Free-Floating Hostility

Sunday, October 31, 2004


Why I read the style section

Well, from today's Times comes the latest in voter supression:

Last week an 18-year-old Marine recruit in West Palm Beach, Fla. was arrested for threatening to stab his girlfriend, partly, the authorities said, that she planned to vote for Senator John Kerry.

"You'll never live to see the election," he reportedly told her before sheriff's deputies subdued him with a Taser gun.

In other election news, my mother is headed to Saginaw, Michigan to watch the polls. She reports an itchy trigger finger on her cell phone to report any GOP attempts at voter supression. It should be noted that my mom is an absolute barricuda. My dad will also be watching the polls and he and my sister spent the weekend phonebanking for the good guys. My parents have already cast their votes for Kerry.

My wife contributed to the cause this weekend by kicking some guy at a Halloween Party after he suggested that anyone stupid enough to give their voter registration cards to Voters Outreach of America deserved to be disenfranchised. It should be noted that the kickee was the host of the party.

I prepared for the election by drinking all weekend in San Luis Obispo to mourn the meaninglessness of my own vote. The highlights of the trip were a great football game and a trip to Morro Bay. On the drive north this morning, however, I noticed how every paper had some story about couples who were voting for different people. This is only an interesting story if Tasers are involved.

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In which I plug other people's blogs

There's an interesting discussion going on at Rich's blog about what Democrats and Republicans seem to think about things. Jeff'y's blog includes his own response to Scotto and since I want everyone to read everyone's blog, here are the links.

It is also good to know that when Ryan is elected president his chief economic (Jeff'y) and foreign policy (Anna) advisers have the message worked out. As the future press secretary, that's a comfort.

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Thursday, October 28, 2004


Sox win

First off, congrats to Form, Josh, Jon Lemire and any other Sox fan who may stumble across this site today. It was a tremendous two-week run and I hope you all got some serious partying accomplished.

Now let's talk context. As I said last week, I don't see a Sox title as a world-changing event. There was some worry last night that the Sox winning the Series on the same night as a lunar eclipse might have been a message of some sort. I look forward to seeing articles about the Curse of David Cone and listening to Sox fans chant "2000" at the Yanks next fall.

This championship is clearly the first win for the Sabrmetric crowd, and will likely speed public acceptance of these ideas. Bill James, who served as a consultant for this team, may actually get a championship ring. After the Sox polished off his Yankees last week, Rich took issue with sportswriters both casting the Sox as a team of destiny and saying the Nomar trade made this possible, since Boston wouldn't have won with Mia Hamm's husband on the roster. Rich rightly points out that the sacrifice of Nomar's bat for Orlando Cabrera's glove doesn't actually make sense. But a look at this Sox team suggests that something else might be at work. This team may have been built with stats in mind, but more subjective factors took over at some point. This is crystallized by the Nomar trade.

My professional opinion is that "team chemistry," despite being an unacceptably vague term, is an important factor in the success of teams. Nomar's offense couldn't change the fact that he hated the franchise, alienated his teammates and (though this is just a rumor) claimed injury when should have been available to play.

Garciaparra became expendable after a series in New York in which the Boston defense cost it two games and then Nomar sat on the bench during the third game as Derek Jeter risked life, limb, and looks to go into the stand after a foul ball. Despite being a better offensive player than Jeter, Nomar failed the comparison test. And for a team that, before last night, lived in the constant shadow of the Yankees, to have one star shortstop so clearly out-intangible (I know, I know) the other was untenable. This, of course, was no reason to trade anyone. But Boston did anyway.

We probably read too much into the trade. Clearly the Sox's great finish had plenty to do with the fact that a team with the collective offensive skill of Boston is supposed to win 90+ games. But the timing of the run is part of the point.

Then go back to last year. The Sox waived Manny Ramirez and then tried to send him to Texas for A-Rod. Giving up a player like Manny is a no-no whether you're a stat freak or not, but Boston seemed ready to do it. Ramirez posted his usual great numbers this year, but by all accounts a he was a great clubhouse guy too (which he never was before.)

And I think that matters. While it was skill on the field that brought Boston back from 0-3 against the Yankees, I argue that it was the atmosphere in the locker room that allowed the team to believe it could come back. Belief that you can win is necessary, though never sufficient, in team sports. What the Sox championship proves is that baseball, with statistical laws that even I believe in, is still as much art as science.

Rich, and Jeff'y for that matter, may accuse me of sentimentality, but I would like to point out that I beat both of them at fantasy baseball this year.

6 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at October 28, 2004 10:31 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Any statistician will tell you (and I am applying to a biostatistics program, so I am the closest thing you've got) that you can't compare records from 162 games in the season to records from 19 or fewer games in the playoffs and say "see, the stats were wrong. It's really all about heart." Phooey to that. The playoffs are a proverbial crapshoot, because statistics can't predict the outcome of individual cases or even small numbers. And, listen very closely, neither can your nebulous criteria of winningmanship or whatever. The playoffs are great, dramatically speaking, but scientifically speaking they are crap. They can't be won except by luck, so don't make it out to be more than it is. Crap(s) being shot.

    --A

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at October 29, 2004 1:38 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Anna, that was the hottest thing I have ever heard a girl say. Don't tell Adele.

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at October 29, 2004 2:04 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Great post, Mike. First off, regarding you beating me in fantasy baseball, it was a statistical anomaly. Not to be hypocritical, but I would like to blame intangibles for that terrible season. My only solace after the Red Sox won the World Series and you beat me in fantasy baseball is that at least there is still some stability in this world--a Goldman will always win fantasy baseball.

    When the Red Sox traded Nomar, at the end of the day, they still had a great team. They spent a lot of money to build that team. It is a similar luxury the Yankees have had in their run. They can afford to make a couple of mistakes.

    "Belief" is necessary for success in baseball and in all things. You are saying that the Red Sox would not have believed in their ability to comeback if Nomar was on it. I am not sure what press-clipping you can point to that show Nomar didn't believe in the Red Sox. As a professional athlete who is used to success and playing on a winning team, I would give him the benefit of the doubt and say he would have believed the Red Sox could still win in the hole they had dug for themselves. Would his hatred of Boston management have poisoned the team and prevented them from "coming together?" The answer to this question is less clear. However, I have read articles that have indicated that Nomar was in contact with the Red Sox teammates during their comeback, offering them words of encouragement, and that the Red Sox even voted him a share of their playoff bonus! It sounds like Nomar was a good guy that everyone liked. So, I would propose that the Red Sox would never have been in such a big hole in the first place if a healthy Nomar was on their team. Additionaly, if they got into a hole, he would have helped them get out of it much better than Cabrera. It seems like Nomar was not bagging it and was truly injured during the season, so maybe it was better to have Cabrera than Nomar at the end, but not because of intangibles.

    Curses are stupid, of course, and the Red Sox were never a cursed team. There are reasons they haven't won a world series since 1918 or whenever, and that reason is mainly because the Yankees, the best team in baseball, were in their division and there was no wild card playoff spot to fall back on. Congratulations to you Red Sox fans, you've waited long enough.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at October 29, 2004 8:22 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • First of all, someone who claims to root for the Mets AND the Yankees should not be allowed to lecture anyone on baseball, despite his previous success at fantasy baseball.

    Second of all, I will explain the Nomar trade, because its mastermind, Theo Epstein is too busy devising a Sabremetrics system to evaluate which women from Boston he will sleep with considering there are only 24 hours in a day. (How many girls would gladly take off their Garciparra shirts for this guy now?)

    Anyway. This trade made complete sense. My first proof is from today's globe explaining that this trade was approved by the guru himself Bill James...

    http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/articles/2004/10/29/epstein_was_an_old_pro/

    For a more detailed explanation of how to run a successful franchise, please read Svenllama's email to me from days after the Nomar trade. This is must reading from every loser GM from the New York area who loves throwing money at washed up ego driven has been stars. http://svenllama.com/blog/archives/00000071.shtml

    Basically the jist of it was that investing in depth and lots of good players, as opposed to one or two great ones solves problems. You cover weaknesses, making your team more flexible. You prevent ego guys from messing up chemistry. And you stop injuries from messing up your season.

    So what do we learn from the Nomar trade regarding Sabremetrics and team chemistry? We learn that Sabremetrics, as stated in Moneyball (yeah I do not know how to hypertext to Amazon.com), does not tell the whole story. It does refute years of conventional wisdom and refocuses baseball analysis at the correct stats. However, once you are looking at the correct stats, intangibles and traditional baseball skills still play a role. Consider Kevin Millar in the late innings. If you just saw him as a slow fat guy, you miss the point. He works the count and knows the strike zone. That gets him the walk against Rivera. But it is also is chilled out approach which allows him to use his abilities in this situation (not freaking out and swinging at bad pitches). And then, it is knowing that Roberts can come in and steal a base and score from second. (And play the outfield in case Nixon gets hurt) And then, you can put in... I will not even try and spell his last name, for defense and to get you a bunt. The bottom line is that investing in James players does not preclude investing for clutch James players and enough flexibility to defend and run the bases. Plus, getting those guys in seperate players allows everyone to know their role and not try to do too much (use all their 5 tools, see A-Fraud).

    Maybe if Nomar was not a first pitch hitter, the Red Sox heirarchy would have kept him. But they got defense and depth, which complemented what they already had, and kicked out the only guy not to shave his head during last year's "Cowboy Up!" playoff run.

    In Theo we trust.

    Dave

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at October 29, 2004 4:40 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • The sabremetric evaluation of a player doesn't exclude the effects of psychology. In fact it absorbs it. If Millar's laid-back attitude allows him to control the strike zone, then that's reflected in his stats over time. Trying to build a team based on their getting along is hunting skunks underwater. There are simply too many untrackable variables involved. I disliked a fair number of you all when I first met you (though not Rich or Dave) but I'd play baseball with you now.
    --Anna

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at October 30, 2004 5:16 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Okay, I am not going to go into to this much more. If you want to argue with someone, Scotto has a big post on my blog that Jeff'y still hasn't responded to about why Bush is great.

    The fact remains that with Nomar, the Red Sox came within one out of going to the World Series last year, if I remember, and probably ending the curse a year earlier. Nomar was a boon to their team last year in the category of intangibles and I didn't hear a peep about his poor defense. How much can a person change in one year and how fickle can one team be?

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Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Brain-hanging for Kerry

In an effort to win the election by any means necessary, the GOP is dispatching people to polling places in Ohio to challenge voters as they attempt to cast ballots, presumably for Senator Kerry.

I believe the Democrats must answer this with an equally audacious tactic, recruiting groups of people to track down these vote challengers and hang brain on them. For those of you not familiar with the term "hanging brain," it involves rubbing your scrotum on things, especially foreheads.

Voter intimidation is the worst sin in American politics and someone needs to do something.

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Thursday, October 21, 2004


Because my wife's friends are hot

Anna's friend Catherine, who previously appeared as a bridesmaid in my wedding and is currently starring in a regional production of Proof, is also starring in this:

http://www.liegirls.com/

This link is decidedly unsafe for work.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Mike at October 26, 2004 12:46 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • UPDATE: This site has now been posted on Wonkette, which probably means that the site will be overrun with traffic and the service provider will kill it. Well, it was fun while it lasted.

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The Sox

I spent the week watching the ALCS with Anna, who is a Yankee fan. Out of the same sort of respect I employed for my Laker-fan colleague this summer, I did not rejoice in the manner of drunken Bostonian, screaming epithets at fallen Yankees or similar. That said, it was great to see the Yanks lose, if only to prove one that change is the only constant.

I, however, refuse to join in the chorus of people wondering if this comeback was a cataclysmic event in the history of American sport. I don't believe that the Yankees will now embark on an 80-year title drought. I don't believe that, from a baseball supremecy stadpoint, the 21st century will belong to Boston. Because above all, I don't believe in the curse, never did.
But here are couple of notes on the series:
  1. It's no fun when George Steinbrenner is gracious in defeat. He should have walked into the Yankee clubhouse and gone around firing everyone Trump style. I bet he even cried.
  2. A-Rod is a bitch. And for a guy who gets paid that much, what has he ever won?
  3. Curt Schilling has balls the size of West Virginia. I don't care what anyone says, taken in context Game 6 the most heroic performance in the history of sports. And don't come with the weak-ass "It wasn't the World Series" argument. Someone wins the World Series every year, seven innings like that are once in a lifetime.
  4. I think a lot of runs will be scored in the World Series.
  5. Who's having a better year than Dave Form? First, Davefest, now the (other?) impossible dream. What's next?

3 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at October 22, 2004 1:27 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I agree with your last comment about Dave. Don't forget, the Patriots won the Super Bowl, too. I know I did. This is the year of Dave. Just don't go out and break anything playing frolf.

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at October 22, 2004 6:16 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • He also got a big-time law-talking job working for Rich's dad. And he and his bride have a robot vacuum cleaner.

    Maybe I should start keeping kosher. Then the Cowboys might have a running game.

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at October 24, 2004 6:33 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Longtime lurker, first time poster.

    Michael was raised in a household where our [anyway my] favorite team was whoever was playing the yankees. Second favorite was whoever was playing the Los Angeles Dodgers. [This would come up from time to time in the World Series.] Third came the Mets, forth the Tigers, then a tie between Boston and San Francisco. Why the Giants, hated when in NY, became a favorite when in SF remains to this day an question for research.

    For some reason, young people from NY who by nature or nurture would have been expected to be Dodger fans had they been in Brooklyn, failed to properly bond to the Mets and corruptly became Yankee fans. Although, there was a time when the Yankees fell low, before Steinbrenner learned to buy the pennant each year.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Is God a flip-flopper?

Oy vey.

So we have this from CNN. Pat Robertson says that God told him that there would be loads casualites in Iraq while President Bush said there wouldn't be any. Meanwhile, we've learned in the past week that President Bush operates solely on faith.

This might suggest, and I'm just tossing this out here, that maybe interpreting divine will is not the best way to set military policy. Some (please Note the Fox-ish use of the word "some" to allow you, gentle reader, to demonize anyone you imagine would say anything so awful) might suggest that this is blasphemy. They might point to the success of Joan of Arc on the battlefield.

I would like to remind those people that Joan of Arc was French.

But this does pose a fascinating question: Who do you better trust to interpret God's will, George W. Bush or Pat Robertson?

4 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at October 20, 2004 4:16 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Those are my only choices? I'd pick a Teletubby. The one with a purse.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at October 21, 2004 7:54 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Holy Crap! (Pun Completely Intended). Mike is posting such interesting stuff about Mother-in-Laws and the Christain (Who's) Right(?) on the day the Red Sox nckjsbnckjhbhjvbb! Let me try to get what just happened at Yankee Stadium into the words and then I will try to post humorous and insightful responses to Mikey's comments.

    Dave

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at October 21, 2004 9:38 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • On behalf of all Yankees fans, I would like to quote some Shakespeare at Dave, Adele and the rest of the city of Boston.

    Thou didst usurp my place, and dost thou not
    Usurp the just proportion of my sorrow?
    Now thy proud neck bears half my burdened yoke,
    From which even here I slip my weary head
    And leave the burden of it all on thee.

    Enjoy Pujols.

    --Anna

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at October 22, 2004 1:23 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Did I post here and it got deleted? I knew you liberals were flip-floppers, but to take away free speech about the Red Sox? That's low.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2004


A visit from my mother-in-law

When my mother-in-law is nearby I feel a need to refer to her as my "mother-in-law." Not Anna's mom or Mary or Professor Gordon. I get a kick of the concept of having a "mother-in-law." It's like the thrill I got from using the word "fuck" when was 7. The usage seems almost transgressive. I this case though it's because I'm always a little surprised that I'm married. When I imagined my life as a teenager there was always a wife there, but she was an abstraction.

Often when I'm working or hanging out I'll get a sense of deja vu, like I've imagined one of the scenarios or stories I'm hearing before. One of the joys of being married, or at least my marriage, is how that never happens. The preconceived notions don't exist because Anna, in all her glorious specifics, never was someone I imagined. In that sense everything feels new because I never dreamed it before. Forget about the numbing routine, every day is interesting, thrilling, and perhaps a little nerveracking because it's all new.

