Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fun Stuff in Minnesota!

...update from fivethirtyeight. 59 seats for Dems hangs in the balance of this last senate race. 58 is awesome (we should always be able to get a couple republicans voting our way on almost anything; a virtual lock), but 59? Wow. That would rule. Looking like mid-January now, before we know winner; if then...

Franken May Be Ceding Ground on Absentee Ballots

In St. Louis County, one of the bluest areas in Minnesota, the Coleman campaign succeeded in blocking more than a third of absentee ballots set aside by the state for potentially being wrongfully rejected from being counted -- including one ballot from an elections judge. Per the Star Tribune:

DULUTH - Shirley Graham was astonished to learn that a lawyer from Norm Coleman's campaign on Tuesday blocked her absentee ballot from being added to the U.S. Senate recount.

"I'm an election judge," said Graham, of Duluth. "I expected to be the last person whose ballot wouldn't be counted."

Her sealed ballot was among 60 from St. Louis County that were blocked by representatives of Coleman and Al Franken during the first day of a statewide review of absentee ballots that may have been wrongly rejected in last month's election. Under a state Supreme Court ruling, local election officials and the two campaigns must all agree that a ballot was wrongly rejected for it to be sent along to St. Paul for inclusion in the recount.

Coleman's camp, which rejected 59 of the 60 ballots set aside Tuesday in St. Louis County, objected to Graham's ballot on the grounds that the date next to her signature did not match the date next to the signature of her witness, Jack Armstrong.
There are a couple of things in the preceding paragraphs that the Franken campaign ought to be worried about. Firstly, quite a high percentage of absentee ballots were rejected -- 60 out of what had been reported yesterday to be 161 ballots under consideration in St. Louis County, or 37 percent. All but one of those objections were made by the Coleman campaign. Secondly, the Coleman campaign is getting away with blocking ballots for asinine reasons. In the case cited above, for instance, the ballot was rejected because the date provided by the voucher did not match the date the date provided by the voter. Not only is there no requirement that the dates of the signatures match -- there is no requirement that the signatures are dated, period.

Now, it's not clear that the Franken campaign can do much about the Coleman campaign blocking any one individual ballot, since the process that the Minnesota Supreme Court set up essentially gives either campaign a unilateral veto on any ballot they do not want counted. The risk to Franken is that the Coleman folks will be applying one standard in St. Louis County, where the average absentee ballot would probably help Franken, but another (more liberal) one in Dakota County, where Coleman won the plurality of votes. If Coleman is blocking 37 percent of the ballots in blue counties and not blocking any at all in red counties, then it is far from clear that Franken will succeed in gaining ground from the absentee ballot phase and in fact the opposite might turn out be true.

The Franken could take one obvious counter-measure: move to reject a high percentage of absentees in red counties. Perhaps they have been doing that; reporting has pretty sporadic between all the different counties where this process is taking place, so we really don't know.

For the time being, however, they seem inclined to play it cool and maintain the moral highground, perhaps believing that they'll have a strong argument on Equal Protection grounds if they need to contest the election later on.

From my vantage point, Franken could possibly have played his hand more strongly on Monday, once it became clear that the Coleman campaign was making no pretense whatsoever of attempting to establish an objective, statewide standard for the counting of absentees, essentially just cherry-picking ballots and daring the Franken campaign to call them on it. The result of that process was that no statewide standards were agreed upon, enabling either campaign to apply different standards across different counties.

The upshot of all of this is that Franken probably now has grounds to contest the election if at any point he falls behind, either after the vote is certified or, as is somewhat more likely, following a successful Coleman challenge on the question of duplicate ballots.

Statement from spacejace (see post below this for context)

Look folks, sometimes it just comes down to surviving. Sometimes a thousands-year history of religious warring and idealogical battling (along with who actually "started it") takes a back seat to living or dying. This is what the Israelis are facing as we speak. FACT: Hamas - also known as the "Palestinian government" - earlier this month, unprovoked, launched a barrage of missles into the Israel civilian population. That is a fact. We're not debating that.

I strongly believe the very good Palestinian people wish their government had not done this. The Palestinian people are just as sick to death of all the death as Israeli's are. Palestinians didn't vote for this government like we vote for ours. There were a litany of things beyond their control involved in the last Palestinian election, but suffice it to say, they didn't have much choice; they were strong-armed and lied to, among other things, and the outcome was never really in doubt. If the Palestinian people or the "Palestinian Authority" could remove Hamas (and the other terrorist factions actually running the country) they would. I sincerely believe that. Perhaps they'll be able to take a more active role in the future. But it's important we give ve the Palenstinian people the benefit of the doubt.

So, where does this leave us? it's simple, really. Very simple. As simple as 2+2=4. I'll explain:

1. Bad people (Hamas, Hezballoh, Iran, others) who want to cause chaos, terrorize and inflict death on innocent civilians in Israel launch hundreds of missles to achieve those goals (let's not forget: Iran is [f]actually suppying the aforementioned with money, weapons and resources because they have stated outright - nothing ambiguous here! - "all of Israel must perish!")
2. Israel, wanting to stop the indiscriminate killing of their people - and who have a lot of firepower on their side - decide they need to stop the bad people from doing this.
3. So they launch an offensive (wishing sincerely they didn't have to) to stop those people, since NO ONE else wants to, or is caple of doing so (including the Palestinian people, who want peace).

