Friday, September 29, 2006

Hero Worship

SPORTING GOODS

Happy 57th birthday to perhaps my favorite baseball player of all time, Hall of Famer Michael Jack Schmidt.

Smitty has a new book out wherein he discusses baseball in the steroid era. It's received excellent reviews. Cripes ... 548 career homers and a writer to boot. A true Renaissance Man.

American Idiots

MANIFESTO

As far as I'm concerned, the United States isn't the United States any more.
Included in the [military trials] bill, passed by Republican majorities in the Senate yesterday and the House on Wednesday, are unique rules that bar terrorism suspects from challenging their detention or treatment through traditional habeas corpus petitions. They allow prosecutors, under certain conditions, to use evidence collected through hearsay or coercion to seek criminal convictions.

The bill rejects the right to a speedy trial and limits the traditional right to self-representation by requiring that defendants accept military defense attorneys. Panels of military officers need not reach unanimous agreement to win convictions, except in death penalty cases, and appeals must go through a second military panel before reaching a federal civilian court ...

[T]he bill immunizes U.S. officials from prosecution for cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees who the military and the CIA captured before the end of last year. It gives the president a dominant ... role in setting the rules for future interrogations of terrorism suspects.
I see no reason to feel that any good can possibly come from this.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Old friends

SPORTING GOODS

Because it's not bad enough seeing your team completely tank in August and have nothing to play for in September, let's take a look around at some recent Red Sox castaways. Since there are so many of them spread around the majors, let's focus on the NL only, allowing us to spare ourselves from looking at Johnny Damon's numbers.

Freddy Sanchez is batting .346 (best in the NL) with 85 RBI this year, while playing a solid 3B, 2B, and SS. The Sox traded him for Jeff Suppan and Brandon Lyon.
They also traded Mike Gonzalez in that deal, who has 24 saves and a 2.17 ERA this year.
Nomar has a .306 batting average, and a .511 slugging percentage, to go with 20 HR and 93 RBI in a pitcher's park.
Dave Roberts is batting .293 with 47 steals.
Hanley Ramirez is batting .292 with 51 steals and a .835 OPS. As a shortstop.
Scott Hatteberg has a .831 OPS.
Edgar Renteria? .291, 16 steals, 13 homers.
Josh Bard has a .945 OPS and is batting .335
Bronson Arroyo 14-10 with a 3.27 ERA (4th best in the NL)
Derek Lowe is 16-8 with the 10th best ERA In the NL
Cla Meredith has given up 4 runs in 49 innings. He was a throw-in in the Bard for Mirabelli (average: .190) trade.
Anibal Sanchez is 10-3 with a 2.83 ERA.

Why can't the Red Sox get players like that?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ingenuousness

MANIFESTO

I can't say I'm convinced when Dear Leader lectures the US on naiveté. After petulantly releasing a grand total of four of thirty pages of the disastrous NIE report (all of which are meant to counter the argument that the invasion of Iraq really hasn't caused an increase in the attraction of terrorism), the logician of the West Wing spoke thusly:
"To suggest that if we weren't in Iraq we would see a rosier scenario, with fewer extremists joining the radical movement, requires us to ignore 20 years of experience [of terror attacks], I think it is naive."
Typical straw man crapola: The report doesn't say that fewer extremists would have joined the radical movement absent an Iraq invasion. Rather, it says that more already have joined because of the foolishness in Iraq. A Yalie should be able to see the difference.

It's the Downing Street memo all over again: If you don't like the facts, reject them. If the facts don't line up with a preconceived notion, see that they're changed. This is, after all, the administration that brags about creating its own reality.

I think we can pretty much figure out who's being naive.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

National Insecurity

MANIFESTO

So Chertoff and his gang of dervishes have decided that maybe ChapStik isn't such a security risk after all. This whole episode (and let us remember its ridiculous origins) is so representative of the feigned hysteria of the fearmongers that it'd be laughable if it weren't so tedious.

Staying the course

MANIFESTO

Yesterday was a big day in Connecticut politics as Gorgeous George dropped by for a visit with his fellow oligarchs, and Senator Sanctimony stated his plan for Iraq for the thousandth time.
[Lieberman's] great Iraq policy unveiling was more of the same. Lies, flip-flops, and wishful thinking (remember the "good plan" for victory in Iraq?). More enabling of the absolutely disastrous war.
The Courant's front page calls the East Hampton speech a "major address," but for the life of me I can't see anything major or, for that matter, new in it.

Bravo!

