Pet Cobra

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Friday, October 29, 2004

It's Friday! Have we invaded Fallujah yet? Only a few more days left for Bush to use military action as a campaign tool! Smart money is on Monday. Fewer people watch the news on weekends, and Tuesday's news will be focused on the election. If it happens at all - Team Bush is getting a lot of flak for the missing explosives, and an attack on Fallujah would (justifiably) be seen as an attempt to divert attention from that.

More good news for the Cabal!
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=2026&e=3&u=/latimests/halliburtoncontractsbypassedobjections

Let's hope for a Kerry win for this reason: the investigation into Halliburton will reach it's logical conclusion ONLY IF BUSH AND CHENEY ARE OUT OF POWER. I've quoted Napoleon before on this and I'll do it again: "History is written by the victors."

So Curt Schilling will not, pardon the pun, be going to bat for Dubya. He cancelled an appearance with the "president" (I kind of like phrasing it like that - sly and effective) today, citing ankle problems. Curt's a winner. Winners associate with winners. A good move on his part, even though he still professed to voting for Bush during an interview this week.

In order to win elections, you have to surround yourself with good people. Just ask Bush. And Kaddafi.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6356977/site/newsweek/

The team is playing at a 10's tourney sponsored by the North County Gurkhas (no, not the little sweet pickle - that's a gherkin. A Gurkha is the name given to the Nepalese soldiers allied with Britain through their colonial and World wars.) Rugby Club tomorrow. Truth be told, I'm still feeling out-of-sorts from Tuesday's practice, so I'm sitting this one out. Next game is in two weeks, another scrimmage, this time against Point Loma Nazarene College. Besides, if I had gone to last night's practice, I would've missed out on getting Lucas' Halloween (he's going as a bat, and Beth and I will be vampires) and autumn portraits taken at Sears. He had a lot of fun, as did we.

Finally - I learned a new word today! Blumpkin! Google it.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

So here's my Red Sox story; I have, as Faithful Readers know, a blood connection to the Red Sox Nation. And while I'll never insult the true Sons of Sam Horn by calling myself a fan, I was rooting them on through their amazing run. There's a lot of Red Sox fans out there who will tell you the same thing: this World Series win is tinged with a bit of sadness.

When I was 6, my Grandpa Lou took me out to his backyard in Quincy, Massachusetts, and gave me my first lesson in the art of hitting. It was time for me to follow in the footsteps of his beloved Red Sox sluggers. He didn't have a real bat for me, so a hollow aluminum vacuum cleaner attachment tube served as a substitute. I stood behind him as he took up his best stance, and told me to "always keep my elbows up - that's how Yaz does it!". So I stood behind him and watched as he swung at an imagined pitch - and caught the tip of that metal pole right on the eye. My first (of what would be many) baseball injuries, a real shiner that stung for days. Grandpa Lou felt terrible, and promised that the next time I visited he'd take me to Fenway and get me a real Louisville Slugger - he knew some guys, he said, that could maybe even get Jimmy Rice to autograph it!

Of course that never happened, but I did go on to a successful T-ball career, and played some Little League for a few years. Truth be told, I was ball shy - everytime a fastball came down the pipe, I'd remember that pop I took from the metal tube, I'd FEEL that sting in my eye, and I'd swing and miss. Or, on more than a few occasions, I'd check my swing - and get hit in the hands by the pitch (not the best way to builld your On-Base Percentage). So I became a better fan than a player (although in college, I was reborn as a Softball God - unlike your typical softball player/beer-bellied oaf, I'm a Contact Hitter, and have a lifetime .800 average). I did visit Grandpa Lou a few more times over the years, as his memories of his beloved Sox were being erased by the Alzheimer's that eventually claimed his life. This was in the early 80's, before the disaster of the Mets, which I'm sure would've have finished the terrible job started by Alzheimer's.

I hadn't thought about him much until the amazing ALCS, and he was on my mind throughout this thoroughly satisfying World Series. He would've loved every minute of those games. And while Foulke snatched that liner and flicked it to first to win the game and the Series, I felt that sting, this time in both eyes.

Wanna be President? Maybe it'll happen!
http://www.techcentralstation.com/101404A.html

All kinds of nightmare scenarios are being played out. My personal favorite is this: Kerry wins the popular vote BUT the electoral college is tied SO the GOP-dominated House gets to vote in the winner...and it's Bush. Viva la Revolucion!

I know, it's a lot to get your head around. Here's some practical advice from Dear Prudence, on Slate (trust me, it's on the site; I'll insert the IDNMTU Disclaimer - I Did Not Make This Up). Laugh if you want ( I know I did, and since I've already displayed my sappy sensitive side earlier in this entry, you cannot despise me), or shake your head in digust at what I find funny, but I guarantee you that you've asked yourself this question at least once in your life:

"Dear Prudie,

Several times in my life, I've been in the embarrassing situation where I don't know how to make eye contact with someone who has a "lazy eye" (or amblyopia). Either I focus entirely on their good eye, or my eyes nervously dart back and forth between their eyes. Eyes are an incredibly powerful way of communicating, and when someone has a disability that prevents them from making full eye contact, I get panicky and don't know where to focus. Do you have any advice on what to do in this situation?

—The Man Behind Hazel Eyes

Dear Man,

Ah yes, Prudie, too, has struggled with this, and while "panicky" seems more than the situation calls for, it is socially awkward. Trying to be nonchalant while talking with someone who is walleyed gives literal meaning to the saying, "One does not know where to look." The best tactic would probably be to try and take in the whole face with your gaze, but if this is not possible, zero in on the good eye. It will be less disconcerting than focusing on the bad one.

—Prudie, unswervingly"

Did she actually say "walleyed"? I love the funny, decidedly non-PC terms the older folks use; my grandma, for instance, refers to disabled people as "cripples". (Example: "He's such a nice young man; it's a shame he's a cripple.")

Finally, this story:
http://www.cnn.com/2004/EDUCATION/10/27/students.vote.campaign.ap/index.html
Y'know, if we encourage kids to vote and get involved with their government, we might actually have a DEMOCRACY on our hands!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

It's been pouring down rain all day; looks like we're in for a wet winter. Too bad it didn't rain last night, as the storm might have brought a truly dismal rugby practice to an early end. Last night's torment lasted two and a half hours (about an hour longer than normal), and consisted of running, rucking drills, running, rucking drills, pushups, situps, rucking drills, and running. Guys were dropping like flies due to injury; one fellow rookie is out until at least next Tuesday with a calf injury, the forwards were collapsing left and right, and I took my share of abuse - banged my right knee (bruise), and thanks to some improper tackling technique on my part have had a stiff back all day. Not fun at all, and I'm questioning the motives of our coach - the regular season is still more than two months away, and a lot of guys (myself included) are going to be burned out by then.

Looks like the Arafat Death Watch is on. Can't say I'll miss him. Despite the revisionist effort to paint him as a leader in the struggle for human rights, he should be remembered for what he really is: a murderer and terrorist who came to the peace table only after it became clear to him that he was an asshair away from getting a Mossad bullet in his head. And his desire for power remained an impediment to any establishment of a democratic government for the Palestinians.

God help me, I like the Governator:
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=584&ncid=584&e=9&u=/nm/20041027/pl_nm/campaign_schwarzenegger_dc
I think he's the next big story in the Republican party. Would I vote for him if he ran for President? Hmmmmmmm.....

And so it begins.
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20041027/pl_nm/campaign_florida_dc&e=8&ncid=584
Like I said, this can only help Kerry in the other states. That this can happen again in Florida is unconscionable (boy, that sounds like a Bushism).

Finally, Wag The Dog II. The "coalition" is gearing up for a major assault on Fallujah - just in time for the election. How sickening that the President can use our troops as a campaign tool. So I'll let William F. Buckley take the reins, and present us with a history lesson:
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=128&ncid=742&e=8&u=/ucwb/20041027/cm_ucwb/algeriawarnedus

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

I just ate a bag of trail mix; I think there must have been a half pound of the stuff. Soon I will be leaping around my office like a rabid lemur, thanks to all the M&M's.

Thank God we are down to the last 7 days of this miserable campaign. It will end in despair, or a Happy Dance, but one way or the other we won't have to listen to Darth Cheney and His Monkeyboy ranting about how the country will revert to savagery and barbarism if Kerry is elected. But sadly we still have several days' worth of excruciating spin to endure. Here are the October Surprises to watch:


  • Rehnquist's cancer. Regardless of what happens to him, it's put the Roe v. Wade issue right back in the spotlight. Advantage: Kerry.
  • Those missing 377 tons of explosives. Today a group of Iraqi insurgents released a videotape threatening an increase in the size and scope of attacks against U.S. - sorry, Poland, my bad, I mean COALITION - targets. Either the insurgents are preparing to use some of that missing stuff, or they've been following the news and are capitalizing on the situation. Advantage: Kerry.
  • The execution-style massacre of 40+ Iraqi security force trainees this past Saturday. Didn't make the headlines at first, but the Iraqi "government" is accusing the U.S. of negligence, failing to provide adequate security. This is the harsh reality of the rosy picture that the Sith Lords (must...stop...Star Wars....references....) are painting of the transition work.
  • Consumer confidence is down for the third month in a row, and is at it's lowest point since March. More on this from CNN: http://money.cnn.com/2004/10/26/news/economy/confidence/index.htm
  • More problems with absentee ballots and "early voting". This will galvanize Dem voters, and move more undecideds towards Kerry, as there still is a sentiment (a correct one to boot) that Republican electioneering gave Bush the win in 2000.

Still, I have to go with David Brooks' assessment in the New York Times today; pundits can yap all they want, but this election is wide open.

On the home front: Beth negotiated from a position of strength with her company, and will now be working three days a week, with a raise to boot. Our nanny was happy to go part-time, and so it's a win-win situation. Still, I'm actively looking for a good job out-of-state, in an acceptable location (i.e., any state that has a) an oceanic coast or b) a mountain range with accompaning ski resorts and/or c) a local rugby scene. So out-of-state readers, let me know if you need a good recruiter. I promise no blogging on company time.

Not sure what's going on with practice tonight, as we are expecting a massive rainstorm. No word that it's been cancelled. The North Country Gurkhas, another local club, is holding their annual 10's Tourney (10 guys a side, rather than the full 15) this Saturday; not sure if I'll play as I'd rather save it for the regular version, and there's talk of another social game against a visiting club from Arizona. I'm being a bit of a, well, puss - my shoulders were achier than expected, and I want to get some shoulder pads prior to my next match (yes, you can wear them - most guys at this level do - they're dense foam, not plastic like American football pads). In any case, I've written enough notes for a few chapters in my rugby book, and I'm looking forward to starting that soon.

Another plus - get to leave a half hour early today.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Lots to get to today. First, though, I think we can all use a story that will help relax, be at peace...a story that will take us all to our Happy Places, wherever they may be.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6323933/

Here's your Fun Math Question for today, kids! If just one pound of the explosive stuff that was stolen out of that Baghdad ammo dump can blow up an airliner, how many airliners can 377 tons blow up? If you guessed 754,000, you're correct! Give yourself a Happy Face!

Here's my favorite part: "White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the administration’s first concern was whether the material was a nuclear proliferation threat and had determined that it was not. “Remember, at the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom there was some looting, and some of it was organized,” McClellan said. “There were munitions caches spread throughout the country, and so these are all issues that are being looked into by the multinational forces and the Iraqi Survey Group.” "

Honestly, I don't know whether to laugh, cry, or shit myself. Because the neocon fuckwits who took us into this little escapade are now directly responsible for giving the insurgents and God knows who else all of the explosives they'll conceivably ever need to blow up whatever they want. How many people are now going to die because of this? More to the point, how many have died already? This is one of the biggest stories of the war, and hopefully it'll spark some outrage amongst the lemmings out there who are still "undecided" in regards to the moron(s) who's currently running country.

Meanwhile, Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist underwent surgery for thyroid cancer. Start bending those coat hangers! Sadly, the old coot will have the bad taste to drop dead after the election, when it might be too late. Again, here's a hanging curveball over the middle of the plate for Kerry; hopefully he'll knock this one out of the park. (Of course, the man's not dead yet, and it would also be in bad taste to start planning the wake. But still.)

Enough of that crap. Let's get to the biggest story of the weekend - my first real rugby game.

The club played San Diego State on Saturday. It was a "social game"; plans were for two games, actually, our A side (veterans) against their varsity, and B side (Old Boys, rookies, and anyone with enough energy left from the A side) against their JV. The Gentlemen of OARFC arrived a couple of hours before kickoff, to socialize and warm up. The team got new jerseys - nice, all red with white collars, the good Canterbury pro shirts, lightweight with the moisture-wicking properties to keep you dry and comfortable. Only problem - they were all XXL, great for the forwards, not so good for the "little guy" backs.

We had a lot of guys turn out - enough for 2 full sides. Per Rich's (our coach) request, me and the 2 other rooks sat out the first game, watching from the sidelines. During the pregame huddle, Rich told everyone to go out and have fun; SDSU had 6 games under their belt already, they were much younger and fitter than us, so we were to just work on fundamentals and have a good time.

Our A side walloped them, final score was 60-9.

I got the nod to play in the first half of game 2, at the inside center slot. (This is one of the backline positions, generally given to decent runners with a bit of power. Guess that was me.) I won't go into details (gotta save those for the book I'm writing about this experience - there's my first plug!), but the highlights were:

1. Making an excellent, textbook tackle on one of their wingers.
2. Taking a pass and "crashing the line"; in other words, I got the ball, and advanced it by running into one of their forwards, a guy who outweighed me by (no lie) 100 pounds. I knocked him on his ass before being tackled.
3. Taking my first open field tackle like a man. I took a pass and was brought down hard by one of their guys. I fell the right way (tucked my chin down, rolled my shoulders in, held on to the ball), didn't turn the ball over, and got right back up to play on.

I ended up playing the whole half; an accomplishment in itself. A great time, and I can't wait for the next game. Although shoulder pads are looking like a must-have. Cheers!

Friday, October 22, 2004

Let's get this party started right:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=519&e=1&u=/ap/columnist_speech_pies

Ann Coulter - pig. Refers to anyone who votes Democrat as a "traitor", once called the French "a bunch of faggots", was one of the loudest supporters of the Swift Boat Vets (though, oddly enough, she hasn't mentioned them lately.). Now, I've got no beef with conservative columnists per se; I read Safire, Buckley, and Will on a fairly regular basis, and while I don't agree with them most of the time, I respect what they have to say and would certainly enjoy a conversation with them. I'd certainly enjoy meeting Ann Coulter, especially if that meeting afforded me the opportunity to throw her through a plate glass window.

http://www.cnn.com/2004/SHOWBIZ/Music/10/22/uk.bandaid/index.html

Two observations: one, rumors that Damon Albarn (lead singer of British Oasis tribute band Blur) has buried the hatchet with Noel Gallagher (lead singer of British Beatles tribute band Oasis) are premature since according to Midge Ure (British guy who was apparently famous in the 80's) "Noel said he's going to do it and I heard Damon is going to do it as well, but as one of the Gorillaz. So whether he's going to actually be in the studio or whether it's going to be a cartoon character, I don't know. But they're both going to do it." Oops, sorry, just threw up in my mouth. Second observation: The Darkness kick way too much ass to be involved with this crap. Here's what they should do instead: grab Bob Geldof, make him shave off his eyebrows and the rest of his hair, and do a sequel to "The Wall" (and while we're on the subject of The Darkness, and how much ass they kick, apparently there's going to be a new "Flash Gordon" movie. Remember the 80's version, with the kick-ass soundtrack by Queen? I say the new version must have a kick ass soundtrack by The Darkness. Hell, they can just cover the Queen songs and music. "FLASH! AH-AHHHH! KING OF THE UNIVERSE!!!"). Does anyone remember the Kool Heavy Metal Version of Band Aid - Hearin' Aid? Led by Ronnie James Dio (or, as his true fans know him - Dio. Just Dio.)? Let's comb the State Fair circuit and round up all those guys for a 20 year reunion! Quiet Riot, Night Ranger, W.A.S.P., Stryper (Christian metal rules! They kicked so much more ass than Creed!) - all back together to record "Stars 2004".
My biggest fear, of course, is that this will prompt Michael Jackson to reunite the We Are The World crew. I for one would rather have my eyes burned out with a welder's torch than hear a Huey Lewis - Cyndi Lauper duet.

Had a light rugby practice last night, although we did some rucking drills without the tackling pads, which in all honesty was a bit scary at first - running into a guy who outweighs you by 100 pounds is a bit intimidating. But that's what the game's all about, and the lesson learned was that doing it at full pace will actually keep you and the other guy from getting hurt. So after a tentative start I got into it, and at one point managed to rock the aformentioned guy back on his heels.

