The Chicago White Sox defeated the Minnesota Twins this evening, 1-0. The White Sox advance to the playoffs and the Twins go home. I'm delighted that Minnesota lost. If that's schadenfreude, then so be it. I can never forgive the Twins for what they did to my beloved Detroit Tigers in 1987 or 2006. (Yes, it still hurts—very much, in fact.) Although I dislike the White Sox, I was happy to see Jim Thome get the winning home run. He's a class act. Texas Rangers announcer Josh Lewin told the story about how Thome couldn't make an interview with him, but sent someone in his stead and later apologized. That tells you everything you need to know about the man.
The playoffs are set. In the American League, the ludicrously named Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim host the wild-card Boston Red Sox. The Tampa Bay Rays host the White Sox. In the National League, the Chicago Cubs host the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Philadelphia Phillies host the wild-card Milwaukee Brewers. That's two teams from Los Angeles and two from Chicago. New York City was shut out this year, which pleases me to no end. Choke-Rod has now played 15 seasons without reaching the World Series. Won't it be amazing if Joe Torre wins a World Series with a team (the Dodgers) other than the Yankees? What if Manny Ramirez plays his former team, the Red Sox? Interesting story lines!
I usually make predictions at this time, but I'm convinced, after many years of doing so, that predictions are meaningless in the postseason. Any team can win it all. Nobody knows which team will get hot, and all it takes to win it all is to get hot. As for which teams I would like to see in the World Series, the answer is Tampa Bay and Milwaukee. October is almost here, my friends. There is nothing like October baseball.
It's nice to see that there is at least one adult at NBC News: Tom Brokaw. Here is a New York Times story about recent changes at the network. Key paragraphs:
In an interview here after Sunday's broadcast [of Meet the Press], Mr. Brokaw said that over the summer he had "advocated" within the executive suite of NBC News to modify the anchor duties of the MSNBC hosts Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews on election night and on nights when there were presidential debates. Their expressions of strong political opinions from the MSNBC anchor desk has run counter to the more traditional role Mr. Brokaw played on "NBC Nightly News" for more than two decades. NBC said earlier this month that the two hosts would mostly relinquish their anchor duties to Mr. Gregory, while being present as analysts.
"Keith is an articulate guy who writes well and doesn't make his arguments in a 'So's your old mother' kind of way," Mr. Brokaw said. "The mistake was to think he could fill both roles. The other mistake was to think he wouldn't be tempted to use the anchor position to engage in commentary. That's who he is."
Olbermann isn't very smart if he can't keep his roles distinct. When I enter a classroom, I leave my personal views and values at the door. I doubt that five percent of my Ethics students know what my normative ethical theory is. I doubt that five percent of my Social and Political Philosophy students know what my normative political theory is. I doubt that five percent of my Philosophy of Religion students know what my religious views are. The reason they don't know these things is that they have no bearing on the class! I'm an educator, not an indoctrinator. If a student happens upon this blog and learns about me, fine; the blog is in the public domain, accessible to all (and none). What I don't do is blur the line between my personal life and my professional life. That Olbermann can't keep his political views out of his reportage or analysis shows either that he's stupid or that he lacks self-control. Neither reflects well on him.
Mr. Cohen is right that “behind Palinism lies anger.” But I think the anger goes much deeper than the disappointment about America’s declining place in the world.
Gov. Sarah Palin has tapped into a huge rage against what her followers see as America’s loss of spirituality and virility, for which they blame liberalism, internationalism and elitism.
Palinism is not just some angry version of conservatism. In its passionate rage, Palinism has a religious component that expresses a faith in the cleansing power of war.
Ms. Palin comes from a church that believes we are in the “end times,” that Armageddon is nearly upon us, and that those who have accepted Christ will be purified in the great fires soon to come. What is new is that Ms. Palin could very soon be in a position literally to make those fires happen.
Jonathan Hale Watertown, Mass., Sept. 26, 2008
Note from KBJ: Two can play this game. Barack Obama belongs to a church that (1) considers the United States evil, (2) tells black people to avoid "middle-classness," and (3) preaches racial hatred.
Less than three hours from now, the Chicago White Sox host the Minnesota Twins in a one-game playoff for the American League Central Division title. The winner goes to the playoffs; the loser goes home for the winter. I'll be watching, but it'll be hard, since I hate both teams with a passion. How could anyone not want Ozzie Guillen to lose? The man is insufferable. But the Twins have been very hard on my beloved Detroit Tigers over the years. Remember two years ago, when the Tigers faltered down the stretch, only to lose the division title to the Twins on the final day of the season? I want revenge for that debacle, even if it's the White Sox rather than my Tigers who exact it. The only good thing about tonight's game is that one of these detestable teams must lose. I, therefore, will be celebrating, no matter what happens.
I did my first bike rally on 30 September 1989, in Seagoville, Texas. Three days ago, I did my 441st rally. That's 441 rallies in 19 years, which is an average of 23.2 rallies per year. My goal is to do 1,000 rallies. What are your goals? Explain why they are inferior to mine.
On the way home from school today, I listened to ESPN radio. The host was talking to former football and baseball player Deion Sanders about the recent incendiary comments by Dallas Mavericks basketball player Josh Howard. In case you're unaware of the controversy, Howard was videotaped at a celebrity function saying that he doesn't care about the national anthem (which was playing), since, as he put it, "I'm black."
