An ongoing discussion of politics, law, pop culture, and fine draperies.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

And the Stream goes on ...

File under either "WTF?" or "Those Crazy Malaysians …"

Wow! Here's the kind of thing that makes it harder on all of the rest of us. I guess our word isn't good enough any more. Like the guy who ruins your gesture of a Valentine's Day bouquet of flowers by filling his lover's room with roses. Kinda. Then again, this perhaps goes beyond that analogy. Miracles of surgery aside, this is just stupid, and reminds me of certain mid 1980s Sam Kinison sketches … "Going away for the weekend with the guys? Well, I guess you won't be needing [pop!] this, then will you?" Ouch.

In other news ...

long regional nightmare is over. The resolution isn't what most of us pined for, but at least we don't need to see Roger Clemens' fat head on local sports reports any longer.

Globe Blogger Eric Wilbur
makes many good points, including the prediction that we'll now begin hearing Dontrell Willis' name once every 33 seconds until we reach the trading deadline. But, Wilbur most reassuringly writes that, when someone is in trouble, he needs to first look within himself:

Meanwhile, in Triple-A, the Sox already possess a pair of promising 22-year-old pitchers: Lefty Jonathan Lester, who has rebounded from a difficult spring and is now 3-4 with a 2.98 ERA for Pawtucket, and Craig Hansen, the one-time closer of the future who has started three games with the PawSox. In his last outing over the weekend, Hansen allowed just one hit over four innings.

Yes. Phenom Watch a go-go! Two stoppers in the wings, and tonight we find out why the brass opted to call-up Sea-Dog David Pauley to fill David Wells' place in the rotation. Oh, what intrigue have we? Pauley last pitched for Portland on Saturday, pitching well before the Sea Dogs rolled-over for the Rock Cats (Minor League baseball fever …. Catch It!). The Press Herald observed of Pauley's performance:

Although Pauley wound up with the loss, he did so in commanding fashion. Fifteen of his first 16 pitches were strikes, and 64 of 93 overall. He opened with a strike against 24 of the 30 batters he faced.

Five times he set down the Rock Cats in order, and for the first time in 37 Double-A starts, he pitched through the eighth inning. His line: six hits, three earned runs, four strikeouts, one walk (only after three fouls on a full count) and 14 groundouts.

Sounds good … Meanwhile, Lester gets ready for his impending call-up, despite a mediocre outing last time out. Apparently, all wasn't bad:
Lester, the top prospect in the Boston farm system, had difficulty finding the strike zone last night (three walks, three strikeouts) and worked just one 1-2-3 inning, but showed composure in the fourth when he worked himself out of a bases-loaded jam.

Former Red Sox Jose Offerman (4-for-5, 2 RBI, 2 runs) led off the inning with a single to right-center, then Michael Tucker followed with a single to left. Second baseman Jeff Keppinger drew a one-out walk to load the bases. But Lester struck out designated hitter Tagg Bozied and got catcher Joe Hietpas to line out to first to end the inning.

Craig Hansen apparently continues to pitch well as he prepares for whatever duty the big club asks him to perform in the second half. This despite his apparent concern over occasional lapses in control. As the Pro Jo reported:
When Hansen handed the ball over to Hertzler, he had given up just one hit and struck out three over his four innings of work. Throwing consistently in the mid-90s with more than half of his 70 pitches going for strikes -- including a third-strike slider to Anderson Hernandez that literally spun him around -- the 22-year-old right-hander's "stuff," in Johnson's estimation, was "electric."

But what Hansen couldn't get out of his mind after the game was the four walks he allowed.

"That's one thing I hate is just walking people," he said. "That's one of my pet peeves right there."

Electric!!! That's what we want. No comfort. Keep 'em hungry; no satisfaction is permitted.

At least the Clemens story is now official dead. It got so tiring, so quickly. I think it was best explained in this
strong parody of Mr. Gammons' role in the foolishness. Excuse the Myspace link, and please avoid any page views of the sassy vixens and such. They're all 45 year old guys … not that I'd know or anything. Wait … what … I may have typed too much …

The Herald's Tony Masserotti tried to
see the glass as half full in spite of the evidence, writing last night that rumors about Roger Clemens' agreement in principle to pitch in Houston this year were unfounded. Sure! The Red Sox only remaining hope to that point was:
Even before the season began, sources familiar with Clemens’ thinking said he would watch the teams closely because he had an interest in pitching only for a club with a legitimate chance at winning the World Series.

Yeah. Doubtful. Even if the Red Sox had a legitimate shot, Clemens and the Hendricks Brothers never had any inclination to put him in anything other than an Astros uniform this season. All of the gestures indicating Clemens would return to either Boston or New York provided nothing more than leverage for Hendricks A & B to bilk the Houston club out of ever more dollars.

Mazz, playing some kind of Jekyll & Hyde thing, this morning yielded that Clemens wasn't coming to Boston:
Clemens? Please. Don’t hold your breath. Agent Randy Hendricks and the Astros denied a report yesterday that Houston had agreed to terms with Clemens on a new contract, but we all know how this game works. When it comes to announcing deals, teams and agents want to make certain the ink is so dry it cannot smudge. Rain Man himself couldn’t be more anal retentive.

Ironically, for each additional penny wrenched from an already cash-strapped club, Clemens made it less likely that the 'stros will have any shot to make the playoffs, much less the World Series. In a division where the Reds are already doing it with smoke and mirrors and the Cardinals are likely to get serious at any second, there is little room for Houston to squeak its way into the mix – Rocket or no Rocket.

This whole story is, in the words of Angry L.A. Greg, shambolic. And yet, the news types keep pumping out the stories, and perpetuate the sham. Sad, sad!

In Other, Other News …

Some politicin' types are getting ahead of themselves, noting the strange confabulation that might arise if
Nancy Pelosi becomes Speaker of the House. Frankly, I suspect she will perform well in the post, hammering party members into submission and giving no quarter to the newly marginalized Republican minority. This New Republic's "The Plank" blog appears skeptical about a report in The Hillthat many Red State Democratic candidates are standing-by Pelosi despite fears that her loosely-liberal tongue might scare off magenta-tinged moderates. NY Daily News columnist Michael Goodwin is outright hostile to her continuing party leadership, noting, "Every time she opens her mouth, she threatens to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory."

Wonkette ponders the impact of denied trips to the plastic surgeon on the same votin' types. Heavens! As she notes, "With Democrats like these, who needs Republicans?"

And Mr. President, you're
no Harry Truman!.

We Can't Get Enough of This Guy!

Frank Rich hammered on Al v. Hillary with his
classic flair (subscription required), on Sunday. Rich recognized that Gore is emerging as a man of conviction – what formerly endeared liberals to Hillary – just as Hillary's new fatal flaw is becoming apparent:
Mrs. Clinton does look like a weak candidate -- not so much because of her marriage, her gender or her liberalism, but because of her eagerness to fudge her stands on anything and everything to appeal to any and all potential voters. Where once she inspired passions pro and con, now she often induces apathy.

