NRO: Join the NRPlus Community (my ad for NRO’s subscription service)
NRO: Save the Crusader
My half-doomed effort to save the Holy Cross College mascot.
I’m not great at goodbyes, having little experience with them, but the time has come for one, and I have a major announcement to make: I am leaving RedState after 13 years here (12 of them as a front-page Contributor) and moving my online writing to National Review.
I will miss this place, its writers and its readers. I started here as a diarist in the summer of 2004, in the fifth year of my blogging career and the first of the site’s existence, after The Command Post (a war-oriented site) shuttered its doors as we transitioned, maybe inevitably, from a nation united against its enemies back to a nation of political tribes united against each other. In the fall of 2005, at the insistence of Leon Wolf, I was promoted to a front-page Contributor on the strength of my writings questioning Harriet Miers – a preview, though I did not expect it at the time, of where this site’s posture towards blind party loyalty stands today.
- Erick Erickson, of course, joined the site near its inception and went on to become its public face and voice before moving on last year to his own site, The Resurgent, having outgrown the job of running this place. Along the way, Erick became one of the nation’s top metro-area talk radio hosts at Atlanta’s WSB, a major power broker in GOP circles, a TV commentator on CNN and Fox and sometime guest host for Rush Limbaugh, and an elected member of the Macon City Council.
- Ben Domenech, one of our site’s founders, now publishes The Federalist and the popular Transom newsletter, and is a fixture as a pundit on national cable TV.
- Hunter Baker, maybe the most decent and even-tempered of all our many Contributors over the years, has carved out a distinguished career as a professor, university administrator, writer on religious liberty, and now a candidate for Congress in Tennessee’s 8th District.
- Victoria Coates left us to assist Don Rumsfeld in assembling the massive historical archive supporting his memoirs, and has gone on to be a foreign policy adviser to Rick Perry’s presidential campaign and the chief foreign policy adviser to Ted Cruz in the Senate and his presidential campaign, as well as authoring a recent book in her chosen field (as an academic art historian) on democratic themes in the history of art.
- Amanda Carpenter, who started as a joint contributor at Human Events and RedState, went on to be Cruz’s Senate communications director and now a successful pundit on CNN and one of the RS alumni writing now at The Conservative Review.
- A few of our alumni have become judges and prosecutors, including Chad Dotson, now an appeals judge in Virginia and still baseball blogging his beloved Reds at Redleg Nation, as well as at The Hardball Times and ESPN. I’ve also had two RS writers join me as colleagues at my law firm.
- A number – including some who only wrote here pseudonymously and others who have since departed social media – have done great labors in the public and private vineyards of the conservative movement.
As a reminder, you can follow me on Twitter @baseballcrank or bookmark these links to catch up on my latest work:
at The Federalist
and now at National Review
Latest since my last post here:
RS: Eight Takeaways From Iowa As New Hampshire Looms
NRO: The Iowa Caucus Expectations Game: What Do the Republican Candidates Need?
RS: BREAKING: Projected Winners: Cruz & Hillary
RS: Tim Scott to Endorse Marco Rubio
RS: Media: On Today’s Glenn Beck Program
RS: Iowa Establishment Quislings Backing Trump For 30 Pieces of Ethanol?
RS: Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse Responded To Donald Trump and It Was PERFECT
RS: Michael Reagan to Donald Trump: You’re No Ronald Reagan
NRO: Last Night’s Debate Underlines Why Congress Is a Problem for the ‘Establishment’ Republicans
RS: Are “Electable” Candidates Actually Electable? Part I: Presidential Primaries 1948-2012
RS: Where Will The “Republican Regular” Voters Go?
RS: The Case For Marco Rubio Part II: The Salesman
RS: New Hampshire Poll: Hillary Up 17 With Women, Bernie Up 42 With Men
RS: GOP Big Money Goes After Marco Rubio
RS: ARG Polls Love John Kasich When Nobody Else Does
RS: Dear Ted Cruz, Donald Trump & Jeb Bush: Stop Trying To Extort GOP Voters Instead of Persuading Them
The Obama Administration Goes Big On Extraordinary Rendition
Bobby Jindal’s Ambitious Tax Plan
Should House Republicans Draft Paul Ryan To Be Speaker?
Paul Ryan Uses His Leverage To Drive A Hard Bargain
Donald Trump Tries To Backtrack After Insulting Iowa Voters As Brain-Damaged Corn-Huffers
How and Why Ronald Reagan Won
Previewing The GOP Presidential Primary Calendar
Hillary Clinton Embraces Obama’s Immigration Policy and Contempt for Congress
Seven Questions About Matt Bevin’s Win In Kentucky
I’ve been neglecting this blog rather badly for altogether too long – the archives say I haven’t posted here since September 21, 2014. I’ve been busy in the interim on Twitter, of course, and publishing elsewhere. I probably need to post archived versions of some of those posts here. For now: links.
I will start with The Weekly Standard, where I have this issue’s cover story, just posted today: Giving Thomas His Due, on Justice Thomas’ opinions over the past year and what they tell us about his philosophy. [ETA: Link to the archived original now available here, the print version here, and the live version at the Washington Examiner here]
Then there’s The Federalist, where I tend to post my longer essays these days. I ran a lengthy 5-part essay prior to the Obergefell decision, “Can Gays And Christians Coexist In America?”. Part I looked at the Biblical reasons why Christians believe in one-man-one-woman-for-life marriage. Part II looked at the history of Catholicism and other Biblical Christianity in the battles over slavery and Jim Crow. Part III looked at the Christian concept of scandal and the battle between liberty-based and equality-based views of “LGBT rights.” Part IV looked at the legal arguments over the rational basis for distinguishing between opposite-sex and same-sex marriage. And Part V traced possible ways forward for coexistence post-Obergefell, which admittedly are not looking especially promising at the moment.
The First Principle Of U.S. Foreign Policy looked at various approaches to our foreign policy.
Others from the fall, including some of my poll-analysis posts:
The Ferguson Riots Are Nothing Like The Original Tea Party Protests
Polling Postmortem: The Best And Worst Senate Polls Of 2014 (I keep meaning to run the companion piece on the Governors races before 2016 polling heats up).
Do Democrats Always Win Close Statewide Elections? (covers the 1998-2013 elections; I should update this with 2014 results).
Listening To President Obama’s Ebola Advice Could Get People Killed
And of course, if you missed it last time, my essay on how History Is Not On The Democrats’ Side In 2016 is still an important read on the coming election, undoubtedly the most significant piece I will write on the 2016 election.
The Rise & Fall of the Confederate Flag in South Carolina – I wrote this a few weeks back, but it’s very relevant to today’s news.
