Friday, September 30, 2005

You are now free to not move about the country

Here's another sign that the planet is running out of oil (to go along with runaway fuel prices and a war fought for control of a dwindling resource): American Airlines has started canceling flights.

American Airlines, the No. 1 U.S. air carrier, on Friday said it decided to temporarily cancel 15 daily round-trip domestic flights from its two largest hub airports because of the skyrocketing price of jet fuel.

The airline, owned by AMR Corp., said the cancellations would take effect October 5 and last at least through October 29. After that, they could be restarted depending on what happens with fuel prices, AMR said in a statement.

In addition to the cancellations to U.S. airports that will still be served by other American Airlines flights, AMR said it plans to discontinue service between Chicago's O'Hare airport and Nagoya, Japan, at the end of October, also because of jet fuel prices.
If you think this is a result of damage to refineries caused by Katrina and a temporary situation, think back and remember how high fuel prices were before Katrina hit. Most of these flights probably never will be restored.

Expect other airlines to follow suit. And when there are fewer flights, you know what will happen to the price of an airline ticket. It's an airline executive's fantasy come true: Lower overhead (since all those pilots, baggage handlers and flight attendants won't be needed anymore) and higher prices per ticket.

Right before our eyes, air travel is becoming the domain of the wealthy.

Showdown in Beantown

The playoff chase comes down to the final weekend of the regular season. The Stinkins come into Fenway up a game in the AL East over the Sox. The Sox need to take two games force a one-game playoff in New York for the division title. Of course, if they sweep, they win.

Complicating matters are the Cleveland Indians, who are tied with the Red Sox in the Wild Card race and a game back of the Stinkins. The Indians finish the regular season at home with three against the White Sox. Chicago has clinched the Central and could conceivably rest its starters during this series. But the possibility exists that they might not want to see a team so familiar with them in the playoffs and will try to eliminate them. Of course, the White Sox are 11-5 against the Indians this season, so maybe they wouldn't mind seeing Cleveland in the playoffs after all.

The bottom line for the Sox is to forget all that and take care of your own business. Win.

Go Sox!

Friday's game preview

The Sox send David Wells (14-7, 4.47) to the hill against the Stinkins' Chien-Ming Wang (8-4, 4.02). A win tonight would move the Sox into a favorable position -- tied atop the division with the Stinkins with two to play, head-to-head, at home.

David Ortiz showed last night that his bat is still hot and he intends to play deep into October. He tied last night's game against the Blue Jays with a home run in the eighth and drove home the winning run in the ninth to give the Sox a big win heading into this weekend.

For those of you with MVP ballots, that's O-R-T-I-Z.

Manny Ramirez, who homered and was 2-for-3 last night, also looks to be swinging a hot bat. And with a playoff-type atmosphere against his former team, what more motivation does Boomer need?

Miller time

Judy Miller has decided to cooperate with the federal prosecutor investigating the leak of the identity of a covert CIA operative, and to nobody's suprise the source was identified as I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, aka Dick Cheney's chief of staff.

The White House will, of course, try to distance big Dick from this, but ask yourself this: Does the vice president's chief of staff do anything without the knowledge and approval of his boss?

Also, to nobody's suprise, the NYT is still pretending that Miller is an actual reporter and not a water carrier for the administration. New York Times Publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. said in a statement that the newspaper supported Miller's decision to testify, just as it backed her earlier refusal to cooperate.

"Judy has been unwavering in her commitment to protect the confidentiality of her source," Sulzberger said. "We are very pleased that she has finally received a direct and uncoerced waiver, both by phone and in writing, releasing her from any claim of confidentiality and enabling her to testify."
Yes, the whole time she was protecting a source, just like a real journalist. Sulzberger's statement made no mention of the fact that there was no news value in the name of the operative that was given to Miller, or that there was no reason for Miller to grant confidentiality to her source because the source wasn't a whistleblower who had reason to fear reprisals but was merely attempting to anonymously punish a critic of the administration. The statement also didn't mention the history and apparent cozy relationship Miller has had with the administration, evidenced by the stories she wrote for the Times supporting the administration's bogus WMD claims during the runup to the invasion of Iraq.

I guess this means at least one more slip of paper, for Scooter, tossed onto Bush's growing pardon pile. Which begs the question: Exactly how many members and associates of this administration are criminals in need of protection from prosecution?

Monday, September 26, 2005


U.S. Park police in D.C. arrested Cindy Sheehan.

U.S. military mother Cindy Sheehan, whose vigil outside President George W. Bush's Texas ranch focused attention on the anti-war movement, was arrested on Monday in a sit-in at the White House after refusing to obey police orders to leave.

Sheehan, whose son Casey was killed in combat in Iraq, was among some 200 protesters who sat in circles on the sidewalk along the White House compound's northern edge, purposely courting arrest. Hundreds more rallied in Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the executive mansion.
You think Bush will pardon her?

Monday's game preview

The Sox, fresh off sweeping the Orioles in Baltimore, begin a four-game set with the Blue Jays at Fenway. They have climbed back into a tie for first in the AL East with the Stinkins, who go into Baltimore for four with the Orioles after the Sox just finished softening them up.

Of course, the Sox and Stinkins meet for three at Fenway to end the regular season.

Cleveland still leads the Wild Card race, up a 1/2 game over both the Sox and Stinkins. Oakland is 6.5 games out in the Wild Card, four games behind the Angels in the AL West, and quickly running out of time to catch up. The Indians, who are 8-2 in their last 10 games, trail the White Sox by only 2.5 games in the AL Central.

Tonight the Sox send Schill (7-8. 5.89) to the hill against Toronto's Dave Bush (5-10, 4.45). The pitchers' numbers say high-scoring game, but this is the stretch run to the playoffs, and Schilling has come up big in big situations throughout his career. If he's anywhere close to healthy, look for him to have a strong outing. And if Manny Ramirez has indeed found his home-run stroke and Edgar Renteria can stay hot, David Ortiz might not have to do it all himself for a change.

Spain 1, U.S. 0

Finally, four years and 15 days later, the legal system has finally won a conviction against someone involved in the 9/11 attacks -- Spain's legal system.

A Spanish court today convicted a Syrian man of conspiring to commit the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States, and found 17 other men guilty of belonging to or aiding a Spanish cell of Al Qaeda under his command.

Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, 41, also known as Abu Dahdah, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for helping to plan the attacks and to 12 years for leading the cell, which was based in Madrid.

The other men received sentences ranging from 11 to 17 years for belonging to or aiding a terrorist group.

Mr. Yarkas is the only person convicted of involvement in the attacks.
Meanwhile, the most meaningful victory for our own attorney general in the "war on terror," the "global struggle against extremism" or whatever the fuck GOP spin doctors are calling it today is winning "the power to detain Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who has been held in a South Carolina military brig for more than three years without any charges."

Nice going. It couldn't have been easy to find a judge willing to deprive an American citizen of his constitutional rights on a technicality, but our attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, did it. It's that kind of piddling bullshit that shows terrorists we mean business.

Three years. That's a long time to keep someone locked up without charging him, but I'm confident that Alberto will gather enough evidence to charge Padilla any year now.

Any year now.


I guess some justice is better than none.

Army Pfc. Lynndie England, whose smiling poses in photos of detainee abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison made her the face of the scandal, was convicted Monday by a military jury on six of seven counts.

England, 22, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy, four counts of maltreating detainees and one count of committing an indecent act. She was acquitted on a second conspiracy count.

England's trial is the last for a group of nine Army reservists charged with mistreating prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, a scandal that badly damaged the United States' image in the Muslim world despite quick condemnation of the abuse by President Bush.
OK, she did it and she will be punished. Good. But does anyone believe her actions were the result of her own initiative? If so, how do you explain the abuses in Cuba? In Afghanistan? If widespread abuse isn't policy, what is it? Coincidence? And if the United States didn't violate the Geneva Conventions, as the U.S. attorney general has maintained, how is it that England, a U.S. soldier, is guilty of anything? You can't have it both ways.

ps. When was the last time you saw the words "quick" and "President Bush" in the same sentence? Just wondering.

Today's word is ...

President Bush used a new word today:

"We can all pitch in by being better conservers," Mr. Bush said after being briefed on the hurricanes' impact on the energy industry at the Energy Department.
I had no idea Bush knew anything about the concept of conservation. After all, his energy policy doesn't say much on the subject, he favors destroying what little pristine land our nation has left in search of oil and he opposes meaningful limits on toxins that are pumped into our air and water, as if clean air and water were in endless supply.

Kudos to whichever of Bush's handlers taught him his new word. Let's see if he ever uses it again.

Schoolhouse Rocky

Those of you who get the above reference will appreciate this. It ran once on Saturday Night Live and was edited out of reruns, which doesn't exactly refute what the piece says.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Revolting development

The Sox lost to Tampa last night and the Stinkins won, meaning the Sox hold a 1/2-game lead in the AL East. In the Wild Card, the Stinkins are 1.5 behind the Indians, which means, you guessed it, if the Sox don't win the division, they could possibly miss the playoffs. Disgusting.

Yankees suck.

Go Sox!

