Wednesday, August 31, 2005

It's all Bush's fault

In early August, the Democrats responded to the news reports of the President's physical results with an incredibly petty statement about non-existent "cuts to education funding." As one internet observer remarked, "if George Bush walked on water tomorrow, the DNC would issue a press release entitled Bush Can't Swim." And the AP's reliably liberal Ron Fournier would carry it.

Fournier's "newsview" this evening is pre-emptively criticizing the President for whatever it is that he's about to do in regards to the disaster on America's gulf coast.
Cutting short his vacation and marshaling the power of the federal government could help reverse his sliding job approval rating. But the president's hands-on approach seems a bit too political for some, and makes him an easy target should Katrina's victims start looking for somebody to blame during the long, costly road to recovery...Stonecipher and other political analysts said people are aware that Bush benefited politically from the Sept. 11 attacks, and they may be skeptical of his response to the natural disaster that has rocked the Gulf Coast.

"I can hear it already, `He's just doing it because his poll numbers are at bottom,'" Stonecipher said.


So, according to Fournier, the President's "hands-on approach" is a little "too political" for some. Presumably, Fournier thinks that President George H. W. Bush was mistreated by the press in the criticism that he received over FEMA's reaction to Hurricane Andrew in 1992, but I don't remember seeing any comments from him to that effect. And yet the President's also already received criticism because he didn't cancel his speech in Coronado yesterday to go to Mississippi or Louisiana. (As if the presence of the President and his entourage anywhere in the region could possibly be anything other than disruptive.)

But that isn't all that he's got. No, there are several potential criticisms that Fournier prepares.

  • "...the federal response may be hurt by the Iraq war. 'If we didn't have all our National Guard troops in Iraq, we could probably do a lot more...'

  • "a bipartisan pollster...said the president — along with local political figures — may eventually be blamed for circumstances that led to the flooding of New Orleans. 'When the people of Louisiana quit being awed by the destruction, they're going to start asking questions. What happened to the water pumps? Why didn't the levees hold? I think there will be a lot of finger-pointing...'" Because obviously, the President of the United States has nothing more important on his plate than the levees on Lake Pontchartrain. If President Bush eventually get criticized for that, can we assume that President Clinton, who was President even longer than President Bush has been, gets some as well? I rather suspect not...

  • "Some Democrats circulated an article...suggesting that spending pressures from the war in Iraq, homeland security and Bush's tax cuts drained money from New Orleans flood-control projects."

  • "Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey said the president should have had troops and supplies on the ground Monday. 'President Bush's wake-up call came awfully late,' he said."



Fournier notes, toward the end of the piece that "Bush doesn't want to make the same mistake his father did in 1992, when the White House was criticized for reacting too slowly after Hurricane Andrew and then was accused of pandering." Interesting, then, that the piece has already contained accusations both of reacting too slowly and of pandering...

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Disaster relief

As we've all seen from the footage coming out of the gulf coast, the devastation is almost incomprehensible. I've contemplated a dozen different things that I could do today, but none are practical - anyone going into that situation who isn't part of an organized effort is likely to do more harm than good. All we can do, and I encourage everyone to do so, is contribute to the organizations that have the infrastructure to get into the disaster areas and do the job that needs to be done. I'll actually be contributing through two different organizations. The first is World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, and an organization that I have trust and confidence in from past experience. The other is the American Red Cross, another trustworthy organization, and one to which my employer will be matching contributions.


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Katrina relief blogging

I'll be joining the "flood-aid blogburst" tomorrow. All the while, wishing that there were something tangible that I could be doing to help. The charity through which I'll be contributing to the disaster relief effort is World Relief, the charity outreach arm of the National Association of Evangelicals.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

None so blind as he that will not see...

One of the storylines from the post-election analysis last year was that the Democrats had a communication problem. For which, they were looking at taking the advice of UC Berkeley professor of linguistics and cognitive sciences George Lakoff. It is Lakoff's position, argued in his book Don't Think Of An Elephant, that " Democrats and liberals often find themselves on the periphery of the public policy debate....the Democrats have barely tapped the need to retool."
He has suggested that same-sex marriage should be referred to as "the right to marry.'' Trial lawyers like vice presidential nominee John Edwards should instead be called "public protection attorneys,'' and the term environmental protection, which brings to mind big government and reams of regulations, should instead be termed "poison-free communities.''

Lakoff, and the Democrats, were predictably (and in many respects appropriately) mocked by certain segments of the right. The Lakoff/DNA position is that the voters are really liberal, and the Democrats just need to think of better names for their policy positions, while the right side of the blogosphereand punditocracy think that the Democrats big problem is their policy positions.

Well, there's another spectacular example of the Democrats' belief that packaging is the example tonight. The Pew Center has released the results of a poll which reveals that "fewer people see Democrats as friendly to religion now than felt that way a year ago." The Democrats think that that's a message problem, not a policy problem.
"We're at the beginning," said Democratic spokeswoman Karen Finney, who said religious voters share many of the values of the Democratic Party. "But we know we need to do a better job of talking about our values in a way that people see we share their values."

See? It's just a matter of "talking about our values" so that religious people understand that "we share their values."

The problem is, it's just not true. They can talk about their values and frame their values all they want, but they aren't going to convince the majority of religious people that they "share their values" because it just isn't true.

The majority of religious people don't believe that:
  • Abortion is a fundamental constitutional right.

  • Gay marriage is just the same as heterosexual marriage.

  • It's OK for kids in the 6th grade to get condoms, but not hear a prayer.

  • Pornography is protected free speech while prayer is hate speech.

  • If an artist wants to cover a picture of the Virgin Mary in elephant dung, or photograph a crucific submerged in urine, there's no problem with tax-payer support. If a parent wants to put a child into parochial school, they've got to pay that themselves AND continue supporting the public schools.

  • The Boy Scouts should be condemned for refusing to allow male homosexual scout leaders to work with young boys (after all, it worked pretty well for the Catholic Church, huh?)


Again, the problem with the Democrats isn't that they can't accurately get their message across. No, the problem for the Democrats is that their message has gotten across, loud and clear...

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Quote of the Day

"Now the Senate is looking for moderate judges, mainstream judges. What in the world is a moderate interpretation of a constitutional text? Halfway between what it says and what we'd like it to say?"
- Antonin Scalia

(H/T Betsy's Page)

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Monday, August 29, 2005

Is Christianity sexist? Some think so...

There are a couple of different but related stories that caught my eye yesterday. Each one deals, essentially, with the relationship between the church, as in Christianity and christian tradition, and women.

The first thing I saw was an appearance by Cokie Roberts on "This Week" on ABC during a roundtable session. They (Roberts, George Will, Fareed Zakaria and George Stephanopoulos) were discussing the Iraqi Constitution, and the discussion was - predictably - negative. If there was any acknowledgement that this process represents something new and exciting in the middle east, I missed it. No, it's a disaster because there's not complete and total agreement between all parties today. (I don't normally see the Sunday morning shows, and I'll have more to say on this one a bit later, but nothing happened that makes me want to watch again...)

But the one line that jumped out at me was from Cokie Roberts, and it jumped out because it was gratuitous and irrelevant. She was concerned about the Iraqi constitution's protection of "women's rights" and said:
Do we have american men and women losing their lives in a battle zone, where in the end the constitution does not protect women's rights? And even the pope this week, who has not been known to be particularly friendly toward women, chastised the aspects of islam, which are anti-women's rights.

Excuse me? What are we talking about here? In what way has the Pope "not been known to be particularly friendly toward women?"

In the absence of specific complaint, I have to assume that she is equating the Church's traditional positions on abortion, birth control and ordination with not being "friendly toward women." She is, of course, entitled to her opinion. As am I to mine, that hers is outrageous.

“It is women, in the end, who even in very desperate situations, as attested by history past and present, possess a singular capacity to persevere in adversity, to keep life going even in extreme situations, to hold tenaciously to the future, and finally to remember with tears the value of every human life.”
- Pope Benedict XVI

Are those the words of someone who is not "friendly toward women?" Of course not. The fact is that, despite the attempts of the feminist movement over the past 30 years to try to claim otherwise, men and women are different. Inherently different. The Catholic church recognizes those differences. In many ways, what the church does is recognize a reality that Cokie Roberts and others of her mindset have been trying to deny.

None of that is to say that men are better than women (though they tend to be at certain things), or that women are better than men (though they tend to be at certain things) - just that they are different, with inherently different natures that should be respected. One can disagree with the church's stance on birth control, abortion and ordination without saying that the church is "un-friendly toward women."

