Here's a rather upsetting Salon article on an Army support group, and the impression among servicepeople that anti-war protestors are somehow against them. I hope we can better understand how they got this idea, and work to counter it--we do not oppose the troops, we oppose the administration that is sending our troops into harm's way for lousy reasons. The troops themselves need to understand that. I have no doubt that many of them believe that they're helping to rid the world of terrorism, and in any event I know they're in no position to question our government's diplomatic antics. Further proof of the right's ability to condition the populace that protestors of any stripe are crazy troublemakers, dissent equals treason, and my country right or wrong. 9/11 should have been a wake-up call, but instead it's made things worse. Let's hope we have Dean and Clark to deliver a wake-up call in 2004.
Speaking of 9/11, the administration somehow forgot to fund the inquiry. An inquiry on which we are collectively spending far less than was spent on Whitewater/Lewinsky, or the latest Space Shuttle disaster. Jeez, if I didn't know better, I'd think that the administration didn't want an investigation into 9/11.
I try to visit at least one new major league ballpark every season. It's hard to make definitive plans right now with a kid on the way, but I'm taking a long look at Cincinnati this year. So it was curious to read this Cincinnati Enquirer piece in which a bunch of architects badmouth the new ballpark as mostly incoherent. Myself, I just want to know what this monstrosity is all about.
Rumors of Curt Schilling's return to Philly in 2004 have been circulating again. If that happened, I think I would weep tears of joy.
We attended Caps-Panthers last night, and for 55 minutes it was just about the lousiest hockey game I've ever seen. It looked like Amateur Night out there. Still, a win is a win, and coupled with the Bruins' loss at Ottawa, it guarantees the Caps either the 6 or 3 seed (if they can catch Tampa Bay), and also locks in a first-round date with the Lightning, with only home-ice advantage to be determined. This was about as much as we could have hoped for. The Caps should be able to handle Tampa in the first round, and hopefully have enough momentum after that to at least have a prayer against Ottawa, Philly or Toronto in the second round. What's more, assuming Ottawa maintains the 1 seed and New Jersey is 2, the Caps can't possibly face the Devils until the conference finals.
Rumors of Curt Schilling's return to Philly in 2004 have been circulating again. If that happened, I think I would weep tears of joy.
Some good news, picked up from Atrios: Tulia, Texas drug convictions overturned en masse. If you hadn't followed this story, a signficiant portion of the black community of a small Texas town was brought up on drug charges, solely on the word of one undercover officer. The officer didn't have any audio or video evidence, nor corroborating witnesses. When the arrest sweep occurred, the cops didn't find anything. As many suspected, it turned out to be all bullshit. Hooray for justice! Hopefully this Coleman guy gets sent up the river himself.
In another Atrios item, looks like another $3.5B is headed to the airlines. By itself that's outrageous enough, but I hope someone brings up that figure the next time people complain about Amtrak, which was slated to receive a little more than half a billion from the federal government this fiscal year. Keep in mind that $3.5B to the airlines is on top of some $8B the aviation industry as a whole (including airports) gets from the feds in an average year, plus the bailout last year. Thus, I am tired of hearing about how Amtrak isn't viable, while at the same time we prop up the airline industry as a "national resource" or whatever they call it.
War is Bad, People Who Act Like Jerks and Assholes While Arguing For War are Almost as Bad Department: DYFL on the stupidity of referring to WWII to justify our treatment of our "allies." Neal Pollack says we are all insane. PLA has a very good piece on the fallacy of criticizing the war effort creating bad morale for the troops (permalinks appear to be hosed; scroll down to April 2).
The Baltimore City Paper on the changing meaning of dissent vs. patriotism depending on which party holds the Oval Office. And yes, it's started: the notion that not re-electing the president while we're at war is unAmerican. Gaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh! DEAN (or any Democrat but preferably not Lieberman) IN 2004! The fate of this nation and the world depends on it!
OK, happy thoughts. Heavy rotation: the Roots' Phrenology, especially "Water," which I think I listened to four times yesterday. If you pick it up, be sure to get the 2-disc version; the second disc is a DVD with a couple of videos and some live stuff.
The Phillies have sold out their home opener for the first time since the after-NL championship 1994 season. Some of it is no doubt associated with the final go-round at Blue Acres, but it's amazing what happens when you put together a good team, isn't it? Mostly good, anyway; Rheal Cormier must go.
It's high time I blogrolled Ed, who will never live down the "Sure, we have plenty of time to get to the airport" debacle in Montreal, but is otherwise a great guy who takes really good pictures of food. In the bloggers-I-don't-personally-know department, I'm adding David Neiwert's Orcinus. His series on "Rush, Newspeak and Fascism" was all over the blogosphere, and he's been very much on top of the use of violence, threats and harassment by the right in the war debate. I can't help but think that if you have to resort to such tactics, you've pretty much admitted you can't win the argument on its merits through any sort of rational discussion. If the pro-war crowd was truly intelligent AND had a leg to stand on, they wouldn't need to resort to thuggery.
