"It gets late early around here." - Yogi Berra
September 30, 2006
BASEBALL: Starting for the National League
If my math is correct, the National League career record for games started is 677, by Steve Carlton. Greg Maddux started number 673 today, notching his 333rd victory and reaching 15 wins for the 18th time.
Will Maddux return next year? Hard to say. As more than one reader has pointed out to me, I was premature in declaring Maddux done this summer after consecutive months of 1-4 with a 5.94 ERA, 1-4 with a 6.25 ERA, and 2-3 with a 5.21 ERA before reviving with the Dodgers (as an aside, one reason I was skeptical that Maddux would get better in LA was that he had actually pitched much better at Wrigley this year than on the road, so the "get to a better park" theory seemed strained).
Even if he doesn't, you have to ask at this point a question I intend to address in more detail at a later date: whether Maddux is, in fact, the best pitcher in the National League's history, surpassing - when you adjust for the context of his time, including levels of offense as well as the difference in pitcher workloads over time - the National League careers of such luminaries as Carlton, Christy Mathewson, Grover Alexander, Tom Seaver, Warren Spahn, Kid Nichols, John Clarkson, Bob Gibson, and Sandy Koufax.
Already ruled out of the playoffs because of a bad left leg, the three-time Cy Young Award winner will have right rotator cuff surgery next week and won't resume throwing off a mound until June, Mets general manager Omar Minaya said Saturday.
Now, the truth comes out. The Pedro contract was a crucial step towards credibility for the Mets, and put a lot of extra fans in the seats in 2005, but it now looks like they will definitely not get their money's worth on the field.
September 28, 2006
UPDATE: What, you wanted rational analysis? Not being rational right now.
BASEBALL: The Oldest
Alan Schwarz has a nice profile in the NY Times of the oldest living ballplayer, a 111-year-old (born the same year as Babe Ruth) who played in a precursor to the organized Negro Leagues.
BASEBALL: Swimming Upstream
BASEBALL: A Certain Bestseller
Who wouldn't buy the Benny Agbayani story?
September 27, 2006
BASEBALL: 100 Runs, Like Clockwork
The top 4 hitters in the Yankee batting order sure know how to score runs - look at their collective record of 100-run seasons:
Damon: 9 in a row
* - And the other one was a 99-run season
WAR: Pardoning Terrorists
The Clinton legacy. As the author notes, this isn't a question of what wasn't done, but what Clinton went out of his way to do to buy votes.
UPDATE: This link should work.
BASEBALL: The Tides Recede
Soccer Dad has a great post on a subject I hadn't followed at all - apparently the Mets' long affiliation with the Norfolk (formerly Tidewater) Tides is coming to an end, as is the Yankees' affiliation with the Columbus Clippers - the Tides will become an Orioles affiliate, the Clippers a Nationals affiliate, the Mets' new AAA team will likely be the former Milwaukee franchise in New Orleans (the Zephyrs) and the Yankees will apparently take over the Scranton market, being abandoned by the Phillies' affiliate . . . well, go read the whole thing. It's not just the end of an era but the simultaneous end of several eras for different franchises.
Reading between the lines, Norfolk wasn't happy with Omar Minaya's use of the New York-Norfolk shuttle to expand his pitching staff at the expense of the AAA club.
I remember in 1981 during the strike, Channel 11 (then the Yankee station) showed the Clippers games, and they had this amazingly hokey theme song, the hokiness of which can only be partly captured with the lyrics:
Col-um-bus Clippers, our team is Number One!
(Repeat ad nauseum - there must have been more but that's the part I remember).
BASEBALL: Card Star Crashing
I linked last fall to a Baseball Prospectus analysis of the biggest pennant races collapses of all time, ranked by the team's statistical odds of making the postseason. As of September 19, 2006, the Cardinals were estimated by Coolstandings.com to have a 99.9% chance of making the postseason, which if they blow it would tie them with the 1995 Angels for the biggest choke ever.
September 26, 2006
BASEBALL: For Whom It Tolls
I believe we just saw Heath Bell's last appearance in a Mets uniform. It's a shame, I still think with a little patience someone can get a lot out of him.
POLITICS: A (Very) Modest Proposal
Shouldn't Congress bar federal funds from being spent on any project named after a current elected official? I mean, I realize that legislating against the self-interest of the legislators isn't the most likely thing, so maybe let's rephrase that - shouldn't challengers pick up this suggestion? One of the enduring temptations for the Robert C. Byrds of the world, after all, is to seek out federal funds for projects in their states and districts that will be named in their honor. How does this not horrify anyone who even pretends that these folks are guardians of our money? What possible argument could be made, openly, for opposing such a proposal?
BASEBALL: Party Like It's 1964
It remains too early to panic, but Cardinals and A's fans are starting to get that sinking 1964 Phillies pheeling just about now; the A's have lost 3 straight and, despite a magic number of 2 to KO the Angels, have 4 of their last six games against them (the other two against the Mariners) and all six on the road; after a 6-game losing streak, the Cards' lead is down to 2.5 over the long-given-up-for-dead Astros and 3.5 over the Reds, although St. Louis has its final six games at home and four of them against the Brewers after two more against the West-leading Padres.
September 25, 2006
POP CULTURE: Dog Bites Man
The last thing you expect if you hire Keith Richards is for him to show up drunk, right?
LAW: Lawrence of Utah
POLITICS: One Further Random Thought About Bill Clinton's Fox-Bashing Tirade
POLITICS: How Wrong Was Josh Marshall?
Now that it has been revealed that the main source for Bob Novak's column "outing" Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA employee was Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's right-hand man at the State Department and (like Novak) no fan of the Iraq War, with Karl Rove and a CIA spokesman merely confirming what Novak had already been told by Armitage - and that the White House was kept in the dark for many months, at a minimum, about Armitage's role - it is clear that there was never any validity to the notion that Novak's column was the result of some neo-conservative cabal seeking retaliation against Wilson and his wife for Wilson's publication of a NY Times Op-Ed detailing what should have been a classified intelligence-gathering mission to Niger. This "neocon retaliation" theory was, as you will recall, the central and original theory of why the Plame story was a scandal at all, rather than a one-day story of a run-of-the-mill imprudent leak, and not even in the top ten as far as the most damaging leaks of the past five years.
Joe Wilson himself, of course, was the original source of this theory. But I thought it would be instructive to look back at one of the main blogospheric advocates of that theory - Josh Marshall - to get a full sense of how long and hard he pushed this notion, and thus how badly he ended up leading his readers astray. (I may get to look back at some of the other top Plame-ologists of the Left, but Marshall was perhaps the most visible and this post is long enough as it is). In Marshall's case, the conspiracy theory was particularly attractive because it fit in with his broader attack on Vice President Cheney and the "neocon" advisers in the Vice President's office and the Defense Department - indeed, Marshall repeatedly tried to retail a particularly baroque explanation in which the "outing" of Mrs. Wilson was tied to forged documents passed through Italy relating to Niger.
I should start by noting that re-reading Marshall's archives reminds me how slippery he is - he truly is a master of implying things without coming out and saying them. But the sheer volume of his posts on this story has, unsurprisingly, yielded up more than a few instances of Marshall actually saying what he intended his readers to believe:
Read More »
First of all, the volume. Marshall has posted on this story 231 times since July 2003, as of a count I did a few weeks ago - 48 posts in 2003, 59 posts in 2004, 99 posts in 2005, and 25 posts through the end of August 2006. Let's look at the way he pushed this story - not each and every one of these quotes is damning in and of itself, but they give you the overall picture of Marshall's full-throated pursuit of the completely wrong direction on a story to which he devoted enormous efforts:
We know that two senior members of the Bush administration intentionally blew the cover of an undercover CIA officer whose job is combating weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation. And their motivation was pure politics.
To get back at Wilson, they blew the cover of his wife, Valerie Plame, a covert CIA operative specializing in tracking other countries' efforts to acquire WMD.
Whammo! NBC has a late report that the CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether the White House broke federal law by exposing the identity of one of its undercover employees, Valerie Plame, to retaliate against her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson.
The Post got one "senior administration official" to concede that "two top White House officials" disclosed Plame's identity to at least six journalists.
[Quoting the Post story]: "Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official said of the alleged leak.
(OK, this one you need to read at length, not for any particular assertion of fact but just for its hyperventilating tone in detailing an interview of Condi Rice by Brit Hume)
[E]veryone's saying: that the problem centers on the vice president's office. And people are adding a name: Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's chief of staff and close advisor.
[T]he war between the White House and the CIA is the big story. It's the feud from which this law-breaking springs.
I've avoided the rush of Novak-bashing that's swirled around this story. But his stance as a journalist simply trying to report out a story is being rapidly and severely diminished by his desperate effort to advance the agenda of those who leaked to him in the first place, i.e., to smear and discredit the Wilsons.
For the last ten days we've known that two senior administration officials blew the cover of an undercover CIA employee for some mix of retribution and political gamesmanship.
Meanwhile, back in wingerville, the search for the Holy Grail, or rather an innocent explanation of the Plame mess, continues.
Those two "senior administration officials" just finished the job that [Aldrich] Ames --- one of the arch-traitors of American history --- started.
The White House was at war with Joe Wilson. And they were using everything in their arsenal to take him down. The authors of [a Washington Post] piece seem to have spoken to "administration sources" who told them that the motive for naming Plame wasn't retaliation but an effort to destroy Wilson's credibility and thus get reporters to ignore him. That theory of the crime, shall we say, seems to conflict with the account of the administration official who told the Post on he September 28th that the calls were "meant purely and simply for revenge."
All the available evidence points to the conclusion that Novak and his sources knew full well that Plame was a clandestine agent.
[L]ook at these various controversies: possible subpoenas over White House stonewalling of the 9/11 investigation, the multiple investigations of the pre-war intel on Iraq, the criminal investigation into the Plame disclosure.
If the real perps are indicted, the political implications will be obvious and undeniable. And the fall-out will be rapid.
On whether it's possible that the leaker didn't know Plame's status was classified:
[L]et's stop the charade. They're guilty as sin. It's now crystal clear that from the very beginning the folks at the White House have known who did it.
At the moment the discussion is about whether the doers can beat the rap. (Did the person at the White House know she was covert, etc.?)
[T]he basic facts of the matter have been in plain sight from the beginning. And whether an aide to the president is indicted or goes to prison is largely an issue for that particular person.
Democrats at least have the consolation of the Plame investigation, which continues to validate their least generous suspicions about how the Bush White House operates and underscore the president's seeming indifference to recklessness and law-breaking among high-level members of his own staff.
