Thursday, July 31, 2008

The end of an era


The Boston Red Sox have traded Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers.

Personally, I think younger Sox fans will now understand the frustration of their elders—a lifetime where the Sox fail to win another World Series.

On a larger scale, the three-way trade shows the real problems major league baseball faces. Specifically, the Pittsburgh Pirates get four players out of the deal, but they're all at best marginal. Once again, a team like the Pirates is forced to give up a decent player like Xavier Nady and replace him with the likes of Brandon Moss.

"An Unacceptable Result"


Today's decision by District Court Judge John D. Bates wherein he opines that "President Bush’s top advisers cannot ignore subpoenas issued by Congress," while by no means the final word on the subject, at least removes one brick in the wall of the autocracy that threatens the tenets of the American republic.

Uppitiness, cont'd


And here I thought it was Obama who'd been besmirched by Senator Septuagenarian's latest attack ad. It just goes to show how little I understand contemporary politics.

Given my apparent ignorance on the matter, I'm not sure I can, in good conscience, comment on the 2008 presidential campaign ever again.

BTW — The PRERPREN's catamite shows where he stands in all of this, and it's the usual crapola, albeit with a rather bizarre salacious undertone.

What he's against, cont'd


Not that this is exactly new, but the national newspaper of record has apparently finally realized that Senator Septuagenarian's entire campaign revolves around portraying "Mr. Obama negatively, on its own terms, by creating a narrative intended to turn the public off to an opponent."

The bottom line for an old-timer like me is that this is boring. Viz., I've seen enough presidential campaigns (almost invariably run by Republican candidates) that have no more substance to them than an abject plea to "Vote for me because I'm less heinous than the other guy." Perhaps within my lifetime, I'll actually see a campaign wherein both presidential candidates have fundamental policy differences and are willing to articulate them, but I'm certainly starting to doubt it.

Manny, Manny, Manny


On this, trading deadline day in MLB, all kinds of things are possible. Mother of mercy, is this the end of Manny?

Mideast mess


The nominal leader of the free world is scheduled to discuss the loose cannon that is Iraq in a few minutes in the midst of news that the scandalous Ehud Olmert is set to resign as Prime Minister of Israel.

So how's that legacy thing working out, Georgie boy?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What he's against


Given the fact that a significant majority of Americans disapprove of the job Feckless Leader is doing, it stands to reason that they'd also look askance at the campaign and political strategies of the Bushies. Nevertheless, Senator Septuagenarian has bought into such nefarious tactics—perhaps because he was their victim in 2000.

Times have changed, however—although someone who doesn't know that Czechoslovakia is no longer extant might not be aware of it—and the days of gratuitous and irrelevant attack ads might have passed for a while. Certainly the PRERPREN is all too willing to play by the old rules no matter how foolish he appears in doing so.



I'm incredulous that anyone can be truly surprised at the tenor of the latest McCain campaign ads.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bridge to prison?


The DOJ finally does something right and indicts the abominable Republican senator, Ted Stevens, (who, too typically, at age 84, is running for re-election in November) for various unreported political kickbacks.

It couldn't happen to a more felonious guy.



If I had a nickel for every time the following scenario has occurred to me, I'd be able to buy season tickets ...

So I finally turn on the Sox game last night around 8:30 after seeing by My Yahoo! that the Sox are up, 2-1 in the sixth inning, so I'm thinking they might actually beat the Cal Angels. The first pitch—THE FIRST PITCH!!!—I see Casey Kotchman hits into the bullpen (see photo), putting the Angels up, 3-2. The rest of the inning is comparable: The Angels score four more runs, Dice-K is long gone, and any plans I have of watching the Sox compete in a close game are defunct. (So, what do you think of the Angels now, Dan?)

I'm convinced that the Sox should pay me not to watch their games. Or, as the saying goes, sometimes paranoia's just having all the facts.

Monday, July 28, 2008

... But I play one on TV


As legitimate as it might be, remind me not to take medical advice from someone who:

mixes up
Sudan and Somalia, Germany and Russia, the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Iraq and Afghanistan, and misidentifies the country Pakistan shares a border with.

Madness! Madness!


As the New York Times reported a year and a half ago,
In the days before the [Iraq] war ... the Pentagon estimated that it would cost about $50 billion. Democratic staff members in Congress largely agreed. Lawrence Lindsey, a White House economic adviser, was a bit more realistic, predicting that the cost could go as high as $200 billion, but President Bush fired him ... for saying so.
Now a mere eighteen months later, the cost of the fiasco is eclipsing $100 billion a year with no end in sight.

I mention this old news because the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials released a report today that states
It would cost at least $140 billion to repair all the nation's bridges if work began immediately, a nationwide safety organization said in a comprehensive report Monday.
Now, I realize that "a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money," but it sure seems like a no-brainer to pay to restore or replace decrepit bridges that Americans would, you know, actually drive over rather than pay for similar structures (that American armed forces destroyed in the first place) that they don't care about and will never utilize.

Knoxville shooting


As one with an interest in the Unitarian Universalist Association, I'm deeply saddened by the news from Knoxville, TN.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Reading vs. Reading


The New York Times has an interesting article—at least to a dweeb like me—today regarding reading printed material and reading off a computer monitor. Of course, venerable groups such as the National Council of Teachers of English, the International Reading Association, and the American Library Association (Full disclosure: I'm a member of both the ALA and an allied entity, the American Association of School Librarians.) will contend that the latter really doesn't constitute reading at all, but as is noted in the article, parents of Internet-reading kids are "just pleased that [their children] read something anymore."

The two positions are laid out pretty clearly in the article.
As teenagers’ scores on standardized reading tests have declined or stagnated, some argue that the hours spent prowling the Internet are the enemy of reading — diminishing literacy, wrecking attention spans and destroying a precious common culture that exists only through the reading of books.

But others say the Internet has created a new kind of reading, one that schools and society should not discount ...

Even accomplished book readers like Zachary Sims, 18, of Old Greenwich, Conn., crave the ability to quickly find different points of view on a subject and converse with others online. Some children with dyslexia or other learning difficulties, like Hunter Gaudet, 16, of Somers, Conn., have found it far more comfortable to search and read online.

At least since the invention of television, critics have warned that electronic media would destroy reading. What is different now, some literacy experts say, is that spending time on the Web, whether it is looking up something on Google or even, entails some engagement with text.
As one who finds himself spending in excess of thirty hours per week in front of a computer monitor, I certainly know where I stand on the subject, whatever the feelings of my professional affiliations might be.

UPDATE — Kevin Drum also comments on the Times's piece.

Saturday, July 26, 2008



To see what's going on in the picture to the right, click here. To understand why only the females in the shot seem excited, and the males seem at best disinterested, use your own imagination.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports this morning that
A growing number of American children are taking drugs for a wide range of chronic conditions related to childhood obesity, according to prescription data from three large organizations.

The numbers, from pharmacy plans Medco Health Solutions, Express Scripts and the marketing data collection company Verispan, indicate that hundreds of thousands of children are taking medication to treat Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and acid reflux — all problems linked to obesity that were practically unheard-of in children two decades ago.
In additon to all the political nonsense we're surrounded by, it's stories like these that really make me fear for the future of the republic.

Friday, July 25, 2008

We're #6!!!


ESPN just ranked the top 50 college basketball programs of the last of the last 25 years, and good old UConn ended up coming in 6th in their formula.

That places just Duke, UNC, Kansas, Kentucky, and Arizona ahead of the Huskies.

And just think that in 1989 we were all very excited that UConn won the NIT, and had a legitimate NBA player. Pretty crazy.

UCLA, UNLV, Syracuse, and Georgetown round out the top 10.

Meanwhile, a certain Ivy League school from northern New England came in the bottom 20 (out of 300), for those interested in that type of information.

An empty exercise


While I certainly appreciate the sentiment behind John Conyers's hearing on "executive power and its constitutional limitations" today, it seems like it'll be so much blather.

Conyers certainly doesn't need the hearing to cement his position in his district: It's his until he dies. And certainly nothing will come of it given Nancy Pelosi's intransigence on the issue. Finally, Dennis Kucinich already aired any impeachment issues a few weeks ago, and that effort came to naught.

In the end, then, the hearing seems to have been called to make Conyers—and the hearing's witnesses—feel better, an exercise in self-indulgence that seems superfluous at best.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Today's Top Ten List


Say what you want about Fox News, you can't say it doesn't come up with the occasional wildly amusing feature.

Or, as the Sage of Baltimore put it, "The curse of man, and cause of nearly all of his woes, is his stupendous capacity for believing the incredible."

Too badly broken to be fixed


Thus said new American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten in her inauguration speech about the hideous No Child Left Behind Act.
Weingarten ... argued that the No Child Left Behind Act is, in fact, leaving behind the very children it was intended to help, and has outlived its usefulness.

“These are the children who have the least opportunity outside the schoolhouse walls to be exposed to all the elements of a well-rounded education: the arts and physical fitness, the ability to think critically and to argue logically, the value of active citizenship, and a knowledge of different people and places. NCLB slams the schoolhouse door on what makes up modern civilization and replaces it with multiple choice questions,” she said.

“We need to prepare students for 21st century jobs. Employers say that they are looking for workers who can devise new solutions. But how will kids who have spent 12 years learning to keep their pencil marks inside the bubbles ever be able to think outside the box?”
Now, I haven't been a member of the AFT in nearly thirty years, and I have to admit I miss the contentious nature of the organization. It's certainly good to hear a fiery orator talking the talk. The soporific Reg Weaver of the much larger National Education Association could take a lesson from Ms. Weingarten.

After rejection—misery


Chris Bigelow, who, unlike some people really is a Connecticut blogger of some repute, has a highly entertaining op-ed piece in today's Courant regarding the recent flap between Senator Septuagenarian and the New York Times.

The Boston Globe also picks up on the story.

Flight 93


A&E's jingoistic efforts notwithstanding, it's just a story that won't die.

Laws are for little people


I'm following the Bob Novak story with a certain amount of interest if for no other reason than that I think he's pond scum.

If that makes me a lesser person in people's eyes, so be it.

The times they are a-changin'


Even Barrons, a weekly presumably not in the Barama camp, is noting the change in the tenor of Republican politics these days:
John McCain isn't the only Republican politician trying to distance himself from the legacy of President George Bush. Bush is running away from Bush, too. In fact, he's running from himself faster than McCain is running away from him.

The president has been abandoning unpopular policies of old and employing new ones that appear to come straight from the playbook of Barack Obama, the boy wonder of American politics. Bush, who once defined himself by an ornery refusal to heed critics or alter his course, even as he drove his ship of state onto the shoals of political disaster, has in his final months as commander in chief become as pliant as Silly Putty.
Indeed, it's incidents like yesterday's grudging approval of the housing bill that almost make it look as if Georgie AWOL is as compromising now as he was intransigent during the first six years of his administration.

Ah, it almost seems as if people are coming to their senses after the nightmare of the first six years of the millennium. Of course, there are exceptions.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The two Americas


While I realize that virtually all the commentary lately has been about Iraq, the surge, and the presidential candidates' reactions to same, I think the story of the day is the following:
[T]he richest 1% of Americans in 2006 garnered the highest share of the nation's adjusted gross income for two decades, and possibly the highest since 1929, according to Internal Revenue Service data.

Meanwhile, the average tax rate of the wealthiest 1% fell to its lowest level in at least 18 years ...

According to the figures, the richest 1% reported 22% of the nation's total adjusted gross income in 2006.
It's all well and good to talk about the effects of a military strategy adopted seventeen months ago, but the truth of the matter is that, on a day to day basis, the incredible economic inequity in the US is a much more bothersome situation. To my mind, it's the most discouraging—and most important—aspect of the modern-day US. (It's also the reason I still believe that the mainstream politician whose philosophy is closest to mine is John Edwards.)

One can only hope that this egregious situation will be ameliorated in some way after January. It certainly won't occur if Senator Septuagenarian is elected as he's "proposed extending the lower tax rates of 15% on long-term capital gains and dividends that apply" to his plutocratic buddies.

The stupidest day


This account of Senator Septuagenarian's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day is worth reading.

God, the whole thing really gets more and more farcical. One wonders if the senior senator will have anyone's respect by November 4. At any rate, I don't know if I've seen the word gaffe appear in print so frequently.



While today's Times' story about Michael Mukasey's shortcomings as US Attorney General isn't exactly news, Chuck Schumer's reactions to his erstwhile fair haired boy might be.
[A]t a hearing this month, face to face with his pick for attorney general, Mr. Schumer ... did not hide his disappointment in what he saw as Mr. Mukasey’s reluctance to move more aggressively in investigating accusations that the Justice Department had brought politically inspired prosecutions against Democratic politicians.

Mr. Schumer was still fuming a short time later as he went to the Senate floor for a vote. “That was terrible,” Mr. Schumer told a colleague privately in assessing Mr. Mukasey’s performance, an official privy to the conversation said.
It's as if Schumer couldn't see this coming. Please.

As soon as Mukasey refused to admit that waterboarding was torture during his confirmation hearings, the bloom was off the rose, and it was clear that Mukasey would be just another Bush toadie, continuing the policies of Yoo, Gonzales, Cheney, and the rest of the felons. Yet, the provincial Schumer broke ranks with his fellow Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee and voted for him.

The final confirmation vote in the Senate was typical clandestine Republican nonsense, except that this time it was Harry Reid and the Democrats who were insisting on a vote in the dead of night.

Bottom line: Given the way the confirmation hearings went and the way the confirmation vote was handled, it should've surprised no one that Mukasey would turn out to be just another sycophant. For Charles Schumer to suddenly realize this is at best disingenuous.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tonight's Sanctimonious Post


A number of bloggers are reporting on the findings released as part of a recent survey of American Jews by the new progressive pro-Israel group, J Street. Specifically, the survey found that
Among the most high-profile Jews in Congress, Lieberman is viewed far more unfavorably than the presumptive Democratic nominee, according to a new poll. Only 37 percent of Jews view the Connecticut Independent in a favorable light compared to 48 percent who have a negative perception. As for Obama, 60 percent of Jews view him favorably while 34 percent view him unfavorably.
It's kind of an interesting finding, but paired with the junior senator's continued lovefest with known anti-Semite, John Hagee, perhaps it's not too surprising.

His cup runneth over


Even though he gave up no runs to the pathetic Seattle Mariners, it was a tough night for Sox starter, Jon Lester. Even before he had to leave the game after taking an eighth-inning shot off the shin from the bat of Willie Bloomquist,
Terry Francona and a trainer [raced] out to the mound when [Lester] tugged at the inside of his leg after a pitch in the sixth inning.

A protective cup had painfully pinched a certain area.
Phew! Given the fact that Lester appears to be the Sox' only stopper at this point, it certainly could've been worse.

The surge suit


In trying to figure out what went on this weekend, I keep reading about Senator Septuagenarian's new campaign strategy, viz., "it seems that John McCain now plans to run his campaign almost entirely on the surge, and his claim that he was right about it and Obama wrong."

Certainly that was Senator Sanctimony's talking point on Sunday (see below): that the surge had been a success, and it was thanks to the forward thinking of his bosom buddy from Arizona.

Now, however, with Iraq's announcement that it pretty much embraces Obama's exit timetable, this sorry scheme seems doomed. At any rate, Jonah Goldberg sees it for what it is.
It's understandable why so many Republicans see the surge as an ideal political battleground. Outside foreign policy, McCain's standing with the GOP base is often shaky. The party doesn't have a lot of policy wins to brag about. And Obama doesn't have much of a record to attack. Also, many hawks -- often called neoconservatives -- see the surge as vindication that they were right about the feasibility of the invasion of Iraq from the beginning. It was President Bush's bungling that was wrong, they say, not the war itself.

Whatever the merits of all that, there's a problem. As political analysis, it's nonsense.
It's certainly not surprising that the surge strategy is nonsense, given its proponent.

Monday, July 21, 2008



After noting the Sox' weekend debacle in Anaheim, I can't help thinking that the Globe's Dan Shaughnessy might be a wee overconfident:
[W]hy is this not a matter of concern in Red Sox Nation? Because the Angels can't beat the Red Sox in October, that's why.
If ever there was a kiss of death, Shaughnessy's column might be it. (Now that I'm no longer reading the Globe on a daily basis, regular programming can continue.)

Now when I was in college ...


I saw a piece about High Point University in yesterday's Globe. It's written up in the Detroit Free Press today:
If Chelsea Johnson wanted to, she could get an automated wake-up call in the morning, leave her clothes at the concierge desk for dry cleaning, grab some free pretzels and a banana from a snack cart and then unwind in a hot tub with several of her friends.

Johnson is one of the 2,800 undergrads at High Point University, "where every student gets an extraordinary education in a fun environment with caring people." [I'm always leery of educational entities that use "fun" as an adjective.]

At High Point in North Carolina, that means an ice cream truck with free frozen treats, part time valet parking, live music in the cafeteria and a birthday card signed by the president with a Starbucks gift card tucked inside on a student's special day. Freshmen don't have to live in dorms; they live in apartment-like housing.

A growing number of schools are offering resort-like amenities: private rooms and private baths with double beds, cleaning service, free laundry, HDTV and 24-hour dining halls with bagels, pizza and fresh fruit, as students and their parents demand more.
No wonder schools now cost $50,000 and more per annum. They're freaking resorts!

Seriously, I don't necessarily begrudge students who attend such schools, or the parents who send them. However, I'd hope that some sort of, you know, education is going on at these places. At the very least, it sure sounds like it'd be difficult to be weaned away from such an idyllic environment into the real world of work.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Run for your lives!


Just back from a wonderful time in Vacationland, and I see that the fearmongering by the McCain toadies has continued apace. Senator Sanctimony stated on Fox News Sunday (the only network that dares take the senator seriously) today that
[I]f Barack Obama's policy in Iraq had been implemented ... that would mean today Al Qaeda would be in charge of parts of Iraq. Iranian-backed extremists would be in charge of other parts of Iraq. There'd be civil war and maybe even genocide.
Sigh. The man continues to be an embarrassment to himself and the people of Connecticut.

Thursday, July 17, 2008



Off to Maine for the weekend with the birthday girl. If blogging occurs, I'll be surprised.

WP - JD Drew


Here's an interesting article about Tuesday night's marathon showing that the game could've been even more ridiculous than it turned out to be.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008



Having seen in my lifetime a number of septuagenarians deteriorate, I've come to the conclusion that the decade where the most decrepitude occurs is the eighth of one's life. (People are usually still pretty spry when they hit their 70th birthday, and I find the mental and physical differences between 80 and 90 negligible.) Thus, the fact that one of the major candidates for president will turn 72 next month is cause for concern—at least for me.

Episodes where that candidate uses a name for a country that (iblbi) hasn't been in existence for fifteen years don't make me feel any more comfortable.

Satire and magazine covers


I was somewhat out of the loop for the last four days, so I missed the hubbub regarding the New Yorker's current cover. (After reviewing the whole affair, it doesn't seem to me like it was worth all the excitement.)

Anyway, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer today contains a cartoon that may or may not conclude the episode. At the very least, maybe now people can understand the function (in best Lewis Black imitation) of a freaking political cartoon!

And for those who are still offended by all this nonsense, it might be instructive to take a look at this 1864 view of one of America's most revered statesmen.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Just No Sacrifices


In addition to being Bastille Day, today is also “Manhattanhenge”. It is defined as:
a semi-annual occurrence in which the setting sun aligns with the east-west streets of Manhattan's main street grid. The term is derived from Stonehenge, at which the sun aligns with the stones on the solstices. It was coined in 2002 by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History. It applies to those streets that follow the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, which laid out a grid offset 28.9 degrees from true east-west.

At sunset, a traveler along one of the north-south avenues on the West Side looking east can observe the phenomenon indirectly, being struck by the reflected light of the many windows which are aligned with the grid. An observer on the East Side can look west and see the Sun shining down a canyon-like street.
On my odd NYC to-do list “Manhattanhenge” now ranks up there with watching them bring the circus elephants through the tunnel.



What cheek this moron has.
Joseph Lieberman, the lapsed Democrat from Connecticut, strolled into the weekly lunch of the Senate Democrats ... greeted his colleagues, including some who felt he should not have been there last Tuesday. He ate his lunch (salad, eschewing the macaroni and cheese) and sat through a discussion about gasoline prices and Medicare.
Count me in among those "who felt he should not have been there." The man isn't a Democrat, didn't run as a Democrat, doesn't want to be a Democrat, and yet takes advantage of the various perks affiliation with the Democratic Party provides.

The 111th Congress can't come soon enough.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Today's baseball


It's pretty amusing that Terry Francona feels confident enough to pitch Craig Hansen or Mike Timlin only when the Sox have a lead of at least nine runs.

And, thank God I'm not a Phillies fan. In today's game versus the Diamondbacks, the fans at Citizens Bank Park were less than pleased with the Phils' starter, Adam Eaton, whose line was

IP 3.2
H 7
R 8
ER 8
BB 3
K 4

in 91 pitches, only 52 of which were strikes. The turning point of the game was a two-out two-run double by the 44-year-old Randy Johnson(!), which opened the floodgates for a eight run fourth for Arizona. Eaton's ERA during his last two starts exceeds 19. One of the jocks on WIP, Sportsradio 610 in Philadelphia, opined this evening that if there is any justice in the world, Eaton will never again start another game for the all-of-a-sudden-only-half-a-game-ahead-of-the-Mets Philadelphia Phillies.

It's interesting to note that Eaton, whose fastball rarely measures more than 90 mph, who doesn't throw a slider, and whose curveball is rarely thrown for a strike is making nearly $8 million/year while helping the Phils not a whit.

The Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee?


This is no doubt a tempest in a teapot, but in an interesting development,
a law professor at the University of Arizona has concluded that neither [John] McCain’s birth in 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone nor the fact that his parents were American citizens is enough to satisfy the constitutional requirement that the president must be a “natural-born citizen.”
How many times have Republicans done an end-around regarding issues like this? In other words, as much as McCain's candidacy might violate the letter of the law, there's no way that the constitutional stricture will stop him from running—and, I suspect, any court in the land would allow this.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Serenity Now!


As one who repeats the mantra of the Serenity Prayer at least once a week, I'm finding the following moderately interesting:
[T]he Serenity Prayer is about to endure a controversy over its authorship that is likely to be anything but serene.

For more than 70 years, the composer of the prayer was thought to be the Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, one of modern Christianity’s towering figures. Niebuhr, who died in 1971, said he was quite sure he had written it, and his wife, Ursula, also a prominent theologian, dated its composition to the early 1940s.

His daughter Elisabeth Sifton, a book editor and publisher, wrote a book about the prayer in 2003 in which she described her father first using it in 1943 in an “ordinary Sunday service” at a church in the bucolic Massachusetts town of Heath, where the Niebuhr family spent summers.

Now, a law librarian at Yale, using new databases of archival documents, has found newspaper clippings and a book from as far back as 1936 that quote close versions of the prayer. The quotations are from civic leaders all over the United States — a Y.W.C.A. leader in Syracuse, a public school counselor in Oklahoma City — and are always, interestingly, by women.
The poor Protestants: They can't seem to retain ownership of anything. Well, here's hoping that the principals can accept the things they can't change.

Off to visit Momocle for a few days. (Will see the Fightin' Phils tomorrow.) Blogging will be at best sporadic through Monday.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The company he keeps


This photograph, taken at today's signing ceremony of the rewritten FISA—where more rights were taken away from US citizens—is about all one needs to know about the junior senator from Connecticut.

A sinister view


The Hartford Courant this morning ran a piece from last week's Washington Post regarding the veritable plethora of left-handers who've been presidents recently.

Since left-handedness has been shown to be a pathology, it kind of explains how only certain types of people (And that's not necessarily a compliment.) aspire to be president.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Broadcast Obscenity


More than the then 4 most famous anchors combined?

The ticket from Hell


In discussing Senator Septuagenarian's lack of support in the Constitution State and ways to improve it, the New Haven Register reports that
McCain wouldn't benefit from picking Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., as his running mate. Only 14 percent [of Connecticut's likely voters] said they'd be more likely to vote for McCain if Lieberman is on the ticket.
Actually, I'm kind of disappointed the number is that high.

Back in the Thick of It


So says this morning's New York Times about the once much abused Mets.

Perhaps the game DarLucky and I (along with our spouses) will attend at Shea next month will mean something after all.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

History Rhymes Again


In 2004 we had the taped conversations of an Enron energy trader boasting about stealing money from someone’s grandmother in California. Now a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation has gleaned a few interesting quotes from email exchanges at the “impartial” agencies tasked with rating the risks behind bonds and other securities, such as those composed of sub-prime mortgages. My favorite is an exchange between two analysts that reads “Let's hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards falters.'' A close second appears when, according to the SEC, one analyst expressed concern that the firm's rating model did not capture `half' of the deal's risk, but that `it could be structured by cows and we would rate it.”

Deregulation in action, giving you a business model worthy of a tax-payer bailout.



Excuse me, I think this is where I came in.

My frustration knows no bounds this morning as I find that, 35 years after the the US already did this,
[A] bipartisan commission will issue a report today urging greater collaboration [between the legislative and executive branches over when and how to go to war].

The National War Powers Commission, led by two former secretaries of state, will propose a new process of consultation between the executive and legislative branches, said Taylor Reveley, the group's co-director.

Reveley, interim president of the College of William and Mary, said the commission will urge future presidents to consult with members of Congress before deciding whether to use military force abroad.

... Tensions over war powers came to a boil most famously during the Vietnam war, when Congress enacted the War Powers Act of 1973 over President Nixon's veto. The act required the president to consult with Congress before using military force in certain circumstances.
Policy is apparently like fashion: Just stick around long enough and styles are sure to come back.

But the effort to effect a protocol that's (in best Lewis Black imitation) already in place shows just how subversive the Bushies have been. The so-called unitary executive theory of governance (autocracy in everything but name) as espoused by Yoo, Gonzales, Cheney, and the rest of the band of traitors in the executive branch is clearly illegal and unconstitutional. That a bipartisan commission has to issue a report pointing that out (Of course, it won't be stated in those terms; the usual groveling tone is sure to be evinced.) irks me beyond words.

Moreover, as in the Nixon days, the Bushies' illegal and unconstitutional actions have led to disastrous foreign and domestic outcomes: an unending, unnecessary, and ultimately unwinnable war; spying on American citizens; an environment that may never recover from the executive's excesses; and a recessionary economy.

To see all of this happening again, and to see a bipartisan commission trying again to make it right is almost unbearable.

(The New York Times has an op-ed piece on this issue this morning. Since it's written by Warren Christopher and James Baker—two Beltway insiders if ever there were any—it should be taken in the proper spirit.)

Sunday, July 06, 2008



Apparently, John McCain hates bloggers. I'm shocked—shocked!—that a Republican would paint an entire group with such a broad brush and articulate his enmity toward people who choose to act upon their First Amendment right.

Maybe Senator Septuagenarian hates the bloggers so much because their product shows up on a screen, which he obviously can't read.

The Ethics of Avastin


Here's a situation for your next game of Scruples:
Avastin, made by Genentech, is a wonder drug. Approved for patients with advanced lung, colon or breast cancer, it cuts off tumors’ blood supply, an idea that has tantalized science for decades. And despite its price, which can reach $100,000 a year, Avastin has become one of the most popular cancer drugs in the world.

But there is another side to Avastin. Studies show the drug prolongs life by only a few months, if that.
So, how much is a life worth? Does one pay the $400 and more per day to stay alive for a few precious weeks, or does one accede to the inevitable and call it a life?

Situations like that are never easy, but as Patrick Henry almost asked, "Is life so dear ... as to be purchased at the price of [Avastin]?"

I'm pretty sure I know what side I'd lean toward. It's like the old argument I heard when I was smoking: Don't you know smoking can shorten your life by eight years? Eight years! To which I'd invariably reply, "Which eight years are you referring to? If you're talking about the ones between 76 and 84—as opposed to the ones between 24 and 32—I think I'm ok with it."

Counting to sixty, cont'd


The Cook Political Report—a fairly cool web site I've just discovered—indicates that no fewer than six Senate seats now held by Republicans are a tossup in the upcoming election. Should all six Democrats win in these races, the party's seats wouldn't add up to sixty, but it sure would make the Senator from AIPAC expendable.



I'm not sure I can get too upset about this:
Although the nation's lowest-performing students have made great progress in the No Child Left Behind era of testing, the top students are not making similar strides, according to a report by the Fordham Institute ...

Students who scored in the 90th percentile and above are making the least progress on national standardized tests.
Wouldn't this stand to reason? That is, if a kid goes from the 20th percentile to the 21st, he's improved 5%. Whereas, if a kid goes from the 90th percentile to the 91st—a similar gain of one percentile (or whatever the psychometric term is)—he's gained not much more than 1%. Or am I reading this wrong?

The truth remains: When you're at the top, you don't have many directions to go.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Two deaths


Surely something can be made of the fact that Bozo the Clown and Jesse Helms died within twenty-four hours of each other.

Supporters of the hideous latter will no doubt make something of the fact that the closet Klansman died on July 4, thus making him a modern day Adams or Jefferson. I don't buy it, preferring to couple him with a character whose biggest thrill appeared to be having kids kiss his nose.

UPDATE — Sure enough, Feckless Leader opined that it was "fitting that this great patriot left us on the Fourth of July."

232 years later


Lest anyone forget, or is in ignorance of, what today is all about:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
That's what I'm talkin' about.

Happy 4th to all.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

That's me in the corner, cont'd


With every progressive and his brother horrified at the stand Barack Obama has taken regarding the latest FISA bill, the "presumptive Democratic presidential nominee" (hereinafter to be referred to as the "PDPN" or "Predpren") has tried to calm the waters with a statement on his website regarding said bill. His rationale: It's better than a previous version of the bill. This better-than-a-poke-in-the-eye-with-a-sharp-stick reasoning is no way to create a stand on an issue as basic as this one, which has to do with no less than a subversion of the fourth amendment.

Josh Marshall has the timeline showing where and how the PDPN has vacillated.

Senator Sanctimony's Scare, cont'd


It's been a tough week for the junior senator from Connecticut. First, his approval rating is determined to be cratering, and now his boy is shown to be a nonentity in the state.
Obama is leading McCain by 56 percent to 35 percent among likely Connecticut voters in a poll Quinnipiac University released Wednesday.
So much for Holy Joe's bipartisan endorsement. But it gets worse.
Several liberal groups said they will submit a petition to U.S. Senate leaders asking that Sen. Joe Lieberman, Ind-Conn., be stripped of his chairmanship ... of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee for the next Congress, The Hill reported Wednesday. So far the drive, highlighted on liberal blogs such as Huffington Post and Open Left, has collected more than 41,000 signatures.
As the saying goes, 41,000 people can't be wrong.

I suppose it can be said that the news isn't all bad for the senator from AIPAC.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, with a worldwide membership of more than 250,000, issued a sharply-worded statement today condemning critics of Joseph Lieberman for the Senator’s support of Republican presidential candidate John McCain ...

“I am deeply saddened by these attacks,” the Rabbi declared. “I have known Joe Lieberman for more than 15 years as both a friend of extraordinary integrity as well as a political leader of unbending devotion to democratic principles."
I'm sure the rabbi's statement is well-intended, but I can't help thinking of another rabbi, Baruch Korff, who also tried to defend the indefensible.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

That's me in the corner ...


To say that Barack Obama has disappointed recently is an understatement. Digby noted yesterday that
the Obama campaign is working overtime to prove to the Village that he isn't "dangerously" radical. At least that seems to be the campaign's overriding message at the moment.
To my mind, the campaign's true intent currently is to demonstrate that Obama isn't black, but that's neither here nor there. What is disconsoling is that Obama's positions have become so ... so ... Republican in the last two weeks. Cripes, we've already seen what a hideous society we've become with all the Bushies' policies. All of a sudden, the former Barry Obama doesn't seem so different. For a guy who won his party's nomination on a theme of change, Obama is singing an all too familiar tune.

Glenn Greenwald articulates his similar concerns in an excellent (and appreciably more detailed) post here.

If guns are outlawed ...


When I first saw this story's headline, I felt that there had to be more to it. Sure enough, though,
The nation's busiest airport duelled with gun rights advocates Tuesday over whether a new Georgia state law allows visitors to carry firearms at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

City officials in charge of the airport declared it a "gun free zone" when the new law took effect Tuesday. Gun rights supporters, including a state legislator who helped pass the law, quickly filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the designation ...

The new state law allows people with a concealed weapons permit to carry guns into restaurants, state parks and on public transportation.

John Monroe, an attorney for the gun rights backers who filed the lawsuit, argued the Atlanta airport qualifies as public transportation.
Perhaps travelers are to be consoled by the fact that
The gun group argues that weapons should be allowed in the terminal up to the point where passengers pass through security to board their flights.
Thus, guns wouldn't actually be on the plane, but only in the airport. It's hard to imagine anything crazier, but there it is. At the least, it gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, "packing for a trip."

Life in the Constitution State


Quinnipiac University has just released a new poll, and, not surprisingly in these tough economic times, Connecticutians seem somewhat displeased with everybody. Even Governor Clubwoman isn't immune.
Voters approve 65 - 23 percent of the job Gov. Rell is doing, a great score for most governors, but the lowest she ever has had. This compares to a 76 - 13 percent approval March 27.
Nor is Countrywide Financial's best friend untouched by the times.
Connecticut voters approve 51 - 34 percent of the job Sen. Christopher Dodd is doing, his lowest net approval rating ever.
But perhaps the biggest loser of them all (Interpret that description any way you wish.) is none other than
Sen. Joseph Lieberman [, who] gets a 45 - 43 percent approval, down from 52 - 35 percent March 27 and his lowest score ever.

"Sen. Lieberman's approval rating has dropped below 50 percent for the first time in 14 years of polling, with nearly two-thirds of Democrats giving him low marks, probably because he is campaigning for Sen. John McCain," [Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas] Schwartz said.
Well, it's good to see that some people are paying attention. However, it's too bad that the blow to the head of the 2x4 of $4.50/gallon gasoline has caused it.