Friday, August 29, 2008

Huge



So, last night after the speech, Mrs F was ribbing me about the fact that I was going to stay up late reading everyone's take on a speech I had just watched. She also tried to get me to face the "fact" that nobody was watching except but voters who had made up their mind—in-the-tank Dems or ’wingers looking to get their hate on—and that it wouldn't make a difference.

Hopefully, this indicates she was quite wrong.
NEW YORK - Barack Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention was seen by more than 38 million people. Nielsen Media Research said more people watched Obama speak than watched the Olympics opening ceremony in Beijing, the final "American Idol" or the Academy Awards this year.

And that doesn't include PBS or CSPAN.

That's pretty fucking huge. Since I spend so much time immersed in politics, it's hard for me to pull back and relate to what the layman might think (or not think). From everything I read, the convention speech is when people start paying attention, and, if they are undecided, that speech and the debates are usually what can impact them.

She had me second-guessing that somewhat, but I still believed that speech could be a game-changer. And now, those ratings indicate it was seen by a LOT of people, not all of whom can be "decided."

When only 100 million people bother to vote, getting over 38 million of them to watch the speech where you define yourself and your vision is pretty damn good.

[h/t Cesca]

Get a Good Look


This is the last known picture of this boot—
It is now firmly lodged up John McCain's ass.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Big Dog Allowed

We've seen the worst of Bill Clinton these past few months, Tonight, we saw the best. And it's mighty good.
Andrew Sullivan, noted Clinton-hater.

Yeah. It was that good. And Kerry gave the speech of his life tonight as well. Biden was strong, and then Obama brought it home with his cameo. All I could think is, "Who the fuck is voting against this?" And, "What can the GOP pull that can outdo this?"

Which inevitably leads to, "What the fuck is the matter with this country that this is even a race?"

Monday, August 25, 2008

What Does This Picture Have to Do With Joe Biden's Iraq War vote...


Yes, Joe Biden voted for the Authorization to Use Military Force in Iraq. But was he the same breed of sheep as everyone else who did? Was it solely political calculus like is suspected of Hillary? Or, total capitulation and trust in the President?...

You might recall a certain Rose Garden ceremony with a certain flesh-haired loser Democrat who sold out the Party (and as it turns out, the country) by going behind closed doors and crafting deal with Bush and the Republicans.

But who did Dick Fucking Gephardt really screw over? David Corn reminds us...
One of Biden's better moments came in the run-up to the war with Iraq. In the fall of 2002, the Bush administration, claiming Saddam Hussein had amassed loads of WMDs that he could hand to al Qaeda for attacks against the United States, was demanding that the House and Senate grant Bush the authority to invade Iraq whenever he wanted. Rather than cave to Bush, Biden, the chairman of the foreign relations committee, worked with Republican Senators Richard Lugar and Chuck Hagel to craft an alternative: a resolution that would allow Bush to attack Iraq only for the purposes of destroying Iraq's WMDs and only after seeking UN approval. If the UN withheld permission, Bush would have to come back to Congress and prove that the threat was so "grave" that only military action could eliminate it. This was a wily legislative maneuver that could have averted a war. (And Biden told me and Michael Isikoff during an interview for our book, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, that he had received backdoor encouragement from Secretary of State Colin Powell.) But Biden's bipartisan measure was ultimately derailed by a fellow Democrat: House minority leader Richard Gephardt, who essentially accepted the White House's blank-check approach. After Gephardt did that, Republican senators told Biden, How can we be to the left of Dick Gephardt? "I was so angry," Biden later said. "I was frustrated. But I never second-guess another man's political judgment."

Biden went on to vote for the Iraq war resolution. Which demonstrated his Washington-ness. He had tried for something better. When that failed, he, too, accepted the prevailing notion. But his pre-vote effort to create a much more limited resolution will afford the Obama-Biden ticket a small measure of cover when its foes point out that Obama's main charge against John McCain (he supported the Iraq invasion) can also be applied to his running-mate.

As Corn points out, Biden still voted for the War, but what he wanted was NOT the bullshit he ended up putting his name on.

It was a mistake, but not as glaring as would appear at first glance, and much more excusable and reconcilable.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Everyone and Their Brother on Joe Biden...

