Tuesday, October 31, 2006

John Kerry: hits back hard!

Ok, I admit this: John Kerry said something that was truthful, but is very easy to spin as something negative:



Ok. Kerry didn't say that everyone who is serving in Iraq is an idiot, but rather he implies that many who are in Iraq "got stuck there"; that is they had no other place to go.

Remember that Kerry is a combat veteran, unlike many in this Republican administration.

But this wasn't a poltically wise comment to make; the morons will see it as a put down of the troops, and the more savy right wingers will see that there are political points to be made here.

"Senator Kerry not only owes an apology to those who are serving, but also to the families of those who've given their lives in this," White House press secretary Tony Snow said. "This is an absolute insult."


(and yes, had it been a Republican making his comment, the Democrats would have put out the hit squads)

But this is not the John Kerry of 2004: he hit back, HARD.

http://www.johnkerry.com/news/releases/release.html?id=33

Statement of John Kerry Responding to Republican Distortions, Pathetic Tony Snow Diversions and Distractions

Washington – Senator John Kerry issued the following statement in response to White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, assorted right wing nut-jobs, and right wing talk show hosts desperately distorting Kerry’s comments about President Bush to divert attention from their disastrous record:

“If anyone thinks a veteran would criticize the more than 140,000 heroes serving in Iraq and not the president who got us stuck there, they're crazy. This is the classic G.O.P. playbook. I’m sick and tired of these despicable Republican attacks that always seem to come from those who never can be found to serve in war, but love to attack those who did.

I’m not going to be lectured by a stuffed suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq. It disgusts me that these Republican hacks, who have never worn the uniform of our country lie and distort so blatantly and carelessly about those who have.

The people who owe our troops an apology are George W. Bush and Dick Cheney who misled America into war and have given us a Katrina foreign policy that has betrayed our ideals, killed and maimed our soldiers, and widened the terrorist threat instead of defeating it. These Republicans are afraid to debate veterans who live and breathe the concerns of our troops, not the empty slogans of an Administration that sent our brave troops to war without body armor.

Bottom line, these Republicans want to debate straw men because they’re afraid to debate real men. And this time it won’t work because we’re going to stay in their face with the truth and deny them even a sliver of light for their distortions. No Democrat will be bullied by an administration that has a cut and run policy in Afghanistan and a stand still and lose strategy in Iraq.”


Woo Hoo!!!!!! Where in the hell was this in 2004???????

Cell Phones in class and other topics

I've always wanted to do this:


But in all honesty, the only time I've had a problem is when I was substituting for someone else.

Teaching college has its ups and downs. One of the downs now-a-days is the parents. Yes, they foot the bills. But many are clueless.

Witness the following exchange of e-mail messages. A student who was doing reasonably well in my second semester calculus class wanted to drop: she mentioned that she was taking a heavy course load (18 hours). She was doing reasonably well in the class and had only 5 weeks to go:

Hi,
I am considering dropping Calculus II for this semester. I already have 18 credit hours and I am struggling to get everything done. I was hoping that I would be able to talk to you either after class or during your office hours on Wednesday. Can you let me know when would be best to talk to you and how to go about dropping a class?

Thanks!

XXX XXXX

I resonded:
MX. XXXX, I wouldn't drop if I were you.

There are going to be semesters when it is a struggle to get done, and this class isn't going to be any easier the second time around.

You've got only 5 weeks left. But it is up to you.

You don't need my input to drop the class; you can ask your department secretary if you don't know how.

But in your case, I think that dropping would be a mistake.

You can talk to me after class tomorrow if you'd like.

Regards
She e-mailed my response to her dad, who e-mailed her back. Evidently, he didn't know that he had e-mailed me as well:

XXXX,
Typical response from a prof. He sees no problem because ALL he sees is a B+ student. From the teacher's point of view, why would this student drop? You mentioned the 18 hrs, but he doesn't understand the whole picture. He's not feeling the pressure of 18 hrs, trying to do an additional minor, 1st semester adapting to college, the stress we perceive at home, and the individuality of you not being happy with this grade in a class you kind of consider your 'specialty.' As for "isn't going to get any easier," it has to get easier because you will be seeing the material a 2nd time. Kate, mainly for the stress it will reduce, along with the extra time it will give you to spend elsewhere, I say do it. And don't feel guilty over it . . . and if you already are, then quit feeling guilty about feeling guilty . . .
Time to get some peace back in your life for the last 5 weeks. As he said, you don't need any input to drop. Do it and breathe a sigh of relief.
Love,
Dad
What an enabling jerk! Hmmm, let's see, I went to Annapolis and took loads in excess of 20 hours there, in addition to having to do all of the military duties and put up with boot camp type stuff. I passed Navy Nuclear Power school, served as a submarine officer, then went and got a Ph. D., but I don't understand stress and academic disappointment?

Ever hear of MENTAL TOUGHNESS, or TOUGHING IT OUT???? Guess not.

Dueling Ads:

Previously, I commented on an attack ad aimed at Harold Ford, who is running for the U. S. Senate seat in Tennessee:




Where part of the ad is fair (e. g., it is ok to talk about different positions on gun control, estate taxes and the like) there is part of it that is racist; that is, note that there is a white woman who is talking about a sexual encounter with him. Northerners might s
hrug and say "so what", but these things are not-too-subtle signals to southerners.

A nice discussion of this ad can be found here:

http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2006/10/post_55.html

Ad echoes GOP's 'Southern strategy'

By DeWayne Wickham

Last year, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman apologized for the race-baiting tactics that members of his party used for decades to court white voters in Southern states.

Last week, he started backsliding.

(“Call me”: An ad against Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn / Republican National Committee)

"I just think those criticisms of it are wrong," Mehlman said of a television ad that was produced with money from his treasury and aired in Tennessee. In the 30-second spot, a scantily clad white woman appears to suggest that she and Harold Ford Jr., a black Democrat, have had an intimate relationship.

"I met Harold at the Playboy party," the woman coos into the camera. That's a reference to Ford's admission that he attended a party that Playboy hosted during the 2005 Super Bowl. As the commercial closes, the woman says with a salacious wink, "Harold, call me."

The commercial plays to the fears of whites who think interracial relationships are taboo. It also conjures up memories of the awful fate that befell the Scottsboro Boys, Matt Ingram and Emmett Till — blacks who were victimized for simply being accused of getting too close to white women.

Ford, a five-term U.S. House member, is in a tight race with Republican Bob Corker for the Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of Majority Leader Bill Frist. The suggestion that Ford partied with a white woman at a Playboy soiree could make racial bias a big factor in this election.

Of course, Ford has a small statistically insignificant lead in this election (as of today). But remember the so-called "black tax": African American politicians tend to poll 3-5 points higher than the support that they acutally get. Unfortunately I can't find a reference from a controlled study; I'll have to keep searching.

Now, for a tounge-in-cheek spoof on the Corker ad:


Monday, October 30, 2006

Local Elections, the Iraq war and Dick Cheney, "winning"

Local Election: Schock vs. Spears

I honestly don't have a clue as to is winning the Schock vs. Spears election in the Illinois 92'nd State House race. I do know that the Journal Star says that the Illinois Democratic Party has seen the polls and is "pulling up stakes" so to speak, and that a local pro-Spears blogger thinks that the Journal Star might be reading too much into things:

Molly Parker of the Journal Star did get around to reporting on the Carla Grube/Freedom House controversy in the Aaron Schock campaign. That story is at the bottom of today’s Word on the Street column I’ve written about it after having read about it at Willy Nilly’s site. I don’t believe for one second that they found out about this from the Bureau County Republican.