However, the good vittles in Rich's column focus neither on Hillary's weaknesses nor Al's global warming hub-bub, but on Al's overall political viability. Rich is far from convinced, or even flattering to Gore's RiverDance with a 2008 candidacy (at one point likening "An Inconvenient Truth" interchangeably as a Benetton ad and a "Live with Regis and Kelly" taping). But somewhere in here lies some compliment from New York's biggest harper:
… there are at least two strong arguments in favor of Mr. Gore. He was way ahead of the Washington curve, not just on greenhouse gases but on another issue far more pressing than Mrs. Clinton's spirited crusade to stamp out flag burning: Iraq.

An anti-Hussein hawk who was among the rare Senate Democrats to vote for the first gulf war, Mr. Gore forecast the disasters lying in wait for the second when he spoke out at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco on Sept. 23, 2002. He saw that the administration was jumping ''from one unfinished task to another'' and risked letting Afghanistan destabilize and Osama bin Laden flee. He saw that the White House was recklessly putting politics over policy by hurrying a Congressional war resolution before the midterm elections (and before securing international support). Most important, he noticed then that the administration had ''not said much of anything'' about ''what would follow regime change.'' He imagined how ''chaos in the aftermath of a military victory in Iraq could easily pose a far greater danger to the United States than we presently face from Saddam.''

Take it as a compliment … even if it's delivered with the back of Frank's hand. And for the record, Frank, I'll similarly take this bit as a personal tribute:
He may not be able to pull off the Nixon-style comeback of some bloggers' fantasies, but by pounding away on his best issues, he could at the very least play the role of an Adlai Stevenson or Wendell Wilkie, patriotically goading the national debate onto higher ground.

Well, that's something to shoot for, eh? Forget about it. And why? Because Gore's opponent won't have the pop culture adoration that Ike bore in 1952 and 1956. Nor does any Republican sit in as comfortable seat as FDR sat in 1940, i.e. popularly supported war president.

But that's nitpicking, isn't it? I guess it's only necessary for me to suggest that Frank Rich is too skeptical and that Gore's vindication will arrive after his
movie comes in a close second to MI: 3 from now until mid-July. That will be the test.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Well, Which Are You, Mister?!? (or Miz?!?)

Slate published this little dandy some time back in connection with this art show in Texas. The author takes the lead of Friedrich Nietzsche by dividing popular art sensibilities into Apollonian and Dionysian art. As the Slate author notes, "In dividing all art into two categories, Nietzsche rendered the service of coming up with one of the great intellectual parlor games of all time. Critics love to devise variations for their fields," adding:
In American literature, Phillip Rahv devised the classic division into two categories in a famous essay titled "Paleface and Redskin." American writers were either Europeanized, literary wimps like Henry James, or celebrants of the native animalistic spirits, like Mark Twain. The Apollonian line begins with Washington Irving, the Dionysian with James Fenimore Cooper. In the Apollo-Matisse-Armani-Beatles column we find Emily Dickinson. Opposite her, in the Dionysius-Picasso-Versace-Stones column, is Walt Whitman. Nathaniel Hawthorne is a Matisse. Herman Melville is a Picasso. In the 20th century, we come to F. Scott Fitzgerald (Matisse) vs. Ernest Hemingway (Picasso) and John Updike (Matisse) vs. Norman Mailer, who wrote a biography of Picasso.

The obvious next question is, "How else can we divide ourselves into nice little categories for sport?" Slate suggests a few to ponder, but also opens the question up to we stinking masses for comment.

I'm not really interested in Slate's little reindeer games, but it's worth pondering:

Tom Wolfe or Hunter S. Thompson?

Willem De Kooning or Jackson Pollock?

The Replacements or Husker Du?

The Clash or The Sex Pistols?

Pearl Jam or Nirvana?

Keith Haring or J.C. Basquiat?

David Broder or E.J. Dionne

Paul Krugman or Maureen Dowd?

Maureen Dowd or Naomi Klein?

Noam Chomsky or Jello Biafra?

Dan Shaughnessy or Gerry Callahan?

Bill Belichick or Bill Parcells?

Mike Krzyzewski or Bobby Knight?

Condoleeza Rice or Madeline Albright? (well, not perfect, but …)

Tom Allen or Tom Andrews?

Don Zimmer or John McNamara?

Roger Clemens or Pedro Martinez?

U2 or REM (not clear which is which, but …)

ARod or Jeter?

Kenny Rogers or Conway Twitty?

Tom Brady or Peyton Manning?

Stefan Edberg or Boris Becker?

Oasis or Blur or Stone Roses?

Phil Mickelson or John Daly?

Phil Ivey or Phil Hellmuth?

Axel Rose or Slash?

Izzy Straddlin' or Duff McKaggen?

Bill Nemitz or Al Diamon?

Sushi or Sashimi?

Bjorn Borg or John McEnroe?

Mimi or Nicole or Katie?

George Will or David Brooks?



I think you hear me knockin' …
Feel free to pick favorites and/or suggest your own additions

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Moderates Coming Around on Global Warming and "Who is John McCain?"

The global warming film "An Inconvenient Truth" "opens nationwide today, raising the political stakes for politicians and commentators who oppose regulation of greenhouse gases.

The film star and former veep Al Gore took the brazen step on Sunday of inviting President Bush to watch the global warming film, "An Inconvenient Truth" with him. Salon writer Andrew O'Hehir cuts to the chase. Newsweek's Howard Fineman snipes and whines as usual.

Meanwhile, Gore's denials continue. Yeah, yeah, yeah …

Today's New York Times provided a venue for a major intellectual coup of sorts. Legal commentator (and Tuesday Morning QB) Gregg Easterbrook wrote today that "the science has changed from ambiguous to near-unanimous," adding that while "[a]s an environmental commentator, I have a long record of opposing alarmism … [but am] now switching sides regarding global warming, from skeptic to convert." Easterbrook shoots a few dead horses, i.e. ripping the Kyoto Protocol as "cumbersome" and easily ignored, but he curiously recommends a cap-and-trade program whereby greenhouse gas emissions are commodified and traded among polluters:
But a system of tradable greenhouse permits, similar to those for acid rain,
would create a profit incentive. Engineers and entrepreneurs would turn to the
problem. Someone might even invent something cheap that would spread to the
poorer countries, preventing reductions here from being swamped elsewhere.
Unlikely? Right now reformulated gasoline and the low-cost catalytic converter,
invented here to contain smog, are becoming common in developing nations.

In the words of Chuck D., "Can I get a witness?"

Ironically, the Kyoto Process already includes an emissions-trading program thanks in large part to the Clinton Administration's negotiating team who demanded such compliance mechanisms as a condition for American support. Of course, when President Bush declared the Kyoto process dead and removed the U.S. from the bargaining table, the U.S. lost a voice in proactively shaping global greenhouse gas mitigation technology. Ten-plus years later, we are further, not closer to taking any meaningful steps toward minimizing the effects of global warming on human history. Yet, those who applauded Bush's Kyoto withdrawal are now lamenting that the Protocol's provisions didn't take effect soon enough. Well, which way is it, boys? I suppose "better late than never" applies, but I don't have to like it.

