Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sr. (1932-2009)

"In his honor and as a tribute to his commitment to his ideals, let us stop the shouting and name calling and have a civilized debate on health care reform which I hope, when legislation has been signed into law, will bear his name for his commitment to insuring the health of every American."

- Sen. Robert Byrd (D-West Virgina)

Health Care Reform and the Political Landscape

I'm going to cut to the case: I'm dismayed at how the White House has failed to both sell this health care reform to the American people, and deliver the change in this particular matter that the American people want. Garnering bipartisan support has not only failed but is utterly unobtainable: a continuation of the status quo is what the pharma-owned GOP and "Blue Dog" Dems want. Period.

Unless, as some have suggested, the President has been sagely playing the bipartisan card so that he can later approach the country with "Hey, I tried with these people but I'm gonna have to do it my way or the highway" I'm utterly disappointed in his lack of firm conviction on this issue. But I'm hopeful: as we all know, Chicago politics ain’t no walk in the park. And it’s inconceivable to me that someone who merely a decade ago was just an Illinois State Senator–regardless of how smart and talented they may be–would reach the highest public office without breaking a few legs, figuratively speaking. I would be utterly joyful if he ended up taking this approach. We need some of that right now.

As for the future political landscape, the power of the Hispanic vote has been much bandied about. Because of much cultural, religious and social common ground Hispanics in general should be a natural GOP constituency. But they've acted like stereotypical Dems on this one by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. As for Miami in particular–for decades home of a powerful Cuban exile community and their unwavering support of the Republican party–two things have alerted me to a shift in the political landscape there: conversations with young Hispanic residents/activists in the area confirming that an ideological transformation has been brewing, in no small part due to rising political figures of other-than-Cuban origin and the aging of the aforementioned rabid exiles; and Obama's election win in South Florida.

If their "brand"–oh, how I loathe that word in its newfangled adopted usage–hadn't been so damaged by Shrub, trotting out the brown side of the Bush family could've helped the GOP gain some ground with Hispanics. Alas, that is, thankfully, not the case. For now. The GOP is currently down on its luck across the board, but no one should ever make the foolish mistake of counting them out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Frum Outs Conservative Hate Mongers

Once in a blue moon--or so it seems these days--a reasonable conservative pundit rises above the din of wingnut lunacy. Unfortunately, it increasingly happens to be the same one: former George W. Bush advisor, author David Frum, states the following in a recent column:

It's not enough for conservatives to repudiate violence, as some are belatedly beginning to do. We have to tone down the militant and accusatory rhetoric. If Barack Obama really were a fascist, really were a Nazi, really did plan death panels to kill the old and infirm, really did contemplate overthrowing the American constitutional republic—if he were those things, somebody should shoot him.

But he is not. He is an ambitious, liberal president who is spending too much money and emitting too much debt. His health-care ideas are too over-reaching and his climate plans are too interventionist. The president can be met and bested on the field of reason—but only by people who are themselves reasonable.

Agree with his political viewpoints or not, but the man is no imbecile. If there were more like him making their presence felt there could be a coherent, sensible, rational debate on the issues. Instead we have, as Frum himself lists...

The Nazi comparisons from Rush Limbaugh; broadcaster Mark Levin asserting that President Obama is "literally at war with the American people"; former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin claiming that the president was planning "death panels" to extirpate the aged and disabled; the charges that the president is a fascist, a socialist, a Marxist, an illegitimate Kenyan fraud, that he "harbors a deep resentment of America," that he feels a "deep-seated hatred of white people," that his government is preparing concentration camps, that it is operating snitch lines, that it is planning to wipe away American liberties": All this hysterical and provocative talk invites, incites, and prepares a prefabricated justification for violence.

And indeed some conservative broadcasters are lovingly anticipating just such an outcome.

Here's Fox News' Glenn Beck clucking sympathetically that white males are being driven into murderous rage by "political correctness."

Here again is Beck chuckling as he play-acts the poisoning of Nancy Pelosi.

Just yesterday, the radio host Sean Hannity openly contemplated violence—and primly tut-tutted that if it occurs, the president will have only himself to blame.

So, is this inflammatory talk politically or financially motivated? Funny you should ask.

Hyperbolic accusation and fantasy murder may well serve a talk-radio industry facing a collapse in advertising revenues—down 30–40 percent over the past two years, reports NewMajority.com's Tim Mak.

As revenues dwindle, hosts feel compelled to intensify the talk-radio experience, hoping to win larger audience share with more extreme talk. It's like the early days of the pornography industry: At first a naked woman is thrilling enough, but soon a jaded audience is demanding more and more, wilder and wilder.

For the radio hosts, it's all mostly a cynical marketing exercise. But the audience? Not all of them know better.

No, they don't. And therein lies the danger. God help us.

...and speaking of violent reactions

Gotham Notes has a disturbing post about teabagger, and Boise County, Idaho GOP chairman Charles McAffee pulling a loaded gun on an unarmed, and behind on his mortgage homeowner, on whose property McAfee was trespassing, under the auspices of Wells Fargo.

Some scary shit.

Am I the Only One Who Thinks...

...the credibility of NBC's Meet the Press died with Tim Russert?

All I can think of when I see the pathetic job the show's current host, political hack Dave Gregory, is doing can be summed up with "heck of a job, Brownie."

The Genius of the Great Craig T. Nelson


"Where was government when I was on welfare and food stamps?"

- The master thespian and star of the ground-breaking sitcom Coach, on fellow brilliant mind Glenn Beck's show, May 28th, 2009.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tom Ridge: Too Little, Too Late?

A simple question: If it is true that former head of Homeland Security Tom Ridge was told to heighten terror alerts in order to help the Bush administration win a second term AND he felt this was cause to resign, why did he not step down until AFTER the 2004 election?

By the way, even if this public malfeasance can be proven, nothing will come of it. (Keith Olbermann has been exploring this subject for years now; I doubt they'll even mention it over at Fox.) Just one more thing Shrub and co. will have gotten away with.

It's About that Time (the coundown): 41

I am no fan of the summertime. Not one bit.

Were it not for baseball and cleavage, it would simply be three months of torturous hell with the appropriate climate to go along with it. But since this year the season has been mostly rainy and/or mild here in NYC, I have not been one to complain.

Until now.

After numerous days of 90 degree weather and the attendant misery-inducing humidity that has accompanied it—not to mention the high electrical bills that are the norm for this time of year—the moment has come to embark on the yearly ritual of initiating my “__ Days ‘til October” countdown. (Watching recent Yankees away games played in Seattle and Oakland, respectively, where it is in the mid to high 60s and humidity is practically non-existent, has not helped my foul, heat-induced mood.)

To say that I long for the passing of three-shower days, and evenings when it is no longer 80 degrees after sundown, is the grandest of understatements. As any fan of crisp autumn nights; choosing appropriate clothing based on the occasion and not the weather; and post-season baseball knows, it’s all about October.

And so, dear friends, the magic number is now 41.

Stay cool and hydrated.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's a Start...

I have been wondering why there hasn't been more of an outcry from Jewish-Americans over the disgusting comparisons made between Obama and Hitler during the debate over healthcare reform.

It's incredibly despicable, not to mention purely ignorant, to make these analogies yet those who one would assume would be the most offended have rarely been heard from. Perhaps they are afraid of some sort of nasty retribution, and rightfully so. But their, for the most part, silence on the matter has been deafening.

The gentleman below, an Israeli living here in the US, is seen voicing his opinion on healthcare reform when a female bystander yells "Heil, Hitler!" at him in plain view. Her disrespect towards him continues even after he confronts this woman; a palpable example of the mentality behind these slanders and lunatic outbursts. Let's hope Jewish-Americans will follow his example and not let these assholes continue to spew their hateful nonsense with impugnity.

Baseball's Permanent Bailout

That old chestnut 'the big market baseball teams--Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Mets, Cubs, etc--with all their financial resources, leave the small-market teams high and dry and with no true chance of competing' is bandied about with increasing regularity. But what's rarely brought up is how much of the MLB revenue sharing pie the small market teams actually get and how, for the most part, they fail to invest in their baseball operations with that free money. Take the fire-sale happy Pittsburgh Pirates for example:

“Last year, the Pirates are believed to have received a revenue-sharing check of $27 million from MLB, based on figures leaked to the Wall Street Journal,’’ [former Pirates public relations manager, Pittsburgh resident and producer for both ESPN and TBS, Ben] Bouma writes.

“They receive close to $35 million from the national TV contracts. That is $62 million before anyone buys a ticket, sets foot in PNC Park on Opening Day and buys a hot dog, or watches or listens to a game on local TV and radio. Not to mention what they will receive from MLB for the MLB Network and MLB.com/MLB.TV and Extra Innings packages. On top of this, they let go many front-office people [some with 20 years of service] earlier this season.

“This is no longer a problem of ‘how baseball is structured’ any longer. This is both fundamentally and ethically wrong...It is high time this [ownership] group is held accountable for the complete mismanagement of the franchise as their excuses have run out.’’

No wonder the big market team owners are complaining...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Well, He is a Song and Dance Man, After All...

AP:

NEW YORK – Former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay will join 15 celebrities from the worlds of entertainment and sports in kicking up their heels on the new season of "Dancing With the Stars.

Other hopefuls include entertainer Donny Osmond; singers Mya, Macy Gray and Aaron Carter; actors Melissa Joan Hart, Debi Mazar and Ashley Hamilton (son of George); models Joanna Krupa and Kathy Ireland; reality stars Kelly Osbourne and Mark Dacascos ("the Chairman" on Food Network's "Iron Chef America"); mixed martial artist Chuck Liddell; professional snowboarder Louie Vito; Olympic swimmer Natalie Coughlin; former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin and the 62-year-old former congressman from Texas.

The ninth season of the hit ABC show premieres Sept. 21.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How 'Bout a Slice?