Rogues gallery

Boy, the president's pardon drawer must be getting pretty full:

A senior White House budget official who resigned abruptly last week was arrested Monday on charges of lying to investigators and obstructing a federal inquiry involving Jack Abramoff, the Republican lobbyist who has been under scrutiny by the Justice Department for more than a year.

The arrest of the official, David H. Safavian, head of procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget, was the first to result from the wide-ranging corruption investigation of Mr. Abramoff, once among the most powerful and best-paid lobbyists in Washington and a close friend of Representative Tom DeLay, the House majority leader.
So, let's see, that makes pardons for Karl Rove, David Safavian, Jack Abramoff, Tom Delay, and Ken "Kenny Boy" Lay (maybe Jeff Skilling too, depending on how Kenny Boy feels about him these days). Am I forgetting anyone? Please mention anyone I may have overlooked in the comments section. We could assemble quite a list.

The Blame Game

Finally, the Bush administration thinks it's time for some accountability regarding the collossal failure that was the federal government's response to Hurricane Katrina. Or, as they like to put it, it's time to play -- The Blame Game.

President George W. Bush has named his homeland security adviser, Fran Townsend, to lead an internal inquiry into the much-criticized federal response to Hurricane Katrina, the White House said on Tuesday.

A separate congressional inquiry will also investigate what went wrong with the federal response. But Bush so far has refused to back calls from Democrats for an independent commission to look at the disaster response.
Now that Bush has selected the finger, it's appropriate to start pointing it.

White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy told Reuters that "the president said he wanted to hold people accountable. This is one of the many ways in which he will do that." Let's be clear about what that means: Bush has assigned one of his advisers to assign blame in Katrinagate (to cringe and coin a term). Where she will assign that blame is Away From the President. Exactly where the blame lands is meaningless, as long as the president is "found" to be blameless. But where the blame will land is where the administration (which has been critical of others trying to play the blame game) has been dumping it ever since the shit hit the fan: on state and local officials. Here is what Townsend will conclude:

Federal disaster response to Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast region was stymied by widespread unpreparedness and slow, inconsistent responses at the state and local levels. A tangle of state and local regulations made appropriate procedures unclear vis a vis requesting federal assistance, which body had jurisdiction and therefore the authority to request federal assistance, and whether federal assistance was even necessary. We therefore recommend that federal, state and local legislators design and implement a clear and concise strategy for disaster response to facilitate earlier intervention in future crises.

The language will vary some, but it'll be just as needlessly cluttered with excess syllables. And the meaning will be basically the same.

You don't really expect that one of Bush's advisers is going to conclude that it was funding cuts due to tax breaks for the rich and appointing unqualified cronies to key positions that led to this disaster and the shitty federal response, do you? You don't really think one of Bush's advisers is going to blame him, do you?

The Plame Game

So now that the Blame Game is finally under way, when do we get to start playing the Plame Blame Game? Is that too many syllables for an effective sound bite? How 'bout The Plame Blame? The Blame Plame? No no, The Plame Game. Does the fact that Karl is "coordinating" the Katrina recovery effort mean that Pat Fitzgerald has to hold off on indicting him?

Probably what we're dealing with here is an attempt at image enhancement, which probably means appointing Rove to coordinate the reconstruction was Rove's idea. Now, the thinking appears to go, the public will associate Rove with something noble, with something other than the weasely, illegal outing of a CIA operative to punish a political opponent. As Fitzgerald closes in (which could happen if he moves to keep Judy Miller in jail beyond Oct. 28), expect to see a Presidential Medal of Freedom on Karl.

The fact that Rove is coordinating Katrina reconstruction means Bush believes the piss poor federal response to Katrina has nothing to do with the fact that he appointed woefully unqualified people to key positions. Either that or, and this is most troubling, Bush doesn't care if New Orleans ever gets rebuilt. I've said before that Bush doesn't care what shape he leaves this country in, and all I see here is proof.

The fact that Rove is coordinating Katrina reconstruction also means that the Bush image-reconstruction effort will get more attention than the New Orleans reconstruction effort. Don't expect a single $500 nail to be hammered without a camera nearby and an American flag in the background. Maybe we'll even see W., our rugged, open-collared, sleeves-rolled-up leader, hammer a nail. Ad nauseum. The same nail, over and over. On ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox. Especially Fox.

The fact that Rove is coordinating Katrina reconstruction also also means another raid on the federal treasury in the form of no-bid contracts awarded to Bush cronies, cost-plus deals that all but guarantee stratospheric spending by contractors, and outright thefts as billions of dollars just get up and walk away. You know, just like in Iraq.

Boy, nothing makes you miss the days of "tax and spend" like "no-tax and spend," huh?

Dear Republican,

An open letter from Michael Moore to everyone who voted for Bush. Because they're all culpable in their small way.

How does it feel to know that the man you elected to lead us after we were attacked went ahead and put a guy in charge of FEMA whose main qualification was that he ran horse shows?

I really want to know -- and I ask you this in all sincerity and with all due respect -- how do you feel about the utter contempt Mr. Bush has shown for your safety? C'mon, give me just a moment of honesty. Don't start ranting on about how this disaster in New Orleans was the fault of one of the poorest cities in America. Put aside your hatred of Democrats and liberals and anyone with the last name of Clinton. Just look me in the eye and tell me our President did the right thing after 9/11 by naming a horse show runner as the top man to protect us in case of an emergency or catastrophe.

Are we safer now than before 9/11? When you learn that behind the horse show runner, the #2 and #3 men in charge of emergency preparedness have zero experience in emergency preparedness, do you think we are safer?

When men who never served in the military and have never seen young men die in battle send our young people off to war, do you think they know how to conduct a war? Do they know what it means to have your legs blown off for a threat that was never there?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Lying and exploiting the dead

You knew there had to be a reason a Republican would be interested in the dead in New Orleans. Something other than basic human compassion and decency, that is.

Federal troops aren't the only ones looking for bodies on the Gulf Coast. On Sept. 9, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions called his old law professor Harold Apolinsky, co-author of Sessions' legislation repealing the federal estate tax, which was encountering sudden resistance on the Hill. Sessions had an idea to revitalize their cause, which he left on Apolinsky's voice mail: "[Arizona Sen.] Jon Kyl and I were talking about the estate tax. If we knew anybody that owned a business that lost life in the storm, that would be something we could push back with."
This is standard operating procedure for Republicans trying to sell tax cuts to a public that, for the most part, won't benefit from them. Describing GOP attempts to sell the Bush tax cuts during the 2000 campaign in his book, "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right," Al Franken explained what they're trying to do:

Rather than offering up an illuminating case of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Average, the Bush campaign was casting a political freak show in order to present a tiny minority as the norm.
But Time reports that, unfortuantely for Apolinsky and Sessions, only "a tiny percentage of people are affected by the estate tax -— in 2001 only 534 Alabamans were subject to it."

I guess that, for Republicans, there's finally a drawback to the enormous gap between the rich and poor in this country and the rapid growth of the latter group: not enough rich people. That's not making it easy for Apolinsky and Sessions to exploit dead hurricane victims for political gain. But they're determined. As Time reports,

For now, getting repeal back on the agenda may depend on Apolinsky and his team of estate-sniffing sleuths, who are searching Internet obituaries among other places. Has he found any victims of both the hurricane and the estate tax? "Not yet," Apolinsky says. "But I'm still looking."
The only thing that comes to mind is Joseph N. Welch's famous question to former Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy:

"Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

Great line

Go read the piece. From Frank Rich of the NYT:

If the era of Great Society big government is over, the era of big government for special interests is proving a fiasco. Especially when it's presided over by a self-styled C.E.O. with a consistent three-decade record of running private and public enterprises alike into a ditch.

What comes next? Having turned the page on Mr. Bush, the country hungers for a vision that is something other than either liberal boilerplate or Rovian stagecraft. At this point, merely plain old competence, integrity and heart might do.

Sunday's game preview

The Sox look to take the third of four from the A's today, behind Matt Clement (13-5, 4.33). The A's counter with Kirk Saarloos (9-7, 3.89). Saarloos is not overpowering, with 48 walks and only 45 strikeouts. A patient offense, like Boston's, should let Saarloos get himself into trouble and then capitalize.

Look for Boston to put a lot of runs on the Monster today, which would be a nice change from the last few games, when they've had trouble scoring runs. They've averaged 3 runs per game over their last seven. Expect to see Saarloos in the stretch a lot today.

Clement looks to rebound after dropping his last two starts, to the Angels and Blue Jays. Fortunately, if he gets into trouble today, the bullpen should be ready, after solid outings the last two nights from Wakefield and Arroyo.

Saturday's game

Manny Ramirez has nudged his way into David Ortiz's spotlight. He drove in both runs Saturday, including a two-run homer in the sixth -- to lead the Sox to a 2-1 win over Oakland.

The home run, his 436th, ties Manny with Billy Williams of the Chicago Cubs for 36th place on the all-time career list. He trails Jim Thome of the Phillies, who has 430.

For the second straight game, the Sox got a solid performance from their starter. Bronson Arroyo (13-9) went seven, giving up 1 run on 3 hits. His outing comes on the heels of a 9-inning, 2-run effort by Tim Wakefield Friday night.

Mike Timlin looked strong in picking up his ninth save, striking out two of the three batters he faced.

