Casualty of Capitalism

Exiled into Wilmington, Delaware by virtue of corporate layoffs. (Note: Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this blog are Copyright 2005, Michael Collins, and cannot be used without permission.)

Location: Wilmington, Delaware, United States

Graduate of University of Maryland School of Law; University of Maryland, College Park (Economics/Political Science).

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Tsunami Relief

I have always wondered what fundamentally motivates a man to help a complete stranger in need. Regardless, the tsunami stories from Asia, India, and Africa are so heart rending that we MUST do what we can to help. Even the President has asked each of us to help:

Bush pledged a multifaceted response from the United States that goes far beyond the $35 million initially pledged, including U.S. military manpower and damage surveillance teams in the short term and long-term rebuilding assistance. He also called on Americans to private donate cash to relief organizations to augment the response.

Please donate to your favorite relief charity. You can also follow links here and here (where donations have exceeded $2 million today alone). The web is an incredible resource in this situation. Your charitable options are virtually unlimited, so no excuses! Help those who need it most!

The Pathetic Sports Capital of the World

First it was the Murder Capital of the World. Now, after a fit of vigorous research and number crunching, ESPN has determined what us DC sports fans have already known deep in our own broken hearts: Washington is the sorriest sports town in American. Granted, the DC United and Washington Freedom won the last two major U.S. professional soccer titles. But "major" and "soccer" are not often used in conjunction with each other in this country. They don't count.

But do not let this study fool you. Philadelphia is still "Sucktown, USA." Sucktown, USA is the location of the city with at least three major pro-franchises that has had the longest drought without a championship in any sport. Lucky for DC, the Redskins had some pretty stellar years under the first Joe Gibbs administration, capturing three Super Bowl titles in the 80's and early 90's. Philly has been so clost with the Eagles, Flyers, 76ers, and Phillies all choking within sniffing distance of championship rings in the 90's and 00's. So for now, though it fields exciting, championship caliber teams on a regular basis, Philadelphia retains the title of Sucktown, USA, a place where it's always close, but there are no cigars to be found.

I enjoyed this bone ESPN threw to DC sports fans:

Washington finishes in last place, but at least they swiped the Expos from Montreal.

Unfortunately, I really don't think the Expos' (now Nationals) .414 winning percentage last season would have positively affected DC's ranking.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Leadership: Peyton Manning

My father is a huge fan of Johnny Unitas. Every time a professional quarterback fails to competently drive his team down the field for a score with under two minutes to play in a half, he throws his hands up and says, "Johnny Unitas would have taken the team right down the field! He was the best ever at the two minute drill!"

Back in Johnny U.'s day, the QB called the plays. So Unitas's genius wasn't just in his talent, but his play calling. Today, there is a new Johnny Unitas playing in a Colts uniform, but his name is Peyton Manning.

Anybody who watched last Sunday's Colts game saw a little bit of the old school. Everyone has seen highlights from the game because Manning broke Dan Marino's all-time single season TD pass mark (now 49). What was most significant about the TD was how he came to be in the position to throw the pass in the first place.

With the Colts down 8 points, staring at a 4th and 8 deep in their own territory, and fewer than three minutes left on the clock, Manning waived the punt team off the field and decided to go for it. True sign of a leader. A perfect pass for a first down kept the fledgling drive alive, and solidified Manning's status as THE best QB in the NFL, both in terms of ability and leadership. Several plays later, Manning drilled a perfect ball to WR Brandon Stokely for the record-breaking TD pass, and the score that put the Colts within a two point conversion of tying the game. After the game, Manning said he called the play that scored the crucial TD like he would on the playground, "Brandon, just run a post." It wasn't some fancy NFL route, it was just a good old fashioned run straight, turn right, catch ball. The entire sequence from 4th and 8 through the TD, to the successful two-point coversion, and finally the game-winning field goal in OT just screamed, VINTAGE!

I have been reluctant to compare Indianapolis Colt Manning to Baltimore Colt Unitas because of the circumstances of the franchise's relocation. But man-to-man, QB-to-QB, future HOFer-to-current HOFer, my eyes were opened on Sunday.

REDSKINS NOTE: The Skins lost to the Cowboys. Again. It got me to thinking today about what would happen if Redskins QB Patrick Ramsey tried to pull what Peyton Manning did on Sunday in the game's final minutes. In an email to a friend (a Ravens fan), I wrote:

How do you think it would be received if Kyle Boller or Patrick Ramsey told the punting team to get the hell off the field with 4th & 8, 3 minutes remaining, and down by 8? I'm certain of the result if it was Ramsey and [Redskins Coach Joe] Gibbs relented: 85% chance of a sack, 14% chance of an underthrown incompletion, 0.95% chance of fumbled snap, 0.05% chance of successful completion...for 7 yards.

