Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Because it wouldn't be Halloween....

...without a sequel. As always, these things are not for the squeamish.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Embeds Revisited

Via Instapundit I've seen some more stories regarding the information war in Iraq. A few days ago I wrote a post discussing this topic in the context of a discussion at Done with Mirrors. A large part of that post concerned this piece by Michael Yon. Yon contends that the military has made the process for reporters to embed in specific military units in Iraq so difficult that it amounts to effective censorship.

Today the Instapundit linked to this piece by Michael Fumento. Fumento is now on his third embed inside Iraq, so he writes with some knowledge of the situation. Fumento lambasts the media establishment that reports on Iraq from their hotels in Baghdad. He goes on to fisk those accounts of the dangers of Baghdad for the average reporter. It's pretty powerful stuff.

He gives credit where credit is due, however.

One way the Baghdad press corps and its allies try to steal valor is to invoke the incredibly large number of reporters killed in the war: It's true that over 100 journalists or media assistants have been killed. Yet, with the sole exception of Steven Vincent, the only American journalists killed or even seriously injured by hostile action in Iraq have been embeds. (And even Vincent had been an embed, just not at the time of his death.) Atlantic Monthly editor-at-large Michael Kelly (an editor of mine) drowned after his Humvee rolled into a Baghdad canal during the invasion. NBC reporter David Bloom died of a pulmonary embolism from being cramped in a Humvee, also during the invasion. Both were embedded with the 3rd Infantry Division.

CBS News cameraman Paul Douglas and freelance soundman James Brolan were blown up by an improvised explosive device (IED) while accompanying CBS correspondent Kimberly Dozier, herself critically injured. They were embedded with the 4th Infantry Division. So were ABC anchorman Bob Woodruff and his cameraman, who were critically injured by an IED. Time correspondent Michael Weisskopf had his hand blown off trying to toss a grenade out of his Humvee when he was embedded with the 1st Armored Division. These, not the hotel-bound credit-claimers, are the journalist-heroes of the Iraq War.
But this made me wonder about the Yon piece again. Upon re-reading Yon's article, the only non-independent embed request that gets turned down is for a photographer from the VFW magazine. But Fumento's article includes this bit:

What leads the embeds into the most dangerous parts of Iraq is the glaring gap between the reality of the war and the virtuality emanating from the hotels of the IZ. One of them made this point quite forcefully in a recent column. Jerry Newberry, communications director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and a Vietnam Army vet, wrote in a September column just before heading off for Afghanistan and then Iraq: "For the most part, the wars being fought by our people in Afghanistan and Iraq - their successes, heroism, and valor - [are] reported by some overpaid, makeup-wearing talking heads, sitting on their fat rear-ends in an air-conditioned hotel. They rely on Iraqi stringers to bring the stuff to them and then call it reporting."
So what gives? Michael Yon's dedication to both reporting and to the US war effort are beyond question. I don't know as much about Fumento, but there is no reason to doubt what he's saying either. So why has one VFW affiliated embed been approved and another turned down? The man who was turned down was Walt Gaya, Iraq II combat verteran turned photographer. Gaya suffered injuries to his left eye during a patrol in Mosul. According to an AP article which Michael Yon links to:

On a routine patrol last July in Mosul, with his trusty Leica camera wedged among the gear in his backpack, a roadside bomb ripped open the hull of Gaya's Stryker combat vehicle, wounding all nine men inside.

Gaya felt his leg throbbing as he helped the others escape the 19-ton vehicle. Shrapnel had torn through his leg and shredded a knee ligament. Then he felt a sharp pain in his left eye. His vision began to blur....

After the explosion, doctors stitched up Gaya's left eye, which had been pierced by a bomb fragment. He was fortunate, they told him, that his eye had not lost all its internal fluid, which likely would have led to its permanent collapse.

But the vision remains impaired -- he can only make out shapes and light and billboard-size letters, he said. At this point, Gaya is considering a cornea transplant.

[It's unclear when this article was written, but it appears to have been filed sometime in the latter half of 2005. That seems likely after having read Yon's May 30, 2006 article about Gaya.]
I haven't found anything further indicating that Gaya's vision has improved. I'm wondering if that may have been a reason that Gaya's embed requests were denied, despite having separate requests from the 4th Infantry Division to embed with them and from Brig. General Dana Pittard to embed with military training teams. This wouldn't make it a GOOD reason, as the units and soldiers involved would know what about Gaya's impairment and whether that would be a serious issue, as would Gaya himself.

