Thursday, February 28, 2002

MAUREEN DOWD LAMENTS THE ABSENCE OF ALPHA WOMEN IN THE CIRCLES OF POWER
Why is that? Dowd offers some suggestions:

Could it be that alpha men do not want to share their alpha zone with alpha women?

Could it be that they don't want women to challenge them, question them or, heaven forbid, outmaneuver them?

Could it be that they prefer the less competitive and more appreciative company of beta, gamma and va- voom girls?


Or, could it be that the adult world (both men and women) value gamma people skills, people "who care more about what they do than how they appear."?

And why is this a bad thing? It seems like the alpha-girl culture in schools leads to a lot of bullying, depression, conspicuous consumption, eating disorders, and school shootings. It seems like we should be concentrating on breaking the alpha-girl culture in schools rather than trying to promote it in the world of grown-ups.

You wonder how Dowd would react if Laura Bush or Condi Rice were a catty alph-girl type, criticizing reporters for their wardrobes, and making fun of, say Janet Reno, for her appearance. Kinda doubt she'd like it too much, and be lambasting the Bush administration for their "sttyle over substance" brand of leadership, as evidenced by this behavior.

You really think Paul Wolfowitz was the most popular guy in his high school? Bill Gates? Jack Welch? Dick Cheney? Donald Rumsfeld? Most of the alpha characters , male and female, reach their peak in high school. Somehow, Dowd managed to avoid that fate.
A LIBERAL "WHOPPER OF THE WEEK!"
First one I remember in quite a while. And one pointed out by Jonah Goldberg!

On second thought, I'm not sure most liberals are eager to claim Sharpton as one of them. Still, it's quite a change from the usual Administration official or Enron exec.
REVEREND BENEDICT J. GROESCHEL DOES A POOR JOB OF RESPONDING TO CHARGES
that the Church hiearchy has been lax in responding to charges of pedophilia.

Fr. Groeschel blams the culture of realativism that attacks the Church becuase it doesn't want to hear the Church's condemnation. I agree there's soom truth to that, by Dreher is one of of the more strident defenders of the Church's position on sexual moraility.

What's more troubling is that Fr. Groeschel reaches for the same excuses the relativists use -- "Well, we didn't know pedophilia was so bad," "well, we couldn't be sure the acusations were true,", "there were lawsuits to contend with," "you have to understand what the Church was dealing with." These excuses that are the hallmark of relativism!

I think the answer is to de-mystify the clergy. We've put these men up on a pedestal and given them too much power. If we are truly a "Body of Christ," we canot continue to let the clergy tell us that we can accept excuses for not punishing pedophilia, but not accept them for other sins.

Fr. Groeschel closes by pointing to the pronography on TV and the media. I agree this is a problem, but media outlets don't calim to be looking out for children's best interest. Our clergy are, and they should rightly be held to a higher standard. TV's and computers can be switched off, and their influence can be stifled with a solid foundation of teaching. A molesting priest who you have been trained all your life to trust cannot be silenced that easlily.
ON THE RADIO
Th big controversey on St. Louis radio is the latest firing of J.C. Corcoran, who is the Billy Martin, or Mike Keenan, or Connie Chung of St. Louis morning radio. He's been in town about 18 years, and hosted the morning show for about 10 different radio stations. Here's the usual pattern: Radio station with lousy morning numbers hires Corcoran. Station's morning numbers jump up, since Corocoran has a fan base that will follow him around the dial. After about a year or so, the station decides that the numbers aren't worth the money and aggravation he brings, and they dump him. Then the pattern repeats itself on another station. To be fair, sometimes Corcoran is dumped because the station changes it's format, and Corcoran is no longer a good fit. That's partly what happened to him this time.

Anyway, it was interesting this morning because another radio station had him on where he was whining about how he has an unfair reputation for being obnoxious that is being advanced by a few people with personal vendettas against him, and if people really knew him, they'd know the reputation was false. If there's one thing more obnoxious then Corcoran, it's Corocoran whining about how unfair his reputation is. Plus, I don't buy the "if people really knw me..." defense. Corcoran has been on the radio 4+ hours a day, five days a week for most of 18 years. I think he's been sufficiently exposed to St. Louisans so they could form an informed opinion of him. Of course if Corcoran never whined about how unfair his reputation is, he'd lose half his material.

Meanwhile, on his old station, they had on the afternoon guy with thre rest of the folks who were in Corcoran's show. And they took calls with comments on the changes (they also tweaked their musical format a bit), and it was people complaining about how lousy it was that Corcoran got sacked.

Now, lots of people get laid off every day when their companies no longer find their services neccesary. Most don't get to get on the radio and whine about their misfortunes. Whether it's worth it for a music radio station to pay 6 figures for a controversial morning guy is a debatable point. Their decision not to isn't some travesty of justice.

As I guess you can tell, I never cared for Corcoran's show. I like to listen to music in the morning, and I like the music this station plays the rest of the day, so I'm glad they'll be playing music in the morning. I never saw the appeal of listening to a bunch of semi-talented hacks chat about last night's Cardinals game on my way to work. Plus, it seemed like Corcoran spent half his show either shilling his book or talking about who was going to be on the show the next day. The rest of the time was either spent with interviews with B-list celebrtities or defending Corcoran's reputation. Forgive me if the appeal is lost on me.

UPDATE: I think the Billy Martin comparison came from the St. Louis Post-Dipatch's review of Corcoran's book. The Mike Keenan and COnnie CHing comparisons are my own.
WHY IS IT?
When people criticize Clinton for his soft policies on global terrorism, and his down-talking of America in his current speeches, they're "haters", bit it's OK to recycle false stories about Bush 41 not recognizing a supermarket scanner and beat him over the head for an off-the cuff remark about Marin County hot-tubbers?

