Monday, June 30, 2003

I saw Katharine Hepburn once several years ago in New York. A limo had stopped in the middle of a quiet street in the east 50's, near some construction debris -- a very large rock -- blocking the parking space in front of one of the town houses. Suddenly, out jumps Ms. Hepburn (she must have been in her 80s) from the back of the limo, and furious, marches over to the rock, picks it up, and heaves it on to the sidewalk, all the time swearing a blue streak in the direction of her driver. She then turned abruptly and charged into the town house. Meekly, the limo driver proceeded to park the car where the rock had been.

The Times' coverage is pretty neat, since they also post the original Times' reviews of her movies.


Somehow, this just seems like old news.

I guess it is, in a sense. As nothing much has changed since Sept. 10, 2001, except for this, this, and this. Feeling any more secure yet? What color is it?

This post from TalkingPoints has it all: An indictment of both the Bush administration's handling of Iraqi nuclear capabilities intelligence before the war, as well as their handling of Iraqi nuclear scientists after the war.

And I must apologize, I have assumed that the Bush administration, the Pentagon, and the neocons had no plan for post-war Iraq. Turns out they have two (thanks to Dave for the link).

Amy Sullivan at Political Aims (highly recommended) directs us to this article in the Washington Monthly, describing the "K Street Project" (I started to write an entry on this last week, based on an Alan Murray column in The Wall Street Journal, but I accidentally deleted the whole post just as I was finishing it. I was so dispirited by what I had written -- and then deleted -- that I just didn't have it in me to recompose it).

It is pretty clear that the vast right-wing conspiracy (at first I thought the site was a parody, but now I'm thinking not; it's clearly in an irony-free zone) -- long an enemy to the federal government -- is now intent on co-opting it:

"One way was to start ensuring that the new GOP agenda of radical deregulation, tax and spending cuts, and generally reducing government earned the financial support they thought it deserved. In 1995, DeLay famously compiled a list of the 400 largest PACs, along with the amounts and percentages of money they had recently given to each party. Lobbyists were invited into DeLay's office and shown their place in 'friendly' or 'unfriendly' columns. ('If you want to play in our revolution,' DeLay told The Washington Post, 'you have to live by our rules.') Another was to oust Democrats from trade associations, what DeLay and Norquist dubbed 'the K Street Strategy.' Sometimes revolutionary zeal got the better of them. One seminal moment, never before reported, occurred in 1996 when Haley Barbour, who was chairman of the Republican National Committee, organized a meeting of the House leadership and business executives. 'They assembled several large company CEOs and made it clear to them that they were expected to purge their Washington offices of Democrats and replace them with Republicans,' says a veteran steel lobbyist. The Republicans also demanded more campaign money and help for the upcoming election. The meeting descended into a shouting match, and the CEOs, most of them Republicans, stormed out."

Co-opting, hell. They mean to own it, lock, stock and barrel.

And, of course, the Bush administration's airbrushing of history continues. No issue is too small for some revisionist history.


Sorry that I haven't been living up to the mission of the blog and have failed to post much baseball news. Truth is, Selig hasn't done anything stupid lately. But, fear not, the All-Star game is coming and besides the fact that Selig has, stupidly, made World Series home field advantage dependent on the winner of the All-Star game, I'm sure that in the festivities he'll announce some edict certain to alienate fans and piss-off players. And George Steinbrenner.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Finally. Strom's career arc reads like so many Southern politicians of the 20th Century: Supporter of FDR in the 30s. New Deal Democrat. Progressive governor in the 40s. Kills the poll tax in his state. Smells a change in direction as the white south reacts to Truman civil rights legislation. Race baiting senator in the 60s. Considers civil rights marchers to be "Reds." Votes against national anti-poll tax legislation. Anti-integration/busing in the 70s. Smells a change in direction as segregation fades as a major issue in the south and begins trying to build appeal with urban, suburban and black voters.

Thurmond, like Wallace, used race to get votes. It was not about states-rights, or the moral issues of whites and blacks "co-mingling." For a man who called the KKK an abomination and was present when the concentration camps opened at the end of WWII, it was not about his hate. It was about harnessing the hatred of his constituency to keep his job and get more votes the next time. It was about grandstanding for the cameras and the microphones.

And, of course, for Strom, it was mainly about good 'ol pork.

Slate republishes the site's past nominations that Strom deserves a special place in hell.

It's all about sex, apparently, at the Supreme Court. First, the brave decision to end the use of our public libraries as dens for reeking, porn-surfing drug addicts to try to introduce our children to the underside of the net [ed. You don't have any children. It doesn't matter, it's still all about "the children!"]

Then they turn around and advance the gay agenda! Dahlia Lithwick has a brilliant riff [you have to scroll down past -- or go ahead and read -- Walter Dellinger's equally interesting thoughts on Sandra Day O'Connor] on Scalia's hidden agenda for "traditional values" even as most of the rest of the country has moved on. He didn't say, "I have nothing against homosexuals," as many pubs reported.

Writes Dahlia:

"What Scalia actually wrote in his dissent is more ambivalent: 'I have nothing against homosexuals, or any other group, promoting their agenda through normal democratic means.' Scalia wasn't saying that he has nothing against homosexuals (he wouldn't think such a personal comment was appropriate anyway). He was saying that in his view, homosexuals (and by extension the KKK and abortion rights advocates) are entitled to use all the democratic tools at their disposal to pursue their cause. Scalia has nothing against democracy. That is what he was saying.

"Does that mean Scalia has nothing against homosexuals or the KKK or abortion rights advocates? I don't think that's clear from his dissent. Scalia gives voice to the same sentiment he expressed at oral argument in this case: 'Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children's schools, or as boarders in their home.' Justice Kennedy's compassion to gay rights irks him beyond imagining. In fact, Scalia believes that absent the minority influence of a 'law-profession culture that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda,' yesterday's result would not have come about. I do not read this dissent as coming from a man who is agnostic on the subject of homosexuality."

Her point being:

"What does seem disingenuous to me is that Scalia asserts that the role of the court in these 'culture wars' is to 'assur[e], as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed.' While I'm not even sure what that means, it does seem to me that Scalia has more than once 'taken sides in the culture war'—every time he votes to support school prayer, or vouchers, or keeping gay scoutmasters out of the Boy Scouts. Sure, he calls it 'Originalism' and claims to be neutrally supporting neutral principles espoused by the framers of the Constitution. But the neutral principles espoused by the framers were rooted in the same Judeo-Christian values he shares. You can't say you aren't taking sides in the culture wars simply because you're taking the side of tradition."

