Thursday, October 30, 2003

"How did the American intelligence community get [Iraq WMD] so wrong?"

"Part of the answer lies in decisions made early in the Bush Administration, before [italics mine] the events of September 11, 2001. In interviews with present and former intelligence officials, I was told that some senior Administration people, soon after coming to power, had bypassed the government's customary procedures for vetting intelligence.

"...In theory, no request for action should be taken directly higher authorities -- a process known as 'stovepiping' -- without the information on which it is based having been subjected to rigorous scrutiny."

So writes Sy Hersh in the October 27 issue of The New Yorker. A fascinating piece. Essentially, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and Condi Rice decided that the CIA simply was not aggressive enough in pursuing the "truth" about Iraqi arms, so they demanded to see the raw, unvetted intelligence the CIA had. With that kind of information at your fingerprints, you could probably make a case that the Pope is hoarding nerve agents in the Vatican basement.

"'They always had information to back up their public claims, but it was often very bad information,'" Hersh quotes Kenneth Pollace, a former National Security Council expert on Iraq and a supporter of removing Hussein from power by force. Essentially, Bush's people dismantled a fifty-year system of making sure that policy makers did not see bad information.

Hersh quotes a former CIA official who said that the Administration eventually got its way. "'The analysts at the CIA were beaten down defending their assessments. And they blame George Tenet' -- the CIA director -- 'for not protecting them. I've never seen a government like this.'"

The article is a must-read and one of the more terrifying indictments of the administration. Since Bush only trusts his own advisors for the"truth," it means that he continues to get only varnished information that pushes Cheney's agenda. It also makes it easier to understand Bush's Panglossian view of how the war is going right now, as in, every time they kill another US soldier, it just shows how desperate the evil-doers are.

I haven't written much about Limbaugh's affection for oxy-contin, except maybe to point out that his statement saying he was addicted to "prescription pain killers" was a big, fat lie since there was no way a doctor prescribed the amounts he's accused of gobbling.

But reading Henrik Hertzberg's "Talk of the Town" piece in the same issue of the New Yorker (sorry, no link that I've found), made my blood boil. It was a reminder of Limbaugh's hypocrisy regarding drug laws. But it was also a testament to the incredible hypocrisy of the rest of the right wing bloviators. From Gingrich attacking Clinton while dating his own young staffer, to Bennett sitting on his lofty moral perch, only to find out he was really sitting in a casino, the right wingnuts have no shame.

From Coulter: "Rush's behavior was not all that dissolute." And, "If this is what he's like on painkillers, imagine when he's off them! Who! Set him loose once he's gone through detox."

And G. Gordon Liddy: "I would distinguish Rush's situation from someone who was a recreational drug user who was caught playing with fire and got addicted -- moving up from marijuana to cocaine or something of that sort."

And Sean Hannity: "...difference between somebody who, as part of a medical treatment, had these things prescribed and it got out of hand over time, and somebody who is using drugs recreationally."

And Neal Boortz, whom Hertzberg describes as an "Atlanta-based radio shouter:" "The addiction happened while he was under a legal regimen of these drugs. That is not at all the way people get addicted to heroine."

Oxy-contin is an opiate. It is a Schedule II drug, just like cocaine and methadone. It is illegal to take them "recreationally" "to get high." Which is what the fat liar was doing.

I'm not saying lock him up. I think the drug laws need to change. But let's can the nonsense from his "colleagues."

It is interesting to note how the wingnuts rally around their wounded comrade, while on the left, we can't wait to eat our own.


Wow. This is big news. Will Mr. Steinbrenner take the bait? Rob Nyer says no. I think he won't either. The boss is insane, but unlike the 80s when he jumped at every free agent with attitude, he's got better people around who he seems to trust. A little. And they're telling George right now that the last thing the Yankees need right now is a slugger with a chip on his shoulder who used to be the 2nd best player in the American League and is paid that way. Now he's just paid that way.

But there's no question Theo Epstein is gambling that the Yankees will jump at this. The timing is perfect: fresh off a frustrating world serious in which the sluggers couldn't slug, George could overrule his people and demand another bat.

But if the Yankees don't bite, well, then Theo's got a problem. Now he still has $100 million and five years worth of sullenness, made worse now that Manny know the Red Sox don't want him around.

King Kaufman has the results of his Jeanie Zelasko cliches through history contest.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

"'The `Mission Accomplished' sign, of course, was put up by the members of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, saying that their mission was accomplished,' Mr. Bush told reporters. 'I know it was attributed somehow to some ingenious advance man from my staff. They weren't that ingenious, by the way.'"

Outrageous. Just another little white lie for Mr. Bush. What is astonishing is his utter certainty that he is, in fact, not lying. But as Josh Marshall points out, every single aspect of a presidential appearance is as carefully scripted as a soap opera.

Talkingpointsmemo also reports on the increasing similarity between what the Dems are saying (that is, except for Kucinich) and what the neocons are sying about Iraq. Namely, that their fear now is that the politals in the White House will convince Bush to declare victory and pull out long before the country is stable and the terrorists defeated.

