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Friday, October 31, 2003

TMQ to Return?

Easterbrook also has this cryptic post about a potential new home for Tuesday Morning Quarterback to be announced soon. (Here's a parody, for those of you going through TMQ withdrawal.)

Bill Simmons, meanwhile, is still writing for Page 2 and has been doing his NBA Preview this week, concluding today. The three parts are here, here and here.

Weekend Sports Preview Post

I've been doing a Friday post on college football for a while now, so I'll just go ahead and make it a regular feature. I'll try to come up with a more catchy name for it.

Before I get on to the college football, I have a few quick notes on other sports. ESPN's college basketball preview is up and the preseason top 25 is out. Connecticut is #1, and Jim Calhoun says he doesn't want to play BC in the future because he's angry BC is joining the ACC. The crap Boston College has been taking for changing leagues is totally hypocritical (especially from Syracuse, which wanted to go just as badly) and hopefully reason can prevail and we can maintain some regional rivalries.

The NFL is good this weekend, as noted in my picks post. Jets-Giants, Cowboys-Eagles and Packers-Vikings help spice things up. HBO also has boxing tomorrow night between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Phillip Ndou.

On the college football front, I would be remiss not to note this Easterbrook post from the other day about the Senate hearing on the BCS and whether it's an illegal system. Easterbrook acts as though Tulane's complaint about not being in the 1999 Fiesta Bowl against Tennessee is the only valid alternative to the current BCS mess. Then there's this misinformed graf:

It's also true that the BCS was designed to freeze out schools like Tulane, by guaranteeing most places in the major bowls to members of the Big Ten and other football-factory conferences. This, in turn, guarantees most bowl money to the football-factory conferences, leaving little for outsiders. But that's just life: Sometimes there's a party down the block and you don't get invited. For Tulane and other schools that play second-tier schedules to complain that they are not treated by the BCS as if they had played a top-tier schedule (Brigham Young University is another perennial complainer on this point) is like the CFL complaining that its champion should meet the NFL champion at the Super Bowl.


The problem here is that the smaller schools want the chance to play schools from the major conferences but they rarely get that opportunity. A playoff fixes the problem by allowing every year's Tulane/Texas Christian a shot at winning a few games and being the national champ at the end of the year. This isn't on the table because the big conference mafia is against it.

Fortunately for them, they still have a damn entertaining product. Last week's Tennessee-Alabama tilt went to five overtimes and was fantastic. Verne Lundquist was wondering aloud how many times the Vols' band had played "Rocky Top" and every time Shaud Williams ran for the Tide I was reminded of his appearance on Da Ali G Show. Good times. Even though they lost, Alabama has to be the best 3-6 team in the country.

This week we get "Survival Saturday", brought to you by the marketing people at ABC/ESPN/Disney. Whatever you call it, it's a hell of a slate of games. Boston gets Michigan-Michigan State followed by Oklahoma-Oklahoma State on ABC tomorrow afternoon. CBS has Georgia-Florida and ESPN has Miami-Virginia Tech tomorrow night.

The Georgia-Florida annual contest is called the "largest outdoor cocktail party in the world" by fans. Not only do I think it's lame to brag about drinking a lot, I think it's inaccurate to call a bunch of football fans downing beers a "cocktail party." The term evokes images of people sipping martinis to me at least.

Georgia and Oklahoma both have revenge on their minds. The Bulldogs' perfect season was spoiled by the Gators a year ago. The Sooners have had their dreams smashed by the Cowboys two years in a row.

I'll be looking for which one of the one loss teams can separate itself from the pack as "the team" that will get the nod for the Sugar Bowl if Oklahoma or Miami should lose. Georgia could pull this off by blowing out Florida, and a strong win by either Washington State or USC in their game could accomplish the same thing. I leave with the latest BCS standings for the data geeks.

Feelin' the Love

First Ben, now Bill Duckwing over at the Apple Coda has thrown me a link today. Duckwing writes:

Links go out to Dimmy Karras and Why I Hate DC for providing excellent diversions from work this week. I really think Dimmy Karras does a great news blog about things I care about, like sports (particularly Boston sports) and some politics. And his comments on my blog have always been thought provoking. I'm a big news junkie, so any blog that actually has news I haven't read anywhere else is a good thing.


As I wrote in his comments, it's nice to know this blog constitutes a diversion from work for someone besides just me.

Tabloid Outs Kobe's Accuser

The Globe tabloid (not the Boston Globe) is running a cover photo of Kobe's alleged rape victim along with her name. Supposedly there's a sexy photo of her hiking up her skirt to reveal a garter at her prom or something. Howie Kurtz is outraged. The New York Post has more.

The whole question of whether the accuser's identity should be revealed was covered ad nauseum three months ago. I wrote this essay on the issue at the time, concluding that the whole argument is irrelevant. (Here's a link to TalkLeft's excellent Kobe page.)

Ask the Democratic Candidates Questions

All next week the Washington Post will be doing live chats with the Democrats running for president.

Mitt Romney Halloween Fun

Ben of Romney is a Fraud has linked here, so welcome to anyone who arrived via that site. In the spirit of Halloween, I'm posting this link, which I found via Romney is a Fraud. It's a blast from the past--actually a year ago--when Mitt Romney dressed up as a normal working person several times during his campaign for governor. Explanation? Mitt really likes Halloween! So go dress him up yourself.

Krugman on GDP

You were wondering how Paul Krugman would manage to have a negative take on the GDP numbers, right? Well, here's how. The two main points are that this quarter of growth is unlikely to be sustained in the coming months and that the Bush tax cuts were still far from the best way to stimulate the economy. The conclusion is that, "it would be quite a trick to run the biggest budget deficit in the history of the planet, and still end a presidential term with fewer jobs than when you started. And despite yesterday's good news, that's a trick President Bush still seems likely to pull off."

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Kozlowski Gone Wild

I'm way overdue posting something about the video of Dennis Kozlowski's $2 million birthday bash for his wife. So here's a link to enjoy.

Convention Traffic Hell in Boston

The Globe reported today on planning that is underway possibly to divert some traffic and close I-93 near the FleetCenter during the convention week next summer. Here's a suggestion for everyone: Do NOT plan on driving in the city during the last week of July 2004. In fact, driving in the city of Boston is usually a bad idea anyway.

Pro Picks, Week 9: Testy, Testy

It often amazes me that the NFL is the greatest sports league we have, it brings in tons of money, and yet there's so much bitching and moaning about every little thing all the time. In a way it's fortunate because it all gives me plenty of fodder for a silly NFL picks column.

For example, Vikings owner Red McCombs called his team an embarrassment after their loss on Sunday. Minnesota is still 6-1. (Realizing his stupidity, McCombs backpedaled from the comments on Monday.) Meanwhile in Atlanta, Dan Reeves is complaining that Michael Vick should come back from injury sooner than he plans. Reeves was hired by previous ownership and may not be long for the Falcons job.

And in Cincinnati, where the team is finally winning some games after an eternity as a league laughingstock (they are seriously one game out in the weak AFC North division), there is now acrimony over pampered running back Corey Dillon. Last week I mocked Dillon in this space for saying he was unhappy and wanted a trade following a big win for the team. Then guess what happens Sunday? Dillon is in a minor car accident, doesn't play, and some guy named Rudi Johnson runs for 100 yards in a win over Seattle. Oops! Looks like you may get your wish, Corey.

And then there's been my incessant bitching about the NFL local TV situation in Boston. The next few weeks, however, promise to be great because we have the Patriots on Monday night, followed by a bye, followed by a Sunday night Pats game. That leaves the Sunday afternoons open to more rational game selections by Fox and CBS. May they choose wisely (I think we get Dolphins-Colts, Redskins-Cowboys and Giants-Jets--not bad).

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

San Diego at Chicago

Hey, I think Drew Brees just threw another interception!

Pick: Bears

NY Giants at NY Jets

Technically, the Giants are the away team in this game. Still, the location of the game is "Giants Stadium." This is really too confusing, so let's move on.

Pick: Jets

Oakland at Detroit

Marques Tuiasosopo makes his first start at quarterback for the Raiders. His name has six syllables and only ten letters. Discuss.

Pick: Raiders

Green Bay at Minnesota

At the risk of being too QB-centric, I'll note that Brett Favre is bad in domes. At least this time around he'll have a hairline fracture in his thumb to blame. That is, unless McCombs' team is just too "humiliated" to show up. I have a feeling they will show, buoyed by the expected return of running back Michael Bennett. (Yes, running backs! Cleveland has a bye, but feel free to make up your own William Green marijuana joke here. Perhaps he was smoking up to soothe the pain of his separated shoulder, which kept him out of the New England game last week?)

Pick: Vikings

New England at Denver

I have bad memories of Monday night games for the Patriots in Denver. Specifically, I remember hurrying to get my homework done so I could enjoy the first game of the post-Super Bowl appearance year in 1997. Drew Bledsoe threw an interception that John Mobley returned for a TD. Nowadays, Drew is doing such things for the Bills, Mobley is out after suffering a scary neck injury last week, and Danny Kanell is being forced to start at QB for Denver due to injury (doesn't Brian Griese look good right about now, Broncos fans?). The Denver injury report actually includes more players than New England's! This could be a bad omen, though, seeing as how the Pats have thrived despite injuries themselves this season.