McCain teaser

My man Ted from South Bend sent me this link today, describing the gyrations being performed by Sen. John McCain as he limbers up for the big race in 2008.

I need to play coy here, because I have been thinking about McCain in a new light – inspired in part by a discussion I had with Speedway Tim and Timeshare John last week. Tim, a devoted administrative state liberal, is among the legions of Democrats who are seriously considering a McCain vote if he gets the G.O.P. nod. This got me to thinking about the kind of president McCain would be in Stephen Skowronek's matrix of Presidential history. I touched on some of the Skowronek thesis here, but only in the context of the politics of reconstruction and articulation.

Fleshing this out will require quite a bit of writing, re-writing, and linking, which, sufficed to say is more than I can offer today. However, I will tease thee by suggesting that, if elected President in 2008, McCain will struggle to maintain any mandate he brings to the White House. Look for attacks the right wing will bring upon him for failing the Republican, New Federalist and social conservative causes. Meanwhile, the center-left will feel betrayed for their assent to his leadership because he will fail to deliver the policy initiatives that they expected would flow from his incumbency. In short, John McCain will become Jimmy Carter.

Consider what Wikipedia reports that "Lawrence Shoup noted in his 1980 book The Carter Presidency And Beyond:
What Carter had that his opponents did not was the acceptance and support of
elite sectors of the mass communications media. It was their favorable coverage
of Carter and his campaign that gave him an edge, propelling him rocket-like to
the top of the opinion polls. This helped Carter win key primary election
victories, enabling him to rise from an obscure public figure to President-elect
in the short space of 9 months.

In 1974, Jimmy Carter coyly presented himself for the first time to the political media/elite as a national figure at the Law Day presentation at University of Georgia. His speech dwarfed those given by keynote invitee Sen. Ted Kennedy (then the heir apparent to the 1976 nomination) and former Sec. of State Dean Rusk. Hunter S. Thompson attended the event to cover Kennedy, but left that day so inspired by Carter that he helped catapult the Governor to national attention, as Shoup described. The article, "Jimmy Carter and the Great Leap of Faith" appeared in Rolling Stone and is included in Thompson's collection, The Great Shark Hunt. Carter described the inherent workability of the existing system, i.e. the New Deal/Great Society administrative state, but said that its success required a re-focus on the folks served, rather than the servants. He recalled "War and Peace," in which Tolstoy:

didn't write the book about Napoleon or the Czar of Russia or even the generals,
except in a rare occasion. He wrote it about the students and the housewives and
the barbers and the farmers and the privates in the army. And the point of the book is that the course of human events, even the greatest historical events, are not determined by the leaders of a nation or a state, like Presidents or governors or senators. They are controlled by the combined wisdom and courage
and commitment and discernment and unselfishness and compassion and love and
idealism of the common ordinary people. If that was true in the case of Russia where they had a czar or France where they had an emperor, how much more true is it in our own case where the Constitution charges us with a direct responsibility for determining what our government is and ought to be?

Well, I've read parts of the embarrassing transcripts, and I've seen the proud statement of a former attorney general, who protected his boss,
and now brags on the fact that he tiptoed through a mine field and came out
"clean." I can't imagine somebody like Thomas Jefferson tiptoeing through a mine
field on the technicalities of the law, and then bragging about being clean afterwards.

I think our people demand more than that. I believe that everyone in this room who is in a position of responsibility as a preserver of the law in its purest form ought to remember the oath that Thomas Jefferson and others took when they practically signed their own death warrant, writing the Declaration of Independence - to preserve justice and equity and freedom and fairness, they pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

Tinkering with a corrupted political system. That was Carter's message.

Sound familiar? Think about McCain. He lauds Reagan's vision left and right, but disagrees with how it has evolved under the watch of the religious conservatives and the neo-conservatives who control foreign policy.

Many more familiarities will be revealed in our next installment. This I promise, covenant and vow …

Monday, May 22, 2006

One more thing ...

The New York Post's Phil Mushnick hates everything!

I've longed to type that sentence into my own blogspace – homage to The Boston Sports Guy of old, now ESPN's Bill Simmons. If you have no idea of that which I speak, see here for an example – actually, one of the most quoted/referred-to examples – of his work, "The 13 Levels of Losing." The column charts the many evil ways in which a loss can affect a viewer, such as:

Level XI: The Alpha Dog

Definition: It might have been a devastating loss, but at least you
could take solace that a superior player made the difference in the end ...
unfortunately, he wasn't playing for your team ... you feel more helpless here
than anything ... for further reference, see any of MJ's games in the Finals
against Utah ('97 and '98).

Personal Memory: Flipping things
around, remember Game 5 of the '99 ALDS (Red Sox-Indians), when Pedro Martinez
came out of the bullpen and slammed the door on Cleveland's season? Six
innings of no-hit ball with an injured shoulder? Nothing you could do
about that. Pedro came jogging in from the bullpen like Clint Eastwood ...
and Indians fans knew they were finished. See you next year.

Level IX: The Sudden Death

Definition: Is there another fan experience quite like overtime
hockey, when every slap shot, breakaway and centering pass might spell doom, and
losing feels 10 times worse than winning feels good (if that makes sense)? ...
there's only one mitigating factor: when OT periods start piling up and
you lose the capacity to care anymore; invariably you start rooting for the game
to just end, just so you don't suffer a heart attack ... bonus points because
one of these happened last night: Colorado's game-winning OT goal against

Personal memory: Game 1, Bruins-Oilers, 1990
Stanley Cup Finals, the tail end of my sophomore year in college, when everyone
from school trekked down to Cape Cod for seven days of drinking and general
mayhem. On this particular night, my buddy Sully and I skipped out of a
party to watch the third period at a Hyannis bar. Just the third period,
right? It ended up being the first OT. And the second OT. And the
third OT. Imagine the most nerve-wracking moment of your life, then
imagine it ballooning to three-plus hours. That's playoff hockey.

Anyway, by the time Edmonton's Petr Klima drove a stake into our
hearts around 1 a.m., we were drunk, drained, jittery and semi-suicidal. I
don't even really remember what happened after that. I think we ended up
walking down Route 6 and hitchhiking or something. Who knows? We
didn't even know what to do. If I bumped into Sully 50 years from now,
"Glen Wesley missing the net in the second OT" would be the first thing we
brought up. I can't even talk about this anymore.

