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Is Putin the Right Man to Head Smolensk Crash Investigation?

[ 10 ] April 11, 2010 |

Vladminir Putin has personally taken charge of the investigation of the plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski and much of his upper government and top brass this weekend.

Certainly, this move is meant as a signal of solidarity with and support for the Polish people and government. But how likely is it to be perceived as such? Conspiracy theories about Russia’s possible involvement in the crash began swirling about shortly after news broke and seem to have been exacerbated by this announcement.* Such suggestions are likely unfounded: though one can argue Russia may well gain from a destabilized Poland, all evidence points toward human error and aggravating weather.

But from a PR perspective, that’s hardly the point. Symbolically, the tragedy could not have occurred at a worse time or place in terms of exacerbating tensions between Russia and Poland. For that reason, Polish officials themselves should be involved in heading the official investigation, rather than simply running one in parallel, to allay suspicions and fears and turn this terrible tragedy into an opportunity for mutual cooperation, rather than a return to decades-old recriminations and mistrust.

*As of today, members of Hubdub are staking virtual dollars on whether or not the Polish government will formally lodge an accusation within the next couple of weeks. So far, most predict no – a healthy sign that calmer heads will prevail.

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Belated 2010 NL Preview

[ 6 ] April 11, 2010 |

East:  1. Phi 2. Atl 3. Fla 4. NYM 5. Was I suppose  on some level the Phillies are more vulnerable than they might seem; they feel like a great team and have the core of one, but this core has yet to win more than 93 games in the weak lead.   But you have to think that with Halladay this could be the strongest version yet, and the bullpen has to get better.    There’s been something naggingly unfinished about the Braves since Ted Turner left, this year reflected in the ridiculous Vazquez trade (part of the “let’s play Kansas City As!” game that started with Gillick donating Abreu to the Yankee cause.)   But the team is better than its record the last two years reflect, and if Glaus is healthy except for Melky the lineup is decent, and they have the best pitching depth in the division.    If the Phils have bad luck with injuries, the Braves could push them, and should compete for the wild card.    Speaking of unfinished, the Marlins aren’t going to patch their holes and won’t win the division, but have enough talent to be vaguely competitive.       One can see a superficial case for Mets optimism; there’s some impressive core talent, and the team went to the wire in ’07 and ’08.   The first obvious problem, though, is that except Bay every one of the Mets’ front-line players is coming off an off year, an injury, or both; as a group they’ll be better than last year but not better enough.  The second problem that there’s nothing behind it on offense — the 2B has no power, the RF can’t get on base, the C is a poor-man’s version of the RF, and the 1B is a joke.    And then there’s the pitching — beyond Santana not only was the rotation lousy, but although they’re mostly young they had the peripherals of a 37 year-old junkballer on his last legs (and Perez, the pitcher with the highest upside, was especially gruesome.)    A declining K-Rod won’t get much more support, either.   That’s not a contending team.     The Nationals continue to be a tribute to the aftereffects of syndicate ownership.

1. STL 2.  MIL 3. CIN 4. CHI 5. HOU 6. PIT There’s no way around it — having the best player in baseball is a major edge in a thin division, and having a manager and pitching coach who can get ace performance out of journeyman starters ditto.    Outside the 3-4 slots the offense isn’t very good, but they should win the division anyway.    I figure one of the not untalented but highly flawed Brewers, Reds, and Cubs will make things interesting, but my suggestion that it will be Milwaukee is a pure guess.   The Pirates are terrible but at least are heading in the right direction, while the Astros may be a little better now but it’s not obvious when their next decent team is going to emerge.

1. COL 2. LA (*) 3. SF 4. ARI 5. SD The staff that the Rockies have put together in that park is pretty remarkable; I see this as the year when they’re finally good wire-to-wire, although one really good power hitter in the corners would make that more certain.   The next three teams are all potential contenders if things break right; my preference for the OK-both-ways Dodgers over the all-defense Giants is marginal, although I remain less impressed with the DBacks than most sabermetric types.   The Padres are the Nationals with one really good 1B added.

Hey, My Job Is Easy

[ 11 ] April 11, 2010 |

This new Taibbi classic reminds me of another crucial underpinning of the Robert Samuelson mindset:  since it’s easy to imagine churning out fourth-rate center-right boilerplate at a six-figure salary for as long as you’re able to draw breath (no minimum level of brain function required), why shouldn’t the huge number of people physically and/or mentally destructive jobs wait until 7o too?

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[ 14 ] April 10, 2010 |

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I Used to Hate the Fool in Me, But Only in the Morning

[ 1 ] April 10, 2010 |

DBTs tonight in Lexington!


[ 10 ] April 10, 2010 |

Context makes it particularly tragic.

A plane carrying the Polish president, Lech Kaczynski, his wife and other high-ranking officials crashed in a heavy fog in western Russia on Saturday morning, killing all aboard, Polish officials said.