Hmmm. Is there a gay agenda after all?

If the Gay Mafia in Hollywood keeps cranking out bubble gum like "Charlies Angels: Full Throttle," then god love 'em. Even if you don't plan to see the flic, read Elvis Mitchell's typically hilarious review. And these lines, from Joe Morgenstern's review in the Wall Street Journal, are worth the price of admission: "Cameron Diaz's Natalie, incompletely clad in white fur, rides a mechanical bull in a raunchy bar in northern Mongolia. Lucy Liu's Alex, supine on a wheeled luge, chases a sports car on mountain roads at lunatic speeds." Oh, the humanity!

No chance to see it this weekend, though. Not with four games in three days, including -- once again -- a two-borough double-header.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Legal Affairs has a brief, interesting argument about the legal issues surrounding the killing of Iraqi soldiers during the US lightning invasion. Thanks to the indispensible Arts & Letters Daily for the link.

David Bosco writes, "Estimates of Iraqi military deaths are hard to come by, but it may turn out that close to 10,000 Iraqi soldiers died in the war, compared to just over 100 coalition soldiers killed in combat. The numbers demonstrate that American military technology is rendering enemy combatants less and less dangerous.

"To further blur the moral distinction between combatant and civilian, many of the Iraqi dead were conscripts who fought under threat. Lopping off the ears of draft-dodgers seems to have been a favorite Saddam tactic. The U.S. fought to end a horrific regime against an army partially made up of the regime's victims."

That's troubled me, but according to Bosco, a lawyer in Washington who has reported on peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia and Kosova, in order to protect civilians -- which the US did admirably by all reports -- the "Law of War" must be strictly observed -- killing civilians is wrong, killing soldiers is right. In fact, Bosco expresses concern that US military planners tried to hold down the numbers of conscripts killed by going after Baath party officials running the country. In other words, civilians.

Bosco writes, "The law must be agnostic about the motivations of the parties to be effective. It can treat targets only as lawful or unlawful, not as guilty or innocent. Viewed through the leveling lens of the law, an Iraqi television facility [airing propaganda to incite civilians] is equivalent to the offices of The New York Times. A civilian, however implicated in brutality, has to remain off limits—while a conscript fighting for Saddam with a gun to his head is fair game."

Clearly the moral view — kill the totalitarian leaders to shorten the war, thus saving the lives of ordinary grunts — is going to bump against the legal view if we follow the Bush admin's policy of preemption and our high-tech weaponry continues to improve on the ability to target individuals remotely.

Also instructive is Alan Berlow's reporting on "The Texas Clemency Memos" (there's a number of interesting articles in The Atlantic this month, I'll talk about Kaplan's argument one of these days).

It seems that Alan Gonzales, now the White House counsel, and a frontrunner (though still a longshot, I think) for the Supremes, prepared 57 of these memos for then-Governor George W. Bush. The memos, Berlow writes, are prosecutorial in viewpoint and the very definition of the word, "brief." "In his summary of the case of David Wayne Stoker, Gonzales left out the fact that James Grigson, the psychiatrist who testified that Stoker was a sociopath who would 'absolutely' be violent again, had never even examined Stoker."

Apparently, the Stoker case was the norm, not the exception. "Consider the case of Billy Conn Gardner, whose death-penalty case was plagued by issues of incompetent counsel, dubious witness testimony, and unheard mitigating evidence.

"Gonzales's report to Bush gave no sense of these circumstances..."

Berlow continues, "Gonzales's written execution summaries were Governor Bush's primary source of information in deciding whether someone would live or die. But Gonzales usually presented them to Bush on the day of an execution, and his oral briefings typically lasted no more than thirty minutes."

This is pretty surprising -- or not, depending on your view -- Berlow cites several instances where Bush or his handlers conveyed a very different face to his approach to the death penalty. In "A Charge to Keep" Karen Bush wrote that "For every death penalty case, they brief me thoroughly, review the arguments made by the prosecution and the defense, raise any doubts or problems or questions." His advisor on criminal-justice policy, Johnny Sutton, told The New York Times in May of 2000, "This is probably the most important thing we do in state government."

But this fits a pattern. Clearly, Bush early on in his term as governor -- perhaps well before taking office -- indicated that he wasn't interested in commuting death penalty cases. If the defendent had run out of his appeals, Bush would not act as a last resort, and that only the narrowest of interpretations of the case at hand would be tolerated.

Gonzales, then, simply provided his boss what he wanted -- a straightforward, black & white support for not commuting the sentence. Ambiguity annoys Bush. Extenuating circumstances are not appreciated. Point out the grey areas to him and you may not keep your job for long.

Berlow doesn't make this point, but his story does make the tale of the missing WMDs a little easier to understand. What did George Bush know and when did he know it? It's likely that Bush didn't know because he didn't want to know. And that was made clear to the intelligence community. Suggesting that the intelligence couldn't precisely say what stage Iraq's weapons programs were in would simply not be tolerated. "Can't see it?" I can hear Rumsfeld and Cheney saying to George Tenet. "Well, you didn't see 9-11 either, did you? You had better find a way to see it."

They're then able to deliver to their boss a brief, easy to understand series of "proofs" that Iraq should have its head lopped off. And soon.

But what I find troubling in both the execution memoranda and the events leading up to Bush's state of the union address, where he cited the known-to-be-bogus information about Iraq's nuclear program and ties to al Qaeda, is this: Ok, Bush is not intellectually curious. And yes, I understand he surrounds himself with a small coterie of loyalists who supply him with arguments that reinforce his worldview. I get all that. But does that mean Bush lives in a vacuum, totally devoid of information from other sources. I mean, I know he hates the Times and probably the WaPost, but doesn't he even glance at these papers. Doesn't someone brief him on what the Times and Post -- and Wall Street Journal -- are saying about him and the events that affect his presidency?

Surely, during his time in Texas, where, according to Berlow, "more than a third of executions in the United State since 1976 have occurred; where half of all capital cases are overturned on appeal because of errors during the trial; where seven innocent men have been freed from death row, including one under Bush...," the extenuating circumstances surrounding the trials of the condemned hoping for Bush's mercy must have been reported on by the Dallas Morning News and other papers.

But Bush couldn't be bothered to check it out and his advisors knew better than to inform him of those circumstances.

Speaking of the Supremes, I don't know enough to comment on the Affirmative Action decisions, though they seem typically -- Supremely, in fact -- schizoid. But I did find Maureen Dowd's column a great examination of the weird and tortured soul that is Clarence Thomas.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

This frightens me for some reason. I guess "laugh lines" are okay, but not "frown lines."

The news out of California just gets weirder and weirder. Mickey Kaus at first questioned the recall effort, but has since been persuaded otherwise [scroll down to the Tuesday, June 24 post]. It was an article from USA Today that convinced him of its justice. Kaus quotes Cochoan:

"California, the worst-performing state in the analysis, did the opposite. It approved huge spending increases and tax cuts during the boom. When the economy soured, the state began borrowing money and using accounting gimmicks to avoid its day of reckoning. Today, it continues to spend $1 billion a month more than it takes in."

And Kaus adds:

"Wouldn't it be a good thing if politicians knew there was a heavy price to pay for this crowd-pleasing irresponsibility--not just an inevitable fiscal crisis that can be put off until after the next election and then forgotten before the election after that, but a swift mid-term hammer that might crush their careers? [emphasis Kaus] I tend to think yes."

But, then, what about a governor who goes on tax cutting sprees, indulges special interests through higher spending, then leaves for a better job elsewhere, leaving their state in a fiscal rock and hard place just as the economy is about to tank?

Remember? "When Al Gore predicted during the campaign that Bush's Texas tax cuts would wreak havoc in the state, Bush joked, 'I hope I'm not here to deal with it.'"

Can recalls be retroactive? Impeachment doesn't seem to be gathering steam for some reason.

[UPDATE, JUNE 26 at 3:35 pm. Mickey Kaus, by email, responds, "looks like texas is in better shape than calif.!"]

Speaking of which, Slate's Chatterbox gives us a hilarious prereview of the Bush/Cheney 2004 web site. I'm not sure about the "Interstate 04" imagery, though. I mean, isn't it just a reminder that, under President "Turn the Carrier Around," we're on a seemingly endless road to nowhere? [emphasis mine] One that is bleak and unrelenting, like the economic downturn?

Or a road to hell. We might be on it, as this Time article illustrates.

Ah, but there is some good news regarding the power for good greedy corporations can sometime have when market forces compel them. This is an important story. Thanks to writers like Erik Schlosser, whose "Fast Food Nation" brought to light the egregious conditions in slaughter houses, we're all being forced to think about how the food we eat gets to the table. I'm no vegan, but it is sickening to see animals being treated as if they are mindless and insensate. McDonalds began the process of making the world a little better last week, when they told suppliers to stop using antibiotics. Ostensibly they did it out of pressure from the medical community, who have expressed growing alarm at the overuse of antibiotics in humans. But it should have the perhaps unintended consequence of forcing suppliers to provide a better quality of life for their poulty, since antibiotics are used in part to reduce the threat of illness caused by the unsanitary conditions in which they're raised.

"Health officials applauded McDonald's announcement, but some producers criticized the company for bowing to public pressure and barring the use of some antibiotics that are still deemed safe by regulators.

"'The pork industry wants to make sure sound science is driving the industry and not emotion,' said Cynthia Cunningham, a spokeswoman for the National Pork Board. 'McDonald's is trying to be laudable, but their position was based on marketing.'" Isn't this the group that brought us "the other white meat?" Right. Marketing.

I don't care about the motivation, just the effect. McDonalds basically controls the way food -- at least the food that finds its way into hamburgers, milkshakes (hmmm, what is in a McDonalds milkshake?) fried pieces of chicken, and egg sandwiches -- gets raised or grown in this country. Schlosser explains in his book how McD changed the way potatoes are grown in this country, simply to make them better suited to making fries.

More good news. [ed., Kudos as you cleverly close the loop and return to California] Bonds is simply the greatest offensive force in baseball history. The fact that I went to high school with him has no effect on my opinion here.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

In last Thursday's post, I implied that Larry Doby spent his retirement days running a liquor store in New Jersey. I did not intend to give that impression, so I do want to point out that Mr. Doby spent his post-playing career in a variety of MLB leadership positions, including Manager of the White Sox in 1978. The last living baseball commissioner, Fay Vincent, reminded me of this here. Just wanted to clear that up.


Hell hath no fury like an "I can't believe I support the war liberal" scorned -- or lied to. Timothy Noah has a fine "Chatterbox" today in which he posits the theory that of those who believe Bush lied and those who believe Bush was too dumb to lie, both have it half right. The last graf is poignant:

"In fact, it has yet to be proved that the two mobile labs [which Bush referred to when he said on Polish TV that 'we found the weapons of mass destruction'] were used (or even designed to be used) to build biological weapons. It isn't possible that Bush fails to grasp that. So, why did he say something so obviously untrue? Chatterbox posed the question to The Nation's David Corn, who has written extensively on the question of Bush's veracity. In Corn's view, the key to Bush's lies isn't necessarily that he doesn't know any better, but that he doesn't care. 'He mischaracterizes situations to fit his pattern of thinking,' Corn explained. 'Does he believe he's lying? I don't know.' But 'he still should be held accountable, whether he made a mistake of this nature in good faith or in bad faith.' Amen."

The implication is that Bush's lies are the result of laziness and a lack of intellectual curiosity. I believe that's partly true, but more disturbing to me is that it is also a result of the cynicism of the Bush/Cheney/Rove troika. They believe -- and the evidence has supported that belief time after time -- that they can lie at will. The press won't report extensively on it. During the 2000 election, the press was more attuned to Gore's alleged lies and exaggerations, than in really looking into the "fuzzy math" behind Bush's claims about who would gain from his proposed tax cut. And now, of course, the press is reticent when it comes to criticizing the Commander-in-Chief. And, as Michelle Goldberg wrote in Salon last week, many in the public simply don't want to believe that what Bush and Powell said about Iraq's WMD and connections to al Qaeda was bull. Striking Iraq gave many a sense of revenge and made them feel more secure. Misguided, but an impression the Bush administration -- and a Republican Congress -- are unlikey to remedy any time soon.

Paul Krugman is even more despairing.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Perhaps the most important writer of our times.

I can't access Neal from work. See if you can count all the reasons it makes them nervous.

Friday, June 20, 2003

Breaking News: I can't help but think of this story, when I read this story.

John Ashcroft has a public relations problem, according to Hit & Run. One they've been trying to fix, but get no help from...the DOJ.

Here's a telling piece of the Times story to which Hit & Run refers:

"He said that critics of the law had 'charged that under the Patriot Act the F.B.I. has arbitrarily visited local libraries to check out reading records of ordinary citizens.'

