Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So long 2008!

Let’s get this out of the way: Those who believe they can, definitively, speak to how 2008 (or any year) will be thought of in 50 years is a self-righteous fool. Harry S. Truman (and to an extent John F. Kennedy) proves otherwise.
Time has a way of clarifying history’s true judgments. Right now, 2008 seems like the year of Barack Obama. History may very well judge that assessment accurate, but it could just as easily be an ironic, negative assessment. Or perhaps the global economic implosion will, ultimately, come to define 2008 and an entire generation. We simply cannot know.
With that said, these reflections are given w/o the benefit of time and are quite likely to be seen as utterly foolish in years to come.
We begin with the trivial: Sports.

January once again gave the Ohio State Buckeyes a thumping, with LSU reaping the benefits. That game annoyed me far more than the year before (with Florida). Why? Stunningly, Jim Tressel seemed to learn nothing from the year before, with an awful gameplan on both sides of the football. A loss to Texas in the upcoming Fiesta Bowl won’t help the cause.

After a big trade in Feb., involving Ben Wallace, Delonte West, and Wally Sczerbiak, the Cavaliers played eventual champs Boston tough, but not tough enough. Looking ahead, that’s OK. As of the afternoon of Dec. 23, the Cavaliers, now with Mo Williams, are 23-4 and, unlike last year’s “LeBron and some other guys” unit, this team CAN truly win an NBA Championship.

The Indians, meanwhile, had huge expectations. They went on to fall flat on their faces. Joe Borowski, and the bullpen as a whole, should be fingered in this, but c’mon, you had platoons all over the place (1B, C, OF). No championship org. should be pinning their hopes on platoons w/ mostly average players (Delucci, for one). And yet, given the Cleveland market and Larry Dolan, this is the reality for the franchise: An extreme dose of good luck (Kerry Wood staying healthy) and good fortune (Shin-Soo Choo playing well) is the only way we’ll ever win.

The year in racing deserves it’s own post, which I probably won’t get to ;), but it ends with the end of an era.

So, Barack Obama will be President in 20 days. I think the night of, and the day after, the Iowa Caucuses were when the awe and gravity of what would possibly happen really hit me. As an abstract, it sounded great. But then, the abstract became reality. Obama, and ALL of us, made it happen.
What kind of POTUS will he be? Again, who knows? I hope he surprises me with, for instance, how he handles the UAW in the next month. But I’m not holding my breath.
Nonetheless, despite the turmoil and difficulty, for me, 2008 was the year we reengaged: with ourselves, each other, and our country.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A long, maddening, weird, and... inspirational 2 years

Ends tonight.


Two years ago (25 months, really), I wrote THIS. I didn't really know what would happen if he did run. By my nature, I'm a pessimist, so I doubted his ability to truly pull this off. And yet...

Yet, here we are. Unless we are surprised tonight, Barack Obama is going to be the 44th President of the United States. Democrats will be the clear majority party in Washington and the country.

Know this, race shouldn't be a pro OR a con in determining a vote. If so inclined, you shouldn't support Obama just b/c he will indeed become our first black president (though, if you are African-American, I certainly get it).

Make no mistake, though, it IS important. 160 years ago, Barack Obama, had he lived in the South, would have been property. 50 years ago, the South (and some Northern enclaves) was segregated. Now, Barack Obama is likely to become the next President of these United States.

As to what kind of POTUS he'll be, no one ever knows for sure. I disagree with him fairly strongly on trade, though I suspect he'll be less protectionist in office. In truth, what the right never understood about Obama is his pragmatism and caution. I was attracted to his candidacy for two reasons: His respect for political ideas with which he disagrees and his un-radical approach. We've had enough radicalism the last eight years. How about a political detox?

I think Alex Massie best explains the Obama phenomenon. In short, the right moment met the right man. He makes no sense as a candidate in 2000, 2004, or perhaps even 2012. But he does in 2008.

For me, outside of that remarkable day in January when Obama won Iowa, the most important day of the campaign was March 18th in Philadelphia. Jeremiah Wright had exploded like a bomb onto the scene, threatening Obama's entire political future. Was he REALLY just a black radical himself who agreed with Wright? Even if not, how could he have gone to Trinity all those years? Would he permanently turn off white voters?

Then came "A More Perfect Union," a stunningly thoughtful, eloquent, and American speech on race. No other politician, of any color, could have truly given that address. Yes, he went on to lose Pennsylvania to Hillary Clinton (along with other parts Appalachia), but it was that day that he not only saved his campaign but also allowed us to have a thoughtful dialogue on race.

Barack Obama is no messiah, as I wrote before. He'll never live up to the enormous, utterly unrealistic expectations set for him. He will fail. All Presidents will. But will he be a failure? I doubt it, but you never know.

Some thoughts on conservatism in America. It is a true shame that the movement started by Goldwater and mainstreamed by Reagan has degenerated into Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. By the end of the night, the Republican Party might be virtually reduced to a Southern-led rump. It needs to come back, and with some thought and work, it will.

For now, though, an era comes to an end.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Yes and No

Overall, I think I agree with Sullivan on the Keating strategy. I had hoped Keating would not get mentioned at all, and I think you could have let the increasingly bizarre McCain camp bury itself in bombthrowing.

On the other hand, if as Scheiber suggests (see Sully's links), the Keating connection is used, in part to discuss policy differences, like regulatory policy, I'm less troubled by it.

Not to mention, it's, you know, TRUE.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Joe Biden!

Uhh, :sigh:. At the rate he's going, maybe Joe Biden will be sick of... Joe Biden!

And yet, STILL a much better pick than Palin.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What they said

Obama's Spanish-language ad... SUCKS and is "shitty." McCain may be many things*, but anti-Hispanic he ain't. Has he muddled his position? You bet. That SHOULD be pointed out.

But this is dumb and false, though, I suspect, not a huge buy.

*In unrelated news, McCain adds Spain to "Axis of Evil."

UPDATE (8:15 pm): See, THIS ad (based much more on facts) is more like it:



I go back-and-forth on it, though right now, I'm more inclined towards Obama's view, but it IS a legit ad.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bad Obama, Good (very good) Obama

First, the bad. From Dave Weigel:

David Freddoso is the author of the lone decent anti-Obama book, The Case Against Barack Obama. (It's the Myth of a Maverick of anti-Barackology!) It was researched on the scene in Chicago. It doesn't traffic in birth certificate-style kookery.

So, naturally, the Obama campaign is siccing the bloodhounds on Freddoso.

A bit hyperbolic (along with the "brownshirt" meme on the right)? Yeah, but the fact is this is not necessary and beneath the Obama campaign. Freddoso is conservative, but not a TOTAL hack. I'm all for vigorously challenge his ideas, almost none of which I agree with, but he has a right to be heard and WGN has a right to air his ideas. Any implied threat is wrong.*

Oh, but the Good, the Good is excellent and very risky (ballsy). We all know the markets are, umm, having issues right now. Economic distress/anxiety is THE issue right now. So, in a surreal two-three weeks of Palinmania, e-mails** and bacon (well, where it comes from ;)), what does Obama do?

Pay for a TWO-MINUTE ad on the issue:



A two-minute ad on policy? Refreshing, no? Might it bore people? Perhaps, but this is what we need the campaign to be. In other words, file this under "One man is serious, the other is not."

*It should be noted that the Obama "Call to Action" included this: "Be honest, be civil." Not exactly brownshirt.

** I'm referring to the following, which I initially thought was OK, but is just dumb:



BTW: Sullivan on Freddoso.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Clarification

So, it must seem that I really dislike Sarah Palin. While I like her less and less with the passage of time, and am disturbed by the "Us vs. Them" culture wars she now represents, there STILL remains something about her to admire: Trig.

As a pro-life Democrat, who also has a serious genetic disorder, her actions here and her words about her son (Paraphrasing: "He just has one extra chromosone. But what is normal anyway?") are incredibly moving and loving to me. As a human being, I have no argument with her. Which is why THIS comment (though steeped in some truth) bothers me.

On politics, I hate what she represents: a cultural resentment that seeks to divide, while helping no one. Been there, done that.

