Monday, May 28, 2007

When democracy fails


I find that the death of Andrew Bacevich has affected me more than any of the other fairly faceless fatalities that have occurred in Iraq. Bacevich wasn't a professional football player, wasn't a member of a minority, but was a BU-educated son of an academic who decided to serve in the armed forces even though his father has been a strident critic of the war.

Yesterday, the father, Andrew Bacevich, Sr., expressed his grief over his son's death and over the failure of the American system in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post.
The people have spoken, and nothing of substance has changed. The November 2006 midterm elections signified an unambiguous repudiation of the policies that landed us in our present predicament. But half a year later, the war continues, with no end in sight. Indeed, by sending more troops to Iraq (and by extending the tours of those, like my son, who were already there), Bush has signaled his complete disregard for what was once quaintly referred to as "the will of the people."
So, what to do? The elder Bacevich really doesn't answer that question, but he certainly implies that if the will of the people cannot be implemented via the ballot box, another solution may be necessary.

This is revolutionary talk. I believe that a good portion of the American populace is patiently counting the days until January 20, 2009, so that the kind of violence implicit in Professor Bacevich's sentiments can be avoided. It seems to me that Americans are willing to wait—but not forever.

Dying in vain


A year ago, the American death count in Iraq was 2,462. This morning, it's 3,455. In other words, another thousand Americans have died to satisfy the bloodlust of the cravens in the executive branch.

Happy Memorial Day.

Friday, May 25, 2007

It's Gotta Be the Socks


Posted without comment.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Staying the course redux


I think Digby pretty much has it right anent the Democrats' pusillanimous ways. Viz., in the Iraq funding vote,
we have an opportunity for the presidential candidates to take a free shot and shut down this line of argument right now—and they aren't jumping at the chance.
At least Connecticut's Dodd has indicated that he won't vote for this giveaway, but Hillary and Obama are still dithering about it.

What do these morons need? With only three of ten Americans rating President AWOL's handling of Iraq "excellent" or "pretty good," voting against the proposed legislation seems like a no-brainer. But the truth of the matter is that this capitulation never should have occurred in the first place.

I will never—never!—vote in a primary for a Democrat who votes for this bill. And we'll just have to see how I feel during a general election.

Meanwhile, all President Shibboleth can offer is the same old "Be afraid; be very afraid" mantra.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I Haven’t the Words


Iraq a haven for international terrorist cells hell bent on destroying the United States? I guess so, but apparently not until 18 months or two years into the US led occupation of the country. I didn’t go to Princeton or Yale. I don’t have a graduate degree for the University of Chicago or Harvard. I was never head of Johns Hopkins SAIS or a fellow at a think-tank. Yet even I can see that claiming Americans should trust you in the fight against terror because terror exists where you created it is actually more perverse than a strategy for fighting religious zealotry based on attacking secular-fascism.



What a terrible night for the Celtics last night. Just a little reminder that the Celtics had a 39% chance of getting one of the top two picks (and likely changing the course of their next 10 years by grabbing Oden or Durant), and had an 87.7% chance of getting a top 4 pick (at least giving them a decent shot at someone like Corey Brewer).

They got the #5 pick.

The run of bad luck (dating back to Len Bias) continues.

Oh, and here's some insult to injury.

Staying the course


While Congress twiddles its thumbs and the chaos continues, our feckless leader will visit the Constitution State today to promote his bellicose ways.

What a disgusting display of cowardice.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Amero Case, cont'd


"The objection to Puritans is not that they try to make us think as they do, but that they try to make us do as they think."
— H. L. Mencken

I've blogged about the poor substitute in the eastern part of the state who found herself in a class with a rogue computer. Popups and spyware caused various porn sites to appear on her screen, and the poor neophyte was powerless to do anything about it. At her hearing she was found guilty of causing harm to minors and was scheduled to be sentenced in March. Alas, no such sentencing has yet to take place.
[A] few weeks ago, as Amero faced sentencing, Assistant State's Attorney David J. Smith filed a startling motion in Superior Court:

"The state has not completed a full examination of all the issues which may affect its position at the sentence hearing."

