Thursday, April 28

What The Hell Was That?

I've Never Seen THAT Before

I was just a few minutes late to my weekly poker game tonight, but they still dealt me in.

I wish they hadn't.

Let's start with the good part: of the ten players who were in the game, I made it to the last four (we usually pay top two only). I had just come off a successful huge bluff, so I was grooving pretty good. In first position (blinds 200/400 at this time, average chip stack ~ 6000 or so), I looked down and found A§/Aª. Hell, yeah. I raised to 1000, which I figured was just enough to get someone to call, and the player in the big blind, on my immediate right (hereinafter I'll refer to him simply as "Right") called.

The flop was A©/Kª/5ª. Yippee, I've made a set, but I have to cash it in now to drive out the flush draw. Right bet 700, and I immediately made it 2500. He thought about it for a while and somewhat reluctantly called. To me, it seemed like a dead giveaway that he was on the flush draw.

Which meant it was a big problem when the turn came Jª. And an even bigger problem when he went all-in. He had about 5000-some chips left, and I had 3400 or thereabouts, meaning he was putting me all-in. My temples started throbbing as I calculated the pot odds. My brain was too foggy to do such math (and I hadn't been drinking, like last week), so I showed a spectator and said, "I have to call, right?" He agreed. I called.

What I forgot to think about — and what he reminded me after the hand — was that at the time I had a set. This meant that not only did I have 7 outs for the nut flush (13 spades minus 3 on the board minus 1 in my hand minus the 2 that were almost certainly in Right's hand = 7), I had 10 outs to make a full house or better (3 kings + 3 fives + 3 jacks + 1 ace = 10). As I confessed to Beck from INCITE, I have somewhat of a problem with grasping the idea of how to make a full house. Since I was focusing only on the flush draw, what I thought was a loose call just because I didn't want to let go of my aces was actually a very sound mathematical decision (17 outs in 44 cards is slightly less than 3-2 odds and I was getting better than 3-1 on my money).

He did have a flush — a lousy one, in fact. He had 10ª/4ª. The river was 6ª and I won the hand.

Don't congratulate me, though.

A couple hands later, Right was under the gun and pretty much had to go all-in with anything before the blinds ate up a major chunk of his stack. I, holding K©/10© and the player on my left ("Left" from this point on) called.

The flop was Kª/10ª/4¨. Yippee, top two pair, but again I had to cash it in to keep the draws out. I moved Left all-in. I'm not sure what possessed him to call with A©/Q¨. Perhaps he put me on nearly nothing, but just attempting to overbet so I could isolate myself with Right to take all his chips. Right had Jª/4ª. So, I was thinking, Great, all I have to do is dodge a spade or a 4 and I knock out two players and guarantee myself the lion's share of the money (the top two players usually settle on a fair split of the cash depending on their chip stacks).

The turn was Q©. Uh-oh.

The river was A¨. What I thought is unsuitable for reprinting here unless I put in a profanity warning. So, here it is. Now click to discover my emotional state at that time.

I've been trying not to complain about bad beats. I really have. Most of the time I contribute to them with poor decision-making and the rest of it is just bad luck. It's not that the poker gods are out to smite me.

But two players BOTH sucked out on me, BOTH with runner-runner draws: Left hit A/Q to make a higher two pair than mine, and Right hit A/Q to make a backdoor inside straight.

That cost me over half my chips. I was back down to the 3000-range. I hung around a while longer, enough to finish in third, but still got no money despite having nearly half the chips on the table at one point.

Next week I think I'll go back to drinking.


No News On Jeff Ake

At Least No Good News

I've been going through my SiteMeter referrals list and I've been noticing that I'm getting a lot of hits from search engines with "Jeff Ake" as the query term.

I wish I could say I had some sort of inside pipeline to news from the Ake family. I don't.

The only real relevant news about Jeff Ake is stateside: his family's home is up for sale. I won't link to the newspaper story I found that news in because it lists his address.

On my return trip from Lebanon I swung through LaPorte. I managed to find the Ake family home through some sleuthing. The plan was to take pictures of the media throng that had assembled on their front lawn, only there wasn't one. There were a few extra cars parked outside the home, but I assumed they were either family or close friends. I didn't intrude. In fact, I didn't even stop; I turned left at the stop sign and went home, hoping that nobody noticed that I looked and interpreted my gaze as leery rubbernecking. I shudder to think that the Ake family might be moving because someone was less respectful of their privacy.

I did, though, take a few shots of some of the signs elsewhere in LaPorte. I promise I'll post them soon.


Wednesday, April 27

Return Of The Lebanese Protest Supermodels™

Thoughtful Essays < Butt Cleavage

Because I'm just enough of a sellout to attempt to drive traffic to my essay by posting a picture like this:

Via Stavro Jabra.


Marchand Chronicles: Lebanon

The Righteous Shall Flourish
Mike Marchand
The Marchand Chronicles
April 25, 2005

Last week I finally visited Lebanon. To tell the truth, I found it kind of . . . dull. It was oddly quiet and strangely peaceful. There were no horrific remnants of violence and no signs that anybody else in the world really cared about them.

I speak, of course, of Lebanon, Indiana.

Lebanon, Indiana is a half-hour's drive from Indianapolis northwest on Interstate 65. This puts it at about a 140-mile trip from Marchron World Headquarters, which can be done on less than half a tank of gas. As opposed to the country of Lebanon, which is more than 6000 miles and no less than three connecting flights away. Obviously, considering my budget, staying in-state was the way to go.

I was hoping Lebanon, Indiana would, given the linguistic tie, have established a relationship with the Middle Eastern country, or perhaps some sort of cultural liaison, so that I could, in effect, visit the budding Cedar democracy by proxy.

Instead, the whole place looked like it just fell out of a John Cougar Mellencamp music video.

This is not to say that I didn't enjoy my brief stay; Lebanon's motto is "The Friendly City" and I did have a splendid time. But I went to find some similarities, something to compare to the country of Lebanon and found no obvious connections.

People have lived in the nation of Lebanon since the beginning of civilization. It was founded by the Phoenicians, who used its central location and Mediterranean coastline as the foundation for its trading culture. Lebanon, Indiana was founded in 1830 by two enterprising Indianapolis land speculators, one of whom, George L. Kinnard, was the surveyor for Marion County (Indianapolis). He guaranteed his fledgling city's viability by ensuring that the exploratory road between Indianapolis and Lafayette jogged slightly to the east, right through his land. Kinnard and his partner, James Perry Drake, also, essentially, assured that Lebanon would be the influential seat of Boone County by trading more than one-third of their land to the county for its use. So — central location and trade: check. No coastline in Lebanon, Indiana, though.

Because of its diverse demographics and rich history, Lebanon, specifically Beirut, is a vibrant cultural center. In contrast, the population of Lebanon, Indiana is nearly 98% white, and the most happening place appeared to be the Wal-Mart, though an ice cream stand did attract some attention on a warm late afternoon.

And of course, the reality of daily life in the Lebanons are much different. The Cedar Revolution, although not attracting as much attention as the first heady moments, is still ongoing. Through international pressure, but mostly due to the determination of the Lebanese people, Syria recently completed its military withdrawal from Lebanon. The last step, although not particularly fascinating, is a political withdrawal. With that in mind, the Lebanese protestors, who still occupy Martyr's Square in Beirut, and have ever since the February assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, have now focused their attention on demanding open elections on May 29. To that end, they are calling for the government to follow election law and announce the elections one month in advance, on April 29. The Tent City demonstrators have erected a large electronic sign counting down the number of days until the deadline. As of this writing, it's 4.

To the Lebanese, the threat of violence, whether from pro-Syrian factions of their own people, agents from Syria, or terrorist groups like Hezbollah, is a daily reality. Rafiq Hariri was killed by a car bomb, and several more have gone off since his assassination on February 14.

However, in Lebanon, Indiana, the most danger anyone lives with is the technically-illegal Texas Hold'em game on Sunday nights at Johnny's Spirits & Munchies on South Street (I lost $20). The most pressing political issue is the attempted bill that would finally bring Daylight Savings Time to the state of Indiana.

