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Sunday, November 30, 2003

Dean Photos

Drudge asks: "Righteous anger or rage?" How about selective choosing of pictures?

Saturday, November 29, 2003

Disturbing Shopping Stories

The news stories about people getting into fights as they tried to get into sales early yesterday morning have been kinda scary. It's only retail merchandise, people, please keep your cool. Here's a link via Drudge that is typical of some stuff I've been seeing:

A 41-year-old woman was knocked unconscious and then trampled by a mob of shoppers who continued to step over her as she suffered a seizure during a Friday sale at Wal-Mart in Orange City, Fla., according to Local 6 News.

Authorities said that Patricia Van Lester arrived at Wal-Mart at 3 a.m. for an early sale on a DVD player for her mother. When the store's doors opened at 6 a.m., Van Lester grabbed the DVD player but was quickly overcome by hundreds of shoppers rushing into the store.

On a positive note, maybe a strong shopping season for retailers can help boost the economy!

Kristof Names the War

Nick Kristof takes a lesson from Slate and constructs his column today from email responses trying to give a name to the Iraq war (working hard this holiday weekend, I see):

The five winners, each of whom gets a 250-dinar note left over from my last Iraq trip, are: Brad Corsello of New York for "Dubya Dubya III"; Richard Sanders for "Rolling Blunder"; John Fell of California for "Desert Slog," Will Hutchinson of Vermont for "Mess in Potamia"; and Willard Oriol of New York for "Blood, Baath and Beyond."

Webhead Sox Fans Help Bag Schilling

The Globe is full of Schilling coverage this morning, including this nugget:

In an unusual twist, the Sox indirectly received a last-minute boost during the stalemate when Schilling communicated from about 2 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. with Boston fans in Internet chat rooms. He said he was "blown over" by the passion he sensed and cited the experience as part of the allure in joining the Sox.

It looks like the Hartford Courant has an article on the Internet angle, but their free online registration isn't working for me, so screw them. Sox GM Theo Epstein said in the press conference last night that one of the sites Schilling visited was Sons of Sam Horn, a reference to the mediocre slugger who played when I was a little kid and is now a part-time TV analyst. I figured the site would have the Schilling discussion out front on their main page, but instead I've been poking around looking for it.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Chinese Basketball

I read Peter Hessler's article about Yao Ming (not online) in the New Yorker and came across this lovely passage about basketball fans in Chongqing, an interior province:

If a player shoots an air ball, the fans shout "yangwei"; in the Sichuan dialect, it means "impotent." To encourage the home team, they chant "xiongqi" ("erection").

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Pro Picks, Week 13: Post-Thanksgiving Fun

Football makes me as happy as a turkey lucky enough to be alive on the day after Thanksgiving. As I continue to fight my gravy-induced stupor this morning and to try to shake off an 0-2 Turkey Day, I offer the following week 13 predictions, which, as always, are for recreational purposes only.

New England at Indianapolis

Boston is abuzz over this meeting of 9-2 teams with major playoff implications. But enough about that, let's recall Peyton Manning's appearance in the Gatorade ad that asks "What Drives You?" Peyton gives his response, "to be my own Manning," a punny reference to his lineage of athletic prowess (his elbow is OK, by the way). My preferred response in the commercial is that of female soccer star Mia Hamm-Garciaparra, who avows to be driven by "millions of little girls." Funny thing is that's what motivates me to work out too.

Pick: Colts

Philadelphia at Carolina

Another great matchup of division leaders fighting for home field in the postseason. But enough about that, let's recall that Carolina has a kick returner by the name of Rod Smart, who went by the nickname "He Hate Me" as an XFL player a few years back. Smart is the subject of Kenny Mayne's "Mayne Event" this week on ESPN, a weekly feature that attempts to satirize something about players. Kenny Mayne used to be very funny ad-libbing highlights on Sportscenter, though now his Mayne Event pieces are too forced and not laugh-inducing at all. They are a pale imitation of the Jimmy Kimmel/Frank Caliendo humor bits on Fox NFL Sunday. On the other hand, giving yourself a nonsensical nickname like "He Hate Me" and having people actually call you by it, that is comedic genius. Hopefully Smart, who fumbled a kickoff last week leading to a Dallas score, can stick around in the league.

Pick: Eagles

Buffalo at NY Giants

I think the debate over whether the Patriots should have kept Brady or Bledsoe is officially over now. By taking an intentional safety on Monday night (no, Jim Fassel, you're not Bill Belichick), the Giants went from covering to not covering the spread late in the game, sparking anguished howls across the land.

Pick: Giants

San Francisco at Baltimore

OK, how in the hell was the Seattle-Baltimore game last week 44-41? I watched the Ravens the previous week lose 9-6 in OT, and their bad offense and good defense both made it impossible for many points to be scored either way. I feel like I need to see a tape of this one. Meanwhile, the Niners continued to lose on the road with a defeat at Green Bay last week. Going against Anthony "Marino" Wright shouldn't help.

Pick: Ravens

Minnesota at St. Louis

More division leaders going head-to-head. Rams are undefeated at home, so go with them. The danger for St. Louis is Mark Bulger's interceptions and the good hands of the Vikings secondary. That was straight analysis, by the way.

Pick: Rams

Other Games

Cincinnati over Pittsburgh, Houston over Atlanta, Chicago over Arizona, New Orleans over Washington, Oakland over Denver, Kansas City over San Diego, Seattle over Cleveland, Tampa Bay over Jacksonville, Tennessee over NY Jets

Last week: 12-4
Season Record: 109-67

Wednesday, November 26, 2003


I forgot to mention the Lakers-Spurs playoff rematch game Friday night on ESPN (I know I shill [Schill?] for the network a lot). Here's a helpful guide to the TV sports weekend.

Thanksgiving Sports Post

Time to eat a lot and watch sports on television--Thanksgiving weekend! This post will serve as my NFL picks column for the Thanksgiving Day games as well as the viewing guide to the rest of the games over the holiday break.

But first, a few words on the big sports stories of the week. Pops points to Page 2's sports turkeys of the year. The New Yorker also has a long article this week on Yao Ming. Online they just have this Q&A with the author.

The big hoops news this week is that Alonzo Mourning has been forced to retire from the NBA because of his kidney problems. Two quick thoughts on people who look bad here: 1) Kenyon Martin, who made a barbed remark about Zo's condition in practice last week, leading to an altercation and 2) Nets management, for signing Mourning to a guaranteed deal over four years worth over $20 million. I know, Dallas would have gotten him otherwise, and they'll get some financial relief from the league once Mourning retires officially, but it's still a very risky judgment they made. The Nets should be fine with Jason Collins and Aaron Williams at center--Alonzo wasn't playing much off the bench anyway. He was always an excellent competitor, though, who demonstrated his determination in his comeback effort, and I'll miss watching him compete.

The Curt Schilling story is huge in Boston right now, as you could probably guess. The Sox brass is out in Arizona now, trying to work out an extension in advance of the Friday deadline by which Schilling must agree to waive his no-trade clause in order for the deal to go through. Hopefully Schilling will realize the opportunity to do something special in Boston is real, whereas holding out for a Yankee trade would make him just another of the guys brought in to win yet another championship. Think about it, Schill! You want to come to Boston, yes you do.

The college football is pretty weak this weekend. Arkansas-LSU Friday at 2:30 is the only contest with direct national championship implications, and the Tigers could be tested again on the road, as they were last week when they escaped from Ole Miss. The Friday ABC doubleheader of Nebraska-Colorado and Texas-Texas A&M lacks excitement, other than the fact that the Longhorns will likely get a BCS bowl bid with a win. Frank Solich on the coaching hot seat doesn't make for thrilling TV, unfortunately.

Saturday night ABC has Pitt-Miami in a game that will decide who wins the Big East and gets the conference BCS bid. If the Canes offense keeps stumbling, Larry Fitzgerald and the Panthers will win at home. Brock Berlin is going to start for Miami at QB, despite having his difficulties this year. Georgia-Georgia Tech, Tennessee-Kentucky and Florida-Florida State will decide who represents the SEC East in the conference championship game.

College basketball may be a better TV bet over the turkey holiday, as we get to see some top-rated teams tested for the first time. Number one UConn plays at MSG in the preseason NIT tomorrow night and Friday. Also Friday Springfield hosts the Arizona-Florida tilt in the Hall of Fame game. The ESPN folks have all the coverage.

Moving on to the NFL, we have the traditional Thanksgiving games at Detroit and Dallas on Thursday. This arrangement is the pro sports equivalent of always having the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary first in an election year. It's unfair to the other teams to have a short week and go on the road, while the Cowboys and Lions get to play host every season.

While I'm on the topic of dumb NFL rules, how about the league investigation into Dick Vermeil promising a bottle of wine to Morten Andersen if the kicker made a game-winning field goal Sunday? It wasn't as serious attack on the integrity of the game, for Christmas sake. The league has bigger fish to fry, like the officiating error that cost Seattle the game in Baltimore Sunday, right? Speaking of that game, rough day for the Hasselbeck brothers, huh? Matt throws five TDs and loses, while Tim, relieving Patrick Ramsey for the Redskins in Miami, plays well only to lose to a fourth-quarter Dolphins comeback.

I'll preserve the rest of the football fodder for a full pro picks column to be written in a few days time. For now, the following two picks are for recreational purposes only.

Green Bay at Detroit

Lions management is the real turkey here.