Translation: We were wrong. We are trying to figure a CYA way out of this mess.

They still are. Amero's sentencing Thursday was delayed again until June 6 - the fourth postponement since March. She's still convicted of four counts of risk of injury to a minor, facing a potential 40 years in jail
So the rush to judgment that obsessed some state pecksniffs a year ago now seems to have been a mistake.

But, that's the way things work these days. In people's doctrinaire desire to think of the children, adults are being accused of all sorts of sordid activities when the truth of the matter is that no danger exists. After all, ten-year-olds don't pay much attention to anything, anyway.

At any rate,"inevitably, Amero will be exonerated [and we'll] all deserve an apology for this insulting case."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Boston Series


I see that Dice-K will now pitch the afternoon game at Fenway after yesterday's rainout. The question arises: Who will pitch this evening? Will Francona still go with Hansack and his lovely 13.5 ERA, or will he see some sense and try someone else? My candidate? Kyle Snyder. He's only pitched 13 innings this season, has an ERA under 2.0, and certainly has had experience as a starter. I realize that desperate times (in this case, Beckett's injury) call for yadda yadda, but starting Devern Hansack seems to be beyond the scope of desperation.

By the way, the sports quote of the day has to be A-Rod's response to his team's struggles at the plate: "It's puzzling."



OK. We can now officially cross John McCain off the list of viable presidential candidates.
Presidential hopeful John McCain - who has been dogged for years by questions about his volcanic temper - erupted in an angry, profanity-laced tirade at a fellow Republican senator, sources told The Post yesterday.

In a heated dispute over immigration-law overhaul, McCain screamed, "F- - - you!" at Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who had been raising concerns about the legislation.

"This is chickens- - - stuff," McCain snapped at Cornyn, according to several people in the room off the Senate floor Thursday. "You've always been against this bill, and you're just trying to derail it."
He clearly has no control over his faculties and shows all the symptoms of Tourette's Syndrome—or at least the social graces of a twelve-year-old. He also doesn't have much imagination in his use of vocabulary.

In the final analysis, he's just a grumpy old man who should have retired years ago.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Let the games begin


I don't see a lot of sense in baseball interleague play, but we're about to begin its first weekend in the 2007 season.
Obviously, we'll see what happens, but some serious headrolling may ensue if the Yankees don't take at least two of three this weekend at Shea (and what a great Boston-like comeback the Mets had yesterday; I watched the ninth inning last night, knowing what was about to occur, and it sure was fun).

Meanwhile, in the spirited rivalry between Boston's two teams, it seems to me that anything might happen this evening (including a rainout) given the fact that two (I'm being kind here) marginal pitchers will be matched up.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Greenwald, cont'd


Just as Josh Marshall was responsible for exposing Trent Lott's racism and the indiscriminate firings of various US Attorneys, so, too, has Glenn Greenwald run with the Comey story ever since it broke. The gist of his argument:
James Comey's testimony amounts to a statement that -- even according to the administration's own loyal DOJ officials -- the President ordered still-unknown spying on Americans, and engaged in that spying for a full two-and-a-half-years, that was so blatantly and shockingly illegal that they were all ready to resign over it. And the President's Attorney General then lied to ensure that this episode remain concealed. Mere one-day calls for a Congressional investigation are woefully inadequate here.

There is clear and definitive evidence of deliberate lawbreaking. In addition to Congressional investigations, there is simply no excuse for anything other than the immediate commencement of a criminal investigation by a Special Prosecutor. And the administration ought to be pressured every day to account for what it did here. This is not a one-day or one-week fleeting scandal. These revelations amount to the most transparent and deliberate crimes -- felonies -- by our top government officials, not with regard to private and personal matters but with regard to how our government spies on us.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Don't know nothin' 'bout raisin' no taxes!


