Friday, October 30, 2009

What If Obama Didn't Need 60 Votes?

We are living through the Californiafication of America--a country in which the combination of a determined minority and a procedural supermajority legislative requirement makes it impossible to rationally address public policy challenges. And thus the Democratic president and his allies in Congress are evaluated on the basis of extreme compromise measures--supplicating to dispassionate Wise Men like Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman, buying Olympia Snowe a vacation home, working bills through 76 committees and countless "procedural" votes--rather than the substantive, policy achievements of bills that would merely require a simple majority to pass.

It is sheer good fortune that the Democrats had 59/60 Senate seats this cycle and thus were able to pass any stimulus at all, albeit the inadequate one they did. Think about it: With a robust 56 Senate Democratic seats, the stimulus would have failed--and otherwise, Galston/Brooks would be talking not about Obama’s "going too far," but, rather, about a "failed Obama presidency." And they would be wrong. What we would be witnessing--and are still witnessing--is a failed system of democratic governance. It’s something procedural liberals should be deeply concerned about and should remedy as quickly as possible.

- from Richard Yeselson's Op-Ed in The New Republic

Let's See How it Feels: Taking Away Health Insurance from GOP Politicians

I have always maintained it is such a dazzling display of hypocrisy and selfishness that Republicans only act on health and social issues when the bad news knocks on their own door, like Nancy Reagan's support of stem-cell research when she thought it could help bring back her dear Ronnie from the brink of Alzheimer's; or then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's desire to reform his state's drug laws only when his pill-popping daughter was caught trying to fraudulently obtain Xanax from a pharmacist. How about Cindy McCain's recent clamoring for substantially more federally-funded migraine research because...she happens to suffer from them? Classic.

But when it comes time to consider those hurting who are outside of their family circle, they vigorously balk at such a thing. For as fellow blogger Xmastime puts it, "extending help to these people would belie their own brave 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps, unless it's ME that needs help, then give me some money' credo. Um, yeah. Exactly.

Xmastime further cites a piece by Salon's Joe Conason, who believes "[e]ven the best of today's Republicans seem to lack [empathy], to say the least. Enjoying the ample blessings of the Federal Employee Health Benefits program and access to the best military hospitals, they're totally insulated from the troubles of those who lack adequate insurance, or any insurance at all.

If the Republican right manages to kill healthcare reform this year, then perhaps some brave Democrat should introduce a new kind of bill -- cutting off every member of Congress from the "public option" that protects them and their families."

Amen.

It's not a new idea, though:
"To show Congress just how serious I am, on the first day of my administration, I will submit legislation that ends health care coverage for the president, all members of Congress, and all senior political appointees in both branches of government on July 20th, 2009 – unless we have passed universal health care reform."
- John Edwards, on the presidential campaign trail, September 2007.

Ah, if only Obama had that kinda fire in his belly...

Daddy Yankees: Welcome Back, Pedro


[courtesy of the NY Daily News]

Thursday night at The Bronx, in Game 2 of the Yankees-Phillies 2009 World Series, AJ Burnett [above] faced 26 batters, threw first-pitch strikes to 21 of them, and allowed only 1 earned run in 7 innings, while striking out 9.

Oh, and yeah, Mo got a 6 out save, for his record 10th in World Series play. (And his 38th overall in the post-season.) Final score: Yankees 3, Phillies 1. (Wasn't Pedro supposed to spank the Yankees?)

Btw, the Phillies lost this game on the anniversary of their clinching the World Series last year. Hmm...

Series tied at one game apiece; Game 3 in Philly on Saturday night. Yankees will send Andy Pettite to the mound, while Cole Hamels will start for the Phillies.

(Oh, and about Jimmy Rollins' prediction: yes, it could happen.
But, the last Yankee rival who made a World Series "in 5" boast was Benny Agbayani of the Mets in 2000. And we all know how that turned out.)

