Wednesday, December 30, 2009

College admissions and athletes


While the University of Connecticut and its apologists will no doubt pat themselves on the back for not having a special admit policy, the truth of the matter is that
If grades make you a long shot for college, you're much more likely to get a break if you can play ball.
And while South Carolina athletic director Eric Hyman can try to justify this all he wants ("It's also a way to get better artists, better musicians," he said. "It's not all athletes. If you graduate, if your people are successful, there's going to be more flexibility. And that's what we've done."), the program is clearly aimed at athletes and not cello virtuosos.

I see absolutely nothing wrong with this policy. When I see the NCAA getting huffy about Sam McKnight's borrowing of a car while raking in millions from his efforts, I don't see a lot of reason there.

Let's put it this way: With Alabama and Texas each getting a piece of the $31 million the BCS/NCAA will distribute after the national championship game, it behooves colleges to bend the rules a little bit to admit students who might help schools in getting that money.

A Tale of Two Administrations


While I'm certainly not happy with the "systemic failure" evinced by federal security forces during Christmas day's bombing attempt (and the concomitant repercussions; i.e., TSA screws up and it's airline passengers who must pay the price), I suppose I can take a certain consolation in the fact that this administration is facing up to this situation a lot differently than its predecessor regarding the 9/11 fiasco did.

On July 10, 2001, two months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet met with his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters to review the latest on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Black laid out the case, consisting of communications intercepts and other top-secret intelligence showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States. The mass of fragments made a compelling case, so compelling to Tenet that he decided he and Black should go to the White House immediately. Tenet called Condoleezza Rice, then national security adviser, from the car and said he needed to see her right away ...

[During the meeting] Tenet and Black felt they were not getting through to Rice. She was polite, but they felt the brush-off. President Bush had said he didn't want to swat at flies.
Of course, when this meeting (and the more important August 6 memorandum) became publicized, Rice made the risible claim that the Bushies were not aware that planes might be used in an attack on the US. Moreover, she claimed that warnings the Bush Administration had received regarding the possibility of an attack weren't specific enough to warrant moving "heaven and earth to stop it."

Needless to say, in light of the fact that Gorgeous George asserted he'd made no mistakes in the first half of his administration, the Obamans' admission that
bits and pieces of information were in the possession of the U.S. government in advance . . . that, had they been assessed and correlated, could have led to a much broader picture and allowed us to disrupt the attack
while discomfiting, is at least appreciably more forthright than the Bushies' nonsensical contention that they could have done nothing to prevent 9/11.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The end of a decade?


I don't believe the decade will end in four days, but I'm in the minority. At any rate, a number of people are giving their opinions regarding just how hideous the aughts were.

The truth of the matter is that those pundits aren't necessarily wrong—they're just premature.

Where we're headed


Saturday, December 26, 2009

This is such BS


Airlines are making it so much more horrid to fly; this, surely, won't make the experience any better.
Transportation authorities began imposing tighter security measures at airports on Saturday and ordered new restrictions governing the activities of passengers during flights as investigators conducted searches to learn more about the Nigerian engineering student accused of igniting an incendiary device aboard a Northwest Airlines jet as it landed in Detroit on Friday ...

According to a statement posted Saturday morning on Air Canada’s Web site, the Transportation Security Administration will severely limit the behavior of both passengers and crew during flights in United States airspace—restricting movement in the final hour of flight. Late Saturday morning, the T.S.A. had not yet included this new information on its own Web site.

“Among other things,” the statement in Air Canada’s Web site read, “during the final hour of flight customers must remain seated, will not be allowed to access carry-on baggage, or have personal belongings or other items on their laps.”
Once again, the TSA has punished the innocent with this crapola. It's not as if passengers can't take care of threatening situations on their own without these ridculous policies.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Quote of the Day


"No, Virginia, at this point there is no sanity clause."
— Paul Krugman on the crazies who tried to torpedo health care reform
Steve Benen is envious.

Thursday, December 24, 2009



What would the opposite of a bill of attainder be called?

Quote of the Day


"We are getting precariously close to fracturing an institution where no one wins."
— Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) on the rancor that currently exists in the US Senate
To be sure, the Republicans have always had demagogues, but currently every Republican senator is guilty of demagoguery, and no one seems to care.

At least when Joe McCarthy told US Army General Ralph Zwicker that he was "not fit to wear that uniform," people properly felt that the Wisconsin opportunist had crossed a political and ethical line.

Today, when a US Senator suggests that it'd be better if a colleague died, the only ripples that appear are on the Internets. Certainly, the offending senator's constituents think nothing of it—and probably think it's an appealing prospect.

I don't think we're close to any kind of civil war, but at this point, the only consolation in the current political morass is that only one in five Americans identify themselves as Republicans.

Bidding adieu to 2009


UPDATE — To see how Holy Joe's duplicity is playing out in Plymouth, look here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Festivus!


Given the fact that all major religions (and their concomitant holidays) started as cults, I have great faith (if you'll pardon the expression) in the increasing (international!) popularity of Festivus.

Now, this is obviously a phenomenon that's going to take some time, but to paraphrase a great American:
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life, but I've been up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know, that we, as a people, will get to air our grievances!

And so I'm happy, today.
I'm not worried about anything.
I'm not fearing any feats of strength!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Aluminum Pole!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Quote of the day


"[W]e should ... recognize the Senate bill for what it is: A measure that will make
people's lives significantly better. Surely that's worth a little enthusiasm."
— Jonathan Cohn
So few people know about the health bill that's just passed the Senate—and so few media are doing a decent job of explaining it—that it's nice to see how real Americans stand to save some money with the bill's implementation.

Of course, what happens to the bill in the conference committee in the next who-knows-how-many number of weeks is problematic, but here's hoping that the numbers Cohn cites don't get appreciably worse.

Annus Horribilis


I'd feel a little better about the hideous year we've just gone through if I didn't anticipate more of the same in 2010.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Quote of the Day


"The thing to remember about Lieberman is that he's not the 51st vote against health care
reform. He's the 41st vote against voting on health care. That's not democracy."
Colin McEnroe in this week's column

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Earthly rewards


It surprises me not a whit that the current octogenarian pope, whose formative years occurred in 1940s Germany, is pushing for the canonization of Pius XII, whose indifference to the plight of European Jews during that time is notorious.

Just sayin'.

Friday, December 18, 2009



I've had fun picking the anticipated winners of the 34(!) upcoming college bowl games here. Of course, provincial as I am, my "most confident" pick is UConn over South Carolina in the celebrated PapaJohns.Com Bowl on January 2. I don't think the point spread has anything to do with the contest, but UConn is currently getting 4½ points from the Gamecocks.

Anyway, I'm in the Tennessee group (Why not?) with the usual user name. First game of the bowls is tomorrow afternoon's New Mexico Bowl. Click on in if you wish to challenge me.

Just shut up


Sen. Franken does what a lot of others would like to.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Quote of the Day


The private insurers are winning and the public is losing.
— Robert Reich in his superb latest post on HCR
As usual, Professor Reich doesn't disappoint in this overview of where we stand as of now.

Holy Joe and the Teabaggers


From Josh Marshall:
In the course of a few hours [Tuesday], Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) sent the tea party crowd on the same emotional rollercoaster progressives have been riding with the senator since the start of the health care reform debate this year.
So here's the deal: The progressives hate him; the Teabaggers have come to the realization that the junior senator is "just up here for himself." So just whom does he represent? With the AARP in favor of HCR, he can't count on the country's most dependable voters.

I don't get it.

I especially don't get it because Senator Sanctimony has started to talk about 2012 where it seems likely that the then septuagenarian will have to run as an Independent because he's alienated everyone else.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holy Joe and the health bill


You know, for a while it was kind of amusing to make fun of Senator Sanctimony. He'd clearly aligned himself with the party in power, and with the Democrats so hopelessy emasculated, he wasn't doing much harm.

Now, however, the game has changed drastically, as Josh Marshall explains:
Lieberman just doesn't seem to be negotiating in good faith. He keeps pulling his caucus to some new compromise, waiting a few days and then saying he can't agree to that either.
It seems to me, though, that Holy Joe's position is that he doesn't want any kind of health care bill and so just keeps moving the goal posts.

That is, he'll vote for nothing that's proposed, and so the Democrats might as well rush Olympia Snowe for her vote, since they can't count on Connecticut's junior senator for any support.

UPDATE — Matt Yglesias pretty much says the same thing.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

We're screwed


So says Frank Rich this morning.

As one who's approaching the anticipated benefits of retirement, I continue to truly fear for those who are still in the work force and will have to contend with "an ... economic deck [that] is stacked against them, gamed by distant, powerful figures they can’t see or know" for the next thirty years or so.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Quote of the Day


In those rare cases when things actually work the way they're designed to, it's worth reminding ourselves of why the Constitution is such a vital document and why it's so crucial that it be adhered to and defended.
— Glenn Greenwald on yesterday's ACORN decision

Tuesday, December 08, 2009



Glenn Greenwald has a few:
[A]re the criticisms that have been voiced about Obama valid? Has he appointed financial officials who have largely served the agenda of the Wall Street and industry interests that funded his campaign? Has he embraced many of the Bush/Cheney executive power and secrecy abuses which Democrats once railed against—from state secrets to indefinite detention to renditions and military commissions? Has he actively sought to protect from accountability and disclosure a whole slew of Bush crimes? Did he secretly a negotiate a deal with the pharmaceutical industry after promising repeatedly that all negotiations over health care would take place out in the open, even on C-SPAN? Are the criticisms of his escalation of the war in Afghanistan valid, and are his arguments in its favor redolent of the ones George Bush made to "surge" in Iraq or Lyndon Johnson made to escalate in Vietnam? [Was] Bob Herbert right when he condemned Obama's detention policies as un-American and tyrannical, and warned: "Policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House"?
The mere fact that the questions are being raised is discomfiting.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

How did I miss this?


Proving once again that the only place to find worthwhile news is on comedy programs (I heard this over the weekend on "Wait Wait."), I give you Geoffrey Dunn:
There have been so many lies and distortions pointed out in Sarah Palin's Going Rogue since it was released last week that her memoir has already become something of a gag line.

But perhaps the most embarrassing gaffe so far is her misattributed quote to UCLA basketball legend John Wooden.

As the epigram to Chapter Three, "Drill, Baby, Drill," Palin assigns the following remarks to the Hall of Fame hoops coach:

Our land is everything to us ... I will tell you one of the things we remember on our land. We remember our grandfathers paid for it—with their lives.

Only the quote wasn't by John Wooden. It was written by a Native American activist named John Wooden Legs in an essay entitled "Back on the War Ponies," which appeared in a left-wing anthology, We Are the People: Voices from the Other Side of American History, edited by Nathaniel May, Clint Willis, and James W. Loewen.
Another instant classic.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Waking up the echoes


In a development that can't possibly surprise anyone in the Constitution State,
a report in the Chicago Sun-Times earlier this week cited an unnamed source saying [UConn football coach Randy] Edsall had been contacted by [Notre Dame] and that there was mutual interest. Edsall had his weekly teleconference with UConn beat reporters [yesterday], and the media was told beforehand that he wouldn't take questions on the matter.
This is pretty much SOP for any coach who's being rushed by another school. Moreover, Edsall has a big game tomorrow night against USF and perhaps a bowl game after that.

I don't necessarily see Edsall as a good fit for South Bend, but he doesn't seem to have any more worlds to conquer in Storrs.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

My take on Tiger Woods


One comment and then I'll let the vultures continue to have at it ...

I have to admit to a certain disappointment with Eldrick's statement of yesterday:
"Although I am a well-known person and have made my career as a professional athlete, I have been dismayed to realize the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means. For the last week, my family and I have been hounded to expose intimate details of our personal lives. The stories in particular that physical violence played any role in the car accident were utterly false and malicious. Elin has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect.

"But no matter how intense curiosity about public figures can be, there is an important and deep principle at stake which is the right to some simple, human measure of privacy. I realize there are some who don't share my view on that. But for me, the virtue of privacy is one that must be protected in matters that are intimate and within one's own family. Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn't have to mean public confessions."
It seems to me that, like too many others, The World's Greatest Golfer wants to have his cake and eat it too. That is, there exists in the statement a contention that he should enjoy the fruits of his celebrity, but shouldn't have to submit to any of the (positive or negative) publicity that that celebrity perforce creates.

After having earned hundreds of millions of dollars from our tabloid society, TWGG (and former Stanford attendee) should know better than to think he's immune from paying it back in some way.

The Franken Effect


Josh Marshall has been highlighting this story for the past day, and it's pretty funny—in a perverse sort of way, of course.
The Republicans are steamed at [Minnesota Democratic Senator Al] Franken because partisans on the left are using a measure he sponsored to paint them as rapist sympathizers—and because Franken isn't doing much to stop them.

"Trying to tap into the natural sympathy that we have for this victim of this rape—and use that as a justification to frankly misrepresent and embarrass his colleagues, I don't think it's a very constructive thing," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in an interview.
The upshot is that Senate Republicans see Franken's amendment as an anti-bipartisanship effort. That is, their complaint is that he's purposely divided Senate Democrats and Republicans in their collective efforts to (Wait for it.) pass beneficial legislation.

Republican disingenuousness knows no bounds.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Obama's War


Joan Walsh elucidates on last evening's "worst speech of [BO's] presidency" and the disappointment we progressives are feeling:
Obama has governed like the centrist he told us and showed us he is, from his early flip-flops on FISA to his Goldman Sachs-friendly bailout policies to compromising on the job-creation parts of his economic stimulus to his tepid backing of a health care reform public option. It's going to take hard work by activists on all of those fronts to push him to better solutions.
I suppose. But at this point, BO looks like a somewhat typical politician who is adept only at talking the talk.

Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald grasps at straws.