‘Me, me, me’: Joan
brings up a good point about Mitt as he eyes the White House: his stated wishy-washy position(s) on abortion, clearly leaning toward abortion rights, based on his recorded 2002 rhetoric. Hmmmm. How big is the GOP tent these days? ... Is flip-flop with a dash or without a dash? I can never remember. ... Get your Mitt 2008 bumper stickers, coffee mugs and sweatshirts here
So the 2004 legislative push was a one-shot wonder. Mitt blames the setback on the big wave of local support for Kerry. But wouldn’t that make a resumed 2006 offensive logical seeing there won’t be a local presidential candidate on the ballot? ... What Mitt isn’t saying -- but has been said elsewhere, including here -- is that the typically dysfunctional local GOP is once again packing it in, instead of accepting the less glamorous notion that building a viable two-party state was always going to be a long and difficult process with only incremental progress. Mitt deserves a lot of credit for recognizing that the struggle for change starts at the legislative level -- and for doing something about it. But Mitt was absurdly wrong for choosing an all-or-nothing strategy in 2004. ... No wonder the Trav and Sal are smug these days.
‘Early warning sign’:
Reader No. 1 is still steaming over the Ellis list and expands on blogs in general (also see post below, with updates):
“I expect to see more Ellis-like disappointments now that 2004 was the unofficial Year of the Blog and boring old news outlets trumpet the importance of Blogs, like Channel 5 (this morning, can't find the link on their site, but no loss) and Fortune
(cover story of new issue).
“Shortly, we will be thoroughly oversaturated with Best-of-the-Year-type crap as the pioneers start turning attention elsewhere to the next big thing. Early warning sign: how often essential sites like (Sullivan) get handed over by the founders to guest hosts... Like all enthusiasm and technology curves, the boom is overheating and will shortly bust against the tide of expectations. But eventually, we start a new boom."
is noticing his own early warning signs. ...
‘It may well have [derailed] the deal’:
Tough to sympathize with either side in the pay issue for Massachusetts judges.
There’s the Supreme Judicial Court making up laws and imposing them on lawmakers and the people. There’s the Legislature’s regulars ‘who see their local courts as patronage havens.’ ... How about cutting a few hundred patronage jobs the courts didn’t request and using the savings for both pay raises and deficit reduction? ... Sal wouldn’t do that. Does not compute. Must find way to blame Mitt.
Mia Hamm, Peyton Manning and Derek Jeter?:
John Ellis’ weird symbiotic relationship with Boston continues. His list is a bust.
No mention of Pats or Sox, though there’s an oblique reference to the ALCS seventh game as the ‘best night.’ But Mia, Peyton and Derek are mentioned. Oh well. ... Mitt is the ‘GOP’s best hope in 2008’? Maybe I’m suffering from a mild case of familiarity breeding contempt. But if Mitt’s the GOP’s best hope in 2008, then 2004 wasn’t the watershed year some Republicans claim. ...
-- John Kerry
apparently hasn't ruled out a 2008 rerun. I wouldn't be a bit surprised. He's dreamed and shaped his entire life around becoming president. ... Read the last four paragraphs. Mandatory. Vintage Kerry.
-- Reader No. 1 on the list: "Cringeworthy."
-- Reader No. 1 asks that I put up the rest of his comments about John's list. I thought "cringeworthy" said it all. But here it is: "His cringeworthy 2004 list is the Blogosphere equivalent of the flabby old Larry King columns in USA Today. And I agree with a number of these choices (Lileks, Real Clear, Kausfiles). John, either write the blog or don't!" ...
‘To prove his sights are set on Beacon Hill’:
Hub Blog would submit that any sitting governor
who has to launch a campaign to prove he’s focused on local governing is a sitting governor who wasn’t focused on local governing. ... How bad is it? Bob Travaglini and Sal DiMasi are getting smug. ... More on the smug factor later.
‘Who dared insult the president’:
Reader No. 1 sends in a piece on Vladimir Putin
by Harvard’s Niall Ferguson and asks my thoughts. ... I guess I would respond that I liked this article better
, in which Putin’s Russia resembles more a throwback to the Brezhnev era. Ferguson’s comparison to Hitler strikes me as an overdone reach-into-the-historic-grab-bag analogy. ... But what the heck do I know? The gut still tells me Putin looks upon authoritarian China capitalism as more of a model, with a shared conviction his country is 'ungovernable' without authoritarian leadership. Either way, it’s not good.
-- Armchair Gen. Savin Hill: "Putin is a Soviet technocrat." ... Well, that settles that.
They’re trying to raise awareness of the French and Indian War
in New York. Interesting. .... The article mentions a great book, ‘The Crucible of War,’
by Fred Anderson, which I highly recommend. Anderson and a co-author, Andrew Cayton, are coming out with a new book on Monday, ‘Dominion of War.’
... One of the most influential but underappreciated (at least in America) statesmen has to be William Pitt, Britain’s leader during the Seven Years’ War, as ‘F&I’ is known in Europe and Canada. Pitt, the elder one, changed the course of world history -- especially North America’s -- with his ambitious, daring war strategy. Read Anderson’s 'Crucible of War' to find out how and why.
-- Reader No. 1 has his own book recommendation: "If you have not bought yourself a Christmas or New Year's present yet, invest in this book.
