The Wisdom of Them Asses

You don’t hear much about candidates in California. Let’s face it – unless the candidate is *from* California, this is a safe Democratic state all the way around. Nobody would pump serious money into California on a national level, any more than they would pour mad cash into New York or Texas. The only stuff that gets any airtime around here are…propositions.

Propositions are not nearly as much fun as they may sound. As a callow undergrad, I would have taken to the notion of “proposition” like an Irishman to a bottle of (INSERT APPROPRIATE SECTARIAN WHISKY HERE). But apparently that’s not what it means here beside the Western Sea. As far as I can tell, it means that all you have to do is round up a bunch of signatures, and you can have damn near anything show up on the ballot, and if 50% plus one will vote for it, pow – you have completely circumvented the normal political process. Woohoo! Break the chains of gridlock! Popular democracy at its finest!

Eh, noooo….

“A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it. ”

-Tommy Lee Jones, Men In Black

Look, I’m a smart guy. That’s not ego or vanity talking, that’s documented by the State of Alabama with evidence going back 30 years. I have two degrees in political science and take an inordinate interest in the minutiae of the political process, as evidence by my logorrhea over the last year or so in this very space. You know what? I couldn’t tell you what half this year’s propositions are, let alone which way I should be voting, and I’m brilliant.

Now, if Wile E. Coyote, geeeeeeenius, doesn’t know which end is up – exactly what are the odds that the ten million people who are NOT as bright as me have a better grip on the situation or are even paying attention? I’ll give you a hint; they voted this as their governor:

(NB: I’m through taking S off these people about Alabama politics.)

So what you end up with is a bunch of ill-informed people voting on poorly-detailed notions based on opinions they formed by who ran the most ads during Dancing with the Steers or whatever it is. And you wonder how come the Golden State gets this reputation.

The problem is, though, it’s a handy way to completely circumvent the process. My understanding is that the whole thing came about at a time when the government was hopelessly corrupt in the first decade of the 20th Century, and this technique allowed the Progressives to work their way around the roadblocks of the era. What it’s turned into, however, is a way of dodging the entire legislative process by just appealing to people to vote directly. And because of the civic religion of American democracy, this idea that “why don’t you just let the people vote on it themselves?” is very nearly Holy Writ. What could be more right and proper than giving a direct voice to the people?

Problem is, “the people” are dumber than hammered snot. Which is how you end up with a whole slew of strange, absurd, and often mutually-contradictory items on the ballot. The most common coping mechanism around here – and one I find absolutely no fault with – is just to vote “No” on every single one of them. The way I see it, in 2008, putting something to a popular referendum is more or less a concession that you can’t get it done through normal government channels. And if you’re a small-government conservative type (and God knows I have certain minimalist tendencies in the realm of practical politics), what the hell could be worse than allowing people to directly add to the bulk and burden of government?

Look, maybe this is academic and professional bias from the old days, but when my leg hurts, do I go out and take a poll and ask people to vote on what to do with it? No, I go to the doctor and get it scoped. When my car is acting strange, do I start asking people to vote Yes or No on going under the hood and pulling wires? No, I take my happy ass to the dealership and let them outrage the honor of my checking account. When I got a toothache, I spend zippy time at a rally asking the crowd one by one which tooth I should try pulling.

Do I know all the ins and outs of California politics? Hell no. Why should I? I’ve got people to do that FOR me, and they’re getting a chunk of my hide twice monthly plus eight cents on the dollar every time I need another Nalgene bottle. And if I don’t like the people I’ve got, I’ll hire some more people. The miracle of modern civilization, the thing that separates us from Neanderthals and Geico pitchmen scrobbling around hunting and gathering, the thing that lets us have iPods and Guinness and six weeks off work if I’d just stuck with my first job, is specialization. And in the long run, it’s totally worth it.

Now, can I have my bloody TV back, or do I have to wait for Wednesday?


