Monday, July 31, 2006



I think Bobby Abreu is a very good player, and is probably under-rated offensively when one considers everything he brings to the table. But twice last night I heard NY news reports refer to him as a "slugger".

Here is a list of the National Leaguers around him on the slugging percentage leader board.

Jimmy Rollins
Aaron Rowand
Craig Biggio
Jose Castillo
Jamie Carroll
Conor Jackson

I'm sure Abreu will somehow capture the "Yankee magic" and pick up the home run pace (which currently has him at 8 for the year). But can we please not call him a slugger? On-base machine, yes. Five tools player, yes. Slugger? No!

WiFi for all


Of note:
Boston will tap a nonprofit corporation to blanket the city with "open access" wireless Internet connections, under a plan to be unveiled today by Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

The plan, which envisions raising $16 million to $20 million from local businesses and foundations, is a striking departure from the business models used by other cities, including Philadelphia and San Francisco, which have turned over responsibility for their wireless data networks to outside companies such as Earthlink Inc. and Google Inc.

By empowering an independent organization to own and operate the city's WiFi, or wireless fidelity, network, Boston is hoping to keep control of the technology deployment and use it to spur innovation, improve city services, and extend wireless Internet access into low-income neighborhoods across the so-called digital divide. WiFi allows laptops, handheld computers, cellphones, music players, and other devices to connect to the Internet at high speeds via radio waves.
This is an appealing plan not least because it'll decrease "the so-called digital divide." This is exactly what's needed in these days of inaccurate information and spin.

Of course, in a setup like this, where there's a third party involved as carrier, there's always the threat of the entity filtering information in some way, thus destroying the ideal of net neutrality. Of course, cretins like Ted Stevens see no problem in abridging such neutrality since it'll help them retain their sacred positions in the federal government.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

That was then ...


Atrios wonders why it is that Senator Sanctimony was opposed to the Vietnam War and now supports the debacle in Iraq. It's really quite simple and is the same reason why Holy Joe is so enthused about Israel bombing the spit out of Lebanon: The answer is spelled A-I-P-A-C.

AIPAC contributed nearly a quarter million dollars to Connecticut's junior senator in the last three elections. It's an open question as to how much he's received for 2006.

More on the Mideast


Josh Marshall points to an article in the Jerusalem Post wherein it's reported that
[Israeli] Defense officials told the Post last week that they were receiving indications from the United States that the US would be interested in seeing Israel attack Syria.
Needless to say, with the Bushies' poll ratings regarding a certain Mideast invasion in the toilet, it's not the "United States" that's "interested in seeing Israel attack Syria." Rather, it's the United States' executive branch.

And, indeed, this has been pretty much the Bush modus operandi from day one: to let others do their fighting for them. And, of course, the US has no personnel to spare in any additional Mideast military actions.

Superstitious Savages


More bad news from the Mideast this morning.
An Israeli airstrike killed at least 50 people—more than half children—in a southern Lebanese village Sunday, the deadliest attack in 19 days of fighting. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice postponed a visit to Lebanon in a setback for diplomatic efforts to end hostilities.
Apparently, Condi wants to go to Jerusalem to try to cool down the Israelis.
Rice said she was "deeply saddened by the terrible loss of innocent life" in Israel's attack. But she did not call for an immediate cease-fire in the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah militias.

"We all recognize this kind of warfare is extremely difficult," Rice said, noting it comes in areas where civilians live. "It unfortunately has awful consequences sometimes."
In other words, in the words of that grandiloquent military strategist, Donald H. Rumsfeld, "Stuff happens."
"We want a cease-fire as soon as possible," [Rice] added.

The United States and Israel are pressing for a settlement that addresses enduring issues between Lebanon and Israel and disables Hezbollah—not the quick truce favored by most world leaders.
The latter two statements certainly contradict each other, don't they? If the US is so fervid about getting "a cease-fire as soon as possible," why is it stalling "for a settlement that addresses enduring issues"? This is just another apocalyptic vision by Dear Leader who keeps hoping for the end of days in his lifetime.

Meanwhile, the slaughter of innocents continues all in the name of gods whose adherents believe that such murders are sanctioned by their deities. At least animals kill for a reason—for self-defense, or procreation, or turf. The fanatics in the Middle East kill because they believe their chimerical gods will it.

And certainly, our benighted leaders in Washington buy into these fantasies.