[For defenders of the White House t]heir tactic lately is no longer to deny that some key White House officials tipped columnist Robert Novak off to the fact that Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a covert employee of the CIA. These days, they just say that it wasn't a crime.
No matter how you slice it, top White House officials acted in a way that should disqualify them from future service on the president's staff.
That burn campaign against Joe Wilson got off the ground pretty quickly, didn't it? And the Plame hit came out of the Vice President's office.
On a controversy surrounding Richard Clarke:
This is Plame all over again, just with the lights on -- a kind of behavior -- a mix of pervasive secrecy and the use of state power to punish political enemies -- that is literally a danger to the republic.
Who is Dick Cheney? . . . When challenged, violence seems always to be his preferred method of response, that of first resort --- often a literal sort on the world stage, but with bureaucratic (viz. Plame) and what we might call verbal violence at home.
We don't know that the president knew about the decision to use Plame's work at CIA against Wilson in advance, though given the high-level working group assembled at the White House to go to war with Wilson, it's reasonable to suspect that he did.
Approvingly quoting a reader:
[T]he reason the Republicans were angry with Wilson is that he told the truth. And their preferred method of retaliation was to attack his wife.
Nope, wrong. You could look it up.
« Close It
BLOG: Heads Up
September 24, 2006
BASEBALL: I'm Rolling Thunder, Pourin' Rain
Congratulations to Trevor Hoffman, the new career saves leader.
WAR: Clinton and bin Laden
I'm really not so interested in rehashing, yet again, what Clinton did or did not do to get bin Laden. I've said my piece on that, and I still think blaming Americans in either party for September 11 is deeply misguided. (Although for those who want to head down memory lane, Jake Tapper has a great roundup on Clinton's efforts to blame 1990s Republicans for making the "Wag the Dog" argument, and Patterico looks at Chris Wallace's record asking Don Rumsfeld about this sort of thing).
If Clinton really wants to go on the offensive on this question, all that needs be said is that he didn't get bin Laden and he didn't stop what was coming; history will regard the rest as details.
WAR/BASEBALL: Now This Means War
Could Hugo Chavez' unhinged diatribe at the UN jeopardize Boston's landmark Citgo sign? I sympathize with the sentiment, and frankly I'm avoiding Citgo stations whenever possible, but at this point the sign is a Boston landmark.
September 23, 2006
If there's one thing that worries me more than Pedro's health or Trachsel starting in the postseason, it's Beltran's legs. We saw last year what a difference it makes if he's not 100%, and he hasn't been 100% all September.
POLITICS: Great Moments in Public Education
On the latter, the people who mocked the slippery slope arguments yet again owe Justice Scalia and Senator Santorum an apology:
Emanuel relies heavily on a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Lawrence vs. Texas, that struck down as unconstitutional a state law prohibiting "deviate sexual conduct" between same-sex adults. The nation's highest court in that ruling took note of the "emerging awareness that liberty gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex."
As I said at the time, I hold no brief for anti-sodomy laws, but the erosion of the principle that laws grounded in community moral standards are a rational and permissible basis for democratic lawmaking is a dangerously intrusive and anti-democratic, as well as irredeemably inconsistent with two centuries of constitutional tradition.
BASEBALL: The People vs. Jason Marquis
Following up on my Trachsel vs. Maine post, a reader at Viva el Birdos has compared the game scores for Jason Marquis and Al Reyes. The split isn't quite as dramatic but as with Trachsel, Marquis' real flaw is that he almost entirely dominates the bottom of the chart.
BASEBALL: Some Guys Have All The Luck
And some, like Nick the Stick Johnson, don't. Given the angle of his collision with Austin Kearns today, I thought he had broken a collarbone or perhaps a cheekbone or something; I was surprised when the carted him off with his leg in a splint, and now it's broken. The impact in 2006 is negligible, but in addition to being painful it's discouraging nonetheless to a guy with a terrible injury history. Best of luck to Johnson in making it back in 2007; he really is a tremendous talent with the bat. My take on Johnson in April:
Nick Johnson is entering the "is that all there is" stage of his career, and I no longer expect sustained greatness, but it still would not surprise me to see him rip off one healthy year in the next year or two where he slugs .550 with a .450 OBP and drives in 110 runs.
Well, he got partway there this year - .292/.520/.428 with 46 doubles, 23 HR and 110 walks, resulting in 100 runs scored but just 77 RBI on the flailing Nationals - but I have a feeling we've just seen the best year he's going to have.
WAR: OBL RIH?
I want you to get this **** where he breathes! ...I want him DEAD! I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned to the GROUND! I wanna go there in the middle of the night and I wanna PISS ON HIS ASHES!
- Al Capone, "The Untouchables"
Well, the rumors have been swirling that Osama bin Laden may have shuffled off this mortal coil recently at the tender age of 49 (the age George W. Bush was in his first year as Texas governor), dead of typhoid fever, an illness rarely seen these days in the civilized West but harder to evade or treat when one is cowering in a cave surrounded by primitives and religious fanatics.
Is this true? We have heard such rumors before, and have as yet no confirmation, though Ace considers several reasons why a flurry of recent events would make more sense if bin Laden had died. If it is true, I would have preferred a more violent or more protracted and agonizing death - sorry folks, I take this one very personally - but this will do. Bin Laden has, after September 11, seen his movements restricted, his men decimated, his income throttled, his open allies smashed or cowed, his bases destroyed - and he has never again emerged with a victory to crow about. His one functional ally against the U.S., Zarqawi's organization in Iraq, has been beheaded and essentially run to ground. It is altogether fitting if he has died in obscurity, uncelebrated and unmartyred, felled by an adversary that is microscopic and no threat to his enemies, yet utterly uninterested in fame or ideology, regarding the would-be caliph merely as food.
If it's not true, well, a bin Laden in hiding in a primitive region of the Pakistani-Afghan border isn't all that immediately dangerous, and pursuing him shouldn't be regarded as a substitute for crushing his organization and tearing up his ideology by the roots, but we should be after him implacably nonetheless for the same reason why the Israelis executed Eichmann and pursued Mengele decades after the fall of the Third Reich. If poor hygeine did not get bin Laden, American justice will, sooner or later. We will not forget. And we will laugh last.
LAW: Of Dancing Angels and Heads of Pins
Now, I likes me a good technical argument as much as the next lawyer, but this strikes me as going a bit far. A federal statute says the court can punish as contempt "[m]isbehavior of any person in its presence or so near thereto as to obstruct the administration of justice." A plaintiff (the husband of an ex-con, I should note, suing over a beating at the hands of a fellow inmate) attempted to tamper with a witness, during jury deliberations, in the courthouse cafeteria. The Second Circuit, in its opinion in United States v. Rangolan, reverses her contempt conviction:
Rangolan's misbehavior occurred not in court, but in a cafeteria ten floors below the court room. Unlike jury rooms, witness rooms, or immediately adjacent hallways, the cafeteria is not a place "set apart" for official court business, or for the use of jurors or other trial participants. The juror was not on official business but was simply having breakfast. Moreover, Rangolan's misbehavior took place at 9:15 a.m., before the court was in session. ...
I really fail to see why it is so difficult to conclude that the contempt statute covers jury tampering on federal property, in a cafeteria no juror would ferquent but for the fact that they were at the courthouse on court business. After all, while a determined litigant could visit a juror's home, that takes hard work; approaching the jurors when they are within the courthouse walls is a temptation to the unscrupulous litigant precisely because the inside of the courthouse is "so near" - and the ease of reaching jurors on the grounds of the court itself, when they have appeared on court business, is precisely what makes such tampering uniquely likely "to obstruct the administration of justice."
September 21, 2006
LAW: Real Impeachment News
Law.com has a rundown of the doings at today's House Judiciary Commitee impeachment hearings for Los Angeles US District Judge Manuel Real. (H/T). Howard Bashman also links to a report by a commission chaired by Justice Breyer which found that the Ninth Circuit had failed adequately to investigate the charges against Judge Real (a Lyndon Johnson appointee). Stay tuned.
Libertarian Megan McArdle isn't too happy with a lot of the Bush Administration's moves on detainees and surveillance, but at least she has perspective:
The court in the Libby case rejects Patrick Fitzgerald's argument that the court should weigh the risks of disclosing classified information as part of the process of determining what classified documents are admissible in evidence in the Libby trial. Instead, the court concludes that it is ultimately the Executive Branch's responsibility, not the court's, to decide whether the risks of revealing classified information outweigh the benefits of continuing with the prosecution. The court cites the Fourth Circuit's opinion in the Zacarias Moussaoui case.
Now, Libby - as a man who took an oath as a public servant and was zealous in defense of national security - shouldn't threaten to reveal damaging classified information as a "graymail" tactic against the Government. Then again, if such information is genuinely critical to the ability to give Libby a fair trial, perhaps the prioritization of prosecuting him needs to be re-evaluated. But the citation to the Moussaoui case also reminds us yet again of the fact that the legal system's need to evaluate all the relevant and admissible evidence is one reason why defendants who mean to make war on the nation should not be tried under that system at all.
BASEBALL: Pedro Is In The House
57 pitches through four innings. None of them put in play safely. If you catch my drift.
UPDATE: The Marlins eventually got to Pedro, but an encouraging outing nonetheless. He's getting there.
BASEBALL: Gut Check
We'll see if Pedro is ready for the postseason, but ready or not, he's Pedro; he'll be the #1 starter. And I feel pretty solid right now about Glavine, El Duque and Maine, all things considered. But while (correct me if I'm wrong) there doesn't seem to have been a formal announcement, it seems unlikely that the Mets are going with Maine instead of Steve Trachsel.
The Maine/Trachsel decision is a major test of what Willie Randolph and Omar Minaya are made of. Starting Trachsel, who is the longest-tenured Met and has been in the rotation all year, is the sentimental move, the "he's one of my guys" move, the Joe Torre move. Starting Maine, the better pitcher, is the Casey Stengel move, the John McGraw, Earl Weaver, Connie Mack move. (In 1929, Mack sent his ace, Lefty Grove, to the bullpen because he thought Grove matched up poorly against the Cubs and started the aging Howard Ehmke instead).
Fact: if you look at Trachsel's starts 3 at a time, he has just two, overlapping three-start stretches this season (August 2-13 and August 8-18) where he posted an ERA below 3.44 - while Maine's ERA for the season is 3.42.
You tell me - who's more likely to throw a good or at least an acceptable start in the postseason? And isn't that, not seniority or salary or sentiment, the only question Randolph and Minaya need to be asking?