But assuming that Gaya was denied an embed because of possible physical impairment and Yon was denied because he's not recognized as mainstream media still leaves questions. Is the military blocking embeds from all sources? Or is the military ignoring the 'small fry' and only permitting recognized news media to embed journalists? If the latter, are those media trying to embed reporters, or are they happy to leave their people sitting in the International Zone in Baghdad and get reports from stringers and insurgents?

This scenario outlined in that last question seems to be the hypothesis that Fumento believes, but is that accurate?

According to a link Yon provides to a story by AP datelined October 16, 2006:

The number of embedded journalists reporting alongside U.S. troops in Iraq has dropped to its lowest level -- 11.

During the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, more than 600 reporters, TV crews and photographers linked up with U.S. and British units....

Some journalists blame the decline on Pentagon bureaucracy, the reporting restrictions journalists face, and pressure by some commanders to avoid ''negative'' coverage. Journalists and U.S. military officers point to declining interest in the long-running story, and the high cost, both in money and danger, of coverage.
Okay, blaming the Pentagon bureaucracy would be Yon's position. Further supporting that contention is Sig Christenson, a journalist with the San Antonio Express-News and president of Military Reporters and Editors, writing in his blog:
But getting to Iraq is the main problem. Almost four years after the Pentagon unveiled the embedding program, there is no clear-cut way to cover the troops in Iraq. I'm an expert on this after having set up embeds for myself and, last year, for photographer Nicole Fruge and reporter Jesse Bogan. There is no simple, one-step process.

You have to send e-mails to the Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad. You have to e-mail local commanders with units you wish to embed with, and they have to accept you. You have to e-mail the Air Force to set up the flights. At some point, you deal directly with someone from the Air Mobility Command, which flies cargo and people into and out of Iraq. This time I also had to e-mail the Air Force Theater Hospital in Balad and Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany so we could do the reporting on a series about military medicine. If I do an embed next year, I'll have to start with a new set of public affairs officers because all the old ones have left Iraq.

I'll also have to get a new CPIC identification card. Been there, done that.

Well, this sounds bad. But how is this situation different than what reporters in the Vietnam war went through, or the Korean war, or WWII? I'm asking because I don't know, but that would provide context for this discussion. Presumably the regulations covering this have changed greatly from war to war. If they have, should we revert to earlier versions of the regulations, or at least use them as a guideline for new regulations? In the comments to that post Donald Sensing, who was "an Army public affairs officer at the Pentagon for three years" states that the process was much smoother during WWII, but doesn't outline details. The Military Reporters & Editors group will be having a conference from Oct 26-28 to discuss ways to make this process smoother. Read Christenson's whole post.

Other factors cited above:

* "[T]he reporting restrictions journalists face, and pressure by some commanders to avoid 'negative' coverage...." This argument doesn't seem all that credible, frankly. Are the restrictions really worse than WWII, when strict censorship was applied?

* "Journalists and U.S. military officers point to declining interest in the long-running story...." What?! Declining interest from whom? According to Gallup (scroll down to bottom of page), "The No. 1 national issue appears to be Iraq, and Gallup's mid-October poll showed continuing acceleration in the public's negative views of how the situation there is going." So I can't believe that it is the public that is losing interest. This sounds like it's the journalists who have lost interest.

* "[A]nd the high cost, both in money and danger, of coverage." So, why is this war more expensive to cover than the Vietnam war was, especially for print journalists? And is that a problem that the media organizations themselves need to solve on their own? (The answer to the first question will heavily influence the answer to the second.)
So all of this still leaves me asking these questions from above:
* Is the military blocking embeds from all sources? Is this due to conscious decision or bureaucratic ineptitude?

* Or is the military ignoring the 'small fry' and only permitting recognized news media to embed journalists?

* If the latter, are those media trying to embed reporters, or are they happy to leave their people sitting in the International Zone in Baghdad and get reports from stringers and insurgents?
The more I look into this situation, the murkier it gets.

