Saturday, September 30, 2006

Halftime Blogging

Anchors Aweigh! Navy rebounds from a 1 point loss at home to the Golden Hurricane to win going away 41-17 against the Connecticut Huskies. The Huskies had a 2-1 record coming in and had a 14-7 win over Indiania (from the Big Ten).

And, there is happiness among the Illini football fans. Illinois made a long drive at the end of the game to kick a field goal to win 23-20 as time expired. This wasn't a result of flukes either as the 26 point underdog Illini (and I took Michigan State and gave the points) outgained the Spartans 390-231 in total yardage. Maybe coach Zook is right about Illinois having gotten better?

The Notre Dame-Purdue game is turning into a basketball game; it is 28-14 with Purdue having scored on an 88 yard pass play right at the end of the half.

I've had some fun posting on the message boards and I've gotten some help with my Warrior III pose:

I want to look like this:

But instead look a bit more like this (lady in the white top or guy in the baggy khaki shorts; the lady in the purple jog-bra and black spandex looks pretty good)

So Nick helps me out:

Hi Ollie,
Just to add where I think people often go wrong in warrior 3-the pose is often done 'after' virabhadrasana 1. I say 'after,' because the mistakes made in warrior 1 are often relected in warrior 3, or the mistakes are garnered on the movement from the first warrior to the third warrior.

For instance, in first warrior, the pelvis should attempt to reach neutral, but is often tilted forwards and with one hip further back, creating lumbar lordosis, especially on the side of the back leg. This means that the back muscles are already tight, especially on the side of the raised leg as you go into third warrior, and that the gluteal muscles are stretched, when they should be short, so that you can lift the leg without 'hiking' the hip.

But let's assume you have a good command of warrior 1. On the movement into third warrior pose, try to move as though you were playng tug of war with a yoda-like yoga instructor who could pull on the rope even when your arms are lifted above your head. This means that in first warrior, you are pulling your body towards your hands, so the the lower trapezius (and others)have an easy job of pulling your shoulder blades down your rib cage. As you start to move into third warrior pose, old Yoda starts to move with you, so that your body gets pulled into alignment by effectively tensioning itself, helping to ensure that the practice of this pose brings better alignment, not worse posture, which it sounds like your third warrior might be creating.

Now, when your arms are horizontal to the floor, you are ready to lift the back foot and progress towards the balance. This is the point at which Yoda often decides to go for a coffee break, so you have to make sure he stays put, and continues pulling on the rope so that basically your back foot is peeled away from the floor by the pull on the body. If you do this properly, it causes the ball of the foot to revolve around, so that the front of the leg faces forwards-no internal or external rotation. From there, the big toe is peeled away from the floor.

I went into some detail, because you often see students trying to get to third warrior pose with the foot still turned out, or the leg externally rotated (it should be trying to internally rotate). This makes it much harder to achieve third warrior pose. It puts down a second obstacle, in that because you are not peeling your foot away from the floor, you are much more likely to launch yourself into third warrior pose, so that just at the moment that you need perfect concentration and body alignment, you throw yourself across the movement.

But by learning to pull into the posture, you will also learn to activate the core muscles-they activate in order to complete the linkage that is set in effect by Yoda-you either love him or hate him With all the relevant core muscles appropiately activated, your movement and subsequent posture will be dramatically effected-your command of the activity should be dramatically improved. Hope so anyway

As an afterthought, I would guess that a bunch of pressure sensors under the sole of your standing foot would show a very different picture to the pressures that would be shown by you having perfect body alignment. Be prepared to adapt the foot to the new challenge-the effects are astronomical, as you sense better through the soles of the feet-they become a mirror by which you view your whole body alignment. If you like, I'll go through the ways of gaining good foot awareness, but I've done it here before, and I'm not sure if I want to clutter up this thread any more-it's an interesting topic, congratulations
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
Bertrand Russell
British author, mathematician, & philosopher (1872 - 1970)

I love his signature line too!

And to end with a couple of Dilbert cartoons:

Stretchy women. Like this one (Yoga Chickie)

Or Katsan.

Getting it off of my chest

A personal note: I did 24.7 miles of cycling (3.6 before, 21 after) getting to and coming from my duties at the Zoo Run Run. It seemed as if the runners enjoyed themselves.


It is well known by now that Representative Mark Foley (R-Florida) resigned his seat after it was revealed that he had sent some sexually related e-mail to a 16 year old male who was a former congressional page. What isn't well known is how much the Republican leadership knew about Mr. Foley's issue. According to the Washington Post:

The resignation rocked the Capitol, and especially Foley's GOP colleagues, as lawmakers were rushing to adjourn for at least six weeks. House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of inappropriate "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he then told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Boehner later contacted The Post and said he could not remember whether he talked to Hastert.

It was not immediately clear what actions Hastert took. His spokesman had said earlier that the speaker did not know of the sexually charged online exchanges between Foley and the boy.

Of course, as sad as this situation is, many of us have had a field day with it. Dependable Renegade reminds of of Foley's crass hypocrisy:

WASHINGTON -- For more than a week, members of Congress said they would avoid partisan politics when they got Kenneth Starr's report on President Clinton. But when they finally saw it Friday, they split along party lines.

Republicans were aghast at Clinton's behavior, with many saying it showed he had lied and abused his power.

"It's vile," said Rep. Mark Foley, R-West Palm Beach. "It's more sad than anything else, to see someone with such potential throw it all down the drain because of a sexual addiction."
Yeah, I can see why this jerk found it vile; Clinton's fling was female and of the age of consent.

Another hat tip to the Dependable Renegade!

Title IX
I am having trouble deciding what I think about Title IX, especially as it applies to athletics. I should point out that Title IX is, strictly speaking, not specifically directed at athletics. A good summary of what is says can be found here.

How it applies to sports: (same source)

Participation: Title IX is not a quota system. Every institution has three options to demonstrate fairness in athletic opportunities. Schools can show that they comply with Title IX if they can demonstrate any one of the following:
  • Substantially proportionate athletic opportunities for male and female athletes;
  • A history and continuing practice of expanding opportunities for the under-represented sex;
  • Full and effective accommodation of the interests and abilities of the under-represented sex. Schools do not necessarily need to offer identical sports, yet they do need to provide an equal opportunity for females to play in sports of interest.
2) Scholarships: The total amount of athletic aid must be substantially proportionate to the ratio of female and male athletes. For example, consider a college with 90 female athletes and 115 male athletes and a scholarship budget of $100,000. An equitable distribution of funds would award $44,000 in scholarship aid to female athletes and $56,000 to males.
So, what is wrong with that, and why am I troubled?

Well, I want to get one thing straight. If schools would have done right by women from the very start (and I am talking about athletics), then there wouldn't be a problem. If athletic departments could be trusted to be fair, there wouldn't be a problem.

But there is a problem.

