Freedom from Blog

Don't call it a comeback . . . .

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Chambers and Hiss

Maybe the conservative "movement" really is over. This week, the Democrats found their own Whitaker Chambers in Scott McClellan and their own Alger Hiss in Hillary Clinton, offering a convenient bookend to an era that began with the GOP ruthlessly attacking anti-American ideologues and ended with the GOP ruthlessly becoming anti-American ideologues.

I understand the liberal desire to bash "Scottie" for his belated awakening about the Bushatistas after years of (unconvincing) hatchet work. But really, is that any way for a big tent party to behave? How about some hospitality? We want more guys to write books like that after all, and his timing certainly could have been much worse than in the midst of an election. Arianna Huffington may be getting snippy about it, but it wasn't that long ago that she too was wielding the ax on the other side.

And I certainly hope that, with today's decision on MI and FL delegations--and Harold Ickes's last shameful whine--Hillary's demagogic run is now over. Her arguments for taking ALL of Michigan's delegates never made a damn bit of sense, as if she should reap an electoral windfall for her courageous decision to break the pre-existing DNC rules her people helped craft and her own gentleman's agreement to discount that uncontested "contest"--once it became her only hope to stay in a race she had already lost several times over. She's been working for the McCain campaign for quite some time now, trying to poison the well and ensure an Obama defeat by feigning indignation at the "stolen" elections and disenfranchised voters. That's the real backdrop for the popular overreaction to her RFK comments. We've been humoring a lot of repellent behavior from her lately and it just didn't take that much more heat in her kitchen for the pot to bubble over.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Greetings from Gulf Shores!

Wait Wait, I Know This One!

On Hardball tonight, Pitchfork Pat made a claim I've heard him repeat often before, that "no antiwar candidate has ever won a presidential election during wartime." Errmmm. . . Ike? 1952? Now I know it is hard to imagine a day when the GOP could ever have nominated an "antiwar" candidate, and a decorated general certainly makes an unlikely "dirty hippie," but, remember, Bush is Harry S. Frickin' Truman II: Texas Boogalloo, and Johnny McCain has promised to make Iraq into Korea over the next hundred years, so could we please have just a little historical memory of the GOP from our GOP hacks? Please? And how close was that election? Yeah, that's right. Not close.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Scott Free

Am I the only one not surprised that Scott McClellan in his new book savages the Bush administration he served for three years as press secretary? McClellan is one of the few Bushies I could never hate. It always seemed pretty obvious that he was a decent guy doing a dirty job, unlike his predecessor, Ari Fleischer, who was a pathological liar without a soul--and so much more effective for it. McClellan always seemed uncomfortable shilling for the B Team, as if he knew he was being asked to peddle shit sandwiches to that famished horde of shit-aholics we know as the White House press corps. Apparently, his conscience couldn't take it any more.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Your SAT Prep for the Day

1. If Obama 2008: RFK 1968, then Hillary 2008:
a) Humphrey 1968
b) Nixon 1968
c) Agnew 1968
d) Sirhan Sirhan 1968
e) Nader 2000

So which of those possible answers is most flattering to Hill? Hard to say. I'm guessing she'd say (a) but she'd be thinking (b). But she's making a pretty good case right now for the analogically impaired (e).

Having been gone (and beyond news contact) for M-Day, I missed all the weekend feeding frenzy fun. I had heard her remark before going underground (actually, mountaintop) for Appalachian Obama-fest '08, but it didn't really strike me as a big deal. I mean, sure, Hill fantasizes about Obama getting whacked, just like the folks at FOX News do, but this comment was pretty mild stuff, at least for her. You could plausibly read it in another way, although the Freudian view gains plausibility from the fact that the point itself was a non sequitur: who believes that she would need an ongoing and active campaign to secure the nomination in the event a worst case scenario? A suspended campaign would position her just as well--and maybe better, since she would have provoked less resentment along the way. Or maybe she was just saying that the Dems had a prolonged fight in 1968 and still came out on top? OOPS. GOP realignment for a generation! OK, so she was tired, late at night, just like in Snipergate. (Note to Terry McAuliffe: using 1980 and 1984 as positive examples of extended contests does not help your case.)

