Thursday, October 27, 2005

Unexpected by whom?

From the AP:

Miers' surprise withdrawal stunned Washington on a day when the capital was awaiting news on another front — the possible indictment of senior White House aides in the CIA leak case.


On the other hand, I really do expect surprises when Fitzgerald starts springing indictments. Yes, I think Libby will probably get smacked, and maybe Rove, but I think there's going to be collateral damage as well.

You read it here (except you probably won't have) first.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Can I Get a Witness

Every now and then I fall out of the habit of reading James Lileks. And then I think to call up his site and he's written something like this:

Please do not tell me about electric shavers. I go electric every other year or so, and they do not agree with my chin, and I get that too-bad-about-the-smallpox-dude look from strangers.


And now I have to start reading backwards through his calendar...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Racing to Irrelevance

Examine this screen capture from Yahoo! for irony:



So, according to the AFP, a majority of Americans now think the Iraq war was wrong. At the same time, a majority of Iraqis voted for a new Constitution.

What's wrong with this picture?

UPDATE 10/26: Okay, that was pretty obscure. The irrelevance race is between the Media and American public opinion's ability to make a difference in Iraq. Good first steps have been taken toward something like democracy there. They've got a long way to go before they're up to Brooklyn standards, let alone someplace civilized. But the more steps they take, the less difference it makes if the establishment Media would rather see Iraq fail than a U.S. Administration (particularly if it's Republican) succeed.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

PokerStars: The PhantomMut Menace

In about 30 minutes I'll be the PokerStars Blogger Championship. My goal is modest; I just want to make it to the first break. One hour of (free) poker.

I ask all my purely hypothetical readers to wish me luck....

UPDATE: Still in at 5:00, have $3,710 play dollars, and even better, some of it came from Wesley Crusher....

UPDATE: 6:00, 20K play money, 264 players left, current rank 32 (was as high as 30).

Wil Wheaton is done, and I wish I'd written down the name of the jerk from the first table who started berating me for driving him out of a hand....

UPDATE: 6:50, out in 121st position. Apparently I'm a pushy player...

Got sloppy toward the end. Last hand was indicative. Was down to 16K, tourney average was about 30, I think. Had A/3 of spades. I'm to the right of the button. Blinds are 1200. Guy across from me bets 3000, and I call. Flop is 3,4,5, no spades. I figure the guy across from me has two high cards, so I go All-in. He calls, the turn/river is K/8, my opponent flips A/K, and that's all she wrote.

So, no tee-shirt, IPod, or anything else. But with the field starting out at over 1400 participants, I'm okay with it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Poker and Politics

One of the things I remember in all the write-ups about Bush before the last two Presidential elections were all the quotes about how good a poker player he is. Well, I'm not much of one myself (I pretty much limit myself to play money) but I have learned a couple of rules-of-thumb. One of the best rules, I think, is to stop throwing money in the pot once you're pretty sure you have a losing hand.

I mean, bluffing is fine and all, but it only works if the other players believe you might have the winning hand.

No one who isn't named George W. Bush believes Harriet Miers is a winning hand.

Every day Miers is out there is another round of betting. Every day Bush is putting more credibility in the pot. Bush is going to lose this one. The question is whether at the end he's left with any credibility at all.

My friend Mike would say that Bush didn't have any credibility to start with, but that's a brand of wishful thinking. (Sorry Mike.) Bush won (and had coattails that increased Republican majorities in the House and Senate) because a majority of Americans trusted him more than they trusted Kerry. When Bush loses this fight, it's going to make the bad beat he took on Katrina look like a drop in the bucket.

Personally, I've pretty much reached the point where I no longer have a dog in this fight. The Republican Congress has shown itself to be more prone to fiscal idiocy than the Democrats. To give the Democrats credit, when they spend like drunken sailors they at least have high-minded principals to blame it on. When Republicans do it, they don't even have that fig leaf. I'm sorry, lowering taxes may in fact be a good thing (I think it is), but lowering taxes AND building "bridges to nowhere" looks at best corrupt, at worst corrupt and butt-stupid.

So yeah, if Bush squanders enough credibility to taint his entire party (not that they need much help) it certainly won't make me cry. In his first term he set some Foreign Policy precedents that needed to be set, and the recent election in Iraq (and the massive fall-off in violence during the election in comparison to the previous one) makes me more optimistic that the changes are going to stick. In other words, I'm ready to say that Bush did the job he needed to do, and now it's time to look to the future.