I thought it was unbelievable enough when Ralph Stanley actually cut a radio ad for Obama…but now it appears that the latest endorsement is none other than The Last American Hero.

Yes, it looks like Junior Johnson – THE Junior Johnson – has endorsed Barack Obama. For those of you who just think of Darrell Waltrip as the guy that goes “Boogity boogity boogity” and look funny when somebody talks about Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles in the Winston Cup, let me explain. Junior Johnson started life as a bootlegger, driving his daddy’s moonshine down from the holler in North Carolina in the 50s. He was never caught transporting in his entire career, and mostly laid off it once NASCAR’s Grand National series became a more profitable way to spend his time, but got popped helping his dad stack wood for the still and did some time in the Federal poke.

Afterwards, he became the first true superstar of stock car racing. He discovered drifting AND drafting. He beat everything and everyone else on the track, driving hell bent for leather every single week. He ran the entire 1963 season in a Chevy at a time when Chevrolet had pulled out of stock car racing altogether. He once broke an axle on his car, broke the spare axle, got a third axle from a fan who took it off his own car for Junior and broke that one too. And after retiring, his team went on to win six WInston Cups behind Waltrip and Cale Yarborough. He is, by any legitimate measure of Southern manhood, a stupendous badass.

I am incredulous. If this is legit…wow. Just plain f-ing wow.

Line of the Day

Yesterday at the chiropractor:
HER: Are you watching True Blood?
ME: Am I what?
HER: Probably not, it’s more a chick thing, all the Gothic Southern romance stuff. And lots of violent blood and sex.
ME: One prom was enough.
HER: (Unable to speak.)
ME: (grin)
HER: Does your wife grasp how twisted you really are?
ME: She said ‘I do’, didn’t she?
And EZ-E gets a nickel for the prom joke.

Could I be moving back after all??

The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room » Charles Barkley To Run For Alabama Governor in 2014:

NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley said he’s going to run for governor in Alabama.

“I plan on it in 2014,” Barkley told CNN’s Campbell Brown on Monday.

When asked if he was serious, the former Philadelphia 76er said, “I am, I can’t screw up Alabama.”

He added that his native state could only improve. “We are number 48 in everything and Arkansas and Mississippi aren’t going anywhere,” Barkley said.

Throwback Weekend

Let’s see: Alabama putting the wood* to a clearly-overmatched Tennessee team that couldn’t shoot straight…Vanderbilt managing once more to shit the bed** against a clearly inferior foe at a time when a win was critical to their future prospects…Republicans complaining that the media is pushing a meme of inevitability on behalf of a sprightly young Democrat for President…the Redskins whoopin’ that ass in the NFC East and tied for most wins at the halfway mark…SNL bringing the funny week in and week out…and most incredibly, pouring myself into bed at 2 AM after a night of assorted Baptist sin only to answer the bell at 8 AM and commence again – for the second weekend in a row?

When did it become 1992 again?

Rolling sixteen years off one’s personal odometer is very much like the same operation performed on used cars by the Sand Mountain dealers of my youth: sure, it might look newer and fresher, and you might be deceived into thinking it’s a much more capable machine than it is, but come Monday, you’re gonna see the rust on the undercarriage and feel the sludge in the crankcase and say “what the HELL have I done?” However, I have some decided advantages now that I didn’t have then:

* An extra decade-and-a-half of experience with the fruit of the vine/grain/cane. I know things now I didn’t know then, i.e. stick with one type of booze and don’t put too much of that sweet shit in it. Also, drink lots of water before, during and after, and take your ibuprofen.

* A good 50 pounds extra to help soak up all that booze. Yes, the waist size of my jeans has gone up six inches in sixteen years, but the flip side is that I don’t immediately start going loopy at the first whiff of bourbon.

* A girlfriend*** who is not psychotic, doesn’t drink, and can provide me with ongoing updates regarding whether it’s time to tap out or at least knock another 20 dB off my inside voice.

