Saturday, October 14, 2006

(3089/898) You can't win

203) There are really three laws that govern thermodynamics. The first law says you can't create energy; the second says you always squander some. There is a third law that says you can never cool anything to absolute zero - heat from the rest of the universe will leak in. Cynics and physics students put it like this:
  1. You can't win.

  2. You can't break even.

  3. You can't get out of the game.
Dennis Overbye
Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos (1991)

204) No one here gets out alive.
The Doors
(John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Mazarek
and Jim Morrison)
"Five to One" (song) from
"Waiting for the Sun" (lp, 1968)

205) Once when a wealthy student of [theoretical physicist John Wheeler's] back in Princeton had offered to commission the university a sculpture by Henry Moore, Wheeler had visited the sculptor and been impressed by his technique. Moore's workshop, Wheeler observed, was a warehouse of shapes. The shelves were crammed with bones, stones and carvings of different shapes. When Moore was working on a piece, he would select a half a dozen or so objects whose shapes he wanted to incorporate into the sculpture and set them out on a card table where they could work their way into his subconscious. Ever since then, Wheeler has thought of himself similarly, a sculptor trying to mold a theory from a few favorite ideas. He sprinkled his office with what he called "clues", drawing and metaphors that would keep his subconscious churning.
Dennis Overbye
Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos (1991)

206) There is a philosophical principal of simplicity called Occam's razor, which holds that the least complicated answer is always the best one. [Theoretical physicist Michael] Turner had his own version of the principle, which [theoretical physicist David] Schramm quoted in a paper. "Invoking Turner's rule," he wrote, "you can invoke the tooth fairy twice."
Dennis Overbye
Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos (1991)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 829 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/14/2006 09:09:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Blaming Dems for Foleygate

One of the Republicans' push-back strategies to fight off the effects of the Foleygate scandal is to blame it on Democrats. That there's entirely no evidence for Democratic malfeasance is irrelevant to them, as is the fact that these claims come only from the GOP and their political allies on the right -- obviously extremely partisan sources. It's not a meme that's catching on, though, as the following poll result shows.

This is from Fox News (as reported on Polling Report) so, of course, it's framed in a way that's most likely to spread the "blame the Democrats" meme and get the results that the right-wing desires -- for one thing, they ask if Democrats are to blame for the scandal (and its timing) before they ask if Republicans are to blame. As might be expected, such a quasi "push-poll" technique looks like it has some success, as a large percentage of respondents blame Democrats -- but, as it turns out, an even larger percentage blame Republicans:
FOX News/Opinion Dynamics Poll. Oct. 10-11, 2006. N=900 likely voters nationwide. MoE ± 3.

"As you may know, Florida Republican Congressman Mark Foley recently resigned as a result of reports of inappropriate behavior toward teenagers working on Capitol Hill.

"Do you think Democrats in Congress knew about Rep. Foley's inappropriate behavior and intentionally waited until close to the election to release the information to try to damage Republicans?"

                 Yes    No  Unsure   
% % %
10/10-11/06 49 34 18
"Do you think Republicans in Congress knew about Rep. Foley's inappropriate behavior and intentionally failed to take action to try to protect Foley's seat in Congress?"

                 Yes    No  Unsure   
% % %
10/10-11/06 66 21 14

Probably the operative factor in the first in that people generally blame Congress, and anyone connected to it, for not regulating itself as it should, but the operative factor in the second may be that they actually do understand who runs Congress.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/14/2006 04:09:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Looking at presidential approval graphs

I found it interesting that in looking at Charles Franklin's presidential approval graphs from FDR on, the president whose graph looks most similar to Bush's is Truman. It's got a number of upward spikes superimposed on a basic downward trend, just like Bush's, but it gets even lower than Bush's has (so far), down to almost 20 percent.

Strangely, the (partial) graph of Truman's predecsssor (FDR) looks a little like that of Bush's predecessor (Clinton) -- generally high and trending upward.

Truman, of course, was succeeded by a president from another party (Eisenhower), which (obviously) we also hope will happen with Bush as well. In fact, looking at the graphs, whenever a president has a generally downward trending approval rating (Truman, LBJ, Nixon, Carter, Poppy Bush) the next president elected is from the other party (Ike, Nixon, Carter, Clinton), regardless of how deep the downward trend reaches.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/14/2006 03:25:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Friday, October 13, 2006

Divorce rate redux

About a year and a half ago, I put up this post showing a positive correlation between a state's divorce rate and the percentage of the state's popular vote that went for Bush. Now, Thinking Liberal looks at the data from 2005:
Of the top 15 states for divorce rates in 2005, all 15 voted for Bush in 2004. All fifteen.

Of the 12 lowest states for divorce rates, 10 voted for Kerry.

Massachusetts, where gay marriage is allowed (and where, according to Republicans, civilization would fall apart), has the lowest divorce rate in the country.

This cannot be a coincidence.

No, probably not, but I'm not sure what the connection is. Thinking Liberal suggests that Republican greed may be the answer, but, while I suppose it enters into it, that doesn't seem to me to be sufficient to explain the entire effect - social and cultural factors must enter into it as well, I'd think. In the end, it's probably explained by a complex of factors, not a single one.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/13/2006 04:27:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


A non-nuclear dud?

CBS News:
Results from an initial air sampling after North Korea's announced nuclear test showed no evidence of radioactive particles that would be expected from a successful nuclear detonation, a U.S. government intelligence official said Friday.

The test results do not necessarily mean the North Korean blast was not a nuclear explosion, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose the sampling results.


The U.S. government remains uncertain of the nature of the underground explosion Monday trumpeted by North Korea as a nuclear test. The air sampling tends to reinforce earlier doubts about whether the test blast was entirely successful, officials said. Data from seismic sensors indicated the explosion was smaller than expected.

At the White House, press secretary Tony Snow said the Bush administration's analysis of North Korea's claim was still ongoing and is covering a wide range of data in an attempt to reach a conclusion about whether it is valid.

"We still do not have a definitive statement on it," he said. "They still think the analysis that they're doing will take another day or two."

