Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Trade Talk

SPORTING GOODS

Aramis Ramirez has officialy filed for free agency, something that anyone who did 3 seconds of research knew that he was going to do. Of course, that obviously excludes anyone hosting or calling New York sports talk radio over the last several weeks.

Repeatedly, since the A-Rod to the Cubs rumors began, Ramirez was mentioned as a key piece in any New York to Chicago trade. See, the Yankees would get Aramis Ramirez and a top starting pitcher for A-Rod. Some even had the optimism to think the Cubs would include Carlos Zambrano in such a trade. And what was especially great for the Yankees, is that Ramirez put up similar numbers to A-Rod this year. So basically, the Yankees could get a cheaper, younger option at thirdbase, who was "just as good" as A-Rod, as well as a perennial Cy Young candidate. It made perfect sense!

Well, except for the fact that:
1. Ramirez was due to be a free agent, as long as he exercised an opt-out clause that would guarantee him a huge pay day as one of the best hitters on the market.
2. If the trade was SO great for the Yankees, why would the Cubs do it? (OK, look at some of their recent free agent signings, and you may have a case that they would be happy to make a stupid trade)
3. But even if it required giving up their best player, Zambrano?

And I don't want to post hearsay as fact, so I'll also just say that I've heard but could not prove or disprove that if Rodriguez is traded, that the Rangers obligation to pay part of his salary disappears, with the tradee taking responsibility. If that is the case, then A-Rod is pretty much unmoveable.

Poor Yankees. Stuck with a two-time MVP and mortal lock for the Hall of Fame, as he chases Hank Aaron's record. Hold on, let me get my tiny violin...

In a quandary

MANIFESTO

Golly. Which do I believe? This poll or this poll?

I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that the National Congressional Committees have come up with such different results.

Where we came in

MANIFESTO

I see that in the last throes of the Republican majority, we're back to declaiming that if Americans elect Democrats, the terrorists will have won.
President Bush said terrorists will win if Democrats win and impose their policies on Iraq, as he and Vice President Cheney escalated their rhetoric Monday in an effort to turn out Republican voters in next week's midterm elections ...

"However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses," Bush told a raucous crowd of about 5,000 GOP partisans packed in an arena at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, one of his stops Monday.
While a number of people are saying that this is the worst election campaign they've ever seen, I've got to think it's no worse than others I know of. Think Max Cleland, or John Kerry, or Harvey Gantt.

Of course, I'm willing to hear opposing arguments.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Going to war with the army we have

MANIFESTO

Unfortunately, we also went to war with the Secretary of Defense we have.
The American military has not properly tracked hundreds of thousands of weapons intended for Iraqi security forces and has failed to provide spare parts, maintenance personnel or even repair manuals for most of the weapons given to the Iraqis, a federal report released Sunday has concluded ...

[T]he Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction ... found major discrepancies in American military records on where thousands of 9-millimeter pistols and hundreds of assault rifles and other weapons have ended up. The American military did not even take the elementary step of recording the serial numbers of nearly half a million weapons provided to Iraqis, the inspector general found, making it impossible to track or identify any that might be in the wrong hands.
During World War II, a grim joke spread that American troops were being killed by New York City's old Sixth Avenue El, the scrap of which had been sold to Japan after its demolition.

This snafu makes it all too possible that American troops are being killed in Iraq by American weapons.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Courant endorses Holy Joe

MANIFESTO

Apparently the nabobs of the Chicago Tribune Syndicate couldn't care less about Connecticut's gubernatorial race, but they're still taken by pious demonstrations of hypocrisy.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I wish I'd said that

MANIFESTO

As long as malignant fat like Limbaugh clogs the arteries of discourse we have to confront it and resist.
The entire post can be found here.

The housing market

MANIFESTO

Good news for Generation Y house seekers:
The Commerce Department reported [this morning] that the median price for a new home sold in September was $217,100, a drop of 9.7 percent from September 2005. It was the lowest median price for a new home since September 2004 and the sharpest year-over-year decline since December 1970. The weakness in new home prices was even sharper than a 2.5 percent fall in the price of existing homes last month, which had been the biggest drop on record.
It's kind of amusing to see a phenomenon like this jump the shark. As soon as The Atlantic Monthly has a cover story on "Dow 36,000," or the A&E television network starts a series called "Flip This House," you can be sure that the stock and housing markets respectively will soon tank.

