Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bob Lipper on Al Groh

Typically reading a Bob Lipper column makes me want to throw a breakable object very hard into the nearest wall, but I find myself in 100% agreement with his article today about Al Groh's possible contract extension at UVa.

Groh has had two seasons of note at Virgina in his six years there; 2002 (because the team overacheived and got shafted in the bowl selection process) and 2004 (when the program was poised to move into the upper echelon of the ACC, but promptly messed the bed when the bright lights were shining).

To be sure, coming into the season, this looked like it was going to be a rough year, but several of the losses were terrible (Western Michigan and ECU quickly spring to mind) and one game was unforgivable (squandering at home a 20+ point halftime lead to a slightly above average Maryland team, before losing 28-26). Win any one of those, and the team goes bowling. Win two and well...

Anyway, the team will return more starters next year (18) than any other ACC program and, in retrospect, handing QB Jameel Sewell the keys to the team this year will probably be seen as a wise move. The defense improved over the course of the season, and I think that next year might be the first time the d-line in Groh's 3-4 scheme might be worth talking about (Jeff Fitzgerald and Chris Long are a fantastic end duo). To top it off, many of the better teams in the league will be losing important players to the pros or graduation, so there is reason for optimism.

Next year will hinge on several factors, among them:
-Will Mike Groh remain the O.C.? Mike had a shaky (at best) first season calling the offense. The playcalling was far too conservative in games where the team had nothing to lose an everything to gain (V.T.). More imagination is needed to keep opposing defenses on their toes.
-Who's going to carry the load? Though he gave a great effort, Jason Snelling was just not a feature RB. He's a fantastic fullback and I think he could even make the pros as such, but teams were not afraid of him. One of Cedric Peerman, Mikell Simpson or Keith Payne is going to have to step in and be the man.
-Is there a second viable wide receiver on the team? Kevin Ogletree and Sewell already have a good thing going, so it's important that somebody else step up on the other side to share the load. Having two respectable wideouts makes the great tight ends, Tom Santi and Tom Stupar, much more effective and it keeps teams from putting 8 in the box to stop the run.
-Is there more speed to be found on defense? The LB corps needs speed...badly. Though the overall team speed has improved in recent years, it's still not in the same league with elite teams like an Ohio State, an LSU, or a (sigh) V.T. The LB's are the main attackers in the 3-4 and I'm not sure we have the horses now to contain some of the more athletic teams on the schedule.
-Kicker...can we find a good one? Please?

All in all, I think UVa was wise to decline picking up the option for the 2011 season at this point. Groh shouldn't be rewarded for putting an unexciting 5-7 team on the field. Next year will represent the best chance for the program since the '04 season to prove it belongs with the big boys. The schedule lines up nicely. I just hope, for once, lady luck will smile on the Hoos and give us a year to remember.

The Bush - Webb Flap

Many people are up in arms because Jim Webb didn't play nice with President Bush:
At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

This, perhaps predictably, sent George Will of the Washington Post into an absolute tizzy.

But Greg Sargent catches Will conveniently leaving out important parts of the account reported in the same newspaper.

Now, the only reason this is getting blown out of proportion is because Webb (or his office) leaked that he was so angered by the exchange that he wanted to "slug" Bush.

Personally, I think letting that information out into the public was a bad move, any way you slice it. There's probably millions of Americans who would like to lob a haymaker at Bush, but millions of Americans are not U.S. senators and, as such, Webb should hold himself to a higher standard and keep that kind of thing in his office and off the front pages of major newspaper.

As to the exchange itself, I just don't get the stance of the "Webb is a ass!" crowd. Could Webb have answered the question in a different manner and conveyed the same point in a less combative way? Sure. But, in essence, a lot of people are basically saying that Webb should have lied to Bush and gone on his way. Webb has been a very vocal critic of the war in Iraq, and this man, a decorated Vietnam vet and former Secretary of the Navy, believes in honor, duty and sacrifice; he's not going to stand in front of a president (this president, especially) and sugar coat his feelings (especially since Webb's son is in theater in the Middle East).

If Webb really wanted to be an ass, he could have simply asked about how the twins were doing down in Argentina.

What Reporters Used to Do

Froomkin uses a bad word to make a good point.

