Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Value of Value-Added Data

The AGW theory is based on science, right? And settled science, right? The Times of London has learned something about the data at the East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU):

SCIENTISTS at the University of East Anglia (UEA) have admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based.

It means that other academics are not able to check basic calculations said to show a long-term rise in temperature over the past 150 years.
What a shame. We'll just have to take the CRU's word for it. So what did the scientists keep?

In a statement on its website, the CRU said: “We do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (quality controlled and homogenised) data.”

It would be a wonderful world indeed if we could all rely on "value-added (quality controlled and homogenised) data." You'll be happy to know that I've checked my "value-added data" and I am actually the King of Portugal. You might be a winner, too! So what does it all mean?

The CRU is the world’s leading centre for reconstructing past climate and temperatures. Climate change sceptics have long been keen to examine exactly how
its data were compiled. That is now impossible.

Roger Pielke, professor of environmental studies at Colorado University, discovered data had been lost when he asked for original records. “The CRU is basically saying, ‘Trust us’. So much for settling questions and resolving debates with science,” he said.

My son's 8th grade math teacher expects her students to show their work. You would think that the world's foremost repository of climate information, which is the backbone for just about everything we know about AGW, would be able to do the same. You would be wrong. The worthies at East Anglia might flunk out of my son's 8th grade math class, but we should have no compunctions about fundamentally altering the way the world works because of data they can't produce. Makes perfect sense. But that's okay -- we know it's true, because we do trust the East Anglia CRU, right? They wouldn't lie to us, right? There's no reason to question Al Gore and his pals, because they wouldn't steer us wrong. It's those nasty skeptics who are standing in the way of Progress again.

That little December 10 soiree in Copenhagen ought to be pretty interesting. I can forgive the president for getting his protocol screwed up and bowing to the Japanese emperor. But he'd better damned well not bow to the East Anglia CRU.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

Well, I'm back from my Black Friday shopping trip. I went to three stores and still made it back to the house in time to pack for our trip to Madison. I bought a couple of kids toys to give as donations, a couple of cooking items, a gift for Mr. D and a couple of items for myself, I mean "miscellaneous" items :)

Walgreens had more employees than customers in the store. Wal Mart and JCP were crowded but not horrible.

The funniest sight I saw was a Wal Mart employee who was wearing a bright orange safety vest that said Event Staff on the back of the vest.

Code Green

I'm watching the unfolding scandal from the East Anglia CRU carefully, because what we're learning is huge. Charlie Martin, a computer programmer by trade, has taken a look at the notes of "Harry," the computer programmer who had the unfortunate job of trying to turn the climate data into something useful. His entire synopsis is definitely worth reading.

The computer code is crucial to understanding what's happened. The data from the East Anglia CRU have formed the very backbone of much of the science behind global warming/global climate change/AGW/whatever they're calling it these days. Martin identifies the key passage, in which they discover that they can't run the program on the existing data, which cannot be replicated because it's been through so many gyrations already. "Harry's" comments are italicized:

This is not good — the existing program produces a serious error when it’s run on what is supposed to be the old, working data. Harry presses on, finding a solution to that bug, going through many more issues as he tried to recreate the results of these runs for the data from 1901 to 1995. Finally he gives up. He has spoken to someone about what should be done:

AGREED APPROACH for cloud (5 Oct 06).
For 1901 to 1995 – stay with published data. No clear way to replicate process as undocumented. For 1996 to 2002:
1. convert sun database to pseudo-cloud using the f77 programs;
2. anomalise wrt 96-00 with anomdtb.f;
3. grid using (which will use 6190 norms);
4. calculate (mean9600 – mean6190) for monthly grids, using the published cru_ts_2.0 cloud data;
5. add to gridded data from step 3.
This should approximate the correction needed.

Catch that? They couldn’t recreate the results, so they’re going back to their published data for the first 95 years of the 20th century. Only …

Next problem — which database to use? The one with the normals included is not appropriate (the conversion progs do not look for that line so obviously are not intended to be used on +norm databases).

They still don’t know what to use for the next several years. Harry gives up; it’s easier to write new codes.

22. Right, time to stop pussyfooting around the niceties of Tim’s labyrinthine software suites – let’s have a go at producing CRU TS 3.0! since failing to do that will be the definitive failure of the entire project.

Again, I ask the question: would you remake the entire world economy and impose a gigantic regulatory scheme of the sort envisioned by the luminaries who will gather in Copenhagen in December? Are you confident that the matter is settled?

I'm not. And I'm not willing to accept the blithe assurances of those people who are trying to stampede us into action.

Just a guess -- Al Gore makes Bernie Madoff look like a piker. There's a lot more and I'll be talking about it in the coming days.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Week 12

What's shakin'? Benster is here and we're going to cover the games that you might watch after you've stuffed a whole mess of turkey down your throat.

I'm hoping that they chew it a little first.

Friendly pilgrims, the picking is here. Chew on some of this:

Glorious Green Bay Packers (- 10 1/2) vs. Motor City Kitties. It's Detroit's chance to embarrass themselves on national television! Fearless Maria is standing right here and she asked, "don't they always?" Well, yeah, Maria. They do. Green Bay is back from the dead but they are without Aaron Kampmann and Al Harris, which would hurt them if they were playing a real NFL team. Fortunately, they aren't. MattStaff (a/k/a Matthew Stafford, rookie QB for the Lions) is out with a separated shoulder. Even though he showed some toughness on Sunday, he needs to stay on the bench this week. Calvin Johnson is listed as questionable, which means that ol' Daunte Culpepper might have to run for his life. Packers 80, Kitties 3.

They do play a little defense in Detroit, Seabiscuit, so I'm guessing that the Packers aren't likely to score 80 points. However, they will score a fair amount and if Stafford and Johnson are unavailable, it will be yet another truly ugly Thanksgiving in Detroit. Packers 34, Lions 17.

Bear Down Chicago da Bearz (+10 1/2) vs. Minnesota Vikings. Jay Cutler, come on down! You're the next contestant on the show, "Can You Survive Three Guys and a Mullet?" Cutler is a big fat bust. In fact, I might even call him Ryan Leaf. Cutler could be a good quarterback this season if interceptions and demanding trades counted as good statistics. But they don't. And I wouldn't be surprised if Jared Allen chases him right out the Metrodome doors into oncoming traffic. It's going to be a normal Vikings victory. Vikings 50, da Bearz 10.

I don't know what to say about Cutler. He has a fabulous arm and a two-cent head, based on what I've observed this year. The Bears have really mortgaged their future for this guy and it's a shame. No, wait a minute -- I'm a Packer fan. This is justice. Sweet, sweet justice. Meanwhile, da Bearz aren't likely to do much on Sunday. Vikings 34, da Bearz 13.

New England Belicheks (+3) vs. New Orleans Saints. Get your popcorn ready -- Tom Brady is coming to the Superdome to play the big, bad Saints, led by my man Drew Brees, fantasy football star extraordinaire. You can't stop the Saints and the Saints defense could get into Brady's grill. I'm not down on Brady; I'm just saying it's going to be a hostile environment. Saints 63, Belicheks 56.

That's a basketball score, Ben. You realize we pick football games 'round here, right? No matter. I have a feeling about this game. The Patriots need to make a statement and this is the place where they make it. Vikings fans take note: you could be seeing a home field advantage happening this year, just like '98. Maybe it will turn out better this time. Patriots 31, Saints 27.

Alabama Crimson Tide (-10 1/2) vs. Auburn Tigers. Alabama is #2 in the nation according to the random old dudes and sputtering computers that make up the Big Conference Shutout (BCS). 'Bama should win but Auburn might be willing to play spoiler and they might. Auburn 40, Bama 37.

I'm not sure that Alabama has given up 40 points all season, Skywalker. In any event, they have been able to win the games that matter up to this point and while Auburn is a traditional rival and generally a very good program, they aren't quite at their usual high standard this year and Bama will win. Alabama 21, Auburn 10.

Notre Dame Golden Domer Twinks (+10 1/2) vs. Stanford and Son Cardinal. Hey Charlie? Feelin' the heat? You could be out of a job after this game. Just like Ty Willingham. And Bob Davie. And Gerry Faust. Oh yeah, those Notre Dame alumni don't like coaches who don't win much. And you don't. Stanford won at USC by a lot and with that in mind, Stanford won't roll over and die to the Irish. Cardinal 31, Fire Charlie Weis 21.

It's not easy being Charlie Weis these days. That much is certain. The expectations are so very high in South Bend and I wonder if the level of excellence the Irish once had is even sustainable these days. It doesn't help that Stanford turns out to be pretty good. Stanford 27, ND 16.

Cretin-Derham Hall Raiders (NL) vs. Eden Prairie Eagles. For those of you who don't know who the heck these guys even are, this is the Minnesota State 5A championship game. Decrepit picked this game because the college ranks were pretty thin, and I can't blame him -- I have no interest in picking the Coe vs. St. Thomas game. I don't follow high school football that much, but I do know that these guys are both powerhouses. I think Eden Prairie will win because they have more experience playing at this level. EP 31, CDH 20.

Actually, Cretin has a glorious sports history, being the alma mater of Joe Mauer, Paul Molitor, Chris Weinke, Steve Walsh and a host of other luminaries. This year the Raiders feature the #1 recruit in the country, the enormous offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson, who is about 9'4" and weighs something like 7,230 lbs. Okay, I might be exaggerating a little, but he's a huge dude. Having said that, I think Eden Prairie won't be intimidated by Mr. Henderson (and any dude that big is automatically a Mister) and their overall balance and power will win the day. Eden Prairie 21, Cretin 16.

Jay Cutler also reminds me of Ricky Stanzi, the Iowa quarterback that I love to rip. What does Seantrel Henderson eat, anyway? I think it must be old warehouses or something. Ben out!

Is the Climate Changing on Climate Change?

By now you might have heard about the e-mails and other information from the East Anglia University Climate Research Unit that was hacked and put out on the internet. The MSM has been trying to avoid discussing the matter, with one notable and honorable exception: Declan McCullagh of CBS News. He moved the discussion forward in a big way yesterday:

Last week's leaked e-mails range from innocuous to embarrassing and, critics believe, scandalous. They show that some of the field's most prominent scientists were so wedded to theories of man-made global warming that they ridiculed dissenters who asked for copies of their data ("have to respond to more crap criticisms from the idiots"), cheered the deaths of skeptical journalists, and plotted how to keep researchers who reached different conclusions from publishing in peer-reviewed journals.

Cheering the death of skeptical journalists is bad form. Trying to keep contrary research out of peer-reviewed journals is something else entirely. One of the keys to the case of those who support the AGW theory is that there isn't any dissent and that the science is settled. Al Gore has made that argument, as have many others.

So why would people who believe in scientific inquiry try to stop the work of others from seeing the light of day? As McCullagh explains, some of the key research is cobbled together in a way that cannot be duplicated, a key to demonstrating the soundness of any scientific theory. He picks up the narrative of an East Anglia computer programmer named "Harry," who sets out his complicated tale of woe:

I am seriously worried that our flagship gridded data product is produced by Delaunay triangulation - apparently linear as well. As far as I can see, this renders the station counts totally meaningless. It also means that we cannot say exactly how the gridded data is arrived at from a statistical perspective - since we're using an off-the-shelf product that isn't documented sufficiently to say that. Why this wasn't coded up in Fortran I don't know - time pressures perhaps? Was too much effort expended on homogenisation, that there wasn't enough time to write a gridding procedure? Of course, it's too late for me to fix it too. Meh.

I am very sorry to report that the rest of the databases seem to be in nearly as poor a state as Australia was. There are hundreds if not thousands of pairs of dummy stations, one with no WMO and one with, usually overlapping and with the same station name and very similar coordinates. I know it could be old and new stations, but why such large overlaps if that's the case? Aarrggghhh! There truly is no end in sight... So, we can have a proper result, but only by including a load of garbage!

One thing that's unsettling is that many of the assigned WMo codes for Canadian stations do not return any hits with a web search. Usually the country's met office, or at least the Weather Underground, show up – but for these stations, nothing at all. Makes me wonder if these are long-discontinued, or were even invented somewhere other than Canada!

Knowing how long it takes to debug this suite - the experiment endeth here. The option (like all the anomdtb options) is totally undocumented so we'll never know what we lost. 22. Right, time to stop pussyfooting around the niceties of Tim's labyrinthine software suites - let's have a go at producing CRU TS 3.0! since failing to do that will be the definitive failure of the entire project.

Ulp! I am seriously close to giving up, again. The history of this is so complex that I can't get far enough into it before by head hurts and I have to stop. Each parameter has a tortuous history of manual and semi-automated interventions that I simply cannot just go back to early versions and run the update prog. I could be throwing away all kinds of corrections - to lat/lons, to WMOs (yes!), and more. So what the hell can I do about all these duplicate stations?...

As anyone who has ever worked with statistical analysis knows, one of the keys is getting past the noise in the numbers. It is exceedingly rare that you can get an entirely pure data set, but this description points to a number of highly red flags, especially the business about "manual and semi-automated interventions" and the lack of corroboration of the Canadian data and the suspicion of duplicate data in the set.

It's important to understand -- this data set is the basis for much of what we've been told is definitive about AGW. If there's this much noise in the numbers, we certainly shouldn't be relying on this data set. And we definitely shouldn't be basing an entire regulatory scheme (Cap and Trade) on it.

This is going to get very interesting.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Out of Town Reviews Coming In

One of the things we've heard repeatedly since the Obama administration began is that America would regain respect in the world, the respect that apparently had been lost by the Bush administration. And the president already has a Nobel Peace Prize on the mantel.

But how is he doing, really? Der Spiegel is not impressed:

Upon taking office, Obama said that he wanted to listen to the world, promising respect instead of arrogance. But Obama's currency isn't as strong as he had believed. Everyone wants respect, but hardly anyone is willing to pay for it. Interests, not emotions, dominate the world of realpolitik. The Asia trip revealed the limits of Washington's new foreign policy: Although Obama did not lose face in China and Japan, he did appear to have lost some of his initial stature.

In Tokyo, the new center-left government even pulled out of its participation in a mission which saw the Japanese navy refueling US warships in the Indian Ocean as part of the Afghanistan campaign. In Beijing, Obama failed to achieve any important concessions whatsoever. There will be no binding commitments from China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. A revaluation of the Chinese currency, which is kept artificially weak, has been postponed. Sanctions against Iran? Not a chance. Nuclear disarmament? Not an issue for the Chinese.

You almost hate to imagine what would have happened if he'd lost face. Meanwhile, the Times of London also cast a cold eye:

Obama’s Asian adventure perceptibly increased the murmurings of dissent when he returned to Washington last week, having failed to wring any public concessions from China on any major issue.

For most Americans, the most talked-about moment of the trip was not the Great Wall visit but his low bow to Emperor Akihito of Japan, which the president’s right-wing critics assailed as “a spineless blunder” and excessively deferential.
Personally, I don't think it was spineless, although it's frankly bizarre to see the Leader of the Free World bow to anyone. The larger problem is this: there's a pretty fine line between being self-effacing and self-abasing. America doesn't gain anything from feigning weakness.

Lightning Round - 112309

Busy weekend and not much time for blogging; perhaps I'll catch up later. In the meantime:

  • Yes, Harry Reid got his version of Obamacare past a procedural hurdle on Saturday, but now the fun begins. And the fun should be dealing with amendments. The best idea I read: either defund the bribe that bought off Mary Landrieu, or match it for every other state.
  • The Instapundit made a point that I've long thought myself, to wit: "I think Obama’s 'charisma' was based on voter narcissism — people excited not just about electing a black President, but about themselves, voting for a black President. Now that’s over, and they’re stuck just with him, and emptied of their own narcissism there’s not much there to fill out the suit."
  • And in case you missed it, Saturday Night Live finally gave the President a good shot. Powerline has the video. The key line, put in the mouth of Hu Jintao: "I am noticing that each of your plans to save money involves spending even more money." While I'm sure at least one of my portside commenters will be along anon to chastise me for not being sufficiently vigilant in scorning the profligate record of the George W. Bush, let me at least say this: in the context of Washington profligacy, I don't suspect the first year of the Obama administration would be "change you can believe in."

Friday, November 20, 2009


I'm sure there's some sort of logical explanation for this. But we'd better hear it soon. Click the link and read it.

Update: The New York Times is on the story, too.

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Week 11

"For he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fell-ooooooooh, that nobody can deny."

So who would that be, Seabiscuit?

Do you know what tomorrow is, Decrepit?

Saturday, I think. Oh, that's right, it's your birthday. So I take it that you're the jolly good fellow, Grasshopper?

Who else? Now, it's time to get down to bidness.

Minnesota Golden Brewsters (+10) vs. Herky the Hawkeye, No Longer Featuring Ricky Stanzi, My All-Time Favorite Hawkeye/Whipping Boy. Iowa is a wounded team. Without my whipping post Stanzi, they have not won a game. The Brew Crew is coming off a win in which they became bowl eligible by defeating Lakeland Dental Academy, er, I mean South Dakota State. I'm calling the upset! Brewsters 38, Iowa Minus Stanzi Equals 17.

Based on that math, I may have to hire you a tutor. The Gophers really ought to hang their heads in shame over the way this season has gone, but it's become quite evident that Tim Brewster is shameless. Iowa could still get a nice bowl if they win, especially if they win impressively. Last time Iowa edged the Gophers 55-0. It will be a little closer this time. Iowa 24, Punky Brewster 7.

Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (-7) vs. Northwestern Wildcat Offense. Wisconsin is 8-2 and they have only lost to Iowa and Ohio State. The Cats did beat those Hawkeyes in Iowa City, but I think Bucky is too tough. Bucky Badger 60, Northwestern 10.

Uh, no. The Badgers are the better team and should win, but it won't be easy. The Wildcats have historically played the Badgers pretty tough in lovely Evanston, but I think this year they're balanced enough to wear the Wildcats down. Wisconsin 27, Northwestern 17.

The Ohio State University Buckeyes (-12) vs. Meeshegan Hail to the Vanquished. Since this is the only good national game, why not pick it? In Ann Arbor, there are probably some cries for Coach Rich Rodriguez's head. And I don't have much confidence in young quarterback Tate Forcier, who puts the the force in Forcier. But there is one way that Meeshegan could win; if Terrelle Pryor tries to win the game by himself. But Jim Tressel won't let that happen. Ohio State 49, Meeshegan 7.

Somewhere in the big press box in the sky, Bo Schembechler has to be shaking his head over what has happened to his beloved Wolverines. He's also shaking his head over your pick. The problem is, I suspect you're right and that the Go Bluers are just going to have to live with it. It won't be 49-7, but it could be ugly. How ugly? This ugly. Ohio State 31, Michigan 10.

Seattle Seabags (+10 1/2) vs. Minnesota Vikings. Matt Hasselbeck reminds me of a tragic hero. He has talent but he always seems to get hurt. Therefore Seattle has to start Seneca Wallace, who should still be a wide receiver. Minnesota should handle Seattle and the Seabags will be flies on the Vikings' flanks. Vikings 34, Seabags 13.

I don't think Seattle will win. I wonder if the Vikings will be complacent, though. They've had a lot of people telling them how good they are lately and if they are going to stumble down the stretch, this is the sort of game where it could happen. The guess here is that they won't, though. Vikings 35, Seattle 21.

San Francisco Singletarys (+6 1/2) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. I have a message for those Aaron Rodgers haters. He doesn't suck. In fact, Green Bay's season looks a lot different than it did last week. The Niners will be a challenge but one that Green Bay can handle. Packers 24, San Fran 17.

You may be on to something, young fella. I think defense will carry the day here. The 49ers are offensively challenged and the Packer defense played beautifully last week against a very good Dallas team. I suspect that the Packers will do enough to win, but it could be a bit unsightly. Packers 27, 49ers 14.

Philadelphia Iggles (-3) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. The NFC North is ruled by the Vikings and the Packers and Bears are the middle class. Detroit is serf-like. Unfortunately, football has nothing to do with feudalism. Chicago might go down the pecking order when faced with a good team like the Eagles. It's difficult to stop Donovan McNabb because of his running ability and he also has good receivers like DeSean Jackson and Brett Celek. Iggles 59, da Bearz 3.

Good thing Gino is off hunting right now, otherwise he'd be getting after you, Lollipop Guild Graduate. What is it with Chicago quarterbacks? Jay Cutler used to look like a real quarterback. Now he looks lost. I suspect the Bears will play better this week. I also suspect it won't be enough. Eagles 27, Bears 16.

Well, Decrepit, I have nothing to do with the Lollipop Guild! And since I'm going to be 14 tomorrow, that means you're going to have to start wearing that Senior Discount baseball cap that you sell.

Okay, young fella. Just be sure to remind your readers that it makes a lovely holiday gift.

Sounds good, Decrepit. Buy the cap, you refugees from the 70s! Ben out!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Guilty Pleasures Part Fifty-Eight -- Radio Free Fearless Maria

Hello. This is Fearless Maria. It's almost time for the holidays, but the dumb artists don't seem to have made a lot of music about Thanksgiving.

There are a lot of turkeys in the music business, Maria.

I thought there were turkeys in bowling!

We're almost being overrun by turkeys, it would appear. Kinda like these guys.

Dad, I thought we did music on Guilty Pleasures, not weird quotes from old t.v. shows!

Good point, Maria. So what should we do tonight?

Well, I was thinking we could do something like a combination between Guilty Pleasures and that dumb Radio Free Dilettante thing that you post for no reason at all.

Oh, I have my reasons, Maria.

Well, one thing I know -- you have a lot of music, Dad!

True -- probably about 8000 songs, last time I checked.

Well, can you spare five of them for a Radio Free Fearless Maria (RFFM)?

Sure. Do you want to hit the shuffle button?

No, I don't want to hit the shuffle button. I'd rather listen to Hannah Montana than some of the weird old stuff you have, or can I just reject the bad stuff?

You're driving this thing, Maria. You do what you want.

Okay. Oopsie! I just broke the mouse! Just kidding. So what comes up first on this thing? Let's see.... Okay, I'll let this one go. It's the Beatles!

Dad, is this one of those couple hundred Beatles songs that has to do with love?

That topic did seem to interest them, Maria.

Okay. Well at least the Beatles tend to be more respectable looking than some of those other weird guys you've shown me, like Al Green in the disco lifeguard suit. So the Beatles are okay with me!

Glad you approve. Let's hit the shuffle and see what comes up next.

Okay. Rejected. Rejected. Rejected. Definitely rejected. Dad, you've really got to get rid of that "Have a Nice Decade" thing. Okay, let's try this one:

So who is this John Fogerty guy, Dad? Is he even important enough to have a Wikipedia page?

Yes, he is, Maria. He ran a really good band called Creedence Clearwater Revival back in the late 1960s and the song you picked came out around 1985.

He's that old? So he's an old Fogerty, then! The song is okay. But does he really need 300 other guitar players on the stage with him? He must really need a big extension cord to plug in all those amps!

I don't think he's too worried about electricity costs, Maria.

Well, let's see what comes up next, Dad. Okay, this one's okay. It's Chuck Berry!

Dad, there is a problem here. All his other guys in the band look okay, but Chuck must have gone to the city dump to get that shirt! I think it looks like that shirt got thrown away a few times before Chuck found it!

I think the orange pants are a nice touch, too.

Dad, I think it looks his pants are made of wrapping paper! At least Mr. Berry was recycling!

Yes, I think he was. Shall we move on?

Sure. Rejected. Rejected. Hmm, reasonable. Let's try this one:

Dad, why does it look like they're singing on a gigantic beach towel? Or did they borrow some wrapping paper from Chuck Berry to use as wallpaper?

Not sure. That song was on an album called Parallel Lines and I guess the black and white stripes were supposed to be parallel lines.

Either that or they want to be NFL referees? Do you think that Blondie could do that? I kinda doubt it, Dad!

Not sure. I guess it could be an illegal procedure.

So was that joke, Dad. Now, let me see what else you've got. Okay, this next one will work. It's the Extremes, I mean the Supremes!

I don't know where their love went for sure, but it probably got lost in their hair! What's up with the B-52 hairdos, Dad? Those things were huge!

That was the style, believe it or not.

So that was in the 60s, right Dad?


So shouldn't those have been called B-62s or something?

Well, I think they were also called beehive hairdos, too.

Well, then in their song they should have mentioned honey, not baby! Or are they also called crib hairdos?

Not that I know, Maria.

Well, you know what I know? It's time to vote, people! Pick your favorite in the comments section. And I promise I won't reject your vote. If I do, don't feel offended, though. I'm sure that I like you better than I like the guy who sang "Chevy Van."

I think we can all agree on that, Maria.

Palin Comes Alive

You have to say this much about Sarah Palin -- she might be more of a stimulus package for the economy than anything Obama and his minions have done this year. She's already sold tons of books, given Oprah Winfrey the best rating she's had for a show in years and caused the Associated Press to assign an 11-person task force to debunk her book.

It's also amazing that she inspires such a reaction from both left and right. There are a lot of people on the left who just HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE her, yet on the right I see plenty of this. She's human litmus paper, I tell ya.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Afternoon Delight

Some of the things you can learn over your lunch hour:

• Andy McCarthy, who prosecuted the Blind Sheik in the original WTC bombing case back in the 1990s, points out that the President has already given Khalid Sheik Mohammed grounds for a mistrial:

In a meeting with the press in China, President Obama said that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would be "convicted" and had "the death penalty applied to him" . . . and then said he wasn't "pre-judging" the case. He made the second statement after it was pointed out to him — by NBC's Chuck Todd — that the first statement would be taken as the president's interfering in the trial process.
Of course, we've been assured here recently that the President is a graduate of nation's most prestigious law school, where he ran the law review, by the way.

• Remember those cool statistics from website that detailed all the activity going on places like Minnesota's 57th congressional district? Well, it turns out that the guy who is in charge of the data can't vouch for it.

Earl Devaney, the chairman of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, responded to questions posed by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., late yesterday to say the board can’t vouch for the numbers submitted by recipients of stimulus funding.

“Your letter specifically asks if I am able to certify that the number of jobs reported as created/saved on is accurate and auditable. No, I am not able to make this certification,” Devaney wrote, in a letter provided to ABC News.
I am certain that this administration will do a much better job of administering the health care system, though.

• Al Gore has been telling us for some time now about how important it is to follow the scientific method when it comes to Global Warming Climate Change. He's also pretty fond of geothermal energy, although he seems a little confused about the basic science when he was chatting up Conan O'Brien the other night:

Conan: Now, what about ... you talk in the book about geothermal energy ...

Al: Yeah, yeah.

Conan: and that is, as I understand it, using the heat that's generated from the core of the earth ...

Al: Yeah.

Conan: ... to create energy, and it sounds to me like an evil plan by Lex Luthor to defeat Superman. Can you, can you tell me, is this a viable solution, geothermal energy?

Al: It definitely is, and it's a relatively new one. People think about geothermal energy -- when they think about it at all -- in terms of the hot water bubbling up in some places, but two kilometers or so down in most places there are these incredibly hot rocks, 'cause the interior of the earth is extremely hot, several million degrees, and the crust of the earth is hot ...

As it turns out, that's not quite right. There's some dispute on the actual answer, but it's in the thousands of degrees. So, Al is off by about 10,000%. Ordinarily, we expect our science to be a smidge more precise than that, but we're really talking about scientism here and the Rev. Al Gore is a pretty smart preacher.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Radio Free Dilettante - 111709

Last Five:

Osage Stomp, Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys
Don't Stand So Close to Me, The Police
Brass in Pocket, the Pretenders
You Got Me Walking, Jackie Wilson
Like a Hurricane, Neil Young

Next Five:
Gee, Officer Krupke!, Russ Tamblyn/West Side Story Soundtrack
Whole Lotta Rosie, AC/DC
Here Comes the Sun, The Beatles
Going to See My Baby, The Fatback Band
These Boots Are Made for Walking, Nancy Sinatra

Monday, November 16, 2009

Good News from Your Government

You know, we've been too hard on the president and his team. Really, they're doing a hell of a job.

I'm being totally serious. And I can prove it. They've been kind enough to provide hard data on the effectiveness of the stimulus package that we can all look at ourselves. It's all right there on the federal government's website. And there it is -- incontrovertible proof that real people are gaining tangible benefits from the stimulus. Consider the lucky souls in Minnesota's 57th Congressional District. It's right there on the website: the government has created or saved 35 jobs in the 57th, and it took only $606,956 dollars to do it. A very impressive performance.

At first I was having a little trouble finding the Fighting 57th on the map, since most maps of Minnesota that show congressional boundaries indicate that the state has only 8 congressional districts. But if you're willing to dig deeper, you can get the answer. I believe the congressional office is located here. In addition, with just a few minutes of internet searching I was able to locate this promotional film from their Chamber of Commerce. It appears to that much of the grant money went to the performing arts. That's a good thing.

After receiving this reassuring news, I may have to rethink my position about the government's bid to increase its role in health care.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

No Kidding

My good friend Brad Carlson notes the Associated Press has gone to great lengths to fact-check Sarah Palin's new book. Glad they care so much. Meanwhile, Brad asks a really pertinent question:

Say, now that you're done with that all-important, vital piece of "fact-checking", I suggest taking on a much more daunting (if not infinitely more relevant) task: How about reading the entire 1,900+ page health care bill which recently passed in the U.S. House?

Somebody ought to read it -- it's pretty clear that no one in Washington is. Oh, and be sure to read Brad's post in its entirety. He has a few more questions that someone really ought to answer.

Update: Mark Steyn notices that it took 11 AP writers to contribute to the Palin fact-checking article and Steyn provides suitable mockery of their efforts. Word on the street is that AP writer Rita Beamish did an especially kick-ass job on this assignment, but that Garance Burke pretty much sucked. We are still attempting to determine the precise role that H. Josef Hebert played, although it's reasonable to surmise that he sneered mightily as he read his portion of the advance copy.

New York Minute

The Obama administration's decision to try Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and some (but not all) of his terrorist pals in a federal court in Manhattan certainly has New Yorkers talking. The New York Times, ever concerned with process and procedure, tries to put a positive spin on the idea:

The Obama administration said Friday that it would prosecute Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, in a Manhattan federal courtroom, a decision that ignited a sharp political debate but took a step toward resolving one of the most pressing terrorism detention issues.

We are ever mindful of "terrorist detention issues," of course. If you want to know what the average New Yorker thinks of the decision, you need to look at a different newspaper, though:

Outraged New Yorkers said yesterday that admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other terrorists deserve to be put to death -- and some even volunteered for the job.

"Kill them without a trial. Just a bullet in the head and say goodbye. Why waste taxpayer money?" said Thomas Pland, 70, a truck driver from Astoria, Queens.

"If they want me to do it," he added, "I will."

Mike Keane, owner of O'Hara's Restaurant & Pub a block from Ground Zero, said: "They should have taken care of them in Guantanamo Bay. Hang them there. It would have been quicker and easier."

But first, he added, "we should waterboard them a little more."

Isolated thoughts? No, there's more:

"I'm a hundred thousand percent against this move. They're war criminals!" said retired firefighter Joe Holland, whose son, Joseph III, a commodities trader, died in the World Trade Center's north tower.

"This is crazy. This is insane. They're going to make a mockery of the whole court system 10 blocks away from the World Trade Center. They're going to scream for holy war in America."

Peter Gadiel, head of 9/11 Families for a Secure America, fumed, "I never thought we could have gotten a worse president than George Bush. But we got one.

"The president wants a circus? He should hold the trial in Lafayette Park at the White House. That makes as much sense," added Gadiel, whose son, James, a Cantor Fitzgerald employee, died on 9/11.

A president worse than George Bush? I am aghast.

To be fair, at least one person is willing to give the President and his men the benefit of the doubt:

But retired firefighter James Riches, whose firefighter son, Jimmy, died on 9/11, said he would give President Obama the benefit of the doubt -- for now.

"Hopefully, we're doing the right thing. But if this all goes awry, I'm going to hold Obama and his Justice Department responsible," Riches said.

As will we all, Mr. Riches.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Week 10 Regularly Scheduled Broadcast

We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming. And that means it's time to make fun of Decrepit! Yeah, baybee!

Whuh? Huh? Sorry, I must have dozed off. Oh, you're making fun of your old man again, huh?

Yes, Decrepit. It's who I am. It's what I do. Ahem. So, as you might know, we have already picked the Bear Down Chicago da Bearz game, succesfully I might add, and we made fun of the Super Bowl Shuffle, the most hideous dance moves since Decrepit tried his hand at Dancing with the Stars.

I won't dance. Don't ask me.

Enough of that. Down to bidness!

South Dakota State Jackrabbits (NL) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers. I had to look up where South Dakota State is. It turns out that it is in Brookings, SD, wherever the heck that is. I don't know if it's close to the Mitchell Corn Palace, but it reminds me of when the Badgers played Wofford. By the way, I must say that the Corn Palace looks pretty creepy. Anyway, back to the game. The Brew Crew needs a win to become bowl eligible, but I'm worried that it could turn out like the NDSU game a couple of years ago, when the Gophers actually lost to the mighty Bison. Minnesota should win, but it won't be easy. Gophers 20, Jackrabbits 14.

So let's analyze what's at stake here. The Gophers are hoping to win in order to become bowl eligible. Chances are pretty good that if they win this game, they will then lose to Iowa next week and earn a berth in the fabled Little Caesar's Bowl game in lovely Detroit. Does that sound like incentive to you? I suspect the Gophers will win, but they'll probably not enjoy their ultimate destination much. Minnesota 31, SDSU 20.

Meeshegan Hail to the Vanquished (+8 1/2) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. Well, this game is between two pretty evenly matched teams. I think Badger QB Scott Tolzien is better than Meeshegan's Tate Forcier, who tends to forcier too many passes downfield. But the difference is going to be John Clay. And I believe that the Badgers will be going to a New Year's Day bowl. Bucky Badger 40, Hail to the Vanquished 3.

This is pretty unusual. Historically, the Wolverines have pretty much beaten the Badgers like a redheaded stepchild. Michigan is down now, but they'll be back. You have to make the most of your opportunities to take out all the years of frustration when you can. The Badgers will do that tomorrow. This could get ugly, but not as ugly as Seabiscuit thinks. Badgers 31, Michigan 17.

Herky the Hawkeye (+17) vs. Brutus the Buckeye. RIP to Iowa's perfect record after the dreaded Northwestern Wildcats came into Iowa City and won last week. Now the Hawkeyes face their toughest test of the season without Ricky Stanzi, who I still say is not as good as you might think. It is going to be tough. Even if the game was in Iowa City it would be tough, but this game is in Columbus and the winner will go to Pasadena. Buckeye fans, get your plane tickets west. Ohio State 50, Iowa 2.

No, grasshopper. Not even close. Here's the thing -- Ohio State has trouble scoring, so even though Iowa lost their quarterback, there was no way that the Buckeyes should be a 17 point favorite. They may not score 17 points against the tough Iowa defense. Ricky Stanzi doesn't play defense. In fact, the Buckeyes won't score 17 points. I'm calling the upset. Iowa 17, Ohio State 13.

Motor City Kitties (+17) vs. Minnesota Vikings. Detroit is even worse than a bad Mexican dinner. Matthew Stafford tries, but Rome wasn't built in a day. Minnesota is going to beat the Lions up like what the Romans did to the Christians. Minnesota Vikings 70, Detroit Lions 0.

The Lions still are in the league, Ben. It will be ugly, but not that ugly. I suspect the Vikings will play pretty well, though. And I have a feeling about this game that something bad is going to happen to the Vikings. Call it a hunch. But they'll still win. Vikings 31, Lions 14.

Dallas How 'Bout Them Cowboahs (-3) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. I'm having a dilemma with this game. History is saying that Green Bay will win, while this season is saying that the Cowboys will win. Both teams are streaky, but Rodgers is a safer bet than Romo. Romo is kind of like the pro version of Ricky Stanzi. And for all those regulars out there, you know what I think about Ricky Stanzi. Green Bay is gonna win. Packers 10, Cowboahs 7.

Huh. I don't see it that way at all. I see points being scored. Potentially lots of points. The Packers are up against it. I suspect that Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy may have their jobs on the line at this point, especially following the highly embarrassing loss to the Creamsicles last week. The Packers will be desperate to win. And generally I like home underdogs who are desperate. But I also see DeMarcus Ware taking up permanent residence in Aaron Rodgers's grill. And I can't get that out of my mind. Maybe Jon Gruden will be coming back to Green Bay next year. I hate doing this, but.... Cowboys 31, Packers 23.

I wonder if Tradedown Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy get fired, they might be searching for jobs along with the NWA pilots who overshot the airport because they were too busy dinking around on their laptops.

That's not a good visual, youngblood. But it's possible. Guess we'll find out.

The Post Grabs a Steno Pad

Our friend Mitch Berg devotes considerable space taking down the phone-it-in column that Dan Balz of the Washington Post wrote about Tim Pawlenty. As always, what Mitch writes is well worth your time.

Here's what's interesting. Mitch surmises that the early column trashing Pawlenty is a sign that the Democrats are worried about Pawlenty as a potential rival in 2012. So when a commenter on Hot Air noticed this piece from the Post's sister publication, Newsweek, we get a good look at how a lot of journalism gets done these days:

If you want to figure out which of Obama's potential 2012 challengers the Democratic Party is most afraid of, it definitely helps to be political reporter. That's because the DNC is constantly bombarding hacks like me with stories, quips, fact sheets and comebacks designed to influence our coverage of a select group of prominent Republicans─namely, the ones they suspect of harboring 2012 aspirations, like Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee. Determine which Republican is inspiring the most hate mail and you probably have a pretty good idea which one the DNC sees as the biggest threat.

The answer─surprise, surprise─is Pawlenty. The least-well-known of the 2012 crop, the Minnesota governor has, according to the Gaggle's patented Gmail filtration method, provoked 28 direct-attack e-mails (i.e., attack e-mails with his name in the subject line) from the DNC since March; by contrast, Palin, by far the most famous Republican in the country, has racked up 27. The next highest finisher, Romney, trails with nine, with Jindal (four), Gingrich (two) and Huckabee (one) bringing up the rear. All told, the DNC has mentioned Pawlenty in 48 e-mails over the past two months, versus 37 for Palin, 16 for Gingrich, 12 for Romney, 11 for Jindal and four for Huckabee. All of this despite the fact that a new national survey by Rasmussen Reports shows Huckabee as the top 2012 choice of 29 percent of Republican voters, with Romney a close second at 24 percent and Palin (18 percent) and Gingrich (14 percent) hovering in the double-digits─while only 4 percent of respondents picked Pawlenty.
No one complains that the DNC is doing this. It's their job. What's interesting is that the Newsweek article pretty much shows that Balz's profile of Pawlenty is pretty much a rewrite of the DNC talking points:

But what's really interesting is the content of the DNC's attacks. Every move Pawlenty has made in recent weeks seems calibrated to shore up his right
flank and prove to potential 2012 primarygoers that he's as right wing as they are: intervening on Hoffman's behalf in New York, dissing Snowe, knocking Obama for delivering an innocuous speech to school children, flip-flopping on climate-change legislation, refusing to dismiss the inane chatter about "death panels." The problem is, this sort of hyperpartisan maneuvering counteracts Pawlenty's original appeal─a plot twist that the DNC has smartly latched onto and begun to promote as a part of a larger storyline. "It looks like Tim Pawlenty isn't even going to offer the pretense of being anything but an extreme right wing radical anymore," reads one DNC message. "If Tim Pawlenty is running for President, he's running for the George W. Bush presidency," reads another. The goal, simply put, is to define Pawlenty as an inauthentic Romneyesque cipher willing to say anything for a vote─and to do so early and often. For better or worse, the DNC's thinking goes, the public already knows Palin and Co. But Pawlenty is a still blank slate.

In some ways, the Minnesotan is lucky. The 2012 election is so far off that no sane, rational person is paying enough attention to the early jockeying to be particularly swayed by the DNC's near-constant swipes. But the people who shape public opinion most definitely are. This morning, Dan Balz, the Washington Post's campaign correspondent emeritus, wrote that Pawlenty "has said and done things that have other Republicans wondering about his instincts and his sure-footedness as a prospective 2012 presidential candidate." Balz even─gasp!─compared Pawlenty to Romney. "The real risk for Pawlenty, as Romney learned in his unsuccessful 2008
campaign, is losing his true voice and his authenticity," he explained. "Romney spent so much time trying to reposition himself and picking narrow tactical fights with his rivals that the qualities that might have made him a more attractive candidate were lost in the smoke."

Emphasis mine. It would probably be better if Balz spent a little less time just channeling the DNC smoke and doing some original reporting, no?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Week 10 Early Bird Emergency Pick

So we were going to pick the games tomorrow, but Decrepit reminded me that there was a game scheduled for tonight, involving da Bearz. This is not a drill. This is real. Really real.

Bear Down Chicago da Bearz (+3) vs. San Francisco Singletarys. Well, this should be kinda interesting. I think Mike Singletary should quit the 49ers, sign up with da Bearz and suit up at middle linebacker. And da Bearz should hire Mike Ditka and Buddy Ryan back so they won't be as dull as they are right now. Back then, they were really good and even made music videos. Bad music videos, but music videos nonetheless. These Thursday games are just a way for the NFL to make more money, with the exception of the Thanksgiving games. As if the NFL doesn't have enough money already. Niners 40, da Bearz 17.

Whoo boy, Gino's not going to like that pick, Seabiscuit! But it may not be wrong. Da Bearz aren't necessarily as dysfunctional as some other teams in the division, but they are pretty dysfunctional. I'm not sure what's worse -- getting beat by the Tampa Bay Creamsicles or getting your butt handed to you on your home field by the Cardinals. Either way, not good. The 49ers are not a great team, either, but they'll be better tonight. San Francisco 27, da Bearz 20.

We'll be back tomorrow with more normal games than this one, which is not exactly a good time slot if you ask me!

Presidentin' Is Hard


President Barack Obama won't accept any of the Afghanistan war options before him without changes, a senior administration official said, as concerns soar over the ability of the Afghan government to secure its own country one day.

Uh, Mr. President? It has occurred to you that dithering on this decision also makes it harder for the Afghan government to secure its own country, right?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lightning Round 111109

Very quickly:

I don't think the notion that Maj. Hasan was a lone nut is going to hold up to scrutiny. And while it's too late in many respects, a little scrutiny is in order.

Then again, maybe we don't need to scrutinize Maj. Hasan that much. The redoubtable Richard M. Daley, Mayor of Chicago, has figured out the real villain in this event.

Do you remember the case of Gerald Walpin, the inspector general who was investigating an Obama friend and was fired based on trumped up charges? Well, the truth is out. And now Walpin wants his job back. We'll find out a lot about the Obama administration by watching how this matter unfolds.

Speaking of inspectors general, it's sure nice to see that Fan and Fred have figured out a way to rid themselves of their meddlesome priest. And hats off to HuffPo for covering this story.

And speaking of meddlesome priests....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Obama at Fort Hood

We do a lot of Obama bashing around here, but if we're going to be fair, we need to give the man credit where it is due. And today, the President gave an excellent speech honoring the 13 people who were killed at Fort Hood last week. The transcript of the speech is at the link and you can watch it here if you are so inclined.

The president did two important things today: he took the time to speak about each victim by name, and he said the following:

For history is filled with heroes. You may remember the stories of a grandfather who marched across Europe; an uncle who fought in Vietnam; a sister who served in the Gulf. But as we honor the many generations who have served, I think all of us — every single American — must acknowledge that this generation has more than proved itself the equal of those who have come before.

We need not look to the past for greatness, because it is before our very eyes.

This generation of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen have volunteered in a time of certain danger. They are part of the finest fighting force that the world has ever known. They have served tour after tour of duty in distant, different and difficult places. They have stood watch in blinding deserts and on snowy mountains. They have extended the opportunity of self-government to peoples that have suffered tyranny and war. They are man and woman; white, black, and brown; of all faiths and stations — all Americans, serving together to protect our people, while giving others half a world away the chance to lead a better life.
The president is correct about all of this. We have an extraordinary military and the men and women who serve have done extraordinary things. It's easy to take their efforts for granted as we live and work and play. Even in a time of great challenges and great disagreements about many issues, we are incredibly fortunate to be Americans. And the President said exactly the right things today in describing those who work so hard to ensure our good fortune.

Home Truth

David Warren, writing at Real Clear Politics:

Falsehood has more consequences than the revelation of personal insincerity. What happened at Fort Hood was no kind of "tragedy." It was a criminal act, of the terrorist sort, performed by a man acting upon known Islamist motives. To present the perpetrator himself as a kind of "victim" -- a man emotionally distressed by his impending assignment to Afghanistan or Iraq -- is to misrepresent the reality.

This man was a professional psychiatrist, assigned to help soldiers cope with traumas. Is this the profile of a man with no control over his own emotions? It appears he had hired a lawyer to get him out of the military before his deployment overseas. Is this consistent with spontaneity?

He reportedly shouted "Allahu Akbar!" before opening fire on American soldiers. Would that perhaps offer a little hint of the actual motive? He shot about 40 people, over 10 minutes, with two pistols, neither of them military issue. Might that perhaps suggest premeditation?

There's more. Read the whole thing.

Monday, November 09, 2009

I'm not in favor of. . .

firing Mike McCarthy and/or Ted Thompson. Yet. But a few more games like this last one and I might be persuaded.

New London to New Brighton

Every year as part of the Stockyard Days celebration, the City of New Brighton has an antique car run between the town of New London, MN and New Brighton.

There's another New London that has a direct connection to New Brighton -- New London, Connecticut. That New London is the city that used eminent domain to force out homeowners to provide land for a new facility for local pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. The subsequent litigation went all the way to the Supreme Court and formed the basis for perhaps the worst decision of the Court of the decade -- Kelo vs. City of New London.

The decision of the Court essentially eviscerated the the "takings clause" of the 5th Amendment and cleared the way for governmental entities to take land through eminent domain for whatever reason they deem necessary. As it happens, our outgoing leadership in New Brighton greatly admired the Kelo decision and used it as a rationale for stepping up its efforts to take the land of various businesses for the Northwest Quadrant development. Once David Souter and his pals gave the green light, Mayor Larson and Co. went into action.

As has been well documented, the Northwest Quadrant development has been a disaster and the resulting uproar was a primary reason that Mayor Steve Larson was unseated last week. Now comes word that the Kelo site has gone belly up, too:

The private homes that New London, Conn., took away from Suzette Kelo and her neighbors have been torn down. Their former site is a wasteland of fields of weeds, a monument to the power of eminent domain.

But now Pfizer, the drug company whose neighboring research facility had been the original cause of the homes' seizure, has just announced that it is closing up shop in New London.

To lure those jobs to New London a decade ago, the local government promised to demolish the older residential neighborhood adjacent to the land Pfizer was buying for next-to-nothing. Suzette Kelo fought the taking to the Supreme Court, and lost. Five justices found this redevelopment met the constitutional hurdle of "public use."
A "wasteland of fields of weeds," huh? That seems oddly familiar. And the intended beneficiary of the taking walking away from the land? That seems oddly familiar, too.

There's a lesson here and we'll trust our readers to draw the proper conclusions. Maybe someday our leaders will draw the proper conclusions, too.

(H/T: Captain Ed)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Lots of Bad Things Happen on Saturday Night

So Nancy Pelosi fought off the gag reflex of her chamber just enough to get the health care bill passed late last night, by a final vote of 220-215. The vote results are here.

Here's how I see the battle shaping up:

  • The bill now goes to the Senate. Harry Reid now has a choice: take this crap sandwich as it is, or insist that the Senate bill go forward. Reid knows that if he tries to get the House bill voted on as is in the Senate, he's in for trouble. Tom Coburn, the physician who represents Oklahoma in Senate, has already pledged to have the entire bill read aloud on the floor of the Senate. That would be a problem for two reasons: one, it's highly dilatory and will slow the Senate to a crawl, essentially forcing any vote well into 2010. More importantly, if people really understand the entirety of what's in this bill, public opinion will swing even harder against it. Reid knows this and doesn't want to chance it. Meanwhile, Joe Lieberman has already promised that he will filibuster any bill with a public option. The House bill has one.
  • So what does Reid do? Most likely, it means that Reid will have to put the Senate version of the Obama Care crap sandwich in play. That means there will be a conference committee and that the final bill that comes out of that process will have to be voted up or down by both chambers. They won't be able to get that done this year, no matter what Obama says, but it's probably the only way Reid will have a chance to hold up his end of the deal.
  • Despite yesterday's vote, time remains on the side of the opposition. The more people learn about the monstrosities contained in this bill, the more it will become clear to people that this reform will actually make things worse. That was the reason why the Democrats wanted to do this cram-down style. Their gamble is that if the law was passed early enough, and the implications of it were pushed out far enough into the future (many of the provisions wouldn't take effect until 2013 or later), people might forget about the bill in the two election cycles. That's unlikely now.
  • Meanwhile, the vote was very close. Even so, there were a few potentially vulnerable Democrats who voted for the bill this time. All it would take is to flip 3 of them and the thing would go down in flames when it matters. Looking at the votes, I can think of 3 people in the region who would have reason to flip their votes: closest to home, consider Tim Walz, who represents the 1st. His district has long been a swing district and when the DFL has controlled it, it has usually required someone like Tim Penny to hold the district. Walz is considerably to the left of Penny, who ultimately left the DFL. Walz can expect to get some heat for this vote. Next, I'd suggest another vulnerable vote would be Steve Kagen, the irascible dermatologist who represents my hometown district, WI-8. The 8th is generally quite conservative; over the past 50 years, the Democrats have held the seat only about 10 of those years. Kagen, who won an open seat in the bad Republican year of 2006, is in his second term and would be vulnerable in any event but this vote is going to hurt him. As for the 3rd potential vote, I'd suggest that Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota had better watch his back. And I'm sure there are others.

Bottom line: this isn't over. Not by a long shot.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Week 9

Well, we're back. And we're going doing the things we do.

And what are those things?

Picking some football games and adding a little outrageousness, all at no extra charge. You should know that by now, Decrepit! Unless you've been living under a rock.

Well, I think you know where I live, Seabiscuit.

Well, last week you were living in my wake, because I kicked your behind! And yet you come back for more. When it comes to abuse, I'm open 24/7/365!

So I've noticed. Let's pick some games, grasshopper.

Illinois Fighting Zooks (+7) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers. Juice Williams is back from the dead! After a confidence-boosting win against "Hail to the Victors" (who aren't, by the way), they come up to the Twin Cities, but Adam Weber has found some weapons in the absence of Eric Decker and I am expecting to see some Marqueis Gray out of the Wildcat, too. Minnesota 31, Illinois 20.

That's a surprisingly sensible pick from you, youngblood. That's about the way I see it, too. The Illini are a major disappointment and Gophers have a chance to get into some bowl in Detroit or something. So I'll assume they can get this job done before hated South Dakota State comes calling. Gophers 27, Illini 20.

Beloved Wisconsin Badgers (-10 1/2) vs. Indiana Wants Me, Lord I Can't Go Back There. Not surprisingly, you can blame Decrepit for that evil hyperlink. R. Dean Taylor, Dad? Really? What is wrong with you? Let's get back to the game. After Indiana's nightmare in Iowa City, hardcore Hoosier fans will forever call the Iowa quarterback Ricky Freaking Stanzi. Or maybe Ricky Bleeping Stanzi. Foul language is a given. Anyway, you'd think the Hoosiers would get some salve from the schedule. Yeah, right. They have to play a very good Badger team, which trounced Purdon't last week. Wisconsin 49, Indiana 2.

Well. I'm not sure it will be that bad. Indiana isn't helpless and the game is at home. But it's a winnable game for the Badgers, who smell a good New Year's Day game in their future and won't let the Hoosiers get in their way. Badgers 31, Indiana 17.

The Ohio State University Buckeyes (+3 1/2) vs. Penn State Paternos. A very good Big 10 game will be going down in Happy Valley. Penn State -- I've said it before -- is the best team in the Big 10. In fact, I'm even going to say that Darryl Clark is better than Ricky Stanzi. Penn State gets the win and stays on track for a big bowl game. Penn State 29, Ohio State 24.

I tend to agree that Penn State is the better team. However, it's close. And Ohio State really needs this win to salvage their season. With Iowa on the horizon, if the Buckeyes stumble here they could be off the New Year's Day schedule. And they wouldn't like that. Ohio State 21, Penn State 17.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (-9 1/2) vs. Tampa Bay Agent Orange. The Bucs are wearing their awful orange throwback uniforms this week, which won't win on Project Runway. Also, they gave up a home game to play in Wembley Stadium and I'm surprised the Customs officials let them back in the country. Unline Indiana, Green Bay will get some salve this week. Packer Backers 50, Agent Orange 0.

So that's a silly pick, too, but I understand the impulse, young fella. The Packers used to kick Tampa's butts back in the day, especially when Tampa wore those awful orange uniforms. This will be nostalgic. Packers 34, Bucs 13.

Arizona Cardinals (+3 1/2) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. Arizona is a Jekyll-Hyde team. Last year they almost won the Super Bowl and now they're unmasked. It doesn't help that they're in the Central time zone this week, which might cause some fatigue. Da Bearz will win. Chicago 37, Cards 27.

You are way too young to remember this -- heck, I'm too young, too -- but the Cardinals used to play in Chicago until about 1960. They never won much in Chicago when they played there then, either. Some old South Siders might still love the Cards after all these years. But the Bears won't care. Bears 27, Cardinals 24.

Motor City Kitties (+10) vs. Seattle Seabags. Well, everybody, the Walrus has left Seattle for Antarctica, where he's currently on an ice drift somewhere. Instead, Jim Mora Jr. is the coach in Seattle and he should win, because the Lions really bring the stink. Watch Seattle win in a driving rainstorm, because it's Seattle. But Jim Mora's dad was a lot funnier. Seabags 40, Lions 10.

I don't know how to pick this game. Both of these teams are terrible. Seattle's at home, so I guess they should be favored, but I'm not convinced that the point spread makes much sense. Look for a really ugly game and I'm hoping that Benster is right and they play in the rain, because NFL Films needs some more new blooper footage and these two squads are fully capable of producing some bloopers. Seattle 17, Lions 12.

Hey, do you know what I'd like to see? The 0-14 Bucs against the 0-16 Lions. It would be a throwback game, a scoreless tie! NFL Films is coming to town!

Back in those old days, a reporter asked Tampa Bay coach John McKay what he thought of his team's execution. McKay replied, "I'm in favor of it." One of the funniest lines in sports history. Glad he had a sense of humor about it. Thanks, grasshopper. Any last words?

Playoffs? Playoffs? Playoffs? I'm outta here. Ben out! Get off my lawn!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Guilty Pleasures Part Fifty-Seven -- She's Not There, But We're Here With the End of the Alphabet!

Fearless Maria reminded me that it's been a long time since we've done a Guilty Pleasures, so she's joined me this evening to fix that problem.

And so now, please take your seats and make sure that your lap bar is pulled down, and do not stick any body parts out of the Guilty Pleasures Rock 'n Rollercoaster. Please enjoy your ride!

I think you still have amusement parks on the brain, Maria.


I'm not sure I found that response so amusing, Maria.

Just teasing, Dad! It's pretty easy to give you a little grief. So today I was thinking that we should do acts that have last six letters of the alphabet! So, Dad, can you think of anyone who starts with U, V, W, X, Y and Z?

Why yes, Maria. Yes I can.

Well, that's good. Hopefully these bands won't be your usual fashion victims and weird dudes!

Actually, now that you mention it, some of these folks are fairly well dressed.

Really? Prove it, Dad! Start with the U. Does the U stand for ugly?

Why don't you be the judge. Here's U2, from fairly recently, with a song that was a big hit in this decade, a rarity for this feature:

So Dad, why did the guy count uno, dos, tres, catorce? That means 1, 2, 3, 14? I think he needs to get into Spanish class with Miss Peterman! She's teaching me Spanish and I know that much! And Dad, didn't you used to work for Target?

Yes, for almost 10 years.

So did U2 work for Target, too? They seem to be playing their song on the Target bullseye!

I noticed that, too. Wonder if the Target execs set that one up.

It was an okay song, Dad. But can you do better? How about a good V!

There are lots of V acts in rock, Maria. I could do this guy. Or I could do these guys. Or even these guys.

Why don't you just pick one, Dad? That first guy is Luther Vandross, right? Mom likes him!

That's true, Maria. But Mom also likes this guy. And so do I. It's Stevie Ray Vaughan:

Dad, you said you were going to pick guys who dress better this time. Stevie didn't seem to understand that! He has a giant owl feather or something hanging off the back of his cowboy hat! And what's up with the yellow shirt? It looks like he stole the raincoat from the Morton Salt girl! And he's got about a half dozen bandanas hanging off his neck! I think he got the wool sweater thing from the Indian Reservation guys from the last time! Dad, I'm beginning to wonder about YOUR fashion sense a little!

Who could blame you, Maria? Anyway, let's see if our next guy can turn it around. So did you like Stevie Ray Vaughan's song, Maria?

Sure, I guess, but I can think of a guy named Stevie with a W that I like better!

You mean this guy?

Well, Stevie Wonder is amazing! He can do all that music and he can't even see! And the fashion was a bit better, too! At least I like this blue and silver outfit better than Stevie Ray the Morton Salt Girl! But can you find a band that knows how to dress properly?

How about a band that starts with X that wears tuxedos?

Tuxedos, Dad? Show it to me!

Here you go, Maria. It's XTC, with:

Those aren't tuxedos, Dad! Those are waiter uniforms! But they do look respectable, except there's one thing I don't get -- by being in that Moonwalk jumpy thing they seem like well-dressed kindergarteners, but they're singing about Generals and Majors. I don't think any schools would except Generals and Majors for kindergarteners, and they sure don't serve gun salads in the cafeteria at my school! The cooks would have to drop and give 100!

I have no idea what that was about, Maria, although I was pretty sure I saw Colonel Mustard in there somewhere. Anyway, should we move on to Y?


Yes, Y. Why?

Y not! Why are you holding out on Y?

I'd better pick something before this turns into an Abbott and Costello bit. How about the Yardbirds:

Dad, I felt over under sideways down trying to watch that Abbott and Costello bit! But that sounds like a good dance, too! Maybe a limbo thing, too! Over the stick, under the stick, sideways near the stick and pull the stick down! That would be fun! Might have to try that for my birthday party in a few months!

You know, Maria, we're just about out of letters here.

Yeah, it's been so long that I feel like a Zombie!

So do these guys:

She may not be there, but there sure were a lot of other screaming girls there! But don't bother trying to find them, they're not there! They're in their 50s! And now they definitely have to color their hair!

You're probably right, Maria. So did you like any of these songs?

Well, sure. But what I want to know is what song everyone else likes! So isn't it time to vote? Let's get with it, people! Pick your favorite in the comments section!

Fearless Maria has spoken, y'all.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Election Day Elsewhere

I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the races on the Eastern seaboard. It looks like the Republicans won huge in Virginia, took out the odious John Corzine in New Jersey and that the strange special election in NY CD 23 will go to the Democrat.

Of these, my first take is that the most important result is in New Jersey. Chris Christie isn't necessarily the Republican from Central Casting, but he seems like a smart enough guy and he was certainly a better candidate than Corzine, the limousine liberal plutocrat who essentially bought this seat last time. Jersey is a tough place for Republicans to win and Christie won't necessarily have a lot of room to maneuver, but he'll have a chance to make some needed changes in the Garden State.

Were these results a referendum on Obama? I don't know about that. If Obama and his buds in Congress double down and try to ram the current version of Obama Care down the throats of the country, they'll meet significant opposition and 2010 could get very ugly for the Democrats. The people who are probably paying the most attention locally are Tim Walz and Collin Peterson. And they should be.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Local Scene -- Victory!

We have a new mayor in New Brighton. Dave Jacobsen defeated the longtime incumbent, Steve Larson, by a substantial 57-43% margin. Results are here.

In addition, council member Gina Bauman was re-elected and she will be joined by Char Samuelson, who had served previously on the council before leaving for the state legislature in 2002. Bauman and Samuelson bested five other contenders for the two available seats on the council. Results for that race are also at the link.

We'll talk more about what it all means in the coming days. Jacobsen, Bauman and Samuelson will join council incumbents Dave Phillips and Mary Burg on the council. This will be a very different city council than we have seen in the past and it means that some of the old ways of doing business are going to change. Mayor-elect Jacobsen and the new council members face some enormous challenges in the next few years and will have to move quickly. But for tonight, congratulations are in order.

Radio Free Dilettante – Election Day Edition

Sometimes I swear this thing reads my mind:

Last Five:
Let’s Face the Music and Dance, Frank Sinatra
Innuendo, Queen
Wake Me Up on Judgment Day, Steve Winwood
Tell Me Something Good, Rufus and Chaka Khan
Sin City, AC/DC

Next Five:
Shapes of Things, The Yardbirds
We’re Coming Out, The Replacements
Which Way to America, Living Colour
Lovesick Blues, Hank Williams
Refried Funky Chicken, The Dixie Dregs

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Local Scene -- The Empire Strikes Back

It would appear that Mayor Larson and his crew are getting a little nervous. Rather than campaign on the merits, they've chosen to take the low road, especially concerning City Council member Gina Bauman. Bauman has provided a long list of outrages at the Enlighten New Brighton blog, and I'd strongly recommend all interested New Brighton voters to click the link and read the piece in its entirety. I would like to highlight one item in particular, however:

Bauman writes as follows:

The next rumor I need to address made my jaw drop when I first heard it tonight (10/1). Did any of you know that I purportedly, single handedly mind you, drove out the hotel from wanting to build on the Quadrant with my stalling tactics? This is certainly news to me. I didn't realize I had such power.
Bauman has one out of five votes on the City Council. Unless she's capable of Jedi mind tricks, she would have no way to personally stop any negotiations. So why would anyone say that? What if the person spreading the rumor had a financial motive? Let Bauman explain:

This ridiculous and mean-spirited rumor is being spread by none other than Bob Benke, who in the worst way needs Mayor Larson re-elected to retain his membership in the the "good old boys" network behind the scenes. And where is Benke getting this so-called information from? He knows that I no longer want the city taxpayers to pay the $10,500 per year it takes for Mayor Larson to belong to the North Metro Mayors Association. This organization is nothing more than a lobbyist group that is very self-serving to its members. Although there is no real benefit for the city of New Brighton to belong, there is a definite benefit to Mr. Benke as he receives payment as a lobbyist for that association that depends on how many cities belong to it.
If you don't know who Bob Benke is, allow me to explain. Benke was mayor of New Brighton before Mayor Larson took over 10 years ago. A check of the records indicates that, yes indeed, Benke is a registered lobbyist for the North Metro Mayors Association. In fact, Benke is the designated lobbyist for the group at the Capitol. That means he has a financial interest in New Brighton remaining a member of the lobbying group, no matter the merits of the organization or the value it provides the city. I can understand Benke's motivation -- it's certainly helpful to Benke personally that his friend and protege (Larson) maintains membership in an organization that pays Benke. Does it smell a little funny? Well, yes.

When Gina Bauman and outgoing council member Sharon Doffing were elected to the City Council, they challenged the cozy relationships and status quo at City Hall. It's easy to see why Mayor Larson would like to rid himself of this meddlesome priest Bauman. It's much more difficult to see why the citizens of New Brighton should grant him his wish, to say nothing of another term in office. Gina Bauman has done an excellent job of challenging the status quo. If she and Larson's opponent Dave Jacobsen are elected, they will be able to change the status quo. And while that might make Bob Benke a little less financially secure, it will help New Brighton move forward.