Monday, January 31, 2005

It is about time

It looks like the efforts of Sen. George Allen are going to pay off in an even bigger way than he had hoped for.


WASHINGTON - President Bush will propose a dramatic increase to $250,000 in government payments to families of U.S. troops killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and in future combat zones.

The plan to increase the tax-free “death gratuity,” now $12,420, to $100,000 and provide an extra $150,000 in life insurance payouts will be part the 2006 budget proposal submitted to Congress next week. . .
The existing "death gratuity" is a disgrace. I'm not sure any amount can ever really be enough, but this is good first step in rectifying the situation.

Tongue tied

How do bloggers who have predicted inevitable doom in Iraq react to good news?

Eric Alterman: "I don’t have a lot to say about the Iraqi elections . . ."

Tom Tomorrow: "I don't have a lot to say about the elections right now . . ."

No comment

CNN: Would Rodney Dangerfield "be available to share his comments on the passing and legacy of Johnny Carson?"

Rodney's publicist: Rodney's dead.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Please let it be true

The London Times reports that Kim Jong-il is in trouble:

We had already witnessed one sign that North Korea’s totalitarian system is dissolving, even as its leaders boast of owning nuclear weapons to deter their enemies.

“It’s just like the Berlin Wall,” Pastor Douglas Shin, a Christian activist, said by telephone from Seoul. “The slow-motion exodus is the beginning of the end.”

In interviews for this article over many months, western policymakers, Chinese experts, North Korean exiles and human rights activists built up a picture of a tightly knit clan leadership in Pyongyang that is on the verge of collapse.

Nine lives

This U.S. Marine has nine lives.

Slide show

Check out the slideshow that Instapundit links to here. A picture truly is worth a thousand words.

Good over evil

I was cautiously optimistic about how the elections would go in Iraq. So was Andrew Sullivan, a "reality-based " hawk who knows that ultimate success in Iraq is far from certain. In other words, unlike many pro-war bloggers, he is not a cheerleading propagandist. Today, he has this post.
FROM A FRIEND IN BAGHDAD: Here's an email worth treasuring:
Andrew, you should have been here today.
Today, the insurgents lost.
Regardless of what happens tomorrow or the next day, or the day after that, today, the insurgents lost.
Tonite, the bombs and the mortars, and the gunshots which still echo in the streets, sound different.
Men and women, whose children, whose mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, have been murdered by madmen, took a few simple, but very difficult steps, out of their homes and into polling stations.
There will be debates about turnout, and legitimacy, and occupation, and every other conceivable thing, but everyone who is here right now, knows something extraordinary happened today.
Today, the insurgents lost.
I don't want to be excitable, but aren't you feeling euphoric? It's almost a classic tale of good defeating evil. We always needed the Iraqi people to seize freedom for themselves. Given the chance, they have. This is their victory, made possible by those amazing Western troops. This day eclipses - although, alas, it cannot undo - any errors we have made. Only freedom can defeat terror. Today, freedom won.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Historic day: January 30, 2005

Usually, interested Americans watch a foreign election wondering only "who will win?" and/or "will it be fair?" That is not at all the case in Iraq. We don't even really know who the candidates are, but we do know that -- regardless of the inevitable irregularities and likely attempts at fraud -- the Shiites are going to "win" in the sense that their representatives will get a majority of the votes. The story in this election will be how many Iraqis are willing to defy the Sunni thugs for the sake of their own futures as well as future generations, and how many of those people are killed as a result. In that sense, I don't think that there has been an election remotely like this one in my lifetime.

I intend to bifurcate my evaluation of the news from Sunday into two categories: (1) what happened in the Sunni Triangle?; and (2) what happened in the rest of the country? The establishment of democracy anywhere requires time, and this election is only the first step for Iraq. After decades of repression in any country, a qualified success in the first democratic elections thereafter is probably the most that can be reasonably hoped for under the best of circumstances and, obviously, the best of circumstances do not exist in Iraq right now.

(NOTE: I have cross-posted this at Centerfield (here) with the following comment: "Please use this thread to express any thoughts you have regarding the good, the bad and/or the ugly in connection with this weekend's elections in Iraq." If you have something to say (even anonymously) you can do it either here, there, or in both places.)

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Those savvy experts

Via Wonkette.

Barbara Boxer and DailyKos

Sen. Barbara Boxer has a diary at DailyKos. See here.

Way out there

The University of Colorado must be proud to count this guy among its faculty.

A University of Colorado professor has sparked controversy in New York over an essay he wrote that maintains that people killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were not innocent victims. . .

The essay contends the hijackers who crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11 were "combat teams," not terrorists.

It states: "The most that can honestly be said of those involved on Sept. 11 is that they finally responded in kind to some of what this country has dispensed to their people as a matter of course."

The essay maintains that the people killed inside the Pentagon were "military targets."

"As for those in the World Trade Center," the essay said, "well, really, let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break."

The essay goes on to describe the victims as "little Eichmanns," referring to Adolph Eichmann, who executed Adolph Hitler's plan to exterminate Jews during
World War II.

Via Andrew Sullivan.

Email from Rice to State Dept. employees

This is interesting.

China's thugs

They are beating up people who attempt to mourn the death of the former head of the Communist Party. Gosh I hope that I live to see this evil government fall.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Bush's press conference

With only 45 minutes notice, Bush announced his intention to give a press conference today. Perhaps his intention was to partially preempt a news-cycle that included reports of the deadliest day in Iraq for Americans since the war started. Personally, I don't think that this White House is that spontaneous and, instead, I think that this press conference was planned with the singular intent to address the building push-back from Congress (including Republicans) on the Social Security issue.

I was home this afternoon with a sick child and, being the geek that I am, I watched a CSPAN repeat of Bush's press conference. It struck me that he kept saying that he was "looking forward to" working with Democrats. I have now found the transcript from the press conference (here), and confirmed that he used the "looking forward to" phrase 15 times. (Gee--I wonder if it was a talking point that was discussed ahead of time?)

I think that Bush understands that his Social Security "reform" agenda is already in deep trouble.

(For substantially similar post at Centerfield and comments posted there, click here.)

Liar label

As I have said before, it irks me to no end when the liar label is thrown around without the offering of any specific evidence of such alleged lying. So today my ire is focused on Mark Dayton, who was quoted in the StarTribune as follows.

Minnesota Sen. Mark Dayton said he is voting against Rice to protest what he labeled the administration's "lying" about Iraq.

"My vote against this nomination is my statement that this administration's lying must stop now," Dayton said on the Senate floor. "I don't like to impugn anyone's integrity, but I really don't like being lied to repeatedly, flagrantly, intentionally," he said. "It's wrong. It's undemocratic, it's un-American, and it's dangerous.

"And it is occurring far too frequently in this administration. And this Congress, this Senate must demand that it stop now."

I would listen if the argument was "bad decisions were made based on unconfirmed facts." But if you are going to call someone a habitual liar, you better damn well be specific and, if you can't cite specific evidence, in my view you expose yourself as nothing but a political hack who does not belong in the United States Senate.

Save me from myself or I will sue

In more than one case in which I have represented a creditor seeking to collect a debt, the debtor has asserted a counterclaim for "negligent lending" (i.e., you should have known that I would be a deadbeat). I mention that only because this story reminded me of those silly counterclaims.

Iraqi election coverage

Michael Totten has a new (albeit temporary) gig, editing reports filed directly by Iraqi correspondents during the week before and the week after the January 30 election in Iraq.

Saturday Night Live

I haven't watched SNL in years. But the good news now is that, in the unlikely event that there is a funny skit on the show that becomes a topic of discussion, I can probably find the skit on the Internet somewhere.

I have seen several references to the skit last week about the confirmation hearings for Condi Rice. Well, thanks to this link, I have now seen the skit. It is pretty funny.

It is true (kind of)

"President's wife" charged with drink driving

"Centrist" Democrats

From the Washington Post today is this.
Some of the Democrats who opposed Rice were centrists from states in which President Bush won or ran strongly in November, including Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
With the exception of Bayh, are any these Senators really "centrists"?

More Sharansky

A week before the inauguration speech, I mentioned Bush's reading list here. Newsweek now has an interesting article on the profound influence that Sharansky's book has had on Bush. Obviously, the book is a must-read for anyone who truly strives to understand Bush's likely foreign policy moves in the next four years.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Meet Mr. Snowman

Cole has been asking me all winter to build a snowman. Until last weekend, my (good) excuse was that we didn't have any snow. After we got 7 inches of snow last weekend, my (still good) excuse was that it was too powdery. But today it was 43 degrees here, the snow became moist and we went to work. This is our creation.

Gun to the head

Message: "We are the mafia, and we are only about killing people to preserve our power." At least the Nazis and the communists in Vietnam pretended that they had the best interests of the "people" at heart.

I remain cautiously optimistic about Iraq because 80% of the population (i.e., the Shiites and the Kurds) have been oppressed for decades by these thugs and I think that majority will see that there is no choice but to defeat this insurgency. Whether actual democracy can take root is another question, but the recent "there will be no turbans in the government" consensus is a good sign.

Refuge for the homeless

A big story here this week has been about a homeless man found living in a local high school. The story is here. This reminds me of a story from when I was living in Philadelphia. We rented an apartment in a twin home, where one side was a triplex and the owner lived in the other side. From time to time, some young local men would hang around the owner's house and, in exchange for some free meals and and free beer, they would help him with his remodeling projects.

At one point, there was a guy who was around for only a week. At the end of that week, someone broke into the apartment upstairs and stole a bunch of stuff, including a computer that I had loaned to the neighbor. With the owner, we then did a top to bottom search of the house and found that this guy had broken into and had been sleeping in the basement/crawl space. In retrospect, it was obvious that he had simply been casing the place for a week. No point to my tale, other than I was reminded of it by the news story above.

Sometime I will write a post about another guy who hung around the owner's house and how one night, after a few beers, he admitted to the owner and me that he had killed a guy.

Tuesday's stupid criminal

He claimed that he was only pretending to be a sex predator.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Monday's stupid criminal

He faked heart attacks to avoid paying restaurant checks.

Cheer up

Today, Monday January 24, is reckoned to be the most depressing day of the year, according to research by Privilege Insurance. Post-Christmas downers, empty bank accounts and cold dark days instill a lack of drive.

Men vs. women

Harvard President Larry Summers found himself on the defensive last week because, at an off the record seminar, he pointed out that there is some research that suggests that there are differences in how the brains of men and women work. Learning from his mistake, I am not going to call any attention to this research that suggests reasons why women can't read a map, and I urge you to pay no attention at all to it.


Here is an interesting fact I heard on the radio this morning and did a Google search to confirm: "Before Thomas Edison’s invention of the light bulb, people slept an average of 10 hours a night; today Americans average 6.9 hours of sleep on weeknights and 7.5 hours per night on weekends."

No wonder there is a Starbucks or Caribou Coffee in every single office building in downtown Minneapolis.

Monday's stupid law enforcement officer

Background: "Rodger Lake, 32, of Athens was plowing a driveway last week for a family friend who has a bad back."

Result: "Lake is now facing a Jan. 31 court appearance. If he is convicted, he could face up to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine."

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Time flies

This is an interesting list of pop-culture anniversaries in 2005.

Scalia's campaign

Now it looks like Scalia is trying to soften his image in an effort to promote his candidacy for Chief Justice. I've said it before (here too), and I will say it again (and again, and again), the country and the Court would be better off if Bush bypassed both Scalia and Thomas and instead named Anthony Kennedy as Chief. Nothing would better back up the "uniter, not a divider" rhetoric.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

The inauguration speech

CAPTION OF THIS PHOTO: "Moved to Tears Casey Owens, a wounded Marine, salutes as his mother Janna Owens cries during the inaugural speech by President Bush."

I have not completely sorted out my thoughts on Bush's inauguration speech. The underlying idea I agree with: the spread of democracy is not only "right" in an altruistic sense, but it is the best way to protect the national security of this country. However, in our imperfect world, we are going to have to do business and even be allies with governments that I personally find loathsome. Balancing realpolitik with idealism is difficult, but necessary.

Bill Kristol strikes the balance as follows (although to really appreciate his points, you need to click and read the whole piece):
Bush's Second Inaugural moves American foreign policy beyond the war on terror to the larger struggle against tyranny. It grounds Bush's foreign policy--American foreign policy--in American history and American principles. If actions follow words and success greets his efforts, then President Bush will have ushered in a new era in American foreign policy. . .

Expansive does not mean reckless. Bush avoids John Kennedy's impressive but overly grand, "pay any price, bear any burden" formulation. Bush states that military force will of course be used to "protect this nation and its people against further attacks and emerging threats," and that "we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary." But he explains that the task of ending tyranny around the world is not "primarily the task of arms." The goal of ending tyranny will be pursued through many avenues, and is the "work of generations."

At this point, my read of the speech is similar to Kristol's. I seriously doubt, absent a new attack in the US., that there will be any new wars initiated by the U.S. in the next four years. Rather, I think that Bush wants this idea -- i.e., that increased U.S. national security is dependent upon decreased tyranny around the world -- to be his historical legacy. He was not telegraphing foreign policy tactics for the next 4 years as much as attempting to shift foreign policy strategy for the next generation.

(For substantively related post at Centerfield and comments posted there, click here.)

Classless prick

The buzz has always been that Vijay Singh is a prick. Now I have all of the confirming evidence that I need, and I hope the guy chokes in every major championship that he plays in during the rest of his career.

From his long-time caddy comes this.
“I never got a ‘Good morning’ from Vijay, or ‘good club’ after a shot, or ‘have a nice night’ at the end of the day. It was either nothing or a negative if he did speak to me,” Renwick said. “Being courteous isn’t much to ask. There’s only so much of that stuff you can take, no matter how good the money is.”
Vijay is also the guy who, upon leaving Augusta in 2000 as the Masters champion, said "kiss my ass, everybody." Classless and a prick. What an endearing combination.

Saturday's stupid criminal.

Click here.
"It would make a perfect story for the television show, 'The World's Dumbest Criminals,' " said county police spokesman Cpl. Trinidad Navarro.


We had our first snowstorm of the year yesterday. When it was all said and done, 7 inches of snow had fallen.

Determined to prevent ice dams this year, in addition to clearing the driveway and the sidewalks, I also cleared the snow off the roof. As I was on the roof of the second story looking out on our neighborhood on a sunny day, I saw an old neighbor take his snowblower over to the house of our soon-to-be-new neighbor and clear his driveway, sending the soon-to-be-new neighbor and his shovel into the house to work on his remodeling project. I saw other neighbors chatting, and others walking their dogs. My hands were wet and cold and I had snow in my boots, but I was serene.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Gadhafi the Rapper

People are going to pay for this.
LONDON (AP) - A new opera based on the life of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, featuring a rapper as Gadhafi and a chorus of all-female bodyguards, highlights the new season of the English National Opera.
I'm looking forward to the sequel featuring Assad and Iranian mullahs.

Sponge Bob

This is ridiculous.

LOS ANGELES - Christian Conservative groups have issued a gay alert warning over a children's video starring SpongeBob SquarePants, Barney and a host of other cartoon favorites.

Falwell made a fool of himself 5 years ago when he made similar claims about the Teletubbies. I expect that in the winter of 2009 Pat Robertson is going to claim that Ernie and Bert are secretly sleeping together.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

More nuance from Sen. Kerry

Senator Kerry has sent clear signals that he intends to run again in 2008, so it is fair to assume that everything he does in the near future is intended to advance that effort. This election year, he obviously had a problem explaining his shifting positions on the war in Iraq. So now, consider this.
Condoleezza Rice was overwhelmingly endorsed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today to be the next secretary of state, but only after some spirited exchanges signaled that Iraq will be a divisive issue in President Bush's second term.

The 16-to-2 vote by the panel cleared the way for Ms. Rice to be confirmed by the full Senate . .

The "no" votes by Senators Boxer and Kerry were no surprise, given their sharp questioning of Ms. Rice on the reasons for going to war against Iraq, the prosecution of the war, and the peacekeeping operations that have caused more American deaths than the war itself.

In August, Kerry was saying that he would have voted to authorize the war even knowing what we know now (i.e, that Saddam did not have WMD). Now he is aligning himself with Sen. Boxer.

What is going on and how could this possibly help him in 2008? There is no way, at this point, that he can run as the anti-Iraq war Democrat in 2008, is there?

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

Olive branch

The French Foreign Minister has called for "a new trans-Atlantic relationship" between the United States and its European allies. . .

"We have to work together in the broader sense, and probably in what I call a new trans-Atlantic relationship, and get in the habit to talk more to each other -- even when we don't agree, because that happens -- to talk more about politics," he said Wednesday.
Gosh, I thought a rapprochement with France was going to be possible only if Kerry were elected and he went to Europe to express contrition on behalf of everyone in the United States for our collective sins.

Judgment day

Take notice of this court judgment; it "is the equivalent of 1,400 times Spain’s gross domestic product, or the wealth Spaniards could generate in 1,000 years. "

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


JibJab's "This Land" parody was the best example of needed comic relief during the last year for me. Their new "Second Term" parody is not quite as knee-slapping funny, but it is worth 90 seconds of your life.

Survive this

What a moron.
JANUARY 18--Richard Hatch, the first winner of CBS's "Survivor," was charged today with failing to report his $1 million reality TV windfall to the Internal Revenue Service.
It is one thing not to report the $500 you won at blackjack, but to not report $1 million that you won on national television is the definition of stupidity.

German pranksters

Berlin - German police have their hands full - pranksters in Berlin have been sticking miniature American flags into piles of dog poop in public parks.
This pisses me off! Okay, feigned indignation over, laughter has commenced. And they have been doing this for a year!

Tuesday's stupid criminal

A counterfeiter who tries to pay bail with funny money.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Zhao Ziyang

Zhao Ziyang has died.
Former Chinese Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang, who was ousted amid the upheaval surrounding the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, has died at the age of 85, the state news agency Xinhua has announced.

Zhao had suffered from respiratory and cardiovascular problems and died early Monday in a Beijing hospital, Xinhua said.

Zhao was considered one of the standard-bearers of political and economic reform in China.

He opposed the use of force against the Tiananmen Square demonstrators and was removed from his post during the clampdown.

The former leader had been kept under house arrest until his death.

The death of Hu Yaobang sparked the 1989 uprising in Tiananmen Square. Maybe Zhao's death will be the spark for something as well. Either way, I think that it is almost inevitable that, oneday, both Hu and Zhao will be canonized in Chinese history books as heroes. I hope that day comes sooner than we might otherwise expect.


Apparently, this "amusement" park is real.

The marketing plug: “It combines the charms of a Disneyland with the worst of the Soviet gulag prison camp.”

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Traffic fines

The primary idea behind fines for traffic violations is deterrence. Someone who spends $150 on dinner out one night is not going to be too deterred by a $150 speeding ticket, but someone who spends $150 a month on all of his or her food expenditures is likely to be at least somewhat deterred by the possibility of such a fine. Also, my experience is that the menances on the road are far more likely to be driving a BMW than they are to be driving a Hyundai. Thus, although described as "leftist," I think that this is an idea worth exploring here.

Who is talking?

According to this story, the United States is conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran to help identify potential nuclear, chemical and missile targets. As James Joyner notes, this should be no surprise. But I note that the unidentified sources of this "information" for Seymour Hersh obviously are people with very high level security clearances. Why are they leaking information that could get people killed? Sounds criminal to me.

Hard choices

As I mentioned here, even the Boston Globe editorial board agrees Syria's recent behavior requires some response. Now Investor's Business Daily takes up the cause.

The fact is, Syria is harboring terrorists who are training insurgents to kill innocents in a country where we are trying to set up a model democracy. It is also an entry and exit point for insurgents, terrorists, weapons and money into and out of Iraq — and beyond.

As a former senior U.S. intelligence official put it in a UPI report, "Syria is complicit in the insurgency up to its eyeballs." . . .

Assad has made the country a target. It is an enemy of peace, a rogue nation, a patron of terrorists — all facts that, according to a UPI report, have shifted minds within a Bush administration that had been opposed to striking there.

Regime change in Syria should be the ultimate goal of the civilized world. But for now, liquidation of the insurgents will do.

Bush's intelligence

More evidence from Newsweek that Bush is neither dumb, disengaged, nor uninterested in details.
As he starts his final four years in the White House, President Bush is by far the biggest agent of change in his own cabinet. Whether he's remaking his team or plotting his second-term policies, Bush's leadership style belies his caricature as a disengaged president who is blindly loyal, dislikes dissent and covets his own downtime. In fact, Bush's aides and friends describe the mirror image of a restless man who masters details and reads avidly, who chews over his mistakes and the failings of those around him, and who has grown ever more comfortable pulling the levers of power. Of course, those closest to Bush have a vested interest in singing his praises. But they also make a compelling case that the president is a more complex and engaged character than his popular image suggests. And that he—not Karl Rove, Dick Cheney or anyone else—bears the full weight of responsibility for the ultimate successes and failures of his reign.

To anyone who really wants to better understand Bush, friend or foe, I suggest that you read the whole article.

Today's prediction

I am 1-4 in my predictions of Vikings games this year. Today's prediction is this:

Eagles 24, Vikings 14.

Here is to hoping that I'm wrong again.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Genocide justice

I remember reading the stories 10 years ago about the genocide in Rwanda and feeling both horrified and helpless. But it is hard to imagine that this process is going to actually produce real justice in any sort of acceptably consistent fashion.

One million Rwandans - an eighth of the country's population - are expected to be tried for alleged participation in the 1994 genocide, an official said yesterday. . .

The new estimate of one million indicates the vast scale of the task of bringing to justice those suspected of participating in the killings of 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus massacred in Rwanda between April and June 1994.

I hope that I am wrong.


I actually feel somewhat sorry for people like this.

"I sort of felt ashamed, and didn't really want to be associated with being an American," said Rothchild, who lives in New York City and voted for John Kerry.

Ashamed to be an American because Bush got 130,000 more votes than Kerry in Ohio. How sad.


Item from Iraq.
[T]here is a pronounced optimism about what the elections signify among people who have grasped for a turning point during nearly two years of occupation. For many of the men gathered here, sitting under portraits of Baghdad's history, the elections are more important than the candidates.

"Without elections, there will be tyranny," said Kadhim Hassan, a 37-year-old writer.

I have seen enough stories like this to also be cautiously optimistic that a ruthless faction of the 20% Sunni minority will not be able to stop democracy from "finding its way" in Iraq.

Sex slavery

Kristof: "Cambodia may be becoming the first sex-slavery state. " Read it, and be prepared to weep.

Kristof travels the globe to see first-hand immense problems most people are not even aware of and he then uses his valuable space on the New York Times op-ed page to draw attention to those problems. How anyone can have anything but deep respect for the guy is beyond me?

Bush's reading list

Interesting. I am going to have to get Sharansky's book.

UPDATE: Bill Kristol comments on Bush's interest in Sharansky's book.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Democracy and religion

From Andrew Sullivan.
DERBYSHIRE AWARD NOMINEE: "It's time to ask, bluntly, whether self-government can work for people not operating within a Judeo-Christian worldview." - Joseph Farah, WorldNet Daily, a far right website. One word: India.

Another word: Japan.

The war against radical Islam

It is probably going to last the rest of my lifetime.


Pro athletes in Minnesota cover the complete spectrum. Kevin Garnett is one of the classiest guys in pro sports. Randy Moss is continually adding to earned reputation as one of the least classy guys. This from yesterday:

Reporter: "Randy, are you upset about the fine?"

Moss: "No, cause it ain't [expletive]. Ain't nothing but 10 grand. What's 10 grand to me? Ain't [expletive] … Next time I might shake my [expletive]."

Weapons of mass homosexuality

The official policy of the U.S. military regarding homosexuals is "don't ask, don't tell." But at about the same time that policy was put in place, the Pentagon was working on the development of a chemical weapon that would be dropped on enemy troops and would make them gay. Really, the story is here.

Friday's stupid criminal

Steals truck, calls 911.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Election workers in Iraq

Brave folks.

Threatened, attacked, kidnapped and killed, Iraq's election workers are finding that being at the forefront of the electoral process means surviving the frontlines of an insurgency determined to stop it. . .

This particular worker says he does it to serve his country. "There are a lot of people around the world who also would fight for what I do," he said after finishing his day recently at the election commission. "I believe in democracy."

More Friedman

Once again, Friedman provides light.

[The insurgents] started the war not to get their fair share of Iraqi power, but in hopes of retaining their unfair share. Under Saddam, Iraq's Sunni minority, with only 20 percent of the population, ruled everyone. These fascist insurgents have never given politics a chance to work in Iraq because they don't want it to work. That's why they have never issued a list of demands. They don't want people to see what they are really after, which is continued minority rule, Saddamism without Saddam. . .

[T]he least bad option right now for the U.S. is to forge ahead with the elections . . .

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Red McCombs: a fool

Red McCombs is apparently jealous that Randy Moss is getting so much attention for his stupid stunt. So McCombs decided to issue a press release making a stupid demand.
Minnesota Vikings owner Red McCombs asked Fox Sports to remove play-by-play announcer Joe Buck from Sunday's divisional playoff game at Philadelphia because of his sharp criticism of wide receiver Randy Moss.


I'm bored with Rathergate. But Letterman's top ten list on the subject is worth a click of the link.

He will be back

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) is vetting the leading candidates to be the next emocratic National Committee (DNC) chairman, and asking them to remain neutral in the presidential selection process in 2008. It is the latest indication that Kerry is putting down markers to run again for the party’s presidential nomination in 2008.

Why failure in Iraq is not an option

Read here.

[S]uccess — or failure — in this war [on terror] will not depend on whether we can conduct better passenger searches or kill terrorist bands. It will depend on whether we can help to establish a competing ideology — of democratic capitalism with Islamic characteristics — in the Middle East. That is why the upcoming January elections in Iraq are so singularly important.

If we are able to help Iraqis — situated in the heart of the Middle East and bordering six major Islamic societies — to establish a synthesis of Western democratic capitalism and Islamic traditions, such an ideology will prove to be even more irresistible than religious purism-turned-extremist.

On the other hand, if we are unsuccessful in this endeavor or recoil from it, we will have to live with a continuing cycle of intrusive homeland-security measures and costly preemptive conflicts — a war without an end.


Robot makers say World Cup will be theirs by 2050

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Another name change

When I decided to set up this blog, my ultimate goal was to establish another haven for civilized discussion among reasonable people about the events of the day. Such a discussion in the comments has been understandably limited to this point (although there have been lively discussions in the comments at cross-posts at Centerfield), but the traffic has been otherwise way above expectations thanks to links from super-bloggers such as Instapundit, Roger L. Simon, and Joe Gandelman.

At this point, I have decided that before too much time passes (how long is 2 months in blog years?), I want to take my name out of the title of this blog, and change the blog's name to an idea. The idea is this: regardless of the question presented, what would a reasonably prudent group of persons conclude is the correct course of action under the circumstances? (This is the question typically presented to juries.)

So going forward (until I change my mind again), this blog will be titled: "Reasonable Prudence." I want to encourage anyone who stumbles upon this blog to express his or her "reasonably prudent" judgment on any issue raised.

Christmas wish granted

Details here.


Be prepared to laugh at this.

US presidential candidate John Kerry might have got some votes had Eminem released his anti-Bush single and accompanying video much before the election, or so he thinks.

According to Rate the music, Eminem released 'Mosh' just before the election, but he fears he could have swung the vote against the President if the track was released two weeks earlier.

The combination of ego and cluelessness is astounding.


Atrios is in another "pissy" mood today.

If I Were the Mayor of DC

I'd do everything possible to ensure this inaugural was a disaster. Of course, making sure there's appropriate security is the right thing to do, but there are other ways to pee in the punch bowl...

-Atrios 1:20 PM

I beginning to doubt whether he is going to be able to survive the next four years.


Tsunami survivor picked up after 15 days

Monday, January 10, 2005

Gay adoption

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday by four men who challenged Florida's ban on adoption by gay couples, avoiding another contentious fight over gay rights. Florida is the only state with a blanket law prohibiting homosexuals from adopting children, but the high court was told that other states could now feel free to copy the ban.
For the record, I don't think that gay couples have a constitutional right to adopt. But I do think that a statute that prohibits gay adoption represents really bad public policy. We know a couple who are lesbians and who are awesome parents. One is a lawyer, the other is a doctor, and they both are strong candidates for the world's nicest person award. I'm also pretty sure that they are not going to try to teach their daughter to be a lesbian (as if that would be possible).

Lots of kids are waiting to be adopted, and not one should be sentenced to a childhood in an orphanage or foster home because of homophobia.

No excuse, but . . .

Regarding Moss, new information today from Tony Dungy, who is not exactly an apologist for inexcusable behavior from NFL players.
"I will say one thing about Moss ... probably no one in the country can appreciate what is behind that," Dungy said. "What happens — and if you play in that division, which I did for a long time, you know — when you leave the parking lot in Green Bay that's kind of a tradition their fans have. They stand next to the fence as the buses go out and they moon the buses.

"Randy has had about six or seven years of those guys mooning him as he's left after a loss and I think that was his way of saying, 'OK, appreciate the fun, you guys had your fun, here's a little shout back at you.' That's what that was all about."

I still think that there is no excuse for what Moss did. But this is a relevant fact in judging how harsely he should be condemned.

Scott Ritter

He has found a home at Al Jazeera.

(Via Oxblog.)

Big win

To this Vikings' fan, yesterday's victory makes up for a lot because it was the Packers at Lambeau. Culpepper was great. The defense was better than it has been all year. But Randy Moss continues to intentionally do stupid things to guarantee that the attention will be focused squarely on him. His embarrassing celebration gesture revealed in a unique way what an ass he really is.

New thinking in War on Terror

This article predicts that the War on Terror will go on indefinitely, and recommends that the military be reorganized to fight that war better. I agree with the prediction, and do not have the expertise to debate the recommendation about the need to reorganize the military. But I don't think that I need to be an expert to conclude that the article's second recommendation -- negotiations with bin Laden and al Qaeda -- is just stupid.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Headlines that I missed


My favorite: "Voting by dead people isn't always a scam."

Gun control

If it were up to me (the Constitution notwithstanding), people would be allowed to have shotguns and rifles for hunting and it would be illegal to possess any other type of gun. However, I know that is never going to happen. But there are some things we can all agree should be illegal for civilians to possess, can't we?
(CBS) A military rifle capable of piercing armor from over a mile away is too readily available to civilians, and could end up in terrorists' hands, say critics of the .50-caliber weapon that is for sale in 49 states.

Get a haircut


North Korea has launched an intensive media assault on its latest arch enemy - the wrong haircut.

A campaign exhorting men to get a proper short-back-and-sides has been aired by state-run Pyongyang television.

The series is entitled Let us trim our hair in accordance with Socialist lifestyle.

And to think that these lunatics have nuclear weapons. Shudder.

Saturday, January 08, 2005


Stories like this convince me that no matter what the "day after" response of the United States was after the tsunamis hit, we weren't going to create any significant goodwill in the Muslim world.
The earthquake that struck the Indian Ocean on December 26, triggering a series of huge waves called tsunami, "was possibly" caused by an Indian nuclear experiment in which "Israeli and American nuclear experts participated," an Egyptian weekly magazine reported Thursday.

According to Al-Osboa', India, in its heated nuclear race with Pakistan, has lately received sophisticated nuclear know-how from the United States and Israel, both of which "showed readiness to cooperate with India in experiments to exterminate humankind."

Yankee or Dixie?

Is your dialect more Yankee or Dixie? Take this quiz to find out.

My score: "41% (Yankee). Barely into the Yankee category."

(Hat tip: Rick Heller)


Packers 31, Vikings 14.

And I will finally be put out of my misery.

Stinginess update

AP poll: 3 in 10 in U.S. gave tsunami aid

The end of the road

I cited the Fishing Hat Bandit as a lucky criminal here. Yesterday, his luck apparently ran out after 23 bank robberies in Minnesota.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Marc Cooper: must read

After about a month of reading his blog, I have concluded that Marc Cooper is one of the best commentators in the blogosphere. He is equally tough in calling both Democrats and Republicans on their BS. This time, commenting on yesterday's objection to vote certification by the Democrats, he writes this:
What happened today is that the Democrats made the usual waffling fools out of themselves. And unless you are some sort of fanatical reader of the lefty press and actually believe there was some sort of conspiracy in Ohio, you probably saw the Dems today as little more than sour-grape obstructionists bent on sullying the mostly ceremonial re-election of the President and of scapegoating their defintive November loss on same vague and undefined Republican plot.

What is your average American to think of what happened today? Are the Democrats challenging or not challenging the election? Or do they even know? Whoever came up with a jack-ass as the symbol of this party was one wise and prescient fellow.

Cooper is going on my short list of recommended blogs to the right.

The 25 Funniest Political Quotes of 2004


Friday's stupid criminal

"In the annals of really dumb things to do while committing a crime, this is one of the best."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Blog marketing of a book about blogs

Hugh Hewitt has been quite effective at marketing his new book about blogs. As far as I can tell, he has conducted that marketing mostly via the free advertising offered by blogs. Here is just one example of such free advertising for the book, this time from the Time's "blog of the year."

I am glad that I make my living as a lawyer, where the rule of ancient precedent applies, rather than as a marketing expert, where everything that I might have known yesterday could be obsolete tomorrow. The rules of marketing definitely appear to be changing.

CNN's "Crossfire" to be canceled


I stopped watching this show on a regular basis long ago, but occasionally I will catch parts of it while working out at the YMCA. The concept was to put hard-core lefties and hard-core righties onto a set together and have them shout at and interrupt each other for 30 minutes. Not particularly illuminating.

UPDATE: Today presents another rare opportunity to agree with Atrios, who says--
Well, I'm not entirely sad to see Crossfire go, of course. It did devolve into something mostly unwatchable. But, it was about the only place on the vast liberal media landscape where partisan lefties actually had a platform. The truth about Crossfire is that in many ways it took all of the worst elements of these types of shows, put them in a blender, and then cut it down to half an hour.

"Sorry everybody"

First there was Now you can preorder the book. The forward is by none other than Ted Rall.

(Note to the apologizers: You look silly, and this stunt hurts rather than helps Democrats.)

Now I'm depressed

The reason that Kevin Drum is depressed makes me depressed.

Governor Arnold delivered his State of the State speech last night, and I came away deeply depressed. But not for the reason you might expect. . .

No, what depressed me was Schwarzenegger's proposal to end gerrymandering in California — and that's hugely ironic, because . . .this is a great idea . . .

So why am I depressed? Because the insanely partisan atmosphere of contemporary American politics means I can't support this proposal even though I think it would be good for the state. . .

So as much as I hate myself for this, count me out.

Even when Democrats and Republicans agree on substance, they can't take positive steps forward because to do so would be to give aid and comfort to the enemy (i.e., the bleeding heart, appeasing liberals or the greedy, evil conservatives). I guess that I should at least give Drum credit for admitting the absurdity of this.

UPDATE: Here is an update from Drum's site:

"UPDATE: I note from my trackbacks that many moderates and conservatives are unhappy with my stand on gerrymandering reform. I don't blame them. But how about if we make a deal?

Here it is: get Texas to adopt Arnold's reform. As soon as they do, not only will I support Arnold, I will personally gather signatures, raise money, contribute money, and blog endlessly for the cause. Any takers?"

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

The kind of nation we are

Eric Alterman.
Stingy Watch: Australia upped its aid to $764 million, making it the new top donor. Germany also increased its offering to about $690 million. Japan is ahead of us too, here. I guess helping to save people really is worth only 4.5 hours of killing them. But I guess that’s just the kind of nation we are.

No, this is what kind of nation we are. I am sick of this leftist crap where everything is viewed in terms of how evil Bush is, and how stupid and uncaring Americans are.

Jury duty

When Stephen Breyer appeared for jury duty at the courthouse in Marlborough, Mass., he wasn't chosen to be on a case. But then he's decided many in his life -- as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. The district judge in Marlborough says a Supreme Court justice could have wriggled out of jury duty with a phone call.

I can't believe that there is not a standing rule that judges shall not serve on juries. Who in a jury room is going to argue or to disagree with a judge?

The civil war we want

Friedman seems to get it right today.

It needs to be clear that these so-called insurgents are not fighting to liberate Iraq from America, but rather to reassert the tyranny of a Sunni-Baathist minority over the majority there. The insurgents are clearly desperate that they not be cast as fighting a democratically elected Iraqi government - which is why they are desperately trying to scuttle the elections. After all, if all they wanted was their fair share of the pie, and nothing more, they would be taking part in the elections.

We cannot liberate Iraq, and never could. Only Iraqis can liberate themselves, by first forging a social contract for sharing power and then having the will to go out and defend that compact against the minorities who will try to resist it. Elections are necessary for that process to unfold, but not sufficient. There has to be the will - among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds - to forge that equitable social contract and then fight for it.

The story I learned in Sunday school about the difference between giving a man a fish and teaching him how to catch his own fish somehow seems apt.

UPDATE: Looks like Instapundit plagarized this post. (That is a joke.)

Wackiest warning labels

Here they are. And the winner is . . .
A toilet brush with a tag that says "Do not use for personal hygiene" has taken top prize for the wackiest consumer warning label of the year, according to an anti-lawsuit group.

Thursday's stupid criminal

Fake police officer pulls over real police officer.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Weird headlines of 2004


Self-inflicted injuries

Some Democrats simply can't resist the urge to inflict damage upon their own cause. The latest example is this.

A handful of House Democrats plan a long-shot effort to snarl President Bush's formal re-election by preventing Congress from counting Ohio's pivotal votes when lawmakers tally the electoral vote on Thursday. . .

In a measure of the dispute's political delicacy, proponents are considered unlikely to find a senator who will co-sign the objection, which is required to force Congress to act on the challenge. Most Democrats are reluctant to launch a serious effort to undo the election, in which Bush outpolled Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., by more than 3 million votes nationally. . .

The House Democrats' chief hope of finding a supportive senator may be Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. Her spokesman, David Sandretti, said Tuesday that she has been asked to sign the complaint "and she is considering it."

The only thing that this effort will draw attention to is that some Democrats are not willing to accept the clear results of the election.

UPDATE: Boxer did it. She just couldn't resist.

Lying punks

I recently cited a quote from Seif el-Islam el-Qaddafi, son of Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi, which appeared to suggest support for a shift to democracy. In his new column, Michael Totten says Seif is nothing but a lying punk, and he makes a compelling argument to back up that assertion.

Children of dictators are raised in places where absolute power and absolute privilege reside. That is the reason I suspect that they are, if anything, likely to be worse than their fathers. Just last week the Boston Globe opined that in Syria "Bashar Assad, has earned a reputation for reckless behavior, the antithesis of his father Hafez Assad's careful, calculating statecraft." Kim Jong-il is certainly no better than his father. And Odai and Qusay were at least as brutal as Saddam.

Thus, in addition to the reasons Totten offered for skepticism, I suspect that his instincts about Seif el-Islam are correct.


Richard Gere is the self-appointed spokesman for the entire world. "One man who appeared with him in the spot said he'd never heard of Gere." You can't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Tsunami orphans sold into sex trade

More evidence (like we needed it) that there are lots of people in this world who are just downright evil.

UPDATE (from Centerfield post):

The escalating nature of the pledges (both public and private) from around the world to help the tsunami victims has been astounding. My agenda with this post is to try to find a way to funnel some of that relief to help a specific group: orphans.

For me, although tragedy is everywhere, the stories of the sale of orphans into prostitution really touch a nerve. So my question is this: What organization is best positioned to effectively combat this specific problem, and how do we donate to them? I have already made out the check. I just need to fill in the payee.

UPDATE: I should have mentioned that I have considered UNICEF and if I don't learn of a better option, that is where my money will go. I guess I'm so skeptical of the UN's ability to administer effectively and efficiently any aid relief program that I am hoping that there is another, better option.

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

In need of a pedicure

You silly radical Muslim, you.
London, Jan. 4 (Reuters): Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri failed to appear before a British court today, complaining his toe nails were too long and he could not walk.

Tuesday's stupid criminal (who got away)

World's dumbest bank robber remains at large.

Could it be true?

Has al-Zarqawi been "captured"?

There was no significant delay in announcing the capture of Saddam, and announcing al-Zarqawi's capture could save some lives in Iraq, so I am deeply skeptical that this will turn out to be true.

Missing Americans

Death toll on 9/11: 2,752

Missing Americans in SE Asia after tsunamis: 4,000 to 5,000


My Party Too


One of President George W Bush's former cabinet officials has criticised his record and his electoral strategy, accusing him of running a short-term policy which will damage the Republicans in the future. . .

In a new book, It's My Party too: the battle for the heart of the GOP [Grand Old Party, the nickname for the Republican Party] and the Future of America, she escribes regular battles with "extreme anti-government ideologues".

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger also recently suggested that the Republican Party should move "a little to the left," a shift that he said would allow it to pick up new voters.

If Whitman and Schwarzenegger represented the heart and soul of the Republican party, I would be a Republican. Conversely, if Lieberman and Biden represented the heart and soul of the Democratic party, I would be a Democrat.

Independents like me make up approximately 30 percent of the electorate. Bush narrowly won the independent vote in 2000, but Kerry narrowly won the independent vote in 2004. The way for the Democrats to get back to the White House is to continue to gain among independents, which means a move to the center. The way for the Republicans to stop that from happening is to stake an equal claim to the center.

The bottom line is that centrism may be ascendant in the next four years. Here is to hoping, anyway.

Cautious optimism about Iraq: UPDATE

The cross-post at Centerfield on this topic has generated a lively debate. Check it out here if you are interested.


Some in Ohio refuse to give it up. Apparently, readers of DailyKos have been urging him to take up the cause. And believe it or not, they are making kos mad.

Us liberal bloggers like to brag that we live in the "reality-based community". It's kind of hard to be reality-based when people are claiming that Kerry won with no hard evidence to the contrary. Was there fraud? Sure. There always has been. Was the GOP ready to steal the election if necessary? No doubt. But they didn't have to steal this one. This wasn't 2000. . . .

Now, I was open minded at first, letting the fraudsters do the analysis, ready to pounce if the smoking gun was found. But after myriad diaries crying wolf, claiming that this was the evidence to seal the deal, well, it got old. Then it got counterproductive, then it got embarrassing. . .

If we want to talk fraud, then by all means, do so. Reform? The system obviously needs it. But "Kerry won" nonsense? I'm sick of it. . . George Bush won. It may not have been "fair and square", not when you run a campaign based on lying about your opponent's record, but he did get more votes than our guy, both in the popular column, and in the Electoral College. We hate it. it sucks. But it's reality. . .

Monday, January 03, 2005

Civil war among Democrats?

Ron Brownstein is one of the most insightful reporters around. He now reports that a truce is expiring among Democrats in Washington.

With respect to domestic policy, Brownstein says this.

The domestic squabble extends a long-standing dispute about how heavily Democrats should rely on anti-corporate and anti-free-trade economic populism in their message.

During the 1990s, many liberals felt that Clinton abandoned class-conscious themes by supporting the North American Free Trade Agreement and a balanced federal budget. Conversely, in 2000, centrists charged that Al Gore (news - web sites) fissured Clinton's winning coalition by reverting to a populist message that they believe drove away affluent social moderates.
As someone who is a relatively affluent social moderate (maybe even liberal), I can provide anecdotal support for the charges of the Democratic centrists. I voted for Clinton twice. But Gore's populist approach turned me off for two reasons. First, I didn't believe in the wisdom of it. Second, given his record as a centrist, I didn't believe that he believed in it.

With respect to the Democrats' internal fights over foreign policy, Brownstein notes that Peter Beinart, the editor of the New Republic, wrote an article last month that started the debate. Among other things, he urged Democrats to "take back their movement" from antiwar elements in the party that he called "softs," a group that included filmmaker Michael Moore and

In my judgment, not only does Beinart offer good advice from a purely policy point of view, but he offers good advice from a purely political point of view. Given that national security will be the most important issue in presidential elections for the foreseeable future, the Democrats need to find a way to convince a larger portion of the American electorate that they have at least as good of a vision for how to improve our national security. The problem, as I see it, is that I'm not really sure how, before 2008, they could actually achieve the necessary consensus on any "new" approach. The only solution, I think, is to actually nominate someone with the necessary "tough" credentials. Right now, Biden is the only realistic option who I see.

Biden, McCain, Biden, McCain. I'm like a broken record.

Wi-fi in Texas; nincompoops in Minnesota

The editorial board of the StarTribune is such a joke. Here is today's evidence.

Apparently, some Texas state parks are going to offer wi-fi Internet access at campgrounds. The StarTribune, from 1000 miles away, decides to weigh in with its opinion because its wants to "preserv[e] the Netlessness that some campers actually appreciate in a state park." Huh? Why should anyone care if someone in a campsite nearby is silently enjoying the outdoors at the same time as he or she surfs the Web. The answer apparently is that "[u]ndoubtedly" such people will be "sending e-mails, checking their stocks and surfing for smut." Sounds pretty bad. By the way, are people currently allowed to write letters or read the Wall Street Journal and/or Penthouse in Texas state parks? I will have to do some research to find out.

Here is the only effort made by the StarTribune to address the arguments offered in favor of wi-fi access.
The Texas department's observation that laptops won't generate noise, and therefore are more benign than boomboxes, is true but beside the point. And the assertion that wi-fi campers will be using their laptops to plan hikes, check weather or identify warblers -- well, that's a stretch.
Why are these assertions "beside the point"? Why are they a "stretch"? No explanations offered. I guess that when you know best what people everywhere should be doing, no explanations should be needed.

ANOTHER THOUGHT: Should Blackberries also be banned?

Identity crisis

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Baseball's Angels have a new name, and it's a mouthful: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The switch, which will be challenged in court by the city of Anaheim, is intended to help the team market itself to more of Southern California, attract more advertising sponsors and broadcast revenue, the team said Monday.
Red McCombs has made no secret of the fact that he would like to move the Vikings to L.A. Perhaps he would be satisfied if the team stayed put, but changed its name to the Los Angeles Vikings of Minnesota.

Leave the kids alone

This is irritating.
COSTA MESA, Calif. — Some parents and parishioners have accused the Roman Catholic diocese in Orange County of violating church doctrine by allowing a gay couple to enroll their children in a church school.
This group then demanded that the kids be kicked out of the school.

Kids don't choose their parents. They certainly shouldn't be kicked out of school for who their parents are.

Colin Powell

I'm a big Colin Powell fan. Thus, I am disappointed to read this.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- As he prepares to end his tenure as secretary of state, Colin Powell is ruling out a run for political office.
I doubt he will change his mind.

Chief Justice (part 2)

Northwestern law professor: "liberals (like me) might almost welcome Scalia's nomination as chief . . ."

I agree that the battle over who would replace him as an associate justice will be far more important, but in my view it is unrealisitc to think that he might moderate his views for the sake of his place in history.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Cautious optimism about Iraq

Last week, I called attention to a Fred Hiatt column that presented "reality-based" reasons for hope in Iraq despite the horrific violence. From the Washington Post today, another reason for cautious optimism.
BAGHDAD, Jan. 1 -- The number of Iraqis making sure they are properly registered to vote has surged dramatically, officials said Saturday, calling the rise evidence of enthusiasm for the Jan. 30 elections despite continuing security concerns that have blocked the process in two provinces.
The bad news in Iraq is very real. But so is the good news. And in my view, there could not really be any better news than that, despite relentless violence aimed at intimidating would-be voters, Iraqis are nevertheless flocking to register to vote.

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


The Vikings went 3-7 in the last 10 games, and went 1-4 in the last 5 games. They also lost the two "win and you're in" games to finish the season. Oh, and they are 2-20 in their last 22 games played outdoors.

Now, thanks to New Orleans beating Carolina, the Vikings are going to the playoffs anyway and will play outdoors next week.

I am so excited (not).

Anna Nicole Smith

I have absolutely no interest in what happens in the life of Anna Nicole Smith, but this is pretty funny.
"The judges were so paid off," a fuming Smith told me New Year's Eve, a day after a federal appeals court reversed a judgment awarding her $88.5 million from the estate of her elderly billionaire husband, J. Howard Marshall.

"Don't print that! You can't print that!" scolded her attorney Howard K. Stern . . .
Anna, Mr. "Howard Stern" will explain to you that the tort you just committed is called defamation.


Why should he run in 2008? Will he run? What would he need to do to get elected? Read here.

(Hat tip: Dave G.)

Chief Justice

Everyone seems to assume that Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who has cancer, will either retire or die this year. Jonathon Turley thinks that Associate Justice Clarence Thomas remains the front-runner to replace Rehnquist, and Turley usually knows what he is talking about.

As I have said before, I hope that Bush goes with a more moderate choice, such as Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. It seems to me that a conciliatory approach by a moderate conservative rather than a hard-line approach by hard-core conservative would best serve the Supreme Court and the country. But based on recent signs, I am beginning to believe that my hope will be unfulfilled.

Financial advice

Believe it or not, this guy seeks some advice regarding his personal finances.
Q: I have a complaint against my bank on a common issue. In the past year I have been assessed more than $2,000 in nonsufficient funds (NSF) fees from primarily electronic debit transactions. I will admit that some are probably because of mismanagement on my part. . .