Monday, October 31, 2005

 

Reflections of a White Sox Fan

Friend and fellow White Sox fan Dave offers his thoughts on the team's championship season, the conclusion of which coincided with the arrival his daughter, Dagen, who was born with a diaphragmatic hernia. Its a very interesting read, particularly for those who aren't from Chicago and wish to understand the perspective of South Side Sox fans. Please keep Dagen and her family in your thoughts and prayers. Here's the article:

I am writing this as a fan of the Second Team in the Second City. The White Sox not only have to deal with the obvious East Coast bias, but the White Sox take a back seat in Chicago to the Cubs –- for the simple reason that we do not have a nice park and we do not have our own newspaper and superstation.

This year, while following my team into and through the playoffs, I have witnessed the very obvious east coast bias of the media, the networks and the league. I will not go on about the obvious ESPN favoritism of the Red Sox/Yankees that started at the beginning of the year showing back-to-back Red Sox/Yankees game in lieu of the first home game of the new Washington Nationals. I will not go on about the obvious bias showing the complete Red Sox/Yankees game as the last game of the season when both were in the playoffs or at least guaranteed a playoff for the wildcard – all while the Indians, Astros and Phillies were fighting to get into the playoffs. Coverage was split on ESPN2 while the meaningless repeat of the Y/RS series was shown in its entirety. The network bias placing the Yankees in prime time, even though they did not even earn home field advantage (just as they did in 2000). I am most concerned about the subtle biases.

I saw (supposedly) national coverage of ESPN consistently referring to the SOX in their headlines at the start of the playoffs. The only problem is that there are two different colors of SOX in the playoffs. Whenever they mentioned SOX, they meant Red Sox. That is fine for the Boston Herald, but not a national network.

The day after ESPN’s SOX were drubbed 14-2 by Chicago’s SOX with a record number of home runs, their website headlines read Yankees win 4-2. I have heard the ESPN announcers refer to the Angels/Yankees series simply as the Yankees game, as if they were playing themselves or it did not matter who they were playing.

Even my spell checker is biased, because as I type the word Yankees it keeps capitalizing the word -– the same does not happen when I forget to capitalize white sox.

Minutes after the White Sox swept the Red Sox in Fenway, I heard Peter Gammons state that the Yankees will be favored against the White Sox in the ALCS. There is one problem -– the Yankees have not won anything yet and as a matter of fact hours later Peter Gammon’s east coast backup team lost to the other team by a score of 11-7 in Yankee stadium. By the way, the Big Unit which was one of the basis for Peter Gammon’s declaration of superiority was shelled for 5 runs and did not last half the game. At that time, the self proclaimed fans of the universe booed there bazillion dollar off-season acquisition as he left the field…which takes me to the fans.

The yankee fans are the worst -– and I have one story that sums it all up. The first game after Sept. 11th, the Yankees played the White Sox in Chicago. I was there cheering on the fire and police representatives showing support for their New York brethren – it was truly emotional and you could not help but be supportive of New York. Within minutes of this tribute, I heard the Yankee fans around me yelling profanities at the White Sox and carrying on as usual. By the second inning I was back to hating the Yankees again -– can they show any decorum at all under any circumstances? The answer is “no”.

Then there are the Red Sox fans -– I worked in Boston, went to a number of games and enjoyed everything about the game, except the Fenway Franks, which were served in bread disguised as a bun, instead of an actual bun and the seats that gave you less room than an airplane on a cheap airline. I guess what initially annoyed me about the Red Sox fans was not their accents as much as the whining that they did with those accents. As someone who has lived in a city with two baseball teams that have not won anything at all since 1917, it was difficult to sympathize with a smaller city with only one team that has gone one less year without a championship, and a lot of success in the interim.

You would think that a team that has gone that long without a championship would show gratitude and humility when those dreams were realized, but that was replaced with arrogance. Maybe they just reflected the attitude of their team, in particular their left fielder who not only likes to stand at home plate and admire his home runs, but I have even seen him stand and admire a single. Maybe it his “fenway frankish’ way of throwing the ball in from left field. Even with the Red Sox down two games against the White Sox, they made it seem like they spotted the White Sox the two game lead just to make it interesting. There is a fine line between optimism, confidence and arrogance. Maybe the Patriots championship in combination with that of the Red Sox helped with the head swelling.

It would be difficult for me to fathom Cleveland fans or St. Louis fans becoming arrogant if they were to win a championship. Maybe it is a Midwest thing. A friend of mine from the Northeast tried to explain to me that so many people are crammed into such a small area of the country that everyone is on top of each other, in traffic with each other and it makes them overall very grumpy.

The Cubs vs. White Sox rivalry is one steeped in history that is not replicated in any other city in any other sport. Although New York has two teams in baseball and hockey (football doesn’t count because the teams play in NJ), there is no historical explanation for who is a Mets fan and who is a Yankees fan – the same with hockey. The fact that the Mets are a relatively new expansion team established in 1962 does not really contribute to a great rivalry. Although Boston and New York are crammed into the same area of the country, you could hardly get on the same El (subway) line and stop at both ball parks.

The Cubs vs. Sox and therefore the North Side vs. South Side rivalry goes back to the politics of the city of Chicago in the early 1900’s and is even evident in the gang rivalries of the 1920’s. The Bugs Morand north side gang was in competition with the south side gang of Al Capone. This rivalry was fought with more deadly weapons than just bats and is summed up in the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. Even the Chicago flag depicts the separation of the city into the North, South and West sides.

The sports loyalties of North Side vs. South Side were further solidified by the addition of two football teams when Goerge Halas started the NFL. The north side Bears played at Wrigley Field, when the south side Cardinals played at Comiskey Park. It was very common to root for the Cardinals/White Sox and the Bears/Cubs. When the Cardinals moved on to St. Louis, that left only one team in Chicago – Da Bears. This is probably the only common ground that the White Sox and Cubs share and as a Bears fan, it is difficult to swallow the fact that the Bears name is actually derived from the Cubs. I focus on the colors of the Bears that were derived from the colors of my alma mater and that of George Halas, Red Grange and Dick Butkus – the University of Illinois.

Enough for the history lesson and digression into football, but it is difficult for me to see the fascination with Boston’s “New York envy” and I don’t understand the fun in rooting for a team that has so much money that it discards players like an 18 month old boy discards his old toys for a brand new toy truck. One of the most satisfying aspects of this year is the fact that the White Sox success in built in part on the shoulders of the discarded Yankee pitchers – Jose Contrares and “El Duke”….all in favor of their new toy – “The Big Unit”, which the fans booed off the field in his first post-season start as a Yankee.

Whatever happened to rooting for the underdog?

You will not believe me when I say this – but I actually feel sorry for Yankee fans. It’s true. The feeling that the true White Sox fans feel and that the Red Sox felt last year is one that no SOX fan under 100 years old has ever felt. The bond and unity, the anticipation the joy of experiencing something for the first time is lost on teams like the Yankees. Unless you are a 5 year old Yankees fan, you have seen more than your share of success and to want even more at all costs is simply gluttonous.

Rooting for the yankees must be like rooting for the USSR hockey team in the pre-professional olympics. You have nothing but expectations to win – so there is only underachieving. If you win, it was expected – and if you lose, you are sent off to Siberia. Just as the NHL scooped up discarded Soviet hockey players, so has baseball scooped up the excommunicated yankees. These playoffs are overflowing with ex-yankee pitchers and the White Sox and Astros are certainly happy about that.

I would much prefer rooting for the South Side Miracle on Grass even if I have to wait years and years, instead of fielding a bought All-Star team. We still talk about and relive the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team’s accomplishment, but how many people in the former Soviet Union gather to celebrate the past victories of the Olympic hockey teams that were expected to win the gold? It is still fun to root for the underdog, unless of course that underdog is the Cubs.

And now on to Anaheim, which is a fine team and not at all pretentious or crude like the Red Sox and Yankees. But their power to annoy is strong. What is the deal with those Thunderstix -– who is the marketing genius that thought inflatable plastic blow-up sticks are the wave of the future? Not being a Thunderstick person I have alot of questions -— Do you travel to the game with the Thunderstix fully inflated?? Or do you inflate them at the game? If your Thunderstick gets a hole in it, do they have Thunderstick repair facilities at the park, or do you have to get new Thunderstix -- do they sell Thunderstix repair kits? Are there official thunderstix -- do you have to look for the fancy hologram? Are imitation Thunderstix a big problem? Is there a problem with accidently Thundersticking the person in front of you? Has there been any Thunderstick injuries? How do you know which Thunderstix are yours? If you leave the Thunderstix behind would someone steal them -– do you have to put your name on them? Do you take the Thunderstix to the bathroom? Is there alot of Thunderstix maintenance? So many questions...

...and then there is the rally monkey. I am mixed, because this is potentially the most annoyingly corny, cheesy gimmick...but at the same time, I want to see the rally monkey alot because that would mean that the Sox are ahead. What do you feed a rally monkey?

If someone showed up at the Sox game with Thunderstix, the headlines in the paper would read, "Fan killed at the SOX game with own Thunderstix."

Security was tightened in Anaheim for fear that AJ Pierzynski would be pelted with beach balls as he entered the field at Anaheim, Los Angeles or wherever it is that the Angels play.

One can't help but wonder about the coincidence of key games being decided by former White Sox players -- first there was Tony Graffanino's Bucknering of a ground ball in game two and then Josh Paul's failure to tag AJ at the plate. Coincidence or conspiracy?? Maybe the White Sox learned from the mistakes of 1919 and this time conspired to WIN the World Series of 2005.

I have to spend some time on the AJ Pierzinski call. After seeing the play at least fifty times I am amazed that some of the brilliant announcers turned judges and jury failed to mention a couple of key points. First, if you look at the replay again or just replay the image embedded in your own brain based on the excessive repetition -– please notice the key timing of Josh Paul rolling the ball back before the umpire pumps the ambiguous “strike three” fist. The fist pumping could not have had any influence on Josh Paul’s actions because it comes after he rolls the ball back to the mound. Also, let’s not forget the fact that Josh Paul had a chance to redeem himself by throwing out Ozuna at second. And then there was the two strike pitch over the plate to Joe Crede -– why anyone would throw a hittable pitch in that situation is beyond me.

For those who would like to see a picture of the author of this article, you only need to go to the Chicago Tribune archives of the day after the last game at the Old Comiskey Park in 1990 -- My friends and I were on the cover of the sports section of the Tribune hanging a sign that read "The Reign has Ended for the Baseball Palace of the WORLD." I was the X in the body painted poor physiques that made up the SOX.

As a little kid, I showed up at school every day just so that I could get tickets to the SOX game for Perfect Attendance. The SOX would give out tickets to grade school students with perfect attendance. My dad loved the White SOX but as a fireman that worked another job, he was so busy with work that it was tough to get to the game. It was tough to turn down a kid with perfect attendance, so I enjoyed these games with my father. He talked quite a bit about Luis Aparicio fouling off pitch after pitch sometimes directing the foul balls into the opposing team’s dugout.

I went to the old Park with my little league team riding down Archer in the back of a pickup truck. I watched the SOX on the same channel 44 that brought Chicago Dick the Bruiser, The Crusher, Baron Von Ratschke not to mention Earl Scheib on the comercials "Ill paint any car, any color, no ups no extras"

I have 6 seats from the old Comiskey Park... which I now simply get to call Comiskey Park because it can no longer be confused with the New Comiskey Park, since the new Comiskey Park is Cellular Field, until Cellular Field goes bankrupt or gets bought out. Basically, I am your typical South Side White SOX fan.

While I am on the topic of baseball parks, I have to defend the SOX fans here. For those of us that have fond memories of haircuts in center field, the upper deck outfield bleachers, the many layers of paint on the golden box seats of Comiskey Park --- none asked for Comiskey Park to be torn down. We had the oldest and greatest “Baseball Palace of the World” until it was replaced by the salad bowl on top of a bunch of plates that is Cellular Field. The fans from the north tend to hold our park against us as if we personally tore it down with our own bare hands. What it did do was force us to focus more on baseball and less on the park – after all if we want to go drink in a park, we will sneak beer into Grant park for Blues Fest. I have watched many games with plenty of empty seats and you know what –- it was great!! You know the fans are there to enjoy the game – not as a status symbol or some tourist attraction. I stretched out my legs and sat in seats that few cub fans could afford. You have to be really insecure to need to have 42,000 people around you to enjoy a game.

A true story. I was waiting in line for playoff tickets for the White Sox last playoff appearance in 2000. One baseball fan waiting in line with me was from DC and was visiting all the baseball parks. He said that his worst baseball experience was at Wrigley Field. He could not watch the game -- people were standing and talking in front of him. He hated the experience.

I must admit – I went to Wrigley Field once in my life and that was only because I got extra credit in my high school Spanish class. We had a new Spanish teacher at my all-male Catholic high school on the South Side. He was from the north side and planned a Spanish Club trip to a cubs game. Nobody was interested. He was so desperate that he offered to drop our lowest test score if we went to the cubs game. I went, rooted for the Mets and based on dropping my lowest test score I was able to skip the final exam. I have gone to confession many times for this youthful indiscretion.

Speaking of the 2000 season I have to complain again about the yankee favoritism that pervades MLB. The White Sox with the best record in the AL that year were forced to play the Mariners at Noon on a Thursday. Meanwhile, the yankees, with the worst record of any AL team in the playoffs was put on prime time. I was at the SOX playoff game against the Mariners and it was very weird. Even a cubs fan would be thrown by a Noon start. I didn’t know whether to drink a bloody mary, Irish coffee, beer or what? The park was not full because the blue collar Sox fans cannot just skip work. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. The home field advantage was taken away by the weekday afternoon games. The same thing happened to the Cardinals this year – the best record in baseball rewarded with a Noon start at home…luckily, they had no problem with the “how did they get in the playoffs?” Padres.

Speaking of the Cardinals, I was disappointed that the Astros won. I really wanted the White SOX to play the Cardinals -two Midwest teams. Ozzie facing his old manager, but most of all driving the cub fans crazy by giving them nobody to root for since they hate both the SOX and the Cardinals. This was the same predicament that we almost faced if the Cubs played the Yankees back in 2003 until the South Side hero of Steve Bartman intervened. I dreamed of the cubs losing with Sammy Sosa dropping a routine fly ball, but I never thought the so called “greatest fans” could actually contribute to the Cubs demise. I just did not dream big enough. By the way, I wonder how much leftover Sammy Sosa cubs merchandise is sitting in a warehouse somewhere?

I would also like to take the time to defend the White SOX fans that get a bad rap for not filling the park for every game. First, the park is much larger than Wrigley or Fenway and from what I understand, it was difficult to even give away cubs tickets at the end of the year. If you notice, the White Sox tend to draw large crowds on Monday, Tuesday and Fireworks night. It doesn’t take a marketing genius to figure out that price makes a difference for working-class fans and Monday and Tuesday nights are half-price night. It takes money to go to a game and if you are going to take the family, you might as well make the most of it which is why fireworks nights are popular. Cost is a factor – and the fans should not be penalized for not making a lot of money.

Also, the White Sox have been betrayed by the current owner and despite the praise that Reinsdorf has been getting this year, he has certainly alienated the fans over the years. First, he tore down our Comiskey park in favor of more skyboxes. Even if the park needed to be torn down, why not build a fan-based park. At the same time the owners settled on the Salad Bowl design, the same architectural firm was designing the beautiful Camden Yard. While Reinsdorf was threatening to move the Sox to Florida, the Orioles were working with the city of Baltimore to build a light-rail system into Camden Yard. Once the fans started to accept the new park, Reinsdorf did it again. As a season ticket holder in 1997, I was very optimistic about a team with a great pitching staff. Then comes the White Flag trade that got rid of the pitching aces that it requires to win a World Series. I was stuck with season tickets for a team that was abandoned by its owners and I certainly was not offered an opportunity to transfer the remaining tickets to the future. It took Kenny Williams 7 years to convince the owners what is obvious to the fans and that is that pitching wins World Series. My optimism about the 2005 season started in 2004 when not only did the White Sox trade for pitching – Freddy Garcia, but they signed him to longer than a 1 year contract – unheard of for Reinsdorf. That’s when I started to think that maybe Reinsdorf is starting to get it. Thanks Kenny Williams!!

My worst fears regarding the White SOX facing the Astros in game 1 came true. Given the announcers infatuation with the Yankees, the next best thing for them to talk about is ex-yankees, and with Clemens and Pettitte they would get their yankee fix. Sure enough, the first two innings you almost didn’t know who the Astro’s were playing—the announcers recapped Roger Clemens career seemingly inning by inning. As a matter of fact, they spent more time talking about Clemens than Clemens spent pitching. This dominant World Series ace only lasted 2 innings…which got me thinking – they flashed the “Rocket’s” World Series record of 9 games and a 3-0 record…then I started thinking –what happened in those other 6 no decisions? It would appear to me that he did not last very long in those games or left the game without the lead? It hardly seems dominant to me. Maybe he exited the game after the second inning to preserve that 3-0 WS record and record yet another “no decision.”

I would also like to take this time to express my overall dissatisfaction with the FOX baseball coverage thus far. First we have the talking baseball, which I might even be OK with for entertaining young kids, but the only pitch that cartoon baseball knows is the “change up” – for any complicated pitch we have to see some professional hand model, maybe it was George Castanza?? showing us how the various pitches are held. It also seems that the cameras cut to the batter just as the pitch arrives and it is difficult to follow the entire pitch. Then there are the interviews with the pitching coaches, which in one instance had us watching Joe Crede’s homerun in a little box on the TV. If I wanted to watch a tiny screen I would have watched the game on my computer over the Internet.

Game 2 brings us the other ex-yankee that the announcers get to drool over -– Andy Pettitte. Every one of his pickoff attempts has been a balk --- I do not understand how your foot can wind up that far toward home and the pitch not be a balk. Again, controversy brews and the White Sox stole the game via Jermaine Dye’s hit-by-pitch that actually hit the bat. Not that any the HBPs for the Astros in the previous game were questionable – from Bagwell not getting out of the way to a slight uniform grazing. Again the announcers telling us that we are going to “get a treat with Oswalt pitching” game 3. This is finally a break for White Sox fans who have had to endure terrible pitching during the playoffs (sarcasm). The wonderful thing about Scott Podsednik’s walk-off homerun was not only the dramatics and the fact that your weakest home run hitter hits a walk-off homerun, but it is listening to the replays with Tim McCarver saying that “Lidge has lost the bad taste of the home run against Pujols” just as Podsednik drives the ball over the fence. If having a home run hitter like Pujols hit one out leaves a bad taste in your mouth, then it would take a lot of mouthwash to get rid of the taste of Podsednik’s home run.

Game 3 had not even started when yet another controversy brews. Bud Selig mandates that the roof be open and the players and fans react as if the game had been moved back to Chicago and they lost the home field advantage. Somehow, artificially amplifying the noise in MinuteMaid Park (what is the deal with the parks being named for orange juices?) was a huge advantage that they “played for”. I just don’t get it. First of all, why go through the extra expense of making a roof retractable if you plan on leaving it closed all the time? It’s like paying a lot of extra money for a convertible car when you never plan on having the roof down. Also, why do you need an artificial mechanism to make noise? What’s next, giving everyone bullhorns or amplifiers to scream into to make you sound louder?? Game 3 also brings us the pitching treat of Oswalt promised by Tim McCarver. The treat came in the form of a 5 run inning that put the Sox ahead 5-4. The most important controversial call of the entire playoffs seemed to get very little attention – certainly not as much attention as the Pierzinski play. That was the home run that wasn’t really a home run based on the bizarre taped outlines on the walls in the outfield. This call did not seem to become much of a controversy, despite the fact that it is the only mistake by an umpire that directly resulted in a run being scored –and in a close one run game. The game goes into extra innings – what is with the Astro’s and these long playoff games? What was more exhausting than staying up past 2:00 AM was the horrible camera coverage of FOX. The announcers commented on the fact that Oswalt barely set before coming home from the stretch – for us fans, we couldn’t make up our minds because the cameras cut to pitcher right at the release…for some reason it was necessary to show the same fans in the crowd rather than simply watch an entire pitch from wind-up through delivery. You couldn’t avoid the camera person’s fascination with the sleeping baby, the facepainters, or the lady that seemed to be on the phone the entire game --- somehow she must have been giving the play-by-play to someone in one of the few countries on the planet that was not covering the game. At one point, the statistic of 1700 camera cuts was shown. Think about it – if you were at the game and someone in front of you distracted you 1700 times, you would beat them to death with a thunderstick. That made the 5+ hour game seem like an 18 hour game. What a great move to bring in Beurhle for the save. It seemed as though nobody was going to win that game until Geoff Blum makes use of his only WS at bat. For those who went to bed during that game, you would have had to assume that there was a misprint in the boxscore – Damaso Marte gets the win, Mark Beurhle gets the save and Geoff Blum gets the GWRBI in the form of a home run. It seems as though a sweep is inevitable.

At this point, I can’t help but get a bit annoyed by the Red Sox comparisons –- everyone seems to think that it was 1918 since the White Sox won a WS -– no it was one year longer -- 1917, which is why it has been difficult to sympathize with the Red Sox fans. The Red Sox story was their own and their comeback sweep against the team they envy and hope to become, made it even better for them…so there really was no comparison. The White Sox series had nothing to do with comebacks, because the White Sox truly dominated the playoffs. We as White Sox fans started the playoffs out not knowing much about what a playoff win felt like – and by the time the Sox made it to Houston we forgot what a playoff loss felt like.

Before I get to game 4, I would like some time to explain the purpose and background of this letter. As someone who has lived in Chicago until I moved to Florida in 2003, I would certainly love to be in Chicago as I was for the Bears Super Bowl and all but one of the Bulls championships. I had a blast watching the games at various Western bars (it’s a South Side thing – no cowboy hats and chaps at these Western bars) and chanting “Drink from the head” as we paraded around the bars with Bulls head filled with beer. I have been very fortunate to be around during some great times, but now like so many other SOX fans I happen to be away from Sweet Home Chicago during the World Series. One of the intentions of this letter has been to share these thoughts and feelings with those SOX fans that could not be in Chicago -– our job is to spread that support and enthusiasm to other parts of the world. I would certainly like to have been at my brother’s house or brother-in-laws on the South Side —- or at one of my favorite bars.

Instead, since I now live in Florida, I spent the first game at home watching the Weather Channel’s coverage of Hurricane Wilma during the lengthy commercials. The car was packed and we were ready to move. As we left the path of the Hurricane, my family had moved up to St. Petersburg for Game 2 -– to the Ronald McDonald house at All Children’s Hospital to be exact. You see, my wife was about to give birth to our daughter any day now and we know that the baby (a girl) would need to immediately be put on a ventilator and have surgery. So I watched game 2 in a community room in the Ronald McDonald house – waiting out Hurricane Wilma and preparing for an emotional Monday. Our baby girl was supposed to be delivered on Monday—perfect coincidence, given that it was a travel day, but Hurricane Wilma delayed the surgery until Wednesday. That means that she will be born during the day of Game 4.

This takes us to game 4 -- October 26, 2005 a day that I will remember for ever, but not due to the White Sox historic World Series win. At 12:08 PM Eastern Time my daughter was born in St. Petersburg, Florida down the street from Tropicana Field. She was then immediately transported to All Children’s hospital. Our precious new Sox Fan was born with many challenges and symbolically, my hospital gown and surgical hat covered my favorite Sox hat and shirt. This day there was something even more important than a World Series win. Instead of getting the beer and chips ready for watching what we hoped to be the final game of our baseball dream, I was hurrying my wife over to see our precious girl before her first of many important surgeries. My wife and I watched Game 4 from her hospital room. I watched with quiet excitement as the White Sox completed my dream as a baseball fan -– it is something that I would have to celebrate over time during the offseason. I was unable to jump up and down doing my White Sox dance that my wife came to enjoy during each exciting moment of the playoffs. My family called immediately after the SOX win and I enjoyed hearing the hoots and hollers in the background from Chicago.

I certainly never expected to celebrate the White Sox World Series victory this way, but the game of life does not allow for pinch-hitters or relief-pitchers. I placed a SOX sticker on the side of my daughter’s incubator, not as a crazy fan (which I certainly am) but as a symbol of hope and overcoming all odds. It was appropriate given that she was born on the historic day in White Sox history. My family has been accumulating newspapers, taping the games and celebrations and some day I hope to relive these moments with my daughter.

 

A bad joke.

ChiSox05 never took off so I'm killing it. I've made one final post to send that blog out in style.

Diego: Sox, Bears, Bulls...How about the '81 Sting 1-0 Soccer Bowl victory over the Cosmos via shootout!

Friday, October 28, 2005

 

Poll: Greatest Chicago Sporting Moments?

Although the rest of the country took no interest in the White Sox sweep of the Houson Astros, it was the biggest sports moment to come along in Chicago in years. But how great was it? With well over half the city calling themselves Cubs fans, and in the ever-present shadows of Jordan and the 85 Bears, where does this World Championship rank on your list of top-5 Chicago sports moments (if it even makes the list)?

My picks:

1) 85 Bears phenomona- The most dominant "D" ever, with a cast of characters that captured the interest of the country, not just the city.
2) "The Running of the Bulls" Part I - A worldwide phenomona. When I would tell foreigners I was from Chicago they used to say, "Al Capone". It's been "Michael Jordan" ever since.
3) White Sox World Series victory - Not big outside the city, but #1 to South Siders everywhere.
4) Walter Payton's 275 yard rushing against the Vikings in 1977 - Oh yeah, he had the flu that day.
5) Either Jordan over Ehlo or Jordan stripping MVP Karl Malone for the win in the Finals - I can't decide.

OK, Now it's your turn...

Diego: White Sox 2005 is #1. Bears in 1985 are #2. The Bears were bigger on the national level (and the Bulls accross the world) but there was no extended time period without a title. Chicago waited 88 years for a World Series and had two teams trying. The Bears and Bulls could be considered bigger 'acts' but the act of winning the Series is #1.

 

Moommmm?

If you're wondering what I want for Christmas...pleaaasssseee! It would be so cool. I would make my bed everyday.

 

Fitz Probe

See here for our most recent discussion of this topic.

From WSJ (NYT reports similar info):
A special prosecutor is poised to bring charges against at least one Bush administration figure in the CIA-leak investigation, and the probe may continue. Rove was informed that he likely won't be charged. Fitzgerald has zeroed in on Cheney aide Libby.

Why is it that all the leaks have to do with White House indictments and never indictments of the Wilsons or CIA or other reporters? Hmmm...can it be that the press is pushing an agenda and wants to manufacture as much bad press for the WH as possible under the journalistic psuedo-legitimacy of "sources familiar with the investigation"?

Throwing out all idealism and appealing to raw political expediency I've re-thought the likely outcome. Tossing out my earlier wager that that virtually everybody associated with the White House will walk, free and clear. I can see how a Scooter indictment is baked in.

I was letting my own naive perceptions of justice and logic cloud my thinking. The most politcally palatable solutions, for both sides is this:

- Indict Scooter. someone's gotta be indicted after this 2-yr boondoggle. But rest easy, ye friends of justice, Scooter will plea bargain for a rap on the wrist, having already served as the sacrifical lamb. He will, of course, resign, but will enjoy life as a highly paid consultant and speaker.

- Fitzy may get an extension. This will allow the investigation to fade...gracefully...into...oblivion. Nothing new will come of any extension.

- Rove will remain "under investigation" which is a wink-wink, nod-nod for "we all know that you're innocent but play along to keep the raging dems at bay."

- One or both of the Wilsons will be indicted, eventually, not today b/c the atmosphere is too politcally charged and a high profile indictment may be exactly what little Joey is hoping for; it will give him another 15minutes. Perhaps my idealism is creeping in again, but in following the timelines and available (corroborated) reporting, the only people most likely to have leaked Vals identity are the Wilsons themselves. Why would NYT publish his Yellowcake editorial without some second source legitimacy such as "Valerie's in the CIA she can back my story."

Plus, let us not forget, that 'leaking' of Vals identity probably was NOT a crime in the first place. A non-crime has gotten Washington in an hysterical tizzy.

Enjoy Fitzmas. The gift I hope for is the termination of the independent counsel statute.

Update:
AJ Strata is on the case. A former prosecuter weighs in. And you gotta read Firedoglake today.

John O adds: For all those on the Left celebrating Fitzmas, I'd like to draw you attention to this from Captain Ed:
That (indictment) only puts the Bush administration 59 behind the Clinton administration, by the way. And that was while he was still in office -- that apparently does not count Sandy Berger's stealing of code-word classified documents from the National Archive and destroying them during the 9/11 investigation.
John O adds more: Newsbusters notes the difference in media coverage of this indictment vs those in the Clinton administration:
As ABC, CBS, and NBC all dived into live coverage today to report the indictment of Vice President Cheney's top aide Scooter Libby, this is not at all the way the networks covered indictments of cabinet officers in the Clinton years.

In September 1997, we reported in Media Watch that when former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy was indicted on 39 counts, the networks aired a single evening news story. Three of the four networks -- ABC, CNN, and NBC -- underlined that the Smaltz inquiry had so far cost $9 million. None of them noted civil penalties originating from targets of Smaltz's inquiry amounted to more than $3.5 million. The next morning, CBS's morning show, called CBS This Morning, didn't even mention Espy's indictment. Months later, I noted in a Media Reality Check that on December 11, former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros was indicted on 18 counts for misleading the FBI about payoffs to a mistress, Linda Medlar. NBC Nightly News filed one story; ABC's World News Tonight gave it 18 seconds. CBS Evening News didn't arrive on the story until the next night, and gave it nine seconds, a fraction of the two minutes Dan Rather gave the nightly El Nino update, about the weather "giving a gentle lift to the monarch butterfly." The morning shows were worse: NBC's Today passed on two anchor briefs, and ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning ignored it.
Yet another example of blatent meda bias. Also, it demonstrates the effectivess of Clinton's basic governing philosophy of overwhelming America and its institutions with scandal and sleaze.

 

World Series TV Ratings Lowest Ever

Fox gets the ratings it deserves

Television ratings for the White Sox/Astros World Series were the worst ever:
Chicago's four-game sweep of the Houston Astros averaged an 11.1 national rating with a 19 share on Fox. That's down about 7 percent from the previous low, an 11.9 with a 20 share for the 2002 World Series between the Anaheim Angels and the San Francisco Giants.
I'm glad the ratings for this series were terrible. As I've said previously, all year ESPN and FOX focused on the best-known teams from the largest markets who, in their view, were most likely to end up in the World Series. These were the easiest teams around which to devise a marketing strategy and the ones with the greatest revenue generation potential. The networks developed national'products' of these teams by making them familiar to Americans nationwide, all the while cultivating an audience who expects to see them in the post-season.

Alas, their bet didn't pay off. Though they hail from the third and fourth largest American cities, the White Sox and Astros both lack their own large national followings. To protect themselves from the inevitability that teams like this make the series, the networks could have spent the season -- indeed, the last few years -- marketing the game itself. It would be a better long-term investment. Instead, they chose a short-sighted, high risk product marketing strategy and got burned. Imagine the ratings if, say, Tampa Bay swept Milwaukee instead. FOX should consider itself lucky that the ratings were as good as they were.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

 

Sell!

Before when I posted about the chance of a stock market crash I was looking at internal stock market technical data which lead me to believe that the trading in the stock market indicated that the stock market was weak. It bolsters my case when the macroeconomic news confirms my fears.

Sales of new U.S. homes rose more slowly than expected in September, while the number of new houses on the market hit a record and median prices fell, according to a government report Thursday that could signal cooling in the housing boom.

 

Pictures tell a story


 

A Fall Classic and a Classic Fall


 

Miers withdraws nomination.

I didn't feel strongly one way or the other but I know there are many elated conservatives right now:


Harriet Miers Withdraws
Nomination to High Court

A WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE NEWS ROUNDUP
October 27, 2005 9:07 a.m.

Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to be a Supreme Court justice Thursday in the face of stiff opposition and mounting criticism about her qualifications.

President Bush said he reluctantly accepted her decision to withdraw, after weeks of insisting that he didn't want her to step down. He blamed her withdrawal on calls in the Senate for the release of internal White House documents that the administration has insisted were protected by executive privilege.

"It is clear that senators would not be satisfied until they gained access to internal documents concerning advice provided during her tenure at the White House -- disclosures that would undermine a president's ability to receive candid counsel," Mr. Bush said. "Harriet Miers's decision demonstrates her deep respect for this essential aspect of the constitutional separation of powers - and confirms my deep respect and admiration for her."

The news came as conservative criticism seemed to be spreading. Just Wednesday, the Concerned Women for America, the largest women's association of social conservatives, called for her withdrawal.

Senators had also been unhappy with Ms. Miers's answers in her nomination questionnaire.

Sen. Arlen Specter, who was to preside at Ms. Miers's confirmation hearings, told her Wednesday to expect to be questioned about White House's policies on the war on terror and whether she can be independent of President Bush if confirmed. For example, Specter said in a letter of preview questions for Miers, "What assurances can you give the Senate and the American people that you will be independent, if confirmed, and not give President Bush any special deference on any matter involving him which might come before the court?''

Bill C: Prediction. This whole thing will be completely forgotten, by conservatives, in a few months eventhough the left will keep trying to remind us that Bush 'betrayed us'.

 

My name is Cindy Sheehan

Look upon my works and despair


I met a moonbat from a sun-baked land,

Who said -- "two thousand and six will be
Our time in the sun... Karl Rove, will be banned,
Half sunk your shattered party lies, and Libby,
Will do some time, her sneering demand,
Tell our architect of rebirth, Howard Dean
We'll yet survive, stamping her tiny, feckless feet,
The hand that mocks Bush, which before cameras preen;
And on your platform these words spell defeat:
My name is Cindy Sheehan, Mother of Casey,
Look on my Works ye Clintons, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck of a party, where
The lone, level heads of the DLC are far away." --

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

 

SOX WIN!!! SOX WIN!!! SOX WIN!!!


 

Axis of Weasels

Junkyard Blog has this link to a Telegraph article (From last year):

The Italian businessman at the centre of a furious row between France and Italy over whose intelligence service was to blame for bogus documents suggesting Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy material for nuclear bombs has admitted that he was in the pay of France.

The man, identified by an Italian news agency as Rocco Martino, was the subject of a Telegraph article earlier this month in which he was referred to by his intelligence codename, "Giacomo".

His admission to investigating magistrates in Rome on Friday apparently confirms suggestions that - by commissioning "Giacomo" to procure and circulate documents - France was responsible for some of the information later used by Britain and the United States to promote the case for war with Iraq.

Italian diplomats have claimed that, by disseminating bogus documents stating that Iraq was trying to buy low-grade "yellowcake" uranium from Niger, France was trying to "set up" Britain and America in the hope that when the mistake was revealed it would undermine the case for war, which it wanted to prevent.

We now know the motive France would have for trying to make the Bush administration look mistaken in its claims about WMDs in Iraq. Put simply, the French were up to there eyeballs in Iraqi bribes- not to mention the Germans and the Russians. The French had every reason to attempt this manipulation in order to discredit the case for war. But this leaves the question of what happened to the WMDs. A question that has never been adequately explained. Saddam certainly made an effort to convince everyone that he had them, he never went out of his way to cooperate in proving that he did not have them. Even up to the launch of the war in March of 2003 when he had every incentive to cooperate with the U.N. inspectors. Why not cooperate?

An answer that not many have been willing to consider is that he did have some WMDs or, at least, a WMDs program and that in the run up to the war his friends in France, Russia, and Germany helped the Iraqis destroy or remove them from Iraq. This makes much more sense than Saddam was bluffing or that his scientists were lying to him. Lying to a maniacal dictator, not likely.

Junk Yard Blog speculates that Joe Wilson, who had claimed to have seen the forged documents but could not have at the time he claimed, might actually have seen them because he was tipped off by the French. Just as the IAEA might have been tipped off which lead to them quickly determining the documents were forged. This is a speculation too far. Without further evidence I would call this a smear against Wilson. Let's not give this guy any reason to gather sympathy. Wilson lied about his wife's involvment in his selection to go to Niger. He lied about disproving the Bush adminstration's evidence. Wilson has no credibility left.

What this revelation about French involvment in shaping the pre-war debate should unequivocally prove is that the French think only about the French. To be more charitable, the government of Jacque Chirac is corrupt and it is this corruption, not a sense of moral outrage, which caused them to oppose the Iraqi invasion and to pull Germany and Russia into a cabal. This part of the world opposed the Iraq invasion becaused it paid. I hope this ends the argument that the Bush administration did not do enough to get our former allies on board. I guess we could have offered to reimburse them the lost bribes they knew they were going to lose from Saddam.

 

Fitzgerald, Plame, Libby, Rove,...???

Does anyone know what's going on?

I've honestly tried to follow this story but can't figure out what's going on. I've follow the Wilson/Yellow cake story from early on, I remember the the Dems' hysterical cries for an independent counsel, only to see their glee turn to gloom when NYT reporter Judith Miller was jailed. And instantly the high-brow moralizing over the dreadul 'outing' of Plame became surprised indignation as the same editorialists started arguing that no crime had actually been committed. (Of course WSJ and various bloggers had been making that case for two years, but I digress.)

At this point I am truly stymied. What is going on? There are too many names for my small brain to remember. So far Tom Maquire has been doing yoeman's work, as has AJ Strata . Any others?

 

Blum's Homer

Sox Lead Houston 3-0



What a game! The Sox just keep finding ways to win. It was their 10th victory in 11 postseason games. All we need now is one more.

The first World Series game in the city of Houston was certainly one to remember. Though the Astros never give up, some Astros fans evidently do. By the time Geoff Blum hit his 14th inning homer, one third to two fifths of the seats behind home plate were empty, something which is obvious in the above photo. What a shame. It was a historic game and one can never know when -- or if -- the World Series will ever be back in Houston.

Diego adds: I understand that after 1:00 AM some fans had other priorities like kids and or getting to work in a few hours to think about so I can't blame some for leaving. I stayed up to watch from the comfort of my couch but was off to bed soon after the final out. I don't know who was awake for the end but a 2:20 AM Eastern time conclusion probably escaped most MLB fans. An earlier starting time and fewer commercials could solve that problem but that wont happen. When the Angels complained about the NY to LA to Chicago 3 games in 3 days situation I though someone should remind them that game times are determined with TV in mind and that MLB's TV contract is a big source for the funding of their paychecks.

Bill C adds: The Tivo did not record the end. If anybody has a link to a good story on the game I would appreciate it if you could post it. I am half elated and half royally p.o.ed. I just wrote Tvio begging for them to lengthen the recording times for baseball games. My own damn fault. I will set Tivo to record 5 hours next time.

It's getting to be time to drink from the sock! (Inside joke)

Diego answers: MLB.com offers to sell downloads of entire games for $3.95 and has other offers as well like highlights. Game 3 is available now. I've seen the plays they show for free but I've never purchased anything so I can't comment on the process.

Bill C says thanks

John O adds: I understand Diego's point that people have priorities other than a baseball game, even if it is the World Series. Its just that there were, from my perspective, an inordinate number of empty seats behind home plate relative to the rest of the ballpark. Real fans, especially season ticket holders and those who actually purchaed their own tickets (and I'm only guessing that those seated behind home plate largely didn't) are more likely to stay until the end. The entire ballpark wasn't anywhere near 1/3 empty for the 14th inning; it was still close to capacity from what I could see. Its obvious to me that a large percentage of those given seats behind home plate weren't real fans, which is a shame.

 

Condi Doom

One of my blogmates at the Daily Cause points out this alteration of a photo of Condi Rice in USA Today.

Pretty bad. Why not just put up this photo.




 

Leaving the Left

Jamie Glazov of Frontpagemag.com often conducts symposiums discussing major issues of the day. Recently he gathered a group of former members of the left and asked them why they joined the left, what caused them to leave, and what has been the fallout of that decision. One of the panel members is a Tammy Bruce:

Tammy Bruce is an openly gay, pro-choice, gun owning, pro-death penalty, voted-for-President Bush progressive feminist. She was drawn into feminist activism in the late 1980's to contribute to the ongoing effort to ensure safe and legal abortion for all women. Just two years after joining the National Organization for Women, and with a brand of feminism that places her somewhere between Donna Reed and Thelma and Louise, Ms. Bruce was elected president of the Los Angeles chapter of NOW at the age of 27.


Bruce describes what attracts people to the left and what motivates much leftist thinking.

Narcissism, while frequently thought of as “self-love,” is in fact the opposite. It is self-obsession based on victimhood and paranoia. Narcissism is actually the belief that everything that happens, happens because of you, or revolves around you. As an example, feminist narcissists see the pro-life movement as being against women, or as a jihad against women, as opposed to an expression of those peoples’ concern for life. The issues for narcissists, whether they be feminist, gay or black, is always about them, surrounding them, or about how the opposition is out to get them. Paranoia is a key factor in narcissism and easy to exploit.


The Left’s organizing relies on selling the line that everyone who disagrees with the leftist status quo is a hater of some sort; those who disagree with leftist policy are not dealt with as serious people who have a different opinion on the issues. That would then require arguments based on reason. Instead, leftist leadership casts their opposition as haters who live every moment planning to eradicate the gay, woman or black. When your base is primarily narcissistic that’s an easy line to sell, remains emotional devoid of reason, and makes people easy to condition and control. Leftist politics, like a vicious circle, rely on the damaged as footsoldiers, while the most damaged, the “Malignant Narcissist,” as I explain in The Death of Right and Wrong, move into positions of power and leadership, furthering the cultural and political destruction of our culture and of the left in general.


Bruce's criticism is devastating because it comes from someone the left should firmly have in its pocket. A lesbian who believes in an individual rights. What has changed over the past several decades that makes Tammy Bruce more comfortable voting for a Republican? Is it, simply, the conservative movements framing the concept of individual rights in terms of conservative issues? Whatever the reason, leftists and liberals must learn to adapt to a new paradigm. America is a libertarian country that choses to be governed from the right. Sea changes in political affiliation do not happen because a president's aids are indicted. They come from proposing bold ideas and attempting to implement them. The conservative movement should take heed of this lesson. We will survive for a long time if we remain committed to Federalism but the minute we attempt to nationalize what are only locally popular issues, think Prohibition, then we will lose the Tammy Bruces. And that would be a shame.

P.S. Read the entire symposium.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

 

Assault on Iran

It's just a video game -- for now:
As a Special Forces soldier in this playable mission, you will infiltrate Iran’s nuclear facility at Natanz, high in the mountains. But breaching the security cordon around the hardened target won’t be easy. Your team’s mission: Infiltrate the base, secure evidence of illegal uranium enrichment, rescue your man on the inside, and destroy the centrifuges that promise to take Iran into the nuclear age. Never before has so much hung in the balance... millions of lives, and the very future of democracy could be at stake.
Via In The Bullpen

 

The UN Covers up for Syria

This (top story, "Deleting a Dictator") would be comical if it weren't such a serious matter. Apparently ineptness in using MS Word has led to the revelation that Kofi Annan's office encouraged or forced whitewashing the UN's report on assassination of Rakif Hariri, from the Times of London:
The United Nations withheld some of the most damaging allegations against Syria in its report on the murder of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese Prime Minister, it emerged [Friday].

Corrupt AND inept! Tell me again how the UN has 'moral authority."

John O adds: Tell me again why the US needs to be a part of things like this and why we should continue funding these shenanigans.

Monday, October 24, 2005

 

Control of the Internet

Strategy Page has a post on the UN, China and control of the internet:
The nation that has done the most to try and control Internet use, China, is also one of the major proponents for UN control of the DNS servers. China, it appears, is less upset over “U.S. control of the Internet,” than it is in building the “Great Firewall of China” a little higher. As a practical matter, the U.S. has no more influence over ICANN and the DNS servers than anyone else. The UN proposal is all about censorship, and paranoia that somehow, because the Internet basically grew up in America (it was invented by the U.S. Department of Defense, while the web portion was developed, initially, in Switzerland, by a British fellow working for a European research consortium), America “controls” it. The Internet was built to be out of control, and to survive a nuclear war. It will survive censors and UN takeover attempts.

Friday, October 21, 2005

 

My greatest fear

Divorce

The book is based on research co-directed by Ms. Marquardt and Prof. Norval Glenn, a family scholar at the University of Texas at Austin. They estimate that one-quarter of Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 are children of divorce. Their study included face-to-face interviews with 71 young adults and a national telephone survey of 1,500 others--half from divorced families and half from intact ones.

Many of the comparisons are stunning. Even after a "good" divorce, 52% of respondents say that family life was stressful (compared with 6% from happy marriages and 35% from unhappy but low-conflict marriages). Half report that even as children they "always felt like an adult" (compared with 36% and 39% in the intact-family groups).

According to the study, children of divorce feel less protected by their parents, less emotionally secure and less safe at home than do other children. Children of divorce are less likely to look to their parents for comfort and more likely to feel obliged to protect their parents emotionally. They tend to see their parents as polar opposites long after marital conflict ends. Twice as many children of divorce agreed that, while growing up, "I felt like a different person with each of my parents."

It was responses like that which gave rise to the title of Ms. Marquardt's book. "Marriage gives kids one world," she told us, and divorce forces them to inhabit two, compelling many to become "early moral forgers" with a "divided self" as they try to fit into two, separate parental realms.


I am looking forward to being a father and I fear that I will lose contact with my children if my wife divorces me. How is it good for society to put this fear into the hearts of men?

Update:

From the Michael J. McManus review of Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce" by Elizabeth Marquardt:

First, two-thirds of those who divorce who are in low-conflict marriages, should work
harder to save their marriages, or at least wait until children are grown before divorcing. Only a third of the divorced said that they and ex-spouses tried to save the marriage.

Second, therapists who often recommend divorce and clergy who acquiesce in it - must become voices for the children urging parents to be more responsible.

Finally, this book is must reading for the millions of divorced parents or who are
considering it, for the judges who always grant divorce when only one person asks for it, and by state legislators who should consider replacing "No Fault Divorce" (Unilateral Divorce) with "Mutual Consent Divorce."

Jennifer Roback Morse talks about her experience with foster children:

In my own work as a foster parent, I have seen children of divorce from the opposite extreme. All foster kids are in tough situations. Yet I can honestly say, the most troubled kids and the most difficult situations were the ones that involved divorce.

Take the problem with rules. We have to run a pretty tight ship, and we have lots of little tricks for helping kids follow the rules and learn self-control. Often, the birth parents are upset with us because their kids are upset with us. We eventually convince them we aren’t taking away toys to be mean, or charging their kids fines because we need the money. Most birth parents come to understand and support our efforts.

But divorce creates a whole constellation of adults circling around the child. Besides the parents, there are stepparents or new girlfriends or new boyfriends. Often, there are grandparents in the picture, sometimes more than one set. It is tough to get two quarreling parents to work with us: it is almost impossible to get all these adults on the same page. The child can always find someone who will intervene on behalf of their Precious Little Darling Who Has Never Done Anything Wrong in His Whole Life.


 

Gone Phishin'

Yesterday I received an urgent email from "EBay" directing me to verify my username and password immediately. If not, my account would be deleted. Since it was of the utmost importance, they courteously included a link to the "EBay registration page". A cursory look at the link showed it to be nothing more than an amateur attempt at phishing. It was doubly suspicious since I don't even have an EBay account...

It did however remind me of the classic P-P-P-Powerbook story.

Happy Friday!
Bill O

PS. For more entertaining stories of what people have gotten scammers to do to try to close a deal, check out 419eater.com.

 

What poor families need

Gonzo of Colosseum fame writes about his observations while helping the poor over the hollidays.


I saw booze present almost everywhere. Sacks of beer cans. Bottles in cabinets. I got offered beer three times. I smelled, in many cases, the distinct aroma of - um - recreational herbs. As a former drug abuser myself, I know the signs of drug use, and they were present in a good number of the places we went to.

But - there is one thing I only saw in one place.

Kids studying and doing their homework. Curious - where we had clean houses, well mannered children, and children doing their homework, there was one universal characteristic.

Fathers being present.

Hmm. You tell me.


Read the whole thing, especially the comments.

DIEGO: Definitely a worthwhile read. The poverty level is often defined in terms of income and perhaps necessities that are missing. I think the definition of poverty should inlcude items that are present such as a DVD player in that, if you have a DVD player, you are not poor.

 

Harriet Miers romantically linked with Keith Richards


Rolling Stones rocker and Dallas attorney dated in the 1980's













Hey, at least we're trying!

 

Battles change, wars don't

Victor Davis Hanson observes:
In our age of sophisticated economics, we tend to look for material causes for wars — land, resources, populations — rather than remembering these age-old emotional urges. But perhaps we could learn from Thucydides the next time Osama bin Laden alleges in his fatwas that we provoked him by stationing troops in Saudi Arabia or by enforcing the U.N. oil-for-food embargo.

The fact is, the deep-seated anger and humiliation of Al Qaeda were more likely incited by a globalized and Western culture that really did threaten all the old hierarchies of an increasingly dysfunctional Arab and Islamic world (and the worried mullahs, patriarchs and theocrats, whose sense of privilege and honor derived from that world).

In other words, Bin Laden probably went to war over a sense of lost honor, in Thucydidean fear of Western globalization and due to his perceived self-interest — given perceptions of Western appeasement of radical Islamist terrorism since 1979 — that he had more to win than lose by hitting New York and Washington.

Of course, we must be careful when evoking the past to make sense of the present. Many, for example, recently cited the Iraq war as the modern equivalent of the disastrous Sicilian expedition of 415-413 BC, when Athens lost most of its fleet by assaulting distant Syracuse. But Syracuse was democratic, larger than Athens and, until the invasion, mostly neutral during the Peloponnesian War. A more historically apt analogy to that expedition would be if the United States had attacked democratic India during the midst of the U.S. war against Al Qaeda.

Study of the Peloponnesian War should also remind us that it is not assured that the wealthiest, most sophisticated and democratic state always triumphs over less impressive enemies. After all, Athens, for all its advantages, finally lost its war. And as Thucydides reminds us about the democratic empire's lapses, arrogance and major blunders, more often the chief culprit was its own infighting and internal discord than the prowess of its many enemies.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

 

Democracy: A Communist Chinese Definition

The democratic dictatorship

The Chinese Communist regime has issued a white paper on democracy:
China's government on Wednesday issued a lengthy justification of its commitment to autocratic rule by the Communist party entitled “The Building of Political Democracy”.

The document, China's first policy “white paper” on the subject, left no doubt that Beijing defines democracy very differently from western governments or domestic dissidents who think it should mean giving ordinary people a real role in choosing their leaders.

“Democratic government is the Chinese Communist party governing on behalf of the people ... while upholding and perfecting the people's democratic dictatorship,” the document said.

“China's socialist political democracy has vivid Chinese characteristics,” it said.
I didn't know repression, forced sterilization and mass murder were Chinese characteristics, though their effects are indeed vivid.

 

Petition for the Withdrawal of the Nomination of Harriet Miers to the U.S. Supreme Court

I just submitted my name. I don't know how everyone feels about this but if you believe that her nomination is a mistake I strongly urge you to do the same. The administration is being stubborn about this and they need to know that opposition is strong and that they should nominate a person who has qualifications and who has a record supporting originalism. We should only accept Miers withdrawal and summary execution.

One more thing, don't most conservatives read National Review or the WSJ opinion pages? At least once and awhile? I am getting more and more bothered about this nomination as time goes by and part of that is the feeling that Miers should step down because it would be good for the team. Her nomination is splitting the conservative movement like nothing else since George W. Bush took office. A team player would realize that she is hurting the movement and she is hurting her president. If she doesn't care about the movement then I can understand sticking around; this being the worst case scenario. But then, she should have her nomination withdrawn for that reason.

Someone who is deaf to her critics within the group of partisans that is the most supportive of the president whom she so openly admires is not someone you can count on to fight for your principles once she is given a lifetime appointment.

 

Bias in The Chicago Tribune

From Liz Sly's news report on the front page of today's Chicago Tribune:
From the opening minutes of his trial Wednesday, when an unrepentant Saddam Hussein refused to state his name to the judge, it became clear that the process of bringing the former tyrant to justice for the atrocities committed during his regime is going to be long and arduous.

Showing flashes of the defiance that prompted President Bush to wage war against him, Hussein insisted he is still the president of Iraq, jostled with the guards who tried to escort him out of the court and shouted, 'It's a lie!' when the charges against him were read.
(Emphasis mine.)

President Bush didn't wage war against Saddam. The US as a nation, along with our coalition partners, did. It is simply irresponsible to phrase that fact in this way. It makes it seem as if the conflict was personal one rather than what it was.

 

Another reason to root for the Sox

It would really p.o. Castro

But even more amazing than the turnaround of this once lifeless franchise are the stories of its two Cuban pitching stars, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez and Jose Contreras. The pair infuriated Castro by drawing attention to the true nature of his police state when they defected in 1997 and 2002 respectively. Every time they take the mound in the World Series, the announcers will have another opportunity to mention their daring escapes from Castro's island prison. If they lead their team to a World Series victory, it will provide the ultimate contrast to the obscurity and poverty in which their countrymen are forced to live — and to which they would have remained consigned had they not risked their lives to escape. And it will enrage Castro, whom El Duque once called "the Devil" on national television.

Diego: It's too bad the Sox are not playing the Atlanta Braves. Castro's buddies former President Carter and Ted Turner could have been watching together from the sky box. And who knows, if Carter shared a box with Michael Moore, why not Fidel?


 

More on Able Danger

Looks like Able Danger stuff is really hitting the fan. Read Michell Malkins latest updates. Apparently there's been a bunch of unsavory smeering of the Able Danger whistle-blower, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer. This whole investigation is likely to have some real bombshells in it. It's rather disappointed to think that the Pentagon and the Defense Intelligance Agency are actually behind all this cover-up and smearing.

 

Whiners and Losers

The Angels and the Democrats

Anyone who watched the ALCS games last week will know what I'm talking about here. After "the call" in game 2 the series headed to Anaheim and the fans were feeling a bit of a chip on their collective shoulder. In particular, watching last saturday's game we heard the fans erupting into cat calls and boos if an ump made a call that didn't favor the Angels. Even calls that weren't close were met by boos and jeers.

What does this mean? It tells me that the fans. and probably the team also, had found a new foe. No longer were the playing the Sox but in their minds they were playing the umpires. And when you play the umps you can't win.

This is a common phenomenon in society, when an individual or an organization feels slighted by a higher power or something beyond thier control they can lose sight of the game at hand and begin to wallow in self-destructive behavior and lack of motivation. We saw it clearly with the Angels, we see it with the poor, unemployed, inner-city black man who blames "the man" for his own ills. And we see it in the modern democratic party.

The Dems felt slighted by the 2000 election and they've wallowed ever since. Rather than playing in the political arena to win voters and support by promoting an original agenda, the Dems have spent the last 6 years trashing the President, this country, the war, the legitimacy of the current govt, etc., etc, ad naseum. In short, they've lost sight of the game at hand, and the opponent, and instead have focused on the process.

You can't win a game that you are not playing, like the Angels and the self-pitying inner-city denizens, the Dems need to get their head in the game if they want to win anything. And right now this game is winnable for them if only they can get stop wallowing in self-pity and start playing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

 

Spanish Judge Issues Warrant for U.S. Soldiers

It should be treated as an act of war

Spanish Judge Santiago Pedraz has issued an international arrest warrant for three U.S. soldiers, citing a lack of US cooperation on the matter:
Pedraz had sent two requests to the United States -- in April 2004 and June 2005 --— to have statements taken from the suspects or to obtain permission for a Spanish delegation to quiz them. Both went unanswered.

He said he issued the arrest order because of a lack of judicial cooperation from the United States regarding the case.

The warrant 'is the only effective measure to ensure the presence of the suspects in the case being handled by Spanish justice, given the lack of judicial cooperation by U.S. authorities,' the judge said in the warrant.
As I said previously:
This is absolutely outrageous! The Bush administration must act swiftly and aggressively to quash this nonsense, lest it set any dangerous precedents. They should make it clear that foreign judges and prosecutors have absolutely no business whatsoever investigating matters such as these and forcefully demand Spain cease all such inquires (in which US military personnel face legal jeopardy) immediately. They should also make it clear to the world that any judge in any country who issues an arrest warrant for any American under these circumstances committing an act of war against the US and we will respond accordingly. The warrant-issuing judge should expect - at a minimum - to face extradition to the US, along with anyone else involved.

There is no room for compromise on this. It is absolutely vital that Bush administration handles this precedent setting case properly. Lawfare against us is inevitable and we must limit its potential scope as much as possible.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

 

Iraq & The Media

Disseminating lies

From Strategy Page:
Another interesting demonstration of how everyone tries to spin the news (their) way, Yesterday, the U.S. announced that air strikes killed about 70 hostile gunmen in and around Ramadi. In one case, a crowd of armed men were observed planting a roadside bomb, at the site of the successful use of such a bomb last week. In other cases, tips came in about the location of houses where gunmen were gathering. The terrorists and anti-government forces immediately declared that the smart bombs blew up women and children, and that the Americans are heartless war-criminals and butchers. What was not reported, and is no secret, is the sharp detail visible via the airborne cameras used to scope out these targets before the bombs are dropped. Many clips of these videos have gotten out, and it's pretty clear in them who is a young guy carrying weapons, and who are women and children, or unarmed men just standing around. There's also the usual failure to find all the dead bodies, or people with appropriate injuries in local hospitals, to back up the massacre claims. But the Big Lie gets play every time. Too good to pass up by many news outlets, especially those who believe, in their gut, that Saddam should have been left alone, and still be in power.

 

World Series Ticket Deal

It seems there were deals to be made for World Series tickets. Current bid on ebay for 2 upper deck (sec 555 row 18) tickets for next Sunday's World Series game in Chicago is $2,325.

The White Sox offered a deal where you could purchase a 2005 World Series ticket if you also purchased 2006 season tickets. Two season tickets in the 555 secion would cost $1,900. Add the cost of two WS tickets at $250 for the pair and you would walk away from this transaction with $175 in cash and 2006 season tickets basically for free.

 

Pax UN?

Despicable Transnational Progressive propaganda

The Commission on Human Security, a Transnational Progressive entity if there ever was one, issued a report entitled War and Peace in the 21st Century which credits the UN for the general decline in armed conflict worldwide. Wrechard comments:
The Commission on Human Security notes that the media has been remarkably oblivious to this surprising trend towards peace. That's not surprising given that probably nowhere has the process lauded by the Commission on Human Security been more in evidence than in Afghanistan, and more studiously ignored. The UNHCR itself admits that 'more than 3.5 million Afghans have returned to their homeland since the end of 2001', one of the most remarkable reversals of refugee flows in history -- and then gives the credit to the United Nations -- 'when the Bonn Agreement set Afghanistan on the long and bumpy road to political stability and socio-economic development.' But what else happened in that time frame? Inquiring minds want to know.

Kofi Annan has recently made it known that he was for elections in Iraq all along. The restoration of constitutional rule in Iraq is destined to become yet another feather in the cap of the World Organization.
Let me get this straight. Annan labels Operation Iraqi Freedom 'illegal' after presiding over the Oil-For-Food scandal, which Saddam successfully used to starve his people (while, with UN complicity, blaming the US for the situation) and deny the US French, German, Russian and Chinese acquiescence of OIF. So the US takes most of the risk in both Iraq and Afganistan, incurs a world wide public relations black eye both for starving children and our failure to secure the demonstrably impossible to attain 'international approval' for OIF and gets all of the blame for the UN exacerbated problems in Iraq all the while underwriting the whole Iraq enterprise, most of the Afganistan one and a significant share of UN shenanigans. And Annan and the UN claim the credit when its obvious things are going well. Nice.

 

Russian Billiards


Russian billiards are different from American billiards. Oh, and it gives me an excuse to post this photo of my wife.

She is proudly wearing her anniversary present, a corset, which is the fashion rage in Moscow. The photo was taken during our trip to Kazakhstan. We are in a private room at one of the better restaurants in Uralsk. In the background you can see the dinner table and my wife's friend Feta. We were visiting for Feta and Anton's wedding.

 

Illegal Alien Policy

Something needs to be done.

"Return every single illegal entrant -- no exceptions," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

This shouldn't be a debate.

Monday, October 17, 2005

 

Another nail in the Baby Bell's coffin

As Wi-Fi spreads across the country, wired networks are being bypassed and the value of these networks will, undoubtedly, be worthless in the not to distant future. Of course, big business has one last card to play when it comes to dealing with upstart companies with the latest technology.

Asked why other municipalities have had a harder time succeeding, he replies: "Politics."

"If we get a go-ahead, we can do a fairly good-sized city in a month or two," said Ziari. "The problem is getting the go-ahead."

"The 'Who's-going-to-get-a-piece-of-the action?' has been a big part of the obstacles," said Karen Hanley, senior marketing director of the Austin, Texas-based Wi-Fi Alliance, an industry group.

Update:

Bill O in the comments mentions the broadband over power lines project which is currently being tested. Here is the wikipedia entry on the subject. By the way Bill, shouldn't you be working on the device which will allow us to synchronize TV and radio broadcasts so we don't have to listen to the horrible Fox broadcasters?



Sunday, October 16, 2005

 

World Series Tickets

How to get em.


CHICAGO -- Individual-game tickets to each of four World Series games that could be played by the American League Central Division Champion Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field will go on sale Tuesday, October 18 at noon.
Tickets will be available only through TicketMaster - by phone at (866) SOX GAME and (312) 559-1212 and online at whitesox.com. Tickets will not be sold at ticket outlets or at the U.S. Cellular Field Box Office. Fans may purchase up to four tickets to one game only.

World Series ticket prices, as set by Major League Baseball, are: Lower Deck Box $185; Lower Deck Reserved/Bleachers/Upper Deck Box $140; and Upper Deck Reserved $125.

World Series tickets must be printed at home using Ticketfast or picked up at the U.S. Cellular Field Box Office. Tickets that are not printed through Ticketfast must be picked up at the U.S. Cellular Field Box Office, Gate 4 Windows 1-10, between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 20 or Friday, October 21 only. Will Call ticket orders that are not picked up by 9:00 p.m. Friday, October 21 will be cancelled and the amount charged to the customer's credit card will be refunded.

The World Series will begin on Saturday, October 22.


 

Chicago improv parties


A non-improviser nails the behavior of improvisers


Someday, maybe soon, I'll possibly understand. Or perhaps, like many conversations I have had with improv actors in the past, I wasn't joking with her and wanted to actually know some truth about her, instead of trying to have a conversation while trying to be funny with each line. Or perhaps, she was trying to be funny.


Ouch!

Friday, October 14, 2005

 

Gore: U.S. engaged in Smurf genocide



















Former Vice-President Al Gore says he has conclusive proof that the United States has been indiscriminately bombing Smurf villages. "As you can see from the videotape, there is no doubt that U.S. military aircraft have been engaged in a campaign to whip out the entire Smurf people. My office is currently trying to contact the Smurf ambassador at the United Nations to see if there is anything that I can do to help stop the slaughter."

Gore also thanked the brave film crew from Belgium who captured the atrocity on tape. He added, "If I had been elected president there would have been no dead Smurfs."

The Smurf ambassador could not be reached for comment.

 

Conservative Judicial Activism

Confirmed or not, Miers has opened up a fissure among conservatives

There is no doubt in my mind that Harriet Miers is a good person. She might even turn into a great justice- a Scalia clone. But at this point she has taken so many broadsides from within the conservative movement there is almost no way she could not end up disappointing some segment and that would prove to be very divisive and destructive. As I noted, there are some conservatives who are not particularly worried about whether the next justice has a grounding in constitutional law and I suspect that is because they want a conservative who will vote for conservative outcomes which may contradict the principles of original intent and federalism.

Let's take the Oregon assisted suicide law which is before the Supreme Court as an example. A conservative would, most likely, not favor this law. However, the question is whether the state of Oregon can have an assisted suicide law without violating the constitution. If there is nothing in the constitution on this, then the law should stand. I would be distressed if a conservative justice stood against the law as a matter of personal preference.

What if Miers becomes a conservative activist? She will alienate libertarian leaning conservatives who will ask themselves if they really want to support a party that wants to rule from on high.

What if she is a strict constructionist/originalist? She will vote in favor of upholding laws she might politically oppose but which are the will of the people. The issue will simply go back to the state and it will be fought within the proper arena: politics.

The Schiavo business in Congress strikes me as an astonishing violation of the most purpose of federalism. In the same way, Ashcroft's attack on Oregon's Death with Dignity Act is a deep violation of principles of federalism. I say "deep violation" advisedly: I believe that a central purpose of federalism is Westphalian (after the famous treaty that ended the 30 Years War): We properly use federalism to defuse quasi-religious political controversies over the meaning of fundamental things — "life," "personhood," "consent to die," "familial autonomy," etc. Such issues are appropriately divisive: their resolution depends on one's acceptance of fundamental systems of belief — acceptance that will almost never admit of much compromise and that cannot be rationally resolved through positive social or "hard" science.

The Westphalian principle decentralizes these issues to lower levels of government to allow each side in the debate to get some chance for their reasonable, heartfelt position to prevail. To centralize such issues simply because one can muster a necessary majority in either Congress or the Supreme Court is repulsive to this view of federalism.


I think the debate over Miers has degenerated because some conservatives do not mind the idea of activism if it is conservative. I can understand the frustration behind this position. There are many bad judicial decrees, like Rowe v. Wade, that need to be reversed. However, we must do this within the system the founders created or risk discrediting ourselves. Now that we are the majority we cannot confirm judges who will ignore the will of the people or we will lose our majority. You will have to live with winning our battles slowly. Maybe, not at all. Liberals have tried to turn our courts into super-legislatures which enact liberal policies. We do not want to make the same mistake.

Update: Bookworm argues that as a convert to conservatism Miers is unlikely to betray those principles:
"Have you ever noticed that there's no zealot like a convert?" But is she a zealot for the constitution?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

 

Harriet Souter















The rolling disaster which is the Miers nomination an insurrection a lot of conservatives are loathe to discuss. But we must. It is a disservice to ourselves and our beliefs to place loyalty over conviction, the desire for peace within our ranks over principled criticism.

I am not going to bother listing the myriad critiques of Miss Miers. Just go to these sites for the latest:

NRO Bench Memos,
NRO Corner,
and the newest stomach churning revelation from Drudge.

The point I would like to make is that those who are opposed to Harriet Miers, and I count myself as one of them, hold these views deeply because she has not demonstrated that she would follow a strict constructionist judicial philosophy when she is on the bench. She is being sold by the administration as a religious conservative who would reach the right conclusions because of her conservatism. But that raises the question of how she would reach those beliefs. She could turn out to be a conservative activist. In that case she would come to conservative conclusions for the wrong reasons.

This is something important for liberals to understand. Strict constructionist interpretation of the constitution holds the law and precedent in high regard because that was the way our founders wanted our courts to behave. Philosopher Kings judging based on personal preference is anathema to our democratic values and the blame for the propagation of this mindset lies squarely at your feet. American society has built in mechanisms for change that are slow but effective. Affecting change in the highest law in the land requires that you convince a large majority of the people to support that change. By forgoing the process of enacting constitutional amendments to make fundamental changes and diminishing states rights in favor of judges who rule by whim you have created a generation of conservatives (many who are former Democrats) who oppose the extreme liberal agenda of the most leftist judges. Not surprisingly, some conservatives are looking to swing the pendulum in the other direction using the same method; you reap what you sow.

So we conservatives are arguing over principle. One side does not want to compromise the principles of our constitutional democracy and the other wants to role back the egregious edicts of our judicial masters on the left expeditiously using the tactics of the left. You can hardly blame them. Although revenge might be sweet I believe principle will reign.

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