Friday, July 31, 2009

Countrywide Chris's Diagnosis


Connecticut's senior senator has cancer, but that's not going to stop him in his quest for a sixth term in office.

Ya Don't Say


Given the facts that Manny was detected and Papi had two of the worst months of any major leaguer in history earlier this year, yesterday's revelation doesn't exactly come as a surprise.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Now She Tells Us


Governor Clubwoman has finally
“exhausted” spending cuts to close an estimated budget deficit of $8.55 billion over the next two fiscal years.

Rell, a Republican in office since 2004, told reporters in Hartford yesterday that she probably would include some form of tax increase in a new budget proposal her administration will unveil today, a month after the state’s new fiscal year began.
Only the governor's intransigence got the state into this situation, viz., being only one of three states in the nation that "missed their July 1 [budget] deadlines and are still operating without complete budgets." The lack of a budget has created myriad problems for the state, among them
[Stamford's] J. M. Wright Technical School will not reopen this fall or the next.

Late Wednesday afternoon, state education commissioner Mark K. McQuillan announced operations at the Stamford school would be suspended.

"Due to the retirement incentive program and voluntary transfers, the J.M. Wright professional staff has been reduced to 12 faculty," McQuillan said in a statement.
While situations like Wright's occurred, the governor sat on her hands and, OJ-like, continued to look for spending cuts that didn't exist. Now that the state is in a real mess (and, perhaps more importantly, her approval ratings are decreasing), all of a sudden, she's run out of ideas. Of course, she never had any to begin with.

Stat of the Night


The Sox' LaRoche, Varitek, Youkilis, and Bay against the A's in last night's loss: 0 for 15. It's no wonder the Olde Towne Team is foundering.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Get Ready!


I just found out about this, but apparently
there is a seed of spectacular buzz germinating over the notion that the ancient Mayans predicted the end of the world, and that its date is Dec. 21, 2012. A major motion picture scheduled for release this fall, 2012, assumes the Mayans knew what they were talking about and shows how the planet is put out of its misery in a series of giant tsunamis, mega-earthquakes and fantastic meteor showers, just to name a few of the coming attractions.
In one of his memoirs, James Thurber writes about a character he (and the rest of Columbus, Ohio) referred to as the Get-Ready Man, a fellow who showed up on the strangest of occasions declaiming that "The wor-ll-d is coming to an end!"

Since even such a venerable entity as NPR has picked up on the story, it might be time to start taking such warnings seriously.



You gotta love Rachel Maddow. As Glenn Beck breaks down, and Dobbs and Limbaugh achieve ever greater heights of hysteria, Maddow just takes it all with the humor it deserves.

Strange Bedfellows?


Microsoft and Yahoo made it official on Wednesday. The two companies announced a 10-year pact where Microsoft will power Yahoo search. Yahoo also becomes the sales force for Microsoft’s premium properties.

The companies said the search deal will accelerate innovation and bring more value to advertisers and Web users. Yahoo and Microsoft also get to focus on their core strengths. Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz says there will be “boatloads of value for our users and industry.” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says the Yahoo deal gives Bing the scale to compete.
Having used My Yahoo! as my start page for years, I'll be curious to see how this shakes out. At the very least, I'm hoping that Bing doesn't intrude on searches. I've seen it and am not real happy with its interface.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Three days to go


Could it happen?
According to Yahoo's! Gordon Edes, the Red Sox have offered Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden and Ryan Westmoreland to Toronto for Roy Halladay. No word if those are the only three prospects involved, but the Jays have said before that teams inside the division will have to pay a "premium price"—an extra player—for Halladay.
Having watched (on tv) Halladay pitch the most impressive game I've seen this season, I'm almost to the point where I'm thinking nothing could be too much to get him on the Sox.



Governor Gogo's farewell was as brainless as could be expected, and it didn't escape the notice of Mr. Conan O'Brien.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Countrywide Chris, cont'd


Despite their denials, influential Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad and Chris Dodd were told from the start they were getting VIP mortgage discounts from one of the nation's largest lenders, the official who handled their loans has told Congress in secret testimony.

Both senators have said that at the time the mortgages were being written they didn't know they were getting unique deals from Countrywide Financial Corp., the company that went on to lose billions of dollars on home loans to credit-strapped borrowers. Dodd still maintains he got no preferential treatment.
Dodd can maintain all he wants, but this seems pretty convincing for all of the middle class's champion's protestations.

Sour grapes


And another aged US Senator goes kicking and screaming into retirement.
Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) has announced that he will not run for re-election in 2010, after months of speculation about what he would end up doing ...

Bunning had previously made open accusations against his party's leadership, accusing them of trying to force him into retirement by undercutting his efforts to raise money.
Personally, I've always thought that Bunning was one of the most execrable people in the Senate, and this tantrum demonstrates it. He is, after all, nearly 78 and currently is the Senate's oldest Republican.

UPDATE — Steve Benen has more.

Science News


And here I thought it was just me.
A group of scientists has claimed that evolution is driving women to become ever more beautiful ...

Based on a series of studies of physical attractiveness and its links to reproductive success in humans, researchers found the beautiful women have more children than their not so good-looking counterparts and that a higher proportion of those children are female. Those daughters, when they grow up, also tend to be pretty and so repeat the pattern, according to a study released last week.
I ascribed my belief that females were looking more attractive to my advancing age. I'm glad that I can rely on scientific research to corroborate my—ahem—somewhat goatish observation.

It goes without saying that "Men remain as aesthetically unappealing as their caveman ancestors, the study added."

And NPR is reporting that
if you eat a tomato without adding a little fat—say a drizzle of olive oil—your body is unlikely to absorb all [its] nutrients ...

Researchers [at Iowa State] put IV lines into [experimental subjects'] veins and drew blood samples before and after they'd eaten salads in order to get precise measurements of the absorption of nutrients.

"The salads all tasted the same to me," says [a subject in the study]. But when researchers went back and analyzed the blood samples they realized that people who had eaten fat-free or low-fat dressings didn't absorb the beneficial carotenoids from the salad. Only when they had eaten the oil-based dressing did they get the nutrients.
This is a little disheartening to those of us who try to watch our calorie intake under any circumstances.

Avian conflicts


At the risk of seeming callous, I can't help but find this story a little funny. Viz., some places have their battling roosters, and Connecticut has its ... fighting canaries?
[Shelton] police confiscated nearly 150 songbirds—canaries and saffron finches—from a home at 176 Ripton Road. Police say the birds were being prepared to fight. The raid was led by Shelton Police with help from the Department of Agriculture and officers from Bridgeport, Ansonia, Fairfield, and State Police departments.
What's next for the Constitution State? Combative earthworms?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

How times have changed


From Frank Rich today:
If [Walter Cronkite] was the most trusted man in America, it wasn’t because he was a nice guy with an authoritative voice and a lived-in face. It wasn’t because he "loved a good story" or that he removed his glasses when a president died. It was because at a time of epic corruption in the most powerful precincts in Washington, Cronkite was not at the salons and not in the tank.
This just goes to show, now that Jon Stewart is America's most trusted newsman, how the chumminess of the press and those in power has
given [us] the American press’s catastrophe of our own day—its failure to unmask and often even to question the White House propaganda campaign that plunged us into Iraq.
(And, speaking of Stewart, a Slate columnist recently posed an interesting plea to him.)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dodging a bullet


Glenn Greenwald comments on the latest news regarding the Bushies, viz., "high-level Bush officials actively considered and even advocated that the power to use the military to arrest American citizens on U.S. soil be used."

Needless to say, the upshot is a no-brainer.
All of this underscores why it is so important to vigorously oppose the efforts of the Obama administration (a) to continue many of the radical Bush/Cheney Terrorism programs and even to implement new ones (preventive detention, military commissions, extreme secrecy policies, warrantless surveillance, denial of habeas corpus) and (b) to endorse the core Orwellian premise that enables all of that (i.e., the "battlefield" is anywhere and everywhere; the battle against Terrorism is a "War" like the Civil War or World War II and justifies the same powers). By itself, the extreme injustice imposed by our Government on the individuals subjected to such tyrannical powers (i.e., those held in cages for years without charges or any prospect for release) should be sufficient to compel firm opposition. But the importance of these issues goes far beyond that. Even if the original intention is to use these powers in very limited circumstances and even for allegedly noble purposes ("only" for Guantanamo detainees who were tortured, "only" for people shipped to Bagram, "only" for the Most Dangerous Terrorists), it's extremely dangerous to implement systems and vest the President with powers that depart from, and violently betray, our core precepts of justice.
Every time some new Bush Administration tyranny is discovered, I think to myself that it can't get worse—that this is as despotic as they could have been. Needless to say, I keep getting it wrong.

Back at it


Back after a few soggy days in Maine, where the news was full of the "Skip" Gates nonsense. Words can't express how tired I am of that story.

I see that another story also reared its ugly head while I was being rained on in Vacationland. Sigh.

This all just goes to show once again that the media abhor a vacuum and will fill their pages or airwaves with any tripe when no real news is to be had.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Off to Vacationland


The notion of something called the Internet not having reached the Sebago Lake area, I'll be keeping up with events via the Boston Globe, Portland Press Herald, and Bridgton News, and just laughing about them with friends through Thursday.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Forty years ago today


My favorite headline ever.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

In case you missed it


This story has been passing for news for the past few weeks in the gossip-starved Constitution State.

Calling Chris Dodd


The latest from Connecticut's Republicans. There is, of course, as they say, a third way.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Walter Cronkite


It might be hard for the current generation of news watchers to understand the significance of Walter Cronkite, who for two decades was anchor on the CBS Evening News. Now that we're a nation watching niche news, the concept of one newscast essentially speaking for the country is an alien concept.

Be that as it may, Cronkite's influence cannot be overstated; it's been said that once he turned against the Vietnam occupation, it was all over for the Nixon crew. And, of course, he kept us all apprised of the latest Watergate developments, became an expert on the space program, and came this close to breaking down on camera when he reported on a Friday in 1963 that John Kennedy was dead.

He became "Uncle Walter" to a nation and was the most trusted man in America for quite a while. (He was the reason I learned the definition of "avuncular.")

Cronkite's passing means the end of the era of giants in the television news business. Although he's not considered one of "Murrow's Boys," he nonetheless picked up the ball when the great ERM dropped it and ran honorably with it for nearly three decades. CBS forced him to retire when he turned 65 in 1982 (to my knowledge, the only newsman the network ever forced to leave), and television news was immediately the lesser for it.

Requiescat in pace.

Updated to include link in second paragraph.

UPDATE — Here's another item concerning Cronkite's influence. (I might add that Lyndon Johnson announced that he would not seek, nor would he accept the nomination for another term as President a mere month after Cronkite expressed his reservations regarding the Vietnam morass.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Now we're talkin'


BO's speech to the NAACP yesterday was nothing less than inspiring. I think it's still problematic as to how effective a president he'll be, but BO would've made a fabulous preacher.

I can't help but wonder how much of his oratorical style he owes to the disparaged Jeremiah Wright.

Heroes and goats


From this morning's Courant's sports pages:

Jeff Jacobs tries to take the side of a promising adolescent, but descends into self-righteousness in this interesting article about online poker.

The sad story of Diana Taurasi's DUI arrest continues.

Finally, Tom Watson returned to the glory days yesterday as, at the age of, ahem, 59, he shot a 65 at Turnberry. I'm certain I couldn't have shot the same score on either one of the nines.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Stating the obvious


My Congressman, Joe Courtney, threw down the gauntlet today when he asked the congressional oligarchs in opposition to health care reform
to look at themselves in the mirror. Because what they are presently entitled to as members of Congress is exactly what this legislation is proposing to create for all Americans.
Courtney can irk me at times (Someone representing Connecticut's 2nd District is pretty much obliged to vote for any defense measure s/he can.), but this statement calls a whore a whore and is certainly something that congressional Republicans would like the country to ignore.

Equitable Economics


Bob Reich discusses the health care proposal in his latest post. The money passage:
I know: Critics will charge that these [ultra-rich, who will pay for the plan] are the very people who invest, innovate, and hire, and thereby keep the economy going. So raising their taxes will burden the economy and thereby hurt everyone, including those who are supposed to be helped.

But there's no reason to suppose that taking a tiny sliver of the incomes of the top 1 percent will reduce all that much of their ardor to invest, innovate, and hire in the future. Yet if this tiny sliver means affordable health care for a far larger number of Americans, who will be able to get regular checkups and thereby stay healthy and productive, the positive effect on the American economy is likely to be far greater.
This is the type of social democracy that I believe in. May it come to pass.

It is what it is


Given the fact that the Republicans will never compromise on such a widows and orphans issue as health insurance, it seems to me ludicrous that BO would try to accommodate them on any issue. Senator Sanctimony can continue to bow to the great god Bi-Partisanship, but it's clear that the Grand Obstructionist Party will have none of it.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Justice in America


A New Jersey man [who] pleaded guilty to stealing 91 lobster tails from an Atlantic City casino's kitchen by cramming them into his jacket and backpack [has] been sentenced to four years in prison.
Is it me, or does this sentence seem a mite excessive? Cripes, that's more than a month two months weeks per lobster.

Mer-rick! Mer-rick!


Since announcing his candidacy 43 days ago, U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s Democratic challenger has raised $44,000 to Dodd’s $1.2 million ...

While [Merrick] Alpert’s fundraising is less than half of the $125,000 raised by Republican state Sen. Sam Caligiuri, early polling data released May 27 showed Alpert getting 24 percent of the Democratic primary vote to Dodd’s 44 percent ...

“Nobody knows Merrick Alpert, the new challenger to Dodd, and it should be troubling to Dodd that this political nobody is still getting a quarter of the Democratic primary vote,” Quinnipiac University Poll Director Douglas Schwartz said.
I keep chipping in, hoping that Countrywide Chris can be deposed, although he recently has sure tried to show that he's on the side of the average American.

Doing the right thing


Paul Krugman's latest post on health care can be found here. Of the trillion dollar price tag, Krugman asserts
That’s a bargain: the catastrophe of being ill without insurance, the fear of losing insurance, all ended—for much less than the Bush administration’s useless $1.35 trillion first tax cut, quickly followed by another $350 billion.
Are you listening, Governor Clubwoman?

Today's stats


Number of the last 24 National League batters who failed to reach base in last night's All-Star Game: 22

Percentage of books that children selected as best books that librarians selected for awards over a 30-year period: 4

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Everything you need to know about the Sonia Sotomayor hearings


From Andrew Pincus's liveblog concerning this morning's session:
As expected, Judge Sotomayor follows the patented Roberts/Alito approach: an explanation of the legal issues involved followed by a polite—but very firm—refusal to express any views about the substance of the issue/decision. She even refuses to identify Justices that she admires or to comment on whether cameras should be permitted for Supreme Court arguments.
And that is the reason watching the hearings is a waste of time.

My resentment


In his usual insightful way, Frank Rich on Sunday explained the continuing appeal of Governor Gogo:
[S]he stands for a genuine movement: a dwindling white nonurban America that is aflame with grievances and awash in self-pity as the country hurtles into the 21st century and leaves it behind.
Coincidentally, today I discovered that, should Judge Sotomayor be approved for the SCOTUS, the religious makeup of the court will be six Catholics, two Jews and one Protestant.

As a Protestant living in a country where the religious makeup comprises 25% Roman Catholic, 1% Jewish, and 50% Protestant, I feel underrepresented on the court to the point where I feel some kind of conspiracy is afoot. I'm certainly aflame with grievances and awash in self-pity.

This Day in History


While I realize today is Bastille Day, on July 14, 1798, the Sedition Act was enacted. In my opinion, it's the worst piece of legislation the US ever passed, but, hey, we were young and didn't know much better.

I don't quite know what our excuse is these days.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Cheney


Needless to say, I'm extremely interested in the Cheney/CIA story and am ready to believe the worst.

Fortunately, for all of BO's insistence that the US "look ahead" and pay no attention to possible high crimes and misdemeanors of the past (a position that makes absolutely no sense and is, in fact, contrary to many US positions in history), it looks like some federal legislators have made
calls for an investigation into the Central Intelligence Agency ... amid revelations that former Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the concealment of a covert agency spy program from Congress.
I keep hoping that one of these days, someone will have the integrity to investigate the Bushies' obvious malfeasances against the people of the United States of America, but I'm sure I'm being too optimistic.

Today in Connecticut Education


First, they encourage them to retire, and then they realize they don't have a budget to replace them.
Connecticut's technical high schools lost roughly 10 percent of their teachers in the state retirement incentive program, leaving gaping holes in many trade shops and classrooms statewide.

Some education leaders fear that only a fraction of the teachers will be replaced under the new state budget being negotiated, possibly leading to overcrowded classrooms or limited student enrollment.

Collectively, the state's 17 technical high schools lost 160 employees, including 108 teachers. The retirements also hammered the school system's leadership, with six principals, six assistant principals and even the superintendent departing.

The technical education system, the seventh-largest school system in Connecticut, is scrambling to make adjustments before its 10,000 students resume classes Aug. 27.
It's always disastrous when the state's legislators attempt to manage the local issue of education (cf. the mentoring program and the ridiculous testing program), and this situation is no different.

At this point, it's obvious that if nothing occurs in the next six weeks, "overcrowded classrooms or limited student enrollment" will result—and not only in the tech schools. Overcrowded classrooms will occur however this shakes out, because if "limited enrollment" is the answer, the overflow will go to public schools, which have already set their personnel for the upcoming year.

If tech schools try to bite the bullet and have larger classes, it will perforce affect standardized test scores, which tech school students have enough trouble with already.

Thanks again, legislators, for your typical foresight.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Jim Crow swims here


Philadelphia news has followed this story since I arrived in the Schuylkill Valley:
State officials will investigate accusations of racial discrimination against a suburban Philadelphia swim club that allegedly reacted to a visiting group of minority children by asking them not to return and pulling other kids out of the water.

The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission will immediately open an investigation into the actions of The Valley Club in the leafy suburb of Huntingdon Valley, chairman Stephen A. Glassman said.
It's really one of the more bizarre (and anachronistic) stories of the year and shows the latent racism that's still with us in the 21st century.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Off to the Keystone State


I'll be away for the weekend where I'll have a chance to witness tonight's Phils-Pirates game. Posting will be minimal at best.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

In your face, your majesty


Here's a pretty amusing story:
[O]nly a lucky few can say they saw LeBron James, reigning NBA MVP and the leading heir apparent to Michael Jordan's throne, on the receiving end of a dunk courtesy of Xavier sophomore Jordan Crawford.

That's because a Nike official confiscated tapes from a pair of cameramen who were shooting games involving James and several college players Monday night at the LeBron James Skills Academy ...

Nike issued a statement later in the day.

"Nike has been operating basketball camps for the benefit of young athletes for decades and has longstanding policies in place regarding what events are open and closed to media coverage. Unfortunately, for the first time in four years, two journalists did not respect our "no videotaping" policy at an after hours pick-up game Monday evening following the LeBron James Skills Academy."

On Tuesday, Merritt told a handful of reporters covering the event that the tape was confiscated because it was against the camp's rules for media to film any of the pro players participating.
Golly, the censorship (Let's call it what it was.) couldn't have had anything to do with the sweat shop owner Nike's concern for its golden goose or the damage sustained to the fragile ego of the NBA's $16 Million Man, could it?

Governor Clubwoman's veto


Two bills to reform health care in Connecticut drew vetoes Wednesday from Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who called the measures too expensive for the state right now.

The bills would have provided universal health care and allowed municipalities, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations to join the state's gigantic insurance pool ...

"These are well-intentioned bills that seek to address critically important issues, but they ultimately fail to resolve the central problems of access and affordability," Rell said. "These bills also raise serious fiscal concerns that—in a time of record budget deficits, record unemployment and record business closures—simply cannot be ignored. These two bills would cost billions of dollars before any economic recovery is complete."
So, the bills are excellent legislation, but screw 'em, anyway.

There comes a time when the right thing to do trumps "fiscal concerns." The truth of the matter is that there's never a good time to spend public money—some excuse will always be offered no matter how flush times appear to be. (And, it should be added, times don't seem to be quite as bad as they've been.)

As one who's logged a few years, I can't help comparing this situation to things that Mother Mary holds dear: home and family. That is, if one were to decide rationally whether or not to buy a house, few would; for the vast majority of Americans, it simply can't be afforded. Likewise, with having children: They cost too much and they change parents' lives inestimably. But people bite the bullet and buy houses and raise families, believing that somehow the costs associated therewith can be handled—and in most cases they are.

Thus, I'm a little disappointed with the governor's veto. I think it's shortsighted and ultimately callous. Further, I'm more than a little disappointed that the legislature's Democrats won't be able to override the veto because "some legislators will be unable to attend the veto session, tentatively set for July 20, because of long-planned trips." To my mind, it's inexcusable that lawmakers vacation rather than serve the people who elected them.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Plus ça Change ...


I'm struck by Adam Serwer's post this morning wherein he criticizes Pat Buchanan and Tucker Carlson for believing that "we should just have a cloistered elite group that chooses our leaders for us" because that battle was fought nearly two centuries ago. Here's a somewhat superficial post regarding the transition from John Quincy Adams to Andrew Jackson that points out some of the same issues Buchanan and Carlson fear today. In 1828, "the Federalists were terrified." To a great extent, we see that same fear of the hoi polloi in the thinking of conservatives in 2009.

Quotes of the Day


"I didn't have a problem with the bat and the helmet. The elbow pad, tossing it in the air, that's a bit far."
Umpire John Hirschbeck, explaining why he ejected
Manny Ramirez in last night's Mets-Dodgers game
"It's OK. I was coming out in the fifth inning."
—Manny Ramirez, reacting to Hirschbeck's ejection

My condolences to Mets fans.
While losing four straight, which includes a weekend sweep in Philadelphia, the Mets have hit .183, been outscored 21-3 and struck out 28 times. David Wright went 0 for 3 [last night] with a walk and is hitless in his last 16 at-bats as the Mets have dropped into fourth place, 4 1/2 games behind the NL East-leading Phillies ... [Moreover,] New York has ... gone scoreless in 22 consecutive innings, getting just 10 hits—all singles.
WFAN continues to get phone calls asking for Omar Minaya's head, and it seems that he might've had a few decent second-string players available once the injuries started to mount. Still, losing half the team to various ailments isn't something one can necessarily plan on.

And for the latest Sox tempest in a teapot, take a look here.



Atrios explains.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Baldwin-Lieberman race


I kind of had to think that the story regarding Alec Baldwin and his apparent desire to run against Senator Sanctimony for the latter's Senate seat in 2012 had reached its apex when the hideous NewsMax picked up on it.

Sure enough, this afternoon Baldwin
in a blog for the Huffington Post ... seemed to remove any speculation about a possible campaign in the Nutmeg State, though he left the door noticeably open about a future in politics.

"Lastly, no I am not moving to Connecticut to run against Joe Lieberman," Baldwin wrote. "As much as I think Lieberman is an enormous letdown to the party that gave him their nomination for vice president, I am sure that Democratic Party leaders in that state will take care of themselves."
Oh well. There's still plenty of time between now and crunch time.



The bozos on in the morning at WEEI couldn't have been more tiresome as yesterday they yelled at each other about whether Nomar would or would not be rudely greeted by the faithful at the Fens, and then this morning yelled at each other about whether or not his reception was appropriate. Boooooring!

Here's how it went, in all its glory:

Meet the new boss


For the life of me, I can't figure out why the US is in Afghanistan other than to placate the Charles Krauthammers of the world. Apparently, the ostensible reason is that Dr. Fu Manchu Osama bin Laden is there, and HE MUST BE TERMINATED! The truth of the matter is that bin Laden had his fifteen minutes of fame and now has as much clout as Junior Griffey.

The war in Afghanistan—the war that Barack Obama pledged to fight and win—has become an aimless absurdity ... [F]or the past seven years, Afghanistan has been a slow bleed against an array of mostly indigenous narco-jihadi-tribal guerrilla forces that we continue to call the "Taliban." These ragtag bands are funded by opium profits and led by assorted religious extremists and druglords, many of whom have safe havens in Pakistan.
Yet, there we are, in another senseless excursion Robert McNamara would've been proud of. Once again, American troops' role in this godforsaken environment is to serve as cannon fodder.
Seven American troops were killed Monday across Afghanistan in one of the bloodiest single days since the start of the 2001 war, an indication of the harsh fighting ahead as U.S. reinforcements square off with the resurgent Taliban.
As U.S. troops in Afghanistan suffered the largest one-day death toll in months Monday, military officials and experts warned Americans to brace for rising casualties as thousands of additional service members pour into the country to confront a resurgent Taliban.

So far this year, 95 American troops have died in Afghanistan, including seven on Monday, according to the independent website At the current rate, 2009 would be the deadliest for the U.S. in more than seven years of fighting, surpassing the number killed last year, the military said.
This is so tiring. I keep hoping that the US can get off this treadmill and show some resolve and let others handle their own problems. But it looks as if yet another administration is going to try to make the world safe for democracy as it descends into the abyss.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Robert McNamara


Robert McNamara, the architect of "the country's most disastrous foreign venture," has died.

When it came to foreign policy, the erstwhile Ford president didn't have a clue. Even he admitted after the debacle that became Vietnam that "We were wrong. We were terribly wrong." Of course, the
mea culpa renewed the national debate about the war and prompted bitter criticism against its author. "Where was he when we needed him?" a Boston Globe editorial asked. A New York Times editorial referred to McNamara as offering the war's dead only a "prime-time apology and stale tears, three decades late."
Of course, a great number of us who've lived long enough to see our own generation try to win another guerilla war to demonstrate "the principles and traditions of our country" thought both experiences were exercises in futility. If anything, the Bushies made it look as if they were trying to win the Vietnam War by attacking Iraq—a ridiculous policy if ever there was one.

Coincidentally, Feckless Leader's Defense Secretary is starting to try to justify various decisions he made while in that post. However, one hardly expects Rummy ever to be apologetic.

Short Al


Here's a very cool story on one of WFAN's FANdroids who's kind of disappeared. Anyone who witnessed Johnny Vander Meer's second no-hitter and Jackie Robinson's first game as a Dodger has the right to say about WFAN's callers, "It'd take them a lifetime before they’d know as much as me—I saw the greatest players ever.”

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Governor Gogo watch, cont'd


Steve Benen points out that Governor Gogo "chose to elaborate on her [decision to resign] with a 477-word, poorly-written Facebook message yesterday" and adds rather gratuitously that
In case there were any doubts, Palin's personal spokesperson told the AP that the Facebook message was, in fact, written by the governor. It was a helpful clarification, since it was easy to assume the message was written by a junior high school student who had hacked into Palin's profile.
Coincidentally, that's pretty much how I've categorized the gov's statement of Friday.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Live Strong


The Tour de France begins today, and the US is all in a twitter because Lance Armstrong will be racing in it after a hiatus of four years.

I can't see this as a good development: Armstrong doesn't exactly come into the race as America's Golden Boy. His divorce from a woman who chastely stood by him when he had testicular cancer has made him something of a pariah in the American sports scene. He's also now 37 years old and seems to be evincing the behavior of too many aging athletes (and rock stars, for that matter): not being able to call a career a career. My real concern is that in the next week or so he'll be detected using some kind of enhancement drug, and then his entire career will be brought into question. (For what it's worth, I've always been of the opinion that he's a user who's gotten away with it.)

Finally, I must add (irreverently) that anyone who was named after former Dallas Cowboys wideout Lance Rentzel might want to be careful about his various activities.

Independence Day reprise


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.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Governor Gogo Watch, cont'd


The transcript of Governor Gogo's resignation speech can be found here, and I've got to say it's just about the most desultory, rambling, and incoherent oration I've ever heard anywhere. I've heard dozens of speeches by 15-year-olds that were better organized and more purposeful than the embarrassment of this afternoon.

Be that as it may, the analysis concerning why she's leaving will be around for a while. I happen to believe there's a lot more to this story than is apparent right now, but we'll see.

At any rate, simpleminded Sarah is out of politics—at least for now, and I think that without holding political office, she's pretty much cooked her goose nationally.

Doing my part


Online fan balloting for the 16 elected starting position players in the 2009 All-Star Game came to a record-setting end on Thursday night.

During the 2009 All-Star Game Sprint Online Balloting program, 223.5 million votes from 17.8 million ballots were cast at and the 30 individual club sites. Both are the largest figures in the nine years of online balloting at, surpassing the previous record in 2008.
The truth of the matter is that MLB makes it ridiculously simple to vote the maximum 25 times. With just a few mouse clicks one can vote for the same players over and over again—and I did, although I might have been a little overzealous in my support of a former National League MVP.

Governor Gogo Watch, cont'd


While I certainly don't understand why, Alaska's governor has injected herself into the news recently with what passes for cheesecake in America's Last Frontier and David Frum's contention that while he was in Alaska,
people brought up, without prompting, the question of Palin’s extravagant self-regard. Several told me, independently of one another, that they had consulted the definition of "narcissistic personality disorder" in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders—"a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy"—and thought it fit her perfectly.
I was supervised for years by a guy who was certifiably narcissistic; it wasn't a pleasant experience. Yet, while Governor Gogo's narcissistic tendencies are certainly worthy of note, it seems to me that every politician must have a bit of the narcissistic bug within him or her. The desire to be in office, ipso facto, denotes such a condition. God knows a certain former New York City mayor reveled in his narcissism.

UPDATE — As it turns out, I didn't know the half of it.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Palace of Auburn Hills=Gampel Pavilion


DarLucky lets me know that
the [Detroit] Pistons made major moves to shore up their three-point shooting and perimeter athleticism by agreeing to deals with coveted free agents [and former UConn players] Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.
Now, I've never been a big fan of Vllanueva; he had, at best, a cup of coffee at Storrs and could have become an integral part of the most underachieving team in the school's history. His attitude doesn't seem to have gotten any better now that he's a pro. I've gotta think that the Bucks couldn't wait to get rid of Mr. CV31.

Gordon, on the other hand, is indefatigable and has the potential to be the guy to replace Chauncey Billups as the heart and soul of the team. Gordon's absolute refusal to lose the Big East championship game of 2004 remains the single most inspired performance I've ever seen from a male Huskie—and, yes, I do remember Donyell Marshall's 42-spot at the same venue in January, 1994.

At any rate, with Gordon and Rip Hamilton (the players who essentially led their respective teams to UConn's two national championships) on the same team, it'll be hard for me not to at least pay a little bit of attention to what the Pistons are up to.

The Steamer


133 saves doesn't sound that impressive, but anything that gets Bob Stanley's name off the top of the Red Sox leaderboard is just fine with me.

The Roman Taliban


Atrios points out this story:
The Vatican is quietly conducting two sweeping investigations of American nuns, a development that has startled and dismayed nuns who fear they are the targets of a doctrinal inquisition ... [M]any fear that the ... motivation is to reel in American nuns who have reinterpreted their calling for the modern world.

Some sisters surmise that the Vatican and even some American bishops are trying to shift them back into living in convents, wearing habits or at least identifiable religious garb, ordering their schedules around daily prayers and working primarily in Roman Catholic institutions, like schools and hospitals.
I've always been of the opinion that when an institution is dying, it gets more authoritarian, and I think this is a case in point. At any rate, the threat of an Apostolic Visitation, wherein all aspects of fidelity to the cause are investigated, shows just how paternalistic the male-dominated Church of Rome is.

The church seems to know one thing about women: It doesn't like them. But as long as they stay in their place and do what they're bidden, perhaps they can stick around and do some heavy lifting like "planting schools and hospitals and keeping parishes humming." Any variance from that set-up and suspicion immediately arises.

It's no wonder, then, that one
Sister Schneiders, [a] professor in Berkeley, urged her fellow sisters not to cooperate with the visitation, saying the investigators should be treated as "uninvited guests who should be received in the parlor, not given the run of the house."
This could be an interesting story, but it's likely that it'll be kept under wraps—or vestments.

Perhaps the church should just get it over with and put all the sisters in burkas and let the chips fall where they may.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Holy Joe strikes again, cont'd


While I realize Connecticut isn't called the Insurance State for nothing, it's still disquieting to see its junior senator reject the notion of a health care public option out of hand.
“If we create a public option, the public is going to end up paying for it,” Lieberman said following an hour-long confab with public-health experts at the Ashmun Street community center of the Monterey Homes public housing complex. “That’s a cost we can’t take on.”
For those who came in late,
“Public option” is shorthand for a Medicare-like government plan that would compete with private companies to cover many of the 47 million Americans who don’t get private health insurance through their employers or elsewhere ...

Connecticut’s other U.S. senator, Chris Dodd, supports the public option.
(Godd certainly does, given the efforts he's got to make to show the state's denizens he's not the over-privileged clod everyone knows he is.)

It doesn't exactly take a rocket scientist to figure out Senator Sanctimony's reasoning here. He is, after all, the fellow who was the recipient of $731K in insurance company contributions just for his 2006 Senate race. Such companies are terrified that the public option
will actually work. If the program operates well, more and more people will make the rational decision to choose it over private insurance (what we're supposed to do in a market, after all) and the insurance companies will lose customers.
And, should that happen, Holy Joe will perforce receive less for his coffers.

tparty shows that this behavior is by no means a new phenomenon.

Quote of the Day


After nearly eight months, millions of dollars in legal fees, two appeals
and a recount, GOP incumbent Norm Coleman conceded gracefully ...
Time's spin on the Minnesotan's reluctant concession yesterday
I've gotta think the two parts of that sentence don't go together.

At any rate, while
Senate Democrats can celebrate the milestone they have dreamed of ever since the start of the last election campaign: a presumably filibuster-proof 60-vote majority in the U.S. Senate,
I'm not so sure the craven Harry Reid will know what to do with such a luxury. He certainly doesn't have what many consider a good track record up to this point.

UPDATE — I see that The Wall Street Journal accuses Mr. Franken of having "stolen an election." Somehow, I don't remember the paper being so discomfited in 2000 and 2004.