So, why don't I go along with programs like Save Title IX? What programs like that miss, in my opinion, is that, on the average, women don't have the same attitude and intensity toward sports as men do.

Yes, the top female athletes ARE intense and driven. But the difference comes when you look at the middle to the back of the pack.

Bottom line: due to requirements, a male has to be able to help his team win right away to even be given a shot as a walk on! Otherwise, he counts "against the numbers"; for example, your 17 minute 5K runner probably wouldn't make the cut at a Division I cross country team, even as a walk on.

The story is very different for women.

Consider the results from a recent college cross country meet (division I women, college division women) . In division I, places 69-74 ranged from 24:02 to 26:54 for the 5K RUN. And yes, this is on a flat, soccer field caliber grass course, and yes, some of these finishers were from a Big Ten program.

It gets worse in the "college division" were finishers 77-98 ranged from 25:07 to 32:37 with number 99 finishing in 37:23! And no, this wasn't a case where somone twisted an ankle but finished for the good of the school.

Bottom line: under today's rules, we have "college teams" carrying women who aren't even physically fit, much less a college caliber athlete.

Yes, there is a place for the super slow runner: that place is called a "fun run" or even a local 5K race.

So, I think that there should be some sort of revision as to how Title IX applies to intercollegiate sports, though I would be against doing away with it.

Saturday: more topics

I am getting ready to get on my bike and go to the Zoo Run Run 5K to help out.

The Zoo Run Run is a 5K run which benefits the Glen Oak Zoo. In the past, it was a multi-loop course in Glen Oak Park and there was a time when the course went through the zoo itself.

Local Issues
It turns out that the city council memeber that I worked to elect is doing a good job:

Ordinances passed at the Sept. 19 Peoria City Council meeting may affect how Bradley students party.

The host of a party where minors are drinking can now be fined $1,000. The law goes into effect Saturday.

Junior civil engineering major Denver Dorherty, who sometimes hosts parties at his off-campus residence, said he’s upset about the new fine.

“I think that’s pretty ridiculous, especially on a college campus,” Dorherty said. “That’s a steep fine.”

But councilwoman Barbara Van Auken, who represents Bradley and surrounding neighborhoods on the city council, said the law isn’t intended only for Bradley students.

“It’s not just Bradley students who do this,” Van Auken said, referring to underage drinking parties.

Van Auken sponsored the ordinance after receiving complaints from citizens in her district about wild parties.

“Their neighborhood was overrun with a drunken crowd, many of whom were very young,” Van Auken said. “Having a party is one thing, but having chaotic, loud people walking through your yard, vomiting and urinating, is not pleasant.”

Another ordinance amending the noise-complaint law was coupled with the party-hosting fine.

The fine for noise violations is now $500, up from $200, if infractions occur between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.; fines for violations before those hours remain $200.

[...]University Police Chief Dave Baer said the new laws and fines won’t affect the way his officers patrol for drinking parties.

“[The city] just put a lot more teeth into it,” Baer said. “It will create anguish for those who own property.”

But Van Auken said the $1,000 party-hosting fee will fall to tenants – unless city officials can’t find them. She said if a ticket is issued to a landlord, he or she has the option to either pay it or prove to the city that the tenants will be evicted within 30 days. The tenant will still be responsible for the fine in such a case.

Of course some of the little narcissists aren't going to like it. After all, their parents never told them "no" so why should anyone else? And yes, I have the Bradley Police complaint number on my cell phone.

Don't get me wrong, I sleep with earplugs; it isn't as if I am looking to fine anyone. But when I get woken up while wearing earplugs, well, that is too much.

It has only happened 2-3 times last year.

National Issues

This article takes a look at our national character. No, this isn't one of those "wow, we used to be a great country but we've gone downhill" type of posts. This is an honest look at ourselves as a people; one of the main themes is that, as a whole, we are not a patient nation, and some things take lots of time to change (if they are indeed ever going to change)

We Americans have any number of admirable traits; creativity, generosity, initiative, fortitude, among a host of others. Patience however is a not a defining national characteristic. We want things to happen today. Not at some undefined point in the future but right now. Accompanying this is the annoying and self-defeating tendency to keep score on a remarkably short term level. When we take the daily fluctuations the stock market or the travails of our sports heroes to heart it is an idle pursuit that is benign at worst. When we do it in regards to matters of historical importance, particularly those on the geo-political level, it is not only absurd, it is very, very dangerous.

To compound this self imposed quandary: we not only want everything to happen right now but we insist that we always win. A combination that when pointed in the right direction has cured polio, put a dozen human beings on the moon and provided more people with a higher standard of living than any eco-political system has ever done. But even the best there ever was can every once in a while rush into something and make what was a mess an even uglier one. [...]

This next article tackles some of the common misconceptions put forth by those who support Wal-Mart (in its current form)


Ten Reasons Why the Wal-Mart Pundits Are Wrong

John Cavanagh & Sarah AndersonFri Sep 29, 12:10 PM ET

The Nation -- On September 11, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley used his veto power for the first time in seventeen years to block a measure that would have given Wal-Mart employees and workers at other "big box" stores at least $10 per hour plus benefits worth at least $3 per hour. The City Council had passed the bill by a 35-to-14 vote margin. Daley's brash act was a temporary victory for the chorus of conservative pundits and corporate flacks who have been singing Wal-Mart's virtues for the past year. Here's what they claim and why they are wrong: (my note: I have deleted the reasons the claims are wrong; see if you can come up with them. Go to the article to see what the authors came up with)

1. Wal-Mart's low prices save American consumers $263 billion a year (cited by syndicated columnists Robert Samuelson, Sebastian Mallaby, John Tierney and George Will):

2. If Wal-Mart increases wages, it will have to increase prices (various pundits):

3. "When Wal-Mart opened a store in Glendale, Ariz., last year, it received 8,000 applications for 525 jobs, suggesting that not everyone believes the pay and benefits are unattractive" (Sebastian Mallaby):

4. If cities raise minimum wages, Wal-Mart and other big-box stores will go elsewhere:

5. "Wal-Mart's health benefits are about as generous as those of comparable employers" (Sebastian Mallaby):

6. "Wal-Mart costs about 50 retail jobs among competitors for every 100 jobs Wal-Mart creates" (George Will):

7. "Wal-Mart has helped poor and middle class consumers--in fact, more than anybody else" (Richard Vedder):

8. "The notion that a job is worthless without benefits is like saying a car is useless without a sunroof" (Tim Kane, Heritage Foundation):

9. Wal-Mart is now "the green machine" (Fortune magazine):

10. "Wal-Mart coming into a community expands the tax base and boosts overall community development" (various pundits):

Next, I give a link to a video to a good old fashioned video which demonstrates why "we" (progressives) are just plain more moral that "them" (conservatives). Yeah, most of the value is that we get to feel better about ourselves. But there is a valid point to be made: conservatives have openly embraced the "bigot vote." Period.

One of the best lines came from a "meet the people" event when Montana Senator Conrad Burns was asked "how do you live in Washington D. C. with all of those niggers?"

Burns: "Hell of a Challenge" to Live With Minorities. In 1994, a Washington Post editorial noted that Burns recounted an incident when a rancher asked him, "Conrad, how can you live back there [in Washington] with all those niggers?" Burns reportedly "told the rancher that it was 'a hell of a challenge.'" The Post then noted that "After protests erupted in the state following publication of his remarks, the senator apologized." [Washington Post, editorial "Conrad Burns Tells a Story," 10/26/94]

Anyway, it is here on the video.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Assorted Topics: end of September.

Torture Amendment

I am sorry to say that the Senate just passed a bill which, in principle, would make it easier for our government to torture people. The vote was 65-34, with 12 DINOS (Democrats in Name Only) and 1 CFL (Connecticut for Liberman) people voting with the Republicans. One Republican voted against it, and I am happy to say that in Illinois, we were 2-0.

Of course, many folks who share my view of the world overreacted; no this doesn't mean our country is dead or anything like that. We've been in far worse places (e. g., Civil War, World War II, etc.). And it isn't as if the day to day opeartions have changed at all.

As far as the DINOs who voted for this: most are your basic insipid, "not the sharpest knife in the drawer" types who wouldn't stand a chance of getting elected in the state where I live. But they don't represent my state; most of them represent red states (though I wonder what the New Jersey senators were thinking).

Photo Hosting Service Censorship

I can understand why a photo image hosting service might not want to host pornography. And I understand that they have the right to set their own terms.

But what I wonder is if many know that there are some services that won't host photos because they are controversial (e. g., show Abu-Graeb scenes, Holocost photos)? Such a service is photobucket!

People are not Commas.
President Bush was skewered for his "comma" remark: (he was being interviewed by Wolf Blitzer:

BLITZER: Let’s move on and talk a little bit about Iraq. Because this is a huge, huge issue, as you know, for the American public, a lot of concern that perhaps they are on the verge of a civil war, if not already a civil war…. We see these horrible bodies showing up, tortured, mutilation. The Shia and the Sunni, the Iranians apparently having a negative role. Of course, al Qaeda in Iraq is still operating.

BUSH: Yes, you see — you see it on TV, and that’s the power of an enemy that is willing to kill innocent people. But there’s also an unbelievable will and resiliency by the Iraqi people…. Admittedly, it seems like a decade ago. I like to tell people when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is — my point is, there’s a strong will for democracy.

Now, I actually understand what Bush was saying. Example: consider, say, the Viksburg battle in the Civil War. Far more Americans (both sides) suffered and died there than in the whole of the Iraq war. Many civilians died of disease and starvation as well. (Of course more people remember Gettysburg which went on at the same time, but I digress)

But in the history books, you might get a line or perhaps a paragraph; what people remember is the outcome of the war. Very few people remember the misery of those who suffered in that battle.

Nevertheless, it was a politically stupid thing to say; it aroused outrage in many, including a Marine Sergant Major.

George Allen's Racism
Geoge Allen in a Senator from Virginia who is facing a strong challenge from my fellow U. S. Naval Academy alum Jim Webb. Allen has come under fire in many quarters for a racist remark he made toward a young man who was covering an event

Last Friday, while speaking at a GOP rally in southwestern Virginia, Allen singled out Sidarth, a Webb volunteer, and called him "Macaca." He also said: "Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."

The term "macaca" refers to a genus of monkey and is considered an ethnic slur in some cultures. Allen apologized, saying that he did not know what the word meant and that it was a play on "Mowhak," a nickname given to Sidarth by Allen's campaign staff because of his haircut.

He has also come under fire for racist things he has said in his past:

Three former college football teammates of Sen. George Allen say that the Virginia Republican repeatedly used an inflammatory racial epithet and demonstrated racist attitudes toward blacks during the early 1970s.

"Allen said he came to Virginia because he wanted to play football in a place where 'blacks knew their place,'" said Dr. Ken Shelton, a white radiologist in North Carolina who played tight end for the University of Virginia football team when Allen was quarterback. "He used the N-word on a regular basis back then."

A second white teammate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared retribution from the Allen campaign, separately claimed that Allen used the word "nigger" to describe blacks. "It was so common with George when he was among his white friends. This is the terminology he used," the teammate said.

A third white teammate contacted separately, who also spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of being attacked by the Virginia senator, said he too remembers Allen using the word "nigger," though he said he could not recall a specific conversation in which Allen used the term. "My impression of him was that he was a racist," the third teammate said.

Allen has gotten widely lampooned for this; one of my favorite things is the Allen "insult generator" at Slate:

George Allen has spent all summer with his foot in his mouth. On Sunday, Salon reported that a handful of the Virginia senator's former football teammates claim he repeatedly used the word nigger. The New York Times wrote on Tuesday that two of Allen's former acquaintances recall that he said the word. Allen has denied the allegations. "The story and his comments and assertions in there are completely false," he told the Associated Press. "I don't remember ever using that word and it is absolutely false that that was ever part of my vocabulary."

Last week, Allen accused a reporter who asked about his mother's Jewish background of "making aspersions about people." He later remarked that his newfound Semitic heritage hadn't brought about any dramatic changes: "I still had a ham sandwich for lunch." Allen also drew attention over the summer when he referred to one of his opponents' campaign volunteers as a macaca—an ethnic slur in some North African countries. What was his excuse this time? "I don't know what it means."

We know what you're thinking: When's George Allen going to insult me? That's where Slate's George Allen Insult Generator comes in. Are you black? Fat? A stamp collector? Sen. Allen's got an insult—and a rationalization—waiting for you.

So go ahead and follow the link that I provided and play the game; it is funny!

But there is something we should keep in mind: Allen's use of racial slurs in the past in and of itself won't hurt him that much with the general public. However his lying about not having used it might. (link includes a video).

For one, people can be redeemed (think: Senator Byrd from West Virginia, who was once a member of the Klu Klux Klan). Next, people are forgiving; after all, how many of us haven't done things that we are ashamed of in our own personal lives?

For example, in Peoria, we have an "at large" member of the City Council named Gary Sandberg. Several years ago (back in the late 1990's, if I remember correctly), he had gotten in a dispute with someone over a parking spot. He called the woman a "nigger" and was then accused of "keying" her car.

He went to trial and was aquitted of the keying charge. He admitted to using the racial slur. There were protests all over the place; African American leaders in the city had all sorts of meetings, protests and the like.

But Sandberg is one council member who not only lives in a depressed neighborhood, but constantly fights for basic services in such neighborhoods. He is a real neighborhood advocate; he isn't someone who says one thing but lives his life in another way.

