July 2004 Archives
July 31, 2004 John Kerry's acceptance speech on Thursday night was mostly mainstream consensus views, leavened with lame platitudes. His delivery was just rousing enough to keep us awake, though it was painful to watch him struggle so hard to crack a smile. Charisma is not a prerequisite for the nation's highest office, and we sure as heck don't need another "talk show host" like Bill Clinton. His daughters tried to shed light on his less-uptight private personality the day before, and his regal wife Teresa likewise defended him for just being the way he is, and that's fine. (She has been criticized as self-centered, but I'm willing to give her the benefit of the doubt for the moment.)
As for the substance, Kerry was a little harsher on Bush than I expected, given the highly-disciplined restraint on show at the convention. The Democrats know very well that hatred of Bush is a two-edged sword that they must wield with great care. Kerry ably followed up Clinton's earlier criticism of the growing U.S. indebtedness to creditors in China and Japan, one consequence of Bush's tax cut fever. What struck me was Kerry's absence of specific proposals on domestic policy (are they planning a surprise?) and his emphasis on national strength and fighting terrorism. The shift in emphasis from the economy (which has been improving) to security (which is as uncertain as ever) represents a bold attempt to take the campaign fight to Bush's "home court," but it may backfire. Granted, building up the size of the regular Army is certainly overdue, but Kerry shouldn't have pandered to the Left by saying the additional troops would not be deployed to Iraq. Since military assets are "fungible," such a declaration really doesn't mean anything anyway. More generally, Kerry's proposed "multilateral" alternative approach to foreign policy is nothing more than wishful thinking. The idea that being nice to France or Russia or Germany is going to get them to take a more active role in fighting the Islamic terrorist menace in its heartland is simply not credible.
Among cyber-pundit reactions, I was a little surprised by Daniel Drezner's surprisingly positive take of Kerry's "liberal hawk" foreign policy platform. Like me, Drezner regards himself as a moderate conservative, and I wonder whether he might be leaning toward Kerry in order to garner credibility from those in the center or on the left. To his credit, Drezner upbraided Kerry for simplistic pandering on the outsourcing issue. I'm disappointed in Glenn Reynolds for indulging in so much cheap derision of Kerry, such as poking fun over that NASA clean-room suit flap.
Today was the deadline for trading (excepting late waiver-clearing trades), and apparently the only big news is that Nomar Garciaparra is going to the Cubs. Randy Johnson was expected to be traded to New York or Boston, but the Arizona Diamondbacks owners apparently think they have a shot at becoming pennant contenders next year if they keep him. The big question in the National League is whether any other team has a chance at stopping the red-hot Cardinals. Jason Giambi has been diagnosed with a benign tumor that has been causing him gastric discomfort and weakness in recent months. He will be on the disabled list for at least two weeks. The Yankee Stadium page has been revised with four more photos from the second roll of film we took in New York, including a giant panorama.
There are also a couple other new photos on the New York 2004 page, including a great one of Jacqueline at Rockefeller Center.
In Bolivia, a strike shut down all of the airports in the country for one day, until the general director of civil aeronautics resigned. Getting from city to another on land is extremely difficult because of the high mountains and deep valleys in Bolivia.
Yesterday I returned to the Great blue heron rookery in western Augusta County discovered by Brenda Tekin a few weeks ago. This time I got lucky and saw six of those magnificent creatures, though from quite a distance. There is a new (blurry rollover) photo of them on the Augusta & Rockbridge Counties, July 2004 page, or you can just click HERE. I also saw several juvenile Bobolinks sighted there by Allen Larner, as well as one of the tiny Sedge wrens. On the way over there I got a brief view of a couple Red-headed woodpeckers for the first time in over a year.
July 28, 2004 The Republic of Peru was proclaimed 183 years ago today. As elsewhere in Latin America, however, political independence from Spain did not translate into economic independence, and the consolidation of authority under the new regime was never really completed.
Blogger Dean Esmay poses a hard question to conservatives: Will they support Kerry as national leader should he win the election in November, and will they express dissent in a respectful way? Even though I find Kerry irritatingly condescending and wrong on most key issues, I have no hestitation in answering that question in the affirmative. Unlike many on the left, I take the peril our nation faces dead seriously: United we stand; divided we fall. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link.