Russian television showed chunks of still-flaming fuselage scattered in a bare forest near Smolensk, where the president was arriving for a ceremony commemorating the murder of more than 20,000 Polish officers by the Red Army as it invaded Poland….

Among those on board the plane were Mr. Kaczynski; his wife, Maria; former Polish president-in-exile Ryszard Kaczorowski; the deputy speaker of Poland’s parliament, Jerzy Szmajdzin’ski; the head of the president’s chancellery, Wladyslaw Stasiak; and the head of the National Security Bureau, Aleksander Szczygo.

While the death toll included much of the government, several of Warsaw’s paramount leaders were not on board — notably Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and Mr. Komorowski, the head of the lower house of parliament.

noted without comment.

5 minutes of CNN

[ 21 ] April 9, 2010 |

I haven’t glanced at CNN for months, but at the gym today I clicked over to CNN to see what they were saying about Stevens and the upcoming Supreme Court vacancy. I like to think I’m quite aware that CNN is breathtakingly vacuous and has no discernable redeeming value or purpose, but even I was unprepared for what I saw.

The scene opens with former Minnesota governor and 9-11 truther Jesse Ventura, who appears to be the “host” of the program. He is interviewing disgraced and indicted former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on the following topic: Are the Tea Party protesters good for America? this little vignette is wrapping up as I tuned in. Back in studio, an young woman of Asian descent with whom I am not familiar appears to be arguing that Obama and Bush are more or less identical because Bush took us  to war in Iraq, and Obama took us to war in Afganistan. Ventura’s remaining connections to reality are apparently sufficiently robust for him to call bullshit on this particular narrative, and as he is doing so, he is interrupted by an off-screen and previously unseen Ron Paul, who proceeds to speak uninterrupted for approximately 27 minutes on the dangers of creeping socialism. When he pauses for air, Ventura interrupts to observe that he “makes a lot of sense” and they cut to commercial.

At the current rate of deterioration, what will CNN’s programming look like in 5 years? The mind, it boggles.

A Campaign of Dunces…

[ 1 ] April 9, 2010 |

We’ve been unaccountably lax in Mickey coverage. Fortunate, TBogg is on the case.

Thoughts on Stevens

[ 1 ] April 9, 2010 |


Koh and Karlan!

[ 13 ] April 9, 2010 |

Well, if we’re ever going to discuss excellent potential nominees Obama isn’t actually going to consider, today’s the day

My Boycott Will Continue

[ 17 ] April 9, 2010 |

Particularly if it puts me alongside the  immense moral authority of the people who run Augusta National, I’m afraid I’m going to have to join the Editors in taking a firm stand on principle, irrespective of the great sacrifices it may entail:

I learned on the news today that Tiger Woods has been putting his pee-pee in very many ladies.  I am outraged!!!!   Tiger how could you?!?!  I am so outraged, I will never play, or watch, or pay any attention to  golf ever again.  Or, come to think of it, ever before.  I believe that moral values are eternal, and so must be defended in a time-invariant manner.

If nobody else will think if the children, I guess I’ll have to step in!

Stevens Makes It Official

[ 22 ] April 9, 2010 |

No huge surprise here, but John Paul Stevens will be resigning this summer. [UPDATE: more from Liptak.]  I hope Obama will consider that since 1916 this seat on the Court has been held by three-just-three giants: Louis Brandeis, William O. Douglas, and Stevens. (And, personally, I’d prefer a throwback to someone like Douglas, as it says something that a moderate Republican has become the leader of the Court’s liberal wing.) I’ll have more about possible replacements as well as some of JPS’s greatest hits over the coming weeks. Let’s start with his short, classic concurrence in Carhart I:

Although much ink is spilled today describing the gruesome nature of late-term abortion procedures, that rhetoric does not provide me a reason to believe that the procedure Nebraska here claims it seeks to ban is more brutal, more gruesome, or less respectful of “potential life” than the equally gruesome procedure Nebraska claims it still allows. Justice Ginsburg and Judge Posner have, I believe, correctly diagnosed the underlying reason for the enactment of this legislation–a reason that also explains much of the Court’s rhetoric directed at an objective that extends well beyond the narrow issue that this case presents. The rhetoric is almost, but not quite, loud enough to obscure the quiet fact that during the past 27 years, the central holding of Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), has been endorsed by all but 4 of the 17 Justices who have addressed the issue. That holding–that the word “liberty” in the Fourteenth Amendment includes a woman’s right to make this difficult and extremely personal decision–makes it impossible for me to understand how a State has any legitimate interest in requiring a doctor to follow any procedure other than the one that he or she reasonably believes will best protect the woman in her exercise of this constitutional liberty. But one need not even approach this view today to conclude that Nebraska’s law must fall. For the notion that either of these two equally gruesome procedures performed at this late stage of gestation is more akin to infanticide than the other, or that the State furthers any legitimate interest by banning one but not the other, is simply irrational. See U.S. Const., Amdt. 14.