As this op-ed in the WaPost points out, the seeds for the ongoing terrorist attacks in Iraq, taking two more soldiers' lives today, began at the start of the war when the decision was made to bypass defenses in the south of Iraq to plow straight ahead to Baghdad as quickly as possible. Then, of course, Bush jumped into that flight suit and declared "Mission Accomplished." See above. Trouble is, as the op-ed piece explains, the "victors" can declare victory, but the war isn't over until the "losers" accept that they are defeated. That is simply not happening in Iraq. Which is why I am unconvinced by Bush when he says that Gen. Abizaid hasn't requested more troops. If he hasn't, my bet is that that's due to pressure from Rumsfeld and from the fact that the military is already overextended. It is the military's instinct to throw as many troops at a problem as possible, to completely overwhelm the enemy. This hasn't happened in Iraq from day one.


We'll never get our Zimmer bobble head doll day now. As Curry notes, "Only in Yankeeland."

Sunday, October 26, 2003

I guess Alex Belth speaks for all of us in Yankeeland today.

As one wag put it on the local sports talk radio, we were waiting for Yankees of Old, but just old Yankees showed up.

Or, as Madame Cura put it this morning, "Mystique and aura turned into mistakes and errors."

"'We did something by beating them," said Beckett, who was named most valuable player of the Series. "They are who they are. They've won 27 championships. That's who we wanted to play. If you're going to beat somebody, you want to beat the best.'

"Beckett gave the Yankees too much credit. For the third season in a row, they are stuck on 26 titles. Bernie Williams, one of the few Yankees to hit well in the Series, knows what this failure means.

"'The front office and the people in charge designed this team not to play in the postseason, but to win,' said Williams, the longest-tenured member of the team. "When that didn't happen, obviously a lot of people are going to be very upset, including the players. I don't think anybody is more upset than we are.

"'But I don't think we're giving them enough credit. They played the way you're supposed to play. They played better baseball than we did. They deserved to win.' Beckett, a 23-year-old Marlins ace who was pitching on three days' rest, threw more curveballs than he did in Game 3, when he worked into the eighth inning but lost. His curveballs baffled the Yankees, and his fastballs overpowered them."

It's going to be a long winter. It started last night.


It will be a long winter of frustration, politically as well, I feel certain.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, Paul Wolfewitz goes on a victory tour and while heralding yet another school opening (how many of them were actually closed before the war?), his hotel comes down around his head. That should be funny, but it's not, I'm afraid.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Smoke em out of their holes.

It's interesting how leisurely a pace the DoJ is taking in investigating this, given John Ashcroft's strong words in the pass on going after leaks.

"This increase is required by law." So says Ted Stevens regarding the Senate's pay raise -- for the fifth year in a row -- as required by a cost-of-living increase that goes to all civilian government workers and the military. A vote to exempt the Senate was defeated -- by the venerable Senators -- 60-34.

Michael Kinsley explains why some people so personnally dislike George W. Bush. As a Parkinsons sufferer himself, I can only image the rage Kinsley must feel. George's stem cell decision, was even more venal, cynical, and calculated than his brother's actions in Florida, commented on in yesterday's post.

Here's another reminder of the frat boy's world view and sophistication.

"On a visit to the White House last year, President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada told President Bush that he would push ahead with a plan to eradicate coca but that he needed more money to ease the impact on farmers.

"Otherwise, the Bolivian president's advisers recalled him as saying, 'I may be back here in a year, this time seeking political asylum.'

"Mr. Bush was amused, Bolivian officials recounted, told his visitor that all heads of state had tough problems and wished him good luck."

There was a fascinating op-ed in the Times last week, which I meant to blog a link to, but didn't get a chance (here's a link to the archived article, but you gotta pay to get past the abstract). In it, Leonida Zurita-Vargas writes that the rioting in Bolivia stems from deepening anger toward the U.S. drug war and its effect on Bolivian culture, of which coca growing was an important aspect. Manufacturing cocaine was not a part of that culture, but growing coca was, as a valuable crop, as a medicine, as a stimulant. Our heavy-handedness -- and I know, this precedes Bush II -- will have consequences.

Maybe Wesley Clark can understand that a more nuanced approach to how we deal withother countries. According to Michele Goldberg, his campaign seems to be attracting the kinds of voters we need to get rid of our current failed presidency. Moderate democrats and moderate republicans may be attracted to a real live hero-type, who knows his national security without a Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney to lead him around by the nose. He appeals to those of us who aren't attracted to Dean's anger and inability to articulate a message that isn't simply negative.

Speaking of Tweedledee and Tweedledum, i.,e., Cheney and Rumsfeld (or is it the other way around), this is interesting. Thanks to Talkingpoints for the link and for more on Defrank's continued scoops for the Daily News.