A little later on, I ran across this news story on how the Lutheran church has approved a new hymnal, with some different vocabulary. In doing so, they're pandering to modern sensibilities while claiming to remain "faithful to the best of Lutheran tradition."
Then, after two hours of debate, delegates gave sustained applause for the approval of work on the new book that attempts to be open to different cultures and new musical styles. It will offer alternatives such as "Holy Eternal Majesty, Holy Incarnate Word, Holy Abiding Spirit" for the male-dominated Trinitarian image of "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" in prayers during Sunday services.

Let us leave, for a moment, the change of "Father" into "Holy Eternal Majesty" and the addition of "Abiding" between "Holy" and "Spirit" - why, exactly, is it offensive or sexist to refer to Jesus as a "Son?" How is it more "open to different cultures" to replace "son" with "Holy Incarnate Word?" Not that it's inaccurate, but why is it better? Yes, the Gospel of John begins that way - Εν αρχη ην ο λογος - and that is one of the legitimate names for Jesus, but how is that a better phraseology? In what context is "Holy Eternal Majesty, Holy Incarnate Word, Holy Abiding Spirit" going to fit a service better than "Father, Son and Holy Spirit?"

My guess is that there isn't one. This isn't a constructive change, it's change for the sake of change sake, to try to mollify modern sensibilities, to appease someone who's looking for a reason to be offended. And it's going to drive sincere Lutherans who actually want to remain "faithful to the best of Lutheran tradition" out of the church...



Update:
The Anchoress has got some thoughts on the Lutherans that are well worth reading.
When I hear “gender neutral” I hear fingernails on a blackboard, everything becomes murky and earth-bound and I become dreadfully antsy and embarrassed. “Oh, no…” I find myself thinking, “once again we serve the idea that women are too stupid to understand that “mankind” includes them, and they’re too insecure in their understanding of their own sex to simply let God be - as Jesus called him - “Our Father.”

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Monday Pythagorean Report



AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 8/29/2005
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Oakland4.9(4)4.04(4)0.587(1)76537356-3

Anaheim4.7(9)4.02(2)0.572(2)74567357-1

Chicago4.62(10)4(1)0.566(3)725579487

Cleveland4.77(6)4.14(5)0.565(4)74577358-1

Boston5.75(1)5.08(11)0.557(5)715774543

New York5.46(2)4.86(9)0.553(6)715873562

Toronto4.81(5)4.39(6)0.541(7)70606565-5

Minnesota4.34(13)4.03(3)0.534(8)69616862-1

Texas5.33(3)5.32(12)0.501(9)65646168-4

Detroit4.75(7)4.81(8)0.494(10)63656266-1

Seattle4.43(12)4.7(7)0.473(11)61685574-6

Baltimore4.5(11)4.91(10)0.46(12)597061682

Tampa Bay4.73(8)5.81(13)0.407(13)537855762

Kansas City4.2(14)5.84(14)0.353(14)45834286-3




Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Chicago10161

Boston9468

Oakland9270

New York9270

Anaheim9171




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Chicago9963

Boston9369

Oakland9270

Anaheim9171

Cleveland9171




Standings for the week
ProjectedActual

R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

Oakland7.83(1)2.33(1)0.902(1)51510

New York6.57(3)3.71(5)0.74(2)52611

Cleveland6.43(4)4.43(6)0.664(3)52520

Texas4.33(8)3.5(3)0.596(4)42420

Boston6.67(2)6(11)0.548(5)33330

Tampa Bay6.43(4)6.14(13)0.521(6)43430

Seattle4.67(7)4.5(7)0.517(7)3324-1

Chicago3.17(11)3.5(3)0.454(8)33421

Minnesota2.33(14)3(2)0.387(9)24240

Anaheim3.67(10)4.83(8)0.376(10)24240

Kansas City4(9)5.83(10)0.334(11)24240

Detroit5(6)8.17(14)0.289(12)24240

Toronto3(12)5.29(9)0.262(13)25250

Baltimore2.67(13)6(11)0.185(14)15150



There is panic spreading through Red Sox nation right now, but none here. These things happen. 3-3 against KC and Detroit is, obviously, a very disappointing week. Doing it while the Yankees are going 6-1 is even worse. That's life - it happens.

Now, if it happens again this week, that would be bad. The Red Sox have 7 home games this week, 4 against Tampa Bay and 3 against Baltimore. Anything less than 5-2 would make for a poor week. Meanwhile, the Yankees have 7 games on the west coast. If the lead doesn't increase this week, then people can start to fret...

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Sunday, August 28, 2005

The answer for Cindy Sheehan

Scott Ott is a brilliant satirist. But it's unclear to me whether or not this piece is actually supposed to be funny. Let's just say that, intended satirically or not, on purpose or by accident, Scott has said exactly what needs to be said to Cindy Sheehan and her ideological compatriots...
Now, 25 million Iraqis cry out to enjoy the life you take for granted. Most of them will never use their freedom to denigrate the sacrifice of those who paid for it. But once liberty is enshrined in law, they will be free to do so. And when the Iraqis finally escape their incarceration, hope will spread throughout that enslaved region of the world, eventually making us all safer and more free.

The key is in the lock of the prison door. Bold men risk everything to turn it.

Mrs. Sheehan, everyone dies. But few experience the bittersweet glory of death with a purpose -- death that sets people free and produces ripples of liberty hundreds of years into the future.

Casey Sheehan died that freedom might triumph over bondage, hope over despair, prosperity over misery. He died restoring justice and mercy. He lived and died to help to destroy the last stubborn vestiges of the Dark Ages.

To paraphrase President Lincoln, the world will little note nor long remember what you and I say here. But it can never forget what Casey Sheehan did during his brief turn on earth. If we are wise, we will take increased devotion to that cause for which he gave the last full measure of devotion.


(H/T to Betsy Newmark)

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Odds and ends - Iraq and the American media

  • Betsy Newmark has some words of wisdom on the Constitutional progress in Iraq.
    If the proposed constitution is what they end up with, it is so much better than what they had before and what so many seemed to be expecting. No one thought our Constitution was ideal when it was written. It was cobbled together by compromise after compromise. Everything from how to count slaves to how to elect the president came about because of compromise.

    One advantage that our Constitution-writers had was that they were able to debate and write their draft in secret. No one was leaking to the press different drafts and ideas. People could throw out ideas that would be shot down and ridiculed, but they didn't have to worry that their proposal would be stuff of debate throughout the country the next day. And, of course, there wasn't the threat of violence from anti-Federalists determined to block the adoption of the Constitution. They didn't have an artifical date as their predetermined deadline. If the Iraqis need more time for discussion, let's cut them some slack.

    I made that comparison the other day, but only in passing. She's absolutely right, and for all of the right reasons. The focus on the arbitrary "deadlines" that the Iraqis have set for themselves is counter-productive (and the AP is at it again this morning).

    The problem is, the American media is completely agenda driven, and that agenda is "Bush is bad, Iraq was a mistake, it's a quagmire, it's Vietnam redux." And everything that doesn't fit that template is either shoe-horned into it, or ignored. Someone needs to step back for a minute and look at the big picture. 2 1/2 years ago, Saddam Hussein was in power. Now democratically elected Iraqi representatives are finalizing a constitution for the people of Iraq to vote on. There's been enormous progress in a relatively short period of time, even if the members of the American media (and certain American politicians - yes, that means you, Senator Hagel) refuse to acknowledge it.


  • Jack Kelly has a must-read about how good news in the real world becomes bad news in the New York Times. (H/T to Betsy's Page)


  • Katherine Kersten has an excellent piece in the Star Tribune (of all places to look for perspective, the Star Tribune is not generally high on the list) that goes deeply into that "big picture" thinking I was just talking about. (H/T to the Anchoress)
    The media rarely give us the context we need to understand the fighting that produces these casualties -- the purpose and outcome of the missions the lost soldiers were engaged in. When that information is given, it's often buried in articles that focus on death.

    Without this big picture, any war would appear a meaningless disaster. What if Americans had seen the casualty lists from Omaha Beach or Okinawa -- hills of sand -- without hearing about the objectives for which those bloody battles were fought?

    To evaluate the war in Iraq, like any war, we need to understand what our troops are attempting and achieving, as well as how many of them are being killed. Take the 14 Marines who died in Haditha in early August in a much-publicized roadside bombing. Army Lt. Colonel Steve Boylan, a military spokesman I contacted in Baghdad, explained that they were laying the groundwork for Operation Quick Strike: a campaign to destroy the insurgency by depriving it of its bases and shutting down its "rat lines" -- infiltration routes running from the Syrian border to the heart of Iraq.

    The Marines' mission was to undercut the insurgents' freedom of movement, and thus -- among other things -- to increase security for the Iraqis' constitutional process.
    ...
    Here's a glimpse of that bigger picture: According to government and policy organization sources, Iraq today has a vibrant free press, with roughly 170 independent newspapers and magazines, up from zero under Saddam Hussein. Thousands of schools have been constructed or refurbished, and more than 200 water treatment projects are underway or have been completed.