I have several thoughts:

The article ran below a segment discussing the departure of Eric Lane, who is described as Bill Spears campaign manager and whose salary is paid by the Illinois Democratic Party. Spears says Lane was never his campaign manager and I’m fairly certain from earlier conversations that the party organization wasn’t paying his salary. If so, his movement from one campaign to another says nothing about how the party feels about Spears’ chances of defeating Schock.


This isn't the main point of the argument; the author of the above piece is complaining that the more important story is listed second and that this was done because Schock is the darling of the Peoria Journal Star.

But this does say that some feel that Schock is in command of this race. I honestly don't know. I do know that Schock's campaign has been very organized for a very long time and very well funded.

And, Schock appears to be appealing to groups that Republicans don't normally appeal to.

Anyway, I am still going to get a walk list and hoof it a bit this coming weekend and or on election morning.

Can Iraq really be won?

Here is a nice article by Paul Schroder from the American Conservative which argues:

It is idle to discuss the administration’s refusal to recognize failure in Iraq and its insistence on the goal of victory as if this represented a serious military strategy or foreign-policy plan. “Victory” is not really defined and cannot be. Virtually all the concrete goals of the original Bright Promise of Victory in Iraq propaganda have already been tacitly abandoned and are no longer mentioned. The “success” talked about is not merely indefinable and unattainable but incoherent as a concept. The ends sought are self-contradictory and incompatible with the means used to attain them. All this could be demonstrated at length, accomplishing nothing but to further the administration’s purposes of distraction and obfuscation. For the denial of failure and insistence on pursuing victory, insofar as it is a product of something more than pure fantasy, is not designed for military and foreign-policy purposes but for domestic politics, especially the 2006 elections. There the strategy could succeed by limiting the Republican losses just enough to keep control of both houses, avoid the congressional investigations the administration dreads, and delay the final collapse in Iraq until after 2008, when the presumably victorious Democrats could be blamed for it.

The possibility of such a success rests on more than Rovian electoral wizardry. It exploits roots deep in the American heritage and character—the special difficulty many Americans have in coming to terms with limits in international politics, the feeling that admitting failure and wrong choices especially in wartime is un-American. Add to this the portrait the administration and a largely compliant press paint of what failure in Iraq would bring—civil war, chaos and radical Islam dominating the region, terrorism triumphant, Iran emboldened, Israel threatened, the oil supply imperiled or cut off, America humiliated, isolated, and impotent, and (the most dishonest but politically effective claim of all) the brave Americans killed or wounded in the fight for Iraqi freedom and American security betrayed. Against this lurid background Bush & Co. challenge the Democrats: if you are serious, show us your plan for meeting these dangers, solving these problems, and avoiding these disasters while getting us out of Iraq.

It is easy to show how absurd in logic and fact this demand is. It is like insisting that a man who shows you that your $100 bill is counterfeit owes you a real one, or—to use Molly Ivins’s illustration—to argue that those who warned against hitting a hornet’s nest with a stick must now, after the administration has done so and caused the hornets to swarm and attack everywhere, either propose a concrete plan for getting the hornets back into the nest or else join in efforts to kill them with the stick. Worst of all, the demand calls on others to solve the problem the Bush administration created while rejecting the fundamental condition for any solution, a recognition that wrong policy and failed leadership created the problem and that both must first be changed.

In short: not every foreign policy problem has a military solution. Read the rest of the article; it is outstanding.

Finally, Dick Cheney is getting desperate. He claims that the increasing level of violence in Iraq is due to the upcoming U. S. elections:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/10/30/164535/00

Outrage: Cheney says Iraq violence linked to US Elections Hotlist

Mon Oct 30, 2006 at 01:45:35 PM PST

Just when I think that the Republican Party couldn't sink any lower, Dick Cheney came out and said that the rising levels of violence in Iraq are linked to the United States elections...

more below the fold

http://news.yahoo.com/...


Vice President Dick Cheney said on Monday insurgents had stepped up attacks in Iraq to try to sway next week's U.S. elections and they were constantly surfing the Web to keep tabs on American public opinion.

"Whether it's al Qaeda or the other elements that are active in Iraq, they are betting on the proposition they can break the will of the American people," Cheney told Fox News. ."..They're very sensitive to the fact that we've got an election scheduled."

Cheney, a driving force in the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, spoke eight days before congressional elections with polls showing Bush's Republican party at risk of losing control of Congress to the Democrats.

Voter disaffection over Iraq, where the U.S. military death toll for October has reached 100, is seen as a critical factor that could hurt Republican chances in the November 7 ballot.

Cheney said America's enemies in Iraq possessed the Internet savvy to monitor U.S. developments, helping them to time attacks aimed in part at influencing the elections. But he cited no evidence to back the theory.

Get it: this is a not-so-subtle message of "the insurgents back the Democrats, therefore you should vote Republican".

Completely shameless!

I suppose that if the Republicans somehow remained in control of both chambers that the violence would then die down? How believable is that?



Sunday, October 29, 2006

Light Day

Last night I watched the Texas-Texas Tech track meet, er football game. Texas came from 21-0 down to win 35-31 in Lubbock. Texas had cut the lead to 31-21 at half time and then pitched a shutout in the second half.

The Texas quarterback is a much better runner than I had realized, and the Texas defense made good adjustments at halftime. Still the Red Raiders finished with over 500 yards (all by passing), but failed to capatalize on several Texas fumbles.



From the Peoria Journal Star: on the LaHood-Waterworth race. Waterworth has raised about $5,000, LaHood: over $1,000,000.



I am going to have to try this at home?



Sad commentary. By the way, our electronic voting machines leaves a paper trail that the voter themselves can check.

Central Illinois in the political news: Republican political sophisticates in Chilicothe, Illinois? (a small town north of Peoria) Peggy Noonan thinks so:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/10/27/164354/68

Peggy Noonan predicts (and hopes for) GOP loss Hotlist

Fri Oct 27, 2006 at 01:43:54 PM PDT

Peggy Noonan is one of the most influential and well-read conservative writers around. She wrote the "evil empire" speech for Ronald Reagan. Conservatives just flock to her. But why is she not on T.V. touting conservatives this cycle? Answer: She wants the GOP to lose.

Why? Bush is too arrogant and doesn't listen, she reasons. I saw the beginnings of her rupture with Bush when he gave the "burning fires" of democracy 2004 inaugural speech. Too much God, Noonan reasoned. Now her new Wall Street Journal Article dumps big-time on Bush.

Here is Noonan's article

Check out these quotes:

This is two weeks ago, from a Bush appointee: "I hope they lose the House." And one week ago, from a veteran of two GOP White Houses: "I hope they lose Congress." Republicans this year don't say "we" so much.

What is behind this? A lot of things, but here's a central one: They want to fire Congress because they can't fire President Bush.

And this:

Republican political veterans go easy on ideology, but they're tough on incompetence. They see Mr. Bush through the eyes of experience and maturity. They hate a lack of care. They see Mr. Bush as careless, and on more than Iraq--careless with old alliances, disrespectful of the opinion of mankind. "He never listens," an elected official who is a Bush supporter said with a shrug some months ago. Along the way the president's men and women confused the necessary and legitimate disciplining of a coalition with weird and excessive attempts to silence Republican critics. They have lived in a closed system. They now want to open it but don't know how. Listening is a habit; theirs has long been to suppress.

More:

The administration tries to get around this, to quiet the unease, with things like the Republican National Committee ad in which Islamic terrorists plot to kill America.

They do want to kill America, and all the grownups know it. But this is a nation of sophisticates, and every Republican sipping a Bud at a bar in Chilicothe, Ill., who looks up and sees that ad thinks: They're trying to scare the base to increase turnout. Turnout's the key.