Pick: Packers

Miami at Dallas

This is the ten-year anniversary of the game when Leon Lett stupidly touched a blocked field goal, not realizing it was a live ball and eventually costing his team the game. I am very much looking forward to the replays on the telecast. Here's the Dallas Morning News. I wonder what Parcells would do to a guy who made that kind of an error on his team?

Pick: Cowboys

[Full record disclosure coming in next pro picks installment on Thurs/Fri]

Dimmy Defends Kerry

Just to prove I'm fair and balanced, I'll note my disagreement with Kaus, who makes a big deal out of Kerry missing the vote on Medicare. The vote was a foregone conclusion, so Kerry was off campaigning. If the thing had been in any doubt, he and Lieberman would've been there to vote against the bill.

For the record, I agree with the blogging chorus (including Kaus) that Kerry made a fool of himself in the debate by harping on the "slowing the rate of growth of Medicare" issue and for claiming that when the drug companies win senior must lose. Such criticism is too easy, though, so I'll leave things at that. After all, Bob Shrum is going on vacation in France, a not-so-subtle indication he thinks the candidate he's working for has no shot.

James Yee Charged...

...with having porn on his computer and committing adultery. Remeber this guy, the Guantanamo Muslim chaplain suspected of espionage? The military has had him staying in a little cell in South Carolina for 23 hours a day for a good while now, and this is what they charge him with? If we charge everyone who commits adultery or looks at porn, we'll have a damn busy legal system. On the bright side, at least Yee had the good luck to be charged with something, rather than being detained indefinitely like the men whose spiritual needs he was serving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

NYT Gay Marriage Article

"The response by gay couples to last week's ruling by Massachusetts' highest court that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry has been hardly monolithic," claims the story summary below the headline "Gays Respond: 'I Do,' 'I Might' and 'I Won't'" on the New York Times front page. I read the thing because I thought it was saying that some gays opposed the right of homosexuals to get married, which sounded like it didn't make sense.

It turns out that the non-monolithic response cited was that some couples do not plan on marrying even if the right to do so is upheld. Besides the issue of the article appearing misleading, I wonder whether this is good or bad news for the PR campaign to try to convince opponents that the sky won't fall if same-sex marriages become legal. Will the conservatives say the right to marry shouldn't be granted because so few people may be inclined to take advantage of it? Or will they be calmed by the small numbers? Though the article doesn't cover the issue in these terms, all of the gays interviewed must at least be in favor of having the right to marry if they so choose--or are some of them so blinded by the perceived insult of being at last permitted to "ape a heterosexual institution" (or whatever the complaint is)?

Good Reading

Brian Anderson responds at TCS to discussion of his City Journal article by Tim Noah and Jonah Goldberg.

TMQ Back for Good (?)

The Sports Frog reports that Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback will now be living over at NFL.com with a new installment to be posted at noon today (a few minutes from now). This makes me wonder how his snarky insults directed at players and coaches will go over, seeing as they're now going to be posted at the official league site. I hope they don't water him down.

UPDATE: The column.

Debate Transcript

Here it is, in all its non-glory. I really thought Tom Brokaw was terrible. He made some negative insinuations about certain candidates (Dean, Sharpton) while giving others a series of softballs (Clark). Some of the questions were just foolish too. My favorite had to be when he asked Carol Moseley Braun which one of the other Democrats running she would choose to be her secretary of state. There are about 1,964,323,453 better questions to ask than that.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Kerry in Trouble

For fun, let's pretend that what Drudge reports is true:

On the eve of a Tom-Brokaw moderated Democratic Presidential Debate, Senior Kerry advisers recklessly strategized over refreshments at the Hotel Fort Des Moines -- believing they were out of earshot to anyone who would care!

But as the caucus nears even stripped Iowa cornstalks have ears...

The campaign advisers spoke frankly at the hotel's bar on Sunday night about the state of the White House race and their frustrations of living in the shadow of Howard Dean.

All of Dean's money is coming from Republicans, one member of Kerry's kitchen cabinet told the group. Another adviser asked if that had been researched. No one had an answer.

The staff said Kerry should -- and will -- use a motorcycle for campaigning more often...

The advisers discussed how Kerry should stop trying to defend his Iraq vote and develop how Kerry's the real anti-war protester, not Dean.

The staffers talked about doing an ad where they would contrast Kerry's anti-war activism with Dean as a draft-dodging ski bum. The ad would feature vault clips of Kerry speaking at anti-war rallies and testifying on Capitol Hill vs. Dean statements on how he could have served in the military, but decided not to.

The Kerry staffers talked about the possibility of doing a documentary on the campaign, like the one Spike Jonze did with Gore. One frustrated operative said it would help with Kerry's "aloof" image problem.

The advisers carelessly talked about how thick Kerry's accent used to be.

Kerry did the thick accent when cameras were around to sound like JFK, laughed one senior staffer.

Back in the real world, you probably know by now that both the Boston Globe (27-24) and Boston Herald (33-24) reported over the weekend that their polling shows Kerry trailing Dean in advance of the March 2 Democratic primary. I've written for a while here that people just like Dean better, and the follow-up interviews in the Globe back me up:

Those who favor Dean, in follow-up interviews after the poll, said that Kerry's lack of a clear message and his general demeanor have hurt him. They seemed drawn to Dean's aggressive style.

Dan Patenaude, 47, of East Falmouth, said he has always supported Kerry in previous elections. But at this stage, Dean strikes him as the candidate with the most forthright manner -- a key quality when he considers presidential candidates, Patenaude said.

"It's more his manner than his positions," Patenaude, a guidance counselor at Mashpee High School, said of Dean. "He presents himself very well, and he looks like a man of integrity. He's not afraid to state what he feels."

Kathy Kacavich of Natick, who runs a day-care center out of her house, said Dean's message is the only one that's broken through to her in this early stage. She said she isn't familiar with most of the issues, but said something about Kerry rubs her the wrong way.

"Maybe it's his face, he just looks like an old teacher," said Kacavich, 47. "So far, I haven't listened to anybody else yet, but what Dean has to say is alright."

Those surveyed criticized Kerry's seeming equivocation about the war. He had voted for the congressional resolution authorizing Bush to use force against Iraq, though has since criticized the president for how he has handled the war, and voted against the administration's request for $87 billion for reconstruction.

Cornelius Hastie, a 72-year-old registered Democrat, said he sees Dean as in the mold of US Senator Edward M. Kennedy more than Kennedy's Bay State Senate colleague.

Hastie said he admired Dean's willingness to stake out positions clearly in his opposition to the war in Iraq.

"He's got unequivocal opposition to American aggression, to an unprovoked war," said Hastie, a retired Episcopal priest who lives in Jamaica Plain. "John Kerry is not Teddy Kennedy. He doesn't take a strong, principled stand. Consistently, Teddy Kennedy takes principled stands, and Howard Dean does the same."

But Kerry's style also seems to stir resentment among voters, even those Democrats who should agree with his positions. Joseph Kalesnik, a 62-year-old Democrat, said he has never felt fully comfortable with Kerry's manner, and said he was concerned by the turmoil inside his campaign as well. Dean, he said, strikes him as forthright, "half-arrogant and half-cocky," but in a positive way that suggests he'd be a strong candidate to take on Bush.

"Dean has come out and said some things, and he hasn't backed away from them," said Kalesnik, a retired postal supervisor who lives in Westfield. "Kerry always gives you this thing where he talks over you. There's something about him that says, when you sit in the car, you sit in the back, and he's up front."

The composition of the Dean and Kerry support is also interesting, as noted in the Globe:

While Kerry runs ahead of Dean among registered Democrats -- 28 percent to 22 percent -- the senator trails by a wide margin -- 36 percent to 14 percent -- among independents, according to the Globe/WBZ polls.

This can largely be explained by the fact that Kerry has had most state Democratic officials lining up behind him. Not doing so would be perceived as a major insult. If Dean wins New Hampshire big and looks like the nominee before March 2, however, I'll be interested to see how vocal those supporters of Kerry are in this area. I suspect their backing of the junior senator may turn out to be rather shallow.

Bush Has "Traumatised" Royal Flamingoes

This one (via Altercation) is pretty good too. Apparently the Queen is pissed at Bush for causing extensive damage to the Buckingham Palace lawns and gardens.

Royal officials are now in touch with the Queen's insurers and Prime Minister Tony Blair to find out who will pick up the massive repair bill. Palace staff said they had never seen the Queen so angry as when she saw how her perfectly-mantained lawns had been churned up after being turned into helipads with three giant H landing markings for the Bush visit.

The rotors of the President's Marine Force One helicopter and two support Black Hawks damaged trees and shrubs that had survived since Queen Victoria's reign.

And Bush's army of clod-hopping security service men trampled more precious and exotic plants.

The Queen's own flock of flamingoes, which security staff insisted should be moved in case they flew into the helicopter rotors, are thought to be so traumatised after being taken to a "place of safety" that they might never return home.

Guy Charged for Threatening Penis-Enlargement Spammers

CNN has the amusing story of the day. A man made some threats to harm people at a company that kept sending him spam. The targeted firm blamed others for the unsolicited emails, saying, "such firms gave a bad name to the penis enhancement business."

Debate Tonight

MSNBC has TV coverge at 4pm and will replay it at 9. Tom Brokaw will be moderating from Des Moines, where we can expect some nastiness between Dean and Gephardt.