Where did all the real reporters go?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

ACC - Big Ten Challenge

The good guys race out to a 4-1 lead. Tonight's tally (winner in bold):
NC State 74 - Michigan 67
Maryland 72 - Illinois 66
Wisconsin 88 - FSU 66
Georgia Tech 77 - Penn State 73
Duke 54 - Indiana 51

The Hoos (ranked #25 in the A.P.), go to Purdue tomorrow night. The big game of the challenge will be in Chapel Hill as the #6 Tar Heels (ESPN/USAToday Coaches Poll) take on #1 Ohio St.

More No Child Left Bhind

Matt and Ezra offer additional takes on the New York Time's Magazine feature I mentioned yesterday.

If you haven't, do read the article since it addresses the widening achievement gap between the poor and middle class children, the role parenting plays in bridging that gap, and how different types of schools (namely charter schools, like KIPP) are tackling the very monumental task of trying to catch up underprivileged students with their better off peers.

On that last point, I found this comment to be especially important. From The Quick and the Ed:
Tough's conclusion, which I think is the right one, is that while the achievement gap is caused by a lot of deep-seated inequities that occur outside of schools, really good schools can go a long way to mitigating those problems--but only if they're really good schools.

It's not enough to stop giving disadvantaged students less money, worse teachers, and fewer educational resources, which is what we're doing now. We have to give them more of all of those things than we give other students, which is difficult and expensive--but not nearly as hard as managing the consequences of the inequitable school system we have today.

"Sorry, haters..."

Thankfully, Nancy Pelosi was successful in pressuring Alcee Hastings, former federal judge who was removed from the bench on suspected bribery charges, to give up his pursuit to be the chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Click here to see his letter withdrawing his name for consideration (and pay special attention to the closing).

Monday, November 27, 2006

No Child Left Behind?

Excellent article in this week's New York Times Magazine about the implications of President Bush's effort to re-imagine the American education system. There's too many interesting nuggets to mention, so read the entire piece.

Calling a spade a spade

NBC News has decided to take the plunge:
But after careful consideration, NBC News has decided a change in terminology is warranted -- that the situation in Iraq with armed militarized factions fighting for their own political agendas -- can now be characterized as a civil war.

Well, some outlet in the mainstream media had to be the first. The U.S. military maintains that what is going on does not constitute a civil war.

And then this from the New York Times:
Is Iraq in a civil war?

Though the Bush administration continues to insist that it is not, a growing number of American and Iraqi scholars, leaders and policy analysts say the fighting in Iraq meets the standard definition of civil war.

The common scholarly definition has two main criteria. The first says that the warring groups must be from the same country and fighting for control of the political center, control over a separatist state or to force a major change in policy. The second says that at least 1,000 people must have been killed in total, with at least 100 from each side.

American professors who specialize in the study of civil wars say that most of their number are in agreement that Iraq’s conflict is a civil war.

“I think that at this time, and for some time now, the level of violence in Iraq meets the definition of civil war that any reasonable person would have,” said James Fearon, a political scientist at Stanford.

But then this, from the Washington Post's Dana Priest:
I will say for the Washington Post, we have not labeled it a civil war. I have asked around to see why not or see what’s the thinking on that and really our reporters have not filed that. We try to avoid the labels, particularly when the elected government itself does not call its situation a civil war. I certainly — and I would agree with General McCaffrey on this — absolutely the level of violence equals a civil war.

So NBC is ok with casting the uncontrollable violence in Iraq as a civil war, but the Pulitzer prize winning Priest is afraid to call it that, even if that's what she thinks it is?

Um, ok.

Calling what is going on in Iraq is not merely a semantic discussion; there are policy issues in play. More from Foreign Policy:
Titling Iraq a civil war may have significant impacts on American foreign policy - according to the NYT, acknowledgment by the White House would mean an admission of failure of the administration's policy in Iraq. Furthermore, it might also encourage a greater demand for withdrawal from the public, who may view the role of American troops redundant in the context of a civil war.

One hell of a mess, isn't it?

War of the Imagination

Mark Danner, in the New York Review of Books, has an exceptionally long and in-depth survey of the Iraq war. I've just printed it out (32 pages!) for train time reading, but it's already getting effusive praise from people far smarter than me.

If you're so inclined, follow the link above to the article and dive in.

But...he doesn't REALLY mean it

Greg Sargent catching more of the media looking away while Saint John does his thing.