Governor Mary Jo in her State of the State address in February:
[L]et me say at the outset that I have the courage in this budget to call for specific actions, to propose landmark programs and reforms -- and yes, to call for tax increases ...

Some may ask: Why is it that we need tax increases next fiscal year when the state has a 500 million dollar budget surplus this year?

Because the cost of running state government next year - without any new programs or services – will increase by over 800 million dollars just to fund inflation, debt service, health care for active and retired state employees, energy costs to heat and light state buildings, gasoline for state police vehicles, arbitrated contract awards for state employees and more.
Governor Clubwoman yesterday:
I firmly believe that we can adopt a budget for the next biennium that contains no tax increases whatsoever.
Apparently the courage she was so proud of in February has disappeared—along with any economic sense she had.

Sparing the Rod


From this morning's Courant,
Legislation now headed to Gov. M. Jodi Rell would forbid local school districts from issuing out-of-school suspensions for minor violations of school rules.

The bill was approved Tuesday by the state House of Representatives in a 111-to-29 vote. It passed the Senate last week.

Local school districts can suspend student who violate school board policy or disrupt the educational process. Some education advocates have complained that school districts are issuing out-of-school suspensions for minor infractions, such as talking back to a teacher, skipping class or being tardy.

Advocates also say out-of-school suspensions alienate troubled students from school and can discourage them from pursuing their educations.

The legislation permits school districts to issue out-of-school suspensions only if a student poses a danger to others or is extremely disruptive.

Public schools in Connecticut issued more than 77,000 out-of-school suspensions in 2005-06, according to the state Department of Education.
So, in effect, the micromanaging solons of Connecticut's legislature have sanctioned the inmates running the asylum. The Connecticut Association of Boards of Education thinks the bill is ludicrous; I can only hope that its opinions carry some weight, but we'll see.



Both Atrios and Digby link to Glenn Greenwald's magnum opus this morning, so I will as well. It's certainly worth reading and a well-argued piece on what it is that has made the US a shadow of the nation it once was.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell is dead


As Colin McEnroe noted on WTIC this afternoon, people were struggling to find something nice to say about the racist homophobe once the announcement was made.

As far as I'm concerned, the US has lost one its most odious citizens.

UPDATE — Take a look here to see just how heinous the so-called minister was.

The "I" Word


While I see little practicality in the following, I certainly subscribe to its basic tenet:
There are two systems of justice in the United States: one for the rich and powerful and a far different system for everyone else. Rob a bank and you go to prison; loot a savings and loan as an executive and you're likely to get a hefty fine, if that. Every day, we read about corporate executives who mismanaged their firms, caused the layoffs of thousands of poorly paid workers, and then danced away with millions of dollars of severance pay. We see what happened to the architects of the disaster in Iraq: Bremer, Franks, and Tenet got the "Presidential Medal of Freedom," Rice and Wolfowitz got promoted, as did the invasion supporters within the Pentagon. There was no accountability; they got away with it. So far.

That's why the impeachment of George W. Bush would send an important signal to other elected officials, and the power elite. It would be an indication that the American people are tired of Washington business-as-usual and serious about holding our leaders accountable for their actions. I'm not suggesting that the focus be exclusively on Bush, because I think his whole crew - Cheney, Gonzales, Rice, and Rumsfeld, among others - should go down, too. However, the logical place to start is with the guy at the top: the decider-in-chief.
As the Sage of Baltimore once said: "Injustice is relatively easy to bear; what stings is justice." Indeed, we've seen how "justice" has been handled by the Bushies, especially lately as a high DOJ official and a member of the civil liberties watchdog board have resigned. It's clear from the resignations that justice doesn't exist (Or, as Chuck Schumer said, "It seems ironic that Paul McNulty, who at least tried to level with the committee, goes while Gonzales, who stonewalled the committee, is still in charge.") and that the protection of civil liberties is a joke. If even such a moron as Lanny Davis (Lanny Davis!) can see the malevolence of the Bushies, we're in even more trouble than might have been previously imagined.