The win keeps the Sox 1.5 games ahead of the Stinkins in the AL East, as the Stinkins beat Toronto 1-0 Saturday. Cleveland remains ahead in the Wild Card race by a half game, after beating Kansas City, 5-4, Saturday. Oakland is now 5 games out of the Wild Card lead, 2 back of the Angels, who beat the Tigers, 3-1, Saturday.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Hurricane of excuses

Click here and read why Katrina is a neocon's wet dream.

Saturday's game preview

The Sox hand the ball to Bronson Arroyo (12-9, 4.42) tonight for the third game of the four-game set with the A's. Opposing Arroyo is Danny Haren (13-10, 3.90), who has been tough of late, winning his last three decisions.

David Ortiz, however, is swinging a hot bat. In the last five games, he has 5 home runs, including one last night, and 9 RBIs. And Haren lost his only career start against the Sox, giving up six runs (only one was earned) and five hits in 3 2/3 innings. Let's hope for a similar outing tonight.

Go Sox!

Friday's game

Edgar and Manny each took one for the team last night, as A's pitchers hit two batters in the bottom of the 10th. Manny was hit with the bases loaded, after Tony Graffanino doubled and moved to third on Johnny Damon's ground out, Renteria was hit and David Ortiz was walked intentionally.

The win keeps the Sox 1.5 games up on the Stinkins, who topped Toronto in a pitchers' duel, 11-10. Cleveland also won, to stay a half-game up in the Wild Card. The Angels topped the Tigers, 7-6, in 12 innings, to move ahead of the A's and into sole possession of first place in the AL West.

The air is getting cool and the games are taking on a playoff atmosphere. Every pitch is more important this time of year.

All I really need to know about economics I learned in kindergarten

Is this what they're teaching at Harvard Business School these days? George, on Katrina recovery costs:
"It's going to cost whatever it costs."

"I'm confident we can handle it, and I'm confident we can handle our other priorities," Bush said. "It's going to mean that we're going to have to make sure we
cut unnecessary spending. It's going to mean we've got to maintain economic growth, and therefore we should not raise taxes."

He said his administration would "work with Congress to make sure that we are able to manage our budget in a wise way. And that is going to mean cutting other

Earlier, White House officials indicated that the relief funding -- about $62 billion has been approved by Congress so far -- would have to be borrowed,
adding to the federal deficit. They would not identify any specific program cuts.

Allan Hubbard, assistant to the president for economic policy, told reporters that Bush remains committed to slashing the deficit. "This in no way will adversely
impact his commitment to cut the deficit in half by 2009," Hubbard said. He said the economy "is very, very strong now" and "the last thing in the world we need to do is raise taxes and retard economic growth." (Nice to know that economic policy is in the hands of such delusional people. -- Dr. S)

Hubbard declined to provide an overall cost figure for hurricane relief. Pressed on where the money would come from, he said, "Well, there's no question that ... the recovery will be paid for by the federal taxpayer and it will add to the deficit."

Also asked to name programs that could be cut or eliminated to help pay for relief efforts, Claude Allen, assistant to the president for domestic policy, said, "No, I cannot name any programs that will be cut."
Bush is trying to sell the country on the idea that the we will be able to absorb about $300 billion in spending on Katrina relief with no tax increase -- by cutting "unnecessary spending."

Let's review what kind of spending Bush considers unnecessary. Bush's 2006 budget proposal included the following cuts:

Health and Human Services: $45 billion in cuts to Medicaid over the next decade. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention budget cut $500 million. Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) cut $183 million.

Housing and Urban Development: $3.7 billion cut. Housing aid for the disabled cut $118 million.

Justice: The budget of the Office of Violence Against Women cut $19 million.

Education: $500 million cut, including the elimination of the Perkins loan program and college training for low- and middle-income students.

Labor: Workforce Investment Act programs cut $61.5 million.

Environmental Protection Agency: $500 million cut, including a $170 million cut in water quality protection programs and a cut of about $115 million for land preservation and restoration.

State: Millenium Challenge Corp. funding proposed at $3 billion. Laudable, but $2 billion less than what Bush promised.

When Bush says "unnecessary spending," these are the types of programs he's talking about, and you can rest assured that these are where the cuts, or "savings," will come from. Becuase even in the face of disaster, it's important to the president that wealthy people aren't burdened with hardships like capital gains or inheritance taxes (or "money not worked for" taxes). And being that he was born into a situation that all but assures him a hefty inheritance himself (because Republicans still haven't come up with a way to take their precious, precious money with them), you can understand why. Sure, the deficit may explode and reach previously unimagined levels, and sure it may be a crushing burden on at least one future generation, but Bush is adamant that there will be no tax increases for the wealthiest Americans.

Is everyone ready to get on board with what I've been saying? Bush doesn't care what shape he leaves this country in. Like every mess he's created in his life, it's someone else's problem. If you're not part of his base (and if you work because you have to, you're not), to him you're either a body for his war or a source of public funds. Other than that, to the president you're "unnecessary."

Friday, September 16, 2005

Tick tock

Watch the clock.

If you think that's depressing, hit "refresh" (on that site, not here).

Friday's game preview

Tim Wakefield gets the ball tonight for the Sox, which might be just what's needed to keep the A's off balance after they were seemingly locked in on Schill's fastball Thursday.

Wake is coming off a tough 1-0 loss to the Stinkins Sunday. In that game, he struck out 12 in a complete-game effort.

Thursday's loss to the A's, coupled with a win by the Stinkins in Tampa, has reduced the Sox lead in the AL East to 1.5 games. The Stinkins are in Toronto for three, starting tonight.

The A's are fighting for their playoff lives. They're tied for the AL West lead with the Angels, but they're 3 games behind Cleveland in the Wild Card race. Their best chance at a trip to the postseason is to win the division.

The Angels are hosting the Tigers for four games. Detroit took the first game of the set, 8-6, Thursday.

The Indians open a 3-game set at home against Kansas City tonight.

Thursday's game

Curt Schilling, who took a big step forward on Saturday against the Stinkins, stumbled at home Thursday against the A's, giving up 4 runs and 11 hits in 6 2/3 innings as the Sox lost 6-2.

But Schilling wasn't the only reason for concern. The offense failed to make a meaningful appearance Thursday, showing signs of life only in the sixth and seventh innings.

Johnny Damon returned to the lineup, doubling and scoring in the sixth, and driving in a run in the seventh.

Meanwhile, the Stinkins beat Tampa to close within 1.5 games of the Sox in the AL East and half a game of Cleveland in the Wild Card. The A's are tied with the Angels for the AL West lead, 3 games out in the WIld Card.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Blog searcher

Maybe this will help shine a little light on our dark corner of the Web:

Where the bodies are buried

In this bed, it's getting hard to tell who is giving the fleas to whom. From Sisyphus Shrugged by way of Suburban Guerilla:
Newsrack points out that not only are the press being blocked from watching the gathering of the dead from Katrina, the job has been outsourced by FEMA (although after they awarded the job Governor Bianco ended up having to pay for it, because FEMA doesn't do the contract thing so good) to Kenyon International Emergency Services, a subsidiary of Service Corp. International (SCI).
This explains how SCI found itself in a position to "win" this contract.

April 18, 2000:
Gov. George W. Bush has been named a defendant in a lawsuit brought by the fired head of the Texas Funeral Service Commission. She accuses him of impeding an investigation of a company that had given him campaign contributions.

Eliza May alleges she lost her job over an investigation of Houston-based Service Corporation International (SCI). She filed her wrongful termination lawsuit last year and amended it on Monday to include Bush.

The lawsuit accuses the Republican presidential candidate of conspiring to interfere with the agency's 1998 investigation of the company.

"Defendant Bush directed, approved of, ratified, condoned and/or knowingly permitted his staff to intervene improperly" in the investigation, the lawsuit alleges.

SCI, one of the world's largest funeral home and cemetery operators, is headed by Bush family friend Robert Waltrip, who contributed $45,000 to Bush's gubernatorial campaigns, according to the lawsuit.

Waltrip also served as a trustee for the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station and donated more than $100,000 through his company toward construction.

May was investigating possible violations of funeral home regulations, including whether SCI was using unlicensed embalmers. The funeral home board's complaint review committee voted to assess more than 20 of SCI's affiliated funeral homes fines totaling $450,000.

She was fired after Waltrip met with Bush's top aide Joe Allbaugh, to complain about the agency's investigation of his company.
You remember Joe Allbaugh -- he was the head of FEMA before Brownie took over. See how neatly it all comes together?

By the way, that suit was settled in 2002 for $210,000 -- $155,000 from the state of Texas (be sure to thank the president, Texas) and $55,000 from SCI.

Speaking of lawsuits that didn't exactly go SCI's way, the corporation sued Darryl Roberts in 1997 for his book "Profits of Death: An Insider Exposes the Death Care Industries" and amended the suit after Roberts appeared on the February 1, 1998 edition of "60 Minutes," in a segment titled "The High Costs of Dying." From

In the suit, SCI and Waltrip alleged that Roberts and his publisher defamed them claiming they falsely accused Waltrip of stating that it was his goal to turn SCI into "the True Value Hardware of the funeral-service industry." "The quote," said Roberts, "was taken directly from an article that appeared in Business Week in its August 25, 1986 issue."