To put it in the most simplistic of terms, everyone involved in the healthcare reform debate--insurers, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, patients, small business owners, etc. etc. etc.--is validly or not decrying how much of the pie they may have to relinquish. Meanwhile, the almost 50 million of us without health insurance haven't got so much as a bite. Think about it.

As for the ignorant, Fox News-fed protesters who have no clue what they are actually protesting, this quote from Bill Maher pretty much sums it up:

"At a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to 'keep your government hands off my Medicare,' which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways."

Monday, August 10, 2009

Boston Massacre (2009 edition)


[photo of Mark Teixeira courtesy of Barton Silverman/NY Times]

The Bronx is burning but in the most beautiful of ways.

What a weekend: the calendar may have read August but it felt
like October playoffs in The House That George Built. Oh, yes.

After the ignominy of going 0-8 this season against the Red Sux, the Yankees finally got that monkey off their backs Thursday night and won their first of four in the Bronx against their dreaded Boston rivals, who sent the sure-fire Hall of Famer John Smoltz to the mound in what was very likely his disastrous farewell from the game.
(The former Braves great was designated for assignment the next day.) Joba Chamberlain did not have the stuff of his 3 previous most excellent starts but, thankfully, the Bronx Bombers showed up and promptly handed the Sux a loud 13-6 defeat.

Friday night’s Duel of the Former Floridians, ex-Marlins pitchers Josh Beckett for the Sux and A.J. Burnett for the home team, turned out to be even better than anticipated. Both hurlers were indeed masterful for 7 and 7 2/3 scoreless innings, respectively, and set the stage for a thrilling 5 and a half hour contest that remained scoreless until a 2-run shot from A-Rod in the bottom of the 15th mercifully ended it all on a 2-0 score.

The Sux’s Clay Buckholz did a respectable job, but Saturday afternoon’s game was all about The Big Man, CC Sabathia, who along with Burnett the day before, showed all of NY why they get paid the big bucks. Absolutely superb, he was. Yankees win 5-0.

On Sunday, in the hours leading to the final game—televised by ESPN—the YES Network offered up two favorite Yankee Classics:

"The Bucky Dent Game" (Oct. 1, 1978) and "The John Flaherty Game" (July 1, 2004), as they are respectively known to Yankee fans for the heroics of both former Yankees against the Red Sux. (The latter is also memorable for Derek Jeter's bloody game-saving leap into the stands.) Just getting the fans pumped up for the sweep, right?

The last time Yankee pitching had deigned to allow a run in this series—earned or otherwise—was in the 9th inning of Thursday’s series opener. Well, for 7 more innings Andy Pettite saw to it that the zeroes remained intact until newly acquired Sux C/1B Victor Martinez crushed a 2-run bomb against Yankee reliever Phil Coke in the 8th, ending the Sux’s drought of 31 consecutive scoreless innings.

In the bottom of the 8th, losing 2-1—the lone Yankee run a blast from Friday night’s hero, A-Rod, in the 7th—the Comeback Kids got right back into the game thanks to back-to-back homers from Johnny Damon and Mark Teixeira—for the sixth time this season; a new Yankees record—and subsequently adding 2 more runs for a 5-2 victory and Mariano Rivera’s 32nd save of the year.

To paraphrase the great Jackie Gleason, how sweep it is!

There’s still some 50-odd games left for the Yankees but it’s not a bad idea to stop and smell the sweet aroma of what they have accomplished at this moment:

- a 6.5 game lead over the second place Red Sux
- the best record in all of baseball both at home (39-17) and overall (69-42)
- 7 consecutive wins


I have really enjoyed watching this team and the contagious nature of its current vibe. (To witness Melky Cabrera, Robinson CanĂ³ and Nick Swisher dance in the dugout after the Damon-Tex one-two punch in the 8th inning of Sunday night’s game just says it all.)
And of late, both Mo and manager Joe Girardi have compared the current Yankee roster to the championship dynasty of the late '90s. Sweet.

Man, I haven’t been this happy since the 5-game Boston Massacre of 2006 at Fenway. (The late Cory Lidle—RIP—pitched 6 scoreless innings in the final game of that series.) It sure feels good to be a fan of the pinstripes right about now, I must say.

PS: Anything from David Ortiz—aka "Big Floppy"—regarding his PED use, besides an open apology, is bullshit.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

SNL Gets a Gift

..."Birther Queen" Orly Taitz, who is a walking Saturday Night Live character, possibly played by Chris Kattan, come to life.

- Huffington Post


You may have dodged MSNBC's questions but you might want to respond to this, Orly.
Man, even Ann Coulter and Karl Rove think this woman is out there.

Oh, and yeah, Happy Birthday, Mr. President. Sorry about the birther nonsense.

Healthcare Reform Debate: Rule No.1

- All those bought and paid for by the health/insurance industries, both Democrats and Republicans alike, shall be excluded from any debate and/or decision leading to an outcome.

I mean, hello: conflict of-motherfucking-interest! What do you think?