Bush League

I am not the only one who thinks Bob Herbert is out of his league when it comes to reporting on military affairs. How they let a guy whose job description is to write on "social issues" continue to pen the MSM's most pathetic regular column on Iraq says a lot about the quality of the New York Times' Editorial and Opinion Page. Herbert must frequent karaoke bars quite often, because a guy this willing to make a fool of himself in front of so many on such a regular basis has to have some way to work on thickening his skin.

Christmas in the Country

I spent Christmas weekend in Indiana enjoying the generosity and good feelings of my fiance's wonderful family. One cannot say enough about leaving the hustle and bustle of the city behind, to enjoy the quiet, snow softened solace of a long four days in the country.

Temperatures in Chicago on Christmas Eve morning (paradox?) reached only -2F and felt every bit, or lack of bit, that cold. We left the salt-whitened streets and sidewalks of the city for the snow-whitened fields of Indiana. (Note to Mayor Daley, instead of raising our taxes to meet budget shortfalls, use less salt!)

After commuting in a sardine can each morning, pushing through millions of fat suburban holiday shoppers every lunch time while hoping not to succumb to hypothermia, and exposing myself to the beams and rays of my office computer for hours on end throughout the day, spending time on a snow-covered farm was chicken soup for the soul. I certainly had a Merry Christmas.

"ONLY IN INDIANA" NOTE: Apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, but there is only one way to describe a sight I observed on Sunday afternoon while driving through a rural section of Indiana: "You might be a redneck if: When there are several inches of snow on the ground, you gather up the kids, tie their sleds to the back of your Ford Bronco, and do donuts in the front yard." Posted by Hello

This picture provides some of the best evidence yet why Christmas in the country beats Christmas in the city, hands down. Posted by Hello

Enough Already!!

All signs point to another harsh winter here in the Midwest. Often experts tell us these cold months are some of the most depressing of the year. When I first moved to Chicago, I used to go to bars during the winter months and ask people what there is to do out here in the winter time. Being the kind of person who reads adventure books and who has a strange interest in polar endurance memoirs, I guess I hoped to hear a little bit about cross country skiing, ice fishing, or snowshoeing. Instead, my interviewee would look into his or her glass of beer, then at me, and without fail, say, "You're looking at it."

No, wintertime in the Chicago does not leave much for the city folk to do. Accordingly, I am looking forward to spring already. Without anything exciting to do, what's the point? I have experienced negative temperatures quite often enough already this winter that the novelty has worn off early. The puffy coat, scarf, and long underwear are better kept in the closet than on my body. Unfortunately, it has only been winter for seven days. Sigh. (Wait, is that a symptom of winter depression already??!)

Here's hoping for an early spring!Posted by Hello

Life can treat each of us harshly. At times, it seems like we're just spinning our wheels and going nowhere. Posted by Hello

With war raging in Iraq, terrorists on the loose, a bitter election behind us, and tens of thousands recently pummelled to death by a furious tsunami, it seems like the perfect time to put to rest the carcass of 2004 and start anew with the hope of a brighter 2005. Posted by Hello

On the bright side, the days have already turned the corner toward getting longer.  Posted by Hello

Somewhere under this polar landscape, the earth waits to produce next fall's yield. Posted by Hello

There is plenty of promise in the year ahead. Who knows what lies down the road to the future? But whatever awaits, trust in God, focus on what is right and good, and work your heart out to achieve the task set out for you to accomplish. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Today's View From the Unemployment Line: Merry Christmas Edition

As the snow softly falls on a single digit night here in Chicago, there is no better time to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. I'll be back posting hopefully by Monday night. I'm headed to Indiana for the weekend to enjoy Christmas with my new family. A great time should be had by all! While we enjoy the next few days with our families, let us not forget those who will not be, particulary our fellow citizens stationed around the world. A lot of prayers should be said this Saturday: some for our soldiers, some for our leaders, some for our families, and some in gratitude for what we have and what we can give. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night... Posted by Hello

Don't Make Him Angry...You Like Him When He's Angry

Be careful who you cross in the blogosphere. This is one of the funniest comebacks (worth the long read) I have read this year.