"'The fact is simply not that,' he said. 'The Patriot Act simply does not allow federal law enforcement free or unfettered access to local libraries, bookstores or other businesses.'

"Mr. Ashcroft said that warrants issued under the Patriot Act had to be approved by a judge. In contrast, when records, including library data, were sought by ordinary grand jury subpoena, no judge was involved.

"The number of such warrants issued has been classified, despite objections by some in the Justice Department who argue that the low number of warrants actually served would help the department show it was not rummaging in library records."

Hmmm. Didn't stop Ken Starr, back in the day. But, of course, that was different.

And Eric Alterman is really steamed about this. But why? It's just another example of the warm, but resolute haze [go ahead, watch the Microsoft ad] of the Bush reality that is seeping over the land. Even, gasp, to Hollywood. Turns out the director's Canadian, no less, and the film was shot mostly in Toronto. Someone get the scoop on how many members of the crew were pot smoking, married gays.

Speaking of Ken Starr, Bush's team has dreamed up another moderate, bi-partisan judicial appointment, certain to gain the support of both sides of the aisle. My head aches from all the banging it gets these days.

I have my doubts about Howard Dean, but this story may help to change my mind. Breaking into the country club to raid the liquor cabinet certainly shows spunk, class-consciousness, and an anarchist streak that will definitely rally Dean's base. Of course, getting caught is a problem. Since he was the getaway driver, apparently, I imagine that scene in Dirty Harry, where the driver is chain smoking cigarette after cigarette, giving the thing away.

Speaking of reality, the Vatican must be relieved. Evidence that Mary was not the "perpetual virgin" they say she was has not been found.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

I have a photograph of Larry Doby and Satchel Paige on my wall at home, taken shortly after Paige had joined Doby on the Cleveland Indians in '48. In it, they both look anxious, hardly smiling for the camera. In fact, the irrepressible Paige looks more like the shy and sensitive Doby. They both look as though they're unsure they were really invited to this party. According to Willie Mays, "From what I hear, Jackie had Pee Wee Reese and Gil Hodges and Ralph Branca, but Larry didn't have anybody." [Thanks to Alex Belth for the quote.] The photo gives every indication that that's true. There are no white players to be seen. The American League was far slower to integrate than the National. It would be four more years until another American League team would add a non-white player, when Minnie Minoso was traded by the Indians to the White Sox (and Minoso was Cuban, so I'm not sure he counts). It was eight years before a black player, the great Elston Howard, was permitted to wear the pinstripes. And, of course, we all know that it would be 12 years before the Red Sox would decide to join the bandwagon, and with typical Red Sox brilliance, made sure it was the unforgettable Pumpsie Green who would be the face of integration in the fens. How hellish was it for Pumpsie? Compare his stats for his four years in Boston with his fifth -- and last -- with the awful '63 Mets, and you get an idea.

Spending so much time on the Baseball-Reference site has been illuminating. Now I'm intrigued by the fact that someone -- I'm thinking a Branch Rickey or a Bill Veeck -- brought Satchel back to pitch a game for the '65 KC Athletics, so that he could be the oldest player (59) to play in a MLB game. Probably involved a rocking chair.

And how can Gil Hodges not be in the Hall of Fame?

But I digress. Larry was one of the greats and deserved more attention in his lifetime. His courage was equally as great as Robinson's. He was incredible in the '48 World Series win over Boston, and played in enormous pain in the '54 loss to the Giants. I wish I'd known he owned a liquor store in Montclaire, NJ. I might have bought a bottle from him and asked him if he'd tell me a few stories.


Well, back to reality. Or should I say, the unreality of the Bush administration. I think it's fitting that Christie Whitman should go back to her Jersey horse farm on such a note. You have to wonder how many drafts the report went through, and how many trees had to die for a report conclusion such as this gem: "The complexity of the Earth system and the interconnections among its components make it a scientific challenge to document change, diagnose its causes, and develop useful projections of how natural variability and human actions may affect the global environment in the future." So let's do nothing. Or rather, cut more taxes. Is this the "No Rich Child Left Behind" initiative we've heard so much about?

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Prior to the war in Iraq, in trying to explain my support for an invasion, I explained to an anti-war acquaintance that, "just because the Bush administration says something is true, doesn't automatically mean it's not."

Well, I was wrong.

I was mainly convinced by Colin Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council. The sheer specificity of it was impressive. I figured that if the CIA is declassifying this much detail, imagine what they're not sharing with the French and Germans.

As Thomas Powers writes in Sunday's Boston Globe:

"...[M]any of Powell's claims involved big things that would be easy to check once America had free run of Iraq: a factory for making poisons and explosives near the northern town of Khurmal; four chemical munitions bunkers at Taji; 'rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agents... hidden in large groves of palm trees'; a suspicious caravan of trucks photographed last Nov. 25 at the Amiriyah Serum and Vaccine Institute, a center for testing biological and chemical weapons; '1,600 death-row prisoners transferred in 1995 to a special unit' where an Iraqi source saw 'blood oozing from the victims' mouths.' In his State of the Union address, President Bush cited even bigger things: 30,000 Iraqi warheads, 500 tons of chemical weapons, 25,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin. None of this has been found."

But, of course, Bush keeps telling the American public, "We found the weapons of mass destruction." Serial liar. This explains the gallons of ink spilled by conservatives condemning Hillary Clinton's memoir. Remind the American people about the guy who lied about sex, so as to distract them from looking too closely at the guy who lied about his reasons for starting a *&#%ing -- and ongoing -- war.

Yes, we freed the Iraqi people and, of course, the region is so much more stable now.

Even former members of the Reagan administration are alarmed by the bully boy.

Another typical Bush administration ploy is, of course, to say one thing and do the complete opposite. How else does one explain the DOJ order about racial profilling. Won't do it. we do do it.

The week does bring some good news. Bill O'Reilly has "jumped the shark," according to Hit & Run.

And Giambi and Godzilla are hitting, really hitting.


Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Jeeez. You have to dry your hands after reading Paul Krugman's column today, he's so spitting mad the newspaper was damp this morning. I feel his frustration and pain. But I was chuckling over it nevertheless as I went over to Sullivan's blog today to see how he would respond to Krugman, who is his personal bette noir. Nothing on Krugman, which is a bit of a shock, but there is this post. Is there anyone in the blogosphere more ridiculous than this guy? Ranting hacks are going to take down those evil ayatollahs with the persuasive power of their courageous blogs! After all, look what they did to Harold Raines! The antic muse is particularly pertinent about his delusions of grandeur. Dear readers (all 2.3 million of you), if I ever start to sound like the whining, self-reverential Sullivan, please revoke my DSL priviledges.