    In Fallujah, Mosul and Najaf, the scene of brutal fighting last year, the American military is building schools and clinics, extending power lines and laying water and sewage pipes.

    Thanks to those efforts, the Iraqi people will soon vote in a historic constitutional referendum. Sunni leaders, who boycotted the January 2005 elections, are urging their people to join the electoral process. But even heartening news like this, which does get media attention, is often drowned out in the public mind by reports of periodic American casualties.

    Amen. If the American media were serving America's interests instead of the Democratic Party's (and isn't it sad that they aren't the same?) there would be a lot more of this in the press...
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    Wednesday, August 24, 2005

    Jennifer Loven strikes again...

    Many times the bias in the mainstream press shows itself in just the stories it chooses to run. The homeless disappeared from the press when a Democrat was in the White House, President Clinton's vacations were never a big story the way that Reagan's and Bush's have been. Well, another story has crossed the wire tonight that falls, I believe, into the same category. Of All Gas Consumers, Bush May Be Biggest

    Getting President Bush from here to there consumes an enormous amount of fuel, whether he's aboard Air Force One, riding in a helicopter or on the ground in a heavily armored limousine. The bill gets steeper every day as the White House is rocked by the same energy prices as regular drivers. Taxpayers still foot the bill.

    That is all, of course, absolutely true. There's an enormous amount of energy devoted to moving the President from place to place. And they could try to justify it as a news story because of the current high price of gasoline. But the price of oil was very high in 2000, also, so high that President Clinton felt it necessary to tap the nation's strategic petroleum reserve. All of the consumption issues noted in this article were just as true for President Clinton as they are for President Bush, but if the AP ever ran a piece like this one during the Clinton adminstration, I failed to notice it. I'd be willing to bet that they did not. Certainly, the author of this piece, Jennifer Loven, didn't, as she's the wife of Roger Ballentine, formerly deputy assistant to President Clinton for environmental initiatives and chairman of the White House Climate Change Task Force, and then one of John Kerry's key environmental advisors during the 2004 campaign.

    (More on Loven's record here - H/T to PowerLine)

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    AP coverage of the Cindy Sheehan story getting worse, not better...

    I wrote a week and a half ago that the AP was acting as a PR firm for Cindy Sheehan. It doesn't appear that anything's changed. At all. If anything, it has gotten worse. They're still refusing to run with any of the controversial statements that she's made. They've not reported her comments on Hardball that "we should have gone after al Qaeda and maybe not after the country of Afghanistan." She told Chris Matthews that the purpose of her visit to Crawford "is actually to hold [the President] accountable for things he has already said," but no one in the "tough, skeptical" mainstream press has done anything to hold her accountable for the things that she's said.

    But not only have they not challenged any of the mythology that has sprung up about her, that she's just a grieving mother, who just wants to meet the President and ask why her (24-year old) son (who had re-enlisted) died. To a certain extent, she was a story when she was sitting at the President's gate. But she's been gone for a week, with requests for the media to "to keep the focus of my protest on the war," she still seems to be the story. And it's amazing how often the AP can fit her in. Rumsfeld: Constitution Won't End Violence merits a Cindy Sheehan mention. As does Bush: Pullout Would Hurt Iraq's Democracy.
    Bush is trying to rebuild support for the Iraq mission in the face of a growing opposition led by Sheehan, who first met the president after her son's death in Iraq last year and is now pressing for a follow-up meeting.
    ...
    Her vigil outside Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, has fueled the anti-war movement. Even some of the president's fellow Republicans have called for an end to U.S. involvement in Iraq.

    It would be laughable if it weren't so sad. The opposition may or may not be "growing," but if it is, it's because that's what the media wants. Cindy Sheehan's leading nothing. She's being used as a prop by others who oppose the war, and have chosen her for a mascot, a symbol, a figurehead. Others, like MoveOn.org. And the Associated Press. Cindy Sheehan, a mother who has already met once with the President, who thinks that we shouldn't have gone in to Afghanistan, that we went to Iraq for oil, that George Bush is a terrorist, that Dick Cheney's profiting from the war and the US is "spreading the cancer of imperialism" in the Middle East, left Texas a week ago. Since she left, she's been completely out of the spotlight. She's issued no statements, made no public appearances. And the AP has reference her in stories 91 times.

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    Tuesday, August 23, 2005

    "Embarrassing" AP coverage

    While all indications are that the negotiating parties are coming closer to agreement on a constitution that will create a democratic country, the Iraqis missed a self-imposed deadline at midnight last night. There are many different possible ways to approach this story. The AP's Anne Gearan has chosen to use the occasion for a news analysis piece (masquerading as straight news) criticizing the President. Her article (Bush Pushes for Elusive Progress in Iraq) focuses, not on the Iraqis, but on the Bush administration.

    Iraqi leaders embarrassed Bush by blowing a second deadline Monday to complete the charter, a critical first step toward political stability and independence in Iraq and a marker on the path to an eventual U.S. exit.

    For the second week in a row, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was left putting a brave face on bad news. She called the latest delay a "statesmanlike decision" designed to build consensus.

    Just in that two sentence section of the piece, there are several things to take issue with in terms of phraseology.

    1. Even if we grant that the Iraqi citizens putting together the Iraqi constitution are capable of doing some thing that would "embarrass" President Bush, it seems hard to believe that a three-day (or three-week, or three-month) delay in the ratification of a democratic constitution would be that event. For a little bit of historical perspective, the United States declared independence from Great Britain in 1776, Cornwallis surrendered in 1781, and the U.S. Constitution was agreed upon in 1787.

    2. The Iraqis failed to reach agreement between all parties by the second arbitrarily selected deadline. It sounds much worse if you say that they were "blowing a second deadline," but it's not more accurate.

    3. The "critical first step" to "political stability and independence in Iraq" was the removal of Saddam Hussein. Since that event, there have been a great many steps taken, including the capture of Hussein, the killing of his sons, the cleansing of Fallujah, the elections. Etc.

    4. The "scare quotes" around the "statesmenlike decision" comment from the Secretary of State, coupled with the comment that she was "putting a brave face on bad news" ignores the possibility that it was, in fact, a "statesmanlike decision," and implies that Dr. Rice is just out spinning and flacking. (Rush Limbaugh's comment about the left accusing others of what they themselves actually do leaps to mind here...)



    And there's more. From the headline (is progress really that "elusive," or is the AP just not reporting it?) to the completely unnecessary (and untrue) comment that Chuck Hagel "broke with the White House over Iraq last weekend" (he "broke with the White House over Iraq" long ago), the piece is significantly slanted against the President, against the administration, and against the entire Iraq war.

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    Early candidate for quote of the century

    The California Supreme Court has ruled that "both members of a lesbian couple who plan for and raise a child born to either of them should be considered the child's mothers." To quote the decision, "we perceive no reason why both parents of a child cannot be women."

    Maybe the members of the court should have skipped one of those law classes and studied some biology somewhere along the line...



    "...the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction."

    "If the law supposes that," said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, "the law is a ass--a idiot."
    - Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

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    Monday, August 22, 2005

    Timing. It's all timing.

    Compare and contrast...

    Sunday, August 21
    "We should start figuring out how we get out of there," Hagel said on "This Week" on ABC. "But with this understanding, we cannot leave a vacuum that further destabilizes the Middle East. I think our involvement there has destabilized the Middle East. And the longer we stay there, I think the further destabilization will occur."

    Hagel said "stay the course" is not a policy. "By any standard, when you analyze 2 1/2 years in Iraq ... we're not winning," he said.



    Monday, August 22
    Hours before a midnight deadline, Shiites and Kurds reached an agreement Monday on a draft constitution and were trying to persuade Sunni Arabs to go along with their compromises, officials said.

    Negotiators met for about three hours Monday morning and convened again shortly after 4 p.m. at the home of Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani in the Green Zone for talks Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman said would "be decisive." He said there was some progress in the earlier session.

    A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said an agreement had been reached between the Shiites and the Kurds in the morning.

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    Welcome Sprite

    We got a new addition to the household this morning. Here she is, in her first portrait:



    Welcome Sprite! She's an 8 week old West Highland White Terrier (Westie) and our second, joining Moxie.

