Friday, October 20, 2006


Open Thread

As Led Zeppelin once said -- "Ramble on!

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What Were They Thinking?

It's tempting to slam the Washington Post -- or writer Dana Milbank -- for a cheap shot in this "ouch" headline -- "During National Character Counts Week, Bush Stumps for Philanderer" -- and subsequent story.

But the real blame has to go to the White House political operation and the National Republican Congressional Committee. What the heck are they thinking putting the president of the United States in such an awkward position?

Rep. Don Sherwood's problems are hardly a secret. Heck, the man has cut an ad admitting that
he had cheated on his wife but had NOT choked his mistress (the best confession to /denial of bad behavior since Bob Marley admitted to shooting the sherriff, but NOT his deputy).

How in God's green Earth do you have the POTUS campaign for a guy like that?

Of course, dropping Bush into this campaign lends even more credence to the belief that Republicans are desperate and do ANYTHING to hold onto a seat -- even sully the president in a campaign stop for a slimeball.

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Conservatives Get Head Start...

...on finding volunteers for circular firing squad!

Waiting until the actual election day is so, oh I don't know, jejune!

Social conservatives vs. economic conservatives. Pro-war vs. anti-war. Dick Armey vs. Dobson's army.

Tsk. Tsk.

Why couldn't they be more patient? Why must they be such, um, "unpatriotic" conservatives?

UPDATE: And the "foot soldiers" seem prepared to sit this one out too.

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War? What War?

Well, it looks like Stephen Bainbridge was right: Republicans have been turned into Basil Fawlty.

As Thursday's Times
clearly shows, (even making allowance for Timesian "spin"), Democrats have decided that the war is the issue and they're talking about it. The energy in the current campaign is on their side. Unlike 2002 and 2004, they are not shying away from Iraq and foreign policy in general.

They are taking the fight to Republicans and the Bush administration (even though Democrats don't have an exact idea on what to do about Iraq). Conversely, the irony is that many GOP candidates have chosen to, ahem, "cut and run" from the Bush administration's "stay the course" policy. Republicans are either trying to "whatever you do, don't mention the war" -- or find ways to differ with the president without it sounding like they are, well, differing with the president. New Jersey Senate GOP candidate Tom Kean, Jr. has already called for Donald Rumsfeld's resignation -- just to show his independence. Indeed, this state of affairs was
suggested about ten days back when Republican strategists began openly advising candidates to "focus exclusively on local issues."

If this trend holds -- and Democrats ride into the majority -- they will be able to say, with some justification, that this election is a referendum on the Iraq War and, by extension, George W. Bush's development and prosecution of it.

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New York Mets: Wait Till Next Year

"God, whose law it is that he who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God."-- Aeschylus

"Wait till next year." Sound familiar? It should to those who can remember what it was like to be a Brooklyn Dodgers fan prior to 1955. Or how about Red Sox fans before 2004. And even White Sox fans pre 2005.

Think back to how the New York Yankees lost to the Seattle Mariners in 1995, in game five of the ALDS, in extra innings at the Dome in the city that pours. The Yankees saw the Mariners come from behind and win, leaving them with nothing but despair.

Even worse, recall when just a few years ago, the Boston Red Sox, leading the New York Yankees in game 7, 5-2, with Pedro Martinez on the mound, surrendered the lead. And then in the bottom of the ninth, saw Aaron "frickin'" Boone send the Yankees into ecstacy, leaving the Sox to wonder if the 'curse' could ever be broken.

The Yankees in '96, and the Red Sox in '04 followed both of those tragic losses with a World Series victory, with the claim to be Champions of the World.

For the New York Mets, whom lost tonight in a heart breaking game, the hope is that this is only the beginning.

For the Yankees, 1995 marked the beginning of a dynasty.

The 2006 Mets will give way to a 2007 team with much promise. The pitching staff should be solid. Mike Pelfrey, Oliver Perez, Brian Bannister, John Maine lead a cast of young starters. Throw into the mix the return of Tom Glavine, El Duque, and midway through the season, Pedro Martinez. And who knows who they will go after in the off season...Barry Zito, Jason Schmidt, or even Dontrelle Willis. There is much hope with this staff.