Headline on Drudge

The Killers 'offended' by Green Day....

I read that headline last night and didn't bat an eye. Today I realized what a strange world we live. Who would have read that headline 100 years ago without thinking "WHAT?!"

Gore Blogging

And I don't mean Al Gore, either. Over at the other place we've been blogging and commenting on various Adventures ... in Dentistry. It started with my friend Witchwolf giving a brief recounting of a recent trip to the dentist. (He later gives more detail in the comments of another thread. And yes, his handle is a Styxx reference. Life spares no opportunity to aggravate me.) I added my own Tale of Woe yesterday, merrily entitled Golf Ball of Doom. That's been followed by Robzilla's adventure in basketball-related injuries, and Lefty's amusing tale of a dentist perched on his chest and pulling hard. In the comments to these posts we argue about who gets to join the club.

But the creme de la creme hasn't been written yet. Co-blogger Plasmaball has a tale of dental woe that puts the rest of us to shame. He probably won't get around to writing it till the weekend, though.

And do I really need to add that these tales are not for the squeamish?

UPDATE: Bill adds a Neal Stephenson take.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

RESOLVED: Bill Crozier is an Idiot and a Member of the Wack-Job Party

Bill of So Quoted makes an obvious point:

Why limit his potential, I vote for both.
"So let it be written. So let it be done."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

It's About the Perception, Stupid.

On Tuesday, October 17, Callimachus wrote a post entitled Think Ink. He wanted

to explain something about the media and Iraq without reference to the media and Iraq. Instead [I] want to talk about the media and the problem of American cities, specifically mine (because I know that one best).

...

Some people have somehow convinced themselves that the media has no influence on reality. If it had no such influence, there's be no point in protecting it, as our constitution does. Of course the media makes a difference. Imagine if you had someone with a camera and a tape recorder following you around all day. Imagine how many things you'd do, or wouldn't do, and how often you'd do something differently.

It changes reality. And in most cases, that's beneficent to our society and a bulwark of democracy....

So can we at least dispense with the notion that the media changes nothing? It changes reality in more subtle ways, too. It is an unwritten axiom in the media itself. We push, or withhold, or play up, or play down, certain stories based on an awareness of how they are likely to change reality.
Cal then gives some examples of how news coverage has shaped the image of the town in which he lives, and how that coverage has distorted that image. Read the whole post for context. Cal’s point isn’t that there’s necessarily more good news than bad, but that the negative coverage by itself does not give a complete or accurate picture.

In the comments, M. Takhallus starts a bit of a dust up with this:
What I think you overlook Cal, is that the media and the administration is already censoring the negative stories coming out of Iraq.
Cal asks him to back this claim up, which MT doesn’t do very effectively. (Many points are made in that comment thread. I recommend it.)

Today, however, I came across something that backs up this claim. Michael Yon, an independent journalist who has done a lot of embed work in the last couple of years, writes a scathing piece for The Weekly Standard claiming that the military is censoring news in Iraq:
I feel no shame in saying I hope that Afghanistan and Iraq "succeed," whatever that means. For that very reason, it would be a dereliction to remain silent about our military's ineptitude in handling the press. The subject is worthy of a book, but can't wait that long, lest we grow accustomed to a subtle but all too real censorship of the U.S. war effort.

I don't use the word lightly. Censorship is a hand grenade of an accusation, and a writer should be serious before pulling the pin. Indeed, some war-zone censorship for reasons of operational security is obviously desirable and important. No one can complain when Delta Force will not permit an embed. In fact, I have turned down offers to embed with some Special Operations forces because the limitations on what I could write would not be worth the danger and expense. But we can and should complain when authorities willfully limit war reporting. We should do so whether it happens as a matter of policy, or through incompetence or bureaucratic sloth. The result is the same in any case. And once the matter has been brought to the attention of the military and the Pentagon--which I have quietly done--and still the situation is not rectified, it is time for a public accounting.
He calls out someone in particular:
Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson has repeatedly gone on record decrying the lack of press coverage in Iraq, all while alienating the last vestiges of any press willing to spend month after month in combat with American soldiers. Meanwhile, "the most quoted man in Iraq" has become a major media source in his own right. Too bad there is no one else to tell the story of our troops. Too bad the soldiers' families have little idea what they are up to from day to day.