Went to the Caps' regular-season finale on Saturday, and once again the Caps looked mostly lousy for 55 minutes, but scored three times in the last two minutes to win 5-3 in as exciting a finish as I've seen all year. Of course, we didn't win a player-autographed jersey or anything else in the fan-appreciation giveaways, but I did catch a T-shirt autographed by my favorite current Capital, #25 Mike Grier, in the flinging of items over the glass at the end of the game. (Actually, to say I caught it is generous; it landed on my head.) The last regular-season game is always a hoot. So on to the playoffs; they really ought to beat the Lightning, but given the up-and-down play this season and the history of post-season flameouts, I'm not betting on anything.
Once again, rather than complaining about the thuggish and anti-democratic activities of the right, and how much war sucks, I will link to others who do it far better than I ever could: Orcinus, Body & Soul, and Hullaballoo. My big question of late: why don't Bush & company condemn the actions of those who would threaten and harass anti-war activitsts? Shouldn't they tell the public that we have a First Amendment, and death threats and the like are just wrong? (Of course, I know why they don't do this. Just like they didn't condemn the activities of those who tried to keep blacks and the handicapped from voting in 2000 and 2002.)
Tor made an interesting point in comments to my April 1 item about war protests affecting the troops' morale. He distinguishes between our current volunteer armed force and a conscripted one--if they're volunteers, it's critical that they believe what they're doing is right. If they'd all been drafted, it makes more sense to sympathize with them while opposing the war itself. There's a bit of something to that, but on the whole I still don't see it as justification for essentially ceasing to think and be critical--if the war is unjust or unnecessary, then dammit we're obligated to speak up. Furthermore, I'd like to have faith that those in our armed forces have the intelligence and understanding that we have a democratic society and not everyone agrees with everything, rather than expecting some monolithic American opinion. Given the lack of caring about checks and balances, however, I feel like American high schools must have stopped teaching civics shortly after I finished school.
It's been well-documented that hardcore conservatives have been denouncing any criticism of the recent decision to go to war as unpatriotic, treasonous, or both. However, it's also well-documented that a fair number of Republicans had no reservations whatsoever about criticizing the decision to intervene in Kosovo a few years ago. I have yet to see or hear any stock right-wing answer as to why that criticism was OK, but currently it's not OK. Anyone seen one? Anyone want to get on Bill O'Reilly's show and ask him?
Hey, how about those vast stockpiles of Weapons of Mass Destruction over in Iraq? Whooooeee, sure glad we got to those in time. Excellent post on the ends not justifying the means at X&O.
Sports news: Phils take 2 of 3 from the Braves which is always good. What the heck is up with Maddux, anyway? Three starts, three poundings. He's one of those guys I have a grudging respect for--I wish he didn't beat my team all the time, but there's no denying he's one of the best. So in a way I hope this is a fluke and not the end of the road (but I can't help but wonder about a Mike Schmidt-style mid-season retirement). On the ice, I am trying to contain my excitement about the Caps' 3-0 victory last night. Still a long way to go, yet I want to scream "THERE'S BLOOD IN THE WATER!!"
Looting: Not our problem! Yay troops, but cut their benefits! Are we collectively retarded that the public continues to swallow this stuff and give the President 70% approval ratings? I was flipping channels the other night and came upon this SNL sketch, which rings truer today than ever. No lawsuits over this one, because it's more or less true, but it apparently doesn't matter.
I think a big problem is the devaluing of education in popular culture. I can't help but think that if Americans were collectively better educated, we'd be against the war, but instead we have "Yeah, we gonna git them Iraqis for 9/11! You say it wasn't them? Aw, hell, I don't know nothin' about that stuff. So what if they looted the museum, I don't like museums anyway. USA! USA!" Politicians portray themselves as just folks without any of that fancy book learnin', making being intelligent and educated a liability rather than an asset. Meanwhile, college gets ever more expensive. I don't completely understand the school vouchers issue, but my gut feeling is that vouchers would somehow result in the wealthiest people attending the best schools. All just a big coincidence? Hardly. The Man wants to keep you stupid, not to mention scared. Take a look at this John Perry Barlow article on Brazil and ask yourself if we really have the best country in the world (his adoration of Gilberto Gil is a bit over the top, but then, why shouldn't humanity have someone that cool? We should be so lucky).
How 'bout them Ducks. Going to Caps-Ning game 3 tonight; can't wait.