At least Mickey Kaus makes me laugh even as he too takes himself way too seriously and serves as apologiste extraordinaire for President Top Gun.

Interesting that neither Kaus or Sullivan have shown much interest in Iraq these days. Quagmires can be so tedious. So can looking for needles in a haystack -- especially when aforementioned needle may have been cooked up by an eager to please CIA director.

But we're here to talk baseball. The Buick dealier from Milwaukee is at it again. Hell bent on making sure that the MLB is in a lot worse shape than when he found it, Bud Selig is planning to shorten the season to accomodate more wild card/division series. I was against the wild card when it was first announced back in 1994, but then the Yankees were the wild card in 1995 and played an incredible series against the Mariners (the Yankees lost in five terrific baseball games) so I found myself supportive of it. It certainly makes the summer more interesting for perennial runner up Red Sox (but then comes the September swoon). But this is ridiculous. Selig is determined to follow the NBA and NFL models, but that's as stupid as continuing to try to have a pro baseball team in Milwaukee. The NBA has its own problems, as the anemic Nets/Spurs series surely exhibited, and the NFL is a different animal altogether.

Writes Rob Neyer, "This is symptomatic of Selig's "thinking." Rather than attempt to preserve the place of baseball in the hearts of Americans (and, these days, Japanese and Europeans and Tibetans), Selig looks to the NFL and the NBA for inspiration. In Commissioner Bud's Wonderful World of Marketing Fantasy, the NFL has a screwy schedule and the NFL is popular ... ergo, if MLB has a screwy schedule, then MLB will be popular!"

The MLB is popular. The Yankees drew something like 160,000 in a three-game series with the Cards this weekend. Of course, that too was a problem. Because of the Selig-inflicted interleague play, the two teams had to play two games in some of the worst conditions possible. Why? Because they aren't going to meet again this year, so rain outs can't be made up.

Of course, the fact that George Steinbrenner got a little wealther over the weekend drives Selig nuts, so let's not use that example. Selig, as everyone knows, is out to "fix" baseball by hamstringing the Yankees through "luxury taxes" and revenue sharing. But Selig is as informed about baseball history as he is about running the league. Yes, the Yankees are rich and can afford great players. But that has been the case since January 3, 1920, when Col. Ruppert bought out Babe Ruth's contract from the Red Sox. The Yankees have won 26 World Series in their 100-year history. Only six have been won during the Steinbrenner, fat-cable-TV-contract era. The rest were won primarily in the days before TV, when there were three winning teams in New York City.

But Selig should be patient, Steinbrenner is starting to meddle and that's generally not a good thing.

The good news, according to Alex Belth, is that Stick Michael, the architect of the current dynasty, is not leaving the team, as has been feared. Michael ran the team when Steinbrenner was temporarily banned from baseball, and Stick focused on rebuilding the minor league system. The result was guys like Bernie Williams, Nick Johnson, Posada, Pettite, Rivera, etc. The rumors were that GS was tired of hearing about Michael's brilliance and wanted to let him go, but the dear old Metropolitan Baseball Club of New York fired their incompetent Gen. Mgr., and suddenly GS began to realize what he had, and what he might lose. I love and appreciate the Mets and the Red Sox because, occasionally, they force The Boss to do the right thing.

Monday, June 16, 2003

Joshua Micah Marshall gets scooped on this story about Rand Beers, a former counterterrorism advisor in the Bush administration. Worn out by an administration that is making the country less secure by the day, Beers (a registered Democrat), left "for personal reasons," according to Ari Fleischer. He then joined the Kerry campaign.

"'The administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure,'" said Beers, who until now has remained largely silent about leaving his National Security Council job as special assistant to the president for combating terrorism. "'As an insider, I saw the things that weren't being done. And the longer I sat and watched, the more concerned I became, until I got up and walked out.'"

A significant reason for his frustration was the Bush administration's lack of interest in opposing points of view or in unpleasant facts that may not support the president's decisions. Says Rand's wife, Bonnie, "'It's a very closed, small, controlled group. This is an administration that determines what it thinks and then sets about to prove it. There's almost a religious kind of certainty. There's no curiosity about opposing points of view. It's very scary. There's kind of a ghost agenda.'"

It's scarier than that, I think. It isn't just that the Bush is not intellectually curious, or that he's so focused and decisive once he's made a decision that it's "damn the torpedos..." It is the sheer disgust he feels for those who oppose him, and the schoolyard bully-like derision with which he treats alternate points of view. This is a man who did not win the popular vote, who won in effect on the equivalent of a coin toss (though it was more like "heads I win, tails you lose"), but rules like he was given a mandate. A president who refers to hundreds of thousands of anti-war protesters as "a focus group."

And now we find this attitude runs throughout the administration. Michael Powell's attitude towards the unprecedented number of emails the FCC received opposing deregulation was an equally dismissive, "we considered them when making our decision," has even Bill Safire fuming.

The irony is that despite then-candidate Bush's assertion that he'd make decisions based on "principles, not poll numbers," this is an administration driven by polls. One has to wonder who they talk to. Only those listed on Republican donor lists, or just those too stupid to have caller ID? Certainly, people who can't spell "nuanced."

Thursday, June 12, 2003

David Brinkley is dead at 82. Since he and Walter Cronkite left their chairs, has there been a news anchor that's mattered? In fact, has there been a network news anchor that hasn't been faintly ridiculous?

In response to criticism, toward the end of his career, that he had become just a curmudgeon, Brinkley said, "As long as I've known anything about politics, I've been skeptical. And it has evolved. The more I saw, the more skeptical I became." He said that politicians in the 1990's were largely concerned with the "naked pursuit of power and of privilege and of perks."


From Albert Hunt's column in today's WSJ:

"As the debate escalates about how much the Bush administration hyped the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, Peter Galbraith today will talk about what may be a graver miscarriage: the arrogantly ill-conceived postconflict plans.

"'The administration did almost no planning,' he will tell the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning...

"Dozens of Americans have been killed in the past two months; at this rate postconflict casualties will soon exceed those during the war. A top Pentagon official this week admitted they failed to anticipate the mayhem and chaos in postwar Iraq.

"Mr. Galbraith, a former ambassador to Croatia and student of the Iraqis and Kurds, is a passionate critic of Saddam Hussein. He spent three weeks in Baghdad after the war and found the American 'miscalculations' and 'rookie mistakes...stunning [sic].'