Here's a thing about American politics. Nobody sees himself as the base. They see themselves as individuals. And they're not dumb. They get it all. They know when you're trying to manipulate. They'll even tell you, with a lovely detachment, if you're doing a good job. (An unreported story this year is the lack of imagination, seriousness and respect in the work of political consultants on both sides. They have got to catch up with American brightness.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Notre Dame 24-14 at the half


Interesting game. I had predicted a Notre Dame win (28-13) but it is already 24-14 at the half.

Why? Well, Navy missed a field goal, and Navy can't cover the taller Notre Dame receivers. On the other hand, Notre Dame can't yet deal with Navy's misdirection option; Navy has over 200 yards rushing in the first half and only punted once: with 30 seconds left in the half.

The Navy backup quarterback is playing very well.

On another note, Illinois leads Wisconsin 24-10 at the half. My guess is that Illinois won't hold on, but it is becoming clear that Illinois is no longer a complete joke of a team; gone are the 63-0 type losses. Illinois is not a good team, but they are no longer among the worst in the nation either.

Update: Notre Dame won going away 38-14. Navy didn't quit though; they had one good goal line stand. But Notre Dame was too much. And I give coach Weis credit for putting in substitutes and running out the clock toward the end of the game.

Still, I see Navy going 9-3 (or 8-4 at worst) and going to a bowl.

5K race: first in months.


Ok, I went ahead and raced the Tippett "5K" (actual distance was about 3 miles).

http://www.usatf.org/routes/view.asp?rID=84190

My time: 22:56 (an "honest" 3 mile time); the splits were about 7:35, 7:20 (short?) , 8:00 (long). Realistically, 7:35, 7:35, 7:45 were about right. I'd say that this would be the equivalent of a 23:40-23:50 5K.

I don't know my overall place, but I took first in the "old, fat and slow" division (aka: "faculty division").

Given that I've run so little recently (no running since early August until two weeks ago; I've had three 1 mile runs and three 2 milers), this is ok. The Thursday workout of 10 minutes easy, 40 minutes hard, 10 minutes easy on the indoor bike has helped.

Tracy, my running buddy, won the female faculty division with a time of 32:36.

They day was cool, dry and breezy; it was about 40 F at the start. I strarted back and tried to keep things under control as I am not in running shape.

I followed a group and moved up steadily as we went through the neighborhoods. I hit mile 1 in 7:35 and still felt ok.

For a while I followed this woman who wore very highly cropped grey spandex shorts; there was just a tiny bit of butt cheek peeking right below the shorts. Unfortunately she wasn't faster and I moved past her.

I kept going after the people in front of me and mile 2 came 7:20 later; I wonder how accurate that split was.

I more or less just tried to hold on; I had a bit more strength than I thought.

Toward the end a young woman passed me (we were in the circle near Bradley Hall) and she came to an abrupt stop a few meters from the finish line. I made a move but she started up again and held me off; she then puked! Her dad had run a bit with her and then sped up the last mile and had passed me a few minutes earlier.

I cooled down, went back for Tracy and then ran her in.

She seemed to have a bit of a kick as well.

Yes, I "won" an award; this was my first one in a long time. The question is whether or not I can improve on this in another 5-6 weeks.

And yes, I've fun half marathons at a faster pace than this in the past. But given how little I've run lately, I am ok with it.

This and That: first 5K in a while

In a bit less than an hour, I am going to sign up and attempt to run my first 5K in a long, long time. This is going to be ugly; I'll be fortunate to break 25 minutes.

But one has to start somewhere. Later in the day, I'll get a few miles on the indoor bike (maybe an hour?) and then do some partner yoga with Ms. Vickie.

Also, the Navy-Notre Dame football game will be played. Navy doesn't have its starting quarterback and that hurts our (already slim) chances of breaking that losing streak which has lasted since 1963.

What is on my mind:

Athlete runs a 3:04 marathon, with a prosthesis!
A 3:04 marathon is an excellent athletic achievement for anyone; that means running 26.2 miles at about 7:00 minutes per mile (or about 21:45 for each 5K). This sort of time would be a typical women's winning time at a small marathon.

But this lady ran this time while wearing a prosthesis!

Understand that there are many club runners who are considered "fast" who have never ran this sort of time, even with two good legs.

For the record, my lifetime best is 3:33, and my best master's marathon is 3:38, which got me 9X'th place out of 4XX runners.

http://www.emediawire.com/releases/2006/10/emw454439.htm

On a chilly windy day at the Chicago Marathon on Sunday October 22, Amy Palmerio-Winters, of Meadville, PA shattered another marathon record for female amputee runners. Running on two broken toes not completely healed on her non-amputated leg, and spending Thursday and Friday in the hospital due to anaphylactic shock, Ms. Palmerio-Winters finished the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon in a time of 3 hours 4 minutes and 16 seconds placing 34th in her age group and 148th in the entire field of able-bodied female marathoners.

Hicksville, NY (PRWEB) October 24, 2006 -- On a chilly windy day at the Chicago Marathon on Sunday October 22, Amy Palmerio-Winters, of Meadville, PA shattered another marathon record for female amputee runners. Running on two broken toes not completely healed on her non amputated leg, and spending Thursday and Friday in the hospital due to anaphylactic shock, Ms. Palmerio-Winters finished the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon in a time of 3 hours 4 minutes and 16 seconds placing 34th in her age group and 148th in the entire field of able-bodied female marathoners.

Palmerio-Winters previous best marathon time with her new running prosthesis was 3:26 at the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon this past May. Prior to that, the best marathon time for a female amputee was 3:52. What is noteworthy is that the time of 3:04 broke her best marathon time of 3:16 at the Boston Marathon which she achieved prior to her limb loss from a motorcycle accident.

Palmerio-Winters, a 34-year-old welder and mother of two, lost her left leg below the knee following a 1994 motorcycle accident. Three years and twenty-five surgeries later, her left leg was amputated below the knee. Following the amputation, it took three years before Palmerio-Winters could even try to run again.

"I was told in 1994 I wouldn't run again," Palmerio-Winters said. "That lit a spark in me; I got a second chance in life with this special prosthesis.”

After receiving her customized running prosthesis in February of this year from Erik Schaffer C.P., President of A Step Ahead Prosthetics & Orthotics in Long Island, NY, Palmerio-Winters was provided extensive professional coaching and training as a member of Team A Step Ahead. This multidisciplinary approach to her training regimen involves a team of prosthetists, physical therapists, Phil Kreuter and Dave Balsley, who have expertise in training elite athletes with disabilities and support from many accomplished amputee athletes who also are Team A Step Ahead members.

Having qualified for the 2007 Boston Marathon where she set her pre-amputation best time, Ms. Palmerio-Winters plans on breaking the 3 hour mark in the Marathon and hopes to achieve the fastest time for all amputees, male and female.

"I eventually plan to also do the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii," said Palmerio-Winters, who lists being the first female amputee to run a 100-mile ultra marathon as another future goal. Palmerio-Winters is also an accomplished triathelte, where she is highly competitive against able-bodied triathletes. She has won the last two Olympic distance triathlon world championships.
Politics
Obviously this is political ad season, and both the Democrats and the Republicans are going at it. A good way to check out what is going on is to visit Factcheck.org from time to time.

This year, the following appears to be happening:

Democratic ads: they basically go after Republicans on their records and on their association with President Bush.

How they mislead: they do the old: "candidate X voted N times against body armor for our troops". Where this claim is facutally true, it is often misleading; what usually happened is that candidate X indeed voted N times against bills that funded body armor, but these were votes against a Democratic sponsored bill. They also voted N times in favor of a Republican sponsored bill which provided funds for body armor.

Example: http://www.factcheck.org/article438.html

Yes, both sides have done this in a past; witness the old "Kerry voted to raise taxes umpteen times" ads in the 2004 elections.