This is too close. The Yanks had the fish by the throat and couldn't get them last night. Forget Weaver, who gave up the first W.S. walk-off HR against the Yanks since William Stanley Mazeroski did it in '61, and that didn't go well for the Bombers. Weaver shouldn't even been in that game after the Yanks had runners on 2nd and 3rd with less than 2 outs in the 10th and 11th. Aaron Boone is quickly going from hero in Game 7 of the ALCS to World Serious goat.

A big game is required of Mr. Wells, who may be pitching his last game for the team. And some timely hitting would be nice. If it weren't for Jeter, Bernie, and, especially, Matsui, the Yankees would be out of it by now. Heard on the sports talk radio this afternoon that Soriano is not playing tonight. It could just as easily have been Boone, but with the leftie on the mound, Torre wanted the stronger player at third.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

It may not equal his constitutional crimes, but this ranks up there as a highlight in Jeb Bush's sleazy career. Doing this to both the vegatative wife and her long-suffering husbands is unconscienable pandering. It flies in the face of established case law, not to mention ethical standards. Another case of a state politician playing to the religious right despite the fact that his -- and the Fla. legislature's -- actions will be overturned eventually. But Bush's action is a helluva lot worse than dropping the ten commandments in the courthouse lobby.

And, oh yes, those were the real deal.

While Jeb is obvious, I'm not sure what to make of the Rumsfeld memo, other than it's another attempt to embarass and weaken the very department he heads.

He seems to think that what he really needs is the five members of the Deadly Viper Assassin Squad. They'll take care of those mudderfuckingterrorists.


Big Night.

For more on the Serious -- and the "Doping scandal" -- go here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

David Brooks, the nice, genial, self-hating New Yorker, and vicious conservative, is probably right. I sense that for much of America, at least the Red states, see most of the Democratic candidates as effete (if they used such language) and totally out of touch. Certainly a condescending lot. The more Democrats claim to want to raise taxes on the rich to make things more equitable for "regular folk," the more selfsame folk resent it.

If you need evidence of this condescension, you need go no further than this Mother Jones column. Looking at "NASCAR dads" through the prism of a Margaret Mead-like anthropologist's microscope, the column makes the common misperception among liberals that if we could only educate these poor boobs that, in fact, Bush is the worse thing that could happen to them, and that Bush cares for the rich, not the blue collar worker, they'd come over to our side.

It simply won't work. Since the sixties, the Republican party has effectively convinced the south and middle America that they're for 1.) state's rights (i.e., southern separatism), 2.) the silent majority (i.e., white men), and 3.) rugged individualism (i.e, lower taxes for some, while driving more and more subsidies back to...the south and middle America in the form of farm subsidies and FEMA grants when the trailer park blows away). Not to sound too condescending myself.

Gore ran on a platform of fighting for the little guy. Who wants to be thought of as a little guy?

If you want proof of this, take a look at the governor's race in Mississippi. Haley Barbour, the fat cat insider actually has a good chance to beat Ronnie Musgrove, a real-live former blue collar worker. Barbour, a legitimate piece of sleaze, hasn't lived in the state for years and runs a lobbying firm that has been about as effective as any other organization in making sure that manufacturing firms leave the state, oil prices stay high, and contaminated sites go uncleaned, somehow is perceived as a man of the people (some people, anyway).

"Before his candidacy, Barbour said that he viewed politics as 'a game' and, according to Charles Lewis, that 'if the terms and conditions are right, I don't have anything that isn't for sale except my wife and children.' ...One of his contradictions is how such a congenial [there's that word again] man can be so blithely capable of behavior that others consider unethical. When he began the job as party chairman, Barbour promisded to divest himself of his lobbying concerns, but never did. As a gubernatorial candidate, he has again not severed his financial ties. 'You can be sure that everyone in town knows it's still haley's firm, and sitting lobbyists making millions of dollars influencing government should not be simultaneously running for office,' Lewis says.

"Recent disclosures that Barbour's lobbying partners, Griffith and Rogers, are two of the principals in New Bridge Strategies, a company that somewhat impatiently describes itself as brokering 'areas of opportunity' for American businessmen in postwar Iraq, has led Barbour to disclaim any real connection to the outfit. Yet, New Bridge Strategies shares an address with Barbour Griffith & Rogers, and Barbour previously served on the advisory boards of two New Bridges affiliate companies."

"...And what route does a man with a cartographer's knowledge of the Washington political geography take when he ventures outside the Beltway? During an appearance at a DeSoto County Catholic school, in a somewaht cryptic attempt to express his support for Head Start programs, which help poor children, Barbour said: 'Head Start is a godsend for Mississippi. Some of those kids in it would be better off sittingup on a piano bench at a whorehouse than where they are now.'"

Fascinating. Head Start has a way of screwing with the heads of people who claim to support it while simultaneously trying to kill it.

The race in Mississippi is important, as the article concludes:

"At the moment, the Mississippi's governor's race is too close to call. Should Barbour win, his many connections could well be beneficial to a small, impoverished state [I doubt that]. But would this be good for American politics? After all, it was Walt Whitman who described lobbyists as 'crawling, serpentine men, the lousy combings and born freedom sellers of the earth.' And just 11 years ago, Ross Perot received 19 percent of the popular presidential vote as an outsider inveighing against lobbyists and special interests. That now, Haley Barbour, the consummate Washington insider, merits reasonable electoral consideration for state office is surely an indication of how doominant the roles of money and influence have become in American politics. And Barbour may be only the beginning. If he prevails in November, Alan Simpson says that other lobbyists will soon follow. 'They see he can win,' Simpson says, 'a lot of those other guys will say, 'I'm gonna give it a try.'"

Meanwhile, the blogosphere is torn by Gregg Easterbrook's column regarding the influence -- and responsibility -- of Jews in Hollywood. The remarks were anti-semitic, quit defending him!

I don't believe ESNP should have fired him, though. His column was great and he didn't give his sermon on filmic violence (I can't wait to see Kill Bill Part 1) on ESPN's web site, and it had nothing to do with football. But I suspect it has more to do with their fear that they would be seen as having a double standard if they were seen as forcing Rush out, but letting Gregg get a bye (yes, yes, Limbaugh resigned, as King Kaufman notes, but it was pretty clear there was significant pressure from within ESPN), than with the fact that ESPN is owned by Eisner's Disney.

What sport does Mahathir write about? Or Bill Boykin? Boykin should be fired, though. Generals are not supposed to give political speeches. And intelligence chiefs are not supposed to be stoopid. Oh, I forgot, he's intelligence chief for the pentagon, and we now know how intelligent those guys are.


Allan Barra is correct, New York Yankee fans are smarter than other baseball fans. They just know when to keep their hands to themselves...and when not to.

I was at the game on Saturday night (a losing effort for a Yankee team still exhausted from Game 7's ending Friday morning). Sitting in the front row next to the left field foul poll, the Marlin's Mike Lowell hit a high fly ball that went deep to left. Me, and everyone else sitting in the area, knew that we had to let Matsui have a chance to catch it. I looked around after he did, and there was a look of relief on the faces of everyone, that no one stuck their hand out to grab it.

Friday, October 17, 2003

The Yankees win the pennant! The Yankees win the pennant!


Unfucking believable. You simply can't kill the Yankees. Whether it's the A's, The Diamondbacks, or the Red Sox, the Yanks just won't lose in the House that Ruth Built.

I'm exhausted. I'm happy. What is it about this whacky game?

But hats off to the Red Sox. It was like the freakin' Illiad this year, Hector versus Achilles, with the baseball gods looking on and weighing in every once in a while. They were more than a worthy opponent. They made the Yankees a better team. And vice-versa.

And Mariano Rivera. Incredible. And Pedro Martinez. Amazing heroics, but the tank was empty in the eighth. Everyone knew it.

"The game is the same. It's just up on another level."

Thursday, October 16, 2003

It all has the feel of having been preordained back in April. Clemens versus Martinez in Game 7. The Yankees should have taken it yesterday, it was in their grasp, but the only curse that really matters is the curse of a bad bullpen. Tonight will be the 26th time these two teams have faced each other this year. The Yankees have won 13, the Sox 12.

But at least we now know we do not face the specter of a Red Sox/Cubs matchup, one that would indeed mark the beginning of the end of the world.

I did not know that for all of the Yankees post-season, they've only been in four game sevens. Four. And in the last one hosted in Yankee Stadium, Lew Burdette of the Milwaukee Braves beat 'em 5-0 in '57.

But according to Tom Verducci, as quoted by Alex Belth, game seven history hasn't been too kind to the Red Stockings -- and there's a twist:

"Boston has its own Game 7 goblins. The franchise is 1-4 in such contests (again, excluding those in nine-game series). And who has the only Game 7 win in Red Sox history? That would be Clemens, who beat the Angels 8-1 in the deciding game of the 1986 ALCS. So bring it on, Rocket vs. Pedro one last time. Winner take all."

And I'm glad it's a night game. Taking second fiddle to the futile cubbies, relegated to afternoon games, is simply too emotionally draining. They leave me completely spent (and, like last night, completely annoyed) the rest of the evening.


Tom Friedman thinks the Bush administration needs to listen harder to its critics. Fat chance of that, as Dave Lindorf reports on the efforts of the Secret Service -- probably at the behest of the appearance-obsessed White House -- to make sure that protesters are kept far from the presidential motorcade...and the TV cameras.

Over at Slate, Kinsley has more on the news filtering theme so beloved by Bush. No wonder he's so confident.

Speaking of keeping up appearances, Josh Marshall is amazed at Republican logic that the liberal media refuses to report positive stories about Iraq. Seems that every time a reporter is all set to go cover another school opening (remember, that was the primary administration rationale for the war, better Iraqi schools and healthcare), a U.S. soldier is blown up. If it bleeds it leads, so the average U.S. citizen is completely misled by the incredible progress we're making.

But according to Stars & Stripes -- definitely part of the liberal media establishment -- the troops are angry and demoralized. But that was in August. Before the start of the Iraqi school year, so I'm sure they're feeling better about things now.

Meanwhile, in local news, more on the tragic events of the other night, in which two children died in a fire in their (illegal) apartment, and their mother was arrested for child endangerment because she still had to work the night shift when the baby sitter didn't show up. It gets more tragic. It was murder.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Well, some good news. I can hear Ashcroft muttering, "Drats, foiled again by that meddling Supreme Court." Funny thing about free's free. The administration's argument -- that it's a public health issue, not protected speech -- is classic Bush administration logic: "Of course, DoJ officials know more about health issues than a person's doctor."

Two children die in an apartment fire. Their mother is arrested for child endangerment since she left the kids alone to go work a twelve-hour shift at McDonalds. The injustice of poverty.

Coincidently, the New York Times magazine ran a troubling story on the stress of poverty and the toll it takes on the health of the poor. The "cycle of poverty" has been examined for years, but this is a new approach -- looking at how the crushing poverty of many urban areas create an environment that is unhealthy, not just because of crime (although that exacerbates the situation), but because the environment does indeed make people sick. Then sicker. Vermin, garbage, incinerators, peeling paint, and a lack of decent food choices added to the stress of overwhelming unemployment and racism.

But while the compassionate conservative refunds the rich their taxes he has no notion of helping cash-strapped cities. So services for the poor are further reduced.

Joe Klein, in Time, finally catches up with Josh Marshall (and the Vega, of course) with a blistering attack on one conservative of whom no one would add the "compassionate" prefix.

"The failures of American intelligence have been a Cheney obsession -- which is why Republican Senator Chuck Hagel recently suggested that if the President really wants to know who the White House leakers are, he should 'sit down' with his Vice President. Cheney's alliance with Rumsfeld has been at the heart of this Administration's hawkish, unilateral foreign-policy fantasies."

Meanwhile, USA Today's cover story is an approving piece on the candidacy of Wesley Clark. Traction, anyone?


The Yankees and Red Sox have now played 23 games this year. The Yankees lead 12-11. Unbelievable match-up. Time to listen to the game 24, number five of the Serious. One of them is going up 3-2 and the ulcers start to form.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Where to even begin, dear readers. So much has already been blogilized about one of the most intense ALCS games ever played. For some good posts, go here, here, and here.

I'm not willing to get quite so worked up about Saturday's game. Perhaps if I was a Sox fan, I'd be pretty agitated, a victim of my own heroes, Petey and Manny.

But their colors (make that "color," as in yellow) were evident a long time ago, it's just that the Boston fans were able to wearily smile, shake their heads, and say, "that's our Pedro, that's our Manny." Maybe not anymore, and by the sounds of things being said -- and not said -- in the Boston dugout, maybe their fellow Sox players are not so forgiving anymore, either.

If the Yankees are able to hold on to the Serious, I think the Boston fans will look at the fourth inning of game 3 as the moment of the team's latest unraveling. It was classic Red Sox: Pedro, getting knocked around in a tighter than tight ALCS game, gets mad and throws at a guy's head rather than try to get him out; Manny, thinking only about himself and his machismo, starts bailing out even before Clemens has nodded approval of the catcher's sign. Then angrily waves his bat at Clemens for throwing a pitch that went over Posada's head, not Ramirez's.

"[The dugouts] emptied in Boston Saturday after a similarly unsprightly advance on the mound by manna Ramirez of the Red Sox, who took offense to a pitch by the Yankees' Roger Clemens that was so far inside it may have actually missed the inside corner. Ramirez, waving his bat and screaming obscenities, advanced on Clemens with the ferocity of a tectonic plate with a toothache. Clemens advanced also, shouting a two-word greeting at Ramirez."

Difference was, Clemens, who was blown out at Fenway in game three of the 1999 ALCS, stayed calm after falling behind 2-0 in the first, and just pitched a wonderful game, his last (if he makes good on his promises) in Fenway.

Actually, the weather has me more annoyed than Boston antics ("Cowboy Up Yours"). Boston players and fans must be singing, "Love That Dirty Water" as water just bubbles up from The Charles in that dilapidated old relic. The rainout lets them skip a shaky Burkett and go with Lowe in Fenway tomorrow, rather than in The Stadium, where the Yanks regularly beat him like a drum.

Nevertheless, the quote of the day -- the quote that just sums up the whole Boston nuttiness has to be from the concerned father of the third hero of Saturday's game, who says "He's doing as well as can be expected." Geesh.

There there's the Boston police incident report. The "muscular" Yankees just attacked the poor guy.

Great stuff.

And all the tut-tutting from concerned sports columnists is just a little over the top. I am as surprised as anyone that the players would start emulating the fans and team owners in violent behavior, but this is supposed to be "the bitterest rivalry in sports." Is it surprising that there'd be a fight? Yes, I know, not one between a 72 year old man and an active pitcher, but keep in mind that Zimmer was the only guy on the field smaller -- and crazier, perhaps -- than Pedro Martinez. The columnists' hypocrisy is ripe; this sort of stuff is like having their columns write themselves! As for the MLB and FOX, you think they mind the increased attention this will bring to an already great post season that has the TV ratings to match?

And the expected "bad for baseball" laments, that the ump should have made some ejections are ridiculous; well, maybe Pedro, but only because I could clearly read his lips as he was pointing to his head. Looking at the Yankees catcher, and pointing at his own head, he said, "I hit you here." That's a bad thing to do in baseball, and part of the reason Zimmer lost it as he has titanium in his head due to a beanball during his playing days. No, in general, let the players play. I am, however, beginning to rethink my support for the DH. It would have been fun to watch Pujilist Pedro in the batters box against Clemens. Think Puny Pete would have dug in?


But if you want real nastiness, violence on the field, sucker punches, and kicks to the back of the head, then we must turn our gaze to the White House, a place where there definitely should be some ejections.

When it was announced that Condi Rice was taking "authority" over reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, a lot of people's first response was, isn't that already her job as National Security Advisor? Well, apparently not. Or maybe, the former university administrator is not very good at administering.

But now that we have very specific budget line items for the two countries, it's clear what needs to be done, no? Well, turns out a big chunk of that $87 billion, is just a huge slush fund for Rumsfeld to bribe other countries with, at his discression, according to Fred Kaplan at Slate. It's money for Iraqi hospitals that gets cut because Congress can say to constituents, "No, see, we didn't put Iraqi healthcare ahead of yours." But a quick thank you bribe to the Paki-turkeys of the world is a-ok.

And apparently there's money for P.R., but at least in this case, it's failing. "Six soldiers reached by [Gannett News Service] directly or through their families said they agreed with the letter's thrust. But none of the soldiers said he wrote it. One said he didn't even sign it."

And John Ashcroft's P.R. campaign isn't going too well, either. At least not according to Coleen Rowley, the FBI agent who blew the whistle on the agency's screw-ups prior to Sept. 11, 2001. Rowley takes aim at Ashcroft's assertion that America is "freer today than at any time in the history of human freedom. Rowley disagrees in an opinion piece in Saturday's Minneapolis Star Tribune.

If he could talk, Jose Padilla would probably agree with Rowley's assessment.

Friday, October 10, 2003

With Andy Pettitte pitching, the Yanks break out against the Bosox (I did not realize that Andy had pitched game two for the Yankees in nine straight best of five divisional series. Amazing).

That means we can turn to the news of the day. I mean Pat Robertson. This week it's the State Department. His reverence and Christian humility is once again on display. Oh my, demagoguery comes to town, draped in Christian self-righteousness.

Ah, yes, demagogues. Cheney continues to make speeches that are, well, bizarre. He continues to invoke the imminent threat that Iraq simply did not pose, at least according to the Kay Report. No one disputes he "had" weapons programs. But, I guess it depends on what the meaning of "had" is. Well, we got 'em now. And, oh yes, Don Rumsfeld grants that it's a "mixed picture".

Speaking of Rumsfeld, the Atlantic Monthly has a fascinating piece on Rumsfeld's years in the Nixon White House. I was not aware that he was so closely involved with Mitchell, Colsen, and CREEP. The article isn't online, but an interview with the author, James Mann, is.

Go Yankees.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Oh, the chutzpah of these people. Rice takes the message to the people, avoiding the Washington press corps. Why? Because the press corps has read, or at least, looked at the Kay report. And it's pretty clear from the analysis I've read regarding the Kay report that, indeed, inspections had been working. It is laughable when Rice says the Kay report would have turned the tide at the UN last winter. Fred Kaplan dissects the report, for instance, finding this nugget:

"'Multiple sources with varied access and reliability have told ISG [the Iraq Survey Group] that Iraq did not have a large, ongoing centrally controlled CW [chemical weapons] program after 1991. … Iraq's large-scale capability to develop, produce, and fill new CW munitions was reduced—if not entirely destroyed—during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Fox [Clinton's 1998 airstrikes], 13 years of UN sanctions and UN inspections.'"

Or there's this:

"The section of the report on Saddam's nuclear aspirations is still more revealing—and disingenuous. The section begins with the Pentagon teams learning from several sources that Saddam 'remained firmly committed to acquiring nuclear weapons.' But read the next two sentences: 'These officials assert that Saddam would have resumed nuclear weapons at some future point. Some indicated a resumption after Iraq was free of sanctions.'

"In other words, Saddam might have restarted his nuclear-weapons program—except for the U.N. sanctions."

Now, let's be clear. The sanctions could not contindefinitelyately. They were too broad and were punishing the Iraqi people (though probably not nearly so harrowingly as Saddam's PR machine made it appear). But for Rice, in the face of the Kay report's pretty mundane finding (basically, that Saddam really wanted WMD, but was being restrained by sanctions), to continue to make these claims, continues the irresponsible and ultimately self-defeating process of misleading the public on the who, what, and why we went to war with Iraq.

Meanwhile, the "Free Don Rumsfeld" clock ticks inexorably on.

Meanwhile, things continue to get ugly for the White House. But Bush blames the press for "the leakers (man, he sounds more and more each day like the slacker frat boy he truly is)."

A role Michael Kinsley writes about in Time as he explains why right-minded people hate Bush.


Yes, the Boss is insane. The Yankees should win anyway because Derek Jeter truly believes that "'Why would you want to face an easier team?' Then Jeter uttered the defining sentence, the one that ultimately separates the men in pinstripes from the man in the turtleneck. 'I'm not afraid to fail,' he said." Well, actually, the Yanks ability to win relies on Mussina, Pettitte, Clemens, and Wells.

But this is the serious that was meant to be, going all the way back to April. It's US Steel versus a bunch of guys who look like they work on the loading dock in the off season. Millar has the first crew cut mullett I've ever seen.

I will say this about the Sox remarkable left side of the infield. The play they made on Monday night was about as heads up (no pun intended) as anything I've seen since "The Play." As King Kaufman notes:

"You had to figure this was Boston's series after that collision play in center field in the seventh inning Monday night. With the Sox leading 4-2 and two outs, Jermaine Dye of the A's lifted a fly to shallow center. Red Sox second baseman Damian Jackson went out and center fielder Johnny Damon came in. The ball hit the pocket of Jackson's glove just as the two collided at full speed, Jackson's head slamming into the side of Damon's face. The two men and the ball fell to the ground. Jackson lay dazed while Damon appeared to be unconscious. Dye rounded first and headed for second.

Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra found the ball on the ground between his mates, picked it up and threw to second, where third baseman Bill Mueller, having raced over, applied the tag to a sliding Dye. Three outs.

What an incredible heads-up play by both Garciaparra and Mueller. Attention quickly turned to Damon, who was on the ground for nine minutes before being strapped to a stretcher and taken away in an ambulance, but that play, which kept the tying run from coming to the plate against a tiring Pedro Martinez, might have saved the series for the Sox."

The only prediction I'll make on this serious is that the Yankees will win it. It will be gruelling, tense and backbreaking (and I'm just talking about those of us watching at home). And it will be wild in the Fens and the Bronx.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Without further comment, I direct you here.

But really, we must stop picking on the big, fat idiot. To be called a racist and a fool by such thoughtful guys as Howie Long and Terry Bradshow is punishment enough, people!

Am I missing something here? I know the press chants "quagmire" in the face of the remarkably able job we're doing in Iraq, fixing the electric grid, opening schools, winning the hearts and minds. But, as I understand it, the Iraqis are screaming for more local control of the rebuilding and, even more so, security. The Europeans demand a timetable for turning things over to the Iraqis before they'll promise a dime. The Iraqis -- and the U.S. troops -- complain that L. Paul Bremer III refuses to leave his ivory palace. Bremer treats the Iraqi council like stooges (which is how they're perceived by other Iraqis). So, the plan now, is to centralize things even the White House? Well, at least judging by the name of Rice's committe, they are tacitly admitting that Iraq is not stable. It's almost, almost, an admission that there was a screw up, although it looks like Rumsfeld might take the fall, not anyone in the White House. The "Rumsfeld wants to spend more time with his family" clock ticks, tocks.

But it's good to see that crony capitalism is alive and well.

Speaking of crony capitalism, Bush's old friends at Enron continue to find new ways to print money. I don't even pretend to understand this, but can Enron really force an electric company to pay them $300 million for electricity Enron never delivered?

Probably Gray Davis' fault. Ah, Gray, he can't even win against a guy who says things like "the purple of Cauliflower" and appears to have groped, pinched, or said really weird things to half the women in southern California (at least every waitress, stunt woman, and studio admin. ass't -- women whose livelihood depended on resisting the temptation to dump hot coffee on his head). This latest phase in the recall has been by far the most interesting to me. Watching Republicans -- who have virtually nothing to like about the pro-gay union, pro-abortion Ahnold -- falling over themselves to defend him against the charges (it's the vast left-wing conspiracy). The Daily Howler serves us up Chris Matthews and Andrew ("Grab one of these, baby!") Sullivan as exhibits one and two in this week's studies in hypocracy and spin.

Oh yeah, hypocracy and spin. Oh, please. What did he know and when did he know it? It is a near certainty that Bush, Cheney, and Rove -- or the axis of slime and defend -- know who blew Valerie Plame's cover. Continue reading Josh Marshall, who is relentless on this one. It's important.


A little champaign (or coors light?) is okay. But now the real post-season begins.

Even still, tonight's game, with Zito facing Pedro in Oakland, should be great. The Yankees will enjoy watching it on TV, I'm sure.

Friday, October 03, 2003

It took ESPN a lot less time to blow off the bloviator -- and alleged oxycontin addict -- than I expected. His statement, in which he mentions "the crew" being uncomfortable, is telling. My guess is that there was a huge outcry in Bristol, CT, the home of ESPN, that forced the issue. I would hazard a guess that management's decision to hire the jerk in the first place was a deeply unpopular move to the employees of the network.