Despite all the differences between Lebanon and Lebanon, Indiana, there's not a person in Lebanon that wouldn't trade their lives, mostly filled with war and strife, for a quiet life like the one led in the Hoosier State. But they don't want to — and shouldn't have to — move to America to experience it.

Or, as the Pulse Of Freedom blog, set up live at Martyr's Square, puts it: "This is our country: the country that we live in, grew up in, studied in, dreamed in, fell in and out of love in . . . This is the country we are proud to represent and whose essence we carry with us, in our blood."

There is actually one real connection I could find between the Lebanons: the small Indiana town was given its name when one of the city's first commissioners called to mind Lebanon's cedar trees, which are an often-mentioned Biblical image and, of course, is Lebanon's national symbol to this day, and said, "The name of this town shall be Lebanon."

It's perhaps symbolic of the differences between them that that commissioner was looking at hickory trees, not cedars.

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. — Psalm 92:12



Deadlines, Shmeadlines

I suppose I ought to upload this week's essay soon.

I thought I had already, but I guess Blogger interpreted me pushing the "Publish Post" button as the "Save as Draft" button.

Man . . . if Internet programs won't even let me publish my stuff, perhaps I should be looking into a new line of work.


Monday, April 25

The Return Of Irreverence

He's-A Da Freakin' Pope

In my essay on the late Pope John Paul II, I reflected for a moment on how, to young Catholics, he represented a genial, benevolent, grandfatherly figure. Because of that, we were capable of making fun of him — not as insults, not as sacrilege, but truly being fun.

Consider this classic image of The Deuce:

This lends itself to all sorts of captions; in fact, the reason this image is so small is because I didn't want to use the one that's probably circled around the Internet the most (it's a little too blunt).

Then there's this AP photo, which I found in a picture-retrospective of his life:

The caption began "Pope John Paul II listens to a speech by Cuban president Fidel Castro . . ." Doesn't look like he's listening very much, does he? It's super-easy and super-fun to play Read JP2's Mind:

Man, this guy's boring.
He's got a small rodent in his beard. I'll pretend not to notice.
If he goes on much longer, I'm kicking his
dupa with my fisherman's shoes.

We're not being mean at all. Anyone who holds an audience for breakdancers —

— is easily cool enough to realize that it's all in fun.

However, with the elevation of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, whom the press has dubbed "God's Rottweiler," to the papacy, I was wondering how long it would take before relaxed Catholics felt at ease with breaking out the papal jokes about Benedict XVI.

I got an answer earlier this week, when one of my mom's coworkers remarked that she thought the new pope looked a lot like Simon Bar-Sinister, the heinous villain from the "Underdog" cartoon:

I have to admit, there's a bit of a resemblance.

But until we can come up with a nickname as cool as "The Deuce" for Benedict XVI ("Sweet Sixteen"? "Benny One-Six"?), I think this is as far as I'm going to take the pope jokes.

Because I think Benedict probably could kick my dupa.


Sunday, April 24

Snow? In April?

I Told You People

It was 80º earlier this week. Yesterday, according to the National Weather Service, we officially received seven-tenths of an inch of snow. This, apparently, boggles people's minds.

I knew it was coming, though. Winter always has the last laugh here. Of course, I was wrong about when exactly its cold cackle would come, but I'm not a frickin' meteorologist. I don't know anything about meteors at all.

Besides, if the snow had come earlier, it wouldn't have made a mess of The Blue-Gold Game, Notre Dame's annual intra-squad spring scrimmage.

But no matter when it happens, surprise snow attracts lousy drivers like a magnet. The St. Joseph County Police reported that they had double the usual number of accidents. This, despite seven-tenths of an inch of snow.

Sometimes I hate being right.


My Stock Is Rising

Not A Sexual Reference

I didn't find this out until just recently, but evidently Marchron is a publicly traded commodity.

This is huge.

Furthermore, I'm evidently a blue-chipper. (I don't know squat about market terminology, so I may be using "blue-chip" and any other terms wrong; apologies up front. I don't even know who Dow Jones is.) Check out this awesome graph thingy:

I don't even know what it means, but up is good, right?

My website is currently valued at 1,545.68. Sounds good, but Instapundit is worth 2,138,951.93. Which means the stock analyses of my blog, and I quote: "This is a growing blog (BUY)" and "This stock is underpriced (BUY)" are probably accurate. Instapundit is good, but I don't think he's 1,384 times as good as I am.

Having a publicly traded vehicle is a lot of pressure. Now I have shareholders I don't want to disappoint.


Saturday, April 23

And Now For Something Completely Different


I've been too busy being vain over the mild attention I've attracted recently to submit myself to the Carnival Of The Vanities. Whoops. But INCITE made the COTV for his first pokerblogging post, and it reminded me that I've been slacking in my poker writeups.

So here's this week's lesson, entitled "Why You Shouldn't Drink Alcohol While Playing Poker, Even If You're Playing At A Bar."

I had started the game with no virtually no decent hands in nearly two rounds. I played a total of two hands, one when I was the big blind and nobody raised pre-flop and one when I was the small blind and I limped in for the other half. Both times the flop was awful and I folded in disgust.

So when the small blind came around to me again I looked down to find A¨/3¨. When a strong player in early position raised from 100 to 300 (everyone starts with 2500) I was determined to give it up; I've been attempting to tighten up my game and playing stubborn with ace-rag is one of the major holes I've yet to patch. But when three other people called the raise, I suddenly found myself with decent odds to attempt the flush draw. I called and expected a rotten flop.

It came K¨/3§/8¨. Hmm. Now I have bottom pair and the nut flush draw. The smart thing to do, tactically, is lead into this flop and hope either that everyone will fold or that the pot will be bigger in the event I do hit the flush.

Unfortunately, I'd had a drink. Okay, a few drinks. Okay, I'd been drinking for a few hours and for some reason the knowledge that the small blind (me) acts first in all rounds after the flop decided to completely evacuate my alcohol-soaked brain. I pointed at the early-position player in the drunken assumption that he was first to act. He soberly assumed that I checked it to him. He checked, as did everyone else behind him, and when the dealer burned before dealing fourth street I complained that I hadn't yet acted. Everyone told me to shut up. I realized my stupidity and kicked myself for not extracting another bet out of them.

The turn was 3©. Damn. Damn damn damn. Now I have trips and the flush draw. I checked again and made sure everyone knew it (I probably SHOULDN'T have, but I did anyway; damn you, Captain Morgan!). Everyone checked to the dealer, who weakly attempted a bluff by betting 300 into a pot of 1600. I hemmed and hawed and eventually called the bet instead of raising, since I didn't want to drive out anyone now. Everyone else called.

The river was Aª. Bingo! A backdoor full house! The only hands I had to fear now were pocket kings, eights or aces, and anyone holding those hands would almost certainly have bet and bet hard on the flop to drive out the obvious flush draw. I bet 600 (the pot was 3100 at the time). The early-position pre-flop raiser called, the next two players folded, and the button player thought for a long time before eventually mucking his hand. Bummer; I was hoping for a raise.

My final opponent said "I think you got me," so I showed him my shiny new boat and he kicked in his hand.

On the strength of that win and not much else (remember, I'd mostly been getting worthless hands) I coasted to second place and a $55 cashout.

While accidentally and drunkenly checking on the flop gained me the knowledge that I had the best hand on the river, I really should have bet on the flop, but especially the turn. I don't know what I was thinking.

Oh, wait, I do know: it was mmmm, Captain and Coke gooooood.

Next week I'm drinking Shirley Temples.


Friday, April 22

Nuclear Option Approaching Fail-Safe Point

Owen, Brown Confirmed; Democrats Threaten Filibuster; Santorum Hits The Brakes?

Today, the Republicans used their majority advantage to press Texas Supreme Court Judge Priscilla Owen and California judge Janice Rogers Brown out of committee and to the Senate floor, where Democrats are expected to filibuster them.

The big shock, though, was a report by The Hill which suggested that Rick Santorum, an advocate of the "nuclear option," was backing off because of poor polling results. Santorum has denied this report.