I am one angry hockey fan today. Don't provoke me. The first three periods were damn entertaining. The Lightning kept scoring to take the lead, and the Caps kept tying it up. You can argue that either team should have put it away in regulation. Then came the 5-on-3 overtime debacle. We didn't see either of the penalties from our seats. The Jagr roughing call was at our end of the ice, but up against the end glass; from where we were it looked like the usual grappling/holding crap that doesn't get called in regular-season regulation, let alone playoff overtime. The Klee elbowing call was at the other end and we missed it entirely. Watching NHL Tonight et. al. after we got home, the Klee call was apparently legit, a bad play at a bad time by a normally solid defenseman. Unfortunately for the Caps, it came just 51 seconds after a fairly cheesy call on Jagr. So already they're talking about the Caps' history of not being able to put teams away in the playoffs, not to mention their recent history of being lousy in the second of back-to-back games. Well, if you can't get up for game 4 of a playoff series, there's no hope for your team anyway. Truth be told, however, with the way these teams played last night, and the way the Leafs and Flyers played on Monday, either of those teams would completely level the Bolts or Caps right now.
Today, I am a sad hockey fan, and I'm sure glad I didn't go to last night's game. But I suppose I'd feel worse if I was a Red Wings fan. I have a co-worker who's a big Detroit fan, and I almost felt bad about going over to his office to rub it in this morning. But then, I thought about how I felt in '98 when I went to Game 4 of the Finals and had to endure the Wings skating the Cup and their fans celebrating. I thought about how I felt this year, when the Wings pounded the Caps and thousands of smug Wings fans cheered. And then I headed directly to his office to say that even if the Caps and Flyers both lose in the first round, at least they didn't get swept.
A word on the weirdness of having two favorite teams in the same sport: Bill Simmons had a piece a good year or two ago saying it was absolutely impossible to have loyalty to more than one team in the same sport. I sent him an angry e-mail, to which he of course never replied, breaking it down like this: I grew up a Philly sports fan, so I cheer for the Phillies and Flyers. However, I've lived in the DC area for almost ten years now, and as such I follow the Orioles and Caps as well. Now, when the Phillies and Orioles play each other, my original loyalties take hold, and I cheer for the Phils even if it's at Camden Yards (though I try to keep a lid on it). However, having had at least partial season tickets for the Caps for three years now, I honestly have a hard time picking between the Caps and Flyers. I don't go to the game when the Flyers are in town. If both teams advance to the second round, I will be in the awkward position of having to root for the Senators and Devils to both move on, so the Caps and Flyers don't have to play each other yet. If they both made the conference finals, I'd be happy and yet bewildered--in my opinion, the Flyers have a better chance of winning the Cup, but if the Caps went to the Cup final, I'd get to go to the games. If Simmons can't stomach having two favorite teams, that's fine for him, but I tell you it is possible.
There was a piece on ESPN.com a couple of weeks ago, attempting to decide which of the major sporting playoffs was the "best," and they settled on the World Series. In terms of excitement and determining a true champion, I think hockey has them all beaten, hands down. Baseball is my favorite sport, and I'd love to win the World Series, but baseball is still a fair amount of standing around punctuated by occasional activity. The way baseball playoff games drag out these days, it's hard to call it intense. NFL playoff games are pretty intense, but they are single games; the fact that a given (top-two seed) team can win ONE playoff game and make the conference championship just seems a little lame. NCAA hoops is pretty exciting, but again, single-elimination--while that lends an edge and an anyone-can-do-it quality, it also means sometimes a team just gets hot at the right time and wins a flukey championship. As for the NBA, even in the playoffs, the first three quarters matter very little, plus a first-round series can be over before you have a chance to think about it. In the Stanley Cup playoffs, every minute of every game is typically played like it's the most important minute of hockey ever played. Should the Caps finish off the Lightning, it will be an exhausting accomplishment worthy of much celebration--and it's only the first round. Then they'll have to go out and do the same against (probably) Ottawa, then New Jersey, then whoever gets out of the West. Man, it's a haul. And there is nothing remotely like it in the rest of sports.
I Don't Like Stuff That Sucks: Idiot newscaster asks if Iraqi boy who lost his arms has been given an education on why the war happened. Sadly, I think she channels much of America. Screw that; if I lost my arms because of an errant cruise missile, I'd give a rat's ass if the war was justified. Elsewhere, while individuals are detained without charges or council if they're thought to have terrorist connections, corporations aren't given the same treatment. Who owns our government, again? (Shout-out to Atrios for these items.)
A glimmer of hope this week: Cheney & Co. told "You have no case" by appeals judge in the matter of releasing White House energy policy proceedings. As someone pointed out in comments at the Daily Kos, if Cheney loses here he will probably appeal to the Supreme Court, and the Supremes have already proven their love for this administration. Still, it's the best news towards having our government moved back towards "for the people" rather than "for the rich & powerful" that I've heard in some time.
The Senators and Devils both won last night to get through to the next round. The good thing about this in my world is that the Caps and Flyers will NOT play each other in the second round, should each succeed in the difficult (but not impossible) task of winning two of three from their respective opponents.