I thought this bit was especially on point:
Of course, it's not easy to see how the view that (a) McCain's pandering should be excused because he doesn't mean what he says can be reconciled with the view that (b) he's a straight-talker, but such is life on Planet Pundit.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Saint John

Back during the 2000 primary season, I supported John McCain, and I think that, looking back, I (and countless others) were swept up in the "John McCain, Maverick" wave that was making its way through the mainstream media. However, since our foray into Iraq, I've been forced to reconsider my stance on the man (given his unshakable stance as a war hawk), even though the portrait painted of him by the press remains unchanged. McCain continues to get the same kind of fawning treatment from the Wise Men of Washington that George W. Bush got through his first run at the White House. Nary a critical eye has been cast in the direction of the actual voting record that defines the man, the myth, the legend.

So, I was quite pleased today to see this op-ed in the Los Angeles Times by Matt Welch. Leaving aside McCain's completely transparent attempts to rally his former enemies to his charge to the White House, and the fact that he supported one of the most shameful pieces of legislation ever passed by Congress, Welch's article is an attempt to clearly lay out what we could expect of a McCain presidency, which would simply be a case of the new boss being the same as the old boss.

"Playoffs? Playoffs?!?"

Gene Wojciechowski airs his frustrations with the BCS. I can't really disagree with the absurdity of the BCS formula, but I don't have any real problem with USC going to the title game against Ohio State. For all of those who want to see a re-match of OSU/Michigan, I would simply say that the Wolverines had their shot...and blew it. You can argue all day about USC being better than Michigan (or vice versa) but I personally think there were would be more excitement for a "fresh" game rather than Game of the Century (TM), Part Deux.

I will agree entirely with Wojo's take that Div. 1A football simply needs to go to a playoff system and be done with the foolishness that the BCS entails. One of the more common arguments against a playoff is that it would render the current bowl system, useless. I find that unconvincing. There's already an unofficial hierarchy to the bowl games, so just integrating the lower bowls into the playoff system, I think, would not be exceptionally difficult. It would undoubtedly raise the profile of some of the lesser bowls since there would actually be something riding on them and the potential for intriguing match-ups would be high (Louisville-Michigan? LSU-Wisconsin? Notre Dame-WVU?)

Friday, November 24, 2006

The B.U. scholarship and Affirmitive Action

There's been a fair amount already written in the blogosphere about the "Caucasian Achievement and Recognition Scholarship" that has been created by the College Republicans at Boston University. It's clear that this is an elaborate political stunt whose express purpose is to challenge the idea behind affirmative action, but I think there's more to discuss here beyond what's on the surface.

I have to admit that I have supported the current system of affirmative action with little reservation for some time. However, for reasons that are both prudent and fair, I now believe that considering socio-economic status as the primary (though not only) basis for awarding this particular type of aid makes more sense. On a purely practical level, it's much easier to build a coalition behind the idea of helping the poor than it is to have disparate groups unite under the banner of helping lift one race over another. Additionally, many of the same people who would be helped under a race based system would also benefit under a system that targets family income levels.

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's technically the day after Thanksgiving now, but it's never too late to think about what you're thankful for in your own life. I've been blessed with a wonderful family, the best friends a person could ever ask for, general good health and a job that I enjoy. Any one of those things alone would be more than enough reason to be thankful, but I am lucky enough to have them all and I only hope I've been able to touch the lives of others in the same positive way in which they've touched mine.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Casino Royale

Checked out the new Bond flick after Thanksgiving dinner Home. The movie is long at 2 1/2 hours, but it was very good. The last few Bond flicks had grown too reliant on crazy gadgets and shaky story lines. Seeing as the movie is prequel of sorts (though it's set in the present day, it opens with Bond just being anointed a 007), it does a good job of showing, among other things, how Bond becomes a cold, calculating womanizer. The big set action pieces were well done (the opening chase scene was fantastic), and several of the scared cows of the newer films (the famous "shaken, not stirred" martini, the eye candy as sidekick) get skewered here. There's even a rather disturbing torture scene. Craig holds it all together and he will be a good Bond. He shows the right mix of hubris and vulnerability in this story that gives us insight into what the character will eventually become.

I would recommend this one with no reservations (but I have to note the absolutely shameless product placement by Sony...seriously, guys, that was ridiculous).


Harold Meyerson of the American Prospect, on what's eating conservatives.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Always Right

It must be hard to deal with the fact that you're never wrong, yet people don't always come around to your point of view. Jon Chait explains.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Isn't it time we stopped listening to these people?

Taking all the wrong lessons from last week's "thumpin", neo-conservative Joshua Muravchik, writing in Foreign Policy, tries to rally his fellow travelers and makes the case for...bombing Iran.

