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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Politicizing 9/11 Alert

One more on Rudy, who last night said his reaction on 9/11 was "thank God George Bush is president." This reminded me of Jacob Weisberg's 9/11 piece:

The only official I saw who failed to create some sense of reassurance was the president. All he knew how to do was read his statement and offer a prayer. My honest, churlish reaction: I wish Bill Clinton were still the president.

A few weeks later Weisberg wrote:

That comment came at the end of a horrific day, after I was evacuated with my family from our apartment a few blocks away from the World Trade Center. It was hardly a considered comment. Just the same, I almost immediately regretted writing it. It was a small-minded, partisan thing to say at a moment when the president was struggling to deal with a national catastrophe of vast proportion.

He's probably correct (though I disagree with Weisberg's saying he had since decided not to question the president's leadership). Why then can this not go the other way?

While at Slate, I also recommend Tim Noah's "Retract This, Please series on 9/11 commentary and Chris Sullentrop's piece on the early speakers for RNC day one, including the important reminder that, "Now is not the time to be a French Republican."

Monday, August 30, 2004

Letting Terrorists Off Easy?

Rudy Giuliani seems to think the release of the 1972 Olympics terrorists has some relevance to the post-9/11 war on terra. Memo to Rudy: the 9/11 attackers COMMITTED SUICIDE! I don't think these terrorists really give a crap about having a pleasant retirement after their careers are over with.

Rudy also (surprise!) left out a relatively important fact about the Munich attackers' release:

In the aftermath, German authorities captured and imprisoned the three surviving terrorists. This limited success was overshadowed two months later when, on October 29, a Lufthansa jet was hijacked and a demands made for the release of the Munich three--and they were released, without consultation with Israel. Speculation persists that the hijacking was a set-up intended to ease Germany's humiliating failure at Furstenfeldbruck. This was later confirmed in a U.S. documentary by a Palestinian guerrilla involved in the massacre. At the time, he was the only one not yet assassinated by Mossad.

None of this is to excuse the German government's conduct, which does sound rather shady indeed, but it's not like they just released the terrorists for the hell of it after a few months either--there was a hijacking involved.

Creative bit by Rudy combining the flip-flop attack on Kerry with mockery of Edwards and the Two Americas. I don't think the terrorists are going to be attacking "rural areas" any time soon, though.

"A Nation of Courage"

With muscular militarism serving as such a central feature of the RNC, I may be convinced that documents like these have a place in the campaign yet. Really, if the question is which candidate has greater personal courage, I don't think there's much doubt that Kerry should win.

John McCain, Hypocrite

From McCain's speech:

My friends in the Democratic Party -- and I'm fortunate to call many of them my friends -- assure us they share the conviction that winning the war against terrorism is our government's most important obligation.

I don't doubt their sincerity. (emphasis added)

Then later (and getting the longest and loudest ovation of the entire speech):

Our choice wasn't between a benign status quo and the bloodshed of war.

It was between war and a graver threat. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Not our critics abroad. Not our political opponents.

And certainly not a disingenuous film maker who would have us believe that Saddam's Iraq was an oasis of peace when in fact it was a place of indescribable cruelty, torture chambers, mass graves and prisons that destroyed the lives of the small children held inside their walls. (emphasis added)

And then he got high-minded again at the end, saying that election-year politics "should remain an argument among friends."

Dictionary.com defines "disingenuous" as "Not straightforward or candid; insincere or calculating." I guess not doubting the sincerity of opponents to Bush's policies includes an exception for the odious Michael Moore!

And then there was all the war-mongering, which was basically the rest of the speech. It was interesting that McCain gave an inaccurate review of what happened in Afghanistan (the Taliban aren't destroyed, it needs mentioning) and he called the plan for war in Iraq "achievable"--too bad it wasn't "achieved."

What's even better is that McCain gave an inaccurate statement about what Michael Moore's movie says. Moore never says in the movie that, "Saddam's Iraq was an oasis of peace"--everyone's aware of the torture, etc., don't be so patronizing. What Moore does say is this:

On March 19, 2003, George W. Bush and the United States military invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq. A nation that had never attacked the United States. A nation that had never threatened to attack the United States. A nation that had never murdered a single American citizen.

Winston Churchill

I nearly spewed my lunch when I heard a Fox News anchor say that tonight Rudy Giuliani is going to compare Bush to Winston Churchill, the logic being that both men "recognized the preeminent threats of their times" or something like that (John Kerry and the Democrats, meanwhile, are the appeasers like Chamberlain, as Sean Hannity has pointed out helpfully).

Still, I have a hard time imagining Bush accomplishing anything like this. Both men did have drinking problems, I guess, and hopefully Bush can resemble Churchill in another respect when he gets voted out of office.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

RNC Blog Coverage

Yeah, you know about this link already. I'm just throwing it out there, and I'll add it near the top of the right-hand bar for the next week. I'll probably add more RNC-related crap, let me know if you have good links.

For example, How to Score at the RNC, a helpful guide to those who will be in NYC for the festivities. A few of the suggested pick-up lines:

Let her know you're going to rock her boat, but it won't be swift.

Whisper you've got the keys to Dick Cheney's undisclosed location and he's away getting a total blood transfusion for the weekend.

"I've been a bad boy, Lynndie ..."

Propose to marry her and state your intention to have intercourse for purposes of procreation.

Mike Williams Got Screwed

As you may know, I've been a proponent of letting underclassmen like Maurice Clarett and Mike Williams enter the NFL Draft even though they've been out of high school for less than the three years required under current rules. Following Clarett's challenge to the rule this spring, a federal court briefly made him draft eligible before that decision was reversed, and in the interim star USC wideout Mike Williams also entered the draft. Since the possibility of going pro was foreclosed, though, Williams intended to return to USC for his junior year. But with USC poised to open its national title defense Saturday night against Virginia Tech, Williams received news that the NCAA was denying his reinstatement.

"At the end of the day, when we stepped back and looked, there was no question he violated the amateurism rule," [Kevin] Lennon [NCAA VP for membership services] told The Associated Press. "He said, 'I want to be a professional, I no longer want to be a college student-athlete.'"

This is a bogus rationale for denying Williams the chance to play another year with the Trojans. At the time that Williams chose to go pro, doing so was a perfectly legal option for him. Of course you drop classes to focus on getting drafted, and of course you hire an agent to help you though the process. It's purely a vindictive outcome, and I guess I should expect nothing less from the clowns running the NCAA.

For the interested, my full case for underclassmen NFL eligibility is here, as is my comment on Williams from back in February, seeing him as vindicating the court decision (which was subsequently reversed).

Play that race card, Jason

Jason Whitlock: "The criticism of USA Basketball is borderline racist, is definitely unsophisticated and exposes a lot of super patriots as hypocrites."

Or maybe we should just apply Occam's Razor and assume the team has been criticized because they didn't play very well and lost in the semifinals. Whenever a team performs poorly, fans turn on the players--that's just how it goes.

The stuff Whitlock points out about people not liking Allen Iverson's tattoos is nothing new, so why Whitlock expected that to stop when Iverson joined the Olympic team I'm not sure. It's a very bizarre column because amid the racism accusations, Whitlock makes a case that international players have developed a superior basketball style, likening the changes to hockey's evolution over the decades. How any of that relates to the American public holding racist attitudes I'm not sure.

Then we've got the myriad examples of black athletes who have been embraced by the American public, but I think the main point of the column was not to be right but rather to stir the pot and get some attention with a little bombast. Mission accomplished, I guess.

Bill Simmons responds in the middle of his mailbag column and is a bit too generous to his colleague, I think.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Offbeat Friday

Bill Duckwing, as it turns out, is still alive. He gets the top spot on the b-roll by virtue of being the first link this page ever received, way back in its infancy. How he encountered this web site so early, I'm not sure.

Anyway, Bill links Songs to Wear Pants To, where they've got a "soulful" acoustic version of the Super Mario theme.

My favorite news story of the week has to involve the Dave Matthews band being fined:

Chasen said Dave Matthews Band bus driver Stefan Wohl told police that he crossed the Kinzie Street bridge near the time the incident took place, but that he did not say whether he was responsible for dumping the 800 pounds of human waste through the bridge's metal grates. A tour boat with unfortunate timing and a group of 120 passengers aboard was doused with the refuse as it passed underneath.

Having 800 pounds of human waste dumped on you must really put a damper on the evening, don't you think?

Finally, I want to share the email I got from the Bush twins the other day, thanks to eRobin signing up my address. Make that, I want to share with you the picture accompanying the email:

I wonder if the outfits will become more revealing if Bush slips in the polls?