WAR: Bombs Away, George
Will the U.S. send troops to Pakistan if we can pinpoint bin Laden's location there? Of course, the question assumes we're not already fighting there and don't already at least strongly suspect what general region he's in.
Going openly into Waziristan is diplomatically sensitive, so it's not surprising that it's taken a long time and a protracted dance of demonstrated futility before we go there. But sooner or later it's going to be necessary, and the past few months' events there seem to say sooner.
POLITICS: Don't Mess With Mama
There is, it is true, something creepily anti-Semitic (given the history of what anti-Semitism sounds like) about asking a candidate, in a televised debate, the following:
It has been reported, your grandfather Felix, whom you were given your middle name for, was Jewish. Could you please tell us whether your forebears include Jews and, if so, at which point Jewish identity might have ended?
I mean, wouldn't you expect the next question to be a request for his papers?
For all of that, though, it seems to me that the larger lesson of this flap about the question and George Allen's response, when combined with earlier questions about whether Allen had learned the word "macaca" from his mother, is that you don't mess with a man's mother, ever. I'm guessing that voters in Virginia who watched that debate understood that without having to have the newspapers explain what it all means.
For once, Mike Lupica is right on calling out Jason Giambi for having the gall to criticize anybody (in this case A-Rod). Then again, I didn't realize A-Rod was now playing the race card (hasn't he ever heard of Derek Jeter?). Face it, when people look at A-Rod, the only color they see is green; the man had few energetic detractors in Seattle, and he is hated today almost entirely because of the money he makes. Everything else that gets thrown at him is rationalization for that hatred. But that doesn't make calling his detractors racists is at all justifiable.
POLITICS: Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs
A Republican tidal wave isn't going to emerge from nowhere, but Jim Geraghty sees signs that may point to better tidings by Election Day. This may, as Howard Fineman suggests, be a "dead cat bounce," but falling gas prices in particular are yet again robbing the Democrats of a crucial talking point down the home stretch (as job growth did in 2004).
Geraghty's been right before, of course, with his pep talks in 2004. While I remember 1996 and 1998 quite well, the fact is that the elections of 2002 and 2004 are the only ones that have really been blogged (with the flood of timely information that entails), and that have taken place after September 11. Which means that it may be hard for Republicans like me who saw almost everything break right in those elections to correctly identify the signs of a true strong home stretch versus the dead cat bounces that Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush enjoyed in the late Octobers of their races against Clinton.
BASEBALL: Not Laid Back in SoCal, Part II
Jon Weisman on the Dodgers' comeback against the Padres over the weekend, and on Vin Scully's call of the comeback.
Tom Elia wants to know why Florida Democrats tried to sponsor a screening of a 9/11 conspiracy film. And I didn't know that Rahm Emanuel's brother was Michael Moore's agent.
WAR/POLITICS: Democrats Finally Identify Iraq Policy: Hold Hearings
Because, you know, the one thing we haven't had is a debate about the war.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
"Three years into war, the American people still don't have a clear picture of what's gone wrong in Iraq -- or how to set it right," said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
"We've been going backward for too long," he said.
Democrats said they had invited Republicans to attend the hearings, which will start in Washington on Monday and move across the country in October and November -- before and after the November 7 congressional elections in which control of both houses are at stake.
Reid and other top Democrats told a news conference the current Congress had conducted fewer oversight hearings than previous wartime Congresses. They said lawmakers held 152 days of hearings on the Korean War and 328 days on Vietnam.
A moment of silence, please, for all those who courageously held hearings in past wars. History may little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that chairs a hearing now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
POLITICS: Job Creation, Granholm Style
Cut taxes? Nope. Reduce red tape? Nah. How about building prisons instead of factories:
The prison now could be used for out-of-state prisoners, a Michigan prison population, county prisoners or federal detainees.
The measure is designed to help the local economy by possibly rejuvenating one of the area's largest employers.
Now, there's nothing necessarily wrong with opening prisons - but the state that was once the engine of the world's auto industry deserves better than aspiring to be America's Jailer.
WAR: Sometimes A Hot Dog Is Just A Hot Dog
September 20, 2006
BASEBALL: You Never Can Tell
There are few things more frustrating and uncertain in the game than when a young pitcher - whether or not he appears to be talented - is suddenly going to "get it". Witness the case of Cubs starter Rich Hill. Hill had a 9.13 ERA in 2005 and picked up where he left off (in fact, incredibly, he was even worse) in 2006; entering his start on August 1, his career record stood at 0-6, 9.32. Since then: 6-2, 2.23. And it's been a complete turnaround in every aspect of his pitching line:
Everyone who saw that coming at that precise moment, raise your hands. Time will tell if he keeps this up.
BASEBALL: Extra Bases
After today's game, not only is Luke Scott of the Astros batting .387/.700/.470 in 170 at bats, but per 600 at bats he's producing at a clip for 64 doubles, 21 triples and 28 homers. Zowie.
WAR: Hugo Chavez Joins the Jihad
As always: the best guide to our enemies' intentions is their own words. Take them seriously. Like when Saddam cheered the September 11 attacks. Chavez has the means to cause us great harm, and he has declared himself aligned with those who actively seek to do so. He bears very close watching.
BASEBALL: Not Laid Back in SoCal
BLOG: Quick Links 9/20/06
Yeah, another bunch of links and quick hits, heavy on politics and war.
*First of all, for my own purposes I should note here that as of this week I have been at my law firm for 10 years. A milestone, of a sort.
*This putatively hostile profile of Mitch McConnell makes him sound like the ideal leader for a legislative majority - a guy who's a brilliant master of parliamentary rules and techniques, a workhorse rather than a showhorse who has a keen understanding of how to hold his caucus together and has been an instrumental player in some of Bill Frist's biggest successes. The authors criticize him for not writing "landmark legislation" or taking to the airwaves, but they have to concede that McConnell has done, in his fight against campaign finance regulation, the very thing the Framers most hoped a a Senator would do - wage an unpopular one-man battle against landmark legislation that is simultaneously self-interested (by protecting incumbents) and hostile to our constitutional guarantees of free speech. And as for his partisanship, (1) the authors don't really even pretend that Tom Daschle wasn't an arch-partisan and (2) "bipartisan" legislation is usually a warning to watch your wallet anyway.
*While I share David Frum's frustration that Bush didn't spend more of his UN speech pressing the case against Iran, I thought this passage in the speech was one of the best articulations yet of why the battle against tyranny in the region is so important to the battle against terrorism - as Bush's predecessor would say to himself, "it's the propaganda, stupid":
Imagine what it's like to be a young person living in a country that is not moving toward reform. You're 21 years old, and while your peers in other parts of the world are casting their ballots for the first time, you are powerless to change the course of your government. While your peers in other parts of the world have received educations that prepare them for the opportunities of a global economy, you have been fed propaganda and conspiracy theories that blame others for your country's shortcomings. And everywhere you turn, you hear extremists who tell you that you can escape your misery and regain your dignity through violence and terror and martyrdom. For many across the broader Middle East, this is the dismal choice presented every day.
This is, by the way, a signal difference from the Cold War - the Communist bloc may have fed its citizens propaganda, but at least they were literate and educated, and thus easier to reach with a contrary message. Illiteracy is a particular problem in Egypt and one of the reasons why Egyptian society presents a greater danger than, say, Iraq or Iran of the populace embracing Islamist nutcases if given the vote.
*Links on the continuing saga of the threats of violence against the Pope for implying that Islam preaches violence: was Pope Benedict trying to build pressure for Christians to receive the treatment in Muslim lands that Muslims receive in Christian lands?; the archbishop of Sydney isn't backing down; David Warren on the BBC; and Fr. Neuhaus at First Things has some reflections. More detail on the violence and threats of violence here, here, here and here. Josh Trevino offers trenchant analysis, especially this parallel:
There's an illuminating historical incident from the tenth century that deserves wider dissemination, and that the Pope might have used in lieu of Manuel II Paleologue's quote. That Emperor was the last to enjoy a full reign in a free Empire; but nearly four hundred years before, the Empire was enjoying a resurgence. Manuel II Paleologue ruled barely more than Constantinople itself - but Nikephoros II Fokas ruled from Italy to the Caucasus, and from Bulgaria to Syria. He was a longtime foe of the Muslim Caliphate, and he observed that a signal advantage of the Muslims was their jihad doctrine. The Orthodox Church then - as now - regarded war as a regrettable necessity, with emphasis on the regrettable part, and soldiers returning from war would be made to perform some manner of penance before again receiving communion. By contrast, Nikephoros II Fokas observed that the Muslims who went to war were directly fulfilling the commandments of their faith, and were accordingly more motivated, violent, and relentless. The Emperor decided that the Christians needed a similar spiritual edge, and so he asked the Patriarch Polyeuktos in Constantinople to declare that any Christian who fell in battle was automatically a martyr. In effect, he requested a Christian version of jihad. The Patriarch and the entire Church hierarchy, so often in that era mere tools of Imperial policy, refused. The Emperor was forced to back down, and within a few short centuries, the Empire was overrun by the Muslims.
Trevino also points out something else. While the founder of Christianity was martyred by the State and the Church endured three centuries of persecution from its founding, Islam began as, and has for most of its existence been, the religion of power and the powerful, united with the State. There are examples of Muslims living under both the culturally light yoke of colonialism (in British India and the brief Western mandates over the former Ottoman territories from 1918 until just after WW2) and Communist opression (mainly in Kazakhstan and the other southern republics that left Russia at the collapse of the Soviet Union), but Islam for the most part does not share the heritage of other faiths in surviving separate from and in opposition to the State. None of this suggests that Islam is necessarily or by nature bad or dangerous, but it does underline why Islamic doctrines have been such potent and hard-to-defuse weapons in the hands of actual and would-be tyrants.
*I had hoped to get to the issue of the Senate Intelligence Committee reports on pre-Iraq-War intelligence sooner and in more detail, but I have only thus far had the chance to read parts of the reports. Critics of the reports have been out in full force on the Right - Stephen Hayes says the report glosses over Saddam's history with jihadist extremists, as does Deroy Murdock, Byron York looks at the fact that Chuck Hagel, a Republican on the committee, had a former Kerry campaign staffer on the committee staff, Wizbang has a link here to a piece that appears to rehash some of Hayes' reporting, and here to a CNN report from 1999 (quoted by Hayes in his book) claiming that Saddam offered asylum to bin Laden. Read and judge for yourself - like I said, I haven't had time to digest all of this yet.
"There are some stand-out cases and each of them will test whether this is a 'restrained' Court," said constitutional law scholar Douglas Kmiec of Pepperdine University School of Law, referring to the abortion, affirmative action and punitive damages challenges.
Kmiec concedes that it is "very difficult at first blush" to see why a conservative, restrained court would take the [partial-birth] abortion challenges, since there is no circuit split and there is a recent precedent.
Um, the Executive Branch has asked the Court to reverse lower court rulings that struck down an Act of Congress. I don't care what your judicial philosophy is in deciding a case like that, the Court is almost always going to take a case in those circumstances; it would be a serious dereliction of its institutional role not to.
*A female Supreme Court justice in Yemen? Baby steps.
*Lawrence of India: funny how this statute didn't get mentioned in Justice Kennedy's discussion of international precedents in Lawrence v Texas. Remember, foreign law only counts if it helps one side.
*Correction: Hekmyatar wasn't actually captured.
Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:15 AM | Blog 2006-14 | Law 2006-08 | Politics 2006 | Religion | War 2006 | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
September 19, 2006
BLOG: In Honor of "Talk Like A Pirate Day"
Ahoy! A few thoughts, mateys, from Captain Blood:
Honesty Nuttall: Yes, I think so.
Dr. Peter Blood: Do? We'll board a ship that's not sinking!
BASEBALL: The Hangover
Tonight's Mets starting lineup:
A. Hernandez, SS
This looks like a World War II lineup - the very young, the very old, and the lame.
UPDATE: That is, if you're keeping score at home, a career .099 hitter leading off, a 21-year-old batting third, a 48-year-old man making his first start at third base in 24 years batting cleanup, a .208 hitter batting sixth, and three other guys who were basically picked off the scrap heap. Yet Anderson Hernandez homers, and the Mets at last check trail just 2-1.
Here is the box score from Julio Franco's last start at 3B. Starting pitchers: Marty Bystrom and Scott Holman. Pete Rose played in the game, as did Rusty Staub and the late Bo Diaz. George Foster stole a base. It was the last major league appearance for Stan Bahnsen and Willie Montanez. Five players in tonight's starting lineups hadn't been born yet (Hernandez, Milledge, Miguel Cabrera, Scott Olsen and Hanley Ramirez), and Marlins manager Joe Girardi was still four years away from being drafted by the Cubs.
SECOND UPDATE: And the Mets win with that lineup, 3-2, thus driving that fork deeper into a Marlins team that has imploded over the past week or so and miraculously salvaging Tom Glavine's 289th win.
WAR: Two Down, Sixteen to Go
The second of Iraq's 18 provinces is ready for the full transfer of responsibility for security, the last step in the process that began with the transfer of civil sovereignty in June 2004 and has continued through two elections, a new constitution and the formation of a representative government:
With all its history in tow, Dhi Qar province in southern Iraq is looking toward the future. It's scheduled later this month to become the second of Iraq's 18 provinces to be transferred to provincial Iraqi control.
Note, by the way, that the Coalition and the al-Maliki government do have an aspirational timetable for this process; it's just not a cast-in-stone deadline for the removal of Coalition forces. This is the result of the "unilateral" effort in Iraq:
The responsibility for getting Dhi Qar ready to transfer has been shouldered mostly by members of the Italian contingent there, led by Brig. Gen. Carmine De Pascale, commander of the Italian Joint Task Force – Iraq.
Naturally, and logically, the two provinces selected to go first are the easiest nuts to crack, the rural equivalent of our "red states" - Baghdad, conspicuously, remains in need of pacification - but as has been true of Iraq all along, the further we get down the road, the more momentum works in our favor.
September 18, 2006
BASEBALL: National League East Champions
New York Mets. Mmmmmm, that feels good. It's been a long 18 years.
BASEBALL: Line of the Night
Howie Rose on the Devil Rays: "They're playing out the decade."
WAR: Isikoff Tortured Meaning of Gonzales Memo on Detainees
Patterico has the goods. Oh, does he ever.
LAW: Patent Trolling
It's an arcane issue, but the General Counsel of Sun Microsystems has a good post explaining the dangers of patent trolling to companies that do genuine innovation, especially in high-tech, and discussing proposed legislative solutions. Of course, big corporations are also not innocent of abusing patent litigation, nor are they entirely innocent of stealing other people's ideas, but the overall problem of strike suits is nonetheless a serious one.
It's also an issue that supports Wall Street Journal columnist Holman Jenkins' theory that the influence of money in politics can be a good thing - there just aren't that many votes to be had in fixing a complex business problem like patent litigation reform, and there's a lot of hard labor involved in understanding the issue, drafting reasonable legislation and pushing it through the laborious legislative process. But a fix is both good public policy and - let's face it - likely to generate a lot of interest from contributors. You don't have to be a public choice scholar to understand why an issue like this gets Congress' attention, and why it would never hope to get Congress' attention if campaigns were publicly financed. And that would be a bad thing. Because, at the end of the day, legislators shouldn't live in isolation of the economic facts of life that affect their constituents.
SCIENCE: Land Shark!
Well, OK, walking shark, anyhow.
BASEBALL: Head to Head
My latest defeats in head to head fantasy baseball leagues have me re-thinking my strategy. For those of you who do fantasy baseball, read on.
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This season I did three leagues - my usual AL auction league (in which I'm currently hovering in 5th place hoping for 1 or 2 of the in-the-money teams to run short of the innings requirement) and two Yahoo-based 5x5 (Runs and Ks included) NL/AL head-to-head leagues. As usual in such leagues I ran in first most of the season in one league, a close second in the other, powered by a pitching staff deep in power pitchers, especially young power pitchers - my rosters as drafted are here, plus I picked up Francisco Liriano in each league when teams dropped him in late April having given up on him entering the rotation.
And, as has happened to me repeatedly now, I lost in the 1-week first round of the playoffs, and in significant part (at least in one league) due to my young power pitchers wearing out by mid-September - Liriano's down, Kazmir's done for the season, Zambrano was iffy and missed a start, Bonderman just won this week for the first time in six weeks and I had him and Zambrano on the bench out of concern for where they'd been in the weeks leading up to this one.
Which has me wondering if starting pitching is - despite its advantages in the head to head format, where it affects 4 of 5 pitching categories - a poor strategy because of the need to have players who are playing at maximum capacity in mid to late September.
« Close It
BASEBALL: Deja Delay
September 11, 1986: Mets lead the Phillies by 22 games with 23 to play, entering a 3-game set in Philly. Magic Number: 1 to clinch a tie, 2 to clinch outright. One win will lock it up. (Personally, I'm bummed because I'm on a religious retreat all weekend with no TV or radio). Mets get swept in Philadelphia and split two in St. Louis while the Phillies win two more against the Pirates, dropping the Mets' lead to 18.
Yeah, this is like that. Of course, the first chance the Mets got to put the race to bed at home, they beat the Cubs and that was that.
Mets play at home tonight.
POLITICS: The Coming Democratic Takeover
Or not, perhaps. I still think the most likely outcome is one that will disappoint all sides, with both parties losing some close and apparently winnable races and the GOP returning narrowed majorities in both Houses. How damaging that will be to the Republicans depends in large part on which races we lose - Lincoln Chaffee, for example, almost never comes through on close votes of significance, whereas people like Santorum and Talent always do (a similar dynamic exists in the House).
September 15, 2006
POLITICS: Blame The Dead Guy
When I first wrote about Bob Menendez' ethical troubles (at least the ones that are currently under federal investigation, his receipt of $3,000/month in rental income from a community group while he was working in Congress to get them millions in federal grants), I figured it was only fair to quote his explanation, claiming that "[t]his transaction was already approved by the House Ethics Committee".
Well, well, well. It turns out that alibi is shakier than I could have imagined, which goes a ways to explaining why this is under investigation. Menendez claims not that the House Ethics Committee had approved the deal, but one staff lawyer for the committee, and there is apparently no documentary evidence of the approval. And the staffer:
Menendez said he sought and received verbal approval for the transaction from Mark Davis, an ethics lawyer with the House ethics committee, in 1994, when he was a U.S. congressman. However, an obituary for Davis in a Capitol Hill publication says he left the committee in 1993 and died last October.
Isn't that convenient?
HISTORY: The First African Americans
The Washington Post looks back at America's first slaves, the bounty of a Portuguese slave ship seized by the British on the high seas and brought to Jamestown, Virginia.
The involvement of the Portuguese is a reminder of the fact that the U.S. was hardly the only slaveowning country in the Western Hemisphere. Simon Bolivar was a slaveholder, if (like a number of America's Founding Fathers) one who recognized the evils of slavery and promised to do something about it, but never did. Slavery wasn't abolished in the Bolivarian states in northern South America until 1854, Cuba in 1886, Brazil in 1888.
WAR: Pictures Lie - Frank Rich Helps
Slate has the details. Of course, Frank Rich being wrong about everything is the classic dog-bites-man story.
WAR/RELIGION: The Pope and the Jihadis
Everyone who complains about the Pope's quotation should first be asked: is it, or is it not true, that Islam commands that the faith be spread by the sword? Anyone who doesn't explicitly and unequivocally renounce that doctine should not be listened to.
A couple more random thoughts:
*Frankly, if it is controversial for the Pope to speak negatively about another faith, we're in trouble. As a matter of earthly politics, we expect our religious leaders to espouse tolerance; as a political strategy, it is sometimes prudent for people of many faiths to form alliances within free societies against secularists. But as a matter of propagating the faith - the first duty of the clergy - of course, the Pope is entitled to explain why another faith is false prophecy and leads to ill.
*If these guys take a shot at the Pope, they will have enemies they have not previously dreamt of.
BASEBALL: Best in the Business
How far does the best record in baseball get you in the playoffs? Not far.
POLITICS: Rightroots Rattles the Cup
POLITICS/WAR: Staying in the Back Seat
Now, I'm not one to put a lot of stock in anonymous quotes that are against the speaker's interest and fit perfectly into the reporter's storyline (much less declare myself a member of a movement built around such a quote), but Chuck Todd in the Atlantic Monthly ($), in explaining why some strategists in each party are hoping not to win a majority in the Congress in 2006, has a quote from "[o]ne Democratic Senate staffer" that so perfectly captures the Democratic attitude that it hardly matters if it's a real quote or not:
(Emphasis in original). Yes, and it's easier to be "tough and strong" or "tough but smart" or "strong at home and respected abroad" or whatever the latest slogan is, than to take responsibility for getting the job done.
WAR: Japan is Serious
One of the more surprising allies to stick by the U.S. through thick and thin since September 11 and to take its own increasingly tough stance on terrorism is Japan under Prime Minister Koziumi. We see another sign of that toughness as Japan's Supreme Court rejects the last appeal of Aum Shinrikyo founder Shoko Asahara, who masterminded the nerve gas attack on Japan's subways in 1995, and Japan prepares to hang him.
The Atlanta Braves put third baseman Chipper Jones on the 15-day disabled list Thursday night so their insurance company will pay a portion of his $13.6 million salary.
General manager John Schuerholz insisted the 1999 NL MVP could return early next week.
I don't know the details of the Braves' policy on Chipper, but seems to me that if he's not that seriously hurt and the Braves are admitting to DL-ing him just to collect insurance, the carrier may have grounds to refuse to pay.
September 14, 2006
BASEBALL: Good News for Giants Fans
Armando Benitez done for the season. It would have been too good to be true to face teams with both Benitez and Braden Looper as their closers in the playoffs.
UPDATE: And more good, actual, genuine news: counting today's 8 shutout innings against the Rockies, Matt Cain is now 7-3 with a 2.21 ERA since the All-Star Break. In 81.1 IP he's allowed just 52 hits and 5 HR, walked 31 and struck out 83. A star is born.
BASEBALL: Breakfast With The "Pennant" Race
What a wake up for Padre fans - the Pads and the Reds are on at 12:35 EDT today, which is 9:35 in the morning in San Diego.
No starting lineups yet but I'm guessing that Piazza, who caught last night, will not be catching.
UPDATE: He didn't. Padres win, 4-2, Pads lead the Phillies by 2 games, and Trevor Hoffman gets his 474th save, 4 off the record. Hoffman will have an interesting Hall of Fame case - thus far, the pure closers to go on the ballot (i.e., mainly 1-inning pitchers, not heavy-workload aces like Fingers, Sutter, Wilhelm or Gossage or half-career starters like Eck) have had short careers (Henke) or not really been all that dominant for more than a year or two of their careers (Reardon, Lee Smith, Aguilera). And Mariano Rivera is sui generis because of his postseason accomplishments. Hoffman will test whether a guy who's a genuinely outstanding (2.70 career ERA and almost 90% save conversion rate) closer over a long career can be taken seriously as a Hall of Famer despite never having thrown 100 innings or won 10 games in a season.
BASEBALL: Youth Will Not Be Served
It really was not much of a surprise to see the Marlins' defense come utterly unglued last night in the 11th inning of a game that - with the Padres winning and the Phillies handing the Braves another doubleheader sweep - they really needed to win. Like it or not, that's what usually happens to teams with a lot of young position players. Florida isn't done yet but the Marlins are now three games back and fourth in a five-team wild card race (I'm assuming the Astros are toast at 4.5 back), and while they still get to play the Phillies six times and the Reds three, they are done with the leader, San Diego, as well as with the Giants.
While we're at it, let's look at the remaining schedules of the five NL teams by two measurements - the average winning percentage of the teams they have left on their schedule (weighted by number of games) and the number of games remaining against the other four:
The biggest problem here for the other teams is that after today's Padres-Reds game, the Pads have no more games left against the other contenders, and thus nobody can make them come back to the pack. The Marlins, with 4 games remaining against the Mets and 6 against the Phillies, have by far the hardest road, and last year's victory for the Astros reminded us of the value of a soft September schedule in a multi-team wild card race. The Giants, oddly, are the only NL team that will not play any of the wild card contenders the rest of the way.
WAR: Hamo, Hamas, Hamat
Fatah - corrupt and terrorist-friendly - regaining the upper hand isn't good news either, but if nothing else the Palestinians have been focused more on going at each other lately instead of Israelis.
BASEBALL: Hudson's Decline
What ails Tim Hudson? Yesterday's loss drops Hudson, once a premier pitcher, to 12-11 with a 4.95 ERA. Let's start by updating a chart I did at the end of the 2004 season of the major components of Hudson's game:
I noted in 2004 that Hudson had been plagued by a declining strikeout rate but had coped by relentlessly improving every other facet of his game. While the relatively low K rate compared to his early years may still signal a problem, Hudson has arrested that decline; the problem now is that all of his coping mechanisms have eroded or entirely unravelled - his remarkable control, his high groundball rate and low HR rate, his ability to strangle the running game and thus set up the double play. Of course, I strongly suspect that the hand of a declining Atlanta defense is at work in several of these. (As to balls in play, the Hardball Times notes that Hudson gets outs on 70% of balls in play, about average, and gives Hudson a fielding independent ERA of 4.43 or 4.14 (depending if you use the FIP or xFIP metric - the latter is more favorable because it assumes that luck is responsible for the fact that Hudson allows the highest percentage of home runs per fly ball of any pitcher in the National League)).
Another trouble sign I noted in 2004 was Hudson's difficulty with lefthanded hitters, who batted .298/.422/.352 against Hudson in 2004; it's only gotten worse, as this year, they're hitting .283/.505/.353.
A better defense and the confidence to throw more strikes might help Hudson, although if his problems with the running game can be ascribed to Brian McCann, he's stuck; McCann is the National League's best catcher and young, so he's not going anywhere. His HR rate probably will go down a bit on its own, but his troubles with lefthanded hitters may require him to take a new approach, something the intelligent and adaptable Hudson has shown the ability to do in the past. I expect Hudson to rebound a bit next year - there's nothing in his record that signals an imminent collapse to Russ Ortiz country - but his days as an elite pitcher are most likely behind him.
September 13, 2006
BASEBALL: Perfect Through 7
Freddy Garcia's got through 7 innings and the Angels have no baserunners. He just got Guerrero to ground out to end the 7th, so he could finish this without having to face Vlad again.
UPDATE: 4 outs to go.
3-2 to Adam Kennedy. Kennedy singles.
BASEBALL: A Short Return
Francisco Liriano came out of his return start today after just 28 pitches and 2 scoreless innings, escorted by the trainer. Not sure what's up but the news can't be good.
UPDATE: As always, Pinto has more.
BLOG: Quick Links 9/13/06
Sorry I've been a little short on baseball content the past week. That was certainly one crushing loss for the Marlins last night. Anyway, on to some links:
*My initial reaction to the news that Pakistan was effectively conceding its lack of sovereignty over the mountainous, tribal, Taliban/Al Qaeda-infested Waziristan region on the Afghan border (more here and here) was that the last grounds for pretending that Pakistan, and not the U.S., was responsible for cleaning out this hornet's nest was gone, and that we would need to brace for a bloody invasion that would inevitably (given the terrain and hostile locals) require heavy U.S. casualties and massive civilian deaths, given that the only really feasible approaches to the warren of hills and valleys are (1) go in single file like sitting ducks or (2) bomb the place back to the Stone Age, Curtis LeMay style. Ed Morrissey and McQ were more guardedly optimistic - after all, Musharraf was also simultaneously working out an agreement with Hamid Karzai to take a joint approach to rooting out the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the border regions, and if there's one thing we know about Pakistan it's that an awful lot has gone on there the past five years that has never been made public. I remain skeptical, but as Bill Roggio reports that the Taliban has already violated the agreements with Pakistan (surprise!) while the accord with Karzai was followed very rapidly by the capture of troublesome Afghan warlord and sometime Taliban ally Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, it is possible that progress is actually being made in the region that is still the most likely haven of bin Laden and Zawahiri. Stay tuned.
*Here in NY, the dominant story in the media lately has been the illnesses (mainly respiratory problems, although class action lawyers have been trying to squeeze the square peg of unrelated ailments into the same hole) suffered by Ground Zero rescue/cleanup workers. The Daily News on Saturday had an interesting article on how dogs at the rescue site have not suffered comparable illnesses despite working long hours at the site without any protective gear. The obvious physiological differences between people and dogs are noted, but it seems to me there are two further issues that probably exacerbate the difference. One is behavioral: some of the people who labored long and hard at Ground Zero may be smokers, and smokers are always at greater risk for other respiratory problems (a fact examined at exhaustive length in studies of asbestos). The other is psychological: if people expect to get sick, they may be more vulnerable. Dogs didn't expect to get sick. (I'm not trying to blame people who got sick, mind you; just saying that the interaction between the mind and illnesses of the body remains poorly understood).
*Excellent point by Orin Kerr (via Instapundit): despite the great hue and cry over the NSA surveillance program, the actual footprint of War on Terror legislation and executive actions on civil liberties has been much narrower than a lot of people expected five years ago.
*John Hawkins runs down the GOP's best chances to gain Democrat-held House seats. Many of them are not great pickup odds right now, but are still within striking distance. As in the Senate, I think Republicans will have to make a few gains to hold the chamber given the likelihood of losing Republican-held seats.
*Of course, Democrats oppose voter ID that would make fraud more difficult. I wonder, given the specific issue discussed here, whether there is some sovereignty-based grounds for exempting the Navajo.
*Make Afghanistan the new Iowa? Can you really grow good corn crops there?
*I've been stunned to see recent reports that Dunkin Donuts wants to expand nationally - I always thought they were every bit as national and synonymous with donuts as McDonalds with burgers and Kentucky Fried Chicken with fast food chicken.
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*Peggy Noonan in 1998 (via Instapundit):
Something's up. And deep down, where the body meets the soul, we are fearful. We fear, down so deep it hasn't even risen to the point of articulation, that with all our comforts and amusements, with all our toys and bells and whistles . . . we wonder if what we really have is . . . a first-class stateroom on the Titanic. Everything's wonderful, but a world is ending and we sense it.
We must take the time to do some things. We must press government officials to face the big, terrible thing. They know it could happen tomorrow; they just haven't focused on it because there's no Armageddon constituency. We should press for more from our foreign intelligence and our defense systems, and press local, state, and federal leaders to become more serious about civil defense and emergency management.
Prescient, but like so many others in our politics and punditry who looked at the terrorism issue in that age, Noonan didn't act as if she thought it was coming, didn't make this her sole issue and pound the table until something was done. Hey, I didn't either. Some were more at fault than others, yes, but we all failed.
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September 12, 2006
LAW: Sixth Circuit Rejects EEOC's Weight Discrimination Theory
Few if any areas of the law are more in need of Congressional reform than our employment discrimination laws, which are invoked with monotonous regularity by people who have done any number of things to earn getting fired or passed over for promotion. Thankfully, some of the worst abuses can be curbed simply by having judges apply a little common sense. Consider today's opinion in EEOC v. Watkins Motor Lines, No. 05-3218 (6th Cir. Sept. 12, 2006) (H/T Bashman).
The EEOC - which, last I checked, was part of the Bush Administration - brought an Americans with Disabilities Act case against a trucking company on behalf of one Stephen Grindle:
In August 1990, Stephen Grindle . . . was hired by the defendant, Watkins Motor Lines . . . , as a Driver/Dock Worker. Approximately 65% of his time was spent performing dock work including loading, unloading, and arranging freight. The job description for this position notes that the job involves climbing, kneeling, bending, stooping, balancing, reaching, and repeated heavy lifting.
Eventually, Grindle was sent to a doctor:
On June 26, 1996, Watkins ordered Grindle to see the industrial clinic doctor, Dr. Walter Lawrence. Dr. Lawrence found that Grindle had a limited range of motion and that he could duck and squat but he was short of breath after a few steps. Dr. Lawrence also noted that "[o]n physical examination, the most notable item is that the patient weighs 405 lbs." Dr. Lawrence concluded that, even though Grindle met Department of Transportation standards for truck drivers, he could not safely perform the requirements of his job.
The trucking company, not wanting to employ a guy who could not safely do his job, fired Grindle, and - of course - litigation ensued. The Sixth Circuit concluded that morbid obesity that has no physiological cause is not an "impairment" within the meaning of the ADA's proscription on firing qualified individuals with "a physical impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of the individual":
[I]t is clear that [in a prior decision] we did not intend to hold that any abnormal physical characteristic is a potential ADA impairment when we stated that "[the plaintiffs] have not alleged a status which is the result of a physiological condition or otherwise beyond the range of 'normal.'" Rather, we simply intended to emphasize that the plaintiffs' conditions were far from constituting an ADA impairment as, not only were the plaintiffs' conditions not physiologically caused, but they were not even abnormally obese. To interpret the above sentence any other way would suggest that we held that any physical abnormality - for example, someone extremely tall or grossly short - may be ADA impairment. We decline to extend ADA protection to all "abnormal" (whatever that term may mean) physical characteristics. To do so "would make the central purpose of the statutes, to protect the disabled, incidental to the operation of the 'regarded as' prong, which would become a catch-all cause of action for discrimination based on appearance, size, and any number of other things far removed from the reasons the statutes were passed."
(Citations omitted). The court did, however, leave open the possibility that future claimants could come up with a theory under which their morbid obesity - or, even, according to one concurring judge, all morbid obesity - might be considered a disability covered by the ADA.
Of course, for different people, there may indeed be reasonable differences in the degree to which they are responsible for their weight problems. But there's really no evidence that Congress ever intended to make a federal case out of firing people who are too fat to do their jobs. The ADA has spawned endless litigation over what constitutes a disability (the paradigmatic case of office workers in wheelchairs is by far the exception rather than the rule in ADA litigation), often extending to alleged mental deficiencies that amount to people who can't get their jobs done or control their behavior. And as with the case of teachers who can't pass a simple test, and Exxon's decision after the Exxon Valdez case to stop hiring drunks as ship captains, what is needed at the time of filing of all these cases is a much more rigorous showing by the plaintiff that the employer did not have a plausible, job-related reason for an adverse employment action, a test these kinds of suits should have failed at the very outset.
September 11, 2006
UPDATE: This April 2002 Megan McArdle post revisits the early weeks of the Ground Zero cleanup effort.
BASEBALL: Still Hurting
Going in the opposite direction from the Red Sox, the A's have yet again rebounded from a slow start, going 59-31 (.656, a 106-win pace) since falling to 23-29 on May 30. Here's their batting and pitching numbers since then.
As you can see, the A's are relying on two things: balance and the Big Hurt. On the pitching side, four starters (Zito, Haren, Blanton and Loaiza) have started 75 of their 90 games, with Kirk Saarloos taking 9 others; none of the five has an ERA below 3.89 or above 4.39 in that period, although several A's relievers have been lights-out. Hitting-wise, there are multiple people just hitting well enough to keep the offense going; big guns Eric Chavez and Nick Swisher are batting .222 and .225, respectively, with a combined 25 homers, but have drawn enough walks (105) to avoid becoming offensive black holes. Jason Kendall's hit well and rarely come out of the lineup, leading the team in hits and runs. And Jay Payton has stepped up - Payton, the poor man's Garret Anderson, has always had good speed and defense, middling power, but no walks or steals, so he can be valuable if and only if he hits for a good average. Over the past 3 1/2 months he's batting .321, the best baseball of his career.
But the overall team otherwise doesn't look very impressive until you add vintage, rejuvenated Frank Thomas, batting .317/.625/.421 with 25 HR and 71 RBI in 76 games. I was high on Thomas' productivity back in April, but I don't think anyone expected this. The downside is that Oakland will enter October very much dependent upon keeping Thomas healthy (and could have to play without him if the A's make the Series).
BLOG: Screening "Path to 9/11"
Glenn Greenwald has started another blogfight with Patterico, and yet again he doesn't seem to know who he's tangling with (see here, here, here and here). The short summary is that Greenwald made a simple error of fact - he confused Patterico with a guest poster on his site, who had seen "Path to 9/11" because he works for a top-rated LA morning radio show. A sane person would admit the error and go back to blogging about more substantive issues, but Greenwald instead chose to dig in, ramp up his already elevated levels of outrage, and dig up personal dirt on the guest poster. Amazing.
September 10, 2006
POLITICS: Karl the Avenger
"His voice was chilling," McAllister recalled in an interview Friday. "He says, 'Look, I got a Web site here called georgewbush.com and I got 900 subscribers and every one of them is getting e-mail from you.' He said, 'You gotta stop this right here and now. You've got to leave my subscribers alone.'"
On Jan. 17, 2005, at 9:12 p.m., Rove e-mailed an assistant in the Bush campaign, B.J. Goergen: "Find where this company is headquartered," with the attached spam for Voicescape.
Good for him.
BASEBALL: Quick Quiz
Question: What do the Mets, Phillies and Padres have in common?
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They're the only three teams in the NL with a winning record on the road. The Mets, of course, are by far the best at 41-28. Six AL teams have a winning record on the road (though the Red Sox and Twins don't), topped by Detroit at 44-29.
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September 9, 2006
BASEBALL: The Fallen Sky
At last check, the Red Sox trail the Royals by 6 in the 12th inning. This team will be lucky to win 90 games. It's 2000 & 2001 all over again.
UPDATE: The Sawx stood 48-28 (.632, a 102-win pace) after sweeping the Mets in late June. With tonight's loss they are now 27-39 (.409, a 96-loss pace) since.
SECOND UPDATE: Here's Boston's hitting and pitching stats over that stretch. The offense isn't terrible, but there's not a ton of help there for Ortiz and Manny. Pitching-wise, most everyone has been poor.
POLITICS/WAR: The President, Still Fighting
Paul Gigot interviews President Bush in today's Wall Street Journal. Some excerpts - on Palestine:
Take the Palestinian elections that elevated the terrorist group Hamas to power. "I wasn't surprised," he says, "that the political party that said 'Vote for me, I will get rid of corruption' won, because I was the person that decided on U.S. foreign policy that we were not going to deal with Mr. Arafat because he had let his people down, and that money that the world was spending wasn't getting to the Palestinian people. . . . They didn't say, 'Vote for us, we want war.' They said, 'Vote for us, we will get you better education and health.' "
On his management of the Iraq War:
"Now, my view of the country is this: Most people want us to win. There are a good number who say, get out now. But most Americans are united in the concept--of the idea of winning."
On the nature of the war:
"[T]his is a different kind of war. In the past, there was troop movements, or, you know, people could report the sinking of a ship. This is a war that requires intelligence and interrogation within the law from people who know what's happening. . . . Victories you can't see. But the enemy is able to create death and carnage that tends to define the action.
Read the whole thing.
September 8, 2006
WAR: Repressing the Ladies
POLITICS: "[O]ur patriotism is very low"
Please, please tell me the first letter in this Slate advice column is a parody. Comments opened.
POLITICS: With Kerry, It Broke
Andrew Cline at the Weekly Standard doesn't think much of the Democrats' move to abandon Iowa and New Hampshire as the presidential primary kickoff. There are plenty of reasons to question whether IA/NH's lead role makes sense, although there are at least two reasons to leave them in place. One is the immediate fact that, at present, both states are very closely divided (they are two of just three states to vote for George W. Bush in one but not both of the 2000 & 2004 elections) and they are fairly representative of the demographics of a number of the other "purple" states like Wisconsin and Minnesota. The second is the small-c conservative answer: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The system has served us well in selecting nominees, so why ditch it?
The second of these reasons is why the Democrats' rush to abandon the old calendar is, implicitly, such a damning indictment of John Kerry, the winner of the only seriously contested Democratic primary season since 1992. Whatever else may be said about the decision, if Democrats had faith that the existing system could be trusted to pick the right man (or woman), they would not depart from it. Their willingness to do so speaks volumes.
POLITICS: Bob Menendez Steered Millions To Group That Paid Him
Yes, I know: corruption investigations into New Jersey Democrats are a dog-bites-man story. But New Jersey voters have to ask themselves how many times they are willing to throw the bums back in. WNBC reports that federal investigators are probing whether there was a quid pro quo in Menendez receiving $3,000 a month from an organization as he was helping them receive millions of taxpayer dollars - your dollars:
The U.S. attorney's office has subpoenaed the [nonprofit] agency's records pertaining to a house once owned by then-congressman Menendez, sources told NewsChannel 4's Brian Thompson.
Now, I don't know; $3,000 a month may be a fair market rent for the property, in which case this isn't outright corruption, just a too-cozy relationship between a Congressman and a major recipient of federal largesse. That's Menendez' defense:
Menendez campaign spokesman Matthew Miller released a statement saying the senator's dealings with the agency had already been approved by authorities in U.S. Congress.
On the other hand, above-market payments for real property is a convenient way to launder a bribe - you will recall that was where the Duke Cunningham investigation started.
Will the Democrats pull a Torricelli and end up having to drag some geriatric retiree out of mothballs if Menendez implodes under the weight of this story? Stay tuned.
POLITICS: Yet Again, Less Accurate = Less Favorable To Republicans
Stuart Buck and Megan McArdle explain at length why a widely-circulated Detroit Free Press graph purporting to show a dramatic drop in median household income from 1999 to 2005 isn't reliable. (Of course, we all know George W. Bush was responsible for the dramatic decline of the stock market that began in March of 2000 - in the interests of even minimal accuracy one would begin with 2001 rather than 1999).
BASEBALL: Pistol Pete
Wow. Ralph Kiner was saying tonight he once saw Pete Reiser hit the CF fence so hard they gave him Last Rites carting him off the field. It was a tough game in those days.
BASEBALL: Upside Down Rotation
Since June 1, Mets starters are 40-24 (.625); Mets relievers are 14-8 (.636). The funny thing is that the record of the starters is propped up almost entirely by two guys you would not have expected (John Maine and Dave Williams are a combined 8-2 with a 3.18 ERA) and two who haven't even pitched well in that period (Steve Trachsel and Mike Pelfrey are 14-3 with a 5.06 ERA). The rest of the staff is 18-19, including a 15-14 record and 5.06 ERA for Pedro, Glavine and El Duque.
WAR/POLITICS: Questioning the Questioners, Part I
Jeff Goldstein discusses why it's a good thing that President Bush's Tuesday speech laying out the Administration's past successes in interrogating Al Qaeda detainees in CIA custody and proposing a new strategy for dealing with detainees in light of the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision represents a political strategy to put Democrats on the defensive and force them to take responsibility for either agreeing with the new policy or advocating a less aggressive approach to collecting intelligence from detainees. (Via Instapundit). (Ironically, of course, getting less information from detainees would only make us more reliant on our other best source of information, that being electronic surveillance). Goldstein focuses on the hypocrisy of critics like Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald (and they're not the only ones) who have been beating Bush over the head with the detainee issue for at least two and a half years now and have suddenly decided that it's not fair play for Bush to make a political issue of the standards for holding, questioning and trying detainees. Of course, Bush would have been perfectly happy to stick with the prior detainee-interrogation standards and keep them from the public eye, so it's absurd in the extreme to suggest that he chose to politicize this issue; all he's doing is taking an issue that's been used against him and making the best of it.
In fact, Bush is trying to replicate two of his signal accomplishments from four years ago. First, he's replicating his strategy in dealing with the Department of Homeland Security. You will recall that Bush initially opposed the creation of a massive, labrynthian new bureaucracy as part of the response to September 11. The Democrats thought they had the perfect strategy: advocating the new bureaucracy could, in one fell swoop, (1) put them to Bush's right, (2) without having to support more aggressive policies or give more power to their old foes the Defense Department, NSA and CIA, and potentially set up a countervailing power base to those agencies and (3) create lots of new job opportunities for their core constituency (government employees). But when Bush realized that opposing the new leviathan was politically untenable, he instead made demands (removing civil-service protections from DHS employees, a position anathema to the Democrats' union backers) that placed him once again on the side of greater emphasis on security, and in a way the Democrats couldn't support. The issue ended up helping sink a number of Democratic incumbents who put the interests of the unions first, most notably Max Cleland in Georgia. In short, Bush took up a battle he never wanted and found a way to turn it to his advantage.
Second, Bush is doing here what he did with the Iraq War vote in the fall of 2002: more than using national security for political purposes, Bush used partisan politics for national security purposes, counting on the fact that Democrats' principles were sufficiently pliable that they would vote for the war out of fear of being held accountable by the electorate for opposing it. And it's the Democrats whose partisan calculations are exposed by this maneuver, as Goldstein notes:
Sullivan characterizes this as a gambit to "legalize torture" and despairs that those who secretly wish they could vote against such legalization won't be able to now, because politically they would see doing so as a liability.
WAR: The Clinton Terror Record
As Dean Barnett points out, the Clinton record on fighting terrorism is pitiable enough that ABC shouldn't need to "dramatize" it with fictional scenes of incompetence.
Now, I think I have been consistent in saying that I'm not that interested in pinning blame on Americans for the September 11 attacks; there's way too much 20/20 hindsight out there. Nonetheless, it's important to keep the historical record straight - not least as a reminder that those who want to return to the pre-September 11 policies are horrifically and dangerously mistaken, and also as a curative against recurring agitprop that seeks to blame President Bush for the problem. In that light, it's important to keep the Clinton legacy on terrorism in perspective and understand why, with the benefit of that hindsight, it was such a disaster and should not be repeated. I've got a post up over at RedState (slightly updated from one I ran here two years ago) examining the timeline of Clinton's responses to Al Qaeda and Iraq in the period from August 1998-January 2001.
September 7, 2006
LAW: I Don't Want No Tea, It Give Me A Headache
September 6, 2006
WAR: Star Wars for RPGs
McQ blows a gasket - justifiably, if I read this story correctly - over the Pentagon dragging its feet due to Army opposition on a system to track and destroy incoming RPGs. I don't put a lot of stock in a lot of the stories complaining about this or that procurement issue amounting to 'sending the troops into battle without adequate armor/etc.' but this does sound like the Pentagon behaving very much like the gigantic government bureaucracy it is.
BASEBALL: No Quarter
Nope, not feeling sorry for the Braves today. Not one tiny little bit.
UPDATE: I'm not trusting Oliver Perez yet, either. Brilliant as he was today, he's still playing with gasoline and matches out there. Still, you have to love throwing Perez and Dave Williams out there and sweeping a doubleheader (with neither game being particularly close).
Then again, even Soler had a 3.32 ERA in his starts against NL opponents.
BASEBALL: Parks in Pics
BASEBALL: Good Grief!
POLITICS/WAR: Valerie Plame Wilson Revealed
David Corn, the Nation writer who launched the Plame story with an interview with Joe Wilson back in July 2003 and now has a book out (with Michael Isikoff) in which he tells the tale as if he were a disinterested observer rather than a prime mover in the story, has an excerpt up on "What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA". Corn's article, probably unintentionally, confirms much of what obervers on the Right have been saying all along.
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[T]he officers of the [CIA's] Joint Task Force on Iraq--part of the Counterproliferation Division of the agency's clandestine Directorate of Operations--were frantically toiling away in the basement, mounting espionage operations to gather information on the WMD programs Iraq might have. The JTFI was trying to find evidence that would back up the White House's assertion that Iraq was a WMD danger. Its chief of operations was a career undercover officer named Valerie Wilson.
In other words: Mrs. Wilson was not an innocent bystander to the Iraq War debate - she was at its epicenter, having led the CIA's efforts to find WMD in Iraq. Now, we know that the CIA battled with the White House and the Defense Department over a number of the details in this debate, and that the CIA's Iraq team generally sided with the faction in the State Department (including, ironically, Richard Armitage) who opposed the war. Reading between the lines here, and leaving aside Corn's implicit spin about how these folks had no agenda of their own, it would appear that Mrs. Wilson may even have been the leader of that internal CIA faction.
Her specific position at the CIA is revealed for the first time in a new book, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, by the author of this article and Newsweek's Michael Isikoff. The book chronicles the inside battles within the CIA, the White House, the State Department and Congress during the run-up to the war. Its account of Wilson's CIA career is mainly based on interviews with confidential CIA sources.
First off, the irony here is too rich: Corn, having wailed to high heaven over the disclosure of Mrs. Wilson's identity, now reveals much more non-public information about her undercover work, and does so with the complicity of "confidential CIA sources".
Second, note the promise of revelations of "inside battles within the CIA" - I'll give you one guess which side Mrs. Wilson comes down on.
Another issue was whether Valerie Wilson had sent her husband to Niger to check out an intelligence report that Iraq had sought uranium there. Hubris contains new information undermining the charge that she arranged this trip. In an interview with the authors, Douglas Rohn, a State Department officer who wrote a crucial memo related to the trip, acknowledges he may have inadvertently created a misimpression that her involvement was more significant than it had been.
Chief Plame-ologist Tom Maguire greets this claim with the scorn it deserves:
Please - Ms. Plame was head of the JTFI Ops group, had proposed her husband for his 1999 trip to Niger, but was not involved here? Well, then, why does Libby's indictment include this:7. On or about June 11, 2003, LIBBY spoke with a senior officer of the CIA to ask about the origin and circumstances of Wilson's trip, and was advised by the CIA officer that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and was believed to be responsible for sending Wilson on the trip.
So, what did the then-Valerie Plame do with the CIA?
Valerie Plame was recruited into the CIA in 1985, straight out of Pennsylvania State University. After two years of training to be a covert case officer, she served a stint on the Greece desk, according to Fred Rustmann, a former CIA official who supervised her then. Next she was posted to Athens and posed as a State Department employee. Her job was to spot and recruit agents for the agency. In the early 1990s, she became what's known as a nonofficial cover officer. NOCs are the most clandestine of the CIA's frontline officers. They do not pretend to work for the US government; they do not have the protection of diplomatic immunity. They might claim to be a businessperson. She told people she was with an energy firm. Her main mission remained the same: to gather agents for the CIA.
Again, to the extent that some of this stuff hasn't been disclosed or confirmed publicly, why is Corn doing that? (You will recall that Novak's initial column was vague on Mrs. Wilson's job at the CIA - it was Corn, presumably at the insistence of Joe Wilson, who first publicly asserted that she had been a covert operative).
In 1997 she returned to CIA headquarters and joined the Counterproliferation Division.
Which underlines the fact that she had been non-covert and working at headquarters for six years, leaving her uncovered by the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.
JTFI officers, under Wilson's supervision, tracked down relatives, students and associates of Iraqi scientists--in America and abroad--looking for potential sources. They encouraged Iraqi emigres to visit Iraq and put questions to relatives of interest to the CIA. The JTFI was also handling walk-ins around the world. Increasingly, Iraqi defectors were showing up at Western embassies claiming they had information on Saddam's WMDs. JTFI officers traveled throughout the world to debrief them. Often it would take a JTFI officer only a few minutes to conclude someone was pulling a con. Yet every lead had to be checked.
As to Mrs. Wilson, Corn is straining here to imply some covert overseas role, but if she was meeting with "Jordanian intelligence officials" as an official representative of the CIA (I doubt she told them she was a private energy consultant looking to recruit defectors from Iraq), her cover in that region wasn't ever going to be secure - I'd guess that a lot more hostile governments have sources in Jordanian intelligence than read Bob Novak.
As to the actual intelligence gathering process, this just emphasizes what we've known for some time now: while there were a broad array of indicators as to Saddam's historical WMD programs and continuing interest in such programs (including, ironically, his feelers to Niger to explore buying yellowcake), there was simply no way we could rule out the possibility that he still had or was on the verge of getting the robust WMD programs he'd been pursuing for two decades.
The results were frustrating for the officers. Were they not doing their job well enough--or did Saddam not have an arsenal of unconventional weapons? Valerie Wilson and other JTFI officers were almost too overwhelmed to consider the possibility that their small number of operations was, in a way, coming up with the correct answer: There was no intelligence to find on Saddam's WMDs because the weapons did not exist.
Of course, no weapons wasn't the correct answer, either, but that's another day's argument.