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    Monday Pythagorean Report



    AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 8/22/2005
    ProjectedActual

    R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

    Anaheim4.75(6)3.98(1)0.581(1)72527153-1

    Chicago4.69(8)4.02(2)0.57(2)695275466

    Oakland4.76(5)4.12(5)0.565(3)70536855-2

    Cleveland4.68(9)4.12(4)0.558(4)69556856-1

    Boston5.7(1)5.03(11)0.557(5)685471513

    Toronto4.91(4)4.34(6)0.556(6)68556360-5

    New York5.39(2)4.93(10)0.541(7)665667551

    Minnesota4.44(12)4.08(3)0.538(8)67576658-1

    Detroit4.74(7)4.65(7)0.509(9)62606062-2

    Texas5.38(3)5.41(12)0.498(10)61625766-4

    Baltimore4.59(11)4.86(9)0.474(11)586560632

    Seattle4.41(13)4.71(8)0.471(12)58655370-5

    Tampa Bay4.64(10)5.79(13)0.4(13)507451731

    Kansas City4.2(14)5.84(14)0.354(14)43794082-3




    Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
    Chicago10062

    Boston9468

    Anaheim9369

    Oakland9072

    Cleveland8973




    Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
    Chicago9864

    Anaheim9369

    Boston9369

    Oakland9072

    Cleveland8973




    Standings for the week
    ProjectedActual

    R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

    Cleveland5.5(4)2.5(1)0.809(1)51510

    Minnesota6.14(3)3.57(4)0.73(2)52611

    Detroit8.17(1)5.67(11)0.661(3)42511

    Tampa Bay4.17(7)3.33(2)0.601(4)42511

    Seattle6.29(2)5.14(10)0.591(5)43430

    New York4(9)3.33(2)0.583(6)33330

    Anaheim4.29(6)3.86(6)0.548(7)4334-1

    Boston5.14(5)5.86(13)0.441(8)34340

    Baltimore3.5(10)4(7)0.439(9)33330

    Oakland2.83(12)3.67(5)0.384(10)2415-1

    Toronto4.17(7)6.33(14)0.317(11)24240

    Texas2.5(13)4.83(9)0.23(12)15150

    Kansas City3(11)5.83(12)0.228(13)15241

    Chicago2.33(14)4.67(8)0.22(14)15150




    It's amusing, at times, to watch the denizens of Red Sox nation overreacting to every misstep. After a 14-2 stretch that saw them extend their lead in the AL East to 5 games, there seemed to be panic when they lost two in Detroit and got blown out on Thursday. They came back to take 2 of the last 3 in Anaheim, and saw their lead decrease by 1/2 game during the course of the week. Now, after an off-day, they play 3 in Kansas City before heading home for their longest home stand of the season.

    • The Red Sox have exactly 6 road games left with teams that are currently over .500, 3 at New York and 3 at Toronto.


    • When they finish Thursday's game in KC, they'll have 37 games remaining (36 scheduled, plus the rained-out game against the White Sox that may not get made up.) Only 12 of those are on the road.


    • Curt Schilling returns to the starting rotation on Thursday. Trot Nixon could be back as early as tomorrow, Keith Foulke could be back by the end of the week, or early next week. If Schilling and Foulke could approximate the Schilling and Foulke of last year, this team has to be one of the favorites to go to the World Series.


    • An interesting line for Randy Johnson in Chicago yesterday, as the Big Unit threw 7 scoreless innings against the White Sox. Unfortunately for the Yankees, he also throw the 4th, in which 6 batters did the following:

      1. Tadahito Iguchi - Home run

      2. Aaron Rowand - Home run

      3. Paul Konerko - Home run

      4. Jermaine Dye - single

      5. Juan Uribe - single

      6. Chris Widger - home run


      Before Iguchi's home run, he had given up 1 hit in the first 3 1/3. After Widger's home run, he gave up 3 hits in 4 2/3. He was excellent. But that one bad stretch was bad enough to cost the team another win...

    | Links to this post

    Chuck Hagel - useful idiot or just plain idiot?

    The news of the day is that Republican Senator Chuch Hagel compared Iraq to Vietnam yesterday. But is that something new? Is Hagel changing his position? Is this a big news story because there's a GOP Senator changing sides?
    As a Republican, however, Hagel is immune to charges of partisanship. His assessment of Bush is therefore more interesting. He's become a fixture on the political talk shows, urging "caution" on the president — especially if the subject is an invasion of Iraq. Today Hagel is the Bush administration's most outspoken war critic in Congress.

    ...

    "He reacts to everything like a European," says a Senate colleague.

    In other words, Hagel is a skeptic on U.S. force.

    Is that a comment from a conservative blogger today, following Hagel's appearance on ABC's This Week program yesterday? No, that's John Miller in National Review , in August of 2002. Three years ago.

    Hagel's been a critic, repeatedly and loudly. What he did yesterday was nothing that he hadn't done before. The comparison of Iraq to Vietnam wasn't new for him, he's said that before. Is that helpful to the administration? Is it helpful to the Iraqis? Is it helpful to the troops?

    Obviously not. It's helpful to the Democrats and Cindy Sheehan and MoveOn.org, and it's helpful to the Bush-haters on the far left, and the French and Germans who want to see us fail, and the "insurgents" in Iraq. Words have meanings, words have consequences, and he knows that he's going to get coverage when he says things like that.

    And things like this: "by any standard, when you analyze 2 1/2 years in Iraq ... we're not winning."

    2 1/2 years ago, Saddam Hussein was in power in Baghdad. He was paying the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. He was providing a haven for some Al-quaeda members. He was shooting at US and British planes that were enforcing the UN no-fly zones. He had the largest army in the middle-east. He was taking UN Oil-for-Food money and preventing aid in the form of food and medicine from reaching his oppressed citizens. Now he's gone, his armies are gone, his sons are gone and the Iraqi people have elected a representative government that's making progress towards a democratic constitution. The influence of the actions in Iraq has caused changes in behavior - positive changes of behavior - in Syria and Lebanon and Libya. On the day after that ridiculous comment, the New York Times, Bush administration mouthpiece, carries a front-page story that starts "Iraqi leaders moved to the brink of agreement on a new constitution on Sunday, solving several contentious issues..." And Hagel's got the nerve to go on the air yesterday and compare Iraq to Vietnam and say that "we're not winning."

    Idiocy.

    Maybe Hagel needs to go back and look at the words of a Senator in 1998, during the Clinton administration.
    Congress must be very careful in what we say and what we do as we proceed along a very dangerous path. We must be careful not to weaken or neuter the President in front of the world. The world is very dangerous and unpredictable. Congress must not micromanage foreign policy. I have been as outspoken as any Senator on this floor about the concerns and the differences I have with this administration on foreign policy. It is the responsibility of the Senate to question that, to probe that. But we have to understand that whatever we say and do has consequences, reverberations, ramifications. America must speak to the world with some sense and some semblance of unity. We cannot allow our foreign policy to unravel before the eyes of the world during a very dangerous time. The world needs American leadership, consistency, presence and engagement. Without it, without American leadership, the world becomes an even more dangerous place.

    - Senator Chuck Hagel

    In 1998, Chuck Hagel understood the importance of not under-cutting the President overseas. Of course, in 1998, there was a Democratic President, and now there's a Republican President. It seems that what Hagel actually understands is exactly how to get the most positive coverage in the American media...

    | Links to this post

    Friday, August 19, 2005

    True? False? If it's negative for the President, that's good enough for the AP

    One of the big problems with the American "mainstream" media apparatus is the completely uncritical way in which they accept everything that fits their template, printing anything they agree with, and suppressing or ignoring or criticizing things that they don't. We've got another fine example today in an AP story about some congressmen "call[ing] on President Bush to announce by year's end a plan for withdrawal from Iraq." The story is focused on NC Republican Walter Jones, a pre-war supporter of going in to Iraq, which does make it a legitimate news story. But, because he's now disagreeing with the President, what he's got to say is accepted as gospel truth. I think it's safe to say that the AP didn't do a lot of respectful quoting of Walter Jones when he was supporting the President in the run-up to the war.
    Jones said the reason for going to war — Saddam Hussein's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction — has been proven false.

    "If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn't have supported the resolution," said Jones, who had coined the term "freedom fries" as a show of support for the war in Iraq.

    Representative Jones is apparently unaware of what he was voting on, and the AP is either unaware or uninterested in pointing that out. There wasn't a "reason" for going to war, there were many, and the fact that everyone believed that Saddam Hussein had WMD was only one of them. To quote from the Congressional Resolution authorizing force in Iraq:

    • in 1998 Congress concluded that Iraq's continuing weapons of mass destruction programs threatened vital United States interests and international peace and security, declared Iraq to be in `material and unacceptable breach of its international obligations' and urged the President `to take appropriate action, in accordance with the Constitution and relevant laws of the United States, to bring Iraq into compliance with its international obligations'

    • Iraq both poses a continuing threat to the national security of the United States and international peace and security in the Persian Gulf region and remains in material an unacceptable breach of its international obligations by, among other things...supporting and harboring terrorist organizations

    • Iraq persists in violating resolutions of the United Nations Security Council by continuing to engage in brutal repression of its civilian population thereby threatening international peace and security in the region, by refusing to release, repatriate, or account for non-Iraqi citizens wrongfully detained by Iraq, including an American serviceman, and by failing to return property wrongfully seized by Iraq from Kuwait

    • the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people

    • the current Iraqi regime has demonstrated its continuing hostility toward, and willingness to attack, the United States, including by attempting in 1993 to assassinate former President Bush and by firing on many thousands of occasions on United States and Coalition Armed Forces engaged in enforcing the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council

    • members of al-Qaida, an organization bearing responsibility for attacks on the United States, its citizens, and interests, including the attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, are known to be in Iraq

    • Iraq continues to aid and harbor other international terrorist organizations, including organizations that threaten the lives and safety of American citizens

    • the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001, underscored the gravity of the threat posed by the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by international terrorist organizations

    • it is in the national security interests of the United States to restore international peace and security to the Persian Gulf region

    None of that has been "proven false." We have not found the stockpiles that the administration, and every intelligence agency in the world, expected to be found, but not one of the reasons I've listed is false. The AP doesn't care - a Republican congressman is criticizing the administration, and that's good news for the media.


    They also managed to get another Cindy Sheehan paean into the same piece, down towards the end.
    [Jones has] also met with family members of troops killed in Iraq, including with Cindy Sheehan...He said the meeting about six weeks ago, which included other families who had lost loved ones, was emotional, and that Sheehan didn't say anything about going to Texas.

    "You know, that's her right. I think anybody that's lost a loved one, who feels that we should be there long or not be there long, they should have that right to express it," Jones said.

    If they're going to publish a comment like that, doesn't it behoove them to find someone who has expressed the feeling that she shouldn't have that right? There's an implied criticism there, the implication that someone less enlightened than Representative Jones, someone who would, therefore, be on the President's side, wants to suppress any opposition. Since no one's actually arguing that position, however, he, and by extension, the Associated Press, are impugning the President by implication.

    | Links to this post

    Kevin Millar - still and again...

    The Red Sox have got 4 options to play first base right now.



    Red Sox First Base Options
    Player AB 2B HR RBI TB BB AVG OBP SLG OPS

    1. K Millar 36420441132440.2690.3530.3630.716

    2. J Olerud 9153194160.2970.3330.4510.784

    3. K Youkilis 666192890.2880.390.4240.814

    4. R Petagine 211181030.2860.3750.4760.851


    Why, I ask myself (as I've asked before), is Kevin Millar still playing every day?

    Update: Oops - Youkilis is back in Pawtucket, so there are only 3 options. The point still stands...

    | Links to this post

    Thursday, August 18, 2005

    Boston Globe - more love for the Sheehan vigils...

    The Boston Globe this morning leads with a large picture, first column, above the fold, of a group of candle-holding protestors in a "vigil" to show solidarity with Cindy Sheehan. It's a lovely shot, taken on a beach at sundown, and the people look like nice people. It is also framed in such a way that the crowd looks like it might have been much bigger than it actually was.

    The story doesn't start on the front page, but when you get to it, it's a very positive portrayal of people just trying to "make a difference."
    With twilight and candlelight playing across solemn faces, thousands of antiwar protesters gathered at more than 50 vigils at sites from Northampton to Quincy last night, in solidarity with a mother of four from California who has camped outside President Bush's ranch in Texas for 10 days and who vows to remain until he explains why her soldier son had to die.

    Again, there is no hint that Cindy Sheehan is anything more than a bereaved mother. She's just a "mother of four" who wants to know "why her soldier son had to die." There's no mention in the piece that the organization sponsoring the vigils was MoveOn.org. (Indeed, the picture on the front page shows at least two people holding signs that were downloaded from the MoveOn.Org website.)

    The article presents the views of the "protestors" uncritically, as if they are speaking self-evident and obvious truth. There's no challenge to any of it, because, presumably, they represent the editorial thinking of the Boston Globe. Comments like "[for the president] to say that there's a connection between 9/11 and Iraq is unbelievable" are quoted and uncommented upon, not even to point out that the President never once said that there was a connection between 9/11 and Iraq.

    And it closes with another quote from Cindy Sheehan, talking about her "vigil." "We are just going day by day. It's an organic thing that's really taken on a life of its own." How has it "taken on a life of its own?" Because it fits what the media wants to write about.

    | Links to this post

    What would Rolling Stones tickets be worth to me?

    There have been a lot of ads in the last couple of weeks for the Rolling Stones! At Fenway Park! The Red Sox have to advertise something on the radio, because there aren't any tickets to baseball games left. So I've been wondering - what would tickets to see the Rolling Stones at Fenway Park be worth to me.

    And I've come to a conclusion. I'd be willing to go for $100, unless I was required to stay for the whole concert. To make me stay for the whole thing you'd have to pay me at least $250 to get me there...

    | Links to this post

    Wednesday, August 17, 2005

    MaxedOutMama looking at Planned Parenthood

    MaxedOutMama is looking at Planned Parenthood, and she's not happy with what she's seeing. (H/T to the Anchoress). PP wants to help "educate" teens by preparing and proposing curricula for educators.
    This activity aims to teach teens what it means to be sexually healthy. As sexuality educators, we have a responsibility to help adolescents develop the values, skills, knowledge and attitudes that will help them take responsibility and have good sexual health...

    What that means to Planned Parenthood is, of course, condoms and casual sex, with no value judgements. MOM looks at some of the PP lesson plans, and then adds a modicum of reality to the PP fantasy world-view. The results are impressive and devastating.
    Realistically, people who don't sleep around that much and use condoms vastly reduce their risks for STDs and pregnancy. That is the message that organizations like Planned Parenthood don't want kids to get, but it is the most scientifically supportable message.

    The truth is that in terms of preventing STD's, the Catholic church has a more scientifically accurate message than most sex ed programs in high schools in North America.
    ...
    I am sick to death of the sanctimonious prating of people who complain about prudish or unrealistic outdated sexual morality. We would not accept risk factors like those listed above for any other category of human behavior. The idea that teenagers are unable to control themselves is ridiculous. They aren't getting the facts because of a truly neurotic reverse prudery.

    There's lots more, but it's all good. An excellent, awesome take-down of a truly loathsome organization...

    | Links to this post

    Tuesday, August 16, 2005

    A little self-indulgence...

    I've not yet had, as we all dream of having, an instalanche. I've had a couple of posts that got linked by Polipundit and Michelle Malkin, and that generates a lot of traffic, but I'm still new and small and relatively insignificant. Which is fine - I'm increasing traffic month-by-month (though I'll have a lot of trouble topping August in September, I suspect.)

    But, even though I've not yet had that instalanche, I had something today that I think was even better. It's not going to generate anywhere near the volume on my blog that the Instapundit linking to me would, but I've got something to listen to, that I'll treasure for a long, long time. Today, in the opening monologue of the 3rd hour of the Rush Limbaugh show, Rush, El RUSHBO! himself, not only mentioned a post that I wrote, he mentioned me by name and read the entire thing!

    For the past week and a half, I've been a contributing blogger to the Media Research Center's new group blog, NewsBusters.org. Well, a post that I wrote yesterday afternoon on the AP's presidential approval poll (which I neglected to duplicate here) caught Rush's eye. And he read it.

    And I, of course, was not listening during that 5 minute stretch. About the only section of the show that I missed today, as I was listening while at work. But I found out, and I've got the audio, and I've listened to it several times. He did a great job reading it, and it was quite a thrill...

    | Links to this post

    Cinderella at 95...

    LOL! - from the Anchoress...

    | Links to this post

    Howard Dean - the gift (for the Republicans) that keeps on giving...

    DNC Chairman Howard Dean appeared on Face The Nation with Bob Schieffer on Sunday morning, and produced the normal, standard DNC talking points. Which is, of course, his job. But there are a couple of passages, noteworthy for hypocrisy and insanity. (Bob Schieffer, tough no-nonsense "journalist" called him on none of it, of course...)

    First, we have the issue of dead Americans in Iraq.
    SCHIEFFER: Governor Dean, polls are showing that people are losing confidence in the president's handling of the war in Iraq...a majority now believe it's left us more vulnerable, rather than less vulnerable, to the terrorists. But what do Democrats propose to do about it?

    Dr. HOWARD DEAN: Well, I think, first of all, we need a plan...Eighteen hundred and fifty Americans lose their lives because the president can't figure out what he's going to do, had no plan when we got there and has not plan when we get out


    5 minutes later...

