Saturday, January 13, 2007

 

Open Thread

You know the drill!

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Friday, January 12, 2007

 

Question: Which Mayor Would You Vote For?

Since the Eagles and the Saints square off tomorrow evening, I thought I'd add some further fuel to the fire before the big game.

Who would you rather have as Mayor?

New Orlean's Mayor C. Ray Nagin.

Or...

Philadelphia's Mayor John F. Street.

Before you answer take some of these thoughts into consideration...

As recently as September of 2006, it was reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer: When it comes to violent crime among America's largest cities, Philadelphia is the worst, the FBI reported this week....

Last year, towards the end of September, the Guardian Angels released a report which said: 371 men, women and children have been murdered in Philadelphia this year and there is still a week-and-a-half to go in 2005.

Mayor Street has himself been apart of criminal probes in this crime driven city. The Washington Times reported two years ago: Federal law enforcement officials yesterday confirmed that listening devices found in the offices of Mayor John F. Street were planted by the FBI — a discovery that touched off a political furor just weeks before Election Day....Three federal law-enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the FBI was responsible for the bugs, but refused to comment on whether the Democratic mayor is the target of an investigation or to provide any details about the nature of the probe.

But now turn your attention to Mayor C. Ray Nagin. He was Mayor during the city's catastrophic storm, Hurricane Katrina. Under his watch, the city sank into an abyss that this country had a front row view of on national television. A few days after the storm, the Mayor lost his cool on air and said: I don't want to see anybody do anymore goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don't do another press conference until the resources are in this city. And then come down to this city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops that we can't even count...Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country.

For a city, which faced desperate times, this was hardly the confidence tha the city needed from a leader. His stewardship has been full of criticism and he has continued to disgrace any Mayoral office.

Instead of embracing a unified city he made the bizarre declaration last year: We ask black people: it's time. It's time for us to come together. It's time for us to rebuild a New Orleans, the one that should be a chocolate New Orleans. And I don't care what people are saying Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day.

This city has struggled to rebuild since the storm.

Although the murder rate is not nearly as high as it is in Philadelphia, just yesterday folks took to the streets in New Orleans: Several thousand people marched to New Orleans' city hall on Thursday to protest a wave of murders that has gripped the city and put in danger its halting recovery from Hurricane Katrina....They angrily urged local officials to do more to stop crime and to speed up the pace of rebuilding the city that was 80 percent flooded when Katrina struck on August 29, 2005.

And so, the only hopes of these two cities reside in their football teams. But if you had to pick the Mayor you'd rather have guide your own city, which would it be? Mayor Nagin or Mayor Street?

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

 

Snatching Defeat From Victory...

Conservatives often like to refer to Republicans as "the Stupid Party" and Democrats as "the Evil Party." Well, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) demonstrated today that some individuals can manage to channel equal parts of moral evil and political stupidity.

In Thursday's grilling of Secretary of State Condolleezza Rice on the Bush administration's "surge" plan, Boxer unloaded this bromide:

Boxer made it personal.

"I'm not going to pay a personal price," she said. "My kids are too old and my grandchild is too young. You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family."

Boxer talked about families losing loved ones and soldiers in hospital burn units. "These are the people who pay the price."

Rice said evenly that she understands the sacrifice of service members and families.

"I visit them. I know what they're going through. I talk to their families. I see it. I could never and I can never do anything to replace any of those lost men and women in uniform, or the diplomats, some of whom. ..."

Boxer cut her off.

"Madam Secretary, please," she said. "I know you feel terrible about it. That's not the point. I was making the case as to who pays the price for your decisions."

"You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, with an immediate family"? (emphasis added). Rice's status as a, "spinster" (as they used to call it) is now fair game to add rhetorical flare to an attack on administration policy?

Despicable.

Consider the uproar if a Republican senator said something similar to, say, Janet Reno in the Clinton administration? But Boxer should get a free pass because she happens to be the same gender as Rice? No way.

Going after the bollixed-up Iraq policy was fair game -- from senators of both parties, no question. Ripping the whole "surge" plan is also fine. But suggesting the secretary of state doesn't care about the human costs because she's childless?