As stated at the outset, many PAO officers are extremely hardworking and dedicated. My dealings with other PAOs, such as USMC Major Jeffrey Pool and Army Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, have been exemplary. But a system that so easily thwarts the work of good men and women is a system in desperate need of an overhaul.
Yon closes with this:
The media do matter. Our troops are naked without them. Our people would probably still be driving down Iraqi roads in unarmored Humvees were it not for the likes of journalist Edward Lee Pitts, who got a National Guardsman to pose the now infamous "hillbilly armor" question to the secretary of defense. Seven days a week I communicate with wounded service members and families of service members killed in action. They ask, "When are you going back?" They long to hear the details--good, bad, or ugly--that bring them closer to their loved ones. Some get impatient and short with me, perhaps not realizing that Lt. Col. Barry Johnson has the final say and doesn't recognize my work or that of Walt Gaya as warranting an embed on his watch. As this magazine goes to press, military sources tell me that Johnson is on his way out of CPIC, and his successor is said to be much better. This may count as good news. But a system so dependent on the whims of a single officer cannot be relied upon.

The media are far from perfect. War reporters, like everyone else, get things wrong. Some of them, unsympathetic to the war aims, undoubtedly try to twist the news. But no coverage at all is even worse. It does a disservice to American soldiers. It is cruel to their families. It leaves the American public in the dark. If we lose the media war, we will lose Iraq, Afghanistan, and the entire "war on terror."

If our military cannot win the easy media battles with writers who are unashamed to say they want to win the war, there is no chance of winning the hearts and minds of Afghans and Iraqis, and both wars will be lost. And some will blame the media. But that will not resurrect the dead.
This is a double-barreled shotgun blast by Yon, and in The Weekly Standard, no less, which can hardly be accused of being against the Iraq War. So there is definitely some support for Takhallus's accusation of censorship, although it looks like this may be as much about bureaucratic incompetence as it is policy. (This issue is yet to be resolved.)

This can’t help but have an effect on the coverage. More Yon:
In a counterinsurgency, the media battlespace is critical. When it comes to mustering public opinion, rallying support, and forcing opponents to shift tactics and timetables to better suit the home team, our terrorist enemies are destroying us. Al Qaeda's media arm is called al Sahab: the cloud. It feels more like a hurricane. While our enemies have "journalists" crawling all over battlefields to chronicle their successes and our failures, we have an "embed" media system that is so ineptly managed that earlier this fall there were only 9 reporters embedded with 150,000 American troops in Iraq. There were about 770 during the initial invasion.
A week or so earlier, Cal had run a series of posts by a friend of his had been a contractor in Iraq. These posts outlined her security situation, and made it clear that the media could get out and do more reporting around Iraq than they do currently. But if the American news media does not have the opportunity to embed with US forces, we shouldn’t be surprised that the coverage doesn’t reflect that point of view. Whether intentional or not, this is incompetence in managing the information front, and ultimately the Administration’ responsibility.

More from Yon:
There's little comfort in the supposition that this mess might be more the result of incompetence than policy. After all, what does it matter whether the helicopter crashed because it ran out of gas or because someone didn't tighten the bolts on a rotor? Our military enjoys supremely one-sided air and weapons superiority, but this is practically irrelevant in a counterinsurgency where the centers of gravity for the battle are public opinion in Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe, and at home. The enemy trumps our jets and satellites with supremely one-sided media superiority. The lowest level terror cells have their own film crews. While al Sahab hums along winning battle after propaganda battle, the bungling gatekeepers at the Combined Press Information Center (CPIC) reciprocate with ridiculous and costly obstacles that deter embedded media covering our forces, ultimately causing harm to only one side: ours. And they get away with it because in any conflict that can be portrayed as U.S. military versus media, the public reflexively sides with the military.
This is an immense failure. The other day President Bush acknowledged that the current violence is akin to the Tet Offensive. He meant this in the sense that the enemies are trying to win a decisive public relations battle. Well Mr. President, if you lose Michael Yon, you will lose any chance of winning this battle.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"The first rule of Chess Club is..."

"... you do NOT talk about Chess Club!" Links are okay, however.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Wack-job Party

[Moved to the top. I published another post after this one, but I wanted this at the top. Check out "The Beauty of Procrastination" below.]

