May 18, 2006

A good primer on the Senate race in Hawaii, which will be likely settled by the Democratic Primary in late-September. The octogenarian incumbent, Daniel Akaka, has a liberal voting record (although he did support cloture in the Alito debate), but otherwise has been an undistinguished backbencher, and is being challenged by Representative Ed Case, who is running to the right of the incumbent, particularly regarding the Iraq War. Hawaii has a Republican governor who's a near-lock to win reelection, so she would appoint a successor should Akaka die in office. Unlike the more-widely publicized primary in Connecticut, this one's close....

May 17, 2006

The Da Vinci Code: A critic raves:

Through it all Mr. Hanks and Ms. Tautou stand around looking puzzled, leaving their reservoirs of charm scrupulously untapped. Mr. Hanks twists his mouth in what appears to be an expression of professorial skepticism and otherwise coasts on his easy, subdued geniality. Ms. Tautou, determined to ensure that her name will never again come up in an Internet search for the word "gamine," affects a look of worried fatigue.

In spite of some talk (a good deal less than in the book) about the divine feminine, chalices and blades, and the spiritual power of sexual connection, not even a glimmer of eroticism flickers between the two stars. Perhaps it's just as well. When a cryptographer and a symbologist get together, it usually ends in tears.

--A.O. Scott, N.Y. Times.
Over at Slate, David Plotz is bloggin' the Bible. On the Great Flood, he posts:
God announces His first covenant with man, that He will never again destroy the earth with a flood. He doesn't rule out other catastrophes. (God, apparently, is the opposite of an insurance company. He offers flood protection, but no other coverage.)
And who knew the destruction of Sodom and Gomorroh had such an interesting after-story !!
Blair for Lieberman: Harold Meyerson has a "modest proposal" on how to deal with the problem of "Transatlantic Insufferable Moralists With Blood On Their Handsblood on Their Hands".

May 15, 2006

It's five months too late, but NCAA officialdom is finally admitting that it botched two critical calls in the Rose Bowl that led to Texas winning the national championship (subscription required). The first play was the by-now-infamous Reggie Bush over-the-shoulder "lateral", which should have ruled a dead-ball illegal forward pass, and the other was a lateral thrown by Vince Young for a touchdown after his knee was down. In both cases, the instant replay booth failed to alert the refs on the field that it was reviewing the plays. The championships for both college and pro football this year featured some of the worst officiating I've ever seen for games at that level.
Why Adam Nagourney is Wrong About 2006:

1. November represents the best chance in a generation for the Democrats to win a transformational election in the House. The most reliable indicator in determining who wins a Congressional seat is knowing which party has won that seat in the past. However, every so often there is an election that one party utterly dominates, shattering years of partisan consistency in voting patterns. Among mid-term elections, we can look at 1894, 1910, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1974, and 1994, as years where one party made huge strides, leading to a temporary realignment in how people vote. The Democrats have a chance to make 2006 such an election, and just as 1994 was a more important year, over the long haul, than Clinton winning reelection in 1996, so too might this year. Merely picking up a handful of seats does nothing to change the long-term trends, and it blows a rare opportunity.

2. Any GOP majority in the Senate means that Bush can handpick his judicial nominees. Short of nominating a Klansman, there is no way Senate Democrats will filibuster a Supreme Court nominee from the floor. If you want to impede the reactionary trend of the judiciary, you have to bottle up nominees in the Judiciary Committee, and that requires a Democratic majority.

3. Even partisan investigations benefit the country, if only to make the powerful accountable. Moreover, the public has a right to know what went wrong in our war planning with Iraq, or whether how homeland security is prepared to stop the next domestic terrorist attack. Since the ruling party hasn't evidenced any interest in conducting such inquiries, the Democrats have to step up to the plate. If the Democrats overreach, so be it.

4. With the possible exception of 1992, I've heard some liberal/progressives make the same argument before every election, ie., maybe it's not such a bad idea for the GOP to win this one, let them take the responsibility for the budget deficit/war/recession/whatever. Since the base of the GOP is more concerned with whether our country has gotten right with Jesus in time for the Rapture, things like "screwing up the environment" or "bankrupting the national treasury" or "losing our military in Iraq" won't necessarily discredit the ruling party in Red States, and a complacent political attitude is a terrible one for anybody who truly loves his country.
My home away from the dorm in college, Cody's Book Store, is closing. Back in the mid-80's, I used to park myself at its Telegraph Avenue location, waiting for the annual Bill James Baseball Abstract to come out, where I knew it would have a prominent spot at one of the front tables. Today, I would just order it from Amazon.

May 14, 2006

Busy day yesterday. Visited my grandma in Kernville (she's 93, and in spite of burying all three of her sons, she continues to brighten the lives of those around her), then attended my high school reunion, which I hope to describe further as soon as I get pictures of the event (hint, hint).