Thursday Reads

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Good Morning!!

I hope you’ll forgive my provincialism, but the only news that really matters to me this morning is that the Red Sox mopped the floor with the Cardinals last night, winning Game 1 of the 2013 World Series 8-1. Chad Finn of The Boston Globe has the story: 

If you’re one of those straggling Red Sox fans who still believes in curses and ghosts and various other apparitions despite all of the affirming joys that have occurred since 2004, have I got a cockamamie theory to sell you.

Here goes: I think in Game 1 of the World Series Wednesday night at Fenway Park, the 2013 St. Louis Cardinals were somehow possessed by their baseball forefathers of 100 years ago.

Really. Think about it: The 2013 Cardinals arrived as the National League representative in this World Series with a sterling reputation and a vast reservoir of respect, having just vanquished the talented Dodgers with a combination of a deep lineup, a deeper bullpen, and a starting rotation led by true ace Adam Wainwright.

So what happens when they finally take the field? The Cardinals make three errors, botch a popup to the pitcher, and Wainwright, a strike-throwing machine who walked 35 batters all season, requires 31 pitches to get through the first inning. After the first, the Cardinals were already in a 3-0 hole that became 5-0 an inning later.

The way Jon Lester was dealing for the Red Sox, the five-run hole felt insurmountable, and it was. The outcome was determined long before the final 8-1 score became official.

It was pretty much over in the first inning. Then Red Sox fans could sit back and just enjoy it. I doubt if the rest of the games will be that easy, but winning the first one is a big plus. Game 2 tonight!

Now that I’ve bored everyone but myself, Pat J., and MABlue if he’s lurking out there, I’ll move on to the political news.

Republican disrespect for the President of the United States has reached an all-time low, according to Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, who claims that an “unnamed GOP leader” told President Obama to his face at the White House, “I can’t stand to look at you.” Todd S. Purdum at Politico:

Such an insult — delivered eyeball to eyeball — would trump Rep. Joe Wilson’s shouted “You lie!” on the House floor during the Obama’s health care speech to Congress in 2009.

It would top former Vice President Dick Cheney’s terse suggestion on the Senate floor in 2004 that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) should perform an anatomically improbable act. And it would make Dick Armey’s heated advice to a scolding Bill Clinton (“Perhaps it’s my Western upbringing, but I don’t listen very well when someone’s pointing a finger in my face!”) during the 1995 government shutdown seem positively polite by comparison.

Perhaps only John Quincy Adams’s dismissal of Thomas Jefferson as “a slur upon the moral government of the world” sounds worse — and Adams made that assessment in the late 1820s, after Jefferson was dead.

The White House and John Boehner are both denying it, but Durbin is sticking by his statement.

In fact, the alleged dis words are so personal, so passionate, so disaffected-high-school-sweetheart in tone — “I cannot even stand to look at you” — that it’s hard to imagine any grown man saying them to another — much less to the president. “What are the chances of an honest conversation with someone who has just said something so disrespectful?” Durbin’s Facebook post asked with understatement.

Frankly, I have no problem believing it. Which “GOP leader” do you think it was?

And how are “old-style” Republicans supposed to deal with the new GOP? John G. Taft, descendant of President William Howard Taft, wrote about their struggle in The New York Times: The Cry of the True Republican:

Five generations of Tafts have served our nation as unwaveringly stalwart Republicans, from Alphonso Taft, who served as attorney general in the late 19th century, through William Howard Taft, who not only was the only person to be both president of the United States and chief justice of the United States but also served as the chief civil administrator of the Philippines and secretary of war, to my cousin, Robert Taft, a two-term governor of Ohio.

As I write, a photograph of my grandfather, Senator Robert Alphonso Taft, looks across at me from the wall of my office. He led the Republican Party in the United States Senate in the 1940s and early 1950s, ran for the Republican nomination for president three times and was known as “Mr. Republican.” If he were alive today, I can assure you he wouldn’t even recognize the modern Republican Party, which has repeatedly brought the United States of America to the edge of a fiscal cliff — seemingly with every intention of pushing us off the edge.

Read the rest at the link; it’s not long.

Another disaffected Republican, Andrew Sullivan, reacted to Taft’s op-ed by suggesting that we are approaching The Decline And Fall Of Christianism.

The fusion of politics and religion – most prominently the fusion of the evangelical movement and the Republican party – has been one of the most damaging developments in recent American history. It has made Republicanism not the creed of realists, pragmatists and compromise but of fundamentalists – on social and foreign policy, and even fiscal matters. And once maintaining inerrant doctrine becomes more important than, you know, governing a complicated, divided society, you end up with the extremism we saw in the debt ceiling crisis. When doctrine matters more than actually doing anything practical you end up with Cruz cray-cray….

