Thursday, August 31, 2006


The Village Voice has a great piece by Allan Barra on the trials and tribulations of Alex Rodriguez (who just blasted a moon shot in the 7th against the Tigers -- and yes, those of you "lethal booers" out there, with a score of 4-2, that constitutes a "late and close situation"). Lots of information about his upbringing that I didn't know, as well as the circumstances that led to The Contract with Texas.

I mean, I live in the NY region, read the sports pages daily, and study over every bit of information I can find about the Yankees, and yet I did not know he lived in Washington Heights when he was a child.

Could it be that the Red Sox-centric NY press loves to hate him?

It's hard to think of a superstar in recent years who gets so little respect from his own press, in which he has been referred to, at various times, as Nay-Rod, Pay-Rod, and A-Fraud. Alex Rodriguez, born in New York, perhaps the greatest all-around player of his generation, the greatest Latin ballplayer of all time, and the fifth-greatest player in Yankee history after Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, and Joe DiMaggio—in most areas of personal accomplishment he is either ahead of or close to DiMaggio—is practically without support in his hometown.

But as fans are beginning to realize, the New York press, infiltrated by Boston homies such as the Daily News' Mike Lupica and ESPN's Peter Gammons, is ridiculously Red Sox–centric. The New York Times, which owns a minority stake in the Red Sox, leads the pack. As Eric Wolff asked in New York magazine (January 9), "Has the Times Gone Red Sox Crazy?" From October 12, 2005, the first day of the Yankees' off-season, to the first week in January, there were 105 articles mentioning the Red Sox, two more than the Yankees and 26 more than the Mets. "The paper's Boston coverage can be absurd," Wolff wrote. "Witness its infamous October 2003 pro-Sox editorial"—endorsing the Red Sox for the World Series over the Yankees—"What's going on? Too many Harvard grads on 43rd Street?"

The eye-opener was how little support A-Rod got last year for his second MVP award, with many local writers clamoring for the Red Sox's David Ortiz. A-Rod was equal or superior to Ortiz in all hitting stats, and in the field and on the bases he made contributions that Ortiz, a DH and a liability anywhere but in the batter's box, couldn't begin to match. Yet after the award was announced, the Daily News headlined "More Bling, but No Ring," while the New York Post said "MVP But . . . Lack of Rings Tarnishes A-Rod's Second AL Trophy." That's the way it goes for Rodriguez; if his team doesn't win it all, his awards are "tarnished."

More puzzling, at least to English-speaking fans, is why Latin fans, even A-Rod's fellow Dominicans, don't regard him as one of their own. Kevin Baker, novelist and baseball fan, remembers being at a Yankees–Red Sox game two seasons ago in New York and talking to a Dominican family of four who were all wearing Red Sox shirts. Why, Baker asked them, weren't they rooting for the Yankees? "We love Manny!"—Ramirez—they replied. "He grew up near us in Washington Heights." Then why don't you root for the Yankees? Baker asked, since Rodriguez was born there. "They were dumbfounded," Baker says. "They didn't know A-Rod was born in the Heights."

"Lightning Rod."
"A new type of fascism"

Good night and good luck, indeed.

The battle for the soul of the Republican party

Is is that Rhode Island is just too far from Midtown Manhattan? I can't otherwise explain why the so-called liberal media has been so focused on Lamont/Lieberman while ignoring Chafee/Laffey.

Lying liars

For Christ's sake:

Democrats contended that the statements went too far. "Maybe there are some people in America who do not want to fight the war on terror, but I do not know them," Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said yesterday. "We Democrats want to fight a very strong war on terror. No one has talked about appeasement."

Chuck, Chuck. Will you just say, "bullshit," already?

The good news is that this is surely a sign of how desperate the GOP is. Only the wingiest of wingnuts believes that a return to a sane government would require negotiations with al Qaeda.

And the more pictures of Ken Mehlman we can get into the atmosphere, the more likely a GOP loss in October. Dude is so ugly, he has to sneak up on a glass 'a water to take a drink.

[UPDATE] The archived story no longer comes with the photo of the dreamy "lifelong confirmed bachelor," so disregard that last, totally out of left field paragraph.

Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way


....The Bush administration — which has rejected the international Kyoto Protocol emissions-reduction treaty — reacted tepidly to word of the California push. "The states are free to make their own decisions about their policies," said Kristen Hellmer, a spokeswoman for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. But she reiterated the administration's philosophical opposition to global-warming caps, saying a cap imposed in one state or country simply causes industry to move to another location. "They're going to still produce greenhouse gas," she said.

As usual, Bush has his head in the sand over this. As he knows very well, we could prevent industries from moving to other states by adopting national standards, something he's dead set against.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Still no Yeti sighting

Carl Pavano has become a joke. A $10 million/year joke...only the Yankees have that kind of devil may care sense of tomfoolery.

Pavano’s New Injury Bemuses the Yanks

Technically, Johnny Damon has never been teammates with Carl Pavano. They have occupied the same Yankees clubhouse, but Damon has never played behind Pavano, who has had more disabled-list adventures than any pitcher in memory.

When asked for his reaction to Pavano’s latest debacle — two broken ribs as the result of a car accident he waited almost two weeks to report — Damon showed sarcasm befitting a skeptical clubhouse.

“I hope his car didn’t get dinged up too bad; I heard it’s a Porsche,” Damon said. When told the car had been damaged, Damon sighed and said: “It did? Son of a gun. That stinks. Well, maybe that means he gets a new one.”

Damon later said that Pavano had been “dying to get back on the field,” but added that he did not know him well. They fished together in spring training, when Pavano, who earns $10 million a season, was still considered an integral part of the team.

Now, the Yankees have mostly written off Pavano, who has gone 428 days since last pitching for the team.

The whispering over the past couple of years is that Pavano just doesn't want to pitch for the Yankees. If that's not the case and I were Pavano, I would not want to pick up the paper and read this:

“I know there’s a lot of stuff flying around that he doesn’t want to pitch here, but he’s been held back by physical issues, and they’ve all been legitimate,” Cashman said, adding later, “Players can’t play through marble-sized bone chips.”

Pavano missed three months last season with a shoulder injury that did not require surgery. He had injuries to his back and buttocks last spring before surgery in May to remove a bone chip from his elbow.

When Pavano has been around the team, some players have been exasperated by what they say among themselves is his apparent indifference, citing that he has been a regular on the massage table and is often seen munching candy bars.

While the team captain, Derek Jeter, said Pavano would be welcomed back, Torre acknowledged he would have to earn the respect of his teammates.

“You have to walk into this clubhouse, dress next to these guys and carry your share of the load,” Torre said. “That’s what it amounts to. If that’s a little tough to do at first, so be it.”


But I do wonder if there's any fuzzy pictures out on the internets of the abominable right hander munching candy bars?

Two or three Friedmans away from...VICTORY!

But if you think we're leaving Iraq anytime soon, forget it.

"I don't have a date, but I can see over the next 12 to 18 months, the Iraqi security forces progressing to a point where they can take on the security responsibilities for the country, with very little coalition support," Gen. George Casey said in Baghdad.

That takeover would not mean U.S. troops leaving immediately. It is part of a U.S. military plan to hand over responsibilities, move into large bases and provide support while Iraqis take the lead. A U.S. drawdown would start after that occurred.

I don't think those "large bases" will permit too great a drawdown, unless they are simply Iraq headquarters for Haliburton.

But maybe Casey's right. After all after two or three more Friedmans, Iraq may simply run out of people to have die.

In Baghdad, at least 27 people were killed or found dead Tuesday.

In the Turath neighborhood, the police found the bodies of 11 people behind a school, an Interior Ministry official said. All the victims had been handcuffed and shot in the head, the official said, and their bodies showed signs of torture.

A mortar attack after nightfall killed four people and hurt six others, an official at Yarmouk Hospital here said. The police found another 12 bodies in other parts of the capital, the Interior Ministry official said.

In Baquba, a religiously mixed city northeast of Baghdad that has turned into a daily battleground between Sunni and Shiite Arabs, gunmen killed 11 people on Tuesday, a local police official said. Sunni gunmen killed two of Mr. Sadr’s militiamen during an attack on his provincial office, the official said.

Police officers also found the blindfolded bodies of two people in Buhruz, southwest of Baquba.

An American soldier died Tuesday afternoon when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb southwest of Baghdad, the military said.

Three other servicemen, the military said, also died on Monday: a marine with Regimental Combat Team 7, from injuries sustained in combat in Anbar Province on Monday; a Nebraska National Guard soldier from injuries suffered when his vehicle rolled over into a canal near Balad on Aug. 21; a soldier with the First Brigade, First Armored Division, from nonhostile causes; and a marine from Regimental Combat Team 5 from combat wounds suffered Monday.

Fortunately, though, Abu Gonzalez is on hand to tutor the Iraqis on detainee policies.

