Wednesday, July 27, 2005

More Less To Like Stuff About Bush's Nominee. Young, Non-White, Unmarried, Pregnant Mother Missing - No Continuous TV Coverage? NASA Sucks.

More Less To Like Stuff About Bush's Nominee

More revelations about President Brain-Dead's choice to take Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court are detailed in this Washington Post story. It appears that John Roberts was a significant player in the Reagan administration, and that he helped guide some of that silly fool's policy decisions. Excerpt:

Newly released documents show that John G. Roberts Jr. was a significant backstage player in the legal policy debates of the early Reagan administration, confidently debating older Justice Department officials and supplying them with arguments and information that they used to wage a bureaucratic struggle for the president's agenda.

Roberts presented a defense of bills in Congress that would have stripped the Supreme Court of jurisdiction over abortion, busing and school prayer cases; he argued for a narrow interpretation of Title IX, the landmark law that bars sex discrimination in intercollegiate athletic programs; and he even counseled his boss on how to tell the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow that the administration was cutting off federal funding for the Atlanta center that bears his name.

Nice intro. Now we see why the White House was reluctant to release this information.

Much of Roberts's time at the Justice Department was taken up by the debate over GOP-sponsored bills in Congress that would have stripped the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction over abortion, busing and school prayer cases. He wrote repeatedly in opposition to the view, advanced by then-Assistant Attorney General Theodore B. Olson, that the bills were unconstitutional. He scrawled "NO!" in the margins of an April 12, 1982, note Olson sent to Smith. In the memo, Olson observed that opposing the bills would "be perceived as a courageous and highly principled position, especially in the press."

Roberts drew a bracket around the paragraph, underlined the words "especially in the press," and wrote in the margin: "Real courage would be to read the Constitution as it should be read and not kowtow to the Tribes, Lewises and Brinks!"

The three appear to be to Harvard Law School professor Laurence H. Tribe, New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis and then-American Bar Association President David R. Brink, who opposed the bills. Roberts added skeptical margin notes again when Olson wrote that the bills were unnecessary because the court now had more Republican-appointed members than it had in the 1960s, and was moving to the right as a result.

Roberts underlined the name of one of the Republican appointees Olson listed, Justice Harry A. Blackmun, the author of Roe v. Wade , and drew an arrow connecting it to the word "abortion." The department eventually adopted Olson's view.

When you disagree with Ted Olson, and it turns out that Olson is the moderate in the argument, you might be a knuckledragger.

Later, then-counselor to the attorney general Kenneth W. Starr asked Roberts to prepare a memo that "marshals arguments in favor of Congress' power to control" the Supreme Court's jurisdiction. Roberts noted as a result that his memo "was prepared from a standpoint of advocacy of congressional power . . . [and] does not purport to be an objective review of the issue."

So sex-obsessed maniac Ken Starr urged Roberts to help erode the power of the Supreme Court. And you've got to like the subtlety of that last sentence.

Roberts approvingly cited comments by "Professor Scalia" -- then-University of Chicago law professor Antonin Scalia -- at a conference on the bills. Scalia "recognized that non-uniformity in the interpretation of federal law could be criticized as 'sloppy,' but asked: compared to what? Given the choice between non-uniformity and the uniform imposition of the judicial excesses embodied in Roe v. Wade, Scalia was prepared to choose the former alternative."

Roberts also took issue with the view that bills restricting the court's jurisdiction would be unconstitutional because they interfere with "fundamental rights." "None of the pending bills concerning jurisdiction in abortion or school prayer cases directly burden the exercise of any fundamental rights," he wrote.

This smacks of that conservative bugaboo judicial activism, yet we saw the attempt to limit the Supreme Court's power. But I guess when you populate the court with scum like Scalia and later Thomas, it makes perfect sense.

In September 1982, Roberts played the role of diplomatic coach, advising Smith on how to handle an upcoming meeting with Coretta Scott King, the widow of the slain civil rights leader. The Carter administration's Justice Department had supplied a $250,000 grant to the Atlanta-based King Center for Non-violent Social Change, to teach conflict resolution in the hopes of reducing violent crime.

The grant, approved in 1980, had run out and the Reagan administration planned not to renew it. Roberts, in a Sept. 16, 1982, memo, called the program "very poorly run" and said that it had only received funding because of "political ties" between King and Homer Broome Jr., a black Justice Department official. But rather than share those concerns bluntly with King, Roberts advised, Smith should instead tell her "there is simply no money available for additional funding," and "indicate support for the activities of the King Center, and even pleasure that the Justice Department was able to be of assistance in advancing" its goals.

That really shows what a rotten piece of shit Roberts is. Lying to the widow of the most prominent Civil Rights figure in modern history about why you won't fund the organization that bears his name is beyond reprehensible, yet there are people who still claim that Reagan was color-blind. Well, since loyalty and the ability to tell bald-faced lies with a straight face are the two most prized characteristics in the Bush Administration, it is little wonder that this little troll was chosen to continue the seemingly irreversible erosion of the basic rights off Americans. And to think, Chief Justice Rehnquist will probably retire soon, giving President Brain-Dead a second pick...

Full story:

Young, Non-White, Unmarried, Pregnant Mother Missing - Where Is The Continuous TV Coverage?

I stumbled across this on a web site called "The All Spin Zone". I'd seen numerous mentions of this case on these Internets for the past few days, and now I feel compelled to share the particulars with all six of my dedicated readers. The following excerpt is taken from a letter to TV whore Nancy "All Men Are Guilty" Grace:

Latoyia Figueroa is still missing after 8 days. And as tragic as the Natalee Holloway case might be, Natalee doesn't have a seven year old child wondering where she is, nor was Natalee (to the best of our knowledge) 5 months pregnant.

Here's an overview of the important details in this missing woman case:

1) Latoyia (we should only use her first name) is not white.

2) She does not have blonde hair.

3) She was not scheduled to get married last weekend.

4) She's from West Philadelphia.

5) There may actually be a lead or two in her case.


7) To the best of our knowledge, no one from Texas has yet offered to bring in cadaver dogs to search for Latoyia, nor have forensic dive teams volunteered to scour the Schuylkill or Delaware rivers.

8 ) Also to the best of our knowledge, the FBI hasn't been requested to participate in the investigation (even though Philly actually is in the US of A), nor have any DNA samples been rushed to Washington, DC.


Ms. Grace has been strangely silent about this matter. I won't speculate why, I'll just let the above evidence do the talking. Full story:

More NASA Incompetence

In the continuing saga of the sick joke that is the American Space Program, NASA announced that they are halting any future space shuttle flights because of debris that was detected falling away from the Discovery as it left the launch pad yesterday. AOL News excerpt:

SPACE CENTER, Houston (July 27) - NASA said Wednesday it is grounding future shuttle flights because foam debris that brought down Columbia is still a risk - and might have doomed Discovery if the big chunk of broken insulation had come off just a bit earlier and slammed into the spacecraft.

A large chunk of foam flew off Discovery's external fuel tank just two minutes after liftoff Tuesday morning. Shuttle managers do not believe it hit the shuttle, posing a threat to the seven astronauts when they return to Earth. But they plan a closer inspection of the spacecraft to be sure.

''You have to admit when you're wrong. We were wrong,'' said shuttle program manager Bill Parsons. ''We need to do some work here, and so we're telling you right now, that the ... foam should not have come off. It came off. We've got to go do something about that.''

The loss of a chunk of debris, a vexing problem NASA thought had been fixed, represents a tremendous setback to a space program that has spent 2 1/2 years and over $1 billion trying to make the 20-year-old shuttles safe to fly.

Unbelievable. Rather than repeat my rant from yesterday's post, I'll just put it this way: Maybe if this administration was serious about re-asserting America's presence in space we wouldn't be screwing around with 20-year-old technology. Full story:

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Space Shuttle Discovery Leaves Launch Pad! Possible Asteroid Strike in 2036?

Space Shuttle Discovery Leaves Launch Pad!

Well, space shuttle Discovery finally left the launch pad earlier today. This is important stuff, so I placed the entire text of the Channel 4 News story below, with the site link at the end. Enjoy.

You could almost hear the sighs of relief at NASA's space centre today - as the space shuttle Discovery successfully blasted off from its launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida.

It was NASA's second attempt this month to launch the shuttle - after problems with hydrogen fuel sensors forced the space agency to abandon the original launch almost two weeks ago. Its America's first shuttle mission since Columbia broke up in 2003. But despite its success, there are doubts about President Bush's commitment to the shuttle's future - as our Science Correspondent, Julian Rush reports.

Watching and waiting at Cape Canaveral, America's First Lady, Laura Bush, with families of the astronauts who died aboard Columbia. There is a new realism at NASA: officially the risk of another disaster is one in a hundred - but in the end it was flawless. The sense of relief: almost palpable. NASA had decided to fly even though the problem that caused the launch to be aborted two weeks ago hadn't been solved. Recovery from the Columbia disaster has been painful but today, it seems the memories were exorcised.

The first woman to command a shuttle mission, Eileen Collins and her crew - five Americans, an Australian and a Japanese - will spend 12 days in space, testing NASA's modifications to the shuttle and ferrying supplies to the International Space Station.

NASA has spent more than a billion dollars on measures to reduce the risk of foam or ice falling off during take-off - and on management changes designed to repair what investigators called its "broken safety culture". Even so, NASA took a gamble today: risking flight without a solution to the problem that had delayed the launch: the low fuel level sensors at the base of the giant external fuel tank. NASA engineers were only able to correct three minor electrical issues with equipment that feeds data to the troublesome sensors.

President Bush's vision of a new direction for NASA focused on manned missions to the Moon and Mars may play well at home. But the vision has left America's international partners in the Space Station angry and frustrated. The White House wants to cut the number of shuttle flights to 15 and retire the remaining three orbiters by 2010.

A leaked memo saying the Administration doesn't accept the 28 flights necessary to finish building the space station. The European Space Agency is now not certain if its Columbus science module will ever get off the ground. None will say so publicly, privately they talk of America hijacking the space station, abandoning science for a gung-ho vision designed to boost the flagging ratings of the President. In the last few minutes, at mission control, the spectre of Columbia re-appeared. Debris is reported to have fallen off the shuttle during launch: An image from the tank camera showing what looks like an object falling away just after the right booster separated. As Discovery circles the Earth, NASA knows debris need not be fatal, but it is an awful echo they had been desperate not to hear.

Story link:

This event has the potential to have a huge impact for everyone in that we must re-establish a reliable and robust space program. Forget what President Brain-Dead says about his "grand vision" about getting back to the Moon and putting men on Mars, it's all bullshit. Proof of that lies in the first sentence of the last paragraph. What kind of ninny wants to send men to Mars, but doesn't want to send 28 shuttle flights to complete work on the ISS?

What is important is that this flight, and future flights, be successful, and that we start to get serious about placing several space stations in orbit as a jump-off point to the Moon and the rest of the Solar System. Why you ask? Read the next story...

Possible Asteroid Strike in 2036?

This is something I caught on the radio on my drive home from my wage-slavery containment center. I got home and immediately went to the Sky and Telescope web site, but no mention of any possible asteroid strikes were available. I then searched Google News and found following story, taken in its entirety from, of all places, the Christian Science Monitor News web site. No shit!

Anyway, read on and see if it might be worth investing a few more Greenspans on the Final Frontier, vis-a-vis getting all our eggs out of this one basket we call Earth.

Humans live in a vast solar system where 2,000 feet seems a razor-thin distance. Yet it's just wide enough to trigger concerns that an asteroid due to buzz Earth on April 13, 2029 may shift its orbit enough to return and strike the planet seven years later.

The concern: Within the object's range of possible fly-by distances lie a handful of gravitational "sweet spots," areas some 2,000 feet across that are also known as keyholes. The physics may sound complex, but the potential ramifications are plain enough. If the asteroid passes through the most probable keyhole, its new orbit would send it slamming into Earth in 2036. It's unclear to some experts whether ground-based observatories alone will be able to provide enough accurate information in time to mount a mission to divert the asteroid, if that becomes necessary.

So NASA researchers have begun considering whether the US needs to tag the asteroid, known as 99942 Apophis, with a radio beacon before 2013. Timing is everything, astronomers say. If officials attempt to divert the asteroid before 2029, they need to nudge the space rock's position by roughly half a mile - something well within the range of existing technology. After 2029, they would need to shove the asteroid by a distance as least as large as Earth's diameter. That feat would tax humanity's current capabilities.

NASA's review of the issue was triggered by a letter from the B612 Foundation. The foundation's handful of specialists hope to demonstrate controlled asteroid-diversion techniques by 2015.

Last Wednesday, representatives from the foundation met with colleagues at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to review the issue. The foundation's letter marks the first time specialists in the asteroid-hazard field have called for a scouting mission to assess such a threat.

"We understand the risk from this object, and while it's small, it's not zero," says David Morrison, the senior scientist at NASA's Astrobiology Institute at the Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.

The call for a reconnaissance mission also illustrates how far the field of asteroid-hazard assessment has come.
"Ten years ago, we would have been blissfully ignorant," says Donald Yeomans, who heads NASA's near-Earth object project at JPL. Today, at least five programs worldwide are hunting down near-Earth objects. NASA is well on its way toward achieving its goal of cataloging 90 percent of the near-Earth objects larger than 0.6 miles across by 2008. And it is devising ways to ensure that information about potential hazards reaches top decisionmakers throughout the government.

Based on available data, astronomers give Apophis - a 1,000-foot wide chunk of space debris - a 1-in-15,000 chance of a 2036 strike. Yet if the asteroid hits, they add, damage to infrastructure alone could exceed $400 billion. When the possibility of the asteroid passing through two other keyholes is taken into account, the combined chance of the asteroid hitting the planet shifts to 1 in 10,000, notes Clark Chapman, a senior scientist with the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo.

"A frequent flier probably would not want to board an airliner if there's a 1-in-10,000 chance it's going to crash," he says. The asteroid in question was discovered last June. Initially, it looked as though it might strike Earth in 2029. But additional observations eliminated that possibility. Instead the asteroid will come within 22,600 miles of Earth - just inside the altitude where major communications satellites orbit. The asteroid will be visible to the naked eye in the night skies over Europe and western Africa, where it will appear a bit dimmer than the North Star. But this estimated distance carries an uncertainty that spans several thousand miles either side of its expected path - a region of space that includes three gravitational keyholes.

JPL's analysis will look at several factors. One involves estimating whether additional ground observations will be sufficient to resolve the question of whether the asteroid will pass through one of the keyholes. The asteroid belongs to a class known as Atens, which orbit the sun in less than a year and pass through Earth's orbit. Because Atens spend so much of their time in the direction of the Sun, observations from Earth are difficult. After next year, the next opportunity to gather data on the asteroid from the ground will come in 2012-2013.

In addition, questions remain over how long a tagging mission - and if necessary a deflection mission - would take to plan and execute. If missions can be mounted in six years or less, NASA could postpone a decision to tag the asteroid until 2014. This would give astronomers time to incorporate their latest observations as they refine calculations of Apophis's orbit. But if a tagging mission took seven to eight years and a diversion mission took another 12 years, the case grows for launching the tagging mission sooner rather than later.

Dr. Yeomans, the head of the near-Earth-object program at JPL, says the next step is to examine whether additional ground-based observations are likely to solve the collision riddle in a timely fashion. "I can't stress this enough: The overwhelming most-likely scenario is that radar and optical data this year and next or in 2012 and 2013 will completely remove the impact probabilities," he says. "If this is the case, why are we worried now? If it's a 1-in-15,000 shot and we come up a loser," there's still time to mount a tagging and a deflection mission, he says.

Story link:

I know what some folks will say to this story. "Didn't we hear something like this last year?" or "Why do we have to worry about something that isn't going to happen for 30, 40 or 50 years?"

Answers: Yes, mainly because thanks to people like David Levy, Helen Shoemaker and her late husband Gene, the possibility of asteroid or comet strikes has begun to be analyzed with many small organizations performing countless observations and calculations of these objects that cross the Earth's orbital plane. It's not Chicken Little paranoia, it is just that we now possess the technology to identify this threat. The larger question is, are we going to be too cheap to do something about it?

And just because something isn't due to occur next Tuesday after lunch, doesn't mean we shouldn't get off of our collective arses to do something about it. Or is the next generation's survival and prosperity not in everyone's best interests?

I've ranted about this before, but there is no reason that more than 35 years after Apollo 11 landed the first men on the Moon that we should be limping along with this sorry excuse for a space program. Decades of neglect and apathy have placed humanity in a potentially dangerous situation in which we face possible extinction.

We do not have to go the way of the dinosaurs. We have telescopes. We have the technology and brain power to resurrect our space program to do two things to ensure our survival. Those things are, one, to be able to rendezvous with these objects, in much the same way we did with the Deep Impact comet probe on July 4th, and two, to be able to place people in orbiting space stations, and on bases on the Moon and Mars. The ball is in our court now.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Onward Christian Fundamentalist Exclusionary Soldiers...

In a story I heard on World News Tonight, and excerpted below from the Philadelphia Enquirer, we have a group of strict religious fundamentalists called "Christian Exodus" who want to live life exactly the way they interpret things from the Bible. The piece begins with the story of a Pennsylvania family that has moved to South Carolina to be with some other members of this movement:

GREENVILLE, S.C. - Frank and Tammy Janoski, the Pennsylvania pilgrims, have landed.

With their four children, they have settled into a little subdivision in the country, the first transplants of a movement that wants to bring legions of conservative Christians here to turn South Carolina's government into a biblically inspired oasis.

In the South Carolina of their dreams, abortion would be illegal. The Ten Commandments would be proudly displayed. Public schools would be a thing of the past. Taxes would be severely limited, and property rights would be paramount.

Hmmm, sounds like a place Judge Roy Moore would love to visit.

And if the federal government tried to interfere, well, they'd secede.

It would be interesting to see them try something like secession. However, I doubt we'll see such an attempt as shown in the following paragraph:

So far, the Christian Exodus movement has not been a mighty magnet for change. Only four other families have followed the Janoskis' lead, a far cry from the "thousands of Christians" touted on the group's Web site. Even the founder of the group is still in his California home, promising to move in 2006 or 2007.

I doubt very much that the government, even this one run by a bunch of religiously insane nutjobs, would care very much about four families claiming that they are seceding from the union. Plus, it's not exactly a ringing endorsement of your program if your leader isn't out front as your "champion". Maybe this leader is just a scam artist?

Their idea, however, is as old as America: a haven for like-minded people with a government run according to their particular religious lights. Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Utah all got their start as religious sanctuaries.

Which, although a nutty-assed idea, is fine as long as the population remains the same as it was when those states were colonized. But isn't it a bit on the ironic side that the original idea, namely leaving one's home in Europe to escape religious, one-size-fits-all conformity, that this group of knobs is attempting to betray that very principle?

But wait, there's more!

"Historically, evangelical Christianity has had a vacillating relationship with the culture," said James L. Guth, a professor of political science at Furman University here, who has studied the influence of religion on politics. "For much of the 19th century, evangelical Protestants were the culture. A lot of that changed for a while in the 20th century... . They tried to wall themselves off from the culture."

Sort of like how Reverends Falwell and Robertson have done with their fine organizations...

That shift from engagement to withdrawal, known as the Great Reversal, formed the fundamentalist branch of evangelicals. Intent on protecting themselves from such worldly influences as the theory of evolution and the seductions of Hollywood, conservative Christians often cited a biblical injunction: "Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you."

Yes, these folks have been plagued throughout the ages by the heresies of evolution and Hollywood's scandalous film industry. It all makes sense now...

That stance began to change by midcentury, as more moderate evangelicals broke from the fundamentalists. And in the 1980s, the emergence of such groups as the Christian Coalition and the Moral Majority brought many conservative Christians back into the political fray, invoking Jesus' Sermon on the Mount: " 'You are the salt of the earth... . You are the light of the world... let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.' "

Moderate evangelicals? WTF? There's nothing moderate about their "my way or the highway" attitude. Besides, the last part of the passage reads: "let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven", not "shine your light before others, so that they may see your good works, but should they turn from your light thou should then annoyest thy neighbors, who, being naughty in the eyes of thy Father in heaven, shall snuff it..."

Okay, so I cribbed part of that last bit by paraphrasing the Book of Armaments scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but I think the point is clear.

That Reversal of the Great Reversal, as some scholars call it, is now in full swing. Politically active conservative Christians were crucial to President Bush's election victories in 2000 and 2004, and they are vocal supporters of Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr.

That last sentence is only partially true. A lot of "politically active conservative Christians" think that President Bungler bent over to the left by selecting someone that they feel isn't sufficiently religiously insane for their liking. But hey, you can't please all the whackjobs...

And now a few words from our founder:

To Cory Burnell, founder of Christian Exodus, that political activity isn't enough. He wants something more radical - a kind of Christian Free State. "We believe that Christ's admonition to go and make disciples of all nations does not exclude any facets of life," Burnell said by telephone from his Valley Springs, Calif., home. "We're asking people to move and do something new. Our intent is to put men in office who will do what [ousted Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice] Roy Moore did - defy the federal government."

And, lest we forget, Judge Moore lost his case because luckily, there are still judges in this country who know what separation of church and state means.

The group's goal is to have 2,500 members in two upstate counties by September 2006, and as many as 12,000 by 2008. That, Burnell said, would be enough to elect local candidates and snowball into a statewide force. Soon, enough right-thinking officials would be elected to force a confrontation with the feds.

Snowball effect! WOO-HOO!!! I'm now giddy with antici...pation!!!!!

"We are proponents of federal conflict," Burnell said. "People ought to stand up, they ought to flirt with arrest." Burnell, 29, used to be a regional director in Texas for the League of the South, a secessionist organization. Robert Hayes, director of the league in South Carolina, said his group is working with Christian Exodus on the "common goal of self-government."

Two words for you, Mr. Burnell and Mr. Hayes: David Koresh. Any more nutty ideas?

The last time South Carolina seceded from the union was Dec. 20, 1860, lighting the fuse that touched off the Civil War. This time, Burnell figures secession, if necessary, could be peaceful. He admits the state could not fight the U.S. military. "I don't think it will come to bloodshed," he said. "I think it will come to compromise."

That last sentence may be the sanest thing Burnell said in this report.

Many South Carolinians, including conservatives, are skeptical about the new group. "It doesn't seem to be the kind of thing that would have much impact," said Bob Taylor, a Greenville County councilman who is also a dean at Bob Jones University, the fundamentalist Christian college here. Active in Republican politics, Taylor said that "even the conservative religious right is not where they want to go."

Wow, when a dean at Bob Jones University harshes your plans, you'd better know that those plans suck bigtime.

And Taylor said of the notion of secession, "That didn't turn out so well the last time, did it?"

No sir, it did not. But note the final irony that an extreme-right fundamentalist Christian group's plans to set up shop in one of the notches of the Bible Belt doesn't seem to thrill the locals. That is a telling sign that this group may be doomed to obscurity, but these days, one never knows, does one?

Full crazy story:

Here's an idea: Maybe these gimps can hook up with the anti-evolution crowd in Kansas!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Weekend Catch-Up. Bush's Supreme Nominee (Longer Version). Red Sox Update.

Bush's Supreme Nominee. The More We Know, The Less We Like Him...

In yet another disgusting display of the blanket of secrecy that surrounds this White House, the Bush Administration is refusing to release confidential memos that U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts wrote when he worked for presidents Reagan and Bush I. Reuters News excerpt:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Bush administration does not want to release confidential memos that U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts wrote when he worked for two Republican presidents, a White House adviser said on Sunday.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson, named by President Bush to steer (as the main fixer, apparently James Baker was unavailable...) Roberts' confirmation through the Senate, disputed calls by some Democrats to turn over all the documents from Roberts' tenure at the White House and Justice Department.

"The administration's been pretty consistent on that, in fact, I think very consistent, in that (confidential documents) will not be forthcoming," Thompson said during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press." "Conversations he has with his priest, conversations he has with his doctor or his wife or his client are matters that are off limits, basically," said Thompson, a Republican who represented Tennessee in the Senate.

Notice how Thompson led off that last sentence by referring to priests. More proof that this pitiful administration is guided by religious insanity and not logic.

Democratic senators said they want to see all the documents in order to understand Roberts' views on issues such as abortion, workers' rights, women's rights, civil rights and the environment. "We need to know things about him that two years on the (federal appeals court) in the District of Columbia don't tell us, whether that's through documentation or his answers to questions," Sen. Richard Durbin, an Illinois Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said on "Meet the Press."

Roberts argued before the Supreme Court as the principal deputy solicitor general during the presidency of Bush's father. He also worked in the Justice Department in 1981-1982 and in the White House counsel's office during Ronald Reagan's presidency.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D - Rubber Stamp), ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, disagreed with Thompson's stand that Roberts' documents are covered by attorney-client privilege and said many previous nominees had agreed to make the same type of documents public. "Those working in the solicitor general's office are not working for the president. They're working for you and me and all the American people," Leahy said on ABC's "This Weak with Judas Maximus."

Full story:

I hate to have to say this again, but if the Clinton Administration had shown such complete and utter contempt for the confirmation process as to do what this gang of thugs is doing, the screams from the corridors of power would be audible from Bangor to San Diego. Why don't the Democratic rubber stamp pussies stand up and demand to see these documents? Are they in terminal surrender mode?

As if things weren't bad enough, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez weighed in with this pile of bullshit:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the administration would look at the Democrats' document requests on a case-by-case basis and would be "as accommodating as we can."

"We understand that this is a very important decision by members of the Senate and they do need information to make an informed decision and we're going to work as hard as we can to reach the appropriate accommodation," Gonzalez said (lied) on "Fox News Sunday."

Here are some of the things we do know about Mister Roberts:

1. As U.S. deputy solicitor general in 1990, Roberts stated the first Bush administration's belief, in a brief, that the Supreme Court decision on abortion should be overturned.

2. That as part of his belief that the aforementioned decision should be overturned, he represented those tolerant Christians in Operation Rescue.

3. He was part of the Bush legal team that James Baker assembled to game the system in the 2000 presidential election.

As my headline reads: The more you know about this man, the less you like him. Which isn't saying much since I didn't like the empty suit to begin with. Call it general principles, call it instinct, but at least the evidence shows that this man, if confirmed, will help President Bumbling Idiot continue in his foolish attempt to drag us from the 21st century back to the 13th.

Red Sox Update

The Red Sox dropped a 6-4 contest to the White Sox in Chicago today to split their four-game series with the Pale Hose. After getting a quick 1-0 lead thanks to David Ortiz's 25th home run of off former Yankee batting practice pitcher Jose Contreras, Bronson Arroyo was touched up for 6 runs over 6 2/3 innings as the White Sox bats got to the wiry right-hander early (five of the runs scored in the first three innings, including a two-run homer by second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, his 8th).

Contreras pitched into the 6th inning (and surrendered Jason Varitek's 15th homer) before White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen realized he'd gotten all he could from the big righty and the bullpen took over. Lefty Neal Cotts was the most impressive of the relievers. He was followed by an almost as impressive Cliff Politte and a wild Damaso Marte. Marte began the top of the ninth by walking both Johnny Damon and, after getting Bill Mueller, walking David Ortiz, and, since Damon and Ortiz are lefties, and Marte is a lefty, he did a crummy job of pitching to them. Closer and former Red Sox disaster Dustin Hermanson then came in, and after giving up a one-out an RBI single to Manny Ramirez (who struck out three times against Contreras), he got Trot Nixon to fly out, and John Olerud to ground to to end the game.

The Red Sox are now 1 1/2 games in front of the second place Yankees, who beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, California, USA, North America, Western Hemisphere, Planet Earth, Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy by a score of 4-1 to avoid being swept by the halos. The third place Orioles lost 6-2 to get swept by the Tampa Bay Deviled Eggs, part of a five-game losing streak. The Sox now travel to Tampa Bay to take on the suddenly hot Eggs in a three-game series starting tomorrow night.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Mid-Week Catch-Up. Bush's Supreme Nominee Profile (Short Version). Exoplanet Discovered Orbiting Triple-Star System.

Bush's Supreme Nominee Profile (Short Version)

Due to the quirks inherent with AOL's software upgrade downloads, I was unable to report to this forum yesterday. My humble apologies to all six of my dedicated readers, especially the one who wanted my take on Bush's nominee to take retiring justice Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the Supreme Court. Here goes nothing:

In a non-surprising move, President Bush nominated an anti-Roe vs. Wade judge for the Supreme Court vacancy. Judge John Roberts is a well-known enemy of the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion in the U.S. As an attorney, he once filed a friend of the court brief for his friends in Operation Rescue.

What is surprising is that Roberts has little actual experience as a federal judge, having only been appointed to the D.C Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003. My guess is that he is being brought in to carry water for Antonin Scalia.

I wonder if we'll get the same shuck-and-jive routine we got during his 2003 confirmation when he claimed that his opposition to Roe v. Wade was only part of representing his client, the aforementioned Operation Rescue. Will he, as Clarence Thomas did in his confirmation hearing, claim that he has no opinion about the right to privacy only to reverse himself later when he ackshully has to make a ruling? Time will tell.

In the meantime, here is a link to a Fox news story in which the claim is being made that a whole host of liberal groups are getting ready to pounce:,2933,163160,00.html

By now, everyone with a blog who writes about such matters has weighed in on this move, so I have little original to add. But what is interesting about this is that, during a discussion with Ken Kanniff, Connecticut's Most Wanted Gangsta, and a staunch conservative, while Roberts is indeed an enemy of abortion, it makes little sense for Bush to push this type of agenda, unless he wants to get his party whacked in the 2006 mid-term elections.

Another interesting thing is that Roberts is a relatively young 50, and could sit on the Court for a long time. Now the speculation rests on when Chief Justice Rehnquist will finally retire and give President Dumbass another appointment.

Exoplanet Discovered Orbiting Triple-Star System

In a lead story on the Sky and Telescope web site, astronomers have detected a planet in orbit around a triple-star system. Excerpt:

Can multiple-star systems support life-bearing planets? This is an important question for astrobiologists because more than half of all stars in our galaxy belong to binary, triple, or higher-order systems. Astronomers have found several giant planets orbiting one member of widely separated binary systems. But a recent discovery, if confirmed, shows that tighter multiple-star systems can also have planets.

In the July 14th Nature, Maciej Konacki (Caltech) reports a planet orbiting the triple-star system HD 188753 in Cygnus. Konacki employed a novel technique that he developed to find planets around binary stars. He used the 10-meter Keck I Telescope to tease out the gravitational wobble caused by a planet with at least 1.14 Jupiter masses in a tight, 3.35-day orbit around the primary star, a G dwarf nearly identical to the Sun. The primary, in turn, has two stellar companions (a G-dwarf and a K-dwarf) a little less massive than the Sun that orbit each other as a binary pair.

The primary star and the two secondary stars, in turn, go around each other in an elongated orbit that ranges from about 6 to 18 times the average Earth-Sun distance, or about from Jupiter's to Uranus's distance from the Sun.
"The environment in which this system planet exists is quite spectacular," says Konacki, who likens it to Luke Skywalker's home planet Tatooine in the Star Wars saga. "With three suns, the sky view must be out of this world, literally and figuratively."

Full story:

This discovery, if accurate, shows just how unusual our own solar system is when compared to the systems that contain the many exoplanets found in the last few years. Noone envisioned scenarios in which planets with many times Jupiter's mass could orbit their primary stars at distances of only a few million miles, let alone be able to form stable orbits in double or triple systems.

The problem is one of mass distribution and gravitational effects. A few years ago I recall reading an article in Astronomy magazine that speculated what a planetary system in the Alpha Centauri system might look like. Alpha Centauri, the nearest system to ours, is ackshully a triple system composed of a G2 star that is nearly a dead ringer for the Sun, a K1 dwarf that is slightly smaller and cooler than the Sun, and an M dwarf that is a tiny red flare star barely bound to the two main members.

The dynamics of the two main stars show an average distance between the two to be close to the distance of the Sun to Saturn, and, as the article pointed out, by conventional system formation, we could possibly see two to three planets orbiting each star at comfortable distance spacing intervals without tidal effects throwing the systems into chaos. However, this discovery shows that thinking in such terms may not be the way to go. Once again, the Arthur C. Clarke stipulation that "not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, but it is stranger than we can imagine", asserts itself.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Catch-Up Time. Sox Latest Funk. Raffy 3000!

After dealing with the inconsistencies of my work softball league and my car, I'm back at the keyboard to play catch-up. My car has been hesitating a bit, and finally the Check Engine light came on. After a trip to my mechanic it turned out that the third cylinder was misfiring. A compressor coil was replaced and all seems to be well.

I wish I could say the same for the softball team. We dropped our third one-run game of the season and are now 5-5 with eight games left.

The Red Sox are in a similar funk having lost seven of their last nine including tonight's 3-1 loss to the wretched Tampa Bay Devil Rays. In addition to this latest loss, Johnny Damon had his hitting streak stopped at 29. Rays lefty Scott Kazmir started and threw six innings in which he walked six and struck out five, yet escaped major damage by only allowing one run in the first on a bases loaded giddup from Manny Ramirez. Kazmir is only 21, and is still learning, but he has a live arm and, if he can get into an organization that knows how to develop young pitchers (listening Atlanta?), he can be a big winner some day.

Depending on what happens in the Yankees-Rangers game (the Yanks were leading 9-6 in the fifth inning as I type this), the Sox could wake up in second place tomorrow morning.

On Saturday, Rafael Palmeiro doubled in the fifth inning to get the 3,000th hit of his career. Congratulations Raffy, your Hall of Fame plaque awaits in Cooperstown.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Rove's Reporter Testifies. WorldCom's Ebbers Sentenced For Fraud.

Rove's Reporter Testifies. Tells Us What We Already Knew.

In a less than shocking development, Matt Cooper testified before a grand jury today that White House Deputy Cheif of Staff Karl Rove, was indeed the source for the story that led to the exposure of Valerie Plame as a deep-cover CIA asset. Fox News excerpt:

WASHINGTON — Journalist Matt Cooper on Wednesday confirmed to a grand jury that White House aide Karl Rove was his source for a story about a CIA operative that has investigators deciding whether any laws were broken by the leak of the agent's identity.

Cooper told reporters he would give them details of his grand jury testimony — in a future article for Time magazine.
"I'm not going to scoop myself today," Cooper, a White House correspondent for the news weekly, said outside the U.S. District Court Wednesday afternoon.

Cheeky bastard, isn't he? I guess Cooper feels he can afford to be smug now that he seems to have escaped a jail sentence similar to that now being served by fellow typist Judith Miller. Still, I'd think a bit harder before busting out a quote like that, after all, it's not like Cooper doesn't already have a target on his back.

Cooper spoke after a two-and-a-half hour appearance before the grand jury investigating the leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame's
identity. He was one of several journalists to whom Plame's identity was leaked following the publication of an editorial written by her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, in which Wilson criticized the Bush administration.

One of those journalists, Judith Miller
of The New York Times, is in jail for her refusal to name the person who revealed Plame's identity to her. Last week, Cooper escaped a similar citation for contempt of court when he told the judge his source had waived confidentiality, freeing him to testify before the grand jury.

"Today I testified and agreed to testify solely because of a waiver I received from my source," Cooper said outside the courthouse. "Once a journalist makes a commitment of confidentiality to a source, only the source can end that commitment."

The grand jury is tasked with finding out if whoever leaked Plame's identity to the press two years ago did so with the intent of burning her cover, possibly in retaliation for Wilson's criticisms of the administration's claims that Iraq's nuclear program.

Full story:,2933,162406,00.html

Big effing deal. We know about one one-hundred-millionth more about this story now than we knew yesterday. We also know that Scotty McLellan has had the Thanksgiving stuffing beaten out of him for past two days by a press corps that has suddenly been awakened from suspended animation.

Two questions: What are the real chances that Rove will be tossed under the bus for this? And again, why the hell hasn't anyone gone after that shithead Novak? He's the ass-clown that wrote the first story about this to begin with.

There is a lot of incendiary rhetoric flying around about this, from both the left and the right. Much of it misses the mark because the central issue of having compromised our national security seems to have been largely ignored. Not to comparison shop, but what do you suppose would have happened if this type of thing had occurred under Bill Clinton's watch?

WorldCom's Ebbers Sentenced For Fraud. When Is Kenny Lay Going Down?

In the "maybe there is justice after all" department, former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers was sentenced to a 25-year prison term today for perpetrating the biggest corporate fraud in U.S. history. Washington Post excerpt:

NEW YORK -- Weeping in court as he learned his fate, former WorldCom boss Bernard Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in prison Wednesday for leading the largest corporate fraud in U.S. history.

It was the toughest sentence imposed on an executive since the fall of Enron in 2001 touched off a record-breaking wave of business scandals.

And speaking of Enron, why the hell is Ken Lay still a free man?

The sentence came four months after Ebbers was convicted of overseeing the $11 billion WorldCom fraud - much of it a pattern of chalking up expenses as long-term capital expenditures, which are classified as assets.

Ebbers, an imposingly tall man with buzzed white hair, leaned forward in his chair and cried, sniffling audibly, after Judge Barbara Jones of U.S. District Court in Manhattan read his penalty. "I find that a sentence of anything less would not reflect the seriousness of this crime," the judge said.

It was just more than three years ago that the fraud at WorldCom began to come to light, reducing shares of stock once worth more than $60 to mere pennies. Billions of dollars in market value vanished.

Mississippi-based WorldCom filed for bankruptcy, also the largest in U.S. history, in the summer of 2002. It has since re-emerged under the name MCI Inc., with headquarters in Ashburn, Va.

Full story:

Too bad this didn't occur after the new bankruptcy laws had been passed. But then again, those laws were only intended to punish poor schmucks like you and me, not big fish like Ebbers and Lay. Too bad there isn't a way to go after the assets of the new company to ease the pain of the folks who got burned when Ebbers ran this con game. Well, at least the son of a bitch got what he deserved.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Wingnut Elimination Contest! Abreu Wins Home Run Derby. Hell No, Sheff Won't Go!

Wingnut Survivor

I urge all six of my faithful readers to head over to my "World O'Crap" link and vote off your favorite wingnut in what has to be one of the most entertaining contests to come along in quite some time. WOC is one of the best blogs on these Internets, and has grouped the wingnuts into eight categories. So far, there have been two rounds of elimination. The results to the second will be announced tomorrow.

Tell the world, via WOC, how you really feel about hacks like Jonah Goldberg, Ben Shapiro, John Derbyshire, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Denny Prager, Peggy Noonan, Chuck Krauthammer, Rush and O'Reilly how you feel about their special brands of lunacy. You'll be performing a vital public serive by helping to provide some much needed laughter in these grim times.

Abreu's Big Bat Wins Home Run Derby

Bobby Abreu of the Philadelphia Phillies, representing his home country Venezuela, destroyed the competition in yesterday's Home Run Derby at Comerica Park, home of tonight's Major League Baseball All-Star game. Abreu led off the competition by clubbing a ridiculous 24 homers in round one, six in round two and capped off his win with eleven in the third and final round. The first-round 24 erased the previous record for a round when he passed Miguel Tejada's 15 from last year. Even David Ortiz's 17 bombs in round one seemed insignificant.

Abreu has long been one of baseball's most overlooked stars. His average season is a .300 + average, 25 homers and steals, while driving in close to 100 runs, scoring about 110 runs with over 100 walks, and good defense in right field. Given that Philly isn't exactly a media wasteland, it is a mystery why Abreu has remained below the radar. Maybe this Derby slugfest will help change that.

Hell No, Sheff Won't Go!

In an MSNBC sports story titled "Sheffield Rips World Baseball Classic", Yankee prima donna Gary Sheffield once again displayed his impressive media savvy by complaining about the upcoming international baseball world cup. Excerpt:

Gary Sheffield has no desire to play during major league baseball's offseason. Not even for the United States.

Several MLB players said they would be honored to play in the World Baseball Classic, which features countries in a World Cup-style tournament. The groups for the tournament were unveiled Monday. Sheffield, though, won't be part of the U.S. team.

"My season is when I get paid," Sheffield told the New York Daily News. "I'm not doing that. ... I'm not sacrificing my body or taking a chance on an injury for something that's made up."

"A lot of guys feel that way. They won't say it like I will, though," he added.

Well, maybe Kenny Rogers would, but only if there were no cameramen within punching distance.

If other players feel like Sheffield, Miguel Tejada (Dominican Republic) and Dontrelle Willis (United States) were not among them. They seem to like the idea and can't wait to play.

"I just hope I make the team," Willis said jokingly.

No joke. Willis gets it. He knows first-hand what a difference baseball has made in his life, and seems eager to be a goodwill ambassador for the game, unlike Mr. Warmth.

Tejada said fans back home would look forward to the event, which baseball hopes will be played a second time in 2009. "They're going to be really excited to see all the players on one team," he said.

Tejada also gets it. He's an energetic, productive player who genuinely seems to love every second he is on the field. He's another goodwill ambassador that baseball sorely needs.

The 16-nation, 18-day event opens March 3 in Tokyo or Taiwan, where Group A will include Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China.

Full Story:

Okay, the baseball World Cup, or whatever it is being called, seems to have been thrown together rather hastily by Omissioner Bud Selig. Is that any reason for known malcontents like Sheffield to criticize the concept? Hell, if the actual concept was what drew Sheffield's ire, then maybe I could understand his reluctance to play, but when he busts out nonsense about only being paid to play for the Yankees, and having no chance to get a medal, we see where his real motivation to play the game lies. It's just too bad that someone with such incredible talent doesn't understand what Tejada and Willis understand - namely that baseball is a source of joy to a lot of people, and to watch the best players perform is something to which all players should aspire.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Rove Defies Sunlight. Endorses Oxybenzone. Fellow Vampires Said To Be Encouraged.

Even Van Helsing Couldn't Help Us With This One

In the continuing drama that is the leaking of Valerie Plame as a deep cover CIA asset, the Washington Post reports that White House Man Behind The Puppet, Karl Rove, may be in for a bit of a hard time in the coming days. If only that was true. Excerpt:

WASHINGTON -- For the better part of two years, the word coming out of the Bush White House was that presidential adviser Karl Rove had nothing to do with the leak of a female CIA officer's identity and that whoever did would be fired.

But Bush spokesman Scott McClellan wouldn't repeat those claims Monday in the face of Rove's own lawyer, Robert Luskin, acknowledging the political operative spoke to Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, one of the reporters who disclosed Valerie Plame's name.

Democrats pretended to jump on the issue, calling for the administration to fire Rove, or at least to yank his security clearance. One Democrat pushed for Republicans to hold a congressional hearing in which Rove would testify.

"The White House promised if anyone was involved in the Valerie Plame affair, they would no longer be in this administration," said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. "I trust they will follow through on this pledge. If these allegations are true, this rises above politics and is about our national security."

Jesus Christ, is Harry Reid borrowing Tom Daschle's game plan for dealing with these swine? He trusts that the administration will "follow through on this pledge". Sure it will, just as it followed through on all its other broken promises from the war to the budget. Harry, WAKE THE FUCK UP!!!!!

The investigation into the 2003 leak had largely faded into the background until last week, when New York Times reporter Judith Miller went to jail rather than reveal who in the administration talked to her about Plame.

Cooper also had planned to go to jail rather than reveal his source but at the last minute agreed to cooperate with investigators when a source, Rove, gave him permission to do so. Cooper's employer, Time Inc., also turned over Cooper's e-mail and notes.

One of the e-mails was a note from Cooper to his boss in which he said he had spoken to Rove, who described the wife of former U.S. Ambassador and Bush administration critic Joe Wilson as someone who "apparently works" at the CIA, Newsweek magazine reported.

Within days of the July 11, 2003, e-mail, Cooper's byline was on a Time article identifying Wilson's wife by name - Valerie Plame. Her identity was first disclosed by columnist Robert Novak.

The e-mail did not say Rove had disclosed the name. but it made clear that Rove had discussed the issue. That ran counter to what McClellan has been saying. For example, in September and October 2003, McClellan's comments (LIES) about Rove included the following: "The president knows that Karl Rove wasn't involved," "It was a ridiculous suggestion," and, "It's not true."

Scotty, that egg on your face is dripping down your Armani suit. Want a wet nap?

Rove declined to comment Monday and referred questions to his attorney. Last year, he said, "I didn't know her name and didn't leak her name."

So we are supposed to believe that the President's Brain, with all the access at his disposal did not know Valerie Plame's name? Let's grant Rove that idiotic notion. Does anyone with an IQ higher than that of President Brainless Moron really believe that anyone who knows how to perform basic research couldn't find her name simply by connecting her to her husband?

The Rove disclosure was an embarrassment for a White House that prides itself on not leaking to reporters and has insisted that Rove was not involved in exposing Plame's identity.

The disclosure also left in doubt whether Bush would carry out his promise to fire anyone found to have leaked the CIA operative's identity. Rove is one of the president's closest confidants - the man Bush has described as the architect of his re-election, and currently deputy White House chief of staff.

Rove's conversation with Cooper took place five days after Plame's husband suggested in a New York Times op-ed piece that the Bush administration had manipulated intelligence on weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion of Iraq. Wilson has since suggested his wife's name was leaked as retaliation.

Full story:

There is simply no way in hell that Karl Rove will be asked to walk the plank for this. Rove is far too close to what Brainless Moron and his crooked associates are doing as they try to mold the world into their own twisted amusement park. He has too many secrets, and if he ever developed a shred of decency he would be the ultimate whistle blower. Of course, if he'd had a shred of decency he never would have leaked her name in the first place. But imagine the damage he could do to the Bush family if they tried to put the fork to him. No, Mr. Rove's job is safe, and, barring anything even more brazenly contemptible activity, he will continue to thumb his nose, and by extension, help Brainless Moron thumb his nose at the American people. And to think that Bill Clinton was impeached over a blue dress...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Red Sox Mid-Season Report Card

With this afternoon's loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards, the Red Sox stagger into the All-Star break in first pace, two games in front of the Orioles, two-and-a-half games in front of the Yankees, and five-and-a-half games in front of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Trot Nixon was the lone Sox offensive highlight with his ninth homer of the year that gave the Sox a temporary 1-0 lead, but the Orioles rallied behind a sacrifice fly and homer from Rafael Palmeiro (his 15th, and his 2,998th career hit) to ruin an otherwise good pitching performance from Sox starter Tim Wakefield.

Now, on to the grades:

First Base: Kevin Millar has been terrible with the bat all season long. Four homers, thirteen doubles, a. 264 batting average and .368 slugging percentage are not what a contending team (or any team for that matter) needs in the middle of its batting order. And since Kevin has never been exceptionally nimble with the glove, his offensive shortcomings are harder to overcome. Grade: D

Second Base: Mark Bellhorn has done one thing consistently this season, and that is to strike out at a near record-breaking pace. At 102, Bellhorn is on a pace for 192 punch-outs, three shy of the record set last season by Cincinatti's Adam Dunn. Bellhorn's .221 batting average and .360 slugging percentage are well below expectations, but in reality, the guy has only had two good seasons, 2002 and 2004. Defensively, Bellhorn is fairly solid, but his knack of working the count to three-and-two only to be called out time and time again is getting to much to take. Grade: D

Third Base: Bill Mueller is a dirt dog. He has hit .285 with a .389 on-base percentage, but a low .406 slugging percentage, due to the fact that he has only hit four homers and fifteen doubles. Alarmingly, he has grounded into an AL-high fifteen double plays, partly due to the fact that the Sox almost never put runners in motion with Mueller, one of the more reliable contact hitters in baseball, at the plate. Defensively, Mueller is as solid as ever. Grade: B

Shortstop: Edgar Renteria has played the first half as if he was blindfolded. He leads AL shortstops in errors with 17, and his offense has been far from what was expected. A .272 batting average with a .327 on-base percentage has hurt the Sox at the number two spot in the batting order where Renteria has hit for most of the first half. His .387 slugging mark seems to be a function of his being too anxious to pull the ball, especially at Fenway. He does have eight stolen bases, second on the team, but most of the time the way he runs to first base on ground balls (especially when hitting into one of his thirteen double plays) makes Manny Ramirez look like Johnny Damon. Grade: C

Left Field: Manny Ramirez, despite having a .225 batting average as late as mid-May, has raised that figure to .275 to go with 22 homers and a league-leading 80 RBI. He was voted to the AL All-Star team despite his slow start, and even has ten assists from left field. Just imagine what his power numbers would be if he hadn't been slumping for the first six weeks of the season. Grade: B

Center Field: Johnny Damon has been golden. Also voted to the AL Al-Star team, Damon is currently riding a 24-game hitting streak. His .343 batting average is second in the AL. He has 23 doubles, five triples, nine steals and 65 runs scored, the latter three categories being team-leading marks. He also has 42 RBI from the leadoff spot. He has also covered the outfield well, and often with abandon as is his way. Grade: A

Right Field: Trot Nixon is another dirt dog. A .296 batting average, .377 on-base percentage and .484 slugging percentage show that Trot is focused and contributing well. He has been slowed a bit by gimpy legs, but hasn't had that many bad moments defensively. Grade: B

Catcher: Jason Varitek is another Sox player voted to start in the All-Star game. His .301-.365-.525 marks are more impressive given the way he hustles and runs the pitching staff. Grade: A

Bench: Doug Mirabelli is a terrific backup catcher who works particularly well with Tim Wakefield. He won't hit for a high average, but he does have some home run pop (four homers in 64 at-bats). Grade: A
Kevin Youkilis is in a tough position. He has nothing more to prove in the minors, but can't crack the starting lineup because of Bill Mueller. He has played a few games at first base to add to his versatility. Despite meager playing time (31 games, 63 at-bats) Youkilis has hit .286 with a .384 OBP and a .429 slugging mark. Grade: B
Jay Payton finally talked himself out of a job by complaining he wasn't playing enough. The disgruntled outfielder managed to hit .263 with five homers in 133 at-bats over 55 games. His 21 RBI and 24 runs scored showed that he was productive given his sporadic playing time, but now he is likely going to the Oakland Athletics for reliever Chad Bradford. Grade: B
Ramon Vazquez was simply awful after a hit spring training that saw the backup infielder hit over .400. Leg injuries slowed Vazquez out of the gate and quickly turned him into the 2005 version of Cesar Crespo. A power-less .197 batting average and shaky defense made it clear that he was not cutting it. Let's hope his replacement, Alex Cora can do better. Grade: F

Starting Pitchers: Matt Clement has been terrific, and is now going to the All-Star game. Clement leads the staff with ten wins and 97 strikeouts (and just 35 walks) and trails only Tim Wakefield for the team lead in innings pitched (117 to 117 2/3) in his 18 starts. Grade: A

Tim Wakefield has been on a bit of a roll lately, even in games he loses (like today's) he pitches well enough so that the bats have a chance to come alive. His 8-7 record is deceptive due to his 4.05 ERA. He is second on the staff with 71 strikeouts, and he also leads with 46 walks, but that number, given the quirks of the knuckleball, isn't too bad. Grade: B

Bronson Arroyo also has a deceptive record. His 7-5 mark could be better given his 4.02 ERA and 64 strikeouts versus only 25 walks. Arroyo tends to throw his breaking ball too much, and sometimes pays the price, but he is learning to spot the fastball better to set hitters up. Grade: B

David Wells is 6-5 with a hefty ERA of 5.00. He missed some starts early when he landed on the DL with a bad foot, whatever the hell that is. He has shown flashes of brilliance, but has turned in just as many lousy starts. Grade: C

Wade Miller seems to be suffering from first-inning-itis. He struggles to get through the sixth inning in many of his starts because of 30-35 pitch first innings. After that he generally settles down, but by then the Sox bats are in a huge hole to try to salvage games. Hence Miller's 2-3 record in twelve starts. Walks are also a problem. Miller has issued 34 free passes in just 68 innings and must cut down this ratio in the second half if he wants to stay in the rotation. Grade: D

Relief Pitchers: Keith Foulke is now on the DL after having undergone arthroscopic knee surgery. He was terrible early, decent for a time, then terrible just before being disabled. His best pitch, the changeup, was often high and hittable. That, combined with a fastball that topped out at 86 (last year he hit 90 regularly) led to blown saves, and a lack of confidence in the closer. Grade: D

Mike Timlin has good numbers on the surface (3-1 record, 28 strikeouts and a 1.69 ERA in 44 innings), but has allowed over 40 percent of his inherited runners to score. This is far from ideal setup work. Timlin will probably get the lions share of the save opportunities until either Foulke returns or Schilling steps in or whatever else Theo Epstein has planned. Grade: B

Alan Embree is Timlin's lefty counterpart and has been terrible in all but a handful of appearances this season. He does have 28 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings, but has also allowed eight homers to end the half with an unbelievable 7.82 ERA. Grade: F

Mike Myers is the slop-throwing, submarining lefty specialist. He is 3-1 in 31 appearances (but only 17 innings) with a 2.65 ERA. Grade: B

Matt Mantei was brought in to beef up the power arm section of the pen, but he has been wild, and is also now on the DL with a bad ankle. He does have 22 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings, but also has 24 walks that helped inflate his ERA to an unacceptable 6.49. Grade: F

John Halama seems to be the forgotten man. A soft-tossing lefty, Halama was penciled in to be a long reliever/spot starter. Well, he made one (1) start, and has been mainly used as a mop-up man, a job that seems to be a waste, but one in which he has not performed well, as his 1-1 record in 28 appearances with a 6.05 ERA attest. Grade: D

Curt Schilling. Grade: INCOMPLETE. Schilling bears watching over the second half to see if Terry Francona and Theo are right, or if Johnny Damon is right.

Manager: Terry Francona has a ton of talent on this team. A lot of people tend to give the manager too much credit when the team does well, and too much blame when they play poorly. During the hot streak the Sox had a few weeks ago in which they won twelve of thriteen didn't require much from the manager as the Sox bats supplied about eight runs a game. But when things get tight, Terry stands pat offensively. He hates to hit-and-run, probably because he has four of the league leaders in striking out in his lineup (Bellhorn, Ramirez, Ortiz and Varitek), but he needs to take advantage of the ability of Johnny Damon and Edgar Renteria to steal more bases, if nothing else so that opposing defenses don't stay comfortable against the station-to-station baserunning of most of this Red Sox team.

On the pitching side of things, you can't blame Terry for the crappy seasons his bullpen pitchers have had. The men simply haven't produced and it is up to Theo Epstein to help correct this situation.

Overall, Terry seems to be a "players" manager, which sounds nice, but can bit you in the ass when you continue to play clowns like Millar and Bellhorn who are absolutely killing your lineup. But, all things considered, being in first place by two games at the half is all right by me. Grade: B

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

One Reporter Jailed, Another Weasels Out, Where's Novak?

One Reporter Jailed, Another Weasels Out, Where's Novak?

In the twisted saga of the Valerie Plame "outing" as a clandestine asset, Judith Miller of the New York Times was sentenced to jail today for her continued refusal to name an anonymous confidential source for a story she wrote AFTER notorious Bush butt-boy Bob Novak originally leaked the information as a way to get back at her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had the bad judgment to write a truthful report that showed Saddam Hussein WAS NOT attempting to buy uranium from Niger. Guardian UK excerpt:

WASHINGTON (AP) - New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed Wednesday for refusing to divulge a confidential source to a grand jury investigating the Bush administration's leak of an undercover CIA operative's name. It added legal drama to what was already one of the most closely watched press freedom cases in recent history.

Another reporter, Matthew Cooper of Time magazine, agreed to cooperate with prosecutors after disclosing that his source had given him permission to do so hours earlier. Cooper's about-face, coming after nearly two years of refusals to disclose the information, spared him the likelihood of jail.

``I do not view myself as above the law,'' Miller told U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan. ``You are right to send me to prison.'' But she said she had an obligation to protect a confidential source: ``I do not make confidentiality pledges lightly, but when I do I must honor them.''

And because she, like Wilson had the bad judgment to actually do her job, she is paying the price that all who go against the Bush Royal Family pay. Hey, at least she didn't end up dead in a motel parking lot dumpster outside of Amarillo. Full story:,1280,-5123076,00.html

So what does this punishment accomplish? Judging from the shameful way Matt Cooper rolled over, it accomplished plenty, namely that only news that pleases President Warmonging Asshole is to be published. But back to the obvious: Why the hell hasn't anyone gone after that hack Novak? Christ, the fact that that piece of shit is allowed on the air at all is bad enough, but now we see that the man who started this whole thing isn't even part of the picture when all is said and done. Note the fact that I took this story from a UK new web site. That ought to tell you plenty about the sad state of the American news structure...

Monday, July 04, 2005

Baseball Updates. House Attempts To Block Unocal Sale To China. Screw The Environment. Deep Impact Arrives!

Catch-Up Time. Biggio Still Number Two. Raffy's Quest For 3,000.

Since my last entry, I've taken part in my softball team's latest victory, an 18-6 win that, combined with a visit from relatives, has taken time away from updating this blog, but here's a quick baseball roundup:

Since baseball stat people like to draw an artificial line between the way the game was played in the 19th century, and the way it has been played since the beginning of the 20th, it is my duty to report that the Houston Astros Craig Biggio is still chasing the absolute HBP record held by Hughie Jennings, a 19th century shortstop, and manager of the early Ty Cobb-era Detroit Tigers, who was hit by 287 pitches in his career. Thanks to Ken Kanniff, Connecticut's Most Wanted Gangsta for the subtle reminder.

And as long as we are discussing milestones, Rafael Palmeiro of the Baltimore Orioles, had an RBI single today in the O's 13-8 loss to the New York Yankees to raise his career hit total to 2,993. Palmeiro, owner of one of the sweetest swings in baseball, and a sure bet for the Hall of Fame, is also in ninth place on the all-time home run list where he shares a spot with Reggie Jackson at 563. Is 600 out of the question?

Also, the Red Sox will be sending David Ortiz, Jason Varitek, Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon to represent the team at next week's All-Star game in Detroit.

House Attempts To Block Unocal Sale To China

In an unexpectedly bold move by the US House of Representatives, a resolution was passed to urge President Greedy Oil Bastard to step in and block the sale of oil giant Unocal to the Chinese. Washington Post excerpt:

SHANGHAI, July 4 -- The Chinese government on Monday sharply criticized the United States for threatening to erect barriers aimed at preventing the attempted takeover of the American oil company Unocal by one of China's three largest energy firms, CNOOC Ltd.

Four days after the U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a resolution urging the Bush administration to block the proposed transaction as a threat to national security, China's Foreign Ministry excoriated Congress for injecting politics into what it characterized as a standard business matter.

Full story:

If there was anyone else, other than the current gang of thugs running things in the White House, the statement that this is "a standard business matter" would be met with the derision it deserves. But, since a greedy oil man and his cronies act as if the world is their own private resort where they can act boorishly with no fear of reprisal, since nobody seems to have the balls to tell them to stop, the statement will draw little notice. And since China now owns most of our trade deficit, I guess it only makes sense to sell them our oil companies. Can you imagine what the headlines would have read if any of this shit happened under Bill Clinton? Well, at least Bush isn't having sex with an intern...

Screw The Environment

In a related story, we see yet another chapter in the Bush administration's pooh-poohing of science in which the Bungler in Chief is sticking to what passes for his principles by telling the world he has no intention of doing anything to decrease pollutant emissions that could accelerate global warming. Bloomberg News excerpt:

July 4 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush ruled out any accord on climate change at the Group of Eight summit that involves limiting carbon emissions as a threat to the U.S. economy.

U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, who is hosting leaders of the largest industrial nations in Gleneagles, Scotland July 6-8, is seeking agreements to cut poverty in Africa and curb climate change, which he describes as the single greatest threat facing the world. Blair is asking G-8 partners to recognize the science of climate change and wants a plan to deal with the problem, according to his representative at pre-summit talks in London over the weekend.

When he was elected president in 2000, Bush rejected the 1997 Kyoto treaty that sets targets for developed nations to reduce emissions of gases linked to global warming. He said any similar proposal this week would be rejected.

Full story:

When the Greedy Oil Bastard ran for the first term he stole, he pledged, as part of his campaign, that he would try to lessen the amount of carbon dioxide and monoxide that heavy industries pump into the air. Once he stole his way into the White House, he promptly revered that position, as anyone with an IQ over 50 knew he would. The bottom line with this subject, as with all other topics that involve the Bush administration, science and a bit of humanity, is that the world will get nothing and like it, because, if this son of a bitch and his backers can steal just one more nickel by letting polluters pour that shit into the air than he could by stopping them, then we will continue to see this type of environmental abuse.

Deep Impact Arrives!

The Deep Impact comet probe landed successfully on the surface of Comet Tempel 1. Sky and Telescope excerpt:

July 4, 2005 NASA scientists and engineers celebrated Independence Day with a bang by successfully slamming Deep Impact's 372-kilogram (820-pound) projectile into Comet Tempel 1 today at 5:52 Universal Time (10:52 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on July 3rd). The head-on meeting took place at more than 37,000 kilometers (23,000 miles) per hour, generating the explosive force of nearly 5 tons of TNT.

This is big. How big? Read on...

Comets are likely unaltered collections of volatile ices and rocky material left over from the creation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago. Short-period comets like Tempel 1, while relatively easy to reach by spacecraft, are exposed to strong sunlight each time they enter the inner solar system. So Deep Impact's main objective was to excavate pristine materials from far below the surface of the nucleus. According to principal investigator Michael A'Hearn (University of Maryland), infrared spectra acquired during the collision have already revealed the presence of yet-to-be-identified compounds.

Full story:

Next time you're stuck for an ice-breaker at a party, try busting that out to the little hottie you are trying to impress.