The bullpen should also continue its success. Aaron Heilman, a healthy Duane Sanchez, Billy Wagner, Mota and so forth will all be returning.

The offense could be solidified with the acquistion of Alphonso Soriano, as well as the young players coming up such as Lastings Milledge.

The pain will reside. But the hope will remain.

For now, lets hope the Detroit Tigers show that they really are the team of destiny for this year. The D in Detroit may stand for Destiny, but the D in New York will stand for Dynasty.

Now my focus shifts to my other team, the New York Giants. They have a big game against Dallas on Monday night. Down with T.O. Down with Parcells. Make Tiki Barber's last season as special as it was for Jerome Bettis last year.


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Thursday, October 19, 2006


Oliver/Oliver Twist

Well, following up on Mark's post, best of luck to the Flushing Amazin's. I'm primarily a Yankee fan, but Mom is a Mets fan -- and I love rooting for New York teams!

So, it's Oliver Perez...then Darren Oliver at the first sign of trouble -- and a "twist" or two to get to victory!


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NLCS: Stressful Ramblings about the Mets

I heard yesterday on WFAN that Willie Randolph is so confident that his team will win this series...and all year long he has been saying "when we go to the WS"...not "if we go..."... that he has handed out the travel itineraries for the trip to Detroit.

Talk about confidence. Think he may need to knock on wood?

I remember when the Giants played the 49ers in the '90 NFC Championship game, Bill Parcells told the team before the game that the 49ers had already booked their hotel rooms in Tampa Bay in anticipation of going to the Super Bowl. And who won? The Giants of course, and their itinerary had already called for flying directly from San Francisco to Tampa Bay.

Be that as it may, having no idea who will win this game, and knowing that no matter what, the Mets will do everything in their power to make it as difficult as possible to win...I can no longer stand the anticipation and the pressure of waiting. I even have the butterflies in my stomach...I'm not even going to be there at the stadium! Why should I care so much?

It just had to be mentioned on the radio today that when the home teams wins game six, the past 11 times, that team went on to win game 7. Way to jinx the Mets. Just like when they kept bringing up the scoreless innings for Glavine heading into game 5.

But boy oh boy, GAME SEVEN... What powerful words those are. What memories will come from tonight? What will happen? Who will be the hero? Who will get that big run? Who will make the memorable mistake that will be remembered for ages?

This is why we love sports. The drama...the real life drama. And the fan, like myself, attaches their identity to a team. For 16 years I have cheered for these Mets. I have suffered through the losing seasons, and suffered even more when the dared to reach the heights in '99, and '00 but came up short.

Some people do not understand how people can be come so attached to a group of players that they do not know, and will never meet. I say to them what the great mountain climber, George Mallory, said to someone who asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest. "Because it is there." (He died in his attempt to reach the peak.)

And so because our teams are here, because they play for the city, for the name on the front of the jersey, and not the back, that is why we stick with our teams.

And this is why if the Mets win tonight, I will be in a state of euphoria. If they lose, I will be in a state of despair. Why the polar opposites over a team which I am not a member of? Because the Mets are there, and oh how I love them.

Finally, to quote Al Davis, to the Mets I say - "just win baby".

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Royal Badness

A black Republican group comes up with a great idea to attract African American votes.

And, by "great," I mean, you know -- REALLY, REALLY STUPID!

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a great man. He was a man who was many things.

Republican wasn't one of them.

Yet another black Republican organization that is more a joke than anything else.

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Pick the NFL winners re-ducks

Even though I got beaten like a drum, we had fun with our "pick the NFL winners" last week, so let's do it again. (I am surprised Bill Barker hasn't used his bragging rights yet.)

Put your picks in the comments before 1 pm Sunday and I will announce the winner next week. No money, just bragging rights.

Anyway, here are my picks for this week (my pick is in red):

Carolina at Cincinnati: Will the Bengals bounce back after last week's surprise loss to the Bucs? This game is a must-win for both of these teams. I will take the Panthers by a hair.

Detroit at N.Y. Jets: Can the Jets get up for this game after their squeaker over Miami? I say yes, but just barely.

Green Bay at Miami: Don Shula. Vince Lombardi. Larry Csonka. Bart Starr. Dan Marino. Brett Favre. Normally, I would say one out of six ain't bad, but in Favre's case, I will make an exception. Take Miami at home.

Jacksonville at Houston: This one smells like a "trap" game, but I just cannot pick Houston against a better team.

New England at Buffalo: Pats win here by one score.

Philadelphia at Tampa Bay: A must-win for the Bucs. Only a nice-to-have win for the Eagles. Take the Bucs in their second upset win.

Pittsburgh at Atlanta: This is the game I have been waiting to see for weeks. I want to see how a good 3-4 defense handles Atlanta's option offense. I think Pittsburgh can.

San Diego at Kansas City: I think K.C. was looking past Pittsburgh last week to this game. Unfortunately, it won't do them any good. Take the Bolts.

Denver at Cleveland: The Brownies have had two weeks to prepare for the Broncos. It ain't enough.

Arizona at Oakland: According to the news, this is one of the alleged target sites for a terrorist bombing this weekend. With these two teams, I would call it more of a mercy killing. Regardless, I think Arizona will take out their frustrations from Monday night on the hapless (or is that hopeless?) Raiders.

Minnesota at Seattle: The Sea Birdies should beat almost anyone at home. The Vikes are no exception.

Washington at Indianapolis: A bad secondary vs. Peyton Manning. You do the math.

N.Y. Giants at Dallas: Heads Dallas wins, tails Giants win. It's heads.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006



If you're in the Big Apple or close traveling distance this evening.

Your RAGGED THOTS host will be participating in a special night of POLITICALLY-THEMED COMEDY at The Ohio Theatre. It's part of the IGNITE Festival. Expect to hear a few new observations about GOP election prospects, Mark Foley's faulty pager -- and the Democratic Party plans to reinvigorate the country (right, expect a short set).

There will also be a good assortment of liberal comics such as Jamie Jackson, Elizabeth June, Benari Poulten, Katie Halper and, yep, the token conservative Jewish Marine Dave Rosner!

Anyway, the Ohio Theatre is at 66 Wooster Street (between Spring and Broome) in Soho at 9:30PM. Tickets are $10.00, call for reservations, 212-352-3101 or order online at

Hope to see you there!

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Tolkien Loud,Saying Nothing

Paging Peter Jackson!! Time to get started on that "Hobbit" flick!

A certain Pennsylvania senator has LOTR
on his mind:
Embattled U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum said America has avoided a second terrorist attack for five years because the "Eye of Mordor" has instead been drawn to Iraq.
Santorum used the analogy from one of his favorite books, J.R.R. Tolkien's 1950s fantasy classic, "Lord of the Rings," to put an increasingly unpopular war in Iraq into terms any school kid could easily understand.

"As the hobbits are going up Mount Doom, the Eye of Mordor is being drawn somewhere else," Santorum said, describing the tool the evil Lord Sauron used in search of the magical ring that would consolidate his power over Middle-earth."It's being drawn to Iraq and it's not being drawn to the U.S.," he continued. "You know what? I want to keep it on Iraq. I don't want the Eye to come back here to the United States."
As does a certain Bush administration social conservative apostate:
In some ways White House power is like [J.R.R.] Tolkien’s ring of power. When you put it on, it feels good and it’s dazzling. But after a while it begins to consume you in ways you don’t realize. That’s the nature of White House power. I have no doubt that Christian political leaders have gotten involved for all the right reasons. I just think over time it becomes harder and harder to stand up against that ring of power and the White House, to say no and walk away.
Your homework assignment for today, class, is to 1) Research other examples of contemporary public policy or politics that draw the most overwrought/simplistic analogy to J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings"; 2) Identify an issue of your own and make a simplistic LOTR comparison. Originality and style count (meaning references of Karl Rove or Hillary Clinton to Gollum will result in an instant half-grade deduction).