Hockey season is over in Washington, and oddly enough I feel somewhat relieved. Disappointed that they lost, of course, but at least I don't have to worry about it any longer. I'm expecting some backlash at Uncle Ted for his comments that
poor fan support doesn't justify big spending, but I can't say as I blame him. I read more than one person on the Caps' message board saying they'd go to the second round, because there's too much history of losing in the first round. But honestly, how much do the Caps' current players have to do with losing in the first round in, say, 1996? Not too freakin' much. There's been a lot of bad luck here, but I find it ludicrous that people would predicate their attendance at playoff games on the team proving it won't lose. Fans in 14 other cities would have loved to have made the playoffs at all. Anyway, go Flyers!
I watched "Field of Dreams" last night for about the 8th time, and my friend Otis and I are having a quote-o-thon today. "It's not my fault you wouldn't play catch with your father!" If you're passing through Iowa, you can still visit the field.
Very little to say of late; the rest of the blogosphere is doing a fine job of thrashing big ol' homophobe Rick Santorum, and reproducing the naked Dixie Chicks magazine cover. Meanwhile, the administration is beginning to admit that Iraqi WMD were largely a fabrication, an excuse to go to war (via Kos and Atrios). And tax cuts for the wealthy are apparently more important than health care. But I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free. This stuff constitutes much bigger, more important lies than anything having to do with Bill Clinton and an intern, let alone whether Al Gore invented the Internet. This stuff tears people's lives apart at best, kills them at worst. So where's the grilling by our So-Called Liberal Media? Where's the outrage? This country does not make sense. Wookies do not live on Endor.
Our leaders (particularly Republicans) are fond of blaming Hollywood and video games for tragic cases like this. But what of the influence of a foreign policy that teaches us violence solves problems? And threats against anti-war protestors that are not appropriately shouted down and condemned by the establishment? Nuuuuuuuuthin.
A fine couple of days for Philadelphia sports, don't you think? Flyers shutout win Sunday night, Sixers win last night, the Millwood no-hitter Sunday followed by another Phils shutout win last night. If only I had the means to watch the Phillies, I'd be a happy guy, but I'm not playing for any of MLB.com's services because they require that you install the thoroughly evil RealOne Player.
Why spend $100 on birth announcements when you can spend just a little more and get a new photo printer, make your own, and have the printer to show for it when you're done? While you're at it, be sure to buy a lot more cool-looking pseudo-vinyl CD-Rs than you realistically need, so you can get the free camera for spending a certain amount of money.
Seen over at ODub: EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman provides latest proof that "avoiding even the appearance of impropriety" applies only to low-level government employees. Cabinet secretaries, vice-presidents, and high-level DoD advisers can do whatever the hell they want.
Very interesting diatribe delivered by the chef at Colorado Kitchen in the Post's food critic chat. In a nutshell, she says "If you're going to make outrageous requests, stay the hell out of my restaurant." There are the predictable whines of "I'm paying so much money for my meal; you should make what I want," but on the whole I agree with her. If you go to a certain type of restaurant with a chef who is doing something special, you should go with that. It's part of the presentation. If you're going to be finicky and demand that things be cooked your way, you're wasting your money. Either cook at home, or go to Applebee's or IHoP. If you're like the guy who scraped the blue cheese topping off his stake and slathered it in A-1, then you're really missing the point of going to a fancy restaurant.
My mascot-lovin' self is compelled to point out that the 40K+ crowd at the Vet for Millwood's no-hitter last Sunday wasn't just due to the first nice-weather day in Philly in two weeks; it was the Phanatic's 25th birthday party. I attended a Phanatic birthday part 'round about 1980 or so; can't remember much about the game, but I'm quite sure it wasn't a no-hitter. Free Tastykakes for all!
Incredibly, I didn't attend a baseball game this season until the first weekend in May. We finally made it to the ballpark on Saturday, to see the Potomac Cannons (or as I prefer to call them, the Cannoons)
defeat the Frederick Keys 7-3, snapping a six-game losing streak. One of the long-term advantages of following a team in the low minors is that you have pretty much a new line-up every year; the team could easily finish last in one year and win the league the next. The Cannoons are completely new this year, having switched parent clubs from the Cardinals to the Reds. But they're still awful, last place and eight games out of first in their division. I don't think they've even contended in the years I've been following them. Still a good time, even with an old and non-flashy park. Burgers and dogs are cooked on actual charcoal grills just outside the side gates; they really need a Krispy Kreme-style "Hot Fresh Now" sign to let you know when food is ready. If people knew they'd be getting a burger straight off the grill, rather than one that's been in a steam tray for 20 minutes, they'd sell a lot more burgers. I still dream of winning the lottery, buying the team, moving it to a new ballpark in Falls Church (Metro-accessible!) and calling them the Falls Church Fools. Logo: a baseball with a jester cap.