A taste:

Note: in one of those classic little asides meant to endear him to the chic upper-left-side Mo-Dowd demographic whose uteruses have turned to something indistinguishable from papyri rescued from Herculanuem, he refers to me as a “blogger beloved in the daycare community.” Whether this is a swipe at my infantile politics or tendancy to write about my child, I don’t know. I doubt he knows anything about me beyond a few excerpts, or he wouldn’t have thought “Lilek” is the name and “Lilek’s” is possessive. But when I read that, I thought: he has cats. Everything about his work suggests that he has cats. Not that there’s anything wrong with cats. I love cats, even though I prefer dogs. But sometimes you just get the impression of a soul whose incessant pissy hauteur is best expressed at the moment when they dump a stinky disk of fish guts into the bowl and mutter something clever to the elegant creatures feasting at their feet. The fact that the cats don’t quite get what you’re saying is irrelevant. No, on some level, cats get it. Whatever "it" is.

An Angel in Mosul

A diary entry that is a must read this Christmas season, from a Chaplain in the chaos of this week's suicide bombing in an Army mess tent. Read, weep, pray.

Fitting the Stereotype

Some people say lawyers have no sense of humor. Often, they're right.

Personally, I think lawyer jokes are hilarious, and I couldn't wait to be the punchline (mostly because that meant I passed the bar exam). They're funny because they're awful. The best one I have heard yet was at a suburban Chicago fish fry where a particularly hilarious gentleman told this joke between alternating bites of fried fish and devil's food cake (don't worry, this is normal in the Chicago suburbs):

I have a law firm that I always keep on retainer. You know what it's called? Smith & Wesson.

Horrible. But hilarious, considering the context.

Nationals, Back From the Dead

Apparently, baseball is back in DC (we've heard that before). I'm cautiously optimistic. But that's just part of being a DC sports fan. You can never be confident of victory until the final seconds have ticked off the clock, and the home team is comfortably ahead. 10 points in 56 seconds. It's my Alamo.

The deadline for the baseball deal is still next Friday, but the experts think baseball is on board with the latest proposal by the DC Council. Good. But I won't believe it until Regis brings in the New Year.

One final question on this fiasco, why is it that when DC politicians are involved, the mundane (a vote on bond funding, here) becomes farce:

"We sat down, rolled up our sleeves and got it done," said Mayor Anthony A. Williams of the three-cornered compromises made between baseball, the mayor and Cropp, who has crusaded to bring some degree of private funding into the ballpark deal. Even Williams, who has looked ineffectual in recent weeks, "underscored" the value that Cropp has brought to the process by "drawing international attention to this issue."

Part of the attention has come in the form of laughter and even mockery that Williams and his council can't stay on the same page or even in the same book on a huge deal. In major negotiations, who speaks for Washington? For now, the answer is, "You never know."

And farce becomes the surreal:

A one-vote margin to fund such a park, especially after a more than two-month public brawl, is practically an invitation to insurrection when three new council members, all anti-baseball, arrive in 10 days. Even as cheers for Opening Day at RFK Stadium in April are poised to burst from millions of throats, the return to the council of Marion Barry brings an almost surreal element into play.

The only thing in DC that's black and white are the race relations. It surely isn't anything the DC government touches.

IN OTHER DC SPORTS NEWS: At least it wasn't the punter.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

Something about this picture brings the Democratic Party's use of Michael Moore's propaganda to mind.

DC Baseball Update

Looks like a deal has been reached between Mayor Anthony Williams and Council Chairwoman Linda Cropp that they believe could save baseball in DC:

Under the new proposal, which the 13-member council is to vote on today, the city will purchase insurance for potential cost overruns on the stadium and split the payments with Major League Baseball. Also, District officials will continue pursuing private financing for the project for several months. But Cropp said she will drop a requirement that 50 percent of the construction costs be paid for with private money.


Cropp said the proposed changes could reduce the District's potential costs for the stadium by up to $193.5 million when compared with the deal Williams struck with baseball officials in September. She said she expects a council majority to approve the new agreement.

I'm not so certain Major League Baseball will take the bait. There is still another week and a half before the deadline on December 31 and MLB could hold out for a better deal. Their position all along has been that a deal was reached two months ago, was approved by the DC Council, and the only issue now should be approving the bonds for public financing. Anything less black and white than that would be an alteration of the original agreement.

Baseball does have an incentive to negotiate because at this time, there is no better alternative than Washington, DC. That appears to be what Cropp is banking on. Maybe her last second power play, low as it is, will bear some fruit for the city. If so, she will have increased her stock with the voters at Mayor Williams' expense, showing that she is a tough negotiator, while Mayor Williams appears willing to cave too easily. She will also show that she has the cooperation of the DC Council, something Mayor Williams cannot claim.

The alternative is MLB doesn't budge, and Cropp's plan kills DC baseball. What the electorate thinks of that is another, less clear, matter.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Lambeau the Right Way

My fiance and I spent Sunday in Green Bay for the Packers game against the Jaguars at Lambeau Field. I purchased my tickets for a December game in the hopes that we would get to see Packers QB Brett Favre and experience Lambeau in all of its "Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field" glory. I had never been to Green Bay and wanted to do so only if we saw it in the football conditions it is known for. Green Bay didn't disappoint (except maybe by the Packers failure to win). The temperatures were forecast to remain in the single digits with dangerous wind chills in the negative teens. After making some last minute cold-weather purchases (coveralls, hats, hot chocolate, schnapps) we headed up north.

Below is a review of the stadium, its inhabitants, their quirks, and the conditions. The trip was an unqualified success! Enjoy!Posted by Hello

First a word from our sponsor: Thanks to the nice folks at Flanagan's Krrrrisp Kraut, the Official Sauerkraut of Lambeau Field, my fiance and I were able to secure our seats. You can see their billboard on the upper right corner of the scoreboard.  Posted by Hello

STADIUM: The stadium is excellent. As old as Lambeau Field is, I expected a dump. Something along the lines of Fenway Park or Wrigley, or at best RFK Stadium. Instead, the stadium was very modern looking and well maintained. It puts the Redskins' pathetic FedEx Field (opened in 1998) to complete shame. A large number of enclosed luxury boxes partially surrounded the lower seating bowl in a horseshoe shape. I wondered whether those people felt ashamed to be sitting in heated comfort while those in the stands froze in single digit temps. Probably not. But the view from our seats in the 56th row ($50 face value seats) beats the view in at least half the seats at FedEx where upperdeck blimp-view seats face at $55. Don't ask about concessions. It was just too cold to get up and check them out! Posted by Hello

ATMOSPHERE: Nothing negative to report. Unlike Redskins games or any game in an NFC East stadium, the annoying factor was not present. All the fans seemed to be having fun, regardless of the cold. No annoying chants. No annoying arrogant behavior. No Eagles fans. It seemed like the weekend's big event in the hunting community (see Style below). With the exception of a few empty cups tossed on the field after a viscious hit by and ejection of a Jaguars player, the fans were the best behaved I have ever seen. The fans LOVE their Pack. And the bitter cold just seemed to increase the good feelings.  Posted by Hello

SIGNAGE: Before I get into fashion, first a word on moronic stadium signs. That word being, "Why?" Snarly? That's stretching it. Posted by Hello

STYLE: Hunter chic would best describe the fashion on display in the bowl. Every style of full camoflauge including woodland, snow, desert, and hunter orange. Thankfully, that awful purple camoflauge Ravens fans in Baltimore wear was NOT visible. Others wore pure bright hunter's orange coveralls, Carhartt's, snowmobiling suits, ski pants, etc. Of course, there were many in official Packers gear, but the hunting motif really stood out. Nearly everyone was covered from head to toe, with little skin visible by the end of the game. Others (the more "spirited" of the fans) wore very little and gloried in the exposure of their flesh to extreme cold. For more, see below for a discussion of hat fashion. Posted by Hello

HATS: You are not cool if you don't have a dead animal on your head. Some of these fur hats would give PETA fainting fits. The gentleman in the middle of this picture actually has the head of the fox resting on the top of his hat. Other animals looking like wolves or badgers warmed the heads of their killers in much more elaborate styles. These typically had heads on top and tails and legs hanging off the backs in what could only be described as fur-mullet-esque fashion. Posted by Hello

FANATICISM: (See also picture below.) Even with temperatures cold enough to put instant frost on the mouth of a beer bottle, or cause small bottles of water to freeze mid-drink, most of the Packers faithful remained committed to the game, even with the Packers down by two scores with under three minutes to play and the ball in the Jaguars' hands. That takes faith. Granted, having Brett Favre makes faith easier, but it was freakin' freezing out there! Posted by Hello

COLD: This picture speaks for itself. But temperatures were reportedly in the single digits with wind chills well below zero. The reports were true, I assure you. Posted by Hello

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Today's View From the Unemployment Line

Sorry for the lack of posting the last couple of days. I had an out of town interview and a lot of holiday-related things to catch up on. 'Tis the season.

