Tuesday, February 28, 2006

One man's top ten

SPORTING GOODS

My last post wherein I stated that Sly Williams was one of Connecticut's best ever high school players made me start to think of who I might include on such a list. Here, then, is an attempt to come up with a top ten ranking. This is, I repeat, a work in progress, but it's probably a good start. Most of these guys play or played (at least for a little while) in the NBA, but all won numerous accolades at the prep level and were integral parts of state championship teams. Anyway, in alphabetical order, here goes:

Bruce (Soup) Campbell – Wilbur Cross '74

Marcus Camby – Hartford Public '92

Earl Kelley – Wilbur Cross '82

Calvin Murphy - Norwalk '66

Harold Pressley – St. Bernard’s '82

Charles Smith – Harding '84

Chris Smith – Kolbe Cathedral '88

Corny Thompson – Middletown '78

Sly Williams – R.C. Lee '76

(Super) John Williamson – Wilbur Cross '69

If I had to pick an additional five, they'd be:

Scott Burrell – Hamden '89

(Rocket) Rod Foster - Aquinas '79

Mike Gminski - Masuk '77 (graduated in 1976)

Walter Luckett - Kolbe Cathedral '72

Tom Roy - South Windsor '71

Again, this is just one man's opinion on one day. Readers may note that no one from the last fourteen years appears on this list. To them, I say, "There were giants in the earth in those days."

How the mighty have fallen

SPORTING GOODS

A few former Connecticut basketball players have had some tough times recently. Specifically,
Former NBA player Manute Bol and his wife were arrested on disorderly conduct charges after telling police they shoved each other during an argument at their home on Boulevard.

Bol, 45, told police his wife, Ajok Kuag, 27, threw a phone at him and punched him in the head during a fight Saturday night, according to a police report.

The couple, who have been arrested in previous domestic incidents, went together Sunday to police headquarters to report the incident.
She punched the 7 foot 7 inch former NBAer in the head? How in the heck did she reach it?

And poor Sly Williams—certainly among the best high school basketball players Connecticut has ever produced—has had his share of troubles, too. He'll be getting out of jail in April.

Monday, February 27, 2006

You like me, you really like me

Manifesto

Liberal blogistan is atwitter with this news:
Poll: Bush Ratings At All-Time Low
He's at 34%. I have nothing left to add.

You're, Like, So Popular!

MANIFESTO

Very interesting article by Henrick Hertzberg in this week's The New Yorker about a group that is working to eliminate the electoral college in favor of the popular vote in Presidential elections. The most compelling argument is that the last few elections have been dominated by campaigning in the 13 or so "swing states" while "spectator states" are completely ignored. The best result of the measure is it would eliminate Red and Blue states and, in theory at least, bring the country together as United States. A setimental idea to be sure, but noble nonetheless.

I tend to buy the argument, but even Hertzberg admits the measure has little chance of passing.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

There and back again


WHATEVER

I, too, have been away for a while, but, unlike Sergio, I'll be glad to bore any and all with the mundane details.

At any rate, while I was gone, apparently an event known as the Winter Olympics occurred. It appears to have had all of the excitement of having paint dry, although I suppose there were some interesting episodes. I was struck by the fact that a good number of gold medals won by the (let's all chant it together now) U-S-A! U-S-A! came in events that the more Nordic of the planet's nations have yet to be introduced to. Snowboard halfpipe? The Marquis de Polignac must be rolling over in his grave.

On a more dramatic level, the situation in Iraq got appreciably worse in the last seven days. The destruction of the Shiite temple in Samarra essentially put the country into a full blown civil war (even though too many news outlets are stating that Iraq is on the brink of such a conflict), and there seems little the US (and, God help us, the smirking chimp in the White House) can do about it. I suppose the Bushies got what they wanted: The Iraq conflict has now officially turned into Vietnam redux. And I don't think they can win it this time, either.

And even though the idiocy concerning the Port Authorities/UAE deal seems to have quieted down a bit, it was telling that when asked what Dear Leader thought of the transaction, Scott McClellan assured the questioner that the prez hadn't known about it. How to keep your finger on the pulsebeat of Homeland Security there, Georgie boy. Of course, the lamebrain Michael Chertoff (fresh from his record-breaking tour as "The Man Who Destroyed New Orleans") thinks this is just a swell idea because "the administration [had] approved it after a classified review and included provisions to protect national security." Of course, the powers that be seem to have ignored the chief executive in the course of the review. Perhaps he doesn't have the proper classification.

Kris Benson Revisited

Sporting Goods

Jon Heyman from Newsday revisits the Benson trade with a little more hindsight and some more unattributed information.
It was a mystery, until now.

Although the Mets aren't going to get into it publicly, Minaya ultimately believed Anna Benson left him little choice. It wasn't necessarily because of her R-rated portrayal of Mrs. Claus at the kids Christmas party (though that didn't help), but actually a few comments she made, especially one about the makeup of the team.

Benson's ticket out of town was written when Ms. Benson, while protesting the Mets' preference she not pose for Playboy, was quoted criticizing Carlos Delgado for his previous political stand not to stand for "God Bless America" and particularly for grousing that Minaya was putting together an "all-Latin team."
And now we know. Don't forget to check out Sergio's kick-ass Oscar prediction post below.

Sergio Will Win Your Oscar Pool!

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

First off, I’d like to apologize for my protracted absense from Daily411. I won’t bore you with mundane details, but you can be assured that drinking water has been restored, the schools have be reopened and the rebellion has been put down.

With a week to go before Hollywood’s Biggest Night™, office workers around the country are scrambling to fill out their Oscar Ballots and wondering what the hell is the difference between a Sound Mixer and a Sound Editor. You can now put your worries to rest because Sergio is about to make your lives a little bit easier by telling you who is going win every single category, even the lame ones.

