Thursday, March 30, 2006

Word to public officials: Don't lie. Some blogger somewhere will call you on it.

Congressional Candidate Slams Press Coverage of Iraq - With Bogus Photo
Editor and Publisher

Wednesday 29 March 2006

New York - How far will critics of media coverage of the Iraq war go to prove reporters are wrongly focusing on the negative?

One answer came this week, in a shocking if amusing episode featuring one Howard Kaloogian, a leading Republican running for the seat in Congress recently vacated by indicted Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

He posted on the official Web site for his campaign a picture taken in "downtown Baghdad," he said, during his visit to the city, which supposedly indicated that the media was wrong about the level of violence in the city. "We took this photo of downtown Baghdad while we were in Iraq," he wrote. "Iraq (including Baghdad) is much more calm and stable than what many people believe it to be. But, each day the news media finds any violence occurring in the country and screams and shouts about it - in part because many journalists are opposed to the US effort to fight terrorism."

But the blogosphere quickly smelled a rat. The photo featured people who didn't seem dressed quite right for Iraq, and signs and billboards that looked off, too. In the now-familiar pattern, the ace detective work leaped from obscure blogs to the well-known (Talking Points Memo, Eschaton, Attytood, more), and back again, as eagle-eyed experts proposed alternative locales, with Turkey a likely suspect.

In less than a day, it was over. "Jem6X" at the popular DailyKos blog confirmed the street scene was in Istanbul, not Baghdad.

Tipped off by someone who recognized the actual intersection in Istanbul, Jem went through online photo galleries and in a matter of minutes today found a snap taken by a "Faruk" that lined up with the "Baghdad" photo in numerous conclusive ways. Game, set, and match to the blogosphere.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A bit of baseball history

Found this and thought I'd pass it along:
The start of another baseball season is only weeks away...and amidst all the talk of salaries and steroids, there remains the annual ritual of making predictions. Who’ll finish in first place? Who’ll win the batting title? Stuff like that. Here’s a prediction I can practically guarantee: Most fans, sportswriters, and players will remain unaware of the legacy of Curt Flood.

By 1969, Curt Flood had compiled some rather impressive career stats as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals: a three-time All-Star center fielder with seven Gold Gloves, he batted more than .300 six times. But when the 31-year-old Flood was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies before the 1970 season, he did something that left an indelible mark on the sports landscape: he challenged baseball’s “reserve clause.” This was the standard contract clause that essentially bound baseball players to one team forever—one year at a time.

Why would Flood risk his $100,000 salary in such a challenge? One reason would have been his opinion of Philadelphia as a racist town. Flood called it “the nation’s northernmost southern city.” More important to the open-minded athlete, however, was the way in which the reserve clause made him feel like a piece of property.

“I'm a child of the sixties, I’m a man of the sixties,” Flood explained. “During that period of time this country was coming apart at the seams. We were in Southeast Asia. Good men were dying for America and for the Constitution. In the southern part of the United States we were marching for civil rights and Dr. King had been assassinated, and we lost the Kennedys. And to think that merely because I was a professional baseball player, I could ignore what was going on outside the walls of Busch Stadium was truly hypocrisy and now I found that all of those rights that these great Americans were dying for, I didn’t have in my own profession.”

For 18 months, Curt Flood put his career on hold and pursued the case all the way up to the Supreme Court, which upheld baseball’s exemption from antitrust statutes. Although Flood’s legal efforts effectively ended his major league career, they were not in vain. Within three years, the reserve clause was struck down and the era of free agency was ushered in.


“There is no Hall of Fame for people like Curt,” said Marvin Miller, former executive director of the Major League Players Association. “At the time Curt Flood decided to challenge baseball’s reserve clause, he was perhaps the sport’s premier center fielder,” Miller declared. “And yet he chose to fight an injustice, knowing that even if by some miracle he won, his career as a professional player would be over. At no time did he waver in his commitment and determination. He had experienced something that was inherently unfair and was determined to right the wrong, not so much for himself, but for those who would come after him. Few praised him for this, then or now.”

Curt Flood was a bit before my time. By the time I was old enough to dig the sport, the effects of Flood's efforts were just being felt - and although I'm not especially thrilled by the fact that today's major league players tend to draw multi-million dollar salaries while many other hard-working folks in various professions and vocations struggle to get by, I do appreciate the stand Flood was willing to take.

His career statistics can be found here.