Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

 
Friday, June 30, 2006

US Senate Debate

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Last night was the first televised debate between the three GOP candidates fighting for the right to go up against Harold Ford Jr. for Dr. Frist's seat in the Senate. I'll have a more detailed analysis tomorrow, including a transcript, but for now, I'll just give you my general impressions.

To start with, all three candidate claimed essentially the same positions on the issues. All three were against a withdrawal timetable for Iraq, were willing to explore the fair tax, claimed to be pro life, supported strengthening immigration controls, including holding employers accountable for hiring illegals. Since the candidates voiced such similar positions, I tried to look outside what they were saying to form a better opinion about each man.

Driving up, it was clear which candidate had the most money. Bob Corker had more signs up than did Van Hilleary and Ed Bryant combined. He also had more supporters at the debate, during which, he boasted of out raising both of his opponents. I was already put off a bit by Corker's omnipresent ad campaign. The ostentatious display during the debate deepened that feeling. It's almost like he's trying to buy the election.

The other thing that struck me about Corker was a fundamental insincerity. After the debate, he was giving an interview on the radio, and he was talking about how his opponents were always attacking him, while he just wanted to talk about the issues. But during the debate, starting with his answer to the first question, he referred to Hilleary and Bryant as his "Washington friends," implying that they were somehow less Tennessean since they had spent time in Washington. It's an odd strategy actually, since at the end of the debate, Corker claimed that the one thing that set him apart from Bryant and Hilleary was his experience, yet he has no Washington experience.

Bryant and Hilleary do.

Considering that Washington is a town that functions based on contacts, Corker probably shouldn't be playing up his rookie status.

Van Hilleary was the most openly combative of the three. He wasn't afraid to take on Corker, calling him out for his changing positions on abortion and immigration, and calling him soft on lobbyists and earmarks on the budget. I talked to Hilleary after the debate, and he seemed genuinely friendly, if a bit distracted because he was waiting to go on the radio.

Ed Bryant struck me as the candidate with the most integrity. He was uncompromising in his positions, strong against illegal immigration, and strong on the war in Iraq. He didn't have a lot of flair, just the simple power of his convictions.

So who is the best candidate? Well, all three pledged to support whoever wins the primary, and that's good for the GOP, because Harold Ford has got a ton of money coming in from out of the state, so it will take an all out effort by the Republicans to beat him. Corker has the biggest war chest, which gives him the advantage between the three, but Bryant presents the clearest contrast to Ford. Right now, Hilleary is somewhere in the middle, which isn't good.

One last comparison between the three:
posters.jpg

The Corker poster is business as usual. The Hilleary poster promises a party with the candidate, and is homemade. Bryant's poster forgoes flash and style for substance.

I like substance.


Other observations:

  • The long lead-in pieces to the first couple of questions really wasted a lot of time. Before the debate began, Gene Patterson cautioned us in the audience to refrain from laughing or applauding in order to save more time for more questions, but then WATE wasted several minutes with fluff pieces giving background like "We're at war in Iraq and people want to know what's next."

    That's stellar reporting right there, people.

  • I was sitting near the back, with a bunch of folks who were either reporters or bloggers because we all had lap tops and we were all typing away. So, if any of you were sitting near a large man in a blue shirt with a camera around his neck, that was me.

  • The auditorium was close to full, and the crowd tended towards youthful, which was a nice surprise at a GOP debate. I expected a fairly sparse, older crowd. It was good to see so many people interested in a primary.

  • Christine Jessel is very good-looking. I mention this only because it's true.


Posted by Rich
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Thursday, June 29, 2006

From my E-mail; 9-11 Truck

truck1.jpg

This picture as well as those in the extended area came to me via E-mail from Big Dave Nix, my cousin's boyfriend.

The truck belongs to John & Amy Holmgren from Shafer, MN. They took out a loan to pay for the work, which lists the names of all of the victims of the attacks on 9-11.


Posted by Rich
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Rob Smith RIP

Rob Smith, the acerbic voice of Gut Rumbles, has died.

A lot of folks hated his blog; a lot more loved it. Count me among the latter group. I didn't always like what Rob had to say or the way he said it, but the man had the gift to reach out and touch people with his words, a gift all too rare in the blogosphere.

I'll miss him.

Posted by Rich
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Senate Candidate Debate

I'm planning on going to the debate tonight featuring the three GOP candidates to fill Dr. Frist's seat in the US Senate.

What surprised me was how hard it was to find information about when and where the debate would be. As I searched the web yesterday, WNOX, the radio station carrying the debate had nothing on their website about it. I also went to KnoxGOP, figuring they would have it on their calandar.

Nope.

Finally, I found the info at the News Sentinal, in an add on to a Georgiana Vines column. Today, WATE has an article posted.

It just surprised me that the information wasn't more readily available in advance of the event. Heck, I knew the entire Sundown in the City Schedule weeks ago. Surely this is more important than that!

Anyway, I just talked to the folks at WATE, and they had no problem with me bringing a laptop and a camera, so I should have some good pictures for you tonight. Since the debate is on the UT campus, I might even luck into a WiFi connection and be able to live blog it.

Posted by Rich
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Flag Burning; the Less Offensive Post

Here's the short version:

If it's OK to burn the US flag because that's an expression of free speech, then why isn't it OK to fly the Confederate Battle Flag?

Posted by Rich
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Freedom of Speech

WARNING! THE FOLLOWING POST IS OFFENSIVE! IT USES WORDS THAT ARE NOT NICE. IF YOU ARE THE TYPE TO BE OFFENDED BY THOSE WORDS, THEN SKIP TO THE NEXT POST OR GO AND READ A COMIC BOOK OR SOMETHING.

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.



Posted by Rich
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Breaking the SIlence (Not Michael)

Hey folks! Sorry I've been quiet this week, but every now and then, the need to feed, clothe, and house my children takes precedence over chatting with y'all.

I'm sure you understand.

You might not even have noticed...

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, June 22, 2006

US Soccer Team:  The Atlanta Braves of the World Cup

Nobody can choke when it counts like the Atlanta Braves.

Except for the US National Soccer Team

How else can you explain the 5th ranked team in the world only scoring 1 goal in the opening round?

Yeah, the refs in the last two games were awful, but that doesn't explain Landon Donovan's cosistently bad play. Out of position, sloppy passes, and truly horific corner kicks characterized his entire World Cup.

How do explain McBride choosing to head the ball out of the box in stoppage time instead of shooting on goal?

How do you explain Bruce Arena leaving his ineffective lineup out ifor 15 minutes in the scond half, down 2-1?

Like I said, they choked big time. Oh well, the Women's World Cup is coming soon; they, at least, know how to win.

Congrats to Ghana for making it out of the group of death into the round of 16.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Pvt. Adam Michael Privett Reporting for Duty

My oldest son, Adam, enlisted today in the Army as a Field Artillery Tactical Data System Specialist.(MOS 13D) I'm going to have to put in a call to Rev Sensing on this one to see exactly what my boy will be doing, but as he describes it, he'll be one of the guys setting up and operating the fire control systems for artillery batteries.

He leaves for Basic Combat Training in just a few weeks, on July 19.

As any father would be, I'm very proud of him. It wasn't an easy decision; (his girlfriend/near fiance isn't too pleased; nor is his mother) this is something he's been thinking about for many years, and now he's following through.

Also, like any father, I'm worried about him, worried about the dangers he may face in the years ahead. We live in troubled times and there's no signs that things are going to get any better anytime soon. The collapse of the Soviet Union left a huge power vacuum that the US was unwilling to fill, and the UN was incapable of filling. So now we're seeing the inevitable rush of other powers to fill the vacuum, creating tremendous strains on global stability.

Those strains are only going to get worse.

And my son will rise up with other mens' sons and daughters, and together, they will stand watch over our homes and our families and protect us from danger. They will sacrifice much to carry out this duty; some will be required to give all. As his father, I pray that he will not be called to make that ultimate sacrifice, but I am also proud that he, like his father and birth father, and their fathers, and their fathers before them, has chosen to take that risk, to stand up and commit himself to defending something bigger than himself, bigger than his family. He's defending his country; he's a patriot.

A few days ago, a singer said that she didn't understand patriotism; she didn't see the need for it.

Sadly, there are many who agree with her. They are too much in love with themselves to love anything else more. It reminds me of another singer whose song told us that "to love yourself was the greatest love of all."

What utter garbage!

I'm going to crib from a speech given in 1973 by Robert Heinlein at the US Naval Academy. He too was talking about patriotism, and he made the case that it was so important that any culture that allowed it to die out was doomed.

Loving yourself is only the first, most basic level of love. While it is vital for individual survival, it is useless for ensuring survival of the species. Love must reach out beyond ourselves if it is to have any power. It follows that love of family is the next level of love. Parents will fight and die to protect their children because of that love; the family unit is more likely to survive because of it.

The next step is the town, city, or village grouping. Larger than the family, love of your home ensures that neighbors work together to help those who need it. We see it everyday. For example, here in Knoxville, how many charities do we have operating to help those who need it? I can think of 10 or 12 right off hand.

And the next step up is love of your country, or patriotism. And let's be very clear here; we aren't just talking about territory and borders. We're talking about culture, and a way of life. We're talking about people you know, and people you'll never know; people you like, and people you can't stand. We're talking about taking the good and the bad and rolling it all together and loving it enough to defend it just like you would your kids.

That's patriotism, folks; how many of us can say we've done that? How many of us can say that we are willing to defend our way of life with our lives if necessary?

And from time to time, it is necessary. History shows us over and over again that any culture that loses the will or the ability to defend itself perishes almost immediately. And that's why patriotism is so important. If you don't love your home enough to defend it, then somebody is going to come and take it away from you.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

An Object Lesson in the True Definition of Torture

For those of you who are still suffering under the delusion that the interrogation techniques used at Gitmo are torture, let me offer up a brief comparison between the US and the terrorists.





USThem
Keeping the room too coldSlitting the captives throat
Playing loud musicBeheading captives
Sleep DeprivationLife Deprivation


I could go on, but if you haven't gotten it by now, you never will.

And for what it's worth, if you can't tell the difference between what we do at Gitmo and what the terrorists do, then not only shouldn't you be holding public office, but you probably shouldn't be allowed to operateheavy machinery, motorized vehicles, or to handle sharp instruments without close supervision.

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, June 18, 2006

Poker Stars Bloggers Tournament is On!

The tourney starts in 5 minutes. I'll report back on the breaks, if I actually make it to a break this year. Last year I played crazy aggressive and busted out way too early. This year, I hope to play a bit smarter.

But we'll see how it goes.

UPDATE: It's 5PM and I'm still in the game. I've gotten good cards and I'm up, but only by a couple hundred chips. Our table is at a disadvantage because 4 of the 9 players didn't show. That means every pot is roughly half the size, which means we're falling behind the rest of the tourney in chip count.

I'm playing OK, mixing tight play with some aggressive calls in the right situations. I was close to being eliminated at one point, but a good card on the river, followed by another good pot got me back into the game.

We'll see how the next hour goes.

Stats:1497 out of 2247 players remain. Average chips, 3002. Largest stack 26,450.

My stack 2255.

Wish me luck!

UPDATE 6:05: Ok, hour 2 is done and I'm still in it. I was falling behind when I got a couple of great hands, doubled up twice, and wound up 52nd in chips. Then came disaster. I was sitting with 16,000 chips with big slick (AK) and a guy with 7000 went all in pre flop. I had to call, and the flop missed me. His pair of 10s held up and I was crippled.

Then I was moved to a new table. I had 2 hearts in the hole, one of which was a queen. I missed the flush but flopped another queen. I was heads up with a guy whose betting told me he was on the come, so I called his all in, which put me nearly all in myself. My queens held up, and I'm back in the top 100 with about 15,500 chips.

Stats 350 of 2247 players remaining top stack: 50,570 My stack: 15,460

UPDATE 7:15: Still alive, and in 100th place in the chip count. This hour has been a roller coaster of a ride. I've been as high as 15th in the count, and as low as almost out. Here's an example. I was small stacked with 11,000 chips and doubled up when my pair of tens held up to an A high. The very next hand, I got pocket kings, but lost on the turn when an ace showed. I misplayed the hand, slow playing to try and get the most money out of a good hand, but when the A came on the turn, I knew I was in trouble. I called the guy on the river on the off chance he was bluffing, but no such luck. He was holding A rag, so if I had come out stronger after the flop, he probably would have folded. That dropped me from 22,000 back down to 13,000. Since then, I've improved just a bit, but I'm going to need better cards to survive the next hour.

Stats: 115 players left out of 2247. Large stack 137399, average 39078

My stack 17,220 98th place in chip count

UPDATE 7:30: Game over man! It's all over but the cryin'. At least I went out in memorable fashion. Since I was short stacked, I had a choice. I could play very very conservatively and hope to make it into the top 52, and win a jacket or something, or I could play aggressively and try to fight my way back into the hunt. As small stacked as I was, I knew my chances of limping into the prize pool were pretty slim, so I decided to go out with a bang.

I folded through about 10 hands, watching my stack shrink from blinds and antes until I got a hand worth going all in with, AJ suited. I went all in and was called by a guy with about 60k in chips. He turned over big slick, AK unsuited, and I figured my game was over. The flop came and paired our aces along with a Q 10. The turn was a blank and I was down to my last card. The King came on the river, giving him top 2 pair, but giving me an A high straight!

I was still in the game, and I'd doubled up to 17K in chips.

3 hands later, I got it again, AJ suited, and still being short stacked, I went all in again. This time the chip leader at our table called, and when we turned over our cards, once again, I was staring at Big Slick, this time suited.

What are the odds of coming up against AK twice when you're holding AJ?

For me, it's 100%!

My luck did not hold this time, and I was out of the tournament just that quickly.

So, I'm out, lasting just over 3 hours and outlasting 2154 other entrants, finishing 93rd. I didn't win any prizes, and I'm not going to the WSOP, but I did meet my goal of finishing in the top 100, and playing better than I did last year. I still made some bonehead moves that I wish I could go back and undo, but on the whole, I'm happy with my performance.

And there's always next year!

So, any RTB bloggers want to get up a game?

Posted by Rich
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Friday, June 16, 2006

Scenes from the Beach!

Here are just a few pictures I took over the last couple of days.

And much to your great relief, I feature in none of them!


Posted by Rich
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A Nation of Immigrants

From the moment the first Europeans set foot on the land, the fate of the indigenous peoples was sealed. Their cultures, their languages, their very way of life was doomed to extinction by that first bootprint.

They came first in a trickle, exploreres, adventurers, misfits and outcasts, telling themselves they were looking for a new life, but in reality fleeing from past failures. These small bands of men moved out across the continent, exploring the New World, and sending back word of wealth unimagined, fertile fields and ripe lands for the taking. The word went back to Europe of these riches and opportunities, and the mad rush was on.

The armies of conquest quickly moved throughout the land, driving the natives before them based on superior weaponry and tactics. Oh sure, there were ocasional reversals, but the issue never was in doubt, particularly when the natives began to fall ill from the Europeans' diseases. Their lack of immunity to the invaders' diseases doomed them even more surely than did the invaders' weapons.

The native men were slaughtered, and their women raped and sold into slavery; the bloodlines of the nativ peoples were destroyed forever, ensuring that they would always be a minority in the lands formerly theirs. The native religion was outlawed, as was the native languages; the gods themselves were replaced by European gods, and the tongue became European as well. Even the names of the lands were changed to new European lands, and where the native names were kept, they were Anglicized to make them more appealing to the new settlers.

In short, the usual pattern of imperialist conquest was folowed as the Europeans moved in with an insatiable appetite for land and resources, and the colonies grew in strength and power until they eventually fought a war against their former brothers to establish freedom and independence. Unfortunately, as is usually the case, that freedom and independence was only for the Europeans and their descendents; the native peoples remained in poverty and oppression, where they remain to this day.

It's a familiar tale to anyone on the left who detests imperial agression and colonization, but in this case there's one slight detail I left out.

This isn't the story of North America and the United States.

It is the story of Meso-America and Mexico.

The Spanish conquest of Meso-America was so pervasive and devastating to the indigenous peoples that the vast majority of Mexican citizens are of European extraction; they are immigrants, not natives.

Which makes their claim to large chunks of the US Southwest a bit problematic.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dear Al Gore

I'm currently on vacation on the beach in North Carolina and the temperature outside is about 68 degrees. This makes getting into the ocean kinda tricky because with the constant winds, hypothermia is a real issue. Since you seem to have too much of it on your planet, could we borrow a cup or two of that global warming you keep preaching about? We'd really appreciate it.

Thanks, Al.

Posted by Rich
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I’m Confused.

I'm Confused. How is it that some folks can find a video of a Marine singing a song about turning the tables on terrorists much more offensive than videos of terrorists beheading civilians?

Posted by Rich
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