Saturday, October 15, 2005

 

Even Sager Wisdom

My colleague Ryan Sager chronicles even further undermining of the First Amendment in the name of "clean" politics.

Ah, John McCain, what hast thou wrought?

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Friday, October 14, 2005

 

Her Aim Is True...

Allison Barber, the deputy assistant defense secretary caught directing the soldiers' "unrehearsed" responses to the president, is well-experienced at orchestrating oxymoronic events.

She was the lead DOD person on the 9/11-observing "Freedom Walk." That, of course, would be the event encouraging people to support the troops and "celebrate" freedom -- provided folks registered in advance, agreed to follow a cordoned-off path and non-registering latecomers understood that they could be subject to arrest.

Meanwhile, the administration manages to humiliate the White House press secretary in the process.

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Why The New York GOP Is Dead, Pt. XXVI

After lame-duck Governor George Pataki decides to endorse Jeanine Pirro, lawyer and Nixon son-in-law Ed Cox drops out of Senate race. This essentially gives Pirro an unencumbered road to her inevitable slaughter by Hillary Rodham Clinton next year. Hmm...glad to see that she's ready and rarin' to go for that fight.

Sigh.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

 

Bush's Black Poll Day

Actually, "non-black" poll day might be more accurate.

It seems like, when Steve Gilliard and I were doing our blog version of "playing the dozens" a few weeks back (
here, here, here and here), evidently, we were wasting our time.

Why? Because George W. Bush has managed to bring
the two of us together! We are part of this historic Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll result, released Wednesday, that finds only 2 percent of African Americans approve of the job Bush is doing as president.

Yes, 2 percent. As in -- right after the number one. If you factor in the margin of error, one could safely say that, without a doubt, African Americans have, ahem, a "negative" view of President Bush.

Now, in fairness, the true margin of error is pretty large, given that the poll "included 807 people nationwide, and only 89 blacks."

A Pew Research poll released Thursday had the black "approval" at
12 percent, which is obviously low -- but actually right around the 2004 election result for Bush among blacks. In short, a pro-administration spinner might say that despite Katrina and everything else, Bush's black approval is, ahem, as good as it has ever been.

But, ultimately, who cares? The fact that a Republican president is polling low among black people isn't exactly a man-bites-dog story. But, I'm a Republican and I "disapprove" of the job George W. Bush is doing. My reasons are generally going to be a lot different than Mr. Gilliard. However, in the context of polling, we are going to be listed as part of the 88/98 of black disapproval.

My reasons for discontent:

1)
Failing to recognize that the drowning of a major American tourist destination warranted a prime time response much sooner than two weeks after the event.

2)
GOP Affirmative Action -- the white male variety.

3)
GOP Affirmative Action -- the white female variety.

4)
Beating LBJ in "No Spending Limit, Texas Hold 'Em."

5)
Opening up a civil war in the Republican base.

It's the last item that bears watching. The big story in the poll is not that blacks disapprove of this president -- or that this black person disapproves (Heck, I've been disgruntled
for quite some time.) The major finding is -- like other recent surveys -- the 39 percent, below 40, figure dramatizes that the president is in danger of losing favor with his core supporters. The reason for that is Harriet Miers.

When state GOP organizations are being mobilized to to demand "fair treatment" (second item) of their president's Supreme Court nominee from senators of their own party;

when the RNC Chairman has difficulty getting support for his president's nominee
on a pro-GOP blogging conference call;

when the Republican Senate aides are doing
opposition research on their Republican president's nominee;

when
Christian conservatives are forced to battle Christian conservative organizations;

when its
conservative law professor vs. conservative radio host vs. conservative lawyer -- over a Republican president's nominee;

something is profoundly wrong.

The "black" mood that should most trouble the White House comes not from African Americans, but from Red State.

UPDATE: NRO's Byron York further supports my last point.


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Thanks For Dropping By....

Hullaballoo liberals, Liberty & Power libertarians (where I will be doing some guest-blogging over the next couple of days) and anyone else who might have wandered down some dark alley and found themselves accosted by some hard-to-figure out wonkish New Yorker...

Welcome all!

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

 

Is Harriet's Middle Name "Quag"?

'Cause she's certainly succeeded in completely bogging down the Bush administration!

Republican staff members on the Judiciary Committee usually research and prepare arguments to defend the president's nominees. But Republican staff members on the panel said committee lawyers were doing research to rebut the "talking points" the White House has provided for senators to support Ms. Miers's nomination.
I spoke with a conservative lawyer last week (two days after Miers was nominated) who was fairly devastated by the pick. After previously doing various media appearances to defend White House judicial nominations, he's turned down requests to discuss Miers -- "They haven't given me enough information to talk about her."
More significantly, this lawyer told me that it was his understanding that Miers was behind the rolling out of Bush's first Supreme Court pick, John Roberts. Well, as it happened, she might not have been too good at that mission:

Thrown on the defensive by recent revelations about Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr.'s legal work, White House aides are delaying the release of tens of thousands of documents from the Reagan administration to give themselves time to find any new surprises before they are turned into political ammunition by Democrats.

Before Roberts's July 19 selection by President Bush, there was no comprehensive effort to examine the voluminous paper trail from his previous tours as an important legal and political hand under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, administration officials said.

Three weeks later, these officials say they recognize that Roberts's record is going to be central to Senate confirmation hearings scheduled to begin Sept. 6, and lawyers and political aides are urgently reviewing more than 50,000 pages -- at the same time denying requests from Democrats for an immediate release.
As it happened, the records release ended up aiding Roberts' case -- the memos showing that he almost always took the conservative position in intra-Reagan administration policy squabbles helped shore up Roberts' bona fides with conservatives. Ironically, it may well have been liberal Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter's staff that raised the red flag to get the White House to go through the material before it was released to the press.

Who should have known those records were in the Reagan library? That would have been Harriet Miers -- whose work in judicial confirmations the White House is being touted as indicative of her competence and commitment to the conservative cause.

And, of course, "sexism" is the new "patriotism" -- by which we mean "the last refuge of scoundrels." Laura comes to the aid of her husband and his choice.

UPDATE: Lightly edited to correct spelling and grammatical errors.

UPDATE II: Good help is so hard to find these days.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

 

NYT: Uniters Not Dividers

Schadenfreude breaks out all across the blogosphere as the Gray Lady's opinion columnists become Brooks Who? Tom What? Paul Why? Throw in Maureen Huh? for that matter...

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Last Night of The Yankee Dynasty...

...is a great book by now-ESPN writer Buster Olney.

It focused on Game 7 of the 2001 World Series -- then-Diamondbacks fireball pitcher Randy Johnson pitched in relief to keep the three-time defending champion Yankees to a 2-1 lead. Bombers ace reliever Mariano Rivera made a critical throwing error and then gave up the game-winning -- and series-ending -- hit to Luis Gonzalez.

That night ended a run of four world championships in five years for the winningest sports franchise in history. The New York Yankees have never been the same. A dynasty that had been built around a core group of Yankee minor league system product -- Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Bernie Williams -- plus appropriate role players (Scott Brosius, Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill) began to fray. Brosius and O'Neill retired. Martinez wasn't re-signed as a free-agent, replaced instead by slugger (and, later discovered, steroid user) Jason Giambi.

Last night was the true end of the Joe Torre Yankee Dynasty. The
New York Yankees lost the American League Division Series to the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim). It is now only too clear that, "The glory years are long gone, fading deeper into memory each fall. The Yankees spoiled themselves, their fans and their principal owner by winning four championships in five seasons through 2000. Now, they have gone five years without one."

In 2003, the Yankees made it back to the World Series -- only to lose in six games to the Florida Marlins. In 2004, they lost a seven-game American League Championship Series to the hated Boston Red Sox (blowing a three games to none lead in the process). This year, it is the division series. This is truly the end of the Yankee dynasty. It is difficult to imagine Torre coming back. Should he? Of course. Bobby Cox has managed to win 14 consecutive division titles as manager of the Atlanta Braves. The team has only won one World Series -- 1995 -- during that time. Cox doesn't have to worry about his job status.