UPDATE — Here's more evidence of "justice" from the Bushies.



In reading about the Red Sox' win last night, I couldn't help but notice that the two leagues don't have the same number of teams within them. Now, I realize I should've known this, but sixteen teams in the National League and fourteen in the American doesn't make a lot of sense. I suppose this is Bud Selig's doing, but it sure is idiotic.

Another shortcoming in the schedule has to do with interleague play, but, like most of corporate America, baseball's mavens don't really care about integrity.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Jodi, We Hardly Knew Ye


Governor Clubwoman's turnabout of the last few days is almost beyond belief. At the very least, she's shown that she really has no idea what she's doing.

Viz., from her State of the State speech in February:
Fiscal responsibility ... means proposing a balanced budget. As I said earlier my budget contains tax increases. I wish it did not. I wish we didn’t have structural holes in our current budget. I wish our existing revenue stream could keep pace with rising energy costs, rising employee costs, rising health care and the like. I wish our exi revenue stream could allow us to make the investments we need in education, energy, transportation and the like. But it cannot.

And I will not employ gimmicks like underfunding pensions, underestimating caseload counts, bonding for current services, and more. It’s time – long past time – that we were fiscally responsible.

To pay for our historic and unprecedented investments, I am proposing a fractional increase across the board in the income tax rate – a quarter of a percent for this fiscal year, and a half of a percent in the following fiscal year. I am also calling for an increase in the cigarette tax of 49 cents per pack.
Doesn't that sound great? The income tax rate hike was going to affect those who could most afford it while all strata of Connecticut's society would benefit.

Alas, this week, the governor turned back into a Republican, determining that no tax hikes are necessary. She could have made this decision, as state Democrats contend, after viewing the results of a poll showing in no uncertain terms that the state's denizens don't want a tax hike. Or, it could be that she saw that a tax hike bill would cause people to argue. Or, it could be that she has the economic sense of a gerbil.

At any rate, as governors go, she makes a very good Junior League corresponding secretary.

It's all about you


As one who still has a piece of paper describing "100 Ways to Praise a Child" on his refrigerator, I point out this story with a certain amount of hesitance. Nevertheless, not surprisingly, employers are having a little trouble with the "Most-Praised Generation."
[A]s this ... generation grows up, the culture of praise is reaching deeply into the adult world. Bosses, professors and mates are feeling the need to lavish praise on young adults, particularly twentysomethings, or else see them wither under an unfamiliar compliment deficit.

Employers are dishing out kudos to workers for little more than showing up. Corporations including Lands' End and Bank of America are hiring consultants to teach managers how to compliment employees using email, prize packages and public displays of appreciation. The 1,000-employee Scooter Store Inc., a power-wheelchair and scooter firm in New Braunfels, Texas, has a staff "celebrations assistant" whose job it is to throw confetti -- 25 pounds a week -- at employees. She also passes out 100 to 500 celebratory helium balloons a week. The Container Store Inc. estimates that one of its 4,000 employees receives praise every 20 seconds, through such efforts as its "Celebration Voice Mailboxes."
Working in such an environment (where kids expect to be complimented for completing a homework assignment), I found the article interesting and accurate.

I'm also fairly certain that those who read this blog neither expect nor receive such fulsome praise at their places of employ.

What Bush hath wrought


More on the National Guard fiasco:
Connecticut ... is missing more than 200 high-mobility multipurpose vehicles, a Chinook CH-47D cargo helicopter, 1,500 pairs of night-vision goggles and 21 large support vehicles such as tankers, wreckers and heavy cargo vehicles.
Of course, it goes without saying that manpower is also down severely since everything—troops included—seems to be going to the sinkhole that is Iraq.

Here's hoping that the hurricane season is a mild one.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Michael Moore


Well, this is pretty transparent:
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore is under investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department for taking ailing Sept. 11 rescue workers to Cuba for a segment in his upcoming health-care documentary "Sicko," The Associated Press has learned.

The investigation provides another contentious lead-in for a provocative film by Moore, a fierce critic of President Bush. In the past, Moore's adversaries have fanned publicity that helped the filmmaker create a new brand of opinionated blockbuster documentary.
I think the writer has it about right: This episode is sure to be the inspiration for another Moore opus. Nevertheless, this is sure to remain my favorite Moore performance.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

More Iraq Repercussions


From today's Kansas City Star:
A shortage of Kansas National Guard equipment will slow recovery efforts in tornado-ravaged Greensburg, state officials say.

Because of the war on terror, Kansas has only 40 percent of its allocated equipment, said Sharon Watson, a spokeswoman for the adjutant general’s office.

As a result, she said, the state is rushing to hire contractors to help clear debris.

The situation was no surprise to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who has warned for months that the National Guard was ill-prepared for a catastrophe because so much equipment and personnel were in Iraq.
And, not surprisingly,
national experts say the problem is not confined to Kansas.

A congressionally sponsored commission looking into military readiness reported last month that close to 90 percent of Guard units in this country were “not ready,” primarily because of equipment shortages.

In response, the Army has pledged to boost Guard spending by $23 billion though 2011, with further increases in subsequent years.

That spending won’t come soon enough for Greensburg.
And all President Unelected can do is don his white tie (which goes so well with an American flag lapel pin) and lose track of time.



Digby tips me off to the latest effect of the fascism of the Bushies—the creation of the so-called REAL ID system,
a massive national identification system without adequate privacy and security safeguards. [The system] will also make it more difficult for people to get driver's licenses, and it will make it too easy for identity thieves, stalkers, and corrupt government officials to get access to the personal data of 245 million license and cardholers nationwide.
created by the Department of Homeland Security (the same august bureau that acquitted itself so well in the Katrina episode and elsewhere).

Comments regarding this system must be sent to DHS by 5:00 PM TODAY, so vote early and often. Additional information (including the link to the DHS) can be found here.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Roger, Roger


The real problem the Yankees have had this year has been way too much exposure for their bullpen. Injuries have been part of it, poor starter performance has been part of it, and Joe Torre's extremely fast hook has been a part of it.

Roger Clemens averaged 5.96 innings per start last year. In the National League.

He will help the Yankees. But I'm not afraid. Whether the Sox win or lose this division will have very little to do with Clemens.

The Sox and Strategic Allocation


Ever wonder where John Henry got the money to buy the Florida Marlins and then the Red Sox? I have to admit, I'd never really wondered about it, but he's been one of America's leading hedge fund managers.

Alas, his fund has come upon hard times. Here's hoping the Sox don't have a similar decline.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Setting the Records Straight


There's a commercial on the YES network that has annoyed me for a few years. Michael Kay, in his usual pompous manner, asserts:

"The New York Yankees, the most renowned sports franchise in the world, have won more championships than any team in the history of sports."

Now, on its face I think the championships claim is a dumb one. "The history of sports?" Was there not some Mayan Stone-ball team that won every year? Didn't someone like Sparta dominate the boar-killing competitions? But even if you want to focus on "real" and "modern" sports. I was pretty sure that claim couldn't be true.

Turns out I was right. With about 3 minutes of research I found that Real Madrid has won the Spanish soccer league 29 times. And that doesn't count the 43 other major trophies they have won, since it's not fair to compare baseball with soccer in that regard.

I haven't been able to find a poll confirming my belief that Manchester United and a few other European giants are more "renonwed" than the Yankees, but I'll stand by it anyway. I do know that Man U and Real Madrid get much more money internationally from endorsement deals.

But anyway, official proof that Michael Kay is wrong once again, and should shut up, which I impolitely yell for him to do several times a night.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Rell's Rove


The Courant is reporting this morning that
Gov. M. Jodi Rell's 2006 campaign manager identified gubernatorial chief of staff M. Lisa Moody on Wednesday as the person responsible for giving the campaign an official state list of arts and tourism leaders, who then were solicited for campaign contributions up to $2,500.

"The campaign received this list through Lisa Moody. The lists were provided on a computer disc. ... I believe all of the individuals on the list were mailed a letter," Kevin M. Deneen, the lawyer from Windsor who managed Rell's successful election effort last year, wrote in a letter faxed Wednesday to two Democratic state legislative leaders who had asked questions about the campaign solicitations.

One of those leaders immediately blasted Moody for continuing to conduct campaign activities in the governor's office, just as she had before Rell's December 2005 fundraiser at the Marco Polo Restaurant in East Hartford. Moody's actions then led to a scandal, investigations and legislative hearings for much of last year.

"I'm not surprised by this revelation. Lisa Moody apparently thinks she's above the governor's office ethics policies," said state Rep. Christopher Caruso, D-Bridgeport, co-chairman of the legislature's government administration and elections committee. "This is the second time Lisa Moody has done it, politicking in the governor's office. ... The governor has spoken volumes about appropriate ethics. ... Now it's time for her to act."

Moody - whom Rell suspended for two weeks in the Marco Polo affair - did not return a phone call or an e-mail seeking comment Wednesday.

Rell press secretary Christopher Cooper said Wednesday night that Moody and other staffers did nothing wrong. "The governor has reviewed this matter with appropriate staff, including legal counsel, and has answered the questions posed by [the Democratic leaders]. Again, we reaffirm that this was and is, a public list used for official purposes and thus available to all members of the public."

Caruso said the issue isn't whether they are public records, but whether Rell's office should have been using them during state working hours for campaign purposes.
Once again, Governor Clubwoman has shown that she wants everybody to play nice except when it has to do with one of her aides. The time is long past when Moody should be removed. At the very least, the appearance of impropriety is enough for Moody to be relieved of her duties, but the governor is apparently too busy baking macaroni and cheese to let her go.

To a great extent, it seems to me, Moody is the governor's alter ego: a rather frumpish woman who's willing to do the dirty work while the white-gloved governor can attend her shop openings and Junior League meetings.

At any rate, for all of her supposed ethics, the governor certainly seems willing to let a lot slide.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Mayday! Mayday!


From Tim Grieve this morning:
On May 1, 2003, George W. Bush stood in front of a "Misson Accomplished" banner on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and declared: "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."

On May 1, 2007, the president will receive legislation from Congress setting a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. He will veto it.

On May 1, 2007, representatives of the largest bloc of Sunnis in Iraq's parliament are threatening to withdraw their ministers from Iraq's cabinet. They say they have "lost hope" that the Shiite-dominated government will treat them fairly.

On May 1, 2007, the Washington Post reports that the number of terrorism incidents in Iraq shot up 91 percent between 2005 and 2006.

On May 1, 2007, gunmen killed 14 Iraqis on a highway outside of Baghdad.

On May 1, 2007, the U.S. cost of the Iraq war will soon exceed $550 billion, enough to pay for college educations for nearly half of the kids in U.S. high schools today.

On May 1, 2007, we close the books on a month in which 104 U.S. soldiers were killed. Approximately 140 U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq before the president declared that "major combat operations" were over. Approximately 3,211 have been killed since then.
Happy anniversary.

Politically correct


Remember Janet Jackson's breast? Well, the Imus repercussions are every bit as nonsensical. E.g., apparently, a bill calling for more "civility" in political discourse was introduced in one of Connecticut's legislative houses. Fortunately, it was rejected.

Meanwhile, Senator Sanctimony, ever so watchful concerning civility in politics, asserts
"I think the public is fed up [with incivility in politics]. If the two major parties don't hear this going into '08, there is a real chance of an independent third-party candidacy—and watch out if that happens."
Hmmm. Let's see now. Just who is the only national politician of note who calls himself an "independent"?

Let's face it, Holy Joe wants civility only when people speak to him. The gloves are off when he's the one dishing it out.