Friday, August 05, 2005

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Not blog! Posting will be light to non-existent for the next week. I'm going to the beach on Cape Ann. First stop, the Cal Ripken Regionals in Southbury, CT, this weekend, then off to Good Harbor.

Back August 15th or thereabouts.

CNN Dumbs Down

What's the difference between " - US edition" and " - International", you ask?

Here's the QuickVote question on CNN International:

Are Tony Blair's proposals to deport and exclude from UK those advocating hatred:

Too severe

About right

Too little too late

Here's the QuickVote question on US edition:

Can flirting at work hurt your career?



Are we morons because we read, US edition, or is, US edition, dumbed down for us morons? Is it the chicken or the egg?

Why I Prefer My Fruits &Vegetables Local & In Season

Why the Red Delicious No Longer Is
Decades of Makeovers Alter Apple to Its Core

I never liked the Red Delicious apples, or the yellow. They were always so mealy in texture, besides the flavorless issue. Nothing like going to an apple orchard in October and biting into a Mac you've just picked from a tree.

Other foods ruined by the quest for long life and profit are tomatoes, which are not meant to be light pink, flavorless, or cardboard; and cucumbers with wax on the outside, ewwww.

Plus, another grocery store irritant, PLEASE STOP misting the lettuce and herbs. They aren't meant to be wet all the time, and they rot when I get them home. Fine, fine, mist the peppers and the broccoli if you must, but put the leafy greens in a non-misting area of the produce department. They end up all waterlogged. Do you find yourself whipping your bunch of parsley around before you bag it, just to get the water off? Or is it just me?

Traitor Bob Walks

Novak Walks Off Live CNN Program

Robert D. Novak, the syndicated columnist whose unmasking of a C.I.A. operative touched off an investigation about a possible leak, stalked off a live appearance on CNN yesterday afternoon after James Carville, the Democratic strategist, accused him of trying to make a particular point "to show these right wingers" that he had "backbone" and was "tough."

The moderator of the program, Ed Henry, later said on the air that he had warned Mr. Novak that he planned to ask him "about the C.I.A. leak case."


After Mr. Carville tried to interrupt Mr. Novak twice, Mr. Novak said: "I know you hate to hear me. But you have to."

Mr. Carville interrupted again, saying of Mr. Novak, "He's got to show these right-wingers that he's got backbone."

A moment later, Mr. Carville said directly to Mr. Novak: "The Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching you. Show them you're tough."

Mr. Novak responded with a profanity, before telling Mr. Carville: "I hate that. Just let it go."

He stood up, removed his microphone and walked off.

Novak's exact quote was: "Well, I think that's bullshit. And I hate that. Just let it go."

If you're a TV sort, it's worth staying up until 11:30 p.m. for the re-run of last night's Daily Show on Comedy Central. Jon Stewart was positively gleeful as he showed Novak cursing and walking off, again and again.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Elections in Ohio

Someone posted a comment on this blog about questioning election results in Ohio (I believe I questioned Diebold). Just so the poster knows I'm not the only one:

Matt Taibbi: 'Highly irregular: The Ohio 2004 election story is going to come back'

The facts Taibbi outlines:

* As was the case in Florida, the secretary of state (Kenneth Blackwell, in Ohio), who is in charge of elections, was also the co-chair of the state's Bush-Cheney campaign.

* In a technique reminiscent of the semantic gymnastics of pre-Civil Rights Act election officials, Blackwell replaced the word "jurisdiction" with "precinct" in an electoral directive that would ultimately result in perhaps tens of thousands of provisional ballots--votes cast mainly by low-income residents--being disallowed.

* Blackwell initially rejected thousands of voter registrations because they were printed on paper that was, according to him, the wrong weight.

* In conservative, Bush-friendly Miami County, voter turnout was an Uzbekistan-esque 98.55 percent.

* In Warren county, election officials locked down the administration building and prevented reporters from observing the ballot counting, citing a "terrorist threat" (described as being a "10" on a scale of 1 to 10) that had been reported to them by the FBI. The FBI made no such report. Recounts conducted during this lockdown resulted in increased votes for Bush.

* In Franklin County, 4,258 votes were cast for Bush in a precinct where there were only 800 registered voters.

That 98.55% county really gets to me. So the total of number of voters in the hospital, drunk in a bar, high on meth, too lazy to go out, unaware of the political process, totalled less than 1.5% of the county? In America? Something happened.


President Makes It Clear: Phrase Is 'War on Terror'

GRAPEVINE, Tex., Aug. 3 - President Bush publicly overruled some of his top advisers on Wednesday in a debate about what to call the conflict with Islamic extremists, saying, "Make no mistake about it, we are at war."

In a speech here, Mr. Bush used the phrase "war on terror" no less than five times. Not once did he refer to the "global struggle against violent extremism," the wording consciously adopted by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other officials in recent weeks after internal deliberations about the best way to communicate how the United States views the challenge it is facing.

In recent public appearances, Mr. Rumsfeld and senior military officers have avoided formulations using the word "war," and some of Mr. Bush's top advisers have suggested that the administration wanted to jettison what had been its semiofficial wording of choice, "the global war on terror."

The Times characterizes this as Commander Codpiece overrulling his underlings, but I doubt that. I think Bush gets an phrase that covers a topic in his head, and repeats it every time the topic is raised. Repeat after me: freedom, lessons of 9/11, after 9/11, we had to look at the world differently, I believe in a culture of life, Saddam Hussein was a grave threat, the world is better off without him in power, I recognize that taking Saddam Hussein out was unpopular, I made the decision because I thought it was in the right interests of our security, if you harbor a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorist, we've got a great country, I love our values, the best way to defend America is to stay on the offense, we got to be right 100 percent of the time here at home, and they got to be right once, I am not going to shortchange our troops in harm's way, I'm not going to run up taxes, which will cost this economy jobs.

The Chimp knows his lines, and he's sticking to 'em! (Most of these phrases are taken from the second Presidential Debate last October.)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Hackett Loses, to County with a "Technical Malfunction"

I will always be suspicious of close races in Ohio and Florida. Billmon has the inside scoop on Schmidt's late win:

Too Close for Comfort

If you followed the returns last night, you may have noticed that one county in the district -- Clermont -- was extremely late in reporting part of its returns. Clermont is the second largest pool of votes in the district and provided roughly a quarter of all ballots cast yesterday. It's also a GOP stronghold (in a GOP stronghold district) and Jean Schmidt's home turf.

That being the case, it's not a big surprise Schmidt did well there, carrying the county with 58% of the two-party vote -- less than what a GOP candidate can usually expect, but enough to give her nearly a 5,000 vote margin in Clermont, and thus the election.

At about 9:00 PM ET last night, however, things didn't look nearly as good for Ms. Schmidt. In fact, her name looked more like Schmud. With 88% of the district's precincts reporting, including more than half of Clermont's, the count was almost evenly split -- with Schmidt holding a lead of less than 900 votes.

At that point, though, the Clermont election bureau experienced a "technical malfunction" with its optical scan readers:

The Board of Elections in Clermont County, east of Cincinnati, says it's optical scanners haven't counted all the ballots yet because it was so hot -- and humid -- Tuesday.

Board member Tim Rudd says the ballots pick up moisture when it gets hot, making it tougher for the optical scan machines to sort and count.

According to some reports I've seen -- but haven't been able to confirm -- at least part of the count in Clermont's final 91 precincts ended up being done by hand.

In any case, when the humidity had cleared, so to speak, Schmidt had picked up another 9,451 votes, compared to just 6,300 or so for Hackett -- an edge which, interestingly enough, almost equaled her winning margin for the district as a whole.

Very convenient, no? Or, as one local reporter put it:

Schmidt led by less than 1 percent with 88 percent of the precincts in. But she must have felt secure in knowing that the only uncounted precincts were in Clermont County, her home.
Indeed. But was there anything, well, Floridian, about this particular source of comfort? Beats me. Hackett apparently doesn't think so. He conceded before midnight. But some others who watched the count much more closely than I did found it all a bit odd:

Out if 91 precincts [in Clermont], about 12% of the [district] total, the margin went from 0.89% to 3.49%. In other words it almost quadrupled . .

I was projecting that, extrapolating from the first 100 precincts, the last 91 would have about 10,000 votes. In fact, the final tally has them giving out 50% more than that...over 15,000 votes.

Also, while Schmidt's margin in the first 100 [precincts] was about 56% to 44%, the margin is much, much wider in the last 91 -- 60% to 40%.

Also, this puts the overall total well out of range of any recount margin.

Curioser and curiouser. I wouldn't dwell on it so much, if not for the fact that Clermont has already shown a impressive knack for pulling Republican electoral bacon out of the fire, as I noted last week:

The ability of the Rovians to pull fresh GOP votes out of [Warren and Clermont] counties certainly challenged plausibility, and, in Clermont's case, almost defied mathematics. Consider the fact that according to the Census Bureau, Clermont's population rose only 4.4% (about 7,800 souls) between 2000 and 2003, while reported GOP turnout increased by roughly 31% (about 14,600 votes) from 2000 to 2004. This in a county that only had about 122,000 registered voters last year, according to the Cincinatti Enquirer.

Others have highlighted some equally interesting data points from last year's election in Clermont:

Three counties in southwestern Ohio – Butler, Clermont and Warren – provided Bush with a combined plurality greater than his statewide margin of victory. These results, when examined at the precinct level, are almost impossible to explain . . . In Clermont County there were 24 such precincts where Kerry received fewer votes than Gore. In Warren County there were six entire townships where voter registration increased by 28% to 79%. In all three counties, Kerry received fewer votes than Ellen Connally, a little-known, underfunded African-American municipal judge from Cleveland, running for Chief Justice. There must have been at least 13,500 voters who supported both Connally and Bush, or else the certified results are fraudulent. In these three counties, and in Delaware County as well, Bush received more votes than Issue One, the constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage. There must have been at least 10,500 supporters of gay marriage who voted for Bush, or else the certified results are fraudulent.
Of course, none of this proves, or even makes a circumstantial case, that yesterday's election was stolen. Maybe the inhabitants of Clerrmont County really are just unusually witless in their devotion to the GOP cause. I live in a Republican machine county myself, so I know how that goes.

But it's still rather remarkable how often the lightning seems to strike in Clermont -- and at the just the right time, producing just the right amount of votes for an otherwise endangered GOP candidate. Like I said, I'd feel a lot better about it if the party stalwarts who run the county's elections were describing the inner workings of the system to a grand jury -- under oath.

History Lesson from Professor Juan Cole

Fisking the "War on Terror"

Which begins:

Once upon a time, a dangerous radical gained control of the US Republican Party.

Hint: He is not George W. Bush, but I cried when he was elected and re-elected, too.

Prof. Cole traces the history of Al Qaida and radical Muslims, the demon spawn created by the Republican Party. A must read.

What is "Fisking", you ask? I didn't know either, so I went to the Wikipedia:


Fisking, or to Fisk, refers to the act of critiquing, often in minute detail, an article, essay, argument, etc. with the intent of challenging its conclusion or theses by highlighting logical fallacies and incorrect facts.

Noontime Update: This post formerly contained an amusing typo, "radical Muslins", which has been corrected. Quilters beware.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Ban Rafi

He used the same steroid Ben Johnson used in 1988, and we're supposed to believe it was an accident? Ban the cheater and all his cheating friends.

Popular Steroid Is at the Center of Palmeiro's Case
The positive drug test that has left Rafael Palmeiro's legacy in doubt involved the potent anabolic steroid stanozolol, a person in baseball with direct knowledge of the sport's drug-testing program said yesterday.

Stanozolol, known by its brand name, Winstrol, was most notably linked to the Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson of Canada, who was stripped of a gold medal in 1988 after testing positive for that steroid.

Stupidity and Steroids Come in Many Forms
Listening to Palmeiro, one could have got the impression that he had unwittingly used something, maybe given to him by another player, that turned out to be laced with a steroid. But yesterday two people in baseball with knowledge of the testing program questioned that impression.

The steroid Palmeiro was found to have in his system was, one of them said, a heavy-duty steroid, a substance often injected, not ingested. It has one of those strange steroid names: stanozolol. It is No. 24 on the list of anabolic androgenic steroids, covered by Schedule III of the Code of Federal Regulations, that appears on Page 160 of the collective bargaining agreement.

George Vecsey:
Orioles' Palmeiro Has Thrown Away His Credibility. Period.
WITH his Wayne Newton mustache and his expensive suit, Rafael Palmeiro oozed sincerity, under oath. He claimed he wanted to distance himself from the accusations of Jose Canseco, sitting right there, who had written that Palmeiro had used steroids when they were teammates in Texas in 1992 and '93.

"I have never used steroids. Period," Palmeiro testified March 17, in front of Congress. "I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never."

Now a new word has crept, and I do mean crept, into Palmeiro's vocabulary. The word is "intentionally." Because Rafael Palmeiro, with his 3,018 hits and 569 home runs, has tested positive for steroids and must sit out a 10-day suspension that sounds more like lifetime suspicion.


Good grief. Given the current suspension, the brazen Canseco now comes off as the most forthright of that sorry lot.

Palmeiro wants us to believe he has no idea how the foreign substance got into his system. But something good will come out of this, he insisted yesterday. From this shameful day onward, Rafael Palmeiro is volunteering to be an object lesson to children.

"You have to be careful what you're taking," he said, adding that children had to be careful about accepting "supplements" and "vitamins."

Of course they must. Children must also be careful not to stuff beans up their noses or stick their tongues against frozen playground poles in winter. But they probably already know that. Only a ballplayer with 20 years in the major leagues is dumb enough to swallow a bunch of stuff without getting it cleared by a doctor or a pharmacist.

Tom Boswell: A Big Star Plays A Bad Hand
[I]n one of the most unexpected announcements ever made in baseball, Palmeiro has been caught, suspended and has actually admitted to using steroids this season. Palmeiro simply claims that he has no idea how they got in his body.

Abducted by aliens? Sat too close to Canseco at the hearing? Got a package in the mail that was intended for Jason Giambi?


Palmeiro and his agent, as well as the Orioles, repeated many times that they could not go into details about Palmeiro's steroid blunder because of some "confidentiality" issues. "I would love to tell what happened to me so that everyone would understand," said Palmeiro, "but under this confidentiality agreement, I cannot get specific."

Unfortunately, what we may have here is a Stupidity Test. As in: How stupid are we? Whose "confidentiality" is being protected? Palmeiro's, of course. If he wanted to explain more, who could stop him from defending his good name? The union and baseball have a confidentiality agreement that prevents them from releasing information. But that doesn't put masking tape over the player's mouth. If Palmeiro had a compelling story, who could force him to stay silent?

Frogmarch Update

Frogmarching continues, albeit slowly.

Rove Very Much Still the Focus of Fitzgerald

From ABC’s The Note this morning:

Based on ABC News sources (and our own video camera) it appears that at least two witnesses testified before the grand jury last Friday, both close associates of Karl Rove.

ABC News has learned that one was Susan Ralston, Rove’s long-time right hand. The other, per ABC News’ Jake Tapper, was Israel “Izzy” Hernandez, Rove’s former left hand (and now a top Commerce Department official). It isn’t clear if either had been asked to testify before last week.

This seems to call for some Chinese restaurant fortune cookie fortune: When the left and the right hand are called, the body will soon be frogmarched.

Frank Robinson: "It's Like (Steroid Cheaters) Didn't Play"

Palmeiro Is Twisting Slowly in the Wind
In an interview on July 8 for "Costas Now" on HBO, Bob Costas asked Washington Manager Frank Robinson, who hit 586 home runs, how he feels about being passed on the career list.

Sammy Sosa passed Robinson last Wednesday. The only active player close to Robinson is Palmeiro, who is 17 home runs from tying him.

If they eclipsed him by cheating with steroids, Costas asked, should they be kept out of the Hall of Fame. "Wipe it out," Robinson said. "That's the way I feel about it. No numbers. It's like they didn't play."

Cheating is cheating. Throw 'em and their records out, like Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson. How can it be a record if you got it by cheating?

N.b., I originally entitled this post "Frank Robinson on Steroids" but changed it when the libelous aspect of that statement occurred to me! Frank Robinson, MVP in both leagues, is a class act.

Paul Hackett

Today Ohio is holding a special election to fill the congressional seat of Rob Portman, Republican who was named U.S. trade representative by President Bush. Hackett, the Democrat, is an Iraq war veteran who is against the war and has criticized President Bush. Schmidt, the Republican, is president of Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati and while she reputedly has a steel trap memory for names and faces, can't seem to remember testifying before Tom Noe, the guy at the center of Ohio's Coingate scandal.

Swing State Project has been organizing the netroots. This is a heavily Republican district (Portman won his last election with 70% of the vote) so a win by Hackett would be big.

The race will be close, so hope that Diebold doesn't throw it to Schmidt.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Rafi Was Lying, Too

Today MLB suspended Rafael Palmeiro, the newest member of the 3000 hit club, for violating the league's steroid policy.

You may remember that Palmeiro testified before Congress in March. He pointed his finger at the Congressional subcommittee and said he NEVER did steroids.


I believe I called this at the time:

Jose Canseco is an idiot, but he's the only honest player on this panel.

Oh, and President Dumbass believes him: Bush on Palmeiro: 'I believe him'

If baseball had any cojones, all these juicers would be banned from the Hall of Fame, and Roger Maris would be inducted. Pete Rose too.

Dave Rossi is Right On

When I was a kid we got the Binghamton Press thrown on our porch by the newspaper boy every afternoon. It was a crappy newspaper, usually only 8 full pages long plus grocery inserts. But it had one redeeming value: Dave Rossi, a liberal columnist with a pointed wit.

He's still at it! I got my daily email from today, and lo and behold, there was an article by David Rossi:

Published on Wednesday, July 27, 2005 by the Press & Sun-Bulletin (NY)
Court Nominee Lets Rove Hide in Back Pages

Barring disclosure that he is a closet transvestite with a penchant for setting fire to nursing homes, John Roberts appears certain to be confirmed as an associate justice of the U. S. Supreme Court. But even if he should fail, he will still have performed yeoman service for the Cheney/Bush administration.

By agreeing to have his name put forward to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the high court, Roberts enabled the embattled Karl Rove to escape from our television news programs and the front pages -- and inside pages for that matter -- of our daily newspapers.


Bush could no more fire the loathsome Rove than a blind man could fire his seeing eye dog.


Last Friday, The New York Times, which has addressed this issue with all the enthusiasm of a man attempting to defuse a bomb, returned to its coverage, which has consisted mainly of rambling interviews with anonymous sources bent on portraying Rove and his accomplices as sympathetically as possible. The Times' reporters appear to have access to several leakers of grand jury information, all of them, not surprisingly, eager to portray Rove as favorably as possible. And in what may be a late addition to The Times' stylebook, any sentence that contains a reference to Wilson, his wife and Rove must contain the notation that Rove didn't mention Wilson's wife by name in outing her.

Of course, Wilson had only one wife working at the CIA as far as we know, but every little bit helps when you're trying to stay on the good side of this administration, as The Times has labored mightily, not to mention slavishly, to do.

A closet transvestite with a penchant for setting fire to nursing homes. I'll never be able to think of Roberts any other way.