The fact that the Republicans renominated Owen and Brown is unsurprising, and they're taking advantage of the fact that they're women. From the FOX News link, Orrin Hatch said, "It's pathetic what they are doing to these two women and I think it's time for women all over America to start standing up and say, 'Hey, enough is enough.'" Bill Frist also commented on their gender, saying, "In the last Congress, these highly qualified women were blocked by a partisan filibuster when Democrats refused to give them an up or down vote."

Also in The Hill, former Clinton pollster Dick Morris warns that the "nuclear option" will lead to catastrophe:
The filibuster, once seen as the last refuge of racists seeking to thwart the progress of civil-rights legislation, has increasingly become part of our checks-and-balances system. Changing the rules in the Senate will be seen as the modern equivalent of the court-packing scheme of FDR . . .

The Schiavo case amplifies the concern of moderate voters over a possible rules change to block filibusters. The attitude of GOP conservatives, led by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), that moderate judges needed to be punished for their independence sends a chill up the spines of most independent voters.

With the filibuster decision bookended by the Terry
[sic] Schiavo case before and a Supreme Court confirmation battle likely following it, the issue has the potential to spell disaster for the Republican Party . . .

[A]n attempt to switch the rules in the middle of the game on judicial filibusters will really make his alliance with the Christian right the main issue in his second-term presidency, with disastrous results.
I despise pollmeisters like Dick Morris because their very existence is a microcosm of everything I hate about politics: that to some people, that which is right and good is only and always that which is politically expedient. Still, this is his niche, and he's got a Newsweek poll to back him up.

There's still enough time before the "nuclear option" crosses the point of no return, though. Power Line's Paul "Deacon" Mirengoff highlighted a possible way out in an addendum to a post by John "Hindrocket" Hinderaker:
[I]f the Republicans could make the Democrats actually filibuster Owen or Brown for an extended period, the public would conclude (a) that the Dems have had their opportunity for full debate and/or (b) that such debate, when undertaken by the Democrats, isn't all it's cracked up to be.
If the Republicans are going to choose the "nuclear option" (and given the angry warnings by the base if they don't, they probably will), they should at least initially pause to give the Democrats enough rope to hang themselves. The GOP will gain valuable political capital if the Democrats, while filibustering "the women," say moronic things like this:
Jumping through hoops to ingratiate themselves to their party's base while step-by-step and day-by-day real problems that keep Americans up at night fall by the wayside here in Washington. We each have to ask ourselves, "Who's going to stop it?" Who's going to stand up and say, "Are we really going to allow this to continue?" Are Republicans in the House going to continue spending the people's time defending Tom DeLay or they going to defend America and defend our democracy?
That'd be John Kerry, on the Senate floor, demonstrating once again his propensity to get things exactly backwards. For one, during the 2004 election, Kerry jumped through more flamin' hoops than Evel Knievel to placate his frothing-rabid base. Also, with all these crises stacking up on the Senate floor, Kerry and his party have decided that their most important priority is the nearly-unprecedented invoking of an indefinite stalling tactic because they don't like some judicial nominees. Exactly why they find Owen and Brown so unappealing has yet to be really spelled out, but an impending Bill Frist-led theocracy spooks Kerry enough:
Will Republican senators let their silence endorse Senator Frist's appeal to religious division, or will they put principle ahead of partisanship and refuse to follow him across that line? Are we really willing to allow the Senate to fall in line with the Majority Leader when he invokes faith, faith, all of our faiths over here? Joe Lieberman's a person of faith. Harry reid's a person of faith. And they don't believe we should rewrite the rules of the United States Senate, and we certainly shouldn't allow this issue of people who believe in the Constitution somehow challenging the faith of others in our nation . . .
Whatever. Kerry can't stand anybody who allows faith to influence their political decisions. Even though he appeared on "The Tonight Show" wearing a leather jacket and blue jeans, he's singing the opposite of the song most associated with that outfit:
Oh, but I need some time off from that emotion
Time to pick my heart up off the floor
And when that love comes down without devotion
Well, it takes a strong man, baby
But I'm showing you the door

'Cause you CAN'T a-have faith-a-faith-a-faith
You CAN'T a-have faith-a-faith-a-faith!
Returning from Moonbat Island, there's an interesting dichotomy going on at the group spinoff blog, ConfirmThem. A contributor named quin predicts a conservative revolt if the GOP doesn't follow through on the "nuclear option"; however, three posts later Paul Zummo expresses skepticism that the Democrats can regain the Senate majority if the Republicans do go ahead. Well, which is it? If the races are close enough that an angered Republican base can scuttle them, then they're close enough for the Democrats to rouse enough moderates to unseat them.

The lines are being drawn. The armies are amassing at the border and the rhetorical missiles are being aimed and armed. Somebody's going to get trapped on this. I'd rather the Republicans bait the Democrats into overcommitting than the other way around.


Wednesday, April 20

Standing Firm Is NOT Inaction

Carpe Diem: Who'll Seize The Day?

One of the criticisms of my essay on the "nuclear option" is that it suggests "inaction" (Captain's Quarters, Threshold Negative 55). Far from it. I don't want inaction, I just want reasoned, measured action.

I named my essay "Conventional Warfare" for a reason. The Democrats have dug in their heels and lined trenches. If the Republicans go over the top, they WILL be gunned down. RCP's Tom Bevan has written a post that agrees with me on that end. Need proof? Again via RCP, the most recent Quinnipiac poll has "nuclear option" supporter Rick Santorum fourteen points behind his challenger, based largely on a negative view of Santorum stemming from his positions on Social Security and — wait for it — Terri Schiavo.

Yes, the 2006 midterms are a year and a half away, but you tell me — if the GOP goes through with the "nuclear option," do you really think Santorum will gain all 14 of those points back? Or will he lose even more? A poll analyst suggests that Santorum's opponent, State Treasurer Robert Casey, Jr., really has done nothing to get headlines but has allowed Santorum's candidacy to self-destruct.

The same thing will happen, writ large, if the Republicans follow Santorum "over the top." Tom Bevan nailed it: the Republicans have already lost the PR battle over this issue. We can debate until doomsday how that happened, but the Democrats have the territorial advantage.

The solution, then, is to blockade them, and starve them out. It minimizes our disadvantages and puts the onus on them. As I wanted to address but Bevan beat me to it:
This is doubly frustrating because the math also works in the Republicans' favor. There are more red-state Democrats at risk over this issue than blue-state Republicans. Yet instead of having Senators like Ben Nelson, Ken Salazar, and the rest on the defensive, it's moderate Republicans like John Warner, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe who are getting pounded - from both sides.

Read this article in today's
New York Times and you'll see that many of the Republican moderates still on the fence fully agree that Democrats are way out of line. It's not hard to see that they would be more than willing to pull the trigger on this vote if the Republican party leadership had done a better job laying the ground work and driving public opinion on the issue. The bottom line is that not enough effort was made to give these Senators the cover they need to make this vote.
Forcing the Democrats to go through with the filibuster will put them on the defensive. Instead of hoping the Republicans don't "go wobbly," the pressure would be on Democratic senators from red states up for reelection in 2006 — Jeff Bingaman (New Mexico), Kent Conrad (North Dakota), Bill Nelson (Florida) — and some other vulnerable Democrats. Republicans can show them the horror of suffering the same fate as Tom Daschle and wait for them to fold.

This is not inaction. It's a calculated, strategic action. And, from where I sit, it's a far better alternative.


Standing Firm Is NOT Moving Backwards

Habemus Papum: We Have A Pope, They Have a Problem

Although I didn't say it here, I have opined elsewhere that I thought Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger would become the new pope, and yesterday he became Benedict XVI (that surprised me — I figured he'd take the name John Paul III).

I'm not really sure what to make of the selection. He's earned the reputation of being "Catholicism's Rottweiler" for his strict stance on things like homosexuality ("intrinsically disordered," according to one of his books I read while in college). And perhaps I'm just being cynical, but as dean of the College Of Cardinals, he had a unique influence on the outcome of the papal election. In his homily he railed against the "dictatorship of relativism", and the conclave obviously thought that his unapologetic defense of the faith meant he was the best man for the job — they only needed four votes to elect him.

When I watched video of John Paul II on the balcony for the first time, I saw a man humbled and overwhelmed by the sanctity of the moment. There was no way he could have expected to become pope. However, Benedict XVI seemed more like a winning politician on Election Night, soaking in the moment he was confident would occur.

