Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn’

Iowa Caucus Eccentricities: Heads I Win, Bernie, Tails You Lose

Friday, February 5th, 2016

By Bob Gaydos

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

Three questions in the wake of whatever it was that just happened in Iowa:

  • Can anyone – preferably a Democrat – tell me what Hillary Clinton stands for? In other words, what is her message?
  • Why do mainstream media assume there’s no way Bernie Sanders can win the Democratic nomination, never mind the presidency?
  • Since when does winning an election, or caucus or whatever else you may call it depend on the flip of a coin?

Let’s start with Hillary. As far as I can tell, after 16 years (at least) of running for president, the only message I still hear is that Hillary should be president because she’s been around, she wants it and it’s her turn. She’s been patient through Bill’s years in the White House and she’s been running ever since they had to vacate (penniless, I believe she initially claimed).

Yes, she took time to serve as senator from New York, but that really was necessary to fill out the resume for a presidential run. Being secretary of state was a bittersweet consolation prize for losing the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination to Barack Obama, who apparently never got the memo that it was Hillary’s turn to run. It certainly topped off her resume.

Yet all I hear is that she’s really smart, has a lot of experience, knows a lot of stuff and will do a good job of running things. Now, that’s clearly more than can be said of pretty much all of the Republican presidential candidates, but she’s not running against any of them yet.

What is she going to do as president? What is she going to change about a system with which Americans of all political persuasions are disenchanted, to say the least? Maybe it’s me, but all I hear is that she’ll do a good job, even a better job, of managing what Obama leaves behind.

 A lot of the major media seem to have bought into this message. That was pretty much the essence of the New York Times editorial endorsing Clinton over Bernie Sanders in the Iowa primary. Hillary has the experience to carry on the way we have been carrying on.

Unfortunately for Clinton, the New York Times, and other establishment media that support her candidacy, a lot of Americans don’t seem to want to carry on the way we’ve been carrying on. That’s undoubtedly why a lot of young people, not thrilled with the future being crafted for them, have flocked to the Sanders candidacy

In fact, it seems to be why a lot of people have flocked to a host of Republican candidates who are anything but establishment figures. The fact that virtually all of them aren’t qualified to be president is another matter.

For what it’s worth, I think Obama has done a pretty good job cleaning up the mess left by Bush/Cheney. He’s done this in the face of non-stop resistance from Republicans from his first day in office. There’s no reason to believe that Clinton, no favorite of congressional Republicans, will have any easier time of it in that regard. Furthermore, her ties to the banking industry and corporate America (through Bill and the Clinton Foundation), cast serious doubt on any claim she might make that she is different from Republicans. (Her claim the other night that she is not part of the Democratic Establishment is laughable.)

And, as I recall, she couldn’t get her healthcare plan through a Democratic Congress in Bill’s first term. How does that make her a manager who “gets things done”? It’s a claim that much of major media have apparently accepted as fact because she and her supporters keep saying it: Why Hillary? Because she’s a manager.

Sanders, by contrast, is an “eccentric” senator with “unruly” hair, as he was characterized in an Associated Press story the morning after the Iowa caucus. This was supposedly a straight news story reporting on the outcome of the caucus. There were no adjectives attached to Clinton’s name implying some not-so-subtle judgment. Where were the editors?

Again, maybe it’s just me, but when someone writing in Iowa describes Sanders, with a lifetime in public service, as “eccentric,” I can’t help but wonder if it’s code for 74-year-old Jew who still speaks with the accent of his native Brooklyn. New Yorkers are pretty good at cracking codes.

As for that Iowa vote, what a joke. Clinton claimed victory after edging Sanders by less than three-tenths of a point. Democrats don’t even vote privately in Iowa. They stand in opposite corners and try to convince others to join them. The biggest group gets the delegates from that district. When there’s a tie, they split the delegates — two for you, two for you. But when there’s an odd number of delegate at stake, the odd vote is awarded by flipping a coin. Clinton won six out of six flips — go figure — so she got a couple more delegates than Sanders. Smashing victory.

Even here, major media (NPR even) felt it necessary to weigh in after the fact to educate us that Clinton didn’t win Iowa on coin flips. Rather, they spelled out the entire ridiculously and unnecessarily complicated system by which Iowa Democrats award convention delegates. Seems there’s county delegates and state delegates and who-the-heck cares delegates and formulas for calculating percentage of delegates. It’s a system set up by the establishment to try to control the votes, so that candidates like Bernie Sanders, from Brooklyn via Vermont, can’t win.

But he did. The “virtual tie” was a statement for Sanders against the establishment — Democratic Party and major media.

