Friday, November 30, 2007

NFL update...

...I forgot to pick the Packers/Cowboys last night on this blog.
I was going to go with Dallas, being at home as they were and with all their firepower.
I realize that's easy to say now. Tony Romo really impressed me for the most part last night.
So did Green Bay's backup, Aaron Rogers. But the Cowboys do appear to have an edge on the Pack. By the way, it looks like Brett Favre will be okay.
Sunday's picks to appear here tomorrow.

Evel Knievel, RIP

The former daredevil Evel Knievel died today.
I remember him well from the 1970s--he was often on ABC's Wide World of Sports, attempting all kinds of challenging feats--jumping him motorcycle over buses, across gorges and canyons, etc.

It wasn't truly "sports." His leaps weren't even true "events"--they were manufactured for television and ratings. But they got them. Somehow we in the 1970s hungered for the something new, something supposed to be exciting and different, even if it was made-for-TV. In the '70s, most everyone knew Evel Knievel's name. He certainly had some guts, and it made him some money. Now he's made his final leap. RIP...

Excuse me, you forgot something

Today's installment for the Political Correctness Dept:
Every month, the Spokane (WA) School District sends out a parent/teacher newsletter.
For this December, the newsletter listed the important holidays for the month. But the public school bureaucrats who wrote it forgot something. Guess what it was. And who, in this day and age, is surprised anymore?!?
Hanukkah? Check.
Human Rights Day? Check.
Winter break? Check.
Eid al-Adha? Check.
Kwanzaa? Check.
Anything else big going on in December that the Spokane School District thinks should be noted in its parent/student newsletter?
Oh, yeah!
Hanukkah, Human Rights Day, winter break, the Islamic holy day Eid al-Adha, first day of winter and Kwanzaa all made the list, but Spokane Public Schools snubbed Christmas.
Yuletide was left off a list of “important dates” in a December newsletter sent to elementary school students’ families, drawing complaints from some parents that in an age of political correctness, Christians are being overlooked in favor of other cultures and beliefs.
As the response started coming in, the district’s community relations department began damage control, sending out e-mails to school staff accepting responsibility for the “Bulletin Board” newsletter blunder and calling it “an honest, unfortunate mistake.” Christmas had been added to the “important dates” section of the online version of the school district’s newsletter by Thursday afternoon.

Speaking the language

Over at NRO, Mark Krikorian examines the results of a Pew Center poll on Hispanic immigrants and their use of English. The results are worrying. Back in the 19th and early 20th century, there was always one thing we could count on: that immigrants to this country would learn English. That might not be the case anymore, and it's not good for this country. The survey looks apparently at all Hispanic immigrants, not just illegals, but...imagine what the percentages below would look like for them:
The Pew Hispanic Center has released the results of a survey on Hispanic immigrant language use that is not as reassuring as they seem to think. (The report is here, with coverage by the L.A. Times and the WaPo.) They report, for instance, that 88-percent of American-born children of Hispanic immigrants speak English very well — that's nice, until you realize that it means that one out of eight doesn't speak English well. And even among the grandchildren of Hispanic immigrants, 6-percent report that they don't speak English well and 19-percent that they don't read it well — these are the native-born children of native-born Americans whose immigrant ancestors arrived decades ago. Other disturbing findings: fully 28-percent of Hispanic immigrants never use English on the job, and only 29-percent report using more English than Spanish at work. And among naturalized citizens — people who are supposed to have passed a language test — 11-percent report that they speak no English at all, with 35-percent speaking just a little.

Youtube Democrat questioners unclear on the concept

Gosh, says one of the Democrats who got to question Republicans at the CNN presidential debate the other night, what did I do? "Retired Brig. Gen. Keith Kerr, who asked why gays should not be allowed to serve openly in the military, is a member of Clinton's steering committee on gay and lesbian issues, something her campaign disclosed in a news release in June....On CNN's "American Morning," Kerr said he has done nothing for the Clinton campaign and that the video was "a private initiative on my own." He also said he has supported Republicans."

But sir, you apparently led CNN to believe--certainly CNN led it's audience to believe--that you were an "unaffiliated" and perhaps even undecided voter, with no connection to any campaign. You weren't. You're for Clinton. And why shouldn't we suspect, therefore, that your question, far from seeking to elicit information to help undecided voters, was rather an attempt to play gotcha?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Another thing about that debate last night...

Big problems with the questions CNN chose for last night's GOP debate. First, and perhaps most importantly, the questions themselves were bad, as Johnathan Martin of the Politico notes: "...the questions chosen seemed to reflect a Manhattan elite caricature of what defines the Republican party. And as Barnes gets at, there were few (if any) questions about kitchen table issues like education, health care, energy, jobs, and the mortgage crisis that many Republicans, as well as millions of other Americans, care about. Instead, it was all the conservative hot buttons, real (immigration) and perceived (Rebel flag)."

And then there the questioners. For some reason--most likely out of laziness and an inability to do their homework of vetting the questioners--CNN allowed it to turn into a chance for Democrats to cross-examine the Republican candidates. Unbelievable. And people wonder why the Republican candidates prefer Fox News. In toto:
To refresh:
1. The retired brigadier general is on Hillary Clinton's gay and lesbian steering committee.
2. The young woman who asked about jailing women who get abortions has stated on her YouTube profile page that she backs John Edwards.
3. The "Log Cabin Republican" has written on the web about "why I'm supporting Barack Obama."
4. The guy who asked Ron Paul if he would run as an independent also asked a question at the Democratic debate and has told reporters that he "likes Bill Richardson."
Is America such a small country that Mark Strauss of Davenport, Iowa gets to ask two questions of candidates?

On the umpteenth Republican debate

This seems like a representative media view of how last night's GOP YouTube debate went.
Many in the media like Mike Huckabee (but what will happen when the conservative base finds out more about him?).
They like the McCain-as-underdog-who's-"found his voice" theme.
They don't like Giuliani and Romney so much, and indeed last night's sniping between them didn't seem to illuminate much.
Ron Paul has zealous support and sounds the traditional, pure libertarian clarion call well.
But on foreign policy and Iraq specifically, sorry, Mr. Paul, but Senator McCain is right--you're a pseudo-isolationist. That'll never play.
In any case, there's probably been too many debates.
The race is as wide-open as I can ever remember.

The Clintons still love their polls

During the days of Bill Clinton's presidential administration, his love and dependence on polls became legendary. He met with his pollster practically daily. One time Clinton even had his pollster query the nation on what it thought of Martha's Vineyard as a Clinton summer vacation stop. Well, some things never change--see for example Senator Clinton's campaign's involvement in Barbara Streisand's recent endorsement: "Still, the singer’s value to Mrs. Clinton shouldn’t be scoffed at, another Streisand associate said on Wednesday. “We would’ve low-keyed it,” the associate said. “But the campaign says it’s a net plus. They polled it. Among Democratic primary voters, even in places like Iowa, they love Barbra. By the way, she just sold out concert tours around the world. And she’s great for fund-raising. In fact, a fund-raising letter signed by her went out this morning.”

Why immigration is a hot issue dept

Just look at these numbers: "Half of the nearly 3.5 million immigrants living in Texas are in the country illegally, the Center for Immigration Studies says in a report being released today.
Based on the latest Census Bureau data, the report said Texas has one of the fastest-growing immigrant populations of any state. It said that 50 percent of the state's foreign-born population — slightly more than 1.7 million people — are illegal immigrants. Only Arizona at 65 percent, North Carolina at 58 percent and Georgia at 53 percent had a higher proportion of illegal immigrants in their immigrant populations."

Naming teddy bears Muhammad

A British teacher in the Sudan discovers the joys of radical Islam: "British teacher Gillian Gibbons has been convicted of inciting religious hatred for letting her pupils name a teddy bear Muhammad and sentenced to 15 days in prison and deportation from Sudan, one of her defense lawyers said Thursday. "The judge found Gillian Gibbons guilty and sentenced her to 15 days jail and deportation," said Ali Mohammed Hajab, a member of her defense team. Gibbons, 54, was arrested Sunday after complaints to the Education Ministry that she had insulted Prophet Muhammad, the most revered figure in Islam, by applying his name to a toy animal."

I suppose the Sudanese expect us to be grateful that she was not given 40 lashes.
What's really going on here? The sentence was slightly moderated to appease the British. But she was convicted in the first place in order for Sudan's leader to continue to burnish his Muslim credentials, and to appease Muslim radicals in the country who apparently threatened demonstrations. There was even fear for the teacher's life.

Henry Hyde, RIP

Henry Hyde, a long-time Republican congressman from Illinois, who's been retired for a few years, died today. He was 83.

I remember him well, especially from the Reagan years. I can still remember catching the occasional snippet of a congressional debate on C-Span, and there Hyde would be, energetically taking part in the debates, his white mane of hair bobbing as he emphasized his points, defending aid to the Contras or Reagan administration support for the anti-communist government of El Salvador or making the anti-abortion case. He fought the good fight. RIP...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Meanwhile, the Republican presidential race is in flux

This poll suggests that maybe Huckabee now leads in Iowa.
On the other hand, Rudy is up pretty big in Florida.
While in South Carolina, the leader is "undecided."
Big Republican YouTube debate tonight in Florida. We'll see what happens.