Korea Hates Us

This controversy over the gymnastics gold medal has received about a thousand times the attention it deserves, so I figured I'd write a post about the same subject, naturally.

I think it just gives South Koreans another reason to voice their frustration with the United States. Do you remember how back in 2002 there was a crash in the speedskating final, which knocked out the Korean skater, and the people there blamed American Apolo Anton Ohno? That summer, before Korea co-hosted the World Cup, a poll found that Ohno would be the least welcome person in Korea for the event, even less welcome than Osama bin Laden.

And remember how when Korea scored a goal against the US in the World Cup, the idiot Korean soccer player imitated a skater?

I refuse to believe that any rational people could actually care about the results of speedskating or gymnastics. If it will make them chill out, I will gladly reduce the US gold-medal count by one to pacify the whiners. At least then they won't start likening Paul Hamm to Hitler.

Not Turning the Corner

It's a Ceci Connolly sighting and it's bad new for the Bush admin, so I link. The # in poverty and uninsured has gone up, shockingly.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Five-Ring Circus

Apologies for not mocking the Olympics nearly as much as I should have these last two weeks. I did get a chance to see parts of the Men's Basketball and Women's Soccer coverage today, though, so let the mocking commence.

After the US defeated Spain as I ate breakfast, Craig Sager was interviewing Stephon Marbury. Sager asked Marbury what Isiah Thomas had told him by way of encouragement, and Marbury replied, "He told me just to embarrass people. I love you Isiah!" Embarrass people, huh? Classy, kind of like an all-nude issue of ESPN the Magazine (old TV commercial reference). I'm sure Isiah is proud to have his words characterized in that way.

The postgame also featured a rare fight between coaches, which was definitely a good time.

Oh yes, there was a game too. I thought Spain screwed up by not resting Pau Gasol at all. He finished with 29, though only 4 in the 4th quarter. I know the game is only 40 minutes, but this was still pretty intense and they needed to steal Gasol a couple of minutes to have him fresher late. Still, I give credit to the US for remembering how to shoot today, which bodes well for their gold-medal chances.

On the announcers front, Jim Lampley has proven himself to be rather smart about basketball, in somewhat of a surprise to me. Usually we're only treated to Lampley's dulcet tones on boxing telecasts (and he really does have a voice for boxing, if that makes any sense), yet today when the TV cut to the studio at halftime, Lampley astutely pointed out how keeping Duncan out of foul trouble so that he could guard Gasol late was key, and that to do this the US needed to maintain a lead. After the Lithuania game, Lampley noted that US defenders needed to fight through screens more than they had since the three-point line is so much closer in international play. Who knew Jim Lampley could make intelligent remarks on basketball?

Doug Collins, meanwhile, has bitched about the officiating constantly from courtside. Sure, there have been some sketchy calls, but my complaint is that Collins and partner Mike Breen are far too NBA-centric in their criticism. The NBA officiating is horribly flawed too, and any differences in international basketball from the NBA are not per se bad, even if they do confuse some of our players. I get the sense that ever since his involvement in the 1972 Munich fiasco, Collins has had a personal vendetta against all officiating in international basketball competitions. At least he's better than Bill Walton making references to how his son and Richard Jefferson were roommates in college, which we were subjected to during the pre-Olympic exhibitions.

Later on this afternoon I was at the gym where I caught the tail end of the women's soccer gold-medal victory over Brazil. During the post-match celebration, Mia Hamm said hello to Nomar, which I'm sure lots of people thought was cute. Poor Nomie had to go through the ordeal of being traded while his wife was on the other side of the world. The Olympics and the human drama are so deranging that you even get the likes of Jay Mariotti writing sappy columns.

NBC's on-field reporter also talked with Brandi Chastain, she of the memorable 1999 World Cup celebration. The reporter asked the standard-issue question for the victorious athlete: what does this moment mean for you and your family? (Very creative interview, I'm telling you.) And what did Chastain say? Both her parents died recently! Oh well, the gold medal at least ought to help ease the pain of that, huh?

And then there's the Women's Beach Volleyball from the other night, for which the jokes write themselves. Pops posted the excellent photo of the pair that won the gold, and Tragic Christian in comments there linked John Cole's related post (ignore this if you're opposed to objectifying female athletes as sex objects, yadda yadda). From Cole's comment thread:

I have to point out that two of the American players are named "Misty May" and "Holly McPeaks". You can't make stuff like that up.

It's like they held auditions for US women's volleyball at the same place as the auditions for a porno. And when did Cole--whose site I read only once in a while--go from posting frothing denunciations of Democrats to pictures of attractive women? Of course, I was mocking the women's beach volleyball way back on the first day of competition--beat that!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Running on the Mall

I've wanted to do this ever since I knew I was moving to DC, and yesterday I finally went down to the National Mall to run. I actually started down by the Lincoln Memorial, ran along the Reflecting Pool, past the WWII Memorial, and made a big loop around the Washington Monument security perimeter before heading back. Some day when I have more time and energy I vow I'll go all the way to the Capitol and back. If I do all of that I probably won't be able to resist the urge of running the Lincoln Memorial steps triumphantly at the end, a la Rocky.

The terrain was rather disappointing, with the dirt paths that were available so hard that they were little better on my knees than pavement. Much of the grass alongside some paved sections is rather thick, and by the Reflecting Pool especially there are lots of tree roots, requiring me to continually look down to avoid tripping, inhibiting me somewhat from looking around to soak in the surrounding views. The Potomac side of the Reflecting Pool is way buggy too, as I was reminded when I found several dead insects stuck to my neck upon return to my apartment. Then there's the excessive barriers around the Washington Monument, which break up what would otherwise be a nice straight route between the Reflecting Pool and the Mall, forcing a detour around that brings runners alongside road traffic more than I would like.

All the same, it's still a good place to run. I saw many fellow travelers along the route, people that I suspect have been over those paths many times before. There still are some places that afford wonderful views--I'm a sucker for the monuments, no matter how often I see them, especially with a low sun angle--and after all, this is one of the less interrupted stretches of ground open to runners in the city. Perhaps I will investigate Rock Creek Park or the Georgetown Canals soon.

Obviously with my slow blogging pace of late, I'm not all that plugged into the online discussion forums or news. It's probably a good idea to take a few days off from full-scale presidential politics in advance of what's sure to be a dismaying spectacle on TV next week. Remember to pick up a barf bag before Monday, as it may come in handy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Good for Dick Cheney

God knows I rarely have anything good to say about the man so I better take this chance. Maybe the grinch does have some semblance of a heart after all.

UPDATE: OK, it's not all good if the Drudge transcript Atrios cites is accurate (similar quote late in the WaPo piece, so I guess it is). Massachusetts was not making a decision for the entire country, obviously, when it's Supreme Judicial Court interpreted the state constitution. The Mass SJC has no power to open the way for gay marriage in areas beyond its jurisdiction.

Monday, August 23, 2004

George W. Bush, Campaign Finance Reform Champion

Bush's remarks today are yet again hard for me to fathom. Press on the Swift Boat attack ads, Bush kept saying he opposes all independent advertising by 527 groups.

I'm denouncing all the stuff being on TV of the 527s. That's what I've said. I said this kind of unregulated soft money is wrong for the process. And I asked Senator Kerry to join me in getting rid of all that kind of soft money, not only on TV, but used for other purposes, as well. I, frankly, thought we'd gotten rid of that when I signed the McCain-Feingold bill. I thought we were going to, once and for all, get rid of a system where people could just pour tons of money in and not be held to account for the advertising. And so I'm disappointed with all those kinds of ads.

I have several questions. First, how could Bush and Kerry agree to get rid of all 527 expenditures? Isn't the point that these are independent groups, not coordinating with the presidential campaigns? How then could the two candidates acting in concert eradicate them? Second, if Bush is so convinced that 527s are "bad for the process" why doesn't he take further action to try to constrain them? We've known for several months now that the FEC was interpreting McCain-Feingold in such a way that allowed 527s plenty of latitude. During those months, what has Bush actually done to propose new legislation or push the FEC to change its previous decisions? Obviously, just "speaking out against them," hasn't had much effect thus far.

Could the rollout of Bush's new anti-527 talking point really be nothing more than a way for the president to deflect questions about the Swift Boat ads? Just maybe? (And wasn't his previous anti-527 stuff really motivated by the fact that Republicans want to keep their advantage in hard money fundraising, without letting the Democrats somewhat level the playing field with the soft money? OK, I have a pretty good idea on the last few.)

Sunday, August 22, 2004

"Those Thoughts" Return

Bill Simmons says he gets "those thoughts" from time to time, when he starts believing for a minute that the Red Sox can overtake the Yankees in the AL East. I admit I'm having those thoughts myself tonight, after the Red Sox have climbed back within 5.5 games of the division lead.

