Friday, June 30, 2006

Superman Returns, and so do I

I've heard such conflicting testimony regarding Superman Returns that I don't know what to expect. God knows I'm put off by the truncating of his famous motto, his vow to fight for "Truth, justice, and the American way." This slogan, now delivered by Perry White as "Truth, justice . . . and all that stuff," is so perfectly awful I almost thought to boycott the movie on principle.

But I'll probably see it. I'll probably see on the basis of the John Williams score, which occupies (I've read) the first ten minutes of the movie, before turning the music over to the newest tyro. What the music, the plot, the notion of Superman brought me back to, was the emblematic experience of Superman, which was the apotheosis of one of the pleasure of my early life, which was going to the movies wth my brothers.

We grew up in Phoenix. In Phoenix, in the summer, there were only two things to do: swim, or go to the movies in an air-conditioned theatre. My first full summer in Phoenix (1973) some organization--the school district or the city or something--had a summer movie session, ten movies for a five-dollar subscription, during which I was exposed to some of the most memorable films of my young life. Support Your Local Sheriff; Guns of the Magnificent Seven; Around the World in Eighty Days; It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World; Yours, Mine and Ours; My Side of the Mountain: these were movies I remembered to this day, all screened at the Cine Capri, the only theatre in Phoenix to attain legendary status. Starting the following summer, the series went straight to crap, offering one Don Knotts atrocity after another, and--on my mom's advice--we bowed out.

From that point on, we picked our movies one at a time. Occasionally, when my father would take my brothers to out-of-town swim meets (both my brothers swam competitively, and rather well), my mother would take me something on a Saturday night. The Goodbye Girl was something I remember well, and The One and Only, Henry Winkler's second unsuccessful stab to 1) break into film as a leading man, and 2) transcend the Fonz. My mother's wishes (whether conscious or not) were to make us as independent as possible and to expose us to as much of the world as she could without harming us. So it had been, earlier in Massachusetts, that her oldest six-year-old son and her middle three-year-old son would be sent on errands to the market with six inches of snow on the ground: down our street, across the school yard, then along the next street to the corner. And so it was that she took me, at eleven, and my youngest brother, at six, to see Saturday Night Fever, with its stories of sex and drugs, maybe half of which I understood. (To be fair, we were weeks from turning twelve and seven, respectively).

My other movie-going memories involved those brothers of mine. Such was our suburban situation that, until I reached age of twelve, there were no theatres even within bike-riding distance. The only theatres reasonably reachable by bus were Metrocenter, on the West side, or the Palms Theatre, which was down Central Avenue. the Palms--one of those stand-alones pushed out by higher rent and the multiplexes, was good for the re-rlease of The Sting and the so-called "special edition" of Close Encounters. Metrocenter, which featured three theatres, a large main one and two smaller ones I remember as being the first theatre to charge more than a buck for a children's matinee: $1.25 to be exact, which seemed ruinous at the time. I always remember Metrocenter as the theatre where it was easiest to sneak into an R-rated movie. The bathroom was on a second floor, near the projector booths, but reachable by two separate stairways, a very public one by the concession stands, and an isolated one near the main theatre. To sneak in, provided the R-rated film played in the large theatre, one walked up the public stairway, through the hallway, done the isolated stairway, and into the theatre. Ushers were a lot more vigilant then.

Occasionally my mother could be hectored into driving us to the Cris-Town Mall and its wider selection. Cris-Town featured two theatres: a stand-alone along 19th Avenue, four screens (more later), including the second-best screen in the city, after the Cine Capri; it came complete with comfy velvet chairs. Inside the mall was the UA Cinema Six, a half-dozen screens accessible by escalator and perched like a treehouse above the rest of the mall. (I had no idea where the "United Artists" name came from. First I thought it only showed UA films, but that didn't pan out. Then I assumed UA was paying the rent, but in college was taught in Drew Casper's Intro to Film class that the studios had been required in the 1950s to sell their theatre interests. So, to this day, I don't know.) My mother, presented with the opportunity to rid herself of three boys on a summer's afternoon, would drive us on one condition: we either needed to see a double feature, or else sit through our film twice. (Funny thing: it never occurred to us to simply sneak into another film after our first. As I wrote, ushers used to be more vigilant, and all six theatres could be seen at once.) Occasionally, as far as my mother was concerned, we'd hit the jackpot, and enjoy the first film so much that we'd watch it a second time, thus giving our mother seven or so hours of peace and quiet. This was true of Race With the Devil, which played on the same bill with the third release of Butch Cassidy.

(Funny thing, that. The last movie I saw in re-release was ten years ago this summer, Taxi Driver. I love DVDs, which essentially replaced the re-release, but something has been lost.)

Movies are often about disappointments, often as not, the way that baseball is ultimately about losing. My brother Robbie and I went to Escape to Athena expecting a socko action picture and were disappointed. The Cheap Detective was a no-miss, with Peter Falk and a cast of dozens, except it wasn't funny. What kept my brothers and me coming back was the thought that we might experience the sublime, might see something we'd remember our entire lives.

Superman was such a moment. To be specific: the first ten minutes of Superman reached such a level of transcendence that the remaining hundred minutes served as little more than an anti-climax. Starting with the boy reading the comic book, leading to the pan up to the Daily Planet tower, then to the moon, then into the journey to Krypton, accompanied by the John Williams score which, as with Jaws and Star Wars, was perfectly suited to the moment, the sequence was pitch-perfect.

The peak of the film was the trial of General Zod (Terence Stamp), Zod's plea for his life with Jor-El (Marlon Brando), then his threat ("No matter that it takes an eternity! You will bow down before me! Both you, and then some day, your heirs!"); folllowed by the destruction of Krypton. In the same way that Apocalypse Now fell off the table after Robert Duvall's helicopter attack, aka the greatest battle scene ever filmed, Superman went from an epic to a comic book in the journey back from Krypton to Earth.

Still, the epic remains. My brother John and I have such an attachment to that first segment that we've seen it a hundred different times in a dozen different ways. John once filmed the first segment on my Super-8 camera, then screened the film: essentially, a film of a TV broadcast of a film. I taped my brother's LP soundtrack of the movie for my Walkman, straight through to Marlon Brando's first line ("This is no fantasy!"). When I visited my brother and sister-in-law two years ago, I noticed he had the Superman DVD and begged him to screen it for me. Prince that he is, he did. All I really wanted to see was the first part, but we saw it through, and wondered for the hundredth time: how the hell does Superman turn back time by reversing the earth's orbit? Just how did that work?

One other thing. My brothers and I have similar senses of humor, and John and I laughed in two different spots--and now we laugh to this day, remembering them. When Superman saves the girl's cat, and the girl runs in and says that a man came out of the sky, and gets slapped for telling lies--man, I'm laughing now. And when Perry White (Jackie Cooper) asks of Superman, "What's his favorite ball team?" and Clark Kent (Christopher Reeve) makes as if to answer--people, I'm talking funny.

I was late to the original Superman. When I saw it, John had already seen it. We sat in the plush chairs of the big theatre at Chris-Town, and when it was over, and the credits ran, I stood up to go, and he said, "Hang on." So the credits ran some more, and again I got up, and he said, "Hang on." And we got to the end of the credits, and I saw the words: "Coming next year: Superman II." I asked him, "You kept me here to see that?" And he said, "Sure."

Then we biked home. There was never a theatre built closer to our house. It was that we just grew old enough to pedal to Cris-Town ourselves.

Yanks 2, Mets 0

Nothing good ever comes from a rain delay, but a good win nonetheless.

The Yankees have 19 games against the Red Sox and six against the Mets--every year, year after year--which basically amounts to 25 Game Sevens filled with emotion and history and bitterness. A little less than one-sixth of the season crammed into decades. Too reasonably much, as if weights were hung upon the 200 million-dollar Yankees as if to compensate for their payroll and history and success.

One other thought: can Mike Mussina ever catch a break? A no-hitter through four. Then, rain. Given his age, he has to come out. So he misses out on the no-hitter, the shutout, even the freaking win. My guess is he ends up with 19 wins again.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Quote of the week

Jim Rome, on the NBA:

"There's no Lebron in this year's draft, but if there were, the Houston Texans would find a way to pass on him."

Check this out

From Lucianne, one after the other:

Democrats: Don't Politicize Immigration
Associated Press, by Will Lester Original Article
Posted By: Gray Ghost - 6/29/2006 9:56:10 PM Post Reply
Washington - Democrats leading their party's midterm election effort argued on Thursday that any Republican attempt to use immigration as a central campaign issue would backfire. They cited Republican plans to hold hearings on illegal immigration around the country this summer, rather than passing immigration legislation in Congress, as a sign of the GOP strategy to motivate conservative voters.

Democrats Attack GOP on Immigration
Associated Press, by Staff Original Article
Posted By: Gray Ghost - 6/29/2006 9:56:02 PM Post Reply
Washington - Democrats leading their party's midterm election effort argued on Thursday that any Republican attempt to use immigration as a central campaign issue would backfire. They cited Republican plans to hold hearings on illegal immigration around the country this summer, rather than passing immigration legislation in Congress, as a sign of the GOP strategy to motivate conservative voters.

The most incredible scam-a-scammer ever

Incredible, if true.

Please be true. Here it is.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Yanks 4, Braves 3

A-Rod's walk-off. And I pick this afternoon to go see Da Vinci Code.

Yeah, too bad A-Rod's a choke and all.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Braves 5, Yanks 2

Taught night school this evening (police, composition) and so missed the first five innings.

This was one that brought out one of the essential truisms of baseball: that a seizable moment comes two or three times in a game, if at all.

Bottom of the seventh, 2-1 Braves. Damon up, two out, first and second. Damon takes strike three looking. I don't know the last time Dmon took strike three. When he was beating the Yankees' brains out he never took strike three.

All right. 2-1, eighth inning. Jeter, Giambi, A-Rod, Posada due up in the bottom of the inning. So: hold them, dummies. Kardiac Kyle brought in for just that reason.

And, and? Two outs, runner on second, Francouer bloop single makes it 3-1. Never mind what happened after. The game ended there.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Damn straight

As I've written before, the most vivid memory of Election Night, 2004, is of Michael Barone flipping through what seemed like hundreds of pages of election results, going county-by-county, sometimes precinct-by-precint, to make clear that Florida, and then Ohio, was going for Bush.

To re-capitulate: had either state gone for Kerry . . . ugh.

That night made me a Barone guy. So I add extra credence to what he writes here. Quite frankly, The New York Times is hurting us.

