Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fourth Inning Pet Peeve

In Baltimore, during the 2007 baseball season, my daughter and I saw a Red Sox/Orioles game. In the Fourth Inning, I took my 7 year old to a food stand and waited to get her nachos and "cheese." We stood in line for about 10 minutes, and when we got to the front of the line ordered the nachos. We were then informed that they were out of cheese. I was amazed (and said so) that in the Fourth Inning of a baseball game, they would run out of nacho cheese. I also complained that we had been waiting in line for 10 minutes, missing the game, and there was no sign that they were out of the "cheese." Luckily for us, a different stand (half way around the stadium) had the cheese I had promised my daughter. And so was born the "Fourth Inning Incident."

"Fourth Inning Incidents" happen quite often. It occurs when you wait in line for an extended period of time to order something on a menu, only to be told that they are out or you have to wait another extended period of time. I always ask why there is no sign up informing patrons of the delay or the absence. The answer is always a small embarrassed grin and an apology with a shrug of the shoulders. People, I ask you, how hard is it to put a sign up saying "Out of Bratwurst - Sorry;" or putting a piece of masking tape over the "soup" on the menu? Either which would have avoided "Fourth Inning Incidents" I have expereinced in the last year.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Soon To Be Fox News Host Needs History Lesson

Glenn Beck, a Right Wing loon who will soon have a Fox News show, has asked, on his radio show, "do states have the right to secede anymore?" I think that question was answered in a little thing we call the Civil War. In fact, even before the Civil War, during the Andrew Jackson administration, South Carolina attempted to "nullify" a Federal tariff. When the Federal government held that nullification was unconstitutional, South Carolina came very close to attempting secession, and Jackson (hardly a Big Government kind of guy - he did not believe the Federal Government had the right to establish a National Bank or spend any money on state or local infrastructure) threatened force to keep SC in the Union. So, the answer to Mr. Beck's question is "States never had the right to secede. But idiotic, self-important blowhards are free to go."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Everyone, Take a Qualude

I don't really understand the concerns that so many Democrats have about Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. It is not in her interest as SoS to sabotage Obama's foreign policy. If she does, two things happen. First, a divided adminstration is likely to have a failed foreign policy, and her future (i.e. 2016) is tied to the success of the Obama administration. Second, if she sabotages the adminstration to the denigration of the Democratic brand, the Democratic powers-that-be will abandon her.

Next, there are a number of Obama supporters who are concerned that Cabinet picks such as Eric Holder as Attorney General, and (perhaps) John Brennan (George Tenent's chief of staff) as head of the CIA, demonstrate that Obama is not as tied to changing torture policy, drug policy, and other policies as they would like. May I remind these worry-warts that Barack Obama was elected President. Not Brennan. Not Holder. Not Clinton. The buck stops with Obama. And if you think he is so weak that he can't stand up to his appointees, then you probably should have founf a different candidate. Personally, I get the sense he is tough enough. And I'm willing to give hime the benefit of the doubt for now.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

David Brooks' False Choice

David Brooks, in his latest column, approvingly cited by Andrew Sullivan, offers this choice:

Is this country going to slide into progressive corporatism, a merger of corporate and federal power that will inevitably stifle competition, empower corporate and federal bureaucrats and protect entrenched interests? Or is the U.S. going to stick with its historic model: Helping workers weather the storms of a dynamic economy, but preserving the dynamism that is the core of the country’s success.
While I don't disagree that those are two of the choices available, I do disagree that anyone in the current debate is actually suggesting we take the latter of Brooks' options. In fact, the choice currently before us appears to be between Brooks' first option and doing nothing - leaving the workers to fend for themselves in an economy spiraling downward. As I e-mailed Andrew:
What we need is a comprehensive plan that lets the Big Three fail but protects their workers (and the workers from the related industries; and the workers affected by the possible depression) from the economic hurricane.
But it seems to me that what Brooks and Sullivan actually dislike about the bailout is not the "slide into progressive corporatism" but the additional spending. If that's the case, then they should say so, and then add "Let them eat cake."

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Days As A Single Parent . . .

are over!!!!!

For almost three months, my wife has been living in Virginia while my daughter and I live in Illinois. Today, my wife moves permanently to Virginia. Allelujia!