But there is some light on the horizon. The Catholic hierarchy has been knocked sideways by the emergence of Pope Francis and his eschewal of their fixation on homosexuality, contraception and abortion. That fixation – essentially a Christianist and de factoRepublican alliance among Protestants and Catholic leaders – has now been rendered a far lower priority than, say, preaching the Gospel or serving the poor and the sick. Francis has also endorsed secularism as the proper modern context for religious faith: “I say that politics is the most important of the civil activities and has its own field of action, which is not that of religion. Political institutions are secular by definition and operate in independent spheres.”

Sullivan claims something similar is happening among younger evangelicals. I don’t buy it, but you can check out Sullivan’s arguments at his blog.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel suspects that the NSA has been bugging her cell phone, and she’s furious about it.

From the Guardian:

The furore over the scale of American mass surveillance revealed by Edward Snowden shifted to an incendiary new level on Wednesday evening when Angela Merkel of Germany called Barack Obama to demand explanations over reports that the US National Security Agency was monitoring her mobile phone.

Merkel was said by informed sources in Germany to be “livid” over the reports and convinced, on the basis of a German intelligence investigation, that the reports were utterly substantiated.

The German news weekly, Der Spiegel, reported an investigation by German intelligence, prompted by research from the magazine, that produced plausible information that Merkel’s mobile was targeted by the US eavesdropping agency. The German chancellor found the evidence substantial enough to call the White House and demand clarification.

The outrage in Berlin came days after President François Hollande of France also called the White House to confront Obama with reports that the NSA was targeting the private phone calls and text messages of millions of French people.

According to a Merkel spokesperson,

Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, made plain that Merkel upbraided Obama unusually sharply and also voiced exasperation at the slowness of the Americans to respond to detailed questions on the NSA scandal since the Snowden revelations first appeared in the Guardian in June.

Merkel told Obama that “she unmistakably disapproves of and views as completely unacceptable such practices, if the indications are authenticated,” Seifert said. “This would be a serious breach of confidence. Such practices have to be halted immediately.”

The Guardian doesn’t report how President Obama responded to Merkel’s outraged complaints. Maybe he just sat there listening passively?

Hillary Clinton was heckled by an audience member during a speech at the University of Buffalo last night, according to WIVB in Amherst, NY.

Former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke to a large crowd at the University at Buffalo Wednesday night, as part of the university’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

Clinton spoke to a sold-out crowd in Alumni Arena, and began her address by talking about the stagnation in Washington and its recent impact on the U.S. economy after a partial government shutdown.

“Recently in Washington, we’ve seen what happens when politicians operate on scorched earth, not on common ground,” Clinton said.

It was shortly thereafter a man stood up and started shouting, “Benghazi, Benghazi, you let them die.”

Clinton did not stop speaking, but addressed the heckler by saying that solutions to problems facing Americans start by sitting down and talking and listening, not yelling, which prompted the audience to give her a standing ovation.

I guess that’s a taste of what we’ll have to deal with if Hillary decides to run for President in 2016. Read more about her speech at the link.

Heidi cruz

You know how Sen. Ted Cruz wants so much to kill the Affordable Care Act so that millions of Americans will continue to live without health care coverage? And how he voted to take away health care subsidies from Congress and Congressional staffers? Well, it turns out he wouldn’t have been affected if that had happened. From the Atlantic: Ted Cruz Has a Health Insurance Plan from Goldman Sachs.

Senator Ted Cruz’s wife Heidi Nelson Cruz confirmed on Wednesday that her husband has health insurance through her job at Goldman Sachs. That puts to rest a question opened, but never answered, by Senator Dick Durbin during Cruz’s 20-hour talkathon on the Senate floor against Obamacare. The details come from an interesting New York Times profile of Nelson Cruz, a regional head of a Goldman Sachs division in Houston. Here’s the Times:

And while her husband has been evasive about where he gets his health coverage, Mrs. Cruz was blunt.“Ted is on my health care plan,” said Mrs. Cruz, who has worked in Goldman’s investment management division for eight years.

Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for the senator, confirmed the coverage, which Goldman said was worth at least $20,000 a year. “The senator is on his wife’s plan, which comes at no cost to the taxpayer and reflects a personal decision about what works best for their family,” she said.

Yes, Teddy-boy is covered by insurance provided by his wife’s employer, yet he would have gladly deprived Congressional staffers of their coverage. What an asshole!

Those are my contributions for today. What are you reading and blogging about? Please post your links in the comment thread.


