The Angry Cyclist

A fleeting grasp of civil, well reasoned discourse.
This blog will comment on topics of interest like politics, business, taxation, the War with Islam / Islamofascists, road cycling, football, and others.


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Thursday, October 30, 2003
 
Unforgettable

Ellen Goodman's got her knickers in a twist because she's not yet been blacklisted by the National Rifle Association.

NRA, please don't forget me

By Ellen Goodman, 10/30/2003

I RARELY WHINE about being left out. Life is not middle school, and if you don't make the A list -- hey, get over it.


The problem I have is half of Ellen's columns are one big lefty whine. How this is different from the rest is anybody's guess.

I mean, I didn't even protest when I was left off the Nixon enemies list. I was young. The future stretched in front of me.


If I were to guess, I'd say Ellen's about 50 years old. This means she was barely out of high school during Nixon's administration. Since I didn't realize my own political leanings until just after UNH, I can only imagine what her parents were like. Lemme guess where she went to college, Simmons College? Amherst? Wellesley?

But this is too much. This hurts my feelings. The leaders of the National Rifle Association have put out a 19-page blacklist, a veritable Who's Who of opponents, an alphabet list of enemies, and there wasn't a Goodman to be found.


Let's face it, some people just aren't interested in the Second Amendment, and some people are so actively hostile to it that they wish to see this right stripped from others. In essence, this organization is no different from the ACLU (First Amendment).

How can they do this to me? This is a leadership that has refined paranoia into an art form. The honchos of the NRA actually believe that keeping assault weapons off the streets is the first step to wresting the flintlock out of Charlton Heston's "cold, dead hands."


Let's dispense with some bullshit here. While the use of the term "assault weapons" sounds rather militaristic, the common definition for them is to note that they are semi-automatic weapons, firing one shot at a time. Nowhere do I see differentiation based on the guns' size, caliber, explosive charge or other meaningful classification or characteristic. The person who created this phrase, it seems to me, has in the public mind successfully confused assault weapons with automatic weapons (machine guns and the like). Winning the propaganda war and setting the terms of the debate wins most of the battle.

But the enemies are my kind of people.


Whose enemies, yours or someone else's?

The American Medical Association. The National Education Association. The League of Women Voters, for gawdsake. The list of "antigun" religious groups is nothing if not ecumenical, ranging from the US Catholic Conference to the B'nai B'rith to the United Methodist Church.

The corporate blacklist, for that matter, includes every one of my food groups, from Stonyfield Yogurt to Sara Lee cheesecake. As for the list of individuals in and out of Hollywood, they picked the president and first lady -- of "The West Wing," that is. They listed Harvey Weinstein, the old pacifist producer of "Kill Bill," Sean Connery, whose 007 career involved more weapons than your average weekend gun show, and Britney Spears, whose looks could kill. They listed John McEnroe, whose temper is positively ballistic, and Julia Child, who wields a mean kitchen knife.


That's basically the Hollywood crowd. Is anyone surprised at this 'revelation'?

Before someone did an obit check, the original list even included some dead people, from Herblock to Ann Landers. But Moi? They didn't even send me a greeting card, which is just as well since they also put Hallmark on their (don't) dance card.


Face it, Ellen. You're not that important.

How am I going to explain this to my grandchildren?


Tell them you're a mediocre writer for the Globe, and they're not wasting their time on you.

Where did I go wrong?


As soon as you started on this column!

Of course, I wasn't the only one left out. Even Dustin Hoffman, the star of "Runaway Jury," had to write a letter to the NRA president -- "As a supporter of comprehensive gun safety measures, I was deeply disappointed when I discovered that my name was not on this list" -- before he was included.


But he's an actor, and you're not. Next...

But what's a girl like me gotta do to make the hit parade? Should I take on the NRA's prime outrages?


I don't know, write with talent, flair and conviction?

Outrage One: The NRA wants to make the gun industry the only one in America that you can't sue for negligence.


That's interesting, as I cannot substantiate such a claim by the NRA.

The families of the sniper victims, for example, couldn't even sue the infamous Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, which "lost" over 200 weapons, including the Bushmaster used in shooting 16 people.


That's more like a problem with product liability in general, not NRA's 'claim' that they want to be 'only one in America that you can't sue for negligence'. Do you really want to establish precedents like suing Anheuser-Busch for its' 'negligence' when someone gets behind the wheel and kills someone else? I know some people do, but I believe in that quaint notion of personal responsibility.

Outrage Two: The NRA wants assault weapons back on the streets. The ban is due to expire next September, and the NRA doesn't want it renewed.


Single shot guns in the hands of people who have permits for them, and she's outraged?

Do I qualify yet?


As someone who's misinformed, absolutely!

Well, try this one: I don't even think someone should be able to shoot his wife, go to jail, get out, cross the street, buy a gun at a show, and go back and take another shot. There, that should do it.


And your example of this scenario is, where?

It's G-O-O-D-M-A-N.


Thanks, Ellen. Us knuckledraggers had a really hard time translating your byline.

It must be said and resaid ad nauseum that everyone who believes in gun control is not against hunting. As someone who's had a home in rural Maine for many years, I know the difference between a hunter and a sniper. This dog don't hunt, but she's eaten some pretty fine Maine moose, thank you.


There it is in a nutshell. It's okay for Ellen to have a gun in her Maine home, ostensibly for hunting, but not for the rest of us, under any circumstances. Or are we only allowed to 'hunt' with guns? Liberal elitism at its most condescendingly arrogant and hypocritical, ignoring written law and the tenents of the Constitution when it suits them.

Mike Barnes, the head of the Brady Campaign, says: "The NRA members are much more sensible than the leaders. The leadership really believes we would be safer if we were all walking around carrying AK-47s. They talk about the slippery slope. If I can't have a grenade launcher today, they'll take away my rifle tomorrow."


Uh, does someone have a direct quote from someone in the NRA there, or is Barnes just putting words in people's mouths? It's more likely that the leadership is resisting piecemeal gun control (a little ban here, a little ban there) until all you can defend yourself with is a .22 and a Bowie knife. Gotta love those odds against an Uzi in a drive-by.

Alas, Mike Barnes's name was also left off the blacklist, as were Jim and Sarah Brady. Maybe that's why the Brady Campaign, in a flight of humor, put together a website, www.nrablacklist.com, so the other folks feeling lonely and neglected can volunteer for the blacklist. So far nearly 30,000 people have signed up to be in good company. The cranky NRA has set up an alternative "Good Guys list" -- no gals need apply? Heck, go find it yourself.


Now that you have an URL, Ellen, can you now end the tedium that is this column?

Meanwhile, I'm going to get some blacklisted Ben & Jerry's ice cream, open up my blacklisted Washington Post, log on to my computer, and post my name. If my old buddies at the NRA want to keep me off, they're going to have to pry this computer mouse out of my cold, dead hands.


We're halfway there. Dead describes the thought process put into most of her this column.

Ellen Goodman's e-mail address is ellengoodman@globe.com.

© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


Wednesday, October 29, 2003
 
Big deal

Bank of America buys out Fleet Bank yesterday. Naturally, Robert Kuttner just HATES the idea!

Fleet takeover's big winners

By Robert Kuttner, 10/29/2003

BANK OF AMERICA'S acquisition of Fleet Bank is a terrible idea, on several different levels. The most obvious is that I hate capitalism it eliminates a New England-based top-tier bank.


