26 October 2005

Advancing withdrawal.

The Democratic party, for the first time in an eon, has the country's ear once again. A recent CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll reveals that the electorate is having buyer's remorse across the board, for a variety of reasons, over having punched the ballot for a president whose incompetence, apparently, was only hinted at during his first term and is now in glorious bloom.

Whether Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, Bill Frist and company actually violated the letter of the law is immaterial; what counts is that a healthy majority of the American public recognizes these characters for the shifty, unscrupulous charlatans they are, and are perhaps nursing a quiet resentment about having been moralized and condescended to by the whole bunch of crooks.

So now the stakes of the 2006 elections are staggering for the Democrats. At this early stage, they have a legitimate shot at retaking either or both houses of Congress. Take a look at the CNN poll again. A plurality of respondents believe a Democrat would better manage the war in Iraq.

Think about what that means: The 46% who'd prefer that a liberal run our foreign policy must be aware of the increasing volume on the left in support of withdrawal. This number will only grow with each additional American war casualty, whether that's fair or not. Ideological debate aside, the vast majority of Americans do not have the patience for a prolonged occupation of a country, and any successful Democratic congressional campaign will (must) pivot on this fact.

Some have already begun beating this drum, some brazen enough to call the war what it is and always was: a distraction from the war on terrorism, a severe impediment to national security, a waste of money and lives, a poorly planned, embarrassingly executed and unnecessary adventure.

Paul Hackett, an Iraq veteran against the war who openly advocates withdrawal, recently announced his candidacy for Senate after receiving 48% of the vote for a congressional seat in an overwhelmingly Republican district in Ohio.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) issued a statement demanding that Patrick Fitzgerald widen his investigation into Rove and Scooter Libby to include the question of whether the Administration knowingly used faulty, obsolete and false evidence to sell the war.

That Democrats are vilified as "the Anti-War Left" will work to their advantage when the people's war jones has subsided and they're having trouble making ends meet. And it's starting to come together in the popular consciousness that administration projections that Americans might need to maintain military presence in Iraq for 10 years or more means there will be a draft. An all-volunteer army for a nation so bitterly divided over the justness of the cause could never occupy another state for that long.

The birth of our own great country was not choreographed by a supervisory power which reserved the right to decide when we were ready to manage our own affairs. No one held our hand; we Americans guided ourselves to liberty and self-determination, recognizing that certain detours and setbacks were to be expected. If we're waiting for conditions in Iraq to take a sudden turn toward the democratic ideal, we'll be there forever.

America has accomplished its stated goals for Iraq, however backward its methods. We unseated a despot, installed a basic governmental infrastructure, passed a Constitution by plebiscite -- and now it's time for us to go. If the minds and wills of the Iraqi people are determined, and oriented toward freedom, they will provide for their own security, but if not, an American occupation will never change that fact. If Republicans refuse to acknowledge this, it'll be their loss next November.

24 October 2005

The City That Never Lets You Sleep (CS)

So two things have seemingly come back from the dead. Whippersnapp and the NHL. Let the rejoicing and rioting commence. In honor of the dual resurection, i've decided to focus this post on the Rangers, a team I am a hardcore fan of despite growing up in New Jersey.

The season that never was was supposed to be a hopeful one for The Rangers, a time to rebuild, bring in some new talent, maybe even sneak into the playoffs. In this case, hope came with the lifting of a burden by the name of Eric Lindros. Like any New York team not rattling off back to back to back championships, there's always an incredible amount of pressure on the Rangers to make moves in the offseason to correct the problems. Lindros had certainly had his day while skating with the Flyers, but was always known to be prone to concussions and was clearly never the same after the infamous monster hit from Scott Stevens. He looked slow and unenthused on the ice while representing New York and he fit into the common vernacular quite easily as "a bum."
But now we see Lindros playing well in Toronto on a Maple Leafs team that is chugging along quite well in the early season (not that we could expect anything less out of Toronto). There was recently a piece on Lindros on ESPN.com by Scott Burnside explaining how excited Leafs fans are and how Lindros has become "a dominant player and a team leader." Perhaps he's finally shaken all those concussion after affects. It's understandable that a player like Lindros, with all the tools and potential to be great, would someday get back in the groove. The question then is, How come this never happened all those years he was in New York?

Burnside says in his piece that Lindros, while in NY, "played well on a bad team." For those that simply look at the numbers, this may seem true. But for those of us here in the City who actually watched his preformance day in and day out, we couldn't help but feel like he was doggin' it. He looked slow and rarely seemed to create opportunities for other players. Meanwhile, blue collar players like Matthew Barnaby, Mark Messier and even Sandy McCarthy seemed to put their blood out on the ice every night as they tried to create momentum during their shifts. Fans wished for 3 lines with players like that, rather than the "star" lines that included Lindros (and Poti, who we're still stuck with...) who would kill that momentum dead.

In that aspect, Lindros begins to remind me of Alex Rodriguez's most recent season. A-Rod was a bid for MVP this past season because he put up numbers nearly unparalleled for a third baseman, on the field as well as behind the plate. While some argue that his HR's mostly came at points where they didn't make a difference, others point to many games where they did, and certainly at least enough games to make a difference as to whether the Yankees made the playoffs or not. But for those who have been ingesting Yankee baseball since the days of at least Mr. Mattingly never felt comfortable with Rodriguez at the plate. Once the playoffs rolled around, he did not manage to prove the Yankee faithful wrong and we knew no matter what the statistics might say, a Yankee fan will want a guy like Derek Jeter or even Paul O'Neill at the plate anyday in place of Rodriguez.

