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Doce me faces voluntarem tuam quia Deus meus es tu

Sunday, October 31, 2004
One of the things about my leftist friends and professors that always appealled to me was their activism. Their bumper stickers, their rallies, their marches. I felt like I was missing out on something. Even now, with the most important election ever about to take place, there's not a lot to do. Tuscaloosa is a pretty strong Republican area, even for a college town. The state of Alabama is clearly going for W. So I will offer my own humble words for the few dozen people who read this site, in hopes that they might reverberate into a larger sphere.

The hour grows late...



Let's get to the point. American Digest offers Fifty Reasons to Vote for W. (Hat Tip: Instapundit) I've thought to myself and said to my friends that a lot things were at stake here. Taxes. Social security. Welfare. Drugs. Gay Marriage. Stem Cells. Federalism. Liberalism. Conservatism. I'm right. All of those things henge upon this election. Bush or Kerry, things will change as it pertains to all these issues.

But there is one thing, at this one moment, that trumps all. And that is to ensure that our towers never again crumble. Our mothers and fathers are safe to fly across country. Our children are safe in their schools, never having to fear that a murderous fanatic will attempt to honor God by shedding their blood. We are safe to go to Fenway Park and Soldier Field and the Orange Bowl and Bryant-Denny Stadium, because there is no fear of being blown to bits at the ticket stand. We will no longer fear overseas travel. Our men and women can work in Afghanistan and Iraq and Suden and Pakistan and never fear for their lives.

It may very well be simplisitc. But Osama bin Laden isn't mad about income redistribution. He's a filthy rich construction magnate. Those filthy nineteen highjackers didn't murder three thousand people because they were poor and disgruntled. They were middle-class. They had traveled from the desert to the cities of Europe. It mattered not. They came to kill. We must never yield in ensuring that no longer will these vile men and women blow up pizzeria and shoot up schoolchildren. No more, never ever again.

Is this blind rhetoric? Perhaps. No moreso than Senator Kerry's insistence that terrorism should be a mere nuisance, that a war he authorized is in the wrong place at the wrong time. His assertion that our noble efforts in Afghanistan were outcourced is as foolish and bullheaded as his own insistence that his political career be built upon a Vietnam experience that he publicly repudiated in 1971. He is a dangerous ideologue. His view of the world is muddled with his own uncertainties about right and wrong; he is lost in a quagmire of his own inconsistencies. He is blind in his refusal to acknowledge that for over two-hundred years, America and her values have been a force for good in the world. His push for the highest office in the land must be denied.

George W. Bush is not a perfect man. He has often left his supporters desiring more in his manner of speech. He has spent money recklessly. He has done little to restrict the growth of the federal bureacracy. His desire to make nice in Washington has failed for a plethora of reasons, and he would be advised to realize that getting along in the Beltway is not the same as dinner in Austin. Yet above all he understands that truth of our times. There are indeed enemies, and their grievances are not addressed in summits and conferences. We are not under attack because of Kyoto or Durban. We are under attack because we believe in liberty and equality, justice and mercy. George W. Bush knows that sometimes in this world, we must put down the pen and pick up the sword. Or daisy-cutter. And while every American desires peace, September 11 was a declaration of war. Osama bin Laden preached for jihad, and now he has one. George W. Bush answered the call of history, and he has led admirably. It is my honor to vote for his re-election.

Let me repeat. This is not about the economy or health-care. It is about no Beslans in Birmingham. It is about no more 9/11s. It is about no more Bali bombings, no more Khobar towers, no more USS Coles. The choice is ours to make.
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Friday, October 29, 2004
I opened my inbox this morning to find a letter from Barbara and Jenna Bush. For a fleeting moment, I thought "what if..." What if they found this site? What if they liked it? What if Texas lost to Texas A&M and Oklahoma State? What if Alabama won the rest of its games? What if UT and Alabama met in the Cotton Bowl? And they were there? And I was there? And we ... shook hands???

Oh, nevermind.

The letter they sent to the Bush/Cheney e-mail list was titled "Behind the Scenes with Barbara and Jenna Bush." If that's not a dangerous movie title, I don't know what is. And the ladies have scribbly signatures. Oh, I know, Dad. I'm one to talk.

So it's four days until the party starts. And by party, I mean lawyers. Lots of lawyers in Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania and Florida. Call it the Big Ten barrister convention, with Miami making a special guest apperance. I suppose I could spend this weekend doing my part to help the cause, but Alabama is so firmly in W's column that I fear the GOP faithful might get annoyed with the calls from the phone bank. Then again, the Crimson Tide has the weekend off, so we've less to be agitated about. A pro-Bush phone call might do some good.

Voter turnout is the buzz word this week. Record numbers, they say. I'm not sure I buy it. Most folks register to vote when they register for selective service. I know a healthy number of high school students who registered to vote when they were in government class. So how are there supposedly millions (and millions!) of previously unregistered voters between the ages of 18 and 24? Beats me. I suppose I should look at a few statistics before making to strong a judgement. Still it strikes me that a lot of outlets for registration exist, and I'm curious as to how so many young people slip through the cracks. I know if I was still eighteen, the sight of a crusty old Bruce Springsteen encouraging me to vote for John Kerry would have done the trick. I would have run to the nearest polling place, whether registered there or not, and pulled the lever or plucked the chad for George W. Bush.

Seriously, who's buying this? Forty-year olds who still drive their old Camaro and sing "Born to Run" like it's 1977? I understand there's a significant chunk of young America foolish enough to base their political values on the wit and wisdom of Conor Oberst, but thank goodness I haven't met them. If you are one of them, please don't tell me. I hate to lower my opinions of people.

This is the deal, and it's pretty simple. We're all entitled to an opinion. It's sort of a God-given kind of thing. And here in the States, you're even free to state that opinion. I, on the other hand, am free to cover my arms and begin to sing "Nobody Does It Better" just to drown you out. And by the by, what makes you (or me, I suppose) qualified to say anything? I'm out to be an educated elitist. Well maybe a little, but that's beside the point. One of our problems in this country is our refusal to be discerning and critical. Simply having the right to an opinion doesn't mean it deserves to be heard. The fact that Dave Matthews is on a stage does not give him particular political insight; it simply gives him an outlet. He can use it as he chooses, but it's wise to remember how he got to the dance. It sure wasn't his ability to discourse on all the nuances in Middle Eastern policy.

Last night a friend suggested the one benefit of a John Kerry presidency would be no more Michael Moore. It's almost enough to alter my vote, but at this point I'm convinced that Michael Moore is a disease that will not die. He is the venereal disease of the body politic. He stays with us forever. Like luggage.

Who knows, maybe a Kerry win will force the Vote for Change crowd to go back to making music. The Dixie Chicks might even lose their appeal with Hollywood. That could be a good thing or a bad thing. Natalie Maines would finally cease talking about threats to democracy (unless she wants to talk about North Korea or Iran, in which case I'm all ears), or the gals might find themselves back on the radio. And if there's one thing in my life I need less than a rabid politico screaming to me at four in the afternoon, it's turning on the radio to hear a hobbit-sized Texan singing "Goodbye Earl." It's almost enough to make me rush out and buy the Toby Keith greatest hits collection. Maybe with John Kerry things will go back to normal. As it is, they'll let me have my rock and roll, but they won't let me have my President. Then again, if normal means less politics and more rock to go along with a nuclear Iran, I'll take my chances with the music.

Let Eddie Vedder moan and wail. We've got mullahs to disarm.
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Wednesday, October 27, 2004
I wanted to quit. I tried to quit. I knew it was the best thing I could do, the only way to save my health and my sanity. I simply had to kick the habit. Call it a fast. Call it detox.


I tried to quit talk radio.

Not sports, mind you. I could never abandon Paul Finebaum or Dan Patrick. Not even NPR. I still check in with Terry Gross and Ira Glass, hoping to catch an interview with Bill Kristol or a new story by David Sedaris. But political talk radio? It's over, pal. Sean Hannity? Nice show, but forget it. Boortz? Nah, brah. Michael Savage. Savage indeed. O'Reilly? Ain't no way. And I've got far better things to do than listen to Dave Ramsey and Dr. Laura tell someone how to handle money or discipline a wayward bisexual goth stepchild.

I was so close, too. I could feel victory in my pale white fingers. Until yesterday. Deep in the heart of south Alabama, miles from anywhere, I felt alone. The stash of cds beneath my driver's seat had run thin. I had all I could take of Townes Van Zandt, Sondre Lerche and Wilco. Even Johnny Cash had let me down. With a wicked grin, I resigned myself to the radio, desperately scanning the am dial, hoping to find some peace of mind in Brewton, Alabama. And then I heard a voice:

...talent on loan from God...


The Maha Rushie! Alive and well in the hurricane-whipped wasteland of Conecuh County. I was a new man, full of old habits and pounding the steering wheel at the mention of John Edwards. I felt good.

(edit: Oh shut up, Natalie. Just shut up.)

In truth, I am looking to avoid political talk radio for the foreseeable future. Certainly until after the election. I might make exceptions to Rush, simply because there are no callers. Listening to Hannity and Boortz (bless them both) handle callers is nauseating. It's either the seminar caller liberal or the amen corner conservative. I ain't got time for that. Remember P.J. O'Rourke in the Atlantic? Really, who wants to hear the proverbial belligerent drunk pound the table at 11 am?

Not I.

(I realize that Hugh Hewitt and Laura Ingraham are notable, praiseworthy exceptions, but we don't get them here in Dixie)

So I'm tired. Tired of politics. I don't care if it's true or not. For the next week or so, I am officially tired of Swift Boats. I'm tired of being told to Move On or Act Now or whatever. I'm tired of George Soros and Ann Coulter and Michael Moore and Tucker Carlson. And boy howdy, am I tired of Jon Stewart. I remember when he used to be funny. I think I was in seventh grade.

Oh, I'll still fight for my guy. I want W to win more than I want the University of Alabama to win a national championship. In any sport. I'll do my best to harass everyone I know with pro-W e-mails and instant messages over the next six days, but I'm just ready to get this thing finished.

Speaking of fighting for your guy, Andrew Sullivan has shocked no one by coming out in favor of John Kerry. Ann Althouse and Meghan McArdle aren't persuaded. Neither am I. You shouldn't be either. It's disappointing to see a great writer slowly but surely become the most erratic mind in the Beltway. Disappointing, indeed.

Jeffrey Overstreet isn't impressed with either candidate, but man Jeff - are you picky enough? Kidding aside, I agree with all of his wishlist, but politics has a lot in common with a middle-class Christmas list. Santa can only bring you so much, so you better pick the important stuff. Anything below that is something you fight for on your on. When you were ten, you raked some leaves or cut the neighbor's grass. In politics, you write some letters, raise some money and - gollygeewhizwhatacrazyidea - build some relationships with your neighbors and work to make your community a better place.

I wish my President were perfect, too. Instead he's out there spending money like a drunken sailor. He's mangled the English language in a way that would make Snoop Dogg proud. I'm not sure how he's done on the environment, because it's pretty hard to find good, impartial information. I wish he were a bit more open and willing to admit some mistakes, though to hear Andrew talk, we should expect a Jimmy Swaggart-style apology. But simply put, we had three thousand people murdered at the hands of a global networks of Islamic madmen three years ago. W has made it his mission in life to disrupt that network, whether in a cave or a city, a country or a remote desert. The bad guys may try again, but Bush and Cheney have made it priority number one to ensure that America is safe and democracy is free to flourish. My opinion may shift in the years ahead, but next Tuesday, I'd vote for Barney Frank in a mini-skirt if he made that promise.

Only one team in this race has offered that pledge, and Bush/Cheney is the only team that deserves our vote.
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Monday, October 25, 2004
It's nothing new to me when I learn that a band is left-leaning. I'm adjusted to it. Call it comfortably numb. Aaron Copland and Woody Guthrie sympathized with the Soviets. Joan Baez and John Lennon thought Vietnam was peaceful oasis. The Clash had a support for Daniel Ortega that would make John Kerry jealous. I could crash my bandwith rattling off the names of bands and artists that I love who find their political home in the same camp with Mao and Lenin, to say nothing of Bill and Hillary.

So why am I just irate this year?

Because they just won't shut up. It's not that Springsteen doesn't have a right to his opinion. He certainly does. I'm not advocating Michael Stipe be thrown in jail, though the level of mediocrity in R.E.M.'s recent work has bordered on criminal. No, all I want is a return to good music, whatever its political leanings. Springsteen's Nebraska had something to say about the working class in Jersey during the late 70s and early 80s. I may not agree with his economic theories (seriously Bruce, read Friedman. Please? Humor me.), but what he said was artful. It was creative and even if you were a true-blue Reaganite, you could enjoy the record.

Well no more, apparently, because Carole King has elevated "So Far Away" to some obscene level of political discourse. And for what? So that some Volvlo-driving, bearded hippie can have his cake and eat it, too? Well forget that, because when I hear Chris Martin sing about a broken heart, that ain't just a Democrat who's hurting, it's all of us. Arists are free to be political, but if these clowns spend eight days a week shilling for John Kerry or Ralph Nader, there's an impression left. It says no matter how much you love us, no matter how powerful you find our art, no matter what it means to you, if you don't vote for our guy, then you're one of them.

That's why I wish things were like they used to be. There were Democrats who hated KISS and there were Republicans who loved them. Vice versa. It was just rock and roll. Everyone knew James Taylor wasn't into Nixon, but was the rancor so vile that a Republican felt uncomfortable? I doubt that very much. But as it is, these people just won't shut up and so if you're not exactly like them - if you don't repent of your SUV and your handgun and your low taxes and your (gasp!) willingness to support the war - then you're on the outside. You don't belong in their world. You follow that scoundrel, that monkey, that nincompoop cowboy. Him with the stupid grin. How could you? I mean, I'm Linda Ronstadt, that Michael Moore is a p-a-t-r-i-o-t. Don't you know? You poor sap out in flyover country.

What Linda doesn't know is that the PTA members in the crowd didn't pay fifty bucks to hear about Michael Moore. They came out to hear "Blue Bayou." I can accept Coldplay's fair-trade talk, but if the rhetoric about Bush causing the end of the world doesn't trail off, then my money sure as heck will.

Just sing. Make me think. Make me cry. Make me remember. Just don't berate me. My guy's not a criminal. I don't think yours is, either. Persuade me. I'll accept the invitation.

I'd like to think James Taylor would, too.
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Sunday, October 24, 2004
So now for a late weekend update.

You know, Ron Zook gets a bad rap, but frat party or no, there's never excuse for losing to a 1-5 Mississippi State team. Congratulations, Coach Croom. You sure earned it.

And Mike Shula? So close, so close. You're almost there, Coach. You've got us believing. You've got three games left to show us something. We'll take two out of those final three. You can even pick which ones you win. Just do it...please?

I came back from a weekend in the Magnolia State for church in Tuscaloosa, some NFL watching, some Target, and some record selling and buying. Sold lots of old generic hardcore. Picked up the new Sufjan Stevens and the Innocence Mission's Befriended. Good pickups, and it didn't cost a dime.

I see that our man Rick is talking some punk rock nostalgia. Yeah, I didn't agree with Greg Graffin either, and still don't. But I'll tell you this much. When we were seventeen, rolling the windows down and singing along to "I Want to Conquer the World" was where it was at.

But I digress. Where was I? Oh, that's right. Health care. We've been having a go at it over at Writing to Understand. Look, I think it's terrible that some people don't have health care. As a Christian and an American, I feel for these folks. But I have to ask, as lovingly as I know how, whose fault is it? Is this the result of some freak act of nature; a hurricane, a tornado, an earthquake? Nope. Economists were saying twenty years ago that the manufacturing sector was in trouble. It shouldn't come as a surprise that technology and globalization finally caught up with some (no doubt) good-hearted folks in Ohio. My heart goes out to them, but does their plight warrant increased taxes on middle-class workers and high medical costs? It's not an easy thing, but the answer is emphatically no. Let the market loose to work its course. Let the Church rise up to care for the poor and needy, but keep the government out of our pockets and our doctor's offices. If someone can provide me with a scriptural argument in favor of high confiscatory taxes and weak medical care a la Canada and Great Britain, I'm all ears. Until then, I just don't find the idea to be tenable, or even morally acceptable.

On the crunchy con front, I noticed more city-dwellers with Kerry/Edwards signs in their yards. What's the deal? Maybe Rod Dreher can explore the idea when his crunchy con book comes out. Why is is that it's always liberals who want to keep the city alive? Republicans are the first one to flock to the suburbs, it seems. I wish that wasn't the case. I'm not knocking suburban life. For the most part, I've always lived in a suburban or slightly rural area. But you can't just abandon the city to the wolves. What is it about the GOP sensibility that puts us out in the 'burbs while the NPR crowd has the cool bugalow downtown? I wish I knew, because I'm afraid I'll find myself with some left-wing neighbors in a few years.

More later. I'll try to get into the Vote for Change tour and why the whole thing makes me long for KISS and Alice Cooper. Or Bach. Or Miles Davis. Or Jelly Roll Morton. Or Blind Lemon Jefferson. Or anyone but Natalie Maines and Eddie Vedder. I'll get to it, I promise.

Later ya'll.
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Thursday, October 21, 2004
Blogging has been light the past forty-eight hours, what with the Greatest ALCS Ever and lots of hanging out with my friends and such. Tonight we're off to see Damien Jurado and Richard Buckner in Birmingham. Should be a good time.

I'm thinking of altering the blog format, however slightly. That would mean fewer, but longer posts. I would typically post once a day, something along the length of regular column. It would be less blog and more Bleat. That's the plan, anyway. I'll try to enact it over the next week or so.

Thanks to all the new readers leaving comments and sending e-mails. I'll try to update the blogroll soon with all your new links. I greatly appreciate it. Please keep sending the correspondence, because I love e-mail.
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Tuesday, October 19, 2004
I'm about to begin reading David Brooks' Bobos in Paradise. I've been meaning to read it ever since the initial controversy over crunchy conservatism. (see here and here)

My renewed interest in the book was prompted by my daily drives through downtown Tuscaloosa. Just off campus, there are blocks and blocks of beautiful restored old homes. Many of these homes are very expensive, the driveways filled with Audis and Volvos. None of my friends live in these neighborhoods, but a quick drive through the area will demonstrate that these houses are unique and creative, if not downright cool. What is noticable, though not a surprise, is the presence of a Kerry/Edwards sign in most of the yards. A quick drive out to the subdivisions built around golf courses with expansive lots on Lake Tuscaloosa will show you where the Bushies live. I'm not sure what I think of this, but it's not all that encouraging, frankly. Recall this Peter Kreeft article about the politics of architecture and design.

I'm quite sure there is no easy solution here, but I think it would help if liberals realized they had not cornered the market on authenticity. Likewise, conservatives should acknowledge that a refusal to live in the suburbs or wave the banner for Wal-Mart is not an automatic sign of pretentiousness or socialism.
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Monday, October 18, 2004
Do you know who John Kerry is?

I don’t, and it’s fair to say that the voters of American don’t. He won’t be elected because he is an enigma.

People like a sort of mystery, like Gary Cooper or John Wayne. Maureen O’Hara never knew what the Duke was thinking when he looked her in the eye, but when a gun was drawn, she knew.

John Kerry’s not John Wayne. He’s not a cowboy. He’s the coward newspaper editor who talks a big game about running the bandits out of town, but always gives his 15% to the robbers every Friday.

The title of a cowboy is supposed to be an insult. Forget it. The French never liked cowboy movies, anyway. Call George W. Bush a cowboy all you want. It was Seth Bullock who finally took up the call to law and order and made Deadwood, South Dakota a safe place. If John Kerry was in charge, he’d still be sitting at the bar thinking what to do, while honest people were shot dead in the street.

It’s graphic, but it’s really that simple.

We can elect the cowboy who might talk straight and crass, but doggone it, the streets are clear and we’ll have a little law around here. Or we can elect the newspaper editor, who’ll wax poetic while the bullets fly and we’re left to cower in fear.

Take your pick…I’ve already made mine.

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Saturday, October 16, 2004
Serious blogging will resume later this weekend. Perhaps tonight, more likely late tomorrow night. So far this weekend I've experienced a feast of grilled pork at Dreamland. Serious barbecue fans will understand the significance of night spent in Jerusalem Heights. In a little while, it's off to see the University of Alabama take on the University of Southern Mississippi.

In the meantime, check out Mark Steyn on national health care.
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Friday, October 15, 2004
I mentioned below that I feel there will be some degree of Republican infighting after the November elections. Yet I think all Republicans, conservatives and people of good taste can unite in their refutation of John Kerry's aim at Mary Cheney.

Dick Cheney has never hid his daughters from public view. Both of his daughters are well-acknowledged, as is their sexuality; one, of course, the married mother of two, the other being a lesbian. I'm sure it's news to less-informed voters, but most voters are aware of this fact.


I don't know how this will play on the coast, in the big urban areas. I do know that in the South and Midwest - flyover country - this is something we just don't do. Whatever our opinion of our neighbor's children, we know that only the crass and crude will discuss it. Were he so inclined, John Kerry could have made a strong liberal argument in favor of gay rights without mentioning Mary Cheney. It was a needless act, because it is no one's business. I am willing to believe that John Kerry is such a clueless buffoon that he doesn't understand the need to apologize, because he has been an uppercrust liberal for so long, he doesn't understand the way the rest of the country thinks. Perhaps this is why Andrew Sullivan doesn't understand the furor. John and Elizabeth Edwards, however, should know better. Both of are from modest red-state backgrounds, and both should know that polite people take their stands without dragging their opponents family into the matter, unless the family member has committed an unpardonable act of slander. Mary Cheney did no such thing.

John Edwards was always known as an ambulance chasing attorney, a back-slappin' good ole boy. He showed himself to be a politician without class when he declared, with a sick confidence that would make Benny Hinn blush, that the lame will walk again should we inaugarate John Kerry. His wife exposed herself as a classless woman when she accused Lynne Cheney of feeling shame towards her daughter. No Mrs. Edwards, it is you who should feel shame. It is you and your husband and that disgraceful running mate and his gin-obsessed wife who should shame. You have had every opportunity to run a fierce, but clean political campaign, and that opportunity has been squandered at every turn.

The Democrats should be embarrassed. The fact that they are not reflects most poorly on their character.

I imagine if Dick and Lynne Cheney could speak their minds to the Kerrys and the Edwards (and they may yet have their chance), their words would make Vice President Cheney's remarks to Senator Leahy sound like a Baptist benediction.

One could certainly sypmathize...

So how deep a hole has John Kerry dug? If he were in Texas, he might have struck oil by this point. Despite Andrew Sullivan's best wishes, no one is going to vote for John Kerry because the Vice President has a gay daughter. A few backwoods bigots may stay home, but I do stress, a few. The rest of the country will have their fears confirmed; that John Kerry is not a good man. Theresa's new gin and raisin home remedy will likley confirm her own weirdness to millions of normal women around the country. Even if her little recipe works, it's just not something that's said in public, and the heartland understands that. Same as most folks have heard that a few shots of whiskey cure a common cold, no one wants to hear the First Lady suggest Jim Beam as a cure for the sniffles. John Edwards' audition for the TBN circuit will reinforce the image of a snake-oil peddler, like the crude Bible salesman from O Brother! Where Art Thou? And Elizabeth Edwards? Middle-class women hear enough of that gossip at the beauty salon. They don't need anymore of it from the potential Vice President's wife.

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In reference to the looming GOP Civil War, the idea gained steam over the summer thanks to Andrew Sullivan. Long-time readers of this site, all six of you, will recall that I regard Sullivan as ocassionaly brilliant, usually erratic. That said, he's definitely on to something. The major figures of the GOP, excluding the President and the Vice President, have widely diverse views on issues like abortion, stem cells and gay marriage. Some are stronger on tax cuts, others care about the deficit. Even the national security crowd has split opinions.

So the question I'm going to explore in my own crazed fashion is - who do we trust? Whom do we support and why? What are the consequences? What is our role outside the political arena? I'm not promising a brilliant thesis, but I'm hoping for something to think on. Hang around and let's see what we find.
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Thursday, October 14, 2004
War's brewing...

There's been talk, scuttlebutt, if you will, about the looming Republican civil war. If Bush loses or if Bush wins, there's a fight on the way. The hawks will want to direct policy, the social moderates want their claim, the social conservatives want a share, and everyone wants to cut some taxes. There will be a fight to lay claim to the Bush legacy, and with a loss, an even greater fight to redefine the GOP in time for the 2006 midterms and the 2008 Presidential election.

It's been said that evangelical voters have become the bedrock of the Republican party. I believe that Christians have a higher calling, something above being just another voting bloc. This election should not hinge upon the turnout among evangelical voters. John Kerry should not think he can turn Christians away from the Bush ticket because the Vice President's daughter is lesbian. The GOP should not think Christians are so gullible as to believe that the election of John Kerry will lead to banned Bibles.

Something is wrong.

The Church should not be an interest group. Yet when the civil war takes shape, we'll be caught in the middle. Who do we support? Rudy Guliani or Bill Frist? Rick Santorum or John McCain?

These are hard questions, and the answers aren't easy. I don't pretend to know it all, and neither should you.

Consider this an introduction. Stay tuned...
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Rick at Stones Cry Out is remembering the fallen at Beslan.

If you're not mad, you're not paying attention.
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My homeboy Eric G. Mann has a new editorial up in the Crimson White, the student newspaper at the University of Alabama. You can find the article here.

Eric also pointed me to Blue Ridge Blog, a wonderful photo blog from the North Carolina mountains. While you're checking photo blogs, check out Fletch over at Austin Country Limits. Fletch, you may remember, was the main man behind Smoky Blog.

Both blogs are dangerous, sort of like reading On the Road. It makes you want to quit your job and leave town for the open skies of some unknown place.

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Over at the Kerry Spot, Jim Geraghty is detailing his appearance on Hugh Hewitt's radio show. Hewitt has always been strongly optimistic about the President's chances in November. Geraghty had been slightly more cautious, but Hewitt's comments on the polling date used by the media have shed a little light on the matter.

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Mark Roberts just concluded his lengthy series on the inclusiveness of Jesus. The series is a tremendous read; very thought-provoking. Today's update is the introduction to a series on the divinity of Jesus. No doubt it will be well worth the read.
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I didn't watch the debate last night, but John Mark Reynolds did.

edit: I took the quote from Reynolds' blog down. Not out of pressure or shame, but simply because while I agree with Reynolds, his wording is more forceful than I often care to be. Call me a nuanced conservative...

I know I had some mild criticisms of some evangelical leaders in this post. Of course I stand by that - I have a 72 hour statute of limitations on flip-flopping - but I like Reynolds' aim. Explaining the tenuous moral nature of the welfare system and the war on drugs isn't done in a few sentences. Explaining John Kerry's horrific record on abortion isn't quite as nuanced as he would have you believe.
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Wednesday, October 13, 2004
If you were pointed to this site by the esteemable Hugh Hewitt, thank you for stopping by. Please drop me an e-mail or leave a comment if you like what you see. Heck, if you don't like it, let me know.

More blogging coming later tonight, I assure you.
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Tuesday, October 12, 2004
John Edwards, faith healer. You know, he always did remind me of a bad tv preacher. Perhaps when he loses the election in three weeks, he can go to work for TBN.

In all seriousness, Little John's closing remarks in the VP debate reminded me of a bad youth speaker pleading with me to come talk to a counselor about throwing away my secular cds and getting a haircut. That says a lot about John Edwards and none of it is good.
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Ivan Maisel is busy defending the USC Trojans:

For USC fans, these are the good old days. The Trojans have won 14 in a row, the most since John Robinson's first two teams won 15 straight in 1976-77. And if you look down on the Pac-10, take this: USC is 6-1 against top-10 teams under Pete Carroll.


That's great, Ivan, but, save for California, the rest of the Pac-10 has been pretty worthless the past few years.
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Man, what was up with the Braves last night? That loss to Houston was just ugly.
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Robbie George is offering his piece on Kerry's performance on the stem-cell question in Debate #2.
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Evangelical Outpost is up with a post on the voting habits of current American novelists. Of course it's no shock that the majority of the literary world is pro-Kerry, but quote like these are just over the top:

“I'm voting for Kerry, because I have a brain and so does he.” – Amy Tan


I've been meaning to do a longer post on the arts and politics, with particular focus on the Vote for Change tour. This has sort of renewed my motivation for doing so, and you can expect the longer article later in the week.
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Clay Calhoun points me to this WorldNetDaily article regarding biblical principles and voting. The thrust here is the open letter signed by 71 Evangelical leaders. I agree with most of the letter, with a few exceptions.

First, there's this point about the environment:

6. Natural resources: God put human beings on the earth to "subdue it" and to "have dominion" over the animals (Gen. 1:28). We value the beauty of the natural world which God created, and we believe that we are called to be responsible stewards who protect God's creation while we use it wisely and also seek to safeguard its usefulness for future generations. The Bible does not view "untouched nature" as the ideal state of the earth, but expects human beings to develop and use the earth’s resources wisely for mankind’s needs (Gen. 1:28; 2:15; 9:3; 1 Tim. 4:4). In fact, we believe that public policy based on the idealism of 'untouched nature" hinders wise development of the earth’s resources and thus contributes to famine, starvation, disease, and death among the poor. We believe the ethical choice is for candidates who will allow resources to be developed and used wisely, not for candidates indebted to environmental theories that oppose nearly all economic development in our nation and around the world.


Of course I agree that Christians have a responsibility to stewardship of the land, but does anyone believe that the GOP is known for utilizing natural resources "wisely for mankind's needs?" Maybe - maybe - on a federal level, but certainly not on a state or local level. Birmingham is chock full of shopping developments that weren't needed for anything other than the additional tax dollars to be misused by local governments. I understand the point of the letter, and I agree with its spirit, but it is foolishly naive to believe that the GOP, in its current state, will be proper stewards of the environment on a local level. A quick listen to Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh will prove my point, and I say that as a faithful ditto-head.

Secondly, the letter never deals with economic issues. I quickly acknowledge that issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion have an immediate moral component, but certainly tax policy, welfare and the war on crime and drugs can have a very strong effect, either positive or negative, on the local community. It's fair to say that certain welfare policies have devastated the inner city, making it feasible, if not profitable, to raise fatherless children. The war on drugs has offered poor Americans, particularly minorities, an opportunity to "get rich or die trying" while peddling heroin and cocaine to teenagers. Is drug-pushing moral and acceptable? By no means, but neither is the bull-headed approach to drug enforcement that has been practiced by the federal government the past three decades. I don't mean to make race an issue, but white, suburban evangelicals are overlooking some important factors in the nation's current climate. The country is pretty fairly divided on the point of abortion. Hugh Hewitt said as much in If It's Not Close They Can't Cheat, suggesting that pro-lifers work quietly and prayerfully to change attitudes and legislation concerning abortion. I think welfare and tax policy are different matters; people are open to ideas that work. Even if abortion remained perfectly legal in all fifty states, tax policies that rewarded marriage and discouraged illegitimacy would likely reduce abortion rates in the long term, and even the pro-choice voter should agree that creating an environment where abortion is unnecessary would be a good thing.

Please don't misunderstand me; I do not oppose what is being said by these Evangelical leaders. I simply think they are not going far enough in demonstrating the moral component of other issues, as well as understanding how so many political matters are tied together. There are other issues on which they are silent - school vouchers? - but these are the ones that I feel carry the most weight. A comprehensive Christian worldview, as advocated by folks like Al Mohler, can't ignore the issues of taxes, welfare, crime, drugs and education. We do so at our peril.
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Monday, October 11, 2004
I own a modest portion of stock in SouthTrust Bank, which was recently acquired by Wachovia. On Friday, I recieved my copy of the new shareholder's report, the most recent since the acquisition.

I don't think there was anything confidential in the report, but it was mailed to me a in a black plastic bag, sort of like the bags you see covering up porn behind the counter at the gas station. When I opened my mailbox I thought that the previous tenant had a leftover porn subscription. Thankfully, it was just SouthTrust telling me about the new business arrangment. No porn, no worries.
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Ann Althouse is discussing the new Bob Dylan autobiography. It sounds interesting enough. I may need to investigate a purchase, or at least check out the Tuscaloosa Public Library.
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Sunday, October 10, 2004
Here's a few random thoughts on the weekend:

- Watched the debate with some friends on Friday night. I thought GWB did far better than expected. John Kerry is an able debater, but a colossal bore as a human being. I know Democrats will vote for him because they want their side to win, but does anyone really like John Kerry's candidacy?

- Alabama won yesterday. This is a good thing.

- The Braves won again today. This is a good thing.

- Tennessee won yesterday. Not a good thing.

- Florida lost. While I'm rather indifferent to UF's record, you have to feel sorry for Ron Zook. The guy can't seem to catch a break.
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At church this morning, the pastor spoke on King David's reflections in Pslam 71. David is here an old man, reflecting upon his own life. The passage reminded me of T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." David was writing as a man, however flawed, whose ultimate faith was in a sovereign God. Prufrock's lament is that of the modern man, with no objectivity and no faith. He has lived in the world that has rejected C.S. Lewis' Tao, and there is an aire of despair and regret in his words.

I found the juxtaposition to be rather interesting.
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Friday, October 08, 2004
I was talking to my father today about the way blogging works, its uses and how it changes the media. Hugh Hewitt sums it up in this post (scroll down). Money quote:

"Every single internet user so inclined, can be more informed than every single reporter/analyst four years ago."


I've said before that I hope we can work to change the mainstream media. My hope is that your everyday citizen can pick up his morning paper, her weeky issue of Newsweek or sit down to the evening network news and get a clear picture of the world. That reality may yet be before us, but as for now, the intelligent man who makes even the faintest effort can have the day's events before him.
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Thursday, October 07, 2004
This has been linked elsewhere, but for my own humble audience, please check out this post on Deterrence over at Eject!Eject!Eject!. (Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt and Kris)
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I've mentioned that Mark Roberts has been posting an ongoing series on the inclusiveness of Jesus. His most recent posting have focused on the issue of homosexuality and the church. Thought-provoking stuff, well-grounded in Scripture. I highly recommend it.
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John-John has been making a lot of noise about the Battle of Tora-Bora, claiming that we had UBL in our fingers and let him slip away. This notion must be polling well, becaue the Kedwards campaign seems to be unwilling to let it go.

Our man Rick over at Stones Cry Out has the goods on the story.

I'm not a military expert, but given the terrain of Afghanistan and the shaky political situation in the rural areas of both Afghanistan and Pakistan, why criticize? Kerry and Edwards should know better. These were, and are, Special Forces missions. Details are always murky, and John-John just doesn't seem to be willing to let it go.

And on the topic of the Dems and the war, how dumb are these people? Edwards repeated over and over again that it was Al-Qaeda, not Iraq, that attacked us on September 11. True enough, but is Edwards so foolish to believe that Al-Qaeda is a lone operation? Well, Edwards might be, but if Kerry has worked in the Senate for twenty years and actually believes such non-sense, he has no authority to even come near a presidential campaign. This is serious stuff we're dealing with, and these two dancing bears want to play politics.

I read a blog a while back, and I honestly can't remember where, that compared terrorism, particularly the Islamist strain, to organized crime. What an astute observation. There may be infighting and disagreements, but you can't take out one faction without focusing on all of them. Would that the Democrats understood this point. There is just a mountain of evidence linking Al-Qaeda to Egyptian Islamic Jihad to Hezbollah to Hamas to Palesitinian Islamic Jihad to Syria to Iraq to Sudan to UBL to Hezbollah to Iran to North Korea to Pakistan. I'm not an expert here, but with a few clicks of the mouse and a google search, I can find all this out. Even the German press admits as much, because a chunk of this information has come out in German and Italian court cases. What's more, if this much comes out in public, what else is being held classified in other court documents and grand jury proceedings?

This is all terribly frustrating to someone who would like to see an honest, open presidential campaign that focused on domestic issues while commonly acknowledging the general success of the global war on terrorism. The Kerry/Edwards strategy of attacking the war is cynical demagoguery at its absolute worst. These two are wholly unfit to lead this nation, and I pray that the voters of his country will come to that understanding.

And here's hoping that GWB nails Kerry to the wall on this point tomorrow night in St. Louis.
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Over at ESPN.com, Pat Forde has his latest intallment of the Forde-Yard Dash. Among other topics, Forde comments on the troubles of a few college coaches, Mike Shula among them. Concerning the woeful Alabama coach, Forde says:

Shula has legitimate reasons to expect patience -- but patience is never in great supply in Bama, and it won't be if this season goes into free-fall.


I just love how the national media enjoys painting Alabama fans as impatient. I'll admit that we are, but only to an extent. I think Alabama fans were (and remain) willing to give Mike Shula a lot of room to improve. Sanctions hurt (Thanks Phil!) and it's hard to win with a lot of young players. We can tolerate respectable losses. What we can't tolerate are bone-headed coaching decisions. Forde doesn't seem to understand that. Then again, he probably doesn't want to understand. It's so much easier (and oh-so fun) to paint the Bama nation as a bunch of impatient rednecks longing for Coach Bryant to rise up from the grave and revive the program.

Everyone's very aware that Bryant is dead. All we're looking for is a respectable coaching job. I'm not asking for an SEC championship every year. I didn't expect Alabama to be looking for a chance to go to Atlanta this year. I was hoping that we might be strong enough to play a spoiler role in the SEC West. After two SEC losses, that option is about to go out the window.

And with a loss to Kentucky on the road this Saturday, so might a winning season.
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I just saw a commercial for Arby's new salads. The deal here is that the salads are good. Just as good, in fact, as the salads at a "nice, sit-down restaurant." And the catch is that unlike those places, at Arby's you don't need a reservation.

I'm nit-picking here, but where do you need a reservation to get a salad with bacon on it? Chili's? O'Charley's? Outback? Please. I'm not a dining expert, but I really loathe this "hey we're just as cheap and just as good!" Faux-populism is so lame.

Rant over. Move along.
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Wednesday, October 06, 2004
I realize I'm just a lowly blogger attacking a well-known pundit in Andrew Sullivan, but I'd like to offer an amen to Jim Geraghty over at the Kerry Spot. In this post (scroll down a bit), he cites Andrew Sullivan giving credence to the online polling data. Sullivan suggests that the polls "might" have been hijacked.

Right. The polls "might" have been hijacked and the Patriots "might" have won the Super Bowl.

Non-partisan is one thing, but naive is something else.
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I don't have much in the way of post-debate analysis; check the links to the right for a varied list of opinion.

I would like to comment on something Andrew Sullivan has talked a lot about lately. It's a favorite of Sullivan to suggest that the Bush camp is refusing to take responsibility for any failures in Iraq. What does he want? Should W resign? Should Rumsfeld resign over Abu Ghraib? Please. Perhaps there was a time for nuance, and if there were, it took place many months ago. Andrew is fond of challenging Bush supporters (Mark Steyn, Hugh Hewitt) for failing to acknowledge any shortcomings on behalf of the administration. I admire Andrew's ability to not lose himself in the election, but then again, he's got another domestic dog in this fight - gay marriage. What he doesn't understand - perhaps he doesn't want to? - is that we're in the fourth quarter of this election. The time for nuance and regret is over. W would gain nothing by saying he screwed up in Fallujah in April. (Then again, who's to say he really did screw up? The facts on the ground at the time may have supported Bush's conclustion)

Right now the Packers are 1-3. Maybe they'll make the playoffs, maybe they won't. Now is the time for talk in the locker room; the coaches and players can try to sort some things out. But if they do make the playoffs, and if they're looking at a conference championship game against Philadelphia, it's time to shut up. Quit bickering, quit worrying about what might have been. You can't question why you lost those early games. You either want to win or you want to lose. No turning back, no regrets. You fight with everything you have until it's over.

The time for Bush to come to terms with his shortcomings is over. Sullivan is big on nuance, and I'm not going to fault him for that on his own merits. Certainly Bush has made mistakes but now is not the time for an Oprah moment. Perhaps this is something in the American character that Sullivan still fails to grasp. It's the fourth quarter, and you can't worry about a fumble in the first quarter. It might cost you the game, it might not. Leave that for the pundits to decide. Bush has to play to win, play as though everything he has is on the line.

In fact, everything really is on the line.

Perhaps if Andrew realized that, he might understand why the conservative faithful aren't waltzing around the nuances. We're playing to win.
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Tuesday, October 05, 2004
I'm not going into live-blogging on the Cheney/Edwards debate, but I'll say this: Man, is Edwards a wimp. He's the primadona rich boy who always got the girl but never lasted a minute in a fight, either physical or verbal. Just unbelievable. Cheney is eating him alive.
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More debunking of Michael Moore is taking place at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. (Hat tip to the Corner.) Likewise, check out Dave Kopel's 59 Deceits in Farenheit 911.

The term "liar" has been tossed around a lot during the past two years, but I cannot think of another term more appropriate for Michael Moore.

Scratch that. I can think of several appropriate terms for Michael Moore, but none that I'll repeat in a family-friendly environment.
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There's a new list of links on the right side of the page. Lots of good stuff there, whether you agree with it or not. Check 'em early, check 'em often.

Meanwhile, here's some music I've been listening to lately:

Tift Merritt - Tambourine

The Thrills - So Much for the City
Over the Rhine - Good Dog Bad Dog
Steve Earle - Guitar Town
Rachel's - Music for Egon Schiele

Totally random assortment, I know. Just something to throw out there for consumption.
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Via Andrew Sullivan, this is a great read on Christopher Hitchens.
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Concerning Iran, Michael Ledeen has more on the subject. His words are increasing strong, and I fear the need for change is increasingly grave.
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My homeboy Eric has a blog. You should read it more often and he should update more often.

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Mark Roberts has posted a long series of the Inclusiveness and Exclusiveness of both Jesus and the Early Church. Very thought-provoking work, and the next installments are about to tackle a very hot button topic.
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Dr. John Mark Reynolds is handing out Uncle Tony awards in honor of Bill Clinton's preacher pal Tony Campolo. Hilarious. I can't wait to see who wins.

Reynolds is offering double points for the "young people are turned off by Republican politics in church" angle. I've always disliked that story, too, but as Hugh Hewitt mentioned in his book In But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition, some preachers - whether conservative or liberal - need to stick to the Scripture and not the party platform of the Dems or the GOP. I'm not sure what things are like outside the Bible Belt of the Southeast. I do know that a quick glance at Sunday morning church servics on local tv - normal evangelical churches, not tv preachers - will often display well-meaning preachers offering political commentary that is off the mark. To be fair, though, I imagine the butcher of political ideology would be far worse in a liberal environment. Like it or not, the current liberal dogma in America is full of nuance (I can think of other, less family-friendly words to describe it) and far more susceptible to misinterprestation.
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Last week I mentioned some of the revolts taking place in Iran. Jonah Goldberg's latest syndicated column tackles the subject.

I reazlie the Bush camp doesn't want to provoke another war three weeks from an election, but I simply can't understand why the President won't take stronger leadership. Jonah mentions - rightly, I might add - that we invaded Iraq because it was the weakest link in the Axis of Evil. It was our best chance for establishing a foothold in the Middle East, not for oil interests, but for the sake of democracy and an end to terrorism. Iran is not as unstable as Iraq was at the time, but it is ripe for a revolution.

Here's hoping the the President will take the lead on this issue and encourage freedom. It might be as simple as saying that the United States supports open, free elections. The mullahs would have a hissy fit, for sure. Kofi Annan wouldn't like it and most Democrats would accuse the White House of saber-rattling. But GWB would simply put his words into practice, acknowledging that all men and women - Iraqis and Iranians - desire freedom. Knocking over the world's largest state-sponsor of terrorism wouldn't hurt.

And while I'm on the topic of Iran, I'm still reading Steve Coll's brilliant Ghost Wars. Coll notes that Iran was very much opposed to the Taliban's rise to power. This is understandable as the Shi'ites in Iran would have been quick to oppose the rise of an Afghan government run by Sunni Pashtuns and supported by the Pakistanis. This is less a religious issue and more an ethnic, tribal sort of thing, but when did Iran begin to welcome the Sunni Al-Qeada? I don't doubt their alliance, but at some point or another the two groups had to reach an agreement. Perhaps the impetus for such an accord is explained in Coll's book, but I'm curious to find an answer.
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I've gone after some his points lately, but Al Mohler is just a machine when it comes to putting out quality work. His "blog" is less blog and more daily column, but always top-notch. Highly valuable work for Christians, but generally helpful for anyone concerned with today's moral and ethical issues.
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It's been too many days and no blogging. No excuses, and I do apologize.

Speaking of no excuses and the need for apologies, the less said about Alabama's debacle against South Carolina, the better. Mike Shula and company have two weeks to turn this ship around or else trouble is on the way.

And while I'm at it, I'll begrudgingly tip my hat to Tommy Tuberville, Al Borges and the rest of the staff at Auburn. Saturday's win in Knoxville was superb. Though as an Alabama fan choosing between Auburn and Tennessee, I'm starting to understand how a Nader voter feels.
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Sunday, October 03, 2004
Sean Hannity should know better.
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Saturday, October 02, 2004
Huge football weekend in the SEC. Here's a quick rundown:

Auburn/Tennessee: Auburn wins
South Carolina/Alabama: Alabama wins
LSU/Georgia: LSU
Florida/Arkansas: Arkansas
Mississippi State/Vanderbilt: this game should be pretty awful. it's sort of like Alien v. Predator. No matter who wins, we lose. I'll go with Vandy. Sorry, Sly.

And speaking of football, one of the great coaches of all time is endorsing W.
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I'm pretty ambivalent on the subject of NASCAR. This protest seems a little over the top, but we should admit that the infield at Talledega won't be winning any PR campaigns any time soon.
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At this point there's little I can contribute to the debate talk. Bush could have been better, Kerry could have been worse. That's about it.

One analogy I've heard floating around is that GWB is something of a football coach. I like that one. Southern football fans might think of Gene Stallings or Pat Dye. W won, but it sure wasn't pretty. He won by not losing. Kerry on the other hand wasn't short on substance, but it was more style than anything else. Perhaps he's the coach who can never quite win the big game. Dennis Francione comes to mind.
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Astute readers (Hi Dad!) will note some grammar mistakes in earlier posting. Herewith a new promise to do better and to correct previous mistakes.

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