MANIFESTO

John Dickerson on Sunday's Wallace-Clinton colloquy:
Bill Clinton has provided us with this week's partisan sorting mechanism. If you are a right-winger, you see his outburst over charges that he didn't do enough to kill Osama Bin Laden as an overheated act of public ass-covering. You're also likely to react to his criticisms about the Bush administration by rushing to the inevitable safe ground: sex jokes. A Fox News anchor helpfully pointed out that he hadn't seen Clinton that angry since he denied having sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. For the left-wingers, the video showed Chris Wallace to be a partisan Fox News hack who wanted to sandbag Clinton. Wallace's questions were within the bounds of the interview's ground rules and were fair enough (though he weaseled by saying it was viewers who wanted him to ask Clinton about Bin Laden).
It's true and is the reason I purposely didn't listen to Rush's natterings yesterday. I'm sure he went ballistic over the "crazed" response of our 42nd president.

So it goes.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dog bites man

MANIFESTO

In a leaked classified doucument, Americans this morning are finding out that
the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.
I think we all knew this.

The NIE represents the opinions of all 16 intelligence agencies. Interestingly, the report had to be approved by Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte, a vulcan apologist if ever there was one.

The Repubs are pinning all of their November hopes on national security. (The word "Iraq" has been expunged from their campaign vocabulary.) This report doesn't seem to show they're doing a particularly good job even in this regard.

Michael Lewis

Sporting Goods?

I happen to think that Michael Lewis and Malcolm Gladwell are the two best writers around. Michael Lewis's new article in the New York Times Magazine seems to confirm his place. A must read.
As a tool for overhauling the grade-point average of Michael Oher, as well as for broadening his experience of white people, Sue Mitchell had a number of things to recommend her. In her 35-year career she taught at several Memphis-area public schools. At Bartlett High School, just outside Memphis, she took over the cheerleading squad and whipped it into five-time national champions. She applied to work at the Briarcrest Christian School, but Briarcrest rejected her out of hand because though Mitchell said she believed in God, she had trouble proving it. (“The application did not have one question about education,” Mitchell says. “It was all about religion and what I thought about homosexuality and drinking and smoking.”) She wasn’t born again, and she didn’t often go to church. She also advertised herself as a liberal. When Sean heard that, he hooted at her, “We had a black son before we had a Democrat friend!”

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Hopelessness

MANIFESTO

Glenn Greenwald writing in Salon's War Room:
Even the most determined optimist would have a difficult time surveying our political landscape today and feeling anything other than a rising sense of hopelessness. Throughout 2004, the country began turning against the president as Americans realized that the principal justification for the war in Iraq -- WMD -- was completely false, and that the war that the Bush administration repeatedly led us to believe would be easily and quickly resolved was, in fact, a brewing disaster. In 2004, the president's approval ratings steadily declined as compared with the two prior years, but he was nonetheless reelected after an intense and frighteningly efficient Republican campaign.

Ever since President Bush's reelection, his approval ratings have descended even further, almost to historic lows. Most of the country has spent the last two years thoroughly dissatisfied, even disgusted, with the president and his party because of a mixture of ineptitude, corruption and deceit in virtually every realm. Yet now, Bush's political prospects have been gradually improving again as Americans are subjected to a relentless propaganda campaign of fear-mongering, underscored with the standard assault on Democrats as weak losers who are in cahoots with America's enemies. Iraq has all but disappeared from public view. In its place is one scary discussion of terrorism after the next.

There is a strong temptation to feel that if Americans allow themselves to be manipulated again in this manner -- if, after they spent the last two years thoroughly disgusted with the president, they maintain the stranglehold that Republicans so disastrously hold over all facets of our government -- then perhaps the country will deserve what it gets. The damage to our country from a Bush administration that is completely unchecked and unlimited for the next two years is hard to fathom, but if Americans choose that, they will reap the consequences of their choice.

That sentiment, unfortunately, is bolstered by the completely despicable -- and quite deliberate -- disappearing act of the Democratic Party at exactly the time our country debates some of the most profoundly important political issues of our time. News accounts of the "compromise agreement" reached by political leaders on the torture issue barely even mention Democrats at all. It is as though we do still have a two-party system, but the two political parties are the White House and congressional Republicans. Democrats are like some quirky little third party relegated to an afterthought and quoted almost as an act of charity.

But nobody did that to the Democrats. They consciously absented themselves from our political dialogue because they were afraid to take any position, and opted instead to anoint John McCain as their proxy. We literally don't even know the views of the Democrats on these interrogation issues because they haven't told us what those views are. Isn't that just unfathomable?