Ezra:
If vice-presidential picks are a reflection of a campaign's conclusion midway through the general election, then this is what Biden says about the Obama campaign's lessons thus far: Voters don't believe in change. Not yet, anyway, They're open to it. But they're skeptical. They need to be persuaded, cajoled, convinced.

There was a hope in the early days of the Obama campaign that simple, sharp difference would be enough. Obama was different in aesthetics and experience and age and ideas. Different would assert change. Hence the long and enlivening Kathleen Sebelius boomlet. Obama/Sebelius would have represented change. Visually, her and Obama on a stage together would have been the most powerful image of political transformation in decades. But a choice like her presupposed belief. Otherwise, you'd be adorning a cathedral that had no promise of parishioners.

As the election wore on, though, and Obama's poll numbers slackened and fell, they realized they needed to make their case. They needed an arguer. Someone able to make the case that the other guy is wrong, and Obama is right. That's, fundamentally, what Biden represents.


John Cole:
They look good together, and Biden looks like he is having the time of his life... The other thing is that Biden is a good enough of a speaker that he doesn’t seem completely over-shadowed after hearing Obama.

And I really do not think it can be underestimated how much the beltway boys love Biden. The Matthews/Russert/Imus axis of loudmouth love the guy, and that isn’t a knock on Biden.


The Rude Pundit:
Biden's son is heading to Iraq. That's the kind of political street cred it takes something like five and a half years in a prison camp to earn...

[from Friday]...Rude Pundit hopes Obama picks Biden for VP - that motherfucker's a pit pull who enjoys prancing in the bloody sprinkler left behind after he gets his jaws locked on an opponent's jugular.


Andrew Sullivan:
[liveblogging the announcement] 3.45 pm. I get it: Biden is the older, working class, Catholic guy who tells the nervous white ethnics that this guy is for real. This is about Ohio and Pennsylvania and Michigan. Less yuppie hope; more working class grit. No wonder they chose Springsteen to kick it off.

[Later analysis] We've learned how disastrous a vice-president can be, in the current administration. No vice-president in American history has done as much damage to national security, constitutional integrity and the moral standing of the United States as Dick Cheney. Biden has aspects of the Cheney pick - he's older, more seasoned and more adept at foreign policy than Obama. But no one imagines that Obama would delegate - and all but abdicate - critical decisions to Biden the way Bush has to Cheney.

Nonetheless, it seems obvious that Biden speaks his mind frankly, and would have real heft and independence in the office. He knows enough that foreign leaders call him in international crises. That reassures me, as we face some grim days in the coming years in the war on terror.

This strikes me, in other words, as a pick for a candidate who is already very serious about governing - and making calls that forgo a campaign buzz for the sake of the country if he wins. Putting country first, you might say.

The more I think about it, the more I like it.

Digby:
He is undisciplined and unpredictable --- but I have to tell you, I think the Obama campaign could use a little bit of that at this point. They are control freaks and I don't think it's such a bad thing for them to have a little bit of a loose cannon in their midst.


Yglesias:
The major pro is that this signals as desire to take the argument to John McCain on national security policy which is a wise decision — the American people deserve to hear a full-spectrum debate about the issues facing the country rather than a positional battle in which one party talks about the economy and the other talks about national security. It’s also the case, as I noted previously, that Biden’s ascendancy augurs well for the SUPERTRAIN even though this aspect of his record isn’t especially well-known or close to the core of his political persona.

Biden also has the lowest net worth of any U.S. Senator. Combined with Barack Obama whose prosperity is a very recent consequence of book sales, it’s definitely a ticket that can argue they have more personal acquaintance with the struggles of middle class American life than John McCain or George Bush or recent Democratic nominees like John Kerry and Al Gore. It also seems to be a pick that the elite media is enthusiastic about, which isn’t necessarily an idea I’m enthusiastic about, but I suppose definitely counts as an asset.

[...]I’d be much happier if Joe Biden had opposed the 2002 Iraq AUMF. And even beyond that, I don’t always agree with his substantive positions on the issues. But one clear asset he has is that like only a handful of other prominent Democratic leaders (Wesley Clark one among them) Biden consistently approaches national security debates with an attitude of confidence that projects a desire to win the argument rather than wriggle away from it.


Obama in his introduction:
[Biden] he picked himself up, worked harder than the other guy, and got elected to the Senate -- a young man with a family and a seemingly limitless future.

"Then tragedy struck. Joe's wife Neilia and their little girl Naomi were killed in a car accident, and their two boys were badly hurt. When Joe was sworn in as a Senator, there was no ceremony in the Capitol -- instead, he was standing by his sons in the hospital room where they were recovering. He was 30 years old.

"Tragedy tests us -- it tests our fortitude and it tests our faith. Here's how Joe Biden responded. He never moved to Washington. Instead, night after night, week after week, year after year, he returned home to Wilmington on a lonely Amtrak train when his Senate business was done. He raised his boys -- first as a single dad, then alongside his wonderful wife Jill, who works as a teacher. He had a beautiful daughter. Now his children are grown and Joe is blessed with five grandchildren. He instilled in them such a sense of public service that his son, Beau, who is now Delaware's Attorney General, is getting ready to deploy to Iraq. And he still takes that train back to Wilmington every night. Out of the heartbreak of that unspeakable accident, he did more than become a Senator -- he raised a family. That is the measure of the man standing next to me. That is the character of Joe Biden."


And the man himself, in his first day on the job
Biden: "Your kitchen table is like mine, you sit there at night after you put the kids to bed and you talk about what you need. That's not a worry John McCain has to worry about. He'll have to figure out which of the seven kitchen tables to sit at."

Friday, August 22, 2008

All the Experts Agree...

Fareed Zakaria agrees with me on McCain being a danger and a jackass. Here he is on McCain's bluster about throwing Russia out of the G8 (which we can't do, btw):
What McCain has announced is momentous -- that the United States should adopt a policy of active exclusion and hostility toward two major global powers. It would reverse a decades-old bipartisan American policy of integrating these two countries into the global order, a policy that began under Richard Nixon (with Beijing) and continued under Ronald Reagan (with Moscow). It is a policy that would alienate many countries in Europe and Asia who would see it as an attempt by Washington to begin a new cold war. [...]

The single most important security problem that the United States faces is securing loose nuclear materials. A terrorist group can pose an existential threat to the global order only by getting hold of such material. We also have an interest in stopping proliferation, particularly by rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea. To achieve both of these core objectives -- which would make American safe and the world more secure -- we need Russian cooperation. How fulsome is that likely to be if we gratuitously initiate hostilities with Moscow? Dissing dictators might make for a stirring speech, but ordinary Americans will have to live with the complications after the applause dies down.

I always liked that Zakaria guy. Partly because he's a sensible expert on world affairs, and partly because he's the Indian Willem Dafoe.






Vice Versus

People all over the blogosphere are crapping their drawers over Obama's forthcoming-any-time-now pick to fill out the ticket. Why is he letting the suspense build? What does it mean? How long will he wait? Will it doom or save his chances?

First of all, there is no candidate that is perfect. None. Most have downsides (Biden, Webb, Richardson)—some significant (Hillary—the definition of high risk, high reward—could be huge in either direction). And those without foreseeable downside (Sebelius, Bayh, Dodd)? Low impact, no upside.

I'm not sure how much if any impact this pick will have on the election, but looking forward to actually serving, I can tell you the only one of them I feel strongly that I DON'T want as Vice President—Hillary Clinton.

As for the politico.com column flying around that "it won't be Hillary because she was never vetted for V.P" is garbage. You can be sure that Obama did all the oppo research needed months ago, when he was actually in a deathmatch with her.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

On the Ground

I just checked to see if there were any Obama campaign events happening in Western North Carolina anytime soon...


Seems there are 44 events within a 50-mile radius of Asheville. Now, I know Asheville is a liberal zone (for the South) but that's pretty good. It gets rural in a hurry around here, and there are probably plenty of areas that lean Republican.

What's coming up for local McCain supporters?


That's what I like to see.

"A noun, a verb and P.O.W."


You might have noticed the McCain campaign trot out the candidate's history as a P.O.W. to explain or excuse any number of issues—despite the fact that the campaign and McCain himself maintain that "they don't like to talk about it."