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

JAMES LILEKS HAS A GREAT SCREED
about a Guardian reporter's visit to an Alabama Olive Garden. Too good to excerpt.
BILL SIMMONS TAKES ON "SPORTS BIGAMY" AND OTHER FAN MISDEMEANORS TODAY.
I was confronted with my own sports bigamy in this year's NFL playofss. I grew up in South Jersey, and thus rooted for the Eagles. I moved to St. Louis, and it's pretty hard not to be a Rams fan living in St. Louis. They're an exciting team, they have great players who seem to be good guys, and they took us on a great ride two years ago just about when fans were starting to turn against them.

Of course, this year, the Rams played the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game, and I had to root for the Eagles. But I wasn't too disappointed when the Eagles lost that game, since I could still root for the Rams. Oddly, I probably would have been more distraught at the Super Bowl result if it were the Eagles losing rather than the Rams. So, if neither the Rams or the Eagles were going to win the Super Bowl, the way things played out was probably the best I could hope for, in terms of my own personal trauma.

Does this make me a "sports bigamist?" I don't know. Simmons's article doesn't cover what happens when you move, so I think I have a loophole.

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

ANNA QUINDLEN HAS A "REPUBLICAN ARE BAD" COLUMN
In it, she repeats the legend of how then-President George H.W. Bush was so out of touch that he marvelled at a common supermarket barcode scanner. What she doesn't say is that that story is a tall tale.

One year at college, I think it was in 1994-5, when the "Contract with America" midterm elections were happning, I was really good about attending the weekly lecture series. One week, James Carville was the speaker, and he mentioned how this story was never true. Bush was at a grocer's convention, and someone showed him a device that could weigh groceries and repair broken labels. Bush reacted like most of us would -- "hey that's pretty neat," and that was recorded in the Houston Chronicle. A New York Times reporter saaw this as his opportunity to portray Bush as out of touch and created the legend that President Bush was amazed at an ordinary grocery store scanner. You can read more about this here. I find it hard to believe that Quindlen is unaware of the falseness of this story, so here repeating of it here in an effort to draw parallels with George W. Bush is irresponsible.

Quindlen also makes a clumsy effort to associate Enron with Republicans. See, Enron was a big business, and Republicans are the party of big business, so it's their fault. I'm not buying.

Monday, February 25, 2002

GLENN REYNOLDS POINTS TO EVEN POLL RESULTS IN HIS FOX CLONING ARTICLE TO VALIDATE HIS POSITION ON CLONING
He even says this is surprising since Fox is "conservative." The only mitigating factor he admits is that the web population is more liberatarian than the country at large.

What Reynolds fails to mention is that most people got to the article either from his own website or from other blogs and websites that are sympathetic to his point of view. (I don't think the link from here exactly produced a bonanza of hits). Naturally, this will lead to polll results that are in line with the author's position.

By Reynolds doesn't stop there. Confronted with a TIME poll that's less friendly, Reynolds reverts to his usual strawman bashing by saying that "the biggest reason for given for opposition is that it's 'against God's will' ."

Er, not quite. The biggest reason cited was religious beliefs at 34%. There was a separate question on the poll that asked whether or not cloning was agiainst God's will, and 69% said yes. (I could not tell if this question was addressed to all participants or just those opposed to cloining. The web site is a bit ambiguous.) Reynolds conflated these 2 questions, either accidentally or on purpose, to reach the conclusion that the biggest reason for oppposing cloning is that it's "against God's will."

This is a gross oversimplification. "Religious beliefs" can entail much more than just "it's against God's will". I would oppose slavery because of my religiouis beliefs, as would most people, and we could all probably back that up with more than, "it's against God's will."

As I've mentioned before, the cloning debate seems to bring out the worst in Reynolds, leading him to resort to strawman bashing and misleading use of polls.
ANDREW SULLIVAN SAYS IT'S NOT A BIG DEAL THAT
Congress past CFR even if they thought it was unconstitutionsal because they couldn't know the Court would find it so with "metaphysical certainty." Since "metaphysical certainty" is impossible, memebrs of Congress are absolved from any duty to scrutinize bills they favor for Constitutionality.

Sorry, I don't buy it. Congress and the president took an oath to "protect and defend" the Contitution. If I've taken an oath to "protect and defend" your life, I don't let a masked gunman past me, regardles of whether or not there's a "metaphysical certainty" that he will try to harm you, or if I think the folks behind me will stop him before he does any damage. He represents a credible threat; I cannot let him by me.

Sullivan compares this to representatives passing abortion restrictions despite the Supreme Court finding them unconstitutional. I disagree, because I think the representatives in question disagree with the Supreme Court that the restrictions are unconstitutional. I think most members of Congress recognize that some aspects of CFR are unconstitutional, but are voting for it anyway for political expediency.

This represents a serious break from their oath, one they cannot slither out of just because the Court's decision is not "metaphysically certain."
THE MEDAL COUNT
I often wonder why anyone would feel more patriotic or have greater self-esteem because their athletes won so many medals in the Olympics. Especially the winter Olympics, with weird sports like snowboading, luge, short track, curling, skeleton, and figure skating.

I'm not sure how the skills these sports require translate into the real world. Sure, all these sports require hard work and determination, but so does anything else.

My patriotism and self-esteem isn't based on Sarah Hughes ability to nail a tripl-triple combination.
GONE BY UNPOPULAR DEMAND: NEWS SITE WATCH
Sorry, just got burned out doing it, and I don't think it provided a service people were calmoring for.. If you disagree drop me a line, and I may start it up again.