46 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. When I saw that the Red Sox won last night, I knew you would be in a kick ass mood this morning BB!

    • bostonboomer says:

      They didn’t just win. They made the Cardinals look like little leaguers. I hope they’ll put up more of a fight tonight. Sadly, Carlos Beltran had to be taken to the hospital after he crashed into the bullpen fence and made a spectacular catch of David Ortiz’s near-grand slam.

    • bostonboomer says:

      JJ

      I have a very bad feeling about that murder of the teacher in Danvers, MA. I won’t share my hypothesis until we know more. I’ll just say that I do not believe a 14-year-old boy would murder a teacher just out of the blue.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        I wholeheartedly agree. The rumors are floating out there, one being they had a mutual interest in one another.

        The strangest part is that he was new to the area, having just recently transferred from another state.

        The entire event makes no sense.

        • bostonboomer says:

          OK, now you’ve guessed my hypothesis. She was 24 and liked to wear jeans and Uggs like the students. He was a lot bigger than most 14-year-olds. Sorry, but I’m suspicious.

          • Pat Johnson says:

            Agreed.

          • ANonOMouse says:

            Wow, I hate to admit it but the same thought crossed my mind. The young man was from a community north of where I live and his uncle was interviewed on TV last night. According to his uncle he had never been in any trouble and was a good student and an all around good kid. His uncle said he was going to travel to MA to talk to the young man in person to see if he could find out what happened.

          • bostonboomer says:

            Good to know. Thanks, Mouse. He just doesn’t sound like the kind of kid who would suddenly become violent. Obviously, I could be wrong.

          • bostonboomer says:

            Philip Chism was acting different the past few weeks. He stayed after math class with Colleen Ritzer on Tuesday.

            Students in Danvers Wednesday said Chism, who moved to Danvers from Tennessee this summer, played soccer, focused on academics and liked to draw in a notebook he kept with him at all times.

            “The last couple weeks, he like totally faded out,” said Kara Behen, 14.

            Behen said she was in Ritzer’s last algebra class with Chism Tuesday, from 1-1:55 p.m.

            Chism stayed after school Tuesday with Ritzer, Behen said. Police found Ritzer’s body early Wednesday in the woods behind the high school.

          • NW Luna says:

            Lots of people like to wear jeans, and Uggs (though I can’t understand why anyone would want to wear Uggs except inside the house).

            Although rare, there are cases where kids have committed murder, for reasons unbeknownst to anyone. I’ve seen some things that have caused me to believe that anyone is capable of anything, even if they act ostensibly “normal” on the surface. Granted, those extremes of behavior don’t occur most of the time.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    No matter the eventual outcome, the Red Sox showed last night the “thrills” that those of us in Red Sox Nation have experienced since April! Determination, talent, and skill!

    As for the congressman who made that statement to Obama’s face (and I have no doubt to the veracity) I am only surprised he did not include the word “boy” at the end of the sentence.

    Call me biased if you like but most of the hatred seems to be served up with a lot “drawls” that are regionally based.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Who do you think did it?

      Eric Cantor?
      Mitch McConnell?

      I don’t know if Ted Cruz qualifies as a “GOP leader.”

      • bostonboomer says:

        Pat,

        I can’t wait until 8:00 tonight! I’ll probably be listening to WEEI all day long in anticipation.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        My money is on a Tea Party congressman. One of the “newbies” who believes they are on a “mission from god”, coming from a “safe district”, and unafraid of showing his/her own contempt.

        McConnell and Cantor are much “too seasoned” to allow themselves to be quoted in that context even if they “share” the same mindset.

        We’ll find out soon since this “report” has legs and Durbin is on the hot seat himself for revealing the comment which has them calling into question his own veracity.

        Besides, these Tea Partiers are nuts enough to want to come forward and “take credit” to show the folks back home their lack of respect which in those quarters is highly regarded.

        • bostonboomer says:

          The only problem with that is that Durbin said it was a “GOP leader.” I don’t think he’d say that about a freshman Congressman.

        • ANonOMouse says:

          If it was truly a leader, I have my money on Tequila Boehner. You can sense and see the contempt he has for Obama every time he walks before the cameras after a meeting with him. I know Boehner’s office has denied it, but who would expect him to admit it? It sounds a lot like Alcohol talking. And I don’t think it would be wise to reveal who leveled that sort of insult at a sitting POTUS. It might make him temporarily popular in Wing-Nutterville, but there’s no long term upside to a GOP leader behaving so boorishly.

          I also don’t think POTUS or his press secretary would admit it because that sort of admission diminishes the power of the office, not just for this POTUS, but for every successor.

  3. RalphB says:

    Yep, Ted Cruz is a humongous asshole! But I’ve concluded that virtually all of them are, it’s a matter of degree.

    Harold Meyerson is on a tear. The Republican Party has reached its Ninotchka period.

    WaPo: A tea party purge among the GOP

    … Today’s tea party-ized Republicans speak less for Wall Street or Main Street than they do for the seething resentments of white Southern backwaters and their geographically widespread but ideologically uniform ilk. Their theory of government, to the extent that they have one, derives from John C. Calhoun’s doctrine of nullification — that states in general and white minorities in particular should have the right to overturn federal law and impede majority rule. Like their predecessors in the Jim Crow South, today’s Republicans favor restricting minority voting rights if that is necessary to ensure victory at the polls.

    The remarkable resurgence of these ancient and despicable doctrines is rooted in the politics of demographic and cultural despair. …

  4. bostonboomer says:

    For any Oreo cookie and popcorn addicts out there. It’s not my cup of tea, but….

  5. Pat Johnson says:

    Huff Post is reporting the name of the congressman who insulted Obama to his face:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/24/harry-reid-pete-sessions_n_4156453.html

    No surprise here!

    • RalphB says:

      That I can believe. He’s a loose cannon from way back.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        Poor Ralph, you must often feel like “a skunk at the garden party” coming from that state.

        • RalphB says:

          You are not kidding there! Thank goodness for this blue dot in Austin!!

          • dakinikat says:

            The thought of living in Ft. Worth was giving me the creeps … I really dodged a bullet.

          • RalphB says:

            I have to admit it was a bit concerning. I lived in Republican Plano for about 20 years but they were nothing like today’s crop of Republicans. I heard from a friend that the more affluent were still mosty moderate and becoming less Republican these days.

            I’m afraid the less affluent places run by Republicans will turn into real hell holes.

    • bostonboomer says:

      No, not a surprise. Thanks for the link.

    • Fannie says:

      That’s no way to treat our president. We need to send the senate box loads of liquid ammonia hydroxide, it is a great cleaning agent, and effective to spray when members of dingy GOP party come around. Time to wash them up, until they are gone.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    TPM: What Is Going On In Wisconsin — And Why Is It So Secret?

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/what-even-is-a-wisconsin-john-doe-investigation

  7. RalphB says:

    OMFG, unbelievable!

    Texas judge forced to resign after caught texting instructions to assistant DA during trial

    Oh, the hilarity that is the phrase “criminal justice system.” Talk to any defense attorney and they’ll tell you how the deck is stacked against defendants and defense lawyers. The ideal of “innocent until proven guilty” has become little more than a disclaimer tacked onto cop-centered reality shows. Defendants are guilty until the jury is somehow tricked by the defense into handing down a “not guilty” verdict. A lot of effort goes towards dissuading defendants from even making it this far, as prosecutors will present worst-case scenarios comprised of every violation conceivable in order to get an agreement to plead guilty to a lesser charge.

    The prevailing perception that the person charged is guilty, with the only answer yet to be determined is how guilty, makes defending arrestees an uphill battle. Judge (former judge) Elizabeth Coker took this uphill battle, increased the grade to 85 degrees, covered it with a sheet of ice and sprinkled it with a 50/50 blend of Teflon and motor oil. …

  8. Prolix says:

    There is little wonder why Sen. Teddy Cruz (R-Canada by way of TX) isn’t a fan of the ACA. Being that he is covered by a Goldman Sachs plan, narcissism was never a pre-existing condition.

  9. RalphB says:

    tpm: George Soros Backs ‘Ready For Hillary’ PAC

    Liberal billionaire investor George Soros backed Ready for Hillary on Thursday, the super PAC organizing support for a possible 2016 presidential run by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    “George Soros is delighted to join more than one million Americans in supporting Ready for Hillary,” said Michael Vachon, Soros’s political director, in a statement. “His support for Ready for Hillary is an extension of his long-held belief in the power of grassroots organizing.”

    Soros will co-chair the PAC’s national finance council, which is unaffiliated with Hillary Clinton but is working to persuade the former First Lady into running for president.

    Run, Hillary, Run!

    • Fannie says:

      Wow…………….he’s got diamonds for his teeth.

    • NW Luna says:

      Soros doesn’t really believe in the power of grass-roots organizing, he believes in the power of money. Nonetheless I’m excited at the news, since I’ve been ready for Hillary for quite some time!

  10. mablue2 says:

    Oh I missed the shoutout yesterday.

    How can you bore me with my Red Sox beine the the World Series after some spectacular games?