Thursday, September 30, 2004

If I were John Kerry (or, perhaps more importantly, his speechwriter), I would have ended the debate tonight as follows:

The President says he's resolute in this war. I believe him. The President says he will continue to be resolute. I believe him. The President says that we must be resolute to win. He is wrong.

Lyndon Baines Johnson was resolute. Richard Nixon was resolute. I know. I was there. I believed them. And because they were resolute, thousands of young Americans are dead. All those names on the wall from 1970 and 1972 and 1973 and so on are there because their presidents were resolute. In Vietnam, we could win battle after battle, and we could drop thousands of bombs, and we could burn away whole forests, and we could keep killing Viet Cong, and we did. But winning battles is not the same as winning a war. We were resolute, and we lost that war. The United States will win any battle it fights. But as president, I will never bring us to battle if we cannot win the war as well.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The following was on the internet (so it must be true):

Family Chicken Feud Turns to Gun Battle
Associated Press

BLUEWELL, West Virgina - A family meal erupted into a gun battle after a father and son clashed over how to cook chicken.

The two men argued Sunday over the best way to prepare skinless chicken for dinner.

"It started out as a physical confrontation, but it escalated until both of them were shooting at each other," Detective Sgt. A.D. Beasley of the Mercer County Sheriff's Department said Monday.

Beasley said each man fired a .22-caliber handgun at the other. Harley Shrader was struck by a bullet that went through the upper part of his right ear and lodged in the back of his head. He was treated at a hospital and released. The elder Shrader was not injured.

Jackie Lee Shrader, 49, was charged with malicious wounding and wanton endangerment. Harley Lee Shrader, 24, was charged with wanton endangerment.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

While some might see humor, and others might be saddened, I see opportunity. We just learned that Martha Stewart will serve her time in West Virginia. I'm certain that she has a nice recipe for skinless chicken (work with me here). Seems to me that justice would be well served by having Ms. Stewart serve her sentence with the Shrader family. Five months with them would be ample motivation to never lie to the SEC again (assuming she doesn't mess up Christmas dinner and get shot), and the Shraders would finally have a good skinless chicken recipe.

Am I missing anything? Where is the fault in this logic?

Monday, September 27, 2004

Playoff Rotation

Weeeellllllll it looks like the Sox are in the playoffs again as the wild card team. Five game series, on the road, probably against Minnesota. What's the rotation? In order, the best Sox starters lately have been Schilling, Pedro, Bronson Arroyo, Lowe, and Wakefield. I really like Wakefield. But I wouldn't start him.

The question is Game 1 (and therefore, if necessary, Game 5). Games 1 and 2 will be in that stupid Humptydome. They'll probably go with Pedro, but I'd start Schilling. I think you want your best guy to pitch the most, and lately that's been Schilling. Pedro hasn't pitched as well. Pedro Martinez is probably my favorite player on the Sox, but he hasn't been pitching so well lately. Then again, if Pedro starts Game 5, Schilling could come on in relief on three days rest....

As a sidenote Johan Santana, who they'll face in games 1 and 5, been absurd (he's run away with the Cy Young--I can't see any rationale for giving it to Schilling, unfortunately). Santana allowed one (1) run in September. That's right. One run. In one month. That's a 0.257 ERA over five starts. In September, opposing batters managed seventeen hits in thirty five innings. He's now won his last TWELVE CONSECUTIVE starts. It's astonishing, but after Tampa Bay beat him June 3, he was 2-4 with a 5.50 ERA. So naturally he's 18-2 with a 1.34 ERA since then. In August he faced Boston, Oakland, Seattle (ok, they're not that good), the Yankees, Texas, and Anaheim. He shut all of them down, won every game. Ugh. We're screwed.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

It is somewhat unsettling to me to know that someone on Earth, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (the guy who planned the attacks of September 11) sits in a jail cell, being questioned. Maybe he's being tortured. I cannot imagine he will ever be free, nor do I want him to be. Presumably, at some point he will be killed and his body dropped in the ocean or something. I doubt he'll ever be found guilty, probably he'll never even be brought to trial.

As if this were not uncomfortable enough, would I do anything differently? I'm not convinced I would. He's a bad guy. A really bad guy.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Well now it looks like Iran will be getting The Bomb soon, unless Israel attacks first. This is very very bad, I think. In Charlie Wilson's War (see below), the narrative goes off on a side discussion about how there aren't really any moderates in Iran, at least in the mid-80s.

Perhaps the administration should have paid a little more attention to Iran, which was actually doing atomic weapons research and actually supports terrorists, as opposed to Iraq, which had no atomic program and which everyone knew had connection to terrorists. Too late now.

I wonder how many American soldiers will die in Iraq. It seems a long time ago, but when asked if Americans are prepared for a "long, costly and bloody battle," Cheney replied: "Well, I don't think it's likely to unfold that way. . . . The read we get on the people of Iraq is there is no question but what they want to the get rid of Saddam Hussein, and they will welcome as liberators the United States when we come to do that. Thanks, Dick.

Less poignantly, I wonder how many billions of dollars we're going to spend there. Remember when Iraq's oil reserves were going to pay for the war?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

The editorial page of the New York Times has proclaimed This Is Bush's Vietnam. I don't think that's quite right. One quandry of Vietnam was that those who had to figure out how to get us out (LBJ, Nixon, Kissinger, Ford) weren't the same ones who got us in (Eisenhower, JFK, McNamara). Nixon was dealt a crappy hand in Vietnam (and of course one could argue that he didn't play it well, but that doesn't mean he didn't have bad cards).

Here, those who got us into Iraq (W, Rumsfeld, Cheney) are the ones who are, or are not, trying to get us out. They're the ones who went in there apparently thinking it would all be wine and roses, uh dates and flowers. They're the ones who thought it'd be easy. They're the JFK and Eisenhower in this story.

According to what I've read (McNamara's book and others), our leaders didn't really know what they were getting themselves into when they went into and later escalated Vietnam. About all they knew was that communists were bad (correct), opposed to America (correct), and that they would be fighting communists (wrong--we were fighting nationalists, BIG difference). They knew very little about Vietnam itself, little about its history, little about who the players were, little about who we'd be fighting with, even less about who we'd be fighting against. Obviously, this is a bad way to decide to go to war, when you don't have any information.

Iraq is different. Iraq was not a mystery. Everyone knew that Iraq was a potential powderkeg. Everyone knew that Iraq was surrounded by distasteful neighbors. Everyone knew that Iraq was an artificial nation--three historically separate groups (Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds) thrown together by Europeans after World War I. Everyone knew that threse three groups had been warring enemies for centuries. Everyone knew that, in consequence, the actual governing of Iraq would be difficult, that it would be easy to win the war but tricky to win the peace. Everyone knew these things. Didn't they?

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Global warming worries me. I think it's a real threat to America. Am I being absurd? I think we run the risk of appearing arrogent and gratuitously angering lots and lots of people. If we've learned anything from the attacks of September 11, it's that we shouldn't go around making enemies (i.e. maybe we should have spent a little more money reconstructing Afganistan in the 1990's instead of letting it all go to hell).

So. Sea levels are rising. This is very bad for New Orleans (which escaped, luckily--I love New Orleans) and worse for Bangladesh. Bangladesh is poor. And it has 141,000,000 people. 117,000,000 of whom are Muslim. (Sidenote, my pledge brother Zee is Bangladeshi, the only one I know.) I'm no expert, but I think Bangladesh has been fairly friendly to us. We should keep it that way.

But how would the people of Bangladesh react to rising sea levels that would swamp their country? They'd probably be unhappy. And they're not dumb, what if they noticed that the United States was both a cause of global warming and prominantly refused to do anything about it? I don't think it's a stretch to say they'd transfer that unhappiness to us. We don't need any more people ticked off at us, especially a large restive Muslim population with many underemployed and impressionable young men.

Or consider the people of, say, Tuvalu. There are only 11,000 of them, but their islands are about ten feet above sea level at the highest. What if one of them had the same thought process and became convinced that the destruction of their country was all America's fault? Ok, Tuvalu is a little farfetched, but still, my point is that there's no good rationale for making gratuitous enemies. Why manufacture enemies? Why should we hand people a great reason to hate us? It doesn't make any sense.

What's maddening is that there's no reason for us to refuse to sign the Kyoto Protocol and otherwise take action on global warming. We're irritating people and potentially creating lots of enemies for no reason. It's dumb policy and it may well get us in big trouble down the road.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

I was briefly in Chicago last week and I had time on the way to the airport to have a ($8!) beer at a bar at the top of the Hancock building. It's really high up. According to the waitress, 1100 feet.

Which made it all the more strange that it's absolutely crawling with spiders. (On the outside of the building.) And I mean big spiders--bodies the size of a dime. In their webs. This brought up several questions in my mind:

(a) How do they get up there? Wind? Carried up by equipment?
(b) Does it ever get so windy that they blow off?
(c) In the winter, where do they go? (Do spiders hibernate?)
(d) Are there that many bugs flying around at 1100 feet that they can eat?

The waitress was very nice, but she was absolutely no help. Were I running the bar, I'd have at least one arachnologist on staff to answer burning questions like these.

As a sidenote, it's odd that when I wake up tomorrow, there's a small but nonzero chance that New Orleans will no longer exist. That's just strange.

Monday, September 13, 2004

I'm reading a marvelous book called Charlie Wilson's War, which explains why the Soviets lost Afghanistan. Turns out that an alcoholic, lecherous Democratic Congressman from Texas, Charlie Wilson, somehow ended up funding the entire thing from the Appropriations Committee (where he could dole out money without anyone knowing) and a chummy relationship with Tip O'Neill, who explicitly didn't want to know the details but who didn't like communists and made sure that no one got in his way. He somehow befriended a bitter, semi-ostracized CIA guy who somehow ended up running the whole thing to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars _A YEAR_ (i.e. far more than the CIA spent on any other of its covert operations, ever). He ran the whole thing more or less without the White House's input or even knowledge for years and years, dealing with various slimy regimes (Egypt, Pakistan, China, Israel, Saudi Arabia) on his own, setting up arms deals on his own, a *blatant* violation of how foreign policy is supposed to be conducted (though he appears to have been scrupulously honest financially at least).

It's a great tale. Lots of tidbits. Of of them relates to Richard Perle (lately known for (a) being an Iraq hawk--oops!-- who now seems to be shuffled under the rug and (b) being on maybe the worst board of directors ever).

Perle was hanging around the Pentagon in the 1980's too, and giving all sorts of "valuable" advice to the CIA about its war. He had the swell idea that the CIA should bring some Soviet prisoners back to America. It would be a p.r. coup. The problem was that there weren't any Soviet prisoners. None. Any Soviet soldier who surrendered to the mujahideen would likely be shot, hanged, castrated, gang raped and skinned alive (crude, but true). The Soviets knew this and, they never surrendered. But this well known fact didn't stop Perle from incessantly pestering the CIA to bring the prisoners over to the US. The mujahideen weren't interested in p.r. stunts, so they just killed any Red Army soldier they could.

It's good to know Rumsfeld listened to this wise counselor pushing the Iraq war so aggressively, having previously demonstrated his expert knowledge of foreign cultures. He's been flashing his foreign policy expertise for decades! Another win for him!

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Michigan lost yesterday. And looked bad. I take Michigan football too seriously. While staring at the wall after the game, I was thinking that Michigan is in danger of having a failed season.

I'd say the following are the characteristics of a failed season:

-losses to two of these three games: Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Michigan State;
-non-New Years bowl game;
or-four losses.

On the other hand, I'd say the following can be considered characteristics of a successful season:

-winning the Rose Bowl (duh)
-beating Ohio State, State, and Notre Dame; or
-winning a major Jan. 1 bowl game.

Any result between these two results in a "nondescript" season. Last year (Rose Bowl loss, three losses overall, victories against State, Ohio State and Notre Dame) was nondescript. If, for instance, Michigan had come back and beat Oregon, it would rank as a success, but three losses is tough to accept.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Thatcher (presumably no other Bowling Green fan reads this drivel), I'll root for them again this week. Better luck against, uh, Southeast Missouri State (had to go look that one up).

Schlamp (presumably), I always pull for the Bears. But not very hard.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

So Dick Cheney says (and I swear I'm not making this up, although it's hard to believe it):

"[I]f we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get his again and we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States."

This is outrageous. Why does he think this? Does he believe that W is some sort of protection from terrorist attacks? (If so, why did he not pay any attention to terrorism before September 11, 2001, even though they were expressly told to pay attention to al-Qaeda by the Clinton administration?)

Monday, September 06, 2004

I am an obnoxious Michigan fan. (This has meant that in the last decade I've largely ignored college basketball.) More importantly, the first game of the season was Saturday against Miami of Ohio.

Michigan looked ok. Defense was pretty good. I'm not happy about the running game, though. Michigan needs to be able to run the ball for more than 115 yards. For that matter, Michigan should also pass for more than 159 yards, but at least there's more of an excuse for low passing yards because our starting QB was a true freshman.

Friday, September 03, 2004

So why again did we attack Iraq? One of the most popular of W's reasons is something along the lines of we figured they were developing weapons of mass destruction, with the corollary that the world is now a safer place.

If this was our goal, what about Iran? We KNOW that Iran is on the verge of an atomic bomb. Upon its first test explosion, the world will undoubtedly become a far, far far more dangerous place. It appears to me that we attacked the wrong place....

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Zell Miller (W's favorite Democrat), describing Kerry:

My job tonight is an easy one: to present to you one of this nation's authentic heroes, one of this party's best-known and greatest leaders—and a good friend. ... John has worked to strengthen our military. ...

Oh, that was in 2001. Back then, Kerry was an authentic hero who was strengthening our military. I wonder why Kerry's turned so wrong in the last three years?

(This is from's feature called "Whopper", where public figures are caught lying)