The editors at NRO ysterday urged the White House to yank the Times' reporters credentials. Such a gesture would be a socko moment for the right. So of course the White Hosue won't do it. Pity.

Yanks 5, Braves 2

The final chapter of the Tribe kerfuffle. Unit's six-game suspension results in extra rest, whereupon he throws his best stuff of the season. Seven shut-out innings.

Giambi, two homers, all five RBI.

Last night's nightcap didn't happen, though I did see it coming. Yesterday afternoon's 2-1 victory was so marvelous--really, only college football, and maybe golf, can compete with baseball for making you happy just to be alive--I knew the nightcap could only be a let-down, even with a Yankee win.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Yanks 2, Marlins 1

Ah, what a lovely game. I wish I had been there, but watching it was sweet enough. My moments:

Cano's two-out laser to Posada in the fifth to nail the runner at the plate (the throw came in so quickly Posada actually had time to turn and brace his feet).

Moose wiggling out of it in the sixth, going first-and-second, nobody out, and forcing the Marlins to settle for one. It would have been none, but his two-out, two-strike fastball to Miguel Cabrera was a foot lower than Posada's target: belly-high instead of letters-high. RBI bloop to center, and we're tied.

Damon's dinger. Nice to see Damon go upper-tank for our side.

Kardiac Kyle with his usual eighth-inning thrills and chills, but unhurt. Great pick-up and throw by defensive replacement Crosby to keep pinch-runner Borchard at third.

Torre outmanaging pupil Girardi in the same inning, with a little help from Farnsworth. One out, Borchard third, Ramirez first; Girardi has Ramirez steal second. Now DH Jacobs HAS to make contact past the drawn-in infield; if he strikes or taps out, the infield pulls back and Cabrera gets an intentional walk. Sure enough, Jacobs does strike out, the infield pulls back, Farnsworth walks Cabrera, then strikes out Willingham. Farnsworth's K of Jacobs was the second-most important out of Farnsworth's year, right behind his bases-loaded K of Papi a month ago. It effectively removed Cabrera from the game and allowed Farnsworth to go after Willingham.

Mo in the ninth, end of the order. Eleven pitches. Three outs. Wonderful baseball. Just wonderful, wonderful baseball.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Submitted without comment

Overheard today: "Did you hear? Tori Spelling's father died."

Ten great things about jogging, in Houston, in the afternoon, in June

1. The sweating. You should sweat every day.

2. Finishing. Why lie?

3. The bottle of Evian water I purchase at Bayou Liquor at the halfway point of my 7.5-mile trek. My path takes me to the corner of Waugh and Allen Parkway. With tax, a bottle of water comes to $1.09. The woman who runs the store came up with an ingenious deal for me: so I didn't have to jingling change in my pocket, I could purchase one bottle for one dollar nine times, then give her two dollars for the tenth bottle. In truth, she would probably never ask for the second dollar if I didn't keep track myself.

4. Drinking the bottle of Evian water, which is not to be confused with the bottle of Evian as a concept. I come out of the store and open the bottle and drink the water as I walk the length of the strip mall, past the Subway (where I buy my water on Sundays--Texas Blue Laws), past a Chinese restaurant, past a flower shop. The mall's mailbox is located at the convergence of a stairway, an elevator, and four steps on the sidewalk; I place the cap atop the mailbox and, if it is still there the next day, place another cap next to it, and another. The highest I ever got was five, about a year ago. Since then, no more than two. Someone is being vigilant.

5. The landscaper. My path for about two miles each way takes me through exclusive River Oaks, first the length of River Oaks Boulevard, almost to the country club, then down Inwood, then up Kirby until it curves into the Allen Parkway. Halfway down Inwood, a sixtyish woman comes a few times a week in a big panel truck and, for what must be a few hours, tends the elaborate pattern of trees and bushes in someone's front yard. If we are close enough to speak (say, if she's entering or exiting her truck), she'll say, "Kind of hot!" as I pass. If she is tending the garden with her enormous gloves and wide-brimmed sun hat she'll wave. Then, when I come back an hour later she'll wave again. If I'm ever accused of murder, she may come in handy as an alibi.

6. Working on a tan and feeling virtuous at the same time.

7. The hose. Nearly across the street from the elaborate garden is a renovation project of a brick house. (The thing about River Oaks renovation projects is that they go on for years. A white mansion at the corner of River Oaks and Avalon--a few yards from where I met Ken Lay passing me the other way--was in a state of constant renovation for something like seven years.) If no construction crew is around, or is in the back, I help myself to a drink at the garden hose.

8. The cement garden and coffee house that signals that only a quarter-mile remains.

9. The anticipation of shower, beer, dry clothes.

10. When the Astros are on my Walkman.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Yanks 6, Marlins 5

This game took too much out of me. Good night.

Update:What characterizes great Yankee teams is their ability to pounce on mistakes. From Mike Torrex's 0-2 fastball (Bucky Dent), to Mark Wohlers'hanging slider (Jim Leyritz) to Timo Perez's laziness on the basepath (Game 1, 2000 World Series), the popular adage is that you canot open the door for the Yankees, for they will kick it down. That trend, too long absent in this Yankee team, was on display tonight. The Yanks turned three extra outs into a 3-0 lead and were never caught.

The fourth inning might have been my favorite. One out, Damon on second, Giambi on first, A-Rod up. A-Rod lashes a foul down left, misses a home run by five seats. A few pitches later, A-Rod shortens his swing, settles for a single to center. Damon scores, Giambi to second. Then Posada (who is all of a sudden looking like the team's half-season MVP, considering both his hitting and how he's handled the pitching staff) singles, scoring Giambi. Wild pitch, runners to second and third. Sac fly Bernie, A-Rod scores. 6-3, just enough to hang on for 6-5.

Kardiac Kyle actually pitched decently in the eighth, despite the run, and Mo was Mo. Eleven pitches, three out.

It is becoming clear that Bernie Williams is going to get the "Paul O-NEE-all" (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap) treatment--and, of all things, while playing in right field, the spot O'Neill graced for eight seasons.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

"Aye, we'll pay for this tomorrow."

Early in life, I was drawn to my mother's Irish heritage: the gregariousness, the music, the beer.

Now, at my age, I feel my father's Scottish side emerging more with each passing year: the thrift, the morbid streak, the golf. Came across this on NRO's The Corner:

1) A story from a reader: "On an unusually clear summer day, we were walking on a countryside road [in Scotland]. We passed another gentleman, and remarked to him what a nice day it was. 'Aye,' he said, 'we'll pay for this tomorrow.'"

(2) Dr. Johnson:

(2a) "The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England!" (Boswell: Life)

(2b) "What enemy would invade Scotland, where there is nothing to be got?" (Boswell: Life)

(2c) Asked by a Scot what Johnson thought of Scotland: "That it is a very vile country, to be sure, Sir" "Well, Sir! (replies the Scot, somewhat mortified), God made it." Johnson: "Certainly he did; but we must always remember that he made it for Scotchmen, and comparisons are odious, Mr. S———; but God made hell." (Piozzi: Anecdotes)

(2d) "Knowledge was divided among the Scots, like bread in a besieged town, to every man a mouthful, to no man a bellyful." (Piozzi: Anecdotes)

(2e) Mr. Arthur Lee mentioned some Scotch who had taken possession of a barren part of America, and wondered why they would choose it. Johnson: "Why, Sir, all barrenness is comparative. The Scotch would not know it to be barren." Boswell: "Come, come, he is flattering the English. You have now been in Scotland, Sir, and say if you did not see meat and drink enough there." Johnson: "Why yes, Sir; meat and drink enough to give the inhabitants sufficient strength to run away from home." (Boswell: Life)

(2f) At dinner, Mrs. Thrale expressed a wish to go and see Scotland. Johnson: "Seeing Scotland, Madam, is only seeing a worse England. It is seeing the flower gradually fade away to the naked stalk." (Boswell: Life)

(2g) "Your country consists of two things, stone and water. There is, indeed, a little earth above the stone in some places, but a very little; and the stone is always appearing. It is like a man in rags; the naked skin is still peeping out." (Boswell: Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides)

(2h) At St. Andrews Mr. Boswell found only one [tree], and recommended it to my notice; I told him it was rough and low, or looked as if I thought so. This, said he, is nothing to another a few miles off. I was still less delighted to hear that another tree was not to be seen nearer. Nay, said a gentleman that stood by, I know but of this and that tree in the county." (Johnson: Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland)

(2i) "He that travels in the Highlands may easily saturate his soul with intelligence, if he will acquiesce in the first account. The highlander gives to every question an answer so prompt and peremptory, that skepticism itself is dared into silence, and the mind sinks before the bold reporter in unresisting credulity; but, if a second question be ventured, it breaks the enchantment; for it is immediately discovered, that what was told so confidently was told at hazard, and that such fearlessness of assertion was either the sport of negligence, or the refuge of ignorance." (Johnson: Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland)

This just got interesting (to me, anyway)

In order:

1. Conflict of interest charges surface against Markos Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong, suggesting that Moulitsas provided favorable press for left-wing candidates on his site, Daily Kos, in return for said candidates' hiring Armstrong as a consultant. Armstrong, who recently settled with the SEC in a separate stock-touting scheme, therefore has a record in similar pay-for-play behavior. Moulitsas posts this on the supposedly off-the-record web site Townhouse, for the private consumption of left-wing bloggers:

This story will percolate in wingnut circles until then, but I haven't gotten a single serious media call about it yet. Not one. So far, this story isn't making the jump to the traditional media, and we shouldn't do anything to help make that happen.

My request to you guys is that you ignore this for now. It would make my life easier if we can confine the story. Then, once Jerome can speak and defend himself, then I'll go on the offensive (which is when I would file any lawsuits) and anyone can pile on. If any of us blog on this right now, we fuel the story. Let's starve it of oxygen. And without the "he said, she said" element to the story, you know political journalists are paralyzed into inaction.

2. In keeping with Joseph Kennedy's maxim, "Don't commit anything to writing you wouldn't mind reading on page one of The New York Times," Moulitsas's posting falls into the hands of The New Republic's Jason Zengerle, who publishes the posting in TNR's "The Plank." Zengerle compares Kos's posting to a "dictat" from a virtual "smoke-filled room."

3. Kossaks (Moulitsas's wide-eyed acolytes) go nuts. Open threads fill up with postings of the "Yeah, you got him--and he killed Hoffa, too," variety.

4. Finally Kos writes on his own behalf on Daily Kos. The full text is more artifact than apologia, unintentionally revealing the paranoia, defensiveness, name-calling and faulty reasoning that dominate his site. The title is a good indication: "TNR's defection to the right is now complete."

A few highlights.

About "Townhouse," Moulitsas writes:

There was one big rule for this list, an important cog in the growing Vast Left Wing Conspiracy -- everything discussed was off the record.

That was obviously violated today as the New Republic betrayed, once again, that it seeks to destroy the new people-powered movement for the sake of its Lieberman-worshipping neocon owners; that it stands with the National Review and wingnutoshpere in their opposition to grassroots Democrats.

The magazine published, in its website, an email I sent to the list. There is nothing controversial about the email, but Jason Zengerle tried to spin it as evidence that there is a "smoke-filled room" and that I send "dictats" to other bloggers, controlling what they can and cannot write about. In a subsequent post, Zengerle went further, saying that I control the financial fates of much of the progressive blogosphere. My power apparently knows no bounds!

Leaving aside the notion of "Joe Lieberman" as a curse word for the left (he's not the most exciting dude in the world, but wow), a few thoughts. There is no indication that either TNR or Zengerle are either members of "Townhouse" or signatories to the off-the-record agreement. As Moulitsas doesn't clarify this either way, one must assume that they aren't. Conclusion: somebody finked Moulitsas out, but it wasn't TNR.

As to "nothing controversial," try to imagine Jonah Goldberg writing Hugh Hewitt, Powerline and Captain's Quarters and telling them to keep quiet an accusation against NRO that had been made in The New York Times.

Markos on TNR:

Ludicrous, all of it, but that's the new rules of the game. TNR and its enablers are feeling the heat of their own irrelevance and this is how they fight it -- by undermining the progressive movement. Zengerle has made common cause with the wingnutosphere, using the laughable "kosola" frame they created and emailing his "scoops" to them for links. This is what the once-proud New Republic has evolved into -- just another cog of the Vast RIGHT Wing Conspiracy.

The notion of Peter Beinart as a cog in the VRWC--how far out do you have to be?

Then this:

If you still hold a subscription to that magazine, it really is time to call it quits. If you see it in a magazine rack, you might as well move it behind the National Review or even NewsMax, since that's who they want to be associated with these days.

This is beyond cute. Funny thing is, I did cancel my TNR subscription seven or eight years ago, when publisher Martin Peretz fired Michael Kelly, God rest his soul. The real beauty here is the call to hide the magazine behind other magazines--a common enough tactic among the left, who often brag about filtching Ann Coulter books from Politics and Current Events and hiding them in Gay Issues. But note the tone Moulitsas uses: not instructing the reader to hide copies of the magazine (as he does re cancelling subscriptions) but stating that Kossaks "might as well" hide them, as if he arrived to this conclusion with great reluctance. The poor, overburdened man.

The real coup de grace somes two paragraphs later:

But I do admit being surprised by the sheer creativity of their invented attacks, such as my supposed "pay for play" scheme. Let me be crystal clear. I deny that charge completely. I have stated the sources of my income and they do not include money from people asking me to shill for anyone or anything.

The rhetoric here is Clintonesque in its inventiveness. No one is accusing Moulitsas of accepting money. They're accusing Armstrong of accepting money. They're accusing Moulitsas of improper shilling.


Problem for these writers, is that the law doesn't protect such defamation. The truth is an absolute defense to libel cases. If they have evidence for those smears, then they have nothing to fear. But if they, say, recklessly invented all manners of illegal or unethical activities by me without bothering to see if they bore any basis in truth, then they'll have plenty to worry about.

Hmm. If they have evidence for those smears. Meaning they might? Keep in mind--if anyone has noticed--that Moulitsas has not denied his own role in pay-for-play as it has been defined by third parties.

So in the end, what do we have?

1. Moulitsas blaming a TNR writer for breaching a confidence between Moulitsas and certain others, which is a bit like Barry Bonds suing the authors of Game of Shadows, not for libel but because the book used grand jury testimony.

2. Moulitsas trying to stifle unfavorable news about himself, then calling the action "nothing controversial."

3. Moulitsas encouraging (with a note of feigned weariness, so to give himself an out) the hiding, in magazine stores, of a magazine he doesn't like.

4. Moulitsas denying the charges against him, but doing so in such a way that misstates the charge against him, and declares himself innocent of something no one has accused him of.

Then, two consecutive posts at NRO's The Corner:

You Want a Conspiracy [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

An e-mail:

Regarding your post in the corner:

The Newest Member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy [Kathryn Jean Lopez ]
The New Republic, according to DailyKos. Posted at 6:49 AM

Make note that there is speculation that Hillary is behind the attacks on Kos - she is perturbed by their petulance and will not let them interfere with her presidential ascendancy.

Now, who orginally came up with the concept of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy?

Posted at 10:27 AM

Kos & Affect [Jonah Goldberg]

From a reader:


Interesting: Kos demands that everyone shut up about the SEC issue, since Jerome Armstrong cannot speak out (being in the midst of litigation). That never stopped him from blogging about everyone else in the middle of litigation (think: Rove, Libby, Haditha soldiers, et al). Another case of "Do as I say, not as I do"

A second data point: Notice in the post that KLo linked to: he imputes all sorts of nefarious schemes to the owners of The New Republic, while simultaneously stating that he is but a simple blogger. He then sends out an email that, frankly, reads as 'marching orders' to the group members.

Kos has the ability to hold others to rules that he himself violates at will.

Continuing . . .

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Yanks 5, Phils 0

Didn't see it. YES strikes again. But a nice thumping.

A strong season by Jared Wright could go a long way toward locking down the team.

They now remain, I think, an outfield bat short, despite strong third-seasons by something old (Bernie) and something new (Melky).

Jacque Jones is the new hot name.

Trouble for Kos?

Normally, I'm averse to pay attention to screams of "conflict of interest!", in part because they're almost always either overblown or contradictory or both (Dick Cheney ordered the invasion of Iraq to make money for Halliburton so he could profit exactly how on his government salary?); or else they're just plain boring (Armstrong Williams, Harry Reid with his boxing tickets).

This had been my up-to-now response to the current inquiry into Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitasis and partner, political consultant Jerome Armstrong, and allegations that Kos provided favorable cyberpress for candidates who took on Armstrong as a paid consultant. I took in the ongoing coverage of the--I wondered, is there even an investigation as such?--in the same way I took in the non-U.S. Group World Cup scores, with barely a flicker of attention.

Until today.

Clearly, Kos is worried, as shown here, in The New Republic:

TNR obtained a missive Kos sent earlier this week to "Townhouse," a private email list comprising elite liberal bloggers, including Jane Hamsher, Matt Stoller, and Christy Hardin Smith. And what was Kos's message to this group that secretly plots strategy in the digital equivalent of a smoke-filled backroom? Stay mum! He wrote (emphasis added below--note, emphasis mine, TY):

The YearlyKos media people have already forced corrections at Slate and NY Times (Suellentrop's blog). There has been some serious overreach by the few outlets that picked up this story (which as I mentioned before has been shopped around). It was interesting how this one piddly-ass story was used to try and smear Jerome, me, AND YearlyKos.

So the only paper to run this as a news story is the disgraceful NY Post. Others who picked up on it have had to backtrack from their original sensationalistic claims.

I am exploring legal options against some of the wingnut bloggers who are claiming I'm syphoning netroots money into consultants and my own pockets. Note how Glenn Reynolds is fueling it with his typical passive aggressive, "I don't think it's a big deal, but let me provide links to everyone who thinks this is THE BIGGEST STORY EVER!"

And Jerome's case, if it could be aired out, is a non-story (he was a poor grad student at the time so he settled because he had no money). Jerome can't talk about it now since the case is not fully closed. But once it is, he'll go on the offensive. That should be a couple of months off.

This story will percolate in wingnut circles until then, but I haven't gotten a single serious media call about it yet. Not one. So far, this story isn't making the jump to the traditional media, and we shouldn't do anything to help make that happen.

My request to you guys is that you ignore this for now. It would make my life easier if we can confine the story. Then, once Jerome can speak and defend himself, then I'll go on the offensive (which is when I would file any lawsuits) and anyone can pile on. If any of us blog on this right now, we fuel the story. Let's starve it of oxygen. And without the "he said, she said" element to the story, you know political journalists are paralyzed into inaction.

Thanks, markos

So far, Kos's friends in the fiercely independent liberal blogosphere seem to have displayed a sheep-like obedience to his dictat. And while it's true that Kos himself hinted at the controversy in this blog post yesterday, he didn't come anywhere close to addressing the questions that really matter. You might even call Kos and company's behavior in this whole affair just another case of politics as usual. So much for crashing the gates.

P.S. Was Armstrong really, as Kos claims, a "poor grad student" when he settled with the SEC? Armstrong agreed to the settlement in December 2003. That was eleven months after he and Kos started their political consulting business and six months after the two were hired by the Dean campaign at a rate of $3,000 a month

--Jason Zengerle

How they're handling this on Kos, I'll deal with tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Yanks 9, Phils 7

Didn't see it; MLB Package has gone Spartan on me. Of course, MLB blames YES, which blames Cablevision, which blames MLB, which blames YES.

Had to get the details here.

Bernie 5-for-5. Yanks overcome Ryan Howard's 7 RBI. Mo back on the horse.

Wished I'd a seen it.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Mickelson, two days later; and Fisking Skip

Yesterday, eleven inches of rain saved me from a miserable day at the office.

I'd never lost sleep over a golf match--not my own, not anyone else's--but the though of Phil Mickelson's complete and utter meltdown at Sunday's Open was too much to bear. Woke up every half-hour all night, thinking I'd dreamt the whole thing.

No such luck.

Monday morning, eight am. Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my hair. Found my way downstairs and drank a cup. Looking up, I noticed I was late.

Then checked the weather on TV, saw that eleven inches of rain had closed down the city . . . and crawled back into bed.

In, Skip Bayless believes Phil had no choice. Skip:

This wasn't a mental blunder. This was purely physical. Needing par to win, he should have hit driver on 18, and he did. He just shouldn't have bounced it off the hospitality tent.

So don't buy Mickelson's excuse.

"I am such an idiot," he said, playing the sympathy card much better than he played No. 18 on Sunday.

No, this had nothing to do with Jean Van de Velde's situation at the 1999 British Open. Van de Velde needed to make only a double bogey to win and wound up making a triple.

Again, Mickelson needed par.