Last night while watching the news, my wife and I saw another story of local political idiocy. (Rambling account of that story here.) During that story I had an epiphany about American politics: We need a third party!

Yeah, I know what you're thinking, everybody has that same dumb idea for a new centrist party. Well, that's the thing: I'm not advocating a new centrist party to bring America together, I'm advocating a new party to be composed entirely of America's political wack-jobs! If we could round up the crazies into one group, at least we would know whom to ignore, if nothing else.

I shared this with my wife, who pointed out what seemed to be a fatal flaw in my conception: Who would knowingly join such a party? But I had a ready answer for her: WE will decide who is in the new party. I creatively suggest calling this new force in American politics the Wack-job Party. (The Official Monster Raving Loony Party has already been taken, unfortunately. Anyway, that's a different concept, as those people have voluntarily joined that august organization.)

(Note: The spelling and hyphen came after discussion with my wife. Don't like it? The convince me that I'm wrong.)

I haven't completely figured this out yet, but I do have a few rules:

  1. Once a member of the Wack-job Party, always a member. After all, if you've completely flipped your lid once, how do we know you won't do so again in the future?
  2. Membership in another political party does not at all preclude one from being in the Wack-job Party.
  3. The Wack-job Party is apolitical. The purpose is to tag the political wackos of any political stripe, or even those of no political stripe.

I still haven't worked out who the WE that gets to elect membership to the party should be, however. It seems obvious that I should be part of the WE because it's my idea. However, I can't be the sole Selector, as that path is fraught with danger. A one man selection committee is subject to personal selection bias. So the Selectors should probably be composed of a group, with some sort of voting process to determine who gets elected to the party. Any ideas?

(Note: I don't include my wife because I doubt she would want to be involved in this idiocy.)

That said, I do have a few early entrants for the Wack-job Party.

  1. Democrat Dr. Bob Bowman , an advocate of George Bush and Karl Rove being behind the 9/11 attacks ("Really?!"), running for the US House of Representatives from Florida's 15th District. Congratulations, you've just joined the Inaugural Class of the Wack-job Party of America! (The link leads to a Frank J. interview of Dr. Bowman. And Frank J. knows wack-job politics when he sees it!)
  2. Republican Representative and US Senate Candidate from Florida Katherine Harris, for her exemplary work in making even conservative Christian Republicans want to vote for Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson!
  3. Local Republican (recently Democrat) State House Representative Sheri McInvale, for inspiring this idea in the first place by being an idiot!

Being an idiot shouldn't be enough to get one in the Wack-job Party (else our whole damned political class would become instant members), but Representative McInvale gets special consideration for being so inspirational.

So, who's got more suggestions on how to elect members to the party, or simply more suggestions for membership?

[Additional Note: If you know of someone already doing this, please let me know. There's no reason to divide our efforts.]

The Beauty of Procrastination

Sometimes procrastination is the absolute best policy. The reason? Because sometimes if you wait, the problem either takes care of itself, or someone else goes to the trouble of taking care of it for you.

For example, I had been meaning to put together a post pulling together some of the stories about the complete moral failure in Kofi Annan's UN career. Fortunately, a couple of weeks back The Times of London put the story together better than I could have ever done.

Srebrenica is rarely mentioned nowadays in Annan’s offices on the 38th floor of the UN secretariat building in New York. He steps down in December after a decade as secretary-general. His retirement will be marked by plaudits. But behind the honorifics and the accolades lies a darker story: of incompetence, mismanagement and worse. Annan was the head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) between March 1993 and December 1996. The Srebrenica massacre of up to 8,000 men and boys and the slaughter of 800,000 people in Rwanda happened on his watch. In Bosnia and Rwanda, UN officials directed peacekeepers to stand back from the killing, their concern apparently to guard the UN’s status as a neutral observer. This was a shock to those who believed the UN was there to help them.

Annan’s term has also been marked by scandal: from the sexual abuse of women and children in the Congo by UN peacekeepers to the greatest financial scam in history, the UN-administered oil-for-food programme. Arguably, a trial of the UN would be more apt than a leaving party.

