Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dodgers beat Angels without getting a hit

Now for this blog's first ever sports item: The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Los Angeles Angels 1-0 yesterday even though they had a no-hitter pitched against them. Although I, a former Angeleno who has not lived in the city for 20 years, cannot name a single player on either team, this news evoked a powerful nostalgia in my Dodger's heart (which, like that of former manager Tommy Lasorda, still bleeds Dodger blue.)

I was a fan in the era of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Maury Wills, and the rest of the team that drove us entirely crazy during the 1960s. In those days you could get into the game free with coupons on the bottom of a Fritos box; usually they were games with second-string teams like the Cubs and the Mets (who were terrible in those days), although they gave us one or two Giants games each season. My friends and I discovered a door in the upper decks that was always open and led to a little-used stairwell . We would scoot down several flights of stairs, shoot across the corridor into a restroom in case a security guard was watching, and then stroll nonchalantly into the box seats area to take up whatever empty places were there.

A typical Dodger cycle went as follows: Sandy Koufax would strike out 12 batters in 6 innings, start getting tired and wild, and be taken out for Ron Perranoski; the next day, Don Drysdale would get off to a shaky start but eventually squeak by with a 5-3 win; third day, Johnny Padres would get hit for 2 homers in a row in the second or third inning and Perranoski would come in to pitch the rest of the game. Some rookie would pitch the fourth game, and then it would all start over again. At least, that's how I remember it.

Photo: Sandy Koufax throwing one of his blazing fastballs

Political Update: Glenn Greenwald posts an important, must-read commentary on the folly of the idea that Democrats, including of course presidential candidate Barack Obama, must "move to the center" if they want to win in November. A couple of excerpts:

In the 2006 midterm election, Karl Rove repeatedly made clear that the GOP strategy rested on making two National Security issues front and center in the midterm campaign: Democrats' opposition to warrantless eavesdropping and their opposition to "enhanced interrogation techniques" against Terrorists. Not only did the Democrats swat away those tactics, taking away control of both houses of Congress in 2006, but more unusually, not a single Democratic incumbent in either the House or Senate -- not one -- lost an election.


So what, then, is the basis for the almost-unanimously held Beltway conventional view that Democrats generally, and Barack Obama particularly, will be politically endangered unless they adopt the Bush/Cheney approach to Terrorism and National Security, which -- for some reason -- is called "moving to the Center"? There doesn't appear to be any basis for that view. It's just an unexamined relic from past times, the immovable, uncritical assumption of Beltway strategists and pundits who can't accept that it isn't 1972 anymore -- or even 2002.

Beyond its obsolescence, this "move-to-the-center" cliché ignores the extraordinary political climate prevailing in this country, in which more than 8 out of 10 Americans believe the Government is fundamentally on the wrong track and the current President is one of the most unpopular in American history, if not the most unpopular. The very idea that Bush/Cheney policies are the "center," or that one must move towards their approach in order to succeed, ignores the extreme shifts in public opinion generally regarding how our country has been governed over the last seven years.

Wise observations from Greenwald. So why, then, is Obama doing just what he advises against?

Greenwald Update: Apparently Glenn has gotten into a debate with Keith Olbermann about Obama's support of the FISA wiretapping revisions. He comments on it here, with links to Olbermann's remarks. This might seem like inside baseball to those unable to cover the blogosphere like a blanket, but the issues are critical in my view. Despite how far ahead Obama is ahead of McCain in the polls, the worst thing he could do is be another Mr. Flip-Flop--have the Democrats learned no lessons from the Kerry campaign of '04?

More on "centrism": This time from Paul Krugman in the New York Times. Krugman raises the critical question of whether Obama is a truly transformative candidate or just another Bill Clinton who will compromise and "triangulate" and not make any fundamental changes. Krugman seems worried that it might be the latter. His punchline:

One thing is clear: for Democrats, winning this election should be the easy part. Everything is going their way: sky-high gas prices, a weak economy and a deeply unpopular president. The real question is whether they will take advantage of this once-in-a-generation chance to change the country’s direction. And that’s mainly up to Mr. Obama.

Actually, it's not entirely up to Obama. It's also up to his supporters and how willing they are to make excuses for their candidate, and how willing they are to keep him on the progressive path.

And more from Greenwald: This is the money graf from a more recent post.

The real danger is that those who defend Obama the Candidate no matter what he does are likely to defend Obama the President no matter what he does, too. If we learn in 2009 that Obama has invoked his claimed Article II powers to spy on Americans outside of even the new FISA law, are we going to hear from certain factions that he was justified in doing so to protect us; how it's a good, shrewd move to show he's a centrist and keep his approval ratings high so he can do all the Good things he wants to do for us; how it's different when Obama does it because we can trust him? It certainly looks that way. Those who spent the last five years mauling Bush for "shredding the Constitution" and approving of lawbreaking -- only to then praise Obama for supporting a bill that endorses and protects all of that -- are displaying exactly the type of blind reverence that is more dangerous than any one political leader could ever be.

And with this, I think this blog has posted enough on this topic for today. Go Dodgers!

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