Pick: Broncos

Cincinnati at Arizona

During the Monday Night Football game in Arizona that was moved there due to the fires in southern California, a fan held a sign up for TV that read, "Any team but the Cardinals" in order to spell out "ABC." This was on the day after Arizona won in overtime against the division-winning team of the last two years, San Francisco. No love in the desert! What a fitting end to this week's catalogue of complaints and bickering in pro football.

Pick: Bengals

Other Games

Miami over Indianapolis, Tampa Bay over New Orleans, Baltimore over Jacksonville, Carolina over Houston, Seattle over Pittsburgh, St. Louis over San Francisco, Philadelphia over Atlanta, Dallas over Washington.

Last week: 10-4
Season Record: 74-42

President Bush's Halloween Fun

EA Video Game Cover Jinx

CNN has a story on a theory that there's a jinx for the football player that graces the cover of the EA Sports NFL game each year. Michael Vick was on the cover this year, and now he says he'll be back from his broken leg in early December.

Tuesday = Luskin is a Stalker Day

Tom Tomorrow has posted word from the man himself, Neal Pollack, that Tuesday is being declared "Donald Luskin is a Stalker Day" in the blogosphere. I haven't been so excited since "Fair and Balanced Day" a few months back.

Neal Pollack is on The Daily Show tonight at 11 on Comedy Central too, so check it out.

PLUS: Pandagon has a great graphic up on the Luskin-Krugman story.

Atrios v. Luskin

The threat against Atrios by Donald Luskin is getting tons of attention in the blogosphere.

LeBron James Debut Deserved the Hype

In a rare case of the hype being well-deserved, LeBron James made his regular-season NBA debut last night with 25 points and 9 assists in Cleveland's loss at Sacramento. Maybe ESPN's gushing is really justified this time around.

Just so I can bash ESPN in this post, though, I'll ask: what was up with the 10:30 start time? We end up missing most of the first quarter when the snoozer between Orlando and the Knicks goes to overtime. Why didn't the league schedule LeBron's debut for the eastern time zone, rather than make everyone stay up late in Cleveland? Madison Square Garden would've been a good place to start too--it should've been Cavs-Knicks in the 8:00 game last night.

(PS: How many people do you think were actually up at 5:30 am watching the Sonics and Clippers live from Japan on NBA TV? It's rough to be a fan of those teams who wanted to see the opener. Isn't it also a disadvantage for Seattle and the Clips that they'll be flying back and tired when they face other teams this coming week?)

The Vietnam Analogy Debate

Maureen Dowd says "Iraqification" won't work any better than Vietnamization did. Tom Friedman, by contrast, argues, "The people who mounted the attacks on the Red Cross are not the Iraqi Vietcong. They are the Iraqi Khmer Rouge." Glad we could clear that up.

Now could we stop wasting time on comparisons to Vietnam and whether they are valid and start discussing what the hell we're going to do about the problems in Iraq?

Ramirez on Waivers

The other big story this morning is that apparently the Red Sox have placed Manny Ramirez on irrevocable waivers. This was unexpected, but now that I think about it I see why the team is giving it a shot. Getting rid of Manny's $100 million plus obligation would help a lot toward signing the other free agents the Red Sox will have after next season, including Garciaparra, Martinez, Lowe, Varitek and Nixon. The Yankees have until 2pm tomorrow to claim Ramirez, and no other team is likely to be willing to commit to a $20 million-plus slugger for the next five years.

No one can accuse the Red Sox management of standing pat, that's for sure.

7.2%

GDP growth in the 3rd quarter was, as expected, quite high. I'm still reading the release and maybe I'll have more later. I'm sure the White House will be talking this up today.

MORE: Interesting line from BEA release: "Current-dollar personal income increased $91.0 billion (4.0 percent)... Personal tax and nontax payments
decreased $100.0 billion (32.1 percent)." The lag in tax payment has a lot to do with this, but so do the tax cuts.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Luskin Accuses Atrios of Libel

This from a man who accuses Paul Krugman of anti-semitism like it's going out of style.

LeBron's Debut

LeBron James plays in his first NBA game tonight at 10:30 on ESPN (where else?). Hype! Hype! Hype!

Bush-Rice '04

This site wants the president to have Condoleezza Rice as his VP in the second term, an interesting version of the theory that he'll dump Cheney. Politics nerds, go wild. (Via Andrew Sullivan)

Broder v. Alterman on Iowa and NH

David Broder calls the NYT "arrogant" for applauding the decision by Lieberman and Clark not to contest Iowa. Eric Alterman says Broder's position makes no sense. Both have a point.

Broder is correct that the people in New Hampshire (I've been there the week prior to a primary, though never to Iowa) do take the process very seriously. They know who the candidates are and try to figure out their positions and what they'd be like as president, which is more than can be said of the people in most other states.

Alterman is correct that Iowa and New Hampshire are not very representative states compared to the country as a whole and it's silly that they have such disproportionate influence over deciding the leader of the free world.

The question we have to ask is whether the engagement in the electoral process we see from citizens in Iowa and New Hampshire is the reason we have them vote first or just a consequence of having them vote first. If the former is the case, keeping the primary system as is makes sense. If the latter is the case, then there's nothing special about these two states other than their place on the calendar. We could have Alabama and South Dakota lead off and then the people in those states would be far more engaged in the process too.

I lean toward the second option. Iowans and NH residents know the candidates because they're holding lots of events throughout the states and bombarding them with TV ads. And they know that their votes actually will be pretty important in the grand scheme of things, so they pay attention. That's why we need a primary system that gives more of a voice to the rest of the country rather than the antiquated system that the parties stick with due to inertia.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

EU-China Trade Summit

I wish our trade leaders had the sense of the EU officials meeting in Beijing for a summit on Thursday. From FT:

The European Union believes China's leaders are determined to meet its World Trade Organisation commitments but will press them to move faster at a bilateral summit in Beijing on Thursday, Pascal Lamy, EU trade commissioner, said on Tuesday

In comments that appeared aimed at distancing the EU from growing US criticisms of China's trade practices, Mr Lamy said in London he was not concerned by the EU's trade deficit of about $50bn a year with China as long as European exports to the Chinese market continued to grow strongly. "We don't feel it's a big systemic problem," he said. "Our numbers are quite different from the US numbers."

Mr Lamy's meetings in Beijing follow a parade of top US officials who warned China that domestic pressure is growing in the US over the trade deficit with China, which topped $103bn last year.

"As usual in our trade policy, we Europeans have a tendency to use a telephone rather than a megaphone," he said.

Saletan Claims Clark Hypocritical on War

Saletan has an interesting Slate column up claiming that Wesley Clark is a hypocrite for criticizing Bush's statements on Iraq because they are similar to what Clark did regarding Kosovo in 1999. Can we now officially call Slate an anti-Clark media outlet? Michael Kinsley's dismissive essay on Clark's supporters from a few weeks ago definitely fits in this category. To be fair, Saletan did defend Clark from Hugh Shelton's gratuitous attack. (I haven't checked for any spin within the profile stuff on Clark.)

Put this on top of the CNN story"Poll: Support for Clark Ebbing" and it's a bad day at Clark HQ. The poll finds Clark drawing 15 percent in the latest national poll, down from 21 percent early this month. Still, he's only a point behind Dean's 16 percent. The article claims more Dems want to back a liberal candidate now than before (39 vs. 27), an interesting trend that helps to explain why relative moderates like Kerry and Edwards voted against the $87 billion, for instance.

Fed Says Employment "Stabilizing"

The Fed's decision to leave interest rates unchanged today was expected, but it was the optimistic statement released today that led to the Dow's 140-point rise. Key line: "the labor market appears to be stabilizing." I'm not sure precisely what "stabilizing" means--unemployment isn't heading up or down, I suppose. In any case, it sounds pretty good. Krugman and Herbert seem not to have received the memo just yet.

CalPundit Luskin Takedown

Kevin Drum nails Donald Luskin for pretending that Paul Krugman wrote in favor of Mahatir's anti-semitism back in '98, and he has the quotes to prove it. Krugman today defends himself vigorously and effectively in his column--I would expect nothing less:

Last week I found myself caught up in that struggle. I wrote about why Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's prime minister--a clever if loathsome man who adjusts the volume of his anti-Semitism depending on circumstances--chose to include an anti-Jewish diatribe in his speech to an Islamic conference. Sure enough, I was accused in various places not just of "tolerance for anti-Semitism" (yes, I'm Jewish) but of being in Mr. Mahathir's pay. Smear tactics aside, the thrust of the attacks was that because anti-Semitism is evil, anyone who tries to understand why politicians foment anti-Semitism--and looks for ways other than military force to combat the disease--is an apologist for anti-Semitism and is complicit in evil.

Yet that moral punctiliousness is curiously selective. Last year the Bush administration, in return for a military base in Uzbekistan, gave $500 million to a government that, according to the State Department, uses torture "as a routine investigation technique," and whose president has killed opponents with boiling water. The moral clarity police were notably quiet.

Celtics Blog

I'm so excited by the start of the NBA season that I've started a new blog on the Boston Celtics. Go check it out for more extensive Celtics commentary and links that I won't bother posting here.