    Mr. JOHN HARRIS (The Washington Post): Governor, you're the political leader of the Democratic Party. As you well know, many of the--your people in Congress, Democrats in Congress, voted for the war in 2002. Next year, 2006, do you expect this will be a good political issue for Democrats to run on, what you consider the president's failures on Iraq?

    Dr. DEAN: Well, we don't--I can't imagine using 1,850 lost American soldiers, who have died in defense of their country, using that as a political issue.

    He "can't imagine using 1850 lost American soldiers...as a political issue," despite the fact that he himself had done so 5 minutes earlier. Right.

    And he had a comment about women and Iraq that makes one wonder for his sanity. First, we'll start with an excerpt of a document from the US state department - Saddam Hussein Acknowledges Crimes Against Women
    Another woman with a husband and three children was beheaded without charge or trial. According to Amnesty International, her husband was wanted by the security authorities because of his alleged involvement in Islamist armed activities against the state. He managed to flee the country, but men belonging to Feda'iyye Saddam (the paramilitary unit) went to his house and found his wife, children, and mother-in-law. His wife was taken to the street and two men held her by the arms while a third pulled her head from behind and beheaded her in front of residents. The security men took the body and the head in a plastic bag and took away the children and the mother-in-law. Their fate remains unknown.

    Women are often raped in order to blackmail their relatives. Men who leave Iraq and join Iraqi opposition groups regularly receive videotapes showing the rape of a female relative. These tapes are intended to discourage Iraqi nationals abroad from engaging in opposition activities. Some authorities carry personnel cards identifying their official "activity" as the "violation of women's honor."


    Cut to Howard Dean:

    "...as of today, it looks like women will be worse off in Iraq than they were when Saddam Hussein was president of Iraq. That's a pretty sad commentary on this administration's ability to do anything right."
    - DNC Chairman Howard Dean, 8/14/2005 (Face The Nation)

    There's a sad commentary here, all right, but it's not what he's claiming it is...

    | Links to this post

    Monday, August 15, 2005

    The AP - Sheehan's PR firm...

    It would be an understatement to say that Cindy Sheehan, mother of a serviceman killed in Iraq, has gotten a lot of coverage in the past couple of weeks. The media, gathered in Crawford, Texas, at the site of President Bush's ranch, has devoted much of its time and energy to coverage of her "vigil," as she demands to meet with the President. The Associated Press has averaged almost 4 stories per day over the past 12 days on Sheehan and her mission.

    But, in addition to being a bereaved mother, Cindy Sheehan appears to also be a committed left-wing peace activist. One who has already met once with the President a year ago at Fort Lewis in Washington State. One who thinks that George Bush is a terrorist, that Israel should get out of Palestine, that we need to act now to prevent climate change and that the truth as to why we went to war, "the real answer...it was to make his buddies rich...it was about oil."


    But has any of that gotten covered? I decided to look at the AP releases for the past couple of weeks, since the President arrived in Texas. There have been 45 AP articles that mentioned Cindy Sheehan. 5 of them mentioned that she had already met with the President. None of them, not one, mentioned Michael Moore, her description of the US as promoting imperialism, her description of the President as running the "biggest terrorist outfit in the world," her belief that the war was for oil, her belief that Dick Cheney was profiteering, her demand that Isreal leave Palestine, or anything else that might lead a sentient being to think that this is something more than a grieving mother. In other words, the AP is acting, not as a news organization, but as a public relations firm for Cindy Sheehan.



    The following table shows the links to various searches on the AP newsfeed as hosted by Yahoo News, and the number of articles returned for each search term.


    AP Coverage of Cindy Sheehan in the last two weeks
    Search TermsHits

    Cindy Sheehan45

    Cindy Sheehan Fort Lewis5

    Cindy Sheehan Palestine0

    Cindy Sheehan Oil0

    Cindy Sheehan Halliburton0

    Cindy Sheehan "Michael Moore"0

    Cindy Sheehan Separated Husband Patrick0

    Cindy Sheehan Imperialism0

    Cindy Sheehan Ford0

    | Links to this post

    Monday Pythagorean Report



    AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 8/15/2005
    ProjectedActual

    R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

    Chicago4.82(6)3.99(2)0.585(1)674874417

    Anaheim4.78(7)3.98(1)0.582(2)684968490

    Oakland4.85(5)4.15(4)0.572(3)675067500

    Toronto4.95(4)4.24(6)0.57(4)67506156-6

    Boston5.74(1)4.98(10)0.564(5)655068473

    Cleveland4.64(10)4.2(5)0.545(6)64546355-1

    New York5.47(3)5.01(11)0.54(7)635364521

    Minnesota4.33(12)4.11(3)0.524(8)61566057-1

    Texas5.53(2)5.44(12)0.508(9)59585661-3

    Detroit4.56(11)4.59(7)0.497(10)58585561-3

    Baltimore4.65(9)4.91(9)0.475(11)566157601

    Seattle4.3(13)4.68(8)0.461(12)54624967-5

    Tampa Bay4.66(8)5.92(14)0.393(13)467246720

    Kansas City4.27(14)5.84(13)0.361(14)42743878-4




    Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
    Chicago10458

    Boston9666

    Anaheim9468

    Oakland9369

    New York8973




    Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
    Chicago10260

    Boston9567

    Anaheim9468

    Oakland9369

    New York8973




    Standings for the week
    ProjectedActual

    R/G(rank)RA/G(rank)Pythagorean(rank)WLWLLuck

    Anaheim6.83(2)3.67(4)0.758(1)5142-1

    Boston10.2(1)6(11)0.725(2)41501

    Toronto5.57(3)3.43(2)0.709(3)52520

    New York5.29(5)3.86(5)0.64(4)43521

    Cleveland5.17(6)4.5(8)0.563(5)33330

    Minnesota2.67(14)2.5(1)0.529(6)33330

    Tampa Bay4.33(7)4.33(7)0.5(7)33330

    Detroit4.33(7)4.5(8)0.483(8)33330

    Baltimore4.17(9)4.67(10)0.448(9)33421

    Chicago3.6(10)4.2(6)0.43(10)23230

    Oakland2.83(13)3.5(3)0.405(11)24331

    Texas5.57(3)9.57(14)0.271(12)2507-2

    Seattle3.33(12)6(11)0.254(13)24240

    Kansas City3.4(11)6.4(13)0.239(14)1405-1


    • It's not often that you'll see a team allow 6 runs per game and still go undefeated, but that's what the Red Sox did last week. The Texas Rangers, on the other hand, scored nearly 6 runs per game, and were 0-7.


    • The Red Sox lead in the division increased by 1 this week, from 3 1/2 to 4 1/2. But because they only played 5 games to the Yankees 7, they actually increased their lead by 2 in the loss column, to 5.


    • The White Sox are not scheduled to come back to the east coast. Apparently, the only off-day in common the rest of the way is September 5, and giving up that off-day would mean that the Red Sox play 30 straight days, which the players have to agree to. It would not be surprising to find that yesterday's game never gets made up.

    | Links to this post

    Saturday, August 13, 2005

    DNC talking points from the Post...

    According to Dana Milbank in the Washington Post, Democrats [are] Conflicted on Playing Rough, a headline that should be absolutely mystifying to anyone who has watched American politics over the past 40 years. From LBJ's "Daisy" ad to Ted Kennedy's assault on Robert Bork to the "Bush = Hitler" meme of the 2004 campaign, any conflicts that Democrats have had have been resolved, quickly and quietly, in favor of taking the low road.

    None of which has prevented spirited whining from the left every time the Republicans dare to play rough. Milbank's piece offers, without a hint of skepticism, both the Democratic self-congratulatory "we only take the high road" and more whining about the ads that they've had to put up with. The trigger for this piece was the scurrilous and false NARAL ad, an ad that even CNN eventually decided that it could not, in good conscience, keep running.
    Amid similar criticism against another controversial ad, most Republicans brushed aside demands to repudiate Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that had taken aim at John F. Kerry's war record. Some Democrats said the difference revealed on their side an ambivalence about modern political combat that helps explain why their party is out of power.

    "Republicans don't mind running an ad that's entirely false, but Democrats have never learned, and I'm not sure many of them want to learn, how to play that kind of politics," said Robert Shrum, an adviser to several Democratic presidential campaigns. NARAL had to pull the ad, he said, because "they weren't getting support from any substantial quarter."

    In the first place, there was never any compelling or convincing evidence produced that there was anything false or misleading in the Swift Boat Vet ads.

    In the second place, the leader of the Swift Boat Vets was a Democrat. It wasn't a Republican group, or a group that was, in general, supportive of Republicans. It was an anti-John Kerry group, period. Had the Democrats nominated any other candidate, the group would never have existed. NARAL would, on the other hand, have opposed any SCOTUS candidate nominated by President Bush.

