Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sportscasters: the New Political Pundits

Roger L. Simon and Lionel Chetwynd discuss the pretension. You might need to choose a "video quality" in the bottom left.

Nelson Cruz highlights and interview

begin at 1:30 mark of video

Heroism surrounds Elm Grove, WI train crash into minivan

Everyone lived, and the two injured men are expected to recover. A police officer was injured, and is in satisfactory condition. The father of the two year old child is severely injured, is in critical condition, yet is expected to recover. The two year old child did not sustain injury.

Elm Grove, WI

Bumper to bumper traffic going to parade. Minivan on train tracks. Train whistle; lights begin to flash, RR gates go down; train is 30 seconds away. 40 year old Monica Partenfelder is at wheel of minivan; her 2 year old son in child safety seat in back seat. She is blocked in traffic, trying to maneuver off of tracks. She guns engine, minivan flips sideways to face directly towards oncoming train. Front wheel drive minivan's front wheels now will not gain traction in gravel along sides of RR tracks. She is burning rubber and going nowhere.

Traffic cop John Krahn, 41, comes running, opens drivers door, yanks Ms. Partenfelder out, begins trying to gain entrance to back seat.

Scott Partenfelder, 47 year old husband of Monica, is in traffic several cars back, with two other of the family's children, and comes running on foot. He opens the rear side door of the minivan and tries to extricate his 2 year old son from the child safety seat.

The train hits the minivan. Both Mr. Partenfelder and Officer Krahn are sent flying through the air, sustaining serious injuries. The minivan is sent flying through the air, ending up 200 feet(!) from the site of the impact. Minivan's front end is crushed in. Onlookers rush to the injured Officer Krahn, who screams at them "Get the kid out of the van!" Onlookers rush to the minivan, find the child uninjured and secured in a child safety seat which "has not moved an inch."

Officer Krahn underwent surgery and is in "satisfactory" condition. Scott Partenfelder underwent 8 hours of surgery, is in critical condition, yet is expected to recover.

Train Rescue: Father and Officer Called Heroes

Heroic Rescue: Two Hurt

Factors, among many, which I suspect played parts in the child's survival:

1) The train engineer saw the trouble from a good distance away, and had begun braking the train and cutting the train's speed as much as possible.

2) The minivan was directly facing and squared up to the impact.  American vehicles are engineered to withstand head on impacts.  They have crumple zones and reinforced protections for passenger compartments.

3) It's a blessing that Scott Partenfelder was unable to loose the child safety seat restraints.  Had he unbuckled the child, things could have taken a worse turn.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Hot

"Last year, the New York Times published a piece reflecting on a study that revealed that women tend to be more aroused by images of women than images of men. [Greg's note: the way I read the article, women tend to be more aroused by sensuous actions or scenarios involving persons of either gender]
Heterosexual women, Dr. [Meredith] Chivers and her colleagues found, were no more excited by athletic naked men doing yoga or tossing stones into the ocean than they were by the control footage: long pans of the snowcapped Himalayas.

When straight women viewed a video of a naked woman doing calisthenics, on the other hand, their blood flow increased significantly.

Mixed Martial Arts fighter Gina Carano

The conclusion?
What really matters to women, Dr. Chivers said, at least in the somewhat artificial setting of watching movies while intimately hooked up to a device called a photoplethysmograph, is not the gender of the actor, but the degree of sensuality.

And naked female bodies tend to suggest sensuality.
I generally need more context for images of men. Context allows me to sexualize their bodies.

And this difference might be due in part to how I relate to men sexually, which tends to be less visual than aural, tactile, and contextual."

Sexy context: taking out the trash.

Why Husbands Don't Take Out the Trash:
NEW YORK – When a man fails to help out around the house, his poor performance might be related to a subconscious tendency to resist doing anything his wife wants, a new study suggests.
Fitzsimons said the results “suggest that reactance to significant others is so automatic that I can’t possibly be expected to control it if I don’t even know it’s happening.”

Texas Rangers: Dynasty Under Construction

Tommy Hunter starts today, in his third ever major league start, against Oakland. Last month, I described Hunter's wonderful competitive defiance.

Mike Hindman interviews Minor League Pitching Coordinator Danny Clark:
Inside Corner: Let’s talk about Blake Beavan. There’s been a lot of hand-wringing about his drop in velocity since turning pro.

DC: It’s fine. He was hitting 93 mph [Saturday] night. Remember, he’s just 20 years old.

I’m a big Blake Beavan fan. The thing he’s got that you just don’t see from many guys is total fastball command in the zone. Blake can get it over in any part of the zone he wants whenever he wants. We’re actually having him throw more 4-seamers and getting away from the 2-seamers for now to build some velocity back up and he’s learning he can succeed with that pitch. I’m not a guy who thinks that velocity is the be-all, end-all especially if you have the pitchability that Blake has.

