Archive for August, 2005

More Reasons to Dislike The Red Sox

Posted on August 31st, 2005 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

They’re Jesus freaks who believe that in playing baseball, they are glorifying God.

The Sox, according to this article in the Boston Globe, have more evangelical Christians than any other team in baseball.

”This is our platform, our place to speak our faith and live our faith,” pitcher Mike Timlin said. ”This is a special gift from God, to play baseball, and if we can spread God’s word by doing that, then we’ve almost fulfilled our calling.”

What a load of crap. As if God gives a damn that the Sox won the World Series. (If so, he must really love the Florida Marlins, who have, in their short existence, won twice as many World Series as the Sox have in the past nine decades.)

I wonder what Timlin, Curt Schilling, et al have to say about Johnny Damon’s stripper wife. (Perhaps they’ve tried to “convert” her? She could be Schilling’s only save of the year.) And I wonder if they’ve read the article in the new issue of Boston magazine about the well-known Sox player who was recently conducting a flagrant affair with a 19-year-old freshman at Northeastern University?

Speaking of National Parks

Posted on August 31st, 2005 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

…did everyone see this NYT editorial about the administration’s secret plan to trash them? One of Dick Cheney’s former aides wants to open all the national parks to snowmobiling, off-roading, and other “recreational” activities. He also wants to sell religious literature there and strip any reference to evolution from park materials. And so on.

A couple of things about this…

First, the president needs to pay closer attention to what’s going on in his administration. Even if he supports this, there’s no real political gain to be had in such a plan. How many millions of Americans go to the Grand Canyon and love its pristine, unspoiled nature? And how many Americans really want to ride all-terrain vehicles in the Grand Canyon? I have to believe the first group is a lot larger than the second.

Second, Dick Cheney and the people who work for him have a very odd view of nature. Under his soft-spoken manner, Cheney is an extremist, and that soft-spoken manner only makes him more dangerous. My old colleague, Robert Sam Anson, is working on a book about Cheney’s role in the Bush presidency. Anson’s an old-school investigative journalist, and I can’t wait for the book.

Third, how many other wacko right-wing ideologues are tunneling around in the depths of the Bush administration, making mischief in areas of policy that no one’s paying any attention to while we’re at war?

Cindy Sheehan on the Tube

Posted on August 31st, 2005 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I missed a lot of current events while I was in Mexico, mostly on purpose; things are kinda grim right now—poverty rate up; gas prices up; national parks, under attack; killings in Iraq, up; Pat Roberston, advocating assassination; Bush vacation, still continuing—and sometimes you just need to take a break. Plus, it’s hard to talk about US affairs while in any other country in the world, because everyone else just thinks the United States has lost its mind. (Funnily enough, just like they did when the GOP was making such a hoo-hah out of Monica Lewinsky….why does the GOP continue to do these things that make no sense to anyone beyond our borders?) I’m sufficiently a patriot so that I don’t like to travel to another country and trash the United States…but on the other hand, how can you defend the Bush administration these days?

So, I took a break.

I eased back into politics last night by watching Cindy Sheehan giving an interview to Bill Maher on Real Time with Bill Maher. There are times when I think Sheehan is loopy, or worse, like when she talks about “Palestine.” But when she sticks to the subject of the war in Iraq, she is pretty impressive: thoughtful, hard to fluster, and moral without being preachy. She has two things going for her: she’s honest, and she speaks common sense. You can tell, that’s what drives the right-wingers nuts about her. She’s not fancy, and she speaks the truth—her truth, at least. They want to discredit her, but it’s not so easy to do.

I think that’s what makes her such a powerful, if unexpected, counterpoint to the president. When he talks of Iraq these days, he’s neither making sense nor being honest; it’s hard to believe that even he believes what he’s saying about all the terrific progress we’re making there. Bush has a credibility gap, and his only response to the problem is to keep repeating the same rhetoric that worked in the months after 9/11.

It’s enough to make me wonder what Karl Rove is up to…because a president who once showed such deft political skills seems to have acquired a tin ear. Meanwhile, Sheehan is acquiring a touch of Harriet Beecher Stowe—the little woman who, to paraphrase Lincoln, didn’t start a war, but may be ending one.

Sometimes Blogger Drives You Crazy…

Posted on August 30th, 2005 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

…like when you write an entire post about Mexico, and it vanishes when you hit the “publish post” button, never to reappear.

So I’m going to see if I can muster the patience to rewrite that post, and in the meantime, here’s a photo of a new friend I made in Mexico—in the Gulf of Mexico, to be exact. I’d guess he—though actually I have no idea if he’s a he—was about twelve feet from wing to wing.

The World is Getting Smaller

Posted on August 24th, 2005 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

…and yet, there are still remarkable, out of the way places where you really do feel far away from it all. Like the place where I am now, a Mexican island in the Gulf of Mexico. I’d tell you the name, but I don’t want everyone to know the secret of this miraculous, beautiful place. I’m selfish that way. Suffice it to say that you can see from one side of the island to the other; there is no pavement, there are no cars; the water is about 85 degrees and clear and clean; and the people are warm and welcoming.