After Roberts' 1998 appearance on 60 Minutes, SCI and Waltrip filed a motion to amend their original lawsuit to include allegedly libelous statements made by Roberts on the show. Among the statements challenged were the comment that "conglomerates come into town (and) raise prices fairly quickly," and an alleged implication that SCI businesses charge $800 for opening and closing a grave when their costs are only $50.
A federal judge dismissed all of SCI's defamation charges and SCI dropped the suit.

Here's a little task-specific background on the corporation the government selected to restore dignity to the people killed by Hurricane Katrina.

April 18, 2002:
About 20 Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents arrived at Menorah Gardens Cemetery with a sealed warrant and began digging, agency spokeswoman Paige Paterson said. She declined to say what the agents were seeking.

Attorney Neal Hirschfeld, who has filed a class-action suit lawsuit against Menorah Gardens, said former gravediggers have told investigators that body parts were strewn in the area.

"They're definitely looking for human remains," he said.

The cemetery is accused of jamming corpses together in unmarked graves, removing bodies and otherwise creating space to allow more burial plots to be sold.

Don Mathis, spokesman for Service Corporation International, which owns Menorah Gardens, said the company was cooperating with the search. The firm's Web site identifies SCI as "the world's largest provider of funeral and cemetery services," with operations in 11 countries.
Boy, if that were true, it would certainly make the administration look bad -- I mean the president being so tight with such ghouls, and the ghouls being awarded a government contract for which they seem uniquely morally unqualified. Well, it is true. Here's what happened next.

May 22, 2003:
TALLAHASSEE – Attorney General Charlie Crist, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Tim Moore jointly announced the filing of four felony criminal charges, and the financial imposition of a $1 million fine as part of a restitution and remedial action plan that could reach $14 million. These actions stem from the mishandling of burials at Palm Beach County and Broward County cemeteries owned and operated by Service Corporation International (SCI) of Houston, Texas, and subsidiary SCI Funeral Services of Florida, Inc.

Following a year-long Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation, Jeffrey Frucht, SCI Florida Area Vice-President, along with SCI Houston and SCI Florida, were charged with incompetence and misconduct in failing to manage Menorah Gardens and the other cemetery. Robert McKay, SCI Florida Superintendent, and SCI Florida were charged with two counts of failure to obtain authority to disinter the remains of Col. Hyman Cohen and Harold Wells. Some of their remains were recovered by FDLE investigators near a wooded area, removed from the burial sites. (DNA tests confirmed that the remains found in the woods were Cohen’s -- Dr. S)

Additionally, SCI has agreed to provide up to $14 million in damages, penalties and refunds.

“FDLE’s year-long investigation into Menorah Gardens and its parent company has discovered some serious and disturbing actions by the managers and executives of these companies,” said FDLE Commissioner Tim Moore. “The families of the deceased have been put through terrible turmoil and it is our hope that they can now finally get some closure.”
Dec. 2, 2003:
Broward Circuit Judge J. Leonard Fleet on Monday refused to dismiss charges against Houston-based Service Corporation International, the world’s largest funeral services company.
Judge Fleet rejected a dismissal request from defense attorneys who claimed that any wrongdoing was done by local managers without the knowledge or consent of Houston corporate managers.
Hmm, blame local officials and claim that remote overseers are blameless. We've seen that strategy again recently, haven't we? The administration didn't invent the strategy, just perfected it. But there's more:

December 3, 2003:
Attorneys representing thousands of people in a class action lawsuit against the operator of two troubled Menorah Gardens cemeteries in Broward and Palm Beach counties reached a $100 million settlement in the case late Tuesday.

The settlement does not include a case pending against SCI in Palm Beach County, in which about 60 families are suing over burial problems. (That suit, which eventually included 72 families, was settled in October 2004 -- Dr. S)

SCI and its Florida subsidiary are each charged with two third-degree felonies for being negligent and incompetent in the operation of the cemeteries. SCI Florida's vice president, Jeffrey Frucht, 44, faces those same charges. A former Menorah Gardens grounds supervisor in Palm Beach County has pleaded guilty to exhuming two bodies without seeking relatives' permission.
What makes matters worse, if that's still possible, is that FEMA hired these scumbags after rejecting offers from National Funeral Directors Association volunteers to do the work free. Why take volunteers when you can allow a crony to fatten up on taxpayer money? Republicans are soooooooooooo fiscally responsible, aren't they?

By the way, how does paying cronies instead of using volunteers impact Bush's promise to halve the federal defict by 2009?

Wednesday's game

It should come as no suprise who was the hero in last night's 5-3 win over the Blue Jays.

Once again, David Ortiz lifted the Sox to victory with a dramatic, late-inning home run. Ortiz connected in the eighth off losing pitcher Josh Towers (11-11). Bill Meuller, who singled, scored ahead of Ortiz.

Ortiz now has 42 home runs. Of those, 17 have either tied a game or put the Sox ahead -- eight times in the seventh inning or later.

If clutch counts for anything, Ortiz is the AL MVP.

The beneficiary of Ortiz's latest late-inning home run heroics was David Wells, who improved his record to 13-7 with his 7-inning, 3-earned-run effort.

NOTES: Ortiz's home run gives him 38 as a DH this season, breaking the record set by Edgar Martinez in 2000 ... Gabe Kapler ruptured an Achilles tendon while rounding second base on a home run by Tony Graffanino. Kapler had to be helped from the field. Alejandro Machado pinch ran for Kapler and completed the circuit from second base to home plate. Adam Hyzdu filled in for Kapler, who was filling in for Johnny Damon, who was being treated in Boston for his injured shoulder.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Wednesday's game preview

The Sox send David Wells (12-7, 4.37) to the mound in the rubber match of their series with the Blue Jays. The Sox took Monday's game 6-5, but dropped Tuesday's game 9-3. The Jays counter with Josh Towers (11-10, 3.88).

The Sox hold a 2.5-game lead over the Stinkins, who fattened up on Tampa 17-3 last night. The Jays are in third in the AL East, 12 games out. Time is running out for Toronto.

The Stinkins are a game out of the Wild Card race, trailing the Indians, who play the rubber match of a 3-game set with the A's tonight. The A's are third in the Wild Card chase, 2.5 games out.

Afflicting the afflicted, comforting the comfortable

President Bush suspended the law requiring federal contractors cleaning up after Hurricane Katrina to pay workers the prevailing wage, but contractors have cost-plus agreements that guarantee them a certain amount of profit, no matter how much they spend to complete the job.

If a contractor is going to make a certain profit no matter how much it costs to complete their work, why is it necessary to eliminate the prevailing-wage requirement? Paying workers the prevailing wage won't cost the contractor an extra penny if the amount of profit is guaranteed, so the only result of eliminating this requirement is that money is kept out of the pockets of workers.

I'm not buying arguments about keeping federal government expenses down. If that were a concern, why was Halliburton again awarded a no-bid contract? If the government was so interested in keeping costs down, why did it agree to cost-plus arrangements, which do nothing to discourage excessive spending? The government is only interested in limiting certain expenses.

I'm also not buying arguments about the government side-stepping the bidding process to save precious time. Not when the government infamously dragged it's feet in an unconscionable mosey down to NOLA.

Even if I were to buy the argument that paying the prevailing wage would cause taxes to go up, to that I say the following:

1. Tax dollars in the hands of people who have lost everything and are willing to help rebuild their own communities is, as far as I'm concerned, money well spent.

2. Take a look at the deficit. Does it look like Bush gives a shit about the deficit? There's no way Bush is going to raise taxes, no matter how much it costs to rebuild the Gulf Coast. Sure he promised to halve the deficit by 2009 -- when he is conveniently out of office -- but does anyone anywhere expect him to live up to that promise? The deficit hasn't dropped a dollar since he took office. And Bush thinks he's going to cut it in half while spending more than $300 billion in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with Gulf Coast spending currently at more than $62 billion and expected to exceed $200 billion within weeks -- all without raising taxes? That's not even remotely realistic. It's laughable.

3. Taxes are going to have to be raised anyway. Sooner or later, to get us out of the hole that bush has dug us into, taxes are going to go up. As soon as we get some adults in the White House, people who actually care about the future of this nation, they are going to have to make the hard choices to clean up this mess, and tax increases are going to have to be part of the solution. (Remember how Clinton cleaned up after Reagan and Bush I, and left the nation with -- here's a word you don't hear much these days -- a "surplus"? How do you think he did that? Amazing what the government can do when it's fully funded.) So in 2010, when you're telling your wingnut friends that "Bush never raised taxes like the current president," remember that it was Bush who created the need for the tax hike. And if taxes are going to go up anyway, some of that money might as well find its way to people who have lost everything and are starting over with nothing.

The Bush administration might not see a hurricane coming, but when there's money to be made, no stone is left un-bled.

Clean house

The resignation of Mike Brown is a rare step in the right direction for the Bush administration. Of course, it came far too late, and tragedy was the result.

Considering that Brown was but one of many loyalists, donors and friends Bush has appointed to key positions in his administration, one wonders what has to happen to get him to rethink the policy of hiring the unqualified.