Which brings me to "Acceptance." No, I'm not particularly thrilled with what (likely) will happen, but at some point, a)reality must set in and b) you need to live a life outside of politics. Accept what is so.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Acceptance (And Bill O'Reilly's a Moron)

So, the polls look bad:


The Palin effect is not about Hillary...it is about cultural conservatism. Palin connected with many Republicans and swing voters on cultural issues. This reinforces something we have been saying for months: presidential elections are about people and "trust," not about issues. Yes, policy positions matter but personae (voter perceptions of the candidates' values) trumps issues every time.

If you wonder why GW Bush got elected TWICE, there's your answer. If historians, say, 3-400 yrs. from today, wonder "What the h=ll happened to that United States?", there's your answer folks. Vague cultural persona means more than... issues.

Onr of the most disturbing rationalizations/explanations for "SarahMania" is the "She's one of us!" argument. What? We're talking about, potentially (eventually?) the most powerful, prestigious, and, dare I say it, elite position in the world, and we WANT "Average Joes" or "Hockey Moms!" in that office b/c they seem like us?

Apparently. So be it. This is America, circa 2008.

Meanwhile, O'Reilly blames wage deflation on... illegal immigrants:


Heh.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Kinder, Gentler, New Richard Nixon

Sarah Palin.

Nixonland lives.

Gov. Palin was verrrrrrry good last night, playing, as only she could, on cultural resentments. But she did so in a seemingly easy(ish)-going way with confidence.

And it might work.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Obama: Good and Not-so-Good

First, the "Not-so-Good." Look, I'm a pro-life (nominally, anyhow) Democrat, so I'm obviously disappointed in the verbatim pro-choice talk, with a touch of fear-mongering. Politically, I get it. Women (esp. Hillary folks) considering voting for McCain will likely think again. Doesn't mean I like it though.

But that is outweighed by a ton by the "Good." I hope Barack cleans up over that pompous, nutjob asshole O'Reilly, not by playing O'Reilly's trash game, but by being himself. I kinda think he will.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

More Palin II

As time goes on, and more info trickles out, it's clear this was a wreckless, atrocious pick, based on... IMPULSE.

It is remarkably unthoughtful in a time requiring prudent, serious leaders. What it says, shockingly, is John McCain can't be trusted.

But do NOT mistakenly believe it won't work. As my right-wing uncle proves, the base loves her and is ready to go. Pat Buchanan articulates my doomsday scenario:
In choosing Palin, McCain may also have changed the course of history as much as Ike did with his choice of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan did with his choice of George H.W. Bush. For should this ticket win, Palin will eclipse every other Republican as heir apparent to the presidency and will have her own power base among lifers, evangelicals, gun folks and conservatives – wholly independent of President McCain.

A traditional conservative on social issues, Palin has become, overnight, the most priceless political asset the movement has. Look for the neocons to move with all deliberate speed to take her into their camp by pressing upon her advisers and staff, and steering her into the AEI-Weekly Standard-War Party orbit.

Indeed, if McCain defeats Barack, 2012 could see women on both national tickets, and given McCain's age and the possibility he intends to serve a single term, women at the top of both – Sarah vs. Hillary.

And thus the end of the Democratic Party for years.

Look, I still kinda like her. But this isn't fair to her: She's not ready.

In the end, we'll find out something. If John McCain wins, then let there be no doubt: We live in a conservative nation.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

More Palin

The more one thinks about it, the more astonishing it becomes. No, actually, CYNICAL is the true word that comes to mind.

If you think McCain did this out of principle, well, I have property in the Everglades to sell you. Prior to last week, he'd met her... ONCE!

Look, despite some creationist tendencies and anti-climate change views (not to mention I'm a liberal, she's a conservative), I'm not dis-inclined toward her as a person, like I was Romney. In fact, if the Obama-Biden ticket wins and Dems. overreach (inevitable), I could, if only out of protest or as a corrective, see myself considering voting for her... in 8 yrs.

Which is why Gov. Palin should also be concerned. In time, she could become an important conservative voice and a national force to be reckoned with. Right now, she is a TOKEN, greatly diminishing her current and future stature.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

But it MIGHT WORK, folks! Early polling suggests the effect it will have on women is not all that significant. Men seem to like it though. Being an NRA member, hunter, former high school athlete helps here. In time, her personal story COULD resonate with more women. And if she doesn't make a huge mistake (BIG "If"), well it could work. And if it does...

If it does, the Democratic Party won't see power for an entire generation. If McCain serves 2 terms, and does reasonably well, Sarah Palin will be 52. But she'll also have 8 yrs. as VP, eliminating "readiness" worries, the perfect combination of youth (52 is still young) and experience. Think the Dems. could defeat that? Me either.

So this is it. Obama really needs to win this. Otherwise...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin: High Risk, High Reward

McCain-Palin.

Surely, it must suggest that the McCain folks think they're in trouble, recent polling aside. It is an enormous gamble and reach, and after reading Sully all day (seriously, too much good stuff to link to), utterly unserious in terms of governance. THIS is precious. Deep thoughts on foreign policy.

READY ON DAY ONE, BABY!!

More political thoughts (some not so good for Dems.) tomorrow.

The acceptance speech

More or less, I agree with Sullivan's take. What we saw was a serious man, ready to lead the nation, and, FINALLY, unashamed of his liberalism.

Most conservatives (other than Pat Buchanan, who gushed over it last night, and Bill Kristol.) panned it, but that's the thing. Obama has been trying, throughout the campaign, to utterly reframe the purpose and reasoning behind liberalism, turning it into a very patriotic, American ideal. If last night did not prove it, nothing will.

Was it his best ever? No, but it was very good and watched by 38,000,00 on TV.

Oh, and the set worked just fine.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

On Columns and Other Reflections

On the Greek Temple thing, Ben Smith helpfully reminds us that the Bush '04 set also had columns. I admit my premature freakout.

Awhile back, I posted THIS George Packer essay on what he hoped was the fall of modern American Conservatism. These lines struck me:



Yet the polarization of America, which we now call the “culture wars,” has been dissipating for a long time. Because we can’t anticipate what ideas and language will dominate the next cycle of American politics, the previous era’s key words—“élite,” “mainstream,” “real,” “values,” “patriotic,” “snob,” “liberal”—seem as potent as ever. Indeed, they have shown up in the current campaign: North Carolina and Mississippi Republicans have produced ads linking local Democrats to Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama’s controversial former pastor. The right-wing group Citizens United has said that it will run ads portraying Obama as yet another “limousine liberal.” But these are the spasms of nerve endings in an organism that’s brain-dead.
But are ALL the nerve endings dead? John McCain has been determined to prove Packer wrong.


To be fair, his ad tonight IS all class:


That said, he's run a post-Nixon conservative campaign: define your opponent as someone you cannot trust and who's "not like you and me." To an extent, it's worked.

All of which makes me ponder if this is another case of pundits declaring the "end of an era" prematurely. They no doubt declared Goldwater conservatism stillborn in '64. We now know it wasn't. Let's just wait folks.

Finally, Day 3 in Denver was MUCH better. Sen. Obama speaks in 2 hrs.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Focus, people!

Interesting piece the other day by Joe Klein on a Frank Luntz focus group.

I think he misinterprets one thing, though: the "'Change' is over" meme. See, what we're missing is the legacy of McCain 2000. Despite the fact that he's reverted to a Bush '04-like campaign, with similar policies (on steroids?) and campaign methods.

BUTTTTT, the goodwill McCain built up 8 yrs. ago is helping. Many are convinced, whether we choose Obama or McCain, that we'll GET CHANGE. Now, it's a matter of degree and, crucially, what type we're most comfortable. Of course, if Obama can erode McCain's "Maverick" image...

Also from Klein: (And as for McCain's Paris/Britney ad--the key wasn't the charge that Obama was a celebrity, but the sight of him speaking to that vast crowd in Germany, which at least one member of the focus group compared to a Nazi rally.)

Gee, didn't see that coming. Oh, wait...

Well, at least the Obama folks have learned from it. Oh, OOOOOOOOPS! Ya know, I'll wait and see how it actually turns out, but Jeebus, it looks way too grandiose right now. It reinforces the McCain meme and isn't needed.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Biden pick

Now we know. Sen. Barack Obama selects Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) for his VP choice.

Two perspectives: First, Marc Ambinder. Second, Ron Fournier.

You know, early in the week, I hated the pick, thus putting me closer to Fournier. Not only does Biden, umm, like to hear himself talk, but the whole plagiarism thing will no doubt come back in discussion.

As time goes on though, I kinda like it. Love it? No. But, overall, I agree with Sullivan's take. Fears that an Obama Admin. will be a bunch of young, naive punks making policy should be partially negated.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Take a month off

And everything changes! Obama's lead evaporates. Russia goes all Tsarist* on us. And, the IndyCar Series flirts with irrelevance.

As for why Obama's in trouble, THIS Sullivan post goes a long way to explaining it, along with my theory that folks didn't object to Bush on ideas; they did so on competence. Liberals missed this.

*Just a note. Putin's Russia is many bad things; Communist, it ain't.

More on the IRL later.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The seeds of Orthogonian revolt

So, The New York Times rejected a McCain op-ed. On the same day, the McCain camp comes out with this:


Obama, meanwhile, is on his great trip abroad. On said trip, as many as one million Germans may turn out to see his speech. Furthermore, per the Yahoo! link, we have the Iraqi PM basically endorsing Sen. Obama's withdrawal plans.

The McCain ad is silly. Oil prices are high? Blame the guy who has only been there for 3.5 years! Really, nonsense. But...

But from another perspective, the McCain ad works beautifully. Notice, in particular, the "chanting" of "Obama! Obama" during the ad. It reminds Orthogonians, the folks that Rick Perlstein chronicles in Nixonland as increasingly resentful of liberal elites, that Obama's campaign is "new", with "young supporters." By their traditional nature, Orthogonians aren't worried about long-term climate and energy policies. If you can drill, DRILL, they say. Those who get in the way don't "get it."

The Times' decision to reject the McCain op-ed might be right on the merits (It was little more than "Obama would have lost Iraq), but horrible politics. Orthogonians already see the media as elitist liberals, with the NYT at the top of that list. They'll resent what they see as the NYT's censorship of McCain.

As for the great Obama trip, well, Orthogonians might be reassured..., or the reception of "elitist Europeans" will only make them suspicious of Obama ("Is he one of us?"). While they simultaneously seek elite approval, they also revel in not getting it. Will this tell these folks that Obama is just like those who, supposedly, look down on them?

I have no idea, but I post this to remind pundits not to assume too much here. The above scenario could be the winning one.

In this battle,

There are no winners.

Danica has no class, Milka has no talent. Given how Danica proved her "talent" by qualifying... 20th, advantage Milkers, I guess.

Oh yeah, congrats to Ryan Briscoe.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Worst argument against Obama yet

Courtesy (sadly, as I like his work) James Joyner.

Nor do I have any reason to believe Obama would be less prone than McCain to overreach in his use of executive power to advance what he believes to be legitimate and necessary goals. Indeed, Obama’s seeming lack of sense of humor and condemnation of any and all criticism as beyond the pale worries me greatly on that front.


Really? You know, point to FISA, point out that his domestic agenda could, one can argue, require greater executive power. Just don't argue that thin skin and an alleged lack of humor has something to do with it. After all, George Bush was certainly funnier than Al Gore in 2000. How'd that work out for the Constitution?

Indy Racing Revolution

I wanted to introduce my newest link (Random Favorites), Indy Racing Revolution by Chris Estrada. Via Chris, two interesting pieces.

The first provides us with real news: New Hampshire and Las Vegas on the '09 IRL schedule. The FOXSPORTS.com story includes lukewarm denials, so I'd say it will happen. Also interesting is that LVMS, which has been reconfigured (more banking, sadly) since the IRL last raced there, would be the season finale.

This is both a great opportunity and major risk for the IRL. The opportunity comes from the growing closeness with Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI), as opposed to International Speedway Corporation (ISC), owned by the France Family. SMI and ISC are in compettition. Years ago, TGeorge and ISC were BFF's. Now, ISC venues are sparse on the IndyCar schedule. If you want some ovals, (tracks in general), you might need SMI.

It's risky, though, since the IRL left both tracks due to piss poor attendance. Loudon, for instance, featured some the worst crowds I've EVER seen. If the attendance is not much better, this will not end well for anyone.

THIS by Estrada is just full of goodness. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Awesomeness



A picture I thought I'd never see. The same PT who said, "I'm not gonna drive one of those crapwagons!" will do just that. The same PT who, some say, got screwed out of a win in the '02 500 by Tony George is, obviously, going to drive for, uhh, Tony George. Ahh, the ironies of mergification, enough to make Harry Turtledove pause!

More awesomeness: Crazy man Forsythe to Indy Lights! Rumor has it that Forsythe might run a 500 program in '09 and full IndyCar program for 2010, though given the new car in 2011, that makes no sense.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Meme That Must Die

As Nate Silver points out HERE, the "pundit class" in America truly has no new ideas and is intellectually bankrupting itself. How about this, idiots? "Barack Obama is... Barack Obama, a politician with some unique traits who can also be utterly conventional." He will chart his own legacy (good or bad) in his time.

Still, one of the memes he cites is "He's the new Carter!!!" I always thought it was nonsensical, but it remains a powerful meme on the right. Just two problems.

1. You can make that argument as often and as loudly as you'd like. Fine by me, though I disagree with it. What you CANNOT do is then argue, as many righties have, that he's a "ruthless, Chicago pol." who will throw anyone "under the bus," ala Charles Krauthammer. Sorry folks, but in this case, the two descriptions ARE mutually exclusive, at least at the degrees you on the right have taken them.

See, one CANNOT simultaneously be a "weak, naive twit," like Carter, and a "cynical, calculating pol." Doesn't work. One or the other folks.

2. To the substance of the question, Ryan Lizza's piece in the New Yorker (what about the cartoon????!! Move on, already) paints a pretty balanced picture of someone perfectly comfortable with working in the system as is. He may not like it (or maybe he does), but he's not naive about it. The profile might upset some starry-eyed supporters, but it is balanced and shows he's most concerned with results, purity or not.

On foreign policy, Eli Lake gives the meme a nice smackdown. Unfortunately, we get another "comparison" (to Reagan!) in return, but clearly, Jimmy Carter he is not.

Finally, Obama's foreign policy speech today is not one of a clueless twit. As Andrew suggests, Bush 41-esque.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Saving Sullivan (and myself?), Part 2

So, as Andrew writes HERE, Iraq, once seemingly lost for good, has seen tremendous progress. Even as one who opposed the "Surge" when announced and for months after, I'll admit that it made a difference. I should note that, by itself, I doubt the surge would have done much if not for the Iraqis (esp. Sunnis in Anbar) finally rejecting Al Qaeda and it's ideology. Still, it certainly helped.

Which is why it defies logic (mine anyway) that Sullivan sees this as being advantageous for BOTH POTUS candidates, esp., he suggests, OBAMA. Huh, come again? Even more than Bush, it was McCain who was out in front of the whole "surge" idea. While Andrew acknowledges that, sort of, he says it STILL gives credence to Obama's overall judgment. Curious, considering he (Andrew) was once one of the blogosphere's biggest cheerleaders for the war. By '06, he had indeed (to his credit) changed his mind, but I think some (most?) of this was a lack of faith in the Administration to win/not totally **** everything up. He's been open to success even since that point ("Victory" is a silly term here, since no one knows how that translates, or if, by definition, it's possible).

Well, I think we have some successes here (short-term anyway; I fear we've armed too many groups, so that, in a few yrs., we'll have a nice Lebanon repeat), so shouldn't the part of Andrew that believed in the underlying rationales for this, be rejecting the one candidate who consistently said this was a terrible idea?

For that matter, if it turns out Iraq ends up in a good spot, shouldn't I reconsider? I opposed the war from the start, never seeing the need or justification. While that still holds, if some good that I had not foreseen does come of this, whither my judgment? And how could I support a party that would have been so wrong on the most important foreign policy issue?

In the end, I still vastly prefer Obama to McCain, and whatever happens in Iraq, I believe that McCain's foreign policy is dangerously hawkish (when coherent). But I'm liberal; Andrew is not.

It is Sullivan's contention that Burkean conservatism is about humility, and not getting caught up in one's (or another's) greatness. Clearly, the Bush Right understands none of this, so Andrew's rejection of it makes perfect sense. His indecision on McCain does not, since domestically, we know a McCain administration will be much more in line with his conservatism (less government, entitlements, etc., not to mention, he doesn't have the in-your-face faith of Bush).

Instead, Andrew seems to have put quite a bit of faith in Barack Obama as a person who is right for the job at this moment. I share this view, but would Burke? Given his prescient rejection of the French Revolution, guided by wreckless men who believed in their own greatness, I doubt he would support ANYONE, however noble they might be, who actually disagreed with him on the issues. No man is that great to put your faith in him purely for who he is, I think Burke might say. Yet, Andrew does just this.

I read Andrew Sullivan everyday. His might be the best blog touching on politics out there. He can believe what he wants. I just think he'll come to regret supporting Obama over McCain, should Obama become POTUS.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Saving Sullivan's (Political) Soul

And now, dear readers, we come to the case of one Andrew Sullivan (WIKI profile). As his Wiki indicates, he HAS BEEN an Obama supporter. This is the same person who still admires Margaret Thatcher (NOTE: Not judging that, here). Regular Dish readers know that he favors entitlement reform, smaller government, and something of a flat tax, not exactly liberal ideas.

Now, given my support for Obama, I should welcome his potential support. In a sense, I do, but I tend to feel folks should vote for the person who most closely follows their views. Now, a quick comparison:

John McCain On The Issues

Barack Obama On The Issues

Now, who do you think most closely resembles Andrew Sullivan (other than gay rights)? NOT Obama.

Recently, Sullivan went thru some mental jujitsu to justify his lack of an endorsement (now) for McCain. THIS on fiscal conservatism. He likes what McCain says, but doesn't believe him? By that standard, vote for no one!

On Iraq, where Andrew repudiated his fervent, neo-conish support for the war, but now admits that, on some level, the surge worked, we find THIS. Elsewhere (can't find it), he says that differences on Iraq between are decreasing.

On most of domestic policy, he ought to favor McCain (wishful thinking, notwithstanding*). Foreign policy is a tougher call, given how Iraq sobered many, like Andrew. In theory, McCain should be different from Bush (Climate Change, for one**) in this arena. Of course, different might mean "crazier than Bush," ala Abe Greenwald. If we assume he won't be a total neo-con idiot (to be fair, there's a case to be made that he WILL), then, for his own good, I suggest Andrew look at everything and... Endorse McCain.

Why do I say this? In my mind, if you end up not supporting the candidate with whom you are in agreement more because of the traits of the other person, you'll regret it. Because while I'm convinced Barack Obama can be a great president, I'm a liberal. For Andrew's conservatism, however, McCain is his best bet.

One more note. If the GOP nominee were Romney or Giuliani, I'd skip this post altogether. Why? Well, Romney's a dishonest hack and Rudy, uhh, SCARES THE BEJEEBUS out of me, and others. Within the GOP at least, McCain is neither (though his foreign policy makes this liberal nervous).

Postscript. Earlier today, I thought he was coming around to his more natural place with these two*** posts. Later on, though, that seemed not to be the case.

*I'm agnostic on Soc. Security myself.

**Effing Hilarious.

RNC on climate change: Man, we suck!

***Andrew clarified his (seeming) support for the ad HERE.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Book Review

Well, given this blog's name, this seems appropriate. Anyway, today's topic: Thunder at Sunrise, by John M. Burns.

Let me start with this: The writing by Mr. Burns won't blow you away. From a pure prose/literary perspective, if you read one chapter, you've read 90% of the book. The Preface, first chapter, and Epilogue are unique however.

A chapter begins with worldly historical events, trying to create an atmosphere in which the racing events occur. A lead-up summary of the event (Vanderbilt Cup, Grand Prize, and Indy) and a summary of the event itself contains the balance of the chapter. Pretty utilitarian.

I don't really begrudge Burns for this, though, since the nature of the topic kind of necessitated this style. I suppose he could have written this more like a novel, but then the racing could get lost. Conversely, he could have narrowed his focus to the Vanderbilt Cup, America's first great racing event, but the drivers and automakers of the era competed in all three events, and the emergence of each event had an impact on the prestige of the previous event. How do you narrow it down?

At any rate, the 257 pages are loaded with great photos from the events, though a majority of them are from IMS. Still, comparing pictures from the 1904 Vanderbilt Cup and, oh, the Peugeots driven by Jules Goux (1913-14) and Dario Resta (1915-16) at Indianapolis, it is striking even then to see the aesthetic changes. Frankly, the 1904 machines look like little more than boxes with wheels (small wheels, with hideously thin tires). The Peugeots show semblance of streamlining, esp. at the back, with a better understanding of engine technology. By 1914, speeds were just a shade under 100 mph at Indy.

The most compelling part of the book might be the first two chapters, describing the first Vanderbilt Cup on Long Island, and the events surrounding it's formation. Burns is at his best describing the atmosphere of excitement and uncertainty for the first race. The crowds simply swamped organizers, making crowd control laughably, though disastrously, impossible. I was struck by the fact these racers, organizers, and fans were truly embarking on uncharted territory; to those at the time, it must all have seemed like something of a fantasy world out of science fiction. They had little understanding of the consequences of what they were attempting. Little thought was put into safety; they simply didn't know what could happen, or what to do about it.

Despite crowd control issues, the race was a smashing success. And Burns wants us to believe that had it gone badly (or never started in the first place), American motorsports would have been stillborn. I don't know about that, but the fact that all 3 events attracted the same caliber of manufacturers (foreign and domestic), gives some credence to the point, in that, had there been no Vanderbilt Cup (in many ways, the first U.S. Grand Prix), would anything else of equal prestige have ever emerged?

Perhaps the best part of the book is getting introduced (or reintroduced) to the great drivers of the day. From Harry Grant, to George Robertson, George Heath to Eddie Hearne and Ralph Mulford to Ralph DePalma, drivers who were otherwise lost to history (other than DePalma, a true legend) are brought back to life.

So too are car makers like Mercer, Stutz, Alco, Locomobile, National, and Pope, marques that most of today's readers (like myself) had never heard of. Burns helps chronicle not just the early racing scene, but the overall automotive scene of the era.

Needless to say, Burns, despite his faults, details an automotive and sporting era far more interesting and colorful than many would otherwise imagine. In that, Thunder at Sunrise is a success and must-read for those interested in the sport's history.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

It Isn't Easy Being a Total Hack

Sean Hannity descends into self-parody. Heh.

Then again,

There are times when the product sucks. Last nights ICS race in Richmond was virtually unwatchable as it degenerated into an amateur-hour wreckfest followed by a single-file parade. One of the worst I've seen in years.

Oh, and Marty Reid, please STFU. There were NOT 60k there last night. Try 35k, maybe.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

IndyCar's future

Forgive me, this will be long and might even mix in some politics.

First, some lousy news: No new formula until 2011. On some levels, I get it. To do it right will require time, and $ is tight right now. Some would also say its understandable, desirable even, to launch it in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500.

I can understand the logistical arguments (time and $), and while there's sense in the 100th anniversary angle (Those of us who were more loyal to CART/CC should acknowledge this: Indy is, currently, the only value in the sport), it comes from the wrong perspective: IMS-centricity. While Indy is indeed vital to the sport, you cannot make every decision based solely, seemingly, on the fortune of one place.

While it might not fit IMS symmetry, we needed a new formula sooner. The current machines are simply tired, loud, too slow, and not aesthetically pleasing.

Furthermore, ONE CHASSIS? Again, a money thing, but doesn't that mean that teams will inevitable flock to the mark that has the most hp (provided its reliable, an important note)?

At any rate, Miller seems positive on the whole thing, and HOORAY! to turbos. For former CC folks, though, waiting until 2011 is a bridge too far. I'm still game, but waiting until 2011 is... unfortunate, in my view.

It's too bad, also, given that Iowa was surprisingly good, with a great 35-40k sellout. A fair amount of passing, knowledgeable fans, and differing strategies were all involved.

But will it matter?

I suppose that THIS POST at TrackForum started this train of thought. Now, I don't totally agree with premise that IndyCar, as it is today and will become in the future, is doomed to lousy ratings, but any empirical look at the evidence suggests it's very possible. Why? Time for some politics (and the way-back machine)!

This 1987 article (found in The Atlantic archives) by Bill Schneider (now of CNN) analyzed how the Goldwater-Reagan movement fundamentally changed American politics. Combined with THIS New Yorker piece by George Packer on the (electoral) end of the Conservative Era, I think we may have an answer.

In the last 40 yrs., it has become something of a badge of honor in this country to compete in athletic events that are unique from other international compettitions. Not only do we not get soccer (myself included), but we're PROUD of that. It's not an American/North American game, so our lack of interest. The Conservative Revolution detailed in the Schneider and Packer articles ushered a different sense of nationalism/national pride. Where we were once content to judge ourselves based on international (largely European) opinion, now we choose to pursue our own path in sports.

So it is in racing. I'm finishing Thunder at Sunrise, a book that details the early American racing scene, including the first 6 Indianapolis 500's (Seriously, Ralph Mulford got screwed in 1911). One of the (many) interesting things with the book was the sense of international prestige our three major events, the Vanderbilt Cup, Grand Prize (anglicized grand prix), and Indianapolis held. These early great events saw a huge number of foreign makes (FIAT, Mercedes, Benz, and Peugeot, to name a few) competing against a developing American market. International racers like Jules Goux (1913 Indy winner) dominated on more than a few occasions.

While such a state of affairs did not please the public, it also created drama and a measuring stick. The other makes were better; we improved. And their presence gave the events a remarkable and curious prestige.

As time drew on, stock car racing developed as a unique sport, separate from Indianapolis-style racing. Unfortunately, even during the first 30+ years of NASCAR, it was seen as utterly regional, unsophisticated, and niche sport. IndyCar racing dominated.

Thanks to many factors (The Split among them), that has reversed. Americans have embraced this uniquely American form of racing, but, like conservatism in 1980, only after it's image changed to something juuuuuuuust sophisticated enough (but not too sophisticated, ala Europe) for the mainstream. Americans have embraced oval-track racing with machines that look like normal cars (Biggest canard in Motorsports- they're NOTHING like street cars. They're just ugly as hell-seriously the COT sucks- and use '60's technology), with American heroes. IndyCar racing is seen as a) poorly run, but b) a foreign-based sport with foreign drivers. Many say, "Why do we need this?"

To those reading, I place NO value judgment on this nationalism/pride. Many other nations are similar in this regard, but it IS something that has changed. We don't need anyone else to justify any of our sports or actions. Clearly, this is not favorable to IndyCar.

Many who supported the original formation of the IRL seemed, in my view, to advocate an open-wheel version of NASCAR. But I don't want that, and what's the point of it? Just give it to NASCAR.

And maybe that's where we're headed. In some sense, wouldn't it do the 500 a service to return it to a sport that people care about? Maybe that would truly honor the Speedway.

But I hope it doesn't happen. For years, IndyCar has been a bridge between F1 and pure "American" racing. In that, it is utterly unique. Moreover, I hate to think that American racing is going to be boiled down to NASCAR, a low-tech form of racing.

Most of all, I love the speed, and I'll say it again, on it's best day, open-wheel racing smokes NASCAR. I just hope it will still be around for me to enjoy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Better than this

I think John Cole has a point here. Obama and his campaign should be above playing into stupid stereotypes. After all, there's NOTHING WRONG with being Muslim. There are hundreds of millions of good Muslims; they're not all terrorists.

I understand the smears, and the damage they've caused. But there are better ways to handle them.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pandering, flip-flops, and everything in-between

So, Barack Obama opted out of public financing. Is it a flip-flop? Sure, but really, he'd be an idiot not to do this, given his fundraising skills. The idealist in my does not like it; the realist knows it makes sense.

James Joyner writes thoughtfully on Obama's inconsistencies. In short, he did indeed pander on NAFTA, which he's now, wisely, backing away from. On foreign affairs, though, flexibility and learning are GOOD traits, while trying to honor, if possible, basic principles. Obama, I think, can do this. I'm not convinced with McCain.

So, a good leader, then, doesn't just follow polls. But flexibility, even reversing yourself, is a must, as well.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert: 1950-2008

RIP to a TV news icon.

I was watching the US Open on NBC and was stunned as I watched Tom Brokaw announce it on air.

Stunned and saddened.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Teh Awesome- Racing Edition

Kubica Freaking Mania! As a descendent of Polish immigrants on my mother's side of the family, I am needless to say a big Kubica fan. This has been coming for awhile, but to see it happen was still great. He's got a ton of talent, and while he won't be WDC this year, his time is coming.

12-year-old Emma from Oklahoma created a stir on WindTunnel. While I don't hate NASCAR, I still smiled reading about it. Fact is, many NASCAR races are too damn long (seriously, the world won't miss 100 miles at Pocono. Make 'em 400 milers).

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Whom To Blame?

From last night:

Video link.

I think both are to blame, to varying degrees. While I don't BELIEVE RHR had to go to the apron, Marco deserves most of the blame for coming down as hard as he did on the backstretch.

SPEED's race rap. Tough, but not unexpected, night for the CC guys.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Thanks Marc Ambinder!

For scaring the crap out of me. IFFFF Obama wins Ohio, it's likely a moot point, but a 2000 multiplied, with Obama CLEARLY (at least 1-1.5 mil, though, under this scenario, perhaps 3-4 mil) winning the PV but McCain getting the Presidency is... frightening. I know you'd see activism. Beyond that...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Difference

From Tuesday:

Obama-


McCain-

Obama and Trinity

As we all know, Barack Obama's membership in Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago and his relationship with Jeremiah Wright has been a significant issue in this campaign.

Why, many ask, would the Senator join a church that, even when the pastor doesn't carry on about "G-D America" and the like still has "black nationalist" leaning.

Writing, online, for the WSJ, Steve Waldman gives a very insightful piece.


In that sense, neither Obama-the-candidate nor his critics have fully articulated the real reason Sen. Obama stayed with the church as long as he did. It was not because he’s a secret Black Panther (he’s not), and if anything he gravitated to Trinity because of his own fears that he was too white. It’s also not because he was shocked – shocked! – to learn of the church’s radicalism (he wasn’t). It’s that Sen. Obama treasures unity above other values, and marveled at Trinity’s capacity to tie together disparate, often hostile groups into a single community.

What has changed is that Sen. Obama is now focused on a different, larger community. Whereas Mr. Wright was a unifying figure in one community, he and Trinity Church are powerfully divisive in the much larger community.

Sen. Obama’s racial journey – landing him as it did in Trinity Church — has surely caused him problems politically this year and will in the general election. But at the end of the day, Sen. Obama’s multiracial family is at the heart of his continual emphasis on unity – and his formidable skill as a politician

Read the whole thing. I'll simply say that Obama's complex racial journey is, in the end, quite moving, but, perhaps too complex for some voters to understand.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

So many thoughts

One day after the inevitable happened, there still is a lot to chew on. One, OK, I DID watch Obama last night, and echo Sullivan's thoughts. Win or lose come November, I know I made the right decision, oh, 18 months ago to support Sen. Obama.

Clinton refusing to concede isn't just typical. Its also remarkably comical. The jig is up, Senator. Time to admit that.

Finally, one of the more astonishing aspects of Obama's speech was the lack of reference to the historical nature of what this means. Obama just doesn't think along those lines. But, others have (and should). 150 years ago, Americans with Obama's skin color would have been held in bondage. Fifty years ago, Jim Crow ruled the South.

Now, history has been made, and the future awaits.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Because Others Are Smarter than I Am

I'll let them speak for me.

Sully:


Since I was among those who raised the option of an Obama-Clinton ticket, and aired the debate for a while, I should say that I hope at this point that Obama has the strength to turn her down - gently. He should bring in former rivals into his cabinet and should offer Clinton a cabinet post, on the Lincoln model. But to have endured the kind of campaign the Clintons ran and concede to her wishes now would be an act of weakness that the Clintons would exploit were he to become president.

Obama needs to regain the momentum and clarity of his early insurrection. He would not do that by adding Clinton to his ticket.

Yes, right on.

I'll simply add that I will NOT be watching the victory speech tonight, given the praise, while politically necessary, of Sen. Clinton we'll hear tonight.

Goodbye to all That

And say Hello to your Democratic nominee: Barack Obama. Say hello to the future, whatever it may hold.*

*Unless crap like this actually isn't crap.

Milwaukee Redux

It was a day of redemption for Ryan Briscoe at The Milwaukee Mile, in front of a larger crowd than recent years.

Understand, it isn't just his coming-together with Danica Patrick at Indy that has given him a reputation for poor driving. In truth, since coming to IndyCars in '05, Briscoe had earned a reputation for being quick, with an uncanny knack of crashing.

On Sunday, Briscoe showed solid speed (he started 11th) and poise. In so doing, he put to rest, for now, all of the speculation on his future. Make no mistake, it was a deserving win.

It was also pretty entertaining. 26 cars at The Mile just felt right, and while some say there wasn't enough action for the lead, the battles for every other position throughout the field was great to watch. Also encouraging were the solid runs from Champ Car "transition" drivers Oriol Servia, Justin Wilson, and EJ Viso, finishing 6th, 7th, and 8th respectively.

Graham Rahal crashed out for the second week in a row, and whined about it in the process. Still, he's 19 and has shown himself to be quick.

Texas coming up this Saturday.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Milwaukee TV ratings

Actually slipped a bit. Even though it was a decent-good race, with a nice front row, no one still cares. I'll go big picture on this... tomorrow ;). I'll also go in-depth on the race.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fire Ryan Briscoe!!!!

Uh, OOOOOOOOOOOPS!

So, how do you deal with internet calls for your job? Do what Ryan Briscoe did: Win.

I'll say more tomorrow, but it was a compettitive, compelling race, with a good crowd.

The Difference

On ESPN, and in NASCAR generally, young phenom Joey Logano is being celebrated. Fomer American F1 driver Scott Speed won his first NASCAR Truck race on Friday.

Meanwhile, Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal qualify 1-2 in Milwaukee and :crickets: on SportsCenter. NASCAR has captured the public's imagination. Can IndyCar ever make a dent?

Batshit Crazy

How else to describe the Clintons and their supporters?

From the TNR piece:

Of the eight Hillary supporters I quiz at the protest (six of them women), only one says she'd even consider voting for Obama in the fall. "It's sad. I'm a lifelong Democrat and the party's been taken over by these Obama people who say they want 'change,'" gripes Linda of Horseheads, New York, outside the Marriott as a honking car decorated with a painting of Hillary, a glued-on bust of Cleopatra, and a tampon drives by. Linda, she says, has already gone to the state Board of Elections to learn how to write Hillary's name in in November. "So much has been stolen from her."


Hey Linda, you're damn right we're taking over! We want no more of these corrupt sociopaths.

If y'all (Hillary fanatics) give us Pres. McCain, so be it. Don't look at us Obama folks when we go into Iran in a McCain Administration.

Milwaukee starting grid

In PDF. Andretti-Rahal front row. Back to the future, minus the fans, ratings and interest.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Why Milwaukee is NOT Indianapolis (and why it could prove more important)

Clearly, we're not in Indy anymore. I'll try to post full T&S reports later, but suffice to say, the slower speeds and relative lack of importance of aerodynamics at Milwaukee will make this a more compettitive, more compelling race. Rahal & Power topping the charts shows this.

If so, it could be more important for the sport than Indy. IndyCar needs a full, compettitive field. It needs new stars to emerge finally and take up the mantle for this sport. Rahal running up front can only be good for the sport. Throw in Marco, Aussie Will Power, and even Ryan Hunter-Reay, and you begin to see battle lines bring drawn for an entire generation. The sport needs this badly.

Update: First Practice results (PDF).

Modern-day Tribune of the Plebs

Geraldine Ferraro.

Wiki says:


[edit] Business career
Ferraro became a Principal in the government relations practice of Blank Rome law firm on February 1, 2007.[6] Prior to this she was head of the public affairs practice of The Global Consulting Group, an international investor relations and corporate communications firm, where she continues as a Senior Advisor. She is a Board member of Goodrich Petroleum, the National Democratic Institute of International Affairs, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Ferraro had earlier served as president of G&L Strategies, a management consulting firm, and has been connected with many public and private sector organizations, including serving as a director of the former New York Bancorp, Inc., a NYSE-listed company.[17][18]


Clearly then, esp. given her '84 ticket's rousing success vs. Reagan-Bush (49 states to Reagan, one to Mondale), she is TOTALLY in touch with "Reagan Democrats."

Full stupidity here. Yes, I, too, would decry the rampant "reverse racism" of the Obama campaign, if, you know, that had really happened. As we all know, Bill Clinton comparing Obama to Jesse Jackson was not race-baiting, but, uhhhhhhhhh, errrrr, the Obama campaign SHAMELESSLY pointing out the stupidity of Camp Clinton. Only SEXISTS would use the Clintons' incompetence against them!

Oh, it gets worse:


As for Reagan Democrats, how Clinton was treated is not their issue. They are more concerned with how they have been treated. Since March, when I was accused of being racist for a statement I made about the influence of blacks on Obama's historic campaign, people have been stopping me to express a common sentiment: If you're white you can't open your mouth without being accused of being racist. They see Obama's playing the race card throughout the campaign and no one calling him for it as frightening. They're not upset with Obama because he's black; they're upset because they don't expect to be treated fairly because they're white. It's not racism that is driving them, it's racial resentment. And that is enforced because they don't believe he understands them and their problems. That when he said in South Carolina after his victory "Our Time Has Come" they believe he is telling them that their time has passed.


That might be one of the dumbest and more offensive paragraphs I've ever read. "They don't expect to be treated fairly because they're white." Translation: THE BLACK GUY IS COMING, THE BLACK GUY IS COMING!!!!

Seriously, what actual evidence is there for this idiotic thesis? Obama has dark(er) skin, therefore BLACK POWER? What bull.

This paragraph is just stupid:

Whom he chooses for his vice president makes no difference to them. That he is pro-choice means little. Learning more about his bio doesn't do it. They don't identify with someone who has gone to Columbia and Harvard Law School and is married to a Princeton-Harvard Law graduate. His experience with an educated single mother and being raised by middle class grandparents is not something they can empathize with. They may lack a formal higher education, but they're not stupid. What they're waiting for is assurance that an Obama administration won't leave them behind.


Damn smart people! They're un-American! Really, what is she babbling about here?

Geraldine, please go away and leave our brain cells alone.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What's Old is New Again

Many, particularly on the Right, wonder about the origins of the progressive blogosphere.

First, a little story:

Imagine one political philosophy dominating the political landscape for 30+ yrs., so much so that members (Young Turks, perhaps) of the opposition party feel that their party has just become a watered-down version of the dominant party. Further imagine that these insurgent Young Turks set about on a long-term plan to reorient the political zeitgeist. They start organizing via the grassroots, think tanks and other methods.

By the end of the 30+ yrs., the once-dominant philosophy decays and self-destructs, ushering in an era dominated by these Young Turks, completely reorienting the politics of the nation.

1968 or 2008? Kos says both. In a sense, he's right on. Today's American Left is using the 21st Century version of Goldwater '64. As liberalism in '64 was beginning it's death march, modern conservatism, ascendant since '68, is in the same process today.

Just one thought: Given the direction the Right ended up going in (esp. by the '90's), do we really want to replicate that in totality?

Read this New Yorker article on the rise and current fall of the conservative movement. Righties blame everyone/everything but themselves, when the truth is, they've run out of intellectual steam.

OOPS!

About those increased Indy ratings, well, not so much:

Update: NASCAR did end up winning the ratings battle with the Indy 500. The Coca Cola 600 drew a 4.7 final rating (up 7% from the 4.4 overnight) while the Indy 500 finished with a 4.5 (down 12% from the 5.1 overnight).

So much for being an objective success. What the second article references is troubling. Middle, rural America might be permanently lost to NASCAR. Is it, in short, already too late? Or, less hysterically, doesn't it simply take TIME to rebuild. Patience is a much-needed virtue.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Final Word(s) on the Indy 500

So, was the race a success? It depends on a) your definition of a "successful race" and b) what you were expecting in advance. If you demanded that it meet the pre-split standards, then no, it was not. Of course, if that was your hope, then you're an IDIOT. Unification was NEVER going to fix things immediately, but is progress being made?

I think, despite a messy month and messy race, the answer is yes. There was just a bit more buzz coming into it, the crowd was indeed up, and, apparently, so were TV ratings (though not as much as some would have liked).

That Lars Anderson piece is a mixed bag, in terms of quality (Jeebus, ENOUGH on the 22nd place finisher*), but is an essentially positive, forward-looking piece. Furthermore, despite using the same, tired (IMHO) equipment next year, I think, unlike Robin Miller and others, the CC teams will be much more compettitive, an element that Anderson rightly fingers as critical. If so, look out.

I'd add something else: Flexibility in marketing. Yes, Danica, Marco, Graham, and Helio are obvious, but HELLO, you have a new Indy 500 winner, Scott Dixon. Use the "Iceman" moniker to an advantage.

Then there are other up-and-comers like, ahem, 500 Rookie of the Year RYAN HUNTER-REAY. Yes, I'll keep banging this drum until proven wrong. He has staying ability folks, deal with it. Maybe he'll be one more (winning) name for the sport to build on. Imagine that.

*Before concluding, how about the gall of Danica demanding, last year, the League do more to promote her. Hey Princess, Shut Up! You've now won ONE freaking race! Get over yourself.

So, the future is, while uncertain, full of possibilities. This time last year, there was no future. I'd say that's progress.

More Indy Remainders

Some additional thoughts:

You know, I like Dale Coyne. I really do. But his decision to keep Mario Moraes on track for the lap 140 restart could have killed someone.

Hideki Mutoh surprised me. He was steady and pretty quick, finishing 7th.

ABC is awful. Arute and Musberger need to go. And the booth guys shilling for Danica was pathetic.

Milwaukee on Sunday.

Monday, May 26, 2008

VP Hagel?

In response to his potential support for an Obama-Hagel ticket, several Andrew Sullivan readers react negatively.

I guess I'm in an unique spot here, seeing that I'm a pro-life Democrat. Hagel's views on abortion, then, DO NOT bother me. Furthermore, it would show great maturity on the part of the Democratic Party to accept Hagel as veep, even if he's not a liberal dogmatist.

Just no Hillary Clinton as Veep.

Rough-and-tumble 92nd Indy 500

It was a messy. at times, brutal race. None of the drivers ABC and the ICS would have wanted to win did, though Marco was in the fight certainly. In the end, hearty congrats to winner Scott Dixon. Now, the Great, Good, Bad, and Ugly of the 92nd 500.

The Great: Obviously, Scott Dixon. The cool, confident Kiwi was almost flawless all month and was an absolutely deserving winner. Leading 115 of the 200 laps proves this. He was the one to beat all month, but he made sure never to press too hard yesterday, a wise move on a chaotic day.

Since Danica didn't win (yes, yes, I'll get to that cluster), much of the press in the US will ignore Dixon. That's a shame b/c, although not full to the brim of charisma, he's a good guy, great racer, oh, and he's only 27. He'll be a major factor for yrs. to come.

With that said, here's some New Zealand coverage of Dixon's win. OK, I admit one reason for that link was simply to show a picture of Scott's GORGEOUS wife, Emma. Scotty, let me just say it doesn't suck to be you right now.

Another remarkable drive was that of the runner-up, Panther Racing's Vitor Meira. Meira made THE move of the race by narrowly carving his way through Dixon and Ed Carpenter on a late restart to take the lead. Make no mistake, this result was no accident. This one-car effort had all the speed of the Big Three.

The Good: Despite playing a role in Tony Kanaan's wreck (Kanaan could easily have won BTW), Marco Andretti was a very good 3rd. He had speed all day and on a day when the famed Brickyard did not yield much overtaking, Marco, along with Scheckter, Meira, and top rookie Ryan Hunter-Reay, managed to pass some folks.

Ed Carpenter is a lousy road racer, but he's become surprisingly competent on the ovals. His 5th place was a great run for the Vision Racing driver.

Ryan Hunter-Reay's 6th-place run is not surprising given the year he's had so far. It IS surprising given the fact that he totalled his primary car on Pole Day, a car that never came back to speed. The T-car had plenty of speed, and I think we're seeing the potential many saw before he got stuck with 2nd-rate operations in CART/Champ Car (American Spirit- Remember the "RYAN" & "JIMMY" cars?- and Rocketsports). Needless to say, this is a very good thing. BTW: An RHR win this Sunday in Milwaukee would not surprise me. He won there in Champ Car, and aero is much less of a factor.

The crowd, it must be said, was indeed better than last year. The turn 3 stands certainly had more folks in them compared to years past. But the infield crowd was noticeably larger and more energized. SPEED's Robin Miller said the traffic was notably worse than last year and the last few 500's. Again, this is a good thing. That said...

The Bad: The ABC shills (Brent Musberger is a special kind of awful in ANY venue) tried to convince us that "Indy is back!" Stop it, please! There were still empty seats, and the race won't get the attention it used to for years. We're not idiots. Yes, there was more energy this year, and yes, the crowd was bigger, but 1991 this wasn't.

Graham Rahal was not going to win the 500, but a top 10 might have been within reach. Too bad that Alex Lloyd, who drove for father Bobby, slowed suddenly in Turn 4. In response, Graham went high, too high it turned out, and crashed out on lap 37.

Justin Wilson completed the bad day for Newman/Haas/Lanigan with his wreck later in the race. Can the NHL boys get 2 cars ready for Milwaukee?

The Ugly: 69 of the 200 laps were run under the yellow. Although this was almost predictable, it was ugly nonetheless. The large rookie contingent made this a wreck-fest of sorts. But the TWO spins under yellow were embarassing for Sarah Fisher and Jeff Simmons, and added 7-10 laps of yellow themselves.

Danica v. Briscoe: Stick-and-baller Jay Mariotti writes on it here. Once again, Jason Whitlock is appallingly STUPID. No, this is NOT WWE or, frankly, NASCAR. I do NOT want this sport to rely on gimmicks on circus stunts to come back. Period.

To the incident itself, yes, Briscoe effed up, but that's not the first time a pit lane accident has happened. Danica's petulant, stomping reaction was beyond stupid, IMHO. It was classless and I, for one, am glad the Speedway saved her from herself. Grow up, Danica.

Alex Lloyd was as disappointing (and awful) as Meira was as a surprise. Beyond the lap 37 incident, he crashed coming out of 4 and almost had a spectacular follow-up as the car spun towards pit lane.

Remainders: Robin Miller's takes, many of which I agree with, except for Danica-gate and the return of sprint car drivers. Those days are over.

Good runs by KV racing and Darren Manning (in a Foytmobile!). I want to reiterate the strength of a young American who will be ignored b/c his last name is not Rahal, Andretti, or Patrick: Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Overall grade: B-. Too many wrecks and drivers who still don't belong, but some interesting moments too.

Finally, Emma Dixon is HOT. That is all.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The clarity of rain

I was hoping to be watching LIVE Carb Day festivities shown on ESPN2 at this point of the day (2:10 EDT), but as usual this month (and typical for the sport) RAIN once again blew up the entire day. This is the first time I can remember Carb Day being shown live and, of course, we only see rain (oh, and 15 minutes of meaningless practice). C'est la vie.

Still, assuming IMS doesn't reschedule for tomorrow (doubtful, in my view), it added even more clarity to Sunday's race. Given the rain that plagued race teams all month, ANY chance the Champ Car "transition" teams had to contend literally got washed away. While they had to be careful not to wreck (given no backups), they also needed time to learn the IRL Dallara chassis as much as possible. That did not happen, so (through no fault of their own- they're FIVE yrs. behind with these cars) they cannot possibly contend on Sunday. A top 8 or top 10 would be quite good, if not great, for these teams.

Beyond that ESPN's John Oreovicz pretty much sums the whole thing up. This is Ganassi's and Dixon's to lose. They've been great all yr., minus St. Pete, and dominated May. Dixon wants this, and he's clearly the class of the field.

That said, I'm not sure how Oreo justifies putting Kanaan in Group 2, but not AGR teammates Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick. Forget starting spots (they're all top 10, and its 500 miles), but the pace they've shown all month has been solid. In fact, ever since Pole Day, TK's been frustrated by race setup, while Danica and Marco have been happy with their machines.

Furthermore, while I understand his dismissiveness towards Briscoe, I think it's a mistake. For one, when you drive a Penske-prepared machine, you're ALWAYS a threat. Two, yes he wrecked the T-car over the weekend, but Sam Hornish Jr. did the same in '06. How'd that turn out, again?

In short, 7 cars strike me as top contenders (Dixon, Wheldon, Briscoe, Helio, Danica, TK, and Marco), with perhaps three more (Meira, Scheckter and... someone else who might emerge Sunday) plausible shots. That's it, really.

Could it be boring? Well, if its a Ganassi bitchslap, yes. But, remember, a lot can happen in 500 miles.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The inevitable "Is Indy back?" articles

Ahhhhh, it's Indy 500 week again (Yeah! BTW), and the media is doing what it has done since 1996: Speculate on when (if?) Indy will be back. This MSNBC article is a nice summary of what we see, with some differences (The Danica vid references how this comes up everytime this yr.). To be sure, mergification, Rahal's emergence, and Danica's win are important new stories that might move the sport forward, but this is not a new question.

It's odd. NASCAR is obviously the media giant in this country, and with good reason. Still, I have always sensed a desire in the national sporting media to see the Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar make a comeback. Some seem to root for it.

Is it nostalgia for a race long gone? NASCAR fatigue? Hard to say for sure, though NASCAR ratings have been UP all year, so the public sure isn't sick of it.

If I had to say, I DO think there is a sense of nostalgia involved and a desire, conscious or otherwise, to broaden the American motorsport landscape.

Regardless, the question is whether this time is different or not? Ultimately, that's a long-term answer. Sure, a win by Graham, Marco, or Danica would be huge, but what if DE Jr. wins Charlotte? No one will care about them 'furrin IndyCars. And perhaps the point of no return already happened.

Unlike some bitter CC loyalists (more on this later), I sure as hell hope not. I enjoy NASCAR, but I love IndyCar even more. For US motorsports to be permanently reduced to one acronym (NASCAR) would be tragic and an insult to the legends of the past.

That said, people should NOT root for someone ONLY b/c it might help the sport. I admit, sadly, that it is A factor, but, for example, I'm becoming a huge Rahal fan not only b/c his emergence could be vital, but also because I love his aggressiveness (combined with smarts) on track and a great maturity off-track. That's what the sport MUST be about again.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Memo to IRL/ICS loyalists

THIS (Helio maybe going to NASCAR) is no reason to freakout over Helio and big, bad NASCAR. Look, you're bitching about ESPN (The broadcast "partner") having the audacity to dare mention this during the week of the 500, but it is NOT their responsibility to hide news you don't like.

Fact: NASCAR has become THE form of motorsport in America.

Fact: The 12-year Open-wheel split had a good deal to do with this.

Fact: Though it will HOPEFULLY be the first step in the recovery, unification is no instant panacea.

Opinion: Blame no one but the powers that be for leading the sport to this point. Blaming ANYONE/ANYTHING ELSE is foolish. Just b/c you think the 500 beats anything else doesn't make it so.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

About those parts shortages

Readers (if you exist) may recall an earlier post on the shortage of parts for the Dallara, brought about by unification.

Today is a reminder of why this is problematic. Both Rubicon and esp. PCM are going to struggle now to make the show, and that's a shame.

In other Indy news, Will Power and EJ Viso recovered from hard wrecks yesterday to qualify (slower than they would have liked) today.

Decent runs so far by Rahal, Junquiera (!), and Wilson.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Quick thoughts

George Bush: Infuriating and not very bright. Barack Obama thanks you, sir.

Indy: Shocking! Red Cars dominant. Power's crash was devastating to any hopes the talented Aussie. This might be Dixon's month. More quals., hopefully, tomorrow.

GO CAVS!

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Future of American Conservatism

A nice David Brooks piece on the fortunes of the British Tories. Can lessons be learned?

I think Douthat is pretty spot on here, in that modern American conservatives are much more socially conservative (intolerant) than their Tory counterparts. Furthermore, the likes of Norquist and others would love to take the sledgehammer to modern government. Tories seek to decentralize gov't, not destroy it.

Can these elements of US conservatism be tempered into moderation? Well, McCain is trying. See this too:





Very Cameron-esque. But does the base constituency want to follow? Signs point to NO.

Sullivan and a reader suggest that the GOP is beginning the path of "detoxification" in terms of the zealots. For the sake of our country, I hope they are right, but two problems emerge, one short-term, one long-term.

Short-term, look, would John McCain be the GOP nominee without the jumbled race we had from Jan. until March 3? Doubtful. McCain's important victories (NH, SC, and FL) were won with, oh, 35% of the vote. Had there been one clear Movement Conservative candidate v. McCain, the AZ Sen. would have been routed. In short, they STILL don't like them.

Longer term, even if Sully's right, then what? Having experienced high political involvement since the '70's, are the socons just going to abandon the system, or just be quiet? Even if they think the country has fallen to Satan? Doubtful. So, what do they do?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Obama's journey

It's easy to forget now, but really, Barack Obama should NOT even be here. In so doing, he will vanquish the Clintons.

Though I hope he doesn't dwell on Keating Five too much.

Gee, Never Saw That Coming!

Err, well, Pole Day actually went as predicted.

Congrats to TCGR & Scott Dixon for the pole run. Obviously, they were already favored by some (ahem), and this won't change that. Other thoughts:

Biggest surprise- Pole speed was only 226.3. Perhaps a nicer week, with less wind today would have made a difference, but as it is, I still thought a 227. Didn't happen.'

Second surprise: Given their recent performance, I'd say the run for Vitor Meira and Panther Racing was a pleasant surprise.

Dumbest gamble: Why in the world did Luczo Dragon run Scheckter again? Rahal's chances were slim to overtake him, but he ran again anyhow... losing speed. Yes, he still got in, but...

Biggest unforced error: Newman/Haas/Lanigan (NHL) might be new to the ICS, but they are an ELITE team in all of American open-wheel racing. Forgetting, in the mad dash created by Luczo Dragon's stupidity, to put new tires on Graham's car to give him one more shot was not their finest moment. Not that it would likely have mattered b/c, while I admired the kid's confidence, I doubt that car had 223.4 for 4 laps in it. But he wasn't too far off, either.

As expected the CC teams were shutout, with Rahal getting oh so close to pulling off the miracle. They're just too far behind in horsepower (a good 4-5 mph top end). Worse yet, tomorrow looks HORRIBLE weather wise, so they won't even get in until next weekend likely.

The next great Mideast conflagration

is, again, Lebanon.

The Cedar Revolution is but a distant memory.

I remember that many of us who thought the Olmert Government in Israel made a grave mistake by the scale of their '06 invasion were considered naive peaceniks or even anti-Israel.

As predicted, it only made Hezbollah stronger, a fact that puts Israel in a perilous spot.

Friday, May 9, 2008

PT's final shot?

With Penske? Well, sort of, but the irony of RP helping PT is, ummm, delicious.

Put it this way, the two didn't exactly end on great terms.

Reminder: This Is Still Open-Wheel Racing.

What, you were expecting a smooth operation? Well, think again!


All the two-car transition teams have four tubs and the one-car efforts are supposed to have a pair of Dallaras. The catch is having enough parts to assemble all your cars.


Pfft. Details, minor details!

As for why this is, in fact, a problem, this via T&S:

Yellow for contact near pit exit by #96 Mario Dominguez. He spun coming out of the pits.


Ooops. Then again, despite having some ability, that's not the most surprising incident ever.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Hillary Goes Back to Her Roots

Her Goldwater Girl* roots, that is. Look, the Clintons have no shame. Their oligarchy/dynasty is on the line, and ruling families don't abdicate unless they are forced to.

If that means she must go from Wellesley grad to Annie Oakley in one campaign, so be it. The Clintons, contrary to what was once the narrative, were never all about "radical leftism." No, they have one "ideology" only: Clintonism, whatever it takes for their own betterment. That, ultimately, is why their legacy will be one of irrelevance.

*This is very unfair... to Barry Goldwater. It was actually Nixon who exploited the "Southern Strategy." Yes, Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act, but he did so for very Federalist reasons. Nixon exploited race. It's just that Hillary started as a Goldwaterite.

When It Rains, It Pours

That must be the sentiment of all IndyCar teams, esp. those coming from Champ Car, in Indianapolis. Wednesday's practice was rained out, and today's certainly will as well. Valuable practice time is being lost, which will really hamper the new (er) teams that need all the track time they can get. Tomorrow, Fast Friday, might be good enough, weather wise, to run. If so, expect a busy track, as teams will want as many laps as they can. Pole Day is Saturday.

Meanwhile, Ridebuyer has some tips for waiting out the rain. I have one more: Watch silly political parodies of movies!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The End

In his unique way, John Cole says it: It's over. Somebody tell the Clintons before they embarrass themselves even more.

After all, if Drudge says it...