My humble recommendations:

  • For Clinton: Figure out what you really stand for and tell us. If you think you have to be a shill for banks and corporations in order to be effective as president, tell us why. At least it would be honest.
  • For the major media: Listen and report the facts. Ask questions about real issues. Stop with the horse-race reporting based on polls. Do your job.
  • Iowa Democrats: Have a simple vote, privately, for convention delegates. No coin flips. In case of ties, split the baby, as Solomon said. In this case, it works.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

 

Dog Pee, the DH and Willie Mays

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Willie Mays, "the catch," 1954 World Series, the Polo Grounds.

By Bob Gaydos

I wasn’t planning to write for the Zest blog this week because I had other stuff on my mind and nothing about which I felt a need to expound. That wasn’t good enough for my fellow Zester, Mike Kaufman.

He felt a need to call me out in a column he wrote — he actually did two of them — on whether it’s OK to let your dog pee on a neighbor’s mailbox post. Really. Even did a poll on it. Since I thought this question was covered by the “do unto others” credo by which we all aspire to live, I ignored it. But he insisted. Yes or no, Bob, pee or no pee. Exasperated, I answered: No pee! No pee! Never let your dog pee on my or anybody else’s mailbox post! Yucch.

But the pee question turned out to be a straw dog. Mike, a former sports writer, was really calling me out on the designated hitter in baseball, which I had supported in one of my previous posts. At the end of his dog pee column, he added: “NOTE TO BOB GAYDOS: Ron Blomberg of the New York Yankees was the American League’s first designated hitter on Opening Day 1973. Thirty years later he expressed regrets: ‘I screwed up the game of baseball. Baseball needed a jolt of offense for attendance, so they decided on the DH. I never thought it would last this long.’ If even Blomberg can recant, it is not too late for you, Bob. Please come to your senses. Come home to the real game of baseball.”

First of all, Ron Blomberg is one of those Old Timers Day “Oh yeah, he was a Yankee, too“ guys. He had a couple of decent years and faded fast. He was never big enough to screw up the Yankees, let alone the whole game of baseball.

But Blomberg and Kaufman miss the point. There is simply no going back to anything. Baseball has evolved over the years, becoming more attuned to what fans like, which is more offense. It’s why they lowered the pitching mound. Sure, everyone can appreciate a good pitching matchup and no-hitters are special. But a whole season of teams batting .256 facing each other and watching opposing pitchers avoid number eight hitters with .230 averages to get at a pitcher who is an almost sure out is not fun. Nor does it necessarily win games. Good pitching always trumps all else. But when all else is equal, the teams that can hit — and that means mostly American League teams with designated hitters — will prevail. Look at the inter-league games records. The American League destroys the National League

I don‘t know what happens to pitchers when they leave high school. Until then they are usually the best players all around on all their teams. That means they could hit, too. But even before the DH, major league pitchers were no longer feared hitters. Players can’t bunt anymore. It’s a disgrace. The hit and run is almost obsolete. Baseball went bonkers with steroids for a while, and everyone was a home run threat. Now, things are back to seeming normalcy, but next year teams are going to play teams in the other league every day. That’s not fair to American League teams whose pitchers will have to bat. National League teams will gladly find a guy on the bench to add some punch to their anemic lineups.

The point is, the players union will never give up the jobs and the fans who see the DH every day will never go back to so-called “real baseball.” Not that long ago, baseball players used to leave their gloves on the field and wearing a batting helmet was unknown. But once upon a time, in the 1860s, nobody (not even the catcher) wore a glove, the ball was pitched underhanded from 45-feet from home plate, the ball could be caught on a bounce or on the fly for an out and you couldn’t overrun first base. In addition, foul balls were not strikes and if the umpire, standing to the side of the batter, didn’t happen to see the pitch, it didn’t count.

Now, that’s old time baseball, too, and they still play it in Cape May County, N.J., Michael, if you’re interested. For a whole season, I’m sticking with the current version.

* * *

While I’m at it, I might as well take care of all the dog-eared baseball questions. In response to my own poll (“Where Have You Gone, Joe DiMaggio?”), my colleague Jeffrey Page responded: “Bob, What about the Question of the Eternal Triangle: Mantle? Mays? Snider? My heart says Duke. My head says Willie. Mantle? He was pretty good, too.”

OMG, Brooklyn, get over yourself. Yes, New York City had the three best center fielders in baseball in the 1950s, but the Duke was always number three and you know that in your head, if not your heart. Mantle could have been the best ever but he drank like a fish and wrecked his leg and was still an all-time great and notches above Snider. But Willie Mays had it all, including a flair for the dramatic. I watched him rain triples and chase down fly balls all around the Polo Grounds and my head and heart have never doubted his preeminence. Best ever. Willie, Mickey and the Duke. 1,2,3.

* * *

Which brings me back to Michael and his dog pee. The most fascinating thing about his poll to me is that, of the 10 people who replied, four apparently said let your dog go wherever, whenever. I want their names, Michael. I don’t have a dog, but I have a friend who has three and they’re looking for new fields of dreams.

 bob@zestoforange.com