All nominees will be ranked in the order of likelihood they will win.
BEST PICTURE
1. Brokeback Mountain
2. Crash
3. Good Night, and Good Luck.
4. Munich
5. Capote
This should be an easy victory for Brokeback. There are rumblings of a Crash upset, but I think this is more about journalists needing something to write about. Then again, don’t count out the Tony Curtis Factor. If Crash were to win, it would be the greatest Oscar upset in history, and the biggest since Shakespeare in Love came out of nowhere to beat Saving Private Ryan in 1999.
BEST ACTOR
1. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote
2. Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain
3. Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow
4. Joaquin Phoenix, Walk the Line
5. David Straithairn, Good Night, and Good Luck.
This is going to be the most interesting of the major categories, but I think the gay writer will beat the gay cowboy.
BEST ACTRESS
1. Reese Witherspoon, Walk the Line
2. Felicity Huffman, Transamerica
3. Keira Knightley, Pride & Predjudice
4. Charlize Theron, North Country
5. Judi Dench, Mrs. Henderson Presents
Witherspoon in a Walk. (Get it?) Extra fun: Watching Ryan Phillipe pretend to be happy his more-famous, more-talented spouse just won an Oscar instead of him. (The closest he will ever come to Oscar is when he's dusting off hers.) These things never work out well. Just ask Chad Lowe.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
1. George Clooney, Syriana
2. Paul Giamatti, Cinderella Man
3. Jake Gyllenhaal, Brokeback Mountain
4. Matt Dillon, Crash
5. William Hurt, A History of Violence
The handsome, dashing, charismatic, funny movie star that got fat beats the already-fat guy that got passed over by Oscar two years running. Members want to vote for the triple-nominated (and widely-admired) Clooney and this is the best category for them to do this. Although I can't help the feeling that a dark horse like Gyllenhaal or Dillon will steal this one out from under both of them.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
1. Rachel Weisz, The Constant Gardener
2. Amy Adams, Junebug
3. Michelle Willliams, Brokeback Mountain
4. Catherine Keener, Capote
5. Frances McDormand, North Country
Another foregone conclusion, though I saw and liked Gardener and think Weisz was good but not great. Shame on voters for leaving off Shirley MacLaine (In Her Shoes) and Maria Bello (A History of Violence), both of whom gave better performances than anyone on this list.
BEST DIRECTOR
1. Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain
2. Paul Haggis, Crash
3. Steven Spielberg, Munich
4. George Clooney, Good Night, and Good Luck
5. Bennett Miller, Capote
Lee will finally win his first Oscar. (He was expected to win in 2000 for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon but was upset by double-nominee Steven Soderbergh for Traffic.)
BEST ADAPTED SCREEENPLAY
1. Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, Brokeback Mountain
2. Dan Futterman, Capote
3. Tony Kushner and Eric Roth, Munich
4. Jeffrey Caine, The Constant Gardener
5. Josh Olson, A History of Violence
Chance of victory for McMurtry and Ossana: 100%. (Margin of Error: 0%)
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
1. Paul Haggis and Bobby Moresco, Crash
2. Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale
3. Stephen Gaghan, Syriana
4. George Clooney and Grant Heslov, Good Night, and Good Luck.
5. Woody Allen, Match Point
The multi-character narrative of Crash just beats indie-darling Squid. Amazingly, this is Woody Allen’s 14th writing nomination. (He won for Annie Hall and Hannah and Her Sisters.)

ANIMATED FEATURE
1. Wallace & Gromit in the Curse of the Were-Rabbit 2. Howl's Moving Castle 3. Tim Burton's Corpse Bride

ART DIRECTION
1. Memoirs of a Geisha 2. King Kong 3. Pride & Prejudice 4. Good Night, and Good Luck. 5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

CINEMATOGRAPHY
1. Brokeback Mountain 2. Memoirs of a Geisha 3. Good Night, and Good Luck. 4. The New World 5. Batman Begins

COSTUMES
1. Memoirs of a Geisha 2. Pride & Prejudice 3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 4. Walk the Line 5. Mrs. Henderson Presents

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
1. March of the Penguins 2. Murderball 3. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room 4. Darwin's Nightmare 5. Street Fight

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
1. God Sleeps in Rwanda 2. The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club 3. The Mushroom Club 4. A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin

FILM EDITING
1. Crash 2. The Constant Gardener 3. Munich 4. Cinderella Man 5. Walk the Line

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
1. Tsotsi (South Africa) 2. Joyeux Noël (France) 3. Paradise Now (Palestinian Authority) 4. Sophie Scholl -- The Final Days (Germany) 5. Don't Tell (Italy)

MAKE-UP
1. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 2. Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith 3. Cinderella Man

ORIGINAL SCORE
1. Gustavo Santaolalla, Brokeback Mountain 2. John Williams, Memoirs of a Geisha 3. John Williams, Munich 4. Dario Marianelli, Pride & Prejudice 5. Alberto Iglesias, The Constant Gardener

ORIGINAL SONG
1. “It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp,” from Hustle & Flow 2. “In the Deep,” from Crash 3. “Travelin' Thru,” from Transamerica

ANIMATED SHORT
1. One Man Band 2. 9 3. The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation 4. Badgered 5. The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello

LIVE ACTION SHORT
1. Six Shooter 2. Our Time Is Up 3. Cashback 4. The Last Farm 5. Ausreisser (The Runaway)

SOUND EDITING
1. King Kong 2. War of the Worlds 3. Memoirs of a Geisha

SOUND MIXING
1. Walk the Line 2. King Kong 3. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 4. War of the Worlds 5. Memoirs of a Geisha

VISUAL EFFECTS
1. King Kong 2. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 3. War of the Worlds
So Brokeback Mountain will be the night's big winner with five Oscars and its place in history. I expect at least a shout-out from people when I win them their pools, if not a small cut of the proceeds. The real fun will be seeing if Jon Stewart makes more jokes about gun-toting Dick Cheneys or marching penguins.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

This is cool

Sporting Goods

This is just a cool story.
GREECE, N.Y. - He had done everything he was asked to do for the Greece Athena High School basketball team — keep the stats, run the clock, hand out water bottles.
That all changed last week for the team manager in the final home game of the season. The 17-year-old senior, who is autistic and usually sits on the bench in a white shirt and black tie, put on a uniform and entered the game with his team way ahead.

McElwain proceeded to hit six 3-point shots, finished with 20 points and was carried off the court on his teammates’ shoulders.
I figured when I read the highlight that the other team must have let him score. Then I read that it was all threes. And I watched the video at CNN. I can't link to it, but I suggest you go to CNN and scroll down on the video clips until you find it. Just really cool.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Strike up the Brass Bonanza, Part 2

SPORTING GOODS

I'm no economist, but these guys are, and they have done a study of the metropolitan areas that could most handle another (or a first) major professional sports team, and those that are the most overextended.

LA and Philly rank 1-2 as sports cities that could handle another team with no problem, and then good old Hartford comes in 3rd. Based on various factors, they have also recommended which league should expand into each area, with Hartford of course being a candidate for an NHL team.

Meanwhile, Phoenix ranks #2 on the most overextended cities list. I doubt the NHL would do this, but how much sense would it make to get hockey out of the stinking desert and back into Connecticut where it belongs?

Monday, February 20, 2006

In case you missed it


Universal Remote

In 2003, ABC began airing one of my favorite shows of the last few years. Needless to say, it was canceled after 7 episodes aired. Karen Sisco was a terrific, non-formulaic, crime drama. And the other night at 1 in the A.M., while I was awake trying to fall asleep, I found it on a channel I didn't know existed, Sleuth TV. (For you New Yorkers, channel 102 on Time-Warner.) Anyway, if you missed it or want to catch it again, check it out Sundays at 10. Definitely worth a look. One of the best shows on tv, even in reruns.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

All-Time Win Shares update

SPORTING GOODS

Win Shares, although not perfect, is still one of the better ways to be able to statistically compare the accomplishments of players across eras. I did this last year, and it's time to do it again. I'll provide an updated rank, along with the number of Win Shares for a few key players. Active players in bold, my comments in italics

1. Babe Ruth (756)
2. Ty Cobb (722)
3. Barry Bonds (666)
4. Honus Wagner (655)
5. Hank Aaron (643)
6. Willie Mays (642)
7. Cy Young (634)
8. Tris Speaker (630)
9. Stan Musial (604)
10. Eddie Collins (574)

Well, after a season that did almost nothing to add to his total, Bonds is still two years away from second place, and three from first. I doubt he catches Ruth at this point, because we don't know if Barry's body will hold up for three more years, if his mind will want to play three more, or if his chemical-free body will produce enough to catch Ruth even if he is around. In actuality, it's probably Ruth's pitching that separates them. Still, sitting anywhere in that top 6, with the Babe, Cobb, Wagner, Aaron, and Mays, is pretty damn good any way you look at it.