Reading Tea Leaves on the 2015 Supreme Court Term – Basically just some educated speculation on who would write what and when, which ended up having mixed results.
Democratic Party Now Literally Selling Hate – a Father’s Day gift post!
Bernie Sanders, Deodorant and Diversity – a meditation on central planning and markets.
Marco Rubio Recounts The History of Obama’s Treatment of Israel – quick hit on a great Rubio floor speech. Rubio isn’t my first choice in 2016, but he’s done nothing but impress this year.
From the fall:
2014 and Republican Morale – a GOP victory lap and a reflection on what it meant.
The Breakers Broke: A Look Back At The Fall 2014 Polls – A personal victory lap on my 2014 poll analysis and how it relates to the polling controversies of 2012.
The 2014 Polls And The 2012 Exit Polls – An earlier look at the same topic and at some specific issues with exit polling and poll methodology.
Nobody at Vox.com Has Read The Fourteenth Amendment
BREAKING: Supreme Court Takes Obamacare Subsidies Case (on King v Burwell).
First Cut: 7 Polling and Elections Lessons From 2014 (Immediate 2014 election aftermath)
Why I Voted Yes On Question 1 (NY) (Election Day post on a NY ballot initiative)
Final Senate Breakers & Governors Breakers Report November 3, 2014
Senate Breakers Report October 30, 2014
Governors Breakers Report October 30, 2014
A Sad and Desperate Attack on Chris Christie – Actually a fairly deep dive on voter fraud controversies.
Governors Breakers Report October 22, 2014
Senate Breakers Report October 21, 2014
Senate and Governors Breakers Report October 10, 2014
Senate Breakers Report and Governors Breakers Report: Oct 1
Introducing The Senate Breakers Report – September 26, 2014, the start of my Fall 2014 stretch drive when I started getting too busy to cross-post here.
I owe longtime readers here some explanation and apology – my work at both RedState and The Federalist is now exclusive, at least when first published, to those sites, and while I post links on Twitter and Facebook, I tend to forget sometimes to post links back here at the old stomping grounds. (I may well close the comments section here too soon, since the lack of activity means a high spam-to-real-comments ratio, and since most regular commenters by now know how to find me elsewhere).
Here’s my most recent posts over the past month, all of them on matters of politics and/or history:
Ferguson, Missouri and the Fog of Partisanship and Ideology
93% of Democratic Senate or Governor Candidates Are White
Where I Was On September 11 (a repost of the annual remembrance)
Is The Democratic Party Proud of its History of Slavery & Segregation?
Mid-September Polls Are Not The Last Word On Senate Races
History Is Not On The Democrats’ Side In 2016
Presidential Battleground States: A History
Now that my posts are single-sourced to RedState and The Federalist (for Google/traffic reasons), I’ve been forgetting to link to them all here. A roundup of my latest:
Halbig’s Critics Hoist By Their Own Petards
Obama Peddles Impeachment Conspiracy Theories To Raise Money
John McCain on the Decline & Fall of the United States Senate
Josh Marshall & TPM Promise a “BOOM,” Deliver A Dud
Obama Administration Lied About Insurance Company Bailouts
At the Federalist, a cross-posted version of the Obamacare bailouts piece.
On Wednesday, I had my debut column at The Federalist, on the “neocon” grand strategy from 2001 to today. The Federalist is an excellent and exciting new web publication featuring some great writers, and I’m thrilled to be doing a semi-regular column there (I’ll be cross-posting content to here periodically, I still have to post this one here). I’m not abandoning this blog or leaving RedState, but it’s another outlet.
So, I’m still trying to get the comments section fixed, it seems of late that real comments are going to the junk folder (just finally got through that and approved a bunch of old ones, sorry about that) while tons of spam is getting through.
I’m also experimenting with some changes to the font and other layout items, but nothing too dramatic, I promise.
PS – what really threw me is not even getting email alerts of the comments that got sent to the junk file after I slightly increased the aggressiveness of the spam filter.
I have come to a decision, absent a really compelling reason to re-think it: after doing them for nine seasons, I’m retiring my annual division-by-division Established Win Shares Levels reports.
EWSL was first introduced in this January 2004 post and is explained in some detail here. I’ve had a lot of fun along the way, but it’s time to hang up those particular spikes, for three reasons.
First, it’s an enormous amount of work. For nine years, I’ve run a 23-man roster for each of MLB’s 30 teams and an EWSL for each of those players: a total of 6,120 computations, each and every one of them done by hand-entering the annual Win Shares data in an Excel spreadsheet and applying an annually re-adjusted age adjustment. I don’t have a database or an assistant; every single number is my own effort.
The EWSL reports are by far the most time-consuming thing I do on the blog all year. Most of my other research projects (in baseball or politics) are smaller in scale, and often – being historical studies – they’re not on the same time pressured frame as rolling out all six divisional previews before the season’s too far underway for them to be meaningful. And they have to be cranked out at the same time every year when I’m engaged in preparing my fantasy baseball drafts and doing my taxes (and in recent years, my dad’s taxes and my brother’s estate’s taxes), plus it’s usually a busy time of the year at work.
Second, they’re behind the times. In 2004, we had fewer ways to use all-encompassing “Great Statistics” to evaluate each team in anything like a comprehensive manner. The first PECOTA projections were only unveiled in 2003. Win Shares were something of a new kid on the block, and even if EWSL was never high science, it was – I thought at the time – a bit innovative to run an established performance level with them to get a rough estimate of the established major league talent each team had on hand. At the time, it seemed like a way to add a new angle to the discussion and move it forward. And I do think that, if nothing else, the age-adjustment data I compiled over the years is something of use.
But the state of the art has advanced a lot since 2004. With a quick click of the mouse, you can gather far more sophisticated projections at Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs, the Hardball Times, and elsewhere than any value that EWSL adds. Many of those projections are developed by teams of people with a lot more mathematical expertise, computing power and free time than I have at my disposal, and at some point it’s time to stop playing John Henry against the machine and know when you can no longer keep up. Most everyone these days prefers the more precise Wins Above Replacement to Win Shares anyway, since Win Shares are really a measure of gross value, rather than marginal value compared to a replacement level player. EWSL just isn’t worth the effort that goes into it, and while I’m grateful for the support of my readers over the years, I’m not sure it will really be missed all that much.
Third, and related to the prior point…I can get more bang for my time by blogging other things. It’s no secret that in the past 4-5 years, while my place in the baseball blogosphere has receded, my profile ability to reach a large audience with my political writing (especially at RedState) has increased a lot. I have no intention of abandoning baseball writing – I’d like to do more pieces for Grantland, for example, and I have some ongoing statistical research projects – but realistically, whether it’s sharpening other baseball pieces or writing about politics, I can put my blogging time to better use than the annual time vortex that is the EWSL reports.
Thanks again to everyone who’s read, commented on or linked to my EWSL posts. But it’s time to move on.
To talk elections or anything else. I had to close most of the recent threads due to a tsunami of spam comments that I was unable to deal with while the power was out (my house was without power, heat or hot water for 6 days from Monday afternoon to last night. Hoping to get internet, cable and phone service back some time today).
I should do roundups like this more often of the stuff I do on Twitter.
–Jose Reyes’ hair sells for $10,200 in charity auction. The hair will play SS for the Mets.
-I largely agree with Victoria and with John McCain about Syria; the US has much stronger case for taking sides in Syria than it did in Libya.
–Looking back at the sad death of Ron Luciano.
-The one thing that’s really booming in this economy – despite the best efforts of liberal activists and the Obama Administration to the contrary – is domestic oil and gas production. Frack, baby, frack!
-Science fail: an Oklahoma state Senator is apparently unaware that baby-making requires both a sperm & an egg.
–Yeah, sure, and being against Nazis is just what Elie Wiesel does to feel young & virile again. It is true that older people overestimate recurrence of the troubles of their youth. Ascribing this to “testosterone” is juvenile.
-Yet another “better Romney argument than Romney is making” column, this one with good ideas from Jim Pethokoukis. Call it a Prospectus for America.
–Dan Abrams debunks some of the myths around Citizens United.
–Then: “core symbol of right-wing radicalism” Now: Democratic mainstream. We always knew a lot of the anti-war stuff was just partisanship. Of course, unlike Greenwald, I regard this as a good thing for the country.
–Elvis Andrus focused on getting better. This seems like a unique goal to have.
–It’s not even remotely inconsistent for Mitt Romney to profit from something while saying it should not be compulsory.
–John Edwards’ 2008 presidential campaign is still spending money, even though it’s in debt to taxpayers.
–The media’s blind spot on religious liberty.
–Vin Scully on not retiring.
-I’d forgotten that, for idiosyncratic reasons, Reagan actually won the popular vote in the GOP primaries in 1968.
–The Wilpons try to get the Supreme Court interested in reversing a decision in the Madoff litigation.
I was a history major in college, so I probably shouldn’t talk, but the traditional liberal arts – while they are inferior to studying science and engineering, as preparation for a trade – are one thing; subjects that are neither an academic liberal art nor a lucrative trade are just a waste of college tuition.
Content and traffic at this blog have been off for some time now, so I probably owe a word or two of explanation to readers who have kept stopping by.
In part, I’ve just been busier at work the past few months, with some rather large pieces of litigation, and these days it’s hard for anyone to complain about being busy at work. But a major drag on my time has been personal.
As you will recall, my older brother died suddenly last November. This was too much for my dad, who turned 77 in December – he’d lost his wife and his two oldest sons. Just about the last thing my brother said to my dad was, “let’s have a great Christmas,” and my dad was determined to do that – he held together through the funeral and Christmas, and basically unraveled after that. He’s been in, out and finally in hospitals and homes since then. As any of you who have dealt with aging parents in poor mental condition will understand, this has been enormously time-consuming, in addition to being stressful and generally unpleasant. But my father has carried so many other people for so long, it was time for us to carry him back.
Second, my wife and I had to take over as administrators of my brother’s estate, with all that entails in terms of taking complete control of his finances, assets, bills, tax returns, etc. (Thankfully his papers were well-organized, but there are always small surprises). This, too, has proven enormously time-consuming in its own right. If anybody ever asks you to administer an estate…run.
Third, with my dad unable to function and my younger brother and sister in DC, it fell to my wife and I to mostly take over my father’s finances as well – pay his bills, deal with medical stuff, etc. This, too, has proven enormously time-consuming in its own right.
Fourth, my dad for the last few years had been doing a good deal of the work to handle my Uncle John’s finances, in terms of making sure his bills got paid on time and the like. My uncle, also a widower and with a son who was incarcerated on drug and theft charges (long story; he’s out now and skipped parole, and we’ve had to take additional steps to protect my dad’s house to prevent him from robbing my dad again) was not really able to look after that himself. For reasons not worth explaining here, it fell to my dad, as his surviving brother-in-law, to take this on for my uncle and my uncle’s sister, who lived with him. So, we ended up inheriting all of that headache as well and many related others generated by people newly interested in John’s finances (John died in the spring of this year, after long illnesses). This, too, has proven spectacularly time-consuming in its own right, as well as needlessly acrimonious.
Only so much of all this can come out of the time I devote to work and family, and so necessarily the blog has suffered the most. In particular, my baseball writing; I find it hard to do short baseball posts off the cuff, and I’ve had only so much time to do the kinds of number-crunching that typically goes into my baseball posts. And the more I’m stuck at the office listening to games on the radio rather than watching on TV, the harder it gets to do non-stat-driven posts without just repeating things everybody else is saying already. (My two cents on Jose Reyes, however: there’s nothing at all unprecedented about the way he won the batting title, but especially if he’s leaving town, he owed the fans to at least go out to field his position before being removed, so people could give him a more fitting sendoff ovation). On top of the fact that you can’t really intelligently discuss the Mets these days without addressing the impact of litigation on their finances, and for professional reasons I can’t really get much into the topic of that litigation.
So, thanks for continuing to drop by; I’m still trying to find time to keep the lights on and write when I can. I’m more active on Twitter, where it’s easier to find time to toss off a quick one-liner than to write a long blog post. And sooner or later, I’ll have more of my own time back.
Sorry, had to close comments on the Facebook post again due to a massive spam attack.
Just a placeholder, for tonight.
I’ve been traveling all week and am looking forward to some family time, so probably no blogging before Tuesday.
Enjoy the weekend.
I’m closing the last one due to comment spamming, which tends to target blogs without recent activity and threads that have been open too long. Continue here.
Yes, I know it’s been reaaaaal quiet around here lately. I’m basically swamped at present at work and with life. I can still be found on Twitter, which of course is a lot less time-consuming than blogging. Hope to be back here soon.
I used to like Roger Ebert, back when I was a teenager and he was a prolific, conversational movie reviewer, always challenging the highbrow pretensions of Gene Siskel. In time, I came to see Ebert, like Peter Gammons these days, as a sick, old man whose view of the world was curdled by his illness and his political bile – not just that their political opinions come from people I respected in other fields (I can live with that), not just that they’re wrong, but the combination of ignorance and aggressive, often bigoted vitriol coming from people I don’t especially care to read for their politics in the first place. I may forgive them some of this as being the sickness talking, but that doesn’t make it go down any easier. And in time, in Ebert’s case, with the benefit of hindsight I came to realize that he’d never really been that good a judge of movies in the first place.
All that said, I agree wholeheartedly with this column by Ebert about the literary atrocity inherent in rewriting The Great Gatsby. Yes, very old literature like Shakespeare can sometimes be usefully abridged or translated for modern schoolkids, but there is no earthly reason to think that anyone who can’t read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 20th century American prose has any business reading any version of the book. As Ebert – who is still a fine writer, after all – puts it:
Any high school student who cannot read The Great Gatsby in the original cannot read. That student has been sold a bill of goods. We know that teachers at the college level complain that many of their students cannot read and write competently. If this is an example of a book they are assigned, can they be blamed?
In a note at the end, Ebert suggests that the dumbed-down version of the book may be targeted to an ESL audience, which makes it less alarming, but still a fairly misguided concept.
My annual division roundups, using Established Win Shares Levels (explained at the beginning and end of this post), are disastrously overdue, part of the general fallout of difficult personal times – between wrapping up my brother’s estate following his sudden death in November and my dad’s severe (and not unrelated) decline in health since the end of 2010, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in everything but time to spend on my job, family and blogging. Naturally, my baseball blog posts take the brunt of that – it’s one thing to write about politics or music, since most of the time that takes is the writing time, but most of my baseball stuff requires a lot more investment of time crunching numbers.
That said, in the next few weeks I intend to get the EWSL “previews” done, maybe more of them than usual after Opening Day, if for no other reason than continuity in what is now a long-running project – the 2010 numbers are all in the spreadsheets now. To kick that off, here is the annual chart breaking down how the 2010 EWSL previews compared to each team’s actual results (see prior charts for 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 and 2005).
Key for the chart, by columns:
EWSL: Each team’s “projected” 2010 wins by EWSL.
Wins: Actual 2010 wins.
Team Age: Weighted average age of each team’s preseason 23-man “roster” weighted by raw EWSL.
2010 WS: Win Shares earned in 2010 by those 23 players, expressed in Wins (WS/3).
W +/-: The number of wins by which 2010 WS exceeded – or fell short of – EWSL. Basically, if EWSL is the expected baseline for each player’s performance, this column tells you which teams did better or worse than could be projected from the talent of the 23 players on hand that I included in the preview. Since the main purpose of this exercise is to evaluate how well EWSL fared as a predictor of team performance (as I’ve noted repeatedly, it’s not actually a prediction system, just a fairly rough way of evaluating talent on hand), I’ve ranked the chart by this column.
Rest: The number of wins (WS/3) earned by players on that team who were not in the preseason previews. Basically, this column tells you how much each team got out of players who weren’t on my preseason radar, either because I guessed wrong who would make up the depth chart or because they brought people in by trade, from the minors or elsewhere who ended up being significant contributors. My 2010 EWSL “wins” worked from an assumption that the average team would earn about 13 wins from the rest of the roster, so you have to bear that average in mind when comparing this column to expected results.
Here are the results:
|Team||EWSL||Wins||Team Age||2010 WS||W +/-||Rest|
A few notes:
-As usual, EWSL did about what you’d expect: it got half the teams within 5 wins of the results for their rosters, was way, way off on a handful at either end, and didn’t really have any way of projecting what teams would add to their preseason depth charts.
-The Reds, Blue Jays, Padres and White Sox easily outstripped every other team in getting more from the players on their preseason depth charts than you’d expect. The Mariners and D-Backs fell the furthest short (EWSL had the Mariners as a first-place team, which is about the largest possible error, and Arizona as a strong second). The Mets, even with some fairly tempered expectations, also fell pretty far short, thanks to getting a lot less than projected from Beltran, Castillo, Francouer and (ugh) Mike Jacobs.
-The Mets were, however, second only to the Giants in finding help from unexpected quarters, in the Mets’ case the youth movement led by Ike Davis and the scrap heap brigade led by RA Dickey. The Giants came in almost exactly where EWSL had the 23 guys on their depth chart; their surprising run to World Champions was driven by additions/promotions like Buster Posey, Pat Burrell, Madison Bumgarner, and Santiago Casilla). The A’s, for once, were not leaders in getting extra help. The Cubs, White Sox, Yankees and D-Backs got almost nothing from anybody but the people on their preseason depth charts (other than Arizona, this was an unsurprising byproduct of having a roster already full of older established players with a firm grip on their jobs and a settled bench and bullpen – the three oldest teams, the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies, all relied heavily on the people who started the season with a job).
-MLB-wide, teams earned 1247 Win Shares, or 41.57 per team, from the rest of their rosters. Results year-by-year since I started tracking results at a team level:
2005: 1067 (35.57)
2006: 1143 (38.10)
2007: 1260 (42.00)
2008: 1226 (40.87)
2009: 1221 (40.70)
2010: 1247 (41.57)
Total: 7164 (39.80)
That may partly reflect that I’ve gotten worse over the years at projecting teams’ core rosters, but on the whole, it does indicate at least some sort of rising trend from 2007 on in teams getting slightly more from second-line players, prospects and trade acquisitions than from their Opening Day rosters.
Tom Bevan passed along on Twitter this column asking what one sporting event you’d go back in time to attend in person if you could, and making the case for the first Ali-Frazier fight.
It’s a tough question. I’d immediately discount any event I actually did watch live on TV, like Game Six of the 1986 World Series, the 1980 Miracle on Ice, or the Giants’ three Super Bowl victories. My first reaction was to pick Game Seven of the 1960 World Series over some of the more impressive individual achievements like Don Larsen’s perfect game or Wilt’s 100-point game (of which film doesn’t survive), or classics like Bobby Thomson’s home run, but I think after kicking this around with some others on Twitter I’d probably settle with Game Seven of the 1912 World Series, which just had amazing team and individual drama and a chance to watch some of the greats of the pre-film era (Christy Mathewson, Tris Speaker, Smokey Joe Wood) in their primes.
Mostly to let you all know I’m not dead (which you could tell from my Twitter feed, but I’ve been silent on the blog). Still digging out after a business trip to China. Hope to be back blogging soon.
It’s been a couple of days, and none of my long-brewing essays are done yet, so have at it.
Enjoy the holidays and give thanks for family, especially. I’ll be trying to get back on something more resembling a regular blogging schedule after the long weekend.
Interesting look at the plans to remake Penn Station. I agree with the general point that while Penn is an eyesore and confusing to the uninitiated, it’s also highly functional, and its multiple entry/exit points are a plus – not just for convenience but safety in the even an evacuation is needed. We should monkey with that for aesthetic purposes at our peril.
On Tuesday, we buried my brother Jerry. He was 43. He’d been fine, as far as anybody could tell; he’d been out to dinner with my dad the middle of last week and seemed perfectly healthy, and they were planning to drive to DC on Friday to visit my younger brother and sister. When he didn’t show up, my dad called the cops, and they found him in his apartment, no signs of foul play or any other obvious cause or reason. He’d been in Vegas just a few weeks ago with his fraternity brothers. When we went to start cleaning out his apartment on Saturday night, his computer was still on. We’re still all in shock. It’s hard enough to explain all this to my kids; the oldest are 13 and 11 and don’t understand how a man that age can just drop dead with no warning, the youngest is 4 1/2 and just old enough to begin to grasp the finality of death. But the cruelest blow is to my dad, who is 76. My oldest brother Timmy was killed when he was hit by a car in front of our house while flying a kite in 1972; he was 7, Jerry was 5 and was a step behind him when it happened. Jerry didn’t talk much about it, any more than my mom did, but Timmy was always with them, and now both of them are with him and my dad is left behind. No man should have to bury a child, let alone two of them.
Regular readers of this site will recall Jerry as one of the regular commenters here on topics large and small. While we were on the same page baseball-wise, we didn’t always agree on things political – he was basically a moderate Democrat, voted against Bush twice but had no illusions about Obama and I believe voted against him twice, too – but he always had something pithy and incisive to say on any topic, and usually cut to the issue faster than I did. I’ve been stealing his ideas and his one-liners for years.
Jerry was everything you’d want in a big brother. He was funny, he was cool, he was even-keeled, he was the responsible one, and he was always there. He was four years my senior: he was born in 1967, I was born in 1971. We shared a bedroom until I was 8; I thought back this weekend to us crying our eyes out when my grandfather died that year, my first experience with death in the family. He was quick and clever enough that almost nobody in the family could beat him at board games or card games; even as a kid, he was the one who could solve Rubik’s Cube without taking it apart. He’d worked as a computer programmer at the same company since graduating college in 1989.
The picture above is us with Tom Seaver at my first baseball game, August 28, 1976 (I was not quite 5 and thus not responsible for those plaid shorts, Jerry was 9); my uncle got us down on the field and we got our pictures taken with a bunch of the Mets and a few Dodgers as well. The Mets won that game on a walkoff single in the 9th, Felix Millan driving in Leo Foster. As fate would have it, our last game – I found the ticket stub in his apartment – was 34 years to the day later, August 28, 2010. We’d gotten some tickets from friends who weren’t using them, so I decided to take my son and asked Jerry if he wanted to come; he was always up for a ballgame, and being still single, he was generally free. He didn’t complain when my son wanted to get something from the Shake Shack and we ended up waiting on a 25-minute line and missing the first-inning rally that put the Astros ahead of Johan Santana and the Mets for the rest of the game (it was Santana’s next to last start of the year). We’d gone to a bunch of games with my son and sometimes my older daughter over the years, in the process seeing most of the best games I’ve seen. He had his company’s box seats and my son was just 2 when we saw the Mets win the playoff-game-forcing last game of the 1999 regular season on a Brad Clontz wild pitch; we went to the Mets’ last win at Shea, Santana’s masterful performance with the 2008 season still hanging within reach, with my son and older daughter. He was with me when we went to see U2 at Yankee Stadium in 1992, when we got stuck in traffic on the Tappan Zee Bridge leaving a show that ended after midnight and didn’t get home until after 2am. He’d seen a lot more great concerts than I ever did.
Looking back now, I realize quite how many of my interests came from him. When I was 6, he came home talking about this movie he’d seen, “Star Wars.” We got the comic books and the action figures and I basically knew the whole story by the time I actually saw it in the theater, but it didn’t matter. When I was 10 or 11, my Christmas present from him was a model ice planet Hoth built out of Styrofoam, complete with the Wampa’s cave. He got a tabletop baseball game, SHERCO baseball, and we spent endless hours compiling and playing teams that we didn’t know much more about at the time than their stat lines in the Macmillan Encyclopedia, teams like the 1894 Orioles and the 1906 Cubs. I could still tell you today what a J8K 11-16 pitcher means or a B(11)*mwmk2 hitter is like. He introduced me to The Hobbit (the first full-length book I read, in the second grade) and the Lord of the Rings. He discovered rock n’ roll around 1980 or so (my parents had no use for anything recorded after the mid-1950s), and joined the CBS/Columbia Record Club back when it was records and tapes. A few of his early purchases were embarrassing (REO Speedwagon, Eddie Rabbitt), but he was swifty on to the good stuff, buying the Beatles 1962-66 and 1967-70 compilations, the ones that just hit iTunes this week; we wore those cassettes to death on a little tape deck (for my part, Paul McCartney’s Tug of War on vinyl was the first album I bought with my own money). He bought The River on vinyl when it was newly out, and introduced me to Bruce Springsteen. He introduced me to Bloom County. He subscribed religiously to Baseball Digest, and in 1983, he introduced me to another new book he’d bought, his first Bill James Baseball Abstract. Eventually, I followed him across the Jersey border to the high school he chose (my younger brother also followed him to Lafayette College).
Jerry wasn’t one to wear nostalgia or emotion on his sleeve the way I do, but he tended to the family traditions. He helped my dad decorate the house every year for holidays after my mom died in 2002; that house is still adorned with the Halloween decorations he put up, some of which date back decades. He’d sit patiently with my kids at my dad’s house building Legos and Richard Scarry’s Puzzletown and playing Wiffle Ball, the same stuff we played as kids. Going through his apartment, I found in the medicine cabinet the ringmaster from the Fisher-Price Little People Circus Train that we had as kids, a toy set long since scattered to the four winds, a little plastic figure squatting among the aspirin bottles and contact lense solutions in his top hat and his cummerbund. The next day, going through the old photo albums, I found a picture of me (age 3, in an engineer’s hat) and Jerry (age 7) playing with the full set, Christmas morning, 1974.
For my part, I can’t help but feel not just how much I’ll miss him, but in a way the loss of that whole period of my life. My younger brother was born in 1975, my sister in 1979; I love them, but my brother scarcely remembers the first decade of my life, my sister not at all; those were the memories Jerry and I shared alone with my parents. You always expect to bury your parents, even if they die too young, as my mom did, but you expect your siblings to be there when your parents are gone.
Rest in Peace.
For reasons I’ll explain in a few days, it’ll continue to be quiet for a bit more time here.