And the Democrats wonder why the public is wary about their ability to govern with any sense of fairness or decency. It's this kind of haughty, condescending behavior that turned Americans against Democrats in the first place.

Well, anyway, I'll remember this great example that Sen. Boxer has given the country.

In turn, perhaps it might be good to remind the public about why a wealthy white Democratic woman of privilege has no problem supporting public schools that leave poor black kids uneducated and prepped for a lives of low wages and likely incarceration.

More vile comments like that above and it won't be too long before the country starts waxing nostalgic for that Republican majority -- a thought that Boxer's fellow Democrats don't want to consider.

Yep, Barbara Boxer -- Evil and Stupid.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

 

Cheating on My Palm

Madscribe beat me to it on the iPhone front, but I must say that, unlike him, consider me officially seduced by the new product.

Yes, there are certainly caveats -- not the least of which is the price.

However, as an avowed Palm fanatic for nearly ten years (I think the Palm IIIx was my first "real" PDA -- not counting this grey Casio I hauled around in the early '90s) and a Treo owner for three, I'm drooling over Steve Jobs' unveiling of the iPhone at Macworld Tuesday.

If you have the time, sit through Jobs' presentation. The man is a master "performer" on stage. His note-free, passionate, presentation is all the more impressive when one compares it to the Cingular executive who is brought out three-quarters of the way through to wax about the important cooperative venture: He stiffly reads from prepared notes.

Jobs is a rock star who loves being on stage introducing his new material. Why shouldn't he? After all, most tech people (or successful creators in any field), are lucky to come up with one "killer app" in their lifetime -- something that is completely different from anything that preceded it and creates a rabid consumer base. Jobs did the Mac in 1984 and the iPod in 2001. His development of Pixar animation studios in the '90s was, arguably a third. If not, this iPhone certainly is.

I became the proud parent of my first iPod recently -- and, yes, I'm hooked, so that's an initial factor in my iPhone receptiveness. Add to the fact that my recent upgrade to the Palm 680 has left me with a serious case of buyer's remorse -- not enough of an advancement over the 650 (with the exception of memory). The iPhone's elegant design is a thing of beauty, though I instinctively feel weird using my fingers so much on a screen device that I own.

Still, I initially bought a Treo because I hated having to carry around two devices -- a phone and a PDA. Now that I've grown attached to my iPod, I'm again a two device guy once more. The iPhone would bring me back to "one-ness."

As they used to say on Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Resistance is futile; you will be asssimilated." Even with my (relatively) new HP PC, a little voice is beginning to whisper in my ear, "Mac...Mac...Mac..."

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iSee, iPhone, iSue!

My eventual goal when I grow up (for the second time) is to become an intellectual property attorney, just like the father of a famous cartoonist. That's why I was rather amused to see that Apple is being sued by Internet infrastructure giant, Cisco for the use of the trademark name iPhone.

Being a curious pre-law student, I went to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's website to search the trademark name. Just as Cisco claims, the trademark is registered to the company they acquired (www.uspto.gov).

Can't wait to see how this one plays out. Will Apple settle out-of-court by cutting Cisco a deal involving sales percentages? Or will they duke it out in the federal courts?

Aspiring fines want to know ...

Stayed tuned. A good IP blog site covering such lawsuits here. Personally, I think the idea of paying $500 for a over-hyped phone is ridiculous, but then again I'm a budget conscious shopper. There are already phones that play MP3s, and it's not as if I-Tunes is so unique in its music selection offerings that Microsoft, Napster, or other services couldn't manufacture the same type of stylish device at a much more affordable price.

Until the Apple/Cisco lawsuit is resolved, click on the link to enjoy a wonderful song about a more famous intellectual property lawsuit.

Update: VENDOR, VIDI, VICI.
Sorry, couldn't resist the lousy latin pun. It was either that, or "Cisco, Kid, Ain't No Friend of Mine." America's Greatest Newspaper---
oops, sorry RAG---America's SECOND Greatest Newspaper, the Wall Street Journal had a good summation of the Apple/Cisco/iPhone tussle in its legal section. According to the WSJ story, it's not the infringement that bothers Cisco so much, as Apple's unwillingness to let others get a piece of the telecom action.

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Serial Killers*

The Times talks about how the TV networks -- all eager to copy the success Fox has had with "24" -- jumped on the extended one-story-arc bandwagon in the 2006-07 season.

With predictable results:
Each of the five major broadcast networks has already canceled one new serial drama that it introduced last fall with blaring publicity and endlessly replayed promotional snippets. Come and gone in a few short weeks were several interchangeable series featuring an unexpected crime and plenty of shoot-’em-up violence: “Smith” on CBS, “Runaway” on CW, “Kidnapped” on NBC, “Vanished” on Fox and “Day Break” on ABC.
Yep, nearly all the serial shows have been canceled -- including my personal favorite, "Vanished" (not to be confused with either NBC's "Kidnapped" or the CW's "Runaway") because of low ratings. Want to figure out what happened in the central mystery's story arcs? Good luck.

This creates a frustrating set of circumstances. Viewers (even a low-rated show can still have an audience of several million people) feel betrayed because they have been roped in and asked to commit to a 23 week regular "appointment."

Only to discover that the commitment is one-sided. A few brief weeks later, the shows are off the air.

Some of the shows -- and their resolutions -- exist online at the network's web-site -- and they are often not usually easy to find.

I do give NBC some props for this. Even though certain shows are canceled, they do keep the greatest treasury of episodes up on the web of any of the four networks (including full seasons of the still-live-and-kicking, "30 Rock", "Heroes", "Friday Night Lights").

By the way, one show that was not a one-story season-long arc but was canceled nonetheless was Fox's "Justice." Too bad, good ensemble cast -- led by Victor Garber, late of "Alias.")
Unfortunately it's not easy these days to make defense attorneys attractive (last year, ABC had on a show modeled after The Innocence Project, which frees wrongly-convicted violent felons; it lasted for 13 episodes).

"Law and Order" has replaced "Perry Mason" as the preferred trial show standard. Evidently, the public wants to see defendants found guilty -- rather than be told that the "wrong person" is on trial.

Which may say something about the world in which we live.

Yes, I know: I watch too much television.

No, I don't think it keeps me from being productive in other areas. And no, it doesn't needlessly distract me from...uh, hmmm...did you know it's only four days until the new season of "24"?

Um, what was I saying?

UPDATE: Regular Commenter Bill Barker took exception with my statement that "the public wants to see defendants found guilty rather than be told the 'wrong person' is on trial."

Bill said, "I'd say it's much more accurate to write, "The public wants to see GUILTY people found GUILTY and INNOCENT people found INNOCENT."


I don't disagree with that statement: No one wants innocent people to be found guilty. However, in the above, I was noting the proliferation of police-and-prosecution shows while newer defense-attorney shows have been failing. It wasn't always this way: While cop shows have long been the rage, invariably when the action moved into the courtroom, TV has tended to focus on the defense: Perry Mason, Matlock and L.A. Law are three of the most notable.

I probably should have said that, "It might say something about our times that the public seems more interested in seeing the prosecution side of the legal system than the defense side." (ABC's Boston Legal -- a spin-off of The Practice -- is the notable exception as a legal drama centered on the law firm).

It is interesting that one of the successful new shows of the current season -- Shark -- stars James Woods as a defense attorney who switches sides and goes to work for the L.A. district attorney. That conscious artistic decision suggests the creators may be keying into a cultural shift in the audience.



*Damn! I'm on a pun-header roll today.

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To Surge, With Love*

Paul Roberts -- a former Reagan administration official and an avowed "anti-war conservative" -- speculates that all the talk over the "surge" is really just so much noise to "distract" the public from the real focus: Iran.

In fact, Roberts is only partly right: Iraq is, in many ways, already in the administration's rear-veiw mirror: Iran is the central policy concern right now -- as the recent military leadership changes suggest. Thus, the surge is not really a "distraction," as such. But by committing only 20,000 troops (as if there were more to send out), it is a temporary band-aid while broader strategic moves are put into place, as Ralph Peters explores here).

