAS SPOKEN IT’S NOT A BLESSING IT’S A CURSE and AMERICA IS DOOMED.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

USS Cole

Today is the 5th anniversary of the bombing of the USS Cole.

Indiana state Sen. Patricia Miller is a putz

Now comes Indiana state Sen. Patricia Miller, an Indianapolis Republican, with a plan to have government bureaucrats run pre-pregnancy checks on potential parents, including making sure they regularly go to church or some other "faith-based" activity, before a doctor can help them have a baby.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Those embarrassing Vikings

After early Vegas odds made the Vikings a preseason Super Bowl favorite, they have been a complete embarrassment on the football field this year so far. Now, a sizable number of players decided to completely embarrass the team off of the field.
(AP) Minneapolis Authorities on Tuesday were investigating whether Minnesota Vikings players were involved in allegations of lewd behavior on two Lake Minnetonka charter boats last week.

No criminal charges had been filed by Tuesday afternoon.

Stephen Doyle, an attorney representing the boat owners, said at least 20 Vikings players were part of a group of 90 people who went out on a pair of Al and Alma's charter cruises last Thursday night.

Doyle said the outing ended early and the boats returned to shore when staff members complained to the captains that some of the people on board were engaging in sexual acts and taking off their clothes.
I heard an interview of Doyle on the radio when I was driving home tonight, and "engaging in sexual acts" is the tamest possible description of the alleged activities. Trust me -- this is going to be really, really bad.

I wonder if Zigi Wilf is on his way to San Antonio to try to get his $600 million back from Red McCombs.

Playing the gender card

Asked by host Matt Lauer if sexism might be playing a role in the Miers controversy, [Laura Bush] said, "It's possible. I think that's possible. . . . I think people are not looking at her accomplishments."
What a crock of sh*t. I have looked at her accomplishments. My preliminary objection to this nomination is that she has relatively unremarkable legal credentials when we are talking about a Supreme Court seat and I'm not willing to pretend otherwise in the likely vain hope that she will steer a moderate course if confirmed. And conservative critics (whose objections are both qualifications-based and based on ideological concerns) have repeatedly said "why not Priscella Owens?", "why not Janice Rogers Brown?", and "why not Edith Jones?" (If any of these women had been nominated, perhaps Mrs. Bush would tell us that sexism played a role in objections from Democrats.)

The bottom line is this: If the president had nominated an unremarkable male crony, there is not a shred of doubt in my mind that the uproar would be at least as loud.

Candidate's credentials: 3 DWIs (2 within 3 hours)

This is not funny except in a "isn't he pathetic" funny sort of way.
VERNON, N.Y. -- A first-time candidate for public office was arrested twice in a three-hour span for driving drunk, authorities said Monday.

Brian E. Karst, 34, who is running for Oneida Common Council as an independent candidate was arrested Friday night by Oneida County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Chrysler and ticketed for numerous traffic violations. Sobriety tests revealed his blood alcohol content was 0.14 percent, nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08, deputies said.

After his arrest, Karst was released to a third party.

Less than three hours later, Chrysler pulled Karst over again _ driving the same car as before. This time, Karst's blood alcohol content was 0.11, deputies said.

Deputies said Karst also was arrested for driving while intoxicated on Sept. 9. . .

"When you have a president caught having sex with an intern or lying under oath, how's that compare? These are working people, not elitist politicians. They make mistakes. They put their pants on one leg at a time, and they make mistakes," [his spokesman] said.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Is there any good news?

Maybe Pat Robertson was right, maybe the end of the world is coming.

The likelihood of a human flu pandemic is very high, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt warned Monday as he sought Southeast Asian cooperation to combat the spread of bird flu. . .

While there have been no known cases of person-to-person transmission, World Health Organization officials and other experts have been warning that the virus could mutate into a form that spreads easily among people. In a worst-case scenario, millions could die.

Maybe, just maybe, the lessons of Katrina will cause our government to shift into high gear to respond to this threat. But from what I have read and heard, the problem is we just don't have the infrastructure to create vaccine at a rate that would really make any significant difference. If that is true and the pandemic materializes, it will signal a failure of government of historic proportions.

Miers: The coach's kid

People see Miers get the Supreme Court slot and it reminds them of when they played Little League baseball and didn't get to pitch because the coach's son got the slot even though he wasn't as good.
Pretty much sums it up.

Before and after

This website has a collection of pictures of the early years for many past and present world leaders. Before you click the link, see if you can identify this guy.

