Friday, February 29, 2008

Quick Takes - 2-29-08

Random links of interest for your weekend enjoyment (with a huge tip o' the hat to my lovely bride for her exhaustive research):

People who work alone are more productive? A new study suggests this is the case. From my personal perspective, I've worked from home for over four years now and find I am much more productive than I ever was working in an office. (hat tip: Evangelical Outpost)

Honoring Champions President Bush welcomed the 2007 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox to the White House on Wednesday. They also spent time at Walter Reed Army Hospital visiting with wounded soldiers (scroll down for pictures). But the highlight for manager Terry Francona and slugger David Ortiz was riding on motorcycles in the motorcade.

Flushing money down the toilet. Atlanta spends $300,000 on toilets for homeless people.

Doctors said abort the baby, parents defy them and he's born healthy. This story begs the question how many babies that are aborted based on a doctor's recommendation would otherwise be born healthy.

All the news that's fit to recycle. The New York Times tries to stir up more trouble for Senator John McCain by regurgitating old inquiries about his birthplace.

Movie Trailer of the week. Here's a peek at The Final Season. This looks like it could be great.

Portrait of a hero (Part 1). A Marine loses his leg in Iraq but rather than letting that slow him down returns to active combat.

Portrait of a hero (Part 2). An Amry Sergeant, home after two tours of duty in Iraq, bought a scratch-off lottery ticket on a whim at a convenience store. Little did he know he would win $1 million. Now he's getting set to return to Iraq for his third tour of duty.

Does higher turnout among Democrats in the primaries mean a landslide in November? Not necessarily.

Grandma said so. Several news outlets made the regrettable decision yesterday to disclose that Prince Harry has been fighting on the front lines with the British Army in Afghanistan. But the best part of the story is that Queen Elizabeth (his grandmother) told him he was going to be deployed.

Dave Barry on getting a colonoscopy:

OK. You turned 50. You know you're supposed to get a colonoscopy. But you
haven't. Here are your reasons:
1. You've been busy.
2. You don't have a history of cancer in your family.
3. You haven't noticed any problems.
4. You don't want a doctor to stick a tube 17,000 feet up your butt.

I can relate to #4. Been there, done that. (hat tip: Betsy's Page)

Anyone can have a bad year century. The Chicago Cubs get ready to start year 100 since their last World Series championship.

The troop surge in Iraq is working. Just ask Angelina Jolie.

Maybe she should have bought the dogs a different chew toy. It's just a thought.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Baseball Quote of the Week

It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.

~A. Bartlett Giamatti

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Survey: Traditional Media Is "Out of Touch"

A new Zogby survey released today shows that two-thirds of respondents are dissatisfied with traditional media outlets:

Two thirds of Americans - 67% - believe traditional journalism is out of touch with what Americans want from their news, a new We Media/Zogby Interactive poll shows.

The survey also found that while most Americans (70%) think journalism is important to the quality of life in their communities, two thirds (64%) are dissatisfied with the quality of journalism in their communities.

Meanwhile, the online survey documented the shift away from traditional sources of news, such as newspapers and TV, to the Internet - most dramatically among so-called digital natives - people under 30 years old.

It's also no surprise that Republicans and Independents are more likely to be dissatisfied with traditional media:
Republicans (79%) and political independents (75%) are most likely to feel disenchanted with conventional journalism, but the online survey found 50% of Democrats also expressed similar concerns. Those who identify themselves as "very conservative" were among the most dissatisfied, with 89% who view traditional journalism as out of touch.

Traditional media outlets have never adjusted to the proliferation of news outlets and the competitive forces that are now at work. Unless they can make substantial changes, they are unlikely to survive much longer.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Quick Takes - 2-22-08

A few random thoughts heading into the weekend:

Maybe it's just me, but Barack Obama's rallies seem more like tent revivals than political events.

"We would like to restore William Wilberforce to his rightful place in history."

Diagramming a smear.

An attentive waiter saves a woman from the worst blind date ever. (Hat tip: Megan McArdle)

George Washington was a great hero, but also human (it's also his birthday):

We should give less slack to those who think of George Washington as a monument, perpetually frozen-faced as in Gilbert Stuart paintings. The danger of taking seriously the "I cannot tell a lie" fables about Washington's childhood is that we might deify him as sinless. But the "cannot" is also not fair to Washington, because the most impressive thing about him is that he had strong tendencies to sin, as do we all, but he fought them more successfully than most of us do.

Read the whole thing.

Portrait of a media junkie.

It's a 52-week television season. NBC decides to start debuting new shows all through the year rather than starting them all in the fall. It's just another sign of the eroding influence of network television. (hat tip: In the Agora)

How Democrats can lose the election.

The steroid scandal has given baseball a black eye, especially in Washington.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Baseball Quote of the Week

That's the true harbinger of spring, not crocuses or swallows returning to Capistrano, but the sound of a bat on a ball. - Bill Veeck

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Finishing What You Start

With John McCain's victory tonight in Wisconsin, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee will undoubtedly receive a renewed barrage of questions about when he's going to drop out of the presidential race. After all, he's trailing McCain by almost 600 delegates. Senator McCain needs to win only about 200 of the remaining delegates in order to get to the magic number of 1,191.

I don't think Huckabee will drop out. He's said many times that until Senator McCain reaches the magic number he's not going to drop out.

To quote Yogi Berra, "It ain't over 'til it's over."

It's highly unlikely that Huckabee could win enough delegates to deny McCain winning the nomination. But that doesn't mean that he should give up, either.

In fact, Mike Huckabee strikes me as a person who finishes what he starts. Anyone who commits to losing over 100 pounds has to have a firm sense of dedication not only to achieve that goal but to continue to do the things day by day that allow him to keep the weight off.

Mike Huckabee won't win the Republican nomination this year. But he will have shown something far greater: the strength of character to finish what he started.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Politics, Washington Style

Presidential historian and George Washington biographer Richard Brookhiser offers a wonderful glimpse into the campaign style of our first president (hat tip: World on the Web). An excerpt:

George Washington’s two elections to the presidency were nothing like the process, part-marathon, part-cage fight, we are seeing right now. All Washington had to do to get elected (unanimously) was not say that he would not serve. Washington’s campaigns were the ultimate bare-bones operation — no pollsters, no fundraisers, no ad buys. Yet he was well-versed in the arts of politics even so.

Washington did have to campaign to win his first political office, a seat in the Virginia House of Burgesses, the lower, elective chamber of the colonial legislature. Until early in the 19th century, voting in many parts of America was a festive occasion. You went to the county seat and announced your choice in public; rival candidates plied voters and onlookers with drink (which was illegal, but universal).

Washington ran for the House of Burgesses in 1758 while still serving as a colonel in the militia. He could not be at the polling place on Election Day, but he delegated a friend, Lt. Charles Smith, to tend bar in his absence. We know from their correspondence what the Washington campaign served: 28 gallons of rum, 50 gallons of rum punch, 34 gallons of wine, 46 gallons of beer, two gallons of cider (probably hard), for a total of 160 gallons of booze. There were 397 voters. Washington won. If you’re not the candidate of Change, be the candidate of Have Another.

Read the whole thing.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Quick Takes - 2-15-08 Edition

A few random links of interest for your Friday enjoyment:

Reading More In Less Time
I love to read but never have enough time to get to all the books I have on my nightstand. However, this article has some great tips on how to read more efficiently that I'm inclined to put into practice. (Adobe Acrobat Reader required)

Abraham Lincoln and faith

Marvin Olasky explains how Lincoln learned to lean on God through the hard times in his life and especially his presidency.

Overwhelmed by chocolate

Living on a fixed income, Elizabeth Emerson gave up her one vice: Hershey bars. But when her story appeared in the New York Times, folks started sending her candy, including the Hershey Company.

Netflix pick of the week

We've become big fans of Netflix, the online DVD rental service. The best part about the service is once you start rating your favorite movies it will make recommendations to you based on your favorites. My wife and I are currently enjoying Monarch of the Glen which Netflix had recommended to us. Think Northern Exposure set in Scotland It's worth watching just for the scenery.

A Slugger of his own

A Mesa, AZ teenager made news last month by overcoming a burglar with a Louisville Slugger baseball bat. Hillerich and Bradsby, makers of the famous bat, honored the teenager with a personalized bat of his own.

Baseball factoid of the week

Most baseball fans are familiar with "Take Me Out To The Ballgame". But you may be surprised to know that the songs authors, Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer, had never been to a ball game. Only 44 days to the season opener.

Have a great weekend.

Baseball Quote of the Week

People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring. - Rogers Hornsby

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Baseball Is Back

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training today.

Baseball is back and not a moment too soon.

Only 45 days until the season opener at the new ballpark in Washington, D. C.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Clemens Hearing A Big Waste Of Time

I caught a few minutes of the Roger Clemens Congressional hearing today. On one hand it was fascinating to watch the process and on the other hand it struck me as odd that Congress had so much time on its hands that it needed to be investigating the steroids problem in Major League Baseball. Michael Medved concurs:

For five hours today, baseball great Roger Clemens testified before Congress on allegations he used steroids to enhance his pitching career. These hearings, broadcast live on most cable networks, forced viewers to choose between believing Clemens, or trusting charges by his former trainer, Brian McNamee. But there’s a bigger question, and that’s why our representatives in Congress should waste their time and our money on this TV extravaganza? If either Clemens or McNamee broke the law and lied under oath, the criminal justice system should prosecute them – a process made more difficult, not easier, due to the high profile hearings. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform may face daunting responsibilities, but supervising Major League Baseball isn’t one of them. For the sake of bloviating on TV with a famous athlete, Chairman Henry Waxman and colleagues have provided a sickening example of the political process intruding in an area where it doesn’t belong.

I couldn't agree more.

John McCain's Conservative Problem

John McCain scored a huge victory in yesterday's Virginia Republican primary winning nearly 51% of the vote and defeating Mike Huckabee by a double-digit margin. But a closer look at the results reveals McCain's biggest weakness: his inability to win conservative voters.

McCain won the primary by over 50,000 votes. However, when you look at the individual city and county results McCain's problems are immediately obvious to anyone who is familiar with the state's demographics.

Mike Huckabee won in more rural and suburban counties which are the more conservative areas of the state. McCain won the larger cities and urban counties that traditionally lean more towards Democratic candidates. Even though McCain won a big victory8 he still did not do well in traditionally Republican areas.

Virginia has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1952. However, this year may be the year that Virginia turns blue. Consider this: the last two governors of Virginia have been Democrats (Mark Warner and current governor Tim Kaine). The last time Virginia elected a senator they picked Democrat Jim Webb over incumbent Republican George Allen. This year, long-time Republican senator John Warner (a RINO in every sense of the term, by the way) will retire and the aforementioned Mark Warner is a heavy favorite to win his seat over former Republican governor and one-time presidential candidate Jim Gilmore.

Unless McCain can figure out a way to get the conservative Republican base behind him, he'll have a hard time winning Virginia. If he cannot win Virginia, he won't be able to win the White House no matter who the Democrats decide to nominate.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Date With Dad

This past Sunday was a special day for our family. I had the opportunity to take my two daughters to a Father/Daughter dance in honor of Valentine's Day. They were very excited because they got to dress up in their formal dresses, put on makeup, and even wear the corsages that I had bought for them. But most important for them was that they got to do something special with Dad. The whole experience made a real impact on them because several times since then they've remarked about how much they enjoyed the experience.

It made an impact on me, too, in that it reminded me of the importance of giving my girls a "date" from time to time with Dad. In other words, it's important to offer them the chance to just hang out with Dad doing something that they enjoy.

When my girls were younger and I worked outside the home, I made a point to schedule times that I could go out with each one of my girls doing all sorts of different stuff. Sometimes we'd go out for dinner or ice cream. Sometimes it was something simpler like just allowing one of them to tag along as I run errands.

The purpose of such times is twofold. First, spending time with my girls deepens the relationship that I have with each of them. As they have grown older, they have become more willing to share with me things that they are dealing with as they are maturing into young women. The time that I invested in my relationship with them when they were younger will pay huge dividends as they become teenagers.

Second, time that I spend with them offers me an opportunity to demonstrate to them how a gentleman behaves towards a lady. My daughters' conception of how they should be treated by men will be in large part shaped by how I treat them. Dads can be the best example for their daughters of what to expect from men. A healthly relationship between a daughter and her dad will go a long way towards her having healthy relationships with men as an adult especially when she is married.

A date with your daughter doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive. The only thing it requires is time that you're willing to devote to her. As men we have all sorts of things demanding our attention. Our daughters, like our wives, should be a priority. A little time alone with our daughters will be a small sacrifice today that will reap huge rewards in the future.

This post originally appeared at DadBloggers.

Monday, February 11, 2008

An Odd Phone Call

As we get ready to vote tomorrow in the Virginia primary, we've been receiving a few robo calls from the Republican campaigns. But the oddest call I've received so far was a message from Senator John Warner on behalf of Senator John McCain.

If you're trying to build support among conservatives, is John Warner the person you want making calls on your behalf?

I don't think so.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Quick Takes - Friday Fun Edition

I spent the entire day on the road for business and made a point not to listen to talk radio. It was refreshing to have a break from politics for a day. In that spirit, I offer the following politics-free edition of quick takes:

Curt Schilling fills us in on the status of his shoulder injury. Here's the Associated Press version of the story.

Like most parents, we read Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon repeatedly to our kids and even had the whole story memorized at one point. Now there is a sequel that has been discovered in her papers. (hat tip: Instapundit

Tim Ellsworth offers suggestions how to pray for Union University in the aftermath of this week's tornadoes. He also has videos. Be sure to pray for Tim as he's handling all of the media relations for the university.

In the mail this week: two Jane Austen films: Persuasion and Becoming Jane. Reviews of both coming soon. By the way, the casting of Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen is no accident. She did her senior thesis at Vassar on Austen.

Also in the mail to review this week: The Aristocats. This is the last movie that Walt Disney was personally involved in starting (he died during production). It's also the last movie to be scored by Richard and Robert Sherman during their golden years at Disney. They were also responsible for the scores for Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, and Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree among other Disney classics. They'll be the subject of an upcoming documentary entitled The Boys. It's about time as the Shermans rank (at least in my mind) as one of the greatest songwriting teams of all time.

Put me in, Coach! It's John Fogerty singing Take Me Out To The Ballgame.

$1.3 Billion (yes, you read that correctly) for a new Yankees Stadium. Yikes!

This definitely goes to the top of my book wishlist: Culture Shift by Al Mohler. Need more evidence? Check out this entry at Out of Ur in which they present Mohler's argument that it's time for Christians to pull their kids out of public schools. It is time indeed.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Getting Behind McCain

With Mitt Romney's withdrawal from the presidential campaign today, it looks more and more likely that Senator John McCain will be the Republican nominee. Many conservatives (particularly in the right-wing media) are vehemently opposed to the McCain. But Bill Bennett and Seth Leibsohn make a compelling case for supporting McCain in a column today at NRO. Their message is simple: McCain will be a much better president that Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Now, For More Astute Analysis

Since I've already had to eat crow over my Florida analysis, I'll turn to the indispensible Joe Carter to provide some sensible analysis of the Super Tuesday results. It's well worth reading.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Eating Crow: Super Tuesday Edition

In the aftermath of the Florida Primary, I suggested that it was time for Governor Mike Huckabee to withdraw from the race.

I was wrong.

Good thing I have a day job.

Dr. Dobson: "I Will Not Vote if McCain is the Nominee"

Dr. James Dobson, President of Focus on the Family, made the following statement today regarding the state of the election (Hat tip: World on the Web):

"I am deeply disappointed the Republican Party seems poised to select a nominee who did not support a Constitutional amendment to protect the institution of marriage, voted for embryonic stem-cell research to kill nascent human beings, opposed tax cuts that ended the marriage penalty, has little regard for freedom of speech, organized the Gang of 14 to preserve filibusters in judicial hearings, and has a legendary temper and often uses foul and obscene language.

"I am convinced Sen. McCain is not a conservative, and in fact, has gone out of his way to stick his thumb in the eyes of those who are. He has sounded at times more like a member of the other party. McCain actually considered leaving the GOP caucus in 2001, and approached John Kerry about being Kerry’s running mate in 2004. McCain also said publicly that Hillary Clinton would make a good president. Given these and many other concerns, a spoonful of sugar does NOT make the medicine go down. I cannot, and will not, vote for Sen. John McCain, as a matter of conscience.

"But what a sad and melancholy decision this is for me and many other conservatives. Should Sen. McCain capture the nomination as many assume, I believe this general election will offer the worst choices for president in my lifetime. I certainly can't vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama based on their virulently anti-family policy positions. If these are the nominees in November, I simply will not cast a ballot for president for the first time in my life. These decisions are my personal views and do not represent the organization with which I am affiliated. They do reflect my deeply held convictions about the institution of the family, about moral and spiritual beliefs, and about the welfare of our country."

While I respect Dr. Dobson, I believe he is wrong to simply sit out the election because of who is going to be the Republican nominee. I agree that Senator McCain is not my first, second or even third choice for President. But if he is the nominee in November, I'll vote for him not because he holds the same positions that I do on most issues (he doesn't) but that he is far better than anybody the Democrats nominate due to fundamental differences on big issues. I also believe that McCain's moral character is superior to that of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. In the final analysis, character matters more than issues.

The Republican Party seems determined to abandon its conservative principles and focus on selecting a candidate who is most electable. Each party makes such a decision at its own peril. But the fact that one's political party of preference is not selecting who you might be rooting for in the election as their nominee does not relieve you of the responsibility to exercise your right to vote. That right has been paid for with the blood of hundreds of thousands of Americans. I cannot imagine staying at home on Election Day because my candidate is not in the race. We each should vote regardless of what the results might be. It's not only our right Americans but it is also our duty.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Following the Huckabee Campaign

Little did we know when we got out of bed this morning that we would end up attending a rally for Mike Huckabee. He stopped by the Tri-Cities Airport in northeast Tennessee and held an event on the eve of Super Tuesday. Chuck and Gena Norris also accompanied him on this stop. The crowd was about 500 strong which is quite surprising given the governor's current standing in the polls.

As I was listening to Governor Huckabee's stump speech I was struck by how well he connected with the audience. He pointed out that most candidates don't pay attention to our area (and they don't - Governor Huckabee is the first to make a campaign stop in the area). I believe the Republican establishment made a grave error in dismissing him as someone who could not win the nomination. I believe he has very solid conservative credentials and would make a fantastic nominee.

He also comes across as someone who has an extremely strong work ethic. Everyone knows by now that he lost over 100 pounds. But another story that he told was the fact that not only was he the first person in his family to graduate from high school but that he finished college in just 2 years and 3 months. He said he didn't finish quickly because he had so much money but because he was poor and had to work his way through college and could not afford to take four years to get his degree.

One of his most fascinating observations was summed up in this line: "People should tell the media who they are going to vote for not the media telling the people who to vote for." In this simple sentence he has hit upon a fundamental truth of this campaign: it is the media who has set the parameters for this race rather than the voters. It will be interesting to see in the coming months what influence, if any, the media has on the course of the campaign.

My other favorite line of his speech has to do with the IRS. He said, "Where I come from when something is broken if it can't be fixed with WD-40 and duct tape it can't be fixed." Indeed, the tax code is so maddeningly complex that it's impossible to see how simply modifying it will do any good. While there are arguments to be made over whether the Fair Tax is the right solution (and I haven't done enough research on it to say whether I totally agree with it) it's fair to say that what we've got now doesn't work.

Now there may be some who ask why I would take the time to take my family to a political rally for a candidate that I suggested withdraw from the race. First of all, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our family to witness first hand a presidential campaign rally. Second, I've long thought that Governor Huckabee was the right candidate but that because of the circumstances of this race (namely the abundance of candidates running this year) it would be difficult for him to win. I hope that I am wrong and that he does well enough tomorrow to give him a fighting chance at the nomination. But if the outcome is what the polls suggest, it will probably be time to call it quits if he hopes to have any chance at running again in the future. I hope he will run again because he is just the kind of leader this country needs.