By not learning the lesson of the dangers of hiring loyalists and friends instead of professionals, by not cleaning house and replacing all of these hangers-on who are still collecting a government paycheck, Bush is setting the stage for not only similarly bungled responses to every ememrgency this country faces between now and that wonderful day in January 2009 when he no longer will be president of this great but damaged nation, but also for needless suffering as avoidable emergencies are not avoided.

Unfortunately, this after-the-fact firing (and let's not kid ourselves, Brown was fired) is something we'll probably see replayed as unqualified appointees inevitably blunder to the detriment of our country. This administration is only proactive when it comes to creating suffering, not alleviating it.

I expect we'll see a continuation of the pattern of bumbling in a moment of crisis, followed by assurances that all is well, blame-shifting to anyone other than the president and, in instances of collosal up-fucking, resignation of the loyalist in question. Bush's inaction guarantees that the federal response to every crisis for the next 3 and a half years will be a day late -- at the soonest.

That, of course, will be followed by profiteering -- what else can we hire Halliburton to do?

Hurricane-grade bubble

Even a hurricane can't burst this family's bubble:

"And I, myself, thought we had dodged a bullet. You know why? Because I was listening to people, probably over the airways, say, the bullet has been dodged. And that was what I was referring to." George, Sept. 12

"I also want to encourage anybody who was affected by Hurricane Corrina to make sure their children are in school." Laura, Sept. 8 (for video, scroll down or search for "Corrina" after you open the link)

"What didn't go right?" George, Sept. 6

"What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle) – this is working very well for them." Bar, Sept. 5

"But I really didn't hear that at all today. People came up to me all day long and said 'God bless your son,' people of different races and it was very, very moving and touching, and they felt like when he flew over that it made all the difference in their lives, so I just don't hear that." Bar, Sept. 5

"I talked to Haley Barbour, the governor of Mississippi yesterday because some people were saying, 'Well, if you hadn't sent your National Guard to Iraq,
we here in Mississippi would be better off.' He told me 'I've been out in the field every single day, hour, for four days and no one, not one single mention of
the word 'Iraq.' Now where does that come from? Where does that story come from if the governor is not picking up one word about it? I don't know. I can use
my imagination." George Sr. Sept. 5
You can use the 8/31 Washington Post, too, George:
"'Missing the personnel is the big thing in this particular event. We need our people,' said Lt. Andy Thaggard, a spokesman for the Mississippi National Guard, which has a brigade of more than 4,000 troops in central Iraq. Louisiana also has about 3,000 Guard troops in Baghdad."
"Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." George, Sept. 2

"Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (Laughter.) George, Sept. 2

"I believe the town where I used to come – from Houston, Texas, to enjoy myself, occasionally too much – will be that very same town, that it will be a better place to come to." George, Sept. 2
Again I ask: When we see an inability or refusal to express concern or basic human decency, should we be suprised that the administration appears to have brought no sense of urgency to the relief efforts?

He spells his name with a silent 'P'

Kick 'em while they're down -- it's the Republican way, and Rick Santorum is ALL Republican.
In a weekend interview with WTAE-TV about the victims of Hurricane Katrina, Santorum said: "I mean, you have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving."

On Tuesday night on WTAE, Santorum clarified his comments.

"Obviously most of the people here in this case, an overwhelming majority of people just literally couldn't have gotten out on their own," he said. "Many didn't have cars ... And that really was a failure on the part of local officials in not making transportation available to get people out."
Of course, he was referring to the logistically simple task of checking a list of nonevacuators against against Louisiana DMV records to see who had cars and didn't leave. (How does he feel about charging "suspects" posthumously?)

Oh, and let's give Ricky the shout-out he deserves for shifting the blame to "local officials" while covering his own ass. Way to carry Bush's water, bitch.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Sunday's game preview

The Sox, coming off Saturday's big win, face the Big Eunuch (13-8, 4.05) today in the rubber match of the series. The Sox counterd Tim Wakefield (15-10, 4.29), who is coming off a complete-game, 7K performance against the Angels September 6.

With a win, the Sox take a 5-game lead over the Stinkins and take a significant step toward winning the AL East.

Four years later

And so this is 9/11/05. And what have we done?

Osama bin Laden is still nowhere to be found. The Bush administration cut off the pursuit of bin Laden in the mountains of Afghanistan to pursue war against Iraq, which we have since learned had nothing to do with the horrific attacks of 9/11/01 and has no weapons of mass destruction (for me, a clue that these weapons didn't exist was that Iraq didn't use them to defend itself when the "coalition" was advancing toward Baghdad). And George Bush has gone from
"The most important thing is for the U.S. to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number-one priority and we will not rest until we find him." (September 13, 2001)
"I don't know where he is ... I just don't spend that much time on him really, to be honest with you ... I truly am not that concerned about him." (March 13, 2002)
not mentioning bin Laden at all.

Iraq is a quagmire and the administration has no plan for getting out of it. Bush will not discuss publicly a timetable for the withdrawl of troops from Iraq, claiming that such a discussion would "send the wrong message" to the troops. Bush apparenlty believes that the troops don't want to hear any discussions about bringing them home. Sending the troops into harm's way with unarmored vehicles and no body armor, what kind of message does that send the troops? To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, an expert in sending troops the wrong message, you have to go to war with the administration you have, not the administration you want.

The National Transportation Safety Board has not given any of the 9/11 plane crashes an official investigation. From Anthony Lappe and Stephen Marshall's interesting book "True Lies":
"According to the NSTB, none of the four 9/11 plane crashes has been given a formal investigation due to the fact they were 'criminal acts,' and thus placed under the jurisdiction of the FBI. (Former NSTB member Vern) Grose is highly critical of that answer, saying that though the NTSB statute states the leadership of the investigation will defer to the FBI, the NTSB has still completed formal investigations into crashes deemed criminal acts. ... Grouse describes the absence of any credible investigation (into the 9/11 crashes) as 'unacceptable.' "
We, of course, mourn the vicitms of the evil events of 9/11 and feel sympathy for their families. We also believe that they deserve the truth from their government.

Crazy like a Bush

Sure Nick Kristof of the Times is right, but it doesn't matter.
If the White House wants to move the debate about Hurricane Katrina beyond what it calls the "blame game" for bodies decomposing in the streets of New Orleans, then here's a constructive step that President Bush could take to protect people in the future: Tackle global warming.

True, we don't know whether Katrina was linked to global warming. But there are indications that global warming will produce more Category 5 hurricanes. Now
that we've all seen what a Katrina can do - and Katrina was only Category 4 when it hit Louisiana - it would be crazy for President Bush to continue to refuse to develop a national policy on greenhouse gases.
Crazy, sane, what's the difference? There's only one prinicple that guides the administration's policy decisions: What the Base Wants, the Base Gets. And what the base wants is a "La la la, I can't hear you" response to sound science when it doesn't like what sound science says. What the base wants is relief from New Source Review. What the base wants is tax breaks for fossil fuels. What the base wants is more use of the oxymoron "clean coal" and nary a whisper of the word "conserve." What the base wants is out of the Kyoto Protocol. What the base wants is no requirement to improve the fuel economy of new cars. Never mind that when our air and water are destroyed, no amount of money will buy a clean drink or a refreshing breath, so all this unenlightened, short-sighted profiteering is suicide. Somehow, that's someone else's problem.

A save that really matters

A big-time pitcher comes through in a big-time situation:
Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling and his wife are providing a New Orleans family with housing for a year. It's no small family either. There are nine people, with seven kids between the ages of five and 12.

Shonda Schilling told newspapers the magnitude of the refugee problem requires more than just giving money.
In addition to the Schilling family's generosity, David Ortiz of the Sox and Vladimir Guerrero of the Angels announced before Thursday's game at Fenway that they will donate $50,000 each to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

Ortiz made it clear that he will pressure other players to match his generosity.

"Everybody needs to come forward and give something," Ortiz said. "All of us, we make enough money to at least donate something."

Ortiz and Guerrero, who are natives of the Dominican Republic, cited the United States' generosity to their country in times of need. Guerrero, whose family was hit by a hurricane when he was a child, said in a statement, "This country has done so much for me and my family. We have to help these people, and we hope others will, too."

Red Sox fans have contributed nearly $185,000 to the Red Cross' Disaster Relief Fund at Fenway Park over a six-day span, the club said yesterday.
Please give what you can to assist the victims of this disaster, who have lost so much and have been all but abandoned by their government. Donating takes a second and makes such a big difference.

To contribute to relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, click on any of the following links. Anything you can contribute will help.

Saturday's game

The offense held up its end of the bargain, scoring nine runs, and Schill did more than keep it close. Schilling (6-7) turned in his best outing of the season, giving up five hits and striking out six in eight innings Saturday as the Sox hammered the
Stinkins 9-2.

Schilling, a big-time pitcher in big-time games, always seems to come through in the most important situations.

In a reversal of Friday's fortunes, this time it was the Stinkins' turn to make costly errors. In the fourth, Shawn Chacon delivered a poor throw to catcher John
Flaherty on what otherwise would have been an easy double play, Hideki Matsui misjudged and dropped a routine sac fly off the bat of David Ortiz, and a hard
takeout slide by Trot Nixon sent a Robinson Cano throw into the stands. The Sox took advantage of the extra outs, plating six runs in the frame.