UPDATE: I should have noted that this is my favorite photo.

Natural disasters

Killer tsunami, hurricanes, and now a devastating earthquake all within the last 10 months. What is going on? Pat Robertson has a theory.
WASHINGTON — Prominent U.S. preacher Pat Robertson said Sunday that recent natural disasters around the world point to the end of the world and the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
My question is this: Will the world end before or after the return of Jesus? (Hat tip: Dave.)

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Little Brown Jug

Here is the story of the Little Brown Jug. In short, it is the oldest trophy in college football and goes to the winner when Minnesota and Michigan play each other. In recent history, Michigan has completely dominated; Minnesota has not held the Jug since 1986.

In 2003, the Gophers were up 28-7 at the end of the third quarter. What happened next was "the biggest comeback in Michigan history," and the Gophers blew it. Last year, the Gophers had the lead with less than 2 minutes less and lost 27-24. Heartbreak was becoming routine.

Today, the Gophers showed a lot of guts and broke the streak with a last second field goal. The Jug is coming back to Minnesota, at least for a year. Nice job, guys.

Breaking the rules

This is the first sentence from the "Course Information" page of the Twin Cities Marathon website:
For your safety and for the safety of others, absolutely no automobiles, pacers, bicycles, strollers, headsets, in-line skates, hand cycles, hand-cranked wheelchairs or pets are allowed on the course.
Because of this rule, I left my iPod at home. Yet when the race started, I was surprised how many people were wearing headphones and, frankly, I was a bit resentful of those who decided that they didn't need to follow the rules. Thus, I lost a little respect for our governor this morning when I read this:
In the governor's mind, the marathon is about mental toughness, not physical prowess; his trick is his iPod, with an eclectic cache that includes Johnny Cash, AC/DC, Sonny and Cher and Pink. But he said he queued up his most energizing tunes for the final 5 miles of the marathon. Among them: Bruce Springsteen's "The Rising," Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," John Mellencamp's "When the Walls Came Tumbling Down" and Grand Funk Railroad's "Some Kind of Wonderful."
The governor was one of those people who decided that he didn't need to follow an "absolute" rule that was in place for his "safety and the safety of others." For a guy who is supposed to lead by example, I am disappointed.

Friday, October 07, 2005

al-Zawahiri: "Help!"

This is one of the better pieces of news that I have seen in a while.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An intercepted letter from Osama bin Laden's deputy to the al Qaeda leader in Iraq complains that the terrorist network is short of cash and faces defeat in Afghanistan, a Pentagon spokesman says.

The United States obtained a recent letter that appears to be from Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda's No. 2 figure, to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, outlining both the strategy and concerns of the terrorist network, said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.

In the letter, al-Zawahiri warns that some of the tactics currently employed by the insurgency, including the slaughtering of hostages and the suicide bombings of Muslim civilians, may risk alienating the "Muslim masses," Whitman said Thursday.

Reading from a summary of the letter, Whitman said al-Zawahiri concedes that al Qaeda has lost many key leaders, is resigned to defeat in Afghanistan, and that its lines of communication and funding sources have been seriously disrupted. Al-Zawahiri includes a plea for financial support, indicating he is strapped for money, Whitman said.

Democrats need to be the party of centrists (rewind, repeat)

Conservatives outnumber liberals in this country. Thus, to win national elections the Democrats have to win over centrists by a decisive margin. How many times does that need to be said? Well, here is one more attempt to get through.

The liberals' hope that Democrats can win back the presidency by drawing sharp ideological contrasts and energizing the partisan base is a fantasy that could cripple the party's efforts to return to power, according to a new study by two prominent Democratic analysts.

In the latest shot in a long-running war over the party's direction -- an argument turned more passionate after Democrat John F. Kerry's loss to President Bush last year -- two intellectuals who have been aligned with former president Bill Clinton warn that the only way back to victory is down the center. . .

Their basic thesis is that the number of solidly conservative Republican voters is substantially larger that the reliably Democratic liberal voter base. To win, the argument goes, Democrats must make much larger inroads among moderates than the GOP.

"Just the facts, maam"


PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- Normally, a fight between two children over a pacifier might be resolved by their mothers. But in Pawtucket, the police had to step in. It all started Monday afternoon, when a 6-year-old boy dropped a pacifier.

Another 6-year-old boy picked it up and refused to give it back, allegedly prompting the first child to deliver a punch. Police said the boy with the pacifier then punched back.