So right now my big complaint would be, can somebody show me a future?

Best case scenario: Bush comes to his senses, withdraws Miers, replaces her with somebody with an actual resume, and moves on. Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans continue to self-destruct and the Democrats take over both the Senate and the House in '06. (Maybe then Bush can figure out that veto thing.) Sometime in the near future Cheney retires and Condi Rice becomes Vice President. And in '08 a sane and smart Republican (who is also hot! hot! hot!) runs against a sane and smart Democrat (read: not John Kerry or Howard Dean).

Can these things happen? I think so. It pains me to say it, but the least likely part of that little scenario might be getting the sane and smart Democratic Presidential candidate. The Democratic Primaries amplify all their worst habits of the Party, and the more ripe the Presidency is for plucking, the stronger the amplification. So they wound up last time with the worst possible candidate. And without an incumbent Republican next time, the Democrats will have a golden opportunity to do even worse. (Which, come to think of it, would be to give Kerry the nod again. Hat tip: Karol.)

So getting back to poker, the political scene in Washington resembles the low-stakes play money tables on PokerStars.net; lots of bad bets, lots of weird hands falling, lots of trash talking, and damned little sense. I'm hoping that the real players are just sitting back, waiting for the dust to settle, before getting on with the very important business of professional gambling, er, politcs. If not, I just hope the stakes don't go up.

Weird Old World

Michael Jackson Called for Jury Service

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) - Authorities want Michael Jackson back in court - this time as a juror. Jackson received a jury summons at his Neverland Valley Ranch, four months after he was acquitted of child molestation charges.

Scene from a Jury Selection: Opposing attorneys look at the prospective juror, look at each other, and in unison say "Excused!"

Random Depressed Thought

Why don't the voices ever say things like "be nice to everyone you see today"?

Mother Accused of Tossing 3 Kids Into Bay
A woman who was hearing voices tossed her three young children off a pier into San Francisco Bay, authorities said. Rescuers had found one body, and the other two children were feared dead.


Via The Corner.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

What a drag it is getting old

Geezers still rocking the house!

For the biggest live acts, Bongiovanni says, a reputation for showmanship is the key selling point. "Neil Diamond's fans aren't coming to see him just because he may have a record coming out. They know that the guy's been around a long time, and he's always going to put on a good show. It's the same with Springsteen. Just because you've seen him before doesn't mean you don't want to see him again."


First off, I'm not sure how The Boss would feel about being lumped with Neil Diamond. Second, isn't there something a little sad about being content to relive past revelations all your life? Sure, seeing someone you saw years ago when you were young might be fun, but what if (as I suspect) the majority of those going to see Springsteen (or Diamond, for that matter) don't go out again to another concert until the next time Bruce or Neil come to the closest mega-Arena.

Maybe I'm just spoiled, and it's been at least a year since I've seen anyone perform, so I'm not one to talk. But it strikes me that there's a lot of talent out there getting oxygen deprived by acts that haven't had an original moment in 30 years.

Note to self: After the wedding, get back in the habbit of going out at least twice a month to hear some live music. Living in New York and not taking advantage of the music scene is, I think, somewhat retarded.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Condi is so hot!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Getting Close to God through National Misfortune

(via Alarming News):

Karl Rove Is On The Roof

I'm not a religious guy, usually, but this stuff is almost restoring my faith in God. It's really all coming apart for the Rethuglicans. Many of the major figures of the party are under indictment, or soon will be. Iraq is a disaster. The economy is fucked. The conservative base is finally pissed about something (The Miers nomination). Bush is on his way to being the least popular president in history. What could possibly happen at this point to turn things around for him? I don't even think another terrorist attack could bring up his numbers at this point (although I'm sure it's something they're considering).


It's hard to know what to wish for. Do we impeach Bush? Then who would we end up with? Cheney? Condi? I think it's better that he finish out his term. Imagine the damage he can do to the Rethugs in 3 more years. He is destroying them, just like he's destroying the Army and the National Guard....


Fitting that Mr. Bedazzled brought up belief in God as a result of the warm-and-fuzzy he gets when contemplating the tribulations of the Administration. Reminds me of the truly loathsome variety of Narcissistic Believer who thinks that he's better because God loves him more than he loves you.