Hence he was elected to an at large seat and continues to be reelected. The public at large forgave his behavior.

Don't get me wrong: I see Allen as a complete idiot and a disgrace to the Senate. But those slurs alone won't do him in.

Conservative Utopia

(click to see a larger version)
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live in a country that wasn't beholden to all of those horrible liberal values? Theisnospoon from the Daily Kos reminds us that we don't have to wonder:

Creating the Conservative Utopia Hotlist
by thereisnospoon [Subscribe]
Tue Sep 26, 2006 at 12:01:16 PM PDT

Utopia, n.,, An ideally perfect place, especially in its social, political, and moral aspects.

The world has never seen what a liberal one looks like.

* thereisnospoon's diary :: ::

The world has never seen what can happen when the Common Good is emphasized over the Power of Elites, while maintaining a capitalist system and freedom of innovation.

The world has never seen what can happen when racism is completely eliminated.

the world has never seen what can happen when the stain of religious intolerance has been wiped clean.

The world has never seen what can happen when military is only used to keep the peace and prevent brutality, instead of to prop up evil dictators and corporatist regimes.

The world has never seen what can happen when government is completely transparent.

The world has never seen these things because it requires people to appeal to the better angels of their nature--and because our basest instincts are easy to appeal to for political gain by corrupt elites.

The world HAS seen, however, what "Conservative" Utopia looks like. We don't have to guess about that.

The world has seen what a nation looks like where:

the government does not regulate business;

where the government's primary responsibility is enforcement of public morality;

where local control is prioritized over federal control;

where taxes are virtually nonexistent;

where every citizen not only has the right to, but DOES carry a gun--in public;

where military spending is over 90% of the budget;

where the only social safety net is through religious organizations;

where the nation's leaders claim authority straight from God, and rely solely on religious doctrine for their legal authority;

Where homosexuality is unwelcome and legislated against--even to the point of execution;

where women's obligation is to bear children and be subservient to their husbands, with no access to abortion;

where public education does not exist, and is restricted solely to private and homeschool--usually religious;

where foreigners are viewed with deep suspicion;

where all other priorities are sacrificed at the altar of military victory;

where "indecent art" is not tolerated by the government;

and where "pre-emptive strikes" are not only tolerated, but encouraged.

We have already SEEN what that looks like. We don't have to guess.

It looks like AFGHANISTAN, PRE-9/11. It looks like THIS.

And George W. Bush and his cronies are letting the Taliban turn Afghanistan into their own "Conservative Utopia" once again.

So next time a "Conservative" like Ann Coulter tells you to just pack up and leave the country if you don't like the way George Bush does things, tell him or her this: I'm not leaving. You already HAVE a country to go to that believes in your ideology. Go there. I'm still trying to create one that believes in mine--and so was Thomas Jefferson.

Tell them, in other words, to go to hell. Because their hell already exists on earth. And these fuckers ALLOW it to continue to exist.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Being physically fit doesn't make you attractive.

I need to remember the following: being physically fit in and of itself doesn't make you attractive to others.

I am certainly not down on being physically fit; I think that physical fitness is a good thing. But check out the following photos:

This is Jean Schmidt finishing the Columbus Marathon in 1993; she ran 3:19. Yes, I know that this fact had been questioned, and we can't see the clock here. But this photo looks genuine, and the runners around her in this photo look like 3:15-3:20 type of marathon runners.

So, I will accept that she is a fine athlete.

This is a recent up close photo of her:

Yep, she ain't fat; my guess is that she can still run fast. But I doubt that anyone would find this attractive.

I have to remember this; having a toned body isn't enough to make one pleasant.

Update: For those who don't know, Jean Schmidt is the Republican congresswoman from Ohio's Second Congressional District. She won a special election in 2005 against Paul Hacket by 52-48%. Note that the Republicans poured tons of money into this race and that President Bush carried this district by 63-37.

She was noted for calling Congressman Murtha, a decorated Marine combat veteran, a coward because he is for withdrawing from Iraq. Currently, she is in a tight race for reelection against Democrat Victoria Wulsin.

The reason I needed this update is because one of my friends sent me a "how do you think Jean Schmidt would feel about this" e-mail message.

My guess is that she didn't know the political story. But even if she did, this woman (the one who sent me the e-mail message) is your typical bleeding heart liberal; a real "be nice to everyone" type of person.

That is one reason why liberals are good to hang around but bad at winning elections!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Bill Clinton: The Big Dog Still has a Big Bite! Plus: a shocking expose on "boobgate"

Don't mess with the Big Dog! Chris Wallace from Faux News had agreed to interview Bill Clinton, evidently to discuss the Clinton Global Initative. But Wallace attempted to sandbag Clinton with questions about why he didn't "do more to get Bin Laden" and Al-Queda.

Wallace, " a monkey posing as a newscaster" (as Keith Olberman called him) was handed his head.

Here is part of the transcript; please read the whole thing or even see the interview, and please read the Olberman commentary:

CW: When we announced that you were going to be on FOX News Sunday, I got a lot of email from viewers, and I’ve got to say, I was surprised most of them wanted me to ask you this question: Why didn’t you do more to put Bin Laden and al Qaeda out of business when you were President? There’s a new book out which I suspect you’ve read called The Looming Tower. And it talks about how the fact that when you pulled troops out of Somalia in 1993, Bin Laden said, "I have seen the frailty and the weakness and the cowardice of US troops." Then there was the bombing of the embassies in Africa and the attack on the USS Cole

WJC: Okay…

CW: …May I just finish the question, sir? And after the attack, the book says Bin Laden separated his leaders because he expected an attack and there was no response. I understand that hindsight is 20/20…

WJC: No, let’s talk about…

CW: …but the question is why didn’t you do more? Connect the dots and put them out of business?

WJC: Okay, let’s talk about it. I will answer all of those things on the merits, but I want to talk about the context (in) which this…arises. I’m being asked this on the FOX network…ABC just had a right-wing conservative on "The Path to 9/11" falsely claim that it was falsely based on the 911 Commission Report with three things asserted against me that are directly contradicted by the 9/11 Commission Report. I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans who now say that I didn’t do enough claimed (then) that I was obsessed with Bin Laden. All of President Bush’s neocons claimed that I was too obsessed with finding Bin Laden when they didn’t have a single meeting about Bin Laden for the nine months after I left office. All the right-wingers who now say that I didn’t do enough said (then) that I did too much. Same people.

They were all trying to get me to withdraw from Somalia in 1993, the next day after we were involved in Black Hawk Down. And I refused to do it and stayed
six months and had an orderly transfer to the UN. Okay, now let’s look at all the criticisms: Black Hawk Down, Somalia. There is not a living soul in the world who thought that Bin Laden had anything to do with Black Hawk Down or was paying any attention to it or even knew al Qaeda was a growing concern in October of 1993.