When the war started in March 2003, JTFI officers were disappointed. "I felt like we ran out of time," one CIA officer recalled. "The war came so suddenly. We didn't have enough information to challenge the assumption that there were WMDs.... How do you know it's a dry well? That Saddam was constrained. Given more time, we could have worked through the issue.... From 9/11 to the war--eighteen months--that was not enough time to get a good answer to this important question."
Well, this has been a talking point of war opponents for some time. Corn confirms that it was the view of people on Mrs. Wilson's task force. 2+2= . . . ?
When the Novak column ran, Valerie Wilson was in the process of changing her clandestine status from NOC to official cover, as she prepared for a new job in personnel management. Her aim, she told colleagues, was to put in time as an administrator--to rise up a notch or two--and then return to secret operations.
In other words, she was moving from one Langley-based bureaucratic job to another. And how practical it was to go back to the NOC world is, at best, dubious, given that her cover had previously been compromised by Aldrich Ames, given that she had met with foreign intelligence services as a CIA officer, and given that she was married to an American diplomat who was injecting himself in public controversies over intelligence-gathering.
[S]he would now be pulled into the partisan warfare of Washington. As a CIA employee still sworn to secrecy, she wasn't able to explain publicly that she had spent nearly two years searching for evidence to support the Administration's justification for war and had come up empty.
No, but she could send her husband out to telegraph the same message in the pages of the NY Times. You can feel here someone's frustration - perhaps it's just Corn's, but perhaps it is genuinely Mrs. Wilson's feeling that she needed a way to go public without leaving her own fingerprints - a way that was gift-wrapped by having the message delivered by her husband. The fact that Joe Wilson trumpeted his own involvement in a CIA-sponsored intelligence-gathering trip violates the most fundamental rule of the CIA, which is to keep your mouth shut. That breach of trust is the critical wrongdoing of this whole episode, and set off a chain of events in which it was increasingly unlikely that his wife's role in sending him on the trip could be successfully concealed.
It's unfortunate that Mrs. Wilson's role, however compromised it already may have been and however many years in the past, became public. But her husband's lunge for the spotlight probably made her role untenable anyway.
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September 5, 2006
BASEBALL: No Derby Downer
Mike Sheets looks at recent participants in the Home Run Derby and doesn't find a dramatic second-half dropoff to substantiate concerns over David Wright and (in 2005) Bobby Abreu. Even the effect he does find is probably partly explained by the tendency of All-Stars to be people who played at or above their expected level in the first half, and thus inherently more likely than average to decline in the second half.
BASEBALL: One Liner of the Day
Will Carroll on Corey Patterson, Carlos Beltran, Aaron Rowand and others: "Wall is still way ahead in this year's battle with players"
POLITICS: Hey, That's Not Funny!
BLOG: Familiar Faces
Nice Worcester Telegram & Gazette profile of the latest business venture by my friend and Holy Cross classmate PJ Sansonetti. And ConfirmThem welcomes Curt Levey, who was a year behind me at Harvard Law and has been active in the conservative movement ever since.
LAW: Got Red Tape?
I dare anyone to read this Third Circuit opinion, detailing the Byzantine federal and state regulatory regimes governing Pennsylvania milk farmers, and not come away feeling more libertarian than they were before. This is the 21st century; there is absolutely no reason to have any of these rules. If a business' profits is threatened by price wars, let them happen and shake out the weak producers. If the business is cyclical, there are plenty of financial hedging strategies available even to small businesses like family farms through today's banking business. And if retailers are worried about price gouging, they can sign long-term contracts. Milk is big business. The market can handle it just fine.
LAW: Race and Gender Gaps in Wealth of Supreme Court Justices
Following on the heels of the crisis in hiring of female Supreme Court clerks in the 2006-07 Term, a new report raises troubling questions about race and gender equity in the wealth of Supreme Court Justices. (H/T WSJ Law Blog). Apparently, on average, African-American Justices have between 4% and 5.8% as much wealth as white Justices. There's also a significant gender gap: female Justices have between 3 1/2 and 4 times as much wealth as male Justices. Clearly, this is a disturbing trend requiring investigation by the media and Congress and perhaps remedial legislation.
WAR: Law Enforcement Yes. But Prosecution, No.
The efforts of law enforcement agencies the world over to aid in tracking and apprehending terrorists are a critical component in the War on Terror, and those of us on the Right who disparage the Clinton-era law-enforcement-only model of combatting terroristm shouldn't suggest otherwise. But once apprehended, terrorists simply should not be processed through the traditional criminal justice system, in the U.S. or anywhere else. Because otherwise you get results like this one:
BALI, Indonesia — Judges sentenced an Islamic militant to eight years in prison Tuesday for harboring the alleged mastermind of last year's homicide bombings on Indonesia's resort island of Bali — the first verdict in the terrorist attack.
Abdul Aziz, 30, met with Southeast Asia's most wanted terror suspect Noordin Top at least 10 times before the bombings, once allowing him to stay overnight at his school in Central Java province, said presiding judge Gede Wirya.
Eight years? Sorry, not enough. Not for 200 dead. Not nearly enough.
September 4, 2006
POP CULTURE: That's A Croc
Kids, in particular, will have to be crushed to learn of the death early this morning of "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, stung fatally by a stingray while filming a documentary. Like Dale Earnhardt, Irwin made his name by taking risks in full view of the public, so you can't really separate his death from the way he lived.
UPDATE: CNN headline: "'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin dies, Al Qaeda official captured"
And here I had thought the two stories unrelated ...
September 3, 2006
BASEBALL: Diaz for Nickeas
I know little or nothing about Mike Nickeas, the 23-year-old AA catcher the Mets got from the Rangers for Victor Diaz, but the minor league numbers suggest that besides drawing an above-average number of walks, the guy has no discernable offensive skills. I'm guessing this was strictly a deal to move Diaz after he fell out of favor within the organization.
BASEBALL: That's Gotta Hurt
I'm pretty sure I don't want to know what an "intrascrotal hematoma" is.
OTHER SPORTS: Agassi, At The End
An elegant Agassi tribute penned by Pejman before his final defeat by some guy named Becker (no relation to Boris, apparently).
September 2, 2006
BASEBALL: Beltran's Knee
The Mets will be very fortunate if tonight's victory isn't very, very costly - Carlos Beltran caught his spikes in the chain links in Minute Maid Field's center field fence and turned his left knee the wrong way coming down from a spectacular game-saving catch of a drive off Lance Berkman's bat with two on and one out up 4-2 in the ninth. Beltran limped off the field, and there's no word just yet on the status of the knee.
Another tough loss tonight for Brewer lefty Chris Capuano, dropping his record to 11-9. With the fate of Ben Sheets perennially uncertain, Capuano has very quietly had himself a fine season and snuck up to the brink of being a credible ace in his own right. I noticed the other day in USAToday that Capuano leads the majors in "Quality Starts" (e.g., 6 IP or more, 3 ER or less - he tossed his 23d in 29 starts tonight. His K/BB ratio has hopped up rapidly from OK (176-91) to great (160-35) in a single season, and his pickoff move is approaching legendary status - just 1 steal in 3 attempts against him this season, 2 in 11 attempts last year. Capuano's something of a fly ball pitcher and still gopher-prone (55 homers and 95 doubles allowed in two years, although the latter may be partly the Brewers' outfield), but if he can cut the homers even a little he stands to become a legitimate #1 starter.
September 1, 2006
BASEBALL: Tough Times
Jon Lester has non-Hodkins Lymphoma, which may sound - in Larry David's words - like "the good Hodkins" but it's still plenty scary for a 22-year-old. Let's hope he makes a full recovery. David Ortiz is still being tested.
WAR: Victory Without (More) War?
Charles Krauthammer makes one of the few persuasive optimistic cases I've seen for the argument that Hezbollah really did lose the war with Israel, and won't fight again. Most of the optimistic assessments by serious people have been grim ones, based on the idea that the peace won't hold and the war will restart on terms more favorable to Israel than where we were when the shooting stops. Krauthammer thinks otherwise:
"We did not think, even 1 percent, that the capture would lead to a war at this time and of this magnitude. You ask me, if I had known on July 11 ... that the operation would lead to such a war, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not."
Nasrallah . . . knows that Lebanon, however weak its army, has a deep desire to disarm him and that the arrival of Europeans in force, however weak their mandate, will make impossible the rebuilding of the vast Maginot Line he spent six years constructing.
Read the whole thing. Austin Bay also think's Hezbollah's moment of glory in not being entirely crushed by the IDF will prove fleeting, as does Amir Taheri. I hope they are right; if a weakened Hezbollah can be purged from power in Lebanon by the Lebanese themselves, only secondarily relying on foreign support and the in terrorem effect of Israeli vigilance, it will not only be a blessing to regional security but further proof of the effectiveness of the two-pronged Bush strategy of (1) frontal military confrontation of armed terror groups and (2) promotion of democratic institutions that can take ultimate responsibility for controlling the security of their own territory.
POLITICS: The Making of Pro-Lifers
Fred Barnes looks at five examples - including his own - of how people who hadn't much cared about abortion came to be among the most ardent of pro-lifers.
POLITICS: Racial Hardball and George Allen
First of all, blogospheric congratulations are in order for QandO's Jon Henke, who has been brought aboard the George Allen Senate re-election campaign as "Netroots Coordinator". Jon gets quickly to work with a post explaining how Democrats threatened to cut off contributions to historically black colleges to pressure the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund not to give Allen an award for his work on legislation benefitting the colleges. After all, it just wouldn't fit the narrative to have Senator Allen honored with a "Thurgood Marshall Award" for his actual record, as opposed to his Democratic/media caricature.
POLITICS: The Big Softie
John Dickerson pens a ridiculous piece for Slate accusing Rudy Giuliani of being too nice and insufficiently partisan to get the GOP nomination in 2008 based on a recent campaign appearance for Michael Steele. I think Dickerson is trying to create some sort of wedge here between Giuliani and the Bush Administration's current media offensive on the War on Terror, but among other things he misses the crucial point here: this was a campaign stop for Steele, who is running in a heavily Democratic state, needs to reach out to black voters who are traditional Democrats, and - importantly - doesn't have an opponent yet and is thus working the high road for the moment.
Anyway, whatever else you might say, Rudy has never before been accused of being insufficiently combative.
BASEBALL: Please, Sir, I Don't Want Some More
Given his youth and talent, I'm hardly ready to declare the Oliver Perez Experiment a failure, but it is pretty clear after two starts that no miraculous change-of-scenery metamorphosis is going to make him into a pitcher the Mets can use in the postseason. (Which is not to question them using him right now out of necessity). Wait 'til next year.