Friday, November 21, 2003

The Best JFK Assassination Coverage

It's at ABC. They did a splendid special last night, which basically put to bed all of the conspiracy theories.

Friday Sports Post

I've been slacking a bit on my sports blogging during the week. To rectify, I will now briefly weigh in on the contentious sports issues of the week, followed by my weekly college football preview.

Alex Rodriguez is a deserving American League MVP. He has been the best player in the AL for years, and it's no fault of his that Texas has bad pitching and can't make the playoffs. That has been one of the best offensive teams in the league in recent years, largely due to A-Rod. His stats speak for themselves. This year, with no good candidate on the playoff teams, the MVP voters finally gave Rodriguez his due.

Barry Bonds is also a deserving National League MVP. No one disputes that he had the best season, but some say the THG subpoena is a black eye. I say that shouldn't have anything to do with the MVP voting. Bonds is guilty of nothing at this point, and voters can only take into account what happened on the field this year. If the THG thing turns out to have been a big problem, it's a black eye for all of baseball, not just Bonds.

Bob Costas made a good point on Inside the NFL last night, by the way, that he thinks the 5-7% positive tests for baseball steroids this past year is worse than it sounds. Pitchers have far less incentive to use 'roids than hitters, guys can cycle off things before the season, and the tests don't cover Andro or human growth hormone. Costas complained that the NFL program was his only forum to discuss baseball (he brought this up in a chat about THG and the NFL), and I agree his insights are useful and deserve a forum. Hey Bob: get a web site.

Moving on to basketball, Doc Rivers was undeservedly fired by the Orlando Magic earlier in the week. The Magic began the year 1-10. Tracy McGrady has struggled and the team has some injuries. The team has overachieved a lot the last few years, though, since it's basically McGrady and a bunch of spare parts. When McGrady struggles and some of the better parts are hurt, the team will lose period. Being saddled with Grant Hill's contract makes improving the team difficult, too.

Charges that McGrady is unselfish are also unfair (these have appeared in the papers and on TNT last night). When a guy cares a lot about winning and his team is losing, he is labeled a distraction, hurting the team. If he's on a good team, well then he's just a great competitor. Paul O'Neill of the Reds and Yankees is my favorite example of this.

Finally, on to football. TCU proved me right last night by losing to Southern Miss and blowing their chances of getting into the BCS by going undefeated. They were never close to being one of the eight best teams in football, and it's good we no longer have to listen to their stupid advocates.

The big game is obviously Ohio State-Michigan. This game will settle all of the belly-aching people have had over OSU passing USC in the BCS for the #2 slot. If the Buckeyes win, they deserve to be in teh Sugar Bowl. If they lose, USC will probably go instead (unless LSU wins out and can rise enough). It's that simple, so can everyone stop complaining and picking apart every little bit of the BCS? It's a formula, which is always going to be imperfect somehow. A playoff makes far more sense. I could slog through it all, but just go read Bob Ryan instead.

LSU-Mississippi should be a good one too on CBS at 3:30. Oklahoma-Texas Tech probably won't be competitive either, but the Tech offense is quality TV viewing. That one's on ABC after OSU-Michigan.

This Week's News Summary

Good Protesters: London
Bad Protesters: Miami
Sell-Out on the Energy Bill: Tom Daschle
Sell-Out on the Medicare Bill: AARP (plus see Krugman)

Pro Picks, Week 12: Of Coaches and Cancers

Gee, ESPN really tried to play up the idea that Parcells and Belichick hated one another during last Sunday night's telecast of Partiots-Cowboys. They took a video clip of a few seconds of warmups in which they made it appear that the coaches were standing somewhat close and refusing to acknowledge each other's presence. They even focused in and out on each man in turn, giving the clip a sinister feel to it. Nice work, ESPN!

They must have felt pretty dumb when the two embraced at mid-field at game's end. ESPN had its audience expecting them to start throwing punches at that point.

Another coach who I think deserves more attention regarding last week rather than less is Marvin Lewis. If you caught Inside the NFL on HBO last night you saw the sideline footage of Lewis getting in his players' faces and encouraging them as Cincinnati handed Kansas City its first loss (I knew once I declared the Chiefs invincible they would be losing soon). Then in the locker room after the win, Lewis got choked up talking to his players about all the franchise had been through, especially owner Mike Brown, who has been roundly mocked for years now by the press.

One of the writers who has been harsh on Cincy is Gregg Easterbrook, who doesn't have a TMQ column posted on Football Outsiders this week, by the way. Maybe it's located somewhere else on the web I've yet to find. In any case, Easterbrook and about 1,001 other scribes will have to eat some serious crow if the Bengals are in the playoffs, and they look as likely as anyone to take the AFC North.

Finally, this week we witnessed the end of the Keyshawn Johnson era in Tampa Bay when he was deactivated for the rest of the season. This reminds me distinctly of Terry Glenn, except that Glenn was faking injuries for longer than they really existed. Both guys are talented receivers who weren't about helping the team win and ended up being shipped out. Keyshawn apparently keeps demanding the ball even though he's not the game-breaking receiver he thinks he is. This incident should come as no surprise after Johnson referred to Wayne Chrebet as a "mascot" and "loser" when they were teammates on the Jets and Chrebet was actually having a better year than he was.

The day of the announcement, Keyshawn was on SportsCenter doing with an interview with Dan Patrick, smiling about how he was moving on and claiming he had no idea why the Bucs didn't want him. The guy just doesn't get it. As the Chad Johnson guarantee demonstrated once again last week, wide receivers are the most flamboyant and volatile players in the league. But if you do things as disruptive as what Keyshawn the cancer did, you'd better be producing at the level of a Randy Moss or Terrell Owens, which Johnson is not.

As always the following picks are solely for recreational purposes.

San Francisco at Green Bay

You know, if Najeh Davenport keeps running like he did last week at Tampa, people might one day forget about the hamper incident (remember that?).

Pick: Packers

Carolina at Dallas

This is the only game on the schedule this week that involves two teams with records over .500. You've been warned. Naturally, it won't be seen on Boston TV.

Pick: Panthers

Pittsburgh at Cleveland

The William Green story keeps becoming more strange by the day. This week the Browns RB, already suspended for violating league drug policy, was stabbed by his fiancee. She denies the charges. This really reflects well on Green's alma mater, BC, of course, where he was suspended twice for smoking pot during his three years of playing. The Browns are also now sporting an offense without Green, the benched Tim Couch and the waived Kevin Johnson. Just like the front office was planning all along, right?

Pick: Browns

Washington at Miami

As predicted in this space last week, Miami-Baltimore was a horrible display of "offense." This could be a similar Sunday night debacle if the banged-up Patrick Ramsey can't go for the Redskins and Tim Hasselbeck, who has been with the team for about a month, starts in his place. The Washington defense also isn't good enough to totally shut down Miami, right? Remember when Miami used to be a solid pick at home, before they had to go to overtime to prevent losing a fourth home game in mid-November?

Pick: Dolphins

Oakland at Kansas City

OK, so the Chiefs aren't indestructible after all, and the Raiders managed a win last week. Still, Oakland barely won a game in which Minnesota committed about 75 turnovers, plus Kansas City is back home. This is the CBS 4:15 game in Boston and much of the country.

Pick: Chiefs

Other Games

Minnesota over Detroit, NY Jets over Jacksonville, Philadelphia over New Orleans, Seattle over Baltimore, New England over Houston, Indianapolis over Buffalo, Denver over Chicago, St. Louis over Arizona, Cincinnati over San Diego, Tennessee over Atlanta, Tampa Bay over NY Giants

Last Week: 11-5 (Maybe picking San Diego should count as two losses--that was a terrible choice. Sorry, Flutie fans.)
Season Record: 97-63

Thursday, November 20, 2003

DeLong's Letter in the Economist

Brad DeLong wrote a letter to the Economist criticizing them for unfair criticism of Paul Krugman in last week's issue. Now he's posted to his blog a comparison to the letter he submitted and the letter the Economist printed for all to see here. The Economist letters page for the week is here (scroll down for DeLong's).

Michael Jackson Lyrics

Here are lyrics to a Michael Jackson in which he repeatedly says "Tom Sneddon is a cold man" in reference to the DA who is now going after him on child abuse charges. I promise not to post much on this story, especially with much more important stuff going on in the world, but the freak show is fascinating, I must admit.

Clark on Letterman

Congressional Committee Clears Bill Bulger

Boston.com reports that today the House Government Reform Committee has published a scathing document on FBI misconduct in Boston relating to the investigation of the mob. It also says there isn't evidence that former president of UMass and the State Senate, William Bulger, went after those who investigated his brother James "Whitey" Bulger.

This is really too bad for all of the local hack journalists who have made careers out of insinuating bad things about Bill Bulger. Expect some cries of congressional incompetence from the more shameless ones like Howie Carr. Hopefully those who at least try to retain some aura of respectability, like the Boston Globe's "Spotlight!" team, will just slink away never to be heard from again on this.

I know, Bill Bulger's brother is linked to a bunch of killings. That's why I suggest the authorities try to find James Bulger, rather than attack William's character, which serves no one and has been a favorite parlor game in this region for years now.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Dean and "Re-Regulation"

That's one horrible way to phrase an economic proposal and Howard Dean is already being attacked by rivals over the comments he made. Dean has this troubling tendency to take decent ideas and attach terrible labels to them, which makes it easy to distort his meaning. Not a good sign in terms of his political acumen.

Anyway, as I say, there's a good theme behind the clumsy language, that corporations are running roughshod over regular people these days. I just wish Dean would put more emphasis on positive language like "fairness" versus "corruption" as Kevin Drum's post suggests.

I also think a good way to parry some conservative attacks on Dean being anti-capitalist, etc., is to argue for better enforcement of existing regs. In a lot of cases the agencies are intentionally underfunded by the Republican Congress and run by Bush appointees who let the industries do whatever they want.

Better enforcement can change a lot of things right away, and without having to push any major regulatory bills through a hostile Republican leadership pn Capitol Hill. This also eliminates the line of attack often heard on gun issues that liberals only pay lip service to problems by continually proposing new laws rather than seeking enforcement of those laws already on the books.

Look for some sort of Dean retraction/clarification of the "re-regulation" comment in the coming days if business supporters freak out. This is what can happen if the candidate is talking with reporters off the cuff at midnight on the campaign plane, I guess.

Bra Tariffs

Business Week says the Bush textile tariffs announced yesterday won't help save industries that are already dying domestically. The article has some interesting background on the bra industry I wasn't aware of. For example:

Let's look at the numbers, which show how dominant Chinese imports have become since the U.S. removed quotas on Chinese-made bras and robes in 2002. Bra imports jumped immediately from 38.4 million the year before to 127.2 million. That 231% increase gave China a 24% share of the U.S. market, up from 9% the year before. This year, China's market share climbed to 33%...

Even if Chinese bras were banned from the U.S., it wouldn't help industry here. Bra production in the U.S. has almost disappeared anyway. Even before the quotas came off on China, foreign manufacturers had captured 85% of the U.S. market in 2001. As trade wars go, this one is already lost.

Clark on 60 Minutes II

Now that we've seen the tough Wesley Clark in that much-discussed Fox interview this week, it's time to see some emotion. Drudge's front page has details:


UPDATE: For more see this discussion in Daily Kos diaries, the transcript of the interview with Dan Rather along with a short video clip on the linked page and a Clark Sphere post with a transcript of the now famous Fox interview from a few days back. I also never linked to Matthew Yglesias in TAP Online discussing the questionable MO of Peter Boyer, the man who authored this critical New Yorker profile on Clark, which my dad got all obsessed about when we were talking politics over the weekend. This fulfills my Clark quota for the week.

Overseas Cover to "The Great Unraveling"

Mickey Kaus is raising a stink over this cover that will appear on copies of Paul Krugman's book "The Great Unraveling" that will appear overseas (apparently Luskin is doing the same, though I won't link to him).

I agree that it's not the most subtle of covers and Krugman would've been better served by something else. The interesting question raised is whether Krugman himself approved that cover or whether the publisher picked out a more anti-Bush European cover to cater to the folks protesting in London this week.

Gay Marriage: Backlash Concerns

I was speaking with an older guy at the office earlier today and he's a big opponent of the Bush admin and all it stands for. He said that when he heard about the Mass SJC decision on gay marriage yesterday, he wondered how many millions of votes that assured George Bush. He's big on the unintended negative consequences of doing good things. For example, he argued that the school system in the US declined because of desegregation (white flight, suburbs, property tax funding, etc.--not important how valid this is to my point) and hasn't yet recovered.

His concern about what the decision means for Democrats echoes a lot of the news reports I've been seeing about how this is a bad development for the Democratic candidates for president. The awkward statements from the campaigns certainly add to this perception (Lieberman, for example, said in a statement he was happy about the decision yet opposed gay marriage, if that makes any sense). And sure, this will help to mobilize the anti-gay base of the Republican party.

My response, however, is this: what is the alternative? There have been plenty of cases where the rights of groups are expanded in American history, and there's always a hell of a time with the people who liked things the way they were. That's not a valid excuse for ignoring what is right, in my judgment.

Rather than running away from this issue, I want to see Democrats embrace this as a case of allowing every American enjoy full rights under the law. Who will demonstrate the courage to confront prejudice and bigotry?

This reminds me of Dick Gephardt's stance on gay marriage--he opposes it, despite the misgivings of his lesbian daughter. The way he justifies his stance is that the country, in his view, isn't ready for it, or something like that.

There has to be more than political expediency as a reason to deny taking up the banner of equal rights. We need leaders who have the will to endure the challenges of championing a cause that a lot of people disagree with. The country will come around on this, just as it has on other rights issues historically.

Daily Kos || Bloggers at DNC convention

Discussion at Daily Kos on blogging at the Democratic convention next summer. Work still preventing regular blogging today.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Sullentrop Summarizes Dean's Book

This is a useful paraphrase of Howard Dean's campaign book, "Winning Back America", summarized by Chris Sullentrop of Slate. The book comes out December 3. An example of Sullentrop's work: "Chapter 3: 'Unlike George W. Bush, I Had Black Roommates at Yale.'"


Funny Atrios post on confusing Daschle and Saddam.

SJC Quote

Busy working, but caught this from the front page of Bosotn.com:

''The plaintiffs are members of our community, our neighbors, our coworkers, our friends. We share a common humanity .... Simple principles of decency dictate that we extend to the plaintiffs, and to their new status, full acceptance, tolerance, and respect. We should do so because it is the right thing to do.''
-- SJC Justice John M. Greaney

Here's the ruling, which hopefully I'll have a chance to read this afternoon.

The Mass SJC Gay Marriage Ruling

Here's Boston.com on the 4-3 decision, which apparently rules the ban on gay marriage unconstitutional but also doesn't grant marriage licenses to the couples who challenged the law. Sounds like there was some hair-splitting going on, which may account for the long delay in this ruling coming down (people were expecting it back in July). The opinions for the case, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, aren't available yet.

CNN is similarly sparse at this point.

The Boston.com story says the Massachusetts state legislature will have 180 days to come up with a solution. Perhaps this will mollify those who complain of legislating from the bench? Actually, of course it won't--conservatives will go nuts about anything short of saying gays don't deserve the rights of straight people. Plus Tom Finneran and others on Beacon Hill support amending the Mass Constitution to define marriage as a man and woman. This will be interesting.

Anyway, the major news seems to be that this is a victory for gay rights, which is a victory for everyone who believes in equal rights and non-discrimination. I am proud to be from Massachusetts, a state that is willing to make such a decision despite the condemnation sure to follow from some corners.

Updates to follow once I get a chance to read the opinions and hear reaction from state leaders.

Friday, November 14, 2003

College Football Weekend Preview

I'm leaving town tomorrow for the weekend, so this will be my last post until late Sunday or Monday. Enjoy the blogroll.

We're entering the final few weeks of college football, which means it's time to actually start looking at the BCS standings with some seriousness. As you can see here, Oklahoma has a firm grip on the top spot. USC and Ohio State are closely jockeying for the all-important second slot in the championship game.

Ohio State, slightly behind the Trojans this week, has the tougher schedule (Purdue this week, at Michigan next week), but if they win these two games they have a good shot at overtaking USC based on strength of schedule. Southern Cal plays Arizona Saturday followed by home dates with UCLA next week and Oregon State December 6. USC is thus unlikely to lose. The question is whether the Buckeyes can win.

LSU is the only other one-loss team that has a shot, but their BCS numerical score is well back of the others in fourth place. If they win out at Alabama this week, at Mississippi next week, home against Arkansas November 28 and then potentially in an SEC Championship game, they will make up some ground, but probably not enought to overtake a USC team the is unlikely to lose.

Thus, I think a lot is riding on how the Buckeyes play these next two weeks. Their matchups with Purdue and, if they win that, Michigan, should be exciting, high-stakes contests. If LSU wins this week, their game at Ole Miss next week will at least be for the SEC West crown in Eli manning's last home game too, which would be fun.

Nothing else is really worth watching. USC will demolish Arizona. Oklahoma will do likewise to Baylor. A lot has been made of how the Sooners beat Texas A&M 77-0 last week (perhaps payback for last year's spoiler game, as I noted last week) and A&M beat Baylor by 63 earlier this season. By my addition, we should then see Oklahoma win by 140 points on Saturday. They were installed as 53-point favorites by Vegas. Mike Lupica got all over OU this week for allegedly running up last week's score, which was totally bogus. They shouldn't have to apologize for being good.

Here's what's on TV. Texas-Texas Tech might be enjoyable viewing with how much offense Tech usually brings to the game.

TCU also will try to keep the BCS dream alive against Cincinnati, which is a warm up to their big one with Southern Miss on Thursday night. I will go on record now that I don't believe TCU deserves a BCS bowl bid. If they had dominated Conference USA, I would say yes, but they have beaten the likes of Tulane, Arizona, South Florida and UAB by field-goal margins. They are not one of the eight best football teams in the land.

Easterbrook's Nonsensical Criticism of Dean

Gregg Easterbrook somehow comes up with an argument that Howard Dean, who receives contributions that average $77 from individuals, will be more beholden to campaign donors than Bush, whose average contributor gives $283.

Now that Howard Dean has opted out of public funding, everyone seems to assume that his little-guy financing approach will be superior to George W. Bush's fat-cat financing. But the problem in seeking large numbers of small donations may be that it forces Dean to sell out to everyone.

You see, if someone gives you a big chunk of your campaign fund, you'll be damn sure to do their bidding. If they give a smaller chunk, you'll be less bound to do their bidding. The fact that Dean gets his contributions in smaller chunks means he won't have the quid pro quos lined up to the extent that Bush will when he comes to office for the next presidential term. This is rather basic.

An argument Easterbrook could make is that Dean may get desperate for cash and try to go after some bigger donors down the line by making all sorts of deals. That would make his logic valid. However, it looks pretty unlikely too, given the success Dean is having at the moment. I think the desperation critique fits better on some of the other candidates' whose time to close the gap on Dean is growing short.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Bush as Pedro Martinez

Here's such an awful metaphor from Mickey Kaus that it's worth reading. I don't know what "well-pitched innings" Bush has had that Kaus is referring to exactly. Bush has been more like the John Wasdin of presidents.

Pro Picks, Week 11: Filling My Quota

Belichick-Parcells. Parcells-Belichick. Belichick. Parcells. Parcells. Belichick. Patriots, Cowboys, Jets, assistant coach, head coach, Bob Kraft.

In case you've been under a rock, the Patriots and Cowboys are playing on Sunday night. As I foretold last week in this space, there has been an absolute deluge of media attention on this game. Just our luck in New England, we had a friggin' bye leading into this game, like we needed more time to re-live every twist and turn in the history of these two coaches together. The reporters at the press conferences have been trying to goad both Bills into verbal combat. They have been stonewalled, again as expected.

To be serious for a millisecond here, I think this matchup demonstrates again how crucial coaching is to success in pro football. Nobody would argue that the Patriots and Cowboys are among the top teams in the league talent-wise, but both are in contention for first-round byes because their coaching staffs have gotten the most out of their rosters.

As with anything, though, there can be overkill. Parcells! Belichick! Sunday Night! Just as this thing has caused many people to lose sight of the actual game, I'm devoting this week's column to exposing some of the forgotten realities about teams and players that the media do not adequately convey.

The following picks are, as usual, for recreational purposes only.

Baltimore at Miami

If you like offensive football, don't watch this one. The immortal Anthony Wright will be starting at QB for the Ravens, who lost Kyle Boller to a quad tear last week. The Baltimore offense under replacement Chris Redman was so pathetic last Sunday that Ray Lewis was heard asking the offense just not to let the Rams defense score! Meanwhile, Miami was steamrolled by Tennessee last week with Brian Griese continuing to struggle. Get ready for lots of Ricky Williams and Jamal Lewis slamming into the line.

Pick: Dolphins

Washington at Carolina

Perhaps the most bizarre item of the week came in Carolina last Sunday when a fan goaded on the Tampa defense. After the fan called out Simeon Rice, who had guaranteed a Bucs win, Rice responded with back-to-back sacks. Carolina won on a late drive, but had they not, the guy who made the comments would be right up there with Steve Bartman. While the fan has received plenty of condemnation, what about Rice? Why does it take some idiot fan yelling at you on the PA system to get you to play like you're capable? Shouldn't you be trying hard at all times? My guess is that this week Stephen Davis will need no such external motivation as he returns to face his old team.

Pick: Panthers

Kansas City at Cincinnati

Speaking of players who guarantee wins, Chad Johnson of the Bengals says his team will knock off the undefeated Chiefs this week. He's getting pilloried by the media for giving Kansas City "bulletin-board material"--oh no! Once again, shouldn't these guys be taking things seriously to begin with? I mean, it's not like the Chiefs were planning on throwing the game, but now that Johnson has gotten all cocky they're gonna try to win. (Johnson actually says he made the prediction to fire up his own team) Rather, the Chiefs are just better, and I'm not picking against them until they lose.

Pick: Chiefs

San Diego at Denver

Then we have the Doug Flutie situation with the Chargers. Some people are fretting over the fact that Flutie playing well may complicate the team's future with Drew Brees at QB. If I'm not mistaken, having a quarterback who plays well leading your team is a good thing, right? If Flutie wins games, why not give him the job for next year? Who knows, San Diego could win, which ostensibly is the objective here. Or maybe those geniuses could bring in Rob Johnson instead.

Pick: Chargers

Green Bay at Tampa Bay

You know Fox is going to hype this thing to death. Unfortunately for them, neither of these teams is really any good any more. What's the over-under on number of references to the Sapp-Favre "rivalry", or how "great" it is to watch these guys play? The loser is done, which means we should see guys battling to the death, at least. (This is the 4:15 Fox TV game, by the way.)

Pick: Bucs

NY Giants at Philadelphia

Fassel is under fire from the press--again. I wonder if New York sports writers recycle their "Fassel on the Hot Seat" columns every year around this time? (This is the 1:00 Fox game)

Pick: Eagles

Other Games

New Orleans over Atlanta, Buffalo over Houston, St. Louis over Chicago, Cleveland over Arizona, Tennessee over Jacksonville, Indianapolis over NY Jets, Seattle over Detroit, Minnesota over Oakland, San Francisco over Pittsburgh.

Last Week: 7-7
Season Record: 86-58

How to watch Paris Hilton at work

This is pretty funny, I thought. Sorry, search engine traffic, I'm not posting the video here.

Steel Crazy After All These Years

That's a section heading in this Economist article about the looming US-EU trade war over the Bush administration's steel tariffs. A lot of people like me are waiting to see what the White House does on this one now that they seem to be getting squeezed between foreign government criticism and the hopes of an important domestic manufacturing constitutency. The Economist, however, points out that Bush may get off the hook if a steel shortage now predicted for next year materializes:

WSD is now forecasting a shortage of steel in the first quarter of next year, noting that by this summer the world's mills were running at 95% of capacity. As well as China's appetite for imported steel there are worries about shortages of raw materials, such as the coke and scrap iron needed in steelmaking. WSD thinks there is a strong chance of the biggest price spike since the mid-1970s. True, Asian relief would not last for ever. China is investing heavily in expanding its own steel capacity. Sooner or later much of that will flood on to world markets. But in the meantime, higher prices may give Mr Bush a win-win opportunity: to please domestic steel consumers and shock his foreign critics--who love to cite his steel policy as evidence of his arrogant unilateralism--by scrapping the tariffs, without doing much damage to what remains of America's steel industry. Go for it, Mr President.

I don't think this will quite work. As I understand it, the steel industry wants the tariffs to remain in place, regardless of these projections. The EU and others are giving the administration some time to work on a new steel-trade regime, but I don't think they will be willing to just wait around until prices rise next year either. In short, I still think the president will catch a lot of hell however he moves on this.

Japan's Decision

There's been a lot of quick mentions on newscasts today about how Japan has decided to change course and not actually send troops to Iraq. This sounds kind of silly at first blush. (You mean soldiers may actually die in a war zone? We don't want any part of that, our bad!) In fact, however, Japan had an election over the weekend and the LDP (ruling party) lost ten seats. Isn't it possible domestic politics has a bit to do with this too?

Steroid Testing

Baseball will start testing players for steroids since at least 5 percent of the limited sample tested this past season came up positive. Baseball won't say how much the sample was over the 5 percent threshold, but Bud Selig did say "the results of the survey testing show that there is not widespread steroid use in baseball."

I think a lot of players got off 'roids last year, hence the drop in power numbers. Now there will be intense scrutiny about whose home runs are suspiciously down a lot during this coming season. Those players will be accused of taking steroids in the past and things will get ugly. There is some unpleasantness ahead.

Political Hate Speech

Brendan Nyhan deconstructs the term being tossed about by the RNC as their new election strategy. (Via Oliver Willis):

When Democratic presidential candidates cross the line in their rhetoric, they should be held accountable for their statements. But the blanket application of "political hate speech" is being used to undermine the legitimacy of criticism and dissent in principle--a tactic which disturbingly echoes Bush's "changing the tone" rhetoric from Bush's campaign and early months of his presidency, which implicitly defined a changed tone as the absence of opposition to the President's policies. It is also a direct descedant to the many vitriolic attacks unleashed by Republicans and conservative pundits on those who have questioned Bush or the war on terrorism.

Can Miami Really Ban Giant Puppets?

An entertaining Slate Explainer, coming in advance of next week's FTAA summit.

Operation Iron Hammer

Why must we always give these stupid macho names to parts of the war? How about "Operation Tiny Penis"?

"The Reagans" Screenplay

Salon has the full script to the controversial miniseries. Rather than trust Ed Gillespie that it was a hatchet job, why not go see for yourself? (Via En Banc)

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

TMQ Returns

Via Sportsfilter, I see that Gregg Easterbrook's Tuesday Morning Quarterback is back and will be temporarily located at the Football Outsiders site. There is much rejoicing throughout the land.

Easterbrook writes, "Right now several possible TMQ deals are in the works. Expect an announcement soon, but for the moment Football Outsiders is my venue." Also, on the topic of his previous employer, "there's nothing any of us can do about the fact that ESPN cashiered me. As you know, I've urged people not to boycott ESPN. They were wrong to fire me, but overall, ESPN is terrific."

Saletan on the Dean Endorsements

Not unexpectedly, the Saletan article on Howard Dean's receipt of the big union endorsements today is good. He makes the point that Dean looks like the nominee now and focuses on some of the potential problems for him lying ahead:

The bigger problem is that Dean's blood is bluer than his collar. The labor guys onstage know it. That's why they brought a third union, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, into this event. SEIU claims 1.6 million members. AFSCME claims 1.4 million. IUPAT claims 140,000. Numerically, that's a rounding error. But symbolically, it's important. AFSCME represents government workers, and SEIU represents service workers. Without hard hats on stage, Gephardt's buddies in the manufacturing trades could easily dismiss this event as Sissies for Dean. Hence the painters, who stand behind Dean in black T-shirts and hard hats, making clear that they're not talking about van Gogh.

Unfortunately, Dean doesn't blend in too well. He enters the hotel in business attire, then ducks into a side room to don a green AFSCME T-shirt and purple SEIU jacket. His mistake is leaving his tie on. As he takes the stage, the knot of the tie pokes out above the collar of the T-shirt, making it look as through he's wearing a preppy green sweater under his sailing jacket. McEntee, a bruiser, hoists Dean's hand and rallies the crowd with bellowing cheers. Dean grins awkwardly, like a lawyer who has wandered into the wrong bar.

Kerry "Misspoke" About Hillary Poll

I was wondering about this one. From Drudge:

Heads turned in the media room during a recent debate when Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry boasted that he beats New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in a hypothetical matchup for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"I saw a poll the other day that showed me about 15 points ahead of her," Kerry said at the Nov. 4 event. But when pressed for proof, Kerry aides could not produce such a poll--because none exists, Craig Crawford reports at CONGRESSIONAL QUARTERLY.

This week a staffer acknowledged that Kerry "misspoke" in the Boston debate. In a Quinnipiac University survey released Oct. 29, Clinton polled 36 percentage points ahead of Kerry among registered Democratic respondents nationwide.

Amateur Hour in the Senate

The senators seem to be making an active effort tonight to make themselves look like morons. You can catch their 30-hour marathon "debate" on C-SPAN 2 all night and through the day tomorrow.

Republicans are mad that Democrats won't agree to confirm a few judges, so they've decided to waste a lot of time with a theatrical bitch-fest. This despite the fact that there is no prescription drug bill passed, no energy bill (and I think none is better than what they've been working on), no passage yet for a bunch of budget bills, and continuing problems with the economy and Iraq they could be spending time on too.

Basically they are making total asses of themselves.

The senate has confirmed 98 percent of President Bush's judicial nominations. During the final two years of President Clinton's presidency, the number was 61 percent. The Constitution gives the president power to appoint judges with the advice and consent of the senate. Democrats have chosen not to consent to a few of the most extreme idologues that Bush has tapped. That's how it goes.

Bush has really changed the tone in Washington, DC, as he promised he would do in his 2000 campaign. The problem is that he's changed it for the worse (hat tip to Al Franken).

An Insular Blogging-Related Post

From The Onion (via Blogger's homepage).

Joan Vennochi's Laziness re: Kerry

The Tuesday Boston Globe column by Joan Vennochi seemed familiar to me in its mocking of John Kerry's campaign woes:

John Kerry's presidential campaign needs more than a new campaign manager. It needs a new candidate. In an effort to stop Howard Dean's advance to the Democratic presidential nomination, Kerry fired his own campaign manager. He replaced Jim Jordan with Mary Beth Cahill, a veteran Democratic political operative with strong ties to Massachusetts. This shake-up at the top stopped one rung too low. If Kerry can't change the presidential candidate, the presidential candidate cannot win the Democratic presidential nomination.

A little looking on Nexis turned up Scot Lehigh's September 17 column that covered the shake-up following the departure of Chris Lehane from the Kerry campaign. Lehigh wrote the following:

With Lehane gone, there's now some talk that Kerry may install someone to supersede campaign manager Jim Jordan.

Given the candidate's recent performance, here's a better idea: The campaign should find someone to supersede John Kerry.

Oh, not forever. Just until the candidate decides who he is. And what he stands for.

I wonder if Joan will ever give Scot credit for the rhetorical device she used on Tuesday? Sometimes I feel like I'm writing Silly Globe.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Neal Pollack Quits Blogging

Spending Growth

Check what makes tomorrow's WaPo front page:

Confounding President Bush's pledges to rein in government growth, federal discretionary spending expanded by 12.5 percent in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, capping a two-year bulge that saw the government grow by more than 27 percent, according to preliminary spending figures from congressional budget panels.

Good thing we have those fiscal conservatives running the country.

The Planted Question

The LA Times (Globe reprint) notes that the stupid question at the Rock the Vote Forum last week about Macs versus PCs was planted by CNN. The network apparently made the girl ask that question rather than what she wanted to ask in order to have the candidates relate to a younger audience or some such nonsense.

Kurtz today reports that CNN has apologized. "In an attempt to encourage a lighthearted moment in this debate, a CNN producer working with Ms. Trustman clearly went too far. CNN regrets the producer's actions."

The poor girl was probably sick of taking so much crap over the idiotic question that she went public with the truth. Why was a producer with such a dumb idea about what young people would like seeing working the Rock the Vote Forum anyway?

Saletan on Edwards

Saletan is excellent as usual, this time demolishing John Edwards' grandstanding after Howard Dean's confederate flag remark. Did anyone see Edwards on Meet the Press Sunday? He was horrendous. I want to like Edwards, but he's grown on me in this campaign, and not in a good way.

Guantanamo Detainees

Via TalkLeft, I found this site with info on the detainees at Guantanamo whose appeal will be heard by the Supreme Court. You probably can guess how I feel about the case, so go read a liberal legal blogger for a better exposition of the case.

Donovan McNabb

Everyone's favorite media-created star quarterback scored two TDS, one rushing and one passing in the final minute, to lead Philadelphia over Green Bay, 17-14, on Monday Night Football. I hope Rush was watching from the rehab center.

DNC Funding Problem

The Globe reports on lagging convention funding. Come on, rich people, let's see it!

Monday, November 10, 2003

Adrian Walker is an Idiot

I should just declare Monday sarcasm day and be done with it. Anyway, here's Walker in today's Globe on the possibility of a JFK Birthday holiday for the state legislature:

After all, it has been hard work the past couple of years, passing less legislation than any Massachusetts Legislature in memory. If they didn't have to pass a budget, and debate the occasional capital punishment or gay marriage initiative, they would hardly have been heard from at all. Sounds burdensome, doesn't it?

It sounds about as burdensome as writing a vapid newspaper column twice a week for a living, Adrian (assuming, of course, that quantity of legislation passed is even a good proxy for how hard legislators work). This column may replace my previous favorite of his from this summer, which basically amounted to "Tom Menino should hire a black police commissioner for Boston because I say so."

Elizabeth Smart Beats out Jessica Lynch

I would've thought that army training would help Lynch, but apparently living for months as the sex slave of a religious zealot toughened up Elizabeth Smart enough to win the Sunday night made-for-TV-movie rumble. Drudge reports the following:

In a direct Sunday night showdown, the kidnapping story of Elizabeth Smart out-rated the rescue telling of Jessica Lynch, network sources tell DRUDGE.

CBS drew a larger audience for SMART STORY, overnight ratings reveal, with a 10.8 rating/16 share; as NBC trailed, albeit by slim margins, for SAVING JESSICA LYNCH at 9.9 rating/14 share.

Dumb Things People Say, Weekend Sports Edition

The Kellen Winslow situation got a lot of attention this weekend, following Miami's 10-6 home loss to Tennessee. The 'Canes tight end criticized the SEC officials and likened himself to a soldier, among much else. To Winslow's credit, he apologized very quickly for his outburst, and in hindsight he should've not made any remarks until he had his emotions under control.

Since Saturday, however, I've been somewhat perplexed by media reaction that focused on the war analogy, and how this is for some reason disrespectful to the "real heroes" or some such nonsense. Come on, people. He was never claiming literally to be a soldier, that's stupid. What was truly reprehensible about the remarks was that he admitted intentionally trying to injure the Tennessee defenders (one left the game after a vicious Winslow block). Isn't that a tad bit more important and worthy of censure? (For an example, here's the entirety of Mark Blaudschun's comment on the incident from his college football column in today's Boston Globe: "Will someone have a sitdown with Miami tight end Kellen Winslow? As talented as he may be, his mouth is getting him in trouble. Equating Saturday's loss to Tennessee to war and calling himself a soldier is ridiculous. Winslow apologized yesterday, but maybe he needs to be told again what war really means.")

Moving on, the US baseball team won't be playing in the Olympics next summer after losing in qualifying on Friday. What a perfect occasion for a little jingoism, courtesy of Tommy Lasorda! "I can't believe it! It's a shock and a disgrace that the Americans won't be represented in the Olympics. Baseball is America's game. It doesn't belong to the Japanese or the Cubans or the Koreans or the Italians. This is sad, very sad." Let's start up that eugenics program for breeding the best whitebread American ballplayers we can! Jeez. (article)

And finally, it's not always what you say but what you wear. Antonio Tarver had a good shot at knocking off Roy Jones on Saturday night. My theory is that what held him back was his purple sequins shorts. Yikes.

WTO Rejects US Steel Tariff Appeal

The Search for Mrs. Kucinich

I saw reference to this in yesterday's Boston Globe. Apparently the site politicsnh.com is sponsoring a search for a wife for Rep. Dennis Kucinich, since once Dennis wins the presidency, he'll need a spouse to go do photo-ops with poor children. The site (pending the candidate's agreement) will fly the woman with the most votes to New Hampshire for a romantic dinner. So far only two ladies have declared themselves eligible ("We're looking for serious people only" says the page!), and, in an upset-in-the-making, the old one has a big lead on the young one.

KFC Is Good for You!

I saw this idiotic ad during the NFL games yesterday claiming fried chicken was healthy. Rob Walker points out that the ad was misleading. What a surprise.

Friedman, Krugman and Anti-Semitism

I was going to make this point, but Atrios beat me to it. As I read the NYT op-eds yesterday, I was struck by how Tom Friedman referred to Mahatir's comments against Jews and then went on to try to understand why he would say such things. That sounds a lot like what Krugman did a few weeks ago and was attacked for. But of course Tom Friedman supported the Iraq war, so no such condemnation will be coming his way.

More Media Intimidation in Iraq

Kurtz has really been on to something lately (not just "whoring" as some in the liberal blogosphere often accuse him of doing). This time he covers the efforts to prevent NBC from reporting on the attack on the hotel where Wolfowitz was staying.

Saturday, November 08, 2003


That's the margin favoring Dean's decision to decline matching funds. Dean just referred to "George Bush and his cronies" on CNN.

Saturday Politics

Blog for America will have the Dean decision on whether to accept the deferal matching funds at noon. Gee, I wonder what the outcome of the vote will be?

The aura of inevitability is starting to grow around Dean. Crossfire yesterday did a whole segment about a potential Dean-Bush matchup in the general election, for example.

I've also been giving Dean lots of attention because he's had a visible week with the fundraising decision, Confederate flag flap and major union endorsement. I've given less blog-space to Clark lately, but to be fair, I must say I've been impressed by the Clark campaign's message on Iraq this week. His speech on Thursday echoed a lot of what I read in the Boston Globe op-ed by Clark that morning, including this good turn of phrase: "President Bush keeps telling us we should stay the course. But what we really must do is change course." The specific proposals are the best I've seen from anyone. Now, if he could do this on domestic policy, Clark would really have something.

Al Gore will be giving a speech for MoveOn about freedom and security tomorrow at 2pm. You can watch the webcast here.

The Globe has a Living/Arts article on the young woman who asked the candidates with whom they would most like to party at the Rock the Vote forum. Also, I've been meaning to link to this for a while now. With that graphic, is it any wonder a lot of people don't take the Democratic primary contenders seriously?

Friday, November 07, 2003

Weekend Sports Preview

Apologies for lack of blogging today--real life beckons at times.

This weekend's football isn't nearly as good as last week. Survival Saturday has spoiled me to the point where wondering whether Notre Dame may actually lose to Navy for the first time in 40 years just doesn't get me pumped. The good part of Miami losing last week is that now there are a bunch of one-loss teams with a shot at the national title game. It makes the BCS picture a mess, but it also makes a lot more games meaningful.

Unfortunately there aren't many games involving those top teams this weekend (LSU and USC are off). Miami-Tennessee is probably most intriguing because it's a chance to see how the 'Canes respond after their first regular-season loss since September 2000 in Washington. Of course, it's not on TV in Boston, where we get BC-West Virginia. Also playing at noon tomorrow are Ohio State and Michigan State. The Buckeyes still have a shot to repeat as champs but most people don't give them a good chance since they also have to play Purdue and at Michigan. Beating a 2-7 Penn State team by a single point last week wasn't too impressive either, though I hear this Scott McMullen guy that filled in at QB for the injured Craig Krenzel is reasonably good. I think the game may be on the Providence ABC affiliate.

The games I'm looking forward to actually watching involve two of the top Heisman candidates. Eli Manning goes up against Auburn in the 3:30 CBS game. Mississippi is the only undefeated team left in the SEC also, so the game is important. Ole Miss also hosts LSU two weeks from tomorrow in Manning's final home game and the SEC West could be on the line. ESPN has Heisman-hopeful Larry Fitzgerald and the Pitt Panthers going against the giant killers from Virginia Tech tomorrow night. Fitzgerald set the consecutive-games-with-a-TD-reception record last week against my BC Eagles, of course, and everyone touts him as the best wideout in the country, so take a look.

Mark Baludschun also notes that the Oklahoma game with Texas A&M is being overlooked somewhat. Granted, Oklahoma has annihilated Texas and Oklahoma State in their presumed challenge games so far, making for dull TV, but Blaudschun reminds us that OU was also 8-0 last season going into the A&M game, and they lost. The game isn't being televised in Boston.

If the slate of college football doesn't get you excited, I recommend checking out the Roy Jones-Antonio Tarver fight tomorrow night. I don't mean pay the PPV charge, just go catch it at a bar if you're so inclined. Should be a good fight. There's also good golf on this weekend if you're into that sort of thing (I'm not), and it's even bumping ABC's usual 3:30 college football game tomorrow.

Boston-area NFL telecasts Sunday afternoon are Giants-Falcons on Fox at 1:00 (why?), Dolphins-Titans at 1:00 on CBS, and Cowboys-Bills--the Parcells-Bledsoe reunion--at 4:00 on Fox. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Pro Picks, Week 10: A Good Bad Week

First the bad news: I was 5-9 last week, just slightly worse than an ape would have done picking games. None of that mattered Monday Night, however, as I watched the Patriots come from behind to give me that ninth loss on the week. I have so far not shown too much partiality toward New England in this space, so humor me this time around.

It's been quite a week for Patriots watchers. The team has been decimated by injuries and yet they somehow find ways to win, including games at Miami and Denver and versus Tennessee, which puts them in great playoff position. Now Bill Belichick is being hailed as a genius for intentionally taking a safety on MNF that eventually led to the team getting the winning touchdown minutes later. This has to be the most hailed intentional safety of all time.

If you're not from New England, you may not comprehend how pathologically obsessed this region is with sports. Monday night after the game not one but two radio stations had call in shows discussing the win until the middle of the night (~3am). And as I said, Belichick is being deified. Tuesday's Globe column by Dan Shaugnessy declared Belichick the "anti-Grady" and Tom Brady the "anti-Pedro." I must admit that it was nice to be up past midnight watching a local team come back to win for once.

Especially with all of the strange penalties called on the Patriots, the bad early turnovers and the punt return by Denver, it looked like everything was going against them, yet they pulled through. Maybe the Pats really are our Red Sox antidote. Now we have a bye week before some guy named Parcells comes to town next Sunday night. Do you think we may hear a little bit in the press about his visit? Consider this your warning of the coming onslaught of "Tuna" references.

As always, the following picks are for recreational purposes only.

Atlanta at NY Giants

Go read this SportsFilter post for a laugh. "Shula. Halas. Landry. Lambeau. Noll. The only coaches who've won 200 NFL games." That was the ad the Falcons owner mistakenly placed in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution after week two, anticipating a victory for the team. Instead, Atlanta has now lost seven straight and is risking leaving Head Coach Dan Reeves one win short of the 200 milestone (he's in the last year of his contract, the team sucks and it's remaining schedule looks tough). To quote TMQ, the football gods must have been angry. (By the way, there's still no news on a new home for TMQ.)

Pick: NY Giants

Seattle at Washington

Some people watching the Redskins-Cowboys game last week on Fox were a little confused about whether the broadcasters approved or disapproved of the decisions made by Steve Spurrier and Daniel Snyder. To clarify their stance, Fox will be burning both men in effigy in the braodcast booth during the game this Sunday. The announcers also plan on wearing "We HATE Spurrier and Snyder" t-shirts. I think Patrick Ramsey just got blindsided again.

Pick: Seahawks

Arizona at Pittsburgh

Quick: Which team has the better record? Answer: Arizona, 3-5 versus 2-6 for the Steelers. How can Pittsburgh be this bad? They have to beat the Cardinals at home at least, right?

Pick: Steelers

Cleveland at Kansas City

Browns running back William Green is suspended after being arrested for marijuana. In related news, John Kerry, John Edwards and Howard Dean have been suspended from the next Democratic presidential debate. For those of you wondering whether KC can go undefeated somehow, here are the remaining games after this one: at Cincy, Oakland, at San Diego, at Denver, Detroit, at Minnesota, Chicago. They will lose to someone, but I'll just be picking them until that occurs.

Pick: Chiefs

Philadelphia at Green Bay

What's the over-under on the number of times Michaels and Madden will praise Brett Favre? We know he's a great player and all, but even Pack fans must get sick of the constant adulation he receives, right? He's not the only QB who's ever blocked on a reverse, you know.

Pick: Packers

Miami at Tennessee

Miami plays Tennessee in college football Saturday. Miami plays Tennessee in pro football on Sunday. Spooky.

Pick: Titans

Other Games

Carolina over Tampa Bay, Indianapolis over Jacksonville, Cincinnati over Houston, Chicago over Detroit, Minnesota over San Diego, NY Jets over Oakland, Dallas over Buffalo, St. Louis over Baltimore

Last Week: 5-9
Season Record: 79-51

Alterman on "The Reagans"

Eric Alterman's weekly column at the Center for American Progress is good reading. It's one-stop shopping for all of your "CBS caved" and "Reagan really was a bad guy" arguments.

The NFL Network

There's been a lot of chatter about the NFL Network in the past few days since its launch on Monday. Most people can't get it on their TVs since it's just on DirecTV so far, but the NFL is streaming the channel's programming live over the Internet here. The quality of the video and audio stream isn't so great, though if you're curious what the Network is like, have a peek.

I must say that I have no great interest in having the channel on my cable system because there are no actual games shown on it. I'm already at the saturation point with the NFL coverage that exists.

More Dean News

I agree with Ezra Klein that Dean's having people vote on whether he should opt out of federal matching funds is a master stroke that avoids the criticism for breaking his pledge. The info on this from Dean for America is here for your perusal. Will any of his supporters actually vote for staying within the federal financing system (especially with the message Dean sent them all clearly indicating he wants to bypass the limits)? I'll be curious to see the final numbers after the voting ends at midnight tomorrow.

There's still no SEIU announcement, though there have been rumblings that the union may come out with an endorsement of Dean today. That would be huge. I'll believe it when I see it.

UPDATE: As you probably know by now, reports say Dean is getting SEIU's endorsement but they're not making any formal announcement until next week.


The much anticipated matchup of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony didn't live up to the hype last night. Bill Livingston of the Plain Dealer seems to be souring on the reign of King James already, noting, "I think Bird and Magic's rivalry is safe for the moment." The Cavs were booed during the closing minutes of their 93-89 loss while, "Together, Anthony and James, who make $108 million from Nike, scored 2 more points in the second half than the old woman who lived in a shoe."

Much as ESPN hypes these things, we have to remember that these are young guys who've been pro basketball players for a week. Maybe they'll play some exciting games against one another down the line, just not yet. After last year, I really don't think Cavs fans have anything to be bitter about either.

More Dean Analysis

Interesting Times points to this Tristero post that says Dean's Confederate remark was a brilliant political move. I don't agree, but it's good reading.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Dean Semi-Apology on Confederate Flag

The Post reports that Dean said the following in a speech in New York earlier today: "I regret the pain that I have caused, but I will tell you there is no easy way to do this and there will be pain as we discuss it and we must face this together hand in hand as Dr. (Martin Luther) King and Abraham Lincoln asked us to do."

Network TV Sucks

Hell, even the head of NBC says so. The weak-kneed CBS response on "The Reagans" was indicative of the larger problem that anything that is even remotely edgy or controversial can't be shown on the networks. Why bother tuning in for a sitcom when there are much more interesting entertainment options out there?

Debate Scene in Boston

This diary from Daily Kos has good details on the scene outside Faneuil Hall at the debate tonight.

More Acrimony in the World of Finance

(In case you were worried this had become purely a politics blog...)

The hits just keep on coming. Tuesday the feds indicted Richard Scrushy of HealthSouth (read the full indictment here). The House held a hearing on exorbitant mutual fund fees Monday (somewhere John Bogle is saying "I told you so" for the billionth time). And the market-timing recriminations continue to reverberate through the Boston financial industry. In the last two days alone we've seen charges brought against Prudential, the resignation of the head of the SEC's Boston office (who apparently knew about the misconduct long ago and didn't act), and the resignation of Putnam boss Larry Lasser.

Lasser's departure was a long time coming. Two years ago I spent a summer working in the Boston office of a financial firm and a controversy arose because Putnam had invested some supposedly conservative funds more heavily in technology than they should have. The returns weren't pretty and brokers were pissed. I had the opportunity to attend a meeting one afternoon at Putnam's offices in Post Office Square during which financial advisors from the area grilled Lasser on the actions of his subordinates. Larry was under fire from the Boston Globe at the time too, and he came across as a very slick salesman, oozing with confidence. I could see why he had risen to the top and at the same time I was a little unnerved by him. His getting pushed out by Marsh McClennan two years later for inadequately reigning in subordinates does not surprise me in the least.

The other big shake-up in the Boston business world of late has been the Fleet acquisition by Bank of America announced last week. There's a lot of local anxiety over this one from people scared about losing jobs or the potential decline in service from not having a major bank based in New England. I think these complaints are overblown. For one thing, everyone and their brother has known Fleet was a likely acquisition target for a while. If you were concerned about your job security in the event of a takeover, you shouldn't have been working at Fleet. The point about maintaining a regional banking giant is silly too, indicative of the enlarged self-importance of people in Boston. As the "Observer" column on page 2 of Sunday's Globe noted, Boston has half the population of San Antonio now. Our collective regional ego alone is not sufficient justification for keeping a big bank HQ in the area.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Primary Season: Helpful or Hurtful?

Broder's new column argues that the Democratic field has no clear leader and thus having the nominee emerge by mid-March puts the party at a disadvantage: "This schedule may be the best possible break for a vulnerable-looking president." By contrast, the AP reports (via Political Wire) that chief Bush strategist Matt Dowd has made public a memo he's circulating that lowers expectations for the president in early '04, claiming "President Bush will likely fall behind in polls to whoever emerges as the Democratic nominee."

My view is that the status of the economy and Iraq in five months will have far more to do with the poll numbers we see than any aspect of the primary schedule.

Rock the Vote Forum Review

I disliked the debate tonight. I find "Rock the Vote" to be pretty condescending to young people, as if those of us under 30 can't follow a campaign unless candidates make music videos to show us. The questioning was weak too, including such gems as asking what John Kerry would do as Red Sox manager, whether the candidates prefer Macs or PCs, whether they had used marijuana and with whom they would most like to party (who would hold your hair back if you got sick? the State Senate aide asked).

The substantive debate covered a lot of familiar territory. All of the papers and newscasts will lead with the testy moments early on when Sharpton and Edwards piled on Dean for his comment on wanting the votes of Southerners who have Confederate flags in their pickup trucks. Sharpton, who has been entertaining in previous debates, was less enjoyable to watch tonight. He's decided to attack Dean hard in order to try to siphon off black support. One of the "damn!" moments of the night came when Dean responded to the Reverdend Al's righteous indignation by pointing out that Jesse Jackson Jr. had endorsed his candidacy (and Jackson Sr. has defended the remark).

John Edwards took a different approach to attacking Dean, saying Dean was being condescending toward the South. Edwards' Southern defensiveness actually reminded me a lot of Zell Miller's interview with Russert this weekend, even though Edwards specifically noted his disagreement with Zell Miller's latest silly comments.

I wrote over the weekend that I thought Dean's remark was stupid, and I still believe that. It showed poor judgment to knowingly court a controversy over the Confederate symbol, which doesn't bode well for the rest of his campaign or a potential Dean presidency. The way he defended the remark tonight also made sense, though. He now says that his point was that Democrats should try to reach out to poor Southern whites in the 2004 election, which is a good idea. I just wish he had stated the point in a straightforward manner, as he did tonight, rather than inviting the attacks over racial insensitivity and patronizing the South as he did via his dumb word choice.

The second most interesting moment was John Kerry's attack on Dean over guns. This actually came in response to a pointed audience question about Kerry's hunting expedition in Iowa this weekend and his apparent need to show off his rifle play for reporters. CNN was showing pictures of Kerry shooting a rifle while Kerry was attacking Howard Dean for being too friendly with the NRA and allegedly opposing an assault weapons ban back in the day. It's hard to take Kerry's gun control message seriously when he seems to feel the need to go around shooting animals for the cameras.

A third good moment was when someone asked Wesley Clark about his acquaintances with gay people and Clark appeared kind of uncomfortable. He totally dodged the issue of don't-ask-don't-tell, saying he thought the policy should be "reviewed."

Luskin Day Postponed

In case you've been wondering what happened to "Donald Luskin is a Stalker Day", it's been postponed at the request of Atrios. See this Neal Pollack post for details (and yes, Neal Pollack is back).

UPDATE: Luskin and Atrios have made up! How bizarre this whole thing has been.

CBS Statement on "The Reagans"

From the network's press release:

CBS will not broadcast THE REAGANS on November 16 and 18. This decision is based solely on our reaction to seeing the final film, not the controversy that erupted around a draft of the script.


Al Sharpton to Host Saturday Night Live

Yes, you read that correctly. The show will be on December 6. NBC is saying it's not a political appearance for fear of falling on the wrong side of equal-time rules for candidates.

Inside Politics from Boston

Inside Politics with Judy Woodruff will be on CNN live from Boston at 3:30 today. Woodruff will be speaking with Bill Richardson and Mayor Tom Menino about the convention.

Edwards on Lessig Blog

John Edwards is guest blogging at Lawrence Lessig's site this week. (Via Oliver Willis)

Dean Talks About Drinking

Via Drudge, I see the New York Daily News has some of the personal details in advance of the publication of Howard Dean's campaign book "Winning Back America":

"Once we were 18, we could indulge in lazy days of 'Baseball and Ballantine,'" Dean writes. "We'd buy some beer and put it in a garbage can of ice and play softball all day long. If you hit somebody's beer with a batted ball, it was an automatic out."

After he got married, "I quit drinking," he writes. "When I drank, I would drink a lot and do outrageous things, and then I wouldn't drink again for a while. I realized that what was very funny when you're 18 is not very funny when you're 30. I had a terrible hangover after my bachelor party, which didn't help. So I quit. Drinking served no useful purpose in my life, and I just got tired of it. I haven't had a drink in over 22 years."

Dean spokesman Jay Carson said that while his candidate violently disagrees with Bush on most things, "He agrees with him that his younger days were his younger days - and he's going to leave it at that."

If Dean's the nominee, does this mean no more making fun of W's reckless youth for lefties?

Not Quite, Mr. Chairman

From Anderson Cooper's interview with RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie on CNN last night:

COOPER: Do you think Democrats made a mistake by being too negative, by being--basically running on the idea that the economy is going to get worse and the war is going to go badly?

GILLESPIE: I do. And I have to say, I think it's, you know... It's almost unseemly. We saw great economic news in the last quarter. And it was... The Democrats acted almost with bitter disappointment that people were starting to get their jobs back.

Actually, despite the high GDP growth rate of 7.2 percent in the third quarter, the economy suffered a net loss of jobs. The Republicans sometimes try to slip statements like this by the public when discussing "recovery" when in fact the most important piece of the picture for most people, employment, remains in bad shape. (program transcript)