Uh, Bob, if we're talking retail banks, isn't Fleet Bank, in fact, New England's biggest bank?

When Fleet, a transplant from Providence, absorbed venerable BankBoston, Fleet executives made much of the fact that this new merger would keep a world-scale bank based in New England. That promise lasted just four years.

The history of these mega-mergers is that the ordinary customer is the loser. In former CEO Terry Murray's drive to make Fleet the region's biggest bank, Fleet was always too preoccupied digesting the last takeover target to provide decent service.


Isn't that a market signal to take your business to a different bank?

I personally spent more than a decade trying to stay out of Fleet's evil capitalist clutches. I had a good experience with Brookline Trust, which was absorbed by Patriot Bank, which was absorbed by Bank of New England, which was absorbed by Fleet. I moved to BankBoston. Then BankBoston was taken over by Fleet.


Has Fleet been stalking you all these years?

Before it approved that merger, the Federal Reserve required Fleet to sell off a large number of branches and accounts, to prevent it from having too large a share of the greater Boston banking market. Without my consent, my retirement account wound up at Sovereign, a bank whose own bonds at the time were trading at junk-bond status. It took months to move that account.


If there are no difference in the fees charged against that account (and most financial institutions don't charge fees in IRA & 401(k) accounts, I think this is a bogus issue raised by Bob, just to fill up column inches. Kind of funny hearing this story from him, though.

It even took me five trips to the bank, including three meetings with the branch manager, for Fleet to manage to close my checking account. Fleet realized too late that its notorious disdain for the retail customer was a losing business strategy.


I can almost hear him with the Kerryesque quote to the branch managers - "Don't you know who I am?" And how about this technique - write one check for the remaining balance in the former checking account and use it to open another at the other bank? Is this difficult or something?

Another casualty of Fleet's buying binge was the swallowing up of BankBoston, a locally based and exemplary corporate citizen which previously swallowed up BayBank, another locally based and exemplary corporate citizen . Fleet, by contrast, was famous for ruthless post-consolidation layoffs, high fees, and bad service. In the aftermath of the banking scandals of the late 1980s, its debt-collector subsidiary Rescorp purchased sub-prime paper, then needlessly called loans, causing the liquidation of many viable small businesses.


All banks charge fees. My BayBank statement from 7/87 charged me 2.50 per month, no ATM fees. My BayBank statement from 3/97 charged me 8.00 per month, no ATM fees; My BankBoston statement from 7/97 (the merger took place in this time frame) charged me 8.00 per month, no ATM fees. Fleet currently charges me 8.00 per month plus $.25 for each ATM use. To the extent Bob bases his Fleet animus on bank fees, he's barking up the wrong tree. My opinion of banks providing face to face service can be summed up thusly - they're all equally worthless. Funny how he doesn't mention impending doom and gloom about how many Fleet prople are going to lose their jobs from this merger; doesn't Bob care about the 'little person' when it suits him anymore, or is he a sap for believing Bank of America's going to 'do the right thing'? It's tough to tell with him.

Bank of America has a better reputation as a retail banker than Fleet, but in these mega-deals the acquiring institution often pays too high a price, as Fleet did for BankBoston and as Bank of America may well have done in acquiring Fleet.


In most circles this 'too high a price' is called a 'premium' to get the deal done.

Wall Street analysts have been decidedly cool to the deal. In its immediate aftermath, BankAmerica's stock dropped by more than 10 percent.


Bob, most acquiring companies' stock does in fact decrease in rough proportion to the acquiree's share price. This is what the 'premium' thingy's all about. An economist like Krugman Kuttner should know that, or at least state it and not seemed schocked or surprised that it happened.

In general the consolidation of commercial banks has not yielded the promised savings to consumers or even bank shareholders. A bank with, say, $20 billion in assets has plenty economies of scale to purchase technology, design systems, and serve customers, as well as plenty of assets to diversify risk.

Why, then, is this merger boom only accelerating? The real answer, gentle reader, is that it makes a handful of insiders very rich, including those who delivered BankBoston to Fleet.


The Corporate GreedTM angle. How predictable, since insiders tend to own lots of shares. And, naturally, no mention of a low share price by historical standards, which provides the incentive for the deal.

You make a lot more money as top manager of a trillion-dollar bank than of a billion-dollar bank.


This is wisdom, from one of the 'top' economists?

And with the integration of commercial banking and investment banking, there are far more opportunities for lucrative side deals.

As the recent Enron expose book, "The Smartest Guys in the Room," makes clear, the nation's most prestigious Wall Street banks were up to their eyeballs in Enron mischief. They were Enron's enablers. Their executives willingly lent money to Enron's phony off-the-books subsidiaries, in exchange for lucrative investment-banking fees. Many banking executives profited personally.


Smearing with a pretty broad brush there, aren't we, Bob? Was Fleet or Bank of America ever indicted or otherwise accused of improper loans to Enron? I haven't found anything, and I think it's irresponsible and / or malicious of Kuttner to make such an implication. It's useless to write to the Globe's ombudsman; I'll get ignored just like the last hundred times.

Bank of America's latest coup is tarnished by its own regulatory woes. It stands accused of providing improper trading advantages to a favored hedge fund manager.


Anyone we know? Isn't it a hallmark of Kuttner's columns to omit such pertinent details?

American capitalism worked just fine when investment banking was legally separated from commercial banking and when large mergers were discouraged by regulators.


In other words, capitalism is better when it's heavily regulated. I'm sure that Reagan & Thatcher both agree wholeheartedly.

In fact, it worked a lot better, because I didn't have to pay bank fees money was not squandered on losing loans based mainly on conflicts of interest that were precluded by the regulatory regime.


But they lost money on other types of loans, right? Bond defaults? Unprofitable bank branches? Low M & A activity? Loans to South American countries?

American consumers were also better served when there were plenty of medium-sized banks that considered themselves corporate citizens of their localities. Bank of America is making the same noises that Fleet did about its solicitude for good old Boston or Providence or wherever. But the logic of its role suggests loyalty only to the bottom line.


Nice guys finish last, Bob. So do 'nice' companies.

At his press conference, Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis was asked whether the Fleet Center (itself a dubious naming) would keep its name. He replied that BankAmerica had a nice ring to it. Here's a better way for BankAmerica to prove itself a good local citizen: Call it the Boston Garden.


That's Bob's 'Right Once a ColumnTM' moment. Amen to that!

Robert Kuttner's is co-editor of The American Prospect. His column appears regularly in the Globe.

© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


Sunday, October 26, 2003
 
NFL 2003 - 2004, Week 8

Home team in CAPS:

Stl +1.5
Dal +6.5
Hou +13

Last week = No bets.

For the year = 11-19-1


Wednesday, October 22, 2003
 
Muhammad Update

John Allen Muhammad has now retained legal counsel. I was sooo looking forward to seeing this guy make a complete jackass out of himself, all in the name of Allah.

Maybe next time...


 
OhBoy

Bumbling fool Lawrence, MA school superintendent Wilfred Laboy finally passed his English test. Sort of.

Lawrence schools boss passes language skills test

by Jules Crittenden

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The Lawrence school superintendent who failed an English test his teachers had to take is off the hook.

Superintendent Wilfredo T. Laboy finally passed the Communication and Literacy Skills Test, reportedly with flying colors.