Apparently, being a card carrying member of a now largely discredited intellectual movement that led this country into the worst international crisis in a generation still gets one prominent platforms form which to spew madness.

For a look at what's actually happening with Iran out here in the reality based world, Sy Hersh has the skinny.

One Last Push

So it's time for "one last push" in Iraq, the idea being that throwing 20,000 new troops into the frying pan will somehow get things under control. It's not that we don't have a plan, it's just that we haven't made the best effort we can to win this thing! This seems like a good time to direct readers to the Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The UCLA taser incident

I'm a few days late in addressing this. but my quick take is that while the student definitely seemed to be a little more defiant than he needed to be, the response of the campus police was decidedly over the top.

Video of the incident is here. Former Bruin Ezra Klein has additional commentary.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Your "liberal media": Washington bobbleheads edition

Greenwald on the inside the beltway hatchet jobs on speaker elect Pelosi.

Your "liberal media": Holding Its Tongue

See, this kind of thing would have done a lot of good, you know, a few years ago.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


The Washington Post I think goes overboard in its examination of Steny Hoyer's election to Majority Leader. The Post calls the rejection of John Murtha a "major blow" to incoming Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. But was it? Much has been made of Pelosi's letter declaring her support for Murtha's candidency. As even Hoyer noted, this was expected, since Pelosi and Murtha are close. The problem with Murtha was simply that he's got some ethical skeletons in his closet that won't go away, and, seeing as ending corruption was a major reason the Dems took both houses last week, its probably not good politics to have a Majority Leader who didn't get up and walk out of the room when he was offered a bribe during an FBI sting.

So, will it really hurt Pelosi in any lasting way that her hand-picked number two was defeated? Probably not and John Cole of Balloon Juice (blogging over at the Carpetbagger Report) details why.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Late Night Music Blogging - Damien Rice

Rice just dropped a new album and will be performing in the Bay Area at the Paramount in Oakland next month. I've only heard three tracks from the new album, but I like them all quite a bit. "Grey Room" to me is in the same vein as "Delicate" from O."The Animals Were Gone" is fantastic. The string section, which builds to a swirling crescendo near the end of the song, infuses the whole production with an almost dream-like quality. It feels like a slightly boozy waltz...wonderful track. The standout of the three is easily "9 Crimes", a devastating piano ballad featuring Lisa Hannigan. My take is that the song is about a the end of a relationship, and if so, the imagery produced is stunning:

"Leave me out with the waste
This is not what I do
It's the wrong kind of place
To be thinking of you
It's the wrong time
For somebody new
It's a small crime
And I've got no excuse

Is that alright with you?
Give my gun away when it's loaded
that alright with you?
If you don't shoot it how am I supposed to hold it
Is that alright with you?
Give my gun away when it's loaded
Is that alright with you?
with you.

Leave me out with the waste
This is not what I do
It's the wrong kind of place
To be cheating on you
It's the wrong time
but she's pulling me through
It's a small crime
And I've got no excuse

Is that alright with you?
Give my gun away when it's loaded
Is that alright with you?
If you don't shoot it how am I supposed to hold it
Is that alright with you?
Give my gun away when it's loaded
Is that alright
Is that alright with you?

Is that alright?
Is that alright?
Is that alright with you?
Is that alright?
Is that alright?
Is that alright with you?


Reading the lyrics is one thing, but put together with the piano and slight string arrangement and the haunted vocals of Rice and Hannigan, the song becomes transcendent. If ever there was a song for a cold winter night spent on reflection, this is it.

You're a conservative....until you're not

There's a peculiar meme gaining currency on the right that, in essence, says George Bush is a failure as president because he's not conservative enough. Actually, let's go one step further...he's a liberal! Of course!

From Hullabaloo:

Digby (11/26/05)
Movement conservatives are getting ready to write the history of this era as liberalism once again failing the people. Typically, the conservatives were screwed, as they always are. They must regroup and fight for conservatism, real conservatism, once again. Viva la revolution!

There is no such thing as a bad conservative. "Conservative" is a magic word that applies to those who are in other conservatives' good graces. Until they aren't. At which point they are liberals.

World Net Daily (11/15/06)
Reluctantly, we may finally have to admit that President George W. Bush has governed more like a liberal Democrat than the true moral conservative we all wanted to believe he was. If Richard Viguerie is right, more bad things will continue to happen to the Republican Party as long as conservatives remain unhappy.

I don't think anything else needs to be said.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Military Commissions Act and the twilight of American civil liberties

This probably won't get the attention it deserves in the mainstream press tomorrow ("your liberal media...still not liberal"), but it's worth reading this entire post from Glenn Greenwald to get a sense of just how dark the lights have gotten in the "shining city upon a hill. Easily the most awful bill related to civil liberties in my lifetime, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 would allow for immigrants to be detained indefinitely, without knowing the reasons for their imprisonment (and they would be robbed of any means of contesting their detention).

From Greenwald:

There is no greater betrayal of the core principles of American political life than to have the federal government sweep people off the streets, throw them into a black hole with no contact with the outside world and no charges asserted of any kind, and simply keep them there for as long as the President desires.

If you care at all about what it means to be an American citizen, you should hope that the incoming congress can at least untangle some of this abomination and restore habeas corpus for anyone currently being held under these pretenses. Those who only see this act through the prism of the "war on terra" don't seem to grasp the sprawling scope of what this means. From the A.P. article linked above:

It's pretty stunning that any alien living in the United States can be denied this right," said Jonathan Hafetz, an attorney for Al-Marri. "It means any non-citizen, and there are millions of them, can be whisked off at night and be put in detention.

It is shocking that we as citizens of this country, a country that has done more for the advancement of human rights around the world than any other nation, would allow our president to let something this draconian become the law of the land. Shameful is just one of many words that come to mind.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday Night Concert Blogging - Ray LaMontagne

Checked out Ray at the always impressive Paramount Theater in Oakland with Catherine and Marjorie. This was my second time seeing Ray in concert...I saw him with Heidi back at the Fillmore in S.F. last year. The shows were very different, but both were excellent. At the Fillmore, Ray's band featured an upright bass and a small string section. Tonight's show was more austere...Ray on acoustic guitar, an electric bass, a slide guitar, and drums. The crowd was mostly silent, which is perhaps the way it should be, since Ray's voice simply overpowers...well, everything. The arrangements leaned toward the country-ish, though that's not a bad thing (it was almost like Ray fronting the Cowboy Junkies at times).

In any case, despite a few problems with the sound, the show was great. Ray led off the show with the first three songs from his new album, Till The Sun Turns Black. "Be Here Now", "Empty", and "Barfly" were all well done. Highlights of the show for me were "Narrow Escape", "Trouble", "Can I Stay", "Jolene", and the closer for the night, an impassioned performance of "Burn". Ray also did a cover of "In A Station" by The Band.

College basket-blogging

The Hoos opened up the brand new John Paul Jones Arena with a big win over #10 Arizona. All everything point guard Sean Singletary led the Cavaliers with 25 points and sophomore Mamadi Diane added 25 points of his own to help the Hoos to a come from behind victory.

Coach Dave Leitao has stressed defense and it looks like the Hoos closed up some in the second half to seal the win. I don't want to take too much away from this victory (1st game of the season, opening a brand new arena, all manner of pre-game theatrics) but this is a solid way to get this season going. The Hoos have a real chance at getting to the dance (I think we've got the best backcourt in the ACC with Singletary and J.R. Reynolds) as this should be a wide open season in the best conference in the land.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Brady vs Manning

As far as sports writers go, I think Bill Simmons is one of the best working today. That said, he has some annoying traits, and perhaps most annoying among them is his slavish defense of Tom Brady (and all things Patriots) and his constant belittling of Peyton Manning. In assessing last week's home loss that the Patriots suffered at the hands of the Colts (built on a magnificent performance by Manning and a 4 interception outing by Brady) Simmons damns Peyton with faint praise:
Taking my right shoe off ... )
(Taking my right sock off ... )
(Jamming my entire right foot into my mouth.)

There. You happy, Colts fans? Just remember, Chamberlain's teams beat Russell's teams plenty of times in the regular season. Didn't mean anything in the big scheme of things.

Simmons is a homer for all things Boston (not that I have a problem with least he doesn't hide his allegiences). However, beating the "Manning can't win in the post-season" drum is getting old in fact that in today's Miami Herald, Dan Le Batard breaks down the idea that Manning is a "stat-padding loser". Worth the time to read.

The New Congress

Michael Tomasky, former editor of The American Prospect, has a must read editorial in today's Los Angeles Times about the make up of the new Democratic majority. The conventional wisdom that is emerging seems to revolve around the idea that some of the newly elected (relatively) socially conservative Democrats will keep the caucus from shifting too far left on social issues; Tomasky points out that the social issues will be relegated to the sidelines in any case because highlighting those issues would harm party unity and, instead, the Democrats will unite around and push economic issues, where the newbies are closer to the party's mainstream.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Our dead servicemen in Iraq, 2006

Steve Gilliard has a list.

I won't lie...I just looked at this and tears ran down my face. What could a person event attempt to offer as a justification for the death of these young men and women, patriots all of them?

If it doesn't leave you speechless, it should.

Friday, November 10, 2006

About the G.O.P. losing

Noam Scheiber takes a look at the spin being put forth by conservatives about why they lost on Tuesday:

Conservatives seem to be advancing one of two theories here, both of them at odds with reality. The first is that the drift from limited government principles demoralized the GOP base, leading to the Democratic landslide. The first problem with this theory is it's not at all clear it was government spending and not, say, the war, that demoralized conservatives. But, for the sake of argument, let's say that's right. That leaves an even bigger problem: While the GOP's performance among conservatives was clearly disappointing, the party suffered significantly larger losses among moderates.


Of course, that leaves a second theory: that the GOP's abandonment of small-government principles explains the defection of moderates. But I doubt it. While the publicly-available election data can't answer this question definitively, everything we know about public opinion suggests there isn't a majority constituency for economic libertarianism. (Tax cuts, perhaps, but not the smaller government that goes along with it.) Probably the best source on this is an exhaustive 2005 study by the Pew Research Center, which divided the electorate into nine different "typologies." Of the nine groups, only two were discernibly libertarian on questions of economics, amounting to 20 percent of registered voters. The rest were sympathetic to government, to varying degrees. Even more empirically-minded conservatives--like National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru--have conceded as much.

That's just for starters and it gets better. Read the whole thing.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Paul Krugman and the end of movement conservatism

Excellent piece by Paul Krugman in Friday's New York Times (Times Select...but the pay wall is down this week) about the rejection of this particular brand of conservatism:

Why do I want to see movement conservatism crushed? Partly because the movement is fundamentally undemocratic; its leaders don’t accept the legitimacy of opposition. Democrats will only become acceptable, declared Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, once they "are comfortable in their minority status." He added, "Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant, but when they’ve been fixed, then they are happy and sedate."

And the determination of the movement to hold on to power at any cost has poisoned our political culture. Just think about the campaign that just ended, with its coded racism, deceptive robo-calls, personal smears, homeless men bused in to hand out deceptive fliers, and more. Not to mention the constant implication that anyone who questions the Bush administration or its policies is very nearly a traitor.

When movement conservatism took it over, the Republican Party ceased to be the party of Dwight Eisenhower and became the party of Karl Rove. The good news is that Karl Rove and the political tendency he represents may both have just self-destructed.

The crack up continues...Part II

The odious Ann Coulter and the decidedly more eurdite Bill Safire catch a case of the vapors.

While it's certainly true that the the crushing loss (and let's be honest, that's what this was) for the Republicans might indeed get them back to their principles (and, whatever your politics, having an engaged opposition party is a good thing in a democracy), I think some conservative commentators (and their media enablers) are still drinking from the "everything bad is good for you" kool-aid vat that says anything that happens (be it losing both houses of Congress, or increasing levels of violence in Iraq) ends up being good for Republicans. Clearly, that's just not the case.

Update: Erza, who actually is a political writer (unlike me, who just plays one on this blog), breaks down the "conservatism won" meme that seems to be gaining currency.

It's official...Dems win the Senate!

George Allen just gave his concession speech, making Jim Webb the new Democratic senator from the great Commonwealth of Virginia.

Monday night's Van Morrison/Rolling Stones concert

Things have been so busy with the election and what not, but I would be remiss if I didn't get in a few comments about the Van Morrison/Rolling Stones show at the Oakland Coliseum Monday night.

Quick highlights:

Van Morrison - Broke out some great older tunes in addition to the crowd pleasers ("Moondance", "Wild Night", "Brown Eyed Girl"). Especially welcome were personal favorites "Cleaning Windows", "Real Real Gone" and the more obscure "One Irish Rover".

Rolling Stones - Mick Jager might be in his 60's, but he runs around like a dude in his 20's. A hyper-kinetic ball of energy. Keith Richards looks like an especially eccentric homeless man, but he still shreds. The Stones sound great (really) and if this was their last tour (who believes this?) they went out on top .