Some of the attacks are fair, like this one:
http://blueollie.blogspot.com/2006/10/bush-now-who-is-flip-flopper.html

Republican ads: these ads often leave off the fact that the candidate that is running is, in fact, a republican. They often tout the fact that their candidate is an "independent person who will..." and so on.

Their attack ads often go after the candidates character, often in grossly misleading ways:

http://www.factcheck.org/article460.html

Summary

Both political parties are functioning in the 2006 House races as factories for attack ads, but the National Republican Campaign Committee's work stands out this year for the sheer volume of assaults on the personal character of Democratic House challengers.

The ads being aired by both the NRCC and its rival, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, are overwhelmingly negative. However, the DCCC ads generally attack Republican candidates on policy issues or their performance in office – accusing them of casting votes favorable to drug or oil companies, or of supporting President Bush's unpopular policies in Iraq or on Social Security. We've recently criticized factual inaccuracies we've seen in some of those, and we'll have more to say in a later article. Here we focus on the NRCC's ads, which are much more likely to demean an opponent's character. That's the very definition of political mudslinging.

The Republican ads variously accuse Democratic candidates of such things as charging an "adult fantasy" phone call to taxpayers, of being a "hypocrite," of being a "greedy trial lawyer," of being a "millionaire know-it-all," or of failing to pay local business taxes on time. One ad describes a Democrat's "ethical judgments" as "bad to bizarre" and claims he favored use of 50,000-volt Taser weapons on seven-year-olds.

A derogatory ad can be accurate, and when supported by facts can give voters information about a candidate that they may well find relevant. For example, one NRCC ad correctly states that a Democratic candidate wrote a letter asking a judge to go easy when sentencing a felon convicted of bank fraud in a scandal that bilked hundreds of homeowners. However, several of the NRCC's ads are smears that twist facts or ignore them. A sheriff running for the House is accused of having "fixed" a speeding ticket for his daughter, for example, when in fact the ticket was paid and the daughter got no special treatment. We found repeated examples of this sort of thing, and we detail them here.

I've listed a couple of these on my blog, including the horrible attack ad aimed at Harold Ford in the Tennessee Senate race, as well as Ford's response. here is factcheck.org's take on them:

New York Democrat Michael Acuri has learned that in spades. One of the NRCC's spots attacking him accuses him of billing taxpayers for a call to a "fantasy hotline." In fact, the evidence shows someone using the phone in Arcuri's hotel room misdialed and hung up in seconds, and the total charge to taxpayers was $1.25.

The ad is laden with sexual innuendo. A woman's voice says "Hi sexy, you've reached the live one on one fantasy line." Arcuri is pictured appearing to leer as the silhouette of a woman undulates suggestively in the background.

"The phone number to an adult fantasy hotline appeared on Michael Arcuri's New York City hotel room bill while he was there on official business," the announcer says. "Who calls a fantasy hotline and then bills taxpayers? Michael Arcuri."

The facts of this case paint a much different picture. The phone records indeed show a call to the number of an adult fantasy talk service at 3:26 p.m. on Jan. 28, 2004, but the very next minute – 3:27 p.m. – the records show another number was dialed. The second number was identical except for the three-digit area code, and was the number of the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services. It was Sean Byrne, executive director of the New York Prosecutors Training Institute, who made both calls, according to Arcuri and Byrne. Both were attending a meeting of the New York State District Attorneys Association. The hotel's charge for the misdialed "fantasy" line call was $1.25.

Unindicted rapist

Another NRCC-produced ad hammers Arcuri with a claim that an accused rapist was freed after Arcuri's office "failed to indict him in time." Why? According to the local newspaper, the scheduled indictment hearing couldn't go forward because the 13-year-old victim didn't appear and a key witness had been admitted to a psychiatric facility. The ad doesn't mention that the accused man was indicted several days later. His freedom lasted eight days. Eventually he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge (Arcuri's case was weakened because the young victim was reluctant to cooperate) and was sentenced to 18 months to 3 years behind bars. The same ad says the "percentage of felony convictions" in Oneida County, where Arcuri is district attorney, "has fallen dramatically since 1998." That's false, according to our calculations from statistics available from New York State's Division of Criminal Justice Services. In 1998, 88.1 percent of felonies prosecuted in the county resulted in convictions. In 2005, it was 90.3. That's an increase of 2.2 percentage points, not a decrease, much less a dramatic one.

Name-calling

The NRCC ads show a tendency to turn policy differences into name-calling attacks on personal character. An NRCC ad in Arizona called Democratic candidate Gabrielle Giffords “a hypocrite on taxes.” The ad misrepresents her actual position on federal taxes, however. It says she falsely claims to favor tax cuts, when in fact she supports repealing some of the tax cuts Republicans gave to corporations and wealthy individuals. She does favor extending “middle class” tax breaks such as a deduction for college tuition.

In Iowa, another name-calling ad characterizes Democratic candidate Bruce Braley as a "greedy trial lawyer ." The ad complains that he "supported the suit for a woman spilling hot coffee on her lap." But the famous lawsuit against McDonald's was actually more substantial than late-night comics made it out to be. Stella Leibeck, the 79-year-old plaintiff, suffered third-degree burns over 6 per cent of her body, spent eight days in the hospital and required skin grafts, and McDonald's served its coffee at a scalding 180 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit, much hotter than coffee served at home.

Still more name-calling NRCC ads refer to Wisconsin Democrat Steve Kagen as "Dr. Millionaire," and one even calls him "Dr. Millionaire Know-It-All ." Kagen is certainly a prosperous physician. But if being a millionaire disqualifies somebody from serving in the House of Representatives a slew of members will have to resign – 136, to be precise, or almost one-third, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Eighty-seven of them are Republicans, versus 49 Democrats. The "know-it-all" line refers to Kagen's desire to scrap President Bush's Medicare prescription drug benefit for one of his own design.




Friday, October 27, 2006

Julie Larson visits Peoria (Dinette Set Creator)

Last night, I went to hear Julie Larson talk. She is the creator of the cartoon The Dinette Set, which is one of my favorite strips.


Click to see a larger image; go to the Dinette Set Link to see many more samples.



http://www.pjstar.com/stories/102706/TRI_BBBUL6EA.050.shtml

By CLARE JELLICK

OF THE JOURNAL STAR
PEORIA -

Larson paid a visit to her local fans (about 150) Thursday at the Downtown Peoria Public Library. Her comic strip, which satirizes the life of middle-class Midwesterners, runs in about 70 newspapers, including the Journal Star. The Lincoln native has been poking fun at this segment of society for more than 15 years.

"My characters are the center of the universe. They don't pay attention to the actual world around them, only the small world they live in," Larson said before the event.

[...]

Larson finds her inspiration by observing behavior at restaurants and stores, but the mother lode of comic fodder is always Wal-Mart.

"Wal-Mart is just filled with a lot of uniqueness," she said.

She recounted a real-life conversation she overheard there that she incorporated into a comic. In the comic, Burl and Joy interrupt an employee who's getting something off a shelf because they want a price check on an item.

"(The employee) goes 'Well, I just have to get this one thing' and Burl says, 'Well, we've only got one thing.' That's a verbatim conversation. They expect so much," Larson said.

The comic strip was inspired by her introduction to suburban life when she and her family moved from inner-city Chicago to the suburbs in 1989. Larson was "bowled over" by the dull, repetitive, stagnant lifestyle that existed there and was intrigued by people's contentment in belonging to the masses.

"You live in a suburb and you feel as though you're anonymous," Larson said.

Regular reader Jim Grebe says Larson's portrayal of society "hits the nail on the head."

"I see a lot of myself and other people in it. It's just laughing at yourself and society. She's got great insight and expresses it well," he said.

Larson said she's trying to convince studio executives to turn the comic strip into a TV show.[...]
The next entry has nothing to do with the Dinette Set. It is a photo from a female Sumo match.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Olivia with her Bass Violin

They say that musical talent skips generations; hence it is Olivia's turn. This was at her concert last evening.