These are Your Enemies, Unemployed Folks

The 13 senators who oppose the extension of unemployment benefits and have voted against it reaching an up-or-down vote in the Senate are:

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)
Sen. Christopher Bond (R-MO)
Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY)
Sen. Thomas Coburn (R-OK)
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC)
Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)
Sen. Jefferson Sessions (R-AL)
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA)
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)

So, to all of you unemployed out there who are about to lose your benefits--especially the constituents of the above--you now can attach a name to the deed. Good luck.

[h/t Crooks and Liars]

Thursday, October 29, 2009

When Will the Dems Grow a Pair? (Lieberman Strikes again)

According to a recent poll, Connecticut voters favor a a public option to be included within the healthcare reform bill by a 68 to 21 percent margin. But disregarding this sentiment and mandate, Connecticut's Joe Lieberman promises to vote with GOP senators and against the public option.

It's clear that if he opposes what an overwhelming number of his constituents want in this case, there must be some big contribution money coming from the insurance folks. Duh.

My question is, WHAT THE FUCK IS THE DEMOCRATIC LEADERSHIP GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS SCUMBAG? ENOUGH ALREADY!

We're way past the whole he votes with us on everything but the war nonsense. He backstabbed Obama after the then-senator from Illinois gave him his support against Ned Lamont in the Connecticut Democratic primary, by endorsing John McCain and speaking for him at the GOP convention last year, and now he pulls this shit?!

Campbell Brown: Faux News' Newest Apologist

According to this Associated Press tidbit Fox "News" has a new buddy in the war on information and negative bias...Campbell Brown:

CNN's prime-time host Campbell Brown...interviewed Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and asked whether the White House considered left-leaning MSNBC biased as well. Jarrett wouldn't speak about the network.

She "seems loathe to admit that MSNBC has a bias," Brown said. "And that is where I think the White House loses all credibility on this issue."

If the White House wants to talk about bias in the media, officials "should elevate the conversation and talk about bias on the right and on the left," Brown said. "Because when you just target one side, you reveal your own bias — that you are only critical of those who are critical of you."


I have not seen the interview in question, but if Jarrett failed
to make the distinction between the networks, she was remiss.
Then again, she probably felt it's not her job to defend
any particular network, especially, in this case MSNBC.

However, I feel she should not have left Brown off the hook and explained that a bias is one thing, but for Fox to be passing off as news a political party's talking points and routinely labeling disgraced Republican politicians as Democrats--just to give two examples--is not the work of an entity that purports to be a news organization.

I wonder if Brown's position on the subject after CNN's reported recent drop to third place in the ratings are a coincidence. Hmm...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Return of the Mac

So, former slugger Mark McGwire is announced as the St. Louis Cardinals' hitting instructor for the 2010 season and the knives immediately come out. And sharp, too.

Whatever.

Yes, I'm disappointed in players that have decided to take the steroids route, including faves of mine. And yes, members of the baseball media make a valid point when stating a lack of clarity and admission on Big Mac's part regarding PED usage.

But, I was so appalled by the petty and hypocritical way the vast majority of the baseball press conducted themselves during the A-Rod PED scandal that I have come to believe that Manny Ramirez's non-chalant, disrespectful brush-off, when openly confronted about his own steroid use—“It's not like I killed or raped anybody”—is every bit the treatment these hacks deserved. (Yes, they'll have their revenge on him when it comes time for Manny to make reservations for Cooperstown. But I would bet top dollar he gives not a fuck.)

In other words, let Big Mac come back and do his thing. If he or the STL organization chooses to address his PED situation, fine. If not, fine with me, as well. Are the writers going to change their minds and grant him their Hall of Fame vote if he gives up the confession and/or apology they are so drooling over? No, right?

Well, it'll be a distraction for the team
, some might say. Do ya think that didn't come up when the Cards' brass made the decision? C'mon, they're smart cats over there. I would venture to speculate they are actually daring the press to go all Jim Gray—not that I'm a Pete Rose apologist; far from it—and make this about McGwire's past and not his job performance. So I say, let the self-righteous, irresponsible and trifling scribes harp on that and not Mac's abilities in his new gig. Fuck 'em. Good luck to Big Mac and the Cards in 2010.

It's done, people. Move on.

Sorry...

...for so much baseball-related posting lately. But there's nothing new on the political front during the last couple of news cycles:

War in Iraq and Afghanistan; the healthcare debate rocks back and forth; the economy is still in the toilet; the GOP continues its blatantly obstructionist ways; Mike Bloomberg looks to become NYC's mayor for a third term; Fox News spreading disinformation and outright lies; reality TV not disappearing any time soon; etc etc etc. Gloomy.

Maybe we'll get some good news soon. One can only hope.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Bronx is Burning! (again)

[Derek Jeter, A-Rod, and Mark Teixeira celebrate victory over Angels Sunday night. Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images; c/o Boston Globe. heh, heh]

Hooray for the Evil Empire: The New York Yankees defeated the California Angels 5-2 in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Sunday night, thereby winning their 40th pennant and a trip to the World Series to face the reigning champions, the Philadelphia Phillies.

Veteran starter Andy Pettite did a tremendous job on the mound for 6 1/3 innings and left to a standing ovation, eventually earning his record 16th post-season win. Joba Chamberlain, who'd been rocky of late, got 2 big outs in the seventh and, in a move to be questioned by no one--regardless of the outcome--manager Joe Girardi brought in the great Mariano Rivera to get the final six outs of the game.

Suffice to say, I am so happy...this current Yankee team has been my favorite since the 1978 edition, when the likes of Reggie Jackson, Ron Guidry, Chris Chambliss, Bucky Dent, Willie Randolph, et al. were kings of The Bronx. Now, pennant no. 40 and on to face the World Champion Phillies...World Series in the Bronx...so sweet...YES!!!

Oh, and props to the Halos for not making it easy, and especially to manager Mike Scioscia and CF Torii Hunter for their classy post-game comments. Hunter: "Some of my favorite players are over there. I promise you I will be rooting for those guys, keep it in the American League. It will be a mountain to climb to try to get past those guys...We got beat by the best team. If they lose, I'll be ticked off."

I've always liked this dude, going back to his days with the Minnesota Twins. Now I have another reason. A class act.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

In Praise of Tex

Despite his paltry offensive showing in the current post-season,
I want to give props to Mark Teixeira for being an awesome first baseman for the Yankees. If you recall, last year the team had to contend with these guys instead:

Wilson Betemit, Johnny Damon, Shelley Duncan, Morgan Ensberg, Juan Miranda, Chad Moeller, Jose Molina, Xavier Nady, Jorge Posada, Cody Ransom, Richie Sexson, and Jason Giambi.

'Nuff said.

Now go and rock the Halos tonight, Tex. And thanks.

Too Long

Am I the last person to learn about this nonsense?

NY Times:
The reason for the elongated [AL/NLCS] schedule is the recent change in the start of the World Series. From 1985 through 2006, the World Series was scheduled to start on a Saturday. Then baseball and the networks concluded that Saturday was a dead night for ratings. They built a few extra days into the schedule, which pushed Game 1 to a Wednesday.

What kinda bullshit is this? If the World Series can't attract viewers on a Saturday night then the day of the week is the least of their problems. Meanwhile, the post-season takes forever and ends in early November. (So much for the "October Classic".) It's bad enough contending with Wild Cards, and 2 playoff series before the WS,
but now we have all these extra and unnecessary off-days in order
to cater to TV network interests. You're a champ, Bud Selig.

Tucker Carlson: Forgetful Misinforming Hypocrite


“The two most senior members of the White House staff attempt to bully a news outlet into silence and hardly anyone in the press says a word. Meanwhile, the same White House that had just finished lecturing working journalists on the superiority of straight news coverage hosted a secret, off the record briefing for Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. The two, along with several other liberal commentators, spent more than two hours with Obama. Why is the press corps giving the White House a pass for behavior it never would have tolerated from other administrations? Conservatives believe it‘s simple bias.”

I‘m a little tired of the sanctimonious, amnesic crap from people like Tucker Carlson. The previous White House planted questions in its own news conference, secretly paid conservative columnists, staged massage briefing sessions for radio hosts, sent out a list of questions they hoped I would use to discredit Joe Wilson, publicly attacked NBC, publicly attacked MSNBC, by the admission of the press secretary, just the other day, cut MSNBC out of access to administration officials, and its party leadership tried to blackmail NBC News into removing me from election coverage by threatening to boycott a presidential debate.

This White House finally called out a group of amoral political operatives posing as journalists. That was it. They didn‘t deny them credentials. They didn‘t try to silence them. They didn‘t take them off the air. They didn‘t try to take them off the air. They called them what they are, the media propaganda wing of the Republican party.

And I‘m a little tired of the false equivalency here. You go ask this White House if they‘re happy that I‘m insisting on the public option when they‘re not. You go ask this White House if they‘re happy that I‘m pushing for torture prosecutions and they‘re trying to soft pedal them.

I don‘t know if the paranoids of this world, like Michelle Malkin, think Obama handed me my instructions, or she thinks I handed him his. But when I support what this president is doing, it‘s because I think he is right. The operative word is think.

I‘m not, Rachel Maddow is not, Glenn freaking Beck or Michelle freaking Malkin, a knee jerk jukebox of party doctrine, screeching at every reform, mocking every expression of sympathy, repeating anything the nit-wits, which they serve as doctrine slaves, try to palm off on the sheep they hope will lead them back to power.

I will tell you exactly what happened on Monday at the White House Monday; an off the record conversation about all the issues of the day, just like, I imagine, the one the president had with those four conservative columnists at George Will‘s house in January.

Right on, Keith.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thinking about Pitching

Everyone raves about legendary St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson’s awesome 1968 season with his incredible 1.12 ERA, but I’ve always been more amazed at how someone who was so dominant that year could’ve possibly lost 9 games. (He won 22.) As it turns out, in his losses Gibson gave up 3, 2, 1, 1, 3, 3, 2, 1, and 2 ER, respectively. Surprise, surprise: the Cardinals didn’t hit much behind him. Duh.

Interestingly, in 1968 he gave up 4 earned runs twice; a W and a ND was the end result in those. In the 4 games he gave up 3 earned runs he got 1 W, 3 L, and a ND. His decisions went as follows:

W-L

April: 1-1 (L: 3 ER)
May: 2-4 (L: 2, 1, 1, 3 ER, respectively)
June: 6-0
July: 6-0
August: 4-1 (L: 3 ER)
September: 3-3 (L: 2, 1, 2 ER, respectively)

Gibson threw 304.7 innings in 34 starts. He had 28 complete games, 13 shutouts, and averaged 8.96 innings per start, which is pretty much a compete game. Wow...

Speaking of complete games, former Mets pitcher Ron Darling recently brought up how the number of complete games pitched has steadily declined in the last 40 years.

According to Baseball Almanac, from the late ‘60s and throughout the ‘70s the complete game leaders went from 30 games and the high 20s, to the high teens. The ‘80s saw a drop to mostly totals in the teens. During the ‘90s the likes of Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Jack McDowell, and Curt Schilling were the leaders in reaching teen digits in complete games pitched. (McDowell led it twice: ’91, ’92.)

In this decade, we didn’t even get that far: Toronto Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay is king with two seasons of 9 complete games; in ‘03 and ‘08. (Liván Hernández had 9 with the Montreal Expos in ’04.)

So, what is it with modern day pitchers? And no, I’m not going to compare a legendary HoFer like Bob Gibson to anyone currently on the mound, but how is it that guys that were barely in shape back in the day routinely pitched complete games—not to mention relievers, who were expected to throw multiple innings per outing—while the physically superior hurlers of today are thought to give a “quality start” when they pitch 6 innings? (And why is a reliever that pitches an inning in 2 consecutive games more often than not unavailable on the third day?) Oh, and these starters were on 4-man rotations, which gave them more playing time but also less rest than the 5-man rotations we see today.