The air sample was taken Tuesday by a specialized aircraft, the WC-135, flying from Kadena air base in Okinawa, Japan. It apparently took the sample over the Sea of Japan, between the Korean mainland and Japan.

In Beijing, a government official said Friday that Chinese monitoring also has found no evidence of airborne radiation from the test-explosion. The official with the State Environmental Protection Administration said China has been monitoring air samples since Monday.

"We have conducted air monitoring and found no radiation in the air over Chinese territory so far," said the official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to publicly release the information. The official declined to explain how the Chinese monitoring was conducted.

The U.S. intelligence official said an initial result from testing of the U.S. air sample became available late this week. He said a final result would be available within days but the initial finding is considered conclusive.

It was not immediately clear whether the WC-135 took additional samples after the Tuesday effort.

If it was a nuclear device, but the yield was a paltry half a kiloton, that would mean that North Korea's nuclear scientists aren't up to snuff and blew their country's initial nuclear test (something that no other country has done before), but if it wasn't nuclear at all, that would mean that NK set off a half a kiloton of coventional explosives, knowing that the magnitude of the blast would be almost immediately apparent, but also that, eventually, its non-nuclear nature would be known as well.


I'm confused as to their motivation to do that -- or is it as simple as trying to attract attention to their repeatedly expressed desire for one-to-one talks with the United States? If they thought that was a way to get Bush to the table, they sadly misunderstand the psychology of this administration, and the nature of American politics as well.


Update: According to a comment to this post on Arms Control Wonk:

If it is a well contained test, only isotopes of noble gases like argon and xenon are likely to surface through barometric gas transport along faults. But, then soil gas sampling in on-site inspection operations alone can detect them. And that not before 50 days after the test for a 1 kT yield. With no access to the site for such sampling, all efforts at radionuclide monitoring from the air amount to fishing expeditions. Simple radiation level measurements will tell nothing. They may serve to give the lay public the impression that something is being done. And possibly to let DPRK believe that their tricks whatever they might be will be found out.

Update (10/14 2:30am): A WaPo report in the Boston Globe now says that radioactivity has been found:

As the United States and Japan pushed for a vote today on a Security Council resolution condemning North Korea's reported nuclear test, US intelligence officials said the government had detected radioactive debris consistent with a nuclear explosion.

The radioactive finding was the only positive result among many tests conducted since North Korea announced a nuclear explosion Monday, the officials said last night.

Environmental samples collected by a US military aircraft detected signs of radiation over the Sea of Japan, possibly confirming North Korea's nuclear test, but intelligence officials stopped short of declaring that an atomic test was conducted. ``The intelligence community continues to analyze the data," said Frederick Jones, spokesman for the National Security Council.

Earlier detection attempts by the United States, China, and South Korea did not pick up any radiation. In addition to collecting more samples, analysts are taking a harder look at seismic data, satellite photos, and communications intercepts.

US intelligence analysts say they believe, though cannot prove, that the North Korean blast was the result of a partial implosion of plutonium at the core of the test device. That would mean some of the plutonium failed to implode. The blast yield was less than a kiloton, far smaller than the 20-to-23-kiloton bomb the US military dropped on Japan 61 years ago.

I guess this puts up back to thinking that the North Koreans probably botched things, and their bomb fizzled. It would be nice to get some confirmation of this from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization's International Monitoring System, which has yet to say anything about it.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, or CTBTO, has about 200 stations worldwide designed for monitoring nuclear tests as part of what it hopes will become the world's most reliable source for such tests. But until the treaty comes into force, the data are not made public, only released to governments and vetted partners.


The test ban treaty, which bans all nuclear explosions, will not enter into force until it has been ratified by 44 states who possess either nuclear power or research reactors. So far 34 have ratified it. Holdouts include the United States, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.

The CTBTO's stations are more extensive than those used by most countries. They monitor seismic events but also underwater data, radioactive particles in the air and radiowaves.

"Within 72 hours we will have full data. Then all this will be available to member states," said Zerbo.

While the North Korean explosion was small, potentially complicating monitoring efforts, sensors in South Korea were likely close enough to categorize it as nuclear, if that is what is was, said Friedrich Steinhaeusler, professor of physics at Salzburg University.

A nuclear blast also gives off a clear signature -- a clear graph of peaks and curves -- that differentiates it from other kinds of shocks, he added.

"We'll have the confirmation soon," he said.

[Sci-Tech Today 10/10]

Without verification coming from a presumably neutral source, we're left to depend on the word of various American officials, on- and off-the-record. Given the politicalization of many aspects of American government under Bush (especially when it has to do with disputes involving science), I'm somewhat less than confident than such people can be relied on, one way or the other. (Such is our relationship to the state after 6 years of right-wing rule.)

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/13/2006 02:23:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Friday Photography: Sunset Sandpiper

click to enlarge

Daryl Samuel (1992)

Location: St. Pete Beach, Florida

Previous: Hands With Softball / On Alcatraz / Cameras / Lighthouse / Photographer At Work / Patio Chairs / Greek Church / Santa Fe Mailboxes / Rocking Horse

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/13/2006 12:45:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Foleygate coverage update

I've continued to follow the press coverage of the Foleygate scandal via counts of Google News stories, and some interesting trends may be developing.

click for most recent chart[click on the graph for the most recent version]

Before the Foley story broke on the 28th, "Republican scandal" was running at about 200 stories, which could be considered the background rate for this meme. Now, despite having dipped down drastically after an immediate peak on the 5th, that meme has seen steady growth, and now outruns the other search terms by over 500 stories, more than twice the previous background rate. That can be interpreted to mean that the media is about twice as apt to refer to Republican scandals as it was before the Foley scandal -- and that they are talking about those scandals without necessarily specifically concentrating on the Foley matter.

Not only that, but the other search terms (Foley/page, Foley/Hastert and Hastert/scandal) seem to be coming together after some diversion, which implies that the conventional take on this story now routinely combines mention of "Foley", "page", "Hastert" and "scandal." This would seem to mean that the identification of Hastert with the Foley scandal is complete, which will make it much harder for him to shuck it off.

The trend on both "Republican scandal" and the Foley/page/Hastert/scandal complex is upwards, with the slope of the former more severe than that of the latter. We'll see in the next few days if these trends continue.

(The previous entry on this subject is here. Also, please note the "Foleygate press coverage" box on the sidebar, which I'll try to keep updated daily.)

Update: Josh Marshall:
In itself, Foleygate isn't going to drive many people's votes. And even fewer will admit that it has in polls. But I think Foley has provided a collective gut-check moment for the country, when perhaps a critical portion of the country has said, Enough. it's not about Foley. It's really about everything that has come before. But it's allowed people to step back, take in the whole picture and say: No, I'm done.

Update (10/14): Today's graph shows the "Republican scandal" meme disconnecting even more thoroughly from the specifics of the Foley/page/Hastert events as it continues to take off on its own.

Update (10/15): Everything's taken a dive, but whether it's just the weekend and will rebound, or a permanent drop...

Update (10/16): Down, down, down.

Update (10/17): With the weekend over, there's some upward movement, but will it be enough?

Update (10/18): The upward movement continues, with "Republican scandal" still running ahead of the other search terms.

Update (10/19): After some upward zigs, today we've got a downward zag.

Update (10/20): Up, down, up, down, up, with "Republican scandal" continuing to lead the way, and signs of some new life in the "Mark Foley/page" meme, perhaps because of the confirmation from a priest of some sort of hanky-panky when Foley was a teenager. Of course, Foley's personal misbehavior isn't the core of the scandal, whether or not it can be explained or excused -- the real problem is how the Republicans handled it, before and after the public revelations. Cover-up then and whitewash now is the core.

Update (10/21): Things once more plunge downward, which may be the beginning of the end for these memes, somewhat short of reaching Election Day. (Unless, of course, the rumors of another Congressperson being involved with a page turn out to be true.) Looking back at 2004, when I tracked the Bush/AWOL stories using this same technique, I found that that story petered out after 17 days, suggesting that, absent additonal revelations, about 2 - 3 weeks might be a "natural" length for such stories to remain alive.

Update (10/22): Dying embers.

Update (10/23): A few more days like this, and I'll be calling this -- and the only hope for reviving the story is if there are, as rumored, new revelations to come out. Unfortunately, those rumors sound a lot like wishful thinking.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/13/2006 12:27:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) The best catch

199) I don't want loyalty. I want loyalty. I want him to kiss my ass in Macy's window at high noon and tell me it smells like roses. I want his pecker in my pocket.
Lyndon Baines Johnson
quoted by David Halberstam in
Best and Brightest (1972) [OM]

200) There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he wa sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

'That's some catch, that Catch-22,' he observed.

'It's the best there is,' Doc Daneeka agreed.
Joseph Heller
Catch-22 (1961)

201) Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include such phenomena as phlegm and tooth-decay in his divine system of creation.
Joseph Heller
Catch-22 (1961)

202) He was a self-made man who owed his lack of success to nobody.
Joseph Heller
Catch-22 (1961)


[OM] - The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (1991)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 830 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/13/2006 12:21:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Thursday, October 12, 2006

(3089/898) Religious views of life

198) Religious Views of Life:
  • Taoism: Shit happens.

  • Confucianism: Confucius says: "Shit happens."

  • Buddhism: If shit happens, it isn't really shit.

  • Zen: What is the sound of shit happening?

  • Hinduism: This shit has happened before.

  • Islam: If shit happens it is the will of Allah.

  • Protestantism: Let shit happen to someone else.

  • Catholicism: If shit happens you deserve it.

  • Judaism: Why does this shit always happen to us?

  • Atheism: I don't believe this shit!

  • Agnosticism: What is this shit?

  • New Age: Love your shit, let it happen!
Popular circular
(c. 1990)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 831 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/12/2006 09:11:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

(3089/898) Seen/unseen

196) Discovery consists of seeing what everyone has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.
Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi
The Scientist Speculates (1962)
Irving Good, ed [OM]

197) I shall never believe that God plays dice with the world.
Albert Einstein
quoted by Philipp Frank in
Einstein, His Life and Times (1947) [B15]
[Note: cf. #861 Hawking.

According to Alice Calaprice in The New Quotable Einstein (2005), the original statement of this idea is:

Quantum mechanics is very worthy of regard. But an inner voice tells me that this is not yet the right track. The theory yields much, but it hardly brings us closer to the Old One's secrets. I, in any case, am convinced that He does not play dice.
Letter to Max Born (12/4/1926)
Born-Einstein Letter (1971)]


[B15] - Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 15th edition (1980)
[OM] - The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (1991)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 832 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/11/2006 10:25:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


It ain't me, babe

Here's Digby (again) writing about the propensity of the Republicans to blame absolutely everything on the Democrats (especially Clinton and Carter) -- even things which any coherent rational observer can see are totally of their own making -- while at other times branding Democrats and liberals as the notorious "Blame America First" gang. The apparent contradiction can be explained:
I suppose they can always fall back on their belief that Democrats aren't "Real Americans" so it's not inconsistent to them that they always blame America first themselves -- and always have. ("Who lost the civil war?" "Who lost China?" "Who lost Vietnam?" "Who lost Iraq?") In fact, their entire worldview is shaped by the idea that the enemy within, the treasonous Americans among them, are at fault for everything that's gone wrong in the world. [...] In fact, I suspect that if Republicans couldn't blame America for every single thing that they believe has gone wrong in the world they would completely lose their moorings.

[Emphasis added -- Ed]
We've seen this so many times, in relation to so many failed policies, some of them (like Iraq) doomed to failure from the very start, that it becomes pathetic that the trope is respected and repeated verbatim by the media without any explication of its long history of right-wing abuse.

Along with projection of their own attributes to others, denial of responsibility for failure has got to be one of the primary characteristics of American right-wing behavior in the past 50 or 60 years.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/11/2006 05:23:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


The error of their ways

Chris Bowers:
The major events that have led to the downfall of Republicans over the past two years--Iraq, Social Security, Foley, Katrina and Terry Schaivo-were not Republican "mistakes." As long as Republicans and the conservative movement maintain power, we can expect to see more reckless and theoretical uses of the military with horrible long-term results. We can expect to see more cover-ups in order to hold onto a single seat in Congress (or maybe even something smaller). We can expect more attempts to destroy Social Security and other cornerstones of successful governance in favor of private companies and large corporations who only care about making money. We can expect more incompetent and unqualified cronies in positions of real power. We can continue to expect a complete lack of accountability for high-ranking administration officials and private companies (unless they are pro-choice, in which case they better brace themselves). We certainly can expect the federal government to care more about whatever the latest fetish of the conservative base may be more than about being properly prepared and responsive in the event of a major national disaster. This is just how the conservative movement operates. These are not mistakes. All of these campaigns were conducted with the same political skill and using the same political machine that Republicans used in order to build their slim 50% + 1 majority.

The difference is that there are now forces much more capable of countering Republican campaigns than in the recent past. [...] Republicans haven't changed or grown less competent at politics. The difference is that they are facing much stiffer competition. Democrats and progressives have earned this lead--it did not fall into our laps.

I think this is correct, and goes along with what I've said in a number of posts, that these scandals and failures and incompetencies aren't each of them unique and unconnected to each other, instead, together they're the direct result of the mode and the means by which the Republicans have chosen to operate during this time that they've totally controlled the Federal government. That all these things should come to fruition (or reach their nadir, whichever way you want to look at it) at about the same time, just before a midterm election, may be fortuitous for the Democrats, but they were all bound to hit bottom at some time or another, and it's worth noting that we've had more than six years for them to fester and grow.

So Chris is right, the mistakes made by the Republicans are not, for the most part, about campaigning (since they excel at the techniques needed to get elected), but in how they chose to approach governance, policymaking and our relationship with the rest of the world. In that sphere, their corruption, incompetence, hackdom, and ideological outrageousness combined to create their current problems.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/11/2006 06:02:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Foleygate news coverage

I thought it might be worthwhile to track the media's coverage of the Foley/Hastert/Predatorgate scandal via a count of Google News stories:

click for most recent chart(From past experience I've noted that Google News story counts take a few days to settle down, so it's best to consider the last three four days' data to be tentative.)

There are distinct signs here that the scandal is might be dying down, and may require new revelations to provide the "legs" needed to have a strong effect on the election -- although some of the drop can be ascribed to a three-day holiday weekend. On the other hand, it's also possible that the scandal has already infiltrated the opinions of the electorate sufficiently that it doesn't matter how long it goes on in the press, and that its effect can be magnified by canny utilization by Democrats in local races.

The good news is that the scandal seems to have strongly attached itself to Republicans in general (the purple line), while Hastert's specific association with it (the green line) may be fading. (This may be because Hastert is not a primary figure in the public's mind.)

[Cross-posted to a MyDD diary]

Update here.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/11/2006 12:54:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

North Korea: updates

  • Nice post on Intel Dump about the security implications of the North Korean test, with this overall conclusion:
    The world is much more dangerous than six years ago - even without 9/11 and the consequences of the "war on terror." We are weaker, the Army and Marines are worn out, with weapons systems sitting idle at depots waiting for repair and understrength, untrained units desparately attempting to train in the basics before another deployment to Iraq.

    The repeated, serial incompetence of the Bush administration's foreign policy, one designed strictly for domestic vote-getting and not designed to make America more secure, is coming home to roost.
  • Global Security has satellite imagery of what might possibly be the test site.

  • Fred Kaplan's 2004 piece for Washington Monthly is the backgrounder you want to read.

  • Glenn Greenwald explains why Bush did nothing about North Korea.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/10/2006 11:25:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) Rhetoric

191) Whether you like it or not history is on our side. We will bury you.
Nikita Krushchev
Speech to Western diplomats at reception in Moscow
(11/18/56) [OM]

192) Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
Winston Churchill
Speech at the Mansion House, London
(11/10/42) [OM]

193) We intend to hold our own. I have not become the King's First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.
Winston Churchill
Speech in London (11/10/42) [OM]

194) I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.
Winston Churchill
First Statement as Prime Minister, House of Commons
(5/13/40) [B15]

195) We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.
Winston Churchill
Speech on Dunkirk, House of Commons
(6/4/40) [OM]


[B15] - Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 15th edition (1980)
[OM] - The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (1991)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 833 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/10/2006 11:23:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Slack not!

Kos looks at the state of the Senate races, and worries:
So those of you counting those chickens need to stop. All of you celebrating the imminent GOP collapse need to take a deep breath. We've got a long ways to go, and nothing in this cycle is in the bag. Nothing.

So no slacking. No premature celebrating. No heightened expectations.

There's a reason I'm pessimistic about our chances this year. It's because no has voted yet and nothing in this biz is ever guaranteed.

I'm guilty as charged here... well, sort of guilty, anyway.

I'm not claiming that this election is in the bag, or that it's assured that we're going to take back either or both houses of Congress. What I've been saying is something a little different, that we've broken the back of the power of the right-wing Republican party, that we've passed the high-water mark of their influence, that in the immediate future they will no longer have the kind of hegemony they've had in the immediate past.

Now, I do feel that this will translate into a transformative election, but that's not my primary claim. Elections do tend to run a little behind social change, and it's the social power and influence of the right which I think is going to go down the tubes, not necessarily their hold on Congress (which will become much more tenuous if nothing else).

Nevertheless and notwithstanding my feelings, Kos' warning is a good one.

Update: Still....

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/10/2006 04:09:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Monday, October 09, 2006

Great name

In the past month I drove back and forth between NYC and Ithaca, NY a number of times, and each time I was quite struck by the sign for Exit 188 off of Interstate 81 in Pennsylvania, which said:


I thought that would be a really great name for an actor of a certain type and a bygone era. (It might be a good choice for the actual name of the Jon Lovitz character "Master Thespian," currently being utilized as a spokesperson for Subway.)

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/09/2006 10:56:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


It's all very psychological

The simplest way to understand Republicans is to use the quick rule of thumb that whatever they criticize Democrats for is what they are doing.