I fail to see why the Mike Price Alabama football story is as huge as it is. It was the lead story on Sunday morning's SportsCenter, for a good ten minutes, with additional information later on. But if you're not a die-hard Alabama fan, do you really care that much? It's mildly interesting, but do I need to see his whole press conference three or four times? Even ESPN is going for the scandal story rather than something newsworthy (in their case, NBA and NHL playoff games). Then there's this preachy-ass editorial by the Post's Sally Jenkins, saying "Grown-ups are running this country again" and with people like Rumsfeld and Cheney in charge we all have to be responsible. How are these guys, and other Republicans, paragons of responsibility when their corporate shenanigans are so well-established? On the whole, I find it curious that the Clinton years and the "climate of irreponsibility" are the right wing's original causes of Enron and the like. Funny how these (inevitably Republican) CEOs and executives had no freakin' self-control, because they were slavishly following the lead of the Clintons... who the right wing, uh, despises.
Wonder what Sally Jenkins thinks of Etan Thomas, who just became my favorite basketball player. Any NBA player who writes a poem called "Republicans," and leads "Them hypocrites don't care about you," is OK in my book.
The blogosphere can be a lonely place. I know people look at this page--60 hits a day so far this month--but the complete lack of comments make me wonder if I'm wasting my time. A certain number of blogs have a big following, and breaking into that circle seems difficult if not impossible. I'm not spending a lot of time pimping my blog; I link to stuff that I like and other people's postings that are relevant, and I figure eventually I'll generate hits on their site logs, and if my stuff is any good I'll get linked elsewhere in due time and things will grow. But then I look at the Truth Laid Bear's Blog Ecosystem, which ranks blogs based on incoming links, and I don't feel quite so bad. FoolBlog ranks #1267 (as of Tuesday morning), among the "Slimy Molluscs" [sic], which is nothing to write home about. But then, there are 822 blogs ranked below me, many with no incoming links at all. At least someone's noticed. Speaking of which, the Ecosystem has alerted me that I got blogrolled at Cowboy Kahlil's ReachM High Cowboy Network Noose, so I'll return the favor. I should also point out that I added Smart Remarks a few days ago; Gil Smart is a columnist for the Lancaster Sunday News, which I read a few times while attending F&M.
I saw A Mighty Wind over the weekend, and I heartily recommend it. I was a bit surprised to see Ebert, who I normally agree with, give it a lukewarm review, largely because it's not wacky enough. And while it certainly had its wacky moments--I'm already driving the missus nuts by saying "Wha happened?!"--the sweetness of this movie, which didn't exist in Best in Show, was precisely what endeared me to it. Yes, the groups are laughable, but at the same time I'm sympathetic, especially with Mitch & Mickey (Catherine O'Hara was the best thing in this movie). I was in a grunge band in college for three years, playing small clubs and college parties in PA; the highlight of our career was a Tuesday night gig at CBGB's in New York. A couple years after we broke up, we did a "reunion show," and it was a strange mix of joy and sadness. It was nice to have so many people come up and tell us they were excited to hear us play again, but at the same time it was bittersweet, because there weren't going to be more gigs for these people to come to, and they wouldn't be buying our tapes. If I were asked to do another reunion gig now, adding the personal baggage of six years (the drummer, one of my best friends back in the day, has fallen off the face of the earth), and I don't know if I could do it again. All this from my little band that pretty much amounted to nothing, let alone a one-time million-selling act, not to mention ex-lovers, like Mitch & Mickey. The "kiss at the end of the rainbow" during their performance had to be heart-rending.
Back in the land of real music, I picked up the Audioslave CD. It's enjoyable, if not particularly groundbreaking. It sounds pretty much what you'd expect a Soundgarden/Rage Against the Machine combo to sound like. Now, not to say that Rage didn't accomplish anything, or that Soundgarden was the end-all of alternative bands, but still, I can't help but think that the three Rage guys look at each other daily and say "Dude, we're in a band with Chris Cornell!!"
Finally, I need someone to explain something to me. Bush and company are pushing this humungous tax cut for the wealthy as a jobs creation/economic stimulus plan. Give the rich their tax dollars back and they will build great shiny factories for the people to come work it. But I don't get it. See, the whole point of the Fed lowering interest rates to the freakin' sub-basement was to make taking out capital loans more appealing. So if anyone has a viable business idea at this point, haven't they already rounded up the cash to make it happen? Tax cuts may theoretically amount to interest-free capital, but in this economy, ain't no point to creating more crap if people ain't buying.
So, we had an election for Alexandria mayor, city council, and school board this week. The Democrats took the mayor's office and council in a clean sweep. (School board candidates didn't have any party affiliation, at least none expressed.) That's all well and good, but jeez, it was hard to differentiate the candidates. The Republican candidates made more of an issue of property tax relief--everyone agrees that the rate should be cut; the question is just how much. Beyond that, I think every candidate's campaign materials said "I'm for smart growth!" and "We must preserve our neighborhoods!" I was desperately waiting for the candidate who was for idiotic growth, and wanted to destroy our neighborhoods with tactical nuclear weapons, but s/he never arrived.
I finally got around to reading City Baseball Magic this week. A good read with some interesting ideas; I had never thought of "vertical circulation," obstructed-view seats, and how they relate to the placement of the upper deck, but now when I go to a big-league park I'll be sure to check it out. However, I was disappointed to find a piece by David Marasco (I'd link it, but his site is coming up 504, and now even the Google cache seems hosed) in which he pointed out that Armour Field, the proposed alternative to new Comiskey, suffers from the same problem as the stadium they really built: the first row of the upper deck is farther from home plate than the last row in the old ballpark was. I checked the diagrams in the book, and it's true! They made such a point of this as a design flaw of new Comiskey that I was stunned to find it in their urban ballpark design. Still, so many of the mistakes of the "suburban" ballpark are self-evident, and have been made time and again, most recently (as far as I can tell) by Phillies ownership. I hope the would-be ownership groups in DC and northern Virginia read this book before they go building a stadium.
So much for the NHL's mighty and all-powerful Western Conference. Hands up, who picked the six and seven seeds in the conference final? You over there with your hand up--you're lying. (Of course, now that I've said this, one of these teams will go and win the Cup.) I find myself pulling for Ottawa now, even though they rolled the Flyers. But Canada really needs a Cup win, and the bankruptcy-to-championship story would be great.
It's a thoroughly depressing news day, as all our ass-kicking in Iraq have apparently failed to make us any safer, while back at home Congress is going to let the assault weapons ban expire. On the latter issue, President Bush supposedly favors extending the ban, but he's not going to ask Congress to do so, meaning he gets to have it both ways. Argh.
I'm enjoying the Texas Democrats' ex-scape as much as anybody, but there's one thing that hasn't been fully explained: what's the Republicans' official explanation for wanting to pursue their ridiculous redistricting plan? I have found no other reason than "because they can," and that's called "tyranny of the majority," friends. Suggestions that the Democrats are wasting taxpayer dollars by stalling things like the state budget drive me bonkers; why aren't these people asking why the Republicans are worried about redistricting rather than the budget?
Closer to home, my junior high school is suffering from incidents of racist remarks and fighting. Hmmmm, wonder where these kids learned to say offensive things to people of other races? At home, maybe? And what on earth are some of these kids doing wearing Confederate flag stuff? helloooooo, you live in PENNSYLVANIA. That's the NORTH. To link Calpundit twice in one day, some on the right apparently think racism isn't an issue in this country any longer, because they said so. Sorry, but a lot of stupid people need to either wake the hell up or die off first.
High time I put CalPundit on the blogroll, anyway, not that he needs any help from me. Same goes for TBogg and MaxSpeak. Also, go read X&O today. College was a good time, wasn't it?
Follow-up on the Texas Runnin' Democrats, and the Republican explanation for redistricting at this time. I picked this up at TBogg's:
DeLay's office released a statement saying, "Texans deserve representation that reflects their values and beliefs.
"Fifty-six percent of Texas voters cast their vote for a Republican congressional candidate last fall, yet Texas sends more Democrats than Republicans to Congress. We're trying to change that," he said.
I assume DeLay has no complaints that more people voted for Gore than Bush in 2000 yet Bush is President. And if things reverse themselves in two or four years, DeLay and company would certainly block any attempt to redistrict to favor greater Democratic representation. Besides, isn't your state-wide preference supposed to be reflected in your senators (both R in TX), while representatives, uh, represent local enclaves? These people have no shame.
Good morning, everyone. Did you see this Post article today? Prepare for an endless wave of "We found the weapons" statements from the administration (yep, two trailers that may have been mobile weapons labs = immediate threat to America), because if you repeat anything enough times, the American people will eventually believe it.
As if that's not nauseating enough, there's that crazy tax cut. John Scalzi (link via ODub) has this excellent piece which says something I've thought for a long time, only he articulates it much better than I have. Collectively, we seem to have lost sight of why we pay taxes: to accomplish things collectively that we can't really do individually. I'd like to see our kids educated, everyone have decent health care, fix the roads and build mass transit, because we can. Yet the "taxes are bad" fervor has reached such a fever pitch that some people would seemingly let these things go (and then complain when they hit a pothole, have a blowout, then are robbed by uneducated street youths with cureable diseases that have been left untreated). For the most part, would-be libertarians who carp about misuse of their tax dollars come off to me as whiners. My hometown has the largest high school in Pennsylvania outside of Philly or Pittsburgh; it desperately needs work, if not the construction of a new school and splitting the existing one into two. But they won't spend the money! And yet they wonder why their kids are surly and inattentive.
I'm going to try to avoid posting long reflections on how wonderful fatherhood is and how it changes you, because that's all been written already, a half-dozen times by Bill Cosby alone. But suffice to say it has its enjoyable moments, and it takes up a lot of time. Enough time that going to Dean meet-ups has been largely out of the question, but I figure I'll eventually help with their goal of having more people at each meeting. For now, how about YOU go in my place. Goofus for President!
Tip o' the jester cap to SKB for inclusion in his blogroll, which my alphabetical listing as "Big Fool," right after "Atrios," is the closest thing I will ever get to a link on the mighty Eschaton. Ha! Ha! Speaking of the Big A, here's a very good post on crime as cost-benefit analysis. Funny how many MBA objective-facts conservatives think "lock 'em up and throw away the key" is the best and only way to deal with crime.
Earth to Curt Schilling and the Atlanta Braves, who are unhappy with baseball's new Questec system for monitoring ball-strike calls: cry me a freakin' river. Darren Holmes seems to be saying that anything borderline has to be called a ball. So is calling a bad pitch a strike somehow worse than calling a good pitch a ball in the new system? In my world, they're equally bad, and I think the pitchers are only noticing those calls that don't go their way. I'm all in favor of a big strike zone, so if there are strikes being called as balls, get the damn Questec tape and prove it. That's what it's for.
So I'm driving to work yesterday morning, and just outside the Beltway on I-66 I spot the Meow Mix Mobile headed the other way. Wonder if they were going to testify on the Hill.
A fascinating read, courtesy of Rob Neyer, is this blog through a tour of Japanese ballparks. I have long wanted to do the 30 major league parks in one season; to do the same in Japan is something else altogether. Great stuff.
OK, so Toby Keith shows a Photoshopped picture of Natalie Maines and Saddam Hussein at his concerts, and it's just a good ole laff and his right to freedom of speech, yes? But when Maines returns a subtle F U to Keith, well that's SHOCKING and downright unAmerican. See, Natalie, you're a woman, so you're just supposed to take Keith's abuse and keep quiet, OK? At least, that's apparently how a lot of country music fans and industry people think.
Be sure to read this lengthy but excellent piece by Robert Parry, America's Matrix. It's seemed for some time that a lot of people have just turned off their freakin' brains; as I've said before, a lot of our people just do not care what happens elsewhere, as long as their lives are stable.
Hell of an entertaining hockey game Saturday night, and I'm looking forward to more of the same tonight. In the semi-final round, I was pulling for Ottawa partially because of the Canadian factor, but also because I had reasons to oppose the other three teams: Minnesota's a third year franchise, and their fans need to suffer longer; Anaheim won the World Series last year, so they've had enough success for now; New Jersey is New Jersey. Now, I am pulling for Anaheim, because New Jersey is still New Jersey and that tends to trump everything, but also because I'd like Adam Oates to hoist the Cup. I'd have to say Old Man Oates is my all-time favorite Capital; unlike a lot of Caps fans (who are now ready to run Jagr out of town), I was disappointed when he left the team. He brings a lot of subtle but important things to the table, like being the God of Face-Offs. He's also said his favorite thing to do in the game of hockey is be on the penalty kill for a 5-on-3. That says a lot, I think. Also, my wife thinks he's cute.
I really shouldn't let cartoons get on my nerves, especially certifiably insane ones, but this B.C. strip pisses me off to no end (the link may be squirrelly; it's the June 6 strip). Hart, you loon, we give a rat's ass what you think about right-wing cable news shout-fests. I remember when your strip was funny, and didn't beat us over the head with your hyper-Christian and conservative positions. Too bad Sunday's "Richard's Poor Almanac" isn't on-line; it has commencement speeches by various cartoon characters, and B.C.'s is "You are all going to hell." Ha! Surprisingly, the normally inoffensive (but rarely funny) Mother Goose and Grimm takes an annoying political turn today (by tomorrow, this won't work; try their archive). If we'd actually found WMD by now, there would be some point to this strip.
So much for Old Man Oates and the rest of the Duckies hoisting the Cup. So it goes. Also, the Spurs win the NBA title, which I really don't care about, except that it kept New Jersey from winning both the NBA and NHL championships in the same year. No city/locale has ever pulled that off, and it's a good thing it didn't start in New Jersey of all places.
For those of us outside the Philadelphia area, it was a special treat to hear Harry the K on ESPN's Phillies-Braves broadcast Wdnesday night. I'm not sure what was better: the montage of great Kalas/Phillies moments (Rick Wise's no-hitter, Bob Dernier's game-ending inside-the-park home run, the end of the '93 NLCS, Schmidt's 500th home run), or Harry trying to explain to Joe Morgan and the other ESPN guy about the Mummers' parade. He kept saying "On New Years' Day, they parade down Broad Street," and Joe's like, "Yeah, but what do they DO?!?" For some reason, Harry failed to reply, "Get filthy, stinkin' drunk." I just wish Harry had done yesterday's game, with the Phils' 8th-inning comeback and 9th-inning win, instead of a 6-1 loss.
Lots of interesting stuff to link to these days, like this list of poll results at TMW. 33% believe a wife should "submit herself graciously" to a husband? 28% say the government should have the right to control news reports?! Where do they get these people? Elsewhere, we've got your basic secret detentions--nothing to worry about here folks, cuz we're a free country, we're so damn free we can't stand it, secret detentions only happen to bad people. Makes me want to run out an join Neal Pollack's Party Party--the No Fun Police are trying to take over; it's high time someone stood up for Fun, dammit (though after watching "Insomniac" last night, I'm glad to see people can still have fun, even in Salt Lake City). RonK at Kos takes Mallard Fillmore to SCHOOL. Bush lies about more stuff, in this case, the environment. Finally, holla back to Emily at Reuben Sandwich, who sent people over to see the Mascot Photos last week. She shares my distress that some people think "Proud To Be An American" is our second National Anthem.
Hooray for the release of the wrongfully accused in Tulia, Texas. Boo that they had to go through it in the first place. Just think, if they were up for the death penalty, there's people in this country who would have liked to see them executed before the appeals/pardons could come to fruition.
For as much as conservatives loathe Hillary Clinton, I'm amazed at how much time and effort they've spent saying mean things about her book. Many made the stunning prediction that the new Harry Potter book would outsell "Living History" (shocking! I mean, really!). I figure, why draw attention to something you dislike so much? Which is why I'm glad the liberal blogosphere has reacted to news of Ann Coulter's new blog with a massive shrug.
Around Olde Blog Towne: Digby lives! Via TMW, print out these neato 4th of July flyers and hand 'em out at the fireworks display. Via Pandagon, go try out the Presidential candidate select-o-matic. I was somewhat surprised to see Kucinich come up for me at 100%, and downright stunned to find Lieberman at 73% ahead of Dean at 72%. (Bush was at 12%, no surprise there.) There's an item on the TMW blog about how Dean isn't really all that liberal; they have a point-by-point comparison of his positions with Kucinich's. And while I see the point, I appreciate the fact that Dean is willing to stand up and be angry, as opposed to the apologetic tone taken by Lieberman, Gephardt, Dukakis back in the day, etc. That does a lot more for me than asking who's the liberalist liberal in Liberalville.
Egads, the Supreme Court managed to not be completely evil, not just once but several times. Of course, everyone's talking about the Texas sodomy law case, but you also have an overturned death penalty, in an era when prosecutors want to execute the known innocent before evidence exonerating them can be brought forward, and the Nike case, which basically says "Companies can't lie about their products and practices, and call it free speech." I was particularly worried about this last one; the pro-corporate-anything stance of the administration (and seemingly the entire federal government) made me think Nike would somehow prevail, and we'd be subject to any old crap the multinationals wanted to sling out there. Now if we could just apply that same standard to the government itself (in particular, do NOT miss Billmon calling bullshit on Bill Frist). The biggest laff in the sodomy decision is, of course, Scalia's dissent, in which he rails against "the homosexual agenda" and talks about a "culture war," yet says he has "nothing against homosexuals." I can't possibly reply to that better than X&O and DYFL have.
I'm tempted to say something insulting about Mac Diva, just so she'll flame me unreasonably and drive some traffic over here. But I don't want to get involved.
This post at Rush Limbaughtomy sums it up about the stupid centrifuge under a rose bush. "This is not even a cold rusty gun." Ha! Just for grins, SKB points out the differences between a centrifuge under a rose bush and the Manhattan project.
Finally, something I've been meaning to write about for a week. Last Friday we attended ZooNight, the annual FoNZ members-only extended-hours event at the National Zoo. I've been a FoNZ member since I moved inside the Beltway almost ten years ago, and have missed ZooNight maybe once or twice, but this was my first trip to the zoo in close to a year. There's been a lot of talk in the Post and elsewhere about the various misadventures that have occured on the Zoo's watch, and after this visit I think there's something to that. There's a definite feeling that the place is going downhill. Maybe there have been budget cuts, and of course it's not the Zoo's fault that it rained for a week before ZooNight, which made everything sloppy. But someone needs to tell them to put a cap on the renovations. When every other exhibit is either closed altogether or surrounded by orange cones and construction equipment, it makes the whole place look like a dump. Complete one renovation, then go to the next. And on the whole, where were the animals? The big lion/tiger areas? No cats to be seen. The enclosure formerly known as Monkey Island is now home to turtles, and theoretically coati but I didn't see them either. Rhinos? Shipped out to the Conservation Research Center. No idea where the giraffes were. I mean, what the HELL people! You can only ride that baby elephant so far. I'm plotting my FoNZ Board of Directors run now.
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