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Will The GOP Lose?

Glenn Reynolds counts the likely reasons why it will happen.

To which I will add, going back to my New Republic
piece of two years ago, "accountability":

Ultimately, on both foreign and domestic policy, the public's trust has been betrayed. Why should the public trust its leaders with future policy if those leaders deceive and manipulate the people's elected representatives to get a favored policy passed? If the American public and the world at large now react skeptically to future presidential claims that the United States faces a foreign threat, who can blame them?

Similarly, the president's intent to reform Social Security will now be judged by the still-emerging costs of the Medicare reform--to say nothing of the political backlash from some seniors incensed at having to pay 17 percent more in premiums. The mishandling of domestic spending, of which Medicare is the prime example--whether because of ignorance, incompetence, or deceit--casts the same pall over Bush's domestic agenda that the collapse of Iraq does over his foreign policy.

The president who dismisses criticism of the cost of Medicare is the same one who "miscalculated" the costs for rebuilding Iraq by at least $100 billion--and submitted a subsequent budget that omitted even an estimate of spending for the current military campaigns. Medicare actuary Richard Foster was threatened with firing if he told the truth about the costs of the reform bill, while his boss who pushed forward the lower numbers, Thomas Scully, departed quietly to a cushy health care-related policy job at a Washington, D.C., law firm. That was, of course, the same pattern we witnessed with the management of the Iraq war. Individuals who got the prewar details right--either in terms of troop strength (General Eric Shinseki) or in estimated fiscal costs (former National Economic Council Director Lawrence Lindsey)--were publicly rebuked or dismissed. Those who got the prewar details wrong remain in positions of authority. Conservatives--who fear unchecked, unaccountable government--should be especially appalled.

It would be wonderful to believe the president's promise that the war in Iraq will lead to democracy in a troubled region. An immigrant--I was born in the West Indies--tends to absorb the earnest, spiritual myths of his adopted nation even more than those native-born. Democracy is indeed a human value. But initiating a war to "liberate" an entire region far from our shores can hardly be called a conservative cause. It will be impossible to restrain a government kept on a permanent war footing. And, in liberty's name abroad, liberty at home will inevitably be compromised. It already has been.

...At crucial points before and after the Iraq war, Bush's middle managers have failed him, and the "brand" called America has suffered in the world market. In any other corporate structure plagued by this level of incompetence, the CEO would have a choice: Fire his middle managers or be held personally accountable by his shareholders. Because of his own misguided sense of "loyalty," Bush won't dismiss anyone. That leaves the country's shareholders little choice.

That was almost exactly two years ago. Before Katrina. Before Harriet Miers. Before Iraq got...even more complicated.

Bringing everything up to date, the president still has refused to hold accountable those who have screwed up royally on his watch -- particularly on the policy that defines his term: Rumsfeld remains. (Giving George Tenet a Presidential Medal of Freedom, of course, was a nice added touch.) But, Congress has refused to hold the president accountable. By giving in to the executive branch constantly and refusing to exercise their constitutionally mandated oversight role, Congressional Republicans have become little more than enablers. Voters may decide that oversight is a good thing -- even if it is of the partisan variety.

Bridge To Nowhere -- and, no, I'm not referring to the Talking Heads song of a similar title. As Andrew Sullivan points out -- it's the spending, stupid. And not just basic foolish policy decisions such as the Medicare prescription-drug bill. The bridge is the perfect emblem of the Republican majority as it represents a clandestine priveleged bit of legislation, arrogance born of seniority (Don Young in the House and Ted Stevens in the Senate, two of the longest-serving members in their respective chambers) and entitlement.

Last weekend though, the New York Times
stumbled onto another reason why things looks so dire for the GOP.