Furthermore, as the ongoing developments in Somalia show, a commander-in-chief has remarkable options at his disposal. The Democratic Congress had better realize what is going on here. Ted Kennedy can give his full-throated opposition to the surge all he wants. There is greater U.S.-sparked movement on the "War on Terror" chessboard than, arguably, at any point since the beginning of the 2003 Iraq invasion. It is Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Afghanistan and more.

As far as the Iraq portion goes, I can't say that I am exactly optimistic. I'll be listening closely to the president's speech tonight, but from the early details leaked, it seems that there is definite decision on how to get the Sunni and Shiite forces to agree to run the country together.

As long as Prime Minister Maliki chooses to take orders for Moqtada al-Sadr (rather than the other way around), U.S. forces will continue fighting with one arm tied behind their backs -- trying to figure out which way the bullets are coming from and where all the IEDs are planted.


*Sorry it took me so long to drop that awful pun.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

 

Friendly Advice

In The American Spectator, long-time conservative William Tucker assess the Bush vision in Iraq and, like many of late, finds it crashing on the shores of reality:
Everyone who has had some experience with leftist radical politics ends up with a similar experience. (See P.J. O'Rourke, whose adventures were much more interesting than mine.) You encounter people with an idee fixe -- a vision so pure and intense that they don't mind slaughtering a few people in order to achieve it.

I hat to say it, but I'm starting to get the same feeling about the Bush Administration on Iraq. It started with a noble purpose, a noble goal and high ideals. But those goals don't match the reality. Rather than adjust, the President continues to pursue his noble ends -- even if it means slaughtering a few thousand more people in the process. As Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, wrote recently, the horrible thing about Iraq right now is that if you read all liberal criticisms of the past four years, you realize it is basically right.

We seem to have gone into Iraq for three idee-fixe reasons: 1) President Bush saw September 11th as a replay of the Gulf War and wanted to erase the legacy that his father made a mistake in not pushing to Baghdad; 2) neoconservative Jews (Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, etc.) saw Saddam as a replay of the Holocaust and wanted to fight Iraq correct the mistakes of World War II; and 3) die-hard conservatives (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Project for the New American Century) saw Iraq as a replay of Vietnam and wanted to prove that America could project its military might any time and anywhere we chose (just like Napoleon projecting his military into Russia or the Athenians into Syracuse).

Make no mistake, there was noble purpose behind the invasion and good reason for thinking it might succeed. The idea of creating a democratic, stable Iraq where Sunni and Shi'ia calmly sat down to resolve their differences in parliamentary fashion was certainly a grand vision. But it hasn't worked. There are too many nihilists in the region, too many jihad warriors willing to blow up themselves and the whole world for the greater good of Allah (an idee fixe if there ever was one). Saddam may have been a brutal murderer but he wasn't out of character with the civilization.

While the Democrats certainly have the power to upset Bush's "surge" plans, it's these multiplying ideological defections ultimately pose a larger threat. Unlike three years ago, when a generally united intellectual Right combined with the political heft of the Republican Party to create a broad supportive informal organization to support the administration's plans.

That's all gone now. The public turned against the GOP congressional majority (albeit not solely because of Iraq), several remaining otherwise-loyal Republicans like Gordon Smith and Norm Coleman are offering demurring comments on the idea of adding troops -- and now another intellectual conservative voice is comparing Bush to 60s leftist radicals. It is ironic that even as Bush calls for more "boots-on-the-ground" troops, he finds far fewer allies among the intelligentsia than he had when the "mission" began.

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Ain't No Hannity Clause

Andrew Sullivan is a little taken aback at Sean Hannity's latest show. One of his readers is equally appalled: "'Enemy of The State'? Who doesn't immediately associate that phrase with Communism or Nazism?"

Oh, lighten up, guys. Maybe Hannity is just a big fan of the Fresh Prince?

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Pick the NFL Playoff Winners: Wild Card Results

In our first annual "Pick the NFL Playoff Winners" contest, with one point for each correct pick, the Wild Card Weekend results are:

Robert A. George - 3 points
Bugg - 3 points

EdMcGon - 2 pts.
David Stefanini - 1 pt.