Did Bill hurt Hill?

Mona Charen over on NRO thinks so: "It was only a matter of time before Bill Clinton did or said something to undermine and/or sabotage his wife's campaign due to his own overpowering narcissicism. Today he told an audience that he opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning thus undermining his wife's position, namely that she was for it but lost confidence when Bush supposedly screwed up the conduct of the war."

Plus there's evidence that he wasn't against it from the beginning--he supported giving Bush war authority back in 2003.

But don't forget--we're talking Democratic primary voters here. They may not care.
Awhile back, Jim Geraghty of NRO said something that just may turn out to be wise and prescient: "Declaring that Hillary Clinton has done nothing wrong is as instinctive as breathing to many Democrats now. Nominating Obama or Edwards over Hillary now would invalidate all of those defenses over the years. It would mean her critics had a point all these years, and they cannot concede that core belief they've held close to their hearts for a decade and a half. Democrats aren't just supportive of Hillary Clinton's rise to the presidency: they're emotionally and intellectually invested in it."

It will be very interesting to find out if that's true.

PC run amuck again, this time in Arizona

A 9 year old boy kinda sorta maybe used the words "brown people" and it hit the fan: "The circumstances of the boy’s suspension itself raise troubling questions about student discipline, interrogation and oversight at Abraham Lincoln. According to school officials, the boy made a statement about “brown people” to another elementary student with whom he was having a conflict. They maintain it was his second offense using the phrase. But the tape recording indicates this only came out after another parent was allowed to question the boy and elicited from him the statement that he “doesn't cooperate with brown people.” After that was reported to the boy's teacher, he was made to stand in front of his class and publicly confess what he'd said. The boy maintains that he never said it; that the words were put in his mouth by the parent who questioned him. That parent happens to be the mother of the student with whom he is having a conflict—and she happens to work for Abraham Lincoln as a detention-room officer."

Note especially the forcing of the boy to stand up in front of class and confess his "crime."
How long will it be before Big Brother is doing this, aided by thought police?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Today's good news from Iraq

From the invaluable Michael Totten (via Instapundit)

"You're probably safer here than you are in New York City,” said Marine First Lieutenant Barry Edwards when I arrived in Fallujah. I raised my eyebrows at him skeptically. “How many people got shot at last night in New York City?” he said.
“Probably somebody,” I said.
“Yeah, probably somebody did,” he said. “Somewhere.”
Nobody was shot last night in Fallujah. No American has been shot anywhere in Fallujah since the 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment rotated into the city two months ago. There have been no rocket or mortar attacks since the summer. Not a single of the 3/5 Marines has even been wounded.

Ray Nagin Dept

You remember him--he's the mayor of New Orleans.
He's kind of the apotheosis of a not too bright, hypocritical, corrupt politician--an example of exactly what conservatives worry about when they talk about the dangers of governmental power in the hands of individuals. Here's his latest:
After the October 20th primary election for which only 27.5% of the city's registered voters turned out, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said he was "disgusted."In a television interview, Nagin said "it was kind of offensive to me, because here I am bustin' my butt every day and all I'm asking citizens to do is to plug into the democratic process."It's now reported that Nagin himself was a no-show at the polls in October.

The immigration issue grows

Just ask Senator Clinton as she campaigns in Iowa: "Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York was asked at nearly all her Iowa campaign stops over the weekend how she would deal with illegal aliens, and she responded with a call for "comprehensive immigration reform."
It's a question all the presidential candidates face in Iowa and elsewhere. The Republicans incorporate immigration reform into their stump speeches, while the Democrats rarely mention it unless they are asked. But they are almost always asked."

Leave it to Senator Clinton to try to demagogue the issue herself, even while she decries demagoguery: "Mrs. Clinton criticized "demagogues" who call for deportation of the nation's illegals. She said such an idea would be costly and unrealistic, and would amount to "basically knocking on every door" and creating "essentially a police state."

Of course, serious, responsible persons concerned about illegal immigration aren't calling for every single illegal to be "deported."

Monday, November 26, 2007

NFL picks postmortem

So I wound up 7-5 yesterday. Not that bad, given some of the wild upsets (San Fran beating AZ at AZ? The Eagles not only covering, but almost BEATING the Patriots?).
So the Steelers better watch out tonight. But I still think I have a good shot at winding up 8-5.

YouTube and unintended consequences

Extreme Mortman wonders if politicians, fearing the rapid spread of George-Allen-like-"macaca"-moments a la 2006, will withdraw even further from public view: "Could the YouTube revolution in politics backfire? We’ve become quite enamored with YouTube’s edgy ability to bring us raw, uncensored, unscripted moments from politics for our ridiculing pleasure. But is this public video voyeurism setting ourselves up for the next logical development: politicians will simply provide us less raw, uncensored, unscripted moments?"

Maybe. Although, we've had more debates in this presidential campaign than ever before (or so it seems), and yes, they're scripted and controlled to an extent too, but they give us the potential for something "unscripted" to happen (just ask Hillary's campaign about the October 30th debate and the driver's licenses/immigrants question. That definitely wasn't on their script.) And so far, I haven't seen any evidence suggesting that candidates aren't doing as many public events. Candidates seem to be out there quite a bit. On the other hand, you also have the Clinton campaign "planting" questions at supposedly open "town hall" meetings (to be fair, I can't believe her campaign is the only one doing it).

If in fact candidates are more and more reluctant to appear in public or to talk with real people, and the American people don't like it, then there's always this alternative: hold such candidates accountable at the ballot box.

Online gambling nazis

A pastor, whose son lost lots of money on internet gambling and who resorted to robbery to get more money to keep playing, wants legal restrictions on it--but, as Jacob Sullum reminds us, conservatives who don't want to lose their libertarian sides should beware:
Pastor Hogan tends to overgeneralize from his son's equally extreme experience with the game, which involved losing hundreds of dollars a day while playing 12 hours at a time. Mr. Hogan demands an addict's veto over Internet gambling: Because his son robbed a bank, he thinks, no one should be allowed to play poker online. "I oppose any effort to legalize or even give credibility to Internet gambling," he said. He called last year's passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which effectively requires U.S. financial institutions to shun transactions related to online wagers, "an answer to my prayers that other families would not have to suffer as my family has." Mr. Hogan's argument is a fine illustration of prohibitionist logic, which says anything that can be done to excess should be illegal. But as Miss Duke noted, "If the government is going to ban every activity that can lead to harmful compulsion, the government is going to have to ban nearly every activity. Shopping, day trading, sex, [eating] chocolate, even drinking water — these and myriad other activities, most of which are part of everyday life, have been linked to harmful compulsions."

Democrats' gloves off in Iowa?

Obama attacks Hillary: "I think the fact of the matter is that Sen. Clinton is claiming basically the entire eight years of the Clinton presidency as her own, except for the stuff that didn't work out, in which case she says she has nothing to do with it," Obama said, and added, referring to his relationship with his wife, Michelle, "There is no doubt that Bill Clinton had faith in her and consulted with her on issues, in the same way that I would consult with Michelle, if there were issues," Obama said. "On the other had, I don't think Michelle would claim that she is the best qualified person to be a United States Senator by virtue of me talking to her on occasion about the work I've done." With this line of attack, Obama is openly calling Clinton out on one of the basic arguments of her candidacy and her career -- that her experience at Bill Clinton's side in the White House and before, make her the most qualified person in the race."

No doubt.
But I think what most neutral political observers are saying about this is: it's about time!
Senator Clinton's endless invocations of her vast "experience" have been a weak point of her argument for months. It's about time somebody went after it.

Debating conservatism dept

Michael Gerson, a conservative and a noted former speechwriter for the Bush administration, has been writing some interesting stuff lately about American conservatism, about what it should be about. Some of it I agree with; some I don't, and I'll be writing about that in the weeks to come. Today I want to agree with him, and note something he wrote a few weeks ago that discusses conservatives and foreign policy.

Conservatives are skeptical, and rightly so, he notes, of grand social or foreign policy projects: "Traditional conservatism has taught the priority of culture -- that societies are organic rather than mechanical and that attempts to change them through politics are like grafting machinery onto a flower. In this view, pushing for hasty reform is likely to upset some hidden balance and undermine the best of intentions. Wisdom is found in deference to tradition, not in bending the world to fit some religious or philosophic abstraction, even one as noble as the Declaration of Independence."

HOWEVER: "A conservatism that warns against utopianism and calls for cultural sensitivity is useful. When it begins to question the importance or existence of moral ideals in politics and foreign policy, it is far less attractive."

What does he mean? Well, for example, democracy and freedom are not merely philosophical abstractions seeking to upend the traditional order: "At the most basic level, the democracy agenda is not abstract at all. It is a determination to defend dissidents rotting in airless prisons, and people awaiting execution for adultery or homosexuality, and religious prisoners kept in shipping containers in the desert, and men and women abused and tortured in reeducation camps."

