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.


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.