Monday, October 31, 2005

Bye Harriet...Hello Sammy! Red Sox GM Resigns!

Next Contestant on You Bet Our Lives: Samuel Alito!

By now everyone has heard about President Bush's new Supreme Court nominee. But who is Samuel Alito? How does this latest Supreme Court nominee think? Thanks to the following ThinkProgress excerpt, via Atrios, we get a good hard glimpse at what drives this man, and it ain't pretty:

ALITO WOULD OVERTURN ROE V. WADE: In his dissenting opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Alito concurred with the majority in supporting the restrictive abortion-related measures passed by the Pennsylvania legislature in the late 1980s. Alito went further, however, saying the majority was wrong to strike down a requirement that women notify their spouses before having an abortion. The Supreme Court later rejected Alito's view, voting to reaffirm Roe v. Wade. [Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, 1991]

ALITO WOULD ALLOW RACE-BASED DISCRIMINATION: Alito dissented from a decision in favor of a Marriott Hotel manager who said she had been discriminated against on the basis of race. The majority explained that Alito would have protected racist employers by immuniz[ing] an employer from the reach of Title VII if the employer's belief that it had selected the best candidate was the result of conscious racial bias. [Bray v. Marriott Hotels, 1997

ALITO WOULD ALLOW DISABILITY-BASED DISCRIMINATION: In Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania, the majority said the standard for proving disability-based discrimination articulated in Alito’s dissent was so restrictive that “few if any…cases would survive summary judgment.” [Nathanson v. Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1991]

ALITO WOULD STRIKE DOWN THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) guarantees most workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a loved one."
The 2003 Supreme Court ruling upholding FMLA [Nevada v. Hibbs, 2003] essentially reversed a 2000 decision by Alito which found that Congress exceeded its power in passing the law. [Chittister v. Department of Community and Economic Development, 2000]

ALITO SUPPORTS UNAUTHORIZED STRIP SEARCHES: In Doe v. Groody argued Alito argued that police officers had not violated constitutional rights when they strip searched a mother and her ten-year-old daughter while carrying out a search warrant that authorized only the search of a man and his home. [Doe v. Groody, 2004

ALITO HOSTILE TOWARD IMMIGRANTS: In two cases involving the deportation of immigrants, the majority twice noted Alito's disregard of settled law. In Dia v. Ashcroft, the majority opinion states that Alito's dissent guts the statutory standard and ignores our precedent. In Ki Se Lee v. Ashcroft, the majority stated Alito's opinion contradicted well-recognized rules of statutory construction. [Dia v. Ashcroft, 2003; Ki Se Lee v. Ashcroft, 2004]

Full Story

Well, it looks like the Freepers and the Little Green Fascists succeeded in getting through to President Numbnuts. After the Miers disaster was there really any doubt that the Chump in Chief would do anything less than find the most egregious punishment freak available to be the next nominee to the O'Connor vacancy? Now maybe the FOX crew will stop their whining about how Bush shamelessly abandoned his base. Not that this nomination will shut those bastards up any time soon. They want the whole Court to be made up of modern-day Torquemadas, and won't stop pushing until they get what they want or until the Democrats show some spine and stand up to say "ENOUGH!"

Bottom line: If you agree with ANY of Alito's rulings in the cases noted above, then you probably think that Mr. Bush and his team have done a swell job running the country since January 2001. If that is the case, then you should probably be reading some other blog because Alito's rulings are simple reactionary bullshit, just like the decisions made in the Awful Office for the past five years.

I was glad to see Senators Kennedy and Kerry (welcome to Campaign 2004 John!) voice their displeasure at the Alito selection. Shit, even Harry Reid found a couple of working vertebrae to do likewise. Now if we can only get the rest of the crew on board and really force this issue. You'll forgive me if I don't hold my breath.

Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein Resigns

In a move that many claim to have seen coming, Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein resigned from the job today. ESPN excerpt:

BOSTON -- At 31, boy wonder Theo Epstein was ready to step out on his own. The Red Sox general manager walked away from his hometown team on Monday, stunning Boston and the baseball world just one year after helping the franchise win its first World Series championship since 1918.

"I gave my entire heart and soul to the organization," Epstein said in a statement. "During the process leading up to today's decision, I came to the conclusion that I can no longer do so. In the end, my choice is the right one not only for me but for the Red Sox."

Epstein will continue working for a few days to assist in the transition and prepare for the offseason. The Boston Herald, which first reported the news on its Web site, said the Yale graduate has told associates that he might leave baseball or at least take a year off.

Once the youngest GM in baseball history and still the youngest to assemble a World Series champion, Epstein was reportedly offered about $1.5 million a year for a three-year extension. That was quadruple his previous salary but still short of the $2.5 million the Red Sox offered Oakland's Billy Beane in 2002 before hiring Epstein.

But even after the money was settled, the negotiations turned into a fierce and Freudian standoff between the boy GM and the mentor who nurtured him from an intern to a World Series champion. By leaving, Epstein breaks a longtime link with Red Sox president Larry Lucchino, who hired him as a Baltimore Orioles
intern and brought him to San Diego and then Boston.

The Herald said Epstein went through "agonizing soul-searching" over office politics and his relationship with his boss. Published reports that contained inside information about their relationship, "slanted too much in Lucchino's favor," helped convince Epstein there had been a breach of trust, the Herald said.

A lifelong Red Sox fan who grew up in nearby Brookline, Epstein came to Boston when Lucchino made him the assistant GM. Epstein was promoted to his dream job in 2002, about five weeks before his 29th birthday.

"Growing up in the shadow of Fenway Park, I never dreamed of having the chance to work for my hometown team during such an historic period," Epstein said, thanking owners John Henry and Tom Werner -- and Lucchino -- for the opportunity.

"My affection for the Red Sox did not begin four years ago when I started working here, and it does not end today," he said. "My passion for and dedication to the game of baseball remain strong. Although I have no immediate plans, I will embrace this change in my life and look forward with excitement to the future."

Full Story

So it goes in the ever-continuing soap opera that is the Boston Red Sox. Epstein made many of the above moves in desperation, especially the Nomar trade. The club and Nomar had been far apart on the length of a contract, and Theo felt he had no choice but to trade the "disgruntled" star -- a star made so by Theo and Red Sox management. People are still fooled into believing that the trade "sparked" the Sox to the World Series title in 2004, but the truth was that once Nomar was gone, catcher Jason Varitek and first-baseman Kevin Millar began hitting the way everyone expected them to hit (and unfortunately Millar fell through the floor offensively in 2005). The renewed offense from those two, added to Manny's and David Ortiz's bats were the real reason the Sox surged in August and September to propel them into October to rewrite the history books in 2004.

Anyway, this isn't a forum on Nomar, it is about Theo. He screwed this year's team up royally in the pitching department by letting Pedro Martinez sign with the Mets, and by letting Derek Lowe sign with the Dodgers. Their replacements were David Wells and Matt Clement. Wells was up and down all year, and surprisingly, made most of his scheduled starts. Clement had a hot first half that saw him in the All-Star Game in Detroit, but faded badly in the second half. Neither guy brought the fire to the hill that Pedro had, and still has. Pedro won 15 games for an 83-win Mets team that blew about seven leads for him after the seventh inning, plus Pedro still strikes out a man an inning, and was third in the NL in strikeouts (208) and fourth in ERA (2.82). The problem was that Theo brought in a pair of guys who don't strike many hitters out. With Curt Schilling hurt and ineffective this was a problem as many more balls were put into play against a mediocre Red Sox defense.

As far as his work with position players goes, he let Orlando Cabrera, the man he got to replace Nomar, sign with the Angels, and he replaced Cabrera with Edgar Renteria who had an awful year. 30 league-leading errors helped keep opposition rallies going while his 100 strikeouts batting near the top of an order surrounded by Johnny Damon, David Ortiz and Manny contributed to kill many rallies. His and manager Terry Francona's insane obsession with Kevin Millar is another modern mystery. John Olerud was clearly the better player, yet Millar continued to get the bulk of the playing time at first base, even though he was clearly not up to the task.

All in all, given the many failures of certain players (Mark Bellhorn, Alan Embree, Keith Foulke, Schilling) it is amazing that this team won 95 games. Still, the potential was there for more because Theo broke up a team that had come together and was ready to dominate. Now the new GM will be forced to look at what to do with Johnny Damon. Do we sign him to a five-year deal at age 32 given his bad shoulder that hampered him down the stretch? What about Bill Mueller at third base? Keep him or give Kevin Youkilis the job? And what about Trot Nixon? Will he ever have another healthy season? And what about second base? Sure Tony Graffanino was a great pickup, but he's probably not a long term solution. How about Manny? What new adventures lie in store with him? Perhaps most important, what do they do with the three young arms of Jonathan Papelbon, Manny Delcarmen and Craig Hansen? The new GM should sign an agreement as part of the condition of his (or her?) hiring that they will NOT trade ANY of these kids.

Well, good luck Theo. Thanks for 2004. As Bogie and Bergman had Paris, you'll always have 2004!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Nazi Doctor Hiding In Spain? Did Comet Strikes Plague Early North American Settlers? Hall Of Famer Al Lopez 1908-2005.

Nazi Doctor Reported Hiding Out In Spain

The following Reuters News excerpt contains the story of a Nazi doctor who has apparently been living in Spain for about 20 years. The full story contains some rough images that I've chosen to edit from my excerpt.

MADRID (Reuters) - An Austrian doctor accused of killing hundreds of inmates at a Nazi concentration camp during World War Two has been hiding in Spain for the last 20 years, a Spanish newspaper reported on Sunday. German authorities have said they are hunting for Aribert Heim, 91, known as "Doctor Death."

Heim worked in Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria and killed hundreds of inmates by lethal injection and torture, according to the Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Center, which has also said Heim may be hiding out in Spain.

Spain's El Mundo newspaper, which has previously reported that Heim may once have lived on the Costa Brava, in northeastern Spain, said on Sunday that Heim had moved to Spain in 1985. It said he had been sheltered by Odessa, a secret group believed to have helped Nazi war criminals hide and find them new identities.

"Odessa, which has had one of its main operating bases in Spain during the 60 years of its history, has kept Doctor Aribert Heim...hidden in our country for the last 20 years," it said. The report quoted investigators as saying that Heim's most lasting hideout was near the town of Roses, on the Costa Brava.

"The police suspect that, knowing that he had been located, Heim left the Roses area in a yacht to go to the Marbella area (on the southern Spanish coast)," it said.

Some of Heim's victims were Spaniards. Many Republicans who fled to France after their defeat in the 1936-39 Spanish civil war were sent to Mauthausen after being handed over to the Nazis by the Vichy government. Some 5,000 Spaniards died there.

According to El Mundo, Heim spent only seven weeks at Mauthausen, from October 8 to November 29, 1941, but said this was enough to leave an indelible mark.

There are a few paragraphs I've omitted due to what I judge to be a particularly grisly description of the way this son of a bitch treated his prisoners. I'll provide a full story link for the curious at the end of this portion of the post.

Heim was captured by the allies after the war but was only accused of belonging to the Waffen-SS and was freed from an internment camp in 1948, the report said. When his history began to come to light, he fled in 1962.

El Mundo said he lived in Egypt until 1967, when he traveled to several other countries before setting up a clinic in Uruguay between 1979 and 1983. Two years after that, he moved to Spain, it said.

An Interior Ministry spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment on Sunday. Newspaper reports have said that police are searching for Heim in Spain but Spanish officials have made no public comment on the case.

Full Story

Just when you think all the remaining monsters in the Nazi regime have died out we get a story like this one that shows that there is no real justice in the cosmic sense. How can there be when an abomination like this man can live a full life to a ripe old age after having committed unspeakably cruel acts against countless numbers of people?

Did Comets/Supernova Effects Plague Early Americans?

A nuclear scientist has come up with a theory to explain what may have wiped out some pockets of early North American settlers, as well as many species of plants and animals roughly 13,000 years ago. AP News excerpt:

COLUMBIA, S.C. - A supernova could be the "quick and dirty" explanation for what may have happened to an early North American culture, a nuclear scientist here said Thursday.

Richard Firestone said at the "Clovis in the Southeast" conference that he thinks "impact regions" on mammoth tusks found in Gainey, Mich., were caused by magnetic particles rich in elements like titanium and uranium. This composition, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientist said, resembles rocks that were discovered on the moon and have also been found in lunar meteorites that fell to Earth about 10,000 years ago.

Firestone said that, based on his discovery of similar material at Clovis sites, he estimates that comets struck the solar system during the Clovis period, which was roughly 13,000 years ago. These comets would have hit the Earth at 1,000 kilometers an hour, he said, obliterating many life forms and causing mutations in others.

Full Story

An interesting side to this story is that Firestone, whose area of expertise is nuclear physics, has brought something of value to the table in helping to describe something in the field of archeology. The geological record goes part of the way to backing the theory up in the form of impact craters throughout the southwest part of the U.S. The theory also makes sense due to the large number of comets and asteroids that have recently been discovered, and catalogued, that cross the Earth's orbit.

The supernova part is a bit harder to pin down because you need a star to have exploded that is close enough to have the magnetic effects Firestone describes, but yet far enough away so as not to have destroyed the planet outright. An interesting thing to do as a follow-up would be to examine well-established areas of human settlements in other parts of the world to see if similar patterns exist.

Al Lopez, Hall of Fame Manager, 1908-2005

Al Lopez, the last man to guide the Chicago White Sox to the World Series before this season, died Sunday at age 97. AP Wire excerpt:

MIAMI - Al Lopez, a Hall of Fame catcher and manager who led the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox to American League pennants in the 1950s, died Sunday at 97.

Lopez had been hospitalized in Tampa since Friday, when he suffered a heart attack at his son's home, Al Lopez Jr. said.
Lopez was the oldest living Hall of Fame member, said Jeff Idelson, spokesman for the Hall. Lopez hit .261 with 51 homers and 652 RBIs during a 19-year career in which he was one of baseball's most durable catchers and set the record for most games caught in the major leagues at 1,918. The record was later broken by Bob Boone, then Carlton Fisk.

Lopez was best known for being the only AL manager to lead teams that finished ahead of the New York Yankees
between 1949-64. He helped the Indians to the 1954 pennant and, until last week, was the last manager to lead the White Sox to the World Series — their 1959 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"We're saddened by the news," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said through a spokesman Sunday. "Al lived a long and good life. We're so pleased we were able to win the World Series this year and that he was able to see it before he died."

The two-time All Star's first full season in the majors was 1930, and he played 18 seasons for Brooklyn, Boston,
Pittsburgh and Cleveland. He managed the Indians from 1951-56 and the White Sox from 1957-65 and 1968-69.

Under Lopez, the Cleveland Indians won a then-AL record 111 games in 1954, and his 1959 "Go-Go" White Sox won Chicago's first AL pennant since 1919. His teams finished second to the Yankees every other season that decade.
"We called him 'Senor' Lopez," said Jim Rivera, a center fielder for the '59 White Sox.

"He was very fair. If you did something good he would compliment you. If you struck out or made an error, he wouldn't say a word, as long as you hustled and worked hard," Rivera said Sunday from his home in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Lopez's second stint as manager of the White Sox ended May 2, 1969, when he resigned for health reasons with a career record of 1,422-1,026.

Full Story

Lopez's record is a bit different on the baseball-reference web site (and my money is on them). It is 1,410-1,004. Lopez's worst team had a .525 winning percentage for a full season (the 1962 White Sox). In his 15 full seasons managing the Indians and White Sox his teams won 90 or more games 10 times. Unfortunately, Yankee dominance in the fifties and early sixties meant that Lopez managed a lot of very good second (ten times) or third place (once) clubs. The previously mentioned 1962 team finished fifth in the American League, Lopez's worst showing in the standings as a manager. Baseball has lost a true giant.

Lopez's B-R record

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Chicago White Sox - 2005 World Series Champions!

Congratulations to the Chicago White Sox, the 2005 World Series Champions. Ozzie Guillen's crew earned the distinction after a 1-0 victory over the Houston Astros to clinch baseball's ultimate prize.

This game was a classic pitchers duel between Chicago's Freddie Garcia and Houston's Brandon Backe. Both starters were stingy, and were effective in getting out of the few jams they encountered.

The lone run of the game came in the 8th inning off of beleaguered Houston closer Brad Lidge. Willie Harris, all 4-foot-3 of him, singled and was sacrificed to second by Scott Podsednik. Harris then moved to third on a groundout to second by Carl Everett. By the way, there is no truth to the rumor that Everett's favorite rock band is Dinosaur Jr. World Series MVP Jermaine Dye then delivered Harris from third with a single up the middle.

The White Sox bullpen took over to preserve the lead and the game. Cliff Politte, Neal Cotts and Bobby Jenks shut down the Astros in the 8th and 9th innings, with a little defensive help from shortstop Juan Uribe, who made a terrific catch of a foul ball into the stands along the third base line for the second out of the 9th. Uribe then made the final play of the game, and the series on Orlando Palmeiro's grounder to give the White Sox their first World Series Championship since 1917.

Now people on Chicago's South Side (as well as the rest of the city and region) can rejoice the way we Red Sox followers did last autumn when our long championship drought ended. What is in store for the 2006 season? Will it be the Cubs' turn? Well, there are only 115 days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks, 1913-2005. $73 Million In Unclaimed Tax Refunds!

Rosa Parks, 1913-2005

Rosa Parks, whose simple act of defiance on a Montgomery, Alabama bus 50 years ago that gave birth to the Civil Rights movement in the Deep South, died yesterday at age 92. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

The death of Rosa Parks death underscores that the generation responsible for the key victories of the civil rights movement is fading into history, leaving its survivors with the challenge of keeping the movement's memory and work alive even as today's youth often seem disengaged.

"As people get older and people pass, it becomes more and more difficult to have that sort of firsthand knowledge" of the fight for integration, said U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat who first met Parks as a 17-year-old student and activist. "It becomes a little more difficult to pass it on."

Lewis, who once headed the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, added that the social challenges of today — persistent racial gaps in poverty, education and wealth, among others — highlight the continued need for activists and teachers to honor Parks' spirit. "Her life should inspire a generation yet unborn to stand up," he said.

In 1955, Parks was a seamstress and longtime secretary for the local NAACP who defied segregation laws and refused to give up her seat in a whites-only section of a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama.

Then 42, she inspired tens of thousands of working-class blacks — led by Rev. Martin Luther King — to boycott the local buses for more than a year. Finally, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that declared Montgomery's segregated seating laws unconstitutional. The effort highlighted persistent bias against blacks across the nation.

I don't have anything close to the words to describe the tremendous courage this woman showed the world in that dark time. And lest one thinks that sentence to be hyperbole, please read on...

Parents who were active in the movement say they sense a disconnect when speaking with their children.
"I remember my son once said to me, 'Why did you sit in the back of the bus? Why didn't you just go up front?' I said 'I didn't want to get killed,'" said Earl G. Graves Sr., 70, publisher of Black Enterprise Magazine. "He looked at me and blinked."

So for those who think that stories of violent acts against African-Americans were exaggerated, let them chew on that for a while. Unfortunately, it seems to take the passing of an icon like Ms. Parks to remind us of this nation's shameful legacy of racism. At least Ms. Parks lived to see some measure of improvement in the lives of African-Americans, unlike other Civil Rights icons like Dr. King, Malcolm X and Medgar Evers. Their struggle should be a constant reminder to all Americans that the measure of a person is not found in his or her skin color.

Full Story

IRS Says Unclaimed Tax Refunds Total $73 Million!

This eye-popping headline grabbed my attention. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

WASHINGTON - Thousands of people have money sitting at the Internal Revenue Service that could be claimed if they would just tell the tax collectors where they live.

The IRS said Tuesday that $73 million in tax refunds that were sent to taxpayers this year did not reach the destination. In most cases, the post office returned the checks as undeliverable because the taxpayers had moved.
The money belongs to more than 84,000 taxpayers, some of whom have more than one check waiting to be claimed.

Checking on the status of a refund — by calling 1-800-829-4477 or visiting IRS Web site at — could be worth $871 to the average taxpayer due an unclaimed refund.

"Our goal is to get this money back in the hands of the people it belongs to," IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said.

Full Story

That's a hell of a lot of unclaimed tax refund money. Damn! I'm not expecting anything, but I think I'll navigate over to that web site to see if they might have a few Greenspans to toss my way...

Monday, October 24, 2005

New FED Chair Nominee. World Series Update.

Preznit Nominates New FED Chair

President Completely Clueless has nominated former Princeton economics professor Bernard Bernanke to the new head of the US Federal Reserve to replace 216-year-old Alan Greenspan. BBC News excerpt:

Bernard Bernanke has been chosen by President George W Bush to succeed the respected head of the US Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan. Mr Bernanke, a Princeton economist who was appointed chairman of the council of economic advisors in June, is therefore the government's chief economic advisor.

Mr Bernanke spent most of his career as Princeton economics professor before becoming a member of the Fed's board of governors in 2002. He is a leading advocate of "inflation targeting", the idea that central banks should set a target for inflation - in the UK it is 2% - and stick to it.

This approach was opposed by Mr Greenspan, who believed central banks needed to keep the markets guessing on how tough they would be on inflation. Mr Bernanke's approach is widely adopted in Europe, by both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank, and supporters say it has helped to lower expectations of inflation among the public.

His appointment was widely welcomed by financial markets - where traders have become familiar with his approach.

"Bernanke has continuity with Greenspan," said Alex Beuzelin, analyst with Ruesch International. "The risk would have been coming out with someone the market doesn't know, or who is a monetary hawk."

But not everyone agreed. "Of all the Fed governors, Bernanke is the one I would be most fearful of," said Rich Parker, head of trading at Stamford Group. "He is too fast with the trigger and his take on inflation and deflation has been proven wrong."

Neither is the appointment popular among Republican loyalists who do not see him as a team player.

Full Story

My guess is that the rank and file neocon sludgemongers will rail against Bernanke on that last point, but also, and more importantly, because he advocates ideas that have been implemented in European markets, which is anathema to the many supply-side crackheads that make up much of what passes for President Numbskull's inner circle.

It is interesting that Greenspan had such a wait-and-see
approach to inflation. As FED Chair under Bill Clinton, he had to raise interest rates six times to control the rate of economic growth. Under Bush, Greenspan had to raise rates for just the opposite reason -- to bolster the struggling economy once the President Greedy Oil Man gave the budget surplus to the rich. Not that I'm turning cartwheels over this decision (if Bunnypants likes him there must be
something wrong with him...), but it will be fun to see how a bunch of conflicted Republican senators reach for ways to torpedo this nomination.

World Series Update

The Chicago White Sox beat the Houston Astros last night 7-6 at a cold and rainy US Cellular Field to take a two games to none lead in the 2005 World Series.

White Sox left fielder Scott Podsednik won the game with a solo homer in the bottom of the ninth inning, his second of the post-season after more than 500 regular season at-bats without a single round tripper.

First baseman Paul Konerko gave the Sox a 6-4 lead with a grand slam after right fielder Jermaine Dye was awarded first base for being hit by a pitch that he actually fouled off. The White Sox have been getting the benefit of these crappy calls since early in the ALCS against the Angels. Last year, when there were questionable calls, the umps got together to discuss them, then made the correct rulings. This post- season, we've seen no such effort. My theory as to why this is so? Two words: Joe West.

West is a notoriously bad ump who has been around long enough to become a crew chief. He is a confrontational lout who believes the fans have shown up to see him take over each game. The fact that the two best teams play for all the marbles should factor into the selection of the umpiring crew. This is yet another idiotic oversight by Omissioner Selig -- and I'm not even gonna get into the instant replay discussion.

Anyway, the Sox couldn't hold the lead because gigantic closer Bobby Jenks couldn't harness his 100 MPH throws for a second night in a row. He squandered the two-run lead that set the stage for Podsednik's unlikely heroics off of beleaguered Houston closer Brad Lidge. This is two game losing homers in the last two appearances for Lidge, the first having come from the bat of Albert Pujols to prolong the NLCS against the Cardinals.

Game three is scheduled for Tuesday night in Houston and will see the Astros start Roy "Harvey" Oswalt while the White Sox counter with Jon Garland.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Abramoff - Reed Corruption Connection. World Series Update and Other Tidbits.

Abramoff - Reed Corruption Connection

The following story details the connection between notorious GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed in the form of a long e-mail trail that shows the business relationship the two had in performing their dirty deeds. Yahoo News AP wire excerpt:

WASHINGTON - Jack Abramoff, the GOP lobbyist under investigation by federal authorities for fraud, repeatedly sought the help of Bush strategist Ralph Reed to open doors at the White House for his business clients, according to e-mail made public Sunday.

The e-mails show that Abramoff pushed for intervention from deputy White House chief of staff Karl Rove on at least three occasions since 2001 to promote business opportunities.

Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition and a nominee in the 2006 race for Georgia's lieutenant governor, wrote back obliging responses, according to the e-mail obtained by Time magazine. The e-mail is now being reviewed by federal investigators, Time reported.

The e-mails show that 10 days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Abramoff promoted a business venture to rent cruise ships to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to house rescue workers off New York City.

Responding to Abramoff's request for help, Reed wrote on Sept. 21, 2001: "Put in a tag call to karl to find out the best contact at fema."

Four months later, Abramoff wrote Reed seeking "serious swat from Karl" in hopes of getting $16 million released by the Justice Department to fund a jail that his Choctaw Indian clients wished to build in Mississippi. Reed replied that he was at a lunch with Rove at a Republican National Committee meeting and would report the "substance shortly."

Reed agreed to give Rove materials on behalf of the Choctaws, Time reported. The cruise-ship deal was never accepted, while the Choctaws got the jail.

Full Story

And so it goes. Mr. Abramoff has been a busy little beaver hasn't he? Christ, he's connected with all the major players in the GOP and the Bush White House: DeLay, Reed, much for the "most ethical administration ever". With the trouble he is in because of his association with Tom DeLay, Abramoff doesn't exactly need more problems like this. Hell, what is he looking at, 300 years in prison? One can only hope!

As for that slime mold Reed (PLEASE Georgia, vote AGAINST this asshole in 2006!!!), is there a better example of Christian hypocrisy in public life? Well, other than President Bungling Idiot or James Dobson.

World Series Update and Other Tidbits

Last night's World Series opening game featured some home runs (courtesy of Jermaine Dye and Joe Crede of the White Sox, and Mike Lamb of the Astros), some nasty relief pitching (courtesy of Neal Cotts and Bobby Jenks of the White Sox--how do 102 MPH Jenks fastballs grab you?), and the early departure from the game by Roger "The Mercenary" Clemens after just two innings due to either groin pain, back stiffness or both.

White Sox starter Jose Contreras pitched into the 8th inning despite not having his best stuff and got the win. Clemens' replacement, lefty Wandy Rodriguez, who surrendered the go-ahead run, took the loss. The two teams go at it again tonight with Andy Pettitte starting on the mound for Houston against Mark Buerhle of the White Sox.

The new H.I.M. CD, Dark Light, has been released and is in my hot little hands. I'll get a review together soon.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Post-Vegas Trip Catch-Up.

I'm back dear readers, and what a trip it was. Here's a quick rundown:

I landed at McCarren International Wednesday evening and took a cab to the Orleans, where most of our group was headquartered. I met up with Ken Kanniff and Janet and a few others who had dragged in early for a quick bite and to verify some plans for the next few days.

Thursday morning was taken up by a visit to After Hours to pick up the tuxedos and gowns. The afternoon saw several of us visit Nellis Air Force Base where Ken and I played a round of golf with Janet's dad, her two brothers and three of her uncles. I stink at golf. I shot a 62 for nine holes and lost two balls in the desert scrub that I was advised not to chase due to the prevalence of rattlesnakes and scorpions. The fighter planes, raptors and drone aircraft made an interesting setting against the mountains that rim the valley. After golf, we went back to the Orleans for a shower before heading to the Prime Rib Loft for a pre-wedding dinner for the people "in" the wedding. Myself (groomsman), the Best Man (Glenn the Knuckledragger) and the Maid and Matron of honor were all there with spouses and significant others to exchange gifts prior to the nuptials.

Friday afternoon gave myself and Glenn the opportunity to have a session of Black Jack. We both came put ahead, Glenn moreso because he plays more aggressively than I do. The evening began with a trip to the Luxor Steak House where 16 of us were treated like Michael Corleone. After gorging ourselves on steak, beer and wine, we headed over to Scores for some female entertainment. We were greeted at the club in a similar fashion to the way we were handled at the Luxor, and no sooner had we sat down than an angel named Sweet Little Shelby came over and sat right in my lap. Needless to say, this portion of the evening had gotten off to a GREAT start! We managed to linger at Scores for three or four hours before finally heading back to the Orleans. A quick shout out to Shelby, Linnea, Krissy, Corona, the young lady who looks like Salma Hayek (a special treat for Mr. Kanniff) and all the other young ladies.

Saturday, the big day! Glenn and I kept a close watch on Ken, but there was really no need. The magic hour approached and we headed to the Rio. The Roses Chapel housed the ceremony, attended by roughly sixty of Ken's and Janet's family and friends. I tried not to trip over myself as I did my ceremonial groomsman entrance and exit at the appropriate times, and was surprisingly successful, if not more than a bit stiff as confirmed by one of Janet's aunts asking me if I had ever done any military service due to the straightness of my bearing. I had to answer no, that I was probably just overcompensating due to the serious nature of the occasion.

And the reception, held in the Fiore Steak House, also in the Rio, was un-smegging-believable! The menu included T-Bone steaks, rack of lamb, lobster, crab and assorted vegetarian fare before the decadence of the dessert trays was revealed: chocolate souffle and Bananas Foster. And for those who could still move after that, a slice of wedding cake. More than one participant went on the nod near the end of the festivities.

Sunday morning was spent getting the tuxedos back to After Hours. Glenn left his shoes at the hotel, then cursed the counter help by claiming he never ordered shoes (A little background here. We got measured at the Natick Mall After Hours and their staff sent the information to Vegas branch). We calmed Glenn down and got the hell out of there after making him promise to return with the shoes. Back at the Orleans, I made another stand at the Black Jack table, and played a bit of video poker to kill some time before dinner. And yes, I came out ahead once again. After a bit of tension caused by She Who Shall Go Unnamed, the evening was spent at Excalibur for the Tournament of Kings for a medieval style jousting show that was excellent in its execution.

Monday morning and early afternoon was spent going to the Venetian with Ken's uncle Mike, who happens to be a dead ringer for actor Ben Gazzara, and is one of the funniest people I've ever met. We walked around the visually intoxicating hotel, shops and casino before sitting down to lunch. Mike had a mid-afternoon flight to catch, so we made lunch disappear quickly. The evening was spent in one of the video lounges at the Orleans for Monday Night Football.

As we watched the Colts come back big against the Rams on the big screen, we kept an eye on one of the smaller screens that was broadcasting Game 5 of the NLCS. With the Astros up 4-2 in the top of the ninth, the announcers gave Astro Lance Berkman the Chevrolet Player of the Game award for his three-run homer that put Houston on top. I immediately glanced over to Ken who had turned to my direction. We were both thinking the same thing: The game isn't over YET, what's with giving out awards? But when Astro closer Brad Lidge blew away the first two Cardinal hitters on strikes, Berkman's award seemed safe. Enter David Eckstein.

Eckstein, a former Red Sox infielder whose idea of hustle makes Pete Rose look like Manny Ramirez, is, to put it nicely, a pesky hitter. He chokes up on the bat and tries to punch the ball through the infield. He fell into a 1-2 hole before hitting a nasty slider into left field for a single. Jim Edmonds walked. Albert Pujols, the Cardinals biggest bat, and the best bet for NL MVP stood in at the plate. The first pitch was another of Lidge's nasty sliders that Pujols swung at and missed by about a foot. Lidge tried another slider. This one didn't break--it spun. Pujols crushed it about 440 feet into the left field bleachers to give the Cardinals a 5-4 lead. Lidge got Reggie Sanders out to end the inning, but the Astros went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth to force Game 6. I wonder if the announcers revoked Berkman's Chevrolet Player of the Game award and gave it to Pujols?

We hung around the lounge for a bit before heading to the Poker Room once Earl Crowder arrived. Earl lost his home to the severe flooding in the northeast (he was renting), and decided to come out here to gamble and look for a place to live. Earl is a tight Texas Hold 'Em and Omaha player who will probably fit in well out in Vegas once he settles in. Ken and Earl decided to hit the tables, while I went upstairs to my room to pack for my flight out the next morning.

There you have it. The Listerplus 2005 Vegas Tour. I'm aware that since I've returned that the Astros beat the Cardinals in Game 6 and will be moving on to the World Series against the White Sox. Despite Ozzie Guillen's team having dispatched the seriously flawed Red Sox in the ALDS, I'm pulling for him and his crew. The Astros may be a plucky team, but I still hold a grudge against Roger "The Mercenary" Clemens for the way he mailed in his 1993-1996 seasons with the Red Sox. I hope the White Sox pound him senseless in his starts.

Also, it seems the water has gotten a little hotter for some of my favorite Republican douchebags. Tom DeLay, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and Scooter Libby are all walking on ice that is getting thinner by the second, and I can't wait to see how far they fall once it finally cracks.

That's all for now. I'll get my bearings a little straighter now that I'm more or less back into my regular routine.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pre-Vegas Departure Catch-Up.

My humble apologies for neglecting my blogging duties. Last week was another flurry of bowling league activity that saw me bowl like ass on both Wednesday (439) and Thursday (448). My average is now down to 168 thanks to these dismal performances that were Red Sox-like in their futility. That, combined with the heavy wind and rain that tore the electrical meter away from my house after a dead tree fell across the wire leading to the street, left me without power for much of the weekend. I have power back now though, which is a good thing because I'm making last minute preparations for my trip to fabulous Las Vegas to witness Ken Kanniff, Connecticut's Most Wanted Gangsta marry his longtime sweetheart Miss Janet. My plane leaves in a few hours, so I'll make this a short post. I'll do my best to take as many mental notes about what will be happening around me for those of my eight readers who have yet to experience Sin City.

And speaking of the Red Sox (a season post-mortem will be coming in a future post), the White Sox quickly put them out of their misery in their Division Series sweep of last year's WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS. Oh well, at least the Angels sent the hated Yankees home early by taking their Division Series in five games. A-Knob had a nice series. Generally timid play from The $252 Million Man punctuated by errors, strikeouts and a key GIDP in the ninth inning of the deciding game to kill any Yankee hopes. But hey, at least that AL MVP trophy will look good on his mantle? Now it is down to the final four with the Angels taking on the White Sox in the ALCS, and the Cardinals taking on the Astros in the NLCS.

That is all for now. Blog at youse later.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Millionaire Space Tourist Flying High. Red Sox Crushed In Playoff Opener.

Millionaire Space Tourist Loving The Ride

Gregory Olsen, the millionaire who bought a $20 million ticket to ride into space is just thrilled about his trip to the International Space Station. Yahoo News AP excerpt:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - A rich entrepreneur scientist who bought his own ticket to the International Space Station said from orbit Tuesday that the trip was worth the millions of dollars he paid, and his only fear on launch day was not going.

"I'm having a great time. I mean, this is a dream come true," Gregory Olsen said at a news conference broadcast from the space station. "This is my fourth day and I'm really enjoying it," he added. "Just to look out and see the Earth from about 230 miles up is just great."

The best part, Olsen said, is "just being here." As for the reported $20 million he paid for the 10-day trip, "It's like the price and value argument. This is something I wanted to do, I love doing, so to me, yes, it's worth the money."

With his launch aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket on Saturday from Kazakhstan, Olsen became the world's third paying space tourist. He made his fortune with Sensors Unlimited Inc. of Princeton, N.J., a company that makes devices for fiber-optic communications and infrared imaging. He is chairman of the board of directors and a co-founder.

Full Story

I wonder what kind of in-flight service that $20 million bought Mr. Olsen?

Red Sox Crushed In Playoff Opener

The Red Sox got their asses handed to them in their American League Division Series opener against the Chicago White Sox in the Windy City this afternoon. The final score was 14-2. Starter Matt Clement was terrible. He allowed eight runs in 3 1/3 innings before manager Terry Francona woke up and got the bullpen involved. It didn't help. The White Sox had two homers from catcher A.J. Piersynski, and first baseman Paul Konerko, shortstop Juan Uribe and left fielder Scott Podsednik (who had ZERO homers ALL SEASON) also hit homers as pitcher Jose Contreras, a guy the Red Sox usually hammer, cruised into the 8th inning for the victory. The two teams face off again tomorrow night for Game Two.

In other baseball playoff news, the St. Louis Cardinals got off to an 8-0 lead over the San Diego Padres in their National League Division Series opener, and held on as the Padres batted their bullpen around to make it an 8-5 final. Cards left fielder Reggie Sanders hit a grand slam, part of a six RBI day. Center fielder Jim Edmonds also homered for the Cards. St. Louis starting pitcher Cris Carpenter pitched six scoreless innings for the win, but had to leave in the seventh due to dehydration. Eric Young had a pinch-hit homer for the Padres.

The Yankees face the Angels in Anaheim tonight in their ALDS opener. The Braves and Astros start their NLDS series tomorrow.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Tenth Planet Has A Moon.

In a sweep through the Sky and Telescope web site, just after completing my Supreme Court Downgrade/DeLay Troubles Part Deux, I came across this story that seems to indicate the discovery of a moon in orbit around the recently discovered tenth planet. Excerpt:

October 2, 2005 The solar system's largest known Kuiper Belt object (KBO), the recently discovered body known as 2003 UB313, isn't wandering through space alone.

Michael E. Brown (Caltech) and his colleagues have discovered that it has a small companion, by using the newly commissioned Laser Guide Star Adaptive Optics system on the Keck II telescope atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii, on September 10th.

The team doesn't yet know the moon's orbit, since they have only a single night of images. But observations with the Hubble Space Telescope planned for November and December should help determine the moon's orbital period and distance from 2003 UB313, and thus that object's mass. Due to scheduling constraints the team can't observe the system with Keck again for several months. Still, Brown says, "by January we should know the orbit."

The satellite is about 100 times (5 magnitudes) fainter than 19th-magnitude 2003 UB313. So if its surface has about the same reflectivity, its diameter is about a tenth that of the main body. That would make the satellite about 270 kilometers across.

Having a moon may not help 2003 UB313 gain official status as a "planet," but certainly it can't hurt. Right now an International Astronomical Union (IAU) committee is deciding whether 2003 UB313 should be officially classified as the tenth planet in the solar system.

In the meantime, recent new observations with the infrared Spitzer Space Telescope have allowed Brown and his team to confirm that the object is indeed larger than the previous KBO record holder, Pluto, by about 20 percent. Their current value for its diameter is 2,700 km, compared to Pluto's 2,274 km. The size measurement will be finalized in the coming weeks, but "if it's not larger than Pluto, then I'll eat my telescope," says Brown.

Full Story

Not long ago, correspondent and fellow space enthusiast
Em Jeigh and I were discussing this concept of what constitutes a planet. This discussion was triggered by the discovery of the KBO Quaoar a couple of years ago. Quaoar was nearly the size of Pluto, and some astronomers became vocal about downgrading Pluto's status from that of planet to "King of the KBOs". That got us thinking about things.

The mention in the excerpt that the evidence of a moon might play a factor means little because there are several asteroids that seem to have moons, and nobody is clamoring for them to be called planets. Also, Mercury and Venus do not have moons, and that does not disqualify them as planets.

My humble idea was that from now on, any newly discovered object must have at least 5% of the Earth's mass to qualify as a planet--moons or no moons. The object also had to travel in an orbit that made it independent of the influence of any other bodies in the region. That is an important distinction because Ganymede, the largest moon of Jupiter, and Titan, Saturn's largest moon, are both larger than Mercury, and are almost as large as Mars, but they clearly do not qualify as planets because they orbit larger bodies. Feel free to comment if I've overlooked anything. In the meantime, celebrate the fact that the Solar System's available real estate market is growing!

Supreme Court Downgrade Update. Tom DeLay's Second Indictment!

Supreme Court Downgrade Update: Empty Suit Sworn In. Empty Skirt Nominated.

On the day Stepford Nominee and Empty Suit Extraordinaire John Roberts was sworn in as the nation's 17th Supreme Court Chief Justice, President Numbnuts nominated an empty dress. Harriet Ellan Miers, to take Sandra Day O'Connor's seat on the bench--the seat for which Roberts was initially nominated before Chief Justice Rehnquist had the bad timing to die. Here's a list of Ms. Miers' "accomplishments" courtesy of the Washington Post:

Throughout her (Miers')career, she has been very active in the legal community and has blazed a trail for other women to follow.

* In 1985, Miers was selected as the first woman to become president of the Dallas Bar Association.
* In 1992, she became the first woman elected president of the State Bar of Texas. Miers served as the president of the State Bar of Texas from 1992 to 1993.
* She played an active role in the American Bar Association. She was one of two candidates for the number two position at the ABA, chair of the House of Delegates, before withdrawing her candidacy to move to Washington to serve in the White House. Miers also served as the chair of the ABA's Commission on Multijurisdictional Practice.
On numerous occasions, the National Law Journal named her one of the nation's 100 most powerful attorneys and as one of the nation's top 50 women lawyers.

Miers also has been involved in local and statewide politics in Texas.
* In 1989, she was elected to a two-year term as an at-large candidate on the Dallas City Council. She chose not to run for re-election when her term expired.
* Miers also served as general counsel for the transition team of Governor-elect George W. Bush in 1994.
* From 1995 until 2000, Miers served as chairwoman of the Texas Lottery Commission, a voluntary public service position she undertook while maintaining her legal practice and other responsibilities. When then-Governor Bush appointed Miers to a six-year term on the Texas Lottery Commission, it was mired in scandal, and she served as a driving force behind its cleanup.

Miers came to Washington, D.C., in 2001:
* She was appointed assistant to the president and staff secretary on Jan. 20, 2001.
* In 2003, Miers was promoted to assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff.
* Miers has served as counsel to the president since February 2005.

Full Story

Ken Kanniff, Connecticut's Most Wanted Gangsta and I just had a short telephone conversation about this development. He told me that he was watching Fox Knuckledrag News with Brit Hume interviewing the person who was cheering this nomination. That person was none other than extreme religio-crazy James Dobson. James Dobson?!? WTF?!? There is now way a nutjob like Dobson could possibly approve of Miers. She isn't anywhere close to being wingnutty enough to satisfy his particular brand of insanity. Even more telling, I heard a soundbite on NPR that Democrats like Chuck Schumer (D-Don't Hurt Me!) are already caving in by claiming that her blandness makes her acceptable.

What Ken and I couldn't figure out is this: When 23 Dems rolled over for Roberts, that showed Bush and his goons that they could have freed Charles Manson from prison, nominated him for the O'Connor seat, and have gotten their way. Ken thinks that Miers happened to be the closest person in the room to Dubya when Pickles aroused him from his midday nap, and, since Miers was the first person he saw, he picked her. It makes as much sense as anything else we've seen in these increasingly strange times.

Second Indictment for Tom DeLay!

It seems that the pile of dung Tom DeLay has stepped into has gotten messier with each step he takes. Now he has been directly indicted on a second charge, that of money laundering. Reuters News excerpt:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Texas grand jury has indicted U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Arrogant Shithead) on a charge of money laundering, the second indictment against the Texan who stepped aside last week as the second-ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Delay's office confirmed the indictment on Monday. It released a statement in which DeLay accused Travis County, Texas, District Attorney Ronnie Earle of "prosecutorial abuse" and denied all charges.

"He is trying to pull the legal equivalent of a 'do-over' since he knows very well that the charges he brought against me last week are totally manufactured and illegitimate. This is an abomination of justice," DeLay said (lied).

A Travis County grand jury indicted DeLay last Wednesday on a felony conspiracy charge, and he temporarily gave up his post as House Majority Leader.

Full Story

Let's hope that last sentence is changed soon to read: "was permanently forced to give up his post as House Majority Leader as he was led away from the courtroom, kicking and screaming following the reading of his guilty verdict."

Ken Kanniff and I both see that he needs to go away (to jail, or otherwise), which is interesting since I'm a liberal and Ken is not. But Ken understands that DeLay is a power hungry little bastard who has the brains of a hamster and the morals of a hyena.

Do you get the feeling that the Republican leadership is being swallowed by it's own naked greed? This mess with DeLay, combined with the Frist "blind trust" stock transaction lies (Martha Stewart treatment anyone?) are making the GOP look the way they pretended the Clinton administration was back in the day. The wheel of karma is constantly turning, and right now, it looks as if it is about to roll right over these hollow little monsters.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Baseball's Regular Season Closing Day.

Due to a recent flurry of activity that included watching the Red Sox push to the end the season as part of the playoff picture, more double duty in league bowling (180, 136 and 133 in my substitute role in Ken Kaniff's league) and entertaining Prabhat from Australia (over here for two weeks of training), I've been neglecting this blog. So I'm back with a rundown of the final day of regular season major league baseball's schedule.

In Major League Baseball's Closing Day, there were still some games of interest to be played. First, the Red Sox needed either a win against the New York Yankees OR a Cleveland Indians loss to the Chicago White Sox to clinch the AL Wild Card. They got both by beating the Yankees 10-1, one day after the Yanks clinched the AL East title. The Indians lost 3-1 to inexplicably get swept at home by the AL Central Champion White Sox.

Curt Schilling started for the Sox and pitched six innings of one-run ball to earn his 8th victory of the season. Manny Ramirez and Doug Mirabelli each blasted three-run homers, Manny's 45th, Dougie's 6th, and Bill Mueller added his 10th, a solo shot. The Sox open against the other Sox (White) in Chicago, and will start Matt Clement (13-6, 4.57 ERA) in Game One.

In the National League, the Houston Astros needed either a win over the Chicago Cubs OR a Philadelphia Phillies loss to the Washington Nationals to clinch the NL Wild Card. The Astros got the win, a 6-4 decision behind starter Roy "Harvey" Oswalt's 20th win and closer Brad Lidge's 42nd save, while the Phils beat up the Nats 9-3.

So Round One of the playoffs looks like this:
  • The AL West Champion Angels host the AL East Champion Yankees
  • The AL Central Champion White Sox host the AL Wild Card Red Sox
  • The NL East Champion Braves host the NL Wild Card Astros
  • The NL Central Champion Cardinals host the NL West Champion Padres

Interesting Notes:

The Padres won the NL West with 82 wins against 80 losses for a .506 winning percentage--the lowest winning percentage of any division/league champion in history. The previous low was the .509 mark set by the 82-79 New York Mets in 1973. And for Padres fans who may be cringing at the prospect of facing the 100-62 St. Louis Cardinals in Round One, the 1973 Mets beat the 99-63 Cincinnati Reds in that season's NLCS to advance to the World Series, which they lost to the Oakland A's.

The Red Sox, Yankees and Angels all finished with 95-67 records. The Yankees won the AL East by virtue of their 10-9 record against the Red Sox. The Angels gained home field advantage in Round One due to their 6-4 record against the Yankees.

The first team to win eleven more games is the 2006 World Series Champion! Further developments as they happen...