Like I said, you can't play defense like that in September and win.

The win puts the Sox 4 games ahead of the Stinkins in the AL East. Oakland and Cleveland both won, meaning that the Indians lead the Wild Card race by 1.5 games
over Oakland and the Stinkins, who are now tied for second in the WC race.

NOTES: Manny Ramirez hit a first-inning home run, his first since August 21 ... John Olreud led off the six-run fourth inning with a shot to the upper deck in right field. ... John Papelbon pitched a scoreless ninth for the Sox. ... Johnny Damon sat out the game with a sore shoulder. The Stinkins were without Gary Sheffield, who is nursing a thigh injury, and Jorge Posada, who jammed his right shoulder in a collision with Jason Varitek Friday.

Labels: ,

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Saturday's game preview

Curt Schilling (5-7, 6.83) takes the mound for the Sox today, which means the Sox need to score a lot of runs. Schilling's ERA reflects the fact that he has been hit around regularly since returning to the rotation. The Sox have to hope he can keep it close.

The Sox will face Shawn Chacon (5-9, 3.66; 4-2, 3.08 with the Stinkins), late of the Colorado Rockies. For a team struggling to find starters, the Stinkins are pulling a lot of rabbits out of their hat, between Aaron Small, Al Leiter (who seems to be coming back to earth since beating the Sox on July 17,) and now Chacon, who was 1-7 in Colorado.

The Sox can open up a 4-game lead over the Stinkins with a win. If they don't win, things get more interesting than I'd like.

Go Sox!


If only this were true

It might be the only way to force these assholes to address the healthcare situation in this country in a meaningful manner.
WASHINGTON, DC—Citing Dick Cheney's pre-existing health conditions and his refusal to meet regularly with his primary care physician, the White House's health-insurance provider terminated the vice president's coverage Monday.

'A new low, I'm so ashamed'

And you thought a record low of 40 percent was impressive:
President Bush's job approval has dipped below 40 percent for the first time in the AP-Ipsos poll, reflecting widespread doubts about his handling of gasoline prices and the response to Hurricane Katrina.

Nearly four years after Bush's job approval soared into the 80s after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Bush was at 39 percent job approval in an AP-Ipsos poll taken this week. That's the lowest since the the poll was started in December 2003.

The public's view of the nation's direction has grown increasingly negative as well, with nearly two-thirds now saying the country is heading down the wrong track.
What I want to know is, who are these 39 percent and what country are they watching?

Utes people

Apparently some black New Orleans residents who are being sheltered in Utah after being displaced by Hurricane Katrina have some concerns about staying there permanently.

Asked whether he would relocate permanently to Utah after being brought here as a refugee from Hurricane Katrina, Larry Andrew rattled off a series of questions on Friday on the delicate issue of race.

"How do the adults really feel about us moving in?"

Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. said he expected about half of the 600 refugees who arrived here to remain permanently and said they would do just fine.

"It's different perhaps than many would think who rely on the old stereotype of Utah being homogeneous," he told Reuters. "We've evolved so rapidly in recent years."
Oh, there is one catch:
Utah, through its Joint Terrorist Task Force, is performing (criminal background) checks on evacuees who settle in that state.
Bummer. Maybe you could try Pennsylvania.

Try to imagine this happening if a hurricane hit the Hamptons.

Slave wages

What do you do when people have just lost everything? If you're George Bush, you bend them over a suitable piece of nearby debris and screw them.
President George W. Bush issued an executive order on Thursday allowing federal contractors rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to pay below the prevailing wage.

Bush's action came as the federal government moved to provide billions of dollars in aid, and drew rebukes from two of organized labor's biggest friends in Congress, Rep. George Miller of California and Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, both Democrats.

"The administration is using the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to cut the wages of people desperately trying to rebuild their lives and their communities," Miller said.

"President Bush should immediately realize the colossal mistake he has made in signing this order and rescind it and ensure that America puts its people back to work in the wake of Katrina at wages that will get them and their families back on their feet," Miller said.
Well, we know the way Bush handles mistakes, and "realizing" ain't it.

UPDATE: From Susie at Suburban Guerilla.
In a letter this week to Mr. Bush urging him to suspend the law, 35 Republican representatives noted approvingly that Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Richard Nixon and the elder George Bush had all suspended the law during “emergencies.” For the record, Mr. Roosevelt suspended it for two weeks in 1934, to make time to clear up contradictions between it and another law. Mr. Nixon suspended it for six weeks in 1971 as part of his misbegotten attempt to control spiraling inflation. And Mr. Bush did so after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, two weeks before he was defeated by Bill Clinton, who quickly reinstated it after assuming the presidency.
She has lots of other interesting entries, too. Go read.

Friday's game

The Sox ran into a hot pitcher in Aaron Small, who improved to 7-0 with the 8-4 win Friday. They made too many errors, and all up the middle -- Varitek, Graffanino, Renteria and Damon. They had plenty of offense, getting 11 hits, but plated only four runs, and the errors -- two on one play, were costly.

You can't play defense like that and win. Not in September.

The Sox still have a 3-game lead over the Stinkins. The top of the Wild Card standings didn't change, as Cleveland and Oakland both won.


What a dick

From Maureen Dowd at the NYT:
"While many see the hideous rescue failures as disaster apartheid, Barbara Bush and other Republicans have tried to look on the bright side for the victims. The Wall Street Journal reported that Representative Richard Baker of Baton Rouge was overheard telling lobbyists: 'We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did.' "


UPDATE to a previous post (Well, at least he looked nice): Brownie is out. Recalled, relieved, removed. Whatever they or you want to call it, Brownie's been selected to take the bullet for the administration.
"Mike Brown has done everything he possibly could to coordinate" the federal response to the hurricane, said Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
And that wasn't much.

But if Chertoff's correct -- and nobody is suggesting he's wrong -- in saying that Brownie did everything he possibly could, then what was an unqualified incompetent doing as head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency? Who's responsible for putting him in a position in which, according to Chertoff, he couldn't possibly succeed?

Add Brownie to the exponentially growing list of mistakes to which George Bush will never admit.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The blame game

Sometimes it's the best game in town. And the most appropriate.
It might make sense to hold off on the criticism if this were the first big disaster on Mr. Bush's watch, or if the chain of mistakes in handling Hurricane Katrina were out of character. But even with the most generous possible assessment, this is the administration's second big policy disaster, after Iraq. And the chain of mistakes was perfectly in character.
The White House, of course, is against finger pointing, unless they're the ones doing it, or alternately, they can choose and aim the fingers.
Democrats in the US Congress denounced plans for a commission to probe government failings in responding to Hurricane Katrina, charging that the panel envisioned by ruling Republicans would result in a whitewash for the George W. Bush administration.
Minority Leader Harry Reid said he had "serious concerns about whether their proposal will provide Americans the answers they deserve."

"An investigation of the Republican administration by a Republican-controlled Congress is like having a pitcher call his own balls and strikes," Reid said.
Don't expect a president who once said, "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier ... just so long as I'm the dictator" to see the problem with that.

Impressive audition

Remember the name J. Michael Luttig. You might be hearing it again soon.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush has the power to detain Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen who has been held in a South Carolina military brig for more than three years as a suspected enemy combatant without any charges, a federal appeals court ruled on Friday.

"The exceedingly important question before us is whether the president of the United States possesses the authority to detain militarily a citizen of this country who is closely associated with al Qaeda," wrote appeals court Judge J. Michael Luttig for the three-judge panel.

"We conclude that the president does possess such authority," wrote Luttig, a conservative whom the Bush administration has been considering for a possible Supreme Court nomination.
In related news, your constitutional rights and security within your own country have been eroded.

Well, at least he looked nice

"Yes. Mike Brown worked for me. He was my administrative assistant. He was a student at Central State University," recalls former city manager Bill Dashner. "Mike used to handle a lot of details. Every now and again I'd ask him to write me a speech. He was very loyal. He was always on time. He always had on a suit and a starched white shirt."
This from Time magazine, which reported that Brownie's resume is a pack of lies.
Now, an investigation by TIME has found discrepancies in his online legal profile and official bio, including a description of Brown released by the White House at the time of his nomination in 2001 to the job as deputy chief of FEMA.
Do applications for federal jobs still include the disclaimer "I understand that deliberately falsifying information is grounds for dismissal"?

This could be bad news for Brownie. It gives Bubble boy a convenient out at a time when he desperately needs to save face. Of course, firing the dumb bastard would require the other dumb bastard to explain his saying, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." But baseball GM's always say "I have complete faith in our manager" right before dropping the ax.

So this could cost Brown his job. Or earn him a Presidential Medal of Freedom. With this administration, it could go either way.

Yankees suck!

Well, here we are at the weekend (those of you who have normal jobs and social schedules), and the Sox are in the Bronx to take on the Stinkins. I don't have to tell anyone how important this series is, so let's recap instead.

The Sox and Angels split the last two games of their series, and the Stinkins limped out of Tampa after dropping two. The Sox have a 4-game lead in the AL East, and by beating up on Detroit, Cleveland has climbed over the Stinkins to take a 1/2-game lead in the Wild Card race. Oakland is a game behind the Stinkins.

