Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Finally, the Liberals have a Voice!

No longer do weary liberals have to suffer through an endles sea of conservatively biased news and commentary. Freed from the chains of CBS, NPR, and the New York Times, liberals now have the option of listening to radio by liberals for liberals. At long last, liberals have a place to go where they can address serious issues, and carry on deep meaningful discussions of the events that are shaking the world.

Yes, Air America is on the air! WARNING! The link is a little dicey. Apparently Al Franken is still not quite ready for prime time.

Which brings me to my question. If this is supposed to be a liberal answer to conservative talk radio, why is it staffed by comedians? The two key shows are hosted by AL Franken and Janeane Garafolo. Are we supposed to take them seriously now that their comedy careers are history, or is it all another big snide joke? Considering that they've named their network after the famous CIA operation that used a supposedly commercial airline to carry out clandestine missions, I'm guessing it's the latter.

Let's see, who would I take more seriously on the economy, Walter Williams or Al Franken?

Tough choice there.

One has a PhD in economics, and the other wrote "Stuart Saves His Family"

Call me biased, but I'm going with the PhD on this one.

But best of luck to you crazy kids.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Back from the Races!

And what a trip it was! The long version will be here presently, but the short version is I had a blast and will be going back in August for the night race.

Before I get into the story itself, I'd like to point out a few numbers.
  • Number of fans at the Busch race: 120,000
  • Average ticket price: $50
  • Number of fans at the Cup race: 160,000
  • Average ticket price: $120
  • Total gate: $26.4 million, give or take.
  • Campsite rental: $130 average.
  • Number of campsites: 10,000 (SWAG)
  • Camping total: $1.3 million
  • Ave hotel cost for 3 nights: $250
  • Hotel rooms: 5,000
  • Hotel total: $1.25 million
  • Average spending on merchandise, scanners, souvenirs, etc per capita: $75
  • Total number of fans: 200,000 (SWAG)
  • Total merch spending: $1.5 million

That's $30 million dollars changing hands, and I haven't even begun to count things like food, alcohol, gasoline, camper rentals, and so on.

Don't these people know that we're in the middle of the worst economy in history? There are no jobs; we're all broke; we must be insane to go out and spend that kind of money when our country is in such pitiful shape.

What we need is a good Democrat to come out and help us realize how miserable we really are, how destitute we are, how we can't afford to go out and spend $400 dollars per head (my tally for the weekend) just to watch a bunch of rednecks drive in circles for 4 hours.

And that's exactly the message John Kerry is trying to sell.

Any takers?

Posted by Rich
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Friday, March 26, 2004

No posting over the weekend

I'm headed to Bristol for my first Cup race. We've got our tickets and we're camping out. I'm bringing my camera, so if I get any good pictures, I'll share them with you Monday.

Or maybe Tuesday; it's going to be a long weekend.

Posted by Rich
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Jeff Foxworthy Couldn’t Make this Kind of Stuff Up!

This is an absolutely 100% true story; you can look it up on any Knoxville News website.

Yesterday morning, the Kodak branch of Citizen's National Bank was robbed by a woman who had several pipe bombs in a briefcase.

Her getaway car was...

A stolen Krispy Kreme Doughnut truck.

It's for real folks.

Now, you'd think that with their natural affinity for fried dough products, the police would be able to catch a crook in a doughnut truck, right? I mean, it's the ultimate combination of vocation and avocation; eating doughnuts and catching crooks.

Nope. It was a clean getaway. The truck was recovered near a trailer park less than a mile away.

Why does that location not surprise me in the least?

No word on whether there were any doughnuts in the truck at the time it was found, but police promptly impounded it, which may give us a clue to it's contents.

Seriously, can you imagine being a cop, sitting in your cruiser at the local speed trap, and hearing dispatch report a getaway doughnut truck?

"All units. CNB Bank on 66 was just robbed. Be on the lookout for a green and white Krispy Kreme doughnut truck. Suspects are considered armed and dangerous, as they may be on a sugar high. Use caution when appraoching because the hot frosting on those fresh doughnuts can give you a serious burn."

I can hear Foxworthy now:

"If you've ever robbed a bank, and your get-a-way car was a stolen Krispy Kreme doughnut truck, you might be a red-neck."

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, March 25, 2004

Mikey plays Rough!

Mike Hollihan shows that quality is always more important than quantity. Although he takes even longer blogging breaks than I do, he always comes back with a bang, producing thoughtful posts as well as wonderful graphics like those I've posted to the left.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Reality vs. Spin

OK, it's warming up outside, and the annual dionysian frenzy known as Spring Break is upon us once again. I was listening to the radio on my way into work last week when I heard Hallerin Hill talking to a young sounding woman about Spring Break in Florida, and what goes on there. Hallerin reacted in what must of been feigned shock to discover that kids on Spring Break actually consumed alcohol to excess!

Say it ain't so!

But that's not what got me started. What really brought the milk through my nose was this girl's repeated statement that parents would be shocked to know what goes on at Spring Break. I hate to break it too all you young folks out there, but there is nothing, and I mean nothing going on during Spring Break today that wasn't going on when your parents were there. Check out Spring Break if you don't believe me. The movie is all about sex and drinking (and swimming with a knife in your teeth), and is over 20 years old. In fact, it's probably a safe bet that some of you going to Florida this year were conceived during a Spring Break bacchanalia. (If that image doesn't lead kids to use contraception, I don't know what will.)

I know y'all hate to think of your parents and sex in the same sentence, but the reality is that today's generation did not invent sex, drugs, and rock n' roll; hell, y'all haven't even improved on 'em all that much.

I flipped over to another station, only to hear the male half of the morning team sanctimoniously claim that if you have any more than 5 drinks at a single setting, you are binging and have a drinking problem.

Since when have we lost our collective minds?

Nobody questioned this pronouncement, which, if you just think for half a second, is patently ridiculous. Now, my dad just died in January from the cumulative effects of a lifetime of alcohol abuse, so I have no reason to love alcohol. In fact, I made the choice early on not to drink, since alcoholism runs in my family. At his worst, Dad would start the day with a bottle of champagne. He'd finish that by around 10AM, and switch to beer, finishing off 6-12 by noon to 2PM, when he'd switch to Jack or Jim Beam (straight up, or with a single ice cube) to finish out the day. He'd repeat the cycle the next day.

Now that's a drinking problem. That's binging. How in the hell can you say that 5 drinks in one setting is the same as that?

Consider the guy who sits down on his couch on a fall Sunday to watch a couple of football games. The games run from 1PM through about 7 or 7:30PM. During that time, he drinks a six pack of beer. By definition, he's just been on a binge, even though he probably didn't drink enough to be legally intoxicated. Or to feel more than a minor buzz. Or even to experience the wonderful joy of a hangover. This is a binge?

I don't think so.

So why is the threshold so ridiculously low?

Could it be to create the perception of a problem that would allow nosy busy-bodies to mind somebody else's business instead of their own?

Posted by Rich
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Monday, March 22, 2004


How in the heel can you make a movie about Buford Pusser and set it ANYWHERE other than Tennesee?

Washington State? Give me a break!

Here's a quick clue for Hollywood (not that they've called, begging for my wisdom):

Back when the original (and only, based on what I've seen aboiut the new version) Walking Tall came out, after it finished the rounds of the first run theaters, it hit the drive in circuit, playing at the Dixie Lee Drive In, out near where Watt Rd hits Kingston Pike. Back then, that was a long way outside of Knoxville, before the sprawl that swallowed Farragut got it's start, and it was one of the few places near Knoxville where you could go see an "adult film." Of course, we didn't call them that then; they were just "dirty movies," or "titty flicks." I don't know who ran the place, but I do know that when he found a movie his patrons liked, it stayed there for awhile. I think it was a movie called "Candystripers" that held the record for the longest continuous run at the DLDI. That is, until Walking Tall came out.

When Walking Tall hit the drive in circuit, it moved into the second screen at the Dixie Lee, and didn't leave for well over a year. For perspective, even Start Wars can't make that claim.

Now there have been other movies about guys coming home to clean up the town (remember Billy Jack?) but none of them even comes close to Walking Tall


Because, excepting for a little dramatic license, it was by-God a true story! Buford Pusser lived and died in McNairy County Tennessee, and if you want to, you can go see the car he died in right here in Sevier County. The battles he fought are a matter of record, the good he did, the people he helped, and even his mistake are all real, and most of it made it into the movies. Truth gave the movie a resonance, a reality that folks responded to.

This "Chris Vaughn" character is every bit as fictional as Fergusen Washington, where the new version is set. This already diminishes any possible impact of the movie, because we're aware from the beginning that it's just another movie. We've gone from truth, to a movie version of the truth, to a Hollywood treatment of the movie version of the truth.

In real life, Pusser was forced to kill Louise Hathcock, bar owner and bootlegger, in a gunfight in a bedroom. He was arresting her for theft and possessing whiskey in a dry county when she turned on him and tried to shoot him, missing with her first shot. In self defense, he shot her once in the shoulder and twice in the chest. I'll bet that this little episode doesn't make it into the movie. It might upset the feminists, dontcha know.

And that's the problem in a nutshell; instead of something resembling reality, we're getting another pre-packaged Hollywood fantasy, cleansed of all warts and human imperfections.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, March 19, 2004

If Campaign Ads Were Subject to Truth in Advertising Laws…

CUE: Music with a stern majesty, something from one of those long hair composer types, playing in the background while we see

ON SCREEN: John Kerry in silhouette, back lit against a montage of All-American images, Mount Rushmore, Iwo Jima statue, etc.

music swells to a particularly majestic bit then cuts under as we hear

ANN: (Somebody with a really manly voice, like the dude from the Rockford Files, what was his name? Oh yeah, James Garner. He'd be good. Or that Magnum PI Selleck. Yeah, get Tom Selleck! He's a republican boss. Won't go for it. Damn! OK, then it's the Garner guy.) John Kerry is a man with a vision for America, a vision firmly rooted in the shifting sands of popular opinion as stated in the latest polls. Unafraid to take on the really tough issues, he looks carefully at both sides of every question carefully developing a nuanced position that seats him firmly on both sides of the debate.
  • He voted for the Iraqi War, yet he was against it.
  • He's for gays getting all the rights of marriage, as long as they don't use the word marriage.
  • He supported America's right to act unilaterally against Saddam Hussein, while standing opposed to George Bush acting unilaterally against Saddam Hussein.
  • He voted to impose tougher restrictions on Cuba, while voting against tightening restrictions on Cuba.

His approach is so nuanced in fact, that he denies that they are nuanced.

Now that's nuanced.

SHOW: stock Viet Nam footage while ANNOUNCER continues:

ANN: John Kerry is a proud man who represents new ideas for a new America. He won't make his service as a decorated war hero

SUBTITLE: Honorable Discharge after 3 Purple Hearts and Bronze Star

ANN: central to the campaign. Instead, he chooses to focus on today's bigger problems, like jobs, health care, and the economy.

Nor will he run a negative campaign, unlike the most crooked, you know, lying group he's ever seen.

CUE: stock images of the UN General Assembly, Jaques Chirac, Kim Jong Il, and Fidel Castro.

ANN: John Kerry is man who is internationally approved by several foreign leaders, and although discretion prevents him from saying exactly who they might be, we all know just how important having international approval of our electoral process is.

CUE: Bring back the long hair music as the announcer closes

ANN: John Kerry. Veteran. Nuanced. Internatioanlly approved. He's everything we need in a President.

KERRY: Hello. I'm John Kerry, and I approved this message, although I do have reservations about some parts of it, reservatiosn that will allow me to distance myself from it if polling indicates a negative response.

ANN: Paid for by George Soros and other people who have more money than you'll ever dream of, neatly bypassing the limits imposed by McCain-Feingold.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, March 18, 2004

My Application

Spike TV has a new show called "10 Things Every Guy Should Experience." They get two pairs of guys to humiliate themselves in stupid events in order to win a trip to a "guy event," like the Superbowl, or Wrestlemania. Then they take the best bits and make an hour long show out of it.

Yeah, I know, a little moronic, but then again, we're guys, and we'll put up with a little national humiliation to get what we want. After all, there's no humiliation worse than the long walk back across the bar to your buddies when the pretty girl you just asked to dance says no.

Well, except for the even longer walk when a not-so- pretty girl says no.

Anyway, just for grins, I checked out the application, and figured, what the heck, I've got nothing better to do tonight; I'll fill it out.

Of course, I'm not going to play it straight. There's only a one in a million shot I'd get selected, so I might as well give the poor bastards reading all those apps a little laugh. So here is my application for "10 Things Every Guy Should Experience" (and no, an intimate evening with the Olsen twins ain't on the list. Be nice)

NAME: Rich Hailey

PHONE NUMBER: I gave it to them, but for you, it's 555-yeah, right.


GENDER: male (only 2 choices; how republican of them)

DATE OF BIRTH: a while ago

CURRENT OCCUPATION: freelance gigolo

TEAMMATE's NAME: inserted my brother's name, which according to the Witness Protection Program, I cannot reveal here. (But they didn't object to him going on National TV. Strange.)

Ok, this first part was pretty straight forward, and there weren't many opportunities to mess around, but then came the more personal questions...

Where did you first meet your teammate?
When my parents brought him home from the hospital.

He drooled on me.

Name three of your favorite hobbies
Running marathons. Cliff diving. Lion taming
Ok, for real.
Eating marathon candy bars. Reading cliff notes. Lying around.

What is your idea of a good time? (30 words or less):
I like to crush my enemies and hear the lamentations of their women

List the three adjectives that best describe you

Describe the most memorable moment you and your teammate have experienced together
The day we saved a baby's life by pulling it's runaway carriage out from in front of a speeding 18 wheeler.
Or the time we double dated siamese twins during an exceptionally cool spring break in Panama City Beach.
Or did you want something that really happened?

Have you ever been on television before? If so, when and what show(s)?:
Does a police sketch on America's Most Wanted count?

So, you think I've got a chance?

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, March 17, 2004

I was wrong…

Kerry is not Vezzini from The Princess Bride.


This image comes courtesy of Ady Hahn, the fly killa...

Posted by Rich
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Kerry and the Burden of Proof

OK, Kerry has claimed that foreign leaders want him to be our next President, but he refuses to name names, or provide any evidence that what he says is true.

And the left says "Bravo! Well done!" While examination of Kerry's travel logs over the last 18 months or so show no chances of face to face meetings with any foreign leaders, giving rise to questions about the accuracy of Kerry's claims, there's no physical evidence that he didn't meet with these unknown clandestine potentates.

But that's good enough, right? If we have no proof of a lie, we have to assume that he's telling the truth.

Too bad it doesn't go both ways. Remember Bush and the whole AWOL flap? No, repeat NO evidence that he was AWOL, piles of evidence, including an honorable discharge, pay stubs, and a complete service record, that shows that he wasn't AWOL at any time, yet still, lefties like CalPundit and SKBubba still sound the drum beat.

So, let John Kerry meet the same burden of proof that Bush did. Give us the names, dates, and locations of these so-called endorsements. Provide a clear paper trail that documents your claims, or stand accused of lying to the people. Hell, Dubya produced records from 30 years ago; all I'm asking Kerry to do is go back 18 months.

Surely that isn't too much to ask.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, March 16, 2004

A Few Quick Hits

Brief notes from a busy life:
  • I was watching The Princess Bride the other night with my kids and when we got the the Iocaine powder duel, I had a political epiphany: John Kerry is Vizinni the Sicilian reincarnated.

  • For those who didn't get it the first time, the reason the Spanish election represents a win for the terrorists is simple. Prior to the bombing, the socialists had a very slim lead, well within the margin of error. After the bombing, they won in a walk. Even a whacked out terrorist can grasp cause and effect. Set off a bomb, and your enemies crumble.

    You couldn't pay me to live anywhere in Europe for the next decade or so.

  • Let me get this straight. Some moron eats fast food three times a week for a month and gains weight, and this is news? And now McDonalds, in a remarkably craven atempt to pander to more morons who feel the need to monitor what I decide to eat, has decided to remove the Super Sized items from their menu. So it appears that in America, who you eat in the bed room is your own business; what you eat in a restaurant is everybody's business.

    Well, McDonalds won't have to worry about me in the future. I'll give my business to someone who actually wants to sell me what I want, rather than what some loudmouthed busybodies think I should be allowed to have.

  • Speaking of gay marriage, some mayors and other officials have begun issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, even though it's against the law. Their reasoning is that the law is wrong, and therefore, they shouldn't have to follow it.

    Try that argument the next time you get a speeding ticket.

  • Paging Dr. Dean, Dr. Howard Dean. Anybody heard from him since his primal scream? He's disappeared off the screen faster than Jay Leno's warm up comic when The Tonight Show starts taping.

    Like all good fluffers, he got the ball rolling, then stepped out of the way for the real stars.

  • John McCain is reportedly shocked, very shocked, to find that Democrats are funneling truckloads of money through the loopholes in his campaign finance reform law. Obviously, his solution is to enact an improved campaign finance reform act to close the loopholes in the first one.

    Given the effects of his first stab at it, before long, average folks won't be allowed to talk politics over the water cooler without filing 37 forms, in triplicate, via snail mail, and paying a $275 fee to cover the background check and other processing. Meanwhile, the usual suspects will be able to buy their candidates at a greatly reduced rate since competion from actual citizens will be all but eliminated.

  • In a surprise move that confounded long time observers, John Kerry has come down firmly and unequivocally on one single side of an issue, with no waffling qualifiers. He's completely opposed to "Laci and Connor's law," which would classify a fetus as an additional victim if it is injured or killed during an attack on the mother.

    The Kerry campaign denies that the fact that fetuses cannot vote has anything to do with his uncharacteristic lack of nuance.

  • Let's see, $30 million investment; years of effort to plan, film, market and distribute a film most industry insiders predicted would never make back a cent; and now Mel looks like he's going to clear somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 million for The Passion, a movie very few people will see more than once.

    Tell me again how he's wrecked his career?

  • John Kerry has claimed that he's been in touch with foreign leaders who support his candidacy. When pressed for details, he claims that it would violate a confidence if he were to name names.

    Didn't most of us grow out of this crap roughly around the 11th grade? Is this guy running for United States President, or Junior Class President?

    Jeez, people.

OK, that's enough spleen venting for one night. Catch y'all tomorrow, when I promise I'll have a more coherent piece on applying to be a contestant on a TV reality show.

Posted by Rich
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I’m back!

But I'm still crazy busy, so posting will continue to be light to spotty, with intermittent cloud bursts when I get the time.

Like today, for example

Posted by Rich
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Monday, March 01, 2004

NPR Watch, Day 1: The Game is On!

Once just wasn't enough apparently. tgirsch issued a challenge for someone to show an example of a liberal bias to NPR, the network he considers to be the most neutral and unbiased. I complied with a clear example of the subtle bias that permeates NPR. Tgirsch wasn't convinced (big surprise) and went on to claim that I'd only produced one example, and that was hardly indicative of a generalized bias, particularly since he claimed to have found 2 examples of a conservative bias.

So he's shifted the goal from an example to multiple examples.

I can do that as well.

I commute for about 3 hours a day, and I usually listen to NPR for a good portion of that commute, so it will will represent no great hardship to record the instances of bias over the course of the week. If nothing else, it should be interesting.

So, we'll kick off the festivities with Monday's All Things Considered.

  1. Danial Schorr implied that President Bush was willing to trade tracking down illegal trade in WMD technology for permission to insert troops in Pakistan in order to get a boost in the polls prior to the election. The entire report was based on the anonymous testimony of an unnamed former defense dept big wig that a deal had been struck. That much may have been news, but Schorr's implication that the deal was struck as an election gambit is bias, pure and simple.
  2. There was a news story on hunters and fishermen who didn't approve of the Bush administration's environmental policies. The reporter made sure to repeat several times that the poeple speaking were "conservative Republicans, attempting to show a deep divide in the Republican base. Curiously, I haven't heard any stories on NPR about liberal Democrats who support President Bush due to his actions after 9-11, even though other news outlets National Review, Reason, and Fox to name three, have run such stories. Even more curiously, I couldn't find this story on any other news site on the web. And it wasn't like Monday was a slow news day, or anything.
  3. There was another story on scientists who criticized the President's goal of hydrogen vehicles by 2020, and for many of the same reasons I've pointed out before: no hydrogen production capabilities, no hydrogen transportation network, and, last but not least, no efficient hydrogen engines. The curious thing is the placement of this story. Normally, we'd hear nothing but good things about a gov't attempt to move away from the oil economy, to one that is cleaner, and less damaging to the environment. But not in this case. Nope, all we hear is that it's "unrealistic."
  4. In a report on the California grocery strike settlement, the commentator interviewed by NPR clearly sided with labor, saying that the settlement was "unfortunately" bad for labor, and represented a victory for management, and said that all grocery stores would now join Walmart in "racing to the bottom" of worker pay and benefits. No opposing view from grocery store management was offered.

That's 4 stories making up the bulk of a half hour, and each one demonstrated some small bias to the left. Each of these taken by themselves is neglible, too small to really worry about. But like lead poisoning, the effect is cumulative, and taken together, a clear pattern emerges.

I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Posted by Rich
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