Via Allahpundit on Twitter, Pat Sajak looks back at his role in putting Keith Olbermann on national television for the first time. The video clip, from Super Bowl week in January 1989, is kind of sad, really; Olbermann, complete with Ron Burgundy mustache, is affable, relaxed, and low-key, not the bundle of psychotic vein-popping rage, smarmy smugness, egocentric rants at personal enemies and neuroses about women we see on air today. (Sajak, by contrast, remains a tweener, funny for a game show host but not funny enough for a late-night talk show host). While I found Olbermann off-putting when he first started on SportsCenter, I came to enjoy his work with Craig Kilborn in what has to be the golden age of the show; back then they did shtick, but (1) it was their shtick, not an imitation of somebody else’s, (2) it was new and different from everything else on sports TV, and (3) because nobody expected shtick to be the focus of the show, it was much more restrained than it later became.
So, we just got back last night from a week plus vacation, mainly in Duck, in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Apologies for not setting up a guest blogger this time, I had anticipated doing a little blogging from vacation but we had the worst possible WiFi setup – I had internet access only up an observation tower on our rental house, and atop the tower it was too sunny to see the laptop screen by day and too dark to see the keys at night. (Also, I ended up doing more work on vacation than anticipated; it’s been that kind of year). So, I was able to use Twitter from my Blackberry, but no blogging. Hopefully, regular blogging will return shortly.
We did get a chance, on the way out of town, to check out Kitty Hawk, where the second set* of Wright Brothers chose for their spot to make aviation history, and you only have to fly a kite in the Outer Banks to see why they picked the spot – the wind conditions are perfect for effortless flight. Of course, my 4-year-old was able to walk the distance of the first flight in almost the time it took the Wright Brothers to get there by airplane. The first flight wasn’t that fast. But it is striking that it’s one of the very few great moments in scientific and technological history that was captured for posterity in photographs. And of course, as befitted (befat?) men of that era, everyone involved wore neckties, topcoats and top hats.
On the trip back, we caught the July 4 Mets-Nationals game at Nationals Park. It’s a nice place for a ballgame, with scarcely a bad seat in the house, notwithstanding that it was hot enough there Monday to melt the One Ring. I wouldn’t say it’s quite as attractive a venue as Citizens Bank or Citi Field, but it’s very wide-open, and when Craig Stammen is pitching (he’s in the rotation the day after Strasburg), you can have any seat in the house. We sat in the field-level right field seats (Section 135L), which were awesome until the heat became unbearable, then backed up to the covered seats at the top of the section.
I wish I had more time for a proper retrospective, but I can’t let today go by without noting that it was ten years ago today that I began blogging, with my first (then-weekly) column on Bill Simmons’ Boston Sports Guy website. I stand by my argument in that column that baseball should change the rules to require relief pitchers to face at least three batters.
Long-time readers know the story: I was sending around long baseball emails to college friends, and one of my college roommates, Jay Murphy, suggested I should be writing on the web for Simmons; Bill and I had written for The Crusader, our college newspaper, at the same time. Jay got me back in touch with Bill, who immediately agreed to run a weekly column, which I banged out in one sitting Thursday night, and it ran Friday, May 5, 2000 (he had a couple other friends writing guest slots, including a guy who wrote about pro wrestling). The rest is history; I had no idea of what lay ahead – the Subway Series, Bill leaving to join ESPN and ultimately national stardom, my column moving to the Providence Journal, 9/11, starting my political blogging on Blogspot in August 2002, getting my first big link (from Andrew Sullivan, of all people) a few weeks later, joining The Command Post and redesigning this blog in its present (Movable Type) form in the spring of 2003, getting a then-coveted spot on Instapundit’s blogroll, winning the Best Sports Blog vote in the Weblog Awards in 2004, running my own guest-blogger from Iraq during the run-up to the Red Sox winning the World Series, joining RedState as a diarist in the summer of 2004 and being promoted to a Contributor during the Harriet Miers fight in 2005 and ultimately becoming a Director at RS and a contributing columnist at the New Ledger, having my work run on CBSNews.com and the Hardball Times and referenced on CNN and ESPN.com and in the pages of Sports Illustrated, interviewing Mark Sanford, joining Twitter, etc. It’s been a wild ride, and while the volume and shape of my output has waxed and waned at various times, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, I’m thankful to all my readers and all the people who have published my stuff in many different outlets, and hope the next decade is as interesting as the first one.
Newer readers can sample my best stuff from the sidebar. It’s hard to pick one favorite, especially among serieses of baseball and political columns that were designed to hang together as a coherent whole, but if pressed, I might pick my column on the 2008 farm bill, which I’m told was handed out around Capitol Hill; I had an enormous amount of fun writing that from the primary source in a white heat on a Friday morning, just plowing through the bill and finding one outrageous thing after another.
*The Mets have had some questionable decisions already this year. We saw Fernando Tatis try to score on a wild pitch with two outs, the bases loaded, down 3 and David Wright at the plate against a pitcher having trouble throwing strikes. We saw Jerry Manuel pinch run Tatis for Mike Jacobs and then have to use Alex Cora to pinch hit in the same inning. We saw Manuel play for one run on the road with Joe Mather pitching and Jose Reyes on first base, asking Luis Castillo to bunt before Mather had proven the ability to get anybody out. But perhaps none worse than Manuel on Saturday having K-Rod staying warmed up for 12 innings and possibly as many as 125 pitches in the bullpen before coming in tired to blow the save. Let’s hope that doesn’t linger. That’s why you use the closer as soon as you hit extra innings on the road.
*Craig Calcaterra looks at the curious suspension of Ednison Volquez.
*Joe Posnanski’s all-time NBA top 10. His mini-essays on Wilt, Kareem and Jordan are all spot-on, and in Jordan’s case reminded me of his obvious, though smiling, irritation earlier this year when Jay Leno asked if he could still dunk. This, about Wilt, is an excellent point:
You know, if you think about Wilt Chamberlain’s career – it really is staggering to think that he has through the years been labeled as a guy who did not win enough. I mean, Jim Kelly or Dan Marino or Charles Barkley or Barry Bonds – fair or unfair, it is true they didn’t win championships. Chamberlain won TWO. What’s more, he led his team to the Finals four other times. What’s more than that, his teams were beaten by the Celtics six times in those years, and while so many would like to make that a Russell vs. Chamberlain thing, the truth is those Celtics teams had 10 Hall of Famers. TEN HALL OF FAMERS! Two starting lineups of Hall of Famers. Those teams at various times had Havlicek and Sam Jones and Bob Cousy and Bill Sharman and Tommy Heinsohn and K.C. Jones and so on and so on … all in addition to Russell. They also were coached by Red Auerbach and Bill Russell.
To believe that Wilt Chamberlain – with the help of a Hal Greer here or a Tom Meschery or Paul Arizin there, guided by an Alex Hannum or Dolph Schayes – somehow SHOULD have beaten those Celtics teams is to believe that there has never been a more dominant presence in basketball than Wilt.
Regular readers have undoubtedly noticed that things have been quiet about here lately. Partly that’s work and family time commitments, and partly I’ve been using Twitter more for links and one-liners, and doing more longer-form posts for the blog, but I’m also at the point of the year where I’m ramping up on the preseason baseball previews, which require a lot of development time. I’ve also got something else baseball-related in the works that took a lot of time and won’t be out for a bit.
I’ll be back to talk about good news for the Mets, if there ever is any.
The NY Times looks at an issue of pressing importance to its readers: how hard it is to get by in Manhattan on $500,000 a year. In fairness, the article is done with a sense of the absurdity of the question, and is pretty informative if you wondered how, exactly, people can end up feeling like they really are just getting by on that much money. Of course, the single biggest line item is predictable:
If a person is married with two children, the weekly deductions on a $500,000 salary are: federal taxes, $2,645; Medicare, $139; state taxes, $682; and city, $372. With an annual Social Security tab of $6,621, the take-home pay is about $293,000 annually…
Whatever you may think of the justice or efficiency of different tax rates, that’s one seriously large bite. It goes a ways to explaining why, in “New York…a new study from the Center for an Urban Future, a nonprofit research group in Manhattan, estimates it takes $123,322 to enjoy the same middle-class life as someone earning $50,000 in Houston”.
Compared to my own living expenses in Queens and experience with Catholic school tuition, I can see where some of the more astronomical expenses are; $192,000 a year ($16,000/month) for a three-bedroom apartment is obscene even compared to the cost of home ownership inside City limits, and some of the travel, wardrobe and other expenses listed are truly hard to get my head around.
I am amazed at a strange hole in the safety net of contemporary parenting that seems to gape wider and wider each year. Today’s parents will chopper into school if they think their child has been given an unfair grade on a quiz; they will spend hours manipulating coaches to re-jigger the roster of an all-star team if their kid has been passed over; and they will take over simple school fundraisers – like wrapping paper sales and car washes – that are supposed to be the teenagers’ responsibility. In other words, they build a firewall between their children and all of the old disappointments and aggravations that are meant to prepare them for the big league disappointments and aggravations that are the stuff of adult life. But then when it comes to teenage drinking, to teenager partying in general – when it comes to the kinds of experiences in which kids can get into a huge amount of very real trouble, parents suddenly disappear into the wallpaper.
Easier said than done, as any parent can attest, but crucial nonetheless.
To all. Enjoy the holiday.
I was asked to come up with a book list for The New Ledger along with suggestions from other contributors – this was banged out quickly between shovelfuls of snow this morning, but it’s a cross-section of what I’ve read lately (I’m still reading the Dalin, Amar and Churchill books). The Zubrin book is a true must-read – I’ve been looking in vain for any sort of rebuttal to Zubrin’s thesis about methanol. And the Dalin book is one I wish I’d read years ago, given that the thesis it pushes back at is a much-beloved Known Fact of the anti-Catholic/anti-religious Left.
Real life intrudes, from time to time, so apologies to regular readers if I’m tied up a few days – I know I’m particularly overdue on the Winter Meetings roundup. Hopefully, I’ll be back in the blog saddle again by Wednesday.
Feel free to treat this as an open thread – baseball, politics, whatever. You can even talk about the Giants, but you can’t make me listen.
*Lots of interesting stuff out there on Sarah Palin and her book tour. the Daily Beast looks at how Palin’s book and tour are a one-woman economic stimulus package. Obama’s organization wants a part of that action too: Organizing for America says Palin’s book tour is “dangerous,” so please give them $5. As liberal writer Ezra Klein notes of the Palin coverage:
Liberal sites need traffic just like conservative sites, and the mainstream media needs traffic more than both. And Palin draws traffic. This is actually pretty good revenge for a politician who hates the media. The press had a good time showing Palin to be a superficial creature who relied more on style than on substance, and in getting the media to drop everything and focus on her book tour, she’s proving that they’re much the same.
Amazingly, two positive Palin pieces at Salon, and neither of them written by Camille Paglia: a favorable review of her book and a look at what she means and why she’s not going away as a public figure.
And witness the McCain campaign’s crack rapid-response team in action: more than a year after the election, the NY Times finally gets to talk to the stylist who bought the Palin family’s clothes, and admits that Palin had nothing to do with the money that was spent.
*Mitt Romney takes apart how Obama’s inexperience has led to his failure to set clear priorities and resulting lack of focus on the war and the economy while he pursues as-yet-unfinished health care and cap and trade bills and failed efforts to salvage the campaigns of Jon Corzine and Creigh Deeds. It’s a mark of how inexperienced and incompetent Obama is that he can be lectured credibly on these points by a 1-term governor like Romney and a half-term governor like Palin. Michael Gerson looks in more detail at the mess that is Obama’s decision-making process in Afghanistan.
*Another glorious victory for the stimulus:
The Southwest Georgia Community Action Council, after receiving about $1.3 million in funding from The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, reported creating or saving 935 jobs in their Head Start preschool program that only employs 508 people.
*Byron York looks at why Eric Holder is refusing to disclose how many Justice Department lawyers have previously represented the other side in the war.
*Patterico, as usual, is a man not to tangle with, and he remorselessly dismantles an LA Times columnist over the latest Breitbart ACORN videos. It’s a facepalm with egg and crow!
*Jonathan Karl notices a $100 million payoff to Louisiana in the Senate healthcare bill to buy Mary Landrieu’s vote. John Conyers, in griping about Obama’s posture on the House bill, speaks about “the Barack Obama that I first met, who was an ardent single-payer enthusiast himself.”
*Michael Rosen looks at Al Franken’s so-called “anti-rape” bill that would preclude arbitration of sexual harrassment and various negligence-based employment claims. As Rosen notes, given that the law already bars arbitration of claims arising from rape, whereas the things it would actually change are much less dramatic, it is flatly false to describe opposition to the bill as being “pro-rape” – but then, that’s pretty much Franken’s M.O.
The second of my posts to get picked up at CBS News is up, this one the item on the polls on the terror trials.
Also, we’re ramping up a new foreign policy blog, “Hegemon,” over at the New Ledger. Not much content yet, but my first post is up, on whether it matters if the President has friends among foreign leaders or not.
A large part of Simmons’ appeal has always been that sense that you knew him, that somehow you were invested in his success. Malcolm Gladwell and Chuck Klosterman will sell more books in their lifetime than Simmons, but people don’t wait in lines spanning around the block just to have them sign their book like they do for Simmons. (A search for photos of Simmons brings up hundreds of shots of him posing with fans.) …But it’s what fans have always done with Simmons, even those who purport to hate him. Simmons turned into an indie rock band from the early ’90s. “He’s hanging out with Jimmy Kimmel and Matt Damon now? SELLOUT!” We treated Simmons like he was a guy from our neighborhood who made it big, like it was important that he remember the little people who got him there. In a way, he kind of was.
Leitch is right, although of course it’s a little hard for me to have the same perspective; Leitch didn’t even read Bill on the Boston Sports Guy site in the pre-2001 era, whereas – as longtime readers will recall – I wrote on the site for over a year. I’ve been reading Bill’s stuff since we were on the college paper together in the early 1990s. While I’ve enjoyed a lot of his writings on ESPN.com, they were nothing new to me, because I knew his writing style so well by then. And given our common background at Holy Cross and how long I’ve known him, Bill basically is a guy from my neighborhood.
Leitch’s larger point, though, is one I’ve made repeatedly over the past decade about writers, politicians, musicians, and the blogosphere in general. There’s no substitute for a conversational tone that draws the reader/listener/viewer in. There’s no substitute for being truly, comfortably yourself – maybe a slightly more eloquent, witty or composed version of yourself, but people can tell when you are talking to them the way you would talk to your friends, and when you are just writing or talking at them. The latter is usually a sign that you are taking yourself too seriously and/or disrespecting your audience. I always personally feel my writing is much stronger – not just my blog writing but my legal writing as well – when it feels more conversational. Bill James was probably the first writer I really and truly absorbed that lesson from – and even to this day, James’ fans are so dedicated to the man’s work not only because of his insights, his wit and wisdom, or his scientific rigor, but because his writing was always a frank conversation where he’d go off on tangents, discuss petty feuds with his adversaries, gripe about what was on the radio, etc. You felt, just from reading the annual Abstracts, like you knew the guy. And Bill Simmons’ writing does the same thing, and thus has generated the same loyalty, especially from people who remember when Simmons, like James, was essentially self-publishing his work and living on a shoestring to do it.
It’s true, as Leitch says, that Bill has faced more backlash as the years have gone by, inevitably due to a combination of his success and ubiquity, people getting tired of his signature style, and the fact that it’s hard for a die-hard Boston fan to keep the same underdog appeal when the Red Sox, Celtics and especially Patriots are rolling up title after title. But that comes with the territory. Bill’s had great success and he’s earned it by being the sportswriter the fans wanted to be.
*Josh Painter looks at how the latest financial disclosure forms tell the story of the intense financial pressure put on Sarah Palin by the stream of bogus ethics complaints filed by left-wing bloggers, culminating in the complaint that prevented her from accessing funds raised for her legal defense. It certainly makes a compelling case why an ordinary person in Palin’s shoes would step down rather than be driven under by the expenses. Whether that’s enough to absolve her as a potential presidential candidate is another matter; we tend to expect potential presidents not to act like ordinary people. Of course, most politicians would have escaped the mounting debts by writing a book or giving speeches for money, but Palin may have felt, not without reason, that any such activities while serving as governor would lead to further ethics complaints that would tie up those sources of income as well. Meanwhile, Melissa Clouthier looks at a CNN poll finding 70% of the public currently thinks Palin unqualified to be president.
I’m not picking a horse for 2012 yet, nor will I until after 2010. It’s unclear if Palin will run, anyway. I do know a few things. One, for reasons I’ve been through many times, I’d much prefer to support a more experienced candidate – we’re not the Democrats, after all, who have permanently forfeited the right to say anything on this subject by backing Obama – and the fact that people in my position are even open to Palin at all at this juncture is a sign of the weakness of the field so far. Two, Palin has proven to be extraordinarily effective at retaining the public’s interest and even at exercising her influence as a guerilla opposition leader armed with nothing more than a Facebook page; by mostly absenting herself from the public eye except for Facebook and a few op-eds and obscure speeches, she’s kept ’em wanting more (witness the explosive early pre-orders for her book, which non-fiction publishing people viewed as unprecedented), while still driving the public debate (i.e., “death panels”). But the Newt Gingrich experience is vivid proof for Republicans that effective guerillas don’t always make good leaders when they come into power.
Whichever way Palin chooses to go, the book tour (including the appearance on Oprah, who is naturally hostile but not really accustomed to tough interviews) will be a sort of second coming-out for her on the public stage that will be critical and should reveal whether she has spent well her time out of the limelight in terms of boning up for future policy debates. We’ll be able to assess her future much better in a few months.
*Meanwhile, a man to watch if he gets persuaded to run is Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. (H/T) I’ll have more on him another day…upside: Daniels is serious, tough-minded, won re-election in Indiana in 2008 (while it was carried by Obama) after being given up for politically dead in 2006 (when his low approval ratings were blamed as a cause for heavy GOP House losses in the state, paralleling a similar trend in Ohio and Kentucky). Downside: Daniels is as yet reluctant to run (recall how well that worked out with Rudy and Fred), and as a public speaker he’s dry as dust.
*The Democratic circular firing squad over health care continues. And Jay Cost explains why the continuing threat to Lieberman from the Left has made it politically necessary for him to oppose the public option.
*Dan Riehl looks at how the GOP made the disastrous decision in the Congressional race in NY’s 23d district to nominate Dede Scozzafava, who now seems likely to finish third in that race. Meanwhile, Newsbusters notices that the NY Daily News still refuses to acknowledge the existence of Doug Hoffman, the Conservative candidate in the race. Jim Geraghty is unsparing on the folly of Newt’s continuing support for Scozzafava.
*George W. Bush, motivational speaker – without a teleprompter. The WaPo seems astonished that a man who won something on the order of 110 million votes in two national elections is actually a decent speaker. Key quote from Bush: “It’s so simple in life to chase popularity, but popularity is fleeting.”
*On the anniversary of his death, Bill Kristol remembers Dean Barnett.
*Naturally, he’s retracted it, but you can’t top Anthony Weiner’s initial assessment of Alan Grayson as being “one fry short of a Happy Meal.”
*Interesting breakdown of TV ad rates.
*ABA Journal on the tragic saga of Mark Levy.
Another college friend has been blogging on pop culture with her siblings at a relatively newly-established blog entitled “Relatively Entertaining.” Check it out, if it’s to your taste (it’s well-written, although her taste in entertainment is not mine).