The direction of public opinion is mystifying, really. Everyone seems to understand and accept Bud Selig's epic incompetence and seemingly bottomless capacity for -- to be highly generous -- twisting the truth. Just to pick something at random, Selig can't even embrace the game's best stories -- the allegedly impossible small-payroll successes in Minnesota and Oakland. Those two franchises are models, and Bud calls them aberrations. They should be honored, instead they are belittled. Has there ever been a worse spokesman for the game than Selig?
Doesn't matter. You say it was the players' fault, so it was the players' fault. Since everyone seems fixated on Alex Rodriguez's oft-cited $252 million contract, let's shift the argument from Rodriguez to Rangers owner Tom Hicks. This utter incompetent gave A-Rod nearly $100 million more than the next offer, and then he stood around begging for money and bemoaning the system. He deserves some of George Steinbrenner's money? Why, exactly? So his next ridiculous move doesn't hurt as much? These are the same scions and heirs ("Lucky Sperm Club") whose blue blood curdles every time they're asked to pay sales tax on a yacht, and yet they're lining up to push a luxury tax, which is nothing more than a subsidy for the incompetent.
The luxury tax revenues won't have to be reinvested in the teams. If you honestly believe the money gained from such a tax will translate into better decisions and higher payrolls for poorly run clubs such as the Royals, Phillies and White Sox, you haven't been paying attention.
Oh, and calling it a "competitive balance tax"? Please. Don't insult us any more than you already have. We can't take much more. Until you open the books and prove the losses, some of us will remain skeptical. Do you think for a second that ticket prices will fall if the $3.6 billion is distributed more evenly? Do you think that $6.50 beer would suddenly cost $1.50? Our economics textbooks and our common sense indicate otherwise.
You'd think that those in the Women's Studies departments in the major universities, and activists in the Women's Rights movement, would be in the forefront as supporters of our war against Islamic extremism, based on the kind of hell that strict enforcement of Sharia makes life for anyone with two X chromosomes, but far from condemning their practices, some of their most prominent lights in the movement have come out condemning the war. (A particularly egregious example was when Gloria Steinem was a signatory to the brave condemnation of the US which was published in the Guardian because no American publication dared print such a controversial blah blah blah...)
Where are the human rights activists? Where are the leftists? Why aren't women's advocates raising their voices about this cruelty? Why doesn't Gloria Steinem give a damn about the fate of the women of Afghanistan under the Taliban, as indicated by the fact that she has publicly condemned the military action by the US which had as one of its effects a massive improvement in freedom for those women? Instead of being prisoners in their own nation, and being treated as little better than animals, the women of Afghanistan now walk in public, with their faces open to the fresh air, and they're attending college again instead of having to stop their education by about age 9. They're no longer being cruelly beaten by roving gangs of religious enforcers for leaving their homes without being accompanied by a male relative. And they're once again holding jobs.
Here's his rebuttal against the popular claim that countries never attack unless personally attacked themselves.
First, it is considered acceptable to go to war to defend an ally or to satisfy a treaty obligation to an ally. Second, it is considered acceptable to go to war against a nation which consistently and unrepentantly refuses to carry out its obligations under treaties it has signed. All diplomacy is backed by the threat of force, but that requires the willingness to apply force when all other means of persuasion have failed. Finally, "self defense" covers far more territory than simply the issue of "imminent attack".
DANIEL PIPES ON ISLAMISM: From John Hawkins' Right Wing News blog conducted a solid interview with Middle East expert Daniel Pipes. Here's a sampling:
John Hawkins: Some people have compared Conservative Christians to militant Islamists. How similar are those two groups in your mind?
Daniel Pipes: I think there is no similarity whatsoever. I believe the useful way of seeing a militant Islamist is not in comparison with Christians, Jews, or other members of religious groups. It's more useful to compare the militant Islamists with the Fascists or Communists and their radically utopian ideology. Yes its wellspring is religion, but its final form is ideology. There is no comparable Christian radically utopian ideology or Christian totalitarian ideology, nor Jewish, nor Hindu, nor any other religions.
SPORTSWRITERS' ARROGANCE: With fans from all over the political spectrum, decrying how overpaid and lazy and (insert negative adjective here) baseball players are, I find it useful to point out this column yesterday by Washington Post sportswriter Michael Wilbon, who gets paid several hundred-thousand dollars to write about sports. Note this useful excerpt:
Personally, I grew disgusted with baseball in '94. I became a sportswriter so that I could cover baseball, but now I go once a year, if that, a luxury I can get away with living in metropolitan Washington. My colleagues laugh because on virtually every reference to the game, I refer to it as "stupid baseball."
So Mike Wilbon's a sports writer. He gets paid close to $500,000 (at least, not counting book deals) to opine about all sports for the Washington Post, and rant and rave on various ESPN programming. Part of his job description, one would think, would be to watch baseball games and follow the baseball season. After all, that's what he gets paid a half-million a year to do. But now, witty Wilbon calls the national pastime "stupid baseball" (how original), and never bothers to keep up with the sport. Some might say that's just as good, based on his ignorant coverage of the labor situation earlier up in the piece, but I think it's an outrage. Wilbon's publicly proclaiming that he doesn't give a damn about baseball, even though that's what he's paid to cover.
And then there's this gem:
It's the only game whose caretakers over the last 20 years have been so dumb as to leave the most lucrative available market, D.C., untapped.
How many lucrative markets in football, which Wilbon calls "is the sport that grips America" have been left open? Los Angeles, the number two market hasn't had a team since 1995. Houston, a top-five market, just got a team this season after watching their team bolt to Tennessee several years back. Football owners have been moving teams with loyal, rabid fan bases out of sheer greed. (Bob Irsay, anyone? Art Modell?) Yet it's baseball labor that's evil, and football that's great? Go figure.
In basketball, St. Louis, Kansas City and San Diego are among top-30 markets that don't have teams. In fact, it's baseball that best represents the top 30 markets -- with the one notable exception of D.C. (And, there is a team 40 miles up the road in Baltimore.)
So Wilbon gets paid a half-million dollars to write this tripe? I think us sports readers should protest outside the Washington Post offices.
WELCOME TO AMERICAN U.: Adam Shapiro, the Palestinian activist known as the "Jewish Taliban," was supposed to be attending American University this semester, after being deported from Israel for harrassing soldiers in a war zone. Well, I saw the creep attend one of his first classes at American U. today. I was tempted to heckle him, but I restrained myself. For reference, here's the Aug. 9 story from the Daily News:
A controversial Jewish peace activist from Brooklyn is about to be booted out of Israel.
Adam Shapiro, branded a turncoat by fellow Jews for opposing the occupation of Palestinian territories, was arrested during a demonstration Wednesday.
He's now sitting in a jail packed with common criminals and likely to be sent back to the U.S. on Sunday. Shapiro's wife, Huwaida Arraf, said she has been barred from seeing her husband and that soldiers roughed him up. She said Shapiro has asthma and needs his medicine.
"I'm worried about him," said Arraf, a Palestinian-American. "The Israelis psychologically mess with peace activists by putting them in cells and telling the criminals they are terrorists."
A police spokeswoman said Shapiro and eight other activists - a group that includes two other Americans - are safe.
Shapiro's lawyer, Gaby Lasky, said there's little she can do to stop the deportation.
"Israeli law gives the minister of the interior wide discretion to issue deportation orders without giving an explanation," Lasky said. The other captured American activists were identified by the International Solidarity Movement as Javier Cortez of Los Angeles and Charles Williams of Illinois.
If the Israelis deport Shapiro, they'll be saving him plane fare home. Arraf said her husband is to begin a graduate program in international studies at American University in Washington next month.
So this guy saves a couple thousands dollars in plane fare for sitting in an Israeli jail -- generally known for being very lax with inmates -- for a week. Sounds like a good deal to me.
DICK CHENEY SPEAKS: ...and his comments clearly show the Bush administration is serious about a regime change in Iraq. Here's the text of his comments to the Veterans of Foreign Wars group.