Ladies and gentlemen, we have statistical evidence of the Bob Barr effect! A new poll in the blood-red state of Georgia, where the Libertarian nominee is from, shows a dead heat: McCain 44%, Obama 43%, Barr 6%. Wow!
Now, a major grain of salt is called for here. It’s very early, and I seriously, seriously doubt these numbers will ultimately hold up. But this sort of polling data (see also: close races in Alaska, North Carolina) can’t make the McCain people happy. Indeed, I bet they’re getting some serious heartburn from the combination of: 1) the recent state polling numbers generally, which show a definite Obama bounce in red, blue and purple states alike, and 2) the noises Obama is making (backed with action) about competing in states like Texas and Indiana.
With regard to Georgia and point #2, the real issue is that, in light of Obama’s decision to change his mind and reject public financing — a tactical no-brainer, notwithstanding its dubiousness in principle — he can afford to put his (abundant) money where his mouth is, and at least force McCain to waste precious resources in these states.
P.S. His mom’s white! He’s from America! Heh.
Over on my photoblog, I’ve posted pictures from my trip to Phoenix and Denver.
We’re back safe & sound in Knoxville, by the way. Loyette was once again a champion flyer — though I think we’ll be paying for the disruptions to her schedule in the form of weekend fussiness.
SportsPickle’s DJ Gallo writes a handy guide to being a bandwagon fan for ESPN’s Page 2. Money quote: “don’t let [people] anywhere near your car. They might get the wrong impression when they see that your bumper is covered in Red Sox, Yankees, Lakers, Celtics, Cowboys, Patriots, USC football and Duke basketball stickers. As though it’s your fault that you have deep, childhood ties to all those teams!” Heh.
Speaking of which, hey, how ’bout those Cubs? ;)
I mentioned yesterday that I noticed a bunch of military helicopters flying over downtown Denver on Monday night, and wondered what the heck was going on. Turns out I wasn’t alone. The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News report that the city police department received numerous calls from members of the public concerned about the aerial activity. Not to worry, folks were told: this was simply “routine” training related to the war on terror, not a response to, or preparation for, any particular threat or crisis.
Here’s some video of the choppers doing their thing:
More detail from the Rocky Mountain News:
The exercise by special ops troops, supported by Denver police SWAT teams and firefighters, is intended to prepare for any terrorism threat in a “realistic urban environment,” said Lt. Steve Ruh, a spokesman for the U.S. Special Operations Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida. …
“It’s all in preparation for anything that could possibly happen with the global war on terrorism,” said Ruh, whose command coordinates all the military branches’ crack commando units - from Army Rangers to Navy SEALS.
The Special Operations Command calls itself the “Tip of the Spear” against the nation’s gravest threats.
Ruh noted that the exercises are conducted in major cities in the U.S., usually at the invitation of the cities, but that doesn’t mean those cities are necessarily possible targets for terrorism.
There was apparently conflicting information at first about whether the location of the training is related to the Democratic National Convention in Denver this August, but the official line appears to be that it is not. Meanwhile, there was some controversy about whether the proper notifications were made:
“The federal agencies sponsoring the ongoing multi-agency training in Denver agreed to make the proper notifications regarding the exercises to prevent surprise and inconvenience to Denver residents,” [Mayor John] Hickenlooper wrote. “There seems to have been a misunderstanding about the reach and scope of these notifications, and they did not occur in the manner expected by the City.
“Although these exercises are in no way connected to the upcoming Democratic National Convention, Denver officials were well aware that there would be heightened sensitivity to an exercise such as this because of its proximity to the Convention,” the mayor continued. “Denver recognizes that these are our federal partners, and we are fortunate that they have chosen Denver for their training exercises. Should there ever be an emergency here that would require federal assistance, they will be familiar with our City and how best to navigate it.” …
“Advance notice was given to the (Denver) civil authorities. We were here as guests,” Ruh said. “It would be up to (local authorities) to send it out.”
[Denver police Lt. Ron] Saunier said that Defense Department officials asked police to “respond to inquiry only.” So he provided a “very generic statement” Monday to police dispatchers in case the public called.
But the official statements were not enough to satisfy some commenters on the Rocky Mountain News website, where the phrase “martial law” appears repeatedly. For example:
This is done to make citizens accustomed to military hardware, and martial law easier to accept. Don’t accept it, Posse Commititus puts citizen protection under police authority. Blending police and military is what tin pot dictators do to control their population. …
just wait until the convention starts, the military, and the local police will be trying out all kinds of toys on the protestors. personally, I cant wait to watch it all unfold on CNN. …
The military is for wars, domestic protection is up to the police. Bringing the military onto our soil to do the cops’ job is martial law, AKA lost liberty …
This is just great…we now accept the military in our cities…the more we accept this the easier it will be for our government to imprison anyone it deems a “terrorist.” We need to fight back NOW …
[T]he Constitution deems a standing military a threat to freedom…what we need in this country is a militia and for everyone to own a gun…I dont need protection from the big bad terrorists and I don’t need blackhawk helicopters flying over our cities…let everyone in this country own a gun with absolutely no restrictions and then we don’t need any protection from anybody …
[T]he first Authorization for Use of Military Force, passed in September 2001 declaring the War on Terror as a war on American soil, the PATRIOT ACT, The Military Authorizations Act, all written to erode our Bill of Rights. These all pave the road to Martial law and suspension of our government. We stand today one national emergency from this possibility. Why do we accept this? …
The oath of the military is to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. I just hope impending martial law triggers memory of this oath among the current servicemen. I love my country and our constitution, loyal to that document and the people, I work to better it by denouncing the current direction we are headed. …
Are you ready for martial law? … We are opening a Pandora’s box here. It’s fun to play with the hardware…but actually using it domestically is another thing…
We are prepping you for MARTIAL LAW. What are you doing reading anyways, you should be watching the sports games like all the other mindless sheeple who have given up their liberty and freedom for a FALSE Security and who revel in being lied to. Franklin said that YOU deserve neither. So go and vote, doesnt matter to us in the CFR and bildaberg group who OWN both political parties! None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. Go back to sleep sheeple and dont google CFR or Bildaberg group, its better not to know who controls/owns you! If a nation expects to be ignorant and free it expects what never was and never will be!
Et cetera, et cetera.
(Hat tip: Marty.)
Sorry for the lack of posts the last couple of days. I haven’t moved up the date of my blog retirement, I promise. :) I’ve just been super-busy in Denver. And speaking of Denver, here’s a cool photo of the D&F clock tower and the Moon last night:
During a previous trip to Denver, it became something of a running joke among Becky, the SHA girls and myself that I was constantly taking pictures of the clock tower. But I think that one’s actually pretty neat!
The Moon and clouds weren’t the only things in the sky over Denver last night. All evening long, a pair of military helicopters was circling over downtown. They were making a lot of noise, but at some points their lights appeared to be off, as if they were operating in some sort of (admittedly rather ineffective) stealth mode. I have no idea what that was all about ("we’re being invaded by Utah," I hypothesized at one point), but it was a little creepy.
Oh, and speaking of, uh, security and stuff: I’m now at the airport waiting for my flight back to Phoenix. This will be my third of four flights in less than a week (Nashville to Phoenix, Phoenix to Denver, Denver to Phoenix, Phoenix to Nashville). So I’ve been spending a lot of time in airports, and I have a question. It’s now been almost two years since the implementation of the "new" security measures involving liquids and gels. Yet all the signs and announcements still talk about these as temporary steps, due to "increased" security. At what point will we end this charade, and acknowledge that these measures are here to stay permanently, or at least indefinitely?
Today at the U.S. Open, Tiger Woods needed a birdie on the 18th hole to force a playoff tomorrow with Rocco Mediate. So, what happened? Well, what do you think happened? This is Tiger Woods we’re talking about. Of course he made it. Here’s the video:
UPDATE: Tiger did it again, and won.
After all the blood and blunders, people are right to be sceptical when good news is announced from Iraq. Yet it is now plain that over the past several months, while Americans have been distracted by their presidential primaries, many things in Iraq have at long last started to go right.
This improvement goes beyond the fall in killing that followed General David Petraeus’s Ã¢â‚¬Å“surgeÃ¢â‚¬Â. Iraq’s government has gained in stature and confidence. Thanks to soaring oil prices it is flush with money. It is standing up to Iraq’s assorted militias and asserting its independence from both America and Iran. The overlapping warsÃ¢â‚¬â€Sunni against American, Sunni against Shia and Shia against ShiaÃ¢â‚¬â€that harrowed Iraq after the invasion of 2003 have abated. The country no longer looks in imminent danger of flying apart or falling into everlasting anarchy. In September 2007 this newspaper supported the surge not because we had faith in Iraq but only in the desperate hope that the surge might stop what was already a bloodbath from becoming even worse (see article). The situation now is different: Iraq is still a mess, but something approaching a normal future for its people is beginning to look achievable.
The article proceeds to explain the improvements in greater detail, and then concludes:
In highlighting the improved conditions in Iraq we do not mean to justify The Economist’s support of the invasion of 2003 (see article). Too many lives have been shattered for that. History will still record that the invasion and occupation have been a debacle. Iraqis even now live under daily threat of violent death: hundreds are killed each month. They remain woefully short of the necessities of life, such as jobs, clean water and electricity. Iraq’s government is gaining confidence faster than competence. It is still fractious, and in many places corrupt.
Nor does it follow that a turn for the better necessarily validates John McCain’s insistence on America staying indefinitely. A safer Iraq might make Barack Obama’s plan to pull out most American troops within 16 months more feasible, though at the moment a precipitate withdrawal looks foolish. But to guard the fragile improvements, the key for America must be flexibility. Both candidates have to keep their options open. If America’s next president gets Iraq wrong because he has boxed himself in during the campaign, all the recent gains may be squandered and Iraq will slide swiftly back into misery and despair. That would be to fail twice over.
We’re safe and sound in Phoenix, having flown in from Tennessee yesterday with no Friday the 13th complications. :) Loyette was amazing; she didn’t cry or fuss at all during takeoff, and she literally slept through landing. At one point in the middle of the flight, she woke up and cried for about 10 seconds — but that was it. Otherwise she was completely calm for the entire flight. She’s an amazing baby. :)
Also amazing: the view out the left-hand side of the plane, where we were sitting, looking south directly into a thunderstorm over west Texas. Neither the photos nor the video that I took remotely do the sight justice, but just for a taste, here’s a photo:
It was really, really cool to see — the second time in a week that I’ve been treated to a great lightning show. This time, of course, we were watching it from 36,000 feet, so it was a very different sort of view. There was lightning every couple of seconds, flashing across the sky and lighting up the clouds in all sorts of awesome patterns. Absolutely incredible.
Here’s an archived radar image of what I believe is the line of storms that we were looking into:
We’ve got a big weekend coming up, in terms of the calendar: tomorrow is Flag Day (and the 233rd anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Army), which of course means it’s also Becky’s birthday. And then Sunday is Father’s Day — my first as a dad — and thus the final day of the U.S. Open, which will be kind of a big deal since we’ll be visiting the golf-loving Zaks.
But before any of those special occasions can arrive, we have to get through today, which is… [cue horror-movie music]… Friday the 13th!! AAAAAHH!!! ;)
So, has anyone had any bouts of bad luck yet?
Personally, I don’t suffer from Paraskavedekatriaphobia — and a good thing, too, because tonight Becky, Loyette and I are flying to Phoenix! The drive to the Nashville Airport will be Loyette’s longest car ride to date, followed by her first-ever plane trip. Wish us, um, luck!
UPDATE: A Friday the 13th fire and power outage in Washington, D.C.!
Commuters should expect major delays on Metro’s Red Line this morning
after a fire on the tracks near the Dupont Circle station, officials
said. At the same time, a power outage in downtown Washington is
affecting thousands of homes and offices, as well as traffic signals
and Metro elevators and lighting.
It sounds like the fire and power outage were unrelated and coincidental. LOL! Friday the 13th is off to a rip-roarin’ start. (Hat tip: ChrisN.)
You know those "House Divided" license plates — they’re really popular here in the South — for families in which the spouses root for rival schools? Well, the governor and first lady of California have something similar going on, except it relates to politics rather than sports, and it’s on their house instead of their car:
(As for those license plates, I need a customized USC/Notre Dame version that says "A Man Divided." Heh. Okay, not really, but it’d look cool, anyway…)
InstaPundit’s tongue-in-cheek take: “Since it’s generally thought that men are disproportionate consumers of porn because of their gender, and because, hormonally, they’re driven to favor visual stimuli, then obviously punishing porn consumption constitutes sex discrimination, and is probably unconstitutional. Plus, research establishes that porn is good for America. You don’t hate America, do you?” Heh.
My preview of the hurricane season is up on Pajamas Media. Perhaps the most interesting point is this:
There…seems to be a new focus among the [seasonal] forecasters on explaining the uncertainties inherent in their task. NOAA, for instance, now includes percentage probabilities along with its predictions of storm activity, somewhat like the margin of error in a public opinion poll. And the margin is quite high: Ã¢â‚¬Å“an above-normal season is most likely (65% chance), [but] there is a significant 25% chance of a near-normal season and a 10% chance of a below-normal season.Ã¢â‚¬Â (Definitions here.) Ã¢â‚¬Å“This outlook is probabilistic, not deterministic,Ã¢â‚¬Â NOAAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s introduction states. It is Ã¢â‚¬Å“based on predictions of large-scale climate factors known to be strong indicators of upcoming seasonal Atlantic hurricane activity,Ã¢â‚¬Â but there are Ã¢â‚¬Å“uncertainties inherent in such climate outlooks,Ã¢â‚¬Â which the percentage probabilities are designed to take into account. …
Still, despite these acknowledged uncertainties, and despite the recent failures, forecasters have soldiered on and tried their best to accurately predict the 2008 season. In fact, the Klotzbach/Gray team has based its forecast on a newly tweaked model, designed to correct some of the errors of previous years. Cynics might compare this to college footballÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s BCS, which has repeatedly changed its formula to compensate for previous yearsÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ problems Ã¢â‚¬â€ the sports equivalent of Ã¢â‚¬Å“hindcastingÃ¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬â€ only to see brand new problems develop in subsequent seasons.
On the other hand, this is how the science evolves, and Klotzbach and Gray are forthright in admitting that it is a work in progress. In any event, Ã¢â‚¬Å“hindcastsÃ¢â‚¬Â based on the new model come much closer to the mark than the real-time forecasts did in all of the last four years, which is significant, since 2004 and 2005 were both well above average (and were under-forecasted), while 2006 and 2007 were below average (and were over-forecasted). Ã¢â‚¬Å“The new hindcast model improves upon our real-time forecasts by approximately 60%Ã¢â‚¬Â¦over the period from 2004-2007,Ã¢â‚¬Â Klotzbach and Gray write.
P.S. Naturally, the comments are all about… you guessed it… global warming. *sigh*