Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Post in Which I Say Something Good About Stacy Campfield

This is a funny joke.

Posted by Rich
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A Post in Which I Retire from Political Blogging

I can't stomach it any more.

A link to Daily Kos from a Katie Granju piece in her KNS blog led me to a Kos commenter suggesting not only that Sarah Palin's 5th child wasn't hers but her daughters, but that the child may have been the product of incest. The comments on Katie's post reveal the worst of both sides of the political fence. And now there are rumors circling from the left that her oldest child was conceived out of wedlock. (Gasp!) And Republicans were no better. I remember all the rumors about Hillary and Vince Foster, or that Hillary was a lesbian that dogged the Clinton Presidency. All of it is crap. Period.

I tend to stay away from DU and Free Republic because those kinds of comments are common, but now they are showing up in more mainstream political discourse like a newspaper blog and it just turns my stomach. Not only are the commenters reprehensible, but this is a subject that should have no place in politics. The left cries foul when Chelsea Clinton is attacked, but then wages open war on the Bush twins and now on Sarah Palin's child. The Republicans are crying fowl now, but they sure had fun with Amy Carter and Chelsea Clinton, didn't they?

It's disgusting. Bringing it up in a newspaper blog cheapens the newspaper almost as much as it does the blogger. And the bad thing for me is that now it's a "story" and I'm compelled to react to it.

I love politics when it is a philosophical debate which reveals not just what people believe but why they believe it. We will disagree at the most fundamental levels during this debate, but when you understand the guy on the other side, you can find a way to work with him. This doesn't mean you compromise your ideals, the current popular definition, but you find ways to work towards mutual goals. For example, I think abortion is a criminal act, that the right to choose ends when it involves the loss of another life. A pro choice person will disagree with that, but we will both agree that abortion is certainly the least preferred method of dealing with this issue, and we can work together to provide increased ways to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place, whether through contraception or abstinance or both. Everybody wins.

Unfortunately, modern America has turned politics into a blood sport. The most common idea on both sides of the aisle is that anyone who doesn't believe as I do is an enemy to be fought and vanquished. Ideological purity is becoming more important than intelligence or achievement. Right after the local elections, the head of Knoxville's Democratic Party wanted to kick out one of the district representatives for the awful crime of congratualting a family friend who happened to be a Republican.

It's asinine. (And no Stacy, asinine is still not considered to be foul language on any blog othjer than your own.)

I don't play that way. I'm more interested in a man's character than his politics. For example, I consider Doug McCaughan and his wife Cathy to be good friends of mine, and they are both self described flaming liberals. (If you don't believe me just ask them for a T-shirt.) I think they are both decent, honorable, intelligent people who happen to prioritize things differently than I do, and work from a different set of basic assumptions, and that leads them to a different set of political ideals. I think they are wrong, and I'm fairly certain they think the same about my politics. But that's all minor compared to the fact that they are good, decent people. Doug and Cathy helped me move my then girlfriend, now fiance on their only child free night of the week because that's the kind of people they are.

Partisan politics is becoming too personal. The Knoxville blogging community already has too many examples of people who take their politics so seriously that they refuse to associate with people who don't share their particular brand of Kool Aid. I don't want to contribute to that. Now I have strongly held convictions and because of the way I write, when I voice them it can be very challenging to those who hold different convictions. If I continue to write about politics, I run the risk of alienating people I like and respect, so I have to make a choice.

Do I continue to write about politics, and run the risk of losing friends, or do I back off for a while, and leave the screaming to those who seem to enjoy it? The decision is easy. Reading and writing about politics leaves me angry; spending time with my friends makes me happy.

So don't expect too much in the way of political commentary or analysis over the next few months, unless of course I'm making fun of some overly partisan moron who desperately needs it. And as for the election, I'll pick one of the third party guys, or write in a candidate. I won't vote for a guy who tried to shut down my freedom of speech, no matter how much I like his choice of VP, and I won't vote for a guy who has called for a national police force with the same funding and power as the military, no matter how well he reads from a teleprompter.

Posted by Rich
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A Post in Which I Let Democrats Speak for Themselves


Michael Moore


Tell me again how Democrats are the compassionate ones?

Posted by Rich
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The Best Response to an Obnoxious Parent I’ve Ever Heard

The game was over and our team had won and won big. In the midst of all the celebration I noticed the head coach engaged in an intense conversation with one of the parents on his team. I eased over in that direction since I needed to talk to the coach about an issue with the sound system. As I got closer, I heard the following conversation:

Obnoxious Parent: My son is the best receiver on your team. Why didn't you throw the ball to him more?

Head Coach: Let me ask you a question first. What defense was the other team lined up in>

OP: Excuse me?

HC: What defense were they lined up in? Were they in a cover one or cover two? Were they blitzing a linebacker or having one drop back into coverage? Was their line playing up tight and pressuring the run, or were they sitting back to cover the pass? Was the safety sliding over to help the corner or was he blitzing up the middle?

OP: I don't know much about defenses; I'm not sure what you're asking me...

HC: If you don't know about the defenses the other team was running, then how can you come up to me and tell me I should have thrown the ball more?

OP: Aaaahh ermmmmm My wife made me come over here!

Posted by Rich
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Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Post in Which I Say Something Good About Referees

Just kidding. I have very little good to say about referees, particularly TSSAA referees who work Saturday football games for money.

If you're a ref, and you work on Saturdays because you love the game, and you love watching the kids play, then the rest of this doesn't concern you.

For the rest of you, the ones who are out there for the money, or because you can't quite hack the high school game anymore, I'd just as soon you sit at home on the couch and watch the big game on TV than come out to our field and ruin our games.

We had a referee tonight who made it clear from the moment he stepped on our field that he didn't want to be there, and he wanted to make sure he got out of there as quickly as possible. He ran the clock when it should have been stopped, waved off penalties to keep the clock from stopping, and in general called a very loose game. He harassed the clock keeper and the announcer (me) to move the games along faster, even reducing the time between games, which made it hard for the teams to get on and off the field and get warmed up before the game.

What makes it worse is that out of all the people working to make these games happen, the only ones getting paid are the refs. Everyone else is donating their time, money, sweat, and blood so the kids can have a team. Yet the only people making a dime from all of this work are also the ones who resent being there.

So don't be there. Stay home. Be comfortable. If you need the extra money that badly go out and get a job. But don't mess with a bunch of kids who just want to spend a Saturday evening playing football. They deserve better.

Yeah, I know. I've said this before, but I'll keep saying it as long as I keep running into these pathetic little men who need to boss around little kids to feel like they are somebody.

Posted by Rich
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A Post in Which I Say Something Good About Obama

One thing that I noticed in his acceptance speech: even though it occurred on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic speech, Obama never made his race an issue. While I'm sure he's pursuing a strategy that is walking a fine line between alienating white voters for being too black and alienating black voters for being too white, I still allow hope to triumph over cynicism from time to time, and I really hope that Obama made a decision to run as a man, not as a black man. I'm sure a lot of folks will call me naive for saying this, and they may prove to be right, but for right now, I'm enjoying the hope that a man can run for President without using his race as a crutch. c.f. Sharpton and Jackson.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, August 29, 2008

Palin: Brilliant Strategy

Is there anybody talking about Obama's speech today?

Posted by Rich
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Readiness; A Civics Lesson for Liberals

Sarak Palin is running for Vice President.

Barack Obama is running for President.

There is a difference in the positions. One runs the country from the start; the other opens shopping malls. One has his finger on the nuclear button; the other and breaks ties in the Senate.

So for all of you saying that Palin for VP validates Obama for Pres, I just want to say thank you for finally admitting that Barack lacks the experience for the job. Your honesty is a refreshing change.

Interestingly, a case can be made that Palin actually has more executive experience than Obama; of course, since Obama has no executive experience, that's not saying much. But Palin is the Chief Executive of Alaska, as well as Commander of the State National Guard. She has two years of experience at running things; Obama has four years of experience in stopping things.

One of the funnier things is watching the left immediately jump onto the whole, "McCain only chose her to siphon off the Hillary voters!" bandwagon. That's a sucker play because the more we learn about Gov. Palin, the more admirable the choice becomes. McCain will be able to argue convincingly that he chose her because she can get the job done, and the fact that she is a woman is a bonus. And when Palin referenced Hillary in her acceptance speech, rather than an attempt to grab Hillary voters, an unlikely gambit at best, she surely impressed and attracted the uncommitted moderate female vote, who now have an attractive option.

As for the whole, "heartbeat away from the Presidency argument" it falls flat for a couple of reasons. First, Obama wouldn't be a heartbeat away, he would be the heartbeat, and that means he needs to meet a higher standard of readiness. Second, Palin has some experience already, and will surely have time to learn on the job, before she gets her finger on the button.

Posted by Rich
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Sarah Palin

Gun owner...check
Small town...check

Is it just coincidence that Gov. Palin represents every group Obama dissed in his little "bitter people clinging to guns and God" gaffe, or is McCain really that smart?

And if he is that smart, isn't that another plus for him in the "Why I should be President column?

Posted by Rich
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Obama Math: New Math for Those Who Can’t Count

Last night, Obama promised to invest 150 billion over 10 years into renewable energy resources, an investment that he says will create 5 million good paying jobs.

The quote:

And I'll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy; wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and 5 million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced.

Now the math. 150 billion divided by 10 is 15 billion dollars a year. Divide that by 5 million jobs and you get $3000 per job per year.

Woo hoo! Sign me up!

Now, let's just say that a good job pays $30k per year and to keep things simple, we'll ignore all the other employment costs like insurance, workers comp, and Social Security payments. We're now talking about a return on our investment of 10 dollars in private capital for every dollar invested in just 10 years. Folks, even Microsoft doesn't coin money like that.

And we haven't even considered a little thing like the cost of actually doing the research yet!

It's all pie in the sky folks. The numbers don't work.

He also neglected to say that the 150 billion is coming from a new emissions tax on corporations. In his energy paper, Obama says that he will put into place a cap and trade emissions policy with a 100% auction of emissions credits. What this means is that companies will have to buy emissions credits at a governmental auction in order to continue to do business. So at one stroke, Obama will add a new burden to the cost of doing business. Of course, it goes without saying that manufacturers will pass that cost onto the consumer.

The interesting thing is that in a standard cap and trade deal, companies are assigned credits based on past emissions, and they can swap these credits back and forth for expansion or other uses. If company A can reduce its emissions cheaply, it can turn around and sell credits to company B. This creates an economic incentive for reducing emissions since you can then sell your excess credits to other companies. From Obama's point of view, this is unsatisfactory because the government will only see a small cut of the savings, based on transaction fees and the like. Instead, he wants to take all of the money to fund his grandiose schemes, by auctioning off the credits. The unfortunate effect of this greed is to remove the economic incentive of the swap portion of the plan. Companies will simply purchase the amount of credit they need and pass the cost along to the consumer. Obama has crippled his own program before it ever gets started.

Reading the energy paper is very interesting. In fact, I'll be doing a full post on it shortly. But for now, as you read through it, think about the regulations that will be needed, as well as the regulatory agencies that will be needed to implement all of his plans. Think about the economic costs and burdens he is imposing on the manufacturing capacity of this country. Take careful note of every time the words mandate or requirement are used.

Then ask yourself a simple question: What happened to freedom?

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Obama is the Candidate!

The coronation is complete and Obama is now the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. Now that he has made history and all, I think it would be nice of him to answer a few questions, like, exactly where he stands on issues other than the war he voted against before he was in a position to vote against it.

Isn't it funny that the only unequivocal stand he has taken to date, opposition to the war in Iraq, including the surge that won it, is the wrong one? Had he been President, Saddam would still be in power, still torturing his citizens, slaughtering those who were in his way, chasing after nukes and other WMDs, harboring America's enemies and vowing to destroy Israel. Instead, there is a moderate, liberal democracy in place in Iraq. A timeline has been established for the Iraqi people to finish the job of taking responsibility for their own safety, and for the US troops to leave the country. Violence is down. Terrorist networks are in disarray all over the planet. The most wanted terrorist lists of 5 and 10 years ago are obsolete; the terrorists are either captured, dead, or hding in some cave, afraid to poke their heads out for fear of meeting a Predator.

Here's my problem with Obama; rather than recognize that having begun, we had to follow through, he refused to budge frm his position that we shouldn't be there. He would have pulled out in the middle of the job, and left things worse than when we started. I can understand a principled opposition to war, but at the same time, any adult will realize that once begun, you have to finish the job. Responsible Democrats (Yes, Virginia, they do exist, although extinction may be rapidly approaching) recognized this simple fact early on.

"You broke it; you fix it" was their battle cry. And now, we have. And by "we" I mean the United States of America. Now we can think about leaving.

Obama couldn't make that simple adult assessment. He thought we shouldn't have been there in the first place, so we should have left immediately, regardless of the consequences to Iraq, or stability in the region. Can we afford that kind of childishness in the White House?

I don't think so.

I'd really like to know where Obama stands on other issues, but it's kind of hard to pin him down. He's refused to fill out the Project Vote Smart Political Courage Test which simply asks him to mark which issues he would support if elected. He was a bit more forthcoming earlier, when running for State Senate in Illinois. Then he did fill out the Political Courage Test. I read through it and found the budget and tax section very interesting.
State Budget

Indicate the funding levels you will support for the following general categories. Select one level only.
Maintain Status a) Agriculture
Greatly Increase b) Education (K-12)
Maintain Status c) Education (Higher)
Maintain Status d) Environment
Greatly Increase e) Health care
Maintain Status f) Law enforcement
Maintain Status g) Transportation infrastructure (highways, roads, bridges)
Slightly Increase h) Welfare

State Taxes

Indicate the tax levels you will support. Select one level only.
Slightly Increase a) Alcohol taxes
Maintain Status b) Capital gains taxes
Greatly Increase c) Cigarette taxes
Slightly Increase d) Corporate taxes
Slightly Increase e) Gas taxes
Slightly Decrease f) Income taxes (incomes below $75,000)
Slightly Increase g) Income taxes (incomes above $75,000)
Slightly Decrease h) Property taxes
Maintain Status i) Sales taxes
j) Other
No Answer
No k) Do you support a flat tax structure for state income taxes?

Apparently he thinks you can greatly increase spending on education and health care simply by raising cigarette taxes.

Who knew it was that simple?

Much has been made of Obama's voting record. Over the 4 years he's been in the Senate, he's missed or skipped fully 40% of the key votes as identified by Project Vote Smart.

40%. That's 228 votes where he refused to take a stand or leave a record. Republicans shouldn't feel too froggy though; McCain was even worse, listed as not voting on 299 votes over the same period. I think we the people who pay both of these men their salaries ought to get a refund. That's just ridiculous, and another reason why I'll be wasting my vote on a third party candidate in November.

Posted by Rich
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Why to Vote for Obama

Katie has been going on for weeks about how we should all respect and admire Obama for being the first black man to win the nomination for President. In her latest post for the KNS, she continues to gush about how wonderful it is that a black man can win the nomination.

We get it. Obama is great because he's the first black candidate.

Now, can we discuss his actual policies, or should we all vote for him simply based on the color of his skin?

Posted by Rich
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Monday, August 25, 2008

72 Hours

In just 72 hours we'll find out whether I'm a political prophet or just another crackpot. (If you're taking bets, pick the latter.)

Hillary has promised to release her delegates on Wednesday. I don't buy it. Barack has peaked and he's fallen short. As the glare increases, his thin resume won't even cast a shadow over the voters,and Hillary is out there making sure all of the super delegates know it. SHe's whispering that Barack can't win,and that to prevent another 4 years of Republicans controlling the White House, they'll have to take drastic action.

Barack's counter argument is much weaker. He has to convince the delegates that HIllary is an even worse choice, and that he can overcome this slump and win in November. Unfortunately, his choice of running mate, Joe, "Obama is clean and articulate" Biden isn't going to result in any massive bump.

Put yourself in the DNC's shoes. Do you nominate a candidate you know can't win, or do you play the game and give the nomination to a candidate who can?

Posted by Rich
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The High Price for Page Views

What's the difference between professional and amateur journalism?

Critics of bloggers claim that bloggers and other amateurs don't follow journalistic standards of integrity. They don't fact check. They write stories based on single sources without looking for confirmation. They write with a bias. And they wear pajamas and blog from their mother's basement.

Professional journalists, on the other hand, have been trained in the rules and ethics of journalism. They write with clarity, free from bias, and they always check their facts for accuracy. They don't run a story until they have multiple sources. And they have no personal agenda.

The problem is that all of the above is utter hogwash. The only difference between professional and amateur journalists is that the pros get paid.


Eason Jordan. Jayson Blair. Dan Rather. Jack Kelly. Adnan Hajj.

The journalist Hall of Shame goes on and on, and these are just the cases where the journalists went so far that they got caught. What about things like the Edwards story, where the essential facts were known by the mainstream media, but they sat on the story until they were forced to cover it?

It's becoming abundantly clear that the news business has become more about the business than the news. The pressure to sell a story has become so great that journalistic standards are slipping all over the place. Take our own local paper, the Knoxville News Sentinel.

As regular readers know, I've worked with the Sentinel on a couple of projects and I've gotten to know some of the folks over there fairly well, and they are by and large a great group. Additionally, the KNS is adapting to the internet better than just about any other paper in the country. They are doing everything they can think of to embrace the changes in the news business, and they're doing a lot of things right.


In early August, I wrote a post commenting on Jack Lail's column asking if it was safe to be a liberal in America, based on the shootings at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. I ended the post with the comment that Jack's story was one of the most commented and emailed stories that week. Now we have Katie Allison Granju posting a very inflammatory piece called Teenage Boys are Stupid, where she not only calls teenage boys stupid and idiots, but states flat out that any teenage boys who manage to be polite, respectful and accomplished "are doing so by fighting the natural impulses to be idiots that threaten to overtake them every day." In a second post, Ms. Granju tries to correct matters by reasserting that her headline was "hyperbolic," and that her central point was controlling access to guns.

The problem is that the headline was not the only place where she was "hyperbolic." The following is an edited down version of her comments regarding boys.
Teenage boys are stupid

Teenage boys are idiots. And today's American teenage boys - whom our culture holds in a sort of manchild limbo long past the age they need to be doing some sort of hard work and earning their keep - are even bigger idiots.

Teenage boys are more impulsive and aggressive than any other group. WItness their penchant for crashing cars, diving headfirst into rock quarries, experimenting with drugs, and deciding to "play chicken" by draping themselves across dark country roads in an attempt to prove something to their similarly stupid peers.They are driven by sexual curiosity to the point of insanity, and they hold a misguided sense of immortality.

Many teenage boys are polite, respectful, accomplished individuals, but those of them who are are pulling this off are doing so by fighting the natural impulses to be idiots that threaten to overtake them every day.

There is, perhaps, no other single group in American life less suited to have access to handguns than teenage boys.

Teenage boys are stupid.

As you can see, that is most of her post and it is all hyperbolic. I love the bit about no single group being less suited to having access to handguns. I can think of several off hand. How about violent criminals? Or the insane? How about small children? People with shaky hands? And that whole bit about the only way teenagers can behave is by winning some sort of daily battle with the impulse to be an idiot?

Classic. I keep picturing the Lazarus twins from Star Trek battling forever in some neutral zone for control over a teenage boy's mind.

If an amateur blogger had written a post of that caliber, attacking another group using a similarly "hyperbolic" tone, that post would have been held up as an example of how bloggers are not professional. However, that post and its followup garnered over 100 comments, and linkage from prominent bloggers (Instapundit) and national websites (Wizbang). Page views are dollars in the web world, and Ms. Granju's post, like Jack's before hers, certainly generated page views.

The question is at what cost?

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Congratulations to this Congress!

And I mean that. I don't care that both the House and the Senate are lead by Democrats. They've done almost exactly what I wanted them to do.


Here's a tip for all you budding legislators out there. If you want my vote., promise to do nothing. Don't propose or support any legislation. Oppose it all. Don't engage in debate. Just sit quietly and push the NO button for every vote. Filibuster everything.

According to the WSJ, the current Congress has passed the fewest laws and the most meaningless resolutions of any Congress in 20 years.

Well done Democrats. Your leadership skills have never been put to better use!

Posted by Rich
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