It is a refreshing break from typically war-and-politics dominated history - they are here too, but in a new context."
Happy New Year:
And Happy New Year!
Of course the Herald had it!: John, John, John.
… Of course the Herald had the touching Christmas tear-jerker special
on the drunk who woke up from a coma when ordered by his boss. … The Herald: It knows everything.
Blue State 3, Red States 1:
Pats over Carolina. Sox over St. Louis. Kerry loses to Bush. But BC
bounces back against NC
, averting a tie and giving Boston the edge in 2004. Take that, you damn rebels! ... John Forbes Kerry, you spoiled a perfect season. Of course, for the million Massachusetts residents who voted for Bush, it was
a perfect season. ... No matter what happens in 2005, we still have our thumbs to suck and Sox DVDs to watch.
-- John Ellis
is 'sifting through billions of data points' before releasing his tardy best-worst list of 2004. ... Show us the list, John!
How bad is the Bechtel Turnpike Authority?:
The feds don’t trust it. The governor doesn’t trust it. The AG doesn’t trust it. Nor even lawmakers. Who else can the Turnpike annoy? The mayor? The speaker? The pope? Nelson Mandela? Elie Wiesel? Wayne
has more. ...
Seeing is believing:
Great shots of the Tsumani waves
hitting the beach (via JDaley
). ... I covered the Mississippi River floods in the early ‘90s out in the Midwest. At its very worst, a flood scene looked like the second photo. Typically, water rose and trickled ahead at a slow pace. Nothing like the Tsumanis. ...
Iraq as a battlefield:
What’s done is done. There’s a war in Iraq. But I can’t get out of my mind the calls, the boasts, the braggadocio of those who cried, ‘Bring ‘em on. Fight ‘em all in one place.’ Well, they’re there now. Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
... But now we do have to fight them in one place. They can’t be allowed to stop the elections.
‘Would have helped him curry favor with lawmakers’: Oh poor lawmakers.
Mitt won’t play hack ball with them. ... I didn’t know Mitt vetoed 63 bills. I’m impressed. I’m even more impressed that so many of them have been upheld. ... Are we supposed to be horrified and/or impressed that ex-lawmakers Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift, two of the weakest governors in modern state history, had different strategies for dealing with legislators? ... Question of the day: Curry favor for what
‘Politics is my business’:
After criticizing Mitt for engaging in ‘politics, not government,’ Michael Capuano
pronounces, ‘Politics is my business.’ ... Mitt faces his own momentous decision
: To move or not to move state workers to Dudley Square? The entire columnist vote may hinge on a correct answer. ...
The ‘other side’ of Christmas:
Old-fashioned black-and-white photos over at JDaley’s site.
‘It’s so beautiful’:
Hub Blog won the family’s annual Christmas Best Present Present yesterday: a miniature Leg Lamp
immortalized by dad and Ralphie in 'A Christmas Story.'
It’s already in my front apartment window, hopefully appalling the neighbors. ... The Hub Blog parents give out the Best Present Present each year, as a tradition, to make sure the quality of Yankee grab presents doesn't fall to the level of Shaw’s and Brigham’s gift certificates. I knew my present would win (see local stocking stuffers below). ... I also won a Hot Diggity Dogger
a number of years ago. Still have it. Works fine. Envy of the late-night crowd. ...
More on Rummy: More on Rummy’s
style and reform efforts, from a 2003 article (via Barry -- and thanks).
‘What a difference a week makes’: Tony
on the latest moves by Theo, who’s also the Globe’s ‘Bostonian of the Year.’
... Poor John Kerry. ... I personally think Theo, this off-season, has done a pretty darn good job, considering how many free agents we stood to (and did) lose. He went for broke last summer, trading Nomar, in part because he knew what awaited the team after the season. Makes the Series triumph all that more remarkable. ...
-- To the two readers who didn’t get my John Ellis item: It was a joke. ... Then again, it’s obvious
John wants to praise the Sox, so it’s probably Karl Rove who’s holding up the list and blocking a Rose Garden reception. .... Show us the list, Karl!
Merry Christmas - and here’s a great war-book stocking stuffer: George Will
has a good Christmas column on ‘Washington’s Crossing,’
by Brandeis University’s David Hackett Fischer, a truly great debunker of revisionists’ sour-puss rewriting of American history. ... Fischer is also the author of the classic ‘Paul Revere’s Ride,’
a homage to a simple silversmith whose midnight ride into history was more heroic than Longfellow conveyed. ...
Merry Christmas - and here are great local stocking stuffers:
Actually, they’re not stocking stuffers. Combined, they’re my planned family Yankee grab present. The kit includes: NESN’s ‘Faith Rewarded’ DVD of the 2004 Sox season, the Herald and Globe’s glossy collectors’ magazines on the season, a framed Herald front-cover of the Series win (the ‘Amen’ version) --
and thrown in, for special orgasmic delight, the NFL’s special 2-disc collection of the Pats’ Superbowl XXXV1 and XXXVIII victories. ... No one is going to beat my present.
... And even if family members read this blog this morning, the stores are closed and they can’t outdo me. Unless they thought of the same idea beforehand. Which, come to think of it, they probably did. Which, come to think of it, may prompt me to merrily select my own present. ...
