Saturday, July 30, 2005

Gammons on Game 6 and the Home Run

Peter Gammons, formerly of the Boston Globe and now an analyst and 'inside' reporter, is about to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in the area reserved for great baseball journalists...and he is, truly, among the best. ESPN is reprinting some of his classic columns. Here is an example of just what makes a great baseball columnist:
At 12:34 a.m., in the 12th inning, Fisk's histrionic home run brought a 7-6 end to a game that will be the pride of historians in the year 2525, a game won and lost what seemed like a dozen times, and a game that brings back summertime one more day. For the seventh game of the World Series.

Classic prose for a classic game. They don't write like that anymore.

James Dobson is Most Certainly NOT Amused

Well, it seems that in Utah at least, some people may have to deal with their own biases. From Newsday:
The state of Utah can't block a woman from using her license plate to tell the world "GAYSROK," a judge has ruled. The state has no good reason to prevent Elizabeth Solomon from having that plate -- which can be read "Gays are OK" or "Gays Rock" -- or another one saying "GAYRYTS," according to Jane Phan, an administrative law judge with the Utah State Tax commission.
"The narrow issue before us is whether a reasonable person would believe the terms 'gays are OK' and 'gay rights' are, themselves, offensive to good taste and decency. It is the conclusion of the commission that a reasonable person would not," Phan wrote.

Imagine that. People thinking that Gays are okay. How very offensive! Why in the name of Leviticus would one possibly want to advertise such a thing? Well,
Solomon, of Park City, on Wednesday said she considered the judge's decision as a victory for her daughter, who is gay, and for two gay male friends.

Good for her, and hey, if that means that it leads to other 'offensive' plates, oh well. We all could use a little offending now and then. Don't forget that Florida has those silly official 'Choose Life' plates, and pretends that there is no political message by the state there. Thanks to Lindsay Beyerstein at majikthise for the link.
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)

'Moderate' Islam and Suicide Bombing

Mona Eltahawy is a New York-based columnist for the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, and no fan of the Iraq war, Israel, or George W. Bush. That being said, in a recent column in the Washington Post, she attacks the failure of 'moderate' clerics and Islamic leaders to condemn suicide bombing.
I'm sure it was also those dog-eared statements that our clerics and religious leaders read out telling us that Islam means peace--it actually means submission--and asking us to please forget everything they had ever said before July 6, because as of July 7 they truly believe violence is bad. Their backpedaling is so furious you can smell the skid marks.
Some are not even bothering to put their feet on the pedals, such as the 22 imams and scholars who met at London's largest mosque to condemn the bombings but who would not criticize all suicide attacks.
Sayed Mohammed Musawi, the head of the World Islamic League in London, insisted "there should be a clear distinction between the suicide bombing of those who are trying to defend themselves from occupiers, which is something different from those who kill civilians, which is a big crime."
Certainly, the failure of 'moderate' Islamic clerics and leaders to assume control of the conversation is partly to blame for the suicide attacks. Who defines just what is a civilian and what is an occupier? Who were those children killed in Iraq a couple of weeks ago? Occupiers?
Ms. Eltahawy continues, questioning whether the European Muslim community has made much of an effort to become part of the general European community as a whole.

But rather than dwelling endlessly on these issues, we would do well to spend time encouraging our young people to become more active members of their communities and to not live caught between two worlds: a Muslim one at home and in the mosque, an "infidel" one outside.

And what about assimilation? It is not bigoted to ask Muslims if they are integrating into the societies they are living in. Just as the British government has responsibilities toward its citizens, immigrants included, so too do those immigrants. Muslims ask for time off work for prayer, for example, and they often get it. But are they truly living in Britain or are they perpetuating an existence that even their relatives "back home" long ago left behind?
Domestic policy is too often ignored by many Muslims who are more concerned with Palestine, Iraq or any other place where Muslims are believed to have suffered injustice.

She has a point; certainly the Muslim community within Europe has been notoriously insular. After all, one must avoid associating with the infidels, especially when those infidels do not seem to want you there. However, Europe has not made much of an effort to make the immigrant Muslim community part of the whole, instead viewing it as a source of cheap labor. As London shows, we may be seeing the consequences now (though evidence indicates that the bombers in London were at least on the surface pretty well integrated; they may be an exception to a general rule).
Ms. Eltahawy concludes by attempting to reclaim the faith of her ancestors from the extremists:
I raise these questions because London might have done it for me, but I'm not done with Islam. The clerics and the terrorists will not take it away from me.
God belongs to me, too.
Well said, and hopefully simply one of the first of many loud voices within Islam to try and take back the faith from those who would corrupt it.
(Crossposted by Bostondreams at FloridaBlues)

Friday, July 29, 2005

Please, Theo, Don't Hurt Them!

