Saturday, May 31, 2008

To the Bay State


Mrs. Monocle and I are off to Massachusetts to help celebrate the 20th anniversary of a friend's arrival at a certain church in the state.

He's a fairly important figure in the lives of some readers of this blog.

Friday, May 30, 2008

St. Jim


Chill reports that
the University of Connecticut has scheduled a short-notice news conference for this afternoon to make an announcement concerning Men's Basketball Coach Jim Calhoun.
It's certainly possible that the coach will have to step down for health reasons, but we'll see.

Should the Huskies be looking for a new coach, I'd like them to choose former Calhoun assistant Howie Dickenman, who's done a great job with a skeleton program at CCSU. Another good in-state candidate (and another former assistant at UConn) is Tom Moore, now the head coach at Quinnipiac. (I assume the university wouldn't be interested in promoting the aged former Dartmouth coach, George Blaney.)



As unbalanced as I truly believe Senator Sanctimony is, he's got nothing on this guy.

This just in ...


Feckless Leader doesn't plan to read Scott McClellan's book.

He's no doubt too busy with the other weighty tomes he's been known to peruse.

The McClellan Story, cont'd


Scott McClellan's charge that the national news media neglected their watchdog role in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq has really caught the attention of bloggers and members of the media themselves.

This morning's New York Times has a story wherein Katie Couric—Katie Couric!—avers that
she had felt pressure from government officials and corporate executives to cast the war in a positive light ... Ms. Couric said the lack of skepticism shown by journalists about the Bush administration’s case for war amounted to "one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism."
Of course, bloggers of a certain persuasion have been saying this for years: that the so-called mainstream media rolled over on just about every lunacy the Bushies perpetrated on the American public. And while some may opine that the myth of the liberal media is dead, as long as MSNBC, Fox, CNN, et allia, are owned by Republican-voting billionaires and/or multinational corporations, the situation won't change: Republicans will continue to be mollycoddled by both electronic and print media outlets.

Thank goodness for the internets.

The world's most exclusive club


I know I sound like a broken record on this, but, damn, I'm tired of US senators who just refuse to retire.

New Jersey has its own version of this phenomenon with the campaign of 84-year-old Frank Lautenberg. The Garden State's senior senator (the double meaning is intended) is hoping to win his fifth term in the Senate, which would make him a nonegenarian when the upcoming term ends. That's not a willingness to serve; that's egomania. (I can understand US senators' reluctance to leave the womb of the Capitol: In their dotage they're certainly treated far better than they would be at any assisted living facility or comparable venue. I can understand it, but I don't have to like it.)

Unfortunately, the only way out of this ridiculous situation is for legislators to pass a bill providing for term limits. That obviously will never happen.

Meanwhile, the US Senate becomes more and more like the Mormons' superannuated Quorum of the Twelve, and that's not a compliment.

Bad seed


I can't say I'm exactly overjoyed that I helped pay this guy's salary for a while.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Crawling from under various rocks


New York Governor Paterson's directive to state agencies to recognize gay marriages legally performed in other states and countries is already causing quite a stir in the Empire State.
The Rev. Duane Motley of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms says the Democratic governor is circumventing the Legislature and courts and slapping New Yorkers in the face.
I'm struck by the incredibly ironic name of the Rev. Mr. Motley's homophobic group. One would assume that a group with such a moniker would support (in best Lewis Black imitation) the equal protection of the laws!

Oh well. Let Mr. Black speak on my behalf regarding this issue. (The last minute or so is the most salient.)

The right answer


This is by no means all that needs to be done between January 21 and April 30 of next year, but it'd certainly be a good start.

UPDATE — dday at Hullabaloo discusses another priority.

Senator Septuagenarian's Connecticut VP Choice?


(And, no, it's not Senator Sanctimony.) Michael Medved at opines that the "one credible female candidate" for the Republican vice president slot is none other than Connecticut's own Board of Education chair governor, M. Jodi Rell.

My initial reaction is that this sounds great: She resigns in order to run, the Republicans lose, and the state no longer has to put up with the governor's simpering ways. However, after further review, I realize that she wouldn't have to resign (cf. Holy Joe in 2000) and that Lt. Governor Michael Fedele (Like his boss, a possessor of no college degree; you'd think that in one of the most highly educated states in the nation, the top two individuals in the executive branch would have diplomas.) seems like no prize.

Oh well. The whole idea is a nice diversion on a lovely Thursday morning. It sure is getting the state's media outlets excited.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The McClellan story, cont'd


Just how serious are Democrats going to be about Scott McClellan's revelations? We may soon find out as Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) today
called for former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan to appear before the House Judiciary Committee to testify under oath regarding the devastating revelations made in his new book on the Bush Administration’s deliberate efforts to mislead the American people into the Iraq War.
Rep. Wexler, a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, is apparently very interested in the possibility that
Karl Rove and Scooter Libby—and possibly Vice President Cheney—conspired to obstruct justice by lying about their role in the Plame Wilson matter.
Plame Wilson?! Holy smokes. If that toothpaste ever gets out of the tube, we'll see people serving time. This could get very interesting as Scott McClellan becomes the Alexander Butterfield of this Republican administration.

Of course, with myriad bootlicking legislators from both parties in the Congress, this whole thing could go the way of so many felonies committed by the Bushies—that is to say, nowhere.

Going postal


The Bushies are falling all over themselves in defense of Scott McClellan's accusations. It's all pretty funny.

By the way, we can now add "former Presidential Press Secretary" to the short list of occupations that invariably follow the adjective, "disgruntled."

He that lies down with dogs ...


The map to the right comes from a University of Michigan study, and it shows the latest voter preferences by congressional district. At first glance, it looks fairly encouraging as it looks pretty blue. (Utah, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska are obviously lost causes.) Nevertheless, many of the azure districts are in the south where who knows what kind of Democratic candidates are in the area's respective races. Indeed, the topic of the post from where the map comes has to do with Mitch McConnell's apparent problems in Kentucky:
[McConnell's Democratic opponent, Bruce] Lunsford, ... is a decidedly eccentric Democrat who actually endorsed the Republican gubernatorial candidate in 2003 after he lost the Democratic nomination.
Given the fact that the so-called Blue Dog Democrats haven't exactly distinguished themselves since 2006, I'm not sure if the (dare I say inevitable?) raft of new Democratic legislators will do any better.

But here's hoping.

Where's John?


The funniest story of the day must surely be that Feckless Leader will be in Utah today to raise millions for Senator Septuagenarian's presidential bid, but the latter is avoiding the place like the plague. And they used to be such good friends, too.

It's extremely amusing to see Republicans run like scared rabbits from the deleterious effects of having anything to do with Germ-laden George.

Catapulting the Propaganda


This is bound to get a lot of attention in the next week or so:
The spokesman who defended President Bush's policies through Hurricane Katrina and the early years of the Iraq war is now blasting his former employers, saying the Bush administration became mired in propaganda and political spin and at times played loose with the truth.

In excerpts from a 341-page book to be released Monday, Scott McClellan writes on Iraq that Bush "and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war."
With the exception of the identity of its author, I don't think this information is going to surprise anyone.

My favorite part of the story? Bush's Brain's reaction:
Fox News contributor and former White House adviser Karl Rove said on that network Tuesday that the excerpts from the book he's read sound more like they were written by a "left-wing blogger" than his former colleague.
Well, at least we left-wing bloggers got a little publicity.

Taking from the poor


U.S. home prices fell at an annualized 6.92% rate in the first quarter, according to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight's purchase-only quarterly index. This is the largest decline in the index's 17-year history.
Especially hard hit are such retirement nirvanas as Miami and Las Vegas.

Nevertheless, Governor Clubwoman
vetoed an increase in the state's hourly minimum wage Tuesday, inviting an election-year override attempt by the legislature's Democratic majority.

Rell said her veto was prompted by the weak economy, though the bill would not take effect until 2009. It would raise the $7.65 wage to $8 on Jan. 1 and to $8.25 in 2010.

"We cannot take a chance on hurting families or employers by signing another minimum wage increase into law at this time," Rell said in a written statement.
The governor has shown her lack of insight once again: It's been well established that a positive correlation between a higher minimum wage and employment exists. Thus, her argument that such an increase might hurt families is specious. Moreover, when a sixteen year old hamburger flipper is contributing to a family's total income, it's hard to see how raising his income could be harmful.

It's eminently possible that the state's Democratic legislators will try to overturn this callous veto.
Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Brooklyn, said Rell overstated the harm to employers.

"We're not talking about putting the brakes on the Connecticut economy," Williams said. "We're talking about helping workers at the bottom rung of the salary scale."

"I'm disappointed Gov. Rell would deny a modest increase to our lowest-paid workers in tough economic times," House Majority Leader Christopher G. Donovan, D-Meriden, [added].
I, too, am disappointed because, at the very least, the symbolism of such a move is troubling. With such a veto, the anti-Rowland has shown her affinity with anti-worker groups such as the CBIA and SAHOA. This isn't consoling in these tough times for many people.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Sporting Goods

ESPN actually has as its front-page a debate about whether Robert Horry should be in the Basketball Hall of Fame. According the the caption:
The big shots (too many to count) and seven NBA championship rings say Robert Horry is a winner. But is he a Hall of Famer? His numbers in 16 seasons (7 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 4.3 apg) begin a debate.
1. I'm pretty sure there are not "too many [big shots] to count."

2. I'm not even going to read the article but I'm going to end any debate. "24.4." That's Robert Horry's minutes per game in his career. Hall of fame? Give me a break, coaches haven't played him for half the game for his career yet he's supposed to be a hall of famer. He's a good player that's been on a bunch of great teams and made all the big shots because he was, at best, the third offensive option at the end of the game. Thus explaining why he was always open for the big shots. He deserves all the praise in the world for repeatedly hitting the big shot but a place in the Hall of Fame is ridiculous.

P.S. - I decided to read the article. Apparently, the author thinks Horry should make it because K.C. Jones made it:
Just know this: The NBA hasn't seen a winner like Horry in three decades. John Havlicek retired in 1978, the last member of the Boston Celtics' 1960s dynasty to check out, and one of only six players in NBA history with a championship ring collection larger than Horry's seven. Of those six players -- Bill Russell (11 rings), Sam Jones (10), Tom Heinsohn, K.C. Jones, Tom Sanders and Havlicek (eight each) -- Sanders is the only one not in the Hall of Fame. But the fact that K.C. Jones is makes the case for Horry.

Jones averaged 7.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in his nine-year career. Horry has averaged 7.0 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in 16 seasons. Jones proved there's a place in the Hall for underwhelming statistics if they came on winning teams.
It always good when pundits describe the barrier to entry as the lowest hurdle, with anybody exceeding it as worthy of entry. To his own credit, at the time he was elected to the Hall, Jones himself said he was "shocked." The article linked also notes that Jones was fabled for his defense. Oh and Jones also coached teams to two titles. That's not supposed to help him but I'm sure it did.

Freedom Grill


I saw an add for this while I was at Yankee Stadium a couple of weeks ago. Its the "Freedom Grill." The Freedom Grill is a grill that attaches to the tailgate of a truck or SUV. Basically, its a grill to take to the game for tailgating, but that can permanently be attached to the car. (Thankfully, it appears that the propane tank must first be removed.)

For what it's worth, I actually don't have a problem with the idea. The name, though, that's another story. Haven't we gotten past the point of attaching "Freedom" to something in a lame attempt to show our patriotism/nationalism while marketing our products? I guess not. I actually find it comical. Just like I find the "United We Stand Deli" around the corner from me, with its absurd American flag awning, funny. (Of course, that might just be a cultural overreaction in the wake of 9/11, much like the Afghan restaurant in "Andy Barker P.I." Yes, I watched that show.) Anyway, after forgetting about it for a couple of days, I decided to check out the website. That's when the comical became absurd. Now I get that with a name like Freedom Grill, I should have expected the logo to involve an eagle. But this is the Freedom Grill logo:

And for some reason, it reminds me more of this:
than this:

which I would hazard a guess is what the makers were going for. Nevertheless, given the lame nationalism/patriotism the makers were going for with a name like Freedom Grill, I find the "mistake" more than a little ironic.



Blogs are reporting this morning that Senator Sanctimony "is the scheduled headliner for the Rev. John Hagee's 2008 Christians United For Israel 'Washington-Israel Summit' this summer."

It's hard to believe that anyone could outdo Senator Septuagenarian when it comes to pandering, but I think we have a winner.

Lest anyone not remember exactly what positions Connecticut's junior senator appears to be sanctioning, it might be instructive to look at this link wherein we find that the Rev. Mr. Hagee has
depicted Jews as Christ killers[,] stated that Muslims have a "mandate" to kill Christians and Jews[,] and [averred] that God caused Hurricane Katrina to destroy New Orleans to prevent a scheduled gay parade.
I can't for the life of me understand why Holy Joe would want to get involved in something as vile as this. I can only assume that he's suffering from a grave psychological condition.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Ah, the halcyon days of December, 2000


Apparently, HBO is showing a movie tonight (on one of the high holy days of the Republic, no less) entitled Recount, which has to do with exactly what one might think its subject is.

While I don't get HBO anyway, I'd have no inclination to watch the film for exactly the reason Steve Benen and Atrios articulate: The whole episode is just too depressing.

There is one moderately amusing aspect of the story: Leave it to the Republican apologist not to know the difference between "busses" and "buses," although with Katherine Harris's track record, he might've known whereof he spoke.

Get off the TV, you hideous crone


Who is this woman, and why hasn't she been indicted?

UPDATE — Josh Marshall answers one of my queries.

Picking up the ball


While I don't like the incessant overlapping of the purposes of Memorial Day and Veterans Day, I can't help but be impressed by this Memorial Day article wherein we find private interests actually doing some good for veterans (as opposed to entities like Blackwater and KBR) in what should be a public endeavor.
Thousands of private counselors are offering free services to troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with mental health problems, jumping in to help because the military is short on therapists.

On this Memorial Day, America's armed forces and its veterans are coping with depression, suicide, family, marital and job problems on a scale not seen since Vietnam. The government has been in beg-borrow-and-steal mode, trying to hire psychiatrists and other professionals, recruit them with incentives or borrow them from other agencies ...

There are only 1,431 mental health professionals among the nation's 1.4 million active-duty military personnel ...

About 300,000 of those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to have anxiety or post-traumatic stress, a recent private study said. Add in spouses left home to manage families and households without their partner as well as children deprived of parents during long or repeated tours of duty, and the number with problems balloons to 1 million.
Happy Memorial Day to all.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mission to Mars


I'm not a big fan of NASA, but in these days when the federal government seems incapable of anything except screwing up, it's almost refreshing to see something go right for a change.

Angels and Demons


Apropos of nothing, here's one of my favorite jokes. And, yes, it's clean; I only like dirty jokes if they're written by Chaucer.

More presidential vacuity


Yesterday's radio give and take between GI George and Ohio state senator John Boccieri pretty much sums up the opposing positions of the two major political parties regarding veterans and the war dead.

GI George does nothing but pay lip service to them:
No words are adequate to console those who have lost a loved one serving our nation. We can only offer our prayers and join in their grief. We grieve for the mother who hears the sound of her child's 21-gun salute. We grieve for the husband or wife who receives a folded flag. We grieve for a young son or daughter who only knows Dad from a photograph.
Needless to say, Feckless Leader has yet to attend one funeral for any service person who has died as a result of his Godforsaken policy, but it goes farther than that. The Bushies have consistently reduced veterans' benefits, and, of course, the preznit himself continues to state he'll veto a new version of the GI Bill. Thus, GI George isn't kidding when he states, "We can only offer our prayers." He's certainly not doing anything to improve veterans' plight.

Boccieri, who flew in Iraq as an Air Force Reserve pilot, called on President Bush and Sen. John McCain to rethink opposition to an expansion of the GI bill.

I'm struck by the primary argument of the opponents of the bill: that providing such a benefit would encourage members of the military to leave after only one enlistment. That's about as clear a statement as can be found that Republicans wish to keep the have nots in that position for as long as possible.

UPDATE — Richard Reeves fulminates about this issue in today's Courant. Digby has also chimed in.

Saturday, May 24, 2008



In the waning days of the administration of the worst president ever, I find myself wanting to start ever more posts with "Just when I think I've heard it all ..." This is such a post.

Apparently, the President's Council on Bioethics (While I didn't know of the council's existence, it's not surprising to me that our 16th century thinking president should have one; it appears to have been created specifically to justify Genome George's stance on stem cell research.) recently released a a 555-page report entitled Human Dignity and Bioethics. While the entire notion is somewhat ridiculous (I.e., the idea of torture-endorsing GI George being advised on human dignity is ironic at best.), the following idea got a number of people's attention:
Worst of all from this point of view are those more uncivilized forms of eating, like licking an ice cream cone--a catlike activity that has been made acceptable in informal America but that still offends those who know eating in public is offensive. ... Eating on the street--even when undertaken, say, because one is between appointments and has no other time to eat--displays [a] lack of self-control: It beckons enslavement to the belly. ... Lacking utensils for cutting and lifting to mouth, he will often be seen using his teeth for tearing off chewable portions, just like any animal. ... This doglike feeding, if one must engage in it, ought to be kept from public view, where, even if we feel no shame, others are compelled to witness our shameful behavior.
Think of that the next time you indulge in a frozen treat, C-Train.

(Thanks to NPR's "Wait, Wait" for pointing this out.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Getting Better Every Month


The National Association of Realtors' past and current chief economists have been much maligned for their interesting/creative/criminal takes on the state and future of the housing market. I think today’s headline takes the cake: in the face of accelerating deterioration of the housing market (this time a year-over-year 8% decline in prices and inventory close to record levels) the current NAR Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, spun the news to claim the market is now “better positioned for a turn-around.” It’s been getting better month-after-month, and will likely be in an even better position next month.

For anyone who hasn’t listened yet, Ira Glass and the crew at This American Life has put together a very interesting piece on the current housing crisis called “Giant Pool of Money”.

The Dangerous Democrats


Since the piece was just more of the same, I didn't bother to mention Senator Sanctimony's ravings in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal. Today, Joe Biden responds in a fairly perceptive manner.

Symbol of might to the foe


While I'm following the NBA Eastern finals at best tangentially, it's still pretty cool to see two outstanding former UConn Huskies going at it.

UPDATE — The AP thinks it's pretty cool, too.

Dice-K is killing me


(With apologies to Chill.) Not that I'm given to hyperbole, but Daisuke Matsuzaka may well be the worst 8-0 pitcher in the history of the major leagues.

Stat of the day: It took the 52 Million Dollar Man 118 pitches to get 17 outs yesterday.

Cleansing the temple


The fact that Senator Septuagenarian is willing to reject the backing of obvious lunatics may mean nothing, but at least he seems to see that spurning such endorsements might be advantageous to his run.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Free speech


Here's a disappointment:
CN8 has fired veteran TV journalist Barry Nolan for publicly protesting the decision by the local Emmy Awards to honor Fox News blowhard Bill O’Reilly.

Nolan ... was fired Tuesday following a two-week, unpaid suspension.
I actually like Barry Nolan; when I happened to catch his show, I thought he was unpretentious and insightful—certainly nothing like the buffoon he was fired over.

Of course, Comcast took CN8, its own network, away from this area's "expanded basic" customers months ago in order to add yet another shopping channel to its already feeble lineup. Thus, I haven't had a chance to watch Mr. Nolan in quite a while.

The Haves vs. the have mores


A certain Connecticut shoreline town had its budget referendum on Tuesday, and both the town and school budgets passed.

Nevertheless, it's striking that the education budget was defeated in District 1, where the older money (and people) reside. I'm not being entirely facetious when I wonder if a call for splitting the town is in its future.

I can't wait for the DVD


Law & Order concluded its season last night with a thinly-veiled interpretation of the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal. The much-anticipated finale was probably a letdown to any viewer familiar with lurid details of the former governor's trysts (black socks!) or the many racy pictures of his call girl Ashley Dupre. There was way too much investigating and lawyering and way too little fornicating and covering up. Is sweeps already over? Anyway, there were still some worthwhile scenes, including the requisite sardonic one-liner that detective Lenny used to do (directed at a hooker, naturally) and a demonstration of how to destroy a governor-screwing hooker on cross examination.
And here I thought The Simpsons would be first with a Spitzer sendup.

Oil at $135/bbl


Americans were told eight years ago that, with veteran oilmen in the White House, the price of oil (and just about all consumer goods) would be controlled. How's that been working out?

The Kennedy Seat


Just as one of the positions in the SCOTUS has turned into the "black seat," it looks as if a comparable position has been de facto created in the Senate.

While I'm certainly sympathetic to the medical plight of the senior senator from Massachusetts, the question of his successor has arisen, and we're hearing more of the dynastic crap that's becoming all too common. At least three Kennedys are already apparently being talked about for the post when it becomes available, and the ailing Senator himself "has made clear to confidants that when his time is up, he wants his Senate seat to stay in the family—with his wife, Vicki."

The same Senate seat has been manned by someone named Kennedy for more than half a century, and, although I've rarely disagreed with the politics of its occupants, my feelings about the republic make me wish for some new blood.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I'm Voting for ...


Attention Mets Fans

Sporting Goods

Jose Reyes is not the problem:

April 100 13 24 5 3 2 9 9 0 12 6 2 .240 .300 .410 .710
May 69 10 21 4 2 2 9 8 0 12 6 2 .304 .372 .507 .879

And Jose's problem this year has been Left Handed Pitchers, which based on his history, I would expect to revert to something like his performance in 2006 or 2007, meaning Jose is going to have a fine season:

vs. Left 54 5 13 3 1 1 3 4 0 7 3 2 .241 .288 .389 .677

vs. Left 182 46 60 9 3 6 25 14 0 20 19 4 .330 .378 .511 .889

vs. Left 192 39 61 13 2 1 12 17 0 15 21 7 .318 .373 .422 .795

Luis Castillo is Killing Me

Sporting Goods

Luis Castillo is killing the Mets and, by extension, me. Take tonight's game for example. Second inning, Braves' 2B Kelly Johnson makes a one out error putting runners on 2nd and 3rd. Up comes Luis Castillo. The infield is playing back. A ground ball scores a run. Castillo strikes out.

In the bottom of the 3rd inning, 2 outs, ground ball to Castillo, he slow plays it, bobbles the exchange, and the runner at first is safe. Next two batters get hits and a 1-0 Mets lead turns into a 3-1 deficit.

Luis Castillo, you stink. And thanks to Omar Minaya, you are rich and will be on the Mets for 3+ more years. Awesome.

Thanks for the Memories

Sporting Goods

Best Hitting Catcher Ever

(Thanks to Yossarian for the painting/picture. )

How the mighty have fallen


Posted without comment:
Jose Canseco blames two costly divorces for the financial woes that led to the foreclosure on his home. What's an admitted steroid user to do for cash? How about celebrity boxing?

Canseco and promoter Damon Feldman are seeking a challenger to fight the former Oakland Athletics star on July 12 in Atlantic City. The chosen opponent will be paid $5,000. Brave souls should e-mail

No word on whether Canseco, who admitted to having used steroids throughout his baseball career, will be juiced for the fight.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Michael, Michael, Bo, Bichael ...


For those who might be nomenclators some time in their lives, the following may be of interest:
New parents in Connecticut were most likely to name their child either "Michael" or "Isabella", according to the Social Security Administration's 2007 baby name list.
The prominence of "Isabella" may be due to the state's increasing Spanish population, but I have no way of knowing that.



For years, boys have been seen as a great "problem" in education to the point where it's been suggested that gender-specific schools be established, so boys can identify with positive role models and take classes geared to their way of thinking.

In the last few years, The Atlantic Monthly, for example, has featured a couple of articles on the subject, having to do with "The Other Gender Gap" and "The War Against Boys."

Now it turns out
that a "boys crisis" in U.S. schools is a myth and that both sexes have stayed the same or improved on standardized tests in the past decade.

The report by the nonprofit American Association of University Women, which promotes education and equity for women, reviewed nearly 40 years of data on achievement from fourth grade to college and for the first time analyzed gender differences within economic and ethnic categories.

The most important conclusion of "Where the Girls Are: The Facts About Gender Equity in Education" is that academic success is more closely associated with family income than with gender, its authors said.
I don't find this conclusion particularly surprising. If the primary indicator of success on the SATs is family income, it stands to reason that this criterion could affect success in students' education overall.

I'm sure that many contemporary educators will dismiss these data, but ask virtually any middle school assistant principal who her biggest problems are, and she won't think of those with the Y chromosome.



The story of Jon Lester's no-hitter last night is certainly an inspiring one. Here's a guy who's lucky to be in baseball (and/or alive), much less attain one of pitching's greatest feats.

I saw the last two innings, and it was amusing to watch. The players in the dugout wouldn't even look at Lester (and vice versa), and the tv announcers, of course, would not utter the word, "no-hitter," until the 27th out was in the books.

I certainly don't want to take anything away from Lester's magnificent achievement, but, my God, do the Royals stink. The first two batters Lester faced in the ninth have batting averages of, respectively, .103 and .169. I had to like his chances with those ducks starting off the last inning.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Septuagenarian Republicans


Is it too early to start comparing the upcoming presidential election with the 1996 exercise? In both we've got an aging Republican (one 73, the other 71) running against a virile Democrat—in 1996, the Democrat being virile to a fault. Both Republicans might be looked upon as sacrificial lambs as they're rewarded for being good and faithful servants; in both instances, they're veterans who had horrendous war experiences; and in both instances, age is an issue in the campaign.

Robert Dole, the Republicans' candidate in 1996, tried to prove that he was fit for the job—going so far as to be photographed on a treadmill in a terribly geeky pose. (Only turtlehead Michael Dukakis ever looked stupider.) And Saturday evening, this decade's septuagenarian candidate tried to deflect the issue by making fun of it. He didn't succeed.

The proof, of course, will come in the election itself. In 1996, the Democrat routed the Republican, 379-159 electoral votes.

Sunday, May 18, 2008



This has probably been pointed out on other blogs, but if the Evil Empire continues on its current winning pace, the team stands to finish the season at 75-87.

The reason I bring this up is that I was just listening to WFAN where the house shill, Sweeney Murti, was adamant in maintaining that the Pinstripers would win at least 90 games this season—once the pitching gets straightened out and the injured return. We'll see, but I think that'd be quite a turnaround. Here's saying that they win no more than 88 games. Write it down.

Let's go Mets!

The beam in his own eye


This would be unbelievably cheeky if had been stated by someone other than our idiotically boorish leader:
President Bush lectured the Arab world Sunday about everything from political repression to the denial of women's rights ...

"Too often in the Middle East, politics has consisted of one leader in power and the opposition in jail," Bush said in a speech to 1,500 global policymakers and business leaders ...

"America is deeply concerned about the plight of political prisoners in this region, as well as democratic activists who are intimidated or repressed, newspapers and civil society organizations that are shut down and dissidents whose voices are stifled," Bush said.

"I call on all nations in this region to release their prisoners of conscience, open up their political debate and trust their people to chart their future."
Ya know, you look at his statements about political prisoners, and you wonder if he's ever heard of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo. You look at his claptrap about "democratic activists who are intimidated or repressed," and you wonder if he's forgotten about his ignoring of FISA and his desire to extend immunity to telecom companies who obviously spied on Americans.

Sigh. Eight months and two days left of this cretin.

The Decider's Legacy


It's been almost pathetic to watch Little Georgie gallivanting around the Middle East, hoping that someone—anyone—will pay some attention to him. From the Saudis refusing to produce more oil to his empty plea for Mideast rulers to "advance democracy," the whole trip has been an exercise in futility.

Our feckless leader, who apparently at this point is willing to talk to anybody who'll listen—as long as it isn't Iran, Hamas, or Hezbollah—is desperate to create some kind of positive legacy and so is shooting for the creation of a Palestinian state in the last year of his administration. Since no such resolution is possible without the input of the aforementioned trio, all of this is just so much empty rhetoric.

I suppose Republicans on the upcoming undertickets are hoping that their nominal leader succeeds in this venture. Nevertheless, so many of them are running from his shadow that it appears they feel that any success on his part in the next nine months won't do them any good, anyway.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What is wrong with these people?


God, I'm sick of this kind of crap. Say what you will, Barack Obama's minister never suggested shooting anyone, as opposed to this unbalanced Baptist preacher.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Copernicus exposed!


Just when I think Christians can't get any crazier, along comes an offer in the mail for a free copy of this booklet offered by an entity calling itself The Association for Biblical Astronomy. Whoo-wee.

As California Goes ...


Kudos to (four members of) the California Supreme Court for what seems like a no-brainer vis-à-vis the 14th Amendment. Indeed, the Court's decision seems pretty much grounded in the "equal protection under the law" clause:
"The California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples."
Of course, what I like to do is see what the homophobes have to say when something like this occurs, and they have not disappointed in their vitriol. Focus on the Family's James Dobson, the king of the spit-spewing hysterics, for example, shrieks,
"[T]he justices have undermined and endangered the basic building block of society, which has been honored and preserved in every nation on earth through most of human history," [and blah, blah, blah.]
The news reports have been great: full of the joy that a liberated people evince. And, of course, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom has been almost Moses-like in leading his people to a modern day Promised Land.

Say the magic word


I realize that nothing the Boy Blunder does should surprise me, but his performance in Israel's Knesset yesterday (and Senator Septuagenarian's tacet approval) was really beyond the pale. Steve Benen's exegesis on the episode is best, I think:
It’s hard to overstate how pathetic Bush’s and McCain’s conduct is on this. It’s treacherous political slander at its most obvious. If, eight years ago, Bill Clinton traveled to foreign soil to take cheap and ridiculous shots at the Republican nominee during the presidential campaign, the right would be apoplectic. If Al Gore had quickly endorsed Clinton’s attacks, we would never hear the end of it. And yet, that’s exactly the dynamic we see playing out this morning.
And, of course, Senator Sanctimony (I-AIPAC) was right on board with this crap, stating that "President Bush got it exactly right." Of all people, Holy Joe should know that accusing anyone of appeasement after 1938 is political dynamite and calumny of the worst sort.

Discussion is not appeasement. Diplomacy is not surrender.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The American Scholar


A couple of articles related to college have caught my attention recently. In both instances, the authors argue that for many 18-year-olds and those taking courses later in their lives, college may not be appropriate—or even feasible.

From an article in the Houston Chronicle two weeks ago:
Among high-school students who graduated in the bottom 40 percent of their classes, and whose first institutions were four-year colleges, two-thirds had not earned diplomas eight and a half years later.
And from the latest issue of The Atlantic Monthly a Professor X argues:
I, who teach these low-level, must-pass, no-multiple-choice-test classes, am the one who ultimately delivers the news to those unfit for college: that they lack the most-basic skills and have no sense of the volume of work required; that they are in some cases barely literate; that they are so bereft of schemata, so dispossessed of contexts in which to place newly acquired knowledge, that every bit of information simply raises more questions. They are not ready for high school, some of them, much less for college.
I encourage the highly intelligent readers of this blog—extremely successful college graduates all—to read the articles in their entirety.

Thursday morning


ITEM: Three people have been arrested at the Belleville [IL] courthouse in less than a week after they allegedly were found to be carrying drugs at a security checkpoint. Ahem. Stupid criminals might want to check their pockets before they go through a security checkpoint (best Lewis Black imitation) in a freaking courthouse!

ITEM: The Courant yesterday editorialized about the constabulary in a certain Connecticut shoreline town wherein the newspaper opined that "residents may be embarrassed by these scandals and the ensuing publicity." Golly. Ya think?

ITEM: Having sailed on the Norwegian Dawn less than three months ago, I've been following the Mindy Jordan story ever since it broke, and I've always had my doubts about the reported details. Her fall from the ship last week was initially attributed to rough seas, but, knowing the setup of the ship, I didn't believe that for a moment. Now it appears that she either jumped or was pushed. Given the fact that surveillance cameras show that she was alone at the time of the incident, this really seems like a no-brainer.

ITEM: The big story of the day seems to be John Edwards's endorsement of Barack Obama. I don't think much of it myself, believing that endorsements in general have much in common with John Nance Garner's opinion of the vice presidency. Nevertheless, I was pleased to see that Obama, in speaking about the endorsement (the entire speech is worth reading), noted that he too backs the position of Edwards:
John Edwards and I believe in a different America. Hillary Clinton believes in a different America. The Democratic Party believes in a different America—one America, where we rise and fall together as one people.
Finally, in a new poll
Americans are feeling pessimistic about the direction the country is heading ... They're increasingly leaning toward alignment with the Democratic Party and divided over their choices for president in the fall.

An unprecedented 80 percent of likely voters surveyed said the United States is on the wrong track ...

A majority of the 800 likely voters who took part in the NPR poll felt that Sens. Clinton of New York and Obama of Illinois have plans to address middle-class tax relief, health care and the economy. But a majority did not feel the same way about McCain, even though he has hit the campaign trail in recent weeks specifically to lay out his positions.
Senator Septuagenarian can "lay out his positions" all he wants, but they still add up to four words: more of the same.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Obama and the crackers


Related somewhat to the last post, Colin McEnroe pretty much raises the pivotal question that Southern white (and, let's face it, the voting bloc Mr. McEnroe is referring to is largely male) voters will answer in November:
"Could I stand to vote for a Negro even for the purposes of avoiding eight more years of ruinous economic policy and the use of my sons in poorly thought-out Middle East adventurism?"
I've talked about this issue before, but this is the one truism about American politics that almost no one is willing to discuss—or even broach.

If one looks at election maps from any era after the Civil War through 1960, one sees what used to be referred to as the "Solid South." That is, southern states from Florida to Texas voted Democratic; they absolutely refused to vote for the party of Abraham Lincoln, who'd freed the slaves. Starting with the campaign of Barry Goldwater in 1964, and especially with Reagan and the Bushes (The Willie Horton campaign of Bush XLI marked one of those times I was ashamed to carry the same passport as a man running for president.), it's been clear whom the Republicans are pandering to. That is, southern states from Florida to Texas are now voting Republican; they absolutely refuse to vote for the party of Lyndon Johnson, who brought about a number of Civil Rights Acts.

And so, Colin McEnroe is correct. It remains to be seen whether Republican voters will allow their—ahem—parochialism to override ridding the country of the destructive domestic and foreign policies of Republican politicians.

Southern whites started voting ... Democratic?


Needless to say, I ordinarily don't pay a lot of attention to congressional elections in Mississippi, but Travis Childers' convincing victory there yesterday is nothing short of astonishing.

Mississippi's First Congressional District is in the fairly rural northeastern part of the state (one of its counties is aptly named after John C. Calhoun), a place where in the last few years one would have to look long and hard for a Democrat. It's been among the reddest of the red districts in the last two national elections, but the Democrat Childers won the seat with a 54-46 blowout.

One hopes this is a portent of things to come. Something certainly appears to be up, and it doesn't seem to be Republicans' chances.

UPDATE — The New York Times features this situation as does Josh Marshall.

Real World does murder sleep


Never having watched an episode of any reality show in its entirety (although I suppose there've been times when I was in the same room when one was on), I've never paid much attention to all the drama that occurs on them. Now, apparently, it turns out that the lowlifes who populate the programs aren't all that naturally hypersensitive.
Research shows that sleep deprivation makes people emotionally volatile and temperamental — a fact that hasn't escaped the notice of some reality TV producers. In fact, though it's not always obvious to the audience, many reality shows feature contestants who could use a little more sleep.

Former Project Runway contestant Jay McCarroll says it took him a few days to figure out that producers were depriving them of sleep to heighten the drama.

"They work you till, like, midnight or 1," McCarroll recalls. "Before you know it, it's four days later. And you're like, 'Wait, I've slept a total of 11 hours in the past week!'"

McCarroll says he tried to take naps during filming but the lack of sleep really came across on TV, for him and for other contestants.

"It makes people crazy," he emphasizes. "It puts people on edge. It makes them irritable. Screaming."
Being exposed daily to adolescents who are often sensitive to the point of melodrama, I find this correlative interesting. It certainly won't make me want to view any of these crappy shows since it seems as if the notion of "reality shows" is a misnomer. That is, the programs' participants appear to be controlled to the point where they've become psychological studies.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I blame the Communists


Apparently, myriad theories regarding China's horrendous earthquake are being spun on that country's blogs, and many are as wacky as what one might expect on a somewhat ungoverned medium. From toads to butterflies to a vast pre-Olympic conspiracy, a number of reasons for the seismic event are being broached.

I suppose it's no worse than ascribing such an event to a trident-bearing earth shaker, although one might think (and hope) the species has learned a few things in the last 3000 years.

Firetruck, cont'd.


It's a f***ing epidemic! (Or, at least, the reporting of it is.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Holy Joe and Hamas


Ecclesiastical obligations allow me to—mercifully—miss the Sunday morning gabfests, and this gem makes me all the more thankful that I have other things to do than listen to this idiocy.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

This and That, cont'd.


In another attempt to win the so-called War on Drugs (and, perhaps, to revive the inane "Just Say No" campaign),
The White House drug czar said in a warning to parents Friday that depressed teens are medicating themselves with marijuana, running risks of even deeper depression.

A report by the Office National Drug Control Policy said that frequent marijuana ingestion doubles a teen's risk of depression and anxiety, based on data compiled from published studies.
I'm not sure I buy this because (having observed teenagers for much of the last four decades) I think that depression causes drug (and here I include alcohol and nicotine) use or abuse, and not the other way around. It just seems to me that this is yet another example of the Bushies' post hoc ergo propter hoc arguments they're so skillful at.

And, while I'm trying not to appear too callous, whenever I see a story of natural disasters in the Bible Belt, I'm always reminded of Ben Franklin's and Thomas Edison's amusement regarding the necessity of lightning rods on churches.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Latest Poll


The Los Angeles Times points out this morning that
both Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama probably would win the White House against presumptive GOP nominee John McCain if the election were held now, according to a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll.

Arizona Sen. McCain remains competitive, but the poll identified one important vulnerability: Voters ranked him lowest among the three candidates on who could best handle the nation's economy—by far the most pressing concern for the public irrespective of party, gender or income.
It's always been the Bushies' policy to create distracting issues so that the truth of the declining economy could be disguised. Now that even a blind man (like, say, ABC news) can see the economic damage being wrought on most economic classes in the US, the electorate is starting to pay attention.

And given the fact that Senator Septuagenarian has absolutely no clue when it comes to economic matters (except to know that his wife is rich), these results certainly aren't surprising.

Friday, May 09, 2008

"No longer the standard"


Not to be missed: House Republicans vote against motherhood. Think the Democrats can/will milk this episode?

Vito isn't so neato


I know everybody and his brother is zeroing in on this story, but, my God, this is hilarious.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Aptitude & Advice


In case you were wondering if you or your child have what it takes to make it on Wall Street you may want to take this test.

If you (or your child) does well on the test, read this article from W magazine on time-saving tips for the super rich and file it away for later reference. Admittedly, I really want to believe that this is intended to be as tongue-in-cheek as the article above, simply because thinking someone would really advise against divorce simply because “marrying a mistress just creates a job vacancy” shakes my faith in my fellow man. But click-through, there are plenty of other gems.

Desperate Times, cont'd.


A lot of bloggers have reacted to HRC's incredibly impolitic comments regarding who's backing Barack Obama, so I won't bother except to say that when she stated yesterday that she's still in the race, I didn't realize she was talking about skin color.

UPDATE — David Kurtz has more on this despicable episode here.

An exception proving the rule?


Well, at least one study seems to support the Education President's and Rod ("The NEA is a terrorist organization") Paige's contention that if we could only eviscerate the public education system in the US, all our problems would be solved.
Students who attend multi-grade charter high schools in Chicago appear more likely to graduate and to enroll in college than their counterparts in traditional public high schools, a study released on Wednesday found ...

But researchers did not draw conclusions about what, if anything, the charter schools might do better than traditional public schools to achieve the higher graduation and college-enrollment rates.
In other words, it's unknown how these circumstances came about. It may well be that a coincidental socioeconomic factor is at work here, but our Andover-educated president is sure to give himself a big pat on the back for these results.

The woman who came to dinner


Hillary Clinton has turned into Ralph Nader even though a number of prominent Democrats are asking her to call it a campaign.

This is a real embarrassment. Cripes, even Senator Sanctimony knew when he was done for. (And speaking of Connecticut's junior senator, here's an excellent post that refers to him.)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Is it over?


According to this morning's Washington Post,
After failing to win the decisive sweep in North Carolina and Indiana that could have reshaped the Democratic race, disappointed aides to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton conceded it would be difficult for her to catch Sen. Barack Obama in either delegates or overall votes in the six remaining contests.

[Of course, t]he outcome caused the candidate and her campaign to intensify their efforts to persuade party leaders to include the results of disqualified contests in Michigan and Florida, both of which she won. The Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws committee is scheduled to meet on May 31 to consider two challenges pending on whether, and how, to seat delegates from those states.
I can only hope that a speedy end to this dreadful and divisive primary campaign can now occur. It's about time for the Democratic nominee to go after Senator Septuagenarian and the horrendous ideas he's spouting.

(Otherwise, I'm a very happy man today.)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Xanax Queen Speaks!


You'll pardon me, but I think anyone named Bush who complains about an inadequate response to a hurricane has got a hell of a nerve.

The Convenient Populist


It would seem that America has a new cross of gold … black gold, Texas tea, oil that is. Presumably fresh out of good ideas and with the “gas tax holiday” gaining traction with everyone but economists and policy experts (an admittedly small demographic), Hillary Clinton has decided to attack the root of America’s gas problem: OPEC. Someone should tell Mrs. Clinton it might be better to focus on issues that are actually causing this crisis, like consumption, rising global demand, a lack of investment in feasible alternatives and the debt-driven decline of the US dollar. Oh wait, they havetwice.

UPDATE: A Goldman Sachs analyst is predicting oil at $150 - $200 a barrel within the next 2 years. Why? Not the pricing power of OPEC, but the inability of OPEC to meet increasing demand. The article provides additional information on the basis for the estimate, and also notes that in 2005 this same analyst predicted oil would reach $105 a barrel by 2009 - now a seemingly conservative estimate.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Inasmuch as ye have done it ..., cont'd.


Remember the good old days when our feckless leader promised that he and his lackeys could cut any number of government programs because faith-based programs would take their place?

This article gives an idea of how that proposal is working out in these days of recession.

Toeing the phone


This story has hit the airwaves this morning wherein an immobile worker "shook his cell phone off his belt, kicked off one shoe and used his toe to dial 911."

For what it's worth, I don't believe the incident happened the way it's being reported.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Of lapel pins and bowling scores


Glenn Greenwald's excellent post concerning the only way Republicans can win a national election is interesting, but to a certain extent tells only half the story. That is, it's certainly true that Republicans realize they don't have a chance "because the GOP brand [is] profoundly discredited among the citizenry"—as long as they stick to polity. However, it takes two to tango in this regard, and the US voting populace is culpable for buying into the inane trivia it's being offered by the media. Elizabeth Edwards has already discussed the truism that press coverage of elections stinks, but it seems as if the American electorate wants to hear about bowling scores and lapel pins.

So be it. The Sage of Baltimore saw this benighted approach the electorate takes decades ago when he noted that "democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard." Republicans seem to be in tune with this xenophobic, racist approach. It's certainly not good, but given the mentality of America's voters, it's certainly been successful.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Derby Day


On this first Saturday in May, when everyone becomes a horse race fan, watching a bunch of inbreds run against each other, I can't help but highlight the most astonishing performance by a race horse I ever saw.

Another cretin


Atrios points out this deathless colloquy between a reporter and Senator Septuagenarian, which culminates with the latter stating
By eliminating our dependency on foreign oil, we will not have to have our national security threatened by a cut off of that oil. Because we will be dependent, because we won’t be dependent, we will no longer be dependent on foreign oil.
I happen to be the son-in-law of a strident Republican, who still, at nearly 86 years of age, can argue and articulate as well as anyone I know. It's ridiculous that Republicans running for president consistently have difficulty putting together a thoughtful phrase.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Size matters


Have American motorists actually gotten a clue?
In what industry analysts are calling a first, about one in five vehicles sold in the United States was a compact or subcompact car during April, based on monthly sales data released Thursday. Almost a decade ago, when sport utility vehicles were at their peak of popularity, only one in every eight vehicles sold was a small car.

The switch to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles has been building in recent years, but has accelerated recently with the advent of $3.50-a-gallon gas. At the same time, sales of pickup trucks and large sport utility vehicles have dropped sharply.

In another first, fuel-sipping four-cylinder engines surpassed six-cylinder models in popularity in April.

"It’s easily the most dramatic segment shift I have witnessed in the market in my 31 years here," said George Pipas, chief sales analyst for the Ford Motor Company.
Unfortunately, American car makers are once again behind the curve.
The trend toward smaller and lighter vehicles with better mileage is a blow to Detroit automakers, which offer fewer such models than Asian car makers like Toyota and Honda. Moreover, the decline of S.U.V.’s and pickups has curtailed the biggest source of profits for General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.
That's often been the trouble with American manufacturers, hasn't it? In the hopes of creating bigger and bigger profits, they create those things that they hope will precipitate same, while, in many instances, missing the boat on what consumers really want (or need; can you say, "Supersize me"?).

Will the so-called Big Three have to retool their plants in order to accommodate this new demand? Not bloody likely, as American car makers don't have enough money to keep dealerships open, much less begin a mammoth restructuring of their product lines.

Jim Cramer said the other night that he believed GM, to use an example, wouldn't be an American company within five years. It's circumstances like the data cited above that would seem to make that prediction a no-brainer.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

1827 days and 4063 American deaths later ...


As I'm sure readers of this blog are aware, today marks the fifth anniversary of GI George's declaration that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended."

Many memorable repercussions followed that ridiculous episode, but perhaps most striking was the discovery that a number of Republicans admired their president in more than a political way.

Same as the old boss


Those readers who have an interest in a certain Connecticut shoreline town may be interested in reading this story.

The story was reported on all the states' television stations yesterday, so here we go again.

The latest poll


In The Conscience of a Liberal, Paul Krugman almost apologetically states that one of the book's tenets has to do with race and—I would add—racism as a determinant of the US's overall socioeconomic equality.

His thesis is being borne out by the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll wherein we find that
Senator Barack Obama’s aura of inevitability in the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination has diminished after his loss in the Pennsylvania primary and amid the furor over his former pastor.
As long as Obama was a "safe" Negro, he was ok with voters. Now that he's suffering from associative guilt from his affiliation with the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, an uppity Negro if ever there was one, his approval rating is sliding precipitously. Perhaps more strikingly, his disapproval rating, according to the same poll, has soared to 34% from 24%—a 42% jump—in just a few weeks. (As it turns out, all three of the major candidates are seeing their disapproval ratings rising, which just gives credence to the idea that a protracted primary season does no one any good.)

UPDATE — Clearly, Obama would like to put a lid on this.