The Sox send Boomer (12-6, 4.24) to the bump against Aaron Small, who, at 6-0 with a 2.42 ERA has been anything but for a team stuggling to find warm bodies to take the ball.

Tonight marks Mark's reunion with his former teammates. Let's hope Bellhorn still has some K's in his equipment bag.

Keeping up appearances

This explains why PR is getting more attention than P-eople.
It's not really all that surprising that the officials who run FEMA are stressing that all-important emergency response function: the public relations campaign. As it turns out, that's all they really have experience at doing.

Michael Brown was made the director after he was asked to resign from the International Arabian Horse Association, and the other top officials at FEMA don't exactly have impressive résumés in emergency management either. The Chicago Tribune reported on Wednesday that neither the acting deputy director, Patrick Rhode, nor the acting deputy chief of staff, Brooks Altshuler, came to FEMA with any previous experience in disaster management. Ditto for Scott Morris, the third in command until May.

Mr. Altshuler and Mr. Rhode had worked in the White House's Office of National Advance Operations. Those are the people who decide where the president will stand on stage and which loyal supporters will be permitted into the audience - and how many firefighters will be diverted from rescue duty to surround the president as he patrols the New Orleans airport trying to look busy. Mr. Morris was a press handler with the Bush presidential campaign. Previously, he worked for the company that produced Bush campaign commercials.
Political patronage has always been a hallmark of Washington life. But President Bill Clinton appointed political pals at FEMA who actually knew something about disaster management. The former FEMA director James Lee Witt, whose tenure is widely considered a major success, was a friend of Mr. Clinton's when he took office in 1993, but he had run the Arkansas Office of Emergency Services. His top staff came from regional FEMA offices.
This administration doesn't care about results, only the appearance of results. Why else would Paul Bremer and George Tenet receive medals for their runaway incompetence? Why else would the American public be prevented from seeing flag-draped coffins returning from Iraq and Afghanistan? Why else would the government have waited until after a televised memorial for Pat Tillman to tell his family that he was killed by "friendly fire"? Why else was Dick Cheney (FINALLY!) pulled away from mansion shopping on Chesapeake Bay to do photo ops on Lake George?

The list of examples is endless. Feel free to share some of your (least) favorites in the comments section.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Wednesday's game preview

The Sox roll into tonight's game with plenty of momentum coming off a dramatic 9th inning win Tuesday keyed by David Ortiz's 38th home run of the season. They take a 4-game lead over the Stinkins in the AL East into tonight's action, sending Bronson Cornroyo (11-9, 4,.47) out against the Angels' Ervin Santana (8-6, 4.52).

A loss like the one the Angels suffered Tuesday can suck the wind out of a team's lungs, but this is September baseball, and both teams are in pennant races. The Angels maintain a 1.5-game lead over Oakland in the AL West. Oakland lost to Seattle Tuesday. Look for the Angels to shake off Tuesday's shock and play like their postseason hopes depend on it, because they do. As for the Sox, seeing the Stinkins in the rear-view mirror is all the motivation they need.

Tuesday's game

How about that David Ortiz?

A home run in the bottom of the ninth sends the Sox to a 3-2 win over the Angels. A valuable win, because the Stinkins lost.

Team owner John Henry and president Larry Lucchino presented Ortiz with a plaque after the game proclaiming Ortiz "the greatest clutch hitter in the history of the Boston Red Sox." Ted and Yaz backers might bristle, but this is an organization whose history is pockmarked by instances of failure to get a clutch hit.

The homer is Ortiz's seventh walk-off blast of his career.

Lucchino said the plaque in Henry's office for some time, and after the home run he suggested to Henry that it was time to present it.

Tim Wakefield improved to 15-10 with the win. He pitched a complete game, striking out seven. Johnny Damon returned to the lineup and went 3-for-5 with a run scored.
Cleveland also won. But Oakland lost. The Sox are up 4 games in the East. The Angels are up 1.5 games over Oakland in the AL West. The Stinkins are up half a game over Cleveland in the Wild Card race, up 1.5 on Oakland.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Tuesday's game preview

Tonight the Sox host the Aneheim Angels of Los Angeles (or whatever they're calling themselves today). This series, as well as the Stinkins/Tampa series, are very important as the Sox and Stinkins look ahead to their series this weekend in New York.

Right now the Sox are 3 games in front of the Stinkins in the AL East. If things go well, they could go into NY up six. If things go poorly, they could go in tied.

The Sox send Tim Wakefield (14-10, 4.41) to the mound against John Lackey (11-5, 3.45). The Sox want to get to him early and often, keeping Francisco Rodriguez in the bullpen. He has 34 saves and 69 strikeouts in 54.1 innings.

The Sox hope to have Johnny Damon back tonight. He sat out Monday's game against Chicago with a sore shoulder, which he injured Sunday against Baltimore.

The Angels lead the AL West, up 1.5 games on the A's. Oakland and Cleveland are 1.5 games behind the Stinkins in the AL Wild Card race. Oakland is hosting Seattle for game 2 of their series tonight. Cleveland is at Detroit.

Compassionate conservative

Does anyone still have the capacity to be shocked by this?

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld toured a medical facility at New Orleans' international airport. He spoke and shook hands with military and rescue officials but walked right by a dozen refugees lying on stretchers just feet away from him, most of them extremely sick or handicapped.
When we see an inability or refusal to express concern or basic human decency, should we be suprised that the administration appears to have brought no sense of urgency to the relief efforts?

Labels: ,


Accompanying her husband, former President George H.W. Bush, on a tour of hurricane relief centers in Houston, Barbara Bush said today, referring to the
poor who had lost everything back home and evacuated, "This is working very well for them."

"What I’m hearing which is sort of scary is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this--this (she chuckles slightly) is working very well for them."
Yeah, it's hospitality that overwhelmed them. Perhaps at the end of the day, when all the victims have been rescued, fed, housed, clothed; after the sick have received the medical care they need; after the dead have been recovered, honored and mourned; perhaps we can organize a search-and-rescue mission for Barb's compassion.

Rescue and relief efforts are being led by a man raised by this woman, which explains a few things. The victims of this tragedy deserve better.

Labels: ,

Monday, September 05, 2005

End of an era

Jerry Rice, the greatest receiver in the history of the NFL, has retired.


Comments, please

Sorry about the word-verification requirement for posting comments. I'm not trying to set up any hurdles in the comment area, but I was getting a lot of comment spam, which is only slightly less appealing than real spam.

Your comments are encouraged and eagerly anticipated. And because this blog is so new, if you're reading this, yes I'm talking to you.


To the rescue

In case there's any doubt about what the administration's priorities are.

Under the command of President Bush's two senior political advisers, the White House rolled out a plan this weekend to contain the political damage from the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina.

It orchestrated visits by cabinet members to the region, leading up to an extraordinary return visit by Mr. Bush planned for Monday, directed administration officials not to respond to attacks from Democrats on the relief efforts, and sought to move the blame for the slow response to Louisiana state officials, according to Republicans familiar with the White House plan.
In interviews, Republicans reflecting the White House line said that the normally nimble White House political operation had fallen short in part because the president and his aides were scattered outside Washington on vacation, leaving no one obviously in charge at a time of great disruption. Mr. Rove and Mr. Bush were in Texas, while Vice President Dick Cheney was at his Wyoming ranch.
It's nice to know that while people are starving and dying, so much effort is being directed toward making sure people don't think badly of the president. But it's gotta be a tough job, making gross incompetence and indifference to human suffering look good.

By the way, how many tragedies have to befall this nation before these people decide that a month away from their jobs is too long?

Labels: , , ,

Almost no time?

Hard to believe a Washington Post columnist wrote this:

It took almost no time for President Bush to put his stamp on the national response to the tragedy that has befallen New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, a reminder that modern communications have reshaped the constitutional division of powers in our government in ways that the Founding Fathers never could have imagined.

Because the commander in chief is also the communicator in chief, when a crisis emerges the nation's eyes turn to him as to no other official. We cannot yet calculate the political fallout from Hurricane Katrina and its devastating human and economic consequences, but one thing seems certain: It makes the previous signs of political weakness for Bush, measured in record-low job approval ratings, instantly irrelevant and opens new opportunities for him to regain his standing with the public.
I might agree with that -- if the response to the hurricane weren't almost as big a disaster as the hurricane itself. Instead of a bold show of visionary leadership, which maybe could have made previous signs of political weakness irrelevant, it's just one more example of dangerous incompetence added to an ever-growing pile of mistakes to which the administration will never admit. Instead of deflecting attention away from past mistakes, this shines a spotlight on the notion that, given this administration's record, we must have been crazy to expect anything but failure.

I agree with at least one thing Broder wrote: The rescue operation certainly has Bush's personal stamp all over it.

Labels: , ,

Monday's game

Chicago got a good outing from starter Brandon McCarthy, who shut out the Sox for seven innings. McCarthy (2-1) gave up only three hits and struck out seven in leading Chicago over the Sox, 5-3.

Curt Schilling started strong but struggled in the middle innings. Schill (5-7) lost some velocity on his fastball as the game wore on, which shows that he's not at 100 percent yet. Usually Schilling gets stronger as the game moves along, frequently still hitting 90+ on the gun in the late innings.