Tomorrow it's the real deal - we're playing SDSU's side in a "social" game. Looks like I'm going to be playing either outside or inside centre (the Brit spelling is much cooler than ours), probably in the B side game. The centre is a utility back; not as quick as the wings, the centre's job is to draw the defense and get the ball to the wings to make a run at goal. "Crashing" is one way to this - running right at the defenders to draw a tackle, and consequently commit defensive players to you, freeing up the wings. Should be fun. I'm nervous. Full report on Monday.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Big Victory is everywhere, even on Slate, where yours truly received another Editor's Pick nod. Read the Charles Pierce column here http://slate.msn.com/id/2108503/ and my response here: http://fray.slate.msn.com/?id=3936&m=12640814. My personal favorite observation on The End Of The Curse - and perhaps (ah, delicious irony!) the beginning of a new curse on the Yanks: http://fray.slate.msn.com/?id=3936&m=12634904.

Other than that, there's really not a whole lot to talk about today. Well, there's this:
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=573&ncid=757&e=4&u=/nm/20041021/od_nm/odd_dutch_pony_dc

Dammit. Still have 3 hours to waste today.


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

An unusual early rain here in San Diego; we've had showers over the past two days. Looks like the predictions for an El Nino winter are coming true; might be the year I kick down for a Gore-Tex jacket.

Last night was a great baseball night. I'm glad I'm not a true Red Sox fan; I'd have had a stroke. You either love the Yankees or you hate them, and last night may have been the start of their downfall. Key element: the second blown save in a row for the uber-closer Riviera. Meanwhile, a bottom of the 9th home run by Jeff Kent wins the game for Houston (I'd like them to beat the Cards, simply because the Red Sox will have a much easier time of it should they win the ALCS).

Meanwhile, another key endorsement for Bush:
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20041019/ap_on_el_pr/iran_us_elections&cid=694&ncid=2043

A follow-up to yesterday's comments on the flu shot crisis: Bush today is accusing Kerry of fearmongering and exaggerating the vaccine shortage. Insert your own "pot-calling-the-kettle-black" metaphor here.

The Sinclair broadcasting company's plan to air the anti-Kerry propaganda film "Stolen Honor" (sounds like a cheesy action movie, doesn't it? Like one of those DMX/Steven Seagal/Jet Li flicks) is backfiring. MSN reports that the company's stock prices have dropped 25 percent since the announcement was made, and that over 75 advertisers have pulled their commercials from Sinclair-run stations.

Real-time drama! One of the nice things about working for the Military-Industrial Complex is that you're surrounded by pro-Bush people. For example: my office faces the lobby, and I've just been treated to a conversation between some Bush fans/employees who loudly proclaimed Kerry voters to be "douchebags". What a conundrum I face! I feel very compelled to "out" my company as a place that creates a hostile work environment (lofty HR term) for Democrats, yet as a recruiter my job is to get people to come work here. And I'm of the firm belief that discussing politics and religion is not something you do in the workplace (unless you're blogging on company time). Ah, well - none of you out there have ever heard of General Atomics anyway. Oops! Was that my out-loud voice?

The rain continues. Should make for a very interesting rugby practice tonight.

Monday, October 18, 2004

So it begins.
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=578&u=/nm/20041018/ts_nm/campaign_voting_dc_3

Call me a cynic, but I think we know how this movie is going to end. Bush's brother appoints a Republican to run the state's election. One hopes that the Floridians lining up at the polls this morning have a healthy sense of outrage at how "democracy" works in their state. (In a perfect world, Jeb and Glenda Hood are subject to a very public electioneering investigation by the Justice Department, found guilty, and throw in prison. Napoleon, however, tells us that history is written by the victors - which is why that didn't happen back in 2000.)

In a twisted way, though, early election fraud - oops, I mean "hiccups", as the supervisor of elections in that article puts it - may be a boon to Kerry. Any hints of a repeat of the Florida 200 fiasco will resound through the states that do not have the bizarre "early vote". There may be just enough outraged people that will see this as the scam that it is to put the election firmly into Kerry's hands. Cue the Alanis Morrisette song.

Here are some interesting poll numbers:

Gallup/CNN/USAToday (10/16-18) Bush 49 Challenger 39
ABC News (10/12-15, 17) Bush 48 Challenger 43
CNN/Time (10/12-13) Bush 48 Challenger 43
NBC News/Wall Street Journal (10/13-10/15) Bush 48 Challenger 42
Newsweek (10/12-13) Bush 45 Challenger 43
ICR (10/11-15) Bush 42 Challenger 39
Tarrance Group/Lake Snell Perry (10/15-18) Bush 44 Challenger 40
CSM/IBD/TIPP (10/13-15) Bush 44 Challenger 42 Reuters/MSNBC/Zogby (10/16-18) Bush 44 Challenger 43

What's interesting about them - they're from October 2000; Gore was the challenger (numbers from MSN.com). So today, while you're reading the stories about how Bush leads in 3 polls and is tied in 1, think about these numbers, and consider Slate's Election Tracker, which today shows that Kerry, not Bush, wins the election. http://slate.msn.com/id/2108322/

For a list of nightmare election scenarios, read on:
http://slate.msn.com/id/2108339/

We had to rush to get Lucas a flu vaccine after arguing with the doctor's office, who told us there was only enough for urgent cases. But never fear. From the same folks who brought us "There are WMD's in Iraq" and "The economy is improving" comes....
http://www.cnn.com/2004/HEALTH/10/18/flu/index.html
I can't help it - I keep thinking of "The Stand" by Stephen King....

Finally:
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=502&ncid=757&e=10&u=/ap/20041018/ap_on_en_mo/godzilla_conference
Blue Oyster Cult will be the keynote speakers. Go Go Godzilla!




Friday, October 15, 2004

Another Friday that never seems to end.

This is a great piece, by a longtime conservative writer for the New York Post. It should be mandatory reading for those misguided Republicans who think Dubya is the Second Coming of Reagan:
http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?pt=oQsCgRLoPiBNyggi2gnqhx%3D%3D

Desperate times: no coincidence that yesterday Bush popped by the press seats on Air Force One to jaw with reporters. Apparently you can count on one toe the number of times he's done that. And the GOP's pathetic attempt to make a controversy out of Kerry's comments regarding Mary Cheney is another sign of the times. (No traction here: CNN polls show that most Americans do not believe that homosexuality is a choice, and Kerry is doing the smart thing by refusing to engage on the tirades thrown out by the Bush-Cheney team) They can feel the election slipping away from them. One issue that's just popped up to hit 'em: price gouging, at the gas pumps and at hospitals and clinics trying to obtain flu vaccine (anyone wonder why only ONE AMERICAN PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY is able to make the stuff? Care to answer that, Mr. President?). Another on the horizon: increased fighting in Fallujah and car bombings in the so-called Green Zone in Baghdad (the "safe" zone).

That's all for today. Four - count 'em, four - rugby matches on TV this weekend, as New Zealand's provincial tourney (the NPC) and South Africa's Currie Cup national championship both enter the semifinals. Fun and instructive viewing awaits. Cheers!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

I'll say what the press will not. Kerry swept the debates.

Why the press has been so loathe to critique Bush on his dreary performances seems obvious; this is a president who has held the fewest number of press conferences in U.S. history, and whose handlers seem to be following Nixon's lead in targeting journalists who dare question the president's methods or motives. Read Frank Rich's piece on this:
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/17/arts/17rich.html?oref=login&8hpib
(Folks, it ain't just amateur hacks like me saying this. When WILLIAM FRIGGIN' SAFIRE sounds the warning bell, it's the real deal.)

Anyway, regarding last night's debate. Bush turned down the volume, but he didn't change the station. Once again, we were treated to awkward "jokes" (his crack about hoping his administration wasn't responsible for health care costs went over about as well as a loud fart in church), outright lies ( "Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations." Actually, sir, you did say that. In fact, it's right here. On your own website. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/03/20020313-8.html), and non-answers (his response to being asked directly if he would like to overturn Roe v. Wade was to mutter something about "litmus tests for judges").

Again, Bush made both the tactical and strategic error of strengthening his base. We know this of Bush supporters: they are unflaggingly loyal to their man, primarily because his appeal to them is an emotional one. He doesn't need to worry about the NASCAR Dads jumping ship. Kerry was right on target: his words were directed at female and minority voters, and in each debate he specifically geared his stats and comments towards the group that will decide the election: undecided voters in swing states. Doing this has already gained him Wisconsin, Michigan, and quite possibly Iowa and Arizona.

(One observation: as you know, I read and post on Slate on a near-daily basis. After every debate, Slate writers like William Saletan and Chis Suellentrop post their opinions on that night's winner. Both of them have given the debates to Kerry. It's telling that pro-Bush posters have offered up surprisingly little defense of their man's debate performances in the Fray sections. They are worried, and rightly so.)

I'm tempted to Speak No More of the election. As I declared that this was the Red Sox' year, thus prompting God to destroy Curt Schilling's ankle, and along with it the hopes of the Red Sox Nation (a little backstory: my late grandfather taught me to swing a bat in the backyard of their house in Quincy, Mass. Freddie Lynn, Jim Rice, Carlton Fisk, and Carl Yastremski were the first baseball players I knew by name. I remained a full-blooded fan until a move to the burbs of St. Louis prompted a shift in loyalties to the Cards. Now I bleed Padres...blue and tan? Fickle, yes, but it's saved me a lot of heartache. I still have a place in my heart for the Sox, but it's the same feelings you have towards a former girlfriend you liked, but are glad you dumped because she most likely would've ended up boning your roommate.)

One last word on the debate. Lots of handwringing from the Bush-Cheney camp about Kerry's comments on Mary Cheney. The Republicans, always the staunch defenders of gay rights, were quick to condemn Kerry using the Cheneys as an example of the challenges faced by gay men and women and their families. The Cheneys, of course, would never use their own daughter's orientation for political purposes. Which explains why Mary and her partner, who were sitting with the family at the Republican convention, were not allowed to go onstage during Cheney's post-acceptance speech family photo op.

I'm missing the rugby tonight; Beth's got a late afternoon hair appointment, which means I get to hang out with Lucas. Probably a good thing. My right hamstring is hurting, as is my left quad. Next week we're getting into assigned positions; I'm pretty sure they'll put me into a back slot. That would work for my size/weight/speed.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Dudes - there is WAY too much good stuff on TV tonight. The debate. Red Sox-Yankees, Game 2. "Smallville". "Lost". The DVR will be put to the test.

First, the ALCS. Despite the game 1 loss, I'm sticking with the Red Sox.

Next, the debate. Here's the bottom line: Bush was out giving campaign speeches today. Kerry was prepping for the debate. One of these candidates knows that this evening may well determine the outcome of the election. One of them still clings to the belief that he can coast to victory on a wave of moronic attempts at catch phrases ("You can run, but you can't hide.") Bush would do well to check Slate's ongoing Election Scorecard, updated daily.
http://slate.msn.com/id/2108019/

It's the best analysis going right now, simply because it calculates the sum total of all polls taken. And despite what Karl Rove would have you believe, Kerry has been gaining ground since Debate #1.

Forget the ALCS. This is the big leagues. And surprise, surprise - I pick Kerry to hand Bush's ass to him. Again.

Beth worked late, so I missed the first half hour of rugby practice last night. Did a bit of rucking practice. A ruck is one of the more complicated parts of the game. In rugby, when you have the ball and are tackled, you need to immediately release the ball when you are brought to ground. While you're lying on the ground, your teammates "bind" (grab on to each other) and form a human wall to block the opposing team from getting the ball. The tricky part: the other team does the same thing to keep your team from picking up the ball. So there you are, on the ground, while two groups of large guys (forwards do most of the rucking) are standing over you attempting to shove each other out of the way. It's a bit scary being surrounded by stomping feet (shod with rugby boots and their 3 centimeter aluminum cleats - rounded off for safety, of course). Oh - and if any part of your body is touching the ball while you're on on the ground in the middle of the ruck, the opposing team can clear that part off with the aforementioned cleats. Fun! I sat out the live tackle drill - I think I need a bit more time learning how to tackle rugby style before attempting it. (Although Rich, our player-coach from New Zealand, gave me this advice last night when I asked him about the best way to learn to tackle: "Just git out theeyah an' facking do it!" Read aloud for optimal effect.) Still, my ball skills are improving (probably should learn to kick at some point), I'm getting better at the running and passing drills, and I'm not limping today. All positives.

Back tomorrow with the post-debate review.




Tuesday, October 12, 2004

It's only Tuesday. The week is dragging.

Not a whole lot happening in the way of news today; the lull before the storm of tomorrow's debate. Bush is currently "hammering" (one of those overused media words) Kerry's statements in the New York Times magazine about reducing terrorism so that, comparably speaking, it's a nuisance. Funny - this was the same Bush who told Matt Lauer in a televised interview that he did not think the war on terror could be won. (A clip that Team Kerry is running in their latest counterattack ads).

The race is still too close to call. Joe Trippi, on MSNBC's Hardblogger section, brings up an interesting point regarding the polls. The data may be skewed, and the reality may be that Kerry holds a lead. Why? Cell phones. Pollsters do not have access to cell phone numbers, and there is an unusually high number of people whose sole phone is their cell. Chief among these - college students and the Gen X crowd - who overwhelmingly vote Democratic.

Ugh. I need a Starbucks. Rugby tonight and I'm still sore from last week.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Whoo hoo! Sadr's insurgents are turning in their weapons! The war is over! And Rumsfeld said today that troops will start coming home in January! We won! Mission accomplished!

That's one way of looking at it. Now, remove your rose-colored glasses for a second. Sadr's followers are a fraction of the overall number of insurgents in Iraq. How long will it take before they wise up to the fact that they're getting an IOU (they receive a coupon for cash from a government that doesn't yet exist), with no capital to back up it? And are you really that naive to think that these fanatics will simply turn in a gun, get a few bucks, and NOT turn around and resume shooting up American and Iraqi security forces the next day, with a padded wallet courtesy of the U.S. government?As for Rummy's claim, this was the same guy who told us last week that there was no Iraq-al Qaeda connection, then recanted his statement the very next day. I hear he's got some oceanfront property in Arizona for sale, if you're interested.

This is a feeble, populist attempt by Bush and company to plug the leaks in their sinking ship. Especially after Debate #2.

The most insightful analysis of this latest contest came courtesy of "Saturday Night Live", lampooning Bush's new whining/yelling style ("It's hard work!!!"). If Kerry didn't drop the hammer on Bush, it may have been because he didn't need to. Bush's rambling, incoherent "rebuttals" were the same non-answers that he's fed to the press and the public for months. We heard nothing new - no plan for establishing control in Iraq, no ideas on how to move the country's economy forward. Instead, what was intended to be a debate became a playground argument - "Oh, yeah? Well, he's the most liberal senator in history! And he talks funny! Uses big words like Orwellian!" The crowd's reaction - noticably, the lack of one - to the bulk of Bush's lame attempts at humor were a telling indicator that those folks were more than a bit tired of listening to the oil salesman toss around stale jokes. Clearly they were there, as was Kerry, for an honest look at where each man stands. As Bush began to flail ("Anyone need some lumber?"), Kerry did what a smart fighter does - let his opponent swing away at air, until he's exhausted himself, and shown the crowd what he's really made of. And unlike Foreman, there won't much of a future for Bush after this fight's over.

Oh yeah - about the lumber company that Bush claims he's never heard of. He should probably fire his accountant. Evidence that he does, in fact, qualify as a small business owner is right here, on those pesky "Internets":
http://www.factcheck.org/article.aspx@docID=275.html

It's a bit of a gamble, but Kerry is tackling these debates in the same way that Phil Jackson got his rings with the Lakers. Give your opponent the chance to give everything they have, study his weakness, then exploit that when it counts. I suspect that the pundits were eager to either call this a tie or cede somepoints to Bush for this debate to ensure that folks would tune in to the final one. And I suspect that in the back of his mind, Kerry gave Bush some time to show voters how uninformed on key issues he really is (off-road diesel vehicles were a major polluter? Really?) and to arm himself with stupid Bush comments that he can throw back in his face the next time. You can bet we'll hear about the lumber company on Weds.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Debate Nite Tonite! Time for Dubya to get his ass handed to him again.

Despite what many in the media are saying, Bush is once again painted into a corner. Here are the reasons why:

1. This week's news. The Duelfer report on Iraq and the poor jobs report issued today (unemployment the same and fewer new jobs than expected) are a one-two punch.

2. The format. Here's where the pundits get it wrong. A town hall format is where Bush excels, they say.

Not exactly.

First, let's look at Bush's "town hall" appearances on the campaign trail. All were pro-Republican rallies, the audience members who asked the questions were shills, and Bush had the questions in advance. Second, Bush was clearly uncomfortable dealing with the cold hard facts that Kerry threw at him during the last debate, relying on catchphrases and rhetoric to "answer" the tough questions. Third, he is under a tremendous amount of pressure to perform - which will only compound his problem of retreating to his "folksy" style. Finally, Kerry is clearly in a groove - he's on the brink of winning Ohio, and Missouri, Wisconsin, and Colorado may go his way with a successful performance.

Should be fun to watch.

Here's a rundown of personal injuries resulting from last night's rugby practice. Scrape on bridge of nose, scrape and bruise on chin, throbbing pain in right buttock (hamstring? I don't recall getting kicked in the ass). Brief scare when I almost knocked heads with a guy during a tackling drill; just a glancing blow, no harm done to either party, friendly handshakes and back to the matter at hand.

The good: I can outrun most people at practice, both in terms of speed (who knew?) and endurance. Noticable improvement in passing (does the team need a new scrumhalf?) The bad: tackling drils wipe me out; my knee no longer hurts, but it's not that strong yet, and above all else rugby tackling involves driving with your legs. Highlights: the post-practice gathering at the Catalina Lounge, a dive bar in Point Loma. After running hard and slamming into tackle bags for close to 3 hours, I can now truly appreciate the role beer plays in rugby. And the best part of the experience so far: the guys on the team are truly friendly, supportive (lots of tips and coaching), and clearly love the game and cameraderie that makes it so unique.

Sucks to be me - have to work for a few hours tomorrow.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

In an email to my friend Rob in Minnesota I sent earlier today, I commented that as long as there are stupid people, Republicans will get votes. Or something to that effect. But the truth is, of course, much more complicated than that. (Too bad it's not. I still support writer Ted Rall's "voter IQ" test, linked in an earlier post.) I believe it was Sun Tzu, or perhaps Grand Moff Tarkin, who said "know thy enemy". I found the following article to be both enlightening and funny:

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/_/id/6539082?pageid=rs.Home&pageregion=single7

I'm rolling out a new award. POS Of The Week. Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for the Right Honorable Tom DeLay:
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/07/politics/07CND-DELAY.html?hp&ex=1097208000&en=48a631ce0c7caaab&ei=5094&partner=homepage

Finally, some words of wisdom for the children, from Bill O'Reilly. His advice book for kids and teens hits the shelves next week. No, I'm not making this up. Although this excerpt reminds me less of what my dad taught me, and more of what Robert DeNiro tells Ray Liotta in "GoodFellas".
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6192399/

More rugby training tonight. Still a bit sore from Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Didn't watch lasy night's debate. Didn't have to.

People are much more polarized on Cheney than Bush; Montgomery Burns' and Two-Face's love child is, as I said yesterday, almost universally loathed. Of the clips I saw, he predictably lived down to expectations - his Quasimodo leer, hunched over in his seat; his deliberate lies (more on those in a second); and his arrogant, megalomaniacal assertions that only he (and his sidekick, the President) is fit to run the country.

Last night's lies equal one great Kerry-Edwards TV ad. One - Cheney's claim that he's never even met Edwards prior to the debate. They appeared on "Meet The Press" together a couple of years ago. Two - Cheney's claim that he has never said there was an al Qaeda/Iraq connection. He and Bush have made this claim on numerous occasions. Finally, his dodgy response to Halliburton (See yesterday's post. I admit - I was a bit nervous telling Cheney to go fuck himself. Would the Secret Service pay me a visit? Then I realized, technically, telling him to go fuck himself does not actually constitute threatening him. It's more like giving a pointed piece of advice. Self-fornication may actually do him some good! My God, I wonder how long it's been since that man got laid. A nice rogering might even cure that creepy drooping lip of his.)

From the Painfully Obvious Desk:
http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/meast/10/06/iraq.wmd.report.ap/index.html

Here's the funny part: Bush appointed Charles Duelfer. I wonder if he'll get a Christmas basket from George and Laura this year.

I'm a bit tired today. Last night was the first offical OARFC training session. Some interesting observations: I was the only rookie there (a 35 year old rookie playing one of the most demanding sports on the planet. Have I lost my mind?). I was NOT the oldest guy there; in fact, about half of the guys were considerably older than me. Not that age matters - most of the guys there were also considerably larger than me, by at least 75 pounds and several inches. I'm in much better shape than I thought; my knee was fine (wore my brace - as did a number of the other guys), and although I was tired, I ran well - and am quick enough to play center, possibly even wing. (For those unfamiliar, these are the rugby equivilant of running backs.) I declined to go with the guys for beers after the practice - this is an integral part of the game, so I'll plan on a quick pint next time. Here's the pleasant surprise: for a group of tough guys who've been playing the game with each other for years, everyone was very friendly and supportive, constantly offering me tips (my passing sucks) and encouragement. I look forward to Thursday's practice. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Getting in another quick one today; leaving early so that our nanny can make it to a dentist appointment. And no response from our comatose home PC, so once again I take up valuable company time to issue my own personal fatwahs.

We did not have enough troops going in to Iraq, which has led to the problems we face today. Don't believe me? Ask Our Man In Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20041005/ap_on_re_us/bremer_iraq

More ammo for the Kerry team. This is a pretty amazing story - the rats jumping off the sinking ship, as it were. Rumsfeld, Abizaid, and now Bremer clearly sending a message that someone other than them is making these bad decisions. Whether they're merely giving themselves some breathing room in the event of a Kerry victory (and the possibility of a serious inquiry into the Bush adminstrations actions leading up to the war), or have suddenly been blessed with hindsight is anyone's guess. There may be some perverse logic going on behind the scenes; Bush giving the ok for these guys to make these types of statements, so that he can point to them and say "Look, we're willing to admit our mistakes" - but given that today Rumsfeld stated that his comment about Iraq and al Qaeda ("To my knowledge, I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two." ) was "misunderstood" leads me to believe that these guys are trying to salvage their reputations. Interesting stuff, and you can be sure that Edwards will throw it at Darth Cheney tonight.

Speaking of which - some analysts are giving an edge to Dick (at what point, by the way, does one opt out of that particular nickname, for obvious reasons) because he and Edwards will be seated, not standing behind podiums, where it's assumed that Edwards would be more comfortable, able to utilize his dynamic speaking style to full advantage.

This is the dumbest thing I've heard in a while, and I'm sure it's just the media's attempt to appear neutral - "fair and balanced".

Here's the truth: Cheney has consistently been one of the least popular VP's in history - among both Dem and GOP'ers. Recall that some of the GOP faithful were urging Bush to drop him! As with Kerry, Edwards doesn't need a "win" in the debate; he just needs to hold his own and let Cheney be Cheney. The bottom line is that Cheney's universally low marks in polls will more than compensate for Edwards'lack of a traditional stage on which to perform. At the very least, we'll be treated to this generation's Nixon-Kennedy debate; a glowering Cheney, hunched over in his seat, mumbling out of the side of his mouth is what viewers will remember. Edwards hammering him on Halliburton will be the icing on the cake.

And lest we forget: On the Sept. 14, 2003 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, Vice President Dick Cheney said, "And since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest. I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had, now, for over three years." Right. But's let be civil to Dick. Rather than tell him to go fuck himself, something he's fond of telling others, all I have to say is:

DEFERRED SALARY: Cheney received $205,298 in deferred salary from Halliburton in 2001, $162,392 from the company in 2002 and $178,437 in 2003. Here's where my HR background comes in handy: Deferred salary is not a retirement benefit or a payment from a third party escrow account, but rather an ongoing corporate obligation paid from company funds.

Cheney's deferred compensation and stock option benefits are in addition to a $20 million retirement package paid to him by Halliburton after only five years of employment; a $1.4 million cash bonus paid to him by Halliburton in 2001; and additional millions of dollars in compensation paid to him while he was employed by the company.

On second thought - Cheney, go fuck yourself.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Gonna get a quick one in before quittin' time. Our home computer has gone ass-up (note to readers: HP = POS), so if I'm to do my daily entries it has to be here at work. Yes, there's risk involved, but if you live on the edge like me, danger is your business.

There is no al Qaeda-Iraq connection (at least, there wasn't before we unleashed anarchy - er, "liberated" that country). Nothing to prove that. That's my firm belief. Don't agree with me? Talk to my man Rummy:

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=584&e=2&u=/nm/20041004/pl_nm/iraq_usa_rumsfeld_dc

Does he have money on Kerry in this election? Where's this coming from? And isn't that, well, flip-flopping?


"SNL" viewers were treated to a very funny sendup of the debate. Best line belonged to a brilliant Seth Meyer-as-John Kerry: "Let me say that I have never flip-flopped! I have always told the antiwar people that I was against the war, and I've always told the pro-war people that I was for it! That's not flip-flopping - that's pandering!"

Finally, this article that really sums up the entirety of human existence.
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=573&ncid=757&e=2&u=/nm/20041004/od_nm/penis_dc

Friday, October 01, 2004

Had to break from the normal routine and get my two cents in early today.

So of course the topic today is who won last night's debate. And by all accounts - polls and pundits - Kerry came out with a decided advantage. Did he win? To me, a win would mean that he managed to cut into the segment of voters who had made up their mind to vote for Bush. I don't see that happening; true to form, Bush stayed on message, and his optimistic/deluded/simple-minded view of the Iraq conflict and war on terror played right into what his supporters want to hear.

But Kerry knows that he'll win the election by swaying the undecided, and he did an effective job at laying out his goals for Iraq (a plan which will work - the Euros can't stand Bush, and will jump at the chance to make him and the GOP look like asses), at taking Bush to task on his failure to gain closure in Afghanistan (good stuff from him on bin Laden, the "outsourcing" of the Afghan campaign to the Afghan warlords, and a nice job bringing up the massive, unchecked heroin trade), and his failures with North Korea and Iran on the nuclear (or nucular, as Dubya would say) front. And for the most part he stayed out of the pissing contest Bush was trying to draw him into - throughout the evening, Bush kept repeating the "mixed messages" and "wrong war, wrong time" (this can easily be defused if Kerry's people refer to the John Abizaid interview I mentioned a few posts back; that he supports the debate over the war) lines. Kerry countered with facts and his ideas, and on more than one occasion dropped what should be a very effective tagline in the next two debates - "do you want four more years of this?"

Another thing: Bush's appearance and demeanor may have done him in. Kerry's stiffness served him well here; he remained (as a good debater should) ramrod straight, listened attentively to Bush (nice touch - jotting down the occasional note after a Bush comment - a bit of a "gotcha!"), and most important spoke in a measured and precise manner. Bush gave us lots of long pauses (dead air), lots of crutch words ("um", "ah", etc.), and lots and lots of repetition. This has often been interpreted as a "down-to-earth" style, but here Bush looked as if he was befuddled and on the defensive.

Bottom line: this was a debate that Bush had to win (foreign policy is the centerpiece of his campaign), and Kerry merely had to do well in. Both the Bush and Kerry campaigns know that domestic policy is Bush's Achilles' heel. If Kerry was on offense last night, you can be sure that he'll unleash a rolling maul (rugby is an ideal metaphor for politics) on Bush in the next round.

I predict a big bounce for Kerry. This may be the turning point in the election.

On to the domestic front. Beth and Lucas are out of town tonight and tomorrow, attending a friend's bridal shower in L.A. College buddy Tim, in town for Naval Reserve duty, will be hanging out for a beer, pizza and Xbox night. It's October already - Halloween is right around the corner (the Little Man's first Halloween costume will be a bat; Beth and I are going to be vampires), and then Thanksgiving and Christmas. Oh, and lest we forget, rugby training starts Tuesday. Good times.