It wasn't the sweep this weekend in Chicago capped by the win tonight, but the way the team is winning. Everything just seem to be falling into place. Tonight is definitely not the kind of game the Red Sox typically win, fighting back in the late innings to grab a lead and then working out of a jam after a bad break when Ramirez fell in the outfield. For once in my life, I'm grateful for the Fox and ESPN national coverage, enabling me to see the Red Sox play this weekend even though I'm in Washington now.

When you don't have a chance to see the game due to being away, you end up wondering how the result could have possible come about. For instance, how in the hell did the Patriots lose so badly last night to the Bengals?

It may be a quiet week in this space as I have plenty of business to attend to and blog reading/writing should be limited. I'll try to get my affairs in order so that next week I can have some time to enjoy the show from NYC. I've also noticed that thanks to Blogger's new toolbar, I'm getting clicks in from various and sundry Blogspot pages, boosting both traffic and commenting a bit. So that's nice, and welcome if you got here that way.

Take That Poodle to Obediency School!

Tony Blair is refusing to accept a medal from George Bush in recognition of his complicity in creating the disaster we like to call present-day Iraq. None of the people who planned this war should be giving each other honors for it, Jesus. Just when you think Bush can't do anything else outrageous...

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Hey Swifties, Read the Testimony

OK, my previous effort to stay silent on this topic notwithstanding, here comes another post on the so-called "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" and their new ad.

The commercial is intentionally misleading, taking a few words here and there from Kerry's 1971 Senate testimony to make it seem like Kerry was making the accusation that the US troops in Vietnam were committing all sorts of war crimes. That's not what he did, though. Kerry was actually reporting to the senators what some veterans themselves admitted they had done. Let's do something that the ill-informed ex-POWs in the ad should do and read the text of Kerry's remarks (with a few helpful boldings added by me):

I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command....

They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

These are stories people personally testified to, and we unfortunately have many accounts and much evidence of war crimes that took place during the Vietnam conflict (does My Lai ring a bell?). The fact that such awful things did occur, however, is not a blanket indictment on every man who served in Vietnam. On the contrary, it was still possible to serve honorably in that horribly misguided war, as many American soldiers did.

As Kerry has said before, we should stop conflating the soldiers with the war in which they fight. They deserve our support, regardless of the conflict, for heeding the call to duty, but that support cannot reasonably extend to countenancing any and all decisions on the part of our national leadership. As it was in Vietnam, so it is now in Iraq. To say that the Iraq war was a terrible mistake by our leaders is in no way to slander the brave men and women currently serving in that country.

This ad is actually a good development, in a sense, because it demonstrates that the allegations about Kerry not deserving his medals are really the product of these people being upset by what Kerry did after he got home. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to come to grips with the idea that a war you fought in--a war you may have been wounded in, a war in which friends of yours may have died--was unjust. But that's the plain truth here, and I give Kerry a world of credit for having the strength to come to grips with it. Not surprisingly, it's too much for others to handle, and so they seek to shoot the messenger.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Go to Hell, Zell

Anyone know of where I can find video of Zell Miller praising John Kerry at this 2001 event? I hope some clips surface soon and it gets all over TV. Miller is such a breathtaking hypocrite that I really can't think of anyone better to introduce the president at the Republican convention.

Quotes of the Day: Iraqi Soccer Team

Hey Iraqi Olympic soccer team, how do you feel about George Bush using you guys in his latest presidential campaign commercial and in speeches?

"Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign," [Salih] Sadir told SI.com through a translator, speaking calmly and directly. "He can find another way to advertise himself."

Ahmed Manajid, who played as a midfielder on Wednesday, had an even stronger response when asked about Bush's TV advertisement. "How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women?" Manajid told me. "He has committed so many crimes." ...

But they also find it offensive that Bush is using Iraq for his own gain when they do not support his administration's actions. "My problems are not with the American people," says Iraqi soccer coach Adnan Hamad. "They are with what America has done in Iraq: destroy everything. The American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the [national] stadium and there are shootings on the road?" ...

"I want the violence and the war to go away from the city," says Sadir, 21. "We don't wish for the presence of Americans in our country. We want them to go away."

Manajid, 22, who nearly scored his own goal with a driven header on Wednesday, hails from the city of Fallujah. He says coalition forces killed Manajid's cousin, Omar Jabbar al-Aziz, who was fighting as an insurgent, and several of his friends. In fact, Manajid says, if he were not playing soccer he would "for sure" be fighting as part of the resistance.

"I want to defend my home. If a stranger invades America and the people resist, does that mean they are terrorists?" Manajid says. "Everyone [in Fallujah] has been labeled a terrorist. These are all lies. Fallujah people are some of the best people in Iraq."

Gee, maybe these guys aren't the best advocates for George Bush after all. Isn't it inconvenient when people refuse to be used as symbols and have thoughts of their own sometimes?

Headline of the Day: That Explains Kerry's Hollywood Support

According to AOL's Daily Whisper "Kerry Fingers Sexy Stars." Via Wonkette. (Also see the today's delicious mocking of The Note.)

Chris Matthews Destroys Swift Boat Guy

Chris Matthews just a little bit ago absolutely demolished the Thurlow fellow who has been attacking Kerry's Vietnam record. Matthews challenged Thurlow to prove his accusations with evidence, and Thurlow couldn't since he only had his "observations" and his bizarre claim that Kerry had a plan to get his medals. Matthews asked if Thurlow was bringing this up because Kerry is running for president, and Thurlow said yes. Matthews asked if it was OK for Bush to raise this issue, and Thurlow tried to dodge, asking why Bush would raise it if he wasn't there. Matthews countered that if Thurlow wanted this to be an issue in the race, it needed to be something both candidates could argue over. In the end, Matthews basically dismissed the guy entirely.

I guess Matthews recently gave Matt Dowd a hard time over the Bushies' misuse of a Hardball clip in an ad. And Matthews got into it with John O'Neill last week, which bothered InstaPundit. In another segment tonight, Matthews gave a pretty friendly interview to Max Cleland.

Maybe Matthews, after exhibiting some of the lesser traits of our national political media, is rediscovering the common sense that made him a Democratic aide in a previous life. On the Vietnam stuff in particular, his toughness with the Swift Boat charlatans indicates to me that Matthews may have some personal issues regarding Vietnam. Did he perhaps get out of serving so that now he feels guilty and doesn't want to see Kerry attacked?

Media Matters is the clearing house for following the not-so-Swift liars. As for Kerry's charge today that the group is a front for the Bush campaign, read Joe Conason's April Salon article that details the people funding the ads. Now Bush is amazingly claiming to be the great defender of campaign finance reform, a law that he steadfastly opposed before reluctantly signing it.

Look, this stuff is dirty politics. The people attacking Kerry didn't serve on his boat, and 11 of the 12 who did work directly with Kerry in Vietnam are supporting his campaign. I don't think it's all that relevant as a credential for Kerry that he fought, but it does show the disgusting depths to which the Bush campaign will sink. I'm not posting on this again, barring something really major.

New Kerry Mistress Story

Dan Kennedy today points to the Boston "I smell Pulitzer!" Herald, which has details on another old Kerry fling in the Inside Track. Before you get too excited, though, it happened back in Kerry's bachelor days when he was 45, and as Kennedy notes, "she says she's going to vote for him, and she calls Teresa Heinz Kerry 'awesome.' She's even decided to hold off on publishing a roman a clef about their romance until after the election."

Drudge is currently running links that say "FORMER KERRY LOVER LAUNCHES WEBSITE..." and "Plans Book..." However, the book site is temporarily disabled, as she apparently doesn't want to cause problems in the campaign. Even the Inside Track notes, "Whitnum has written a fictionalized account of her affair with Kerry as part of a novel entitled 'Hedge Fund Mistress,' which she will sell on her Web site www.hedgefundmistress.com." Somehow Drudge didn't note that the book is fictionalized--if he did that he would probably also have to do so with a lot of his other content, I imagine. And what fun is it to acknowledge that some of his stuff is make believe?

So things look rather safe for now, inevitable falsified mmisrepresentations of the story to come notwithstanding. I wouldn't go as far as Kennedy, though, who suggests, "The Kerry campaign ought to send out copies of the 'Track' to every undecided voter in the country." Some would still frown upon a 45-year-old Kerry having a relationship with a twentysomething grad student, probably (and this would lead to more attention being paid to Kerry's divorce).

UPDATE: Drudge is now linking this story that says the woman pulled down her Kerry stuff from her web site due to a backlash of angry emails.


Just a few weeks remain until ESPN's 25th anniversary bash, and their summer programming counting down the best of the last 25 years is winding down. There have been a few rather weak "Who's #1" shows, and the close ups of the women's lips saying the numbers strikes me as mildly pornographic and disturbing, but the last three editions sound solid: best plays, biggest controversies and best games.

Prior to "Who's #1" the worldwide network has been airing "The Headlines" on Tuesdays at 7. There's nothing on the web about this, leaving me to guess the top three sports news stories of the last quarter century (Magic Johnson's HIV announcement clocked in at #4 this week). My prediction: 3) the multiple retirements of Michael Jordan; 2) the O.J. Simpson trial; 1) the 1994 baseball strike.

Why these three? Because they touch on the most important themes in pro sports in my lifetime. There simply has to be a show on Jordan because he's the greatest athlete of this period. That show can touch on his marketing appeal, the internal struggle of the great athlete to find new challenges, his personal journey from the murder of his father to the Birmingham Barons to being a mediocre Washington Wizards exec who couldn't resist the urge to get on the court again.

The O.J. trial was enormous national news because it was such a dramatic story involving a guy everyone thought they knew yet who turned out to have a dark side. The implications for sports role models are big, and the case contributed to a national reconsideration of the place of the athlete (not to mention all the attention that was placed on the legal process--or the race stuff for that matter).

When the '94 baseball strike led to the cancellation of the World Series, that was the seminal event in a long-term erosion of how we viewed sports. "When It Was a Game" was replaced by the athlete's mantra that "it's a business" when contract disputes arose. These guys playing games were no longer necessarily in it for the love, and many fans came to resent the greed (on the part of owners too) that manifested itself in exorbitant ticket prices and concession costs at stadiums. Again, big stuff.

We'll see if any of this turns out to be correct. There's also an ongoing countdown of top moments that happens on SportsCenter every day. I expect these three stories to show up somewhere in the top 20 that's yet to be revealed.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Join the Party Party

OK, another lazy blog post based on an email I got, but this is pretty creative. I especially like track two, "Dick is a Killer", which suggests that the president and veep have a special relationship (warning: highly inappropriate!). Track one has excerpts of Kerry's convention speech set to music--I enjoyed the edit made to the part addressed directly to the president. This makes me long for the Howard Dean remixes.

While I'm being bad, here are a few more links:

A revealing NYC protest in the works.

Really, it's not porn but serious cinema.

I don't get the appeal of cyber-affairs.

Flip-Flop Olympics

Someone must have signed me up for the Bush email list since I've been getting things from Ken Mehlman for the last few weeks. The latest is a link to the "Flip Flop Olympics", which trots out just about every GOP spin point you can think of in one interactive multimedia product. The only problem is that you have to click "for" or "against" statements they show, and it's not clear whether you should make double negatives (clicking "for" when it's a statement opposing something). At least I messed that up, even though I'm familiar with these events and the "right" answers.

There are some lovely guest appearances by Hillary, Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, the
"unnamed foreign leaders," even a special appeal to the French judge. Quite the positive vision for Aamerica's future, that Bush campaign.

Busy Links

I'm actually busy now and may not post so much for a little while. A few notes before I go...

Wonkette makes fun of both the presidential contenders and the Olympics at the same time.

Ken Layne: "The next Vietnam movie will be a buddy comedy starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, and all they're going to do is kill Charlie and win medals and dance with beautiful girls. It'll make $300 million on the opening weekend."

Jesse Walker links the unfortunate DC Health Department logo.

See Jeff Jarvis for the latest craziness on McGreevey. Naturally, it was all a Mossad plot.

I picked up a Washington City Paper and had my first experience with Dan Savage. Yowza. (Dirty humor warning.)

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Motive Behind Troop Reallocation

Bush announced today that lots of US troops are going to be moved around.

Promising "a more agile and more flexible force," President Bush announced on Monday a major realignment of U.S. forces around the world.

Bush said about 60,000 to 70,000 uniformed personnel would move from overseas to posts in the United States over the next decade. The move would also involve about 100,000 family members and civilian employees, Bush said.

"The new plan will help us fight and win these wars of the 21st century," Bush said in a speech before a convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

So the administration is selling this as a strategic move that's in our national interest. But could there be another motive at play? Just read the coverage at Newsmax, where the front page currently reads as follows:

Sorry, Germany: Bush Realigns U.S. Troops
Perhaps the dollar-hungry Germans and South Koreans are now regretting all their anti-American protests as the U.S. modernizes strategy to fight the war on terrorism.
German Weasels Wail for Dollars

That second link includes the following passages:

Hooray! The U.S. is pulling troops out of ungrateful Saddam-loving Germany, and dollar-addicted Old Europeans are in moaning as their withdrawal symptoms begin. ...

Baumholder, a town in rural western Germany, will lose $150 million a year if the U.S. military training area leaves, Mayor Volkmar Pees complained today to the Associated Press. ...

Tough luck, Germans. Should've thought of that before you launched all those vicious anti-U.S. demonstrations!

So are we now going to pull out our troops from all places that disagree with US policy so as not to be giving any economic benefit to the people living there? What if pulling out troops conflicts with Bush's stated bit about fighting and winning the wars of the 21st century? Knowing the administration's track record for seeking revenge on enemies, I wouldn't be shocked if punishing disloyalty has trumped strategic considerations here. (I'm aware others are critiquing the decision on more substantive grounds, for example Wesley Clark, though I'm not qualified to pass that sort of judgment.)

No Bush at Ground Zero

Blair Golson in the New York Observer:

There will be no formally sanctioned commemorations at the site of the former World Trade Center during the Republican National Convention, convention planners and government officials have told The Observer. ...

In some ways, the situation is analogous to the Democrats selecting Hawaii for the site of their 1944 convention (even though it was not yet a state) and then not having Franklin D. Roosevelt or any members of his administration visit Battleship Row at Pearl Harbor.

They rightly believe they would be criticized for politicizing the 9/11 attacks. But then why have the convention in New York? Wasn't that the whole point of the site selection?

John Kerry: Crappy Deer Hunter

The ever-informative Bush Blog claims that John Kerry has a bad technique for hunting deer and that he uses the wrong kind of gun to do it. As we all know, we need a president who can hunt deer properly, so this revelation should help Bush in the polls.

UPDATE: A defense of Kerry's hunting habits (via Scribe Stalker). Apparently there's been much bloggage on this already, which somehow I missed.

USA Basketball Needs More White Guys

That basically seems to be what Mike Wilbon is saying:

The U.S. team didn't need more rebounding, strength or girth Sunday night against Puerto Rico; it needed shooters. But this U.S. team doesn't have any. This U.S. team has Tim Duncan and 11 guys who do the same thing: go to the rack. USA Basketball wants to sell sodas and jerseys and whatever else is being marketed. Brent and Jon Barry didn't turn down an invitation to play on this team, not that I know of. Fred Hoiberg would have paid his own way to Greece and slept on a dormitory bed with no pillows to play on this team. Casey Jacobsen didn't say he wouldn't come, nor did Brian Cardinal.

The racial stuff is barely below the surface in a lot of Olympic hoops critiques I'm seeing, so we may as well acknowledge it openly (in case you don't know, all 12 Team USA members are black, and all four guys Wilbon suggested in the paragraph above are white). Beyond the national embarrassment of losing, there seems a real danger here of reinforcing the stereotype of black players being guys who can jump high and make flashy dunks while the white players are the "thinking" types who can shoot and have better fundamentals. My grandfather, for instance, when I asked him once if he watches basketball, dismissed the sport these days as "10 blacks jumping in the air." The Team USA debacle is only furthering this opinion in some quarters, I fear.

Of course, there are black players who can shoot from the outside, pass, etc. as well. Jason Kidd tuned down an invite and, as Bill Simmons wrote in a prescient column, Michael Redd would've been an excellent choice as a perimeter shooter. I'm just noting the racial element as something to keep an eye on.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Kobecase Gameover?

The AP says:

With Kobe Bryant's sexual assault trial scheduled to begin in less than two weeks, speculation is mounting that prosecutors are looking for a way to dismiss the charge after a series of setbacks. ... [E]vents of the past two weeks suggest prosecutors might be seeking an avenue to dismiss the charge with minimal embarrassment

The cable news nets must be nonplussed by this; Dan Abrams and Greta Van Susteren can only cover the Laci Peterson case so much, after all. Remember, kids: the next time you want to bring rape charges against someone, don't stop to have sex with another guy on your way to the police station! The Colorado hicks trying to run this prosecution haven't exactly covered themselves in glory either.

Nightmare Team

The USA "Dream Team" lost in Olympic basketball today to Puerto Rico. Badly. A commenter at Matthew Yglesias named Dana Blakenhorn sums it up nicely:

Don't play defense in America
Can't hit the 3 in America
Get by on rep in America
Puerto Rico beat America

I found it telling that during the final minute of play, TV analyst Doug Collins said something along the lines of, "What a change for [US Coach] Larry Brown, who just two months ago was celebrating a world championship with the Detroit Pistons..." Immediately, I thought: world championship? It's always struck me as obnoxious how the NBA champion is referred to as the "world champion" without having played any teams from outside the continent. The fact is that during the last true "world championship" of basketball, in Indianapolis in 2002, the US finished sixth. Unless the United States can regain its position of international basketball preeminence, I suggest that Collins' phrase be retired from use in describing the team that wins the NBA Finals.

Jessica Cutler and Lynndie England?!

The Sunday Post Magazine has a long piece on the Washingtonienne scandal, which provides a fun recap of everyone's favorite blogslut's misadventures, but writer April Witt nearly ruins it for me with her overanalysis of Jessica Cutler's larger cultural significance:

"She's a sign," says Daniel Yankelovich, the pollster and analyst who has been studying American values for 50 years. He means a sign of our times, as is Jessica's frumpy 21-year-old contemporary, Pfc. Lynndie England, whose gleeful mugging for the cameras as she mocked naked Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib unsettled the national conscience. Both women have left many people questioning: How did we get here?

Jessica's "behavior is not mainstream majority behavior in the same way that most soldiers in Iraq are not abusing people," Yankelovich says. "She's an extreme, but she's a sign. These kinds of signs are breaking out often enough that you know they are signaling something much larger and more important."

Sorry, sleeping around is a far cry from torturing prisoners.

Olympic Highlight of the Night

I'll give it to the high school JV basketball game-sized crowd watching men's gymnastics. Bob Costas even felt compelled to offer the excuses that Greeks have the month off for vacation and tomorrow is an Orthodox holiday. He said the Olympic organizers expected (and hoped) that there wouldn't be such big empty spaces in the stands for other events.

Traffic Jam Band

The Phish farewell concert in Vermont this weekend has brought out all of the crazies. The stories about the traffic jam heading to the concert site are rather amazing:

Sidney Bristol, 20, of Newfane, and her cousin, Andrew Kessen, 21, of Brattleboro, left Windham County at 4:30 Thursday afternoon. At 9 p.m., they called home to report they were still stuck in traffic on Interstate 91 and were still miles away from the concert, according to Sidney's father, Gordon Bristol, of Williamsville.

Gordon said Sidney called again Friday to say that between 9 p.m. Thursday and 6:30 a.m. Friday, they had traveled a total of three miles on Interstate 91. Sidney and her cousin decided then to park their car in the Ethan Allan furniture-making plant in Newport and walk the rest of the way -- a distance of several miles, Gordon said.

Boisterous fans took the brief pause in the traffic to partake an amalgamation of different activities, from tossing a baseball back and forth to playing cards on the back gates of trucks. Others fired up hibachis and portable grills, brazenly cooking in the middle of the highway.

As state police and law enforcement strove to keep traffic moving, many fans were drinking alongside their vehicles, some quite clearly intoxicated. The pungent aroma of marijuana occasionally wafted down the highway, billows of smoke flowing freely from a stopped caravan.

With waits as long as 23 hours to enter the campgrounds, several motorists appeared to be getting irate, yelling obscenities at motorists passing in the left lane. Another group of fans held up cardboard signs indicating that the passing lane only went to Canada.

Is it any wonder what would happen next?

Police in Vermont now say fans of the band called Phish have abandoned as many as 25-hundred vehicles on Interstate 91.

Sadly, I don't see any good shots of the boozing and belligerence, but there are some photos of people abandoning cars, such as this, which hit the wires at 12:46 p.m.:

Caption: "Phish fans who abandoned their vehicles because of a roadblock on Interstate 91, walk up U.S. Highway 5 in Orleans, Vt., hoping to hike the 12 miles to the Phish Festival in Coventry, Vt., in time for the evening concert. (AP Photo/Alden Pellett)" And then they get to camp overnight in the woods, sweet.

It occurs to me that we recently passed the 35th anniversary of Woodstock with no anniversary concert like what happened on the 25th and 30th anniversaries (and after the '99 debacle, it's no wonder). Perhaps this weekend's festivities up in Vermont can partly fill the void.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

A Poll-Tested Coming Out

The Sunday New York Times has a good blow-by-blow (so to speak) account of the unraveling of the McGreevey aministration in Jersey. Of note is the backstory to the phrasing Gov. McG used at his surreal presser on Thursday:

Mr. McGreevey soon began preparing a speech to make to the public about his life and current circumstances. In doing so, he began conferring with directors at the Human Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy group. The most dramatic line the governor eventually uttered--"I am a gay American"--was developed by the group and was a poll-tested phrase used to reframe the debate about gay causes from one about sexual liberation to one about civil rights.

I guess putting "gay" and "American" next to one another emphasizes that gays are citizens and deserve equal rights, but it strikes me as not that brilliant a turn of phrase. After all, what else was McGreevey going to say? "I prefer having sex with men"?

While I'm not the NJ politics guru either, the very end of the story seems to contain some of the most explosive info about a potential deal at the eleventh hour:

Then, a few minutes before 4 p.m., came a stunning development. Mr. Lesniak received a call from a lawyer who said he was an intermediary working on behalf of Mr. Cipel and Mr. Lowy and wanted to cut a deal. Mr. Lesniak declined to discuss the matter because it was now under investigation by the F.B.I. But according to several people, the lawyer offered to drop the lawsuit in exchange for a cash settlement and the Governor's agreement to approve permits for Tuoro College, a school in Brooklyn, that was trying to found a medical school in New Jersey.

No deal of any kind was made, although confusion still exists about the school and the alleged proposal. Mr. Kushner, the governor's major fund-raiser, is on the board of the school. Senator Robert Torricelli's consulting firm, too, had been trying to arrange meetings with state officials to discuss the permits.

Despite the gay governor, it sounds like there's still plenty for Tony Sporano to like in New Jersey politics.

President Bill O'Reilly

A nice profile piece on Bill O'Reilly in Rolling Stone has quite a kicker of an ending:

Some are convinced that TV-pundit success is not enough for O'Reilly. "He has much higher aspirations," says Cullinan. Asked what those might be, Cullinan adds, without irony, "President." He pauses. "If you watch the show, you can see how he's positioning himself against Hillary Clinton. He's setting it up - just like he sets up guests on the show."

Preposterously implausible as this sounds, O'Reilly does not laugh it off. Quite the reverse. "Well, I'm flattered that somebody actually thinks I could handle the job," he says, his voice gone all plummy and pleased. "I have said that The Factor is the last job that I want, and I'm going to be here for a while. Will I rule out politics? No. But I'm certainly not going to seek it. If I wanted to do that, I would have done it already. I've had many, many opportunities, and I've turned them all down. And I think I can do more good, at this point, right where I am."

This is too much to contemplate just now. I recommend the article for a look at how much of an SOB O'Reilly is to his co-workers (via The Hamster).

Banks Refund

So it turns out that the Celtics get to keep Marcus Banks after all since Gary Payton didn't appear for a physical within a week of the original deal. See the indispensable Celtics Blog for full analysis.

This certainly puts Banks and the team in an awkward spot. This past week, Banks was out in LA holding up a Lakers jersey with his name on it and telling reporters how he grew up dreaming of wearing the purple and gold one day (Banks is a Las Vegas native). That came on the heels of Banks' dad griping about his son's lack of playing time during the oh-so-brief C's playoff run in April, and reports that Doc Rivers didn't like Banks' play or attitude during the recent summer league games. And a bunch of Boston sports chatters have been dissing Banks' game lately, noting his lack of point guard skills as he apparently was on the way out.

Hopefully the relationships can be repaired here and Banks can be productive instead of sulking in a city of perceived enemies. Some players don't mind nearly being traded (see: Manny Ramirez) while others let it bother them a great deal (see: Nomar Garciaparra). We'll see which type Marcus Banks is.

One more thing is that Danny Ainge now looks smart for not commenting on the trade thus far, as Shira Springer notes (first link above):

For the past week, Celtics director of basketball operations Danny Ainge declined to comment in detail about the deal. He wanted to wait until the teams finalized the transaction before trumpeting the newcomers or criticizing the recently traded. It may prove to be the most intelligent and pragmatic move of his tenure. The Celtics hope the deal becomes official Monday, at which time Ainge is expected to make himself available for an in-depth assessment.

I can't find a link to this, but I did see on ESPN the obnoxious Stephen A. Smith knocking Ainge last weekend for refusing to discuss the deal. Smith represented that as an admission that the Celtics got the short end of the trade. Now that Boston gets to keep Banks and the second-round pick, I wonder if Stephen A. has changed his mind, or whether he wishes to reconsider his remark about Ainge?

Someone Didn't Get the Memo

Looks like Fox News screwed up in its role as Bush campaign mouthpiece yesterday:

President Bush's campaign yesterday rolled out an upbeat, soft-focus ad using the Olympics as a backdrop. But, within hours, the focus shifted to an attack ad, assailing John F. Kerry's record on intelligence, that was supposed to remain under wraps until Monday.

The negative ad leaked out after it was mistakenly played on the Fox News Channel, giving Kerry strategists an opportunity to change the debate and challenge the president's charges three days before the spot receives widespread airing. (emphasis added)

I wonder what punishment those responsible for the ad's airing received. Sadly, there's no need to wonder what Fox was doing with an advance copy of the ad.

Women's Beach Volleyball

If NBC gave more thought to their Olympic programming lineup, they would show this late at night, that's all I'm saying (yeah, you watch it for the strategy, right). The US duo is beating the hell out of a pair of women from Norway, which is understandable, given that Norway gets to practice beach volleyball for about two weeks a year.

More lame Olympics-watching jokes may be on the way as I stay inside to avoid the wrath of God that is expected to descend on the DC area late this afternoon.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Highlights of the Opening Ceremony

The thing gets held on Friday the 13th and, what do you know, the Greek athlete pegged to light the flame in the stadium gets caught up in a doping scandal.

The early part of the ceremony tonight was deliciously tacky, like a middle school play except with better effects. I especially enjoyed the part with the centaur. In case you missed it...

The main part of the ceremony was "an allegoric journey of the evolution of human consciousness ... from the mythological perception of the world to the logical," Dimitri Papaioannou, the concept creator of the ceremony, told The Associated Press.

Alrighty then.

The parade of nations is the best though. Considering how catty Bob Costas and Katie Couric get, they may as well have Joan Rivers there to critique each delegation's choice of clothes. My single favorite line, from Couric: "The Iraqi Olympic team has a tortured history--literally." Seems an odd topic on which to make a pun, no? Costas, meanwhile, made a crack about how he knew where the Central African Republic was located. Couric mispronounced both "Lesotho" and "Bubka" (as in the last name of the former Ukrainian pole vaulter). Costas, in one typical exchange, transitioned from a bit about Mount Everest to say that, "no athlete from Nepal has scaled the heights of the Olympic medal platform." And on and on it went. Why I get such a kick out of this stuff I'm not entirely sure.

While I'm being silly again, let me link a few other things. Josh Marshall yesterday linked a video clip of Alan Keyes singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Suppress your popup blocker when clicking that link for it to work. Ace Pryhill noticed an unfortunate NYT headline. Jeff Jarvis had some funny observations on Jim McGreevey's recent advertising campaigns, writing, "You couldn't cut this irony with a chainsaw." And John Derbyshire has had some typically unintentional humor on McGreevey here and here. Why worry about homophobia when we must deal with the greater scourge of post-modernism, right?

Pops, I should note, wrote one of the better comments I've ever received on my earlier McGreevey post.

Damn, the lady who heads the Greek orgnizing committee looks way too much like Katherine Harris.

Dear God, now Costas and Couric are openly mocking Bjork's dress while she's singing. It just keeps getting better, I tell you. Dave Barry has a mildly humorous piece from Athens (via garyclark, email: sportsfrog@sportsfrog.com, password: sportsfrog). And in case you're actually interested in what sports are on tv when, visit NBCOlympics.com.

Final update: Since this has grown into a linkfest, I'll add that Janice McDonald, a journalist covering the Games for the Christian Science Monitor, is blogging from the media site. She's got info on security procedures, pictures of her passes and the venue, etc. Mike Wilbon has a column up regarding the Greek doping scandal. And Bill Maher concluded his show with a rant about the tear-jerker TV coverage of the Games (internment advocate Michelle Malkin was also on, though I missed most of the program). Good stuff all, now let the Games begin.

Opening Ceremonies Fun

The Olympics opening ceremonies are one of my favorite TV events--no, really. It will be on TV tonight in the US, even though it's happening right now over in Greece.

Why do I like opening ceremonies? Because they're painfully scripted, non-offensive events. Japan featured lots of little kids running around and singing in multi-colored snow suits to open Nagano '98 (go about one minute into this video). Sydney 2000 had the strained nods to Australia's aboriginal heritage, and they actually had a multi-part ice-skating show, the premise of which involved a child having a dream, in order to introduce the country's history and culture (link). The opening of Salt Lake City 2002 I will always remember for Mitt Romney's appearance with George Bush--who knew how much closer this event would bring them?!--and Bush's bizarre interview with Bob Costas, in which the president, seeming slightly unhinged, bragged about how his running times had improved since September 11 (I wish I could find a link on this).

Plus there's the never-ending fun of seeing dumb TV hosts attempt to say something topical as the athletes representating Uzbekistan enter the stadium.

Khalil Greene

I've only known one person named Khalil in my life, and he was a black guy. So I was surprised the first time I saw San Diego Padres shortstop Khalil Greene play because he is white. Khalil is an Arabic name meaning "best friend" or "companion", it turns out, and when I noticed this anomaly back during the Padres visit to Fenway, so did some other Sox fans. A poster to that message board says, "his name is from the baha'i faith."

This made ignorant little me want to investigate what the hell this Baha'i faith is about, so naturally, I went to Bahai.com. There I learned the following:

The Baha'i Faith is the youngest of the world's independent religions. Its central theme is that humanity is one single race and that the day has come for its unification in one global society.

If we're all "one single race" then white kids should be given any old name--even a "black name"--since such a thing can't exist in the Baha'i worldview.

A search for "Khalil Greene Baha'i" turns up this article about his dominant college baseball career at Clemson, where we learn more:

Jim and Janet Greene named their only son Khalil because it means "friend of God" in Bahai. His middle name Thabit means "steadfast."

There's also some interesting info on how he follows a special diet, is very quiet and introspective, etc. I guess ESPN the Magazine had a piece on him in June as well, an excerpt of which is online.

This post was inspired by Greene getting the winning hit in the Padres win over the Cubs yesterday, pulling San Diego within a game of Chicago's wild-card lead. My Padres knowledge is seriously lacking, something I'll need to improve if they manage to qualify for postseason.

To close, here's Khalil in action:

Taking Bush Hatred to Another Level

I generally don't link Atrios posts any more since most people coming here probably read him before me anyway. But if you don't look at the ads closely, one at the top of his page just now caught my eye: George W. Bush Toilet Paper. Finally, someone has combined scatological humor with jokes about the president to sell a product.

McGreevey: Laugh or Cry?

I've been trying to come up with something to say about yesterday's sudden resignation of New Jersey's governor due to a gay affair, only I'm not sure what. It was definitely one of the more stunning things I've seen on the news in a while. But after my initial shock wore off, I was uncertain about whether to laugh about the tawdriness on display here or to worry over the message this sends about homosexuality being unacceptable. Am I allowed to do both? Fine line as it may be, I want to say yes.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Bush and McCain Are Queers!

They were, like, touching each other and stuff at a rally the other day, just like those homos, Kerry and Edwards (I wonder if this is related to the two Johns' love affair?). Bush and McCain have taken it a step further, though, even registering at Crate and Barrel.

Slightly more seriously, on my reading of yesterday's NY Times, a few lines leapt off the page at me, even though they were presented matter-of-factly. First, David Sanger on the Porter Goss selection:

In choosing Mr. Goss, Mr. Bush passed over the acting director, John E. McLaughlin, a veteran of the agency. While White House officials have praised Mr. McLaughlin in public, they have said on background that his analytical, scholarly demeanor did not make for a good match with the president, who sees the central intelligence director every morning for a review of the threats facing the country and had established a bond with Mr. Tenet. (emphasis added)

Jesus H, is it too much to ask that the president try to be "analytical"? That's a rather basic characteristic needed to make decisions.

Then there was the Carl Hulse article that went with the McCain hug photo:

In Niceville, Mr. Bush's appearance took on the air of a revival meeting as the audience chanted affirmation to his description of the rationale for his antiterror efforts and roared at any religious reference. Gary Walby, a resident of nearby Destin, told the president during a question-and-answer session that though he always voted Republican, "this is the very first time I felt God was in the White House." (emphasis added)

I guess God isn't analytical. "Niceville" sounds more like Scaryville to me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Mr. Karras Goes to Washington

Tomorrow morning I'm heading to Washington, DC, where I will be taking up residence as part of the new adventure I alluded to back on June 30 when I left my job. Like a moth to the flame, I couldn't resist being in the center of the action, so here I go. I plan on keeping the details of my actual life nice and vague, as in the past. You can just pretend that I'm running the federal government or something.

While I'll be able to visit the old haunts of the real (fake) Damien Karras all I want now, I do feel some sadness on leaving Boston. All the same, I will return frequently to see family and such, and today's Boston papers give me good reason to seek new surroundings.

First, and for the last time perhaps (yeah, right), I'll express my disgust with a Boston Herald front-page headline, which today was "DNC a Total Waste." The economic impact studies are all a load of horse manure. Of course the people who were trying to sell the convention inflated numbers, while others who wanted to see the convention fail have complained excessively about some shops seeing limited business during the convention week. All of the studies I've heard about are far too short-sighted, missing the essential point that the convention's economic impact will only be felt in the long term. Boston put itself on the map as a city that can host big events like this, and all of the media coverage originating from here amounted to free tourist advertising for the region. I'm not sure how you put a dollar figure on that. (The Herald's web site seems to be messed up right now.)

Meanwhile, today in the Globe Dan Shuaghnessy had a somewhat sentimental look at the first Red Sox game at Fenway since the Nomar trade:

For the first time in eight years, fans knew there was no chance of seeing him running his sprints in shallow right field. He wouldn't be signing autographs by the first base tarp. There was no chance to see him go up and down the dugout steps -- two feet on each step each time. No glove-tugging and toe-tapping at home plate.

But only ten days ago, Shaughnessy wrote of Nomar, "He hates Boston and he hates the Red Sox and you should be glad that he's gone. If you are a Red Sox fan, he is not your friend." If that's all true, then why the sentimentality, Dan? I would appreciate a little consistency in opinions, rather than ecstasy after wins and bitter sadness following defeats, which is more often what the newspaper columns serve up.

The Globe, however, made up for this today with an article on how no one can understand the annoncements at the T stations. But don't worry, our public servants are on it: "State transportation officials say the situation will improve in about a year." (emphasis added) I will gladly trade the T for the Washington Metro.

OK, that's all from me until Thursday afternoon, hopefully by which time I'll be connected and online in my new place. I'll stay true to my Boston roots and keep reading the papers and all, but of course I'll be throwing in some things I notice from being around DC too. After all, I really think the Internet is lacking a young person who blogs about politics from Washington, don't you? We'll see where it goes.

Until next time...

Monday, August 09, 2004

Ready for Some Football

Without fail, I seem to end up watching the Hall of Fame Game every year, even though, being the first NFL preseason game, starters last usually only one series and the game ends up featuring lots of guys who will never play in the regular season. Every year I end up disappointed, yet I'm always back the following early August. Why is that?

My belief is that summer slowly drives sports fans insane from boredom. First, when we get overloaded with baseball after the NBA and NHL seasons end, we find ourselves watching things like tennis and golf. Then we turn to more marginal things like the Tour de France and we keep ourselves occupied with dumb offseason trade rumors in the NBA and the MLB trade deadline. By August we're sitting through the likes of Bass Masters, X-Games, Great Outdoor Games and the Little League World Series. Finally, football training camps open and, out of desperation, we sit through preseason games, even though the NFL teases us with a full month of exhibition garbage before we get to the real thing.

It's unfortunate that baseball only really starts getting exciting once football gets going too. Can we move the World Series to August somehow so that the sports calendar isn't so uneven?

Anyway, I'll be in front of the TV at 8:00 for Redskins-Broncos, all ready to be disappointed. I wonder what the over-under is on fawning references to John Elway during the ABC broadcast?

Simon and Garfunkel Tennis

Things like this make me wonder (via Anil Dash).

I think I mentioned a while back that I'm moving. Well, that's happening this week, so I'm unlikely to post or read all that much until week's end due to errands and other pains in the rear.

Do click through to the audio clip here to hear the president's insightful remarks about tribal sovereignty when you have a minute.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Leaving the Control Room

Anyone who saw Control Room, the excellent documentary on Al-Jazeera, will be interested to read this story reporting that Josh Rushing, the marine spokesman who earnestly and naively chats with the AJ folks in the film, is leaving the service. Some of the higher-ups apparently didn't like some of what he had to say. Watching the movie, I was shocked that such a young guy would be dealing with them; the military might want someone with experience and wisdom doing PR in the Arab world.

"The Deranging Influence of Blogs"

Maybe this is being linked tons elsewhere by now, but in any case I'll mention Leon Wieseltier in the NYT book review:

We infer from what is said that Jay is a deeply unhappy man. His wife has left him, his girlfriend has left him, he has lost his job as a high-school teacher, he works as a day laborer and has declared personal bankruptcy, he spends his days reading blogs. (About the deranging influence of blogs Baker makes a sterling point.)

So stop reading this site now, unless you want to become deranged!

That's from a review of the new book about a guy who plans an assassination of President Bush. Clearly, assassination is terribly wrong and no respectable person would ever suggest such a thing. Despite all of that, Wiestelier--an editor of "even the liberal" New Republic--takes the opportunity to criticize Bush's fervent critics. How he gets there in the course of this book review is kind of peculiar, and his energies seem rather misplaced to me when we have the Michelle Malkins of the world being backed by mainstream conservative institutions.

Friday, August 06, 2004

The Glove better bring his mittens

Celtics Blog reports that the LA Lakers' Gary Payton and Rick Fox are coming to Boston in exchange for Marcus Banks, Chris Mihm and Chucky Atkins. There are some drafts picks and money involved too. Props to Celtics Blog for first reporting the trade rumor on Tuesday.

The big story here is the Celtics giving up on another young point in Banks. I guess they decided he wasn't the future (cue Chauncey Billups warning) and that the other young guys would benefit from the presence of vets like Payton and Fox, both of whose contracts expire at year's end. Still, this seems an odd move compared with the emphasis on getting younger in previous decisions by this front office. Maybe with New Jersey falling apart, they think we can legitimately make a run at the division this season.

Another strange angle to the story is that it's been confirmed by ESPN.com's Bill Simmons. When did Simmons go from writing sports comedy columns on Page 2 to being a legitimate reporter a la Marc Stein? Simmons has a column up on the trade already.

Run, Alan, Run!

A Keyes for Senate web site has popped up active again (via Political Wire). The latest is that the Illinois GOP has offered Alan Keyes the Senate nomination as of late Wednesday, and Keyes is taking until Sudnay to decide whether to run. You can sign a petition at the site asking the "Ambassador" to do it.

UPDATE: He's in!

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Music at the Ballpark

ESPN's Page 3 has gone to the trouble of compiling the musical selections for players on all 30 major league baseball teams when they come to bat or enter the game to pitch. Some of the odd choices are listed here, including Reed Johnson of Toronto and Steve Sparks of Arizona, both of whom are fans of American Idol dork William Hung, it seems. You can go team-by-team here.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Rooting Against America

No, this isn't a post accusing liberals of lacking patriotism; I'm referring to Olympic basketball. I just watched Germany nearly pull of the second upset of the star-laden USA squad in as many days, coming on the heels of the NBA studs' embarrassing 17-point defeat yesterday against Italy. I found myself pulling for Germany from the start, and I wondered to myself whether I was doing anything wrong.

You see, it's natural for people to cheer on the underdog, so how can you not love it when Dirk Nowitzki and a YMCA All-Star team is trading baskets with a group loaded with NBA millionaires? Is love of country supposed to trump such an instinctive emotional response? Beyond all of that, I simply like watching competitive basketball. Seeing the US team destroy everyone and put on a dunking exhibition gets boring fast. Seeing two teams digging deep to try to seize victory is a much more fulfilling viewing experience for fans. Seeing the US team, having faced adversity, come back to win gold, would make for a much more compelling Athens storyline, I think.

Actual game notes: whose bright idea was it to pick a team that lacked both size and perimeter shooting? Getting Tim Duncan in foul trouble should be the strategy other teams use because if we lose TD, we're in deep trouble. And I hope the broadcasting gets better than what ESPN offered up today. The announcers were ridiculing the referees for actually calling traveling violations, unlike the NBA, and then the cameras missed the game-winning shot by Allen Iverson. Maybe we should chalk up the subpar performance by players and TV alike thus far to the Euro rock/dance mixes they have been hearing during dead balls.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Mommy Had a Leash

Question that came to mind while watching the news earlier: how screwed up will Lynndie England's kid be? The kid was conceived on video tape amid the torture of prisoners in Iraq, pictures of which have been widely circulated by media worldwide. Not the best way to come into the world, exactly.

