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!

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