Projection, projection, projection, yep.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/09/2006 09:24:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) Kennedy and King

181) If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
John F. Kennedy
Inaugural address (1/20/61) [B15]

182) Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.
John F. Kennedy
Inaugural address (1/20/61) [B15]

183) Now the trumpet summons us again - not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need - not as a call to battle, though embattled we are - but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, 'rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation' - a struggle against the common enemy of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.
John F. Kennedy
Inaugural address (1/20/61) [B15]

184) And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
John F. Kennedy
Inaugural address (1/20/61) [OM]

185) Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.
John F. Kennedy
Speech to United Nations General Assembly
(9/25/61) [B15]

186) We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Speech in St. Louis (3/22/64) [B15]

187) Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Strength to Love (1963) [CQ]

188) Now I say to you today my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: - 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the people's injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Martin Luther King
Speech at Civil Rights March on Washington
(8/28/63) [OM]

189) Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've been to the mountain top. I won't mind. Like anybody I would like to have a long life. Longevity has its place. But 'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
Martin Luther King
Speech in Memphis (4/3/68)
[the day before King was assassinated] [B15]

190) I believe that this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to earth.
John F. Kennedy
Supplementary State of the Union message to Congress
(5/25/61) [B15]


[B15] - Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 15th edition (1980)
[CQ] - The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations (1993)
[OM] - The Oxford Dictionary of Modern Quotations (1991)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 834 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/09/2006 09:21:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Legacy's legacy

NY Daily News:
Bush has complained, these sources said, that the [Foley/Hastert/Predatorgate] scandal torpedoes furious GOP efforts to reenergize a dispirited political base - especially Christian conservatives.

"There's steam coming out of his ears over the Foley thing," someone who talks to the President regularly said. "The base is starting to get turned off again."

For all the misery, Bush remains defiantly resolute. He will campaign relentlessly in the next month and has told friends he's determined to prove his Democratic and media enemies wrong on Election Day.

Bush is less worried about his standing with history, telling aides that George Washington's legacy is still being debated two centuries later. But he understands that losing one chamber of Congress will cripple his lame duck-weakened final two years.

"He's remarkably optimistic," a Bush insider said. "Like Ronald Reagan, he has a gift for looking beyond the morass in front of him and sticking to his goals, even if it's not popular."

Bush's ability to not see what he doesn't want to see goes far beyond that, of course -- he also has the ability to not see that the morass in front of him is of his own making (Iraq) or that of his party (Foleygate).

But what interested me about this report was Bush's remark about George Washington's legacy still being debated 200 years afterward. It brought back memories of those dorm room bull sessions my second year of college, when Larry Vincentino (who was a history major and presumably should know) insisted that the conventional wisdom was all wrong, and Washington wasn't actually "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen," but instead was first in peace, tied for second in war, and maybe fifth in the hearts of his countryman, while Tyler Babco (a poli-sci guy) insisted that fifth was much too low when you factored in that Martha was pretty well-liked and that sorta rubbed off on George a bit.

Good times.

Bush, of course, is entirely incapable of coming up with an idea like this all on his own, so either there's a right-wing revisionist take on Washington that's making the rounds of Bush's circle, or else some aides (or Laura?) are feeding him nuggets so he won't get all self-involved worrying about what his deservedly shitty historical reputation is going to be. I can't seem to find the revisionist take on Washington's legacy, but perhaps I'm just missing it somewhere -- anyone know what's going on?

Is the whole "Washington's legacy" thing more code to the troops, like "Dred Scott," or does Bush just not know what he's talking about (for the umpteenth time)?

[via Digby]

What, me worry?

Update: Debate about Washington's legacy? News to this guy, and this one. Like a loyal empty-headed moron, Tony Snow repeats the mantra. If there was such a debate, surely the revisionists would have been at pains to mention their thesis in this article on Washington's legacy in Wikipedia, don't ya think?

I think I might have another idea about where this is coming from, somewhat at odds with my previous ones. Bush has been at pains, on several occasions, to say that he's read three books on Washington. I think we can dismiss that as an exaggeration -- perhaps he read one books, or parts of three books, but almost certainly he didn't actually read three books on George Washington. In his reading, Bush was surprised to find out that things he had taken as gospel about Washington -- the cherry tree incident, for instance -- were actually not true, but an early example of American image mongering. Shocked by having his perception of our first president shaken, Bush explained it to himself by inventing an ongoing "debate" about Washington and, with his own historical legacy obviously very much on his mind (or else why would he and his minions tell us so often that he's not at all concerned with it?), that eventually morphed into a lively and ongoing contemporary debate about Washington's legacy, the fact of which would give him solace in those rare moments when he allows himself to see a glint of the truth about the mess he's made of the world in just 6 years.

That's my theory, and I'm stickin' to it.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/09/2006 09:00:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE



There was a magnitude 4.2 seismic event in North Korea today, in a place with no history of seismicity in the past 17 years, and not rated as being an area of seismic hazard. And note the depth of the event: 0.0 km -- on the surface!

Seems that the North Koreans tested a nuclear device!

I'm so glad that the attention of our leaders and the bulk of our military assests are tied up with the war in Iraq and the upcoming confrontation with Iran (over the possibility that they might get nuclear weapons, if I recall correctly), leaving very little in the way of stick to use in negotiations with North Korea (one of the "axis of evil," if memory serves) -- if the Bush Administration had any interest in controlling and containing dangerous countries instead of knocking them off.

Update: Hey, I know ... Let's make a list of all of the Bush/Cheney administration's successes! That ought to be fun!

Let's see:
  • Afghanistan - Job unfininshed, slipping back into narco-warlordism

  • Osama bin Laden - Uncaptured!

  • War in Iraq - Unjustified and unwinnable

  • North Korea - Undeterred!

  • Europe and the rest of the West - Unfriendly

  • Darfur - Genocide rages, nothing done

  • The rest of Africa - Nothing done there, either

  • Global warming - Denied and ignored

  • Katrina - New Orleans sacrificed on the altar of incompetence

I forgot how enervating and discouraging this game quickly becomes. The real question is: how can any rational and reasoning adult who's not a bona fide client of the Bush Administration or an ideological soulmate uninterested in results in the real world remain a supporter of these imbecilic and incompetent dolts?

