Ah, those sons ... :
Hate to use the phrase ‘good news,’ but this is good news.
Next up: Daddy. We hope. ...
... Reader BK sends in some links to counter, methinks, my rants about WMD and the lack thereof. Here’s a link to a David Warren
piece, warning of journalists comparing Iraq to Vietnam. Not that I’ve compared Iraq to Vietnam. I’m a diehard anti-anti-quagmire mutterer myself. Frankly, I don’t know what to compare the current situation to. The U.S. occupation of the Philippines strikes me as historically more apt. ... Readers should check out Mickey Kaus
, who's gleefully pointing out how the administration is now groveling to the UN for help in Iraq. Yes, the same administration that dismissed the UN last winter. ...
Here’s John Hughes
on Blair: “Tony Blair is paying a heavy price for his convictions about the war in Iraq and his loyalty to America. His sacrifice is something Americans should not easily forget.” .... And here’s one on the Churchillian lessons
to be learned about wartime intelligence. ... So much Churchill talk these days! We’re overdosing on it!
'Not that we didn't want to buy it ...':
Reader J throws his two cents in on WMD:
"I agree with your take on the WMD issue, in that we’ve been had or at least feel that we’ve been had. But I don’t think we’ve been victims of a government that 'lied/embellished/screwed up.'
"I just think the war was aggressively sold to us. Not that we didn’t want to buy it, but it’s irritating that we were condescended to in the process, like buying a car that you did your research on and having to go through a sleazy salesperson or dealership to get what you knew was right for you in the first place.
"Also, I don’t think the Jacobys are blind to the issue. They’re just circling the wagons because the Democrats are on the warpath. It could be that they think there’s more at stake than politics. I think it’s a mistake for them to avoid tackling the issue head on."
Hub Blog's response
: FYI -- I'm not all that convinced people lied about this. Colin Powell and Tony Blair, well, I think highly of them and can't imagine they'd partake in such a ghastly charade. But 'embellished' and 'screwed up'? Definitely. Critics going after the African uranium story are going at it wrong. All the evidence they need is to keep pointing out the non-evidence evidence, i.e. no WMD after we invaded the country. Zippo. ...
: Dante Chinni
puts his finger on it this morning in the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor:
“But even if the president didn't lie, the errors on Iraq may speak to a serious issue concerning his judgment. Bush tends to see the world in black and white -- divided between good and bad, just people and ‘evildoers.’ This is often portrayed as a strength of his presidency, but it can also be a weakness. ...
“In this case, it is legitimate to ask whether that conviction got in the way of finding the truth in Iraq before the nation acted.”
Oh, what the hell. Here's Tom Oliphant
, who dredges up the diastrous U.S. diplomacy before the war and its lingering legacy today:
"The poles in this mess still have their adherents -- Cheney-Rumsfeld's ongoing message to the world (butt out) and the French-oriented riposte (no, you butt out). Good will is in the air, however, and there exists a way to make postwar Iraq the showcase for determined, aggressive internationalism it could have become last winter.
"There needs to be debate as well as investigation about how so much could have gone wrong and how so much baloney could be fed to the public. This period of reckoning for those who misled the world, however, cannot block or slow the vital task of helping a broken country heal."
A divided nation won't put up with stories like this
for much longer. The anguish will keep building ...
The ghost of 'Black Mass': Gerard O'Neill
, co-author of the local classic 'Black Mass,' weighs in on the Billy saga -- taking aim at old 75 State Street. What a curious bunch of coincidences. Read until the end.
'I think it is still way too early ...':
Reader No. 1 on WMD (and see below his views on the local sporting scene):
"I haven't weighed on the WMD controversy. I think it is still way too early to come to conclusions about WMD. While I concede that was a major point that got politicians behind the war, I also think that was hardly the only criteria for taking out Saddam (see Instapundit
and many many others).
"I would not expect this article to change many minds overnight, but I think this Victor Davis Hanson's NRO column
makes a succint and powerful statement for why our foreign policy is the way that it is (and why it ought to be).
"It is not as exhaustive as Kagan nor as inspirational as Blair's affirmations this week, this week in Washington but it tells it like it is."
Hub Blog's response
: Glad to see a fellow conservative (of a slightly different ideological persuasion) agreeing that WMD were, in fact, a major part of the rationale for war. What has upset me so much is the way some conservatives, too busy cheerleading for Bush as the second coming of Churchill, almost immediately dismissed the WMD issue (i.e., Jeff Jacoby), as if the possibility that our government lied/embellished/screwed up isn't important. If this had been the Clinton administration, you can be damn sure the right would have gone ape-s#*t over the WMD fiasco and subsequent rhetorical flipflops.
Sports, sports, sports!:
Reader No. 1 has some excellent observations on the Celts, Sox and the now famous New Yorker piece on Bill James. Here goes:
"Peter May gives a quick pithy report
on the performance of Celtic draft picks Marcus Banks and Brandon Hunter after a week in the summer league. Conclusion: they're doing just about what we thought they would
. A Cincinnati hoop junkie familiar with him Hunter say he could be a decent NBA sub, perhaps a poor man's Danny Fortson (that would be OK with me, and a major improvement on the 2002-2003 Vin Baker). He sure had a great week in the summer league!! I nominate him as a Fleet future fan favorite.
"Glad the Celts signed Mark Blount and Walter McCarty
; they're good role players and, from a standpoint of financial productivity, Walter was a better choice than Rodney Rodgers, who as others have observed typically played better in his option year with the Celts than in the first year of his new Nets contract. While Rogers would have helped the Celts, I'd argue that re-signing miss looks worse than it really was in light of the Vin Baker disaster.
"Speaking of Vin Baker (again) it is somewhat disturbing to hear in the same Walter returning story that the Celts are thinking about signing Kenny Anderson. It puts up a bigger red flag on Marcus Banks' turnover stats (above) than already exists. Also, last year was Anderson's first as a sub/role player (presumably what he's be this time around in Boston?) and he underperformed for two teams...
"The Red Sox: finally read the Bill James profile
in the New Yorker which like MONEYBALL which inspired it, brought back found memories of the early 80s and arrival of a new edition of The Baseball Statistical Abstract. Certainly obvious to see why Dan Shaughnessy enjoyed the article. James and his disciples are as big a threat to sportswriters as they are to scouts, old-school general managers, coaches, etc.
"Good to see SOMEONE (Gordon Edes) observe how much Todd Walker's offense has fallen off in the last 6 weeks. Along with Johnny Damon's season-long ineffectiveness, the weak top-of-lineup goes a long way towards explaining why the team is still 4 games away from the Yanks despite OK starting pitching and much-improved bullpenning. I wouldn't be surprised to see Theo pull a surprise move and add someone at the top of the order on July 31st... check back with the Globe then, but you read it in Hubblog first."
‘We should all be nice to Dean ...’:
One of the joys of skipping over to Mickey Kaus’ site
is to see how many anti-John Kerry one-liner insults he can snap off. ... Here’s my favorite: “Anyway, we should all be nice to Dean until he fulfills his historic mission in New Hampshire -- saving the nation from John Kerry.” ... His views on ‘thinking outside the box’ are just as good. Enjoy.
‘Blair's undogmatic vision ...’:
A fine and fair editorial
about Tony Blair’s ‘undogmatic vision’ -- and the increasingly dogmatic foreign policies of George Bush and Jacques Chirac. From Blair to Congress:
''To be a serious partner, Europe must take on and defeat the anti-Americanism that sometimes passes for its political discourse. And what America must do is show that this is a partnership built on persuasion, not command.''
What I liked about Blair’s words -- and the Globe’s editorial -- was the balanced concerns about both American and French foreign policies. Increasingly, both sides are toying with outmoded visions of the world, the Americans with ‘Pax America’ neo-imperialism, the French with ‘balance-of-power’ neo-Napoleonism.
'The dismissive attitude toward the whole WMD issue'
: Hey, Hub Blog hasn't lost all of my readers. Brighton Reader writes in regarding my WMD semi-rants:
"The dismissive attitude toward the whole WMD issue by the administration and many of the war's supporters on the right is damaging their credibility.
"I supported the war even though I felt the diplomatic strategy the administration used was awful, waiting far too long to enlist the support of allies and other nations. It really seemed disdainful of the US post-World War 2 policy of creating and leading coalitions whenever possible. One of the reasons I supported the war were the arguments made by Blair, which I frankly found more persuasive than most of what came out of the White House and Pentagon. If this Tony Blair Democrat feels mislead, I wonder how the prime minister feels? What foreign leader or Democrat will support George Bush the next time he looks for help on an issue involving terrorism or WMD?