Historically, conservatism has not always recognized this: "Traditional conservatism has many virtues -- and a large historical problem. Certainly, established traditions concerning family, manners and military honor deserve our respect, because the human race is often wise while the individual is often foolish. But few human traditions were more deeply rooted in history than human slavery. Many traditional conservatives (though not the Whig Edmund Burke) defended this tradition and criticized the disruptive, religious radicalism of abolitionists..."

And so conservatives must not fall into the old trap, a trap many have identified and warned against over the years, be they Russell Kirk or Frank Meyer or whoever, of merely defending whatever is: "The unavoidable problem is this: Without moral absolutes, there is no way to determine which traditions are worth preserving and which should be overturned. Conservatism assumes and depends on an objective measure of right and wrong that skepticism cannot provide. Without a firm moral conviction that independence is superior to servitude, that freedom is superior to slavery, that the weak deserve special care and protection, the habit of conservatism is radically incomplete. In the absence of elevating ideals, it can become pessimistic and unambitious -- a morally indifferent preference for the status quo."

I think Gerson makes good points here. He could have also supported his ideas by examining the recent history of the post-World War II American Right. Look, why did conservatives so oppose communism and the Soviet Union? Why did our hero Ronald Reagan oppose it? Because of our moral ideals; because communism destroyed democracy and brought us brutal tyrants like Stalin or Mao, because it trampled on the rights of the individual and locked away millions in concentration camps and executed millions more. Because communism denied democracy by crushing the democratic Hungarian revolution of 1956 and the brief breath of freedom seen in Czechoslovakia in 1968. And on and on. The Cold War wasn't merely, for conservatives, about defending American national security (although that was part of it). It was also about defending moral ideals like freedom, liberty, and democracy against a dark cloud of totalitarianism. Communism is pretty much gone. Moral ideals as part of our foreign policy shouldn't be, although they must always be connected and closely identified with national security concerns.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Today's summary of good news from Iraq

Good roundup here. Remember, war opponents, the word is spelled V-I-C-T-O-R-Y:
** Violence in Iraq is down by 50%.
** Civilian casualties in Iraq are down by 60%.
** Baghdad casualties are down by 75%.
** Basra violence is down by 90%.
** Terrorist attacks in Iraq are down by 80%.
** IED attacks down by 55%.
** Average daily attacks down by 42%.
** Foreign insurgent flow into Iraq down by more than 50%
** Suicide bombings down 70% since March.
** Foreign Terrorist flow into Iraq down by 50%.
** Diala Province violence down by 68%.

Fun with hate crime stats

The Southern Poverty Law Center, along with the magazine DiversityInc, claims that hate crime statistics (they claim there are close to 190,000 hate crimes in America per year) show that there is a growing "white backlash" against minority gains in America.

But note how Byron York of NRO shows that there are, well, problems with their interpretation of the numbers. Fundamental--there are lies, damned lies, and then there are statistics, especially when it comes to ideologically charged issues such as this: "But what about that 190,000 number? Can that be true? Well, there is such a Justice Department study, "Hate Crimes Reported by Victims and Police." And it does say, based on victims' reports, that from July 2000 through December 2003 "an average of 191,000 hate crime incidents involving one or more victims occurred annually." What it does not do, however, is support the idea of a "surprisingly broad and deep white backlash against the gains of black America."For example, the study reported: "There were no significant differences in rates of hate crime vulnerability for racial or ethnic groups. Whites were victimized at a rate of 0.9 per 1,000, blacks at 0.7 per 1,000, members of other races at 1.4 per 1,000, Hispanics at 0.9 per 1,000, and non-Hispanics at 0.9 per 1,000. Moreover, the report says that "victims of violent hate crimes [ones in which victims actually saw the perpetrators] reported white and black offenders in close percentages."

Forty-four percent of the reported victimizations involved a white offender, while 39 percent involved a black offender. If the study is correct, hate crimes, at least those covered in the Justice Department report cited by the Times, are a bit more diverse than DiversityInc would have you believe."

Who's an "imperialist"?

It's disappointing to hear the Archbishop of Canterbury talk like this: "He went on to suggest that the West was fundamentally adrift: “Our modern western definition of humanity is clearly not working very well. There is something about western modernity which really does eat away at the soul.” Williams suggested American leadership had broken down: “We have only one global hegemonic power. It is not accumulating territory: it is trying to accumulate influence and control. That’s not working.”

Hmmm. What kind of society does he think Al Qaeda and other Islamofascist types seek to foist upon the world? What about the elections the U.S. has sponsored in Iraq?

Further: "He contrasted it unfavourably with how the British Empire governed India. “It is one thing to take over a territory and then pour energy and resources into administering it and normalising it. Rightly or wrongly, that’s what the British Empire did — in India, for example."

What do the people of India think about that these days, one wonders...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

NFL Picks: week 12

Home teams in CAPS as usual.
I'm 1-1 so far, was 10-5-1 last week.

CINCINNATI 1.5 over Tennessee. PICK: TITANS. Has Cincy won, or covered, in a game like this all season?

CLEVELAND 3 over Houston. PICK: BROWNS. Their firepower, especially at home, to get it done for them again.

KANSAS CITY 5 over Oakland. PICK: CHIEFS. This is tricky, with the Chiefs having only 1 healthy RB. But Croyle should be able to move the ball, and the Chiefs D to stuff the Raiders shaky attack.

Seattle 3 over ST. LOUIS. PICK: SEAHAWKS. This is a game that a playoff team like the Seahawks (and they still look like one to me), with Hasselbeck, usually wins.

NY GIANTS 7 over Minnesota. PICK: GIANTS. No Adrian Peterson and the Giants are at home, coming off a big road win. You have to go with them.

TAMPA BAY 3 over Washington. PICK: BUCS. Tampa Bay is 4-1 vs the spread at home; their defense is tough.

New Orleans 2.5 over CAROLINA. PICK: SAINTS. Both teams hard to figure. But the Panthers are 0-4 vs the spread at home; and they remain unsettled at QB. The Saints meanwhile have Drew Brees.

JACKSONVILLE 8 over Buffalo. PICK: JAGS. A bit iffy---8 pts is a lot. But the Jags seem to be coming on; David Garrard will play; and Marshawn Lynch won't.

ARIZONA 10 over San Francisco. PICK: CARDINALS. The Niners are bad, and have to start Trent Dilfer. The Cardinals seem to be rounding into shape with the experience of Kurt Warner leading them.

CHICAGO 2 over Denver. PICK: BEARS. This one's a tossup--we all know Grossman's failings. But Jay Cutler and the Broncos have struggled on the road. The Bears to surprise and squeak one out here at home.

SAN DIEGO 8.5 over Baltimore. PICK: CHARGERS. They've played much better at home. Ravens are unsettled on offense.

NEW ENGLAND 24 over Philadelphia. PICK: PATRIOTS. Of course. How can anyone pick against them???

PITTSBURGH 16 over Miami. PICK: STEELERS. That's a lot of points, but the Steelers will be motivated after last week's flop vs the Jets, and John Beck for the Dolphins hasn't seen a defense like this--and on the road, yet.

The outcome of the Aussie election

So American ally John Howard lost today in the Australian elections. But as Captain Ed reminds us, the outcome may not be so bad for the U.S. And in any case, the U.S. owes Mr. Howard a big debt of gratitude, as the Captain explains:
Americans owe a large debt of gratitude to John Howard. Faced with the Bali bombings and a short distance between his nation and the radicals in Indonesia, Howard adopted the same forward strategy against radical Islamists as the US. He spoke eloquently and often on the need to face down the terrorists and not to surrender to extortion and threats. Australians manned the barricades along with Americans. Brits, Poles, and troops from a multitude of nations, and remain on the job in Afghanistan. What can we expect from Mr. Rudd? Apparently, more of the same on foreign affairs, albeit perhaps with less public enthusiasm. Rudd has worked as the shadow Foreign Minister since 2001. His campaign got criticized for its "me-tooism" when Rudd failed to differentiate himself much from Howard on a wide range of issues. He is seen as a determined policy wonk rather than the usual Australian style of gregarious politico, and the main differences will be style and domestic policy, where Labour can expect to push for a larger social-service establishment.

Memo to 2008 Republican candidates dept

As it becomes more and more difficult to deny the gains the U.S. military is making on the ground in Iraq, Democrats change their tone: “Our troops are the best in the world; if you increase their numbers they are going to make a difference,” Mrs. Clinton said in a statement after her aides were asked about her views on the ebbing violence in Baghdad.

To Republicans: attack! Remind her and other Democrats who say this kind of stuff that she sure wasn't saying that when President Bush advocated the surge. Back then, she and others said it would never work.

Friday, November 23, 2007

And you were being...?

Celeb Joss Stone complains about a past relationship with an older man: “He was totally being illegal. Of course he was. He knew he was. I was 16, he was 24; that’s weird. At the time I didn’t think it was weird. I thought he was lovely and mature, but he was weird. He’s not really a very stable person and I was kind of afraid to be with him. He was scary; he scared the shit out of me.”

Interesting. Meanwhile, what are your relationship choices like these days?
(We should probably be afraid to ask...)

The experience "argument"

A prominent Iowa Hillary supporter urges her to ditch the "experience" line: "I'll say it this way: Hillary, your "EXPERIENCE" slogan won't work. It won't get you elected. In Iowa and New Hampshire, it won't put it away for you. We're looking for more than that in our next president. We look at the candidates eye to eye, face to face. We listen carefully to your answers to our questions. That's OUR experience. Saying you're more "experienced" than Barack Obama or John Edwards or other candidates isn't going to get people to vote for you, because in Politics 21st Century, ideas count more than ever. Ideas will get us out of Iraq, sooner than later. Ideas will get us heath care — real, not imagined. Ideas will create an educational system that will prepare our kids for the 22nd century that many of them will touch, and in which their own children will compete."

This is a good reminder for conservatives, too.
Fundamental: it doesn't matter how much "experience" you have, if you have no ideas.
And it doesn't matter how much experience you have, if your experience lies in doing the wrong thing or embracing the wrong principles.

Some Europeans do Thanksgiving right

Some European Ameriphiles, wanting to ape our Turkey Day holiday correctly, even include one of the correct side dishes, one of my faves: "Canned green beans, canned Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup with canned fried onion rings casserole."

Yum! They know us well.

Day after Turkey Day

I was 1-1 in my picks yesterday.
Once again, I've learned my lesson regarding the Lions. They'll never change.
I completely forgot the pick Colts-Falcons---but in case you missed it, Colts win 31-13, begin to get some of their walking wounded back, and look more like themselves.

By the way, some call us football nuts crazy for watching all these games.
But I'd rather do that than get up at 4 in the morning on the day after Thanksgiving to line up to go shopping. I suppose it's its own example of fanaticism...

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

NFL Turkey Day picks

Gobble gobble. I was 10-5-1 last week.
Tomorrow's games:

Green Bay 3 over DETROIT. PICK: LIONS. I know, I know--have I lost my mind? But the Lions have occasionally played big on Turkey Day (they beat a heavily favored Green Bay team in 2003), Favre hasn't always played well at Ford Field, and the Pack might be looking ahead to next week's game vs Dallas.

DALLAS 14 over NY Jets. PICK: COWBOYS. Kudos to the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets for last week's upset over the Steelers. But no Laverneus Coles this week, and they're on the road vs Romo and TO. No upset this time. Cowboys probably to win by 3 TDs.

Was Bush too mushy towards Musharraf?

President Bush today said something nice about Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who lately has declared a state of emergency and suspended some democratic freedoms: "President Bush yesterday offered his strongest support of embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, saying the general "hasn't crossed the line" and "truly is somebody who believes in democracy." Bush spoke nearly three weeks after Musharraf declared emergency rule, sacked members of the Supreme Court and began a roundup of journalists, lawyers and human rights activists. Musharraf's government yesterday released about 3,000 political prisoners, although 2,000 remain in custody, according to the Interior Ministry. The comments, delivered in an interview with ABC News anchor Charles Gibson, contrasted with previous administration statements -- including by Bush himself -- expressing grave concern over Musharraf's actions. In his first public comments on the crisis two weeks ago, Bush said his aides bluntly warned Musharraf that his emergency measures "would undermine democracy."

Naturally, Bush's comments led to some barking from the usual Democrat/liberal quarters: "Several outside analysts and a key Democratic lawmaker expressed incredulity over Bush's comments and called them a sign of how personally invested the president has become in the U.S. relationship with Musharraf. "What exactly would it take for the president to conclude Musharraf has crossed the line? Suspend the constitution? Impose emergency law? Beat and jail his political opponents and human rights activists?" asked Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a presidential candidate. "He's already done all that. If the president sees Musharraf as a democrat, he must be wearing the same glasses he had on when he looked in Vladimir Putin's soul."

Well, they're welcome to be incredulous. But think a minute. President Bush has been urging Musharraf to ease up. The other day, Musharraf did--he released thousands from Pakistani jails--perhaps in response to Bush's plea. So, in return, Bush gave Pakistan's leader some props--perhaps as he'd promised he would, IF Musharraf responded to our concerns and BECAUSE Pakistan is a country we need as an ally in the war on terror and BECAUSE in any case Musharraf is no Joe Stalin. We can still help steer Pakistan in the right direction. Bush's actions may be very reasonable indeed. This kind of give and take is called diplomacy--in the real world.

Huckabee be gainin'... the Republican Iowa caucuses, where a new poll practically has him in a statistical tie for first place with Mitt Romney. wow. It's an impressive surge.

And at first glance, Mike Huckabee seems to have much to offer to principled conservatives. He's very much in favor of prosecuting the war on terror. He's solid on social issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

But watch out. On many issues of importance to the Right, he falls short. He smacks of populism and protectionism. He opposes school choice. He favors a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. As governor of Arkansas, government spending under his stewardship rose 3 times faster than did inflation. And on and on--there's a good summary here.

Conservatism and populism really don't coexist very well. Conservatives don't necessarily believe that democratic choices are always the right ones, or that the mythic entity "the people" are always right. Populists do. Conservatives hate demagogy; too often populists don't. It's good that Mike Huckabee is solid on social issues. But social issues aren't the whole ballgame for conservatives. Beware.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Today's good news from Iraq

And that is that the good news from Iraq, which this blog and others has been reporting for months now, is finally being recognized and accepted, is becoming part of the accepted "narrative", even in outlets whose editors are antiwar. That means you, NY Times--and today, the Times reported, concerning improvements in Baghdad: "
The security improvements in most neighborhoods are real. Days now pass without a car bomb, after a high of 44 in the city in February. The number of bodies appearing on Baghdad's streets has plummeted to about 5 a day, from as many as 35 eight months ago, and suicide bombings across Iraq fell to 16 in October, half the number of last summer and down sharply from a recent peak of 59 in March, the American military says. As a result, for the first time in nearly two years, people are moving with freedom around much of this city. In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark. In the most stable neighborhoods of Baghdad, some secular women are also dressing as they wish. Wedding bands are playing in public again, and at a handful of once shuttered liquor stores customers now line up outside in a collective rebuke to religious vigilantes from the Shiite Mahdi Army. Iraqis are clearly surprised and relieved to see commerce and movement finally increase, five months after an extra 30,000 American troops arrived in the country."

Note how long it has taken.
Now, will the American people recognize what it has taken the Times' editors and reporters so long to grasp?

Attention 1980s fans

Michael and Kitt might just be returning: "David Hasselhoff is in talks to reprise his role as Michael Knight in a TV movie sequel to his breakout 1980s hit series, Knight Rider, according to the Hollywood Reporter. NBC is hoping the TV movie will reboot the franchise and launch a new series. This time out, however, Hasselhoff will cede the KITT-driving to Justin Bruening, who will play Michael Knight's son."

These always come around eventually. I can remember being fired up one Saturday night in the late 1970s, because that night NBC showed a 2-hour Gilligan's Island reunion movie.

Changing life in these United States dept

Crooks today: doin' the crime and puttin' it online: "There was the recent arrest in Nevada of Chester Stiles, who allegedly filmed himself raping a three-year-old girl. This sensational item overlapped with the capture in Thailand of Christopher Paul Neil, a Canadian schoolteacher accused of posting on the Internet images of himself having sex with a series of children. Neither would in all likelihood have been jailed so quickly had they not photographed themselves performing these atrocities. Both Pekka-Eric Auvinen, who shot eight people in a Finnish high school on Nov. 7, and Cho Seung Hui, murderer of 32 at Virginia Tech this April, made confessional videos for broadcast or posting online--so called massacre manifestos--designed to outlive their suicides."

The web: is something new really just something old?
A new way for all of us to get in touch with our inner narcissism?

Bush Derangement Syndrome dept

Question: why are Rosie O'Donnell's latest anti-Bush rants (this time, she calls him a "war criminal") still considered news?

By now, they should be about as newsworthy as would be stories of dogs chasing cats.

Sweet Caroline

Neil Diamond reveals that his hit song, written 40 years ago, was inspired by Caroline Kennedy.
It's a great song. It's one of my favorite Neil Diamond hits.
Be honest--upon reading this, the song is rolling through your head, isn't it?
It is for anyone who came through the 1960s and '70s...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Family food fights at holiday time

Heh. "So the holidays are coming up and your family likes to discuss politics—what do you do if you are worried about fighting with Uncle Fester about the war in Iraq, with Aunt June over healthcare, and Cousin Jack over immigration instead of chowing down on turkey and cranberry sauce?"

Best answer I found: "Use duct tape."

Poll-watching: Democrats

Interesting---a Washington Post/ABC Poll of Iowa voters is out.
And on the Democratic side, it has Barack Obama leading Hillary Clinton by 4 points.
It suggests that Senator Clinton has slipped there lately on many fronts (since, let me remind you, that Oct. 30th debate, which this writer continues to believe was important, though not all agree with me).

Again--if Senator Clinton loses Iowa, it's a whole new ballgame.

Mr. Whipple is gone

The long-time actor who told shoppers "don't squeeze the Charmin" in commercials has died.
His real name was Dick Wilson.
Anyone who grew up in the 1970s, as I did, literally saw him thousands of times. He was a perfect choice for that ad, wasn't he? Godspeed.

Re: NFL picks

Wow--won 10, lost 4, one push yesterday.
Definite improvement! Remember, tonight I picked the Titans...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Speak for yourself

A celeb page, rather excessive in its coverage of celebrities, says Lindsey Lohan's recent shopping excursion was an example of "excess."

They should talk.
And what's the problem--they think Lindsay can't afford it?
I know this is celeb news, people, but think a little bit before you write headlines.

Re: Scandal afoot?

A little more information today on yesterday's item, concerning whether the Clinton campaign has some dirt on Barack Obama.

Note that the Obama campaign is not happy: "If the purpose of this shameless item was to daunt or discourage me or supporters of our campaign from challenging and changing the politics of Washington, it will fail," an Obama campaign statement said. The statement also called on Clinton to respond, saying, "Senator Clinton should either make public any and all information referred to in the item, or concede the truth: that there is none."

(This could actually be a godsend to the Obama campaign, if this whole thing makes Clinton look bad.)

Note how at first the Clinton campaign used a non-denial of Novak's story: "The Clinton campaign responded by saying, "Once again Obama is echoing Republican talking points."

In another story, Clinton's people do deny it: "Clinton spokesman Jay Carson said "we have absolutely no idea what he's talking about. ... We have no contact with Bob Novak; we have no idea what this column is based on." Asked if the campaign had any secret information about Obama, he said, "No. No, we don't."

Which led Obama's spokesman to say: "The Clinton campaign has admitted that they do not possess the scandalous information in question and we take them at their word," he said in a statement. "But what we don't accept is their assertion that this is somehow falling for Republican tricks. This is exactly the kind of smear politics Democrats need to fight back on, regardless of the source or the party. Democrats should know that when Barack Obama is their nominee, he will not allow the Swift boat politics of fear and diversion to prevail in this campaign."

Note one other thing: Robert Novak is a good reporter, who wrote what he did because somebody connected to Clinton told him something.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

NFL Picks: week 11

I was under .500 again last week. Comeback time.
(home team IN CAPS)

Tampa Bay 3 over ATLANTA. PICK: BUCS. Going with that defense, and Jeff Garcia over Leftwich/Harrington.

CINCINNATI 3 over Arizona. PICK: BENGALS. Maybe Cincy with some momentum, finally? Bengals' D forces 6 turnovers last week. Arizona not a great road team.

DETROIT 3 over NY Giants. PICK: LIONS. Lions are unbeaten at home, and unbeaten vs the spread at home.

GREEN BAY 9.5 over Carolina. PICK: PACKERS. This one could be a replay of GB/Minnesota a couple of weeks ago at Lambeau. Remember, the likely Panthers QB: David Carr.

INDIANAPOLIS 14.5 over Kansas City. PICK: CHIEFS. Colts will win. But they have so many injuries; 14 and 1/2 is just too much to give.

MINNESOTA 4.5 over Oakland. PICK: VIKINGS. Oakland just can't score. Minnesota a better team at home.

PHILADELPHIA 9.5 over Miami. PICK: EAGLES. Philly still has playoff life. McNabb and Westbrook fairly healthy. Dolphins having a real down year.

JACKSONVILLE 2.5 over San Diego. PICK: JAGUARS. I'm guessing Garrard will play. Rivers is struggling, especially on the road. Jags defense can gang up on LT.

CLEVELAND 3 over Baltimore. PICK: BROWNS. Boller plays this week for the Ravens. I'm not a Boller believer. I'm becoming a Derek Anderson addict. Remember the Browns' big win over these guys in Cleveland. Browns are 7-2 vs the spread.

New Orleans 1 over HOUSTON. PICK: TEXANS. Both teams hard to figure out. But both Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson to play this week for the Texans. Saints are too inconsistent.

Pittsburgh 9.5 over NEW YORK JETS. PICK: STEELERS. Ben Roethlisberger and Willie Parker are way too tough a matchup for Kellen Clemens and Thomas Jones--even in NY.

DALLAS 11 over Washington. PICK: COWBOYS. I see no reason to believe that the Cowboys and Tony Romo will slack off this week at home--especially vs the Redskins' turtle-like offense.

St. Louis 3 over SAN FRANCISCO. PICK: RAMS. This is a tough one; both teams with bad seasons, both bad against the spread all year, and Niners at home. But Bulger and Stephen Jackson are bad. And the Niners have looked SO bad.

SEATTLE 5 over Chicago. PICK: SEAHAWKS. It's simple--with both Alexander and Benson dinged, it will come down to Grossman vs Hasselbeck. Is anyone a Grossman believer--on the road, no less????

New England 15.5 over BUFFALO. PICK: PATRIOTS. I respect Buffalo, but how can you pick against the Pats? The only thing that kept the Bills in it vs the Cowboys was Romo's INTs--I don't see that happening here.

DENVER 2 over Tennessee. PICK: TITANS. They've won on the road before. I'm still not a Cutler believer. Vince Young is due for a good game. LenDale White can exploit the Broncos' run-D weakness.

Scandal afoot?

From Ann Althouse today: "Robert Novak tells us: 'Agents of Sen. Hillary Clinton are spreading the word in Democratic circles that she has scandalous information about her principal opponent for the party's presidential nomination, Sen. Barack Obama, but has decided not to use it. The nature of the alleged scandal was not disclosed.She's decided not to use it? Seems to me this is using it.' This word-of-mouth among Democrats makes Obama look vulnerable and Clinton look prudent. Prudent... devious... pick your adjective."

I choose devious.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Campus free speech update

There's been a big victory over San Francisco State University--a court has ordered it not to enforce its speech codes. Here's the genesis of the whole thing: "The lawsuit—brought by the SFSU College Republicans and two of the group’s members—came after the SFSU College Republicans were put on trial by a campus tribunal for stepping on makeshift Hamas and Hezbollah flags as part of an anti-terrorism rally they held in October 2006. Despite having the power to dismiss the charges at any time, SFSU dragged the plaintiffs through a five-month investigation and hearing before ultimately clearing the group of baseless “harassment” charges. The plaintiffs’ lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, asks the court to hold SFSU accountable for unlawfully mistreating the plaintiffs on the basis of their constitutionally protected expression and to strike down several unconstitutional speech codes at SFSU and in the CSU System."

What's especially unbelievable here is that undoubtedly the same persons who sought to prosecute campus Republicans for stepping on Hamas and Hezbollah flags...

...would gladly defend the right to burn a U.S. flag. Hypocrites.

Overdosing on obesity

Meaning: some of the hysteria about the so-called "epidemic" of obesity in America needs to be dialed down. So writes the irreplaceable Jacob Sullum today, an expert on many of these health/culture issues. He notes, for example: "At 5 feet, 9 inches tall and 175 pounds, I have a body mass index of 25.9, which makes me “overweight.” If I lost seven pounds, I'd have a BMI of 24.9, indicating what the government considers a “normal,” “healthy” weight.
Yet, that weight is not normal since two-thirds of American adults exceed it. And judging from the latest research, it is not necessarily healthy, either. According to a study recently published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, people in the government-recommended BMI range of 18.5 to 24.9 are more likely to die from a variety of diseases than people with BMIs of 25 to 30."

Other researchers confirm this: "Looking at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Miss Flegal and her colleagues found that people who qualified as “obese” (with BMIs of 30 or more) did indeed have a higher mortality rate than people in the “normal” range, as did those considered “underweight.” But people who were merely “overweight” had the lowest mortality rate of all."

Whoops! So what does this mean? "Although being merely “overweight” was associated with a higher death rate from diabetes and kidney disease, it “was not associated with mortality from cancer or cardiovascular disease.” And since overweight people were significantly less likely to die from other causes, “the net result was that overweight was associated with significantly decreased all-cause mortality.”...Standing alone, these data do not prove that plumpness is healthy or that thinness kills. But they do cast doubt on some of the more alarmist predictions made by “obesity epidemic” doomsayers."

Better reviews

That's what Senator Clinton received in the wake of last night's Democratic presidential debate in Nevada. It's not surprising---the media wanted a new story (not the same old Hillary's-in-trouble line of the past couple of weeks). Clinton isn't stupid; she was much better prepared, and came out on the offense against her rivals, which always plays better when judging debates.

Here's an example of the media debate review: "Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton last night retaliated against her two main challengers for the first time — saying neither has taken bold stances on the issues. Mrs. Clinton, of New York, said in last night's CNN debate that she is the most tested presidential candidate who can beat Republicans, and sharply criticized Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina."

But also note this: "The debate included at times angry exchanges among the three major candidates, with the Democrats speaking over each other and appearing clearly frustrated."

But that just makes it more fun and interesting.

Re: Republipandericans

A little more on Republican presidential candidates and the Spanish-language Univision debate:
e-mailer Dan points also to this blog post from Lawrence Auster which gets at the important principle behind the controversy--and it's a very good point
But the fact that Thompson, Romney, Hunter, McCain, and Paul and have all consented to be in this Spanish language debate is shocking. By participating in it they are declaring that people can participate fully in American politics and American society without recourse to the English language. They are saying that Spanish is a legitimate language for the conduct of our nation's business They are saying that it is not necessary for immigrants and their descendants to learn English. They are really saying that there is no country here, there is only a collection of immigrant groups, and that whichever immigrant group is the most numerous, their culture and language shall become the language and culture of the United States.