Thursday, February 21, 2002

PRO-CHOICERS DON'T LIKE IT WHEN PRO-LIFERS PUT THEIR MONEY WHERE THEIR MOUTHS ARE
This Washington Post article outlines efforts from pro-choice groups to block pro-life organizations that offer alternatives to abortions.

A popular slam pro-choicers direct at pro-lifers is that we're all talk. We only care about the unborn; we have no sympathy for the mothers. Every pro-lifer should be required to adopt an unwanted child. Yadda yadda yadda.

Now we have pro-lifers who are putting their money and time where their mouth is. And how do the pro-choicers react? By working with them on this common ground? Of course not! They react by getting their friends in the media and the governement to try to shut the pro-lifers down!

Do we need more proof that the pro-choice movement is much more "pro-abortion" than "pro-choice?
GLENN REYNOLDS HAS ANOTHER EXCERCISE IN ANTI-CLONING STRAWMAN BASHING
Reynolds steers clear of the argument that theraputic cloning entails the creation of an embryo that will be destroyed, but he's taken that on before. To employ his techniques, his answer is, "I don't see it that way."

Why is this an acceptable answer, but "moral revulsion" is not an acceptable reason to oppose human cloning?

I challenge Reynolds and the other anti-cloning strawman bashers to make a case against anything -- racism, murder, the Holocaust, police brutality, stealing, etc. that doesn't utimately boil down to moral revulsion, or "I don't like it" if an interrogator asks "Why?" long enough.

Why is it so good that cloning should extend people's lives? Well, because I love my wife, and I'd like to keep her around. That's great, but at the end of the day, it's "I like it."

We're guided by our consciences. Like it or not, most of our laws and policies were arrived at by our internal sense of what's right and what's wrong. Reynolds say that our consciences shouldn't be trusted, because following them led to segregation. That may be true, but we know that that's because those consciences were formed poorly becuase of the environment of racism. Is the moral revulsion to cloning based on a poorly informed conscience? If so, how? Why are our consiences wrong in this case, and why shouldn't we trust them?

Our consciences are correct most of the time. It seems to me that before one discounts the conscience's input into ethical deicisons like this, one should demonstate why the conscience is incorrect in that case. It is not sufficient to merely say that people's consciences have been wrong before.
TAINTED GOLD
Something was fishy about the disqualification of Ahn Hyun-Soo, and subsequent awarding of the gold to American Apolo Anton Ohno. I though jockeying for position was part of the sport, and that the lead skater had the right of way. It looked to me like Ohno simply realized he didn't have enough steam to pass him, and backed off.

Hey, I know Ohno worked hard for his gold medal, and I don't mean to diminish thhe accomplishment. I just think theat Ahn Hyun-Soo deserved better than to be disqualified by jusges moved by a hometowm corwd cheering on an athlete who had been screwed earlier.
NEWS SITE WATCH
Another entry in a regular feature, outlining the stories receiving top billing at news and news commentary sties around the web. E-mail me if there's a site that I should add to my tracking list.

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

THE SALON ARTICLE
I cite below is hidden behind the premium service. This is a shame, because I would have liked to read the article to get a better idea of the facts so I could write Gov. Holden and tell him what I think about this. But now I won't Maybe I'lll have the time to research elsewahere; maybe I won't. Regardless, I won't be informed by Salon's reporting. It's a shame that Salon has pretty much managed to silence its own voice.

I'm embarrassed by the number of executions that take place in Missourri. I'm glad the pope was able to stop one, but Missourri continues to execute about one prisoner a month. This has all happened while two Democratic governors have been in office, oddly enough. It's a black mark on our state.
NEWS SITE WATCH
Another entry in a regular feature, outlining the stories receiving top billing at news and news commentary sties around the web. E-mail me if there's a site that I should add to my tracking list.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

LOTS OF BLOGS SEEM TO BE DOWN TODAY
If I had to guess why, I'd say it's the PayPal links, since other blogpsot blogs (including this one) are working.
Serves them right, the greedy bastards! (just kidding).
NADER WOULD HAVE PREVENTED THE ATTACKS

Matt Welch cites a key point in a Chicago Tribune interview with Ralph Nader...


Q. Would you have made an effective wartime president?
A. This war would never have happened had I been president, because for 30 years we have had an aviation safety group, and we have been urging the airlines to toughen cockpit doors and improve the strength of the locks, and they have been resisting for 30 years.


I can think of any number of reasons why this is false. Among them...

Yeah -- that would have stopped 'em! If we had tougher cockpit doors with locks, the terrorists couldn't have hijacked the planes, and would be so frustrated that they'd have given up completely on the idea of killing American civilians. It all could have been avoided with some stronger doors!

And Nader would have gotten those doors all installed in the first eight months of his presidency!

Never mind that the terrorists got the pilots out of the cockpit by killing the flight attendants. I guess the pilots would have been stopped by these doors in their attempts to stop the hijackers.

Urgh! --- I wonder who Nader thinks he's kidding.
THE EXPANSION DRAFT
I loved how they tried to make a big media event out of the Houston Texans' expansion draft. With only one team drafting, the whole thing probably could have been done in a back room somewhere in 10 minutes, and I'm sure the entire list of players was set beforehand. And it's not like it's a big deal that teams could "pull back" players. The Texans coulsd always wait a round or two before selecting another player from that team -- it's not like they're going anywhere. I guess it's a way for the NFL to stay in the news after the season is over. As such ploys go, it beats announcing the contraction of two teams that everyone knows won't take place.
NEWS SITE WATCH
Another entry in a regular feature, outlining the stories receiving top billing at news and news commentary sties around the web. E-mail me if there's a site that I should add to my tracking list.