Again: I'm probably just being cynical. I agree with Lileks, among others, that Ratzinger was a good choice precisely because it cheesed off all the right people. Benedict's firm stance and utter disinclination to "go with the flow" has convinced dummies like Andrew Sullivan and Derrick Z. Jackson that the Church is regressing (double bow to RCP).

Nothing could be further from the truth. There's a difference between standing firm and moving backwards. Churches are not democracies, they're not social clubs, and they're not intended to move with the times.


Thank You, Thank You, Thank You

Rehearsing For My Future Pulitzer Speech

I'm honored by the reception I've received for my essay. I owe a big gooey blob of thanks to Beth from MY VRWC for jumpstarting this. In return, I'd like to coin a term for traffic derived from her site: "Crimson Tide."

After her, I was linked to by Steal The Bandwagon, who agreed with me, and Threshold Negative 55 and Blogotional, who didn't, but posed thoughtful and civil arguments. This is not a major disagreement we're having; as I told Hugh and Captain Ed when I e-mailed them, anyone who claims a parenthetical R after their names is (or at least should be considered) all on the same side. That's why I love being part of the blogosphere.

The pièce de résistance, though, came when RealClearPolitics included me in their April 18 Evening Update, smooshed right in there between Hugh and Matt Margolis from GOPbloggers, whose post was brilliant squared. That's totally awesome. I've been an RCP fan since before being an RCP fan was cool, and I'm honored that they considered my essay to be essential reading for the supplemental evening roundup.

Again: thank you thank you thank you.


Sunday, April 17

Getting Some Action

Wow, You People Are FAST!

Captain Ed and Beth from MY Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy have already commented, e-mailed me, AND written posts that linked to me (CQ, MY VRWC).

I absolutely MUST get some sleep before I embark on the journey in my MAJOR MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT tomorrow. So I'll get to Ed and Beth and anyone else who responds to me when I return.


Saturday, April 16

Marchand Chronicles: The Nuclear Option

Conventional Warfare
Mike Marchand
The Marchand Chronicles
April 18, 2005

In the opening of Bill Whittle's essay named STRENGTH, he compares the U.S. assault on Fallujah with Sam Houston's actions in the battle for Texas and asks, "Did you want to feel good or did you want to win?"

I want to win. I strongly suspect Hugh Hewitt and Ed Morrissey want to feel good.

Hewitt has spent nearly all this week on his radio show, his website, and his Weekly Standard column requesting — demanding — that Senate Republicans move forward with the "nuclear option" to overturn any Democratic filibuster of judicial nominees. Likewise, Captain Ed has been banging the drum on his blog, insisting voters should cut off all funding to the GOP in a scathing post called "Not. One. Dime."

Haven't we been down this road before?

In 1995, Congressional Republicans shut down the government in a noble attempt to force a balanced budget, an eminently reasonable idea. The result was the virtual end of Newt Gingrich's career and a boost to President Clinton's flagging reelection hopes.

More recently, last month Congressional Republicans led a special session, passing a bill with the noble attempt of forcing the courts to reexamine the Terri Schiavo case, an eminently reasonable idea. The result was a loss of face for the Republicans, who were considered to be overreaching and violating one of the central tenets of federalism.

And Hugh and Ed think this will somehow turn out better? How?

They are right, of course, in that the Republican base cranked out the vote for Senators on the basis of stopping judicial activism and Democratic obstructionism. But what they don't consider is that there are plenty of moderates and non-Republicans who despised the ham-fisted power-play politics displayed in the above examples, and will be turned off by something as drastic as altering traditional filibuster rules. Additionally, GOP voters unaffiliated with the religious right will again be spooked by the idea of theocons controlling the government and restricting debate (witness this recent Instapundit post).

The counterargument is that the filibuster's "rules" have been malleable, and that the unprecedented action is really the Democrats' filibustering nearly all of President Bush's nominees; and that the "theocons" aren't really controlling and restrictive, they're just attempting to get majority-supported judicial nominees a fair up-or-down vote. There's just one problem:

People won't care.

If the Republicans had PR skills anything close to the Democrats'; if we had a balanced media culture that played everything straight; or if the American voters by and large had a thorough knowledge of the Senate's role in the Constitution or its procedural history — if any one were the case, it would be worth the fight to block the potential filibuster.

But all people remember about the 1995 government shutdown is that Newt Gingrich became The Gingrinch That Stole Christmas. Similarly, all people remember about the Congressional action to save Terri Schiavo's life is that the Republicans overreached based on some memo touting the Schiavo case as a "great political issue." The truth about the Republicans' motives was forgotten. It will be again.

Does this matter to Hugh or Ed? It doesn't look like it. Hugh Hewitt dodged the idea that the Republicans might lose politically by saying this: "The GOP seems to think it is loosing [sic] the pr war because people don't understand the issue. Wrong. The base understands the issue completely, and it is disgusted with dithering." The problem is that the base, even if it comprises the majority of Republicans, certainly doesn't comprise a majority of the voters. The GOP will lose the PR war because people — not just the Republican base, in fact everyone but the Republican base — don't understand the issue. History has shown that, and if Hugh thinks the Republicans are too feckless to move forward with the "nuclear option," what makes him think they'll be able to defend it afterwards?

Fine by Hugh. If the GOP moves and loses, he'll send checks to the Democratic opponents of any Republicans who don't toe the party line. Well, that'll be pointless. Once the GOP moves forward, win or lose, the careers of Lincoln Chafee, possibly Olympia Snowe, and almost certainly Rick Santorum will be finished. All of them are Republican senators from blue states who face reelection in 2006. Chafee and Santorum have already been targeted by the Democratic money machine. The Democrats won't need Hugh's checks; they'll have an issue which Howard Dean and the DNC will raise millions against. And Bill Frist will become Newt Gingrich Redux. If he doesn't retire in 2006, he'll be marked for defeat. If he leaves the Senate to run for president in '08, he won't win.

Captain Ed wants to scorch the earth even more by cutting off all donations to the RNC and the NRSC if the Republicans don't move. Well, what will that accomplish? The exact same thing. Without truckloads of funding, the Democrats will have the scalps of Chafee, Snowe, and Santorum, possibly also someone like Jim Talent. As Beth from MY Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy sagely noted, it'd be foolish for the GOP to purge itself and hand Democrats the victory.

So . . . what's the plan, then? Let them filibuster.

When staunch southern Democrats attempted to filibuster the Civil Rights Act in 1964, they lost. Why? Because they went on for two and a half months. They couldn't sustain their momentum any longer. People saw through it for what it really was: a desperate attempt to hold on to their tiny little sliver of power and control.

The filibuster was starved out because of solid leadership from Hubert Humphrey and President Johnson, admittedly both Democrats, but they were on the right side of history. LBJ, when faced with the definite knowledge that the Dixiecrats were going to filibuster, refused to send any further business to the Senate, forcing Strom Thurmond, Robert Byrd et al to talk indefinitely. Filibusters are traditionally beaten by, basically, filibustering the filibuster: instead of the determined senators talking the bill to death, make them talk themselves into exhaustion and embarrassment.

Yes, I know, filibusters of judicial appointments are unprecedented. I'd love to see the Democrats get rolled over on this idea, too, but it's a trap. Most Americans think "filibuster" is a Dairy Queen dessert ("the new Filibuster Parfait!"), but they'll know that the Republicans are trying to bully the opposition (thanks to timely reminders by the Democrats and the media).

America won't stand for the Republicans attempting to break the filibuster with brute force. Let it die like every other unsuccessful filibuster has. Plus, it'd make for great soundbites: Barbara Boxer giving recipes for great sushi. Chuck Schumer reading out of the NYNEX phone book. John Kerry complaining again that he might have won the election if only Democratic voters weren't completely stupid. Ted Kennedy telling us a little more about his good friend Osama. Just think: by forcing them to sit around and talk indefinitely, we'd get Democratic idiocy served to us on a platter, 24/7, for as long as they continue to blabber and yap.

If you look very closely at the posts I've already linked to, you can see the dimmest outlines of this occurring. Senator Frist has moved large chunks of the agenda before the judicial nominations, so as to clear the way for an indefinite filibuster (from "Not. One. Dime."). Senator Santorum said the vote to end the filibuster should be "within a couple of months" (from Hugh's post about the "PR war"). Predictably though somewhat sadly, both of these provoked outrage. Captain Ed opined that the schedule change represented the fact "that the judges are actually the lowest priority for Frist and his band of merry cowards." Hugh Hewitt reported that Santorum's comment lit up his phone lines and triggered an "e-mail avalanche."

The Democratic filibuster of President Bush's judicial nominees is unprecedented and needs to be stopped. But there's a right way and a wrong way to do it, and when Republicans pick the wrong way, they are punished by the voters because they're seen as going too far. It happened in 1995 over the government shutdown. It happened last month over Terri Schiavo.

Let's not run full-steam into the brick wall again this time. Kill the filibuster by killing the filibuster, not by preventing it.

(Edited 3/20 3:46 PM to fix a really stupid error.)



This Is HUGE

I'm uploading my Marchand Chronicles essay now because I have a major announcement for the next few days. Scroll over the text below to find out what it is:

I'm going to LEBANON! . . . Lebanon, Indiana, that is.



My Jeff Ake Banner

No Further Explanation Needed

Use it at your leisure.


Jeff Ake Candlelight Vigil Canceled

No Official Explanation Given

The candlelight vigil in honor of terrorist hostage Jeff Ake, planned for Friday night at 7 pm, was abruptly canceled. No explanation was provided.

Many people came to the proposed vigil sites to light candles and pray on their own. Others are content to post this banner, courtesy of the Greater LaPorte Chamber Of Commerce, on their websites:

As if Jeff's fate rests in his own hands, like that of a runaway child.


Friday, April 15

News: Indiana Man Kidnapped By Terrorists

Jeff Ake Held Hostage

AP/South Bend Tribune

A LaPorte small-business owner providing machines to purify and bottle water was taken hostage by a terrorist group calling itself the Iraqi National Resistance.

Held by three men at gunpoint, Ake, according to Al-Jazeera, allegedly asked for the U.S. to "open a dialogue with the Iraqi resistance." Al-Jazeera aired the video, but not the audio.

Ake currently resides in LaPorte, about 25 miles west of South Bend. He is the founder and president of Equipment Express, based in nearby Rolling Prairie. Equipment Express builds, sells, installs and services liquid-packaging machines for national companies, like Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola; but also for several international markets. Ake often gives seminar speeches about doing business overseas, and wrote a book in 1996 called Aggressive Exporting: How To Make Your Small Company Into An International Tiger. Equipment Express has been awarded one of Indiana's 100 Fastest-Growing Companies by the IU Business School twice.

Jeff Ake is married to Liliana, who was born in Russia. They have four children.

EE Website
Liliana and Jeff Ake accept the Growth 100 Award in November, 2003.

South Bend Tribune: Rolling Prairie businessman taken hostage in Iraq
South Bend Tribune: Abduction hits home
LaPorte Herald-Argus: LaPorte man held hostage in Iraq
WNDU-TV: LaPorte man held hostage in Iraq

Hat tips: The Jawa Report, The Irish Trojan



Monday, April 11

Marchand Chronicles: Pope John Paul II

(UPDATE: A revised version of this column appeared in the April 12 edition of the University Of Notre Dame Observer.)

Forgive Me, Father, For I Have Sinned: Confessions Of A "Cafeteria Catholic"
Mike Marchand
The Marchand Chronicles
April 11, 2005

"I'm no longer a practicing Catholic . . . I'm so good I don't need the practice anymore."

Cute humorous witticisms such as that served as a nice deflection, so I didn't really have to answer the question of why I didn't go to Mass.

Originally, I skipped Mass for the same reason most kids do: I considered it ridiculous that anyone would waste a perfectly good late morning and early afternoon to dress in fancy clothes, sit (and stand, and sit, and kneel, and sit, and stand, etc.) in a stuffy dusty building and listen to some old geezer drone on for 90 minutes. It seemed pointless. And since my Catholic mother eventually divorced my non-Catholic father, when she avoided Mass, I got to avoid it, too. When she felt guilty about missing Mass, I lost an opportunity to sleep in.

I think the real turning point for me, though, came during a retreat offered by my (Catholic) high school. During their junior and senior years, students were offered a two-day retreat at a campground with teachers and clergy, ostensibly to grow in their faith. I went because I could miss two days of class to hang out with my friends. In the morning, we walked to a secluded spot in the woods and held Mass. It was there when I realized why I disliked going to church: church was a place of worship for God that was created and controlled by man. The outdoor Mass allowed us to worship God in the glory of His creation, and I felt the presence of the divine unimpeded by the construction and the rhetoric of man.

I quit going to Mass after that. I didn't feel ashamed in the least.

The child-molestation scandal that rocked the Church while I was in the midst of my collegiate years at my (Catholic) university only served to bolster the argument: here these men, allowed to perform the duties of the apostles in the service of Christ, still could not escape the crude evil of their own human tendencies to sin. If we couldn't trust these men with the most innocent among us, our children, who could we trust?

But I always felt I could trust the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II.

It's difficult for someone of my age to convey the magnitude of John Paul's service as pope to people who have lived much longer and have seen pontiffs come and go; it's far harder to explain to some who have memories of when the Mass was said entirely in Latin. John Paul has literally been the Holy Father for my entire life. Unlike other important posts, the President for one, pontiffs have a certain air of eternalness to them. Presidents are designed to come and go every four to eight years based on the will of voters and of rules designed to limit their service. Popes are selected by the power of the Holy Spirit and serve for the rest of their lives. However, John Paul left a lasting impression on the Church he served that was not seen and may not be seen again for centuries. He was a man of God, so much so that even followers and leaders of other faiths have recognized it after his death.

By lapsing into grave sin and betrayal of their congregations, many clergymen proved that they are no better than the worst of the sinners they are called to reconcile to God's loving grace. But John Paul, armed only with a staff and a funny-looking bulletproof car, was willing to stare evil in the face and defeat it. "How many divisions does the Pope have?", Josef Stalin was said to have asked. When communism fell, led by reform spurred by John Paul in his native Poland, the answer finally came: it didn't matter. By the way, the bulletproof "Popemobile" came about because of the attempted assassination against him in 1981; but he didn't even need it when he met, and forgave, his would-be assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca. Furthermore, he won him over so much that he called John Paul his "brother" and grieved over his death. The faith and charisma demonstrated by that one act alone borders on mind-boggling.

It doesn't surprise younger admirers of John Paul, though. The clergy I grew up with seemed indifferent to the concerns of the young; I never established a rapport with them (then of course, too many priests took advantage of the very young). John Paul focused especially on youth during his service. Another youthful Catholic, BlondeChampagne, coined a nickname for John Paul II which I adapted: The Deuce. Calling the Vicar Of Christ by a pet name might seem sacrilegious. But Pope John Paul II once wore a rock star's sunglasses (note: it's unknown whether or not that picture is genuine; however, official photos exist that prove he at least received the shades). In that light, it's not an insult but an expression of our genuine love for him.

Yet while nobody doubts John Paul's charisma, arguments have sprung up from all over about the wisdom of his so-called "closed-minded" faith. But John Paul's never-before-seen appeal was anchored on the eternal truths of Church teaching. No matter: the conservatism of the Church under John Paul is being blamed for everything from the explosion of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa to the departure of millions from the flock. Let's settle these arguments quickly: first, blaming John Paul and the Church's stand against contraception for the AIDS pandemic is one of the most strained leaps of logic I've ever witnessed in my young life. According to the theory, sexually active Africans, by following the Church laws, are transmitting AIDS to their partners with horrifying frequency; however, the Church's view on contraception is only part of its stance on sexual morality, which forbids sexual activity of any kind outside of marriage. Therefore, if Church doctrine were truly being followed, the rate of AIDS transmission would be much, much lower.

Second: millions aren't leaving the Church in a mass exodus because it's too restrictive. Even more "open-minded" organizations are having trouble reaching out to materially wealthy and spiritually complacent societies (but the Church is thriving in Africa and Latin America). People are leaving the Church because they're too lazy to follow it.

Like . . . me.

And now that John Paul is gone, I am ashamed of myself. Ashamed because I let my pet peeves about the ugliness and sensory discomfort of the buildings, the dullness of the homilies, and the evils of some priests distract me from following his more wonderful examples and growing into the fullness of a faith which never really left.

Please forgive me, Holy Father, for I have sinned.

When John Paul left this earth last week, millions of people made a pilgrimage to Rome to view his body. Cardinals convened to determine who should succeed him. The President ordered American flags lowered to half-staff.

And the streets around my local church were lined with parked cars for three blocks in all directions.

(Edited 4/13 3:04 AM to add the Observer link.)


Sunday, April 10

Big Trunk: One Smart Pachyderm

Give That Man A Cigar!

(Note: I wrote and attempted to post this last night, but Blogger's server is still buggy.)

Power Line's John Hinderaker (neé Hindrocket) wonders what exactly Time is trying to say with their ad campaign: "If you want to know why American soldiers are defeated and demoralized, read Time."

Shockingly, I came to the rag's defense in an e-mail reply, opining that the ad wasn't so much an indictment of the war but as a teaser for that particular soldier's story, which I admitted wanting to know about just on the basis of the ad. If that weren't enough, I chided Hindrocket's culture shock a little, then gently mocked their shiny new layout as looking too much like Instapundit's.

And believe it or not . . . they wrote me back! Well, at least Scott Johnson (neé Big Trunk) did:

Date: Sat, 9 Apr 2005 06:16:23 -0500
From: Scott Johnson
Subject: Re: "Know Why" . . . benign explanation?

>Mr. Marchand, thanks for your thoughtful message. I absolutely love the
>name of your site.

Well . . . thanks. I came up with it all by myself.

I presume he gets the reference. I feel like I should send him a cigar or something.

What about the rest of you? I promise it's not really that obscure. You don't have to be Ken Jennings to put it together. E-mail me at and maybe I'll send you a cigar, too.


Friday, April 8

Adopt-A-LPS™ III: The Dumbest Comment I've Ever Received

I Only Have About Nine Total, But Still . . .

Someone calling themselves "Remember" added this to my initial "Adopt-A-LPS™" post:
I wish them well but, I'm not forgetting that these same freedom loving people of Lebanon cheered the fall of the World Trade Center Towers and the deaths of over 3,000 people.

I was pretty sure those were Palestinians celebrating in the streets of East Jerusalem, but never mind that now. Let's go ahead and grant the premise.

Mr. Remember, here's one of the many pictures of the demonstrations in Beirut. I wonder if you could tell me which of these people were the ones celebrating 9/11. Just go ahead and circle them:

Perhaps that's too wide a shot. Here's a panorama view. Once again, single out those who celebrated 9/11.

Oh. You can't.

Please tell me you're not refusing to assist these hundreds of thousands of freedom-loving Lebanese because eight toothless ululating yahoos made spastic bodily movements in front of a CNN camera on 9/11.

Besides, do you think it might possibly be that those who celebrated 9/11 are on the anti-democracy side, whose main ally is . . . Hezbollah? Just wondering.

I suppose the next time there's an earthquake in Japan and the Red Cross organizes a relief effort, we won't be able to count on your support because "these same freedom loving people of Japan orchestrated the attack on Pearl Harbor and the deaths of over 2,000 people."

In fact, by this logic, we shouldn't be spending one red cent on Iraq at all, for either military or humanitarian reasons.

Cough up some dough for the SOA Lebanon Fund and shut the hell up.


Adopt-A-LPS™ Update: The Universe Conspires To Help


Blogger's absolutely freaking out on me, no doubt still reeling from the effects of Instapundit readers flocking to my post. Welcome! In any other situation, I'd invite you further into my demented little corner of cyberspace; but considering what's at stake here, I'd rather you all hit the SOA Lebanon Fund for a dollar apiece. That would be a lot of dollars for a good cause; perhaps even the best cause.

Also, allow me to direct your attention to the blog SOA set up to report on the ground in Beirut. Michael Totten's living my vision over there; they need the cash more than I need the traffic.

I only wish I had known I'd been Insta-linked sooner — today I worked a double shift and last night was Poker Night — so I only just now discovered that Emperor Reynolds linked me 30 hours ago.

But the Poker Night is an interesting story.

I donated $50 to the SOA Lebanon Fund Wednesday afternoon. Fifty dollars is a lot of money to me, especially since I depend on a lot of unreimbursed travel for my job. Every time the price of gas goes up, it dings my pocketbook. Besides the obvious motive of going for a good cause, I justified the cost of the donation in part because of the money I've raked in playing Texas Hold'em recently.

Wednesday nights are when I play my weekly poker pickup tournament with a cast of buddies and bar-goers. I won't bore you with the hand-by-hand details this time, because the result was just so mindblowingly cool: I won the tournament and pocketed $65. Minus my $15 buy-in, my total profit for the night was . . . fifty bucks.

Sometimes the universe conspires to make sure you're fine. (That line shamelessly stolen from a poem by poker pro Phil Hellmuth.)

I'm not a huge believer in the circular mechanisms of karma, but in this case it worked. Even if it hadn't, the monetary sacrifice was worth it.


Wednesday, April 6


>>> Welcome Instapundit Readers! <<<
(Major update to this post here.

Michael Totten is making me very jealous. He's currently on the ground in Lebanon.

Short of winning the lottery tomorrow, I'll never be able to go. So I've ceased the donations for the Send-Me-To-Lebanon Fund. Besides, the motives were selfish: I just wanted pictures of Lebanese Protest Supermodels™ I could call my own.

Instead, I'm funneling them toward a more noble cause: the Spirit Of America Lebanon Fund. Click the link to find out how you can help.

Keep the Cedar Tree Revolution going!

(Edited 4/8 2:57 AM to add the Insta-welcome and update link.)


Tuesday, April 5

Cubs Win! Cubs Win!


And what a win. Final score: 16-6.

Check out these lines:

Patterson: 3-5, 2 RBI, 2 R
Walker: 3-4, RBI, 2 R
Nomar: 2-5, 2 RBI, 2 R
Ramirez: 3-4, HR, 4 RBI, 4 R (can we resign him every day?)
Burnitz: 3-6, R
Lee: 4-6, HR, 2 2B, 5 RBI, 2 R

The only blemish was Zambrano's wildness. He'd thrown 106 pitches in 4 2/3 innings, and got himself in enough trouble that Dusty hooked him before he could qualify for the win. And when Dusty pulls you, he absolutely had to. Worse was that he mouthed off to the ump and got tossed. If he finishes the season 19-9, he'll remember this.

Other than that, allow me to wallow in unfettered optimism. We're on pace for a 162-win season.

I'm surprised virtually nobody else liveblogged the game except me and Grace & Wayne. Like me, he had issues with Blogger's server, AND he had to leave before the end of the game. Freaky.


Monday, April 4

LIVE: Opening Day

Cubs vs. Diamondbacks

4:06 PM — This is my first chance to watch the Len Kaspar/Bob Brenly duo in the broadcast booth, and while they're efficient and professional, they just don't have the rapport of Chip and Steve, or even Pat and Ron. I suppose I'm just biased. Plus, Brenly used to coach the D-Backs, for cryin' out loud.

4:10 — Zambrano will start for the Cubs against ex-Yankee Javier Vasquez. This is a tremendous honor to be bestowed upon young Carlos, given that Greg Maddux could just as easily have started.

4:13 — First pitch: strike to Patterson.

4:14 — Base hit for Corey and an early hit-and-run attempt with Walker. I like the aggressiveness. No more waiting for the three-run poke, fellas.

4:18 — Wild pitch, sac fly by Walker, groundout by Nomar: Cubs lead 1-0 on a fine job of manufacturing the run.

4:20 — Base hit by Ramirez, who today inked a 4-year re-up for his contract. First AB by Burnitz, now. Amazing stat by Kaspar: the last Cubs Opening Day RF who wasn't Sammy Sosa? Andre Dawson.

4:21 — Base hit! Nickel-and-dime 'em, Cubbies!

4:23 — Base hit by Lee, and the carousel continues. Let's see if Zambrano hits before he pitches.

4:27 — Vasquez gets Holly on the high cheese and the inning ends.

4:29 — They talked about what a great year Zambrano had last year, and how impressive his spring was, and his first pitch: well wide of Michael Barrett's glove. But after running 3-0 on Craig Counsell, he popped out.

4:34 — Luis Gonzalez strikes out looking and the D-Backs go in order in the first.

4:38 — Zambrano gets the first XBH of the year. Way to go, hoss!

4:40 — Patterson rips a single to right center and Zambrano wheels all the way home, 3-0. Let's get a big inning and get the kid some rest, eh?

4:43 — Nomar bloops one into center and Patterson comes home. 4-0, four straight hits by the Cubs. This is starting to remind me of the 15-2 shellacking the Cubs put on the Mets a couple years ago. The bullpen's already seeing activity.

4:45 — Ramirez goes off the wall and Walker and Nomar score. 6-0.

4:47 — Double for Derrek Lee and the Cubs are up a touchdown. Here comes the hook for Vasquez. His line: 1 2/3 IP, 10 H, at least 7 ER.

4:52 — Some geezer took a dive after a foul ball. I think he's related to Steve Bartman. Gonzo gave him the ball and he got an ovation.

4:53 — The inning ends unspectacularly, but 5 in the second for the Cubs. Let's have some of that all year.

5:01 — Zambrano cruises through Glaus and Green but Jose Cruz, Jr. goes yard. Fine. See if you can get six more.

5:04 — Carlos K's the side but the Cruz homer makes it 7-1.

5:18 — Have I mentioned my favorite play in baseball is a 4-6-3 double play? That was a nice rally-killer.

5:19 — Gonzo wrecks the shift by dragging a squeeze bunt. I don't know why players who have that shift put on them don't do that every time.

5:20 — Oops! Glaus' excuse-me swing ends the inning. Cubs up 7-2.

5:26 — Ramirez' run-scoring double play reestablishes a six-run cushion.

5:35 — I HATE MY JOB. I've just been called in to cover for somebody. But with the Cubs up six, I was starting to feel silly tracking the game minute-by-minute, anyway. But still.


Sunday, April 3



The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me; you restore my strength. You guide me along the right path for the sake of your name. Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage. You set a table before me as my enemies watch; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come.
—Psalm 23:2-6 (NAB)


Saturday, April 2

Barry, Barry, Quite Contrary

How Do Your Muscles Grow?

America Online now has a blogwatcher (BLOGZone), and in it I discovered a link to a brutal but well-deserved screed against Barry Bonds by Tom McAllister:
Even after you graciously took time out of your schedule to let all of us know exactly what's wrong with us and what's right with you, I still harped on you. Now, your most recent press conference has forced me to look in a mirror and do some serious self-evaluation. I have been too hard on you. The media has been unreasonable to expect you to approach one of America's most beloved institutions with something resembling human decency and honesty. It's us, Barry, not you. We're the ones tearing your family apart. Last week you said, "I'm tired of my kids crying," pointedly jabbing at our own poor family values. I'm sorry that we didn’t look to you sooner as our bastion of family values; you, the man who plays a game loved by his father and godfather, and has blatantly cheated to surpass both of their statistical achievements. If only we had the kind of family values and respect you have.

"You wanted me to jump off a bridge, I finally did," you added. "You finally brought me and my family down. ... So now go pick a different person." I'm so sorry. I really am. I'm sorry that cynics will read the transcript of your carefully orchestrated press conference and wonder if maybe you're so tired and worn out because your drug-addled body has finally had enough. Or if you're walking away from the game because you're afraid that your body will finally betray you, now that you may not be able to get away with blatant cheating. During your second interview, you also, in an apparent effort to remind us that you have no tact or social skills, blurted out, "my balls are the same size they've ever been." Well, Barry, I wonder how true that is, since it escaped from the mouth of a massive man who was whimpering and running away from a challenging atmosphere that he's created for himself. Most cowards don't yell such things as they're running out the door. But you do things differently, we've always known that.

After this, I almost do feel sorry for Barry Bonds.

Wait . . . no, I really don't.


Tom Friedman: Poker Fish

Aces Are Only Worth One, Right??

If you're going to write about something everybody can agree on without much debate, you'd better come up with a novel way to write about it. Enter New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who compared the diplomatic crises Secretaries Of State resolve during their tenure to a poker game:
[E]ventually every secretary gets dealt a poker hand - and you never know when it'll come or what sort of cards it'll contain: the 1973 Middle East war (Henry Kissinger), the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev (George Shultz), the fall of the Berlin Wall (James Baker), Kosovo (Madeleine Albright), Iraq (Colin Powell).
You mean, Secretaries Of State don't know beforehand what sorts of situations they'll encounter? I'm shocked!

This is a bad analogy because a poker hand is a quintessentially random event. What "hands" Condoleezza Rice is dealt, though, is based on all sorts of decidedly non-random events, from how her boss, the President, tackles foreign policy to how well her predecessor, Colin Powell, played his "hand." So being Secretary Of State is less like a poker hand and more like . . . every other job, especially ones in government. But how dull a column would it be if it said something more like "Secretaries Of Health And Human Services, like Michael Leavitt, never know what kind of poker hands they'll get"?

If this weren't bad enough, Friedman immediately proved he has no idea what he's talking about:
And this poker hand is seven-card stud, no-limit Texas Hold 'Em. (served by VodkaPundit)
Guh. The difference between no-limit Texas Hold'em and Seven-Card Stud is kind of like the difference between baseball and slow-pitch softball: the rules and object are the same, but the gameplay is completely different. (To wit, for non-poker players: Stud and Hold'em both use seven cards, but in Hold'em, five cards are common to all players, drastically altering strategy and tactics.)

I won't berate Friedman for his lack of poker knowledge (and to be fair, it could be an editing screwup), but jeez, if you're going to make something the metaphoric lynchpin of your entire column, make sure you get the terms right. If I were going to use ballet as the vehicle to drive one of my posts, I'd at least learn the difference between a pirouette and a . . . a . . . well, that's why I wouldn't do such a thing, because "pirouette" is the only ballet term I know.

Besides, it's not even the worst thing about his column. Aside from the banality of the subject matter (FLASH! Secretaries Of State's tasks are unpredictable, difficult and important!), Friedman serves up several paragraphs of bland succotash about how the crises Secretary Rice face aren't resolving themselves overnight:
Many of the necessary elements for democratization are now in place in Iraq (free and fair elections), in Lebanon (a Syrian withdrawal from Beirut), in Egypt (President Mubarak's commitment to multicandidate presidential elections) and in Gaza (an Israeli commitment to withdraw and Palestinian elections).

But while the necessary conditions may now be in place, the sufficient conditions for democratization are still not present in any of these arenas. The Iraqi election was Jan. 30 and the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis have still not agreed on a government, and the insurgency is still going strong. In Lebanon, the Cedar Revolution is now bogged down in a standoff between pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian Lebanese . . .
A people for whom democracy is a completely new concept haven't gotten with the program after two months? Good heavens, what's taking them so long? I mean, yeah, it took thirteen years for us to go from independence to a stable form of government, but Tom Friedman wasn't sorely lacking for column ideas in the 1780s. Until they hash out their differences, he'll be forced to write columns about how they haven't yet hashed out their differences. (And if he thinks the insurgency is "going strong," I should introduce him to Austin Bay. Or better yet, an article from his own paper.)

And, imagine: the Cedar Revolution lapsing into a struggle with pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian factions. Um . . . that's the point. The anti-Syrians want Syria out of Lebanon and the pro-Syrians don't. Again: a parallel to our own infancy, with revolutionaries standing off with Tories. Evidently, in addition to complete ignorance of poker, it appears Friedman has never cracked open a book on the American Revolution.

You know, writing a column . . . it's kinda like playing poker.

Next time, Tom: fold.


The Death Of Terri Schiavo

And: Lileks Turns Lewis Black And Blue

"The trouble with being a martyr is that you have to die." —

In my previous post on Terri Schiavo, I lamented that so much of the drama surrounding Terri had absolutely nothing to do with her, instead focusing on a smattering of broad implications.

On Thursday, Terri Schiavo died. The argument about her did not.