For anyone who suffered through the bear market of 2000-2003 and its concomitant tech stock cataclysm, it was obvious that the housing market's center couldn't hold forever. In both instances, those who were able to get in and get out in a timely fashion did just fine. Those who continue to hope against hope that they can make some money on the $850,000 monstrosity they purchased just months ago are kidding themselves.

Two lessons to be gleaned from the last eight years: The bubble always bursts, and it's never "different this time."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

What I'm afraid of

MANIFESTO

Does Tom at MyDD have it right? Did the Democrats peak too soon?
If the election had been held two weeks ago, we would have won. We would have taken back the House with a big majority, taken the Senate with a slim majority, and at least come close to holding a majority of the governor's mansions.

But the Foley story seems to have died down a bit, and the only Republican seats that truly seem to have been put in jeopardy because of it are Foley's seat and Tom Reynolds's. The Senate races have been affected little by it, and while the dialogue now seems to be mostly focused on Iraq, it seems that our gains won't be as great as they would have been two weeks ago.
We'll see how this shakes out; God knows Dear Leader and his henchman are doing what they can to avoid the defeat that seemed so certain a few days ago (see below).

In Connecticut's Senate race, it looks like what I predicted months ago will come to pass: Senator Sanctimony will win as an independent. Here's hoping that the Democrats are still able to pull off a majority in the Senate of more than two.

Cheney speaks!

MANIFESTO

I have to give the devil his due and note that Deadeye Dick actually deigned to be interviewed by an NPR reporter recently. I heard a good portion of the colloquy this morning, and while the veep lied through his teeth (he'd still like us to believe, for example, that "there were problems with intelligence in Iraq early on" when that bogus intelligence was generated by him and his pal, Rummy), at least he's speaking to people whose paychecks aren't signed by Rupert Murdoch.

Having said that, this whole operation is an obvious attempt to win the mid-term elections for the Republicans. No more "stay the course" for them. In fact, Dear Leader is going to add his two cents concerning Iraq in yet another news conference at 1030.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Walking around money

MANIFESTO

Tammy Sun can call it desperation all she wants, but it's clear that Senator Sanctimony used a slush fund during the runup to the Democratic primary in Connecticut.
Ned Lamont's campaign says Sen. Joe Lieberman has failed to account for $387,000 in petty cash his campaign spent days before the state's August Democratic primary.

"Whenever this much cash is floating around it certainly raises suspicions of possible vote buying and other potentially illegal activities that the Lieberman campaign must answer," said Liz Dupont-Diehl, a Lamont spokeswoman. "It is crucial for the public to know what they were doing with this slush fund."

The Lieberman camp denied any wrongdoing.

Lieberman spokeswoman Tammy Sun said Sunday the cash was paid to field coordinators who then distributed money to workers who were canvassing. The payments to workers, many of them students, ranged from $50 to $100 per day, Sun added.
This sure does sound like the type of tactic that machine politicians like Richard Daley used to use—handing out cash so that ward officials could entice people to vote.

Even if the money wasn't used for that purpose, $387,000 sure gives the lie to the notion of "petty cash."

Four years ago, Bill Curry tried to convince the voters of Connecticut that his gubernatorial adversary was a crook. He was absolutely right, but the voters didn't believe him and elected someone who's since served time. Holy Joe has a substantial lead in the latest senatorial poll in spite of the fact that he's been participating in similar smarmy activities heretofore. Let's hope that history doesn't repeat itself.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

More whining

MANIFESTO

If there's one episode that serves as the epitome of Senator Sanctimony's peevishness, it may be this one:
Upon hearing that Ned Lamont was about to launch his closing advertising blitz, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman hastily called a press conference [Thursday] to pre-emptively denounce ads he'd never seen.

"Ned is going to use his wealth to run an uglier campaign and throw as much manufactured mud at me as he possibly can ... every half hour of every television viewing day from here on in," Lieberman said.

... Lieberman then questioned if the personal fortune Lamont is using to pay for the ads comes from big oil, tax shelters or investments in companies that ship American jobs overseas. After savaging his opponent, he promised to fight "the politics of personally funded, personal, negative, attack campaigning."
Notice that the junior senator didn't say that his opponent had actually made his fortune from "big oil, tax shelters or investments in companies that ship American jobs overseas;" he just wanted to raise the possibility—in the most positive kind of way, one assumes.

The article has it about right: Like other cravens in Washington (I'm talking to you, Gorgeous George), Holy Joe can dish it out, but he can't take it. That is, it's ok for him to wonder aloud whether his opponent is investing in companies deleterious to Americans, but when that opponent tells the truth about the pious one, ah, then it's negative campaigning.