NBA Season Begins

The NBA season officially begins tonight with Suns-Spurs and Lakers-Mavs on TNT. I'm excited. Kobe probably won't play, but he is doing anything but keep a low profile with his new comments calling Shaq fat and claiming he's played with lots of injuries in the past (he was responding to some verbal barbs from Shaq). I'd think he'd want to keep quiet with a rape trial coming up and all. I guess I was wrong.

Bush's Presser

So the president held a press conference today and I missed it. Can't we have some more advanced notice that these will be held so that I actually know to tune in and watch?

Bush had an interesting response to a question on whether the "Mission Accomplished" banner on the aircraft carrier was premature, given the casualties since: "The 'Mission Accomplished' sign, of course, was put up by the members of the USS Abraham Lincoln, saying that their mission was accomplished." This is an interesting new dodge that I don't think I've heard before. Given how obsessive we know this administration is about the image the president projects while speaking, the White House must have known the banner would be there and they certainly did nothing to have it removed.

UPDATE: I see Kos is all over this story.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Grady Little Will Be Fired Today

It's really strange that everyone knows he'll be fired on Monday. I don't think I can remember a situation in which it was so widely expected that a firing of a manager would be coming down. The Sunday Globe had a long article profiling potential replacements, and the topic was also discussed on SportsExtra a little while ago.

Economist on OPEC

Predictably, the Economist does a good job marking 30 years since OPEC's oil embargo in this week's issue. The unhappy conclusion is that we are still vulnerable to the whims of the Saudis.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

TPM in NH

Josh Marshall is considering going to New Hampshire in the run-up to the primary in January to do lots of blogging. He's soliciting donations on his site to make it possible. This would be cool, so go support him.

UPDATE: Now he has plenty of money.

NBA Previews

Read up on the coming NBA season at Yahoo!, SI.com, ESPN.com, CBS Sportsline, Fox Sports, About.com, MSNBC, HoopsHype, Inside Hoops and NBA.com. Good articles at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Houston Chronicle and Peter May's Boston Globe series here and here.

Reagan Movie Update

Maybe I haven't made this clear yet, but you really should be following the bizarre story of the CBS movie on Reagan over at Drudge Report. The latest:

"One shock scene in the final production script for CBS's upcoming telefilm THE REAGANS captures the former president declaring he is the anti-Christ, the DRUDGE REPORT can reveal!"

Debate Review: Al Sharpton Is the Man

Here's tonight's debate transcript in case you missed it. As usual, I enjoyed Al Sharpton's brilliant oratory. He will be on for the full hour of Hardball tomorrow night in the "Battle for the White House" series from Harvard, which should be fun.

What I liked most about Sharpton was that he put the stupid reporters in their place. The reporters asking the questions seemed to think that they were there to participate in the contest rather than just put forward the topics for discussion. I mean really, everyone knew Dennis Kucinich misspoke when he gave the statistic on homicides in Detroit--there was no need for the reporter to grandstand on that point. Sharpton wasn't afraid to say he was angry at the premises behind the questions he faced and to blast the media for not taking regular people seriously or bothering to research his policy views.

And what's up with the Congressional Black Caucus debates being on Fox News twice now? Is this some kind of a joke?

Seriously, the real news of the debate is that Dean escaped unscathed yet again so he should continue to lead. Wesley Clark looked rather uncomfortable still in delivering his talking points.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

WaPo op-ed page

Broder has his Sunday column up in which he cites polling data that say Dean's popularity is based more on his liberal social policy views, such as the Vermont enactment of civil unions, than his anti-war stance. He concludes: "In short, it is cultural forces--far more than anything else--that explain Dean's appeal in New Hampshire, forces that may tug the other way when the race moves to more typical battleground states."

A few problems with this analysis: other candidates have basically the identical view on civil unions, the New Hampshire-specific analysis doesn't account for polling and fundraising success nationwide, and Broder doesn't consider how much Dean's momentum from early wins could affect the primaries on Feb. 3 and after. I think Dean's success comes from being the first candidate to attack the president so visibly and forthrightly about Iraq and everything else. The other candidates' anger has seemed forced as an attempt to replicate Dean's showing. Such a phenomenon, however, is hard to find in a poll.

Also see EJ Dionne's Saturday column (making use of other poll numbers) on the alleged media "filter" on Iraq news:

"This news may contradict the optimistic predictions made by the administration, so I don't blame Bush or his supporters for not liking what they are seeing or reading. But changing the news won't change the situation. Improving the situation will change the news."

He also notes that Fox viewers paradoxically are more likely to think the media coverage of Iraq is worse than reality, and he has some personal stuff about reporting from Lebanon 20 years ago (cameo by Tom Friedman!).

Finally, Sunday's lead editorial is entitled "Speak Up, Mr. Rumsfeld." I like the ending:

"Mr. Rumsfeld might find it useful to say what he really thinks in public from now on. Who knows, maybe someone other than his four top aides will have something valuable to tell him in response."

So much for those who say WaPo's editorials have been shilling for Bush.

From Sunday's New York Times:

"Many Iraqis Find They Like Life Without Hussein"

Damn media filter!

PLUS: Check out the review of Wesley Clark's book "Winning Modern Wars" in which we find this critical graf:

"the general cannot camouflage the partisan thrust of his polemic. His deft review of the battlefield tactics that won Baghdad in less than a month is merely the preface to a bitter, global indictment of George W. Bush. The president and his administration are condemned for recklessly squandering a brilliant military performance on the wrong war at the worst possible time, diverting resources and talent from the pursuit of Al Qaeda, neglecting urgent domestic needs and dissipating the post-9/11 sympathy and support of most of the world."

Now, I haven't read Clark's book, but is it possible he really believes all of this and it's not just a political maneuver? After all, he must have started working on the book well before he announced as a candidate. I wish war criticism were not always dismissed automatically as an effort to discredit Bush.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Weekend TV Sports

The best college football game on TV this weekend, at least on paper, appears to be Auburn-LSU on ESPN tomorrow night at 7:45, which conflicts with the World Series. I'll be watching BC-Notre Dame at noon, the loser of which will have an uphill battle to become bowl-eligible. Today's Globe has a nice article on the ten-year anniversary of BC knocking off #1 Notre Dame in South Bend. Tomorrow's contest has far less in terms of national implications, unfortunately.

Pro Picks Addendum: The Fox people actually aren't smart, as I feared, and the Boston TV market is getting 49ers-Cardinals at 4:00 instead of Cowboys-Bucs at 1:00. Their theory must be that they'll get a better audience by showing a game in the slot that doesn't compete with the Patriots. Isn't there something to be said for showing the better football game, though? And of course, Cards-Niners, a game with two sub-.500 teams, is the only late Fox game this Sunday so we get stuck with it.

Finally, NBA preseason TV continues tonight on ESPN with Rockets-Spurs and Lakers-Kings, which would be a sweet double header in the regular season. I wonder why three LA preseason games have been on national TV? (Kobe was cheered in his exhibition debut in Anaheim last night). NBA.com has all the details on the TV for the start of the regular season next week. I'll post a longer NBA preview over the weekend, with thoughts on Pat Riley's resignation as coach of Miami and much else. In the interim go sign up for Fantasy Hoops.

Boston Convention Update + Volunteer Info

I'll try to write posts periodically about the Democratic Convention planning for Boston 2004. I have submitted my volunteer form electronically and I received a response yesterday saying they are still processing security clearances. This is the first national convention after 9/11, blah, blah...

If you feel like signing up to volunteer for the convention, go to boston04.com or email volunteerinfo@boston04.com. Their phone number is (617) 247-2004 x501. This is a great way to get involved and help propel the Democrats to victory in 2004, especially if you're like me and still undecided on whom to support (basically between Clark and Dean, though I'll support whoever gets the nomination).

Apparently there was a volunteer meeting on October 21 that 130 people attended. I didn't go. There's going to be another one in November some time.

Meanwhile, there seems to be a bit of wrangling over convention planning between the city and the DNC. Or at least that's what the Globe says, but they've been known to make up tension between politicians where none really exists. As long as they can agree to keep the bars open late during convention week, it's all good in my book.

Kucinich Boycotts Hardball

For my daily Atrios citation, I was interested to see this post linking to an article in the Harvard Crimson saying Dennis Kucinich has refused to appear on the Hardball series of shows from Harvard. He claims Matthews is biased.

A lot of the comment thread at Eschaton complains about how Matthews has become a shill for Republicans even though he was an aide to Democrats in his previous life. Regardless of how valid any of this may be, I still would've loved to see a hostile Dennis Kucinich go on the show and put Matthews in his place. It has to be a bit of a problem when Saturday Night Live ceaselessly mocks the blowhards on Hardball, an MSNBC show too, doesn't it?

PS: Was I hallucinating or was John Kerry actually good in his Harvard performance Monday night? I think it's getting repeated by MSNBC tonight.

Pro Picks, Week 8: 'Boys to Men?

As in the Dallas Cowboys, in case you are wondering what my overly-creative headline means. This week they take their 5-1 record to Tampa to see if they are really any good. Despite the media adulation over the turnaround, Bill Parcells continues to claim his team stinks. In truth they have run up a good record against the weak sisters of the league--they're the Virginia Tech of the NFL (sorry, Blacksburg, I gotta kick you when you're down).