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales met Mr. Salih on Tuesday in Baghdad and discussed the tactics used by Iraqi security forces to combat a wave of violence. He condemned the use of torture.

Mr. Gonzales has found himself on the defensive in the United States regarding torture. As White House counsel, he oversaw the production of legal memorandums that appeared to condone mistreatment, perhaps even torture, of detainees.

At his confirmation hearings in January 2005, critics said he was at the forefront of an effort to find legal rationales for subjecting detainees to coercive practices, putting him on the wrong side of history and in opposition to longstanding American principles.

In 2002, he sought clarification from the Justice Department as to the legal limits on the force that could be used on terrorist suspects in captivity. His query led to a much-disputed memorandum from the department that said torture could be said to occur only when the subject was in imminent danger of organ failure and that Mr. Bush as president could sanction coercive interrogation techniques in the name of national security. That definition was eventually renounced.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Let's impeach the president"

When it was announced that Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were touring this summer and would play Jones Beach, I wasn't all that excited. See, one of my favorite albums as a kid was Four Way Street, and a couple years ago I decided to finally get a CD of the album which I hadn't listened to in years.

With the exception of a few tunes, especially Neil's acoustic stuff, I couldn't believe how bad it sounded. The harmonies were anything but, the lack of rehearsal time due to the animosity between Stills and Young was pretty obvious, and the two seemed to be in a contest to see who could play the most self-indulgent guitar solo.

But, when Living with War came out and it was obvious that Neil wouldn't be doing a tour of his own to promote it, and when it was announced they'd play The Theater at Madison Square Garden -- a great, relatively intimate venue -- I gulped and plunked down the $300 bucks for a pair of tix, hoping for the best.

After all, at any time any of the four...well, let's not go there*.

Graham Nash announced, when they took the stage Sunday night, that the audience had better have good babysitters (actually, I think there were quite a few granddads with their grandkids), 'cause they were going to be there for a long time, it set the stage.

They were fucking brilliant.

Although there were ample songs from Crosby and Nash as well as Steve Stills, it was definitely Neil's show. The backup band comprised his old friend Ben Keith, as well as Spooner Oldham, Rick Rosas, and Karl Himmel who, along with Keith, were on Prairie Wind and other Neil Young albums. I'm pretty sure Tommy Bray, the trumpeter on Living With War was playing the horn as well.

Yeah, they trotted out "Our House" and a few other sing-along-ables, but they played pretty much all of Living With War. Those songs brought a new relevance to not only the tour, but to the other songs, as well. Suddenly "Chicago" and "For What It's Worth" were biting, not old chestnuts on a reunion tour. The four were energized by them. And singing along with "Let's impeach the president" -- they thoughtfully scrolled the lyrics on the delightfully low-tech screen behind the stage -- was cathartic.

The harmonies? Perfect. The solos? Incredible. Including a finale (there was no encore, they were spent) of "Rockin' in the Free World" which must have cost Stills and Young a lot of finger tip skin and Neil's black Gibson all six strings (he just played with the feedback at the end).

An absolute blast. And with a definite purpose and message. Like the old days (days I could only experience after the fact, a few years later), only with musicians who've gotten better with age. And all of them practically vibrating with creative rage.

But what is it with Neil's fandom? Is there another Rock 'n Roll star with fans who less understand what he's doing on any tour promoting a new album? He seems to attract the biggest buffoons in the business (and Madame Cura and I, in turn, seem to act as a magnate to the worst of them at every show we go to ). Maybe Frank Zappa had as many obnoxious fans yelling "Shut up 'n play," but I'm not so sure. In Neil's case Sunday, this drunken asshole next to us kept jumping up and yelling "Yeah," and "We love you, man" with uncanny timing every time the lyrics Neil was singing were detailing some new horror in our current state of endless war. And, of course, the lout had to play ghost drums throughout the show. Phantom guitar is ok, it doesn't require that much swinging of the arms.

* With the exception of the still sprightly Graham Nash. Guy's still a Holly.

UPDATED to fix some egregious typos. And this is supposed to be the set list, but while similar, doesn't match my memory of the evening at all.

The hole in the ground

Ray Nagin's an incompetent jerk, but he did have a point (sorry, Time$elect).

Â"You guys in New York City can'?t get a hole in the ground fixed, and it's five years later," he said. "?So let'?s be fair."?

When CBS disclosed his remarks last week, the better to promote its Sunday-night "60 Minutes" broadcast, some people asked, How dare he!

How dare he use "?hole in the ground"? to describe ground zero, they said. Those 16 acres of ruin are "sacred ground" to people who assign theological significance to a devastation wrought by killers guided by religious motivations of their own.

The storm over Mr. Nagin's statements, while not equal to a Category 3 hurricane, was substantial. It was enough to force the mayor on Sunday morning to become a penitent on NBC'?s "Meet the Press."? His confessor was the program's host, Tim Russert.

Mr. Russert'?s interviewing style can span a range of emotions. At times, he is a tough-as-titanium interrogator. Other times, he comes close to turning himself into the national tear duct, to steal H. L. Mencken'?s description of William Jennings Bryan. He was a bit of both on Sunday when he asked Mr. Nagin if he would apologize for his language.

The mayor's first response was to suggest that his comments were taken out of context. (When a politician claims to have been quoted out of context, you are well-advised to keep your hand on your wallet.) But then, under Mr. Russert'?s doleful prodding, Mr. Nagin began to backpedal. "?Absolutely," he was "?very sorry,"? he allowed, and "?meant no disrespect" to 9/11 relatives.

To describe ground zero, he said, "?I should have probably called it an undeveloped site as of yet.? His real point, he added, was ?to show how difficult it is for people to rebuild after a major disaster.?

Now, many New Yorkers may not give a hoot what Mr. Nagin has to say, one way or another. It'?s not as if he has been a beacon throughout his own city'?s ordeal. His main talent at times has been to open his mouth only to switch feet. Remember his reference to New Orleans as "chocolate city"? He didn'?t mean that he saw it as a potential rival to Hershey, Pa.

But even though the mayor'?s wording may have been crass, was he wrong?

"You know,"? he told Mr. Russert, "?I'?ve gotten some calls from New Yorkers that said, '?You know, no one has really said this, and really pointed us to the fact that it'?s five years after the fact.'"?

NOT quite. Mr. Nagin is hardly the first to notice that nothing has been built where the twin towers once stood. Few facts are more obvious. The question is whether we in New York have become so soft that we cannot face reality, even if it comes inelegantly wrapped.

There is no reason to believe that is so.

A readiness to look realistically at Bernard B. Kerik turned him from a hero into a punch line. A more cold-eyed assessment of Rudolph W. Giuliani is under way as well after years of hagiography.

The men who led the federal commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks now lament that they treated the former mayor with kid gloves. Separately, HarperCollins has just published "Grand Illusion,"? by two New York journalists, Wayne Barrett and Dan Collins. Their book praises Mr. Giuliani as having been a tower of strength on 9/11 but also faults him for serious managerial missteps that may have made the day more calamitous than it had to be.

Wherever the reality may lie, surely New Yorkers can take it. That certainly goes for anything Mr. Nagin says about the lack of soaring progress at ground zero, mired in battles over insurance, design plans, security and pacifying 9/11 families.

The New Orleans mayor now prefers to call it "?an undeveloped site as of yet"?? Fine. But it doesn'?t mean he was wrong the first time. To the dismay of most New Yorkers, it sadly remains, five years later, a hole in the ground.

Yep. The impotent mixture of political and business interests, with the doleful addition of the bereaved's needs for a monument to their losses, have left a hole in New York; an opportunity to -- out of the devestation -- inject some life into lower Manhattan has been squandered.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Happy anniversary

The week in genocide, 2005 edition.

Untouchable goose livers

I imagine Eliot Ness taking an ax to...well, whatever they ship goose livers in.

Friday book learnin'

Steve Goldman writes the Pinstriped Blog and the Pinstriped Bible over at the Yankee Entertainment and Sports Network site. Goldman is an agile, witty writer and a terrific analyst of all things baseball, especially the Yankees and Alex Rodriguez. And he's never shy of taking on his employers if he thinks they're not pursuing the best direction for the Yankees to win.

But what makes him especially entertaining is the wide variety of subjects and interests he brings to his ostensibly baseball-focused sites. F'rinstance, yesterday he tackled the subject of "What would the Founders have thought" through a review of Revolutionary Characters, by Gordon S. Wood. Goldman writes,

There are always a slew of books around asking, "What would the founders thought?" One of the subtexts of this volume is that it's not an easily answered question regardless of what the subject is. First, their concerns, their very vocabulary, was different from ours. They were motivated by a concept of service and noblesse oblige that seems alien to us now. Second, as the experiment with self-government got underway, they lost a lot of their illusions about the kind of enlightened, virtuous leadership Americans were capable of. Instead, liberated from British rule, America rapidly produced its first generation of demagogues. Americans, Adams rapidly concluded, had "never merited the Character of very exalted Virtue." There was, "no special providence for Americans, and their nature is the same with that of others." As George Washington wrote at the time, "We have probably had too good an opinion of human nature in forming our confederacy." Virtue, he said, had, "in great degree taken its departure from our land."

As such, the answer to "What would the founders have thought?" depends on which founder you ask and from where in his life you take the answer. Woods makes clear that for many of these men, as enlightened as they were in many cases they died embittered with the direction the country had taken and isolated from the political mainstream, which now admitted far more democracy than they had ever intended. Ironically, they facilitated that change, with the result, Woods writes, "that they succeeded in preventing any duplication of themselves."

The heart of the book is four interconnected essays on Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, and Adams that demystify some of the controversies in the years after 1787. When talking about the early republic, particularly the first three presidential administrations (Washington, Adams, Jefferson), many historians do a poor job of explaining the political bifurcation of society. Compared to the Federalists, who (as described) only wanted to have a functional, modern state, the Republicans (for those who came in late, these are not the same Republicans as today. That's the party of Lincoln. These fellows are on the left wing of the early republic) always seemed shrill, paranoid dreamers. The reaction to Alexander Hamilton's debt assumption plan and his other economic policies always seem hysterical. There were constant references to Hamilton being a secret monarchist and of wanting to make a king out of George Washington. There were several problems with that formulation that must have been clear even at the time. Washington was too concerned with his legacy as a statesman to undo the revolution; had he desired to, the time to do so would have been before his army disbanded, not after; and as Washington put it in one draft of his first inaugural address, "the Divine Providence hath not seen fit, that my blood should be transmitted or my name perpetuated by the endearing though sometimes seducing channel of immediate offspring." In other words, he had, "no child for whom I could wish to make a provision - no family to build in greatness upon my country's ruins." There would no Washingtonian dynasty because the great military hero had spent his life shooting blanks.

Wood makes it clear that men like Jefferson didn't understand a great deal about banking, credit, and currency. "Nothing can produce nothing," Jefferson said of paper money. But The newness of capitalism was only a minor cause of the extreme revulsion created by Hamilton. When the Republicans spoke of Hamilton creating a monarchy, they didn't necessarily mean that the president would become a king in the literal sense of the term. What they meant was that by acquiring certain powers, the executive would accrue the tools and trappings of dictatorship.

There's more, much more, including a discussion of the events that led up to the disaster of the War of 1812, in which the Republicans were finally forced to build the very institutions they most feared.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

"It's just not a party without Joe Lieberman"

Too, too funny.

Connecticut for Lieberman. A party of one.

Spenglerian gloom

My god, the fear and loathing these people live with every day. How do they get out of their wetted bed each morning? Here's one of the more literate and grammatical of the offerings:

"Point of no return? 'It is hard to think of a time when a nation — and a whole civilization — has drifted more futilely toward a bigger catastrophe than that looming over the United States and western civilization today.' — Thomas Sowell"

Dr. Thompson used grapefruit, a large Gerber, and waves of Wild Turkey 101 to deal with his F and L. For these Islamophobes, I guess it's the relentless rage, hatred, and overdeveloped self-regard that assuages their conflicting states of powerlessness and entitlement.

Just like the Muslunazis they're so afraid of.

The Fall marketing season is upon us again

At some point, fomenting war every two years in advance of a Congressional election will begin to wear thin with voters, don't ya think?

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23 — Some senior Bush administration officials and top Republican lawmakers are voicing anger that American spy agencies have not issued more ominous warnings about the threats that they say Iran presents to the United States.

Some policy makers have accused intelligence agencies of playing down Iran’s role in Hezbollah’s recent attacks against Israel and overestimating the time it would take for Iran to build a nuclear weapon.

The complaints, expressed privately in recent weeks, surfaced in a Congressional report about Iran released Wednesday. They echo the tensions that divided the administration and the Central Intelligence Agency during the prelude to the war in Iraq.

The criticisms reflect the views of some officials inside the White House and the Pentagon who advocated going to war with Iraq and now are pressing for confronting Iran directly over its nuclear program and ties to terrorism, say officials with knowledge of the debate.

The dissonance is surfacing just as the intelligence agencies are overhauling their procedures to prevent a repeat of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate — the faulty assessment that in part set the United States on the path to war with Iraq.

The new report, from the House Intelligence Committee, led by Representative Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, portrayed Iran as a growing threat and criticized American spy agencies for cautious assessments about Iran’s weapons programs. “Intelligence community managers and analysts must provide their best analytical judgments about Iranian W.M.D. programs and not shy away from provocative conclusions or bury disagreements in consensus assessments,” the report said, using the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction like nuclear arms.

Some policy makers also said they were displeased that American spy agencies were playing down intelligence reports — including some from the Israeli government — of extensive contacts recently between Hezbollah and members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. “The people in the community are unwilling to make judgment calls and don’t know how to link anything together,” one senior United States official said.

“We’re not in a court of law,” he said. “When they say there is ‘no evidence,’ you have to ask them what they mean, what is the meaning of the term ‘evidence’?”

Of course, the master military strategist must weigh in.

The consensus of the intelligence agencies is that Iran is still years away from building a nuclear weapon. Such an assessment angers some in Washington, who say that it ignores the prospect that Iran could be aided by current nuclear powers like North Korea. “When the intelligence community says Iran is 5 to 10 years away from a nuclear weapon, I ask: ‘If North Korea were to ship them a nuke tomorrow, how close would they be then?” said Newt Gingrich, the former Republican speaker of the House of Representatives.

“The intelligence community is dedicated to predicting the least dangerous world possible,” he said.

Brilliant. If North Korea shipped "a nuke" to Switzerland, how close would they be then? Or Venezuala? Or Cuba?

What is so insane -- and transparent -- about all of this is, what is the end-game here? Our military is overstretched. "Allies," if we have any left, are not going to be persuaded by another Curveball or Colin Powell presentation. So, the GOP merely wants to ratchet up the rhetoric -- and global instability -- to help them make Dems look weak on defense against Iran.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"Could it be that you were born, Richardson, and not hatched as I'd suspected?"

Watching the highlights of preznit's performance during his command performance before the White House press corps this evening, Madame Cura turned to me at one point and said, "Oh my God, he's becoming E.B. Farnum."

Frustrated? Sometimes I'm frustrated. Rarely surprised. Sometimes I'm happy.

More thoughts on a beautiful baseball weekend

Alex Belth puts the weekend in perspective for Bomber fans.

But if the 2001 post season taught us anything it is that you can't always have everything you want, but, as the song goes, you can get what you need. The city--yes, even non-baseball fans followed the Yankees in the months following 9.11--needed a distraction, some theatrics and entertainment and the Yanks delivered just that. They gave the city everything it could have asked for save another victory parade down the canyon of heroes. Though it ended badly for the Yanks, the 2001 team will likely be remembered as fondly as any of the championship editions. We were reminded that baseball is just entertainment--and at times we desperately need that entertainment--and pales in comparison with the larger troubles of the world. The 2001 World Series also made for a kind of beautiful baseball justice. In the end, the Yankees, with all the karma and mystique and all that, were simply out-Yankee'd.

All of which I bring up because over the past several seasons, I've tried to appreciate things moment-by-moment, game-by-game, even more. I don't want to say that any given season is been horrible simply because the Yanks don't win a title. That's just too limiting, the easy way out. This five-game sweep does not guarentee a playoff spot for the Yanks, it does not necessarily spell curtains for the Sox. It doesn't look good for Boston, but stranger things have happened and there is plenty of time left. It might not portend to anything at all, and for the moment, that's just fine. It doesn't have to be anything more than it is--a rare, perfectly-contained success. Forget about Boston's misfortunes, think about what the Bombers have done. Still no Matsui or Sheff and for the time being, they aren't being missed. The Yankees really proved something to themselves, and I'm sure the rest of the leagaue is taking notice. This is the best that Yankee fans have felt about themselves vis a vis the rivalry with the Sox since Boston's historic playoff run in 2004. Lots more to come, but for today, there is a lot to be thankful for. Don't let it give you a swell head, but don't discount it entirely and let it pass you by, either.

They lost to the Mariners last night. That was kinda expected, but what was unexpected was how tough the Yankees played given that they had been so high a let down was to be expected following the long flight to Seattle. Meanwhile, the Crimson Hosed continue to smolder alongside the highway.

I'll stop now.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Inspired by Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio. Enjoy.

Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?

"The Connecticut for Lieberman Party." Arrogant. Wanker.

Oh, and this is rich.

"We are happy to have cleared this hurdle, so we can focus on bringing people together in Connecticut for a new politics of unity and purpose," said Dan Gerstein, Lieberman's campaign spokesman.

Meet Dan Gerstein, a paragon of unity and purpose, bringing people together.

Via FDL.

Lieberman joins the wingnuttery club

Oh my, Revoltin' Joe plays the WWIII card.

HARTFORD, Aug 22 — Suggesting that he sees parallels between the war in Iraq and the early struggle against fascism, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman said on Tuesday that the United States would create a dangerous world if it left Iraq too soon.

“Iraq has now become what everyone thinks it was before, another battlefield in this war with Islamic terrorists, and we’ve got to end it with a victory,” Mr. Lieberman said during an interview with the nationally syndicated conservative radio talk show host Glenn Beck on Tuesday.

In the 15-minute interview, Mr. Lieberman warned against the United States becoming isolationist, and he seemed to agree with Mr. Beck’s repeated statements suggesting that the war against Islamic terrorists represented the brink of an international war.

When Mr. Beck compared the current situation to the eve of World War II, saying that that world was in denial then as it is now, Mr. Lieberman said there were “very, very severe echoes of all that.”

“You know somebody said to me that Iraq, if you look back at it, is going to be like the Spanish Civil War, which was the harbinger of what was to come,” Mr. Lieberman said. “Also, as the Nazis began to move in Europe, we tried to convince ourselves we contained them — and we obviously didn’t, and then we paid the price.”

At one point in the interview, Mr. Beck asked pointedly, “Why is it there aren’t more politicians saying, ‘Guys, this is World War III. We are in deep trouble?’ ”

Mr. Lieberman responded by saying that he thought that both Republicans and Democrats treat “politics as if it was a sport in which you are on one team,” and that “the aim is for that team to win.”

TPM Cafe has more of his batshit craziness, including this gem:

BECK: I've been saying this before we even went into Iraq, that we're trying to change the face of the Middle East. The weapons of mass destruction was a nice side benefit. We were trying to go and pop the head of the snake in Iran. That's what we were trying to do. And I don't think anybody had the courage or could actually come out and say that with world politics the way they are.

LIEBERMAN: Well, you're right. And I think if I fault the administration for anything before the war -- 'cause I think we did the right thing in going in to overthrow Saddam -- it's that they oversold the WMD part of the argument....

To sum up: The major argument for invading Iraq, the imminent mushroom cloud, was "a nice side benefit" that was merely oversold; that is was a good thing to launch the country into spasms of chaos in order to overthrow Saddam; that if we leave said chaos now we risk an international war. And, as an added bonus, if he were to fault the administration for anything, it was overselling "the WMD part of the argument?"

Curious thought process, or lack thereof?

“Iraq has now become what everyone thinks it was before, another battlefield in this war with Islamic terrorists, and we’ve got to end it with a victory.”
Clap your hands and make a wish for VICTORY. He's a deeply serious man.

Contribute if you can.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Bipolar biipartisanship

I'm not sure what Bill Clinton was intending to do with his odd op-ed today. Was it a subtle effort to support Lieberman and his vaunted ability to reach across the aisle? I doubt it, but whatever it was, it was a rosy view of the history of his administration and its relationship with a hostile Congress. Ezra usefully reminds us.

Celebrating welfare reform's better-than-expected results, he generously concludes that "[r]egarding the politics of welfare reform, there is a great lesson to be learned, particularly in today’s hyper-partisan environment, where the Republican leadership forces bills through Congress without even a hint of bipartisanship. Simply put, welfare reform worked because we all worked together. The 1996 Welfare Act shows us how much we can achieve when both parties bring their best ideas to the negotiating table and focus on doing what is best for the country."

Wrong. Clinton vetoed the first two welfare reform bills the Republican Congress sent him for their unimaginable cruelty -- they were punitive programs, focused on punishing, not uplifting, poor blacks. The third bill sparked the most acrimonious and intense negotiations of the Clinton White House, with the president proving unable to decide his course till the eleventh hour and 59th minute. That's because the bill was never meant to be signed.

Take the entire walk down memory lane.

The nation's psyche

First it's Camus, now this. Pretty soon the guy will show up wearing a turtle neck.

“These are challenging times, and they’re difficult times, and they’re straining the psyche of our country,” Mr. Bush said in an hourlong news conference. “Nobody wants to turn on their TV on a daily basis and see havoc wrought by terrorists.”

No. How can the "psyche" of the country (does the country have a psyche?) be strained by a war in which only a small percentage of the population -- those with loved ones in the military -- is affected. A war in which no taxes are raised, no consumption is rationed, and no draft is threatened does not strain the psyche of the nation.

The "psyche" he's talking about are the collective fears of the 101st fighting keyboardists and the "prowar" crowd who are now nervously finding that "the country" no longer supports an open-ended commitment to taking sides in an Iraqi civil war. The psyche he's worried about is that of Bill Kristol and his like, who can now be seen on TV babbling on and on about the need for more indescriminate killing in Iraq.

The "country's" psyche is merely exhausted. Worn out by terror alerts that seem to strike every time preznit's approval rating nears the Mendoza line and a deep sense that our country's reputation and strength have been dealt a grave blow by a war that makes no sense, conducted by an administration that has none either.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Believe I'll dust my broom

The Yankees complete a five-game sweep of Boston in Boston.

Improbably, Nick Green, playing for Jeter, doubles, moves to third and scores the winning run on a wild pitch/passed ball. The game ends with David Ortiz -- he of the 1.027 OBS -- standing in the on-deck circle.


The hippies of the Spanish Civil War

Even by The Corner's standards, this moment of congnitive dissonance is truly stunning.

Take the hippies for example — by which I mean the Howard Dean left. These folks are the heirs of the European and American leftists who, during the Spanish Civil War, went to Spain to fight the rise of a fascist dictatorship. Their slogans ("Attack Hitler Now" and "Fascism Means War") are now long forgotten. These same people now think that fighting fascism is a terrible crime. But what do they really think? Do they regret their intervention in the Spanish Civil War — their finest hour? Do they think that fighting fascism was a mistake because war is bad even in the defense of life and liberty? Do they now think that dictatorships are o.k. as long as there is stability? (Michael Moore clearly thinks that, if little else). So ... [sic] a little dose of police state and loss of liberty is fine, so long as there is general security? Is that what they think?

Don't know who "they" are, but I'd venture to say the answer is, "No."

We have obviously come to a new stage of conservative denial. Calling the Spanish Civil War, which, even at the time, was known to have been co-opted and corrupted by Moscow -- the left's "finest hour" is a revelation. "Fighting fascism was a mistake..." who thinks that? That code -- opposition to the war in Iraq is "objectively pro-fascist" -- just doesn't work so well anymore.

Which is why idiots like Mario Loyola (is that a real name?) end up falling back on even more tired codes, like "hippies."

And I would be interested to know which member of the so-called Howard Dean left -- or even Michael Moore (whose brain Loyola is mysteriously able to read) himself -- is willing to accept a "little dose of police state and loss of liberty is fine, so long as there is general security." Quite the contrary, that's what the bedwetting keyboard kommandos tend to think, not those of us on "the left," who believe that we are dangerously close to giving up our civil liberties as an overreaction to Islamowhatever.

The post is typical of those remaining few who still think Bush is doing the right thing, he's just not executing it as well as they'd like. He cricizes Bush for not "communicating" well -- as though a more sophisticated argument (never mind "sophistication" is equated with John Kerry frenchedness) would hypnotize us into thinking those IEDs really are rose petals. But Loyola's argument that Bush should respond to his critics by repackaging their criticisms as being anti-freedom and saying, "See?" is exactly what Bush already does. Every fucking day.

A few thoughts on the Yankees/Red Sox series


It was only six weeks ago, with the Yankees down four games behind Boston, that the season's epitaph was being written.

I was not writing any such epitaphs, but there was a sense that as likeable and scrappy as the replacement Yankees were playing, they didn't have a lineup that was going to go too far in the post-season should they reach it.

No longer. Murderers' row. As for the replacements, well, they're doing pretty well too.

Giambi saw all fastballs, and his towering try for a grand slam expired on the warning track for a sacrifice fly. With the lead cut to 5-4, Papelbon walked Alex Rodriguez before fanning Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada.

He nearly finished off the Yankees in the ninth but blew the save when Jeter punched a two-seam fastball to right to score Melky Cabrera, who had led off with a double and reached third on a wild pitch.

“It wasn’t looking too good for us,” Jeter said, “but that’s why you play 27 outs – and sometimes a little extra.”

Jeter was behind in the count, 0-1, and said he did not want to fall behind further. His hit was the first thing Manager Joe Torre cited after the game.

“I knew I felt good coming into this series, but you could never imagine this was going to be the case, this was going to be the result,” Torre said. “Papelbon, basically, was unhittable. He made a good pitch to Jeter, and he was able to fight it off.

“This could have been the most incredible one of all,” Torre continued. “This ballclub just won’t be denied.”

An epic series. Too bad two of the best games ended well past the Vega's bedtime.

The secret bureaucracy

Forget that smaller government thing, the Bush administration seems to be creating an entirely new bureaucracy devoted solely to classifying otherwise public data.

During the Cold War, the United States devoted substantial manpower and money to counting Soviet missiles, experts said. At the same time, U.S. officials sometimes were quite open about the number of American missiles, using the data to illustrate the deterrent power of the U.S. nuclear arsenal and to make the case for more defense spending. Indeed, such numbers were routinely disclosed in annual reports to Capitol Hill by secretaries of defense dating to at least the 1960s, according to Burr.

In a 1971 appearance before the House Armed Services Committee, for instance, Defense Secretary Melvin R. Laird offered a chart showing, among other things, that the United States had 30 strategic bomber squadrons, 54 Titan intercontinental ballistic missiles and 1,000 Minuteman missiles.

Those numbers, made public on March 9, 1971, are redacted in a copy of the chart obtained by the archive's researchers in January as part of a declassified government history of the U.S. air and missile defense system, according to archive officials.

"It's yet another example of silly secrecy," said Thomas Blanton, the archive's director.

In another case, Burr cited two declassified copies of a 75-page memo on military policy issues that Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara sent to President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, one obtained from the National Archives in 1999 and the other from the Pentagon this year.

In the 2006 copy, Pentagon reviewers blacked out numbers that were left untouched in the earlier version, including the number of ballistic missile launchers and the number of heavy bombers the United States expected to have in 1965, 1967 and 1970. (Comparative numbers for the Soviet Union were left alone.)

Burr also compared two copies of a memo that Secretary of State Henry Kissinger wrote for President Gerald R. Ford for a 1974 National Security Council meeting on arms control negotiations.

One copy, obtained from the NSC through a Freedom of Information Act request in 1999, has visible references to "200 older B-52 bombers" and 240 Trident missiles, among other weapons data. In the second copy, released by the Gerald R. Ford Library in May 2006, such information is blacked out -- as is similar data for the Soviet Union.

Experts say there is no national security reason for the administration to keep such historical information under wraps -- especially when it has been publicly available for years.

Could it be that they're trying to resurrect the argument for a missile gap? Why not? Islamofascism is proving too wily and intangible an enemy; why not convince Americans of the need to build more bomb shelters? Fear never really strikes out.

"When the saints go marching in"

Small reminders of a tragedy.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Where's Ned? or, The unstoppable power of freedom!


And while I agree with Josh that the Lamont-Lieberman tilt is a bit of a sideshow, it is an important sideshow to get "the base" worked up for the main event. The Bob Casey campaign just ain't gonna do it. And like Atrios, I don't think this is a zero-sum game; frankly, I'm guessing there's lots of dough to go around this year.

Speaking of the sideshow (sorry, Time$elect)...

The hyperbole that has greeted the Lamont victory in some quarters is far more revealing than the victory itself. In 2006, the tired Rove strategy of equating any Democratic politician’s opposition to the Iraq war with cut-and-run defeatism in the war on terror looks desperate. The Republicans are protesting too much, methinks. A former Greenwich selectman like Mr. Lamont isn’t easily slimed as a reincarnation of Abbie Hoffman or an ally of Osama bin Laden. What Republicans really see in Mr. Lieberman’s loss is not a defeat in the war on terror but the specter of their own defeat. Mr. Lamont is but a passing embodiment of a fixed truth: most Americans think the war in Iraq was a mistake and want some plan for a measured withdrawal. That truth would prevail even had Mr. Lamont lost.

A similar panic can be found among the wave of pundits, some of them self-proclaimed liberals, who apoplectically fret that Mr. Lamont’s victory signals the hijacking of the Democratic Party by the far left (here represented by virulent bloggers) and a prospective replay of its electoral apocalypse of 1972. Whatever their political affiliation, almost all of these commentators suffer from the same syndrome: they supported the Iraq war and, with few exceptions (mainly at The Wall Street Journal and The Weekly Standard), are now embarrassed that they did. Desperate to assert their moral superiority after misjudging a major issue of our time, they loftily declare that anyone who shares Mr. Lamont’s pronounced opposition to the Iraq war is not really serious about the war against the jihadists who attacked us on 9/11.

That’s just another version of the Cheney-Lieberman argument, and it’s hogwash. Most of the 60 percent of Americans who oppose the war in Iraq also want to win the war against Al Qaeda and its metastasizing allies: that’s one major reason they don’t want America bogged down in Iraq. Mr. Lamont’s public statements put him in that camp as well, which is why those smearing him resort to the cheap trick of citing his leftist great-uncle (the socialist Corliss Lamont) while failing to mention that his father was a Republican who served in the Nixon administration. (Mr. Lieberman, ever bipartisan, has accused Mr. Lamont of being both a closet Republican and a radical.)

These commentators are no more adept at reading the long-term implications of the Connecticut primary than they were at seeing through blatant White House propaganda about Saddam’s mushroom clouds. Their generalizations about the blogosphere are overheated; the shrillest left-wing voices on the Internet are no more representative of the whole than those of the far right. This country remains a country of the center, and opposition to the war in Iraq is now the center and (if you listen to Chuck Hagel and George Will, among other non-neoconservatives) even the center right.

As the election campaign quickens, genuine nightmares may well usurp the last gasps of Rovian fear-based politics. It’s hard to ignore the tragic reality that American troops are caught in the cross-fire of a sectarian bloodbath escalating daily, that botched American policy has strengthened Iran and Hezbollah and undermined Israel, and that our Department of Homeland Security is as ill-equipped now to prevent explosives (liquid or otherwise) in cargo as it was on 9/11. For those who’ve presided over this debacle and must face the voters in November, this is far scarier stuff than a foiled terrorist cell, nasty bloggers and Ned Lamont combined.

Meanwhile, in the civil war on which Lieberman and Bush still vow to be "resolute," it's going regional.

SULAIMANIYA, Iraq, Aug. 19 — Artillery shells fired from Iran have landed in remote northern villages of Iraqi Kurdistan in the past four days and have killed at least two civilians and wounded four others, a senior Kurdish official said Saturday. Dozens of families have fled the region.

The shells have been aimed at an area around Qandil Mountain, known as a base for militant Kurdish opposition groups seeking independence from Turkey and Iran, said the official, Mustafa Sayed Qadir, a senior member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which governs the eastern half of Iraqi Kurdistan.

“A lot of homes have been damaged and livestock killed,” he said. A shepherd was wounded Saturday, and two women were among the three people wounded on previous days, he added.

The government of Iraq is aware of the shelling, which has taken place occasionally in recent months, but has not taken an official position, he said.

The president of Iraq, Jalal Talabani, is the head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. He has at times had a close relationship with Iran, especially when he sought Iranian support in the 1990’s against rival Kurdish leaders and Saddam Hussein. But Mr. Talabani is also aware of the Iranian government’s poor treatment of its Kurdish minority. Iranian officials could not be reached for comment Saturday evening.

Iran and Turkey have sizeable Kurdish populations that live in mountainous areas bordering Iraqi Kurdistan. In recent weeks, the two countries have stepped up warnings to Kurdish militant groups, perhaps fearing that they might have enough of a haven in Iraqi Kurdistan to inject new vigor into independence movements in Iran and Turkey. Iraqi Kurdistan is autonomous from the rest of Iraq and is home to most of this country’s five million Kurds.

It is unclear what weaponry or troops Iran has amassed along its border with Iraqi Kurdistan.

American officials have accused Iran of supporting Hezbollah in its recent battle against Israel. This month, the American ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said Iran had been pushing small Shiite militias to step up attacks against the American-led forces in retaliation for Israel’s assault on Lebanon.

An American military spokesman said some Shiite militias had been training in Iran and had received weapons from individuals or groups in that country. However, the spokesman, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, said the military had not found any evidence that the Iranian government was involved.

Never fear, the unstoppable power of freedom is here!

It is no coincidence that two nations that are building free societies in the heart of the Middle East, Lebanon and Iraq, are also the scenes of the most violent terrorist activity. We will defeat the terrorists by strengthening young democracies across the broader Middle East.

The way forward will be difficult, and it will require sacrifice and resolve. But America's security depends on liberty's advance in this troubled region, and we can be confident of the outcome because we know the unstoppable power of freedom.

And a pony.

Running out of Friedmans

Only Fred Barness still calls.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The company you keep...

...defines you:

All the major national Republican groups are withholding their fund-raising and organizational support for Mr. Schlesinger, creating a vacuum for Mr. Lieberman, as the centrist in the race, to fill.

“The right thing for people who believe the world is deeply dangerous is to re-elect Lieberman,” [Newt] Gingrich said. That is especially true, he said, because “the Republican Party’s own candidate does not have any possibility of winning.”


Senator Norm Coleman, Republican of Minnesota, said that from a political perspective, having Mr. Lamont triumph in Connecticut would be “good for Republicans because that’s not mainstream America.”

“So from that perspective, a Lamont victory shows the extreme nature of the Democratic Party,” said Mr. Coleman, who is not making a formal endorsement in the race. “On the other hand, Joe Lieberman is a good senator. And from America’s perspective, it would be a good thing for Joe Lieberman to be back in the Senate.”

Others cited Mr. Lieberman’s support of Mr. Bush’s foreign policy.

“For me, it’s an uncomplicated decision,” said William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard and a neoconservative who is helping Mr. Lieberman through an independent group called Vets for Freedom, which is helping to raise funds and providing strategic advice for the senator.

“Partisan Republicans may be ambivalent; they see a partisan advantage to Lamont,” he said. But, he said, “Foreign policy hawks and Bush doctrine believers and prowar types, we want Lieberman to win.”

The Lieberman campaign has largely downplayed the Republican support, aware that the Lamont campaign will try to use it to alienate Democrats and independents.

"Prowar types." Nice friends ya got there, Joe.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The martyrdom of Joe Lieberman

I was thinking the same thing when I read a report of Lamont responding to an attack from Lieberman from his vacation home in Maine.

Dude, vacation is for November if you want to win this thing.

[Links this morning to Marshall, Black, and Drum; in all the blog joints on all the internets, how cutting-edge is that?]

Cheese-eating surrender monkeys

Well, I guess they really are.

Let's summarize: Chirac personally rammed through the ceasefire resolution; insisted that it call for a UN force; did everything he could to imply that France would contribute several thousand combat troops; but in the end is only willing to stand up a 200-man military engineering company. Because Hezbollah might shoot back. And yet he still wants France to command the overall force.

Give. Me. A. Break.

Tales of occupation

Meanwhile, in that other war...

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 17 — A car bombing in the Sadr City district of Baghdad killed at least seven people and wounded more than 20 on Thursday morning, the authorities said.

The blast was the latest of several recent attacks in the district, a densely populated area controlled by the Mahdi Army, a Shiite militia loyal to the cleric Moktada al-Sadr. It signaled that full-scale sectarian fighting was continuing in the capital despite the extra American troops deployed there.


South of Baghdad, an American soldier was killed by a roadside bomb while on patrol, the United States military said in a statement.

West of Baghdad, in an area rife with Sunni Arab insurgents, the police said a man had been killed and two of his sons wounded when gunmen fired at him as he waited in line at a gas station. In a similar incident, gunmen killed one man and wounded two others near a gas station in Yarmuk.

A suicide bomber in the upscale Baghdad neighborhood of Mansur blew up his vehicle as a police patrol passed, wounding five people, including three policemen, an Interior Ministry official said. At a supermarket nearby, an unidentified body was found handcuffed and showing signs of torture.

About 25 miles south, the authorities found six bodies with multiple gunshot wounds in the Tigris River. The dead men had been blindfolded, with their hands bound.

Six more people were killed in shootings in and near Baquba, north of the capital, news agencies reported. Three of the dead — shot at busy market — were brothers who owned an agricultural equipment shop. Another victim died after gunmen stole his car.

The United States military announced that a soldier had died from “enemy action” on Wednesday in Anbar Province, where American troops regularly fight fierce battles with Sunni insurgents.

In a rural area of Babil Province, south of Baghdad, Iraqi Army soldiers discovered three kidnapped police officers in the trunk of a car after clashing with gunmen at a checkpoint, according to an American military statement. The freed officers said two other officers had been abducted and taken away in vehicles.

And the Iraqi Prime Minister is all but begging the U.S. to leave.

Even as the violence continued, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, speaking at a news conference with the visiting prime minister of Slovakia just a few hours after the Sadr City bombing, insisted that Iraqi forces were ready to take over security for most of the country.

Mr. Maliki insisted that Iraqi Army and police units “would be able to fill the vacuum if multinational forces withdrew,” echoing an assertion by President Jalal Talabani two weeks ago that Iraqis would be able to police their own people by the end of the year.

American officials have offered no equivalent time line for a major troop withdrawal. Indeed, they have had to move more troops into the capital as sectarian and insurgent attacks have increased.

Pentagon statistics show that the number of roadside bombs in Iraq rose to 2,625 exploded or found in July, the highest total of the war. And Iraqi government figures released this week said that nearly 3,500 civilians were killed in July — a death toll nearly double the count in January.

With talk like that, no wonder the Cheney administration has soured on that democracy thing.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Cheney leaves Israel a worse place than he found it

I'm not surprised, I guess, that Seymour horse's latest fascinating glimpse into the mindest of the "current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials" who try to divine the tea leaves of what the Cheney administration is thinking didn't get quite the attention as it seemed it would at first. Initially, I saw headlines on the internet saying that he'd written the White House had directed Israel's excellent Lebanon adventure. But when you read the story, it's not quite so definitive.

The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel's retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah's heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel's security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American pre-emptive attack to destroy Iran's nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.

Israeli military and intelligence experts I spoke to emphasized that the country's immediate security issues were reason enough to confront Hezbollah, regardless of what the Bush Administration wanted. Shabtai Shavit, a national-security adviser to the Knesset who headed the Mossad, Israel's foreign-intelligence service, from 1989 to 1996, told me, "We do what we think is best for us, and if it happens to meet America's requirements, that's just part of a relationship between two friends. Hezbollah is armed to the teeth and trained in the most advanced technology of guerrilla warfare. It was just a matter of time. We had to address it."

But it's certainly plausible. After all, other than the response to Katrina's devastation -- when Cheney was fishing in Montana leaving Bush to screw that one up all on his own -- is there another single disastrous cock up involving the destruction of America's reputation in world opinion of which Cheney isn't the author?

The Pentagon consultant told me that intelligence about Hezbollah and Iran is being mishandled by the White House the same way intelligence had been when, in 2002 and early 2003, the Administration was making the case that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. "The big complaint now in the intelligence community is that all of the important stuff is being sent directly to the top -- at the insistence of the White House -- and not being analyzed at all, or scarcely," he said. "It's an awful policy and violates all of the N.S.A.'s strictures, and if you complain about it you're out," he said. "Cheney had a strong hand in this.

The long-term Administration goal was to help set up a Sunni Arab coalition -- including countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt -- that would join the United States and Europe to pressure the ruling Shiite mullahs in Iran. "But the thought behind that plan was that Israel would defeat Hezbollah, not lose to it," the consultant with close ties to Israel said. Some officials in Cheney's office and at the N.S.C. had become convinced, on the basis of private talks, that those nations would moderate their public criticism of Israel and blame Hezbollah for creating the crisis that led to war. Although they did so at first, they shifted their position in the wake of public protests in their countries about the Israeli bombing. The White House was clearly disappointed when, late last month, Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, came to Washington and, at a meeting with Bush, called for the President to intervene immediately to end the war. The Washington Post reported that Washington had hoped to enlist moderate Arab states "in an effort to pressure Syria and Iran to rein in Hezbollah, but the Saudi move . . . seemed to cloud that initiative"

The surprising strength of Hezbollah's resistance, and its continuing ability to fire rockets into northern Israel in the face of the constant Israeli bombing, the Middle East expert told me, "is a massive setback for those in the White House who want to use force in Iran. And those who argue that the bombing will create internal dissent and revolt in Iran are also set back."

Nonetheless, some officers serving with the Joint Chiefs of Staff remain deeply concerned that the Administration will have a far more positive assessment of the air campaign than they should, the former senior intelligence official said. "There is no way that Rumsfeld and Cheney will draw the right conclusion about this," he said. "When the smoke clears, they'll say it was a success, and they'll draw reinforcement for their plan to attack Iran."

In the White House, especially in the Vice-President's office, many officials believe that the military campaign against Hezbollah is working and should be carried forward. At the same time, the government consultant said, some policymakers in the Administration have concluded that the cost of the bombing to Lebanese society is too high. "They are telling Israel that it's time to wind down the attacks on infrastructure."

But the story should get more attention because of the implications that the airstrikes intended to destroy Hezbollah's military capabilities were a dry run for Iran is absolutely terrifying. We are, in a word, screwed.

London bomb plot -- not so much?

Andrew Sullivan has been driven to shrill, unholy madness by the suspicious timing of the arrest of the London "bomb makers."

I'd be interested in the number of plotters who had passports. How could they even stage a dummy-run with no passports? And what bomb-making materials did they actually have? These seem like legitimate questions to me; the British authorities have produced no evidence so far. If the only evidence they have was from torturing someone in Pakistan, then they have nothing that can stand up in anything like a court. I wonder if this story is going to get more interesting. I wonder if Lieberman's defeat, the resilience of Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the emergence of a Hezbollah-style government in Iraq had any bearing on the decision by Bush and Blair to pre-empt the British police and order this alleged plot disabled. I wish I didn't find these questions popping into my head. But the alternative is to trust the Bush administration.

Been there. Done that. Learned my lesson.

Wow. Buy that boy a tin hat.

If it wasn't for bad luck, wouldn't have no luck at all

Could things get much worse for Floyd Landis and his family?


Joe Biden, champion of the middle class.

DES MOINES, Aug. 16 — Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, a likely Democratic presidential candidate in 2008, delivered a 15-minute, blistering attack to warm applause from Democrats and union organizers here on Wednesday. But Mr. Biden’s main target was not Republicans in Washington, or even his prospective presidential rivals.

It was Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer.

Among Democrats, Mr. Biden is not alone. Across Iowa this week and across much of the country this month, Democratic leaders have found a new rallying cry that many of them say could prove powerful in the midterm elections and into 2008: denouncing Wal-Mart for what they say are substandard wages and health care benefits.

Six Democratic presidential contenders have appeared at rallies like the one Mr. Biden headlined, along with some Democratic candidates for Congress in some of the toughest-fought races in the country.

“My problem with Wal-Mart is that I don’t see any indication that they care about the fate of middle-class people,” Mr. Biden said, standing on the sweltering rooftop of the State Historical Society building here. “They talk about paying them $10 an hour. That’s true. How can you live a middle-class life on that?”

The focus on Wal-Mart is part of a broader strategy of addressing what Democrats say is general economic anxiety and a growing sense that economic gains of recent years have not benefited the middle class or the working poor.

It would have been nice if Biden (D., Credit Card Companies) had felt such a strong urge to protect the middle class and working poor last year.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Good judgment

I've been worried that we were losing some Nedrenaline as he vacationed in Maine, but it looks like he's back on the hustings.

Good judgment is an essential part of good governance. But we're bogged down in Iraq, and hamstrung in the war against terror, by leaders who lacked judgment, historical perspective, openness to other cultures and plain old common sense. We offer something different.

But in the final analysis, the results of this election say less about me, and more about the people of Connecticut. They turned out in record numbers; they spoke every day with a simple eloquence and urgency about the country we love. They oppose the war and the fiscal nightmare crafted by President Bush and his allies. But their vote, finally, was one based on pragmatism and reality, on optimism and hope. And it is to these ideals and values that we plan to address my campaign in the months until November.

The whole thing's worth a read. Focusing on Lieberman's loss of judgment as he makes clear he's to the hawkish right of Dick Cheney is a great focal point for the campaign.

John Kerry has some words for ol' Joe, as do other leaders in the party.

And yes, Dear Reader, I realize linking to Josh Marshall and Duncan Black is hardly providing you with the fresh, the obscure, the rarely seen alleyways of the Internets, but it's been a tough day in a tougher week. And they've been approved by Kommander Kos, I think.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Everybody's a winner!


WASHINGTON, Aug. 14 — President Bush on Monday defended his handling of the war between Israel and Hezbollah, declaring that Hezbollah had been the loser in the monthlong fight and warning Syria and Iran against resupplying the Lebanese militia.

Mr. Bush spoke as he and his advisers sought to portray the cease-fire deal that was established under a United Nations Security Council resolution as an affirmation of American foreign policy.

“It took a while to get the resolution done,” Mr. Bush said at the State Department. “But most objective observers would give the United States credit for helping to lead the effort to get a resolution that addressed the root cause of the problem.”


Hezbollah supporters passed out leaflets throughout Lebanon, especially on the main highway used by refugees returning to the south of the country, congratulating the nation and the terror group on their "big victory" over Israel.

The leaflets, as reported by the AP, read, "Congratulations to you on the big victory, with the support of Allah, the holy warriors and your patience."

Travelers on the southbound highway were seen flashing "V" for victory. One woman told reporters she was very thankful to Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, who "from the first day told us he would return us to our homes, and now he has fulfilled his promise."


General Halutz, the chief of staff, said he hoped Israel would be out of Lebanon in 10 days. “It is not by chance that the Hezbollah is honoring the cease-fire, just as we are honoring it, since it paid a direct price in human lives and the destruction of its infrastructure, in its long-range missile ability and in its status within Lebanon and the world,” he told Israeli Radio.

[In fact, looks like General Halutz really was a winner in this deal.]


In their comments today, both the Iranian and Syrian leaders were highly critical of the United States. Mr. Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, said Hezbollah had thwarted American plans to create a new Middle East dominated by “the United States, Britain and Zionists,” who should “compensate Lebanon for the damage.” He said that Iran was ready to help the Lebanese with reconstruction aid.

Mr. Ahmadinejad told a large crowd in Ardabil that “on one side, it’s corrupt powers with modern bombs and planes, and on the other side is a group of pious youth relying on God.” He did not mention their supply of modern rockets and antitank weapons, most of them supplied by Iran.

It's like T-ball. Everybody gets to hit and reach base.

So, who are the losers in this game of declaring victory?

"This farrago of caricature and non sequitur"

George Will has certainly joined the unholy order of the shrill.

The "new Middle East," the "birth pangs" of which we supposedly are witnessing, reflects the region's oldest tradition, the tribalism that preceded nations. The faux and disintegrating nation of Iraq, from which the middle class, the hope of stability, is fleeing, has experienced in these five weeks many more violent deaths than have occurred in Lebanon and Israel. U.S. Gen. George Casey says 60 percent of Iraqis recently killed are victims of Shiite death squads. Some are associated with the Shiite-controlled Interior Ministry, which resembles a terrorist organization.

The London plot against civil aviation confirmed a theme of an illuminating new book, Lawrence Wright's "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11." The theme is that better law enforcement, which probably could have prevented Sept. 11, is central to combating terrorism. F-16s are not useful tools against terrorism that issues from places such as Hamburg (where Mohamed Atta lived before dying in the North Tower of the World Trade Center) and High Wycombe, England.

Cooperation between Pakistani and British law enforcement (the British draw upon useful experience combating IRA terrorism) has validated John Kerry's belief (as paraphrased by the New York Times Magazine of Oct. 10, 2004) that "many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror." In a candidates' debate in South Carolina (Jan. 29, 2004), Kerry said that although the war on terror will be "occasionally military," it is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world."

Immediately after the London plot was disrupted, a "senior administration official," insisting on anonymity for his or her splenetic words, denied the obvious, that Kerry had a point. The official told The Weekly Standard:

"The idea that the jihadists would all be peaceful, warm, lovable, God-fearing people if it weren't for U.S. policies strikes me as not a valid idea. [Democrats] do not have the understanding or the commitment to take on these forces. It's like John Kerry. The law enforcement approach doesn't work."

This farrago of caricature and non sequitur makes the administration seem eager to repel all but the delusional. But perhaps such rhetoric reflects the intellectual contortions required to sustain the illusion that the war in Iraq is central to the war on terrorism, and that the war, unlike "the law enforcement approach," does "work."

It's been rather sad watching Joseph Lieberman join the ranks of "caricature and non sequitur" in response to the howling masses' dismissal of him, here in "land of steady habits." When you've ventured well to the neo-right of George Will, you are no longer a Democrat. Or an Independent.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Visionaries among us

Shorter Michael Gerson: Americans deserve honesty and competency when taken to war, but if all they get instead are lies and incompetence, well, Americans should shut up and like it.

Now that's a new "Contract for America."

Feckless and cynical

I know, I know, Dear Reader. You only come here for the free shrillness.

Just two days after 9/11, I learned from Congressional staffers that Republicans on Capitol Hill were already exploiting the atrocity, trying to use it to push through tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy. I wrote about the subject the next day, warning that “politicians who wrap themselves in the flag while relentlessly pursuing their usual partisan agenda are not true patriots.”

The response from readers was furious — fury not at the politicians but at me, for suggesting that such an outrage was even possible. “How can I say that to my young son?” demanded one angry correspondent.

I wonder what he says to his son these days.

We now know that from the very beginning, the Bush administration and its allies in Congress saw the terrorist threat not as a problem to be solved, but as a political opportunity to be exploited. The story of the latest terror plot makes the administration’s fecklessness and cynicism on terrorism clearer than ever.

Fecklessness: the administration has always pinched pennies when it comes to actually defending America against terrorist attacks. Now we learn that terrorism experts have known about the threat of liquid explosives for years, but that the Bush administration did nothing about that threat until now, and tried to divert funds from programs that might have helped protect us. “As the British terror plot was unfolding,” reports The Associated Press, “the Bush administration quietly tried to take away $6 million that was supposed to be spent this year developing new explosives detection technology.”

Cynicism: Republicans have consistently portrayed their opponents as weak on terrorism, if not actually in sympathy with the terrorists. Remember the 2002 TV ad in which Senator Max Cleland of Georgia was pictured with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein? Now we have Dick Cheney suggesting that voters in the Democratic primary in Connecticut were lending aid and comfort to “Al Qaeda types.” There they go again.

More fecklessness, and maybe more cynicism, too: NBC reports that there was a dispute between the British and the Americans over when to make arrests in the latest plot. Since the alleged plotters weren’t ready to go — they hadn’t purchased airline tickets, and some didn’t even have passports yet — British officials wanted to watch and wait, hoping to gather more evidence. But according to NBC, the Americans insisted on early arrests.

Suspicions that the Bush administration might have had political motives in wanting the arrests made prematurely are fed by memories of events two years ago: the Department of Homeland Security declared a terror alert just after the Democratic National Convention, shifting the spotlight away from John Kerry — and, according to Pakistani intelligence officials, blowing the cover of a mole inside Al Qaeda.

But whether or not there was something fishy about the timing of the latest terror announcement, there’s the question of whether the administration’s scare tactics will work. If current polls are any indication, Republicans are on the verge of losing control of at least one house of Congress. And “on every issue other than terrorism and homeland security,” says Newsweek about its latest poll, “the Dems win.” Can a last-minute effort to make a big splash on terror stave off electoral disaster?

Many political analysts think it will. But even on terrorism, and even after the latest news, polls give Republicans at best a slight advantage. And Democrats are finally doing what they should have done long ago: calling foul on the administration’s attempt to take partisan advantage of the terrorist threat.

It was significant both that President Bush felt obliged to defend himself against that accusation in his Saturday radio address, and that his standard defense — attacking a straw man by declaring that “there should be no disagreement about the dangers we face” — came off sounding so weak.

Above all, many Americans now understand the extent to which Mr. Bush abused the trust the nation placed in him after 9/11. Americans no longer believe that he is someone who will keep them safe, as many did even in 2004; the pathetic response to Hurricane Katrina and the disaster in Iraq have seen to that.

All Mr. Bush and his party can do at this point is demonize their opposition. And my guess is that the public won’t go for it, that Americans are fed up with leadership that has nothing to hope for but fear itself.

© 2006 New York Times Company

Yep, fanning the flames of fear doesn't have the effect it once had.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Chien-Ming Wang

An uncharacteristically rough day on the Yankee Stadium mound this afternoon, but Tyler Kepner had a nice profile of the Taiwanese national hero this morning, including this odd fact.

Wang started playing baseball in fourth grade, as a pitcher, first baseman and outfielder. He attended high school in Taipei, on the north side of the island of Taiwan. His home, Tainan, is in the south. It was through baseball that he learned an important part of his personal story.

“We were going out to a competition and needed our personal documents,” Wang said, explaining that meant the names, relationships and birthdates of family members. “When I got my documents, I learned who my biological parents were. My parents didn’t tell me.”

Wang found out then that his biological father was the man he knew as his uncle, Ping-Yin Wang. Wang’s parents had no children of their own and offered to raise him. They later had a daughter, Hsiu-Wen Wang, who is two years younger.

It must have been a startling revelation, but Wang betrayed no emotion when talking about it.

“I didn’t feel anything in particular,” he said. “I felt it was all right, like I had two fathers.”

If anything, Wang said, he became even more serious about succeeding as a pitcher.

“I felt I had to work even harder in order to help two sets of parents,” he said, adding later, “Most of my money I send home to let my parents manage. The rest I use for living expenses in America.”

I believe it. The guy is unflappable. Whether he's dealing with a rare rough first inning, including a home run from Figgins (a player who, if I was managing him, I would fine everytime he hits a fly ball), or learning that his father is his uncle (or is that vice-versa?), the guy conveys nothing.


"Hm," indeed.

I wonder what the rush was?

If the British, when they finish searching the properties of the suspects, find little or nothing to convict them on it should get interesting.

Politics aside, interesting article in today's Times looking at the different methods of the British and U.S. investigative agencies.

Although details of the British investigation remain secret, Bush administration officials say Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, MI5, was for at least several months aware of a plot to set off explosions on airliners flying to the United States from Britain, as well as the identity of the people who would carry it out.

British officials suggested that the arrests were held off to gather as much information as possible about the plot and the reach of the network behind it. Although it is not clear how close the plotters were to acting, or how capable they were of carrying out the attacks, intelligence and law enforcement officials have described the planning as well advanced.

The Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have suggested in the past that they would never allow a terrorist plot discovered here to advance to its final stages, for fear that it could not be stopped in time.

In June, the F.B.I. arrested seven people in Florida on charges of plotting attacks on American landmarks, including the Sears Tower in Chicago, with investigators openly acknowledging that the suspects, described as Al Qaeda sympathizers, had only the most preliminary discussions about an attack.

“Our philosophy is that we try to identify plots in the earliest stages possible because we don’t know what we don’t know about a terrorism plot,” Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said at the time. “Once we have sufficient information to move forward with a prosecution, that’s what we do.”

The differences in counterterrorism strategy reflect an important distinction between the legal systems of the United States and Britain and their definitions of civil liberties, with MI5 and British police agencies given far greater authority in general than their American counterparts to conduct domestic surveillance and detain terrorism suspects.

Britain’s newly revised terrorism laws permit the detention of suspects for 28 days without charge. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government had been pressing for 90 days, but Parliament blocked the proposal. In the United States, suspects must be brought before a judge as soon as possible, which courts have interpreted to mean within 48 hours. Law enforcement officials have detained some terrorism suspects designated material witnesses for far longer. (The United States has also taken into custody overseas several hundred people suspected of terrorist activity and detained them at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as enemy combatants.)

The trouble with the American approach is we end up "breaking up consipiracies" that consist of nothing more than a few nutcases looking to score their "al Qaeda uniforms." That trivializes the law enforcement challenge and the "wolf!" crying inures the public to real threats. And if a real threat is found it alerts any networks that may exist that they've been infiltrated.

Trouble with the British approach, of course, is sometimes bombs go off in the tubes.

All that said, I am confident that U.S. law enforcement approaches the challenge with a great deal more sophistication than the Rumsfeld/Franks approach to the war in Iraq. I don't think the FBI is directing their operations based on slides entitled "pressure to achieve end-state over time." Sheesh. Via Drum.

Don't send me no more letters...

NYT readers respond to Brooks's latest idiocy.

To the Editor:

Re “Party No. 3” (column, Aug. 10):

David Brooks has outdone himself in his spin on the Lieberman loss in Connecticut. It is ludicrous to argue that Senators John McCain and Joseph I. Lieberman represent the voices of reason in America when they have been such outspoken advocates of the disastrous Iraq war.

If there is to be a third party formed, it will be by someone bold enough to lead the opponents of that war, with 60 percent of the people already opposed to it. Now there’s the base for a new party!

Kenneth N. Davis Jr.
Stamford, Conn., Aug. 10, 2006
The writer was an assistant secretary of commerce/international in the Nixon administration.

To the Editor:

David Brooks castigates the “ideologues on the left” as being “perpetually two years behind the national mood.”

In fact, regarding the fiasco in Iraq and the disastrously incompetent Bush administration, the national mood is finally, three-plus years late, catching up to this so-called ideological left.

Stephen Stept
Montclair, N.J., Aug. 10, 2006

To the Editor:

While I agree with David Brooks’s account of the undeclared third party in this country, the problem we “progressives” face is an uneducated public blinded by talk radio, and the likes of Karl Rove who see no in-betweens and name-call and badger the other side.

The mistake John Kerry made in not fighting being called a flip-flopper was not pointing out the alternative. I’d much rather have a president who keeps an open mind and is able to change his mind and see different sides of the same issue, than a president who refuses to alter course.

Standing firm in one’s beliefs is a weakness of our current president and one that should have been exploited. As humans, we learn from our mistakes and grow. This president remains weak because he cannot see past the end of his nose.

I think David Brooks is right on. But we must fight extremes with extremes. We can all make nice once we’re in office.

Karen George
West Allis, Wis., Aug. 10, 2006

To the Editor:

David Brooks’s “McCain-Lieberman” party of moderates is a myth. There is no such party.

On Iraq, both John McCain and Joseph I. Lieberman are even more hawkish than President Bush. Most Americans agree with Ned Lamont’s position.

In Congress, when the chips are down, “moderate” Republicans always vote with their radical leadership. That leaves no center for Democrats to make deals with. When Mr. Lieberman compromises, he legitimates the hard right’s legislation without winning any concessions for his side.

Nor is Mr. Brooks’s party a party of civility. It is not civil of Mr. Lieberman to echo Karl Rove in calling his own party weak on national security because it opposes reckless and counterproductive wars. It is not civil of Mr. Brooks to put a gentlemanly and genuinely moderate Greenwich businessman like Ned Lamont on a par with a corrupt extremist like Tom DeLay.

Robert W. Gordon
New Haven, Aug. 10, 2006

Couldn't of said it better myself.

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