Monday, October 31, 2005
Alito, Samuel A. Jr.
Born 1950 in Trenton, NJ
Federal Judicial Service:U. S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
Nominated by George H.W. Bush on February 20, 1990, to a seat vacated by John Joseph Gibbons; Confirmed by the Senate on April 27, 1990, and received commission on April 30, 1990.
Education:Princeton University, A.B., 1972
Yale Law School, J.D., 1975
Professional Career:Law clerk, Hon. Leonard I. Garth, U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, 1976-1977Assistant U.S. attorney, District of New Jersey, 1977-1981Assistant to the U.S. solicitor general, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC, 1981-1985Deputy assistant U.S. attorney general, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC, 1985-1987
U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, 1987-1990
Race or Ethnicity: White
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Step inside! hello!
we’ve the most amazing show
You’ll enjoy it all, we know
Step inside! step inside!
We’ve got thrills and shocks,
supersonic fighting cocks.
Leave your hammers at the box
Come inside! come inside!
Roll up! roll up! roll up!See the show!
Left behind the bars, rows of bishops’ heads in jars
And a bomb inside a car
If you follow me there’s a speciality
Some tears for you to see
Roll up! roll up! roll up!See the show!
Next upon the bill in our house of vaudeville
We’ve a stripper in a till
What a thrill! what a thrill!
And not content with that,
with our hands behind our backs,
We pull jesus from a hat,
Get into that! get into that!
Roll up! roll up! roll up!See the show!
Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends
We’re so glad you could attend
Come inside! come inside!
There behind a glass is a real blade of grass
Be careful as you pass.
Move along! move along!
Come inside, the show’s about to start
Guaranteed to blow your head apart
Rest assured you’ll get your money’s worth
The greatest show in heaven, hell or earth.
You’ve got to see the show, it’s a dynamo.
You’ve got to see the show, it’s rock and roll
....Soon the gypsy queen in a glaze of vaseline
Will perform on guillotine
What a scene! what a scene!
Next upon the stand will you please extend a hand
To Alexander’s Ragtime Band
Roll up! roll up! roll up!See the show!
Performing on a stool we’ve a sight to make you drool
Seven virgins and a mule
Keep it cool. keep it cool.
We would like it to be known the exhibits that were shown
Were exclusively our own,
All our own. all our own.
Come and see the show! come and see the show!
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Sunday, October 23, 2005
A few words of my own on this Miers pick:
I normally don't like to jump into the fray when it comes to topics which are covered by-and-large by the mass media or countless other blogs. There are plenty of opinions, well thought- out and not-s0-well-thought-out out there, and I often feel that adding my opinion into the public discourse on widely covered issues is the equivalent of spitting into the ocean: it has no impact on the sea level one way or another. That said, I've been supremely disappointed with Bush's judgement on this one. It reflects a lazy mindset, perhaps a weary one. Bush has been under a great deal of strain from the beginning of his presidency to now. I shed no tears for him on this note, mind, as that is the nature of the office. (Kennedy, a year into his own presidency, once exclaimed in private to one of his staff, "I hate this sh*t! You want my position? You can have it!) But the wear of the last five plus years has revealed itself with this pick. Simply, I think Bush is a mentally exhausted man at the moment.
I'm going to go on record with this Miers pick and say that I think that she'll be withdrawn. I don't think she has the intellectual firepower, a la John Roberts, to withstand Senate scrutiny. Bush can beat the liberals, but he can't beat them without the conversatives behind him. Liberals are only semi-partial to Miers because conservatives hate her (and rightly so). But in this instance, the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" strategy might wind up being a Pyhrric one for the Dems. If she gets on the bench, everyone loses. It is not merely enough for me as a conservative to have someone say, "I'm against Roe v. Wade". I want someone who can successfully argue, based on profound constitutional reasoning, why they think it is unconstitutional. To paraphrase George Will's statement in the above linked article, to say that the ruling is wrong without the proper legal philosophical reasoning is as bad as the ruling itself, which arrived at a different ruling based on the same shoddy thought pattern.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
I'm happy to see the Chicago White Sox have made the World Series, as I'm a fan of El Duque and Contreras, two men who risked everything to get to the U.S. to play baseball, you can count me in as one of those rooting for the Sox. Below is an article on the subject, and I agree wholeheartedly with every word of it. Here's to hoping Contreras and El Duque make Fidel choke:
Castro in a White (Sox) Rage of Anger
The side bonus of a Chicago win.
