Sunday, September 30, 2007

NFL Picks -- Week 4

For entertainment purposes only. Picks are against the spread, straight up winners are in bold.

Baltimore (-4) over Cleveland (L, 13-27)
Chicago (-3) over Detroit (L, 27-37)
Green Bay (-1.5) over Minnesota (W, 23-16)
Houston (-3) over Atlanta (L, 16-26)
N.Y. Jets (-3.5) over Buffalo (L, 17-14)
St. Louis (+13) over Dallas (L, 7-35)
Miami (-4) over Oakland (L, 17-35)
San Francisco (+1.5) over Seattle (L, 3-23)
Carolina (-3) over Tampa Bay (L, 7-20)
Arizona (+6) over Pittsburgh (W, 21-14)
Kansas City (+11.5) over San Diego (W, 30-16)
Indianapolis (-10) over Denver (W, 38-20)
N.Y. Giants (+3) over Philadelphia (W, 16-3)
New England (-7.5) over Cincinnati (W, 34-13)

Against the Spread
LAST WEEK   5- 7- 4   .438
SEASON 21-21- 6 .500
THIS WEEK 6- 8- 0 .429
SEASON 27-29- 6 .484
Straight Up
LAST WEEK  12- 4      .750
SEASON 34-14 .708
THIS WEEK 5- 9 .357
SEASON 39-23 .629


Friday, September 28, 2007

How many great places?

I was reading the Clinton Item last night (don't laugh), and came across this in their roundup of this week's legislative activity:
1,000 BEST PLACES IN MASSACHUSETTS (H 3417) -- The Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development is considering legislation creating a special commission to investigate and designate 1,000 great places in Massachusetts.
Now, I'm not sure I could name 1,000 places in Massachusetts, never mind 1,000 great places. (My brother suggested that we'd have a hard time coming up with Seven Wonders of Massachusetts, never mind 1,000.) I can't imagine how marginal the bottom, say 200, would be.

But you figure that any list would automatically have 351 "great" places, since every city and town in the state would have to have at least one, so I thought I'd give it a shot and try to come up with possible great places in the North County.

Leominster -- National Plastics Museum; Birthplace of Johnny Appleseed
Lancaster -- Bulfinch Church; Bolton Fair
Clinton -- Clinton Dam
Fitchburg -- Rollstone Boulder
Sterling -- Davis Farmland/Maze; "Mary had a Little Lamb" site
Gardner -- World's largest chair
Princeton -- Mt. Wachusett, Redemption Rock
Harvard -- Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge
Ashburnham -- Mt. Watatic

That's 13 down, 987 to go. Feel free to add suggestion in the comments.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Rudy Giuliani doesn't know what the heck he's talking about." and other thoughts on tonight's Dem debate -- part 2

On with the second half of tonight's debate. Part 1 is here.

  • Social Security question for you, Joe Biden. Would you raise the cap on SS taxes so that people who make over $97,500 pay tax on all of their earnings? Yes.

  • Hillary Clinton? Let me talk about other stuff. Why would I ever give a yes or no answer to a yes or no question? Hillary refuses to talk about her options until there is fiscal responsibility. Why is she afraid to talk about specific policy points? Is it because Democrats won't like them or because she doesn't have any? She ran and hid on Iran, and she's hiding now on Social Security.

  • Richardson would not raise the cap. Russert is pressing him on his idea that we can "grow our way out of this" (Russert's words). Both Biden and Dodd are grinning, they appreciate Russert carrying the ball on this one.

  • Edwards: "Specifically, let me be very specific..."

  • Dodd mumbling fast again. If it looks like a senator, walks like a senator, and quacks like a senator, it must be a senator.

  • Hillary basically says, trust us we're Democrats. I mean, that works for me, but that's not going to fly with most people. She's not going to win without outlining some policies.

  • Oh good grief, where are these questions coming from? First a question of whether or not to pass a federal law banning smoking in public places, now a question about whether we should allow states to lower the drinking age. Clearly, this debate has gone on too long. No one is going to go for that. Now everyone is going on and on about the evils of alcohol. What a waste of time.

  • Gravel: If they're old enough to die for our country, they're old enough to drink.
Third break. On to the lightning round. And there is actually a "lightning round" graphic and clock on the screen. Nice.
  • Hillary, is it healthy to have a Bush-Clinton political dynasty? I'll answer this one: No.

  • Kucinich makes a joke about his height. Ho ho. What a clown.

  • Dodd, would you ban Chinese toys, at the risk of leaving your children without toys for Christmas? Yes. (Wow, I didn't expect that).

  • Bill Richardson, would you be the honorary chairman of the boy scouts, even though they hate gays? No. I don't like that answer. I'd like to see the president use that position to help change the Boy Scouts.

  • Somehow, Richardson has changed subjects onto the Iraq war and he ended up going way over his 30 seconds. I've said before, there is no way he can answer a question in less than 30 seconds. He cannot do it.

  • Mike Gravel wants to build five million windmills over the next five years. Bet Ted Kennedy won't be happy about that.

  • Clinton wouldn't rule out nuclear power, "but it's not one of the options that I favor." Good night, take a position. Please, give me a reason to vote for you. Why can't you just answer a question?

  • Russert's hypothetical: "We get lucky and get the number three guy in al Qaeda..." What is this, the NBA draft lottery? Can the guy shoot the three?

  • I hate these stupid hypotheticals. Russert tries to "gotcha" Hillary by suggesting that the hypothetical about torturing the al Qaeda swingman was from Bill Clinton. Hillary reminds Russert that Bill isn't standing here tonight. Her best moment of the night.

  • Gosh, we still have 10 minutes to go. Richardson has gone over his 30 seconds again. One thing I liked about the Fox debates was the little bell that went off in the hall when a candidate's time was up. We could have used one tonight.

  • Russert's continued use of BIll Clinton's positions as a battering ram to take on Hillary is getting old.

  • Oh boy, the gotcha of all gotchas: Hey you godless Democrats, what is your favorite bible verse?

  • Obama: The Sermon on the Mount. (That's Matthew 5-7, if you're scoring at home. Probably doesn't count as a verse). Because it expresses a sense of empathy. Man, did he struggle on that one. He's talking about gas bills and stuff.

  • Clinton: The Golden Rule.

  • Gravel: The most important thing in life is love. (Not a verse)

  • Kucinich: the prayer of St. Francis (not a verse).
  • Edwards: What you do unto the least of those, you do unto me. Now that's a Bible verse.

  • Richardson: Sermon on the Mount. He's totally cribbing off Obama.

  • Dodd: The good Samaritan would be an example of what we all should be like.

  • Biden: Christ's warning to the pharisees. I guess I'm going to have to look that one up.

  • What the heck? I don't expect these guys to be religious scholars and I certainly won't be voting for or against any of them on the basis of religion, but since they all claim to be Christians, I'd at least expect a little knowledge of the Bible.
I'm not going even going to acknowledge the stupidity of the Red Sox/Yankees question. That's it. Winners and losers tomorrow.


"Rudy Giuliani doesn't know what the heck he's talking about." and other thoughts on tonight's Dem debate -- part 1

You're looking live at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. for what might be described as the first real Democratic debate of the 2008 season. We'll see if Labor Day is really when the campaigns ratchet up to full speed, or if it's just more of the same. Now, to Tim Russert...

...who apparently needs to say nice things about Dartmouth before we start. I'd normally say that he's taking time away from the debate, but it's two hours long and...hey, now he jumps right into it.
  • Barack, how do you end the war on January 20, 2009 since there will apparently still be 100,000 troops in Iraq? And he's already punting, talking about how he wants to end the war before it gets to that point. He doesn't have an answer. Pull in the joint chiefs, etc. etc. And he won't even promise that they will be gone by 2013... Wow, did he blow that one.

  • Hillary won't promise to get them out, Edwards won't promise to get them out. Please, please, please ask this question of Bill Richardson next. Edwards is going a little farther than Obama and Clinton, hitting Clinton on her openness to continue combat in Iraq. But he will go back in if there is genocide.

  • Richardson says the senators want to change the mission, he wants to end the war. But he muffed on the specifics. He'd leave some light equipment behind? How long will it be before someone suggests that by leaving equipment behind, we'd be allowing (inset group here) to attack us and our allies with our own equipment? Tonight, next week?

  • Biden with a real good answer. Best answer I've heard him give. If his political solution doesn't work, they get out. If it does, he'd leave a residual force like we did in Bosnia. I'm not sure I've heard him describe his position in quite that way before.

  • Dennis Kucinich wants Abe Lincoln to be the next president of Iraq, or something.

  • Wow. Gravel hammering Clinton for voting for the Lieberman amendment which some suggest may allow us to go to war with Iran. Clinton really looks uncomfortable. Her first response was a forced laugh that sounded almost sinister. She doesn't look like she was ready for it, and is stammering around a bit about the revolutionary guard and terrorists and such. That might be as defensive as I've seen her in any of the previous debates.

  • And now Russert is piggybacking Gravel's idea that the Democrats should force Republicans to filibuster to kill their bills by calling for votes daily on the issue. Good for Gravel for being able to set the debate, if only for a moment.

  • Hillary, would Israel be justified in bombing Iran if they found out Iran had a nuclear device. She refuses to answer, on the grounds that it is a hypothetical. She's on the defensive again. Russert lets her off the hook by letting her talk about practicing diplomacy with the Iranians.

  • Obama rambling in response to the same question, saying that pension funds can divest from Iran to pressure them or something. So far, neither of the frontrunners sound comfortable or confident on Iran.

  • Edwards also giving it to Clinton on the Lieberman resolution. Says she should have known better than to give Bush the first step toward war with Iran.

  • Richardson says he will guarantee that Iran won't be a nuclear power if he's president, because his brand of diplomacy works. His resume suggests that is true.

  • On another note, it looks like he's gaining weight again. He was looking particularly svelte earlier in the debate process.

  • Hey, it's debate afterthought Alison King of NECN, who is going to suck all of the momentum out of the debate by asking some silly question from the Internet. Sounds like she's deepened her voice for the occasion. She asks a tortured question about immigration and posits it to Richardson, who jokes that he must be getting it because he's Hispanic.

  • Biden: "Rudy Giuliani doesn't know what the heck he's talking about. He is the most uninformed person on American foreign policy now running for president." Biden is clearly jacked up tonight. He is ready to be on fire if he can get a question or two.

  • Dodd starts his answer on immigration like a Senator always does when he doesn't have an answer. He mumbled something so quickly that it was unintelligible until he got his footing.

  • Russert asks if anyone would "shut down these sanctuary cities." What a miserably stupid question. Are we going to go in and board up New Haven, Conn. and kick 150,000 people out of their homes? Perhaps wipe them off the earth with a volcano? Who's talking about shutting down cities?
First break. Biden looks good, Clinton has been shaky. I'm going to get a Diet Coke.
  • Dodd, Why should Bush want Hillary to be president? Oh, he's not going to answer that. Why waste the 60 seconds.

  • russertraisin
  • Tim Russert looks like the fat California raisin.

  • I've got to say, I'm not fired up about the health care debate. The discussion is essentially about whether or not the so-called "Hillarycare" proposal of 1993 was a bad thing or a really bad thing.

  • Edwards is proposing to end the congressional health care plan if they don't vote for universal health care. He's not going to do that. What a transparent pander.

  • Russert wants to know why Obama is running for president when he hasn't passed any major legislation and told voters that he wasn't running for higher office. Obama says (among other things) that people want politic ans who tell the truth. The irony is lost on him.

  • Apparently we're in a stretch where Russert points out all of the warts on a candidate and asks why he or she should be president.

  • Mike Gravel, you can't balance your own checkbook, how can you run the country? He ran up credit card bills standing up for the American people. I wonder if that will fly with Michelle next time I use the credit card.

  • Dennis Kucinich, you bankrupted Cleveland, how will you keep from bankrupting the country? I did it on purpose to save the electric company.

  • Richardson, your state sucks and you make a gaffe a week, why should you be president? Hey, nobody's perfect.

  • Back to the deeply resonant Alison King for a question about teaching second graders about gays. Would you be comfortable having a story about a gay couple getting married read to your second graders? (Prediction: all will answer yes. Because it's a stupid question.)

  • Edwards: yes. I expect my children will be more enlightened than I am. Oooh, but second grade might be early. But let me talk about gay issues generally.

  • Obama: My kids already know about same-sex couples.

  • Clinton is not going to answer the question. "That's a matter of parental discretion." OK, my turn to get on the soapbox here. Gay marriage is the law of the commonwealth of Massachusetts (which is where the issue that spawned the question was raised). Teaching second graders about something that is legal in Massachusetts is absolutely appropriate. The question was fundamentally flawed, because that is not the case anywhere else at the moment.
That's the end of part 1. Biden is still winning (although he was essentially shut out of the second segment). Clinton still has it rough. Back with more in a bit.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

NFL Picks -- Week 3

For entertainment purposes only. Picks are against the spread, straight up winners are in bold.

Houston (+6) over Indianapolis (T, 24-30)
Buffalo (+16.5) over New England (L, 7-38)
N.Y. Jets (-3) over Miami (T, 31-28)
Philadelphia (-5.5) over Detroit (W, 56-21)
San Francisco (+9.5) over Pittsburgh (L, 16-37)
Tampa Bay (-3.5) over St. Louis (W, 24-3)
San Diego (-5) over Green Bay (L, 24-31)
Arizona (+7.5) over Baltimore (W, 23-26)
Kansas City (-3) over Minnesota (T, 13-10)
Oakland (-3) over Cleveland (L, 26-24)
Seattle (-3) over Cincinnati (T, 21-24)
Denver (-3.5) over Jacksonville (L, 14-23)
Carolina (-3.5) over Atlanta (W, 27-20)
Washington (-3.5) over N.Y. Giants (L, 17-24)
Dallas (+3) over Chicago (W, 34-10)
New Orleans (-4) over Tennessee (L, 14-31)

Against the Spread
LAST WEEK   5-10- 1   .344
SEASON 16-14- 2 .531
THIS WEEK 5- 7- 4 .438
SEASON 21-21- 6 .500
Straight Up
LAST WEEK   9- 7      .563
SEASON 22-10 .688
THIS WEEK 12- 4 .750
SEASON 34-14 .708


Friday, September 21, 2007

Wining and Whining

At least one parent thinks so. Apparently a local non-profit is raising money for the Leominster schools by hosting a wine tasting, and they are letting parents know by sending fliers home with students. Cue the outrage:

"The schools are basically saying, 'Hey, there's a wine tasting, give this to mommy and daddy so we can get drunk with them,'" Tarbell said Thursday afternoon.

Tarbell said the flier sends kids the message that drinking is acceptable.

"It's not appropriate, it's telling kids it's OK," she said. "With all the information telling you about drugs, alcohol, saying 'watch out for your prescription drugs,' this is the wrong message. What if they're not getting good guidance at home? Shouldn't they at least be getting good guidance at school, always?"

I was going to chime in, but Jody at The Big Dump Truck blog has done a better job than I could:
You know, Ms. Tarbell, if you interpret a wine tasting as an invitation to get drunk, that would be YOUR PROBLEM and maybe you should look into getting some professional help. Wine Tasting does not equal kegger. Wine Tasting is not a tailgate party. Wine tasting is not taking a bottle of Boone's Farm behind the neighbor's barn when you were 12....

Your poor kids are going to have a really warped sense of alcohol's place in our lives, and I would fear that they are going to see it as the apple tree in the garden of Eden. "Oooh, it's forbidden and it makes mom crazy! It must be AWESOME!"

And if you don't like my response, too bad. Maybe you shouldn't have taken your misbegotten crusade to the newspaper. I got the flier, and there is NOTHING ABOUT IT that implies a)it's for kids and b) that it's anything but a very classy, exclusive opportunity for adults to gather and try small samples of wine and food. Not one thing about the flier would have been appealing to an 11 year old. My 9 year old didn't even look at it. YOU, my dear, are the one making your children think this is a BFD.
Not to mention, why in the world would the Sentinel even think there was a story here?


Tossing Larry Craig

This might be a top ten Freudian slip, from Republican Senator Arlen Specter in response to a question about toe-tapping Larry Craig:
Even Craig's few defenders were having trouble finding words. "You don't toss off, er, over, a friend of that duration," reasoned Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.)...
Larry Craig must be disappointed.


Friday, September 14, 2007

A cautionary tale for Leominster's baseball plans

Last spring, when details of a potential minor league baseball stadium in Leominster were unveiled, I wrote the following in opposition of the plan:
The city needs to be 100% sure that a team will be successful before it helps to build a ballpark. Unlike an indoor arena like the Tsongas Arena in Lowell or the Verizon Center in Manchester which can be used to host hockey, basketball, tennis, boxing, curling, and other concerts and civic events year 'round, a ballpark is what it is. Other than the occasional concert while the home team is on the road, or perhaps hosting a baseball event like an MIAA state championship, when a ballpark is empty there isn't much use for it. The worst thing that could happen would be to build a ballpark and then have it sit empty ten years down the road because an independent team or league has folded.
Now the city of Lynn, which hosted one of the more successful independent minor league teams in the region, is confronting the same dilemma Leominster could face if they build a stadium:

After five seasons, the independent baseball team will be folding once the series is over, unable to attract a big enough fan base to make team owner Nick Lopardo's multimillion-dollar investment pay off, a top league official said.

"He simply didn't draw enough people," Miles Wolff, the league's commissioner, said in a telephone interview from Canada. "He gave it everything he had for five years, but it just didn't work out."

According the the story the team, which is playing for the Can-Am League Championship this weekend, was third in the Can-Am League in attendance. If a potential league champion with one of the highest attendance figures in the league is folding after five seasons because it is losing money, why would the city of Leominster risk building a $16 million stadium complex for a similar experience?


Putting the Patriots in perspective

From presidential candidate, Bill Richardson:

"The President has been allowed to spy on Americans without a warrant, and our U.S. Senate is letting it continue. You know something is wrong when the New England Patriots face stiffer penalties for spying on innocent Americans than Dick Cheney and George Bush."


Thursday, September 13, 2007

NFL Picks -- Week 2

For entertainment purposes only. Picks are against the spread, straight up winners are in bold.

Carolina (-6.5) over Houston (L, 21-35)
Jacksonville (-10) over Atlanta (L, 13-7)
Tennessee (+7) over Indianapolis (W, 22-20)
St. Louis (-3) over San Francisco (L, 16-17)
N.Y. Giants (Pick) over Green Bay (L, 13-35)
Pittsburgh (-9.5) over Buffalo (W, 26-3)
Cincinnati (-6.5) over Cleveland (L, 45-51)
New Orleans (-3.5) over Tampa Bay (L, 14-31)
Detroit (-3) over Minnesota (T, 20-17)
Dallas (-3.5) over Miami (W, 37-20)
Seattle (-3) over Arizona (L, 20-23)
Baltimore (-10) over N.Y. Jets (L, 20-13)
Chicago (-12) over Kansas City (L, 20-10)
Denver (-10) over Oakland (L, 23-20)
New England (-3.5) over San Diego (W, 38-14)
Washington (+6.5) over Philadelphia (W, 20-12)

Against the Spread
LAST WEEK  11- 4- 1   .719
SEASON 11- 4- 1 .719
THIS WEEK 5-10- 1 .344
SEASON 16-14- 2 .531
Straight Up
LAST WEEK  13- 3      .813
SEASON 13- 3 .813
THIS WEEK 9- 7 .563
SEASON 22-10 .688

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nixonian Patriots

belichickWell, it looks like the Patriots are in a bit of trouble. They were caught videotaping the Jets' defensive signals during Sunday's game, and there will be some sort of "sanctions" coming down from the NFL shortly.

In some ways, it smacks of Nixonian paranoia. Nixon's reelection staff was so afraid of losing the 1972 election that they broke into the Democratic National Commitee's offices at the Watergate even though there was no way they were going to lose the 1972 election to George McGovern or any other Democrat.

Similarly, the Patriots are so good--especially this season--that they are going to win almost every week without having to resort to chicanery. Yet, they are so afraid of losing even the tiniest edge, that they break the laws of their sport even though they don't have to.

It's a little crime that opens a window into the thought process of the organization.

In the context of one specific game, the stealing of signals via videotape is not that big a deal. The way the NFL works, the offense sends in it's personnel package, the the defense sees who has come onto the field and makes there calls based on down, distance, and offensive personnel. There is almost no way that a team could have someone videotape a signal, call it in to an offensive coach, and have it relayed to Tom Brady in time for him to make an adjustment to the play.

On the other hand, it is a very big deal because the practice is explicitly prohibited by the league. In fact, not only have the Patriots been accused of doing this a number of times, but the entire league was strongly warned before the start of the season that these sort of practices would not be tolerated.

Yet, the Patriots did it anyway, either because they were too paranoid to let the game play out or because they are so arrogant that they think thought they could get away with it.

Now they will be punished, possible severely. And they will deserve whatever they get.

What will that be? I'll bet the Patriots will lose one or two draft picks, and be fined six figures. I also wouldn't be surprised if the sanctions include restrictions on who the Patriots can have on the sideline and how many sideline credentials the team can pass out. I wouldn't be stunned if Bill Belichick were suspended for a game or so.


Saturday, September 8, 2007

NFL Picks -- Week 1

For entertainment purposes only. Picks are against the spread, straight up winners are in bold.

Indianapolis (-6.5) over New Orleans (W, 41-10)
Denver (-3) over Buffalo (L, 15-14)
Houston (-3) over Kansas City (W, 20-3)
Tennessee (+7) over Jacksonville (W, 13-10)
Minnesota (-3) over Atlanta (W, 24-3)
N.Y. Jets (+6) over New England (L, 14-38)
Philadelphia (-3) over Green Bay (L, 13-16)
Pittsburgh (-4.5) over Cleveland (W, 34-7)
St. Louis (-1) over Carolina (L, 13-27)
Washington (-3) over Miami (T, 16-13)
Detroit (+2.5) over Oakland (W, 36-21)
San Diego (-6) over Chicago (W, 14-3)
Seattle (-5.5) over Tampa Bay (W, 20-6)
Dallas (-6) over N.Y. Giants (W, 45-35)
Cincinnati (-2.5) over Baltimore (W, 27-20)
San Francisco (-3) over Arizona (W, 20-17)

Against the Spread
THIS WEEK  11- 4- 1   .719
SEASON 11- 4- 1 .719

Straight Up
THIS WEEK  13- 3      .813
SEASON 13- 3 .813


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tonight's GOP Debate -- Winners and Losers

There were a couple of parts of the debate worth watching, especially the mini-debate between Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee. For that reason alone, those two candidates definitely came out of tonight's debate as victors. Mitt Romney was the clear loser.

I think people who write off Ron Paul as a loon--especially in New Hampshire--will be in for a surprise come primary day. I've said it before: if there is one place in the country where Ron Paul could resonate with voters on a broad scale it is New Hampshire. Republicans in New Hampshire are uncomfortable with the government-first philosophy of the modern neo-conservative Republican party, and Ron Paul will be the beneficiary.

Mike Huckabee was the other big winner. He speaks with a sincerity lacking in most of the other candidates, and his spirited defense of our involvement in Iraq while facing off with Paul showed some real passion. I would not be completely stunned if he were to be the surprise of the spring, and come out of nowhere to claim the nomination. I think he's that good.

Mitt Romney, on the other hand, saw for the first time the perils that go along with being the early frontrunner. He was hammered early and often by the panelists, and he did not respond well. He contradicted himself at times, and hedged on some of his answers to the point where both his opponents and his questioners were calling him out. He was racing through his answers and just appeared completely uncomfortable. Romney has the inside track to the nomination, but if he keeps performing like he did tonight, he's in huge trouble.

Dishonorable mention goes to Tom Tancredo, who was cackling and snickering nearly every time Ron Paul was asked a question, or Mitt Romney was dinged. What a clown.

"Problems like this" and other thoughts on tonight's GOP debate -- Round 2

You're looking live at the University of New Hampshire in Durham where the Republican candidates for president are competing in the first official debate of the Republican campaign. That's right, all of the other debates were just the preseason.

Part 1 is over, now we're back from the commercial...
  • McCain, why won't Giuliani be a good president? Michelle suggests that McCain looks dead. He didn't answer the question, by the way.

  • Rudy Giuliani just said that he hopes to visit Iraq by the end of the year without a crush of publicity. What, does he want to go over there on a vacation? He can't really think we're so stupid to think that he doesn't want publicity if he visits Iraq. There is no ohter reason for a presidential candidate to go.

  • Romney, why is Hillary Clinton tougher on Iraq than you are? Well, the surge is working, we're really patriotic, and someday we need to move the troops to a support role. Have I avoided the question well enough, Wendell?

  • McCain picked up on it too. Chastizes Romney for hedging by saying the surge is "apparently working." I don't agree with McCain, but at least he believes in something. He sounds much more certain about his position than Romney does.

  • Ron Paul is just as certain about his position that we shouldn't be there at all. Chris Wallace tries to suggest that Paul is taking his marching orders (about withdrawing fron the region) from al Qaeda. Paul strongly and forcefully defends his position.

  • And an actual debate has broken out. For the first time two candidates (in this case Huckabee and Paul) are actually conversing about an issue in a back and forth, not just spewing soundbites. Huckabee wants to stay so we can fix what we broke, Paul wants us to get out because we shouldn't compoud our mistakes by being afraid to admit them. It's about time we had a discussion, instead of a recitation of answers and talking points.

  • Is there any way to take the starch out of a good debate than to turn the floor over to Duncan Hunter? Talk about a let down. Maybe he could build a fence around Iraq.

  • Here's the thing about our "success" in Anbar province, and the "success" of the surge: Extra troops concentrated in an area will be successful in tamping down violence just because they are there. But once they leave to go to another area, the violence re-erupts. The only way a "surge" could work is with so many troops that we controlled the entire country. We don't have that many soldiers.

  • Mitt is getting hammered again, this time by a father of a soldier in Iraq, about Romney's suggestion that his sons' "service" in his campaign was as important as that of the soldiers in Iraq. He avoids the answer. He again hedges on whether or not the surge is a success, and Brit Hume calls him on it. He's starting to talk fast. He's getting hammered and not responding well.

  • And now they ask Mitt if he'd wiretap mosques without a warrant. A no win question. If he says yes, he's trampling on liberties (which won't play well in N.H.). If he says no, he appears soft on terror to the base. He says no, and is talking very fast. He says he would wiretap a church if he had to, and that the most important civil liberty is to stay alive (Patrick Henry is rolling over in his grave). Romney is absolutely immolating.

  • Torture? Tancredo, yes. McCain, no.

  • RUDY GIULIANI SUGGESTS THAT GUANTANAMO INMATES BE RELEASED IN BOSTON....Oh, was that a hypotheical, he didn't really suggest that? OK. Never mind.

  • Duncan Hunter suggests that no Democrat can say that the prison in his or her district is as safe as Guantanamo. I say that no Republican lawmaker can say the prison in which he or she is incarcerated is as safe as Guantanamo.

  • Sam Brownback thinks he and his vice president should have "complementarity." That's either a $10 word or a Bush-ism.

  • I'm getting bored. Can we get back to Paul and Huckabee debating an issue?

  • McCain, why do refuse to take the "no new tax" pledge? Because I don't need to take a crazy pledge for you to believe me. Good answer.

  • I wonder how the Red Sox did? They were down 3-2 in the fifth last I checked. I'm planning on watching the rest of the game on tape once this thing ends. I couldn't care less about which of these guys has cut the most taxes.

  • Romney getting hammered on raising fees on the blind! The AP says his nickname was FeeFee. Never heard that before, but that's fantastic. Sounds a little bit French. He's still talking really fast.

  • Tancredo is laughing again, at the idea that Ron Paul wants to cut just about everything.

  • This goofball asking about Giuliani shouldn't beat around the bush. If you want to know why he has been married more than once and why he's bunked with gay friends between marriages, just ask. Don't stammer some crap about family values.
That's it. They're going to come back with some hypothetical question pulled from the new season of "24" or something. I have no interest in hypotheticals.

Winners and losers to come.

"Problems like this" and other thoughts on tonight's GOP debate -- Round 1

You're looking live at the University of New Hampshire in Durham where the Republican candidates for president are competing in the first official debate of the Republican campaign. That's right, all of the other debates were just the preseason.

Brit Hume is buttering up the good people of New Hampshire by stroking the hockey team. And the chairman of the NH GOP is name Fergus Cullen. Fergus Cullen. Could there be a more obvious name for a New England Republican? Was Snooty McStuffedshirt already taken? (Oh wait, someone with an Irish name could never rise to the top of the Republican party. Never mind.)
  • Who is smarter, you guys or Fred Thompson? Obviously not Mike Huckabee, if he actually did turn down Leno (and I'm sure he didn't, just pandering).

  • Is that Tom Tancredo cackling? I hope they leave his mic on to cackle like that all night.

  • John McCain calls Thompson old. And Tancredo cackles again. He tells a Mo Udall joke, and then has to explain why it's funny, since the crowd didn't laugh.

  • Mitt appears to be wearing a peach-colored tie. A bold statement, indeed. Probably his boldest statement of the night.

  • Wallace pounding away at Romney. Hey wait, did Romney just say that we don't expect our people to go to their contractors and ask them to check ID cards? Isn't that exactly what we are asking companies to do? If you are strongly against immigration, why wouldn't you ask the people you hire if they employ undocumented workers?

  • And now it's Giuliani's turn. Now that is a pretty good answer. He wasn't going to leave crimes unreported because the victims were undocumented, and he wasn't going to let 50,000 children go without services for the same reason. That's probably the most realistic answer I've heard from these guys on this subject yet. Of course, that means it won't be popular with most Republicans.

  • John McCain laughing at his own jokes. Another mention of Romney's lawn. Romney tries to play it off, but he sounds peeved.

  • Huckabee, are people who oppose immigration reform racist? Some of them are, yes. UPS and FedEx track packages by placing bar codes on them and scanning them at every stop along their way. Is he suggesting we should all have a bar code that can be scanned as we go from place to place? Kind of scary.

  • Question to Duncan Hunter about the border fence. Bet you dollars to donuts that he mentions that he built the first fence...Yes! Four words into his answer, he built the fence. With his own two hands!

  • Carl Cameron interviewing a cop from Haverhill. He's talking longer than any of the candidates, something about immigrants. Giuliani wants to use heat-seeking missiles or water cannons or some kind of newfangled technology to keep them out.

  • Right, Romney says we should target companies that sign up illegal immigrants. But 15 minutes ago, he suggested that people like him shouldn't be expected to not hire illegal immigrants. I don't think he has any idea what comes out of his mouth from one answer to the other.

  • Oh good, a Larry Craig question. Senator Brownback, what's the deal with him? Well first, Larry should stay resigned. Second, we should be the party of family values. Not sure what that has to do with the question.

  • Duncan Hunter, Should Larry go immediately? When Republicans have "problems like this" they leave, when Dems do, they get leadership positions. Hmmmm, he must be calling being gay a problem, because he certainly can't be suggesting that Republicans who get arrested just leave.

  • Romney twisting himself into a pretzel trying to explain his abortion position. He's just making it up now.

  • If there was anyone who could get me to oppose abortion, it would be Mike Huckabee. He can't, however.

  • Was there really a 59% higher chance of being a victim of a crime in Boston than New York while Rudy was mayor? Sounds fishy to me.

  • Ron Paul, do you really think the passengers aboard the planes on 9/11 should have carried guns? Listen, it doesn't matter who is in charge of airline security, I can't think of a worse place to allow guns than in an airplane. One shot through the fuselage and the whole thing would go down. What a stupid idea.

  • Hey Ms Republican, should gay marriage be abolished via a Constitutional Amendment? No. This is the live free or die state. We should be able to marry who you want to. What do you think about that, Sam Brownback? I think that if we let gays marry, we'll end up with more children born out of wedlock. That might be the stupidest answer I've ever heard. Michelle just asked our dog if Brownback is crazy.
End of the first half. More to come.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Weekend of Firsts

Jackson had a handful of "firsts" this weekend. On Sunday, we went to the orchard to pick blueberries and apples for the first time. Later in the evening, he drove the mower around the back yard for the fist time (with some assistance from Daddy). At a cookout on Labor Day, he played baseball for the first time (again, with some assistance).

Unfortunately, all of the firsts weren't as pleasant. He went for his first bike ride in the bike trailer on Saturday afternoon and we cinched his helmet on so tight that we nearly squeezed his brain out of his head. At the cookout yesterday, Jackson also got his first bee sting. He recovered pretty quickly--he was back outside playing in about 10 minutes or so as if nothing happened--but every so often he'd point to his arm and say "boo boo" in this soft voice that would just break your heart.

Anyway, here are a few pictures of the happier firsts:

blueberry 1
Inspecting the crop.

blueberry 2
Jackson's stash.

Mowing. (Note to DSS, the blades were off)

batter 1
A healthy cut. At least one of us is excited.

batter 2
Post-game pose.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

No Hitter!

Orioles Red Sox Baseball

After the bad news from last night, this was exactly what we needed. Thank you, Clay!


In God we trust, in e-mails we don't

The headline of this letter to the editor in today's Telegram & Gazette reads: Dollar coin omits 'In God We Trust'. A more accurate headline--and one the headline writers should have the guts to use--would be Area lady believes every lie that comes into her inbox:
This letter is concerning the new dollar coin. It's my sincere hope that no American citizen will purchase the new dollar coin.

To my dismay, I received an e-mail message stating that these coins do not have the words "In God We Trust" on them.

Previous T&G Letters to the Editor:
"suspiciously left-wing"
"T&G Readers are off their meds again"
"I like Jasmine Guy"
BREAKING: Election fraud in Auburn
"The sting of unboozed Democrats"
"Why is Mitt Romney ashamed of Massachusetts?"
"hot condiments cause them to be...interested in sex"
Disgust with that nasty Francona grows
It's that dirty Francona's fault
T&G reader takes on terrorism
Worcester: the San Diego of the East
Is State Senator Barrios a Bush Crony
Rem-Dawg Debate Rages in Worcester
Jerry Remy has "lost all touch with reality"



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