Commentary on whatever I am thinking about, usually written while watching baseball.
Friday, October 31, 2008
My new favorite WR
We’re told that Bengals receiver Chad Johnson a/k/a Chad Javon Ochocinco had a special touchdown celebration planned for Sunday’s game at Houston, if he had actually managed to, you know, score a touchdown.Too bad the Bengals get into the end zone about as often as Sarah Palin holds a press conference.
Per a league source, Johnson had a Barack Obama banner stashed in each end zone, which he planned to retrieve and unfurl if he had scored.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
For only the second time in history, the Philadelphia Phillies are World Champions. I let my daughter stay up to watch the game, and she sat with Mrs. S during the ninth inning while I talked on the phone with my father and brother, who had set up a conference call.
Brad Lidge, the Phillies closer, got the final out, a swinging strikeout, just like Tug McGraw did the only other time the Phillies won the title, in 1980. And, like McGraw in 1980, he did it with the tying run on base.
Last night was the resumption of a game suspended in the middle of the sixth inning Monday due to weather, but with all the anxiety and emotion, those three innings felt like nine. As I said to a friend earlier in the day, "If you're a fan of the chess match, this is the game for you."
Because the first five and a half innings produced a tie, other than the player already removed from the game (pitcher Scott Kasmir), they meant nothing. This was essentially an abbreviated game, with the World Series on the line. Every pitch takes on added significance in the postseason, but when one third of a game can determine the outcome of the World Series, that significance is tripled.
When Rocco Baldelli hit a home run in the top of the seventh, my stomach twisted itself into tense knots as I sagged on the couch. A single by the number-eight hitter, Jason Bartlett, didn't help. Two batters later, Akinori Imawura hit a bouncer into the no-man's land behind the mound. Chase Utley wisely didn't attempt to throw out the speedy leadoff hitter and caught Bartlett trying to steal a run.
It was the kind of play that that steals momentum. The Rays had tied the game and nearly taken the lead, but the Phillies took the momentum with them back to the first-base dugout.
Still, when Susie called in the bottom of the seventh, I was too anxious to take the call. The situation demanded my full attention.
Fortunately, Pat Burrell saved his only World Series hit -- a home run that the wind turned into a triple that he legged into a double -- for when the Phils really needed it. One productive out later, one of Chad Bradford's submarine pithces surfaced about belt high, and Pedro Feliz singled home pinch runner Eric Bruntlett. My stomach settled.
But the relief was brief because J.C. Romero, who was left in to hit in the seventh, fell behind in the count and then gave up a leadoff single to Carl Crawford. The double-play grounder off the bat of B.J. Upton did more for my stomach than Rolaids ever could. I knew we were one out away from Lidge. The title was in sight.
But nothing comes easy for the teams I root for, and Lidge left a slider up a little too much, and Dioner Navarro turned it into a broken-bat single. The tying run was on with one out. Soon after I said that the runner can't be allowed to steal, pinch runner Fernando Perez stole second. Then Ben Zobrist hit a soft liner to right that hung up long enough for Jason Werth to catch.
It was the last anxious moment of the game.
When Carlos Ruiz squeezed Lidge's last slider of the season, I yelled "Yeah!" and watched the pileup of red pinstripes in front of the mound. It was a celebration that nobody in that familiar uniform had participated in for 28 years, one that I hadn't seen since I was in grade school.
I could hardly believe that I was watching the Phillies celebrate a World Series title. It wasn't as unbelievable as when the Sox finally won it all in 2004, because I had seen the Phillies do it once before, and the Sox were never supposed to win. There was a whole industry built around their futility, libraries full of books by people congratulating themselves for sticking with such an apparently star-crossed franchise.
But I didn't grow up with any of that shit. I was thrilled when the Sox finally won and I celebrated their titles, but I was raised on the Phillies, teams that were good but not quite good enough until they won it all in 1980. By the mid 80s, they were just an average team. By the late 80s, they sucked. And they kept on sucking through the 90s, save for 1993. The tributes to the 1980 team and to the best players from the past that the team did every so often to attract fans to the ballpark were nice at first but soon became pathetic reminders that there was no other reason to go to the ballpark, and that current teams and players were unlikely to be honored this way.
Well, Phillies fans don't have to live in the past anymore. The Phillies are World Champions.
Entire generations of Phillies and Red Sox fans never got to see their teams win a title. I am blessed that I got to see each team win two titles, and that I got to share those titles with my family.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Taking their integrity and going home
Things just keep getting better for the McCain campaign.
Some three dozen workers at a telemarketing call center in Indiana walked off the job rather than read an incendiary McCain campaign script attacking Barack Obama, according to two workers at the center and one of their parents.This must have suprised the McCain camp, as unaccustomed as they are to encountering people with integrity who aren't willing to say just anything in exchange for money. Where are Nancy Pfotenhauer, Tucker Bounds and Sean Hannity when you need them?
