...it's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there...

October 31, 2006

The Botched Senator

Sen. John Kerry:

You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.
Sen. John McCain:
If you offend somebody, whether you intend to or not, you should apologize.
Sen. John Kerry:
I apologize to no one for my criticism of the President and his broken policy.
Listen, I want to believe the argument that John Kerry didn't really mean to insult our all volunteer military servicemen and women. If it were any other guy, without John Kerry's history, I might be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But given that John Kerry began his political career by throwing his military ribbons over the White House fence in protest over a military service which he claimed led to widespread and systematic atrocities — which he later admitted that he never witnessed, and which were later proven to have been completely made up — I sincerely doubt that his "explanation" is genuine.

If John Kerry intended to insult the president with his "botched joke," why then are the words "president" or "Bush" nowhere to be found within the text of that joke?

If John Kerry really fucked up the script so badly, why then didn't he immediately clarify himself? We've all been in that situation. When I mis-speak, and inadvertently give offense, that's what I do. It's customary, even through embarrassment, to say, "I'm sorry, what I meant to say was..." But Kerry didn't do that until the firestorm began this morning. Now that he's busted, it's a little hard to believe his denials.

Here's an instructive thought experiment. What if, instead of touching the third rail of conservative politics by insulting the troops, John Kerry's "botched joke" had imputed stupidity to African Americans? Would he then have apologized quickly and repeatedly? You bet your ass he would have, and he'd have done it based on John McCain's maxim I quoted above: "If you offend somebody, whether you intend to or not, you should apologize." The fact that John Kerry, even now after "admitting" he made a mistake, still refuses to apologize to the American military he claims to respect so much, is tantamount to insulting them a second time. He doesn't think they're worth the courtesy.

What really happened is that John Kerry had a "Dixie Chicks" moment. Like Natalie Maines in England, Kerry thought he had a sympathetic audience of liberal college students to whom he could pander, by sharing a little inside humor. "Heh, heh, I know you guys despise the military and think they're dummies. I do too. Ain't I cool? Vote for Angelides."

Should any of this matter? Probably not, since Kerry can't be voted out of office this year. (Personally, I think Kerry should be forced to resign from his seat on the Committee on Foreign Relations. Nobody with his history of undisguised contempt for American military personnel should be allowed to sit on such a committee, with that body's concomitant influence over the deployment of those same soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen.) But that's a different question from whether any of this will matter. And I hope it does. Not only because it may forestall the Democratic takeover I predicted earlier, but because Kerry's latest blunder probably and irrevocably scuttled any hope he might have had of trying for his party's nomination in '08. Democratic power brokers will never ever forgive him for this gaffe, nor should any of us.

Update: Kerry apologizes.

[Technorati tag: ; cross-posted at The Cotillion]

Posted by annika at 08:31 PM | Comments (25) | TrackBack

I Go On The Record

I've been following the polls and the elections closely, but until now I've avoided making any predictions. Now, a week out, I'm ready to cut through all the MSM's pro-Democratic propaganda and all the pie-in-the-sky optimism from the right wing press.

Here are my predictions. The Senate looks tight, but I think it will take a miracle for the Republicans to retain control. By my calculations, it will be a 50/50 split after next Tuesday. Republicans will lose in MT, OH, NJ, PA and RI. I think Corker will beat Ford, keeping TN Republican, but I could be wrong about that. In MD, Steele deserves to win, and though I mistrust polls generally, they can't be that far off. I don't think Steele will do it.

An evenly divided Senate is a de facto Democratic majority, since there are enough turncoat RINOs in the Senate to do Harry Reid's bidding. The Dems also know how to play rough and they will insist on some sort of accomodation on committee chairs. Republican Senate leaders, never known for stiff spines, will cave in to these demands.

As for the House, I have just two words for you: trust Gerrymandering. The Republicans will hold the House.

Divided government here we come. Now maybe in peacetime, a Democrat Senate was tolerable, but Kerry's despicable anti-military insults yesterday illustrate clearly why the Democrats cannot be trusted with any position of leadership.

Posted by annika at 10:23 AM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

Halloween is Poetry Day: The Raven

For this Very Special Halloween episode of Poetry Day, I offer a poem by the Original American Master of the Macabre, Edgar Allan Poe. Some find this poem scary, and while the setting and word choice are certainly not cheery, in the end I find this tale of a lonely widower lamenting his beloved (but dead) wife sad rather than frightening.

If you like, you may go to this page to hear Basil Rathbone read "The Raven." Versions are available in mp3 and Real Audio formats.

The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
" 'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door;
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow, sorrow for the lost Lenore,.
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore,
Nameless here forevermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me---filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
" 'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door,
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door.
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is, I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you." Here I opened wide the door;---
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word,
Lenore?, This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word,
"Lenore!" Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping, something louder than before,
"Surely," said I, "surely, that is something at my window lattice.
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore.
Let my heart be still a moment, and this mystery explore.
" 'Tis the wind, and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven, of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door.
Perched upon a bust of Pallas, just above my chamber door,
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly, grim, and ancient raven, wandering from the nightly shore.
Tell me what the lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore."
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning, little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door,
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered; not a feather then he fluttered;
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "Other friends have flown before;
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master, whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster, till his songs one burden bore,---
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never---nevermore."

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore --
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

Thus I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl, whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee -- by these angels he hath
Sent thee respite---respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, O quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore!"

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!--prophet still, if bird or devil!
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate, yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted--
On this home by horror haunted--tell me truly, I implore:
Is there--is there balm in Gilead?--tell me--tell me I implore!"
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil--prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that heaven that bends above us--by that God we both adore--
Tell this soul with sorrow laden, if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden, whom the angels name Lenore---
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels name Lenore?
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting--
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! -- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the raven, "Nevermore."

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming.
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted---nevermore!

Posted by Victor at 05:51 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 30, 2006

More Tips For Voters

Don't like waiting in line? Here's an idea, idiots. Get to your polling place early.

Here's another idea. Vote absentee.

When I go to the Post Office and there's a long line, it doesn't mean I'm being discriminated against. It just means there's a lot of customers. And if I show up at the Post Office at 5:00 and they shut the door in my face, it just means that I should have got there earlier.

Another thing, idiots. If you can't figure out the ballot, fucking ask somebody to help you. Or study the sample ballot before you show up.

It ain't that hard. If voting is so important to you that you are ready to scream disenfranchisement at the drop of a hat, why not take the time to avoid problems by planning ahead.

Unless of course, crying fraud is part of your strategy for winning.

P.S. If you're one of the unfortunate voters who has to use one of these beasts, and you encounter problems, blame Florida and disregard the above. I've never trusted the idea of computer voting, its an example of knee-jerk overreaction to a nonexistent problem.

Posted by annika at 11:30 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Cotillion News

It's been a while since the last Cotillion carnival, but Beth of Blue Star Chronicles has done a wonderful job of collecting the best recent posts from the premiere group of female bloggers. Go check out Cotillion Colloquy. I'm in there!

Project Valour-IT is fundraising again. Superblogger Beth of My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy is on the Marines team, though she's an Air Force veteran. And our very own A-List blogger Cassandra is leading the Marines team.

Every cent raised for Project Valour-IT goes directly to the purchase and shipment of voice-activated laptops for wounded servicemembers. As of October 2006, Valour-IT has distributed nearly 600 laptops to severely wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines across the country.

During its initial phase, Valour-IT created “libraries” of laptops equipped with voice-controlled software for the severely wounded staying at major military medical centers. In many cases a laptop was provided to a wounded hero for permanent use.

Click on one of the links and donate whatever you can for this great project.

Art and jewelry collectors take note: Holly Aho (a huge supporter of Soldiers' Angels by the way) has opened a new online store with here original artwork and jewelry. Go send her some love.

Posted by annika at 09:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Monday Night Football Pick, Week VIII

New England at Minnesota. Patriots favored by 2½ points. The opening line was closer, at 1½ points. To me, this signals that the crowd is going with NE, and I agree. On turnovers, balanced running game, and quality of their quarterback and coaching, New England is the superior team. I'll take them to cover the spread.

Result: Patriots crush the Vikings. I'm now 5 and 3!

Posted by annika at 03:43 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 29, 2006

A Guide For Voters

Here are my California ballot proposition recommendations. It might be interesting to you, even if you're not from California, since it provides an insight into the workings of my political mind.

As I've said before, I have an easy way to decide on any bond issues. I vote no as a rule on every bond measure, no matter how tempting it sounds (with one exception, I vote yes on all prison bonds*). It seems to me that bond measures are a way for this state's government to spend beyond its means, even though excessive spending is its biggest problem. My philosophy is that the legislature should do its job and prioritize the budget so we won't have to rely on bonds to get things done.

I'm also sick and tired of two or three school improvement bonds every time we have an election. They generally win, because nobody (except me) wants to vote to keep kids learning under leaky roofs and without enough crayons or construction paper. Yet every election, the schools hold out their hand for more. Whatever happened to the promise that the California Lottery was supposed to solve all our school problems? I'm told that "Our schools win too" was the motto back in '84 when the lottery initiative passed. Well, I for one won't play that game anymore. Whatever they're doing with all that money isn't working, so let's cut off the spigot and force them to try something else.

Here's the propositions on the statewide ballot:

Prop 1A: TRANSPORTATION FUNDING PROTECTION This initiative would force the government to use gasoline sales tax revenues for transportation improvements only, instead of dumping that money into the general fund so the legislature can squander it as they love to do. I vote YES.

Prop 1B: HIGHWAY SAFETY, TRAFFIC REDUCTION, AIR QUALITY, AND PORT SECURITY BOND Here's an example of a bond measure with worthy goals, which I will reject simply because of my hard and fast rule about bond measures. If the legislature would do its job, cut the frivolous spending, and cut regulation and taxes to keep businesses from fleeing the state, we'd have enough money to do this kind of shit without mortgaging our future with 39 billion more in bond debt. I vote NO.

Prop 1C: HOUSING AND EMERGENCY SHELTER TRUST FUND More bonds. Hey, I'm all for helping out battered women and their kids, low-income seniors, the disabled, military veterans, and working families. But again, if this is such a priority, the legislature should find a way to do it without adding to the bond debt. Otherwise, let's encourage private charities to continue their good work in this area. I know that there are many fine non-profits that help battered women and provide shelter for their families, because I did pro-bono work for one of them last year. I vote NO.



Prop 83: SEX OFFENDERS. SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATORS. PUNISHMENT, RESIDENCE RESTRICTIONS AND MONITORING This initiative tightens punishment and monitoring of violent sexual predators. Again, where was the legislature on this? Why is such an important public safety issue being left up to the initiative process? A definite YES vote.

Prop 84: WATER QUALITY, SAFETY AND SUPPLY, FLOOD CONTROL, NATURAL RESOURCE PROTECTION, PARK IMPROVEMENTS, BONDS All important and worthy goals, which I support — Just not by increasing the bond debt. I sound like a broken record here. I vote NO.

Prop 85: WAITING PERIOD AND PARENTAL NOTIFICATION BEFORE TERMINATION OF MINOR’S PREGNANCY This proposition would require a doctor to notify parents when a minor comes in for an abortion, with certian exceptions. If I had a kid, I'd want to know if she was going to have an abortion. I don't care if some other kid doesn't have a good relationship with her parent. I'd want to know about my daughter. It's that simple. I vote YES.

Prop 86: TAX ON CIGARETTES This initiative would add $2.60 in taxes to each pack of cigarettes. Right now, they're about $5 a pack. If this initiative passes, a pack would cost more than it does in New York City. I was shocked at the cost of cigarettes during my last trip to New York. I suppose I should favor this proposition because it might motivate me to quit. But realistically, even though I grumbled, I still paid the seven bucks when I was in New York. I generally oppose sin taxes, because they encourage the black market. We already have enough problems with drugs and illegal aliens coming across the border without creating a whole new market for contraband. I vote NO.

Prop 87: ALTERNATIVE ENERGY. RESEARCH, PRODUCTION, INCENTIVES. TAX ON CALIFORNIA OIL PRODUCERS This is the most controversial measure on California's ballot. President Clinton is doing tv spots in favor of this plan, which would create a whole new alternative energy research bureaucracy funded by a tax on oil drilling in California. The opposition ads are disingenuous because they do not say that the law would prevent oil companies from passing on the tax to the consumer. It sounds tempting, especially to those who don't understand economics. But when you do the research, this proposition reveals itself as one of the worst ideas to come down the pike in a long time. Virtually every major newspaper to opine on the issue agrees that it's a horrible idea. And I'm talking the San Francisco Chronicle, the L.A. Times, the Sacramento Bee, the O.C. Register and the Wall Street Journal. That's a pretty wide sampling of the editorial spectrum there. I'd encourage anybody undecided on this measure to read those editorials, which can be found here. As much as we'd all like to stick it to the oil companies, It doesn't make much sense to punish them for developing domestic oilfields in order to achieve energy independence. If it's no longer profitable to drill in California, guess where our oil will come from? That's right, overseas. I also have a problem with the prohibition against passing the new tax on to the consumer. In my view, the way to encourage alternative energy sources is to let the free market work. High gas prices are the best way to create a demand for the new technology, not a poorly regulated and graft ridden new bureaucracy. I vote NO.

Prop 88: EDUCATION FUNDING. REAL PROPERTY PARCEL TAX The schools got their hand out again. They're like the cookie monster, except it's not Chips Ahoy they want, it's your money. This time they want to add $50 to everybody's property tax bill. If we let them, next year it will be another $50 or maybe $100. Just say NO.

Prop 89: POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS, PUBLIC FINANCING, CORPORATE TAX INCREASE, CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION AND EXPENDITURE LIMITS Another corporate tax increase at a time when California needs to stop business from fleeing out of state. How is that a good idea? And how is it a good idea to make it harder for ordinary Californians to run for office by requiring "a specified number of $5.00 contributions from voters?" This initiative also puts limits on political contributions to state candidates, which is a free speech issue. I vote NO.

Prop 90: GOVERNMENT ACQUISITION, REGULATION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY The last ballot initiative is the Protect Our Homes Act, which I first heard about from Tim Sandefur. This is the anti-Kelo initiative. It would basically prevent the state government from using its eminent domain power to grab your property and give it to some corporation, which is what happened in the Kelo case. If you hated Kelo, vote for this. I vote YES.

There you have it. Since I encourage all my blog's visitors to be in complete agreement with me, I suggest that you Californians print out this post and take it with you on November 7th.

* The reason I vote against school bonds and for prison bonds is not because I'm a heartless bitch. I understand the argument that better schools may lead to fewer criminals. But school bonds always win, and yet we still need prisons. Insofar as my one vote can be a message, I plan to send that message. Where school bonds are concerned, my message is that the state should use the gobs of money we send them for schools each year more wisely. As for prisons, they're an unpopular but necessary part of our infrastucture, and my message is that I want them built. As the late Ann Richards said of Texas' vast prison system, when asked what kind of a message it sent to the world: "If you commit a crime in Texas, it means we got a place to put you."

Posted by annika at 10:35 AM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

October 28, 2006

OSU Lends Cal A Hand

Or more specifically, Beaver DE Jeff Van Orsow lends Cal a hand, by batting away John David Booty's last ditch pass to send the game into OT. Beavers win (despite wearing the NCAA's ugliest uniform) and Cal moves into sole possession of first place in the Pac-10.

Thanks Beevs!

Posted by annika at 04:28 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

Pumpkin Nation

Here it is, the long-awaited first music video from Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin!

I call it "Pumpkin Nation." It's a poignant story of love triangulation, set to a pulsating beat.

From Paris Hilton to David Hasselhoff and William Shatner, it's natural for cultural icons to branch out into the world of music video. Peter Pumpkin is no exception. So gimme a break.

Related: How to carve a pumpkin, Klingon style! Here are some other ideas for Halloween. via Kevin.

Posted by annika at 08:41 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 27, 2006

Hardball Hardon


Chris Matthews has been obsessing over the chick from the Ford ad all week. I think he's smitten. He keeps calling her "sexy, sexy, naked, naked, very alluring, sexy, naked," etc.

But she just isn't that hot. Seriously, I don't even think Casca would go after her. Well, maybe after a few Bacardi and Cokes, I don't know.

More: In Australia, there is a conservative politician running for a seat in a district named, coincidentally, Forde. Her name is Hajnal Ban and she is something.

via AWH

Posted by annika at 08:52 PM | Comments (16) | TrackBack

October 26, 2006

Same Shit Different Day

And just in case you thought a cease fire in the north meant peace all over Israel, think again.

Just because the anti-semitic media in this country doesn't deem it news don't meant this shit ain't still happening almost every fucking day.

P.S. The comments under the article are crazy. Man, if a Kassam rocket landed in my yard, but I was only "lightly injured" do you think I would: a) say "no harm no foul," and go on with my day, or b) get pissed as hell and start screaming nonstop until I saw warplanes flying back from Gaza with empty hardpoints.

via Morning Coffee

Posted by annika at 09:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Danish Court Dismisses Jihadi Lawsuit Over Cartoons

Score one for our side.

"It cannot be ruled out that the drawings have offended some Muslims' honor, but there is no basis to assume that the drawings are, or were conceived as, insulting or that the purpose of the drawings was to present opinions that can belittle Muslims," the court said.

The seven Muslim groups filed the defamation lawsuit against the paper in March, after Denmark's top prosecutor declined to press criminal charges, saying the drawings did not violate laws against racism or blasphemy.

The plaintiffs, who claimed to have the backing of 20 more Islamic organizations in the Scandinavian country, had sought $16,860 in damages from Jyllands-Posten Editor in Chief Carsten Juste and Culture Editor Flemming Rose, who supervised the cartoon project.

What they need to do now is get rid of the stupid law that allows people to sue for "belittling Muslims."

h/t Right Thinking Girl

Posted by annika at 08:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 25, 2006

Breaking News




A boy got stuck inside a friggin' toy machine today! Can you believe it?

Crazy kids. Whattayagonnado?

After dropping $20 in quarters, Dad finally gave up 'cuz the stupid claw thing kept dropping the kid. "Those damn things are rigged," he was heard saying as he drove away in frustration.

Charles E. Cheese could not be reached for comment.


Posted by annika at 11:32 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Max Headroom Gets Political

This is so wrong on too many levels.

Posted by annika at 08:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

My E-Mail From San Fran Nan

I got an e-mail from Nancy Pelosi today. No lie. I'm on some Democrat list, inexplicably. I thought it was a weird e-mail because it was titled "what we need to do," yet she pretty much avoided mentioning any of the key issues of the day. So much for a Democratic version of the Contract With America.

Here is the entire text of the e-mail:

Dear annika,

You know how high the stakes are -- so I'll get right to the point: there's never been a more critical time to highlight the priorities everyday Americans share.

Right now, working families suffer because corporate lobbyists write the laws. Our seniors can't get the drugs they need because the drug companies get everything they want. And President Bush continues to threaten one of our society's greatest accomplishments -- Social Security -- with his risky privatization schemes.

Congress needs to focus on an agenda that benefits the American people:

* Impose new rules and regulations to break the link between lobbyists and legislation
* Allow the government to negotiate with drug companies and fix Medicare Part D
* Stop Social Security and Medicare privatization plans in their tracks
* Raise the minimum wage to $7.25
* Cut the interest rates on student loans in half
* Roll back subsidies to Big Oil and gas companies
* Enact all the recommendations made by the independent 9/11 Commission

And that all needs to be done in the first 100 hours!

Working together, we will make that happen. Please help Americans United today:


There's a lot at stake in the coming weeks, but we must never lose focus on the task at hand: building a better country. Your work changes the national debate, raising awareness about the misplaced priorities of the current leadership.

Last year, Americans United led the national media campaign against Social Security privatization -- and won.

Now, with so much more at stake, will you help us win again?


Onward to victory.

Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Leader, U.S. House of Representatives

That's it?

(It's nice that the Democrats want to cut student loan rates in half, but if you can't afford 8% over thirty years with the almost unlimited deferment schemes available, something is seriously wrong with your post college career path.)

I'm sorry but that was a weird e-mail. It's weird because she said absolutely nothing about the big issues that people are arguing about — the issues that are going to get people off their ass and down to the voting booth less than two weeks from now.

She said nothing about Iraq.

Nothing about the War on Terror.

Nothing about impeachment.

Nothing about tax cuts.

Nothing about gay marriage.

Nothing about abortion.

Nothing about crime.

Nothing about North Korea.

Nothing about Iran.

Nothing about the border.

The Democrats are either a party with no agenda or a party with a hidden agenda. Either way, they absolutely cannot be trusted with a majority.

Posted by annika at 07:40 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

St. Crispin's Day

Today represents a confluence of five favorite blog themes: poetry, drama, politics, history and religion. Today is St. Crispin's Day. Wikipedia says this about Saints Crispin and Crispinian.

Crispin and Crispinian were once the Catholic patron saints of cobblers, tanners, and leather workers. Born to a noble Roman family in the 3rd century AD, Saints Crispin and Crispinian, twin brothers, fled persecution for their faith, winding up in Soissons, where they preached Christianity to the Gauls and made shoes by night. Their success attracted the ire of Rictus Varus, the governor of Belgic Gaul, who had them tortured and beheaded c. 286. In the 6th century, a church was built in their honor at Soissons.

The feast day of Saints Crispin and Crispinian is October 25. However, these saints were removed from the liturgical calendar (but not declared to no longer be saints) during the Catholic Church's Vatican II reforms.

The reasoning used by Vatican II for this decision was that there was insufficient evidence that Saints Crispin and Crispinian actually existed. Indeed, their role as shoemakers, their relationship as twins, and the timing of their holiday are suggestive of the possibility that they could have represented a local Celtic deity (Lugus-Mercurius) which had been made into a saint as a result of syncretism. [links omitted]

You may not know about the Catholic feast day, but I hope you know about the most famous speech from Shakespeare's Henry V, the St. Crispin's Day Speech. I posted that speech back during the Battle of Fallujah in 2004. Today I am reminded of the appeasers and the "cut-and-run" crowd by this famous line:
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
Celebrate St. Crispin's by watching Kenneth Branagh recite the Bard's poetry:

And let's not forget too, that 62 years ago was day three of the biggest naval battle in history, the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Posted by annika at 10:43 AM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Wednesday is Bad Poetry Day: NASCAR Poetry

In case regular readers of Annika's Journal haven't noticed, she has left Poetry Day in my hands. Since I can do whatever I like with Poetry Day, I've declared the last Wednesday of the month will be dedicated to Bad Poetry. This week: NASCAR Poetry.

A few weeks ago, I had some fun at NASCAR's expense, asking, "Notice there's no real good NASCAR poetry out there?" Believe me, there's not (I looked. Lord, how I looked!) and I doubt there ever will be.

I state this because NASCAR isn't a sport that lends itself to poetry. I realize there is strategy and drama and winners and losers, but the sport in and of itself isn't poetic. In fact, NASCAR and poetry are so far apart, the thought of combining the two was turned into a joke at The Specious Report. Take a look at NASCAR haiku, as printed in that article:

Pit crew watches, waits;
Tire tread and ashpalt embrace
Sweet sigh of relief.

NASCAR will never produce a Casey at the Bat. Name a situation in NASCAR with the drama of being down by one or two in the bottom of the ninth, where one swing of the bat leaves you the hero or (in Casey's case) the goat. Not to say there's no drama in NASCAR, but sneaking up on someone on the last lap just isn't the same.

Kids can't really "play" NASCAR, while lots of kids play football, baseball, basketball...you get the idea. NASCAR will never inspire anything like How To Play Night Baseball.

But still, some try. I suspect T. is a very nice person--the kind of person who'll give you the shirt off her back, invite you to her house & feed you until you can't move, and make you feel like a friend you've known since the day you were born. I kind of feel bad about making fun of her poetry.

I mean, she has a poem to her pets on her page! Anyone with pets is OK in my book. But take a look at this:

A Prayer For The Drivers
This is a prayer to say before every race begins
To keep all the drivers safe and God bless whoever wins
So bow your heads with me, and together we will ask
That God protect every driver for each and every lap...
"Dear God in heaven we ask you to watch over this track
and keep these drivers safe and sound for every single lap
watch them and protect them with your caring watchful eye
and bless them each and every time a green flag lap goes by
we pray there are no cautions because of a crash
and let them continue to race this race until the very last
so which ever driver makes his way to Victory Lane
we, the fans, know you heard our prayer
and blessed us all the same...

Umm...OK. This is a nice sentiment (although every time I read God bless whoever wins I want to continue The rest of you LOSERS can go to hell! ) but the meter is generic (when it's not blown completely), the rhyming is forced at times, and it almost sounds as if it was produced by the head of the Prom comittee who's about to blow her own deadline or something...I dunno. Bad poetry leads to bad analogies.

Posted by Victor at 05:05 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 24, 2006

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 54


Posted by annika at 07:03 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

The Economy

According to today's New York Times,

In many ways, the economy has not looked so good in a long time.
Yet Republicans can't get any love when it comes to the strong economy.
“Voters overwhelmingly don’t approve of the president on the economy,” said Amy Walter, a senior editor at the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan firm that handicaps political races. “It comes down to the issue of credibility. And so many voters feel so pessimistic about the direction of the country.”
Take the unemployment figures for instance. The rule of thumb I always heard in school was that anytime you have unemployment at 5% or below, the country was doing great. Right now, unemployment is at 4.4%. That is great. Check out this graph from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for some historical perspective.

As you can see, since WWII, unemployment has been over 5% a lot more than it's been under. Yet you still get comments like this one:

Ann O’Callahan, a 64-year old Irish immigrant in suburban Philadelphia, defines herself as a social conservative. She voted Republican in 2000, but switched to the Democrats in 2004. This year she plans to vote Democratic again, mainly because of the economy. “I am very disturbed by the economic policies of the Bush administration,” she said.

Ms. O’Callahan’s district, Pennsylvania’s Seventh, is an island of relative affluence. The median income in the area, according to the Census Bureau, topped $63,000 last year, more than a third higher than the national median. According to Economy.com’s analysis, based on county data, unemployment this year in the district should average 3.8 percent, well below the national average.

But, Ms. O’Callahan said, jobs were not enough. “I work with job placement so I see up close how a lot more work is demanded of people, how benefits are disappearing, how hourly rates have been stagnant throughout the Bush administration,” she said. She said that jobs were plentiful, “but paying $8 an hour with no benefits.”

What I think Ms. O'Callahan overlooked is that in any economy there's going to be a bottom of the barrel type job. These days it's probably going to pay $8 an hour without benefits. But when 96.2% of the people in Ms. O'Callahan's district are working, I'd imagine that she's spending most of her time placing people in these bottom of the barrel type jobs. Most people with skills are probably already employed, and making more money.

We need entry level jobs. They're where most people start out. And they're good for students and retired people. Look at what's going on in France where "youths" are burning busses and attacking police because their country won't allow businesses the freedom to offer entry level jobs.

With the Dow over 12,000 and unemployment under 5%, I say the economy is doing great.

Posted by annika at 02:06 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episode 53


Posted by annika at 07:27 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 23, 2006

MNF Pick, Week VII

Good matchup tonight. Giants vs. Dallas at Dallas. The Cowboys favored by 3, which is pretty even. Most folks are giving the edge to Dallas. But I hate Dallas so I'm rooting for, and betting on the Giants.

Result: Giants dominate 36 to 22. I win. My record is now a mediocre 4 and 3 thus far.

Posted by annika at 05:43 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 20, 2006

Peter Pumpkin The Spectacular Pumpkin, Episodes 50, 51 & 52

Fabulous 50th Issue!

With a special guest star.


Fantastic 51st Issue!


Fright-filled 52nd Issue!


Posted by annika at 11:26 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack


Original content be damned. I'll just post more YouTube!

I heart Uncle Jimbo!

h/t Beth and Linda

Posted by annika at 09:44 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Worth Seeing Again

Disappointed as I am about the Mets' loss, I still think Endy Chavez's "dobleplay" is the greatest defensive play I've ever seen.

As for the World Series, I was rooting for the Mets because I thought St. Louis rolled over against the Sox. With Pujols in a slump, and Detroit well rested, I'm afraid the Cards might get swept again.

Posted by annika at 06:55 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 18, 2006

Wednesday is Poetry Day: e. e. cummings

The first poem I really liked was by e.e.cummings. In my senior year of high school, many, many, years ago, the best teacher I ever had used it when he taught us poetry. I bet if the county had approved that poem, more of us would enjoy poetry to this day.

(The teacher, Mr. S, wasn't afraid to bend the rules. One day I'll tell you what he did to the quarterback of the football team.)

Sadly, I can't find that poem. I would have sworn it was called "Thanksgiving" and that the first line was "by virtue of by virtue i" but my gf's copy of e.e.cummings: Complete Poems (1904-1962) doesn't list that line in the index of first lines.

Too bad I can't find it. You'll just have to wait.

Anyway. My gf suggested the following poem, and I agree it should be featured. It's a simple, fun little poem, that looks a lot more complex than it is. In fact, she saw me looking at it, face twisted in thought, and she asked me what I thought.

"It's a fun read," I answered, "but I can't quite figure out what it means."

She may have sighed. "Just read the last line. That's what it's about!" she answered. I think she's right.

I'm very fond of
black bean
soup(O i'm
fond of black
bean soup
Yes i'm very fond
of black bean soup)But
i don't disdain
a beef-

Gimme gin&bitters to
open my
eyes(O gimme
bitters to open
my eyes
Yes gimme gin&bitters
to open my eyes)But
i'll take straight rum as
a night-

Nothing like a blonde for
ruining the
blues(O nothing
like a
blonde for ruining
the blues
Yes nothing like a blonde
for ruining the blues)But
i use redheads for
the tooth

Parson says a sinner will
perish in the
flames(O parson
says a
sinner will perish
in the flames
Yes parson says a sinner
Will perish in the flames)But
i reckon that's better
than freez-

Everybody's dying to be
else(O every
dying to be some
one else
Yes everybody's dying
to be someone else)But
i'll live my life if
it kills

Posted by Victor at 05:40 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

October 17, 2006

Ken Burns Spoof

Today's C.T.O.T.I.O.T.D. is sheer genius.

Apparently this thing's been around a while, but I never seen it before. Funnier than shit.

h/t Rodger

Posted by annika at 07:29 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

I Discuss Iraq, North Korea And The Upcoming Elections In My Very First Video Blog!

Just for you, Will!

Posted by annika at 07:14 AM | Comments (25) | TrackBack

October 16, 2006

And In The "Most Weirdly Ironic Firing" Category, The Winner Is...

Mark Fuhrman fires announcer for insensitive comments.

I know, I know, different guy, but still it's ironic.

P.S. This ain't the first time Lamar Thomas has embarrassed himself.

Posted by annika at 10:39 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

MNF Pick, Week VI

Bears vs. Cardinals in Arizona. Chicago favored by 12½ points. The Bears will win this one, but will they cover?

The answer is yes, unless there's an earthquake, tsunami or alien invasion in Glendale tonight. And even then, they'll probably still win.

Update: Just like I said, a disaster happened and the Bears still won. Actually, there were two disasters: the Cardinals' collapse and the Bears' offense.

Posted by annika at 05:39 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

October 15, 2006

The Annika Action Figure

Wouldn't you know it? Somebody made an Annika action figure!

Introducing Agent Annika, member of an Operative Commando Unit so secret that few even know of its existence. Only known as Sub Five by a very few people. The name Sub Five refers to the clearance level need to access these elite forces. Alone or in large numbers these agents are lethal.
That is cool! She comes in black, white, gray, red and blue outfits. But they need to make a blonde one.

Posted by annika at 09:45 AM | Comments (32) | TrackBack

October 14, 2006

Freddy Fender, RIP

I had no idea who Freddy Fender was, but thanks to the magic of YouTube, nobody has to remain ignorant. Ain't YouTube great?

Freddy Fender was a Tex Mex pioneer and a former marine. From Yahoo's obituary, here's some other biographical facts I found interesting:

Freddy Fender, the "Bebop Kid" of the Texas-Mexico border who later turned his twangy tenor into the smash country ballad "Before the Next Teardrop Falls," died Saturday. He was 69.

Over the years, he grappled with drug and alcohol abuse, was treated for diabetes and underwent a kidney transplant.

"Whenever I run into prejudice," he told The Washington Post in 1977, "I smile and feel sorry for them, and I say to myself, `There's one more argument for birth control.'"

In February 1999, Fender was awarded a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame after then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush wrote to the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce endorsing him.

He signed with Imperial Records in 1959, renaming himself "Fender" after the brand of his electric guitar, "Freddy" because it sounded good with Fender.

Fender initially recorded "Wasted Days" in 1960. But his career was put on hold shortly after that when he and his bass player ended up spending almost three years in prison in Angola, La., for marijuana possession.

After prison came a few years in New Orleans and a then an everyday life taking college classes, working as a mechanic and playing an occasional local gig.

But his second break came when he was persuaded to record "Before the Next Teardrop Falls" on an independent label in 1974 and it was picked up by a major label. With its success, he won the Academy of Country Music's best new artist award in 1975. He re-released "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and it climbed to the top of the charts as well.

Fender's later years were marred by health problems resulting in a kidney transplant from his daughter, Marla Huerta Garcia, in January 2002 and a liver transplant in 2004. Fender was to have lung surgery in early 2006 until surgeons found tumors.

"I feel very comfortable in my life," Fender told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times in August. "I'm one year away from 70 and I've had a good run. I really believe I'm OK. In my mind and in my heart, I feel OK. I cannot complain that I haven't lived long enough, but I'd like to live longer."

Sounds like he was a good guy. Rest in peace, amigo.

Posted by annika at 08:51 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

655,000 Iraqis Dead?

Is the line between intellectual dishonesty and bald-faced lying a fine line or is it a wide chasm? Whichever it is, The Lancet and those who masturbate over its latest Iraqi war dead estimate have leapt across that line with ease.

A study published in the Lancet this week estimates that 654,965 Iraqis have died as a consequence of war since 2003. . . .

. . . The researchers—led by Gilbert Burnham of Johns Hopkins University—gathered data on more than 12,000 people in clusters of houses around Iraq, and tried to figure out how many people had died both before and after March of 2003. By comparing the pre- and post-invasion mortality rates, they figured out how many deaths could be attributed to the war, and then extrapolated from their sample to the country's entire population. [via Slate.com]

655,000 is roughly the population of Baltimore, Maryland, where Johns Hopkins University is located.

Historian Gwynne Dyer (who wrote the very readable book War, which pretty much made me want to be a history major) is against the Iraq war. He predictably gushed over the Lancet's study:

Johns Hopkins University, Boston University and MIT are not fly-by-night institutions, and people who work there have academic reputations to protect.

The Lancet, founded 182 years ago, is one of the oldest and most respected medical journals in the world.

Must be true then. These people couldn't possibly make a mistake. In fact, I bet the peer review process is waived for all studies coming out of JHU, BU, MIT, or the Lancet.


The most disturbing thing is the breakdown of the causes of death.

Over half the deaths -- 56 per cent -- are due to gunshot wounds, but 13 per cent are due to air strikes. No terrorists do air strikes. No Iraqi government forces do air strikes either because they don't have combat aircraft. Air strikes are done by "coalition forces" (i.e. Americans and British) and air strikes in Iraq have killed over 75,000 people since the invasion.

Oscar Wilde once observed that "to lose one parent ... may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."

To lose 75,000 Iraqis to air strikes looks like carelessness, too.

Actually, blind acceptance of the Lancet's figures and methodology by a historian such as Dyer looks like carelessness to me.

Now, I didn't do too well in statistics, so I won't pick apart the Lancet's methodology, no matter how suspect it seems to me (it was based on interviews?!). But I do have a history background and the 655,000 number seemed wildly far-fetched to me the instant I saw it. Wildly far-fetched.

I immediately wondered why the study's authors had not considered placing the estimate into historical perspective. That would be a kind of "smell test," which I suspected the study might not pass.

Consider this. In 3½ years, the Lancet figures we have been responsible for 655,000 civilian deaths. (Not casualties, deaths. The term "casualty" includes missing, wounded and POWs.) For comparison, I simply went to two easily available sources: The Oxford Companion to World War II, and the often less reliable Wikipedia.

According to those two sources, Japanese civilian deaths in World War II ranged from 400,000 to 600,000. One generally expects the Wikipedia figure to be at the higher range, and that was true in this case. I also consulted Wings of Judgment, by Ronald Schaffer, a somewhat left leaning historian of the two World Wars. Shaffer gave an estimated range from 330,000 to 900,000 Japanese deaths (p. 148), which coincidentally is almost exactly the range that the Lancet used for Iraqi civilian deaths (392,979 to 942,636).

Looking at all three sources, the Wikipedia estimate of 600,000 Japanese civilian deaths seems most reasonable. So the obvious question to me is this:

Are we to believe that the United States has killed more Iraqi civilians in the current war than we killed Japanese civilians during World War II?

I have no doubt that there are very many anti-war kooks who would not hesitate to believe that, but it sure doesn't pass the smell test to me.

Keep in mind that we attacked Japan repeatedly with unguided incendiary bombs in WWII, while we mostly relied on precision guided bombs when bombing Iraq. Also remember that the aerial bombing in Iraq occurred in the first three weeks of the war, and thereafter was only used to support certain offensives like in Fallujah, etc.

Keep in mind that the purpose of strategic bombing in WWII was to kill civilians and that we intentionally targeted Japanese civilians for over a year. In Iraq, we make a great effort to avoid civilian deaths. In fact, Iraqi civilian deaths are counter-productive to the war effort and can be used as a propaganda against us by our enemies, as the Lancet study proves.

Keep in mind that we flattened two Japanese cities in WWII with nuclear weapons, and that those attacks weren't even as deadly as the Tokyo firebomb raid in which three hundred B-29s burned the city to the ground and killed almost 100,000 civilians in one night. We bombed the crap out of Japan so thoroughly that we had pretty much run out of cities to destroy by the end of the war.

It was a lot easier to kill Japanese civilians by firebombing than it is to kill Iraqis today. The Lancet figures that most Iraqis (56%) were killed by gunshots, which is probably the least efficient way of killing mass numbers of people. Remember that Japanese civilians lived in houses made of paper and wood, and that the population density of Iraq is nothing compared to Japan in the 1940s. During the Tokyo raid, escape was near impossible. Shaffer wrote:

The fire storm quickly roasted those who stayed in under-house shelters. Alleys and small gardens filled with flaming debris. Shifting flames blocked exit routes. Abandoning their efforts to check the inferno, firemen tried to channel people across already burned areas, and where there was still water pressure they drenched people so they could pass through the fire. Some inhabitants ducked themselves in firefighting cisterns before moving. . . .

Choking inhabitants crawled across fallen telephone poles and trolley wires. As superheated air burned their lungs and ignited their clothing, some burst into flames, fire sweeping up from the bottoms of trousers or starting in the cloth hoods worn for protection against the sparks. Residents hurried from burning areas with possessions bundled on their backs, unaware that the bundles had ignited. Some women who carried infants this way realized only when they stopped to rest that their babies were on fire.

. . . Thousands submerged themselves in stagnant, foul-smelling canals with their mouths just above the surface, but many died from smoke inhalation, anoxia, or carbon monoxide poisoning, or were submerged by masses of people who tumbled on top of them, or boiled to death when the fire storm heated the water. [p. 134]

That is what it takes to kill 655,000 civilians. Death on that kind of scale is not something that can easily escape notice, yet there have been no such stories coming out of Iraq in the last three years. I'm not trying to minimize the horrible situation in Iraq, but some perspective is definitely in order. And the Lancet's estimate is so insanely exagerrated I can only conclude that the researchers are bald-faced liars.

More: Confederate Yankee wonders, "where are the bodies?"

[cross-posted at A Western Heart; Technorati: ]

Posted by annika at 10:40 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

October 11, 2006

Conspiracy? Or Just Asking Questions?

So a small plane just happened to crash into a high rise residential building on Manhattan's Upper East Side? That's the story the government and the mainstream media have put forth.

I think it's interesting that there are no pictures of the actual plane. Look at the damage to the building. I think it's exactly the type of damage you'd see if it were hit by a missile, not a plane. I'm just saying, these are questions that need to be asked.

Also, what did Alec Baldwin know, and when did he know it?

You might say that there's no indication that this was an inside job, but if so, then what was this helicopter doing at the scene moments after the crash? Notice that there are no markings on the helicopter. Why not. Aren't all such craft required to have visible identification markings? (For instance the Enterprise is clearly marked NCC-1701.) And it's beige. Who paints a helicopter beige unless you're trying not to be noticed?

Also note the disproportionate SWAT team response. Almost as if they were trying to keep people away from the scene of the "accident." What are they trying to hide?

And only two dead? It's as if people were warned not to be in the building today. Certain people. I think you know what I mean. It is the Upper East Side, after all.

Like I said. These are interesting and unanswered questions, but don't expect the powers that be to investigate it properly. I just want to get to the truth, that's all.

Update: Cory Lidle?! I had him on my fantasy team a few years back, he did well for me. So the authorities would have us believe that a major league baseball pitcher piloted this plane into a building? I suppose they'll tell us he was distraught over the Yankees recent DCS loss. Come on! If they're going to concoct a cover narrative, at least make it believable.

Open your eyes America! Demand the truth! Ask questions! Why would a Yankee player be piloting an aircraft so close to Shea Stadium? Wouldn't it make more sense to be flying near the Bronx? Has anyone looked into George Steinbrenner's Middle East holdings? What are his ties to Halliburton? Or the Tri-lateral commission or Skull & Bones? Wake up people!

Posted by annika at 02:11 PM | Comments (31) | TrackBack

Wednesday is Poetry Day: Richard Harrison

Two weeks ago, I presented baseball poetry. Baseball lends itself to poetry--both are cerebral, complex, and boring to those of lesser intelligence. Notice there's no real good NASCAR poetry out there?

My other favorite sport is hockey. Maybe because it's easy to get tickets, maybe because it's a beautiful game, maybe because the first words my gf ever spoke to me were because of hockey...I like hockey a lot.

Two years ago, I wasn't watching hockey. No one was, because of the lockout. Little did we know that soon, in mid-February, the 2004-05 NHL season would be cancelled. People were Pissed Off.

Canadian poet Richard Harrison has published an entire book of hockey poetry, Hero of the Play, and he was one of those Pissed Off people. Soon after the season was cancelled in 2005, the following poem was published:

NH Elegy

Once, men came home from war,
or from the sides of family graves,
to lace up skates and play for it
as if everything could be remade
in a silver bowl passed hand to hand.
For years it etched the seasons
with their winning names,
and took the touch of triumph
into each triumphant house. It paused
just once – to mourn the dead, and
stayed unmarked to mark their passing.
Today, left idle in the Hall of Fame,
while rich men quarrel to no profit at its base,
untouched upon its plinth it stands.
And all who see it can tell you now
how a fallen thing is one that no one holds.

Of course, the 2006-07 hockey season started last week. The league has expanded from the Original Six teams to thirty teams, the Great Canadian Game...well, there are only 6 teams from cities in the Great White North. There are teams in Phoenix, Florida, Tennesee, and the defending Stanley Cup champions play in North Carolina. They're also winless, but there's a lot of season yet to go.

My beloved Caps have played only two games and they're 1 and 1, which, where they're concerned, is slightly above par for them in October. Yeah, baby...it's hockey season.

Game on!

Posted by Victor at 05:30 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 10, 2006

Fantasy Musical Team-Ups That'll Never Happen

Picture this: Barbra Streisand reprising her most famous role as Dolly Levi, and introducing George W. Bush as Horace Vandergelder! That's brilliant casting, and it would be box office gold. Gold I tell ya!


Alas, I'm afraid it would never happen. I don't think the president could handle the vocal parts.

Posted by annika at 09:07 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 09, 2006

North Korea Options


I chose the above picture as a reminder of what a nuclear bomb can do. That was a young boy, maybe twelve or thirteen, who was incinerated by "Little Boy" at Hiroshima.

I think it's highly irresponsible for various pundits, mostly on the right, but some on the left, to suggest that we must respond to North Korea's saber rattling with a military attack. It's irresponsible because now that Kim Jong-il has a nuclear arsenal (assuming the tests weren't faked) we can certainly expect that he will use it if attacked.

Two things are clear to me: We must use every effort to avoid war with North Korea, while at the same time we must use whatever means necessary to disarm Kim Jong-il. The little boy in the picture is the reason I believe this.

While I think diplomacy is usually a complete boondoggle, there are options that can be and should be employed before we go charging in with guns blazing where a madman controls nuclear weapons.

The North Korean situation is similar to the Iranian one, but not identical. And as you know, I don't support military action in Iran, yet. Regime change without an invasion is the least ugly of all the options in both theaters. It's probably an easier task against the Iranians, but in neither case do I see any concrete signs that the Bush Administration is doing anything to encourage internal opposition movements. As I've said before, I think that's a big mistake.

In regards to North Korea, it seems to me that we have an advantage that is not available to us against Iran. World opinion, and especially regional opinion, seems pretty united against North Korea. I think the reason China and Russia are willing to play along against Kim Jong-il is that the balance of power equation they are employing in Central Asia does not apply to the Korean Peninsula.

In other words, China and Russia have a strong interest in promoting Iran as a rival to U.S. power in the Middle East. It's the latest incarnation of the "Great Game." But the Asian powers have now realized that promoting North Korea as a balance to American Power in the Far East is a fool's game.

The goal of balance of power politics is to maintain regional stability, and a nuclear armed DPRK upsets the status quo — not a good thing for China and Russia. They know that if Japan wanted to, they could easily build their own nuclear arsenal, and each warhead would probably fit in the palm of your hand, work perfectly every time, and get great gas mileage to boot.

So if China and Russia can be persuaded to go along with a strong sanctions regime, combined with a "quarantine" of North Korea, I think that would be a great start. They might be willing to do so.

The next few months will be a major test for Condoleezza Rice. I think her tenure as Secretary of State has been pretty lackluster, but I'm much more impressed with John Bolton. If the State Department can get its act together, maybe they can forge an alliance among the regional powers. I'd like to see Australia join in too. I'm hopeful that a united front could successfully change North Korea's behavior.

Normally, I'm not a fan of sanctions. But this might be one of those rare situations where sanctions have some effect, mainly because of the unanimity of world opinion against North Korea. It reminds me of South Africa. Sanctions arguably helped end apartheid, and while that analogy only goes so far, it is interesting to note that South Africa is the only country to have developed nuclear weapons and then given them up voluntarily.

I favor an internal revolution as the best way to solve the Iranian crisis, but I don't see that idea working in North Korea. I have not heard of any opposition groups in that closed society. I think Kim Jong-il's regime is so repressive that they'd make Tian'anmen Square look like a company picnic.

I believe the best way to defuse the situation is to get China to use its influence against Kim Jong-il himself. China is the only party that can apply pressure against the dictator to get him to step down. We'll probably have to live with a nuclear armed North Korea, but if Kim Jong-il can be replaced with a moderate who won't threaten the whole region, everybody will be able to breathe a lot easier.

The North Korean dictator's latest flagrant defiance of the Security Council should offer enough cover for the Chinese to make Kim Jong-il an offer he can't refuse. China can offer Kim asylum, and they have the power to influence the selection of his successor. North Korea can then remain communist, but perhaps reform themselves along the lines of modern China. Sanctions might even eventually be lifted. Getting rid of Kim Jong-il is the key, and as I see it, China is our best hope to accomplish that end.

More: Fans of Kevin Kim know that he teaches something or other in South Korea (English I think). Here's his inimitable commentary on the scuttlebutt over there.

One student surprised me with her take on Kim Jong Il. "I sort of liked him until today," she said, "But now I hate him." I kept a poker face, but my guts were writhing and my testicles kept popping in and out of my body like turtle heads. My asshole started shrieking ultrasonically; little edible dogs screamed in response and then exploded outside our building (NB: I've decided to name any future canine pet "Yummy"). Liked Kim Jong Il?
By the way, Kevin tends to doubt that Kim Jong-il really has nukes yet. Some Koreans aren't above lying about important stuff. Look at how long Sun lied to Jin about knowing English.

Posted by annika at 06:18 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack

MNF Pick, Week V

Tonight's game is Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos. Denver is favored by five points. That's crazy. There's a lot of hype about each team's defenses. But I think Baltimore's is better, and besides, they've scored more points this year. When these two teams met last year, Baltimore lost by only two points, with Denver scoring only one touchdown at home. I see the Ravens extending their streak to 5 and 0 after tonight, and I'll take them plus five points anyday. Agree with me, and you can laugh at the suckers later.

Update: The Broncos pull it out. I lose.

In other football news, I just learned that the unlikeable Bryant Gumbel and the intolerable Chris Collinsworth have teamed up to call NFL Network games. Could there be a more unwatchable broadcasting crew? Maybe, if they shoved Musburger in there.

Posted by annika at 05:34 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Breaking News



President Bush vows to pursue more diplomacy.

In related news, Annika takes two aspirin.


Update: As always, I recommend you check out The Princess.

Back in 1994, we made a deal with their devil to allow them to seek out "enrichment" and nuclear technology--even to assist them in building reactors--so long as they made the Scouts Honor promise to use it for good and not for evil. We agreed to lift the sanctions that the government said was "harming" their population beyond repair, to the point where children and families were starving in the streets. We assumed that they would collapse as a government long before this moment, when a bomb equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT explodes underground. We gave them plenty of money, plenty of resources, engaged in talks with them as though they were a legitimate nation, like Germany or England, and all the while, they understood our motivations and secured themselves agains that. We were the stupid ones; they wouldn't let their regime fail, and they would certainly not allow our money to go to the projects we had designated. Instead, the international community, lifted the sanctions on their end, poured money into a nuclear program, and the results? A nuclear bomb, and a starving people. One step ahead for them, one giant step back, for us.
And Tammy Bruce says what's on my mind:
Many are suggesting this emerging situation reminds people of President Bush's strength, or at least will increase his approval numbers. I suppose this is because his numbers go up when we get a reminder that Radical Islamists are still out there and want to kill us. I'm not so sure that's the case here--what this situation actually reminds me of is the failure of the Bush administration to properly deal with North Korea. Yes, the Norks established their nuclear program under Clinton . . . but President Bush has now had six years to deal with it, and not[h]ing has been accomplished.
Yes, Bush's Korean effort has been a failure but don't start thinking that Kerry's unilateral fetish would have produced a different outcome. I think Madeline Albright proved the ultimate value of that nice piece of paper signed by a tyrant after successful unilateral negotiations.

Posted by annika at 07:12 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

October 04, 2006

Wednesday is Poetry Day: Bernie Taupin

One of the first albums I ever bought (waaay back when CDs were called "albums" and they were huge, delicate things stamped on black vinyl) was Elton John's Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. My best friend Dave had a copy of it, and I liked it enough to save up my allowance and buy it. I probably bought it for one song; The moderately-hard rocking (Gotta Get a) Meal Ticket. I mean, the rest of the album was good, but that song rocked! Moderately.

As I grew older, I came to appreciate the album for more than that song. Maturity changes one's point of view, and songs that meant one thing suddenly mean something else five, ten, or thirty years later. I'm almost ashamed to admit it took me about thirty years to finally realize what one of Bernie Taupin's best poems was about, but better late than never, eh?

(I think. I mean, it's all in the interpretation, isn't it?)

The poem/song is called Writing and it's a beautiful little song. The junior-high school kid who bought this album was probably bored by this song about two people writing a book or something, with its cutesy lyrics and lite-rock guitar work. In fact, I'm sure I used to skip over this song when listening to the album.

But suddenly, one day last week, this song completely changed for me. Sometimes, maturity is not overrated.


Is there anything left
Maybe steak and eggs?
Waking up to washing up
Making up your bed
Lazy days my razor blade
Could use a better edge

It's enough to make you laugh
Relax in a nice cool bath
Inspiration for navigation
Of our new found craft
I know you and you know me
It's always half and half

And we were oh oh, so you know
Not the kind to dawdle
Will the things we wrote today
Sound as good tomorrow?
Will we still be writing
In approaching years?
Stifling yawns on Sundays
As the weekends disappear

We could stretch our legs if we've half a mind
But don't disturb us if you hear us trying
To instigate the structure of another line or two
Cause writing's lighting up
And I like life enough to see it through

And we were oh oh, so you know
Not the kind to dawdle
Will the things we wrote today
Sound as good tomorrow?
Will we still be writing
In approaching years?
Stifling yawns on Sundays
As the weekends disappear

We could stretch our legs if we've half a mind
But don't disturb us if you hear us trying
To instigate the structure of another line or two
Cause writing's lighting up
And I like life enough to see it through
Cause writing's lighting up
And I like life enough to see it through

(NOTE: This is the song as sung by Elton John. Bernie Taupin might have sent it to Elton in a slightly different format.)

If you've never heard Elton John's music to these lyrics, a not-inaccurate cover by Brazillian musician Roberto de Carvalho can be heard on this page. Scroll down a bit, or search for "Writing." But my advice would be to buy the CD. You won't regret it.

Posted by Victor at 07:44 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack

October 03, 2006

Democrats (and some Republicans) Call For Gay Profiling

Any treatment of the Mark Foley story must include certain disclaimers, so let's get those out of the way first.

1. Foley's conduct with the pages was despicable, inexcusable, inappropriate, sickening, and in my opinion may turn out to be worse than has been alleged so far.

2. I'm glad he is gone, good riddance.

3. If Dennis Hastert or other members of the House Republican leadership knew about the masturbatory internet chats (as opposed to the e-mails sent to a different page, which they did know about), then Hastert is no better than Cardinal Mahoney and needs to be booted out.*

Now, the question before us is whether Hastert should be booted out anyway. That's what Democrats and some Republicans are saying.

An excellent summary of the story as of last Sunday can be found at American Thinker.

What do we know so far?

In the Fall of 2005, Speaker Hastert's office was first notified of "overly friendly" emails sent by Foley to a certain page (not the one from the masturbatory chats). Hastert's office was not shown the original emails.

Now, since Hastert is not the "boss" of the House of Representatives (he's barely the boss of the House Republicans) he appropriately handed off the issue to the Clerk of the House.

The House Clerk is kind of a quasi-operations officer for the whole House, and is elected by the whole House.

The Clerk asked to see the "overly friendly" e-mails in question and was told that the parents didn't want to reveal them for privacy reasons. The issue was resolved by the Clerk's office telling Foley to stop all contact with the page.

As far as I know, nobody is claiming that Hastert ever knew of the masturbatory chats before they were disclosed last week. All he knew about was the "overly friendly" e-mails, and he didn't even know what was in them.

Now, we can have a discussion about whether Hastert's office, or the Clerk should have been more vigourous in demanding to see what was in the e-mails. But even if they had seen the e-mails, what should they have done?

Look at the e-mails in question, and ask yourself why they are disturbing. I think they are, but I have the benefit of knowing about the masturbatory chats, which provide a hell of a lot of context.

In the first e-mail, Foley asks, "how old are you now?" In the second, he comments that another page is "in really great shape." In the third, Foley asks the page what he wants for his birthday. In the fourth e-mail, Foley says, "send me a pic of you as well."

In the law of defamation, there is a concept called "defamation per quod," which is used to describe a statement that is not defamatory in and of itself, but can be defamatory if one takes into account facts that are extrinsic to the statment itself.

You might say that Foley's e-mails contain statements that are "pederastic per quod." In other words, the statements themselves are not creepy unless one takes into account a fact that is extrinsic to the statements: the fact that Mark Foley is gay.

Alarm bells could not go off in anyone's mind upon reading those e-mails unless one takes into account the sexual orientation of the author. In other words, Hastert's critics are implicitly saying that Hastert should have made two assumptions about Mark Foley in general and the e-mails in particular (which he didn't even see).

1. That Mark Foley is gay, and

2. All gays want to have sex with young boys.

Assumption number two is patently untrue, and I don't know why gay rights groups are not speaking up in outrage about this. For Hastert to come down on Foley based on the text of those four emails, Hastert would have had to assume the worst about a gay man on pretty flimsy evidence. Is that fair? Or isn't that gay profiling?

Add to that the fact that Foley was not officially out of the closet until this week. There were rumors, certainly, but Foley had always denied them. If Hastert had "outed" Foley on the basis of those four e-mails alone, Hastert would have been pilloried by the same people now calling for his head.

[Cross-posted at The Cotillion]

* As Mahoney should have been, long ago.

Posted by annika at 05:59 PM | Comments (18) | TrackBack

October 02, 2006

MNF Pick, Week IV

Tonight's game is Green Bay at Philadelphia. Philly is favored by 11½. I was stumped about who to pick, since Green Bay has burned me before. Here's the history.

On September 13, 2004, I bet Green Bay in the season opener. They won and I won.

On October 11, 2004, I picked favorite Green Bay, and they got trounced by the Titans, so I lost.

On November 29, 2004, I bet against the Pack. They won 45 to 17, and I lost.

On October 3, 2005, I bet on Green Bay. They lost, but Carolina didn't cover so I won.

On November 21, 2005, I bet against Green Bay. They won and I lost.

So I figure, there's enough information there to discern a pattern. Anyone who took the LSAT ought to be able to see it. If you want to try and guess it, don't click on the extended entry. Otherwise, the answer is below.


As you can see, the pattern for Green Bay wins and losses is a simple alternating pattern. Therefore, they should lose tonight.

The pattern for my wins and losses matches the pattern for my bets, except that it's one off.

Therefore, if the pattern holds, the next entry in the "Bet" column should be "Against," to match the "Win" entry at the top of the "Me" column.

So I'm picking Philadelphia, minus the 11½ point spread.

Update: Eagles win.

Posted by annika at 07:46 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack