Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Night Tripper




Bejebus, nothing kills a blogger's ego quite like this.

But Boylan is not always so high-minded. Sometimes he'll write to a blog simply to make himself heard. In April, Boylan described an anti-American march in Baghdad that was organized by Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr as "progress," as it proved that Iraqis now enjoyed "the right to assemble." A fellow who calls himself "skank" and blogs at criticized Boylan's characterization: "Makes you want to scream, doesn't it?" skank wrote. Boylan popped into the comments thread to defend himself: "I guess you would rather have them shooting at us [as opposed to] marching saying that they want us to leave so that they can be united, which is what they were chanting. The sooner they unite and figure this out, the better for everyone."

"Skank?" At ""

Col. Steven Boylan has the time and energy to scour the hateamerica, islamolovin' blogosphere and enters the friggin' comments thread at something called

Hey, Colonel, what the fuck am I, chopped liver? The Vegacura challenges you to comment...either the real you or whoever is sneaking into the Green Zone, logging on to your laptop, and impersonating you, I don't really care. Just need the traffic.

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Presidential Obama


It's nice to see the Times doing a little fact checking on Giuliani's prostate cancer/U.S. has the bestest healthcare in the world claims, but "disputed" is not a synonym for "bullshit."

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Great Americans, RIP



It seems like every day, Senator Dodd says something to impress me.


"Negative events never help"

Karen Hughes, who helped sell a dim-witted reformed alcoholic fundy nut to (a minority of) U.S. voters, found it more difficult to sell his policies to the rest of the world. She's quitting.


Dr. Tarr

Is it me, or does it seem, lately, we're living here?


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The parade

Oh. Joy.

The caravan of duck boats has stopped on Tremont Street and the Dropkick Murphys are belting out more songs from their flatbed truck as Papelbon jumps around with his broom guitar and screams to the excited crowd.


"And that's just as good as money"

I don't think I've ever read a story about baseball that is both completely cynical and engages in some of the most clichéd and hoary hackery about the sport as this from Tim Marchmann. But you gotta love this.

In leaving as he has, Rodriguez has also made himself larger than Joe Torre's retirement, the ascension of a new generation of Steinbrenners (both of whom, bizarrely, go by diminutives of the same name), and the replacement of Torre. Everyone always felt that no matter how many MVP awards he won and no matter how many times he carried a team that's gone months without reliable pitching, he had still never done anything to be as outsize as Reggie Jackson or Mark Messier or whoever. He has now. Derek Jeter may have four rings, but he never responded to press reports that he was about to be offered a $150 million contract by essentially severing ties with a team. If money is how you show respect in sports — and it is — A-Rod has more respect than any jewelry can ever earn.

First of all "jewelry" can't "earn" respect. Winning four rings has earned Derek Jeter enough "respect," that despite a lack of range in the field and really good, but not dominant numbers on offense (in this age of the power-hitting shortstop), he will enter the Hall on the first ballot. Oh, and by the way, Mr. November made $21.7 million last year.

Secondly, Rodriguez didn't turn down an offer from the Yankees because they never had the opportunity to offer it (Boras' strategery being, no doubt, that he didn't want a public offer from the Yankees which, in turning down such a huge number, could have scared away other teams). But never mind. In what universe does turning down $150 million from one of the very few teams with the resources and willingness to offer it in the first place (remember, that's $30 million/per year) earn someone "respect?" Amazement, maybe. Derision, surely. But not really what I'd call "respect."

Look, nowhere has Alex Rodriguez been more defended and lauded than on this humble blog (well, maybe, Ken Tremendous can make a claim to that), and we'll have to wait for the ghostwritten memoirs to learn his real motivation for leaving Yankee Stadium -- confines that have been decidedly more friendly for him recently. But his timing was crass, going along with his agent and not even entertaining a proposal from the Yankees was unnecessary, and his reasons for leaving are bullshit. And what he's done more than anything -- even for those of us who enjoyed watching the best player in the game for the last four years and will miss the 150 runs he scored last year -- is cement his reputation for not being able to stand the glare of New York for very long. And for a level of narcissism rare even among professional athletes.

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Grammar -- mere leftwing framing?

Teh stupid just won't go away.

Clearly we are reaching the end times when the right-wing is asserting that punctuation and hyperlinks have a left-wing bias.


The conscience of a liberal

Just go read Krugman. Bookmark it.

Funny to read that Ezra got carded, too.

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"One terrible choice"

No, I'm not so sure Norm thinks bombing Iran really is so terrible. And Josh is right; his condescending tone is curdled and bitter. But this idea that the bloviating rhetoric of Iran's president places him in the ranks of Mao, of Stalin, of fucking Adolph Hitler is truly disturbing. First, it is as ahistorical as an argument could possibly be. Iran doesn't have any where near the capabilities of Communist China, the Soviet Union, or the Third Reich, and Iran has never shown any interest in invading its neighbors. Nor has it locked up or exterminated millions of its citizens. But, worse -- and this is the intention of Podhoretz and his ilk -- it effectively cuts off any debate through its sheer absurdity and fear-mongering.

Ironically, Iran doesn't have the capability to start World War Umpteen (or whatever Podhoretz is up to). But George W. Bush and the United States do.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Obama panders -- to the villagers

Ok, any thoughts of supporting Obama in this primary are officially over.

Increasingly, Obama is talking about Clinton’s “character.” Granted, that’s an assessment by Bacon, not a quote from Obama. But when you say that someone is ducking, hedging, dodging and spinning a serious issue, you are, of course, critiquing her character. And that is the way your claims will be reported—especially since the candidate in question has the last name of Clinton.

Of course, Clinton really hasn’t been ducking or hedging or dodging or spinning this non-issue issue. In a recent Washington Post news report, she made a perfectly accurate statement about Social Security—a statement that is massively more accurate than the embarrassing blather Obama offered at the September 26 Dem debate. At that debate, the plutocrat tribune, Timothy Russert, pushed this non-issue back onto the table. Quite correctly, here’s what Clinton told the Post’s Anne Kornblut in the wake of that familiar performance:
KORNBLUT (10/10/07): Clinton offered insights into the governing priorities she would bring to the White House, speaking cautiously about extricating the nation from Iraq and urgently about health-care reform. She also said she will take no position on how to fix Social Security and made it clear she does not regard it as a front-burner issue.

"I do not believe it is in a crisis," she said of the retirement program.
“She will take no position” is, of course, Kornblut’s top-heavy spin. “I do not believe it is in a crisis” was Clinton’s actual statement—and her statement is perfectly accurate. Indeed, we would have though that all Democrats knew that—until that embarrassing debate. At that session, the plutocrat Russert continued trying to push this non-issue center stage, and Obama and Edwards embarrassed themselves, even reciting the tired old plutocrat line: College kids don’t even think they’ll ever get Social Security! Good God! Plutocrat “think tanks” have pimped that line for decades now, attempting to create a false sense of crisis. And there were Candidates Obama and Edwards, reciting their bogus cant for them (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/28/07).

Again, Clinton is right on this silly non-issue, as Democrats all seemed to know in 2005. But so what? Now, we read that Obama is going to push the issue as a referendum on Clinton’s bad character! And make no mistake: A plutocrat press corps will praise Obama for both parts of this approach. They’ll praise him for attacking Clinton’s character—a long-time, favorite focus of theirs. And they’ll praise him for pimping the “problem” of Social Security, as plutocrat think tanks have so long done—as they themselves did, without mercy, in their two-year-long War Against Gore.

Jesus H. Christ. Somerby's right of course. I recently had the opportunity to listen to Paul Krugman and meet him briefly in the book signing line (nice thing about NY Times events, the audience is so fucking old it's easy to be first in the book buying/signing line afterwards). He waxed eloquently on the 2005 victory that killed Bush's plan to privatize Social Security. I told Krugman that I thought he was being too sanguine and that I was sure the "social security is in a crisis" crowds weren't going away and we should be vigilant.

If Democrats are now using this phony "issue" to attack other Democrats, that fight is going to return sooner than even I'd expected.

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The long, sorry history of U.S. domestic surveillance

Studs Terkel, who has long observed the efforts of our government to keep tabs on its domestic "enemies," on the latest efforts to do just that.

Then things changed. In 1975, the hearings led by Senator Frank Church of Idaho revealed the scope of government surveillance of private citizens and lawful organizations. As Americans saw the damage, they reached a consensus that this unrestrained surveillance had a corrosive impact on us all.

In 1978, with broad public support, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which placed national security investigations, including wiretapping, under a system of warrants approved by a special court. The law was not perfect, but as a result of its enactment and a series of subsequent federal laws, a generation of Americans has come to adulthood protected by a legal structure and a social compact making clear that government will not engage in unbridled, dragnet seizure of electronic communications.

The Bush administration, however, tore apart that carefully devised legal structure and social compact. To make matters worse, after its intrusive programs were exposed, the White House and the Senate Intelligence Committee proposed a bill that legitimized blanket wiretapping without individual warrants. The legislation directly conflicts with the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, requiring the government to obtain a warrant before reading the e-mail messages or listening to the telephone calls of its citizens, and to state with particularity where it intends to search and what it expects to find.

Compounding these wrongs, Congress is moving in a haphazard fashion to provide a “get out of jail free card” to the telephone companies that violated the rights of their subscribers. Some in Congress argue that this law-breaking is forgivable because it was done to help the government in a time of crisis. But it’s impossible for Congress to know the motivations of these companies or to know how the government will use the private information it received from them.

And it is not as though the telecommunications companies did not know that their actions were illegal. Judge Vaughn Walker of federal district court in San Francisco, appointed by President George H. W. Bush, noted that in an opinion in one of the immunity provision lawsuits the “very action in question has previously been held unlawful.”

Read, as they say, the whole, indignant thing.

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Boras -- too clever by half

A great profile of super-agent Scott Boras in the New Yorker. The story underscores the fact that A-Rod needs Boras' counseling for his self-confidence (Barry Bonds and Gary Sheffield, two guys who don't lack self-assurance, dumped Boras as their agent, respectively, acrimoniously). But it also features this gem, which illustrates Boras' short-term perspective that can cost his clients millions later on.

Until this year, baseball’s draft was merely a very long conference call, by the end of which more than one in every hundred eligible amateur players in the country had been selected—deceived into thinking that stardom was soon to follow. (The draft lasts fifty rounds, compared with seven in the N.F.L. and two in the N.B.A.) It was instituted in 1965, and remained largely unaffected by the steady advances of the Players Association over the next two decades. (Union membership is restricted to major-league players, who have consistently made concessions on the amateur end in exchange for increased freedom for veterans.) Boras first got involved in 1983, while still moonlighting as a baseball counsellor in the employ of Rooks, Pitts & Poust. That summer, he approached a tall pitcher named Tim Belcher, who had just finished his junior year at Mount Vernon Nazarene College, in Ohio, and had been selected No. 1 over all by the Minnesota Twins. College juniors were seen as highly exploitable, because of the quirks of N.C.A.A. eligibility rules. They had no bargaining leverage. The Twins initially offered Belcher eighty thousand dollars to sign, which was twenty thousand dollars less than Rick Monday had received in 1965, as the first pick in the first draft.

Boras noticed that Mount Vernon Nazarene was not in fact a member of the N.C.A.A., and belonged instead to a much smaller organization, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, whose rules on eligibility were slightly different. He advised Belcher to plan to return to Ohio.

“The scouting director for the Twins was a very abrupt man,” Boras recalled in his office, referring to George Brophy, who died a few years ago. “He went public, saying, ‘It’s disgusting that these kids are being represented. They’re draft picks.’ All these antiquated thought processes. I kept on saying, ‘He’s a young man in a negotiation against a system, which requires him to sign a professional sports contract, which is governed by a collective-bargaining agreement. Why wouldn’t he need a lawyer?’ I said, ‘Why do your teams have lawyers who draft all these things up? You’ve unilaterally imposed all these rules.’ He sat there, looked at me, and goes, ‘I’m not a lawyer. I’m just talking to you about baseball. That’s not how we do things.’ I said, ‘Well, we’re changing. We’re changing for the betterment of the game. The great athletes aren’t going to come to baseball if you keep the bonuses at this level, because some owner will pay for that talent. It just happens to be in a different sport. Baseball players play football and basketball, too.’ ”

Boras contends that higher signing bonuses in those sports, where the college game is itself nearly professional, and where there is no illusion that prospective draftees are anything other than commodities, are partly to blame for the decline in African-American baseball players. (Blacks now account for only eight per cent of major leaguers, down from more than twenty-five per cent when Boras was still playing.) Belcher, however, was strictly a baseball player, and white. Brophy initially alleged that he had sacrificed his amateur status by hiring an agent; Boras countered that he was merely a legal adviser, and had signed no formal agreement. Belcher held out, returned to school, and reëntered the supplemental draft the next January, where he was taken by the Yankees. They paid him a hundred and twenty thousand dollars.

Think about that. Belcher sat out a year and got the extra 40 grand (from the Yankees, of course). But in return for that $40K, he likely became a free agent one year later than he may have had he taken the Twins' offer. By the late 80s, early 90s, when Belcher would have been eligible, that probably meant he lost a year in which he would have made ten, if not 100 times more than that extra signing money.

He took a similar tack with Boston's Jason Varitek and JD Drew.

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Liberally stupid

David Greenberg stands back in amazement while the media describes Giuliani as "a liberal Republican."

When Bush ran for president, his slippery slogan of "compassionate conservatism" convinced many Washington journalists that he was a moderate. When he then pushed a right-wing agenda, they were stunned. They hadn't looked hard enough at his record. Likewise, if Giuliani becomes president, he will probably emerge as an unabashed social conservative -- as seen in his judicial appointments, his efforts to aid religious schools, the free hand he gives the government in fighting crime and terrorism, and an all-around authoritarian style. Let's not get fooled again.

Yes, read it for a brief history of Giuliani's "liberal" term as mayor of New York.

He's Bush/Cheney. On steroids.


Blue Monday, indeed

Pinstripe blue, that is. Yes, I'll admit it, I'm not in a good mood this morning.

For all his talk of wanting to stay in New York, A-Rod and Boras didn't even give the Yankees a chance to keep the third baseman. That's fine, but a simple, "I think I can do better on the open market," would suffice.

Of course, I understand Boras' game. Scott needs bidders for Rodriguez, and if he negotiated with the Yankees for ten days, he runs the risk of scaring suitors away by rejecting a big offer. With the way the World Series played out, he also ran the risk of losing Boston as a bidder as they might decided to re-sign Lowell quickly. Now Boston gets to make a decision between having Mike for his decline or A-Rod setting records for eight years. They could even do both and move Alex back to shortstop!

And Boston is the key. If the Red Sox enter the bidding, it will be difficult for the Yankees to stay out. That could make the price for Alex very high. Of course, it could all backfire and both Boston and New York stay out. With the Mets having no need for Alex, what other team is going to spend the big bucks? Are Dodgers going to talk to Scott after Drew leaving? The Cubs ownership is up in the air. The Cardinals don't seem that eager to spend money now that they have a new park and a World Championship.

Hey, money talks, and Rodriguez has every right to pursue the biggest, longest contract he can. Still, the Yankees -- with the $10 million per year they're getting from the Rangers -- surely are the team that can offer the most money. But Boras clearly thinks John Henry's competitive juices will be flowing and Theo may be thinking Boston can cement the AL East for years to come with A-Rod at third or short. Still, the venom showered on Rodriguez up in Boston makes it hard for me to think he'll go there.

Oh, who am I kidding? We root for the uni. Red Sox Nation is no different.

And what's more, this may be Rodriguez saying that he thinks Boston is the best road to a championship ring next year.

He may damned well be right.

Now we'll see if the Steinbrenner boys will make good on their promise not to enter the free agency market for him.


Satisfied Mind

Porter Wagoner, RIP


Horseshoes and handgrenades

Via T-Bogg, Malkin aims at Soros, hits a Bush Pioneer.


Blue Monday, "Don't Keep Me Wonderin'" edition

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Puppies and a rainbow

Help Blackwater choose it's new logo.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Four down, six to go

I get letters from Chris Dodd, whom I'm very proud to call my Senator:

Four down, six to go.

If you haven't yet, please take a moment to call and thank Senators Kennedy, Feingold, Biden, and Cardin.

All four have indicated their opposition within the Judiciary Committee to any FISA bill that contains retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.

But that's only 40% of where we need to be to stop the provision in the Judiciary Committee.

Take a moment to make one last phone call before the weekend and ask the remaining members of the committee where they stand, and thank those who have already taken the right position.


Chain mail

This is both fascinating and absolutely terrifying.

Aside from specious allegations about his military service, many of the e-mails attacking Kerry either emphasized his wealth (photos of each of his five residences) or relayed putative firsthand accounts of the senator acting like an imperious prick. Hal Cranmer, a former Air Force pilot, wrote a widely circulated account of his experience flying Kerry around Vietnam and Cambodia in 1991 in which Kerry scarfs pizza meant for the crew, forces the pilots to sit for an hour in an un-air-conditioned plane and boasts that he "never sail[s] on anything less than 135 feet." (Since it's a matter of historical record that Kerry has sailed boats smaller than 135 feet, this quote seems highly dubious.)

When I tracked down Cranmer during his lunch break at the aerospace manufacturing firm he works for in Minnesota, I was surprised to hear him ruefully recall his brush with Internet fame. "It gave me a real lesson. My wife says one of the reasons she married me is that I don't talk badly about people," he said with a laugh. "I really didn't mean to do that here."

In spring 2004, as John Kerry began to emerge as the probable nominee, Cranmer e-mailed his account to the libertarian website, where readers were sharing their personal experiences about meeting Kerry. "I said, OK, I'll put in my two cents.... I thought maybe I'd get one or two e-mails about it and it would just disappear." That was not to be. "All of a sudden I was getting fifty e-mails a day. I had an annual meeting with the Air Force pilots, and a friend said, 'Tell your story about John Kerry,' and everyone in the room was going, 'I got that e-mail! That was you?' I had neighbors walking in and saying, 'Hey, I got an e-mail about you.' I was trying to keep this low-key, not try to ruin an election here. I was just relating an experience that happened to me. People drew all kinds of crazy conclusions from it other than I had a bad experience with him." Added Cranmer, "Maybe he's the nicest guy in the world, and he was in a bad mood going into Vietnam.... I really didn't mean this to be as huge as it was."

Cranmer told me he was a libertarian and a big fan of Ron Paul. "I voted for Bush in 2000 and have regretted it ever since. I didn't even vote in 2004." He now wishes he'd kept his impressions to himself. Some anecdote of casual thoughtlessness "shouldn't be what defines the presidency."

But of course, that's exactly the kind of thing that did define the last presidential election. Cranmer's e-mail, and those of a similar ilk, were perfectly in line with the broader narrative of the Bush campaign, in which the major knock on Kerry was that he was an elitist, disingenuous jerk--a "bad man," in Lynne Cheney's phrasing. Like the other popular e-mails that circulated in 2004, Cranmer's includes not a single substantive criticism of Kerry's platform or policy preferences, but the unflattering picture it offers has an effect that's immediate and visceral. It lingers in the back of one's head.

The latest of course, is the rumor that's made the rounds for months, despite being debunked: that Obama is a Muslim and attended a "Wahabi madrasa when he was six." Christopher Hayes tracks down the creep who started the chain.


Giuliani's popularity

Drum on Giuliani. It's not just the "sheen of 9/11..."

Actually, I suspect it's Rudy's other campaign plank that really explains his popularity. Sure, 9/11 is a big part of his persona, but his crime reduction record in New York City might be an even bigger one. Think about it: in the eye of the public, he's literally the only presidential candidate who's actually accomplished anything concrete. He made New York City livable. It doesn't matter whether this is true; it only matters that this is what people think. And no other candidate has anything close to it. All they can say is that they sponsored a bill or survived Vietnam or ran a company. Big deal. But Rudy, regardless of how he did it, can say that he actually governed a political entity and made it better. Considering the low opinion most people have of politicians, that's a helluva powerful asset.

I'd go one better. It's how Giuliani is perceived to have made NYC "livable (funny, I lived there pre and during Giuliani, and found the pre quite, even)." Giuliani is perceived by the GOP base as having kicked some dark skinned ass and conquered the savages running amok through the five boroughs, something he's not so subtly telling them he'll do with Iran and the Islamowhatevers.


Influencing Iranian voters

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

The band Amy Winehouse "stole."


Thursday, October 25, 2007

And here I thought it was because the victims were white

T-Bogg, making sense:

So, please stop. It's not cultural. It's just a different situation in a different climate.



Murray Chass writes this morning.

In his interview with Costas, Torre expanded his views of the incentives.

“I don’t think incentives are necessary,” he said. “I’ve never needed to be motivated. Plus, in my contract, I get a million-dollar bonus if we do win the World Series. So that’s always been there. And, you know, as far as needing incentive to go ahead and win a ballgame, that I thought, I used the term insulting.”

Torre referred to a $1 million bonus for winning the World Series. He indeed had that in his last two contracts, which covered the last six years of his employment. In the 2002-4 contract, he was able to earn $200,000 for winning the division series, $300,000 for winning the league championship series and $500,000 for winning the World Series.

The 2005-7 contract eliminated the division series bonus but provided $400,000 for winning the league championship series and $600,000 for winning the World Series, the bonuses still adding to a maximum $1 million.

Obviously Torre did not object to those bonuses, did not reject them as insulting. He signed those contracts and readily accepted the incentives they offered. Even though the Yankees didn’t win the World Series in those six years, Torre earned $700,000 of a possible $3 million in the first contract but nothing in the second because the Yankees lost the division series each year.

Interesting. He goes on to write that back before the 2007 season Torre had talked about a one-year deal with Steve Swindall, before Swindall was disappeared from Yankeeland. Fair points.

But isn't it interesting that the same columnist who couldn't be bothered to learn what VORP is and means (a highly useful stat for evaluating player's offensive contribution), took the time to investigate Torre's past contracts at the commissioner's office. Oh, but wait, he didn't really do the investigation.

With the benefit of details obtained from information on file in the commissioner’s office, we now know that Torre either suffered a lapse of memory Friday or was counting on his questioners not knowing about some of his contracts with the Yankees, the last two in particular.

I wonder
how those documents were "obtained."

Clearly, the Yankees are fighting back in the PR war with Joe Torre. But Randy Levine really should move on -- despite rants such as this Yankee fans have, as we debate Mattingly v Girardi and wait for A-Rod to opt out -- because every baseball fan in the world knows that Torre knew he couldn't manage a team for which management didn't want him managing.

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Sickle celled

I don't really know what to say.

An uneasy sense of dèjá vu swept over Florida last week after an all-white jury acquitted seven juvenile boot camp guards and a nurse charged with aggravated manslaughter in the death of a black teen last year.

The shocking verdict came down despite a half hour of videotape that showed the guards hitting and kicking the 14-year-old, Martin Lee Anderson, and holding their hands over his mouth for as long as five minutes at a time, while the nurse stood by and watched. The jury seemed persuaded by the first and widely discredited autopsy report that blamed the boy’s death on a sickle-cell condition, even though a second autopsy ordered by the state had ruled Anderson died from suffocation (the Justice Department has since announced it will investigate whether federal civil rights violations charges should be brought in the case). “It’s wrong!” Anderson’s mother, Gina Jones, shouted as she stormed out of the Panama City courtroom after the verdict was read. The Anderson decision was reminiscent of another bewildering verdict five years ago, when three Florida state prison guards charged with stomping 36-year-old inmate Frank Valdes to death in his cell in 1999 were acquitted — even though the guards’ boot prints were found all over his back.

The crime Martin Anderson committed? He stole his grandmother’s car. As The Bias Committee points out, it’s hard to imagine a 14 year old middle-class white kid being sent to juvenile boot camp for that. Middle-class white kids get second chances, not boot camp.

It will be interesting to see how a Justice Dept. inquiry plays out; I'm sure whatever Bush appointee takes charge will aggressively pursue the Bush appointees running Florida's corrections.


"You mow for show, you rake for dough"

I have no idea what that means, but via David Pinto, the BoHerald exposes the secret of Fenway's grounds crew.

Mellor has learned to deal with the challenges of the New England weather, and he isn’t content to show off a verdant lawn.

It has to tell a story, too.

Mapping an outline with stakes and ropes, Mellor draws his plant pictures using 6-foot and 21-inch mowers to create a contrast between the dark and light sides of the blades of grass.

A No. 9 for Ted Williams’ memorial. A Red Sox “B.” Checkerboards and spirals and stars.


NRCC Survey

I get mail:

But remember, we need BOTH your financial support, as well as your immediate survey participation, to fund our campaign to take back the House and stop the Nancy Pelosi Democrats from destroying our common sense Republican principles and values.
Here's some of the "common sense" questions in the survey:

Do you support the House Democrats' "slow-bleed" strategy to choke-off" funding for our troops in Iraq, leading to their withdrawal and a perception of American defeat?

