WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE WASHINGTON ARROWS?

Peter King, the most eminent NFL writer in America, has let it be known that he will no longer use the nickname of Washington’s football team in his column. (I swore off some time ago.) He says he has no desire to insult people gratuitously. Team owner Daniel Snyder is adamantly against change. “We’ll never change the name,” he has said. “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.” Is it just me, or does that phrasing remind you of George Wallace saying “ I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever”?

Today Commissioner Roger Goodell began the process of throwing Snyder under the bus. Back in June, Goodell wrote a letter to Congress defending the Redskins team nickname, calling it “a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.” On Tuesday, he put some space between him and Chief Snyder. “If one person’s offended, we have to listen,” Goodell said, via the DC Sports Bog. “And ultimately, it is Dan [Snyder]’s decision. But it is something that I want all of us to go out and make sure we’re listening to our fans, listening to people who have a different view, and making sure that we continue to do what’s right to make sure that team represents the strong tradition that it has for so many years.”

Makes you think of that old joke whose punch line is “Who you calling kemosabe, Paleface?”

Why not just rename the team the Washington Arrows? It’s the best of both worlds–a connection to the Washington football tradition that is itself ethnically neautral.

And no one is offended.

GOP BRAIN DRAIN: IGNORANT AND PROUD OF IT

The other day Paul Krugman talked about the sad and diminishing state of Republican brain power:

“How many Republicans know, for example, that government employment has declined, not risen, under President Obama? Certainly Senator Rand Paul was incredulous when I pointed this out to him on TV last fall. On the contrary, he insisted, “the size of growth of government is enormous under President Obama” — which was completely untrue but was presumably what his sources had told him, knowing that it was what he wanted to hear. For that, surely, is what the wonk gap is all about. Political conservatism and serious policy analysis can coexist, and there was a time when they did. Back in the 1980s, after all, health experts at Heritage made a good-faith effort to devise a plan for universal health coverage — and what they came up with was the system now known as Obamacare. But that was then. Modern conservatism has become a sort of cult, very much given to conspiracy theorizing when confronted with inconvenient facts. Liberal policies were supposed to cause hyperinflation, so low measured inflation must reflect statistical fraud; the threat of climate change implies the need for public action, so global warming must be a gigantic scientific hoax. Oh, and Mitt Romney would have won if only he had been a real conservative. It’s all kind of funny, in a way. Unfortunately, however, this runaway cult controls the House, which gives it immense destructive power — the power, for example, to wreak havoc on the economy by refusing to raise the debt ceiling. And it’s disturbing to realize that this power rests in the hands of men who, thanks to the wonk gap, quite literally have no idea what they’re doing.”

Unfortunately, I see nothing that will change their advantage. The redistricting that protects the GOP advantage, that is the bedrock of the GOP advantage, will be in effect for the rest of the decade, through the election of 2020. I don’t think President Obama will achieve anything in the rest of his term, and I’m not really optimistic that President Hillary can conquer this wall. This is going to take hard-fought trench warfare, getting Democrats elected to state legislatures in red states, along with all the money that is going to cost, to stop this ignorant minority from clogging our political process or our future. It’s a grass roots war, and the Democrats need to start waging it today.

THE PRIMARIES

aaweinerIn Tuesday’s very interesting New York City primaries, Bill De Blasio, a low key guy with the nearly invisible job of public advocate, came very close to winning the forty percent of the vote he needed to avoid a run-off, and be named as the Democratic mayoral nomination. De Blasio ran hard from the left directly at the Bloomberg administration, and his election stands as a rejection of Bloombergism, or perhaps an embrace of New Face-sim. If he wins, he will be the first lefty to win since David Dinkins, whose performance was poor enough to get Rudy Giuliani elected. I’m very skeptical that New York City should be in the higher taxes, lots more services game. I do remember what New York was like in the seventies, when it was poor and dirty and dangerous. I support reigning in the banks–I just don’t support New York City reigning in the banks. Some hypocritical self-preservation is sometimes necessary.

Meanwhile, New York’s Katzenjammer Kids, Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer, both lost.leathers11n-4-web Weiner was drubbed, Spitzer was defeated narrowly, 52% to 48%, but I’m kind of afraid that it’s over for both of them. It’s a shame about Spitzer, who has strong political instincts and a real appreciation of how Wall Street works, i.e., steals. I have no real insight into his thought process, but his entry into the race was a surprise; my guess is that when he saw the favorable early impression the similarly scandal-infected Weiner received, he thought that he, too, could overpower the little-known Scott Stringer and get back in the game. The plan kind of worked, until new revelations about Weiner came out. Carlos Danger and Sydney Leathers were not only too much for Weiner to survive; they were also too much for Spitzer.

And so exits Weiner, flashing the finger, with Lawrence O’Donnell catcalling “What’s wrong with you as he exits?”, with Huma Abedin absent and Sydney Leathers and her cleavage trying to crash his wound-licking party. Weiner should host and AM radio show.

What a great election.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, YOUR 1963 BALTIMORE ORIOLES!

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Fifty years ago, on September 8, 1963, the Baltimore Orioles held a Fan Camera Day promotion. Prior to the game, fans were allowed to come down to the infield railing. Players would come out, like horses passing in a paddock, and fans would be allowed to take photos. My Dad, not really a camera buff, nonetheless jumped at the chance, and here are the results. Above, John `Boog” Powell, the team’s young slugging star. Below: Hall of Famers Luis Aparicio, right in his prime, and Robin Roberts, getting by on guile. Powell, supposedly so big, would seem small next to Big Papi and other sluggers. (How did Dad miss Brooks Robinson, the team’s star?)
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Above, reliable relive Dick Hall, who once retired 27 batters without yielding a hit, prompting one sportswriter to campaign for crediting Hall with a no-hitter; and hard-charging outfielder Russ Snyder, both of whom made big contributions to the 1966 team that won the World Series; below, utility iielder Bob Saverine, who once set a league record by making 12 outs in a doubleheader; and outfielder Sam Bowens, or Fred Valentine, or most likely Al Smith, because his nickname was–no kidding–“Fuzzy.”
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Below, manager Billy Hitchcock, who guided the team to an 86-76 record, good enough for fourth place in the American League 18.5 games behind the Yankees. Hitchcock was replaced by Hank Bauer, who eventually led the O’s to a World Championship in 1966. At right, some linguine-armed right-hander whose name has been lost to history.
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MISSED IT BY THAT MUCH

100_0921On Thursday night, we were one small strike away from having viewed a future Yankees Classic. A Magical Mystery Tour of a six-run seventh brought the Yankees all the way back from a dispiriting 7-2 deficit to the loathsome Red Sox, and suddenly we were up 8-7 with Robertson ready to pitch the eighth and Rivera to pitch the ninth, and thus redeem himself from blowing photo-28the save in July that Molly had brought me to. Well, just as Ichico, Wells, Granderson, Gardner, Jeter and Overbay had done, Robertson got the Sox out in the eighth. When Mo retired the first two outs in the ninth, one of whom was the fierce David Ortiz, we began to yelp and cheer, but then the Sox had a single, a stolen base, an error, and a broken bat single, and suddenly the Great Rivera had blown another save, and the roaring ninth inning stadium–the experience for which I had paid my money–fell into embarrassed silence. Nothing to say, other than it was an exciting game. But who wants to see an exciting game? I wanted to see a win! I wanted to exit Yankee Stadium with a victorious spring in my step, singing `New York, New York.’ Oh well, another day. It was great to hang with my old Spy buddy George Kalogerakis, though. (Pictures: Top, Rivera, backed by Rodriquez and Jeter, delivers; Middle, me and George; Bottom, Rivera pitches to Big Papi.)
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YANKS DISAPPOINT

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100_0902100_0904Ginny and I spent a humid day ay Yankee Stadium watching the Yanks patiently scrimp together a 3-0 lead, which they prodigally squandered by allowing the Orioles a seven-run seventh. If they miss the playoffs by one game, this will be one of the ones they will point to. I believe this is the first baseball game that Ginny and I have attended alone since the 1980s. (Top to bottom: Robinson Cano; Alfonso Soriano; Alex Rodriguez; Andy Pettitte; and Derek Jeter.)

AUGUST RAMBLE

a1150327_10201929326537646_1547681345_nDave Jensen and I went to the Midnight Ramble on Saturday, and we had a great time. It was a slightly different show, at least for us. The opening act was Steve Forbert, who was amiable and emotive and entertaining. Then the Midnight Ramble Band came on and did maybe 8 or 10 songs–“This Wheel’s On Fire,” “The Shape I’m In,” “Atlantic City,” “Good news,” “Tango of Love,” “Mystery Train,” “Dirt Farmer,” “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning” (Teresa Williams!) maybe a couple more, crowd-pleasers every one. They were then joined by Stax recording legend William Bell, a smooth soul crooner of the old school, who did about a dozen numbers, possibly best known of which was “You Don’t Miss You’re Water,” and “Born Under a Bad Sign,” which was very exciting as he gave each band ember about 30 seconds to solo. Electrifying!