-- John Ellis
promised a post on the ‘best and worst’ of 2004, in the ‘week before’ Christmas. He failed to do so. We all know why. Or Hub Blog knows why. You see, the Pats and Sox would have to be on the list at least two or three times. But we all know who John’s cousin is. And we all know the White House has diabolically refused to honor the Sox at the Rose Garden until it’s too late. And we all know how that certain cousin also just recently defeated yet another sacrificial candidate from Boston and yet fears recognition of the Sox might diminish his own victory. ...
Fess up, John! Show us the list!
The Putin Factor:
For some strange reason, I can’t get enough of President Putin
, whose logic and bluntness are almost refreshing, definitely disarming. ... He’s wrong about the effective nationalization of Russia’s energy industry. But he’s right about how privatization was botched in the ‘90s. He’s wrong about the Ukraine elections. But he’s right when he says Russia is being isolated. ... Etc, etc. An interesting and beguiling guy who’s taking Russia God knows where, though I suspect he’s more than comfortable with Chinese-style authoritarian capitalism . ...
‘The woolly ideal of government-business partnership’:
Need a good Fannie Mae 101 course to understand today’s ongoing scandal? Read this article by Matthew Cooper
, written seven years ago (via Mickey Kaus
, who’s all over the issue) ... Right up there with ‘world-class city,’ Hub Blog despises the phrase ‘public-private partnership.’ Cooper explores its logical outcome, writ large.
That quaint Yankee magazine:
By and large, I like the recent editorial changes at Yankee magazine
(articles not available online). But as a long-time and satisfied subscriber, I’ve been noticing some disturbing trends of late from the folks up in Dublin, N.H. This month’s issue is, well, in full upper middle-class haute bourgeoisie
overdrive, with a distinct liberal tilt. Lauding those who have made ‘significant marks on New England,’ an article highlights the African-American president of Brown, the gay Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, the former campaign manager for John Kerry, an environmentalist etc. etc. There are also an artist, writer, an organic farmer, organic restraunteur. You get the picture. There's also Chris Berman. Wait. What's he doing in there? ... And, whew, the huge ‘country’ homes they now highlight. ... And there’s an article on Drumlin Farm’s winter vegetables in Lincoln. ... And a salute to ‘Barn Raiser Award Winners’ and an article on Hearthstone stoves, with a photo of a young man wearing wool socks, dungarees, a lumber-jack shirt -- and reading the NYT Book Review section. ...
I know Yankee has always sold a False Universe image of New England, where everything is quaint, just as the Improper Bostonian
sells a False Universe image of Boston, where everything is Manhattan chic. But Yankee magazine's universe seems to be narrowing to an alarming degree ...
The dullest announcement in political history:
Mitt says he’s running for reelection (stories here
HE. SOUnds. Really. excited. ... Zzzzzzzz. .... Energy, Mitt! Energy! ... The job can’t be that bad. Or could it?
... ‘I picked up my pen to sign a bill. I put the pen down when the phone rang.’
‘Worth a thousand words’: Good column
about a sad photo from Iraq. ... Belmont Club
a few days ago was getting all worked up over the photo, seeing media plots or lack thereof or whatever the media obsession of the day was about. The apparent crime: describing a photo exactly the way it appeared. ... Armchair Gen. Savin Hill and I were recently talking about old Rummy. Our non-conclusion conclusion: How do you get rid of the guy without letting the old Army take over the Pentagon so they can really
screw up future wars? ...
‘Mass. man in bloody duel with rabid fox at party’: The epic story
and the quote: ``I took a cutlery knife and ended its life. I twisted the knife just to be sure.'' ... The hope: Here kitty, kitty, kitty.
Gosplan, meet Gazprom:
It’s back to a command economy
in Russia. ... Industry nationalization is bad enough. Industry nationalization through lies, brute force and without legislation spells huge trouble. Not good.
Common sense breaks out on NYT op-ed page:
My head is hurting. Nicholas Kristof
is actually tipping his hat to Christian conservatives who are increasingly active in Third World issues, while William Safire
makes a ‘grudging concession of tactical misjudgment’ on Iraq. ... Is that a man biting a dog outside my Hub Blog window? ...
The Kristof piece is actually more interesting and gracious. Safire’s quickie concession is followed up by yet more cocky rhetoric about letting events play out in Iraq. But of course we can’t pull out of Iraq now. So we’ll be forced to see how it plays out -- and can only hope conservatives like Safire in the future don’t remain silent again when their constructive criticism might be helpful. But Kristof tackles a far more intriguing subject of the Christian right getting involved in a host of international issues, including the genocide in Darfur. During my travels to Africa a few years back, I was struck by the number of American evangelical groups slogging it out in faraway places, like Chad. They were the target of lots of snickering by old-fashioned NGO types. But they also had the grudging admiration of many NGO types. Their commitment to pragmatic, small-scale, decentralized solutions were quite contrary to the idealistic, big-picture, centralized solutions of traditional aid programs. Many in the NGO world are also pushing for more micro-aid solutions, but not enough of them are doing so. ... President Bush’s landmark international AIDS program appears to have sprung from Christian pressure: Spend money to combat AIDS but don’t funnel it all through big bureaucratic organizations.
‘A clash of cultures’:
Americans vs. Europeans? Israelis vs. Arabs? Nope. New England fishing fleets
following tuna to Carolina ports. ... Meanwhile, a 75-foot New Bedford scalloper is missing off of Nantucket.