Are young pitchers coming up today not subjected to enough endurance training and development? Is pitching such a commodity now that there is an urge to overprotect the financial investment? Has expansion baseball watered down the pool of quality pitching? (Former Phillies reliever and current MLBN analyst Mitch Williams recently stated, half in jest, “If you’re lefty and have a pulse you’ll pitch in the majors,” or words to that effect.)

As team president, the great Nolan Ryan is said to be instituting changes within the Texas Rangers organization to ensure young pitchers will be able to go further into games. Only time will tell if he is successful. I sure hope so.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's Sunny Today in Philadelphia

Congratulations to the Philadelphia Phillies on winning the NLCS and their second consecutive pennant.

After their series-clinching 10-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers Wednesday night, we saw fans in Philly's Citizens Bank Park holding up signs reading "Bring on the Bronx" and "From Broad St. to Broadway" clearly implying a desire to see their team face the Yankees in the World Series.

We too would like to see that matchup, but don't want to jinx it, with the Yankees currently up 3-1 in a best of 7 contest against frequent nemesis the California Angels. (Yes, I still call them that.)

If the Phillies-Yankees World Series were to happen, it would surely be metaphorically hot contest played in cold weather. The 2009 World Series kicks off Wednesday, October 28th. (Hopefully, in the Bronx.)

Tell it Like it Is

"Fox News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party...We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent. As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don't need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave."

- White House communications director Anita Dunn.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Few Thoughts on MLB's LCS

This year, baseball's League Championship Series is an East Coast-West Coast thang, baby: in the American League we have the Angels, who just lifted the Red Sox hex, against the Yankees, who are hoping to do the same and get that Halo monkey off their backs; meanwhile it’s déjà vu all over again in the National League: a repeat of the 2008 NLCS, with the Dodgers seeking revenge against the Phillies, who are looking to repeat last year’s triumph.

How did they get here? Well, strange days indeed: the Angels finally beat the Red Sox in the post-season; A-Rod was supremely clutch for the Yankees; the Phillies successfully played small ball; and the Dodgers did not bow before the favored opponent with two Cy Young contenders and showed off solid starting pitching of their own. Wow…who would of thunk it?

Looking forward to the World Series: The Angels and the Phillies each have a chance of joining the Red Sox as the only teams with two rings this decade (the Halos could be the first to ever knock out both AL rivals Boston AND New York in the same post-season); the Yankees just might bookend the ‘00s; and the Dodgers hope to end their 2 decade-plus championship drought. (Where have you gone, Kirk Gibson?)

So, what will it be?

As a Yankee fan, it's obvious I want my team to make it to the WS and win, but let's contemplate all the possible scenarios, shall we?

A “Freeway Series” between the Angels and Dodgers? (No rain delays or harsh weather for that one. It'll be the 20th anniversary of the '89 quake, tho.) Or the Phillies vs. Angels, with the former looking to be the only team to go back-to-back for the first and last time this decade; or the Halos padding Mike Scioscia’s record as winningest manager in franchise history? How about a face-off between each league’s most powerful offensive lineup, a Northeastern match up between Phillies and Yankees? (The Bombers battling Pedro again?!) Then of course there’s the drama filled scenario of Joe Torre—bringing along Donnie Baseball, for good measure—facing his old team, now managed by his protégée and namesake Joe Girardi; and Manny returning to face his Bronx archrivals, which he has frequently punished in the past. Man...

One thing is certain: On October 28th, Game One of the 2009 World Series will be held in either Anaheim or the Bronx. Either way, it will probably be pretty awesome.

Can’t wait.

PS: MLB has to do something about the bad umpiring we've seen this post-season. Way too many bad calls on plays and on balls and strikes. Totally unacceptable.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fair and Balanced? Only Shepard Smith

Fox's Shep Smith confronts Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) on the health care public option issue: