Anything from current events, campaign finance reform, sports (especially baseball), corporate/political/legal ethics, pop culture, confessions of a recovering comic book addict, and probably some overly indulgent discourses about my 3-year old daughter. E-Mail: sardonicviews -at-
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Saturday, October 18, 2003

Hypocrisy knows no Political Favoritism

It's been fun for many (including me) to laugh at Limbaugh the junkie and Bennett the gambler. These jerks are getting everything they deserve in public ridicule and I have no sympathy for them. But, never forget that there is plenty of hypocrisy on the other end.

Feminists champion a woman's right to choose. They have always taken the position that the right to privacy includes the right to decide what happens to their own bodies. They think such a personal decision should be made by individual women and their physicians, free from meddling politicians.

As Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Gloria Feldt puts it, "We stand for the principle that women--in consultation with their families and their physicians--should make their own reproductive and health decisions. Not politicians and not the government."

But this week, they changed their minds.

Not about abortion. On that intimate issue of women's physical autonomy, they still believe the government should get out and stay out. But when it comes to breast implants, they think women can't be trusted to decide for themselves. On the former question, they sound like hard-core libertarians. On the latter, they are models of intrusive paternalism.

The FDA has concluded that silcon breast implants, 10 years after the hysteria that pulled them from the market for health concerns, pose no greater health threat than saline implants. Plenty of scientific studies of implants have been showing this for some time. So, now the FDA will let them back on the market and women will have the right to choose.

But NOW and Planned Parenthood don't think that women have a right to choose in this case. Instead they want the federal government to intrude and protect the women.

Personally, I don't care about breast implants all that much -- I've always been a leg man. I don't go out enough to even waste time playing the "real" or not game with friends. I favor abortion rights, but I also favor letting people decide to do whatever they want to their body for plastic surgery, tattoos and piercings. They are the ones that have to live with it. I can always look away.

Depends on Who is Killed

Following the terrorist attacks on an American convoy in the Gaza Strip this past week, the Cleveland Plain Dealer Editorial Board is angry.

The attack underscores dangerous rifts that have opened in Palestinian society as Yasser Arafat grows physically and politically weaker, without being willing to cede power to one of his more able lieutenants. The terrorists themselves are fracturing. There's even speculation that the latest attack was launched by extremists with Iranian backing and a more radical pan-Islamic agenda.

The Palestinian leadership issued its usual weak condemnation, disavowing ownership of the deed, which took the life of three American security personnel and grievously injured a fourth. Palestinian spokesman Saeb Erekat vowed an intensive hunt for the culprits.

But this time it was the Americans listening skeptically.

Where were the vows to root out the miscreants, seize their arsenals, deny their ability to operate? Where were the expressions of outrage from average Palestinians, who know most U.S. diplomats who come through the region are sincerely committed to helping them escape a hard life of isolation?

You expect concern for American lives in a region where the general populace celebrated the destruction of the World Trade Center (until the Palestinian Authority decided to shut down media access because it might be bad publicity)? That would almost be funny, if it wasn't so ignorant. Reports were jubilation at the news. The reaction of local Palestinians to investigations by American investigators at the site is telling -- they threw stones and debris at them.

Speaking of ignorant.

It seems apparent that this heinous attack was done without the blessing of the Palestinian leadership. It may even have been a mistake - a road trap sprung against the wrong target.

The PDEB may be unaware of this, but that area was under total control of the Palestinian forces for a couple months now. So, there may not have been explicit authorization of the Palestinian Authority (Could they possibly be suggesting that the suicide bombings are? Probably not intentionally, but...), but the fact that they allowed a full scale remote explosives planting complete with a bunker at some distance to detonate, tells you how implicit the support is.

Of course, the PDEB has a hard time with Israel and terrorism. This was their editorial about a week before the attack on Americans, condemning Israel for blasting a terrorist training base in Syria as not constructive.