* QUALITY CONTROL. Miller Lite, Early Times, Boone’s – the swills of my youth are long gone. Nowadays, those of us who once pledged ourselves to the C.O.D. Club**** are snobbish enough that we drink only Guinness, or Maker’s Mark, or fine handcrafted cherry ciders, with occasional forays into a pleasantly oaken Napa cab or a fine single-malt that tastes like a beach fire. If you have to be a grownup, you may as well drink like a grownup.

I have successfully evaded hangover the whole way through these last two weekends, of which I am rightly proud, but I can also say in honestly that when the alarm rings, I’ll rise – but I’ll be damned if I’ll shine.

*Right now the only thing between Alabama and a trip to the national championship game is hubris. And as far as I know, Nick Saban doesn’t have time for that shit. Whatever they’re paying him, I don’t want to hear any caterwauling – name me one other coach, ever, that has taken a team from disaster to national title contender in one and a half seasons.

** SAME. OLD. VANDY. That’s right, I said it, it had to be said. There is not one single game the rest of the way (Florida in 2 weeks, then at Kentucky, home to UT, and at Wake Forest) that Vanderbilt will be favored in. Aside from the fortuitous arrangement of games to allow the 5 wins to come at the beginning of the year, and create the illusion of hope, there is nothing to suggest this team is any better than the many others who stalled on 5 in the last decade or so. Bobby may be credited fairly for getting the Dores from two wins a year to a reliable five, but I’m starting to think that it’s going to take a better coach to break through from five to seven, because you can’t build a successful team on the notion that you will never, ever make a mistake in the “itty-bitty things” phases of the game. Success doesn’t mean you never make a mistake, it means you can overcome a mistake. Which the Dores cannot.

*** For long-term committed and ceremonially-bound values of “girlfriend.”

**** If I still claimed any connection with the history of my undergrad institution, this would be the place for a chorus of something that sounds strangely like the middle-eight of “California Drinking Song.” Not for nothing were the club’s posted hours “Midnight to 4 AM.”

OK, this is funny…

So somebody apparently decided that my fairly lame workplace needs to do something fun…so in addition to the regular “happy hour” which no lie, is exactly like you’d expect an on-site government-run happy hour to be, they decided to bring in some sort of “science comedian.” Don’t know, never heard of him, and quite frankly wouldn’t be caught dead in one of these happy hours, because if I’m going to socialize after hours it’s sure as hell not going to be at WORK. (Socialize DURING work, sure, but once the clock strikes 6, I got my own thang.)

So far today, I’ve had at least two separate emails, cc:all, profusely apologizing for the offensive content of the comedian’s performance, which they had no idea about and hadn’t seen in their research and had no idea would be part of his act.

Now, I can understand how somebody could be misled. I mean, watching Sanford and Son, you’d never understand why Redd Foxx had to spell his name with an extra X…but if you owned, say, sixteen Redd Foxx albums, you might. (And if you actually saw his nightclub act, I understand that you’d come away thinking it should be spelled FoXXX.)

But seriously…what the hell counts as offensive science comedy? Did he endorse Lamarck in preference to Darwin? Did he mock Boyle’s Law? Make some rude allusions about thulium? Was there a sexual innuendo about Schrodinger’s Cat? Inquiring minds…

Before I die, I want to get the paste concession at this place. When I pass, I can be cremated on a pile of $100s.

Hangin’ Out Sunday’s Wash

“Gentlemen, it is better to have died as a small boy than fumble this football.”

-John Heisman

“Or throw another INT.”

-Stagger Lee

Not much you can say about that one. Georgia is indisputably the better team – mostly because Knowshon Moreno is faster than Walt Flanigan’s DAWG and will probably pick up another Heisman to go alongside Walker and Sinkwich – but I think Vanderbilt can stand toe to toe with any team in the country. The problem is, they don’t have enough to get over unless they do every single little thing right. The turnovers in the last two games have been the difference maker.

The less said about Longshore at Cal, the better.

In other news:

* When I finally go the way of all flesh, I insist that somebody round up a Dixieland band for my wake. In fact, I would like drinking, dancing, and probably only a couple of sappy tracks (probably a couple of Killers tunes and Springsteen singing the Unplugged version of “Thunder Road.”). There’s no reason you can’t show people a good time just because you’re, you know, done.

* Cash bar, though. I’m as Scottish dead as alive.

* I can still go out, knock down a half-dozen DRANKS, pour myself into bed at 2:15 AM and still arrive at breakfast at 8:30, on time, on target, and fresh as a !-ing daisy. However, as Chris Rock says, “just because you do it don’t mean it’s to be done.” All I can say is thank God the Skins don’t kick until 1:15.

* I like to think the youth of America find me colorful and entertaining, and in the proper setting – say, dinner – I’m a smashing guest. However, at age 36 and married, I have about as much function at a dance club as tits on a tree. I also question the efficacy of a bar that has Laphroaig but not Maker’s Mark. I mean, WTF, and what that place does to Guinness shouldn’t happen to Al-Qaeda. It is comical, though, to watch people rockin’ out to Bell Biv Devoe and think “you weren’t BORN when that came out.”

* I frequently wonder aloud to my lovely bride “why don’t we go out in Palo Alto more often?” Last night around 1:30, I figured it out – because it’s full of Palo Alto people, mostly Stanfurdites, and because there’s no Irish pub there.

* I see that the 703 no longer counts as “Real Virginia.” Based on what I know of Virginia beyond the broadcast reach of WJFK, I daresay that’s just fine. Mambo Sauce says that the new DC is the DMV – District, Maryland, and Virginia – and I find no fault with their assertion, especially since I am now off to the bar to watch the Skins handle their business. They’d better, anyway, or Bickel is going on suicide watch.

* The high-school kid at dinner next to me last night was literally young enough to be my own child. Does that make me some kind of old fart?

* My Buddy Vince Sez, “Beer is good.” The fact that his daughter is going to school dances may be a factor.


I Am A Bad Ass

If Karl Rove is a poor man’s Lee Atwater – and make no mistake, he is – then Steve Schmidt is a homeless man’s Karl Rove. Seriously. At this point, down double digits with less than a month to go and all the internals tracking against him, John McCain should be suing Schmidt for malpractice at the very least. Personally, I would be lining up some pipe-hittin’ micks from South Bend IN for an Irish blanket party.

It didn’t have to be like this. In fact, if I were running things, I could probably have McCain up by six or eight points, without ever using the words “Ayers,” “Wright,” or “my friends.” Follow the bouncing ball, kids…

Continue reading “I Am A Bad Ass”

SO much for the swagger…

Although if you have to lose, losing to Coach Croom’s team is far from a disgrace. There’s actually a lot of symmetry there: a good stout defense that capitalizes on mistakes and an offense that does just enough to keep the ball away from the other team. Vandy got out-posessed 36 minutes to 24, and that should really tell you all you need to know. Well, that and the fact that they set season highs for penalties and turnovers. Much of what has gone well all year for the ‘Dores revolved around doing all the itty-bitty things right and not making mistakes.

Well, technically, all that’s shot to hell now is the national title game berth. Everything else up to and including an SEC championship is still on the cards, as the Commodores are technically still tied for 1st place in the SEC East. But then, we do have Georgia next week. My concern there is that once the Dawgs realize that they really need not to get snakebit again (and heaven knows Vandy has shocked their shit more times than they’d like to remember), we will wake up in a week on a 2-game losing streak and at risk of foundering against Duke…and losing the Duke game would seriously raise the possibility that the 5-game winning streak will be capped by a Tedford-esque 7-game losing streak.

And then there will be trouble.

(No idea why the ‘Skins shat the bed, although I put all the blame on Johnny “Cakes” Auville. If he ever bets on YOUR team, hang yourself. Or better yet, hang him.)