In recent Harris Interactive polls, the number of respondents who refuse to
acknowledge a preference for either party has risen to about 25 percent of the
electorate from about 12 percent for most of the last decade.
Much of this increase in independents, he said, is probably accounted for by former
Republican voters not quite willing to say they lean Democratic, but also
unlikely to turn out this year.
“It is a red flag that Republican politicians need to watch,” Mr. Wirthlin said. Although Republicans have long outperformed Democrats at turning out their voters, he added, “this year they may be raking water up a hill.”
This polling data jives quite well with apocraphal evidence: Republican RT readers have declared in the Comments section their intent to vote against a certain incumbent House Republican for no other reason than to send a signal to the party over rampant spending. Disillusioned ones mention not voting at all.

This may why the party ID in various polls seems much more
weighted toward Democrats than in previous years. The folks at NRO are suspicious of the methodology. They wonder if the pollsters are including an inherent bias -- just to depress GOP voters, while the Democrats are fired up and maxing out on their campaign dollars.

But there is another explanation: It may indeed be true -- Democrats are picking up more support: There are more people willing to describe themselves as "Democrats."

UPDATE: Okay, this is officially looking really ugly now:
Just 20 days until Election Day, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds approval of the GOP-held Congress is at its lowest mark in 14 years, the Republican Party's favorability rating is at an all-time low and President George W. Bush's approval rating remains mired in the 30s -- all ominous signs for a party trying to maintain control of Congress.
In fact, according to the poll, Republicans are in worse shape on some key measures than
Democrats were in 1994, when they lost their congressional majorities.
"There is not a single number in here that would suggest the Democrats will not have their best showing in a decade -- and maybe two decades," says Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted this survey with Republican Bill McInturff.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Below The Beltway

Writing on the Huffington Post, Jamal Simmons makes a small, but important point with which I agree 100 percent.

What the heck is Michael Steele -- whom I know personally and for whom I respect -- doing championing the endorsements of Don King and
Mike Tyson? It was embarrassing enough to see King being paraded around the 2004 Republican Convention as the head of yet another faux black GOP organizations -- African Americans for Bush.

In fairness, Steele does have a personal connection to Tyson: his sister used to be married to the ex-champ. However, that makes bringing in Tyson that much more perplexing. King bears the lion's share of the blame for making Tyson the pathetic figure he is today, after whisking him away from the (predominantly white) surrogate father (manager Cus D'Amato) and "family" (co-manager Bill Cayton and trainer Kevin Rooney) who collectively discovered Tyson and engineered his stunning early rise.

That group helped make Tyson the youngest man to ever win a heavyweight title belt, kept him focused and managed to keep him out of legal and financial trouble.

In contrast, using a racial kinship to gain Tyson's trust King swooped in, made ridiculous amounts of money off of Tyson, allowed the man's talent to atrophy through lack of training, and never provided Tyson with enough responsible "watchers" to keep him out of a situation that ended in the rape of Desiree Washington.

Yes, Tyson was discovered in jail as a juvenile offender, so perhaps his destiny was already written, but Don King played a pre-eminent role in turning the once-most fearsome heavyweight champ of all time into a chump and a sad joke.

Of course, this was nothing new to Don King who also ripped off Muhammad Ali for millions. In short, Don King -- for all of his "only-in-America" bullshit -- has a
career littered with dead bodies, broken careers and financial ruin.

While one might find reasons to criticize Steele-endorser Russell Simmons and his hip-hop empire, he is a far better example of a modern African-American entrepreneurial success story than the morally reprobate Don King.

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Ranking the NFL

The foggy NFL picture is becoming clearer, so it is time to look at where the teams rank:

BEARS: With their schedule, this team could go 16-0. The only tough matchups the rest of the way are at the Giants, at the Patriots, and at the Rams. The way they beat up on the Seahawks three weeks ago (37-6) shows they can play with the big boys. The way they beat the Cardinals last night shows they can find ways to win (and a little luck never hurts).

SEAHAWKS: Even without Shaun Alexander, they manage to win, with their only loss coming to "da Bears".

PANTHERS: This ranking is based strictly on the presence of Steve Smith. With him, they are 4-0, including wins over the Saints and Ravens. Without him, they are 0-2, losing to the Falcons and Vikings.

SAINTS: Aside from a squeaker they lost to the Panthers in Carolina, this Saints team has been dominant. Winning against the Eagles showed they can win the big ones.

BRONCOS: After their week 1 loss to the Rams, the Broncos have rolled through their schedule, including consecutive wins over the Patriots and the Ravens.

COLTS: Until they lose, the Colts have to be considered up there. However, their only decisive victory came against the hapless Texans. In their favor, the Colts did manage to beat the Jaguars in a close game; however, their defense is weak, and their running game is questionable. But as long as Peyton Manning is there, they have a chance.

CHARGERS: San Diego is a borderline "almost elite" team. Their loss to the Ravens almost drops them a notch, but the Chargers take care of the bad teams with ease.

EAGLES: Another borderline "almost elite" team. Losses to the Saints and Giants are holding them down, but they MUST be respected.

PATRIOTS: This team is still hard to peg. They lost to the Broncos, but they also beat the Bengals.

GIANTS: Why aren't the G-Men rated higher? Because they can't beat the "almost elite", having lost to the Colts and Seahawks. Add in some really sloppy play, and this rating may be generous.

RAVENS: Their win against the Chargers showed how good they can be. The last two losses to the Broncos and Panthers showed they are not quite ready for the "almost elite".

JAGUARS: Another hard team to peg, but they are good. I just can't rank them higher after that loss to the Redskins two weeks ago.

FALCONS: A borderline "good" team. With their only losses to the Saints and the Giants, and some dominant wins over lesser teams, it is hard to be certain which Falcon team is real.

BENGALS: Their loss to the Buccaneers was a head-scratcher. However, they may drop to average, or rise to "almost elite", in the next five weeks, with games against the Panthers, Falcons, Ravens, Chargers, and Saints. That is a brutal schedule.

STEELERS: How can a 2-3 team be called "good"? They lost to the Jags, Bengals, and Chargers. With Pittsburgh seemingly coming out of their funk against K.C., this rating may actually be a little low.

BUCCANEERS: Only one win? But it was against the Bengals. Their losses to the Ravens, Falcons, Panthers, and Saints, tell me they are NOT a one-win team. They might even be good.

COWBOYS: Losses to the Eagles and Jags leave the Cowboys here.

JETS: They lose to good teams (Pats, Colts, and Jags) and beat bad teams (Titans, Bills, and Dolphins). I would call that the definition of average.

RAMS: If you consider the Rams week 1 victory over the Broncos a fluke, then they have to be ranked here. They lost to the 49ers!

VIKINGS: Ignoring the OT win over the "Steve Smith"-less Panthers, the Vikes have beaten the Redskins and Lions. Nothing to get excited about here.

REDSKINS: How do they beat the Jags and lose to the Titans? Parity is a cruel mistress.

CHIEFS: When your only wins are against the 49ers and Cardinals, calling you "average" is kind.

BROWNS: I know. Only one win, and that was against the Raiders. But look who they lost to: Saints, Bengals, Ravens, and Panthers. They may have the most brutal schedule in the NFL.

BILLS: Almost average. Beating the Vikes was a good sign. Losing to the Lions was not.

TEXANS: They have played poorly, but they have had some tough games: Eagles, Colts, Redskins, and Cowboys.

CARDINALS: They almost beat the elite team, and they might even be better than this. But only beating the 49ers doesn't put you high up in the rankings.

49ERS: They are getting better. At least the 49ers are fun to watch now.

DOLPHINS: If Culpepper ever gets healthy, this is a better team. Until then...

PACKERS: Time to retire Brett. Sure they have lost to some good teams. But the way they looked, I am not sure it would have made a difference.

LIONS: If the Lions resurrected Vince Lombardi as their head coach...they would still lose.

TITANS: The Redskins game was a fluke. They are REALLY this bad. However, with a few more wins, they might move up to average.