"The occupation is going to be tougher -- bloodier -- than the administration had anticipated. More foreign support and involvement would be welcome, but the eroding credibility of the primary justification for the war makes it tougher for other governments to commit.
"This Tom Friedman
column make some excellent points.
: "Too bad the Greenbush and Fall River/New Bedford lines are in such trouble. If budget considerations are going to delay both lines, better for Romney to announce it with a definite, revised schedule. Right now it seems that they both may end up being eliminated. The Greenbush line in particular may die a death of a thousand cuts given the ferocity of opposition from some quarters."
Hub Blog's response
: Don't remind me of the abomindable pre-war diplomacy of the administration, when it was drunk with its own righteous (and vastly misplaced) sense of Churhcillianism. ... 'Tony Blair Democrats.' I like it! ...
The Romney administration's commuter rail policy is extremely depressing and dumbfounding. Again: Blame Foy. He has a utopian -- or an apparent utopian -- idea that he can herd the masses into future Hobit Villages where the peasants will dance around May Poles and live happily ever after. He doesn't want new rail lines because they will cause 'sprawl' in nondeveloped areas. But some of us view new rails as a way to direct future, inevitable growth into as little
undeveloped areas as possible. He's living in lala land if my guess is right about his mindset. Growth in undeveloped areas will happen. The question are: How much? How do you limit the damage? He's dealing with idealist scenarios (no growth). I like to think I'm dealing with realistic scenarios (some controlled growth).
‘How much trouble Blair has amassed ...’:
Hope Americans appreciate what Tony Blair
has done for this country -- and the price he has paid for doing so at home. ... It will be refreshing to hear his eloquent views from the House chamber rostrum. I need a morale booster, after all the lame and dismisive explanations coming out of Washington about WMD.
Trust me: If Mr. Stock
and Herald colleague Mr. Wayne Woodlief
are raising the credibility issue, then Mr. Bush has major problems. ... Message to Mr. Jeff Jacoby
: Mr. Stock and Mr. Woodlief are not in a ‘lather these days,’ as much as Jeff wants to paint the WMD criticism as part of some sort of vast left-wing/press conspiracy.
‘The spoken-word tour of the Blogosphere ..’:
More from Chris Lydon
on blogging, today’s installment looking at (and listening to) David Weinberger
and Eugene Volokh
UMass and the Billy PR campaign:
This has to be the third or fourth op-ed
I've read by a UMass type shilling for Billy. Let me see, there was the student president extolling Billy's virtues. There was the alum president. Etc., etc. Now this. Spare me the assertion this isn't orchestrated. ... Remember how the Zip launched the letter-writing campaign before his own sentencing?
Good-bye, James Hook & Co.?:
A shameless plug here for Herald colleague Scott Van Voorhis, who has the scoop that the James Hook & Co.
on Atlantic Ave. may turn condo. Personally, I’m rooting for their tentative idea to run an “outdoor eatery on the deck of the adjacent, turn-of-the-century old Northern Avenue bridge, now closed to everything but foot traffic.” ... Best idea I've heard yet for the bridge. Sitting near the Barking Crab, it'll be lobster and fried-clam heaven.
‘Like the back of the classroom in junior high ...’:
Ah, this is why I miss blogging (see ‘How’s the Herald job going?’ below). Chris Lydon
is now exploring poet bloggers, one of them a local blogger, Jim Behrle
. ... Sort of like George Will and Ken Burns getting gooey over baseball, Chris sometimes sounds like he’s intellectually slumming through the blog world. But you know it’s not an act when he fires off a line like this: “It feels, as I said to Jim in conversation, like the back of the classroom in junior high school: the place where the liberated, funny, cool, dangerous, expressive cats hang out rather noisily.” ... Near perfection. ... The blog world also reminds me of smoky bars before the bourgeois hypochondriacs booted us out.
‘Fifty percent said Bush intentionally exaggerated ...’:
There’s a difference between ‘lying’ and ‘exaggerating,’ granted. No evidence has come up that indicates, to moi, that President Bush lied about WMD in Iraq. But it’s becoming abundantly clear, as Paul Wolfowitz has already admitted, that the administration launched a full-scale spin campaign before the war, pegging and exaggerating the war rationale on WMD. Like spin artists in a political campaign, they didn’t quite tell a lie, but they went right up to the edge. Spins over an opponent’s stand on, say, health care are one thing. Spins over why we should spill blood are another. The American people understand this -- and that’s why Bush is rightly paying the price in polls.
... Here’s a classic quote from the same WaPo article:
“ ‘If we have the capability of finding out that Joe Blow No-Name has dodged his taxes for the past 10 years, why don't we have the capability of . . . finding a foolproof method of finding out whether the intelligence we gather is accurate and making it rock-solid before we jump into another situation?’ said James Pike, 41, an auto mechanic from Ogdensburg, N.Y.”
has more on the issue. ... It’s not necessarily Rummy and Paul who are going to lose their jobs. It may well be Bush, if the reaction of Mr. Pike and others is any indication.
A new local George Higgins?:
Maybe that’s a stretch, but I really liked Dennis Lehane’s ‘Mystic River.’ Picked it up last week because of all the hullabaloo surrounding Clint’s upcoming flick, based on the Boston native’s book. While Lehane may not be a Higgins-caliber writer, he has a gritty style and tone that reminds me of George. Like some of Higgins’ work, ‘Mystic River’ floats somewhere in between true literature and deserved bestseller status, definitely tilting toward bestseller status. ... Hope Lehane doesn’t turn into a churn-’em-out Grisham factory, though I suspect that's where he’s headed.
How’s the Herald job going?:
I’ve gotten a lot of questions like that since starting work at One Herald Square. Answer: Great. From my perspective. Don’t know about my editors’ perspective. Glad I got back into reporting. My writing and reporting skills were extremely rusty, to say the least, after years of editing. ... Got a gentle constructive criticism/mini-lecture the other day from my editor: stick to simple declarative sentences. Couldn’t believe my ears when he said that. Why? ‘Cause he was right. After years of lecturing to reporters about the need for simple declarative sentences in news stories, I had the same lecture/hint/suggestion thrown back at me, now that I’m a reporter again. But it was good to hear. As I said, my writing and reporting skills were extremely rusty. ... Ah, Hub Blog. It has definitely suffered. Now that I’m actually covering news, I have less time and desire to actually read news. The last thing I want to do before and after work is troll through news articles, looking for something to write about. Hey, that’s my job -- and I don’t exactly want to take it home with me, too. So Hub Blog output has been way down. Also, there’s an undeniable discomfort about reporting and blogging at the same time. It’s fine for opinionated columnists to rant and rave about issues, in print or online, but when you’re actually covering people and they expect you to be fair and to keep your opinions to yourself, well, you tend to clam up, rightly so, even though you have strong opinions about the people you cover. And, believe me, I often have strong opinions about some of the people and issues I cover. So ... Bottom line: I’m still trying to figure out what to do with Hub Blog. Keep it on life support? Let it slip into a permanent cyber coma? We’ll see. ...
‘The worst hire in the history of television ...’
: John Ellis
savages you know who and you know what.
A conservative on conservatives on WMD: Doug Bandow
, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a former special assistant to President Reagan, on WMD:
“The answer matters for the simplest practical reasons. Possible intelligence failures need to be corrected. Washington's loss of credibility should be addressed; saying ‘trust me’ will be much harder for this president in the future or a future president. ...
“It is foolish to turn the Iraq war, a prudential political question, into a philosophical test for conservatism. It is even worse to demand unthinking support for Bush. He should be pressed on the issue of WMD - by conservatives. Fidelity to the Constitution and republican government demands no less.”
Dixie Chicks, Billy and Baghdad ...:
Buried in business news at the Herald, Hub Blog finally gets some energy and time to blog on a weekday morning -- and what do I see? Billy. Ugh. Think I’ll get back to business news, pronto. But before I do, read this Joan column
. She smacks it out -- old Boston vs. new Boston. It’s quite true. I’d extend it a bit: old Massachusetts vs. new
Massachusetts. The ‘burbs (and urban professionals) are subtly transforming politics in the Bay State. Highly educated and often not from these parts, they’re starting to assert themselves in ways that will upset both Democrats and Republicans, depending on the issue. They’re more conservative on fiscal matters. Liberal on social matters. Expect to see more opposition to taxes,
but support for, say, gay marriages etc. ... Speaking of old vs. new, the old council would have let this one ride through
, competing with Berkley and Cambridge to be the most PC hip council in the country. Forget about the Dixie Chicks’ position on the war. What I liked is that councilors are sticking to a ‘Boston-only’ philosophy about its ordinances. Good for them. ... Speaking of old and new, Wayne Woodlief
(pay to view) says the pay-hike veto set the tone for Mitt. He’s right. If he hadn’t vetoed that bill, well, ... And check out the CSM’s take
on what’s happening in Iraq. It’s slightly more encouraging than what other media outlets are reporting. Emphasis on ‘slightly.’ It’s still dangerous over there. ... Off to work!
Pardon, moi ...: You gotta love this.
... I didn’t know Robert Parker wielded so much power as publisher of The Wine Advocate.
‘After having seen Jason Kidd shred the team ...’:
Ask (or suggest) and you shall receive. Reader No. 1 on the Celts’ draft (see Theo item below):
“No reason not to, just time available to do it... since you asked about the Celtics, here are my observations on the draft and its implications, with these caveats:
“1. I have never seen these players play.
“2. I have also just finished reading a great book on the dangers of taking too narrow a view of the world.
“Nevertheless ... we're pretty sure the Celtics need a point guard, after having seen Jason Kidd shred the team leading the Net fastbreak, and watching the weirdly-configured offense where Antoine or Paul is the team's best passer at the perimiter. So, how did new boss Ainge do?
“ ** The most worrisome stat on Marcus Banks senior year at UNLV is his assist-turnover ratio, which was about 3 to 2. I don't have the data to know whether that is good, bad, or average for college basketball. I do know that JR Bremer (whom Banks will likely replace in the Celtic starting 5) had a ratio more like 3 to 1, and Tony Delk (who by all counts is not a point guard) had a 2 to 1 ratio last year.
“ ** The Celts pretty much live and die on the 3-pointer. Banks was a 33% shooter in his senior year from International Waters. That's better than Pierce (30%) and Walker (32%) but not as good as Bremer (35%) or Delk (39%).
“ ** Banks' reputation is as a tough defender and goes for steals. That should endear him to the coach; it suggests he'll be able to play at the Celtic breakneck pace.
“ ** I couldn't find anyone who commented on Banks' ability to drive the basket, which was the one quality of Kenny Anderson's we missed last year. If he could do that, collapsing defenses and then dishing to the wings, maybe Pierce and Walker could up their 3-point percentages (or heaven forbid, take higher percentage 2-pointers). That would help a lot.
“ ** Kendrick Perkins is a REAL project. The nicest thing I could find (on ww.hoophype.com) praised his good hands, plus he's 18. It's highly unlikely he'll get any kind of meaningful playing time with the present coach and rotation.
“ ** Brandon Hunter (the 2nd rounder) looks like he might succeed Grant Long as Walker's 6-mins-in-Q2 understudy. Actually Hunter's college rebounding and scoring numbers were pretty good. He's worth a look.
“ ** My guess is that this season is The Referendum on (a) Jim O'Brien and (b) Antoine Walker, allegedly already looking for an extension. What will Ainge do if O'Brien plays Delk and/or Bremer ahead of Banks? What will O'Brien do when Vin Baker makes his inevitable return? It's a little disturbing to see so
much of the post-season talk revolve around how little O'Brien has played Kedrick Brown, but then reportedly Kedrick is a fan of new co-owner Steve Pagliuca...
“ Peter May (I think) wrote a great Globe column on how O'Brien had successfully led 4 or 5 different Celtic teams in his short tenure here as the talent around Pierce and Walker turned over rapidly, so we should not underestimate the coach's ability to rapidly adapt. One way or the other, we will likely see a different approach to the game this season.”
Theo’s grand strategy and saving Fenway ...:
Reader No. 1 writes in:
; it is far and away Michael Lewis' best work and the 2nd most interesting business-social themed book I have read. It also makes a strong case for why there will not be a new Fenway until, say the year 2020. If Theo does what he's set out to do, i.e. win by selecting players who are both more skilled and more cost-effective (the Billy Beane formula), the Red Sox could actually REDUCE payroll in the long run, make more money for new ownership in the Lyrical Little Bandbox, and, dare I say it, erase the curse of the Bambino?
“The biggest obstacle to this strategy succeeding is not Theo's youth, Boston fans, Boston sportswriters, WEEI, or the YES network. The biggest obstacle is that the intelligent young men who are turning up in ever-increasing numbers running ballclubs will get there first. Exhibit A is J.P. Ricciardi's remarkable turnaround with the Blue Jays -- they're in our division. Better hope George Steinbrunner doesn't fire Brian Cashman and replace him with Beane lieutenant Paul dePodesta!”
Hub Blog's response
: While he's at it, maybe Reader No. 1 can tell us what he thinks of the Celts' draft. Moi? I liked it. A lot. Glad Ainge went for a point guard
. First time in years I've felt comfortable with the Celts' choices.
Smart growth, not-so-smart strategies
: Excellent story on the different strains within the New Urbanism/smart-growth
movement. I’m largely suspicious of the more radical ideas, viewing them as almost utopian and clearly ideological in intent. Obviously, I’m not alone. Here’s a quote from Andre Duany, one of the founding visionaries of New Urbanism:
''The fact is, the CNU/smart-growth movement has carelessly, through sloppy tactical thinking, listed to the political left. ... This has exposed us for the first time to powerful attacks from the right. Given the substance of our propositions, this is utterly unnecessary and untenable; our policies cannot come in and out with changes in government. What I have been executing is a
radical correction to regain our political balance. The public needs to see we are intellectually alive and not a monolithic organization.''
Bingo! Hub Blog has long supported the idea of creating/promoting compact neighborhoods. Mayor Menino, in particular, has a great feel for what makes a neighborhood work: Retail on the ground level, a mix of housing and office space on all other floors, elegant sidewalk designs, outdoor cafes and markets etc. He’s very Parisian and European in outlook, perhaps without knowing it. But Doug Foy et gang makes me nervous. I always viewed ‘smart growth’ as channeling people toward both old and new dense neighborhoods. But an increasing number of people in the smart growth movement favor a crackdown on any new development on virgin land -- and want to concentrate almost exclusively on areas that are already built up. That’s why Foy et gang oppose new rail lines, for instance: They’re afraid it will promote growth in new areas. The problem: It’s just not realistic. People will continue to build. The 'anti-sprawl' movement is really morphing into a politicized 'anti-growth' movement dominated by environmentalists, not by true development experts. ... The attempt to link 'smart growth' with obesity is laying on the PC a bit thick, no? It's government nannyism -- again. ... The trick is to make new compact neighborhoods, often on virgin land, that are attractive for residents as a result of convenient transportation (i.e. rail), quaint designs, easy accessibility to stores and restaurants by foot etc. -- as well as heavily promote development within existing urban environments. Repeat: It should be a combination of the two: dense neighborhood building in both old and
‘He can throw red meat to his fringe constituencies ...’
: Ted Kennedy
is cooing about cooperation, but what he’s really doing is throwing down the gauntlet on upcoming U.S. Supreme Court nominations. ...
They’re still Honey Dip Donuts
: Reader Savin Hill writes in to express his surprise the Herald didn’t run the Krispy Kreme grand opening on Page 1 last week. Reader Savin Hill:
“FYI: I thought for sure the Krispy Kreme story would be on page 1. I think a week of coverage on Krispy Kreme would not be over-doing it. They pass out piping-hot fresh donuts to people in line -- I mean, can Dunkin Donuts with their ‘I-barely-speak-English-but-please-fill-the-tip-jar’ employees beat that? First, Dunkin doesn't make their donuts onsite anymore (most of the stores
get em from the commissary truck), and secondly ... I mean there is no secondly ... piping hot glazed donuts ..mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.”
Hub Blog’s response
: Savin Hill is obviously succumbing to a Andy Warhol/Professional Wrestling campy attack. ... Listen closely: Krispy Kreme’s doughnuts are nothing more, nothing less than honey-dip doughnuts that we used to eat after church in the ‘60s and ‘70s, along with chocolate-covered doughnuts with jimmies etc. etc. Krispy Kreme? I’ll take my DD jelly cruller any day.