"...If Mr. Glabraith is right, this may be more consequential than the administration's prewar exaggerations.

"Currently American and Allied troops in Iraq and support personnel are approaching 200,000. Rather than acknowledging their mistakes [Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz had said former Army chief Shinseki's estimates of 'several hundreds of thousands' were 'wildly off the mark'], Pentagon planners...concoct rationales.

"The postwar effort began with the ill-conceived Rumsfeld decision to appoint retired Gen. Jay Garner to head reconstruction, although wiser heads -- including top military figures like Anthony Zinni -- warned it was a bad idea to tap a general for this task. In a gesture of contempt, the Pentagon refused to permit Gen. Garner to testify before the Senate before heading to Iraq.

"Now Mr. Wolfowitz, who -- agree with him or not, has a reputation as a straight shooter -- recently offered this whopper of an explanation: 'We did not want to do anything that would undercut the efforts to reach a diplomatic resolution.' In March, Mr. Wolfowitz? Why did Gen. Garner have time then to brief the media?"

"...Mr. Galbraith and others want an inquiry into why we were so ill-prepared after the war; not for recriminations, he says, but to understand what went wrong and to replace those responsible from any future planning."

So far the Bush administration, supported by a lock-step GOP House and an almost-evenly divided Senate, have proven to be teflon. They've managed to avoid hearings on their manipulation of pre-war intelligence on Iraq, and the report on what the administration knew about impending terrorist attacks prior to Sept. 11 2001 has been squelched, hidden from public view. I doubt the miseries in Iraq are going to warrent much public attention in the months to come. So the wild-eyed -- but impressively incompetent -- "visionaries" in the Pentagon will continue to move the pieces around on the chess board.

There is a light at the end of the reconstruction disaster, though. If the "affirmative action president" gets his way, Iraq will be a much more democratic place...than is the U.S., according to the wry Brian Lehrer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

I have been spending considerable time at the "Corporate HQ" lately. In the men's room, there's a recycling bin full of "OpinionOnline" columns from the Wall St. Journal's website. I can picture it: Each morning, admin. assts print out the official daily think piece, so the big shots will know what precisely to think on the "issues" each day.

This just gets better and better.

"'Ain't going to happen,'" Mr. DeLay said this afternoon, reiterating his stance that the credits would be approved only as part of a much larger tax-cut bill, an $82 billion package that House Republicans unveiled later in the day and plan to bring to the floor on Thursday.

"...Reminded at a news conference that Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, had said that Mr. Bush wanted the House to pass the Senate bill quickly, Mr. DeLay reacted derisively.

"'The last time I checked, he doesn't have a vote,'" Mr. DeLay said of Mr. Fleischer.

Alan Murray wrote about this yesterday, in the Journal's "Political Capital" column. "The big political divide in Washington these days isn't between Republicans and Democrats; it's between House Republicans and Senate Republicans. House leaders hate their Senate counterparts so much they can't see straight. Which may be why they keep walking into obvious pitfalls."

This animosity is not new, but it grew more intense during the Gingrich revolution. And it reached what seemed its apogee during the Clinton impeachment fight. The Senate Republicans, knowing how ridiculous the charges were and how ridiculous they'd look, were dragged kicking and screaming into holding the Impeachment trial. Even then, they sneered at the political deafness and sanctimoniousness of hypocrites like Henry Hyde, while the House managers were practically driven insane by the aloofness of the Senate Republicans, who they saw as gutless prima donnas.

Should be fun to watch, though it's doubtful it will hurt Bush. He can stand above it, claiming to have changed the tone in Washington -- now everyone hates everyone else!

Today's Journal has John Harwood extolling the virtues of Fla. Senator and Dem. presidential hopeful, Bob Graham. "Winning or Losing, Graham Aids Party By Attacking Bush" is the headline. According to Harwood, his role is "to swing a battering ram at the foundation of...Bush's support."

"Despite political storms on both sides of the Atlantic, most Americans say they expect the coalition to find Iraqi weapons of mass destruction; Mr. Graham accuses President Bush of 'willingness to politically manipulate intelligence' on this issue. Most Americans backed the war on Saddam Hussein's regime [I'm not so sure about that, wasn't it 50/50 or so?]; Mr. Graham says it weakened the fight against al Qaeda. Most Americans consider Mr. Bush a strong leader against terrorism; Mr. Graham accuses him of a 'coverup' of a Congressional inquiry into his pre-Sept. 11 record."

In a race in which most of the other candidates are running from national security issues, Harwood writes, Graham is "challenging Mr. Bush's national-security leadership from the right."

"A report last week...detailed how the president and other administration officials submerged in public discussion the doubts some intelligence analysts expressed...about the meaning of available information about Iraqi weapons programs. Republicans fear pending Congressional investigations could trigger a round of public finger pointing within the administration that would be more damaging than rhetoric from any Democrat. Even if Americans conclude the president merely exaggerated the threat of Iraqi weapons -- using the political equivalent of the cork in Sammy Sosa's bat -- that could have significant consequences in a close 2004 election."

Vaguely familiar of Kennedy's accusation that the Eisenhower/Nixon helped bring on the "missile gap." Look where it got him.

Speaking of Sammy, here's the best piece yet I've seen on the "batting practice bat" and ensuing media bloviating.

And speaking of baseball, who'd of thought that a column on Hall of Fame knuckler Phil Niekro would leave me misty-eyed?

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

This may be one of those trial balloons the Bush and Rumsfeld team send up now and then, just to scare liberals and see if the rest of the country reacts. But it sounds like the plans are fairly fleshed-out, so maybe this is for real. On one hand, it is high time to do something with the prisoners at Guantanamo, beyond just fattening them up.

But conducting military tribunals in secret, followed by executions -- there is something innately un-American about that. And it brings with it potential dangers that go well beyond the additional hatred it will inspire in the Islamic world. Special Operations forces have been playing an increasingly important role in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. I wouldn't be surprised to learn they are in Iran and North Korea. From what little I know of them, they are often used to blend in to the countryside in order to hit targets or get information in a way impossible for regular Army. By ignoring or manipulating the Geneva Convention, the Bush administration increases the chances that a non-uniformed American will be summarily executed by some in-country warlord who can then argue that the Special Ops forces are acting as "unlawful combatants" and therefore not protected by the Geneva Convention or even International Law. I am surprised Phil Carter hasn't commented on this yet on his excellent and informative blog, but I'm sure he will.

Of course, it is difficult to say the extent to which the Bush administration puts our military's interest, as The Onion brilliantly shows (thanks to TAPPED for the link). [ed., Looks like his father in the photo. No way Karl is going to let him morph into Bush I].

