January 04, 2008

A Final Blogpost:
I suppose I should speak to the circumstances of my death. It would be nice to believe that I died leading men in battle, preferably saving their lives at the cost of my own. More likely I was caught by a marksman or an IED. But if there is an afterlife, I'm telling anyone who asks that I went down surrounded by hundreds of insurgents defending a village composed solely of innocent women and children. It'll be our little secret, ok?

I do ask (not that I'm in a position to enforce this) that no one try to use my death to further their political purposes. I went to Iraq and did what I did for my reasons, not yours. My life isn't a chit to be used to bludgeon people to silence on either side. If you think the U.S. should stay in Iraq, don't drag me into it by claiming that somehow my death demands us staying in Iraq. If you think the U.S. ought to get out tomorrow, don't cite my name as an example of someone's life who was wasted by our mission in Iraq. I have my own opinions about what we should do about Iraq, but since I'm not around to expound on them I'd prefer others not try and use me as some kind of moral capital to support a position I probably didn't support. Further, this is tough enough on my family without their having to see my picture being used in some rally or my name being cited for some political purpose. You can fight political battles without hurting my family, and I'd prefer that you did so.

On a similar note, while you're free to think whatever you like about my life and death, if you think I wasted my life, I'll tell you you're wrong. We're all going to die of something. I died doing a job I loved. When your time comes, I hope you are as fortunate as I was.
--Andrew Olmsted, who was killed yesterday in Iraq. A message of condolence to those that loved him can be sent here.

January 03, 2008

Living History:

To hear Chris Matthews tell it, the fact that "more than 2/3 of the Democratic" turnout in Iowa "rejected" Hillary Clinton tonight is somehow earth-shattering news. To put that into some perspective, did you know that more than 70% of Iowa Republicans "rejected" Ronald Reagan in the 1980 caucus? It seems that surviving the cold repudiation of Iowan voters has been done before....

January 02, 2008

I don't know if this rises to what Michael Kinsley calls a "gaffe" (ie., when a politician accidentally utters the truth), but the Obama Haters in the blogosphere are having a field day with what can only be interpreted as a willful misprepresentation of the statement in question. It is a matter of fact that half the country was disinclined to vote for the Democratic nominee in 2000 and 2004, just as the other half was disinclined to vote for George Bush. There is nothing in that statement that blames the party standard-bearers for the polarization (neither was even mentioned by name), nor can it even be remotely interpreted as a criticism of the Democratic Party.

It's just a fact that Democrats have participated in the last two Presidential elections facing a divided country, where its message fell on deaf ears, and were either defeated twice, and/or put themselves in a situation where they could be screwed twice by malevolent Republican votecounters. Senator Obama is simply stating that rather obvious fact, with the implication that maybe such polarization is not a guarantor of future electoral success for The Democracy. Whether he's the one who can expand the electoral base of the party is another question entirely, but it's not inappropriate for him to base his case before primary voters on that issue. Kos and Digby really should know better.

December 31, 2007

Bad News for the Cowboys, Colts, Steelers, Jags, Bucs, Giants and Seahawks: Teams that drop their last regular season game almost never win the Super Bowl; the all-time record, in fact, is 34-7 for the future champion, a winning percentage slightly over .829. Over a sixteen game schedule, that would be a little better than a 13-3 record. The exceptions are the 1967 Packers (who dropped their last two games), the '69 Chiefs, '75 Steelers, '88 Niners, '91 Skins, '94 Niners, and the '99 Rams. Of those teams, only the '67 Packers and '88 Frisco lost at home, and only Green Bay, Washington and St. Louis lost to non-playoff teams. The '88 49'ers are the only team to have lost to a team needing a win to make the playoffs.

In all regular season games, the winning percentage for the future Super Bowl winner is .810, or just under 13 wins a season. In other words, the last game of the season is a slightly better indicator of who will win the Super Bowl than, say, any other game of the regular season, but I suspect that differential will be all but wiped out if the Pats run the table undefeated. Happy New Year.