27 February 2006

University of Washington student senate: Embarrassment to the Greatest State in the Union

As I recall, one of my best friends from high school was a member of the great deliberative body that is the UW Student Senate. I don't think his generation of student senators would have undertaken a misguided protest like the one described in the following paragraph.

From John Fund of the Wall Street Journal:
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'Pappy' Shot Down by Campus Ignoramuses

It's well known that college students today aren't as educated in our nation's history as they should be, but it's still hard to grasp the mind-bending political correctness just displayed by the University of Washington's student senate at its campus in Seattle.

The issue before the Senate this month was a proposed memorial to World War II combat pilot Gregory "Pappy" Boyington, a 1933 engineering graduate of the university, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service commanding the famed "Black Sheep" squadron in the Pacific. The student senate rejected the memorial because "a Marine" is not "an example of the sort of person UW wants to produce."

Digging themselves in deeper, the student opponents of the memorial indicated: "We don't need to honor any more rich white males." Other opponents compared Boyington's actions during World War II with murder.

"I am absolutely bewildered that the Student Senate voted down the resolution," Brent Ludeman, the president of the UW College Republicans, told me. He noted that despite the deficiencies of the UW History Department, the complete ignorance of Boyington's history and reputation by the student body was hard to fathom. After all, "Black Sheep Squadron," a 1970s television show portraying Colonel Boyington's heroism as a pilot and Japanese prisoner of war, still airs frequently on the History Channel. Apparently, though, it's an unusual UW student who'd be willing to learn any U.S. history even if it's spoonfed to him by TV.

As for the sin of honoring a rich white male, Mr. Ludeman points out that Boyington (who died in 1988) was neither rich nor white. He happened to be a Sioux Indian, who wound up raising his three children as a single parent. "Colonel Boyington is luckily not around to see how ignorant students at his alma mater can be today," says Kirby Wilbur, a morning talk show host at Seattle's KVI Radio. Perhaps the trustees and alumni of the school will now help educate them.

-- John Fund
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Is this what people mean when they discuss--in reverential tones--great, open-minded, liberal universities?

I think UW profs need to teach less of the "white male screwed everyone" critique of history and more history. I understand the discontent over the war in Iraq, what I don't get is the venom directed to WWII heroes. Is their knowledge of that war limited to repeated screenings of "Pearl Harbor"?

Note to UW students: America was not the aggressor in WWII. The Japanese bombed us at Pearl Harbor. Fascists in Germany, Italy, and Japan caused the death of millions. Heroes like Boyington helped bring that war to a successful conclusion and end that fascist threat. I repeat the call I first made on Pearl Harbor Day 2005. Resist the urge to rent, for the umpteenth time, fanatical conspiracy theory based movies like "Syriana" (come on, do you really think the CIA is that good? give me a break), and pick up "Band of Brothers." US Armed Forces were made up of men like these and Boyington who joined because they believed in America and hated Hitler and Tojo. On the lines in Europe or in the skies over the Pacific, these men fought for each other.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court stuck it to schools who maintained Vietnam era bans on campus recruiters. They ruled that schools receiving federal funding had to allow military recruiters on campus. Makes sense, right? This hasn't stopped these schools and their students from protesting most vigorously the recruiters presence on campus. I love the irony of a group that protests the very existence of an organization that maintains their freedom of speech. Time and again soldiers in Iraq are quoted as saying that they don't agree with anti-war protesters, but that they still fight for their right to publicly disagree. Do you think the islamifascists would allow them their right to free speech? Lest you think 9/11 was anything other than a part of an ongoing attack on our way of life and right to freedom and liberty, think again.

Hopefully someone at UW with more sense than the student senate will step up and push through the Boyington memorial. As a part of the ceremony to dedicate the memorial I suggest a short history lesson about Boyington. Maybe then the students will understand the honor associated with serving this country in the United States Marine Corp. Seriously, who would you rather have represent you--this fatuous student senate or Medal of Honor winner Colonel Gregory "Pappy" Boyington?

I'll take Boyington.

24 February 2006

BYU Football - Mike Holmgren & Brian Mitchell

With the Superbowl now weeks behind me, the only connection to football comes through our intra-apartment Madden 2006 tournament. My team is (predictably) the Seahawks and so far Shaun Alexander leads the league in rushing. Matt Hasselbeck would be doing a better if he hadn't been hurt for the first five games of the season and then another one in the middle. Grant Wistrom leads the league in sacks with an eye popping 39--through 12 weeks. In a game against the Cardinals, Alexander set the league record in rush yards with 330. In another game Wistrom set the single game record for sacks with 9, and the Seahawks defense set the record with 15 sacks in a game.

Last season my Seahawks lost to Kent from Louisiana's Colts in the Superbowl. I had beat him in the regular season but fell apart defensively in the game that mattered. This year I will get my revenge--assuming Kent's Colts make it that far. Matt's Chargers look good. I'm not worried about Marc's Falcons.

BYU Football coaches get some help from Holmgren and the Seahawks

On the 19th the Deseret News ran this article about a visit BYU football coaches made to the Seahawk training facility in Kirkland. Does this happen every year? If it doesn't, it should. The Seahawks were generous enough to allow the Y's coaches full access to their video and some consultation with the Seahawks coaches. It seems they all came away with something.
Reynolds wanted to learn more about the Seahawks' quick tempo from huddle to hike, see how fast Seattle's plays develop and the consistency with which personnel perform. Anae was interested in blocking rules, use of the tight end, schemes and plays. Doman wanted to find out how Matt Hasselbeck refined his quarterback skills and enhanced his accuracy and productivity, setting club records and an NFL mark for completion percentage in December.

Higgins researched Seahawk special teams play. Grimes delved into secrets of Seattle's offensive line.
It's unfortunate the defensive coaches didn't go along, they might have learned a thing or two on training young players in a new system. Rookie LB Lofa Tatupu lead the team in tackles and should have won rookie of the year. Rookie LB Leroy Hill had seven sacks. Second year safety Michael Boulware made big play after big play.

The quick tempo from huddle to snap should help the offense, perhaps this year John Beck wont have a delay-of-game penalty called on him. Yeah, right, that'll be the day.

Either way, I'm glad to see this sort of help and collaboration from former assistants like Mike Holmgren. He is a class act and this is just one more example.

In other news...

Cornerbacks coach Brian Mitchell leaves BYU for similar position at Texas Tech

Was it the shouting matches he had with fans after they would complain about poor coverage? I know some tried to cast him as the scapegoat for BYU's defensive problems this year. I don't think that was a fair accusation. There was very little experience or talent in the defensive secondary. That's what happens when something like 5 DBs get kicked out of school in less than a year. Shannon Benton, James Allen, et al. were supposed to provide help to the secondary the last couple of years. You can't blame the coach when projected starters get the ol' Honor Code heave-ho. That's not true, you can always blame Gary Crowton. Thank the football gods for that guy.

Anyway, back to Mitchell. Sometime back I wrote a piece entitled White Cornerbacks and Black Conservatives. I wouldn't call them oxymorons but they are definitely outside the societal norm. Here's the thing. Mitchell was the only African-American coach on the football team. He replaced another African-American coach. Will he be replaced by another African-American coach? Should Bronco feel any pressure to hire another one? Does not having one decrease our chances of attracting African-American football players? Do they care?

People seem less willing to talk or comment about this type of thing. Nobody felt as though they were walking on egg shells when they mentioned that hiring Steve Kaufusi would help us tap into so called "Polynesian Pipeline." Can you imagine the uproar if someone came up with a similar name for African-American student-athletes? Perhaps we should be a little more Poly- sensitive.

BYU acknowledges no racial preference in hiring or student admittance. Sure, I've heard rumors, but nothing official. It will be interesting to see how the new hire shakes out.

What do Mike Holmgren and Brian Mitchell have in common? They are both former BYU assistant coaches.

22 February 2006

BYU Football - Jason Munns

I haven't written much about BYU football since the disappointing end to the 2005 season because, quite frankly, there hasn't been much to write.

Signing Day for recuits has come and gone and by all indications it was a smashing success. But then, what school from the University of Idaho Vandals to the University of Southern California Trojans doesn't call their recruiting class the "best ever?"

Here's the first of several topics/articles that have caught my attention.

Jason Munns of the Southridge Suns
(subscription required or email me with article requests)

I first wrote about this high school QB last fall
and as a disclaimer I need to mention that Southridge is my high school alma mater. Suns football was the #1 4A team in the state for much of the year last fall and they were led by one of the best QB's in junior Jason Munns.

Unfortunately they met an early end in the first round of the playoffs. My sources tell me overconfidence played a pretty big role in the loss. It was a classic case, they had been so good all year they thought they could show up and win.

Total Blue Sports printed a good article about Munns about ten days ago soon after BYU offered him a scholarship.

His stats are impressive: 2,300 yards, 32 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 5 rushing touchdowns, and 62% pass completion. After the good year he has heard from the likes of SC, Notre Dame, Arizona St., Washington, Florida, Michigan, Washington St., and BYU. Thus far only the last two have officially offered scholarships.

Fortunately for BYU fans, Munns isn't in love with Utah like he seemed in his last interview.
“My family is split between Utah and BYU fans,” Munns said. “I have family in Utah, but I’ve never been to a BYU football game. I don’t have a favorite between BYU or Utah, I just enjoy all good football.”
One source said that Coach Tyrone Willingham (UW) was in attendance at Southridge High School's fall sports awards banquet. My brother and sometime OL&L contributor Matt thinks Munns will end up deciding between the two state schools with his most likely destination being UW. Munns doesn't seem set on a mission so some schools who might be scared away by 2 year church service are still interested. In my humble opinion, Munns is at least as good as "the Clausen kid from California." He just doesn't get as much hype.

17 February 2006

Caricatures of Mohammed, Voices of Reason, and the Contagion of Liberty

I missed this story when it first broke. There's nothing like a little arson, boycott, and violent threats to call the attention.

First the background

Last fall a Danish newspaper--Jyllands-Posten--printed numerous caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed. Editors at the paper had wondered at the lack of political cartoon lampooning of Muslim fundamentalists who justified their suicidal tactics by invoking the name of Mohammed. After doing a little investigative reporting, they found that most political cartoonists were wary of drawing such cartoons because they feared reprisals from radical Muslims in their own country. Their fears were not without justification, the murder of Theo van Gogh by a jihadist is just one example. Jyllands-Posten then invited some 50-60 cartoonists to sketch drawings making fun of these extremists.

The response of many in the Muslim world justified their original fears.

Along with Martin Luther King Jr. style boycotts of Danish goods, many Muslims have protested the printing of the aforementioned caricatures by storming the Danish embassy. Several cases of arson and numerous threats to cut off heads and hands have joined the peaceful boycott.

Enough background, here's my take:

I don't condone making fun of anyone's religion. I respect the right of others to worship however or whatever they wish. In a perfect world, all people would respect this right and newspapers would avoid publishing pictures offensive to any church, organized or otherwise.

However, my belief in freedom of the press trumps my desire to avoid seeing caricatures of my own religion in the Op-Ed page, comic section, or even a popular film. Any news source or media outlet should avoid a double standard in printing offensive material. For years US and Euro news has reported and printed material offensive to the Christian and Jewish world, why should their treatment of Islam be any different? Will they (will we?) allow fear of reprisal to cow us into a fetal position of subservience?

What really gets under the skin are what Charles Krauthammer calls "voices of reason." These are non-Muslim "moderates" who suggest that Jyllands Posten abused freedom of the press and was out of line. They acknowledge, and rightly so, that the vast majority of the Muslim world rejects the violent acts of these few Islamofascists. As Krauthammer points out, "A true Muslim moderate is one who protests desecrations of all faiths." Unfortunately, most of the Muslim moderates who decry the printing of these caricatures ignore this double standard. Again, from Krauthammer:
Have any of these "moderates'' ever protested the grotesque caricatures of Christians and, most especially, Jews that are broadcast throughout the Middle East on a daily basis? The sermons on Palestinian TV that refer to Jews as the sons of pigs and monkeys? The Syrian prime-time TV series that shows rabbis slaughtering a gentile boy in order to ritually consume his blood? The 41-part (!) series on Egyptian TV based on that anti-Semitic czarist forgery (and inspiration of the Nazis), ``The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,'' showing the Jews to be engaged in a century-old conspiracy to control the world?
Why "voices of reason" in the US or Europe would pander to people espousing such a hypocritical standards is beyond me. I can understand the difficult position of moderate Muslims living in tyrannical regimes, but the behavior of moderates in liberal democracies surpasses understanding. William F. Buckley Jr. (WFB) explains the American tradition.
Iconoclastic expressions in America are broadly condemned as being in bad taste. However, there is certainly freedom in America to deride Christ. This is done every day on Broadway, and every other day in Hollywood. Americans do not take up arms in protest. Derisory material at the expense of Jews is permitted only if the executioner is a Jewish comedian. Care on this front is a welcome legacy of the Holocaust: No jokes are told by visitors to Buchenwald.
American newspapers print what they will about Christians and Jews because they aren't afraid the Christian Coalition (whatever you may say about them) would burn the offices of the New York Times or threaten to chop off their collective head and hands. Why defend the actions of a radical Muslim minority? To avoid printing such things is almost a tacit acceptance of their legitimacy in attacking the West. I hope that's not the case, as it suggests a sort of self-loathing. A topic for another day, and another post. The position of moderate Muslims is less neurotic and more easily understood.

Let me explain. Most Middle Eastern states are autocracies. Even the UN, champion of tyrants and terrorists (Hugo Chavez, Yasser Arafat, et al.) has criticized abuses of human rights in these countries. In order to avoid the natural human predicament response to tyrannical rule (remember, tyranny-->revolution-->anarchy-->competing groups-->tyranny), the various heads of state instead use their pocket priests to preach a doctrine of hate. Their focus? All things Western--especially the US. It is much easier to get a restless populace to hate and blame Western civilization than it is to solve the ills associated with years of neglect and abuse.

So I can understand Muslim moderates. Better to preach the tyrant-approved criticism of the West than to speak out against violations of Islam in their own countries. Such a campaign would no doubt result in Saddam-style punishment--unfortunately Hussein wasn't the only crazy head of state in the region.

Moderate Muslims aren't ignorant of abuses in their homeland.
"Why today we see all this solidarity to protest the cartoons. . .as if only these pictures had insulted the Prophet Mohammad," Ali Mahdi wrote in a letter published in Lebanon's left-wing daily As-Safir.

"Don't you think that injustice, torture, illiteracy and the restrictions on freedoms (in the Muslim world) are also considered an insult to the Prophet . . . who called for the respect for human rights?" . . .

Several Arab Web logs posted the cartoons and hosted online debates about them. Many left-wing and secular-minded Muslims also circulated the cartoons by e-mail.

"What is the use of getting angry for the sake of the Prophet when I have a thousand poor people in my neighborhood?" wrote one Egyptian blogger on his Web site "Justice for Everyone."

"What is the use of writing a million letters (about the Prophet's greatness) when I wet my pants every time a police car passes by my house?"
There is a reason the US believes in the separation of church and state. Catholicism was used by European states during the middle ages to control the masses. It was probably in observation of this that Karl Marx uttered his famous "opiate" statement. The same thing is being repeated in the Muslim world.

I don't believe there is anything fundamentally violent about Islam. I haven't read the Koran, but excerpts I've seen, reports I've read and people I talk to indicate it is a peaceable religion. In one instance it is being used to subjugate the people of the Middle East and in the other it is used to justify violent attacks against the West.

The quote above from Ali Mahdi is valuable and powerful. It shows that many Muslims are aware of the depravities of these tyrannical theocracies. As James Taranto points out, this quote serves as "a useful counterpoint to those who say Islam and democracy are incompatible--a common position on both the anti-Muslim right and the anti-democratic left."

Fortunately for liberal democracies in the West and the subjugated masses of the Muslim world, both groups are being proved wrong by the successes in Iraq. Just this week, Ibrahim al-Jaafari was elected as candidate to serve as Prime Minister for the next four years. As the Wall Street Journal notes, this is just
the latest positive step in Iraqi political development -- which includes two elections, negotiations to write a new and liberal constitution and a successful referendum on that document. We'll let the cynics decided if this qualifies as "Jeffersonian," or merely Iraqi pragmatism, but whatever it is we'll call it progress.
A successful democracy in Iraq puts regional tyrants on notice. In the past they may have been able to control the flow of information. The internet, with bloggers like Mr. Mahdi, are beginning to end that monopoly. What Revolutionary era historians call the "contagion of liberty" will begin to take hold in those countries and they will agitate for freedom and democracy.

14 February 2006

Ode to Alta: A Valentine's Love Sonnet

Every so often, I lose the vision
Of the more important things in life;
I need a storm t’help see with precision,
So that I can stride smoothly through the strife.
The storms, you see, come and bring clarity,
Through them I can define my existence,
As our God, in an act of Charity,
Provides much-needed, powd’ry white assistance.
Whether hiking the Castle, farming turns,
Or making powder laps in Supreme Bowl,
Ski Sugarloaf once more as th’day adjourns,
Last run, High-T to Gunsight, out Keyhole.
Skiing’s Mecca, Medina, Holy Land,
Alta’s got soul, experience firsthand!

13 February 2006

Defeaticrats - Conclusion

"Who knew a post about 12daily Pro would lead to a lengthy discussion of Mormon doctrine?" (hat tip: Morgan Habedank) Not me. Some interesting and important questions were raised. Thinking politics were controversial enough, I had tried to avoid writing religious posts.

Historical questions maintain a central position in the development of the debate. Our friend the Raisin has called for a "reasonable" response from the humble dictator of this blog--me. So I will succumb to these populist demands and give the people what they want. Stay tuned for my considered response.

In the meantime, here's Mark Steyn with what remains of an downright humorous and entertaining treatment of the Democrats ridiculous position on Iraq.
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The Defeaticrats
Of hearts and minds, at home and in Iraq

MARK STEYN


REALITY CHECK

Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, even the media are occasionally obliged to explain the disconnect between received wisdom on Iraq and the actual physical territory that goes by that name. “85 percent of people in the capital are looking to the future with great enthusiasm,” noted Der Spiegel, as impeccably anti-Bush as any publication on the planet, but nonetheless reporting the economic boom, rising incomes, etc., now enjoyed by many Iraqis. The magazine went on: “How does this happily expectant mood fit in with the bloody scenes of bombings and shootings, the reports of kidnappings, curfews, and shortages?” How indeed? Over to you, media-ethics professors.

It’s not difficult: I said a year and a half ago that the way to look at Iraq is that the Sunni Triangle is Northern Ireland, Kurdistan is Scotland, and the Shiite south is England. Don’t let a pub bombing in Ballymena prevent you from investing in that privatized telecom company in London.

I’m not one of those fellows minded to defer to Jack Murtha because he was a hero in the last war. You could have said the same of Marshal P├ętain, and Churchill never listened to him. But I carelessly assumed Murtha did, in fact, have something to say. Instead, as he told Newsweek — in one of those “Bush in the Bubble” stories — he’s piqued because the president didn’t reply to his memo, which, rather than getting hoots of derision, is now regarded as the greatest affront to constitutional propriety since Jim Jeffords failed to land an invite to the White House’s Teacher of the Year reception, for which slight he flipped control of the Senate to Tom Daschle. (Remember him?) If Murtha and Newsweek weren’t trapped in their own bubble, they might understand that a “principled stand” has to be more than a guy whining that the president of the United States won’t return his calls: “The White House has made no attempt to reach out to Murtha since then. ‘None. None. Zero. Not one call,’ a baffled Murtha told Newsweek. ‘I don’t know who the hell they’re talking to. If they talked to people, they wouldn’t get these outbursts. If they’d talked to me, it wouldn’t have happened.’”

I know who the hell they’re talking to: On Iraq, the White House is talking to rather a lot of people. They’re called “Iraqis.” But Murtha is now the lion of the moment, Cindy Sheehan and Joseph Wilson IV merged into the Murtha of all anti-war heroes. So what if there’s no crushing of his dissent, only a sad man who was crushed by being dissed.

But let’s take it as read that I’m a neocon hack clinging to my feeble Wolfowitz-Perle script as Kurdistan secedes and Shiite theocrats seize the south and Zarqawi commands overwhelming support from the Sunni people. Assume that John Kerry is right that “young American soldiers” are “going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women” and that those rampaging Rumsfeldian torturers have brutalized so many of the Iraqi people that they’re unified against us.

Even so, even as crude political finessing, will this pitch work for the Democrats? No. Listen to Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi. They didn’t become leaders because some freak accident took out the other contenders. They head the party because they speak for it. It’s one thing to be defeatist, but the perverse triumphalism of Dean’s defeatism will keep his party mired in the minority through 2006 and 2008. Even if they were right, what’s the “meta-story,” as they say, of Mad How’s soundbite? We’re the party that glories in defeatism? “Vote for us. We told you Americans were losers and we’re right.” Even as shameless self-interest, the Defeaticrat position is a flop.

Unlike those depressed Continentals, Americans are not a pessimistic people, especially when they’ve got nothing to be pessimistic about. The tragedy is that, on so-called “liberal” terms, this is a war Democrats ought to be gung-ho for: More Iraqis participate in the democratic process than Americans; Afghanistan has more women in electoral politics than Canada. Meanwhile, in the most powerful nation on the planet, the two-party system is seizing up because one party’s gone nuts. From Murtha’s “We’re all doomed unless we quit by Tuesday” to John Kerry’s “I was against setting deadlines before I was for them,” the Defeaticrats simply have no serious contribution to make to the most pressing issue of the age. Shame on them, trapped in a quagmire of the mind with no exit strategy in sight.
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With all the opportunities Republicans are giving Democrats to take the Senate and House this fall, I'm surprised they still insist on being the pessimistic party. With Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton and Co. running the show, I guess I really shouldn't be all that surprised.

My prediction? Republicans will maintain a majority in both houses--thanks entirely to the ineptness of the Democrats.

10 February 2006

Defeaticrats - Part III

Law blogger Ann Althouse had an interesting observation about the blog tendencies of conservatives and liberals (hat tip: James Taranto of Best of the the Web)

What I've noticed, over and over, is that the bloggers on the right link to you when they agree and ignore the disagreements, and the bloggers on the left link only for the things they disagree with, to denounce you with short posts saying you're evil/stupid/crazy. . . .

I'm struck by the way the right perceives me as a potential ally and uses positive reinforcement and the left doesn't see me as anything but an opponent--doesn't even try to engage me with reasoned argument.
The irony is in the similarity between the accusations of the left and the stereotypes they use to prop up their fatuous claims. Blinded, or at least distracted, by an ever present anger--sometimes driving them to apoplectic attacks (see Dem. Chairman Howard Dean, also Hillary Clinton) they refuse to see the successes that have taken place in Iraq (read: three democratic elections).
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The Defeaticrats
Of hearts and minds, at home and in Iraq
MARK STEYN


DAZED AND CONFUSED

I’ve never been one for “winning the hearts and minds” of Iraqis. Heart-wise, an awful lot of them dislike infidels and Jews and American soldiers, and, while one may deplore that, it’s just a fact of life. But, in their minds, as those poll numbers indicate, the Iraqis are rational enough to work out where their best interest lies. And, quite reasonably, they figure it doesn’t lie with a psychotic death cult that nowadays mainly blows up Muslims on buses, in shopping markets, schools, and even mosques. That’s the worst corporate diversification since Seagram’s bought Universal Pictures. And at least Seagram’s still made whisky; Zarqawi isn’t killing a lot of infidels these days.

So Iraq’s hearts and minds are operating far more rationally than the Democrats, who these days are both heartless, in their indifference to the aspirations of ordinary Arabs, and mindless, in their calculation of their own best interests. I find Chirac-Schroeder obstructionism easier to understand than the Dean-Boxer variety. For EU politicians, as those French and German poll numbers indicate, there’s not a lot of good options when half the babies in your maternity wards are Muslim. But what’s the thinking behind what the Democrats are doing?

Easy, you say: It’s naked partisan politics. And, to be sure, the broader culture has kind of internalized it as such, to the point where, for example, Dan Balz can publish a huge piece in the Washington Post that from its headline down — “Hillary Clinton Crafts Centrist Stance on War” — assumes that it’s perfectly natural to talk about the foreign policy and national security of one’s own country entirely in political terms. For Balz and for everyone he quotes in the piece, the point of a “policy on Iraq” is not to have a policy that affects Iraq in any real sense but to have a policy that advances domestic political fortunes. “Iraq” might as well be a board game you’re in the national playoffs of.

Example: “Her refusal to advocate a speedy exit from Iraq may reflect a more accurate reading of public anxiety about the choices now facing the country.” Note that Balz takes it for granted that Senator Rodham Clinton should have no principled position on Iraq, no strategic view of the Muslim world, no philosophical preference as to America’s mission abroad, no genuine concerns about security, etc. Indeed, he’s implicitly arguing that the greatest strength of Hillary as a viable Democratic presidential candidate — poor Joe Lieberman’s “Joementum” won’t even place him in the Top Ten in the Iowa caucus — is that she’s the least encumbered with anything that will prevent her from agreeing with whatever the 10 p.m. internal polling numbers are showing.

Take that headline: What would a “centrist stance” be on, say, the Second World War? Every few days, some media outlet or other runs a piece about how Bush is “in a bubble” — and no doubt he is, to one degree or another, as busy world leaders tend to be, by definition. But the American media raging that Bush is in a bubble are the equivalent of that famous British newspaper headline: “Fog in Channel. Continent Cut Off.” Whatever bubble Bush is in, it’s a vast jostling metropolis of diverse peoples stretching to the horizon compared with the shrunken little bubble the Democrats and the media inhabit, reinforcing each other’s illusions, like two madmen playing Chinese whispers. No serious person — by which I mean a fellow who’s aware there’s a real country called “Iraq” and it’s in a part of the world called “the Middle East” — could read that Balz analysis without weeping with laughter. Pseudo-policies are soberly considered as if they had any meaning in reality: Should we withdraw from Europe six months after D-Day? Or commit ourselves to a phased drawing down over three to nine months? Clearly, if we announce we’ll be leaving the Continent by October 27, that might embolden Herr Hitler. But, if we say 10 percent of our forces might remain until February 1947, that will give us a more flexible exit strategy with strong centrist appeal.
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There exists a sycophantic symbiosis between Democrats and a liberal dominated press. They are constantly parroting each other's talking points. For a liberal generation of politicians and press, whose political history mother's milk was Vietnam and Watergate, they are constantly trying to conflate those two experiences with George W. Bush and Iraq. Think I'm wrong? Pick up a newspaper or other periodical and read any commentary by any liberal writer about the current situation in Iraq or the overblown non-scandal that is the anti-terror wiretapping conducted by the Bush administration.

The points is, too many Democrats (not all, thank you Joe Lieberman) don't hear anything else other than their own ideas because they are repeated back to them by the press. Conservatives can't help but hear them. By and large, American universities (BYU excepting) are dominated by liberal professors who knowingly and otherwise push their ideas onto an eager and naieve young student body--a student body full of world-problem solving zeal. Unfortunately, many of these trusted gatekeepers simply use their students as tools to further their own agenda. Talk about indoctrination. It may not be organized religion, but secularism and liberalism have all the same characteristics. Are their proponents any less zealous than the "seminarians" at BYU?

If BYU pushes a certain bias they are hardly alone--though they may be alone in pushing a conservative ideology that includes elements of faith. I am a teaching assistant for a course that incorporates American history, politics, and economics and teaches a certain level of American exceptionalism. God may not have hand-delivered the Constitution to the delegates at Philadelphia, but everything I've read seems to indicate involvement of a higher power. This much I am familiar with and believe in. At the same time we teach these things, we acknowledge the hypocricies of American history. We recognize and teach about the incongruities of 'all men created equal' and the owning of slaves, treatment of Native Americans, and the less than equal status of women. We don't gloss over or ignore any of these issues. I think it is a mistake to assume that any dissenting opinion is based on brainwashing or stupidity.

08 February 2006

12daily Pro Exposed

I have generally been critical of the Daily Universe. Articles devoted to dating and cooking hardly seemed like serious journalism. I must, however, give credit, where credit is due, and congratulate the DU for their exposure of 12daily Pro.

On the 30th of January, Jenny Davis broke the news about 12daily Pro. Her use of words like "unethical" and "illegal" in describing the practices of said scheme provoked a pretty passionate response from involved members of the Daily Universe readership. On the 6th of February, the Daily Universe published a more in-depth examination and analysis of 12daily Pro. Follow up reports by ABC4 News in Utah (hat tip: Marc Sitterud) and today, from KSL have essentially told the same story.

As a result of all the press, the Pay-Pal like company involved in the transactions--StormPay--has frozen all 12daily Pro associated accounts leaving contributing members high and dry. In an attempt to shift the blame and focus of consumer-group investigations, 12daily Pro officials have promoted StormPay as the guilty party. Because this is America (or rather, thank goodness that this is America) these disputes will probably be resolved by litigation and criminal investigation/prosecution.

In an effort to stop the bloodletting, Ned Hill, President of the Marriott School of Business, issued an email warning students against involvement in "ponzi" or other related and unethical schemes. He even mentioned expulsion as possible punishment for what has been characterized as a violation of the BYU Honor Code.

External history aside, here's my take.

About a week before the story broke one close friend approached me about 12daily Pro. He wasn't inviting me to join but told me that another mutual acquaintance had tried to enlist him. This friend asked me to take a look at the website and report back on what I'd learned. After about twenty minutes of close examination I concluded it must be one of those pyramid schemes I'd heard about. I've had friends do the multi-level network market thing ("it's not like other MLN's!), and knew that this wasn't that--there were no obvious streams of revenue. No herbal drug promising to cure cancer, no magnetic footbeds promising increased energy, no Costco-like bulk food sent straight to your house--there was nothing resembling a good being exchanged for cash. Now I'm not a business major (not even a minor) but I am taking Accounting 200 with my brother, and, as he pointed out, the ledger just doesn't balance. We have to debit one side to credit the other but with no obvious stream of revenue, the only obvious conclusion is that it is all a bunch of smoke and mirrors.

Now I know it's not just BYU students being suckered by these guys, but I am left to wonder at what seems like a disproportionate number of BYU students being taken. My brother, Matt, wondered the same thing and asked his career exploration teacher, a Psychology professor, what it was about the BYU/Mormon community that encouraged this type of thing. The answer was two fold: first, Mormons are hard-wired networkers. To these scam artists, LDS ward and stake units seem like custom made MLNs or pyramids just begging to be exploited (I'm paraphrasing here because he didn't use the word "exploit"). The second Mormon characteristic is the general believing attitude--we call it faith with relation to religious things. In business, I think they call it gullible.

I hope this post doesn't make it appear as though I'm gloating, because I'm not. If anything I feel sympathetic to those who fell victim to the promise of easy money. Though none of my money has gone to 12daily Pro or any similar scheme, I feel a sense of shared embarrassment--in part, I'm sure, because one friend from the University of Utah (a business major) will take me to task about BYU students prominent involvement in the scam. In fact, I'm hoping this post preempts his knee jerk (he can't help himself), kick to the collective BYU posterior.

The same two motivating factors--mixed with the intoxicating influence of the almighty dollar bill are the same things that induce hundreds, nay thousands, of BYU students to spend their summers peddling security systems and pest control. We should start a campaign, in fact, I'll start it here. Call it "friends don't let friends do summer sales or MLNs or pyramid schemes."

Spread the word.

The Defeaticrats Part II

Most nights I lie awake wishing one of two things-- a larger liberal readership and that everyone at BYU didn't agree with me. No wait, I wish I had a larger readership and I would love it if more people agreed with me. Or, I wish I really knew everything while now I only think I do.

Sometimes I think everyone should let me run their life. I'm a heck of a lot more decisive than the girl in front of me at the Cougar Express, trying to decide between the orange and the bag of potato chips. She knows she wants the bag of potato chips, who does she think she's fooling? And the next time anyone (sorry girls) pays for a $0.59 candy bar with a check, I'm going to slap that Snickers out of their hand so fast that for some reason they'll wish they'd bought the orange instead.

I'll tell you one group that definitely should be letting me make their decisions for them, all those who thought 12DailyPro was a great money making opportunity. Regrettably, some of my friends got caught up in that scam. Seriously guys, didn't your fathers tell you about their own rough encounters with earlier pyramid schemes?

Enough of the crazy autocratic rants; without further delay I give you the next in a series of conservative but not--unfortunately--religiously fundamentalist posts.
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The Defeaticrats
Of hearts and minds, at home and in Iraq
by Mark Steyn


INSURGENCY AND ITS DISCONTENTS

On the other hand, this does belatedly prove the anti-war crowd’s long-held view that Saddam’s secular Baathists and Osama’s theocrat terrorists would never collaborate, even if it took until last month for the participants themselves to get wise to it. And, alas, unlike the Dems with Hillary, in the Sunni Triangle there’s no Sunni triangulator to craft a more nuanced position to hold both the Lieberbaathist and Pelosama wings together.

So the Shiites, Kurds, Sunnis, the Arab street, and the Baath party have figured Iraqi democracy’s winning. That leaves al-Qaeda. Well, not exactly: Ayman Zawahiri, the number-two honcho in al-Qaeda while they’re maintaining the polite fiction that bin Laden’s still functioning, recently rapped terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on the knuckles and called on him to cut out killings that “the masses do not understand or approve.” (The twitchy Mr. Zawahiri was presumably thinking of, for example, the assassination of the septuagenarian grand imam of Fallujah for urging Sunnis to get out and vote.)

So the Shiites, Kurds, Sunnis, the Arab street, the Baath party, and bin Laden’s deputy think the insurgency’s a bust. Hands up, who thinks it’s winning?

Well, there’s Howard Dean: “The idea that we are going to win this war is an idea that unfortunately is just plain wrong.” And look over there, it’s Jack Murtha, and he’s a veteran, and he thinks we need to scramble for the last chopper over the embassy compound right now! “There’s a civil war going,” he says. “Our troops are the targets of the civil war. They’re the only people that could have unified the various factions in Iraq. And they’re unified against us.”

By “us,” I think he means him and Zarqawi. And no, I’m not “questioning his patriotism”; I’m questioning his sanity. It was famously said that the Vietnam War was lost on television. In this instance, the Iraq War’s being lost only on television. In Iraq, it’s a tremendous victory. Indeed, it has the potential to be one of the most consequential, transformative victories of the modern age; but even if it doesn’t ever fulfill that potential, it’s still a huge success.
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I guess what I really dont understand is why there has to be a Democrat or Republican position on the current state of affairs in Iraq. I understand that many thought the war was wrong in the first place. We can agree to disagree on that point. However, that doesn't change reality and I think a reasonable analysis of our position must logically lead to the conclusion that success, not immediate withdrawal, is the best possible outcome.

By all means, let us debate the alternatives in Iraq and even future strategy in the war on terror. Pulling our troops out now or before Iraq can defend itself from enemies abroad and within will have disastrous consequences. Then Iraq will turn from a promsing young democracy into the terrorist haven that many liberals believe it to be now.

07 February 2006

The Defeaticrats Part I

With the Superbowl having sucked all the creative energy out of me, I'm left to find other sources for my online content. I decided to shift gears from sports to my other great love, politics.

Then it hit me, I'd serialize an article by one of my favorite writers, Mark Steyn. He usually writes the back page article for National Review, kind of like Rick Reilly does for Sports Illustrated. Only, I think Steyn is a much better read than Reilly.

I'd been trying to figure out how to work this article into my regular posting--but selective quotation just wont do it justice.

We haven't heard from some of my more liberal readership in some time. I'm guessing/hoping this article will bring them out of the wood-work.

So here it is, "The Defeaticrats: Of hearts and minds, at home and in Iraq," by Mark Steyn
(note: subscription to National Review Online required)
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Hands up, everyone who thinks Iraq's a quagmire.

Not the Iraqi people: According to the latest polls, 70 percent think "life is good," and 69 percent are optimistic that things will get even better in the year ahead. For purposes of comparison, they took a similar poll in Europe a while back: In France, 29 percent said they were optimistic about the future; in Germany, 15 percent. Sixty-three percent of Iraqis say they feel "very safe" in their own neighborhoods, which is more than the residents of Clichy-sous-Bois can say.

Well, okay, those cheerful Iraqis are probably Shiites and Kurds and whatnot. How about the Sunnis? For a small minority group that held a disproportionate and repressive grip on power for decades, they've been getting a more solicitous press from Western "liberals" than the white Rhodesians or South Africa's National party ever got. But it turns out, after their strategically disastrous decision to stay home in last January's vote, the Sunnis are participating in Iraq's democratic process in ever greater numbers.

Oh, okay, so the Shiites and Kurds and Sunnis are feeling chipper, but in the broader Middle East the disastrous neocon invasion has inflamed moderate Arab opinion against America. Well, it's true the explosive Arab street finally exploded the other day--with 200,000 Jordanians protesting in Amman, waving angry banners and yelling, "Burn in hell, Rumsfeld," and, "You are a coward Bush." Whoops, my mistake: They were yelling, "Burn in hell Zarqawi," and, "You are a coward, Zarqawi." If you want to hear someone yelling, "You are a coward, Bush," you've got to go to Cindy Sheehan's stakeout. And, in fairness to the network news divisions, it may be because so many of their camera crews have taken up permanent residence at the otherwise underpopulated Camp Cindy that they were unable to cover what was the largest demonstration against terrorism ever seen on the streets of the Middle East.

Oh, well. So the Shiites and the Kurds and the Sunni Iraqis and the Arab street are all on baord, but come on, what about the insurgents? Everybody knows they're winning...but, er, apparently they don't. The Baathist diehard insurgents have split from the foreign al-Qaeda insurgents. While the latter denounced the Iraqi election as "a Satanic project," the Saddamite remnants urged Sunnis to participate and said they'd protect polling stations from attacks by the foreign terrorists so that citizens could vote for their approved candidates (the leftover bits of Uday and Qusay, now running on the Psychotic Dictatorship Nostalgia Party ticket). This division between the foreign nutcakes and the domestic nutcakes is the biggest strategic split over the insurgency since Joe Lieberman respectfully distanced himself from Nancy Pelosi.
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So while I get caught up on homework put on hold for the Superbowl, you all can sit back, relax, and get caught up on what's really going on in Iraq.

05 February 2006

Super Bull

Hines Ward was selected as the MVP of Super Bowl XL. Five receptions for 123 yards and a touchdown are respectable numbers. As I've mentioned before, it was the type of consistent performance that helped me win our fantasy football championship. But Ward wasn't the difference maker.

Despite what ESPN.com headlines say about Big Ben "propel[ling]" the Steelers to a win, it wasn't he of 22.6 QB rating with two interceptions who brought Lombardi back to Pittsburgh.

It wasn't Moron Porter with a measly three tackles, whose mouth proved bigger than his play.

Nor was it Troy Polamalu who was essentially a non-factor. As I predicted, Michael Boulware proved to have a bigger impact than this one-time SC safety. Though both had five tackles, Boulware had an interception, which unfortunately the 'Hawks offense couldn't turn into points.

The press wanted it to be Jerome "the short bus" Bettis, but on two consecutive tries, he couldn't punch it into the endzone leading to Rothlisberger's phantom touchdown.

Nope, it wasn't any of these guys.

The NFL wanted Bettis to win it--they were sympathetic to Cowher and his SuperIneptness too. And Detroit, a city of burned out buildings; a city whose greatest recent contributions to American society and culture are Kid Rock and Eminem? This city needed some kind of connection to a game their team will never see. They found it in Bettis and he delivered 43 yards on 14 carries. And color me dumbfounded that they didn't just say, "what the heck, everyone wants it, lets just give the MVP to Bettis."

They should have given it to the officials.

Seattle was the #1 or #2 least penalized team in the NFL. In the Super Bowl they were penalized 7 times for 70 yards, but even that doesn't tell the whole story. As Michael Smith of ESPN.com points out,
The Seahawks lost 161 yards to penalties when you combine the penalty yards (70) and the plays the flags wiped out (91). By halftime alone, when it trailed 7-3, Seattle had had 73 hard-earned yards and a touchdown eliminated.
While the Steelers, an oft-penalized team during the regular season, only had 3 penalties for 20 yards--two of which were blatant false start penalties in the first quarter. Apparently not even the blatent horse collar tackle of Alexander by MotorMouth Porter was enough to draw a little yellow for the Hawks. Not only did the officials turn a blind eye to Pittsburgh penalties throughout the game, they called ridiculous ones on the Seahawks.

Case #1: Jackson's TD was called back on a weak "push off" in the endzone. This horrible call turned a touchdown into a field goal and sucked momentum away from the Seahawks. As I discussed with Justin, a Jazz fan from Salt Lake, Jordan pushed off, but Jackson didn't.

Case #2: Hat tip to Matt from Kennewick for this one and the accompanying article. Again, from Michael Smith:
Some penalties meant points; others meant field position. A holding call in the second quarter negated Peter Warrick's 34-yard punt return that would have started Seattle in Pittsburgh territory.
When Pittsburgh couldn't make the tackle, an official was always there to make the play.

Case #3: Early in the 4th quarter, with the 'Hawks down 14-10, Hasselbeck completes a pass to Stevens taking them to the 1 yard line only to be called back because of a holding penalty. Locklear's hold in the 1st quarter was legit, this one was a farce.

Case #4: On the next play Hasselbeck was sacked and on the next play he threw an interception. Adding insult to insult was the "low block" penalty called against Hasselbeck--the guy who made the tackle on the runner. This penalty was among the worst I have ever seen. They could have picked up the flag when they realized that it was indeed Hasselbeck who had made the tackle, but they didn't. They decided it was better to be wrong and ignorant than right and fair. Holmgren was right to complain to the officials at the half.

Case #5: This one is best told by the Seattle PI's Jim Moore.
In the fourth quarter, while the Steelers milked the clock, I swear I saw the play clock tick down to "0" before the ball was snapped, but Pittsburgh magically called a timeout, apparently with a nanosecond to spare.

Instead of a delay-of-game penalty and a third-and-11, the Steelers, of course, came out of the timeout and got the first down on a pass to Antwaan Randle El.
The Steelers always seemed to get a call from the officials just when they needed it. Talk about performing in the clutch.

The company (NFL) storyline was a storybook ending for the Bus in Detroit. The officials know who signs their checks and delivered accordingly.

Despite the horrible officiating, the Seahawks still had a chance to win this one. A failed conversion on 3rd down by one of my favorite players, Mack strong, three dropped passes by Jerramy Stevens and two missed field goals by Josh Brown probably would have been enough to give Seattle the win. With the odds stacked against them, those mistakes and the officials in their pocket will give the Steelers the win every time.

Seahawks 27 Steelers 17

I know the Vegas oddsmakers have the Steelers as 4.5 point favorites. I just think a lot of Steelers fans are going to lose a lot of money.

Here it is, my pre-game analysis.

Offense

I don't think anyone doubts that the Seahawks have the best offense in the game. The doubts come because most think the Steelers defense is better than the Seahawks offense. There are essentially four reasons why I think the Seattle offense can beat the Pittsburgh defense.

1. The Offensive Line
Seattle has the best line in the NFL. Pro-Bowl offensive lineman comprise the entire left side of the line and, we learned recently, also center Robbie Tobeck. Right guard Chris Gray and tackle Sean Locklear are not far behind them either. This is an offensive line that with Mack Strong will be manhandling the Pittsburgh front seven by the end of the game. The Steelers may stop Shaun Alexander a couple of times in the 1st and 2nd quarters, but after that they will dominate. That same line will provide Matt Hasselbeck with more protection than the Broncos gave Jake Plummer or the Dolts gave Peyton Manning. And, unlike the morons calling plays for those teams, Seattle wont give up on the run.

2. Matt Hasselbeck
He was the best QB in the NFL in the month of December and during the playoffs has had QB ratings well over 100. At one point against the Panthers he was 8 for 8. The best part of Hasselbeck has been his decision making. When WRs were covered down field he either threw the ball away or rushed for the necessary first down yardage. Pundits have been crowing about Big Ben for the last two weeks. Hasselbeck will show that he is the best QB in the Superbowl and among the best in the league.

3. Seattle WRs (including Jerramy Stevens)
Idiot Porter may profess to not know Jerramy Stevens, but he should. In the last 6 games Stevens has scored 4 TDs and is Seattle's #2 receiver in the playoffs. At 6'7", with incredible athleticism, he provides a sure-handed target for Hasselbeck. Porter and Polamalu haven't had to deal with a TE like him. If, as many predict, Pittsburgh has 8 or 9 men in the box, watch for Stevens to make them pay. Or Darrell Jackson, Joe Jurivicious, Bobby Engram, Seneca Wallace, DJ Hackett and Ryan Hannam. There may not be a Chad Johnson or Randy Moss in the bunch (mostly because D-Jack isn't that flamboyant) but they are all smart, catch everything, and run-block well.

4. Shaun Alexander
Edgerrin James isn't as good. Denver's musical RBs aren't as good. LT might be better, but then again, San Diego didn't even make the playoffs. MVP All-Star Shaun Alexander is set to have a big game. He avoids the big hit which means he rarely gets beat up and worn down by the end of the game. In fact, he seems to get stronger as the game goes on--as does his offensive line. He is also great in short yardage, third down situations. At one point he was 15 for 15 in 3rd and 1 situations. The only way to stop him may be to do as Washington did and hope some freak hit gives him a concussion. Pittsburgh's 3-4 and their vaunted zone-blitz are good against the West Coast Offense. The only problem is, Mike Holmgren's offense is far more balanced than say a Philadelphia offense that throws the ball 60% of the time. Replacing a 325 lb. defensive tackle with a 250 lb. linebacker just makes it all that easier for Seattle's offensive line to push them around. That is the critique of the 3-4, it can be susceptible to the run.

Defense
Of course everyone loves the Steeler defense, after all, they are from Pittsburgh, toughest city that side of 8 Mile. It's easy to equate Seattle with Microsoft with dorks with wimpy and somehow conclude that Seattle's defense is vanilla. Tell that to Carolina. Or maybe Pennsylvania residents would prefer to recall the Monday Night game vs. Philadelphia. Remember how your Eagles were embarrassed on national TV? In case you forgot, the Super Bowl will be Part II of Seattle's domination of the state of Pennsylvania. The Seahawks finished with one of the top run defenses. Their pass defense didn't fare as well but this was more a result of injury and the resultant musical cornerbacks rather than ability. As with the offense, here are four reasons I think the Seattle defense can stop the Pittsburgh offense.

1. Defensive Line
Grant Wistrom, Rocky Bernard, Marcus Tubbs, Bryce Fisher--these guys are good. Rocky Bernard sacked Delhomme 2 (I say 3) times. He had 10.5 total sacks during the year and should be going to the Pro-Bowl. Seattle led the NFL with 50 sacks--that's one more than Miami and three more than Blitzburgh. Why isn't anyone asking how Pittsburgh is going to protect Big Ben?

2. Lofa Tatupu
I've been singing his praises the entire season. He should have been the Defensive Rookie of the Year. At least he got some vindication by being named as Brian Urlacher's replacement in the Pro-Bowl. All he does is make play after play after play. The key to Pittsburgh's rush offense is not Detroit's erstwhile resident now returned home--Jerome "the short bus" Bettis. The key is Willie Parker. They love to run the toss with Willie Parker, but it's not going to work against Seattle. The main reason is Lofa Tatupu. Watch him blow it up the first time they run it and you'll know what I'm talking about.

3. Marcus Trufant & Andre Dyson
You know how good Trufant is or at least you should. What's overlooked is the talent of Andre Dyson. One publication I read this week called him the most underrated cover corner in the NFC. This is due, in part, to the fact that he missed several games because of injury. Hines Ward is good, and I love him for winning our Fantasy Football League Championship, but these guys can stop him--and Randle El.

4. Michael Boulware
Polamalu gets all the press (yes he's good, but also crazy. What is it about Pittsburgh defenders and mental instability?) but watch and see who makes more big plays. It just might be Seattle safety Michael Boulware. Last year as a rookie he made three game saving interceptions in the closing seconds of games. This year he has only gotten better. He intercepted Delhomme once (who didn't?) in the Conference Championship and I'm betting will do the same in the Superbowl.

Conclusion

The Steelers are good. I respect the team and especially the coach. Rothlisberger has been great in the playoffs. But remember, he is only in his second year. Does anyone really think that the Broncos defense really showed up in the AFC Championship? The Seattle defense will not be so uninspired.

Don't be surprised if Seattle goes up 14 points in the first quarter forcing the Steelers to throw the ball. The Seahawks will get to the QB and Big Ben will fade under the pressure and throw interceptions. Just like Jake Delhomme.

After writing this, I've almost talked myself into picking the Seahawks by more than 10 points.

Perhaps the biggest reason Seattle will win the Superbowl? Mike Holmgren. He has been to four and been on the winning side of three. Remind me, how many Superbowls has Coach Cowher won? Holmgren is the best play callers in the league and among the best overall coaches. His team and especially his offense will be prepared for anything and everything. For those of you who like good people to win the game, Mike Holmgren is one. He is a great family man who loves his wife and daughters and cares about his players. For Christmas he sent his wife on a humanitarian trip to Africa. I'm sure Mike would be there with her right now, if he weren't coaching the Seahawks in the Superbowl.

04 February 2006

Scenes from the Superbowl

I don't like David Horsey's politics, but it's hard to argue with his two Pulitzer Prizes--for those of you keeping track, that's two more than I have. I have to think that as a political cartoon artist, being assigned to cover the Super Bowl is nice. But then I remember the Super Bowl is in Detroit and not Miami.

Media Day
Apologies if the print on this first cartoon is too small to be read. Simply click on the title for a larger version. I would really like the Seattle-geography question were it not for the fact that I don't like the state of Oregon.



Tom Arnold

I blame Microsoft for giving Seattle the "wussy" image.



Seahawks Fan
Do we have to claim this guy? I think he watched one too many re-runs of 8 Mile on VH1.


Non-Sequitur Sidenote
Congrats to the BYU Men's Volleyball team for their win Friday over #1 ranked Pepperdine. Friday's game was also the debut for "Cala" a 20-year old phenom freshman from Cuba (of all places). I'm told he was the #1 recruit in the world. Asked why he chose BYU over UCLA and Pepperdine (among others) he said that the people were "nice." See, nice guys can finish first.

03 February 2006

Seahawk Stuff

I'm working up my own pre-game analysis, full of quotes from Jerramy Stevens and (what's his name?) Porter. Till then, here are a few of the best things I've read relating to "the game."

R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Hat-tip to Morgan from LA for this one. I've often wondered at professional athlete's complaints about a lack of respect. According to the ESPN poll my brother showed me this evening, everyone outside the Pacific Northwest (Washington, Oregon, Idaho) thinks the Steelers are going to win. This despite the fact that they are the AFC #6 seed and are playing the NFC #1 seed. You might guess that the Hawks to a man would be complaining about the lack of respect to every member of the press willing to listen to their rants. Not true. ESPN's Chuck Klosterman explains that this "respect complex" is endemic to the NFL. "As far as I can tell, there is not one player on either of these teams (or in the totality of the NFL) who has received the correct amount of respect." Though I think it's more of a pandemic afflicting all professional athletes, his analysis is entertaining.
Sometimes guys are underrated, and sometimes guys are overlooked -- but nobody has ever been respected accurately.

I keep hoping somebody like Antwaan Randle El will blow everybody's mind and say something along the lines of, "Well, we've had our ups and downs this season, but I sense that the rest of the league respects us an average amount. I feel comfortable with the level of our public esteem." Sadly, this never happens.

Earlier this week, someone told Jerome Bettis that certain Seattle players questioned whether he was truly 255 pounds. Bettis said, "They don't believe we are a good football team, either." Now, does Bettis truly perceive this as reality? I can't believe that he does. And I realize the conventional wisdom is that jocks use disrespect as motivation, but that can't be true, either; real people simply aren't stupid enough to trick themselves into insecurity every single week for five consecutive months.
I disagree, I think Jerry Porter really is that stupid.

More Klosterman
His bit on the NFL Experience and the 40 yard dash is great.
More alarmingly, I think a lot of these activities are fixed. They've built a little 40-yard FieldTurf runway (thanks again, Warren Moon!), and they let kids run the 40 and see what time they achieve. However, I think the clock is rigged, because everyone's time was way lower than logic would dictate. If Antwaan Randle El runs a 4.47, I highly doubt some chuberic 14-year-old wearing a "Family Guy" T-shirt is burning a 4.93.
Postmodern Superbowl
As a history major who intends to get an MA in American history, I have to include this last bit from Klosterman's post on Wednesday.
Everyone knows this is the first Super Bowl in the history of the Seahawks' franchise, and everyone knows Pittsburgh was the most dominant team of the 1970s. This being the case, it would seem as though history is on the Steelers' side. Which, of course, means absolutely nothing; it's not as if this game is going to be played by accredited historians (although that would be intriguing).
Fellow BYU students, could you imagine Dr. Mason, Dr. Murdock, Dr. Kimball or any other history professor playing in the game? And I'm beginning to think Klosterman must have studied history because in his Tuesday 6:06pm post he makes reference to post-modern philosopher/historian Jacques Derrida. Shouldn't ________ Porter feel bad that I know who Derrida is but I can't remember his first name?

Hawk Humor
You see, when the Seahawks give interviews, at least they try to be funny rather than ranting ad nauseum about respect, or rather, the lack thereof. For example, there's this piece from the Seattle Times about Steve Hutchinson aka best guard in the NFL. And no Marc, he didn't play for Dallas before he came to Seattle.
Still, the jokes keep coming at Hutchinson's expense.

"I know he went through this phase where he was slicking his hair back like he was some kind of movie star or sex symbol or something," fullback Mack Strong said. "That was pretty funny. He was putting that Vitalis in his hair to make it lay down."
Note that Vitalis is not the same as Cialis, though either way it's pretty funny.

Breakdown in Pass Protection
Then there's the special humor between a quarterback and his center.
Asked who had started the jousting of wits, Tobeck said, "He's got a big mouth. He called me a Hobbit in the newspaper."

It happened when Tobeck tweaked a knee during practice. As he was leaving the field that summer day, Hasselbeck went out of his way to tell a couple of reporters that he wasn't that concerned because, "Hobbits heal faster than humans."

"Just because I'm shorter than most lineman," Tobeck said Tuesday. "That's ridiculous."
No it's not. I have it on good authority from a Lord of the Rings expert that Hobbits do indeed heal faster than humans.

Does anyone care?
I love the Seahawks and on the chairlift at Alta Thursday morning with my brother I tried (and failed) to name every player on the fifty-three man roster, but this next example seems a little ridiculous.
Just to make sure there's no confusion about which team they are pulling for in Super Bowl XL, the mayor and city council in Washington, Pa., voted unanimously to change their city's name to Steeler, Pa., The Associated Press reported Friday.

The name change for the city of about 15,000 people south of Pittsburgh will last through Super Bowl Sunday.

"I know the folks in the state of Washington are rooting for the Seahawks, so we wanted to make sure everyone knows the city of Washington is fully in support of the Steelers," Mayor Kenneth J. Westcott told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
PS. I think I got to about forty, though after I finished with Jerhame Urban, Matt admitted that he wasn't counting like he'd promised.

Last but not least...
I know this post is getting over-long, but let me leave you with a couple parting links. First, a great article from David Locke on why the Hawks are great and will win on Sunday. Lastly there's this appropriately titled article from my favorite Seattle sports columnist, Steve Kelley.

"Thanks, you've been great."

01 February 2006

School Choice and Free Markets

Judging from the dearth of negative comments responding to my School Choice piece I'm guessing most (if not all) of my readership agrees vouchers are a good way to reform public education. Pro-union people, where are you?

I recall a conversation in high school with my erstwhile mentor regarding the merits of vouchers. He is intelligent and yet he opposed vouchers for several different reasons. For the life of me I can't remember a one of them. I'll try and recruit a response from him and post it here. If, indeed, it is possible to have an intellectually tenable position opposing vouchers.

The idea of vouchers appeals to me for several reasons. For one, it is a Republican idea (or at least a conservative one), and secondly it is one that benefits the underprivileged. It seems like every attack on Republican programs derives from Marx's call for class warfare. Social Security reform? An assault on the poor. War in Iraq? Fought only by poor, minority volunteers. Tax cuts? For the rich, of course. Vouchers? Here again, they benefit only the rich. These non-sequitur arguments find resonance because they are first expressed by a class of politicians who were born protesting Viet-Nam and Nixon and are then repeated by a media class educated in the revolutionary traditions of the 1960's.

The word "conservative" and phrase "benefits the underprivileged" may seem oxymoronic. It's a sign of the success of the aforementioned class warfare propaganda campaign that makes it so. According to Kevin A. Hassett of National Review, the truth is that since the election of King Conservative--Ronald Reagan--in 1980, "the proportion of the world's population living in extreme poverty has plummeted." This is due to the promotion of free markets that began to take off under Reagan. This success has not been limited to simply reducing poverty. Their (the poor) "relative share of resources has increased as well."
Looking farther back into history, it is possible to cobble together from the literature a measure of income inequality going back to around 1800, and the data present a similar, striking story. World income inequality generally increased from 1800 to about 1980; since then, it has dropped steadily--for the first time in recorded history.
What's even more striking is the market liberalization by formerly communist countries (the ones who really embraced Marx and his redistribution of income) and the success this has achieved.
This market liberalization is reflected in the Fraser Institute's Economic Freedom of the World Report, which measures the degree to which policies and institutions support personal choice, voluntary exchange, competition, and private-property rights. From 1981 to 2001, the world-wide average economic freedom score rose from 5.1 (out of 10) to 6.5. This increase in economic freedom led to the astonishing economic growth that has made almost everyone, especially the poor, better off. Just think of the change in circumstances over the past 20 years for the typical resident of China, India, or the former Soviet Union.
Okay, so here's the link. The same people who oppose free markets, oppose application of market principles to education. In both instances, the poor are the ones who pay the price.

Recently Jeb Bush gave a speech about the "Five Rules for School Reform" to the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. Responding to a recent decision by the Florida State Supreme Court which struck down vouchers, he outlined the keys to successful education reform. In support of his plan to use vouchers as a way to combat failing schools he cited an important study.
Researchers from the Manhattan Institute, Harvard and Cornell have independently studied Florida's private school choice programs. All three studies concluded that the threat of vouchers actually creates the greatest improvement in struggling schools. Given the choice between losing students and raising the quality of education, schools rise to the challenge and make tremendous gains.

The Florida Supreme Court recently struck down one of Florida's three choice programs on the grounds that it created competition for public schools -- the very competition that has helped drive improvement in Florida's schools. The ruling not only threatens the future of the 733 students in the Opportunity Scholarship program, but in varying degrees could also impact the 29,641 other low-income, minority and disabled students who currently use tuition vouchers.
This isn't a question of conservative vs. liberal or Republican vs. Democrat. These economic principles are not limited to a single ideology. That they seem to be so in this case is ludicrous. Anyone who has taken an entry level economics course at any institute of higher learning in any state in the union knows that these principles work. Opposing them because of ideological bias, interest group support (read: teachers unions) or plain ignorance is completely inexcusable

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