Poll watch

Interesting--Rudy Giuliani has taken a slight lead in the Michigan GOP primary--28% for Rudy, 25% for Mitt Romney.

This is noteworthy because Romney has led in the polls in Michigan for some time. Romney has Michigan ties--his father was once Michigan's governor. This is not good news for the Romney camp.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Huckabee be risin' in the polls

Especially in Iowa. And this particular poll has been pretty consistent in detailing his rise.
Indeed, among likely voters, this poll has Huckabee LEADING in Iowa.
The biggest loser, if Huckabee wins Iowa? Romney, hands down.
Wow. Stay tuned.


An e-mailer, my friend Dan, sends me a link to this blog entry: "Well, there’s leadership for you. On September 9th, the Democrats held a bilingual Panderfest hosted by Univision. Now, nearly all the Republican candidates have cravenly agreed to do the same. Yes, that’s right, according to the Miami Herald and Washington Times, 7 candidates–Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, John McCain, Duncan Hunter and Ron Paul have agreed to further balkanize our country by pandering to Univision, on December 9th. Shame on all 7 of them.
Tom Tancredo, however, refuses to participate. Good for Tom. At least one candidate understands what’s going on."

Well, I tend to agree. I'm not quite as outraged as is the blogger--unfortunately, this kind of pandering is what politicians as a class tend to do, and too often Republicans are afraid to challenge reigning political correctness (after all, the NY Times might criticize them. Horrors!)

I suppose it's possible that Republicans could pick up a few votes among the folks likely to watch a debate on Univision. But I doubt it. And that may be the most important problem with this--it's probably a waste of time, and no politicians, especially Republicans in the challenging political year of '08, can afford to waste time.

Speaking of the possibility of driver's licenses for illegals... what does the nation of Mexico do? If one is not a Mexican citizen and doesn't have a valid visa, can one get a driver's license there? Answer--nope: "All of Mexico's 31 states require foreign residents to hold a valid visa if they want a Mexican license, according to a survey published Thursday in The Arizona Republic...."When it comes to foreigners, we're a little more strict here," Alejandro Ruíz, director of education at the Mexican Automobile Association, told the newspaper."

And yet Mexico's become angry, and denounce the United States, when our government attempts to be a little "strict" with illegal immigrants. The next time they talk, President Bush might just remind Mexico's president of this.

More bad news for Senator Clinton's campaign

More questionable donors.
More of those "Well, it's technically not illegal, but it looks improper" things.
The Clintons specialize in those:

"Three recipients of controversial 11th-hour pardons issued by former President Bill Clinton in January 2001 have donated thousands of dollars to the presidential campaign of his wife, Democratic front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., according to campaign finance records examined by ABC News, in what some good government groups said created an appearance of impropriety. "It's not illegal," Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told ABC News. "But, of course, it's inappropriate and she should return the money. It does raise the appearance that this is payback. "One can only hope that she wasn't yet aware of who made the donations," said Sloan.

More proof that, when a campaign hits a rough patch, it lasts a while.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Return of the hippie rads

Antiwar protesters in the state of Washington pour concrete on railroad tracks (among other things) to block military shipments.

Reminds me of the antiwar movement during the Vietnam era, when protestors would block the streets around army bases, pour animal blood on military records, etc. It doesn't worry me too much. That kind of stuff hurt the antiwar movement big time with middle America back then (that's why there was never any President McGovern). It will again.

Putting casualties in context

No one wants to see any Americans die in war.
But we know it can happen; and it's fair to examine those who have claimed that casualties in a war are too high and excessive. (most agree that sometimes, in a just cause or when our national security is threatened, casualties can be justified. The question is when this is.) Take Iraq for example: "More active members of the military died during two years of peacetime in the early 1980s than died during a two-year period of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a government report. The Congressional Research Service, which compiled war casualty statistics from the Revolutionary War to present day conflicts, reported that 4,699 members of the U.S. military died in 1981 and '82 — a period when the U.S. had only limited troop deployments to conflicts in the Mideast. That number of deaths is nearly 900 more than the 3,800 deaths during 2005 and '06, when the U.S. was fully committed to large-scale military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan."

That puts the war, and the losses we've suffered in it, into more context.
You'd never know the above from reading some of the hysterical media coverage of it.

NY says no to DLs for IIs

Governor Spitzer drops his plan to make driver's licenses available for illegal immigrants--he says there was too much opposition to it.

In a larger context, what does this tell us? That among American voters, feelings on this issue run high. Idea for Republican candidates in 2008: you know where you and your party stand on this isssue. Don't be afraid about saying so. But have positive solutions.

AND--force the Democrats to say where THEY stand on this whole issue. What are their solutions? Might make them uncomfortable. See Hillary Clinton, October 30th.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gay-bashing Rudy Giuliani

Even Andrew Sullivan, for goodness sake.
And Rudy isn't even gay--he was just trying to be funny.
Can you imagine the raging on the left if Republicans attacked a Democratic candidate along these lines?

Democrats as morality cops?

Is the governor of Massachusetts trying to criminalize online gambling?
"The Boston Globe reports that Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is trying to sneak a provision to criminalize online gambling. The bill, if passed, would make online gambling punishable by up to 2 years in prison and $25k in fines."

It would be a bad idea, no matter whether it was a Republican or Democrat trying to do it.
If this happens, Republicans and conservatives need to remember their libertarian side and oppose it with everything they've got.

Why fans of Senator Clinton hate Tim Russert

And they've been very hostile to him since October 30th. Because, you see, he was the moderator who asked some tough questions of Senator Clinton, and her failure to answer them well got her in trouble. Does that explain the hostility? Well, not fully, explains Jonah Goldberg on The Corner today, and I think he's right: "I also think — and this will be denied up and down by liberals — that they hate Russert because they believe the press should be liberal and favorably partisan toward Democrats and they get furious when Russert — or anyone else — won't play the game the way they want. Republicans know the press in general and Russert in particular will be hostile to them. Democrats are still surprised when, on rare occassions, they get similar treatment."

And of course, to them, expected media liberalism isn't bias. It's just, well, what they expect, without even thinking about it.

Fans of bobblehead dolls, and of Franklin Pierce, our 14th president...

...getcher bobblehead doll, get 'em right here...

Pierce is either spinning madly in his grave, or--more likely--is just glad that somebody, anybody, remembers him.

Some historians claim he, due to intense grief over the death of his young son, spent much of his presidency in an alcoholic haze. So a bobbling head might just fit him quite well.

Sexed up

A report today indicates that certain sexually-transmitted diseases are at an all-time high.
Gosh, how could that be, given that for years public schools have been handing out condoms and providing explicit sex education (with abstinence not necessarily a part of it).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Today's good news from Iraq

Rocket and mortar attacks are down, too.
Persistence pays off.

Terrorist babes of the month

The cutest South American revolutionaries to be found anywhere.
Mao is either spinning in his grave, or nodding approvingly (perhaps reciting Lenin's line about capitalists selling you the rope with which to hang them.)

Does America stink?

"Could the demand for domestic air scrubbers be a small piece of evidence that harried working women are sweeping the stench under the air freshener rug?"

I know, it's something completely different. But there are a LOT of air freshener ads on TV. Think about it.

Hillary's mojo still a no-go

There's still fallout from her non-answers at the October 30th debate.
Now news is that her lead in New Hampshire is falling, and her campaign has been "planting" friendly questioners at her town hall meetings.
Historically, in politics, nearly every candidacy has to weather a crisis. See for example Dwight Eisenhower and the tempest over whether his vice-presidential candidate, Richard Nixon, had a "scret fund." Ike and Nixon survived that.
Gary Hart on the other hand didn't survive the Donna Rice scandal.

Will Hillary survive this?
Her problem I think is that her wounds of the last two weeks are self-inflicted, and fit very well the negative narrative her opponents have established for her.

Re: NFL picks

Back to my old ways, won 4, lost 7, one push.
Have I mentioned that picking against the spread is hard?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

NFL Picks: week 10

Here we go---I was 8-5-1 last week vs the spread.

GREEN BAY 6 over Minnesota. PICK: PACKERS. They're very good against the spread, they're at home, they're tough against the run. Don't forget the Vikings' shakiness at QB.

TENNESSEE 4 over Jacksonville. PICK: TITANS. They're at home, and to me Garrard's injuries and the question as to whether he'll start are key here.

KANSAS CITY 3 over Denver. PICK: CHIEFS. Cutler's status is questionable. Without him last week, the Broncos were horrible. With him they haven't been a whole lot better.

Buffalo 3 over MIAMI. PICK: BILLS. They're 6-2 vs the spread, is Buffalo; they have a history of playing well in Miami. The Dolphins so badly struggle to score.

NEW ORLEANS 11 over St. Louis. PICK: RAMS. Not to win; but to keep it under 11. That's a lot of points, and Bulger can keep the game closer by passing vs the Saints secondary.

PITTSBURGH 10 over Cleveland. PICK: STEELERS. Always go with the Steelers at home; for the most part they're a dominant home team.

WASHINGTON 3 over Philadelphia. PICK: REDSKINS. Eagles looked bad at home vs the Cowboys. The Redskins have been a solid home team, and can run the ball.

BALTIMORE 3.5 over Cincinnati. PICK: RAVENS. The Bengals are in disarray. The Ravens were terrible vs the Steelers, but they're at home, with much to play for, and they can get well vs the Bengals' D.

Chicago 3.5 over OAKLAND. PICK: BEARS. The Bears' defense will shut down Oakland's questionable offense. The Bears need this game.

Dallas 1.5 over NY GIANTS. Pick: COWBOYS. They'll outscore them again.

Detroit 1.5 over ARIZONA. PICK: LIONS. I'm officially on the Lions bandwagon.

Indianapolis 3.5 over SAN DIEGO. PICK: COLTS. They will show their character and bounce back.

SEATTLE 9.5 over San Francisco. PICK: SEAHAWKS. They're at home, and the Niners have not impressed.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Not a great way to win anyone's sympathy dept

Her lawyers want some sympathy for Britney Spears: "Britney Spears is a pop star, and you're not. That was the fallback position of Spears' camp during the latest custody hearing Thursday regarding the, well, pop star's two sons. Spears attorney Anne Kiley told the court that the, yes, pop star has failed to heed every call to the drug-test lab because she is a, yes, "pop star," who thusly is often out late at night, and frequently asleep when the drug-test lab rings in the morning. Additionally, Kiley said, Spears' pop-star stature requires her to frequently change phone numbers in order to make it harder for fans to track her down. The downside is that Spears' game of musical numbers also makes it harder for the drug lab to track her down."

Such a hard life!

An Iwo Jima moment?

"Now a moment of ecumenical unity in a land savaged by sectarian strife may symbolize the progress and hope that lies within Iraq."

Is Giuliani a conservative dept

So a lot of conservatives say, when it comes to Rudy Giuliani promising to appoint strict constructionist judges or to secure our borders, that they just don't believe him. Rudy had an interesting answer to that in a recent interview with NRO's Byron York:
"I don't understand why," Giuliani told me. "Because look, if I was going to try to fool them, I would just change my positions. I would just fool them, right? I'm not suggesting anybody else has done that. So I think people should have the sense that I'm straight with them. And if they just look at my history and background, who do they think I'm going to appoint? All of my friends, all of the people I've associated with, all the people I respect, the vast majority of them would fall into the category of conservative thinkers, conservative lawyers, and strict constructionist judges."

Too much blame going around

So for three years now, rates of cigarette smoking in the United States have not declined. Horrors! Guess who some activists blame: "Other anti-tobacco advocates said they think the Bush administration has not treated tobacco control as a priority and has not highlighted or promoted the issue. The smoking rates reflected that approach in part, they said. William Corr, executive director of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said the administration has been "AWOL regarding tobacco control -- doing little or nothing." He called it "inexcusable that elected leaders have not done more given the overwhelming scientific evidence of what works to reduce tobacco use among both children and adults."

Hmmm. There are already huge taxes on cigarettes. Among young people, the anti-smoking message is everywhere. The same message is on TV and other media. Many cities are prohibiting smoking in public places. There's a direct warning about the danger to your health on every cigarette pack. Yet some wish to claim that not enough is being done??? Please.

I suspect some young people smoke precisely BECAUSE of all the endless drumbeating against it. They enjoy being rebels. Ramping up the anti-smoking campaign even louder may backfire. But I doubt the anti-tobacco zealots could ever bring themselves to even countenance such a apossibility.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Robertson endorses Rudy

Giving Mayor Giuliani yet more street cred among social conservatives.
Robertson: "I thought it was important for me to make it clear that Rudy Giuliani is more than acceptable to people of faith," said Robertson. "Given the fractured nature of the process, I thought it was time to solidify around one candidate." He insisted that while some on the "fringe" of the social conservative movement may see Giuliani as an unacceptable nominee, the "core know better." Robertson said although he and Giuliani disagree on social issues, those disagreements "pale into insignificance" when measured against the import of the fight against global terrorism and radical Islam. "We need a man who sees clearly how to deal with that issue," said Robertson."

Continued Dem debate fallout

Senator Clinton's lead in New Hampshire, in a new poll, shrinks to 10 pts (it was 16).
Her approval rating among New Hampshire voters falls 9 points.
And I note the text of the report matter-of-factly refers to answer on driver's licenses at the debate as a "gaffe."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

By the way...

...I was 8-5-1 last week on my NFL picks.
Not bad!
A winning week!!
Stay tuned for next week...

One explanation of the decline in violence in Iraq

Democratic Representative David Obey says it's because bloodthirsty Americans are "running out of people to kill."

There is indeed a good response to that argument:

"“Running out of people to kill” is also called victory. V-I-C-T-O-R-Y."

I doubt Mr. Obey will get it.

Continued Dem debate fallout

I'm seeing this a lot today (the previous link was one example):
That is: 1] That now that Senator Clinton has said she agrees with Gov. Spitzer on a program allowing illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses, polls show that 77% oppose such a program; and 2] astonishment at the near-hysteria with which Senator Clinton's campaign and defenders have greeted criticism she's received on this and her debate answer on it. Quote: "Hillary completely stepped in it on this issue. That's why Bill Clinton has to contend that the question to Hillary was akin to the Swift Boat Vets for Truth ads, Eleanor Smeal has to compare Hillary to Anita Hill, and contributors to The New Republic have to contend that Tim Russert is akin to Nazis. It's "all hands on deck" to change the narrative."

And the above is from someone who thought at first she'd won the debate.

Raised expectations for Ron?

So Ron Paul raised over $4 million yesterday. Are some Republicans now trying to raise the bar for him? Reports Fox's Carl Cameron: "In New Hampshire, GOP officials marvel at Ron Paul’s organization in the Granite State and his ability to raise money. These officials say they would not be suprised at all if Ron Paul took 3rd or 4th in the primary and meant the death knell for at least one top tier candidate. It speaks to the power of independents in NH; Bush beat McCain in 2000 among republicans but Indies put McCain over the top."

Monday, November 5, 2007

Today's good news from Iraq

Yes, Virginia, the violence is definitely down: "During a five-day stretch between October 19 and 23, there were no deaths among coalition forces. Although three US servicemen died from "non-hostile causes", this was the longest period without combat deaths for almost four years. And, between October 27 and 29, there were more days without coalition deaths.
Such statistics do not take account of deaths among the Iraqi security forces or civilians. But Iraqis, too, have had days when no one in their ranks has died. On October 13, for instance, neither the coalition nor the Iraqi military suffered any deaths. But one Iraqi policeman was killed, along with four reported civilian deaths in Baghdad."

A tough season

...when it comes to winning games, and the Notre Dame football team's fans aren't much at predictions, either: "If the Midshipmen needed to be reminded of their 43-game losing streak to the Fighting Irish, the longest drought against one opponent in NCAA history, they got it when their team buses stopped at a toll booth outside South Bend, Ind., only hours before the game at Notre Dame Stadium. A Fighting Irish fan in a car next to the buses rolled down his window and taunted the Midshipmen. "This car pulled up beside us and this guy was hanging out the window, yelling, "Forty-four in a row! Forty-four in a row!" Johnson said. "I just started laughing. It was a grown man falling out of his window."

Fundamental: fans of teams with 1 win and 7 losses shouldn't be doing much taunting.
It's gonna come back to bite you.

No pall over Paul today

Ron Paul is having a big one-day fundraising drive today, and it's netting him some $$$.
How did I know this? Well, it's part of the blogosphere buzz today.
One question though, the answer to which nobody's had today:
What's the money going to mean in votes?
Until somebody shows me different, my guess is: not much.

Continuing Dem debate fallout: Hillary slipping?

So far, not much, but maybe just a bit. Quote: "I know the early sense is that the debate answer on driver's licenses hasn't hurt Hillary Clinton yet. But I note Rasmussen has her at 41 percent in his daily tracking poll. It's bounced around a bit, but she was as high as 47 percent on the 25th of October. But I notice that compared to the last Washington Post poll finished Sept. 30, Hillary is down four and Obama is up six. Maybe that did move the needle a bit."

Yesterday, when we were young...

But in this case, it wasn't just yesterday. Wild headline in that one, hmmm? Cheerleading coach and cheerleader pose an assistant football coach's house...both the cheer coach and assistant football coach fired. How could they be so stupid?, you wonder.
But read closer. Both coaches were only 19 years old.
Schools need to be much more careful when hiring such young people.
How many of us remember doing dumb things at 19???

Sunday, November 4, 2007

76 trombones for the big [hate] parade...

Did you all know that, every year on this date, the Iranian government stages a parade?
A parade, that is, which features Iranian children, but which is staged to, ahem, commemorate...the taking of 52 innocent American diplomats as hostages. It was an illegal act, against all norms of international law. They were held for 444 days. It made Iran an international pariah.

And they have their children celebrate it.

