Friday, July 30, 2010

Vietnamistan, cont'd


With the deaths of three more American troops on Friday, July became the deadliest month for U.S. forces in the nine-year Afghan war.
This is representative of how much good the deaths have done.

Vietnam, Iraq, and now Afghanistan: I feel as if I'm going down for the third time.

This just in


Charlie Rangel is a crook.

Golly. Who knew?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Question of the day


Can a nation remain a superpower if its internal politics are incorrigibly stupid?

E.J. Dionne isn't so sure.

Rod Paige? Barack Obama?


Who said the following?
All I'm asking ... is a measure of accountability. Surely we can agree that even as we applaud teachers for their hard work, we need to make sure they're delivering results in the classroom. If they're not, let's work with them to help them be more effective. And if that fails, let's find the right teacher for that classroom.
Sure. No problem. If the testing doesn't go right, just pick another teacher from the Magic Teacher Tree, and everything will be just fine.

I'd feel a lot better about the speaker's position if he hadn't chosen to put his own children in an elitist school of the first rank.

A PR nightmare


To be sure, BP has always looked like the stereotypical robber baron in the last 101 days, but it sure looks like, even when it tries to do the right thing, the corporation falls right on its face.

In other words, making Kenneth Feinberg the face of the company is a big big mistake.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Having it both ways


So BO is
"concerned about the disclosure of sensitive information from the battlefield that could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations"
while assuring Americans that the WikiLeaks information doesn't
"reveal any issues that haven’t already informed our public debate on Afghanistan.”
So, with his fellow apologists, BO states that it's the messenger who's the bad guy in this while his own strategists and he are on the right track.

I think I've heard this song before.

Jack Tatum


New Jersey raised Jack Tatum, one of the hardest hitters ever to play football, has died.

It can truly be said that he was a revolutionary player in that his paralyzing hit on the Patriots' Darryl Stingley in 1978 led to the NFL changing its rules concerning helmet-to-helmet tackles.

While I certainly felt the Stingley episode was a tragic one, I couldn't help but be a fan of Tatum. At the very least, he was a very entertaining collegian at Ohio State.

He had rough times toward the end of his life—"He suffered from diabetes and, several years ago, had a leg amputated."—but that certainly seems to be inevitable for football players.

Requiescat in pace.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Question of the day


Are the American people obsolete? Michael Lind responds.

I've always been curious about the feeling of alienation I've experienced since 2001. Viz., why do I feel as if the US isn't the US I thought I was a citizen of? Lind's article starts to answer my question pretty accurately.

If the country is becoming more and more a nation of haves and have nots, of what use are the have nots?

Monday, July 26, 2010



The opinion regarding WikiLeaks' release of 92,000 documents pertaining to the fiasco that is Afghanistan is pretty much "Well, everyone knew this was going on, anyway."

Whether or not that's true, it's been a bad bad day for the Obamans. Just about everyone is jumping on the Pakistan-Taliban connection, but I'm probably most disturbed by the "White House's" reaction to the release: "The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security." Ah, here we go—the playing of the national security card.

All tyrants, from Nixon to Reagan to the Bushes, have used "national security" as an excuse to justify the stupidest, most inhumane, policies known to the republic. And now we have the Obamans reciting the same mantra. Let the reader draw his own conclusions; I've certainly drawn mine.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange enjoys “crushing bastards.” Given today's episode, the big proponent of change, Barack Obama, is a member of that illegitimate group.

UPDATE — Hilarious: Holy Joe castigates the messenger and accuses WikiLeaks of having "an ideological agenda."



As one who became a Rolling Stones fan when Mick Jagger was an unknown stripling of nineteen years of age, I have to admit that today is a bit disquieting.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

The end of life as we know it


This is really one of the most depressing items I've read recently.
[T]he middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America.

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a blinding pace.

... the globalism and "free trade" that our politicians and business leaders insisted would be so good for us have had some rather nasty side effects. It turns out that they didn't tell us that the "global economy" would mean that middle class American workers would eventually have to directly compete for jobs with people on the other side of the world where there is no minimum wage and very few regulations. The big global corporations have greatly benefited by exploiting third world labor pools over the last several decades,
There are a few voices crying in the wilderness anent this society-killing phenomenon, but as long as the ostensible change makers sanction the status quo, I'm not real optimistic about the republic's future.

Daniel Schorr


It might be said that Daniel Schorr's life was a synecdoche for the devolvement of American journalism. His work with the muckraker Murrow to the ill-fated Pike episode evinced the coziness that the press and government ultimately came to. Indeed, I'd argue that Schorr's firing after his leaking of the House's CIA report in 1975 was the beginning of the end of a useful and vibrant American press. These days the main stream media are little more than cheerleaders and fellow travelers.

To quote Jefferson: "The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure."

Daniel Schorr understood that necesiity and lived his life toward its fulfillment. I can't believe that the corporate-based main stream media will ever allow his like to emerge again.

Requiescat in pace.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Today's Krugman


Krugman this morning points out what's been apparent for some time:
There’s now a concerted effort under way to rehabilitate [George W.] Bush’s image on at least three fronts: the economy, the deficit and the war.
Indeed, a basic strategy of Republicans for the upcoming elections is to run on those very things that garnered GI George a 22% approval rating by the time he left office.

As one scratches his head over the craziness of all of this, one can't help but be reminded of Einstein's definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

College football shenanigans


I've never been much of a fan of Boston College athletics for the simple reason that the college tries to pass itself off as just a notch below Harvard academically while simultaneously accepting marginal students for its football and basketball teams. Duke and Georgetown are comparable, it seems to me.

At any rate, for many years, the Eagles could have their way with Connecticut athletes, scooping them up because UConn's comparable teams were so lackluster. The NFL All-Pro Bill Romanowski from Rockville comes to mind. Those days, of course, are now gone, and the Eagles seem to be pretty peeved about it, resorting to some pretty slimy recruiting tactics.
Michael Nebrich was the first player to commit to UConn's 2011 recruiting class. But that didn't prevent a Boston College assistant coach from sending an e-mail to Nebrich asking the 6-foot-1, 190-pound quarterback to attend a one-day skills clinic. The BC assistant also told Nebrich there would be a new UConn coaching staff by January ... "I got an e-mail from one of the BC assistant coaches who wasn't too happy about my commitment," Nebrich said Wednesday morning. "He told me stuff like the UConn coaching staff isn't going to be there in January. I called up Coach [Joe] Moorhead [UConn's offensive coordinator] and Coach Edsall and told them about it and asked them and they told me that was absolutely ridiculous and reassured me they'd be there."
I suppose the episode is a testimony to UConn's progress in the realm of NCAA D-I football, but it's pretty underhanded, nevertheless.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Not so fast


The Internets are ablaze with the right's latest racist escapade: the Shirley Sherrod episode.

The African-American Sherrod, of course, was fired from her job at the USDA for purported racist remarks she made in a recent speech about an episode from more than two decades ago. The offending remarks were "discovered" in a video by Washington Times columnist Andrew Breitbart.

Now it turns out that the video was doctored and that Sherrod's speech actually contains a plea that whites and blacks "have to work together ... we have to overcome the divisions that we have."

Digby elucidates on the whole mess, but what strikes me about the episode is how quickly the Obamans were—once again—willing to surrender to the right. Now, it turns out that they might have been a little quick in pulling the trigger.

(Say what you want about the Bushies, they at least had the courage of their convictions—as wrong as they were—and would never have been so quick to jettison one of their own.)

Once again, we have an episode where the spineless Obamans have appeased their opponents in order to avoid a controversy. They might as well start boiling the water for the macaroni and cheese.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010



Following up on DarLucky's post of a few days ago, I see that
Tottenham Hotspur banned vuvuzela horns from its soccer stadium, becoming the first English Premier League club to outlaw the plastic instruments heard droning throughout the World Cup in South Africa.
The reason, of course, is that
“We are concerned that the presence of the instruments within the stadium pose unnecessary risks to public safety and could impact on the ability of all supporters to hear any emergency safety announcements,” the London club said yesterday in a statement on its website.
Ah yes. "Public safety." Times sure have changed since 9/11, haven't they? Now all a corporate or public entity has to do is play the security card and the cravens will fall right into line.

Needless to say, at least on this side of the Atlantic, practices in the name of "security" curtailed civil rights unlike anything the republic had ever seen.

And things certainly aren't getting any better.


Monday, July 19, 2010

This is hilarious


Megan Carpentier reports.

Go ahead, Sarah. Just put your hand to your forehead and be done with it.

Today's Krugman


On the subject of the deficit vs. jobs, it's clear where Republicans ostensibly stand. Of course, it's a charade since whatever the Obamans are in favor of, the plutocrats will speak against.

Be that as it may, Paul Krugman this morning points out that the Obamans unfortunately have found a certain appeal in the Repubs' mantra, retreating from a strong position on job creation in the hope of ... making everybody happy? (It occurs to me that I've just subtly compared BO's governing style to that of the Constitution State's ridiculously ineffective governor. So be it.)

As the Nobel Laureate points out, this accommodation will surely hurt Democrats at the polls in the fall:
The best way for Mr. Obama to have avoided an electoral setback this fall would have been enacting a stimulus that matched the scale of the economic crisis. Obviously, he didn’t do that. Maybe he couldn’t have passed an adequate-sized plan, but the fact is that he didn’t even try.
And so goes American politics in the post-Bush era.

UPDATE — Isaac Chotiner responds to Krugman's article.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Quote of the Day


“One of the reasons that the recovery has lost momentum is that high-end
consumers have become more jittery and more cautious.”
Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics

Krugman (and Keynes, of course) pretty much have it right: Incentives are needed to create jobs for the hoi polloi who don't have them. They're the ones who'll spend money for necessities and get the economy going again. Clearly, the country won't get out of its tough economic times if it has to depend on the patrons of Coach and Gucci.

Meanwhile, the Republicans block every attempt to create economy-helping incentives because that would necessitate tax increases. Their small minds make it impossible for them to pay any attention at all to the big picture of increased revenue as a result of increased employment. Sigh.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Vuvuzela Report


The most common question I've been asked since returning home from South Africa and the World Cup has been, "So how annoying were the vuvuzelas?"

And my answer is: not really, actually. It would be nice if they don't find their way to any other countries, certainly. And yes I agree they are absolutely awful on television. But in person, they aren't nearly as bad as expected. I think it's something with how the microphones pick up the sound.

The stadium is a constant buzz, but it doesn't sound like being surrounded by a swarm of angry bees like you might think. And there were times when certain patterns started to emerge that were kind of fun.

Watching the few short videos we took of the game we attended, I was amazed at how loud and constant the vuvuzelas were, because we didn't remember it being like that. So I blame the microphones, not the little plastic horns themselves.

Plus, they are really kind of fun to blow for just about any reason: great play, a goal, terrible ref decision, bad pass, nothing else happening. So I'll admit it...we bought one after the game we went to, for future "hooting" in the bars and streets of Capetown. And we picked up a couple more to bring home just for good measure. Which is nothing compared to the dozen plus I saw hanging out of some people's carry-on luggage.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

On the road again


On my way to Vacationland for a few days. Internet access being what it is up there, there'll be no posting until the return.

Happy belated birthday wishes to Chill, and welcome back to the good ol' US of A to DarLucky.

Re the title of this post, take your pick:

Willie Nelson,

or (my preference)

Canned Heat.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Pennsylvania bound


Off to see the Phils tonight and Momocle during the other times of the weekend. Posting may or may not occur during that time.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

It's not the heat; it's the hysteria


Yesterday the Hartford Courant and other state papers reported that
Police have charged two assistant football coaches at Middletown High School with second-degree reckless endangerment after a player collapsed during a strength and conditioning session Tuesday evening.

Police said they were called to the high school at 7:27 p.m. and found that a group of players had been doing weight training and running in the extreme heat. The student collapsed while sprinting up a hill with other players. He was not identified.

Police said the temperature at the time was 93 and no water had been provided to the players during the training.
Well, as it turns out, this initial report might have been a bit of an exaggeration.
Police and school administrators have provided contrasting accounts of the events surrounding the arrest Tuesday of two assistant football coaches and the illness of a high school athlete under their supervision ...

Mike Pitruzzello, the school district's athletic director, said that all 12 of the athletes at Tuesday's 6 p.m. conditioning session had their own water bottles. The students, Pitruzzello said, were wearing shorts and T-shirts.

The players spent about an hour lifting weights in an air-conditioned room at the high school, then went outside to do six 30-yard wind sprints, school Superintendent Michael Frechette said.

"They were made aware of hydration and told to drink a lot of water," Pitruzzello said.
The kid didn't collapse; water was available. The whole thing looks pretty ridiculous.

Be that as it may, the story will continue to have legs because of the infantile feud the town's mayor and superintendent of schools continue to have.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Ev'rybody knows I'm him


Not a July 7 passes without my thinking of Muddy Waters' "Hoochie Coochie Man" because of the song's third verse. Here's a performance of the song the erstwhile McKinley Morganfield made fifty years ago.

And happy birthday to devotee and new septuagenarian, Richard Starkey.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

It's not him; it's them


As much as I can see that the Rev. Kevin J. Gray is kind of a lunatic for stealing
$1.3 million from [Waterbury's] Sacred Heart parish over seven years [because] he "had grown to hate being a priest" because the archdiocese had given him the "worst church assignments" where he would "have to fix problems made by the previous priests" [and then used the] church funds to pay for hotels, restaurant meals, clothing and male escorts,
the fact remains that if the Roman Catholic Church had any kind of reasonable polity regarding placement and activities of its priests the episode wouldn't have occurred.

Cripes, as much as some may not like it, even the Episcopalians allow homosexuals in their priesthood.

Killer Hybrids


Just when you think you're doing a good thing for the planet by owning a Civic hybrid, you're hit with this piece of news:
Gas-electric hybrids, propelled by electric motors at low speeds, are well-known for their quiet ride and great mileage. But their silence isn't always golden.

Some researchers and safety groups say that quiet operation — "hybrid creep" — can pose risks for unsuspecting pedestrians and the blind, who use sound cues.

Advocates for the blind have sought the addition of artificial noises in hybrids for several years, concerned that the expected sales growth of hybrids could lead to more pedestrian fatalities and injuries. Hybrids account for about 2 percent of new car sales each year but auto companies are expected to boost production in advance of tougher fuel efficiency standards this decade.
Helps reduce air and noise pollution, but doing so apparently poses a problem. An object lesson that no matter how good a product may seem, it'll always somehow have shortcomings.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Krugman states the obvious


In his column this morning, Paul Krugman opines,
Republicans ... have made the cynical calculation that blocking anything President Obama tries to do — including, or perhaps especially, anything that might alleviate the nation’s economic pain — improves their chances in the midterm elections. Don’t pretend to be shocked: you know they’re out there, and make up a large share of the G.O.P. caucus.
It's unfortunate that it took the Obamans more than a year to comprehend this way of thinking, but I suppose it's somewhat comforting that they've come to see the light.

If Senate and House Democrats hope to have any chance of retaining their numbers this fall, this obstructionist drum is the one they'll have to keep beating.

Another danger


Independence Day is dangerous enough with all the traffic, inebriated drivers, and fireworks about, but spooked horses?

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Hot Dog Hysterics


Demonstrating that the world of competitive eating is every bit as crazy as the World Cup, six-time Nathan's hot dog eating champ
Takeru Kobayashi went on stage and police grabbed him. He tried to hold onto barricades as he was taken away.
All of this occurred after
competitive eater Joey Chestnut ... held on to his title at the annual July Fourth hot dog eating contest at New York’s Coney Island ...

Chestnut chomped down on 54 hot dogs in 10 minutes on Sunday to win the annual Nathan’s International Hot Dog Eating Contest for the fourth year in a row.
This story, which is sure to have legs, might not be quite as exciting as, say, the recent Nigeria World Cup excitement, but it's not far behind.

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.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Independence Days news


The recent discovery that Jefferson emended the Declaration of Independence is kind of interesting, I suppose.

Nevertheless, I've always been more struck by the fact that one of Jefferson's drafts included the following criticism of George III:
He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivatng and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of INFIDEL powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people for whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the LIBERTIES of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the LIVES of another.
Needless to say, the agrarian states of North and South Carolina, et al, couldn't stand to have this rebuke included, and so it was expunged.

Funny how that particular emendation is rarely discussed.

The Huskies' Story, cont'd


As the state's university tries to regain its good name, the school
announced Friday that contracts have been finalized to make Kevin Ollie an assistant coach and Glen Miller the team's director of basketball administration (previously titled director of operations).

In this largely unforeseen, important search, UConn stayed within the family. Ollie, one of the most beloved players in Huskies history, and Miller, a former player and assistant coach in Storrs, have significant UConn ties.

"Two home runs," coach Jim Calhoun said Friday by phone. "Two UConn-type guys. Two Jim Calhoun-type guys."
Now, of course, given the school's recent track record, having "two UConn-type guys" join the program may or may not be a good thing.

And it sure was nice of St. Jim to come out of hiding and give this move his imprimatur (in third person no less), wasn't it?

Friday, July 02, 2010

Christopher Hitchens


Fellow Boomer Christopher Hitchens has esophageal cancer, and, of course, the prognosis isn't good.

Hitchens is a maddeningly variegated writer who seems to know everything. To a certain extent, Hitchens is what I could have been. (Not that that's necessarily a good thing: pedant? check; atheist? check; alcoholic? check; smoker? check.) As David Brooks points out,
He makes a quick mention of Bob Dylan in his [latest] book, but by the first few pages of his memoir [Hitch-22], he has already cited his key sources: W.H. Auden, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot and so on—the literary paragons of an earlier time.
Indeed, as one who quotes the likes of Oscar Wilde and H.L. Mencken more than anyone I know, I can relate.

Hitchens can drive me crazy with his attacks on things modern, but his depth of knowledge certainly makes me look forward to his regular articles in the Atlantic Monthly. (An example from his oeuvre can be found here.)

Having had a very good friend succumb to this form of cancer twenty years ago ("We know he had a prolific consumption of alcohol and cigarettes and he had quit smoking, but it might be a little late."), I don't hold out much hope for Mr. Hitchens. On a purely selfish level, I'm sorry this is the case.