The Courant Endorses Lieberman


In a nutshell: We lose the junior senator at our state's peril.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Sacre Bleu!


Query: What do France and Iran have in common? They both have language police.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered government and cultural bodies to use modified Persian words to replace foreign words that have crept into the language, such as "pizzas" which will now be known as "elastic loaves," state media reported Saturday.

The presidential decree, issued earlier this week, orders all governmental agencies, newspapers and publications to use words deemed more appropriate by the official language watchdog, the Farhangestan Zaban e Farsi, or Persian Academy ...

Among other changes, a "chat" will become a "short talk" and a "cabin" will be renamed a "small room," according to [the] official Web site of the academy.
As much as our dogmatic leaders want to stop internationals from breaching our borders, if there's one thing the US has learned it's that you can't stop language seepage. Of course, in his quest for cultural purity, the benighted Ahmadinejad is totally oblivious to that phenomenon. Perhaps the country should put up a wall around its borders.

Friday, July 28, 2006

It's not the heat ...


In these dog days of summer, I'm always cognizant of the dew point. If it's going to be above 65°, I know I'll really be uncomfortable. At any rate, the numbers show just how insufferable the summer has been.
According to the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC) at Cornell, in 13 major Northeast cities last week, high dew points exceeded the design dew points -- meaning that the humidity exceeded the engineering specifications of air-conditioning systems, causing them to operate inefficiently, use more energy and lessen their cooling effect ...

Not only has the Northeast seen high dew points, but they have persisted for weeks. So far this season, Albany, N.Y., and Pittsburgh have set new records for the number of days with 70-degree or higher dew points: Albany with 20 days, and Pittsburgh with 26 days ...

"Generally speaking, this is the Northeast's first hot summer in three years, marked by the return of the dominance of the Bermuda High," said Dan Graybeal, a research climatologist at the NRCC. The warm humid air flowing into the Northeast from the south has been exacerbated by muggy air created by moisture from decaying tropical storms -- Arlene and Dennis -- as they diminished over the Mississippi and Ohio river valleys. The storm remnants were carried over the region, bringing thunderstorms and high humidity. "These high dew points do not stem from local moisture sources, as much of the region has been drier than normal in rainfall this season," Graybeal said.
Just something to consider as we struggle through the next few days of 90°+ weather.

Another Republican Reprobate


In the midst of all the Israel-Lebanon excitement—and Dear Leader's execrable attempts to justify it all—yet another Bush appointee has been shown to be a lowlife (and I'm not even talking about John Bolton).
Members of Congress expressed concern [last] Friday about an arrangement under which Michael O. Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, took more than $1 million in tax deductions for property contributed to a family foundation that gave only small amounts to charity in its first four years.
But now it seems things are getting even slimier.
Starting in 2003, the Dixie and Anne Leavitt Foundation began passing on the Leavitt family’s charitable donations to another charity, the Southern Utah Foundation. This was money designated for a housing scholarship program at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, boyhood home of HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt and home base for the Leavitt family’s ranching, real estate and insurance businesses.

The program also received funds directly from Leavitt Land and Investment. Together, the Leavitt company and the Leavitt Foundation put $578,500 in the housing scholarship program. And the Leavitts got all that money back. The needy students were placed in housing units owned by Cedar Development Company, another Leavitt family business.

This means that the Leavitt entities contributed more than a half-million dollars, received tax deductions for that amount, and then got the money bank.
While such a sweetheart setup appears to be legal, it stinks to high Heaven. Or, as Rick Cohen of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy puts it, “It looks very suspect when the source of the money is the Leavitts, and the beneficiary of the payments of the housing money is also the Leavitts.”

It's a rare week when a Bushie isn't apprehended doing something incredibly stupid, or illegal, or immoral, or some combination of all three. I'm not entirely pleased that the quota was met this week.

World Trade?


Do you trade Lastings Milledge for Barry Zito? I'm completely torn on this. On the one hand, the Mets are probably the only team that can get Zito from the A's and he would be a huge improvement in the rotation and greatly increase the odds of getting to the World Series. Then again, I hate the idea of trading our studs. I want to win the World Series and don't think we will with our current staff but hate the idea of losing someone with an upside like Milledge.

This is why a fan can not be a GM.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Yellow jersey


I wish I could say this surprises me:
Tour de France champion Floyd Landis tested positive for high levels of testosterone during the race, his Phonak team said Thursday on its Web site.

