Archive for September, 2007

War of words

September 28, 2007

It’s getting awfully lonely out here for the shrinking handful of us who still think government should be limited to those few things it can do well if it holds to its proper role. We rail against Hillary Clinton’s plan for universal health care and John Edwards’ promise he will end poverty and Barack Obama’s apparent desire to cure all ills from Washington, and George Bush goes to the United Nations and gives a speech that makes all the Demorats seem like rightwing pikers:

Second, the mission of the United Nations requires liberating people from hunger and disease. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration states: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food and clothing and housing and medical care.” Around the world, the United Nations is carrying out noble efforts to live up to these words.

I could quote more from the speech, but it’s all like that, a complete abandonment of the idea this country was founded on — individuals free to pursue their own version of happiness — replaced with government defining and doling out that happiness, the tyranny of kings that people have been bleeding and dying to end for all of humankind. Is there any doubt any longer that “compassionate conservatism” is just effete liberalism by another name?

What Bush and the United Nations define as “rights” are merely the paternalistic justification for the confiscation and redistribution of wealth. You do not have the right to keep what you earn — it must be taken from you by the higher authority and spread around.

There has only been one war in the history of the world — the individual vs. the group. Guess which side is losing.

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Stand by me, but not too close

September 28, 2007

A Democratic city council candidate in Flordia has had a couple of endorsments withdrawn because he is too pro-choice:

ST. PETERSBURG – Two state legislators have pulled their endorsement of City Council candidate Gershom Faulkner after he told a group of local gay and lesbian political activists that people choose to be gay.

Faulkner, a Democrat running for the nonpartisan council in District 7, said he could not support what he called a gay lifestyle because of his religious beliefs, according to those who attended the August meeting of the Pinellas Stonewall Democrats.

The headline on the story says: “Antigay stance loses support for candidate.” You know what the “antigay stance” is — feet together as close as you can get them in the men’s room.

The ticking bomb

September 28, 2007

I think I’ve said before here that national security is such an important issue that it will be the deciding factor for me in the presidential election. It won’t be my sole concern, but I’ll overlook a lot of positions I disagree with if the candidate gets that one right. Hillary Clinton, as much as I can tell so far, is the only Democrat I would trust with America’s interests on the world stage. This, then, is not comforting:

HANOVER, N.H. – Sen. Hillary Clinton scored with a Democratic audience last night by contradicting her husband’s belief that a terrorist could be tortured to foil an imminent plot – but what observers didn’t know is she was contradicting herself, too.

“It cannot be American policy, period,” Clinton (D-N.Y.) told debate moderator Tim Russert, who asked if there should be a presidential exemption to allow the torture of a terror chieftain if authorities knew a bomb was about to go off, but didn’t know where it was.

When Russert revealed ex-President Bill Clinton advocated such a policy on a recent NBC “Meet the Press” appearance, Hillary Clinton won huge applause from the Dartmouth College audience with a deadpan comeback:

“Well, I’ll talk to him later.”

She may have to give herself that talk, too.

Last October, Clinton told the Daily News: “If we’re going to bepreparing for the kind of improbable but possible eventuality, then it has to be done within the rule of law.”

She said then the “ticking time bomb” scenario represents a narrow exception to her opposition to torture as morally wrong, ineffective and dangerous to American soldiers.

It’s not the torture issue that’s important — we can have an honest disagreement over that. I think the “ticking bomb” scenario is a valid exception to the no-torture rule, but I don’t think we would always get the results we want, whatever the advocates for torture say. What matters is that Clinton is so comfortable saying different things to different people, depending on what she thinks they want to hear, that we can’t really be sure what she would do if she had to make a tough call in a dangerous situation. Yes, all candidates do that kind of dissembling, and we can tolerate it on a lot of issues, but not this one.

Find your candidate

September 28, 2007

Answer the questions at the “candidate calculator” site, and it will supposedly tell you which presidential candidate most mirrors your own beliefs. I took it, and it said my candidate is Republican businessman John Cox, (with a 77 percent match), who is such a darkhorse candidate that the Republicans won’t even let him into their debates. Be honest — did you even know he was running? Have you ever heard of him?

Also high on my list were Rudy Giuliani (quite possible) and Mitt Romney (no, don’t think so). The highest Democrat on my list (way down in my middle-of-the-pack matches) was Bill Richardson at 59 percent. I’ll bet you’re shocked.

Smokescreen

September 28, 2007

Fort Wayne smokers, you need to change your tactics. Stop fighting City Council and trying to get exceptions to the smoking ban for bars or restaurants that spent thousands of dollars trying to comply with the earlier version of the ban. You need to: 1. Become a Muslim. 2. Organize all the other smoking Muslims you are able to meet or convert. 3. March on City Hall to demand your rights:

Okay, Muslim foot-baths in Kansas City airport, gender-segregated swimming sessions at French municipal pools, banning pork from Aussie hospital menus, no eating donuts for Belgian cops during Ramadan, no seeing-eye dogs or alcohol in Minneapolis taxi cabs, fine, fine, fine. Must be sensitive and all that.

But this is an amazing victory. In Vancouver, infidels can’t smoke but Muslims can:

Vancouver’s hookah-parlour owners are celebrating after winning an exemption Thursday from a proposed new bylaw that will ban smoking on most sidewalks in commercial districts, in bus shelters and even in taxis passing through Vancouver.

In giving the bylaw unanimous approval-in-principle, Vancouver city council members bowed to arguments that hookah lounges provide an important cultural space for the city’s Muslims and granted them a temporary exemption…

[Emad Yacoub] said hookah lounges are essential for immigrants from hookah-smoking cultures, because it helps them deal with the depression common for newcomers and gives them places like they have at home.

(Hat tip to Mitch.)

Mad dogs

September 28, 2007

I don’t understand this:

RICHMOND, Va. — Michael Vick is now likely one misstep from jail.

The disgraced Atlanta Falcons quarterback tested positive for marijuana earlier this month, a violation of the conditions of his release as he awaits sentencing in federal court on a dogfighting charge that already jeopardizes his freedom and career.

Marijuana users lounge on the couch and mellow out between trips to empty the refirgerator. They don’t organize dogfighting rings. Maybe Vick is self-medicating to get rid of his violent tendencies. Or . . . could it be . . . that he succumbed to . . . Reefer Madness?

My life, THEN the planet, OK?

September 28, 2007

Boy, it’s good to know that if I end up in the emergency room with a heart attack or a head wound from a car wreck, I won’t be contributing the destruction of the planet:

Indianapolis, IN—Community Hospital South’s new emergency department is, first and foremost, there to care for patients experiencing a medical crisis. Though it may not be obvious to those in the midst of an emergency, the ER also is caring for the planet.

The expansion, which opened in August 2007, was designed from the start to be friendly to the environment as well as to the people visiting and working inside. Because of the numerous environmental considerations that were part of its design and construction, the emergency department expansion is in line for Silver certification through the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, coordinated by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Yeah, “first and foremost for patients experiencing a medical crisis” — I believe that.  Really, I do. Just when you think the green movement has gotten as silly as it can be . . .

Setting the record straight

September 28, 2007

Everybody makes mistakes, including journalists. I’ve made my share, but nothing quite like this doozy in Indiana University’s student newspaper:

Like everyone, we here at the Indiana Daily Student make mistakes from time to time. Unfortunately, because we relied on assumptions, the one we made in Tuesday’s paper caused unneeded concern from a number of our readers.

In the page one story Tuesday, “Student catches disease that fewer than 5 contract per year,” we reported that an IU junior contracted diphtheria – a very rare and potentially dangerous respiratory illness. While many sources were reached for the story, including a representative from Bloomington Hospital where the patient was treated, we relied on the assumption that the hospital had confirmed the diagnosis. It did not.

After the reporter talked to the officials at the hospital Monday, no one clearly denied the diagnosis. That combined with information from one source not from the hospital, who said he believed it to be a case of diphtheria, led us to believe it was a confirmed diagnosis.

Give the students credit not only for admitting the mistake but trying to explain why it happened and what they hope to learn from it — that’s one the longest corrections you’re ever likely to see in a newspaper, and you’ll hardly ever see an apology included in one. On most “real” newspapers out here in the adult world, what you would have seeen was something like this, buried on an inside page: “The patient identified in yesterday’s Page 1 story had a different disease than the one described.” Newspapers have a policy of “not repeating the mistake” of the original story when making a correction. The record is thus officially corrected, but those reading the correction have no clue about what they were supposed to take away from the original story and what they are supposed to think having read the correction.

But I worked on a college newspaper, too, and there’s something the correction didn’t mention. Because of the turnover — students graduating, new ones coming in — the entire Indiana Daily Student staff if likely to be different next semester, and the learning curve will have to start all over again.

Hovering

September 27, 2007

Boy, Indianapolis is sure on a roll. First a second Dunkin’ Donuts and now this:

INDIANAPOLIS – When you hear a siren, you know what to look for; a police car, a fire truck, or an ambulance. 24-Hour News 8 has exclusively learned that Indianapolis is about to take charge of something completely different.

While it is not something you’d expect in Indianapolis. In the next week or so, Marion County expects to take delivery of a hovercraft.

It would be used in situations too difficult for traditional rescue equipment, but the hovercraft has raised a few eyebrows.

Wouldn’t that be the coolest thing to take for a spin on the St. Marys. Or through Foster Park, for that matter. The craft is even built in Terre Haute, by the way.

Assimilation

September 27, 2007

Legal immigrants are already required to know about American principles and history than native-born Americans can bother themselves to learn. Now, they will be even further ahead of us:

For the first time in two decades, the U.S. citizenship test has been revamped—and the new version, which will be unveiled this week for use starting Oct. 1, 2008, will mark a profound shift in what it takes to become an American. Gone are many of the old trivia-style questions such as “How many stripes are on the American flag?” They’ve been replaced by queries that focus on concepts rather than facts—for instance, “Why does the flag have 13 stripes?” The new test, 10 years in the making at a price tag of $6.5 million, will also cover subjects such as “checks and balances,” “inalienable rights” and other constitutional ideas.

Driving the change is the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services, which wants to create “patriots” and not just naturalized residents out of the more than 500,000 immigrants who become citizens each year. “What’s at stake is really the survival of our democracy,” says Alfonso Aguilar, head of the Office of Citizenship. “If we don’t strengthen our assimilation efforts, then 20 or 30 years down the road we may have a dysfunctional society.”

If we get the right kind of people — those who want to assimilate because they share American values — then it shouldn’t matter where they come from or (up to a certain point) how many there are. So, fine, make them know more than we do, but let’s stop being so stingy with the quotas.

While, of course, doing something about illegal immigration, which is the real source of our assmilation problems and the threat to the American identity. In a way, we’re making the immigrants who try to do it the right way pay for our lack of willingness to deal with those who do it the wrong way.

Cooling off

September 27, 2007

This seems like a good idea:

New legislation authored by State Senator Jim Arnold (D-LaPorte) would provide a cooling off period for individuals arrested for domestic violence in Indiana. Members of the LaPorte County Domestic Violence Task Force, a local group that helped develop the legislation, joined Arnold at a press conference today to announce details of the bill.

[. . .]

The law would require law enforcement agencies to keep an individual arrested for a crime involving domestic or family violence in custody for at least eight hours from the time of arrest. According to the proposal, courts would be prohibited from releasing an individual charged with a domestic or family violence crime on bail during the eight hour period. Similar laws have been enacted in other states, including 12-hour cooling off periods mandated in Alabama and Nevada.

Arnold said the wait period could also provide time for victims to receive ancillary services, relocate to a shelter, or file a protective order if necessary.

GI bill

September 27, 2007

Most guys who lie about being in the military do it to pick up women. This Hoosier had a different idea:

Christopher Lee Proe came to Pufferbellies nightclub in Barnstable with a taste for expensive champagne and no shortage of stories: He was an Army lieutenant fresh from a tour in Iraq who survived being shot by a .22-caliber gun. He was a Detroit police officer on leave from the National Guard.

After a few weeks of spending cash on pricey drinks, Proe, 23, was on a first -name basis with the staff at Pufferbellies, which prides itself on being friendly to the armed services, waving the cover charge for patrons with military IDs, said Mike Travers, the nightclub’s general manager. So when Proe wanted to rent out a VIP room to celebrate his homecoming with his Army buddies and police friends, Pufferbellies allowed him to pay with an out-of-town check, according to a Barnstable police report. Over five days in August, Proe ordered $300 bottles of Dom Perignon and Cristal and paid each time with a check, racking up a tab that topped $4,000.

The checks all bounced, police said.

Proe never served in the military. Never went to Iraq. And isn’t a Detroit police officer. Proe is an unregistered sex offender from Indiana wanted on charges in two other states.

A $4,000 bar bill over just five days. That is some serious partying.

When I was in the Army and for a few years afterward, I kept running into these guys who would tell stories about going out on patrol, “and I was the only one who came back.” Considering the body count in those stories, I figured there should be a few dozen ex-soldiers my age even left alive.

The biggest lie I told was when a bunch of us from Fort Lee, Va., where we were undergoing advanced training, spent a long weekend bar-hopping in D.C. We kept telling the waitresses we had just gotten our orders for Vietnam so they would give us free drinks. More often than not, it worked. When we got back to the base, guess what was waiting for us Tuesday morning? Yep. Our orders.

The big time

September 27, 2007

When I lived in Wabash, it was big news when the town finally Got a McDonald’s, and when K-Mart showed up, you would have thought Jesus Christ had come back. I guess that’s a Hoosier thing that not even our biggest city is immune to:

Dunkin’ Donuts lovers in Marion County: Circle your calendar.

Executives today said they plan to open the Camby location Monday, a few weeks earlier than originally planned even though construction and electricity issues had made a mid-month launch more feasible.

The restaurant, at 7015 S. Kentucky Ave., is the second in the Indianapolis market. It follows the opening a few weeks ago of the Dunkin’ Donuts on Range Line Road in Carmel, which served long lines of customers.

Wow! Two Dunkin’ Donuts!! Indianapolis has arrived. Can we have one of its MCLs?

Press on

September 27, 2007

President Ahmadinejad sends out invitations to journalists and academics, and 50 respond to have dinner with him. That results in good press, such as this article in Time:

The format of the evening is curious. In his calm and fluent voice — “dear friends,” he calls us — he requests that we not ask questions, but make statements, so that he can react to them in a form of dialogue. The academics are not shy. They make statements not only about the need for dialogue and reconciliation, but castigate the Iranian government for chilling press freedoms and for arresting Iranian-American scholars who were only trying to foster better relations between America and Iran. Throughout, Ahmadinejad is courtly, preternaturally calm, and fiercely articulate.

Ah, courtly, calm and fiercely articulate. In the meantime, President Bush offers an interview to Juan Williams on NPR on race relations and is turned down by NPR:

Williams said yesterday he was “stunned” by NPR’s decision. “It makes no sense to me. President Bush has never given an interview in which he focused on race. . . . I was stunned by the decision to turn their backs on him and to turn their backs on me.”

Ellen Weiss, NPR’s vice president for news, said she “felt strongly” that “the White House shouldn’t be selecting the person.” She said NPR told Bush’s press secretary, Dana Perino, that “we’re grateful for the opportunity to talk to the president but we wanted to determine who did the interview.” When the White House said the offer could not be transferred to one of NPR’s program hosts, Weiss took a pass.

Yes, it certainly is a mystery why the press is so hated.

The other China syndrome

September 27, 2007

Freedom has been on the march in the world the past few years, but every good journey has a few bumps in the road:

Democracy and good governance are on the retreat in a number of countries around the world, a wide-ranging report says on Tuesday.

The report, compiled by Freedom House, a US government-supported campaigning organisation, concludes that human rights and governance have worsened in Russia and Iran, arguing that corruption in Iran has intensified in spite of the campaign promises of President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad.

It also indicates that states across the world are attempting to follow the model of China and Russia by seeking to modernise parts of their economy while keeping a central grip on power.

Among the countries that have achieved economic success while maintaining or intensifying what the report identifies as political repression are Libya, Tunisia and Algeria. It adds that Egypt has been both economically unsuccessful and politically repressive and that democratic developments have been stopped in their tracks by coups in Thailand and Bangladesh.

The best hope for the world is that the China model will fail as a growing middle class puts increasing pressure on the ruling class for the freedom to enjoy its wealth.

The current record will stand

September 27, 2007

Drat. Another vacation plan down the tubes:

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Attention climbers: Please keep your clothes on while climbing Mount Everest.

Nepal’s mountaineering authorities are calling for a ban on nudity and attempts to set obscene records on the world’s highest mountain, officials said Wednesday.

Last year, a Nepali climber claimed the world’s highest display of nudity when he disrobed for several minutes while standing on the 29,035-foot summit with the temperature about 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

Have you noticed what a “Guinness World Records” culture we’ve fallen into? On the home page right now, Guinness is featuring “heaviest weight dangled from a swallowed sword” and “most modeling ballon sculptures made in an hour.” Man, that’s real news. What superhuman, heroic achievements!

UPDATE: Some of the craziest Guinness records, including “longest distance walking over hotplates,” “record for milk squirting from the eye” and “most head spins in a minute.”

Under the influence

September 26, 2007

Forbes magazine has come up with one of the most absurd lists in recently memory. It ranked the “top 10 most influential pundits,” and made some very strange choices:

CHICAGO — Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert is the nation’s most influential pundit, according to a new ranking by Forbes magazine.

To come up with its conclusions, Forbes analyzed market research from the firm E-Poll, examining more than 60 well-known pundits who specialize in opining on politics, news, entertainment, sports, or the law.

[. . .]

Comedian Bill Maher, who has a weekly talk show on HBO, was ranked second, followed by cable talker Bill O’Reilly; liberal radio host and comedian Al Franken; TV journalist Geraldo Rivera; comedian Rosie O’Donnell; film critic Leonard Maltin; legal commentator Greta Van Susteren; economics news commentator Lou Dobbs; and basketball analyst Bill Walton.

Two film critics and three comedians? A basketball analyst? Greta Van Susteren, who is seen by probably a few thousand people? The only way to come up with a list this dumb is to ignore how many people the pundits influence and in what area their influence lies. And that’s just what Forbes did:

 Candidates were scored on “awareness and likeability” among respondents most prized by advertisers — relatively high income college graduates aged between 25 and 54, Forbes said.

You don’t rate pundits on whether they are “likeable” in the right demographic group.  You rate them on how they move public opinion. You might not like Rush Limbaugh, but he certainly affects the national dialogue, and he has a bigger audience — of loyal listeners — than any of the “top” 10. I don’t care much for Anna Quindlen, but her every-other-week, back-of-the-magazine essays for Newsweek have a lot more to do with the national discussion than what Bill Walton might say, although, God knows, basketball is precious.

Our own kind

September 26, 2007

This sounds about right:

CHICAGO, 25 (UPI) — U.S. researchers found just 7 percent of respondents do not have the usual human tendency to favor one’s own group and not form racial prejudices.

The operative phrase is “usual human tendency.” Most people, in all places and all times, have felt the most comfortable with people who seemed the most like them and have been the most suspicious of those who seemed different. Prejudice comes from discrimination, which is not always a bad thing. Making quick judgments based on quickly processed similarites helped us survive as a race and thus became part of human nature.

That doesn’t mean we can’t be better than our nature. But we do have to recognize it.

Twinkie Nation

September 26, 2007

Do you know what’s in your Twinkie?

Dr. Phillips says there are 39 ingredients packed into the dessert, and all but one are processed.

The ingredients cellulose gum, calcium sulfate, and polysorbate 60 are also used in sheetrock, shampoo, laundry detergent, and even rocket fuel. Author Steve Ettlinger spent five years tracking down the source of every ingredient found in a Twinkie.

And the problem with that is? It’s a food, will make you tough, clean you out, give you an unbelievable energy boost. And the preservatives will keep you looking good 100 years after you die. How much closer to perfection can we get?

Dead is dead

September 26, 2007

We knew it was coming, and here it is:

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to consider the constitutionality of lethal injections in a case that could affect the way inmates are executed around the country.

[. . .]

The U.S. Supreme Court has previously made it easier for death row inmates to contest the lethal injections used across the country for executions.

But until Tuesday, the justices had never agreed to consider the fundamental question of whether the mix of drugs used in Kentucky and elsewhere violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

All 37 states that perform lethal injections use the same three-drug cocktail, but at least 10 states suspended its use after opponents alleged it was ineffective and cruel, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Given the current makeup of the Supreme Court, I doubt lethal injections will be outlawed. If they are, however, then we’ll need to find something more humane. Here’s a suggestion from a dozen years ago, nitrogen asphyxiation:

Every condemned individual is aware of impending death in general, as a result of court proceedings, transport to the execution site, and preparation of the execution equipment. At the shortest time scale, however, nitrogen asphyxiation provides little warning of the moment when final unconsciousness arrives. The flow rate, pressure, humidity, and scent of both supplied gases could be made identical. The exchange valve could be designed for silent operation out of the subject’s sight, and it might be operated at the moment of some other distraction, such as opening a screen between the subject and any legal witnesses. This minimal warning before final unconsciousness, combined with the absence of painful physical trauma, make this procedure arguably humane.

That gets to the heart of it. The cruelest part of capital punishment is the awareness of it coming, not the method of execution. This is all a little pointless, anyway. The people who keep bringing this up are against the death penalty in principle. If we finally arrive at letting inmates die in their sleep of old age as the method of execution, they’ll file suit against that, too.

Air Native

September 26, 2007

Those silly, big-footed Indians. Hey, don’t blame me, that’s Nike talking:

BEAVERTON, Ore. – Nike on Tuesday unveiled what it said is the first shoe designed specifically for American Indians, an effort aiming at promoting physical fitness in a population with high obesity rates.

The Beaverton-based company says the Air Native N7 is designed with a larger fit for the distinct foot shape of American Indians, and has a culturally specific look. It will be distributed solely to American Indians; tribal wellness programs and tribal schools nationwide will be able to purchase the shoe at wholesale price and then pass it along to individuals, often at no cost.

[. . .]

Nike designers and researchers looked at the feet of more than 200 people from more than 70 tribes nationwide and found that in general, American Indians have a much wider and taller foot than the average shoe accommodates. The average shoe width of men and women measured was three width sizes larger than the standard Nike shoe.

Who knew? If I am caught wearing an Air Native N7, will I be guilty of something? Will the culture police send me to re-education camp? There is a note of dissent, however:

Jerry Bread, outreach coordinator for the Native American Studies program at University of Oklahoma, said the idea was “fantastic” and addressed a core issue for tribes, though he was skeptical that the feet of people from so many tribes could be so similar.

That’s called foot profiling, you white man who speaks with forked tongue.

Air Native? Cheese and rice.

Conventional wisdom

September 26, 2007

For the “cure is worse than the disease” file:

Indiana government should be rebuilt from the base. It’s not merely broken — it’s shattered. The Indiana Constitution was written when bison literally roamed the state’s prairies. Clauses in the constitution are as rare as those bison; it’s time to shred the document and write one for the 21st Century.

[. . .]

That’s why we need a constitutional convention.

And that’s why not one single sitting elected official should be there.

Keep the rascals out. They got us into this mess, they’ve demonstrated they won’t get us out — and probably couldn’t even if they tried.

How? The way the Founding Fathers did it: Select a person from each county, send those 92 people somewhere they can think, keep lobbyists and legislators and bureaucrats away, and have them draw up a new organizational chart for Indiana.

It cannot possibly make things any worse.

Well, yes it could, a lot worse. Those Founding Fathers were charged with merely tinkering with the Articles of Confederation, and look what those rascals did. We have plenty of raswcals, too; they’re just not as smart. Constitutions, which provide the foundations that hold up our laws, are supposed to stand the test of time. Read Indiana’s and tell me what can’t be fixed with an amendment. If I were one of those 92, would you like to to know what I would put in a constitution? Believe me, you wouldn’t.

Primary foolishness

September 26, 2007

What a waste of time and energy this would be:

A new statewide poll released today found strong support for moving Indiana’s May primary election to January or February.

Some 61 percent of those surveyed in a WISH (Channel 8) poll said the primary should be held earlier in the year to give Hoosiers more of a voice in presidential politics.

Some 61 percent of those surveyed are delusional. And so are all those who got their primaries moved up in all those other states. The pdrimaries are all bunched together so close that the candidates can’t possibly spend much time in any of the states. The net result will be that Iowa and New Hampshire will have even more importance.

Oklahoma tirade

September 26, 2007

Everyone is talking about the tirade by the Oklahoma coach who went off for several minutes on a female sports columnist for the local paper for “downgrading” one of his players. The video is all over the place. It seems awfully contrived and stagy to me, and it certainly kept everybody from talking about, you know, football. The coach’s record ain’t that good, and he may have a touch of Bobby Knight Syndrome.

But you decide. Here’s his rant on YouTube:

And here’s the column in question. (You may get to see it once before you are asked to fill out a free registration form, or you may not.) Overall, it seems like pretty fair criticism of the football player. This is the essential paragraph, which comes almost at the end:

Reid is the most talented quarterback in Payne County, but he hasn’t proven that he’s the toughest. If you listen to the rumblings and the rumors, Cowboy coaches simply grew weary of it.

It’s hard to judge the “accuracy” of what is essentially an opinion column, especially when insiders are quoted but not named. And she builds her case for Reid’s lack of drive and determination around a single anecdote. He was seen being fed chicken by his mother after the game, in public — something that would make most college students, especially big, tough football players, die from embarrassment. Whether the column is a cheap hit job or an honest effort at criticism depends largely on whether that scene as described is accurate. And the columnist does not say if she witnessed it herself or if it was merely told to her.

All in all, an amusing diversion.

Do as I say . . .

September 25, 2007

Oops, Part 1:

Earlier this month, when Mayor Street announced an aggressive new city plan to go after tax scofflaws, he warned: “We will spare no one.”

He could have started by looking in the mirror.

Until last week, Street was $4,798.99 in arrears on his property-tax bills for two North Philadelphia properties. He paid up Thursday, shortly after a Daily News reporter asked him about the debt.

Oops, Part 2:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. Sep 24, 2007 (AP)

The executive director of the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control faces a drunken driving charge after he was arrested during a traffic stop.

Chris Lilly was pulled over Saturday on U.S. 27 outside Nicholasville because his Ford Explorer was missing a headlight, and because he was weaving and driving slowly, police said.