Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A New Series?

The Cleveland Cavaliers appeared to be on the brink of defeat a few nights ago, leaving Detroit down 0-2, and apparently demoralized after two heart-breaking losses. But after two wins at home, the Cavs will return to the Motor City Thursday night with a chance to steal a game on Detroit's home floor.

There's no question that a LBJ coming-out party in the NBA Finals would be a win for th league, especially after the disaster of the Suns/Spurs series, and the quiet dismantling of the Jazz that the Spurs have embarked upon during the Western Conference finals.

If Donyell Marshall had made an open three at the end of Game One, or if either LBJ or Larry Hughes had been able to connect in the waning seconds of Game Two, the Cavs would be sitting in driver's seat. As it is, they have put the heat back on the Pistons.

But an NBA playoff series begins when one team loses a home game.

"Enhanced Interrogation"

Andrew Sullivan's must-read post yesterday on 'enhanced interrogation' techniques has resonated throughout the blogosphere, and for good reason. The very euphemism -- "enhanced interrogation" -- was apparently coined in the late 1930s by a Nazi party that was concerned (at least at that time) about public appearances:
Other translations include "intensified interrogation" or "sharpened interrogation". It's a phrase that appears to have been concocted in 1937, to describe a form of torture that would leave no marks, and hence save the embarrassment pre-war Nazi officials were experiencing as their wounded torture victims ended up in court. The methods, as you can see above, are indistinguishable from those described as "enhanced interrogation techniques" by the president.
To his credit, Sullivan has been writing about torture for some time, and taking on the Administration's position. His post focuses on a post-WWII trial in Norway, wherein 3 Nazis were convicted for the war-crimes of 'enhanced interrogation', aka torture.

Sullivan concludes:
Critics will no doubt say I am accusing the Bush administration of being Hitler. I'm not. There is no comparison between the political system in Germany in 1937 and the U.S. in 2007. What I am reporting is a simple empirical fact: the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn't-somehow-torture - "enhanced interrogation techniques" - is a term originally coined by the Nazis. The techniques are indistinguishable. The methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes. The punishment for them was death.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Hillary yesterday on her deputy campaign manager's memo outlining a proposal to abandon the Iowa caucuses:
“It’s not the opinion of the campaign,” Mrs. Clinton told Radio Iowa on Wednesday, referring to the memorandum. “It’s not my opinion.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hillary: Skipping Iowa?

A 'leaked' memo apparently advises Hillary Clinton to skip Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses. The Clintons have never competed in Iowa (Bill skipped Iowa in 1992 on the grounds that Iowa's Tom Harkin would dominate the caucuses anyways), and Hillary apparently is having trouble making up ground on current leader John Edwards.

But the bet here is that Hillary declares that she "is in Iowa to stay" on her next trip. Perhaps that announcement will jump-start her Iowa efforts.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How did NYC's Emergency Center Get Sited?

More controversy on the decision back in the late 1990s to locate NYC's Emergency Management Center in the World Trade Center (Building 7), despite the fact that the WTC had been a previous terrorist target (in 1993).

Today's Times has a long piece on Jerome Hauer, a former Giuliani confidante who has left the inner circle and recently been interviered for a book about Rudy's emergency preparedness. (The title of the book speaks as the authors' perspective: "Grand Illusions.")

From the NYT article:
One of Mr. Hauer’s first tasks was to find a home for an emergency command center to replace the inadequate facilities at police headquarters. Mr. Hauer suggested an office complex in downtown Brooklyn as a “good alternative” in a memorandum.

But Mr. Hauer said the mayor insisted instead on a site within walking distance of City Hall. Given that concern and others, Mr. Hauer said he decided that offices on the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center, next to the twin towers and just a few blocks from City Hall, seemed the best choice.

The site was immediately controversial because it was part of the trade center, which had already been the location of a truck bomb attack in 1993. City officials, though, including Mr. Hauer, have long defended their decision, even after the command center had to be evacuated during the 2001 terror attack.

Last week, in an interview with Fox News, Mr. Giuliani again faced questions about the site. He put responsibility for selecting it on Mr. Hauer.

“Jerry Hauer recommended that as the prime site and the site that would make the most sense,” Mr. Giuliani said. “It was largely on his recommendation that that site was selected.”

Mr. Hauer took immediate exception to that account in interviews. “That’s Rudy’s own reality that he lives in,” he said. “It is not, in fact, the truth.”
With the GOP campaign heating up (witness McCain's sharp comments on Romney yesterday), it seems likely that Rudy's opponents will be returning to the preparations for 9/11 before too long.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Good New for Romney in Iowa

Latest Des Moines Register poll has good news for former Governor Mitt Romney -- he leads convincingly:
Romney 30%
McCain 18%
Giuliani 17%
(Likely GOP caucus participants, May 12-16)

Dems were polled on Favorable/Unfavorable impressions:
Edwards 79%F/18%U/3% unsure
Obama 74%F/22%U/3% unsure
Clinton 66%F/31%U/3% unsure

Among the less well-known candidates:
Richardson 48%F/25%U/27% unsure
Biden 40%F/36%U/24% unsure
Kucininch 29%F/37%U/34% unsure
Dodd 24%F/29%U/47% unsure

Sunday, May 20, 2007


As Sacha Pfeiffer of the Boston Globe writes (Saturday edition):
If you're a radio listener of a certain age, the telephone number 867-5309 is burned forever in your brain.
Now, apparently two companies are fighting over the 'rights' to the digits made famous in a pop song by Tommy Tutone in the 1980s.

The number appears to be quite popular in the plumbing business, and is now the subject of competing claims, as described in the article.

Who would have thought that an anthem of the early 80s would end up being used as a jingle for stuck toilets?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Romney's Top Ten Gaffes

Time Magazine has a laugh-out-loud-funny slide show of Mitt Romney's Top Ten gaffes during the Presidential far.

Most under-reported one: praising Nazi efforts to liquify coal into oil. (As the New York Sun's Ryan Sager said at the time, you wouldn't think that anyone running for president would have to be told: "Don't mention Hitler in a positive light.")

While some may believe the miscues humanize Romney, it is worth noting that his own father's Presidential aspirations collapsed over a single word: "brainwashing."

Moreover, the types of miscues -- seemingly out of touch with everyday Americans, such as on the gun issue -- seem to be more reminescent of John Kerry, rather than George W. Bush. As Noam Scheiber wrote in this week's TNR:

But suppose most working-class voters want something different...Suppose that, in their heart of hearts, these voters don't aspire to be slightly better off than they are today; they aspire to be rich. And one of the ways they evaluate candidates, who are frequently rich themselves, is by wondering:Is this the kind of rich person I'd like to be?

Now ask yourself: If you were a working-class voter in Middle America, what kind of rich person would you want to be? Would you want to be the kind of rich person who eats at pricy French restaurants, plays classical guitar, and vacations among the cognoscenti in Sun Valley, Idaho? Or would you want to be the kind of rich person who snacks on peanut butter and jelly, reads Sports Illustrated, and kicks back at a ranch in the middle of nowhere?

Finally, for a candidate who is apparently running against France, Romney seems to spend a lot of time thinking about French marriage laws, as well as being the only candidate wearing French-cuff shirts at this week's Republican debate:

Suns-Spurs Part II

The worst possible outcome for the NBA: Suns play a gritty, gutty game, but lose when they run out of steam in the last five minutes. Playing essentially six players (Dublin's own Pat Burke played just 3 minutes), it is impossible to argue that Amare Stoudemire (and to a lesser extent, Boris Diaw) would not have made a difference.

All that being said, the Spurs had best win Game Six, and avoid another trip to the Valley of the Sun. The NBA, meanwhile, would probably love to see the Suns somehow win Game Six, and have the series come down to a single game, with both teams at full strength, in Phoenix on Sunday. Wonder who the NBA will task with refereeing on Friday night?

Paging Bennett Salvatore...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Spurs-Suns Game Five, Part I

Watching the first few minutes of the Suns/Spurs Game Five, the most surprising factor is that the Suns are not doing more to press the Spurs physically. After all, it would be a brave ref to call a flagrant foul on the Suns (esp. with public opinion running well against (i) the Spurs and (ii) the NBA office after l'affaire Horry on Monday.)

Off the Deck

Less than a day after the Bulls stunned the Pistons in Detroit, and less than 24 hours after the Suns won a must-must-win in San Antonio, the Nets rebounded from an atrocious Game Four finish by controlling Game Five from start to finish. Despite a 1-15 fourth quarter -- and an even more incredible 6 points -- the Nets nonetheless won convincingly.

Jason Kidd (8-14 FGs), Vince Carter (5-11), and Richard Jefferson (6-11) recovered, and moved the pressure from themselves to the Cavaliers. If the Cavs can't close New Jersey out on Friday, you will be able to cut the pressure on Sunday in the Quicken Arena with a knife.

Jack Bauer for President?

The Republican debate was interesting political theater. The format was surprisingly good, with a series of somewhat related questions asked in sequence to the candidates. The Fox reporters were able to induce some back-and-forth, some follow-up, and even some criticism of 'fellow Republicans.'

In the end, you got the sense that McCain felt that the night seemed to go badly. While his opponents were busy trying to spin unworkable fantasies about who would cut taxes the sharpest, and who could act more Reagan-like, McCain was left trying to justify his votes -- and bills -- that passed Congress and became the law of the land.

But the crux of the debate was in the last 15 minutes. Fox's Brit Hume spun a scenario where the US was already the victim of one terrorist incident, and yet had captured an operative who seemed to have information about a forthcoming attack. Virtually each of the candidates was falling all over themselves to prove that they would be tough enough -- "tell the CIA: whatever it takes"..."I will take the heat"..."I'd approve enhanced interrogation techniques." At one point Tom Tancredo stated the obvious subtext: he'd get Jack Bauer in the room, and let him work over the terrorist. After all, it works every Monday night on Fox.

Yet the man who has actually seen shots fired in anger -- and indeed has been the victim of torture himself -- stuck to his guns: no to torture, because it doesn't work, and because the consequences of such action on our captured troops is so grave.

"We could never gain as much we would gain from that torture as we lose in world opinion. We do not torture people," he said. "It's not about the terrorists, it's about us. It's about what kind of country we are. And a fact: The more physical pain you inflict on someone, the more they're going to tell you what they think you want to know."

Yet when the debate was over, even McCain seemed to move away from his moral position. No to waterboarding (invented, he noted, by the Spanish Inquisition), he said on the spin session with Hannity and Colmes, but 'you have to do what is necessary.'

Giuliani, speaking on the same post-debate session, was even more interesting. During the debate, he staked out his bona fides on security, claiming that 'no one on the stage knew more about it' than he did. (Which begs the questions of, among others, why the City's disaster center was located where it was, in the shadow of the World Trade Center, or how he came to hire Bernie Kerik.) During the discussion on 'enhanced interrogation', no one was more enthusiastic about giving the CIA (or whomever, as Rudy seemed unsure) 'the tools' they need.

In the post-debate spin, Giuliani defended his position (along with his attack on Congressman Ron Paul's claim that the 9/11 attacks were caused by US bombing of Iraq, among other places). Giuliani said: "When you raise you right hand, and take the oath of office as President, you swear to preserve and defend, um, the United States of America."

Well, not exactly, Rudy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Sure, Vince Carter will take the heat for the Nets' last possession last night in Game Four, where double-team from Larry Hughes forced Carter to panic and, eventually, knock the ball out-of-bounds. But it wasn't just the last-second failures - it was the forced pass to Mikki Moore with 0:46 seconds left (eventually leading to a jump ball won by the Cavaliers), and the 6-23 overall shooting that killed the Nets. (Of course, Carter's partners-in-crime included Jason Kidd (2-13 shooting) and Richard Jefferson (3-12).)

While Carter did make 5-6 clutch foul shots in the last two minutes, it seems unlikely that the Nets can climb out of a 1-3 deficit with the series heading back to Cleveland. LeBron James will be headed to his first Conference Finals, where as they were a year ago, the Pistons seems likely to be the obstacle.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Obama News

Two brief news items on Obama in the last week that seemed to 'disappear' into the media news cycle(s):

1. Oprah endorses Obama

Celebrity endorsements have traditionally been 'over-valued' by the campaigns and (often times) the media - even Bruce Springsteen wasn't enough to save John Kerry in Ohio. (Political endorsements, for that matter, are often over-valued as well.) Yet Oprah is sui generis, in that not only is she is celebrity, she is a celebrity with a constant platform in people's homes. In addition, the endorsement would seem to preclude, say Hillary Clinton or John Edwards from appearing on Oprah's show during the primary campaign, which means that a way of reaching certain viewers is no available. (At the very least, it would change the dynamic dramtically if those competitors of Obama's did appear on 'Oprah' during the primaries.)

2. Obama receives Secret Service protection.

Last week, it became known that the Secret Service is now providing protection to Candidate Obama, the earliest ever for a Presidential candidate (more than 18 months before the general election.) As commentators have noted, it is appropriate that he receive such protection, especially in light of the crowds he has been drawing. (Hillary receives protection already in her role as a former First Lady.)

Obama's campaign apparently made the request. However, what will be interesting to see is if the extra protection effects how Obama interacts with crowds, and how he campaigns in general. In my experience, the Secret Services forces a presidential campaign to 'grow up fast' - to make decisions about logistics, organization, and who 'gets in the room' with the protectee much earlier, and eliminates changes 'on the go.' The staff is constantly trying to create photos and visuals with the candidate surrounded by smiling crowds -- not stern-faced men in suits. While the protectee can overrule his protection at any time -- and stop the car, for instance, to jump out and shake hands -- the Service expect a heads-up from the campaign staff if the 'spontaneous gesture' is, shall we say, less than unplanned.

But getting used to working with the Service now, rather than in the heat of the primary campaigns, has its own advantages. And of course, everyone hopes that the Secret Service protection will never have to be tested.

Must-Win Game(s) 3

ESPN briefly flashed a graphic last night in the midst of the Chicago Bulls meltdown (blowing a 19 point lead in a must-win Game Three against the Pistons):
Comebacks from 0-3
NBA 0-81
MLB 1-28
NHL 2-147

What's interesting is that (i) hockey has had more 3-0 leads than the other two sports combined (although the tradition of the MLB with no playoffs until 1969 (only the World Series prior) must have some impact); and (ii) that the Red Sox's comeback in 2004 is such an anomaly (baseball, with its high element of chance, would seem to give more rise to more comebacks than the other two sports - instead the Red Sox are the only team to dig out of the hole.)

New Jersey and Golden State each face must-win Game Threes in the 24 hours. San Antonio faces a "Almost-Must-Win" Game Three as well, although the Spurs seem likely to win.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The Pope and Mitt Romney

Pope Benedict, on a plane headed to Brazil, made news last night when he suggested that Catholic politicians who vote in favor of abortion (or, presumably, other Catholic doctrine), would be subject to ex-communication from the Church. The Pope was apparently referring to Mexican politicians who recently liberalized abortion rights in that country, but his comments must be read in the context of a Church increasingly calling Catholic politicians to account (in Italy in 2005, with John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential race) when they vote -- or support -- abortion rights.

Kerry struggled with the abortion issue, and his Catholic faith, throughout the 2004 campaign. While he continued to go to Mass and stated his personal opposition to abortion, was he considered (and is) a reliable pro-choice vote. In the Spring of 2004, a number of bishops stated that he should not continue to receive the sacrament of communion if he were to continue to vote against Church doctrine.

Kerry's position -- personal belief against abortion, but political support of pro-choice legislation -- harkens back to the Catholic politician's "position-of-choice" since 1960, when John Kennedy faced anti-Catholic sentiment in his bid for the White House. The original JFK felt that he needed to address the concern that, if President, he would be subject to instruction from the Pope or other church leaders. Speaking in Houston, in September of 1960, he said:
But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected President, the real issues in this campaign have been obscured -- perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again -- not what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to me -- but what kind of America I believe in.

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the President -- should he be Catholic -- how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference, and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him, or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accept instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials, and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

The original JFK put the 'religious issue' behind him once and for all. (To be sure, Kennedy had tried to deal with the issue earlier in the campaign (e.g., a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in April, 1960), but the Houston speech was the one that is remembered as effectively ending the issue in the general election.) His Houston speech has become part of the American political experience: of course the Leader of the Free World may consult with the Pope from time-to-time, but as one head of state to another, not as a Catholic seeking, in Kennedy's words, "instructions."

So what does all of this have to do with Mitt Romney?

Mormons (or Latter Day Saints) stand in a somewhat parallel position today to Catholics in 1960. The religion, while wide-spread in the United States, is not well-understood and has suffered a history of persecution; the current PBS series "The Mormons" highlights some of the mis-understandings.

Analagous to the Pope for Catholics, Mormons are led by a sole individual (the President of the Church, the most senior member of the Apostles (a select group of 12 individuals)). The (Mormon Church) President's views, while perhaps not perceived as 'infallible', undoubtedly carry great weight for Latter Day Saints.

If the Pope continues to press the issue with the Catholics in the Presidential race (Dodd, Biden, et al), it will make them uncomfortable. But the attention that the Pope (or other Catholic bishops) bring to the Catholic politicians will -- sooner or later -- raise the Romney/Mormon President issue. And while Catholic politicians may reference JFK's Houston speech, Romney have to define his own relationship with his church, and its leaders.

Update: Another potential politican with a "Catholic doctrine" problem: Rudy Giuliani, who yesterday decided that he will run a 'pro-choice' GOP campaign.

Greatest Web Apps?

In this week's edition, Information Week's Charlie Babcock has chosen his list of the "12 best web applications of all time". Here's the list:

12. AOL Instant Messenger
11. Digg
10. Hotmail
9. World Of Warcraft
8. Wikipedia
7. XMLHttpRequest object set
5. eBay
4. The Well
3. Craigslist
2. AltaVista
1. Apache Web Server

A couple of points jump out. First, how many of these apps 'just missed' or were subsumed in other apps; AltaVista is the most prominent of these, and actually received its own sidebar to the main article. Also, the apps that are missing, including Paypal, peer-to-peer (Napster, et al.), and (of course) Netscape. But thought provoking, and well-done by Mr. Babcock.

Quote of the Day: New Media Edition

Speaking at a conference yesterday, Time Warner's CEO had this to say about the challenge posed by the "New Media":

'The Googles of the world, they are the Custer of the modern world. We are the Sioux nation,' Time Warner Inc. Chief Executive Richard Parsons said, referring to the Civil War American general George Custer who was defeated by Native Americans in a battle dubbed 'Custer's Last Stand.'

Parsons' point is that if Google, et al., do not license copyrighted material, they would ultimately lose a protracted legal battle.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Very Troubling

A very troubling post by the Atlantic's James Fallows on possible implications in the fired-US-attorneys case(s). While Tom Wales was killed just one month after September 11th, it is also hard to believe that his death is not more widely publicized nationally, or that the apprehension of his killer was/is not a higher priority.

For instance, the death of local prosecutor Paul R. McLaughlin in 1995 was well-publicized here in Boston. The ultimate conviction of a gang leader in the case was appealed to the SJC, and the conviction upheld.

Hagler/Hearns Remembered

Although the Mayweather/de la Hoya fight on Saturday was somewhat entertaining, it was mere patty-cake compared to the show that Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler put on in 1985, in a similar weight class (Hagler/Hearns were middleweights (160 lbs.); Mayweather moved up in class to fight de la Hoya as a Junior Middleweight (154 lbs.))

In fairness, Hagler/Hearns is one of the great fights -- and probably the greatest round (the first) -- of all time.

UPDATE: The Hagler/Hearns fight is available on YouTube; HBO forced YouTube to take the Mayweather/de la Hoya fight down this week, in advance of HBO's planned rebroadcast on Saturday night.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Fallen Heroes

There's no shortage of critics of Dirk Nowitzki today, although TrueHoop has the best suggestion for the German star: refuse to accept the MVP award.

But this is not the 'biggest upset in NBA history.' Dallas won 67 games by healthy for most of the season (each of Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Jason Terry, DeSagana Diop, Erick Dampier, and Devin Harris played in 70+ games; Jerry Stackhouse played in 67), in a League that is injury-producing, and that has a regular season that is (a) too long and (b) means very little.

Golden State
, on the other hand, survived a long season despite Baron Davis' knee surgery in February, and a major trade. (Most similar player to Davis, by the way (according to Basketball Reference), is former Knick Ray Williams.)

The Warriors appear to be peaking at the right time, are better than their record (42-40), and possess a clear home court edge. With neither the Rockets nor the Jazz in possession of a major low-post threat (a la Tim Duncan), there's no reason think the Nellie-ride will end soon.

Finally, on a personal note, as a three-time alum of the Nelson/Sanders Basketball Camp in Durham, NH, congratulations to Don Nelson.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

TNR and the Blogosphere

Interesting piece by Jonathan Chaitt on the Left Blogosphere in this week's TNR, which serves as de facto history of the 'left movement.'

A few things that seem fresh:

* Degree to which the biggest bloggers -- Jerome Armstrong, Markos Moulitsas ZĂșniga, Atrios (Duncan Black) -- are, or rather were, outside of the traditional political activist sphere. From the piece:
Two deep, organic bonds hold together the netroots. The first is generational. Netroots activists tend to be in their thirties, like Moulitsas and Black, or younger. Even those who are older, such as Armstrong (who is in his early forties), often developed a strong interest in politics only recently. Nearly all of them, then, share the common experience of having their political consciousness awakened and shaped by the Bush years.

Their newness makes them outsiders to the game. They are, by their way of thinking, self-made men and women who pulled themselves up from obscurity by dint of pure merit. They see the Washington establishment, by contrast, as a kind of clique, filled with mediocrities who attended the best schools or know the right people. The netroots shorthand for this phenomenon is "Washington cocktail parties"--where, it is believed, the elite share their wrong-headed ideas, inoculated from accountability. "They still have their columns and TV gigs," Moulitsas wrote on his blog last December, describing the Beltway elite. "They still get treated with reverence by the D.C. cocktail party circuit."

* The "meta" role of The New Republic itself, which is one of the two main 'adversaries' (along with the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), and perhaps Time's Joe Klein) of the left-blogosphere. Yet TNR is writing about the very movement that is defining it:
Just as the Goldwaterites reserved their strongest contempt for the moderates who controlled the GOP, the netroots are at their most single-minded in their opposition to the moderates who they believe control the Democratic Party. The netroots often identify this enemy in amorphous, populist terms--"the Beltway," "the D.C. establishment," etc. When it comes to identifying its adversaries more specifically, the two institutions named most often are the DLC and tnr. Netroots activists speak of these two institutions in stark terms. "This is the modern DLC--an aider and abettor of Right-wing smear attacks against Democrats," wrote Moulitsas, who proceeded to threaten to "make the DLC radioactive." In a posting about tnr, titled "tnr's defection to the Right is now complete," Moulitsas wrote that this magazine "betrayed, once again, that it seeks to destroy the new people-powered movement for the sake of its Lieberman-worshipping neocon owners." Both the DLC and tnr are perpetually described as "dying" or "irrelevant," yet simultaneously possessed of sinister and ubiquitous control over the national discourse.

In reality, of course, the DLC is a political enterprise and tnr a journalistic one; each has on its staff individuals who do not always agree with each other; and neither institution exerts total control over every individual on its payroll. While both the DLC and tnr supported the Iraq war, both stridently opposed almost every other element of the Bush agenda. The overwhelming majority of DLC missives and tnr articles are perfectly congenial to mainstream liberalism and perfectly hostile to the Republican Party of George W. Bush. But these sorts of subtleties generally escape the Manichean analysis that pervades the netroots.

* The death of bi-partisan consensus, at least among political journalists, in the eyes of many readers. The rise of the left-leaning blogosphere means, according to the article, that all political discourse is either left- or right-leaning. There is no 'middle way.'

The netroots understand that this is not a fair fight. As Black (aka Atrios) has argued, you cannot sustain "a Demo- cratic party in which all the leading Democrats are forever running against their own party. Triangulation can work for one man, but when every leading Democrat is constantly falling all over himself (yes, this is exaggeration) to get away from Those Damn Dirty Democrats, you have a party which is without foundation and where capitulation is confused with bipartisanship."

David Broder and others who date back to a kinder and gentler Washington are now coming under attack from the Left, just as they were from the Right once upon a time.

In a post on how the netroots was successfully lobbying the mainstream media, Yglesias wrote, "I might also note that Swampland is suddenly full of posts I find much more agreeable than the ones they were doing early on." His fellow blogger Ezra Klein (no relation), of the Prospect, offered a persuasive explanation of his namesake's more liberal-friendly tone:

It's worth remembering that, for years, the only thing these quasi-liberal columnists heard was how biased, out- of-touch, and incomprehensibly progressive they were. So they began tailoring, consciously or not, their work to defend against those criticisms.

Photo of the Week (Again)

George Bush awards Presidential Medals of Freedom to George Tenet, Paul Bremer, and Tommy Franks in December, 2004.
Courtesy: MSNBC

Escape Artists

In a game that lived up to its billing, Dallas escaped Game 5 and will live to get back to Oakland on Thursday. With Baron Davis having made a scrambling 24-footer to extend Golden State's lead to 9 (112-103) with 3:20 left, the Mavericks -- and especially presumptive MVP Dirk Nowitzki -- stared into the abyss. But Dirk put the Mavs on his back, and banged consecutive three-pointers to cut the lead to 3, and the Mavs ended up closing the game out on a 15-0 run.

The Warriors, having played 45 minutes of mistake-filled (Reggie Miller counted 6 missed layups in the first half) basketball, had nonetheless stormed back from a 21-point deficit after halftime. But in the last three minutes, the Warriors tightened up and had multiple empty possessions when Dallas (by running a double-team at Davis) forced the other players to make plays. The end came when Jason Richardson turned down an open 15-footer with about 10 on the shot clock; the Warriors ended up getting a poor Mickael Pietrus jumper from the corner with about 31 second left, and the game was over.

The pressure now shifts to Warriors -- to some extent -- as the teams prepare for Game Six.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Full Rudy

Interesting profile of Rudy Giuliani as both Mayor and candidate in this month's Vanity Fair. Author Michael Wolff calls him "nuts", but goes on:
It's a Catch-22 kind of nuttiness. What with all his personal issues—the children; the women; the former wives; Kerik and the Mob; his history of interminable, bitter, asinine hissy fits; the look in his eye; and, now, Judi!, his current, prospective, not-ready-for-prime-time First Lady—he'd have to be nuts to think he could successfully run for president. But nutty people don't run for president—certainly they don't get far if they do...

Rudy, arguably, is the most anti-family-values candidate in the race (this or any other). And yet, in some sense—which could be playing well with the right wing—what he may be doing is going to the deeper meaning of family values, which is about male prerogative, an older, stubborn, my-way-or-the-highway, when-men-were-men, don't-tread-on-me kind of thing.

Must-See NBA TV

With the Dallas Mavericks on the brink of elimination, its worth noting that less than one year ago, the same Mavs seemed on the verge of winning an NBA title, up 2-0 on the Heat. Presumptive MVP Dirk Nowitzki is rumored to be feuding with coach Avery Johnson. And Warrior Coach Don Nelson also looks to settle some scores with Dallas owner Mark Cuban.

If Golden State can close the door, this will join other memorable first-round upsets: 1994 Denver (42-40) over Seattle (63-19); 1984 NJ Nets (47-37) (behind Micheal Ray Richardson) over Philadelphia (52-30, defending NBA champs); and 1981 Houston (40-42) over Los Angeles (54-28, also defending champs). (Interestingly, the Celtics were the indirect beneficiaries of two of those upsets -- in 1981 and 1984 -- when they won the title.)

Good TV tonight.