Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Buchananazism + Gatlin banned + Baseball Update

The GOP Id on display
I haven't read his new book, State of Emergency (in fact, I haven't read any of his books, or his magazine, nor will I), so I'll take Think Progress's word for it: Pat "Putzi" Buchanan wants a moratorium on all immigration because...he wants to preserve "white dominance." So much of the public rhetoric on immigration hinges on this idea that cannot, must not be expressed, except in code. But then there's always Pat Buchanan to set things off. According to Think Progress, in his newest screed passing as a book, he writes:

America faces an existential crisis. If we do not get control of our borders, by 2050 Americans of European descent will be a minority in the nation their ancestors created and built. No nation has ever undergone so radical a demographic transformation and survived.

Quite a bit is missing from that history, of course. All of America faces an existential crisis, or just white supremacists? "Their ancestors created and built"--hmm, I wonder if he realizes who actually laid all those stone foundations, graded those streets, ploughed those fields from Charleston to Boston, Washington to Saint Louis.... He goes on to quote syndicated racist Sam Thomas, whose corrosive rhetoric in a Washington Times (naturally!) commentary led to his firing in 1984, as well as those other interlocutors of racial and ethnic understanding Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein, John Rocker, Al Campanis, etc. Here's another choice quote:

In 1994, Sam Francis, the syndicated columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Times…volunteered this thought:

“The civilization that we as whites created in Europe and America could not have developed apart from the genetic endowments of the creating people, nor is there any reason to believe that the civilization can be successfully transmitted by a different people.”

Had Francis said this of Chinese civilization and the Chinese people, it would have gone unnoted. But he was suggesting Western civilization was superior and that only Europeans could have created it. If Western peoples perish, as they are doing today, Francis was implying, we must expect our civilization to die with us.

Since I haven't read the book, I don't know if he trots out Thomas Jefferson, Arthur de Gobineau, Adolf Hitler, Josef Mengele, William Shockley, J. Philippe Rushton, Ward Connerly, and Jesse Helms, to name just a few of his other racialist avatars, but then, as I said, I haven't read the book. He's been decrying the "invasion" of the US for several years now, so perhaps he felt it was time to clarify what was most at stake for his ilk.

Interestingly enough, Digby pointed out a few days ago that the GOP, lacking credibility and facing increasing voter wrath, has been turning to one of its favorite and toxic, and I should add, often effective, political tools. Just consider the steady stream of harsh rhetoric about immigrants, such as comparing them to cattle, to George Allen's infamous recent "Macaca" episode, to Conrad Burns's hypocritical freestylings to the renewed conservative call for racial and ethnic profiling on airplanes. And then leave it to Buchanan, a longtime hate peddler, Nixon speechwriter and former Republican presidential candidate to pull off his hood and expose the party's true....

Justin Gatlin admits to positive test
I heard this evening that US sprinter and Olympic 100 meter champion Justin Gatlin (at left, USOC) who'd tested positive for testosterone during the April 22 Kansas Relays, has agreed to an 8-year ban on participating in professional track and field competition in exchange for providing information helpful to the US Anti-Doping Agency. As a result he also forfeits his 9.77 world record time, which he shared with Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell, and any other results since the positive test. For some reason, I'd thought that Gatlin might actually be innocent and would fight this accusation more vigorously, especially since he'd been a vocal opponent of steroid and substance use in track and field, but the article says that he concurred that the positive A and B test results constituted a doping violation, even though he also claims he doesn't know how the synthetic testosterone got into his system. The article says that he can file an appeal in six months to have his sentence reduced, but the damage to his career, and to his sport, is already done. One question I do have is what will he tell about his coach, Sprint Capitol USA track club founder Trevor Graham, who initiated the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) investigation when he anonymously mailed in a designer steroid sample to doping investigators, and who claims that a trainer sabotaged Gatlin. (Olympic champion Michael Johnson called the allegation ridiculous and denounced Graham.) A number of athletes that Graham has coached, however, including Jerome Young, Dennis Mitchell, Michelle Collins, Tim Montgomery, C. J. Hunter, and most notably Marion Jones, have tested positive for proscribed substances. Several years ago shotputter Hunter testified that Graham had provided his ex-wife Jones with the steroids and told her where to inject them before her spectacular performance at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Jones tested positive for the blood boster EPO at this summer's US track championships in June, but is again denying that she ever used banned substance. Meanwhile, Graham was banned by the United States Olympic Committee.

I should add that I saw the other day that British sprinter Darren Campbell, on the verge of retiring, refused to participate in the British relay team's 4x100 victory lap at the European Track and Field Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden last week, because he wanted teammate Dwain Chambers (at right) who'd served a two-year ban after testing positive for the BALCO designer steroid THG, leading to Britain's being stripped of two medals in Munich, to out others involved. Though Chambers, like banned runner Kelli White, was linked to BALCO founder Victor Conte's ZMA racing team at one point, he responded that he acted alone and pleaded for "patience" as the sport sorted itself out. Ironically enough, Campbell's former coach, former Olympic champion Linford Christie, also faced a ban after testing positive for anabolic steroids in 1999.

Bernie addressed this issue not too long ago. I think too much money and celebrity is at stake, especially in the Anglo-American media spheres, and until this aspect of the equation is addressed, the focus on testing and penalization isn't going to eradicate the problem.

MLB Thoughts
The Major League Baseball season is almost over, with a little more than a month to go, and it's clear that the American League has the upper hand this season. Its teams are playing the best baseball right now. The Detroit Tigers have the best record in either league, but the Yankees and Oakland As also lead their divisions, and the Boston Red Sox, the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins are battling for the Wild Card). Having dominated interleague play, any of these teams are favorites to win the World Series over the National League's teams, which have mostly been mired in the parity of mediocrity, the chief exception being the no longer-sad sack New York Mets, who not only have the best overall record at 75-48, but also have the best home and road records in the league and have dominated their division. The next best team in the Mets' division, the Philadelphia Phillies, are only at 62-62, while my favorite team, the St. Louis Cardinals, cling to their division lead at 66-57, just two games above the second-place Cincinnati Reds, who worry no one--save the Cardinals' players and management. The NL's West Division is once again coasting along haphazardly, and the last team standing will probably win the division. As far as the Wild Card goes, whoever sidles up in second place in the Central or West divisions could advance, meaning that for the first time since 1995, the Atlanta Braves won't be in the post-season.

The Cardinals have maintained their standing atop their division despite two eight-game losing streaks and terrible starting and closing pitching. After fielding one of the best starting pitching lineups last season, the Cardinals shed Matt Morris and picked up Sidney Ponson, who proceeded to pitch as if he were in a T-ball game. He is now, ominously, with the Yankees (and little better). Four of the other starters, Jason Marquis, Jeff Suppan, rookie Anthony Reyes, and the sometimes injured Mark Mulder, have staggered from start to start, sometimes pitching decently and other times simply devolving on the mound. Only 2005 Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter has been consistent and effective, but Carpenter alone can't stave off Cincinnati, just as he couldn't stop Houston last year, nor carry the team all the way to the Series. They have got to get more consistency out of their second through fourth starters. They did hire Jeff Weaver from the Los Angeles Dodgers, though he was having one of his worst seasons ever, and he proceeded to pitch about as badly as was possible, posting a 19.80 ERA at one stretch, before settling down in his last few games. Their relief pitchers, like Braden Looper and Randy Flores, have also been ineffective; purported closer Jason Isringhausen does have 30 saves in 52 games, but he has fallen apart at times, has surrendered 9 homeruns and his ERA is above 3.00. The Cardinals' bats have been good enough to keep them in first place, but barely just. Albert Pujols is having another excellent season, but after being injured for about 20 games, he's cooled off a little, in part because opposing pitchers have been able to pitch around him. 3rd baseman Scott Rolen is back after an injury-plagued 2005 season, and is playing well, as are David Eckstein, rookie Chris Duncan, and, after a slow start, Juan Encarnación. The Cardinals still have a lot of holes, however, as outfielder Jim Edmonds has begun to fade and is now out with a concussion, while the replacement for Hector Luna, Ronny Belliard of the Cleveland Indians, has not been much of an improvement, with less range and less bat speed and power. The Cardinals have added outfielder Preston Wilson as a fill-in, but they still are on shaky ground. Last year they won 100 games, best in the NL, but after romping past the San Diego Padres, they fell to Houston 4-2, batted an anemic .209, and could only boast of wins in games Carpenter started. With worse pitching and a weaker battery this year, they're going to need a miracle to get as far this year, though the Mets' Tom Glavine (blood clot) and Pedro Martínez (pulled calf muscle) aces are out, for who knows how long, the other division teams aren't consistent at all, and there's always the abysmal West division competition to advance past.

Cardinal Albert Pujols hitting another home run (Gannam/AP)

Former Cleveland infielder Ronnie Belliard, who's struggled somewhat (Green/AP)

New acquisition Preston Wilson (Zalubov/AP)

Cub rookie Juan Mateo, after getting battered by the Cardinals last week (Oliver/AP)

The Yankees, the other team I root for, are again dominating, having walloped their rivals, the Red Sox, in Boston, in five consecutive games. The Yankees' main problem early in the season was a lack of quality starting pitching. While Mike Mussina sparkled early on (he's stalled a bit since midseason), the Yankees' other potential Hall of Fame starter, Randy Johnson, seesawed between bad and terrible, though being the pro he is and possessing the talent he does, even at 42, he's now 14-9. Chien-Ming Wang has been the third leader on the staff, going 14-5 and throwing the teams lone shutout, but after Wang, there's been a sharp dropoff. The relief pitchers, however, have made up some of the slack, especially Ron Villone, Kyle Farnsworth, Mike Myers, and the perennially superb Mariano Rivera. The Yankees, however, have been much better at the plate, especially when they've needed to be. Despite the loss of stars Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui to injuries, All Star Derek Jeter is having an MVP year, new addition Johnny Damon has played with aplomb in center field, and Jason Giambi has hit 36 homeruns and driven in 101 runs. The major disappointment this year has been third baseman Álex Rodríguez; after his MVP year in 2005, in which he beat out Big Papi David Ortíz, he's only hit 25 home runs so far and has committed 22 errors so far, 10 more than he committed in all of last season, and the most since his rookie season at shortstop for the Texas Rangers.

Veteran Bernie Williams fielding (Rinaldi/Reuters)

Jason Giambi and Derek Jeter at home plate (Krupa/AP)

A Rod in sync (Rinaldi/Reuters)

Red Sox Wily Mo Peña cheering one of the few good moments during the recent Yankees-Red Sox series (McIsaac/Getty)

Right now, it's looking like the Yankees, Detroit, Oakland, and either the Red Sox or the White Sox, will go to the AL playoffs. Although a very young team with little playoff experience, Detroit has has oodles of talent and several of the best starting pitchers, but the Yankees or either Sox team could more than make up for their deficiencies. In the NL, the Mets and the Cardinals, who're playing tonight, seem likely to make the postseason; out of the rest of the murk that's the NL Central and West two other teams will emerge. The West team seems poised to exit swiftly, but who knows? It ought to be interesting.


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