Whether or not you believe Terri Schiavo actually died in March 2005 or February 1990, it's worth remembering that her life, up until very recently, was nowhere near this complicated. The St. Petersburg Times published a very moving obituary which notes this duality:
Before the prayer warriors massed outside her window, before gavels pounded in six courts, before the Vatican issued a statement, before the president signed a midnight law and the Supreme Court turned its head, Terri Schiavo was just an ordinary girl, with two overweight cats, an unglamorous job and a typical American life.

The life she led, the one she chose, never warranted media coverage. When she collapsed on Feb. 25, 1990, and stopped breathing, she had a few close friends, a family who loved her fiercely, and a name no stranger would recognize. She was 26. When she died Thursday (March 31, 2005), she was an international icon, a vessel into which people poured their need for miracles, their convictions about personal liberty, their ideas of democracy and justice and heroes and villains, and their terror of letting go.

The real tragedy of Terri Schiavo is that despite her death, she will continue to live on as a name invoked and batted around to score political points. Her life, such as it was, will be forgotten. Whether or not she was an "empty vessel" of a human life, in her final days she served as one to the shallow and base tug-of-war epicentered in Pinellas Park but reverberated throughout the world. That's a shame.

The noxious rhetoric emanating from the less courteous on both sides was enough to depress just about anybody, but one of the people who took it the hardest was James Lileks. Shortly before announcing a two-week hiatus from his blog, The Bleat, he said:
[I]f nothing else, this entire affair has made me heartily sick of the very act of reading the Internet. Pardon my language, but I am simply goddamn sick of opinions, period. Right or wrong, well-reasoned or poorly expressed, snarky or solemn, I am tired of the lot of them, my own included. I'm tired of reading blogs and bulletin boards and noting that it's OK to joke about one dead person, perfectly fine to kick the Pope when he's about to give up the ghost, but a breach of human decency to be less than reverential about the passing of a comic who specialized in dope humor. That sort of thing is expected on the internet, but what makes me weary is the blogligation to have an opinion about it and bang it out so the whole world knows I stand four-square against bashing near-dead Popes . . . This isn't meant as a slam at those who write about these things; it's my problem. It began right after the election and it's just gotten worse.
It's not the opinions I have a problem with. I'm perfectly fine having a civil discussion about the role of faith in government or the limits of judicial activism. It's the mad rush to drag Terri Schiavo into it and make her the lead role in a horror show named THEOCONS RUNNING AMOK or KILLER JUDGES ON THE RAMPAGE that's so nauseating. RCP's Tom Bevan grouped these and other hysterical exasperations in a post titled "Our Civil Society".

But have we really gone so far that all that's left is to shake our heads and tsk-tsk-tsk at the demise of reasoned discourse? Lileks was really set off by seeing comedian Lewis Black's book, Nothing's Sacred, or more specifically just the cover, in a Barnes & Noble, and he let Black have it with both barrels:
Oh, you brave fellow, you. Okay, Lewis; nothing's sacred. I expect you to dress up as Mohammed on your next book, grabbing your crotch with one hand and making heavy-metal horns with the other. Nothing's sacred? If you say so. Because America turns its eyes to our comedians to find out whether there might be a jot of a tittle of a scrap of something meaningful in the world aside from the mechanistic process of consumption and excretion. Nothing's sacred? Granted. Enjoy.

. . . I drove to the mall and got my hair cut, then drove Gnat to Target so she could buy a My Little Pony . . . And later as I put Gnat in her carseat and she giggled over her toy, I realized I was still pissed at Lewis Black; if he was there, right there in the parking lot, I would drag him over by his nipples and show him a little kid delighting in the simple fact of a new pink toy on a spring day, and then I'd go all Lewis on him: if nothing's sacred then this is no more important than a bug burrowing into dung.
Well, it's not "going all Lewis," since there's not nearly enough cursing (though when he posted an image of Black's book cover on his website, he named the file jackass.jpg), but the nipple-dragging is a bold choice.

I love Lewis Black's comedy if not his politics, so in fairness to him, there's nothing wrong with irreverence. The quote at the top of this post is from Dogma, committed Catholic Kevin Smith's stinging satire of the Church. It's also hilarious. And the Barnes & Noble review of Nothing's Sacred says that it's an "occasionally lewd 'n' crude but surprisingly heartfelt memoir." That partially belies the title.

But nothing being sacred? A little too far, and I don't even think Black himself believes it, truly. Even if you don't accept the Catholic belief that all human life is sacred, surely people should be able to treat someone like Terri Schiavo as more than a rhetorical crutch. Now that she's passed on, let's all pray both for her eternal soul and that these animals won't now dredge her up so they can add ten exclamation points to their argument.


Fun, But Pointless

Plus You All Saw It Coming

"Kerry/Boxer in '08!" Ha. I slay me.

At least I didn't lose all my posts, blogrolls, etc. Though my profile isn't coming back to normal. I don't want to have "The illegitimate child of Oliver Willis and Ana Marie Cox" up for eternity. (I am, I just don't want it spread around like that.)

It would have been a lot better if I could have made some more detailed fake posts about Chimpy McBushitler, but I just thought of it on the fly. Plus, too much moonbattiness gives me a migraine.

Next year, though . . . next year will be awesome. Or I'll probably realize at about 10:45 PM on March 31 that April Fools' Day is imminent and just throw something against the wall again.

Now . . . to tackle all the posts I should have made over the last day but didn't want to wreck the joke for. (My priorities are totally out of whack.)


Friday, April 1



(Here's my real posts from the last month.)


Location: Mishawaka, Indiana, United States

I graduated with an English degree from the University Of Notre Dame in 2001, and in 2008 I have a day job that has nothing to do with my degree but gets the bills paid in a semi-regular fashion. (I have running water five days a week!) The idea is that once I get turned around on my bills, I go to grad school. I also have an idea for cold fusion. Anyone's guess which will be feasible first. In non-work mode, I'm usually reading columns by famous and well-read thinkers, blogs by critically praised writers, or sometimes blogs by overzealous cranks who make me laugh. I yearn to be all three at once; until then I'll settle for being the third. I also have an undying love for the Chicago Cubs and Notre Dame football. Praise them and I'll buy you a beer; curse them and I'll dump it over your head. If that's not enough, I'm becoming quite the fan of no-limit Texas Hold'em. My games have one of two results: I either win all the money or whine because I didn't win all the money.

marchandchronicles -at-

Fair warning: I reserve the right to post any and all criticisms and flames, in their entirety. Seriously. Just ask this guy.

July 2006
May 2006
April 2006
January 2006

January | February | March | April
May | June | July | August
September | October | November | December

Essays on whatever I feel like writing about.

August 8, 2005: High Gas Prices
August 1, 2005: Judge Roberts' Hearings
June 20, 2005: Senator Durbin's Comments
May 23, 2005: Newsweek & Pepsi
May 2, 2005: Al Gore's MoveOn Speech
April 25, 2005: Lebanon
April 18, 2005: The Nuclear Option
April 11, 2005: Pope John Paul II
March 5, 2005: The Domino Effect
January 31, 2005: Iraqi Elections
January 24, 2005: Bush's Inaugural
January 17, 2005: Roemer, Dean & The DNC

WARNING: links, comments & trackbacks may contain profanities or other items of unscruples. marchand chronicles does not endorse any comment/opinion expressed in any such addendum.

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marchand chronicles has such massive readership and influence that it makes me weep.
—Glenn Reynolds


Damn right.


What's Your Line?


I absolutely love the name of your site.

Scott "Big Trunk" Johnson, Power Line
Just the name? Not the content? . . . I'll take it.

You have something in common with Dave Barry, Hemingway, and Mark Steyn: I'm not linking to them, either.


That's good stuff there Mark.

Dean Barnett, Soxblog
Psst, it's "Mike."

(click to buy)

St. Elsewhere
The Pulse: SIRIUS 9

All text and original images © MMVI by Mike Marchand/Marchand Chronicles.

Okay, so I don't really have a copyright. But I still don't want you ripping me off. Reprint it all over the Internet if you like, but give me proper credit and link back to me. Besides, if you're going to plagiarize, steal from someone with some talent.

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