It is easy to understand why Israel felt it had to act in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday - even to understand why it felt that for the first time in 26 years, it needed to strike a target deep within Syria. What's harder to understand is how this serves the cause of peace.

Well if they don't have a safe haven, or a place to train. It makes it that much harder to blow people up, and so there is less death. Less death means more life. Which means there might actually be a chance force the Palestinians to look for another way.

On Saturday afternoon, a young Palestinian woman set off a 22-pound bomb in a busy restaurant near the beach in Haifa. Nineteen people, including the bomber, a 29-year-old aspiring lawyer named Hanadi Tayseer Jaradat, died. The murders seemed timed to spread fear on the eve of Yom Kippur, the most solemn of Jewish holidays. They also seemed to designed to show that there are no sanctuaries from Palestinian anger, not even in Haifa, a city whose comfortable mix of Israelis and Arabs offers a taste of what could be if enough people on both sides dedicated themselves to peace.
Saturday's bomber apparently was upset that Israeli forces had killed her brother and cousin - both Islamic Jihad members - in June. How many new militants were recruited this weekend? How can the cycle of violence, now generations old, ever be interrupted unless all parties change their ways?

A young woman killed herself and as many others as possible, because members of her family who were part of a terrorist organization that seeks to kill as many innocents as possible and whose goal is the entire elimination of the Jewish State were killed by an Israeli strike. You need to feed that "cycle of violence" argument whenever possible. Never mind that she chose a restaurant that was jointly owned by Israeli Jews and Arabs, and killed both, showing how little it was about sending a message as it was about killing as many people as possible.

This was on the heels of condemning the Israelis for building a security fence, and trying to protect and include settlements.

But this fence is more. Routing it deep into the West Bank reveals an attempt to rewrite the reality on the ground to deny Palestinians a viable state. That's dangerous and short-sighted. A fence built this way will only encourage violence and hatred. As Palestinians are forced on to ever-smaller islands of the West Bank, they will see their goal of a self-sustaining country evaporate. Without hope, there will never be a cessation to the conflict. Bleak as things appear today, they can get much worse.

Adding to idiocy is that this appeared on the same day the suicide bomber in Haifa struck. Timing is still everything.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Another Thought On the Game

One of the things I was looking forward to, today win or lose, would be Bill Simmons's (AKA The (Boston) Sports Guy) column on ESPN Page Two. I was especially looking forward to it, if the Red Sox lost. Simmons is a hell of a funny writer, and his pain is real. So, while it wasn't his best work, it was still good fun.

Twenty minutes after the Yankees eliminated the Sox, I called my father to make sure he was still alive.

And that's not even a joke. I wanted to make sure Dad wasn't dead. That's what it feels like to be a Red Sox fan. You make phone calls thinking to yourself, "Hopefully, my Dad picks up, because there's at least a 5-percent chance that the Red Sox just killed him."
So it happened again. Nothing was worse than Game Six against the Mets, but this was damned close. I don't need to tell you why. If the Red Sox were a girl, you would probably just break up with them. You would call them on the phone, explain to them calmly that you can't take it anymore, let them down as gently as possible, then move on with your life. But sports aren't like that. You're stuck with your teams from childhood. It's like being trapped in a bad marriage. You can't get out.

He, like most Boston fans, hell, even I can blame Grady Little for the inexcusable decision to leave Pedro Martinez out there in the 8th inning.

I can't say this strongly enough: I will spend the rest of my life wondering why Grady let Pedro wilt to death in the eighth inning. This isn't Pantheon Pedro anymore; honestly, it's been over two years since he was doing his Mozart routine on the mound. Even if his best start is still better than just about anyone else's best start, asking him to throw 125-plus pitches over three-plus hours in Yankee Stadium -- in the most improbable, nerve-wracking setting imaginable -- was indefensible at best and catastrophically moronic at worst.