Military blogger Sgt. Stryker has some scathing words for partisans on both sides:
Three years into this current war, we've invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. We've created a new Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security. We created a "Transportation Security Administration". The nation and the government, however, are still on a peacetime footing. No sacrifice has been asked of the general populace. People are apparently still scared to fly and have no faith in the security apparatus meant to protect them. A sizeable portion of the public honestly believes that we're not at war. Three years into this thing and we're about as screwed-up a nation as we can be. If you want someone to blame for the state of things, then each of you needs to take a long, hard look into the mirror.
Indeed, another big attack on American soil this fall will render partisan debates utterly beside the point and even childish. I agree with Sgt. Stryker that President Bush has failed to ask Americans to sacrifice for the sake of victory, and that much of the homeland security initiatives since 9/11 have been little more than bureaucratic chair-shuffling. (Much of what the 9/11 Commission recommends falls into the same category.) Sgt. Stryker fails to recognize, however, that there is a huge difference between the parties in terms of facing up to the terrorist threat.
Rising Democratic star Barack Obama came across pretty well last night, but his political identity seems hard to pin down. The Dems will need a lot more than upbeat rhetoric if they are too win and/or govern. So far the conventioneers in Boston have been very well behaved, and even Michael Moore zipped his lip for the sake of propriety. Josh Marshall has a good explanation for the Democrats' curious refraining from the expected hateful venting toward Bush at their convention:
Among Democrats, the rejection of this president is so total, exists on so many different levels, and is so fused into their understanding of all the major issues facing the country, that it doesn't even need to be explicitly evoked.
There is a new page showing proximity of baseball stadiums where one stadium replaced an older one. Eventually each respective stadium page will display this information in a consistent way. Thanks to T. J. Zmina for his photos from a recent visit to beautiful PNC Park in Pittsburgh. I hope I can pay a visit there this year...
July 27, 2004 Thanks to C-SPAN, I was able to watch a rerun of last night's speeches at the Democratic Convention. I had missed Hillary's introduction of Bill and the early part of Bill's remarks. They kept accusing Republicans of trying to divide the country, and then indulged in good old fashioned class warfare rhetoric. Quite a paradox, no? Republicans, of course, would rather not emphasize the inevitable differences in income levels that exist in every society, especially in dynamic ones like ours that attract so many immigrants from abroad. One wishes it would dawn on more people that the redistributional impulse of making "keeping up with the Joneses" the centerpiece of public policy is the very essence of social divisiveness. Such an agenda only serves to retard economic progress and exacerbate bitterness among the less fortunate. In terms of substance, oddly enough, I had a hard time figuring out what the Big Differences on foreign and economic policy are, except for raising taxes on the wealthy investor class (like Bill is now!) and pushing for incremental socialization of health care. It leaves me wondering what possible reason there could be for all that Bush hatred; apparently there is no there there. Ever-upbeat Bill still dreams of global harmony via multilateralism, not realizing that 9/11 signified the ascendancy of the power of negative thinking.
In Peru, which celebrates its independence day tomorrow, the Congress just elected Antero Flores-Araoz as its "president" (like speaker of the house) for the next year, defeating Luis Solari of President Toledo's party Peru Possible. The incumbent is Henry Pease Garcia, a former leftist who also belongs to Peru Possible. With the legislative branch in opposition hands for the first time in recorded history, the wheels of government in Peru will grind ever more slowly. This choice also signals a growing possibility that Toledo will be removed from office, on charges of extremely low popularity -- his approval rating is somewhere between six and eight percent.
Brazil defeated Argentina in the championship game of the America Cup soccer tournament, held in Lima. The tournament has been held in various Peruvian cities over the past two weeks. Twelve of the 20 nations of Latin America competed in the first round.
The Mexican government was moving toward charging former president Luis Echeverria with "genocide" for having ordered the killing of dozens of students during protests in 1971. Even Amnesty International questioned whether that action qualified as "genocide." In any case, a judge has thrown out the charges on the grounds that too much time has lapsed. This is seen as a defeat for President Fox, who has tried to shed light on the abuses of power by the formerly dominant PRI. Meanwhile, Mexico and Cuba have reestablished diplomatic relations, which were broken after Mexican voted to condemn Cuba for it human rights abuses earlier this year.
According to USA Today, Wrigley Field is being inspected for structural defects after small chunks of concrete fell from the upper deck three times in recent weeks. Fortunately, no one was injured. A similar incident happened in The Bronx five years ago, and the Yanks had to take refuge in Shea Stadium. For now, the Cubs are just going to install protective netting to protect lower-deck fans, so they probably won't have to play in their South Side counterparts' home for the time being. For couch potato fans (like me, usually), here is some vicarious ballpark fun: Great Baseball Trip 2004 with Andrew (not me) & Ben. They just got back to their home in the Chicago area, where I hope to be a week or two from now...