Except for his "homer" Giants pick, Robert George was outstanding. That miss may come back to haunt him next week since he had the Giants going to the NFC Championship.

Bugg is facing an even bigger dilemna in spite of his early success. The only pick he missed was the Jets, which he had going all the way. Instead, the Jets go "all the way" home after the Pats had them as a playoff appetizer.

With only two picks right, I am still in good shape with my projected NFC Champion Eagles still alive.

David Stefanini also picked the Eagles correctly, but that was it for him. His one saving grace is that he has San Diego and Chicago in the Super Bowl, both of which are still alive.

DIVISIONAL PLAYOFFS

In our pool, the Divisional Playoff games are worth 2 points each. Here are how the games look now:

New England at San Diego: Bugg has to be rooting for New England, just to spite the rest of us, since the three of us took San Diego.

Indianapolis at Baltimore: If Indy wins, Bugg will be sitting pretty. He is the only one who took Indy.

Seattle at Chicago: Robert George will be "spite-rooting" for Seattle in this one. His G-men didn't make it and everyone else took "Da Bears".

Philadelphia at New Orleans: This one is split down the middle. David Stefanini and I picked Philly, while Bugg and Robert George have New Orleans.

Good luck to all!

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Monday, January 08, 2007

 

Wild Card plays and other NFL thoughts

Colts 23, Chiefs 8: This was a game neither team deserved to win.

For the Chiefs, Trent Green was ice cold, which meant the Colts defense could concentrate on stopping Larry Johnson without paying for it. I don't know who was calling the offensive plays for the Chiefs, but I suspect they were possessed by the ghost of some 1960's head coach. Run, run, pass, punt.

On the other hand, the Chiefs defense looked like they were possessed by the 1970's Steelers defense. They made life miserable for Peyton Manning, who threw three interceptions. The Chiefs also kept the Colts out of the end zone until the third quarter.

Nothing the Colts did impressed me, although Dallas Clark looked good. Joseph Addai looked good in the second half, although the Chiefs defense was worn down by that point, due to the ineptitude of the Chiefs offense.

Don't look for the Colts to last past the next round, against the Ravens.

Seahawks 21, Cowboys 20: Poor Tony Romo. He does everything he can to win this game for the Boys, then botches the hold on a chip shot field goal which would have won the game.

This was a game between two teams which won't last long in the playoffs, and it showed. After watching the great defensive performances in the Chiefs-Colts game, this game was a defensive mediocrity. The worst part was the offenses didn't seem good enough to take advantage of it. A good offense against either of these teams would have put 40 points on the scoreboard easily.

Unfortunately, the Seahawks don't have to worry about facing a good offense next week with the Bears. However, I cannot see the Hawks putting up 21 on the Bears defense.

Patriots 37, Jets 16: I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed watching the Pats out-coach and out-play the Jets. All I have heard is how I have been underrating the Jets this year. That cricket chirping sound you hear is all the Jets fans now.

The Jets didn't belong in the playoffs, and the Pats proved it.

The Pats-Chargers game next week should be a good one. I want to see if Belichick can figure out a way to stop the Chargers. It may be a classic if he can.

Eagles 23, Giants 20: I must admit the Giants fans aren't nearly as obnoxious as the Jets fans. I suspect it is because they know the Giants have problems. However, the Giants put up a much better effort than the Jets did.

For awhile there, I thought the Eagles would just beat the Giants in a snoozer. When the Eagles were up 20-10 in the third quarter, I expected the Giants to just cave in. But the Giants showed some heart and tied it up in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for the G-men, they didn't get a botched field goal attempt at the end to save them.

The Eagles will have to put up a much better effort against the Saints next week. Even though I predicted the Eagles will represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, I was not pleased by what I saw from them against the Giants.

FALCONS HIRE PETRINO
: My initial thought on the Falcons hiring Louisville's Bobby Petrino as their next head coach is "bad move". College coaches generally don't do well on the pro level (see Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban). For every Jimmy Johnson who does succeed, there are plenty of Butch Davis and Dennis Erickson failures.

But it really doesn't matter who the Falcons hire as head coach, since they are determined to continue with the failed Mike Vick experiment.

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