... What is it about New England fishermen that garners such intense interest? It’s obviously part nostalgia. It’s a dying industry. But it also reminds us that somewhere out there are old-fashioned men doing old-fashioned dangerous work to put food on our plates. The white-collar world, despite all its comfort and abundance, is still a bore. ...
‘Partly a rear-action battle against Rumsfeld's ideas’: David Ignatius
nails it today over Rummy -- he’s getting set up as the scapegoat. Ignatius is a tough critic of Rummy’s handling of Iraq, but he does touch upon his strengths and wise vision for a modern military. Some of today’s calls for ‘more troops’ are indeed coming from ‘advocates of the old, heavyweight Army’ who have ‘never forgiven Rummy for advocating lighter, more mobile forces.’ ... The tragedy for/of Rumsfeld is that he seems to have failed to distinguish between light combat forces and more hefty occupation forces. He proved the theory of light combat forces in Afghanistan and Iraq -- and then undermined his own argument by not separating the occupation phase from the equation. ...
... Fifty-six percent
of Americans conclude that the conflict in Iraq was ‘not worth fighting,’ according to a new poll. But 58 percent support keeping military forces in Iraq until ‘civil order is restored.’ The next time a Michael Moore type criticizes the intelligence of the American people, remember these findings. They strike me as very ‘nuanced,’ if that’s the right word, and reflect a pragmatic mindset that takes on problems as they come. Forget about the arguments for or against the war. Pulling out now would be a disgrace. Deal with the issues of today, not yesterday.
A good humbling is good now and then:
Next time someone pokes fun of Bill for overestimating teams in the week before a game, please recall last night’s choke by the Pats to Miami.
... The Pats play better themselves when they’re underestimated. So the loss of home-field advantage in the playoffs is not that disturbing.
It’s become a cliche, but, as they’re saying too often these days, thank you. ... Hub Blog is already looking forward to the 10th and 20th championship anniversary gatherings. I’d like to see how all these guys turn out.
‘People are wacky about their pets’: This proves it.
‘For hard-core Che Guevara enthusiasts’:
They know a good vacation spot
when they see it, but they still don’t get history. ... Hmmmm. How about a Generalleutnant Hyazinth Graf Strachwitz von Gross-Zauche und Comminetz
tour across Poland, France, the Balkans and Russia -- and back? Hey, I mean, a serious appreciation of the consequences of one’s ideology doesn’t seem to matter. ... Christopher Hitchens
, by coincidence, reviews a book on Hippies. Hitchens: ‘The marketing of the 60's has come to necessitate the blending of quite discrepant images: the dogs of Selma and the bearded Puritans of the Cuban revolution, along with the moon-faced narcissists and dropouts of Haight-Ashbury and the groupie-draped avatars of rock.’
‘Sox head backwards’:
Disagree a bit with Tony
on whether the Sox are going backwards. They are. But what did we expect? Look at the ‘Free Agent Watch’
(scroll down) and think how this team could have been devastated. One more pitcher. And sign Veritek. If the Sox do that, Theo will be a miracle worker. ... FYI: Clements
is not that pitcher.
‘Schilling, Schilling, Schilling!’:
I’ve defended Pedro against hysteria. But when hysteria reaches high art of mischief and humor, you gotta laugh and say, ‘Bravo!’ ... Comparing Pedro to Jan Brady.
Here kitty, kitty, kitty: ‘Mountain lions move east.’
... Great White shark terrorizes the Cape. Coyotes in the Arnold Arboretum. Imagine the Herald if mountain lions actually showed their blood-thirsty fangs in Massachusetts. ... Black bears just don’t cut it. Too cuddly. Now grizzly bears are a different matter. ... If there’s a tabloid god, he’s leaving a trail of steak tips right to Wellesley.
Oh those clever WWII comparisons:
Remember the oh-so-clever mocking comparisons of post-combat Iraq to post-war Germany, complete with reference to the Saturday Evening Post? They were so funny. Except no Nazi resistance ended up taking over entire German cities, killing more than a thousand American GIs, murdering even more civilians. Not so cleverly insightful in retrospect. ... Now they’re up to the same tired tricks of comparing news coverage
of Iraq today to how the Battle of the Bulge might have been covered
60 years ago. ... Well, at least they’re finally acknowledging there’s a ‘war’ with real ‘battles.’ ...
One pitcher away:
Still support the Sox management, but it's still painful to see Pedro in New York
and in another uniform. ... One pitcher away. That's all we need to break even on this year's free-agent market that so many people rightly dreaded a year ago and even during the happy days immediately following the Championship. Wells is merely a filler for Lowe. The Pedro gap must now be filled. Theo has done well so far in a difficult situation -- and it's far from over. ... Edgar. What can ya say? ... Jayson's signing becomes more important. ...
- 12.17.04 -- Randy Johnson in a Yanks uniform
is also painful, but expected. ... You know who
thinks Pedro is hanging himself with his own words. Here's another lots-of-quotes piece
that alleges the same thing. But I just see the same old Pedro. The same guy who we've known the past seven years and during a championship season. I'll take those years and the trophy over anything Pedro might now say or do at Shea. ... In retrospect I wish the Sox had concentrated a bit more on Pavano, who arguably slipped to the Yanks while the Sox made one last glide across the dance floor with Pedro. ...But we might not have gotten Edgar. And so ... One more pitcher. Two if Curt is really ailing. ...