This weekend, some real excitement. I am attending my first Packers game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI. I purposely targeted December for purchasing tickets because I wanted the real experience, the "Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field" experience. Boy, did I pick the right game! At the time of this writing, the forecast high temperature is supposed to reach only 9F degrees, with gusty winds of 10-20 mph. Not too long ago, I bought myself a nice set of Carhartt coveralls, underneath which I will be wearing my puffy North Face coat, and layer after layer of thermal undies. I will also likely be layering my stomach with some hard hot chocolate for most of the day.

With a Florida team, the Jacksonville Jaguars as the opponent, Packers QB Brett Favre should have a field day. It's not too often that he loses when the temperature is below freezing at home. There should be plenty to blog about when I return, provided I haven't lost all of my fingers to frostbite.

While I'm gone, please read Charles Krauthammer's latest piece on the loss of the "Christ" part of Christmas.

To insist that the overwhelming majority of this country stifle its religious impulses in public so that minorities can feel "comfortable" not only understandably enrages the majority but commits two sins. The first is profound ungenerosity toward a majority of fellow citizens who have shown such generosity of spirit toward minority religions.

The second is the sin of incomprehension -- a failure to appreciate the uniqueness of the communal American religious experience. Unlike, for example, the famously tolerant Ottoman Empire or the generally tolerant Europe of today, the United States does not merely allow minority religions to exist at its sufferance. It celebrates and welcomes and honors them.

And for a good laugh, the Washington Times actually printed a letter to the editor I wrote on the DC baseball fiasco. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Linda "I Ruined DC Baseball" Cropp's Ghost Constituency

Here's more news -

DC workers who live in the suburbs have no say regarding DC baseball, according to Linda Cropp:

"There's been a lot of negative comment [today] from people who don't live in the District," she says. "It's hard for people who don't live in the District and have no vested interest in it except to enjoy the game, to feel the same as residents do. It's [District residents'] taxes, their businesses that will be impacted. The people from the suburbs just view it as something joyful and fun."

She adds, "For the most part, I believe I am representing the wishes of the people of the District. I'm getting a very positive response from my actual constituency, and that's extremely good."

Is that right? What would Linda Cropp think if all the suburban workers who spend more than 8 hours of each day, creating wealth and pumping spending money and taxes into the coffers of the DC government, just decided one day to boycott spending in the District? Or moving their businesses into the surrounding suburbs? Would DC survive if her "actual constituency," which appears to be only the poor African American residents in the city, was left as the sole source of the city's income?

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the "personal income" of the District of Columbia in 2003 was $26,651,113,000. The near suburbs of DC, (excluding DC and Baltimore) had a personal income in 2002 of $187,789,553,000 (7 times the DC total). Including the Baltimore area (and still excluding DC), it balloons to $285,917,819,000 (nearly 11 times the DC total). Any smart politician would resist offending these sources of funds.

Further, this 2003 Department of Transportation Planning of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments report shows that in 2000, more than twice as many DC workers are commuters from the suburbs (480,800) than residents of the District (190,600). The surrounding suburbs of DC are some of the most educated in the country, so these commuters are not working at trivial jobs.

A politician's constituency isn't just the people laying their heads within his/her political boundaries, it also includes the people who work and play there. DC is a commuter and tourist city. If Linda Cropp doesn't believe DC workers who live in the suburbs have a voice in the city's affairs, perhaps they should express themselves by speaking with their wallets and refusing to spend money in the District. We'll see then who her "actual constituency" is.

Rummy's Last Days?

The calls for the head of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are starting to reach fever pitch. Today, William Kristol, mouthpiece of the neocons joined the fray in a scathing op-ed in the Washington Post:

At least the topic of those conversations in the Pentagon isn't boring. Indeed, Rumsfeld assured the troops who have been cobbling together their own armor, "It's interesting." In fact, "if you think about it, you can have all the armor in the world on a tank and a tank can be blown up. And you can have an up-armored humvee and it can be blown up." Good point. Why have armor at all? Incidentally, can you imagine if John Kerry had made such a statement a couple of months ago? It would have been (rightly) a topic of scorn and derision among my fellow conservatives, and not just among conservatives.


All defense secretaries in wartime have, needless to say, made misjudgments. Some have stubbornly persisted in their misjudgments. But have any so breezily dodged responsibility and so glibly passed the buck?


These soldiers deserve a better defense secretary than the one we have.

Professor Bainbridge and Andrew Sullivan have also kept the drum beating.

I thought Rumsfeld tinged his responses to the soldiers' questions last week with arrogance and an air of dismissiveness. If I were a Humvee driver, asked about the lack of armor, and got a response like:

"As you know, you have to go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want," Rumsfeld said.

He added, "You can have all the armor in the world on a tank, and it can [still] be blown up."

...from some guy in a suit who spends most days in an office while I'm in danger of losing a few limbs to an IED, I would be one ticked off soldier.

This has been Rumsfeld MO since the beginning, take the questioner's question, respond with something glib or condescending, then move on. Having watched countless briefings while working on the Hill during the invasion portion of the Iraq war, I don't think Rumsfeld's attitude has changed, and certainly not his belief in his own infallibility. He has always had an air of arrogance about him, and I agree that his arrogance is costing us in Iraq now.


An email I received today from my fiance read:

The name of our company CHRISTMAS party:

[redacted] 2004 Christmahanukwanzakah Party!

Give me a break.

Not surprising. I often find myself chastising myself after saying, "Merry Christmas" to someone. Having grown up in the DC area, and having worked twice on Capitol Hill, I automatically feel a great sense of guilt, just because of the possibility that someone might take offense. Drives me crazy.

In fact, last year, when a secretary at my company sent out an email informing us of the date and time of our "Christmas Party," I immediately ran into my boss' office and remarked that I couldn't believe we were have a CHRISTMAS party! It was the first one I could remember having in my professional career. Score one for the Midwest, I thought.

The removal of Christmas from Christmas is nothing new. Jay Nordlinger wrote this absurd piece a year ago, "December's C-Word":

In the workplace, "Christmas" is a faux pas, at best. One company lists its holidays thus: "New Year's Day, Presidents' Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day [yes], and December 25th." December 25th. These people could not bring themselves to utter the C-word. Christmas parties are out, and in are, of course, holiday parties, seasonal gatherings, and end-of-year celebrations. A man writes, "My law firm does a 'Christmas in April' charity event. But it's 'holiday' at Christmas! I'd like them to do a 'Christmas in April' in December for a change." One company decided to avoid naming holidays altogether: Now they just have "scheduled down days."

Nordlinger's follow-up today to this paragraph is priceless:

"Jay, I read your piece "December's C-Word," in which you wrote about my workplace, where all the holidays are called by name, except Christmas, which is referred to as 'December 25th.' This year, the situation is even more laughable. Since Christmas falls on the weekend, the page of our internal website was changed to read, 'December 25th (observed on December 24th in 2004).' What nonsense! Anyway, Merry Christmas to you."

DC Loses Its Third Major League Baseball Team...This Time Before the Team Even Takes the Field

It's not the lack of fans in the stands, this time. It's the lack of fans on the DC Council. Once again, DC Councilmembers put petty populist politics before policy, voting late last night to add an nuclear amendment to the legislation that would have sealed the deal to bring baseball back to the District. The Washington Post's Mark Fisher has the DC Council nailed:

Linda Cropp's late-night bombshell eviscerating the deal with Major League Baseball immediately restores Washington's status as America's laughingstock.


Less than an hour later, the vote was 10 to 3 for Cropp's amendment, with only Jack Evans, Harold Brazil and Vincent B. Orange Sr. standing up for the deal. The rest of the council will say that they sought only to save the city from a bad economic deal, but last night's switcheroo is thick in subtexts. Beneath the surface concerns, this was about payback. Some council members longed to strike out against a mayor who has spent six years neglecting them and operating on his own. Some saw the popular movement against the stadium deal as evidence that baseball had become a symbol of the elite, mostly white power structure that is perceived in much of black Washington as antagonistic to the District's black population. And some on the council who harbor ambitions for higher office saw an anti-baseball vote as a way to align themselves with those voters who are frightened by the wave of change that is sweeping the city.


A city that is synonymous with struggle once again aims, fires and hits nothing but itself.

Poor Thomas Boswell, DC's biggest baseball fan, has more:

The question of whether baseball will now jerk its franchise out of Washington is not a question at all. It is a foregone conclusion. Why would baseball come here? We have pulled a bait-and-switch on the sport. We have broken a deal negotiated by Mayor Anthony A. Williams, the city's highest elected official. And worst of all, Cropp and her council didn't have the guts to stand up and say: "This stadium is too good a deal for baseball and not good enough for the District. You tied poor Mayor Williams in a knot. We're not approving such a lousy ballpark deal. We reject it. Take your team somewhere else."

