Saturday, January 30, 2010

The New Dominican Constitution

So, I hear the Dominican Republic adopted its 33rd Constitution this past week, right in time for Juan Pablo Duarte’s b-day. Among the goodies included:

- Presidents may be re-elected indefinitely, although not to consecutive terms. (Gee, swell.)

- Same sex marriage is outlawed

- Because “the right to life is inviolable from conception to death" the lack of a death penalty remains in place (although the wording indirectly points at abortion remaining illegal as well)

- The privatization of public land and waterways—i.e., the selling of—is up for grabs

- Children of illegal immigrants are not considered Dominican (guess who?)

- The official motto is “Dios, Patria y Libertad” (God, Country, Liberty)

The media, especially the Listín Diario, is said to be raving about the new Constitution. (Surprise, surprise.)

Hmm…

Some thoughts:

Although I in fact attended an evangelical high school—for purely academic reasons; I was raised Catholic—and thus, was around them on a daily basis, evangelicals were always a mostly silent minority during the years I lived in the Dominican (1976-1988), even in my school. However, it seems like their numbers in the DR have grown exponentially in the years since. (Many high-profile personalities—Juan Luis Guerra, Freddy Beras-Goico, among others—are converts.) I wouldn’t surprise me if their influence has spread to policy-making spheres.

But the Catholic Church is still immensely powerful, and of late has been making a stronger than ever effort to maintain the status quo as far as abortion is concerned. My brother recently told me how appalled he was when he came across a petition drive to ensure abortion remains illegal across the board without exception, stealthily put forth at Sunday mass. I’m not surprised the Church and the evangelicals may have been instrumental in placing the gay marriage ban in the Constitution, especially since Dominican gay groups have been, reportedly, more vocal than ever about their civil rights being trampled.

- That the death penalty was prohibited—a 30-year sentence is the maximum judicial penalty in the DR—was always a source of pride for me.

- The possibility of privatizing beaches, waterways—and even some of the adjacent islands—is but a small part of Joaquin Balaguer’s sad legacy. I bet something is already in the works to sell off some prime real estate.

- Supposedly, this new Constitution was pushed forth by the governing PLD (Dominican Liberation Party), and the PRD (Dominican Revolutionary Party). So, is Balaguer’s old PRSC (Social Christian Reform Party) so debilitated it didn’t take part in this fiasco? Also, the Listín Diario was once the unimpeachable paper of record; the august equivalent of The New York Times. Now, it’s another lowly shill for current Dominican president Leonel Fernandez’s administration, masquerading as a newspaper.

- They should’ve amended the article that reiterates the official motto thusly: “Dios, Patria y Libertad (pero solo cuando conviene).” (God, Country, Liberty--but only when convenient).

Obama Administers Beatdown on GOP

It was pretty sweet; he called 'em out and went for a "Look, American people: "I'm trying to reason with these guys, but they won't meet me half-way. They're too busy trying to keep their jobs that they forget to do their jobs," kinda thing. And to those of us who've supported him but question his lack of leadership: "Listen, the SOTU address wasn't just posturing; I'm gonna put these guys on the spot."

It seems like an actual first step towards realizing that he needs to get with the plan or he won't be able to govern or let alone be re-elected in 2012.

According to the pundits, this retreat with the congressional GOP has been a success for the president. You know it was good when Sean Hannity opened his show by asking Newt Gingrich if he was to be a presidential candidate in 2012 and made no mention of the Obama-GOP encounter. (Actually, the major cable news outlets covered it live except for Fox, who in the middle of the exchange, decided to cut away from the president and have their talking heads comment on it.) 'Nuff said.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Best Take on the Damon-Yankees Fiasco

I dunno who wrote this--couldn't find a byline--but somebody at Fox Sports actually nailed it (emphasis mine):

- - - - -

Talk about a dumb divorce.

The Yankees need Johnny Damon. Damon needs the Yankees. But so much for happily ever after.

The World Series champions will replace Damon with Randy Winn, Brett Gardner and maybe a right-handed hitter such as Rocco Baldelli on a minor-league contract.

Seriously.

The Yankees, you see, are on a budget.

I'm calling it now: The Yankees will be looking for a better left fielder in July. Damon, possibly headed to a second-division club, will be one of their prime trade targets...a one-year contract in the $6 million to $8 million range for Damon seems likely. [Scott] Boras, however, is seeking at least $9 million, according to one interested executive.

The Yankees, coming off a championship season in a new ballpark, say they could not afford such a salary. They drew the line with Damon, for reasons that only they understand.

Boras, who told The New York Times that the Yankees never even made Damon an offer, needed to shop his client to other teams more aggressively.

There is simply no excuse for a player of this quality to be in such a compromised position.

Damon, 36, had a higher adjusted OPS last season than Bobby Abreu--a career-high adjusted OPS, in fact. Abreu, who is five months younger than Damon, re-signed with the Angels for $19 million over two years without even becoming a free agent. Damon is scrounging for a job.

Raul Ibanez, 37, signed a three-year, $31.5 million free-agent contract with the Phillies in an even worse economy last off-season.

Mike Cameron, 37, signed a two-year, $15.5 million free-agent contract with the Red Sox this off-season.

Where's Johnny?

True, Damon is a below-average defender, but Ibanez hardly was considered Gold Glove material. Neither was Adam Dunn, who signed a two-year, $20 million free-agent contract with the Nationals last off-season, nor Pat Burrell, who signed a two-year, $16 million deal with the Rays.

The new, bottom-line Yankees should take no satisfaction in having read the market better than Boras. Their brilliant analytical skills will leave them with the plodding, frequently injured Nick Johnson rather than Damon in the No. 2 spot, and a left-field grouping reminiscent of their ill-fated Doug Mientkiewicz-Josh Phelps duo at first base in 2007...Winn, the winner of the Yankees' $2 million lottery, is a switch-hitter who batted .158 against left-handers last season, .292 against right-handers. Gardner bats left, so the chances of a platoon appear, well, minimal...Winn had the seventh lowest slugging percentage in the National League last season. He should benefit moving from AT&T Park to the new Yankee Stadium, but let's not kid ourselves. There is no chance he will exploit the stadium the way Damon did.

Damon was proven in New York, proven in the postseason. He and Hideki Matsui were part of the Yankees' championship fiber. Yes, both are in their mid-30s. But something will be missing--something immeasurable--without them.

Losing one, I can understand. Losing both, and replacing them with lesser talents, that's too big a risk.

The Yankees miscalculated. Damon miscalculated. Both will be poorer for it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Obama's First State of the Union Address

I liked the SOTU speech; it reminded me of why I voted for him. But Obama's lack of leadership and too much delegation when he needed to roll up his own sleeves and get dirty this past year, have left me in let's-wait-and-see mode. That said, here are the 5 parts of the speech (in no particular order) that most stood out for me:

- Tagged the Dems in Congress as cowards: SWEET

- Called out SCOTUS on their decision enabling corporations to spend unlimited loot buying politicians--I mean, on political campaigns: SWEET

- Harped on bipartisanship: BITTERSWEET [hitting my head against the wall]

- Praised Ronald Reagan: BITTER (What's the point? The folks that are swayed by it are quite few and the Republicans won't give you points for it, so why bring him up?)

- Labeled the GOP as party of "no"; reminded folks of how they brought on the failures of the past 8 years and our continued economic problems; pointedly asked 'em to cough a better plan for healthcare reform, if they have one, etc: DELICIOUS

Bonus:
- Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) sitting together and being later called in the press "the axis of weasels": SWEET

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

WTF?! (Yankees edition)

- The Yankees have signed switch-hitting OF Randy Winn, to ostensibly platoon with Brett Gardner in LF, which means the hopes of those of us wishing to see Johnny Damon in the Bronx this season have been dashed. Fuck.

Winn, who hit for the interstate against LH pitching last season while on the SF Giants (more than 100 points less than Gardner!), was obtained for 1 yr @ $2m. This is what they got in lieu of Johnny?! (Excuse me while I get a get a towel to soak up the blood from my furious head-scratching.)

- David Cone has left the YES Network; ESPN is interested but word is he might take a position with the MLB Players Association. Btw, the split, allegedly, was not amicable. Tino Martinez is said to be taking his place in the booth.

WTF?!

Fox News Hypocrisy...yet again

So, James O'Keefe, who became their their golden boy for his hidden camera ACORN "investigation", is arrested by the FBI--along with the son of acting Louisiana U.S. Attorney Bill Flanagan and two others--for attempting to wiretap the offices of Louisiana senator Mary Landrieu, and his biggest Faux Noise supporters and promoters Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, have yet to even mention his involvement and arrest in what some are dubbing "Louisiana Watergate." That's fair and balanced for ya.

Here's The Wall Street Journal's take.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Johnny Was

With baseball's Spring Training mere weeks away I've been thinking about the Johnny Damon-Yankees stalemate. People have been quick to judge him, especially since he is represented by the much loathed Scott Boras.

But if it's true that Damon was willing to come back to The Bronx with a 30% salary cut (from $13m/yr to $10m) but the Yankees offered a 50% cut ($6-$7m/yr) after he had a career year and was a pivotal part of the 2009 championship team, then shame on the Yankees. I know it's a business but that's just disgraceful. And bad karma, too.

As for Brett Gardner in LF on Opening Day, well, Cody Ransom really worked out too, huh? Yeah, I'm exaggerating--but not by much. Bottom line: Brett Gardner is not an everyday-caliber player. Not in The Bronx, anyway.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Better Not Happen in the Bronx or Flushing

Ever since a fan got tossed out of Yankee Stadium in '08 for not wanting to stick around in his seat during the customary 7th inning stretch rendition of "God Bless America"--enough with the song already; "Take Me out to the Ball Game, please!--I've been very wary of police and security at sporting events I might attend. (I only go to baseball games, but if I'm at YS a trip to the bathroom during "GBA" is a sure thing in my book. Guess I've been lucky.)

So, I just came across a clip of a Jets fan getting arrested for seemingly no reason in during a game vs the Chargers. The video is before and during the arrest, but the fact that the Chargers fans around him are telling the cops that he didn't do anything, is quite telling.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jon Stewart Nails it...again

In the midst of the horrific tragedy enveloping Haiti at the moment, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart cuts both ways by managing to be both satirical and compassionate...fake news bringing true perspective...6 has long become 9, Jimi.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Big Mac on the Grill

So, Mark McGwire finally confessed and the baseball world has been abuzz ever since the press release and subsequent Bob Costas interview on MLBN.

Some thoughts:

Can we really say McGwire couldn't have been as great w/o steroids? He had two seasons—yes, two—where his HR total was exorbitant (70 and 65, in '98, '99, respectively), but this is a guy who hit 49 HRs in his rookie year and 42 in his last "clean" season. (Judging by Costas' post interview comments you would think McGwire hit 60+ HRs every year for 10 years. Until you look at McG's numbers, that is.)

The dirty little truth, that those writers who feign moral outrage will never admit, is that there are tons of players who did PEDs and whose baseball careers never amounted to ANYTHING. [crickets chirping] Yeah, I know, that would involve the kind of fair-minded assessment most of them are incapable of. (And how do we make judgments about numbers during the steroid era without knowing if supposedly juiced hitters were or weren't facing juiced pitchers, for instance?)

And let's not get into the hypocrisy of the supposed pulchritude of the game: JC Romero, not some scrub, but the Phillies' setup man during their '08 championship season was soon after caught and suspended for a PED violation and NO ONE said a word. Where was the outrage then, if it's all about the sanctity of the game?

Regarding the MLBN panel who covered the pre and post interview segments, as MLBN's own Harold Reynolds later stated, they made it seem as if McG comes off much worse than he actually did; not like he painfully 'fessed up to what he did but as if he had flipped everyone a big middle finger during the interview. No, the MLBN guys didn't rubber stamp McG's statements; they actually went out of their way to kick dirt in his face.

For the record, I don't condone what he did and wish he hadn't done it. I'm disappointed in players that have decided to take the steroids route, including faves of mine. 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, are the writers going to change their minds and grant McG their Hall of Fame vote now that he's finally given a confession/apology which they tirelessly demanded? No, right? They're too busy attacking the confession. (Damned if you do...)
And btw, why the hell do writers get to select the HoF inductees? They are the baseball equivalent of Ellen DeGeneres as a judge on American Idol, for Pete's sake.

So I say, let the self-righteous, irresponsible and trifling scribes harp on about what McG did or did not say Monday night. Meanwhile, players are the only ones to take the fall for this kind of mess when EVERYONE in baseball—MLB, ownership, agents, writers etc, etc, etc—all benefited when it happened. Whatever. Let me just say, good luck to Big Mac and the Cards in 2010.

Enough already.

Is Sarah Palin joining Fox News or...

...Fox Sports? At least she has done sportscasting in the past.
Then again, "The Quitta from Wasilla", wasn't any good at that, either.