Set list below:
1. Jumpin Jack Flash
2. It's Only Rock n Roll
3. Let's Spend the Night Together
4. She Was Hot
6. Streets of Love
7. Bitch
8. Midnight Rambler
9. Tumbling Dice
10. You Got the Silver
11. Connection
12. Under My Thumb
13. Just My Imagination
14. Start Me Up
15. Honky Tonk Women
16. Sympathy for the Devil
17. Paint It Black
18. Brown Sugar
19. Satisfaction

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

By God, they've done it!

The Associated Press is calling the Virginia senate race in favor of Democratic challenger Jim Webb. Webb's win over incumbent Republican, George "Macacca" Allen, gives the Democrats the senate with a 51-49 margin.*

Back this spring, Allen was considered a possible candidate for the White House. Now, he's unemployed.

The Commonwealth comes through!

*As of now, Allen has not conceded the race, but there are rumors that he's going to get pressure from above to back off his pursuit of a recall.

Blue skies in Big Sky Country!

Big Jon Tester is claiming victory over incumbent Republican Conrad Burns in Montana.

That leaves the senate hinging on the Allen/Webb race, and Webb is still up...more to come.

The crack up continues...

Republican incumbent Dick Pombo tossed by Dem. challenger Jerry McNerney.

Tester still up in Montana, Webb still up in Virginia.

But today's big news, just breaking...Secretary of Defense Donald H.Rumsfeld is going to step down.

A good night just turned into a great morning.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Night Blogging!

Live from the Manse on Russian Hill, it's time for the 2006 mid-term election night running diary!

6:38 p.m. - Senate: So far, incumbents little Ricky Santorum in Pennsylvania and Mike DeWine in Ohio have gone down to defeat, with Ben Cardin winning in Maryland over Michael Steele (this one is based on exit polls and may change) and it looks like Lincoln Chafee will lose to Sheldon Whitehouse in Rhode Island. Ned Lamont's effort to unseat Joe Lieberman looks like it is going to fall short. Bob Menendez holds off Republican Tom Kean, Jr. in New Jersey.

So far, + 3 in the senate for the Donkeys (Cardin-MD, Casey-PA, Whitehouse-RI).

Tenn., Virginia, Missouri...all too close to call right now.

9:53 p.m.

After dinner from Polkers and setting up the new printer, we're back! The good news...the Dems have the House of Represenatives. The Dems are +23 in the House right now and still waiting on some others to come in. As of now, no Democrat incumbent has lost a seat.

The senate is getting interesting...Tennessee was just called for Corker, keeping Frist's seat in Republican control. Currently, Jon Tester is ahead of incumbent Republican Conrad Burns in Montana, Claire McCaskill just jumped ahead of incumbent Republican Jim Talent in Missouri, and the big one, in my home state of Virginia, looks like it's going to a re-count...Jim Webb is up over incumbent Republican George Allen by 2,726 votes.

Right now, Dems are +3 in the senate and they need to win everything outstanding to take both houses.

Update: CBS News just called Missouri to Claire McCaskill. If that holds, Dems just need Virginia to win the senate.

Say hello to the new Speaker of the House.

Friday, November 03, 2006

New laptop blogging

Heading out to new hip kid hot spot Double Dutch shortly, but I am posting on a newly up and running Dell E1505 Inspiron laptop. Still getting used to the keyboard, but liking it so far.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Things you can do between the ages of 18-29

-Buy smokes (age 18)
-Enlist in the military (also 18)
-Buy booze (21)
-Rent a car (25)

You can do all of these things (and more)...but, apparently, you're not supposed to have sex.

I have no problem with abstinence education being taught along side a traditional sex-ed curriculum, but this is bordering on (actually, it's crossing into) the absurd.

Consider the relevant statistic from the article:

"They've stepped over the line of common sense," said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that supports sex education. "To be preaching abstinence when 90% of people are having sex is in essence to lose touch with reality. It's an ideological campaign. It has nothing to do with public health."

Clearly, all conservatives are not living cloistered, sex-less existences (you can't get to the 90% figure with just liberals and undecideds doing all of the, ahem, heavy lifting) what to make of this? If I were what I would call a "traditional" conservative, I would be hopping mad (government in the bedroom is supposed to be a liberal thing). I imagine Libertarians are collectively ready to jump off a cliff.