Remember, he had birdied Nos. 11 and 15 out of the rough to take a two-shot lead. On the par-4 17th, he hit another banana-slice, this one landing in a trash bag beyond the trees and gaining him a lucky drop on the trampled-down spectator path. And he hit another thing of beauty, a smoked fade that curved around the trees and chased up into the middle of the green. What a par that was.

So now Mickelson needed to make one more 4 on the par-4 18th. Sure, he could have played for a bogey and an 18-hole Monday playoff. But come on. This was Phil Mickelson, winner of two straight majors. This, as any fan at Winged Foot would have told you, was Phil "Freakin'" Mickelson, the toast of New York, the equivalent of Derek Jeter playing at Yankee Stadium. No. 18 isn't a 3-wood or 3-iron hole. It's a driver hole. Besides, Mickelson was carrying only a 4-wood. And as wildly as he was driving the ball, why should he risk missing the fairway with a 4-wood and leaving himself 250 yards from the flag?

No, he should have hit his driver and hoped for the best. After all, the odds were with him. He hadn't hit a fairway on the back nine.

Bayless has built a career out of his counterintuitive summaries of the day's sports scene: first scouting the conventional wisdom, then intuitively staking out its opposite. It's a nice strategy, not least of which effort was his break-out bestseller, God's Coach, in which Bayless ran straight at the popular myths surrounding the pre-Jerry Jones Dallas Cowboys. In his book, Bayless set out to destroy popular myths. That Tom Landry, supposedly God's Own Head Coach with an IBM mainframe for a skull, was actually a pious phoney, a fog-brained blunderer who lucked into two Super Bowl championships thanks to the efforts of a quarterback (Roger Staubach) smart enough to convert Landry's play calls into English. That Gil Brandt, the original Superscout, was actually a soulless dullard with a good ear but no instinct for talent (and what better proof, Bayless asked, that no NFL team would hire Brandt after Jones let him go?). That Tex Schramm, Mr. Corporate NFL, was actually the beneficiary of lecherous owner Clint Murchison's largesse, and handed interim owner Bum Bright a franchise that was bleeding money and bereft of talent.

That the Eagle Scout Cowboys, after Lance Rentzel, Hollywood Henderson, Too-Tall Jones . . . okay, you get the picture.

I've read God's Coach through twice, and while I think Bayless goes a little hard on Landry's piety (perhaps a little sympathy might be in order for a man tortured by the thought of saying "Get another career" to 22 year-olds), and almost certainly under-estimates Landry's coaching talent (I mean, someone got all those wins), I must admit, Bayless makes a compelling case.

But back to Mickelson. This time I'm not buying. Consider:

Remember, he had birdied Nos. 11 and 15 out of the rough to take a two-shot lead. On the par-4 17th, he hit another banana-slice, this one landing in a trash bag beyond the trees and gaining him a lucky drop on the trampled-down spectator path. And he hit another thing of beauty, a smoked fade that curved around the trees and chased up into the middle of the green. What a par that was.

Yes, and does anyone notice a pattern here? Crappy driver shot, gorgeous iron. The first rule of golf is: if your driver isn't working, keep it in your bag. Phil's irons worked for him all day, until he tried to go Tin Cup on 18. Two irons would have sufficed to get on the green: long, then short. And, as Bayless states, Phil didn't pack a three-wood? On Sunday? In the US Open? Sheesh. That's a whole other conversation.

So now Mickelson needed to make one more 4 on the par-4 18th. Sure, he could have played for a bogey and an 18-hole Monday playoff. But come on. This was Phil Mickelson, winner of two straight majors. This, as any fan at Winged Foot would have told you, was Phil "Freakin'" Mickelson, the toast of New York, the equivalent of Derek Jeter playing at Yankee Stadium.

Which is, Skip Bayless, the whole freakin' point. Mickelson couldn't, or wouldn't, pull himself out of the moment and simply concentrate on the best shot. Derek Jeter has hit quite a few memorable home runs. But he's going to the Hall of Fame on the strength of the singles he's dumped into right.

No. 18 isn't a 3-wood or 3-iron hole. It's a driver hole.

If your driver is working, yeah.

Besides, Mickelson was carrying only a 4-wood. And as wildly as he was driving the ball, why should he risk missing the fairway with a 4-wood and leaving himself 250 yards from the flag?

First, as I've already stated, on the hardest day in the golf calendar--Sunday at the US Open, when the fairways are as narrow as hallways--what was Mickelson doing without his 3-wood?

Leaving that aside, Mickelson had been gorgeous with his irons. Would a 2- or 3-iron have killed him?

No, he should have hit his driver and hoped for the best. After all, the odds were with him. He hadn't hit a fairway on the back nine.

The odds were with him? Okay, now Bayless is succumbing to one of his terminal bouts of the cutes, a prime signal that his rhetoric has abandoned him.

No, again: two-iron, seven-iron, putt, putt. From here to eternity.

Phils 4, Yanks 2


Every so often you so badly want to play a game over, knowing you could just win the stupid thing with just one more chance.

No way the Yankees lose this one.

Unit on the mound, breezing through the first few innings.

First inning, bases loaded, two out, Posada pops out. 0-0.

Third inning, Giambi home run. 1-0. A-rod double, Posada walk. Bingo, big inning.

Then: pop-out, strikout, strikeout. Bingo: Five runners stranded.

Seventh inning, 3-1 Phils. Two outs, bases loaded. Posada hits a scorcher. Phils shortstop Jimmy Rollins lunges for the ball, holds Posada to an infield hit and keeps Giambi from scoring. Damon scores to make it 3-2.

Bottom of the eighth. Still 3-2. Phils up. Nobody out. Farnsworth pitches to Rollins, goes to 3-2, then cracks Rollins in the helmet with a fastball. Five batters later, bases loaded, two outs, Farnsworth strikes out David Bell on a wicked, down-ducking slider, only the ball goes through Posada's legs, everybody moves up a station, Rollins in to score. 4-2 with a rested Flash Gordon. Ballgame.

Twelve runners stranded.


The morning after

Unbelievable. I actually lost sleep over Mickelson's melt-down yesterday and woke up ill with exhaustion. Times like these, I turn to great sportwriters for some context; the first among a series of very good ones is Tom Boswell's account in the Washington Post. Boswell:

To be fair to Australian winner Geoff Ogilvy, Mickelson might have lost his golf mind at a more sedate venue than Winged Foot, which Mickelson compared to "a Yankee Stadium of golf."

But probably not. If you walked every step with Mickelson, you could sense that something entirely different was at work. If Mickelson wants to know "how I did that" or why he feels like "an idiot," perhaps he would understand better, and forgive himself more, if he had been standing among the reporters who watched all his diabolical trouble shots from a few yards away. He was like a man trying to focus on brain surgery in the middle of an Attica jailbreak.

Yelling crowds engulfed him as he played dastardly recoveries after wild drives on the last three holes. Four times on those holes, Mickelson ran full speed through the crowd, pushing people aside so that he could get a clear view of where his desperate shots had finally landed. A golfer can run once, like Sergio Garcia and Corey Pavin did famously, but by the final crazy hole, Mickelson was playing golf in a state of barely controlled agitation, literally running to his fate.

The whole thing is here.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Nats 3, Yanks 2; and Mickelson

On the Irish Trojan, Jazz writes:

Must be bad for you Phoenix folks, isn’t Mickelson a Phoenix guy?

This is worse than Norman IMHO. Norman was the victim of phenomenal luck (Tway at the PGA, Mize at the Masters, even Jack at the Masters in 1986). A few times Norman’s game left him (that excruciating Masters against Faldo in 1996).

As I recall however, Norman never ever went away from what he had prepared for endlessly to cost himself a tournament.

Someone could argue “But Phil is Phil the Thrill! He didn’t go away from anything”.

To which I would reply: Phil and Bones prepared for this tournament for weeks, familiarizing themselves with this course and its challenges more than anyone in history -

- precisely so he could hit a long iron/short iron on the green at 18.

Not a driver bomb bouncing wildly off the corporate tent.

Here's me:

You’re too kind. Of Norman’s four biggest disappointments, in two of them he was beaten by a fabulous run (Nicklaus’ back-nine 30 at the ‘86 Masters; Faldo’s Sunday 67 at the ‘96 Masters); and in the other two by a miracle shot (’86 PGA, ‘87 Masters). Granted that Norman’s poor Sunday play also had a lot to do with the ‘96 Masters, the basic truism of Norman’s career is that you can’t play defense in golf.

But Mickelson? For last-hole meltdowns, I can only count Van de Velde on the one had and–thinking out loud here–an eight that Sam Snead carded in some US Open way back when.

Today was why Johnny Miller gets the big NBC bucks–he speaks the awful truth. As he said, had Mickelson won with a birdie, no one would have remembered. Had he gone two-iron, seven-iron, putt, putt for the win he would have been commended for his course management. But here was a guy whose driver had hit balls halfway to Montauk all day, and after escaping, escaping, escaping he decided to go to the well one last time. Tee shot: Off the hospitality tent. Then instead of wedging it out to the fairway, getting on in three and two-putting for a playoff (with Geoff Ogilvy, mind you–not Tiger Woods, Geoff Ogilvy) Phil decides to go Tin Cup, go for the green, and hits some cut running whateverthehell into a tree; and then instead of wedging it and going up and down for a playoff he tries THE EXACT SAME SHOT and puts the ball not only in a bunker but in a hole at the center of the bunker. QED.

In retrospect, Mickelson probably lost the Open at 17, when, with his driver, he hit the ball into a trashcan (bloody symbolic!), then decided to play croquet with a pair of trees and placed the ball on the green for an improbable two-putt par. A shot like that is like chasing the loss in Blackjack–it’ll work once in awhile. Other times . . . watching some guy push higher and higher stacks of chips as the cards get worse . . . ugh.

In Dan Jenkins’s stages of drunkenness, Stage 10 is “bulletproof.” A kind of drunkenness–of his abilities, of the fates he thought were smiling upon him–must have overtaken Mickelson on his walk to the 18th tee. He thought he was bulletproof. And we saw what happened.

I followed with this:

I see Jazz already beat me to some of the best points. Well played.

My father grew up in New Jersey and loved his New York Yankees, especially Mantle and Maris. My family has lived in the Phoenix area for 35 years, and watched Mickelson develop from the time he won a PGA tournament while still a student at Arizona State. There is a mountain near where they live; at its summit you can look down onto a golf course Mickelson designed. My family is a group of freaks for Mickelson, and for the Yanks.