But the normally astute Allan Barra is wrong. Or, at least, confused on this one. Limbaugh's point wasn't merely that McNabb was a mediocre QB. For all I know he was. Limbaugh's point -- in fact his only point regardless of the subject -- was that McNabb was being kept in the starter's role because the liberal agenda of the press demanded it. Of course. Everyone knows that sportswriters across the land are conspiring to force their liberal agenda on the innocent fat guys sitting on their sofas watching football all Sunday. Hogwash. As King Kaufman rightly notes.

The good news, I think, is this: Limbaugh can safely spout his bullshit all day long on the radio. His aptly named "dittoheads" eat up his bile, and no dissenting callers are allowed on. But when the creep raises his fat head above the bottom feeding talk radio universe, the civilized world (if such a term can be used to describe a football game) is immediately repulsed. What these network honchos are thinking when they hire these wingnuts, I'm not sure. But I'm glad that the audience reaction is so clear.

Then again, Rushie -- once his head clears from the narcotic haze -- could always take a few tips from his fellow Republicans and their strategy to "slime and defend." [Ed., You're awfully certain about those drug charges. Aren't they just "alleged?" Yes, but alleged by The National Enquirer, so they must be true.]

Yep, those Republicans. Class acts.


We can breathe again. It was a long night, though. When the Yanks failed to score more than one run after loading the bases with no one out in the first, there was a sense of "here we go again" in the stadium. Pettite was fantastic. As was Mr. Rivera. I think he broke six bats last night with the cutter.

It's going to be an interesting weekend in the hideous Metrodome. The Yankees need a big start from Mr. Clemens.

But our friends in Boston are biting their nails off.

I will say this about the Boston/A's series. Boston is one of the finest franchises in baseball history, the first game of that series, with one of the best pitchers of the past few years facing the best pitcher of his generation. Red Sox nation is vast and rabid. So, of course, the brilliant minds running Major League Baseball schedule the game for 7 o'clock Pacific Time. The game didn't end until 2:45 AM Eastern. Red Sox fans must have felt that yet another indignity had been foisted on them. Imagine you're a Boston fan (I know that's difficult to do if you're a Yankee fan), you're trying to stay awake only to see Pedro get drubbed in the third for 3 runs. Just as you're begging to nod, Hudson's hand cramps up in the seventh; Rincon promptly gives up a 2 run homer to Walker. Now you're awake. And feeling pretty good about things. Then...the ninth...and Yum, Yum, I mean Byung Hyun Kim -- in his first post-season game since the Yankees hit ninth inning homers in back-to-back World Series games in 2001 -- goes ahead and plunks one batter and walks the next. So much for the Red Sox closer. Score tied 4-4. You're angry, now, ranting at the screen. There's the 10th, the 11th innings and your head is resting on your chest, waking up just in time to see the replays of the A's bunting in the winning run in the 12th. It must be a nightmare you think. Then you remember. No, it's the Red Sox. You're also thinking, Tod Walker reminds you of Bill Bruckner, and you howl at the cruelty of it all.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Rush Limbaugh is a a big fat idiot. No, really, he is.

McNabb responds, and good for him.

"Limbaugh insisted Wednesday he had 'no racist intent whatsoever.' In fact, the conservative commentator said he must have been right; otherwise, the comments would not have sparked such outrage."

Is he a racist, in addition to being a big fat idiot? I don't know, but this ancient conservative canard that blacks who aren't performing well are being kept in their jobs for corporate diversity and the like sounds, well, pretty racist to me.

First of all, there's plenty of black QBs in the NFL and big time college.

Secondly -- I only do baseball stats, but I recall watching McNabb single-handedly beating teams a year or so ago.

Thirdly, Philly sports "fans" eat their young.

One thing is for sure. Rush Limbaugh is a big fat idiot. ESPN should dump him, but they know that at least 50% of their audience love Rush and were probably thinking the same thing.

I hate Limbaugh. In large part, at the moment, because he's forced me to talk about the NFL. No self-respecting blog does that.

Thanks to King Kaufman who hates him too. In my humble opinion.

But back to the weirdness of politics. Michael Lewis, author of the wonderful "Moneyball," gets to the heart of what has driven the Davis recall.

Aside: Read Moneyball if only for the parts on Joe Morgan announcing the A's/Twins Division Series last year. I'm listening to him doing the Braves/Cubs game tonight. He just said, with the Braves down by 2 in the the 1st I repeat, "The Braves haven't run or bunt all year. They may have to start doing that here. They can't wait for the 3 run homer." Well, yes they can; that is what they've done all year. Telling your hitter to bunt when he hasn't done it "all year" is not a recipe for success. Great 2nd baseman. The best, so far. Dumb baseball analyst.

But back to the vast right wing conspiracy. The vague "integrity" attacks on Clark are eerily familiar. Whether familiar to the 90s (sex and the invention of the internet) or the 50s (fellow travellers), I'm torn.
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