See? Simple.

Lots of people will die. Good people, bad people, innocent people; all kinds of people. People from many different countries, from many different terrorist factions; people from all sides.

At THIS PRECISE point in time, it's not about a palestinian state, religion, who started it way back when, and any other myriad of dynamics involved and unsolved. I can assure you in due time, a peace process addressing these issues will be discussed and implemented during an Obama administration, led by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton (you go grrrlfriend!); but for now, it's about surviving (by the way, why haven't more people noticed that the Bush administration 100%, absolutely ignored this problem for his entire 8 years as President? Bush literally couldn't have cared less). Israel is fighting back to save their people. They are targeting ONLY the terrorists and quite honestly, I am AMAZED at the precautions Israel is taking (and has taken) to avoid civialian deaths (the exact opposite of what Hamas/the Palestinian Government does when attacking Israel); it's unprecedented. Research the precautions Israel takes and the techonology they use to do this on your own; you'll be amazed, I assure you.

I've often said that Israel has shown great restraint over the last couple of decades in their dealings with Palestine. The fact is, if Israel did not care about the Palestinian people, they could take care of the problem once and for all by decimating the entire country fairly quickly, a couple of months actually. They have chosen not to do that for as long as I've been alive. If I hear one more analyst or writer talk about a "disproportianate response" with regards to Israel's military action (this happened often when Hezballoh/Lebanon decided to indsicriminatley send missles to kill civilians into Israel a couple of years ago), I don't know what I'm gonna do. Listen: there is no such thing as a "disproportianate response" in war folks. I got news for you: when it gets down to bottom-bottom lines like "live or die," there are no rules. None.

It sucks for the innocent Palestinian people.
It sucks for the innocent Israeli people.
The irony is, this is what Hamas wants.

The killing and madness continues. Loop SO not closed....

Statement from Shimon Peres

Israel's President Shimon Peres, On the Attacks in Gaza (several days ago)

President Peres:
"It is the first time in the history of Israel that we, the Israelis, cannot understand the motives or the purposes of the ones who are shooting at us. It is the most unreasonable war, done by the most unreasonable warriors.

The story is simple. Israel has left Gaza completely, out of our own free will, at a high cost. In Gaza there is no single Israeli civilian or soldier. They were evacuated from Gaza, our settlements, which called for a very expensive cost. We had to mobilize 45,000 policemen to take out our settlers from there. We spent $2.5 billion. The passages were open. Money was sent to Gaza. We suggested aid in many ways - economically, medically, and otherwise. We were very careful not to make the lives of the civilian people in Gaza difficult. Still I have not heard until now a single person who could explain to us reasonably: why are they firing rockets against Israel? What are the reasons? What is the purpose?

And I must say also that the phenomenon about Israel is the restraint of the army and the unity of the people. The army waited and waited; the Palestinians asked for a ceasefire, and we agreed. They themselves have violated the ceasefire. Again, we didn't know why, until it came to a point where we were left without a choice but to bring an end to it. The operation was planned carefully and the army was true to its principles: namely, to be precise in its targets and careful not to hit civilian life. There is a problem because many of the bombs were stored in private houses. We have contacted the owners of the houses, the people that dwell there, and told them leave it. You can't live with bombs. We have to bring an end to the source of the bombs.

Israel doesn't have any ambition in Gaza. We left out of our free choice. We have never gone back to the idea of returning to Gaza. It's over. But we cannot permit that Gaza will become a permanent base of threatening and even killing children and innocent people in Israel for God knows why. I feel that in our hearts, we don't have any hatred for the Gazan people. Their suffering doesn't carry any joy in our hearts. On the contrary, we feel that the better they will have it, better neighbors we shall have. Now that Hamas is turning to the Arab world for help, the truth is that the Arab world has to turn to Hamas for the help of Hamas. If Hamas will stop it, there is no need for any help. Everything can come again to normalcy. Passages: open; economic life: free; no Israeli intervention; no Israeli participation in any of the turnarounds in Gaza.

As a nation, we feel united. As a nation, there is wholehearted support for the army, the way they handled it, their restraint, their discrimination, and their responsibility. The great winner can be reason, and reason will lead to peace. We are very serious, in a serious mood. Many of our children are still in the shelters, and we would like them, like the children of Gaza, to breathe fresh air again. This is the story, and whoever asks us to stop shooting - they have to change the address. Let them turn to Hamas and ask them to stop shooting, and there won't be shooting. Thank you very much."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Eagles at Vikings

thoughts/prediction on the Eagles/Vikings match-up this Sunday afternoon...