11. Mickey Mantle
12. Walter Johnson
13. Ted Williams
14. Pete Rose
15. Rickey Henderson (534)
16. Mel Ott
17. Frank Robinson
18. Joe Morgan
19. Rogers Hornsby
20. Nap Lajoie (496)

Ho hum, another list of ten of the all-time greats. Anyone who doesn't vote for Rickey on the first ballot for the hall of fame should have his/her rights examined. Anyone else already looking forward to Rickey's induction speech? Rickey knows that Rickey is.

21. Lou Gehring
22. Carl Yastrzemski
23. Kid Nichols
24. Pete Alexander
25. Mike Schmidt (467)
26. Eddie Mathews
27. Sam Crawford
28. Reggie Jackson
29. Al Kaline
30. Eddie Murray (437)

Not as impressive, but 10 more hall of famers. A lot of guys who produced near the top for a long time, racking up stats over 20 years or so. Of course, win shares is a counting stat, so these guys are up on the list here as well. Anyone seen any current players recently?

31. Jimmie Foxx
32. George Brett
33. Cal Ripken Jr.
34. Christy Mathewson
35. Roger Clemens (423)
35. Paul Waner
35. Robin Yount
38. Dave Winfield
39. Craig Biggio (414)
39. Paul Molitor

Hey, a whole bunch of guys who played in my lifetime (7 of the 10 in this decile). Clemens moved from 45 to 35 this past year, I didn't think he had it in him. Most guys are just adding a few win shares a year at the "end" of their career, but the way he is cranking, if Roger plays and did this again in '06 he'd be up to 27th. Right now he's 6th all time among pitchers, and the top 5 all pitched before the depression. At this point, someone has to really make a well-thought out argument to convince me he's not the greatest pitcher, or at least second best, of all time. The bastard. Meanwhile, Biggio is right there with Yount and Molitor. Doesn't that just seem right? But there he is, just in case you weren't sure if he was hall of fame material.

41. Tim Keefe
42. Warren Spahn
43. Monte Ward
44. Willie McCovey
45. Pud Galvin (403)
46. Fred Clarke
47. Gary Sheffield (401)
48. George Davis
49. Tony Gwynn
50. John Clarkson

Anyone else surprised to see Sheffield here? What a great career he ended up putting together, and still is. Say what you want about Sheffield and his mustache, but just look where he is, up from 72nd after another great year. He's surrounded by hall of famers here (albeit, a bunch I know very little about). I'm just sayin'.

51. Rafael Palmeiro (395)
52. Wade Boggs (394)
52. Bill Dahlen
54. Lefty Grove
55. Old Hoss Radbourn
56. Tim Raines (390)
57. Jesse Burkett
58. Tom Seaver
58. Jeff Bagwell (388)

Palemeiro, whether he plays again or not, is going to be an interesting one for the hall of fame. But I'm more looking forward to Raines's vote. The more I read about him, the more I think he is a hall of famer. The more I think about how I was following baseball for most of his career, the more I think he isn't a hall of famer. Was Montreal the reason he never really got recognized as a superstar? Probably. Meanwhile, for Bagwell it looks like he won't advance. Even a decent year in 2005 and he'd be up with Sheff, but he just can't get back on the field with his bum shoulder. Still, #58 and ahead of Joltin' Joe; not bad for a kid from Killingworth, Connecticut who was traded for a crappy short reliever. And yes, I am bitter.

60. Joe DiMaggio (387)
61. Rod Carew
62. Charlie Gehringer
63. Cap Anson
64. Zack Wheat
65. Luke Appling (378)
66. Roberto Clemente
67. Yogi Berra
67. Roberto Alomar
67. Al Simmons
70. Phil Niekro
70. Billy Williams (374)

Remember when Robbie Alomar was a lock for the hall of fame? Out of sight, out of mind I guess. And talk about counting stats, look how high Phil Niekro is. Longevity was the key there. Maybe Wakefield can get up here in about 30 more years.

72. Willie Stargell
73. Greg Maddux (369)
73. Gaylord Perry
75. Carlton Fisk
76. Steve Carlton (366)
76. Frankie Frisch
77. Roger Connor
77. Darrell Evans
79. Frank Thomas (362)
80. Ken Griffey Jr. (361)

Bill James rates Darrell Evans as one of the most underrated players of all time. I remember him as a DH, who struck out a lot, hit a lot of homers, and didn't do much else. But apparantly he was a decent third baseman with a high on-base every year, the kind of guy who would be much more appreciated in 2005 than he was in 1980.

80. Eddie Plank
82. Rusty Staub
83. Johnny Bench
83. Harry Heilmann
83. Brooks Robinson (356)
83. Arky Vaughan
87. Dan Brouthers
87. Ed Delahanty
89. Goose Goslin
90. Sherry Magee (354)
90. Mickey Welch

Just finished a very good book about the 2004 Red Sox called "Mind Game," and the name Arky Vaughan came up quite a bit when the authors (Baseball Prospectus) talked about just how good Nomar was the first 5-6 years of his career. Vaughan was the only guy who could compare to A-Rod and Nomar when it came to the impressive starts they got off to. Who knew?

92. Duke Snider
93. Max Carey
93. Lou Whitaker
94. Tony Perez
95. Loug Brock (348)
96. Dwight Evans
97. Ryne Sandberg
98. Bobby Wallace
99. George Van Haltren
100. Dick Allen (342)
101. Mark McGwire
102. Andre Dawson (340)

Dewey! The last 30 or so in the top 100 is pretty much hall of famers and borderline hall of famers. You can make the case that means that guys like Dewey and Sweet Lou Whitaker don't get enough attention. Or you can make the case that guys like Andre Dawson get too much attention.

So that wraps it up for the top 100 after 2005, with not too much movement really expected in 2006. So who else is close?

Alex Rodriguez is already at 318, hanging around with Alan Trammell and Bob Gibson, along with guys like Jack Clark, Joe Torre, and Pee Wee Reese. Two more seasons like 2005, and he'd be pushing the top 50. Even one more season like last year puts him in the 80s.

Larry Walker (done), Sammy Sosa (possibly done) and Mike Piazza (not quite) are at 311/313/310, in line with Willie "that's a lot of meat" Randolph, Joe Mudwick, Keith Hernandez, Orlando Cepeda, and Jim Palmer. That's borderline hall-of-fame territory for most positions, but for a catcher I'd guess that is good enough. At this point, I think Sosa may be out; two years ago I would not have said that.

Manny Ramirez (310) is hanging around there as well, but unlike the previous 3, he hopefully has a lot of 30 win share seasons left in him. He can have the hall of fame spot vacated by Sammy Sosa. Thanks Sammy, always so selfless.

Finally, sitting between 299 and 303, but unlikely to get very far into the top 100, are Bernie Williiams, Randy Johnson, John Olerud, and Jeff Kent.

Studying these lists like I have done, there is one major thing I've noticed. Either starting pitchers are undervalued by Win Shares, or they are overvalued by the general public compared to star batters. The same goes for closers, except for the difference is even more pronounced, as Mariano is in the company of guys like Cecil Fielder and Dave Henderson, and I don't think that really captures his importance or dominance. Of course, I'm not nearly smart enough to explain it, or to fix it, if this really is a deficiency. Are Dave Henderson's 600 at bats and 1,350 innings in the field more valuable than the 200 batters Mariano faces per year? I'm just not equipped to really answer that.

So in 2006, the baseball nerd in me will keep looking to see if next year there will be a metric that better exemplifies the top 100. Some people go fishing, some take up needlepoint...

Dog bites man

MANIFESTO

Least newsworthy headline of the day thus far: "Bush Satisfied with Cheney's Account of Shooting."

This can't possibly surprise anyone.

Clear and present danger

MANIFESTO

Remember the infamous August 6, 2001 memo wherein the White House was warned that "[c]landestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the US"? Remember the Bushies' falling all over themselves indicating that they couldn't have properly planned for such an event because they hadn't been told of the exact nature or date of the impending attacks?

Well, it turns out that even if they had been privy to such specific information, they wouldn't or couldn't have done anything about it.

As the House of Representatives indicated yesterday in a committee report, even though the Bushies knew of the exact nature and date of the cataclysm awaiting New Orleans this past summer, they still sat on their hands.

What a bunch of incompetent, responsibility-evading morons.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Shoot first, avoid questions later


MANIFESTO

Herewith, Sidney Blumenthal's excellent piece (available only to subscribers of Salon.com Premium) on the Cheney episode, and a tawdry tale of "a decadent ruling class that made its own rules and led a society to the edge of catastrophe" it is.
In the original account authorized by Vice President Dick Cheney of his shooting of Harry Whittington, given by Katharine Armstrong, heiress and hunting companion, to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and later elaborated on to other news outlets, the 11 members of the hunting party set off on the morning of Feb. 11 in two trucks for the wilds of the 50,000-acre Armstrong Ranch in search of quails. After lunch, whose menu was described as antelope, jicama salad, bread and Dr Pepper, the hunters divided into two groups. Cheney went off with Armstrong; Pamela Pitzer Willeford, the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein; and Whittington.

At dusk, Whittington, a 78-year-old Austin lawyer and local Republican fixer, shot a bird and went to retrieve it behind the others. Hearing rustling in the bushes, Cheney, who has lately been using a cane in public and wearing two different shoes for comfort, reportedly quickly swiveled 180 degrees, 28-gauge shotgun in hand, and fired at what he believed were quails, but instead hit Whittington, 30 yards distant. "He got peppered pretty good," Armstrong said. "There was some bleeding, but it wasn't horrible. He was more bruised." The circumstances of this hunt were different from Cheney's previously celebrated 2003 hunt at the Rolling Rock Club in Pennsylvania, where he, Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and eight others killed 417 pheasants and an unknown number of mallard ducks specifically raised for the purpose of being herded before the hunters to shoot. At that time, Cheney released to the press the information that he had personally killed 70 pheasants. In the less controlled environment of the Armstrong Ranch, the only known target he hit was Whittington.

The details of the story related by Armstrong, however, defied practical experience and were contradictory. Armstrong told NBC News that while she believed that no one was drinking alcohol, beer may have been served at lunch. "There may have been a beer or two in there," she said, "but remember not everyone in the party was shooting." Armstrong's statement about beer appeared on the MSNBC Web site, but was subsequently and inexplicably scrubbed. Dr Pepper replaced beer in later versions of Armstrong's telling. On the Hunting Accident and Incident Report Form of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the shooter, Richard B. Cheney, checked the "No" box for the question, "Under the apparent influence of intoxicants or drugs?" But in an interview with Fox News Wednesday, Cheney admitted to having a beer earlier in the day, contrary to his statement to Texas officials.

The murky method by which Cheney decided to handle the disclosure of the shooting was guaranteed to raise questions about the incident. He behaved secretly, evaded standard protocol and brushed aside his obligations to the law. Unless Whittington dies, precipitating a grand jury probe, requiring witnesses to testify separately under oath, the true story may never be known, despite Cheney's Fox interview.

Whether or not the exact facts of the case are ever conclusively established, what happened at twilight in the south Texas brush has revealed the hierarchy of power within the Bush White House and the interests of those who wield that power. The surreptitious handling inside the White House of the shooting, moreover, cannot be understood apart from the society of Texas royalty and the ambitions of those, like Cheney and Karl Rove, who aspire to it. None of it is metaphoric.

About an hour after the shooting, an unidentified traveling aide of the vice president's called the White House Situation Room, which put him in touch with Chief of Staff Andrew Card. Why a call would be routed through the Situation Room, which receives and transmits only national security information, rather than the very capable and secure White House switchboard, remains mysterious. Card was deliberately misled, told only that there was an accident in Cheney's party, not that Cheney was involved. The vice president's staff obviously felt no need to inform the president's chief of staff of the true facts of the matter. Why Card was deceived is also mystifying, except insofar as it reflects the vice president's instinctive view of him as someone to be routinely stepped over and around. Card, acting responsibly, promptly called President Bush, who as a result was momentarily kept in the dark. Confusing Card was a way of managing Bush, and yet...

Enter Rove. Within minutes of the call to Card, the president's chief political advisor and deputy chief of staff spoke with Katharine Armstrong, an old friend of his, who told him that Cheney had shot Whittington. Who initiated this conversation is unknown. In any case, Rove, not the duped Card, informed the president of what had actually transpired.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan was left out of the loop until the next morning. Instead, Armstrong, not anyone from the White House, disclosed the news that the vice president had shot Whittington to her local newspaper. It seems fair to infer that Cheney left Rove the task of coaching her. Twenty hours after the accident, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times printed its report; then it slowly filtered to the national press corps, which was never alerted by the White House.

Armstrong's account blaming the victim bore the mark of a classic Rove-engineered statement. No one at the White House had yet to say a word. The president, though he was well aware, made no query that would have ensured that in this extraordinary event the White House was operating properly and according to the letter of the law. Whether ignorant or informed, he remained passive, deferring to Cheney and Rove.

Both the vice president and the deputy chief of staff, as it happens, owed their previous, lucrative jobs in the private sector to their relationships with the Armstrong family. Anne Armstrong, Katharine's mother, was on the board of Halliburton that made Dick Cheney its chief executive officer. Tobin Armstrong, Katharine's father, had financed Karl Rove & Co., Rove's political consulting firm. Katharine herself is a lobbyist for Houston law firm Baker Botts, a major Texas power broker since it was founded in the 19th century by the family of James A. Baker III, the former secretary of state and close associate of George H.W. Bush's.

Katharine Armstrong took up lobbying after her recent divorce. Her contracts include Parsons, a construction firm that has done work in Iraq, among others. Her business partner, Karen Johnson, a close friend of Rove's, does extensive business with the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and defense contractors. But Armstrong's protestations to news media that she does not lobby Cheney should probably be taken at face value given her background.

Katharine Armstrong is linked to two family fortunes -- those of Armstrong and King -- that include extensive corporate holdings in land, cattle, banking and oil. No one in Texas, except perhaps Baker, but certainly not latecomer George W. Bush, has a longer lineage in its political and economic elite. In 1983, Debrett's Peerage Ltd., publisher of "Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage," printed "Debrett's Texas Peerage," featuring "the aristocrats of Texas," with the King family noted as the "Royal Family of Ranching." The King Ranch, founded by Richard King in 1857, is the largest in Texas, and its wealth was vastly augmented by the discovery of oil on its tracts, making the family a major shareholder of Exxon. The King Ranch is the model for Edna Ferber's novel of Texas aristocracy, "Giant."

John B. Armstrong, a Texas Ranger and enforcer for the King Ranch, founded his own neighboring ranch in 1882, buying it with the bounty of $4,000 he got for capturing the outlaw John Wesley Harding. In 1944, almost inevitably, the two fortunes became intertwined through marriage. Tobin Armstrong's brother John married the King Ranch heiress, who was also a Vassar classmate of Tobin's wife, Anne, who came from a wealthy New Orleans family.

The Armstrong Ranch developed far-flung holdings in Australia and South America. Meanwhile, President Ford appointed Anne, a major Republican activist, U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, and President Reagan appointed her a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is reportedly Anne's best friend, and Anne was instrumental in launching her political career. Tobin, for his part, worked as an advisor to Texas Republican Gov. William Clements, where he first encountered the young Karl Rove and decided to give him a helping hand when Rove struck out in the political business on his own.

The Armstrong family's Republican connections have continued and strengthened down to the latest generation of Bushes. Gov. George W. Bush appointed Anne a regent of Texas A&M University and Katharine a commission member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the agency that filed the report on the Cheney shooting. At Tobin's funeral last year, Cheney delivered the eulogy.

While the incident continues to unfold, the Bush administration is pressing a new budget in which oil companies would receive what is called "royalty relief," allowing them to pump about $65 billion of oil and natural gas from federal land over the next five years without paying any royalties to the government, costing the U.S. Treasury about $7 billion. For Texas royalty like the Armstrongs, it would amount to a windfall profit.

The curiosities surrounding the vice president's accident have created a contemporary version of "The Rules of the Game" with a Texas twist. In Jean Renoir's 1939 film, politicians and aristocrats mingle at a country house in France over a long weekend, during which a merciless hunt ends with a tragic shooting. Appearing on the eve of World War II, "The Rules of the Game" depicted a hypocritical, ruthless and decadent ruling class that made its own rules and led a society to the edge of catastrophe.

This, that, and the other

Sporting Goods


So a couple of interesting Mets-related tid-bits. First, and oldest, Bengie Molina, signed with the Blue Jays last week. You might remember that Molina was offered a 3-year, $18 million deal from the Mets at the start of the free agent period. At the time, Molina and his agent failed to respond, so the Mets went out and traded for Paul LoDuca. Well, now that Molina has signed, he has an interesting take on his decision:
"I took a lot less money to come over here for a reason, and that's to win," Molina said.
Of course, the article notes:
The New York Mets spoke with Bengie Molina in November and offered an $18 million, three-year contract. New York then had the chance to acquire Paul Lo Duca from the Florida Marlins and withdrew the offer to Molina.
Quite the revisionist historian. This guy should get a job at the White House. Meanwhile, if Molina thinks he has a better chance to win on the Blue Jays, looking up at the Yanks and Sox, than the Mets, who admittedly have the Braves to deal with, then he really is this delusional.

Of course, so is Omar Minaya who just signed Jose "Lima Time" Lima to a minor league deal. If part of the plan of trading Benson for a reliever and a prospect involves putting Lima in the rotation, I'll stab myself in the eye. For god sakes, the Mets already signed Darren Oliver earlier this offseason. How many recycled crappy pitchers do we need? Rather than use spring training to try to see if some washed up has beens can resurrect their careers, can't we give opportunities to young pitchers to see what they can do? Wouldn't that be a more prudent course of action?

Finally, David Wright reported early to camp. Given the number of hagiographic articles written about Wright this offseason, it is clear that the NY press is pushing him to be the next Jeter. Which is fine with me, by all accounts he seems to be a stand-up guy with a great work ethic. He's also, arguably, the best hitter on the Mets, young and good looking, so there are a number of factors that contribute to these stories. But one can't help but wonder if the NY media's obsession with "Los Mets" is also contributing to these stories making Wright the golden boy and public face of the Mets. As an avid Met fan currently living in NY, I seriously doubt it (he's just the best player), but I can't say it didn't cross my mind. If Reyes ever lives up to the hype, he'll be pushed relentlessly too. That would be great.

Cheney Watch

MANIFESTO

Day five.

Golly, even the mainstream media is getting a little itchy on this one. Furthermore, even Dear Leader's advisors seem to realize that this above the law mentality is becoming a bit much for law-abiding Americans.

Who knows? Maybe the puppet Bush can get Cheney's hand out from up his ass and demand that someone from his administration actually be accountable. And wouldn't that be a novel concept for these oligarchs?

UPDATE — OK. I feel much better now. Apparently the Veep is going to explain all tonight—to Brit Hume on Fox. I'm certain that this will clear up any misconceptions that awful media may have about the incident.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Bring me a higher love

MANIFESTO

Oy vey.
A subdued and introspective John G. Rowland, who admits that the past 10 months in a federal prison camp have humbled him, said Monday he was prepared to begin the next phase of his life with "blind faith."

The former governor and congressman, once considered a star in the national Republican Party, said he has no plans for his future other than reconnecting with family and friends, and completing his four months of home confinement.

"I kind of have this blind faith that God will work a way in my life that will steer me down a different path. I'm not sure what that plan is, but I know that God has a different plan, a better plan for me," Rowland told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview from his home, shortly after returning to Connecticut.
The truth of the matter is that the felon will probably land on his feet. (He indicated yesterday that his career in politics is over. This is hardly a voluntary decision.) I won't be surprised if, a year from now, he's consulting, Abramoff style, in Washington, DC, all the while indicating how his favorite political philosopher is Jesus of Nazareth.

(By the way, extra credit for those who know how the title of this post relates to its content.)

Monday, February 13, 2006

22-2

SPORTING GOODS

A few quick thoughts after watching UConn lose its second game of the year just now:

That was a great game.

I'm not complaining, but it could have been better if the refs hadn't taken out Marcus Williams for a good chunk of the second half with a bogus third foul call.

Allan Ray is sick. Hell, all three of Villanova's guards are sick.

Josh Boone has to be one of the softest 6'10" 237 pounds around. He'll make some nice plays, and then drive you crazy getting rejected by a guy smaller than him when he should just be throwing it down. NBADraft.net currently has him going 14th in the draft. I don't see it, and it's obvious that Jim Calhoun doesn't either.

That said, ESPN (and its announcers) need to figure out that Boone is not as good as he looked two years ago. As he sat on the bench, they kept zooming in on him like it was some big surprise that he wasn't playing, trying to create some controversy. Meanwhile, Boone is probably UConn's seventh best player right now.

Speaking of ESPN announcers, will someone explain to Jay Bilas what a "pick and roll" is? He talked all night about how well 'Nova was running the pick and roll. Each time he mentioned it, the pick and roll involved no rolling, just a guy shooting behind a pick. I thought Dukies were supposed to be smart.

Jeff Adrien looks really good, and although he needs to control his temper I'd like to see more of him. I don't think he'll be a star for UConn, but then again I never thought Hilton Armstrong would be either. Tonight they were saying Armstrong may go as a lottery pick next year. Wow.

The UConn coaches should put out an instructional video on how to block shots, and sell it to every NBA, NCAA, high school, and middle school coach in the country. OK, maybe not the other NCAA coaches. But seriously, how do they dominate this category every year? And it doesn't matter who they bring in - Armstrong and Adrien were everywhere tonight.

Back when Villanova was #8 in the country, after being asked by a co-worker I picked them as one of my three Final Four teams with Duke and UConn, unable to decide on a fourth. I will be very surprised if they don't reach the Final Four this year.

Despite a tough loss tonight, I still strongly believe that UConn will still be there as well. And I'd rather play Duke (or Gonzaga or Texas or Memphis or the New York Knicks) than have to try to match up with 'Nova.

Rematch on February 26th in Connecticut - if you like college basketball, do yourself a favor and watch.

Bang

MANIFESTO

I'm sure that Leno, Letterman, et al, will have a ball tonight with the Veep's shotgun escapade of the weekend, but as Josh Marshall points out, this episode shows once again how these bastards think they're above the law.

It took more than 18 hours for the incident to be reported (and not by the Veep), and by that time the Veep was back in his bunker in Washington. (In other words, he ran away and hid.) Moreover, the local police force wanted to investigate the incident, but was told in no uncertain terms that the Secret Service would be taking care of it. And, of course, all along the word has been that it really was the victim's fault that he'd been behind the Veep when the latter whirled to fire his gun. (Of course, by this morning we were all being assured that the victim was in "very stable" condition. I'd never heard of the term myself and feel that it had to have been created to help exonerate the Veep in the minds of the citizenry. I.e., after all, the wounds weren't that serious. The Veep's actions couldn't have been all that malevolent. Nothing to be accusatory about.)

So, while the late night monologuists may want to make light of the situation, the whole episode shows just how arrogantly craven the Veep is.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Ivy Games

SPORTING GOODS

Hey Ivy League sports fans (I know you're out there)! While the Ivies won't impress anyone in the big sports, they do have a considerable number of athletes competing in Turino right now. See here for the complete list.

Dartmouth, the home of Winter Carnival, has its usual contingent on the slopes, with eight who attend or attended school in Hanover. Women's hockey features players from five Ivies playing for four countries. Harvard has four Americans and two Canadians at the games, while Dartmouth has two Americans and three Canadians.

With the way those two are beating up on the Europeans, you can be pretty sure that all those teammates and former teammates will be competing for gold next weekend.

Oh, and by the way, goal count so far:

Harvard: 3
Dartmouth: 9
Finland+Germany+Switzerland+Russia+Italy+Sweden combined: 7

Are we there yet?

MANIFESTO

The first paragraph of this morning's New York Times' lead editorial:
We can't think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers — and just trust him. We also can't think of a president who has deserved that trust less.
From Friday's Boston Globe:
Every day this [Guantánamo prison] script by Franz Kafka and Joseph Heller goes on, the United States loses credibility as a champion of human rights.
From today's Los Angeles Times:
Michael Brown went to Washington on Friday to throw more floodwater onto the Bush administration's reputation, and he did a heck of a job. Brown's testimony was more than just good political theater, however—it was a guided tour of a dysfunctional federal bureaucracy.
And from the San Jose Mercury News:
As in previous budgets, Bush is pushing massive tax cuts, which the nation can ill afford and which will disproportionately benefit wealthy Americans. As in previous budgets, he is targeting for cuts programs that benefit poor and middle-class families. And as in previous budgets, he relies on smoke and mirrors to hide the magnitude of the deficit he would pass on to future generations of Americans.

If a president's budget is a statement of his priorities, Bush's priorities are wrong for America.
Now, I realize that I'm cherry picking (if you don't believe me, take a look at this gem), but I'm perceiving a mood in the nation that's different from accepting the same old same old from the Bushies. I've said this before, but I think this shift started with the obvious contempt the Bushies evinced toward Louisiana and Mississippi in the late summer. And now, with even the fawning Michael Brown perceiving an indifference and incompetence on the part of his superiors, might it be that the hoi polloi is managing to see it too? Or is this too much to ask for?

How long, o Lord, how long?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Inquiring minds and all that

MANIFESTO

How is it that Johnny Handout gets to have a lovely weekend with his wife before he has to put on the electronic ankle bracelet that all under house arrest have to wear?

(For more on the release of Connecticut's felonious former governor, see here and here.)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Superiors' Approval

MANIFESTO

The big news this morning is Scooter Libby's bomb that
his superiors authorized him to give secret information to reporters as part of the Bush administration's defense of intelligence used to justify invading Iraq, according to court papers.
Hmmm. His superiors, eh? Well, the fact that Libby just happened to be the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney limits the usual suspects.

Meanwhile, Karl Rove continues to say that all of this Star Chamber mentality is fine, and that Americans should really blame those who bring this treason to light. Riiiiight.

By the way, lock up the women and children: John Rowland was released from his prison camp this morning.

... And a player to be named later


SPORTING GOODS

Now that Monday Night Football is no longer on ABC, Al Michaels has asked that he be allowed to switch jobs and work for NBC. ABC has allowed this to happen with a certain stipulation.
The rights to "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit," a bunny created by Walt Disney in the 1920s before he invented Mickey Mouse, were transferred from NBC Universal to The Walt Disney Co. as part of the agreement to release the broadcaster from his contract with ABC and ESPN.
This is going to be one hell of a trade for Michaels to try to live down. I wish him luck.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Count me out

SPORTING GOODS

While mostly everyone seems to be excited that the Sox are making a serious pitch to bring back Roger Clemens, count me among those who are not. I could probably rant about this for quite a long time in the right setting, but I'll just point to two reasons why I think this is a dumb idea.

#1 - Are we really going to forget Roger's previous misdeeds so quickly? (ESPN Insider access needed to read, but you get the point with the headline)

#2 - The Sox have 2 too many starting pitchers as it is, that we don't know what to do with. Yeah, yeah, you can never have too much pitching. But pitching costs money, and there are egos involved. If you bring in Clemens, only one of the following four pitchers can start: Wells, Clement, Arroyo, or Papelbon. And it would not really be easy/easy/ethical/ or smart to trade those guys, nor a viable option to put 3 of them in the pen.

I just impressed myself by writing about this subject without ranting, cursing, or making any fat jokes.

Another voice heard from?

MANIFESTO

While Ned Lamont seems to be the favorite of the blogosphere to unseat Senator Sanctimony in a primary that may or may not occur, it seems to me that another challenger may also be in the wings.

Connecticut House Minority Leader Bob Ward seems to be getting some ducks in a row. He's come out fervently against the reinstitution of tolls on I-95 and recently sent out a mailing to all of Connecticut's educators reminding them that he is sponsoring a bill to finance Connecticut's Teachers' Retirement Fund fully.

OK, so Ward's trying to make nice with the southern half of the state and with the state's teachers. He wouldn't necessarily have to get involved in a primary. Might he be thinking of a more prominent political position?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Trust us

MANIFESTO

I really have nothing to say other than that this scares the bejabbers out of me.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales staunchly defended President Bush's order for warrantless eavesdropping on Monday ... based on the president's inherent powers, the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and Congress' Sept. 14, 2001, authorization of force against the al Qaeda terrorist group ...

[California Sen. Dianne] Feinstein quizzed Gonzales on how far the president's assertion of vast wartime powers could extend. She asked if Bush had authorized warrantless interception of first-class mail, for example.

"The president has not made any order that is against the law," Gonzales responded.
A non-answer to a very serious question. It beggars belief to think that this stooge is nominally the head law enforcement official of the land.

Monday, February 06, 2006

What would PETA do?


Manifesto

I'm a little slow and get my news from The Daily Show, but seriously, did anyone catch this bit from the State of the Union, without laughing?

"A hopeful society has institutions of science and medicine that do not cut ethical corners, and that recognize the matchless value of every life. Tonight I ask you to pass legislation to prohibit the most egregious abuses of medical research -- human cloning in all its forms -- creating or implanting embryos for experiments, creating human-animal hybrids and buying, selling, or patenting human embryos."


Also, I do like how "manimals" gets lumped in with creating embryos for experiments. Maybe the idea was to throw in something completely insane, so everything else seemed a little bit crazier by proximity.

Old News

MANIFESTO

I know that one can get overwhelmed with examples of the incompetence of the Bush Administration, but Kevin Drum seems to have just realized that "[a]pparently we're repairing Iraq's electric generating plants, but doing it so badly that it's not doing any good."

Readers may remember that this ridiculous situation was featured here two weeks ago.

I said it then; I'll say it again: Whenever they're confronted with a situation they can't handle (which is virtually all the time), the Bushies will first make extravagant promises regarding its resolution, and then they'll walk away from it.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Wait ... that's Chill's music

Manifesto

I'm going to be the first to acknowledge my 7 week absence from the blog. It was a lot longer than I wanted. Hopefully I won't be gone for so long again. But in my absence, a lot has happened and I don't have time to catch up. But my take, everything is playing out like a bad episode of "24".

Take this headline from Newsweek: Can the President Order a Killing on U.S. Soil?
Current and former government officials said they could think of several scenarios in which a president might consider ordering the killing of a terror suspect inside the United States. One former official noted that before Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania, top administration officials weighed shooting down the aircraft if it got too close to Washington, D.C. What if the president had strong evidence that a Qaeda suspect was holed up with a dirty bomb and was about to attack? University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein says the post-9/11 congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force against Al Qaeda empowered the president to kill 9/11 perpetrators, or people who assisted their plot, whether they were overseas or inside the United States. On the other hand, Sunstein says, the president would be on less solid legal ground were he to order the killing of a terror suspect in the United States who was not actively preparing an attack.
I really don't even know how to comment. Due Process. We don't need no stinking due process. Look, nobody would fault the President for exceeding his authority in the most dire of circumstances, such as those described above. But that still doesn't mean that the President has authority to do this. The idea is to draw a line that is reasonable. Maybe it is a line that has to be crossed, but if the President is going to cross the line, he better have a damn good reason (see the above scenarios). The reason you don't give the President the inherent authority to do such things is because then he can go out and make people "disappear". In which case we are little different from the dictatorships and puppet regimes we've opposed for our entire lives. And if you don't agree with that, and you don't think President Bush would abuse this authority because he's a reasonable guy, just ask yourselves, if your biggest political enemy, Bill Clinton, has this power, would you feel comfortable?

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Greeted as Liberators

MANIFESTO

There're a couple interesting stories floating around right now concerning the US and its military.

First,
The Bush administration has said it is planning to spend $120 billion on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars this year, bringing their total cost so far to $440 billion.

The spending request, which will soon be presented to Congress, marks a 20% increase over last year, despite plans to draw down US troop levels in both war zones in the coming months. The administration also plans to ask for a downpayment of $50 billion on war costs next year. The requests are expected to pass easily.
I can't help but say that of course they'll pass easily given the lapdogs in the legislature. Anyway,
[t]he spending on the Iraq conflict alone is now approaching the cost of the Korean war, about $330 billion in today's dollars. Meanwhile the cost of the overall "war on terror" - relabelled The Long War in the Pentagon - is already close to half a trillion dollars, and will soon equal that of the 13-year Vietnam war.

"There is some reason to be surprised that it's this much," said Steven Kosiak, a military spending analyst at the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. "The Congressional Budget Office had estimated the defence department would need $85 billion and that was with no drawdown in troops."
Golly, ya think there's "some reason" to think that this figure is exorbitant? How's this for Exhibits A and B?
The defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, once predicted that the Iraq war would cost $50 billion. George Bush's former economic adviser, Lawrence Lindsey, was forced to resign for being alarmist after predicting in 2002 that the Iraq war could cost up to $200 billion. Even before the new supplemental requests, spending on the conflict in Iraq has reached $250 billion.
So all of the lowballing the Bushies did when the US first got into this fiasco turned out to be wrong, and all of the realistic figures predicted turned out to right. There's no "reason to be surprised" that this whole thing has retrogressed the way it has.

And yet the Bushies maintain that they should be allowed to make the same errors in judgment, promising that they really can fight two wars simultaneously. Given the outrageous amount it's taken to fight one, it's clear that, once again, the Bushies are making ludicrous pie-in-the-sky claims.

And, indeed, the Bushies want the US always to be involved in at least one conflict.
Th[e] phrase, "long war," is a new way U.S. officials are describing the global war on terrorism. "Long war" is a term Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says is designed to convey that the United States, its allies and other countries, including Muslim countries, are involved in a long, multi-faceted struggle against radical Islam, just as many of those same countries fought and won the lengthy Cold War against communism.
So we can expect $120 billion bills ad infinitum along with further reductions in civil liberties and social services since the US is "at war."

Dude, where's my country?

About time

SPORTING GOODS

Congrats to Harry Carson, on finally making it into the football hall of fame. Great player, great guy.

Giants' fourth-round pick in 1976 draft. ... Became Giants' starting middle linebacker halfway through rookie season. Earned All-Rookie honors. ... Led Giants defenders in tackles five seasons. ... Had career-high performance in 1982 vs. Green Bay with 20 solo tackles and five assists. ... Ferocious run stopper whose 14 career fumble recoveries ranks second in team record book. ... Made 11 career interceptions. ... Was a part of the famed Giants' linebacker trio of Carson, Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks. ... A big-play performer, his interception and 12 tackles vs. Redskins in 1986 virtually assured Giants of NFC East title. ... Made key goal-line stand play in 1987 Super Bowl against Broncos. Selected to play in nine Pro Bowls, including seven straight (1982-1988).

Friday, February 03, 2006

Hand grenades

MANIFESTO

It's stories like this one that make one wonder if US corporations will ever again have jobs for the country's lower and middle classes.
Pineapples have long been a proud symbol of Hawaii, along with hula dancers, palm trees, Diamond Head, surfers and the spirit of aloha.

The future of Hawaii's top agricultural product is now in question as Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. announced it will cease pineapple operations here in a little more than two years.

Del Monte said it was no longer economically feasible to grow pineapple in Hawaii because it can be produced for less elsewhere.

"As a result of increased planting of pineapple at lower costs in other parts of the world, the company believes that it will not be economically feasible to continue to produce pineapples in Hawaii," Del Monte said in a statement. "In fact, today it would be cheaper for Del Monte to buy pineapples on the open market than for the company to grow, market and distribute Hawaiian pineapple."
Cripes, we're not exactly talking white collar workers making $50,000 here. The laborers being displaced are probably making, at best, $8 and hour or so. If it's not "economically feasible to continue to produce pineapples in Hawaii" at those wages, we've got some real problems.

Finally, a reason to watch!

SPORTING GOODS

OK, that's not true considering I even watched every second of the putrid Bucs vs. Raiders Super Bowl, but I found this interesting, from patriots.com:

Tom Brady will take part in the coin toss at Super Bowl XL. He will become the first active player to participate in a Super Bowl coin toss.

Now, if I can only time missing all the pre-game crap (maybe this year they'll have a salute to auto-workers!), but still catch the coin toss. And now, for my prediction, that I thought about for at least 35 seconds:

Steelers 27, Seahawks 24

Need another reason to watch? How about these things you can gamble on (among thousands of things you can gamble on):

What Phrase Will John Madden Say First After Kickoff of Super Bowl XL?
"Heck of a ... " 6/5
"Big time" 7/2
"Boom!" 7/1
"Horsecollar" 7/1
"Manhandled" 9/1
"Wham!" 15/1

Coin toss will be won by?
Seahawks -104
Steelers -101

Longest punt by Tom Rouen ?
Over 50.5 yards -113
Under 50.5 yards -103

Will Mack Strong have rush over 2 1/2 yards (0 att = no
Yes -116
No +100

Combined final score will be an odd number?
Yes -132
No +116

Who will be the Superbowl MVP?
Ben Roethlisberger +220
Matt Hasselback +390
Hines Ward +1150
Jerome Bettis +1050
Shaun Alexander +570
Antaawan Randle El +2150
Darrell Jackson +1250
Willie Parker +1300
Troy Polamalu +1100
Heath Miller +2600
Lofa Tatupu +2500
Jeremy Stevens +3000
Bobby Engram +3200
Field (all others) +800

And don't forget:
Who will score more points?
Steelers and Seahawks combined
Kobe Bryant vs NO Hornets on 2/4 (+5.5)

Matt Hasselbeck completions
Chris Bosh points against Clippers

Elton Brand points (-3.5)
Shaun Alexander rushing attempts

Thursday, February 02, 2006

How can a Street intersect with itself?

FOOD FIGHT

Finally, a bar named (appropriately) with a Seinfeld reference. Next time you're down at 1st and 1st and make a "nexus of the universe" joke (like the one monocle made here), the owners of this new lounge may just run out and invite you in, because you clearly get it.

Now, if someone can just open a laid-back bar called "Yada, Yada, Yada" across the street...

Show me the ...

MANIFESTO

Money's on my mind this morning as two stories are of note. First,
The House yesterday narrowly approved a contentious budget-cutting package that would save nearly $40 billion over five years by imposing substantial changes on programs including Medicaid, welfare, child support and student lending.
The Republicans are getting arm weary patting themselves on the back over this one, going so far as to assert that "American taxpayers, and anyone concerned with the nation's long-term fiscal stability, have won a great victory today." What nonsense.

The entire justification for the bill's passage was to gut further social services. As Rep. Dingell of Michigan said, "This bill is Exhibit A for special interests and lobbyists writing legislation behind closed doors at the expense of the ordinary citizen."

Indeed, the bill certainly has nothing to do with any fiscal principles since
The impact of the bill on the deficit is likely to be negligible, slicing less than one-half of 1 percent from the estimated $14.3 trillion in federal spending over the next five years. As the House debated the budget-cutting measure, the Senate moved to begin final negotiations with the House on a package of tax cuts and extension of expiring tax cuts that could cost up to $60 billion over five years, more than negating the savings from the budget bill.
Ho hum. Just another victory for the whores.

Juxtapose that episode with the following travesty:
United [Airlines] emerged from 1,100 days in bankruptcy protection today, claiming to be a leaner more cost efficient airline whose future remains uncertain. What is certain is that the nation's number two air carrier has 30 percent fewer employees, 20 percent fewer planes and 20 percent lower operating costs. Its 400 top managers now own a $115 million dollar stake in the company, while its 58,000 employees are working harder for less. And then there are those who've retired ...

Retired United pilots ... were fuming today over letters from the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, spelling out how much the bankruptcy will cost them. The cuts range from 70 to 90 percent ...

Harry Stonelake, retired United captain: "We fought for our country [in Vietnam], and by God, our country should fight for us. This is thievery. If I stole 65 percent of the money out of your pocket, you'd have me arrested."
So the peons of United, who've been forced to sacrifice and make concessions in order to revive the company, have done so in order for top management to garner over $100 million worth of stock in the company. It's no surprise that the former pilots (who will now get around $1400 per year for a pension) are irked.

In fact, they're beyond irked. This is blood in the streets talk. And as long as the middle and lower classes are screwed by the oligarchs, this kind of talk will continue.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Brownshirts, American Style

MANIFESTO

By now everyone's heard of the ludicrous fracas that occurred last night regarding Cindy Sheehan's arrest for wearing an anti-Bush t-shirt. (I'm certain that at one time Cindy Sheehan was an upstanding member of society, but the Bushies have radicalized her. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy: The Bushies are rapidly turning the formerly respectable Ms. Sheehan into the Emma Goldman of the 21st Century.)

Now, it seems the Capitol police may have been a tad hasty in slapping the cuffs on Ms. Sheehan.
Capitol Police dropped a charge of unlawful conduct against anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan on Wednesday and apologized for ejecting her and a congressman's wife from President Bush's State of the Union address for wearing T-shirts with war messages.

"The officers made a good faith, but mistaken effort to enforce an old unwritten interpretation of the prohibitions about demonstrating in the Capitol," Capitol Police Chief Terrance Gainer said in a statement late Wednesday.
So, they're sorry that they hustled the two women out of the Capitol so precipitously.

As apologetic as they are, the police still didn't allow them to make their presence known while the smirking chimp was speaking. Personally, I'd sue the bastards for all they're worth.