CW: I understand…

WJC: No wait…no wait…don’t tell me. You asked me why I didn’t do more to Bin Laden. There was not a living soul…all the people who criticized me wanted to leave the next day. You brought this up, so you get an answer.

CW: I’m perfectly happy to. Bin Laden says…

WJC: And secondly…

CW: Bin Laden says…

WJC: Bin Laden may have said that…

CW: Bin Laden says it showed the weakness of the U.S. …

WJC: It would have shown the weakness if we left right away, but he wasn’t involved in that. That’s just a bunch of bull. That was about Mohammed Adid, a Muslim warlord murdering…thousand Pakistani Muslim troops. We were all there on a humanitarian mission. We had not one mission - none - to establish a certain kind of Somali government or to keep anybody out. He was not a religious fanatic.

CW: But Mr. President…

WJC: There was no al Qaeda…

CW: …with respect, if I may, instead of going through ‘93…

WJC: You asked, you. It (was) you (who) brought it up.

CW: May I ask a general question that you can answer? The 9/11 Commission, which you talk about–and this is what they did say–not what ABC pretended they said…

WJC: Wait, wait…

CW: …They said about you and 43 and I quote, "The U.S. government took the threat seriously, not in the sense of mustering anything like that would be….to confront an enemy of the first, second or third rank"…

WJC: That’s not true with us and Bin Laden…

CW: …the 9/11 Commission says…

WJC: Let’s look at what Richard Clarke says. You think Richard Clarke had a vigorous attitude about Bin Laden?

CW: Yes, I do.

WJC: You do?

CW: I think he has a variety of opinions and loyalties, but yes.

WJC: He has a variety of opinion and loyalties now but let’s look at the facts. He worked for Ronald Reagan; he was loyal to him. He worked for George H.W. Bush and he was loyal to him. He worked for me and he was loyal to me. He worked for President Bush; he was loyal to him. They downgraded him and the terrorist operation. Now, look what he said. Read his book and read his factual assertions - not opinions–assertions. He said we took "vigorous action" after the African embassies. We probably nearly got Bin Laden.

CW: [..]

WJC: Now, wait a minute…

CW: …cruise missiles…

WJC: I authorized the CIA to get groups together to try to kill him. The CIA was run by George Tenet, who President Bush gave the Medal of Freedom to and said he did a good job. The country never had a comprehensive anti-terror operation until I came to office. If you can criticize me for one thing, you can criticize me for this: after the Cole, I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban, and launch a full scale attack/search for Bin Laden. But we needed basing rights in Uzbekistan, which we got (only) after 9/11. The CIA and the FBI refused to certify that Bin Laden was responsible while I was there. They refused to certify. So that meant I would have had to send a few hundred Special Forces in helicopters and refuel at night. Even the 9/11 Commission didn’t do (think we should have done) that. Now the 9/11 Commission was a political document, too? All I’m asking is if anybody wants to say I didn’t do enough, you read Richard Clarke’s book.

CW: Do you think you did enough, sir?

WJC: No, because I didn’t get him.

CW: Right…

WJC: But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, including
all the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for
trying. They had eight months to try and they didn’t. I tried. So I tried
and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and
the best guy in the country: Dick Clarke.

So you did FOX’s bidding on this show. You did you nice little conservative hit job on me. But what I want to know..

CW: Now wait a minute, sir…

WJC: [..]

CW: I asked a question. You don’t think that’s a legitimate question?

WJC: It was a perfectly legitimate question. But I want to know how many
people in the Bush administration you’ve asked this question of. I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked ‘Why didn’t you do anything about the Cole?’ I want to know how many you asked ‘Why did you fire Dick Clarke?’ I want to know…

CW: We asked…

WJC: [..]

CW: Do you ever watch FOX News Sunday, sir?

WJC: I don’t believe you ask them that.

CW: We ask plenty of questions of…

WJC: You didn’t ask that, did you? Tell the truth.

CW: About the USS Cole?

WJC: Tell the truth…

CW: I…with Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s plenty of stuff to ask.

WJC: Did you ever ask that? You set this meeting up because you were going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers because Rupert Murdoch is going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers for supporting my work on Climate Change. And you came here under false pretenses and said that you’d spend half the time talking about…

CW: [laughs]

WJC: You said you’d spend half the time talking about what we did out there to raise $7 billion plus over three days from 215 different commitments. And you don’t care.

CW: But, President Clinton…

WJC: [..]

CW: We were going to ask half the [interview time] about it. I didn’t think this was going to set you off on such a tear.

WJC: It set me off on such a tear because you didn’t formulate it in an honest way and you people ask me questions you don’t ask the other side.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Of course, the right wingers are after President Clinton for just about everything, including the lunch at which this photo was taken:

We read:
(source: )
In a recent post, Ann Althouse rightly pokes fun at a picture of a group of left-leaning bloggers who met with and posed with Bill Clinton. Professor Althouse points out the irony of a female blogger from a "feminist" blog standing in front of Clinton posing in a rather provocative stance.

I have to agree with this right winger. This woman has boobs and evidently likes Clinton. So I've done my investigating and have found:

My wife has big boobs. She liked Clinton and voted for him twice!

My yoga teacher has big boobs too. And she liked him too and also voted for him!

Ok, I don't see President Clinton in this photo. I don't know if this lady (or her friends) voted for president Clinton or even if she is a U. S. citizen (or her friends). But you never know...

And there is the lady in this photo. She does NOT have big boobs, and she is not a fan of President Clinton. At least, she probably isn't.

So there!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Weighing in this weekend.

Well, last night's ND-MSU game was a classic. Michigan State took a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and lead 31-14 at the half. The Irish came to within 31-21 only too see State extend it to 37-21 via a long drive where they punished Notre Dame on the ground.

But in the fouth quarter, the Irish offense scored on a long drive. Then the defense forced a fumble and got another score. Then with just over two minutes left, the Notre Dame defense stacked the line forcing Michigan State to throw to keep posession on a third down play; the result was an interception return for the go-ahead touchdown.

So the final score ended up 40-37; Notre Dame got payback for last year's heartbreaker. But, oddly enough, the visiting team in this series has won the last 7 games! So much for home field advantage.

In a bit of a downer, Navy lost to Tulsa 24-23 in overtime when they got their extra point blocked.

Social Issues
My sister is interested in health issues. She shares a report from the Austin American Statesman where a 12 year old girl has had liposuction!

In part, the report reads:

None of the experts said Brooke's surgeon breached an ethical standard. But some said they flat-out would not do liposuction on a 12-year-old, while others said they would have gone through certain procedures before considering it, such as consulting an ethical review board or having the patient see a psychiatrist, actions that Brooke's surgeon said "didn't cross my mind."