Given his three previous failures, I tend to doubt that spin.

Laboy told Lawrence Mayor Michael J. Sullivan by phone Monday that he received a 100 percent passing grade on the written portion of the test that had given him so much trouble in his previous three tries.


Now the bullshit meter is redlining. How about publishing his results?

Laboy did not return calls from the Herald, and his actual grade could not be independently verified. Laboy has largely kept quiet on the issue, and his secretary said he would have no comment on it yesterday. (emphasis added - ed.)


Smells like a coverup, doesn't it?

``It puts the issue behind us that was hanging out there,'' Sullivan said. Citing plans for a new high school and high school accreditation, he said, ``The agenda in Lawrence is just too big for it not to be put behind us.''


"So let's change the subject, shall we?"

Steve Crawford, a spokesman for the Lawrence Teachers Union, said of Laboy's test, ``Congratulations to him. But we need to focus on the more important issues, which is getting re-accredited, which has been lost in the shuffle.''


"And keep the subject changed."

Laboy, 52, a Puerto Rico native whose first language is Spanish, was hired by the state in 2000 and was in danger of being fired if he didn't put his nose to the grindstone, study up and pass.


Which would have been better advice for his first test. Then you can collect your $155K salary without drawing attention to the fact that some immigrants refuse to immerse themselves in, at a minimum, the native language of their new home country. Maybe the guy's bad at taking tests, but to go from three successive failures to acing the test fails the credibility test. It's amazing what losing a job with that kind of salary will do to your motivation levels.


Monday, October 20, 2003
 
Ramblin' Man

The circus known as the Beltway Sniper trial has just commenced and won't lack in entertainment value.

Sniper Suspect Rambles As Arguments Begin

Oct 20, 1:41 PM (ET)

By SONJA BARISIC

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - Sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad won a surprise request Monday to represent himself at trial and delivered a rambling opening statement in which he quoted Jesus and spoke about the meaning of truth.


Leading off on the wrong foot already. Aren't you supposed to proclaim innocence and, you know, focus on facts and such?

"One of the things we're here for today is to find out what everyone wants to know. What happened?" Muhammad told the jury. "There's three truths. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I always thought there was just one truth."

He added, "Jesus said, 'Ye shall know the truth.'"

"The facts should help us identify what's a lie, what's not a lie," he said.


You can start by shutting up.

In the first five minutes of his statement, Muhammad, wearing a suit and tie, said nothing directly about the sniper attack in which he is accused.


If you stand accused of murder, this makes sense.

He then told a story in which he punished his daughter for eating chocolate cookies, only to find out later that the daughter had not actually disobeyed him. He said he is similarly being persecuted by authorities who don't know the truth behind the sniper spree.

"I know what happened. I know what didn't happen. They're basing what they said about me on a theory," he said.

"If we monitor step by step, it will all show I had nothing to do with these crimes," Muhammad said. "They know this."


Funny, I remember the results from the ballistics tests a little differently...

He asked the jury to pay close attention because "my life and my son's life is on the line," apparently a reference to fellow suspect Lee Boyd Malvo.

He also said he hopes to be found innocent "by the grace of Allah."


Mr. Muhammad is also acting as his own attorney, like Zacarias Moussaoui's. This explains why you'll see a thousand invocations of Allah and Jihad throughout this trial.

Circuit Judge LeRoy F. Millette ruled Monday morning as the trial was about to begin that Muhammad could represent himself, a request that came as a surprise. Just last week, Muhammad had told the judge that he was satisfied with the work of his attorneys.


It's the old saw, "Anyone representing himself in court has a fool for a client".

Muhammad, 42, is charged with capital murder in the slaying of Dean Harold Meyers, a 53-year-old Vietnam veteran who was gunned down outside a northern Virginia gas station last October. Meyers was the seventh victim of a three-week shooting spree that left 10 people dead in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C.


Which makes me wonder why he's not also being charged as an accessory in the other shootings. There's no mention of it here.

Fifteen days after Meyers' slaying, Muhammad and Malvo were arrested at a highway rest stop in Maryland. Prosecutors have said the shootings were part of a plot to extort $10 million from the government.


No extortion charge, either? I think this article is omitting them; it's not like prosecutors to refrain from throwing the book at this guy.

The trial started nearly an hour late as Muhammad's request to represent himself was discussed in the judge's chambers.


Because it took 55 minutes for everyone to stop laughing...

Once in the courtroom, Millette immediately called a bench conference with Muhammad and defense and prosecuting attorneys. Muhammad and Millette spoke directly to each other for more than five minutes before the judge announced that defense lawyers Peter Greenspun and Jonathan Shapiro would only be assisting Muhammad.


Millette - "I'm outta here with my reputation intact. Run!"

"His attorneys are now what is known as standby counsel," Millette told the jury. He did not explain why Muhammad chose to represent himself.


Same reason that Moussaoui's did - so he can grandstand.

As the trial got under way, assistant prosecutor James Willett began his opening statement by silently assembling a Bushmaster rifle, apparently the same one authorities believe was used in the attacks.


Real snipers use Browning rifles, .50 caliber. A Bushmaster is not manly by any stretch.

He briefly addressed Muhammad's decision to represent himself, saying: "It is an unusual but not unheard of thing for someone in his position to do. The court felt he did have at least the basic ability to represent himself."


He wears a tie and doesn't drool. That's all the basic ability I see here.

Willett then explained the importance of a spotter's role in a sniper shooting, which will be an important issue at trial.

Defense lawyers have argued that Malvo fired the fatal shot in Meyers' Oct. 9, 2002, slaying. Because of that, they argue, Virginia law prohibits imposing the death penalty against Muhammad on one of the two capital murder counts he faces.

But prosecutors say Muhammad's role in the shooting was so direct that he might as well have pulled the trigger.


It's called conspiracy to commit murder and accessory to the murder, the latter of which makes you as guilty as the trigger man. The debate as to whether the death penalty applies to accessories may have some merit, though.

Willett showed the jury a diagram of the intersection where Meyers was shot, and that the fatal shot came from across the street.

"It was a distance of about 80 yards," Willett said. "You can see how important a spotter would be" to help locate and point out a target to the shooter.


While I'm no expert by any stretch, but 80 yards does not appear to be a great distance as far as rifles are concerned, even in an urban area.

Prosecutors have not spelled out the order of their witnesses or evidence, but Malvo is expected to appear. He was flown to the jail in Virginia Beach on Sunday from northern Virginia, where he has been jailed, and has orders to appear in court, said Paula Miller, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Beach Sheriff's Office.

Prosecutors would not say why Malvo was summoned. He refused to testify at a recent hearing and instead invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.


It won't look good for Muhammad if Malvo takes the fifth again.

Malvo's trial - in the Oct. 14, 2002, shooting death of FBI analyst Linda Franklin - begins Nov. 10 in Chesapeake, also in southeast Virginia.


But he was 17 at the time of the shootings, no way he'll get the death sentence.

Both trials were moved to southeast Virginia after defense lawyers argued that every northern Virginia resident could be considered a victim because of the fear the shootings inspired in the region. The suspects are being tried in Virginia first because of the state's strong death penalty laws. Virginia has executed 89 people - second only to Texas' 310 - since the U.S. Supreme Court permitted the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976.


Of course, I've been wrong before...

Experts have said the military ties and backgrounds of the jurors chosen in Muhammad's trial are likely to favor the prosecution. The jury includes a retired Navy pilot, the spouse of a retired Navy mechanic, an Air Force retiree whose husband also was in the Air Force, and a former Navy officer whose husband retired from the Navy.


In other words, people who are more likely to take terrorism, both homegrown and Saudi imported, pretty seriously. That, or the defense gave up trying to get military types excluded from the jury.

"In general, Virginia juries are going to be prosecution juries," except in more urban areas, said Donald H. Smith, an Old Dominion University sociology professor who studies jury behavior.


"Muhammad steps up to the plate. Here's the pitch... Strike One!"


Sunday, October 19, 2003
 
NFL 2003 - 2004, Week 7

No System picks this week. That's the first time since the beginning of the 2001 season The System hasn't come up with at least one regular season pick.

Top offense - KC (152, where 100 is average)
Top defense - MIA (142)
Worst offense - CHI (62)
Worst defense - AZ (53)

Last week = 1-3

For the year = 11-19-1


Friday, October 17, 2003
 
My Alma Mater

In the news once again:

Reuters

Friday, October 17, 2003; 12:00 PM

By Greg Frost

BOSTON (Reuters) - Bitterness and anger swept New England on Friday as a new generation of Red Sox fans learned the downside of rooting for a baseball team famed for its decades-old curse.


He has a point there. I was stunned for about a minute after Boone hit the home run off Wakefield, then turned the TV off.

A riot erupted in the college town of Durham, New Hampshire, after the Red Sox lost yet again to their arch-rivals, the New York Yankees, who advanced to face the Florida Marlins in the World Series.


Now there's something new.

Police used pepper spray to disperse 2,500 people who blocked the only a main street in Durham and climbed on the roofs of buildings after the game. Nine people were arrested, mostly students at the University of New Hampshire, police said.


Were they drunk?

The rioters hurled rocks, bottles and full cans of beer, lit fires in dumpsters and shot fireworks at police. No serious injuries were reported.


Hurling full cans of beer? What's wrong with you idiots?

Elsewhere in New England, cooler -- albeit dreary -- heads prevailed as baseball history repeated itself again and the Red Sox capitulated in Yankee Stadium.

In Boston, fans shook their heads in disbelief, shouted expletives and groaned as the Yankees came from behind to tie Game Seven of the American League Championship Series, and then won it on Aaron Boone's leadoff home run in the 11th inning.


I myself resisted the temptation to ignite the nearest dumpster...

"Every year you know they'll probably lose, but every year they suck you back in, and every year they crush you like a tiny bug," said 25-year-old Aric Egmont, summing up the angst of being a Red Sox fan.


"I try to quit, and they suck me back in..."

"It was fun, but what a rough way to go out," he said.

DAMN YANKEES, 'BAMBINO' CURSE

"Damn Yankees!" screamed Friday's front-page headline in the Boston Herald next to a photo of two Red Sox players -- their heads hung in defeat.

Callers to talk radio stations and workers on coffee breaks berated Red Sox skipper Grady Little's decision to keep ace pitcher Pedro Martinez in the game in the eighth inning.


Even I picked up on that, for what it's worth. You have a suddenly awesome bullpen but you won't pull a guy who's given up three, then four hits in a row?

But lurking in the back of many fans' minds was the realization that the "Curse of the Bambino" had struck again.

What else but the curse, they asked, could account for the decision to keep Martinez in the game? What else but the curse could explain how the Red Sox squandered a three-run lead with only five outs left?


Uh, Little not pulling Martinez in the 8th inning?

Fingers across New England pointed once again at George Herman Ruth, the epic slugger also known as "The Babe" and "The Bambino" who played for the Red Sox until he was sold to the New York Yankees after the 1919 season.

The Yankees, who had not won a World Series before Ruth arrived, went on to win 26 championships compared to zero for Boston -- spelling misery for generations of Red Sox fans and fueling one of the greatest rivalries in sporting history.

Among the new wave of believers in the curse was Amanda Melgaard, a 26-year-old Atlanta native who became a Red Sox fan this year when she moved to Boston.

"Having seen that game, I do believe in the curse," she said. "We're a better team; we just couldn't pull it out."


Heretic! You must pay for your insolence!"

Josh Dannenberg, a 23-year-old architect, said if there is a silver lining in the Red Sox loss, it is that he will finally be able to get his life back in order after weeks of pennant fever.

"I've definitely been a victim of Red Sox jitters -- I haven't been able to sit still during the day," he said. "Now I can finally get some sleep."


 
Yo, H.D.S

Here's the modern-day Salem Witch Trial, now nearing its final phase. How did you miss this one, don't read your own newspaper?

Gerald 'Tooky' Amirault, at center of abuse scandal, granted parole

By Jennifer Peter, Associated Press, 10/17/2003

Chronology of Fells Acres case

BOSTON Gerald "Tooky" Amirault, convicted of raping eight children in one of the nation's most lurid and bitterly disputed child abuse cases, has been granted parole and could go free next spring after nearly two decades in prison.

Amirault, 49, who was convicted in 1986 of molesting and raping the children at the family-run Fells Acres day care center in Malden, will not be released until at least April 2004, said Sgt. Edward Principe, a spokesman for the state Public Safety Department.


I mean, why rush things? The trial itself was only the longest jury trial in the state's history. Take your time, make sure more 'justice' is served...

"It's been a long, long time. It's been very difficult, but his innocence is what gave us strength to fight this through many battles," Amirault's wife, Patti, said at a news conference. "It's time to put this whole thing to rest for both sides and let everyone get on with their lives."

Asked what she would say to people who still doubt her husband's innocence, she said, "I don't say anything. Everyone has a right to their own opinion. We know the truth and we leave it at that."


You should have shoved this into their faces.

Amirault's sister, Cheryl Amirault LeFave, and his late mother, Violet Amirault, were convicted in a separate trial. The case came to symbolize changing attitudes toward the mass prosecution of child sex abuse cases.

Amirault was deprived of the best years of his life thanks to L. Scott Harshbarger given a 30- to 40-year sentence. The state Board of Pardons recommended in July 2001 that his sentence be commuted, but then-acting Gov. Jane Swift rejected the recommendation in February 2002.

"I knew it was going to come someday," said Barbara Standke, 47, of Tewksbury, whose son, Brian Martinello, was one of the victims. "The parole officer told me he would have to stay away from children, and at this point I guess that's all we can ask for. But it's not going to help my son any."


More likely that Gerald Amirault will be repulsed by them.

In its decision, dated Thursday, the parole board noted that Amirault has already served a lengthy prison term, has strong support from his family and the community, and a minimal prior criminal history.


Care to describe 'minimal'? Speeding / parking tickets, perhaps?

"Although Mr. Amirault stands convicted of serious offenses, it appears that justice has been served by his seventeen years of incarceration," the board said in its written decision.


Whitewash.

Under the board's decision, the earliest Amirault could be released is April 30.

"After all these years, he needs to be home with his wife and children," said his attorney, Jamie Sultan. "We've made a giant step in that direction today."


One giant leap for mankind. Not.

As required by law, Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley has six months to decide whether to file a petition seeking Amirault's civil commitment as a sexually dangerous person. Spokeswoman Emily LaGrassa said planned to review his prison records before making that decision.


So even when he's released, he'll have the pleasure of wearing forevermore the Scarlet R.