‘Strange but true: Massachusetts’: George Will
blows into town to blow a kiss at Mitt, suggesting he might need experience in D.C. before running for president. But Mitt says no, no, no.
... Did Ronnie or Bill or George W have D.C. experience prior to running? John Kerry did. ...
FYI: Will’s column is nothing but a source-building resume recital filled with flowery words. But such things are important to Mitt, thus explaining his healthcare bill.
‘Isn't it great to have the New York Times flailing ...’:
Reader No. 1 noticed the same thing as moi: the NYT dumping on everything Red Sox. There’s this column
and this column
and, a day after Edgar is snapped up, this item.
It’s as if they don’t quite understand what’s going on up here, a new paradigm that doesn’t fit into the old paradigm. ... Reader No.: “Isn't it great to have the New York Times flailing about the Red Sox and loyalty?” ... Almost as sweet as seeing George reacting to Theo.
Come out, come out, whereever you are:
Know this is old, but the brave Bill Kristol
is blasting Rummy. After the election. Of course. So it’s safe, worker bees, to start criticizing the obvious. ... But the real story is this: many in the Pentagon already know about the Iraq blunders and, to their great credit, are intellectually exploring the future. David Ignatius
takes note. The Pentagon is also working hard behind the scenes to assess what militarily happened and what can be done in the future (see ‘Going for the brains,’
parts I and II).
‘Friends, he made up his mind a long time ago’:
OK, OK. Uncle. I give up. Reader No. 1 and Andre chime in on Pedro and note it wasn’t just the ownership who let Pedro drift into Hub history.
Reader No. 1:
“Friends, he made up his mind a long time ago on his intentions - please check out that valedictory post-game 3 Press Conference farewell.
“And so did the Red Sox; Gammons
has the numbers in the middle of his fine (ever so slightly bitter) recap.
“And speaking of those numbers... the most important (and unnoticed) article about the Red Sox was published this year in the Ziff-Davis publication 'Baseline'
and tells A LOT about how the team evaluates and selects talent. A very few simple rules about judging value are supported by a lot of very complicated number crunching. Even if you read Moneyball, etc, you'll learn a lot from this article.
Also, so long Orlando Cabrera. He gave us 3 wonderful months. But Edgar Renteria is better.
Now... who will be first with a Hanley Ramirez for AJ Burnett rumor?
“We all know that the Sox had mixed feelings about Pedro, and we all know why, but obviously they made a serious effort to sign him -- within limits. He wasn't handled like Lowe and Cabrera, or like Clemens and Vaughn in the previous administration. If the Mets hadn't flipped out at the end, they would have kept him. I do think their concerns about his health kept them from locking him up last winter, as they certainly should have done had he been healthy. There isn't much ‘testing the waters’ outside (oddly) Minnesota -- once the auction begins, the high bidder wins (or
in this case ‘wins’).”
'Awful Plastic Surgery': Yes, there's a site.
... Sharon Stone
better not appear on it. ... Thanks to Armchair Gen. Savin Hill, proving once again his importance to the war on terrorism, for the tip.
Update - 12.16.04
-- Couple people emailed to say the Awful Plastic Surgery site is tres, tres old. ... Sorry. Thought I was being cutting-edge hip. I hadn't seen it.
But I did connect it to Sharon. So that makes the post retro hip.
Mitt’s version of No Child Left Behind?: Mitt
seems desperate to have his healthcare plan passed. All the more reason to look upon it with deep suspicion. ...
‘He is gone, and that is unfortunate, but ...’:
Before the emotional Pedro bashing gets out of hand, read Tony Massarotti’s
thoughtful remembrance and analysis. Pedro gave us seven great years and helped the Sox win the first World Series in 86 years. Truly memorable times. ... Now to some gut-instinct analysis of my own: The Sox simply didn’t want to sign him. Not for four years, certainly. Three years, more a PR move. Two years, well OK. I’m with the Sox on this one. You have to bite the bullet and move on. Inevitable comparisons are being made to Roger Clemens. But the better comparison is to Nomar. A popular but injured player in his last contract year is strung out so as to make it look like ownership did everything in its reasonable power to keep him but ... I was angered by the Nomar trade at the time. Now I -- and millions others -- see its proven wisdom. Thanks for the memories and good luck, Pedro. ...
... Another good Pedro story is by ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
... A truly awful article is by the NYT’s Murray Chass
, who starts out mentioning Harry Frazee (get it?) and how Harry ‘befouled’ the Sox (horror!) but then notes it’s an ‘old and no longer relevant story’(huh?). And he brings up A-Rod.
'He's definitely in this region': Osama
is still in the region of Afghanistan? Getting approval from crazy clerics to nuke U.S. cities? At least we have Saddam. ... Remember all the macho talk on the far right about Osama being dead? They just knewwwwwww he was dead. Well, surprise, surprise. He pops up before the election. His whereabouts are roughly known. They have been for a while ...
-- Thanks, Pakistan.