Keep in mind it is an elementary school/junior high school band!
But hey, she is my daughter and so I love it!

Thanks to my sister who sent this to me; by the way she made the junior Austin City Orchestra when she was young; she played the cello.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bush: Now WHO is a flip-flopper?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Response to Republicans!

In my previous post, I showed a nasty Coker attack ad aimed at the Democratic challenger Ford.

Ford responds:



Awesome!

Ok, just who supports the troops? Well, a non-partisan veterans group, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, rated the Senators on how they voted on their issues.

Click to make this a bit more readable. Bottom line: Democrats at the top, Republicans at the bottom. Surprised?

How about this ad by Michael J. Fox for the Missouri Senate race?


Of course the vile Rush Limbaugh suggested that he went off of his medication to do this ad, or was acting.

Slimeballs.

Here is James Webb's brilliant ad for his race with George "Macaca" Allen.




Now Bob Geiger has some good stuff on his blog; here he reports on how one Democratic candidate isn't going to let himself be swiftboated:

Joe Sestak is a highly-decorated, former 3-Star Admiral, running for Congress in Pennsylvania's 7th Congressional district. Republican Curt Weldon's pathetic campaign against Democrat Sestak has gone into the usual bag of GOP Swiftboating tricks and here's a television ad that typifies Sestak's response.








So, what is going to happen? Who knows; the Democrats seem to be ahead in the key polls, but one wingnut site correctly points out that there are better indicators than the polls: the amount of money that is on hand, and there, things look good for the Republicans. They site a Baron's magazine study:

Barron's: GOP Holds on to Congress

According to Barron's, the GOP is expected to hold onto both houses of Congress come November 7. From the Drudge Report:

JUBILANT DEMOCRATS SHOULD RECONSIDER their order for confetti and noisemakers, BARRON's claims in their next edition. The Democrats, as widely reported, are expecting GOP-weary voters to flock to the polls in two weeks and hand them control of the House for the first time in 12 years -- and perhaps the Senate, as well. Even some Republicans privately confess that they are anticipating the election-day equivalent of Little Big Horn. Pardon our hubris, but we just don't see it.


Our analysis -- based on a race-by-race examination of campaign-finance data -- suggests that the GOP will hang on to both chambers, at least nominally. We expect the Republican majority in the House to fall by eight seats, to 224 of the chamber's 435. At the very worst, our analysis suggests, the party's loss could be as large as 14 seats, leaving a one-seat majority. But that is still a far cry from the 20-seat loss some are predicting. In the Senate, with 100 seats, we see the GOP winding up with 52, down three. [...]

Is our method reliable? It certainly has been in the past. Using it in the 2002 and 2004 congressional races, we bucked conventional wisdom and correctly predicted GOP gains both years. Look at House races back to 1972 and you'll find the candidate with the most money has won about 93% of the time. And that's closer to 98% in more recent years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Polls can be far less reliable. Remember, they all but declared John Kerry president on Election Day 2004.


Give the devil its due: they have a point. But the key difference is the Bush approval rating; it was much higher at 2002 and even in 2004.

Take a look at the Harris Interactive Poll, for instance, Bush's approval ratings:

October 2004: 51% (and that is what he got in the election!)
October 2002: 64%
Recently, the Harris Poll shows Bush at under 50% on each of 11 of the biggest issues that are facing voters. A survey of Bush job approval polls that ended in October, 2006 show him between 33-41%, with 36-39% being the most common rating.
Hence the Republican candidates have something to surmount that they didn't have before. We shall see.

I think that David Corn of The Nation said it best:

The bottom-line: out of five key indicators of the national politicalmood, four are significantly worse for the Republicans in 2006 compared to the Democrats in 1994. As Cook put it, the 2006 political wave (at this moment) is bigger than that of 1994. But that does not mean the Dems are going to win as many seats as the GOPers did twelve years ago. Gephardt cautioned that congressional districts are far more gerrymandered these days than they were in 1994 (which means fewer are in play) and that Republicans have had a year to prepare for this election and build a wall to hold back the coming storm. In 1994, he said, the Democrats were taken by complete surprise. And Dunn--perhaps trying to convince herself--maintained that her party had plenty of money to dump into the limited number of House contests up for grab and would be able to prevent the Democrats from picking up more than a dozen House seats. The Democrats need 15 seats to obtain control of the House.

Still, Cook, who attributes 70 percent of the electorate's sour mood to Bush's war in Iraq, was predicting a Democratic gain in the House of at least 20 seats and perhaps 35. As for the Senate, Cook described it as a toss-up, with control of that body resting on what will happen in Missouri, Virginia, Tennessee, and New Jersey. The Democrats, according to Cook, probably will need three of these four races to win the Senate. He warned that there is a fair bit of "volatility" within the electorate and that it is nearly impossible to predict what will happen by adding up outcomes in individual House races. In 1994, he recalled, he and other trackers foresaw a GOP gain of 20 to 30 House seats--but nothing like what happened. "When there is a wave," Cook said, "they always go bigger than you expect."

Democrats, who have not done much to shape the current political dynamic, can hope so. For nail-biters, the immediate questions are obvious. Can Bush and Karl Rove do anything in the last two weeks of the campaign to change the weather? There's not much time left for an October Surprise. Can they pull off a November Surprise? If not and the forecast doesn't shift, can the Republicans construct fortifications to beat back the wave in just enough spots to keep their majority afloat in Congress? Cook thinks not. I'm not going to be as gutsy and make any predictions except this: Rove is either about to meet his Waterloo or to confirm his reputation as an odds-defying political genius.



I too have a hard time making predictions; many of the big name races will be close. I say that the Democrats make big gains, but don't take control of either chamber. I sure hope that I am wrong.

Peoria Pundit: Fun stuff...and IL-18

First, I'll point to some fun stuff at the Peoria Pundit. Then, I'll post one of my Daily Kos diaries.

The Peoria Pundit is a fun, information packed blog about the going's on in the Peoria area. The author is a former reporter and a libertarian; needless to say I often don't agree with his political views. But sometimes I do. For example, both of us back Bill Spears in the IL-92'nd house race.

His blog is a good place to keep track of some of the local races, especially the 92'nd House race. He also puts out some of Rich Whitney's stuff (he is the Green Party candidate for governor).

And he often posts some "fun" stuff.

Here are a couple of examples:

One is the Libertarian candidate for the Alabama governor's race. Her name is Loretta Nall and platform is the legalization of marijuana. One of the things that she is known for his her unusual fundraising tatitcs; if you giver her campaign money, you can see the dollar bills being stuffed into her bra. Go to the link and view the comments to see what I am talking about.

Photo:


Next, go to Bill's site to see the following:

A funny attack ad (Tennessee United States Senate Race)

Update: I am embarrased to say this, but I plain missed the point. Note that the candidate (Ford) is black and all of the women are white. That isn't by accident; that is by design. But because I am not a white southerner, I missed that completely. I am sure that those in Tennessee did not.

By the way, this ad could well be illegal to begin with:

And what the GOP is doing is not only slimey, it's illegal. As Bob Corker admitted on CNN, it's illegal for his campaign to coordinate with the RNC. Yet the RNC spokesperson who has publicly refused to pull the ad, Camille Anderson, travels with Corker around the state every day. It's obvious that there is coordination going on.

Why haven't you heard about this story before? Why hasn't there been a segment on Olbermann? Or Hardball? Why haven't the Republicans been asked whether they denounce this ad on Meet the Press? Why isn't Bob Corker being asked about his coordination with Camille Anderson?

Because the Republicans are slipping this under the radar. The MSM hates to report on racism in campaigns, and they're giving the GOP (and Corker) a free pass.