TAPPED also draws attention to the brilliant Republican strategy behind the annual tax cut orgy they have planned for us. In particular, it illustrates the difference between "phase ins" and "sunset provisions." Let's just hope the hubris of Grover Norquist will be amply rewarded in the just fashion he deserves.


Salon weighs in on the willful failure of Tom Ridge and the Bush administrations to take seriously the threat of shoulder fire missiles to commercial aircraft. Whether the threat is imminent or overblown, it is a real possibility. It's been tried, and Al Qaeda has a tendency to keep trying until they get it right. But Ridge has plans only to study the problem and decide what to do in 2005. And in typical Bush fashion, they are relying on U.S. military/industrial complex to develop something, when a working, tested alternative already exists:

"Other signals reinforce the sense that the White House does not view the situation with urgency.

"After reviewing the technology available for protecting passenger jets from missile attack, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Homeland Security Council concluded that only two companies are involved in developing directional infrared countermeasures systems: Northrop Grumman, an American company that builds the Air Force's new large aircraft laser system, and BAE, a U.K. firm working on a laser system for the Navy's tactical aircraft. But the review failed to identify a third alternative: Israeli defense contractor Rafael also builds a laser anti-missile system, and unlike the Northrop Grumman and BAE systems, Rafael's system has actually been tested on a commercial jet against live missiles -- something the Bush administration's plan does not envision doing until around 2005.

"Rafael's test occurred from March 9 to 13 at Israel's southern Uvda Air Force Base and involved the very Boeing 757 that was attacked in Kenya. Using a variety of missiles, fired from several angles and distances, Rafael's system successfully jammed every missile fired at the jet. Despite these impressive results, and the lower cost of Rafael's system [emphasis mine], it does not appear that this system is in the running to protect U.S. passengers."

The unelected administration is also the unaccountable one.


Go on, Tom. Don't give in to Karl, his poll numbers, or that compassionate conservative #%&@!

"'Pass it,' said Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, when asked what President Bush would say to Republican lawmakers who disagree with the bill. 'His advice to the House Republicans is to pass it, to send it to him, so he can sign it.'

"The remarks were the strongest sign yet the administration wants to douse a political brushfire that could damage a domestic policy achievement cherished by Mr. Bush — the tax bill that he signed last month.

"Even so, Mr. Fleischer's remarks did not immediately persuade House leaders to take up the Senate bill. A spokesman for Tom DeLay of Texas, the House Republican leader, said the House would approve the increased credit for low-income families this week, but only as part of a larger tax cut that would cost about $100 billion more than the Senate bill."

Monday, June 09, 2003

Peter G. Peterson, a self-described life-long Republican and a founder of the Blackstone Group, has a powerful piece in yesterday's New York Times Magazine, indicting the current generation of Republicans and specifically the Bush administration. The charge: total fiscal irresponsibility that led us from the biggest projected surplus in history to the largest projected deficit, in just two years.

Abandoning the fiscal stewardship that was the overriding principal of the GOP prior to Reagan (remember "voodoo economics"), the party has become hooked on tax cuts as a cure for all evils -- or at least the prescription for continual re-election. Peterson writes:

"The numbers are simply breathtaking. When President George W. Bush entered office, the 10-year budget balance was officially projected to be a surplus of $5.6 trillion -- a vast boon to future generations that Republican leaders 'firmly promised' would be committed to their benefit by, for example, prefinancing the future cost of Social Security. Those promises were quickly forgotten. A large tax cut and continued spending growth, combined with a recession, the shock of 9/11 and the bursting of the stock-market bubble, pulled that surplus down to a mere $1 trillion by the end of 2002. Unfazed by this turnaround, the Bush administration proposed a second tax-cut package in 2003 in the face of huge new fiscal demands, including a war in Iraq and an urgent ''homeland security'' agenda. By midyear, prudent forecasters pegged the 10-year fiscal projection at a deficit of well over $4 trillion."

What a waste. The list of things this administration has squandered just keeps getting longer. The surplus. International goodwill following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The environment. Peace. Prosperity.

And, of course, "Homeland Security." Fred Kaplan writes that Ridge continues to be nickel and dimed in the face of very real threats such as a shoulder-fired surface to air missiles, like the one used to fire at an El Al flight recently (it missed). Meanwhile, the Bush administration dumps $9 billion per year in a missile defense program that not only hasn't proven will work -- or be necessary -- the Pentagon is cancelling future tests of the thing so as not to delay deployment.

Will it take a Hooverville in Lafayette Park to change the direction in Washington?

Speaking of steering the country back to pre-1934 days, I have always felt there is something messianic and even revolutionary about many members of the Bush administration, especially in the DoD. In their actions and public comments, they have a fire-breathing 'tude that reminds one of the former sixties leftists who have now become card-carrying members of the radical right, like David Horowitz. Having seen the other side and reformed, they now feel they are uniquely qualified to know the transperent wrong-ness of that side and are charged by god to testify to the fact. But even I was surprised to see the six-degrees of separation the Bush administration has from Leon Trotsky.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Ok, now we really do have reason to hate the French. Serena and Venus Williams (and their mom) have continued to be the best representatives of the U.S. They seem above all the nasty catfighting of the other women players in addition to generally being superior to them. They have ignored the ignorance of sportswriters who think they're ruining the game by their dominance. And unlike Pedro, they don't play the race card (although they certainly could).

But enough is enough. Let's turn our brilliant intelligence community away from looking for a reason -- any reason -- to invade Iran, and instead aim at France. Unlike Iraq, France does have WMDs.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

In his typically elegant way, Michael Kinsley has a great essay on the "Return of the Class War" that is the result of the Bush tax cuts. Here's a passage:

"So, under the American tax system as designed by the Bush administration and congressional Republicans, the most a person of vast wealth is expected to contribute to the commonweal from his or her last dollar of investment profits is the same 15 cents or so that a minimum-wage worker is expected to pay on his or her first dollar. This does not mean that we have a flat tax. We have a tax system of vast complexity, with wildly different tax burdens on different people. But we have a tax system that, on balance, knows who's in charge."

In the words of John Cleese, "Oh, it"


Methinks she doth protest too much.


George Will waxes indignant over Sosa's bouncing bat. He mentions pitcher Kevin Gross and his suspension by Giamatti for scuffing the ball. But, historically, as Rob Ney points out [thanks to Alex Belth for the link], we call bat corkers "cheaters," but pitchers who throw balls that spray the batter with spit, "colorful." We huff and puff when Albert Belle is caught doctoring his bats, but we put Gaylord Perry in the Hall of Fame. And it was well known when he was named to the Hall that Perry practically kept a tube of Brylcream in his glove while on the mound.