Pawtucket Police Detective Donti Rosciti said one of the mothers called police, saying she wanted the fist fight documented because her son had three minor scratches on his face, and she didn't want his school accusing her of abuse.

Picture of the day

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Harriet Miers: thumbs down (for now)

I will keep an open mind through the hearings, but for now I am hopeful that the Senate will not confirm her.

As a moderate, I should probably rejoice that Bush did not nominate a fire-breathing conservative for the position. But I can't get past one undeniable fact: If any other Republican were in the White House right now, there is absolutely no chance that she would be given 5 minutes worth of consideration for a place on the highest court in the land. (Conversely, John Roberts would have been on the short list of any Republican president.) This is undeniably a "who you know" nomination.

The Supreme Court is a place for the legal profession's best and the brightest, not loyal staffers with legal backgrounds. That doesn't mean that prior experience as a judge is necessary, but I think that a prior demonstration of brillance is.

I see nothing so far in Miers' record to indicate that she is anything more than an above average lawyer who, to her credit, has worked her tail off throughout her career. Which reminds of this.
In 1970, President Nixon nominated Judge G. Harrold Carswell for the court. While he had served on the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Carswell was immediately attacked for his less-than-stellar résumé (as well as alleged anti-civil rights views). Described as a "dull graduate of the third-best law school in the state of Georgia," witnesses chided Carswell's lack of any scholarly articles or notable opinions. Pro-Carswell Sen. Roman Hruska, of Nebraska, did not help matters when he defended the nominee by declaring, "Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance?"
When it comes to the Supreme Court, the answer was then, and remains now, "no."

(Linked at OTB.)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Al Gore's rhetoric

Al Gore.
And every day they [i.e., the Bush administration] unleash squadrons of digital brownshirts to harass and hector any journalist who is critical of the President.
In other words, conservative bloggers who generally support Bush are comparable to Nazis. Nice.

Picture of the day

Send me to jail

It is amazing how lucrative disregarding the law can be.
NEW York Times jailbird Judy Miller has landed a $1.2 million book deal with Simon & Schuster. The tome . . . will presumably detail Miller's imprisonment for refusing to reveal her source in a probe about a leak of a CIA operative's name . . .
She was in jail for less than three months and was undoubtedly very well treated while there. For that she is going to make $1.2 million.

God Bless America.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

StarTribune: a joke

As I have said before, I don't get too exercised about the "so-called liberal media." However, some things are just too blatant for me to let pass without comment, and they usually come from the StarTribune.

The StarTribune's story today on the nomination of Harriet Miers has a byline from the LA Times, and the SECOND sentence of the story is as follows:
Miers . . . assumed such an insider role that in 2001 she handed Bush the crucial "presidential daily briefing" hinting at terrorist plots just a month before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Oh my God! She "assumed such an insider role" that "she handed Bush the crucial" PDB? We obviously need to investigate her omissions that allowed 19 fanatics to commit mass murder.

Just out of curiousity, I decided to go to the LA Times website to see if the StarTrib edited the story at all. Not surprisingly, it did. The LA Times did, in fact, state this irrelevant fact, but not until the fourth paragraph of its story. The StarTribune obviously moved it up to make sure that it was on the front page rather than inside in the continued story where fewer people would see it.

So, so, lame.

Brutal honesty

“That’s right, I said I’m a hooker. I have to go up to total strangers, ask them for money and get them to expect me to be there when they need me. What does that sound like to you?”

-- Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL), quoted by The Hill, comparing her profession to the world's oldest.

Headline of the day

Chain-smoking chimp kicks the habit...

Monday, October 03, 2005

Incoherent editorial of the day

Washington's Democratic senators split on the confirmation of John Roberts as chief justice of the United States, with Patty Murray voting to confirm and Maria Cantwell to reject. Each of them was right.
(Via Best of the Web.) Read the whole thing to see the mental gymnastics that are necessary to support the conclusion.

Harriet Miers: the immediate conservative backlash

Looks as if Bush has a lot of work to do to convince even his friends that she should be put on the Court. Here is a sample.

Michelle Malkin.
It's not just that Miers has zero judicial experience. It's that she's so transparently a crony/"diversity" pick while so many other vastly more qualified and impressive candidates went to waste. If this is President Bush's bright idea to buck up his sagging popularity--among conservatives as well as the nation at large--one wonders whom he would have picked in rosier times. Shudder.
Paul at Powerline.
This nominee is a two-fer -- she would not have been selected but for her gender, and she would not have been selected but for her status as a Bush crony. So instead of a 50-year old conservative experienced jurist we get a 60-year old with no judicial experience who may or may not be conservative.