Level VI:
The Full-Fledged Butt-Kicking
Definition: Sometimes you can tell right away
when it isn't your team's day ... and that's the worst part, not just the
epiphany but everything that follows -- every botched play, every turnover,
every instance where someone on your team quits, every "deer in the headlights"
look, every time an announcer says, "They can't get anything going," every shot
of the opponents celebrating, every time you look at the score and think to
yourself, "Well, if we score here and force a turnover, maybe we'll get some
momentum," but you know it's not going to happen, because you're already 30
points down ... you just want it to end, and it won't end ... but you can't look
away ... it's the sports fan's equivalent to a three-hour torture

Personal memory: January '86. Pats-Bears. Super Bowl XX.
Ugh. I was so nervous before that game, I watched it by myself, surrounded by
all kinds of junk food, various magazines and newspapers and everything else you
could imagine, like I was headed for Sports Fan War. And within 30 minutes, it
was over. Watching Eason fold like an accordion, watching Grogan standing
helplessly on the sidelines, watching the Bears dancing and jiving, watching the
Pats roll over and die, watching the Bears whooping it up, and worst of all,
watching the freaking Fridge score a touchdown ... good God

Level II: The Stomach Punch

Definition: Now we've moved into rarefied territory, any
roller-coaster game that ends with A) an opponent making a pivotal (sometimes
improbable) play, or B) one of your guys failing in the clutch ... usually ends
with fans filing out after the game in stunned disbelief, if they can even move
at all ... always haunting, sometimes scarring ... there are degrees to the
Stomach Punch Game, depending on the situation ... for instance, Sunday's
Kings-Lakers game and Monday's Celts-Nets game featured agonizing endings, but
they weren't nearly as agonizing as Cleveland's Earnest Byner fumbling against
Denver when he was about two yards and 0.2 seconds away from sending the Browns to the Super Bowl).

Incidentally, all of this got me to digging. I know my boy Josh, of the Buffalo Grove Joshes, hates Simmons and he likely isn't the only one. But I found a few decent pieces by those who wax nostalgic like me about the old Digital City days. I found this guy who appears to have revived the old BSG links model and properly attributes BSG as the inspiration.

I wish AOL's Digital City Boston had some kind of a shrine to the old BSG site that I could link. Alas, in the words of John Lennon, "The dream is over …" Oh BSG, how I miss your daily links of old and bore of your NBA columns of today. At least your ESPN site gives us tidbits, like this to remind us of the goofiness. One more time – I implore ESPN to buy the rights to the early columns from AOL and post them somewhere …

Homage to the Indy 500, or Driving Really Fast in a Circle, et al

I'm no Gene Simmons, but I figure the time is nigh to get out front and talk about my re-burgeoning love for the Indy 500 – the only event where cars drive a whole bunch of circles in a row that is worth watching. (That's not the official slogan in case you're wondering …)

If you wish to by-pass the Indy 500 stuff, scroll down as much more follows …

So, I stumbled across this old NPR bit about the Indy 500 and Jim Nabors' annual performance of "Back Home Again in Indiana." Robert Siegel's intro seems wrong, even if I am a bit less than objective, as I can attest that Hoosiers love this song. Thankfully, the commentator confirms this.

So, Jim Nabors will sing this year as well. But who knows how many years it will be until Gene Simmons himself dons the make-up and ends up crooning about the moon along the Wabash.

As far as this year's race goes, the storylines seem pretty familiar, if only with a few twists. Robin Miller, a former Indy Star columnist now writing for Speed TV dot com, smirkily describes a few of these.

Sure, it's still all Danica Patrick, all the time. She has become quite a hot endorsement commodity off the track but still might shock people by actually doing well in the race itself.

The Andrettis are pretending that Michael's focus is on helping out his son rather than laying claim to the title that eluded him much the same way it eluded his father. Oh yeah, and a Foyt per usual stands to complicate things for the Andrettis.

On the race itself, the Indianapolis Star sugar coats things a bit in its role as P.R. man, denying the perception held by everyone more than 50 miles beyond I-465 – that the race is dwindling in popularity due to its 1996 split from CART and the savvy of its stock car cousins.

Quick primer for those who don't know what "post-split" means: the 500 used to be the only race America watched. Then some racers started to disagree with Tony George, owner of the Speedway and son of race founder Tony Hulman, about car specifications, royalties, and some other stuff. So, the disagreers split and formed CART with all of the best racers, while George kept the 500 and formed the Indy Racing League with all of the second tier guys. That was 1996. As the Star yields, "It has been muttered for years that the Indianapolis 500 isn't the same, that the glory days are long gone."

ESPN's John Heylar writes that "Sponsors have also left open-wheel cars for stock cars in droves – turned off by the open warfare in open-wheel racing and turned on by the burgeoning NASCAR fan base." The Speed TV dot com guy says that the day is nigh and any more delay in a re-merger could be fatal, Danica-mania be damned!

Anywho … that's that, and I guess we'll see what happens.

Filed under "Wicked Weird" …

The L.A. werewolf sends me this. Here is a really unsettling story about the state of Iraq's pop cultural cognizance in the wake of the war. I guess it's worth recognizing that, at least they have an excuse, unlike France in its fixations.

In Maine …

The Press Herald provides a nice feature on the spring skiing allure of Tuckerman's Ravine on New England's highest peak, Mount Washington. This remains in my imagination among one of those "to do" excursions I hope to cross off before I am a drooling retiree in some nursing home.

First District (Maine) Republican hopeful David Emeryhopes thatthis visit by a certain prominent party-mate proves fruitful in his aim to unseat incumbent Governor John Baldacci. Portland Phoenix writer Lance Tapley says Emery has a decent shot in a field of three, due to his name recognition and moderate social politics. This Colby College professor thinks that Emery's focus on cutting spending will help him in his bid. The Courier Gazette publishes one of those local boy done good type pieces about Emery, Rockland native.

Not to be ignored by the public, the Greens got their convention on, re-nominating their occasional standard bearer, Pat LaMarche.

The Lewiston Sun Journal reports that Baldacci is beginning to line up the endorsements. As does the northward looking Portsmouth Herald. Polling indicates that Baldacci is holding strong despite the chorus of criticism that suggested some weakness in his campaign. At least one commentator suggests that Baldacci has seen the worst and should coast to re-election.

And in a not-so-shocking line of argument, Maine's syndicated uber-columnist Al Diamon writes about Maine's troubles in light of his other favorite topic – beer. Actually, his piece raises a huge question about the most ubiquitous and ongoing political argument in the state – are Maine's heavy taxes bad for its economy? He notes, in comparison with dreary analyses of Maine's economy issued by the conservative Maine Heritage Policy Center, which he writes could "could find bad news in free beer,":
The Corporation for Enterprise Development, a Washington-based nonprofit, had a
less-skewed take on the state's economic situation. Earlier this year, the
group's annual survey of business-growth potential concluded, “Maine has
demonstrated that it is a good place to live, but an unremarkable place to
work.” Maybe free beer would help.

So it is, so it shall ever be …

Outside of the political realm, Camden children's book author and friend of a friend Chris Van Dusen was honored over the weekend for his amazing talents with the pen.

The rest of the world…

Chief Justice John Roberts is beginning to sound like former Chief Justice Earl Warren. He suggests that the High Court could deflate the arguments of judiciary rippers by issuing more unanimous opinions, rather than 5-4 opinions, demonstrating a less partisan view of the Constitution. Why not? It worked in Brown v. Board of Education.

My Intro to International Relations professor at U.S.M., Mahmud Faksh, writes that the relationship between the U.S. and the Arab world has reached a lamentable point. As Professor Faksh notes, asks, and answers:
Indeed, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, America was held in high esteem as
a benevolent power unlike Britain, France or czarist Russia. And the American
missionaries-turned-educators in the region were admired as the pioneers in the
realm of general civic and higher education. Liberal America, the "shining city
on a hill," was true to form, as encountered by the Arabs in the classrooms of
the colleges the missionaries had founded. … What went wrong with this promising
state of affairs? What brought about the transformation of America's historical
march in the Arab world from a benevolent liberal democrat to an overbearing
imperial dem- ocrat?

Maine Sunday Telegram's guy in D.C., Bart Jansen notes that The Senate is in a sorry state and shows no signs of improving. You don't say?

Washington Post's Sebastian Mallaby is ready for the global warming PR showdown and predicts an Al Gore upset of big petroleum. The Post's media dude Howard Kurtz considers Gore's reemergence. He points to this interesting Campaign 2008 piece by the always lovely Dick Morris appearing in The Hill, which includes this now stale bit of historical comparison:
The idea that he was an incompetent candidate has been replaced in Democratic
iconography by the idea that he was cheated out of the presidency. The hiatus
has healed his reputation with the base in much the same way that the negative
rap on Nixon for losing in 1960 was ameliorated by the Goldwater wipeout of

I'm telling you, folks. Gore will win the '08 Democratic nomination and is at least even odds to win the presidency. There. I said it.

From the World of Sports …

A Waterville-based writer suggests a few nicknames for Barry Bonds. Bob Ryan doesn't think it's funny and throws the asterisk card.

Boston Globe's Stan Grossfeld issues another interesting feature piece, this time writing about a popular positive thinking psychologist who works with several well known baseball player clients.

Wily Mo Pena is apparently working hard to improve his game, and some are noticing results.

In other news, David Wells is pissed at the media again. Wells' star again appears to be rising due to the continuing failure of the present fifth starter to demonstrate that he deserves the job. Especially, as the Yankees prepare for a Fenway visit.

The Washington Post's Thomas Boswell thinks that the Nationals are less likely to dish Alfonso Soriano back to the Yankees than many have been projecting. Boswell posits that the newly positioned leftfielder may also be accidentally positioning himself as the franchise's poster child, and thus impossible to trade without suffering the team's image in the fans' eyes.

The Patriots are looking at a couple of veterans to help out at LB for 2006-07. University of Minnesota's o-coordinator leaked to a local paper that Bill Belichick appears to be giddy about number one draft choice and former Gopher Lawrence Maroney:

"(Belichick) said it's been a long time since he's had a running back accelerate
through the hole like Maroney," Browning said Thursday. "He also said Laurence
has fit in well with the other players."

Color me similarly giddy ...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wal-Marts for Thomastonians

Well, the folks to the south
approved a 150,000 square foot size cap on commercial retail sites and defeated a competing measure for a 70,000 square foot cap. This effectively means a new (perhaps not so) Super Wal Mart and a new Lowe's hardware store will grace the section of Route One between Rockland and Thomaston. All the more reason to make good friends with Old County Road. Quick numbers:

• about 1,060 of the town's 1,865 registered voters came out for the special referendum (53%);
• Voters rejected the 70,000 square foot cap by a 632-430 margin.
• Voters approved the 150,000 square foot cap by 623-436 margin.

While the town has given the thumbs-up to the Lowe's developer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers still
has the final say-so due to wetlands concerns at the site. The Corps is soliciting public comments which, while it's free to ignore in its decision, it must issue a written explanation for every comment it receives. Get your pens to paper, folks! As the Bangor Daily News provides, information about the process is available from Permit Project Manager Peter Tischbein by calling 623-8367. Comments should be mailed to

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
New England District, Maine Project Office
Attn: Peter Tischbein
675 Western Ave., No. 3,
Manchester, ME 04351.


Another bit of feedback from the Nixon-Gore discussion from a history-minded friend on mine from the Hoosier State:

"This comparison seems apt to me, although it's hard for this comparison to be meaningful unless Gore were to come back to win in 08. But the comparison is striking, both in terms of the men themselves as well as the times. Nixon retires to let Johnson muck up a foreign conflict only to come back and win. Gore does the same (maybe?). The problem is that the Republican ranks were not as packed with potential winners like the Dems are this year.

Hillary would be a huge mistake for the Dems, though. Too polarizing. I think someone like Warner could be the best bet. When are the Dems going to actually stand for something (I loved when Dean said on Meet the Press that we don't need to stand for anything yet, since we don't control the Congress or White House--huh??)?"

All good points. Hillary is the candidate most likely to generate an "Anti-" movement lined up against her. In the wake of her destruction, the question will then become, Tack left or tack right? Warner or Bayh will mean a move to the center/right, whereas Gore represents the compromise. In the 1968 contest, this played out with Nelson Rockerfeller playing the "move to the center/left" Republican, Ronald Reagan playing the Hillary/potentially polarizing force (not a perfect analogy, but work with me here …), and Nixon representing the compromise. Again, I think we need to wait until August or September to gauge how middle America responds to "An Inconvenient Truth."


Nice win last night,
despite Schilling's continuing tendency toward giving up 4-6 runs per start. The Globe's Gordon Edes is willing to accept the excuses. The Herald's Karen Guregian is not afraid to send up a flare.

Let the record show that I called
this and have the emails, if not the blog entries to prove it. It's just too logical. Craig Hansen was being primed to become the closer of the future, often closing out starts made by future ace Jonathan Papelbon. But, as the Herald's Michael Silverman notes:

With Hansen getting stretched out, it gives the Sox more flexibility in terms of how he can help the team, perhaps as soon as this season. If he is not pigeon-holed as a reliever, the club can explore the option of using him as a starter. With the rotation after Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett and Tim Wakefield inconsistent, and with disabled David Wells no sure bet to return to full health, Hansen could be an intriguing addition to the starting staff.

At least for the sake of continuity this season, any Hansen ascension to the big league club must be into a starter's role if not some kind of middle relief/set-up role. As he continues to register 1-2-3 9th inning saves, Papelbon has successfully demonstrated that he and nobody else should be closing games for the Red Sox in 2006. No question! If Hansen demonstrates that he can work effectively as a starter, perhaps this formula might extend beyond 2006. Especially with lefty
Jon Lester also waiting in the wings. I say, "Do it, Do it!"

Meanwhile, New York prepares for the subway series and
Pedro looks forward to pitching against, among others, his former teammate and "good dude" Johnny Damon.

Filed under, "curious," we have this NY Daily News piece
discussing how Joe D. self-critiqued his performance in boxing Marilyn Monroe.


Trust me you,
this is likely to become a helpful list of considerations for anyone in Maine who has a basement, self included. I was up until 12:30 a.m. last night staring at the swirls of standing water preparing to enter my beloved submersible pump.

charts say Americans don't trust the Republicans anymore. In the words of Greg S., "Yeeeeeeeee!!!" E.J. Dionne likely never trusted Karl Rove, he recognizes that one W. deemed "the architect" still has his finger on the pulse – and that it doesn't read very well for his chief client:

The problem is not that Rove was off message but that the country has gone off Bush's message, and shows no sign of coming back. Everything Rove said yesterday shows that the smartest man at Bush's side knows it.

Robert Kuttner of

American Prospect
doesn't trust Hillary Clinton for "cozying up to the right."

Slate's Dahlia Lithwick
trusts that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor is going to enjoy the freedom that her retirement provides, and suggests based on recent public comments that we are, too:

O'Connor had me at hello. I have been railing against the sneering, partisan political attacks on the judiciary for a long time, and I'm delighted that she's ready to unload on the cretins who have been taking a brickbat to judges since the Terry Schiavo mess.

Former ENRON chief Kenneth Lay is forced to trust
12 angry men and women, whose judgment hopefully the rest of us can trust instead.
In what has become a very entertaining and informative, outside of the popular discourse, tet-a-tete, Judge Richard Posner says why he doesn't trust
overpaid CEOs.

Trust these writers and media types with their
suggested readings if you want to be inspired to travel. America's greatest hero at the moment, Stephen Colbert contributes: " Lord of the Rings." I always wanted to travel to Middle Earth. And now wherever I go, I am always on the lookout for Hobbits."

And to wrap-up, I present this is an old one, but this lawyerin' type blogger doesn't trust Ray Parker Jr. to honestly convey his themes in conventional song lyric format, and proposes
an alternative format.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Stream of Consciousness ventures through the weekend's news ….

Maine News:

On the development front, two plans were revealed over the weekend. The state is looking to establish a 180 mile
trails system from Moosehead Lake through the Grafton Notch area and the Mahoosuc Range, including new huts, for cross country skiers and hikers. And it looks like new college will soon be in our midst, locating on the former MBNA site at Point Lookout in Northport.

On the dark side of the property law hippity snippity, the Village Soup reports that a
South Thomaston beach is the latest to be the subject of a lawsuit between a landowner and those who assert rights to access the beach.

Meanwhile, the world of politics was replete with praise and attacks over the weekend. The Press Herald, seemingly inspired by the word of Arguably So,
calls out Sen. Collins for her shambolic and hypocritical vote in favor of this year's Bush tax cut. Meanwhile, this L.A. Times columnist pithily agrees that the tax cuts are a farce. The Portland Press Herald applauds new DEP commissioner David Littell for the new International Paper water pollution permits.

The rains may be
washing out all of Southern Maine, but more pressingly, the impact on the Red Sox is killing my Roto baseball prospects.

Phenom Watch ...

Speaking of the Red Sox, the Herald's Karen Guregian provides some fodder for our consideration.

Oh yeah, and New England bid adieu to Doug Flutie on Monday: once, twice, third times a Patriot.

Elsewhere in the world …

are pissed at the GOP. The Washington Post says it more plainly.

NY Times' Adam Nagourney looks forward and
the Dems should take a dive in '06. The Boston Globe looks into the past and reports that
Bob Shrum sucks. At exactly the same time, on the other side of town, the Herald's perpetually grumpy Margery Eagan says Hillary sucks.

Another left-coaster suggests that
Nancy Pelosi presents the only chance for political salvation to Karl Rove and the rest of the S.S.

Thinking obtusely, this commentary notes that noted early 20th Century historian
Richard Hofstadter predicted everything nasty that the Bush Administration is perpetrating. Speaking of, old hatemonger and former House Rep. Bob Barr, growls that domestic spying is bad:

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports on a study that says the nation's
rich-poor growing, and nobody seems to be noticing. Meanwhile, everybody overseas appears to be uncomfortable that McDonald's wants them to Super Size It!.

On the lighter side …

Eddie Vedder
plays his best Harry Carey. Don’t tell the Mariners.

LA Times magazine likens screenwriter
Charlie Kaufmann to F. Scott Fitzgerald and an array of other literary giants, and somehow convinces me along the way. MALKOVICH!!!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

What REALLY is the Best Work of American Fiction in the Last 25 Years?

The New York Times today posted a teaser on its website for an upcoming story that it purports will identify "The Best Work of American Fiction in the Last 25 Years."

I will neither offer my tit-for-tat reaction to each of the nominees nor spoil what work it deemed Winner (mostly because I haven't read it). However, I am pleased to note that two of the titles I immediately thought of when I saw the headline were recognized by the voters as "runners-up".

Yet, when I look at the list, I wonder this is a legitimately representative sample of America's bookworms. While I agree with the list wholeheartedly, I wonder if it's fair to say that Don DeLillo and Philip Roth wrote nine of the 27 best books published since 1980. After all, each have societies worshipping their work.

The study includes this essay explaining who voted and why they were selected. Seems fair enough, but it runs counter to a very pointed article I read in the Atlantic Monthly several years back, "A Reader's Manifesto," by B.R. Myers.

Apparently, the furor inspired M. Myers enough to publish the thesis in long form. Just note the title and take my word for it – he/she hates DeLillo, Cormac McCarthy, David Guterson, Annie Proulx, and (I would venture to suggest) Roth, too. Also within Myers' sights is Toni Morrison, who you likely now know wrote the best book in the past 25 years. As the Amazon listing relays from Publishers Weekly:

Myers reports in this audacious broadside upon current American literary writing that, "at the 1999 National Book Awards ceremony, Oprah Winfrey told of calling Toni Morrison to say she had to puzzle repeatedly over many of the latter's sentences. Morrison's reply was, `That, my dear, is called reading.' "But Myers proclaims that it is in fact called "bad writing."

The article caused such a furor that it even has a Wikipedia entry.

Many critics did to Myers' Atlantic piece what Myers did to DeLillo, et al, e.g. this Salon writer. Here, a Slate writer tried to meet Myers half-way but couldn't do it. It took a Canadian to pull that off:

While DeLillo is capable of writing prose and dialogue as bad as anyone's (see
my review of The Body Artist), it seems to me that Myers is missing a lot in not
getting the humour of White Noise. … Here is another example of a passage where the author is trying to "bore us into laughing":

"What do you want to do?" she said.
"Whatever you want to do?"
"I want to do whatever’s best for you?"
"What’s best for me is to please you," he said.
"I want to make you happy, Jack."
"I’m happy when I’m pleasing you."
"I just want to do what you want to do."
"I want to do whatever’s best for you."

Now, for the record, I don’t like this very much either. But I like even less what Myers has to say about it:

"To anyone who calls that excruciating, DeLillo would probably respond, 'That’s my whole point! This is communication in Consumerland!' Note also how the exchange loses its logic halfway through; perhaps it was only written to be skimmed anyway. It’s always the very novelists who scorn realism as the slavish recording of reality who believe that an incoherent world dictates incoherent writing."

Note how this critique loses its logic halfway through. Why should the fact that this dialogue is illogical or incoherent make it unrealistic? In descriptive writing, as
opposed to dialogue, this might follow, but these are supposed to be people
talking. Most of what gets said in real life is just sound - it’s meant "to be
skimmed anyway." As Northrop Frye was fond of pointing out, none of us speak in prose. We speak in a childish, rhythmic and irrational prattle. In this regard,
DeLillo reads more like the "slavish recording of reality" than "incoherent
writing." And, finally, why should any of this be interpreted as evidence of
DeLillo’s belief in an "incoherent world"?

The dialogue in a book cannot be taken as expressing or representing the author’s vision of reality. Myers is on shaky ground here. He even cautions himself at one point, saying "it’s always risky to identify a novelist’s thoughts with his characters’." But this doesn’t go far enough. It’s always wrong to identify a novelist’s thoughts with his characters, and that’s an end of it. Something about the nature of fiction itself is getting away from Myers here.

It's worth noting that Myers has among his/her fans one Nicholas Sparks, who here blesses us with his formula for gauging good writing. That ought to tell you something. Notably, Mr. Sparks includes neither Roth nor DeLillo on his list of "Must Reads," while jabbing writers who "do get wordy at times, but hey, no one's perfect …" Except, presumably, he who blessed us with this piece for the ages.

I guess the only point I can make from all of this is that I am a little conflicted. I feel a little pleased that those the New York Times deemed worthy of rating the best books of the recent past includes stuff I liked and loved. However, I'm not certain that the reason I liked these books bears any relation to abstract notions of "best in 25 years." I'm pretty sure B.R. Myers, if nothing else, shares that belief.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Nixon-Gore, more and more ...

I received some great feedback on the Gore-Nixon discussion that pre-dated its posting on Arguably So. Not knowing how else to account for these thoughts, I’ll just let ‘er fly, with the requisite excerpting and initialing to protect the innocent …


C suggested that I check out, a blog by Gore backer Bob Somersby. He wonders what it will take for Gore to overcome the media bashing he suffered in ’00, i.e. “Love Story, inventing the internet, Earth Tones, etc.)

He balked at the Nixon comparison, if only because of the stigma attached to the Nixon name: “Nixon was really such a prick that I don’t care to equate Gore with him, even if its just political positioning or whatever.....” He added that “both guys sort of had a falling out with their presidents” which hurt them in their first respective runs. He added that he read part of the Ambrose biography but set it aside after gauging it too sympathetic.

My response:

I'll check out the howler.

I haven't found the Ambrose bio to be too sympathetic, but then, I'm only reading volume 2 -- years 1961-1971. The intro chapter basically says he was a brilliant, yet soulless and ammoral policymaker – that he was a paranoid who had no friends and whose shortcomings aren't attributable to anyone but himself. If Ambrose is sympathetic to him in any way, it's in regard to his political abilities -- triangulation, use of public opinion, and use of his extensive overall intelligence.

Comparing Gore-Clinton and Nixon-Eisenhower – the only apparent difference is that Nixon thirsted for Ike's validation, where it was Clinton who thirsted for Gore's (in the end). In the Gore (’00) and Nixon (’60) elections, Nixon begged for Ike's endorsement and only received it very late, after all other GOPs were out (Goldwater, Reagan, and Rockefeller), whereas Clinton couldn't get Gore to ask for his endorsement or any other form of support. Completely reversed.

K responded that “Gore is done,” due to all of the ridicule he’s suffered since his defeat. He thinks that the Republicans will either tap McCain or Giuliani. He noted that “McCain has two disadvantages: age and the fact that the Republican base loathes him. Giuliani is a bit too socially liberal for the base, as well as having a somewhat messy personal life,” but added that Giuliani’s “near iconic status drawing from the way he handled 911 in NYC can overcome that.” One possibility he considered is a Giuliani-Rice ticket: “Rice would add foreign policy gravitas, as well as a leg up on the black and female (vs. Hillary) vote.”

My response:

Regarding Gore, I think many Dems in 1966 were equally skeptical about Nixon. It’s worth noting that after losing to Kennedy in 1960, Nixon lost the race for Governor in 1962 to Pat Brown. Nixon’s rebirth was huge and occurred largely in spite of the kind of ridicule that Gore suffers today.

Incidentally, consider the following comparisons between the GOP in 2008 and the Dems in 1968. Rice surely would bring foreign policy gravitas as the heir apparent of the Bush Administration ... much like Hubert Humphrey did in 1968. But more on that in a minute.

McCain suffers from age disadvantage AND distrust from the extreme in his party. He also represents the guy who challenged the current GOP president in the last inter-party struggle as "the guy who is really a member of the other party". Bobby Kennedy -- the guy whose positions weren't terribly different than the President’s, but whose style was much more public-friendly and who bore the public image of being much more centric.

Giuliani suffers from distrust from the extreme in his party and the geography of being from the wrong part of the country (in the eye of the party’s geographic center). In 1968, the same role was held by George Wallace. He represented the "old Democratic party," i.e. the Solid South and all of its Dixiecrat inclinations -- states' rights with the economic pump-priming elements of the New Deal. Wallace represented those who were marginalized by the New Frontier/Great Society types who pushed through civil rights and strengthening of welfare. I'm not saying Giuliani is going to split off and form his own party after being rebuffed from within. But, it's worth noting that Giuliani represents the "old Rockefeller wing" of the Republican Party, i.e. northeastern pro-business, market-first Republicans, who have been marginalized by the Evangelical, Neo-Con types.

The Giuliani wing, which is probably ambivalent about faith-based initiatives and openly hostile to tax cuts enacted without any corresponding spending cuts, might feel marginalized enough going into ’08 that they make waves like Wallace’s southern Democrats did in ’68. So, who becomes Hubert Humphrey, i.e. the heir apparent to the outgoing President, who can be expected to stay the course? Is that Condi Rice? If so, it's fair to say she'll spend all of her campaign time articulating the reason why the unpopular regime should continue. And her articulation should, as Hubert Humphrey's did, yield about 45 % of the vote -- the folks who won't vote Democrat regardless of who the Republicans choose. I read more and more lately that George H.W. and his elder son are both injecting Jeb Bush’s name into the fold as a possible heir apparent.

More importantly, who becomes GOP version of Eugene McCarthy, i.e. the guy from the extreme wing who says that Condi Rice isn't really the heir apparent to the Bush legacy OR that the Bush legacy isn't the pure vision of Republican-ism it should have be. Who is the guy from the right who will hold this banner? The Abramhoff scandal eliminated a few of the likelies, so it's a tough question to answer quickly. Bill Frist? Not likely – Senators don't win.

My darkhorse as the “McCarthy figure” is Haley Barbour – Governor from Mississippi. He shined in the wake of Katrina as the example of how to manage in the midst of an emergency, especially in light of Dem. Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s failings in neighboring Louisiana. If not a true believer, he is certainly the appearance of a true believer – Southerner, Clinton-hater, former RNC head, Christian, Moral absolutist, etc.

Again, then there's always Jeb – who might appear to be more of the RFK type, if it weren't for his obvious kinship with the current regime. Either way, political memories are long and he's not going to play nicely with McCain (or McCain's possible proxy, Chuck Hagel) in any primary fight.

We’ll need to watch over the summer and into the fall/winter as Gore begins to look less of the figure of ridicule from within the Democratic circles. To get the nomination, that's all he needs. And while all true believers on the Republican side will continue to ridicule Gore, the same can be said of all true believers on the Democratic side regarding Nixon in 1968. And those folks voted for Humphrey. The silent majority, who voted in part for Kennedy in 1960 and in large part for Johnson in 1964 didn't ridicule Nixon – they just didn't vote for him. Unfortunately for Humphrey, the large chunk of "the silent majority" who sided with LBJ in 1964 went for Nixon in 1968. And the same ones are up for grabs again in 2008.

G said he had read much about Gore, his prospects, and the impact weather, disease, and storms a la global warming will play out. He added that “I haven't seen h the leaders of the rest of the world, as he's actually friends with most of them, and has real experience in foreign policy.”

My response:

If I'm going to continue to tease out the Nixon comparison, I don't think you will see "that" Gore until later in 2007.

Nixon's global warming was LBJ's Vietnam policy – especially between 1964-66. He argued that LBJ was soft on communism and was frittering away the USA's dominant position in world politics, yielding on the domino theory, etc. The main difference was that LBJ adopted all of Nixon's policy suggestions – i.e. escalation – and only differed in matters of degree.

But I think that Nixon's urgings weren’t substantively important, but rather they cemented his status as the leader of the opposition. He traveled through Europe and espoused the anti-LBJ, yet still American position to the rest of the world. The imagery of these photo ops was "guy with gravitas" and achieved the kind of "better preparedness" quality without patently saying so.

I suspect that Gore will engender the same imagery in the wake of the film's release, as he shifts from the lecture podium to the press conference podium and takes his message to other world leaders as the alternative American view. By this, he will achieve the very thing you mention and perhaps hope for.

We'll see.

Going Stream of Consciousness Today ...

Here’s a shocker. In the wake of Maine DEP's ineptly conducted and illegally concealed negotiations with a paper mill, the Governor is really going out on a limb here. The negotiations, which would have allowed the mill to increase its pollution discharges in exchange for other environmental concessions, violated all kinds of public right-to-know laws despite arguably serving a public good. Don’t get me wrong, I generally support Baldacci and his reelection efforts. But this is another in a series of, if not “blunders,” at least moves that warrant eye-rolling. Poor.

Speaking of, the Gov expects to have some big-name help with his campaign stumping in the coming weeks. Also, a grumpy old railroad hack argues that conversion of a defunct railbed into a greenway, a la Rails to Trails, is a less financially advantageous use than leaving the rails to rust and ties to rot. In the words of the IM audible, "Well Played, Old Man!"

Oh, and a writer in Maine named
Alan Ginsberg, presumably not the same one, is jumping onto the Gore + history = Oh yeah in 2008 theorem.

In case you missed it, I had a few things to say about Gore and history
the other day

Meanwhile, Maine's
junior Senator
has again shown her willingness to throw the middle class under the bus in support of her beloved President. This same Senator who refused to go along with Bush's spending cuts to the Social Security entitlement programs, calling it "irresponsible" now seems to have dropped her hang-up with irresponsible governance. At least Olympia is consistent and attempts to honor her claim to the "fiscal responsibility" label:

"This cynical bill is not what the average American family needs to help them
confront the myriad of challenges they face each and every day," said Snowe, a
member of the Finance Committee that reviews tax bills.

Then again, she must
stand before the voters this Fall … and otherwise risks only beating her faceless opponent by a 20-point margin. How blissfully convenient it is that Collins doesn't stand for re-election for another two years, before which she'll surely change her message.

My neighbors to the south in
Thomaston are closing in on decision day in the on-going way between Midcoast Maine and Wal-Mart.

Fun with
Google. Here's one. Conduct an image search for "wishy washy" and enjoy seeing how the folks at the CIA are getting their yucks with keywords on their website. That's image number five, if you can't do the math … And who said that conservatives have no sense of humor?

This is kind of heady, but I retain a lingering interest in the story of Bosnia's slow emergence from the horrors of its recent history. Here's
one comment on the search for Ratko Mladic, the dude so bad he made Milosevic look like a conciliator. This story has long fascinated me, mostly because of the accepted truth that Mladic has been traveling in and out of the Bosnia all while the supposed search has been underway.

I remember reading
a really good story in the Atlantic Monthly, Atlantic Monthly, "The Reluctant Gendarme," some time back, explaining how he long favored the French zone due to that country's troops' unwillingness to arrest him on the numerous occasions when they could have. I have no solutions or even suggestive ideas that might help. But I like the columnist's view that Western Europe shouldn't impose its value system on Serbia this early in the game. That seemed to be the mistake that the Hapsburgs made, and we saw the result of a few disenchanted Balkanites responding to that mistake.

As a sidenote,
here is a 250-page official army view of the American role in the Bosnian clean-up. A little too much edification for me, but maybe you'll relish …

Quick hits:

E.J. Dionne picks up on an idea that "state's rights" is taking on a new, more progressive tint now that business regulation is devolving to the states . Slate speculates why Republicans seem to be warming to Hillary, as does Richard Cohen of the Post.

Joan Biskupic
ponders Supreme Court sea changes through the tried-and-true "Top Five List" method. Scott Lehigh, of the Globe, says the same thing every other political columnist has said between 1-4 times over the past four months. Some dude from Metro Boston is pissed that someone watched Amelie and then stole his lawn gnome.

Red Soxborough:

Shaughnessy suppresses a few sinister laughs while likening Hideki Matsui's injury in last night's Red Sox-Yankees game to the leg-snap heard round the world. NY Post's George King says the Japanese are sad that Matsui won't displace Cal Ripken Jr. as holder of the most boring record in baseball. NY Daily News' Lisa Olson, still scarred by the naked image of Zeke Mowatt, says puts a smiley face on the Yankees' outfield woes. Her colleague Bob Raissman pines for a return of the good (evil) old Steinbrenner.

Chris Snow
reports that nobody's saying nuthin' about Schilling's "medical issue." Oh, and have I mentioned, Papelbon is God! Jeff Horrigan agrees. Tony Mazz says last night's win was the (first of 7-8, probably) "turning point" of the season.

In other baseball news …

NY Post's
Joel Sherman says that Brian Cashman is going to make a run to bring Alfonso Soriano back to the Bronx. Also, Bill Littlefield of NPR's "Only A Game" asks, "Can a decade of Red Sox/Yankees hegemony be broken by the rogue nine from the North?" and gets poetic:

The Yankees and the Red Sox, Oh, The Red Sox and the Yanks!
Throughout the world of baseball loony fans all howl their thanks
For this historic rivalry. But what if, in these days,
Of spring's eternal promise they're both beaten by the Jays?

And Josh from Buffalo Grove transmits this piece, reported by the Onion, that
another player is in the running for Roger Clemens' services this summer.

Phenom Watch:

Jon Lester is beginning to impress, yielding one earned run on six hits, striking out six, walking none in five innings of work in Pawtucket. Lester pitched five scoreless on four hits on May 6. Craig Hansen pitched 3 1/3 scoreless in mop-up duty on May 8, but apparently "had no trouble hitting 96 mph on the radar gun, but did have problems hitting his spots" in his previous outing.