Now, sports fandom is irrational. I'll be the first to say that. However, Boston fans hate Clemens still. One of the reasons they cite is Game 6 of the 1986 World Series (The "Bill Buckner Game") when Clemens was lifted in the 7th inning. To this day Clemens claims he didn't want to come out, but was pulled by the manager John McNamara. The former manager claims Clemens asked out. Regardless, the fact that Clemens came out is still held against him.

For instance, during Game 6 of the '86 World Series, Clemens could have closed out the Mets and emerged as a genuine hero (you forget this now, but everything was sitting right there at his fingertips -- "legend" status, a statue, the whole shebang). He pitched valiantly, holding a 3-2 lead through the seventh before exiting with a blister on the index finger of his throwing hand; even 15 years later, the principles involved (Clemens, former manager John McNamara and former pitching coach Bill Fischer) still argue whether or not Clemens asked out of the game.

McNamara vehemently claims that Clemens told him, "That's all I can pitch"; Clemens steadfastly maintains that he was yanked after the seventh; and prosecutor Jim Garrison claims that there may have been a second pitching coach ordering Clemens to leave the game. Nobody knows the truth, but we know one thing: Under similar circumstances, Larry Bird would have remained in the game unless he was forcibly removed and hogtied to the Celtics bench.

Emphasis added.

So, Little sticks with Martinez who wanted to stay in, and Little should be fired because he stuck with the best pitcher even as he ran out of gas. Clemens comes out of a game and regardless of whether he wanted to or not; and it is evidence that Clemens only looked out for himself, never the team or the fans.

I'm guessing that sometime after next year, when Martinez leaves as a free agent and -- with usual Martinez petulance -- rips on the team for not giving him another big contract; Red Sox Nation will start lining up to start listing all the reasons why Martinez is crap (oh, not that there aren't plenty, but they do it with the "yeah, but..." excuses at the ready). Just like the did to Clemens.


Might as well bang this out now, because I won't be able to sleep for a while anyways.

I mean, what can I say. We are talking high drama and jubilation for Yankee fans (like me) and the ultimate kick in the groin for Red Sox Nation. My buddy Lee (heh, buddy Lee, get it? It's late and I've been drinking.), over at Pitt Sports Blather called me out for not saying anything so far. I'll be honest. I've been dying to say something. Anything. Especially regarding the Cubs. But I couldn't. I kept missing windows. Let me explain.

I'm not a believer in curses, omens or such. I do, however, like any true baseball fan -- respect the streak. You don't f**k with a streak, to quote from Bull Durham. Even now, I may violate the streak, but I'm trying to carve out the exception. This is not rational thought at this time or point.

In this case, I couldn't comment about the playoffs because I hadn't to this point. I had every intention of posting after every game, but in the series against Minnesota I missed the window for the first 3 games. After that, I decided to keep my mouth shut. And if I couldn't talk about the Yankees, then it would be silly to talk about every other series but (there's logic and then there is "streak" or sports logic).

The ALCS started while I was heavy in a sinus infection. There was no way I could string together coherent sentences, let alone a full post. So, again, I had to keep silent. It has been killing me. Lee sets the bait, and I'm stuck gnashing my teeth wanting to respond, but knowing I have to stay silent for a while longer.

Well, tonight, at the Sardonic Shanty, I kept a little log of Game 7 of the ALCS.

Pre-Game: The first pitch hasn't been thrown yet, and I've already uttered my first, "Shut the fmmmph up, McCarver!!!" at the TV. They can't stop talking about how this could be Clemens final game.

It used to be simply, "Shut the f**k up, McCarver!" but I'm a father with 16 month old now, and my wife would kill me if f**k was one of her first words (that and Uma). I'm stuck trying to muffle it until I can find a suitable replacement.

8:23: Top of the 1st. The home plate ump is Tim McClelland (sp?). He has one of those ssssllllooooowwww called strikes. That will get annoying very quickly.

The crowd is thundering. I just noticed that it is forcing very little talking between Joe Buck and Tim McCarver between and during pitches. This is a good thing. Don't suppose they will keep that up?

8:34: Bottom of the 1st. Silence in the announcer booth is over. Damn.

8:41: Matsui lost track of the count. Headed to 1st on ball 3, thinking it to be ball 4. Never good unless you smack a HR on the next pitch.

He didn't.

8:49: Trot friggin' Nixon cranked a 2 run HR off Clemens. F**k. Nixon always hits Clemens well.

8:53: Enrique Wilson just threw the ball into the stands on the 1st base side, rather than simply tag Jason Varitek who was 6 inches away from him.

Enrique Wilson is playing 3rd? WTF? I realize Aaron Boone's done jack in the series (much the same way his brother has in the booth), but Enrique Wilson? Surely they could have brought back Luis Sojo.

9:12: Bottom of the 3rd. Karim Garcia with a weak pop-up. But that isn't important. That was simply the excuse to replay and talk about -- yet again -- game 3. Stop talking about it now. Please.

9:13: "Shut the fmmmph up, McCarver!!!"

9:14: Just noticed how much my back is already hurting from hunching forward since pregame.

9:24: Top of the 4th. Clemens doesn't have it. Torre pulls him. Red Sox Nation is laughing vindictively.

Mussina comes in -- I like it. Torre isn't wasting relievers yet. Bring in starters now.

9:30: Mussina comes through but I didn't see how. Angie did her best supermodel impersonation by jamming some fingers down her throat because the medicine didn't taste good. Baby puke. Yeah.

9:52: Bottom 5. Giambi with a solo shot. Angie claps in response to the crowd on TV. Good girl.

9:56: Screw the antibiotics. It's not that I want a drink. I need a drink.

10:06: On the heels of AT&T Wireless's stupid "m-life" ad campaign comes "Reachout" -- that reaches new lows in annoyance, sappiness and dreariness.

10:11: The only good thing I can say about Bret Boone providing commentary tonight -- he's mostly shut up (until now).

10:12: "Shut the fmmmph up, McCarver!!!"

10:13: They just showed Jeff Weaver out in the Yankee bullpen. Raising an important question: Why was Jeff Weaver even on the post-season roster? I don't think Joe Torre would trust Weaver in a game, if the Yanks were down 13-0 with two outs in the 9th.

10:29: "Shut the fmmmph up, McCarver!!!"

Just an idle thought, but if the Yankees could some how come back and win, one of the storylines would have to be Mussina. Mussina has been disappointing in the post-season since coming to the Yankees. His performances in games 1 of the ALDS and ALCS are not things to endear to the Yankee faithful. He seemed in danger of being lumped with Kenny Rogers as a pitcher with great stuff who doesn't belong on the big stage. But the containment he has provided tonight when Clemens didn't have it is huge.

10:37: Bottom 7. Giambi with his second HR. Followed by a wierd infield single for Wilson and then a sharp hit for Garcia. 2 outs, but I gotta believe the Red Sox are getting Wakefield up, right now.

10:41: Screw the Bushmills, I need tequila. Soriano just struck out for the 4th time.

10:49: Even the wife could read David Wells's lips after he gave up that blast to Ortiz. Now 5-2.

10:52: I will never, ever buy a pair of "Old Navy Painters Pants." How do ad campaigns that use only one ad over and over again produce anything but hatred towards the product after a while?

11:04: Two minutes ago, I was sure Pedro would come out of the game. Whoops.

11:07: TIE GAME!!!! Angie giggles as I "dance" around the room.

11:13: The Coors Light "Wingman" commercial is one that still makes me laugh -- and is one that still splits straight along gender lines in appeal.

11:17: "Shut the fmmmph up, McCarver!!!"

11:38: Bottom 9th. They just showed Wakefield warming up in the pen. Where was he in the 8th? Win or lose, given how Wakefield handled the Yankees in games 1 and 4, that will be source of major second guessing for Grady Little.

11:48: Tenth inning. Todd Walker has had one hell of a post-season.

11:50: Strangely surprising that this is only the second time they've gone to the Mia Hamm shot when Nomar is at bat.

I was holding my sleeping daughter through the rest of the 10th inning; while the wife got ready for bed. Really helps with the old perspective.

12:13: Mariano Rivera is god. All is forgiven for being mortal in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. 3 innings pitched, 0 earned runs.

Damn. Wakefield is in.

12:16: YANKEES WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!


Best banner shown: "Cowboy Down + Out"

Post-Game: Please stop showing close-ups of Bret Boone in the booth.

12:21: Just showed Yankees GM, Brian Cashman celebrating in the Yankees locker room with an, "I get to keep my job for another 10 days," look.

Final thought. Tequila has a lousy aftertaste when you're sober.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Amazing Response

Funny how well the Palestinian Authority can respond to terror attacks when it isn't Israelis being killed. Even more amazing, they can even exchange gunfire. I thought any crackdown on the terrorists would lead to civil war?

Palestinian police arrested seven suspects Thursday in a deadly attack on U.S. diplomats, briefly exchanging fire with militants during a raid in this shantytown, security officials said.

The suspects are members of the Popular Resistance Committees, a group of dozens of armed men from various factions, many former members of the security forces and disgruntled followers of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

Adding to the surprise, is that this terror group didn't even claim responsibility, but they knew who was responsible and where to find them. Kind of makes you wonder how hard they try other times.

Well, no, not really. It's been explicitly clear how hard they actually try.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Continual Pauses

Part of why I haven't posted much recently, has been the posting I've been doing at PSB, some of which can get quite long, and stressful after a loss.

Another factor has been limited time. I was sick, then I passed the infection to Angie -- learned that kids can't get sinus infections until they are around 7, because their sinuses aren't developed enough -- who got an ear infection. Of course, the wife is allergic to many antibiotics, so standard meds for Angie are right out. She responded well to the medication, but the side effect is diarreha. Needless to say, there has been a lot of extra work. And in the snowball effect, the extra irritation has given her diaper rash.

And so it goes.

The DVD Pirates

You have to laugh at the logic.

Several prominent actors, including Sean Penn, Holly Hunter, Frances McDormand and Willem Dafoe, have joined the opposition to a recent ban on sending special DVDs and videos to Academy Award voters.

The Writers Guild of America also has added its voice to the argument.

Their protest follows a letter sent last week from 142 directors to Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, urging the MPAA to immediately repeal its anti-piracy plan.

According to the MPAA thought process, one of the major ways of DVD piracy is through the members of the Academy, who get DVDs of movies they can screen for voting purposes. Effectively meaning, they don't trust themselves. I love paranoia.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Whatever You Say is Fine With Us

Near the end of May, Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman proposed extending downtown parking meter hours until 10 pm at night on the theory that forcing more people to have to pay to park at night would encourage people to go downtown to eat and hit the bars. Surprisingly, I didn't find this concept particularly brilliant. The Cleveland Plain Dealer Editorial Board (PDEB), however, backed the idea, no matter how information free the claims were. Not surprisingly, the idea took a lot of criticism, and was finally pulled.

In something of a bizarre twist, Cleveland City Councilman Nelson Cintron recently proposed the city lots be made free to the public to encourage them to come downtown at night. The idea is gaining steam and is backed by the same businesses that wanted to extend parking.

Well, since the PDEB backed the idea of extending hours without much critical thought. It decided that it should support the free lots in an amazing waste of ink and space. I mean, what is the point of an editorial that in the concluding paragraph admitted it supported the idea that failed, and just supports this idea because the same people want it.

Earlier this year, this page supported efforts to extend meter hours. Area stakeholders were pushing the idea, and we felt they deserved the benefit of the doubt since they'd have to live with the results. If they now favor a different approach, let them try. And if this persuades people who have not recently sampled the pleasures of downtown to hazard a visit, then so much the better.

So basically, the PDEB concedes that it isn't the issue or whether something is a good idea that matters, it's who wants it. A rare and unintentional moment of candor from the PDEB. Bravo.


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