"It's not a question of continued punishment for his past conviction," she said. "It's a question of whether or not he's a dangerous person in the future."


Like I said, it's a whitewash. If he was truly guilty you wouldn't even be entertaining the thought of releasing him, right? Based on the most outrageous of evidence he was railroaded into jail for almost two decades. Absolutely fucking disgusting behavior on our elected official's part.

LaGrassa also said Coakley had submitted a letter to the board arguing against Amirault's parole.


Written years ago in anticipation of such an event.

"We're disappointed," she said, "but it's the parole board's decision to make."


"We're not interested in justice, just convictions."

Former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, who was Middlesex DA when the case was prosecuted, said he was disappointed but respected the parole board's role as an independent body.


If there's a hell, its fires await you, Mr. Harshbarger. And a woman named Janet Reno.

"My concern, however, remains with the victims, the many victims, who I hope can also handle and understand that this is not in any way an exoneration," Harshbarger said.

Gov. Mitt Romney said he had no power to change the parole board's decision.

"I can only hope that those who reviewed this case thoroughly ... have used that information properly, effectively, and come to the right decision," Romney said.


Great, Romney wimps out like Jane Swift did a few years ago. This is one hot political potato.

LeFave and Violet Amirault were freed in 1995 on appeal after claiming they were denied the right to confront their child accusers. Violet Amirault died in 1997, nearly two years before the Supreme Judicial Court reinstated her conviction.


Claiming? Do you think this basic Constitutional right was granted to Gerald? Me neither.

In 1998, Superior Court Judge Isaac Borenstein ordered another trial for LeFave, saying new research showed prosecutors' suggestive and leading interview techniques made it impossible to tell if the children, by then teenagers, were telling the truth.


Stating the fucking obvious, even from a few years back...

The children had testified that Violet slaughtered bluebirds, cut the leg off a squirrel and tied a naked boy to a tree in front of the school while all the teachers and children watched. That evidence was never corroborated. (emphasis added - Ed.)

After several more appeals, LeFave was released permanently in 1999 when the state did not oppose a motion to have her sentence reduced.

A number of mass child abuse convictions from the 1980s have been overturned; the Little Rascals day care center in Edenton, N.C., and the McMartin Preschool in Los Angeles were among the most notorious.

The Amiraults said they were victims of sex abuse hysteria that swept the country in the 1980s and questionable testimony from child witnesses.

A juror in the Fells Acres case once wrote to the parole board, saying he was convinced that Gerald Amirault was innocent. "I think my jury was misled and did not hear all the evidence."

After the parole board recommended Gerald Amirault's commutation, the victims, now adults, identified themselves for the first time and stood by their testimony.

"This family raped me, molested me and totally ruined my life," said Jennifer Bennett, who was 3½ years old when she started attending Fells Acres.

The families of the eight children who testified in the child abuse cases and eight who did not were awarded $20 million in civil settlements.


The witch hunting bastards in these trials used the children as cover by preventing them from testifying on the basis of them being children. I mean, who's really going to believe a story about tying a naked boy to a tree outside the day care center and not a single person can testify to it on the witness stand?

A few minutes ago I got off the phone from a police association from Tewksbury asking me for money. I asked him about the case. His response - "It sucks". I canned the call after that remark, being in mid-rage and all.

Where's the real modern day Salem Witch Trial, Mr. H.D.S. Greenway? Have you no clue?


 
Livin' In The Past

The Boston Globe's pretentiously named H.D.S. Greenway (what do you call him? H?) makes a rather tenuous connection between the United States' fight against terrorism and the Salem witch trials. Nice touch.

Will the US one day regret its post-9/11 excesses?

By H.D.S. Greenway, 10/17/2003

WHEN AMERICA entered World War I in 1917, German-Americans were hounded and sometimes beaten as the country succumbed to an anti-German hysteria that would have been unthinkable only a few months before.


Sometimes beaten would be different from, say, Kristallnacht, where many Jews were beaten and killed, their shops and homes burned to the ground.

When World War II came along, even such a towering liberal as Franklin Roosevelt sent innocent Japanese-Americans into concentration camps, and the Supreme Court approved it.


Bet that revelation's just killing you, H.D.S.

When the Cold War was at its height, the infamous Senator Joseph McCarthy ranted, raved, and ruined many a career in the name of anticommunism in an era that Lillian Hellman called "scoundrel time."


Forgot about Dashiell Hammett already? Or was that a 'convenient' omission?

During the Cold War the United States took actions overseas, such as the CIA coup that overthrew an Iranian leader, Mohammed Mossedegh, who was not anti-American, for no other reason than that if he failed the communists might fill the vacuum. We bombed Guatemala City and forced a leftist government out because of fear of communism,


<*cough*>Monroe Doctrine<*cough*>...

and years later we organized the overthrow of the Chilean government because we thought it might invite in the Reds. Then there was the Cuban Missile Crisis Bay of Pigs. We also overlooked the most appalling faults in foreign leaders as long as they were in our camp, stunting the growth of democracy in many parts of the world.


Don't forget about the Soviets in Angola, Afghanistan, Eastern Europe. Otherwise I'd get the impression that this is a one-sided article...

Looking back, we shake our heads and ask, how could it have happened? How could we have allowed these wrongs to have been carried out in our name?


Looks like we spent a lot of time fighting totalitarian governments in the last century, and now we're fighting a totalitarian ideology, especially with the added burden of being the only country held to the perfection standard. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Nowadays, these nightmares from the past seem as stupid and wrong as the Salem witch trials in 1620, when one Massachusetts community succumbed to fear and hysteria and sentenced 19 people to be hanged for witchcraft and a 20th to be pressed to death by heavy rocks.

That could never happen today, you say. Modern people are not susceptible to the same irrational fears and superstitions that haunted men and women in the 17th century.


That's right, something like widespread fear and hysteria could never happen again in this civilized world of ours, right?

Yet only a little more than two years ago no one would have believed that people could be told to get up from airplane seats they had paid for and leave the aircraft for no other reason than someone on the flight felt uncomfortable having them aboard, usually because of a swarthy complexion.


It has nothing to do with possible possession of box cutters or shoe bombs, I'm sure.

Devil's Island, the former French penal colony in the Caribbean where prisoners were once stashed away forever, is a tourist attraction today. No one visiting those grim, now-empty cells before 9/11 would have believed that the United States of America would one day found its own Devil's Island, Guantanamo, in which prisoners would languish without trial for nobody knows how long. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said that they might stay there for the duration of the war on terrorism, which will probably last a couple of generations at the least. This would mean that they will be incarcerated for life without benefit of trial, if Rumsfeld gets his way. Even the miserables of Devil's Island had a trial.


That's because they were prisoners, oh blind one. Here's how it's determined:

Turban? Check.
Automatic weapon? Check.
Multiple fake ID's / passports? Check.
Recent visit(s) to Afghanistan / Pakistan/ Yemen / Saudi Arabia? Check.
Hide amongst civilians? Check.
Failure to wear a uniform or other identifying insignia that affords you protection under the Geneva Convention as a Prisoner of War? Checkmate.

Next case, please.

Turban: Check...

Recently, Christopher Girod, the senior representative of the International Red Cross in Washington, visited Guantanamo and denounced the situation as unacceptable, which it is. He did not complain about the prisoners' living conditions, which are certainly better than anything Devil's Island ever saw, but he said that "one cannot keep these detainees in this pattern indefinitely," which is exactly what is happening.


They're called Enemy Combatants, Girod. Kindly board the next plane back to Paris. Sit next to that swarthy complexioned fellow near the cockpit.

"Unfortunately, Guantanamo became a rallying point for anti-Americanism," writes James Rubin, an assistant secretary of state in the Clinton administration. "The fact that the United States would not even accept the Geneva Convention in this case . . . showed that the Bush administration really did see itself as above the law of nations," he recently wrote in Foreign Affairs.


That's because the Geneva Convention doesn't apply to these guys. I know there's a Motown group called The Spinners; they must've all gotten jobs in the Clinton Administration.

Ironically, the United States came around to treating prisoners in a manner close to what the Geneva Convention requires, but Rumsfeld's statement that he had not "the slightest concern" about how prisoners would be treated is what everyone overseas remembers.


I have no doubt that, if an American soldier was captured by the Taliban, how humanely he or she would be treated. No doubt at all...

And in the homeland itself Attorney General John Ashcroft seems bent on closing down civil liberties on a broad spectrum, and seems obsessed with putting people to death. Arab-Americans are fearful despite the laudable efforts of President Bush to assure them that our war is not against Islam. But in practice it can look quite different if you are an American Muslim.


Last time I checked, American Muslims weren't being rounded up and shipped off to interment camps. Ashcroft is a good little bogeyman of the left, isn't he?

Yes, of course 9/11 changed America's sense of security. It was only sensible that the government look more closely at who was coming into this country and why.


Kind of the whole fucking point, isn't it? I mean, who really cares if Saudi Arabians get visas to attend flight schools and are only concerned with flying Boeing 767's, not on takeoff and landings?

And most Americans might be willing to give up a bit of privacy for their safety, just as most Americans don't mind going through the bore of increased airport security.


Doesn't this admission kind of destroy half the article?

But there are indications that the United States is yielding to the fear of terrorism as it once did with communism and making huge mistakes that we will look back on one day with head-shaking amazement. Fear is a powerful motivator for repressive and cruel behavior. Let this not be this generation's "scoundrel time."


Some indications. He acknowledges that we're not doing torture or interment camps, that one whiny Frog from the IRC doesn't find things 'acceptable' at Gitmo, that Ashcroft 'seems' to be doing a few oppressive things, and not much else. Another waste of ink for the Boston Globe.

H.D.S. Greenway's column appears regularly in the Globe.

© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


Sunday, October 12, 2003
 
NFL 2003 - 2004, Week 6

Home teams in CAPS:

Was +3
Hou +9.5
DAL Pick
Atl +11

Last week = 3-1

For the year = 10-16-1


Friday, October 10, 2003
 
ExZachly

OK, it's weak, but so is this defense of make work programs.

Budget cuts put public service in peril

By Kemba Gray and Zach Meyer, 10/10/2003

EIGHTY-SEVEN billion dollars is a lot to ask, even for the difficult task of building a democracy in a country that has never had one. Two hundred million dollars? Not as impressive. Well, that's how much money AmeriCorps, the country's premier federally funded national service organization, asked for last year. They didn't get it.


It looks like you got 80 percent of what you asked for. Those cold hearted, mean-spirited Republicans! Will they stop at nothing?

So what? Why should you care?


I don't. Convince me.

City Year is one reason.

City Year is


Boston's answer to CETA, in which I participated between 1978 and 1981. I'm not sure if criticism of a similar program makes me a hypocrite, having benefited from another, since in a sense there was some level of competition (eligibility is a better word) involved, but I had a real job of sorts before the CETA jobs (Boy's Club, Manchester Fire Department) and I got a raise in the process. Just working the system, I suppose.

an AmeriCorps program that strives to improve the nation from within by doing community service in 15 sites across the country. City Year provides services ranging from domestic violence prevention to environmental protection, with the primary focus on teaching underprivileged children how to fight social injustice and "build a beloved community," a term taken from a speech made by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.


All I ever see are groups of the red-jacketed Neo-communists riding around on the T. How do you fight 'social injustice' besides dropping MLK's name?

Think of City Year as the "domestic Peace Corps."


Has success written all over it, doesn't it?

City Year was founded here in Boston in 1988


Where else?

and since then has revitalized more than 3,617 outdoor spaces, worked with more than 364 corporate partners, served more than 772,250 children, and completed more than 10.9 million total hours of service.


Nice job if you can get it; that works out to the average City Year member getting $14.67 per hour of community service. Don't let these clowns fool you, this is not entirely about altruism and fighting 'social injustice', they get paid just like the rest of us.

Whether you know it or not, if you live in Boston (or any of the other places where a City Year site is located), City Year has positively affected you. Maybe you take walks in a park beautified by City Year. Maybe you use a public garden space set up by City Year.


Maybe I bombed through the Common in a stolen cab like Bruce Willis did in "Die Hard With A Vengeance". Rake that mess up for me, will you?

Then again, maybe you know how City Year has affected you. Maybe a City Year corps member is a positive role model and mentor to your child. Maybe you have found a no-cost, enriching place to send your child (City Year for Kids) while you work through school vacations. Maybe City Year helped you recover from an abusive relationship. Or maybe you are one of the thousands of proud City Year alums who during your year of service gained valuable skills and a new perspective on life.


Trying awfully hard to convince me of the innate goodness of City Year with a bunch of hypotheticals.

We are City Year Corps members. We are an 18-year-old white male born and raised in Wayland (that would be Zack, nice white bread name) and a 22-year-old African-American female born and raised in Roxbury (Kemba). Although we have grown up with two different backgrounds, we have joined forces to do national service because we think it is our duty as citizens of the United States.


Wanna serve your country? Join the Marines.

One of us serves on the East Boston team teaching advanced bookmaking skills legbreaking techniques Italian food preparation the "Building a Beloved Community" curriculum to middle school students. The other serves on the environmental initiative team teaching elementary school students in a hands-on outdoor classroom setting, which allows them to experience and appreciate nature, an opportunity that many children in the city wouldn't have without City Year.


Back in the day, we used to call these things field trips. That's your tax dollars at work: Pay more, get less back, rely on socialist outfits like City year to pick up the slack.

Every team at City Year works with kids at an after-school program and completes physical service projects at least once a week. We work 50-hour weeks (and still go to school?) and get paid a living stipend that is the equivalent of about $3 per hour. We are proof that the youth of today do care and are ready to make sacrifices for our country.


Given my above calculation, what happens to the other $11.67 per hour of community service? I wonder how much Alan Khazei is compensated per year? I'm sure he gets a hefty cut of that $5.6 in 'Administrative Expenses'. There's some serious effort to hide a few numbers; look at the "equivalent of about $3 per hour" quote. That's not quite $3 per hour, is it? That's what I used to make twenty-odd years ago.

We both have friends who wanted to serve in City Year but couldn't because of the cuts in funding.


"Real jobs suck! They make you work and stuff."

As a result of these cuts, this year's corps has 60 fewer members than last year, a cut of 37.5 percent. Keep in mind that City Year is just one of more than 1,000 AmeriCorps organizations, many of which got shut down entirely.


"Oh no, now we have to compete in the DREADED PRIVATE SECTOR!!"

As City Year Corps members, we constantly keep in mind the lives of children, who will be leading our country in the near future. We are planting seeds in the young so that when they grow they can be leaders and role models for the subsequent generation. Our funding has been cut, and while these cuts have been devastating, we are still striving for excellence and striving to make a difference.


"So please donate generously today!"

This is an important year for City Year and AmeriCorps as a whole. We must and will prove that national service is an important component to building a stronger, more ideal community.

Kemba Gray and Zach Meyer are City Year members who live in Boston.


Here's a question: How does Zack, "born and raised in Wayland", who gets paid "a living stipend that is the equivalent of about $3 per hour", able to "live in Boston" unless he's mooching off someone? To me, this editorial is either sloppy or dishonest. Take your pick.

© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


Thursday, October 09, 2003
 
Failure Is Not An Option

Not the best Ahnold quote (ok, it wasn't an Ahnold quote, but it was in True Lies by that dipshit car salesman) , but it fits Kuttner's latest attack on democracy perfectly (sorry, lost the link, which expires in two weeks in any event).

California's failed reform

By Robert Kuttner, 10/8/2003

TRENDS AND FADS often start in California, and that thought should terrify anyone who cares about a functioning democracy. Yesterday's recall election is history's ironic revenge on a well-intentioned but failed set of reforms championed by the Golden State's great progressive governor, Hiram Johnson. Johnson's liberals Progressives, beginning in 1911, enacted the populist measures beloved by that generation of reformers -- the ballot initiative, the recall, and nonpartisan local elections. Johnson was a crusader against monopolies. He imagined that giving government back to the people would purge politics of the corruption of moneyed interests.

But in practice these reforms have paralyzed government, leading to cycles of ever-greater voter frustration and ever-nuttier remedies.


In other words, the reforms by Kuttner's newfound hero, Hiram Johnson, failed. That's par for the course for most liberal ideas.

Direct democracy has also enabled organized right-wingers to stampede a vulnerable middle class. In that respect, even the faintest Hitler reference is doubly chilling.


Godwin's Law, first invoked in this column by Kuttner. And damn those right-wingers! This should end the debate, but...

How to wreck democracy: Have the sitting Governor lie about the state's finances until after the election Have voters choose among 130 candidates in a circus atmosphere, with the recalled loser not very likely outpolling the winner. In this setting, anything is possible. A narcissistic body builder and recidivist groper of women can be viewed as a fiscal savior. Government itself becomes a sideshow.


No slander too great for Robert Kuttner, is it? First he violates Godwin's Law, then by using the word recidivist, by one definition thereof he tries to imply that Schwarzenegger is a criminal. But when you run out of arguments, just start slinging mud. It used to work for Gray Davis, until yesterday.

The Great Recall of 2003 completes a cycle begun 25 years ago with the Great Tax Revolt, Proposition 13. Both Proposition 13 and the recall election illustrate the fatal flaws in direct democracy. Term limits, bestowed by another ballot initiative, have only made the state Legislature far more dependent on permanent lobbyists, who have no such limits.


Truth be told, Kuttner hates both measures because Proposition 13 denied additional tax revenue to his holiest of shrines, Big Government. He feigns hatred at the recall because a Big Spending DemocRATTM got booted out on his ass.

The tax revolt of 1978 is often depicted as a rebellion against big government, but it didn't start out that way. Mainly, voters wanted fairer taxes.


'fairer taxes' = insert "tax the rich" rhetoric any minute now...

The inflation of the 1970s had produced rising property valubes (sic). Those, in turn, spiked property taxes.


Spike your proofreader instead.

Because California has a clusterfuck complex system of special local taxing districts, it was hard to coordinate a cut in tax rates to offset the higher property values. Homeowners simply got socked with rising tax bills.


I've seen California sales tax returns. They're a fucking nightmare to comply with. Ever talk about that angle, Bob?

Only the governor and the Legislature could fix the problem,


Which contradicts his argument about the evils of direct democracy...

but then-Governor Jerry Brown dithered just like Gray Davis did. Instead of changing the rules and keeping property taxes within reasonable bounds, Brown opportunistically used the tax windfall to reduce local aid and to bank a huge surplus. Instead of using that surplus for tax relief, he used it to burnish his reputation as a fiscal conservative, in anticipation of a presidential run.

The voters, disgusted with the political deadlock and worried about being taxed out of their homes, approved a radical and badly flawed remedy, Proposition 13. By drastically limiting the property tax and locking in low taxes for property owners as long as they didn't move, Proposition 13 both hamstrung government and worsened tax inequities. New homeowners in small bungalows often pay higher property taxes than millionaires who've lived in their mansions for three decades.

The passage of Proposition 13 set California on a long slide, from the state with the best public schools, community colleges, highway systems, and public health clinics, to the one with the worst. In the 1950s and 1960s, when its population was soaring, California was a showcase of a vibrant economy public services. By the 1990s, thanks to Proposition 13, it ranked with Mississippi.


No mention of Democratic dominance by the Legislature, natch. Here's a good rundown on Proposition 13's impact, which also serves to rebut nearly every bogus argument Kuttner makes against it.

This was not the outcome voters wanted. Mainly, they wanted a fairer tax system. But Proposition 13 set in motion a vicious circle of deepening voter frustration and more drastic remedies that kept backfiring and worsening the discontent.

The raw voter frustrations had no coherent ideology. The same angry electorate that supported nativist initiatives could toss out a governor, Pete Wilson, for being anti-Hispanic. California's citizens could vote to hamstring tax collections, but also approve an expensive drug-treatment initiative.

Now we have come full circle. Gray Davis is a dismally inept politician, but no politician could have solved California's budget mess without grasping the nettle and repealing Proposition 13.


Sure he could have. 1) Stop spending taxpayer money you don't have (see the above link to Prop. 13 - spending soared, nearly doubling between 1990 and 2001.) and 2) don't sign long-term contracts for electricity just before prices drop, leaving you on the hook for billions. Kuttner's being hugely disingenuous pinning all of this on the passing of an event (Proposition 13) that happened twenty-five years ago. Like the overspending of state governments in the 1990's, history does repeat itself and I have no pity whatsoever for those politicians who ignore its lessons.

It is also fitting that this mess happened on Davis's watch. Davis began his political career as chief of staff to the same Jerry Brown. He epitomizes the familiar blend of opportunism, smugness, and fatal caution that afflicted Brown. Just as Brown's failure of leadership made Proposition 13 inevitable, Davis's failure to tackle the deeper structural causes of California's budget crisis set up Davis as the scapegoat.


Doesn't 'scapegoat' imply that you're being blamed for something you had nothing to do with? Looks to me like gray Davis screwed this up all by his lonesome.

So, in a sense, Hiram Johnson had a point. If elected officials want to keep the confidence of voters, they had better get serious about addressing real problems.


You don't say?

Unfortunately, Johnson's remedy is allowing disgusted voters to wreck democracy itself. California will be a long time digging out. Neither party should take any comfort.


Nope, can't have them damned voters passing tax cuts 'wrecking democracy', can we?

Robert Kuttner's is co-editor of The American Prospect. His column appears regularly in the Globe.

© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.


Saturday, October 04, 2003
 
NFL 2003 - 2004, Week 5

Home teams in CAPS:

Sea +2
Was +5.5
Cle +7
Ind +4

Last week = 3-3

For the year = 7-15-1


Friday, October 03, 2003
 
Captain Hairdo Update

Let's just admit that nominees for the federal courts are all about ideology, OK?

Kerry warns against Bush majority on the Supreme Court

By Nedra Pickler, Associated Press, 10/3/2003 13:24

WASHINGTON (AP) Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry raised concerns on Friday that a second term for President Bush would lead to the appointment of conservative Supreme Court justices who would set back civil rights in America.


And this is bad, because?

In a speech to the National Council of Negro Women,


That explains a lot...

Kerry noted that six of the nine justices on the court will be over 70 by the end of the next term. He said it's likely some will retire, giving the president elected next year the power to appoint a new majority.


Setting off battles the likes of which have never been seen in the Senate.

He said Bush has demonstrated ''an unwavering commitment to refashioning the court in the ideological image of the far right.''


Massive increases in federal spending. Yep, that's far to the right.

''He's made judicial nominations red meat for the right wing, hoping the rest of the people aren't paying attention,'' he said three days before the court opens a new term.


"And us DemocRATS have held up extremists like Charles Pickering for over two years. No need to worry."

Kerry said a Bush majority on the court could mean restrictions on affirmative action, hate crimes, abortion rights, the right to privacy and voting rights.

''If I am elected president, I will appoint justices with a broad understanding of American life today without drawing from any ideology, for the sake of ideology, people who have a commitment to diversity, fairness and equality,'' he said.


No ideology here, eh?

Kerry, a French looking Massachusetts senator who by the way served in Vietnam, repeated his pledge to attempt to block the nomination of any Supreme court nominee who would threaten those rights.

Democrats already have filibustered three of President Bush's nominees, one of whom dropped out after the GOP failed to break the blockade, and are threatening to filibuster a fourth.


I'm not looking forward to this battle escalating, but I do hope the Republicans on the Judiciary committee grow a set of balls, and fast.

On the Net:

http://www.johnkerry.com



 
Gee, Couldn't See This One Coming

Professional race-baiter / Angry Black ColumnistTM Derrick Z. Jackson weighs in on the Rush Limbaugh situation in his trademark 'make a mountain out a molehill' fashion.

Rush was wrong from the get-go

By Derrick Z. Jackson, 10/3/2003

IT WAS NOT Rush Limbaugh who choked. It was ESPN and Disney. Limbaugh said only what his venomous mind was capable of thinking. He did not survive even the first quarter of the National Football League season. In a discussion on ESPN's "NFL Sunday Countdown" on why Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was off to a slow start this year, Limbaugh turned McNabb into a fraudulent affirmative action hire.


Which is as easy a 'Bullshit!' call as anyone can make. Read the actual quote:

"I don't think he's been that good from the get-go," Limbaugh said. "I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. They're interested in black coaches and black quarterbacks doing well. I think there's a little hope invested in McNabb and he got a lot of credit for the performance of his team that he really didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."


Any explicit or implicit mention of affirmative action there? I didn't think so. Here's another question I would love to hear an honest answer for - Does the media go out of its way to hype NFL quarterbacks and coaches who are black? Rich Lowry thinks so.

By the way, Derrick, Michael Irvin said during that exchange, "Rush has a point". Should Irvin get the ax too?

The resulting protest from self-righteous liberals carried Limbaugh right out of ESPN's booth. He can now go back to fanning ignorance and hate on his own radio talk show. Political pages are not normally the place to get into sports statistics, but even the most rudimentary rundown renders Limbaugh either paranoid, crazy, or both.


Rhetorical question - Is it 'hate' or 'racist' to opine that a player is overrated? Of course it is - when the player is black and the guy doing the criticizing is white. Remember this quote from Isaiah Thomas?

"If Bird was black, he'd be just another good guy," said Thomas after Boston won the seven-game series. He didn't get much support from other players.


Nor did he get raked over the coals by the press. No double standards here...

McNabb led the Eagles to within one game of the Super Bowl in each of the last two seasons. In 2000, he finished second in the league's Most Valuable Player voting by the Associated Press. He has been to the postseason Pro Bowl for the league's all-stars three times. In one game last season, McNabb broke his ankle on the third play. Thinking it was only a sprain, he completed 20 of 25 passes for 255 yards and four touchdowns before sitting out for six weeks.


And how's he doing recently?

Even a slavemaster would have been impressed with the content of McNabb's character. Not so on the Limbaugh plantation. Even though McNabb holds the NFL's third-best winning percentage among active starting quarterbacks, all Limbaugh can see is the color of the quarterback's skin. All Limbaugh can see is a mediocre black man. Limbaugh could not resist using the whip.


Is somebody feeling oppressed here?

That is no surprise, given that Limbaugh has dropped such gems on the American public as once telling a black listener to take a bone out of his nose and declaring that a Mexican won the New York Marathon because an immigration agent chased him for the last 10 miles. The surprise all along was that ESPN, which is owned by Disney, was so willing to throw a race card into a realm of American culture that has achieved a peculiar universal popularity.


So Rush Limbaugh said three offensive things during a thirty year span in public broadcasting. Three more than Derrick Z. Jackson approves of, naturally.

In this age of segregated sitcoms, Monday Night Football, which runs on another Disney property, ABC, was the only prime-time television show on the top 10 list of both white and African-American viewers in the 1999-2000 season according to Nielsen Media Research. In last week's Nielsen ratings, Monday Night Football was one of only three shows in the top 10 for both African-American and white viewers.


And your point is?

That is part of an overall trend of universal popularity. A recent Harris Poll found that for the first time, more than twice as many Americans, 29 percent, named pro football rather than baseball (13 percent) as their favorite sport. The poll found that pro football was the favorite sport of 32 percent of white respondents and 31 percent of African-American respondents.

There is plenty that remains wrong in the NFL. Only 10 percent of the head coaches are African-American in a sport where the players are 70 percent African-American. But part of its equal popularity surely is because the position of quarterback has increasingly become one where African-Americans are welcome.


I have my doubts about that last assertion. I think you'd have to look at similar polls in the past and compare them, but that would sidetrack Derrick's rant against Whitey Rush Limbaugh.

Whereas 16 seasons ago, Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams had to listen to a reporter start a question by saying, "You've been a black quarterback all your life," today's African-American quarterbacks can run for their lives with significantly less worry than yesterday that reviews of their performance are dragged down by the undertow of racist stereotypes.


Again, where's the racism in stating that the media wish black quarterbacks to do well?

That progress was not enough for ESPN, which was so desperate to seek a ratings edge with white males, it was willing to sacrifice the sensitivity of African-American viewers. Until the pressure for Limbaugh to resign became too much to ignore, there was either silence or defense of Limbaugh from the hallways of ESPN.


Derrick offers not a shred of evidence that ESPN "was so desperate to seek a ratings edge with white males"; he's just pulling more things out from his nether regions. The more plausible explanation is that "Rush Limbaugh = Controversy", a guaranteed ratings boost.

Chris Berman, the anchor of "Sunday Countdown," said "I don't think Rush was malicious in intent or in tone." ESPN spokesman Dave Nagle said, "ESPN hired Limbaugh for his passion and his ability to express opinion and spark debate as a football fan. In just one month, he has certainly delivered." Limbaugh sure did deliver. He delivered one more reason why he himself was never so good from the get-go.


Neither was Jayson Blair.

Derrick Z. Jackson's e-mail address is jackson@globe.com.

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