Thursday, December 31, 2009

tic-toc, tic-toc, tic-toc...

I’m sure all of you have experienced how, during a certain stage of our lives, the passage of time was such that days seemed like months and years were like decades. Certainly this perception was fueled by the desire to move onto the next phase: getting a driver's license; going out unchaperoned and/or without curfew; graduating from college; moving out of our parents’ house; and so on.

Now we look around—or in the mirror—and see men and women who were children not that long ago; remembrances of things that seemingly took place in recent times actually have decades behind them. It is as if we feel time pass, more than in the opposite manner of that original stage, but accelerated, to boot: years feel like weeks and days go by like minutes.

I bring this up because 2008 marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of my high school graduation. But for reasons I’m unaware of our reunion was postponed until the following year. This event led to, in order to establish the necessary logistics, a small avalanche of people from that era of my life contacting me for the first time in decades. Many of them, once inseparable, have reminded me with their brief reappearance in my life that time and distance stealthily plot to weaken bonds once thought unbreakable. Or at least more durable.

But perhaps the ties bind us have nothing to do with the timing and/or geography. Except for the occasional e-mail exchanged with Mr. R, who has been living in Venezuela for decades, Mr. B is the only one from my graduating class with whom I have remained in contact. This is, of course, due to our long and close-knit friendship. Yet, Mr. B and I have not lived in the same time zone in nearly 20 years. Meanwhile, there are other good friends from those days with whom I had little or no contact within the same period, despite the fact they live here, in NYC.

Obviously, when I hear from those old friends, the first order of business has been to catch up: professions, marriages, children, divorces, who has come out of the closet (there has been that, too) and more. But the sad part is the unexpected mention of deceased schoolmates. It is painful to learn of the passing of people with much life yet to live, but when it hits home, it’s a bit more confusing.

How is it that my boy, Mr. S—with whom I once had a different but perhaps as close a friendship as the one I had and still have with Mr. B—died not too long ago without my even knowing about it? Yes, of course: the result of not having nurtured our friendship over the years. But how did that happen? How does that unnecessary estrangement come to pass without significant cause or reason?

In the end, the purpose of sharing this post is to exhort us all to try and keep meaningful folks close to us while we can. Every day we are surrounded by constant reminders that time passes too quickly. Much too quickly.

Have a very healthy, safe, and prosperous 2010.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A-Rod (future) Pride of the Yankees?

One of the by-products of getting together for a meal—even if it happens to be Christmas Eve aka Nochebuena dinner—with a bunch of rowdy, baseball-loving Dominicans is that heated discussions concerning the national pastime will also be on the menu. So, as talk of the latest Hot Stove fodder was consumed while waiting for the main course, the conversation shifted towards the topic of A-Rod vs. Prince Albert, initiated in part by what I feel is the extra level of hype surrounding the Cardinals’ first baseman.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not one to belittle Pujols’ accomplishments. The man is a fearsome offensive beast, without a doubt. But to compare him to a five-tool, hot corner defender (and let’s not forget his stellar days as SS) as well as an already sure-fire HoFer like Rodriguez—regardless of what a future Cooperstown voting committee may decide—isn’t even fair to the current pride of St. Louis.

Routinely derided for not being a clutch hitter in the post-season—an accusation which conveniently omitted his arrival in pinstripes in ’04, not to mention his career .302 batting average in Autumn—A-Rod decisively silenced critics in October and November of ’09, but what very well might be in his future is truly is something to look forward to.

In the eight seasons left on his Yankee contract, an average of 22 HRs per season would have A-Rod surpassing Barry Bonds for the all-time HR record. Which means he’d obviously pass The Babe as the Yankees’ HR king. If you factor in the opportunities to add a couple more MVP titles to his current three, and the possibility of acquiring another World Series ring or two, that would make him—whether you like him or not—one of the great Yankees. And all this while eventually playing in The Bronx for 14 complete seasons: longer than Munson, Donnie Baseball, or even Joe D, for those keeping score. (Btw, he has more career stolen bases than Jeter, the leader among current Yankees, himself in second place over-all, right behind the great Rickey Henderson’s tenure in pinstripes.)

All Rodriguez has to do is stay healthy. But if his strong work ethic and this year’s speedy recovery from hip surgery—and the dismissal of a planned second surgery—are any indication, A-Rod will be in fine form, with his time in The Bronx cementing his reputation as the greatest player of his generation. And the paycheck that went along with it will have been worth every dime. Not bad for a kid from Washington Heights.

It would be quite awesome to see, wouldn’t it?

(PS: Sad to see Melky go but he'll be better off playing every day in Atlanta and facing weaker NL pitching.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sarah Palin's Big Whopper

The Pulitzer Prize-nominated folks at the St. Peterburg Times' political media watchdog project PolitiFact--and their readers--have named former Alaska governor Sarah Palin's "death panels" fallacy their top choice for "Lie of the Year". Not to shabby, Sarah.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Obama, Where Art Thou?

So, former Vermont governor and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean--also, a medical physician himself--is assailed by the White House and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) among others, for asking that reconciliation be approached as a means to pass a worthy health care reform bill and not this compromised nonsense?

Yeah, that's the guy who needs a tongue lashing--not obstructionist, insurance industry shills like Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), or a petty, disloyal, revenge-seeking egomaniac like Sen. Joe Liebermann (I-CT). I mean, the latter is a guy who repaid then-senator Barack Obama for being one of the few high profile Democrats who had his back, when most in the party wanted to send his ass packing, by crossing party lines and campaigning against him in the 2008 presidential campaign, and even passive-aggressively fueling the "he's-actually-a-Muslim" meme. What a class act.

That's who is getting a free pass, while Gov. Dean is called irresponsible for daring to take a stand against these clowns who want nothing more than to retain the health insurance status quo.

But, where is President Obama in all of this? I'm not talking about Press Secretary Robert Gibbs' condescending remarks about Gov. Dean's recent pronouncements. I'm wondering where the man who was elected to effect a change in precisely this kind of flawed government policy is hiding. More importantly, where is his leadership? Does he really care about health care reform? From the looks of it, not enough. The president's hands-off approach has been a great miscalculation and a somber disappointment. The veteran of hard-nosed Chicago politics we hoped would show up in these contentious times has not made an appearance. Instead, Obama has looked like the weak, milquetoast president many were afraid he would be.

Which reminds me of...



I'm with Gov. Dean on this one, obviously. Furthermore, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid must, as others have suggested, bring back the public option AND the Medicare buy-in and let the chips fall where they may. If you're gonna go down in flames, do it with dignity, not defending some hollow, watered-down bill. Plan for reconciliation and in the meantime, let those who relish being on the wrong side of history have the opportunity to show their disdain for the poor, the uninsured, and those routinely bullied and scammed by the insurance industry.

As for kicking the likes of senators Lieberman Landrieu, Ben Nelson (D-NE), Max Baucus (D-MT) et al to the curb, I submit another appropriate clip from The West Wing routinely favored by fellow blogger Xmastime, which captures the essence of what to do about these profiteers and ass-kissers of the insurance industry:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New Rule (apologies to Bill Maher)

In light of the recent public infidelity shenanigans of A-Rod, Tiger Woods, etc. I believe all celebrity athletes should follow what I will now dub "The Jeter Rule" (or to a lesser degree, "The Zito Rule" after San Francisco Giants pitcher Barry Zito):

If you are a rich, handsome athlete who feels like fucking every hot piece of ass that moves, by all means do so. Rinse and repeat. WARNING: Remain single until this urge recedes completely or at least considerably. Otherwise, significant loss of income and reputation may follow.
(If while married you continue to indulge, however, at least make an effort to involve yourself with women hotter than your own. The contrary is pointless and embarassing to all.)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Kill Bill

Why not just chuck the damn thing?

If congressional reconciliation is not sought or reached--which would only require 51 votes in the Senate, and not the infamous 60 being fought for--a weak, compromised health care reform bill, with both the public option and the Medicare buy-in for those between the ages of 55-64 removed, would be worthless.

Then again, if the legislation could not go through with a majority in both houses now, how much tougher will it be to do so later when the Dems have lost a few seats in the 2010 elections. (Rest assured, they will definitely lose some next year. And yes, I'm repeating myself.)

Meanwhile, that low-life insurance shill known as Joe Lieberman demonstrated once again how much of a petty, bitter old man he actually is.

Regarding the Medicare buy-in proposal Lieberman told the New York Times, "he was particularly troubled by the overly enthusiastic reaction to the proposal by some liberals, including Representative Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, who champions a fully government-run health care system."

In other words, he didn't judge the proposal on its merits but based on who supported it. Are you motherfucking kidding me?! Is this disloyal, self-serving asshole for real?!! Can you believe this shit?!!!

Fuckin' spineless, cowardly Democrats...STRIP LIEBERMAN OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND WHATEVER ELSE NOW!!! Do you think the Republicans would've permitted this nonsense among their ranks? Never!! Not in a million years!! GET RID OF THIS SCUMBAG NOW!!!

When will Harry Reid grow a pair?!!

(PS: After a heated, contentious emergency meeting between top congressional Dems and Rahm Emmanuel in which the resolve to pass health care reform seemed unwavering, it has been suggested that this Lieberman fiasco is all scripted theatre by the Dems to lull the Republicans into a false sense of security and then pounce when ready. That would be lovely, but frankly, I don't see it.)

Yankees Update

Since we're in December you may have temporarily forgotten about baseball. As for the 2009 World Champion New York Yankees--music to my ears, yes--well, this is what's gone down in the last few days:

- Hideki Matsui is now a Halo
Fuck! Did not want to see him go. Damn it!

- Chien-Ming Wang is officially a free agent
By coincidence he was on the mound for most of the games I went to during his tenure in pinstripes, including the best pitching duel I've ever seen in person. Also sorry to see him go. (He might resurface in Flushing, according to rumors.)

- Curtis Granderson is the new Yankees CF
Melky Cabrera is in LF until further notice. (The Yanks are offering Johnny Damon $9M/yr for 2 seasons; his agent, Scott Boras, is yapping about wanting $13M/yr for 3 seasons. Not gonna happen.)

- Jason Bay has been approached by the Bronx brass
If a deal materializes--much to the chagrin of the Mets, who could REALLY use him--Johnny D would then become the official DH and occasional LF. If he comes back, that is. (But with Matsui gone, that becomes a bigger possibility.)

- A-Rod and Kate Hudson have broken up
There goes our other MVP. Please don't leave, Kate: you were the good luck charm. (So was Eric Hinske, for that matter.)

+ + + + +

- Meanwhile, Roy Halladay is joining the Phillies; Cliff Lee is now a Mariner; and in Boston, the Sux have acquired P John Lackey and OF Mike Cameron.

Oh, and yeah: pitchers and catchers report in 60 days. Can't wait...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Harry Reid--Such a Disappointment

First, the Senate Majority Leader has failed to make that petty Connecticut piece of shit known as Joe Lieberman pay the price for his self-serving transgressions and disloyalty. And now, after bullshit compromise has watered down health care reform, there's this...

TPM:
On his radio show [Friday], Rush Limbaugh said that none other than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told him that the Republicans are offering amendments to the health care bill, not to improve the bill, but as a parliamentary maneuver to "flush out" Democratic centrists Ben Nelson and Jim Webb, and to try to peel them away and thus stop the bill.

In other words, the Republican call for compromise on the health care reform bill is just a ruse; they actually don't want the bill in any way, shape or form, and have been watering it down so it can be weakened enough to be eventually killed. Of course, that this nagging suspicion of the obstructionist GOP should actually be true is no surprise. But, it is a bit too good to be true. I mean, why would Limbaugh openly announce a strategy of the sort. Unless the Republican congressional leadership is arrogantly drunk with power, knowing, in this case the Democratic wusses will cave, regardless.

Ugh.

But here's a question for you: if a newly-elected president with a solid majority in both houses of Congress can't get major legislation from his agenda passed, than who can or will?

(A Republican president, that's who. Silly me.)


UPDATE: Joe Lieberman got his way

HuffPo:

Joe Lieberman has forced his will on the Senate Democratic caucus and the nation as a whole. After the party reached a compromise last week to effectively drop the public option in exchange for allowing 55- to 64-year-olds to buy into Medicare, that compromise is now in doubt.

Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, told Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Sunday that he will block any bill that includes the buy-in. As the 60th vote needed to overcome a Republican filibuster, he can do that.

Following a caucus-wide meeting Monday evening, the measure was all but scuttled.


So, as I understand it, the public option was taken off the table in favor of the Medicare buy-in. Now, Lieberman won't support that either, so it's gone. What the fuck kinda bill will they vote on, then?

Limbaugh was saying the truth, then: McConnell and co. have absolutely NO INTENTION of passing any bill, just the desire to weaken it to a point where it's worthless and dies of neglect. Just like the uninsured.

Cheers, spineless Dems: this one's for you!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dick Cheney is a Scumbag

Darth Vader was recently on Faux News hitting softballs off GOP lapdog and teabagger apologist Sean Hannity--what else is new?--to say this about President Obama:
"...[T]his guy...doesn't fully understand or share that view of American exceptionalism that I think most of us believe in."

And regarding the upcoming Al-Qaeda trials in NYC:
"I think it'll give aid and comfort to the enemy."

As has been pointed out, the latter statement quotes the language that defines treason in the US Constitution. Yes Dick, you the seven-time draft-dodging chickenhawk are a true patriot but Barack Obama is treasonous outsider.

Asshole.