But I forget that George Will is the self-appointed protector of the game's purity. He should be suspended from writing about baseball for eight columns if for nothing else than the crime of using the word "equipoise" in a piece about a baseball player.

If only Will was so concerned about fairness when talking about the Bush tax cuts. [ed., I wondered where you were going with this. This is about the convergence of politics and baseball.]

The irony of the Sosa story is that corking a bat may not even be cheating, Ney writes. The official rules say modifying a bat to make the ball travel greater distance is against the rules, but according to Robert Adair's "The Physics of Baseball," that while hollowing out a bat and then adding cork will improve bat speed, "this effect is largely (completely?) balanced by the smaller amount of inertia, and thus the ball won't travel as far as it might otherwise have. Which is to say, corking the bat doesn't really make any difference."

This whole thing does bring the much overrated Sammy Sosa down to earth a bit, so there's an upside here.

Raines resigns! I can't speak to the newsroom culture at the Times, and I thought Raines brought a renewed freshness to the paper when he took over just days before September 11, 2001. In fact, the seven pulitzers the paper won for its coverage of the attacks of that day and the subsequent war in Afghanistan were well deserved. The work the paper put out during that time -- from tracking the terrorist web that led to the attack to the wrenching "Portraits of Grief" -- was a reminder of how special and important The New York Times is.

But I think this is a good thing overall. The paper clearly has been killing itself lately with a thousand self-inflicted paper cuts. One had the sense that in the face of the Raines autocracy, the editors were beginning to fail to make tough choices and just put it all out there, a la Blair and Braggs. And great writers were leaving to go to the WaPost and LATimes.

Then, of course, there's the most egregious reporter on the paper who, perhaps because of Raines' star-system, keeps her job. I mean, some papers had reporters embedded with the military in Iraq. The Dept. of Defence had their own writer embedded at the Times. Howard Kurtz's story is an indication of just how bad things were in the newsroom -- leaking e-mails?


That inside-the-beltway maven Josh Micah Marshall finds a great quote about how hard, really hard, Bush's tax cut architect worked to keep some measure of progressiveness in the "Honey, I shrunk the kids" tax bill.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

This is great news. But if we have to rely on the sagacity and mercy of federal judges to avoid having the DOJ trample on our right to choose the way we live, get sick, and die, then we're in deep trouble.
How long is Karl Rove going to stand for this? Isn't the honorable rep from Sugarland, TX putting the lie to the "compassionate conservative" face of Bush GOP? "The Exterminator" is having none of it, and will not allow a Democratic measure to restore $3.5 billion in child tax credits to the poor (cut during last minute Senate/House Republican negotiations) unless they in turn allow the estate tax to be permanently repealed. $3.5 billion in a $350 billion "leave no tax accountant behind" tax cut. What will the soccor moms, hispanics, faith-based types, etc., that Rove is striving to appeal to react to this blatant act of nastiness? I figured there would at least some breast beating at the White House, since they have repeatedly lied about who will receive what from this budget busting monstrosity.

But then I realized that this is all part of the long-running Bush campaign to "reform" the tax code by eliminating the progressive income tax and replace it with a rise on regressive consumption taxes, along with rises in social security and medicaid taxes. Why? Because it is true when honest defenders of the tax cut say that the wealthiest Americans pay the most in taxes. So, they say, the rich should receive the biggest tax cuts. But with consumption and payroll taxes, the working poor and middle class pay disproportionately more than the rich.

The fact is, the only domestic policy the Bush administration has is tax cutting -- but tax cuts don't play well with the voters, the majority of whom aren't really upset by their tax bill as rates are relatively low after the (deficit-creating) cuts of the Reagan years. So how do you get these "Lucky Duckies" upset about taxes. Kill them with state, local, and payroll taxes. Bleed 'em till they howl and share the pain their masters have been feeling for years.

Monday, June 02, 2003

''It seems kind of like a dream,'' said the 27-year-old Hillenbrand, an offseason resident of Mesa, Ariz., traded to the Diamondbacks Thursday for pitcher Byung Hyun Kim. ''It's almost like the feeling I had when I made the All-Star team last year, the adrenaline, everything.

''I haven't been able to sleep. My mind's been going everywhere. How are the guys? How is it going to be playing in a nice ballpark? How is it going to be to park my car in a parking lot? How is it going to be to go to a clubhouse and just play baseball without all the outside distractions and playing in a market like Boston?''


The smart guys in baseball (including, obviously, Bill James) are sure that the trade for Kim is the Bagwell trade in reverse. But I don't know. I have fond memories of the guy as the closer for the D'backs in 2001. Maybe the guy is just the relief the Red Sox need, but like so many on his new team, isn't he just a wee bit haunted by Yankee Stadium?

"What did the President know, and when did he know it?"

Another victim of the drug war. A 57-year old woman dies of a heart attack following a raid by an elite police squad, who use a "knockless" warrant and a concussion grenade upon crashing through her apartment door. There are many debates swirling around this one, despite the Bloomberg administration response -- a 100% improvement over what his predecessor would have done. For instance, are the police more likely to use a grenade in Harlem than in Gramercy Park? But the debates I haven't seen raised: has the NYC drug war gone paramilitary, and why has this story received so little play? Perhaps Bloomberg's and the commish's reasonable and fast response has been effective in diluting the story. But I suspect it has more to do with 1.) she was a 57-year old Haitian woman, and 2.) police tactics in the drug war are now so out-of-hand and disproportionate, that this isn't much of a news story.

Speaking of the drug war -- cannibis is no doubt the drug of choice for Al Qaeda as well as jazz musicians. One thing on which Democrats and Republicans can agree .

When or when will Bernie and Nick be back? This was a truly ugly game. At this rate, Wells may get his 200th before Clemens gets his 300th, and the Clemens clan will have toured America! I love Jeter and ("el freaque") Soriano; I think they are two of the best, most natural, and fun to watch players in baseball. But I'm beginning to think they are no where near the best shortstop and second baseman in the league. Is it time to start thinking about moving Jeter to third and Sori to the outfield? Something to think about for '04. Maybe pick up Tejada in free agency to replace Jeter. [ed. Already thinking next year? Isn't that what Red Sox fans start to do in August? "It's never to early to start thinking about a repeat!" replies the obnoxious Yankee fan.]
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