Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Rolling out its big political message for the month, President Obama and VP Biden have both, to varying degrees, expressed frustration at the base of the Democratic Party for "whining," and are telling Democrats everywhere to get out and vote.  As much as I like Obama and his Administration, I have to say this total argument is completely idiotic, and goes back to what I have said about the Democratic Leadership - they don't listen to their base at all.

First of all, and to be clear, I am a Democrat.  I have always been a Democrat, and I have voted in almost every election held since I turned 18 (the 1994 General, and the 1996 Primary are the exceptions because absentee ballots were hard to come by when I was in college).   I'm going to vote in November, and I will vote Democrat down the line.  Moreover, almost every whiner is going to vote Democrat in November as well.  That's because we're engaged in politics and we have always been.

But you know who isn't engaged? The Obama voters.  In 2008, Obama did the unthinkable - he drew millions of people, who would not have otherwise voted, to the polls.  Each and every one of those voters were not deeply engaged, and had been discouraged from politics before.  And rather than whining about the economy, or health care, or any number of the issues the Administration has floundered on, they will stay at home come election day.  That is, unless Obama reengages them, encourages them, inspires them, and draws them in the way that only Obama can.

That said, let me add a few additional points - the problem with the whining isn't that liberals are whining, its that the whiners have been right, and the Administration has been wrong.  Bloggers like me have been right about the size of the Stimulus, right about bipartisanship, right about health care, right about DADT, right about Blanche Lincoln, right about Joe Lieberman, and right about virtually everything else.  Okay, maybe "right" is too strong of a word.  Perhaps a better word is "more correct." Regardless, the point remains - virtually every liberal blogger can pull up an old post, show it to the Administration and say, "I told you so."

But more than being right, the Administration forgets that it needs people like me to do more than just vote - the whole operations of the Democratic Party depends on people like me volunteering time, donating money, and drumming up the support of my friends.  If we're not engaged, (and I have almost checked out of this race), then the whole Party operation collapses. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

About that Tea Party. . .

Holy crap - the Tea Party's victories last night were simply astonishing.  Astonishing in how absolutely crazy the candidates are.  Right now, there seems to be race to out crazy each other on the Senate side.  From O'Donnell's anti-masturbation stance to Angle's objections to Reid's linking to her website, crazy is out and about on the Right.  Don't get me wrong, Alvin Greene, the Democratic candidate for Senate in South Carolina is also crazy, but he's not getting any institutional support (unlike the Republican candidates). 

That said, to call these candidates conservative is a complete misnomer.  Rather than have a philosophy of governance, the Tea Party candidates espouse positions without any ideology behind it.  So cutting taxes, for instance, has become an ideology in and to itself, rather than a long term goal.  It is policy without any philosophy behind it.  And that's a shame because it removes any hope of compromise, because the policies aren't a means to an end, but an end to themselves.  It is also where a Tea Partier differs from movement conservatives like my friend Bogart, who takes positions based upon an ideology of smaller government.  If O'Donnell has her way, government will be anything but small (as it attempts to prevent masturbation).

But I suspect that there is something else at play.  In the 2008 Election, the electorate chose the safe, establishment nominee of John McCain, rather than an insurgent like Huckabee.  As a result, most of the die hard, grassroots Republicans were demoralized until McCain selected Sarah Palin.  But, I get the feeling that there's a lot of leftover anger towards the GOP establishment over the Presidential election and over the last four years of the Bush Administration and the Tea Party is playing into that anger.

How this all plays out is anyone's guess, but I remain concerned.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Foodie Blogging

This idea is kinda been playing in my head for awhile.  Like half the country, I grew up eating Chinese food, and loving it.  For the most part, though, I don't eat Chinese much anymore because the Chinese restaurants in my neighborhood aren't great (though the Mandarin House isn't bad).  And that's completely strange because my neighborhood, and the surrounding neighborhoods, are some of the best restaurant areas in all of San Diego.  Its like all of the Chinese restaurants have been replaced with Thai restaurants.  Part of the problem, I think, is that many restaurants are either ridiculously outdated, cater almost exclusively to Chinese patrons.

Its the latter of these two types of restaurants - the one that caters almost exclusively to Chinese patrons - that holds the most promise.  The food at China Max, Spicy City, Ba Ren, Emerald, and others, is quite good - and its food that draws people in.  So, here's my restaurant idea for San Diego's interior - a Chinese restaurant that uses local produce as much as possible (playing into the locavore movement), and serving craft beer and cocktails. 

I got the idea from San Diego Beer Week when Ba Ren presented a beer tasting menu.  Now sure, this would be a blatant rip-off of the Linkery - and I'm sure Jay Porter has this on his agenda - but how cool would it be to have a place that could serve good beer with good Chinese food?  Look, if Jayne's Gastropub and Shakespeare's can make English food cool, how hard would it be to make Chinese food, with all of its complexity and depth of flavor, cool? 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

And Now For Something Completely Different. . .

With the political realm getting more and more depressing day by day, I figured I'd turn to a happier subject - the Padres! Not only are the Padres in first place, but they just swept the Dodgers to right the ship after a painful 10 game losing streak (though, to be fair, the Dodgers have given up).

Now, I have a theory about why the Padres have done so well this year - the weather.  Okay, so last year, the Padres did very well down the stretch, having one of the best records in baseball for the second half of the year.  Unfortunately, their first half of the season was so awful that it didn't mean all that much.  Regardless, it looked like going into this year, the Padres would do about the same, or better, if they got good production from their young players.

Here's the thing - they didn't.  Everth Cabrera, Will Venable, Tony Gywnn, Jr., and Kyle Blanks have all underperformed this year.  But the Padres have been in first place since May for one big, big reason - totally and completely ridiculous pitching.  If you look at the stats, you'll see that the Padres lead the league in almost every pitching category, and their bullpen has an ERA of around 2.*  So, to win, the Padres' offense doesn't need to be good, just not terrible.  And the offense this year falls between mediocre and reasonably good.

A lot of people point to Petco Park as the key reason for the Padres' success, others point to the Padres' talent in the bullpen.  Both of those are factors, but the key difference, the one that is getting the Padres to the playoffs (hopefully), in my humble opinion, is the weather.

The weather in San Diego this summer has been completely bizarre - the low cloud formation that plagues us every spring (aka, "May Gray," "June Gloom" or "El Velo") lasted until mid-August.  With the low clouds comes relatively cool weather, and higher humidity, both of which make the baseball break more when its pitched, and move less when its hit.  So as the pitcher throws the baseball to a hitter at Petco, his curveball curves more in the cool, humid air at Petco, making the ball harder to hit.  And then when the ball is hit, because its traveling through thicker air, the ball travels less than it normally would.  All of this makes for a superior pitching.  The Padres' hitters, meanwhile, are used to the conditions and have already adjusted for it.

Part of what makes me think that the weather has a role here is that when the low cloud thingy stopped in mid-August, the Padres went on a ten game losing streak, with the bullpen giving up leads almost every night.  Then, the low clouds and cool weather returned, and suddenly the Padres are back to playing as they have all season. 

*For you stat geeks, I know that ERA is a bad indication of a pitcher's abilities, but I don't understand all the sabermetrics stuff.  I'm sure that there are a few statistics to describe how awesome the bullpen has been, and please share them if you want.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Short and Obvious - Messaging the 2010 Campaign

Okay, in a nutshell, every Democratic incumbent should have the following message to the voters for 2010:

"The Great Recession is bigger than anything any of us expected.  After thirty years of deregulation, spending on unnecessary foreign wars, and financial bailouts, the economy crashed.  In one fell swoop, trillions of dollars walked out of the economy, creating economic conditions not seen since 1934.  While the Stimulus and Health Care Reform did a lot to stabilize the economy, there is much, much more to do.  That's why, I promise to do whatever it takes to get our economy moving again.  Unlike my opponent, I will not let my Party's politics interfere with your family's well-being."

Naturally, no Democrat outside of Alan Grayson will say any such thing.  Grayson might, but that's because he actually understands the whole point of politics and political messaging.  Ugh.

A quick note for Bogart - not only does the GOP have an easier sell, but really all they have to do is convince voters that they're not completely crazy.  That might be too tall an order for some Republicans (Sharron Angle, Joe Miller, Dan Maes), but most will probably do okay - unless John Boehner manages to fuck it up.  Seriously, that guy must have gotten his political lessons from Harry Reid.