By Andrew Cline
My team did not make it to the World Series this year, so I'll be pulling for the Chicago White Sox. I want Fidel Castro to angrily toss his Soviet-era transistor radio out the window when he hears that two more Cuban defectors earned World Series rings.
The 2005 White Sox give any baseball fan reason to cheer in their own right. The franchise has been so bad for so long (last World Series win: 1917) that despite five consecutive winning seasons, it hardly had a fan base. Now they are playing for the world title for the first time since 1959 (the Sox have only 7 playoff appearances in the franchise's 104-year existence), and they are doing it with a fairly young team and an ebullient, likable manager.
But even more amazing than the turnaround of this once lifeless franchise are the stories of its two Cuban pitching stars, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez and Jose Contreras. The pair infuriated Castro by drawing attention to the true nature of his police state when they defected in 1997 and 2002 respectively. Every time they take the mound in the World Series, the announcers will have another opportunity to mention their daring escapes from Castro's island prison. If they lead their team to a World Series victory, it will provide the ultimate contrast to the obscurity and poverty in which their countrymen are forced to live — and to which they would have remained consigned had they not risked their lives to escape. And it will enrage Castro, whom El Duque once called "the Devil" on national television.
Devil's Soon to Be Wearing the Ring?
When he was a boy, Orlando Hernandez was so obsessed with baseball that he slept with his glove. He also shared a bed with his older brother, Arnaldo, whose death at age 30 a lot of people blamed on Castro. Arnaldo died of a brain aneurysm. Because there was no ambulance service, it took more than an hour to get him to the hospital. Hernandez, the winningest pitcher in "revolutionary" Cuba's history, was a national hero in the early 1990s, but nine years after his 1986 debut he was banned from baseball. His crime was helping his half-brother Livan defect. Livan went on to become the MVP of the 1997 World Series, during which he embarrassed Fidel by shouting, "I love Miami" — in English. How could a good socialist boy do such a thing?
At the time of his banishment, Orlando Hernandez was a huge star. It would be as if President Clinton had banned Michael Jordan from basketball during his prime.
To intimidate other players from defecting, Cuba arrested Juan Ignacio, a U.S. citizen accused of helping Livan Hernandez and other players defect, and held a show trial. (He was a partner of infamous agent Joe Cubas, who did get players to defect, and he delivered contraband cash from Livan Hernandez to Orlando and other family members.) Hernandez, a known friend of Ignacio, was put on the witness stand. The government wanted him to denounce Ignacio as an enemy of the state. Asked whether Ignacio was a friend or enemy, Hernandez defiantly and publicly called Ignacio his "companero," or comrade.
A year later, his career destroyed because he had defied Castro, Hernandez was found, with his wife and six other defectors, on Anguilla Cay in the Bahamas. They had arranged to be dropped off there and then picked up by some contacts in America, but their contacts never arrived. They ate conch to survive, and three days later they flagged down a helicopter. The next day they were on a Coast Guard cutter. Fearing they would be shipped back to Cuba, Hernandez told everyone he could that he was the brother of Livan Hernandez, who had just led the Florida Marlins to a World Series championship over the Cleveland Indians two months earlier. The ship's translator related this to the boarding officer, who happened to be from Cleveland.
Though Hernandez won no fans on the Coast Guard cutter, he soon wowed scouts for the New York Yankees, his favorite American team, for whom he went 12-4 with a 3.13 era the next year. That fall, ten days shy of the one-year anniversary of Juan Ignacio's trial, during which El Duque defiantly called Ignacio his "companero," Hernandez won Game 2 of the World Series, striking out seven and giving up just one run in seven innings. Through the end of last season, El Duque was 9-3 in the post-season, with a 2.65 era. His record in the World Series is 4-1 with a 2.28 era. Had he not defected, he would have died another obscure Cuban pitcher, virtually unknown outside Castro's fortress.
A Dream Come True
Jose Contreras, the White Sox's ace for the playoffs and best pitcher in the second half of this season, defected in 2002 for reasons similar to El Duque's. He needed to take care of his family.
"Miriam, you know that my dream was to play in the Major Leagues, but if we had had our own house, for us and the girls to be together as a family, I would've been there with you. But I had to do something to guarantee the future of my family," Contreras's wife, Miriam, told the New York Daily News he had said to her before his defection.
Contreras earned about $23 a month as a star pitcher for the Cuban national team, which he helped win a gold medal in the 1996 Olympics and a silver in 2000. He also pitched brilliantly in an exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles in 1999. But his wife said the family had waited years for a house the government promised them, and they struggled to care for their daughters.
After Contreras struck out 10 Orioles in 1999, Castro phoned him to offer his appreciation. The Miami Herald wrote of him, "Pitcher Jose Contreras is hailed as a hero in Cuba today because Fidel Castro says he embodies everything that is good about the tyrant's revolution."
Contreras was publicly loyal to Castro, who trusted him implicitly. He was considered so loyal that he was put in charge of all the team's passports when they went on foreign trips. He and his wife have been careful to classify his defection as an economic and not a political decision. But of course, under communism there is no difference between the two.
After Contreras and the national team's coach defected during a team trip to Mexico on Oct. 25, 2002, Cuba immediately denounced Contreras as a "traitor." As long as Contreras was in a Cuban uniform, he was a tribute to the socialist system, as if Jose Contreras the individual had made no contribution to his own success, which was manufactured entirely by the government. But Castro's pronouncements fooled no one. After his defection, Contreras remained popular among Cuban baseball fans, who continued to follow him after the Yankees signed him for $32 million, the biggest contract ever offered to a Cuban defector.
Contreras did well in his first major-league season, but the separation from his wife and two young daughters took its toll. Miriam was arrested more than once, and many thought she would be imprisoned on trumped-up charges. Saddled with anxiety over his wife and sadness over the separation from her and his daughters, Contreras failed to live up to expectations, and he went back and forth between the Yankees and the minors. The Yankees tried to improve his mechanics, but he insisted it was all in his head. Castro had told Contreras's wife that she'd have to wait five years — until the Cuban people had forgotten about her husband — before she would be allowed off the island to visit him. She couldn't wait that long. In 2004 she, her daughters and a boatload of other Cubans landed in the Florida keys.
Finally reunited with his family, Contreras has shined. After going 13-9 with a 5.50 era last season, he is 15-7 with a 3.61 era this year. Contreras pitched for the Yankees in the 2003 World Series, which the Florida Marlins won. Now he has perhaps his last chance to collect a World Series ring — a triumphant symbol of personal accomplishment, which Castro no doubt would denounce as a symbol of the evils of capitalism.
Unfortunately for Castro, Cubans have not forgotten Jose Contreras or Orlando Hernandez. Though broadcasts of major-league games are banned in Cuba, people will find ways to tune in for this World Series, when two of the best pitching stars the island has ever produced will attempt to win the most prestigious baseball title in the world.
Victory for the White Sox would be a great accomplishment for a fine team, and for a franchise that has suffered through 88 years without a title. Yet more profoundly, it would be another defeat for Castro and his twisted efforts to dominate every individual born on the little island he has ruled since 1959 — the last year the White Sox were in the World Series.
— Andrew Cline is editorial-page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
"What can I say? We smoked a lot of dope."
Flying too close to the sun
If the moment of glory
Is over before it’s begun
If the dream is won --Though everything is lost
We will pay the price,
But we will not count the cost
When the dust has cleared
And victory denied
A summit too lofty
River a little too wide
If we keep our pride --Though paradise is lost
We will pay the price,
But we will not count the cost
And if the music stops
There’s only the sound of the rain
All the hope and glory
All the sacrifice in vain
[and] if love remains
Though everything is lost
We will pay the price,
But we will not count the cost
Friday, October 14, 2005
I'm old enough to remember going to my first Yankees game. The Yankees were in exile from Yankee Stadium and playing in Shea Stadium (named after the Cuban guerilla leader, Che Stadium, didn't you know?). The year was 1975, and the Yankees were playing the Milwaukee Brewers. I was fortunate enough to see Henry Aaron swat a home run over the right center wall, and the Yankees won the game 10-1. A perfect, sunny day-game: Hank Aaron homers, and the Yanks win. Back then, Bill Virdon was the Yanks manager, and their marquee player was Bobby Bonds. They were also a mediocre squad, that '75 group.
All that changed in '76. Billy Martin assumed the reins of management. The Yanks traded Bonds for Mickey Rivers and gained both speed on the bases and a pretty damn good lead-off hitter. Ron Guidry started making an impact. They traded pitcher Doc Medich (a real doctor, from what I remember) for Willie Randolph. Got rid of weird-looking (to me, at least) Pat Dobson. Thurman Munson was a rock behind the plate and timely at bat. And Chris Chambliss always seemed to get the timely hit, none more important than his Game Five blast in the fifth game of the ALCS against the KC Royals, winning the pennant for the Yankees for the first time in a decade and a half. To me, even at this very young age, they seemed like a team.
In '77, the Yanks acquired Reggie Jackson, the "big straw". He may have been an arrogant jerk-off, but I loved him all the same. Clutch at the plate and a strong arm in right field (though a substandard outfielder), Jackson was the missing piece to the Yankees puzzle, coming through with three homers in the '77 World Series. In '78, the Yanks made one of the most amazing comebacks in baseball history, coming back from fourteen games behind to gaining the division championship in early October in a game that still causes consternation in New England. ("Bucky F**ckin' Dent!?!) Martin got fired in mid-season for his mercurial behavior and loose tongue (in describing Jackson and Steinbrenner to the press, Martin said that, "...one's a born liar, the other's convicted."), but Bob Lemon filled in just fine (and without the pathetic antics). I attended the ticker-tape parade with my mom in '78. Somewhere in our house are pictures of the parade.
And then....they dissolved the team. Thurman crashed his private jet-plane and died, and it seemed that the heart of the Yankees was gone. Jackson left a year or two later to the Angels. Nettles found himself on the Padres, Chambliss went to the Braves. Dave Winfield, a great player in his own right, never seemed a good fit for New York. Good players subsequently came up, like Mattingly and Righetti, but the Yankees never seemed like a team anymore. They merely seemed like a bunch of mercenaries throughout the 80's....and they were. The Yankees, after having a great run from '76 to '78, gradually declined into mediocrity, then sub-mediocrity. Steinbrenner, typical of his capricious nature, figured he could win more championships with his checkbook. But the Yankees sucked, year in, year out throughout the 80's and early 90's. To me, they never seemed like a real team. The Yankee emblem over their hearts meant nothing to guys like Jesse Barfield. To me, the low-water mark was getting Steve Trout, a twenty game winner from the Cubs who arrived with much fanfare, only to have lost his ability to throw the ball straight. Pitch after pitch wound up wild or in the dirt. Just awful.
Then something magic happened. Steinbrenner got suspended for attempting to blackmail Dave Winfield, and real baseball people started running the Yankees....and they developed into a real team. Guys from the minors who more often than not would've been trade bait were now able to develop through the system. They were REAL Yankees, developed at their farm clubs from the rookie team in Oneonta through Triple-A Columbus. Slowly but surely they emerged: Pettite, Jeter, Williams, Mo Riviera. A real team. Then the Yanks went, not for superstars, but for solid, clutch character players: Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, Paul O'Neill. They topped it all off with a vastly underrated managerial pick in Joe Torre. (Remember the headlines in the Daily News on that one? "Clueless Joe"?) And the makings of one of the most dominant rosters in history went on a five year tear, winning four world championships in the process. They did it, not with a field of mercenaries, but with a field of character players. A team.
Which brings us to 2005. Brosius retired a few years back and was eventually replaced by Alex Rodriguez. Andy Pettite was disrespected and found his way to Houston. O'Neill retired. And Steinbrenner re-asserted his insane policy of going after high-priced all-stars who's loyalties lie not with the franchise, but with their paychecks and individual stats sheets. And so the ridiculous signings commenced from 2000 on: Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson, Gary Sheffield, A-Rod. With the exception of Brown, they've all made solid contributions, and at times have even been outstanding. But can anyone make the case that a guy like Johnson or Sheffield actually gives a shit about the franchise, the tradition, and the honor of playing for the most prestigious franchise in baseball, if not all of professional sports? Can anyone say that these guys are character players who, when the chips are down, would do anything to win? Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh, but what kind of esprit de corps do these guys have? What binds this team?
At this point, nothing, so far as I can tell.
Wake me up when George Steinbrenner gets suspended again.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Bruford on why he left Yes just when they were breaking big:
"I left for the money. I was in danger of making too much of it."
Bruford on why he always seems to find himself involved in various reformed incarnations of King Crimson:
"Because it's the only gig where you can play in 13/8 time and still get a decent hotel room afterwards."
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Here's to hoping that the young Rangers keep it up. I can live with losing so long as the kids play with verve. After all, it's better to have a losing season with a bunch of kids than it is with a bunch of 36 year olds who signed with the Rangers for the retirement benefits.
I also like the new 4-on-4 overtime rule, though I'm not overjoyed about the shootout rule.
It just might be a good season after all.
"Well, certainly the president can claim executive privilege. But in the this case, I think with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, you can't play, you know, Hide the Salami, or whatever it's called."
Can't make this stuff up, folks.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
- Paul Krugman on September 2: “Katrina hit five days ago ... Thousands of Americans are dead or dying ... ”
- Associated Press, October 3: “As of Friday, the state health department reported 932 deaths in Louisiana from Hurricane Katrina.”
Maureen Dowd on September 3: “America is once more plunged into a snake pit of anarchy, death, looting, raping, marauding thugs, suffering innocents, a shattered infrastructure, a gutted police force, insufficient troop levels and criminally negligent government planning.”
- New York Times, September 29: “... the most alarming stories that coursed through the city appear to be little more than figments of frightened imaginations, the product of chaotic circumstances that included no reliable communications, and perhaps the residue of the longstanding raw relations between some police officers and members of the public.”
This website gives many, many more examples of the Times yellow journalism, and its not just confined to the op-ed page. It's all over but the shouting as far as the Times is concerned. It's credibility is in tatters, and since there are so many more (read: internet) news outlets out there, the Times will not, in all likelihood, ever get its credibility back, much less the readership that has given up on it....such as me.
Monday, October 03, 2005
- I fail to understand this Harriet Meiers pick that Bush made today. No judicial experience, no paper trail, and she gave money to Al Gore's failed presidential bid (in '88, not in '00). Worse than that, Harry Reid, the overly whiny and effeminate Senate Minority Leader from Nevada, is pleased with the pick. That last little factoid has me really amazed. I, like many conservative pundits out there, might be proven wrong about this pick, but for now, my opinion about Meiers is similar to Bill Kristol's of the Weekly Standard. Kristol thinks that Bush chickened out. He might be right. Bush has been getting the crap kicked out of him from the press and the left from virtually the minute he won the '00 election. The last few months have been particularly harsh for him, what with Hurricane Katrina (which could be the most embarrassingly exaggerated natural disaster in my lifetime), Cindy Sheehan, the ever-present situation in Iraq, the Valerie Plame non-scandal, etc. Couple all this with the looming showdown regarding the next SCOTUS appointment, and it looks like Bush took the easy way out. I might be wrong, but if this is what he really did, he just lost major conservative support in lieu of attempting to gain liberal support, which of course, he'll never get. (His father made this mistake as well.) Here's to hoping this entire paragraph is entirely mistaken.
- Last Friday, I went to see a new band called The Killers at Jones Beach Theatre. Interesting gig, but not terribly compelling. There's something to their sound, but they kind of seem rather undeveloped at the moment. Additionally, they're not particularly active on-stage. Mind, I'm not turned off by this per se, but if you're going to be a stationary band, you should compensate in one and/or two ways: offer some wild animation and graphics on the screen to offset the lack of action on stage, and you should absolutely WAIL on your instruments. The Killers are neither. They do have some potential, and their sound is appealing, but they've got a long way to go. They kind of remind me of a young pitching phenom who came up too early to the majors. There was one interesting aspect to the whole night, that being the plethora of high school kids at the gig. The average age of these kids was probably about 17. I probably haven't attended a concert with an average age of 17 since I was, uh, 17.
- HBO's Rome is getting better and better with every new episode. Terribly intense, complex characters, and an amazingly interwoven plot-line. Best of all, it's all historically accurate. As I've said in an earlier post, it gives a glimpse into what the world was like two thousand years ago. Rome may have been the apex of civilization at one time, but it was anything but civil. Along with high learning, it was also quite brutal. Machiavelli was to say 1500 years after that man was more prone to do evil than good. He also said that it was better to be feared than loved. Rome reveals to a very large extent why Machiavelli came away with these conclusions. Western Civilization has come a long way since those savage days. But the stirrings of these concepts are always below the surface.