But this is the New York Yankees and owner George Steinbrenner we're talking about here. He paid $200 million (and subsidized several money-losing MLB teams in the process). Considering that this was a guy who fired managers as soon as breathe during the '70s and '80s, the fact Steinbrenner has kept Torre for 10 seasons is a testament to Torre's success during the first five years. Frankly, it's hard to believe that Torre would have stayed even if he had won it again.

But, truly, the ninth inning tonight was a perfect microcosm of why the old ('96-'01) Yankees were championship caliber, even if they didn't win every single one of those years. With the Angels up 5-3, the Yankees got three hits in the inning. Yet they didn't score. Why? Because, between a Derek Jeter single and consecutive hits by Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi was perfect (if you're an Angels fan) double-play ball hit by Alex Rodriguez.

If Jeter and Rivera were the face of the championship run. Rodriguez and, ironically, Randy Johnson (and Kevin Brown) are the faces of the not-quite-championship years. Rodriguez had 130 runs batted in during the regular season -- and none during the division series. His error in Game 2 helped cost the team the game. Another close play involving Rodriguez gave the Angels an extra out (yes, the umpire blew the play, but it shouldn't have been that close). Last year, A-Rod was called out after trying to slap a ball out of a Red Sox fielder's glove.

It's no surprise how the Yankees won Game 4. Derek Jeter drove Jorge Posada in with a bouncer to third base. Jeter came up with the needed play -- and Posada helped make it happen, just getting in under Angels catcher Bennie Molina's tag. The play was reminiscent -- in a reverse way, of Jeter's amazing run, catch and toss-to-Posada-to-throw-out Jeremy Giambi in the '01 playoffs with the Oakland A's. The old Yankees were always in the right place at the right time to do the right thing to win. The 'new', overpriced, imported Yankees either blow up or somehow manage to demonstrate that they don't have quite the je ne sais pas to make the play to win the must-win game of the year.

Final irony: The critical play of the game was when the Angels Adam Kennedy hit a Mike Mussina pitch to the deepest part of centerfield. Yankee outfielders Sheffield and Bubba Crosby crashed into each other and the wall in trying to get the ball. If either had gotten there, they would have recorded the final out. Arriving simultaneously, the ball bounced off of Sheffield's arm and went for a triple, scoring two runs.

Crosby was in the game because Torre, rightly, felt that he was a better defensive player than the aging Bernie Williams -- he would be able to get to more balls. Well, be careful what you ask for: Had Williams been playing, he wouldn't have gotten anywhere near the ball; Sheffield would have had an unencumbered play for the ball. He would have caught it and the Yankees would have gotten out of the inning with the lead.


These are the type of blind-luck plays that would have gone the Yankees way...back in the days of the dynasty.

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Monday, October 10, 2005

 

Count Me In...

...with John Cole on the supposed grassroots GOP support for Harriet Miers.

When the alleged "Republican base" actually happens to be a cadre of state party chairs -- who are the last people likely to cross a president of their own party -- how are you supposed to take unskeptically anything they say?

For that matter,
The Washington Times should have had least one caveat in there noting the automatic deference that a state party chair would exhibit for their own president's choice -- given the power that the White House has in directing funds and other perks to the state.

Washington state Party Chairman Chris Vance

said the critical e-mails "were basically parroting what they heard on talk radio from conservative opinion leaders. So it's been comparatively mild. The attitude of the overwhelming majority of Republicans out here is that we trust the president and let's see how the hearings go."
Ah, state chairmen are dismissing the relevance of e-mails because they "parrot" conservative talk radio. How can anyone working in GOP politics for any amount of time actually say something like that without even a hint of irony?

UPDATE: As one reader puts it: "How appropriate that cronyism -- the loyalty many party chairs have to either Bush, Rove or Mehlman -- would manifest itself as champions of the "Republican base" that supposedly supports the president's Supreme Court pick!"

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