Look, I'm as pissed off about Manny as the rest of the Nation, but you do not replace Manny with freaking Aubrey Huff or Mike Cameron. DO NOT TRADE MANNY! Unless you are blown away with prospects, do not trade the idiot! We need him. I'm scared; please do not trade Manny!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Manny Wants Out

According to this CNN SI article, Manny Ramirez, who approaches demi-God status in Boston, wants out. I haven't been able to read the whole thing (Premium subscription crap), but he is unhappy living in Boston. Geez. What the hell. The man never has to buy food, drink, clothes, automobiles, or anything else as long as he is alive in Boston, thanks to the glorious 2004 season. And he wants out?????
On a positive note, the Sox pulled one out against the fearsome D-Rays tonight. Still in first. How?? I'm taking my nephew to see them play again Wednesday. I hope the Sox win. For my sanity's sake, and for my little nephew's own safety, cause otherwise it's an angry drive back to my sister's house.
Let's hope Matt Clement is okay!

The Future of Iraq

Iraq, the Model has a translation what will apparently be the final draft of the Iraqi constitution to be submitted to the National Assembly for approval and then ratified in October. Some key points, with Omar's (the fine blogger at Iraq the Model) comments in red and my own in blue.
Fundamental Principles and Rights:
Islam is the official religion of the state and it is the main source of legislations and it is not allowed to make laws that contradict the fundamental teachings of Islam and its rules (the ones agreed upon by all Muslims) and this constitution shall preserve the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people (with its Shea't majority and its Sunni component) and respect the rights of all other religions.
This is the deadliest point if approved; Islam or any religion cannot and must not be the main source of legislation.
Omar has a point. How do you 'respect the rights of all other religions' when the basis for legislation is one specific religion. Worse, what about what should be secular matters, such as divorce, marriage, property, inheritance, etc.?
Arabic language is the official language of the Iraqi state and Kurdish language is (together with Arabic) the official language in the region of Kurdistan and for the central government, regions and provinces have the right to choose any local language as an additional official language if the majority of its citizens approved the choice in a referendum.
No real problems there!
The Iraqi state is part of the Islamic and Arabic worlds or (the Iraqi state is a founding member of the Arab league and the Islamic conference organization).
Do we really need to put that in the constitution? After all, our "Muslim and Arab brothers" brought us nothing but troubles.
Omar makes a point there. Shouldn't it be obvious that Iraq is part of both worlds?
The Iraqi state is one entity in land, people and sovereignty.
I suppose this is to try and prevent the creation of some sort of Kurdistan. Good luck with that.
All ideologies that include racism, terrorism and "takfir" (or promote or publicize these concepts) are banned and especially the Saddmist Ba'ath and this one cannot be part of the political plurality of the state.
I wonder. Does this include anti-Semitism?
The state protects the basic rights of women including equality with men in accordance to the Islamic share'at and the state helps the women in creating
balance between their duties within their families and their duties within
the community.
Equality according to Islamic Share'at? Thia is totally new to me!
Historically, law according to Share'at has not done much for women. Not good. Is this really what Iraqi women would want? Consider that at least until the 1990's after the first Gulf War (when Hussein went all Islamist), Iraqi women had some of the most comprehensive freedoms in the Arab world (as free as possible in a totalitarian state, at least). This section needs to go.

You really need to read Omar's translation and commentary. I really am not doing it justice. He finishes his analysis with this fine close:

Although this document will be subject to further negotiations and modifications, my first look at it made me decide that I'm going to say "NO" to this constitution.Islam has been introduced in many clauses and not only Islam, sectarianism was introduced into the draft in a disgusting way and frankly speaking, such things will make me feel so unsafe if results of the referendum came positive for this draft...
And later:
We have fought for a long time to reach the point where we can write a constitution that serves our needs and protects our future from oppression and dictatorship.I say it once again, we're practicing AND learning democracy at the same time and the people may be fooled once but they can't be fooled all the time.

Look, say what you will about Iraq, the War on Terror, the Insurgency, the incompetent Administration...we have to hope that this man's dreams do come true and that this, at least, is something that the US doesn't screw up in Iraq. Lord knows we have screwed up enough already (CPA anyone?).
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)

Confederate Theocrats and Christian Exodus

Gatorchick links and comments here to an article on the 'Christian Exodus' movement, an organization of what basically amounts to Confederate Theocrats that seeks to turn South Carolina in a pure Christian 'traditional' state based on Biblical and 'Constitutional' principles. For a detailed, in-depth look at the views of people such as this, check out the blog 'Little Geneva,' which also bills itself as 'Reformed Confederate Theocrats.' It's quite a read. The comment section of the site is almost as good as the site itself. And the blogroll is...well...a must-see.

(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Losing the Key to Boston's Heart

The MBTA, which oversees public transportation in Boston, Cambridge, and throughout my home state, has a little problem:

While transit systems focus on spotting suspicious people and packages to thwart terrorists, the MBTA says it is trying to fix another vulnerability in Boston's subways: thousands of master keys that provide access to all subway stations, which are locked overnight.

T officials say that the existence of so many keys is a problem and that it is difficult to track who has them. The keys open all exterior doors and gates at subway stations, plus men's restrooms inside, but do not allow access to ''safety sensitive" areas such as control rooms.

The ''P keys," which look like regular house keys stamped with a P, are in the hands of more than 5,000 operations employees, including bus drivers and others who rarely work underground. Since the keys aren't numbered, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority officials aren't sure whether any unauthorized people have them.

This is NOT a good thing. But these keys are hard to get ahold of right? Um, no.
''They do fall into the hands of people that shouldn't have them," said Mike Flaherty of Weymouth, who retired last year after two decades as a supervisor on the Green Line. ''I've closed Arlington Station some nights, and by the time I'd close one part and got in my truck to go close the second half, I'd view the homeless people from the Public Garden opening the doors and going into the stations.

''Where they obtain these keys, I don't know."

At least these keys are hard to duplicate, right? Again, um, no.
The T says it requires employees to turn in keys when they leave their jobs. But the authority can't do much if the key isn't returned. For instance, the T says it does not have the authority to dock pensions.

But Flaherty said T management has never paid much attention to controlling access to keys. When new supervisors came on the job, he'd often lend them his key so they could make a copy, he said.

''Believe it or not, the new inspectors, that is how they would get their keys," Flaherty said. ''They'd take it to a hardware store near Canal Street. That's where most of the keys were made."

I love Boston. Greatest city in the country. But c'mon guys, get your act together! You would not even need a suicide bomber, and seraching bags would be pointless; the bastards could just go in at night and plant the bombs. Copley Plaza or Harvard Square at rush hour? My God.
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at Floridablues)

The Life Preserver Presidency

Jonathan Rauch of National Journal and Reason has a new article analyzing the poll numbers and apparent lame duck status of this Adminstration, and questions just how long the Republican Party can remain in power. His conclusion? If the current disgruntlement of the center continues, not for long. It is only in one issue that the Republicans maintain an advantage with the center, which we shall get into in a bit. First, the key 'graf of the article:
From independents' point of view, the problem is not the process ("getting things done"). The problem is getting things solved. Independents are pragmatists. They want to see results, or else they want to see Plan B. On some of the country's most pressing problems—Iraq, Iranian and North Korean nuclear proliferation, the deficit—they see neither. Instead, they see a Republican establishment that seems to relish teeing up confrontations over social issues while North Korea builds nukes and gasoline prices rise. On issue after issue, in short, independents look like Democrats. Moderate Democrats, to be sure. Unlike Democratic partisans, they don't hate Bush. But they don't share his priorities, don't like his program, and don't feel he has the country's problems well in hand.

Rauch makes a great point, here, and I think summarizes the attitude of independents and moderates like myself pretty well. It seems that way too much emphasis is placed on so-called 'social issues' as a distraction from the real problems of the world: fuel prices and research, North Korea, China, Iran, the looming Medicare crisis...
So, what then is the saving grace for the Republican Party? Terrorism. Rauch argues that poll after poll indicates that
On terrorism, independents flip: They side with Republicans. They disapprove of Bush's handling of the economy and Iraq (according to the CBS News poll), but they approve, by 50 to 38 percent, of his handling of the war on terror. True, they have reservations. They think the government could have done more. But a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll taken just after the London bombings, earlier this month, tells the story: 54 percent of independents (against 91 percent of Republicans and 43 percent of Democrats) said they had a great deal or a moderate amount of confidence in the Bush administration to protect Americans from terrorism, versus 45 percent who had not much or no confidence. Similarly, majorities of independents side with Republicans, and against Democrats, in supporting continued operation of the Pentagon's detention camp at Guantanamo and in approving of the treatment of prisoners there.

So it is terrorism that is keeping this Administration afloat. I'm not sure I really agree with those independents that say the Administration is doing an effective job; after all, the so-called 'flypaper theory' has obviously been proven a failure, our borders remain incredibly unsecured, Homeland Security has done little about inherent security flaws in shipping and harbors, and much of the cost of protecting tunnels and subways has been passed off to the states.
Rauch finshes his piece comparing the Republican advantage on terrorism with the Democrats old advantage in the economy; if it disappears, so does the power of the party.
Think of Bush's administration, then, as a life-preserver presidency, kept afloat by a single crucial issue...The trouble with a life preserver, after all, is that you neglect to swim.

How long until the Republican start to sink?
(Crossposted by Bostondreamer at FloridaBlues)
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