Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

Archive for September, 2008

Shea Stadium: game over

Posted by metaphorical on 28 September 2008

Long before baseball playoffs, before Super Bowl III, before the Miracle Mets, the Jets still played at Shea, and the two sports seasons hardly overlapped. The Amazin’s would schedule their last series for the road (half the teams have to anyway), and the Jets traveled to their first game (half the teams have to anyway) and during that final week of the summer season the grounds crew would convert the field from a diamond to a gridiron and Mike Medina and I would bike there after school and watch.

If it were early enough in the week the bullpen would still exist and that’s where we would go to throw a football back and forth and watch the crew move rows of seats around or fill in the dugout. Mike would throw one high overhead and I was George Sauer stepping back to catch a perfect Broadway Joe spiral. In my mind the day is always blue for the sky and green for the outfield and the air is clean and silent except for the distant roar of jets at LaGuardia.

I have a lot of memories of Mets and Mets games—the doubleheader where only 3 runs were scored in 30 innings (the only game I remember my mother going to); getting Ron Hunt’s autograph at the department store around the corner from my neighborhood library; eating two tables away from Joe Torre at an Italian restaurant in nearby Corona; the game when Ron Swoboda caught three fly balls in one inning and I proudly told my father that that had to be a major league record—but that’s my only fond memory of the stadium itself. It’s an ugly little park, stodgy, overly symmetrical, named for a political hack. But the pattern of orange and blue tiles that surrounds its exterior evoke for me the early 1960s, when Jack and Jackie were still in the White House and my parents never fought.

I was there the night the Mets took first place for the first time in club history. That summer, 1969, I was 13. I would open up the Long Island Press after school to see who was pitching. If it was Seaver or Koosman I would ask my mother—this was the year before she started working, the year before their divorce—for $1.70, enough for a general admission ticket and two subway tokens. I don’t remember who the Mets played but they won the first game of a doubleheader, and Montreal lost their game. For the next hour or so, the Mets led the league by a few percentage points, until they dropped the nightcap. First place was as ephemeral as these memories—as ephemeral, it turns out, as the stadium itself.

The Mets played their last game at Shea tonight. I don’t don’t know who won, and I don’t much care these days. I’ll miss the sport not at all and the stadium only a little. Baseball is too expensive, too spoiled, too full of itself as the national pastime. The playoffs have trivialized the season, and instant-replays on a giant television screen trivialize the time spent at the park. The season stumbles into frosty October now. That’s not a problem for the grounds crew, because the Jets decamped to a bigger, cleaner—if no prettier—stadium in New Jersey decades ago. Goodbye, Shea.

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Butterflies are free to lie

Posted by metaphorical on 14 September 2008

It’s been two weeks since the Washington Post reported that Sarah Palin was a founding director of one of Ted Stevens’ 527 groups, and as far as I can tell, the story hasn’t been pushed forward much at all. Where are all the investigative journalists who spent a decade rooting around the barren stumps of Whitewater? Where are the Democratic Party’s Swiftboaters and other attack dogs?

Back in late July, “Sen. Ted Stevens, the nation’s longest-serving Republican senator and a major figure in Alaska politics since before statehood, was indicted Tuesday on seven felony counts of concealing more than a quarter of a million dollars in house renovations and gifts from a powerful oil contractor that lobbied him for government aid,” to quote the lead of an AP story at the time.

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin began building clout in her state’s political circles in part by serving as a director of an independent political group organized by the now embattled Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.

Palin’s name is listed on 2003 incorporation papers of the “Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc.,” a 527 group that could raise unlimited funds from corporate donors. The group was designed to serve as a political boot camp for Republican women in the state. She served as one of three directors until June 2005, when her name was replaced on state filings.

527 groups are named for a provision of the IRS code under which “members of Congress can raise unlimited soft money from individuals, corporations and unions,” as SourceWatch puts it. “Under federal election law, members of Congress may raise only limited amounts of ‘hard money’ for their own campaign committees or ‘leadership PACs’ which aid other candidates. They may accept no contributions of more than $1,000 per election from an individual and $5,000 per election from a political action committee (PAC).”

527s are of course exactly the sort of thing the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms tried to reform out of existence. It’s more than a little politics-makes-strange-bedfellows that his running mate got her start on the long road to the vice presidency by cofounding one. For a Senator now under indictment.

Palin’s relationship with Alaska’s senior senator may be one of the more complicated aspects of her new position as Sen. John McCain’s running mate; Stevens was indicted in July 2008 on seven counts of corruption.