Nina Williams, a stay-at-home mom in Lake County, Indiana, tells us that her daughter recently called her from her job at the center, upset that she had been asked to read a script attacking Obama for being "dangerously weak on crime," "coddling criminals," and for voting against "protecting children from danger."
Williams' daughter told her that up to 40 of her co-workers had refused to read the script, and had left the call center after supervisors told them that they would have to either read the call or leave, Williams says. The call center is called Americall, and it's located in Hobart, IN.
"They walked out," Williams says of her daughter and her co-workers, adding that they weren't fired but willingly sacrificed pay rather than read the lines. "They were told [by supervisors], `If you all leave, you're not gonna get paid for the rest of the day."
The daughter, who wanted her name withheld fearing retribution from her employer, confirmed the story to us. "It was like at least 40 people," the daughter said. "People thought the script was nasty and they didn't wanna read it."
Labels: Election follies
Something in the air
Enemies of democracy
The people responsible for this, and the people who benefit from it.
A phony State Board of Elections flier advising Republicans to vote on Nov. 4 and Democrats on Nov. 5 is being circulated in several Hampton Roads localities, according to state elections officials.This tactic isn't new, but every time it happens, it reveals Republicans as the enemies of Democracy that they are. Republicans do things like this for the same reason they vilify organizations like ACORN: They have no interest in the will of the people or in seeing that all Americans have a voice in the democratic process. They would rather suppress the voices of people who don't support them in order to protect their own positions of wealth, power and privilege.
In fact, Election Day, for voters of all political stripes, remains Nov. 4.
The somewhat official-looking flier - it features the state board logo and the state seal - is dated Oct. 24 and indicates that "an emergency session of the General Assembly has adopted the follwing (sic) emergency regulations to ease the load on local electorial (sic) precincts and ensure a fair electorial process."
The four-paragraph flier concludes with: "We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause but felt this was the only way to ensure fairness to the complete electorial process."
No emergency action has been taken by the General Assembly. It is not in session and lacks the authority to change the date of a federal election.
State Board of Election officials today said they are aware of the flier but disavowed any connection to it.
"It's not even on our letterhead; they just copied the logo from our Web site," said agency staffer Ryan Enright, noting the flier has been forwarded to State Police for investigation as a possible incident of voter intimidation.
And that folks, is fascism.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I've already explained that I'm rooting for the Phillies in the Series, and would have been even if the Sox made it too. The Phillies are my first team, and the only reason I became a Sox fan was because rooting for an American League team presented no conflict of interest (this, of course, was in the days before the novelty of interleague play).
Phillies fans have suffered as long and hard as have fans of any other professional sports franchise. Of the original teams in the National League, the Phillies have won the fewest World Series titles--just one, in 1980, their 97th season. The Phillies are the first team in any of the four so-called major sports to reach 10,000 losses, but nobody romanticizes the suffering of the Phillie fan the way they do for Cubs fans and, until 2004, Sox fans. The Phillies weren't lovable losers struggling admirably with curses of the Babe or a billygoat or any other forces that lend themselves to elegant writing in sports columns. They just sucked, for a really, really long time. It takes just as much character and commitment to stick with the Phillies as it does to stick with the Cubs and, until recently, the Sox, if not more. (Let's face it, Wrigley and Fenway make those commitments easier. Nobody's waxing poetic about Veterans Stadium.)
So I am rooting hard for my first love, and not because the Rays are the rotten swine who sent the Sox home for the winter. That's irrelevant. I'm rooting for the Phillies for all the times my parents treated my brother and me to a day at the Vet; for my first game, when my legs were sunburned as I sat with my father, watching Phil Niekro shut out the Phillies 4-0; and for the time my parents let me skip school to go to Opening Day with a friend. In those days you could bring coolers into the park, and our parents made sure we had enough rations to last 100 innings. I'm rooting for the Phils for all the memories I have of Philadelphia baseball.
McCain responds to John Murtha's "There's no question Western Pennsylvania is a racist area" gaffe with a gaffe of his own.
Something tells me that the campaign's attempt to stick Murtha's comment to Obama will be less than successful.
Having a marble-mouthed idiot in the White House for the last eight years makes me less than enthusiastic about a candidate who makes mistakes like this.
Well, that and the foreign policy. And the tax proposal. And the healthcare proposal. And the race-baiting on the campaign trail. And the VP nominee.
Labels: Election follies
The truth about ACORN
Here are a couple of facts that Republicans leave out of their smears of ACORN:
Most states require voter-registration organizations to submit every registration form they collect, even ones that bear the name Mickey Mouse. To not do so could constitute voter suppression.
Two weeks ago, ACORN explained in a statement, "As part of our nonpartisan voter registration program, we have reviewed all the applications submitted by our canvassers. When we have identified suspicious applications, we have separated them out and flagged them for election officials. We have zero tolerance for fraudulent registrations. We immediately dismiss employees we suspect of submitting fraudulent registrations."
Organizations that are trying to commit fraud usually don't tip off investigators. ACORN tries to help out local officials by identifying for them registrations that the organization considers suspicious, and Republicans twist that into "ACORN is trying to commit voter fraud!"
While we're talking about voter fraud, the Republican talking point that ACORN is responsible for voter fraud because a few of the people the group hired to help register voters submitted a few fake registrations is typical GOP bullshit, because voter fraud doesn't happen until someone actually shows up at the polls and tries to cast a fraudulent vote. And that, of course, hasn't happened.
The truth is that conservatives don't like groups like ACORN because these groups help minorities and poor people register to vote. And minorities and the poor generally do not vote for conservative candidates because conservatives don't represent their interests. So, essentially, conservatives have no interest in strengthening the backbone of democracy: improving efforts to register Americans to vote. Talk about having anti-American views--another bullshit charge that Republicans, including the McCain campaign, are leveling at their opponents. And so much for that "country first" lie.
UPDATE: Speaking of voter registration fraud...
John McCain paid $175,000 of campaign money to a Republican operative accused of massive voter registration fraud in several states, it has emerged.A useful rule of thumb is that if Republicans are accusing others of something, there's a very good chance that they are doing that very thing themselves. Right Newt?
As the McCain camp attempts to tie Barack Obama to claims of registration irregularities by the activist group ACORN, campaign finance records detailing the payment to the firm of Nathan Sproul, investigated several times for fraud, threatens to derail that argument.
The documents show that a joint committee of the McCain-Palin campaign, the Republican National Committee and the California Republican Party, made the payment to Lincoln Strategy, of which Mr Sproul is the managing partner, for the purposes of “voter registration”.
Mr Sproul has been investigated on numerous occasions for preventing Democrats from voting, destroying registration forms and leading efforts to get Ralph Nader on ballots to leach the Democratic vote.
In October last year, the House Judiciary Committee wrote to the Attorney General requesting answers regarding a number of allegations against Mr Sproul’s firm, then known as Sproul and Associates. It referred to evidence that ahead of the 2004 national elections, the firm trained staff only to register Republican voters and destroyed any other registration cards, citing affidavits from former staff members and investigations by television news programmes.
One former worker testified that “fooling people was key to the job” and that “canvassers were told to act as if they were non-partisan, to hide that they were working for the RNC, especially if approached by the media,” according to the committee’s letter.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
What I'm listening to
Friday, October 17, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Click here to calculate how the Obama/Biden tax plan will affect you. The calculator also allows you to compare the results with those of the McCain/Palin tax plan.
Or you could just take John McCain’s word for it when he claims “that one” wants to raise your taxes.
This calculator is a good idea, and just might sway a few undecideds when they see the numbers for themselves.
While we’re having such a friendly chat about taxes, I’m so sick of politicians treating taxes like they are the greatest evil ever to darken the planet. Do you like competent teachers? A fully staffed and equipped police force? Fire department? Roads in good repair? Bridges that don’t collapse? A safety net for workers who lose their jobs (which is especially useful these days)? Then you don’t exactly hate taxes.
But what else besides the Frankenstein view of “taxes bad” does the Republican party have to run on? It’s spiel about deregulation isn’t very convincing these days, and the party’s domestic and foreign policy records speak for themselves.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Philadelphia Flyers fans give Sarah Palin the reception she deserves for spewing so much hatred on the campaign trail.
Even the blaring of inspiring, quasi-patriotic music couldn’t drown out the disdain.
One would think that such a reception would be expected in a heavily Democratic town like Philly. But the Flyers are not an inexpensive ticket, and a typical Flyers crowd comprises many more well-heeled suburbanites from Montgomery and (the aptly named) Bucks counties than city-dwelling Joe Sixpacks.
So this reception is not good news for McCain/Palin in Pennsylvania, which is considered a key battleground state, even though Barak Obama is opening up a healthy lead there. Flyers owner Ed Snider did the GOP no favors last night.
On a personal note, this fills this Philly boy’s heart with civic pride.
And, while we’re on the subject, it appears entirely possible, if not likely, that the Phillies and the Red Sox will meet in the World Series. For the record, if that happens, I am rooting for the Phillies. The Red Sox have won two of the last four World Series, and the Phillies have won a total of one in 125 years. I’m sympathetic to Cubs fans, but quit your whining: The Cubs have been to twice as many Series as the Phils, and have twice as many titles. Two may not be many, but they’re more.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Friday Afternoon Music Club
If you were expecting the White House to come to your rescue the same way it did for Wall Street, you can forget it. The White House’s solution for unemployment: Get a job.
Do you think George Bush wonders why so many Americans suddenly got so lazy and refuse to work?
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
The phrase “What the fuck?” is perhaps overused in times such as these, but given all the efficiencies and improved services privatization created in Iraq, what else is there to say about this?
The Treasury Department this week plans to start outsourcing the management of up to $700 billion in troubled securities, using special contracting authorities that enable it to retain private portfolio managers, custodians and other financial services consultants without following standard acquisition procedures.So the bailout that does nothing about the root of our nation’s economic collapse, mortgage defaults and foreclosures, is going to be orchestrated by the same greedy criminal shitbags who got us into this mess in the first place.
The department's quick turn to the private sector will help it prepare for the massive task of overseeing mortgages and other financial assets to be acquired by the government as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act that was approved by Congress and signed by President Bush on Friday.
But it means that the government has little time to assess the companies that will be partners in what could become one of the largest public-sector funds in American history. Some of the same firms that have played roles in the rise and collapse of the mortgage-backed securities market may end up guiding the government as the bailout unfolds, department officials said.
This is madness. This is a raid of the national treasury. This is a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich grabbing every dime it can steal on its way out the door. This is government by Republicans.
Things are bad, and are going to get much worse.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
How AIG spent your bailout money
More good news from Wall Street.
At today’s Oversight Committee hearing on AIG, the Committee discovered that a week after the government spent $85 billion dollars bailing out AIG, executives went on a retreat at a luxury resort, spending $443,343.71.Don’t act suprised: Stealing is what thieves do.
I’m not optimistic that the other hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money being thrown at Wall Street won’t be pissed away in the same manner. But I am optimistic that when the Very Serious People who enabled the biggest heist in
Friday, October 03, 2008
Friday news dump
More results from the MBA president.
Employers slashed payrolls by 159,000 in September, the most in more than five years, a worrisome sign that the economy is hurtling toward a deep recession.Bush is running government like a business. Unfortunately, that business is Arbusto.
The Labor Department's fresh snapshot, released Friday, also showed that the nation's unemployment rate held steady at 6.1 percent as hundreds of thousands of people streamed out of the work force for any number of reasons.
The reduction in payrolls was much sharper than the 100,000 cuts economists were forecasting. They expected the jobless rate to be unchanged.
It marked the ninth straight month that the economy has lost jobs.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Compare and contrast
A taste of what to expect in tonight’s must-see tee-vee.
And props to Katie Couric, who has been criticized in this space before. Sure, the MSM’s apparent decision that Palin will be tried as an adult makes it easier to challenge her with questions that for anyone else would be softballs, but Couric asked them — and, more importantly, followed up when Palin offered nonanswers. The Palin interview, while giving the nation some good laughs along with the fear that this empty vessel could become president, gave Couric the gravitas she’s been lacking. Nice job.
Palin’s inability to identify a Supreme Court decision she disagrees with in the clip above makes you wonder how heartfelt her comments were in the clip below. The following clip is Palin’s alleged reaction to the Supremes’ ruling lowering punitive damages in the Valdez case, which was just over three months ago.
But I’m sure her handlers have reminded her of this decision after the Couric trainwreck, so that when she’s asked about this tonight, she can briefly imitate an informed person.
Voting in America
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
from someone who has debated Sarah Palin.
I should know. I've debated Governor Palin more than two dozen times. And she's a master, not of facts, figures, or insightful policy recommendations, but at the fine art of the nonanswer, the glittering generality. Against such charms there is little Senator Biden, or anyone, can do.So a clueless mess of a candidate like Sarah Palin succeeds because we, as Americans, don’t demand more of our political leaders. They’re just more glitterati, another celebrity face on TV to entertain us. Dangerous fools like Palin and George Bush, who are full of shit and style but completely devoid of substance, exist becuase of their willingness to lie about anything at any time, of course, but more importantly, because we can’t be bothered to call them on it or hold them accountable. They lie because it works, and they continue to exist because we allow them to.
On paper, of course, the debate appears to be a mismatch.
"Andrew, I watch you at these debates with no notes, no papers, and yet when asked questions, you spout off facts, figures, and policies, and I'm amazed. But then I look out into the audience and I ask myself, 'Does any of this really matter?' " Palin said.
While policy wonks such as Biden might cringe, it seemed to me that Palin was simply vocalizing her strength without realizing it. During the campaign, Palin's knowledge on public policy issues never matured – because it didn't have to. Her ability to fill the debate halls with her presence and her gift of the glittering generality made it possible for her to rely on populism instead of policy.
Of course, since Palin accepted the nomination, I have yet to see anything approaching mastery from her in any utterance or human interaction that isn’t 100 percent scripted. She’s in the bigs now, and the pressure seems to be getting to her.
Labels: Election follies