The Sox made it interesting in the ninth, getting three runs off reliever Bobby Jenks, who brought to mind Ted Williams' theory that pitchers are "the dumbest people in the world" by getting away from the slider with which he struck out Manny Ramirez and going to the curveball too often.

Jenks' hard fastball makes his other pitches more effective. He used it to bury Jason Varitek 0-2 before freezing him with a curveball -- smart. The pitch was up, but because Varitek was fooled, Jenks got away with it. But he went to the pitch twice more, giving up Kevin Millar's double off the green monster and Tony Graffanino's homer over it -- not so smart. In both instances he left the pitch up and sped up the bats of hitters who appeared to be having a hard time getting around on the fastball.

A visit from pitching coach Don Cooper put an end to the curveball, and a good play by Paul Konerko on a hard-hit ball by Gabe Kapler put an end to the game.

Notes: Keith Foulke looked sharp in his inning and 2/3 of work. His change was working and he had good movement. ... The Red Sox picked off two Chicago baserunners -- Schilling picked off Scott Podsednik at first base in the third, and Varitek erased Juan Uribe at second after a failed bunt attempt in the seventh. Podsednik then stole his league-leading 56th base. ... Carl Everett topped off his three-strikeout performance by loafing to second base on a hit off the monster and being thrown out by about a hectare.

One more thing: Fans usually get on announcers for stupid comments, so I'd like to credit Jerry Remy for his insightful observation regarding Schilling's release point in the second inning. Remy pointed out the difference in Schill's release point on fastballs that were high and out of the strike zone, and fastballs that Schilling, after correcting the problem, threw to strike out Chris Widger.

Labels: ,

Monday's game preview

The Sox (80-55) take on Chicago's white-headed stepchildren (84-51) today. Schilling (5-6, 6.96) takes the hill for this make-up game against Brandon McCarthy (1-1, 6.19).

Two pitchers with high ERA's in a day game in what will be warm weather in Boston today could mean a slugfest, which would favor the Red Sox. Boston's team batting average is 22 points higher than Chicago's and Boston also holds an advantage in slugging percentage, although Chicago has hit 173 home runs to Boston's 165.

The game will be televised by ESPN.

The Red Sox have won 7 of their last 8, and 8 of their last 10. They are 3-1 in September. They start a three-game series at Fenway with the Angels Tuesday.

Chicago is coming off a 12-16 August but are 4-0 in September. They fatten up with three at home against the Royals starting Tuesday before hosting the Angels this weekend.

Labels: ,

Please help

To contribute to relief efforts for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, click on any of the following links. Anything you can contribute will help.


No magic 8-ball required

I wrote this in an e-mail Wednesday. I found out Friday where the contract to clean up New Orleans went. I thought I was kidding.

Forced off his land by the hurricane -- who says Bush doesn't understand the plight of Katrina's victims? -- he called the devastation in the Gulf region "one ofthe worst natural disasters in our nation's history."

No shit.

I guess the two Americans who didn't already believe that are now straight on how bad this storm is, historically. He also said that the recovery effort was going to be a difficult road, but there's "no doubt in my mind that we're going to succeed."

He said the same thing about Iraq. Which begs the question, how is Halliburton at draining flood waters?

Labels: , ,

Pen pal

I've been trading e-mail about Bush's response to the tragedy in New Orleans with a Republican friend of mine (if there's a way to argue politics good-naturedly, we do it). Other than the shortcoming of his political leanings, he's a very intelligent, articulate guy. He's one of my best friends and I have a great deal of respect for him.

Anyway, for some reason I spent a lot of time writing today's response, so since I went to the trouble to write it, here it is. OK, most of it. The whole thing is WAAAAAY too long:

Every time Bush is called on in a time of crisis, he comes up nonexistent. When he does act, it's never quick and decisive, probably because of the lengthy consideration of the political consequences of each course of action.

That's not just jaded cynicism talking, that's a response to the fact that everything this administration does is politically motivated. Sure every administration considers the political ramifications of everything they do, but these people have completely abandoned sound policy in favor of political points at every turn. "The jury's still out on global warming." Are you fucking kidding me?

Naturally, Bush's response to the situation is pure politics -- the visit to GMA when he told softballer Diane Sawyer that "I don't think anybody anticipated the failure of the levees?" Is he joking? In 2001, FEMA warned that a hurricane striking New Orleans was one of the three most likely disasters in the U.S. So what did the Bush administration do? It cut New Orleans flood control funding by 44 percent to pay for the Iraq war. Clearly this is someone who doesn't read any briefing put before him.

Also, he made a point to say, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job" in front of a group of reporters. Brownie, of course, being, according to Maureen Dowd, "Michael Brown, the blithering idiot in charge of FEMA -- a job he trained for by running something called the International Arabian Horse Association."

Looting, rapes, shootings, anarchy, bodies rotting in the streets. I'd hate to see what Bush considers a lousy job.

What we are seeing here, my friend, isn't politicians scoring political points, but a revolt by an outraged and suddenly ballsy press. Consider the aforementioned blithering idiot's appearance on GMA. (transcript excerpt deleted)

Meanwhile, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was dressed down on NPR's "All Things Considered." (transcript excerpt deleted)

Let's not forget Anderson Cooper vs. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who was busy thanking the president, Bill Frist et al. while bodies were rotting in the streets (is that what you meant about a Democrat trying to score political points during a crisis by tearing down the president?)

This isn't political opposition trying to tear down a damaged president. This is the press doing its job, reporting what it sees. And what it sees is failure in the face of tragedy.

It would be one thing if this show of incompetence were unusual for the administration. But this administration has damaged everything it has touched. It turned a record surplus into a record deficit in two years. NCLB is such a success that, acording to the Chicago Sun-Times, as of April "21 states have introduced legislation or taken other action to change NCLB." Connecticut has sued Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, and the largest teachers union in Pennsylvania urged Gov. Rendell to join the suit. The Texas State Teachers Association, a group you might think would be sympathetic to Bush, has joined the suit. Iraq is a quagmire from which we have no exit strategy, Osama is an afterthought (and still on the loose). The gap between the rich and poor is as big as its ever been, 45.8 million people in this country have NO health insurance and 37 million people in this country live below the poverty level -- a number that has not gone down since Bush took office. Meanwhile, in 2004, CEOs saw their average total compensation boosted an average of nearly 12 percent, to more than $9.8 million. The average nonsupervisory workers' pay increased just 2.2 percent, to $27,485. Also, corporate income tax revenues in 2003 were 36 percent lower than in 2000, and represented only 1.2 percent of the GDP and only 7.4 percent of all federal tax receipts in 2003. The latter number is, with the exception of 1983, the lowest percentage on record.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Sunday's game

The Red Sox topped the Orioles 5-1 behind a complete-game effort by David Wells and with help from a 3-run homer from John Olerud.

I'm concerned, like many, about their pitching. Wells pitched a good game today, but he needs to be a little more consistent. And which Keith Foulke is coming off the DL? The guy was never lights out, but last season he was very effective. This season, however, before the Sox shut him down, he couldn't get anyone out. Schilling will be fine. He needs work to be effective. Consider the rest of his regular-season starts a series of rehab outings for him until the real season starts. Schill always answers the bell in the postseason. Let's just hope the rest of the rotation is good enough to get them there.

The offense is rock solid. They're probably the best hitting team in the league, and when they smell blood, the hits just start piling up. I hope they can plate enough runs for the shaky rotation.

The stinkin Yankees (also known here simply as the Stinkins), beat Oakland today, aided by a home run and fine defensive play from the closely shorn Mark Bellhorn. Where are all those strikeouts now?

The Indians also lost. The Sox are up 3.5 on the Stinkins, who lead the Wild Card race by a game over Oakland, 2 over Cleveland.

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 04, 2005


Welcome to my new blog.

This blog is about everything -- that is, everything I feel like writing about. Nothing is outside the topic areas covered by the blog, unless of course I'm not interested in writing about it.

As you might have guessed, the Red Sox will be discussed frequently, so comments from people in the Boston area are welcome. The few Yankees fans who can read and type also are welcome to share their thought. After all, we're inclusive here. All are welcome.

I created this blog to give myself a reason to write. I don't do it often enough, and I don't expect this blog to change that. But I expect that I'll write more often now that I have something to do with the pieces after they're written.

So don't expect new posts every day. I do have a life outside of blogging, and I intend to keep it. Blogs have a way of taking over bloggers' lives, but hopefully my laziness finally will serve a useful purpose and prevent that from happening.

Politics will get a lot of mileage here. Our great uniter of a president has created a lot of political animals since he took office, most of them rabid. However, his approval rating indicates that he might finally be close to achieving his goal of uniting this country, albeit against him.

But it's not going to be all heavy, serious, Republicans suck. Sports, music, things I think are funny -- everything is fair game for discussion.

However, some topics are less likely than others to come up. The first thing that comes to mind is country music. If I'm talking about it, I'm probably ranting about how hard it sucks.

I probably will include postings of various levels of quality. After all, this is a tool to encourage me to write, so I expect that I'll post most of what I write. Often you only get to read a writer's perfectly polished finished products. Here you'll get a peek behind the curtain to see a writer at work. Well, at practice, anyway.