Revenge of the "Lunatic Fringe"

San Francisco Giants General Manager Brian Sabean made a comment early in the year about his critics, calling them the "lunatic fringe." The team's PR department must have loved that when it happened, and now that the team is fading and couldn't pull off a decent deadline deal, the "lunatic fringe" line is coming back to haunt him big time.

Today's Betting Fool (via Memphis Bengal) in the Chronicle says:

Sabean made the gross mistake of calling people who dared question his baseball genius the "lunatic fringe." These people don't seem so crazy now.

The Alameda Times-Star says, "Maybe the 'Lunatic Fringe' was right, and Sabean neglected to get a hitter to protect Bonds." Even the Giants page on MLB.com mentions the "lunatic fringe" remark in a season summary:

April was, to be sure, horrendous, as the club tumbled down the National League West stairs and went kersplat in the basement. This wasn't the division's wine cellar with its fragrant air of cabernet sauvignon, but the bottom of the barrel with a foul stink of dregs, prompting a segment of whine sellers whom general manager Brian Sabean called the "lunatic fringe" to write San Francisco off.

Such an impatient lot.

That was written July 1, predicting the team would make no big move at the deadline. The team is still just two out for the wild card (three in the loss column, as of this writing), but there seems to be a very negative outlook right now, given recent struggles (here's a nifty chart tracking the NL West race).

Sabean opened himself up to relentless criticism through that one remark that I'm sure he'll have trouble living down for a very long time. It has to rank right up there with the most out-of-touch things a guy from a pro sports team's front office has ever said to try to shut up naysayers. Rick Pitino's "walking through that door" tirade comes to mind. So does Portland Trailblazer GM Bob Whitsitt's comment that he "didn't major in chemistry" when confronted with charges that there was a lack of chemistry on the team he had put together.

Alan Keyes, Quintessential American

As you may have seen on several blogs by now, the Illinois GOP is considering running Alan Keyes in the Senate race against Barack Obama, and that has provided a handy excuse for making fun of Keyes today.

Josh Marshall links to a not-so-humble page on the Keyes web site declaring him "The Quintessential American." Among the bullet points describing Keyes is this: he is "capable of leading our country to widespread moral and political renewal, once all of America has a chance to see and hear, first-hand, his self-evident brilliance."

Keyes has said we need to ban abortion to win the war on terror. He's called "Ambassador" but "the title is a bit misleading: he served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Economic and Social Council, not as ambassador to the U.N. as a whole or to any individual nation." He allegedly dipped into his campaign funds to pay himself in the past, and he has shirked responsibility for campaign debts after the fact. His advertised positions include support for privatizing social security and opposing the Federal Reserve system.

His TV show, "Alan Keyes Is Making Sense," was hilarious, for the few weeks it was actually on MSNBC (you can sign a petition to protest the cancellation). One segment I remember involved an interview of some Palestinian parliament members in the wake of some suicide bombings. Keyes said something so harsh to them that they got up and left in the middle of the interview.

My favorite Keyes moment, though, came at the 2000 California Republican primary debate when he noted that many were wondering, "Why am I here?"

For the sake of humorists everywhere, please, Illinois Republicans, nominate this man.

Campaign Pledge

Dick Cheney's latest inanity is headlining Drudge because he blames Dems for high gas prices, and within the AP story I found the following too:

"The vast majority of Americans believe this is one nation under God, and we believe we ought to be able to say that when we pledge allegiance to the flag," Cheney said.

Please, God, don't let yourself be dragged into the campaign like this.

I will say that this is a step forward from 1988, when Bush I said in his convention speech, "Should public school teachers be required to lead our children in the pledge of allegiance? My opponent says no--but I say yes." At least now it's simply wanting to say the "under God" part rather than requiring the pledge in all public schools.

David Greenberg, in an excellent piece about the pledge, has the Bush I story:

In the 1988 presidential race, as many readers will recall, George Bush bludgeoned Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis for vetoing a mandatory-pledge bill when he was governor of Massachusetts, even though the state Supreme Court had ruled the bill unconstitutional. (emphasis mine)

In fact, the start of the daily pledge in the House of Representatives was a 1988 political stunt:

During the 1988 campaign, candidate George Bush criticized candidate Michael Dukakis for his veto of a Massachusetts state bill to require the Pledge of Allegiance in all public schools in that state. House Republicans (then in the minority) surprised their chamber by offering a privileged resolution to require that each House day commence with the Pledge.

Then-Speaker Jim Wright (D-TX) came to the floor and chastised Republicans for using the Pledge of Allegiance to make a partisan point, saying, "I think it is very important that all of us recognize that the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag is something intended to unite us, not intended to divide us."

So there's some great lineage Cheney was drawing from today. Scott points to another possible flashpoint in the pledge war, noting some Catholic objections to the new Kerry faith outreach person on the basis that she opposed "under God" in the recent Supreme Court case. Steve Waldman of Beliefnet writes today about the emerging religious themes from the convention, and Kos also looks at attempts by Bush to peel off Catholic votes. Finally, the Kerry dis of Archbishop O'Malley for the blessing last week was one of the great stories of convention week that received only limited attention.

UPDATE: Via the Corner, I came across the "Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics." It lists five non-negotiable issue positions against: 1) Abortion, 2) Euthanasia, 3) Stem-Cell Research, 4) Human Cloning, 5) Gay Marriage. Note the omission of foreign and economic policy from this list, the areas in which many progressives like to point out that the views of the Church are not aligned with a certain Republican up for reelection this fall.

Good Old-Fashioned Bush Bashing

Matt Yglesias encourages us to keep making fun of the president, even if the Kerry campaign isn't into that sort of thing. To that end, I want to point out that Boondocks has been on fire the last few days. Yesterday:

And today:

Jeff Jacoby: Iraq Optimist and Blog Reader

Elias Nugator, whose work I continue to promote, made me laugh out loud today, so another link comes his way. His topic is the latest Jeff Jacoby column (a non-Globe post is next, I promise):

EVERY TIME Jeff Jacoby opens his fat yap about how well things are going in Iraq some horrific bombing or massacre occurs virtually the same day to make a shambles of his carefully asembled fantasy of peace and progress in that far off land.
it is getting to the point where to save the lives of Iraqi civilians the Globe might wanna think about not running those Iraqi happytalk columns from Jeff.
...Jeff yammers on about how freedom of expression has come roaring back in Baghdad even as countless Christian Churchs are being bombed up and down the Euphrates River.

What struck me about the column on Sunday was that Jacoby openly admitted that most of his info was straight from Arthur Chrenkoff's blog. It's interesting how so many "real journalists" look down their noses at blogs, and then we find columnists cribbing so heavily from them (see Krugman's citation of the Daily Howler today as well).

The Nomar Trade: Trust No One

Bruce Allen has a good post on how hard it is to get to the truth about the Nomar deal. As always, I think everyone should take media reports with plenty of salt and accept that we probably can never understand the reality of a relationship between a team and player. It's frustrating because that makes it difficult to evaluate the decision-making by the front office, but that's how it is.

Regardless of where the truth lies, I'm in agreement with many fans that Dan Shaughnessy's tantrum in the Sunday paper was disgraceful. Now I'm pleased to see some of Shaughnessy's claims have been not-so-subtly repudiated by his Globe colleague Bob Ryan. First, Shaughnessy:

After the Sox beat the Oakland A's in the fourth game of the 2003 Division Series, the Sox boarded the team bus for the first leg of their journey back to Oakland for the series finale. Everyone was buoyant and gripped with the prospect of going to Oakland and winning Game 5... everyone except for the star shortstop. He got on the bus, turned toward the excited throng, and said, "Why is everyone so happy? As soon as we lose, everyone's just going to rip us."

Shaughnessy goes on to write that Nomar "hates Boston and he hates the Red Sox and you should be glad that he's gone. If you are a Red Sox fan, he is not your friend."

Bob Ryan today seems to challenge Sahughnessy's bus anecdote and his assertion that Nomar hates Boston:

No matter how many second- and third-hand conversations were repeated to the contrary, not once in his time in Boston did Nomar Garciaparra ever say publicly that he was unhappy with any aspect of his life here. ...

Yet we are told he felt the atmosphere here to be suffocating, that people cared too much, that the whole curse thing was a major pain to deal with. Is that the gospel truth? I don't know, and neither does any other member of the media. He was here from late 1996 until Saturday last. Let the media person step forward who ever heard him declare his distaste for all that is Red Sox baseball.

I resist the urge in some quarters to fit this into a narrative with one side as the villain. Maybe it really was time for everyone to move on.