First they drove the Redskins out of town, now the Nats. If it wasn't for philanthropist owner Abe Pollin, who built the MCI Center in Chinatown as a gift to the District, both the Capitals and the Wizards would still be in Landover, MD. If the DC Council is so intent on doing "the right thing," why didn't they marginalize a crack-smoking, prostitute patronizing, corrupt ex-mayor (Marion Barry) rather than fully endorsing his subsequent re-election as mayor? Oh, and he also just won election to...drum roll...the DC Council.

The city government truly is a joke. A bunch of mindless populists whose only goal is self-promotion and the appearance of representation. I can't wait to see their proposal for revitalizing the Anacostia waterfront area the stadium would have occupied. That is, if they even care about doing something about it.

So the deal is essentially dead. The Murder Capital has lived up to its name, this time killing baseball in the District.

Life Imitates the Blues Brothers

Cop car crashes into City Hall

By Dan Mihalopoulos
Tribune staff reporter
Published December 14, 2004, 2:22 PM CST

A civilian employee of the Chicago Police Department and another person were hurt this morning when a police car they were riding in went out of control and slammed into the side of City Hall in the Loop.

The incident happened about 11:30 a.m. on the LaSalle Street side of City Hall, when a marked police car with a man and woman inside ran up on the sidewalk, hit two light posts and struck an entrance to the building. No pedestrians were hit.

Bicycle messenger Jeremy Dutcher said the vehicle had been parked near City Hall, on LaSalle near Washington Street, when it suddenly careened away and smashed into a stone entrance to the building.

"He was at a dead stop and then just out of control, tires spinning and then slamming into the wall," said Dutcher, 22. "There was a bunch of people out, but he didn't hit anyone."

The occupants of the car were in civilian clothes, witnesses said.

A group of Illinois Nazis reported a different story. They believe the civilians were male, clothed identically in black hats, black suits and ties with white shirts, and dark sunglasses. One was tall and skinny, the other short and stocky. Each had words tattooed on his knuckles. One held a harmonica, the other a microphone...

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Charges Heat Up

How long before we start seeing the Sen. Harry Reid Minority Leadership post Death Pools? It didn't take too long for Trent Lott to step down in 2002 as Majority Leader after he made a bizarre comment at Strom Thurmond's last birthday bash that lead to his detractors to call for his "racist" head. How soon before Harry Reid takes his own tumble? (By the way, where is Al Gore's righteous indignation on this one? Or does anyone even care what Al Gore thinks anymore?)

These comments from black conservative Armstrong Williams are some of the more heated and direct comments I have seen yet:

[Justice Clarence Thomas'] willingness to embrace the complex social problems before him—rather than simply saying we’re owed reparations-- is a lot more thoughtful than anything Senator Reid has ever whistled out of his mouth.

Yet, there is Senator Reid on TV dismissing Thomas with these infuriatingly reductive comments. Sadly, many Americans agree with him. Not because Reid is right. But because such remarks give the latent racists in our society an excuse to say about black conservatives what they think about all black people.

Of course, Senator Reid would never say such reductive and latently racist things about Jesse Jackson or Al Shaprton. Why? These men certainly are not our best and brightest. But they’re the ones that are elevated. Meanwhile those black people who are smart enough to form their own unique views on complex social circumstances are savaged. Everyone laughs when newspapers run comics comparing Condoleezza Rice to Aunt Jemima. People bob their heads in agreement when Harry Belafonte calls Colin Powell an Uncle Tom. No one talks about how this is the first time in this country’s history that a black man is in charge of worldwide diplomacy or a black woman in charge of keeping us secure. That is profound, but all we get from people like Reid are derisive snorts. And everyone gives him a free pass because his remarks are directed at black conservatives. This never happens with white people. They only reserve this treatment for black people. Hispanic appointees aren’t marginalized like this. No one dared call Miguel Estrada a sell-out. But when the Black Commentator called Judge Janice Rogers Brown a “Jim Crow era judge in natural blackface," no one batted an eye.

Senator Reid’s remarks about Justice Thomas are no different than using the "N-word" to sum up an individual. This needs to end now.

By "this" I assume he also means Harry Reid's tenure as Senate Minority Leader.

Reid's resignation as Senate Minority Leader would make him the third major leader in Congress to step down in the face of scandal after a very brief tenure during the last six years. As mentioned above, Republican Trent Lott stepped down not too long after re-ascending to the leadership of the majority party in the Senate after making the vague statement with racist connotations mentioned above (he had been the Senate Minority Leader since Jim Jeffords deprived the Republicans of the majority party status shortly after Bush's first election, when Jeffords defected from the Republican party to Independent status and gave the Democrats a slight advantage at 50-49-1).

