Monday, November 15, 2004

still on hiatus, but to return

Well, that election sure sucked. Taking solace in the process having been completed without armed insurrection and/or martial law, is of little, well, solace.

I am still heavily involved in football-related writing activities over at FantasyTutor, so for another month at least, there may be little going on in the World. I'll be sure to annoy each of you habitual readers personally with an "I'm back" message when I do indeed rejoin the sphere of the blogging.

Best wishes for whatever upcoming holidays you choose to celebrate, and if your interests came out shortchanged in this election, DO NOT REST. Stay alert, stay active, stay hopeful. We're going to come out of this stronger, even if the country doesn't in the short term.

TJ

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Letter sent to John McCain

Senator McCain--
I am a longtime progressive voter, and I must say frankly that many of your views are not anywhere close to what I would like to see happen to this country. And yet, I hold you in the greatest esteem. Obviously your service to our country is worthy of utmost respect, but that is only a foundation. You are one of the last of a dying breed--a faithful member of your party who still stands up for your own set of values, even when they do not intersect, and who values collegial bonds as much as party bonds. Your conduct in this 2004 campaign particularly has been one of great integrity. In some ways I am saddened for you, that you seem to be caught directly in the middle of a bitter, partisan campaign.

And now as you return from Europe, you arrive to another maelstrom over Vietnam that once again threatens to rend our nation.

I am sure you are aware that your friend Senator Kerry heard you loudly and clearly, and agreed that the MoveOn ad condemning certain features of President Bush's record was inappropriate for the campaign. Similar to that incident, I was proud when you swiftly denounced the SBVT ad that unfairly and inaccurately smeared Senator Kerry's service. Unfortunately, the man whose campaign you head in Arizona does not see fit to heed your call, and instead turns his ire essentially against YOU, by making this an issue of "failed" campaign finance reform.

Senator, you must remember those evenings in early 2000 when the President saw fit to let others make false claims, and then fail to repudiate their legitimacy. Perhaps you cringed inside when you saw the comparisons of Max Cleland to Osama bin Laden. And if so, I can only expect that you feel that the same pattern is rearing its ugly head once again: personal smears by a third party, without rebuke from George Bush.

You are a man of great honor and loyalty, and I can imagine how torn you must feel, on so many levels. But I submit to you that your integrity rests on speaking up for what is right, and speaking out against what is wrong. You have said, and must know, that what the President is doing (or not) is simply wrong. It is not the mark of a leader.

I urge you to take steps in order to maintain your integrity and self-respect with regards to this latest egregiousness. Often when we hear of injustice or savagery done to a person, we find that they are bloodied but unbowed, and driven by a desire to prevent that injustice from happening to others. They seek to be the last to suffer the tools of harm. Senator McCain, the President did these things to you in 2000, and very possibly cost you a Presidency that I would have been proud to endorse, despite our political differences.

Thank you for your time; I know Arizona voters are your first priority, but if you are able a reply would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,
[Torrid]

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

I've moved!

No, the World is still here, although primarily somnambulant. I've got other things going that are taking up my non-work time, that I actually get paid to do. I'm still as plugged into the news as ever, but my writing time is devoted elsewhere.
Where is elsewhere? Right here. FantasyTutor.com opened this week, and I'll be doing columns, a football-themed version of the World called Hashmarks, and the weekly rankings that I did last year for FFtoday.com.

I made the switch this offseason because I think FantasyTutor has a great concept: on-demand fantasy assistance. If you sign up for the season, you get your own site email address, and you can ask any of the Tutor staff a question--about trades, pickups, even a full team or league analysis. And 24/7, you'll get a response within 30 minutes. I know from being a fantasy player for so long, that the game is time-sensitive. Lineup submission deadlines, trade offers, waiver pickups--all of them have the pressure of either beating the deadline or jumping on a play before someone else does (or with trades, before they change their minds). Before I make the move, sometimes I wish I had an objective source to bounce the idea off of. That's exactly what this service is. Unless you have a huge operation like CBS, ESPN or even someplace like Footballguys.com, just selling fantasy info that can be gotten for free won't make you any money. But I think there's definitely a market for custom information delivered quickly to your email box.

If that sounds like a pitch, it is. I think it's a great service, and for a full year it's also very reasonably priced. Even if you don't pony for the service, this is where I'll be doing my writing, and I'd be pleased if you stopped by now and again if fanalytics is your bag.


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Well isn't that special?

It seemed like just yesterday (OK, maybe it was) that the Senate GOP was gearing up for not only what they thought was a key vote commandoed into the back end of the 108th Congress, but a strategic coup that would draw base-exciting fodder from the 'nay' votes of Sens Kerry and Edwards. Both men of the chamber have selected the delightfully noncommittal but politically effective (and most reasonable position if you are actually against gay marriage) "against gay marriage, but not as an amendment" gambit. One wonders what being against gay marriage as the President constitutes, if you say up front "I disapprove, but will do nothing." Perhaps this is the grace of nuance, that a fundamentally inactive position can also be a fine interpretation of best legislative practice--let the personal conviction not interfere with the general liberty. I shall not bugger, yet I will defend to the death your right to bugger. (How pumped do you think the Marines would get on pep talks of "Let's go do our jobs, so that American college girls have the opportunity to hook up and raise a family of adopted Asian children as wife and wife! Hoo-AHH!")

This principled inactivism was such a good response to one of the thornier questions an elected official might face, that something funny happened--a few Republicans decided, "Hey, that's not too bad." Key in this decision was the baldly punitive way the amendment was written. As much as Wayne Allard and Marilyn Musgrave tried to argue that the second sentence only prevented states from having it foisted upon them, every time some of these moderate Republicans read the text, the more it seemed like it was preventing ANY state from recognizing gay marriage in the first place. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. But now the bold talk of a single up or down vote to put people on the record, didn't seem so appealing to those who were considering going on the record FOR it. Some had pure Constitutional questions--for God's sake don't try to fuss with the founding documents during an election year--but others among the Chafees and Snowes and Collins were those who just weren't sure about a change to the Constitution that could stand to codify a restriction on the pursuit of happiness.

And the numbers climbed. What the GOP had hoped would be something approaching 60, was now definitely under 50, and horrifically threatening to bottom out around 38. When Santorum talks hopefully of 45 for a procedural vote tomorrow, you know he was throwing in some folks he was bluffing he could turn. Liberal or conservative, the worst kind of vote to be on record of is a losing one, especially a badly losing one, so now Bill Frist is in trouble: he's got a major policy push almost explicitly designed to use the Congress to set up an issue in the Presidential election, and suddenly people are starting to notice that's exactly what it is.

Here is the primary danger of playing to your base--your base is necessarily less than half of the total, which means at any time you could be on the ugly end of the stick if an issue turns against you. The vote that was supposed to isolate Kerry/Edwards as the team pushing a cultural elite value set, has become the vote that threatens to isolate the Bush/Cheney team as the ones pushing a vindictive and bigoted value set. The best way for the campaign to avoid any actual and lasting damage in this fiasco is to get the GOP leadership to back off the up/down vote, schedule a procedural one that doesn't have any primary effect, and not talk any more about it this year. Which is of course what they have planned for tomorrow and the near beyond. Whether it becomes hurtful to the BC04 campaign would only be gravy to Kerry/Edwards and the gay rights movement in general. The result here is that it does not stand to redound to BC04's favor, which--based on the political capital they spent on it--was a major goal for their re-election plan.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

New phases

Well, anyone who's stopped by the last couple weeks has noted the lengthy dormancy of the World. Being away from the machinery is one reason; the other has begun in earnest. I'm an officer in a new fantasy company, whose name I'll drop once it opens in a couple of days. I'll be providing a fair bit of the weekly content, and the same rankings I was doing for FFToday.com in previous years. Now would be a great time for me to thank Mike publicly for running a valuable site that has seen fit to solicit my opinions for five years. I'm indebted to his collegiality and willingness to largely let me write as I pleased. I made the change on totally amicable terms, and of course wish Mike (and Mike MacGregor as well) all the success for the new season.

Obviously, I'll be a little busy. I am still as plugged in as ever to the political race and the issues that surround it, and I am still adding links (check out Larry Sabato's predictor pages) and reflexively copying URLs of things that look interesting. I don't sense I'll be abandoning the World at all, but the goal of trying to keep something fresh on it every day was met for about 6 months, and with the new work I won't have the time to maintain that pledge. I should be saying plenty about the Edwards nomination; there are a wealth of good articles of all flavors on the choice at RealClearPolitics.com, surprisingly so for that site. Personally I think it was the smartest choice overall, the most politically aware without being specifically pandering, and despite his immediate lack of experience, John Edwards is IMO the best combination of character, ideas and presentation of anyone running for any federal office save Barack Obama. (Notice the Obama '12 murmurs? Can't even get this one in the can and people are talking about 3 terms of Democrats. Jumping the gun a little?) But others have plenty to say, so go read them instead.

I do have a political story to tell, straight from the exurbs of Portland. I've had a Bush/Cheney: You're Fired! bumper sticker slapped on my car for a few months now, and somewhat predictably we've gotten plenty of thumbs-up and supportive yells (at least they sounded and looked supportive). Tonight (disclosure: on the way to the liquor store) I got my first negative reaction. It was a young woman (25 at ABSOLUTE best; more likely 17-19) driving a Honda Odyssey minivan. She passed me on the right, and as I looked over she leaned out the window and flipped me off.

I was in a fairly good mood to that point, listening to some early Velvets, so my first instinct was to behave as if she'd waved the entire hand. I smiled and cheerfully flipped her a return bird. She sped away...

...all the way to the next traffic light, where we pulled even. We avoided eye contact (or perhaps just me), then I passed her by. She came on again several hundred yards later, and this time quadrupled her finger output, clearly chanting "four more years!" I smiled, gave a big thumbs up, and kept Waiting for My Man. Isn't it great when we can all trade our reasoned discourse in a convivial setting?

Thanks to you who have tuned in faithfully to make the effort to write faithfully worthwhile. I'll be in and out; please keep the mail coming.

TJ

Monday, June 28, 2004

Eloquence on the early transfer

In transit today; all things steady for now but in deterioration on the illness front...had to take a moment to post this. Thanks to everyone for the kind words offered as balm on our wounds.

The CPA turned over the keys to the car (but not the garage) two days early this morning, in an apparent attempt to avert having a ceremony upset by attacks either in the rest of the country or on the ceremony itself. That gambit seems to have worked; everything went as (hastily) planned. On the other hand, I think the administration was hoping for a more photo-op-ready sort of transfer, with networks covering the signature process and whatever other pomp they could wring from the circumstance. If they had good information that things were going to be chaotic had they gone through with the normal plan, obviously this was the smart tactic, and kudos for sacrificing the political moment in the name of safety. But in its hurried and friends-and-family-only kind of way, the transfer comes off looking like a Britney Spears nuptiual. From the AP article on the transfer comes about as concise an evaluation of the whole ordeal as I've seen:

"Iraqis are happy inside, but their happiness is marred by fear and melancholy," said artist Qassim al-Sabti. "Of course I feel I'm still occupied. You can't find anywhere in the world people who would accept occupation. America these days, is like death. Nobody can escape from it."



PS--saw F911 on Saturday; full review when I get back into the World.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Leave of absence

Due to a grave family illness, Torrid will be away from his world until about July 1st. Be safe, and remind your loved ones that they are indeed loved.

--TJ