However, her pseudo-apology, coupled with the response of her campaign to this flap, is mind-boggling. She's trying to blame her gaffe on Obama? When his campaign decently (and prudently) stayed out of the way? Criminey! I guess she checked her dignity at the door a long time ago. And yet, somehow she always manages to outdo herself. Next week: Hill puts on blackface and sings Sir Mixalot.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Take a Flying VP

Matthews tonight had a long and bad discussion on Hardball about who Obama should pick for VP. Although some of the analysis of specific pols was good--Hillary's pluses and minuses, etc.--Tweety royally screwed the pooch on this one. Rather than focusing on the most logical picks, he focused almost exclusively on the most visible Dems (HRC, Edwards) plus a few Beltway boners (Evan Bayh, Ed Rendell, Joe Biden), and, once again, the non-entity that is Sam Nunn (?!). Somebody check to see if he's still even living. The only marginally plausible name mentioned was Kathleen Sebelius, governor of Kansas--but she strikes me as a long-shot given both the irrelevance and the unlikelihood of actually taking Kansas.

As I see it, there are five lead choices for Obama: Senator Jim Webb (VA), Gov. Tim Kaine (VA), Gov. Bill Richardson (NM), Gov. Brian Schweitzer (MT), and Gen. Wesley Clark (AR). They all boost Obama with the crucial demo of white men, either southern or western, and they all bring either executive or military cred he'll need, first against McCain and then after November when managing a withdrawal from Iraq. Personally, I'd lean toward Webb, who speaks with enormous gravitas and reinforces Obama's themes of change and opposition to the war. But there's a serious argument for each of the five. How many did Matthews and crew even mention? Zero.

(Update: How did I forget Gov. Ted Strickland (OH)? He is pretty forgettable. Still, plausible. Did Tweety mention? No.)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Vacation

So on Friday, we're leaving for a week-plus vacation on the Gulf coast. I will try to mix with the working man, when I'm down there, and figure out what's up. I will also try to sea kayak (!), swim, run, and hike, and, if that sounds like a lot of physical activity, at least I won't be doing the bench press.

Btw, I pressed 215 pounds this week. I probably could have pressed 225, but I started low, and my spotter intervened too soon on 225 (I'm OK with it, but he jumped the gun). I swear, I could have pressed it up. Oh, well. Just 31 pounds to go for a lifetime max.

But . . . when I pressed 245, I weighed more than 180. Now I weigh about 155. So, in terms of ratios, I am stronger now than then. But "ratio strength" is not really a category, is it?

And also, btw, 155 is really too much. I need to lose a few pounds. I know.

Selling Florida (and Michigan) Swampland

Whenever Hillary says she's staying in the race to fight for Florida and Michigan, and the press mindlessly repeats that claim, as they've done over and over again tonight, I have to wonder if there isn't a simpler and more elegant solution that goes unmentioned. Hillary should DROP OUT OF THE FRICKIN' RACE.

Can you think of a faster way to get those delegations seated? Obama wouldn't object--hell, he'd bend over backward to seat those states. Why then does no one bother to point out that Madam Swampland is the only real barrier those states face? Simple. Obama's camp won't make the argument because they're trying to de-escalate, so HRC's people have an uncontested field, and the bobbleheads can't come up with anything not fed to them by one camp or the other.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Kentucky Values

No, I'm not going to bash the Bluegrass State, y'all. I mean, coals to Newcastle and all, if you know what I mean.

But I do want to point out that if Obama can't beat Hillary in Kentucky, then he has no chance to win the GOP nomination. That is all.

It's the Pandering, Stupid

So many post-mortems, where to cease to begin? The silliest trope, one delivered by Cokie Roberts, the NYT, Salon's broadsheet, and, of course, the candidate herself, is that she lost thanks to "sexism." Bullshit. Find me one shred of evidence that sexism cost her a single delegate. Meanwhile, there is ample evidence that racism has cost Obama plenty, in PA, WV, and today, KY. Luckily, winners don't need to make excuses, even true ones. If anything, sexism was the only thing that kept Clinton in the race this long, since she was almost DOA in NH when Chris Matthews's shark jumping comments and a few well placed crocodile tears were enough to pull her back from the electoral abyss. But Hill can't help playing the victim card, as if the only thing that can explain her fall from "inevitability" is penile conspiracy.

Smarter commentators, including Publius and M.J. Rosenberg, have pointed out that, much like in classical tragedy where the fateful choice is made before the action really begins, Iraq was her undoing. If not for that vote, there would have been no rationale for a serious primary challenge to her coronation. Hard to disagree. But I'd add a second factor to this equation: pandering. Shameless, transparent, loathsome, relentless, and nauseatingly repetitive pandering. The Iraq vote was really just the first breadcrumb in a long trail. Her campaign kicked off with the cringe-inducing "conversation" video. And then. . . . Saber-rattling on Iran. NAFTA. 3 AM. Bosnian snipers. Bittergate. Guns and whiskey. Gas tax. Sucking up to Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Scaife, et al. What a repellent campaign. Who the hell is this person and why does she want to be the nominee of the Democratic Party?

What the Clintons failed to understand is that the anger in their party is not just with George Bush, the man, it is also with George Bush, the method. You don't cure garlic breath by eating onions. As of tonight, it is all over but the cryin', and this time the cryin' won't save her.

Football!

I haven't seen this anywhere else, but Tom Tomorrow reports that McCain's convention speech is slated for the same night--and, basically, the same time--as the NFL season opener between the New York football Giants and the Washington team. Oops.

Not that anyone watches convention speeches, really.

The real political coup would be if Obama attended the game and they showed him on camera, over and over again, and maybe then he would be interviewed by the sideline reporter (Erin Andrews?).

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bipartisan

This morning's Novakula column bemoans GOP support for the controversial farm bill.

I am a bit at a loss here. I'm not a fan of the bill, but I don't see the partisan or ideological side of this. Agriculture (I refuse to use the term "farmers," as though we were talking about American Gothic or something) is a pretty powerful constellation of interests in this country (as in most countries). Moreover, they are widely distributed, in terms of geography, and as long as we elect representatives on a geographic basis (probably forever), they will be amply represented in the halls of power. Agriculture is especially well represented in "the Heartland," which elects many of those GOP representatives. It's not like agriculture is a "Democratic" constituency. They don't grow many "crops" in San Francisco.

In ideological terms, I guess that hard-core libertarians are opposed to any form of government subsidy, grant, or price support. But almost no one in the U.S. Congress is actually a libertarian in this sense. (Ron Paul!)

The bill may, indeed, be wasteful. But everyone agrees that waste is a bad thing. It's right there in the word, connotation and denotation. The question isn't whether waste is bad, it's whether any particular spending is waste.

This is, of course, related to the battle against "pork"--Novakula uses the term in relation to the Farm Bill. But in reality, earmarks make up a very small part of the federal budget, and eliminating many earmarks wouldn't actually reduce government spending at all (the funds would just be distributed by formula without the earmark). "Pork" in the form of projects or grants aimed at individual districts also make up a tiny portion of the budget.

Again, with very few exceptions, no one in Congress is opposed to government spending in general. Even right wingers support massive outlays for defense, weapons systems, and the war in Iraq. Even in the domestic sphere, most members of the GOP vote for highway spending, water projects, scientific and medical research, space exploration, education spending, Medicare, etc. Sure, GOP and Democratic members of Congress support different spending priorities, but that seems more the result of the different interests that support the parties than a matter of ideology. And where many, many interests, or one very large interest, supports an increase in spending, then we see bipartisanship.

Novak's column appears to posit that conservatives should oppose all government spending increases, at least in the domestic sphere. I know some people who think that way, too. But in operational terms, that is not how politics actually works.

Despite the last 30 years, during which the conservative movement has tried to make ideological purity the basis of politics, politics is ultimately about interests and power. (Yes, I'm an old-fashioned pluralist, so sue me.) I guess it makes for easy op-ed writing to decry the falling away from ideological purity, time and time and time again. But it makes for a very sterile view of the political world.

Novak would have GOP representatives from Kansas, Iowa, Alabama, even the agricutural parts of California (like I said, Agriculture is big) vote against the interests of their constituents. And then what? The constituents, not ideologues themselves, but acutely self-interested, would reward those representatives with . . . de-election. Right.

The ideologues continually bemoan the failure of ideology. But maybe the problem is in the theory, that ideology should drive political action, rather than in the practice of politics.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Historical Record

video

This is a really crappy video, but that's John Edwards coming down the receiving live, shaking hands, in 2004, in Cleveland. It was night, and there were very bright lights. And it was a 2003 camera phone. So the quality is for shit. But it's an experiment.

Almost Four Years Ago


Only one of these men is crazy. Which one, in comments?

I have to add that, as disappointing as 2004 was, in so many ways, being at Case that year and participating in "the Race at Case" was one of the more enjoyable periods in my life. It wasn't just "the Race at Case," but the whole Ohio battleground state phenomenon. From the build-up--the McAulliffe visit (where he thanked me for "inspiring" the students)--to the VP debate--which I watched outdoors, with about 1,000 other Democrats, in the cold Cleveland air, to election day, when I worked Voter Protection in Hough. Great memories. In the end, we lost, of course, and that was bad. Not bad, but hard. When I'm in a real mood to remember, remind me of the Icebox Cave story.

Oh, hell, let me just tell the Icebox Cave story.

The morning after the election . . . I had stayed up late, and, if you remember, things had become clear late. I woke up early and got in the Subaru. I drove around, and ended up pointing the Subaru toward Cuyahoga Valley National Park (still one of my favorite places). There's a nice hike there--actually, there are many nice hikes there--but there's one, in the southern part, that leads to a cave--Icebox Cave, which is called that, I think, because it's always cold. (It's in Summit County, Ohio, so it's cold most of the time, in general.)

So I parked, and started walking. The trails were surprisingly busy for a Wednesday morning. There were a lot of people, many walking dogs. There wasn't much talking, people seemed depressed. As I was depressed, too, I hoped to find a quiet place to think. But, alas, there was no such place. For one thing, the cave was packed with folks.

My memory of the 2004 election, the day after, at least, is Icebox Cave, full of grieving Democrats. "Four more years," how can we stand it? Best to go mourn in a cave.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Edwards

This is huge (this being Edwards's endorsement of BO). There are many Americans, like me, who really like John Edwards. I volunteered for him in 2004, in the Ohio primary. I actually phone-banked for the guy, which I've done a handful of times in my life.

Obama is the nominee. Now if HRC would just get the hell out all would be well.

Morning After Update: Well, maybe not huge. Edwards doesn't deliver you a state, and my guess is that most of his supporters have swung to Obama already (those not in Appalachia). But it's still big.

Though now we have to be subjected to "Edwards as Veep" speculation. Life is full of trade-offs. Edwards would be better than Sam Nunn.

Chickens Coming Home to Roost

That sound you hear is the thunder of chicken wings. (No, not that kind of thunder.) The sound of a million chickens coming home to roost. If the GOP can't hold the first congressional district in Mississippi, then they are in real danger of a historic blowout in the November election. It wasn't for lack of trying. The GOP candidate raised more than a million dollars, national GOP spent $1.3 million dollars, Freedom's Watch spent $400k more, and the state party must have spent something. Hell, they even sent Darth Cheney down to get the Death Star back on schedule. And the Democrat won by eight points.

The problem for the GOP this fall is that the hard-core, pro-Bush rump is going to demand that the party run an aggressive, "librul-librul-librul" campaign, with photos of Nancy Pelosi and talk of "surrender." Both at the presidential level and in the congressional races. Any time McCain tries to put daylight between himself and Bush, there's going to be pushback ("librul!"). McCain is likely going to be forced to run a disastrous campaign by the folks in his own party. Most of whom still support the Bush administration. Fervently.

But Bush is the most unpopular president in living memory, and he's going to swamp his party in the November congressional elections. Sure, McCain might beat Obama. That could happen, although the odds are that it won't. But let me "concern troll" for the GOP for a minute. If the GOP doesn't want to see overwhelming Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate in 2009, then they had better change their tune. Because the lilting notes of "Bush Uber Alles" will only draw more chickens.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bar Nunn

For the first time in a month it was safe to watch the Sunday shows, knowing that, with Obama romping (very predictibly) on Tuesday, we're finally past an especially silly stage in election coverage from the commentariat. So what happens on my teevee? Both FTN and TW offer "expert" analysis suggesting Sam Nunn as Obama's running mate: first from the Politico's Jim VandeHei on FTN, and then George Will on TW. Excuse me? Sam Nunn? You mean a guy with the charisma of a turnip who is as old as John McCain, hasn't run for election since 1990, couldn't possibly bring his home state (Georgia), and has absolutely zero constituency outside the MSM chatterbots? True, nothing says "change" like trying to replace Dick Cheney with his closest avatar in the Democratic Party, but how desperate would Obama have to be before he had to go there? It just goes to show how addicted the punditocracy is to its "centrism" Cialis: a Beltway boner lasts much longer than four hours and you must never seek medical attention.

Tossed

So made it to my third game in new Nationals Park last night, accompanied by the missus and mystery guest. It was not much of a game--for the Nats, at least--as they were blown out 11-0 by the surprising Florida Marlins. That was my first loss in the new ballpark, although, not counting the exhibition game, I'm just 1-1.

The thing I wanted to comment on--no, not Uggla's grand slam into the visitors bullpen, although that was cool--was actually Hermida's home run earlier in the game. Hermida (I believe it was he) hit a homer into the left field corner, just inside the pole. The fan who caught the ball waved it at the crowd and then threw it back onto the field. No problem, right?

Wrong. Stadium security briskly escorted the gentleman from the stands, to the loud booing of the crowd.

I can understand a rule against throwing objects (e.g., D batteries, snow and/or ice balls, beer bottles, promotional giveaways) onto the field, even a zero tolerance policy. But no exception for throwing back home run balls hit by the visiting squad?

The worst part was that the Nats made sure that the ball made it into the visitors' dugout, so Hermida could have the ball. Does that mean, for example, that if I'm at the game where a player hts his first career home run, and I'm lucky enough to catch it, that I would be penalized for throwing it back so the player could have it?

Uneffingbelievable.

Any throwing-things-on-the-field story, of course, should end with Sam Wyche [edited]: "You don't live in Cleveland!" Link

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Fish in a Barrel

This has it about right, for the stoopid sports analogies.

And this one is also kind of funny. SCOREBOARD, BEEYATCH!

Not sports, but apocalypse now? Check out Wilson's end-of-the-earth trax.

And, yeah. To the "draft analysts" over at Cruel Blog-Filled World: Mocking the Pat Burrell pick now? Yeah, I saw that. Step off.

Movin' on Up

Barring unfortunate events, the housing search is over. Looks like we'll be moving to Capitol Hill, into a very nice Wardman-style house on 9th St NE. That's about a seven-block walk to my work, which means I will have a "commute" of less than fifteen minutes.

I'm going to miss open houses. Almost.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Do Not Listen

I am warning you. DO NOT CLICK THE LINK. This is safe for work, but it will drive you INSANE.

You have been warned!

Btw, this is the worst baseball theme song ever. "Nuts About the Nats." Indeed.

How to Beat the High Price of Driving

Well, you could do what I do--walk and/or take the Metro. (I drive on Saturdays or Sundays, but almost never on a weekday.) But I realize that's not an option for most folks.

What I am curious about . . . does it strikes anyone else as strange just how much coverage gas prices are getting? I know that the price of gasoline is really high, but is that really the leading story in the news, day after day? My curiosity is driven by this observation: High gas prices aren't news. They aren't new. Gas prices have been high for awhile.

Maybe for folks who drive all the time, this story is soooo important that it can be repeated time after time?

Maybe one function of the news is a kind of collective complaining?

Happy Daddy's Done Wit' Gradin' Day!

Another holiday season come and gone. I know some people prefer Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or Halloween, or July 4. July 4? Yawn. I know we Christians are supposed to like Easter best. But let's face it: worst. holiday. superhero. mascot. ever. A bunny that craps chocolate? Jesus would have died, and stayed dead, saw he dat. So for me, the best annual holiday is the one just gone. No More Gradin' Day. Yee-ha. I hear tell down in Mexico they call this day something else. Either way, if it involves alcohol and spent firearms it must be a party. Still, I'm plum wore out. Next year, I'll have to remember to submit my gifts early.

Monday, May 05, 2008

"Friend of the Little Man"

No, this isn't going to be a politics post. I have strenuously avoided campaign coverage for a couple of weeks now and have only a passing familiarity with the present state of the campaign memes. (This may be the first time I've skipped the Sunday shows two weeks in a row in years.) I do know that HRC has disparaged economists as elitists, which closes the circle. Harry Truman only wanted "one-armed economists." HRC only wants the severed hands.

What's been up here, during the blog silence?

House hunting continues, and we are close to making an offer on a place. So we may be moving this summer (to Capitol Hill). Preparations for other major events of the summer also continue, although I am far behind any reasonable schedule. The semester ended (hurray!), though, so I have more time going forward to prepare. All signs point to one hectic, event-filled July.

What else? Work has been busy, busy, busy.

Been loving the new episodes of BSG. Who is the twelfth Cylon? Any guesses?

Running has been pretty good. I've been getting close to 30 miles/week. The weights are progressing. I've lifted more than 200 pounds (bench press) on a few occasions, but I'm at a plateau on the pull-ups--nine pull-ups, OK, but ten? Can't do one more. I'll try again today.

I have not been finding time for the extracurricular reading lately and have fallen well behind the book-a-week pace I would like to maintain. I am reading a Dennis Lehane novel, Prayers for Rain, which is pretty good but too psychological . . . have I ever discussed this here before? I much prefer mysteries with money at the core of the story than those involving murders based on psychological motives. I just don't find psycho killer stories very interesting. But bank heists, drug deals gone wrong (a Pelecanos specialty), complex schemes to defraud (i.e., scams), now that's my speed.

But in a few weeks, we're going to the beach (Gulf Shores, AL) for a whole week, so I should get some quality reading time in then. Also, I hope, some quality kayaking (it's been awhile, although I did kayak once or twice last summer and I also went canoeing at least once, all on the Potomac), both on the Gulf and Mobile Bay.

Fantasy baseball . . . er, deserves a longer post. Let me just say that if you drafted a bunch of Tigers, you would have gotten off to a slow start. Like me. And if Ryan Howard was your first pick, egad, man! Howard is batting .167, with an OPS of .645. That's not a typo--.645. Jeff Keppinger, the shortstop of the lowly Cincinnati Reds, has an OPS of .746.

Friday, May 02, 2008

This Sounds Fishy

DC Madam commits suicide? Sure. I've seen this movie a number of times. And there were "approximately two" suicide notes?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

"I need two Hebrews!"

The concession stands at new Nationals Park serve Hebrew National all-beef franks. And when you order one, the counter person will shout out, to the person attending the weiners: "I need a Hebrew!" Or, if you order two . . . er, you get the point.

I've heard this a few times now, and it never fails to strike me as hilarious. But you know I'm like that.

Btw, attended the "day game" at Nats Park yesterday--a 4:35 start that went 12 innings and finished in the gloaming. In past years, the Nats always played "businessman specials" at RFK--day games on weekdays. But for some reason, this year, no 1:30 starts on the schedule this year in the new park, and yesterday was the one 4:35 game on a weekday. IOW, no further opportunities to ditch work for a ballgame. I'm sure that the accountants are to blame.

The folks from work I go to the day games with like to play "home run lottery," where everyone puts in a dollar and the money passes from player to player until a HR is hit, at which point the player holding the cash keeps the money and everyone re-antes. Well, a game between the Braves and Nats, at Nats Park with the wind blowing in, more or less, two strong starting pitchers, and a temperature at first pitch in the lower 60's--no one hit one out. So then, whoever is holding the money at the end of the game (last out, or on the game-winning run) keeps the money. And the game went into extra frames, with the Nats winning in the bottom of 12. Let's just say that that was the most exciting "home run lottery" game ever!

Btw, the guys sitting behind us in the stands saw the cash changing hands and were like, "Hey, you guys are gambling!" They wanted to get in on the action, but they had to wait for the "next hand." No dice, suckas. (I'm not sure it's gambling when the pot is seven bucks.)

This was my second trip to Nats Park, and again, very favorably impressed. They also seem to have worked out some of the Metro issues. The escalators were even working.