Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"Delay Ball!"

It's official: Senator Barack Obama's Wednesday night address to America will lead-in on FOX to the re-start of Game 5 of The World Series between Tampa Bay and Philadelphia.

Major League
Commissioner Bud Selig postponed tonight's scheduled finish of rain-delayed Game 5 on account of dismal weather in Philly, setting up one final convergence of politics and sport before Election Day. It's a matchup Team Obama has played since the early days of his campaign. And right now the opportunity to reach out to voters in Florida and Pennsylvania can't be overstated.

Update: FOX has denied pushing back to 8:30 P.M. EST the re-start of Game 5, claiming they're only dispensing with the pregame show. This in response to what has become a talking point from the McCain campaign: "No one will delay the World Series game with an infomercial when I'm president." Of course, the real news here is that FOX rebutted a Republican talking point.

Because Barack Obama Really Needed A Lucky Break

I've talked before about how sports have aided Barack Obama in his quest for the White House. Well, the Senator and sports lovers were reacquainted recently, this time courtesy of Obama's multi-million-dollar major network ad buy to offer one final sales pitch to the American people.

A thirty-minute Obamathon scheduled for 8:00 P.M. EST this coming Wednesday, October 29, 2008 will be broadcast on CBS and NBC, amusingly not on ABC, and will also, it's worth noting, appear on FOX. Why the spotlight on Murdoch's gang? For once it's not their political leanings, but their previously scheduled programming: Game 6 of The World Series.

That's right, FOX agreed to bump the start of Game 6 of The World Series by 15 minutes so Sen. Obama (D-IL) can address America (talk about seeing the writing on the wall!). Really, it's a win-win all around. Obama gets to moonlight in the gradeur of basesball's biggest stage, and FOX gets to pump up its less-than-awesome audience for a series that features Tampa Bay and Philly. Of course, this all assumes there even is a Game 6.

The audacity of a rain delay in Philly.

Going into tonight, Philly led the best-of-seven series 3-1, which meant a win at home and it'd be champagne and cheesesteaks for the Phillies. But you can do the math: winning the series four games to one means... only five games. No Game 6, no fun newscasts, no special anything, just a regular old landmark speech. Laaaaaame.

And, so, with rain falling hard well into the sixth inning and the Phillies up 2-1, the game was ready to be stopped, the tarp rolled out, and the curtains drawn on hopes of a Tampa Bay win, a Game 6, and a media circus at Tropicana Field. Then, fittingly, there was hope!

B.J. Upton singled with two outs! Through the driving rain, Upton took off and stole second. Come on, Rays! Then, Carlos Pena looped a single into the outfield, Upton rounded third, and crossed home. The game was tied! After the inning was over, the rain delay was called with three innings yet to be played. Game 5 lives on! The World Series lives on! Hope, for the Rays, for America, lives on!

It's all scheduled to resume tonight, weather permitting. But the weather, uh, looks not so permitting:

I guess it's not always sunny in Philadelphia.

Well, if not tonight, then Wednesday, 8:00 P.M. EST. World Series to follow.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Whaassup? Change, That's Whaassup.

HuffPost reports on a timely little trip down memory lane:

Friday, October 24, 2008

Secretary of the Dinner Table

Michael Pollan, author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food," a few weeks ago called for nationwide 'food reform' in an open letter to the NY Times, "Farmer in Chief."

Today, Pollan again called on the presidential candidates to address this issue:

“Some of the issues they have talked about — energy independence, climate change and the health care crisis — I think they will find, as soon as they get into office, that you can’t deal with any of those three problems without dealing with the food system.”

It's an obvious point to anyone who has read "Omnivore's Dillema," but one that only squirms into the national spotlight when some bacteria or the other squirms its way into our industrial food chain. Then, a fuss is raised, the contaminated food is found, and the media goes home; but the inherent problems in our food supply go unsolved, problems, as Pollan points out, that go way beyond a vulnerability to rogue bacteria.

So, Mr. President, let's talk about food.

Never Have I Been So Happy to See George W. Bush in The Oval Office

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Third Term Turmoil

Update: It's official: term limits on NYC public officials have been extended from two terms to three. City Room has the details.

I'd like to take a break, just for a moment, from national politics.

Over at the NY Times, City Room is reporting that, "The City Council’s Committee on Governmental Operations voted unanimously on Thursday morning to extend term limits for New York City’s elected officials." This would be a big step forward for Mayor Bloomberg's aspirations of running for a third term.

There's lots of righteous indignation popping up in the comments below the article, which baffles me for a few reasons:

Mayor Bloomberg is wildly popular. Even after announcing his desire to run for a controversal third term, his approval rating remains at 69%, not far from his previously recorded 71% approval rating, which was noted by Quinnipiac University in July.

Now, I'm sure some of you are thinking: Mike, you moron, mayoral approval ratings are not the same thing as wanting to extend term limits. Well, that's a fair point, which is why I linked to that Quinnipiac poll. It notes a not-so-insignificant 56% of New Yorkers are against extending term limits. Why? I suspect they're confused. I will explain.

There are two refrains I keep hearing from people:

First, that getting rid of term limits makes "a shambles of democracy." But no one is proposing getting rid of term limits, just extending them. Yes, the President of the United States is restricted to serving only two terms. But Senators and House Representatives in Congress are not. Of course, the Mayor of New York City is neither of those things, so, how about we decide for ourselves?

Which brings me to the second oft-invoked refrain: the voters of this city have already voted against extending term limits. This is true, the voters did do this... over a decade ago! In 1993 and 1996, to be exact.

So, let's take another look at that Quinnipiac poll. Scroll all the way down to the bottom, where respondants graded the performance of NYC's recent mayors. Mayor Bloomberg has by far the best A and B ratings:

73% rated Mayor Bloomberg A or B
52% rated Mayor Giuliani A or B
52% rated Mayor Koch A or B
30% rated Mayor Dinkens A or B

But I'm not listing these other mayors because it makes Bloomberg look good. What's impressive is how poorly these other mayors were viewed, in particular Mayor David Dinkens, who, by the way, got a D or F from 31% of respondants, and who, by the way, was the Mayor of New York City when voters took up the issue of term limits in 1993.

As for 1996, that was Mayor Giuliani, who wasn't yet out of his first term, and who got a D or F from 25% of respondants. Only 10% gave Bloomberg either failing grade.

My point? There are certainly arguments to be made for or against term limits, but "the voters have spoken" is not one of them. Like it or not, voting on term limits is by and large nothing more than a reflection of the public's approval of a sitting mayor. The failure of voters to extend term limits needs to be seen through this lens, as nothing less than a repudiation of Mayor Dinkens and as uncertain, at best, of Mayor Giuliani.

Should the public get to vote on term limits again? Of course, and it will. It should (and will) also have the choice to vote for Mayor Bloomberg, by far the most effective and well-regarded mayor in New York's recent history.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tales from the Beltway

Just finished up working on Beltway Unbuckled: Sex, Power, and, let's say, American History, something like that. The title will probably change, or it won't. Find it on History this coming February, a collection of overlooked and mostly untold stories from the bedrooms of D.C.'s past.

In the meantime, it's been hard not to be consumed by the all-out political war being waged. That's not to say I'm camped out in front of my cable box all day, but my internet attentions are elsewhere: polls, maps, op-eds, op-eds, more op-eds...

It's easy to get distracted.

I have, however, managed to keep up with my muffin inspiration. It's what gets me up in the morning. This week: Zucchini Bread Muffins. I can't believe I never thought of this before! These were made sans nuts or seeds, per allergen requirements of the school at which Mint is (and would like to remain) employed, and while this nut-less insistence goes against my better judgment, I've no vendetta against three-year-old I don't know, so I fell in line. Next up? Probably Pumpkin Muffins. Tis the season and all.