I like the Birds to beat MIN this weekend. I actually think they have a few matchups that are good. I think our special teams are better, as well as both kickers and both returners. I think our coaching is SLIGHTLY better, due to MorningWheig being in there an a bigger part of the playcalling lately (running more because of him I say), and perhaps it helps a little he used to be in that division, I don't know. MN's passing game is terrible. JJ MUST gameplan for their kickass run. He's been VERY weak at this this season (San Fran, Washignton, CHI? - there was another one); he can't have a weak outing like that. Plus, MIN passing game is so weak, he can afford to keep a safety, linebacker, etc up in the box to play the run. Seriously, this is perhaps our best matchup, allowing him to stack the box against the run. Of course, the biggest thing on our offense is ESTABLISHING THE RUN. It's fine with me if they go to pass, pass, pass, once they're up by two scores...but they HAVE to get up by two scores first in this case. And they have to run the ball to open up the passing game. I know this KILLS Reid, but he's been decent doing it as of late, and he HAS to do this early on. This will help us not turn the ball over, will rest our defense, give our O-Line the 'aggressive' position right off, control the clock, and put Donovan and others in the "best position to make plays," like reid talks about but rarely ever does.

I like us to beat the Vikings by about 10 or 11 points. I'll go with this:
Eagles 24
Vikings 13

Let me reiterate however: if Reid goes back to his usual ways (gets away from what actually works) and abandons the run completely, like he did in the Cincy game, then my prediction shall forever be rescinded.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Christmas (whichever one you observe), Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, (various)New Years, and any other timely holiday/celebration/observance....


Peace to you and yours in the coming year.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

color me confused...

Below is an article from Salon on Obama's extremely surprising move. VERY rare are the times I can't get my head around something. Now is one of those times.

How the hell did Rick Warren get inauguration tickets?

Barack Obama knows liberals are upset he picked the conservative evangelical preacher to pray at the inauguration. And he doesn't care.
By Mike Madden

Dec. 19, 2008 |

For more than two years, cozying up to Rick Warren has been one of Barack Obama's favorite ways of showing evangelical Christians that he might not be so scary, after all -- and for just as long, palling around with Obama every once in a while has been Warren's way of trying to show more secular-minded people that he's not so bad, either.

So about the only thing less surprising than the outrage that news of Warren's selection to give the invocation at Obama's inauguration is prompting among gay activists, liberals and Obama supporters generally is probably Warren's appearance on the program in the first place. Obama and Warren have often used each other to demonstrate that they'll be willing to listen to people they disagree with -- and yes, also to let everyone know that they'll be willing to anger their friends. This isn't one of those political controversies that pop up out of nowhere without warning; whether they want to admit it or not, it seems Obama's advisors brought on this fight with his own supporters knowing full well what was coming.

Having Warren speak at the inauguration might make more sense for Obama, now that he's been elected, than going to Warren's Saddleback Civil Forum in August in search of evangelical votes did from a campaigning standpoint. When the ballots were counted he only did marginally better among white evangelicals than Gore and Kerry; the idea now, apparently, is to signal that Obama will be a president for all Americans, whether they voted for him on Nov. 4 or not.

Except that Warren, by this point, isn't just the purpose-driven friendly face of evangelical Christianity anymore. He took sides, very publicly, in favor of California's Proposition 8, which overturned the state's gay marriage law. "About 2 percent of Americans are homosexual, or gay and lesbian, people," Warren said in a widely circulated video (and in a virtually identical e-mail to his congregation) before the election. "We should not let 2 percent of the population determine to change a definition of marriage that has been supported by every single culture and every single religion for 5,000 years. This is not just a Christian issue, this is a humanitarian issue." Prior to that, his late summer Civil Forum, at which he interviewed McCain and Obama, was seen by many liberals as an ambush. Instead of sticking to questions on areas where Warren truly has broken from some religious conservatives, like climate change, the importance of alleviating poverty and preventing HIV transmission, Warren drew Obama and John McCain into a discussion of old-school social conservative hot-button issues: the definition of marriage and whether life begins at conception. Days later, he turned around and blasted Obama's answers on abortion rights, comparing being pro-choice to denying the Holocaust.

But Obama was determined to defend his pick Thursday, and he set out the pro-Warren talking points himself, when a reporter brought it up at his now all-but-daily press conference in Chicago. "A couple of years ago, I was invited to Rick Warren's church to speak, despite his awareness that I held views that were entirely contrary to his when it came to gay and lesbian rights, when it came to issues like abortion," he said. "Nevertheless, I had an opportunity to speak. And that dialogue, I think, is part of what my campaign's been all about -- that we're not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is to be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans."

Translated out of press-conference-speak, though, that basically means: "I know you're upset. Too bad." Linda Douglass, a spokeswoman for Obama's inauguration committee and a senior advisor during the campaign, told Salon later that picking Warren "was not a political decision," which is usually the surest sign that something was exactly that. Obama aides wouldn't go into the decision-making process that led to Warren's selection, but Douglass admitted they predicted some of the fury it caused ahead of time. "People don't go into these kinds of decisions unaware that there might be some criticism, but on the other hand, the overriding goal, again, was this message of inclusivity," she said.

