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Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Year in Review: Politics, Sports

2008 was only the second time in ten attempts I've voted for a successful Presidential candidate - any guesses to the other time?

I also voted for Obama in the New York state primary. My, that was SO long ago, back in early February. Like many people, I suffered from election fatigue. So silliness such as the Barack the Magic Negro song kerfluffle, played on Rush Limbaugh's radio show, doesn't even register.

But here's a terrible thought: perhaps the Republicans were (gulp) right in in their winner-take-all primaries. In the same vein, I have also finally figured out what's so very RIGHT with the Electoral College. People say, correctly, that it's undemocratic. EXACTLY! It wasn't designed to be democratic, it was meant to be definitive. Obama won with about a 53-47% vote. BUT he also won with a landslide ELECTORAL vote. The results of the election were not in question. And the system works most of the time. OK, not in 2000. Or 1888. Or 1876. Or 1824. But most of the time.

Imagine a close election, say 1968. Nixon and Humphrey were virtually tied in the popular vote. But Nixon's Electoral College victory codified the race. Let's say there were no Electoral College. There would have been canvassing of votes all over the country. Or even 2000, where the canvassing was limited to Florida.

There's some merit, though, in doing what Maine and Nebraska have done; allocate electoral votes by Congressional district, with two votes going to the winner statewide. This would put more conservative parts of "blue" states and more liberal parts of "red" states in play, and that we in upstate New York would be barraged with the same campaign of ads that the folks in Ohio and Florida get. Wait, I said there was merit to this? Well, for the local media bottom line, for sure.

Caroline Kennedy for Senate? Don't much care. Whoever is elected would have to run in both 2010 AND 2012. But she's getting killed in the "vetting" process. There's also the more parochial issue that upstaters in New York want an upstate Senator, since there hasn't been one since Charles Goodall finished the term of Bobby Kennedy. An AP story this week suggested that some "caretaker" take the seat now, someone with no desire to run in 2010, like Bill Clinton, or Mario Cuomo, or Eliot Spitzer. OK, not Eliot Spitzer; seeing if you were paying attention. But Governor David Paterson does not want a caretaker candidate; he wants whoever he appoints in 2009 to be on the ballot in 2010, possibly, one could speculate, to enhance his own chances for being elected governor in hios own right.

I've been pretty obsessed with the Constitution this year. Do you know which Amendment took 203 years to be passed?


Congrats to the Phillies and the Devil Rays. What a difference a season, and a name change, makes.

I started reading a Bob Costas book from 2000, which I seemed to have misplaced. Regardless, the points he made helped me realize that interleague play, as it's currently constructed, is fatally flawed. Where in the NFL, all the teams in a division play common opponents (the NFL East playing the AFC North in 2008, e.g.), Major League Baseball has this romanticized notion of Yankees-Mets, White Sox-Cubs, etc. Nice, but When getting into the playoffs is determined by this, it's not particularly workable. Let's say the White Sox had a weak team, and the Yankees a strong one. This is advantageous to the Cubs and problematic for the Mets.

Also, how is it that the AL West has only four teams, while the NL Central has six? This is competitively unfair. Short of expanding MLB to 32 (four 4-team divisions in each league a la the NFL) or contracting two teams to 28 (two 7-team divisions, maybe with two wild cards, in each league), I don't know how to make the system more equitable.

I'm also distressed that the Yankees can afford to get two front-line pitchers in the offseason (LHP CC Sabathia's seven-year contract; RHP A.J. Burnett's five-year contract). They are playing by the rules; it's the rules that have to be fixed, with a greater amount of profit-sharing than the "luxury tax" has created. (Oh, and why isn't the Mark Teixeira deal showing up on the MLB transaction list?

Will Francisco Rodriguez (K-Rod) be the end of late-season collapses for the Mets?

There's a bowl game today at noon on ESPN2 that I never even heard of, the International Bowl, played in Toronto, ON CANADA, but I have a rooting interest: the Buffalo Bulks, which had been a terrible team, but won some incredible games down the stretch this season. Not only is it an upstate team, it's a SUNY school (as is U Albany and SUC New Paltz, my alma maters), the school declined its only other chance to go to a bowl game 50 years ago.

On the pro level - Go, Big Blue! (That's the defending Super Bowl champs, the New York Giants, to the uninitiated.)



Rebecca Hickman said...

I've been very disappointed with the Yankees, too. I miss the days of Munson, Dent, Jackson, and Pinella.

GayProf said...

The answer would be the little discussed Amendment 27 (Something about compensation and the House of Reps). Though, given the great gap between proposal and adoption, some question the "constitutionality" of that constitutional amendment.

As for the electoral college, it seems to me like it was designed to ensure that the unruly mob of "common people" didn't make poor choices for the executive branch. There was a lot of fear in the 18th century that voters would go for the candidate who they would rather have a beer with than the one who actually had experience and knowledge. Under those criteria, I am not sure it has worked all that effectively.

But, for 2000, I still contend that the Supreme Court subverted the Constitution regardless. If we accept that Florida was in dispute (which I don't -- Gore clearly won that state), than it should have gone to the House of Representatives, not the court.

Nik said...

I say you voted for Jimmy Carter. But not Clinton??

Roger Owen Green said...

GP- Oh, I think the SC was awful in 2000; my point is that it wasn't the Electoral College that was particularly at fault.

Nik- Actually, I didn't vote for Carter, in part for pretty arcane reasons. The Carter forces in NYS managed to knock Gene McCarthy off the primary ballot in 1976. I hate that sort of stuff, tho' it happens all the time. Also, I thought Carter seemed silly in that Playboy interview: "lust in my heart". Not that it wasn't true, merely impolitic.
So, yes, I voted for WJC in 1992.