    In the third place, there's no evidence introduced to support the contention that "Republicans don't mind running an ad that's entirely false." No evidence at all. Shrum says it, Milbank uncritically prints it.

    And there is more inaccuracy and inappropriate equivalence.
    In June, Democrats demanded that Bush aide Karl Rove apologize for saying that liberals wanted "therapy and understanding for our attackers." Rove refused to apologize, and Republicans leapt to his defense. Just before the Rove episode, Republicans demanded an apology from Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), the number two Democrat in the Senate, who likened U.S. treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay to techniques used by Nazis. Democrats joined in criticizing Durbin, who eventually delivered a tearful apology on the Senate floor.

    Rove didn't say ALL LIBERALS wanted "therapy and understanding," and it is not debatable that there were some who did. Durbin's rhetoric, on the other hand, was completely inappropriate. There was no legitimate comparison to be made between Guantanamo and the Gulag or the Nazi concentration camps or the Cambodian killing fields. Durbin's statement was reportedly played repeatedly on Al-jazeera, and damaged US interests.

    And while some Democrats did - eventually - "join in criticizing Durbin," it was by no means a majority position, and the timing suggests that it was also not a principled position. Durbin didn't apologize until there was some Democratic criticism, and that didn't come for a week, after the uproar became too loud to continue ignoring.

    Now, to be fair to Milbank, he does, down at the end of the article, address a couple of these issues.
    Few who remember the treatment of Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas or Newt Gingrich would assert that Democrats have trouble being mean. Nor are Democrats always inclined to eat their own: When Clinton was impeached, Democrats were almost unfailingly loyal, while Republicans have turned on party leaders such as Gingrich, Trent Lott and Bob Livingston.

    The problem is, many of the people reading the piece aren't going to get there. The headline, the opening paragraphs, the first quotes, it all creates a perception that the Democrats are the "high road" party and the Republicans aren't. They've printed a piece that essentially and uncritically repeats the standard DNC talking points, and the addition of a parenthetical "both parties do some bad stuff" at the end doesn't change that.

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    Presidential Vacation Timeline

    On Tuesday, August 2, the Washington Post ran a piece entitled "Vacationing Bush Poised to Set a Record," that starts this way:
    President Bush is getting the kind of break most Americans can only dream of -- nearly five weeks away from the office, loaded with vacation time.

    The president departed Tuesday for his longest stretch yet away from the White House, arriving at his Crawford ranch in the evening for a stretch of clearing brush, visiting with family and friends, and tending to some outside-the-Beltway politics. By historical standards, it is the longest presidential retreat in at least 36 years.

    This piece annoyed and irritated me. The President, I pointed out, doesn't really get to "vacation." He's getting daily briefings, he's always in charge, he's always responsible. There is, effectively, no vacation during the term of office.

    So I've decided to timeline this "vacation," to see whether it would qualify as "the kind of break most Americans can only dream of..." I'll be updating and bumping this daily for the next several weeks.


    • Tuesday, August 2 - The President's last day in Washington, as he prepares to go on "vacation" to his ranch in Texas.

    • Wednesday, August 3 - "On Wednesday, August 3, 2005, President George W. Bush addressed members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) at their 32nd Annual Meeting in Grapevine, Texas."

    • Thursday, August 4 - "President Bush gave Colombia President Alvaro Uribe a hearty handshake and several pats on the back as he welcomed him to his Texas ranch on Thursday...Drug trafficking, terrorism and trade topped the agenda for the meeting at the ranch..."

    • Saturday, August 6 - "President Bush is taking a quick break from vacationing at his Texas ranch to stir up enthusiasm about the economy...'Our economy is strong, yet I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job,' Bush said Saturday in his weekly radio address, taped at the ranch where he'll meet with his economic team on Tuesday."

    • Monday, August 8 - "As crude oil prices hit a new high Monday, President Bush signed a bill that will give billions in tax breaks to encourage homegrown energy production but won't quickly reduce high gasoline prices or the nation's dependence on foreign oil..."This bill is not going to solve our energy challenges overnight," Bush said in a speech shortly before he signed the 1,724-page bill at the Sandia National Laboratories. ...Before signing the bill, Bush toured the Energy Department's national solar thermal test facility, which was built in 1976 in response to the oil embargo and energy crisis. Bush walked in a field of mirrored solar panels, wearing shirt sleeves and sunglasses to ward off the bright midday sun...Bush traveled from his Texas ranch to sign the bill in the home state of Republican Sen. Pete Domenici, the chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Domenici was the driving force in ending a four-year standoff in Congress and getting the measure passed with bipartisan support last month."

    • Tuesday, August 9 - "Bush, Economic Team Gather at Texas Ranch - President Bush, upbeat about reports showing steady economic growth, is mapping out a fall agenda that includes reviving the debate over Social Security and pushing to overhaul the nation's tax code."

      Also on Tuesday,
      • Bush spoke to reporters on foreign policy issues: "Bush said he got word Tuesday that the newly elected president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said he is willing to negotiate with other nations amid concerns that his country is developing nuclear weapons.

        'Just as I was walking here, I received word that the new president said he was willing to get back to the table,' Bush told reporters at his Texas ranch."

      • Appointed Zell Miller to a seat on the American Battle Monuments Commission

      • named Eric S. Edelman to be undersecretary of defense for policy

    • Wednesday, August 10 - Traveled to Illinois to sign the transportation bill into law.

    • Thursday, August 11 - Met with members of his foreign policy and national defense teams, and spoke to reporters afterwards. Signed a bill creating electronic prescription monitoring

    • Friday, August 11 - Attended a fund-raiser, (presumably) recorded his Saturday radio address, (presumably) spent sometime in a Presidential daily briefing

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    Friday, August 12, 2005

    The "all gay, all the time" Boston Globe

    In some corners, the Boston Globe is referred to as being "all gay, all the time." When the Goodridge case was working it's way through the Massachusetts court system, the Boston Globe was a vocal and frequent supporter of gay marriage. And it shows in their coverage. Earlier in the week, there was a front-page story about a Lutheran bishop heading a panel on sexual issues, primarily gay marriage. And there's another same-sex marriage related front-page story in Friday's Globe. It didn't need to be a "same-sex couple" story, it didn't need to be a front page story. But, again, we're talking about the Boston Globe.
    Boston's beloved pair of swans -- feted by city leaders, residents, and tourists alike as one of the Hub's most celebrated summer attractions -- are a same-sex couple. Yes, scientific tests have shown that the pair, named Romeo and Juliet, are really Juliet and Juliet.

    That's right. There are a pair of female swans in the Boston Public Garden, and the Boston Globe deems that to be a front-page story.
    A visitor from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., suggested that the city should try to have one of next year's eggs fertilized so that Romeo and Juliet could become same-sex parents. ''I'm sure they'd probably be perfect parents," said L.D. Hollingsworth, smiling as he watched the swans grooming themselves.

    Some same-sex marriage advocates hoped the swans' celebrity would not be diminished by the revelation of their same-sex status.

    Marty Rouse, campaign director of MassEquality, said in a telephone interview: ''We should still cherish and love our swans, no matter whom they choose to swim with."

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    New York Times changing quotes - again...

    A couple of years ago, there was a bit of a media firestorm, at least on the web, when New York Times' columnist Maureen Dowd was caught removing a portion of a comment that the President made. The omission rendered a clear and straightforward statement as a delusional and misleading one. Eventually the Times was forced to "correct" the quote.

    Well, the New York times is "Dowdifying" quotes again, leaving out crucial information with no indication that they're doing so. Only now, instead of merely doing it in a Maureen Dowd opinion piece, which is bad enough, they're doing it in an actual news story. (Big tip of the hat to Michelle Malkin, who's been all over this story.)

    As anyone who's been paying attention on the internet knows, the liberal Air America radio network has been operating, in part, on a "loan" of $875,000 from a Bronx Boys and Girls Club. Anyone reading the New York Times did not know it until today, and still doesn't know much. In any event, Franken spoke about the story on the air yesterday, and the Times quoted him. Sort of.

    From the Times story:
    "I don't know why he did it," Mr. Franken said, according to a transcript of the broadcast made by the Department of Investigation. "I don't know where the money went. I don't know if it was used for operations. I think he was borrowing from Peter to pay Paul."


    Actual quote:
    "I don't know why they did it and I don't know where the money went. I don't know if it was used for, uh, operations, which I imagine it was. I think he was robbing Peter to pay Paul."

    (Brainster's blog has an .mp3 of Franken's comments, if anyone wants to hear them.)
    There are two differences there.

    1) The Times reported "borrowing from" where Franken actually said "robbing."