Well, when you put it like that...yes.

Do voters in Connecticut's Xth District agree with the Nancy Pelosi Democrat [sic, of course] Majority's decision to impose massive tax hikes on the American people?

Damn you, Democrat Majority!

Do you support the Democrats' efforts to give federal government bureaucrats complete control of your health care costs and choices?

Well, I guess we know now that Republicronies' plans for health care is...Not.

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Interesting news day for Giuliani. The Times finally covers the batshit craziness of his advisers, and we also learn that the Yankees' "first fan" has no trouble rooting for the Sox in the World Serious.

By way of explanation, Mr. Giuliani couched his shift in loyalty as support for the American League. (“I’m an American League fan and I go with the American League team,” he told reporters — not coincidentally — in the primary state and Boston neighbor of New Hampshire.) “I thought he was loyal to New York,” said Kebrae H. Scott, 30, a maintenance worker who wore a Yankees cap as he was heading to his home in the Ebbets Fields Apartments in Brooklyn near where Mr. Giuliani grew up.

I am a Yankee fan. I know a lot of Yankee fans. Yes, we all prefer the AL's Designated Hitter to watching pitchers flail at the plate, but I don't know any who are rooting for the Red Sox. Ever. Or, to put it in Red Sox-ese, evah.

Of course, none of us are competing in a primary in the New Hampshire region of Red Sox Nation.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Bay of fools

I know, I know, we liburols just luuuuuurve our Fidel, so my opinion may be skewed. But didn't we try "regime change" in that lovely Caribbean country once before, with predictable results.

And I don't get the timing. Is there an election in Florida coming up?

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Michael "Heckuva Job" Brown declares himself "available for interviews" with respect to the Southern California fires.



Hank Steinbrenner, fresh from refusing to negotiate with Joe Torre because he'd failed to get the Yankees to the World Series:

“I think the most important thing is, whoever we hire, give him a chance. Because he’s not getting the ’96 Yankees. He’s getting a younger team, and for the most part, it’s a transition period, so give him a little while.”

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Giuliani hearts child molesters

Giuliani's character judgment is legendary. Bernie Kerik. To a lesser extent, Randy Levine. But he's determined to make the world forget about those two with "Monsignor" Alan Placa.

Presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani hired a Catholic priest to work in his consulting firm months after the priest was accused of sexually molesting two former students and an altar boy and told by the church to stop performing his priestly duties.

The priest, Monsignor Alan Placa, a longtime friend of Giuliani and the priest who officiated at his second wedding to Donna Hanover, continues to work at Giuliani Partners in New York, to the outrage of some of his accusers and victims' groups, which have begun to protest at Giuliani campaign events.

"This man did unjust things, and he's being protected and employed and taken care of. It's not a good thing," said one of the accusers, Richard Tollner, who says Placa molested him repeatedly when he was a student at a Long Island, N.Y. Catholic boys high school in 1975.

And, now that you mention it, he does sound a lot like Bernie Kerik.

According to New York property records, Placa also co-owns, with another priest, a waterfront apartment in lower Manhattan in Battery Park City, valued at more than $500,000.
Except Bernie's not gay, as far as we can tell.


Product placement-palooza

The theme of today's Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour, sponsored by Cadillac, is...Cadillac.

I should be outraged.



Quite a family business, encouraging war 24/7.

The new appointment puts three generations of Podhoretzes at the magazine, with Norman holding the title of editor at large and his grandson Sam Munson as online editor. Of course, the ancestral streak is not exactly surprising. The Podhoretz, Kagan (Fred, Donald, Robert and Kimberly) and Kristol clans have dominated the movement for 40 years.

“There’s a family business aspect to the neoconservative enterprise,” said Mr. Bellow, whose book “In Praise of Nepotism” was published in 2003. Such kinship ties are part of “a very broad phenomenon across American society; it’s not really right to single out neoconservatives,” he said. “They just won’t shut up about it.”


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Thank God for G. W. Bush

No, really. They truly believe this.

Funny, comments have been disabled. The intellectual discourse would have been stimulating.

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Batshit for me

War games

While we are busy condemning on Kurdish guerrilla group for making cross-border raids into Turkey, are we using another Kurdish guerrilla group as a proxy force attacking Iranian troops?

BAGHDAD, Oct. 22 — Deadly raids into Turkey by Kurdish militants holed up in northern Iraq are the focus of urgent diplomacy, with Turkey threatening invasion of Iraq and the United States begging for restraint while expressing solidarity with Turkish anger.

Yet out of the public eye, a chillingly similar battle has been under way on the Iraqi border with Iran. Kurdish guerrillas ambush and kill Iranian forces and retreat to their hide-outs in Iraq. The Americans offer Iran little sympathy. Tehran even says Washington aids the Iranian guerrillas, a charge the United States denies. True or not, that conflict, like the Turkish one, has explosive potential.

Salih Shevger, an Iranian Kurdish guerrilla, was interviewed recently as he lay flat on a slab of rock atop a 10,000-foot mountain on the Iran-Iraq border, with binoculars pressed to his face as he kept watch on Iranian military outposts perched on peaks about four miles away.

He and his comrades recounted how they ambushed an Iranian patrol between the bases a few days before, killing three soldiers and capturing another. “They were sitting and talking on top of a hill, and we approached, hiding ourselves, and fired on them from two sides,” said Bayram Gabar, who commanded the raid, and who like all the fighters here uses a nom de guerre.

The guerrillas from the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, or P.J.A.K., have been waging a deadly insurgency in Iran and they are an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, known as the P.K.K., the Kurdish guerrillas who fight Turkey.

Like the P.K.K., the Iranian Kurds control much of the craggy, boulder-strewn frontier and routinely ambush patrols on the other side. But while the Americans call the P.K.K. terrorists, guerrilla commanders say P.J.A.K. has had “direct or indirect discussions” with American officials. They would not divulge any details of the discussions or the level of the officials involved, but they noted that the group’s leader, Rahman Haj-Ahmadi, visited Washington last summer.

Biryar Gabar, one of 11 members of the group’s leadership, said there had been “normal dialogue” with American officials, declining specifics. One of his bodyguards said officials of the group met with Americans in Kirkuk last year.

Iranian officials have accused the United States of supplying the fighters and using them in a proxy war, though those assertions were denied by the American military. “The consensus is that U.S. forces are not working with or advising the P.J.A.K.,” said an American military spokesman in Baghdad, Cmdr. Scott Rye of the Navy.

What the hell does "consensus" mean? Either we are or we're not. I must say, though, they would be an interesting ally.

Because the P.K.K. is on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations and aiding such groups is illegal, the United States is eager to avoid any hint of cooperation with the P.J.A.K.

Guerrilla leaders said the Americans classify the P.K.K. as a terrorist group because it is fighting Turkey, an important American ally, while the P.J.A.K. is not labeled as such because it is fighting Iran.

In fact, the two groups appear to a large extent to be one and the same, and share the same goal: fighting campaigns to win new autonomy and rights for Kurds in Iran and Turkey. They share leadership, logistics and allegiance to Abdullah Ocalan, the P.K.K. leader imprisoned in Turkey.

While most Kurds are Sunni Muslims, the guerrillas reject Islamic fundamentalism. Instead, they trace their roots to a Marxist past. They still espouse what they call “scientific socialism” and promote women’s rights.

Curious, the bit about their Marxist past, particularly in light of Dick Cheney's avowed admiration for the Soviet Union.

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Book list crimes

In Texas, apparently it's a crime to put challenging texts on the high school reading list.

A popular high school English teacher in Tuscola in west-central Texas has been placed on paid leave and faces possible criminal charges after a student’s parents complained to the police that a class reading list contained a book about a murderer who has sex with his victims’ bodies. The teacher, Kaleb Tierce, 25, is being investigated for distributing harmful material to a minor after the student selected and read “Child of God” by the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Cormac McCarthy. Mr. Tierce, who has not been charged with any wrongdoing, declined to comment.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Pre-New Deal

I saw Paul Krugman at an event Friday night in which he spent a lot of time talking about the long-running effort to undo social safety nets created not just by LBJ, but by FDR. Rick Perlstein riffs on a similar melody.

We are progressives. When you use this word, think of what it means. We want progress. We believe in progress.

We know that the vexed record of humanity, and of our own United States of America, proves that progress is possible. That a nation with too many rattletrap tenements and dust-bowl farms without electricity presided over by an elite class of idle and arrogant rich became, with the New Deal, with the unions, with the exertions of a generation of progressive policymakers, a radically more equal nation. That a nation in which worker safety was laughed at by the arrogant rich who exploited those workers expanded its vision of what it meant to be a nation of laws, and extended federal protections to those whose work was most dangerous and despised.

And now they've taken us back. Taken us back to the nineteen twenties.

It's often said that Democrats have no new ideas. That's true, in the sense that progressives ideas have, for the most part, been achieved (civil rights, Medicare, women's rights, gay rights, etc.). Meanwhile, the new ideas conservatives bring to the table are nothing more than the pulling back of those achievements.

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Fish tales

At least no one was shot in the face.

Jennifer Loven writes for the Associated Press: "President Bush spent a crisp fall Saturday gingerly balancing a tiny screech owl on a gloved hand at a wildlife refuge and casting for rockfish on the Chesapeake Bay. . . .

"It was all part of an effort to burnish his conservation credentials while announcing new initiatives that he said would protect migrating birds and two fish species, red drum and striped bass, prized by anglers."

Bush went fishing with Chris and Melissa Fischer, two of the hosts of " Offshore Adventures" on ESPN.

Loven writes: "As Bush mimed catching a big fish for the cameras, Melissa Fischer reeled one in from the bay's choppy waters." Bush caught nothing.

Here is the text of Bush's remarks. Here is the executive order he signed.

John Heilprin reported for the Associated Press that state officials said the order "has little to no practical effect and likely will inflame tensions between recreational anglers and commercial fishermen, by siding with the sports fishermen who don't fish for a living."


Happy Islamofascist awareness week!

David Horowitz's latest effort to garner attention to himself.


Go Rockies

Yep, the game was over right there.

Lofton was at second base with one out in the top of the seventh inning for the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park, the Boston Red Sox clinging to a 3-2 lead and closer Jonathan Papelbon warming up in the Boston bullpen. Franklin Gutierrez drilled a pitch from Hideki Okajima over third base and down the line. It clanged off the box-seat facing and ricocheted toward center field.

Lofton was rounding third when Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez was still 10 feet away from the ball. Ramirez, who had thrown out Lofton at second base earlier in the game -- though Lofton should have been ruled safe on that play -- later admitted he had no thought of throwing home to try to get Lofton. The tying run was as good as scored.

But Cleveland third-base coach Joel Skinner threw up the stop sign. Lofton, who at 40 is still very fast, obeyed. Then he did something else you don't see every day: a double take. He looked from Skinner back at the ball, then quickly back to Skinner. As in: What!?!

When, exactly, did the Red Sox become the Yankees?


Repositioning Blackwater

In attempting to soften its image, Blackwater loses the cross-hairs in the logo.

The rifle-scope crosshairs so obvious in the old Blackwater logo have been reduced to a set of horizontal elipses that bracket, but no longer enclose, the paw print, which has also changed to more closely resemble an actual bear-paw imprint. The original Blackwater logo had thick white serif lettering draped over the crosshairs on a menacing black field. The new logo separates the image and the letters, which now appear in buttoned-down sans-serif black and slightly italicized on a white field.

Though the red elipses in the new logo retain the horizontal crosshairs, the overall look is far less “kick your butt” and much more “quarterly report,” some branding experts said. The new logo, which began to appear on some Blackwater material in late July, may also speak volumes about the company’s desire to begin its second decade on a more anodyne note.

American marketing, where the deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians can be forgotten with a change of corporate identity.


Blue Monday, Otis Redding edition


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Max McGee

My favorite Green Bay Packer has died after falling from his roof while cleaning leaves out of the gutters.

McGee was the third wide receiver on Vince Lombardi's great Green Bay Packers, who won three NFL titles between 1961-65, then the first two Super Bowls.

He was one of the heroes of the first AFL-NFL championship, as it was then called, a 35-10 win over Kansas City. He caught two touchdown passes from Bart Starr after spending the night "on the town" and getting just a couple hours of sleep.

Early in the game, starter Boyd Dowler injured his shoulder and McGee heard his name called.

"I was just sitting there, dozing in the sun, and Lombardi yelled 'McGee get the hell in there!' " McGee told Lee Remmel, the team's historian and a local newspaper reporter in those days.

So at age 33, after a season in which he had just four receptions, McGee had a game that made him a part of NFL history. Otherwise, he might have been a footnote, although he did have a productive 12-season career: 345 receptions with an 18.2-yard average per catch and 50 touchdowns.


What to do about the invevitable

If I were working at the cable news, I'd start working on those "War With Iran" graphics.

But his most serious comments were aimed squarely at Iran, which he accused of being “the world’s most active sponsor of state terrorism.” Experts at the conference said the vice president’s language, while stopping short of threatening military action, seemed designed to prepare Americans for what the administration might do if Iran did not cooperate. “The language on Iran is quite significant,” said Dennis Ross, who served as a Middle East envoy for both the first President Bush and in the Clinton administration, and is now a scholar at The Washington Institute. Referring to Mr. Cheney’s remark about “serious consequences,” Mr. Ross said, adding that it was a strong statement and that “does have implications.”

It's such a crazy plan, it might just fail.

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Six months

It is telling that this Navy lawyer, Matthew Diaz, convicted of four of five counts, received a sentence of only six months.

As the end of his tour approached, Diaz’s frustration was growing. The prisoner-abuse files that he and others had compiled now filled two large binders. One statement, from a senior F.B.I. official, suggested that the military authorities had ignored complaints from bureau agents about harsh interrogation techniques. Another recounted a detainee’s claim that a guard had thrown him to the ground and rubbed his face violently in the dirt after the prisoner spat at him. Diaz found the report credible — the file included a photograph of the prisoner’s mangled face — and was surprised that it was not included among the allegations that the military made public.

In the statements they would later make to F.B.I. investigators, Diaz’s colleagues at Guantánamo generally described him as professional, affable and laid-back. Some of them were more impressed by him than others. But few of his fellow officers had much sense of Diaz the iconoclast: the lawyer who disdained the continuing war in Iraq, who quietly avoided social gatherings with more gung-ho government lawyers and who sometimes broke away from the caste society of the military to hang out with Jamaican and Filipino laborers who worked on the base.

Diaz was careful not to challenge the way things were done, he told me, and discreet about his views on Guantánamo. “I pretty much kept my thoughts to myself,” he said. “I didn’t broadcast them.” To the wider military community, he could even sound a little gung-ho too. As his time at Guantánamo was winding down, his colleagues suggested to the public-affairs office that Diaz would make a good subject for a profile in the task-force newsletter, Behind the Wire. The resulting article, “Fifteen Minutes of Fame with Lt. Cmdr. Matt Diaz,” told of a Latino kid who “left life on the street at 17,” worked his way up the ranks and made good as a Navy lawyer.

“What do you like about Guantánamo?” the interviewer asked him.

“I like the mission,” he said. “For the most part, everybody is trying to do the right thing, and I like being part of that and contributing.”

One afternoon in July, as we sat at a picnic table in the sweltering visiting area of the Charleston brig, I asked if he really believed what he had said. He said he did, describing soldiers and officers who went out of their way to act decently toward the men who were being held as terrorists. “They were usually just too far down the chain to make any kind of difference,” Diaz said.

Diaz’s own inability to make a difference grated on him. Pentagon investigators who were preparing a report on Guantánamo abuses seemed to ignore some of the cases he helped assemble, he said. Despite the first visits to prisoners by civilian lawyers, little information about their treatment seemed to be getting out. On Nov. 8, 2004, a federal district judge shut down the military commissions, ruling that they violated international law. But the case then moved to a conservative appeals court, where a reversal was widely expected. “I felt like nothing was ever going to change,” Diaz told me.

On Dec. 21, the Pentagon copied him on a letter from Barbara Olshansky at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Nearly six months after the Supreme Court decision in Rasul, she was still asking the government for the names and nationalities of the detainees so that lawyers could file habeas petitions on their behalf. In a draft response, the administration wrote that the detainees had other ways to obtain representation.

While other military lawyers felt that the detention camp was finally starting to open up to outsiders, Diaz was appalled by what he saw as the government’s obstinacy. “No matter what the courts said, they would just keep stonewalling,” he said. “I knew that if I didn’t do anything, nobody else was going to.” Working late one night, he logged onto a secure internal database to see what lists he could find. It was easy; he could bring up the names 100 at a time. Diaz said later that he did not ponder how the information might be received in New York. “I thought they would either file a petition on behalf of those detainees or maybe contact their families,” he told me.

As he lay in bed at night, Diaz said, he thought about the risk he would be taking if he went ahead. Over the previous year, the military had prosecuted or disciplined several servicemen for taking classified materials off the island. Security had been tightened. The Guantánamo counterintelligence officer slept in the next bedroom of the town house Diaz shared with several midlevel officers. The career for which he had worked so hard would be on the line. He was within striking distance of a promotion to commander, or of retiring with an officer’s pension.

Diaz would later say he didn’t know the information he mailed off was classified. The lists he printed out were not marked “Secret,” although officials later acknowledged that they should have been. His lawyers emphasized that he had access to much more sensitive, top-secret information than anything he sent. Diaz also said he hadn’t known the meaning of all the alphanumeric codes that followed the names. But one of those codes identified the prisoners who had given information to Guantánamo interrogators. Military intelligence officials described that code — not the names — as the significant leak.

On May 18 this year, after a weeklong trial, a panel of seven naval officers convicted Diaz on four of five counts, including one of disclosing secret defense information that “could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation.” By then, nearly two and a half years after Diaz had left Guantánamo, the politics of detention policy had shifted. The detainees’ names had been released under the Freedom of Information Act. The Supreme Court had ruled against the administration once more, upholding the minimum standards of the Geneva Conventions and derailing the military commissions. The president declared that he would like to close Guantánamo as soon as possible.

Diaz did not testify during the trial. But in a statement to the jurors before he was sentenced, he sounded overcome by remorse. “I didn’t want to make waves and jeopardize my career,” he told the jurors, who could have sent him to prison for 13 years. “I am disgraced. I am ashamed. I let the Navy down.” After three hours of further deliberation, the jurors issued a notably light sentence of six months’ imprisonment and dismissal from the military.

I'm guessing the jurors approved of his actions but had no choice but to convict.

Friday, October 19, 2007

An insult

It's been a hard day to be a Yankees fan today.

Torre, in is news conference and in a subsequent interview, was blunt in saying the Yankees offer was bullshit. He was set up to turn them down, or if he didn't, his future with the Yankees would always be in doubt. He said that he would have preferred to have been told right away they didn't want him back instead of trying to embarrass him publicly by trying to make it seem he needs additional motivation to win the World Series.

Funny, I'm pretty sure he won four in his first five years managing the Yankees.

Blowing off the Yankees earned Torre even more admiration, and the way he handled the media today -- with respect, humor...yes, class -- was in keeping with his long, successful tenure in New York.

We were spoiled by Joe Torre. We're going to find that out in a big way when the Yankees lose seven in a row in May and Torre's calm demeanor and confidence in his guys isn't in the dugout.

I know, the Torre talk must get boring to people who don't follow baseball or don't much care for the Yankees (though most fans of other teams I've heard from are pretty thrilled that the Yankees may have fucked up hugely), and certainly for those who wanted Torre to go in the first place. But the number of reporters -- including non-sportswriters -- who showed up at his news conference indicated the impact Torre has had in the New York region.

It's not just the end of the Torre Era. It's also the end of the George Steinbrenner Era. If George had been fully in charge, he would not have handled it like this. He may very well have acted impetuously and fired Torre two weeks ago. But he wouldn't have acted so deceitfully as Randy Levine and Hal/Hank Steinbrenner have. It was a sad day listening to Joe today. I'm afraid it may only get worse as we watch George fade away.

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Mr. Torre

Torre, as usual, comes out of this with his dignity intact, while the Yankees organization just looks rudderless. Madam Cura and I agree that there was no way Torre would have accepted a cut in pay and a one year deal. And an incentive-laden contract wouldn't have appealed to him. That's just not the way he operates. His teams have won because they win, not because they get an additional million if they make the playoffs.

Don't be surprised, though, if after the Yankees look around the field of possible replacements, they come back to Joe.

But right now, the Yankees don't have a manager, a third baseman, a catcher, or a closer. It's going to be an interesting off-season. It's going to be an interesting 2008 season.

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Eating their own?

I don't get this.

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Electric Flag

Drinking Wine


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Torre watch

I've refrained from too much Torre vigil posting, but I just heard on the internets that Torre's flying to Tampa with Brian Cashman this afternoon for "talks" with "Yankee management."

That's not something a team usually does when they don't want to sign the manager to a new contract.

4PM UPDATE: Torre's now flying back to New York. According to the Yankees, they offered him a one-year contract for $5 million -- a $2 million pay cut, but with bonuses of $1 million for each round of the post-season the Yankees make -- and an option for 2009.

According to sources, he turned it down.


I figured the Yankees would demand a pay cut. Torres' salary has always irked Steinbrenner even though he'd agreed to it. But I also figured Torre would easily take it because he loves the job.

The Joe Torre Era may have come to an end.


Manny ain't the problem

This is Dan Shaugnessy Watch territory, took him until the end of his "blame pie" column today and I was starting to worry, but then he typed,

Lastly, we must address the larger forces. Manny Ramírez yesterday said he was not trying to show anybody up and he had some fun striking poses during batting practice, but his Cadillac moment (raising his arms as if he'd just hit a walkoff when his sixth-inning blast cut the score to 7-3) at home plate in Game 4 was classless and obnoxious. It was an embarrassment to anyone who says they love baseball and/or the Red Sox.

No one will ever say anything, of course, but you have to wonder what his teammates and manager really think.

Ramírez was not in the Sox dugout when Mike Lowell and Drew made the first outs against Cleveland reliever Rafael Betancourt in the ninth. He came back from whatever he was doing to watch Crisp line to first for the final out.

Yesterday in a rare interview, Ramírez said, "If it doesn't happen, so who cares? There's always next year. It's not like it's the end of the world or something."

That should fire everybody up.

Let me respond by saying, "shut up." This is Manny Ramirez's line this October, as Globe sportswriter Amalie Benjamin notes:


I wish the Yankees had some guys who cared as little about losing a stupid game as Ramirez does.

Republicans just want to see kids' heads explode

Well said, Mr. Stark.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fighting below our weight?

Yes, Matt, this isn't just "inane," this is insane.

Our President: "So I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."

...This is inane. World War III? Against Iran? Really? Because Iran seems a lot like a medium-sized middle income country with few military capabilities rather than a near peer-competitor of the sort against which you might fight a world war.

Let's take stock. Six years and 30 some odd days ago, we were the world's lone superpower, a colossus, the world's policeman. But because 19 socially maladjusted, creepy assholes were able to hijack four planes and kill 3,000 people, we are now competing with Iran for world domination?

It has become clear what Bush's last remaining supporters (and hawks of both parties) believe: we should not so much promise we'll keep Americans safe as we should keep Americans in a constant state of fear.

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The rancher

Oh man, do we really need to have Imus polluting vast swaths of our rural countryside?

Don Imus, expected to announce soon that he will begin broadcasting on WABC radio in New York City in December, is in serious discussions with an unlikely partner to simulcast his radio show on television. It is RFD-TV, a satellite and cable channel aimed primarily at farming and other rural communities.

The conversations with RFD-TV were described yesterday by someone on the Imus side who insisted on anonymity because no deal has been signed. Patrick Gottsch, the founder and president of RFD-TV, based in Omaha, did not return a telephone message yesterday seeking comment. The channel says it can be seen in more than 30 million homes.

For Mr. Imus, whose previous show on CBS Radio was seen nationally on MSNBC, RFD (which stands for rural free delivery) would offer a lower profile. Mr. Imus used to share a cable network with hosts like Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews; at RFD-TV his show would be a marquee lead-in to others with titles like “Cattlemen to Cattlemen” (a 30-minute newsmagazine about the cattle industry) and “Horse Babies” (an eight-week mini-series).


Iran hawks

Seems there's a lot of them out there and Hillary Clinton, already looking past the primaries to the general election, is positioning herself to appeal to them.

In short, Clinton's staffers must have read the Opinion Dynamics poll for Fox Cable News, which shows that 80 percent of the U.S. public believe that Iran's nuclear program is for weapons purposes, and 50 percent believe that the U.S. should take a tougher line with Iran (as against 31 percent who do not). About 29 percent of the sample want Bush to go ahead and attack Iran before leaving office, while a bare majority thought he should leave the problem to the next president. Some 54 percent of respondents believed that if Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been allowed to visit the site of the Sept. 11 attacks, he would have been intent on honoring the hijackers.

Since the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has been carrying out regular inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities, still cannot find good evidence for a weapons program, the overwhelming consensus to this effect in the U.S. is evidence of successful propaganda by the Bush administration and its enablers in the media. That Ahmadinejad, an Iranian Shiite who has repeatedly denounced Sunni fundamentalism and its terrorist activities, should be viewed as an al-Qaida sympathizer by the American public is a testament to how effectively he has been demonized.

We have always been at war with Eastasia.

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"Clueless and classless"

Personally, I enjoyed Ramirez's admiration of his shot out into the center-right bleachers last night, but I guess a certain curly-haired Boston sportswriter is less forgiving of Manny being Manny when the team faces elimination.

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Alien SUV drivers

While there are one or two GOP presidential candidates who see serious policy implications resulting from global warming, the leading candidates take the helpful stance of indicating that China and India are the problem, not the U.S. So, they'd do pretty much nothing, because, as everyone knows, the U.S. economy is dwarfed by and can't compete with China's and India's. But nothing says "Serious Man," like Hollywood:

Some people think that our planet is suffering from a fever. Now scientists are telling us that Mars is experiencing its own planetary warming: Martian warming. It seems scientists have noticed recently that quite a few planets in our solar system seem to be heating up a bit, including Pluto. NASA says that the Martian South Pole's ice cap has been shrinking for three summers in a row. Maybe Mars got its fever from earth. If so, I guess Jupiter's caught the same cold, because it's warming up too, like Pluto. This has led some people, not necessarily scientists, to wonder if Mars and Jupiter, non signatories to the Kyoto Treaty, are actually inhabited by alien SUV-driving industrialists who run their air-conditioning at 60 degrees and refuse to recycle. Silly, I know, but I wonder what all those planets, dwarf planets and moons in our solar system have in common. Hmmmm. Solar system. Hmmmm. Solar? I wonder. Nah, I guess we shouldn't even be talking about this. The science is absolutely decided. There's a consensus. Ask Galileo.
-- Paul Harvey Show, April 13, 2007

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

For the children

Oh, Davey, is in fine form this morning.

A few weeks ago, I interviewed Deborah Pryce, the Republican congresswoman, in her Washington office. There was a doll propped up against a windowsill, and I wanted to ask her if it had belonged to her daughter, who died of cancer at age 9 in 1999. But that question seemed to trespass on something out of bounds, so I asked about her re-election campaign in 2006.

But it's not so far out of bounds that he can't mention it to lead off his column about how mean Democrats are forcing good, kind Republican Congressman to run ads their mom's are ashamed of.

When Pryce spoke about the direct-mail letters that went out under her name, she did so with a look of disgust. She said that her friends kept coming to her to complain about the TV ads she was running against her opponent. Finally, her own mother told her she was ashamed of the ads.

The truth is, Pryce’s opponents did worse. But it was her own ads that she kept dwelling on, and as she spoke, I could see that she’d been fighting the war that the best politicians fight — the war within herself to preserve her own humanity.

Um, right.

Now, a short look at You Tube's Debra Pryce collection turns up little in the way of particularly nasty, Willie Horton-like assassinations. My opponent wants to raise taxes is hardly new. And, of course, I can't find the direct-mail piece that so disgusted the candidate who, no doubt, was required to indicate she'd "approved this message," so I can't judge.

Perhaps, it was her eagerness last fall to run away from her own party's leadership that makes her feel bad.

But Davey says her opponent "did worse." Let's see, running (humorous, silly) ads against an incumbent's votes is, among gentlemen, simply not done.

So, Davey, where's the "worse?" This?


Monday, October 15, 2007

Unlawful combatants

Dan Froomkin picks up something interesting in today's White House Watch

"The designation of lawful and unlawful combatants is set out in the Geneva Convention. Lawful combatants are nonmilitary personnel who operate under their military's chain of command. Others may carry weapons in a war zone but may not use offensive force. Under the international agreements, they may only defend themselves."

In light of reports of apparently unprovoked attacks, some State and Defense department lawyers now "think the contractors in Iraq could be vulnerable to claims that their actions make them unlawful combatants," Barnes writes.

"For a guard who is only allowed to use defensive force, killing civilians violates the law of war, said Michael N. Schmitt, a professor of international law at the Naval War College and a former Air Force lawyer. 'It is a war crime to kill civilians unlawfully in an armed conflict,' he said."

The guards "operate under immunity from Iraqi law -- immunity was granted in 2004 by U.S. officials -- and in a murky status with respect to American laws. . . .

"But some international law experts think Iraq could use international treaties to try contractors for killing civilians."

Barnes writes with great understatement: "Unresolved questions are likely to touch off new criticism of Bush's conduct of the unpopular Iraq war, especially given the broad definition of unlawful combatants the president has used in justifying his detention policies at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

Meanwhile, Blackwater just grows and grows.

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Mission Accomplished #486

Hey, Rich Lowry is finally right: We won. And our reward: We can never leave.

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I haven't weighed in on the Armenian genocide -- and Congress's political decision to condemn Turkey for it -- because I've been busy and because it's such a strange political aside. I mean, does anyone besides Armenians and Turks care what the Ottoman Empire did early in the previous century? It didn't hit home to me until I saw Pelosi on the teevee yesterday answering questions about it. Specifically, she promised it would definitely come to a vote.

Only the Turkish themselves deny that the Armenian population in that part of the world was wiped out by a concerted, organized effort.

But, frankly, it doesn't make a lot of sense of to alienate one of our few allies in that region, a still relatively moderate Muslim population. And I have to figure that the inhabitants of Turkey and the greater Middle East must see this as the height of hypocrisy as Iraq is being systematically depopulated as a result of our actions.

As for Pelosi's motives for bringing it to the floor. Ezra says she blew it. John Cole says it's a cowardly way to affect the execution of the war.



Wingnuts on parade. Debbie Schlussel learns of plans to light the Empire State Building green to mark the end of Ramadan, and she smells the collapse of Western civilization.

Either way, it's a defeat. The first time, the tall buildings' owners didn't expect it. This time, the owners not only see it coming, they cower to it.

Planes into the building, yesterday. Jihadist-Green atop the building, today. Same difference.

Really? Same difference?

Putting aside the notion that recognizing a religious holiday is somehow a capitulation to the forces dedicated to a worldwide caliphate and collapsing freedom-loving democracies like us, does she really see the murder of 3,000 people in the World Trade Center towers as "defeat?"

If so, who's then to blame?


"Relative support for the war"

Krauthammer and Kristol agree that attacking Iran would endanger "bipartisan support for 'the surge' strategy."

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Blue Monday, Afro Blue edition

The John Coltrane Quartet, with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Collapsing freedom-loving democracies like us"

Steve Benen calls this the "Dumbest. Ad. Ever" and writes

Glenn Greenwald recently explained that some portions of the conservative movement are genuinely convinced that we're this close to a global Islamic theocracy. It's absurd -- as Yglesias noted, "The idea that we should be laying awake at night afraid that a group of at most several thousand people who control almost no territory or valuable military equipment might establish a universal caliphate or 'collapse freedom loving nations like us' is ridiculous." And yet, that's the basis for a campaign ad from a top-tier Republican candidate.

It is certainly a grammatical nightmare.

And it is certainly disturbing that a "top tier" candidate for president spent a lot of (his own) money to spout such puerile nonsense, but it is in no way surprising. Romney has read the polls and he knows that that 30% who still support preznit believe this stuff. And they're the base of the Republican party primary voters. So it is quite natural for Romney to invoke these scimitar wielding jihadists and Iranians, and claim that he'll keep us safe in our beds with an even bigger army and wiretapping every call coming from any place east of New Hampshire. With Rudy! cuing the towers collapsing footage every time he opens his mouth, Romney has to prove his credentials as a "leader" who understands the threat from brown skinned people who pray towards Mecca several times a day.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Curse of the Idiots

And I thought it was "The Idiots" in Boston who have mostly derailed the Yankees dominance this century, but TNR's Alex Massie goes further, saying it's really the curse of the idiot in the White House.

In the circles I move in, it's considered poor form to admit to a fascination with, let a alone a liking for, the Bronx Bombers. Doing so is akin to supporting the school bully or admitting that you voted for George W. Bush in both the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections. It's not the sort of thing you mention in polite society. The Yankees are my sordid little American League secret and, to borrow from Yeats, my own "terrible beauty."

Now, you'll say that seven years without a title is not so very long. And if, say, you follow the Chicago Cubs, it certainly doesn't seem so harsh. But Yankee fans, like the Yankees' owner, are different: a single year without a title in the Bronx equates to something like seven years of ineptitude from other, lesser, franchises. In Yankee Years it's been nearly half a century since the Bombers last savored victory. At least it feels that way.

But perhaps it isn't just Bush's fault. Maybe the Republican Party itself is bad for the Yankees. After all, the Bronx Bombers haven't won a World Series under a Republican president since the Eisenhower administration. Just seven of their 26 titles have been won while the GOP possessed the White House. Perhaps someone should point this out to Rudy Giuliani. Is Hizzoner really prepared to sacrifice future Yankee victories upon the altar of his Presidential ambition?

Ahh, 2009. A new president. A new stadium. Interesting.

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God's away on business

Hat tip, literally this time, to John Cole.


Albert Gore Jr.

I can't improve on what Josh Marshall has to say this morning.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Great Escape

Steve McQueen's stuntman in the movie has died.

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The conscience of a liberal

New addition to the blogroll, "The conscience of a liberal," Paul Krugman's blog.


Damn, they're on to our schemes

Ezra Klein's attempt to distract Michelle Malkin with "debate" so that we can sneak socialized medicine into every family's home has utterly failed.

That is all. This site will now return to the Malkin-free zone it has previously tried to be.



The Yankees are never far from Boston fans' thoughts.

As you move past Hartford, the New York stations start to fade. The rain lessens and then stops, and two Boston sports-talk radio stations start to boom in loud and clear.

Surely, the listeners are exulting in their Red Sox, back in the American League Championship Series for the first time since 2004, when they rallied from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Yankees and go on to win their first World Series since 1918.

So what are they talking about? The Yankees! Oh, yes, and they are enjoying themselves. The guys on WEEI (850 AM) have a tape of Suzyn Waldman and John Sterling, the Yankees’ announcers, wrapping up Monday night’s season-ending defeat on WCBS (880 AM).

On it, Waldman breaks into soft sobs when telling Sterling of the somber mood in the Yankees’ clubhouse. The Boston hosts play it over and over again, laughing and hooting over her tearful words. “Daddy, why is there evil in the world?” cackles one of the hosts.

Finally, they take a call from a Red Sox fan, “Steve from Marlborough,” who adds that he is a doctor and that it is not all that impressive for Boston fans to kick people when they are down. The hosts pause and give this objection some thought.

They note that Waldman is from the Boston area and is gracious and knowledgeable and that they like her. Then they resume their kicking. “Uh-oh!” one of them says as they play the tape yet again. “Cinderella just lost her slipper!”

A shame. Better pitching from "The Wanger," a few timely hits, and far fewer midges, and we'd be reveling in the glorious over-hype of another Red Sox/Yankees Illiad.

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Who said it?

After my husband quit his job earlier this year (to become a full-time stay-at-home dad), we had a choice. We could either buy health insurance from his former employer through a program called COBRA at a cost of more than $1,000 per month(!) or we could go it alone in Maryland’s individual market. Given our financial circumstances, that “choice” wasn’t much of a choice at all. We had to go on our own.

We discovered that the most generous plans in Maryland’s individual market cost $700 per month yet provide no more than $1,500 per year of prescription drug coverage–a drop in the bucket if someone in our family were to be diagnosed with a serious illness.

With health insurance choices like that, no wonder so many people opt to go uninsured.

Answer here.


Worm torture

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Always look on the bri-ight side of life!

Well, one advantage of the Yankees exiting early is the reduced exposure I am now likely to have to Skip Caray.

I won’t go on at length about Caray’s miscues during the Yankees-Indians division series as I did yesterday. But during Game 4, he wrongly situated the Chrysler Building in downtown Manhattan during a blimp shot; falsely named Kei Igawa as a product of the Yankees’ farm system; incorrectly said the Indians were on an “unbelievable hot streak”; clumsily described Indians starter Paul Byrd’s effective five-inning stint as “magnificent” and fumbled over the history of Mike Mussina’s relief appearances.

When Johnny Damon’s sixth-inning single moved Shelley Duncan to third, Caray uttered, “The crowd is up for grabs.” I have no idea what he meant.

In the eighth, he said, “Barring another run by Cleveland, it sets up Joe Borowski in the ninth.” Don’t try parsing that one; your hair will fall out.


The Noise Machine...too noisy this tme?

Good for The Baltimore Sun, one of the few traditional media outlets to show us how it all works.

When Halsey and Bonnie Frost agreed to go public with how the State Children's Health Insurance Program helped them after a car crash left two of their children comatose, the Baltimore couple expected to hear from critics of government-funded health care.

But while the Frosts were helping a bipartisan majority in Congress sell a plan to expand the program, they were not prepared for comments such as this one, posted over the weekend on the conservative Web site Redstate:

"If federal funds were required [they] could die for all I care. Let the parents get second jobs, let their state foot the bill or let them seek help from private charities. ... I would hire a team of PIs and find out exactly how much their parents made and where they spent every nickel. Then I'd do everything possible to destroy their lives with that info."

So has begun the education of the Frosts, the young family of six who volunteered to advocate for the program for moderate-income families - the expansion has been approved by Congress but vetoed by President Bush - and now find themselves the focus of a nasty national debate.

The onslaught began over the weekend, a week after 12-year-old Graeme Frost delivered the Democrats' weekly radio address with a plea to Bush to sign the bill. A contributor to the conservative Web site Free Republic noted Graeme's enrollment in the private Park School and the sale of a smaller rowhouse on the Frosts' block for $485,000 this year and questioned whether the family should be taking advantage of the state program.

That post was picked up by the National Review Online and other Web sites. By Monday, Rush Limbaugh was discussing the family's earnings and assets on the air, and the blogger Michelle Malkin was writing about her visit to Halsey Frost's East Baltimore warehouse and her drive past the family's Butchers Hill rowhouse. Liberal bloggers, meanwhile, were complaining that the Frosts were being "swift-boated."

"It's really frustrating," said Bonnie Frost, 41, who stated she is upset by the angry Internet posts, e-mails and telephone calls targeting the family. "The whole point of it for me was that this program helped my family, and I wanted it to help others. That's the message, and I can't believe the way the spotlight has been taken off of that."

Read the whole thing. I, for one, never fully comprehended the seriousness of the injuries the children received. It's hard to be shocked by the Malkins, the Red States, the Steyns of the world, but to use this family as a pinata for trying to help other families that might face similar crises is really mind numbing.

Bonnie Frost was driving children Zeke, Graeme and Gemma in Baltimore County in December 2004 when the family SUV hit a patch of black ice and slammed into a tree. Graeme sustained a brain stem injury; Gemma suffered a cranial fracture.

The family relied on SCHIP during the more than five months that the children were hospitalized. Graeme had to learn again to walk and talk, his parents say; he remains weak on his left side and speaks with a lisp. Gemma is blind in her left eye; she has difficulty with memory, learning and speech, and sees a behavioral psychologist to help her deal with her frustration.

"Her personality has changed," Bonnie Frost said yesterday. "She's not the same girl."

Bonnie and Gemma Frost joined Pelosi at the Capitol Hill news conference before the SCHIP vote. Then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid asked Graeme to record the radio address.

It was the news coverage of that broadcast that set off the blogo- sphere. A pseudonymous contributor to Free Republic cataloged the $20,000 cost of tuition at the Park School, the $160,000 Halsey Frost paid for his warehouse in 1999 and the $485,000 for which a neighbor sold his home in March. Links were provided to photos of the Park School's 44,000-square- foot Wyman Arts Center and the Frosts' 1992 wedding announcement in The New York Times.

Soon strangers were posting accusatory messages describing Halsey Frost as a business owner who lived on a street of half-million-dollar homes, worked out of his own commercial property and paid to send his children to private school, yet still took advantage of government-funded health care.

"Bad things happen to good people, and they cause financial problems and tough choices," Mark Steyn wrote on the National Review Online. "But, if this is the face of the 'needy' in America, then no-one is not needy."

The Redstate contributor was less civil.

"Hang 'em. Publically," the contributor wrote. "Let 'em twist in the wind and be eaten by ravens. Then maybe the bunch of socialist patsies will think twice."


Although I make it a point, in life as well as on anonymous blogs, never to wish illness or catastrophe on anyone, even political opponents, I'm beginning to rethink that.

Meanwhile, John Cole shows us that these creatures of the Republican Rightwing got out way too far for their authoritarian leaders on this one (and he's got a great Waits video on top of it).


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