Saturday, February 10, 2007

We're going to Iran

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Bush White House have their eyes on a new prize:
"I think there's some serial numbers, there may be some markings on some of the projectile fragments that we found" that point to Iran, he said.

Gates' remarks left unclear how the U.S. knows the serial numbers are traceable to Iran and whether such weapons would have been sent to Iraq by the Iranian government or by private arms dealers.
Bush has given the U.S. military the authority to kill or capture Iranian government agents working with Shiite militias inside Iraq. Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said serial numbers and markings on some explosives used in Iraq indicate that the material came from Iran, but he offered no evidence.

With the aim of shaking Tehran's commitment to its nuclear program, Bush also approved last fall secret operations to target Iranian influence in southern Lebanon, in western Afghanistan, in the Palestinian territories and inside Iran. The new strategy, a senior administration official said, aims to portray Iran as a "terror-producing country, instead of an oil-producing country," with links to al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and death squads in Iraq.

U.S. officials have asserted for years that several dozen al-Qaeda fighters, including Osama bin Laden's son, slipped across the Afghan border into Iran as U.S. troops hunted for the perpetrators of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. U.S. and allied intelligence services, which have monitored the men's presence inside Iran, reported that Tehran was holding them under house arrest as bargaining chips for potential deals with Washington.
Iran's president on Wednesday blamed "the occupiers of Iraq" — inferring the United States and Britain — for two bombings that killed at least nine people in the southwestern city of Ahvaz.

The foreign minister said the bombers were supported by the British military, which is based in southern Iraq. Ahvaz has a history of violence involving members of Iran's Arab minority.

Seeing as how the Democrats will probably bend over lest anyone accuse them of being weak on terrorism, the game is now whether Bush can get this ball rolling full speed before his term of office concludes. Having successfully stabilized Afghanistan and Iraq with no perceivable harm to our armed forces, financial resources or global reputation, Iran should be a cakewalk, if we go in. In fact, I dare say we will be greeted as liberators.

Update 2/11/07 1:24 A.M. - As the New York Times reported last month, the U.S. has been mixing it up for a while now ("Rice Says Bush Authorized Iranians’ Arrest in Iraq").

Friday, February 9, 2007

A good player for his time, a good guy for any time

Former Yankees outfielder Hank Bauer passed away today. He won seven World Series titles during 12 seasons in New York, and also led Baltimore to a title as manager in 1966. Over his career, he had a .277 batting average, with 164 homers and 703 RBI. That doesn't sound like much, but sabermetrics will help put him in perspective. He had a career EQA of .277 (.260 is league average) and a WARP3 (Wins Above Replacement Player) of 51.7. He was a beneficial player on a legendary team.

He was more than a good player, though. I'll let his Wikipedia entry give the details:
One month after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Bauer enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. While in the South Pacific, Bauer contracted malaria, but recovered enough to earn 11 campaign ribbons, two Bronze Stars and a pair of Purple Hearts in 32 months of combat. His second injury came during the Battle of Okinawa, when he commanded a platoon of 64 men. Only six survived the brutal siege, with shrapnel hitting Bauer in the thigh and sending him home.
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Hank crawled on top of the Yankee dugout and searched the stands, looking for a fan who was shouting racial slurs at Elston Howard. When asked about the incident, Bauer explained simply, "Ellie's my friend." -- Excerpt of the book "Clubhouse Lawyer", by Art Ditmar, former major league pitcher

The Battle of the Qvists

Just when I was ready to bury the Rangers, they go ahead and knock out a goalie (Holmqvist) who had been hot for the past month, and shut down a team (Tampa Bay) that won eight of their last ten games. Tampa Bay is also ahead of the Rangers in points. This is a huge win.

Lundqvist has been doing very well this 2007.

Anna Nicole Smitten

Bob Harris, via This Modern World:
And according to the Google News “Most Popular” section, we care a great deal about dead Playmates, stalker astronauts in diapers, Ryan O’ Neal getting arrested, and Britney Spears not being a lesbian.

So that’s what we get.

When we can’t find Iran on a map but we’re willing to kill Iranians — and then we wonder why the world doesn’t exactly run the way we figured — it’s not any news producer’s fault.

It’s ours.

Bob makes a good point. While I was interested in this news in passing (no pun intended), as she was a celebrity and I was trying to remember if she ever provided visual stimulus for me during the early days of the Internet, I was surprised that this was the lead story not only in local news broadcasts in Philadelphia, but also in Los Angeles (KNBC), and presumably other places as well. Bob lists a bunch of stories that are more important, but news isn't about importance, it's about ratings, and people love their celebrity news (see: Extra!, etc.)

That's why the "liberal bias" attached to certain news channels and papers always bothers me. The news is a money making machine; they're going to target the largest audience, regardless of the political beliefs of the editors. Do some media outlets lean one way or the other? Sure, there are some, but overall it's about reaching advertisement-digesting customers. The extreme Fox News and Washington Times of the country are rare.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Read the Bible

Perry Bible Fellowship has finally updated after a few weeks hiatus. Check out the new comic, "Now Showing."

For the heck of it, my favorite PBF strip:

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill the poor

Peter Jackson, not the director, Associated Press:

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Gov. Ed Rendell [D] asked Pennsylvania lawmakers Tuesday to approve higher taxes for consumers, employers, tobacco users and waste haulers to help finance a $27.3 billion budget that includes initiatives in health care, energy and property-tax relief.
* * *
A portion of the sales-tax increase would be used this year to cut property taxes for non-senior homeowners a year ahead of schedule. In the future, about $700 million a year - half the amount of the increase - would be earmarked to supplement the $1 billion a year in property-tax reductions that slot-machine gambling is expected to generate.

Raise sales taxes, which focuses on working people, and lower property taxes, which favors ye ole landed gentry. It doesn't matter if Rendell is looking to "extend subsidized health insurance to about 800,000 adults who lack coverage," he's going to be taking more money out of those people's pockets anyway.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Conservatives can do comedy, too (unintentionally)

From someone via The Free Republic:

24 creator, Joel Surnow, is producing what he calls "A Daily Show for conservatives.“
* * *
The Half Hour News Hour is actually nothing like The Daily Show because The Half Hour News Hour is actually funny. The two stars, Kurt Long and Susan Yeagley, displayed none of Jon Stewart’s smug self-satisfied mugging or Colbert’s tiresome ironic self-awareness. Instead, they’re both charming performers with a strong chemistry who blend seriousness and absurdity in the same way SNL did in the heyday of it’s Weekend Update series.

I’m not going to review the show here. It was shot out of order and the few dud jokes will hopefully be edited out, and how it will all come together is anyone’s guess. But as a series of sketches, most were laugh-out-loud funny and brutally clever skewering environmentalism, political correctness, the ACLU, and many other liberal sacred cows.

Sounds charming. I've wanted someone to put together a show making fun of the environment, racial minorities and civil liberties for a long time now. It will even be funny, unlike grumpy ol' Jew Stewart and his butt buddy Colbert (I bet it's not even really pronounced "Cole-bear" in real life, what a Hollywood elitist).

Lightning Update: Relevant comic.

Public office: not for the public

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Just a day after a new poll showed surging support for the self-financed Philadelphia mayoral candidacy of millionaire Tom Knox, City Council appears poised to temporarily erase the city's limits on campaign donations.

A measure introduced today by Councilman Jim Kenney says that the existing contribution caps don't apply in any mayoral election where a candidate gives more than $2 million to his or her own campaign.

Because Knox has already given his campaign $5 million, Kenney's bill means Knox's rivals are free to raise as much money as they want. Kenney is a supporter of one of those rivals, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady.

I can understand wanting to make public office accessible to people who aren't millionaires, but that isn't what this legislation is about. It's about the modern day Tammany Hall in Philadelphia maintaining its grip of power. People always point to the corruption in national government, but I think the malfeasance is thicker the lower on the scale, like human sludge.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

The Bleeding Vaginas

In a commercial for "understanding PMDD" (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder), I heard the familiar sounds of Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It." The Sister show I saw in 2005 remains one of the best, most energetic concerts I have ever attended, but this is the most embarrassing thing the band has done since its "Leader of the Pack" music video.

Not even a cameo by Bobcat Goldwaith saves that video (I saw him live in the early 00s, and he was hilarious, in case you were wondering). There are two instances when the video could end up having a cool ending, but instead it just reaches ridiculous levels of inanity. No wonder A.J. Pero quit to go play in the power metal band Cities after that album.

I do not disparage a band or any artist for trying to make the most money they can, but that doesn't mean I will respect them or think they have credibility.

Ugh, let's get this taste out of my mouth. Here's a vintage TS performance from 1984:

Playoffs fading away

The Rangers lost to the Lightning tonight in overtime, causing them to drop further back in the standings. They have 54 points in the Eastern Conference, placing them in 11th overall, five points back of 8th seeded Carolina.

Lundqvist has been doing exceedingly well the past month, with a GAA of about 2 and a save percentage around .925 or so. Once again, the Rangers offense and defense let them down. Tampa Bay had 41 shots on goal, while the Rangers only managed 26. With so many shots taken, even an elite goalie (which I won't claim Lundqvist is yet) is going to miss one every now and again. You have to keep the puck at the other end of the ice.

There's still time for the Rangers to turn it around, but it isn't looking good.