March 24, 2006

I wouldn't mind being Jewish. I wouldn't mind. Really.

--Kobe Bryant The article goes on to note that while there are 24 Jewish players in the NFL, and 18 in Major League baseball, there are none in the NBA, which, when considering the make-up of the sport before WWII, is ironic. [link via Deadspin]

March 23, 2006

Kevin Drum has a good post on the trivial nature of blogger obsessions...or not trivial, as the case might be. Plagiarism might not have been part of the original indictment against Mr. Domenech, but this speaks to an utter lack of due diligence by the Post. They gonzaga'd this one. [updated on 3/24].
Star Princess: Back in '02, I had the pleasure of sailing on the cruise ship in the news today. Large cruise ships, as I wrote then, do not provide the same enjoyable experience as their more homey brethren.

The Princess line has about five comparable ships to the Star, with three dining halls, two smaller restaurants, a 24-hour buffet, a casino, about a half-dozen boutiques, a disco situated at the top of the ship, and bars everywhere, and can accomodate about three thousand people per cruise. There's an orientation before the ship "sets sail" where you're supposed to learn what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency, but it generally receives the same sort of attention from passengers as the obligatory recital from airline attendants of what you're supposed to do in the event of a drop in cabin pressure. Today's story will inevitably focus on the death of one of the passengers, of a heart attack, but someone dying on a cruise ship is actually not uncommon, largely due to the advanced age of many cruisers.

March 21, 2006

About half the members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate voted for cloture concerning the nomination of Samuel Alito, including six (by my count) Senators from Blue States. Three of those Senators are facing tough primary battles, including Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, who actually has to run against a Democratic Congressman.

So why is Lieberman the only one who gets attacked? Just asking....

March 20, 2006

Is George Bush the worst President ever, or merely a run-of-the-mill bad President? I'm in the former's hard to put anything in the "plus column" with Shrub. His popularity is at historic lows, and that's without any of the normal factors, such as high unemployment, runaway inflation and/or a prolonged string of criminal indictments, that normally cause that particular phenomenum.

His competition for that title centers on the men who held the office before the Civil War, most notably James Buchanan and Franklin Pierce, but also including pretty much everyone who held the office, besides Lincoln, between Andrew Jackson and Chester Arthur. Pierce and Buchanan(who, incidentally, may have been the best-qualified man ever to hold the position) were Northern Democrats who pretty much fronted for the slavocracy, and did nothing to stop the South's drift towards intransigence on the slavery issue. Buchanan, in particular, endorsed the Dred Scott decision, tried to admit Kansas into the Union as a slave state, and attempted to run Stephen Douglas out of the party for his apostacy on that issue. Although, truth be told, the final outcome of the Civil War led to some very good results, it was a damn close thing that the country wasn't forever destroyed by his incompetence.

However, Pierce and Buchanan were leading a country that was, at the time, a militarily insignificant backwater. The position they held was not as powerful as it would become, and their ineptitude only affected a few million people. The whole notion of a national economy, that a decision made in Washington could impact farm prices in Minnesota, was still a generation away. Congress was still the dominant branch of government (the opposition party, the Whigs, even believed that a President could not veto an act of Congress unless he found it to be unconstitutional), so much of the blame for what resulted in the 1860's has to lie there. The notion that we could maintain a large peacetime army was one that most of the country, abolitionist and slaveholder alike, would have blanched at in the 1850's, and a national law enforcement entity, something that could have been used to arrest and prosecute seccessionist traitors, was not on the table.

Bush, on the other hand, is not merely the President; he's the World's Most Powerful Man. His decisions affect billions of people, in the most remote areas of the planet. Today, the Presidency is the supreme branch, and where, as here, the same party controls both branches, it is the Congress that is the rubber stamp. He inherited a strong economy, low unemployment, a budget surplus, and a nation that was at peace with other nations. And unlike his two immediate predecessors, he was given an opportunity that gave him almost universal backing from his own people less that eight months into his Presidency, as well as support from nations, both friendly and hostile.

It is safe to say that six years into this Administration, Bush has thrown all of that away. It's not just the fact that so much of what he touches has turned to shit in front of our eyes, it's that much of what he's done badly isn't even on the radar screen yet, so no one's paying attention, at least until the day another Katrina hits, and we have to stare dumbly at our TV sets and mutter, who are these morons? Will it be the economy tanking in 2007, because of high credit card debt, or the collapse of the Housing Bubble? Or will it be the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan? Maybe the foreign countries that have been financing our deficits will decide there are better investments elsewhere? With this President, most likely it will be all that, and much more besides....