Wednesday, October 25, 2006

An article about personality differences between Tiki and Ronde Barber (which I must admit I enjoyed in spite of myself) gives Ronde the chance to utter this gem: "We were more like me before Tiki came [to New York]." Not often a person gets a chance to say something like that, is it?

The New Jersey Supreme Court managed to simultaneously frustrate the left and the right this afternoon by ruling 4-3 that same-sex couples must be granted "the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples," though not necessarily "marriage." I know you can't please all the people all the time, but come on, Justices: at least make an effort.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The New York Times writes about an exhibition of self-portraits by an artist with Alzheimer's:

When he learned in 1995 that he had Alzheimer’s disease, William Utermohlen, an American artist in London, responded in characteristic fashion.

"From that moment on, he began to try to understand it by painting himself," said his wife, Patricia Utermohlen, a professor of art history.
Nine of the portraits are collected in a chronological slideshow on the NYT's site, and they are heartbreaking.

(If this doesn't make you want to vote for Ben Cardin, I don't know what will.)

About a month ago, I gave some thought to running a 2006 version of my wildly popular (ahem) 2004 election pool. An utter lack of interest on the part of approximately 97% of the 2004 participants, however, led me to dismiss the idea. But good news for the remaining three percent: there are other places to turn.

  • Fantasy Congress. Build and manage a team of Congressmen, just like fantasy [baseball, football, golf, curling...]. A piece of hard-won advice: don't draft Sen. Mike Vick in the first round. Sure, he can run, but he can't throw for shit, and he's always injured. Trust me. (And thanks to a well-placed article in the New York Times, there'll be no shortage of new leagues for the next few months, so join away.)
  • Midterm Madness. The Washington Post lets Capitolheads go hog-wild, allowing users to pick the winner of each of the year's 468 Congressional races. Top prize, nationwide: $100. (Could you tighten the purse strings a little, there, Post?)

The third Lieberman/Lamont [and Schlesinger!] Senate debate took place last night, and it was as fireworky as ever. From the Hartford Courant:

Lieberman ignored the format and gave a three-minute opening statement in response to the opening question on Iraq.

"So much for no opening statement," said the moderator, ABC newsman George Stephanopoulos.
And it pretty much went downhill from there. After Lamont refused to back down from claims made in his commercials, Lieberman said: "If I were still attorney general of Connecticut, I would have sued you for unfair trade practices." Which prompted Lamont to "[get] to his feet and [take] a few quick steps to Lieberman." The Rumble in New London!

And in Republican highlights, also-ran Alan Schlesinger scolded the crowd - following a bizarre LaRouche-related incident that was actually one of the more predictable parts of the evening - by saying, "Show some respect to Sen. Lieberman and the audience. Now!" Having not seen the video, I can't really say for sure how funny that was. But in my experience, it's hard to say something that a reporter can transcribe as "Now!" without sounding like a jackass. So that was probably pretty good.

Makes you wish you lived in a state with a competitive Senate race, doesn't it?

Three blurbs that I meant to post yesterday (all thanks to the Hotline):

  • In its endorsement of Bill Nelson for Florida's Senate seat, the Lakeland (Florida) Ledger wrote: "Katherine Harris' bid for the U.S. Senate bears more resemblance to a Monty Python skit than a campaign for high public office." Can't argue with that.
  • The Los Angeles Times spent 1,500 words on Stephen Colbert's "Better Know a District" segment. Good times.
  • The Washington Post asked 14 athletes and coaches for their advice to Congressional Republicans. Antawn Jamison encouraged the RNC to "stay positive"; John Riggins suggested they "get the hell out of town."

Monday, October 23, 2006

On Friday, the Washington Post reached into its archives and dusted off a biennial classic: Could Bill Clinton be vice president?

The answer, it seems, depends on who you ask. Most of the judges and law professors interviewed by the Post agreed that a strict reading of the Constitution wouldn't prevent a former two-term president from serving as the nation's Number Two. But the dissenting side has some heavy hitters:

Judge Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit said by e-mail that "read literally, the 22nd Amendment does not apply" and therefore Clinton could be vice president. "But one could argue that since the vice president is elected . . . should he take office he would be in effect elected president. Electing a vice president means electing a vice president and contingently electing him as president. That interpretation, though a little bold, would honor the intention behind the 22nd Amendment."
I know Posner's a hero to a lot of people (or at least, to a lot of law professors, which may or may not be the same thing), but I think he's wrong on this one. The wording of the 22nd Amendment1 seems clear: Clinton can serve as president, he just can't be elected again. And the 12th Amendment's V.P.-limitation2 doesn't contemplate election; only "eligibility." Clinton is ineligible to be elected to the office of president; he's not ineligible to serve.

The drafters of the 22nd Amendment were very smart folks. And even if they weren't, they had very smart attorneys. It's not as though they couldn't have foreseen this issue, and they chose to use the word "elected" anyway. Elected is elected. Posner's interpretation is too bold.

1 - "No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice" (emphasis added, obviously) (though wouldn't it be funny if there were actually italics in the Constitution?).
2 - "No person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President."

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Barrack Obama told Tim Russert this afternoon that he's giving some thought to White House '08:

"I don’t want to be coy about this — given the responses that I’ve been getting over the last several months, I have thought about the possibility, but I have not thought about it with the seriousness and depth that I think is required," Mr. Obama said. "My main focus right now is in ’06 and making sure that we retake the Congress. After November 7th, I’ll sit down and consider it."
I like Obama a lot, and in 2012 or 2016, you'll have a hard time keeping me away from the volunteer entrance at Obama HQ. But 2008? I just don't think it's a good idea.

I suppose that's partially because I'm such a big fan of John Edwards, who'd be forced to compete for a demographic that he's already largely won over (the "me" demographic). But right now, inexperience is an even bigger problem for Obama than it was for Edwards in 2004. With the exception of political journalists and the citizens of Illinois, there are, what, fourteen people in the country who had even heard the name Barrack Obama three years ago? Running too early could taint him permanantly, and it would be a terrible shame for someone as talented as Barrack Obama to have his wings clipped by an ill-timed campaign. So please, Senator: wait. See what happens. And give it a whack during the next go-'round.

(None of this applies, incidentally, to an '08 ticket with Obama at the bottom. That, I think, would be terrific. But I don't see it happening.)

Update: Bob Herbert agrees.
My feeling is that Senator Obama may well be the real deal. If I were advising him, I would tell him not to move too fast. With a few more years in the Senate, possibly with a powerful committee chairmanship if the Democrats take control, he could build a formidable record and develop the kind of toughness and savvy that are essential in the ugly and brutal combat of a presidential campaign.

Fire Joe Morgan points out an amusing happenstance: before the playoffs began, nineteen of ESPN's "experts" (their word, not mine) predicted the winner of the World Series, and not a single one of them picked a team that made it beyond the LCS (7 Twins, 6 Yankees, 3 A's, 2 Dodgers, and 1 Mets). Take that, Vegas!