Monday, February 18, 2002

HOCKEY THOUGHTS
Looking good: Sweden, US, Russia
Not looking good: Canada

I think a lot of the American players, especially Chirs Chelios, Brett Hulll, Keith Tckachuk, and Jeremy Roenick, have the feeling that they let a lot of people down with their performance on and off the ice in Nagano. And It hink they're working hard to do better this time. They've looked great on the ice.

I don't know what's with Canada. They look like they're more afraid to lose than eager to win.

About NBC's coverage -- there's got to be a better way to generate revenue than to try to squeeze a 30 second commercial in a 15 second break. Once yesterday during a commercial, play had resumed, a penalty had been called, the player had been sent to the box, play resumed again, and the puck was cleared before the commercial break was over. They're going to miss a goal soon, and look foolish for doing so.
ENOUGH ABOUT THE DAMN PAIRS SKATERS!
Watching NBC's coverag, you'd swear it was the only sport going on. It seems like Bob Costas is constantly saying something like this "Coming up -- another interview with Sale and Pelletier, for their reactions on today's news, which is the same as yesterday's news!" I see those two on TV all the time, and it's enough already!
NEWS SITE WATCH
Another entry in a regular feature, outlining the stories receiving top billing at news and news commentary sties around the web. E-mail me if there's a site that I should add to my tracking list.

Sunday, February 17, 2002

NEWS SITE WATCH
Another entry in a regular feature, outlining the stories receiving top billing at news and news commentary sties around the web. E-mail me if there's a site that I should add to my tracking list.

Saturday, February 16, 2002

NEWS SITE WATCH
Another entry in a regular feature, outlining the stories receiving top billing at news and news commentary sties around the web. E-mail me if there's a site that I should add to my tracking list.
I'M BEING WATCHED
Thanks Will, for including me. I would say that I'm easily the least established writer on the list, so I'm thankful for the inclusion. I think I better come up with a better name for this space, though...

Friday, February 15, 2002

"COMPULSORY DANCE"
If it's compulsory, it isn't really a dance, is it?
ROBERT WRIGHT HAS ANOTHER MULTILATERALIST PIECE
and I've got another Fray rejoinder.

You can almost see the wheels turning in Wright's head -- "Those critics of mine are so selfish and crass, I'll turn their selfishness and crassness against them so they'll see things my way! I'm so darn smart!" Of course his piece assumes that Europeans are objecting out of principle rather than their own selfishness and crassness.

This is the mistake Wright makes almost every week -- argue that US's position isn't nuanced enough while simplifying other nations' actions to the point of absurdity.
JEFFERSON MORLEY HAS AN INTERESTING ARTICLE
about how Deomcrats played right into Republican hands with their fanatical reaction to the expansion of CHIP benefits to unborn children.

I posted a response to the article. I would say that if I really thought about it, the number one reasson why I usually vote Republican is the Deomcrats' intolerance and demonization of anyone who would dare propose restrictions on abortion.

Seriously, isn't the expansion of services a good thing? Does that changing of the language have any real impact? No, but it makes the pro-lifers look good! We can't have that!

Kind of makes you wonder who's out for people's best interests, and who want to sacrifice services for narrow principle?
NEWS SITE WATCH
Another entry in a regular feature, outlining the stories receiving top billing at news and news commentary sties around the web. E-mail me if there's a site that I should add to my tracking list.

Thursday, February 14, 2002

KATHRYN J. LOPEZ COMPARES SKATING JUDGES TO UMPIRES AND REFEREES
But as I point out below, the comparison doesn't really hold. In most instances, umpires and referees do not control the outcome of the game. And even when they do, the participants could have done things before that would have taken the contest out of their hands. If your team hits home runs and your pitcher makes all the hitters swing and miss or pop out weakly, there's not much even the most corrupt or incompetent umpire can do to change the outcome of the game. That's why the Black Sox conspirators paid off the players to fix the game, not the umpires. It seems it would be a lot cheaper to bribe a few umpires than eight players, but that wouldn't work.

In figure skating, the outcome is neccesarily in the hands of the officials. There is nothing the participants can do to overturn that. If one wanted to fix a figure skating competition, you wouldn't pay off the skaters to screw up, you'd pay off the judges.

I think I may have just stumbled upon a pretty good rule to determine whether something's a sport -- who would you pay off to fix it? In soccer, basketball, baseball, football, tennis, car racing, horse racing, speed skating, skiing, hockey, or golf, you'd go after the key players, thus they're sports. In figure skating, snowboarding, gymnastics, and dog shows, you'd bribe the judges, thus they're athletic exhibitions or events.

I'd be interested if anyone could provide a counter-example to this rule.
ROD DREHER WONDERS WHY BISHOPS WON'T STOP A GAY DANCE
I'll tell you why -- the Church cannot afford to alienate anyone. Besides, how exactly would it look with all the revelations of cover-ups od pedophilia for bishops to come down hard against a college dance. The cries of hypocrisy would be immense -- bishops don't have a problem with priests molesting boys, but they do have a problem with college kids having a dance? Talk about an indefensible position!

I'm not sure how I feel about gay marriage, but I'm quite sure the Church shouldn't be going out of its way to further alienate gays.
SPELLING ERRORS -- THE KEY TO CHEAP GOOGLE HITS
I misspelled "controversy" as "controversey" below, leading to several google hits from googlers making the same mistake. It makes sense they would find me -- the coverage from the established media wouldn't let an error like that get out. That's one thing the traditional media is good at. But I have no editor to tell me about my silly misspellings, so they go out to be googled by all my fellow careless spellers. If that's how you got here, welcome.

Bryan Preston had a similar thing happen to him when he replaced the 'm' with a 'k' in the word "named," leading to lots of hits from folks looking for immodest pictures.

So, if you notice any other spelling errors, they're not really errors. They're deliberately there so I can artificially grab traffic from Google. (;-)
"-GATE" WATCH
Glenn Reynolds refers to the planting of lynx hairs in an area so it can be blocked from development as "Lynxgate."

ESPN refers to the pairs skating controversey as "Skategate."
NEWS SITE WATCH
Another entry in what is apparently a regular feature, outlining the stories receiving top billing at news and news commentary sties around the web. E-mail me if there's a site that I should add to my tracking list.

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

HOW PHONY DOES TOM BROKAW LOOK
wearing that open windbreaker over his sweater and turtleneck reading the news from SLC? I guess we're supposed to believe he's outside in the 10 degree weather (in which case I'm pretty sure he'd zip up that windbreaker, or in a drafty cabin warmed only by the fake fire, not in a high-tech studio with central heating and bright lights and a contrived look of ruggedness. Come on! -- and people wonder why Americans are losing faith in the media.
NEWS SITE WATCH
Another entry in what is apparently a regular feature, outlining the stories receiving top billing at news and news commentary sties around the web. E-mail me if there's a site that I should add to my tracking list.

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

CONTROVERSEY IN FIGURE SKATING
Jim Caple outlines last night's conrtroversey.

I think this why a lot of "real sports" fans look down on judeged sports like figure skating. If a football or hockey player complains about a call, you can always say that they should have converted on some other plays so it didn't come down to an official's call. But what can you tell Pelletier and Sale? The sport neccesarily puts the result in the official's hands. I think Pelletier saus it best, "If I didn't want this to happen to me, I would go down the hill on skis."

And if we want to see real competition, maybe we should watch people for down the hill on skis rather than this subjective stuff that puts the results in the judges' hands rather than the athletes'.
NEWS SITE WATCH
Another entry in what is apparently a regular feature, outlining the stories receiving top billing at news and news commentary sties around the web. E-mail me if there's a site that I should add to my tracking list.

Monday, February 11, 2002

"-GATE" WATCH
RIch Lowry refers to the failure of the Moose to criticize John McCain and Bill Kristol for their campaign-finance scandals as "Moose-gate."
NEWS SITE WATCH
Another entry in what is apparently a regular feature, outlining the stories receiving top billing at news and news commentary sties around the web. E-mail me if there's a site that I should add to my tracking list.
WATCHING HOCKEY ON CNBC
(now there's a headline I didn't think I'd write), I noticed that the officials seemed to be letting a lot of penalties go, especially interference and slashing. That, combined with the teams not playing together for long, conspired to create a rather sloppy affair.

I don't have too much sympathy for the Slovak Republic not having all their players in time for Sunday's game. They obviously have problems in goal, and they didn't take care of business against German and Latvian teams that have considerably fewer NHL stars.
WERE THE OPENING CEREMONIES TOO JONGOISTIC?
I really don't think so. At least it wasn't any more jingoistic than other countries would have done under similar circumstances, and I somehow doubt they'd be subject to the same lecturing from the European elites about how "unwelcoming" they are.

What about the '80 Olympic team wearing their USA sweaters? I don't think that's such a big deal either, since they'd wouldn't be immediately recognizable without them.

Sunday, February 10, 2002

NEWS SITE WATCH
Fifth entry in what is apparently a regular feature, outlining the stories receiving top billing at news and news commentary sties around the web. E-mail me if there's a site that I should add to my tracking list.

Friday, February 08, 2002

AMAZING SCOOP -- JOHNMCGBLOG EXCLUSIVE!!!
I hear secuirty's going to be pretty tight at the Olympics.

You read it here last...
NEWS SITE WATCH
Fourth entry in what is apparently a regular feature, outlining the stories receiving top billing at news and news commentary sties around the web. E-mail me if there's a site that I should add to my tracking list.

Thursday, February 07, 2002

IF YOU'RE A PARTISAN REPUBLICAN,
it would be hard to imagine the results of the "stimulus package" debate being better. Think about it:
  • It didn't pass. Most observers thought it was a pork-riddled atrocity that wouldn't have helped the economy. So not only will we never see it's harmful effects, but the Administration can't be blamed for them
  • Bush's opponenets can't say he didn't try. If the economy continues to worsen, Bush can say, "Hey -- I gave the Democrats a stimulus package, and they wouldn't pass it." This shields him from the fate of his father, who lost mostly becuase he was perceived as apathetic about the economy and didn't do anything to stimulate the economy during the early 90's recession.
  • Daschle looks like an obstructionist liar. With his dishonest stance that the bill needed 60 votes to pass, Daschle looks dishonest. Never mind that scuttling the bill was probably the right thing to do, Daschle still looks like the one who doesn't care about breaking out of the recession.

In fact, Daschle probably could have helped his party more by passing the bill. If it didn't help the economy, the blame could be put on Bush. Now, if the economy recovers without the stimulus bill, everyone will forget about it.

Makes you wonder if Bush planned for this outcome all along...
NEWS SITE WATCH
Third entry in what may become a regular feature, outlining the stories receiving top billing at news and news commentary sties around the web. E-mail me if there's a site that I should add to my tracking list.