Update: Josh Marshall (specific link not working):

North Korea's nuclear program has been a problem for US presidents going back to Reagan, and the conflict between North and South has been a key issue for US presidents going back to Truman. As recently as 1994, the US came far closer to war with North Korea than most Americans realize.

President Clinton eventually concluded a complicated and multipart agreement in which the North Koreans would suspend their production of plutonium in exchange for fuel oil, help building light water nuclear reactors (the kind that don't help making bombs) and a vague promise of diplomatic normalization.

President Bush came to office believing that Clinton's policy amounted to appeasement. Force and strength were the way to deal with North Korea, not a mix of force, diplomacy and aide. And with that premise, President Bush went about scuttling the 1994 agreement, using evidence that the North Koreans were pursuing uranium enrichment (another path to the bomb) as the final straw.

Remember the guiding policy of the early Bush years: Clinton did it=Bad, Bush=Not whatever Clinton did.

All diplomatic niceties aside, President Bush's idea was that the North Koreans would respond better to threats than Clinton's mix of carrots and sticks.

Then in the winter of 2002-3, the US prepared the invade Iraq, the North called Bush's bluff. And the president folded. Abjectly, utterly, even hilariously if the consequences weren't so grave and vast.

Threats are a potent force if you're willing to follow through on them. But he wasn't. The plutonium production plant, which had been shuttered since 1994, got unshuttered. And the bomb that exploded tonight was, if I understand this correctly, almost certainly the product of that plutonium uncorked almost four years ago.

So the President talked a good game, the North Koreans called his bluff and he folded. And since then, for all intents and purposes, and all the atmospherics to the contrary, he and his administration have done essentially nothing.


Talking tough is great if you can make it stick and back it up; it is always and necessarily cleaner and less compromising than sitting down and dealing with bad actors. Talking tough and then folding your cards doesn't just show weakness it invites contempt. And that is what we have here.

The Bush-Cheney policy on North Korea was always what Fareed Zakaria once aptly called "a policy of cheap rhetoric and cheap shots." It failed. And after it failed President Bush couldn't come to grips with that failure and change course. He bounced irresolutely between the Powell and Cheney lines and basically ignored the whole problem hoping either that the problem would go away, that China would solve it for us and most of all that no one would notice.

Do you notice now?

More updates here.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/09/2006 02:01:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Digby explains morality

For those who seem to be incapable of getting it:
Why is this stuff so hard for the black and white morality crowd? Consensual sex between adults --- nobody's business. Marrying member of the same sex --- nobody's business. Choking mistress --- wrong. Sexually preying on 16 year-olds --- wrong.

Maybe we could make up some flash cards so the moralizing rightwing could carry them around and consult them whenever they get confused.

Wouldn't help, since the ideological blinders these folks wear wouldn't let them see the cards, or understand the writing if they could see them.

Wingnut: Look at all the funny marks, they're so pretty! Gee, I wonder if they might mean something?

Fan mail from some flounder?

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/08/2006 10:49:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Dear GOP voters

Chester Scoville writes an open letter to ordinary Republican voters:
Hope is a beautiful thing. But disappointed hope is the worst thing in the world, and the Republicans have gravely disappointed you. It turns out that they are not what they promised; in the end, they are just another group of politicians, no better than any other and in fact worse than most. The law and order party cannot prevent crime; the decency party turns out to have child molesters within its ranks; the church party turns out to oppose not just dangerous ideas but true and useful ones; the security party has made the world less secure; the ownership party left you out of its circle of owners. Everything they have done has taken power away from you in some way, and consolidated it in Washington and in corporate boardrooms, so that a few people you have never met now have extraordinary power over what you can see, what you can buy, where you can work, what you can read, and how you can live. Much of this happened so gradually that you barely noticed the stages of it. But at last, they have laid the groundwork for the loss of the most basic civil freedom: the loss of habeas corpus, the loss of the sharp dividing line between a free society and an unfree society.


If you, as a longstanding Republican voter, have come to the conclusion that the Republican Party does not deserve your vote this time, then I congratulate you on your powers of observation and reason. But before extending this hand of respect, I wish you to consider your part in all of this. I know that for years now you have been blaming many things on the liberals, but they were not responsible for all that has happened in the past five years. I am speaking now not of the Democratic Party per se, but of millions of your fellow citizens -- the much-maligned "liberals" who oppose the Republicans out of principle and (usually) support the Democrats out of pragmatism.

Liberals have their flaws and their failures, of course. But they did not rush into a war in Iraq for dishonest reasons; they did not then bungle that war; they did not cover up Mark Foley's predations against teenage boys, or destroy your schools with an avalanche of unscientific nonsense. They did not poison the political atmosphere with a barrage of death threats against their opponents, or destroy the country's reputation by torturing people and tearing up old alliances; they did not make you a peon to your creditors and try to loot your grandmother's only source of retirement income. They did not undermine the very foundations of freedom and due process, and pave the ground for a truly monarchical presidency and in effect a repeal of the American Revolution.

No, the Republican Party whom liberals oppose did all of that. And by supporting the Republican Party, you did all of that. If you wish to know who is responsible for these troubles that now face us, you must name yourself; only then will you understand the power that you actually have, and how little you need the "protection" of the fakers and phonies who have been promising it to you for so long. You can take matters into your own hands. You can, with your fellow citizens, pool your resources and strength to make things right, and force your government -- the government that you own, after all -- to serve you, rather than feeling that you must serve it. Breaking the Republican monopoly on power is an essential first step, but there is much to be done after that.

As you played your part in the damage, so you may play your part in the rebuilding -- but only when you realize that your part is and has always been your own. A mythical being called the "liberal elite" did not get you into this mess, nor will it get you out of it. At stake, in the long run, is not exchanging one set of masters for another, but a chance to be truly free. I hope that you will take that chance, not just in November, but in the long term, and that you will use that remarkable dedication to rebuild a just, open, and free society for yourself, your children, and your fellow citizens.

Amen. Please read the entire post.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/08/2006 10:49:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Why an "October Surprise" might not work

Obviously with the wind blowing in our direction at the moment, and mounting evidence that there's at least a chance of the Democrats taking back one or both houses, people, having learned their lesson well over the past 6 years, are very concerned about the possibility of an "October Surprise" coming from the Bush/Cheney administration and the fevered mind of Karl Rove. The prime suspect for the Surprise is some kind of military attack on Iran, but I really have to wonder if in the current atmosphere such a move would produce the results Rove is looking for.

In the first place, a glance at Professor Pollkatz's Bush approval raw data graph shows that every successive bounce in Bush's ratings has been smaller and shallower and of lesser duration than the last, an indication that any kind of suprise move meant to influence the election has got to come almost immediately before Voting Day, and not several weeks before, to insure that the effect (if there is any) doesn't wear off too soon. That means we're not talking about an "October Surpise" as much as a "Late-October/Early-November Suprise."

The problem with that, from Rove's point of view, is that the Foley/Hastert Predatorgate scandal has turned on the media's wolfpack behavior, which means that the press is unlikely to overlook such an obvious attempt to sway the election and accept it as merely a justified if regrettably necessary move. Questions will be asked, and heels will be nipped at, the overall effect of which is likely to be a severely reduced bounce.

Obviously, if the Iranians cooperate and make some kind of bone-head move that can be used as a justification for a military response, the equation is very different, but even then, I have to think that the general public disillusionment with the war in Iraq -- not only the fact of it, but the incompetent way it's been run by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld -- will carry over to any attack on Iran, which is unlikely to be accepted as a necessity forced on us by circumstance. Because of that, the "rally-around-the-flag" effect will be severely reduced.

Finally, I really have to wonder whether, given our over-commitment in Iraq, if our military is really in a position to be able to carry out such an attack on a moment's notice and, given their apparent disenchantment with their civilian overlords, if the brass will actually acquiesce to such an obviously partisan political attack on the say-so of Rumsfeld and Cheney.

I wouldn't say that it was prudent to stop worrying about a Rovian Surprise, but I do think it might be OK not to obsess about it quite so much, and ratchet the (quite understandable) paranoia down a few stops.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/08/2006 10:07:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


(3089/898) The way it is

178) [Public school teachers] were on a mission. They had the perfect philosophy: you WILL learn this. If you came in there and said. 'I'm from a dysfunctional family and a single parent household,' they would say, 'Boy, I'm going to ask you again. What is 8 times 8?'

When I was coming up, there no excuses except your house burned down and there was a murder in the family. Eight times eight was going to be 64 whether your family was dysfunctional or not. It's something you needed to know.
Stanley Crouch
New York Times (9/29/93)

179) Very often the [abused] woman would tell me [her lawyer] that she could not separate from her husband for economic reasons. She would point out that his income was much greater than hers. I would respond by saying that we should review her expenses and see if that was true. In more than 90 percent of all cases, we found that although the man's income was significantly higher than the woman's, his expenses were greater than the amount of money he brought into the family.
Norma R. Frank
letter to the editor,
Natural History magazine (7/93)

180) To the practicing scientist, scientific method is a road to truth, yet to the public, science can seem like magic. Scientists are often sure of their ground but cannot explain why to a skeptical outsider. This can come across as arrogance, and much of the bad press that science receives derives from this cultural gulf.

For example, I am often asked why I find it comparatively easy to believe in evaporating black holes and invisible cosmic matter, but not in straight-forward things like ghosts and flying saucers that ordinary people apparently see all the time. The reason is not easy to explain to someone unfamiliar with the scientific process because the nature of scientific evidence and the relationship between theory and experiment can be very subtle.
Paul Davies
"A Window into Science"
Natural History magazine (7/93)

Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began).

As of today, there are 835 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/08/2006 05:18:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Learning from Yankee-bashing

Progressive and Democratic political theorists, full of ideas for how the Democratic party can recapture the votes they need to become once again the dominant party, should really take a pause right now and look around the blogosphere and the mainstream media at the general response to the Yankees being eliminated from the baseball playoffs. Except from die-hard Yankee fans like myself, what they'll see is an awful lot of outright hatred for the Yankees, some of which can be explained by the team's exemplary past winning record, and some by the people's natural inclination to root against the overdog, but a good portion of which is simply raw unchecked emotion.

And that is exactly the kind of mindset that the Democrats are up against in trying to turn the party's fortunes around. There are people in this country who hate Democrats and liberals in precisely the same way that people hate the Yankees, and no amount of pandering or re-framing or appealing to religion is going to undo that in numbers sufficient to make any difference. Those people are probably beyond our ability to influence, and every dollar spent on trying to shift their attitudes is a dollar that's not being spent elsewhere where it might do more good.

The best that can be hoped of these Democrat-haters is that something happens which causes them to be discouraged and decide not to participate at all, and that is precisely why the Foley/Hastert scandal is such a danger to the fortunes of the Republican party, because it will suppress GOP voter turnout and neutralize their get out the vote efforts.

Although it happened naturally, without specific planning by the Dems, and is a consequence of the very nature of the corrupt, incompetent and ideologically outrageous Republican party, Foley/Hastert will turn out to prove that Lee Atwater and Karl Rove were correct all along, just as we feared they were, and all the Democratic and progressive efforts to find a positive pathway toward regeneration are as nothing before the power of a good scandal (and a sex scandal at that).

So, in their way, Markos and Dean have also been right, since their focus has been on putting in place the infrastructure which can take advantage of something like the public's response to Predatorgate. Without that, we can't leverage what the Republicans have handed us and turn it into victory -- but without the scandal itself, the infrastructure would not have been enough (at least for this election).

[Cross-posted to a Daily Kos diary]

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/08/2006 01:32:00 PM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


History lesson

It's quite amazing the way history repeats itself sometimes. It's a little known historical fact that the Zimmerman Telegram -- in which Germany promised Mexico the restoration of former Mexican territory in the southwest United States if Mexico would intervene in World War I on Germany's side and attack the U.S. -- wasn't really a serious document at all, it was simply a silly prank dreamt up by the mischievious Zimmerman for the amusement of his good buddy the German Ambassador to Mexico. Things got out of hand when the prank telegram fell into the hands of enemy operatives and all the wrong conclusions were drawn by the world.
Arthur Zimmerman,
Foreign Secretary of the German Empire,
in a typically zany mood

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/08/2006 04:37:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


NYBB status report

It was the Mets I'd been worried about, especially when they went on a losing jag right after clinching the National League East, and then (of course) when they lost both Pedro and El Duque just before the start of the post-season. The Yankees' pitching was of concern -- as it had been all season -- and Randy Johnson's back problems didn't inspire a lot of confidence, but with that All Star Line-Up, "Murderers Row Plus Cano", they seemed like a shoo-in.

Real life turned out to be a lot different. The Yankees didn't get the pitching, but they didn't get the hitting either, while the Mets reverted to mid-season form and swept their series. I'm glad to be a New Yorker who enjoys and follows and roots for both teams (and I guess I'm in a very small way grateful that a potential conflict of interest has been removed from the scene, and I can expend all my energy on rooting for the Mets), and I'm thankful to have had twice as much chance of getting one of my teams into the World Series, but I'm still a little sad for the Yankees, who had a pretty damn good season and pulled through in spite of adversity which might have sunk some other teams. (Having a bunch of bucks to spend obviously doesn't hurt either.)

I continue to think that Joe Torre is the very best manager for the Yankees to shephard them through 162 games with his Zen-like calmness, but that he also doesn't really understand that managing in the post-season is an entirely different thing which requires new strategies and tactics -- and because of that, he's in danger of becoming the American League Bobby Cox, who has a similar problem. I'm not an advocate of firing Torre, but I do wish someone could make him understand that different situations require doing different things, and you just can't make the exact same moves in the playoffs you used all year and expect to win.

Be that as it may, Willie Randolph's Mets have prevailed, and move on to face the Cards (probably) or the Padres, and that's where my full attention now goes. The King is dead, long live the King.

Go Reyes! Go Carlos and Carlos! Go David!

Update: Larry Dobrow has what I think is a pretty fair take on the Joe Torre problem, focusing on his bad bullpen moves (which I've been complaining about for years), and his mis-handling of A-Rod. But Dobrow doesn't quite get to what I think is the heart of the problem, which is that Torre's famed stoicness is both the reason why the Yankees under his management have been able to win their division so many years in succession and, as well, the root of his inability to move like a cat during the post-season and respond quickly to rapidly changing circumstances in a short do-or-die series. Torre's used to sitting back and letting his horses do the work, while shielding them from outside pressure, but in the post-season the pressure is all from inside the game and there's really managing to be done.

What the Yankees need is a manager with a split personality who can instantly change from impeturbable Buddah to lightning-quick wizard at the drop of the post-season flag. I don't think Lou Pinella's that guy -- he may be able to manage the post-season, but a Yankee team under his helm will never get there.

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/08/2006 02:27:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


O media, O mores

[T]he conventions of he said, she said journalism aren't designed to deal with the tactics of modern information warfare.

There's nothing new about the underlying thought here -- I've been complaining for years that reporters seems totally unaware that the conventions of contemporary reporting, which is supposedly objective, non-partisan and unbiased, are being used against them in very clever media jujitsu moves -- but I appreciated Billmon's succinct statement of the situation and, especially, the framing of the circumstance as "modern information warfare. That seems to me precisely correct and, as long as it continues, is the death warrant for "objective" journalism. (In a media world where Fox News is a major accepted player, objectivity as a standard to be lived up to is inevitably going to become a dead issue.)

Ed Fitzgerald | 10/08/2006 02:27:00 AM | | | | GO: TOP OF HOME PAGE


Ed Fitzgerald

Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right,
Here I am...
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Martin van Creveld - The Transformation of War

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Clarence Thomas
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Donald Trump
Richard Viguere
Donald Wildmon
Paul Wolfowitz
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
John Yoo
All the fine sites I've
guest-blogged for:

Be sure to visit them all!!
recent listening
Smash Mouth - Summer Girl

Poulenc - Piano Music

Pop Ambient 2007
John Adams
Laurie Anderson
Aphex Twin
Isaac Asimov
Fred Astaire
J.G. Ballard
The Beatles
Busby Berkeley
John Cage
Raymond Chandler
Arthur C. Clarke
Elvis Costello
Richard Dawkins
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Kevin Drum
Brian Eno
Firesign Theatre
Eliot Gelwan
William Gibson
Philip Glass
David Gordon
Stephen Jay Gould
Dashiell Hammett
"The Harder They Come"
Robert Heinlein
Joseph Heller
Frank Herbert
Douglas Hofstadter
Bill James
Gene Kelly
Stanley Kubrick
Jefferson Airplane
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
John McPhee
Harry Partch
Michael C. Penta
Monty Python
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Prisoner"
"The Red Shoes"
Steve Reich
Terry Riley
Oliver Sacks
Erik Satie
"Singin' in the Rain"
Stephen Sondheim
The Specials
Morton Subotnick
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Tangerine Dream
Hunter S. Thompson
J.R.R. Tolkien
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
Kurt Vonnegut
08/31/2003 - 09/07/2003
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09/21/2003 - 09/28/2003
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11/18/2007 - 11/25/2007
11/25/2007 - 12/02/2007
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03/23/2008 - 03/30/2008
03/30/2008 - 04/06/2008
06/01/2008 - 06/08/2008
09/21/2008 - 09/28/2008

search websearch unfutz

Bullshit, trolling, unthinking knee-jerk dogmatism and the drivel of idiots will be ruthlessly deleted and the posters banned.

Entertaining, interesting, intelligent, informed and informative comments will always be welcome, even when I disagree with them.

I am the sole judge of which of these qualities pertains.

All e-mail received is subject to being published on unfutz without identifying names or addresses.

I correct typos and other simple errors of grammar, syntax, style and presentation in my posts after the fact without necessarily posting notification of the change.

Substantive textual changes, especially reversals or major corrections, will be noted in an "Update" or a footnote.

Also, illustrations may be added to entries after their initial publication.
the story so far
unfutz: toiling in almost complete obscurity for almost 1500 days
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the proud unfutz guarantee
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.

If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.

(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)

Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.

original content
© 2003-2008
Ed Fitzgerald


take all you want
but credit all you take.

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