So today the Yanks lose on a ninth-inning, two-run, walk-off homer. And then Mickelson . . . I called my dad tonight; his first words were, “One hell of an afternoon.” I said, “Happy freaking Father’s Day.” What else could I say?

Sunday morning

Sunday morning. Can't stand if my routine is interrupted.

9 am: Sports Reporters

9:30: Auuuggh. Why no Phil Mushnick in The New York Post? No Mushnick? No complaining about ESPN or Mike and the Mad Dog?

9:40: Ah. George Will. The GOP probably rode the gay-marriage issue back to the White House in 2004. They could do the same with immigration by simply saying, "First, we seal the border. Then, we'll talk." I've thought this for weeks; it is gratifying to discover that Will agrees."

9:50: Ebert's Great Movies. This week: The Shining. People forget, when the movie first came out it was a bomb, something linked to a contemporaneous movie, Heaven's Gate, as evidence of directors run amok. It was only later it demonstrated staying power, not least as one of Jack Nicholson's five or six most memorable performances. Stanley Kubrick was famous for driving his performers mad; here, Ebert advances the theory that his constant re-takes were designed to excerbate the sense of gloom and paranoia that the Overlook Hotel so inspired.

Ebert recounts Kubrick's style in a conversation he had will Shelly Duvall:

"How was it, working with Kubrick?" I asked Duvall 10 years after the experience.

"Almost unbearable," she said. "Going through day after day of excruciating work, Jack Nicholson's character had to be crazy and angry all the time. And my character had to cry 12 hours a day, all day long, the last nine months straight, five or six days a week. I was there a year and a month. After all that work, hardly anyone even criticized my performance in it, even to mention it, it seemed like. The reviews were all about Kubrick, like I wasn't there."

10:00: No This Week? (By which I mean George Will). Stupid World Cup. Stupid ABC.

11:00: Brunch.

Nats 11, Yanks 9

I figured I'd been talking about Rivera too much. Blowing a seven-run lead. Sheesh. In any case, I missed this one.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Yanks 7, Nats 5

Followed this one via, so only a few observations.

1. When Bernie Williams came to bat in the ninth, I switched to another page. You know, tempting fate. Go ahead, make me miss something wonderful. Come back to ESPN; so he did. Home run.

2. The amazing mystical Rivera run continues. Tonight: 5 batters, 5 outs, 17 pitches.

Update: There is the very real possibility that Mariano Rivera will ascend to the Hall of Fame without one Cy Young Award, without one MVP award. Bruce Sutter and Dennis Eckersley proceed him; both wqon the Cy Young, Eck his MVP. Rollie Fingers had 1981, CY and MVP both. Looking backward, is there any doubt that Rivera deserved at least two Cy Youngs (1996, 2005), and one MVP (2005--apologies to Big Papi and A-Rod)?

When we make out the all-time varsity (nine position players, two starters, one reliever), the choices will be that much clearer from history. Four no-doubters will be in place: Ruth (of), Gehrig (1B), Johnson (rhp), Rivera (rp).

That's what we have here.

You read it here first

Via Jonah Goldberg at NRO's The Corner:

Got this from a lobbyist friend and close Congress-watcher late yesterday:

House D caucus voted to strip Billy Jefferson of his Ways and Means
seat. The vote was 99-58 which is hardly overwhelming and don't
underestimate for a moment how pissed off black Congressmen/women are.
On the heels of the Steny/Murtha mess, there are some deep fissures in
the caucus. Infighting, internecine strife, ah yes.......

Me: Well, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. But it seems to me that with Bush seemingly getting his act together, the order of the universe demands that the Dems start to fall apart. About a month ago I wrote somewhere around here that the Tony Snow appointment might be remembered as the start of the administration's turn around. I think this week may be remembered as the start of the Democrats, if not quite implosion, than at least it's major fumble. YearlyKos annointed the blogosphere lefties, Hillary got booed, John Kerry flip-flopped again, coming out in favor of a bug out and saying he was wrong about the war, Pelosi announced she's giving up on the "culture of corruption" mantra, Murtha retracted his bid to run for Majority Leader, this Billy Jefferson thing, etc. And, of course, last week the Democrats didn't take Duke Cunningham's seat.

I wish I could be happier for the Republicans, but they still vex me to distraction. What was it Kissinger said of the Iran-Iraq war? "Pity only one of them can lose."

Things seem to have turned around. Two months ago, Bush had only the economy on his side--the economy, who like a Cy Young-award candidate for a third-place team, kept coming strong every few days and kept the bottom from falling out. Now with Zarqawi in the grave, an Iraqi cabinet up and running, rumblings of troop draw-down in the offing, Rove out of the dock and Tom DeLay home in Sugarland.

I think Goldberg is mostly correct. In addition, the GOP majorities in both houses have come up with a clever method of shutting up the Dems and their "re-deploy" this and their "hard deadline" that re Iraq. Lately, everytime a Murtha (in the House) or a Kerry (in the Senate) has run his mouth too long about withdrawals or deadlines, the GOP majority in the corresponding chamber has said, "Oh, that's what you want? Great. Let's vote on it. Let's vote on it tomorrow." And the vote takes place, with the Dems fighting the vote with every page of Robert's Rules of Order.

One other thing. You read it hear first. This William Jefferson thing is going to be huge as the summer wears on and the silly season heats up. I've been on Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton watch for three weeks. Isn't it just a matter of time?

The best word yet on the Palestinians

Courtesy of Charles Krauthammar, of course. His thoughts after the latest "shelling":

And what have the Palestinians done with this independence, this judenrein territory under the Palestinians' own control? They have used their freedom to ... launch rockets at civilians in nearby Israeli towns.

Why? Because the Palestinians prefer victimhood to statehood. They have demonstrated that for 60 years, beginning with their rejection of the United Nations decision to establish a Palestinian state in 1947, because it would have also created a small Jewish state next door. They declared war instead.

Half a century later, at the Camp David summit with President Clinton, Israel renewed the offer of a Palestinian state -- with its capital in Jerusalem, with not a single Jewish settler remaining in Palestine, and on a contiguous territory encompassing 95 percent of the West Bank (Israel making up the other 5 percent with pieces of Israel proper).

The Palestinian answer? War again -- Arafat's terror war, aka the second intifada, which killed a thousand Jews.

This embrace of victimhood, of martyrdom, of blood and suffering, is the Palestinian disease. They are offered their own independent state. They are given all of Gaza. And they respond with rocket attacks into peaceful Israeli towns -- in pre-1967 Israel proper, mind you.

What can Israel do but try to take out those rocket bases and their crews? What would the U.S. do if rockets were raining into San Diego from across the border with Mexico?

This is terrible to say, but the best hope for Palestinian peace may be a long, protracted Civil War between Fatah and Hammas that kills the bloodier elements on both sides.

The notion that the Palestinians want a state (save as a false one, re Gaza, that would allow them to kill more Israelis) is laughable. To the entire Arab world, the notion of a Palestian nation is laughable. "Palestine," has become the last, best justification for the Arab World (less free Iraq, mind you) to continue its backward, retrograde, undemocratic, anti-woman, anti-gay universe. Mention any reform--the smallest--from everything from an international conference to (and here I speak from experience) graduate school BYOB party, and this is what you'll hear: "Not until Palestine is settled." Alternately, in panel forums, the attendees will simply settle for shouts of "Palestine! Palestine!", as if lungs were a mark of intelligence.

No: the powers of the Arab world want the Palestinians right where they are, victimhood and blame and anti-semitism all justified. And Krauthammmer knows this better than anyone.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Say goodnight, Gracie

Cannot turn in without a look at two last bits:

1. Plamegate at Daily Kos. Byron York, whose incomparable reporting of the Valerie Plame kerfuffle ought to (but won't) win him a long look from the Pulitzer committee, has this priceless account of the Valerie Plame Panel at the event dubbed YearlyKos, a celebration by the nuttiest of the nutroots at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas.

It was here, in which the largest crowd at the--convention, do we call it?--assembled to hear, for the millionth time, of the "outing" of "covert" CIA "operative" Valerie Plame was engineered by Karl Rove with the approval of the "highest reaches of power."

York's writing here is important for a revelation that 99.9% of the country, I'll wager, was innocent of: for, oh, let's wildly say somewhere between four thousand and ten thousand Americans, Plamegate was not just a scandal or a crime or an incident worthy of inquiry. It was, quite simply, the mechanism by which Rove, Cheney, and Bush would be driven from power, and quite likely to jail.

York's account is unmissable.

2. Finally, this. Ding-Dong, the Dan is gone. Announced today, CBS will not renew Dan Rather's contract. This draws to a close, I guess the "60 Minutes" story on President Bush's TANG memos (you know, the ones composed on Microsoft Word in 1971), and the subsequent controversy, aka the Greatest Story in The History of the World.

This was the story that introduced the world to blogs. This was the story that made me second-guess not going into journalism. And this was the story that, ultimately, made me want to take this thing up. All, for good or ill. I leave you with the words of the best Rathernot commentator of them all, NRO's Jonah Goldberg:

Dan Rather Was Fired [Jonah Goldberg]

I don't think we can over-estimate the significance of the fact that Dan Rather will be leaving CBS. I don't see how you can interpret this as anything less than his firing over Memogate. Undoubtedly, in my mind, CBS felt in 2004 that they couldn't sack him on the spot because of how it would appear. His slow departure and temporary job-shuffling was a face-saving effort for both Rather and CBS. But, the delay doesn't discount the fact that if it weren't for Memogate, Rather would probably still be the esteemed anchor of CBS News. This constitutes a monumental triumph for the rightwing blogosphere and I don't think we should let it be obscured by the kabuki dance CBS put on to downplay their embarrassment.
Posted at 1:09 PM

Good night, Gracie.

These are the stakes

A few weeks ago, at NRO, Jay Nordlinger recalled what people said after World War II: "Why didn't we just read Mein Kampf? Everything Hitler thought was spelled out."

Yes, exactly. And Nordlinger went on to ask, in essence: When will we begin to take seriously those who wish to obliterate us? When will we being to take these people at their word?

One day, historians will ponder the Canadian governmental and Western MSM response to the Islamofascist plot against the Canadien Prime Minister.

Ponder this construction. Seventeen Muslims arrested, around a dozen from the same mosque. And the reaction: the arrestees were from the "broad strata" of Canda. Rich and poor, unemployed andemployed, Muslim and . . . well, forget that last part.

Translation: Keep movin' folks, no jihad to see here.

I'm not being flippant when I quote Marlon Brando's Jor-El from the original movie of Superman: "It's suicide. No, it's worse: it's genocide."

One of the greatest achievements of the blogosphere is 1) introducing us to the best writers, unfiltered by local newspapers and the larger magazines, and 2) allowing us to see the entire body of work from our favorite writers, to read, say, George Will's splendid catalogue without having to wait four years for another book.

In Mark Steyn I have been doubly blessed: first, I discovered him; and second, I've read much of what he has written. He calls himself a "bore," in that he writes about the same things over and over (jihad, demographics, immigration, Euro-insanity), but Ronald Reagan repeated the same four arguments a million times, and now he's the fifth face on Mount Rushmore.

In any case, probably Steyn's best summing-up of what faces us is here.

Tribe 8, Yanks 4

The situation: bottom of the eighth. 6-3 Tribe. Bases loaded, nobody out. Giambi, A-Rod, Posada due up.

Four runs seems possible. Three runs entirely possible. Two runs tolerable--not what you hope for, but then it's 6-5 in the ninth, the Yankee faithful going nuts.

And so?

One run.

Giambi, fielder's choice to second, RBI. 6-4. First and third. Cairo runs for Giambi, steals, now it's second and third, one out, Cairo the trailer, only a clean single necessary to tie the score. Rested Yankee bullpen backed up to Tarrytown, ready to go five or six quality innings, if necessary.

A-Rod, needing only to put the ball in play to draw the Yanks within one, strikes out.

Then, Posada strikes out.


The Indians tacked on two in the top of the ninth, but that was little more than (as SunDevilJoe would say) QED at the bottom of a geometry proof.

In other news, some perspectives about last night's Johnson/Posada/Johnson kerfuffle. I might have allowed myself to be overly persuaded by the Cleveland broadcasting team. Having read Larry Brooks in the New York Post, I am now more persuaded that:

1) Jason Johnson was being chippier than at first blush (though it made no sense competitively, which was why I was so confused);

2) the Unit decided before the inning to seek retaliation;

3) that Victor Martinez, Posada's opposite number and the lead-off hitter in the seventh, was the Unit's most eligible target, but swung weakly at the first pitch and grounded out; and

4) the Unit was so ready to go up-and-in that he seemed to be waiting for his expulsion.

Last night cuts to something I've been vaguely aware of in the past--namely, the reluctance of the Yankee pitchers to protect the Yankee everydays, to retaliate. Yankee fanatics may remember the Yanks-Birds brawl I mentioned yesterday; to my mind, this was the catalyzing incident that turned a great team into a historical one, with their 114 wins and 11-2 post-season run. So let's see what happens in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Leno, Carlin, and Coulter

Liveblog of Carlin-Coulter:

This much is made clear in Leno's monologue: the audience has been seeded with a goodly pro-Coulter contingent, nothing like the boos that accompanied mention of her name Monday and Tuesday night.

Carlin first: a pretty good monologue that nevertheless comes off as an entry in a poetry slam. Four laughs, maybe. Commercial.

(The problem with Carlin is that he's said it all. People use language to distort, government screws everything up, the modern world alienates us. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Twenty-five years ago, I howled at his stuff, bought his albums, everything. Now, four laughs, maybe.)

Then, a not-bad Carlin interview session half of which focuses on death. Carlin says he's been on the "The Tonight Show" 140 times. Impressive. (Of course, he counts the early Steve Allen model, back in New York, when he snuck in to the theater.) Commercial.

Coulter introduced by Leno, and The Moment: What will Carlin do?

Coulter comes out. Leno embraces her. Carlin, a two-handed handshake.

Carlin, a gracious moment, moving from the chair to the sofa: "I never thought Ann Coulter would make me move to the right." Gives her a gentle arm-punch.

Coulter makes reference to one of Carlin's jokes, the set-up is, "The Catholics don't have a bomb yet." (The idea is that the Vatican is too small for uranium enrichment.) Mutual smiles. I'm telling you, it's a love-feast.

Okay, now some tension. Wizard of Oz references, via Leno. Is Coulter the Wicked Witch of the West? Coulter: "I'm Dorothy, landing my house on the mainstream media." Cheers from the neo-con peanut gallery. Carlin turns away, makes a sour face.

"Jersey Girls" talk ensures. Two-shot: Leno and Coulter. Carlin out of frame. Carlin manifestly out of frame. Coulter talks.

(Coulter at 1200 words is much more reasonable than Coulter at 200 words; and at 80,000 words more reasonable than 1200, and therein lies her problem. Coulter sought to make a very valid--and if not valid, arguable--point, that the summer, 2004, 9/11 Comission hearings were highjacked by four pro-Kerry widows, basically Cindy Sheehan prototypes: I'm grieving, so get out of my way. I was disgusted by their applause at the hearings; any other time, any other hearing, they would have been thrown out. As a basic tool of defense, one had to look past their grief to what was best for the country. But their grief was presented as an absolute moral authority, so who would stand up to them if they happened to be wrong? Nobody. This was the problem. Did they rejoice in their husbands' death? Certainly not. Did they, three years on, exploit a political opportunity? Sure. This was what Coulter was after, and her overreach brought her all the attenton, good and ill.)

Coulter talks about the smartest liberals she would meet, says she gave her book to same, says she thought she would never meet smarter liberals, then says, to Carlin, "Of course, I didn't know I'd be on with you." Carlin looks away, smiles.

Back to two-shot. No Carlin. Coulter references how liberals never mind being called "Godless," which happens to be the title of her book. Chatter ensues.

Pull away at end of segment. Carlin blowing on his hands, then clapping.

Okay, not expecting Jon Stewart-Tucker Carlson tonight. But nothing to stir about. Yawn festival, really.

Yanks 6, Tribe 1

It is strange for a Wednesday-night game between non-divisional, non-regional rivals to produce as many subplots as a Russian novel. Tonight, though, was an exception. In order:

1. The Yankees seem to go through a three- to four-year period during which one player is the designated plunkee: the one who gets hit by pitches all the time. Yankee faithful will remember that Tino Martinez held the honorific in the late-90's, including one evening in Camden Yards in 1998 that followed a Bernie Williams game-breaking homer, was a clear retaliation for same, and precipitated a Yanks-Birds brawl that carried into the Orioles' dugout.

Lately, the job seems to fall to Jorge Posada. I'm not sure about the statistics, but to my untrained memory Posada seems to have gotten more HBPs than the rest of the team combined in the post O'Neill/Tino/Scottie era, 2002 to the present. Part of it is retaliation, part is dumb luck. Tonight, with the Yankees holding to a 3-1 lead in the sixth, with a runner on first, Jason Johnson's throw at Posada could not, under any conceivable scenario, be a plunking. Not with a two-run deficit. Not to push a runner in scoring position.

So let's play amateur psychologist. Let's say, deep down, Posada knew the HBP wasn't intentional. All right, so how to explain his outburst? I think, first, he was indulging in gamesmanship; he saw the chance to gain a slight edge, perhaps help his team, just that much, put a game away at a time when the Yanks are still attempting to climb out of a losing streak.

And second, I think there is a little in Posada that I saw in Tino toward the end--a case of, "Oh, crap, me again?" And really, who can blame him? The Yankees score three more runs, go up 6-1 with the Unit flying. To the extent that Posada was overreacting on purpose, well, good job.

2. Before I get to the Unit's response, this observation: in the same way that (we're told) spouses begin to resemble each other and masters begin to favour their pets, so to do television broadcasters begin to resemble the squads they cover--and, to a certain extent, their cities. The St. Louis broadcast team is smart and professional. The Braves bunch believes the game was invented in Atlanta. Cincinnati is modest and fair, always sure to point out a superlative play by the opposition. The Yankees group is confident and smooth, delivering games like a Goldman Sachs CEO delivering earnings reports. The Red Sox: mostly relaxed with a streak of paranoia, as if waiting to be brought to ruins by the Sons of Sam Horn. The White Sox: hog-calling yahoos, ridiculed daily by broadcasting community at large ("Put it on the booooaaaaard . . . . YES!" Ugh.)

What I noticed about the Cleveland announcers seem defensive and myopic. Perhaps one can extend this to the entire Cleveland production team. Understand: considering all that followed from the Posada HBP, not one replay of the incident aired on the network, saved for a washed-out, un-commented-upon image as part of a montage to accompany the bump music. Think about that: twenty comments about Posada's plunking, not one real replay.

3. As to the Unit. Once again, I would wonder what he was thinking. Seventy-seven pitches, big lead, clearly flying, and all the momentum in the world, plus . . . didn't everyone see and appreciate the whole Posada moment in contrext? Leaving that aside, is this the first time in history that a pitcher was thrown out for almost hitting a batter? Was it his smirk?

Look, I've always been a settle-it-on-the-field guy. But the sixth and seventh innings of tonight's game just left me scratching my head.

And still: Johnny Damon, Andy Phillips. The youth movement expands. And the Unit, who definitely got away with a few hanging sliders, still showed he has something.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Israel Watch, part 200

Ed Koch, making sense.

CheChe watch, cont.

From the Corner, via J Pod:

Who Is CheChe? [John Podhoretz]

I've just been told by a very reliable source — well, the man himself — that Greg Gutfeld is not the online begetter of the amazing CheChe posts at we've been obsessing over all afternoon. Paging CheChe! Out yourself! E-mail me!

I know . . . Mark Felt.

I admit, I went through Greg Gutfeld's latest (OMG--hysterical) postings for a clue, sort of like searching through the index of Pale Fire to prove that John Shade was actually a brilliant parody of Edmund Wilson. No such luck.

Gutfeld's stuff is here. Check out "Al Zarqawi's mom to blog."

Yanks 1, Tribe 0

Exhibit A under These Are the Games They Have To Win.

Right now, given all that Rivera has done for the team, it seems almost unfair to expect so much from him, again. But late leads in low-scoring games cannot be squandered.

And while the Unit sorts out his business and Chacon gets better, the Yanks will come to rely more and more on Moose, Wang, and Wright to, as they say, bridge the gap. The Yankees bullpen (sans Mo--sans the Sandman?) is like a small forward with a great jump shot who can neither dribble nor defend: you'll see moments of brilliance, but don't ask these guys to dominate. Farnsworth, Myers, Proctor: passable, just not Nelson, Stanton, Mendoza.

"The Greatest Kos Posting Ever"

So says NRO's John Podhoretz, and who would say otherwise. A post from CheChe (scroll down if you want, but here it is in its entirety):

I don't think I've ever seen such a look of misery and dejection on the face of my daughter as I just did a moment ago. She just couldn't understand why the President would be going to Iraq when so many things are wrong in this country. "Doesn’t Mr. Bush care about us anymore?" she asked pitifully.

I sat down with her on the sofa and (as calmly as I could) tried to explain to her why the President seems to be abandoning his country. "Honey, I think his boss, Mr. Rove, sent Mr. Bush out of the country in order to keep himself out of the newspapers. You see, he wasn’t sure if he was going to be arrested today or not, and so he planned Mr. Bush’s trip ahead of time just in case...”

I tried to keep my voice steady, but it became increasingly difficult - the rage and feelings of helplessness were just too much. I think my daughter could tell something was wrong. I found myself at such a loss for words - nothing made any sense; nothing makes sense anymore. I finally had to admit, "Honey, I just don't know - I don't know what's going on in this country anymore..."

When I finished her lower lip started to tremble and her eyes began to fill with tears, "Daddy" she said, "why are the Republicans doing this to the country?" Well, that was it for me: I finally fell apart. She just fell into my arms and we both began sobbing for several minutes.

For once she had to comfort me and get me back on my feet. Sometimes I just think it's too much, but seeing the strength in my young daughter's voice helped me to get through.

Podhoretz responds:

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: It would take a heart of stone not to laugh at the grief of Little CheChe.

Update: Apparently Little Cheche is well-known in Kossaskstan

Update: The plot thickens! Podhoretz again:

CheChe and the Philly Flash [John Podhoretz]

As regards my earlier posting quoting the amazing response to the Rove development on DailyKos, there is some speculation that CheChe might actually be a character invented to parody the KosKids — since he has posted nearly identical stuff before. Check this out. There is even speculation that CheChe might, in fact, be the creation of a cheerfully deranged humorist with the initials G.G. CheChe's postings always end with the words "Bottle-feeding newborns is like forcing them to smoke cigarettes." Now that sounds Gutfeldian. If it's you, Greg,Bravo! You got me! And tens of thousands of others!

For those who don't know, Gutfeld is the flame-throwing satirist on (and of) Huffpost.

For now, end with this, posted on Kos after the NSA wiretapping revelation:

Tears of Shame (26+ / 2-)
I don't think I've ever seen such a look of misery and dejection on the face of my daughter as I just did a moment ago. She just couldn't understand why the President would be spying on everyone. "Even my Grandma?" she asked pitifully.

I sat down with her on the sofa and (as calmly as I could) tried to explain to her why the President has ordered a group of spies to collect information on every American. "And yes honey, even Grandma", I was forced to say.

I tried to keep my voice steady, but it became increasingly difficult - the rage and feelings of helplessnes were just too much. I think my daughter could tell something was wrong. I found myself at such a loss for words - nothing made any sense; nothing makes sense anymore. I finally had to admit, "Honey, I just don't know - I don't know what's going on in this country anymore..."

When I finished her lower lip started to tremble and her eyes began to fill with tears, "Daddy" she said, "why are the Republicans doing this to the country?" Well, that was it for me: I finally fell apart. She just fell into my arms and we both began sobbing for several minutes.

For once she had to comfort me and get me back on my feet. Sometimes I just think it's too much, but seeing the strength in my young daughter's voice helped me to get through.

Bottle-feeding newborns is like forcing them to smoke cigarettes.

The posting prompted this comment:

Be strong! (0 / 0)
It sounds like you are raising a wonderful daughter! We have to fight for her now, so she can fight for us later.

Whew. I need a cigarette.

W. in Iraq

Over at Good Morning America, Charlie Gibson just used the word "symbolic" about four times in two minutes.

No Rove indictment

Via Byron York at NRO.

No mention so far at Huffpost, though they are running "Ann Coulter accused of plagiarism," complete with photo, for the third straight day.

Update: Huff has it up here. The comments are the real treasure:

Just because they couldn't catch him this time does not mean he is not a dangerous man to the entire United States. Mark my words, just because Karl is slick and doesn't get indicted does not mean he is a good person. He is one of the architects of all this partisan nickering fiasco, and one of the architects of the plan to give the US over to special interests. Look out for Karl AND K Street to be ruining the US even more now.

Understand, this is devastating for the left. ("There is no God.")

Don't think the right-wing Huff readers aren't having fun:

Could the news be any worse for you moonbats?

When is Joe "Frog March" Wilson gonna make the rounds again?

Laughing my Ass OFF at you clueless dolts on the left.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Moonbat Alert

I no sooner finish with one New York Tiumes columnist than another appears. Via Huffpost, a declaration: Kerry won Ohio!

A sampling:

Republicans, and even a surprising number of Democrats, have been anxious to leave the 2004 Ohio election debacle behind. But Kennedy, in his long, heavily footnoted article ("Was the 2004 Election Stolen?"), leaves no doubt that the democratic process was trampled and left for dead in the Buckeye State. Kerry almost certainly would have won Ohio if all of his votes had been counted, and if all of the eligible voters who tried to vote for him had been allowed to cast their ballots.

And Kennedy, need I remind one, left out the most crucial piece of evidence from his bookstop of an essay: the information (availalbe everywhere since late afternoon on election day) that the exit polls (results posted first on Wonkette) were skewed around 60/40 women. This was the crucial piece of information that had all the subsequent events making sense.

Kennedy doesn't refute this information. In what feels like a 10,000 (or more) word essay, he doesn't so much as mention that information.

My momma sure loved his daddy, though.

Czechs defeat Yanks, 3-0

From the World Cup. I'm the farthest thing from a soccer expert, but the evidence of the commentary, the online chatting and my own two eyes was that the US turned in a simply wretched performance. Just awful.

A harbinger, unless it isn't

Headline: "Far from clear sailing for Bush's favorite Democrat."

That would be Joe Lieberman, Zell Miller and John Breaux having retired.

Does anyone else see a pattern here? First Ohio-2, then California-50, now this.

Liberal columnists posit that X, should it come to pass, would be terrible news for Bush.

Then, the opposite of X happens.


"Ah, that doesn't mean anything."

Sunday, June 11, 2006

GM and the New York Times

Is there a class of workers less liable for sloppiness and incompetence than New York Times columnists? Between Paul Krugman's errors (you know, the ones that require four waves of back-and-forth before either a grudging, "Yes, I was wrong, but why haggle on such a small point?", or else a "Gee, I thought even a moron would know what I really meant" on Krugman's part) to Maureen Dowd's re-statements of the most glaring media myths (no, George W. Bush did not put arsenic back in the water) and now to Tom Friedman. Leaving aside his latest treatise, The World is Flat, which does not even work as metaphor, there is this regarding General Motors. Donald Luskin, at The Conspiracy to Make You Poor and Stupid, has the details.

Update: Went looking 'round for Matt Taibbi's review of Friedman's book, one of the most savage non-John Simon reviews I have ever read. A sampling:

The usual ratio of Friedman criticism is 2:1, i.e., two human words to make sense of each single word of Friedmanese. Friedman is such a genius of literary incompetence that even his most innocent passages invite feature-length essays. I'll give you an example, drawn at random from The World Is Flat. On page 174, Friedman is describing a flight he took on Southwest Airlines from Baltimore to Hartford, Connecticut. (Friedman never forgets to name the company or the brand name; if he had written The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa would have awoken from uneasy dreams in a Sealy Posturepedic.) Here's what he says:

I stomped off, went through security, bought a Cinnabon, and glumly sat at the back of the B line, waiting to be herded on board so that I could hunt for space in the overhead bins.

Forget the Cinnabon. Name me a herd animal that hunts. Name me one.

This would be a small thing were it not for the overall pattern. Thomas Friedman does not get these things right even by accident. It's not that he occasionally screws up and fails to make his metaphors and images agree. It's that he always screws it up. He has an anti-ear, and it's absolutely infallible; he is a Joyce or a Flaubert in reverse, incapable of rendering even the smallest details without genius. The difference between Friedman and an ordinary bad writer is that an ordinary bad writer will, say, call some businessman a shark and have him say some tired, uninspired piece of dialogue: Friedman will have him spout it. And that's guaranteed, every single time. He never misses.

The language from there gets a little coarse, but beyond that, this deserves some special award for hilarious viciousness.

A's 6, Yankees 5

In which Kardiac Kyle . . . ah, I don't want to talk about it.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Stopped clocks, etc.

Via Lucianne, probably the best essay yet on Ann Coulter. Money quote:

In her book, Coulter writes that Democrats “choose only messengers whom we're not allowed to reply to. That's why all Democratic spokesmen these days are sobbing, hysterical women. You can't respond to them because that would be questioning the authenticity of their suffering.” As an example, she cites the Jersey Girls, four World Trade Center widows who argued for the commission to investigate 9/11. Then she directly questions the authenticity of their suffering, saying they are “reveling in their status as celebrities... I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' death so much.” The comments caused an all-too-expected firestorm, even ensnaring Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who should have known better. “Perhaps her book should have been called Heartless,” Senator Clinton said. “I know a lot of the widows and family members who lost loved ones on 9/11. They never wanted to be a member of a group that is defined by the tragedy of what happened.”

Of course they didn't. But Clinton went some way toward confirming the very thing Coulter had alleged: that certain kinds of discourse — caustic, yes; outrageous, yes; illiberal, certainly — are not allowed.


Friday, June 09, 2006

A's 6, Yankees 5

In which Jeter, Giambi, and A-Rod go down in the ninth.

Stuff happens.

Soccer, good and ill

As I sit here typing, the World Cup is on my television a few yards away, Germany vs. Croatia. I couldn't tell you one player on either team, nor their division, nor how much losing would harm either team's chances. But it's a diversion, right up there with World Poker or that perky woman's tours of fabulous hotels on the Travel Channel.

A few months ago, when I started this thing, a friend and golfing buddy James Wright recommended I write something about the new Nike Commercial, which shows the American soccer team at various points of what looks like distressing world tour. As they travel and compete, they are met with hostile fans, rows of rifle=bearing soldiers, and--in the last image--snow. All this is played out to a piano tinkling, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

Translation: Soccer--the new American pastime?

Answer: No. Of course not. But a harmless enough notion.

A lot of people like soccer. A lot of people love soccer. Well, good for them. Me, if nothing else is on, and I'm reading or typing, great. Better that than women's billiards. I do intend to venture forth to the Red Lion pub with some friends to soak in the experience--to practice sociology without a license. And I will watch the final match.

Where I draw the line is the notion that soccer has this mythic, earth-shaping ability, an ability to trascend sports and provide a mental therapy for the world. In today's Houston Chronicle, Daniel W. Drezner lays to rest the notion of soccer as a force for peace. The Civil War interruption Bono refers to in his ESPN ads refer to the Ivory Coast, where a cease-fire has done nothing to halt ongoing terror. Where peace has actually broken out due to soccer, Drezner writes, it has been fleeting. The famous World War I Christmas Eve Soccer match between German and English soldiers lasted a bit more than an hour; the Biafran War in Nigeria that was suspended so the Africans could watch worldwide hero Pele lasted two days. And every story brings with it a counter-story: the 200-hour war between Nicaragua and Honduras was a spillover from a soccer riot, and was called, literally, the Soccer Wars. And Drezner walks the reader through the complicated role soccer played in the run-up to the Balkans War.

Beyond this, the notion of the event itself as a force for peace is laughable. "Sooner or later," Martin Amis once wrote, "Every Englishman will attend his last football game. For some it is also their first football game." The crowd behavior in other parts of the world is often the sort that would not be tolerated in Philadelphia or Oakland; does anyone recall the Mexican fans' chants of, "Osama! Osama!" when the United States beat Mexico? And Andres Escobar's murder after Brazil's 1994 defeat in the World Cup, with his murderers shouting "Goal! Goal!" with every bullet? And what about the one-game (one-game) suspension to the soccer player who celebrated his goals by striking a Heil-Hitler arm raise? As Jim Rome posited: try to imagine Derek Jeter going seig-heil after a home run, or Shaq after a monster slam. "Look the hell out," Rome concluded, "and rightfully so."

Well put.

I think soccer is fine, as a sport. Its influence as a force for pure good is, at best, neutral.

Just my thoughts.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Red Sox 9, Yankees 3

Missed this one. Was at Minute Maid Park watching the Astros defeat the Braves, 7-4, before a crowd split 3/1 Astros.

This was surprising. I have been following the Astros almost since 1991, the year the Braves discovered skill, and in games at the Astrodome and Minute Maid the split has been closer to 60/40. In any case my favorite Astro, Lance Berkman, went three for four with two homers, four RBIs and one-half of a sensational double play. In the sixth inning, score 2-1 Braves, the Braves had bases loaded, nobody out. Pettitte coaxed a strikeout. Then John Thomson, the pitcher, hit a pop-up to a drawn-in Berkman in right field. Fanceour tried to score on the tag; Berkman threw home, Ausmus juggled the ball for a second but corraled it in time to tag the crashing Franceour. Wonderful baseball.

Then, next inning, Berkman comes up, first and third, nobody out. Works an 0-2 to 2-2. I watch Thomson get his sign. No shake-off. Earlier, with another batter, Thomson had come in with a breaking ball 2-2, gone to 3-2, been forced to spot his fastball, given up a hit. I figured Todd Pratt, the catcher, was aware of this, and would not want to go 3-2 to Berkman. Again: no shake-off from Thomson.

"Fastball," I say.

Then--a fastball . . . which Berkman deposits ten rows up in the bleachers. Ballgame, in essence.

We pause here, because this is where the server crashed last night, wiping out the rest of my posting and my reference to yankeesfan1, a third-cousin from (I guess) New Jersey who met my parents, who vacationing back East this summer.

Yankeesfan1 solicited my opinion on Matsui. Well, I love that the Yankees have him, and unfortunately he's out for the year. Last night notwithstanding, the Yankees have held their own with a lineup halfway comprised of second-stringers. This has stood them well, but it is the nature of the six-month season that everyone gets exposed, for good or ill. There is never the case in the NFL, where a weak team can take advantage of an easy schedule and a soft division to fake its way to 11-5 and an illusion of respectability. The Red Sox seem good for 93-95 wins, and unless the Tigers start realizing that they're a year away, the Yankees will be in trouble.

Injuries, of course, are the main problem. Matsui is gone for the season, Sheff gone until September. Even if Melky Cabrera slides into Matsui's position (if nothing else, an upgrade defensively, witness Tuesday night), the two-headed solution of Bernie and Terence Long in right may hurt the Yankees in the long run. The Yanks have so far resisted the siren song of a trade, and right now a trade for significant value would cut into the nice little youth movement they have going. (What would Alfonso Soriano--who may well win the home run title playing half the year in the RFK Canyon--cost? Wang and Phillips? Cabrera and Proctor? Something outrageous, anyway.) As I wrote a few days ago, what the Yankees always have enough of is money; what they may want to do is settle for some .280, 25-home-run Preston-Wilson-type that some last -place team is eager to dump. But even there the pickings are slim.

So: following three weeks of sustained excellence, reasons to worry.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Boston at New York, ppd. (rain)

As we continue to consider Melky's catch.

In today's Daily News, Mike Lupica writes what I've been thinking: this 2006 Yankee team reminds me of a similar team, 10 years ago, the 1996 team that returned the Yankees to glory. This was not a team of stars, it was an admixture of nutured youngsters (Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera), second-chance journeymen (Jimmy Key, Charlie Hayes, Cecil Fielder, David Weathers) and nasty veterans (David Cone, Tim Raines, John Wetteland, Paul O'Neill, Darryl Strawberry, Joe Girardi). There was one player on the team already assured of a Hall of Fame plaque, Wade Boggs, and subsequent years have added only Jeter and Mo to the for-sure list. On that team, maybe only O'Neill, Wetteland and Tino Martinez were at the peaks of their respective careers. And yet they got it done.

This team? Four first-ballot certainties (Jeter, A-Rod, Unit, Mo), and three on the HOF watch list (Moose, Sheff, Giambi). Some nasty veterans: Kardiac Kyle, Ron Villone, Jorge Posada, Miguel Cairo. And finally, the kids: Melky, Cano, Andy Phillips, Wang, Proctor. Will they match up to their predecessors? Hard to say.

But--and I guess this is my point--the Yankees are fun to watch again. Melky's leap into Monument Park could stand for the whole season.

Of Busby and Mapes

Over at Huffpost, Bilbray's victory is being given the same "They win again but so what" treatment accorded Jeanne Schmidt's Ohio-2 defeat of former netroot golden boy Paul Hackett.
So the Dems lose in CA-50, and do what they must to minimize the losses.

We forced them to spend money. Bilbray ran behind Cunningham, behind Bush. Margin of victory. Who cares about San Diego. All about immigration.

To which the responses go like this: first, a Minuteman Independent took about six percent of the vote, so the right-of-Busby vote was more like 53-54%, entirely in tune with the voting patterns of North San Diego.

More important, as the old Arizona State football coach Darryl Rogers used to say, W's are W's and L's are L's. Moral victory is French for defeat, and the Dems will have to start winning soon or retrench again.

Most important is this: the Dems made every effort to show CA-50 as a bellwether. (I smell a Safire column.) And, as George Will pointed out years ago, if you want to play Babe Ruth and point to the centerfield flag pole, you'd better deliver.

Well, enough of that.

The real fun, going back to last night, is Mary Mapes's latest Fake-But-Accurate screed. Coming in a few days after John Kerry's recent "I have the hat, I have the hat," performance, Mapes's continued defense of Dan Rather's "60 Minutes" TANG memos is a great reminder how W. won re-election in 2004: a six-week run starting in middle August.

To re-capitulate, in chronological order:

1. Mid-August: The Swift Boat Ads hit as Kerry hoards money for September and October. What everyone seems to have forgotten is how the first ad did very little to move hearts and minds. Very few people (myself included) could not care less if Kerry was or was not in Cambodia on Christmas or January or February or whatever story he finally settled on. We don't care if his turn was too wide or he shot the sniper in the back instead of in the chest. Most people, myself included, generally felt that Kerry served his country with valour and left it at that (if only he could leave it at that). It was the second ad--the one detailing Kerry's accusations of war crimes against his comrades-in-arms--that grabbed everyone's attention. Here was something that could not be disputed or denied; these were Kerry's own words being used to hang him. Devestating. And a clue as to how Kerry made no attempt to attack the substance of what he was charged with, but rather moved heaven and earth to keep the Swift Boat Vets from stating their piece. What could Kerry have possibly claim? "I didn't say those things"?

2. August 30-September 2: The GOP brings its convention off flawlessly.

3. September 3: The morning after Bush's acceptance speech, August unemployment figures are released, showing 150,000 new jobs.

4. September 8: "60 Minutes II" airs the fateful Bush story. What follows are 12 days of delirious blogging and reporting while Rather digs himself in deeper and deeper, even going so far as (on September 16th) dragging that poor TANG secretary out of some nursing home, putting her before the cameras . . . and then having her say, No, she didn't think those memos were real either, though they did represent the officer's thinking at the time. The left grabs onto this detail for dear life.

5. September 21: Rather issues partial retraction through gritted teeth. Bloggers rejoice; the first skin is on the wall.

What transpired for Bush in late summer, 2004, was a six-week run of sustained good fortune that card and dice players know comes maybe once a lifetime. W's run was enough to build just enough of a lead not to lose by what otherwise might have been fatal: his stammering, exhausted performance during the first debate on September 30th.

Nowadays, hearing the continued defense and explanation from anchor Rather and producer Mapes is like driving down a deserted road at sunset just as a favorite song from college comes on the radio. Take it away, Mary:

As for document analysis, it is a mind-numbing and arcane discipline, an imperfect undertaking reserved for courtroom use, not for headlines or Internet political battles. Document analysis is certainly not meant to be done at 11 o'clock at night by someone with no training or experience sitting in front of a glowing computer nursing a grudge and spoiling for a fight. But that's precisely how the right's attack against Dan Rather and CBS News was launched.
That first anonymous analyst (who turned out to be a Republican activist lawyer) raised questions about the memo using only a single shot of a faxed document digitally transmitted to his computer screen. Those kinds of transmissions radically change the way a document looks. His analysis was worthless.

The laundry list of problems that critics claimed they saw in the memos has turned out to be bunk. There never has been any definitive proof that they were forged or falsified in any way, despite a multi-million dollar investigation into the story by Viacom. The reasons we put them on the air remain valid: the content of the memos was corroborated by people familiar with Bush, his unit and his commander; the dates, times and details intricately matched what we know of the record; and two experienced and respected document analysts, who examined copies that had not been faxed or digitally recreated, concluded that the papers showed every indication of being real.

I don't believe we will know the truth about the memos until after the Bush team is out of office and people with information are no longer afraid to come forward.

Ah, good times. Good times.