We can't let them do that. It's time to get our asses in gear. Control of the Senate is at stake. And something greater is at stake too ... the ability of African-Americans to be elected to the highest offices in our land. With tactics like this, it's no wonder only 1 out of 100 U.S. Senators is African-American.

Let's get the word out. No excuses. At the very least, if you do nothing else, send an email to Olbermann and start blogging this story. It deserves attention, has legs, and is too important to ignore.

UPDATE:

The latest from RNC Chair Ken Mehlman, on this ad: "I don't have the authority to take it down or put it up. It's called an independent expenditure." (from Hotline On Call)

He is the fucking CHAIR of the RNC and he doesn't have authority to pull an RNC ad? We need to hold his feet to the fire.

And if that wasn't enough, here's more from Mehlman:

"I think it's a fair ad. ... I just think those criticisms of it are wrong" (RNC Chair Ken Mehlman, "Decision 2006," MSNBC, 10/24).

I think a lot of people can see this ad is wrong. We need to make sure they see it.

SECOND UPDATE:

Think Progress has video of former Republican senator and Defense Secretary William Cohen on CNN calling the ad racist. This is just the beginning ... this story has legs. If Cohen can see that this ad is racist, why can't Ken Mehlman? And Bob Corker has never answered the question -- are the ads being run by his party on his behalf racist?

THIRD UPDATE:

In a great article in today's L.A. Times, the RNC claims that the ad was produced by an "independent arm" of the party and that Mehlman and the rest of the RNC hasn't seen or approved of the ad! What a crock of shit. We can't let them get away with that.

In the article, RNC spokesman Danny Diaz says that he "won't even entertain the premise" that the ad is racist. That notion is "not fair and not serious and not accurate." But even though the ad supposedly isn't racist and states that it was approved by the RNC, Danny claims that it's not really an RNC ad: "Diaz said the ad was an 'independent expenditure' produced by an arm of the Republican National Committee that is legally prohibited from coordinating with Mehlman. Because of this, Diaz said, Mehlman did not see or approve the ad before its release." In other words, not only is Bob Corker not responsible for this ad, but neither is the RNC or Ken Mehlman. Then who IS responsible? We need to force the GOP to answer that question.

By the way, the Peoria Pundit has spoken against the sexual parts of that ads.

A funny third party ad (Green Libertarian Nazi Hemp Party)


Now, for one of my diaries (Daily Kos) which is, in part, inspired by what I read in the Peoria Pundit.


http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/10/24/91159/133

IL-18: Waterworth works hard; LaHood shames his district Hotlist

Tue Oct 24, 2006 at 06:11:59 AM PDT

This week, the local paper (Peoria Journal Star) ran a feature on Steve Waterworth http://www.waterworthforcongress.com/ and talke about the uphill fight he has for the congressional seat in the Illinois 18'th district.

On the other hand, Ray LaHood continues to make an ass of himself on a national level, this time punishing a innocent Democratic staffer to gain political retaliation against his boss.

Hat tip to the Peoria Pundit, a local blogger (and libertarian) who brought attention to this story.
http://www.peoriapundit.com/...

more below the fold...

First, the feature on Steve Waterworth:
http://www.pjstar.com/...


BY ELIOT BROWN

oF THE JOURNAL STAR
PEORIA - Steve Waterworth's campaign is no political machine - that much is certain.

The Havana resident's house and campaign headquarters are one and the same; he writes his own brochures, simple fliers complete with minor typos; and his campaign committee, Friends for Steve Waterworth, has but one staffer: Steve Waterworth.

And this is the campaign organization of a man running for U.S. Congress.

With less than $5,000 in the bank, Waterworth is running on the Democratic ticket against six-term incumbent Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Peoria, in an area that hasn't seen a Democratic congressman preside since 1917.

The 59-year-old Air Force veteran is in for a tough struggle, to say the least. LaHood has more name recognition, more money (he's raised more than $1 million), a staff, a list of federal projects he's helped bring to the area and experience running against Waterworth (LaHood defeated him with about 70 percent of the vote in 2004).


I should point out that Waterworth managed 36 percent of the vote in the City of Peoria (Kerry got 52%)), but LaHood's district includes large swaths of rural area that is pro-Republican and includes parts of Springfield. Bush got in the high 50's (can't remember if it was 57 or 59%) of the vote in LaHood's district.


Waterworth, an energetic, retired master sergeant with the Illinois Air National Guard, is hardly tapped into the Democratic cash stores of the 18th Congressional District. He gets donations from occasional mailings and county Democratic parties, but lacks both the startup money to hold expensive fundraisers and the desire to go around with his hand out.

"The money goes to the people where there's an open seat," Waterworth said. "The rest of us are left with not very much."

And while Waterworth can speak out against the war in Iraq and for stem cell research in a similar manner, the national party committees are generally reserving their tens of millions of dollars for competitive races, which make up about 40 to 60 of the 435 House seats.

Waterworth said he was bothered by the two times LaHood has gone unopposed since he first won in 1994, adding to the reasons he is running.
[...]

As for Waterworth, win or lose, he says he'll be back in 2008.

Now for LaHood: I noted in an earlier diary that he was involved in a political retaliation scheme.
http://www.dailykos.com/...

Now he is catching national heat for it:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/...


REP. JANE HARMAN (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, took a step last week that she knew would be thermonuclear: Without the assent of the panel's chairman, Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), and in contravention of a previous understanding, she released an unclassified summary of a report about former representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.). Later that day, in barely disguised retaliation, Mr. Hoekstra suspended a Democratic committee staff member's access to classified documents, ostensibly based on the flimsiest of suspicions that the aide had been involved in the leak of a separate, classified document.

Ms. Harman's unilateral strike violated the bipartisan basis on which the intelligence committees are meant, at least in theory, to operate. But that cannot justify Mr. Hoekstra's malicious and misdirected response, which tarnished a staff member's reputation and was not supported by any evidence. The issue involves the leak of the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate on terrorism. [...]

Mr. Hoekstra's real motive -- striking back at Ms. Harman -- was made clear later in the letter, when he linked the two releases of information. Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), the committee vice chairman who had lodged a complaint about Mr. Hanauer weeks before, said he made his letter public to retaliate against Ms. Harman. "If the ranking member wants to play politics," he told Fox News, "there are some of us on the other side that can play politics, and I'm not afraid to do it."

So you see how arrogant a virtually unopposed incumbent can be. We have to take him down a couple of notches.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

IL-92: what I did to help us win!

Personal note: 23 mile ride on an out and back course; it was so windy that the ride out took 1:00! The back took 53 minutes, which is more reasonable.

Later, I walked for about 3 hours on a political campaign; my butt spasmed a bit, but the spasms eventually subsided.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/10/22/212447/93

IL-18 (U. S. House), IL-92 (State House): What I did to win today Hotlist

Sun Oct 22, 2006 at 06:24:47 PM PDT

Today was chilly, windy and blustery; the election is just a few weeks away!

This diary will discuss exactly what I did. Ok, what I did was not that exciting, but hopefully it was effective. And I have a couple of things to say about one Republican Representative, Ray LaHood.

I have an earlier diary about this race:
http://www.dailykos.com/...

More below the fold.

I had called the office of Bill Spears, our candidate who is attempting to unseat Freshman incumbent Aaron Schock. Our district has been historically Democratic, but our last Democratic incumbent got a bit cocky and ended up losing to a slick, well funded candidate by a very narrow margin:

http://www.elections.state.il.us/...
SCHOCK (Republican) 19719, Slone (Democratic) 19484

So I wanted to get to work! Today, I went to our local county Democrat office to get a couple of walk sheets and to go door to door. I also picked up three yard signs to add to the two we already have: one is for

for an Appellate Judge candidate, Vickie Wright http://www.judgevickiwright.com/

one is for our

Attorney General Lisa Madigan,
http://www.lisamadigan.org/ ,

and one is for our U. S. House candidate,
Steve Waterworth
http://www.waterworthforcongress.com/.

