Author Archive

Leonard Pitts won a Pulitzer Prize for many good reasons. A recent column on the perils of newspapers offering anonymity to their readers is an excellent example of why Pitts is so good.

A newspaper offering anonymity (the Albuquerque Journal calls it “Speak Up) is the print equivalent of talk radio. It rarely adds anything of value to either medium. It often adds ignorance and anger, if not downright hateful words. It’s a bad idea.

From the family values political party comes a bondage/stripper/lesbian story. (No … really … bondage/stripper/lesbian … all on the expense account.

Politico reports: 

The Daily Caller is standing by a story that was denounced by the Republican National Committee on Monday highlighting the committee’s decision to expense nearly $2,000 spent at a “bondage-themed” night club.  At the same time, Daily Caller Founder Tucker Carlson is saying the site “did not claim that Michael Steele personally visited” the club, just hours after including it in a list of “Steele’s travels.”

When I decided to take up blogging again (I know, I know, I’ve been MIA the last few days), I mentioned that I’d probably be doing a fair amount of aggregating, which is nothing more than an extension of what I do for (to?) friends. I come across stories and columns I think they might want to read and send them off to the friend’s Inbox.

So here’s today’s aggregation tango:


I know it’s early, but I’m ready to declare the Albuquerque Journal’s ($ sub. req.) sports editor, Randy Harrison, as Editor’s Note Writer of the Year.

An anonymous writer to Sports Speak Up lambastes Mark Smith in a long paragraph about Smith’s alleged sins in arguing that Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari should be coach of the year. The writer gives no mercy to the idiot Mark Smith.

The Journal sports desk, bless them, allows the writer to spool out enough rope to hang himself and then drops in a gentle note:

Whether Calipari deserves the award is debatable, but this much is not: Rick Wright, not Mark Smith, wrote the comment.”

At least now we know why it’s good to be anonymous.

(Note: The link goes to Sports Speak Up for the full comment, but I couldn’t find the comment that appeared in the print edition. This probably is the Luddite in me coming out. Maybe you’ll have better luck.)


FDR and the COURT

A book review in The New York Times looks at a history of Franklin Roosevelt’s attempt to “pack” the court.

Historian Alan Brinkley writes: “He proposed a “reform” of the courts that would, among other things, have added an additional justice to the Supreme Court for every current justice over the age of 70. It became the most controversial proposal of his presidency — so much so that it nearly paralyzed his administration for over a year and destroyed much of the fragile unity of the Democratic coalition.”



A friend sends a report from Rasmussen in which the pollster says Diane Denish has a comfortable lead over everyone in the Republican gubernatorial race. Of course, it’s early and these things can and often do change, if Rasmussen is to believed, the Republicans have work to do.



Not bad alliteration there, eh? A four-bagger even. David Frum, former Bush speechwriter (he coined “axis of evil”) wrote in his blog that Republicans had only one group of people to blame for their troubles — Republicans.

Well, in the land of the ideological pure, you can’t be running around saying things like that. Frum explains how he got fired from the American Enterprise Institute.



What do you do when reality doesn’t square up with your propaganda? You follow the advice of Monty Python and RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!

Republican Eric Cantor, claiming it wasn’t just the right-wingers throwing their own violent party, said his office had been shot at. Took a bullet through the front window it did, by gosh. The shooter is unknown, but you know in your heart it had be an evil liberal.

Along came the cops who investigated and don’t you hate it when this happens. The police said a gun had been fired somewhere straight up in the air and the bullet came down on the window of a Virginia office belonging to the Republican. It didn’t even pierce the blinds.

So what did Cantor do? Held a quick press conference, took no questions and Monty Python’ed his way out of there as fast as he could.



All right, so the Rev. Jim Wallis is a liberal. He’s still a Christian, isn’t he? Glenn Beck says any church that says social justice is important is a communist church. Or socialist church. Or Nazi church. Something like that. It’s hard to go in a straight line when Glenn Beck is being Glenn Beck.

Rev. Wallis begs to differ. The question for Beck: What would Jesus do? The answer: Not what Glenn Beck does.



Writing in the Washington Post, Colbert King says we’ve seen the enraged faces of the Tea Party at another time in American history. Think the 60s. Think the South. Think the faces of those who would intimidate children at the schoolhouse door or Americans trying to vote.

Eric Zorn at the Chicago Tribune has collected a sampling of health reform doomsayers. It makes for interesting reading, especially when juxtaposed with Ronald Reagan’s view of Medicare way back when.

Zorn writes:

There’s a wonderful 1961 recording on the Internet (here, with a transcript) of Reagan opposing a health care program for seniors. Why? Because, he said, it would soon tell doctors where they had to live, and from there we’d be “a short step to all the rest of socialism” where a person would have to “wait for the government to tell them where he will go to work and what he will do.”
If a Medicare-style entitlement passed, warned Reagan, “one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.”

Susan Jacoby, writing in The New York Times, brings to mind Dave Sanchez, a retired teacher and administrator I have written about in the past in my Albuquerque Journal column.

Jacoby and Sanchez agree that on many occasions the single biggest obstacle to success in the classroom is the local school board. (Let us now pause a moment to reflect on the Texas Board of Education, who just a few days ago eliminated Thomas Jefferson because of those awful things he wrote about the separation of church and state.)

Jacoby writes: “Our lack of a national curriculum, national teacher training standards and federal financial support to attract smart young people to the teaching profession all contribute mightily to the mediocre-to-poor performance of American students, year in and year out, on international education assessments. So does a financing system that relies heavily on local property taxes and fails to guarantee students in, say, Kansas City the same level of schooling as students in more affluent communities.”

This caused me to dig up an old column I did with Dave Sanchez. He is retired now. He majored in math and philosophy at UNM, got his master’s at Michigan, served in the Marine Corps, returned to Michigan and then on to postdoctoral work and teaching at the University of Chicago, spent a year in England, 11 years at UCLA, then served as vice chancellor and provost at the National Science Foundation and finally returned to teaching at Texas A&M.

Here’s what he had to say about a national curriculum: “I really do believe that a mandated national curriculum is needed. I tutored a boy once who was flunking math terribly and one day I discovered he didn’t know his multiplication tables. You can’t solve problems until you have the tools. We’re still fighting those battles.”

I have long maintained that the last publicly acceptable form of bigotry is gay bashing. It is often quite ugly. But it takes a Marine Corps general to make it flat out weird.

A retired Marine general, living somewhere in an alternate universe, testifies before Congress. He tells senators that the Dutch Army failed to protect the city of Srebrenica during the Bosnian war partly because of the presence of gay soldiers in its armed forces.

No, I’m not making it up. If only I were.

Here’s the Dutch defense ministry, operating in the real world, not the general’s alternative universe:

“It is astonishing that a man of his stature can utter such complete nonsense,” said Roger van de Wetering, the Dutch defense ministry spokesman. “I have never heard of a single statement by a Dutch political or military leader that drew a link between the fall of the enclave and the fact that there were Dutch homosexual soldiers.”

Tom Cole lights a fire under a politician’s toes in today’s Journal ($sub. req.).

Bernalillo County Commissioner Michael Wiener e-mailed a joke to friends.

Here’s the joke: “In a recent survey requested by President Obama, African-Americans have proved to be the most likely to have sex in the shower!
“In the survey, carried out for him by a leading toiletries firm, a huge majority, 86 percent, of African-Americans said that they have enjoyed sex in the shower.
“The other 14 percent said they hadn’t been to prison yet.”

Then comes Wiener, plodding along the same predictable path we see over and over and over when these kinds of things go public.

“If someone is offended, then I am very apologetic,” he says.


Why do they always say that?


Everyone knows the answer, right. Everyone knows it’s … except maybe it’s not.

In today’s New York Times sports section, there appears a story that proves (again) that if you really want to you can buck any number of odds. The story concerns one Sister Rose Ann Fleming, the academic adviser for Xavier University.

The Xavier basketball team enters the NCAA tournament with a 24-8 record. Sister Rose Ann’s record is better. Since taking on the job in 1985, she is a perfect 77-0.

“Since she became the academic adviser for Xavier athletics in 1985, every men’s basketball player who has played as a senior has left with a diploma,” the Times reports.

This year, 19 percent of the teams in the tournament have graduation rates below 40 percent. (In December, the University of New Mexico reported its graduation rate for athletes at 55 percent overall; basketball is 43 percent. The school reports the graduation rate for all students is 43 percent.)

Sister Rose Ann has been known to schedule academic meetings in the middle of practice. She thinks if a kid can focus enough to play basketball well, he can focus enough to study. It’s just another kind of learning.

As I said, if you really want to …

Tinker to Evers to Twain to Crane. I like the sound of it. It’s got a nice rhythm.

Now that spring training is under way and we have left behind that time of year that the Washington Post’s Jonathan Yardley calls the “void,” I am happy to report that if you’re looking for even more reasons to argue that baseball is the best game, today’s New York Times give us two.

It seems that Mark Twain had an eye for the game and Stephen Crane, in the best American tradition, would rather spend his time with baseball instead of doing homework.

Is this a great country or what?