July 26, 2004 Photos and descriptions of our trip to New York last week; another roll has not been developed yet. The trip went very well, except for the rain on Friday that forced us to abandon plans to take the ferry boat to Liberty Island. We learned that the Statue of Liberty itself will be closed until August 4 anyway, so it wasn't a huge disappointment.
Our pilgrimmage to that sacred green field in The Bronx last week was rewarded with a Yankees win (against the Blue Jays), but just barely. The only score came in the bottom of the ninth inning when Ruben Sierra knocked a home run that just cleared the center field fence. To my dismay, neither Derek Jeter nor Jason Giambi played, and Jorge Posada didn't enter the game until the 7th inning. It was a pleasantly warm, humid, partly sunny day, and our seats were in the shade. The Yankee Stadium page has been revised with four photos and much new text based on our experiences and other recent research. There will be minor corrections to the diagrams in the near future. Because of the heavy rain on Friday, we cancelled our plans to see either the Braves-Mets game at Shea Stadium or the Cubs-Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park on the way home. To my surprise, the latter game was held after all!
Boston marathon! The four-hour Yankees-Red Sox game in Fenway on Saturday afternoon had plenty of runs and entertainment value, though there were too many errors and wasted opportunities. Every time I try to wish well on the Red Sox, another senseless brawl breaks out. I thought A-Rod reacted fairly mildly to being hit by a pitch, and there was no reason I could see for Jason Varitek to get in his face like that. (OK, I did lip-read A-Rod's retort, but still...) Bill Mueller's stunning game-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth gave Boston fans a sweet memory that will last for years. It gave me heartburn.
The Democratic Convention just got underway, and Bill Clinton reminded us what a great orator he is. "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values." Well put; I'm glad "W" won't have to face Clinton in a debate. But if Kerry wins, Hillary will have to wait eight more years to run for the Big Job! Much is being made of Terry McAuliffe's fund-raising successes and all the posh exclusive events staged for top donors. One would have to be a deeply devoted believer to overlook all the clashes between principle and practice. The big question is whether they can stoke the fires of Bush hatred -- the only thing that really keeps them together these days -- without letting such passions get out of control. Is any Democratic candidate big enough to say that he or she doesn't want the votes of whoever wrote "We hate Bush" on the fence I saw at Ground Zero?
Thanks to my sister Connie for a link to the famous Bush vs. Kerry lampoon animation, where they sing "This Land Is Your Land." Like Fox News, it's "fair and balanced" (!), and is of better technical quality than the Osama bin Laden animation that was created back in September 2001.
George started molting last week, and for a while we were worried by how weak and listless he had become. Fortunately, he started to improve just before we left on our short trip to NYC. Birds need plenty of rest and special dietary supplements to replace their feathers during this stressful time. Princess gave up on her latest clutch of eggs after a record three-week incubation effort. Now she is in flirting mode, looking for a different place to sleep each night, and has begun molting as well.
July 21, 2004 Jacqueline and I are heading north to see the Yankees playing host to the Toronto Blue Jays Thursday afternoon. (And to think, I waited 40+ years for this!) With any luck, we'll catch the Phillies hosting the Cubs on our way home.
Marc Fisher, writing in the Washington Post, tried to downplay the D.C.-Virginia rivalry for getting the Expos franchise, saying that such lively tensions boost attendance and competitive spirit. Indeed! He also noted that the Montgomery County Council endorsed the D.C. alternative, which is no surprise, and heaped scorn on the racist notion that black people don't care about baseball, one of the lame excuses once expressed by Calvin Griffith and Bob Short.
A few Baseball pages have been (or are being) corrected or updated, thanks to recent helpful input from Vince Tucci, Geoff Hatchard, T. J. Zmina, and Steven Poppe, who just passed the quarter-century mark. And many thanks to Paul Cox for being the first guy to step up to the plate and contribute to this Web site, or rather, to my very first brewski in the Bronx.
