Thursday, October 28, 2004

Baseball: Wow.

Wow. I don't really have much to say about the Red Sox right now. It's hard to put into words, and I am far too frazzled to attempt it right now. I'm glad they went through the Bronx to win it all. The ALCS really was the high point of the post-season, and vanquishing the Yankees along the way really makes this sweet.

Oh, and I couldn't be happier for Derek Lowe... I like Lowe a lot, and he is the perfect embodiment of a maligned Boston player making up for past performances and proving the too-harsh Boston fans wrong.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Politics: Sullivan Make It Official

Andrew Sullivan makes it official. Today he endorses John Kerry for President in The New Republic.

Don't dismiss this as "Who care what that guy thinks." I have my problems with Sullivan, but he is a good writer. He is a Republican and he is conservative. That is exactly why his endorsement has meaning and wieght. Try as he might to stick by his man, George W. Bush, Sullivan has been forced to reevaluate. The President has not turned out to be the President he ran as, nor the man Sullivan endorsed in 2000.

His endorsement for Kerry is fraught with doubts about the candidate that I don't share, and he concedes too much success to Bush, but Sullivan's conclusion is correct. He approaches this Election in terms of "Risk Management." While not enthusiastic about Kerry, Sullivan weighs the risks/rewards of each candidate on an array of issues, and comes up Kerry nearly every time. Particularly, and most notably, on the War in Iraq and the War on Terror.

This endorsement is not a complete surprise. Sullivan has been disenchanted with the President for some time now, but I thought he'd simply refrain from offering an endorsement. Andrew Sullivan commands a vast audience online and in multiple magazines (often including the back page in TIME), so this endorsement, like the many newspapers who have switched from endorsing Bush in 2000 to his opponent in 2004, should be welcomed as the great news that they are.

Pass this along to anyone you know who isn't quite sure about bailing on Bush or can't quite bring themselves to vote for Kerry. Sullivan makes a compelling case.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Baseball: Papi Renovations for Fenway.

Twice in the World Series David Ortiz has hit balls down the line in Fenway Park that have sailed clear over the top of the foul pole. One fair for a home run and one ruled foul. Do the guy a favor and add another twenty feet to the top of that thing. He's going to be playing here a long time...

Friday, October 22, 2004

Politics: MVP

Jon Stewart is the Most Valuable Player in the media. And he's just joking around...

Watch this.

Politics: Bush Ads Kick Ass

Yup. You read that right. Bush's ads are good. Better than Kerry's. They are Grade A bullshit, but they are good.

Bush's ads are like actual, creative, clever major ads you see companies saving for the SuperBowl. Check out "Wolves," "Risk" or "Don't Take Chances." Yeah, they are fear-mongering and misleading (particularly the outright fabrications in the health care ad), but they are slick, powerful and, I imagine, thoroughly convincing to an uninformed viewer.

Kerry's ads are the same old political campaign ads we've been seeing for twenty years. In many cases, no better than your local candidate for State Senate.

What's my point? I don't know. Is this the Art Director in me frustrated at the lameness of my guy's ads? Yeah, mostly. Do I think it makes a difference? I don't know. Are any people dumb enough to believe Bush or his ads going to vote for him anyway? Probably.

At least our third-party ads kick ass on theirs. has some great ones in their 10 WEEKS campaign (esp. Weeks 3, 5, 7, and 9 -- the new Margaret Cho one sucks, bad timing), and's "Threats" is funny and clever, and "Permission" is moving. Good stuff.

Politics: Joke of the Day

What's the difference between Vietnam and Iraq?

Bush had a plan for getting out of Vietnam.

Baseball/Society: Get A Grip, People.

I'll give New york fans (Yankees and otherwise) credit for only one thing: They know how to celebrate a Championship with (no, not class, but) a degree of restraint and control. Maybe it's because they've won enough that's it's become routine, but I lived in Metro New York from 1986-2001 (the last six in Brooklyn) and during that span there were eight Championships (4 Yankees, 2 Giants, 1 Mets & 1 Rangers) and I don't remember any significant riots, destruction or trouble after any of them.

I read a story like this, and all I can think is a shifting, "What the fuck is the matter with people?"
Red Sox Fan Killed by Police Projectile
BOSTON (AP) - A college student celebrating the Red Sox come-from-behind victory over the New York Yankees was killed after a police officer called in to control the rowdy crowd shot her in the eye with what was designed to be a non-lethal projectile.

Victoria Snelgrove, a 21-year-old journalism major at Emerson College, was hit by a projectile fired by an officer on crowd-control duty. Snelgrove, of East Bridgewater, died of a head injury at Brigham and Women's Hospital later in the day.

My first reaction was, "What the fuck is with the Police, shooting people in the face with crowd control weapons?" Then I thought, "Okay, errant rubber bullet, a horrible accident." Then I read:
"Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole said officers were using projectiles "designed to break upon impact, dousing the target with (pepper-like) spray.''

"While I firmly and emphatically accept responsibilities for any errors,'' O'Toole said at a news conference Thursday, "I also condemn in the harshest words possible the actions of the punks (Wednesday) night who turned our city's victory into an opportunity for violence and mindless destruction."

First, that Commish sounds like she's got something to prove. When your Police just killed an unarmed female student, tone down the "punks" talk. Your Department screwed up, show some fucking contrition. I don't know the circumstances of the incident, stories have little or no details. But unloading on crowds with what sounds like pepper-spray paintballs is just overkill. And if it is a pepper-based weapon, am I wrong in assuming the face is the target? "What the fuck is the matter with the Police?"

But it really comes down to the fans. I just don't understand the mentality that results in the riots, fires and car-flipping that seems to be the response to winning a Championship. I could understand it more after losing, but winning? All I want to do (drunk or not) is jump up and down, run around hugging and high-fiving people. When the Pats won a trip to the SuperBowl in '97, I was there, and had no desire to run down and tear up the field or pull down the goalposts. I never run out from a bar or Superbowl party and start lighting cars on fire, and I don't understand why anyone would. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that Boston is going to burn when the Series is over -- win or lose. "What the fuck is the matter with these people?"

It sounds like the Police over-reacted in this situation, but they have to be prepared for total mayhem, so I'm sure they are twitching with a hair trigger. The Boston mayor is "considering prohibiting liquor sales and asking bar and restaurant operators to ban live television coverage during games to curb the rowdiness. Since people won't accept responsibility, I, as mayor, will take it into my own hands,'' Menino said Thursday. No alcohol or live games in bars? That's insane! there'll be a riot when he makes the announcement! But what the hell is he supposed to do?

People are fucking idiots. Sure, the Sox might win the first Championship in 86 years, or they might blow it in spectacular fashion. Either way you don't need to run outside throw anything through store windows, flip anything over or light anything on fire.

UPDATE: The only excuse for wanton destruction is the inability to get your computer to properly print a document for no apparent reason. If there were a car in my office right now, it would be upside down and engulfed in flames...

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Baseball: Yankees Post-Mortem

Batting Coach -- I'd like to personally thank Batting Coach Donnie "Shitcan" Mattingly for single-handedly ensuring that the entire Yankees lineup finished the season below .300. I'd like to nominate him to being the new "Curse for the Yankees" since they never won a playoff series while he was a player...and he is now taking his toll as a coach. I love to hate that guy.

Kharma Overdose -- Bucky F. Dent throwing out the first pitch. Hey, "Fuck You, Bucky!"... Mickey Mantle's birthday? "Have another one on me, Mick!"... Offering the Red Sox owners the "Babe Ruth box" to watch the games. No thanks, George.

Derek Jeter's career ALCS average is .268, not what one might expect, eh? That's not to say anything negative about Jeter, I just found that number surprisingly low, he must have saved the hits for big spots.

Brian Cashman -- How good is Cashman, really? Over the last four seasons: 2001 Lose Series to Arizona, 2002 Lose playoffs to Angels, 2003 Lose Series to Miami, 2004 Lose playoffs to Red Sox.

The start of the decline? You bet. And this team has not gotten younger in any sense of the word. Vasquez and A-Rod are the only guys on the right side of thirty (and they'll be 29 and 30 next season).

Now, obviously the Yanks won the Division each of those years, and were widely regarded as the Best Team in Baseball every one of those years, so some credit is due...but does it go to Cashman?

The original home-grown core of the team was already in place for him. Attracting free agents to a team with unlimited financial resources and four Championships isn't really a challenge, nor does it require any creativity. He simply opened the checkbook for the prominent free agent or mercenary player of the year.

The final results of the last four years I noted above make it likely he'll be available (because Steinbrenner's standards have become maniacal), but I'm not so sure Cashman's all he's cracked up to be.

Steinbrenner will make Beltran his new GM's number one target. I hope Beltran looks at this declining Yankee "dynasty" and says, "No thanks, Houston's been a blast, I'm staying here."

Housecleaning? -- Steinbrenner's likely to go ballistic. I don't know the contract status of anybody, but this team will look different next year. Will Torre be back? If not, Stottlemyre will go with him. The pitching staff (bullpen and starters) is ancient. The bench is worse. Nobody in the minors... Who do they bring in? Overpaying for Pedro? Beltran? A second baseman?

This team could turn into the 2004 Mariners, or better, the late '80s-early '90s overpaid, underachieving Steve Howe/Tartabull-era Yankees. That, I would love to see...

Baseball: Priceless? How 'bout Speechless

I can barely get my head around what has transpired. Simply amazing. I'll try and write something when my thoughts are coherent. Some stuff I've read today and over the last few days:

Great game diary here.

Sports Guy is flashing Pedro-in-'99-type stuff.

The Crank's got no dog in this fight, but still (as usual) worth checking out. Great comment in today's thread: "Fox needs to take a camera, put it in Steinbrenner's office this winter and make a reality TV show out of the ensuing mayhem.

The Clown can kiss my ass. What the hell is he going to write about now? Shaughnessy is probably rooting against the Sox in the WS so he can continue to ride his one-trick "Curse" pony.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Baseball: Call Me Mr. Delirious

Unbelievable. The Red Sox are actually making me forget about politics for whole evenings at a time! If the Red sox beat the Yankees in the most improbable comeback in sports history and win the World Series, George Bush could resurrect Hitler to replace Cheney and I wouldn't care if he was re-elected.

Just an incredible game last night. something is up this year. Things are happening that never happen for the Red Sox or happen to the Yankees: Line drives ripped down the line foul in huge spots -- for the Yankees... Controversial home runs in Yankee Stadium for the Red Sox!... Ridiculous rulebook plays you'll ever see again, ruled against the Yankees at home... All night long in Game Six (that's right, Game Six) the little things that always happen for the Yankees were happening for the Red Sox. Maybe the guy running around the Stadium dressed as the ghost of Babe Ruth actually pissed somebody off -- I don't know, but something turned.

[Continued in the comments, because I start to really ramble -- click below to read the rest]

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Polls: Dumbest Poll Headline? CNN.

On my homepage:
States Ranked: Smart to Dumb
The smartest state in the union is Massachusetts. Find out which state has landed in 50th place--for the third time in a row.

Hmm. I wonder. What's the criteria here? Where is Connecticut (where I grew up), New York (where I used to live) and Michigan (where I live now)? Let's see...
1. Massachusetts
2. Connecticut
3. Vermont
4. New Jersey
5. Wisconsin
6. New York
31. Michigan (yikes!)
50. New Mexico

But here's what the results are based on...
These are the findings of the Education State Rankings, a survey by Morgan Quitno Press of hundreds of public school systems in all 50 states. States were graded on a variety of factors based on how they compare to the national average. These included such positive attributes as per-pupil expenditures, public high school graduation rates, average class size, student reading and math proficiency, and pupil-teacher ratios. States received negative points for high drop-out rates and physical violence.

So this ranking isn't based on a state's actual population at large at all. This is pretty much a ranking of school systems, if anything, not a reflection of the smartest or dumbest states. and I'm not sure I trust it for an accurate ranking of schools either. I know small classes and more money generally mean good things for students, but is that a direct correlation to "smarter" and "dumber"?

Keep this garbage poll in mind the next time you see a poll trumpeting "Bush's 8-point lead" or "Kerry Closing Fast." These jackasses often don't know what they are talking about, and when they do, they skew the presentation to fit a predetermined storyline.

Baseball: Heart Attack

The Red Sox actually are trying to kill me. I know it. If not from cardiac arrest, from lack of sleep.

Tivo-ing a 5:00 game to watch at 10:00 doesn't always work out... Can Schilling possibly come back and throw a no-hitter tonite, just so I can go to bed at a decent hour?

Monday, October 18, 2004

Politics: Partisan Hackery, Part II

Tom Tomorrow takes up where Jon Stewart left off, and he nails it.

Politics: Fake News - 1, News That Still Thinks It's Real - 0

Jon Stewart just absolutely dismembers Tucker Carlson on 'Crossfire.' Stewart pretty much lambastes the media as a whole, but since it's Carlson who engages him, he bears the brunt of the attack.

I heard this on the otherwise-awful Randi Rhodes Show on Air America in the car, and went home hoping to find out if CNN repeats 'Crossfire.' Shockingly (especially for a show that aires live in the mid-afternoon when nobody is home) they don't. Not to worry it's all over the "internets" now. Streaming video here. Transcript here.

My favorite moment?
STEWART: It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.

CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?

STEWART: Absolutely.

CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...

STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets making crank phone calls. What is wrong with you?

(APPLAUSE) CARLSON: Well, I'm just saying, there's no reason for you -- when you have this marvelous opportunity not to be the guy's butt boy, to go ahead and be his butt boy. Come on. It's embarrassing.

STEWART: I was absolutely his butt boy. I was so far -- you would not believe what he ate two weeks ago.



STEWART: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

STEWART: You need to go to one.

The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just knee-jerk, reactionary talk...

CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be funny.

STEWART: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey.

And this was good, too:
CARLSON: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion.


STEWART: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.

He was brilliant. It is the best fifteen minutes of television I've seen in a long time.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Behind the Curtain

Mr and Baby Furious (aka Matt & Charlotte)

War: Utterly Inept

This time I actually am surprised. I mean, they can't be this incompetent, can they?
U.S. Orders Freeze on Zarqawi Network Assets
Fri Oct 15, 2004, 10:41 AM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday ordered a freeze on assets of the militant group led by Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, which has claimed responsibility for a series of bombings, kidnappings and beheadings in Iraq.

The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control added Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group to its list of suspected terrorists and terrorism financiers.

The move, which came a day after Britain ordered banks to seek out and freeze any assets of the group, blocks any accounts, funds and assets of Tawhid and Jihad in the United States.

Zarqawi's network has emerged as the United States' top enemy in Iraq, and has claimed responsibility for a long list of attacks including two suicide bombings in Baghdad on Thursday which killed at least five people including three Americans.

The group also beheaded British hostage Kenneth Bigley last week and Americans Eugene Armstrong and Jack Hensley last month.

The United States suspects Zarqawi and his group of links to al Qaeda and of conducting some of the deadliest attacks of the Iraqi insurgency.

That's right it says 2004, not 2002 at the top of the story. When I read something like this, I have to wonder how the hell anyone can think this Administration knows what the fuck they're doing in the War on Terror?!? They were linking Zarqawi to al Qaeda two years ago!!!! He was the guy running the camps in Northern Iraq that the Administration themselves said was making nerve gas, training terrorists, etc. and "we better invade right now...see?" *

This is the guy leading the insurgency in the country we are occupying, and we've known about him since before we set foot in Iraq. Now they get around to freezing his assets? This is the " enforcement...detail-oriented" stuff the Right likes to make fun of Kerry for. Our Incompetant in Chief will point ot this as "proof of our efforts to defeat these enemies" when it is, in fact, proof of his utter inability to execute this war in any capacity. If Bush is reelected, and his strategy is just more of this same level of rank incompetence, this War is doomed.

* I've been meaning to write about Zarqawi for a while now. Every time I read about him or see his face I can't help remembering that the Administration knew his location, knew he was running a camp, and claimed he was trying to make Ricin to use against Europeans. This was a situation perfectly tailored for a Tom Clancy-style Special Ops mission... Instead of pre-emptively striking an actual threat, they chose to leave him in place because it would bolster the case for the War. They claimed his presence in Iraq was proof that Saddam had links to al Qaeda, never mind that Zarqawi's activites were in the part of Iraq beyond his control. In fact, his camp was in an area patrolled by our planes. Politics won out over military strategy and basic logic, and he's been kicking our ass in Iraq ever since. Now we find out he's had the financial freedom to make that effort easier. Un-fucking-believable.

Politics: RNC Fraud, Part II

I talked about Nevada and Oregon below, but you may (or not) recall that earlier this week in South Dakota, several Republicans were forced to resign positions in the Party for questionable handling of absentee ballot registrations [via kos].
Larry Russell, 3 others move to Ohio campaign

South Dakota campaign official who resigned after questions arose over absentee-ballot applications will work in Ohio for the Bush-Cheney campaign, an internal Republican Party memo indicates.

Larry Russell, who was chairman of the South Dakota Republican Party's get-out-the-vote operation, resigned this week after questions were raised about the validity of some of the 1,400 absentee-ballot applications gathered, largely on college campuses, by the program Russell led.

[...] When South Dakota Republican Party Chairman Randy Frederick announced the resignations of Russell and five others Monday evening, he said the state party has a "zero-tolerance policy."

But an internal Republican Party memo obtained by the Argus Leader said Russell would be going to Cleveland "to lead the ground operations" for President Bush and Vice President Cheney there.

Ohio is a swing state considered vital to a successful presidential victory.

"Zero tolerance policy" for fraud? Bullshit. Sounds more like the Party merely wants to put these unscrupulous crooks to better use in a swing state. Forced to resign over accusations of fraud? The GOP rewards you with a promotion from South Dakota to run the Bush/Cheney campaign in the biggest city in the key swing state.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Politics: RNC-sponsored Voter Fraud

In Nevada:
Voter Registrations Possibly Trashed
George Knapp, Investigative Reporter
 (Oct. 12) -- Employees of a private voter registration company allege that hundreds, perhaps thousands of voters who may think they are registered will be rudely surprised on election day. The company claims hundreds of registration forms were thrown in the trash.

Anyone who has recently registered or re-registered to vote outside a mall or grocery store or even government building may be affected.

[...] Two former workers say they personally witnessed company supervisors rip up and trash registration forms signed by Democrats.

"We caught her taking Democrats out of my pile, handed them to her assistant and he ripped them up right in front of us. I grabbed some of them out of the garbage and she tells her assistant to get those from me," said Eric Russell, former Voters Outreach employee.

Eric Russell managed to retrieve a pile of shredded paperwork including signed voter registration forms, all from Democrats. We took them to the Clark County Election Department and confirmed that they had not, in fact, been filed with the county as required by law.

[...] The company has been largely, if not entirely funded, by the Republican National Committee. Similar complaints have been received in Reno where the registrar has asked the FBI to investigate. 

In Oregon:
Company claiming affiliation with the non-partisan ‘America Votes’ group appears to represent the GOP
Mail Tribune

A local librarian checking on a company’s request to set up a voter registration booth in the library discovered the company was not affiliated with a non-partisan national group as it claimed.

Sproul & Associates, Inc. of Phoenix, Ariz., phoned and mailed the library in September, saying it had been hired by America Votes.

That came as news to America Votes.

"This organization (Sproul) absolutely has nothing to do with America Votes," said Kevin Looper, the state organizing director for America Votes.

[...] But the man behind the matter says it was an innocent mistake.

"We were not trying to copy their name," said Nathan Sproul, owner of the consulting and management company. "All we were trying to do is register people to vote."

In September, the Jackson County Library Services Central Library received a letter from Sproul & Associates, Inc. which began:

"Our firm has been contracted to help coordinate a national non-partisan voter registration drive, America Votes! in several states across the nation."

[...] Sproul & Associates, Inc. is a political consulting firm headed up by former Arizona state Republican Party executive director Nathan Sproul.

[...] She said she learned on the Internet that Sproul & Associates is actually a partisan political consulting firm, so the library cannot support them.

The toll-free number which librarians were given connects to an answering machine stating that if the caller is interested in canvassing neighborhoods in support of the GOP, he or she should leave a message with contact information.

Sproul said Monday the name selection was an honest mistake.

"You telling me that they even exist was really the first time I’d heard it," said Sproul. He said his company, hired by a number of clients to register voters, came up with what he believed was a generic name. He said he had not heard from the original America Votes.

Sproul said his company was just trying to get more people registered to vote and were not promoting any issue, candidate or party.

Can you believe the balls on these guys? This is organized fraud on a national scale. And this Sproul guy lying his ass off that he never heard of America Votes! is total shit. Even if I were willing to believe it, (which I'm not) they failed to exercise due diligence when forming their organization. And they still fraudulently claimed to be non-partisan!

So, let's get this straight... this is the former head of the Arizona Republican Party running a partisan consulting firm directly funded by the Republican National Committee, going around to swing states pretending to represent a non-partisan registration organization so that they can register voters in public buildings, that's bad enough and illegal. But--they're only turning in the Republican forms and destroying any Democratic registrations!!

Oh, this is also the same group that gathered questionable signatures for Nader. Why am I not fucking surprised?

It's too bad 60 Minutes' credibility is in the toilet, because this is a big story and deserves wide exposure. The RNC needs to pay some serious consequences for this, and I don't mean $75 per violation as Oregon law states--the RNC will happily write that check--I'm talking RICO charges, jailtime and permanent bans on these fucking crooks from ever being near the political process again. Ed Gillespie ought to be frying for this.

Kerry better start running away with this election, because if it's close at all, the Republicans are poised to steal the Presidency again.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Politics: Absolutely Unbelievable.

This Administration is so incompetant executing this War, they don't even know how to hide it -- or that they should:
Attacks on Iraq's rebel-held cities will be delayed, officials say. But that could make it harder to allow wider, and more legitimate, Iraqi voting in January.

By Mark Mazzetti, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The Bush administration plans to delay major assaults on rebel-held cities in Iraq until after U.S. elections in November, say administration officials, mindful that large-scale military offensives could affect the U.S. presidential race.

Although American commanders in Iraq have been buoyed by recent successes in insurgent-held towns such as Samarra and Tall Afar, administration and Pentagon officials say they will not try to retake cities such as Fallouja and Ramadi — where the insurgents' grip is strongest and U.S. military casualties could be the highest — until after Americans vote in what is likely to be an extremely close election.

 "When this election's over, you'll see us move very vigorously," said one senior administration official involved in strategic planning, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Once you're past the election, it changes the political ramifications" of a large-scale offensive, the official said. "We're not on hold right now. We're just not as aggressive."

What's worse? That they brazenly execute the War based on political priorities and get away with it, or that they just gave the insurgents a one-month "heads-up"?

Kerry's gotta stop wasting time explaining what his position was two and three years ago, and whether we should have gone into Iraq, etc., and steer the discussion to a searing indictment of the absolutlely incompetent job the President is doing in the War right now. I'm not saying Kerry's going in choosing the terms of the debate, but by not effectively changing the discussion, he's to blame. The only debate left is supposed to be "all domestic", so he may have missed his best opportunity to really confront the President and address this issue on a grand scale. It's the pitch he keeps whiffing on, and he should be belting it over the fence.

Blogs: The Rude Pundit

Anytime you think I'm a bit too colorful in my language, go check out The Rude Pundit. Be warned. The Rude One employs the kind of language that got cut out to get a Tarantino flick down to an "R", but damn, he's funny and he's right.

Baseball: R.I.P. Cammy

Ken Caminiti has died of a heart attack at age 41. A shame indeed. Caminiti was one of my favorite players. As a tribute, I'll have to dig out the old Padres Caminiti jersey I bought during his MVP season.

Unfortunately he's now remembered primarally for admitting to using steroids and his battles with alcohol and drug addiction. Because of this, the Cammy jersey has been buried deep in the closet for some time now. Plenty of ribbing when you show up for softball wearing that shirt.

A three-time Gold-Glover, Caminiti made some of the best third base highlight plays we'll ever see. Headlong dives into dugouts and stands, gunning guys out at first from the seat of his pants... It was his reckless abandon at third that made him one of my favorite players. In 1996, he seemed to put it all together to have a truly dominant season. That year Baseball Tonight was like his personal highlight show. He made spectaular plays at third, countless clutch hits and home runs. I'll always remember the story of the Snickers bar and IV during the games in Mexico versus the Mets. He was the very definition of Most Valuable Player and was selected unanimously at season's end.

We've since learned, through his courageous admission, that was the first year his shoulder pain forced him to try steroids, and his downward spiral began. His demise will hopefully serve as a warning to athletes about the hazards of steroid use, and non-athletes about the dangers of drugs.

Ken Caminiti was a true warrior, the biggest shame is that he was so competitive as to destroy his own body and life in the process.

I'll miss you Cammy. And I'll wear the shirt with pride.

Politics: Energy Policy Anyone? Bueller?

Gregg Easterbrook does a nice job analyzing what should be a much more prominant issue in this campaign. Energy Policy. What can a President hope to achieve? What are the two plans? What's realistic in an energy policy?

It turns out one candidate has a pretty good, scientifically sound, realistic and beneficial plan that will quickly pay dividends in consumption, pollution and national security. Hint: It's got nothing to do with invading other countries or drilling in the Grand Canyon...

[Note: To read the article you'll have to register for The New Republic's free content]

UPDATE: So, it spoils my fake suspense from above, but the subhead on the TNR table of contents is too good to let pass:

Turn On by Gregg Easterbrook
The best reason to vote for John Kerry? He might be the first president in decades with a real energy policy.

He's right, this is another reason why Kerry's got to quit fighting on the President's terms and territory. I know Iraq and the War are important, but where Kerry really distiguishes himself is in areas like this. Hopefully the final "all-domestic" debate will allow for this.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Politics: Bush Goes Out On a Limb: Denounces Slavery...or did he?

One of the more bizarre moments in the debate the other night was when Bush surprised us all by coming out against... slavery!?! When asked about who he would appoint to the Supreme Court, Bush goes off on Dred Scott? What the fuck? I had no idea where he was going with that, but now I learn there's a very specific reason he brought it up. It's very clear code for the pro-life community that he intends to overturn Roe v Wade. Of course he's too chicken to scare swing voters by saying that, but he can wink at his base by leaving the rest of us wondering why the hell he's talking about slavery.

UPDATE: An excellent breakdown and discussion thread on this "Dred Scott = Roe v. Wade" codespeak here.

More needs to be said about the ramifications on the Supreme Court from this election. The next President might be appointing anywhere from one to three Justices to lifetime appointments on the Supreme Court and this is rarely given any prominence. This and the environment are the two areas where Bush will do his most severe and lasting damage to this country and those two issues are practically off the table, which is exactly where Bush wants them. Kerry needs to get on this. If Bush wins, he could pack the Court with three new wingnuts, and make Thomas or Scalia Chief Justice -- moves that will screw this country many times over for the next thirty years. More on this here, here and here, and a pretty good breakdown of potential nominees here.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Politics: Debate review

Will Saletan at Slate takes serious issue with Kerry's performance Friday night ("Strikeout: Kerry blows the second debate" -- link)

I agree with a lot of what he points out, but Saletan goes a little too hard on Kerry. He made mistakes and missed opportunities, but I don't think he did himself (or sustained) any damage -- I prefer to think of the missed opportunities as "Kerry still won, looked credible and convincing, but missed the chance to kick the complete shit out of Bush on a national stage." Which would have been nice... I guess when I look at it that way, it is pretty disappointing. Sigh...

Reminds me of the old SNL debate skit where Dukakis/Lovitz looks at the camera and deadpans "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy."

Friday, October 08, 2004

Politics: She's becoming a must-read

Tina Brown has a nice breakdown of the VP Debate, and Cheney's performance in particular. This is the second nice column* she's had in The Post of late. I don't always agree with her 100%, but it's nice to read something so entertainingly well-written as well as substantitive.
Dick Cheney's bullet head and nuanced basso anchored his thoughts to his words and filled out the frame of the screen, while beside him Edwards bobbed like a tethered balloon...The Cheney team was smart to decree the VP debate had to happen from plush swivel chairs. The veep always operates from a rumbling crouch, but Edwards is not a guy who does well at sitting still.

Money quote at the end:
Cheney doesn't pass hot potatoes. He eats them, with plenty of sour cream.

* The other column nailed the whole Rather/memo fiasco better than anything else I read or heard.

Politics: His transformation is now nearly complete...

Andrew Sullivan makes the case.
THE UNDERLYING FACT: [...] The fundamental question in this campaign is the war in Iraq. Was it worth starting? Has it been conducted well? Will it make us safer? My answers to those three questions are, briefly, yes, no, and, it depends. But from a broader perspective, the following facts are simply indisputable. The fundamental rationale for the war - the threat from Saddam's existing stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction - was wrong. Period. In the conduct of the war, it is equally indisputable that the administration simply didn't anticipate the insurgency we now face, and because of that, is struggling to rescue the effort from becoming a dangerous mess. Period. So the question becomes: how can an administration be re-elected after so patently misjudging the two most important aspects of the central issue in front of us? It may end up as simple as that. Maybe, in fact, it should end up as simple as that.

He's making the case on a dialy basis, I expect he'll be making his Kerry endorsement (for what it's worth) any time now.

Speaking of Kerry...why can't he state the case this clearly? This is a compelling enough argument for all but the most die-hard Bush/war supporters.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Politics: What was Bush writing down during the debate?

The notes Bush was taking during the debate.

UPDATE: Additional copies have been unearthed.

Politics: Dissection

Digby holds the curtain open...
On Thursday night sixty-one million people watched George W. Bush for the first time since 9/11 not as that symbol, but as a man. And for those who had not reassessed their belief in his personal leadership since 9/11, it was quite a shock. Their strong leader was inarticulate, arrogant, confused and immature. They must be wondering who that man was.

[...] He actively promotes the notion that he is a man of action yet in the single most important moment of his life he froze in front of school kids, continuing on with a script prepared before the national psyche was blown to bits. He didn’t take charge. He didn’t react. He was paralyzed at the moment of the nation’s worst peril.

Read the whole thing. It feels good, and it's chock full of devastating links.

Politics: Quote of the Day

"No matter how you feel about Bush, watching him speak is difficult. It’s like watching a drunk man cross an icy street," - Tucker Carlson, on Real Time with Bill Maher.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Politics: The Presidential 2000

Channel-surfing on a Saturday night, and I come across the Bush/Gore Town Hall Debate from 2000 on CSPAN (yeah, I'm pathetic). Watching it again now, four years removed, a few things jumped out at me:

1. These debates were contentious. We've only seen the first one this year, and this was the final debate from 2000, but Bush and Gore went after each other constantly. Sniping back and forth. Most of it would start with a bullshit charge from Bush, many outright lies, and Gore was clearly agitated. He would chastise Bush when it was his turn, and showed his displeasure when it wasn't. We all know now how this would come back to haunt him.

2. Gore -- Al Gore might have been the most well-prepared, intelligent guy to ever run for President. The thoroughness of his answers, the expertise he seemed to offer on every answer from farming to non-proliferation, to renewable energy, was nothing short of amazing. I still believe that he would have been a tremendous President. He was just that good--virtually a Presidential machine, a robot programmed to perfectly perform the job. I remember in 2000 knowing his resume, and sitting there being impressed with his ratttling off figures and terminology, knowing he was kicking Bush's ass and walking away with the race. But he wasn't programmed to become the President.

Gore really did lack an ability to "connect" with the audience. He was too perfect. In posture. Pronunciation. In a funny way, he he really did "know it all," and it's hard to fault him for that, but his style really wasn't good. He wasn't "robotic" in charisma, but rather, he was something worse. He was kind of off-putting, and at times even kind of a jerk. He must of been at his wit's end with Bush lying about him and issues on the stump and in the debate, because he was really kind of a dick about it at somem moments. He didn't quite make Bush sympathetic, but he often left those exchanges looking like the jerk, not Bush. I can see how it hurt him. It would never have influenced my choice, my mind was already made up, but I can see how an undecided voter in a non-incumbant election might have gone for the "other guy", even if it was George W. Bush. In fact, perhaps because it was George W. Bush.

The good news: John Kerry, for all his flaws, is not Al Gore. I think he'll be much better attacking Bush and not looking like the jerk at the same time. Kerry may have seemed like a stiff and not the best campaigner at times, but he is more smooth than Gore.

3. Bush -- It may be 20/20 hindsight, but I can see how he won. Up against Gore, he was perhaps the perfect opponent. Truly the anti-Gore. And since most people knew little about him, he wasn't too scary to take a chance on. He lied his ass off, spoke in broad, simple strokes, and hit all the right notes, plus offered voters the nice bribe of free money. In the coin flip election of 2000, it was a winning formula. Since the media wasn't going to call him on it, and Gore looked like a baby trying to do it by himself, Bush got away with it.

The good news? This isn't 2000. Kerry is challenging the incumbent Bush. Bush has a record everyone is familiar with now. He is no longer an unknown quantity. Also, I think his honeymoon with the media is ending. He was pretty widely panned after the first debate, not declared winner for simply not soiling his diaper. Exhibit A:The picture on the front of yesterday's USA Today shows the pre-debate handshake, and they choose one with a Presidential Kerry towering over a particularly pinheaded, awkward faced Bush.

But the best news is this: The George W. Bush of 2004 looks like he's undergone four years of shock treatment compared to the guy I'm watching from 2000. It's astounding how much Bush has lost off his fastball. 2000's Governor Bush is answering a question on education for two minutes off-the-cuff and in a conversational, appealiing way that I really don't think he's capable of anymore. Perhaps he's just that much better in the Town Hall format, but I don't think so. He hasn't looked this good in a while, and I don't know if they can massage it out of him again in time.

4. What Is and What Might Have Been -- During the debate, each candidate had an eerie moment of precognition... Both in response to the same question. Here's Bush's:
MEMBER OF AUDIENCE: What would make you the best candidate in office during the Middle East crisis? [Now remember, this is a Israel question. There is no other Mideast crisis in 2000.]

BUSH: I've been a leader. [huh?] I've been a person who has to set a clear vision and convince people to follow. I've got a strategy for the Middle East. [blah, blah...] A leader also understands that the United States must be strong to keep the peace. Saddam Hussein still is a threat in the Middle East. Our coalition against Saddam is unraveling. Sanctions are loosened. The man who may be developing weapons of mass destruction, we don't know because inspectors aren't in....

Don't forget, this is in the year 2000!!! And we are supposed to beleive this wasn't something thay had planned all along? It only came up after 9/11? This was before the election! It slipped right by, because who the hell cared about Saddam Hussein back then? Cheney & Co. tipped their hand early... And Gore's precog moment:
In the Congress, in the House of Representatives, I served on the House Intelligence Committee and I worked hard to learn the subject of nuclear arms control and how we can diffuse these tensions and deal with non-proliferation and deal with the problems of terrorism and these new weapons of mass destruction. Look, we're gonna face some serious new challenges in the next four years...

Too bad he wasn't the President. He likely would have read a report titled "Bin Laden Determined To Strike in US." with a bit more gusto. Geez, he probably would have written it.

Follow-Up -- As I typed this, the VP Debate came on, and Lieberman sure as hell didn't do Gore any favors. God he is awful. Cheney's practically upbeat next to him... A terrible choice.

It's often easy to just dismiss Bush as an idiot, and kind of wonder how the hell anybody voted for the guy. Watching this old debate has given me a little better feel for how Bush got the election close enough to steal. An it leaves me feeling a little bit better about our chances this time.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Politics: More Debate...

Towards the end of the debate, Lehrer asked the candidates about "the single most serious threat to the national security to the United States."

Kerry answered first and unhesitantly replied "Nuclear proliferation." and then went into a detailed explanation about, and plan for dealing with, the loose nukes problem. Bush agreed, but then insisted on tacking on "in the hands of a terrorist" on. Then, after they'd each had their say...

LEHRER: Just for this one-minute discussion here, just for whatever seconds it takes: So it's correct to say, that if somebody is listening to this, that both of you agree, if you're reelected, Mr. President, and if you are elected [Sen. Kerry], the single most serious threat you believe, both of you believe, is nuclear proliferation?

BUSH: In the hands of a terrorist enemy.

KERRY: Weapons of mass destruction, nuclear proliferation.

Bush's needless (in this case) fixation with the terrorist label is laughable. It's obviously implied in this instance, so harping on it is unnecessary, but it also betrays the folly of his Missle Defense fiasco.

If "weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists" is the threat, what the hell is the missle shield for? Is Bush actually worried about Osama building his own ICBM with his purloined nuclear material? Or is a dirty bomb / shipping container a more realistic threat. Because he's doing jack shit about that. (Though I should confess the Missle Defense System will be every bit as effective intercepting suitcase bombs as incoming missles...)

This man is an idiot, and his plans for Homeland Security are a joke. Bring it home, Big John.

Politics: He Didn't Waste Any Time

Anyone else notice that the very first words (not counting his greeting) out of Bush's mouth were, "September the 11th..."

Politics: Afterglow

Do you think there are a few less "undecided voters" out there today? I do.

The debate was a pleasant surprise in many ways: There was a lot more engagement between candidates than I thought the format would allow (good for Kerry, bad for Bush), Fox actually employed a split screen for an astounding amount of time (okay for Kerry, awful for Bush), and Lehrer did a good job as moderator. I was worried Kerry would be long-winded or less-than-clear (he wasn't) and I was worried about him competing with the more charismatic Bush (Bush wasn't).

Most importantly, however, I was worried about the post-debate. What would the polls say, and even more importantly how would the analysis go? Well, the two polls I saw (ABC and CBS) showed Kerry clearly the winner, and the pundits seemed to echo that (unlike Gore/Bush in 2000).

I think Kerry missed some opportunities, and actually took it too easy on Bush on occasion, but it didn't matter. He won handily without getting to aggressive, and Bush just looked overmatched.