The Democrats have been and will continue to be equally mute and invisible on the warrantless-eavesdropping legislation. Recall that after the New York Times revealed that President Bush has been violating criminal law for the last five years by eavesdropping on our conversations without warrants, Sen. Russ Feingold wanted to have the Senate do nothing more than simply express the sentiment that the president ought not to violate the law. As Feingold explained when he introduced his censure resolution, if the Senate does nothing once it learns that the president is acting illegally, then it is, in effect, expressing its approval for presidential lawbreaking.

That's all Feingold wanted to do -- just have the Senate express its opposition to Bush's deliberate violations of the law. And yet only a small handful of Democratic senators supported him, while the rest either mumbled something about its being premature or outright attacked Feingold for introducing his resolution. Democrats were unwilling even to criticize the president for breaking the law when spying on Americans because they were afraid of being depicted as allies of the terrorists. That, of course, is same reason they chose to hide behind John McCain and Colin Powell rather than participate in any meaningful way in the debate over whether America should torture people.

With all those facts assembled, it is truly difficult to avoid indifference over the outcome of this upcoming election. But then one ponders what the next two years is likely to bring our country if the Bush administration continues to exercise full-scale, unchecked power over all facets of our governhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifment -- a Congress that rubber-stamps a war with Iran (if it is allowed to vote at all); a likely Supreme Court nomination to replace the 86-year-old John Paul Stevens, which would create an executive-power-worshiping majority on the Supreme Court for the next couple of decades; more presidential lawbreaking, and the further entrenchment of one-party rule. And then one realizes that indulging the desire to see the timid, meek, frightened, principle-less Beltway Democrats get what they deserve (still more defeat) is something that our country simply cannot afford if it is to have any hope of avoiding passing the point of no return, where both our national security and our national character are fundamentally degraded in a way that is irreversible.

The "opposition party" is literally missing, silent, mute and invisible. And yet the only hope for reversing or at least halting any of this is to have that same Democratic Party actually somehow win an election and provide some desperately needed gridlock and balance and investigative processes to find out what our government has been doing. That is about as bleak of a picture as one can imagine.
And so, what is left? As Len Hart points out,
Iraq is hell if you live there, survive there, get tortured there. If it gets worse—and it will—the dead will be called lucky.
Hart's is a sentiment that reminds me of Whitman during this sunset in America:
I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them,
And the white skeletons of young men—I saw them;
I saw the debris and debris of all the dead soldiers of the war;
But I saw they were not as was thought;
They themselves were fully at rest—they suffer’d not;
The living remain’d and suffer’d—the mother suffer’d,
And the wife and the child, and the musing comrade suffer’d,
And the armies that remain’d suffer’d.
If the US has created a situation where the dead are more fortunate than the living, there really isn't much left to say.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Life imitating art imitating life...

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

I enjoyed the first episode of "Studio 60" and look forward to the rest of the season. I'll always be willing to check out a Sorkin/Schlamme show, I really like a number of the actors and feel that the Matt Perry/Bradley Whitford combination will be fun to watch. With so many characters, it will take a while until I am invested in any of them, but there is plenty of time for that.

The "West Wing" comparisons are unavoidable, and some reviews compare Studio 60 unfavorably, but West Wing wasn't perfect its first couple of episodes, nor is it really fair to compare any show to one of the best TV dramas ever.

The setup for the show, a rant by Judd Hirsch was entertaining and right, even if it is setting up the show for a bit of a lofty expectation:

We're all being lobotomized by the country's most influential industry
which has thrown in the towel on any endeavor that does not include the courting
of 12-year-old boys...And not event the smart 12-year-olds, the stupid ones, the
idiots, of which there are plenty thanks in no small part to this
network...
there's always been a struggle between art and commerce, but now I'm
telling you art is getting is ass kicked, and it's making us mean, and it's
making us bitchy, and it's making us cheap punks and that's not who we
are....
We're eating worms for money, "Who Wants to Screw My Sister", guys are
getting killed in a war that's got theme music and a logo. That remote in your
hand is a crack pipe......
It's pornography, and it's not even good pornography. They're just this
side of snuff films, and friends, that's what's next 'cause that's all that's
left.And the two things that make them scared gutless are the FCC and every
psycho-religious cult that gets positively horny at the very mention of a
boycott.
Anyway, finally caught the episode last night, which is why I find it particularly interesting that Saturday Night Live, the obvious basis for Studio 60, has been forced to make cuts to its budget and staff in the face of low ratings. I'm not one to think that SNL is an idea that is past its prime, but it certainly needs revitalizing. Maybe the smaller cast will help. Maybe Studio 60 will help inspire them to be relevant again.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Alliteration

MANIFESTO

Dear Leader in his address to the UN today: "From Beirut to Baghdad, people are making the choice for freedom."

This is certainly a nice phrase, and it trips pleasingly off the tongue, but if one were to take this literally—and geographically—one would see that this really doesn't mean much. Viz., the line from Beirut to Baghdad goes through exactly one country—Syria—and freedom doesn't seem to have taken much hold there.

It's more interesting to see what Mideast countries aren't included: Kuwait, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and, not least, Iran. While I certainly don't think this is what Dear Leader had in mind when he used the phrase (One reason is that I don't think he has any idea of what he's talking about at any time.), it's interesting that it could be argued that the phrase implies that Iran is not making the choice for freedom.

Subject-verb agreement

MANIFESTO

Yale schmale. I see that our illiterate president is at it again:
"The goals of this country are to help those who feel hopeless; the goals of this country are to spread liberty; the goals of this country is to enhance prosperity and peace."
I just love it when the freakin' President of the United States sounds like a high school dropout.

Besides the fact that Dear Leader wouldn't know how to string an intelligible sentence together if a gun was put to his head, his lofty sentiments regarding liberty are laughable considering the fact that he's sanctioned the elimination of liberty in so many instances. From domestic spying to the promotion of torture to the rendition of those thought to be dangerous, Gorgeous George has shown that while the goals of the country may be to spread liberty, his own goals are antithetical to that notion.

Monday, September 18, 2006

No sense of decency

MANIFESTO

Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty, or your recklessness.
—Joseph Nye Welch, June 9, 1954

It's long been apparent that the President of the United States is a liar and an incompetent. It's even more unsettling to realize that he's a reprobate.

The mantra regarding the administration's attack on the Geneva Convention has to do with clarity. Indeed, this angle was used by both Negroponte and Hadley over the weekend, Hadley going so far as to use the "I don't know what it is, and I don't know it when I see it" approach.

But let's face it, this call for "clarity" is only a way to allow extreme interrogation measures. As Josh Marshall asked last night:
[What does it mean that] the man who ostentatiously claims Jesus as his favorite philosopher (he of "do unto others as ye would have them do unto you" fame) would say, in all seriousness, "Common Article III says that there will be no outrages upon human dignity. It's very vague. "What does that mean, 'outrages upon human dignity'?"
We all knew that the Bushies wanted a society where the have nots fought the haves' wars, where the rich became richer, and the poor became expendable, where those who wanted to cross our borders were threatened with imprisonment and death. But I'm not sure anyone was prepared for a government that would not—or pretend not to—understand the notion of "outrages upon human dignity."

I'm saddened beyond words. I grew up in a country where the notion of human dignity was sacrosanct—and that the government's role in guaranteeing same was unquestionable. I can't believe that this is what we've allowed: a government that will sanction any means to promote its fascistic ends.
Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!
Or, to quote another 18th century Virginian:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
I think we're coming perilously close to the state Jefferson and his cohorts found themselves in. Of course, anyone agreeing with Jefferson these days is no doubt identified as a terrorist.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

SSS, cont'd.

MANIFESTO

I'm pleased (and, truth be told, somewhat impressed) that a tactic being used by the Lamont campaign in its run against Senator Sanctimony is something I pointed out more than two and a half years ago.

Unam Sanctam

MANIFESTO

I can't describe how much stuff like this amuses me.
In [a] speech earlier this week, [Pope Benedict XVI] quoted 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus who said: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."
That's certainly not provocative. The Muslim reaction is what one would anticipate.
Muslim clerics and community leaders from Europe to the Middle East and beyond condemned the pope's comments made this week. In Turkey, the first Muslim country the pope is scheduled to visit, the nation's leading religious official demanded an apology and told the pontiff to "look in the mirror" when he assails religious violence.
And Ratzinger's reaction? He actually seems surprised that Muslims are taking offense to his fomenting words.
Pope Benedict XVI has said he is "very upset" that his speech on Islam offended Muslims and expressed his respect for their faith, according to the Vatican.
He's shocked—shocked!—that such inflammatory words would cause offense.

This is just another instance where two faiths are butting heads over the authenticity of their superstitions. As usual, as far as I'm concerned, neither is right.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

More of the Same

MANIFESTO

The story that's caught my attention today is the IAEA's response anent the hysterical House Intelligence Committee report regarding nukes in Iran.
U.N. inspectors investigating Iran's nuclear program angrily complained to the Bush administration and to a Republican congressman yesterday about a recent House committee report on Iran's capabilities, calling parts of the document "outrageous and dishonest" and offering evidence to refute its central claims.

Officials of the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency said in a letter that the report contained some "erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated statements." The letter, signed by a senior director at the agency, was addressed to Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), chairman of the House intelligence committee, which issued the report. A copy was hand-delivered to Gregory L. Schulte, the U.S. ambassador to the IAEA in Vienna.
Among the "facts" in the report: Iran is currently producing 90% grade uranium. The truth is that Iran is currently capable of producing 3.5% grade uranium.

It's interesting, though not particularly surprising, that felon John Negroponte turned a blind eye to the report and that the
report's author, Fredrick Fleitz, is a onetime CIA officer and special assistant to John R. Bolton, the administration's former point man on Iran at the State Department. Bolton, who is now ambassador to the United Nations, had been highly influential during President Bush's first term in drawing up a tough policy that rejected talks with Tehran.
Funny how Bolton's name turns up so often in spurious activities of the Bushies.

And speaking of Bolton—who's so desirous of throwing missiles at Tehran that he can taste it—it looks like he may not be in the UN much longer, thank God. Of course, the Bushies have shown that they're capable of, shall we say, bending the rules when it comes to advancing their own idiotic agenda, so perhaps I shouldn't celebrate Bolton's departure too early.

At any rate, the Bushies sure would like to keep Bolton in as he's willing to sex up the Iran "threat." And, to be sure, the Iran story sure has an element of déjà vu about it.
"This is like prewar Iraq all over again," said David Albright, a former nuclear inspector who is president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security. "You have an Iranian nuclear threat that is spun up, using bad information that's cherry-picked and a report that trashes the inspectors."

See No Evil

SPORTING GOODS

The Yankees' magic number IS 6 entering a four-game home series against the Sox this weekend.

Close your eyes Sox fans; once again it looks like the Yankees will clinch the AL East in a game against the Red Sox.

Majorly edited because either I can't read or Yahoo had the wrong number up yesterday, and because there is no longer the need to speculate what would happen on Thursday. Story remains the same....go Pats!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Case closed

MANIFESTO

Can the Peabody Board just give Keith Olbermann one of its awards and be done with it?

2...2...2 posts in 1!

SPORTING GOODS

While much of the MVP headlines are being grabbed by the Ortiz vs. Jeter feud (note to Papi, I think you should just stay quiet on this one), ESPN radio and a number of other sports sources have already anointed Ryan Howard over Carlos "35% more Win Shares than Howard, not to mention a 16 game lead in the standings" Beltran. As MSNBC has said:
Regardless of whether his Philadelphia Phillies can secure the NL wild card, Ryan Howard appears to be locking up the MVP award.
I think you all know how I feel about that.

Oh, and while Howard seems to be the MVP "it" pick, Jermaine Dye seems to be getting the love in the AL now, which makes no sense to me. It pains me to admit it, but I think it's Jeter.
____________________________________________________________________________________

Well it's been a couple of months since my World Cup hopes were smashed by, to borrow my wife's nickname for him, Landon "Waste of Space" Donovan and company. But US soccer actually had a great weekend…in England.

The 3 US goalies who are playing in the English Premiere League right now, Brad Friedel (Blackburn), Marcus Hahnemann (Reading), and Tim Howard (Everton), all posted shutouts this past weekend. Friedel stopped two penalty kicks in his (both wrongly awared by a terrible ref), and Tim Howard helped Everton beat their biggest rivals Liverpool 3-0. In Reading's shutout victory, Bobby Convey assisted on the lone Reading goal. Fulham was able to surprise Newcastle on Newcastle's home field, but perhaps more surprising was they were done in by Americans: Brian McBride slotted one home in the 82nd minute to tie the match at 1, and then McBride assisted to fellow American Carlos Bocanegra for the winning goal in the final minutes.

That's 6 Americans making significant contributions to their teams' wins, out of 13 Americans currently playing in the EPL. And in researching the latter number I was pleasantly surprised to find that DaMarcus Beasley has been taken on loan at Manchester City. Hopefully there he can learn how to play with the big boys in the physical EPL, and reacquire his nose for goal.

The never-ending war

MANIFESTO

I assume that just about everybody in his right mind is horrified at the "non-political" speech Dear Leader gave last night on the fifth anniversary of his reading of My Pet Goat. It was perhaps the most uninspiring, if not deflating, presidential speech given since Jimmy Carter's "national malaise" outburst in 1979. Unlike Carter, however, who tried to give the US a pep talk, Dear Leader seemed to have only pessimistic words for his countrymen.

As Salon's Walter Shapiro puts it this morning:
Bush painted a portrait of war without end, amen. "The war against this enemy is more than a military conflict," Bush declared. "It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century, and the calling of our generation. Our nation is being tested in a way that we have not since the start of the Cold War."

Think about that presidential prediction. Bush is saying that 50 or 60 years from now, when today's children are worried about cosmetic surgery and their retirement homes, we will still be on the battlements worldwide against an enemy whom we might call al-Qaida, the terrorists, violent Islamic radicals, the evildoers or, simply, them. This is not merely a war like Vietnam that will come to an abject end after it destroys two presidencies. No, in the Bush version of the future, a dystopian epic that might be called "It's an Awful Life," peace is a blessed oasis that might not be reached until the era of "a bridge to the 22nd century."
As much as GI George's handlers wanted to set this up as a non-political discourse, the subtext was clear: We're in big trouble and will continue to be for decades. Therefore, you all better vote for Republicans ad infinitum, or your rear will be drear.

It's a hell of a way to run a campaign, but Lord knows it's been successful since 2002.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five years later

MANIFESTO

Digby's take on 9/11:
It became a cliché and then a joke when people would say "the terrorists have won" but there is little doubt in my mind that they have achieved much of what they set out to do. Rather than being the object of sympathy and solidarity we were in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, the world now sees the United States as the terrorists do—a rogue superpower, untrustworthy and unpredictable. The irrational invasion of Iraq cemented an image in the minds of muslims and others that the US intends to steal valuable mid-east resources and wants a permanent presence in the region in order to subjugate its people.

The next generation of Americans is going to be left with a crippling economic burden from the twin effects of runaway spending on Iraq and an insane fiscal policy. Our society is being trained to believe we live in a perpetually fearful state of suspended animation, waiting for the ax to fall and increasingly sure that we must be willing to allow the government to do anything to maintain our precarious safety. (As long as we can keep shopping, of course.)
I couldn't agree more. Even NPR's Cokie Roberts is getting Maslovian on us, insisting this morning that those other things like medical care and a clean environment don't mean much if we can't be safe. That's just what the Republicans want you to think, babe.

And yet, GI George in the last week has insisted that in order to "defeat the terrorists," the US must be strong and vigilant. This is crap: No matter what Dear Leader says, it's obvious the oligarchs don't really want the citizenry to be fearless as it's much better for them if the country's denizens are as terror-stricken as possible.

Unfortunately, the cravens that make up too much of the US's population are accommodating them.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Writer's Block, part 2

MANIFESTO

This is exactly the kind of thing that fills me with the sense of ennui I referred to earlier.

The examples of the Bushies' psychosis are just too numerous and too overwhelming for me to record. Thank goodness for Duncan Black's and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga's (among others) endurance.

If a tree falls in the woods ...

MANIFESTO

La, la, la, la, la, la ... I can't heeeeeear you.

God, but these people are psychotic.

Meanwhile, back at the home ...

SPORTING GOODS

I know that readers of this blog don't exactly get excited about college football, but I enjoy it and had a chance to watch the first half of the Notre Dame-Penn State game yesterday. The 20-0 halftime score was in every way indicative of the way the first thirty minutes had gone.

By far, the most pathetic images of the game were of poor Joe Paterno, looking every bit the befuddled near-octogenarian he is, having no apparent idea what was going on the field at any time, frequently turning his back to the field to ask an assistant what was happening. At one point,
Paterno [was] the spitting image of Touchdown Jesus.

As Notre Dame safety Tom Zbikowski danced untouched into the end zone with the Anthony Morelli fumble that certified the rout, there was the 79-year-old coach, down to his rolled up shirtsleeves, raising his arms high above his head - in frustration.
Yeah. Frustration. That must've been it. I've got to think that some staffer on the sidelines has the task of making sure that Joe Pa doesn't get disoriented and starts wandering onto the field.

Those images of utter confusion were contrasted with Irish coach, Charlie Weis, laminated play card in hand, instructing his all-American quarterback, Brady Quinn, on virtually every play as Notre Dame went through the Lions' defense like a scalpel through flesh.

Fortunately, NBC, which broadcast the game and is Notre Dame's network, minimized the shots of Penn State's head coach. Thank God. They were really painful to watch.

Meanwhile, there's a new beast in the (Big) East. Keep an eye on Rutgers. They look like the real deal.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Timing is everything

MANIFESTO

This morning's Courant plays up the report that the Senate Intelligence Committee released yesterday that showed that no relationship ever existed between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.

The Courant really has missed the story: The report has little "news" in it, and that is certainly by design. The report is dependent on recently declassified material that tells what everyone knows by now: "The administration's version was based in part on intelligence that White House officials knew was flawed."

Here's the real deal: This is only a portion of the so-called Phase II of an analysis of prewar intelligence on Iraq. The first phase, issued in July 2004, focused on the CIA's failings in its estimates of Iraq's weapons program.

Phase II won't be released in its entirety because what hasn't come to light yet is just how much of the Bush administration's duping was, in fact, deliberate. However, the whorish Republicans won't allow that portion of the report to be released until after November 7.

UPDATE — Billmon has an extensive post on this topic here.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Bush to New York: ...

MANIFESTO

In a visit to the Big Apple that will no doubt be as successful as his last,
President Bush will mark the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by having breakfast Monday with some of New York's Bravest at a lower East Side firehouse ...

"The guys are thrilled about it. We feel like we're being singled out for this honor. We were among the first responders at 9/11," Chief Pat Clifford of Battalion 4 said ...

"It's a real honor," said a firefighter who didn't want to give his name. "He's showing his respect for those that perished. He's recognizing all the first responders."
At the risk of sounding irreverent, where have these representatives of New York's Bravest been for the last five years? The Bushies have consistently cut funding for first responders and have determined that the city itself has no iconic national monuments so that they could slash the city's Homeland Security funding by 40 percent.

Yeah, it'll be a real honor hosting this doofus. Here's hoping that someone turns a hose on him.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Nitpicking

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

The liberal blogosphere is atwitter over the corporate gamesmanship ABC is using vis-à-vis its upcoming presentation of The Path to 9/11.

Josh Marshall has a letter posted from one Neil Ungerleider, Assistant News Director of WCVB in Boston, wherein the latter tries to defend the hideous nature of both the film and its production. Citing the network, Mr. Ungerleider states that "The events that lead to 9/11 originally sparked great debate, so it’s not surprising that a movie surrounding those events has revived the debate ..."

To which I say: Any communications-oriented entity that doesn't know the difference between "lead" and "led" can't be trusted when it comes to the big issues.

Lester

SPORTING GOODS

Not much to say about this one, except sigh and think hope for the best.

From someone who spends a decent amount of time following oncology, the good thing is that Lester is being treated at two of the absolute top cancer centers in the country, Dana Farber and Fred Hutchinson. It's fortunate that he, and the team that I'm sure is paying for it, can afford the best care and the travel.

The form of lymphoma that he has is treatable, which is good. The tough thing about it is that it is a relatively aggressive form (even though they caught it early), and because it is relatively rare, many of the advances in treating lymphoma, such as use of biologic based therapies, have not been studied in controlled studies. But if there are cancer centers that are testing experimental therapies with a strong theoretical basis for efficacy, then Dana Farber and Hutchinson will likey be involved.

I've said it before several times as a joke, but this time I mean it seriously: We want some mo' Lester. I wish him all the best.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Writer's Block

MANIFESTO

Man, I am absolutely dry. I've got nothing to say, and I refuse to state the bloody obvious when it comes to commenting on Dear Leader's mendacious and tyrannical pronouncements. Cripes, when the man blatantly lies to the nation—and everyone knows it—there's just not much to add. Moreover, his boldfaced lies referring to Iraq and the nation's security just make me tired, especially in light of the fact that even Republicans are peering "at the naked flesh of the brush-clearer-in-chief and discover[ing] that, whaddaya know, his outfit’s not what it was cracked up to be."

At any rate, if I'm more taciturn than usual, you'll know why. In the meantime, I highly recommend Digby and TPM Cafe for great slants on what's going on in fantasyland.

UPDATE — Here's one reaction to Dear Leader's torturous speech of Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Be verrrry afraid

MANIFESTO

GI George's speech today is an example of what I said earlier:
The Republicans' strategy for the [upcoming election] 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.
Nevertheless, I find the speech pretty ironic. Viz.,
President Bush used terrorists' own words [today] to battle complacency among Americans about the threat of future attack, defending his record as the fall campaign season kicks into high gear ...

Quoting extensively from letters, Web site statements, audio recording and videotapes purportedly from terrorists, as well as documents found in various raids, Bush said that al Qaida, homegrown terrorists and other groups have adapted to changing U.S. defenses.

For example, Bush cited what he called "a grisly al Qaida manual" found in 2000 by British police during an anti-terrorist raid in London, which included a chapter called "Guidelines for Beating and Killing Hostages." He also cited what he said was a captured al Qaida document found during a recent raid in Iraq. He said the document described plans to take over Iraq's western Anbar province and set up a governing structure including an education department, a social services department, a justice department, and an execution unit.
Wait a minute. Evidently, the Bushies sat around and did nothing while this "grisly al Qaida manual" was floating around. It sounds to me as if the US should feel less secure given this particular episode. At any rate, it sure doesn't sound as if the party that's going to keep us secure was awake when this "grisly" opus was discovered.

Of course, they've been asleep at the switch before.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Iraq update

MANIFESTO

Juxtapose these two stories:
The most influential moderate Shia leader in Iraq has abandoned attempts to restrain his followers, admitting that there is nothing he can do to prevent the country sliding towards civil war.

Aides say Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is angry and disappointed that Shias are ignoring his calls for calm and are switching their allegiance in their thousands to more militant groups which promise protection from Sunni violence and revenge for attacks.

"I will not be a political leader any more," he told aides. "I am only happy to receive questions about religious matters."

It is a devastating blow to the remaining hopes for a peaceful solution in Iraq [since] the cleric is regarded as the most important Shia religious leader in Iraq and has been a moderating influence since the invasion of 2003. He ended the fighting in Najaf between Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi army and American forces in 2004 and was instrumental in persuading the Shia factions to fight the 2005 elections under the single banner of the United Alliance.
And:
President Bush on Saturday kept up his pre-election offensive on Iraq despite a new Pentagon report describing a deteriorating security situation there.

Initial results from a new U.S.-Iraqi campaign to improve the security situation in Baghdad are encouraging, Bush said, and insurgents have failed to drive Iraq into full-blown civil war.

"Our commanders and diplomats on the ground believe that Iraq has not descended into a civil war," Bush said in his weekly radio address. "They report that only a small number of Iraqis are engaged in sectarian violence ..."
So we have heretofore the most influential cleric in Iraq throwing up his hands and saying that he can't stop civil war in that country while the secluded GI George continues to deny that such a situation exists. It's not hard to figure out whom to believe.

We can only hope that Americans are cognizant of this kind of claptrap and see it for what it is—an intransigent refusal to acknowledge any errors in the morass that is Iraq—and vote accordingly.

Personally, I'm not optimistic that such an event will transpire, but I'm willing to be persuaded.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Pop!

MANIFESTO

Hideous economic news of the week:
More than a fifth of option ARM loans in 2004 and 2005 are upside down—meaning borrowers' homes are worth less than their debt. If home prices fall 10 percent, that number would double.
Just something to consider as the US observes—I can't say celebrates—the Labor Day weekend while most American workers see their wages lag behind inflation and their benefits deteriorate.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Catching up ...

SPORTING GOODS

So, I just got back from a nice six week vacation in the jungles of Costa Rica without internet or cable TV. It was hard going without baseball for six weeks, but when I left the Sox were on fire and held a comfortable lead in the AL East (and over any Wild Card contenders), David Ortiz was ready to accept the MVP award, and Jon Papelbon was crushing any comeback before it could get started.

So I was very excited to see the box score from last night's game (another Win I might add). It seems that in my absence the Sox were able to pull away, and are now toying with the rest of the league. I mean starting a 3-4-5 of Loretta-Youkilis and Lowell, giving Manny and Ortiz a chance to rest? And I see we bolstered the lineup by adding Javy Lopez and Eric Hinske. Nice to have bats like that for the playoffs. Even little Dustin Pedroia is getting a cup of coffee.

And we seem to be resting our starting pitchers as well, I see Julian Tavarez took the mound to start the game. I love it. It's like we're telling the league, "we'll start a lineup made mostly of bench players, use our worst reliever as a starting pitcher, and STILL beat you."

Because the outcome is the same. Alex Cora plays the role of Papi, and Papelbon plays the role of Papelbon, shutting down the once vaunted Toronto Blue Jays. So it's great to be back, I can't wait for that playoff baseball!

Now, to just hit "Publish Post" and go take a look at the standings ...