But back to the race that I am working. I am working for
Bill Spears, a current city councilman
http://www.peoriademocrats.org/...

In this race, the contrast is clear. We have the incumbent who is mostly funded by big money interest groups and who is running an outside consultant driven campaign. And then there is Bill Spears, the person who is running at the grass roots level.

Our utility company, which is currently wildly profitable, wants a 55% rate hike when the current rate freeze is over. I wonder who is more likely to come to bat for us: the fat cat financed Republican incumbent, or the Democratic challenger?

Anyway, today I spent about 3.5 hours going door to door and leaving flyers. It saves on postage, and I did get a chance to talk briefly to a few folks. Since I have done this a few times, I've learned to recognize the good spots to leave the flyers (leaving them in the mail box is illegal).

IL-18 Race:

Mr. Ray LaHood, the Republican incumbent, has made the news again. I've diaried as to how he has made a fool of himself time and time again in the recent past in his attempts to shield Dennis Hastert from criticism:

http://www.dailykos.com/...

http://www.dailykos.com/...

Now, he has attracted attention to himself for making public a letter in which he sought to have the security clearance of Democratic staff members revoked in retaliation for unfavorable "leaks" on an unclassified document about the disgraced Republican Duke Cunningham:

http://peoriapundit.com/...


My apologies. I thought the Journal Star would pretty much ignore the story of how U.S. Rep. Ray LaHood's unleashed an investigation on a congressional staffer in retaliation for the suspected release of an unclassified report on a dirty Republican congressman. But the JS did run an article on this breaking national news story that involves a local congressman. They ran it on the bottom right hand corner of page B-1.

http://pjstar.com/...


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rep. Ray LaHood's call for an investigation into the leaking of a secret intelligence report has led to the suspension of a Democratic staff member and sparked the latest partisan squabble to divide the normally cooperative panel.

LaHood was asked about this on Fox News; he responded
source: http://peoriapundit.com/...


Today on Fox News, LaHood said, "I'll tell you why I did it. The reason I did it was because Jane Harman released the Duke Cunningham -- who sat on our Intelligence committee -- report." That report, which detailed the misconduct of Cunningham, who is now serving a jail term, was not classified.

A Fox anchor asked, "So, it's payback?" LaHood responded, "There are some of us on the other side who can equally play politics, and I'm not afraid to do it."

What a jerk! Mind you, this jackass is the one who tries to play the "straight and narrow" card.

Tags: IL-92 State House, IL-18, winning elections, campaign work, Ray LaHood, Steve Waterworth (all tags)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Full Saturday

Personal: Athletics

I've reintroduced running into my program; over the past three days I've run one mile on the treadmill each day. Today, that one mile run followed a 40-41 mile bike ride that took me through parts of Pottstown, Edwards, Kramm and Hanna City.

I have new bicycle shoes and had to adjust my toe cages to accept these.

One thing: my mile runs have been 10 minutes, 9:30 and now 9:11, and they have gotten easier each time. But I note that doing 100% walking training gave me better preperation to run than cycling did.

Conclusion: if you can't run but want to keep your running fitness up, walking fast (if you can do that) works better than using the bicycle.

Of course, it might be a differnt story if one is running and wants to add another activity; I am talking about cross training for running when one cannot run at all.

I've also made some progress in my quest to get more comfortable in the Warrior III pose in yoga; a friend watched me try it and noticed that my hips were not parallel to the ground; I was attempting a "long" version.


He suggested that I switch to a more compact, "hips aligned with the ground" version, like this:



I seem steadier that way.

On another yoga note, I note with eager anticipation that the cartoon strip Get Fuzzy is about to do a rerun on an episode where Satchel takes yoga (click to see a larger version):

Football: NCAA
On my football picks, I went 12 for 20 against the spread this Saturday in Yahoo's Pick'em game (assuming that LSU doesn't recover to blow out Fresno State; if they do I'll be 13 for 20). That puts me at 80 of 142 against the point spread for the year, and 92 of 154 among the picks (which included 12 "off of the betting line; i. e., no point spread games). I don't count these as it isn't that hard to, say, pick Texas to beat Sam Houston State.

Now the games themselves were incredible. I watched most of the Texas-Nebraska game and thought that UT was doomed when UT was down to zero timeouts and Nebraska completed a pass for what looked like to be a first down with 2:17 to go; Nebraska was up 20-19.

But Nebraska fumbled the ball and UT got it back just ouside of the Nebraska 40 yard line, and drove it to win 22-20 with a field goal with a bit over 30 seconds to go.



Then I watched the Notre Dame-UCLA game (I have a TV which can give a split screen) and watched Notre Dame drive the ball 80 yards with 1 minute left and no time outs to win 20-17.




In both of these games, I picked the losing team to cover the spread, which indeed they did.
Analysis: Texas had some lucky bounces with fumbles, but also shot themselves in the foot with a blocked extra point, field goal and a missed field goal. Texas is a solid top 10 team, whereas Nebraska deserves their top 20 rating.

On the other hand, the Notre Dame-UCLA game was a hard fought game between teams of more or less equal ability; both belong in the second ten somewhere. Notre Dame's liabilites are its offensive line play (they allowed a 3 man UCLA rush to sack their quarterback) and lack of speed in the defensive backfield.

Notre Dame's strenghts are its sure handed recievers and it's front 6-7 on defense, as well as its punting game.

I am sorry that I missed Michigan State coming back from 38-3 down to win 41-38 against Northwestern; perhaps this will stop their skid. Truth be told, I can't fault MSU for losing to Ohio State and Notre Dame, but losing to Illinois?


Politics

Senate Debates

I watched the Clinton-Spencer debate (for the New York representative in the United States Senate) and if this were a boxing match, it would have been called off one third of the way through. Spencer came across as being way over his head; Hillary Clinton handled him easily.

The replay of the Chaffee-Whitehouse debate in Rhode Island was good too; Whitehouse won but I got the sense that there were two good candidates up on the stage.

John Kerry
John Kerry appears to have learned lessons from his losing 2004 Presidential campaign. He now speaks and writes more clearly and appears to stay "on message."

Consider this report from beachmom at the Daily Kos:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/10/18/163939/66

John Kerry is touting this great group The Patriot Project, who is researching the front groups that attack veterans (mostly Democrats) running for Congress. He sent an e-mail out yesterday, and then put this post up at The Huffington Post. It starts off innocently enough:

Anyone who comes to Huffington Post has seen that the bloggers here have been the first to stand up and defend veterans from Admiral Sestak to Tammy Duckworth when they've been slandered. It should be a source of pride and testimony to how the blogosphere can get the truth out and deny lies a sliver of daylight.

That's nice of him to say about the liberal blogosphere, but fairly standard stuff. He goes on to talk about The Patriot Project and the kind of work they've been doing to defend veterans "whose patriotism is questioned simply because they exercise their rights as Americans." And then the fireworks start:

"That's pretty damn fundamental in itself to who we are. But there's a human face behind it. The fight is intensely personal to me. Veterans are running for office all over our country. A lot of them got interested in politics as part of my campaign, and some got involved in Wes Clark's race. Some of us had disagreements for thirty five years -- like me and Jim Webb, we didn't see eye to eye over the war we fought in. But no matter where we came from, something much bigger now brings us together -- we're all a band of brothers now. When I got off the phone with Patrick Murphy after the chickenshit attacks on his military record, something felt awfully familiar and it got me pissed off. I care about these men and women. They've got guts and they've got brains and they've got heart and I'm telling you they will change the character of this pathetic Congress, and I'm boiling mad watching people who didn't serve attack those who did because they can't win a debate on the merits."

