Thursday, July 26, 2018

No Ticket! Taking the Long View...

From the Uber-Yurt of S. MacCune

Apparently Mr. Well-look-it’s-Alberto-Salazar-over-here was too busy to pen today’s column.  So I find myself pinch-hitting (again). To complete the sporting theme, I am writing from a recliner situated not so far away from the Folgefonna Summer Ski Center, a mere 19 km from Jondal Centre in glacier-country, Norway.  I haven’t seen this much white powder since I helped produce Theatre of Pain.

Oh, and Spartan Considerations also told me to avoid talking about sports too much, what with the O’s and their tribulations.  After moving Machado and Britton, what's next?  Is Dan Duquette going to re-sign Pete Harnisch?

Getting back on track…like any true professional, I have one eye on 2020 and a sinking feeling about how the Democrats might blow it.

After three consecutive two-term presidencies and a sitting “Chief Executive” who could be described, mildly, as a Know-Nothing with fascistic tendencies, this should be an electoral slam-dunk for the Party of the People (also a great read from Jules Witcover).  Especially when a fair number of Republicans – and not just talking heads – are nervously eyeing the exits.

Then it hit me.  More precisely, Congressman Anthony Brown’s “voice of caution” on impeachment hit me.  Now, Colonel and former LG Brown is not a timid man.  He served his country for almost three decades in the Army, which included a tour of duty in Iraq in 2004.  His awards speak for themselves.  His personal courage is both admirable and well-documented.   

As a politician though, Mr. Brown via his recent remarks is exhibiting the same sort of inclination to “play it safe” that helped relegate the Democratic Party, at the national level, to the electoral wilderness for much of the ‘80s.    

Combined with the notion that a third of the GOP could be convinced to bolt (probably closer to 10%, 15% tops) and that Independents could be persuaded to break 55%-45% for any “reasonable” Democrat (read: centrist/corporatist establishment-type), I realized how the Democrats could miss the opportunity:

A “National Unity” ticket.

With Galloping Centrism all the rage in certain parts of the country, including
(from what I hear) Howard County, MD…this idea, on its surface, seems bold and would appear to be a combination that would compel Trump to rely on mobilizing to almost unheard-of levels an increasingly marginalized base of nationalist conservatives and what political strategist Kevin Phillips once described as “middle American radicals.”

But really, such a ticket would be a manifestation of ultra-caution born of a sense that the electorate would not be prepared to handle a 100% full-tilt progressive combination.  At the core is the misconception that the Democrats are not “Middle America” enough and that we would need a GOPer in the #2 position to serve as a link to non-coastal elites.  This is wrong-headed all around, but I can envision some strategist making the case in the summer of 2020.  He or she will rant about potential volatility amongst “swing constituencies” in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania (which in this scenario will be white women who are self-described moderate/moderately conservative Republicans or Independents).  She or he will opine that the Democratic nominee could “put it away” in those and perhaps a couple other states by making a “bold choice” for the “good of the country” that expands the playing field.  270 here we come…         

But how many Republicans would really walk away from Trump and vote for a Democratic Presidential candidate, even one running with a Republican VP?  I estimate far too few.  Simultaneously, the Democrats would lose their ability to compare/contrast most effectively as any GOP running-mate would likely share Mr. Trump’s views on a range of issues…which would no doubt dispirit a sizable percentage of the D base.   And who would it be?  Sasse? Flake?  Kasich?  Corker?  Scarborough?  Who among them is a mortal-lock to help change the electoral math?  How could a Harris or Brown or Holden or Klobuchar or Landrieu or Sanders or Warren (to name a few) square their political beliefs with such a choice?  How would the Democratic Convention react to such a move?  How would the media cover it? Hint for the last three questions: not easily, not favorably, and as Democratic weakness, respectively.

The last time a National Unity ticket was tried, the country was in the midst of a Civil War…and we ended up with President Andrew Johnson (for numerous articles on Donald Trump – Andrew Johnson comparisons, just Google the relevant search terms).

So while some folks deemed to be “sensible” might start touting such a proposal following the mid-term elections, just bear this in mind:  such a pairing may make a great story for a day or two, but ultimately it will weaken the ticket’s positioning, anger many Democratic activists who believe that an All-D ticket can win, and it won’t peel away nearly enough Republicans or swing over as many Independents as proponents of such a maneuver will claim.

Yes, hypotheticals on top of hypotheticals, but someone has to be noodling on such matters.

Time to hit the slopes…before they hit back.  There’s a tagline for you.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Running on Empty

Having gotten back into running after a long-ish hiatus, I wanted to share some thoughts on the sport.  First, I want to comment on some “advice” I recently over-heard:

“You can’t drink Jack at night and then coffee in the morning and then go run.”

-       Not an Olympic Track Coach

As any true runner knows, single malts from distilleries such as Talisker, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, or Balvenie are far superior to Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 for training purposes.  If you have to go with a blend, Johnnie Walker Black is acceptable.  Ice should not be used in any case as it chills the gastrocnemius muscle and dilutes the whiskey.  This is science.

Of course both whiskey and coffee are simply loaded with water molecules.  So don’t buy into that nonsense about “proper hydration.”  You need the synapses firing when you are out there… on the road…with only your wits and a reliable pair of Asics separating you from competitors and potential predators (note: these are sometimes the same thing). Personally, I wouldn’t want to be the runner who isn’t caffeinated to the point of flailing like Animal from the Muppet Show if and when the day comes when a surly 400-pound bear decides to amble down from the mountains and onto your favorite jogging trail.     

It’s not as though I am running out there with a Dorset Double Old Fashioned glass (available at Williams-Sonoma).  That would not be aerodynamically sound.  Increased wind resistance means lost seconds.  This is why one partakes the night before a training run or full-on, chip-timed race.  That way, your hands are free when it comes time to judo-chop the aforementioned bear…or fellow runner who keeps stepping on your heels…or volunteer who is taking too long to hand me my f#$%ing dixie cup at the water station.  These are lessons you won’t learn from the Howard County Striders.

Back to the coffee.  I recommend Café Pilon, especially for 5Ks involving multiple short bursts of speed where you are really working the quads.  Café Bustelo is fine for pre-race quaffing or, better still, tossing on that runner who is inexplicably dressed in a banana costume.  The brown spots just make her or him look riper and add authenticity to the garb.  They won’t thank you for it though. Ungrateful amateurs.

So have fun out there and stay thirsty…for personal records.

In solidarity.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Recent CVS Incident Allegations: An Update

The Howard County Police Department (HCPD) released a statement this morning that said, in part, that “there is no evidence this incident occurred.”

Since I raised awareness by writing about the controversy, it is appropriate to note the latest developments.  So there you have it. 

I believe it is important to bear a few larger points in mind:

1)    One of the reasons the original poster’s account was shared so widely across social media (and thus came to the present author’s attention) is because the events described were fundamentally plausible. As we know from being attentive news consumers, people of color in the United States are, every day, compelled to deal with racial discrimination that manifests itself in any number of ways.  Shopping while black is a real phenomenon, as is police misconduct which disproportionally impacts minority communities.
2)    There is a general principle: just because no evidence is uncovered, it doesn’t mean that nothing happened.  It means a specific allegation or allegations is/are unproven. Turning to this specific case, it now appears quite possible that these alleged events did not occur or that the facts regarding the incident are substantially different from the version shared on social media.  The broader point is that for far too long and far too often, the default position for authority figures in this country has been to deny, deflect, and/or minimize wrongs committed against people of color.  This is why I and others said there needed to be an investigation.  Based on the account provided by the HCPD, it appears as though a thorough investigation has taken place.         
3)    How people respond to this alleged incident, and its aftermath, is quite telling.  Some folks will be quick to lambast the original poster.  Many of these individuals are silent when it comes to allegations of racial discrimination.  They need to ask themselves and each other why they are more apt to believe some people compared to others.
4)    An event very similar to the one described by the original poster could occur today or tomorrow, in another part of the country or right here in Columbia.  I maintain, especially in light of the “couponing while black” incident out of Chicago, that CVS and their customers would benefit if their employees participated in racial bias training.  Furthermore, I believe those in law enforcement positions need to undergo bias training at regular intervals to better equip them to understand and protect the communities they serve.
5)    It is unfortunate if the original poster deliberately told untruths or embellished a story. One wonders what the motivation might have been to do so, if she did, in fact, prevaricate or otherwise spin a yarn.  My Midwestern sensibilities say, if this is so, that she might want to consider apologizing to CVS and the HCPD.  Again, I don’t know her or the facts beyond what has been reported. I wasn’t at the CVS and I am not inside of her head.
6)    Regardless of the specifics of this particular instance, it is imperative to remain vigilant against discriminatory behaviors.  With so many racist Americans feeling emboldened to act out and harm others, mindful anti-racists must be prepared to confront such behaviors…ones engaged in by individuals as well as by institutions.    

So there it stands.  I still consider this to be a story-in-progress…with more than a little fog surrounding it.  If CVS and the HCPD acted as reported, then they behaved properly, responsibly, and professionally in this matter.  One last thing: from a communications standpoint, CVS could and should have done a better job getting their narrative out.  Silence is not a smart strategy.

In solidarity.