It’s just one more thing for which Palin needs to put on her best Janus makeup. According to AlaskaReport:

Palin, an anti-corruption crusader in Alaska, had called on Stevens to be open about the issues behind the investigation. But she also held a joint news conference with him in July, before he was indicted, to make clear she had not abandoned him politically.

On July 10, State Senator John Cowdery was the latest on a string of indictments in Alaska . Palin immediately called for his resignation. Twenty days later, Stevens was indicted on seven felony counts related to accepting illegal gifts. When asked if Stevens should resign, Plain replied that it, “would be premature at this point.” Alaskans received no explanation of why Stevens would be different from any other indicted elected official in Alaska.

Palin’s career has been short, but it already has a signature: a level of abuse of whatever levers of power she has newly wrapped her hand around that is remarkable even by Republican standards. Whether it’s hiring friends and firing enemies, gorging at the hog trough of pork barrel politics as usual (while wearing the shoulder sash of reformism), or simultaneously condemning Stevens and supporting him, she, like her new mentor John McCain, would do the putative flip-floppers of 2004 proud.

If Obama and the Democratic strategists can pin the Republican ticket’s wings to a sign labeled “hypocrisy” like a butterfly being mounted, they will win. There’s no dearth of raw material. But then, by 2004, there was no dearth of evidence of Bush’s incompetence, even before Katrina. What’s needed is for the media to take it all seriously, as seriously as they took the false claim that Al Gore claimed to invent the Internet, as seriously as they took Bush’s absurd talk of compassionate conservatism, as seriously as they took the Dean scream that never was, as seriously as they took the ridiculous charge that Kerry didn’t earn his war medals. For a change, this time they would even have the truth on their side.

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Palin vs McCain vs Reality

Posted by metaphorical on 5 September 2008


“Teach both. You know, don’t be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it’s so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both.”

“I’m not going to pretend I know how all this came to be.”

Sarah Palin, Alaska Gubinatorial Debate, October 25, 2006

MR. VANDEHEI: Senator McCain, this comes from a Politico.com reader and was among the top vote-getters in our early rounds. They want a yes or no. Do you believe in evolution?


First Republicans’ Presidential Candidates Debate, May 2, 2007

Global Warming

“I will clean up the planet. I will make global warming a priority.”
John McCain, Boston Globe, January 7, 2008

“The same human activity that has brought freedom and opportunity to billions has also increased the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Increased atmospheric carbon has a warming effect on the earth.”

—Republican Platform, August 26, 2008

“A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I’m not one though who would attribute it to being man-made.”
Sarah Palin, Newsmax, August 29, 2008


“There are billions of barrels of oil underneath the ground up there on the North Slope including ANWR. In Alaska alone we can supply seven years of complete crude-oil independence, and eight years’ supply of natural gas for Americans with ANWR (and) other areas of Alaska that we want to allow for development. That’s proof that Alaska can be a significant player in the world market.”

“ANWR would take five years to begin providing crude oil to our pipeline. But you have to consider that if we’d started this five years ago, then we wouldn’t be in this position right now. And who knows where we’re going to be in another five years.”

Sarah Palin, Investor’s Business Daily, Friday, July 11, 2008

I also believe that the ANWR is a pristine place and if they found oil in the Grand Canyon, I don’t think I’d drill in the Grand Canyon.’’

John McCain,June 2008

Additional oil production resulting from the opening of ANWR would be only a small portion of total world oil production, and would likely be offset in part by somewhat lower production outside the United States. The opening of ANWR is projected to have its largest oil price reduction impacts as follows: a reduction in low-sulfur, light crude oil prices of $0.41 per barrel (2006 dollars) in 2026 for the low oil resource case, $0.75 per barrel in 2025 for the mean oil resource case, and $1.44 per barrel in 2027 for the high oil resource case, relative to the reference case.

—Department of Energy report “Analysis of Crude Oil Production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge,” May 2008

Off-shore Drilling

“[W]ith those resources, which would take years to develop, you would only postpone or temporarily relieve our dependency on fossil fuels.

John McCain, May 2008

“[Offshore oil drilling would] be very helpful in the short term resolving our energy crisis.”

John McCain, June 2008

The projections in the OCS access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.

—2007 Department of Energy report “Impacts of Increased Access to Oil and Natural Gas Resources in the Lower 48 Federal Outer Continental Shelf.”

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