This morning I hopped on a boat with my dive buddy, Peter, and we motored out about an hour and a half into the Gulf to go snorkeling with whale sharks. Do you know them? They’re the largest fish in the ocean, but calm and gentle. And did I mention large? We swam with two, the second of which was 25, maybe 30 feet long…but allowed us close enough to touch it, if we wanted to. At one point I managed to swim alongside the animal and make eye contact with it; its eye was about the size of my fist. From the front, I saw an enormous mouth, about as wide as my outspread arms. Looking down the body, I couldn’t see the tail…until I drifted a bit, or the shark swam a bit, and I passed over a striking black body with white spots and a massive, powerful tail. A couple of remoras were hanging on for the ride, and schools of small silver fish were hanging out around the whale’s mouth–hoping, I suppose, for some sort of plankton spillage. (Any naturalists out there who could inform me what was really going on?)

The whale sharks weren’t the only remarkable creatures feeding on the plankton at the top of the warm sea; there were also manta rays gliding along. Diving earlier on this trip, I’d seen some eagle rays feeding, and they are beautiful, unearthly creatures. But the manta rays are so large, it’s a little hard to conceive of; I’d guess the wingspan of one we saw was a good fifteen-feet across.

More to come…

See You in September

Posted on August 16th, 2005 in Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

I’m off to Mexico to do some diving and, I hope, see some of these. I’ll check in from time to time, but really back closer to Labor Day. Be well, everyone. And stay safe. It’s a crazy world out there these days.

You Know You’re in Trouble When…

Posted on August 16th, 2005 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Here’s a true story told to me by an executive friend at a Fortune 500 company. Probably a Fortune 100 company, I think.

The company, which shall remain nameless, is planning an event in Massachusetts, and organizers were discussing speakers to invite to address the attendees. Larry Summers’ name came up, and though there was some question about whether he’d be too controversial, still it was thought that he would certainly make an interesting speaker.

So the idea was circulated to a larger audience within the company, including the CEO. And word came back from the top to nix the plan: Having Larry Summers speak at a company function “would not reflect well” on the company….

Are the Bush Girls AWOL?

Posted on August 15th, 2005 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Thanks in large part to Cindy Sheehan, people are starting to raise the issue of why Jenna and Barbara Bush aren’t serving in the military. It’s a tough question, but I think it’s a fair one. The President of the United States is calling on American young people to volunteer to go to war, but his own daughters, who are certainly of the appropriate age, are better known for their drunken nightclub escapades than for any acts of patriotism.

There’s a precedent for prodding Bush on this question. Back in 1993, when Bill and Hillary Clinton moved to Washington, they decided to enroll Chelsea in a private, rather than public, school. Their choice; whatever. But the press asked the Clintons about that decision, and they had to defend it—publicly. (And unlike the Bush daughters now, Chelsea was a minor.)

It’s pretty simple, really. The military doesn’t have enough soldiers; the president believes that this is a good and right war; he has two daughters who could enlist in the military, but haven’t. This doesn’t add up. So here’s a question I think a White House reporter should ask the president: “President Bush, if your own two daughters won’t enlist, how can you expect anyone else’s children to join the military?”

The War Is Over?

Posted on August 14th, 2005 in Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

That, at least, is the argument made by Frank Rich in today’s Times. Whatever the president may be saying, Rich argues, “the country has already made the decision for Mr. Bush. We’re outta there.”

I think Rich may be right: there does seem to be something fundamental that’s transpired in the past week or so. Maybe it’s the combination of increased mortality in Iraq (all those Ohio deaths); Cindy Sheehan’s meta-protest; and a Pentagon general talking about a schedule for troop withdrawal.

And as I’ve noted before, Bush’s rhetoric about the rationale for the war seems increasingly…dumb. And I don’t use that word glibly. What I mean is that when he says we’re in Iraq because it’s a locus (not a word he’d use) of terrorism, we all know that it is such only because we invaded the country, and it wasn’t before. When he says that we’re fighting the terrorists over there so that we don’t have to confront them here, in our “homeland”—God, I hate that word, what was wrong with “country”?—the hollowness of the argument is so obvious, it’s almost embarrassing. Hence: dumb. Bush is trying to convince us of things that are patently untrue, and while it may have worked for some time, the rote repetition of these lines is making the president look out of touch and stupid.

This war, which never had a deep well of public support anyway, is fast losing whatever support it did have.

I recognize that this represents a political opportunity for Democrats and opponents of the war. Fair enough. But before progressives jump completely aboard the Cindy Sheehan bandwagon, we need to remember something Bill Clinton pointed out on CNN the other day: Whatever the reason for us going into Iraq, we are there now, and it’s in our interest to have a successful outcome there. Democrats can’t just sit back and enjoy the president’s problems…they need to come up with some solutions. And just saying what a hero Cindy Sheehan is isn’t enough.

Back in Woods Hole…

Posted on August 10th, 2005 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

It’s week two of research up here, and once again my Internet access is pretty limited, so my blogging will be as well. But I figure that August is a slow month for all of you as well, and you’re probably on the beach or out hiking, rather than sitting in front of your computer blog-reading… At least, I hope you are!

Just wait till after Labor Day, when things will really start hopping.