I was there for his complete game and he got through all nine innings in 101 pitches. He just almost never gets out of the zone. Again [Saturday]: no walks and he got through seven in 98 pitches.


LH Martin Perez
photo by Mike Hindman

Inside Corner: What’s the plan for Martin Perez? What good will it do for him to keep beating up on the Sally League?

DC: Well, that’s open for discussion. The big thing is to control his innings. We want him to come in around 110 this year. But he’s just a special player, ability-wise. He can put the fastball where he wants it, and it’s 94. He can drop the curve where he wants it and it‘s a plus pitch. His change is there now. He’s just on another level.

Inside Corner: And he’s got some swagger.

DC: Yeah, he does. Big league swagger.

Notes on Rangers Major League club

I'm concerned about our free swinging ways. The Red Sox grind pitchers: force em to throw a lot of pitches, force em to come over the plate, get starting pitchers out of games early. This is the way an offense succeeds in Playoff Games and World Series Games: dominate your strike zone, lay off bad pitches, grind. Force the pitcher to come to you. The Yankees grind pitchers(and look to have a spectacular 2009 offense - just spectacular). The A's grind pitchers; the Twins grind pitchers.

The Rangers are free swinging fools. The offense now becomes the one area which can prevent a Rangers dynasty from occurring. Defense? It's 100% going to be there. Pitching? The Rangers can't trade away enough pitchers to ruin their future World Series pitching. Therefore, future Rangers success becomes all about offense. We don't want a franchise which becomes a Sports Center star by beating up on mediocre pitching, yet which cannot score 4 or 5 against good pitching. We don't want a front running offense which wins 100 games and then lays an egg in the World Series - every hitter swinging for the fences, trying to hit a solo 5 run home run on every swing. Useless. Our hitters must become smarter.

The offense has hurt the 2009 Rangers more than the pitching; more than the defense. The Rangers offense is like a football team which hangs 50 on Baylor, spends a week celebrating itself to death, then gets only a field goal against OU. That's a useless offense. Again I remind of the Oakland A's of Canseco and McGuire: those teams laid eggs in Playoffs and World Series Games: losing to underdog Dodgers; losing to underdog Cincinnati. It was the offense. The free swinging Bash Brothers could be shut down, could be prevented from scoring at all. They kept losing to teams which found myriad ways to scratch 4 runs across in a tough game. The more desperate the Bash Brothers got, the more desperately they tried to hit 5 run homers with the bases empty. They went down, hard.

These are the batters the Rangers can depend on to force pitchers to throw strikes:

Ian Kinsler
Omar Vizquel: a winning player
Andruw Jones: excellent eye for a power hitter: a winning offensive player
David Murphy: also a winner - a battler - battles, battles, battles
Elvis: Elvis will do what it takes to win - inclu a scrupulous batting eye
Teagarden: almost a clone of Jim Sundberg's strengths and weaknesses

Nelson Cruz is fighting to develop the batting eye which will save his career and earn him $150 million. He is showing promise of becoming a judicious hitter. I like Nelson Cruz' chances of succeeding.

Nelson Cruz is on pace to steal 30 bases this season. Imagine that. I don't think he will maintain this pace through a brutal Texas summer. But, still: outstanding. Nelson Cruz could become a force which scares opponents half to death. Whether he does is almost 100% dependent on how he develops his batting eye. Cruz has already proven he can hit every pitch in his strike zone (with impressive power).

From here down, it's okay with me if we trade any of these guys:

Michael Young: he'll never change his free swinging, and therefore might not be a championship hitter. He sets a horrifying HORRIFYING example for the Rangers young hitters. It kills me. Drives me crazy.

Hamilton: I've no idea what will happen with Hamilton. This April, if a pitch was going to stop anywhere near the backstop, Hamilton was flailing at it. He's been bad - unquestionably bad - so far this season. I'd hate to trade him, but he could be a #6 hitter who had a hot streak last season and needs line-up protection.

Marlon Byrd: He doesn't really swing at bad pitches, but he doesn't really swing at good pitches. Rarely sees more than 2-3 pitches before putting the ball in play. Hits strikes which are on the corners. Doesn't wait for "his pitch" which he can drive. Murphy, for comparison, looks for "his pitch" to drive; then battles if he gets two strikes. Murphy sees a ton of pitches; Murphy wears pitchers down; even Murphy's outs are beneficial to the team. Byrd sees 2 pitches and grounds out to SS. Byrd lets the starting pitcher off the hook; Byrd lets the starting pitcher get closer to pitching the 7th and 8th innings.

Saltalamacchia: I've no idea if he will save himself from his free swinging curse.

Chris Davis: same. Once again: ought to be in AAA. I think Davis benefitted last season from hitting 9th and being protected by Ian Kinsler. When Kinsler hits behind you, you are going to see strikes. This season, Davis is hitting in front of Saltalamacchia and Teagarden. Davis is not seeing the same pitches, and is being totally exposed as a hitter who does not know the strike zone. It's cringe-inducing to watch Davis wildly swinging at pitches way off the plate. Fingernails on a chalkboard.

Blalock: an immature child. A lost cause. Has ruined his career via free swinging and trying to pull every pitch. Has cost himself $100 Million dollars, easy. Probably $150 Million, or even more. A tragedy. A losing player - and it absolutely pains me to say that. No one has rooted for Hank Blalock longer and harder than I have. Hank had a year off to watch baseball, notice some nuance, and restructure his losing plate approach. He did not. He is what he is: a limited role player, at best, on a championship team.


Minor leaguers who show good batting eyes, and whom I would be very happy to eventually see in Arlington:

OF..Brandon Boggs
C... Max Ramirez
1B.. Justin Smoak
SS.. Marcus Lemon
3B.. Johnny Whittleman


Minor leaguers who could become free swinging, losing major league players:

CF Julio Borbon

Borbon needs a FULL season at AAA. Borbon DOES NOT need to be "pushed". He must be forced to force his way into the line-up. He must be forced to completely, completely prove himself - and then he must be forced to wait for an opening, "We're sorry, Mr. Borbon, but you are blocked." He's got to develop a batting eye before he comes to Arlington and watches Michael Young's at bats (as watching Michael Young is detrimental for a young hitter).

CF Greg Golson
SS Joaquin Arias (probably will become a judicious batter)
2B Jose Vallejo
Util German Duran (probably will become a judicious batter)
3B Esteban German I was wrong about Esteban German being a wild swinger. His OBP is close to .400. Excellent! I would be happy to someday see him in Arlington.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Slanderous blog spat!

Jack Jodell is slandering me at his site!  

Actually, the screaming headline is just for amusement.  It's only a couple of tiny things. I could just let it go.  Except, since I buy pixels by the barrel: may as well call him on it. Also, readers love a good blog fight: trashy fun. And maybe I enjoy it too: change of pace.

Because Blogger restricts length of comment, I broke a comment at Jack's blog into three consecutive comments(spaced approx 30 seconds apart).  My response ran long in order to respond to each of Jack's misguided assertions.  Jack deleted my comments.  I kept a copy of my comments, and later pasted them into
this End Zone post. Jack ran with this circumstance as an opportunity to exaggerate:
"I replied to the visitor, and returned later to see that he had commented again, in rapid succession, 4 or 5 times in a row."
To which I reply: that's a bullshit misleading statement, and indicative of insecurity. If you were confident of your logic, you would not waste time on slander, but would go directly to logical refutation.  You see what I'm saying?  If what I said was illogical, there would be no need to (mis)characterize me to your readers:  your refutation of my illogic would be more than enough for your readers to get the point.

More Jack:
"I quickly skimmed his first two replies and determined they were of the similar hair-splitting variety...."
LOL. Disagreement = "hair-splitting."  Notice "I quickly skimmed".  I am not worth Jack's time, my opinion is not worth his attention, yet he wrote 1200 words back at me yesterday.  More Jack:
"But this fellow evidently didn't see it that way and apparently wanted to make a federal case out of the matter by posting our back and forth point by point on his blog. Even after I had commented I would no longer discuss torture or waterboarding with him."
"Federal case" = Federal LOL.  Besides, didn't you, Jack, in my comment section on Monday, graciously give permission for the exercise of my free speech rights on my own blog? You: "...and I will no longer debate torture with you, period. Good evening, sir, and do as you wish in your blog tomorrow." So you changed your mind on both points: 
1) you rejoined the waterboarding debate on your blog, and 
2) you then protested("federal case") my free speech exercise on my own blog. 

More Jack:
"It would appear he is indeed obsessive and may be attempting to make me and what I have written a cause celebre among his friends on the right who support waterboarding and deny it is a form of torture."
Nah. I don't have that kind of influence. You are a cause celebre amongst some of my relatives.

More Jack:
"No doubt he is making an effort to show how supposedly narrow-minded I and we others on the left are who oppose the use of waterboarding."
I don't consider you "narrow minded" for holding a different opinion. Anyone who is a Twins fan cannot be all bad. But your exaggerations and mischaracterizations, of me personally, are starting to piss me off. You ought defend your opinion without slandering and misrepresenting me.

More Jack:
"I consider this to be a bit over the top, in view of the circumstances...."
What you are saying is: Shut up you conservative who disagrees with me. Shut up! Stop disagreeing with me on your own blog! 

Jack's continuation of the above sentence:
"...but I do recognize and acknowledge his right to free speech and interpretation,...."
Except your actions belie these words, otherwise you would not be mischaracterizing me, i.e. "rapid succession 4 or 5 times in a row"; you would not be launching vague ad hominem accusations, ie.: "hair-splitting" "federal case" (which, technically, is a specific accusation!) "obsessive and may be attempting ... a cause celebre" (funny on a couple of levels).

Jack continues that sentence:
"...even though I, as administrator of this site, do find his arguments supporting waterboarding and denying it to be a form of torture personally and morally objectionable, as I do Mr. Cheney's. So I haven't even bothered to revisit his site, nor will I again. The information I present below will make his presentation a moot point, and is directed at all who share his viewpoint."
Then Jack links to scholarly legal arguments about why waterboarding is torture - which: I'm glad he does link to those arguments, and I'm glad he is joined in the debate. 

Our nation's debate over this is a sign of our nation's greatness. This debate is something to step back from, for a moment, and just admire: a great nation conducting a great discussion about what is moral and righteous. Both sides are arguing from selflessness; from commitment to virtuous action. Like our peaceful transference of power after an election: this argument is something to admire and to be thankful for. I am thankful for it.  

I'm even thankful for a trashy fun blog spat.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Couple Dancing, Harry's Tinaja, Alpine, TX

I love to study this girl's face. What does her expression convey? Shyness? Embarrassment at being photographed? Loving the attention - loving that the photographer picked her as a subject - unable to restrain a smile of delight at the inherent compliment? Shy, and embarrassed, and loving the attention all at the same time? If she's embarrassed, exactly what is she embarrassed about? Does she believe she is unworthy of being photographed? Is she embarrassed about her dancing? Embarrassed about her end of a long day sweaty hair?

Is that a ring on his finger, slipping down towards his knuckle? The couple is sunburned. Could they be on their honeymoon? Or, is the couple on a date? Have then been hunting? Riding around in an open jeep? Are they a married couple who have been working in their yard all day? Planting a vegetable garden? Watching a nephew play in a Little League game?

I really like this couple. If they are not married, I hope they get married and have a wonderful life together.

This is a classic American photograph.  You can see this type of couple in almost any small town in America.  And I always do see these couples when I drive:  all over Texas, in Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana.  Everywhere.  All those couples are part of what attracts me to the photo of the Harry's Tinaja couple. 

This girl is attractive and desirable. I can't decide if she knows it. One time I look at this, and think: she totally knows it! J'accuse! The next time, I think: she doesn't know it. She wants to think she is attractive and desirable, but she just won't allow herself to believe it. Every time I stumble across this in my photo cache, I have a different opinion about what the girl's face is communicating. It's part of the attraction of the photo. Today: I think she knows it. Totally.

Photos of Harry's Tinaja. Harry is an immigrant from, I believe, Germany. I've no idea how he selected Alpine, TX as his American home.

Alpine is beautiful: rugged, mountains in the distance, miles of sky in every direction. Alpine is a couple hours from El Paso, and maybe an hour from Mexico.

Alpine resident
Hugh MacLeod is a big time marketing bigshot, and now a budding artist. He grew up in England, has worked in London, Chicago, New York. He says: "Texas has the least racial prejudice of any place I've ever lived." That's easy for me to believe about a place like Alpine, or about any towns which are within a couple hours of the border, and which have been infused with (or actually founded by) Mexicans since the first moment of the towns' existences. Good people. You can see lots of good Alpine people in the photos of Harry's.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sotomayor a blowhard; a judicial Joe Biden

Barack's judgments, selections, and actions define him.

Why wouldn't an intellectual lightweight select a couple of intellectual lightweights: Biden and Sotomayor, for key positions? Anyone who criticizes must be racist, sexist, or, in Biden's case: blowhardist.


Being two-faced as a strategy: somethings got to give

Darren Hutchinson, quoting E.J. Dionne:
Last Thursday afternoon, for example, the White House invited in journalists, mostly opinion writers, to sell them on the substance of the president's big speech on Guantanamo and the treatment of detainees.

Unbeknown to the writers until afterward, they had been divided into two groups, one more centrist with a sprinkling of moderate conservatives, the other more liberal. (I was in the liberal group.) The president made an unscheduled appearance at each briefing. As is his way, he charmed both groups.

The idea, as far as I can determine, was to sell the liberal group on those aspects of Obama's plan that are a break from George W. Bush's policies, and to sell the centrist group on the toughness of the president's approach and the fact that it squares with Bush's more moderate moves later in his second term.
Barack's Presidency will be the longest he has ever held one job. You can be all things to all people only if you keep moving: if you stay a moving target. Barack is pinned to this job for almost 4 more years. Somethings got to give.

Americana: When Hollywood Was Supportive of American Troops

Robert Avrech has photos and descrip.

Leftist Faith, Censorship, Cheney opinion

I sporadically visit left blogs - out of curiosity.  I'm kind of ready to stop.  I'm nearly fully educated about left side opinion.  I do like Darren Hutchinson's blog:  Dissenting Justice.

I decide, sometimes, to not allow misguided assertions to go unchallenged.  I always hope some lone reader will see the logic of my comment, and the logic will be a small factor in a decision to reconsider their faith in leftist cant.  

Some things I've learned (edited to add in three "most"s):

Most committed left persons believe their political opinions confer virtue upon them.  Their political opinions must be correct, as holding an incorrect opinion amounts to being unvirtuous (according to their thinking), and they cannot possibly be unvirtuous.  Besides, everyone they respect holds the same political opinion, ergo the opinion must be correct.  Echo chamber.

Most committed left persons cannot logically defend their opinions.  They sometimes try to defend based upon clueless belief in fantasy.  They sometimes try to defend with deception (which they rationalize as virtuously serving a greater good - plus, at any rate,  "Tu quoque, you hypocrite righties!").  They sometimes try to obscure via throwing out huge clouds of flak, for instance: false-info flak, ad hominem flak, straw-man flak - all of which take forever to completely round up and refute, most of which serve to obscure and wrest attention from the original opinion which the left person was unable to logically defend. 

In absence of understanding the logic of leftist cant, most committed lefties have faith that some smart lefty - at Daily Kos, or somewhere - can defend what they consider obviously correct leftist cant.  That faith is enough.  FAITH.  Their opinion is based upon their faith.  Everyone whom they trust holds the same opinion - which reinforces their faith the opinion must be correct.  They don't understand the logic of why their opinion is correct, yet it simply MUST BE.  

So, I visit lefty blogs; and sometimes I comment; and sometimes, if a lefty blogger feels  embarrassed or exposed, my comments are deleted.  The left is very much about censorship of those who disagree with them.  I've taken to sometimes copying my comments (in case they are deleted - in the instance below, I wanted to make sure I had the links).  

I offer such a deleted  comment below.  I left an original comment, blogger Jack Jodell responded, and this is a copy of my (now deleted) response to his response.  In my response, I reproduced his entire comment (pink) in sections which could be responded to.

(Jack:)  Thank you for visiting. 

(Me:) Thanks for responding.  Appreciate it.

I categorically reject your assertion and agreement with Cheney that waterboarding was necessary and beneficial.

I got it.  I'm giving greatest weight to GWB, Cheney, DCI Tenet, DCI Gen. Hayden, AG Mukasey.  I respect your decision to give greater weight to other voices.

CIA interrogators have confirmed that vital information had been obtained as a result of the FBI's traditional interrogation methods, and that torture techniques yielded garbage or nothing at all.

Dick Cheney, Dec 2008:  
"There was a time there, three or four years ago, when about half of everything we knew about al Qaeda came from one source[KSM]".
Tenet, on "60 Minutes" in April 2007:  
"I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us."
Hayden and Mukasey in WSJ:  
"[A]s late as 2006, even with the growing success of other intelligence tools, fully half of the government's knowledge about the structure and activities of al Qaeda came from those [enhanced] interrogations."
Did waterboarding one prisoner 183 times in one month, 6 times a DAY, lead to the capture of Bin Laden, or the capture of 182 other Al Qaeda members? Absolutely not.

Actually, waterboarding led to the capture of many Al Qaeda operatives - including many at the top.  The absence of further large scale attacks on the U.S. is an indicator that Al Qaeda was hurt by something.  Intelligence info is a good bet to be part of that hurt.

Also, sur, unlike you modern "conservatives", my stance on an issue is not colored by only how it may or may not affect me or members of my immediate family (extensions of myself). Unlike you, apparently, I am not that self-centered.

I got it.  You would not waterboard in order to save your wife and young daughters, in order to save your sister and your young niece and nephew, in order to save an American city from terrorist attack.  You take a principled stand.  

IMO, you misunderstand the ethics of the situation, you misunderstand the carefully considered limits and techniques which our interrogators employed, you misunderstand the distinction between torture and a harrowing experience.  However, you stand firmly for your principles - even when your principles result in  agonizing cost of life.   I respect that. 

I don't, however, actually believe you. I believe you believe you.  It's just that I don't believe you.  In a ticking clock scenario, many techniques might be morally  justified.  

"But there was another oath everyone in the underground tacitly made...: 'I promise never to reveal the whereabouts of my companions to the secret police however brutally they torture me.' We all accepted this charge as a moral statement of intention, without deceit or mental reservation, yet without having the slightest certainty that we could carry it out. And the reason for the uncertainty was simple. Nobody actually knows how long he can last until he’s actually in the situation.
It is not often realized that the oath not to break under torture is very similar to [a] promise never to use coercion even as 'a last and desperate option' against a brutal enemy. Fighting terrorism, like the promise never to break under duress, is a test of how much one can endure without crossing a line. And when fear and survival are stake, I am not sure at all what lines people won’t cross.
It is one thing to swear that you will not divulge secrets to the Marcos police under any circumstances, while sitting safe in a bolthole, with a .38 in your lap. It’s quite another to say nothing when your interrogator is prying your eyeball out with a penknife. It is one thing to say I won’t use coercive methods even as 'a last and desperate option' in the War on Terror, but entirely another matter to maintain that stance when your child is gasping for breath through his anthrax ridden lungs. Anybody who tells you different is probably a liar or fooling himself."
Greg's note (this note was not in my comment):  

I am, always, in favor or morality and opposed to immorality.  However, every ticking clock scenario exists on it's own merits.  

Is it moral to allow a child to die while the person who buried the child in a hole is spared pain and suffering?  Such a scenario actually and recently happened in Germany.  The police chief made it known that he was about to inflict severe pain and suffering upon the kidnapper; the kidnapper immediately gave up the location of the child.  Police rushed to the location, found the child, and tragically were too late:  the child had suffocated.  

Is it moral to allow 10,000 to die while a terrorist - who could have morally been shot on sight instead of being taken captive - is spared the choice of either 
1) giving up the murderous plot, or 
2) undergoing pain and suffering and then potentially giving up the plot?  

Are we so willing to legitimize a terrorist bombing plot that we afford the terrorist the same protections as a uniformed soldier of a nation state?  I am no expert on the ethics of these matters, but I suspect true morality in such situations involves more than bumper sticker slogans; I suspect understanding true morality involves more than a blithe belief that morality is easy and obvious in every situation.   

Rather, my opposition to the use of torture is based far more broadly and accurately, on the FACT that our use of torture gives the green light to Al Qaeda and all future enemies to use torture on OUR soldiers and OUR citizens.

I reject your premise that we torture.
(this note was not in my comment)  Medal of Honor winner, and Vietnam POW: Col Leo Thorsness, commenting at Powerlineblog:

"When I wrote Surviving Hell in 2008, initially I did not include discussions of torture, knowing that others had earlier described it. My editors encouraged me to add it; if our younger population reads only current books, they may perceive that the treatment at Abu Grab and Gitmo was real torture. I added my experience being tortured so that readers will know that there is abuse and humiliation, and there is torture.

If someone surveyed the surviving Vietnam POWs, we would likely not agree on one definition of torture. In fact, we wouldn't agree if waterboarding is torture. For example, John McCain, Bud Day and I were recently together. Bud is one of the toughest and most tortured Vietnam POWs. John thinks waterboarding is torture; Bud and I believe it is harsh treatment, but not torture. Other POWs would have varying opinions. I don't claim to be right; we just disagree. But as someone who has been severely tortured over an extended time, my first hand view on torture is this:

Torture, when used by an expert, can produce useful, truthful information. I base that on my experience."
If captured U.S. military are treated exactly as we treat Al Qaeda captives, then our fight with Al Qaeda will be over, and truce will be at hand, as Al Qaeda will have become civilized. 

I also reject your premise that Al Qaeda needed permission or excuse for barbarity.  Have you seen Danny Pearl's video beheading?  The beheading of the student from Univ. of Oklahoma?  Have you read of the brutal torture and murder of captured Soviets during the USSR invasion of Afghanistan?

We can only pray that future captured U.S. personnel - captured by any nation or group - will be treated as humanely as we treat those whom we capture.  Such would be a blessing.  A civilized blessing.

Not only that, but it vindicates Nazi torture and imperial Japanese torture.

"To claim that the Japanese -- architects of the Bataan Death March -- were prosecuted for 'waterboarding' would be like saying Ted Bundy was executed for engaging in sexual harassment. 
The Japanese 'water cure' was to 'waterboarding' as practiced at Guantanamo what rape at knifepoint is to calling your secretary "honey." 

The Japanese version of 'waterboarding' was to fill the prisoner's stomach with water until his stomach was distended -- and then pound on his stomach, causing the prisoner to vomit. 

Or they would jam a stick into the prisoner's nose so he could breathe only through his mouth and then pour water in his mouth so he would choke to death. 

Or they would "waterboard" the prisoner with saltwater, which would kill him."
We have always set high moral standards for military and legal conduct for the world to see and follow until Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush destroyed those standards altogether.

Disagree that our standards were/are destroyed.  I believe the Bush Admin's efforts to stay within morality and the law, and this nation's subsequent discussion about morality, is one of our nation's shining moments.  

That is another reason the preceding administration has made us less, rather than more, safe.


[long comparison of Bush to Himmler, Mengele, WWII Japanese, et al]

I reject your premise that we tortured KSM, Abu Zubaida, and the other guy.

Dick Cheney is a liar and a war criminal, and he must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

I would LOVE to see that prosecution!  That's entertainment!  Bring it on!  

End note:  Regarding VP Cheney's truthfulness: Webutante has personal experience of VP Cheney's shining honesty during a fishing tournament. What more could anyone ask? Fishing + Honesty = Powerful Evidence! 

Monday, May 25, 2009

In 2005, Major Steve Reich and Lt. Michael Murphy perished on the same Afghanistan mountain range

Major Reich and Jill Blue were married three months before his death.

Major Steve Reich was a West Point Cadet, a left handed pitcher for Team USA, and later a Helicopter Pilot in Afghanistan. Links to Major Reich's story:

The Navy's Information Page about Lt. Michael Murphy's Medal of Honor describes Major Reich's helicopter crash:
On June 28, 2005, deep behind enemy lines east of Asadabad in the Hindu Kush of Afghanistan, a very committed four-man Navy SEAL team was conducting a reconnaissance mission at the unforgiving altitude of approximately 10,000 feet. The SEALs, Lt. Michael Murphy, Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny Dietz, Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew Axelson and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell had a vital task. The four SEALs were scouting Ahmad Shah – a terrorist in his mid-30s who grew up in the adjacent mountains just to the south.

Under the assumed name Muhammad Ismail, Shah led a guerrilla group known to locals as the "Mountain Tigers" that had aligned with the Taliban and other militant groups close to the Pakistani border. The SEAL mission was compromised when the team was spotted by local nationals, who presumably reported its presence and location to the Taliban.

Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy, 29, from Patchogue, NY and Sonar Technician -- Surface 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson, 29, of Cupertino, Calif, taken in Afghanistan. Murphy and Axelson were killed by enemy forces during a reconnaissance mission, Operation Redwing, June 28, 2005. They were part of a four-man team tasked with finding a key Taliban leader in the mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan, when they came under fire from a much larger enemy force with superior tactical position. U.S. Navy photo (RELEASED) 050628-N-0000X-005

A fierce firefight erupted between the four SEALs and a much larger enemy force of more than 50 anti-coalition militia. The enemy had the SEALs outnumbered. They also had terrain advantage. They launched a well-organized, three-sided attack on the SEALs. The firefight continued relentlessly as the overwhelming militia forced the team deeper into a ravine.

Trying to reach safety, the four men, now each wounded, began bounding down the mountain's steep sides, making leaps of 20 to 30 feet. Approximately 45 minutes into the fight, pinned down by overwhelming forces, Dietz, the communications petty officer, sought open air to place a distress call back to the base. But before he could, he was shot in the hand, the blast shattering his thumb.

Despite the intensity of the firefight and suffering grave gunshot wounds himself, Murphy is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates. Murphy, intent on making contact with headquarters, but realizing this would be impossible in the extreme terrain where they were fighting, unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his own life moved into the open, where he could gain a better position to transmit a call to get help for his men.

Moving away from the protective mountain rocks, he knowingly exposed himself to increased enemy gunfire. This deliberate and heroic act deprived him of cover and made him a target for the enemy. While continuing to be fired upon, Murphy made contact with the SOF Quick Reaction Force at Bagram Air Base and requested assistance. He calmly provided his unit’s location and the size of the enemy force while requesting immediate support for his team. At one point he was shot in the back causing him to drop the transmitter. Murphy picked it back up, completed the call and continued firing at the enemy who was closing in. Severely wounded, Lt. Murphy returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle.

An MH-47 Chinook helicopter, with eight additional SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers aboard, was sent is as part of an extraction mission to pull out the four embattled SEALs. The MH-47 was escorted by heavily-armored, Army attack helicopters. Entering a hot combat zone, attack helicopters are used initially to neutralize the enemy and make it safer for the lightly-armored, personnel-transport helicopter to insert.

The heavy weight of the attack helicopters slowed the formation’s advance prompting the MH-47 to outrun their armored escort. They knew the tremendous risk going into an active enemy area in daylight, without their attack support, and without the cover of night. Risk would, of course, be minimized if they put the helicopter down in a safe zone. But knowing that their warrior brothers were shot, surrounded and severely wounded, the rescue team opted to directly enter the oncoming battle in hopes of landing on brutally hazardous terrain.

As the Chinook raced to the battle, a rocket-propelled grenade struck the helicopter, killing all 16 men aboard.

On the ground and nearly out of ammunition, the four SEALs, Murphy, Luttrell, Dietz and Axelson, continued the fight. By the end of the two-hour gunfight that careened through the hills and over cliffs, Murphy, Axelson and Dietz had been killed. An estimated 35 Taliban were also dead.

The fourth SEAL, Luttrell, was blasted over a ridge by a rocket propelled grenade and was knocked unconscious. Regaining consciousness some time later, Luttrell managed to escape – badly injured – and slowly crawl away down the side of a cliff. Dehydrated, with a bullet wound to one leg, shrapnel embedded in both legs, three vertebrae cracked; the situation for Luttrell was grim. Rescue helicopters were sent in, but he was too weak and injured to make contact. Traveling seven miles on foot he evaded the enemy for nearly a day. Gratefully, local nationals came to his aid, carrying him to a nearby village where they kept him for three days. The Taliban came to the village several times demanding that Luttrell be turned over to them. The villagers refused. One of the villagers made his way to a Marine outpost with a note from Luttrell, and U.S. forces launched a massive operation that rescued him from enemy territory on July 2.

By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit and inspirational devotion to his men in the face of certain death, Lt. Murphy was able to relay the position of his unit, an act that ultimately led to the rescue of Luttrell and the recovery of the remains of the three who were killed in the battle.

This was the worst single-day U.S. Forces death toll since Operation Enduring Freedom began nearly six years ago. It was the single largest loss of life for Naval Special Warfare since World War II.

The Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community will forever remember June 28, 2005 and the heroic efforts and sacrifices of our special operators. We hold with reverence the ultimate sacrifice that they made while engaged in that fierce fire fight on the front lines of the global war on terrorism (GWOT).


OPERATION REDWING KIAs- On June 28, 2005, three of four SEALS on the ground (Murphy, Dietz, Axelson) were killed during combat operations in support of Operation Red Wing. ON the same say, a QRF of eight Navy SEALs and 8 Army Night Stalkers were also killed when the MH-47 helicopter that they were aboard was shot down by enemy fire in the vicinity of Asadabad, Afghanistan in Kumar Province.

Navy SEALs
SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Lt. (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y.
Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson, 29, of Cupertino, Calif.
Machinist Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Eric S. Patton, 22, of Boulder City, Nev.
Senior Chief Information Systems Technician (SEAL) Daniel R. Healy, 36, of Exeter, N.H.
Quartermaster 2nd Class (SEAL) James Suh, 28, of Deerfield Beach, Fla.
SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2, Virginia Beach, Va.

Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz, 25, of Littleton, Colo.
SEAL Team 10, Virginia Beach, Va.

Chief Fire Controlman (SEAL) Jacques J. Fontan, 36, of New Orleans, La.
Lt. Cmdr. (SEAL) Erik S. Kristensen, 33, of San Diego, Calif.
Electronics Technician 1st Class (SEAL) Jeffery A. Lucas, 33, of Corbett, Ore.
Lt. (SEAL) Michael M. McGreevy Jr., 30, of Portville, N.Y.
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SEAL) Jeffrey S. Taylor, 30, of Midway, W.Va.
Army Night Stalkers
3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Hunter Army Air Field, Ga.

Staff Sgt. Shamus O. Goare, 29, of Danville, Ohio.
Chief Warrant Officer Corey J. Goodnature, 35, of Clarks Grove, Minn.
Sgt. Kip A. Jacoby, 21, of Pompano Beach, Fla.
Sgt. 1st Class Marcus V. Muralles, 33, of Shelbyville, Ind.
Maj. Stephen C. Reich, 34, of Washington Depot, Conn.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael L. Russell, 31, of Stafford, Va.
Chief Warrant Officer Chris J. Scherkenbach, 40, of Jacksonville, Fla.
HQ Company, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Ky.

Master Sgt. James W. Ponder III, 36, of Franklin, Tenn.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Elvis Andrus: Winner; Leury Garcia: Mascot

Elvis Andrus

Doesn't matter who Elvis plays for:
that team is going to win.

Elvis knows it.
The other team knows it.
We all know it.
Elvis is a baseball Magic Johnson.

Book it.

Don't trade it away.
Just let it happen,
in it's own time.
Construction Zone.

photo by Walter Barnard

I propose that Elvis 
marry Freida Pinto.

Elvis is a good dancer.
Freida will like that.

Leury Garcia: Cuddly Mascot

Class A SS Leury Garcia, 18 years and 5'6"(at most), is possessed of a large arm and a small strike zone.  Natural leadoff hitter? Frustrating for opposing pitchers to face? Freddie Patek with a bigger arm? Utility man extraordinaire?

photo and info courtesy of
Mike Hindman.

The extreme horizontal flatness of Garcia's bat prep indicates he is trying to stay on top of the ball and minimize lift. If he lifts the ball much at all, he is out. He likely swings flat, maintaining the barrel of the bat on a plane through the strike zone for long periods of time. He seeks line drives, not fly balls.

Notice the high positioning of Garcia's hands. Garcia appears prepared to keep his hands on top of high fastballs, and to hit those high fastballs into line drives - as he must, since he lacks power. I'm confident he can hit balls at the letters for line drives instead of fly balls. 

Pitches at the letters are out of his strike zone, yet he likely has them incorrectly called against him as strikes, and consequently has likely learned to hit those pitches effectively. As he advances through the minor leagues, umpiring will get better and better, and less high strikes will be called against him. Partially for this reason:  Leury Garcia might hit better at each new and higher minor league level.

If he makes it to Arlington, and starts at 2B, with Elvis Andrus at SS:  Garcia and Andrus will form the cuddliest keystone combo in history.  Children will sleep with stuffed and cuddly representations of the SS and 2B man.  Freida too.  Don't overlook the marketing prescience of their parents in naming them Leury and Elvis and Freida, as in:
Honey, do you have your Leury and Elvis and Freida cuddlies with you under the covers? Okay, night night.  Sleep tight.  Don't worry about any ground ball singles.