The blatant hypocrisy of Holy Joe is really more than I can bear.

That's why they play...Part II

Sporting Goods

As Chill pointed out earlier, the "experts" don't seem to know much, and of course they have all picked the Tigers to roll through the Cardinals in the World Series. Now one game closer to being wrong (again - don't forget none of the 19 ESPN experts picked the Tigers to advance out of the ALDS, and only one of 19 picked the Cards to reach the NLCS), we'll see if they start backtracking or if they wait to see what happens in the next 2-3 games.

One thing that struck me heading into the World Series is that I just don't see the Tigers' lineup being much better than the Mets: it may be a bit deeper overall, but their 1-5 of Granderson-Monroe-Polanco-Ordonez-Guillen doesn't match up to Reyes-LoDuca-Beltran-Delgado-Wright. And the Mets problem was that hot Cardinals pitching was able to shut them down.

I'm sure that NL fans are pulling for the Cardinals, hoping that ends the stupid 'AAAA' talk.

Me, I can't stand the Cardinals. I know the media wants me to love Eckstein and Edmonds and LaRussa and Rolen, but I just don't. And I don't care for Preston Wilson or Encarnacion or Molina or any of their crappy pitchers that somehow shut down the Mets. So while watching the "experts" look stupid once again is kind of fun, I'll be pulling for the inevitable victory riot to happen late Saturday night in Detroit.

Five for five

MANIFESTO

Stating that "It's time for a change to Democratic control to see if they can do any better [than Republicans]," the Hartford Courant this morning endorses Democrats in all five congressional races in Connecticut.

I assume the senatorial endorsement will appear next week. We'll see then if the paper can break away from the Tribune syndicate's neanderthal ways.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Another October in New York City

SPORTING GOODS

Just under two years ago, I made my second ever blog post about the atmosphere in NYC on the day of an LCS game 7.

Since neither "the rivalry" nor "the collapse" is involved, there isn't quite the same level of tension in the city as in 2004. But in either case, it's gonna be fun. And I know Mets fans all over the city can barely concentrate or eat today.

Good luck Mets fans, this secondary Mets fan will be pulling hard for you.

Let's go Mets!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Matthew 7:3

MANIFESTO

In yet another example of a Republican (and in almost all cases, it's a Republican involved) who's oh so willing to condemn behavior that he himself is involved in, I give you
Idaho’s Larry Craig, another senator who sleeps with men yet casts votes for legislation that discriminates against LGBT citizens. [Craig]

* Voted YES on constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. (Jun 2006)
* Voted NO on adding sexual orientation to definition of hate crimes. (Jun 2002)
* Voted NO on expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. (Jun 2000)
* Voted YES on prohibiting same-sex marriage. (Sep 1996)
* Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination by sexual orientation. (Sep 1996)
This kind of bipolarism has been around at least as long as Roy Cohn. I truly think the US can do better than elect gay legislators who hate gays.

October Demise

MANIFESTO

Lest we forget:
Eleven more U.S. troops were slain in combat, the military said Wednesday, putting October on track to be the deadliest month for U.S. forces since the siege of Fallujah nearly two years ago.
After watching the surfeit of political ads this evening (The local news has virtually no other advertising.), it's noteworthy that almost all the state's vulnerable incumbents (all of whom supported the Iraq invasion in 2003) aren't mentioning the Iraq fiasco at all. Johnson in the 5th district is pretty much attacking Murphy's tax record; Lieberman is attacking Lamont's ads; and Shays doesn't really know what he's saying.

Only Simmons in my district—the 2nd—is talking about security, stating that his opponent, Joe Courtney, doesn't know anything about it. Well, it's clear that Simmons must not know a whole lot about it himself since he seems to have been convinced that invading and occupying Iraq would increase Americans' feelings of safety, while it's, in fact, had the opposite effect.

While I truly believe that, tragically, Americans who died in Iraq died in vain, perhaps the latest carnage will strengthen the resolve of Americans to vote out the miscreants who initially supported this debacle.

Well, that's a relief

MANIFESTO

Holy Joe makes up his mind.
Sen. Joe Lieberman, running as an independent after losing the Democratic primary, said Tuesday he hoped Democrats seize control of Congress - with one caveat.

A Democratic-led Congress, he said, must change the way Capitol Hill does business.

"It won't represent progress that's real," Lieberman told reporters while stopping at a transportation forum in New Haven. "It's not going to be much of a step forward if there's a new Democratic leadership that doesn't change the tone in Washington."

As recently as Friday, Lieberman, a lifelong Democrat who was his party's nominee for vice president in 2000, would not say whether he thinks the nation would be better off with the Democrats in control of Congress.
That's our junior senator.

"You're doing a heckuva job, Nuri."

MANIFESTO

Juxtapose these two stories:
The Iraqi government removed the country’s two most senior police commanders from their posts on Tuesday, in the first broad move against the top leadership of Iraq’s unruly special police forces.

The two generals had led Iraq’s special police commandos and its public order brigade, both widely criticized as being heavily infiltrated by Shiite militias. Their removal comes at a crucial time for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, who has come under intense American pressure to purge Iraq’s security forces of the militias and death squads that operate within their ranks ...

[In a phone call Monday, President] Bush reassured Mr. Maliki of American support.
And, in a story no American news organization seems willing to touch:
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki ordered the release Wednesday of a leading member of radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's political organisation who was detained by US troops, state television said ...

Sadr's organisation, which includes several thousand armed fighters, complained Tuesday that [Sheikh Mazen al-]Saedi, one of the party's precinct captains in Baghdad, had been arrested by US troops along with five of his supporters.
It's all well and good to dismiss policemen who are clearly running their own agenda, but that does no good if the prime minister is administering a government of men and not of laws. US commanders can't be pleased at the release of someone they believe is precipitating increased violence in Iraq. Certainly Dear Leader's support of Iraq's prime minister looks pretty foolish right now.

But, then again, this is the same man who thought Ahmad Chalabi had all the answers.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Firetruck

UNIVERSAL REMOTE

I saw The Departed yesterday and enjoyed it as much as I thought I would.

I was, however, struck by the plethora of four letter words meaning "fornicate" included in the script. The adjectival form, especially, must've been uttered over a hundred times. I wasn't particularly offended by this, but after a while the utterances became trivial. That is, it seems to me—if the movie's dialogue is to be held as an exemplar of contemporary American speech—that said word, or forms thereof, has kind of taken the place of the old "you know" or "like" (As in, "It was, like, freezing in that room.") as markers in everyday speech.

I long for the old days when swearing lent a certain emphasis to one's statements. Now, inclusion of such phraseology—at least in the latest Scorsese opus—is so common as to approach mundanity.

A stick of dynamite

MANIFESTO

As one who started blogging more than three years ago as a direct response to the Iraq invasion, I can't help but feel deeply saddened that the situation has gotten about as bad as I thought it could.

Having observed the lunacy of intervening in another foreign civil war four decades ago, I couldn't fathom how the Vulcans in charge could possibly think that this venture would be any different. However, they did, and the upshot is almost exactly the same as what the US experienced in Vietnam.
The Sunni Arab and al-Qaida insurgency that first shoved Iraq toward chaos three years ago clearly had taken a back seat by Sunday to the sectarian bloodletting that is sending the country spiraling toward — if not deeper into — civil war.

Evidence continued to mount in the 44th month of U.S. involvement that Iraqi centers of power — politicians and the government, the police and military — were unable or unwilling to rein in violence in parts of the country where Sunni and Shiite Muslim or Kurdish populations rub up against one another.

The violence has forced at least 1.5 million Iraqis to flee their homeland, with hundreds of new passports being issued daily to those who can afford a plane ticket or taxi ride out of the country, the Migration Ministry said. The ministry said 300,000 people have left their homes for elsewhere in Iraq.

The Shiite Majority in parliament, over complaints of dirty tricks from rival Sunni lawmakers and even some Shiite legislators, adopted a measure that would allow the effective partition of the country after an 18-month waiting period — something widely opposed in polls of Iraqis.

"The starting point is to recognize that Iraq is not going to be a democratic, unified country that serves as a model for the region. The violence and the Sunni-Shiite division have already ruled that out," Dennis Ross, a Mideast peace negotiator and policy-maker for former Presidents Clinton and Bush, wrote in a Sunday opinion column for the Washington Post.
And what do the Bushies propose to do about this hideous situation? Nothing, unless you count sticking around and allowing more Americans to be placed in harm's way in an occupation that won't benefit the US in any way as something. No, as Mr. Irresponsibility has made clear, it'll be up to future presidents to try to make order out of this chaos. God knows he has no ability or inclination to do anything about it.