Perhaps, Senator, you could say that with a little more feeling, being that you're all aloof* and all.

* MSM owns that word.

He brings it home for why The Patriot Project is so important for this election:

"It's up to all of us to say enough is enough. Stop the swift-boating. Stop the push-polling. Stop the front groups that are created with single $5,000,000 donations from Texas tycoons."

I just loved it! Of course, I know that many of you are going to say, why didn't he do that in 2004? Why didn't he fight the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth the way he's fighting for the likes of Patrick Murphy, John Murtha, and Jim Webb? I would come up with a list of responses to those questions, but it looks like the good Senator anticipated your questions, and has pre-emptively answered them:

"Nitpick the campaign I ran all you want, question the tactics, I can take it -- but above all the small criticisms, I know that I lost to two lies backed up by big money: a lie about Iraq and a lie about my military record. Pundits can feast on the little details, I'm busy this year making sure that no veteran loses to a lie in 2006."

Wow. Keep it up!

Make no mistake about it; the current Republican political leadership is infested by scumbags. Here are a couple of examples of their latest dirty tricks:



Sounds bad, doesn't it? But read the whole story:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/10/21/214311/23

NY-24: Another false libelous ad NRCC refuses to pull Hotlist

Sat Oct 21, 2006 at 06:43:11 PM PDT

Republicans are truly bad, bad people.

Democrat Michael Arcuri is vying with Republican, Ray Meier, to replace longtime GOP Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, who is retiring. The race is very close and may help decide if the Democrats take the House.

The national GOP campaign office started airing an ad Friday that showed Arcuri leering at the silhouette of a dancing woman who says, ''Hi, sexy. You've reached the live, one-on-one fantasy line.'' He supposedly dialed the service two years ago from a New York City hotel room and billed taxpayers - for all of $1.25 for a one-minute call. He is the district attorney in Oneida County.

Now the Utica Observer-Dispatch today notes that Arcuri's campaign has released records to the paper showing the call to the 800 sex line was followed the very next minute by a call to the state Department of Criminal Justice Services - and the last seven digits of the two numbers are the same.

Arcuri now says the ad was ''clearly libelous'' and threatens to file a lawsuit. At least seven television stations in Syracuse, Utica and Binghamton refused to run the ad.

The ad's sponsor, the National Republican Congressional Committee, stands by the 30-second message.

Slimebags.

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Of course, our local hack, Ray LaHood, isn't above being a slimeball when it suits him.

The Peoria Pundit Reports:

http://peoriapundit.com/blogpeoria/2006/10/20/ray-lahood-admits-to-playing-dirty-at-capitol-staffers-expense/#more-6721

Ray LaHood admits to playing dirty at Capitol staffer’s expense

The Peoria area media really don’t do a great job of reporting on the politicians’ activities once we send them to Washington or Springfield. That’s my most Peorians won’t learn about this news development unless thay happen to have been watching FOXNews at the exact time they had U.S. Rep. RayLaHood (R-18th) on the phone. Basically, LaHood admitted he had a Congressional staffer suspended and and subjected to a possible criminal investigation more out of spite and political payback than because there’s any real evidence the staffer leaked a classified National Intelligence Estimate to the New York Times.

Of course, the Journal Star really did run an article about this the day after the above post appeared, and the Peoria Pundit acknowledged as such.

http://pjstar.com/stories/102106/REG_BBA47UMR.060.shtml

By Paul M. Krawzak and Marcus Stern

of Copley News Service
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rep. Ray LaHood's call for an investigation into the leaking of a secret intelligence report has led to the suspension of a Democratic staff member and sparked the latest partisan squabble to divide the normally cooperative panel.

Top Republicans and Democrats hurled charges back and forth on Friday, accusing each other of jockeying for political advantage and abusing their authority with less than three weeks to go before the Nov. 7 election.

The brouhaha arose from a letter the Peoria Republican, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, made public this week. In it, he asked for an investigation into what he said was a "politically motivated" leak of portions of a secret National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq to the New York Times.

The Times published a story on the report Sept. 23, touching off a partisan firestorm. The April 2006 report, later partially released by President Bush, said the war in Iraq had the unintended consequence of helping terrorist groups recruit fighters. It also said a victory over terrorists would discourage their recruitment efforts.

"I stand by what I said in my letter," LaHood said Friday. "People are fed up with these leaks and we need to find out if somebody on the committee, from the committee staff or someone else leaked this information to the New York Times."

LaHood wrote that while he did not have "credible information" that intelligence was leaked from the committee, "the implications of such would be dramatic."

"This may, in fact, be only coincidence, and simply 'look bad,"' he wrote. "But coincidence, in this town, is rare."

Hoekstra defended his action in a letter to Harman, saying that while it was uncertain that wrongdoing had occurred, it was "necessary to act swiftly" on a potential unauthorized disclosure.

LaHood said leaks have increased during the eight years he has served on the committee, compromising the nation's security.

"When information is leaked it hurts the ability of the - CIA and other intelligence-gathering agencies of our government to have credibility with sources," he said.

Earlier this week, LaHood asked for permission to make his Sept. 29 letter public when he became angry after Harman released an unclassified summary of the panel's inquiry into the corruption scandal of former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif.
[...]



Other articles of interest:

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/1988

I Got Your God, Right Here

by Ben Tripp | Oct 19 2006 - 9:26am | permalink
article tools: email | print | read more Ben Tripp | add new comment

I am an atheist.

As occasionally happens, someone has noticed that some people 1) don't believe in god, and 2) some people buy books on the subject. This is, in the current hysterical climate of ultra-religious fervor that has swept the nation, newsworthy.

This article proposes to have a quick, inoffensive glance at a little ripple of atheism that seems to have stirred the surface of America's great lake of faith. I promise you, if atheists weren't so terrified of getting killed by zealots, that ripple would stand about fifteen feet high and would sweep the lakeshore clear into town, swamping half of Main Street.

There are two kinds of non-believers: agnostics, who state that nobody can know if there is a god or not; and atheists, who say there is bloody little likelihood of any god or gods. Except that people hedge their bets, because you never know, god might really be the nasty old prick from the Bible, the ranks of agnostics would probably swell to outnumber people of any faith. But nobody gives the mattter much thought. Why not? Because it doesn't matter. Sure, I believe in god, why not? Nothing has changed. If by some tiny chance there is a god floating around somewhere, he'll be mollified to hear I tipped my hat to him; if not, no harm done.

But it does matter. Think about it. Think long and hard about whether you believe in god, or if in fact you're just afraid of the possibility of god. Because the stakes are getting frighteningly high. It's time to think it over and speak your position, because the religious loonies are speaking for you, and what they're saying is extremely weird. I'm tridecaphobic, for example. The number 13. Why? Not because I really fear the number thirteen, but because over the years I've marveled at people being afraid of the number thirteen, until finally it's entered my mind as a kind of sick superstitious fascination. No 13th floor on a hotel? No seat 13, row 13 on an airplane?

But now it makes me nervous, even though I don't actually have any idea why 13 would be a worse number than, say, 534 or .8-- and what about 13.13? or 1313? Still, if somebody were to ask me, 'are you afraid of the number 13', I would say, 'no, that is superstitious rubbish'. Because the rational part of my mind is running things, not the part that thinks about magic. So do I believe in a creator of all things that set up the universe, listens to prayers, and doles out eternal punishment? No, I do not. I mean, come on, it doesn't take a great deal of analysis to realize the whole premise is silly. It reeks of very human-generated propaganda. [...]


Along the same lines, here is an interview with Richard Dawkins. I loved his book, "The Selfish Gene" Hat tip to my sister, Rosematuse, who sent me this video: