Follow-up to College Sports

I don’t get college sports fans. This is a follow-up from the Almighty Sports Guy about people who are fanatics about the sports programs of colleges they didn’t even go to.

Q: I read your article about rooting for a soccer team in England and can understand your point about the lack of passion in pro sports. While I will grant you that might be fun, the obvious question is why not throw yourself into a college team?
–Michael Spurlin, Austin, Texas

SG: You root for a school for four reasons: Either you grew up near them, you followed them since you were kid, you went there or your kid is going there. And that’s it. For instance, let’s say that I decided tomorrow, “UCLA is a half-hour from my house and I like their uniforms … screw it, I’m becoming a Bruins fan!” And I started going to football and basketball games and sitting with alumni and fans whose families had been following them for four generations. I mean, wouldn’t that be a little weird? That’s like showing up at some stranger’s house for Thanksgiving and being like, “Hey, I’m in the family now! Pass the turkey!” I just couldn’t do that and feel good about it.

1 out of 4 is not a good thing

I usually like Matt Bai’s work. And there is a lot to like in this story. But a large part of it is that Bush’s extremism finally caught up with him, and that voters are pretty bright after all.

Hogwash. This kind of thinking perpetuates some of the worst memes out there in political thinking.

(edited for length)
Daschle seemed to have lost patience with George W. Bush and his entire administration. He talked with very little prompting about the way the president refused to compromise on legislation, bullied their own party’s senators and ignored leaders of the opposition. Daschle said he hardly ever spoke to anyone at the White House. I asked him whether he thought this kind of arrogance would eventually come back to hurt Bush’s presidency.

I put the question to him another way: in all his years in politics, I asked, had he ever seen anyone act so imperiously and not eventually lose power as a result? Daschle shook his head. “No,” he said. “I never have.”
That exchange was on my mind as I stood in the offices of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on election night, watching young aides with markers erase and replace the latest election numbers on a white board, effectively wiping away what remained of Bush’s influence in Washington.

Presidents serve for a maximum of eight years. Bush got all eight. That’s not losing power. For six of those eight years, he has had a Congress that has done everything he has asked and never put up any serious barriers to his goals. That’s not losing power. And now, for his last two years, he will have more trouble getting things done that require congressional assent. That’s not losing power.

Articles like this miss the big picture. Bush was rewarded, not penalized, for his extremism. For staking out a policy, for doing whatever it took to make it reality, he achieved his policies. Even if you hate everything he did, you must admit it worked. In nearly every case, being more extreme has helped him, not hurt him. The fact that 25% of his regime will be a bit tougher for him does not mean the last six years never happened.

If this election was about the cost of arrogance, though, then it should also be viewed as a vindication of the much-maligned American voter. Since Bush’s disputed victory in 2000, many liberals have been increasingly brazen about their disdain for the rural and religious voters; one popular e-mail message, which landed in thousands of Democratic in-boxes in the days after the 2004 election, separated North America into The United States of Canada and Jesusland. The populist author Thomas Frank won widespread praise for his thesis that unsophisticated rural types had been manipulated into voting against their economic self-interest, while the celebrated linguist George Lakoff posited that conservatives had rewired the brain synapses in these unsuspecting voters. Two eminent liberal political scientists, Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, wrote a more scholarly book, arguing that Bush could govern as an extremist without paying a price, because Republicans had gamed the electoral system and deceived voters.

But this election, in which conservative incumbents in states like Kentucky and Indiana went down to defeat, should discredit such alarmist (and elitist) theories. As it happened, despite all these neurological and structural impediments, ordinary voters proved perfectly capable of recognizing failed governance when they saw it, and seemed plenty capable of defending their own interests.

The voters, particularly the rural/religious/conservative ones, have been wrong in the last three elections. They were wrong to vote Bush over Gore in 2000. They were wrong not to hand Congress to the Dems in 2002. They were deranged to vote for Bush over Kerry in 2004. They were wrong. After being hit with a sledgehammer for six years, they decided that all things considered, they didn’t like that ol’ sledgehammer. Heck of a learning curve.

As the GOP likes to say, elections have consequences. And they have. Six years of Bush rule has done so much damage to this country, and indeed the world, that I can hardly stand to think about it. It’s nice that the grownups finally got one branch of government back, but it’s a little late. This election is not a vindication of the ordinary voter. It is a condemnation of their appalling track record until now.

Links O’ Interest

Drew Bledsoe’s blog. This is drop-dead hilarious for NFL fans.

Don’t – See if you are educated enough to vote. (I got 96%, missed the new UN President)

This Cognitive Science graduate student used his mad brain knowledge to win on Who Wants to be a Milliionaire

A funny look back at Donald Rumsfeld’s press conference antics.

Worst burglar ever

Worst video game ever
(read the review)

John Kerry tries to tell other jokes

Studio 60

It’s fashionable these days to rag on Studio 60. It’s still on our TiVo list, we still watch it every week. But every week, more and more about this show annoys me. Many others have ripped it apart better than me (take a stroll over here). They missed one big thing.

Studio 60 takes place at a comedy show. Of the seven major characters, four are comedians (Harriet, Simon, the other supposedly important cast member [John?], and Matt the writer). Have you ever been around comedians? Ever seen them in their natural habitat? Rent Comedian, and watch Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Colin Quinn hang out together. If you don’t know any comedians, think about the funniest people you know. Maybe that weird guy at the office who’s always cracking people up (what’s his name again?). The one thing they all have in common is that they don’t stop being a comedian for very long. Funny people are not only funny, they are always looking at the world in a funny way, and always looking for new funny things. That’s why they’re funny. It doesn’t mean they’re always on, but they are frequently on. They are at least sometimes on, even if the camera isn’t.

No one at Studio 60 laughs. All these supposed-comedians are depressing. They never crack jokes. They never rip on each other, play pranks, have contests with each other, laugh at something at dinner or on TV, or anything. They may write a promising script, which Matt will declare “Funny” or “Not Funny”, but no one ever actually laughs. These people are comedians? No way.

We did it

We got the House and probably the Senate. Ah, the world looks different. And for the kicker, Rumsfeld resigned. Yippee!

Random election thoughts:

    * I shook the ’04 curse. Although to be fair, I was mildly buzzed at most. Maintain baby, maintain.
    * Anyone who voted for the independent candidate in Virginia is clearly retarded. You knew going in how tight it would be and that you are one of the few battleground states. To simply piss your vote away is unforgiveable. Your punishment is a 3-day lecture from Ralph Nader.
    * Rick Santorum ended with a classy concession speech. And he has done a lot of good for Pennsylvania. But sorry, you are the very stereotype of a conservative moralizing idealogue. Out you go! Your punishment is having your family picture roundly mocked.
    * Allen may not challenge the recount. All kinds of funny tricks with voter turnout and suppression went on. If there’s a recount, all that gets investigated. Hmm… losing control of the Senate, but retiring with some dignity and freedom, or barely possibly tying the Senate at a deadlock and going to jail… tough one. My vote is for gallant concession.
    * You read it here first. There will be turncoat Rebublicans who suddenly become Democrats. Both at the local and national level. There were already hints Chaffee was going to do this, now he is saying it publicly.

To sum up: I’m looking forward to the next two years.