I was hoping that, because this is Bush's second term, he would thumb his nose at the diversity-mongers and appoint the best candidate. He thumbed his nose all right, but at conservatives.

John Cole.

This pick makes no sense to me.
Southern Appeal.

I am done with President Bush: Harriet Miers? Are you freakin' kidding me?!
I don’t know much about this woman, but what I do know does not impress me. Bush could have done much, much better. I am likely to sit this one out and simply watch in appalled disgust.

It’s looking like my days of supporting this President may be over.

Betsy's Page.
To say that I'm disappointed in the nomination of Harriet Miers is an understatement.
I could go on, but you get the point. Personally, it does look like cronyism to the extreme given the number of other impressive potential nominees who were vetted. What is it with Bush about having the person in charge with finding someone for a job ending up with the job himself or herself?

Confirmation is not going to be easy. Democrats are going to be suspicious of her views and can, with some degree of persuasiveness, argue that she does not meet the Roberts' qualifications standard. Conservatives are not going to spend much energy to support someone who they think might be the next O'Connor or, worse from their perspective, Souter.

According to The Associated Press, she said to she enjoys an especially close relationship with Bush, and she is sometimes the only woman on the brush-clearing excursions at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
(Link.) He invites his closest confidants over to do yard work?

“DEPLORABLE” [Rich Lowry ]
Just talked to a very pro-Bush legal type who says he is ashamed and embarrassed this morning. Says Miers was with an undistinguished law firm; never practiced constitutional law; never argued any big cases; never was on law review; has never written on any of the important legal issues. Says she's not even second rate, but is third rate. Dozens and dozens of women would have been better qualified. Says a crony at FEMA is one thing, but on the high court is something else entirely. Her long history of activity with ABA is not encouraging from a conservative perspective--few conservatives would spend their time that way. In short, he says the pick is “deplorable.” There may be an element of venting here, but thought I'd pass along for what it's worth. It's certainly indicative of the mood right now...

Posted at 12:30 PM

Sunday, October 02, 2005

It is over

Well, I did make it although, like the winners, I struggled with my time. Story.
Mbarak Hussein and Nicole Aish won the Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday, each posting the second-slowest times in the event's 24-year history.

Hussein, a Kenya native who lives in Albuquerque, N.M., covered the 26.2 miles in 2 hours, 18 minutes, 28 seconds. The 29-year-old Aish of Boston, making her marathon debut, opened up a big lead early and won in 2:40:21.

The slow times can be partly attributed to the 65-degree temperature at the start and relatively humid and windy conditions.
Although I adjusted within the past couple of days to a "too finish" goal when the weather we would experience became clear, I too went slower than I had generally hoped (4:28, net). For me, the humidity was really tough given that, during exercise, I sweat more than any person on the face of the earth. I figure that I drank between 2.5 and 3.0 gallons of water and Powerade on the course, but no PortaPotty stops were necessary for me at any time during the entire race. Enough (too much?) said.

Time to move on.

UPDATE: Photographic proof; this picture was taken within 200 yards of the finish.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The day before

Eleven months ago, in my second post ever on this blog, I announced my intention to run the Twin Cities Maraton in 2005. In March of this year, I reannounced that intention after having taken 3 months off from running. Tomorrow is the day.

A central piece of advice in the book I read to learn how to prepare was that, for your first marathon, forget about a time goal. Instead, make the only goal "to finish." I have kept that advice in mind, but I still trained with the hope that I could do it in under 4 hours.

If tomorrow was going to be "average" for Minnesota on this date (i.e., about 45-50 degrees at the start and about 60-65 degrees at the finish), I would think that under 4 hours would be possible for me, although certainly not a cinch. However, the forecast is for 65-70 degrees at the start, 75-80 degrees at the finish, unusually high humidity, and limited cloud cover.

At the "tips for 1st timers" discussion that I went to today the message was redundant: "It is going to be hot, so go slower than you might want to." I have decided that they are right. Thus, I'm going to abandon any sort of time goal and focus only on the "to finish" goal. I'm also going to try to enjoy the beautiful course and the 250,000 spectators along the way.

Check back later if you want to learn how it went.