It's always interesting of course to watch Anna and her mother interact. There's a strange competitive thing, which for some reason means that I get to eat chili. I like having parents out here, showing them our cute little town. It's not like the old days in New Mexico when we had to make jokes about how shitty our little town was to try and fend off the pity. It was a fun weekend and I ate well. I'm looking forward to hosting everyone at Christmas, though no, we won't be having dinner in a hotel.

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Friday, October 15, 2004


Irony alert

First the president insisted that John Kerry couldn't make up his mind about anything. But now he says that Kerry is a committed liberal?

So, which is it Mr. President?

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Wednesday, October 13, 2004


How we party in the Central Valley

Sacramento Fire captain Niko King wins quotation of the day honors

Scroll down to the end.

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Not Mariano Rivera, not B.K. Kim

So Kerry didn't finish off Bush tonight, but he didn't give it up to him either. Kerry won the first half hour and I really thought that Tony Soprano line would resonate, but I didn't hear much about it in the talkathon afterward. Bush never quite came all the way back. It was close enough and there were so many statistical attacks, it's hard to imagine that it really resonated with anyone. By the end I think the event collapsed under its own weight and ended with a self-deprecation contest.

The president, I think, tried to keep the smile on his face but he looked frustrated a lot. In three debates he never got Kerry on the defensive for a sustained period of time. Bush simulated passion by pounding on the podium like a monkey who wanted his damn banana.

In the end, a draw helps Kerry. It doesn't change the story from the earlier debates in which most people seemed to see Kerry as the winner. He's still the candidate on the rise. And as a part of the Democratic base, I have to say that I've really come to like Kerry during the debates. I won't have to hold my nose and vote like I did with Al Gore.

1 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at October 21, 2004 7:45 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Aren't you glad he wasn't Mariano Rivera? Look at me... I'm talking sh*t about the Sandman!

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How married life works

Anna and I have agreed that, should the prospect ever arise, we will engage in a partner swap with John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry. This is the only adultery clause built into our marriage, and only applies if we both get a Kerry.

On my end, I think the attraction is clear. With her accent and her attitude, Teresa is obviously the hottest woman in politics today (sorry Gov. Granholm(thanks to Nick for the better picture)). Anna believes that John Kerry is the man for our generation. While her mother would have slept with Clinton with or without her husband's support, Anna imagines coitus with a sex addict to be a joyless prospect, and not worth crafting an adultery clause. Kerry's virility and fine performance under pressure give the impression of a man who, she says, "gets the job done." Also, luckily for me, she has a thing for big noses.

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at October 13, 2004 9:42 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I was just going to say that I couldn't think of any scenario under which that prospect might arise, but then I just thought of one. Needless to say, it's really kinky.

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at October 19, 2004 2:29 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Adele says I have a big nose. Swap?

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Monday, October 11, 2004


The nature of the war on terror

If you have 30 minutes in the next week, read this article about Kerry's true position on the war on terror. It's already being distorted by the Bush administration, because that's what Bush does these days. Taken together, however, the pieces form the basis on a discussion we'll never have about the true philosophical underpinnings of the "war of terror."

When you take Kerry's argument as framed in the article -- that best way to combat terror is not full-on war, but actually a mixture of special-force military might, financial interdiction, alliance building, intelligence sharing and border patrolling -- you have something that can be argued as a far more effective approach. Bush acts as if this idea is absurd, that the only way to go after "terror" is militarily. This, of course, explains why our military force is currently concentrated in Iraq where al Qaida was an extremely non-existent presence before the U.S. attacked.

The Times Magazine piece (page 7 on the web version) makes clear that Kerry's ideas about combating terror groups grow from his work in the late 1980s regarding Latin American drug cartels. He found that international criminal enterprises relied on their ability to move its money around the world

Kerry did discover that a wide array of international criminals -- Latin American drug lords, Palestinian terrorists, arms dealers -- had one thing in common: they were able to move money around through the same illicit channels. And he worked hard, and with little credit, to shut those channels down.

Kerry understands terror groups as non-state actors, which seems a sound theory. In that framework, the Taliban's Afghanistan becomes the exception that proves the rule. Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar's relationship was too close to separate one from the other. Al-Qaida was based in Afghanistan, which means that it wasn't based anywhere else. Conventional military action, i.e. removing a government from power, seemed a legitimate choice in Afghanistan because it meant pursuing a country that was essentially a terrorist base. I can't name another country that fits that bill. Certainly, Iraq was not that. Further, if Bush's belief is that only the military can stop terrorist attack then we're fucked because the troops can't even defend themselves against car bombs in Iraq.

Kerry hasn't made that argument, insisting instead that he can pursue (note the double quotation marks) "'war on terror' more effectively." The Times magazine offers a glimpse into what that actually means. It proves that the difference between Kerry and Bush on terrorism is more than just stylistic.


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Friday, October 08, 2004


The second debate

Saving me the trouble of putting up two links (I'm still new at this blogging thing), the Associated Press helpfully moved this story saying that the latest Iraq and economic news will frame the discussion. I'm hoping that rude pundit gets his wish from Kerry, but I'm not holding my breath. All the news is positive for the Democrat, with today's job numbers weaker than expected (96,000 in September when 150K are needed just to keep up with population growth) and Iraq continuing to be smoldering hell-hole for, like, the thousandth straight day.

It will be interesting to see what the split is on domestic and foreign policy questions tonight. I hope Charlie Gibson, the moderator (sigh, where have you gone Jim Lehrer,) chooses a representative sample of questions meaning that if 60 percent of the full pool of questions are about the war, then 60 percent of the selected ones will be. I imagine he'll try to impose some thematic order on the night, which sucks when you think about it. I want to see these guys on their feet quickly switching gears between foreign and domestic topics. I want to see Bush answer for his jobs record and North Korean nukes in rapid succession. The president has to be able to multi-task, to keep a lot of the different strands in his head, in the parlance of our times.

One fascinating part of last Thursday's debate was how our president's positions have become so simplistic that he couldn't fill his alotted two minutes talking about them. And tonight he'll have even fewer facts to fold into his answers to expand them to the full two minutes. As he came to the end of his canned answer and saw that his light was green, his famed discipline abandoned him and he started to ramble. Tonight he will get to use some of his time to try and connect with the questioner, which should help him appear as though he has enough to say. But Bush loses the election tonight if seems as petulant with average Americans challenging him as he did with Kerry's challenges last week. Bush has been going town halls with hand-picked audiences for months. He hasn't faced tough questions in a long time.

Kerry is up in the latest AP poll, but is behind in the majority of the polls. But if he can win tonight, I might remove the caution from my optimism.

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Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Iraq? It's fine, it's great

Nearly a week after John Kerry all but bent him over the podium in Miami, President Bush has finally decided to go on the attack. His new stump speech is almost entirely negative blasting Kerry for all sorts of stuff. The policy shift was summed up by this blind quote in Thursday's New York Times

"Look, the decision's been made that the president just isn't going to get into an introspective mode of 'we could have done this better,' " said one administration official who sat in on many of the campaign's strategy meetings. Such concessions, the official said, would "play right into" Mr. Kerry's argument. There was a time for Mr. Bush to make such concessions, the official said, but "that moment passed months ago."



It's hard to see how this strategy is any change at all. Perhaps it means our president will bravely risk concussion by more forcefully burying his head in the sand. I hope so. I guess the only thing we have to worry about now is Bush pulling a Cheney in the final debate and deciding on to discuss the facts in bizarro America.

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No pundit left behind

It's hard to resent the post debate blather-on-a-thon when it comes up with gems like this. Despite Vice President Cheney's assertion that he had never met John Edwards during the debate, the pair had actually met three times. In fact at the prayer breakfast whose picture you'll see all over the place, Cheney even mentioned Edwards by name in his remarks.

It's a crappy little thing, one that I would probably dismiss if the shoe were on the other foot. But it seems the perfect analogy for Cheney's debate performance, which seemed so strong at the time but in the light of day (a beautiful California day, no less) is acutally a piping hot pile of bullshit. Cheney spoke forcefully last night. He answered every Edwards attack by dispassionately distorting the truth at every turn. It's an effective style as you watch because there is no simultaneous fact-checking and you think, "My God, Edwards has no answer for that." This morning I can content myself in the knowledge that he wasn't prepared to debate what was happening in bizzaro Iraq rather than the real one.