Even so, I've seen Parcells pull off some crazy things over the years, and I'll be watching to see if he does again. Fox must be so excited to have this game that they are almost getting over the fact that Joe Millionaire got worse ratings than the WB sitcoms on Monday night. My theory is that people saw so many ads for it during the baseball playoffs that they made the conscious decision to stay away (six of the ten top-rated shows last week were baseball).

I am, of course, assuming here that the local Fox affiliate will have the brains to show the Tampa-Dallas game in Boston. Unfortunately, CBS will be follwoing up the Pats-Browns game with Jets-Eagles as the late game. Gee, I've never seen those teams play before! But really, Chad Pennington's return is sure to be thrilling...

As always, the selections are for recreational purposes only.

Cleveland at New England

Pats tackle Kenyatta Jones has been accused of throwing boiling water on his roommate while the guy was on the toilet. However, even that news shouldn't throw any cold water on the Patriots' recent hot streak! After the Giants slugfest two weeks ago in Foxboro, I was greatly pleased to see a thrilling overtime game last week in Miami; here's hoping the quality viewing continues.

Pick: Patriots

Miami at San Diego

Junior Seau, asked how to slow down LaDainian Tomlinson, said, "You give him watermelon and load him up with fried chicken and tell him to keep eating." No racial intent, claims Seau, who is a pal of Tomlinson's from their time as teammates--they actually used to have fried chicken together every Friday! I really don't know what to do with this one. In any case, the Chargers better hope Tomlinson eats his Wheaties for San Diego to have any shot against Seau and the Fins' stifling D.

Pick: Dolphins

Denver at Baltimore

Danny Kanell will be the Broncos starter at QB. Kyle Boller throws for about 70 yards a week for the Ravens. I'll be interested to see if Jamal Lewis and Clinton Portis can both outgain their respective QBs.

Pick: Ravens

Detroit at Chicago

From John Clayton's First and Ten column: "I'm including this game for amusement only. It could have major ramifications for next year's draft." This column is all about amusement too, so here you go. The big rematch is in another two weeks.

Pick: Bears

Seattle at Cincinnati

Jon Kitna will be looking for revenge against his former team. What a juicy subplot! Meanwhile, Corey Dillon continues to look stupid by asking for a trade just when Cincinnati seems to be improving some after last week's victory.

Pick: Bengals

Other Games

Minnesota over NY Giants, New Orleans over Carolina, St. Louis over Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay over Dallas, Tennessee over Jacksonville, Baltimore over Denver, San Francisco over Arizona, NY Jets over Philadelphia, Indianapolis over Houston, Kansas City over Buffalo

Last Week: 8-6
Season Record: 64-38

Alterman at American Progress

Eric Alterman has the first of a weekly column on media coverage over at the Center for American Progress web site. The center got a lot of pub a few weeks back with an article by Matt Bai in the New York Times Magazine, and their site is pretty impressive. They launched just recently. Check out the home page. (Via Atrios)

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Don Rumsfeld Mask

Why not buy yourself a Rumsfeld mask for this Halloween? That way you can go around pretending to be Rummy, just as the real secretary of defense apparently has been going around in public pretending he thinks the Iraq war is going great.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Muhammad Won't Represent Himself

After a stint as his own lawyer, John Muhammad has decided to have a lawyer represent him. I must say I'm a bit disappointed that we won't be able to watch a crazy man defend himself because the antics would've been interesting. Inside Edition (yes, I confess I watched it) had a story last night on notable self-defenders, including the Long Island commuter train shooter, who claimed the government brought 93 counts against him because it was the year 1993. They also had a clip of Ted Bundy proposing to one of the witnesses during the trial. She actually married him the day of his execution.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Reagan Movie

This is hilarious:

"In the upcoming CBS telefilm on President Ronald Reagan, producers fail to mention the economic recovery or the creation of wealth during his administration, nor do they show Reagan delivering the nation from the malaise of the Jimmy Carter years.

"The film depicts Nancy Reagan as a pill-popping control addict, who set the president's schedule based on her astrologer's advice and who had significant influence over White House personnel and policy decisions."

That's Drudge. Here's NYT.

George Bush and Friends

Wearing silly Malaysian clothes--what else are summits like this for?

Long Live the Culture War

The top three stories on ABC's newscast tonight were the Senate voting to ban partial birth abortion, the Florida legislature voting to keep the vegetable lady alive and the latest on the army officer who made the anti-Muslim remarks. ABC has also been running a big series on health care this week, which I highly recommend. They aren't big fans of managed care (surprise).

Monday, October 20, 2003

Celtics Trade Walker

In a non-surprise, the Celtics have traded Antoine Walker to the Dallas Mavericks, along with Tony Delk, in exchange for Raef LaFrentz, Jiri Welsch, Chris Mills and the Mavs' 2004 first-round draft choice.

Walker was on the block since Danny Ainge arrived as the top basketball operations man for the Celtics. Ainge wanted the Celtics to play a style that didn't fit with Walker, and Ainge had said last year as a TV analyst that he didn't like Antoine's game. The writing was on the wall.

I'm a little sad to see Antoine go because he's been around for seven years and he's been a big part of turning the franchise around. His rookie year (1996-97) he was the Celtics best player on a team that won only 11 games. The Celtics didn't get the top pick that June, having to settle for the #3 and #6 selections, which Rick Pitino botched, as he did many other personnel moves (Little Ricky complained that his plan had been to get Tim Duncan). Fortunately, the Celtics got lucky in 1998 when Paul Pierce fell to them at #10. After a few growing years in which the roster meshed and Pitino left town, the C's finally busted through and made the playoffs in 2002 behind co-captains Pierce and Walker, reaching the East Finals versus New Jersey. The most memorable moment of Antoine's Celtics career will undoubtedly be his emotional speech to his teammates before the fourth quarter of Game 3 of that series, which inspired the greatest comeback in the history of the NBA playoffs. I'll miss the wiggle too.

LaFrentz has a lot of promise but he was disappointing down in Dallas last year. The Celtics are gambling that he'll respond if given more minutes and touches. It will be interesting to see exactly how the Celtics rotations shake out now--will LaFrentz start at center or power forward? The answer may depend on how well Tony Battie has recovered from offseason knee surgery and how much the team gets out of Vin Baker. Welsch, a versatile 6-7 ballhandler, will probably end up getting some minutes at point guard since the Celtics have four small forwards and Pierce at the 2. With Delk gone, Boston has even less experience at point guard than before--they're relying on Mike James, Welsch, and first-round pick Marcus Banks. Mills is widely regarded as a salary cap write-off since he comes off the books at the end of the year, so don't expect to see him in a Celtics uniform ever. The Dallas pick will be at the end of the first round too, so don't expect much from it for next year.

I must say I'm rather puzzled by what the Mavs are doing. They may as well move LaFrentz and Welsch if they aren't going to be used, but Antoine Walker doesn't fill a need for them either. They already have Dirk Nowitzki, Antawn Jamison, Eduardo Najera and Danny Fortson at forward. They must be planning to play Dirk more at center, which is a problematic defensive strategy. Walker may have a hard time adjusting to fewer minutes and shots in Dallas. Delk is a decent fit for the Mavs as he gives them a guard who can score off the bench. He's no Van Exel, but he'll do. In any case, the Mavs should be damn interesting to watch and see how Don Nelson makes up his lineups.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Iowa Caucus News

Both Lieberman and Clark now say they won't participate in the Iowa caucus, which isn't really much of a surprise. I'm happy because this means we'll have fewer candidates taking cynical positions on stupid ethanol subsidies just to try to get votes.

TMQ Fired

According to Oliver Willis, Gregg Easterbrook has been fired by ESPN because of the controversy sparked by Easterbrook's perceived anti-Semitism in his blog post on the movie Kill Bill (he wrote something about how Jewish executives shouldn't be solely concerned with money and shouldn't be promoting violence due to the Holocaust--check Easterblogg link for the details). This means Easterbrook won't be writing his "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" column any more on ESPN.com's Page 2. Unfortunately for him, the incident came up just after the Rush Limbaugh comments, and ESPN is probably trying extra-hard to appear sensitive to everyone these days.

I have no special opinion on the alleged anti-Semitism and Easterbrook's apology. If you're itching to read on this, check out the blogroll--there was a lot of comment on this around the blogosphere the last few days.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Clark "Contenders" Profile in Sunday WaPo

The Washington Post has a profile of Wesley Clark running on page one of the Sunday edition, the tenth in the "Contenders" series on the Democratic presidential candidates. A lot of it is on his clashes with the military leadership, and the Post casts it all in a relatively negative light, especially with his response:

"When pressed about why some of his military peers take such a negative view of him, Clark was by turns baffled and defensive, wounded and defiant. 'How do you think I could have succeeded in the military if everybody didn't like me? It's impossible,' he said. 'Do you realize I was the first person promoted to full colonel in my entire year group of 2,000 officers? I was the only one selected. Do you realize that? . . . Do you realize I was the only one of my West Point class picked to command a brigade when I was picked? . . . I was the first person picked for brigadier general. You have to balance this out. . . . A lot of people love me.'"

Midnight Madness

The usual shenanigans kicked off college hoops practices last night. My personal favorite:

"Michigan State coach Tom Izzo entered the Breslin Center on horseback, dressed as Davy Crockett, symbolizing his desire to lead the Spartans to the 2004 Final Four at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. His players each entered the arena dressed in a costume representing a different stop on the schedule."

Friday, October 17, 2003

Slate

It's nice to see that Michael Kinsley agrees with the sentiments expressed on this blog. Compare his opening two paragraphs with this and this. If you happen to be a reader, Mr. Kinsley, welcome to my humble corner of the Internet, and please cite me next time.

While you're surfing around Slate, I recommend Grady's Whopper and I'm betting "Seth Stevenson Sleeps with Drunk Japanese Businessmen" was not the author's chosen subtitle on the top-displayed article.

Pro Picks, Week 7: Angry at my TV

(Apologies for the delayed posting of this week's pro picks column. The Red Sox are to blame, as usual. Any losses I suffer this week are also Grady Little's fault.)

I tuned in to my local CBS affiliate at 4:00 this past Sunday and I was delighted to see that after inexplicably showing an hour of infomercials and the one-star 1975 comedy "The Black Bird" from 1:00 to 4:00, the station had put on Green Bay-Kansas City for its final moments. I saw Morten Andersen kick a game-tying KC field goal and the contest was heading to overtime. Then suddenly Jim Nantz broke in with the news that "due to our contract with the NFL we cannot show this game beyond the 4:15 window." I was summarily switched to the Meadowlands for the start of a mediocre game between the Jets and Bills.

The Chiefs are 6-0, the only team with six wins in the entire NFL, and thanks to the Boston TV schedule I've seen none of their games. Fortunately, the Chiefs are on Monday Night Football this week versus the ossifying Raiders, but the Fox and CBS schedulers who control the Sunday afternoon games must think that I and other football viewers are pretty darn parochial. Of course we want to see all the Pats games in Boston, but there's really no need to give us the Bills, Jets, Giants, Eagles and Redskins practically every week too at the expense of rarely letting us see any football played outside the northeast corridor.

What's the Fox doubleheader being shown in Boston this Sunday afternoon you ask? Giants-Eagles followed by Redskins-Bills. Perhaps the networks are in cahoots with DirecTV in trying to make me break down and buy NFL Sunday Ticket.

The picks that follow are, as always, for recreational purposes only.

Philadelphia at NY Giants

Now we've learned that Donovan McNabb is struggling because he has an injured thumb, though he's still expected to play this week. The injury news makes all of the race talk sound kind of silly now, doesn't it? Plenty of QBs win some games, get hyped up, and then later struggle statistically due to injuries (ahem, Tom Brady).

Pick: Eagles

Green Bay at St. Louis

Brett Favre is really good in the freezing cold and really bad indoors. Strange guy. (Of course, the SOB made an exception to this rule when he beat New England in the Super Bowl)

Pick: Rams

Denver at Minnesota

Jake Plummer originally hurt his foot in a game two weeks ago but he only broke it when he was getting up from the couch in his house. As Max Kellerman noted on Around the Horn yesterday (not that I watch that show...), "Lesson: Never get up off the couch!"

Pick: Vikings

New Orleans at Atlanta

Kurt Kittner will get his first start at QB, replacing the struggling Doug Johnson. The Falcons lost 36-0 on MNF to a Rams team that is still without Marshall Faulk. Look out below!

Pick: Saints

San Diego at Cleveland

The Chargers have had some tough seasons lately in which they started the season strong but ended with a string of losses. This year the team is not putting its fans through any such agony--they're losing games right from the start!

Pick: Browns

Kansas City at Oakland

The Raiders have two wins, both coming at home and by three points over Cincinnati and San Diego. They somehow were the AFC champions last season. Even Rich Gannon, last year's NFL MVP, is available on the waiver wire in my fantasy league, for Christ's sake.

Pick: Chiefs

Chicago at Seattle

The Bears will be starting 54-year-old veteran Chris Chandler in place of Kordell Stewart this week. For Chicago's sake, I hope Rex Grossman catches on quickly.

Pick: Seahawks

New England at Miami

It seems like a ritual that every season the Patriots lose in Miami early in the year and then beat Miami in Foxboro in December. At least this game won't be played in the swamp-like conditions of last week's Pats-Giants contest in Foxboro. Tom Brady completed one pass in the first half, and yet the Patriots led 7-3 at halftime. The NFL should destroy all evidence the game was played. Now do you understand why "The Black Bird" pissed me off so much?

Pick: Dolphins

Other Games

Carolina over Tennessee, Baltimore over Cincinnati, Dallas over Detroit, NY Jets over Houston, Tampa Bay over San Francisco, Washington over Buffalo

Last Week: 11-3 (I'm hot; maybe I should pick against the spread if this keeps up to give myself more of a challenge)
Season Record: 56-32

Chicago Sun-Times Defends IDing Cub Fan

Via Sportsfilter I see that the Chicago Sun-Times is defending naming Steve Bartman in its pages as the guy who went after the infamous foul ball. This is the same paper for which Bob Novak works, and he revealed the name of a CIA operative. Which outing do you think put the named individual in greater danger?

NY Post Baseball Editorial Gaffe

They printed an editorial today about how the Yankees lost to the Red Sox. If only! (Via Atrios)

Krugman and the Democratic Primary

The Dems have been having a fight for a while now on whether to roll back the entirety of the Bush tax cuts or to keep in place the tax cuts for the middle class while getting rid of only the cuts for the rich. I've been wondering where Paul Krugman stands on this one for a while and today we get the answer:

"Those who want to restore fiscal sanity probably need to frame their proposals in a way that neutralizes some of the administration's demagoguery. In particular, they probably shouldn't propose a rollback of all of the Bush tax cuts."

He goes on to say that the Bush campaign will be able to point out a few selective families that actually will have significant tax increases if the whole package gets repealed. This is certainly a challenge that a Dean or Gephardt would face, but Krugman doesn't address what I think is Dean's strong retort: that state fees, property taxes, etc. have gone up just as much or more for most working Americans, and the weak economy has definitely hurt people more than they've gained from the tax break.

Furthermore, proposing tax hikes for some while leaving others' tax cuts intact risks a muddled message. Candidates like John Kerry sound like they're trying to have things both ways to make everyone happy (not that he has that problem on any other issue!). Kerry, Lieberman and Edwards also implicitly give the president credit for helping out middle class people by leaving that part of the tax cut alone, which probably hurts their overall message.

Plus, the "class warfare" rallying cry could be just as damaging as those "typical families" Krugman is concerned about on the demagoguery front. And Krugman himself admits that even repealing the whole package won't be enough to restore the long-term fiscal solvency of the federal government.

I say Democrats should back getting rid of the Bush tax cuts in their entirety. It's the responsible course to take given the economic disaster the Bush administration has been and it's politically feasible to sell voters on a return to the tax code of the 1990s boom.

In Memoriam

This period of blogging silence has been in memory of the 2003 Boston Red Sox.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Steve Bartman Hoax on SportsCenter

So I'm watching the 6:00 SportsCenter and Dan Patrick is interviewing a guy on the phone, supposedly Steve Bartman, the Cubs fan from the infamous foul ball incident. He's going on about how he's received death threats, etc. and Patrick asks if he'll be able to continue living in Chicago. The response from "Bartman" is, "Do you like Howard Stern's butt cheeks?" A long pause ensues from Patrick, then he says, "We've been had," and he throws to commercial. I wonder if they'll be showing the clip on their Christmas Eve show?

Dumb Things People Say

I haven't been writing this feature at all lately after pledging to report extensively on dumb things said by public figures. My deepest apologies. Let's kick this installment off with Mahatir Mohamad, the PM of Malaysia, at today's summit of Muslim leaders:

Jews rule the world by proxy... 1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews.

Anti-semitic, yes, but at least he spoke out against suicide bombings in the same speech! See, he's simply advocating the non-violent hating of Jews, which would at least be some progress.

While I'm on the topic of religion, the Pope is throwing a big party to celebrate his 25 years as pontiff, and he said this today:

He (God), while knowing my human fragility, encourages me to respond with faith... and he invites me to assume the responsibilities that he himself has entrusted to me.

In short, that means God wants him to be Pope. Perhaps this is a veiled message to those people who say he's too frail and should step down. I personally have long believed the Pope should be hanging out in a nursing home somewhere nice rather than traveling the world propped up in his various go-carts.

Finally, a belated mention of Warren Sapp, who recently drew a parallel between the NFL's prohibition of his actions that incite opponents (such as skipping through their warmups) and slavery:

It's a slave system. Make no mistake about it, slave master says you can't do it, then don't do it.

Sapp makes more than $5 million per season.

Meeting of the Minds

Bush and Schwarzenegger have a get together scheduled for today in California. Some people have been speculating that Bush will help Arnold deal with the budget mess in the state by offering federal money, but Treasury Secretary John Snow indicated that might not be the case in an interview with CBS Marketwatch yesterday. "I'm sure we'll listen to him, but you know California's problems are basically California's own problems. I think California is going to have to solve its own problems rather than turn to the Treasury of the United States," said Snow.

Hillary 2004 Update

Tim Noah at Slate has a helpful update on the Republican fantasy of a Hillary Clinton candidacy for president in 2004:

Having previously established to its satisfaction that Hillary is a candidate, the right is now knocking her for running a lousy campaign! Our text is an Oct. 13 dispatch on the Fox News Web site, headlined, 'Clock Ticking for a Hillary Presidential Bid.' The report notes that Hillary has dithered so long that 'the drop-dead date has already passed' for a plausible candidacy. Stupid bitch!

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Good News from the Fed

The new Fed Beige Book released today by the regional Federal Reserve banks paints a positive picture of the national economy. Still the stock markets are down slightly as of this writing. I bet they tick up in the next 30 minutes.

As I read the report, I see that one of the major negatives in the economy persists despite the other good news: "Manufacturing employment exhibited modest gains in some districts, but in most was stable or declining."

Kobe Case Judge Makes Right Call

The judge in the Kobe case has made the sensible decision to allow testimony on the accuser's sexual history in the preliminary hearing, as I have been arguing for in recent days. There are some graphic details coming out now that sound like very good news for the defense. Still it's probably nowhere close to enough to prevent a trial from going forward. To quote Drudge: Developing...

PLUS: The talking heads on cable news discussing the case seem about as partisan as the political guests that come on to defend the Republicans and Democrats. The defense attorneys always support Kobe's side, and the prosecutors always back the Colorado DA's office. I never realized the extent of kinship that defense attorneys and prosecutors apparently have with one another.

Feinstein's Anti-Immigrant Stance

I agree with the Wall Street Journal editorial criticizing Dianne Feinstein for trying to reduce the number of H-1B visas in an ill-considered attempt to boost US employment. The episode is interesting because of the many Democratic efforts during the recall campaign to try to paint the Republicans as anti-immigrant, and here we see the most popular Democrat in the state trying to cut the number of high-skill immigrants.

Cubs Fan Blunder

Here's a wire story on the Cub fan who tried catching a foul ball along the line and may have cost his team a spot in the World Series. His name isn't public thus far. He must be hoping it stays that way. ESPN has a video clip of the incident and analysis from the BBTN crew.

NYT Op-Eds and the Apocalypse

The Times op-edders are offering up some scary stuff these days. Here's a bit of Kristof's Wednesday column:

"So my fear is that we will now compound our mistake of invading Iraq by refusing to pay for our occupation and then pulling out our troops prematurely... In that case, Iraq would last about 10 minutes before disintegrating into a coup d'etat or a civil war... If that happens in Iraq, American credibility will be devastated, Al Qaeda will have a new base for operations, and Iraqis will be even worse off than they were in the days of Saddam Hussein."

And there's also Krugman's Tuesday column:

"There is now a huge structural gap--that is, a gap that won't go away even if the economy recovers--between U.S. spending and revenue. For the time being, borrowing can fill that gap. But eventually there must be either a large tax increase or major cuts in popular programs. If our political system can't bring itself to choose one alternative or the other--and so far the commander in chief refuses even to admit that we have a problem--we will eventually face a nasty financial crisis."

It's nice to see that the scare tactics perfected by the Bush administration are now being used by some of my favorite liberal columnists.

Kobe Case Smear Tactics

The prosecutors are complaining that Kobe's lawyers tried to smear the alleged victim with a pointed question about her possible sexual history during last week's portion of the preliminary hearing (the hearing resumes Wednesday in Colorado). The major problem with making this argument is that the defense wanted the preliminary hearing to be closed to the public from the start. Thus the argument that the defense was deliberately calculating all along to put out publicly these insinuations that the accuser was sleeping with lots of men falls apart.

The rape shield law is well-intentioned, but the defense also has to be allowed to offer alternative possible explanations for the wounds the accuser sustained.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Fox Misses Ramirez HR

When Fox came back from commercial for the bottom of the fourth inning of the ALCS game 5 this afternoon, Manny Ramirez was circling the bases. He had homered on the first pitch of the inning while Fox was still showing a promo for its local newscast here in Boston. If you thought Fox was catching hell so far over its crappy coverage, wait until the postgame uproar over this one.

(I haven't participated in the Fox-bashing in this space mostly because it's too easy--the brother of a Yankee player is a game analyst, for instance. I listen to the radio and watch the TV with the sound down, so at least I heard Manny's homer live).

Enough with the Variants on Terminator!

From a CNN article on the Bush-Schwarzenegger meeting Thursday:

"'By the time I'm through with this whole thing, I will not be known as the Terminator; I will be known as the Collectinator,' Schwarzenegger said on the stump."

Good Reads

David Brooks, it pains me to say, has a very good column today in the New York Times. Taking a break from his whining about angry liberals, he offers up an ode to the northeast with reference to the Yankees-Red Sox series:

"It's interesting, for example, to turn and watch Yankee and Red Sox fans as they watch a game. As the game goes on, they almost never display pleasure, contentment or joy. Instead, during the game they experience long periods of contempt interrupted by short bursts of vindication."

As they say in the blogosphere, read the whole thing!

I also recommend Matthew Yglesias on "Why We Celebrate Columbus Day", the entirety of which I will paste below:

"The president's remarks:

"'The faith of the Italian-American community in God is an important part of our nation's fabric. The faith in family, the love of life and the commitment to our country are great gifts. Italian Americans share those gifts generously. And that is why we celebrate Columbus Day.'

"I thought it had something to do with the discovery of America."

And finally, look over the nifty new blog features at the re-jiggered Daily Kos.

Monday, October 13, 2003

Bush and the Media Filter

Bush complained last week that the "filter" of the news media was blocking positive developments from reaching Americans, and he opened the public-relations offensive to present an alternative view.

--MSNBC today


HUME: How do you get your news?

BUSH: I get briefed by Andy Card and Condi in the morning. They come in and tell me. In all due respect, you've got a beautiful face and everything.

I glance at the headlines just to kind of a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves.

--Bush interview with Fox News' Brit Hume, September 22, 2003

Baseball Ratings Up

Fox is happy that the baseball playoffs are getting much better ratings than a year ago. I'm pleased that people are tuning in, but I don't like that the stupid notion that the Cubs and Red Sox are somehow "cursed" appears to have a lot to do with it. I would prefer people be tuning in because the games are exciting. Alas, I guess Fox knows what it's doing by ramming the damn "curse" coverage down viewers' throats, much as it all annoys me.

Kucinich Announces

Dennis Kucinich has officially announced his candidacy for president. His site links to this recent article from The Hill about the candidate's outreach to the hip-hop artists and fans. Interesting tidbits include the news that, "In November, Kucinich plans a 'Representin’ Tour' to reach hip-hop communities in 75 cultural hot spots in 200 cities."

BC Joins the ACC

Boston College has agreed to join the Atlantic Coast Conference in a move that will prove a bit disruptive to the rituals of the BC sports fan. I will miss the basketball rivalries the most, especially the UConn games every year and the Big East Tournament each March in Madison Square Garden. It will be hard to get as excited for games against Clemson and Georgia Tech as it has been to get pumped for contests with other schools from the northeast.

Financially and strategically the decision makes sense--that's why BC's administrators decided so quickly. The ACC will be a better league now that it has pillaged the top football schools from the Big East. Having two divisions in a 12-team league with a football championship game will produce more revenue. This has to be counterbalanced with the fact that BC would have been a conference championship contender in football in a weakened Big East while it will struggle to be in the middle of the pack in an ACC that includes Miami, Florida State and Virginia Tech. Even so BC will probably remain in the Big East until 2006, meaning that the 2004 and 2005 seasons will be chances for BC to get into a BCS bowl game without having to beat out Miami and Virginia Tech, who join the ACC in 2004. After 2006, the Big East may no longer be a BCS player anyway (it's hard to predict the future with the rumors of Big East expansion to include various schools flying about and the BCS having its own future in question after its current contracts expire).

The bottom line is that BC is sacrificing some of the regional traditions and opportunities for winning more conference games in order to join a better conference and improve the economics of its Athletic Department. The change puts Boston College on the track toward improving the national reputation of its sports program--hardly the result envisioned in a Globe column a few months ago predicting that in ten years BC would resemble Holy Cross. There are perks that come along with this for BC fans (more national TV, better athletes recruited, superior amenities, more games with high-stakes implications), which in time will prove enough for most people to offset the loss of some favorite rivalries.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Limbaugh's Addiction

Newsweek puts Rush Limbaugh on its cover this week with a profile that makes him look like a sad, pathetic individual. A lot of people on the left are enjoying watching Rush's downfall, and righties complain that this shows their cruelty. I find myself in the middle, both feeling sorry for Rush and happy he has been bumped off his pedastal.

First off, addiciton to drugs is a serious problem, one I would wish on no one. I hope Limbaugh recovers successfully. At the same time, I hope that this experience makes Rush Limbaugh more compassionate toward the struggles that millions of people face with substance abuse. He has made several statements in the past that were insensitive toward addicts, and maybe experiencing addiction himself will make him a more enlightened commentator.

It's unlikely that Limbaugh will lose his audience, but his influence will undoubtedly be diminished somewhat. As a Democrat, I find this to be a good thing. Just as liberals rejoice when a conservative figure loses credibility, conservatives rejoice when liberals suffer a similar fate, and such rejoicing is legitimate. There is a reasonable calculation to be made about how events will affect national politics and policy: a less influential Rush Limbaugh diminishes one of the strongest spokesmen for the conservative agenda, which makes future outcomes of national debates more likely to be to my liking. My hope is that the happiness with regard to this event confines itself to the hypocrisy that has been exposed and the political ramifications, without deteriorating into gloating about the suffering of a human being, as has probably been the case with some on the left.

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Media Hypocrisy re: Pamela Mackey (Kobe Case)

All of the legal commentators are crawling out of the woodwork to slam Pamela Mackey, Kobe's lead attorney, for her aggressive tactics during Thursday's preliminary hearing. The media, after months of reporting every salacious detail/rumor of the case, now apparently find Mackey's use of the accuser's name and insinuation about her sleeping around too hot to handle.

The anonymity issue is a non-issue. Do you think any of the reporters watching the hearing had not actually heard the accuser's name before Mackey uttered it six times in court? The name has been in newspaper editorials, on talk radio, and on tons of web sites. Anyone who wants to know who the accuser is can. If Mackey was not obeying court orders, fine, but don't act like she's ruining the girl's life by saying her name.

The question about sex with three different men over three days is rather dirty, yes, but the defense needs to be able to ask about other possible explanations for the accuser's injuries. She has accused Kobe of being a vicious sexual predator, after all, and now he can't insinuate she's a slut? Anyway, I bet Mackey probably has something to back up the suggestion that the accuser was engaging in lots of activity that could explain her physical condition.

This is a rape trial, people. It's not a dispute over a parking ticket, and, as we've all known for a while, it will get ugly.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Barney Frank on Iraq Spending

The ever-pugnacious and always-intelligent Barney Frank writes in today's Boston Globe that he won't approve President Bush's proposed spending for Iraq without some rollback of tax cuts:

"We should be undoing tax cuts to produce far more than $87 billion. Even before the $87 billion request, the Bush policies were slated to add $1 trillion to the national debt in fiscal years 2003 and 2004 alone. But at the very least, the president ought to be willing to join us in paying for the consequences of his policy in Iraq by cutting back on the excesses of his fiscally irresponsible and socially inequitable tax reductions.

"I will vote to meet America's obligations in Iraq even though I thought we were wrong to incur them. But I will not do so at the expense of important domestic social and economic needs. Forcing Congress -- and America -- to make such a choice will be damaging and divisive, and President Bush should stop insisting that we do."

As usual, Frank (my Congressman, incidentally) proposes something that is right but difficult to achieve. I will be curious to see if he can actually rally some forces in the Congress to join him in insisting on tax changes to fund the war expense.

College Football

I haven't written anything about college football in the last few weeks, but I am compelled to break my silence with this upcoming weekend of terrific games. The last few weeks haven't really excited me because we haven't had any major tests of national contenders.

That all changes tomorrow with Miami at Florida State at noon and Oklahoma vs. Texas (in Dallas) at 3:30, ABC's best TV doubleheader of the year. Of course game two has to coincide with baseball, leading me to wear out the remote.

The consensus seems to be that Miami is in trouble after losing RB Frank Gore. This conclusion appears reasonable after Gore's replacement, Jarrett Payton (yes, son of Walter) struggled in the second half of the West Virginia game last Thursday night, nearly leading to a Hurricanes defeat. I'm not so fast to cast Miami aside, however. They will be motivated to play their best football this weekend, and they have a lot of pride in not losing a regular season game since early in the 2000 campaign. FSU isn't a perfect team either, remember--they nearly dropped a home game to Georgia Tech a month ago. And if it comes down to a last-second field goal...

Texas probably is as big an underdog to Oklahoma as they have been the last few years. Expectations can be a funny thing, though. Perhaps the lower expectations can allow Texas to approach the Sooners more freely, though I'm told Longhorns faithful are still on Mack Brown's case, regardless of all evidence that Oklahoma is just better this year.

Also on Saturday night, Ohio State plays its first road game of the year at Wisconsin (9:00, ESPN), and this could be the end of the road for the Ohio State Luckeyes. The Badgers aren't as good as OSU--a loss to UNLV proves that--but OSU is going to lose eventually. They barely held on at home against some mediocre teams, and being on the road may be enough to end their streak.

Krugman Making Waves

Kevin Drum believes Krugman's column today is a direct response to the David Brooks column of a few weeks ago saying that liberals should calm down with their Bush hatred. It will be interesting to see if a feud develops between these two on the NYT editorial page.

Also, Brad DeLong convincingly rebuts Arnold Kling's Krugman critique (I discussed Kling's TCS "open letter" earlier in the week) by way of discussing Larry Lindsey's blatant lies on steel tariffs. Readers hash it out in a long comment thread.

Upset!

Shirin Ebadi wins the Nobel peace prize over the likes of JPII and Havel. She's a lawyer in Iran.

Pope Nobel Speculation

As mentioned yesterday on this site, the Nobel peace prize will be announced in a few hours and the Pope is rumored as a possible recipient. His selection would cause an uproar in the US.

Conservatives would bash the Nobel committee as a bunch of weak-kneed leftists who are just taking a swipe at their just war in Iraq (Yasir Arafat even won a Nobel peace prize, you know!). Liberals, meanwhile, would be upset if the committee chooses to honor an outspoken opponent of gay marriage who spent his meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury last weekend making his case (Henry Kissinger even won a Nobel peace prize, you know!). Americans who are not necessarily of either political persuasion would also be upset over the pope's perceived inaction in the face of the child sexual abuse scandal in the US Catholic church.

Maybe these controversies are why the Nobel committee may end up going with Vaclav Havel instead.

Bad News for Free Traders

The front page of the Wall Street Journal trumpets the rise of a new anti-free trade coalition that includes increasing numbers of white-collar professionals:

"A new anti-free-trade movement is emerging in the U.S., comprising highly skilled workers who once figured they would be big winners in the globalized economy but now see their white-collar jobs moving overseas in growing numbers.

"The new opponents to lowering trade barriers are especially vocal, and their complaints already are getting the attention of Congress and the White House. Their concerns got an unexpected boost Thursday when Intel Corp. Chairman Andy Grove, a pioneer in the American high-tech industry, warned that the U.S. could lose the bulk of its information technology jobs to overseas competitors in the next decade, largely to India and China...

"The new free-trade opponents include design engineers, skilled machinists, information-technology experts, and chief executives of specialized manufacturing concerns, among others. They long believed they were largely protected from foreign competition because of their advanced degrees, English language skills and the supposed necessity of dealing face-to-face with customers. But now they worry their jobs are at risk.

"At the focus of their ire are big U.S. companies that have shifted business to China and India, which are becoming increasingly successful at nabbing service, information technology and high-end manufacturing work that until recently have been the preserve of U.S. firms. Companies seeking to lower their costs have either moved operations abroad or have contracted with foreign companies to supply essential services."

The current economic atmosphere and the looming election season do not bode well for a more open US trade policy in the forseeable future. People are anxious about job loss and thus unlikely to have patience with arguments about the benefits of open trade. My hope is that a politician emerges with the honesty and skill to preserve the open trading system even as it is under attack, but that politician has yet to arrive on the scene.

Ruiz's Return

John Ruiz is finally putting his messy divorce behind him and preparing to get back in the boxing ring. He'll face Hasim Rahman on December 13 in Atlantic City. The fight is part of a card that will also include Bernard Hopkins and Ricardo Mayorga, and it will air on HBO pay-per-view.

Seeing Ruiz get destroyed by Roy Jones in March was disheartening to a lot of locals who have followed the rise of John Ruiz to prominence as a heavyweight. We now know much more about how much his marriage troubles were weighing on him at the time and how bad a mental state he was in for the challenge of facing Jones. Now he takes on the journeyman Rahman, who briefly held a belt before being avenged by Lennox Lewis, and the winner may well get a shot at Jones after that.

I don't think John Ruiz will ever beat Roy Jones, even if he's in the right state of mind and well prepared. However, I hope Ruiz gets another shot at Jones so that he can at least give himself the chance to go out by showing the toughness and grit he's demonstrated throughout his career. Ruiz has meant a lot to the people in this area and we'd like to see a more dignified exit.

Mumia News

Mumia Abu-Jamal is now an honorary citizen of Paris. Unlearned Hand is not pleased, and he has the details.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Tawdry Kobe Details

Pro Picks, Week 6: Quick Picks

I'm being lazy since the Red Sox game starts soon. Hence there will be no lengthy intro to this week's selections. I'm taking a bye just like the Bengals, Chargers and Lions this week. Then again they usually take the other weeks of the season off too.

I hope that my picks listed below, which as always are for recreational purposes only, add to your enjoyment of this weekend's football.

Kansas City at Green Bay

Can we stop all of the Dante Hall for MVP talk? We've played five weeks so far, and from now on nobody will be kicking to the guy. I don't understand why the Chiefs are the best team in the league in everyone's estimation if they needed to be saved by returns for TDs both of the last two weeks. Plus, there were about a dozen clipping penalties not called during his return against the Broncos. I had a joke somewhere...