In 1998, Newt Gingrich stepped down from the House speakership amid swirling allegations of marital infidelity and the steady loss of confidence in his leadership after the government shut down debacle. In his place, Bob Livingston became speaker-elect. But even before he was sworn into the role, allegations that HE engaged in an extra-marital affair derailed his ambitions, and he stepped down (this amid the Clinton-Lewinsky affair, Livingston hoped to be an "example" that Clinton "will follow"). Livingston was replaced by current House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois.

(As an aside, the article linked in the previous paragraph, in retrospect, is hilarious. First, there is the Newt Gingrich marital situation (his wife at the time was dying of cancer, but Newt was dealing with it by getting busy with his girlfriend and now current wife) that isn't spelled out in the article, but is the reason for Livingston seeking the speakership. Then Livingston steps down for his own infidelity. But he's doing so as a lesson for Cheater-in-Chief Bill Clinton in regards to the Lewinsky situation. Also not mentioned in the article, reports later surfaced that Clinton's spiritual counselor through the Lewinsky mess, Rev. Jesse Jackson, was secretly supporting his own illegitimate kid. While all this was going on, Larry Flynt was offering millions for dirt on Republicans' extramarital affairs. And as the perfect, pathetic finale to this sordid (ahem) affair, Klansman David Duke declared his candidacy for Livingston's seat. Is there any doubt that George W. Bush's classy leadership has, by example, removed much of the Jerry Springer atmosphere of the 1990's DC?)

So what will happen to Reid? I think if the Republicans choose to force the issue, they could have Reid's resignation in short order. Personally, I am uncomfortable with this game. Pols played it in the 90's and it resulted in much of the divisiveness we see inside the Beltway. Bernard Kerik's resignation this week is another symptom. How many potential leaders with trivial skeletons in their closets are likely to step into the political ring with the threat of a mud-slinging battle breaking out? With the best and the brightest eschewing politics for other endeavors, we are left only with the feeble-minded and power-hungry.

I like what former House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt said in 1998 upon Livingston's resignation:

"We need to stop destroying imperfect people at the altar of an unattainable morality," Gephardt said.

Although Gephardt's statement is misplaced in its context (I don't think being faithful to one's wife is "unattainable"), the sentiment is right in general. High standards should be required of our leaders. But we should make sure to separate true scandal from the trivial misstep. Everyone makes mistakes, and not all of them should be career killers.

Do Sen. Reid's comments on Justice Thomas signal the end of his tenure as Senate Minority Leader? Time will tell.

Deck the Halls, It's Christmas Season in Chicago

My parents came to town this weekend to meet my fiance's parents for the first time. We enjoyed some of the many sights, sounds, and tastes of Chicago during the couple of days spent together. In Chicago, everyone is in the Christmas spirit, even the horses. My mother often commented on how this thing or that thing could not be displayed or said back home in the DC area these days as relates to Christmas. Not surprising. But here in the Midwest, the good people are more Jimmy Stewart than Ebenezer Scrooge. I am happy to report that the parents enjoyed themselves and each other. Good sign, that! Posted by Hello

Chicago's Christmas tree is located in Daley Plaza right in the center of the Loop. At this time of year, the city hosts an arts and crafts bazaar called the Christkindlemarket. The market features handmade, typically Christmas-themed, ornaments and decorations of all types, largely from Germany. Perhaps the best parts of the carnival are the incredible food (sausages, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, pretzels, and chocolates) and the two large beer tents, one actually a wooden lodge. Patrons can drink a couple of good, tasty German beers while taking in the holiday atmosphere. (Unlike at Marshall Fields, the husbands have something to do while the wives shop.) A taste of Germany in downtown Chicago. Posted by Hello

The controversial Nativity scene at Daley Plaza with Jesus intact, safe from an abduction attempt earlier in the week. Posted by Hello

Ice-skating in Millenium Park. Even Santa joined the skaters early in the evening. Posted by Hello

This is the LaSalle Bank building. The aftermath of last Monday's infamous fire is clearly visible. (Not exactly a Christmas related picture, but consider it a reminder to be careful with your Christmas tree or turkey fry.) Posted by Hello

The Sentiment in Chicago

These stickers adorn poles all over my neighborhood and have since before the election. As you can see, the level of political discussion is very sophisticated in this town. Posted by Hello