Monday, July 30, 2007

I Still Like Edwards


While I know it's ridiculous even to think about this stuff at this point, I'm still in John Edwards' camp. While he certainly can be counted on to do the right thing in the foreign policy arena, his continuing beating of the two Americas drum—an issue which has to do with nothing less than whether the US survives or not—is something that no other candidate is so strident about. For example,

This is about as populist as one can get and is certainly something I haven't heard other candidates say as forcefully.

UPDATE — Take a look here for another commentary on the Democrats' populism.

Friday, July 27, 2007

If I had a dollar for every time ...


The Simpsons Movie has opened to great huzzahs. The plan here is to see it tomorrow Sunday.

Meanwhile, here's a little something to whet my appetite.

Tillman Watch


Like I said—a freakin' hydra. (By the way, this gets my vote for the story that'll be prominent today on most news outlets.)
Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman's forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player's death amounted to a crime ...

The Pentagon and the Bush administration have been criticized in recent months for lying about the circumstances of Tillman's death. The military initially told the public and the Tillman family that he had been killed by enemy fire. Only weeks later did the Pentagon acknowledge he was gunned down by fellow Rangers.

With questions lingering about how high in the Bush administration the deception reached, Congress is preparing for yet another hearing next week.

The Pentagon is separately preparing a new round of punishments, including a stinging demotion of retired Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr., 60, according to military officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the punishments under consideration have not been made public.
This whole incident, which was obviously used as a way to promote the sanctity of the Iraq invasion, is yet another PR attempt that's blown up in the Bushies' faces. God, what a dastardly, but utterly incompetent, crew they are.

UPDATE — As it turned out, this wasn't the big story of the day. Who could've predicted drunk astronauts?

Constitution Watch


Everything one might want to know about Fredo's testimony the other day—and the apparent surfeit of Big Brother activities of the Bush Administration—can be found here. The money paragraph:
In essence, the issue is this: if Gonzales succeeds in convincing the committee that there really is a material distinction between the [spying] program as it existed before and after Comey’s intervention, he won't just save himself from perjury. He will perhaps have preserved an administration strategy of concealing the scope of Program X from the public and most of Congress -- making it appear that the program that Bush disclosed in December 2005, incorporating Comey's objections, is the same program that existed since October 2001, long before Comey put the brakes on at least some aspects of it. That may be at the heart of the White House's claim of executive privilege to prevent the Senate Judiciary Committee from seeing documents detailing the genesis of Program X.
At this point, there's just so much illegality going on with the Bushies that it's hard to know what to concentrate on. Hydra-like, when legislators (or journalists) think they've zeroed in on one malfeasance another two or three suddenly appear.

Feckless Leader is worried about his legacy—and various water carriers continue to say that his reputation will improve with time—but the truth of the matter seems to be that the legacy will take decades to be known and will suffer with each revelation.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Today's Head Scratcher


A mere two days after Arlen Specter "told Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to consider appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the firings of federal prosecutors," Pennsylvania's senior senator has decided that he won't support the same thing as called for by Chuck Schumer.
"Do I support Senator Schumer's request for a special prosecutor? No," Specter said. "I think Senator Schumer has made a practice of politicizing this matter."

Specter has been very critical of Gonzales, but he called Schumer's request "precipitous."
Cripes. This guy's almost as wishy-washy as Holy Joe.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I wish I'd thought of that


From Americablog, comparing the Mall of America with modern-day Baghdad after Minnesota's airheaded Republican Congresswoman, Michelle Bachmann, gushed at Iraq's capital's palaces:

Chuck Schumer


Well, New Yorkers, you got your money's worth yesterday. View, listen, and be impressed.

It goes without saying that Connecticut's voters should be envious of Mr. Schumer's doggedness.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Conspiracy Theory


We're doomed.

Josh Marshall et al


As a result of his expanded staff, Josh Marshall is now surveying all the news that's fit to print. There's really little that an inconsequential observer of the news (such as I) can add.

For example, the TPM gang astutely points out the foolishness of Fredo Gonzales staying on as the AG. Or, as today's Wall Street Journal puts it: "Gonzales said he needs to stay to repair the image of the Justice Department." The irony of that statement is overwhelming.

TPM also discusses AG the AG's third appearance before Pat Leahy's Senate Judiciary Committee today.

Fasten your seat belts.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Cheney's Poodle


President George W. Bush ... handed his powers to Vice President Dick Cheney [this] morning while he was sedated for a routine colon cancer test ...
And this is different from who's been running the show for the last six years, how?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Scoop, Meet Logic; Logic, Meet Scoop


Scoop Jackson, obviously just trying to stir up angry and sexist emails, asserts today that "women are more dominant in sports than men," and makes the (sometimes sound, sometimes not) argument that is represented by the assertion that someone like Mia Hamm was more dominant in soccer than someone like Ronaldinho. Substitute Lisa Fernandez/Roger Clemens, Pat Summitt/John Wooden, Cynthia Cooper/Michael Jordan, and repeat.

His claim is not that they are necessarily better, but that they were more dominant.

Sure, on its face that actually might be true, but in supporting his (pointless) closing statement that maybe women should be the namesakes for all 4 (pointless) brackets in ESPN's (pointless) "Who's Now?" competition, he misses a major point. And I'll give it its own line:

It is easier to dominate a sport when the level of competition is lower and less mature.

Mia Hamm is the most dominant women's soccer player ever and anywhere. But ever and anywhere truly covers about 20 years and 7-8 countries that take it seriously. And to varying degrees the same type of assessment can be made for women's golf, women's boxing, women's basketball, etc.

The same phenomenon can be applied to baseball throughout history. Looking back in time, you find decreasing numbers of players who truly dominate the sport as you go forward through the history of the game. In the early days there were pitchers and hitters who really owned the sport. As the game became more popular, it became harder for someone to dominate as a larger talent pool and the continuing evolution of best practices made the gap between the best players and the average players smaller and smaller. This is similar to why a guy can hit .600 in high school baseball, .450 in college, .330 in the minors, and then .300 in the majors.

As competition increases, it becomes harder to dominate. So, good for Laila Ali for being undefeated and Cynthia Cooper for winning a bunch of MVPs. They will go down some day in their respective hall of fames or whatever, but their sports right now are 1920s baseball or 1950s basketball. A higher level of dominance does not equate to a higher level of greatness.

(And that doesn't even address the issue that "Who's Now?" is about marketing combined with greatness, not dominance, but discussing that would validate the whole existence of "Who's Now?")

God bless the BBC


Waiting for a plane at Heathrow allows me to blog on what I found to be the most impressive story I heard while in England. Viz., BBC television's admission that it had run some dishonest call-in shows on its various networks. This series of malfeasances was the major story of Wednesday evening on the news programs of ... the BBC.

Can anyone imagine comparable news organizations in the US (and I'm thinking specifically of the enablers, the New York Times and the Washington Post) featuring the various screwups they've been guilty of in such a prominent fashion? I sure can't, and it's certainly one of the reasons I'll miss England—and one of the things I'll remember it most fondly for.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Nerdy Stat of the Day


Now that OPS has entered the mainstream (with only the most reactionary of sportswriters continuing to mock it), are you feeling a bit too pedestrian in your geeky stat talk? Well, you can always take it to the next level with OPS+.

I'll let the folks at explain (as they will do more entertainingly than Baseball Prospectus):
Anytime you see a “+” sign in front of a stat, it means that the stat has been adjusted for the specific season(s) to which that stat applies. OPS+, for example, is simply OPS measured against the league average OPS for that year/years, and adjusted for park factors (see below). 100 is defined as average. So, an OPS+ of 115 means that the player in question was 15% better than the average player who played in his league during the time he played. It’s a quick and dirty way of comparing hitters on a level playing field, because it accounts, obviously, for the general offensive trends that mark baseball history. In 1968, Carl Yastrzemski hit 23 HR and had a .922 OPS, which is very good. But his OPS+ was 171, which is excellent, because offense league-wide in 1968 was hard to come by. For contrast, Mark McGwire hit 65 HR in 1999, but his OPS+ was “only” 178, because the whole world was juicing balls into the stratosphere that year, so compared to his peers McGwire was roughly the same amount as awesome as Yaz was when he hit only 23 in ’68.
Now that you know what it is, here are the top 20 career OPS+, excluding people who played mostly in the 1800s:

1. Babe Ruth, 207
2. Ted Williams, 190
3. Barry Bonds, 182
4. Lou Gehrig, 179
5. Rogers Hornsby, 175
6. Mickey Mantle, 172
7. Joe Jackson, 170
8. Albert Pujols, 169
9. Ty Cobb, 167
10. Jimmie Foxx, 163
10. Mark McGwire, 163
12. Stan Musial, 159
13. Hank Greenberg, 158
13. Johnny Mize, 158
13. Tris Speaker, 158
13. Frank Thomas, 158
17. Dick Allen, 156
17. Willie Mays, 156
17. Manny Ramirez, 156
20. Hank Aaron, 155
20. Joe DiMaggio, 155
20. Mel Ott, 155

There you go. Another reason Frank Thomas should be a shoo-in for the HOF, and, holy crap, has Albert Pujols been good!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bowing at the feet of the Internet


The last time I was in England, communications between the UK and the US were virtually non-existent. I can remember that it took two days for us to find out the score of that year's All-Star game.

This year it's been completely different as Oxford University, with its wireless Internet system, has allowed me to find out all kinds of things—from Ichiro's inside-the-park home run on Tuesday night to Albany's awful rain storms the same evening.

And, of course, I've been following the American political news as well—from Senator Sanctimony's natterings ("on the run," my ankle) to Sara Taylor's hopeless circumlocutions of yesterday. Anyway, it's a real luxury being able to follow this stuff while on this side of the Atlantic. I just hope that we'll be able to do so as we visit less—shall I say—cosmopolitan areas.

The thing that's caught my eye this morning in looking over American news is the following: Apparently, the Bushies will soon be releasing an update on how things are going in Iraq and will point out that
the new American strategy in Iraq has been satisfactory on nearly half of the 18 benchmarks set by Congress, according to several administration officials.
the report also acknowledges that some military benchmarks have not been met, including improvements in the ability and political neutrality of the Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi government. Even in some areas where the report will cite progress, the officials in Washington said the document would acknowledge that the overall goal of political reconciliation remained elusive and would chide the Iraqis for failing to take advantage of the presence of more American troops to take more far-reaching steps.
And one need look no farther than here to see that security in Iraq remains a real problem and is, in fact, an obstacle to Americans' safety.
A previously undisclosed Army investigation into an audacious January attack in Karbala that killed five U.S. soldiers concludes that Iraqi police working alongside American troops colluded with insurgents ...

The investigation reveals several new details about the assault, including:

•Iraqi police suddenly vanished from the government compound before the shooting started.

•Attackers, evidently briefed on how U.S. forces would defend themselves, bottled up more than three dozen soldiers in a barracks and headquarters complex using a combination of smoke and fragment grenades and satchel charges to blow up Humvees.

•Gunmen knew exactly where to find and abduct U.S. officers.

•Iraqi vendors operating a PX and barbershop went home early.

•A back gate was left unlocked and unguarded.
Thank you, Mr. CEO President. That $12 billion a month is certainly money well spent.

On a personal note, happy belated birthdays to Chill and reader Oslandocle. Here's hoping they were happy and relatively abstemious.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Alternative Headlines

SPORTING GOODS's #2 headline right now reads: "Pujols angered at La Russa for All-Star benching"

Other headlines they could have gone with:
"National League fans angered at La Russa for Pujols All-Star benching"
"Fans of entertaning baseball angered at La Russa for Pujols All-Star benching"
"Mets, Brewers, Padres, Dodgers angered at 3rd-place La Russa for Pujols All-Star benching"
"Red Sox, Tigers, Indians, Angels send flowers to moron"

Bases loaded, 2 outs, 1-run game, bottom of the 9th. The drama, the excitement, the...what the hell is Pujols doing on the bench while Orlando Hudson and Aaron Rowand take turns at the plate!?!?!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Leaving no political stone unturned


DarLucky sends along this article concerning the politicization of the Surgeon General's office, and Digby comments upon it.



If you like tennis, I hope you didn't miss the Wimbledon final, as it was an all-time great. Nadal proved he can play with Federer on grass, and absolutely pushed him to his limit. I used to root against Federer, but now I generally find myself rooting for him. But I'll be rooting for Nadal to get far into every tournament in hopes we have more rematches.

Here's a slightly over the top, but very good, commentary on the final and Federer's greatness.

What Digby Said


Anent the news that the US is spending $12 billion a month on the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations:
Americans ... have a right to be appalled that we are throwing this gigantic sum of money into that sinkhole ... even as we see Americans dying from .... all kinds of neglected infrastructure, bad health care, environmental degradation, tainted food supply, natural disasters and a host of other ills that only the government can deal with—and isn't. Now [the Bushies] are about to start with their tired mantra of "tax and spend," and insist on cutting even more necessary programs after they've run up a trillion dollar debt for an unnecessary war and enriched their defense contractor owners beyond their wildest dreams.
As Chill says, the idiocies of the Bushies are becoming enervating, leading one to a feeling of hopelessness—or worse.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Where we are; where we're going


From the other side of the pond, I see that the White House simply won't comply with any subpoenas that may be coming from Congress regarding Plamegate, Attorneygate, or anything else.

God help us all because this will obviously end up in the Supreme Court where the power of the executive may well be sustained. Should that occur, our constitutional form of government will be over.

USA—it's been nice knowing you.

Friday, July 06, 2007



Off to England tomorrow for nearly a fortnight. It'll be kind of nice to spend some time in a country whose leader, if he really screws up, has the good sense to resign.

And speaking of morons, if any readers of this blog have any connection with Johns Hopkins University, they might be interested in seeing this incredible—and I use the word advisedly—performance by one of the institution's professors.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day


... at least for Scooter Libby.

And I still say that people's understanding of the meaning of the day, and of the country for that matter, can be found in a colloquy I wrote about four years ago.
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.
Happy 4th.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Above the law


Well, the decider has decided to commute a known felon's sentence. And why not, I say. He's sitting in the White House by skirting the rule of law. He might as well continue his prostitution.

And we've still got 567 days to go of this malfeasance.

Summertime — and the living is easy


Light blogging—if any at all—these days as summer chores are the priority. For those who'd like to read some good stuff, take a look at Atrios here and here (follow the links). Also the speeches of Barack Obama and Bill Moyers delivered last weekend at the UCC Synod in Hartford are worth a look.