The statement came a day after the UCI, cycling's world governing body, said an unidentified rider had failed a drug test during the Tour ...

The Swiss-based Phonak team said it was notified by the UCI on Wednesday that Landis' sample showed "an unusual level of testosterone/epitestosterone" when he was tested after stage 17 of the race last Thursday.

Landis made a remarkable comeback in that Alpine stage, racing far ahead of the field for a solo win that moved him from 11th to third in the overall standings. He regained the leader's yellow jersey two days later.
Despite others' effusions, I wondered (given all the drug news prior to this year's Tour de France) after Landis's superhuman effort in the 17th stage whether it could have been done naturally. It appears to have turned out that it couldn't.

The US's interest in this year's Tour was minimal. This episode may cause the death of interest in the event on this side of the Atlantic.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Not listed on


So, what is the best job in New York? Some might say it is mayor, as you can be a daily positive force in the greatest city in the world. Others might argue that being a DJ at Score's is the best job, or maybe the Sommelier at a restaurant like Per Se, or the guy who changes the colored lights on the Empire State Building, or analyst of pharmaceuticals and biotech which I hear is a lot of fun.

But to me, the best job in New York is whatever the hell Carl Pavano's job is.
Let's review.

Salary: $8,000,000
Office location: Home dugout, Yankee Stadium.
Job demands: Occasionally throw a baseball. Tell someone it hurts. Rest.
Job perks: Front row seat to all games; occasionally play wingman to Derek Jeter (I'm only guessing, Carl must have skills considering he dated Alyssa Milano).
Job risks: Bruised left buttocks. Getting in way of random rage of Randy Johnson or Gary Sheffield. Getting booed, if anyone actually could recognize that you are still a member of the team.

Seriously, it doesn't get much better than that. Get paid millions to sit around and watch baseball games. My submission for the best job in New York.

Always room for one more


The rebirth of my interest in soccer came from me starting to watch and follow the English Premier League (EPL), which helped me really get into the World Cup. I realize for most people it's the other way around, and I'm sure everyone is shocked - SHOCKED - that it wasn't MLS that rekindled the flame.

Anyway, a couple years late but still admirably, ESPN's Sports Guy has decided that he has been missing out, and invited readers to recommend which team he should throw his support behind. Kind of a fun task when you have no geographical or historical reason to root for any team, and you can start from scratch.

You can read all about his selection process and see the early cuts here. Actually, when he first announced the task, I predicted three teams that he would choose between, and in the end those were his final 3. You can read about his final decision here.

The nice thing for me is, while Simmons has been one of my favorite writers in part because of his focus on the Red Sox, Patriots, and Celtics, he somehow went ahead and picked my EPL team as well. So, for those that want to know just what he's talking about when he writes the occasional column on the EPL this year, there is plenty of room on the bandwagon!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

"A Bizarre Religious Cult Called 'Congregationalism'"


Mrs. Monocle and I are off to Maine for a few days. In my absence, you can mull over this, which tells you everything you need to know about the current state of Connecticut's politics.

Israel, Hezbollah, etc.


Digby explains all we need to know about the current doings in the Mideast—including this gem:
I honestly think that ... is part of what's motivating the warmongers. As with their last epic failure, Vietnam, they believe their hands have been tied by a bunch of liberal generals and a pansy-ass populace who refuse to let them fight the way they need to fight. They see the Israelis as their personal Rottweilers and they want to let them off the chain.

The Israelis should ask themselves if they really want to do George W. Bush's dirty work for him. I continue to suspect they did not expect that the US would give them the green light on this (it is insane, after all) and now they have no face saving way out. America did not do its job and now things are deteriorating beyond anyone's control.

Friday, July 21, 2006



The Courant is awash in state political news this morning. First, in a story that Atrios will no doubt eventually highlight,
A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday morning showed that [Democratic senatorial challenger Ned] Lamont has turned a 15 percentage point deficit six weeks ago into a 51-47 percent lead among likely Democratic voters.
I've got to think that just about everyone could see this (or something like it) coming. With Holy Joe threatening to bolt the party at the drop of a hat, Democrats would no doubt be a bit irked at his cavalier attitude. This poll demonstrates their dissatisfaction.

And in another Senate-related story, it appears that the Republican challenger has forgotten about a few financial skeletons in his closet.
When Alan Schlesinger gave a fake name while playing blackjack at Foxwoods in the early 1990s, he had already been sued over a gambling debt by one Atlantic City casino and was on the way to racking up an even bigger debt that led to a second lawsuit.
Mr. Gold Schlesinger apparently has suffered a memory lapse regarding this episode.
When asked about his gambling debts Thursday, Schlesinger initially said he had "no recollection" of ever owing any Atlantic City casinos money and denied he had been sued by the casinos.

When confronted with the case numbers of the lawsuits, Schlesinger said he remembered settling some debts with two casinos but claimed he never was served any legal papers or had to go to court in Atlantic City.

"I vaguely remember there was some controversy surrounding what I owed the two casinos and I stopped payment on the checks, but they were both settled without ever going to court," Schlesinger said.

However, court records show that Boardwalk Regency Corp., owner of Caesar's Palace, filed a lawsuit against Schlesinger on June 12, 1989, claiming he owed $8,800. Schlesinger settled the case on May 21, 1990, by paying Caesar's $10,211, including interest.
So, the Republicans at this point are left with a candidate who's either a compulsive gambler or demented (or both). Needless to say, this isn't going to weaken Governor Clubwoman's resolve to get the guy off the ticket.

Which leads us to a possibility ... More than one blog (and Connecticut's newspaper of record) is wondering whether or not now's the time for Senator Sanctimony to drop the mask and run as the Republican he truly is. Given his recreant nature, it's a possibility he's doubtless ruminating upon.

UPDATE — CTBlogger discusses this situation more fully.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Sporting Goods

The New York media is absolutely killing A-Rod these days. He's been slumping and he gets paid a lot so that seems like a good enough reason. I actually love seeing Yankee fans boo A-Rod because, it seems to me, the more the fans boo, the worse A-Rod plays. It is great.

Despite drawing the ire of Yankee fans, it is obvious that A-Rod is one of the best players in the game. That being said, Brian Cashman's defense of his golden boy is a little laughable:
"It's just unbelievable to me that there's so much focus on Alex Rodriguez," said Cashman. "He's having the same season as David Wright of the Mets. He's just not getting the same love because of the money he makes."
Really, Brian? Did A-Rod just finish second in the Home-run derby? Did A-Rod homer in the all-star game on a national stage?

And let's do a little statistical comparison.

A-Rod - AVG .285 | HR 20 | RBI 68 | OBP .387 | SLG .506
Wright - AVG .317 | HR 21 | RBI 79 | OBP .389 | SLG .575

Wright has a higher average, a much higher slugging percentage and more RBI.

Hmm? These numbers aren't all extraordiarily different but it is certainly not "the same season." Maybe it will end up that way, but it isn't yet.

Anything else?

A-Rod has 6 more errors at third-base.

Anything else?

There is also that clutch hitting thing. Wright had a walk-off double against Mariano Rivera to cement a 5 run comeback. A-Rod? Well, if you don't know, just read the NY papers. For a more statistical view let's look at their batting averages in "close and late" situations: A-Rod - .180; Wright - .323.

Wright is certainly not A-Rod but he is certainly having a better season.

Plus, Wright isn't an ass.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hey, Veto!


I think our esteemed president, and those who voted against the recent stem cell bill, should put their money where their mouths are, and save millions of lives by "adopting" every frozen embryo that was going to be destroyed anyway, and now is also not available to do research.

Of course, then I suppose that in 20 years we'd have an army of anti-science fundamentalists overrunning the streets, so maybe that isn't a good idea. But then again, NEITHER IS VETOING THIS BILL for the reason given by the White House spokesman, that it is “taking something that is living and making it dead for the purpose of research.”

Won't someone think of the frozen, about to be discarded embryos?!?!?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Did I Read That Right?


The New Yorker is getting a little frisky. Or else my head truly lives in the gutter. From Anthony Lane's review of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest:
"...the lower half of (villain Davy) Jones’s face is composed of moist, writhing tentacles, so dexterous that they can play the keys of an organ. I don’t know if there is a Mrs. Jones, but if there is she must be a contented woman.
That is a cunnilingus joke isn't it?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Like a Record, Baby


In case you missed it, there was a very good piece on Mets Geek about the historic paces that Reyes, Beltran, Wright, and Delgado are on for the Mets. You can read the piece here.

The most interesting part of the story, to me, is the shortstop related records that appear to be set to fall.

First off, Jose Reyes is having a tremendous year. He is on pace to break single-season Mets records for runs, steals, and triples in a season. In case you were wondering if Reyes is fast.

But the more impressive thing is that Reyes is on pace to break Mets shortstop records in the following categories: batting average, slugging, total bases, runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, rbis, and steals, as well as saber-stats OPS and runs created. Wow.

I remember when I was in college, Sports Illustrated ran an article about how the Mets have never been able to feature (for any length of time) any decent third-basemen. HoJo was really it. But since Fonzie, Ventura, and Wright have all put in some quality seasons, shortstop has now become the position that makes you shake your head looking back.

To illustrate, just check out some of the previous Met shortstop records:
Batting average: .287 by Jose Vizcaino
Home runs: 10! by Kevin Elster and one other.
RBI: 60 by Rey freakin' Ordonez
Slugging: .396 by Kaz Matsui (which would be good for 72nd out of 90 qualified batters in the NL this year)

Not to mention, the Mets SS on-base percentage record was set in 1962, and we all know how good the Mets were back then.

I guess it makes sense, I can't think of any good hitting Mets shortstops, but I didn't imagine the drought went back that long. Jose Reyes is about to be printed all over the Mets record book. At least that will be erasing a lot of Kaz Matsui in the process.

Monday Cat Blogging


(If the big guns can do it, so can I.)

Here's our cat-of-very-little-brain, Sam, finding a sunny spot on this day of heat indices in the hundreds. He's pretty much ensconced himself in this spot for the past few infernal days. No doubt he can't understand why he's so uncomfortable.

UPDATE — Yes, I'm aware that this self-indulgent post probably is antithetical to the sentiment of its predecessor. To quote Whitman:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

The New Wave


Atrios, Pandagon, and others have started what are being called in the blogosphere YouTube Wars wherein the aforementioned bloggers highlight dreadful music videos on their sites.

Here's hoping that this yawnful fad dies a quick death.

Virtual Government


From today's Frank Rich:
[T]he administration has fiddled in Iraq while Islamic radicalism has burned brighter and the rest of the Axis of Evil, not to mention Afghanistan and the Middle East, have grown into just the gathering threat that Saddam was not. And there's still no policy. As Ivo Daalder of the Brookings Institution writes on his foreign-affairs blog, Mr. Bush isn't pursuing diplomacy in his post-cowboy phase so much as "a foreign policy of empty gestures" consisting of "strong words here; a soothing telephone call and hasty meetings there." The ambition is not to control events but "to kick the proverbial can down the road -- far enough so the next president can deal with it." There is no plan for victory in Iraq, only a wish and a prayer that the apocalypse won't arrive before Mr. Bush retires to his ranch.
As Rich says in his conclusion, "It's not only cowboy diplomacy that's dead at this point in the Bush era, but also functioning democracy as we used to know it."

It's unclear whether the US will ever be able to rebound from this status. Josh Marshall certainly isn't sure.

Christian Sectarianism


Readers of this blog know that, while possessing no faith myself, I'm nevertheless interested in how people demonstrate theirs. This morning's Courant contains a lollapalooza.
The Republican primary fight for the right to challenge U.S. Rep. John B. Larson, D-1st District, in November has turned on religion with challenger Miriam Masullo attacking the religious denomination of the GOP's endorsed candidate, Scott MacLean.

In a recent letter to the district's Republican leaders, Masullo accused the leadership of the United Church of Christ of supporting terrorists and suicide bombings. And because MacLean is a retired minister in the church, Republicans should reject him in the Aug. 8 primary, Masullo said.
Now, being a pledge-paying member of the UCC, I have to take a certain amount of umbrage at being labeled a follower of those who support terrorists and suicide bombings. (The fact that Ms. Masullo likely belongs to a church whose leaders have gone beyond supporting acts of of terrorism to actually committing such acts themselves is probably not worthy of mention.) It all has to do with one's definition of Christianity, I suppose. It's apparently too much to bear for Ms. Masullo that UCC ministers have the temerity to actually love their enemies.

It goes without saying that I'm a real suspect these days. I've been identified as a radical militant by the FBI, a member of a terrorist organization by a federal cabinet member, and now a follower of those who support terrorists and suicide bombings. To borrow a phrase, I've hit the trifecta. I'm sure it's just a matter of time before my full face and profile will appear in a post office near you.

The US citizenry and media continue to pat themselves on their respective backs because they believe that this country doesn't have the kind of sectarian antipathy Iraqi Muslims too often evince. Attitudes such as the one reported in this story may necessitate a re-evaluation of that position.

Friday, July 14, 2006



Some observations from SNY's rebroadcast of the Mets 3-2 victory over Atlanta on September 21, 2001. As you may remember, it was the first baseball game played in NYC after the 9/11 attacks.
  • The great Bobby Valentine screaming his head off at the end of Diana Ross' rendition of "God Bless America."
  • The Mets wearing NYPD and NYFD hats instead of their normal caps.
  • Ken Caminiti starting at third base for Atlanta.
  • A spry 42-year-old Julio Franco playing in his first season back in the MLB after being exiled to Japan and Mexico.
  • "U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!"
  • Rudy Giuliani, at the height of his popularity, watching from behind home plate.
  • Police and firemen dancing behind Liza Minelli's singing "New York, New York" during the 7th inning stretch.
  • Mike Piazza crushing a low-and-away pitch off the camera stand for a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning.
Without a doubt, it was one of the most emotional home runs I have ever seen. For the fans at Shea, it wasn't just exciting, it was cathartic. I remember getting choked up when I saw it in '01 and I couldn't help getting choked up again last night.

On to Tehran!


Kevin Drum ably summarizes the hubbub surrounding the possibility of Iran's involvement in the latest Mideast crisis. Quoting from Laura Rozen, Drum avers
"The Israelis claim this is all planned by Iran and Syria via Hamas and Hezbollah. And the fact is that both groups have said that they were not responding to the recent killing of civilians in Gaza but that their elaborate kidnapping plots were in the works for months, which the Israelis claim dates to a summit between Assad and Ahmadinejad in Damascus in January. This might be a little too neat but expect the drumbeat against Tehran's terrorism sponsoring to escalate as the nuke issue heats up ..."
This is exactly the kind of gossip the Bushies have fallen for in the past (remember Ahmed Chalabi?) as they create a half fast policy to wrap around their preconceived ambitions.

This sequence is following an all-too-familiar pattern: Identify a "dangerous entity," and then doctor evidence to "prove" that the enemy must be attacked. The sabers are rattling in Washington, but this is just another ridiculous scenario for the Bushies to screw up and then walk away from.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Anchorman Nightmare


Page Six reported a Ron Burgundy moment for a CNBC anchorman Joe Kernan. Apparently, either someone played a game with the teleprompter or someone is just an idiot since here’s what he said on air when doing a round up of the weekend box office:

"Disney was the big winner . . . 'Pirates' plunders the box office, making $132 million in its first three days at the box office. The previous three-day record was 'Aquaman' at $120-plus, which beat out the $115 million which was set back by 'Spider-Man' back in May of '02.' "

Wish I'd seen it to see if there was any question in his mind when he finished. Too bad he didn't recover with a "You stay classy San Diego."

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Code orange! Code orange!


The Republicans' strategy for the next four months is clearly to try to scare the bejabbers out of the American electorate. This way, they can set themselves up as the party that can be depended upon in a security crisis. For those who miss the frenetic John Ashcroft, these must be wonderful times.

We've seen this approach in action recently with the arrest of the so-called Miami Seven and the story that terrorists were about to blow up New York's Holland Tunnell, killing many motorists and paralyzing traffic in lower Manhattan. Now, it appears this heinous plan may not have been so serious after all.
[A]uthorities said there was no evidence that the plotters had taken any actions, such as buying explosives or sending money. They cast doubt on the feasibility of initial reports, which first appeared in the New York Daily News, that terrorists sought to flood Lower Manhattan and the Financial District by bombing tunnels.

There were conflicting assessments among U.S. counterterrorism officials about the significance of the alleged plot.

Two U.S. counterterrorism officials, speaking on the condition that their names and agencies not be identified because the FBI is the government's lead agency, discounted the ability of the conspirators to carry out an attack.

One said the alleged plot was "not as far along" as described and was "more aspirational in nature." The other described the threat as "jihadi bravado," adding "somebody talks about tunnels, it lights people up," but that there was little activity to back up the talk.
This turns out to be, like the Miami incident, just some bozos blowing smoke. (In their own way, these incidents aren't entirely unlike the Bushies' pre-Iraqi invasion bellicose posturing.)

At any rate, we can be assured that we'll see more of this threat→government and media hysteria→realization of lack of a threat cycle at least through election day.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

An exciting night


And the game is afoot.

Tonight's debate between Connecticut's Democratic candidates for Senate was better than anyone could've hoped for. Both candidates got into the swing of things, and the neophyte certainly held his own. In fact, it's pretty clear that the neophyte "won" the debate.

The incumbent was angry, arrogant, whiny, and petulant—certainly no surprise to those of us who've seen this act too many times, but apparently a big surprise to those who viewed the colloquy on C-Span and MSNBC.

There are commentaries on the debate all over the web; this one is at least as good as any.

The next month is going to be a lot of fun, no matter what curmudgeon, and non-Connecticut resident, Kevin Drum says.

Snakes on a Plane: The One-Sheet


The poster on the left is the official American one-sheet for Snakes on a Plane. The one on the right is the official French poster. Without a doubt, I like the French on better. I especially love how Fat Albert is sitting there calmly watching a garter snake slither across his arm while everyone on the other side of the aisle is screaming bloody murder. If you're going to throw all your cards on the table and announce to your audience that the movie is completely tongue-in-cheek, then this is the way to do it. The American one doesn't even have a snake on it for God's sake! I can imagine the discussions among the suits at New Line and some sort of lame "not everyone likes snakes and they may be turned off by seeing them on the poster" argument. Uhh buddy, the movie is called Snakes on a Plane. I don't think they're going to be coming no matter how many snakes they see in the advertising. Personally, I liked the way they undersold the premise with the teaser poster but if I had to pick, I like this unofficial T-shirt best.

Samuel L. Jackson was nominated for an Oscar in 1994. That seems like a long time ago.


Sporting Goods

In what is likely my last World Cup post, did anyone find the images of one million Germans assembled, waving flags, and chanting, just a little bit frightening?

One of the commentators pointed out that since World War II, nationalism in Germany had really been downplayed as much as possible. But, the country's success in hosting the World Cup and reaching the semifinals has brought patriotism back in Germany.

I'd say their neighbors may want to start stockpiling weapons ... just in case.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

When in the course ...


What I have to say about this day I said three years ago, in the midst of Dear Leader's "bring 'em on" bloviating and when all of the nonsense associated with the Iraq invasion could only be guessed at. (Although, if I do say so myself, I'd already done a pretty good job of guessing by then.)

Anyway, for a trip down memory lane, take a look here and here.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Le Parti, c'est moi


Senator Sanctimony has decided that this whole primary idea is too democratic, and so he's announced
that his reelection campaign will take out petitions to get his name on the November ballot as an independent—just in case challenger Ned Lamont beats him in an Aug. 8 Democratic primary.
Needless to say, this shows just how gutless and arrogant Connecticut's junior senator is. He announced his decision because he wants
"the opportunity to put my case before all the people of Connecticut in November. They after all have the voters who have been good enough to elect me to the Senate," he said.
In other words, he's pretty much thrown in the towel when it comes to Democratic voters. That alone speaks volumes about his allegiance to the party. It also means that only one actual Democrat will be running in the August 8 primary, and his first name won't be Joe.

As usual, Holy Joe wants to have it both ways. He's chosen to portray his candidacy as "an independent Democrat." Riiiiiight. No matter how you slice it, it's still baloney. Once again, it's really all about Joe.

I see that the latest very unscientific Channel 3 poll has Lieberman trailing LaMont 96%-4% (with over 2400 respondents) to the question: If the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate were held today, which candidate would receive your vote? Clearly, Dems aren't happy about this transparent egomania. I can only hope that Republicans and independent voters see this ruse for what it is: a desperate attempt to hold onto power by a sanctimonious toady.

Jane Hamsher discusses this travesty much better than I can.

UPDATE — Josh Marshall points out why this decision by Holy Joe is so self-defeating.

All Star Whining


I enjoy watching the MLB All-Star game, and probably even more than that I like seeing who gets picked and who doesn't, both by the fans and the players and managers.

But my least favorite part of the process is the inevitable columns and radio rants from various know-it-alls who suggest that since the fans don't pick the "perfect team" every year, then they should lose the right to vote.

Today in the NY Times (no link since it's Times select), William Rhoden puts together a great example of such a column, using the genius who is Willie Randolph as his primary supporter.

I'm not really sure what the main gripe is (from either William or Willie), as there appear to be several: Fans stuff the ballots, players get rewarded for past performance, players don't get rewarded for past performance, and players get voted in even if they don't like their position.

The argument: Fans stuff the ballot boxes. (Jason Bay cited as the example)
The Pittsburgh Pirates, who are hosting the game this year, stink. They give their fans little to cheer for, but gave their fans an open plea to vote for Jason Bay. They were able to vote him in, with the help of knowledgable fans and even writers (who talked up what a good season he was having). Jason Bay followed up his 30-20 season of last year (where he had an OPS of .960), by hitting 20 HRs so far this year while posting an OPS of .930. Last I checked, Ken Griffey, Jr. was the third NL outfielder by the voting. No explanation as to why Bay getting voted in is a problem.

The argument: It's a popularity contest, where players get rewarded for past performance. (No specific examples provided)
The argument: Players don't get rewarded for past performance (No specific examples provided)
I've lumped these together, as somehow the article makes both arguments. So either it is a problem that Manny Ramirez, Ichiro, Vlad Guerrero, David Ortiz, and A-Rod get voted in, OR it's a problem that David Wright, Jose Reyes, Chase Utley, and Jason Bay get in. I'm not sure which is more offensive to Mr. Rhoden, Mike Mussina, and Willie Randolph.

Yes, Joe Mauer probably deserved to make it over Ivan Rodriguez (and Mauer was picked as a reserve, as I'll note that fans only select 18 of the 60 or so All-Stars), but as Willie says "I think if you ... have been a perennial All-Star, even if you have somewhat of a slow start before the All-Star break, I think you should still make it if you are the best at the position." Pudge is a sure-fire Hall of Famer, is having the 3rd best season among catchers by Win Shares, so yeah I guess he should go. But Mike Mussina says "The [position players] earn their way maybe two years ago or three years ago." Hmm, I'm confused, the argument kind of goes both ways. Now I don't know which is better. But obviously, the way to solve that conundrum is by taking away the fan vote.

The argument: Players get voted in even if they don't like their position. (Willie's genius statements about why Alfonso Soriano shouldn't have been voted in).
Alfonso Soriano, he of the 24 home runs and 18 steals in a pitcher's park, "might be a second baseman next year when he's a free agent. That's why I don't think the fans should vote, because they don't really know." Get it fans? You're stupid, and Willie is smart, See, he doesn't want a guy who is on pace to hit 40 homers and steal 30 bases, because the guy will probably be a second baseman next year, and didn't even want to play the outfield back in spring training. "They don't know talent, they don't know who can really play." See, Willie knows talent, and apparently Soriano doesn't have it. Yes, Soriano, who is 4th in Win Shares of National Leaguers, has no talent and can't really play.

In the end, Rhoden decides that players and managers should pick the whole teams. Even though the one player and one manager he cites can't seem to agree on the standard for picking All-Stars, and even though the manager thinks that a player's positional prefences are more important than statistics, it's the fans who shouldn't be able to pick who they watch in their mid-season exhibition game. See, doesn't it make perfect sense?

Mark Loretta shouldn't have made it because there are too many Red Sox fans. Jason Bay shouldn't have made it because Pittsburgh wanted him to play. Pudge shouldn't make it because he is mostly making it on his past performance, but David Wright shouldn't make it because he hasn't been doing it year in and year out. And then Alfonso Soriano shouldn't make it because he doesn't love being a leftfielder.

The bottom line for all of these arguments, unfortunately, is that the author or radio host, or manager, or player who wants the fans to lose their right to vote, just wishes that they could pick the whole team. Until the day when the All-Star team is the 30 players that they wanted, the whole process is flawed. But hey, it gives them something to rant about every 4th of July weekend.

In closing though, I'll note that while this is an annual argument, the new wrinkle this year is brought to us by the Mets' manager. I'll just point out that Vegas would probably put good odds on Randolph being the manager of the NL All-Stars next year. Who knows, maybe his selections would be enough for writers to make the case that fans should vote for all of the players after all.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

From Digby


I think I've said this before:
I swear, my generation is intent upon living out its lifespan like the movie Groundhog Day. We just keep doing the same stupid stuff over and over and over again.
May the next generation fare better.

Happy Independence Day.