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The Hangover November 6, 2010

Posted by Amir Roth in economy, football, politics, taxes.
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Oh, my head! Did anyone get the number on that Hummer?

This past Tuesday night, Philly Bluejay’s home district PA-7 turned from Blue to Red from top to bottom. Outgoing—both personally and politically—Democratic governor and Eagles booster Ed Rendell was replaced by Republican and likely Steeler fan Tom Corbett. In the Senate, Republican-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter’s seat was won by Republican Pat Toomey. Toomey defeated PA-7 Rep. and Philly Bluejay favorite Admiral Joe Sestak. Democrat Bryan Lentz couldn’t keep Sestak’s seat warm for him, getting thrashed by Republican Pat Meehan. And so we went from Rendell, Specter, and Sestak to Corbett, Toomey, and Meehan. Philly Bluejay’s house in PA-7 has a blue front door. It is possible that on January 20, Philly Bluejay may be required by law to paint the door red. And perhaps also to change his name to Philly Redjay or Philly Cardinal. This would never have happened if actual bluejays still wintered in PA-7.

By the way, some of you may have noticed that some posts are written in ultra-annoying third-person self-reference while others are written in only slightly less annoying first-person and wondering why that is? Does Philly Bluejay have dissociative disorder or megalomania? Yes. No. Who are you talking to, me or Philly Bluejay? Seriously though. In the past, there may not have been a method to the voice madness, but in the future all political-themed posts will be written in third person whereas all other posts will be written in first person. You see, when it comes to important matters like politics, it helps to think of oneself as the blog rather than as the person so that opinions can be shared without regard to personal consequence. It’s not me! It’s the blog! I’m not a flaming liberal, I just write a flaming liberal blog! Philly Bluejay is glad we got that sorted out. And so am I.

In other Philly news. Former Philadelphia Eagles right tackle, interview favorite, and McDonald’s coffee spokesman Big Jon Runyan is now in Da House representing Philly suburb NJ-3. For the wrong party. Although looking at Jon’s stance on the issues, I see potential for an Arlen Specter-like party-switch in the future. No potential party switch in KY-4, where former Phillie pitcher Jim Bunning’s seat will be occupied for the next six years by Dr. Rand Paul. For his first act, Dr. Paul will very politely ask the Senate to deliberate on this—we have six years of Rand Paul!

Insult and injury extend beyond the immediate environs of the Mason-Dixon line. Speaking of which, it was only a few years ago that Philly Bluejay learned that Mason-Dixon is the line that separates Maryland from Pennsylvania and Delaware. For the preceeding twenty-some odd years, Philly Bluejay was convinced that it was the line that separated Maryland from Virginia, i.e., the Union from the Confederacy. For the ten-odd years prior to that, Philly Bluejay was completely unware that the Mason-Dixon line existed. The fact that Philly Bluejay is now residing south of Mason-Dixon is somewhat disturbing. Although not as disturbing as the fact that in our new world, Russ Feingold is not a Congressman but Ben Quayle is. Who is defense secretery in this universe, Walter Bishop? Quayle claims that “Obama is the worst president in history.” Ben must not the old saying that people whose father was the most laughable veep in history shouldn’t throw stones.

On the bright side, Democrats retained control of the Senate thanks to clutch wins by Democrats in Colorado, Washington, and Nevada. For his second act, Dr. Paul will go to the Senate and respectfully ask them to deliberate on this—we have six more years of Harry Reid and Patty Murray! That fact is obviously lost on minority leader Mitch McConnell. By the way, whereas some people believe McConnell was separated at birth from Steve Forbes, Philly Bluejay believes he was separated from Jean Stapleton. On Wednesday, McConnell WikiLeaked the Republican agenda for the next two years—make sure Obama doesn’t gain a second term. That’s pretty much it. Not jobs. Not the economy. Not immigration. Not the environment. Just make sure that Obama is a one term president. Actually,that’s not fair. There was one actual plank in McConnell’s agenda. Oh yes, make the Bush tax cuts permanent for the top 2% of Americans. I knew there was something. Perhaps sensing the unseemliness of his position, on Thursday McConnell hedged by saying that he needs a Republican in the White House so that he could roll back all of Obama’s policies. Someone, please tell McConnell that in order to do that he first needs a Republican majority in the Senate! McConnell has been so smug he makes John “Pledge to America” Boehner look like a Democrat by comparison! To his credit, Boehner—who actually is majority leader—has been humble and conciliatory and pledged to work with Obama to move the country forward. Is Charlie Francis still alive? John Boehner! We may have to officially change the spelling of his name to Bayner!

The most ridiculous outcome of delusion 2010? MSNBC suspending Keith Olbermann indefinitely because he contributed $2,400 to Jack Conway, Dr. Paul’s opponent. MSNBC, why do this? Because it undermines the network’s image for balanced and impartial journalism? Let me tell you, you don’t have that image! Do you think FOX would suspend Bill O’Reilly for donating to Dr. Paul? FOX would probably suspend him for not donating to Dr. Paul.

If there is a something to hold onto in this mess—aside from the fact that Sharron Angle, Christine O’Donnell, and Propositions California 23and Colorado 300 were defeated—it’s that we still have POTUS Lighting. You want to see a mensch? Watch Lightning’s post-election news conference. I have a feeling he’s going to come through this stronger than ever. Dr. Paul, please go to the Senate and politely ask them to deliberate on that!

P.S. With Rahm Emanuel leaving for Chicago and a Republican “shellacking” in the midterms, many are looking for Obama to shuffle his staff. Philly Bluejay has a suggestion—Admiral Joe Sestak! Admiral Joe—a rising star in the Democratic party—will be sitting on the sideline for the next two years. POTUS Lightning, I know the Admiral scoffed at your request that he not run against Arlen Specter in the primary. But you want him on that wall! You need him on that wall!

P.P.S. Speaking of the Fringe alternate universe, Eagles giving a field goal to the Colts? I know the Eagles are at home and coming off a bye while the Colts are coming off a short week, but … come on! Is Vegas trying to make Peyton mad? Perhaps the line should be Eagles +17. Then again, what if Peyton’s MO is to just try to cover? Maybe the line should be Eagles -10.

P.P.P.S. Several weeks ago, the knuckles on my right hand had a run-in with the escalator at L’Enfant Plaza. Well, the escalator has struck again.

P.P.P.P.S. Philly Bluejay is considering starting a “Bethesdan of the month” feature, featuring prominent people who live in Bethesda, and may or may not shop at the Whole Foods on River and Dorsey. We’ve already covered Tom Friedman and Gregg Easterbrook. BOTM for November 2010 is Washington Post columnist and NPR political commentator E.J. Dionne.

P.P.P.P.P.S. Belated happy birthdays to Mrs. Bluejay, Safta Bluejay, cousin George, and William. And belated happy Guy Fawkes Night everyone.


Spec-Tak-Le May 17, 2010

Posted by Amir Roth in politics, sports.
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Bluejay fans—hi mom—I will try never go this long between blog posts again. It’s been a busy week and some. End of the semester. A few trips to Washington, DC. Also, this 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzle is kicking my ass a little bit.

But it’s time to get back to business, put my thinking hat on—actually I don’t wear hats because someone told me once that they accelerate hair loss—and rant a little bit about Tuesday’s primary. If you’ve been reading this blog at all, you may have guessed that I am a registered Democrat. Actually, maybe you guessed that I am registered with the green party, but you would be wrong. As long as the de facto two party system remains, I will affiliate myself with a party that has a chance at some decision-making power. It’s not a coincidence that I picked Bluejay as the totem of this blog. I would never pick a Cardinal or any other red bird. My only choices were Bluejay, Blue Heron, Bluebird, and Indigo Bunting. But a Blue Heron is not really blue. I’ve never even seen a Bluebird. And Philly Indigo Bunting has terrible cadence. Not to mention the fact that few people would know what an Indigo Bunting is.

Anywhos, there are several Democratic primary races. There’s a “race” for the state house to replace uber-popular current Governor Ed “The Gov” Rendell, who’s prohibited from seeking a third term by state law and who will presumably take a permanent position anchoring Eagles Post Game Live on CSN. Dan Onorato has lapped the rest of the primary field in the polls—although The Gov has endorsed Philly-area State Senator Anthony Williams—but is polling about 10 points behind likely Republican candidate, attorney general Tom Corbett. Doh! In the 7th congressional district—where I live—lawyer-slash-Iraq-war-vet Bryan Lentz is leading political consultant Terese Touey for a chance to go against unopposed Republican Pat Meehan for a chance to replace the retiring Joe Sestak.

But the interesting race and the one that matters most from a political leverage standpoint is in the Senate—isn’t it always? The incumbent is 80-year old 4.75-term Republican and 0.25-term Democratic senator Arlen “Magic Bullet” Specter. The challenger is the 59-year old, 1.5-term congressman and former Navy admiral Sestak. The two are polling at a dead heat, with different polls reporting different leaders and all leads within the 3% margin of error. Many Democratic bigshots including The Gov and New York Senator Charles Schumer have predicted a slim victory for Specter. So who gets the Bluejay vote?

As I see it, the two relevant questions are: (i) which candidate is more likely to beat presumptive Republican nominee Pat Toomey in the general election? and sadly to a lesser degree (ii) which candidate will be a more effective Democratic Senator if he beats Toomey? Let’s start with the former. Sestak is a winner. He whipped Republican incumbent Curt Weldon by 12 points in 2006—I know that was the year of the anti-Bush midterm backlash, but still—and Republican challenger Wendell Williams by 20 points in 2008. And he is polling better than Specter against Toomey head-to-head, trailing by 5 points rather than 9. Meanwhile, Arlen Specter changed party affiliation in 2009 not for ideological reasons, but to avoid Toomey in the Republican primary! But this doesn’t actually mean that Specter is less likely than Sestak to beat Toomey in the general election. Specter reasoned correctly that he is too moderate for the new Tea Republican Party and would not be able to beat him in a Republican-only primary. That does not mean he couldn’t win as a Democrat in a state that has grown increasingly blue. And he has won five of these races before.

As for who would be the more effective Democratic Senator? Specter is a renowned deal-maker and power-player and has been voted one of the ten best Senators as recently as 2006—again the year of the anti-Bush midterm backlash. Despite being a Republican, he has maintained a centrist position over most of his tenure, and has even shifted to the left on social issues. He is pro choice. He is against the hateful Defense of Marriage Act. He voted against impeaching Bill Clinton. He called out the Bush White House on illegal wiretapping of US citizens. And since switching affiliations, he has voted with the White House a staggering 95% of the time! But Sestak is no slouch either. He is an up-and-coming player who House majority leader Steny Hoyer called “the most effective Freshman Congressman.”

Both Specter and Sestak have heartstring-tugging personal stories. Specter survived Hodgkins lymphoma. Sestak’s daughter Alexandra survived the same kind of brain tumor that killed Ted Kennedy. Sestak was born and raised in Delaware County, PA, where I currently live. Specter is from Wichita, KS, not far from where Mrs. Bluejay was born. Specter loves football, having given Roger Goodell a talking to regarding the NFL Network. Sestak and I share a birthday. Ay karamba! It’s enough to make Bluejay use third-person self-reference again! Why can’t we send both of these guys to the Senate and ditch Bob Casey?

At the end of the day, it may not matter. Whoever wins the primary may get taken down by Toomey. Who knows, maybe in a year or two Toomey will change political affiliation to avoid a head-to-head primary with the political ghost of Rick Santorum.

P.S. I’m sure you’ve seen these, but I hadn’t until Mrs. Bluejay sent this link. No commentary necessary.

P.P.S. And from the world of sports, I would not have predicted that the NFL would have a player from China before MLB. Who knows, maybe MLB will win the race for the first Indian player. Meanwhile, despite fewer total players—750 to 1696—MLB is dominating the NFL in terms of number of Jewish players. Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Braun (the Hebrew Hammer), Scott Feldman, Gabe Kapler, Ian Kinsler, Jason Marquis, Scott Schoenweiss, Mike Lieberthal, and 15 years from now, Bluejay Jr. (you heard it here first) vs. Sage Rosenfels, Jay Fiedler (is he still playing?), and Mike Rosenthal (is he still playing also?).