    2) The Times omitted entirely the comment that "I imagine it was [used for operations]."

    Each of the changes softens the meaning of the quote. And the changes allow them to make one more slam at the right side of the blogosphere.
    Nonetheless, word of the investigations ignited a firestorm of criticism on the Internet, especially among conservative-leaning blogs that have essentially accused the network of robbing from the poor to pay its bills.

    As the actual quote shows, it isn't merely "conservative-leaning blogs" accusing the network of robbing from the poor - it's also liberal Air America radio hosts...

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    Thursday, August 11, 2005

    AP repeating CBS mistake

    The Associated Press is today repeating a mistake that CBS made in May. The AP story which just went out, Fraud Indictment Expected for Abramoff, focuses several times on GOP House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and his relationship with Abramoff.
    Federal prosecutors are seeking bank fraud charges against lobbyist Jack Abramoff, a key figure in investigations involving House Majority Leader Tom DeLay
    ...
    DeLay, R-Texas, was not mentioned in any lawsuits involved in the SunCruz deal.

    DeLay has asked the House Ethics Committee to review allegations that Abramoff or his clients paid some of DeLay's overseas travel expenses. DeLay has denied knowing that the expenses were paid by Abramoff, whom he once described as "one of my closest and dearest friends."

    So Tom Delay is mentioned, by name, four times in a story on a lawsuit that is unrelated to him in any way. The only connection to Delay is that Abramoff paid for some travel costs of Delay's that the Democrats brought before the House Ethics Committee.

    And Abramoff, as reported in the Washington Post back in May, did the same thing for Democratic representatives as well. The MRC issued a cyber-alert when CBS failed to acknowledge the Democratic contributions in a piece on Abramoff in May, and the AP is doing exactly the same thing in the story it issued today. Is it a story that federal prosecutors are seeking bank fraud charges against a major Washington Lobbyist? Yes, it is. (Not a particularly surprising story, but a story nonetheless.) But is it reasonable to focus on one representative from one party, while ignoring entirely anyone of the other party who might also have had a relationship with the lobbyist? No, it is not. This is not a partisan event, and the AP is implying that it is.

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    The AP discovers Cindy Sheehan...sort of

    Cindy Sheehan, the Vacaville, CA woman whose son was killed in Iraq in 2004, has been a major media phenomenon for the past several days since she showed up outside the President's ranch in Texas. But looking at the latest release from the AP, Grieving Mother's War Protest Draws Notice, you'd think they were breaking news.
    The mother of a fallen U.S. soldier who started a quiet roadside peace vigil near President Bush's ranch last weekend is drawing supporters from across the nation. Dozens of people have joined her and others have sent flowers and food. One activist called her "the Rosa Parks of the anti-war movement."


    Cindy Sheehan, 48, of Vacaville, Calif., says she was surprised at the response.

    "Before my son was killed, I used to think that one person could not make a difference," she said Wednesday under a tent where she has slept since Saturday. "But one person that is surrounded and supported by millions of people can be heard."

    In the process of running this story, they're completely ignoring all of the information that has come out about her. They mention the previous meeting with Bush, but none of the comments that she made at the time or the comments of others who were at that meeting. There's no mention of the radical left-wing anti-war group that she "founded," or the article she had published in June in which she said "the biggest threat to our safety, humanity, and our way of life in America are George and his cronies." No mention of how she arrived in Crawford on a bus emblazoned with "Impeachment Tour." Nope, just another average American bereaved mother...

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    Wednesday, August 10, 2005

    Baseball odds and ends

    A few baseball tidbits catch my eye this morning.

    • An arbitrator has cut Kenny Rogers' suspension to 13 games, which happens to be how many Texas has played from the suspension starting to the arbitration hearing. There's no word on what would have happened had the hearing taken place after 7 games, or 9 games.

      "I strongly disagree with arbitrator Das' decision today. It sends the wrong message to every one of our constituents: the fans, the media, and our players. There is a standard of behavior that is expected of our players, which was breached in this case. The arbitrator's decision diminishes that standard and is contrary to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement. In my opinion, the decision is seriously ill-conceived."
      - Bud Selig

      I couldn't agree more. Rogers was way, way out of line, and a 20-game suspension was not only reasonable, it was downright conservative. Remember that we're talking about a starting pitcher here, a pitcher who has now, as a result of his assault, in uniform, on the field, missed all of 3 starts...

      Update: David Pinto has some more extensive thoughts on the Rogers situation - I agree...


    • There were (at least) two teams who failed to hold on to 7-2 leads last night. One was a pretty good team, the Boston Red Sox, who won anyway. The other was a bad team, the Kansas City Royals, who didn't.

      The Red Sox took a 7-2 lead into the 7th, then brought newly acquired Mike Remlinger in to the game. 4 batters later (double, single, walk, error) it was 7-3 with the bases loaded. A couple of ground balls, a couple more hits tied the score, but Mike Myers got out of the inning, Mike Timlin and Curt Schilling combined for 3 scoreless innings, and the Red Sox scored in the 10th to win it, 8-7.

      The Royals took a 7-2 lead into the 9th at home against the Cleveland Indians. Here we go to the play-by-play (courtesy Sportsline):
      Mike McDougal pitching:
      Casey Blake: Foul, Blake doubled hard to left.
      Grady Sizemore: Strike looking, Ball, Sizemore doubled to deep left, Blake scored.
      Coco Crisp: Ball, Strike looking, Crisp singled to center, Sizemore scored.
      Jhonny Peralta: Foul, Ball, Foul, Peralta struck out looking.
      Travis Hafner: Ball, Hafner doubled to deep right, Crisp to third.
      Victor J. Martinez: Foul, Ball, Foul, Martinez singled to left center, Crisp scored, Hafner to third
      Ramon Vazquez ran for Victor J. Martinez.
      Ron Belliard: Ball, Belliard safe at first on shortstop Berroa's fielding error, Hafner scored, Vazquez out at second
      Jeff Liefer hit for Ben Broussard.
      Jeff Liefer: Foul, Strike looking, Foul, Ball, Liefer safe at first on left fielder Ambres' fielding error, Belliard scored, Liefer to second.
      Aaron Boone: Boone doubled to left, Liefer scored.
      Jimmy Gobble relieved Mike M. MacDougal.
      Casey Blake: Ball, Ball, Ball, Blake intentionally walked.
      Grady Sizemore: Sizemore singled to right, Boone and Blake scored, Sizemore to second on right fielder Brown's fielding error.
      Coco Crisp: Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Ball, Foul, Foul, Crisp walked.
      Jhonny Peralta: Strike swinging, Foul, Foul, Ball, Peralta homered hard to left center, Sizemore and Crisp scored.
      Travis Hafner: Ball, Ball, Strike swinging, Strike looking, Hafner struck out swinging.


      The big play in that inning was on the Liefer at-bat. With two outs, and the Royals still holding on to a 7-6 lead, Liefer hit a fly ball that left-fielder Chip Ambres tracked down on the warning track. And dropped. Rather than ending the game, the play resulted in the game being tied. The Indians went on to score 6 more, bringing their total for the 9th to 11, and winning the game 13-7.


    • Last night's Texas starting pitcher, Joaquin Benoit, holds the Major League record for the longest "save," having pitched 7 innings in a game against Baltimore in 2002. When that was mentioned on the Red Sox radio broadcast, I had to stop and think about it for a minute. Eventually you get to the point where you wonder "how is that possible?" In order to qualify for a save, he can't be the winning pitcher, so someone else had to get the win, and it couldn't be the starter, as a starter has to go 5 innings to qualify for a win. Obviously, it can't be an extra-inning game, because the Rangers had to have held the lead for the entire 7 innings. So Benoit, to get a 7-inning save, had to come into a game with no outs in the 3rd, as (at least) the 3rd Ranger pitcher, with a reliever having pitched well enough to get the win. "How," I thought again, "is that possible?"

      God Bless Retrosheet. Here's the box score from Texas at Baltimore, September 3, 2002. And what happened is this - after Alex Rodriguez was hit by a pitch in the top of the first, Rangers' starter Aaron Myette threw two pitches behind Melvin Mora, the first Oriole batter, and was ejected by home plate umpire Mark Hirschbeck. Todd Van Poppel came in and threw two more balls to Mora, walked the next batter as well, then struck out the next 3 batters, and 2 of the 3 that he faced in the 2nd. Meanwhile, the Rangers scored 3 in the 2nd and 1 in the 3rd, so when Benoit came in to start the 3rd, he had a 4-run lead, and Van Poppel was the pitcher of record, having been the pitcher when Texas took the lead for good. And Benoit's 7 innings of 1-run relief got him in to the record books, with a record that is unlikely to be broken...

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