Thursday, November 04, 2004

Change Everything

After nearly a year-and-a-half with Blogger, this will be my last post here. Shallow Center is movin' on up, though not to a deluxe apartment in the sky. No, from here on out you can find my stuff here. And you can write to me at So stop on by and let me know what you think.

I've finally got a piece of the pie.

Coming Soon

Expect a Major Announcement on the future of Shallow Center soon. (Relax, I'm not going into full-time political commentary. I'd like for all of my family and friends to continue speaking to me.) Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Manuel Labor

The Inquirer is reporting tonight that Charlie Manuel will be introduced formally as the Phillies' next manager tomorrow:

Manuel's two seasons working for the Phillies afforded him the opportunity to gain knowledge of the roster he is taking over. The players also became familiar with him. Manuel has a more easy-going personality than Bowa and several players privately campaigned for him to get the job.

Manuel won out over Jim Leyland, who led the Florida Marlins to the 1997 World Series titles. Leyland badly wanted the job. He was the final candidate to interview, and he impressed club officials. But in the end, Manuel was the man they wanted.

Interesting note about the players' private campaign. My gut told me Leyland was the better choice, but I'm okay with Manuel. (And Tom Goodman should be really happy.) Much as the Flyers accommodated Keith Primeau & Co. in cashiering Bill Barber, Ed Wade now have given the Phillies players what they wanted. And much as the Flyers told Primeau and his mates that the onus was off Ken Hitchcock and on the guys on the ice, the Phils now must accept that it's put-up or shut-up time.



This is a bit late, but the first annual awards of the Internet Baseball Writers Association have been posted at I'm flattered to have been asked to contribute; my ballot is below:

1. Scott Rolen/Cardinals
2. Albert Pujols/Cardinals
3. Barry Bonds/Giants
4. Adrian Beltre/Dodgers
5. Bobby Abreu/Phillies
6. Carlos Beltran/Astros
7. Eric Gagne/Dodgers
8. Aramis Ramirez/Cubs
9. Jim Edmonds/Cardinals
10. Sean Casey/Reds

1. Vladimir Guerrero/Angels
2. Miguel Tejada/Orioles
3. Ichiro Suzuki/Mariners
4. Gary Sheffield/Yankees
5. Michael Young/Rangers
6. Manny Ramirez/Red Sox
7. Curt Schilling/Red Sox
8. Hank Blalock/Rangers
9. Travis Hafner/Indians
10. Johan Santana/Twins

1. Roger Clemens/Astros
2. Carl Pavano/Marlins
3. Jason Schmidt/Astros

1. Curt Schilling/Red Sox
2. Johan Santana/Twins
3. Jake Westbrook/Indians

1. Khalil Greene/Padres
2. Jason Bay/Pirates
3. Ryan Madson/Phillies

1. Bobby Crosby/Athletics
2. Daniel Cabrera/Orioles
3. Alex Rios/Blue Jays

1. Bobby Cox/Braves
2. Phil Garner/Astros
3. Jim Tracy/Dodgers

1. Ron Gardenhire/Twins
2. Mike Sciosia/Angels
3. Joe Torre/Yankees

1. John Scheurhohlz/Braves
2. Gerry Hunsicker/Astros
3. Kevin Towers/Padres

1. Terry Ryan/Twins
2. John Hart/Rangers
3. Chuck LaMar/Devil Rays

Electoral Collage

We the people have just given four additional years to a president who misled the nation into an unnecessary and unjustified war that has fostered, not suppressed, greater terrorism around the globe; who bought off the electorate with a pandering and insignificant middle-class tax cut that served only to hide much larger givebacks to those who need them less; who impugned the valorous war record of his opponent despite using family connections to avoid combat; whose morally bankrupt fiscal policies have created a mammoth budget deficit that our children and grandchildren will be forced to contend with; who gutted essential and effective environmental legislation; who demonizes those who disagree with him rather than engage in dialogue; who ran on a record of compassion and unity, then governed as if his dictionary didn't include those words; who has pathetically little command of the English language; and who claims to be guided by God in his decision-making.

How the hell did this happen?

Will Saletan of Slate has as good an explanation as any:

I think this is the answer: Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.

Bush is a very simple man. You may think that makes him a bad president, as I do, but lots of people don't -- and there are more of them than there are of us. If you don't believe me, take a look at those numbers on your TV screen.

Think about the simplicity of everything Bush says and does. He gives the same speech every time. His sentences are short and clear. "Government must do a few things and do them well," he says. True to his word, he has spent his political capital on a few big ideas: tax cuts, terrorism, Iraq. Even his electoral strategy tonight was powerfully simple: Win Florida, win Ohio, and nothing else matters. All those lesser states -- Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Hampshire -- don't matter if Bush reels in the big ones.

This is what so many people like about Bush's approach to terrorism. They forgive his marginal and not-so-marginal screw-ups, because they can see that fundamentally, he "gets it." They forgive his mismanagement of Iraq, because they see that his heart and will are in the right place. And while they may be unhappy about their economic circumstances, they don't hold that against him. What you and I see as unreflectiveness, they see as transparency. They trust him.

Now look at your candidate, John Kerry. What quality has he most lacked? Not courage -- he proved that in Vietnam. Not will -- he proved that in Iowa. Not brains -- he proved that in the debates. What Kerry lacked was simplicity. Bush had one message; Kerry had dozens. Bush had one issue; Kerry had scores. Bush ended his sentences when you expected him to say more; Kerry went on and on, adding one prepositional phrase after another, until nobody could remember what he was talking about. Now Bush has two big states that mean everything, and Kerry has a bunch of little ones that add up to nothing.

Understand, I'm no Kerry fan. He never stood for anything, changing positions more often than Paris Hilton in front of a videocamera. (Pause for rimshot.) My vote for him was far more a statement against President Bush than any endorsement of Kerry. For the second straight election now, and the fifth of the last seven, the Democrats have saddled the country with what appears to be the safe choice, the guy who looks great on paper but who doesn't understand that leadership -- real, effective leadership -- is intimately tied to human connections. It's not about who's smarter or whose resume is the most glittering; it's about who understands people and their problems. Bill Clinton knew that; Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, and John Kerry didn't.

The more I look, the more uneasy American politics makes me. The Republicans have been hijacked by a politically ruthless and deeply troubling secterian wing that has abandoned the party's core principles of fiscal responsibility and limited government. The Democrats, after a successul flirtation with the pragmatism of the Clinton years, can't get out of their own way; they seem unwilling or unable to adapt to political reality and adjust their messages, and their candidates, accordingly.

So what now for moderate centrists like me? I'm a registered independent perfectly willing to split my ticket -- did it yesterday, in fact -- but these days I fear I have no place to go. So -- do I join a party and try to work from within the system to improve things? If so, which one? Do I move beyond this little effort and become a more vocal advocate for change? Do I run for office myself?

What would you do?

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

That's the Chicago Way

My 3-year-old daughter proved today that she has a wonderfully engaged civic future ahead of her.

Or a lifetime of rampant political corruption.

We had traveled to our polling place this morning to cast our ballot and remove the swing-state shackles of direct mail and recorded phone calls that had imprisoned us for the last two months. Inside the booth, I made my choices. I directed my daughter to press the orange button, the one which would record my vote. The machine made its happy voting noise, we stepped through the curtain, and I told her, "We did it! We voted! Way to go!" High-fives and happiness all around.

Then, she piped up with a very familiar word, the one she uses whenever she does something she really likes.


"Well, sweetheart, next year. We'll come back next year and vote."

"No, I want to vote again! Again!"

I'll have to do some genealogy research to see if we're related to the Daleys of Chicago.