Cheney's problem is that he is an ideolouge, which means he knows the answers before he hears the question. When he comes to holes in his reasoning, he just makes facts up. And even things that are objectively good like the elections in Afghanistan are tinged with Florida-like inconsistencies. The desire for good reports out of the Bush-Cheney camp outweighs the desire for true reports. I'll write more about Iraq descending into a pit of hell later.

Anyway, Cheney made one attack that might stick, the one about Howard Dean. On the other hand Edwards's refrain, that the Bush-Cheney administration failed to be "straight with the American people," will have some legs as well. Cheney beat Edwards stylistically, but he didn't score any points against John Kerry. That in the longrun means a victory for the Democrats.

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger dodger at October 06, 2004 6:43 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Problem is, the media lay down in front of Cheney's lies.

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at October 06, 2004 8:55 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • You write that Cheney "answered every Edwards attack by dispassionately distorting the truth at every turn." and that's partly true, in that there was plenty of distortion. But what really struck me is how often Cheny simply ignored Edwards's attacks and criticisms--whether it was over his voting record in the House, his recommendation as Secretary of Defense to cut weapons systems, Halliburton, or the question asking specifically about Bremer's comments regarding initial troop deployment, Cheney got away with saying little or nothing in response.

    I'm sure that this was their planned strategy, and I'm afraid that it was pretty effective. By not responding to the charges and getting into a protracted debate over them (there's no debating here, this is the...), he's effectively removing them from the domain of discourse. Plus, yes, he obviously can't respond without lying or looking like an ass.

    Cheney came off as being experienced enough in comparison to Edwards that such a brush off worked; if Bush carries himself the way he did in the first debate, I don't think he'd be able to employ a similar strategy.

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Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Look at me, I have a blog

Since all anyone cares about in the news business these days is the blogosphere, I figured I'd better pick up an entry. So here I am. Howdy.

My plan is write about politics, sports, and television, the things I spend much of my life thinking about deeply or at least constantly. The primary consequence of this has been walking around this quaint California suburb in a haze, forming arguments and trying to figure out clever things to say in various social situations.

Perhaps the decision to start blogging will get me out of those various social situations, since this is about the singlemost nerdy thing anyone can do. But anyway, here goes nothing...

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at October 06, 2004 8:42 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • My blog-induced problem is that I end up posting everything remotely interesting that I have to say (which, yes, isn't much), and then I end up either repeating myself to people I talk to or secretly resenting them for not reading my blog. Except sometimes the resentment is overt.

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at October 10, 2004 6:29 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Because I did not want to sign up for my own blog (more on that later), I am forced to use Blogger's Anonymous posting tool. Unfortunately, Anonymous posting makes me look like a coward who cannot attribute his name to his thoughts in the public sphere, which is not the case. I am David Form (you might remember me from such blogs as 34 and....). Anyway, I wanted to post here to address my new blog policy considering that I do not want to add to the blog confusion with a blog of my own. Actually, I do not give a sh*t about blog confusion, I just think me having a blog would piss off my wife, as I would be subjected to daily comments like, "Dave, what have you been doing on the computer for the last 3 hours?" as I try to carefully craft sentences to describe the concepts that defy language. See Control and Determinism and the emotional anguish of a Red Sox playoff loss. Which brings me to the second reason why I will not have a blog, that being I cannot hyper-link in posts to previous posts of metaphysical discussions. Which is like a meta-post.

    Regardless, I will not be starting a blog anytime soon. But in order that am I not accused of cheating on 34, I will clarify my policy. I will respond to whatever is posted on either blog. I will go to 34 for New Yorker inspired cleverness, urban musings, and jokes about faxing ,as well as metaphyiscal angst. However, when I want to talk about sports or not wear a tie and say "F@ck" a lot, I will turn to Free-Floating Hostility. I think that is fair. And because sports is being talked about, may I direct one Joey Samuels to the Free-Floating Hostility.

    Question: where do I go to get my Banana movie reviews?

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