‘WEEI news reader Pete Sheppard chokes on his cannoli’:
Theo is on the march (here
) and once again the Sox dominate the sports news. Edgar Renteria? ... Is it my imagination or does Theo feign interest in certain players, driving up the price and then walking away? ... Weekends like this were made for the Dirt Dogs.
... Now who do the Pats play today?
-- Charlie Weis
is headed to Norte Dame. Big, big move for Charlie. Equally big for the Pats. They didn't play all that well the season he had his tummy problems. Now this. Happy for the guy. But ...
‘The Passive Gopher Defense System’:
Reacting to an article by yours truly on Raytheon’s new microwave Active Denial System
heat beam, Armchair Gen. Savin Hill sends along classified information on Raytheon’s next secret weapon.
Armchair Gen. Savin Hill, showing why he’s a general, adds the following:
“The Passive Gopher Defense System (PGDS) is world-famous. It is the only weapons system that is both NLTH (non-lethal to humans), but is remarkably effective as a KOGD system (kills other gophers dead). The PGDS answers the question: How are we defending American gophers from terrorism? Especially the very real threat of GDT (gopher-delivered terrorism). Properly armed, American gophers now provide a new first line of defense against GDTs and similar rodent-delivered threats.”
Now explain to me where the ‘competition’ is:
Catching up a bit after a hectic week, I was struck by this article
a few days ago about the BRA launching a design competition for new Greenway buildings. One important rule for this alleged exercise in creativity: Do as the BRA dictates. ... Sure sounds like the self-appointed elite architects are still employing the same condescending lines about ‘red brick’ and the old-vs.-new, blah, blah, blah. They already have an idea what they want. So why the "competition"? They stipulate what designs should and shouldn't look like, right down to the "transparent exteriors, multiple entrances, and the use of shiny, modern materials." In other words, they're going for glass and steel buildings. ... Where do bureaucrats get off hijacking the design process like this? Why do I have a horrible feeling we’re about to get the type of modern, shiny up-scale banality you see at suburban office parks?
... Ooooooo. Shiny new steel trestles covered in glass at multiple entrances. As if we’ve never seen that before. ...
Charlie Baker?: Charlie Baker?
... Sometimes a safe, smooth, establishment type has his name rise to the surface, before he’s pulled down to the gutter and mugged by others scrambling to the top. Then the campaign really begins. ... Disagree a bit with Joan about whether the gov race is shaping up to be ho-hum. I think it’s headed in a fine direction, i.e. nasty, negative primary infighting with first-class nincompoop potential. ... Please, Michael, run. Pleasssse.
‘This affects the security of our fragile suburbs’:
This is a French politician talking about Muslim-dominated towns
in France, as if they’re tense colonial outposts with DMZs. ... The French have one hell of a problem on their hands.
Should have taken the $60 million, Nomar:
And still catching up after a busy week, I’m sure glad the Sox offer of four years at $60 million wasn’t snapped up by Nomar, now that the market shows he’s only worth one year at $8 million
, with incentives that could drive it up to $11 million. Let me see: four times 8 equals 32 -- or four times 11 equals 44 and ... Enough savings either way to sign: David Wells!
-- Wells' signing is not exactly a classic Moneyball move. Somewhat surprised. But it does show they're going for another World Series with the current approximate core. ... I'm not so sure about this move.
Hollywood Boulevard and Times Square:
I’ll believe the Theater District has truly rebounded if and when Shear Madness
finally departs. Nunsense. ... But I still like the idea of a Hub walk of fame.
What killed the ‘human drama of athletic competition’?:
Reader No. 1 writes in about Andre’s email below (‘A real and permanent shift in the Boston sports scene’) and answers my question about what happened to Wide World of Sports. First, the WWS explanation:
“What killed ‘the human drama of athletic competition’? The answer's not so hard and you already know it: ‘57 Channels and Nothing On.’ Bruce Springsteen as usual got it half-right. Actually, I have about 257 channels on my DirecTV and cable systems and there is plenty on, much of it sports:
“I have ESPN and ESPN2... and now, ESPN HD!
“I have ESPN Classic (love those 30 year-old ‘NFL Game of the Week’ programs with the great theme music DA-DA-DA-DADADA and the 20 year old Celtic-Laker playoff games) ...
“I have about 20 Fox Sports Net Channels (some of which are NOT playing ‘The Best Damn Sports Show...’)
“I have Fox Sports World and can watch Manchester United Football!
“I can watch pro basketball on the NBA Channel... for a few dollars more, I can watch every out of town NBA game.
“I now have the NFL Channel! And I LOVE the NFL Sunday Ticket!
“I have SPEED VISION! Lots of car races. I feel like a Red Stater.
“During the Olympics, I had those on about 5 different NBC-owned cable channels...”
Now for Andre’s ‘ thought provoking’ points:
“1. I agree that the baseline attendance numbers have increased on at least 3 of 4 pro sports here over the last 20 years (Bruins excepted, which has more to do with how Jacobs has run the team for steady profit, not for championships). The key factor is surely the increase in corporate ticket sales (not just boxes).
“2. That still doesn't mean the Bird years weren't a Boston basketball aberration. (I hate double negatives!)
“3. The ESPN-driven explosion of televised sports as mass entertainment industry, and general fragmentation of common public interest, is surely a factor in the region not getting behind a single amateur team or event. But is it really true that there is less interest in amateur sports lately? How about all the High School Super Bowl coverage last week and at least two local TV channels? (And it's been like that for years.) My local leafy community has 3 to 5 soccer games going on simultaneously at the same field complex on every fall and spring Saturday morning. I think a more likely explanation is that as the Boston area has become increasingly suburbanized since the 1960s, and the range of sports in which kids participate has grown (soccer obvious, but also tennis and golf), the high level of interest in high school sports is diffused over a broader region of physical and mental geography. ...”
That’s 3 cents. But the points are well taken.
Going for the brain, Part II:
Outstanding article in this morning's WSJ
on the lessons the military is learning in Iraq (sub. req.). ... Get a print copy if need be. It's worth it. Page 1. ... Bottom line: Killing the brain doesn't always work. But the story, though it hints at one point that Pentagon brass are reassessing 'light' warfare, makes clear a variation of light warfare and smarter occupations are needed. ...
Personal moralism vs. social moralism:
Ding, ding, ding! Fascinating article in CSM
about how some mainline Protestant churches -- i.e. liberal -- are starting to reemphasize personal morality instead of just societal morality. ... In post-election analysis, some Dem leaders, including Hillary Clinton, urged Dems to start taking religion more seriously as huge motivating factors for voters. But the suggested approaches sounded politically contrived and tired: more emphasis on ‘poverty’ and ‘inequality,’ etc. In other words, socialism. But it’s that very lack of ‘personal moralism’ that has turned off so many people, leading to falling attendance at mainline churches from rural Maine to urban Manhattan. Maybe that’s changing. Connecting the personal to social is the essence of religion -- or so I was taught, as a Doughnut Catholic. ... Typical Hub Blog family conversation on Sundays when I was young:
Hub Blog Dad: Get ready for church.
Hub Blog: I’m not going!
Hub Blog Dad: No doughnuts for you then.
Hub Blog: Oh, OK!
Going for the brain:
Someone asked me why I wasn’t posting on Iraq. Guess the answer is: Not so sure how it’s going -- and I’m waiting for the January elections like everyone else. But if you want to read a great story that I think encapsulates both the frustrations and hopes, then read this John Burns article
about how the Marines are targeting very specific clans and henchmen. ... Not to harp on John Boyd again, but one of the aims of new war doctrines is to kill the brain of an enemy. The Marines are trying to do it. That’s the hopeful sign. The frustrating sign is how war planners didn’t have a clue until recently the complexity of Iraqi society and where the brain(s) might be located. ... And, oh, it’s not just about foreign terrorists sneaking into Iraq. They’re there. But the insurgency is much deeper and more complex. ...
.... Somewhat along the same lines: Armchair Gen. Savin Hill, who was recently demoted to Armchair Corporal Savin Hill, told me the other day about how the South African mercenary group, Executive Outcome
(scroll down), employed the same approximte strategy in Africa and Bosnia, before it was disbanded.
Apparently there was some TV documentary on the group recently. ... FYI: Armchair Gen. Savin Hill was given back his rank after he bought me drinks the other day.
‘A real and permanent shift in the Boston sports scene’:
Responding to the Celt posts below (‘The ‘70s-themed party’), Andre writes in to say the Bird-era spike in attendance may not have been an aberration for the Celts -- or other area pro teams:
“It seems to me that there was a real and permanent shift in the Boston sports scene in the course of the ‘70s and ‘80s. The base level of attendance for the pro teams went way up, provided they maintained some level of competitive credibility. An indicator for me was that as a non-season-ticket-holder, I couldn’t get seats for the ‘86 World Series, after having no trouble in ‘67 and ‘75. But the larger truth, I think, is that attendance went up for run-of-the-mill games. The Sox, Bruins, and Celts all did better than ever before, and so did the Pats, even when their larger stadium wasn’t full.
“At the same time, amateur spectator sports tanked. Despite enormous participation, and the investments of (especially) BC, broad interest in high school and college events, as compared to the pros, faded. Only the Beanpot survives among local college rivalries. The Marathon peaked during that period, and remains important, but the BAA and K of C track meets are gone. ... A recent symbolic event is the closing of the Manning Bowl -- we used to have 20,000-seat high school stadiums!
“I suspect that television is the cause. It’s the same story as what happened to minor league baseball in the ‘50s and ‘60s -- in this case, the pros were on TV all the time, and just blew everything else away. I believe that there was a point in the ‘70s when channels 2, 27, 38, and 56 were among the top five or six in the country in locally produced sports programming.
“As for what actually went wrong with the Celts, I put it down largely to a single ghastly mistake: hiring a college guy as GM. College coaches can make the transition to the pros (unless their college success was based entirely on recruiting), but the personnel function is entirely different.”
Hub Blog’s response
-- Excellent points about the deemphasis on local college and high school sports. Did professionalism and commercialism also kill Wide World of Sports on ABC?
‘The ‘70s-themed party,’ Part II:
Reader No. 1 on the Celts:
“On the Celtics, I recall even smaller crowds at the Garden during those mostly good times in the 1970s than we see at the Fleet today -- even adjusting for no-shows (which visual inspection suggests are a high percentage at most Celt home games). It didn't become impossible to get a Celts home ticket until after the first Larry Bird championship season -- I remember getting first balcony day-of tickets twice during Bird's rookie year, and one against Dr. J and the 76ers! ... Given Boston's basketball attendance history, an alternative view is (a) the Bird years were the aberration -- Boston really ISN'T a hooptown, (b) the new ticket policy might actually be a case of 'back to the future.'”
Hub Blog’s response
- Think it’s more a case of ‘back to the future.’ Tempted to say the Bird years were an aberration, but fans really did stick it out for a long, long time after he left, in hopes of a turnaround. The attendance is still not at the ‘70s level. But it’s headed in that direction.
‘Want to talk real power?’ Part II:
Reader No. 1 on lefty academia:
“Weak. Ellen Goodman's column addressing the obvious bias of academia. I was disappointed also in your dismissal of the academic bias dispute by pointing at the Conservative Worker Bee network as opposed to dealing with the issue. The excellent, conservative, and not doctinaire, American Enterprise surfaced some rather good research on this political issue over two years. At the risk of echoing Karl Zinsmeister, I think one will find more political diversity in the boardrooms than the faculty lounges. High-paying senior executives, particularly in financial
services and technology, are perhaps the one demographic in which Democrats have made inroads over the past decade. The answer should be obvious: classical liberalism is economic AND personal, but we've been calling it 'Libertarianism' for nearly half a century as the Democrats became addicted to watered-down socialism in the 20th century. Classical liberalism, unleashed by the 60s kids (personal behaviors) and the deregulators of the late 70s and 1980s, has made a big comeback. (One big thing Clinton got right.) The highest paid executives and entrepreneurs of today are the primary exemplars of Classical Liberalism, which is why they voted for Clinton, and Gore, and many for Kerry..."
Hub Blog’s response
-- Sorry to disappoint on the academic bias issue. It is an old, old issue. Maybe I’ll engage in the 10,997,367,340th conservative mantra argument about the academic left -- something I happen to agree exists but a subject I don’t knee-jerk launch into whenever the beehive pulsates -- if and when people like Reader No. 1 and Jeff Jacoby really surprise me by tackling something not handed down to them, like, oh, a detailed criticism of the management of the Iraq war.
‘The ‘70s-themed party’ - minus Hank Finkel:
Never thought I’d say this: I miss the 1970s. Why? Today’s Celts have reached the pits. Giving away thousands of tickets.
.... Not that it’s a bad business idea per se. Exposes the team to new fans who couldn’t afford tickets, puts people into the center to buy $5.50 hot dogs, makes televised games less embarrassing by showing full seats rather than empty seats etc. etc. ... But it’s still a sad reflection on how low the franchise has fallen. ...
All of which prompted me to look back at the last alleged horrid period in Celtics history: the 1970s.
Specifically, the early ‘70s Hank Finkel era, after Bill Russell left and before Dave Cowens arrived, and the late ‘70s post-Hondo and pre-Bird years. Wretched times. Seemed like they’d never end. But here’s the amazing thing: The Celts went only five years after Russell retired before Jo Jo, the Dons, Hondo, Cowens, and, yes, Hank, won a championship in ‘74.
The team was actually a decent playoff contender within three years of Russell’s departure. ... The Celts went through another bad spell in the late ‘70s. Again it seemed like a long ordeal. But it was only two years. Everyone knew Bird was on the way. ... Now? Eighteen years since the last championship? How many coaches? How many bad trades and draft picks? Where’s the hope? They’re playing somewhat well in recent games. But this franchise has been so mismanaged over nearly two decades now. I’m surprised fans have hung on this long. ... So, yes, I miss the 1970s.
-- Hub Blog is about to throw you into a fit of uncontrollable envy, for Hank Finkel once visited MY HOUSE, along with Satch Sanders, Steve ‘Worsky’ Kuberski and Rex Morgan. A Hub Blog uncle arranged for them to come to our post-season CYO basketball pizza party in the early 1970s -- held at MY HOUSE. All us kids got autographs and photos. The players got all the pizza and beer they could down. That’s how the NBA worked back then. Unthinkable today. ... Good to see Hank is fondly remembered, albeit as a '70s-themed party’
cult figure, for he at least played a role in rebuilding a franchise and winning a championship.
‘Stay, Pedro, and don’t Yank our chain’:
Gotta love a headline that gets to the point fast. Howard Manly
puts in bluntly (reg. req.).
‘Want to talk real power?’:
Not to pick on Jeff Jacoby
, but, really, talk about providing evidence of Hub Blog’s theory on the existence of a conservative beehive and its busy worker bees. Quoting from the Wall Street Journal, William Safire, the National Review, Jeff then
launches into an argument that, as he clearly just showed, is nothing more than regurgitated received ideological wisdom already defined and expressed by those he cited. ... Bzzzzzzzz. Sting away worker bees! ...
Not to overlook the left’s own beehive and worker-bee activity. Ellen Goodman
, now a Queen Bee not to be confused with a mere worker bee, wades into last week’s ideological cause du jour, lefty academia, another subject dutifully buzzed by Jeff
because, well, it was the ideological cause du jour. But guess what? Ellen throws it right back at conservatives: “Want to talk real power? If the faculty clubs are blue, corporate management offices are red. In the name of diversity, let's trade some
liberal sociologists for conservative oil executives.” ... She does have a point. Hopefully none of the lefty worker bees are reading. They might launch a campaign to put Howard Zinn on Raytheon’s board of directors. ...