Pick: Chiefs

Atlanta at St. Louis

ABC must really be looking forward to their Monday Night Football matchup of Michael Vick and Kurt Warner.

Pick: St. Louis

NY Giants at New England

As if New York and New England fans needed another reason to hate each other this weekend.

Pick: Patriots

Miami at Jacksonville

Jags punter Chris Hanson is out after gashing his leg with an axe that coach Jack Del Rio had placed in the locker room for motivational purposes. Do I really need to add a punchline to this one? Why not just booby-trap the entire team facility, coach?

Pick: Dolphins

Tampa Bay at Washington

Warren Sapp has now got both the NFL mad at him for skipping through opponents' warmups and LaVar Arrington threatening him if he lines up on offense. I guess that's how the Bucs' defense stays in the news after giving up 38 points last week. Meanwhile, Keyshawn Johnson, who dissed Marvin Harrison's short receptions while "miked up" on MNF, is doubtful with a case of foot-in-mouth disease.

Pick: Tampa Bay

Baltimore at Arizona

In a similar vein, Emmitt Smith is sitting out not just with a bad shoulder but also with a bruised ego following his six carry, -1 yard homecoming to Dallas last week. Ravens-Cards--the battle of the birds!

Pick: Baltimore

Other Games

Tennessee over Houston, Indianapolis over Carolina, New Orleans over Chicago, Cleveland over Oakland, Philadelphia over Dallas, Denver over Pittsburgh, Buffalo over NY Jets, Seattle over San Francisco

Last Week: 10-4 (Including a loss for Indy-Tampa, which I inadvertently did not include a pick for, because I would've gone with the Bucs, who folded like a lawn chair in the closing minutes.)
Season Record: 45-29

MoveOn Plays the Plame Game

MoveOn.org is sending out witty emails to members with an affidavit that can be signed affirming you are not the leaker. The subject line reads "Help President Bush" which certainly caught my eye, considering the source. The message also includes the following:

On finding Osama Bin Laden in Central Asia:
"We're going to hunt them down one at a time. . . it doesn't matter where they hide, as we work with our friends we will find them and bring them to justice."
--President George W. Bush, 11/22/02

On finding Saddam Hussein in the Mideast:
"We are continuing the pursuit and it's a matter of time before [Saddam] is found and brought to justice."
--White House spokesman McClellan, 9/17/03

On finding the leaker in the close confines of the White House:
"I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. I don't have any idea."
--President George W. Bush, 10/7/03

Bryant Hearing

I just checked and the thing is going forward but behind closed doors, not on TV. There will be comments from some of the people involved when they leave the courthouse. Visit TalkLeft for good coverage.

Even though there's nothing to report right now, the cable channels are blathering on about it anyway. MSNBC just had Jerry Nachman commenting on the question "Is it good for the Lakers if Kobe Plays?" Who better than Jerry Nachman to discuss the locker room dynamics of a pro sports team?

How Does He Know?

Bush's New Hampshire speech today contained a repeat of the president's contention earlier this week that Iraq was in better shape than the media would have us believe. But how does he know that? He admitted to Brit Hume that he doesn't read the newspapers or watch the TV news; he just hears what his advisors tell him. Where does he come off being a media critic then?

RSS Feed

The RSS is back (Blogmatrix icon link under "About") for the -3 people out there who want to read the site in that format. It's been MIA since the re-design.

With the recall and baseball playoffs I've been watching lots of TV and not reading much lately, hence the one-liners I've been serving up the last few days. Substance coming soon...

Red Sox Mania

For those of you who aren't in the Boston area currently, I think this tidbit encapsulates the hysteria: there is a song on the radio, "Yankees Suck", which is done to the tune of the New Kids on the Block's "Hangin' Tough."

Nobel Peace Prize

MSNBC notes the Nobel peace prize winner will be announced at 5am eastern time on Friday. The favorites appear to be the pope and Vaclav Havel. I say we have them mud wrestle and the winner gets the prize.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Luskin on Kling's Krugman Critique

Donald Luskin's latest "Krugman Truth Squad" effort at NRO says Arnold Kling's open letter to Krugman, about which I commented yesterday, is incorrect in characterizing the country's "most dangerous liberal pundit." You see, Krugman doesn't just impugn the motives of some conservatives, he actively deceives his readers. Glad we could clear that up.

NHL Opens

I don't follow hockey until the playoffs because everyone makes the playoffs and home ice doesn't usually mean much anyway. Hence, I will not be entertaining readers with bizarre remarks about the Bruins this winter. They open tonight against the Devils, who won the Stanley Cup last season after trouncing the B's in the first round. And no one in Boston is even going to watch the game because of the ALCS.

Democratic Debate Drinking Game

Details at Slate. I will be watching baseball tomorrow night instead, so you'll have to do without my marveling at candidates' bladder control this week.

Dumb Comment of the Day

The winner is Maryland first lady Kendel Ehrlich who joked that she wanted to shoot Britney Spears. She did this at a forum on domestic violence.

"Really, if I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would," said Ehrlich. Then she laughed.

The Important Recall Numbers

With 99.4% of precincts reporting:

Larry Flynt 15,184
Gary Coleman 12,565
Mary Cook 9,889
Bill Simon 7,769
Leo Gallagher 4,791
Angelyne 2,247

Yes, I know, Bill Simon dropped out, but I still enjoy seeing that he got fewer votes than the likes of Flynt, Coleman and the porn actress. Full results here.

Nobel Prize in Economics

The winners are Robert Engle and Clive Granger for their work on time series statistical methods. Brad DeLong had rumored earlier that Paul Krugman and Jagdish Bhagwati might win for their contributions to trade theory, which would have been fun because of the reactions from the right, but it didn't happen.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Bush Campaign Blog

Here it is. (Via CalPundit)

Krugman Critique at TCS

Arnold Kling, an MIT econ Phd, has an open letter to his former professor Paul Krugman posted over at Tech Central Station. He makes the familiar accusation (similar to the Beinart book review discussed here and here) that Krugman uses arguments about his opponents motives rather than arguments about the consequences of the policies they promote. I have two responses.

First, Kling is simply wrong to imply that Krugman doesn't argue policy positions on the merits. He does a lot of exactly that.

Second, Kling seems upset that Krugman would refer to motives at all. He doesn't seem to realize that these are op-ed columns we're talking about, not articles in the economics journals. Paul Krugman is not solely responsible for the decline of civilized policy discussions in this country either.

Krugman isn't always correct in his political assessments, but he shouldn't be banished from making them. He fills an important role in the national dialogue by highlighting the administration's dishonesty.

Graham's Departure

If you feel like reading sad remarks by campaign staffers--and you know you do!--check out the Graham for President blog.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Thought on Sunday's NFL Games

I was as happy to see Mike Cloud score two TDs for the Pats as anyone, but can we stop all of the "get off of my cloud" and "cloud nine" references? Please?

While I'm on the topic of people returning from violating the league's substance abuse policy, it was nice to see Ed Hochuli back officiating the Redskins-Eagles game.

Somehow in my pro picks columns the last two weeks I have failed to mention both Kurt Warner's wife calling in to talk radio to demand a trade and Sebastian Janikowski's bar fight. I regret the omissions.

Altercation on Beinart/Krugman

Charles Pierce, guest-blogging for the atoning Eric Alterman, writes at Altercation a much more forceful version of my critique from late last night of Peter Beinart's "Great Unraveling" review in Sunday's NYT book section here:

"Peter Beinart is one of those liberals for whom I wish we still had some use. I mean, he's smart. He's prolific. He's completely sincere, and he's really terrible on television--which, given the ignorami who seem to prevail in our media/political culture, I consider a great recommendation for both his intellect and his character. But, boy howdy, reading his review of the Krugman collection in yesterday's TIMES, the man sounds like he's spent the last 15 years floating amid the moons of Neptune. Consider this passage:

"'Guest lists that cross ideological lines can help liberals understand the conservatives they write about. And many Washington conservatives genuinely don't see the Bush administration as radical: they see it as having ratified a big-spending, culturally liberal status quo.'

"Breathtaking, isn't it? I mean, where does one begin? It isn't like the conservative agenda is hard to discern; when Grover Norquist says he wants to strangle government in his bathtub, he isn't speaking metaphorically. He means it. Tom DeLay doesn't speak in code, and he runs the House of Representatives. The people who've our current foreign policy up on the rocks have plotted the course in public--and, occasionally, in Mr. Beinart's own magazine--for the past 15 years. They didn't act out their impeachment kabuki in the root cellar, and they didn't muscle the Florida election in the dark.

"And the fact that a lot of them haven't yet gotten everything they wanted is hardly proof that the administration doesn't want all the same stuff, too. It's evidence that some Republicans--and even some Democrats--would rather not see the Republic taken all the way over a cliff. If it pains Mr. Beinart to know that some of his dinner pals want to demolish everything in which he believes, and that they are halfway there already, I am truly sorry, but the Krug is right and he's wrong on this one. I don't want these clowns understood. I want them defeated--permanently, the way the Whigs were--and the earth salted so they do not rise again."

I always enjoy writing something here and then seeing the same points made by legit writers later on. It proves I might be half-legit in some of the stuff I write. Via Atrios.