Congressman Massa on Afghanistan

Not being someone with military savvy, I've been reticent about stating my views on military invasions vs. special ops vis-a-vis Afghanistan.

But Tuesday on Hardball, Chris Matthews had member of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Eric Massa (D-NY)--a former Republican who left the party over disagreements regarding the Iraq War--speak some common sense and clearly define how I've felt about the current troop surge slated for Afghanistan. Take a look:

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bruno Convicted

AP:
ALBANY, N.Y. — A federal jury has convicted former New York Senate leader Joseph Bruno on two counts of corruption and acquitted him on five others.

The jurors also tell U.S. District Court Judge Gary Sharpe that they can't come to a decision on an eighth count.

Bruno, once one of the state's most powerful politicians, was accused of denying New Yorkers his honest services while enriching himself in the amount of $3.2 million by using his state influence.

The trial exposed Albany's practice of influence-peddling by lawmakers. Bruno consulted for three businessmen and solicited union pension investments from labor unions on behalf of two companies.

Prosecutors argued that Bruno was required to publicly disclose his business interests and associates.

As yet another scandal-plagued Republican, I wonder if they've already shown Bruno on Fox Noise...with a "D" next to his name. 'Cause, you know, that's how they roll over in Murdochland...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Jon Stewart on Swiss Minaret Ban

This past week on The Daily Show, host Jon Stewart showed a clip of one Walter Wobmann, president of the "Yes for Ban of Minarets" committee, who stated:
"Minarets are the beginning of Islamization. The second step will be the call to prayer. The third step will be Sharia law. Here in Switzerland we don't want that."

To which Stewart retorted:
"Really? From four minarets to Sharia law in 2 moves? Really? Let me take you down the other side of that slippery slope: Banning houses of worship is the first step of ethnic cleansing. Boom! I did it in one move!"

Exactly.

Oh, and for the record, Muslims account for 4% of the Swiss population, with a grand total of four minarets in the entire country. Yup, it's a slippery slope all right.

Btw, I bet the mayor of Arlington, TN agrees with Mr. Wobmann.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

No Roar but a Whimper from Tiger Woods

In his press release, following the auto accident and all the allegations of infidelity, Tiger Woods said this:
Personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn’t have to mean public confessions.”

I’d amend Tiger’s statement as follows: Personal sins DON’T require press releases and problems within a family DON’T mean public confessions.

An example: As a ballplayer Alex Rodriguez needed to own up publicly to steroid use. But his marital infidelities? Nope. That’s between him and the Mrs. The press can harp all it wants about it, but he didn’t have to address it. And he didn’t. Plus, we shouldn’t care who he’s fucking but what he does as an athlete in a sport we follow. That’s our relationship with the guy. It’s not like he’s our brother-in-law and making a fool out of our sister. Please.

Same with Tiger: why admit any of this to the public. If he feels he needs/wants to tell his wife, that’s his deal. But why the fuck release a statement and owning up to anything? I’m completely baffled.

Btw, his spin/damage control/p.r. people--if he has them--should be fired on the spot for letting him get so deep into a media mess like this one.

Obama Commits to Afghanistan Troop Surge

It's been interesting to see how reactions to the President's speech have played out: dismay from the liberal/progressive camp at not pulling out of Afghanistan altogether and instead furthering our military commitment; while over at Faux News, a lack of passion in his speech, was the meme. Bill O'Reilly went so far as to absurdly show a clip, not of Gen. Patton, but of George C. Scott playing Patton (!) in an effort to make a derisive comparison.

Damn, no wonder Keith Olbermann calls him "BillO the Clown".

But they did hit the nail on the head in Murdochland: this surge is a lose-lose situation politically, for the President: his supporters don't like it, and the people who do, will never give him proper credit.
In other words, he has Michael Moore criticizing him and Sarah Palin begrudgingly giving her tenuous support. That can't be good.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Lazy, Show-and-Tell GOP

AP:

WASHINGTON – Republicans are using everything short of forklifts to show Americans that Democratic health care legislation is an unwieldy mountain of paper. They pile it high on desks, hoist it on a shoulder trussed in sturdy rope and tell people it's longer than "War and Peace," which it isn't.

Although they complain they don't have time to read all of it, they found the time to tape it together, page by page, so they could roll it up the steps of the Capitol like super-sized toilet paper and show how very long it is.

Basically, these assholes will do everything but their excellent-health-care-provided jobs and debate the damn thing on the issues. I don't want to become one of those polarized partisans--I really don't--but the current batch of Republican obstructionists, fear-mongers and blatant liars, make it so difficult to avoid.