The problem is, many liberals, and gay activists, especially, are wondering exactly who was being included. "It's a symbolic role," said Brad Luna, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign. "[Warren's] job there is to kind of represent the spiritual totality of our nation. When that sort of person is put there, it definitely makes our community stop and think, 'Wow, are we part of the fabric of this inclusive new day, as we thought?'" The Human Rights Campaign issued an open letter criticizing Obama's choice on Wednesday. The fact that Obama, too, sees Warren's role as symbolic only made things worse. "We certainly know that Obama disagrees with Warren on gay rights issues, and we know that saying the prayer is not the same as setting policy," said Peter Montgomery, a spokesman for People for the American Way. "We certainly have great hopes for positive change in the Obama administration. The question is really elevating, to this place of singular honor, someone who has so recently trashed part of the community."

Making matters worse, the Obama team evidently decided not to alert anyone who was likely to be upset about the pick ahead of time. News of Warren's involvement in the inauguration came out of the congressional committee working on the inauguration instead of from Obama's own inaugural committee, a wholly separate entity. At least initially, aides for Obama's inaugural committee said the decision had come from Congress, not Obama. In fact, that wasn't the case at all. "That was solely the choice of the president-elect," said Gil Duran, a spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the congressional committee. Obama's staff sent explicit orders for whom to include in the inaugural ceremony up to Capitol Hill, since Congress is, technically, in charge of that part of the day. "Sen. Feinstein obviously disagrees with the views of Rev. Warren on issues that affect the gay and lesbian community," Duran said. "However, Sen. Feinstein respects the president-elect's prerogative to select a cleric to deliver the invocation." (That one doesn't need any translation -- Feinstein's office was politely, respectfully, throwing Obama under the bus.)

Warren's spokesman, A. Larry Ross, told Salon Obama had contacted Warren to invite him, not the other way around. In a statement, Warren said, "I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn’t agree on every issue, to offer the invocation at his historic inaugural ceremony." But so far, say both Obama aides and his critics, there hasn't been much of a similar attempt to reach out to key allies who are upset about the pick and patch things up.

Obama hasn't even taken office yet, and it's already clear that he doesn't hold grudges (file Warren, Rick, somewhere behind Lieberman, Joe, on the list of people Obama has refused to seek revenge against for campaign-related slights). He's also determined to carry his post-partisan rhetoric from the trail all the way into the White House, and he seems to believe he can lead the country to a new united, consensus-driven politics. But first, he may need to find a way to convince everyone else on his side that that approach is the right one.

no inauguration for spacejace...

Dear Mr. spacejace,

Thank you again for contacting my office in regards to Inauguration Tickets. The upcoming Inauguration Ceremony for President-elect Barack Obama is expected to bring many hundreds of thousands of people to the greater Washington, DC area to enjoy this historic event.

My office received over 4,000 requests for tickets for the Inauguration Ceremony, but unfortunately, the allocation we will receive is for less than 200 tickets. To fairly share this limited number of tickets, we have used a lottery to distribute the tickets randomly to constituents. Unfortunately, your name was not one of the randomly-selected winners.

I would have liked to be able to invite each and every constituent to Washington, DC to view the event live, but obviously I could not do so. Regardless, I hope that everyone will be able to participate in the Inaugural Ceremony in their homes, somewhere in Washington, DC, or at other events that may take place throughout the local area.

Thank you for thinking of me and my office when you reach out for help, as I will continue to address your concerns. I look forward to serving you and our district this coming Congressional term.

Congressman Joe Sestak
Pennsylvania's 7th District

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"that's the spirit!" part I

Today I managed to get my first, real, "hey, the next couple of weeks just might be fun" feeling! I was in a local starbucks and was buying gift cards for my kid's teachers/day care providers (great idea my wife had!). Their teachers are great and we're so appreciative of them! So I was deciding between 3 different credit-card sized gift cards, one cuter/cooler than the next, and then I had to decide on the type of holder the card went in. A red fabric pouch with a reindeer on it or a red knitted mitted? Cool! So I finally suss this out, and I order a quad venti latte and ask, "does anyone ever order 5, 6, or 7 shots?" The Baristress(?) answers, "oh, 8 is the most-common number of shots I get!," dude behind counter answers, "oh I made a 12-er once!," and yet another employee yells, "I made one once that was ALL shots; it was ONLY SHOTS!" I ponder that for a few seconds, then make a terribly dumb mistake and head out without my bag-full of gift cards (9 in all, not cheap) and coffee beans. As I'm practically out the door, a young woman says, "you forgot your bag!" I was just like, "that rules. wow. thank you so much." I was relieved to the core; for the pain I didn't have to endure.

And that's when it hit me: the Christmas spirit! People were smiling. I was buying things. people were helping; nice. a quad latte. people were cheery; fun. and they were saving my ass (ie: money).

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

...and the fun continues in Minnesota!

...good grief. the Minnesota re-count for Senator continues, and this event is truly a lesson in politics. And no one that I've seen up to this point has done a better job detailing the nuts and bolts of this improbable and very interesting race, than the journalists, analysts, writers and reporters from FiveThirtyEight, my favorite new political site/blog. When it comes to election analysis and talent, they're tops (their polls and charts are just ill). Check them out, for real! following is one of today's posts by Nate Silver....

Coleman v. Minnesota Canvassing Board

This afternoon, Minnesota's Supreme Court will take up Norm Coleman's request (PDF) to stop the counting of so-called "fifth-pile" absentee ballots in Minnesota. These are ballots that initially were rejected by the counties, but that upon further review appear to have been rejected for invalid reasons. Finding some way to preclude these ballots from being counted might represent Coleman's best chance for victory, since the evidence points toward Franken picking up a significant number of votes if and when such ballots are included.

Coleman is making essentially two arguments in his legal brief:

1) That the Canvassing Board does not have the jurisdiction to count such ballots (rather, he claims, authority to do so rather rests solely with the courts), and,
2) That counting such ballots under the recommendation of the Canvassing Board would violate the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution, since the different counties are apparently using different procedures in attempting to count them.

Coleman's complaint is well-written and, on its surface, fairly reasonable. However, it is not clear how much good it will ultimately do him.

It seems clear enough that, as Coleman's complaint suggests, the Canvassing Board does not have the authority to require that the "fifth pile" ballots be counted. However, the Canvassing Board has not required that these ballots be included. Instead, it has merely recommended to the counties that they re-evaluate such ballots, and notified them that they will accept new vote tallies from them if they elect to do so.

The problem with this, Coleman's complaint alleges, is that the counties are applying inconsistent procedures in counting the "fifth pile" ballots. Most fundamentally, some counties are in the process of counting them, while others have chosen not to do so. Coleman contends that this violates Equal Protection, and cites Bush v. Gore as his principal point of case law. It is not fair, Coleman contends, that some counties might treat the same ballot differently from another one.

Coleman's lawsuit, however, runs into a couple of significant problems.

Firstly, if Equal Protection is being violated by the "fifth pile" process, then one can also plausibly argue that Equal Protection was violated in the initial accounting of such ballots, since some counties were apparently applying different standards to determine what did and did not constitute a legal ballot in the first place. In Duluth, for example, local officials had been rejecting any absentee ballots that did not have a date next to their signature, before discovering that this is not a valid reason for rejecting a ballot under Minnesota law.

Coleman's more fundamental problem, however, is that it is not clear what kind of remedy the court could provide him with. The most obvious remedy would not be to throw out the fifth pile ballots in their entirety, but rather to set up a process wherein such ballots are counted uniformly from county to county. One should remember that, in Florida in 2000, the recount was brushing up against a state-mandated deadline for certification of the vote (in Bush v Gore, the court did not rule against Gore so much as it declined to intervene as his clock ran out). In Minnesota, however, there appears to be no specific deadline for completing the recount, and so such a concern would not apply. If the state needs to take a little longer to see that every vote is counted, then it probably will.

It is also less than clear that Coleman would stand to benefit if such a comprehensive and consistent review of absentee ballots took place. On the contrary, to the extent that Franken expects to benefit from having the absentee ballots counted, he would probably prefer that more rather than fewer counties do so. Moreover, among the counties that have declined to count their fifth pile ballots is Ramsey (St. Paul), which is among the bluest counties in the state and a huge source of potential gains for Franken.

Coleman, then, seems to be adopting something of an underwear gnomes strategy:

1. Force Franken to go to court to get the absentee ballots counted;
2. ???
3. Profit!

Coleman could very conceivably win his lawsuit, but have it work to his ultimate detriment if the end result is a more complete and comprehensive review of the absentee ballots. Until and unless Coleman comes up with some arguments why the rejected absentee ballots should not be counted at all, he is likely spinning his wheels, regardless of what the court rules today.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On futility, or, a silver lining.

"Cleveland Browns Football" is beginning to sound oxymoronic. I'm happy the Eagles won last night, I like the team and root for them to make the postseason, but by the same token it's painful to be a diehard Browns fan. Thankfully, they only play every four years.

Time to clean house.

It's apparent that Romeo Crennell, his staff, and the GM Phil Savage have lost the team. You can say, "players have to make the plays," or "there's major injury trouble there," but in the end solid coaching and foresight in a front office overcome these difficulties. Great teams are well-managed from the owner down to the locker room custodian. The Browns simply are not.


How does Joe Thomas make the starting Pro Bowl roster and Josh Cribbs doesn't? Thomas got his shit kicked in last night. He looked like a high schooler. Cribbs was, in contrast, not utilized enough, but should be on anyone's starting roster. Meanwhile, Shaun Rogers is, well, Shaun Rogers. The guy you do not want charging up the middle after your QB.

Ask McNabb.

Go Eagles!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Some Baseball

Well, the Yankees (aka, the Great Satan) have landed CC Sabathia for 7 years and $161 million, and they're still after AJ Burnett. Talk about a bailout!

Thankfully, the Tribe appears poised to sign Kerry Wood, who, if he manages to remain unbroken for an entire season, will finally provide the back end of a bullpen sorely in need of a back end of a bullpen. In addition, it looks as though Jhonny (wtf is up with how I spell my name?) Peralta is doing well at the hot corner in winter ball, opening up the possibility for Asdrubal (natural shortstop) Cabrera to move to the hole, and giving Josh ("what's this long stick for, again?") Barfield another chance to rise to the occasion of making a major league roster.

Please, oh, please (deity of your choice) let it be true. After all, it's always next season in Cleveland.

"History Will Judge..."

Those of us left-of-center types have been saying this for going on eight years: "Worst. President. Ever." We've been joined in more recent years by many of our not-quite-so-liberal friends from the middle, and even a few authentic conservatives who recognize that the neocon/christofascist alliance of the GOP has run their party into a ditch. Thus, polling such as the NBC/WSJ numbers that just came out:

George W. Bush: Mr. 20%

In spite of the Rovian campaign currently organized to polish the Shrub's "legacy," I submit that history will judge #43 as not much more than a useful idiot, readily doing the bidding of his handlers and the neocon cabal that actually made the decisions of "the Decider."

That swagger of his has long ceased to seem authentic, and Mr. Bush in recent months has even seemed to me to have reached a point of realization about his tenure. Since I can't find it in my liberal heart to truly hate, my reaction is to re-humanize him, such that I sense a profound regret despite his outward talk of "no regrets." Perhaps there is enough native intelligence behind the beady eyes to realize that he - as well as a nation - was horribly used by others, that this past eight-year orgy of imperialism and suppression was planned well in advance of his arrival; that, indeed, his arrival was part of the plan. For that, I feel sorry for him. (But I'm not losing sleep over it.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Orlando & Miranda

So, they've been dating a while now, and there are rumors they're engaged. Quite the good looking couple, no? Thought I'd throw a "what if?"/fantasy-world poll out there for both of them. See sidebar on left for pic of each and poll question...

Giant Misunderstanding

by Lee Russakof

After playing their two best games in back-to-back must-wins, the Eagles’ bandwagon is filling up and the calls for Andy Reid’s head have been silenced.

Call me crazy, but I’m going against the tide (shocker) and saying this: The last two games shouldn’t save Reid’s job—they should be the final nails in his coffin.

The 7-5-1 Birds went up to New York and manhandled the best team in football. They treated the Giants like the Giants have treated the rest of the league.

The Eagles pounded the ball over and over again into the Giants’ line. They controlled the clock, kept third downs manageable, and tired out the G-Men’s defense. In short, they looked like the Giants.

It was everything every fan and writer in Philly has been asking Reid to do for 11 weeks—a grind ’em out, dominate-the-trenches-on-both-sides-of-the-ball strategy.

And it is inexcusable it took Reid this long to do it.

In a year as wide open as this one, any team that makes the playoffs has a legitimate shot at winning it all (aside from the Cardinals).

Sure, the elite teams—the Giants, Titans, and Steelers—are all very good. But they aren’t unbeatable. It’s not as if any of them has an exorbitant edge in talent. After all, the Eagles have already beaten two of the three.

What separates the three from the rest of the NFL is their coaches’ commitment to physicality. When you play any of those three teams, you know you are going to be sore Monday morning.

The Steelers proved that that’s how you win in the NFL back in ’06 when they won it all. The Giants reinforced it during last year’s run. Even the Colts, who won in ’07, did so behind 190 yards in the Super Bowl from Dominic Rhodes and Joseph Addai.

So why does it take Andy until December to realize the error of his pass-happy ways?

Better yet, why does it take him until December every year to figure it out?

During the last two games, the Eagles ran the ball more than they passed. They won both.

Last year, when the Eagles focused on a run-pass balance, they took the eventual-champion Giants to the wire and finished with three straight wins.

Two years ago, it took a Donovan McNabb injury to force Andy to even out his offense. That balance led to a five-game winning streak and a Jeff Garcia-led playoff berth.

How many times do we have to watch the same script play out?

Every time the Eagles dedicate themselves to running the football, they go on a run. And yet, it still seems the players have to
convince Andy Reid to pound the ball.

“The coaches stuck with it,” Tra Thomas said. “They didn’t get discouraged when there was a two-yard run.”

“Coach stayed with it,” Brian Westbrook added. “He was very committed to it. I give a lot of credit to him because usually we’re not that committed to it. But he saw we were getting it done.”

Daily News writer Les Bowen asked Andy Reid about why he was committed to running the ball Sunday despite only five yards on the first nine carries. Reid didn’t say, “Because I wanted to win,” or “Because I wanted to control the ball.”

He said, “the weather conditions were the biggest factor.”

Bowen quipped, “Do fans who want to see you run the ball more hope for really high winds the rest of the season?”

And yet Andy seemed to miss the joke. “I think the fans just want to win. They don’t care if we run it or pass it.”

That’s true Andy…we just want to win. But you win by running the football. Why is it you seem to be the only one in this city who still can’t see that?

Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Over the past few years, Andy Reid has proven he falls under that

The sad thing is, those of us who keep expecting Andy to finally “get it,” are just as insane.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Turning Out The Braindead Megaphone

"in a country that builds lavish sports stadiums and showers Wall Street with trillion-dollar bailouts — 18,000 people die each year because they lack health insurance. We permit this annual massacre while our wasteful system exacerbates our debt and saps our economic competitiveness by forcing us to spend more money per capita on health care than any other nation."

This piece is from David Sirota, one of the best Journalists in the country and a relentless fighter of corporate greed and it's terrible influence our government. Learn more about him by clicking to his blog on left.

Article begins:

If you're having trouble remembering what the recent election was all about, rest easy: you’re probably not going senile – you’re likely experiencing the momentary effects of brainwashing.

For weeks, your television, newspaper and radio have been telling you America is a "center-right nation" that elected Barack Obama to crush his fellow "socialist" hippies, discard the agenda he campaigned on, and meet the policy demands of electorally humiliated Republicans.

This is the usual post-election nonsense from the Braindead Megaphone, as author George Saunders famously calls our political and media noise machine. When George W. Bush wins by 3 million votes, the megaphone blares announcements about a conservative mandate that Democrats must respect. When Obama wins by twice as much, the same megaphone roars about Democrats having no mandate to do anything other than appease conservatives.

It's confusing, isn't it? We hazily recall backing Obama and his progressive platform. Yet, the megaphone's re-educative shock treatment aims to wipe away that memory and conjure eternal conservatism from our spotless minds.

Luckily, we have polling to maintain our sanity.

Public opinion surveys show most Obama voters knew the Illinois senator is a progressive when they cast their ballots – and those votes for him weren't just anti-Bush protests, they were ideological. According to a post-election poll by my colleagues at the Campaign for America's Future, 70 percent of Americans say they want conservatives to help this progressive president enact his decidedly progressive agenda.

Sensing the enormity of these numbers, Obama seems ready to back a "big bang" of far-reaching initiatives. "We can't afford to wait on moving forward on the key priorities that I identified during the campaign," he said in his first radio address as president-elect.

Based on advertisements, Obama identified no more important priority than guaranteeing health care for all citizens. As the Campaign Media Analysis Group reported, he devoted more than two-thirds of his total television budget to ads that included health care themes. Consequently, a Pew poll found 77 percent of Americans said health care would be a decisive concern in their presidential vote.

The moral case for universal health care is obvious. In the world’s richest country — in a country that builds lavish sports stadiums and showers Wall Street with trillion-dollar bailouts — 18,000 people die each year because they lack health insurance. We permit this annual massacre while our wasteful system exacerbates our debt and saps our economic competitiveness by forcing us to spend more money per capita on health care than any other nation.

That said, if morality alone prompted solutions, this problem would have been addressed long ago.

Overcoming inertia on such a thorny issue requires budget pressure — which Obama definitely faces. While some claim the deficit should preclude bold health care legislation, it’s the other way around. The Congressional Budget Office says America’s fiscal gap is “driven primarily by rising health care costs,” meaning a fix is an imperative.

"People ask whether (Obama) has the fiscal breathing room to push health-care reform," economist Jared Bernstein told the Washington Post. "He doesn't have the fiscal breathing room not to do health-care reform."

Additionally, as with everything in Washington, a political motive is needed for action – and even conservatives acknowledge Democrats have such a motive when it comes to health care.

Fifteen years ago, Republican strategist William Kristol warned that the Clinton administration's universal health care proposals represented "a serious political threat to the Republican Party" because, if passed, they "will revive the reputation" of Democrats as "the generous protector of middle-class interests."

As we all remember, Democrats failed to capitalize on the health care opportunity. But Kristol's prophecy was correct then, as it is now. With huge Democratic majorities in Congress come 2009, only the Braindead Megaphone is in Obama's way.

David Sirota is a bestselling author whose newest book, "The Uprising," was just released in June of 2008. He is a fellow at the Campaign for America's Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network — both nonpartisan organizations. His blog is at

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Bailout the auto industry? Hell yes. But...

I got crapped on for this, actually, at work, during lunch, by my fellow union members. Don't care. Bailout the industry and do it immediately.

But get a few pounds of flesh in return.

First of all, rescuing the auto manufacturers also rescues every other manufacturer that supplies specialized products/goods to the auto industry. These folks, mostly unionized workers, have already borne the brunt of management's piss-poor decision making. In fact the UAW has been a leader in calling for more efficient and better quality products, cost-effectiveness and reigning in some of the overreaching their corporate employers have engaged in over the past couple of decades. And that BS about unions driving up the costs of manufacturing is just that: manufactured BS from the likes of the usual dipshits like gasbag Limbaugh and the Drunk. Those jobs can't disappear, or nobody will be able to buy anything, let alone cars.

Second, the bailout has to be conditional. Very. Like 40-plus mpg minimum within a very few years, alternate fuel technology guarantees, and retooling to build mass-transit. If we're going to subsidize the industry, they damn well better make something the public actually wants.

Third, the fuckwits who drove the auto makers into this ditch need to give up the stock options and other incentives that still keep them rich as hell. Don't insult my intelligence with that phony "I'll work for a one dollar salary" bullshit. In fact, they ought to be shitcanned immediately by the new owners of the corporations, the American people, and replaced with management who actually has a vision and a plan for the future of domestic production (in other words, some brains).

And if the manufacturers don't come through? Threaten to go "Full Chavez" on them and nationalize the industry.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"history will judge," he likes to say. He's history, right?

get a life? that's the funny thing: we have lives!

okay, so check this out. its just another day on our fantasy football league's message board. and yes, we're all very, very good friends....

Coach H:
Fuck you and your lame-ass amiability you midget EYEtalian fuck.

"i can't beLEEEEV Slate came through for you like that! fucking AWESOME, man.
this is gonna a GREAT end to the season, either way it turns out."

What a fucking homo!! That kind of talk is an absolute disgrace to the warrior mentality of our great league. I am thankful that the great warrior The Tank was not around to hear such girlish chatter on this great league's message board. Jesus, Mary and mother-nonfucking Joseph!!!
Fuck the match-ups. I cannot tolerate such a prepubescent faggoty ass clown in the playoffs. This is personal now baby girl.

Coach A:
you take my olive branch, and break it? I take it back broken.

you scoff at my gesture of mutual respect for you and your efforts?

you have awakened the souls of my ancient forefathers -- whose blood and sweat helped to build the city of rome, and whose bones comprise that city's seven hills -- and they beg me to swear vendetta on you.

they implore me that you are not worthy of my gestures of respect and kindness, my desire for a battle joined honorably. they whisper to me that they want to bring you the harshest torment you have ever had. they will visit you in your dreams, little boy.


Coach H:
Fuck you and your pagan, Christ-hating ancestors. I shit on the seven hills and their graves.
The Baby Jesus has told me that the EYEtalian people and the evil institution of the Vatican are numero uno on his shit list.
He said the Pope is an evil false prophet who has led his holy teachings astray. Your people are misogynistic, self-absorbed, ignorant fools.
Q. Why is Italy shaped like a boot?
A. Do you think they could fit all that shit in a tennis shoe?

Coach A:
Pipe down. Especially about the tank. He'd never stoop to such barbarous insults. I spit on your snivelry ("I fear the hangover" was your own whimpering battle cry just this morning).


Coach J:
Wow, coming from an Irishman who supposedly can drink.

he "fears the hangover?"

talk about a disgrace to his people!!! The irish would have your hyde if they heard that talk! That might be the first time in league history, a coach has uttered something like, "I'm scared" when it comes to playing another team. Sad, dude.

Just for that, i will continue to give you twisted, confusing advice, somedays sincere, some days kidding (you'll never know which), as the week moves on, about what to do with your lineup this week. I will flood you with sometimes true, sometime false "news updates" on your players. I will fuck with you to make you lose on purpose. Why?

"Because I can," he said with a grin. "Because it's fun. And because the poor, pitiful, insufferable fool can do absolutely nothing about it. That's why. BWohh-hahaha-hahah!!!"

recession, christmas and crazy liberals

an email reply to a friend earlier....

Just so you know, we've BEEN in a recession for at LEAST a year (feels longer than that, no?). This isn't news to most Americans. The news that came out yesterday, was one of the more 'widely accepted' sources that actually proclaim recessions "official" (semantics really), finally did so, and stated yes, we have "been in recession since DEC, 2007."

As we know, Bush apologists (and I would submit others who aren't too bright and/or don't live and work in the real world) have just refused to admit as much, many doing what they always do by simply 'shooting the messenger': "ERP! crazy doom & gloom Liberals! Bleck!" or "..the crazy fringe left is at it again!" ...Rush "drug addict" Limbaugh and Sean "the Drunk" Hannity (as well as many other mainstram media types) make a career out of this nonsense!

Indeed, it appears the Bush administration (as well as the "free" market, wretched greedy-ness by america's biggest corpprations, and many other evil things) has left us a crippling mess for years to come, with the phrase "the great depression" becoming all too familiar in daily articles, analysis, and programs everywhere lately, when describing the size and scope of this fucking catastrophe most all Americans are in. By the way - and I've heard this mentioned lately, but have not heard a single supporter come out and defend it/themselves - just think if the republicans actually succeeded in privatizing social security a few years ago - GULP!!! You think electing Barack was a 'revolution?!' Sheeeet. We'd have witnessed a real revolution the likes America has NEVER seen! Maybe that dumb idea dies forever like "intelligent design" mercifully did.

ah well.... this is the type of crap and trouble a capitalist society breeds (when those at the top and in charge get criminal and evil-y greedy and empower themselves by deregulating themselves), which, by the way, I am whole-heartedly against now, if I wasn't before. Love democracy, mind you, but that capitalism thing, yo.... did I read today that two thirds of our entire economy is based on consumer spending? Was it always that way? Talk about a house of fucking cards!

...speaking of a capitialism (and getting trampled to death on Black Friday to save a couple bucks), "let's all start getting ready for Christmas! WOOHHoooooo!!!"