The Electric Commentary

Friday, October 29, 2004

Bush's "Faith Based Parks" Agenda.

Washington, DC — The Bush Administration has decided that it will stand by its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s flood rather than by geologic forces, according to internal documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Read the whole thing. And there's more here. I'm surprised that this isn't getting more attention. The president promoting his religious beliefs in our national parks is not so different than promoting religious garbage in our schools.

Ketchup, Catsup.

This is the most interesting thing ever written about ketchup.

(Hat tip, Marginal Revolution)

NFL Time: Ancient Chinese Riddle

If no one watches the Bears-49ers on Sunday Night Football, or the Jets-Dolphins on Monday Night Football, does either game still take place?

What a terrible group of games. I know that it's tough to predict in advance what games will be compelling, and the Jets and Dolphins have played a few very memorable games on MNF, but who in their right mind thought that the Bears and 49ers would be interesting for anyone? I guess it is at least a scary matchup for Halloween.

In other frightening news, the world will almost certainly implode this Sunday when Detroit WR Roy Williams faces off against Dallas FS Roy Williams. If there is a big collision between the two, everyone should seek immediate shelter.

Scarier still are the Washington Redskins who have predicted the last 15 presidential elections correctly:

The Washington Redskins have proved to be a time-tested election predictor. In the previous 15 elections, if the Washington Redskins have lost their last home game prior to the election, the incumbent party has lost the White House. When they have won, the incumbent has stayed in power.

(Hat tip, Football Outsiders)

Apparently the EC will all be Packer fans on Sunday (though most of us already are). Speaking of the Packer game, I'm not feeling good about this one (I'm also staying negative on the Pack until the reverse jinx I have going on wears off). Sure the Redskins are sorry on offense, but the Packers are really hurting on defense with Sharper and Harris at least slowed by injuries. Sharper will be wearing a fairly heavy brace, and has already stated that it makes him uncomfortable.

It's cliched to say that a game will be decided by turnovers, but in this case it's true. If Ahman fumbles they'll probably lose. Plus Bush is still polling well.

Atlanta tries to rebound from their terrible game against the Chiefs in which Derrick Blaylock, Priest Holmes, and Dick Vermeil's little niece Gina each rushed for four TDs. They run smack dab into Reuben Droughns (who Droughns on and on and on...) and the Broncos who suffered a humiliating defeat of their own last week to the Bengals. The Bengals Chad Johnson played his best game of the year, repeatedly toasting all-pro corner Champ Bailey. Meanwhile the Broncos could not overcome the one problem that has plagued them all season: Jake Plummer at QB. Look for Atlanta to rebound and steal this one from the Broncos and Peter King's MVP.

The Giants play the Vikings, and Randy Moss is still gimpy (either that or he decided to go as David Boston for Halloween). The Outsiders, by the way, had this to say:

Al: I really just want to vent about how terrible a running back Ron Dayne is. I'm sure he's a fine man who loves his mother and helps old ladies across the street. But he has no business on an NFL roster, let alone actually on the field during an actual game, let alone carrying the ball on 3rd-and-goal from the one yard line.

I've ripped on Drew Bledsoe's play too many times to mention, but at least Bledsoe could be a competent NFL player if he had a brick wall of protection in front of him. If you put a brick wall in front of Ron Dayne, he would run directly into it. He wouldn't notice the huge opening two steps to his right. He'd just run straight ahead. Running through the hole would require Dayne doing something crazy like "using peripheral vision," or "changing directions," or "turning his hips," things Dayne has shown a complete inability to do in his NFL career.

How is he still on an NFL roster? The
Birmingham Bolts would have put him on their practice squad. He would be cut by the Cologne Centurions. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers wouldn't invite him to a tryout. What does Ron Dayne bring to the table? Does he actually possess any discernible football skills? I haven't seen any.

All good points. The Giants have thrown away many many points while trying to turn Ron into a short yardage back. It stops this week as the Viking defense is unveiled as the Silly Putty that it is (notice that when their defensive linemen get pancaked onto their backs they pick up the lines and numbers on the field! Just like Silly Putty! It's amazing!) .

Willis McGahee will start at halfback for the NFL's second worst team this week. It doesn't matter, as the Bills aren't even in the Cardinal's league (If Rolen starts hitting again). He'll be lucky not to blow out his knee again.

The best game of the week is the Steelers-Patriots game, and I'm calling it. The streak ends on Sunday! Boston cannot, I repeat, CANNOT have two dominant teams at the same time. Some sacrifice must be paid to the Sports gods, and the Patriots are going to pay it. They've had cream puffs since the Colts almost beat them (and yes, the Jets are cream puffs), and they will be unprepared for Big Ben and the Steelers.

Halloween Costumes:

Al Harris - Bob Marley

Drew Bledsoe - A Statue

Roy Williams - Roy Williams

Roy Williams - Roy Williams

Drew Brees - Tom Brady

Jonathan Quinn - A Medicine Woman

Craig Krenzel - An NFL Quarterback

Tim McCarver - Pat Summerall

John Madden - Frank Caliendo

Grady Jackson - A speed bump

Joe Horn - That annoying guy who keeps asking if we can hear him now.

Koren Robinson - Harold

Ricky Williams - Kumar

Ray Lewis - Ray Lewis (Everybody run! It's Ray Lewis!!)

Ahman Green - A Slip and Slide (Ok, so you all know he goes as Batman, fighting his arch nemesis, the Fumbler!)

Barry Bonds - Balco Bartokomous

Terry Glenn - A man

Todd Pinkston - Mary-Kate Olsen

Peyton Manning - A chicken

Brandon Manumaleuna - T.J. Houshmandzadeh

And finally:

I don't know what Robert Ferguson and Najeh Davenport are going as, but it's definitely a group costume. And man, is it unfortunate.


Bush's Iraq Ideas summed up in a Chorus

The new Bush Administration Iraq theme song.


Okay, I started this a few days ago, but wasn't able to finish. Actually, I fell asleep writing it. I couldn't figure out where to cut off my disapproval of the current administration and ended up rambling a bit, but there you go. Everything in italics is old.

That said, I did the deed yesterday. Thank goodness for early voting in the city of Chicago. I was surprised to find the traditional punch-card ballots (that's not just on the South Side, Paul), and immediately thought about what a mess it would be today when thousands of people have to go through that process. I only hope it's a clear-cut race. The only thing worse than a Bush win in my mind is an outcome that is decided in the courts again.

Well, finally I have some time to endorse a candidate. Is Miller still running for president of beers? Oh right, they were disqualified by the citizenship rules.

Anyway, I have to say that I really hate this. I hate that I hate this. I hate that Paul and Ryan were only able to endorse not voting for Bush. I hate that Danny endorsed Kerry for two beers. Let's face it though, that's a lot more thought than many people will put into the process prior to pulling the lever/punching the chad/touching the screen on November 2nd.

I love my country and I hate being cynical about it. I've been Elsewhere and frankly, Elsewhere sucks. Well okay, there are some parts of Elsewhere that aren't so bad, like Denmark. God bless Scandinavian genes. For the most part though, we are the lucky ones. We have the luxury of single-digit unemployment. We have the luxury of worrying about whether or not we should have actually invaded another country and toppled its leader. When was the last time someone in Myanmar worried about that? People aren't even allowed to worry there. We have so much, and yet cynicism is rampant. Paying attention to any form of media may be enough to convince you that hope is waning and that the American Dream is a mirage. Looking at the two major candidates shows why we've been reduced to this.

Bush: In foreign policy, Bush has isolated us from our closest allies and set forth a dangerous precendent validating preemptive action. And he did all this based on poor evidence and an even worse PR strategy. He sold a war on its two weakest legs: WMD and Iraq's ties to terrorists. As business men, Bush's entire cabinet should have understood the risks and formed a solid mitigation strategy. However the most damning issue is the administration's inability or unwillingness to adapt and respond to the changing realities. Every leader, be they CEOs or Generals understands the value of gathering and understanding new information and then facing it head-on. Sun Tsu wrote: "The ability to gain victory by changing and adapting according to the opponent is called genius." That would make Bush's strategy the opposite of genius. Frankly, I have no confidence in the current administration's ability undo the damage it has caused.

Despite displaying strong leadership skills in the aftermath of 9/11, Bush's overall domestic policy performance has been an unqualified disgrace over the past four years. I have not yet found any indication that this would change going forward. Homeland security is underfunded, No Child Left Behind is in fact leaving entire school districts behind, and environmental policies have regressed. There are actually times during the week when there are a grand total of seven State Police troopers on duty in the entire state of Oregon. Seven. Bush has been running on the fear factor, but the problem is that I think he is partially at fault for the fear many people feel. He wants us to be afraid because he knows that when people are afraid, they vote for the known quantity.

Kerry: Vote for Kerry, he's better.

He's not great, but he's better. It's like the Avis advertisements. They try Harder, and apparently that's good. They don't claim to be the best, they just claim to try harder than the other rental companies. I view Kerry the same way. He's certainly seems smarter and I believe he will try harder to do the things that are really important to me, namely restoring our credibility in the world community, reacting properly and confidently in an ever-changing foreign policy environment, improving environmental policy, and restoring fiscal discipline. If you're really lucky, we'll get all that and a weekend car rental to offset the tax increase.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Still undecided?

Check out this quiz (Via Ahren) to see how you're views mesh with those of the candidates.
My results:

Badnarik, Michael - Libertarian (54%) Click here for info
Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (52%) Click here for info
Cobb, David - Green Party (48%) Click here for info
Nader, Ralph - Independent (48%) Click here for info
Peroutka, Michael - Constitution Party (42%) Click here for info
Bush, President George W. - Republican (38%) Click here for info
Brown, Walt - Socialist Party (37%) Click here for info

I'm sort of appalled that I agree with the socialist 37% of the time. See where you stand and post your results in the comments.

NFL preview tomorrow

around 2:00, including a look at what happens when Mark Brunell and the 2nd sorriest passing game in the D.C. area runs into possibly the worst pass defense (especially if Sharper and Harris don't play) in the NFL.

I can dream...

can't I?

Man, I have some lame dreams.


Wow. The site crashed really really hard this afternoon. I have no clue what happened and I had to build it back up from scratch. It should be more or less back to normal now.

Sorry about that.

Power Play

I'll be glad when this is over. I’m sick of it. Not only do I have no candidate who agrees with me; I also have no true enemy. Neither candidate is willing to engage in MY debate. My concern has to do with the limits of government power. It should be important. Most of the Constitution is dedicated to this issue (the Bill of Rights are not worth a wad of crumpled up tissue paper without the separation of powers. The Soviet Union had a fantastic Bill of Rights), but in this election it has been ignored.

This is important because when the debate changes from "how much power" to "what do we do with all of this power?" people feel victimized. After all, when power is exercised, some people win, and some people lose. People know this on an intuitive level, and that is what is really driving the rancor and vitriol that many are feeling this election season. Everyone is on one side, and they actually think they stand to lose something if the other side wins. And they are right, at least this time.

Bush’s policies are not about restraint; they are about sucking up. Free meds! Faith based subsidies! You! Don’t get married! Don’t have an abortion! And never sell us steel. Are those stem cells you’re holding, Mr.?

Kerry’s policies are not about using power to help people or keep a safety net in place; they are about sucking up. Free meds! Free health care! Non-faith based subsidies! You can’t get married, but you can get a "civil union." Give us more money! We need it more than you, and you’ll probably blow it on baseball cards or lollipops anyway. You, don’t sell us steel, or cloth, or answer the phones, or drill for oil, or import oil, or use oil!

Under all of these policies, someone is going to be a loser or a victim (including the candidates). Potential victims defend themselves when attacked, and that is exactly what is going on here, and why everyone seems so invested in this election.

Just a thought.

Very very frightening

But also quite funny. These political cartoons are becoming a bit of a cottage industry.

(Hat tip, Virginia Postrel)

The Carnival of the Vanities is up

here. Always a cornucopia of bloggy goodness (including the EC endorsements).

Thanks to Maddy (and her Mom) for hosting.

For all of the EC endorsements (and Jason's pre-endorsement) click here, here, here and here.

Former Nobel Peace Prize Winner at Death's Door?

Read all about it here!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Everybody take a deep breath...

Hold it. Good. Now exhale. Feel better?

Just trying to avoid another situation like this, or this.

(via Drudge)

Over at Instapundit...

UW's Professor Althouse is guestblogging and, in my opinion, doing a fine job but getting mixed reviews:

"I AM DISAPPOINTED TO SEE YOUR HYPER-PARTISAN RAVING ON THE INSTAPUNDIT WEBSITE," so read the first email I opened after returning from my Civil Procedure class this morning (where I really did rave ... about joinder). The second email I opened said "Nice to see an actual moderate coming out of the UW."

It's true. She did really rave about joinder in Civil Procedure today.

Now this is a good idea

I wish I had thought of it.

Of the two services, Autopilots strikes a more informal note. Its slogan is "You party, we drive," and it outfits drivers in a police-tape-yellow windbreaker, supplying them with a party kit loaded with munchies and an air-sickness bag.

It's almost Halloween...

and Jim Emerson writes an interesting (and very strange) review of Donnie Darko, a favorite of mine:

The picture begins with Donnie waking up, barefoot and in a t-shirt and pajama bottoms, on a hillside road overlooking a valley at dawn. At first he looks bewildered, then he stands up and breaks into a grin shaking off the thought of ... something: an strange idea? a memory? He then picks up his bike and rides downhill to his suburban home (to the song "The Killing Moon" by Echo and the, uh, Bunnymen -- the perfect tone to set for the movie, but inexplicably it's only in the original version).

If you haven't seen it, it is definitely worth a rent. Even though leaving out "The Killing Moon" is inexcusable.

Balancing Act

As one of "those two guys who never post", I'll be sure to post an endorsement in the next day or two. Now that everyone is holding their collective breath... I'd have to agree with Danny that endorsing Kerry or, more specifically, not endorsing Bush does not a liberal blog make. I may balance the most Libertarian views expressed here, but I don't like to think of myself as a "Liberal" per se -- rather as a "Liberal who has Studied Economics". This being the case, I actually agree with most of the thoughts posted by all three of you on Social Security, free trade and the minimum wage, which are certainly not traditional Liberal views. Endorsement of John "I'm not George W. Bush" Kerry to come.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Bad Moon Risin'

If you're out tonight, make sure that you look up. Especially if you are attending the World Series game, as this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

(Hat tip, TMQ)

Update: That eclipse is actually Wednesday. I hope you're having better whether wherever you are than we are in Chicago.

Monday, October 25, 2004

What once ruined the careers of Milli Vanilli is now the norm.

Jessica Simpson's sister, who is somehow a singer, had some technical difficulties durring her performance on SNL this weekend. It seems that her drummer hit the wrong button and played the wrong voice track durring her second performance on the show. She had been (gasp!) lip syncing. Now I realize that Rob and Fab were playing a recording of different guys when they were busted but is that really any different than playing a recording of your own voice that has been completely alterred with computers by your producers? Whether you blame it on the rain or your drummer, it's still not you.

Another unusual endorsement...

by our old friend Bill.

Or you Could Go This Route

You don't like my endorsement? Fine, here's my run-off candidate.


Although our election of head of government doesn’t carry with it the political weight of party-line voting in a parliamentary system, the executive does have considerable power on the direction of government as a whole (agenda setting, party leadership, military functions, judicial nominations, etc.). Thus, our electoral system does, to a certain extent, allow us to hold our government accountable. Based on the notion of accountability, I am unabashedly endorsing the anti-Bush ticket, specifically John Kerry. With this in mind, I will be offering little in the way of “pro-Kerry” arguments and more in the way of “Bush is incompetent” arguments. You may ask yourself, “Is this really enough of a platform to vote someone into the White House?” Let me say unequivocally, yes, it is (which is why the DNC isn’t knocking on my door offering me a “strategist” position). My campaign slogan for Kerry: “John Kerry. He certainly couldn’t be any worse.” (which is why the DNC isn’t knocking on my door at all). Let’s look at few important issues, shall we? No? Well we’re going to anyway…


To echo a fellow EC scribe, “I am not averse to pre-emptive military action per se , but the justification for it should be well articulated and well supported.” A justification that could pass a “global test” perhaps? Different reasons were given for invasion at different times: WMD, democratic peace theory, violation of UN resolutions, imminent threat, liberation of the Iraqi people, connections to terrorism, connection to al Qaeda, nuclear proliferation, one could go on. First, let’s get put on our foreign policy semantics hats here for a second because without the imminent threat of WMD this was a preventative war and not a pre-emptive war. Second, while some of these rationales have merit, others do not, and third, even if one only uses the virtuous ideas, the way the war has been carried out is inexcusable: no overwhelming force (despite the much hyped “shock and awe”), ignoring the “Powell doctrine;” no plan to win the peace or an exit strategy, ignoring the planning by both the State Department and the Army War College; no allies (save our Anglophone brethren, which provides a nice civilizational fault line for all you Huntingtonites out there), ignoring the advice of fellow conservative foreign policy specialists like William Kristol and Robert Kagan who in a 2000 National Interest article said,

“The notion that the US could somehow ‘go it alone’ and maintain its pre-eminence without allies is strategically misguided. It is also morally bankrupt.”

This administration embraces a neoconservative foreign policy approach (although some could argue is has strong hints of realism, Cheney I’m looking in your direction) but has no clue how to execute, nor can it take criticism or reevaluate its ideological stance. “Staying the course” isn’t everything with Bush, it’s the only thing.

At Home

To see the true colors of the Bush admisistration, look no further than the tax cuts: heavily tilted toward the wealthy, damaging to homeland security, and fiscally irresponsible.
Bush once said that, “The vast majority of my tax cuts go to those at the bottom.” Big *cough* fat *cough* lie. Anybody use Quicken to do your taxes? It tells you the differences: 2% less for most of you, 3.5% less of you make over $200k.
No civilization in the history in the world has had a tax cut in a time of war; we’ve had three. Bush’s priorities are politically short-term motivated handouts to the have-mores, and neglect…well everything else.
Say you’d favor a more isolationist approach to the threat of terrorism: we could use the money to protect harbors, nuclear plants, chemical plants, etc. Say you favor a more internationalist or neoconservative approach: to again draw from the advice of conservatives Kristol and Kagan,

“…to create a force that can shape the international environment today, tomorrow, and twenty years from now, will probably require spending some $60-100 billion per year above current defense budgets….In a time of large budget surpluses, [that] should be politically feasible.”

Beside the aristocratic, and national security concerns, the cuts are a fiscal disaster. Larger deficits mean more government borrowing, a symptom of fiscal overstretch, which means there is less money around for investment. Increasing deficits will decrease national savings and increase long-term interests rates, consequently lowering incomes.
If Bush was a British Conservative, he would be a Tory (the landed, moralist gentry) and not a Whig (the free-market Thatcherites). While I don’t always agree with all of the results of some free-market capitalism policies, at least there is some empirical evidence to back it up. On the other hand, I can’t stand moralistic, nationalist rhetoric and policy, especially the sanctimonious rejection of cultural relativism and the resulting ideas spewed forth by Bush, Ashcroft, Wolfowitz and other right-wingers.
So to quote another UW Law Professor,

“Whether you like it or not, this election is a referendum on the Bush presidency of 2001-04. If you approve of Bush's presidency, and want to return him to the White House, vote for anybody but Kerry. If you disapprove of Bush's presidency, and want to send that signal, you have no choice but to vote for Kerry.”
So fit this on a bumper sticker, “John Kerry. He certainly couldn’t be any worse.”

On a side note, since the entire EC (I’m forecasting here) has endorsed Kerry (though Danny indirectly) could we now be written off as a “liberal” blog? As least none of us is based in Massachusetts, then our views would be damned for sure.

Read Danny's Endorsement
Read Paul's Endorsement

Signs of the Apocalypse

Quick Hitters:

It isn't enough that the Red Sox are in the World Series after coming back from an 0-3 deficit against the hated New York Yankees, no sir. Just to add fuel to the "end of the world" fire, Neil Rackers, perhaps the worst kicker in the history of the NFL, had to go and make three field goals of 50 yards or more (two from 55!). Beware.

Also, the Dolphins won. Must be time for Halloween. (Note: I was looking up and down their schedule trying to figure out how they would win a game. I figured that their one remaining shot at Buffalo was all that they could hope for. I forgot all about the Martz factor.

And the Chiefs rushed for 8 touchdowns.

There was a bit of a vintage feel to this weeks game with Emmitt Smith gaining over 100 yards, (as did Jimmy Smith, a good day to be an old guy named Smith). Deion had two picks and a touchdown (high steppin' all the way. When Deion does the high step shouldn't the stadium sound system operator play show tunes? Like:

Days can be sunny,
With never a sigh ;
Don't need what money can buy.
Birds in the tree sing
Their dayful of song,
Why shouldn't we sing along ?
I'm chipper all the day,
Happy with my lot.
How do I get that way ?
Look at what I've got :

I got rhythm
I got music
I got my man/girl
Who could ask for anything more ?
I got daisies In green pastures,
I got my man/girl
Who could ask for anything more ?)

This would immensely increase my desire to watch Deion play. Plus whenever they play the Eagles it will make TO uncomfortable.

Then again, if Sunday was a truly "old school day" the Packers would not have beaten the Cowboys by 3 touchdowns.

Some lucky sportswriters were able to write the following sentence this morning:

Derrick Blaylock set a career high by rushing for four touchdowns on Sunday, tied for most on the team.

Peyton Manning got into a shoving match with WR Reggie Wayne (Can you say "Idiot Wide Receiver?")

As I have the ability to injure players that I draft in fantasy football, so do I have the power to inspire great performances by benching people on my fantasy football team, as I did this week to Ahman Green. Hey, the Pack needed the victory. (Plus I have Mewelde Moore, Ruben Droughns, and Rudi Johnson in reserve.)

Craig Krenzel played quarterback in an honest-to-goodness NFL game this week. C'mon Bears, you could have at least called me. I live just down the street, I could have been there in like five minutes.

The Packers now have the 7th best record in the NFC.

Kyle Boller's Ravens won by two touchdowns even though they wee without Jamal Lewis and Boller threw for 86 yards. The Detroit Pistons of the NFL.


Cool, but also creepy.

Just one example of why science is cool:

Currently the brain has learned enough to be able to control the pitch and roll of the simulated F-22 fighter jet in weather conditions ranging from blue skies to hurricane-force winds. Initially the aircraft drifted, because the brain hadn't figured out how to control its "body," but over time the neurons learned to stabilize the aircraft to a straight, level flight.

Definitely read the whole thing.

(Hat tip, Instapundit. He also links to a related article.)

What a bunch of B(C)S

And yes, I am writing this just because Wisconsin is ranked 7th. The BCS is such a joke. Remember last year when everyone complained about USC getting "snubbed" from the national championship game because they lost to Cal early in the season, while OK lost to Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game? Even though Kansas State had a very good team (ranked 12th in the country at the time if memory serves) and Cal was a mediocre team in an absolutely awful PAC-10? (Sure USC lost in triple overtime, but a triple overtime loss is still a loss.) Well, the genius squad that runs the BCS has changed the formula so that the two major polls account for 2/3 of the total ranking, and some computer polls account for the rest. So, just to sum up:

The Coach's poll and the Writer's poll used to determine the National Champion, but some smart football fans thought that it was unfair, because teams like Miami and Florida would get a lot of press by beating the snot out of "The University of Mary's Little Sisters of the Poor." They were right. Coaches can't watch other teams play, and writers are, well, writers.

Enter the BCS. A nice computer model that figured in things like "strength of schedule" and "margin of victory" together so that beating UMLP didn't look as impressive. Unfortunately, the two polls were still there for all to read, and frequently they would disagree with the BCS. "The BCS is terrible!" the pundits would say in 2002. "For even though USC lost twice, surely they are better than Ohio State (I'm sorry, THE Ohio State University)." So they tweaked the BCS. First they took out "margin of victory." Then, because of last year's "debacle" in which the proper teams did in fact meet in the title game, strength of schedule was this year's casualty. So now the BCS is almost completely reliant on the Writer's Poll and the Coach's Poll.

Pundit rates teams.
Pundit says, "People are upset, I must be bad at this."
Pundit says "I will use a formula."
Pundit says "The formula disagrees with me."
Pundit says "It is the formula that must be stupid."


Friday, October 22, 2004

Is it a bad idea to fisk one of your law school professors?

As most of our readers are aware, I am a second year law student at the University of Wisconsin. Several of the professors at my school are prolific bloggers themselves. Many of them, Professor Althouse and Professor Smith in particular, author some of my favorite blogs. Several weeks ago at a "Doughnuts and Faculty" discussion about blogs held at the law school I learned about another UW Law Professor that was, at the time, just starting his own blog. He posts under a pseudonym so I'll protect his anonymity and not say his name here. This blog is, for the most part an extreme pro-Kerry website and, with all due respect to its writer, employs a somewhat petty, Michael Mooreish style of arguing. I guess the primary factor that brought me to this conclusion is this post that describes undecided voters, like myself until a friend bought me a couple of beers, as "know-nothings: undecided ninnies and third-party poopers." Some of the more disturbing parts:

"Let me make it real simple for you. Whether you like it or not, this election is a referendum on the Bush presidency of 2001-04. If you approve of Bush's presidency, and want to return him to the White House, vote for anybody but Kerry. If you disapprove of Bush's presidency, and want to send that signal, you have no choice but to vote for Kerry. I'll explain below."

He begins, kindly enough by making it real simple for me so even my undecided little brain can comprehend the issues. He explains that there is only one possible way to view this election. It is about the past. It is not about what the candidates are going to do, it is only about what one of them has already done. I see it a bit differently. I'm more concerned with the future than the past and although I agree that Bush'e performance until now is an indicator, probably the best indicator, of how he will perform in the future, it is not the sole factor influencing my decision.

"According to pollsters, the great majority of undecideds (which may include some persuadables" who line up with Bush or Kerry in trial heat polls but who may change their minds before election day) have reservations about re-electing Bush or even firm beliefs that Bush does not deserve to be re-elected, but they have yet to find reasons to vote for Kerry.This is the "know nothings" version of the foolishness shared by our entire country about electing a president. You are waiting for Kerry to say something convincing, or perhaps to show some personality that would make you "bond" with him. But the president is not running for the job of "your friend," and running for president is not an oral exam – whatever candidates might say on the campaign trail, there are stronger indicators of what their respective administrations will do. You can look at Bush's last administration to see what he would do; and you can look at Clinton's administration, modify it somewhat by information derived from Kerry's voting record and his web site, and come up with a decent guess about a Kerry administration. This isn't an exact science. Nor is it rocket science."

I do not see why wanting to hear something convincing is so undesirable. I want to hear how Kerry stands and what his plan is, not just that he has one. I think this is exactly what we should use to decide who we vote for. It should be much more important for us to hear something convincing from a presidential candidate than from our friends. I actually don't make my friends convince me of anything. And I find the idea that the Kerry administration will be so similar to the Clinton administration as to sway me to be somewhat far-fetched. I think Kerry's website is a good place to get information on him. In fact, that would be a great place for him to say something convincing!

"You may be a perfectionist when it comes to politics. You are "sick and tired" of having to vote for "the lesser of two evils." You have a personal report card for politicians – like the voting report cards of advocacy groups (e.g., Senator Smith has voted the way we want 70% of the time) – and you just can't stomach the idea of voting for someone who unless you agree with his or her positions at least 95% of the time. Your motto, when it comes to politics is, "always let the best be the enemy of the good."

This illustrates my main argument pretty well. If you assume that most people agree with one candidate or the other 70% of the time this argument holds some water. However, there are many people that don't agree with either candidate anywhere near 70%, or even 25% of the time. These people often fall into the group that you call know-nothings.

"How about just getting over yourself? Clearly you've noticed that politics is imperfect, but not all saints check out of the real world just because it's imperfect. We live in a country of close to 300 million people, and guess what: not all of them share your views, but all of them will be governed by the president who gets elected whether you like it or not. Our democracy functions because there is compromise and accommodation among some of these 300 million people."

How about just getting over yourself? Of course politics isn't perfect. That doesn't mean that anybody who doesn't like the idea of going down to the 387th and 388th most important issues to them in order to find support for one candidate over the other is a know-nothing.

"You'll agree with me that elections are a key part of what keeps our system of government democratic. Presidential elections, while an imperfect and blunt instrument, send signals to would-be presidential administrations about what policies people want, and what policies people really don't want but the administration can nevertheless get away with. The only surefire way to send the clearest possible signal of disapproval is to vote in a way that will defeat an incumbent administration that you believe has governed badly."

An even better way to send a clear signal of disapproval is to not vote at all. This works especially well if the two major candidates have practically all of the same problems.

"That's where your vote for Nader, or your decision not to vote, falls on its face. Let me illustrate with some numbers. If you're an undecided leaning against Bush, or a pro-Naderite, say you agree with the Bush administration about 25% of the time. You probably agree with what a Kerry administration would do somewhere between 50%-75% of the time, but you are withholding your support from Kerry because he's waffly about gay marriage, or he's not warm and friendly, or because he doesn't say that corporations are evil."

And here is where your argument falls on its face: Most people in the undecided camp do not agree with Candidate X 25% of the time and Candidate Y the other 50-75%. We agree with Candidate X 8% of the time and Candidate Y 8% of the time. Bush and Kerry issues ar NOT mutually exclusive. To many of us, the dichotomy between Republicans and Democrats is correctly described as big government versus small government. If the system is functioning properly, this is the most important issue. When both candidates are focusing on how they will make government bigger it becomes very easy for someone like me to remain undecided late in the race. I would rather hear about what they will not do than what they will do. I would like to believe that many undecided see it the same way and that we're not just a bunch of know-nothings. Anyway, that's just my take on it. Besided the "know nothings," he also posts about other types of voters including the "Partisans, " and the "Intellects." Read the whole thing and see what you think.


I will be leaving for Madison shortly to attend the homecoming game between the Badgers and Northwestern. While Northwestern is generally regarded as a Big-10 cellar-dweller they have been a thorn in the side of the Badgers for a few years now. I'm worried about this one because Erasmus James is out with an ankle injury, Anthony Davis is still knicked up, and Northwestern can score points.

This is a typical let down situation, I just hope that all of the Badger players remember the horrible defeat last year in Evanston. All that stands between the Badgers and the National Championship Game are Northwestern, Minnesota, Michigan State, and Iowa (and probably losses to either Miami, USC, or Oklahoma). Blowing an undefeated season on a home game against the Wildcats would be a travesty.

If you're watching on TV, I'll be the one in red.

Enjoy the weekend.


I, like my brother, have had a very difficult time choosing a candidate to support in the upcoming presidential election. I too view this election as a choice between two unqualified idiots. For the last few months I have been trying to weigh the pros and cons of the two candidates. There is no reasonable, fiscal conservative, pro-science, secular candidate on the ticket. Of course I realize that this would be asking for waayyy too much. The sad part is that both of these guys are just about the exact opposite of what I'm looking for.

I could start going down my list of important issues and make my choice based on the 637th most important issue to me but I have found a much more practical way to choose my candidate.

I will be voting for John Kerry. However, I do not endorse him as a candidate. Last week Thursday I was in a bar with several friends and, this being Madison, most of them were in the Kerry camp. We began to talk about politics. I was complaining about how fed up I was with the election and how I couldn't stand either candidate enough to pull the lever in their favor. My friend Jason had the perfect solution. I would "trade" my vote to Jason for two beers.

Before that Thursday night, a vote for Bush could get me four more years of religious rhetoric and boneheaded statements in support of retarded policies. A vote for Kerry could get me four years of hippie, commie, nanny-state rhetoric and boneheaded statements in support of retarded policies. Now, however, a vote for Kerry would get me four years of hippie, commmie, nanny-state rhetoric and boneheaded statements in support of retarded policies and two beers. The choice became obvious. For this reason, I endorse trading your vote in the 2004 presidential election for two beers.

Read Ryan's Endorsement
Read Paul's Endorsement


After thinking long and hard about whom I should endorse for President, I am finally comfortable enough to make a recommendation. All of the EC contributors were debating whether or not to offer a group endorsement, but in the end our views were not compatible enough to constitute one coherent platform. Therefore, we will be offering endorsements as individuals.

I have bemoaned this campaign since is started over a year ago. I realize that I am in a niche market politically, but the lack of a fiscal conservative in this race basically disqualified both candidates as viable options for me. However, just because the presidential candidates disagree with me on a fundamental issue does not mean that one is indistinguishable from the other.

When you vote, you should think about the candidates as mascots, for that is all that they are. This is Ronald McDonald v. The Burger King. The only true way to judge the two is to first look at the policies espoused by the administration as a whole, and then look at the likelihood of that agenda being enacted. Ignore personalities, talking points, Vietnam, the National Guard, Lambert Field, Manny Ortiz, Mary Cheney, Kerry’s naked daughter, Bush’s hammered daughters, Halliburton, the Patriot Act, the many creative uses of the English language employed by our President, and all of the other crap that the campaigns try to foist on us as being relevant campaign issues.

So what does matter? There are two issues that are far more important than anything else; Iraq, and National Spending.

First, Iraq.

Whether or not going there was a good idea is sort of irrelevant at this point, but let’s look at it anyway. I am actually a bit of a neo-conservative with regard to foreign policy. I believe that the promotion of democracy abroad is the best way to ensure national security and the best way to improve the lives of those in other countries. I am not averse to pre-emptive military action per se, but the justification for it should be well articulated and well supported. Moreover, I can understand the attractiveness of Iraq, as it should have been easier for those formerly under a totalitarian regime to realize a democratic government than for those under an Islamic theocracy. Obviously the example of Afghanistan shows us that this is not necessarily the case.

The Bush Administration gave many reasons for the war (I went to see Dan Drezner take part in a foreign policy debate a few months back, and I believe that he put the number at 38 separate reasons) and I always thought that the most important one was democracy promotion. They failed to emphasize this, to their detriment.

So, I don’t have any large objections to the existence of the Iraq war. That being said, I echo the concerns of Andrew Sullivan that the war is being run by incompetent ideologues operating in an anti-negativity bubble. Not once has the administration admitted a mistake. Only once (George Tenet) did someone lose his or her job over a mistake, and in Tenet’s case, it was the huge "mistake" of Abu Ghraib. Bush talks of accountability, but words mean nothing when there are no subsequent actions.

Donald Rumsfeld had a view for creating lighter more efficient armed forces, a sort of giant Special Forces operation, but the result was an understaffed military, not a more efficient one.

But there are two sides to every story. Would John Kerry be better? Or more appropriately, would he be worse? No politician has ever done a worse job at articulating his position on an issue than John Kerry has on Iraq. Can anyone tell me what he will do? Will he stay or pull out? If he stays, how long will he stay? Will elections still be held in January? I don’t know.
But there are clues.

Simply pulling troops out would be political suicide for Kerry. I believe that the public pressure on Kerry would not allow him to do worse than the President. While his assertions that he will get the UN or NATO involved are annoying and border on outright lies, they are ultimately harmless. Whether he wants to or not, Kerry will have to be aggressive in Iraq, or he will lose, just as Bush may lose this election for that very same reason. (Dan Drezner's reasoning in his endorsement is similar.)

Kerry would also repair our relationship with Europe. Some conservatives play this off with platitudes about not caring what the French think of us. Personally I don’t care what the French think of us. The French can barely govern their own country and will probably be bankrupt within 25 years, however, it is undeniably easier to get things done on the international scene when other nations are not openly hostile toward the President. This should not be the deciding factor, but it is a factor, and it does matter. European politicians, after all, are under pressure from their constituencies too. If they are too friendly to the US at a time when the US is unpopular they will be voted out of office, and that is not in our best interest.

I honestly don’t know if Kerry would be better or worse than Bush. Is it better to have someone that you agree with perform poorly or someone that you disagree with perform well? And who knows if he will perform well? He may be awful. In fact, I suspect that an awful performance is likely.

I have concluded that John Kerry will be forced kicking and screaming to continue with initiatives that I favor. His superficial appeal to European ninnies (yes ninnies) is a bonus. And if he is worse than Bush, it should be easy to vote him out in four years, just as Bush will have been voted out after four years.

Domestic Issues

As for domestic issues (let’s talk spending and free trade) I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. The frying pan and the fire. A fool, and the man who follows the fool. Bush has increased domestic spending enormously and at the same time, cut taxes. He has participated in what can only be described as blatant fiscal irresponsibility. That being said, he is not without a few positives.

While discretionary spending is rampant and awful, entitlements pose the greatest threats to the country's fiscal solvency. Social Security faces a population problem, and Medicare faces a retiring baby boom with rising healthcare costs (not unrelated, by the way). Bush has proposed a workable solution – private health care accounts for current workers. I, in an uncharacteristically non-libertarian stance, wouldn’t even mind seeing these become mandatory for my generation (to prevent irresponsible use in the future, or borrowing against accounts). Bush has proposed similar accounts to alleviate pressures on Social Security. Kerry has vehemently stated that he will never privatize Social Security.

What a dork.

The current system will collapse. Pundits deride Bush's plan as too expensive, citing a one trillion-dollar "transition cost." This is simply bad accounting on two fronts.

First, as Arnold Kling has pointed out, it could be financed by borrowing and, because the future liability will disappear, paid back as my generation retired, without increasing taxes.
Second, this one trillion-dollar "transition cost" is already on the books, although the government hides it from you through Enron-style accounting. The way in which SS is currently funded is that workers pay in to the government, and the government pays that money out to the retired, but notice that something is missing. Money is still owed to future generations, i.e. my generation. This money must either come from my generation or the next generation, and it is this set up (which Milton Friedman once compared appropriately to chain letter) that is responsible for the deficit in the first place. If the government were totally honest they would list the future liability of SS as a current expense.

Kerry has no plan (at least no articulated plan) to fix this, and that is a huge liability in my book.
As for drugs, they are both terrible, but at least Bush is against price controls and re-importation from Canada (which, by the way, won’t reduce prices here anyway, but will either increase prices in Canada or lead to shortages their).

I find despicable the anti free-trade sentiment in this country. Free trade is great for the economy. It creates jobs, it ensures efficiency and it keeps prices low. Unfortunately almost every ad I hear is touting a plan to protect American jobs from those dirty foreigners, or touting "fair trade." I have news for everyone: All trade is fair. If it is not fair, than it is not trade, but is instead coercion or theft. When people trade, both parties are better off and wealth is created. Barriers on trade create inefficiencies, job losses and, most importantly, a decline in productivity. Productivity is the most important single economic property for measuring the welfare of a society and almost anything that stunts productivity should be viewed as an enemy to society.

That being said as far as I can tell neither candidate knows a thing about the economics of free trade (or his ass from a hole in the ground). Bush passed tariffs in swing states with strong labor interests, and Kerry and Edwards have made the "evils of outsourcing" a centerpiece of their campaign. Outsourcing is not a bad thing. Bush is probably a bit better (Kerry’s voting record is not encouraging), but this is basically a wash.

All of this caused me a lot of consternation, as both candidates, with respect to domestic policy, are losers. If both candidates are losers, and in favor of harmful policies, then obviously you should chose the one who will act the least. The two houses of Congress will, in all likelihood, remain Republican, and while the Senate is vulnerable, the House will almost certainly remain Republican. If Kerry is elected he will face a hostile Congress for at least two years and more likely all four years. I happen to like gridlock quite a bit, and this is an appealing setup. Much of Bill Clinton’s good fortune can be attributed to a hostile Congress.

Bush has had a friendly Congress his entire first term and he has used his power solely to enact laws that piss me off.

Therefore, I must begrudgingly endorse John Forbes Kerry for President. I believe that the citizenry will keep him in line with regard to foreign policy, and the Republicans in Congress will check him on domestic policy. Perhaps if Bush had been facing an opposition Congress during his first term I wouldn’t be writing this. It is disturbing that he never vetoed a bill over his four years. I often think that if I were President I would veto almost every bill, but he was not restrained, and he used his power foolishly.

Kerry is the lesser of two unqualified morons and I hope that my lengthy rationale above helps you feel slightly less dirty after you pull the lever on November 2nd. Personally, I still feel the need to take a shower after writing the paragraph before this one. And remember there’s always 2008.

Read Danny's Endorsement
Read Ryan's Endorsement

Theresa Heinz Kerry says something stupid every day.

Colby and Beyond has a roundup of her embarrassing antics here.

Undermining Confidence

For the last two months, New York Times columnists Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert have made it their personal mission to undermine the credibility of the upcoming election in Florida. Paul Krugman has a column today asserting that officials in Florida will rig the election for Bush and "disenfranchise" minority voters, and that in the last election 22,000 minority voters were denied the right to vote:

Last week I described Greg Palast's work on the 2000 election, reported recently in Harper's, which conclusively shows that Florida was thrown to Mr. Bush by a combination of factors that disenfranchised black voters. These included a defective felon list, which wrongly struck thousands of people from the voter rolls, and defective voting machines, which disproportionately failed to record votes in poor, black districts.

Greg Palast, that name sounds familiar. Oh, I remember. He wrote this. Actually, his books seem to have a bit of a theme to them.

I have no problem with Palast or anyone else writing anti-Bush books. This is a free country, and the President has generously provided so much material. What I do object to is Paul Krugman having blind faith in the works of an author who clearly has an agenda and an axe to grind for support in a New York Times column. Why not just rely on Michael Moore? (And would it kill the NYT to insert hyperlinks into their on-line stories? Krugman argues by authority here, relying on Palast. A quick link to the Harper's article (unlikely) or even to Palast's book list would have added some transparency to the column.)

As for the substance, I would be naive to assert that everything was kosher in Florida four years ago. But, as Captain Ed likes to point out occasionally:

But let's take a look at where these voters were disenfranchised, according to the USCCR. As the nation painfully learned in the aftermath of the 2000 election debacle in Florida, the counties control the ballot preparation and voting procedures in the Sunshine State. In the executive summary of the report, the commission specifically mentions Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties -- all controlled by the same party: Democrats. In fact, 24 of the 25 counties that had the highest ballot-spoilage rates were run by Democrats, not Republicans.

It is common to assign the role of "villain" of the 2000 election to Jeb Bush, but the fact is that a governor doesn't have much control over the election process. Moreover:

The only state-level function specifically pointed out by the commission was the felon purge list, which has only been confirmed to have kept three eligible voters from casting ballots on Election Day in 2000. In fact, as USCCR member Peter Kirsanow put it in his minority report:

Whites were actually twice as likely as blacks to be erroneously placed on the list. In fact, an exhaustive study by the Miami Herald concluded that "the biggest problem with the felon list was not that it prevented eligible voters from casting ballots, but that it ended up allowing ineligible voters to cast a ballot."* According to the Palm Beach Post, more than 6,500 ineligible felons voted.

Which brings us back to vote fraud v. vote suppression. Both parties probably have legitimate concerns, but I detest the strategy of undermining confidence in the voting process as a political ploy. The process is much more important than anyone's ideology and everyone should respect that fact. I'm hoping for a landslide (either way) just to avoid all of the uncertainty and law suits that will inevitably follow a close election.

Krugman, remember, is a professor of economics at Princeton. If he is going to raise concerns about the voting process in Florida, he should be able to find a more reliable source than Palast. The fact that he could not do so undermines his point more than anything else.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Leprechauns successfully lobby to have St. Patrick's Day cancelled.

Usually when you here about schools or neighborhoods canceling Halloween some uppity killjoy Christian group is to blame. This, however, is a new one for me.

You've got to be kidding.

Pie in the sky

In the third debate, John Kerry said:

I have a plan to cover all Americans. We're going to make it affordable and accessible. We're going to let everybody buy into the same health-care plan senators and congressmen give themselves.

Yesterday, this story was released:

While many Americans search in vain for flu shots, members and employees of Congress are able to obtain them quickly and at no charge from the Capitol's attending physician, who has urged all 535 lawmakers to get the vaccines even if they are young and healthy.

Question: Is Kerry's position reconcilable with the Flu Vaccine story?


There is simply no limit to the scientific possibilities that could result from...

making ferrets watch The Matrix.

(Hat tip to Virginia Postrel.)

It took four years and millions of dollars,

but the voting machines in Florida are finally fool proof.

North Korea and South Korea

in a nutshell. Plus the most disturbing hotel ever built.

Game Seven

As liveblogged by Ahren:

5:32 -- cat stevens just led off the game with a single. ohhhh baby baby, it's a wild world.

5:35 -- johnny walker lindh just stole second base... al jazeera to have film at 11

5:39 -- kris kristofferson gets thrown out at home. what in god's name is (3b coach) dale sveum thinking there with 1 out? mccarver predictably gushes about jeter's standard relay throw. "you only see a relay like that 3 or 4 times." 3 or 4 times a year? a day? what the hell are you talking about?

He also comments on the A-Rod Bitch Slap here.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Warning: Football column this week will be a rambling brain dump.

This is entirely the fault of work, and the Yankees and Red Sox who, on Monday started their game while I was at work and failed to finish before I went to bed.

The A-Rod Bitch Slap

We must coin this phrase and get it into popular use. Personally, I think that "A-Rod Bitch Slap" should refer to any pathetic attempt to cheat. The reason that A-Rod was called out is that he obviously tried to girlie-slap the ball out of Arroyo’s hand. What if he just puts his head down and charges up the line straight at him, and either runs through the glove or plows him over?
According to Section 6.1 of the MLB Umpire Manual:

While contact may occur between a fielder and runner during a tag attempt, a runner is not allowed to use his hands or arms to commit an obviously malicious or unsportsmanlike act.

Bronson did not have a good grip on the ball, and if he’s just running hard through a tag and dislodges that ball, he probably gets the call. No, it was his wussy little slap that exposed his pathetic attempt to cheat, made more pathetic by his repeated attempts to argue with umpires about the call. What was he arguing about? Can you imagine taking A-Rod’s side on that call? What do you argue?

"Your honor, no one has a right to touch my client in that way. He was merely defending himself."

That is the best I can come up with short of the Chewbacca defense.

Say you just ordered a McDonald’s Cheeseburger and you want more ketchup. You could ask for more, taking the straightforward approach, but instead you walk behind the counter and take 20 packets out of the box. That is an A-Rod Bitch Slap. Or you could attempt to illegally deduct the cost of a manicure from your taxes after breaking a nail while filling out a form at the DMV. Or you could use "steroid cream" on your knee. Now that’s an A-Rod Bitch Slap.

Spread the word.

And for more, check out Bill Simmons for the Red Sox perspective, and Ethan for the Yankees.

Football Players That I Personally Injured.

As I have pointed out before, I have the power to injure football players by drafting them in a fantasy league. So far I have used this awesome power to knock off Deuce McAllister, Stephen Davis, Todd Heap, Kellen Winslow, Lamar Gordon, Julian Peterson (yes we have defensive players) Brandon Lloyd, Najeh Davenport, Garrison Hearst, and Troy Brown.
This week I used my powers to fell Adawale Ogunleye, Reche Caldwell, and I got Koren Robinson suspended for four games. Beware my awesome powers, all ye NFL players. And sorry.

Closing Walls and Ticking Clocks

I have already mentioned the Dallas clock operator once, but if the Cowboys hit that ill-gotten Hail Mary, he has to be the player of the game.

With eight seconds remaining and still too far away for a Hail Mary, Vinny threw a little shovel pass to Richie Anderson who picked up a good chunk of yardage and then flipped it back to Terry Glenn who got into Pittsburgh territory. As Glenn was trying to get out of bounds with one second left he was hit and went airborne. The clock was at one before he was even hit. He flipped up in the air, came down, landed out of bounds, and the official blew his whistle, all in the span of one second. I wrote this post in less time than it took to run that play.

Trade Winds

One of my first posts on the website was about how trades would become more common in the NFL as teams adjusted to the salary cap. It is easy to envision scenarios under which bad NFL teams rent players who will soon be free agents to contenders for draft picks. This happens in baseball all the time, and when a player is in the final year of a contract in the NFL, the dreaded "salary cap death sentence" does not manifest.

People were shocked to see three fairly major deals take place this week, but I was shocked that there were not more. Jerry Rice was reunited with Mike Holmgren in exchange for a conditional seventh round pick. He’ll temporarily replace Koren Robinson, who’s going on a four-week vacation, and was dropping the ball a lot for some unknown reason.

Keenan McCardell, longtime Buc holdout, was traded to the Chargers who lost the aforementioned Reche Caldwell for the year.

And the Cowboys and Ravens swapped Antonio Bryant for Quincy Morgan.

I think the NFL would benefit from moving the trade deadline forward a few weeks so those teams could be more certain of their position. This would probably promote more blockbuster deals, and would be more interesting in general.

A quick word about Mark Brunell

They have to take him out. I don’t care if they replace him with a Chimp, (Note: There is no rule that says a monkey can’t play football!) but they have to get him off the field. He has no arm strength left, and after every snap he sprints 15 yards backward as fast as he can. Why would you possibly do this? His 5-yard passes all travel 20 yards. Has he been playing John Elway’s Quarterback?

Keyshawn no longer stupidest, loudest Johnson.

Keyshawn’s cousin Chad sent a case of Pepto to the Cleveland Browns secondary because the thought of covering him makes the stomach rumble. The Cleveland secondary must have taken some Pepcid instead, (Pepcid works in advance, Pepto works afterwards) as they held Johnson to 3 catches for 37 yards. Chad does turn my stomach a bit.

Quick Hitters:

Mark Brunell threw for 95 yards in a winning effort. This bested Bears QB Jonathan Quinn by 30 yards.

The Colts have scored 159 points in just five games. But the Chargers lead the league, with 160 (over 6).

The Packers have still given up more points (152) than anyone except the Niners and Saints.

In a close game, the Bears RB Thomas Jones got 24 carries, which is a good amount. Across the line Clinton Portis got 36.

The new Houston team beat the old Houston team 20-10.

The Dolphins lost to the Bills - in my opinion the second worst team in football. Next week they play the Rams. Can they go 0-16? And if they do, in 30 years will Jay Fiedler, Brock Forsey, Chris Chambers, and Junior Seau all get together when the last all-defeated NFL team gets its first win of the season and split a bottle of Boone’s?

We need to know these things!


I'll sleep better knowing that...

Robert Byrd, Trent Lott, John Edwards, Zell Miller, Russ Feingold, Joe Lieberman and everyone else in Congress have free and abundant flu shots all around them. I'm sure you are all shocked to hear that Congress is getting first dibs on an item in short supply. Shocked! Joe Lieberman said:

I haven't done it yet, but I want to. We're not in the priority category set by the CDC. But I think the [Capitol's] doctor makes a good case. We can pick it up and spread it through interactions with constituents.

At last, we're all finally safe from Joe Lieberman. Read the whole thing here.

(Hat tip, Marginal Revolution)

"Politically nuanced debate shows"

Jon Stewart appeared on CNN's Crossfire on Friday and finally called them out. He said everything I've ever wanted to say to the hosts of the various debate shows, and then some. You can view his Crossfire appearance here -- it's an absolute must. You can also view Stewart's reflection on the confrontation during Monday's "Daily Show" here.

The fact that Carlson and Begala attempt to pick on Stewart for not asking "pointed" questions of Kerry highlights the amazing amount of legitimacy the Daily Show actually commands. And Stewart has a great comment regarding Tucker Carlson's bowtie. Great stuff.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


I've been trying to write about football and give an election endorsement, but it's going to be a busy week. Fortunately, because of the Dallas Cowboys clock operator I was able to do the dishes, clean the bathroom, take out the trash, and get in some light reading in under one second, so I should be able to get to a few things tomorrow. To keep you busy:

Someone's been manipulating the Tradesports futures market:

Should Luskin be worried that his candidate is being sold down? Not at all. A surprising result in these markets is that manipulators subsidize information traders. Think about it this way, by definition manipulators aren't trying to predict the true outcome so they are likely to take losses and the more they try to manipulate the bigger the losses. Now if the manipulators are taking losses who is making money? The information traders! Manipulators, therefore, encourage and support the information traders. Manipulation isn't impossible but it's surprising how little information other trader's need to not only avoid the manipulation but to profit from it.

From Alex Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution commenting on this post by Donald Luskin.

Andrew Sullivan has the endorsement you've all been waiting for here. Hopefully they don't all space on the date.

And Randall Parker has this fascinating article on fast cheap space travel.

And there's a new TMQ.

And you have probably already heard Jon Stewart call Tucker Carlson a "big dick" but in case you haven't, here is the Crossfire transcript. Or you can watch it here.

That should hold you for a day.

Hey man, can I get a hit of that flu vaccine?

This post from Kevin Drum strikes me as spot on:

That leaves explanation #5, and at first glance it seems the most likely to be the real deal. The FDA has a famously tight regulatory regime, made even tighter in the late 90s, and as a result the United States has only two approved manufacturers of flu vaccine while Britain has half a dozen. (Although, ironically, it's worth noting that a breakdown of the regulatory regime seems to be a more likely explanation for Chiron's immediate problem.) The bottom line is that there are other flu vaccine manufacturers besides Chiron and Aventis, but they don't sell into the U.S. market because the cost of complying with FDA regulations is higher than the narrow profits they could expect to make from selling flu vaccine.

(Hat tip, Instapundit)

Monday, October 18, 2004

If You Thought Starbucks was an Empire Now...

Just You Wait.

Also includes a reference to the Onion as merely an online newspaper. Not only is there a print edition, but there was a print edition even before there was an online edition. Oh yeah, and it's from the Midwest. Get with the times.

And here is why it will work:

The Wall Street Journal earlier this year sent samples of coffee from Starbucks, 7-Eleven, and Dunkin' Donuts to Central Analytical Laboratories. The lab reported that a 16-ounce Starbucks house blend coffee contained 223 milligrams of caffeine, compared with 174 and 141 milligrams in comparable amounts of Dunkin' Donuts and 7-Eleven coffee, respectively. According to the Journal, the average Starbucks coffee drink contains 320 milligrams of caffeine. (This chart from the Center for Science in the Public Interest shows different measurement levels, including the scary finding that a 16-ounce Starbucks grande has nearly three times as much caffeine as a No-Doz.)

From Slate.

Mmmmm. Pi.

This is awesome:

But before you wrap your head too tightly around that, consider what Pincus observed when he started comparing these strings of digits: some have higher levels of entropy (randomness), some lower. Then he started looking for the same characteristic of entropy in real-world strings of numbers, such as you might get from tracking, say, the stock market. He discovered that the stock market hits its highest level of entropy right before a crash.

(Via the Carnival of the Capitalists)

And when you're done with that, read this post by Tim Worstall:

We know that minimum wages disproportionately damage the employment prospects of the unproductive, those with the lowest productivity rates. Who are these people? Yes, the young and untrained. What would we predict (and what did people predict) would be the result of a national minimum wage? A rise in unemployment rates amongst the young and untrained. What are we seeing? Yup.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Bush's Biggest Homeland Security Mistake was...

...the Medicare perscription drug plan: justification coming soon. Discuss.

As promised:

When it comes to preserving Pax Americana, it is not the much criticized and publicized military overstretch that will limit our decisions when it comes to foreign policy that maintains American primacy; it is our fiscal overstretch at home.
I imagaine that in a drunken moment of honesty, a Bush administration insider would tell you that the war on terror (what happened to that “ism”), and indeed the war in Iraq, will be going on well into the foreseeable future. Thus, it is in the interests of America to plan for the future, even if that means a risky political decision in the short term.
That risky political decision should be a close examination of our explicit and implicit liabilities and how and when they will begin to affect our much-lauded unilateralism, that is to say, freedom of action.
When pundits and government “experts” speak of the nation’s ballooning debt, they only speak of the explicit liabilities, which are mostly bonds in the hands East Asian bankers (troubling in and of itself). They do not include the massive implicit debt in the form of entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare. The projected shortfall for the government’s implicit liabilities is optimistically $45 trillion. To close this gap it would require raising income taxes by 69% or cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits by half. Since no sane politician is going to put “Raising Taxes by 2/3!” on his campaign button (versus “A Stronger America” What exactly does that mean? But I digress), the best we could hope for is policy that won’t exacerbate the problem. Instead we get a poorly crafted prescription drug plan that makes it illegal for Medicare to bargain for cheaper prices by using its immense purchasing power, and an extremely irresponsible tax cut in the midst of a war.
There is a fiscal crisis looming on the horizon, and if our politicians continue to refuse to deal with it, our security is going to be threatened by forces stronger and more damaging than Al Qaeda. Thus, the most damaging homeland security decision the Bush Administration has made is not their decision to invade Iraq or Afghanistan, nor is it their under funding of security programs at home; it’s their extension and expansion of our implicit liabilities.

When it comes to environmental issues, there is one voice that simply can't be ignored.

Leonardo Di Caprio.

Actor Leonardo Di Caprio deemed President George W. Bush’s environmental policies failures of epic proportions Wednesday in Madison, attracting a large — and mostly female — audience to the Orpheum Theater.

Bush pays lip service to environmental causes, Di Caprio said, but hides a record of increasing carbon-dioxide emissions and rolling-back progress made under the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts.

Di Caprio, famous for playing the role of "Luke" on Growing Pains, is certainly not a credible source when it comes to environmental issues, or anything else for that matter. For starters, he was mostly wrong. But more importantly, he has done nothing in this field that should entitle him to an audience. I realize that it is not Di Caprio's fault that people care about what he says but it is still rather troubling that it takes an actor to get students to pay attention to the issues. If there is one group of people that is actually less informed than students, it has to be actors.

And Di Caprio was just one of a string of know-nothing actors and celebrities that have visited Madison to pledge their support for Kerry. Natalie Portman was here in early October to speak, FOR 3 MINUTES!, in support of Kerry. The Dave Mathews Band, Ben Harper and Jurassic 5 brought their Pro-Kerry tour to the Kohl Center and today this know-nothing celebrity will make an appearance.

Is this what our election process has been reduced to? Listening to an actress's endorsement of a presidential candidate because I think she's cute. I suppose in this election it's as good a reason as any to choose your poison but I'd still like to know where the experts are. Where the scholars are. Where the people that understand how the real world works are.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Fun Friday

This week on Fun Friday we look at the worst Halloween costumes ever. (Hat tip, Diztopia)

Fisk Bill, Volume One

Every week Bill Simmons picks games against the spread. His little stories justifying each pick are often strangely compelling, but there are two sides to every spread. The other side starts now. Home team in caps, of course.

Bill says: Packers (+2) over LIONS

When did the "Holy Crap, I totally forgot Mike Sherman is a terrible coach!" light bulb start flickering over your head? For me, it was the second quarter of the Monday night game.
Unfortunately ...
I can't pick against them with Joey Harrington, Artose Pinner, Tai Streets and Az Hakim prominently involved. I just can't do it. I tried. Really, I did. Even typed it out and everything.

Paul says: I can. Notice Bill doesn't mention any defensive players, and unlike the Packers, the Lions actually have a few. I'm not picking the Pack until they show me something on defense (and Artose may be "sucky" he does hang on to the ball). I'll be rooting for my Pack, but I pick with my head. Jason Hanson for three.

Bill says: Seahawks (+4) over PATRIOTS

Scary game for the banged-up Pats, between the injuries, Brady's S.I. cover, the weight of the streak, and a good Seahawks team that will be desperate after last week's debacle (and those things happen -- remember, it almost happened to the Pats last year against Indy). I don't feel good about this game at all. And that's not even a reverse jinx.

Paul says: You call last week a debacle, I'll call it an exposure. The Seahawks beat up on losers (Saints, Buc, Niners) and finally played a good team and lost. Well, the Pats are the best team. They may be banged up, but it never matters for the Patriots. Another blowout and 20 in a row. (But Bill was right to rip on Peter King for making Jake Plummer his pre-season MVP. I mean, it's Jake Plummer!)

Bill says: BEARS (-1) over Redskins

No justification offered up, though he does refer to the Bears QB as Dr. Jonathan Quinn.

Paul says: The Bears best players are all hurt. The Redskins have a good defense and a pathetic offense. But still, a good defense. The Bears have the medicine woman, DT, and nobody on defense. When the line is close, take the better defense.

Bill says: JAGUARS (+2) over Chiefs

Shhhhhhhhhh ...
(Can you hear that sound?)
Shhhhhhhhhh ...
(Wait a second ...)
I think that's the sound of the Fred Taylor Roto Breakout Week ...
(Just stay perfectly quiet for two seconds ...)

Paul says: Yeah, it's hard to argue with this logic, as it's the Chiefs and all. As always, the Chiefs will have to outscore their opponents, so why will they do it here? Simple, the Jags defense is not as good as it has looked. In fact, it is wore than the Chiefs! (I love Outsiders for stats like this). Priest will run all over these guys, and Trent will finally not commit a stupid turnover. A blowout.

Bill says: Bengals (+3) over BROWNS

Question: When Jeff Garcia and Butch Davis are feuding, are Browns fans expected to choose sides? Is it like the Bush-Kerry thing where you just keep listening to the quotes and the petty barbs and thinking, "One of these days, I'll probably have to form an opinion about this?" Or do you just root for them to fight to the death? I'd love to know how this works.

Paul says: This one is simple. Sure the Browns have looked occasionally repugnant. Sure their coach is an idiot. But Lee Suggs is all you need. He's a star in the making, and as long as his neck stays firmly attached to his shoulders, he'll run all over these Bengals, who haven't embraced Marvin Lewis's system so much this year (Curtis Martin - 196 yards, Jamal Lewis - 186 yards, Duce Staley - 123 yards. The only team they stopped was Miami, and let's just say that in the Miami playbook, when you get to the part labeled "opponent's territory," inside you'll find the following sentence written in calligraphy: Here there be dragons.) Look for Lee to crack 175, and Carson to continue his regression.

Bill says: JETS (-10) over Niners

This Jets team shouldn't be favored by 10 points over anybody. I can't say that strongly enough. And yet I feel like last week's Niners win has all the makings of being the final scene in their 2004 Highlight Video. You know how those babies come on ESPN2 at 3 a.m., and you're watching one of the crappy teams, and they'll show highlights from a comeback win like that as the announcer says, "Even though the Niners went on to lose their last 10 games by a combined 370 points, the comeback win against the Cardinals would endure for them and their fans ..."

Paul says: He had it correct after the first sentence. This Niners team, when it has a healthy Tim Rattay (it does too matter) will not get blown out. Why?
1. They can run the ball.
2. Even without poor Julian, they can still play defense.

The Jets this year are not high scoring (as all of us Justin McCareins fantasy owners know all too well), and to win by 10,they will need to play a perfect game. The Niners may/will lose, but not by that much.

Bill says: SAINTS (+3.5) over Vikings

When in doubt, take the points.
(And yes -- I know the Saints are terrible and they can't be trusted. But that's the thing about them. Just when you zig, they zag. When you zag, they zig. So you have to guess the zig before they zig, and you have to guess the zag before they zag. This makes a lot more sense when you're drunk.)

Paul says: I have a better rule: Never bet on the Saints. If you think the Saints might win, just don't bet anything.

The Vikings will score a lot, that we know. And the Saints will screw up a lot, that we also know. What more do you need to know? (OK, this one scares me too. The real book on the Saints is that they play to the level of their competition. Actually forget about the line on this one and just take the "over.")

Bill says: Chargers (+4.5) over FALCONS

The Chargers are like Chris and Rory on "Survivor." In other words, I have no idea how they're in the playoff hunt, nobody else does, it defies all logic .. and yet every week, those guys are still plugging away. I give up.

Paul says: I don't know who those people are, but I know that the Falcons defense is quite good (Ed Donatell and all) and that the Chargers start Drew Brees. Oh, and LT is banged up (no, not Lawrence Tynes, Ladanian Tomlinson). As long as Vick is free to roam, take the Falcons and home.

Bill says: BILLS (-6) over Dolphins

(By the way, I like this stretch for the Bills right now: Home for the Dolphins; at Baltimore; then home for the Cards and Jets. Couldn't you see them putting a little streak together, then losing the next eight games by a total of 9 points?)

Paul says: Hmm, a reason to actually place money on the Dolphins. How about this:
1. The Dolphins are still good on defense.
2. The Bills, while better than the Dolphins on offense, still suck.
3. If these teams combine to score more than 6 points, I'll be shocked. You can't cover by 6 if you don't score 6.
4. Isn't it sad that this is the first meeting between the two best Wisconsin receivers since Al Toon and some other guy who's way worse than Al Toon?

Bill says: TITANS (-6.5) over Texans

Starting next week: The whole "I'm telling you, I wouldn't count out this Titans team just yet" bandwagon. I can almost hear Cris Carter saying the words ... as Collinsworth and Costas look on with those "We can edit this thing down after the taping, right?" looks.

Paul says: The Titans defense is suspect, and Houston can score points. The Titans lost a lot on defense in the offseason, Tyrone Calico is probably gone for the year, and McNair is banged up (duh). Andre Johnson is unstoppable. As long as Davis doesn't do his Ahman Green impression (or Jonathan Wells plays) the Texans can compete with anyone. And 6.5 is a lot to be getting.

Bill says: EAGLES (-9) over Panthers

Read the whole thing. This is the story of Bill taking Steve Smith over TO in his fantasy league. Heh.

Paul says: OK, I confess, I got nothing here. This is the "duh" play of the week. Maybe the Eagles are looking past the Panthers, after all, it's not like they were in the Super Bowl last ye...or maybe the Panthers will have a big "Ewing Effect" from losing Davis and Foster and Smith and Jenkins...or maybe TO will pull an oblique muscle doing situps...

C'mon, cut me some slack. You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's earwax.

Bill says: COWBOYS (-3) over Steelers

The Roethlisberger Wakeup Call Game.

Paul says: The Testaverde Wakeup Call Game.

Besides, Ben is the real deal, and you're getting points. Oh, and the Cowboy RB is still Eddie George.

Bill says: Broncos (-3) over RAIDERS

Paul says: Jake Plummer. Once again, Jake Plummer.


Bill says: Bucs (+6) over RAMS

(This worked well last week, so let's try it again.)
Quick impersonation of the Rams fans on Monday night:

Paul says: A new QB for the Bucs, a solid defense, and Mike Martz is involved. Even if the Rams are winning by 28 with 5 minutes left, you know they'll let the Bucs back within striking distance. Plus when Bulger gets rattled he makes mistakes.

Of course, your guess is as good as mine (Note: This means you will be wrong).


The World Police, they live inside of my head...

This is the official opening weekend of Team America: World Police, the new movie by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. It is almost sure to garner a lot of attention due to its over-the-top nature and graphic depictions of puppet sex.

I almost forgot Rotten Tomatoes! Holding at an 82 so far.

Colin Covert of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune gets it.

Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle doesn't get it.

Only 2.5 stars from Wesley Morris, of the Boston Globe, but...

An A- from the Dallas Star-Telegram's Robert Philpot

Peter Travers raves in Rolling Stone.

Ebert didn't like it. He couldn't pick up on a political persuasion (Parker and Stone are libertarians) and seems a bit confused.

You can decide for yourself whether or not Roeper is being sarcastic.

The New York Times critic A. O. Scott enjoyed it.

David Edelstein, the Slate's movie critic has a few reservations, but liked it overall. (Eugene Volokh has issues with his reservations)

Duane Dudek for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel gives it three stars.

Robert Elder of the Chicago Tribune, is luke warm on it.

I'll update as the day goes on.

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