So I wonder... Do we as fans simply expect too much out of them in the first place? Why, despite the numbers they might put up, do we have the unshakable feeling that they are failing us? I never really bought into it before, but i've begun to put a bit of credit into the whole "pressure of playing in New York" idea, and with Lindros and Rodriguez I think we have two cases of guys unfit to carry the burden of that NY logo when push really comes to shove.

16 October 2005

We ain't dead yet.

Seems like everywhere I go nowadays, peeps are all like, "Brendan, what the F happened to Whippersnapp? Y'alls spirited debate and rancorous opinionation kept my ass riveted like a mawfukka, no doubt!"

I'm now at liberty to reveal that the thoughtful and provocative editorials that Craig and I would sporadically drop on the public at large were singlehandedly keeping President Bush and his Republican allies out of hot water. Witness the complete disintegration of the White House's crediblity, integrity and political capital since the last time we checked in. Honestly, there couldn't be another explanation.

Look, as far as I know, the president, for all his unchecked executive power, doesn't have the ability to summon a hurricane. But his penchant for putting his dingbat friends in charge of important agencies like FEMA certainly exacerbated the hardship of the good people of Louisiana and Alabama (serves y'all right for giving him your electoral votes, though). But really, who could blame him? George W. Bush, despite being totally unqualified for the jobs, was duly and democratically elected to a governorship and the presidency twice. How was he to know that official positions had experiential prerequisites?

Does he care about black people? I don't care one way or the other. Franklin Roosevelt didn't care about black people beyond poll results, in fact, transcripts of White House meetings reveal that every president we ever had up to Carter threw the n-word around like it was a definite article, but the proof is in the policy.

Now the commander-in-chief is trying to slip another crony into a position of power, this time as a Supreme Court justice. I don't know a thing about Harriet Miers beyond what the Times (of New York and Los Angeles) tells me, but what I do know is that she was a trial lawyer, and wasn't that supposed to be a despicable profession? To hear the righties tell it, it disqualified a certain senator from the vice presidency.

I don't have a problem with conservatism, I just want some consistency. It might just be me, but I would expect a party that built a Congressional majority based on the tenets of fiscal responsibility and moral prudence not to squander a surplus by simultaneously increasing federal spending and slashing taxes -- an economic policy arguably dumber than communism -- and flouting ethical standards in a manner that's despicable, if not strictly criminal. Seriously, put Martha Stewart in charge of the House leadership. At least the Capitol will smell nice.

Even if none of the prominent conservatives currently embroiled in scandals -- Frist, Delay, Rove, Libby -- are convicted, they've already paralyzed the Bush administration by losing the trust of the electorate, and rightfully so. A political sect that subjects the country to daily lectures on morality and propriety should know how to keep its nose clean in public. Whatever financial shenanigans Tom DeLay was up to, he was consciously playing fast and loose with the law, no doubt under advisement from legal counsel that no criminal prosecution would result.

The hypocritical dogma spewed by all of the right-of-center ideologues boils down simply to partisan relativism. All the Republicans now ankle-deep in political shit find themselves there because of witch-hunting Democrats. Really! Was President Clinton the victim of the same kind of injustice? Of course not, he had an orgasm in the Oval Office and lied to the country about it.

I'm not one to believe that the people going after these GOPers are noble and pure of heart, either, but the magnitude and visibility of the fuck-ups these men have committed demand that they be punished and humiliated appropriately. They demonstrate a crude disdain for the public trust, the rule of law and the reputation of the United States.

Diamond shit

Speaking of public humiliation, I move on to my new redheaded stepchild, alleged MVP candidate Alex Rodriguez. After not getting a hit of any importance all season (Hey Elias, be a dear and look up how many of A-Rod's 48 homers came when the team was either ahead or behind by seven or more runs. And fetch me some coffee.), the $250 million-dollar man came up with exactly two hits in the Yanks' embarrassing Division Series loss to the Angels, and grounded into a double play with runners on first and second with no outs in the ninth inning as the team stared down elimination.

Mr. Rod, you're a fucking disgrace. You should return, with interest, your ridiculous, exorbitant salary to the fans who have been consistently underwhelmed by your performance these past two years. You should request a trade back to the stink-ass Rangers so we can have Alfonso Soriano back, a kid who may not always get the big hit but is a hell of a lot more fun to watch.

The argument for Rodriguez for MVP is ridiculous. A-Rod isn't even the most valuable Yankee. He's not even the most valuable guy in the lineup; in fact, he's not even the third-most. I spent this entire spring, summer and fall watching baseball, sometimes following four games at a time, and I saw no one more prone to striking out or popping up in the clutch than Mr. Rod. David Ortiz hit walkoff homers every other day in September. Manny Ramirez drove in a million runs despite his ridiculous hairdo.

But just imagine having to call on Tanyon Sturtze to protect a slim lead in the ninth and you'll understand how crucial Mariano Rivera is to his team.

Rivera hasn't gotten nearly the credit he deserves due to some anti-Yankees bias by the nation's sportswriters, but he should win the MVP and the Cy Young Award this year, after posting a 1.38 ERA (a career low) and saving 43 games, including 31 in a row at one point. Without him, the Yankees might not even have topped .500 this year.

Who else would you give the Cy Young to, anyway? Bartolo Colon had a nice year, but the Angels would have won the AL West even if he hadn't won 20 games. Incidentally, they should really change the name of the award to Pitcher of the Year or something more descriptive; closers, along with starters on weak teams, get overlooked because the inclination is to give the award to the guy with the most wins.

In the National League, I pick Dontrelle Willis for Cy Young, Albert Pujols for MVP, and jeff Francoeur as Rookie of the Year.

Hey, I hear hockey's back.