The charge sheet would include guarding its own interests over those it supposedly protects; endemic opacity and lack of accountability; obstructing investigations, promoting the inept and marginalising the dedicated.
The article then goes into some detail about some of the particulars: Annan's failure to prevent the genocide in Rwanda, the massacres in Srebrenica, and the ongoing whatever-the-hell-it-is in Darfur. Read it all, before it disappears into the archives.

All of which makes me want to ask, again: Where does "moral authority" come from? Who decides who has it, and who doesn't? And if the UN has it, why should I do anything other than curse the whole concept?

Local Political Idiocy

My wife and I saw a strange story on the local news last night. One of the State House of Representative elections in Orlando got ugly (or uglier, not sure which) in the last week.

The incumbent, one-time Democrat and current Republican Sheri McInvale sent out a flyer about her opponent, Democrat Scott Randolph. In a flyer that was ostensibly about immigration and healthcare issues, Mcinvale used a picture of her opponent standing with a drag queen. (If I recall correctly, it was from a Halloween event from last year. Sorry, I can't find the sorry the local channel aired. So no link love for them.) The ad, which McInvale's campaign has not put on her campaign website, seems to attempt to 'smear' Randolph with 'the gay thing'. One of the local paper's bloggers described it thusly:

The latest mailing that McInvale and her Republican Party sent out is supposedly about immigration. But you wouldn't know that by looking at the main photo she used.

The photo McInvale picked features her Democratic opponent, Scott Randolph, standing with a drag queen. (It's Miss Sammy, who's probably one of Orlando's most convincing queens. But a queen nonetheless.)

Above the photo is a line that says Randolph is "Wrong for our families."

And on top of the picture of Randolph and the queen is a line that says: "Who do you think will have to pay their medical bills and other costs?"

...

Even Patrick Howell, the head of the Log Cabin Republicans, said McInvale should apologize.

So McInvale did. Sort of. In a statement later in the week, she wrote: "There are those that were offended by a recent party mailer. There was, of course, no intent to offend anyone. However, I regret that some individuals took it out of context and as a result had their feelings hurt."

Really, it was one of those I'm-sorry-YOU-were-offended things. But McInvale also pointed to her past championing of gay-rights causes, like gay adoption, and vowed to continue being a champion.

And Howell said "McInvale has carried more water for the gay and lesbian community than any other member of the Central Florida delegation -- Republican or Democrat."

He's right. In fact, McInvale was one of the few pols at the last grand-opening celebration of Gay Days. I remember chatting with her that night for quite some time.
Read the whole thing, as they say.

Interestingly, McInvale only switched her party affiliation in January of this year. Even MORE interestingly, she originally won her seat in 2002 by defeating a gay Republican candidate. According to the People for the American Way website [scroll down to the second FLORIDA entry], in that election:
Doug Head, chairperson of the Orange County Democratic Party, came under fire for comments quoted in The Orlando Sentinel, equating a gay Democrat voting for an openly gay Republican candidate with “a Jew voting for Hitler.” Patrick Howell, an openly gay man, was running for the Florida Legislature as a Republican in a district that includes a predominately gay Orlando neighborhood. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, which had endorsed Howell, called the remarks “alarming and reprehensible.” The local Republican Party chair labeled the comments as “so extreme, so vulgar and so desperate that it begs for a reaction of indignant outrage.” Head attempted to clarify his remarks by responding that Howell was not “Hitler” and that for gay Democrats “not to recognize that the Republican Party isn’t going to look out for their interests isn’t [sic] paying attention.” Incumbent Rep. Allen Trovillian, R-Winter Park, who was included in PFAWF’s most recent Hostile Climate report for a reported anti-gay tirade against a group of gay student lobbyists, endorsed Howell’s Democratic opponent, Sheri McInvale, who went on to win the District 36 race.
Very strange indeed! She for gays, except when she's against gays, depending on which position will help her get elected. Out-standing!

I wouldn't be surprised if this backfires, however. Her district includes a sizable gay population, who will now likely be motivated to turn out and vote against her. After all, if a gay Democrat voting for an openly gay Republican candidate is like “a Jew voting for Hitler”, then how bad would it be for a gay Democrat to vote for any Republican? She's not only managed to be offensive, but also dumb. I'd ask why we keep electing these idiots, but why would anyone with any sense want to run for office?

Game Day Observations

The officials for the Bengals-Bucs game stunk. There were several blown calls, although in the end they about balanced out.

The worst occurred on a play in the first half. The Bucs QB, Bruce Gradkowski, threw an incomplete pass on 2nd and 20. Instead of ruling that the ball had hit the ground, the officials initially ruled that the ball had popped up in the air after being deflected from a defensive player's hands, and was then intercepted and returned. On the run-back, Gradkowski made a tackle by grabbing a Bengal player's facemask.

The official then stated that there had been an interception, and that defensive player #71 had committed a flagrant facemask penalty. Three times wrong! First, it was NOT an interception. Second, Gradkowski is not a defensive player. Third, his number is #7, not #71.

The Bucs challenged the ruling, and duly won. However, the facemask penalty stood, making it 2nd and long. Except that the officials now said that it was 3rd down! They managed to get one play wrong in four different ways! Pathetic. That whole crew ought to be fired.

After the game, Brett Favre had a commercial for the drug Prilosec. Given that Brett Favre has struggled with addiction problems in the past, perhaps he's not the ideal candidate to tell us about better living through chemicals, even if it is just an anti-heartburn drug.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Wackjob Party

Or is that the Whackjob Party? Discuss.

[More tomorrow. Or as Drudge likes to say, "Developing...."]

Sunday, October 08, 2006

It Must Be the Global Warming

[Update below]

To date, 2006 has been a HORRIBLE year for hurricanes. Due to Global Warming (TM), 2006 has seen one major hurricane after another devastate the coast of the SE USA, the US Gulf Coast, and large sections of the Caribbean and Latin America.

Oh, wait, that's not right. It's been a horrible year for these Hurricanes, not for storm activity. Tropical activity in the Atlantic and Caribbean has been thankfully average this year, and should trail off. (Thank you Weather Phenomenon Known as El Nino!) So, if Global Warming was the cause of the recent active seasons, is it also the cause of the current average season? (Really, it feels like a below average season, although that is purely a subjective feeling.)

Incidentally, below is one of the most beautiful website posts imaginable:

000
ABNT20 KNHC 081507
TWOAT
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1130 AM EDT SUN OCT 8 2006

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WITHIN A COUPLE HUNDRED MILES OF THE COAST OF SOUTH CAROLINA ARE ASSOCIATED WITH A NON-TROPICAL UPPER-LEVEL AREA OF LOW PRESSURE. TROPICAL STORM FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED HERE OR ELSEWHERE THROUGH MONDAY.

$$
FORECASTER FRANKLIN


UPDATE: XWL shows up in the comments and reflexively blames the problems with the Hurricanes on the Clinton Administration. Well, just because we right-wingers reflexively blame everything on the Clinton Administration doesn't mean we're wrong!

I find it ironic that when The Revolution comes, some of the Clintonistas will be amongst the first up against the wall....

Monday, October 02, 2006

Misreading the Situation

I believe that Amba has misread a key part of the current political situation. Here she mentions an interview with Richard Viguerie that she has just seen on CNN. According to Amba (whom I have no reason to doubt),

[Mr. Viguerie said] he felt betrayed by the Republicans in power, that they've betrayed the voters who put them in power with their big-government shenanigans, and apparently have no principle or goal other than remaining in power. Viguerie says he no longer considers himself a Republican, but rather a "Reagan conservative."
This is significant because Viguerie is one the prime movers of the American conservative movement of the last several decades. His dissatisfaction with the current Republican Party is chronicled in his new book, and at his website. Now he has called for the immediate resignation of the House GOP leadership because of the Foley scandal. This bodes ill for Republicans in the coming election. (On the other hand, the fact that they are running against Democrats bodes well for them.)

Where Amba is mistaken is in her conclusion: "Another hard blow to partisanship from an unexpected direction!" This is surely incorrect. Viguerie isn't against partisanship, he's for partisanship. To quote from the last link above:
In his book, Conservatives Betrayed (Bonus Books, 2006), Viguerie makes the case that the GOP leadership on Capitol Hill has held power too long and has become like the Democrats whom they replaced a dozen years ago.
Viguerie wants a party that is true to conservative principles, a party that matters, a party he can fight for. He's all for partisanship - he just wants it to mean something.