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

THE CORNER
I'm enjoying National Review's new Blog -- The Corner, but one complaint is that they don't seem to be as diligent in linking to articles they're referring to as most bloggers are. So it's not always easy to tell if they're representing opposing viewpoints fairly.
FROM THE TRASH OF BABES?
Rich Lowry writes that kids were throwing their trash on the sidewalk on in NYC, and that never would have happened in the Giuliani years.

Really? The backsliding happened that quickly. In just over a month these kids have registered who the new mayor is, carefully guaged his stance on "nuisance crimes," and determined that littering was now far less riskier than before? I kind of doubt that.

Backsliding in NYC is something for folks to be on the lookout for, but its seems like Lowry is reaching here.
DAN FISHER, MSNBC.COM's OMBUDSMAN
has an interesting piece on the use of labels in the media.

Here's my take: Bias exists, mostly due to the type of people that are drawn to careers in journalism, and the culture of news organizations.

What should be done about it? Not much, except to keep bringing it up. I think it would be wrong to insist that organiazations have a "conservative quota" or have a "token conservative" on their editorial boards. I think it's probably in their interest to have a diverse set of viewpoints, but I don't think legislation would help. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's editorial page is liberal. It would sooner endorse genocide than Dick Gephardt's opponent. I know that, so I don't bother reading it. Their loss.

But if we insist that the Post-Dispatch have a conservative on the board, what would happen? Well, since fewer conservatives are drawn to journalism, more mediocre people would get the jobs. What's more, what interest would the Post-Dispatch have in hiring a amrt conservative writer when they're forced to do so. Wouldn't they hire a mediocre talent to demonstrate how silly the rule is.

Still, I think Bernard Goldberg's book and other comments media bias are useful, even if there's no remedy. It reminds us all that just because the Post-Dispatch editorial says something, that doesn't mean that most St. Louisans agree. It also makes the news organizations aware that they're alienating part of their audience, and they can take steps to rectify it.

There's a fine line between encouraging diversity and enforcing rigid quotas. Too often efforts to accomplish the former turn into the latter. But just, as with racial diversity, ideological diversity is too important for news organizations to ignore. Anything that reminds them of this is a good thing.
THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF CROWING IN CONSERVATIVE CIRCLES
not to mention the Corner, about this article concerning, mostly, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee's commuting and travelling habits. Seems she is "chauffered" the one block to work in a government issued car with a government employee driver, and generally insists that people treat her like royalty.

Maybe I'm "soft on limousine liberals," but I just can't get excited about this. First of all, the car is a Ford Contour, which Ford no longer makes, so it can't be new, and is hardly a limousine. Heck, I drive a Contour to work every morning, and I don't exactly attract envious glances from my fellow commuters. Secondly, the car is likely used for other government purposes, so using it to take Rep. Jackson-Lee to work every day may be within the letter, if not the spirit of the law. Thirdly, a lot of the stories about Jackson-Lee's behavior toward airline employees sound suspiciously like they were exaggerated by a reporter with an axe to grind.

Jackson-Lee may not be a nice person, and may treat her staff poorly. That's not really my concern, since she's not my representative, and I don't have to deal with her personally. I just don't see the need to villify her over a daily one block ride in a Ford Contour.
I KNOW, I KNOW
The unfollowed links in "News Site Watch" look terrible with that white background. I'll play with the template some in the next couple days. No time right now.
NEWS SITE WATCH
Second entry in what may become a regular feature, outlining the stories receiving top billing at news and news commentary sties around the web. E-mail me if there's a site that I should add to my tracking list.

Tuesday, February 05, 2002

NEWS SITE WATCH
First entry in what may become a regular feature, outlining the stories receiving top billing at news and new commentary sties around the web. E-mail me if there's a site that I should add to my tracking list.
ANTI-CLONING STRAWMAN
The cloning debate really brings out the the worst in Glenn Reynolds. Here, he passes on a ridiculous parody of anti-cloning concerns.

Yes, cloning humans is exactly like harnessing fire, which is a part of nature. Get that? Nature did give us fire. Nature did not give us an ability to clone ourselves for replacement parts. These researches have apparently decided for us that we need it. Apparently it's too much to ask that they proceed cautiously and reflect the values of the rest of the people.

And nobody's advocating violence against these researchers, so the "big club" closing line is false. But I guess it wouldn't make the "caveman" anology complete without it, so it's included.

I know this opens me to criticism of "not having a sense of humor" but I don't think these strawman arguments do anything to advance disussion of these serious ethical issues. It's fun to make fun of your opposition, but don't think that it proves any kind of point.
I'M THANKFUL OT KATHY KINSLEY FOR LINKING ME
but I must take exception to her take on abortion policy -- that any attempts to restirct abortion are "religiously intolerant" because some churches are pro-choice. Really? First of all, I'm not so sure these churches are "pro-choice," in that they think abortion in demand is great so much as they don't see it as a grave injustice that must be rebuked. Surely, some restrictions on abortion like waiting periods and parental notification would not be inconsistent with their views.

Secondly, since when is it "religiously intolerant" to have policies that contradict the policies of Churches? My Church holds that the unborn life is human life , and that abortion is killing. My government says that the unborn child does not have rights. Isn't this "religiously intolerant?" My Church says that the death penalty is wrong. My state executes 10 people a year. Isn't this religiously intolerant?

Back to the main point, I'm not sure what justification there was to classify fetuses as "unborn children." On its face, it does seem like a back door attempt to move towards restrictions on abortion. If so, this does smack of being undemocratic (not that Roe vs. Wade was a great example of democracy). But maybe it was an honest attempt to give pregnant women more benefits. I'm not as informed on this as I should be.

But I do know that it's not "religiously intolerant."