Don't know what that Higher Power behind the knee-jerk anti-Rethuglicans is (Mr. Bedazzled, I know you read Karol's post because you responded on your site) but it certainly seems able to move a certain type to moments of unpretty rapture.

For what it's worth, Mr. B., I'll give you an analogy with training wheels to support Karol's thesis, which obviously went over your head: If you claim to love the car but hate the driver, rooting for a car wreck makes you look like an idiot.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

In the USSR, they called it a 9mm Aneurysm

Syria: Interior Minister Commits Suicide

What's the over/under on the method of "suicide" being a bullet to the back of the head?

Sophisticated and Sensitive Political Leadership

Howard Dean to the Black community:

All your votes are belong to us.

Ken Melman to the Black community:

Are you gonna take that from a white boy?

The whole thing makes me wish I could dye my skin green....

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

If a suicide bomber blows up in Oklahoma, can the New York Times hear?

I've written on this topic before (and once I get WhatsAPundit up and independent again I'll update this link) but the recent "stealth bombing" in Oklahoma illustrates again how selective the media can be in hyping a story.

20 year old rumors of slacking by a Texas Air National Guardsman? Front page for weeks, driving putatively sane newspeople into serious lapses, either of intelligence, ethics, or both.

A young man commits jihad-style suicide outside a college football game? Bury it on page 32.

Now, the facts on the ground are slim (but compelling) and the links to radical Islam are disputed (but if you were a member of a radical mosque, would you admit this guy was one of your own?). Neither is a justification for ignoring this story, which the mainstream outlets (for the most part) are doing. Hints and allegations are the precursors to investigation, and there are enough of both, I'd think, to send Pulitzer-hungry journos into a feeding-frenzy.

But somehow, this doesn't seem to be on any menus right now.

Let's flip this. Say that the young man had been sitting outside an abortion clinic, and that he had been attending a fundamentalist Baptist Church which had a previous member take a potshot at a doctor who performs abortions. (There's a point to this analogy; follow the links, as DeepThroat might say today.)

Do you think maybe The New York Times runs that front page above the fold? I thought you might.

What's the difference between the real world and my fantasy scenario? The real world evidence leads to a story a lot of people don't want to believe (namely, that radical Islam is a threat to United States, in the United States.) The fantasy scenario is one that a lot of people would believe immediately, because it fits an accepted world view.

This, friends, Romans, countrymen, illustrates bias. I don't for a minute believe (in most cases) that it's a conscious decision to help or hinder a particular politician or party. People (in most cases) aren't evil, and burying a story like the Oklahoma Jihad-style Suicide Bomber just to support a political agenda would be evil. After all, if radical Islam is reaching out to the potential nutcases in this country, let's face it; there is plenty of squirrel-bait to be found. This strikes me as a potential hazard.

The problem with bias isn't that it's an evil impulse; the problem is that it's a lazy one, and more disturbing, a fearful one. Let's face it; a mad anti-abortionist is less of a threat to most people (workers at Planned Parenthood excepted) than a random post-adolescent psycho who decides that 72 virgins (and a chance to get even with all those assholes) sounds like a good deal.

It's kind of axiomatic that terror thrives in societies that capitulate to fear.

Let's not be one of those. Let's kindly ask the press to do it's job, and go after this story. A healthy society really depends upon it.

Update: Here's another story you don't need to know about....

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Poker!

Poker Championship

I have registered to play in the
Online Poker Blogger Championship!

This event is powered by PokerStars.

Registration code: 2243588

Give TheGirl™ Some Love

TheGirl™ and I have been spending a lot of time on the cell phone between NYC and Amsterdam the last few days. The bonb scares have her a little edgy, and on my side it's always good to talk to her, even when she's planning for The End Of The World (and no, I'm not talking about TheWedding™).

If you love her (but you better not be lovin' her like I'm lovin' her!) give her a call. If she's got time, she'll talk your ear off. If she doesn't (and with TheWedding™ coming up, she may not) she'll let you know.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Return of WhatsAPundit

WhatsAPundit has been down, but not out. My ISP went bankrupt, their support phone has been assigned to another company, and I can't get the registration moved. So for now, I'm a blogger baby.