Dr. Robert Ersek, who calls himself "the biggest fat sucker in Texas," lived up to his moniker when he liposuctioned 35 pounds of fat from Brooke's arms, back and upper midsection in March and removed another 10 pounds — most of it skin — in May by doing a tummy tuck.

Spokespeople with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons said removing 35 pounds at once is an extremely large, if not dangerous, amount.

Ersek acknowledged it was "a mega amount" of fat and "off the scale," but he is not alone in doing large-volume liposuction or in doing the procedure for weight loss. He cites other plastic surgeons who agree with him in a 2004 book he co-authored, "Mega Lipo."

Dr. Peter B. Fodor of Los Angeles, former president of American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, said most mainstream plastic surgeons limit the amount of fat they draw from adults to about eight pounds per operation.

Schlessinger said that liposuction isn't effective for weight loss and that the risks from large-volume liposuction are significant and "considerable in a 12-year-old."

My oh my, 12 year olds getting liposuction.

I had coffee with a friend today, Bill Edley. We talked about political matters; one of our major subjects is how Governor Blagojevich is playing in downstate Illinois.

Yes, the latest poll shows Blagojevich with a lead, though the Sun Times poll that shows him with a 30 point lead is probably an outlier.

But Blagojevich's coverage downstate has been almost universally negative; any mention of his name brings scowls on the faces of even staunch Democrats. He is seen as being corrupt.

But, Bill pointed out that much of this reputation is purely hype. Whereas there is a list of people that want jobs from him, there is scant evidence that anyone has been shown favoritism. Many of the scaldals that have plagued him have involved people that he has reappointed from the previous administration. And it is true that some government contracts have gone to corporations that are backing Topinka.

I am looking forward to the op-ed that Bill is planning on writing.

Anyway, it looks as if I am off of the fence and am no longer leaning "green".

Pope's Remarks on Islam
The current pope has come under fire for a quote that he made when talking about Islam:

Much of the Muslim world is in an uproar over remarks by Pope Benedict, that they say are offensive to Islam. Speaking in Germany Tuesday, the pope quoted from a text that said the early spread of Islam had been accomplished by violence.

The Vatican says Benedict did not intend to hurt Muslims' feelings -- but the outcry could end the pope's plans visit Turkey in November.

The incriminating words were contained in a long academic speech on reason and faith the pope delivered at Regensburg University. At one point, Benedict quoted a remark made in the 14th century by the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus that derided Islam.

Translated from German, the pope cited the ruler's view of Islam: "He said, and I quote, 'Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'"

Muslim reaction has been vehement.

Of course, such a quote is hypocritical, given the crimes against humanity that the Catholic Church has committed (Crusades, Inquisition, condemnation of scientific advances, etc.)

No, Islam has no appeal to me. Yes, Mohammed did use violence, and he did raid caravans. But the Catholic Church is in no position to throw stones at anyone, especially, a pope who was once a Hitler Youth member.

And the Islamic world did make contributions toward knowledge; e. g., algebra.

Have you ever wanted to impress your friends at how tough of conditions you had during your latest athletic feat? If so, the site: is for you. You can download the weather data for the date in question and show just how windy, hot or humid your day was. You can even get a chart like this one:

This was a wind chart from last weekend's ride where I whined that the wind picked up just prior to my turning around on the Rock Island trail. And guess what? Yep, I turned around just about at 9:30 am and look at that wind speed chart. By 10 am, it was just blowing away in my face!

My first Century: No Baloney Ride.

This summer I have been recovering from an injury to my piriformis. I've done some riding, but up until about a month ago, it had been mostly a 5-10 mile ride with my daughter here and there.

Then, on August 16'th, my yoga teacher talked me into a 30 miler and things have taken off from there. My cycling milage (per week) went from basically zero to 90, 96, 118, 103, and 119 miles per week. Typically, I've ridden 20 on Tuesday, 15 on Thursday, and then 70-80 miles on the weekend usually split 40-30 or 50-20.

So I signed up for the Illinois Valley Wheelm'n No Baloney ride which was yesterday. Nice I had two 50 milers under my belt (Tour de Hog Heaven) I decided to aim for either the 75 or the 100.

Short version: I took about 10 minutes to fix a mechanical problem (rear wheel wobble) and about 50 minutes at the various sag stops (including 34 minutes for lunch), which gave me 8:08 for the 100, which included about 7:08 of actual riding time. My overall riding pace was a pathetic 14 miles per hour, and my best stretch was a 1:34 25 mile loop (almost 16 miles per hour). My average pace (including the sag times) was a little over 12 miles per hour.

I used my old 1983 Schwin Le Tour Luxe. Previously, I've ridden it about a half-dozen times per year, mostly when injured or when recovering from a marathon.

My other excuse for my slowness: due to my injury, I had to keep it in low gears the whole way. Never once did I use the large front sprocket. I tried to keep a good rpm and to not strain.

Since this was my second organized ride, I was somewhat ignorant of how these things worked and must have sounded dense as all get out to those who checked me in.

So, for those who haven't done an organized ride before here is a quick primer:

typically, you check in at a certain time range; not everyone starts at once like you do at a running race (or a mass-start bike race). You tell them what distance you are thinking of riding and you are given course maps. The "sag stops" are what we call "aid stations".

Unless this race has a "honor system" time trial competition (as the Tour de Hog Heaven did), no one keeps track of your time. If you break down or just become too tired, you are given a ride to the finish line.

Here is how this ride went: you checked in and the morning course was a 50 mile loop over country roads. It started a the Jubilee College Historical site, went through the Jubille College Park, up 150, down Thousand Dollar road and eventually went through Kramm. You eventually picked up Route 34 to Hanna City. You followed white markings here.

At the Hanna City rest stop, you had the option of a beautiful 25 mile loop, which I took. The loop was mostly south and included Glassford and Martin Weber road. This rout was marked with orange markers.

Then you resumed the 50 mile loop which took you through Eden, and routes 25 and 41 through Elmwood. You then work north to 18, 30 and 29 through Brimfield.

The Brimfield to the start finish was hilly as we went along the Brimfield-Jubilee road.

That gave you 75.

The afternoon loop was a 25 miler which took you past Dunlap to Priceville and back down via Mendenhall road and North Evans Mill road. The trip out was more indirect to give you 15 miles to Princeville, where the last sag stop was. This route was marked in pink.

The Ride Itself: Notes and Photos

First, the weather forecast called for rain, wind and thunderstorms. We got very lucky and avoided all of these, save a few rain drops here and there. The weather couldn't have been better for this ride! It felt so good to not have to contend with wind.

Next, about 3-4 mintues into the ride, I felt a horrible squeaking and felt my bike struggle. My rear wheel was rubbing against a stantion; evidently the bike show people had installed a "quick release" on it, and I had banged it around getting the bike into the truck. I managed to straighten it out quite a bit, but there was still some "wobble" to it which I'll have to fix. And I need to invest in a proper bike carrier.

Throught the ride, I got passed by groups of cyclist; most of them were of what I called the "slender spandex crowd." This included a couple of guys riding together, a "peleton" of roadies, a small group of tri types (one of them was training for Kona) and then a couple of the Peoria Ironman Triathletes, Beth Haynes and Jason Schifo. Beth and Jason slowed down to ride with me for a good stretch of that last 25 mile loop, for which I was very grateful!

There were many others from the Peoria group there as well, including Bob Corbett, Ana and Rich Breaux, Carey Weaver and Bev Enslow.

Most of the people who passed me were very friendly and chatted some; I got to banter a bit with one of the tri groups. I really enjoyed seeing the faster cyclists and they showed me just how much I could improve.

A couple of inspirational moments: I saw a family (mom, dad, two kids) doing the 50 mile course; the dad and the youngest daughter were on a tandem bike! How they handled those Brimfield hills were beyond me.

Also, I saw this old guy stop to stretch on that hilly section; he toughed it out and finished anyway.

I was at my whinest during the last 5-6 miles of the final 25 mile loop, and during the last 5-6 miles of the first 75 miles. I get into this: "this &^%$#ing section should be ending, but here is yet another f*&(ing hill to deal with!". I do better when I just ride. I wonder if I should get one of those speedometer/distance things.

Here are some photos:

I am sorry the quality of this photo is so poor as this would be a great photo of Beth and her high-tech felt bike. She was nice enough to slow down to ride with me for some of that final 25 mile stretch.
This was the start/finish sag station in the Jubilee College State Historical Site.
Another poor quality photo, but this shows one of our yoga class members filling up at a sag stop.
Here is one of the spreads at one of the sag stations.
This is the father/daughter tandem bike team. The son is in the yellow just to the side of the guy in the white shirt, and the mom is obsured by him, though you can see the front wheel of her bike. They did the 50 mile loop togther.

This is the entrance to the Hanna city sag station; again my camera doesn't do well in low lighting conditions. Hence any movement by me leads to a blurry photo when the light is low.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Winning Elections, Exercise, Clinton's babes, etc.

I just got through grading some exams; my differential equations class did quite well, on the whole. Of course, my first thought was "oh no, I made the exam too easy!"

I also had an interesting bike ride this morning. I went from my house to Edwards and back; roughly a 20 mile trip, which included 10 miles of neighborhood/urban riding. Out on the country roads, I made little headway when riding against the wind. Coming back though; for a moment, I had a glimpse of what things might be like for a competent cyclist. I felt wonderful!

Speaking of cycling, I remembered back to my weekend ride on the Rock Island trail. On the way out I was cheerful and waving to everyone. On the way back (against the wind) I was in pain; I tried to acknowledge people but mostly they got nods and/or grunts from me, especially when I got very tired. That reminded me of this exchange from one of my sports e-mail groups:

Mawk wrote (Mawk is an ironman triathlete who has a strong bike leg)

I'm not sure what the deal is with roadies v. tri setups...
On the local email-list and the website they try to promote
comradarie and such, but, for example, on Tuesday's ride, I was at the back of
the pack (peleton) when another biker passed heading in the opposite
direction riding on aerobars, he waved, and from my vantage point I
could see that none of the roadies waved back, save me.
I guess that's why I like dusting as many of them as I can on these
club rides. (Not to say that some of them don't dust me)

Dave (an accomplished ironman athlete) replied:

Mawk's observations seem very common in biker groups. Without exception,
bikers are the biggest group of pompous arrogant assholes I have ever met.

There is a group of national class riders around here who also happen to be
triathletes that have been known to wave at the packs of "pure riders". When
there is the cold shoulder, the group turns around and rides with the bikers
and just abuses them, yelling what douchbags people are thinking they are too
good to acknowledge others then pull away from them looking back saying they
suck. Its AWESOME...

I still chuckle when I think about that.

click to see larger versions

A note about the Lio cartoon: I've always joked about how strong rabbits are; they are, in fact, my favorite animal.
Every time I pass a golf course and see fat people waddling out of their carts I think of this Frazz cartoon.

Sara Goudarzi
LiveScience Staff Writer
LiveScience.comTue Sep 19, 4:00 PM ET

Lack of time is no longer an excuse for not working out, suggests a new but relatively small study.

Scientists split a group of 16 college-aged students into two groups, each one performing a different exercise schedule for two weeks.

Eight students cycled four to six times for 30-seconds separated by four minutes of recovery daily, while the other group cycled for 90 to 120 minutes each day. At the end of the two weeks, the first group had only exercised 2.5 hours total, and the second group had performed 10.5 hours of training. Yet both groups showed similar health improvements.

Participants of both groups had similar muscle glycogen contents. Glycogen is a sugar molecule that is readily converted to glucose to supply the body with energy during heavy work. Synthesis of glycogen is usually greater after exercise. The researchers also found that improvements in muscle parameters associated with fatigue resistance were similar in all subjects.

"The most striking finding from our study was the remarkably similar improvements in muscle health and performance induced by two such diverse training strategies," said Martin Gibala, an associate professor of kinesiology at McMaster University in Canada.

Exercising helps lower blood pressure, improves the cardiovascular system, and reduces the chance of illnesses such as cancer and diabetes. The busy lives of many people, however, prevent them from being active.

Such exercise could be a time-efficient training strategy, Gibala added. “This type of training is very demanding and requires a high level of motivation. However, short bursts of intense exercise may be an effective option for individuals who cite ‘lack of time’ as a major impediment to fitness."

The findings are detailed in the September issue of the Journal of Physiology.

Yet More Reasons why we Democrats Lose Elections.

We can't stand to have a winning political issue. Gas prices: yes, they have come down recently. So, it would be a good idea to accuse the Republicans of cynically manipulating gas prices so as to make big oil more profitable only to lower prices around election time, right?

Well, on the Kos, someone had to open their big mouth:

There is NO manipulation of gas prices. An explanation Hotlist

Sun Sep 17, 2006 at 12:39:31 PM PDT

The sharp drop in gas prices in recent weeks has given birth to many diaries or comments suggesting that this is a BigOil pre-electoral trick (too many to link to, in fact). I'd like, with the help of HiD, a former oil trader, to guide you through the explanations as to what is happening, which is perfectly understandable under normal market mechanisms under the current international context.

A first point to note is that gas prices rose in 2004 right up to the election, and dropped just afterwards (look at this graph, upside down if you don't believe it), so there was no manipulation of that kind in 2004.


The diary goes on to give a detailed explanation of what is going on and concludes:

Back to gasoline: it's not the oil market players that rule the gasoline market.

I hope that this shows clearly enough that there are very real market reasons for the current price drop. To simplify things further: speculators bet that there would be problems during the summer, and bought gasoline paper. That drove prices up during the summer. When it appeared that the problems did not materialise and there was excess gasoline (real or paper) in September, the speculators had to fold, and sell at a big loss.