Senator Clinton: it depends on what the definition of "withholding" is

Is Senator Clinton "withholding" most of her important White House First Lady papers until 2012? Her opponents say she is. It sure looks like she is. But her campaign has a different spin. What is it? "Three Iowa supporters of another candidate, Senator Barack Obama, of Illinois, sent Mrs. Clinton, of New York, a letter Saturday, urging that she expedite the release of documents, to “be as open as possible with the American people.” In a 2002 letter from Mr. Clinton to the National Archives, which controls his papers, Mr. Clinton wrote that documents including communication between the two Clintons “should generally be considered for withholding” until 2012. Experts on presidential papers, as well as advisers to Mrs. Clinton, say that “withholding” in that context did not mean the papers would be kept under wraps indefinitely. Rather, the word is a legal term in the Presidential Records Act requesting that the papers be subjected to review. The advisers emphasized that the papers involving the couple would likely be released once they were reviewed. In interviews recently, lawyers and experts on presidential papers said it was not unusual for a president to want a close review of documents that might have personal or political dimensions."

My take? Don't get sucked in by this argument. Yes, technically (and the Clintons love to make arguments like this) "withholding" papers doesn't mean they'll be closed off to the public forever. It means they have to be reviewed before being released. But make no mistake: it takes a long time to review millions of papers. It can take years. The Clintons knew that, and know that, and Bill Clinton had to know that when he wrote his 2002 paper asking that the First Lady's papers be withheld and, thus, reviewed.

This is Clinton campaign spin, trying to befog the truth.

Surprise! John Edwards makes sense

On why his criticisms of Hillary Clinton won't hurt him among women voters: First of all, I have more respect for female voters than that," Edwards said. "I think women voters in this country are strong and smart, and they will look at every one of us and say, 'Who will make the best president of the United States for myself and for my family?' I think that's how they'll judge us."

Saturday, November 3, 2007

NFL Picks: week 9

Only 5-8 last week. Ugh! Time for a comeback this week. Here we go!
(home team in ALL CAPS)

ATLANTA 3 over San Francisco. PICK: FALCONS. Despite their poor record, the Falcons are 4-3 vs the spread. And they're at home, while the 49ers are reeling.

BUFFALO 1 over Cincinnati. PICK: BILLS. They're 4-0 vs the spread at home; and I'm off the Bengals bandwagon--they're play has been consistently poor.

DETROIT 3 over Denver. PICK: LIONS. I may regret. But--the Broncos are only 1-6 against the spread this year; and they can't stop the run. Meanwhile the Lions' Kevin Jones is coming on strong.

TENNESSEE 4 over Carolina. PICK: TITANS. A little shaky. The Panthers are actually 4-0 vs the spread on the road. But: Carolina has QB problems. And Tennessee is developing a powerful RB in LenDale White.

Green Bay 2 over KANSAS CITY. PICK: CHIEFS. The Pack ran the ball better last week, but Denver's run D is porous. Not so with KC. Green Bay's barely been getting by. I suspect this week, on the road, and don't forget the short week given the Monday night game, their luck runs out vs a KC team that's been quietly improving.

San Diego 7 over MINNESOTA. Pick: CHARGERS. San Diego has righted the ship. Minnesota's got uncertainty at QB. Spells trouble.

NEW ORLEANS 3 over Jacksonville. PICK: SAINTS. This is more or less a gut/momentum pick--Saints have won 3 straight and are at home. And I think the Jags' uncertainties at QB are bound to bite them sometime.

Washington 3.5 over NY JETS. Pick: REDSKINS. I think the Jets new QB Kellen Clemens will give the Jets a spark and keep this game close. But Washington will win by a TD.

TAMPA BAY 3.5 over Arizona. PICK: BUCS. I can't see the Bucs losing 2 straight at home with that defense (and they would have beaten the Jags last week had it not been for turnovers). Arizona not a great road team.

CLEVELAND 1.5 over Seattle. PICK: BROWNS. They've been very good at home, including vs the spread; Derek Anderson has impressed. Seattle meanwhile has been uneven, especially on the road.

New England 5.5 over INDIANAPOLIS. PICK: PATRIOTS. Huge game of course. But how can you pick against the Pats? They're 8-0 against the spread. The Colts will give them a tough go. But New England to win by 7.

OAKLAND 3 over Houston. PICK: RAIDERS. They're at home; Matt Schaub is out, Sage Rosenfels in for the Texans. Which will probably spell key turnovers which will help spur a Raider win.

Dallas 3 over PHILADELPHIA. PICK: COWBOYS. So many distractions for Philly, what with Coach Reid's situation; and Dallas has a lot of weapons.

PITTSBURGH 9 over Baltimore. PICK: RAVENS. Not to win the game, but to keep it close. It's a tough divisional rivalry, and Steve McNair will play for the Ravens. Steelers to win, but only by a TD or less.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Re-education in Delaware dorms

Many have heard now of the recent dust-up at the University of Delaware, concerning a political sensitivity/political correctness/re-education program being run in the school's dorms through the RAs. What's especially instructive, though, is to look at some of the specifics of the program (which has now thankfully been ended): "Under the program, students were required to attend training sessions, floor meetings, and “one-on-one” meetings with their Resident Assistants (RAs). The university also instructed RAs to ask intrusive personal questions during one-on-one sessions, including “When did you discover your sexual identity?” A student who responded, “That is none of your damn business,” was, according to the university’s own materials, written up—along with the student’s name and room number—as having one of the “wors[t] one-on-one” sessions. The program’s materials stated that the goal of the residence life education program was for students in the university’s residence halls to achieve certain “competencies” that the university decreed its students must develop in order to achieve the overall educational goal of “citizenship.” These “competencies” included: “Students will recognize that systemic oppression exists in our society,” “Students will recognize the benefits of dismantling systems of oppression,” and “Students will be able to utilize their knowledge of sustainability to change their daily habits and consumer mentality.” And in the Office of Residence Life’s internal materials, the program was described using the harrowing language of ideological reeducation, including referring to the program as “treatment” and defining “learning” as “specific attitudinal or behavioral changes.”

It's hard to believe that those who instituted the program couldn't see how political it obviously was, and how objectionable it could easily become. Kudos to FIRE for bringing it to peoples' attention.

Yet more Dem debate fallout for Senator Clinton

John Edwards uses debate footage for a very tough anti-Clinton ad. See it for yourself.
And I agree with NRO's Jim Geraghty: "My hat is off to Team Edwards. This is the toughest, most effective web ad I've seen this campaign so far. Somehow it manages to be simultaneously brutal and fair, contrasting Hillary's own words with herself, often only seconds apart."

Continued Dem debate fallout

I contend that Senator Clinton lost that Democratic debate of earlier this week. Today, she continues to take a pounding--not merely for her performance in the debate, but now for her campaign's post-debate spin. Good roundup here--some choice quotes:
A moment of silence, please, for Invincible Hillary. She left us at 11 am ET yesterday, in Wellesley, Mass., a victim of her own hand. She was 10 months old. She is survived by Victim Hillary. "In so many ways this all women's college prepared me to compete in the all-boys club of presidential politics," Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., said yesterday at her alma mater, Wellesley College....

"Clinton essentially hid behind her pantsuit in response to a public shellacking," AP's Ron Fournier writes in his "On Deadline" column, noting that Clinton "is no stranger to 'piling on' " herself in playing the aggressor in political combat..."

"But Clinton's candidacy has always been about far more than being the first woman to launch a viable presidential candidacy. She's wanted us to view her as tougher than the other candidates in the race, the candidate equipped to handle the challenges of the job on Day One. She's been the candidate who's ready to "deck" her critics (and remember who dealt the first blow after Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said he'd meet with leaders of rogue nations?)."

Obama this morning, on the "Today" show: "I am assuming and I hope that Sen. Clinton wants to be treated like everybody else. And I think that that's why she is running for president. You know, when we had a debate in Iowa a while back, we spent the first 15 minutes of the debate hitting me on various foreign policy issues. And I didn't come out and say 'look, I'm being hit on because I look different from the rest of the folks on the stage.' . . . We're not running for the president of the city council. We're running for the president of the United States of America."

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus isn't buying it. "Those other guys were beating up on Clinton, if you can call that beating up, because she is the strong front-runner, not because she is a weak woman. And a candidate as strong as Clinton doesn't need to play the woman-as-victim card," Marcus writes. "Using gender this way is a setback. Hillary Clinton is woman enough to take these attacks like a man."

"here is such a thing as protesting too much. Lashing out at her critics "contradicts a central part of Clinton's own message: The notion that she is a battle-tested veteran ready for anything the Republicans can throw at her," Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh writes. "If so, she should prove it by engaging with her rivals and defending her positions -- not by having her campaign protest each and every time another Democrat says something critical about her."

Thursday, November 1, 2007

More good news for X-Files fans

They're going to make an X-Files movie.
David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson will be in it.
Chris Carter will write it.
They hope to have it out in June 2008.
Happy day!
The truth is out there.

Finding comparisons, finding connections

So the Washington Post today has a bit of an expose out on some memos, written during W's administration by Donald Rumsfeld. Okay, but---think a minute. Remember when Hillary was first lady? "Let me see if I have this straight, we can get the memos of a defense secretary in a time of war before the administration he worked for is even out of office, but we cannot get the memos of the first lady 7 years after her administration is over?"