Now a social comment: Anyone who wants to criticize single parents has to go through me first. I have a good, secure, well-paying job, with health-care. My daughter is going to a good school, with very attentive teachers. I don't have to worry about how I'm going to pay my bills. And after three months of single parenting I AM EXHAUSTED!!! The stress of being solely responsibled for a child is immense. I get home at 6, pick up my daughter from After-School Care, walk the dog, make dinner, get my daughter to do her homework, do laundry, wash dishes, feed the dog, eat dinner, get my daughter to bed, and then ... go to bed myself. Then, in the morning I walk the dog, get my daughter ready for school and get to work. I haven't watched a full grown-up tv show in three months. I actually have favorite kids shows (Avatar, ICarly, Phineas and Ferb). Adult conversation? Dream on. It is extremely hard, and I have all the advantages. Single parents are doing something almost impossible. They have my enduring respect and sympathy.

Friday, November 7, 2008

My Message to McCain Supporters

Congratulations to all. Now we have to do something with this opportunity. Let me say something to all those people who are terrified about where our country is heading. First, I encourage you to look at this. It might seem a bit schmaltzy, but, hey, we're liberals, that is how we think. I also want to let you know that I know exactly how you are feeling. We might never agree on the merits of the issues facing this country, but I have felt that same fear you now feel. In 2000 and 2004, I had to wonder whether I knew what my country was, and fear where it was heading. And you know what happened? We survived. What is a rocky road? Sure it was. And I say to you now, my McCain supporting friends, this country is strong. Even if Obama is everything some of you think he is (a white-hating, socialist, closet terrorist) this country will survive. It might be a rocky road, but it will be just fine. I've been where you are. Looking down a dark tunnel wondering if it will end. It will. Either Obama is what you fear he is, and he will be rejected four years hence, or he is not, and your choice will be a little harder in 2012. Either way, we move on.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Think About It

I saw this video on Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog at the Atlantic and got teary-eyed. Not because of the dancing, but becasue I started to think about who those women are. They are apparently African-American women born in the 1940s or thereabouts. They were teenagers before the civil Rights Act of 1964, and before the Voting Rights Act 0f 1965. They were forced to the back of buses because Rosa Parks hadn't demanded the right to sit wherever she damn well pleased. They had never heard of Martin Luther King. I'll bet those teenagers could not even imagine an African-American would even be considered for President. Now they are dancing to support Obama. They are in almost perfect sync. and I think its because the dance is not just a dance. It is more important to them then just a dance. It is their way of celebrating the unthinkably glorious. They have to be perfect, their teenage souls demand it. I, a 40-year old white man, say to those ladies: DANCE AWAY!!!! You have earned it! I have but one request - can I join in the second time around. I haven't earned the right to do it the first time.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

False Equivalency

I recently saw an MSNBC spot on its morning show "Morning Joe" with Joe Scarborough and others. One of the hosts, Willie Geist, went out in the upper west side of Manhattan with a McCain/Palin t-shirt, trying to find McCain/Palin supporters. Here is the video. Most importantly, watch the commentators' discussion at the end. They act as if the reactions were far out of bounds because they don't like what McCain stands for and refused to talk about it while they were living their lives. One host called it "troubling." Mike Barnicle called the people "closed minded" and insinuated it was "loathsome." Joe Scarborough called it "hostile." Later, one called the reaction of the Manhattanites "venom" (although it is not on the video - I saw it live). Geist says at the end that Republicans in Nashville would have disagreed "in a polite way" if he did the same thing there with an Obama/Biden t-shirt. I don't think this video shows much rudeness to be honest. Everyone seemed relatively polite. They just chose not to speak to Geist for very long if at all.

Compare that to videos such as this, this, and this.

Oh, how I long for Republican kindness and politeness. Those Democrats are so rude.

NOTE: I especially love the McCain supporters who yell at the Obama supporters to "Get a Job!" As if people going to a McCain rally have jobs, but those protesting at the same McCain rally must not.

Don't Panic

Democrats and other Obama supporters are a skittish bunch. Every time a tracking poll shows Obama's lead down a point, we are sure it is a trend. If his lead goes up a point, we are sure it is just staistical noise. As a Red Sox fan, I had many years of experience in this area of emotional masochism. The latest point on my graph of pessimism would have to be FoxNews new poll, which showed Obama's lead down to three from his nine point lead only a week before. Panic set in.

But then I, and others, checked the internal numbers, and discovered that the later poll had a much smaller democrat to republican ratio than the earlier poll. Doing some basic math shows that if they had used the ration from the earlier poll, Obama's lead would have been seven points (50-43) instead of three.

Now many of us would like to believe this is another example of Fox bias (as if we needed another one). But as Nate Silver at correctly points out: Fox News has never weighted for party identification, so this is simply the luck of the draw. The fact that Fox hasn't pointed out the difference is, however, the example we are looking for.