Democratic blogger Josh Marshall strains to uphold Joe Wilson's version of the whole Iraq-Niger-uranium-CIA-Novak mess, and does about as good a job as anyone could in that awkward position. He is truly a world-class spin doctor. In particular, he rebuts some key points in Susan Schmidt's previously-cited Washington Post article from July 9. I would grant that not all the facts are in, so we should reserve judgment on certain key issues. Do Marshall's blog posts show any such fair-minded reserve on controversial issues? No. Meanwhile, Michael Barone, contrasts the hysterical charges that Bush is a "liar" with the scant coverage of the revelations about Wilson's disinformation crusade by the establishment media. Barone makes it plain, as if there were any doubt by now, that journalistic elites are engaged in an orchestrated campaign to discredit President Bush and whitewash his critics.
And if the web of deceit and intrigue that surround Joe Wilson wasn't enough, Clinton's national security adviser Sandy Berger is being investigated for having unlawfully removed highly sensitive documents relating to Clinton administration policies on terrorism from the National Archives. Given the deep partisan divide that exists right now, I would rather not wallow too much in the mistakes of the past, but it certainly does appear that they must have something to hide.
July 18, 2004 Prompted by an e-mail alert about a Great blue heron rookery sighted by Brenda Tekin, Jacqueline and I took a road trip through western Augusta County today. We saw kingbirds, a kestrel, and several goldfinches, but no great blue herons. After a half hour of fruitless searching, we resumed our impromptu road trip and headed southwest, into Uncharted Territories filled with pleasant farms and streamside willow trees... Not long after crossing into Rockbridge County, we turned right (northwest) and entered Goshen Pass, a deep gorge where the Maury River cuts through a large mountain. We stopped to took a few photos; see Augusta & Rockbridge Counties, July 2004. On the way back home, we dined at Charlie's Restaurant in Buffalo Gap, where we saw some Ruby-throated hummingbirds on the patio just a few feet away from our table. Roll the mouse over the image to see the female, which has a white throat.
July 17, 2004 Last week Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge warned that Al Qaeda may be planning to launch a major attack aimed at disrupting the November elections. Given their success in Spain, that certainly wouldn't be a surprise. Nevertheless, according to the Washington Post, Rep. Jim Turner (D-Tex.) said he doubts such a thing is likely. Frankly, expressing any opinion on this delicate question runs big risks, of either the "chicken little" or the "head in the sand" variety.
The former risk may be why we haven't heard about the extremely spooky incident aboard a U.S. airliner in late June, as reported by Annie Jacobsen in womenswallstreet.com. She noticed a group of a dozen Middle Eastern men (who turned out to be musicians from Syria) repeatedly opening carry-on luggage and using the lavatory, in careful sequence, as if they were rehearsing a hijacking. Since no major news organizations have reported on this yet, it may be just a hoax. Even if it was not a dry run for another 9/11-style attack, it could have been part of a long-term campaign to intimidate or unnerve us, or to probe airport security screeners who have been wary of singling out Arab-appearing people. One preliminary lesson to draw is that those who make political hay out of denouncing the U.S. government for curtailing civil liberties may be doing us grave harm. Another is that this country needs to move beyond the civil rights sensibilities of the 1960s and recognize that in some situations there is a place for discrimination. Let common sense prevail.
Here's a good one: restorehonesty.com, a Web site featuring pious ponderings by former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, sponsored by John Kerry's campaign. In light of recent revelations (barely noted in the mainstream press) that Wilson not only lied about the African uranium connection but did grave damage to U.S. foreign policy, I'm wagering that that Web site will be gone and conveniently forgotten very soon.
In Peru, which has become increasingly tense and unstable in recent months, a general strike called by the leftist labor confederation apparently was apparently not very successful. Former (and perhaps future) President Alan Garcia was participating in a march with strikers, and was videotaped impatiently kicking the guy who was clearing a way through the crowd for him. (He said it was just a nudge.)
The ultra-prestigious Riggs National Bank in Washington handled money for former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet while he was under house arrest in Britain a few years ago. Riggs was also caught up in a scandal involving the Saudi amassador Prince Bandar, and it was just announced that it will be merging with another bank.
After weeks in the doldrums, the Braves managed to climb into a tie for the NL East lead with Philadelphia, but then fell a game behind again. It was a shame that only one Braves player made it to the All-Star roster, and he was a new arrival: Johnny Estrada. (Chipper? Andruw?) I was a little disappointed that the center field slope in Minute Maid Park only came into play once during the All-Star Game, when A-Rod hit a triple. The MLB promo guys kept saying "This one counts!" When is the National League going to start playing like it does?
According to the Washington Post, Bud Selig announced that there will be no more Expos games in San Juan, Puerto Rico, next year, raising the likelihood that the team will be sold and relocated next year. Target decision date: an MLB owners' meeting in Philadelphia on August 18-19. We'll see...
The Exhibition Stadium page has been revised with some minor corrections and a dynamic diagram to show the football gridiron and baseball diamond separately. Other diagram revisions are in the works as well, of which Wrigley Field is the top priority.
July 13, 2004 Today I hiked to the top of Elliott Knob, the third (I think) tallest mountain in Virginia, located about 14 miles west of Staunton. The 2,350-foot climb was exhausting, but the effort definitely paid off. (Starting elevation was 2,100 feet.) I only got rained on briefly a couple times, and I actually came to prefer the rain to the blistering sun. The following list of birds that I SAW is in rough chronological order, starting from the bottom and ending at the top.
- 30 Towhees, including many juveniles and females
- 3 Red-eyed vireos
- 1 Yellow-throated vireo
- 5 Indigo buntings (M, F, J)
- 15 Carolina chickadees (a few possible black-capped)
- 2 Ovenbirds
- 40 Dark-eyed juncos (M, F, J)
- 2 Black-throated blue warblers (M, F) *FOS*
- 2 Worm-eating warblers
- 1 Black & white warbler
- 1 Black-throated green warbler
- 5 Chestnut-sided warblers (M, F, J) *FOS*
- 6 Canada warblers (F, J) *FOS*
- 6 Cedar waxwings
- 4 Redstarts (M, F)
- 2 Yellow-rumped warblers (M) -- heard at least 5 singing
- 2 Phoebes
- 4 Turkey vultures
- 2 Black vultures
and last but not least,
- 1 BALD EAGLE! (A) -- seen from the summit, to the west
There was also a probable blue-gray gnatcatcher on the way back down. I heard several scarlet tanagers and titmice in the lower elevations but didn't see any. I didn't see any of the expected rose-breasted grosbeaks, either. NO woodpeckers or nuthatches! Nine warbler species in one day may be my record, so I'll have to check. Three of them were the first ones I've seen this season.
Well, well, well! Based on the Senate's recent scathing report on intelligence, it turns out that Joseph Wilson, the center of last year's scandal over the leak of his wife's identity as a CIA analyst by Robert Novak, was not telling the truth about a number of key points. His previous denials notwithstanding, Wilson in fact was recommended for the special mission to Niger by his wife, Valerie Plame. Furthermore, as reported in the Washington Post:
The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address.
As they say, read the whole article. It's good. (Why are so many of the loudest critics of Bush, the ones who call him a "liar," liars themselves?)
John Kerry, the ultra-cautious candidate who wants to be on both sides of every major issue, stubbornly evaded a key question put to him by Leslie Stahl in Sunday's CBS 60 Minutes. Was he for the war in Iraq or was he against it? He kept saying "the president made a mistake in the way he took us to war," meaning that Bush should have tried harder to get other countries to join us, but he left unclear what his position on the war itself. To her credit, Stahl pressed him more than once to get him to say whether he opposed the war, but he just said he thought he had answered her question. Unfortunately, the CBS Web site did not include a complete transcript.
I've written before that the idea of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage is almost as silly as the idea of gay "marriage" itself. It ought to be self-evident that marriage is by definition a heterosexual union, and I think legislating social norms would probably backfire. Alas, we live in strange times in which such norms carry no weight. I heard several congresspersons and political figures such as Walter Fauntleroy making impassioned pleas on behalf of the Federal Marriage Amendment yesterday, and I was almost convinced.
ALL STAR GAME: Poor Roger! Was that awful 6-run first inning some kind of divine retribution for having had second thoughts about "retiring" from the Yankees and then joining the Astros? As of the sixth inning, the score is AL 9, NL 4.
The Washington Post ran a front-page story on Sunday exposing the weak link in the campaign to bring the Expos to the Washington area: jealousies and distrust between D.C. and Northern Virginia. How many Washingtonians would drive out to Dulles for a night game, knowing that they wouldn't get back home until after midnight? One D.C. official even cast doubt on whether RFK Stadium would be available for a Virginia team on temporary basis. Yikes! The way MLB honchos are playing Virginia against the District for bargaining purposes may end up ruining everything. One thing is almost certain: whether the stadium ends up north or south of the Potomac, the majority of fans would probably be suburbanites, and most of them would be from the Virginia side. Suggestion: Whether Bill Collins (Virginia) or Fred Malek (D.C.) gets the Expos, they should put in an immediate bid to sign Vladimir Guerrero, the former Expo who joined the Angels this year. One of Vlad's main concerns was playing in a city with a high hispanic population, and Washington certainly fits that bill.
Thanks to Steven Poppe for reminding me about a nagging legal problem that may block any Expos relocation. The Las Vegas Sun reports that Expos minority owners are suing MLB and former Expos principal owner Jeff Loria (new owner of the Marlins) over the way their interests were trampled upon when Loria sold out. I would think there is enough spare capital in Washington to pay off the disgruntled investors. According to renowned baseball economics expert Andrew Zimbalist, however, there is a very real chance that the Expos are not going to move at all. Another little-known fact is that Virginia's legislative provisions for baseball stadium financing expire at the end of December. As far as I'm concerned, it's this year or never.
July 10, 2004 A group of officials from MLB's Relocation Committee, including White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, just held meetings with interested baseball parties from D.C. and Virginia. According to the Washington Post, written commitments were submitted, suggesting that a final decision on the Expos' fate may be near, but President Robert A. DuPuy said none of the six prospective new home cities have been ruled out yet. Things do seem to be coming to a head, but I'm almost afraid to get my hopes up once again... Sentiment from those folks who send me e-mail is running in favor of a home in D.C. rather than in the wilds of suburban Northern Virginia. I'm inclined to agree, but ONLY if the new stadium is built in Southwest Washington.
John Moores, owner of the San Diego Padres, wrote an op-ed piece for the Washington Post on Thursday in which he defends Commissioner Bud Selig for taking a strong leadership role that, he believes, has restored vitality to baseball. I suppose averting a calamitous strike is praiseworthy, and the move toward revenue-sharing is certainly overdue. I'm also mildly in favor of inter-league play, but fear it will be overdone. But the fact remains that Selig's actions qualify him as the apostle of "stadium socialism," validating the anti-"capitalist welfare" arguments of Ralph Nader and others. The Big Unknown Factor in all this is to what extent Bud Selig is independent of the owners. The series of articles in the Washington Post by Steve Fainaru two weeks ago portrayed him as in control of major decisions. Most of what I've read, in contrast, suggests that Mr. Selig is more of a passive mouthpiece for the 29 MLB franchise owners. Eric McErlain says Selig is not the real problem, it's the big owners behind the throne. I guess we'll find out pretty soon...
July 9, 2004 James Lileks rips into Michael Moore for his willful, malicious deceitfulness, and more broadly he condemns the Left's robotically monotonous sceeching about Bush's alleged "lies." Here's how his post from Thursday starts:
Believing in Bush's perfidy gives some people the same comfort and emotional nourishment others get from believing in Jesus. It validates them, cements their view of the world -- venal, conspiratorial, run by capering chimps who are somehow ten times less intelligent than Usenet posters but somehow able to yank strings on a global scale.
I think that pretty welll captures the extremely deep disdain leftist elites have for the Bushies. "Nucyular!" Many people regard Moore as filling the role of Rush Limbaugh for the Left. Well, there are strong similarities: They are both overweight, white, often-obnoxious, middle-aged males. Otherwise, they are as different as night and day. Say what you will, Rush does not come anywhere close to Moore's extremist hysteria. He's a forthright, inspirational, middle-American guy who routinely indulges in satrical hyperbole, but he certainly doesn't spread gloom, doom, and conspiracy tales. Only people with locked-tight closed minds could fail to recognize (if not appreciate) Rush's tongue-in-cheek humor. Some people blame Rush for hyping the Vince Foster suicide as a possible murder during the first year of Clinton, but those circumstances were suspicious. Likewise, his denunciations of Bill and Hillary often bordered on bad taste but stopped short of slander, which is what Moore specializes in.
Thanks to Carolyn Hoaster of the Staunton Republican Party for her letter to the Staunton Daily News Leader drawing attention to the book I Was Wrong by the Rev. Ken Joseph, Jr. He was one of the pacifist "human shields" who went to Iraq in a vain attempt to forestall the U.S.-led liberation last year. After talking with the supporters of Saddam's regime who actually wanted war with the Americans, Rev. Joseph realized that the pursuit of peace was impossible in the old Iraq. For more details, see the Assyrian Christians Web site.
Reports that the U.S. Navy plans a massive demonstration of force near the straits of Taiwan later this summer turned out to be true. Jim Dunnigan provides the background on this at Strategy Page. I can't help but wonder if this exercise will do more to spotlight the dangerous strain on U.S. military resources at a time when we face security threats and challenges in several potential theaters of war.
The Washington Post reports that "squatters" have already claimed domain names of propsective future homes of the team currently playing in San Juan: www.nevadaexpos.com, www.norfolkexpos.com, and others are taken (but not operational), while www.washingtonsenators.com has been an active Web site since the 1990s.
Show me the money! Now that I've resumed devoting top priority to this Web site over the past several weeks, I feel comfortable with setting up a "tip jar" via a PayPal account. (Just click on the button at the bottom of the page.) I'm only asking for five bucks annually, the price of a beer. Feel free to donate more if you think it's worth it; I would be extremely appreciative. (Proceeds will go toward my long-deferred summer baseball tour!) If you're one of those fine folks whose photos I've included on this site, consider yourself paid. If this works as I plan, donors will get special consideration in terms of access to comments pages, etc. I had neglected keeping up with the Amazon Honor System over the past year, and need to figure out what happened with it. I hope to avoid indulging in too much crass money-grubbing, but you may see a few ads or commercial links here and there...
July 7, 2004 Edwards for Veep!? John Kerry's choice of John "Keanu"* Edwards was no big surprise: regional balance, charisma, etc. Sean Hannity and others are jumping all over Edwards for not knowing who Leah Rabin or her martyred husband, former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin were. Indeed, Edwards lacks either the experience or knowledge to serve as president, quite the opposite of Dick Cheney, as President Bush tartly pointed out today. But since Bush himself was exposed for lacking knowledge of foreign leaders in an interview "ambush" back in 2000, that line of criticism won't go very far -- especially in our self-absorbed culture where ignorance is considered a virtue. Will the fact that Edwards is a trial lawyer who became fabulously wealthy by litigation against medical practitioners undermine his credentials as a populist? How many obstetricians have stopped delivering babies because of the liability crisis engendered by Edwards and his ilk?
* The nickname "Keanu" refers both to Edwards's boyish charm and to the hyper-ambitious, scruples-lacking lawyer played by Keanu Reeves in The Devil's Advocate. Quite a striking parallel...
Speaking of diabolical plots, Bush hatred is reaching new lows of depravity, as the President is depicted as "Satan Devouring His Children" (a painting by Goya) on the back cover of The Nation magazine. As B. Preston notes in his junkyardblog, when former Clinton aide Paul Begala appeared on a recent edition of CNN's "Capitol Gang," he declined Bob Novak's request to denounce this, and instead said that the Nation "shouldn't be censored by right wingers." Who mentioned censorship? Begala is one of the most shameless, vituperative hacks on the Left these days, but you can tell by his nervous half-grin that his conscience weighs heavily upon him.
The Baseball stadium pages now have a logo at the top left corner with a link back to the baseball home page, for easier navigation. The RFK Stadium and U.S. Cellular Field pages have been revised with new text as well as new data on the backstop distance and the outfield fence height in the "Vital statistics" table. The latter page also includes two great new photos kindly submitted by Bill Blake. The other stadium pages will be modified to include the additional information in coming weeks...
July 5, 2004 Independence Day 2004: Most Americans intinctively equate national (collective) liberation from foreign oppression with individual liberation from domestic oppression. That's a result of the somewhat unique circumstances of our relatively recent national origins stemming from English colonial roots. The land once known as Mesopotamia and now known as Iraq, in contrast, has been colonized by Arabs, Turks, and (briefly) by the British over the centuries. What would it take for future Iraqis to make a similar association between national liberation and individual freedom? Well, a reasonably broad national consensus on our long-range objectives in the Middle East would be a good place to start. Doubts the Iraqi people may have about the U.S.-led mission to stabilize and democratize their country can only be aggravated by hyperpartisan bickering here in the States. Michael Moore, John Kerry, and other nay-sayers certainly aren't doing the Iraqis any favors.
An article in the Washington Post last week played up divisions over fiscal policy in the Republican Party. It quoted former senator Warren B. Rudman, a co-founder of the bipartisan deficit-cutting Concord Coalition:
For a majority of Republicans in Congress, tax cuts are now more important than budget constraints, and they've gotten themselves between a rock and a hard place because you can't have both.
Since it was via the Concord Coalition that I gradually migrated toward the Republican side, I must confess that I have similar worries. Granted, tax cuts can be an effective means to restrain spending, but it depends on the circumstances. Republicans in Virginia recently let Governor Mark Warner score a big victory over the budget last month by exploiting divisions between those who prioritize tax cuts (mostly in the House of Delegates) versus those who prioritize fiscal responsibility (mostly in the state Senate). Most reasonable people in Virginia became convinced that very little "fat" remained in the state budget, and any further spending cuts would sacrifice "muscle tissue" in education, highways, and public safety. The Republican leaders' failure to work out a joint negotiating strategy in advance of this year's legislative session was simply inexcusable. As a statewide government shutdown loomed, many of the moderates succumbed to pressure and cut a deal, leaving the tax-cut champions out to dry. It was not unlike what happened to the Republican Revolution in 1995, when the Clinton spin machine prevailed in a high-stakes "game of chicken" with the Republicans in Congress. For over three decades the Democrats had built an entrenched empire in Washington by creating new voter blocs via ever-expanding entitlements, and when necessary, making budget compromises that systematically exploited the Reublicans' greater concerns about fiscal restraint. From the Democrats' perspective, having a permanent majority in Congress was perfectly natural. It was the perfect scam, and it probably explains much of their recent rage against the Republicans for having spoiled it all.
Now, however, the shoe is on the other foot, and it is the Republicans who are tempted with abusing the levers of state spending power to cling to majority status. On July 1 Andrew Sullivan cited the above Post article and predicted an "outright Republican civil war after this election," whether Bush wins or loses. Time for a huddle...
Political violence is getting worse in Peru, and there are signs that the long-subdued terrorist movement Shining Path is instigating some of it. Several people were injured and a tourist hotel was set on fire in the highland city of Ayacucho. As with the protest march we witnessed in Cuzco in March, the far-left-wing teachers' union SUTEP has taken a leading role in the disturbances.
George Solomon wrote an exasperated column in the Washington Post: "Hey Bud, Time for Decision-Making Is Over." In it, he notes that Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley said last week that he wouldn't mind a baseball team in the Washington area, seeing it as promoting a friendly rivalry. Good for him!! In response, Peter Angelos issued a bitter, insulting rebuke to the mayor, once again making plain his grim, dead-set opposition to any new team nearby, and revealing his megalomaniacal paranoid mindset, bordering on dementia.
If the resort complex site near Dulles is ultimately chosen as the least objectionable site to Mr. Angelos, it would constitute a tragic abandonment of the vital social function of community building for which baseball is uniquely suited. (Catering to an upscale clientele would also be a very questionable use of taxpayer-subsidized bonds.) Unfortunately, my suggested option of West End Alexandria does not appear to be in the cards, either. I hope all those "NIMBY" elitists up in Arlington are satisfied. On a parallel note, new visitor to this site T.J. Zmina offers another good reason to question the wisdom of the proposed baseball stadium site in Loudoun County: JET NOISE!
So they want to put a new stadium in D.C. near Dulles Airport. Two words: Shea, LaGuardia. Not a good idea if you ask me.
I managed to let the All-Star voting slip by this year, but the lineups on both sides are pretty much what I would have chosen anyway. The entire AL infield played for the Yankees either this year or last year. The Red Sox' fifth-inning collapse in Atlanta yesterday does not augur well for keeping up with the Yankees during the second half of the season. With a new manager and a relatively inexperienced owner, trying to keep a lid on personality squabbles may be very difficult.
July 3, 2004 Jacqueline and I had a nice picnic at McCormick (as in Cyrus) Farm yesterday, and right on cue some of those highly photogenic (but nervous) cedar waxwings showed up for a brief photo op. Unfortunately, the Baltimore orioles were no longer present, but there were plenty of barn swallows, grackles, and robins. I'll add a couple photos to the Photos page in the next day or so.
MLB president Bob DuPuy met with Commissioner Selig on Wednesday to report on the Relocation Committee's preliminary findings. According to the Washington Post, serious deliberations on the fate of the Expos are proceeding (albeit slowly), whereas last year such talk dwindled away as the summer progressed. (One of the things I learned from that Post series last week was that DuPuy is also Bud Selig's personal lawyer. Hmmm.) The Post cited reports in Sports Illustrated and USA Today that the committee is leaning toward Washington or Northern Virginia. Furthermore, according to USA Today, "Selig said last week that he expects a final decision soon after the July 13 All-Star Game in Houston." Same story, different year... It is worth mentioning that USA Today also made a detailed analysis of all the prospective new locations for the Expos, concluding that Northern Virginia is the best choice.