Monday, February 04, 2002

THE WHITE HOUSE'S ANTI_DRUG AD CAMPAIGN IS BEING UNIVERSALLY PANNED
and rightly so. The thing about them is that they make a case for legalizing drugs. See, if illegal drug money is helping to finance terrorism, wouldn't it make sense to legalize these drugs so the money would got to business people rather than terrorists? Plus, as Mickey Kaus points out, drug money pales in comparison to oil money in financing terror.

I also think the anti-smoking ads aren't doing much. I get the distinct feeling that the "Cigarette smoke contains..." theme could be used against corn chips, soda, beer, hot dogs, ice cream or almost any other processed good. If anything, I think all the anti-smoking ads make smoking more of an "anti-establishment" thing to do, and make it more attractive to kids. It almost makes you wonder if Phillip Morris is aware of that when they sponsor their "Talk to your kids about nonsomoking" ads.
I TAKE DOWN ROBERT WRIGHT'S LATEST
on THE FRAY.

I received a couple of pats on the back from my fellow Fraysters for this, but I don't think this is my best work. I was merely demonstrating how easy and little skill it takes to use the type of argument that Wright employs here -- assign false motives to your opposition, and then beat down the strawman. Wright did this before with pro-life objections to embryonic stem cell research. It's a lot easier to win the argument when you give yourself a gun and give your opponents a knife.
WHAT IS MLIFE?
I'm not sure what I think about this marketing strategy of creating an obscure name for your product ("mlife," "ing", etc. ), then trying to create interest in people to find just what the heck it is. By the time I saw the fifth of these ads, I has stopped caring waht mlife is, I was convinced I didn't need it, and would be happy not thear from it again. After all, if I'm going to find this product so useful, it seems like the advertisers would be able to tell me how, rather than create this false buzz about what the name is referring to.

Other commercial comments -- Anheuser-Busch wan once again excellent. They seem to have a knack for creating likable characters, and using them just long enough that the public doesn't get tired of them. The "How ya doin'" commercial with the guy who gave a long answer was quite amusing.

I'm beginning to think Britney Spears has jumped the shark. It just seems like Pepsi's annual big budget ads, including this year's "retro" deal, keep descending further and further towards self-parody. Do kids really drink Pesi rather than Coke because Britney Spears drinks it or Bob Dole utters a funny line? I guess so, other wise they wouldn't do it.

Sunday, February 03, 2002

HOW CAN IS STILL BE IN THE CHURCH WITH ALL THE PEDOPHILIA COVER UPS?
That's an interesting question, one that some of Andrew Sullivan's readers seem to be grappling with.

The answer is simple -- I am the Church. My wife and I are the Church. The other people who teach religion classes with me every Tuesday night are the Church. People we gather with and pray with are the Church. This is the simple fact that I think the clergy has conspired to make us forget over the years. When most people think of "the Catholic Church," they picture a bunch of guys in funny hats sitting around making arbitrary decisions. That's not the Church I know, and it's not the Church I try to pass on to the 7th graders in my Tuesday night religion class, and it's not the Church I plan to share with my children.

My Church includes friends of mine who have chosen to devote their lives to service, and will probably earn about a quarter of what they could. My Church includes people who live and work at a homeless shelter in the middle of St. Louis for battered women. My Church includes people who give loads of time and money to help the poor, and to end injustices like abortion and the death penalty.

The behavior of a few bisops doesn't change that. Yes, it makes us look bad. Yes, it sets us back a bit in our quest for justice. It must be especially damaging for the families of the children who were molested. But it doesn't change what we're about. Our leaders have let us down before, and they probably will again. But the Church will go on, and grow stronger.

What I pray for is that the laity will realize that they are as much the Church as those men in the funny hats, and that we are also responsible for where the Church is going. I think the Church has swung too far in letting bishops and cardinals represent the Church, instead of the faithful laity. Ultimately, these men falter, as all of us do, and if we've put all our eggs in their basket, we'll be devastated. But if we spread them around to all the good, faithful people in the world who are contantly trying to do their best and serve Christ, we won't be disappointed.
PAT & JOHN'S LAST GAME
It's with some sadnedd that I watched Pat Summerall do his last game with John Madden. I know Summerall isn't the same announcer he used to be, and he'll never be a slickster like Bob Costas, Jim Nantz, or Joe Buck. Still, gorwing up in one NFC city (Philly) and now living in another (St. Louis), Summerall's voice on a crisp autumn late afternoon always meant "big game." It was always a big deal when he was calling your team's game.

Yes, Summerall isn't retiring, but it won't be the same next year when the Rams play the Niners, and it's not Madden and Summerall in the booth. I'll miss that.
ADAM VINATIERI HAD THE GREATEST PLAY IN SUPER BOWL HISTORY
Not only did he provide the winning points in the Super Bowl, but he somehow managed to burn 7 seconds off the clock, more than I've ever seen on a field goal attempt

I know I sound like a bitter Rams fan (which I am a bit), and I know the Rams probably couldn't have done much with 2 or 3 seconds. Still, you have to know that Mike Martz had some wacky plays designed for just such a situation. Heck, he featured Yo Murphy, a guy I don't remember ever playing on offense all year. Whoever told the timekeeper to keep the clock running deprived us of seeing it.

But hey, congratulations to the Patriots -- they played a great game. I thoroughly enjoyed the game, and I it was fun seeing the Patriots continue to prove me wrong.

Friday, February 01, 2002

IF THE PATRIOTS WIN, THE TERRORISTS WIN
Max Boot makes the, er, patriotic case for cheering on the Rams this Sunday.
I"M BEGINNING TO THINK MORE AND MORE
that the whole controversey over whether we should be treating the Guantanamo detainess as POW's under the Geneva Convention rules is a ploy by the Administration to delegitimize international (especially European) concerns over international law and US unilateralism.

