Friday, August 28, 2009

Another Place Where Silence Is The Best Policy

Look, in politics, it is sometimes better to let your opponent tie their noose before warning them of the hazard. Currently, the right is giving their warnings all too early:

Key conservative voices have begun to charge in the day after Sen. Ted Kennedy’s death that Democrats are inappropriately politicizing the senator’s death, his memorial and his legacy.

To my friends on the right: The left seems somewhat compelled to do stupid things like this. It is best to just let them do it. Bringing up the "Wellstone Effect" may help you feel smart, but it only serves to prevent them from indulging their lesser instincts. Next time, keep it to yourself until they shoot themselves in the foot.

And Bush and the Republicans Were the Tyrants?

The first step to tyranny today is to have the power to shut down dissent on the net:

Internet companies and civil liberties groups were alarmed this spring when a U.S. Senate bill proposed handing the White House the power to disconnect private-sector computers from the Internet.

They're not much happier about a revised version that aides to Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, have spent months drafting behind closed doors. CNET News has obtained a copy of the 55-page draft of S.773 (excerpt), which still appears to permit the president to seize temporary control of private-sector networks during a so-called cybersecurity emergency.

The new version would allow the president to "declare a cybersecurity emergency" relating to "non-governmental" computer networks and do what's necessary to respond to the threat.
What is most befuddling about this bill is that there is absolutely no clear and present danger that would justify the executive branch having these powers.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

So She Wore Shorts...

...No big deal, right? I can see a lot of Americans actually identifying with wanting to throw on some comfy clothes. So what is the big deal? Well, when it is the office of the Presidency, the trappings are actually important. For the most part, Americans have thrown off formality. The formality around the Presidency is still a good insight on how the occupants view the office, though. I'll give Michelle Obama a sliver of doubt for now, but if the family views their public appearance so informally going forward, then it will tell me a great deal about how they view the office.

Cool but Weird

Is it just me, or is it kind of weird to watch someone outside your generation blog their love for someone else?

An Ass Would Have Been More Appropriate

But come January, I'll take a goat:

She planned to butcher the animal later but was passing through Winona on her way to St. Paul when the car broke down, Prusci remembered her saying.

The woman, and a man and child who were waiting for her outside, left while Prusci and other workers began the repairs.

After about 10 minutes, they could hear the goat crying.

"We cracked open the trunk, you know, so it could breathe," Prusci said. "And sure enough, there it was. It kind of poked its head up."

The goat had been painted Vikings purple and gold. Shaved into its side was the No. 4 - the number of Brett Favre, who was making his Vikings debut later that night in a preseason game in the Twin Cities.

What's the saying? What's good good for the goat is good for the Farvruh?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Reason Why People Loathe and Fear Unions

Any organization that can get its members to vote against their own self interests, as the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Lodge 1947 just did at Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, horrifies the average bystander. Your industry is in a beyond depressed financial state, and you effectively vote your job out of existence. Principle is meaningless when you are out of a job. Good luck to all the yes voters finding jobs as good as you just had.

Friday, August 21, 2009

It's the Intent, Stupid

Since Brett Favre signed with the Minnesota Vikings, I've many a sports report and blogger chide Packer fans who are upset by this. There logic is that he is free to play as long as he wants, and to be as indecisive as he wants.

They miss a big point.

Brett Favre's intent since sometimes last summer has been to exact his revenge upon Ted Thompson. He has as much as said that he wanted to play for the Vikings for exactly that reason. He has since backed off of that tact, but if you buy his latest drivel about not wanting revenge, then I have some nice beach front property to sell you in Augusta, Wisconsin.

The fact is that Brett Favre wants to stick it to Ted Thompson. The only way he can do that is by sticking it to the Packers. The fact that he thinks he is bigger than the Packers organization is obvious in the fact that he thinks "true Packers fans" will have no problem with this and will continue to have his back. Unfortunately, he's wrong. "Brett Favre Packer fans" may, but true, Packers-first fans do. They do because Favre's intent is to stick his thumb in the eye of the organization that he rode into the Hall of Fame. And when someone wants to stick their thumb in the eye of a sports organization, fans naturally feel like they are having that thumb poked into theirs as well. This is especially true when their dollars have enriched that person for years.

Make no mistake. This is not about Favre wanting to play for the love of the game. This is about Brett wanting to play for the hate of a man. Brett intends to exact his revenge, otherwise he wouldn't have retired, he wouldn't have asked for his release, and he'd still be playing for the New York Jets. The fans recognize this and they are rightfully repulsed by it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lazy Parents Who Want to Ban the Ice Cream Man

The New York Times brings us the newest rage in pop parenting: a movement to ban the ice cream man:

Ever since Katherine had an inconsolable meltdown about not being able to have a treat, Ms. Sell has been trying to have unlicensed vendors ousted from the park. She has repeatedly called the city’s 311 complaint hot line, joining parents nationwide who can’t stand the icy man or his motorized big brother, the ice cream man.

“I fall into the camp of parents who are irate,” Ms. Sell said. She has equal disdain for Mister Softee and the ice cream pop vendor outside the park, but since they are licensed, there is not much she can do about them.

Guess what? Parenting is not an easy job. When confronted with a temptation like an ice cream man, it is a parent's job to teach some lessons. The first is that you cannot always have what you want. Are the side effects of 'no' unpleasant? You bet your ass they are. But the sooner your child learns it, the better off you and the child will ultimately be. By banning the ice cream truck, all you accomplish is saving yourself a little trouble.

Second, the temptation of ice cream is also a perfect time to introduce your child to economic trade offs. I'll give you an example. When I was young, we had a regular visit from the ice cream truck. Once in a while, my mom and dad would spring for a treat. Most of the time, however, I was presented with a decision that I had to make: I could buy myself ice cream anytime I wanted, out of my allowance money or my piggy bank. But by doing so, it meant that I had less or no money for things I wanted more, like a toy or a pack of baseball cards. Again, the banners are abdicating their job to teach this lesson because it isn't always a pleasant lesson to teach, and that's plain lazy.

They also look at other issues of lazy parenting such as parents that leave their kids in strollers near the exhaust pipe or parents who don't want their kids eating ice cream. Well, I hate to say it, but neither of those items are the problem of the ice cream truck. They are problems of parents. It is a continuation of the trend for parents to not actually do a damn bit of parenting.

The article goes on to conflate several other issues that aren't pertinent to the core of this story. For instance, they talk about a Chicago ban that came about because of unsanitary situations and drug sales. Those are reasonable protections of the public and completely unrelated to their main issue of pop parenting. I'm willing to overlook that as poor writing as a result of a need to fill column inches. The focus of this article should not have been on the ice cream man but the weak willed parents, though.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

One More Favre Thought

Brett Favre, who at his Viking introduction presser displayed a poor understanding of what legacy means, stands to become a sort of reverse John Elway. Over his career, Elway's reputation was that he couldn't win the big one. It wasn't all Elway's fault that his teams lost four Super Bowls, but as the leader of the team, it fell on his shoulders. Late in his career, when Elway's teams began carrying him to a certain extent, he won two Super Bowls and completely rehabilitated his image.

Favre, on the other hand, stands to completely destroy his reputation in just over two short years. Favre, of course, won a Super Bowl in his first attempt. Since that time, Favre's teams were notorious for coming up short in big games. Not all of that was Brett's fault, but some was. Yet he avoided the fate of have a reputation similar to Elway's because he did win that one championship early on and it over shadowed everything else. Had he retired after losing in the NFC Championship game at age 37, his reputation would have remained intact and his one last hurrah would have been celebrated.

He came back, though. He carried the Jets early in that come back year, but it was fully on his shoulders that they slumped and missed the play offs. People began to question his role in the NFC Championship loss the year before. Still, had he stayed retired after the Jets, it all would have faded out of the colelctive memory. He's put himself back in the limelight with another potential contender, though, and perhaps nothing short of a Super Bowl victory will prevent him from being known as the guy who didn't win the games that really mattered.

If the Vikings do not win the Super Bowl and he is viewed as at all culpable, his career will be thoroughly reviewed by football fans. Doubt will be cast upon the 1996 season and whether that team won primarily because of him or because of the extraordinary defense and special teams and the sheer number of offensive weapons on that team. And if his role on that team is revised, it will shed an all new light on the rest of his career. At that moment, Favre will learn that his legacy isn't about what he thinks of his playing days, but what others in the future look back and think of his playing days.

The Lefties Not In The Infield

The New York Times recently published a piece which pondered the extreme rarity of left handed catchers in Major League Baseball. In the course of the piece, they also take a look at the dearth of left handed third basemen, shortstops, and second basemen. Being an issue I've actually given a lot of thought to, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the matter.

As sought after as left handed pitchers, first basemen, and hitters are, baseball is not a terribly left hand friendly game, especially in the infield. It has been said that the measurements of a baseball diamond are as close to perfection as possible, with the number of bang-bang plays, particularly at first, being held up as proof. It is those bang-bang plays that make the infield an unfriendly place for lefties. Infielders, particularly on the left side of the infield, must get their throws off as quickly as possible. Good throwing mechanics dictate that the best throws will be made when you lead in some fashion with the shoulder of your glove hand. For right handed infielders, that is the left shoulder, which is naturally positioned in the general direction of first base. Left handers, meanwhile, must turn their body more to make good, strong throws. It doesn't seem like much, but over the course of 162 games, that turn might make the difference between a dozen, maybe two dozen runners being safe or out. That may not seem like much, but if it changes the outcomes of three games, it can make all the difference in the world.

Catchers are more difficult to explain. The entire game transpires before a catcher and as such, the angles of the game are not as detrimental. It seems clear that there could be successful left handed catchers, but why aren't there any? The scarcity of the left handed arm probably has a lot to with it. A good catcher is probably going to have one of the top two arms outside of the pitcher in your lineup. As valuable as left handed pitching is, if given the choice between using a power left handed arm on the mound or behind the plate, you are almost always going to choose the mound.

Now, what about that incredible left handed offensive talent with an average arm but solid defense? That player is probably going to end up at first base for a couple of reasons. Catcher is a brutal position. Most moms figure that out in Little League. Coaches at all levels will usually want to preserve the offensive production of a big time hitter by moving him out from behind the plate. Second, that hypothetical offensive talent with an average arm is probably going to be bested by a stronger armed right hander who can throw out base runners by high school. The safe place to put that player to accentuate his positives is first base, a position where it is advantageous to have a lefty and where the lessor arm strength can be hidden.

There are a lot of myths about left handed catchers and the Times looks at a number of them but never really gets to the nut of the problem. The fact is that the opportunity cost of playing a scarce, talented left handed thrower behind the plate is just too high. Whatever their mix of skills, there are better positions for them on the field. That is why you don't see left handed catchers in professional baseball.

I, For One, Welcome the New Vikings' Overlord

I feel a little like the proverbial kid in a candy store right now. If they stay healthy, I think the Packers will be good on both sides of the ball. But the return of Brett Favre to the Vikings is what really has me excited. Does anyone out there remember how Favre gets when he is personally jacked about a game? How poorly, even later in his career, he could play early in those games? How desperate his play became when teams would take advantage of his over-anxious unforced errors? He is going to give the Packers opportunities to beat him. All they are going to have to do is capitalize on them.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

No They Aren't

What the hell?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Leaders of the United States, Mexico and Canada -- also known as "the three amigos" -- begin a summit on Sunday in Mexico to talk about simmering trade issues and the threat of drug gangs.

Whomever "knows" them as that is an idiot, as is Mr. Holland for writing it.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

President Obama Channels His Inner Nixon

I must admit that I was wrong. I saw President Obama as a Jimmy Carter type. Who knew that he was more of a Nixon?

Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to

How does this make you feel, America? At least Nixon's enemies list was born of his own paranoia. This administration, perhaps appropriately, wants to develop a wider ranging enemies list by have you all spy on each other and tattle, much like they used to do in the Soviet Union.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Don't Call It A Value Add Tax!

I implore bloggers, blog readers, and everyone interested to not indulge the Obama administration in their 1984-esque double speak. Do not refer to their newest pet money-suck as a value add tax. Please, please refer to it for what it is: A sales tax. Every time you discuss this idea, do not let the administration win the rhetorical battle. Call it the sales tax that it is, and explain it to those that may not understand that. It is unacceptable that, on top of all of the other ways that the federal government taxes us from the bassonet to the coffin, that they now start grabbing from the everyday action of the economy.