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Saturday, July 30, 2005

Senator Flip-Flop

Congratulations to Bill Frist for seeing the light on stem cells. I must say that I've had my fill of this point, though:

Although critics often contend that advances with adult stem cells make research on embryonic stem cells unnecessary, it is notable that Mr. Frist, a physician and a researcher by training, disagrees.

If only Frist hadn't flushed his medical credentials down the toilet during the Terry Schiavo fiasco!

Frist is still an SOB in my eyes, based on the nuclear option, "Justice Sunday", and other travesties of his senate presidency. I think this just signals that Frist has decided it's politically prudent at this moment to remove his lips from the posterior of the Christian Right. As Davd Brooks wrote in a recent column on Frist:

There were two things Frist was not: political and ideologically conservative. He barely voted before he ran for Senate. Tom Perdue, his first campaign manager, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Quite frankly, for the first three or four months I wasn't sure he was a Democrat or a Republican. I think I helped him become a Republican."

That may be overstatement, but for his first years in the Senate, Frist seemed to fit the mold of the Tennessee Republican, the mold of Howard Baker and Lamar Alexander - conservative but pragmatic, energetic but not confrontational.

Perhaps he's going back to these roots (or he's tired of being compared to Darth Vader by MoveOn, whichever). But what makes him think he can take more 2008 votes from the likes of Giuliani and McCain as opposed to Santorum and Romney?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Larry Brown or Bozo the Clown?

It's worth a look through this SI slide show on Larry Brown's many different coaching stops--and how he seems to say it's his "last job" every time. It also features some horribly garish outfits, the worst of which is this one:

I have a very hard time imagining that a mere three decades ago it was socially acceptable to dress that way.

Sorry I've not been posting much of late. To make it up to you, I'll link a post from the still-active Matt Yglesias TypePad site that, in turn, links some botched Star Wars translations. Very funny, click it (I guess the silly stuff isn't acceptable for the wonks at TPM Cafe).

And via Open Mike (the MSNBC site's sports blog), I found a blog with an elimination tournament to crown the most annoying ESPN announcer. See the whole March Madness-like bracket here (PDF link). It's a lot of fun for people like me whose lives consist of watching sports on TV with occasional breaks to do other things like work, eat, sleep or visit the bathroom (with the sound up).

Finally, on Manny Ramirez's latest bizarre behavior, Gordon Edes nails it in the Globe today:

Sports Illustrated's highly respected Tom Verducci said Ramirez asked to be traded because he had no privacy in Boston. This from a guy who recently allowed the Globe Magazine to run a spread on his son's bedroom.

Here's the link to pictures of Manny Jr.'s room too.

Monday, July 25, 2005

There Go My Plans for Friday Night

My favorite news item from the weekend:

Wal-Mart has ditched a program that helped single shoppers find love in the discount store's aisles.

Officials at Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., ordered their Roanoke store to put an end to Singles Shopping, the only program of its kind at Wal-Mart's U.S. stores.

Taking a cue from Wal-Marts in Germany, the month-old program encouraged customers on Friday evenings to pick up a red bow they could place on their shopping carts as an invitation to other singles. "Flirt points" were set up in various sections of the store.

A Wal-Mart spokesman declined to comment on the reason behind the program's cancellation.

On a related note, the so-called "Social Safeway" up in Georgetown is supposedly a place to meet singles in DC. Who are these people who flirt with strangers while out doing their shopping?

Mean-Spirited Bush Jokes

From McSweeney's:

Q: How many telemarketers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Wouldn't a more relevant question be "How many pounds of cocaine has Bush snorted?"

And so on. It seemed funny to me earlier today, less so as I read it over tonight.

Via Dan Froomkin who, after boring us with the Plame case details, provides the link as well as the link to a Faulkner parody with the president as the retard from The Sound and the Fury, which somehow won a contest--I pity whoever had to read the other entries.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

John Roberts, Cross-Dresser

The New York Times bio piece on the SCOTUS nominee yields the first bombshell about Roberts:

The school yearbook from 1972, his junior year, shows he played Peppermint Patty in the production of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown."

Maybe he'll be acceptable to those with alternative lifestyles after all.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Best Roberts Post

Not that I've read a lot of blogs today, but I've gotta give the prize to Joel Achenbach, who went with the post title "Roberts to Overturn Marbury v. Madison?":

Nowhere in the Constitution, as I recall from the time I glanced at it in the Rotunda of the National Archives, does it say that the Supreme Court should be the final arbiter of the aforesaid Constitution. That's something John Marshall invented, to vex Jefferson. The Supreme Court has been on the road to extreme activism since that gloomy day in 1803. The Roberts Court will let the president decide the important Constitutional questions, such as how many terms he should serve (two being laughably too few), and who should be his successor. Bush clearly cut a deal with Roberts: "I'll give you a lifetime appointment if you give me one too." The one thing that most bugs the Bush clan is that their hereditary monarchy has not yet been officially established as a matter of United States law. And Dubya is surrounded by advisers who think we need to roll back everything to roughly 1787, and then keep going, until we reach the Holy Grail of extreme conservatives: Overturning the Magna Carta.

All this stuff is so obvious I don't get why it's not in the paper.

For some less serious analysis, I turned to Ann Coulter:

It means absolutely nothing that NARAL and Planned Parenthood attack him: They also attacked Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony Kennedy and David Hackett Souter.

The only way a supreme court nominee could win the approval of NARAL and Planned Parenthood would be to actually perform an abortion during his confirmation hearing, live, on camera, and preferably a partial birth one.

Caustic enough for ya? One semi-serious point Coulter makes is that Republican presidents' nominees about whom little is known in advance have disappointed conservatives in the past. She thinks Roberts could fall into the same pattern, noting that, "court-watchers have been like the old Kremlinologists from Soviet days looking for clues as to what kind of justice Roberts will be."

For an example of this Kremlinology, just turn to Linda Greenhouse who writes an article in today's NYT headlined "Bush's Supreme Court Choice Is a Judge Anchored in Modern Law." That assessment seems to be based on some very strained tea leaf reading, though (a less charitable blogger might go as far as to say Greenhouse is making this up out of thin air).

Standing at the president's side Tuesday night, Judge John G. Roberts, a veteran of 39 arguments before the Supreme Court, spoke of his "profound appreciation" and "deep regard" for it.

"I always got a lump in my throat whenever I walked up those marble steps," he said.

Carefully chosen as they undoubtedly were, these were the words of someone deeply anchored in the trajectory of modern constitutional law, not of someone who felt himself on the sidelines throwing brickbats, nor of someone who felt called to a mission to change the status quo.

There are others, potential nominees whom the president might have chosen, who probably also feel a lump in the throat when they think about the Supreme Court, but it is caused by anger rather than reverence. That is not to say that Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, whom President Bush had offered as his models for a Supreme Court selection, do not respect the institution, but their stance is one of opposition to many currents of modern legal thought that the court's decisions reflect.

Could a few words of thanks for being nominated possibly be more overanalyzed than that? So Roberts said a few nice things about the Court, so what? That has nothing to do with his position on Roe v. Wade, affirmative action, gay rights, privacy, the war on terror, school prayer, etc.

And ultimately, that's what all of this is about. We'll hear plenty in the coming weeks about "judicial philosophy" and how Roberts won't "legislate from the bench" and plenty of other catch phrases. Roberts will try to wiggle out of being pinned down on sibstantive matters. I don't quite blame him for doing so, but at the same time it's vital for people to get an idea of where in the hell he might stand on some of these things. People whose rights are being violated don't give a rat's ass, frankly, about whether a judge follows the proper deliberative process; people care if the judge makes the right call. There are a lot of calls that a hypothetical Justice Roberts will have to make in the coming decades that have the potential to do a lot of damage, if he's another Scalia or Thomas. I hope the senators ask copious questions so that the country at least has a glimpse of what it might be in for. Bush may well have asked already in private anyway.

I'm very doubtful on this thing getting blocked, not necessarily because of Roberts's views, but because there's nothing shocking to get outraged about. He sounds like he's been a quiet, boring guy coming up. Does anyone know if he's had a nanny or housekeeper?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Peripatetic Larry Brown

The writing has been on the wall the last ten days or so pointing to Larry Brown's now official departure as head coach of the Detroit Pistons. Check this Ian Thomsen piece for SI dated July 7:

On the team bus to a shootaround the morning of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals last month in Miami, Brown was heard complaining that the Cavaliers were having second thoughts about the inexperience of Wizards player personnel director Milt Newton, who at the time was Brown's hand-picked choice to become Cleveland's GM. In order to demonstrate that Newton was worthy of the Cavs' job, Brown asked Joe Dumars how much front-office experience he had before the Pistons elevated him to his current post as president of basketball operations. You can imagine that Dumars would have preferred Brown to be focused solely on that night's game, which the Pistons lost 88-76 despite an injury to Dwyane Wade.

The next day during an optional workout in Auburn Hills, Mich., Brown spent 20 minutes on the sideline of the practice court berating Liz Robbins of The New York Times, who a week earlier had broken the news that Brown was close to joining the Cavaliers as team president. Several of Brown's players were on the court, putting in extra work in hope of overcoming their 3-2 deficit to the Miami, while point guard Chauncey Billups was in Dumars' office plotting a strategy to adapt the Pistons' pick-and-roll against Shaquille O'Neal. Everyone was focused on trying to beat the Heat except for Brown, who -- in full view of his players -- was acting as if he cared more about his next job than about leading the Pistons to a successful title defense. "It would be nice if he was in here with us," said Billups, glancing at Brown from the window of Dumars' office.

Why Thomsen and others in the press didn't put these details forward at the time is confusing to me. That Detroit managed to come so close to repeating under these distracting circumstances is a testament to the professionalism of those players.

So what the hell is wrong with Larry Brown? This is the guy who was negotiating to become the head coach at Kansas while he was coaching the New Jersey Nets in the playoffs over two decades ago. Then he said he'd return to Kansas after winning a national title--he lied. In fact, check out the hall of fame bio listing of Brown's coaching career stops:

ABA's Carolina Cougars (1973-74) (104-64)
ABA's Denver Rockets (1975-76) (125-43)
NBA's Denver Nuggets (1977-79) (126-91)
UCLA (1980-81) (42-17)
NBA's New Jersey Nets (1982-83) (91-67)
University of Kansas (1984-88) (135-33)
NBA's San Antonio Spurs (1989-92) (153-131)
NBA's Los Angeles Clippers (1992-93) (64-29)
NBA's Indiana Pacers (1994-97) (190-138)
NBA's Philadelphia 76ers (1998-2003; announced his resignation on May 26, 2003) (255-205; 26-30 in the playoffs).
NBA's Detroit Pistons (2003 - present)

How many hall of fame coaches have had that many pro or major college gigs?

Certainly, Brown is a very talented basketball mind who has gotten results on the court (the 2004 Olympics being a notable exception). However, he is not quite among the elite coaching ranks, in my view, because of his tendency to leave teams so soon, without leaving much of a long-term impact on the organization. The great ones don't keep moving from job to job like they have ants in their pants.

The Hot Seat? Really?

In more important news, I wanted to point out Dan Shaughnessy's hysterical column in the Tuesday Boston Globe that concludes by saying Terry Fracona "is suddenly sitting on the hot seat" because he didn't pinch hit John Olerud for Alex Cora in the ninth inning Sunday night.

Really, I'm not kidding. That was a killer moment (I recall thinking to myself, I hope he just strikes out, rather than make a double play; then he made a double play), sure enough, but I don't think it wipes away the World Series championship just yet. I would've preferred a column on how ESPN slipped Francona some cash to let Cora hit so that the ESPYs wouldn't be delayed.

Gotta Be the Hair

I was gonna do a jokey post about how John Roberts is also the name of the CBS News anchor, but Wonkette already did that. I think the permalink is broken as of now. Forget I mentioned it.

Sorry, that's all I got for now. Bush nominated someone conservative, what a shock.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Not So Bloggy

I'm withholding comment for now until the investigation is complete. Come back next week and I might have something to say.

Monday, July 11, 2005

I Hate All-Star Games

This is the worst week on the sports calendar easily. Last year I intentionally didn't watch the baseball All-Star Game because it sucks every year. Instead I went to see Spider-Man 2, I think it was, and then I get home to hear that Clemens has given up six runs, starting what was supposedly his final All-Star appearance back in Houston. I would've enjoyed seeing that, which is what I get, I guess. This year, I think I'll have it on the telly but I'll plan on doing other stuff at the same time. That sounds about right. When does football start again?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Bill Rehnquist, Drama Queen

Would the chief justice please tell us if he's retiring or not? The term is over, Bill. Make your decision, and make it public.

Part of me thinks he'll retire on Monday after he decided not to do it yesterday just to spite the reporters who claimed he was going to do so.

Stalking Steve Bartman

I'm surprised ESPN.com would publish a story about how its reporter stalked Steve Bartman by waiting outside his house, following him in his car, and eventually accosting him in a parking garage by his workplace. That doesn't seem like totally above-board journalism to me.

One useful thing that this debut "E-Ticket" (ESPN.com's "new weekend feature") does is tell fans the exact location of the Bartman seat: Aisle 4, row 8, seat 113. If you're heading to Wrigley any time soon, you might want to request that one, or at least stop by there during batting practice for a look.

Also, this is wrong since Michelle Wie is only 15, but I had to laugh at the headline and subhead on a Chicago Tribune article yesterday: "Topped by Wie, partners stay in good humor:
'She's going to beat a lot of guys the rest of her life,' says one."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Why Are Froomkin/Zogby Surprised?

Today's White House Briefing discusses a recent Zogby poll:

But the jaw-dropper was that 42 percent said they would favor impeachment proceedings if it is found that the president misled the nation about his reasons for going to war with Iraq. ...

Shailagh Murray of The Washington Post made the poll results the third item in the paper's Sunday politics column: "Even the pollster couldn't believe his eyes. 'It was much higher than I expected,' John Zogby said of the 42 percent.

Why is this so shocking to people? If lying about war isn't an impeachable offense, what is (other than lying about getting oral sex)?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Who Am I? Why Am I Here?

James Stockdale finally will meet his maker and get some answers. God speed, vice admiral. The Wikipedia bio reminds us that, "During his run for the Vice-Presidency, Stockdale was perceived as incoherent and disoriented by the American public."

Washington Dubyas

In keeping with my alleged sports-politics hybrid blog theme, I present to you this link to an article on how many Washington Nationals fans see the "W" logo as political in light of the president's middle initial. I was on board this train way back in November--take that, Washington Post!

Personally, I prefer the "DC" model caps, which are also sold but not worn by the team in any games, as the article notes. That's for aesthetic reasons too, though the political coincidence helps, I admit.

Live8 Follies

Eric Alterman sums up my thoughts on Live8 nicely with a short play:

Scene: The G-8 Meeting. Characters: George and Tony.

Tony: Hey George.

George: Hey Tony.

Tony: So George, I see your country gives a paltry 0.16 percent of GDP for development aid to poor nations, making you like, the most selfish people in the world. How about giving billions and billions instead so we can "make poverty history."

George: Um, no. I’d rather spend it on war.

Tony: But George, a whole lot of rock stars think we should. Of course they didn’t give any money themselves, and they didn’t bother to raise any either, but they played a bunch of big concerts and lots of people watched and the MTV and VH1 VJs were all talking about how cool it was. Pink Floyd re-united and stuff. Madonna was great even though she was a little potty mouthed. And Paul and Bono played Sgt. Pepper. Anyway, it was bloody wonderful. We all held hands and sang Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na. Na, Na, Na, Na. Heyyyyy Jude at the end, even the VJs….

George. Oh, OK, I’m convinced. Forget about the war. Here’s the money.

The end.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for throwing kickass concerts, let's just not get too messianic about it.

If not the music, then maybe a romantic comedy set at the G-8 will convince the leaders of what to do! (Actually a funny movie, it's just the preachy bits came off as...preachy.)