It's their go-to trump card and applies to everything from:

• His favorite football team
• His healthcare plan
• His publicly humiliating his wife
• The possibility of his cheating in Saturday's Q&A forum.


But today, they played the P.O.W. card in an instance I thought there's no way they could wedge it in...

Yesterday, McCain was asked during an interview about the economy, "how many homes he owns." He couldn't answer the question (link).

Seriously. He didn't know. His actual response was, “I think — I’ll have my staff get back to you.”

Obama pounced in his speech later that day and with an excellent (and lightning-fast) response ad (video here). The McCain Camp's first counter was with the tired and dishonest arugula and preposterous Hawaii elitism attacks on Obama. But today they went the distance...

“This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years — in prison,” spokesman Brian Rogers told the Washington Post.


At what point will the media start to treat this like the bullshit it is? I think Joe Biden's debate riff (down thread) was the tipping point against Guiliani's 9/11 rhetoric that allowed the media to put aside the fact that while 9/11 itself wasn't funny, Guiliani's abuse of the event had officially become a running joke.

I think it's safe for Stewart and Colbert to take the first cracks at this, and it will spread from there.

UPDATE: Added Toles cartoon. h/t Sullivan.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Biden, Your Time

I know I said Joe Biden was dead to me after the odious Bankruptcy Bill of 2005, but I can't help but feeling that the Obama campaign—and Democrats in general—need someone willing to throw a freaking punch.

Evan Bayh? Screw that. If we're going with a Senator that voted for the Iraq War, he better bring more to the table than Bayh. Joe Biden has a fastball, and he ain't afraid to throw it.



UPDATE:
Kevin Drum concurs. (See, Toast?)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What's the Deal?


The lack of a good NPR station here in Asheville is pushing us towards the purchase of a satellite radio...Anybody got anything to say on that? Since we want the NPR, it has to be Sirius.

UPDATE: What I really want is a radio with TiVo capability...who's going get on that development and make a fortune?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Reading Assignment

Publius at Obsidian Wings.

The Dangerous Warmongering John McCain

A taste:

In short, his is a world of good versus evil, where threatening and using force is always necessary, and where wildly diverse countries are lumped together as evil “autocracies.” No matter the country (Serbia, Iraq, Georgia), no matter the circumstances — the problem is always the same (evil), the solution always the same (threaten or use force).

[...] this is arguably the most dangerous aspect of the McCain “Doctrine” — the tendency to quickly classify things we don’t like as “evil”. Indeed, this is precisely what we’re seeing with Georgia — and we’ll see it again in a McCain administration. The assumption of “evil” is what leads to overbroad responses — after all, everything should be on the table if we’re fighting evil (this same initial assumption leads to torture, lawbreaking, etc.).

Read the whole damn thing. This guy is fucking frightening. Pat Buchanan (!) said that John McCain will make Dick Cheney look like Ghandi. That's starting to sound like an understatement. As cleek put it in the comments at ObWi, "he's not running for Bush's 3rd term; he thinks Bush was a lightweight."

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's the proliferation, Stupid.

Andrew Sullivan gets to the heart of the biggest danger of this whole Russia/Georgia dust-up:
[...] There is a balance to be struck between the West's obvious interest in getting Russian cooperation in the war on Jihadist terror and preventing Russian meddling in its near-abroad. There's a trade-off here. And allowing Russia its traditional sphere of influence may be much less of a headache than trying to police its every move and losing cooperation on such vital matters as securing loose nukes.

What worries me is that McCain's eagerness for more conflict in the world - pushing Russia and China into a corner - is not in the best interests of the United States. It may be moral; it may be exciting; it may provide the great national purpose McCain thinks we all need to feel. But it ignores the hard trade-offs involved, and perpetuates the whole with-us-or-against us bluster of the last eight years. We need more of that? More enemies? Less diplomacy? More conflict?

For the last seven years, Republicans and their neo-con lackeys (masters?) have trumped up the threat of Islamic jihad and/or the Axis of Evil to be the "threat of the 21st century." Cheney and his military-industrial buddies have mired us down in conventional ground wars that never needed to happen at the expense of the less testicular (and less-profitable) work of diplomacy and cooperation to secure the United States from the only REAL threat out there—

Proliferation.

"Evil" countries like North Korea and Iran want a nuclear weapon as a deterrent. Not to use on us, or even Israel. And since we went into Iraq, they are understandably working double-time to get one. Having a nuke is the ace in the hole that would ensure the next President like Bush (um, McCain?) will keep the hell out of their country. If Iran suddenly announced a successful nuclear weapon, do you think they would actually launch it? Of course not.

For that matter, if Saddam actually had WMD, do you think Bush would have invaded? I don't. The threat was the pretext for war.

The real danger to the U.S. isn't the march of the Red Army or small-time thugs in Iraq—it's the nuclear weapons and material floating around in many of the former Soviet republics getting into the wrong hands...you know, like the hands of the guy responsible for 9/11 who's still at large.

So for eight fucking years the Administration has all but ignored the nukes that already exist in favor of bluster about nuclear fantasies of a few bad governments. They've done next to nothing about the supply, and even less about the guy with the demand—Osama Bin Laden.

--

And McCain is even worse. He's a military guy. Steeled in a Cold War mentality. A military guy who's waited his whole life to get to the position that upstart, but connected, punk from Texas stole from him eight years ago. He's not interested in being President during a time of peace and prosperity—that shit is for pussies—he longs to be a War President. And nothing would suit him better than a resurgent binary struggle against an enemy like Russia.

Russia. The country we need to cooperate most closely with to control proliferation.

Excellent.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Georgia (Not) On My Mind

Wondering what's going on with the little war over in Russia? Don't listen to John McCain—he's full of crap. Read The War Nerd for some entertainment with your information.

UPDATE: Publius wonders how what the Russians in Georgia is any different than what the neocons here want from our government and, in particular, Israel's...
Because we’re so good, we can use force whenever and wherever we want. We won’t be excessive of course, because we’re constitutionally incapable of being wrong.

These militant nationalists also share a paranoid sense of decline. The great nation is always in danger of being overrun or embarrassed. There’s always some threat among us. Thus, there’s always some need to re-establish our strength and greatness – preferably through force. Because we’re so good.

My point is that the problem with the Russia response is, at bottom, the same problem with the response to the response. That problem is nationalism. Russia is doing exactly what the neocons want America and Israel to do.

Generally speaking, though, nationalism is almost always the problem. Looking abroad, we usually find ourselves at odds with various countries' nationalist wings...

[...]In America, though, the ideological soulmates of these people are the Bill Kristols of the world. Like the militant nationalists in every country everywhere, they think their country is the best country. They like clamoring for war to fight decline and to demonstrate strength.

If anything, though, the Russian nationalists have a leg up on the Iraq War cheerleaders because their invasion actually served a strategic military purpose. Allowing Georgia into NATO would be a humiliating disaster for Russia. It would also be a genuine military threat (particularly for a country still traumatized by WW2). Further, there was actually a military attack on Russia interests.

In Iraq, by contrast, there was no strategic threat. No attack. Nothing. But we invaded, bombed the crap out of their cities, and deposed their sovereign (if despicable) government.

To be clear, I deplore what Russia is doing. But I’ll do without the outrage from Bush and McCain, thank you. Russia is simply implementing tactics that are part and parcel of these men’s worldview and foreign policy philosophy – i.e., the philosophy of militant nationalism. Sometimes we call it neoconservatism.

Yeah, pretty much.

What McCain and others deliberately leave out of the discussion is that Georgia picked this fight. It is a total mismatch and they botched it horribly (failing to cut-off the tunnel?), and now they are getting their ass summarily kicked.

Russia, is overdoing it and punishing Georgia severely, but this ain't the Soviets on the march—no matter how much McCain pines for another Cold War.

UPDATE: An excellent on-the-ground analysis of the Georgian conflict. Plenty of blame to go around. Money quote:
Now the United States has ended up in a situation in the Caucasus where the Georgian tail was wagging the NATO dog. We were unable to control Saakashvili or to lend him effective assistance when his country was invaded. One lesson is that we need to be very careful in extending NATO membership, or even the promise of membership, to countries that we have neither the will nor the ability to defend.

In the meantime, American leaders have paid little attention to Russian diplomatic concerns, both inside the former borders of the Soviet Union and farther abroad. The Bush administration unilaterally abrogated the 1972 anti-missile defense treaty and ignored Putin when he objected to Kosovo independence on the grounds that it would set a dangerous precedent. It is difficult to explain why Kosovo should have the right to unilaterally declare its independence from Serbia, while the same right should be denied to places such as South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The bottom line is that the United States is overextended militarily, diplomatically and economically. Even hawks such as Vice President Cheney, who have been vociferously denouncing Putin's actions in Georgia, have no stomach for a military conflict with Moscow. The United States is bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and needs Russian support in the coming trial of strength with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

Instead of speaking softly and wielding a big stick, as Teddy Roosevelt recommended, the American policeman has been loudly lecturing the rest of the world while waving an increasingly unimpressive baton. The events of the past few days serve as a reminder that our ideological ambitions have greatly exceeded our military reach, particularly in areas such as the Caucasus, which is of only peripheral importance to the United States but of vital interest to Russia.

Obama has mistakenly jumped on the NATO-for-Georgia bandwagon as well. It's not a good idea.

Obama's REAL Birth Certificate Located...

Click to embiggen...



The best part? I'll probably get this as an email from my wingnut uncle tomorrow.

[h/t: Jesse at Pandagon. His triumphant return is the best thing to happen to the internets all year.]

Future Product Safety Inspector

Check Mrs. F's site for the combined hilarity and wisdom of Kid Furious...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Edwards Part 2: Electric Boogaloo

The Rude Pundit has perhaps the best analysis of this whole situation (he certainly has the most graphic and profane). The Rude One posits that the Party elders knew all about this shit, and there was never a real danger of Edwards becoming the nominee. I'm not sure I'd go that far, but he nails just about everything else—especially the bullshit of trying to tie this fiasco in any way to Obama or the Democraic brand.

The column is also the source to this article which features this absolutely clueless and completely self-absorbed quote from Rielle Hunter, the other woman...
Asked about Elizabeth Edwards, who is unusually well-liked by political operatives and reporters, Hunter told reporter Jonathan Darman, "She does not give off good energy. ... I've only met her once.... She didn't make eye contact with me."

Um, perhaps because you were fucking her husband?!?! And maybe having terminal cancer along with an unfaithful spouse was dragging down her "good energy."

Edwards

A quick thought on the whole John Edwards Affair, since I was calling out The Unofficial John Edwards Fan Club for their radio silence on the topic...

I read Lee Stranahan's HuffPo piece a few weeks back, and I wasn't surprised a bit. This shit just goes with the territory of the super-ambitious and powerful. Be they athletes or politicians—a feeling of invincibility coupled with plenty of time away from home is a recipe for disaster.

But as far as John Edwards, specifically, this doesn't surprise me either. It's not news to regular readers around here that I wasn't buying everything John Edwards was selling. There has always been a lot to like about the guy as a candidate, but for me, there always remained something I didn't like, and couldn't quite put my finger on.

But this whole thing fits right in with that uneasiness. I just never felt like he was completely trustworthy—and I am already grading on a politician's curve.

Ultimately, he's not running for or sitting in a public office anymore, and it's between him and his family, but the sheer balls it took for BOTH John and Elizabeth Edwards to pursue another run at the White House with this shit ready to explode and destroy the Democratic comeback should he have been the nominee is staggering.

Like with Bill Clinton, my attitude is, "can you keep it in your fucking pants for four years, please?"

--

I don't see how this does anything to hurt Obama by the way. His family life seems air-fucking-tight. And this is a discussion McCain and the GOP want nothing to do with. Even the press seems uneasy with this lest they be forced to confront their overwhelming hands-off approach to McCain's marital history. It pretty much seals the deal that Edwards won't be V.P. however.

UPDATE: This story isn't exactly helping Edwards' stock with me.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Still the Man-ny


[Yeah, this is old news, but I'm still putting it up. I wrote most of this at the trade deadline, and never had a chance to finish it.]


(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Let's get this right out there. I am a Manny fan. Even going into this season's annual "Manny wants to be traded/the Sox want to trade Manny" soap opera, I was firmly on the side of keeping the right-handed half of the best one-two punch in baseball—even if neither Manny not Papi were quite living up to their own reputations this season. Ramirez is clearly still an impact player.

Frankly, I love having the guy on the Sox. The dreds and uni pants cut like too-big jeans? The Grill? Hilarious. I love "Manny being Manny."

His detractors? The vast majority of fans and radio people in Boston are jackasses, and give Manny WAAY more shit than he deserves, and appreciate him far less than he has earned. He has put together a dominant Hall of Fame career in Boston and won TWO FUCKING CHAMPIONSHIPS after an eighty-year drought. All he gets in return is grief. Well, that and $20 million a year.

In Boston, if you are a fiery white guy with a grimy helmet, all you have to do is lace 'em up. (see: Youkilis, Kevin; Nixon, Trot; Pedroia, Dustin). Strike out with the bases loaded? Just throw your shit around the dugout, all is forgiven. Ground into a double play? Bounce your helmet into the fifth row.

If you are reserved or stoic, you get killed (see: Drew, J.D.) And if you are flaky or have a big contract, you better not be a minority.

I think it is unquestionable that race plays a factor in Boston, no matter how much they want to pretend otherwise. Manny got NO credit for the fact that he worked fucking hard to be one of the best two or three right-handed hitters of his generation. He is a first-ballot HOFer—yet Peter Gammons (!!) attempted to throw that aside last night, likening Manny's mercurial attitude to fucking steroid use, and should give voters something to consider. That's a fucking OUTRAGE.

And it would NEVER have been uttered about a white player.

Manny's hitting prowess commonly was tossed off as some kind of "savant" skill that comes naturally to him without effort—as if he could just roll out of bed and hit .320 /40/ 140. That's bullshit. Any time he periodically fell short of his own lofty standard, it was because "he didn't care" or "wasn't trying." That's fucking crap. Manny is on the wrong side of 35. His bat is slower. His body is susceptible to things that don't show up on the MRI. He won't maintain that pace over a season. He is declining as a player because of age and mileage—not a lackadaisical attitude.

Again, white guys are good through grit and determination, guys like Manny are "naturals" and gifted.

Manny was a student of the game and worked every bit as hard as Ted Williams. No one watched more video or studied the pitchers more than Manny. What's more, no one has ever accused Manny of using PEDs. I'm always reminded of Bill Simmons excellent line contrasting Giambi and Sheffield's complex steroid abuse with Ortiz and Manny being "a couple of goofy Dominicans who between them could hardly mix up a batch of Thera-Flu."

* Manny played the game clean, with enthusiasm much of the time, and in the face of a fan base that never really appreciated what he gave them. They took it for granted to be sure, but never truly appreciated it. On top of that was a GM and ownership team that repeatedly tried to trade him and never gave him any respect (he preceded them in Boston). Considering this love/hate scenario, it's no wonder this deadline dance occured every year. Despite that Manny still produced and brought home the hardware.

This season it seems the relationship was totally poisoned in Boston, and a deal was the only real solution. I can live with that, and, in retrospect I like the trade—we got a good young player back. Both Jason Bay and Manny are thriving in their new environs and I always like to see that. Here's hoping Manny carries the Dodgers to the post-season, and the Sox don't suffer without him.

Thanks, Manuel Aristides Ramírez Onelcida, for being the best clean-up hitter the Sox ever had. Thanks for two World Championships, and thanks for being Manny, Manny. Good luck in L.A.

*Edited to clean up the awkward transition where I picked up the post after a week.

MORE: Fellow Manny-Men and far better writers than I, Charlie Pierce (here and here) and Chad Finn (here and here) pay tribute.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Slammed

Busy at work, and each night at home brings a home improvement project that eats up my blogging time.

Last night? Cutting and drilling holes all over the house so we can use some of these new appliances. Oh, and spraining the shit out of my wrist when the drill locked up while I was cutting the hole for the dryer vent.

Tonight? Spent down in the basement running black pipe to the kitchen and laundry room for our new (gas) stove and dryer...made extra-fun by having one hand operating at about 50%.

But tomorrow, Mrs F can actually cook dinner. And that's a win for everyone.