But that's the point of speculation: you bet on uncertain events. This one was not an unreasonable bet in view of last years events, but it did not work out.

What this isn't is market manipulation by Bigoil.
&*^%$!! Democrats! We can't just let an issue be a political winner for us, can we?

Quit Thinking Like a Democrat!!!! Hotlist

Mon Sep 18, 2006 at 04:57:34 AM PDT

Yesterday, Jerome a Paris provided a well written, technical, market-based explanation for the rapid drop in gasoline prices over the past few weeks. It's an article of faith for many Kossaks that, when it comes to energy issues, Jerome is the go-to guy.

Without passing judgement on the merits of his explanation, I have the following message for all residents of the reality-based community:

Quit thinking like a Democrat!!!

Before we start trying to intelligently explain complicated issues, we've got to learn to talk to the reptile. You can't play nice or sensible, and the average 'murkin don't want facts and figures and fancypants graphs. They want a message. On gas prices, here's one:


That's the message we need to send. Plain and simple, simple or even (gasp!) lacking in truthiness though it may be. Fuck. When are we ever gonna learn? Again, you can't talk sense and sensibility and facts and figures.


Jesus. Get a clue. It's not conspiracy. It's talking to the reptile. It's called reinforcing preconceived notions. You don't think the gas price issue hasn't been a topic of conversation around every dinner table in America over the past week or two? And you know who they're blaming? The GOP!!! So here's another message:


There. Now, was that so friggin' hard? Jeez.

Of course, there are other reasons we lose and some suggestions on how to change for the better:

"Twelve Traps to Avoid" By George Lakoff and the Rockridge Institute Hotlist

Mon Sep 18, 2006 at 08:23:39 AM PDT

For progressives to succeed in taking back this country, we need to stay true to our values and communicate them effectively. To accomplish this mission, we need to be aware of the traps that have often tripped up progressives in the past.

In this preview of the new book, Thinking Points: Communicating Our American Values and Vision, A Progressive's Handbook by George Lakoff and the Rockridge Institute, we present twelve traps to avoid as we make our case to restore an America that is true to its best principles.

Twelve Traps to Avoid
Visit the diary to see the list of tweleve traps; here is one of them:

8. The "Misunderestimating" Trap

Too many progressives think that people who vote conservative are just stupid, especially those who vote against their economic self-interest. Progressives believe that we only have to tell them the real economic facts, and they will change the way they vote. The reality is that those who vote conservative have their reasons, and we had better understand them. Conservative populism is cultural--not economic--in nature. Conservative populists see themselves as oppressed by elitist liberals who look down their noses at them, when they are just ordinary, moral, right-thinking folks. They see liberals as trying to impose an immoral "political correctness" on them, and they are angry about it.

Progressives also paint conservative leaders as incompetent and not very smart, based on a misunderstanding of the conservative agenda. This results from looking at conservative goals through progressive values. Looking at conservative goals through conservative values yields insight and shows just how effective conservatives really are.

I know that I've been guilty of this.

And speaking of guilty: the DLC has gotten their tax-exempt status revoked. They tried to claim that they were non-partisan, because MORE REPUBLICANS THAN DEMOCRATS backed their ideas! Gee, we've been saying that all along!

For those who might be confused, here is a brief outline: the DLC is a place for the centrist Democrats; one of the more famous of these is Hillary Clinton and another is Joe Lieberman. Many progressives consider the DLC to be "Republican Lite". A good primer for progressive thought on the DLC can be found here:

Another Atheism Article

Here is part of what this article says:

Here's Martin Lewis on Islam: "When was the last time agnostics or atheists got offended and went on the rampage when someone trashed - or even questioned - their beliefs?"

You could've said the same thing about blacks after the Los Angeles riots, couldn't you? "When was the last time white people got offended and went on the rampage when someone got let off for a crime against them?"

I'm not defending rioters. I'm simply pointing out some inherent biases in the comment. Ultra-Orthodox Jews have rioted in Israel, and one of them killed the peacemaking Prime Minister. Christians have rioted, too. People tend to riot because they feel powerless, not because they're inherently evil. (Killing's another matter - it's always indefensible.)

And less than one Muslim in 43,000 has ever participated in a riot. (I did the math in a previous post.) Far more Americans have been child molesters, percentage-wise, yet it would be bigotry to say we live in a nation of pederasts.

I don't know if Martin's an atheist or not, but this is a trick of anti-religionists who ride a wave of fear - to make insinuations that only Muslims have engaged in this sort of behavior. It smacks of piling on to a hate-fest against a persecuted minority in the west.

A study released today showed a 30% increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the U.S. between 2004 and 2005. The innocent victims of these crimes are being persecuted because of misunderstanding, fear, and hate. Is this really the kind of climate progressive atheists want to help engender?

This piece is particularly disappointing to me, given Martin's moving reflection on 9/11 and Cat Stevens. I'm a longtime admirer of Martin's work, and therefore that much sorrier to see him engage in this kind of rhetoric.

Martin, I hope you'll reconsider. (Sam won't; he's got a new book to sell.) Check out this video of hardliner Communists rioting in Russia in 1993. (Note: the video's accompanied by loud Russian punk music.) They're angry because the new government is dismantling their treasured system. Every single one of these rioters is an avowed atheist.

"But," some will say, "they're not rioting because they're atheists. They're rioting because they have other grievances, or because that's what people do over there when they're unhappy -- or maybe just because they're difficult people."

Right. Same with Muslims. Despite what the haters say, belief in forced conversions and the like is not intrinsic to Islam. Neither is terrorism or rioting. Those behaviors are based on other beliefs, issues, and motivations. Just as with Christians, or Jews, or other groups.

Harris' variation on this theme is to describe somebody about to blow up a roomful of innocent people, then asking you to guess their probable religion. "Muslim" is the expected answer - one that's accurate today. Thirty years ago, however, the answer would have been "atheist," because most terrorists were Communist members of the Red Army Faction and the Baader Meinhof gang.

Sixty-plus years ago the answer might have been "Jewish," during the days of the Stern Gang in Palestine. Even today, the answer could also be "Christian," since Christians have blown up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City and abortion clinics. (Some say the anthrax terror hunt came too close to the extreme right and that's why the Administration dropped it - although, to be fair to them, they couldn't catch Bin Laden either.)

One note: McVeigh admitted in an interview that he was really more agnostic than anything. That is one of the few times I've learned anything truthful of value at

A Bit of Fun with Bill Clinton
See the following photo:

Where is the controversy? Click the photo to see a larger version. Notice that the woman in front of President Clinton HAS BREASTS and is wearing a snug top!

Kind of reminds me of Katherine Harris, actually, but never mind.

Anyway, Bill Dennis (aka Peoria Pundit) has an nice reply to this so-called controversy here: