Saturday, April 29, 2006

Truth of the day

Nothing in history is inevitable; events unfold as they do because leaders and their publics make choices. Neither civil war nor a democratic, pluralist government is predestined for Iraq. But one fact is clear: Premature withdrawal of U.S. forces -- before Iraqi troops are ready, or before the political and economic situation stabilizes -- will condemn Iraq and the region to a future of chaos, destruction and death.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Hell has frozen over

For once, I fully agree with Molly Ivins.

Of course there is an Israeli lobby in America; its leading working group is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). It calls itself "America's Pro-Israel Lobby," and it attempts to influence U.S. legislation and policy.

Several national Jewish organizations lobby from time to time. Big deal -- why is anyone pretending that this non-news requires falling on the floor and howling? Because of this weird deformity of debate.

In the United States, we do not have full-throated, full-throttle debate about Israel. In Israel, they have it as a matter of course, but the truth is that the accusation of anti-Semitism is far too often raised in this country against anyone who criticizes the government of Israel.

Being pro-Israel is no defense, as I long ago learned to my cost. Now I've gotten used to it. Jews who criticize Israel are charmingly labeled "self-hating Jews." As I have often pointed out, that must mean there are a lot of self-hating Israelis, because those folks raise Cain about their own government's policies all the time.

I am a strong supporter of Israel, but its government is not infallible. I'm so tired of the "if you criticize me you are criticizing my _____________ [race/religion/etc.]" line of argument.

Random football thoughts

1. I have more interest in this year's NFL draft than I have in any draft in recent memory. My prediction: Every team that passes on Vince Young is going to regret it deeply within 5 years.

2. The new Vikings uniforms unveiled yesterday are hideous. Are they trying to look like the San Diego Chargers?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Who reads political blogs?

Here is an unscientific answer.
The median political blog reader is a 43 year old man with an annual family income of $80,000. He reads 6 blogs a day for 10 hours a week. 39% have post-graduate degrees. 70% have contributed to a campaign. 69% have bought music, 87% have bought books. 58% say blogs are "extremely useful" sources of information. 52% leave comments on other people's blogs. Just 18% of political blog readers have their own blogs. (As you'll see, that's a lot lower than in other blogospheres.) Of these, 53% blog to keep track of their own ideas, 50% to let off steam, 36% to influence public opinion.
The 10 hours a week statistic is the one I find most unbelievable.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Travel highs and lows

I spent yesterday and most of today in Chicago on business. On the way down yesterday, I flew on a 40 year old DC-9 on Northwest. I could not get on a Northwest flight coming back today, so I flew United. Oh my gosh, what a different experience that was.

The plane was an Embraer 170. Even though the flight was full, it took 10 minutes to load the plane. There are only 2 seats on each side, and it has 70 seats total. All seats are leather. And each row in coach has as much space as an exit row on a DC-9. If this is the future of domestic air travel, I'm very enthused.

Unfortunately, the experience was not entirely pleasant for reasons that had nothing to do with United or the plane itself. The guy next to me was watching a movie on his computer as we were waiting to leave the gate. When the flight attendant told everyone to turn off all electrical devices, he dutifully did so. However, once we started moving and the flight attendants all took their seats and got buckled in, but before takeoff, he turned the movie back on.

As we approached the runway, I touched him on the arm and said "you know, you are supposed to turn have that off." He proceeded to get in my face. "Is there anything else?", he said at least 3 times. "You know everybody ignores that rule," he then said. I told him that I had never seen anyone intentionally flaunt the rule before. What happened next was interesting because I didn't say another word. People in the rows around me piped up, and much more aggressively than I had done so. He responded to them, "butt out, it is not any of your business." Believe me, that didn't go over well.

After being cowed by others into turning off the computer, the guy quietly said to me during takeoff that if I had only been more polite, he would have happily turned off the computer. According to him, it was all a "misunderstanding" of my making.

The world is full of a**holes. I was just glad to see one get put in his place today.

Rescuing the flag

I have been traveling the last couple of days (more on that in a subsequent post), and on the plane back today I read this story about an historical event that I never knew about before.
The hand was trembling, the voice was quivering and tears were running down his face.

The World War II soldier, who survived the Pearl Harbor attack, looked Rick Monday in the eyes, slowly raised his right arm, and saluted him.

"Thank you," Monday recalls the soldier telling him last year. "And thank you from all of my shipmates."

Thirty years ago today, Monday became an American hero.

It was the day he saved the American flag.

"It was the greatest heroic act that's ever happened on a baseball field," Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda said. "He protected the symbol of everything that we live for. And the symbol that we live in the greatest country in the world."

The Hall of Fame recently voted Monday's act as one of the 100 classic moments in the history of the game. Monday, who spent 19 years in the major leagues and is a Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster, will be honored tonight with a video tribute at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

They'll replay a grainy videotape that was discovered in 1984 showing two people jumping over the railing in left field and spreading the American flag onto the Dodger Stadium turf. One man dousing the flag with lighter fluid. The other lighting a match. And Monday, playing for the Chicago Cubs, running in from center field, grabbing the flag and carrying it to safety.

They'll play Vin Scully's voice from the radio broadcast: "Wait a minute, there's an animal loose. Two of them! I'm not sure what he's doing out there. It looks like he's going to burn a flag. ...

"And Rick Monday runs and takes it away from him!"

And perhaps the crowd will duplicate the same reaction as 30 years ago: sitting in stunned silence, then standing, cheering and spontaneously singing God Bless America.

The man deserves all of the attention that he is getting 30 years later.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Picture of the day


Learning from history

One of the most obvious lessons from the Hitler era is not to brush off dangerous rhetoric as mere bluster. Here is just one more reminder that Iran presents an extremely serious problem that must be dealt with. The problem is that I have yet to hear even one plausibly successful strategy for doing so that is not entirely dependent on complete cooperation from China and Russia.

Broken record

More propaganda in support of one of my pet causes:

His birth certificate says he's 55, but Bill Thompson's kidney is 82 years old. Thompson received the kidney in a 1966 transplant at Children's Memorial Hospital that saved his life and made medical history.

The kidney, donated by a family friend, was one of the first kidney transplants from a living, unrelated donor.

And the kidney has continued working remarkably well for 40-plus years. Thompson holds the record as the longest surviving recipient of a kidney from an unrelated donor, according to UCLA's Immunogenetics Center.

"It's an amazing story," said Dr. Lowell King, who was one of Thompson's doctors.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Constituent letter of the day


WASHINGTON (AP) - Nobody expects to get a letter from a member of Congress that ends with an expletive. But that's what happened when Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., recently corresponded with a resident of her southeast Missouri district.

The letter ended with a profane, seven-letter insult beginning with the letter a - ``i think you're an. ...''

Emerson says she can't explain how the offensive language made it into the letter, which otherwise reads like a typical response to a citizen's question about last year's testimony of oil executives before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Wingnut joke of the day

Link. (Via Dean).

Bush = Carter

Dick Morris.
Bush has truly become the Republican equivalent of President Jimmy Carter, out of control, dropping in popularity, unable to resume command.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Organ donation: miracles and missed miracles

This article from the StarTribune today brings home the miracle of organ donation.
Connor Rabinowitz's heart failed when he was 17, but his new life was just beginning. . .

Connor was strong enough to leave the hospital in March 2005 with [a] mechanical heart thump-thump-thumping. He had been home for four days when the call came: We have your new heart.

A young man had died and he was an organ donor. . .

Connor's new heart had belonged to Kellen Roberts, a 22-year-old from Seattle. Kellen died while visiting a friend in Sioux Falls, S.D. He was at a party when an altercation broke out, and as Kellen ran, he collided with a 20-year-old who was chasing him. Kellen fell and hit his head on the pavement and died in a hospital two days later on March 7, 2005. . .

Kellen gave more than his heart. His lungs, kidneys, liver, bone and intestinal tissue were also used for transplants. In all, he helped save six lives.

But in the sidebar story, you find the tragedy of lost opportunities.

A 2005 University of Minnesota study showed that 97 percent of Minnesotans support organ donation, yet statistics from the state Department of Public Safety show that only 43 percent of Minnesotans have 'donor' marked on their driver's license.
If you don't think it is a big deal, think again.
There are more than 90,000 people in the United States waiting for a organ transplant, including more than 2,200 in Minnesota. Each day 100 names are added to the national waiting list, and 17 people die because there are not enough organs.

Come on you 57%. Next time, check the box. You are never too old.

Stupid criminal of the day

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) - A Serbian prisoner using needle, thread and safety pins stitched his lips and tongue together to avoid a scheduled court hearing in his robbery case, the Blic newspaper reported Saturday.


When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got an anonymous text message suggesting he didn't wash enough, he did not take it lying down.

He fired the president of the phone company, had four people arrested, took other legal action and accused those involve of conspiring with the Israeli foreign intelligence service Mossad, according to the Iranian opposition website Rooz Online.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Random thoughts

  • TurboTax is a life saver.
  • It is especially difficult to go to work on a beautiful Monday morning in the spring.
  • These things are great. (Ours arrived on Friday.)
Pretty lame blog post, I realize. But it is all I've got right now.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


In case you haven't noticed, blogging has been light recently. I expect that trend to continue because (1) our house is still under construction and there is something everyday that requires some attention and energy, (2) I haven't started our taxes yet, and (3) I lack motivation right now. More regular blogging will resume. I'm just not sure when.

Monday, April 10, 2006

What to do

Michael Totten:
Sometimes it seems like everyone in the Middle East hates everyone else in the Middle East. Arabs hate Kurds and Israelis. Turks hate Arabs and Kurds. Kurds hate Turks and fear Arabs. (Interestingly, Kurds love Israelis.) Everyone, especially Lebanese, hates Palestinians.
Hate, hate, hate. It is going to be a long time before things get appreciably better in that part of the world.

More Pat Robertson

God created Pat Robertson as his gift to bloggers. Here is his latest regarding an attempt to help a sick woman.
And then I prayed. And I said, "Lord, what's wrong with her?" I just prayed silently. And the Lord said, "Ask about her sex life." And--
The-- the Lord said that to you?
Yes, He said that to me.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Picture of the day


Chronological trivia


WASHINGTON -- You don't find this happening every day. In a virtual blink of the eye early this morning, the time and date were 01-02-03-04-05-06.

At 1:02 a.m. and three seconds on Wednesday, April 5, 2006, it was the first hour of the day, the second minute of the hour, the third second of that precious minute in the fourth month and the fifth day of -- uh oh -- it's not really the sixth year.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Paging O.J.

This would be funny if it were not so pathetic.


New Navy Ship Being Built With WTC Steel

The pathetic Katherine Harris

I'm now actually starting to feel sorry for her. It seems clear that she is no longer playing with a full deck.

TAMPA - Changing locks on her campaign headquarters and accusing her staff of disloyalty and her own party of spying on her are signs of erratic behavior that some Katherine Harris staff members say has worsened since her father's death.

Harris is restaffing her campaign and will announce new key staff members today, a campaign spokeswoman said Monday.

But in the past 10 days, Harris has:

•Had locks changed and posted a security guard at the door of her campaign headquarters in Tampa and had former staff members escorted in to retrieve their belongings.

•Told a gathering of supporters in Cocoa Beach on Saturday that the Republican Party had "infiltrated" her campaign staff to put "knives in my back."

•Told a reporter that a longtime, trusted political adviser had leaked a story about her staff members quitting, then called back to retract the comments.

•Announced hiring her new staff without identifying them.

Those events come atop previous reversals and contradictions, including her announcement last month that she would spend her inheritance from her father on her campaign, which she changed, saying she would sell her assets.

Former campaign manager Jim Dornan, who left in November, called the most recent events in the campaign "unbelievable."

Via TMV.

Predictions: check-in

In response to a call for predictions at the end of last year, I offered (in part) the following:
  • Alito will be confirmed with at least 58 votes. . .
  • Texas will beat USC. . .
  • Florida will win the NCAA basketball title.
I'm feeling fairly prescient right now. See here (Alito - 58 votes), here (Texas beats USC) and here (Florida wins title).

Monday, April 03, 2006

Ace in the hole

There is nothing that annoys me more than when public figures play the race card when they are called to account for certain, objectively inappropriate personal behavior. The latest example:

McKinney, 51, scuffled with a police officer on March 29 when she entered a House office building without her identifying lapel pin and did not stop when asked. Several police sources said the officer, who was not identified, asked her three times to stop. When she kept going, he placed a hand somewhere on her and she hit him, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

McKinney issued a statement of regret for the incident, but no apology. At a press conference Friday, she and her lawyers declared that she was a victim of inappropriate touching and racism and said they were considering pursuing civil action against the officer.

The good news is that if she files suit, she will be promptly laughed out of court. That will only further confirm what a fool she is.

Quote of the day

"In a business where eloquence and rhetoric is important, he is a man of no talent whatsoever."
Charlie Cook, describing Sen. Bill Frist. Ouch.


In the next edition of Webter's Dictionary, I suspect that a picture of Katherine Harris will replace the definition of "denial." Link.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., April 1 (AP) — Representative Katherine Harris's Senate campaign lost what was left of its core team when a top adviser, her campaign manager and her communications director resigned this weekend.

Ms. Harris, a Republican who is challenging Senator Bill Nelson, the Democratic incumbent, said Saturday that the campaign had already lined up people who believed in her candidacy and that she would introduce them in the coming week.

"We are stronger as a campaign today than we were yesterday," Ms. Harris said in a news release. She did not return a call for comment.

She is really embarrassing herself at this point.

April Fools

Here is a list of some of the best April Fools' jokes of all-time. My favorite is this:
In 1996 the Taco Bell Corporation announced that it had bought the Liberty Bell from the federal government and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called up the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell is housed to express their anger. Their nerves were only calmed when Taco Bell revealed that it was all a practical joke a few hours later. The best line inspired by the affair came when White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale, and he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold, though to a different corporation, and would now be known as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.