Howard has since apologized for the remark. Sanders was asked about the remark and the apology. Sanders said that people don't understand elite athletes. I'll paraphrase from memory: "People don't know us. They don't know what makes us laugh or cry or grieve. They tend to believe what we say."
Excuse me? Do you believe what you say? If so, why should I not believe what you say? Is Sanders saying that nobody should listen to what athletes say, even when they're talking about the games? It's all very confusing. And what's the connection between "people don't understand athletes" and "people shouldn't believe what athletes say"? If anyone understands Sanders's logic, please elucidate.
Addendum:Here, in case you haven't seen it, is the incendiary video.
Paul Krugman¹ says that on economic and financial matters, John McCain "scares" him. I suspect that a great many Americans are scared of what Barack Obama would do to the economy if he were elected president.
¹"Op-Ed columnist Paul Krugman has the disturbing habit of shaping, slicing and selectively citing numbers in a fashion that pleases his acolytes but leaves him open to substantive assaults" (Daniel Okrent, "13 Things I Meant to Write About but Never Did," The New York Times, 22 May 2005).
The editorial board of the New York Times can't resist intervening in California politics (as though California voters care what elite New Yorkers think). What follows is the board's editorial opinion, with my commentary interspersed.
Preserving California’s Constitution
California voters will have a chance in November to protect the rights of gay men and women, and to preserve the state’s Constitution. They should vote against Proposition 8, which seeks to amend that Constitution to prevent people of the same sex from marrying.
This paragraph is question-begging. The question is whether "gay men and women" have the right to marry. You can't protect a right unless it exists. As for "preserving" the state's Constitution, the board should know that constitutions can and sometimes should be amended. If they weren't meant to be amended, why do they contain amendment provisions?
The measure would overturn a firmly grounded State Supreme Court decision that said everyone has a basic right “to establish a legally recognized family with the person of one’s choice.” It said the state’s strong domestic partnership statute was inadequate, making California the second state to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. Massachusetts did so in 2004.
Calling a decision "firmly grounded" doesn't make it firmly grounded. If the decision is firmly grounded, as the board says, why did three of the seven justices dissent?
Whether this important civil rights victory endures is now up to California voters. Opponents of giving gay couples the protections, dignity and respect that come with marriage are working furiously to try to overturn the court ruling through Proposition 8. It is our fervent hope that Californians will reject this mean-spirited attempt to embed second-class treatment of one group of citizens in the State Constitution.
Not everyone views the decision as a victory. Some view it as a travesty of justice. As for supporters of Proposition 8 "working furiously," what are its opponents doing, playing Scrabble? Why the one-sided language, which implies that only one side is emotional? The term "mean-spirited" is risible. Everyone in California has exactly the same right: to marry a person of the opposite sex. Are those who favor polygamy being accorded second-class treatment? What about those who want to marry children, or their dogs, or blood relatives?
If passed, Proposition 8 would add language to the State Constitution stating that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Supporters of the amendment complain about the “activist” judges who wrote the court decision. But the majority in the 4-to-3 ruling was acting to protect a vulnerable group from unfair treatment. Enforcing the state’s guarantee of equal protection is a job assigned to judges.
There is nothing "unfair" about limiting marriage to heterosexual couples. Justice consists in treating likes alike and unlikes differently. The board must show that there are no relevant differences between heterosexual and homosexual couples. It has made no attempt to do this. It is hoping that use of the word "unfair" manipulates impressionable readers.
It is true that in 2000 California voters approved a ballot measure recognizing only heterosexual marriages as valid. But since then, the public has grown more comfortable with idea of marriage equality. The California Legislature passed a measure to let gay couples marry in 2005, and another in 2007. Both were vetoed by the Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who took the wrong position—that the change had to come either from the courts or through a ballot initiative.
If "the public has grown more comfortable with the idea of marriage equality," then Proposition 8 will fail! If it passes, then that's a sign that the public has not grown more comfortable with the idea of marriage equality. What is the board afraid of? Why is it hell-bent on thwarting the will of the people?
To his credit, Mr. Schwarzenegger is now among those opposing Proposition 8. To his discredit, John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, is in favor of restoring marriage discrimination. Barack Obama opposes the initiative, as do California’s senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats.
Hilarious! The board likes Schwarzenegger when he's on its side, but not when he is opposed to it. As for John McCain being "in favor of restoring discrimination," that depends on what "discrimination" means. If it means making a relevant distinction, then yes, he's in favor of discrimination. If it means making an irrelevant distinction, then no, he's not in favor of discrimination. The board is trying to get mileage out of the ambiguity of "discrimination," which is disgraceful and insulting.
The proponents of Proposition 8 make the familiar claim that legalizing same-sex marriage undercuts marriage between men and women. But thousands of gay and lesbian couples have been married in California since the May ruling and marriage remains intact.
That claim may be familiar, but it's silly. The case against homosexual "marriage" has nothing to do with undercutting heterosexual marriage. It has everything to do with justice and common sense.
Similar discriminatory measures are on the ballot in Arizona and Florida. They also should be rejected.
The measures are discriminatory all right, just as it is discriminatory to limit the right to vote to human beings, to limit the right to drive to the sighted, and to limit the right to abort to women.
Three years ago today, as part of my daily blog routine, I posted a letter to the editor of the New York Times. It was by John J. Sullivan, a New York lawyer. Through the magic of Google, John found the post and commented on it. He has been a faithful reader of this blog ever since. John's only discernible fault—but it's a big one—is liking the New York Yankees.