Meanwhile,
The U.S. command said seven American troops died in fighting a day earlier. That raised the U.S. toll to 58 killed in the first two weeks of October ...
And GI George's reaction?
President Bush ... telephoned [Iraqi] Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday to reassure him of American support as rumors swirled through Baghdad that Washington had lost patience with the Shiite leader during his little more than four months in office.

Bush spokesman Tony Snow said the president used the 15-minute conversation to tell al-Maliki there was no American deadline for the Iraqi government to be able to stand on its own.
Dear God, please let us have enough Democratic victories in three weeks so investigations can commence and the War Powers Act can be instituted.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Campaign Nonsense

MANIFESTO

This is the kind of hysteria we in Connecticut are having to endure these days:
The U.S. Senate race continued its nasty spiral Thursday, with the campaigns of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman and Ned Lamont debating who was nastiest and loosest with the facts.

The exchanges began Wednesday with former state Treasurer Henry E. Parker, a Lamont backer, accusing Lieberman of lying about his civil rights record - an unsubstantiated charge that Parker recanted Thursday morning.

Unabashedly hoping to keep the story alive, Lieberman's campaign manager demanded Thursday afternoon that Lamont personally apologize to Lieberman for Parker's actions.

For good measure, she accused the Lamont campaign of deliberately misleading voters on Lieberman's Social Security record.

An hour later, Lamont's campaign complained that Lieberman's new television commercial slanders Lamont by falsely claiming he laid off 68 percent of his cable-television company's workforce.
One has to hear the audio clips of Sherry Brown, Senator Sanctimony's campaign manager, to realize that there actually exists a person on the planet who's as whiny and petulant as Connecticut's junior senator. It actually kind of beggars belief.

Twenty-five days until the election. But who's counting?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Idiots

Whatever

From AP via CNN (I'm guessing the link will change soon):
NEW YORK (AP) -- Police say an aircraft has crashed into a building on Manhattan's Upper East Side at 72nd Street and York Avenue. It is near Rockefeller Center.
Near Rockerfeller Center? Yeah if 25 blocks and 6 Avenues is near.

Monday, October 09, 2006

"A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever!" My man John Keats said that!

SPORTING GOODS

While I am loath to bring attention to anything the horrible David Brooks is paid to write for the New York Times, his piece from last Sunday proves the adage that "A Stopped Clock is Right Twice a Day." (In Brooks' case, I would argue the clock is right more often than him.) That being said, I must give credit to him for the following work, which I will "quote" in its entirety:
No one can describe the agony I feel. No one can describe the forebodings of doom that mount pitch by pitch, inning by inning, as the New York Mets make their way through the National League playoffs.

Early triumphs build mountains of false hopes, but this merely forestalls and cannot avert their eventual extinction. Delgado may slug and Glavine may discover the genius of lost youth, but, as the poet says, doom is the omen in my heart convulsed. For the gods decree, and history confirms, that those without starting pitching do not win championships.

And sooner or later I will sit with the remote trembling in my hands, with hollow cheeks and lifeless eyes, as some other fan’s team celebrates its glory, and there will be children weeping uncontrollably on the floor of the ruined family room around me, and women’s knees will give way, and they will be kneeling and keening amidst the scattered piles of tear-stained popcorn, and men will tear their cheeks and beat themselves with clenched fists under the full impact of the devastation.

The Mets will lose, and I will make the lifeless trudge to the unforgiving fridge in search of liquid anesthesia.

The team has tempted fate this year with a most un-Metslike display of offensive greatness. They have been led by joyful Reyes, strong-limbed Wright, sharp-jawed Valentín and Beltrán the Unperturbed. They have fed our pride with a great torrent of hitters. Except in the Bronx, they have no equals. But as Aristotle says, the more one is possessed of excellence, the more one will be pained at the thought of elimination.

And the failures of the starting rotation have been a long time coming. The mind reels back to the pointless trading of the young phenom Scott Kazmir (Woe!); the passing of the chance to get Barry Zito (Woe!); the injuries to Pedro’s calf and shoulder (Double Woe!); and the final tear to El Duque’s aging muscle (Tremble all before the dying of the light!). And now, as it is said, having done what men can, they will suffer what they must.

If this were a Christian universe, they would be saved by grace. If this were a Jewish universe, they would be comforted by more food. But baseball exists in a Homeric universe, where none can escape the iron shaft of fate. Soon the foaming crowds at Shea will grow silent as the tomb. The dugouts will gape manless and the world’s attention will shift to the Mannings and Madden, to Roethlisberger and Parcells, as winter comes too soon.

What is a fan to do? This season, I have followed the Mets cross-continent, from New York to San Diego. At various ballparks, I have laid pounds of sacrificial chicken tenders across the altar of my expanding waistline. And yet the fan is left powerless, the players’ plaything, like Andromache who can do nothing but watch while her husband Hector battles and seals her fate.

Epictetus says that some things are up to us and some things are not up to us. Our opinions are up to us, and our desires and responses. But our bodies are not up to us. Neither are our possessions, or our reputations or, by extension, our teams. Serenity, he says, consists in embracing the things within our control and discarding the things that are not.

And so perhaps what matters now is one’s comportment in the face of what is to come, the willingness to embrace the full truth of the unchangeable destiny.

We stand at the Hot Gates of Thermopylae, waiting for Pujols or Swisher. We suffer and yet stand firm. We know opposing balls will fly off walls. We know double-play-turning shortstops will leap like rams. But we will greet these blows with an acceptance that is not resignation. We’ll greet them with a clear soul and with a composure that affirms the dignity of life and unites suffering and knowledge. A great soul in agony transcends misery and achieves immortality, especially in the upper decks.

Aeschylus writes: “God, whose law it is that he who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget, falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despite, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.”

This is how a true Mets fan greets impending loss. And come to think of it, this is not bad preparation for what’s about to befall Republicans, either.
I especially like the last line. Now that the Yankees have been eliminated, I have a feeling that the liquid Mr. Brooks is drinking in not being used for anesthethic purposes.

BONUS: Ten points to the first person other than Chill who knows where the title for this piece comes from.

The Yankees lose! Thhhhhheeee Yankees lose!

SPORTING GOODS

Almost immediately after witnessing the now-annual October collapse of the New York Yankees, I couldn't help but be reminded of Bill Murray's words from Rushmore.
Take dead aim on the rich boys. Get them in the crosshairs and take them down. Just remember, they can buy anything but they can't buy backbone. Don't let them forget it.
Jim Leyland should've posted this in the Tigers club house before game one.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The problem with torture

Manifesto

Now that the U.S. has amended its laws in an attempt to allow it to "aggressively interrogate" "enemy combatants", this story is extremely interesting.

In 1976, anti-Castro Cubans blew up Cubana Airlines Flight 455. Luis Posada, a Cuban exile, formerly a U.S. Army Officer and C.I.A. operative supplying the contras in Nicaragua, was "implicated in the attack, but never convicted." He was recently arrested in the U.S. on immigration charges. Cuba and Venezuela want him extradited to be charged and tried for the bombing. But immigration courts refuse. Why?
An immigration judge has ruled that Mr. Posada may be subject to torture in those two countries. But because no other country has stepped forward, and because he has not been officially deemed a terrorist by the American government, a federal judge recommended last month — coincidentally on Sept. 11 — that Mr. Posada be released.
I think our government's refusal to extradite alleged criminals to countries where they may be tortured is admirable. I'm happy that the many other countries feel the same way. I simply wonder how many suspected terrorists may be released by other countries rather than extradited to the U.S. because of our policy on "aggressive interrogation" and the potential for indefinite detention without trial or even charges.

And that's why they play the games ...

Sporting Goods

Before the baseball playoffs, ESPN ran a column called "ESPN experts: Who's going to win?" Follow the link if you want to have a laugh. And don't think you can go to the ESPN site and just browse for the article. Not surprisingly given the accuracy (or lack thereof) of the predictions, it is impossible to find. Here are my favorites:
  • Of the 19 "experts", all but one picked the Padres over the Cardinals. Clearly, not a series in the bag as of this writing, but the number of Padres picks is not indicative of what has actually happened on the field.
  • 14 picked the Twins to beat the A's, and of those 14, 7 thought the Twins would win the World Series.
  • All picked the Yankees in the Division Series and 6 had the Yankees winning the World Series.
Look, obviously these are some bad predictions. And if brought back to the prognisticators, I'm sure we would hear the tired cliche, "That's why they play the games." Indeed it is. But, like in so many other areas, I want accountability. I'm tired of watching so-called sports "experts" give me their opinion, be horribly, horribly wrong, and be absolutely unaccountable for what they previously said. It is simply obnoxious, especially because of the near certainty in which all of these opinions are given and the back and forth screaming that now passes for reasoned argument on sports shows.

I Want Accountability!

And no, I'm not holding my breath.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Arrrrrggghhh!!!

MANIFESTO

Greg Sargent at TPM's Election Central reports the following:
The National Republican Congressional Committee yesterday sank a staggering $7.8 million into 30 critical House races across the country. CQ Politics reports that virtually all the cash -- nearly 98% -- is being spent in opposition to Dems; that is, on negative ads, mailers and the like.
Hoo boy. If you look at the article, you'll see that Rob Simmons in Connecticut's 2nd Congressional District is being given nearly a quarter million dollars to attack Joe Courtney. This is in addition to the insane commercials we're already seeing in this part of the state.

And before Big Apple denizens think they've dodged this bullet, they should know that Chris Shays, of Connecticut's 4th district, is being given almost as much as Simmons. Since Fairfield County, the vast portion of the 4th district, doesn't have a television station, it'll fall to New York City's stations to telecast the increased advertising blitz directed to the north and east.

It'd be nice if the Republicans could actually run a campaign without resorting to vitriol, but they haven't been able to do so for nearly half a century. And, given the inclination of too many moronic Americans to endorse such tactics, it looks like they'll be the sine qua non of American political campaigns until the demise of the Republic, which is being hastened by those very hideous strategies.

All Governments (and media) Lie

MANIFESTO

In its own way, this article describing the egregious inaccuracies CNN has made in its coverage of the Foley affair is one of the more disconcerting essays I've read in quite a while. It's no wonder that Americans can't make informed decisions about their leaders and government if media are just going to be shills for same.

BTW, a new biography of the great iconoclast, I.F. Stone, has been issued in the last two weeks. While at least one review of the book is, at best, tepid, perhaps no one individual was ever better at offering "insights into a three-cornered reality that consisted of A) American foreign policy; B) the government's justification for American foreign policy; and C) the mainstream press's method of reporting A and B."

It'd be nice if we had more voices like Stone's today.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Holy Joe

MANIFESTO

I know others have commented on this ridiculous situation, but Senator Sanctimony really has gone off the deep end with his take on the Foley/Hastert situation.
Lieberman is pushing back against calls for Hastert's resignation and warning both parties not to make Foleygate a partisan issue. "I know some people are calling for Hastert to resign, but the truth is that unless he knows what he saw and he saw something he should have acted on, he deserves to have essentially a fact-finder to come in," Lieberman said earlier this week. "If anyone thinks they can make this into another partisan flap, it's not. It's very real and human. The House Republican leaders and, frankly, the Democratic leadership should not make it partisan."
If Ned Lamont doesn't pick up on that sentiment and run with it, I won't know why. There really is a difference between bipartisanship and prostitution, and Clueless Joe's inability to see the difference doesn't bode well if he gets re-elected.

In other words, if this situation had involved a Democrat and a female who'd reached the age of majority, then we'd really see Connecticut's junior senator's outrage expressed.

Happy birthday, monocle!

WHATEVER

For your birthday, I hope the next month brings you:

- A Ned Lamont victory
- A Democrat-majority in the House of Reps
- A Mets World Series victory
- A Joe Paterno resignation
- A Dartmouth win in football

See, only asking for one Dartmouth win, don't want to be too greedy.

Happy bday.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Looking ahead

SPORTING GOODS

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your 2007 World Series champs....the Texas Rangers!
Buck Showalter was fired as manager of the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, ending
four seasons in which he was never able to get a team with several young
All-Stars above third place in the AL West.
The last two teams that fired Showalter won the World Series. He was fired by the Yankees after 1995, Yankees win in '96; he was fired by the Diamondbacks in 2000, Dbacks win in '01. Smart strategy for the Rangers to wait until they have a nice team that has underachieved a bit, then cash in on the "Fire Buck and Win the World Series" plan.

Monday, October 02, 2006

More Freakonomics

Whatever

The best regular series in the New York Times Magazine is the not regular enough Freakonomics series. The most recent installment looks into why doctors don't wash their hands.
Leon Bender is a 68-year-old urologist in Los Angeles. Last year, during a South Seas cruise with his wife, Bender noticed something interesting: passengers who went ashore weren’t allowed to reboard the ship until they had some Purell squirted on their hands. The crew even dispensed Purell to passengers lined up at the buffet tables. Was it possible, Bender wondered, that a cruise ship was more diligent about killing germs than his own hospital?
This isn't the best article they've ever done, but this type of analysis is, to me, extremely interesting. Enjoy.

More what did they know ...?

Manifesto

As Monocle asks below, why does it seem that only Republicans are asked this question?
A review of White House records has determined that George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, did indeed brief Condoleezza Rice and other top officials on July 10, 2001 about looming threat from Al Qaeda, a State Department spokesman said on Monday evening.

[...]

Ms. Rice said she had no specific recollection of meeting with Mr. Tenet and Mr. Black on July 10, 2001. Members of the commission that investigated the attacks of Sept. 11 and the events leading up to them have said they were never told of a special White House meeting held on that date, and have questioned in recent days whether information about such a meeting may have been intentionally withheld from the panel.
Now I wonder why this account didn't appear in the 9/11 Commission Report. When was that report conducted and ultimately made public? Anyone, anyone? July 22, 2004. Draw your own conclusions. Although Josh Marshall notes that the information seems to have been told directly to Richard Ben Veniste and executive director Philip Zelikow. Veniste was one of the Democratic Commissioners.

This is the end...

SPORTING GOODS

A look around at some of my favorite Sox blogs as they wrap up the season.

Surviving Grady predicts a Dodgers/Twins series culminating in an agonizing Grady Little decision, while declaring his new rooting interest:
ANYBODY BUT THE MF YANKEES!
Fire Brand looks at the bizarro 2006 season:
Of course, for many the real high point was the five game sweep of the dreaded yankees that marked the end of the empire’s run atop the AL East. And what a sweep it was, beginning with Wells’ perfect game, and the feeling of schadenfreude we all felt watching A-Rod commit 7 errors in the first two games, his subsequent benching, the tearful interview on ESPN and then his ultimate trade to the Nationals for a conditional set of draft picks.
Dewey's House asks that some intelligent thought be infused into the "we'd be better off without Manny" camp:
So the Mariners elininated A-Rod, brought in a clubhouse ping-pong table and water bubbler and that’s how they won 116 games? Or do you think it may have had something to do with Bret Boone’s arrival (.331/.372/.578, 141 RBI)? And did you know that the Rookie of the Year and League MVP in 2001 just so happened not to be on the club in 2000? His name is Ichiro Suzuki and I am pretty sure he helped to make up some of A-Rod’s production.
Call of the Green Monster reports on a surprising development in Yankee land:
With the shocking allegations that Roger Clemens-and Andy Pettitte-may have had
a little something extra on their fastballs thanks to performance-enhancing
drugs, a distraught George Steinbrenner immediately surrendered all World Series
titles won while either pitcher was on the roster.
And lastly, Soxaholix looks back to better times.

What did they know ...?

MANIFESTO

It can't be mere coincidence that it's almost always Republicans who are being asked this question.

Exfoleyated

MANIFESTO

Everything one needs to know about the lastest Republican scandal can be found in Josh Marshall's blog, beginning with this post. Read up for a sordid tale of how Washington's insiders are willing to jeopardize adolescents to protect one of their own.

For what it's worth, I think this entire episode (and, of course, I include the apparent coverup) shows yet again that the oligarchs in Washington really do think they're above the law.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Pedro

Sporting Goods

After little more than a day away from my Mets, I somehow missed a lot. I had the misfortune of learning all about Pedro's shoulder surgery during an otherwise beautiful wedding celebration in the lovely Ocean State. Needless to say, I wasn't all that surprised. Here's an e-mail I wrote on Friday:
Pedro hasn't been Pedro all year. In fact, the Mets actually played better without him. I think he was becoming a distraction so at least now it is settled. I hope he comes back healthy next year but the fact is that he has other health issues apart from his calves. I mean he still has a partially torn labrum in his shoulder. All the more reason the Mets need to get a number 1 starter from somewhere. Too bad that reports say that they don't want Zito.
I've long thought that Pedro's various leg problems (hip, calves, toe) were also being used to cover for a bum shoulder. I'm not happy to learn that it looks like I was right. Anyway, I have to believe that this means the Mets are going to pay for Zito, and pay big.

I hope that doesn't mean that the Mets trade Lastings Milledge. Although reading the NY press, you get the distinct impression that his days as a Met are numbered. Nothing says foolishness like giving up on a 21 year-old because he is "cocky." This is the exact same reason the Mets traded Scott Kazmir. That's worked out well. Back to Milledge, what would you expect. He's spent his entire life being told he's special. Having to learn modesty and humility isn't exactly the worst thing in the world. I hope they give him a chance. Unless, of course, the Mets can trade him for a 25 year-old Cy Young contender. Mr. Willis would look good in blue and orange.

And finally, despite a miserable September, the Mets finished the season tied for the best record in baseball ... with the Yankees. I'm happy already. The Mets have already exceeded all my expectations this season. I hope it continues.