RAIDERS: Sorry Raider fans. But if you look at this team, you know it is true. I just hope they can sneak in a win somewhere.

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Monday, October 16, 2006


My New "Favorite" Democrat

Well, it seems that the guy running against Mark Foley-impaired NRCC Chairman Tom Reynolds is something of a character:

Mr. Davis is prone to overstatement. He has warned about “Red China,” for example, and suggested he would take a bat to anyone who sent his sons sexually explicit e-mail messages like those a congressman sent to young male pages.

He defies liberal orthodoxies. He has said he wants to “seal” the nation’s borders and has held memberships in conservative groups like the Cato Institute and the Heritage Foundation.
And here is the kicker:
And he is a bit of a maverick. He has banished his handlers from the room when a reporter interviews him, and he has yet to invite any national party luminary to campaign with him in the district.
As is known, I have a favorable disposition, in general to the Chinese government. However, having a liberal throwback in the House who calls out the fact that it is still, technically a communist superpower, must be recognized.

Wow, NO "handlers" when sitting down with a reporter? Gee, that suggests the man can actually think on his feet -- and hisn't deathly afraid of what might come out of his mouth! This might be just another New York Times cheesy overwrought article.

But, Davis -- for all of his faults (and blatant liberalism in many areas) -- looks like the real thing.

Anyway, anyone who looks like they could give Democratic leadership headaches in the next Congress (regardless of who is in the majority) is OK with me.

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In a column that is, thankfully not behind the Times Select wall, David Carr notes how the modern PC -- with video-cameras, microphones and speakers have become a much more entertaining type of "reality-show" than those on television:

Computers, which were designed to save time, have become machines that make it disappear and threaten to take traditional models of wasting hours (i.e., television) with them. About 20 percent of the audience of “Lost” has gone missing since last year, even though the show has suffered no discernible decline in quality. It is less likely that its audience fled to NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” in the same time slot than that it found other diversions.
Carr is only partly right -- but the full reason is certainly connected to the basic theme of his column. The PC, like other newer devices in the tech world, have freed people of having to be on a distant individual's time schedule.

Daddy Carr doesn't have to watch "Lost" at the 9 p.m. Wednesday slot ABC has allocated for it because he has either Tivo-ed (or, at best taped it). But, as Carr does mention, ABC has now made "Lost" (and other top dramas) available for free at the site (with only having to watch one 30-second commercial between segments). It is highly probable that ABC hasn't "Lost" any of its viewers to either family pursuits or to the competition. It is more likely that those viewers have time-shifted and are now watching "Lost" at a more convenient time. However, if they are doing that at ABC's Web-site, they aren't registering in the Nielsen rating system. So, that has a palpable impact on advertising dollars. But the viewer/consumer doesn't care about that.

By coincidence, one of the characters on my current favorite show, NBC's "Heroes" is a Japanese young man who finds that he can break the space-time continuum. Hiro (that's his actual name) manages to teleport himself from Tokyo to New York AND make five-week jumps back and forth through time. The show is smart and (as it is co-written by professional comic book writer Jeph Loeb) one of the smoothest adaptations of classic "super-hero" archetypes to live television I've ever seen.

In addition to its Monday first-run showing at 9 p.m. on NBC, the network makes the full episode available at for a week AND also airs it on sister network, the Sci-Fi Channel at 7 P.M. Fridays. To borrow an old NBC tag line, the show may be "Must-See" TV for me. But, I'm not under any pressure to see it tonight, as I would have been "forced" to just a few years ago.

The viewers are not lost; we may not be super-heroes, but we all have the ability to time-shift now.

UPDATE: Now includes links to the shows and creators mentioned.

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Papa Don't Preach...

I've been losing sleep,
But I made up my mind,
I'm buying my black baby!

And I don't mean maybe!

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Truth From A Republican President

My good friend in DC, ERA passed along this interesting find:
. . . .Woodrow Wilson spoke of making the world safe for democracy. Our task today is to make the worldsafe for liberty. Democracy is political, a system devised by human reason. Liberty is personal, a striving of the human spirit. Democracy is a particular form of government,which evolved out of the parliamentary traditions of Western Europe, which was brought here to North America by the Europeans settlers and then developed as our country grew. Liberty is a human condition.
Liberty can survive and even flourish in other systembesides democracies. In this country, thanks to centuries of political evolution, we are fortunate enough to have liberty and democracy. We should not make the mistake of attempting to impose instant democracy on nations not ready for it, and in the process pave the way for destruction of such liberties as they have.
Making the world safe for liberty, then, does not mean establishing democracy everywhere on earth. It does mean making liberty secure where it exists: secure against overt aggression, and also against externallysupported subversion. If we make liberty secure where it exists, then by the force of its example liberty will become the wave of the future. . . . . .”
-- Richard Nixon, The Real War, 1980

The timing on sending me this was most apt given the news that the word leaking out of Iraq now is that the Iraq's government into a "strong-man" commission in order to get the sectarian violence under control. Yep, the "j"-word is being used: "junta." That this is not just some "nutty rumour coming out of the British press" is demonstrated in the fact that the Washington Post's David Ignatius devoted his Friday column to reporting on the rumour (which he tried to convince himself as much as anyone that it wasn't true).

So, in order to hold onto a modicum of liberty for Iraq, will democracy have to be sacrificed?

If so, what, then, will be the legacy of the purple fingers?

For that matter will individual Iraqis start wondering from whom they may now indeed be getting the finger?

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Early results from "Pick the NFL winners"

Time for me to eat a little crow after my awful NFL picks from last week. Whose brain-dead idea was it to start this thing?

Oh yeah, I guess it was me. Never mind.

Buffalo at Detroit: I was wrong. Detroit is every bit as mediocre as Buffalo.

Carolina at Baltimore: Wrong again, but is it my fault Steve McNair got hurt early?

Cincinnati at Tampa Bay: This was a shocker.

Houston at Dallas: No surprises here.

N.Y. Giants at Atlanta: Amazingly, the Giants not only did NOT stop Atlanta's running game, the G-Men put on a running clinic of their own.

Philadelphia at New Orleans: I'm a believer now. The Saints are for real.

Seattle at St. Louis: Seattle proves me wrong in a squeaker.

Tennessee at Washington: Huh? What the heck happened here? Gibbs, time to go back to NASCAR.

Kansas City at Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh has not looked like the Super Bowl champs all season. Until this game.

Miami at N.Y. Jets: Hey! I got one! (barely, but I'll take it)

San Diego at San Francisco: Note to Robert George: Was I right, or was I right?

Oakland at Denver: Sorry Raider fans. On the bright side, just think of that high draft pick we'll get next year...

Chicago at Arizona: TBD tonight.

In total, I got 4 right. If you need me, I'll be hiding under my desk for the rest of the day.

How all of you did (with your Chicago-Arizona pick):
Bill Barker: 8 (Bears)
RAGS: 7 (Cards)
J. Mark English: 7 (Cards)

UPDATE: After the Bears amazing come-from-behind victory last night, Bill Barker seals the win with an impressive 9 correct. Kudos Mr. Barker!

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Queer Eye For The Tory Guy

Even as a political crisis envelops the Republican Party over the actions of a pederastic gay member, their ideological brethren across the pond decide to go through a makeover to make themselves "gay friendly":

The Conservative party has signed an agreement with Stonewall, the gay rights organisation, to turn itself into a model gay friendly employer and build up its appeal to homosexual voters.
Francis Maude, the party chairman, has been in talks with Stonewall since early in the year and the Tories will now become part of its Diversity Champions programme.
The party’s latest move to leave behind the right-wing image of the Thatcher years has alienated some Tories but Maude said the majority would support it.

Given how massive sex scandals (several of the same-sex variety) helped doom the Conservative Party's historical monopoly on Parliament in 1997 and opened the door for New Labour, this is quite a major shift.

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