The American Left has been using "international opinion" to criticize the Bush Administration since before he took office. As the Administration sees the future need to expand the war on terrorism beyond Afghanistan, they understand that the Europeans and the American Left won't like it. Most Americans for some reason long for Europe's approval like a child looks for approval for a parent, even though the analogy doesn't really hold.

So how does the Bush administration maintain domestic support in spite of European opposition? -- by making European commentators look foolish!

Consider this sequence of events -- British commentators complain about the tratment of Guantanamo prisoners, then the US Governement asks the British government to take custody of the British citizens being held, leading to stuttering and indecision by the Brits about what to with them. So, the British critics end up looking like fools.

I don't think there's any other way to explain the US's behavior. The pictures released by the US almost seem to be designed to elicit this type of criticism from the Eurpoean chatteres. Almost every report from people who've been to the camp say that conditions there are better than the pictures represent. Why would the US open itself to such unnecessary and unfounded criticism? The only answer I have is to make this criticism look foolish.

I'm not sure what I think about this. On the one hand, I understand the Administration's need to build popular support for the more difficult and less obvious phases of the war. On the other hand, I don't like the idea of crafting policies to make others look bad. Even though the current chorus of criticisms is foolish, it's possible that these same critics may raise more legitimate concerns in the future, only to be discounted because the criticism of Camp X-Ray proved to be silly. I'm not convinced this is a good thing.
YES, I SAID ROLE MODEL
I know the CW is that, "athletes shouldn't be role models." And that's true to some extent. I shouldn't have a child out of wedlock, then marry the mother of that child, then divorce her 10 years later because Michael Jordan did the same thing and had success in basketball.

What we can do is model aspects of behavior. Marhall Faulk is successful in part becuase he spends hours preparing for his opposition, and knows how they'll react to situations. How can I be more like that? Jerry Rice has kept himself in superb physical condition so he continues to be a great player at an age long past when most wide recievers are effective. What can I learn form that?

I think when we get into trouble is when parents start using "role models" as a short cut to get their kids to do something. So they'll say something like "Mark McGwire eats his broccoli," and then when it comes out that Mark McGwire took andro, thes parents feel betrayed. But I don't remember McGwire ever encouraging kids to model his private behavior. Parents decided to do that for themselves, and it backfired on them. That's unfortunate, but I don't think it's completely McGwire's responsibility when he's been co-opted like that.
IT'S GOOD TO SEE EMMITT SMITH ON ESPN
in New Orelans for their Super Bowl coverage. Emmitt Smith has long been one of my favorite athletes, despite my being an Eagles fan and thus loathing the Cowboys (and he now endorses the competitor for the company I work for). For me, this started with the playoff game against the Giants when Smith separated his shoulder, but came back in the game to catch the winning TD pass. This guy got all the hard yards for the Cowboys, and provided the fuel for the dynasty.

I remember I was watching NFL GameDay on ESPN the wekk after Randy Moss made his "I only play when I wanna play" routine. After discussion of Moss, they did a feature on Smith, who was about to pass Barry Sanders on the rushing list. At this point in his career, it would be easy for Smith to whine and demand to finish his career with a contender, rather than carry the ball 20 times a game for a losing team. But Smith expressed nothing but satisfaction and a desire to be still be with the Cowboys when they returned to greatness.

It reminded me how as many licks as the NFL takes, there are a lot of great guys in the league, who pay a terrific price with their bodies to entertain us and earn victory for their teammates. I don't begrudge them any of the money they make. It's a shame selfidh prima donnas like Moss get so much attention, while class guys like Smith just keep doing what they've always done.

I'm rooting for Smith to pass another class individual, Walter Payton, for the career rushing record. And I hope the league and the media make a big deal about it, because guys like Emmitt Smith can serve as great models for work ethic and commitment.
ON THE TODAY SHOW
A couple of days after the President's State of the Union reminded us all of the threats we still face from terrorism, and two days before the Super Bowl, Matt Lauer says "all eyes are on Enron," leading to a long piece about the lifestyles of Enron executives inclusing the houses they lived in and the cars they drove. My favorite quote -- "Enron brought Houston to the big leagues." Really? I thought Houston was the fifth largest city in the country and had been for some time. I thought it was home to sompanies like Compaq and NASA. But it needed Enron to get to the "big leagues?" I'm starting to get a little tired of this, "Enron is even bigger than you can possibly imagine" stuff coming from the media. It's a big deal, but it isn't the end of the world as we know it.

But that's not Today's worst sin of the morning. The worst was when Matt Lauer had on the host of The Fear Factor to discuss the burning journalistic question of whether NBC's broadcast of the Playmates (who says I'm above putting provacative words in my post to attract cheap Google hits) on The Fear Factor was good entertainment or a cheap ratings stunt.

I have a better question -- when a network's morning news program devotes 7 minutes to discussing the tastefulness of that networks own trashy ratings stunt, is it good solid journalism or corporate "synergy" run amok?

As for me, I switched channels to ESPN...
SUPERBOWL THOUGHTS
The Patriots are a nice story, and my two picks against them are the only blemishes on my playoff prediction record, but the Rams simply have better players. The Patriots simply don't have anyone of comparable ability to Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner, and the Rams play a solid team game. Remember, the Patriots only lost to the Rams by 7, but the Rams dorve to the Pats' 20 in the with 2 minutes to go, then took three knees. I wasn't that close. This one won't be, either.